In Dreams He Came Excerpt

July 2012

PHIL HEARD noises coming from the bedroom of his San Francisco apartment. He looked over his right shoulder, away from his easel, his eyes needing a moment to adjust to the real world before the french doors leading to his bedroom came into focus. The silhouette of his most recent lover stood behind the frosted glass. The long iron handle jiggled, but the door didn't open.

"You have to kind of lift up and then push the handle down," Phil called out.

He looked down at his palette, trying to decide on the perfect mixture of blue and white to get the exact shade of cerulean he wanted for the sky in his current work. The bedroom doors finally opened, and Jack... no, Jake... no, John... something that started with a "J" stood in the opening. Shirtless, with tight, low-riding jeans that made it clear why Phil had brought the guy home. He was gorgeous, and they'd spent a pleasurable couple of hours together. J-something was nice, too. And he'd seemed vaguely interested in Phil's art. Even if he had accused Phil of trying to use that stupid line about coming up to see his etchings.

If the look on his face was anything to judge by, it had been a pleasurable evening for him as well. Phil dabbed his current mixture onto the top corner of the canvas. It was a little brighter than he wanted. He picked up some more white to soften the hue and added it to the already mixed paint on his palette. That looked better. He lifted his flat brush and started to make semicircular strokes over the same area he'd painted a moment ago. The tone was closer to what he wanted. Phil knew with some more shading he would achieve the look he was going for. For this segment of the painting, he definitely wanted a texturized look that would require adding several layers of paint.

Phil snapped his head up when a loud noise from the galley kitchen in front of him caught his attention. J-something stood by the sink. Phil couldn't see what had caused the crash since the island counter blocked his view from his seated position beside the bay windows in his living room. During the day, perfect north-facing light filtered through the glass, but at night he used a mixture of full-spectrum florescent and incandescent lights on a track brace above his easel to simulate daylight as best he could. Nothing could really mimic the beauty of natural light, though.

"What was that?" Phil asked.

"Sorry, I knocked over a bowl that was perched on top of a pan in the sink when I went to fill my glass with water."

When had he used a bowl and pan? Oh right, Wednesday night he made soup for dinner. Guess that meant it was time to do dishes.

"No problem. The noise startled me is all."

Jason! His name is Jason.

Jason sat on the sofa, looking at the partially filled canvas in front of Phil. He'd sketched out the scene but had only started to fill in the color yesterday. It would take him about a hundred hours to finish the painting, so it was still early in the game. Those unfamiliar with the art process were always shocked to learn how time consuming it was to work in all the little details that brought a scene to life. But the details were what fueled Phil's creative process. He loved sitting in front a canvas with a tiny round brush till his eyes nearly crossed. He'd most likely end up like Mr. Magoo in seventy years, but Phil was all about living for the now.

"What's it going to be?"

Phil glanced at Jason out of the corner of his eye. He was squinting and tilting his head almost as if he were trying to discover some hidden meaning in a Rorschach test. "It’s a landscape."

"Cool. What of?"

Phil sighed and set down his brush. It looked as if he wasn't going to get as much work done tonight as he'd hoped. "The scene will be of the Spanish coast. Bright blue sky and water, lots of rocks and trees. That kind of thing."

"Cool. So is this a piece someone ordered, or did it spring from your imagination?"

"It's not a commission piece. My best friend and his partner are in the United Kingdom right now for the Olympic Games. Nick is the captain of the US swim team, and he's competing in several events. Gabe went with him for support, and afterward they're going to travel together. I thought it'd be a nice welcome-home present to remember their trip."

"You'll be able to finish that in a couple weeks?" Jason exclaimed.

Phil's laughter filled the apartment. "No. They'll be gone for several months. Almost a year, in fact. Gabe's been working on his doctorate in medieval history. He's taking a sabbatical to do some research for his dissertation."

"That's pretty cool. So are you going to keep working, or do you want to fuck again before I leave?"

Sex or paint? Sex or paint? That's a tough decision.

"Wow, if it requires that much thought, then I'd better go while I still have some semblance of self-esteem left."

Jason stood and walked toward the bedroom. Phil set down his palette and followed. "Stop." He crossed his arms and stared at Jason's back, which had tightened at the sound of his voice. "I'm sorry. It's not you. When I start working I tend to lose focus on reality. I'd love another round as long as you're up for it."

Jason turned. "I could probably be persuaded." He unfastened the button of his jeans.

Phil smiled. "Good. Now, strip." Phil shoved down his track pants and briefs, which was all he'd put on after their last excursion to the bedroom. He walked over to the bedside table and removed another condom from the drawer. Jason was delicious to look at. Phil wouldn't mind using him as a model, but he didn't make a habit of sleeping with his subjects. That led to all kinds of complications.

Jason climbed onto the bed and spread his legs. He stroked his cock, and Phil made a little sound of appreciation. He did so enjoy it when his lovers showed off for him. It didn't take long before Phil's cock was ready to play. "On all fours," he ordered.

Jason flipped quickly and wiggled his butt in a "come and get it" manner. Phil climbed up on the bed. He slid his hand down Jason's spine, then pried apart the round globes hiding the little hole that Phil had claimed only a couple of hours ago. He was glad to see that Jason was still stretched.

Phil placed his thumbs against the rim of the muscle and pulled slightly. Jason moaned and tried to push back, but Phil used his leverage to keep the other man in place.

"Hand me the lube."

The bottle of lube was tossed toward him and landed on the bed in front of Phil's knee. He picked up the bottle and squirted some on his fingers.

"No teasing. Just fuck me," Jason said.

Phil looked up and saw that Jason had angled his head so they could see each other. He swiped his fingers over Jason's hole, then pushed two inside. Jason's head dropped and he groaned. Phil smiled. "You looking for a nice, hard screw?"

"Hard and fast. You've got a nice cock, and I'm not above begging for it."

Phil withdrew his fingers. He wiped them on the sheet tangled beneath his legs, then picked up the condom from where he'd dropped it. He opened the package and quickly suited up. "No begging necessary. I'll give you what you want." He dribbled some slick over the latex. He held the base and aimed the head at Jason's opening. He gripped Jason’s hips and pressed inward. Jason’s channel was very accommodating, and seconds later Phil was held within the snug grip. Jason said he wanted it hard and fast, and that was exactly what Phil gave him. Phil closed his eyes and tried to live in the moment, but try as he might, his brain kept drifting back to his painting and its inspiration. The coastline was real, and its visage was one that Phil saw regularly in his dreams. The first time he’d gotten a glimpse of the blue waters and sand-colored rocks was on a postcard Will had sent him several months after the week they’d spent together in southern France after Phil’s graduation. There’d only been one line written on the back:

Wish we were here.

No date, no signature, nothing to indicate where “here” was except a tiny tagline at the bottom of the card printed by the publisher. The only reason Phil knew Will was the one who’d sent it was because of his unique scrawl. A particularly loud moan from the man Phil was thrusting into snapped his attention back to the matter at hand. What the hell was his problem? He’d never fantasized about a different man while with someone else. Phil doubled his efforts, and soon Jason’s ass clenched around Phil’s cock, signaling his release. Phil gave over to his body’s demands despite not having his heart in the moment.

He withdrew from Jason’s body as he collapsed onto the bed. Phil removed and tied off the condom, then dropped it in the bedside wastebasket before lying down.

"You okay?" Jason asked.

Phil looked over at Jason, who wore a fresh-fucked look. At least his lack of attention and manners hadn't affected his bedmate's pleasure. Phil had his pride and standards, after all.

"I'm fine. You staying the night?"

"Naw. Thanks for the good time, though." Jason rolled off the opposite side of the bed and then stood.

Phil watched absently as Jason dressed, silently thankful he'd have solitude for what was left of the night. He looked at his clock. It was almost three in the morning, and with London eight hours ahead, it'd be around eleven. He shut his eyes and enjoyed the comfort of his bed. The sounds of Jason shuffling around the room, preparing to leave, lulled Phil into a doze.

Maybe he'd call Gabe after Jason left. Get caught up on all the Olympic gossip and possibly sneak in a question or two about Will. Phil knew the swimming events were scheduled to start tomorrow. Tonight was the opening ceremony, but Phil wasn't sure if he'd watch when it was televised tomorrow evening. He didn't know if he'd be able to watch Nick and Will march with the other competitors from the United States without feeling some sort of remorse he hadn't taken up Gabe and Nick's repeated offers to come to London for the Games. He'd, of course, used the excuse that they wouldn't want him hanging around, but in truth Phil knew that Nick would be crazy busy and Gabe mostly alone. However, the biggest contributing factor was Will. Phil wasn't 100 percent sure he'd be able to stay in the same city as the man who'd changed his life eighteen months ago without falling to his knees and begging for another chance.

Phil's eyes flew open when he felt pressure and a slick tongue stroked the seam of his lips. Jason's laughing brown eyes looked down at him.

"Did I actually mange to wear out the great Phil Alcorn?"

Phil pushed on Jason's chest and then sat up and scoffed. He stood and posed with his fists on his hips and his legs spread. "Please. You're talking to Captain Fucksalot. No mere mortal can extinguish my flame of unlimited fuck ability. Wherever there is a man in need of a good drilling, my cock shall come to the rescue!" He finished by doing a little dick dance.

Jason laughed and shook his head. "You're nuts."

Phil leered. "Maybe, but you like me anyway. Don't you?" He advanced on Jason. "Don't you?" Jason kept walking backward, and Phil stalked him all the way to the front door. He pressed Jason into the wooden panel. "You thoroughly enjoyed my immense fuck ability. Didn't you?" he whispered.

"Maybe," Jason said softly.

Phil kissed Jason quickly, then smiled. "Good. My perfect record is intact, then."

Jason groaned and then turned to open the door. "God save me from men with big cocks and bigger egos." He looked over his shoulder at Phil. "You may be cute and charming and, yes, even good in bed, but I predict one day Captain Fucksalot will meet his match. Perhaps a mere mortal will capture his flame and hold it for his own? Thanks for the memories, sweetness."

Phil smiled and shut the door. "Truer words have terrifyingly never been said," he whispered.

He pushed away from the door and went back into the bedroom. He pulled out a pair of boxer briefs from his dresser and slid them on while looking at the rumpled mess of tangled sheets. Their disarray told an explicit story of what had happened there. He crossed the room and began yanking off the coverings. He knew he'd never sleep comfortably in the same spooge-stained sheets where he'd fucked his most recent attempt to expunge the loneliness from his life. He balled up the navy cotton and tossed the mess in the general direction of his hamper.

"Two points!" He cheered as the fabric disappeared into the wicker basket.

Phil's head whipped around as the chorus of "Beyond the Sea" played from somewhere in his living room. He spun on the ball of his foot and dashed through the french doors of his bedroom. He hurtled over the arm of his sofa and rebounded off the cushions to land on the opposite side of the large ottoman that doubled for his coffee table. He spied the jeans he'd discarded shortly after he and Jason had gotten the games rolling.

"I'm coming, Nemo!"

He picked up the jeans and his cell phone fell out onto the hardwood floor.

"Dammit." He bent over and picked it up, then scrambled for the call accept button on the touch screen. "Don’t hang up!"

"Phil?"

Gabe's voice blasted from the speakerphone, and Phil realized he'd hit the wrong button. He unselected speaker and put the phone to his ear.

"Hey. What's up?"

"You sound kind of out of breath. Did I catch you at a bad time?"

He heard the slight amusement in his best friend's voice. "Not anymore. Couldn't find the phone at first. So how's cheery ol' London?"

"Awesome. The facilities they've designed for the Games are amazing. And there's billions of people everywhere. The whole mood is so exciting, and we're all riding this huge wave of anticipation."

"Opening ceremonies are tonight, right?"

"Yeah. I'm going, but Nick and his coach decided that he's not going to walk with the US delegation. His first heats are in the morning, and the athletes participating in the opening ceremony are required to arrive at the stadium in only a few hours. The last thing Nick needs is to be standing around outside forever the night before competition."

Phil flopped down on the sofa cushions, adjusted himself, and then let his head relax against the back cushion. "Makes sense to me. Although it kinda sucks he's going to miss the spectacle. I mean, those things usually are."

He heard a loud cheer rise up through the phone and wondered exactly where Gabe was and what was happening.

"Yeah. I asked Nick about that when we met for a quick breakfast, and he said he came here to compete, not party. You can bet, though, that he won't miss the closing ceremony. So are you going to keep blabbing on about meaningless crap or tell me why you sounded so panicked when you answered the phone?"

Phil put his feet up on the ottoman and stuck his tongue out at the phone in his hand.

"I can't see you, but I know you're sticking your tongue out at me. Come on, Squirt, fess up."

"How do you know I wasn't just excited after bringing home a hot guy? You know me, always up for a good time."

"Yep, I do. And after a good shagging both of us tend to collapse into a sated pile of goo, not scream out in a tone of voice that made me think I should be calling 911 or something."

Phil chuckled. "First of all, how do you know what I'm like after sex, and second... shagging?"

"Hey, I'm in Britain. I like to blend."

Phil rolled his eyes. Talking with Gabe always seemed to settle him in ways that no amount of sex could. Best friends since practically their first day on Cal's swim team five years ago, Phil knew he could tell Gabe anything and not be judged. The same went for Gabe. In fact, if Phil was honest with himself, Gabe and Nick were probably the only two people who really knew him.

While Phil was extremely happy Gabe had found his dream man in Nick Jackson, he had moments when he really missed sharing practically every living minute with Gabe as they had in college. He couldn't even remember the last time they spent early-morning hours, such as this, watching bad television together and eating crap that would no doubt have made their former coach double their lap numbers had he known.

"Yes, because clearly all Brits have a perpetual tan, dark hair, green eyes, and speak with an American accent."

"I'll have you know that as a doctoral student of medieval history I have quite a bit of cultural information about our neighbors across the pond. For instance, did you know that-"

"Gabe. Did you really call me at four in the morning to give me a history lesson?"

He heard a huff from his friend and smiled. When Gabe got going there was a clear shift in the tone of his voice, and as much as Phil missed him he wasn't willing to spend the next thirty minutes hearing all about some ancient British ruler or commoner who changed the face of history.

"It's only noon here, and it's not as if you're asleep, anyway. Oh, and don't think I forgot my original question."

"It's nothing. Just heard our ringtone and... ya know?"

"I miss you too. You could still come over. It's not as if I'm going to be spending a lot of time with Nick over the next couple of weeks. The team is basically sequestered from the public in the Olympic village."

"No, but thanks. I just started a new project, and I can't ditch Melanie at the gallery."

Gabe sighed. "Yeah, I get it. But, man, first you ran off to Europe after graduation, and now the two of us are going to be gone for the next year. How about Christmas? Maybe you could meet us over here, and we'll all spend the holidays together? Six months is plenty of prep time."

The idea had merit. Phil and Gabe had spent nearly every holiday together since they met, with only a few exceptions. Even after Gabe and Nick got together almost two years ago, the two of them always made an effort to include Phil in their plans. He was the perpetual third wheel. Which probably should have bothered Phil but never did. Sometimes he brought dates to their shindigs, sometimes not.

It wasn't as if Phil was helpless on his own, either. He could go and find a good party. God knew they were everywhere, especially during the holiday season. Maybe he could hook up with some stud and get his brains fucked out? If he worked hard enough he wouldn't have to spend a single night alone. Phil also had a standing invite to Gabe's parents place in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, but it wouldn't be the same without Gabe and Nick actually being there. He shook off his sudden funk. No way was he going to worry about his social calendar for six months from now.

"We'll see. It's getting kind of late, or I guess I should say early. I should probably hit the sack."

"Yeah, right. You're going to paint till the sun comes up, then collapse on the sofa until the dog in the apartment below wakes you with his impression of the hound of the Baskervilles."

Phil smiled. "Maybe." It was sometimes scary how well Gabe knew him. Then again Phil had purposely annoyed Gabe for years by finishing his friend's sentences. He loved seeing those green eyes roll in exasperation even as Gabe flashed his million-watt smile.

"All right, get to work. I'll call you after Nick's first semifinal tomorrow. Are you going to watch the ceremonies on TV?"

"Um... not sure."

"Will's not walking, either. Just in case you were wondering."

Phil cleared his throat and sat up. "What makes you say that?"

Gabe sighed, and Phil practically heard the eye roll from the other side of the world. Gabe knew about Phil and Will's one night together back in college. Phil also suspected that Gabe had deduced there was more to the experience than Phil's usual slam-bam-thank-you-man routine, even though Phil had never talked about it. However, Phil was reasonably sure that Gabe didn't know about the other times he and Will had hooked up since that first night.

"He asked about you the other day, you know."

Phil swallowed hard. "He... he did?"

He and Will kept in sporadic contact, but it had been almost nine months since they last spoke. It wasn't as if he was avoiding Will... well, maybe a little. But not, like, maliciously or anything. Will hadn't contacted him either.

"Yep. I told him you've become a huge success and are living up the single life in San Francisco."

Gabe sounded way too smug.

"Great, thanks." Phil slapped himself on the forehead. How lame was that response. Even he heard the annoyance in his voice. No doubt Gabe picked up on it.

"Is there some other message you'd like me to pass along?"

Yep. Gabe was no dummy.

"Will you ask him if he'll meet me at the mall later? Maybe we can share a chocolate shake."

Oh yes, we have moved on to sarcasm in aisle one. Clearly with Gabe's announcement, any lingering interest Will Archer had in you is now dead. But I don't need him. It was a one-off. Okay, technically an eight-off, but who's counting! Will may have stuffed you like a turkey last Thanksgiving, but that doesn't mean anything. Eight months is a lifetime ago in gay sex. Just because you danced around the apartment like a little girl receiving her autographed photo of the Biebs when his Christmas card arrived.... It was probably sent out by Will's PR team. It's done. You've moved on. Will Archer is a friend of a friend, and that's it. Yeah, and you don't have a pint of Chocolate Therapy you take a bite of every day hidden in the back of your freezer either.

Fine, I want him. No big deal. Phil didn't hold any illusions that Will had been celibate since their last night together either. He probably asked about you out of politeness. This doesn't mean Will's pining away, and even if there are some lingering affections on either side, it doesn't mean the two of you stand any kind of real chance. It's better this way.

Gabe sighed. "Phil, don't be an ass. And stop talking to yourself. Is there anything you'd really like me to tell Will when I see him?"

"Just tell him good luck, and....” Did he dare have Gabe pass on a more personal message? Something more than a well-meaning but empty phrase Will would hear a thousand times over the next couple of weeks. "Tell him I... shit."

"Tell him you shit? I think that's a pretty well-known biological process for all creatures, and Will is most likely intelligent enough to figure that out, but okay."

"Goddammit, Nemo, that's not... and you know... tell him I...."

"Phil? You want me to tell him you're thinking of him? Really thinking of him," Gabe said softly.

"Yeah. Yeah, that works."

"Okay. Take care, Squirt, and try to get some sleep."

Sleep. Right. Sleep meant dreams. Dreams that often led to imagining impossible things. Things that made Phil never want to wake up.

"Have fun tonight, Nemo."

Phil hung up the phone and glanced over at the canvas with the colors of his dreams calling to him. He tossed the phone onto the ottoman and crossed the room to the bay windows. When the sun rose the light shining through made his living room turn gold. That was his favorite time to paint—on mornings when the city wasn't shrouded in fog and black turned to hues of orange and pink. Sometimes if he was still awake, he'd make his way out of the Castro and over to the Embarcadero Waterfront to watch the sun rise behind the Bay Bridge.

He sat in his chair, then picked up his palette and brush. He dipped the tip of his brush into a fresh mixture of paint, then set to work making one of his dreams come to life, even if it was only on canvas.