Home > Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble

Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble
Author: Alexis Hall

 


WEEK ONE


Biscuits

 

 

Friday

 


PARIS DAILLENCOURT WAS removing his biscuits from the oven while a naked man he’d never seen before raided the fridge for beer.

“Those look nice,” said the stranger, who, as well as being entirely undressed, was distractingly built and had the telltale marks of Paris’s housemate’s teeth, fingernails, and riding crop over much of his back and arse.

“Thanks.” Paris got that warm, cosy feeling he always got when someone complimented his baking that was strangely distinct from the hot, uncomfortable feeling he got when they complimented anything else about him. “They’re biscuits roses de Reims.”

Cracking open his beer, the man retreated to the lounge area of the apartment’s open-plan living space. There he lowered himself into an armchair, swiftly learned the error of his ways, and stood up again with a strangled yelp. “What’s a biskwee?”

“Biscuits for pricks.” Morag— the housemate, riding crop artiste and self-styled fat Glaswegian sex goddess— emerged from her room. Unlike her guest, she was fully clothed, with only her tangled hair betraying the fact that she’d been fucking extensively and loudly approximately eight minutes earlier.

“They’re not for pricks,” Paris protested. “It’s French.”

Morag adjusted the neckline of her strawberry-print sundress in order to better frame her magnificent bosom. “So pricks then?”

“You can’t call the whole nation of France pricks.”

“I fucking can. In fact, we’re both fucking culturally required to. The only people who are bigger pricks than the French are the English.”

If Paris didn’t carve his biscuits into even rectangles soon, they’d harden and therefore be difficult to carve into even rectangles. So he grabbed a knife and began rectangling evenly. “I’m English. And I grew up in France.”

“Sometimes, Paris,” said Morag, “you make it too easy.”

The naked man, who would probably have found the prick debate hard enough to navigate even if his own hadn’t been hanging there like a chorizo in a delicatessen window, had come to peer over Paris’s shoulder. “So these are, like, French Hobnobs?”

Morag shook her head. “No, these are for posh bastards. They were invented specifically to be eaten out of Marie Antoinette’s vagina.”

The naked man looked interested. “Really?”

“No,” cried Paris. “They were designed to be dipped in champagne and not to go anywhere near anyone’s genitals.” He looked down at the chorizo. “No offence.”

“None taken. Can I try one?”

“If you like.” Paris added a sprinkle of powdered sugar and nudged over one of his better-evened biscuits. “But they really are better with champagne.”

“Or,” suggested Morag, “in a vagina. Most things are.” She paused. “Except Mars bars because the batter comes off.”

The naked man crunched appreciatively. “I’m game if you are.”

“Is it okay”— Paris didn’t quite wring his hands, but he moved his hands in a wringular direction— “if we don’t make my biscuits roses de Reims into a sex thing? I have childhood memories of these.”

Morag fixed him with an affectionate glare. “Oh, I bet you did. You probably had them in your packed lunch, next to your caviar sandwiches and your squeezy box full of Dom Pérignon.”

Paris tried to glare back, but he didn’t have a face for glaring. He suspected he probably looked like a mildly upset sheep. “I did not have a squeezy box full of Dom Pérignon.”

“But you did have caviar sandwiches?”

The problem with being baited was that the bait would just sit there wriggling until you bit on it. And Paris couldn’t stand to have something sitting there wriggling. “You don’t put caviar in sandwiches.”

“Well,” Morag finished triumphantly. “I wouldn’t know. Because I’m not a posh bastard.”

“To be fair,” said the naked man apologetically, “you must be a bit of a posh bastard because you live in a fancy flat in central London with a man who makes biskwee roses de Reims.”

Morag put her actual hands on her actual hips. “How fucking dare you? I’m as common as fucking muck and fucking proud of it. The closest I got to fine wine when I was growing up was a Capri Sun that had been left by the radiator. The flat’s his.” She jerked a thumb at Paris. “I just rent a room off him with money that I don’t have and he doesn’t need.”

The rent had, in fact, been a bit of a sore point when they’d first started sharing, because it’d felt weird to Paris that Morag was technically paying more to live there than he was. “I said you didn’t have to.”

“And I said I’ve never been a freeloader in my life and I’m not going to start now.”

Morag had guests over fairly often— something that Paris at least semi-appreciated since otherwise it would just have been her, him, and a skittish Russian Blue that a long-since-forgotten whim had led him to name Neferneferuaten— and so he was fairly used to seeing the look of confusion he was currently seeing.

“And how,” the naked man asked, “did you two meet exactly?”

“It’s a long story,” said Morag at the same time Paris said, “At university.”

Morag considered this for a moment. “Okay, so it’s not that long a story. Basically, I spent the whole of first year listening to people going what’s up with that weird Paris guy. He never talks to anyone and lives alone in a big mansion like he’s Norma fucking Desmond.”

“I talk to people,” protested Paris.

“Hello and yes, you can borrow my pen are not talking to people. Anyway, the point is that I wasn’t going to let some lanky Sassenach scare me off with his oh I’m so aloof routine, so I pinned him down after lectures one day and asked if he wanted to fuck me hard in the toilets. And he said actually I’m gay, and I said okay, do you want to get coffee then. And we’ve been friends ever since. Then in second year I asked if he wanted to live together so he’d look like less of a lonely wee loser, and here we are.”

From the way the naked guy was peering around, there was still something about the arrangement that wasn’t quite making sense to him. Probably it was the fact that while “we met at university and she felt sorry for me” was a reasonable explanation for why Morag and Paris were living together, it didn’t explain why there were biscuits roses de Reims spread over every available surface. “So now,” he tried, with an un-reassured edge to his voice, “you share a luxury flat in central London and spend most of your time”— he picked up a biscuit— “ making one very specific type of expensive biscuit?”

As was her habit, Morag did the explaining for both of them. “He’s on Bake Expectations.”

“What?” The naked man looked mildly interested. “The thing with people baking cakes in a ballroom?”

Morag nodded. “When we first started hanging out together, we had two things in common, which were Catullus and that fucking baking show. And he said he’d always wanted to go on it— ”

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