by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: Yes, I have been to a gay pride parade. Two at home and one in San Fran. No, I'm not gay. Yes, they are a lot of fun. Go if you have a chance. I'm not exaggerating anything in this story - everything Mac and Vic see, I saw. The reason that I don't mention any gay women is because there weren't that many at the parades I've been to. Some, but not many. -shrug- Go figure.

"Mac, why are we still here?" Vic asked, his tone a little exasperated. "We wrapped up the case yesterday." The Director had sent the men to San Francisco to deal with an assassin who had fled Toronto after killing a prominent political figure. Li Ann had stayed behind to wrap up loose ends at home. Vic had been expecting trouble with the local police department when they turned the assassin in, but The Director must have smoothed things over because he was arrested without questions.

"I couldn't miss this opportunity," Mac said, answering Vic's question. "Ah! Here's a good spot." He seated himself on the curb and motioned for Victor to sit next to him. "Come on. These things are a blast."

"How would you know?"

"I've been to a couple in Toronto," Mac said casually.

Vic raised an eyebrow. "I don't believe this. You regularly attend gay pride parades?"

"Sure," Mac said, grinning. "Best people watching around."

"Well," Vic said, settling himself. "What's so different about going to one in Toronto and going to one in San Francisco? Did you have to delay our return a whole day for this?"

"Vic," Mac said, regarding his partner incredulously, "San Francisco has the biggest gay population in North America. Of course there's going to be a difference. Hey, look! Here comes one of the first floats."

As the floats passed by, from simple banners to complex sets to rolling dance floors, Vic found himself regretting shoving himself so deeply into the closet. When Vic decided he wanted to go to the academy, he put adolescent realizations and tentative experiments far behind him. Instead, he immersed himself completely in the police culture and concentrated on his less intense but more acceptable attraction to the opposite sex. When Vic left the force he went straight to jail, and hiding his repressed but still real attraction to other men became more of a survival measure. From jail to the Agency, where he met Li Ann, it seemed like fate had conspired against Vic to deny him his more natural urges.

Mac roused Vic from his reverie with a gentle nudge, just in time for him to see two young men wearing halter-tops and miniskirts with what looked like cherries in their navels walk by on stilts. Vic couldn't help but share Mac's laugh and he felt himself relaxing for the first time in a long time. The ex-cop began unwinding in the lighthearted community atmosphere, and he was suddenly very glad that he was sharing it with Mac.

The other man had been stirring up buried feelings in Vic even before Li Ann called of the engagement. Instinct had taken over then, refusing to allow anything more than a friendship to grow between the two men. But now, in summer sun, on the streets of San Francisco, Vic felt free.

All the men in the parade were looking their best, their tanned skin shining with oil or sweat or both, their faces lit up by grins. As a float full of dancing men dressed in nothing but little, tight, silver shorts passed them, Vic felt interest stir. For the first time, he gave the feeling free rein and felt his skin flush with mild arousal.

He glanced over at Mac and suddenly there was nothing mild about his arousal. The other man had stripped off his T-shirt in the heat, and Vic found himself admiring his partner. Mac had a nice spread of chest hair, but not enough to obscure the definition of his pecs and abs. His skin hadn't really had the chance to tan, but his natural color more than made up for it.

Vic was suddenly struck with the urge to shed his own shirt, to show himself off a little. Flush with his sense of freedom, he reached down to his waistband and tugged the hem of his shirt free before pulling it over his head. He was confident that his smooth chest and definition could stand up to a comparison to the other men there. Vic glanced sideways to see Mac's reaction and caught his partner just turning from an appreciative regard.

"Come on," Mac said as the tail end of the parade passed. He stood and held out a hand to Vic, "let's follow the parade to the fair grounds."

"I'm with you," Vic replied, taking the hand and pulling himself to his feet. He smiled broadly at Mac as he rose and they joined the throng trailing after the series of floats. As they walked and talked, Vic became highly aware of every time their arms brushed against each other, or their hands or shoulders bumped. He realized that they were moving well within each other's personal space, but he felt comfortable with having Mac there.

"Hey," a girl walking next to them said.

"Hey," Mac answered, smiling.

"You two make a great couple," she said and then, blushing furiously, hurried away before they could correct her mistake. Vic glanced at Mac to see if he was upset, but instead he simply looked smug. Vic told him so.

"Why shouldn't I be?" Mac replied, eyes twinkling. "She assumed I had snagged the best looking man here!"

"My God, Mac, you actually paid me a compliment!" Vic exclaimed in mock astonishment, the curve of his mouth giving away his pleasure.

"I have to keep you off balance, you know," Mac grinned.

A thought occurred to Vic, and he grinned wickedly. He reached out and drew Mac in for a passionate kiss. Any doubts he might have had dissolved as he felt Mac responding enthusiastically. The kiss went on until they were forced to come up for air. He had been so focused that, when he came back to himself, Vic was surprised to find that he'd wrapped one arm around Mac's waist, and the other man was gripping his hips. The intensity of his reaction to the kiss startled Vic. It had been so good, so right, so much more than he'd hoped. Smiling happily at seeing the same discovery in Mac's eyes, Vic took his partner's hand and led him to the fairground that they'd just reached.

They stopped a moment to listen to the live band, but neither of them particularly liked the artist that was playing, so they moved on. A field was filled with booths of crafts, books, pamphlets and food spread out before. The two men drifted from booth to booth, still holding hands.

At one booth, a young man with a pierced eyebrow smiled at their giddiness. "How long have you been together?" he asked.

"We're not...yet," Mac said, glancing at Vic who nodded.

"Oh, I know the story," the man said. "You've been friends for awhile, but you just discovered the mutual interest, right?" He nodded encouragingly, "Those kind always last the longest."

They'd spent more than 4 hours at the parade before they found themselves tiring and agreed to return to their hotel. Vic sprawled on one of the two double beds in their room, lacing his fingers behind his head, tired but happy. Mac's statement startled him.

"I didn't know you were bi."

Vic glanced over at him in surprise and answered without thinking. "I'm not."

"Come on!" Mac scoffed seating himself of Vic's bed and looking down at his partner. "I saw the way you were looking at some of the guys there. I kissed you, and you kissed back."

That gave the ex-cop pause. He stopped and thought for a moment before answering slowly. "I'm not...because I wouldn't let myself be bi. Today was the first day I really relaxed. I guess...I could be."

"Could you be...with me?"

Vic smiled, remembering how good it felt to kiss Mac, how happy he'd been all day. He reached up and pulled his partner down for another kiss. "I want to be," he said, his voice low and rough.

Mac sighed a little and stretched out beside his partner, leaning for another kiss and running his hand down Vic's side. Mac seemed to realize that Vic needed him to go slowly, because his kisses were long and tender and his movements gentle. By the time he moved to strip Vic of his pants, the other man was totally relaxed, a warm curl of desire spreading through him. He lifted his hips to allow Mac to remove his jeans more easily, and then returned the favor.

They made love slowly and tenderly, and the restrained passion Vic could feel in Mac only made his own desire more intense. That the other man would slow his own pace to make Vic comfortable touched him to the core. When Vic came in his lover's arms, it was sweeter than anything he'd ever experienced before.

After Mac had cleaned them both up, Vic sat up on his bed, his back to the headboard. He motioned for Mac to come and sit between his legs, his back to Vic's chest. Mac complied, leaning back, and Vic wrapped his arms about him.

"I think I'm in love with you," he murmured in Mac's ear, before his courage deserted him.

"Good," Mac answered. "'Cause I think I love you, too."

Vic smiled and held Mac close.