All's Fair in Love
Written September 2003 / Posted February 2005
“I am not a fuddy duddy, Jess.” Steve looked at his lover in exasperation as he refuted what his lover had just said.
“Then go on one more ride with me,” Jesse countered with a cheeky grin. “Prove there’s no dud in your fud.”
Steve snorted. “I don’t remember you complaining last night about any duds.”
Jesse’s grin got wider. “Ah, but that was last night, Steve. This is the fair.” He poked at the bigger man’s stomach. “And it’s not all about food, either.”
Since he had, in fact, been contemplating another bag of mini-donuts, Steve blushed. Jesse saw it and chuckled, poking the older man’s belly again. Steve ducked, grabbing Jesse and wrestling him close before putting him into a headlock. He rubbed his knuckles against Jesse’s bushy blond hair, hanging on as his lover tried to squirm away.
“Hey, police brutality, police brutality!” Jesse was laughing as much as he was protesting.
It was a rare public display of affection for the two men. While demonstrative in private, the nature of Steve’s job meant they usually kept their hands to themselves when other people were around. It was the unofficial Gay Pride Day at the Los Angeles County Fair, though. Under the camouflage of many loving same sex couples, Steve and Jesse were being more open than normal.
“Do you give?” Steve asked. In truth, Steve was about to ‘give’ himself. Trying to keep hold of a squiggly Jesse Travis was provoking all sorts of physical reactions. Gay Pride Day or no Gay Pride Day, there were limits.
“I give,” Jesse breathlessly conceded.
“I want to hear you say it.” Steve grinned. “Come on – ‘Steve is not a fuddy duddy.’”
“Steve,” Jesse said, going limp in the bigger man’s arms. “Steve is… a big bully.”
The detective’s arms had relaxed at his lover’s supposed surrender and Jesse was knave enough to take advantage of it. He squirmed out of Steve’s imprisoning embrace and danced just out of reach.
Steve Sloan crossed his arms across his chest and just looked at the younger man, slowly shaking his head. Rather than being put out by their antics, passers by smiled indulgently. The affection between the two was practically contagious.
“Fine, be that way,” Steve said smugly. “You’re still not gonna get me on one of those rides with you.”
Dr. Jesse Travis was a smart man and a good enough student of humanity to realize he’d exhausted the benefits of using his current tactics. Changing strategy, he decided it was time to bring out the big guns.
“Please?” He said plaintively. He stopped just short of bringing out the puppy dog eyes, sensing that he could easily overdo it.
Steve was not immune. The big man felt his heart melting, even though he was perfectly aware that his scamp of a lover was manipulating him like nobody’s business.
“All right,” Steve capitulated. Jesse’s face lit up – all the reward Steve could ask for changing his mind. Still, there was no reason to let the other man run amuck. “But I get to choose which one.”
“Okay,” Jesse agreed blithely. He hurried to Steve’s side and snuggled under his mate’s arm. “What about the Tilt-A-Whirl?”
“They ought to call it the ‘Tilt-A-Hurl,” Steve growled. “Sorry, babe, I can’t take spinning rides like I used to when I was younger.”
Jesse was undismayed, looking at the various amusement rides as they walked through the Midway. “Okay, then, the bumper cars.”
“Nah-uh,” Steve said, shaking his head. “We were already on those – I’m not letting you sucker me into that again.”
“You’re just mad ‘cause I’m a better driver than you,” Jesse said archly. “I nailed you but good.”
Steve used the hand that wasn’t wrapped around Jesse’s waist to rub the back of his neck. “You did at that. I can still feel it.”
Jesse reached up and kissed Steve’s jaw. “Sorry about that. I said I’d give you a massage when we got home, remember?”
The detective nodded. He hadn’t forgotten, he just wanted to make sure that Jesse hadn’t either. To say that he was looking forward to those deft fingers kneading his flesh was an understatement. “It was my own fault – but when I made you take those defensive driving courses, I had no idea how you’d use them.”
“Never pass up an opportunity to learn new skills, that’s my motto,” Jesse responded, conveniently forgetting how he’d protested at the time. “Hey, how about the rollercoaster?”
“Absolutely not,” Steve said firmly. “That thing doesn’t look safe.”
Jesse rolled his eyes. “All the rides out here have been inspected by the county. I heard about it on the news – it’s perfectly safe.”
“It doesn’t look safe, it looks rickety,” Steve disagreed. “And if our sorry excuse of a local media is as inaccurate about fair rides as they are about ongoing police investigations, you can just forget it. If the glorified talking head on the news wants to risk his or her self on that thing, more power to ‘em. You, however, I’m not risking.”
Steve’s statement gave Jesse goosebumps. Before Steve, he hadn’t had anyone be protective of him. It was a new sensation for the young doctor, but one that he relished. No matter what the situation, Jesse had resolved he never would take that feeling for granted. So, instead of being irritated by Steve’s attitude, it made him feel loved. Cherished, even.
Snuggling deeper under Steve’s arm, Jesse saw the perfect ride choice to go along with his now romantic mood. “How about the Ferris Wheel?”
“Good choice, babe,” Steve didn’t even hesitate. True, the ride was high but didn’t have any of the sharp plummets and corkscrew turns that the rollercoaster did, making it infinitely safer to his mother hen’s eye. Besides, the evening sky was clear; viewing the fair’s lights from the elevation the Ferris Wheel provided would be spectacular.
A few minutes and ride tickets later, the lovers were ensconced into their own Ferris Wheel car, the bucket-shaped compartment swinging gently as they waited for the next one to load.
“I can’t believe you growled at that guy,” Jesse said.
Steve was actually still frowning in the direction of the hapless fair worker. “He was taking his own sweet time ‘checking’ your safety belt.” He turned and dropped a quick kiss on Jesse’s nose. “He was ‘checking’ something all right, but it wasn’t your belt, babe.”
Jesse snorted. “I appreciate the sentiment, Tarzan, but not every guy is sizing me up. I’m glad you think so, but I’m really not that great of a catch.”
It was one of the few things the couple disagreed on. Looking at Jesse, with the way the multi-colored lights of the fair highlighted his blond locks… how the t-shirt he was wearing clung to nicely defined muscles… those blue eyes sparkling with mischief… Steve couldn’t imagine how anyone, man or woman, could not be attracted to him. Choosing not to argue, verbally, about his mate’s sex appeal, he instead bent and kissed the younger man thoroughly. Jesse still tasted faintly of cotton candy, making the kiss even sweeter than normal.
By the time they pulled apart, they realized that they were now at the very top of the Ferris Wheel. Neither man had even felt their car move.
“Wow, look at the view!” Jesse exclaimed, pulling slightly out of Steve’s arms to get a better look.
“Oh, I am, trust me,” Steve said, looking fondly at his lover. “And it’s absolutely gorgeous.”
It took Jesse a minute to figure out what Steve meant. “You have a one track mind,” he claimed, his blush indicating his pleasure at the compliment.
Just then, the bigger man’s stomach growled.
“Okay,” Jesse laughed, “maybe a two track mind.”
“Guess I should have had another foot-long after all,” Steve admitted ruefully.
Jesse patted the detective on his firm stomach, then leaned forward, waggling his eyebrows lecherously. “Just wait ‘til I get you home, sweetheart, and I’ll give you all the foot-long you can handle.”
Steve laughed. “Now who’s got the one track mind?”
“What can I say?” Jesse said defensively. “It’s from being crammed in with your big bod in all those amusement rides you made me go on. Pressed up against all that manly flesh, it’s a wonder I haven’t ripped your clothes off and had my wicked way with you yet.”
“Promises, promises,” Steve grinned. It was nice to know his lover appreciated his physique too.
“Well, when we get down from this ride, maybe we should call it a night and go home,” Jesse suggested. Then, realizing their car hadn’t moved for several minutes, he frowned. “If we ever get down from this ride, that is. I wonder what the hold up is?”
“I don’t know,” Steve said quietly. He looked down and saw a swarm of people by the controls for the ride. “I don’t like the looks of that.”
“Steve….” A hint of worry had crept into Jesse’s voice and he sidled closer to the older man.
“I’m sure it’s nothing, babe,” Steve reassured him. Unfortunately, he was wrong.
The fair employee that Steve had growled at, his bright orange shirt making him recognizable in spite of the distance to the ground, had gotten out a bullhorn and was giving instructions. “Folks, please stay seated. We’re having some technical difficulties. We should have you down in just a little bit. Don’t panic.”
“Oh, great,” Jesse muttered. “Don’t panic, he says. Whenever anyone tells you not to panic, it always means that there’s a good reason to panic!”
“It’s easy for him to say, he’s down there on the ground. We’re up here on the very pinnacle of this death ride….”
Jesse was working himself up into quite a lather, so Steve quieted him the best way he knew how. He kissed him. When he pulled back, Jesse opened his mouth to rant some more, so Steve kissed him again. And again. And again. Finally, Jesse calmed. He rested his head against Steve’s shoulder. The older man wrapped his arm around his lover’s shoulders, his hand lazily combing through Jesse’s hair.
“Sorry,” Jesse’s voice was subdued.
“Nothing to be sorry about,” Steve said firmly.
“It didn’t bother me how high it was up here until we couldn’t get down,” Jesse admitted.
Steve pressed a kiss to the top of Jesse’s head. “Well, judging from the sounds that were coming from the other cars, you weren’t the only one. Look at it this way, it could have been worse.”
Jesse lifted his head and looked at his lover skeptically. “It could have? How?”
The detective grinned. “We could have been on the rollercoaster and gotten stuck upside down.”
The smaller man flinched and then slowly smiled. “That would have sucked.”
“Yup,” Steve said, encouraging Jesse to settle back against him. “The view is still great. Look at all those lights.”
“Yeah,” Jesse admitted. “And if you listen, you can hear the music from all the rides, but you can’t hear all the people.”
“Not even the kids screaming because they didn’t win the ring toss,” Steve reminded him.
“I can’t say as I blame him,” Jesse responded. “You made it look so easy, winning that big stuffed dinosaur. I remember when I came to a fair with my friend, Timmy. Man, we must have spent $20 bucks between us trying to win that crap.”
“That’s all it is too, crap.” Steve said.
“Still, it was nice of you, giving your prize to that little boy.” Jesse’s voice was full of admiration.
“It was the only way to shut him up; that kid’s crying was giving me a headache,” Steve admitted sheepishly. He looked at Jesse in concern. “You didn’t want to keep it, did you?”
Jesse laughed. “No, I’m secure enough that you love me that I don’t need a four foot long blue sparkly dinosaur to remind me.” His expression became tender. “I appreciate you winning it for me, though. I always wanted to be able to do that.”
Steve was happy to see that the conversation was relaxing his lover. From the lack of progress, it looked like they were going to be up there for a while. “I should have figured you’d be crazy for the fair, Jess.” The more he thought about it, the more it seemed to fit. A county fair was exciting, colorful, and full of mouth-watering flavors. In other words, a lot of fun – just like Jesse.
“Yeah,” Jesse said. “When I was a kid, I went with my friends to a lot of fairs. Illinois has a bunch of ‘em, you know. More corn festivals than you can shake a stick at.”
“Only with your friends?” Steve asked, noticing both the distinct lack of mention of the Travis family and the wistful tone that had crept into his lover’s voice.
Jesse shrugged. “Mom was always busy, first with med school and then with her job. And Dad was always traveling.” He sighed. “I always thought it would be the greatest thing to go to the fair with my family, instead of being a tag-along with someone else’s family - and I was right.” He kissed Steve’s arm absently. “Coming to the fair with you has exceeded my wildest expectations.”
“Even though we broke the Ferris Wheel?” Steve asked, finding it hard to talk around the sudden lump in his throat.”
“Especially because we broke the Ferris Wheel,” Jesse responded.
The two men fell silent, enjoying the view and the feeling of being alone at the top of the world.
“Look at those stars,” Jesse said, a note of awe in his voice as he lifted his gaze from the lights of the fair to the sky above. “It’s almost like we’re in heaven.”
“We are, babe,” Steve said, as he looked at his lover’s shining face. “We most definitely are.”
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