A/N: Something I wrote ages ago that I should have posted ages ago. Aiee. Please review.
SECRETS IN VENICE: OF WINE AND WIT
It was a regular evening for the gentlemen in the corner booth. With indescribable wealth to their names and lifestyles that border on hedonistic, it was no surprise to the people of Venice that they had such a strong bond, a trust… Then again, the people of Venice didn't know their history, and the two didn't think they needed to. To the Venetians, they were just another pair of aristocrats out to soak in the beauty of La Serenissima, and play at her charms.
The booth in the corner was spacious and comfortable. The seats were red velvet in a half-circle around a circular table with draped with a lace tablecloth flecked with shades of burnt terra di sienna and yellow ochre. They dined in leisure, sampling the finest of local cuisine at a comfortable pace, lots of song and conversation. Dinner was nearing its end when Raoul, the younger of the two, began to fall silent. Erik sent for a bottle of wine and, after pouring them glasses, eyed Raoul as he reclined back in his seat. "Raoul. You are hiding something from me. I can sense the mystery hanging from your lips and dancing in your eyes. You bear a secret that I'd like to know."
Thick, brooding silence before a smile crept across Raoul's countenance. He leaned forward, swirling the contents in his glass of wine. "Look into my eyes and tell me what you see."
Erik, indulging him, looked into his eyes. Referring to his reflection, he replied, "Well, I see me."
Raoul nodded and took a sip from his glass, allowing some of the syrupy, red liquor to linger on his lips. Erik marveled at the slick translucency of his lips, and sighed at that smile. Raoul's eyes darted around briefly before he leaned forward, but only so much as their lips barely touched. "Now," Raoul whispered into Erik's mouth. "Touch my lips, and tell me what overcomes you."
The tart wine vapor played on Erik's tongue. Erik's thin, expressive lips formed a wicked grin as he pulled away abruptly, much to Raoul's surprise, and placed one of his elongated fingers on Raoul's lips. He lightly stroked the young man's quivering lips and then placed it into his own mouth, savoring the flavors of wine and saliva sensitively, knowing that there was a possibility that he might not ever be able to do it again.
"Well?" said Raoul.
"It's you." Mused Erik. "It's me."
"Then there you have it." Replied Raoul as he contentedly leaned back into his soft, plush seat. "You are my secret. The sight of you will be in my eyes everlastingly, I see you whenever my lids are shut. The sound of you will never cease to tingle on my lips. Your words strike me. Erik, you are my secret. And I'm going to keep you. Forever."
Erik exhaled deeply and lowered his head to take a sip from his own glass. His eyes never left Raoul's face. Raoul noted that he was pleased. Erik reached into his coat pocket and produced a small black book. He pushed it across the table, towards Raoul. "Read me one." He said with a smirk.
Raoul curiously opened the book and scanned the first page. He nodded, and turned to the twenty-third page of the book. He scanned this page, quickly mouthing words under his breath with his eyes closed. He put the book down and rested his chin in his hand, his eyes on the flickering candles in the center of the table, part of a small but elaborate centerpiece. Raoul nodded to Erik, who nodded and raised his glass in acknowledgement. Raoul took a breath and spoke:
As an unperfect actor on the stage
Who with his fear is put beside his part,
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,
Whose strength's abundance weakens his own heart;
So I for fear of trust forget to say
The perfect ceremony of love's rite,
And in mine own love's strength seem to decay,
O'ercharged with burden of mine own love's might.
O, let my books be then the eloquence
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast,
Who plead for love and look for recompense
More than that tongue that more hath more expressed
O, learn to read what silent heart hath writ.
To hear with eyes belongs to love's fine wit.
His eyes never left Erik's as he uttered each word with care, his gray-green eyes that glazed silver with the candle held his eyes of virgin blue captive. As soon as Raoul spoke the last word, Erik immediately stood up and moved to Raoul's side. Raoul's eyes widened but Erik greeted it with an exasperated smirk. "I don't care." He said, just before putting his lips over Raoul's. Erik arranged himself at an angle so, to the passersby, it looked like he was only whispering something into Raoul's ear. He did so for the sake of the part of Raoul's personality as Vicomte. He ended the kiss and, straightening himself, returned to his seat, with a smirk that seemed like a satisfied reaction to the fulfillment of an inside joke.
Raoul leaned back into his seat, grinning and shaking his head. "I will never be bored with you, will I?"
Erik shook his head complacently as a mustached waiter approached their table with a bottle of champagne. He placed it on the table and directed his words to the Vicomte. "Compliments of the ladies in that table, monsieur." He said, gesturing to a group of three young women in the near a corner, flitting their lashes and trying to act casual. Erik turned and groaned inwardly and told the waiter to send it back with his thanks
Raoul moaned and placed his head in his hands. "I'm sorry about that. You know women and their coquettish ways…"
Erik raised a brow and stiffened. "No. I don't."
Raoul paled, but Erik laughed, dismissing it coolly with a wave of his hand. "I'm flattered, actually." He then reached for the book across; turned to the last page, then flipped back a few. He read with a smirk, then spoke his piece.
Let me confess that we two must be twain
Although are undivided loves are one;
So shall those blots that do with me remain,
Without thy help, by me, be borne alone.
In our two loves there is but one respect,
Though in ours lives a separable spite,
Which thou it alter not love's sole effect
Yet doth it steal sweet hours from love's delight.
I may not evermore acknowledge thee,
Lest my bewailed guilt should do thee shame,
Nor thou with public kindness honor me
Unless thou take that honor from thy name
But do not so. I love thee in such sort
As, thou being mine, mine is thy good report
Raoul pursed his lips, but could not suppress a smile. Erik happily noted about how much the young man has been smiling in his care. They clinked their glasses and downed their drinks. Erik gestured to a waiter to their table and told him to bring another bottle of wine. "The finest of the reds this excellent house can offer!" he said to the waiter. "The fullest and most flavorful, if you please, and the largest bottle at that." As the waiter left, he said to Raoul with a smile. "The wine has to suffice for the night. It's going to be a long, long night." He winked and Raoul laughed uninhibitedly, soon joined by Erik.
The waiter groaned to one of his coworkers about the particularity of their tastes on his way to the wine cellars. "Well," he said with a sigh. "At least when they're satisfied, they tip generously.
Lucky for him, that night, the two were very, very satisfied.
March 13, 2005