Changes 18

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Almost two weeks had passed, and now was the time for Michael to make good on his offer. After that lunch at `Doyle's' when he had brazenly asked the young solicitor for a date, full of bravado and confidence in the heat of the moment, the cop had been stunned when Ian had accepted with a laugh, and a promise to call him the next day. And he had been as good as his word, telephoning Michael and making arrangements to meet him for dinner tonight in Newtown. The plan, loose as it was, called for them to rendez-vous at the Newtown Hotel, and make their way together along King Street to one of the small, quiet caf�s which populated that part of town.

It had all seemed easy enough on the phone, but now that the day had arrived, Michael found himself full of doubts and fears all over again. He had finished work early, begging off from his desk with a muffled excuse about having something planned for the evening. That alone had elicited quite a deal of surprised looks from his colleagues, as well as the usual ribbing that cops engage in. It was unheard of for Michael Sciutta to leave early, and even more incredible that he would have some social outing arranged.

"What was that ... did I hear right ... did you say ... a date?" was one question asked loudly and in a mock surprised tone. A round of guffaws had followed it, and Michael's reddening complexion simply confirmed it and added to the general hilarity in the squad room. He knew there was no harm meant, but it still added to his sense of insecurity as he made his way home to his tiny flat to get ready for the evening.

And once he was home, his demeanour didn't improve one bit. The apartment seemed even tinier, even more drab than usual that afternoon. He showered and shaved quickly, splashed on some of the one and only cologne he possessed, then stood naked in his bedroom, staring dejectedly at the sparse collection of clothes he called a wardrobe. Nothing he owned seemed appropriate for a `date' with Ian, and in his mind the walls closed in on him, with no way out. Ian Sterling was always so well-dressed, so stylish, and Michael was certain he would simply embarrass his new friend. Then there was the meal itself -- what would he say, how would he act? It was so long since Michael had been on a date that he had forgotten how!

He was on the point of picking up the phone to cancel when he remembered Ian's words that afternoon. In a tone of angry ferocity, Ian had remonstrated with him at Michael's self-doubt:

"Michael Sciutta, if I ever hear you say you're not good enough for anyone, I swear I'll ... I'll ..., shit, I don't know what I'll do, but I'll damn well do something. It's the other way around, I doubt you'll find anyone good enough for you, and I know I certainly am not!"

The determination, and the sincerity, with which Ian had uttered those words still rang loudly and clearly in his mind, and Michael smiled happily at the memory. He squared his shoulders, and told himself that he could do this -- that he owed it to himself and to Ian. He reluctantly pulled on a pair of dress slacks, the best he owned, and the long-sleeved white business shirt he had had laundered and pressed yesterday evening. The clothes were not all that comfortable, but he felt they would be what Ian expected, and Michael told himself that he could be the right person for Ian Sterling -- he just had to work at it. A little niggling doubt in his head insisted that Ian wouldn't want him anyway, but he did his best to suppress it as he stepped onto the landing and pulled his door closed behind him.

The walk from Michael's home to the Newtown Hotel was no more than 500 metres, yet it seemed like the longest hike he had ever set out upon, and with each step his confidence waned, and his fear of rejection grew like a weight bearing down upon him. If only he knew whether Ian was really interested in him.


The day after lunch at Doyle's, Ian had met with Tina and Nick at their home. It was supposedly just their usual get together for coffee, but Tina wasn't letting him escape that easily.

"So, have you made any definite arrangements yet?" she demanded, almost as soon as Ian set foot inside the door.

"What are you talking about?" Ian responded with a grin.

"Don't play the fool with me, Ian Sterling," she answered sternly, tapping he foot on the floor in mock seriousness.

Nick laughed. "Hey, mate, you know she won't rest till she has you married off," he chuckled.

"I think maybe it's a bit early for `marriage' talk just yet," Ian said with a smile which quickly evolved into uncertainty. "I'm not even sure if Michael was serious, or just made the offer out of pity -- in the heat of the moment, so to speak."

"He seemed fairly sure about it to me," Nick responded.

"Mmmm," Ian mumbled. "But really, what would he see in me? He's a cop, and a bloody good one at that. He always seems so confident, so in control. I'm all over the place. I don't even know if I'm ready to start another relationship yet ..."

Nick looked at his friend and shook his head. "When will you be? Ever? You don't set timetables for these things, Ian, they just happen. And you and he are perfect for each other."

"But I don't want to burden him with all of my `baggage'. What if it turns out that I'm not ready? I'll just be hurting both of us, and I don't want to lay that on him."

"Don't be ridiculous," Tina rejoined. "He was completely serious. I was there, and so was Nick, and you know damn well that he meant it. He saw you go through the whole business with Geoff. In fact, he probably saw more of it than any of us, and unless I'm mistaken, he got you through it too. You said you'd call him, so you'd better do it, and today!"

"Okay, okay," Ian finally conceded. "I'll call him."

"Now!" Tina stated emphatically. To Ian's dismay, she stood there and handed him the telephone, and waited while he spoke to Michael. Yet after it was done, Ian felt somehow pleased and excited. He really was looking forward to the `date', and to spending time in Michael's company, especially now that he knew Michael was both gay and possibly interested in him.

Over the next two weeks, however, Ian's confidence waxed and waned. He was still happily anticipating dinner, but at the same time, his doubts re-surfaced as he contemplated the possibility of a new relationship, and often thought back over the events of the previous year. Was this such a wise move? Of all people, Michael Sciutta was the one most likely to remind him of what had happened, rather than allowing him to forget it, or pretend it had never happened.

By the night of their assignation, Ian was quite jittery, and so he set out to walk from his home in Erskineville to the Newtown Hotel with trepidation. He had no idea just how the evening would pan out, or even how he wanted it to.


Ian arrived at the bar first, and settled himself at a table near the front window. The pub was on the corner of busy King Street and the quiet, narrow Watkins Street, and from where the young lawyer sat he could watch the passing traffic or check out the other patrons with ease. A drink in front of him, he took a few minutes to survey the room. The pub was much like any other in the city, a mixture of people in a variety of clothes; chatting animatedly or sitting alone, playing pool or gyrating slowly to the music from the juke box. The majority of the clientele were male, and although some were a little effeminate, everyone appeared relaxed and at ease with themselves.

What marked the place as a gay pub was the ease with which some of the guys there rested arms and hands on the backs and bums of other men. Once, Ian would have balked at such an open display of preferences, but today he smiled approvingly. It felt good to know that gay men could be so obvious, and so affectionate to each other, without worrying what the world thought of them.

His gaze swung around to the street outside, and he saw Michael standing on the opposite corner, waiting to cross the road. Ian's eyes took in the square jaw, wide shoulders and narrow waist of the police officer with a mixture of lust and admiration, before it occurred to him that Michael appeared a little over-dressed. But he brushed the thought aside. How Michael chose to dress was not up to Ian -- whatever made the other man comfortable, he told himself.

Michael entered the bar and looked around uncertainly before he spotted Ian waving, then smiled and quickly joined his friend.

"Michael, hi," Ian said in greeting.

"Uh, hello," Michael answered nervously. "Can I get you a drink?"

Ian smiled, pointing to the glass on the table. "Already have one!"

"Oh ... of course ... uh, what are you drinking?" Michael asked, his demeanour unsettled.

"Bacardi," Ian replied in confusion.

"Then I'll get one too," Michael said, and turned to the bar.

As the cop returned with his drink, Ian smiled again. "So, how have you been?" he asked lightly.

"Um, not bad," Michael said before going quiet again. Ian waited but Michael seemed disinclined to volunteer anything more.

"Busy at work?"

"Yeah, a bit, I guess ..."

Again Ian waited, and again silence resumed. Michael looked around the bar uncertainly and took a sip of his drink, his face souring as he did so.

"Is everything alright?" Ian asked.

"Sure," Michael nodded. "Why?"

"You just seem a bit quiet, and it doesn't look like you're enjoying that drink much."

Michael reddened a little. "Um, well, I'm not usually much of a rum drinker," he said. "Just thought I'd give it a try." Changing the subject, he motioned his hand at the room. "Do you come here often?"

Ian laughed out loud, and Michael looked a little confused until he realised what he had just said, and joined in the mirth. "Sorry," he said, "but I meant it -- is this your regular watering hole?"

"No, not really," Ian answered. "It just seemed an easy place to meet, close enough to both your home and mine. Don't you like it?"

"Oh, it's okay I guess. I live just a few blocks away, but I rarely come up here. I suppose I don't like drinking alone, so there's no reason for me to come in," Michael finished lamely.

The bar began to fill, the noise from the other patrons intensifying. Yet surrounding Ian and Michael was a bubble of silence. Each sipped at his drink, looked around the bar, or surreptitiously eyed the other man, yet neither seemed to be able to re-start the conversation. Michael's nervousness was almost palpable, and Ian's sense of hopelessness grew with each passing minute. Eventually, the lawyer finished his drink and leaned forward to his companion to make himself heard above the racket.

"Would you like another drink, or would you rather get out of here and find somewhere to eat?" he asked.

Michael shrugged. "Whatever you want," he offered.

"Well, it's getting pretty crowded in here," Ian said. "Let's see if we can find somewhere a bit more quiet ..."

The cop nodded, and Ian took that as an agreement, moving off his stool and making for the exit. Michael followed doggedly along, weaving his way through the throng.

Out on the street, the atmosphere was much more conducive to talking, yet neither man said much. Ian gesticulated at the expanse of caf�s and restaurants that was King Street.

"Any preferences?" he asked.

Michael shook his head. "I'm happy with wherever you choose," he said softly.

They walked together, silently, each caught up in his own thoughts, down toward the railway station, past the seemingly endless collection of eateries interspersed with pawn shops, convenience stores and clothing boutiques that make up this part of the city. Sharing the footpath with them were old Greek families out for the evening walk, young urban couples, Goths in black robes, punks and suited businessmen. Newtown was that kind of place. But despite the chatter and movement around them, both Ian and Michael remained silent.

Just past the Erskineville Road intersection, they came abreast of a Thai restaurant -- larger than most, well-lit and busy. `Thai Pothong' proclaimed the sign on the awning.

"How about this place?" Ian asked, nodding to his left.

"Yeah, I guess so," Michael responded. At least it was somewhere, a destination of sorts.

The maitre'd huffed at them when they had no reservation, and made it clear he was doing them a favour by finding a table, but within minutes they were seated and reading through extensive menus.

"Any suggestions?" Ian asked, only to receive a shake of the head.

"Whatever you feel like," Michael said uncertainly.

The meal itself became an endurance test for each of them. Their conversation came in bursts punctuated by long silences. Michael tried to make small talk, but kept steering himself away from any reference to Geoff Carruthers for fear of upsetting Ian or re-opening old wounds. That precluded mentioning the court case, or Ian's Foundation, or even Ian's health. Ian, for his part, tried to chat, asking about Michael's work, but that gained little. Michael didn't seem to think Ian could possibly be interested in the mundanities of his detective work, so he gave brief answers and clammed up.

One of the few times that Michael did become animated was when it came time to pay the bill. Ian had absently collected the account and dropped a credit card onto it, but Michael instantly objected.

"No, let me!" he stated firmly. "I asked you for a date, and I'm paying for dinner. I don't want you thinking I'm some loser who can't pay his own way," he said with agitation.

"Relax, Michael," Ian responded in surprise. "I never thought that. It was just a reaction. Here, why don't we pay half each?"

"No, I'll get it!" Michael repeated, handing Ian's card back to him and fishing in his pockets for some cash. He was so determined that Ian shrugged and acceded to his insistence, and together they made their exit from the restaurant. On the street again, now dark, Ian tried one more time.

"Since you paid for dinner, can I at least offer you a coffee and a night-cap? My house is just a few blocks away -- we could walk down there in no time."

For once Michael smiled and relaxed. "Yeah, I'd like that," he answered warmly.

They ambled along together, a little more amiable this time, back up King Street, then into Erskineville Road and down past the `Imperial', turning off just before the `village' into Ian's street. Still they spoke little, but at least Ian felt more comfortable now. Michael seemed to be a little easier and happier, and he dared hope something more might come of their `coffee'!

Inside the house, Ian quickly showed Michael to the living room then disappeared into the kitchen to hurriedly put some coffee on. Returning to where Michael sat, he smiled at the good-looking cop.

"What can I offer you to go with the coffee? Liqueur, port, brandy?" He was half hoping Michael would take the opportunity to make some much more intimate suggestion, but the detective didn't rise to the bait.

"Uh, I'm not sure," Michael stuttered. "What are you having?"

"A Sambucca, I think," Ian answered.

"Sounds fine," Michael agreed. Ian sighed quietly and poured them both a shot.

"You have a nice place here," Michael offered as Ian finished the coffees. "Really tasteful ..."

"Err, thanks," Ian said, unsettled. "But you've been here before ..."

"Uh, yes, but that was hardly the time to offer compliments. You were still recovering from ..." Michael left the rest of that statement hanging.

"I guess so," Ian grimaced. "Still, it's in the past. I have to try to move on."

Michael looked even more uncomfortable now than he had all night, and silence descended between them once again like a solid curtain. They sipped at their beverages, Ian settling back into an armchair, while Michael perched nervously on the edge of the sofa directly across from him. Little more was said, and each man found himself looking anywhere but at the other.

Finally, Michael finished his drink and stood awkwardly.

"I guess I should be going now. Early start in the morning ..." was the only excuse he offered.

"Oh, okay," Ian agreed with some disappointment.

At the front door, Ian said uncertainly, "Thanks, Michael."

"Uh, `thanks'? -- what for?"

"For dinner, and the date. I appreciate it."

"Umm, me too," Michael said quietly.

There was a strained moment at the door as Michael turned back to Ian and simply looked at him. Ian didn't know whether to shake hands, or kiss him, or what to do. Both men suddenly found their shoes extremely interesting until they managed to settle on a loose embrace, then Michael was gone into the night.

Ian closed the door slowly, turning on his heel and shaking his head. He was left with a sense of bewilderment. He had no idea why the `date' had gone so wrong, but he was without doubt that it had gone wrong. Michael had obviously been uneasy all night, yet Ian could not fathom out why, other than to think again that Michael was not ready to take on Ian with all his history and baggage.

For Michael's part, he trod the streets to his home berating himself. He had blown it big time! Ian had tried to make conversation, and he had floundered, unsure of what to say, unsure of what Ian wanted to hear. He was more convinced than ever that he was simply out of Ian's league, and that the whole idea of them starting any kind of friendship, little less a relationship, was absurd.


The next morning, Tina rang Ian around 10.00 am. She had been itching to call earlier, but thought she should wait until a reasonable hour in case Ian and Michael were still in bed. At least, that was what she was hoping had happened.

"Good morning," she said brightly when Ian answered the phone. "I hope I haven't disturbed you -- either of you," she chuckled.

"Fat chance," Ian replied sourly. "He left around 10.30 last night -- said he had to start work early."

"Oh, that's a pity. How did it go, apart from that?"

"A disaster!" Ian declared.

"Damn," Tina cursed. "What did you do?"

"I didn't do anything!" With exasperation in his voice, Ian replayed the evening for Tina, emphasising Michael's reluctance to talk, his apparent insistence on doing only what Ian wanted -- right down to the drink he ordered, and his obvious unease at being there. Even Michael's over-dressing seemed in the cold light of morning to indicate his stand-offishness where Ian was concerned. Finally he finished with the memory of the awkward cuddle just before Michael left.

"He made it pretty clear that he isn't serious about us getting together," Ian surmised.

"I don't believe that!" Tina stated firmly. "I'm sure you misread the signals. Give him a day or so, and try again. I'm convinced you two are right for each other," she finished. "Most of all, Ian, don't go putting yourself down. Most `first dates' end up in disaster, you'll see."

When she ended the call, and repeated the story to Nick, she shook her head. "I just don't understand," she muttered. "I was sure they would hit things off."

Nick was even more confused. He remembered all he had seen after Geoff was killed -- the night at the hospital when Michael seemed to be holding Ian's hand; the surreptitious glances at the funeral; the open admiration at the Foundation Dinner. And the powerful declaration at lunch that day: it just didn't add up that Michael wasn't interested, and he told Tina exactly that, and why!

She nodded in agreement. "I don't know what went wrong, but I'm not letting this go so easily," she declared.

"What do you think you can do?" Nick asked.

"I think it's time we had a little talk with Michael -- alone!"

"Hmmph, poor guy," Nick answered quietly, although not quietly enough to avoid a look of reproval from his wife, as she rummaged about for Michael's telephone number at work, and picked up the phone again. Giving the switchboard her name and asking for Detective Sciutta, she looked the picture of innocence from where Nick stood, but he knew better.

"Hello, Detective," she said when Michael came on the line.

"Please, call me Michael," he answered easily enough.

"Michael," Tina went on unfazed. "I understand that your `meeting' with Ian last night wasn't exactly a runaway success?"

"Uh, no," the cop replied, unbalanced a little by her direct approach.

"I know you're at work, but I think we can help. Can we meet with you somewhere this evening? We could come to your house, or you could come here; whatever is more convenient."

"Err, I don't know if ..." he began, but was cut short.

"Michael, I know how difficult Ian can be sometimes. If you are at all interested in him, then let us help, okay?"

Michael sighed. "Very well. I'll come to you, if that's alright?"

"Perfect," she smiled, giving him the address. "We'll expect you around 8.00."

"Poor guy!" Nick repeated as she hung up the phone.


Michael arrived a few minutes early, and Nick welcomed him warmly, ushering him inside. Tina had laid out some nuts on the coffee table, and Nick insisted on getting the policeman a beer -- to help him relax.

"Now, Michael," Tina said once they had all settled down. "I know it's not usual, but between us -- Nick, me, Ian and you, I mean -- there has been a bit of unusual history..."

The cop chuckled mirthlessly. "There certainly has!"

"So instead of sitting back, Nick and I want to help if we can. We hear that last night wasn't so good for you two."

"A disaster!" Michael responded.

"Funny, that's exactly what Ian said. Right down to the tone of voice. What happened? What did he do to upset you?" she asked.

"No, no," Michael quickly reassured them. "It wasn't Ian -- it was me."

"Why, what did you do?"

Michael Sciutta sat back and looked carefully from Tina to Nick and back again, weighing them up in his mind. He was fairly adept at judging people, and he had known these two for some time now, even if not closely. He took a deep breath, marshalled his thoughts, and began to speak. For the first time in many years, Michael opened up, telling an attentive Nick and Tina just how he felt about Ian, and the `date' of the previous night. He confirmed for them that he had been uncomfortable, that he had found it difficult to carry any conversation. He confided that he was both nervous and insecure -- that he wanted to fit in with Ian and Ian's life, but didn't know how. He told them about feeling not good enough for Ian, he opened up with his fears about raising issues from the recent past that might hurt Ian, and he ached over his attempts to be the kind of person Ian would want to be with.

Surprisingly, Tina sat and let Michael speak without butting in for a long while. Nick listened carefully to what the cop had to say, and at the same time watched for reactions from his wife. Finally, Michael's monologue drew to a close, and he slumped into the sofa, exhausted. A long moment of silence followed, before Tina opened her mouth to say something. But it was Nick who jumped in first.

"You're in love with him already!" he said. It was a statement rather than a question.

Michael looked stunned. "But we haven't ..."

"You don't have to have done anything about it," Nick said. "But it's clear as crystal. All this talk of worrying about Ian's state of mind, trying to fit in with his lifestyle; trying to be the kind of man he would want -- you're so much in love with him you can't even see it yourself."

"Maybe I am," Michael said miserably. "But he's not in love with me. I doubt he even likes me much after last night."

"That's where you're wrong," said Tina. "Ian blames himself for last night's debacle. He thinks you're not interested in him. He thinks you asked him out from a sense of pity or something. And I know he likes you. He may not love you, not yet anyway, but he is definitely interested!"

"So what do I do?" Michael muttered. "Even if I can convince him to let me try again, how do I avoid the same mistakes?"

"To begin with you apologise, tell him it was you who felt uncomfortable last time," Tina said. "Give him some excuse about matters at work weighing on your mind or something, and just tell him you'd like a second chance."

"And when it comes to what we talk about?" Michael went on.

"I know Ian has had some hard things happen to him, but he's not that fragile," Tina ruminated. "You were there for a lot of those things, and he knows it. There's no use pretending they didn't happen. In some ways, the fact that you already know could make it easier for you -- Ian doesn't have to explain it all, tell it all to some stranger who might not understand. Don't avoid things, talk about them openly. He won't break, you know."

Michael still looked unconvinced, although he did appear to be contemplating her advice. Nick leaned forward, his tone quiet and serious.

"Michael, I've known Ian for a long while. I think you and he would be great together, but you're going about it the wrong way."

The cop raised his eyebrows at that, but Nick went on.

"Don't try to be what he wants, or what you think he wants. Don't try to change yourself to fit some idea of Ian's perfect man. Just be yourself -- that's the kind of guy Ian needs. If you put on an act at the beginning, it can't last. If you guys are going to be together, and I think you are, then you have to be Michael Sciutta right from the start. If Ian doesn't like the real Michael, then there's no point going any further. But I'm bloody sure that he will, that he does. Just relax with him, and you'll see how good it can be for you."

Tina nodded approvingly, and Michael looked thoughtful as he took in the advice. "Well, I should be going," he announced.

"Okay," Tina accepted. "But I expect you to call him -- and I mean soon. I'll never forgive you if you let him get away," she pretended to be stern, then smiled. Michael returned the smile, and thanked them both, shaking Nick's hand and giving him a long look of gratitude as he left.

"You know, you're a lot smarter than you look," Tina said to Nick after he had gone. She tried to hold a straight face, but lost it, and collapsed in a fit of giggles. "And I truly love you," she gasped out between laughs, as Nick laughed with her, scooping her into his arms and heading for the bedroom.


Michael kept his promise to Tina, and called Ian the next day. If the truth be known, he was almost afraid of what would happen to him if Tina found out he hadn't done so! And after thinking long and hard about what both of them had said, especially Nick's comments, Michael was not only determined to try again, but looking forward to the opportunity.

Almost as soon as Ian answered the phone, he began his spiel.

"Ian, first up, I'd like to apologise for the other night. I wasn't very good company, and I'm afraid I made a real mess of our date."

"That's okay," Ian responded easily. "All is forgiven."

"Great," Michael answered, already incredibly relieved and feeling much better. "So, would you let me try again?"

"Absolutely," Ian said quickly. "I'd like that very much -- for both of us to try again!"

"How about something less formal this time," Michael suggested. "I was thinking of something very casual, nice and relaxed, so we can talk. What do you think?"

"Sounds great to me," Ian replied. "Where do you want to meet, and when?"

"Well, I am rostered off work tomorrow, so if it's not too little notice for you, I'd like to get together tonight. That way I have no excuse for leaving early."

Ian laughed. "I can manage that."

"Meet me in the front bar of the `Imperial' around 7.30 then?"

"Done!" Ian stated. "I'll see you then."

Michael grinned to himself as he ended the call. This time he would do things right!


The `Imperial' called itself a hotel, but in reality it was a conglomerate of bars, cabaret rooms and a night club. The Front Bar, as it was known, was just that -- a bar adorned with the usual juke box, pool tables and gaming machines. A little worse for wear, but relaxed and easy going, and open almost 24 hours a day. It's one real claim to fame was as the location for the opening and closing scenes of the movie `Priscilla: Queen of the Desert', and the pub was still cashing in on that more than a decade later, one of the regular cabaret shows being the `Priscilla Show'.

Ian could hardly claim to being a regular, but it was geographically speaking, his local. His home was no more than two minutes easy walk from the place. Michael also lived close by -- his flat was less than a kilometre in the other direction, just the other side of McDonaldtown Station, so the venue was convenient for both men.

Ian arrived a few minutes before the appointed time, only to find Michael already seated at one of the tables near an open doorway. He smiled a greeting and walked over to his friend, who grinned back.

"Been waiting long?" Ian asked as soon as he was within earshot.

"Nope, just got here myself," Michael replied. "I'll get us some drinks -- Bacardi, right?"

"Yeah, thanks," said Ian as he settled onto a stool and looked around the bar. Most of the other patrons were sitting easily in small groups, a few of them playing pool. Ian noticed at least several guys staring in the direction of the bar, and instinctively his eyes followed theirs. To his surprise, Michael was the object of their attention, and it was obvious why -- the cop was dressed in faded denim jeans and a tight white T-shirt, which highlighted his assets to perfection. Ian chuckled as he realised that the other guys were almost drooling over the rounded globes of the detective's arse as he leant over the bar, and when he turned and began to walk back across the room, Ian himself felt a twinge of lust at the way his T-shirt showed off wide shoulders, chiselled pecs and a washboard stomach.

"Hey, lookin' good," Ian commented as Michael resumed his seat, placing a glass in front of Ian while he sat a beer in front of himself.

Michael reddened at the implication in Ian's words. "Thanks. I feel a lot more comfortable in these clothes than the dress-ups I wore last time," he confided.

"Good," Ian agreed, then grinned mischievously. "And a lot easier to look at too!"

Michael coughed with surprise, and looked Ian in the face. "You're not so bad on the eyes yourself, you know," he whispered loudly.

This time it was Ian who blushed, but he accepted the compliment with a smile.

"How was work?" Ian asked, expecting a rebuff again. He was surprised this time as Michael launched into a lengthy description of the difficulties he was encountering with one particular investigation, and the inordinate amount of time he was spending on it. Ian listened fascinated, offering comments here and there or asking questions for clarification on things he didn't understand. He found Michael's work incredibly interesting.

"Another drink? You're having a beer, right?" Ian said during a brief gap in Michael's conversation.

"Uh, yes, thanks. `Carlton'," he answered. As Ian sauntered to the bar, it was Michael's turn to observe his companion's body, and he liked what he saw.

"So how about you?" Michael asked as Ian returned. "How are things going with the Foundation?"

Now Ian happily recounted some of the recent experiences he had with trying to get the charity up and running, and keeping it on track. He spoke at length about his hopes for the future, and the need for something like this Foundation to help the young kids on the streets -- it had become one of his passions. Michael hung on every word, genuinely sharing Ian's enthusiasm.

"If your Foundation works, and keeps these kids on the right track, it'll make my job a hell of a lot easier," he stated to Ian's agreement.

When they had finished their second drink, Michael looked around the bar, and realised it was filling up.

"How about something to eat?" he suggested.

"Yeah, I think that's a good idea," Ian responded. "You have anywhere in mind?"

"I thought one of the little caf�s just down the street ..."

"Lead on, Detective," Ian laughed.

They exited the pub and turned right onto Erskineville Road, casually walking down the hill into the village itself, a little quiet, but comfortably so, rather than the strained silence of their previous meeting. As they passed the old post office, now a pizza joint, Michael gestured to a place directly across the street.

"How about there?" he asked.

Ian looked at the small caf�, and laughed. "Appropriate!" he chuckled.

"I don't understand," Michael said, confusion on his face.

"Look at it!" Ian said, still grinning. "It's called `Big Boys', and they're flying a rainbow flag ..."

"Oh," Michael muttered, blushing. "If you'd rather somewhere else ... ?"

"No, no, it's fine. Just appealed to my sense of humour," Ian laughed. "Come on, `big boy', let's eat!"

Michael laughed along with him, as they crossed the street and found themselves a table on the footpath where they could watch the passing parade. The menu wasn't huge, nor was it fancy -- basic, hearty meals; but when they came the servings were enormous. Each tucked into his food hungrily, their conversation continuing as they began to discuss neutral topics. Football was one of the things which animated them both; Ian followed Australian Rules -- he was an avid Sydney Swans supporter. Michael, however was a Rugby League man -- his team the Melbourne Storm. Both Ian and Michael were certain their respective teams were headed for the finals, and each did his best to convince the other that his code was the better, but without success. It made for a lively and often heated debate, but one which caused little friction between them.

Finishing their meals as best they could -- neither managed to clean his plate -- the two sat back comfortably, their talk easing into silence once more.

"I'm stuffed!" Ian declared, hands on his stomach. "Let me get the bill, and then maybe we should walk off some of this meal."

"No, I'll get it," Michael said quickly.

"Hey, you paid last time, "Ian protested. "Fair's fair -- I'm paying tonight."

"Ian," Michael said with a quiet urgency. "I can pay. I know you have plenty of money -- I don't want you thinking I'm only interested in spending time with you because of that. I'm not after your wealth!"

He had been rising, but Ian sat down again in surprise. "I never thought that. It didn't enter my head, Michael, honestly. If it makes you feel better, we'll split the bill tonight, but you'll have to let me pay next time."

"So there will be a next time then?" Michael asked. His face was serious, not a hint of jocularity at all.

"I sure hope so," Ian confirmed with a grin. He looked long and hard at his dinner companion, and suddenly it occurred to him that for all the easy banter of the evening, Michael was still obviously uncertain of whether the two of them were going anywhere. With that revelation, Ian knew that if they were going to advance their relationship at all, he would have to take the lead, give Michael a bit of a push in the right direction.

As Michael took their combined cash to the counter to pay for the meals, Ian formulated the most basic of plans. He looked again at the handsome cop in those tight fitting jeans and smiled lustily. When they stepped away from the table, Michael looked to Ian with a happy smile.

"So we're walking. Which way do you suggest we go?" he said.

Ian did his best to suppress his grin. "I thought we might walk back towards Newtown," he said, trying to sound innocent. "Towards your place."

"My place?" Michael gaped. "Why?"

"Well, `Big Boy', I was kinda hoping that when we get there you might invite me in for a coffee," Ian grinned.

"Uh, Ian, I ... I don't know," Michael stuttered. "My flat is only tiny, and ... it's a bit ... um, a bit of a mess."

Ian wouldn't take `no' for an answer. "Come on, you've seen my home, now I get to see yours. Besides, I don't care what your flat looks like. All I need is for you to be there and I'll have plenty to feast my eyes on!" he said softly, a mischievous grin on his face.

Michael went beet red. "I, uhh, I just don't ..."

Ian backed off, letting his friend recover some dignity. "Hey, I was only joking. Honestly, we need to walk, and your place is just fine for distance. You do have coffee, don't you?"

"Yeah ..."

"Then we'll walk there, drink some coffee, and I'll say good night, okay?"

"Okay," Michael agreed. He didn't know whether to be relieved or disappointed, and it showed on his face. Ian smiled again behind his back. Just a little push -- that was all his policeman needed, he told himself.


As they walked, Michael became silent again, pre-occupied with the thought of his apartment. Was it clean enough? What would Ian think when he found it was no more than a shoe box? Would Ian see it as evidence of Michael's lack of style?

Ian tried to engage him in small talk, but to no avail. Michael fell back into his one word responses, and became visibly more agitated as they got closer to his home. Finally they were outside the building -- a nondescript block in a tine laneway. Despite his determination to get Michael to forget their differences, Ian could see that the other man was genuinely concerned. He relented.

"Listen, Michael, if it bothers you this much, I understand. We can leave it for tonight. I don't have to come up if you don't want me to."

Michael was even more confused now. He looked up at where his apartment was, then back at Ian, then down at his feet. Inside his head, suddenly Nick's words came back to him.

`Don't try to change yourself to fit some idea of Ian's perfect man. Just be yourself -- that's the kind of guy Ian needs. If you put on an act at the beginning, it can't last. If you guys are going to be together, then you have to be Michael Sciutta right from the start. If Ian doesn't like the real Michael, then there's no point going any further.'

"No," Michael declared suddenly and with vehemence. "This is the real me, so you might as well see it. Come on in, please."

Ian smiled with relief, and followed Michael up the narrow stairs. He waited while the cop fumbled at the door, then was ushered into the sparse living room. Michael followed quickly, grabbing up a shirt which had been carelessly tossed over one chair, and haplessly surveying the rest of the room.

"Have a seat," he offered. "I'll put the kettle on."

"It's fine Michael, honestly," Ian reassured him. "So it's a little small -- what more do you need when you live alone?"

Michael grimaced in the kitchenette where he hurriedly grabbed a couple of mugs, and threw some instant coffee into them. "But it hardly compares with your place, does it?" he said grimly, his back to Ian. He didn't hear the lawyer sidle up behind him until Ian was almost against him.

"But it has one huge advantage over my place," Ian said in a near whisper. "It has you!"

Michael turned in surprise, finding himself suddenly squeezed between the kitchen bench and Ian. He took a step back in confusion and came up hard against the counter. Ian lost his nerve then. He had already been far more bold than he thought possible, and he too stepped backwards.

"Michael, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to push too h..."

His apology was cut short by Michael instantly closing the gap between them and kissing him, the cop's hands on his face and neck, pulling Ian's mouth into his own. For just a moment Ian stood there, stunned yet pleased, awash with the warmth of Michael's embrace, then he responded in kind. He returned the kiss with fervour, his arms going around Michael's waist and holding him tight. Their tongues met, probed, tasted. Michael's hands caressed Ian's head, neck, shoulders. Ian ran his fingers up and down the policeman's spine, one hand tracing the line of Michael's broad shoulder, the other closing around the firm orb of his arse cheek.

With a sense of urgent need the two men pushed into each other, kissing and biting, grabbing and squeezing. All the months of pent up desire crumbled in that moment. The pair attacked each other with lusty abandon. Without breaking their kiss, Michael scrabbled at Ian's shirt, desperately trying to unbutton it as he ground his pelvis against Ian's crotch. Reluctantly moving his hands from the smooth curves of Michael's back, Ian assisted, hastily removing the top and flinging it aside.

Michael's hands now roamed over Ian's flesh, up and down his torso and across his back as their kiss continued. Ian was lifting the white T-shirt, his arms sliding under the flimsy material so he could hold Michael's warm body against his own. Michael suddenly broke the contact between them and smiled a huge grin of joy at his mate as he lifted the cotton T up and over his head. But before he could resume the lip-lock, Ian had lowered his face to the chiselled lines of the policeman's pecs, and was licking and biting at his left nipple, his arms around Michael's body holding him close.

The cop threw back his head in wondrous delight and moaned as Ian nibbled on him. His hands fell to the lawyer's shoulders, and he caressed the rippling muscle of Ian's upper back as he accepted the attention of the mouth upon his chest. When Ian eventually lifted his head again, they locked eyes in a long shared look of excitement. Both were breathing fast and trembling where they stood.

"Ian, I ..." Michael began softly.

"Bedroom?" Ian asked urgently, throwing his arms around Michael's shoulders again.

Michael hugged the other man tightly, and their lips met again. Wordlessly, Michael half carried, half pushed Ian backwards and around the door into his bedroom, oblivious to the rest of the world. When Ian felt the edge of the bed against his legs, he swung them around and pulled away a little, pushing Michael backwards so that he sprawled across the covers on his back. To the look of surprise on Michael's face, Ian simply grinned evilly, and knelt down, pulling off first one boot and sock, and then the other. As Michael lay still, enjoying the attention, the lawyer stood again and looked admiringly at the strong fit body before him.

"You okay, Big Boy?' he asked gently, to which Michael whispered his reply.

"Oh yeah, more than alright!"

Ian grinned again, and leaned forward, his hands at Michael's flys, slowly unbuttoning them as he teasingly ran his fingers along the outlined bulge at Michael's groin. One by one, the buttons came apart, and as Michael lifted his backside from the bed, Ian slid the denim down his legs and pulled the jeans away. The black jockey shorts Michael wore tented upward invitingly, a large moist spot appearing on the fabric. Grabbing the underwear with both hands, Ian quickly pulled it down to reveal Michael's throbbing erection in all its glory.

"Holy shit!" Ian whistled. "... `big boy' doesn't do you justice; you're huge!"

Michael looked crestfallen for a moment. "Is that a problem for you?"

"No way!" Ian grinned excitedly. "It suits you -- you're perfect!"

Still grinning, Ian looked directly into Michael's face as he slowly, tantalisingly, lowered his pants, pushing them away from his feet. Slipping his fingers under the waistband of his boxers, he bent over and slid them off as well, and stood up again, naked and tumescent, to Michael's approving regard.

"You're no `pee-wee' either," the cop whispered hoarsely. "Come here, handsome," as he lifted his arms to the other man.

Ian hopped onto the bed, straddling Michael's waist and bending over. Their cocks mashed together as their lips joined, and a renewed, fervent kiss consumed them as hands roamed freely over excited flesh. Soft groans escaped each of them as they surrendered to the growing arousal, and suddenly Michael growled loudly and hunched upwards, flipping them both over so that Ian now lay on his back, with Michael atop him, Ian's legs around Michael's thighs as Michael supported himself on knees and elbows.

Ian gasped in long breaths as Michael's mouth moved away from his lips, but the contact was not lost. The cop slowly, deliberately, began to lick and bite his way over Ian's chin and down his neck, then continued the journey across the lawyer's chest until he found a nipple, paying it great attention with lips and teeth and breath. Ian moaned, his hands on Michael's head, as the pleasure built within him. Michael abandoned one nipple for the other, then ever so slowly travelled south, tracing the ridges of Ian's abdomen with his tongue, exploring the navel and gently, carefully approaching the soft down of hair which led to Ian's groin. As he did, he slid his body back, until Ian's legs were now spread around his torso.

With the gentlest of touches, Michael licked at the very point of Ian's cock, scooping a droplet of crystalline pre-cum from him and tasting it, mumbling appreciatively. Ian writhed in pleasure.

"Oh, yesss, yesss," he moaned continuously, urging Michael to go on.

The detective's tongue then trailed its way down the rock hard shaft of Ian's manhood, following the ridge of his urethra, until it found the valley of soft tender skin between the lawyer's testicles. Gently, but firmly, Michael took each rolling ball into his mouth, caressing it with his tongue, massaging it with his lips, and releasing it to the cool air. Back up the length of Ian he went, until he had climbed the summit of that phallus. He opened his lips a fraction, and let the solidity of Ian's prick push its way into his mouth, licking again so that he gradually enveloped the entire cockhead in a warm wet cocoon. As Ian's mumbling grew in intensity, Michael lowered his face, and swallowed the full length of Ian's tool into his throat, burying his nose in the soft pubic hair at it base and constricting his throat to grip at the rod of satin-coated steel which throbbed inside him.

Now he began to bob up and down on that tower, slowly at first but with increasing speed. Ian's breath grew shallow and fast as his cock was stimulated by the actions of Michael's jaw.

"Unhh, ... Michael ... I ... don't know if I can hold on too long like this," Ian hissed.

Reluctantly, the cop acknowledged his friend's predicament, and relinquished the prize from his lips.

"Sorry," Ian said with a grimace. "It's been so long."

"I'm sorry," Michael smiled at him. "I should have known. It's been a long while for me too. I got carried away -- you are so beautiful!"

"Mmmm, you can talk like that all you want," Ian laughed, as he sat up to wrap his arms around the other man, pulling them together again. Becoming more serious, he leaned forward and whispered into Michael's ear. "I want you to make love to me, big boy!"

"That's exactly what I had in mind," Michael replied huskily. He leaned over Ian, reaching to the bedside table, and retrieved a bottle of lube from within, then sat back on his haunches again, his eyes locked on Ian's face as he drizzled the cool, viscous gel onto his cock, slurping it over his cockhead and along his shaft with his fingers. Another glob of the lubricant was squeezed out onto his fingers, and without looking away, he applied it gently to the puckering hole of Ian's anus, working the stuff in and around, using his fingers to penetrate Ian's sphincter and open it slowly.

Ian gave a slight grunt as he relaxed himself around Michael's finger, letting the lube and the pressure do the work as he prepared for what was to come. He wanted it, he needed it, but suddenly he had some doubt as to whether he could take it. Michael's cock really was massive, but with his eyes staring into the deep pools of blue in Michael's face, he was determined to try. He felt another finger join the first as Michael slowly, carefully, readied him. Certain that he wanted this man, wanted all of him, Ian silently mouthed the words.

"Fuck me, please!"

Michael nodded, removing his fingers and leaning in to Ian again. He lifted Ian's legs to his shoulders, opening him wide, and inched forward until the large purple head of his prick was resting against Ian's sphincter. Slowly, so slowly, he bent forward, feeling the soft skin yield to him, feeling the twitching muscle push back against him as it gradually loosened to accept him. Centimetre by centimetre, Michael breached Ian's defences, his thick mushroom cap entering that hot welcoming hole until with a twitch Ian's anus closed around the ridge of Michael's cockhead. They came to a stop then, Ian's brow covered in sweat, Michael's body tense and trembling, eyes locked together.

Ian's lips parted with the smallest of groans as the pain of initial penetration shot through him, then faded as his body adjusted. Pushing back hard against the tree trunk lodged in his arse, he willed himself to relax, and suddenly the pain was no more, replaced by a sense of incredible fulfilment, and unbelievable pleasure. The look of concern on Michael's face warmed him and made him smile up in reassurance.

"Oh, yeah," he whispered, "That is so good!"

Michael's countenance was awash with relief and joy, and at Ian's urging he renewed his push, slowly sliding through the ring of tight muscle, feeling the warm wetness of Ian's bowel swallow his cock. Inch by inch he sank into Ian, irresistibly pressing down and deep inside the other man. He felt his cock meet a knot of resistance and hesitated, but Ian beamed with unbridled pleasure and pushed back up at him.

"You just hit my spot!" Ian shuddered. "I can't believe how hot that is!"

Michael grinned happily and continued his dive into his lover. Finally he bottomed out, the full length of his masculinity sunk far inside Ian's body, his large, rolling testicles pressed into the firm roundness of Ian's arse. Again they became motionless, adjusting to each other, both awash with sensations of delight and wonder. Ian restarted the momentum by flexing his sphincter around Michael's cock, gripping at it and urging the other man into movement. Michael slowly lifted away a little, then pressed back in, repeating the thrust and withdrawal in cycles of increasing speed and strength, as their stares remained unwavering, neither pair of eyes leaving the other.

Quickly, the power of their fucking intensified as Michael thrust deep into Ian's body, then pulled back and rammed inward again. Deeper and harder he pounded his very masculinity into the warm, accepting cavern of Ian's bowel, marvelling at the incredible pleasure engulfing him. Ian humped back at each thrust, clenching around Michael's throbbing sword, gasping to the rhythm of their love-making and thrilled to the core by the fantastic joy of being penetrated so deeply by Michael's weapon. Without breaking eye contact, each man surrendered to the waves of passionate lust which washed over them, swept up to a peak of excitement before they could prevent it.

Michael climaxed first, unable to hold back the tide of sensation. With a guttural roar, his eyes widened in overwhelmed surprise as his body went rigid and his nuts exploded. Spasms rocked him and his cock swelled and jerked within its soft, wet nest as he shot his essence deep into Ian's body. Four, five, six times he shook and hissed as he came, his brain dizzy with the release. Just as he began to slow, Ian groaned a breathless capitulation to his animal needs, and clenched himself even more tightly around Michael's cock. His penis twitched several times, jetting long streamers of white hot jizz up and across Michael's stomach, the warm sticky manjuice dripping back down onto his own body as he shuddered through his orgasm in gasping release.

Together, they collapsed, Michael still inside Ian, both of them tingling and sweaty. Their mouths sought and found each other, and they kissed long and deep, sharing their spent passion and sated need. Finally, the cop lifted himself a little to look into Ian's eyes again, his still hard cock lodged yet within Ian's body.

"Ian, I'm sorry ..." he began.

"Sorry? What for -- that was fantastic!"

"But so quick," Michael said remorsefully. "I wanted it to last much longer."

Ian grinned. "And I didn't? but I came just as fast as you did, so I suppose I should be sorry too. But I'm not! Thank you, so much, Michael," he said softly. "It's been a long time ..."

"For both of us!" the cop finished. Carefully, he withdrew himself from Ian, and lay back alongside the lawyer, holding him in his arms. They kissed again, with less heat than before, but much more tenderness. "Will you stay the night?" he asked hopefully.

"I'd really like that," Ian whispered, as they nestled into each other, and drifted into satisfied but exhausted sleep.

Read next part

This story is a fantasy, it is not real and only happened in my imagination. YOU MUST REMEMBER that in the real world, you can DIE from having unsafe sex. It is your right and your duty to make sure that condoms are always used, whether you are giving or receiving. It doesn't matter how good looking or how ugly he is, and it doesn't matter whether you are top or bottom, USE A CONDOM