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Living After Midnight

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Sharp Dressed Man cover by ProfDrLachfinger

*

"Got gleaming chrome, reflecting steel, loaded, loaded
Ready to take on every deal, loaded, loaded
My pulse is racing, I'm hot to take
This motor's revved up, fit to break"

JUDAS PRIEST – Living After Midnight

*

Gareth stepped through a throng of people. Left and right of him where cluster of men and women dressed in what were most obviously tourists clothes. They wore sturdy sandals, some of them even with socks and of course there was the fair amount of ridiculously patterned shirts with expensive cameras dangling down from sunburned necks. This bus station was a hot spot for tourists to get from the beach back to their hotels and vice versa.

Gareth cradled the cheap plastic bag and its warm contents closer to his chest as he left the bus stop behind and turned his back to the sea, crossing the well traveled street.

Marion hadn't lied, it had been very hard getting in touch with him. After their first encounter in the gay bar and their nightly tumble, it had taken Gareth two weeks to reach the other man on the landline number he had left with him the following morning. But Gareth didn't mind terribly much. Marion had said that he was difficult to contact and Gareth was of the persistent kind. The very persistent kind.

While trying to get a hang on Marion, Gareth had snubbed the first hint of doubt very much in the bud. What if Marion had lied and all the other men he had slept with, actually tried to get in contact with him, he just didn't respond? What if that phone number belonged to someone else and when Gareth finally managed to get through he would only reach a confused person who never even had heard of Marion Cobretti. Then Gareth would have to apologize and say, that he had the wrong number and give up his pursuit entirely.

But no, Marion had given him the number to show that he cared or at least had some interest in meeting Gareth further. So every evening when Gareth came home after working with his charges and dealing with the bureaucracy of police paperwork, he had picked up the phone and dialed the number he already knew by heart.

Finally on the second week after their meeting, Marion picked up the phone.

"Yeah?" the other man said, his voice sounded rough and preoccupied.

"Um, hi … it’s me Gareth," Gareth replied with a shaky laughter in his voice, trying to hide his elation and rising nervousness.

"Gareth!" This time Marion’s dark voice couldn’t hide his surprise and even … joy?

"The very same," Gareth laughed now with more confidence."I just thought I’d call you up … to see if you’d like to meet?“

There was a moment’s silence in which Gareth’s doubt started to grow again, but he suppressed it and twiddled with the phone cable instead. Maybe Marion had an important case he could’t tell him about.

"Yeah sure … of course," Marion agreed but with a cautious tone.

"Great! What would you like to do? We could go to the club again … or maybe eat out in a restaurant?" Gareth offered, daring a careful glance at his slim wallet lying on the kitchen counter next to his grocery shopping.

"Uh … I don’t know,“ Marion mumbled slowly."I don’t think I wanna go out. Tourist season, see."

Gareth felt his heart drop several inches but refused to feel down. "I could get us some Chinese take away and come to your place. You up for that?" Gareth ventured and mimicked Marion’s choice of words from when they had first met.

At that Marion laughed, which gave Gareth confidence.

"Yeah, that would be nice," Marion replied, echoing Gareth from two weeks prior, a hint of a smile playing in his voice.

So they had agreed to meet up the following day and that Gareth would bring the take away and some beers. Marion would provide the rest. Meaning his flat.

Today Gareth had dressed in his favorite ripped jeans, his threadbare chucks and a shirt which originally had the band logo of the Ramones printed on the front, but now showed only half of it, since Gareth had cut the lower part off. He liked dressing in his old clothes he used to wear when he still lived on the streets. They were comfortable and they helped him associate more easily with the youths he met at work. No one trusted a person in a suit. Especially Gareth.

When he entered the small alleyway the wind from the sea picked up but only managed to move the warm and humid air and Gareth was glad for his cropped shirt and his short haircut. The sun was sinking low and gave the ruddy concrete and poster-speckled walls left and right and orange shine. Without much searching Gareth found the entrance to the staircase that lead up to the rooftop flats. Granted, the first time he had come here it had been night, he had been drunk and very preoccupied with keeping his passion in check, but he had memorized every detail. He wanted Marion and that took some effort.

Pushing the food boxes and the clinking beers into one arm, he maneuvered through the first door, crossed the open terrace that overlooked the ocean and went into the little hallway leading to Marion’s door. He knocked carefully.

After some seconds the door swung open and revealed Marion. To Gareth’s amusement the smaller man wore his usual sunglasses, but had chosen a wide, white t-shirt instead of the close fitting sweatshirt from two weeks prior. At that Gareth was a little confused, because he had guessed that Marion liked to show off his very fine build. And the match was missing too. But after all, this was Marion Cobretti, who knew what went on in that head.

"Gareth," Marion exclaimed as if he was surprised to see him.

"Yeah, here I am," Gareth grinned and out of instinct he leaned forward and put and arm around the other man and drew him into a hug, giving him a small peck on the cheek.

For an instant Gareth felt Marion jerk back but then he complied with a strange wincing sound, patted Gareth awkwardly on the back and drew away. There was a lopsided, somewhat apologetic grin on his face.

"Sorry … Should’ve offered to take that," Marion explained and took the plastic bag out of Gareth’s unresisting arm. "Why don’t you come in.“

"Oh that’s no problem with the bags," Gareth assured a little bit confused by the other man’s shy behavior. It wasn’t like they had never touched before.

Shrugging it off, Gareth closed the door behind him and grinned at the memory of their first night together, when Marion had just kicked the door shut driven by heedless lust.

The kitchen was in the same state of lovely disorder as it had been on the morning Gareth woke up in the apartment all by himself. Here too, the sinking sun shone through the window paned roof, creating a warm and relaxed atmosphere. On the left hand side was the short hallway leading to the bath and bedroom, both doors closed. Gareth raised an eyebrow. Tugging thoughtfully at his choker, he followed Marion to the right hand side of the apartment which revealed a cluttered working desk, littered with warrants, profile forms, a quite modern machine for continuous printing and huge windows revealing the broad, white beach and the adjoining promenade.

When Gareth turned away from the view he caught a glimpse of Marion sitting down on the very low sofa in front of a glass topped table. Something in the other man’s movements seemed off. The first time Gareth had seen Marion he had been captured by the fine grace and precision with which the man moved. His average height and his very muscular build didn’t seem to impose on his ability to move as lightly as a dancer when he had knocked out the two bullies who had been beleaguering Gareth in the club. But now, there seemed to be some hesitation in his movements.

Maybe, Gareth thought, he isn’t comfortable with me being here. What if he hadn’t meant to meet Gareth after their one night stand and just hadn’t been able to decline Gareth’s inquiry.

Shaking his head, Gareth followed suit and sat next to Marion on the sofa, who suddenly drew a sharp breath.

"Sorry, I just … swallowed something the wrong way," Marion explain with a weak smile and pushed his sunglasses higher up his nose.

"And you haven’t even tired the Beef Chow Main I brought you," Gareth joked and started untying his shoes, since Marion was barefoot himself. "Sorry, didn’t mean to get your flat dirty.“

"I don't think there are any more ways of getting my flat dirty than I’ve already figured out," Marion replied with a grin.

"Who knows, I’m very inventive," Gareth winked and undid the knot keeping the plastic bag shut.

Chattering away happily, he handed Marion his box of take away, inquired where the bottle opener was and opened two beers. "For the thirst," he added with a sideline glance at Marion.

Marion laughed at that, but then he stopped abruptly and his face went white for a second. Since he still wore his sunglasses, Gareth couldn’t tell what was wrong but the moment he opened his mouth to ask, Marion grinned again.

"Yeah, I shouldn’t try to laugh and swallow at the same time," Marion stated and opened his box, releasing a cloud of steam.

"Multi-tasking isn’t for everybody," Gareth commented easily and dug into his sweet and sour chicken.

While they ate, the conversation remained very casual. Gareth talked about his recent case of a drug addicted seventeen year old, whom he had managed to introduce to a withdrawal therapy and about his ongoing search of that kid’s parents. Marion on the other hand only explained in very broad terms that he had quite a tough case, but he couldn’t reveal too much. Any more information might harm Gareth.

Gareth didn’t mind the secrecy, despite that Marion was very open with anecdotes about himself or his work, but somehow he behaved strangely. All the while Gareth stuffed himself with his chicken, Marion only prodded his beef this way and that, never really taking a bite. Even his beer remained untouched while Gareth had nearly finished his own. Out of the corner of his eye, Gareth studied Marion’s face: It had a zoned out look, his beard stubble showed heavier than the last time they had met and the sunglasses hid most of Marion’s expressions. Other than that his posture was strangely bent forward with his elbows resting on his knees.

"You’re not hungry?" Gareth inquired cautiously as he set his own empty box aside.

Outside the sun had sunk into the ocean, giving way to the bright neon signs of the bars and cafés that opened every evening along the beach. Even the huge Pepsi sign clinging to the wall of the terrace outside was glowing again and illuminated Marion’s whole apartment, casting furniture and clutter into a soft, pink twilight.

"Thought I was," Marion stated but then only twiddled the box in his hands one more time before setting it away.

Gareth wasn’t sure what to make of that. He had been so very sure that Marion wanted to get to know him better. Maybe even start something serious. But the way he behaved tonight didn’t show any of his fierce longing or indeed the interest in Gareth he had shown two weeks before. Maybe it just had been something purely physical and Marion wasn’t the guy who liked to chit chat.

Throwing his caution aside, Gareth made a final attempt to fathom what Marion wanted of him. In a fluid movement, Gareth knelt on the couch, reached out one hand and cupped Marion’s cheek and drew him into a kiss. With his other hand he slowly brushed over Marion’s shoulder, breast and then ribcage.

The push to his sternum, nearly drove the breath out of Gareth as he sat back in shock. In front of him Marion had doubled over and shivered, his mouth twisted in pain.

At first rage started to boil up in Gareth’s gut, threatening to explode in form of a shouting tirade. If Marion hadn’t any interest in him anymore, why lead him on like that? But then every piece of the puzzle clicked into place and Gareth understood. Instantly he got up, switched on the nearest floor lamp and returned to the couch, where Marion sat unmoving, gasping shallow breaths.

Not waiting for a counter reaction, Gareth picked up the sunglasses from Marion’s nose, who’s protests were drowned by his own stifled groan.

The upper left side of the smaller man’s face was bruised. The white of his eye was bloodshot and the skin around it colored an angry violet and blue, fading to green. A careful tug at the wide t-shirt revealed Marion’s finely muscled abdomen and further up his ribcage padded in white bandages and gauze.

"I can explain," Marion coughed and tried to re-adjust his sunglasses in a force of habit.

"You don’t have to explain," Gareth hissed, angry at Marion for keeping silent like that. It all made sense now.

"But I want to," Marion insisted, his dark eyes pleading, but serious. "Two weeks ago I hunted down some psycho killer who thought it was fun to abduct people and beat them to death. Things got out of hand … somewhat.“

Gareth had crossed his arms in front of his chest, suddenly feeling naked in his cropped t-shirt. If that case had been two weeks ago, it was no surprise that Marion was so hard to reach. He must have been on sick-leave from work, lying around in his apartment but too hurt to even answer his phone. Gareth's initial rage started to simmer down.

"And why didn’t you say so on the phone yesterday? We could’ve picked another day," Gareth queried, keeping his voice in check.

At that Marion looked taken aback. His angular face was covered in a thin layer of sweat and his face held a defeated expression while his hair stood about his head in a wild tangle.

"After the last time we met, I didn’t want to disappoint you," Marion admitted and made a nondescript gesture with his hand.

Gareth raised his eyebrows. "Marion, if you think I only came here to have sex with you or that this is the only thing I am interested in, I’d be very disappointed."

Then Gareth’s eyes fell onto the box food and full bottle of beer. The last bit of his anger evaporated instantly.

"You’re full of painkillers, aren’t you?"

A slow nod from Marion.

Gareth sighed deeply, now he was mad at his own stupid blindness to the signs that Marion was hurt. The sunglasses had been strange, but then again, Marion even wore them to the clubs at night. But the huge shirt in order not to strain his ribs, the barely eaten food, the untouched beer and the way he moved and avoided body-contact should have been more than a give away.

A reassuring smile spread on Gareth’s lips as he met Marion’s hopeful and somewhat apologetic gaze. "I’m sorry, Marion, I should’ve realized that you're hurt. I didn’t came here for sex, I came here for you. What do you want?"

Marion smiled weakly, his bloodshot eye giving him a rakish appearance, but other than that he literally looked pretty beaten.

"Rest," he husked, still bent forward.

Gareth’s smile softened even more as he said, "Come here."

He extended his hands, carefully got a hold on Marion’s shoulders, turned him around and supported him while Marion settled down on the couch, his head cradled in Gareth’s lap. Tenderly, Gareth started to work his fingers through the thick dark hair and over the unbruised skin of Marion’s face.

"I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see you again," Marion mumbled, his voice getting sleepier while his eyes already fluttered shut.

Gareth bent forward and placed a small kiss on Marion’s forehead.

"Me neither. But next time you’re hurt, just tell me and you’ll see that I’m harder to separate from you than a bear mum from her cub," Gareth whispered against Marion’s forehead and got a sleepy laugh in return.

Gareth wasn’t sure how long he sat on the couch but he did’t mind. At first he watched the sleeping Marion for some time, realizing that, without his sunglasses and with his face utterly at ease, the dark haired man had a soft and charming cast to his sharp features. Then Gareth's gaze wandered out of the window and over to the sparkling sea and the glittering city that spread along the coast. Well after midnight Marion came to and moaned slightly as he tried to sit up.

"Sorry, I think I need to go to bed," he admitted weakly with a husky voice after his sleep.

"Sure, let me help you," Gareth offered and got an arm around Marion's back. Together they made their slow way through the kitchen and into the bedroom where the king sized bed stood, the blankets and cushions a jumbled mess.

Like the living room the bedroom had also windows in its ceiling so the soft moonlight cast its silvery light over everything. Cautious not to bump into anything and risk letting go of Marion, who had slung an awkward arm around his waist, Gareth switched on the uplight next to the door.

"Those fucking ribs aren’t getting any better, I swear," Marion cursed as Gareth lowered him onto the mattress where Marion instantly lay down.

Gareth chuckled as he knelt in front of the bed. "I know how it feels, I had some cracked ribs years go."

Marion raised a questioning eyebrow while he weakly pushed his cushion into a comfortable position.

"Ah, you know how police officers are. When they found me sleeping in a shop threshold they kicked me a little ‘to help me get up’,“ Gareth explained and helped Marion with the cushion and straightened the bedding.

Marion grimaced. "I don’t like cops myself."

"That’s why you on the Zombie Squad?“ Gareth chuckled and Marion joined in until he sputtered and cursed his ribs once more.

"I really think I should go now, you need some rest," Gareth stated, trying to hide the disappointment in his voice.

Marion only gave a small huff while he trailed his fingers over Gareth's exposed arm. Tugged forward by invisible ropes, Gareth bent down and brought his face close to Marion's. Like this he could see all of the bruises, small cuts and crushed veins that mangled Marion's face.

A sudden and deep surge of affection and longing spread from Gareth's gut and made him tremble all over. Giving into his desire he closed the space between them and kissed Marion softly on the mouth. It was a chaste kiss, not wanting to hurt or rouse the other man more than necessary, but the moment Gareth wanted to withdraw, a hand got hold of his neck and pulled him down again, his choker jingling. Their lips crushed together with a thrilling pain and Gareth slipped his tongue past Marion's lips the instant he began to moan.

Cupping the unbruised side of Marion's head Gareth brought them even closer, wanting to taste more, wanting to deepen the kiss. The grip on his neck tightened before a second hand grabbed his waist, caressing the bare skin. Driven onward by that sensation Gareth bit down on Marion's bottom lip and gave it a playful tug before their kiss broke with both of them panting for heavily needed air.

If Marion's eyes were clouded in pain or in lust or both, Gareth wasn't able to tell, but he savored every second that Marion looked at him like that. The deep brown eyes were full of a soft, but fierce expression that set Gareth's lust on edge.

With a forced, slow exhale Gareth willed down his rising arousal and grinned. "I really should be going now. You do need to rest."

Marion's mouth twitched, as if he wanted to grin but in the diffuse shine of the uplight it was hard to tell.

"Yeah," Marion agreed, his voice had dropped an octave, while his hand still toyed with Gareth's choker absentmindedly.

"Do you need help to get out of your pants?" Gareth asked and tried to sit up but Marion held him in place.

"I …“ Marion began hastily. "Don't think that is necessary, it would just make things more … awkward."

At first Gareth wasn't sure what Marion was getting at. Undressing him wouldn't be awkward at all, they had already passed that stage of intimacy. Sure, Marion might be a proud man and to be at the mercy of someone else must be uncomfortable but really, that shouldn't be a problem between them. Gareth eased himself out of the grip and turned towards Marion's jeans and stopped. Now he saw the problem. In fact, he had already dealt with that problem before and it wasn't necessarily a small one. Marion had a hard-on.

Gareth couldn't suppress the laughter that bubbled up in him. "Well, that could be described as awkward."

"Don't laugh," Marion huffed, slightly offended but too weak to make a full-blown protest. "I have been living two weeks under constant pain and … pressure and it's hard to …" he trailed off and made a vague gesture before letting his hand flop down on the mattress again.

“… masturbate, because it's a pain in the ass?" Gareth concluded for him, still battling his smile.

"Don't say it like that," Marion sputtered and hid his face behind his hand, exasperated. "Makes it sound like a disease."

At Marion's reaction Gareth laughed even more, enjoying to torture the smaller man just a little bit. "Ok, ok … so, jerking off ist painful?"

"Uh, yeah. It's too much friction for the ribs if … I move my arm," Marion admitted defeatedly.

Grinning, Gareth bent down towards a surprised looking Marion and kissed him lovingly on the cheek, caressing the exposed neck with nimble fingers, staying clear of the bruised and beaten torso.

"I'm sure I can help with that," Gareth breathed and tugged at the waistband of Marion's jeans making him gasp.

Sealing Marion's lip with another kiss, this time fueled by a slow determination and longing, Gareth brushed his hand over the rough fabric of Marion's jeans, feeling the soft heat of his arousal pressing against it. The dark haired man moaned into the kiss already sounding eager and desperate. With languid strokes Gareth followed the lean muscles of Marion's thighs downward, before drawing his hand up again, cupping Marion's crotch.

Marion tried to rouse himself and lean into the kiss, his hands grabbing Gareth's back to pull him on top of himself, but Gareth stopped him with a gentle hand on his shoulder.

"Don't strain yourself," he whispered against Marion's lips as the kiss broke. "Let me handle this."

With that Gareth pushed Marion back into the cushions, got up and very carefully crawled into the bed between the fully clad legs. The dark eyes of the other man followed him hungrily, a small hint of frustration showing that he was eager to take things in his own hands, but couldn’t.

Giving Marion a sweet but flirtatious smile, Gareth began to push up the t-shirt that covered Marion’s lower belly. In doing so he revealed luckily unbeaten, tanned skin and taut muscles that rippled with each of Marion’s small movements of anticipation. With an excruciatingly slow tempo Gareth placed a wet kiss just below the navel and started sucking at the sensitive skin. His fingers trailed over the waistband of the jeans towards the button, which Gareth then undid rather nimbly, followed suit by the zipper.

"Gareth …" Marion sighed and raised his hips in order to meet Gareth halfway. But the instant Marion did that, he grunted in pain and stopped, having tensed the muscles running over his rips far too much.

"Shh," Gareth soothed and placed his hands fully on both sides of Marion’s hips, pressing them down gingerly while he continued his kissing, trailing lower and lower. Then his fingers slunk past the waistband of the jeans and boxers beneath and in one gentle movement he pulled them down just far enough.

Exposed like that, Marion gave a moan that he tried to cover with a cough. With growing confidence Gareth curled his fingers around Marion’s erection and started on a slow rhythm, aligning with the licks and nips he placed all over the other man’s hip bones. Each moan and sigh Gareth strokes evoked from Marion made Gareth tremble with arousal and affection himself. He didn’t know how, but he had fallen in love with Marion. He had fallen hard. The first time he had seen him in that bar as he had saved him from the bullies, when he had asked after his well-being, all of that made Gareth’s heart thrum with love. And he intended on showing it tonight with each touch, caress and kiss he could muster.

Marion’s breathing grew heavier by the minute and finally Gareth stopped his stroking and ran a warm tongue over the whole length of Marion’s erection before taking it in fully.

"Fuck," was all Marion choked out before a heavy moan washed over his lips.

Grinning, Gareth worked himself up and down, his hands ghosting over the flat belly exposed before him, always staying clear of the bruised rips. Beneath him Marion bucked his hips, apparently oblivious to all the pain it must cause him, his body flooded with need and adrenaline. A hand buried itself in the longer strands of Gareth’s hair and short fingernails ran tingling trails over the sensitive skin beneath.

A string of unintelligible words erupted from Marion as Gareth took a firmer hold on Marion’s thighs, swallowed him deep again and made him come.

For one slow second the world seemed to stop turning. Gareth felt the shuddering and twitching body of Marion underneath his palms and the dizzying feeling of joy and love washed over him, making him soar. Gareth swallowed and sat up gingerly. In front of him lay Marion who had hidden his face behind one hand that now slid away and revealed his flushed face, his eyes unfocused but a blissful smile playing on his lips.

Lovingly, Gareth ran his hands over the flushed skin and savored the feeling of its smoothness and the firm curves of muscles beneath.

"That was … fuck," Marion breathed, his chest rising and falling, but apparently without pain.

"Hm yeah, I thought so, too," Gareth chuckled and slid from the bed in a swift move, heading for the bathroom next door.

When Gareth returned to the bedroom Marion of course hadn’t moved a bit, he still sprawled spread-legged on the mess of sheets and cushions. With let down pants.

Marion turned his head with an exasperatedly raised eyebrow, that couldn’t hide the fact that he was grinning like a maniac. "Would you mind terribly much …" he said and indicated his state of undress.

Grinning to himself, Gareth walked up to the bed and with a mischievous gleam in his eyes, pulled down the rest of Marion’s jeans who groaned. But then Gareth knelt on the bed again and drew up the boxer shorts so Marion could keep his modesty. What ever part of it had managed to remain intact.

"Now, will you be able to sleep?" Gareth wanted to now and placed a kiss on Marion’s sweaty forehead.

"Maybe,“ Marion murmured and pulled Gareth into a slow, languid kiss, running his tongue over Gareth’s lips. "If you’ll stay."

In his chest Gareth’s heart was racing like a rollercoaster. All of his doubt and the bumpy start of their meeting today were completely forgotten. Marion still wanted to be with Gareth and maybe … just maybe, thought about something more permanent, too.

"I’d love to," Gareth replied.

With slightly unsteady hands, Gareth unbuttoned his jeans and cast them off. Then he climbed back into bed, making sure to use the right side so he wouldn’t accidentally nudge against Marion’s injured left one. Settling down, Marion slung his arm around Gareth’s back and drew him close so that Gareth could rest his head on Marion’s chest where the bruising abated. When Gareth had found a comfortable position Marion turned his head and buried his face in Gareth’s fiery red hair, inhaling softly.

After a time of silent, but deeply affectionate proximity Gareth looked up at Marion and asked, "Will you be here tomorrow? Not to sound demanding or anything … I just wondered."

Marion’s embrace tightened and he placed a lingering kiss on Gareth’s head. "I won’t be going anywhere."

 

~ FIN ~