PART IV: GOING DEEPER

by elfin


“Do you remember something you said to me once?  There’s no such thing as magic, real magic....”
  – from ‘Black Canary’
 

“…so you produce these two wine glasses out of thin air and fill them from an invisible bottle.  Then you ask the assistant, who’s sitting in the audience, if she’d like to come up and join you in a toast.”
They were sitting on the edge of Maskelyne’s full-size Eight-Ball Pool table, Jonathan explaining the provisional story-board he’d drawn up for the set for ‘Skin’ which was scattered across the green baize.  Adam sat behind him, one leg dangling, the other up on the table, bent at the knee.  His chest was flush with Jonathan’s right side, his chin rested on the other’s shoulder, one arm supporting him while the other was wrapped around Jonathan’s waist.  He was trying to give the incredibly detailed drawings his full attention, but this was the first time they’d managed to be alone together in the last two weeks, and Adam was, to say the least, distracted by having his part-time lover close by.

Over the last fourteen days, Adam had found himself becoming increasingly aware of his creative consultant whenever he was around.  The new season started in a week.  Three and a half months of performances five nights a week with a Sunday matinee, three kids’ specials – one a month – and seven live television broadcasts.  The only days the team had off were Tuesdays, and they would be used for preparation and rehearsals of new tricks.  On top of all that, Adam wanted to fit his performance at ‘Skin’ into their busy schedule, a performance that his usual entourage would not be privy to.  It meant rehearsals in private… just the two of them, if he could persuade Jonathan that he’d make the perfect assistant for that night, which he doubted he could.  Certainly the assistant Jonathan evidently had in mind was female.

Taking his eyes from the story-board for a moment, Adam leaned in to touch his lips to the exposed nape of Jonathan’s neck.  It worried him slightly that sitting here on the pool table with the Saturday afternoon sun streaming in through the patio felt like a small slice of heaven on earth.
“I want you to be with me on that stage,” he murmured softly.
Jonathan pulled back slightly, turning his head.  “Dream on, Adam.”
“Who else am I going to take to the club?”
Jonathan shrugged.  “That isn’t my problem.  I’m your creative consultant, I’m your lover, I’m not going to sink to be your stage assistant.”
Adam smiled, then frowned.  “You went on stage for Byron Kasner.”
“I went on stage for you, Adam.”  Leaning in, he kissed the American lightly, but when he started to pull away, Adam sat up, pulling them closer again and kissing Jonathan with a fortnight’s worth of pent-up wanting.  Jonathan responded immediately, leaning into the other’s embrace.  When he finally managed to end the kiss, Jonathan sat up, laughing gently.  “We’re supposed to be running through this routine.”
Adam followed him, and with his mouth only a half-inch from his lover’s, he said, “Fuck the routine.”

Reaching for Jonathan, he turned him and pushed in onto his back across the sea of papers.  Adam went with him, covering the lean body with his own, reclaiming the mouth that could kiss like no one he’d ever known.  Jonathan’s fingers made light work of the buttons down the front of Adam’s shirt, delving under the material to touch the hard chest beneath.  Adam growled, folding his legs under him for balance while he unbuttoned Jonathan’s shirt in turn.

Jonathan’s hands gripped his lover’s shoulders, trying to pull him down, to join their lips in another yearning kiss.  Adam resisted for a moment until he could open Jonathan’s shirt before accepting the kiss, settling himself on top of the other very male body.  A phrase popped into Jonathan’s mind for just a second, ‘make love to me’, but he banished it before it could be voiced.  The thought had been cycling around in his mind for two weeks, since the night at ‘Skin’ where Adam had made the request of him, and he’d obliged, albeit under mitigating circumstances.  The idea both thrilled and terrified him, but if there was ever going come a time when he was ready, it wasn’t now.  And it most definitely wasn’t going to happen on Adam’s pool table.

Breaking the kiss, Adam lowered his head to frantically touch his mouth to any part of Jonathan’s body that he could reach.  He took care to spend a little time at Jonathan’s chest, sucking and biting his nipples, cherishing every sound he forced from his lover.  Jonathan lifted his hips, pressing his trapped erection against Adam’s, not-so-subtly hinting at what he wanted.  Pushing himself up, straightening his arms, Adam gazed down at his lover.  “God, you’re gorgeous.”

Jonathan thought he might actually have blushed.  He was about to voice his previous physical request, when the doorbell rang.  Jonathan froze, but Adam didn’t seem to even hear it as he shifted his balance to one hand and reached down to stroke his palm over his lover’s stomach.  It rang again, and this time Adam did glance up, but only at Jonathan.  “Both gates into the back garden are locked.  The only person I want to see right now is already here.”  He unbuttoned Jonathan’s trousers, fingers working with ease.  The doorbell rang again.  “Ignore it.”  And as if to underline his point, he slid his hand between the other’s legs and gently squeezed his crotch.  Any reservations Jonathan might have had were wiped clean from his mind.

*

“I suppose you’re going to want me to redraw this lot.”  Jonathan picked up one of the pieces of A4 that had been part of his lovingly constructed storyboard when he’d arrived here hours ago.
Adam, still towel-drying his hair after their shower, came to stand next to him at the pool table.  “You did such a great job the first time.”  He stroked his hands up his lover’s back.
“Umm....  Well, there’s always more enthusiasm the first time, isn’t there?”
Adam’s eyebrows leapt.  “Is there now?  You didn’t seem to be lacking any enthusiasm this afternoon.”
Jonathan smirked but he said nothing.  Somewhere in the house, Adam’s Bengal tiger started to make the noise that never failed to scare Jonathan half to death while Adam’s only reaction was to sigh and to go and find something to feed his ‘pet’.

He abandoned the idea of trying to salvage some of the drawings and walked around the table to the patio doors, opening them quietly and stepping out into the sunshine.  Adam had been right when he’d said this was a slice of heaven.  He hadn’t ever imagined this, not with his employer of over ten years.  But with the sun beating down on him, cold beer in his hand, his body aching wonderfully with what he would have missed out on had this not happened....

By any man’s standards he knew he was extremely lucky; two lovers, each knowing about the other, both letting him get away with it.  Yet each came with their own complications.

Maddy could have been his girlfriend, he guessed, could have even been his life partner.  She had the intelligence to keep him interested, keep him at her side as, he assumed, he had something that kept her with him.  But she was the jealous sort.  She was only tolerating Adam’s involvement with him because she couldn’t be sure which of them he’d choose if she forced him into a decision.

On the other hand, Adam wasn’t the jealous type.  He too had other lovers.  But, strangely enough, of the two of them, Jonathan was fairly sure that it was Adam who was actually in love with him.  So what did he feel?  Adam had been the most important person in his life for a long time, still was.  But he was a he!  Jonathan had always thought himself to be straight until this thing with Adam.  He wasn’t hung up on labels, he didn’t care one way or the other.  But was it something he wanted in the long run?

The really odd thing was that when he was with Adam he felt more at ease, more natural than he did when he was with Maddy.  If it meant anything, he didn’t know what it was.

Having fed the cat, Adam stepped out behind his lover, wrapping one arm around his waist.  “Do you have to be anywhere tonight?”
Jonathan shook his head, staring out across the garden.  “You don’t think we’re...” he hesitated.
“We’re what?”  Adam turned his face into Jonathan’s neck, kissing the clean skin lightly.
“Taking this... too far?”
Whatever reaction Jonathan was expecting, it wasn’t the gentle laughter he was answered with.  Adam tightened his embrace slightly.  “By whose standards?”  He didn’t wait for an answer.  “No, Jonathan, I don’t think we’re taking this too far.”  He refrained from pointing out that actually he wanted to take it further.  He had to pace this, he couldn’t risk frightening Jonathan off.  “What made you ask that?”
Jonathan sipped his beer.  “Dare I ask... where you think all this might get us?”

Adam considered it ironic that had it been a lady standing in his arms, asking the same question, it would have signalled an almost immediate end to the relationship.  But with Jonathan... he wanted to promise his lover the moon.
“It’ll get us wherever we want to go.”  He finally conceded.  Any more than that would have been more than either of them could cope with at that moment.
Jonathan couldn’t help but smile.  Was there anyone who was any better at answering a question without answering it?  Happy despite himself, he wrapped his own arm over Adam’s around his waist, linking their fingers over his own hip.  “I don’t have to be anywhere tonight,” he finally answered Adam’s question.  “What did you have in mind?”
“Whatever you want.”  He thought for a minute.  “We could go out.  I know some great restaurants.  Or... we could stay in, get a take out and go through the routine for ‘Skin’.”
Jonathan tilted his head, resting it back against Adam’s shoulder, looking up at his lover.  “I’m not going up on that stage with you.”
Adam rested his head against Jonathan’s.  “And nothing I can do will persuade you otherwise?”
“No, you’re going to have to find someone else, preferably a female someone else.”  But he strengthened his grip on Adam’s hand and arm, enjoying having the other man so close, so... warm.  God... now he was the one getting all sappy.
But Adam wasn’t giving up.  “I don’t want to take anyone else there.  If you won’t come on stage, design me a routine that I can do alone.”
Jonathan sighed.  He could see his lover’s point.  The club did sit outside their ordinary lives, somewhere they shared – just the two of them – somewhere no one else involved with them knew about.  He wasn’t sure he wanted any of Adam’s female companions knowing about the place either.  “I’ll think about it,” he spoke resignedly, at long last.  He didn’t have to see Adam’s smile to know it was there.

*

“You do realize that your idea of take out and other peoples’ ideas don’t tally.”
Adam frowned, looking about the spread before them.  He’d rung the Chinese and basically ordered everything from the menu; a seafood selection for himself, vegetarian selections for Jonathan, with enough rice and noodles for them both.  Two bottles of expensive white wine stood in the centre of the various containers and lids.  “If you’re not hungry....”  But he caught the smile on his consultant’s face and mirrored it, pointing with a chopstick.  “Ahha, English sarcasm.”
“You’ll get the hang of it eventually,” he reassured.

To the other side of them the story board for the ‘Skin’ routine was laid out on the carpet as it had been earlier on the Pool table.  The only difference was that some of the drawings had been replaced by quick stick-men sketches.
“So, as you were saying…” Adam coaxed.
“As I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted,” Jonathan shot his companion a sly look out of the corner of his eyes, “you ask your stunning assistant who’s been planted in the audience, if she’d like to come up and join you in a toast.”  He was teasing and Adam knew it.  Stretched out on his stomach, Jonathan thumbed the A4 sheets out of his way, searching for the start of the story-board.  Next to him, so that their shoulders were touching, Adam watched in amusement as his consultant tried to find some order to the multitude of papers strewn about the carpet.  He turned his head, lifting Jonathan’s wayward hair so enable him to get at the throat underneath it.

Jonathan batted him around the head.  “Will you concentrate?”  Yet there was laughter in his voice that was a delight to hear.
“I am concentrating,” was Adam’s retort.
“On the routine, not on my neck.”  His words were almost lost in the moan of pleasure that met Adam’s exploration of his jaw and ear.
“But I can’t resist you,” Adam implored, mouth now making more earnest moves along the line of Jonathan’s collar bone, where the shirt had fallen away from the shoulder because Jonathan hadn’t bothered doing it all the way up after his shower.
Jonathan batted him away again.  “Try.”

Instead of taking any kind of offence, or attempting a repeat attack, Adam rolled on to his back, his head against Jonathan’s folded arms.  The dimmed light in the room caught in his emerald green eyes, a sharp contrast to the deep blue shirt he wore.  Jonathan couldn’t help himself, he couldn’t keep up even the pretence of anger.  Unfolding his arms he lifted one hand and touched his fingers to a stray lock of hair on Adam’s forehead.
“What’s with you?”
“You are.”  There was an amazed quality to his voice, something akin to innocence.  “I can’t believe how lucky I am,” he mused quietly, with more genuine joy than Jonathan believed he’d ever heard in anyone’s tones.  “It seems so simple with you, so easy.  I can be myself.”  He smiled a little shyly, the admission not coming easily to him.  “I’m not very good at being myself around others.  You may have noticed... it’s an act that falls into place with very little effort.”
Jonathan looked at him, trying not to stare like he hadn’t ever seen this Adam Klaus before.  “I never imagined....”
Adam shrugged, not an easy manoeuvre in his current position.  He let his hand drop from Jonathan’s hair, his fingers touching the base of his neck and the gold chain that rested there.  “I thought you might have guessed when I gave you this.”
Jonathan simply smiled, letting his own fingers comb throw the other’s hair, stroking it away from his face, watching the lights dance in his lover’s eyes.  “I don’t know what I thought then.”
“You wondered why an egotistical bastard like myself would be giving you a gift that had obviously required thought.”
That got a giggle at least.  Jonathan imagined that Adam would use the humour to ease the strumming tension building between them like a smouldering fire slowly gathering energy.

But the smile faded from Adam’s lips to leave a peaceful expression, one that was so open it was breathtaking.  Jonathan couldn’t have shied from that expression even if he’d wanted to.  It was for him and him alone to see.  And he realized that despite everything, despite the fact that his employer was a pigheaded American, like a vampire during the hours of night something false had been stripped away and what he was now was what precious few would ever see.

Adam sat up slowly, leaning his weight on one arm, wrapped the other carefully around his lover’s shoulders, bringing their mouths together into a long kiss.  Jonathan pushed his fingers into the hair at the side of Adam’s head, clutching gently, tongue stroking deeply over that which sought to taste him.  Again, that final request that lay between them stoked the flames of Jonathan’s desire.  But as they parted, Adam placed on finger against his lover’s lips, sealing them.  “I love you,” he told Jonathan in absolute certainty, “don’t ever believe that I don’t.”

Jonathan was lost as to how to reply.  How many times had he written those very same three words?  And yet he couldn’t say it.  He’d never said it, not to anyone.  Adam, somehow, seemed to know that.  He sealed his own words with another kiss, this time coaxing Jonathan down to lie with him on the luxurious carpet.

* * *

At least this year Adam had deemed the British Magic Awards worthy of his presence.  He’d won.  He’d won and he knew it.  Last year he’d been dragged out of the ‘Trumpet & Whistle’ by several of his crew and had had to change into a Tux as they drove him half-way across London, breaking every speed limit possible to get him to the theatre in time for the presentation of his ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’.

This year he sat at a table laden with bottles of champagne.  His latest assistant, Jenny, sat on his one side with Maddy on the other next to Jonathan.  Throughout the evening they’d been socializing with stars of stage and screen.  Some had been performing close up magic for the guests, others – Adam for example – had been happy simply to watch and give others that small glory.  It was nearing the end of the ceremony when the award for Best Stage Magician was presented to Adam Klaus.

Proudly cradling the gold statuette of a rabbit pulling itself from a hat, Adam took the podium.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, members of the British Magic Circle.  I thank you for this award from the bottom of my heart.  Last year you honoured me with a Lifetime Achievement Award.  I considered that to by the crowning moment of my career.  Yet once again you’ve chosen to honour me.”

At their table, Maddy leaned across.  “Did you write this?” she asked Jonathan in a whisper.  He shook his head.

“And in turn, I have to honour the one man without whom I wouldn’t be standing here today.”  He stretched out his arm, indicating the table in the darkness where his companions were sitting.  “Jonathan Creek not only saved my life a couple of months ago, but he’s also the genius behind most of what I do.  He’s the brains behind the slight of hand that won this award.  So I’d like to dedicate this honour to him, and say thank you, for everything he’s done for me and the show.”

A standing ovation followed the touching speech.  No one in the room, let alone Jonathan himself, could quite believe what they’d heard from the egotistical Adam Klaus.  All they got from Adam was a genuine smile as he sat down and put the award on the table.  Jonathan reached out and touched the cold metal, astounded.  Despite, or perhaps due to Adam’s eloquence, he couldn’t find the words to say.  That night in Adam’s lounge a few days back had blown all his safe, predictable assumptions from his mind and had left him unsure about what he felt.

Now he’d seen behind the mask, the act, the masquerade was laughably easy to look through.  It shocked him that it had taken ten years to finally realize how wrong he’d been.  Had he?  The more he thought about it the more he slipped into believing that perhaps it was the other way around, perhaps Adam was playing him as he played all the other lovers in his life.  And yet something had changed, hadn’t it?  Something was different here tonight surely?  Adam wasn’t being as... lecherous with Jenny as he’d usually be with his dates.  And because of the money, because of the fame, they would let him.  Until they dumped him or he dumped them.  He just couldn’t work out if Jenny was pleased or not with Adam’s sudden, uncharacteristic change of morals.

Things had changed, hadn’t they?  Or was he just imagining it?
 

Later, with the women off ‘powdering their noses’, Jonathan finally found a few seconds alone with his employer.  For the first time ever he felt humbled in Adam’s presence.
“I... I don’t know what to say.”  He mumbled as they stood together at one end of the bar.  It was busy, crowded and noisy and the only way Jonathan could assure himself that Adam would hear him was to place his lips next to the other’s ear.

Adam hummed softly as his lover’s lips brushed his ear.  He just caught the words as they floated passed his attention.
“It’s no more than you deserve.”  Ignoring the barman who was finally ready to take his order, Adam turned, bringing his and his consultant into contact, knowingly teasing him by the slight touches through their clothing.  Jonathan’s body reacted instantly to the sudden predatory move.  Their eyes locked for an instant, and Jonathan had to resist the sharp urge to lean forward the short distance and place his mouth other the willing lips of the other, to dip his tongue into the welcome kiss, to feel the other’s hard body pressed against his own.

Out of the corner of his eye, Jonathan could see the two women making their way over to them.  Adam must have caught the disappointment in his expression for he leaned in at that moment, putting his mouth close to Jonathan’s ear and whispering, “I want to spend the night with you.”
As quickly as he’d spoken he turned back to the bar, immediately seeking and capturing one of the barmaids’ attentions and placing his order.  To all around them, to Maddy and Jenny as they laughed together over some private joke, Adam looked the soul of heterosexuality.  Jonathan simply faded out of the group for a while.  He wondered when exactly his body had begun to betray him in this manner, and how – if it was at all possible – Adam was going to pull off the most impressive trick of them all and leave them the last two people in the Limo tonight.

*

Jonathan laughed as Adam caught him by the waist and hauled him back into the voluminous back seat of the Limo.  Jenny, it turned out, wasn’t actually a new girlfriend of Adam’s.  She was already living with someone, a female someone.

Maddy was more difficult.  As they pulled up outside her flat she asked Jonathan if he wanted to stay over.  He declined, making up a fictitious workload and begging a lift off Adam back to Briar Hollow.  He got out of the car, gave her a hug and a long, deep kiss before saying goodnight.  He didn’t know if she’d fallen for it, he doubted it, but she accepted his kiss and he watched as she disappeared inside the building.

A moment later he was being drawn back into the car, Adam’s hands almost lifting him.  He fell back across the seat, pulled in, his head coming to rest on Adam’s leg.  Jonathan hooked the inside door handle with his foot and pulled the door closed.  The chauffeur needed no instructions, he started the journey out of London to Maskelyne Manor.

Jonathan sat up, turning into Adam’s arms, going into the embrace easily.  Vast quantities of champagne had forced down any barriers that remained between them and all each of them wanted was the other.  They kissed, tongues battling for supremacy until the humour turned to pleasure and they settled, deepening the contact at their mouths, closing any physical gaps between them until Jonathan was practically sitting on Adam’s knee.

When they did separate for a moment, coming up for breath, Adam asked, “You didn’t really want to go home, did you?”
Jonathan didn’t answer, just rolled his eyes and dropped his lips to Adam’s once again.