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November 1986
Bogota, Colombia

The Minister of Finance fiddled with the bottle of Chilean Merlot in his hand. For the fourth or fifth time since leaving work, he found himself wondering if this was a good idea.

How did he end up here, inside a car speeding towards Palermo during a massive black out, trying to get to the apartment of a secretary who worked for the ministry? “Birthday party,” Eduardo had said, three days ago. “Please drop by after you are done with work,” he had said. “There will be a huge tres leches cake, your favorite!”

“Are you trying to cozy up to your boss?” César had laughed, sidestepping the question. “A cake is not much of a bribe.”

Eduardo flashed him a guileless expression. “I would never dream of trying to bribe you, esteemed Minister, much less with a cake. You deserve so much more than that.”

Wow, César caught himself thinking while trying very hard not to smile, this boy would not know what subtlety is if it hit him in the face.

He spent the next three days waffling over each subsequent invitation from Eduardo, giving him the very respectable excuse known as work. There was even a kernel of truth in it. In fact, work was how he got himself into this…whatever this was: They had gotten to know each other a lot better during the past month or so, mostly through late-night office chats. Even the best Colombian coffee could only take you so far when you were faced with a veritable mountain of reports, and Eduardo was excellent company. César just wished that he didn’t enjoy it quite this much.

It didn’t help that Eduardo refused to accept defeat. It helped even less that César couldn’t bring himself to flat out say no. What harm could there be for a government minister to wish his subordinate a happy birthday while helping himself to a piece of tres leches cake? César didn’t want to find out. That’s why he had brought the wine into the office this morning, trying to give it to Eduardo as an apology for not being able to make it to the party.

“No,” Eduardo was smiling but there was a finality in his tone, “come over tonight and give it to me in person. I will wait for you. I don’t care how late. Just come, please.”

The word “please”, César noted, sounded more or less like an afterthought.


“Good thing it’s a full moon tonight,” Alfonso rolled the window down as the car slowed to a crawl. “I don’t really know this neighborhood. Probably can’t find the place if the moon wasn’t out.”

“He said it’s around Gernika Park,” César paused, “but don’t worry about it if you can’t find it. With a black out this big, I’m sure the party is already over.”

Alfonso went quiet for a minute, and César was increasingly convinced that they were going to turn back, but then his trusted driver let a satisfied little “ah”, and that was that.

Eduardo’s flat was on the fourth floor of the building. By the time César got to the third, he was already certain the party was quite finished. He sighed to himself before braving the last flight of stairs.

“This better be the best tres leches cake I will ever have in my life,” he announced when Eduardo opened the door. The young man’s eyes widened before breaking into a huge, easy smile. Before he knew it, Eduardo was pulling him in for a pat on the shoulder.

“Happy birthday to me,” said Eduardo in a near sing-song voice.

“Ah, yes. That, too.” This time around, César finally got the cursed wine bottle off his hands. Eduardo grinned thanks, placed it on the table, and grabbed two empty glasses.

“We have work tomorrow,” said César mildly while he watched Eduardo uncorking the bottle. “How many drinks have you had already?” He had to be the responsible adult here, even if he didn’t feel like one.

“Relax, boss, I can still recite a couple of recent decrees by heart.”

César gave up and took a look around the room instead. The huge window was open and moonlight poured in, gilding everything with a cold touch of silver. Aside from messy piles of plates and glasses on the long table, there wasn’t much evidence of a birthday party. Bookcases neatly lined up the walls, but that was to be expected. All in all, this apartment was very…Eduardo.

The sofa looked too cozy for two men while the table chairs were plainly uncomfortable, so when Eduardo returned with their drinks, César took the glass and moved towards the window. Eduardo followed but perched down on the window sill, one knee tucked under his chin and another leg dangling over the inside ledge. César took a gulp of the wine out of a nervousness that he couldn’t explain. Somehow it tasted nothing like his usual nightcap.

“It’s a long way down. Am I going to find your name in El Tiempo's police records section tomorrow?”

“Pilots have good reflexes,” Eduardo murmured over the glass. “Thanks, this is good Merlot.”

He nodded. “Many happy returns.”

“Come sit, please,” Eduardo waved towards the other end of the ledge, and César wanted to laugh at the ridiculousness of such adolescent thrill. Yet the birthday boy looked up at him then, bright as the sun and impossible to refuse. Another “please” and César found himself leaning gingerly against the window frame, words of protestation dying unspoken. It wasn't a comfortable pose, nothing like Eduardo's certain confidence and easy grace.

“Don't worry, I'll catch you if anything happens.”

César raised an eyebrow and shifted his center of gravity. He chanced a look down—a tree-lined street like any other, completely empty save for the deluge of moonlight.

“Surely you are not expecting a birthday serenade.”

“No, I just like sitting here,” said Eduardo softly. “Looking at the sky, it reminds me of flying. Of freedom.”

“Remember, even the best pilot must come back down to earth.” Even as he said it, he recalled that dreamy look on Eduardo’s face back at the airfield, and a tendril of doubt unfurled inside his heart. There must be a different universe, in some perverse dimension, where he had never gone to see Eduardo that day—and then what? ‘He would have to make do with some other bright-eyed young workaholic from Uniandes. They probably would argue with him a lot less, listen to him a lot more, and they certainly would not demand their boss to show up at their birthday party. But then again, they wouldn’t be Eduardo, and that was the real reason behind all of César’s troubles.

—Especially when Trouble was staring at him with such undisguised affection and looking more gorgeous than a lawyer had any right to be. That smile, so earnest and unguarded, made César want to reach out and feel those lips. But that must had been an attack of sudden lunacy; in the seventeen years since Georgetown, he had always been able to walk away.

“Thank you for convincing me to come work for you. That day at the airfield was the best day of my life.”

Now it was César’s turn to smile because he was finally back inside familiar territory. He knew this dance well, it was one he had learned in the venerable corridors of Georgetown and perfected in the marble halls of Bogota.

“Oh?” He sipped on the Merlot and teased, feather-gentle. “Better than the day when you graduated from our beloved alma mater?”

“Of course. It was only the inevitable conclusion of four years of hard work. Nothing special about that.”

“And the day when you received your pilot’s license?”

“My younger brother beat me to it! He started later but finished earlier because he didn’t have to study for the stupid bar entrance exam. All my sisters were absolutely merciless about it.” Eduardo pursed his lips in an almost-pout. César blinked and tightened his grip on the glass. No touching.

“What about the day when you first kissed a girl?”

He regretted it almost as soon as he said it, but his heart was racing and his head dizzy from something other than height or alcohol. Eduardo was no longer smiling but somehow that was worse: he was staring directly at César, his expression suddenly serious.

So much for the dance. So much for the polished cabinet minister with grand ambitions. There was nowhere to hide under the harsh moonlight and, for the first time in forever, César felt naked and defenseless. It was as if the ground was shifting itself underneath him, and he was going to fall and fall and fall—

“I have never kissed a girl.”

“Ah, what a shame,” César heard a breathless whisper. It was his own. “Such a waste, don’t you think?”

Years later, they would argue about who leaned in first; and for once, César put no stock in Eduardo’s version of events—as if he could misremember that moment, as if he could ever forget that red-hot desperation twisting inside him. I will die if I don’t kiss him, he thought. I would rather die.

He closed his eyes and shuddered at the first touch. It was only a close-mouthed kiss, but Eduardo’s lips were soft as anything and everything César had ever dreamed of. He sucked Eduardo’s lower lip lightly, waiting for the invitation. Eduardo made a small, pleased noise in the back of his throat, and César instantly got butterflies in his stomach.

Then Eduardo pulled away.

César stared at him and could only think about how Eduardo’s grey eyes looked almost colorless under the moonlight. The alternative was unthinkable.

“I—I didn’t know you—” Eduardo’s voice faltered a little. “And you are married.”

Relief flooded him and he would have laughed if the butterflies weren’t still there. “Ana doesn’t mind,” he said truthfully, “and not all of us are bad at hiding it.”

Eduardo closed his eyes and let out a little sigh. For a very brief moment, César idly imagined taking off his ring and tossing it out of the window. But then the young man stood up and was on him, spinning him around before pressing him against the wall. Eduardo drew him out and pulled him in with lips and tongue, with hands and knees, with incoherent little grunts that were alarmingly endearing. This was no bathroom or bedsheet fantasy, and he no longer had the sensation that he was going to fall out of the sky. This Eduardo was solid and real, radiating heat through layers of fabric; everywhere he touched, César thought he was going to burst out from his own skin. He dug his fingers into Eduardo’s shoulders, trying to anchor himself but quickly losing. It was a good thing he had jacked off just this morning, thinking about the birthday boy in his birthday suit; otherwise he would be in danger of coming from getting dry humped by his thirteen-years-younger subordinate, fully clothed and the back of his head hitting against a wall. César wasn’t big on pride when it came to sex, but he did want to preserve some semblance of dignity.

He gasped out “couch” when Eduardo finally let go of his mouth, both of them panting for air. They fell into it together, although thanks to the narrow width he landed on top of Eduardo. It took all the willpower César had to prop himself up so that he could survey his prize, lips dark from kissing and messy curls falling over his forehead. “You are so beautiful,” he breathed out the only truth he knew in that moment, “I feel like I’m going blind.”

When Eduardo reached out for him, he obligingly leaned down. It was back to kissing again, this time more playful than urgent. To make up for it, he lifted his body a little and maneuvered a hand in between them, fumbling for Eduardo’s shirt buttons sight unseen. Before long, he was planting a wet trail of kisses down Eduardo’s jawline, his Adam’s apple, his collarbone, and the hollow of his throat. César flicked the tip of his tongue over a nipple and followed with a loving suck, pleased with Eduardo’s sharp intake of breath. When his hand had finally finished with those pesky trouser buttons, both of them sighed in blissful relief.

A shiver went down his spine when he finally got his fingers on Eduardo’s cock. He hadn’t tasted it yet, hadn’t even seen it, but he could already tell he was going to love it. He freed it with a simple pull and sat up a little, feeling like a child about to open his presents on Christmas morning. And what a present it was—César had seen his fair share of cocks, and Eduardo’s was definitely the prettiest of them all: Huge without being monstrous, perfectly groomed, and slightly curved in a way that made César’s mouth salivate. None of his fantasies could compare to the real thing, hot and solid and pulsing against his palm.

He leaned down and nuzzled against it, though he only dared to give it a quick kiss. Then he slicked his palm with spit. “Try to stay still for me, yes?”

When César first got to work, the young man contented himself with little gasps and hisses, but when César caressed right underneath the tip and glided his fingers down, Eduardo began to thrust into his hand. César chuckled something about the impatience of youth and scratched him lightly with nails before moving on to the perineum, but Eduardo’s broken pleas sounded so pretty that soon he was back into the rhythm again, stroking firmly with a calmness that he did not feel.

“I want to taste you after you come all over my hand, bonito.

Still stroking, he arched his back and kissed his way further down, from the expanse of abs to the thin line of hair leading to the navel. César held the skin right above there gently between his teeth, reminding himself to suck instead of bite. Eduardo might have looked like a marble statue lying there awash in moonlight, but he was soft in flesh and burning hot to the touch. César could feel little goosebumps rising and falling with each trembling breath.

“Kiss me,” Eduardo grabbed him by his hair, guiding him back up. “I’m going to—oh, God—”

“I am kissing—” the sentence ended in a chortle and a messy kiss. If it weren’t for the ache building up in his lower abdomen, he probably could go on kissing this boy forever. But Eduardo’s movement was growing frantic, whimpers spilling out between his parted lips.

“César—” he whispered that name once, with such reverence and affection that it could be a prayer, then he went stiff in César’s palm. He clutched onto César so tightly it was bordering on painful, but eventually César did manage to extricate his hand out from the confined space and make good on his promise.

When Eduardo opened his eyes again, César grinned down at him and made a show of licking his own fingers.

“You taste....” he was positively giddy, “different.”

Eduardo bit down on his lips. “It’s because I’m a vegetarian.”

It took a moment for the meaning of those words to sink in because he was distracted by the glorious sight of a rare blush creeping up Eduardo’s cheeks. Hands reached out for his trouser buttons and César flinched at the touch, but then he saw Eduardo’s dark eyes clouded by confusion and was immediately apologetic.

“No, no, I do want you, sweet boy.”

The blush deepened. César leaned down and sighed against Eduardo’s neck: “I want you so much it hurts. You have no idea.” He lapped at the beads of sweat gathered there. “But I really did just come here to wish you a happy birthday. My driver is still waiting for me, and I’m afraid that if I stay any longer, I might never leave.”

All of which were perfectly true, of course, but the real reason remained unspoken. Now that he had seen the rapturous look on Eduardo’s face, the inarticulate, overwhelming need was eclipsed by a prickling fear that refused to settle. Self-preservation, it seemed, had finally kicked in. Whatever this was, it wasn’t going to be some one-night-stand in a foreign country where nobody knew his name. It could ruin him, and he really ought to care a lot more about that than he actually did.

“But you didn’t finish. I...” Eduardo trailed off. Just by looking at him, César could already feel his resolve weakening again. Fuck.

He quickly got off the couch. Half-kneeling, he risked a peck on Eduardo’s cheek. “Believe me, bonito, I’ll be thinking about you when I get back home and take care of it.”

“Okay,” Eduardo mumbled sleepily. “I love you, César.”

He was dumbstruck for a moment, but by some small miracle, Eduardo had already gone out like a light.

“Yes, I know,” he whispered back.

César stood up and located a blanket hanging off the back of an armchair. He draped it over the young man’s sleeping figure, marveling at the carefree innocence on his face. Before leaving, he closed the window to shut out the nighttime chill. But Eduardo didn’t have any curtains, and there was nothing César could do about the relentless moonlight.