A Free Man In Paris

from the GayAuthors Summer 2006 Anthology

Special thanks to Kitty (PiscesRising) and Xandra Kitee for editing!

This is a story involving teenage gay males and may include sexually explicit content, adult language, and/or violence. If this kind of material is offensive to you, you are under the age of 18, or is illegal in the area where you live, do not read any further.

I was such a little wuss! I was sixteen years old and had never been away from home before. The closest I had ever come was the occasional sleepover with one of my friends. Heck, I'd never even been on a campout! And now, here I was, getting off an airplane in Atlanta, and on my way to a four-day band camp, all in preparation for a three week tour of Europe. Yes, I admit that I was a band geek, too. And me being the "responsible, hard-working, never gotten in trouble a day in his life or done anything adventurous" kind of teenager that I was, my high school band director had recommended me to participate in the "Pride of America National Honor Marching Band," a group of top high school musicians from across the country that went on a tour of Europe every summer to represent our country.

I didn't like the idea, but unfortunately, my mom thought it was a "wonderful opportunity." She figured I needed to become more cultured, or something. So, she made the decision to forego her own trip back home to visit her family this year -- without even consulting me -- and spend the money for me to go to Europe to see old cathedrals, castles, museums, and art galleries. And in between the sight-seeing, I'd be wearing a really geeky-looking uniform -- complete with a gay-looking plume sticking out of the top of my hat -- and playing in the marching band, performing in cities and small towns in Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria, and Holland.

Sure, most sixteen-year-olds would probably be thrilled if they got the chance to hang out in Europe for almost an entire month, and I was actually interested in things like old churches and museums. But I would have been more excited if I'd been going with my family or friends. Actually, going with my best friend, Joey -- who I totally had the hots for -- would have been ideal ... of course he didn't know that I wanted him, nor could he ever know. I didn't think my friends would feel uncomfortable about my being gay; they were all cool and totally open-minded about stuff like that ... but I would feel uncomfortable about it. Maybe I was just weird.

Anyway, I was being sent off to another continent with about a hundred complete strangers. I wasn't exactly anti-social ... well, maybe a little ... okay, quite a bit, actually. I did have friends at school, but most of them I had known since elementary or middle school, and those friendships had been painstakingly nurtured over a long period of time. Not to mention, I had never been the one to initiate any of it. I wasn't too good at just going up to people and being, like, "Hey, I'm Austin, will you be my friend?" How totally lame would that be?

So, needless to say, I wasn't too psyched about being suddenly thrust in with an entirely new group of people and expected to be all friendly with them. Not to mention, this was going to be a "working vacation." I'd be subjected to marching, playing my alto saxophone, running through endless drills and routines, and then performing in front of large groups of people who probably couldn't care less. And since Americans weren't exactly thought of that highly in Europe at the moment, we'd be lucky if we didn't get rotten tomatoes and eggs thrown at our heads. In the packet of information they had mailed to us, they suggested we bring little souvenirs with American flags on them -- like pencils, buttons, and stickers -- to hand out to the little kids after we performed. I thought it would be a better idea to plaster the Canadian flag all over myself so that I wouldn't get lynched.

Technically, I guess I was sort of European, since my father was part Dutch (although he left my mom when I was really little), but I'd been born and raised in America. My mother was Taiwanese, which basically made me a mutt. No one could ever figure out what ethnicity I was unless I told them. Although, generally, I could pass for your typical boy-next-door Caucasian teen, except with jet black hair that I kept trimmed in a buzz cut and dark brown eyes that slightly revealed my Asian heritage. It was also probably the Asian blood that also made me short, only about 5'7", and pretty scrawny.

Although my friends always told me that I was "sooo adorable" -- which was not what I wanted to be seen as -- I didn't think I was all that special. My mother's relatives always praised me for having such light-colored skin, which was a sign of beauty in most Asian cultures, but I'd always wanted to be a little darker. I couldn't really do anything about my genetic make-up, though, now could I?

As I got off the plane, I noticed a bored-looking man holding up a sign with my name on it, and the logo for the "Pride of America" group. He just looked me over quickly and grunted after I walked over to him and told him that I was, in fact, the Austin he was looking for, then told me to grab my bags and took me to a large van that was waiting out front.

The drive to the college campus that we would be staying at for the next few days only took about fifteen minutes. As soon as I got out of the van and saw all of the people milling about, with luggage and instrument cases strewn all over the large grassy area in front of the dormitory, I was suddenly reminded of the one time I'd gone to summer camp, when I was ten years old. It was that same kind of atmosphere and feeling. I didn't like it. It seemed like everyone else was already laughing and talking and making friends, and, being one of the last ones to arrive, I was kind of left out.

Since most of the college kids were gone for the summer, I was fortunate enough to get a single room, but that was about the only good thing about the camp. First of all, the cafeteria food absolutely sucked. I couldn't wait to get to Europe where I could eat some good food. Yeah, I loved to eat, which was surprising since I never seemed to be able to gain any weight.

Also, over those four days, I didn't make a single friend. No one picked on me or anything, and I chatted casually a few times with some of the other saxophone players, but when we had our free time, I usually just shut myself up in my dorm room and read a book, listened to my iPod, or slept. Those were my three favorite hobbies. I didn't even really like playing the saxophone. That was something my parents had basically forced me to do when I was in elementary school, and I always seemed to get dragged into the band program every year after that. It was stupid, really, since none of my friends at school were even in the band.

Fortunately, those four days passed relatively quickly, and the next thing I knew, I was on a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight to Brussels, Belgium, where we would spend our first night in Europe before taking a bus to Paris. The flight was boring as hell. All the other kids were running all over the plane, causing trouble for the flight attendants, while I just tried to sleep most of the way.

I had to admit, though, that when the plane finally arrived in Brussels in the morning, it hit me that I was now on a totally different continent, in a totally different culture, and in a totally different time zone. It was kind of cool. As soon as we checked into our hotel, where I unfortunately had to share a room with three other guys -- all of whom were loud and obnoxious assholes, by the way -- they took us right out to go sight-seeing. They didn't want us to fall asleep in our hotel rooms, explaining that if we could stay awake all day and get to bed at a normal time, that would help us get over the jet lag more quickly.

After a short bus ride, we arrived at the famous Grand Place Square, filled with breathtakingly beautiful Gothic, Baroque, and Art Nouveaux architecture, along with old Guild Halls and the famous Hotel De Ville. After stopping at a small caf
é for lunch, we then walked three blocks, past dozens of souvenir stands and restaurants, to see perhaps Brussels' most famous attraction, the Manneken Pis, a bronze statue of a small boy taking a piss. We also took in some of the other famous historical sites in and around the area of the Grand Place Square, including the Royales Galeries Saint-Hubert and the Cathedral of St. Michel and Gudule, built between the 14th and 16th centuries, and named after the two patron saints of Brussels. We finally made it to the Palais Royal, which was stunningly beautiful, and even though we weren't allowed to go inside, I managed to get some great photos of the majestic palace at twilight.

Unfortunately, the other kids didn't seem as interested as I was in seeing all of the historical sights. They were more interested in finding a pub, since they were able to buy beer freely in Belgium. I didn't understand why you would want to come all the way to Europe just to spend your time drunk, when there were so many incredible things to see -- not to mention a number of really hot Belgian boys whom I had noticed and managed to surreptitiously take some pictures of as well.

For a few moments, I imagined what it might be like to snuggle up in bed with one of those cute boys, running my hands all over his soft, smooth skin, feeling his warm breath tickling my ear as he whispered romantic words to me in that sexy accent. But alas, that was about as unlikely to happen as my prim and proper Asian mom turning into a leather-clad lesbian biker chick.  Yes, I was a total virgin. I'd never even kissed a boy before. And I didn't see that changing any time in the near future.

That night at the hotel could best be described as an absolute nightmare. My three roommates had purchased a large collection of alcohol that afternoon and invited a number of the girls from the group to our room for a "party," along with some skanky-looking Belgian prostitute -- whom they had literally chosen out of the window of a brothel, like they were picking out a dress or something. I needed my sleep, and was not happy about being kept awake all friggin' night long by their drunken antics and the sounds of moaning and squealing that could only be one thing ... ewwww! The only way I could get away from them was to lock myself in the bathroom and sleep in the tub.

I had actually had a pretty good time that afternoon, but if this was how I would be spending every night for the rest of the trip, it was going to be as miserable as I had originally thought.


We were up bright and early the following morning, and after a quick breakfast of croissants and ostrich pâté (hadn't the Europeans heard of bacon and eggs?), we boarded the buses and began our journey to Paris. Having not slept at all the night before, thanks to my wonderful roommates, I conked out on the bus, and didn't wake up until we pulled up outside of our hotel in the Latin Quarter. The hotel didn't look all that great, but the neighborhood seemed interesting enough, with narrow, cobblestone streets and lots of neat little restaurants and cafés.

I wasn't exactly looking forward to being in Paris, though. Fortunately, we would only be there for three days before heading to Luxembourg, and then on to Germany. I'd always heard horrible things about the French, such as their arrogance, cultural superiority complex, distaste for bathing regularly, and, of course, their rudeness -- especially towards Americans. I'd also heard that even though many Parisians could speak passable English, they often simply chose not to, which wouldn't be very helpful to me, since I couldn't speak a word of French. That pissed me off. We had saved their butts in both World Wars, and my grandfather had even fought for the French Resistance during World War II while he was serving with the American military. So I was definitely not planning on going out of my way to be nice to those damn beret-wearing, arrogant, stuck-up frog pricks.

As soon as we had checked into the hotel, we were all gathered up and taken on a short walking tour of the neighborhood, passing the famous Sorbonne University, and eventually stopping at a
quaint little café for lunch. The staff at the restaurant looked horrified at the horde of teenagers who had suddenly descended upon their quiet establishment, and I could imagine the sense of disdain they felt when they saw many of us wearing our "Pride of America" t-shirts with big American flags emblazoned on the front.

Not having made any friends on the trip so far, I sat at a small table in the corner by myself. I couldn't have read the menu if my life depended on it, except for the shocking revelation of how expensive it was to buy a small bottle of Coca-Cola. So, I just randomly picked out something called a croque-monsieur, and prayed that it wasn't kidneys or something equally gross. I was all about trying new things, but I did have my limits. To my surprise, though, it turned out to be a simple melted ham and cheese sandwich, and came with French fries ... go figure! I guess I was expecting something a bit more elegant, this being Paris and all, with supposedly some of the best food in the world. Hell, I could've gotten a ham and cheese sandwich back home in the States.

After I had guzzled down my third over-priced Coke, and a bottle of Orangina, I had to piss like a race horse. I managed to find the small restroom, tucked away in a back corner of the
café, but it was occupied. However, on the way to the café, I had noticed what looked like a port-a-pottie by the side of the street, except you had to stick a coin in to use it. So, I got up from the table and made my way outside, searching out the toilet. When I eventually found it, I was not amused to discover that it was occupied as well. As I stood there waiting for what seemed like ages, I could only imagine that whoever was in there must be taking the king of all dumps, and when I finally did get in, it would probably stink to high heaven.

Standing outside the toilet, I was seriously wishing I could become invisible, because the fact that I was grasping my crotch and rocking back and forth in obvious discomfort was unlikely to be overlooked by passers-by -- they'd either think I was a pervert or a recent escapee from the insane asylum. Although, I guessed it was also possible that they might just think I had to pee really bad. Sometimes I hated being so paranoid.

Just as I thought I was about to piss my pants, I heard a voice from behind me.

"Need to use the W.C.?" the voice asked, in a distinctly teenage male voice, with a slight accent.

I turned around to look at the source of the voice, and beheld one of the most incredible sights imaginable -- a beautiful teenage boy, probably my age or a year older, with medium-length, wavy brown hair that hung about halfway down to his shoulders, deep blue eyes, and a golden tan. He was wearing a wry grin and was just oozing with what could best be described as a kind of confident sensuality. Fortunately, I did happen to know what "W.C." meant.

"Uhhh ... uh-huh," I stammered, while at the same time subtly checking to make sure I wasn't drooling. I figured grunting would be a more effective communication tool in case his English didn't turn out to be that good, or at least that's what I tried telling myself.

"There's a
café two doors down. You can use the W.C. there, and you don't have to pay for it," he said, pointing in the direction of a small café, with a couple of tables set up outside.

Now why hadn't I thought of that? Grrrr ...

So, I followed the stunningly beautiful boy into the
café, watching the loose-fitting khaki shorts he was wearing hanging low around his slender hips. He pointed me in the direction of the bathroom, and when I was finished with one of the most incredible pisses of my entire life, I found him waiting right outside of the bathroom door for me, still wearing that disarmingly sexy smile.

"Would you like to join me for a coffee?" he asked.

I really did need to get back to the group before someone noticed I was missing -- although, come to think of it, it was pretty doubtful that anyone would notice for quite a while. But it would definitely be a problem if I was late returning, only to find the group already gone. I'd be all alone by myself in a strange, foreign city where I didn't speak the language. Plus, my mother had always taught me not to talk to strangers. Come to think of it, though, she never said I shouldn't have coffee with them.

"Sure," I replied hesitantly. "But I can't stay long, or I might get separated from my group."

"No problem," he said, motioning me over to one of the tables and asking for two cups of
café au lait from the bored-looking waiter.

"So ... ummm ... what's your name?" I asked, as we sat down.

"Je m'appelle Mathieu, et toi?"

I just looked at him blankly, and he started chuckling.

"I said my name is Mathieu," he quickly added. "So you are American? What's your name?"

"I'm Austin," I replied. "And yes, I'm American."

"So what brings you to Paris?" he asked. "You said you are with a group?"

"It's kind of this touring marching band thingy," I answered, blushing slightly. "We're traveling around Europe for three weeks and performing. We're here in Paris for three days."

"Ah, so kind of like a holiday, hein?" he asked.

I nodded.

"I'm here on holiday, too," he said. "I'm from Nice, in the south of France. I come to Paris often to ... uhhh ... how do you say? Hang in?"

"Hang out," I corrected him. So much for being a brilliant conversationalist.

"Merci," he said, with a wink.

I just blushed in response, and tried not to stare too long at his gorgeous eyes and long eyelashes.

"So you like this marching band thing?" he asked, pulling a pack of cigarettes out of his front pocket and lighting one. I'd always detested smoking -- an absolutely filthy and disgusting habit -- but watching him bring the cigarette to his full, red lips, inhale, and blow the smoke back out was incredibly sexy! If I'd known him a little longer, though, I probably would have nagged him to quit.

"Not really," I admitted. "The people are all assholes, especially my roommates. They stay up drinking all night, and I can't get any sleep. And I'm not really into the whole performing thing. I kind of got roped into it by my mom."

"Well, do you like Paris, at least?" he inquired. I loved the way he pronounced Paris. It was just so ... so ... French. And in spite of my prejudices against the French, I had a hard time disliking this particular one.

"It's alright, I guess," I answered, with a shrug. "But it's not exactly fun hanging out with those people. And we're only here for three days, one of which will be filled with a rehearsal and performance, so it's not like we'll get to see much."

Mathieu feigned a cute puppy-dog frown that just about made my heart melt.

As the conversation went on, I found it easier and easier to talk with him. I discovered that he was seventeen, a year older than me, as I'd guessed, and that he had spent a year in London as an exchange student, hence the reason for his excellent English -- although he insisted that his English was horrible. He was also apparently quite intelligent, since he was hoping to go to the Sorbonne for university. After chatting casually back and forth for about fifteen minutes, I felt kind of proud of myself that I was managing to have a conversation with a random cute guy without getting all tongue-tied.

"Alors, you are a gay?" he suddenly asked, causing me to spit a mouthful of coffee on the linen table cloth, and earning me a sharp glare from the waiter.

"Excuse me? What makes you think that?" I retorted, suddenly extremely self-conscious and worried that I might be "obvious" or something. The tone in his voice didn't make it seem like he had a problem with it at all ... but it still wasn't exactly a comfortable subject with me yet.

"Never mind. Maybe just ... uhhh ... wishful thinking," he said, with a wink.

Normally, I probably would have taken the easy way out that he had presented me with and let the subject drop, but his comment (and wink) made it obvious that not only was he gay, but that he might be interested ... in me! And if I couldn't even admit it to someone else who was gay -- not to mention gorgeous -- how was I ever going to admit it to anyone else?

"Yes, I'm gay," I acknowledged quietly.

Mathieu just nodded and smiled, which was then followed by several moments of a rather awkward silence.

"So," he began, bringing the conversation back to life. "Since you don't really like the group you're with, and you won't get to see much of Paris, how about you leave them and spend the next three weeks with me? I have a small room near the university, and I can show you around. I'd hate to see such a cute American boy disappointed in my country."

EXCUSE ME?!?! This boy, whom I had met not even an hour before, just asked me if I wanted to ditch the group I came here with and hang out with him for the next three weeks? Can anyone say C-R-A-Z-Y?!

"Are you serious?" I asked.

He nodded, casually taking another drag off his cigarette.

I was only sixteen years old, for chrissakes! If I were to just up and leave, it wouldn't take long for them to figure out that I was missing, and they would of course call the police, the American embassy, and worst of all ... my mother. Even if I was the type of person to do something so ... so ... insane, it would never work. But I wasn't that type of person, anyway. I didn't do crazy things. I didn't cut class, I didn't disobey my teachers or mom, I'd never tried a cigarette or a sip of alcohol, and I certainly did not go traipsing around foreign countries with strange boys, even if they were drop dead gorgeous. Okay, so my life was a little boring ... but it was safe.

And I was miserable.

"Yeah, let's do it," I sighed.

"Sans déconner!" he exclaimed, arching an eyebrow. "I mean ... really?"

"Yes," I said, trying to sound more confident than I really was. In all honesty, I figured that I'd be picked up by the police by the end of the day, but I'd at least get that one day of rebellion. Wasn't it Thomas Jefferson who said that a little rebellion now and then was a good thing? Or was that revolution?


"So, which side do you want?" Mathieu asked. We both stood there next to the bed that hardly looked like a "double," clad only in our boxers.

"That one, I guess," I replied, pointing to the side of the bed closest to the wall.

I had never been so nervous in my life. All day, I had been expecting to get picked up by the police or something, and either put on a plane back home, or sent back to my group. I guess I didn't anticipate that things would get this far.

Right after I'd agreed to ditch my group, things started in motion. I surprised myself -- and I think Mathieu, too -- at how quickly I could come up with a plan of action on such short notice, especially since the whole idea wasn't even mine to begin with.

First, we immediately went back to the hotel where our group was staying to get my stuff. Since they would still be in Paris for the next couple of days, we had to make sure we didn't run into them. Fortunately, we had been given a very detailed itinerary of all of our activities for the entire three week trip, so all Mathieu and I had to do was check the itinerary and make sure we weren't in the same place on the same day. The next thing we did was stop by an Internet
café so I could send an e-mail to my mother and tell her what I was doing. I didn't expect that that would persuade her to call off the police, but at least she wouldn't worry that I had been kidnapped by international terrorists. Of course, I didn't mention that I was with a really cute -- and really gay -- French boy.

As for avoiding capture, I figured I'd need a disguise. Unfortunately, I wasn't that creative, so I just ended up with a ball cap and a pair of plain black sunglasses. I was smart enough, though, to toss out the stupid "Pride of America National Marching Band" t-shirt I'd been given to wear. I was also smart enough to get all of my traveler's checks cashed before I was reported missing, so they couldn't use that to track me.

Mathieu then took me back to the dingy-looking room where he was staying so we could get his stuff. My mother had given me enough money that we could afford to stay in a little nicer place than that. Mathieu checked us into our new hotel -- which wasn't all that great, but it was certainly better than where he had been staying -- and I made sure not to make my presence known to the desk clerk.

The room was quite dark, and the small lamp mounted next to the bed didn't help that much. It also smelled like stale cigarette smoke. I wasn't impressed by the earthtone colors chosen for the draperies, bedspread, and upholstery on the two art nouveau chairs, either. Nor was I very fond of the smell of mildew or the bathroom that appeared not to have been cleaned since the storming of the Bastille. But at least the sheets seemed to be clean, and the room was air-conditioned.

By the time we had completed all of our errands, it was already early evening, and after the busy afternoon we'd both had, we were starving. So, we went to a small restaurant near the hotel to get some dinner, and Mathieu introduced me to some 'real' French food ... and it was great! I had grilled shrimp with bacon brochettes, a salad with fried mozzarella balls and roasted tomatoes, and Raspberries Romanov for dessert. Mathieu also fed me several bites of the amazing grilled red snapper with herbes Provencales that he had ordered, and we shared a bottle of Pinot Noir wine. The food, wine, and atmosphere were all perfect, and I thought I'd died and gone to culinary heaven.

Back at the hotel, as we were climbing into bed, it finally hit me what I had done. Sure, I was scared, and I realized how much trouble I was going to get into ... but I didn't regret it. I realized the only thing I would probably regret would be if I didn't go through with it. I didn't want to look back on my teenage years and wonder why I had never done anything adventurous. I'd been nothing but an angel every day of my life, and now I wanted to know what it was like to be damned.

But that didn't stop me from feeling extremely nervous when I also realized that I was lying in bed with an incredibly hot, practically naked boy. It wasn't the first time I had done that, having slept next to my best friend, Joey, during numerous sleepovers. I'd been nervous then, too, but that was because I was afraid that I'd do something that might cause him to figure out that I was gay. But now, I was in bed with a boy who I knew was gay, and who I knew was attracted to me ... and I was most definitely attracted to him. And hence the present predicament ... what was I supposed to do about that?

Fortunately, I didn't have to worry about that for long, as I felt Mathieu pull me close to him. He wrapped his arms around me, and I melted into him completely. The sensations of his soft, smooth skin pressed tightly against my body, his warm breath tickling my neck, and his fingers tracing slowly up and down my back were almost too much to take. When I felt his soft lips press against mine and then part, allowing his tongue to snake its way gently into my mouth, I thought my entire body was going to explode.

At first, I was worried that I would be a horrible kisser, but soon discovered that being with another boy like that just felt so ... natural. My body, mouth, and tongue reacted almost instinctively to him as our kissing and rubbing grew more and more intense. The room was completely silent, except for the slight slurping sounds as our lips and tongues explored each other hungrily.

As we attempted to devour each other with our mouths and hands, I could feel Mathieu's erection pressing hard against mine, and it turned me on even more, knowing that only the thin fabric of our boxer shorts was separating us. At that point, my whole body was trembling, as if every muscle was in rebellion and every nerve ending had been erotically charged.

"Please make love to me," Mathieu whispered huskily into my ear.

"Okay," I managed to gasp, almost out of breath from our make-out fest.

If I hadn't already been so turned on, it might have occurred to me that I was still a virgin, and this would be my first time. I'd taken to kissing without much of a problem, but actual all-and-out sex was likely to be a bit more complicated. Not to mention, it probably deserved a little more consideration, especially since I'd just met Mathieu that day. I mean, I didn't want him to think I was easy or anything.

But try rationalizing that to a horny sixteen-year-old who was already practically naked and had a hot seventeen-year-old's tongue shoved down his throat. So, I did the only thing I could do -- I rolled over on to my back and waited. I got the impression that Mathieu was a bit more experienced than I was, so he'd have to take the initiative ... again. I was a little surprised, though, when he started putting the condom on my dick instead of his.

"Mon dieu,
chauve à col roulé!" Mathieu exclaimed, sounding surprised.


"Your penis ... it is ... uhhh ... not cut," he explained. "I thought all American boys had their
... errr ... prépuce ..."

"You mean 'foreskin'?" I asked.

He nodded.

"No, not all," I replied, with a grin. I guess I wasn't the only one with preconceived ideas about other cultures.

When it was all over, and after Mathieu had smoked a cigarette (I even had to take a few puffs to settle my overcharged nerves!), we lay in bed together, snuggling ... well, it was more like me clinging on to him for dear life, like a lost puppy dog. Someone should have told me that sex brought a lot of new emotions along with it, because I went from thinking that Mathieu was just a really hot guy to being quite attached. But did he feel the same way? I mean, did the sex really mean something? And why in the hell was I turning into a bundle of nerves over this? It was just sex, right? Well, really fabulous sex, actually!

It wasn't exactly how I had pictured my first time being, either. At the beginning, it was definitely more awkward than I had expected; but we gradually got comfortable with each other, and it turned out to be incredible. I was glad that we did end up doing it that first night, because that meant we could do it a lot over the next three weeks. After realizing how great it felt, both physically and emotionally, and how sweet and gentle Mathieu was, it would have sucked to have waited until our last night together, and only had the opportunity to do it once -- or at least as many times as I could have managed in one night. And considering that I would probably be grounded for the rest of my life once I got home, who knew when the next time I'd get the chance to have sex would be?


The next morning started off so ... French. We had coffee and baguettes at a small café next door to the hotel, as I listened to old men arguing with each other in an unintelligible language while they read the newspaper. Elegant-looking women, wearing large hats and carrying shopping bags, walked past us on the sidewalk, chatting cheerfully. The sky was a brilliant blue, and the sounds of traffic and car horns filled the air. Yet amidst all the hustle and bustle, everything still seemed so ... relaxed.

And even though it was only our second day together, I already felt so comfortable around Mathieu. He was so laid-back and easy to get along with, the exact opposite of me. Maybe it was a kind of "hero-worship" thing -- I wished I could be like him, so care-free and spontaneous. I was sick and tired of being a boring stick-in-the-mud. Maybe spending the next three weeks with Mathieu would help me to change that.

Of course, since I'd never been to Paris before, I wanted to see all of the typical touristy places. Mathieu had obviously been to all of those places one too many times, but he happily agreed to take me. He made an excellent companion, too. I had no doubt that he would do well at the Sorbonne, considering how damn smart he was, and all of the neat little tidbits of information and history that he told me about each of the places we visited. Things you probably would never get to hear from a tour guide.

I was certainly glad to have Mathieu around when it came to navigating the Paris Metro. It was very convenient for getting around the congested city, but a little confusing at first. Of course, that could also result from the fact that, being from a place like Kansas City, I'd never been on a subway before. All of the transfers and figuring out the cost of the fares was enough to give me a headache. I was so fascinated, in fact, that one time, I leaned out over the tracks to look down the darkened tunnel to see if I could spot the train coming, only to almost have my head knocked off my shoulders by the subway train as it roared into the station. Fortunately, Mathieu yanked me back in time, and properly chastised me for being such an idiot. At least, I think he chastised me -- he spoke so quickly, and in French, that I couldn't be too sure of what he was saying. But he sure didn't seem happy.

One thing I really liked about the Paris Metro, though, were all of the performers and artists. Some of them were absolutely dreadful, but some were really good. It was hard to believe that doing that was their livelihood, playing music or painting in the hopes that passers-by would toss some money into their instrument cases -- although most of them seemed to be very happy with what they were doing. Like Mathieu, they seemed so laid-back and ... free. I envied that freedom. Of course, part of that might have just been my own self-projections, and perhaps they weren't really as happy as I imagined them to be ... but I still liked to think that they were.

As we explored Paris each day and evening, I was coming to see why it was popular with artists. There was so much inspiration there. Everything, from the people to the countless styles of architecture, the scenery, brilliant sunsets, the lights that illuminated everything in the city at night, and just the whole atmosphere of the city -- it was so ... alive. I was totally blown away by some of the places we went to see, such as Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur -- which had the most breathtaking view of the city -- and the Hôtel des Invalides, which houses Napoleon's tomb.

It all seemed larger than life. The sights, smells, and sounds of the city converged to overwhelm the senses. It was one of the most amazing things I'd ever experienced. And having Mathieu there with me to share in it, and seeing him smile every time I gaped in wonder at something new, made it even better. He seemed to be excited that I was excited, and that just made me even more excited.

There was just so much to see, yet Mathieu seemed to know exactly how to make the best use of our time. I was especially awe-struck by the Louvre. It was one thing to see the Mona Lisa in a book, but it was an entirely different experience altogether to see it three feet in front of you, as large as life. There was definitely something mysterious and slightly disarming about her smile. It was as if she knew something, some kind of secret that no one else did, and she found it to be amusing. And my being such a huge fan of The DaVinci Code made traipsing through the maze of passageways and galleries all the more exciting, imagining that I was on my own detective hunt. Hey, I was only sixteen. A kid should be allowed to have a little fantasy every now and then, right?

But even better than visiting the big tourist attractions were the simple things, like taking slow, romantic walks through some of Paris' beautiful parks, stuffing my face with chocolate crêpes, and, of course, the shopping -- every gay boy's dream! One of my more memorable (and less glamorous) moments was late one night, walking through the Greek section of town. I had bought a Gyro sandwich to eat. After taking only a few bites, I was suddenly accosted by a one-eyed homeless man.

"Un morceau,
s'il vous plaît," he pleaded with me.

Needless to say, I freaked, and started shrieking like a little sissy girl. Barely speaking a word of French, I thought I was being mugged.

"He just asked for a piece of your sandwich," Mathieu explained, chuckling.

Relieved that I wasn't about to be robbed, I ended up giving the rest of the sandwich to the man, although I quickly grabbed Mathieu by the arm and hurried away. I didn't want to stick around for any "thank yous" or anything like that. It was a terrifying experience.

One day, Mathieu took me to visit the grave of Jim Morrison, the lead singer of the Doors, who happened to be buried in a Paris cemetery. I didn't see what was all that special about going to look at some gravestone, but Mathieu insisted it would be worth it. After taking the Metro, and then switching to a bus, we finally arrived at the old cemetery.

I was astounded when we got to Jim Morrison's grave and found hordes of people there, with a single, bored-looking police officer on guard. The entire grave was covered with cards, letters, flowers, and even joints! I almost jumped out of my skin when some French guy next to me lit one up and offered it to me ... with the police officer standing right there! Fortunately, Mathieu declined for the both of us. It was certainly an interesting sight, and I managed to take quite a few pictures of the whole scene.

We even stopped a passer-by and asked her to snap a photo of Mathieu and me, standing together in front of the grave. I was a little stunned when Mathieu wrapped his arm around me and planted a huge kiss on my cheek, but the woman who was taking the picture didn't even flinch. Maybe I had a lot to learn about French culture and acceptance. In fact, whenever Mathieu put his arm around me, or held my hand as we were walking down the street -- which took some getting used to for me -- or even gave me a peck on the lips, no one seemed to notice or care. It was such an odd feeling. I never would have dared do something like that back home, but things were just so different here. Perhaps it had something to do with Paris having a gay mayor! But I liked that feeling. I craved the affection. And it all made me feel so ... free.

We eventually got tired of walking around the city, going to all the usual tourist traps and museums, so we decided to take a bus trip out of the city to visit some of the nearby palaces. Although the Loire Valley or Dordogne were the most well-known for their beautiful palaces, Paris also boasted several amazing sites, such as the famous Versailles, home of Louis XIV. Our first stop was Fontainebleau, reputed to have once been the home of Napoleon. It was a beautiful sprawling complex, with breathtakingly ornate gardens.

The inside was even more incredible, with more rooms than one could possibly imagine, all lavishly decorated, with ornate carvings and stunning artwork. You could literally feel the history in that place, and almost sense Napoleon himself walking those same halls. I wondered what it would be like to live in such a magnificent palace. I wanted to stay even longer, but Mathieu insisted that there was much more to see.

Our next stop was even more incredible -- the Château de Chenonceau, which was constructed during the 16th century on the river Cher for the king's mistress, Diane de Poitiers. Mathieu explained to me that she was a larger-than-life figure in French history, and still a benchmark of beauty and intelligence in French culture. I loved Fontainebleau and Versailles, but this place was simply awe-inspiring, with its magnificent beauty and dreamlike quality. The forecourt, demarcated by moats, resembled a medieval castle. As we walked along the piers of a former fortified mill, we came upon the monumental entrance. The ch
âteau itself straddled the river, which you could walk across through the grand gallery, built by Catherine de' Medici. The view through the eighteen large gallery windows was absolutely stunning.

I loved hearing all of the interesting little historical tidbits that the tour guide mentioned as we walked through the many rooms. But, unfortunately, there were many parts of the ch
âteau that were inaccessible to the public. I hated when they did that, because those were usually the best places to see. Of course, being the good boy that I was, I would normally just have shrugged it off and gone on with the tour. There wasn't anything I could do about it, anyway. Mathieu, however, had other ideas. We waited for a few moments until the tour guide had led the group into the next room, then Mathieu took me by the hand and led me up a set of stairs that was roped off.

After walking through a maze of hallways, praying that we wouldn't run into a security guard or someone from the maintenance staff, we found a small, dingy-looking study. The antique furniture, although covered with dust, was gorgeous, and I could only imagine the value of the hundreds of old volumes that filled the wooden bookcases. I could have done without the ladders, tarps, and paint cans that littered the room, but it was still definitely cool. After spending a few minutes looking around, running my fingers across the priceless furniture and books, and staring appreciatively at the paintings that were hanging on the wall, I was ready to head out. I was sure we were bound to be caught snooping around where we weren't supposed to be. Apparently, however, Mathieu had something else in mind.

He pushed me gently up against one of the bookcase-lined walls and pressed himself up behind me. I could feel his warm breath against my neck, and his erection poking against my butt.

"Je bande pour toi," he whispered huskily in my ear, as he began rubbing his hand along my shorts-covered bottom. "Je veux te sauter."

"Huh?" I asked, my voice cracking.

"I said I am hard for you. I want to fuck you," he replied.

"Uhhh ... I don't know if that's a good idea right now, Mathieu," I replied nervously. "I mean, someone could walk by here any time, and I didn't bring any condoms with me."

"No one will come up here. Trust me. And I brought this," he said, pulling a condom out of his pocket and showing it to me.

Feeling him pressed up against me, his breath tickling my neck, I wasn't in much of a position to resist ... and I didn't want to. There was something thrilling about doing it where we could be discovered at any time, not to mention we were going to do it in a famous French castle!

Needless to say, I was putty in his hands, and I enjoyed every last moment of it. I had discovered, though, that I tended to get a little loud when I was getting fucked ... okay, I admit it, I screamed, although it was most definitely in pleasure, and not in pain. I just hoped no one heard us.


After about two weeks traipsing all over Paris with Mathieu, I was beginning to get a little confused. I wasn't really sure what I was to him, or what he was to me, for that matter. At first, he was just a cute boy who was showing me around Paris. Then, the relationship quickly took on a sexual element. The idea of being "boyfriends" seemed highly impractical, since I was only going to be in Paris for another week, and then Mathieu and I would be separated by an entire ocean. So were we just "fuck buddies," then? I didn't like the thought of that. I didn't want to be anyone's fuck buddy.

But it didn't feel that way. Mathieu didn't treat me like he was just using me for sex. He treated me so well, took care of everything I needed, and was just so sweet and romantic. That didn't seem to me like what a "fuck buddy" was. At any rate, I was definitely starting to develop feelings for Mathieu that I wasn't expecting. I just didn't know how he felt, and it seemed kind of stupid to even bring up the topic, since we both knew that this couldn't last, whatever it was. But it was so difficult not to be enamored of his sweet, sensitive, and romantic nature ... and did I mention the incredibly passionate, wild, yet gentle sex that we had every night? I was really scared of falling in love, though. I mean, I guess you don't really get to choose when it happens ... it just sort of does. But I knew that if I let myself feel that, I would end up getting my heart broken.

Maybe there was no need to talk about it, though. Perhaps I should just enjoy each moment, and not worry about what every little thing meant. And each of those little moments was perfect. For instance, one day, late in the afternoon, we were sitting together, sipping espresso on Montmartre Street, watching the people walk by, taking in the sights and sounds of the bustling city around us. Mathieu started drawing a picture of the sunset on the paper tablecloth. I was shocked at how talented an artist he was.

When he was finished, he tore off the section of the tablecloth that he had been drawing on and gave it to me. For some reason, that small gesture touched me deeply. It was totally spontaneous and off-handed, yet seemed so romantic and genuine -- a special gift from Mathieu to me, something no amount of Euros could buy, and symbolized the relaxed, care-free, yet intense relationship that we had developed over such a short period of time. It just made me fall for him even more.

And then there were the late night walks we took down the Champs-Elys
ées, holding hands, looking in the windows of all of the chic boutiques and world-famous shops, like Cartier, and wondering aloud how it would feel to be able to wear some of those horribly expensive things. When I would start spacing out and daydreaming, Mathieu would suddenly tickle me, or goose me, and then take off running down the street, daring me to chase him. In some ways, it was childish, but what was wrong with acting like a child from time to time? And chasing after him down the Champs-Elysées, with the brilliantly illuminated Arc de Triomphe in the distance, I once again felt so ... free. He had opened up something in my heart, something so new. It was like some kind of drug, and I never wanted that feeling to go away.

During our last week, we spent most of our time wandering around some of the lesser-known sections of Paris, giving me a chance to see what "real" Parisians were like. The summer sun was hot, and I got to enjoy the view of Mathieu walking around shirtless, his smooth, flawless bronze skin and beautifully toned body covered with a sheen of sweat, reflecting the bright sunlight. Not even Michelangelo's statue of David could compare to the perfection I saw in Mathieu. He truly was one of the most beautiful boys I had ever laid eyes upon. It kind of made me wonder what he could possibly see in someone like me.

Anyway, he took me to the Quartier du Marais -- the "Swamp Quarter" -- which was home to the new Opéra Bastille, and also happened to be the "gay section" of the city. The area was criss-crossed with narrow streets, vestiges of the medieval layout of the city, Mathieu had explained. I had never been to the "gay section" of any city, so I couldn't really tell if the one in Paris was different from any others. But it was interesting, with lots of gay-friendly shops. Mathieu also took me on a romantic walk along the Canal Saint-Martin. It was a quiet and peaceful place, lined with trees and beautiful buildings, and seemed somehow detached from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city.

Mathieu even took me to meet some of his friends, several of whom were also gay. At first, I was very nervous. I was expecting to be treated rudely because I was an American, thinking I would probably be personally blamed for the war in Iraq, American cultural hegemony, and all of the other supposed "evils" of America. To my surprise, though, when we went out for coffee and chatted with his friends, no one even mentioned politics. They just talked about the typical things teenagers tended to talk about, like their friends, what they'd been doing for the summer, which universities they'd like to attend, which new cell phone model they wanted to buy, and which famous model was getting diddled by which sports star.

They were even kind enough to speak in English with each other -- even though they were all native French speakers -- simply out of consideration to me. I was stunned, to say the least. Almost all of my preconceptions about the French had been washed down the drain. I didn't even manage to get a whiff of strong body odor from them!

Mathieu's friends thought it would be a good idea to take a day trip to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. So, the next day, one of Mathieu's friends came to pick us up in his car, and we headed out on the one hundred and seventy mile trip toward St. Laurent-sur-Mer. The cemetery and memorial were breathtaking, both somber and exquisitely beautiful. I took numerous photographs of the semicircular colonnade and reflecting pool, as well as the bronze "Spirit of American Youth" statue.

With the help of one of the tour guides from the information center, I even managed to find my grandfather's grave. Although I'd never met my grandfather, seeing his final resting place was very moving, and I even shed a few tears. I couldn't thank Mathieu and his friends enough for taking me there. To my surprise, which I was beginning to see was simply due to my own ignorance, they all seemed humbled and reverent as we walked around the grounds. These were our friends, with whom we had fought and died for the same causes, side-by-side. Sure, the politicians on both sides loved to bicker with each other and stir up conflict. But when it came down to it, these were our friends. They had been since the time of the American Revolution, and still were today. Politicians were politicians, wherever you went. They didn't represent the "real" people, and I had found that the French were nothing like what I had been expecting.

Eventually, though, it was time to head back to Paris for my last few days with Mathieu. Once we got back to the city and bid farewell to his friends, we decided to just walk around, stop at some small caf
és, and chat. I knew my time there was drawing to a close, and I was going to be very sad to be leaving not only Paris, but especially Mathieu. I knew for sure now that I had fallen completely for him. It didn't seem fair that I could meet such a wonderful guy, and there be no chance that we could ever really be "together."

"Austin, I've had a great time with you these three weeks," Mathieu said shyly, as we were once again sitting at a sidewalk caf
é, sipping some wine, and nibbling on some cheese and baguettes.

"Me, too," I managed to say, with my mouth full.

"I mean, at first, I just thought you were a really cute guy ... and I guess I was sort of hitting on you. I didn't actually expect anything to happen," he admitted. "But after getting to know you, I felt something ... different."

"I know," I replied, blushing. "I feel the same way, too. I just don't think there's much we can do about it. I'm leaving in just a few days."

"Oui, mais je t'adore. I really like you, and if it wasn't for the fact that we live so far apart, I would be honored to be your lover," he said softly.

The way he said that sounded so heart-felt, so sincere, and I had to wipe a few stray tears from my eyes. We had met by chance. Fate apparently had brought us together, and it seemed so cruel that after finding each other, and realizing our feelings went beyond just physical attraction, we now had to be separated. And the chance of us ever getting back together was practically nil. Mathieu planned on going to the Sorbonne, and I had to go back to Kansas City. On the bright side, though, falling for Mathieu had helped me get over my crush on my best friend, Joey, even if he did have the sexiest nose on the face of the earth.

"I wish we could, too," I said, placing my hand gently over his and giving it a tender squeeze. "But I guess it was just written in the stars. You've opened up a whole new world to me, and showed me things I've been blind to, or too scared of, for a long time. That's made it all worth it."

Yikes! Where in the hell did I learn to speak so eloquently? It must be something in the French water or something!

Mathieu just nodded and smiled shyly, shedding a few tears of his own.

It just so happened that it was pouring outside on our last day together in Paris, so we decided to spend the whole day in the hotel room, talking, snuggling, kissing, and, of course, making love. I was a bit surprised (and relieved) that we had managed to evade the police for an entire three weeks. But a bit of luck, and good planning, seemed to have paid off. Ever since I had sent that e-mail to my mother, I had refused to check my messages, because I was sure that there would be at least fifty messages in my inbox, no doubt telling me that I would be grounded until I turned eighteen ... or forever. But it was worth it. Any punishment would have been worth it for the amazing things I had learned and experienced during my three weeks that summer with Mathieu in Paris.

The following day, when Mathieu accompanied me to the bus station where I would catch a bus to the airport in Brussels to meet back up with my group, was extremely difficult. Neither of us wanted to say good-bye, and we both cried for quite a while. We exchanged phone numbers and e-mail addresses, and I hoped that we could at least stay in contact. He may not have been my "boyfriend," but he was one of the best friends I'd ever had, and he had completely changed my life. There was no way I would ever forget him or the incredible time we spent together. And, deep in my heart, I knew that I would find a way to see him again, no matter what it took. And he made the same promise to me. Of course, promises made between two young, slightly naive and love-struck teenage boys have always been meant to be broken, but I could still dream, couldn't I?

Once we said our final good-byes, and shared a last, long, passionate kiss, I boarded the bus for Brussels. After several hours driving down the highway at breakneck speeds, the bus finally arrived at the airport. As soon as I got in the door, I noticed my group over by the check-in counter. The director immediately spotted me walking toward them.

"Where in the hell have you been, Austin?" he chastised me.

"Just hanging around," I replied enigmatically.

He eyed me suspiciously. "I hope it was worth it. You're going to be in a hell of a lot of trouble when you get home."

"Oh, it was definitely worth it," I replied, with a wry grin.

Copyright 2006. All Rights Reserved. No parts of this story may be copied, reproduced, in print or in any other format, without express written consent from the author.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to persons living or dead are purely coincidental.

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