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An Actor And A Veteran Host a Dinner by Zero
An Actor And A Veteran Host a Dinner
It had started with an unsuspecting phone call on a slow-paced Tuesday evening.
Thomas heard Pierre’s voice in the living room as he came out of the bathroom.
"This is so sudden" he caught his partner with his eyebrows knitted together at whatever he was hearing on the other line "Are you all okay? No problem. Oh no, there’s no need for that. Don’t worry. I’ll look into it. Take care. Love you too. See you. Bye".
Thomas leaned on the couch next to him "Everything alright?"
"Yeah. My mom told me the house had a very bad wasp infestation, my dad found it while working on the roof. They had no idea until he did" Pierre ran his hand up and down his closely cropped nape in a massage.
"Wow" he had only heard of wasp infestations in movies and television, it had never occurred to him that it was a real thing, living and growing in the city and all that "Are they okay? Did your dad get stung?"
"No. They’re fine" Pierre put his phone on the table "They called a plague control company, and they’re staying with their neighbors. But my grandpa’s eighty birthday is coming up and well, we usually gather at my parents for that...".
"So?" Thomas pressed him to go on.
"So, they’ve talked to my grandpa and asked him where he’d rather go and they’re all coming here for the weekend" Pierre’s voice sounded... heavier than it should be at that. Thomas wasn’t sure what to make of it.
"Well, about time you’ve introduced me to your grandpa Phillipe!" he joked and moved closer to the marine "I was starting to think I was just some booty-call for you!"
He managed to get a grin out of him "A two-year long booty-call seems like far too much, don’t you think?".
"I don’t know" Thomas shrugged and raised his hands up in the air dramatically.
"Yeah, and about introducing you to my grandpa... well..." Pierre started scratching the arch behind his ear.
That couldn’t be a good sign.
Thomas knew that whenever Pierre raked his fingernails anywhere near his body while talking to him it was never a good thing.
The other finally confessed "Have I told you that my grandpa doesn’t know I’m gay?".
There it was. Thomas had seen it coming.
Grandpa Philippe doesn’t know his grandson is gay. He went through the new bit of information for a couple second. He did an assessment of the situation. Cool. That wasn’t atomic bomb catastrophic as he was expecting it. He had overestimated the severity of the matter at hand. All cool.
"I know. It’s not okay but hear me out" Pierre slid back further in the couch with a deep breath "My grandpa...".
"Pierre. From what you’ve told me, your grandpa sounds like a cool guy, I get that you might be nervous" Thomas put his hand over his boyfriend’s one, he needed him to play the understanding, calmer-than-thou role this once and he was glad to do it "But I’m sure everything will work out fine" he locked his gaze into Pierre’s ocean one.
Oh yes. This role suited him.
"Thomas. My grandpa is this super cool, friendly, funny old fella... who also happens to be a huge homophobe".
"So what? We all have one elderly homophobic relative. It’s not the end of the world" Thomas pointed out. His was an aunt who wouldn’t shut up about him needing to try with girls once more and get serious with a lady, because he could be bisexual just not the kind that settled down with another man because procreation "I’m just saying that if your grandpa is that important to you, you should try telling him".
"Thomas, how? It would cause him a heart attack if he knew his eldest, USMC veteran grandson is gay! I can’t do that to him! He already has a heart condition and survived both cancer and the war in Korea! It could kill him or something!" Pierre started talking faster.
"I’m sure you’re overreacting. I mean, how bad can your grandpa’s homophobia be...?" Thomas inquired.
His nails went back behind his ear "Back when my grandpa was deployed in Korea, there were these two guys got caught sleeping together and they had them..." Pierre seemed at loss for words "I can’t..." he gritted his teeth.
"Go on" Thomas stayed in character in his patient, compassionate boyfriend facet.
Then he broke character.
"THEY HAD THEM WHAT!?" Thomas was horrified, disgusted, shocked, offended, sick in the stomach "That has to be a war crime!".
"I know. But, please, I don’t know how much time my grandpa has left to live, and I’m really afraid of causing him his blood pressure to spike or whatever if I tell him. I can’t do that to him" Pierre pleaded him, closing his hand tighter around his. It was so strange to see him so vulnerable that Thomas didn’t even imagine him like this before "And I also don’t want to keep you from him...".
Typical of elderly relatives to play the I-don’t-have-much-time-left card to get their way. Thomas’ own grandma had been pulling that off since he was five.
This could last a long time.
"Sure. Then, for your grandpa I’m your flatmate" Thomas paused "Who happens to sleep you. Like all flatmates do, obviously".
"It’s a tough economy" Pierre forced a smile "And I’m so sorry to put you through this" Thomas felt him push his chin-length mane back behind his ear lovingly. He had grown it back after the play was over. Having longer hair meant he could get into a wider range of castings.
"No problem. You forget I’m an actor, sure I can pretend not to be in love with you at all in front of your family. And make it Oscar-worthy performance while I’m at it".
"Hey, take your time. Make up your mind" Thomas raised his boyfriend’s hand to his lips and kissed his knuckles "In the meantime, I’m calling places to get us a table for your grandpa’s birthday. Alright?".
"Thank you" Pierre pecked his mouth; he dug his fingers inside his locks tenderly.
That conversation he held with Pierre after the premiere of the play had taken them places, Thomas thought as he looked at him. That chat of thinly veiled innocence had brought them out of the theater and into a bar and out to the streets and to the following day. Then at some point they had ran out of words, and the actor and the marine continued their communication in non-verbal messages with their bodies.
His mouth had spoken a common language with his and his lips had found its way to the veteran’s, and then beyond. They came naturally to each other, like gravity, like magnetic attraction, like natural selection. The season of the play ended. Their time together didn’t.
He knew it wouldn’t.
Thomas kissed him back with gentleness. He got up and raked his fingers through his hair. It crossed his mind then that maybe he should get a haircut before the weekend to meet grandpa Philippe.
He wasn’t aware yet that Pierre was thinking the same thing.
The following days, Thomas and Pierre became absurdly knowledgeable about all the restaurants and hotels in the city after they had called every single of them. After discarding potentially elderly-unfriendly ones, and budget-devastating reservations, they settled for a trattoria. Italian food was hard to screw up, allergens safe for the most part and a potentially picky-eaters insurance.
Pierre’s parents had found a reasonable place to stay that wasn’t too far away from theirs. Thomas had gotten a courtesy pass at a medium range theater for a show for all their visitors. They had settled up a schedule a three-day tour. Things were running up smoothly.
And then, as sudden as it always did "My grandpa called me, he said there was something he wanted to tell me tomorrow".
"And he didn’t tell you in the phone, because...?".
"I don’t know. It sounded serious" Pierre bit his lip "I’m worried. Maybe the doctor said something? He has regular checkups, but still".
"Is he staying with your parents?" Thomas washed his hands and left the bathroom; Pierre went in after him to wash his face.
"No, he said he was staying with a friend from the retirement house who owns an apartment here. My grandpa’s making friends wherever he goes, you know?"
"Yeah, I get that".
"Where are you going?" Thomas heard Pierre after he saw him picking his keys.
"I’m going to get a haircut; I want to be presentable to meet your grandpa Philippe tomorrow" Thomas stopped to kiss Pierre in front of the bathroom door.
His boyfriend’s hand scaled from his back to his nape, he felt him secure him in place as they kissed for a bit "Wouldn’t you rather have an at-home barber?".
Thomas saw that spark of lust in Pierre’s eyes. That intensity of an atomic bomb contained in his gaze. He felt him tug his mane, in his strong, fierce grip.
He knew his hair was in danger in those hands, in that wolfish grin that crossed Pierre’s features.
"I want to barber you" his boyfriend leaned in and talked into his ear. Thomas felt a shudder at how sultry his baritone was.
"Earn it" Thomas wouldn’t let him have it. Or he would, but not after he had his fun as well.
"You forget your place, private" Pierre caught him inside his deep blue eyes.
"Do I?" he slid the keys out of his pocket. He cupped in Pierre’s face with both hands and tasted his mouth.
"You need to be taught discipline" Pierre led him inside the bathroom, pulling his shirt over his head, then removing his and throwing it on the floor.
"Then teach me" Thomas let him guide him against the sink, then he saw Pierre move a stool.
His heart started racing when he saw the marine plug the hair clippers. They were the same chrome, imposing ones he had baptized him with the first time he had cut his hair. The ones he had become familiar with for months while the play was running. Their blades had transformed him and then kept his hair from growing back religiously.
That night of the premiere had been the first time he had known intimacy with Pierre. His hands on his almost bare scalp had felt so good.
He didn’t put an attachment. His boyfriend wasn’t going to have mercy with him. Thomas’ pulse quickened at the thought of that.
Pierre came back to him. He slid his bangs back, fingered their length upwards before letting them fall freely again. He admired those flecks of gold and copper in the density of his boyfriend’s mane, hidden unless the light hit the strand at the right places.
Thomas had a perfect head of hair that was his to take.
"We’re buzzing all this pretty hair down to the skin"
He jerked his head back, placing his palm against his forehead. His throat and Adam’s apple exposed, all his hair away from his face.
Then, he turned on the clippers. Thomas could swear he had almost missed that harsh, buzzing noise they made. His reaction to it had to be Pavlovian, in the way it became synonymous with Pierre "Don’t move".
Thomas saw the rotating blades approaching the center of his head slowly. He closed his eyes. The clippers touched his forehead, just above the place where Pierre’s hand was. Then, they slid down across his skull, all the way back to his crown.
He felt his hair coming off, collapsing in chunks at the end of his shoulder blades where its length rested with his back arched.
They met his hairline a second time. Pierre’s free hand followed the clippers. They went over the same, freshly cropped path of stubble, brushing off the locks that refused to fall on the first pass.
How Pierre made this feel so good was beyond him. It had to be his hands. The dexterous, trained way they moved across his head. In the way he denuded his scalp that was almost seductive as he slid his fingertips against his skin, seeming to graze his very core.
Pierre finished the top, then ordered him to sit straight to work around the rest of his head. As he dug the blades into his temples, Thomas was faced with his sculpted torso, with the faint scars on his ribs he had gained from his deployment.
His hair was raining on his naked shoulders, caressing his back as it fell in sheaves. Thomas thought back to the first time Pierre had cut his hair. The adrenaline rushing inside him had been higher than he had expected. He thought that as he got used it would decrease.
It never did. It mutated from apprehension to anticipation.
Pierre secured his crown and pushed his chin to his chest. He placed the clippers against his nape and went up to the top of his head. He felt him flick his wrist and send his hair flying over his shoulders. A few passes later, he felt the last remain of his chin-length mane abandon his head.
Then his boyfriend went all over his head methodically. He missed how light he had felt when his hair had been this short. But most of all, he had missed the feeling of intimacy and trust with Pierre when he did this with him.
The clippers were turned off.
Pierre blew behind his ear "A good haircut was long overdue" he caressed the stubble left all over his head "Thank me, private" he whispered into his ear, his breath grazing his skin.
"Thank you, my sergeant" Thomas smirked.
Pierre nicked his ear with his teeth softly "That’s what I like".
He saw him get the can of shaving foam and his disposable razor.
"What if I shaved you?" Pierre spread some shaving foam at the beginning of his hairline on his forehead teasingly.
"Don’t push your luck" Thomas laughed and tried to remove the foam that clung to his stubble "Just clean my hairline like you always do".
"Do you like it when I do?" Pierre drew circles with the foam on his nape and behind his ears. He spread the substance on top of his sideburns as well.
"Very" Thomas admitted "I missed having you cut my hair".
"Make that two of us" he started shaving the edge of his hairline on the back of his head in soft strokes. That sent shivers through Thomas’ spine.
"How does this feel for you?" Thomas asked him, the same way he had asked him the first time he had cut his hair.
"It’s hard to explain" Pierre removed the foam with a towel. Then he angled Thomas head to the side and shaved around his ear, erasing his sideburns "It feels like getting you naked".
Thomas felt him move to the other side "I get it".
After a couple strokes, Pierre was finished. Thomas felt his fingers travelling up his nape to his crown, across his almost shaven head and closed his eyes "How does that feel?".
Pierre started kissing him from the lower back up all the way to his neck.
His hair rested in shiny clumps in the bathroom floor as they moved to their bedroom.
Thomas noticed Pierre had woken up content and relaxed the day his grandpa arrived. He was also in a good mood. Soon, the night was upon them. They were waiting for them at the Italian restaurant.
As he fixed the collar of his shirt in the mirror, Thomas thought to himself that he looked dashing with his hair buzzed to skin. He would have looked dashing with his hair to his chin as well, no need for him to pretend otherwise, he added to that thought.
"So, I was thinking last night... I’m going to try to tell my grandpa Phillipe. I don’t think it’s fair for him or for you to keep it this way".
"Are you sure you were thinking at all last night? I for one, wasn’t" Thomas grinned with mischief.
"I’m sure" Pierre kissed him before they entered the trattoria.
Regardless of that, Thomas stayed in character when Pierre didn’t introduce him as his boyfriend. He could pull the just flatmate role for the night as long as his boyfriend needed him to in front of his grandfather. It didn’t matter if he didn’t tell him the truth that particular night.
His boyfriend’s grandfather in turn introduced him to his city friend.
Thomas had to catch his breath.
He wasn’t into older men, but the guy was stunning. A textbook example of a silver fox. Magnificent specimen with a polished, impeccable beard and suit at that.
He could only aspire to age as gracefully as that.
As the other only one who wasn’t a family member and a co-host with Pierre, Thomas thought he should make him feel at home. Plus, he could get in a good word with grandpa Philippe for the night on his behalf.
Pierre saw his boyfriend holding a lively conversation with his grandfather’s friend as he engaged in a chat with the rest of his family. He had missed them dearly. His mom, his dad, his sisters all knew that he and Thomas were together, except for his grandpa.
He needed to set that straight.
He went outside with Thomas while they brought in the desserts. He needed fresh air.
"Are you sure it’s a good time?" Thomas leaned his back against the balcony. He took a sip of wine from his glass. He saw Pierre scratching his nape. He wanted so badly to hold his hand, to kiss him, to massage his back in that moment. But he couldn’t risk it.
Suddenly, the glass door flung open. They found Pierre’s grandfather and his friend together.
"Pierre, can we talk?" his grandpa Philippe looked him in the eye. He was also holding a glass of wine. Thomas cheered on himself for choosing a good one for the night, since Pierre couldn’t be trusted with that. Honestly, that guy was so lucky he was around.
"Sure, sir" Pierre stood up straight.
"I’ll leave you to it" Thomas got ready to leave.
"You can stay, Tom" the elderly man had a commanding voice that seemed a memory of his military days.
Thomas didn’t even try to say otherwise. Whatever was going to happen, it was going to happen then, it seemed.
"Pierre. There’s something, you have to know about your grandpa Phillipe" the man’s voice had a grave tone to it "And I want you to be the first one to know it. It can be hard for you to hear it. Okay?" he proceeded to take a good chug of his wine "You know you are your grandpa’s favorite grandson...".
The beginning of that sentence could not be anything good.
This man had to have cancer again.
Thomas could see it written all over his face. Hell, even in Pierre’s face it was clear.
It had to be a metastasis or something like that.
"From a while now, Harry..." his grandfather motioned to his silver fox friend. Pierre nodded, seeing he had trouble making sentences "You must know that he is your grandpa’s... partner".
Pierre took it in "So, Harry joined you in business and owns half of the pawn shop now or...?".
"No, I mean..." the eighty-year-old-man shook his head vigorously and let out a deep sigh "He is your grandpa’s..." his hand searched for the other silver-hair man’s one "Significant other...".
Okay. Now he HAD to leave Pierre alone with his grandpa. Thomas almost choked on the rest of his wine in a rather inelegant way.
Before he could excuse himself and retreat his ass from that place, Pierre topped his undignified reaction:
"Are you f***ing kidding me!?" Pierre quickly composed himself and pointed at the actor beside him "By the way, this is Thomas, he’s my boyfriend".
Later that night, when they were getting ready to leave, Pierre caressed the stubble on his nape before pulling him for a peck on his lips. He did it so openly, knowing his grandpa Philippe was watching out of the corner of the eye.
It felt amazing.