The next few seconds were crucial. I had to lock on Victor's wrists at exactly the right instant as he came out of his backward flip off the bar. If I missed, he would hit the hard wooden stage below us. We never used a net; men like us went through life without a safety net - only the strength and reliability of each other. And right at this instant, trembling as I never had before, I couldn't promise Victor strength, and I no longer believed in his reliability. In this business of split-second timing and regimentation, reliability was premier.

Victor had taken me in as a teenager when I had run away from home in Berlin when circuses were all the rage of Europe. He had trained me and nurtured me and protected me in the dangerous undercurrents that were circus life. And then when I had come of age, he had seduced me and shown me the ways of man loving man. He had glided the long, elegant fingers of his strong hands down my belly and beneath my balls and had entreated me in a low, hoarse voice to give him entrance, permission to both take and give pleasure. And trusting and loving him deeply, I had spread my legs for him, endured the initial pain and uncertainty, and then begged him not to stop as those fingers found and parted my virginal bud and stretched and moistened me for the full, sobbing possession of his commanding manhood.

Circuses went out of style in Europe about the same time the Soviet empire was shattering and the European Union was, at last, taking meaningful shape. The thrill of uncertainly in Europe was dissipating. People wanted more subtle and sophisticated thrills in their lives, it seemed. Victor had to start reducing the number of trapeze artists in his troupe. The women went first, and then Serge and Fritz. Nothing told me that Victor loved me more than that he had let them go and not me. They were fully professional. My talents were more pronounced in his bed.

Just when I thought he would have to fold the act altogether, he discovered that the tastes in death-defying high trapeze acts were not dead in Europe; they had only become specialized, more sophisticated, more erotic. And there were opportunities that suited Victor and me exactly. There were private venues - special couples and men's clubs and gyms - in the underbelly of Europe - all over Europe - that welcomed specialized circus acts and were willing to pay well for them.

Thus was born the Circus Maximus, a very private circus act for very special venues.

There were always four of us in the act. But at first Victor tried an act with him and me performing on the high trapezes above two young Indonesian girls, who became better acquainted with each other on the stage below as Victor and I performed ever-more daring and dangerous flips and catches on the trapezes overhead. When we were done on the trapezes, we slid down on silken ropes and, as our finale, each fully stripped and fucked one of the Indonesian girls to the delight of the audiences.

Victor was to find that the all-male venues far surpassed those of the more conventional hedonists in profit and availability, though, and he settled on an act using two men from China instead of the Indonesian girls. And Victor found this more to his liking too. Teng was a monster of a muscle man and Ming was diminutive in comparison - still handsome and well formed, but not more than half the size of his counterpart.

Now while the scantily clad Victor and I flew overhead, Teng harried Ming below us, almost, but not quite to the point of penetration. When Victor and I descended on the silken cords in the new form of the act, Victor hung the diminutive Ming up on one of the trapeze poles by silken bonds on his wrists and Teng did the same with me on another pole, and Victor fucked Ming from the rear and Teng took me in mirrored form to the audience's moaning satisfaction.

The current act then ended with Victor and me climbing the silken cords again, doing one more death-defying pass on the trapeze, and winding up on one of the trapeze platforms with me doing a handstand, my body draped up Victor's, and Victor fucking down into me to a final burst of lights at the point of an ejaculation that wasn't always feigned.

Thus far the small, picky, well-heeled audiences had loved the act. And whereas Teng was as cruel with me each time as he was with Ming, Victor had claimed that Ming didn't interest him and that his sex with the small Chinese performer was feigned, only for show. And I had believed him - and trusted him - and had been rock solid in my catches of him high over the stage even though he was the heavier of we two by far and even when sometimes I felt he would pull my arms out of their sockets when hand didn't meet forearm precisely. But there had been no question I would be there for him, my protector and lover. No question. Until now.

The next to most difficult pass was this forward flip. It was happening now. I must not think about what I saw. I must make this catch.

Victor had said his fucking of Ming was only an act, that it meant nothing to him, and that, in contrast to what Teng did to me in each performance, Victor wasn't really even penetrating Ming in the act. Just faking it to a removed audience whose eyes were blinded by the stage lights and saw what they wanted to see. But he certainly was penetrating Ming when I saw them in Victor's dressing room the previous evening.

There had been a daybed in the dressing room, and I had arrived at the theater hours before Victor had expected me. I had said I needed a new pair of the ballet slippers we used in our high flying act and would have to go across Zurich - we were performing in Zurich's Aaah-Club in the Marktgasse - that afternoon to pick them up. But then I had found I already had another new pair and called and asked the shop to send the pair they had on to our next venue, at the Bolaro on the Wollestraat in Bruges' Garenmarkt district, and I thus appeared at the theater much before Victor expected me.

I don't know if Victor would have been able to change appearances if I had knocked on the dressing room door - his cock was fully encased in the ass of the naked Ming, and they were both breathing heavily with heaving chests at the exertion of the fuck - but it had been years since I had knocked on Victor's door. There were no secrets between us. Or at least I had thought there were none. Before last night.

Neither of them had noticed me at first. Victor, fully naked, was kneeling on the daybed, his ass cheeks bouncing up and down on the heels of his feet. The small Chinese youth was on his back facing Victor, his thighs pulled up over Victor's hips and his butt mounds sliding along Victor's thighs, as Victor, with strong hands holding the small man's waist, pulled Ming back and forth on his prodigious, hard, skewering dick.

Not long after I found them, and while I was still too much in shock to say or do anything, Ming cried out in passion and spouted his cream up Victor's belly - and Victor, in turn, groaned and jerked, and spent himself inside the Chinese youth's channel. There was nothing the least bit feigned about this sex act.

Victor was turned away from me, but Ming saw me when freed of the throes of passion, and the satisfied, sly look he gave me spoke volumes.

I turned and fled the room, not knowing if Ming told Victor what I'd seen.

That night was just a 'spot' run through of the act on the Aaah-Club stage, making sure the equipment was set up correctly and the distances were proper - nothing is more important in the high trapeze world than that the distances between everything are properly measured. Victor didn't seem to notice that I was particularly quiet and pale or that Ming went out of his way to stand in my spotlights and to be bitchy - until Teng dragged him off into the wings and fucked him silly on a stack of backdrop curtains to the cries of pain and indignation from the possibly newly empowered Ming.

Tonight was the first real performance in Zurich since I saw Victor fucking Ming. Tonight we would know how hard reliability could be tested. I knew I didn't want Victor to fall. But I couldn't be sure that what I told myself I 'knew' was what I really 'knew.' And I felt sick to my stomach, and all atremble, and weak in my muscles as we set up and tested the bars for our swing out and fastened our eyes on each other's to gauge the exact moment of our takeoff, off over the bare, wooden stage.

At the last split second, Victor's eyes showed astonishment and fear and a deep questioning - caused I'm sure by whatever he saw in my eyes in that instant. But it was too late to check; we both had already leaned out over the platforms into our bars far too much not to swing out. As I swung out, I experienced contrasting, warring feelings that I never had felt before.

* * * *

At the last split second, I knew. I knew that Klaus was different tonight. The way he looked at me. What was wrong? I had no idea. And I was afraid, as I had never been before with him.

Fear is the most dangerous thing in an act like ours. The fear of not being caught by your partner, of falling. It's that which makes you fall. That I also knew, and I tried to crush it, to let go of everything but my faith in Klaus, in his professionalism, if nothing else.

'No. No. Think of nothing except what I must do and do it right. Klaus will be there. Klaus will be there. Klaus will be there to catch me,' I repeated to myself as I swung out.

I executed my backward flip perfectly and Klaus caught me. A good firm catch. As he should, as he should. All is well in that way at least. Now turn, and run my feet and legs up between his arms and slide down. Now, there, yes, his arms wrapped firmly about my legs as I hang upside down and reach up, stroke my cock through the padded fabric of my tiny costume, the padding making my package look massive and my cock hard. Yes, the audience loves that. He has me firmly.

But why? Why the look? Oh . . . no don't think of that, just stroke and smile and get ready - count, count, to swing off and catch my own bar again. We have done this so many times, so many times.

3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .

I remember when I first saw Klaus hanging around the tent of the circus my act was performing with at the time, and looking lost and brash all at once. Too young to be living on the streets, I had thought, and I had wanted to save him from that. And I took him in - he said he wanted to be in the circus, and he was lithe and light, easy to use in the act.

He had no great talent but tried hard and learned well enough. In the beginning he was so lean and light we tossed him back and forth between us, Serge, Fritz, and me, even the girl, Ludmilla, had caught him and thrown him back to me when he first joined us.

Then he had grown up and grown to be a wild, lean young man of great beauty. I was suddenly in love with him, for his youth and beauty. And when he was grown he had responded to me as no man ever had since Franz. Franz who had gone to America to train and teach gymnastics while I had accepted I would never be internationally competitive and remained in Germany and moved on to the trapeze and circus life.

But now Klaus has grown into a well-filled man, not tall and broad of muscle like me, but also not longer small and lithe. And sometimes I have a passionate lusting for lithe, small bodies. To fuck men who seem delicate and fragile as they moan and twist beneath me. That is my secret fetish. Klaus is still shorter than me and leaner, but not as he once was; he is the man I want in my life. But sex and heat, ahhh, sometimes what I feel in my cock and balls when some lithe and slender young man is available. Ahhh.

Ming. Now Ming is all that one could want in litheness and small size. Yes, at first I had not fucked him properly upon the stage, but feeling his small, seemingly defenseless body under me night after night, I had finally been desperate to have him. But I controlled myself, for I knew Klaus had never been with another man except for when our act required it. But Ming was so desirable. So desirable . . .

Ming. Ming. I do not really like to hear the way Teng takes Klaus, but it is a good act and Klaus does not complain.

In fact, Ming says that Klaus likes what Teng does - that he sometimes likes it rough and hard. I am not sure if what he ways is true. I don't think so. I think Ming makes it up.

One day when Klaus was out, Ming came to me in my dressing room to ask why I didn't fuck him properly on stage, and he cried and said, 'If you do not find me attractive enough, Victor, then there was no place for me in your show.'

He was wearing only a pair of tight stretch shorts, and I could see his cock lying under the fabric and growing as he talked to me, and I could plainly see the longing way he looked at me.

He has a fine almost androgynous body. And he looked at me with big, wide tear-filled eyes and said, 'I look at you and you are so handsome and strong, I long for you to fuck me, to feel your big cock in my ass. But . . . but you cannot even do it as part of your act.'

He was most upset, but at the same time aroused, and seeing his erection growing in his tight shorts, I was getting hard myself, for he is very desirable.

'Perhaps if we practice here in private you can find a way to fuck me properly in spite of your dislike; then I will not feel humiliated in front of the audience,' he said to me with his lips trembling, and he fell to his knees and began to suck on my pole through the light fabric of my shorts for all I was wearing was boxers as I was relaxing.

'Of course I would like to fuck you properly,' I said honestly, the feel of his mouth on me so good, but I tried to push him away.

'But - ' I did not know how to say it, and his mouth, ahhhh, ' . . . but Klaus is my partner; we are like man and wife, and he may not like it that I am enjoying fucking another man every day.'

Ming looked up at me, his hand rubbing my engorged rod, 'Ahh, but your Klaus, he is writhing under Teng each day. He moans for Teng to plow him roughly. I have heard him, Victor,' Ming told me, his bottom lip trembling again. 'But you cannot even fuck me properly in the show; the audience knows, and they will wonder why you find me so ugly. Or they will wonder if I am sick, if I have some disease, which you know is not true.'

He was crying now even as he pulled my cock free of my shorts and swallowed the head of it. I pulled him up then. I was aroused by him and ready to fuck, but I tried to reassure and comfort him.

I hugged him, and he pressed his hard rod to my thigh, and his hand found its way to my hard cock and, well, and in a short time, my rod was standing out and he had his shorts down around his ankles and was bending over the daybed in the dressing room and spreading his checks for me and begging me, 'Victor, please, I want to feel you inside me. Show me that you do not find me ugly and can really fuck me. Please Victor.'

And as I really did want Ming, my cock quickly found its way to his hole, and I worked it in, eagerly. Here was the perfect answer to my fetish. A fetish for small and slender young men just like Ming, which I have always occasionally had to satisfy.

Ahh, and once I had fucked his tight but experienced channel once, it was too tempting when I was able to do it again. And I began to fuck him properly in the act. Then yesterday he came to the dressing room while Klaus was away shopping and I wasn't able to stop myself from plowing him energetically again. Him lying back on the daybed with his legs about my hips, me fucking into him long and hard. His small smooth body under me moaning, writhing. Ahhhh.

Now I turn over and Klaus grips my wrists and I swing up and he lets go.

Catch. Yes, I have my bar now, ready to swing up to the plate again and stop while Klaus swings up and joins me.

'What is wrong?' I hiss at him as he lands beside me.

'Ming,' Klaus replies.

'Ming? Ming has nothing to do with us.'

'You are fucking Ming and you say he has nothing to do with us?'

I have no idea how Klaus has discovered that I have fucked Ming. And I am horrified that he knows. There have been others, not many, but yes, others. My fetish overwhelms me at times and must be satisfied. But I had thought he did not even suspect them, they have nothing to do with how I feel about him and us. How did he discover?

'You are the one I live with as if we were married Klaus.'

'For how much longer. How long will it take Ming to take my place?'

'He can never take your place,' I said adamantly. 'You are worrying about nothing. Nothing important has happened. I fuck him for the show, the audience could tell I was not doing it properly,' I said, 'He - '

But Klaus swung off angrily before I could say more, and what more could I say. I love him and he must know that, but now I have no idea if I can trust him to catch me.

Ming. I would not want him up here where I have to rely on him. No, I may have fucked him but I do not trust him. And I do not believe what he says about Teng and Klaus.

Klaus, Klaus. I cannot manage without him. And the act, the act needs two men who can connect properly as we do. This is a good act. And I love him. I cannot lose him.

There Ming is, down there with that Teng. I do not like Teng, and he mistreats Ming. But why then, why does Ming not leave him?

* * * *

Teng was harassing me more than usual, and I was more than fed up with it. If he did not know my secret, I would have gone off months before. But he knew and he was nasty and violent and twice my size. But Victor will soon want me more than Klaus, and Victor is German, he can stand up to Teng and send him away.

Yes, Victor would do that for me in a few days I knew. 'Hah,' I thought, as Teng grabbed me yet again and forced me to my knees before him. 'You will not be bothering me and using me like your private plaything for much longer, you pig.'

I bit down hard on his fat cock as he stuffed it into my mouth and he let out a cry of pain.

'I will tell. I well tell the police,' Teng is hissing at me in Cantonese as he lays me back and lifts my legs. He is supposed to pretend he wants to fuck me and I keep rolling away, but I am afraid as he has been drinking tonight. His fingers are digging in to me and my cries are not made up. He is really hurting me tonight.

'Pig,' I hiss at him, 'Pig.'

'Cheat, liar,' he hisses back. 'What if I tell your good friend Victor that you are an illegal immigrant and wanted by the police already? Hah. Will he put you up on the trapeze with him then?'

I lie there hating him, and he does what he is not supposed too; he smiles at me and laughs as he begins to push his fingers into me hard.

'I hate you,' I yelp and hiss at him.

I look up to the heights of the stage for relief. Victor will be coming down the silken rope at any moment; Teng is not supposed to fuck me in the act; Victor is. I'm not sure Teng will hold back tonight, though. I must hold him off, though. Let him unleash his lust on Klaus instead. Yes, and leave Victor to me.

* * * *

The pass high above the stage of Zurich's Aaah-Club had been executed perfectly, but both Victor and Klaus knew this wasn't just a typical act night. They both could feel the tension - and, worse, the indecision - in the other during the catch. But the catch had held, perfectly. They were swinging back to their own platforms and both pirouetted, almost in unison - only someone who had watched the act a million times would have known the maneuver wasn't perfect - and turned and stood on their respective platforms, their chalk-covered swing bars held in one hand and the other one lifted, acknowledging the clapping and raucous cheers from the drunken men in the audience below, most of whom were actually watching the performance rather than engaged in a performance of their own on their neighbor in the shadowed banquettes.

Victor looked into Klaus's eyes across the strobe-lit stage. Snapping into the routine of gaining eye contact, both started another numbered cadence, forming the numbers with their lips so they would be in synch and could time their next - and most difficult - swing out perfectly. Klaus was there, as always, ready, as always. But not as always, there were tears in his eyes.

Why, Victor thought. Why did these relationships with other men have to be so complicated? Why couldn't men just enjoy each other's bodies, fuck who and when they pleased and just enjoy each other's company? What was so important about constancy or commitment in the world of men fucking men?

Victor began the count: 7 . . . 6. His eyes glanced down at the performers below. Teng had Ming in a torso hold, with Ming facing the back of the stage. Teng was fucking Ming with the bulbous fingers of one hand, letting the audience see that the penetration was genuine. But Ming was looking up, straight up, at Klaus. And the hatred Victor saw in Ming's eyes, made Victor flinch.

4 . . .3 . . .

It was that flinch that did it. Victor swung out on 3, as by instinct. He was to swing on 3 so that when Klaus swung out on 1, Victor would have had time to leave his bar at the apex of its swing, do a back flip, and be around in position to meet Klaus.

But with the split second it took to register Ming's glare at Klaus, Victor's 3 was Klaus's 2.

It was a miracle that Klaus even caught both of Victor's hands in his, let alone managed a firmer, surer hold up farther on the forearms, allowing the hands of both a more steady grip. It could have been called merely a fingertip grip, putting all of the centrifugal weight of Victor on the fingers of the hands. Even the stronger Serge or Fritz would not have been able to hold this grip. With the smaller, weaker Klaus, the grip should have been impossible, and Victor should have crashed to the wooden stage below.

But Klaus did maintain his grip as they swung, first back toward Klaus's platform and then out again to where Victor's bar was swinging back to them.

It seemed like forever, as Victor's panic-filled eyes locked on Klaus's tear-filled eyes, backdropped by the gasps and clapping and cries of approval from the unknowing audience. Victor saw much more than tears, though - or even the strain of fighting the slippery grip of sweaty fingers or the horrific strain of Victor's weight on Klaus's shoulder sockets. He saw determination and constancy and commitment, and, above all love.

And then Victor had released and caught his bar and they were both on their own platforms. To the audience, this was nothing more than a well-performed, dangerous, very sexy circus act successfully delivered. To Victor, however, the whole world had changed. His whole perspective had changed.

This was where Klaus and Victor were supposed to slide down the silken ropes to the stage, simultaneously, to move on to the next phase of the act with Teng and Ming. But when Klaus looked over to Victor's platform to start the descent, he was surprised to see that Victor wasn't there. Victor already was gliding down the silken rope to the stage below.

Klaus was mortified. Victor didn't trust him anymore, Klaus reasoned. Although they had managed the last back-flip swing out, he hadn't caught Victor solidly. It was over. Victor would replace him now, wouldn't ever trust him on the trapezes again.

Dejected, Klaus reached for his own silken rope down to the stage and slowly descended, completely defeated. Well, not completely defeated, he briefly mused. He couldn't be replaced with Ming. At least there was that. Ming was far too small to swing in the heavens with Victor.

When Klaus reached the stage, it was deserted. The act had completely fallen apart. This was where Victor was supposed to bind Ming and suspend him by raised arms from hooks on his platform pole and simulate a fuck of him, while Teng was supposed to do the same with Klaus on Klaus's platform pole. But no one was there when Klaus reached the stage. That was only a momentary absence, though. Just as Klaus was wondering what he should do to cover up the disintegration of the act, Victor reappeared, pulling a small velvet-covered platform from the back stage center, a platform that was used in another of the club's sex acts.

When Victor had reached the stage himself, he had parted the surprised Teng and Ming and motioned them off stage, Teng to stage left and Ming to stage right. He would take care of both Teng and Ming, but that would have to be later. Teng was too brutal and Ming was a trouble-making minx. They would probably both have to go from the act, but for now he owed Ming at least the protection of sending them to different sides of the stage wings where Teng couldn't get to Ming - and Ming couldn't do any more damage in Victor's relationship with Klaus.

When Victor had returned and centered the small, velvet-covered platform, he moved over to a surprised Klaus and theatrically - because they were, after all, in the middle of a performance for an audience of raunchy men - stripped Klaus of his tight, silk pants and his jock, rendering him naked except for the sequined sweat bands on his wrists and the matching choker at his neck. Then Victor similarly stripped himself.

Victor gently lay Klaus on his back on the velvet platform, spread and lifted his legs, and made long, languid, deeply penetrating love to his young companion. Putting on one hell of a sex performance for the audience of the Aaah-Club, a convincing master fucking that was talked about in the club for weeks to come. But, much more important, showing Klaus how deeply and intensely Victor loved him and how much better he now understood the power and importance of constancy and commitment.



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