I have always managed to keep my bi world in check and separate from my public straight world by always putting my wife and children first and by committing only to them that is, possibly, with one notable exception. I had an atypical long-term relationship with an Australian colleague that seemed innocuous at least at the beginning but that has grown stronger over the years possibly beyond the grave.

I briefly knew Ben during a temporary assignment in Okinawa, Japan, where we were coworkers. He was one of those very intelligent, happy-go-lucky Aussies of ruddy complexion, a slightly stocky build, and a kind and friendly word for everyone. He seemed a surface kind of guy who did his work with competence, didn't muck around in office politics, and headed straight for the sports bar and an evening of beer and witty banter at the end of his shift. I was new to the office, and he had quickly become an old hand at all of the procedures. I gravitated toward him immediately as the most knowledgeable and 'head straight from here to there' worker on board.

I probably wouldn't have gotten to know Ben beyond superficial office interaction during this time, however, if I wasn't starved for practice tennis partners to keep my skills from atrophying. He didn't look the part of a competitive sportsman and he was quite clear that he didn't really play much tennis, rather that he played handball and squash. But when we got on the tennis court, I quickly learned that squash players had some wicked moves that served them in good stead in tennis. He would run me ragged on the court and by the time I left my temporary duty, he was regularly beating me and I was quite a competent player.

Ben was as humble in his quick mastery of this sport that was new to him as he was in everything else he did. He never was arrogant about his abilities and always was in the background at work, helping all and letting them take full credit, even though he probably was the smartest and most competent person in the room. I considered him a comfortable, nonthreatening casual buddy. We showered together at the club after vigorous tennis sessions. And it was after these sessions that we started to become close. We'd sit out on the deck at the club bar and enjoy a couple of beers together and we chatted and our chats led to ever-deeper conversations about world events that our job brought close to us and about our families and ourselves.

He was divorced from an early, and very short-lived marriage, and I was married, but in an open marriage in which my wife and I, working for the same government agency, often found ourselves apart and in different parts of the world for long periods of time.

I returned to the States in preparation for a job in Bangkok and he was reassigned to the same Bangkok office I would join. Once again, he already knew the ropes at work before I arrived and, once again, became both a mentor and a tennis practice partner for me, even though I far outranked him in the office. These were days when I was awakening to the bi lifestyle and becoming very active with men, and my relationship with Ben, although well separated from my bi world, developed to the point that I didn't keep that sexual awakening and blossoming of mine from him. My trust in his discretion was total.

And then one day Ben just resigned his position and walked away from his job. He moved to Hong Kong and became a correspondent for a major international news agency.

I visited with him once in Hong Kong when I was passing through there, but he seemed a little strained and distant. We corresponded sporadically for a year, but he suddenly stopped answering my letters.

I sometimes thought of him with a mild sense of regret that we had lost touch.

A couple of years after that I was sent to an international conference in Tokyo as part of the American delegation. To my surprise, I saw that Ben was there as well, covering the conference for his news agency. We could hardly avoid seeing each other, and after a somewhat awkward moment of mutual recognition and terse exchanges of essential 'since we last met' information, we arranged to go to lunch the following day.

Lunch at the coffee shop in the Okura Hotel, the venue of the conference, went well, and almost instantaneously we were back to our chatty selves of the Bangkok and Okinawa years. I didn't hold back on my bi activity in Bangkok, and Ben didn't make any disparaging comment on that. At the end of the lunch, he asked me if I would meet him after the conference session had ended that day and take a walk with him. I readily agreed, suddenly hungry for contact with the friend who had drifted away from me.

We took the subway to the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, the many-acre grounds of a former palace in the heart of the city. And we walked and we talked and we lost all track of time.

Ben asked me if I'd go to a bar in a nearby Shinjuku district with him for a drink, and, of course, I was pleased to do so, anxious to prolong the comfortable contact that I was beginning to realize I had long missed.

I was somewhat nonplussed, though, when he led me into the Shinjuku Ni-chome area, the main gay district of Tokyo. I wasn't at all sure that Ben realized where we were, but he headed straight for a particular club that he must have picked out beforehand. It was a performance nightclub, and the host led us to a banquette very near the stage. I sat there in awkward silence next to Ben, as a slight Japanese youth got fucked by a big-cocked northern European on stage, just a few steps from our table.

'Ben,' I said in a low voice. 'What is this? Are you trying to tell me something?'

'I can't hold this in any longer,' Ben replied. 'I think I must bring this out in the open at a place like this.'

'Ben,' I continued. 'Are you trying to tell me you are gay? If so, for how long have you kept this from me? And why did you break off contact because I've just realized that this is what you did. You broke off contact with me.'

'No, I'm not gay at least in the sense of having done it with a man,' Ben said, a very serious and intense look on his face. 'But when we were working together and getting to know each other, and you were so open with me on what you were doing with other men, I grew to want you myself. And you never looked my way. I could never tell you, and I couldn't even work out at the time what I wanted from you. But in the end I just snapped.'

'And that was why you quit in Bangkok and took this job?' I asked. 'Because of me?'

'Yes,' Ben answered. 'Because I couldn't stand being around you any longer without being part of your world. And yet I was scared to become part of your world. I didn't even know if I could be part of your world.'

'And that's why you stood off when I visited you in Hong Kong and why you stopped answering my letters?' I asked.

'Yes, yes, I guess so. It wasn't intentional really; I just couldn't bring myself to continue pursuing what seemed to be the impossible. I couldn't take the frustration. It was all just too painful.'

'And now?' I asked.

'Now that I've seen you again, I don't think I can go on without being part of your world. But you probably have no interest in someone like me. I just don't know how to move in any direction from here. I just know that bringing you here was the most direct statement I could make of what I wanted and what I was prepared to do to arrive at that place.'

We went silent then, and we both watched the small Japanese youth being stuffed vigorously by the huge European. The youth was cuffed at all four points on a x-shaped metal apparatus, the upper part shorter than the lower and crossing at the young man's sternum. His bondage spread his arms and legs in a standing position and gave the European open access to both his ass and cock and balls. The European was pounding the former with his own cock and worrying the latter with his gripping hands. It sounded like some of the young Japanese fellow's screams of ecstasy at least were genuine and that it wasn't all an act.

I watched Ben watching the performance. He didn't seem repelled by it, but he didn't seem overly aroused by it either. I thought long and hard about our situation, but what was coming to the surface were those feelings of loss that periodically had pierced me. It dawned on me that I valued my once-lost relationship with Ben very much. Perhaps much more than with almost anyone else; that I had been intimate with men I regarded and wanted to be with far less than I was finding I wanted to be with Ben.

I put my hand on top of Ben's. 'Whose hotel is closest, Ben?'

Ben gave me an intense look, and I could see that he was struggling for what to say. At length he just whispered in a husky voice, 'I'm all the way out near Narita airport. You?'

'I'm just over on Roppongi. At the New Japan. Just about a fifteen-minute walk.'

We stared at each other, no longer watching the performance, although a second man, togged out skimpily in leathers, had arrived to join in tormenting the Japanese captive for our viewing pleasure.

'Are you sure, Ben?' I asked, trying to give him every opportunity to back out. 'I can do this. I feel closer to you than to any other man I know. I realize that now. But are you sure this is for you?'

'With you, yes,' he simply stated. 'Having seen you again, I can no longer think of life without you.'

I took him back to my room at the New Japan, which was one of those then-new idea hotels where the rooms were very small and all of the furniture was one molded continuous unit of bed, dresser, night stand, and attached lounge chair. The decor was a flamboyant red, white, and gold, and the bed stood out so prominently that there was no question what the main focal point was.

'Can you undress for me?' Ben asked meekly after he had sat down in the only chair. 'I've only gotten furtive looks at you in the shower when we were playing tennis. But I want to see you.'

I complied, and when I had stripped I stood there for him.

'Wow,' was all he could say at first.

I said nothing. It was not the least immodest or unrealistic for me to know that we were worlds apart in surface sex appeal, and I didn't want him to have second thoughts and to flee the room.

But then, after a few moments, he continued on his own. 'Can I touch you? Can I see what it's like to take you in my mouth.'

I came over and stood in front of him as he sat in the chair unit, very close, and I held his head in my hands patiently, tenderly as he clumsily kissed and tongued and sucked my cock. It was the worst blow job I'd ever had. It was the best, most loving blow job I'd ever had. I barely could contain my tears at what Ben was giving me and what it was costing him to do so.

Before I could climax, I gently reached down and pulled him up and slowly took his clothes off. When he was naked, I turned and laid him down on the bed. He was extremely self-conscious and kept trying to cover his manhood with his hands and shrink his body into invisibility.

'I'm sorry,' he stammered. 'I know I'm not what you're used to . . .'

'Shush,' I whispered in a stroking voice. 'You are beautiful to me. And you are all mine. Don't cover yourself from me. Open to me. Spread your legs to me. Welcome me and let me possess you fully. Give yourself to me.'

Showing how much he wanted this and his trust in me, he moved his hands to above his head on the bed, stretching his slightly pouchy torso out, and spread his legs for me.

I lovingly prepared his virgin ass with my lips and tongue and with lubricant I pulled from the nightstand drawer. I ran one of his well-muscled legs up my torso and held the other one out from his body with a hand wrapped around his ankle. I was as gentle as I could be when I started working my cock into his ass. I could tell that he wanted to scream, however, but was determined not to. I turned and opened the nightstand drawer again and found, appropriately, a thick padded headband I used to keep the sweat out of my eyes when I played tennis. I told him to open his mouth, and I pushed this between his teeth to give him something to help him bite through the pain and not to scream. I knew that it was important to him that he not scream at his loss of innocence.

I pumped him very slowly as his ass became accustomed to the invading cock. It wasn't all that long before he quieted down and the pleasure was pushing out his pain. He began undulating under me, telling me what a strange and new and filling feeling this was and how close this made him feel to me and how wonderful I was and how sexy I made him feel. He was babbling now, learning what being intimate with me entailed, and discovering he could handle it that he loved it that he would feel us learning to move as one in a magnificent, close coupling.

Overwhelmed by this new activity, he shot his load up his belly a long time before I climaxed inside him. When I was done, I started to turn to go into the bathroom and clean myself off. But Ben pulled me down to him and our limbs became entwined as rolled around on the narrow bed, fighting to get closer to each other, to dissolve into one body. Exhausted finally, we lay there all akimbo and connected, the sheets twisted around and between us. We moved immediately then into our old bantering pillow talk of our lives and likes and of world affairs and our own involvement in that almost as if we had done the same thing the day before. But now we were on my hotel bed and in each other's arms, our hands exploring each other, making sure that the other was real, was still there.

When we momentarily ran out of talk, we began kissing and caressing each other's bodies again, and I fucked Ben a second time in a languid side split. We slept then nearly the whole night and I was awakened with Ben's whispered request that I possess him again. And I did, turning him on his belly and covering his body with mine and pushing my cock into his ass to the hilt and rotating my cock around inside him, searching for every nock and cranny. Leaving my mark everywhere inside him to stake my claim that he was mine fully, and no one else's.

Shortly after I returned to Bangkok from the conference, Ben managed to be rehired by my agency and, surprise, surprise, be assigned to the Bangkok office. My wife and family were in country now, and Ben met and married a fine, intelligent and gentle Southeast Asian woman who worked for us. But we still managed to meet frequently for tennis and discussion and a languid fuck in small Bangkok hour-rate hotels specializing in such assignations.

When my tour of duty in Bangkok was over, I returned to the States and received other foreign assignments. Ben left my agency's employ yet again and returned to his foreign correspondent job. Over the years and across the world, we managed to schedule long weekends together, where we would share sightseeing, good food, great wine, long talks, and gentle lovemaking.

Ben, who was a few years younger than I was, moved back to Australia with his wife and children and prepared for an early retirement. I now was permanently settled back in the United States. We were arranging a long weekend together in London when I received word he had died suddenly of a heart attack. That was two years ago, but I still think of him and have an empty spot in my heart with 'Ben' written indelibly across it. He has left his mark of full possession inside me as well. It matters not that he's no longer here in the flesh. It isn't always about flesh.



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