Author's Notes: This is a... ah... Sam fantasy... From a self-confessed Chris-Chick... Okay? Don't ask and don't read anything into it. I have not *turned*. I accept that I'm a tad two faced (and trust me, typing the vaguely sarcastic comments about Chris *hurt*... a lot...) but... Actually, on second thoughts, I don't think I can really say anything there that won't appear as though I'm asking for trouble... So, enjoy and please keep in mind that this is self-beta'd and subsequently most likely full of errors. Oh, and I haven't asked Chya to post this one because I was afraid of her reaction...
Blissful silence, oh how I embrace thee.
Pausing, I cock my head from side to side and, to my immense relief, ascertain that I *still* can't hear anything.
I allow my lips to curl into their first smile all week and, slowly, continue on my way. The art on the walls is of only minor interest to me. I came to the art gallery to seek refuge from the hectic farce that is Fashion Week, not so I can indulge any great art appreciation I may have.
Quite frankly, after what I've endured this week, my appreciation for most things is severely lacking. I currently dislike just about everything and am beginning to wonder how high my odds would be to become the first fashion editor to cross the South Pole, on foot, just so she could get away from it all.
In no particular order, I am currently not fond of:
Models. Every single, anorexic one of them. By no stretch of the imagination am I fat. In fact, my personal trainer would like me to appear on his info-mercial with him as the perfect example of his skill. This, however, right now, is of extremely cold comfort. Next to the stick insects I feel like I'm pregnant. With quintuplets. Not only that, but honestly, would it *hurt* them to smile occasionally?
Music. Whoever decided that getting The Prodigy to perform live at Gaultier's show was a *good* idea, should, in my opinion, be drawn and quartered. I don't know what startled me more. The sight of them or the God awful racket they were attempting to pass off as alleged music. Either way, I clutched the arm of my chair so tightly that I snapped off a fingernail.
Designers. The so-called fashion this season is so atrociously bad that I think the time has come for them to experiment with a new inspirational drug of choice. And I'm not just saying that because I personally hate pink.
Caterers. I couldn't even get drunk in style because the vintage of champagne, at each and every show, was deplorable. I do not even wish to comment on the food as, quite frankly, it was so bland that they might as well have got McDonald's to provide it for them.
Public Relations. The bribes -- oh! ooops! *souvenirs* -- this season are positively revolting. The Chanel earrings as beyond description. I wouldn't even give them to my maid.
Every other fashion editor in the world. Especially the American ones. They all carried on as though they'd seen 'Absolutely Fabulous' for the first time and simply *had* to behave like Edwina and Patsy. This may not have been so bad if not for the fact that at every show I had a row of them sitting behind me. They sounded like a pack of braying donkeys. Drunk, deranged donkeys at that.
Hmm... I think that's the main things that are displeasing me at the moment.
No. Silly me. It almost slipped my mind that I don't like students either.
When I arrived at the gallery, the first thing I saw was a group of primary school students. At first I thought they looked kind of sweet in their little uniforms. Then one of them, for God alone knows what reason, started to scream. This immediately caused me to have an instant flashback to the braying Americans and I very nearly fled.
Gritting my teeth, I held my ground and made my way tentatively into the exhibition of nudes... There I stumbled into a bunch of English high school students. How did I know they were English? One feral little creep (he looked as though he'd fallen off the Oasis tour bus -- for, why have two eyebrows when one will so easily suffice?) leered at me and in very careful in other words, shockingly bad -- French, requested that I show him my 'tits'. I, in turn, replied, in my native French that I hoped he made the most of his experience with the paintings of the nudes because he's never get to see a real female naked.
Thankfully -- and how -- since I stalked out of the nudes, I haven't managed to stumble into anything else that could annoy me. I'm slowly beginning to calm down when I sense that I am no longer alone in the room. Taking a deep breath, I tell myself to simply ignore the intruders.
"I'm bored. Come on, Sam. Can't we go now?"
The sound of yet another whingeing American very nearly makes me snap another fingernail off.
"Give it a rest, Chris. We did what you wanted to do yesterday," replies a man with a softly cultured English accent. "Incidentally, I don't think I will ever truly be able to forgive you for inflicting Euro-Disney on me. Never before in my life have I been so horrified."
I think I like the Brit already. He has obvious taste.
"But... But that at least was entertaining! This sucks," the American whines with an almost amusing degree of desperation in his voice. "I mean, look at this. How on earth can you call it art? It looks like it was painted by a monkey with it's arm in a sling."
"In that case, I look forward to the day when you can replicate it," the Brit replies smoothly.
I sense the interlopers nearing me and casually rake my eyes over them. I'm confident I know who is who without even having to witness them speaking. The American is the attractive, if you happen to like clean-cut *boys*, one with the brilliant blue eyes and the unimaginative uniform of black jeans and a black sweater. I can't deny that his clothes cover an obviously attractive form, but nonetheless am not overly interested.
The Brit however...
Not only does he have taste and a gorgeous accent but he's also undeniable handsome. Rich, glossy brown hair and the most exquisite silver-green eyes. I don't think I'd be going too over the top to say that I'd kill to have his eyelashes. Like the American, his clothes appear to hide a firm, slim body. Unlike the American though, he's wearing a tasteful charcoal suit with a brilliant purple shirt. If his clothing wasn't enough to prove his obvious taste, he's also carrying a Gucci shopping bag.
I smile at them beatifically and return my attention to the painting in front of me. It's such a shame that they are most likely lovers.
The American bounds, I virtually sense the air particles shift around him, up next to me and peers at the painting. "I don't get it," he mutters under his breath before turning to me and beaming broadly. I look at him and decide that the lights are on -- but only thanks to the invention of timers -- but no-one's home.
"Perhaps, being American, Pop Art is more to your liking," I murmur softly, "In that case, there is a Coke machine in the lobby that you'd most likely appreciate."
The lights momentarily dim in his eyes before, obviously confused, he blinks and continues to smile at me. The Brit, however, starts to snicker and I'm vaguely mortified to realise that he must be able to speak French. Abashed, I look up and catch his gaze. He grins at me and replies conspiratorially, "Sadly, I do believe that you are right."
I laugh softly and smile at him.
The American begins to visibly twitch next to me. "Sam," he whispers urgently, "What did she say?"
"She said that you looked a little hot and suggested you'd be better off getting a cool drink at a café than wandering around in here," the Brit -- Sam -- responds easily, his eyes twinkling.
"Oh." The American seems to mull this over for a few seconds before he nods and starts to move towards the exit. "I think she's right. Even being ignored by a stuck up waiter would have to be preferable to suffering this rubbish," he mutters. "See you outside, yeah?"
"When I'm ready."
I note that Sam doesn't commit to meeting him. Interesting. I decide to test the waters and, after the American has skulked out of the room, turn to Sam and comment lightly, "Your boyfriend does not appreciate the finer points of art."
"Boyfriend!" Sam splutters in English before reverting to French, "Chris isn't my boyfriend. Oh God, what an atrocious thought! He's my partner."
I shrug. For a moment it had sounded okay too. Shame. "Boyfriend, partner, what is the difference? You are either lovers or you are not. I do not understand the difference in terminology," I reply indifferently.
"We are not lovers! Trust me on this. We both lack the pre-requisite chromosome to make us attractive to each other. He is my friend and work partner. If I woke up and found him in my bed I would most likely be scarred for life." Sam shakes his head slowly and adds, "What a thought..."
"I am sorry for implying such a thing," I state gently, mentally jumping with joy. "Forgive me?"
Sam's saved from having to answer by his mobile suddenly ringing. Apologising to me for the interruption, he retrieves it from his pocket, backs away and answers it.
Wanting to respect his privacy, I move away from him and head slowly in the direction of the exhibition hall that leads off the room we're in. Nearing the entrance, I'm confronted by a hideously bright poster proclaiming that I am about to witness the birth of Millennium Art. For some reason, this silly title rings a vague bell in my head -- have I seen it in the paper, or on the news? -- but I don't dwell on it. Not being in the mood to multi-task, I prefer to think only about whether I want to make a play for Sam or not.
I'm interested. Hell, I'm *definitely* interested, but I'm not entirely convinced, in my current frame of mind, whether I'd make for scintillating company. Of course... If we didn't actually have to *talk* then I'm confident I'd be more than an *interesting* companion for him.
Hmm... Decisions, decisions.
Hesitating, before I inflict the undoubted thrill of 'Millennium Art' on myself, I glance over my shoulder and find Sam staring at me. He's still on the phone, but it appears to me that his entire attention is focussed on me. His silver-green gaze so intense that I imagine I can feel myself tingling as a result of coming under it.
Quickly deciding that -- in one way, shape, or form -- I'll play, I smile lightly at Sam before slowly looking back towards the gallery. To my distinct horror, I come face to face with an incredibly dishevelled looking young man. Inhaling deeply in an attempt to calm my startled nerves, I wonder dully why I hadn't *smelt* him before I saw him. He, or his clothes (most likely a combination of both) smell like a sewer. His brown eyes glitter with ill disguised madness. He appears to be twitching; as though he doesn't have control of his body.
I back away, in self preservation, but it's too late. Screaming some nonsense that Satan owns my soul and that the Lord will never forgive me, he throws the contents of a small bucket, that I hadn't even seen in hands, all over me. I'm paralysed. I can't move as I stare, mortified, at the vivid red liquid that now saturates my white Versace shirt.
There we go. That'll teach me for thinking that my day was finally improving.
The man smiles at me, displaying a mouth entirely without teeth, and continues to rant about my evil soul.
I simply stand and stare, mortified, at him.
He's still ranting when, simultaneously, I sense Sam arrive behind me and two security guards appear, out of nowhere, and restrain the man. One carts him off, kicking and screaming, while the other one makes noises that are meant to placate me.
I don't hear him. I'm too busy failing in my attempt to convince myself that I'm not covered in blood.
Paint... It has to be paint... It's not blood... I am not recreating Carrie... Paint... That's all it is...
I don't exactly believe this until Sam whispers gently in my ear, "It's only paint. Blood doesn't smell like that," before moving past me and speaking to the guard. Staring at my shirt, I run my finger through the liquid, sniff it, and realise that -- thank God -- he's right. If it had been blood I suspect my hysteria would have been so great that I would have had to have been sedated.
Whatever Sam says to the guard gets rid of him as, muttering his apologies to me, he beats a hasty retreat.
I continue to stand, rooted to the spot and no doubt gaping like a goldfish. A dim voice in my head tells me that I really should move, or at the very least do *something*, but comprehending this voice is currently out of my reach. It takes all my willpower to concentrate on what Sam is saying to me as he takes me by the arm and gently shepherds me away from the ever growing crowd of gawking spectators.
"It appears that your friend, the lunatic, takes exception to a particular piece of art in the Millennium collection," he explains as I force myself to slowly meander along next to him. "Something about Christ in pink lipstick and hotpants just really pushes his buttons and, not being one to keep his opinions to himself, he feels compelled to share them."
Somehow, I not only manage to nod but I also remember why the 'Millennium Art' title rang a bell with me. A *number* of the pieces are controversial and the moral majority have been staging a range of protests against it. The artist who created the 'Christ at Mardi Gras' work is currently unable to leave his home as a number of the righteous have taken up residence on his front lawn I only wish I'd remembered this *before* I made the mistake of pausing in the entrance to the gallery.
"He is lucky I was too shocked to share my opinions with him," I mutter, finding my voice and blinking back angry tears. "For I do not know how he would have reacted to the amount of blasphemy I would have blasted him with."
We come to a stop outside the door to the female toilets, and Sam extends his Gucci bag towards me. "Here. Why don't you go in there, clean up, and put one of my shirts on. You'll feel better," he says calmly. Even in my misery and embarrassment I'm impressed with his perfect French.
Not really being in the position to come across as coy, I thank him, take the bag from his hand and retreat into the bathroom. Avoiding my reflection in the mirror for the time being, I tear at my shirt and watch dispassionately as buttons fly across the tiled floor. Once I have it off, I stuff it in a nearby bin and proceed to throw water all over my torso until all traces off the paint are gone. Letting the air dry me, I peer into the Gucci bag, peel back the layers of tissue covering the shirts and am immediately faced with the dilemma of which one to put on -- the blue one or the vaguely shimmery silver one. I tell myself that I choose the silver one because it goes better with my black Gaultier stretch pants, not because it reminds me of Sam's eyes.
I luxuriate in the softness of the shirt as I pull it on and slowly do up the buttons. Obviously it's too big for me, but after rolling the sleeves up and leaving the top buttons undone, I decide that I look more than acceptable. Dressed -- and my equilibrium restored... Hell... After the week I've had, now that I've had time to think about it, it would take more than a paint wielding nutcase to really upset me -- I check out my reflection, quickly touch up my make-up and glide out of the bathroom.
Sam's waiting for me and his eyes positively light up as he watches me walk up to him. "And to think I was deluded enough to think that I looked good in that shirt," he offers lightly as I hand him back his bag.
I smile as I realise what it is that I *obviously* have to do. "Come with me," I declare adamantly, taking his hand in mine and starting to walk towards the exit. "To thank you for your kindness you must let me take you back to Gucci and buy you another shirt."
He follows me readily, but protests at the same time. "Nonsense. You don't have to do that. I'm just pleased to be able to assist you."
"I won't take no for an answer," I state, not letting go off his soft hand and adding factitiously, "Unless of course you would rather locate your partner and reassure yourself that he hasn't passed out somewhere from an enforced overdose of culture."
Sam laughs and catches up to me. "When you put it that way," he smiles, "I would be delighted to go shopping with you." He doesn't make to pull away from my hand and I have no intention of letting it go.
"He will survive without you?" I smile back, feeling oddly happy.
"I have faith in Chris' ability. Even though he is in Paris, he will have located the nearest McDonald's and is no doubt polluting his body with a Big-Mac as we speak. He will then skulk back to his motel room and spend the evening channel surfing," Sam replies with evident fondness for his cultureless partner.
"Sounds delightful," I mutter lightly before changing the topic and sharing with Sam the assorted horrors I had to face at Fashion Week.
We're still talking, with comfortable ease, as we reach the Gucci store. Sam once again protests that I don't have to buy him a shirt, but I brush him off. He doesn't need to know that I'm friend's with most of the store's staff and that, with my job, they'll tie themselves into knots trying to stay on my good side.
I don't let go off his hand until we walk through the door and Louis, *resplendent* in an orange silk shirt covered in lime green flowers, dives on us.
"Madeleine," he beams, doing the exceptionally fake 'kissy-kissy' action around my cheeks. "For too long you have not graced us with your presence," he sucks up to me before spinning around and lovingly caressing his hideous shirt. "You like?"
"Hmm..." I mumble dismissively before smirking at Sam and stating in English, "I think we've found you the perfect shirt."
An exceptionally gorgeous, *mortified* expression washes over Sam's face before he realises that I'm joking and responds mock haughtily, "I would rather wear an Adidas t-shirt."
Biting back a laugh, I turn on Louis -- who is beginning to eye Sam up -- and, in perfect 'I'm a fashion editor and can, if the mood takes me, squash you and your employer like a bug, so therefore you'd better pander to my every whim' mode, command that he show Sam to the back change room while I pick out some shirts for him to try on.
Louis, who is failed actor, physically cowers before me and indicates that Sam should follow him.
Once alone, I ignore the numerous sets of eyes that belong to the other staff members as they remain a respectful distance behind me and carefully screen the shirts around me. It doesn't take me long to pick out three -- an emerald green one, a deep burgundy one and one classic one of black silk -- and, for the sheer hell of it, a pair of rather tight looking black trousers. Clothing obtained, I stride towards the back, chosen for it's lack of security cameras and full size door, change room.
Sam's leaning on the doorframe and is failing in his attempt to appear interested in whatever great tale of woe Louis -- with great arm gesticulations and interesting facial expressions -- is sharing with him. Thankfully, my arrival results in the scurried, after making sure that I knew my 'taste is as exquisite as it always is', departure of Louis.
I smile suggestively at Sam as I gesture him into the cubicle. He follows me and I lock the door behind us. Hanging the clothes up, I select the green shirt and present it to him with a flourish. Sam takes it from me and fingers the fabric gently. "You know," he comments, "I do believe that dear simple Louis is right and that you do have exquisite taste."
"I have exquisite taste in *all* things," I reply softly, boldly reaching for the buttons of Sam's shirt and beginning to undo them. As I expose more and more of his toned, smooth torso, I can't help but believe my own publicity.
"Exquisite," I murmur, undoing the last button and pulling the shirt open. My hands, as though they have a life of their own, glide slowly up Sam's chest and, reaching his broad shoulders, push both his shirt and jacket off. They land, along with the green shirt in his hand, in a crumpled heap on the floor.
I know this because I *hear* them land. I don't *see* them, however, as I'm too hypnotised by the flame of desire dancing in Sam's eyes to look away from him.
My lips, like my hands, decide that they can't wait a moment longer and make a bee-line for his. They're met half way and, in the first second of his moist lips settling on mine, my week disintegrates. Suddenly, I can only think in superlatives.
We don't break the softly passionate kiss as his hands slide under my shirt and caress my sides. Mine roam over his warm, naked torso as I set about familiarising myself with the touch of his delightfully smooth skin.
Needless to say, I have now found an example of art that I can truly appreciate...