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Birthday

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It'd been more than a month since Georges had left.

Looking at the scenery changing outside a window and not really seeing it, Robert wondered how he had survived. The train was swaying; there wasn't many passengers in the car - an older woman dozing in the corner, a man reading a paper, but most of the seats was free. The clatter of the train lulled - and conduced to thinking.

For past weeks, he had been avoiding thinking, as much as he could. Paradoxically, his grades had never been so high before. During lessons, he had been focusing maximally and, after coming home, he had been studying until night. He didn't believe that discipline he had forced onto himself would prove in the long run, but it worked well for now. He knew that, had he let himself, he would plunge into a memory of golden hair and green eyes, touch of soft lips and gentle hands... and it would do him no good. Before he noticed, he had become a top student. Teachers were amazed at his progress, father - for the first time in his life - couldn't pick on him, and Hanna was beaming. The funniest of it all was the fact he had never before felt so deprived of any motivation to studying. Or, rather... not really studying but going to school in general.

Georges had left, changed the scenery and now studied somewhere else and with someone else. He spent time with someone else, while Robert was left with the messages they exchanged - in the late hour of night when he let himself, if only for a moment, forget the study and return to what was the essence of his life. What made him breathe. Those messages and that ring, twin sister of the one Georges had... He lifted his hand to look at it, like he used to do so often. It calmed him down whenever he started to wonder how much Georges' life had changed and how much - if - Georges himself had changed. The visions that had crossed his mind during those few weeks - an eternity, to him - were so ridiculous he would laugh at himself if not for this constant tension. Yes, one glance at the ring made him calm - but, to be frank, he was never really calm.

At first, they had even been calling themselves. Georges had learned how to use a mobile phone in a flash, and he was using it at will. Or, rather, he would be using it at will... After only few days they'd had to give up that form of communication. Robert could only guess if it was the same with Georges, but him each of their talks had left completely disordered. He'd had to muster all his will not to drop everything, run to the railway station and get on the first train heading Fontano.

The text messages were safer, although not very much. It didn't change the fact that sometimes it had been hard for him to fall asleep, and, when he had been lying in his bed, rolling over and unsuccessfully trying to drive away the visions of slender body in his arms, he had wondered whether Georges had been feeling the same. Sometimes, a more bold message had been followed by a break, few days, that had gave him time to regain his balance, a bit - although, at the same time, he hadn't wished anything more than to hear the well-known tone again...

Taking it all into consideration, he'd done really well with hiding his mood. His classmates had stopped commenting his behaviour, which meant he hadn't attracted attention any more - and it was convenient. Only occasionally Henri or Alain would pat him on the shoulder, as if to cheer him up; after all, they knew...

But today he wasn't going to think of Henri or Alain. The scenery outside the window was sparkling in the light of the spring sun; the train was rolling on the track, its regular swaying relaxing. The previous night he hadn't got enough sleep - obviously thanks to the talk they'd had with Georges on the messages. Now, he was staying in the pleasant dullness: his body relatively tired and his mind wandering freely...

When they had been together, everything had seemed so easy. They would be together, would talk, would walk, covertly holding hands. Sometimes, he would embrace Georges, and Georges would curl on to him. Sometimes, they would exchange kisses, furtive, indiscreet, but so sweet. Georges' scent and taste would intoxicate. There was nothing Robert desired more than to be with his angel, who - he knew that well - had never been an angel.

He had thought that distance and time would subdue those sensations. He had been sure he would be able to lead a normal life, consisted of school and home... And that secret love, yeah, but it didn't count as a normal life, after all. Instead, every day - every word received from Georges - had fuelled his longing. He didn't even know what he wanted; however, he was pretty sure that, was Georges in his arms now, it wouldn't end in innocent kisses.

When Georges will be in his arms...

He felt the wave of heat creeping onto his face. No, definitely, the separation had subdued nothing. He rested his head on the glass, feeling relieved at its cool. He stared at the greenness and spring in full bloom, aware that April would always make him think of Georges...

Today was tenth of April. Georges' sixteenth birthday. Robert was sitting in the train to Fontano and going to meet with his... his beloved person. Georges had arranged himself a free day on this occasion, and Robert hadn't spared a single thought on going to school. Today he didn't intend to think of school, or Idealo, or anything other than that after many weeks he was going to see the boy his all longed for. Oh, how much he had desired to visit him earlier! Georges had wanted too, he knew it. The distant wasn't really a big deal - some hours by train, and he would be there - but, for some reason, Georges had insisted that they waited until his birthday, and Robert could only go along with it. Georges probably had his days absolutely full: with school and many hours of piano practice afterwards. It seemed Madame Blanche had two passions: her garden and piano music, and she gave herself up to it completely. Georges had mentioned he had no moment to spare - but he didn't really complain. He was given the possibility to develop his talent, and by well-known celebrity who covered all expenses, on top of it. He must have been grateful - and he was indeed. And his love life must have waited, or so it seemed.

Robert sighed. In fact, that time had passed quickly. What remained unclear, however, was how long exactly Georges would stay at Madame Blanche's place. They had never really got to this topic. In desperation, Robert even considered swallowing his pride and asking Laurent, whose relation with the pianist seemed no less than friendly. Brother's avoiding the subject was driving him mad, and he couldn't resist the impression that Laurent had much fun doing it - but he really must have imagined things, for there was no reason for Laurent to assume that Georges Saphir's education had any meaning to him. To tell the truth, Robert didn't care that much, for one was clear: he wasn't going to stand any longer without Georges, definitely not next few weeks. He would somehow figure out how they could meet more often.

Despite all those emotions swirling in him, he managed to nod off for a while. He woke up slightly confused and only then realized it was the phone. A message from his father, 'Where have you gone?' He snorted, realizing another surprise of his life: his father had learned how to send text messages. For a moment, he stared at the screen, fighting the urge to turn the phone off, and then he replied with a sigh, 'I'm all right. I'll call later.'

After all that mess with Georges, that had been near to end tragically, he attached more weight to staying in touch with others. Before, he had neither given a damn about his relatives nor wished for their presence and attention. It would be all the same to him what they were thinking about him. He would hate the feeling they wanted something from him. Georges had changed this as well. At the memory of that horrible day that had fortunately brought them together, although it might have as well separated them for ever, Robert was in a cold sweat. When Georges had disappeared... When he had lost contact with him, had no idea where Georges had been and what had happened to him... And he hadn't been the only one who'd felt like this; Henri and Georges' mother had been going through it, too. That time he had realized how important it was to never leave others uninformed. Even if it was annoying, he didn't want to expose those who cared for him to such torment. He was going to contact them later anyway. Later...

He ran his hand through his hair and looked outside again. The scenery had changed: now there was less woods and orchard, but more fields and gardens. The sun was high in the sky; the noon was near, which meant he would soon reach his destination. Indeed, a moment later a conductor informed him they would arrive at Fontano in a quarter. Sleep had calmed him a bit, but now Robert was under the impression all his senses turned twice as alerted. Tension was almost physical. He took a couple of deep breaths, trying to overcome a tremble. Suddenly, he was absolutely positive that once he got Georges in his arms, he wouldn't be able to let him.

Finally, the train slowed down, and the first buildings appeared. Robert was too excited to pay attention to the surroundings. The only what mattered for him in this city was Georges' presence. And Georges had promised to await him. Once the train stopped, the passengers started to get off. Robert had to wait a while for his turn, for quite a lot of people had boarded the train during his nap, and now they were slowly leaving the car...

The day was beautiful indeed. The warm air, smelling of spring flowers, hit his face when he stood on the platform. The joyful buzz made by visitors and welcomers seemed to come from afar, drowned out by the rush of blood in his head. Blessing his height, he was looking around, slightly confused - and then he saw him. Georges was standing right by the entrance to the platform. The sunlight was shimmering on his golden hair, but it couldn't compare with a happy expression that brightened his face once his green eyes caught Robert's gaze. The next moment they found themselves in each other's arms.


The moment Georges saw Robert all his fears vanished.

He worried about everyone he had left in Idealo. About mother, Henri and Freddy. Of course, they kept writing letters, all the time. They phoned each other. They were all right. It didn't lessen his anxiety a bit. He simply was like this. He cared for his important people and worried about them most. People caused him happy, so he continuously - always - feared something might happen to them. He couldn't trust his happiness completely, believe it would just last, so all the time, again and again, he was fighting the fear it would be taken away from him. Usually, that qualm was subconscious and didn't interfere with his focus on duties, but once he let himself feel it, it almost overwhelmed him.

Robert was the most important person to him - so concern for Robert was strongest. Apparently, it had to be this way. How was he doing? How was his school? How was it going with his classmates? Had he reconciled with his father, if only a bit? Was his attitude to religion still so ambivalent? Was he healthy? Was he all right? Did he still think of Georges? Had he changed? Would he really come? Thousands of questions, sometimes even doubts, crossed his mind whenever he allowed it.

But now they were all chased away by one look of those blue eyes under the dark hair. Robert was here. And he was exactly like Georges remembered him.

Without restraint, he hurled himself in Robert's arms. Here, on the platform, they could do it - all around people were exchanging greetings and embracing, just like them. It belonged to the situation, and they might as well use it. He held Robert with all his might, wondering how he had survived those weeks when he'd had only messages and memories. But it didn't matter any more since now - here - Robert was with him. Strong arms wrapped around his shoulders, and he could feel the muscles, tense under the clothing. This alone told him that, had it been not for all those people, Robert certainly would...

He felt dizzy, and it took all his willpower to get out of those arms, for most in the world he wanted to stay in their embrace. He mustered his courage and then looked up, in Robert's eyes. The expression on Robert's face made his smile fade away. He almost let a sigh upon seeing what burned in those darkened eyes. Robert tried to smile, but it was obvious he was too overwhelmed. Georges felt his lips tremble. If only they could...

Whistle of the stationmaster rouse them from the trance they had been. Georges looked around quickly. Robert run his hand through the hair.

"You haven't grown at all."

"I think I've grown a bit."

They spoke at the same time - and then, once first astonishment was gone, burst out laughing together. Georges took Robert by the hand and pulled to the exit. Behind them, the train was slowly pulling out of the station to continue its journey. Georges felt happiness feeling him. They still could laugh together - and it was absolutely wonderful to hear Robert's voice after so long time.

"I'm glad you've come," he said outright.

"I wouldn't last any longer," Robert replied, suppressed emotions in his words.

Georges looked at him at a slant and said nothing. Suddenly, he felt he wouldn't stand such separation again. Those few weeks had passed very quickly and seemed slightly unreal, but the very thought about parting with Robert again arouse the violent opposition. But no, today he wasn't going to nibble at it. Today was a holiday, and he intended to devote it to Robert.

"Really? I haven't got taller at all?" he asked, laughing. "Must be sitting by the piano all days."

"Or you don't eat enough."

"Vegetables are home-grown!"

"If you want to grow on vegetables, then keep trying," Robert threw in.

Georges laughed again. He was so happy he could embrace the whole world. He looked at Robert, who seemed to relax. A breeze played with his hair. Georges wished he could take him by the arm - this road wasn't well-trodden, but still... Robert, as if reading his mind, folded his arms and was walking with eyes fixed ahead. Georges sighed inwardly.

"Where are we going, anyway?" Robert asked once they left the buildings and took what looked like a cart track at best.

"To Madame Blanche's residence," Georges answered, getting a slant look in reply. "She lives two miles from the city. It's a very beautiful place," he went on. "I want to show you the gardens..."

"I didn't come here to contemplate the gardens..." Robert started, coming to a halt.

"Shh," Georges shook his head. "You will like it."

Robert stared at him for a while and then nodded. "I will go wherever you take me," he said quietly, resuming his walk.

Georges swallowed and rushed to catch up to him - some centimetres away. He knew that he had to control himself, otherwise he would simply jump at Robert and... they would cause a scandal. To tell the truth, the only witnesses they had were the cows grazing nearby, yet... He had to wait. For now, he considered it a success he had managed to steady his breath. He had forgotten… he had really forgotten how deep Robert's voice was... and now Robert's every word made his blood rush faster in his veins... He had to focus on something, like scenery, like blue of the sky... But the scent of the spring made him dizzy, intoxicated.

"Your mother feels well," came from Robert, and Georges was grateful to him. Those topics were safer. "Sometimes, I take her for a walk..."

They spent the next hour talking. Robert told how things were going in Idealo, at school, and how all people Georges had left in his hometown were doing. Georges told about his new school and studying, about Madame Blanche and Laurent. Once they focused on neutral issues, it was easier. Even if Georges knew it all from the letters, calls and text messages, there was nothing bad in speaking about it with Robert. Especially than Robert enriched the story with his own comments, often acrid. Soon, Georges had to wipe the tears from the corners of his eyes, he was laughing so hard thanks to Robert's way of speaking. When they reached the gates of the residence, they were both laughing.

Simultaneously, Georges was observing Robert and couldn't not notice how the latter's demeanour changed once he realized they were finally there. During the walk, Robert had managed to relax, but now his usual vigilance was back. He fell silent, looking around, when they were crossing the well-kept yard and heading for the main door. The estate was enormous, covered mostly by gardens, but the house itself wasn't that big, certainly not bigger than Robert's own. Nevertheless, it was an unfamiliar place and, as such, required notice.

In the hall waited Sophie, the maid, who greeted them and showed them to the dining room. "The meal is ready."


Robert was surprised, and by many things. First, the landlady hadn't appeared, and, at the same time, it seemed he had been awaited. Second, the house seemed strangely empty. Third, Georges' behaviour had suddenly changed; Robert couldn't quite define that difference, but it seemed much more neutral now. Well, it did make sense since they weren't alone any more; still, Robert was surprised - and kept suppressing the sudden fear, so foolish, Georges would stay like this... He looked at Georges questioningly, but the boy merely said, "You must be hungry. I am."

They washed their hands and moved to the dining room, where two sets were awaiting them. The meal was light, two course, and surprisingly tasty. Surprisingly because Robert hadn't expected his nervousness to allow him to swallow down anything, regardless of his hunger resulting from the fact that in the morning he had eaten only a fast breakfast. They didn't talk and, from time to time, only exchange cautious looks no outsider wouldn't find improper.

Robert had yet to surprise even more when the last dishes were gathered by the kitchen maid. Then Georges dismissed both woman, who said goodbye and wished him a nice evening, and then stood next to the high window and was simply looking outside for a while. Robert didn't say anything and didn't move, merely regarding his slender silhouette bathed in the soft light of afternoon.

"Madame Blanche took me as her student, but our relationship is more like of a child and a parent," the boy said in his high voice that seemed strangely calm and almost indifferent; so indifferent it had to hide more. "She is quite eccentric, but very good as a person. When I came here, she told me to feel at home here, in every meaning. Today, as you see, I'm going to take the liberty of doing so. Madame Blanche has left with Laurent, she will be absent until Sunday, and I have just send away the only people who have been here besides us."

He turned around. His eyes were wide open and filled with such passion and such hunger Robert had never seen in them. He gulped and got up, nearly becoming tangled in the tablecloth, to come up to him.

"We have three days," Georges said, his expression still mad, and Robert felt dizzy upon realizing the meaning of those words, "...and three... nights," Georges added in a lower, breaking voice, lowering his eyes.

Robert stopped dead in his tracks, trying to overcome the trembling of his hands. No way, he was trembling all over - from the desire to take Georges in his arms and... and...

He turned back. No, he couldn't. Not here... He swallowed, clenching his fists.

"Robert...?"

"Let's... let's go... to the g-garden," he choked.

Yes, to the garden, good idea. There wasn't enough air here. He took a couple of breaths, closing his eyes and waiting for the world to stop spinning. Something between a moan and a sigh came from Georges, and then a slender hand slipped into his.

"Let's... go," Georges said in a hoarse voice and pulled him along.

It was even warmer outside than before, but Robert didn't care, for he was burning with the heat far greater than that of the spring sun. Georges was leading him into the garden, and Robert could see only his cheek, as flushed as, he supposed, his own. He took some deeper breaths, wondering how he was going to last, how had he last so far and what was going to happen... what he could do... what he should do... For now, he was focusing on how to breathe.

They walked - ran - for a while. He didn't look at the scenery, concentrating on remaining conscious, and suddenly he realized they must have been far from the house already. The plants were exuberant here, the bushes higher, and even the trees appeared - so different from those well-groomed flower beds he had seen around the residence. All of the sudden, on the soft carpet of grass, an gazebo emerged - a simple construction of a roof supported on five piles. Inside, a table and two chairs. On the table, he came closer, a cake. Birthday cake. For a moment, he stood like a post, calming his breath, then rubbed his hand against his forehead and brushed his hair back.

This was why he had come here. Yes, it was.

Georges stopped next to him - so close Robert could sense warmth coming from his body. He wanted to embrace him, but then Georges grasped at his sleeve. Robert turned his head and looked at him, at his sixteen years old angel who had stolen his heart long, long ago.

"Happy Birthday," he said quietly, with affection, leaning towards him the very same moment Georges lifted his face towards him.

It was supposed to be a gentle kiss, but the moment Georges' lips touched his lips, the world under Robert's eye-lids exploded. The next thing he knew was that they were kissing like they had never kissed before: fiercely, passionately, wildly. He was crushing George's lips, realizing with some part of his brain he was hurting him - and couldn't stop. Not that Georges seemed to have anything against, moaning softly into his mouth and pulling his head down in a very decisive way. Then his lips parted, letting Robert in, while Robert was squashing his slim shoulders in the embrace. Soon, they were short of breath, but they didn't stop, couldn't stop, clinging to each other as if they never were going - wanted - to separate.

The time lost its meaning, and the world around ceased existing. Robert's reality was neared down to what he could touch and sense. Smell of Georges' hair and taste of his lips; the muscles, tense under the clothing, and the sixteen year old boy's body, pressed to his own. They parted to take a breath... and sank in each other again, expressing all their longing, yearning and affection in such a simple and explicit way. Later, when he remembered how to think again, Robert would wonder how he had managed to live for over a month without it.

Finally, they broke away, breathing deeply. Georges rested his head on Robert's chest, embracing him tenderly. Robert buried his face in Georges' hair, holding him tightly. He thought he wanted to press Georges to his very heart. And he wondered whether Georges had really grown a bit.

"I missed you," Georges whispered, as if he didn't trust his voice.

"I missed you, too," Robert replied as quietly. He could hold Georges in his arms again, and nothing in the world could best this feeling. As long as he was concerned, they could stay like this for ever.

"Every night..." Georges muttered, "every night I imagine... you're with me..."

"I'm with you now," Robert whispered.

"That you're with me... I imagine your kisses... I yearn for them so much..." Robert gulped. "I imagine you hold me... like this..." Robert's arms twitched. "I imagine the touch of your skin... all over..." Georges' fingers clutched at the fabric of his jacket. Georges lifted his face towards him; his lips trembled, and his eyelids were half closed. "I imagine you're with me and I let you make anything to me."

Robert closed his eyes, trying to overcome another dizziness. He was under the impression he did want to do anything to Georges... but it was rather vague term. 'I'd gladly take some hints," he thought somewhat hysterically. "Te-tell me... what you want," he stammered out.

"I want..." Georges started and kissed him, and then moved his lips towards his ear, "I want you to touch me," he whispered.

Robert decided the best way to help his dizziness was to sit down, and then he pulled Georges on the grass, too.

"And you... what do you imagine... when you're alone?" Georges asked between the kisses, sliding his fingers under the collar of Robert's shirt.

"That I hold you in my arms... and... nothing is between us..." he said in a coarse voice, adding 'the clothing' in his mind.

Georges nodded and started do unbutton Robert's shirt, and Robert quickly returned the favour, amazed at the clumsiness of his fingers. Georges' lips were so close, trembling, his long eye-lashes cast shadows onto his lips, and his hair was already dump over his forehead. He seemed so perfect, passionate, yearning for fulfilment with every cell of his body, and still so innocent... Robert leaned his head back and closed his eyes, wishing the heat that didn't let him think subsided. He should have inquired after... he should have realized... before he had came here... But he hadn't expected... hadn't assumed... He had thought he would just take Georges in his arms and... and...

Georges undid the last button and was regarding him, his vision slightly more lucid now. His face was flushed, lips swollen, and his green eyes glistened... Robert stretched his hand and touch the boy's cheek. Georges closed his eyes, resting on Robert's palm. Robert swallowed... He loved him so much... and wanted him so much... it hurt.

"Georges... have you ever..." Georges shook his head, eyes still closed. "Me either," Robert whispered, not sure whether he wasn't making a fool of himself. Judging from Georges' reaction, he didn't.

Georges pushed him onto the grass. "You can do to me whatever you want," he whispered. "Any way you want," he added, and his voice rang with a smile.

Robert moaned when the bare skin brushed against his own. He embraced the slim shoulders and held tight. Georges was so frail in his arms, and Robert hesitated. Could he really...? No, if he thought it over, he couldn't, for many reasons, he shouldn't, he wasn't allowed...

"Are you sure?" he whispered in Georges' hair.

"I'm sixteen," Georges answered, and his voice was assumed to explain and justify everything.

Robert moaned again and already knew he had lost. The last doubt vanished from his mind. He sat up, moving his trembling hands under Georges' shirt, over his ribs. Georges leaned his head back and gasped. Then he looked Robert in the eye and flung the jacket and shirt off. His skin was so pale and smooth... He was breathing faster and faster, just like Robert himself. Robert took his upper garment off, too, but the heat didn't lessen in the slightest... He couldn't take his eyes off Georges' slim shoulders and flat stomach. He reached and moved his finger from the clavicle downwards, brushing against the darker point on the way. Georges suppressed a sudden cry, and Robert did it again, trying to overcome the trembling of his hands. Georges closed his eyes and pulled him into another kiss, trying out a newly acquired trick. When his fingers stroked Robert's left nipple, it felt as if the sparks ran through his brain. He gasped and grabbed Georges' hands, trying to calm the pounding of his heart. During the next kiss, Georges pushed him onto the grass again, his fingers wandering over Robert's chest and stomach. Before he realized, those gentle and agile fingers slid under the belt of his trousers.

He pulled away from the kiss, which made Georges give a cry of protest, but the next moment it was Georges, who was lying on the grass, and Robert was leaning over him.

"You told me to do whatever I want... so give me a chance," he whispered.

Georges moaned, but it was soon silenced by another kiss. Robert's hand moved over his chest, staying longer in the places that seemed to react most to the touch - judging from the noises Georges was making into his mouth. Then, trying to remain conscious, he slid the hand into Georges' trousers. Georges turned his head to the side, but then pulled Robert down in a very possessive way and fiercely kissed him back again.

Robert wished for this moment to last longer, but he was to aroused, having his hand there... holding it... Georges wiggled under him, moaning softly and clearly demanding Robert continued, although he seemed to abide in some other dimension at the same time. Robert couldn't resist him, he could never resist... Some moves, very gentle, as if he was just acquainting with that new he hadn't known so far, though it was so similar to his own... His own wanted it, too... Robert swallowed, trying to focus on what he was doing... A few more moves, up and down... Touching someone else in this way... was so different from touching himself...

A spasm run through Georges' body, and then the tension fell. Georges was breathing quickly, flushed, his eye-lids shut... Robert looked at him, although his vision was spinning and he was shivering himself... He had done it... to Georges... And it was... good.

He fell onto the grass, panting.

"Thank you," Georges whispered, rolling over and resting his head on Robert's chest.

Robert was too overwhelmed to reply, but the words warmed his heart. He had done something, after all, despite his complete inexperience and ignorance. He smiled, letting his eye-lids fall.

He opened them right away upon feeling the curious and lively fingers move down his stomach. No... he couldn't...

"My turn now," Georges said, his warm breath brushing against Robert's chest.

Robert moaned, trying to protest - and he didn't knew why.

"My turn now," Georges repeated, his voice more decisive though shaking.

Robert covered his face. He couldn't look him in the eye. He was burning. He wasn't able to hold back a moan when the hot fingertips were moving down... He clenched his fists and forced himself to lay quietly under that touch. The humming of the blood in his ears drowned out all sounds, but he tried to focus on the scenery to remain calm. Blades of the grass were tickling his cheek. Leaves of an apple tree were green. The sky was blue... Georges' fingers were shaking, untrained but eager. Besides... Damn it, he wasn't the top student for nothing - why not for his ability to learn things quickly? Robert felt the muscles of his legs tense as Georges' hand moved down to finally - clumsily but victoriously - hold what it wanted.

"Yes," he moaned and heard Georges let out a breath he must have been holding for a while.

It touched him, somehow, but soon he forgot all that sentimentality when Georges moved his hand, just like himself a minute ago. Robert pressed his lips tight. His focus on the scenery evaporated, but, in fact, he didn't need it. Georges, as if trying, shyly, repeated a move, and Robert felt he smiled. Paradoxically, there was something so absolutely wonderful in that impression - and he couldn't chase it away until it was over. He was panting, fulfilled not only physically... Slowly, Georges took his hand away; he was breathing fast, too. Robert hugged him, and for a while they were simply laying like this. He had never imagined it was possible to feel such a strong intimacy with another person.

He was happy. The day was beautiful, a warm and joyful day of spring. His beloved person was right by his side. They would face difficulties one day - though he wasn't going to think about them - but he was sure they were able to strengthen their bond even more today.

And April would always make him think of Georges. By the way...

"Happy Birthday," he whispered into Georges' hair.

"It can't be more happy," Georges answered, smiling.

Robert chuckled. This time, he kept his thoughts to himself.


It wasn't the best love-making of all times, but Robert had no intention to feel guilty. Every next try - and they had three days and three night - made them improve. Robert was sure there was much more, a whole new world of sensations neither of them wasn't aware of yet - and the next time they met he was going to show theoretical minimum, at least. He already knew whom he was going to obtain it from. The problem was when and where that next time would happen...


The bells were ringing at noon when Laurent Onyx's car was driving in the yard of the residence. Georges ran his eyes through the windows, hoping to see the well-known face... It had taken him only a moment to consider Laurent's proposal to go to Idealo, for Easter, together. It solved many problems. Mother would have surely come to meet him at the station, maybe Henri, too... or even Freddy...! He did miss them terribly and wanted to see them, every day... but it was Robert he missed most, even though they had seen each other not even two weeks earlier... Funny. He almost blushed. Anyway, the welcoming committee would have made impossible any tête-à-tête with Robert, and now maybe Robert would "offer" to walk him home...

Somewhat perplexed, Georges thought he had turned into a manipulator.

It took him a while to realize Laurent was regarding him closely, and he smiled, hoping the previous thoughts weren't reflected on his face. It was easy to handle a situation with a smile.

"You know I have a summer cottage in Perlo," Laurent said unawares. Georges nodded; Perlo was but a one stop from Fontano. "It's empty for most of the year," Robert's brother went on, "and I'm certainly not going to need it before next summer." Georges nodded again, although he had no idea where this conversation would take him. He knew, of course, about the journey Laurent set out on right after the Easter... "I thought you could sometimes drop in and see if everything is okay. I'd leave you a key, you could feel yourself at home and even invite some friend from time to time." Now Georges was looking at him as if he had never seen him before. "I convinced Blanche to give you a free weekend every other week... It seems my reasoning about how a mind need to rest in the bosom of... pleasures... was effective." Georges was under the impression his eyes were getting rounder and rounder. "What say you?"

At the moment, Georges couldn't utter a world, but he was absolutely sure of one thing: Laurent Onyx was the most frightening man in the world. Laurent smiled the way only he could and patted him on the shoulder.

"Youth is wonderful, isn't it?" he said. "Not that I consider myself old..." he added, a nostalgic tone in his voice, "but I can't compare with you, the young ones."

Georges nodded, still speechless. Apparently, Laurent was awaiting his answer, so he tried to find his tongue. "With great... pleasure I'll come over to your cottage and... and make sure everything is all right, sir" he stammered.

Laurent beamed ever more. "And don't forget about the company!"

Georges nodded again.

He didn't remember how he'd got out of the car, clinging to the only thing that seemed real: a cold key in his hand. After all, he was happy he didn't see Robert on the yard - he wouldn't like to show him the face of an idiot. Besides, he wasn't sure about how he would react seeing him. It was wise to proceed with caution, especially that he didn't know how much Laurent suspected.

But, he decided he would think about it later. His fingers clutched around the key as he slowly realized what he had acquired and how much - knowingly or not - Laurent had just given him. He smiled widely and turned to the man, calling, "Thank you!"

He couldn't wait to see Robert's face once he told him about it. It was going to be a sight, undoubtedly.