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Katya Dee

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  1. Katya Dee

    Chapter 13

    Mmm... Maybe not.
  2. - XIV - Leon watched Stratos’ car disappear in the night, and when it did, he considered throwing something big into the dark window of the library not too far from him. Instead of doing that, he sighed and pulled out his phone. “Hey,” he said a minute later. “Hey...” she said slowly, as if trying to figure out who it was that called her. “It’s...” he started saying, and she immediately interrupted him. “I know who you are, Leon... I am just wondering why you called me.... What’s up?” “You feel like getting drunk tonight?” he asked seriously, and she was silent. “And by ‘drunk’...” he continued. “...I mean ‘incoherent-dropping-on-the-floor-drowning-in-your-own-vomit’ shitfaced,” he nodded, and this time, she let out a small sigh. “What’s the reason?” she asked, and he didn’t say anything to that. “I see,” she said seriously a couple of silent minutes later. “Well...” she sighed. “It’s been a while since I drowned in my own vomit... So, yeah, let’s do that!” “Meet me in the Mist Bucket in half an hour,” he said without a smile. “See you there,” she replied in the same serious manner, and the phone clicked dead. ...“I thought you quit,” she said, nodding at the cigarette in his hand. Leon looked up. “It’s either this or a sniper rifle on top of a clock tower,” he replied seriously, and she gave him a quick smile. “What did he do now?” she asked after she sat down and signaled for a drink. “Stratos,” she said patiently after he wouldn’t say anything. “He is the only one who can reduce you to...” She paused. “...this,” she finished with a firm nod and a slight hand movement. “How was your date last night?” he asked suddenly, and she glanced at him while lighting up one of her own cigarettes. “Tell me yours, and I’ll tell you mine,” she said without smiling this time. He sighed and leaned on the back of his chair. One of the waiters came closer to refill his drink and he looked up. “Just bring me the entire bottle,” he said tiredly, and nodded at the look he received from the waiter. “This way, you won’t have to come back here every five minutes.” He looked at the waiter who was walking away, his expression thoughtful. Finally, he sighed again and looked at her. “You know,” he started saying with the same thoughtful expression on his face. “Two years ago, before you left, while you two were still together...” He glanced up and nodded once more when the waiter set an almost full bottle of gin in front of him. “...I hated you,” he continued after the waiter walked away. “I did,” he nodded after she raised one of her eyebrows. “I kind of figured that,” she said in a low voice. “With all the screaming matches we would get into... And if that wasn’t enough...” She smiled and reached for the bottle. “You, crashing your car into that tree, while I was with you, was a dead give-away...” “Yeah,” he hemmed, watching her through the blue floating cigarette smoke. “You would’ve done the same, just admit it.” “No,” she said immediately, and he snorted at that. “I wouldn’t have slammed on my brakes right before we went into that tree... I would’ve driven faster...” He laughed, feeling better. “I had to slam on my brakes,” he said with a small smile. “You were my only witness... I had to do it, so you would tell them that I did everything I could to prevent the disaster...” She laughed as well. “So...” she said a minute later, and he sighed. “So...” he repeated without a smile this time. “He called me today,” he said a minute later, his eyes fixed on the half-empty glass in front of him. “I knew that he would be kissing up,” he let out a very small smile and shrugged without looking away from the glass. “I had some plans, I admit...” he nodded and picked up the glass. “Figured that I might as well take a full advantage of the situation,” he continued after emptying the glass in one swift move. Katherine wouldn’t say anything, watching him patiently while he lit a cigarette. “Well,” he sighed a minute later. “It went promising in the beginning,” he nodded and leaned onto the table with his elbows. “For about...” He frowned thoughtfully. “...oooh, I would say, for about two hours... After that...” he hemmed and refilled his glass. “He started looking at the goddamn clock every three minutes...” “Clock...?” Katherine blinked at that, and he looked at her. “Yeah... He couldn’t wait to get rid of me finally... The only thing he wanted to do was to go back home...” He twisted his mouth in a bleak smile. “Two hours...” he nodded slowly. “That’s how long he could handle being away from him...” She leaned a bit closer, pressing her elbows into the tabletop as well, and he glanced at her. “Away from his goddamn kelari...” he said without any smile this time. “What did you do?” Katherine asked a few silent minutes later, and he sighed. “Told him to fucking go home already...” He let out humorless laughter. “Turns out, I still do have some pride left... Surprised the hell out of me,” he muttered and emptied his glass once again. “I mean...” he shrugged. “I could’ve played dumb... I could’ve pretended that I never noticed anything... I tried,” he nodded thoughtfully. “Didn’t work,” he sighed and reached for the bottle again. “So, how was your date last night?” he asked a minute later. She looked at her almost empty glass for almost a minute without saying anything. Finally, Leon sighed, picked up the bottle that was sitting next to him, and refilled her glass to the brim. “There,” he said with a slight nod, and she threw a quick look at him, still silent. He watched her semi-patiently after signaling to the waiter for another bottle, and finally, she sighed and emptied almost the entire glass in one quick, wince-free move. Leon blinked at that. “Look at you go,” he muttered with a shadow of respect. “I am a pro by now,” she said seriously and lit a cigarette. “My date was disappointing,” she said without a smile, and Leon raised one of his eyebrows after taking another bottle out of waiter’s hands. “Do tell,” he nodded when she wouldn’t say anything else. “It started in a promising enough way...” she gave him a tiny smile with the corners of her mouth. “We had dinner, got to dessert... I was about to offer to open the wine...” She emptied the glass completely, and Leon immediately refilled it, noting her slight nod. “Then...” She sighed and took a slow drag on her cigarette. “I decided to take a risk,” she shrugged after she lowered her hand. “Risk,” Leon repeated, and she nodded again. “Yeah,” she blew a cloud of blue smoke out of her nostrils. “I made a move...” “Oh, God...” Leon briefly closed his eyes. “He pushed you away...?” “You would like that, wouldn’t you?” she asked in a low voice, and he opened his eyes. “Yes and no,” he said honestly, and Katherine let out a quick, short laughter. “No,” she sighed and stabbed her cigarette in the ashtray. “He didn’t push me away... Actually...” She frowned somewhat thoughtfully. “I think he liked it...” She slowly nodded and drank more gin from her glass, not as quickly this time. “Yeah,” she nodded a few seconds later. “He definitely liked it...” “So what happened?” Leon frowned when she fell silent again, and she hemmed. “What happened was...” she paused once more. “His...” There was another pause. “His ‘goddamn kelari’...” she gave him a slightly hazy, mocking look. “...stormed off, jealous as hell...” “Jealous...” Leon repeated very slowly, and she gave him another quick look. “As hell,” she nodded seriously. “You should’ve seen the way he looked at me... If looks could kill, you’d be drinking with a very pissed off ghost right now...” “He was jealous...” Leon said in the same slow manner without looking at her, and she slightly narrowed her eyes. He noticed the look on her face and straightened up. “What happened then?” he asked without saying anything else. She looked at him for a few thoughtful seconds, and then shrugged. “After he stormed off, that was the only thing Stratos could think about,” she said almost casually and lit another cigarette. “Didn’t hear a single word that I was saying...” She looked at the glowing tip of her cigarette. “Kept staring upstairs and muttering ‘He is hurting’ every few seconds...” She twisted her mouth in a quick, bitter smile and took a drag on her cigarette. “What did you do?” Leon asked her seriously, and she sighed and stabbed her half-finished cigarette in the ashtray. “I left,” she said simply and smiled again in the same bitter manner. “Turns out, I have some pride left as well...” “Good for us...” Leon muttered and refilled both of their glasses. “To pride...!” He raised his glass a few seconds later, and she gave him another smile and did the same. “To pride,” she said with a serious nod and clinked their glasses together. They smoked in silence for a few minutes after finishing their drinks, and then Katherine let out a soft snort. “Mmm...?” Leon glanced at her. “If you ask me...” she said in a low, slightly slurring voice. “...this whole affair is not going to last much longer...” “Uh huh...” Leon snorted as well. “That’s what I thought almost a month ago...” “No, seriously,” she nodded and whipped out another cigarette. “I know Stratos well enough, and when he will finally realize that I was right about that kelari lying to him... Which he will...” She nodded again, flicking the lighter several times in a row without producing a single spark. “When he realizes that, he will kick him out sooner than you could say ‘Told you so’...” She tutted with dark, impatient irritation when the lighter wouldn’t cooperate, and Leon sighed and lit his own lighter, bringing it closer to her. “Mmm...” she said with appreciation after dipping the tip of the cigarette into the small dancing flame. “What do you mean, lying...?” Leon asked when she wouldn’t say anything else, and received another soft snort. “That kelari fed him the cheesiest bullshit ever,” she said and leaned on the table with one elbow. “He told him that Stratos was the very first one in his entire life who made him come... Said that he’d never orgasmed before...” She slightly frowned. “That’s a word, isn’t it...?” she asked no one in particular, and then snorted yet again. “Stratos swallowed that without even blinking... Talk about gullible...! A whore that never came... Hey, that would make a great movie title!” she nodded with sudden inspiration and reached for the bottle. “He wasn’t lying...” Leon said dully, watching her filling up her glass, and she frowned and looked up. “Huh...?” she said after several silent, dumbfounded seconds. “He wasn’t lying,” Leon repeated in the same dull manner. (“The kid was completely asexual... Ironic... No matter how much you would try to pound his brains out, he wouldn’t get even semi-hard... ”) Katherine set the bottle on the table, her glass half-full. “How do you even know...?” she asked incredulously, and was about to say something else when he sighed and interrupted her. “I just do,” he said shortly, and then snorted himself. “And apparently...” he started saying slowly, watching her to pick up the bottle again. “...apparently, he is a partially Locked telekinetic who sleepwalked last night and freaked the shit out at some melody Stratos was playing at four in the morning, exploding the entire goddamn window in that ro...” He jerked and spilled some of his drink when there was a sudden loud crashing sound interrupting him. “What the f...” he started saying, and Katherine leaped off her chair in one quick, angry move, interrupting him once again. “Son of a bitch...!” she growled, and this time, her voice wasn’t slurry in the slightest. “You dropped the bottle?” he asked incredulously, and received a very dark look from her. “You should be a detective,” she said sharply and stepped aside when the same waiter who served them earlier came to clean up the mess on the floor. “How drunk are you...?” he laughed rather loudly, and she rolled her eyes. “Not that drunk,” she answered in the same sharp manner, and moved her chair to the other end of table, away from the broken pieces of glass. “Your fault...” she looked at him again. “Bring us another bottle,” she said quickly after the waiter straightened up, finishing with the broken glass disaster. “My fault,” Leon repeated, feeling slightly better by now – the scene really did make him laugh. “Telekinetic...?” she narrowed her eyes. “Locked...? You don’t say shit like that when someone is trying to pour a drink...!” She took another bottle out of the suddenly appearing waiter’s hands and dismissed him with a barely noticeable nod without even looking up. “Seriously...” she blew a curly strand of hair off her forehead and quickly opened the bottle, making Leon blink with another shadow of respect when she made it look incredibly easy. “Go ahead...” she said in a low voice after refilling both of their glasses. “Elaborate... It’s fine now,” she threw him another dark glance, and he sighed and drank some of his gin. “Well,” he said a few seconds later. “Apparently, Stratos had a hell of a night...” ...“Holy...” Katherine said slowly almost half an hour later. “...everything,” she finished after pausing to search for the right word. “Mmm,” Leon shrugged and finished his drink, pushing away the empty glass. “Right now, I don’t even care...” “Holy...” Katherine muttered again without looking at him. “What the hell was he playing?” She finally glanced up. “And what the hell was he doing, practicing at four in the morning?” “He wasn’t practicing,” Leon thoughtfully looked at the bottle in front of him, wondering if he wanted more gin. Then he sighed and lit a cigarette instead. He’d had enough alcohol for tonight, he knew that. If he drinks any more, then tomorrow morning he would probably try to throw himself in front of a bus to end his misery. If he would be able to walk far enough to find the said bus, that is. “He wasn’t practicing,” he said again, and briefly thought that Katherine didn’t look inebriated in the slightest, even though she drank more tonight than he did. She frowned and leaned onto the back of her chair. “You said he was playing...” “He was,” Leon agreed with her, feeling pleasantly numb. “But he wasn’t practicing; he was impro...” A suddenly loud hiccup shut him up in mid-sentence and he blinked several times, as if not believing he just did that. “Sexy,” Katherine nodded without a smile. “You were saying...?” “He was improvising,” Leon sighed, feeling no shame whatsoever. “He said he woke up, couldn’t sleep, went to play some random music... Oh, hey...!” he let out quick laughter after remembering something. “Funny thing...!” Katherine glanced at him in the same serious, thoughtful manner as she did before. “He said that he played the same thing as he did a few days ago... I remembered what he was talking about, I was there... It was a peculiar little melody, but original...” He managed to swallow another hiccup. “Went something like this...” He half-closed his eyes, thought for a few seconds, and then hummed a small portion of the melody that he remembered somewhat well, slightly waving his hand in the air. “Well...” he shrugged when he stopped humming. “Not exactly like this, but close enough... Wonder if he decides to start composing now... Hey...” he called when Katherine just sat there without saying anything. “Hey... You okay...?” He leaned a little closer when she didn’t reply, and then blinked at her expression. She looked like someone who has fallen asleep with their eyes open. “...and speaking of your eyes...” Leon muttered and leaned a bit closer, wondering whether he drank too much and was now seeing things. For a second or so, he could’ve sworn that Katherine’s black eyes weren’t black at all right now – they were some weird, dark-maroon color, and they didn’t have pupils or whites. “What the shit...?” he muttered and leaned even closer, when his elbow slightly slipped and knocked over the ashtray, spilling dead ashes and cigarette butts all over their table. The sound came out unexpectedly loud, and Katherine finally blinked and looked at him. “Smooth move,” she said in her usual sarcastic manner, and Leon blinked again – her eyes were tired and somewhat sad, but they were the same bright black, and looked like any normal eyes would, demonstrating both pupils (even though it was difficult to see them in the middle of bright blackness) and perfectly fine whites. He sighed and picked up the ashtray, quickly swiping the mess off the table with a napkin. The light in this place, he thought. It was dim, and everything was hiding in shadows – the usual light settings for an intimate bar. He crumpled the napkin into a misshapen ball after the table was somewhat clean, sighed again, and thought that he wouldn’t mind going home now, just so he could fall on his bed and blissfully pass out. He was about to say that he would take off soon, but Katherine spoke first. “He shouldn’t Unlock him,” she said very seriously, and Leon leaned on the table again. “That’s exactly what I told him,” he nodded, and gave her a quick, cynical smile when she looked at him. “And he pretty much told me to stick my head up my own ass and mind my own damn business, since he didn’t give a flying shit about my opinions...” “He shouldn’t Unlock him,” she repeated without a smile. “If he does, it’ll be...” she paused. “...idiotic?” Leon helped her with the word search, and she slowly nodded. “I was going for impulsive and irrational, but that works...” “Tell him,” Leon shrugged and grabbed his lighter and a half-empty pack of cigarettes off the table, absent-mindedly shoving them in his pocket. “You...” he paused. “...he might actually listen,” he nodded a second later, and she let out a sigh. “I doubt that,” she muttered. “You were right,” she threw him a quick, serious glance. “He is completely different when they are together... At first, I thought you were bullshitting me out of spite, but you weren’t...” She fell silent again, and Leon stood up, pushing his chair back. “I am going home,” he announced after he threw several bills on the table. “All I wanna do right now is to pass out for the next decade or so... What’s kelari’s usual lifespan...?” She looked up at him, and this time, she smiled. “Same as humans’,” she nodded. “But if he is really telekinetic, then it’s a hell of a lot longer...” she sighed and pressed her chin into her palm. “Abilities let you live for a very long time...” she nodded thoughtfully. “You should know,” she added after a second, and Leon grimaced. “Well,” he said shortly. “I am going home, good night...!” He was about to start walking away, when she said: “Gem...” Leon turned around and looked at her. “What?” he asked and she straightened up and lowered her hand. “That’s what Stratos calls him,” she said seriously. “Gem...” “Ah...” Leon said a few seconds later, almost changing his mind about leaving. Gem, he thought. Short for ‘Gemini.’ “Screw it,” he muttered darkly and pulled his car keys out of his pocket. He started walking away, and then thought of something and stopped. “How much does it take nowadays to get you drunk for real?” he asked with genuine curiosity, and Katherine blinked at that. “I mean,” he continued. “You drank a hell of a lot more than I did, and I am not a light weight, but I am beyond warm and fuzzy right now... But you...” he hemmed. “Seriously, what’s your secret?” “You have no idea how wasted I am right now,” she said in a low voice. “I seem fine because I am sitting down, but believe me, the minute I get up, I will probably try kissing the floor...” She gave him a somewhat goofy grin. “There is no way in hell I am driving tonight... I am going to call for a cab...” “I can drive you...” he started saying, but she quickly shook her head. “Nah,” she gave him another goofy grin. “I don’t want to leave just yet... Cab will be fine. Thanks though... Oh...!” Her eyes widened to a comical degree when an unexpected and rather loud hiccup jumped out of her throat, making her hand fly up and cover her mouth. “Sexy,” Leon hemmed, and she looked at him with the same wide eyes. “Try not to puke,” he said and walked away for real. ...He was half-way home when he suddenly realized that tonight, he was the only one genuinely drunk – Katherine wasn’t intoxicated in the slightest, and that last loud hiccup was nothing but an attempt to hide the fact that she was stone-cold sober. “How is that even possible...?” he muttered without looking away from the empty dark road. “And why would she hide it...?” He had no idea. He kept thinking about it and muttering to himself all the way home. When he finally got there, he left his car on the driveway, never bothering with the garage, opened the front door, and made his swaying way to the bed, pulling off his clothes as he walked. He collapsed into the inviting, tantalizing softness of the pillows and blankets, exhaled with great satisfaction, and fell asleep almost immediately. Right before he was completely lost in the growing darkness, he thought, “Actually, he should Unlock him; it’ll be better for him too... What he shouldn’t do, is to play that goddamn melody ever again...” He had no clue why he thought that, but before he tried figuring it out, he was asleep. When he woke up at noon the following day, he had no idea that thought even existed – he remembered nothing.
  3. - XIII - “So, how was your date with Katherine?” Leon asked almost two hours later, when they were sitting at their table at ‘Black Lotus,’ after finally leaving the coffee shop. Stratos shot him a quick glance above the menu he’s been studying for the last ten minutes. “Good,” he nodded. “It was really good...” He returned his attention to the menu, and Leon slightly frowned without looking away from his face. “Good...?” Leon asked in a low voice, and received another quick glance. “That’s all...? Not going to share any details?” “There is nothing to share,” Stratos shrugged without looking away from the menu this time. “No details, really... She came in, we had dinner, chatted for a while, and then she left... No details,” he shrugged again. Leon frowned deeper. “Wait,” he said, and Stratos sighed and put the menu on the edge of the table. “She left...? You didn’t even...” “No,” Stratos said calmly, his expression undisturbed. “You haven’t seen each other for two years,” Leon started saying slowly. “At the reception, she looked like she was about to rip your clothes off, especially right before you left... Yes, I’ve noticed,” he nodded somewhat poisonously when he saw the look on Stratos’ face. “And with your history...” He paused. “I mean, you lived together for almost a year...! I figured...” “It is history now,” Stratos interrupted him. “It’s in the past. We are friends, nothing else... Things change, people change...” “Tell me about it,” Leon muttered darkly, and Stratos’ expression slightly shifted. Now it was somewhat darker. “By the way,” Leon sighed and decided to change the topic, feeling strangely relieved and irritated at the same time. On one hand, he was glad that the old spark between Stratos and Katherine hasn’t come back. On the other hand, however, he was frustratingly aware of the fact that he would much rather have Katherine as his rival than that damn kelari. “ ‘By the way’ what?” Stratos looked at him when Leon stopped talking. “Right...” Leon blinked several times. “The concert next month...?” “What about it?” Stratos absent-mindedly twirled a small silver spoon in his fingers. “It’s in twelve days,” Leon nodded, and Stratos just stared at him without blinking. “It moved,” Leon nodded again. “Has something to do with their governor, elections, and something else... Stratos...?” he called a minute later when the unblinking stare of the blue eyes never changed. “Stratos, you alive...?” He sighed when he received no answer. “I could cancel it if you want...” he started saying, and Stratos finally blinked. “So you are telling me about it now?” he asked in a low voice. “Why...? I mean, you are giving me way too much time...! Should’ve told me the night before the actual concert, why bother now...?” Leon let out a small smile, immediately noting a quick flash of very restrained fury reflect in the blue eyes. “They called me on Friday morning,” he said calmly. “Figured there was no need for you to stress about that right before the performance, so...” he shrugged. “I would’ve told you at the reception, but you were too busy blowing off Katherine and trying to drown in your kelari’s mouth... Bold move, by the way,” he smiled again when he saw the tightly locked jaw. “People wouldn’t shut up about it after you left... I wouldn’t be surprised if the photos of it ended up in yellow press... Any publicity is good publicity, right?” Stratos looked like he was about to start growling, and Leon gave him another smile, feeling strangely satisfied. “It’s not the end of the world,” he said patiently and drank some water from the glass that was in front of him. “As I said...” he leaned on the back of his chair. “I could go ahead and cancel. There won’t be any problems with that, since you are not the one who...” “No,” Stratos interrupted him gloomily. “Don’t cancel, I’ll be fine... Let’s eat already...” he muttered when he saw a waiter heading their way. Leon watched him for a couple of seconds, his expression thoughtful. Suddenly, he leaned forward. “I changed my mind,” he said, and Stratos frowned at that. “I changed my mind,” Leon nodded. “I don’t want anything in here. I want to go to that little place by the lake; there is no better place than that one...” “It’s more than an hour drive...” Stratos said slowly, and Leon straightened up. “I’ll drive, no worries,” he said in a carefree manner, and Stratos slightly shook his head. “That’s not what I meant,” he said as slowly as before. “I don’t mind driving... It’s just...” he paused. “It’s seven-thirty, it’s dark...” he quickly glanced at the window. “When we get there it’ll be probably after nine, and I am pretty sure it’ll start snowing again... We can go tomorrow...” “I don’t want to go tomorrow,” Leon said quietly but firmly, never looking away. “I want to go now... Of course, if you don’t want to...” He shrugged and leaned onto the back of his chair again, his expression indifferent, and Stratos rolled his eyes – he knew that expression too well. “Fine,” he said with restrained defeat. “Fine... Let’s go...” He looked up. “Turns out we are not staying,” he said to the waiter who was about to start announcing the specials. “Something came up,” he nodded when he saw the man’s puzzled expression. “We will come back another time.” “Certainly,” the waiter nodded stiffly. “Enjoy the rest of your evening...” He walked away, and Stratos sighed and stood up. “You are going to milk it, aren’t you?” he asked in a low voice, and Leon looked at him without a smile. “To the last drop,” he nodded seriously, and Stratos let out another sigh. “I am going to wash my hands,” Leon said suddenly when he noticed something on the inside of his wrist. “It looks like I have coffee all over me...” “I’ll wait for you outside,” Stratos nodded melancholically and headed towards the front door. He went outside and winced at the sudden attack of the cold wind that immediately reminded him of last night. “Don’t open that door...” He shivered from cold and a sudden image of emotionless, gold-filled eyes that flashed in his mind. “Don’t open that door...” He shook his head and pulled his phone out of his pocket. While he was punching in the number, he started humming something under his breath without even noticing it. He stopped humming right before he hit the ‘Call’ button. It was that melody again, he realized, and frowned when he almost started humming again. It was that damn melody... “What the hell...” he whispered, and then he narrowed his eyes and pushed the ‘Call’ button, pressing the phone against his ear. “Hey,” he said a minute later. “It’s me... I’ll be back later than I thought... Oh...” he sighed at the inevitable question. “Leon is being himself... He knows that I can’t say ‘no’ to him right now, so he is making sure he gets everything he possibly can out of this... I don’t know,” he said a few seconds later. “I will try to get back before midnight... Oh, believe me...” he suddenly smiled. “I will not be too tired...! Uh huh...” he nodded to the cold darkness around him. “Nice and slow, just the way you like it...” He let out a short, soft laughter. “I know you do...! You like it slow, and you like it to last a while...” A sudden, loud cough right behind his shoulder made him jerk and turn around. “Uh... I gotta go,” he said when he met a dark stare of brown eyes. “Yeah, I will see you in a few hours... Bye,” he sighed again and snapped the phone shut. “Good to go?” he asked with tired cheerfulness, and Leon narrowed his eyes. “Please, tell me that you were talking to Katherine,” he said in a low voice. “I was talking to Katherine...” Stratos nodded immediately. “...not,” he finished with another sigh, and Leon rolled his eyes. “Let’s go,” he said shortly and started walking towards the car without looking back to make sure that Stratos followed him – he knew he would. **** They were driving for almost forty minutes, and Stratos kept glancing at the car clock every couple of minutes. “When are we leaving?” he asked, and Leon stared at him. “Seriously...?” he asked very slowly, and Stratos sighed. “I mean,” he said patiently. “When are we leaving for Brookland? The performance is in twelve days, and usually, we leave a few days earlier... By the way,” he shot a quick glance to his right, noticing Leon’s relaxing posture. “What about the reservations...?” “All taken care of,” Leon nodded. “Everything is booked and secured. We are leaving next Monday morning... Next Monday,” he said patiently when he saw Stratos’ expression. “Not the upcoming one.” “Ah,” Stratos nodded and glanced at the clock again. “Still want to drive?” “Sure...” Leon nodded without looking away from Stratos’ face. “All right,” Stratos nodded again, and shot another glance at the clock. Leon kept watching him for the next five minutes, and finally, he gritted his teeth and closed his eyes. “Go back,” he said sharply after he opened them. “What...?” Stratos frowned at that. “Go back,” Leon repeated a little louder. “Take me to my car and go home...” “Leon, what is...” “You, looking at the goddamn clock every three seconds, that’s what!” Leon interrupted him in the same sharp manner. “Leon, we are more than halfway there...” Stratos said without slowing down. “I said I would go...” “Because you have to,” Leon snapped at him. “Not because you want to... The only thing you want right now is to get back home, and I am not going to force you into spending an evening with me...!” “Leon...” “Go back,” Leon said again, darker this time. “Goddammit, Stratos, just go back!” he yelled when the car wouldn’t slow down. Stratos jerked at that and stepped on the brake, making the car whine and skid sideways. He let go of the brake pedal, straightened out the car, and tried again. This time, he was more successful, and a minute later, the car came to a smooth stop on the side of the dark road. “Leon...” Stratos said after several minutes of heavy silence. “Go back,” Leon interrupted him quietly without looking at him. “Just go back...” They sat in silence a little while longer. “Are we okay?” Stratos asked finally. “No,” Leon answered shortly without looking at him. “But we will be,” he said quietly a minute later. Stratos nodded at that very slowly and threw the car in gear. ...“Wanna hear something weird?” he asked half an hour later, and Leon sighed and looked at him. “What?” he asked tiredly. “Do you remember one time, a few days ago, when you asked me about what I was playing...? I was improvising, it was morning, and you were...” “...getting coffee,” Leon nodded. “Yeah, I remember.” “Do you remember the melody I was playing?” Leon thought about it for a few seconds. “As a matter of fact, I do...” he said slowly, his expression thoughtful. “I have never heard anything like that before... I thought it was...” “...disturbingly-beautiful,” Stratos nodded with a small smile. “Yeah...” Leon muttered. “Disturbingly-beautiful... What about it?” he sighed again, and Stratos shot him a quick glance. “Okay,” he said in a low voice. “Last night, the weirdest thing happened...” ...“Don’t open that door...?” Leon muttered when Stratos finished telling him about what happened last night. “What door...?” “Have no clue,” Stratos shook his head without looking away from the road in front of them. “When I woke up in the morning, I thought it was a dream... But then I found my shirt at the bottom of the stairs, and the window in that room was broken... Wasn’t a dream,” he finished with a slight nod. “Did you ask him about what the hell it meant?” Leon frowned. “In the morning, did you ask him...?” “No,” Stratos shook his head again. “I am sure that he doesn’t even remember anything from last night... He was sleepwalking...” He glanced at Leon, managing to keep himself from looking at the clock this time. “I’ve never sleepwalked, but I am pretty sure that you don’t remember anything when you wake up...” “Leave it to Loreya to find you a damaged kelari...” Leon muttered, and Stratos’ mouth twitched with dark irritation. He managed to stay silent, however. “Wait...” Leon frowned again. “What exactly happened to the window...? You said it broke, but how? I am pretty sure that the wind last night wasn’t that bad...” “Oh, yeah...” Stratos said slowly. “About that...” “What?” Leon asked impatiently when Stratos stopped talking. “This morning...” Stratos started saying slowly. “This morning, we figured out... Well, I figured out...” he shrugged. “What?” Leon asked once more when Stratos fell silent again. “You figured out what...?” “He is telekinetic,” Stratos said quietly, and Leon looked at him without blinking for several stunned seconds. “Bullshit...!” he finally laughed. “Stratos, that’s bullshit...! Whatever he told you...” “He didn’t tell me anything,” Stratos interrupted him. “In fact, he didn’t even know...! Long story,” he grimaced when he caught another incredulous look. “He didn’t tell me,” he said again. “Pictures on my bedroom walls...?” “What about them?” Leon sighed, clearly not convinced. “Do you remember how heavy the frames are?” Stratos shot him a quick glance. “I remember,” Leon said quietly. “I remember lots of things about your bedroom...” “Right...” Stratos nodded without feeling any guilt this time. “Anyway, one of them flew across the room and smashed into the opposite wall...” “What did...?” Leon asked dumbfoundedly. “A picture,” Stratos nodded. “All by itself; and since I know it wasn’t me who did that...” He shrugged without finishing the sentence. “Wait...” Leon frowned deeper than before. “So he just went into your bedroom and threw a picture at you?” Stratos blinked at that and rolled his eyes. “No,” he said with less patience. “He didn’t throw it at me...! See...” he sighed. “I realized that things move on their own whenever he is experiencing strong emotions...” “Mmmk...” Leon said slowly. “So what did you do...? What did you do to make him...” He paused, his expression disbelievingly-sarcastic. “...to make him move that picture?” he asked finally. “Made him cry about his ruined childhood...?” Stratos’ expression immediately darkened. “No,” he said quietly. “He was...” Here he stopped talking and coughed rather loudly. “He was what...?” Leon asked with the same sarcastic look on his face. “He was what...?” he asked again when Stratos kept coughing. “Are you choking on something?” he asked a minute later with less patience. “If so, then pull over. I don’t want to get into a wreck because you’ve got a sudden hairball...” Stratos finally stopped coughing and threw a very quick look at Leon who was getting more impatient. “He was what...?” Leon asked one more time, and now he sounded tired. “Let’s just say, it was intense, all right?” Stratos asked quickly, and Leon narrowed his eyes. “It was intense, and right when it was happening, that picture...” “Ha...” Leon said suddenly, his voice low and not sarcastic at all this time. “He was coming, wasn’t he?” “Well...” Stratos said, and Leon snorted at that. “So, every time he comes, pictures start flying around?” he asked poisonously, and Stratos blinked. “Errr...” he said. “No...” “Ha...” Leon said again. “Must’ve been one hell of an orgasm...” he muttered and looked outside. “Errr...” Stratos said once more, and Leon sighed and looked at him. “Take the next exit,” he said calmly, and Stratos gave him a questioning look. “It’ll be faster,” Leon nodded. “I want to get to my car,” he said and looked outside again. “...because if I hear any more about how intensely that fucking kelari comes, I will murder both of you,” he thought without looking away from the window. “I think that he is Locked,” Stratos said a few silent minutes later, and Leon blinked and finally looked at him. “Huh?” he asked. Stratos sighed and quickly explained his theory. “Well,” Leon shrugged after he finished talking. “Problem solved then... Slap the remaining Locks on him and call it a day!” “What?” Stratos asked quietly, and Leon shrugged again. “Finish the job,” he said. “Lock him completely; who needs a toy that can explode your goddamn windows?” “He is not a toy...” Stratos said slowly, restraining himself from saying the words that were dancing on the tip of his tongue. “And no, I am not going to...” He slightly stuttered. “...finish the job,” he said finally. “In fact...” He slowed down before turning into the right exit when he saw that the traffic light at the end of the exit turned red. “If he wants to take the Locks off, I am going to find someone who can do that...” “Huh?” Leon straightened up in his seat. “You mean, you are going to Unlock him?” “If that’s what he wants, then yes,” Stratos nodded calmly and took his foot off the brake pedal when the light suddenly blinked green. “Are you insane?” Leon asked incredulously. “If he can make that bloody picture fly across your entire bedroom while he is Locked, can you imagine what kind of damage he will be able to do if you take the damn things off? Stratos, do you want him to explode your house every time you make him come?” “He’ll learn to control it,” Stratos said evenly. “Stratos...” “If he wants to take off the Locks, I will help him,” Stratos interrupted him. “Plus, I am pretty sure he only has one Lock on him... There is no way he would be able to do all that with two of them...” “But you don’t know for sure...!” Leon said heatedly. “Stratos, he has been Locked for a reason! And probably, a good one for that matter! If you...” “Drop it,” Stratos said quietly and jerked the steering wheel to the right, switching lanes, and without bothering to look in the mirror first. “If he wants it off, then it will come off, end of discussion.” Leon gritted his teeth and was relieved when he finally saw his car parked in the middle of the empty parking lot. “Are we okay?” Stratos asked when he stopped the car without throwing the gear into ‘Park.’ Leon paused for a few seconds, and then shrugged and opened the door. “We will be,” he said and got out of the car. “See you tomorrow,” he said without a smile. “You need to start rehearsing again.” “I know,” Stratos nodded. “Leon...” “Go home,” Leon interrupted him. “Go home and fuck him nice and slow, just the way he likes it...” He straightened up. “Just take down all your pictures first,” he nodded and slammed the door of the car shut. Stratos let out a deep sigh and tightly pressed his lips while watching his friend walk towards the lonely car in the empty parking lot. He watched him for a few more seconds, and then shrugged and let go of the brake. He really did want to get home finally.
  4. Katya Dee

    Chapter 12

    Actually no... But damn, that IS a good idea!
  5. - XII - He looked at the phone in his hand, silently debating with himself – should he call Leon right now or Katherine? To be honest, calling Katherine sounded more tempting. He was itching to tell her about everything that happened – the strange melody, his weird awakening in the middle of the night, burning desire to create music, Gemini’s sleepwalking, his scary transformation, his stunning reaction to that melody, the revelation that both of them received an hour ago... He had to discuss it with someone, had to figure out what the hell was going on, and Katherine was the perfect candidate for that – the amount of knowledge that woman had could put a decent-size library to shame. He was sure that if he told her everything that happened, she would come up with a solution. Maybe not the solution, but at least, she would help. On the other hand, he knew that if he didn’t call Leon any time soon, he would have hell to pay next time he saw his friend. Leon would fume for a while, Stratos knew that; but he also knew that if he waited too long before calling him, it would make things even worse. If he didn’t want another angry explosion in his face (something like this happened a couple of years ago, and it wasn’t pretty), then he’d better call Leon right now and wait to meet Katherine until tomorrow. He twirled his phone in his hand for a couple more minutes, and then sighed and flipped it open. “Hey,” he said a minute later and closed his eyes when he received nothing but silence in return. Finally, there was a deep, long sigh, and Stratos opened his eyes, feeling relieved when he heard a gloomy: “Hey...” “It’s me,” he said, knowing exactly what Leon would say to that if he really cooled off by now. “No shit,” Leon said with mild amusement, and Stratos smiled. He was hoping to hear that. “Meet me at the ‘Breeze’?” he offered and smiled again when there was weak interest in Leon’s voice. “Oh...?” he said. ‘Breeze’ was Leon’s favorite coffee shop, and Stratos was perfectly aware of that. “Yeah,” he said casually. “After that we could head to ‘Black Lotus’...” “Gregorio...” Leon sighed, and Stratos smiled wider. Every time Leon would call him by his last name, it meant that Stratos was forgiven, even though he would still have some serious kissing up to do. He was fine with that. He looked at the clock. “Four o’clock?” Stratos offered, and almost laughed out loud when he heard: “You are driving.” “So you want me to pick you up, princess?” he asked, and Leon let out a sigh. “No,” he said. “I’ll meet you at the ‘Breeze.’ I need to hit the library.” “Sounds good,” Stratos nodded mostly to himself. “And after dinner, we...” “See you at four,” Leon interrupted him, and Stratos briefly closed his eyes when the phone suddenly clicked dead. Yes, he was forgiven, but it didn’t mean that he wouldn’t be punished. He sighed and put the phone on the table. After doing that, he stood still for a minute, thinking. Then he sighed again and headed upstairs; if they were going to ‘Black Lotus,’ then he had to wear something other than his jeans – it wasn’t a casual kind of place. ...He was in the middle of choosing a shirt when he heard the bathroom door open. He automatically glanced at his watch. 3:10; Gemini had been in the shower for longer than an hour. Stratos let out an inaudible sigh. Gemini always took long showers, and they got longer, depending on how upset he was – Stratos figured it out by the end of the first week they lived in the same house. If he was in a good mood, he’d be done with his shower in about thirty minutes, give or take. Stratos sighed when he remembered yesterday morning – it’s been two hours before Gemini finally left the bathroom. Stratos couldn’t figure out why he would be in such a bad mood, it puzzled him the entire morning. Now, however, he knew the reason perfectly – he was about to go meet Katherine for coffee, and apparently, that was a worse thing than discovering that you had some impressive powers for your entire life, except, you were unable to use them. Today the shower lasted for one hour and ten minutes. Stratos looked at the shirts in front of him, shrugged, and grabbed the one that was closer to him. He came out of the closet and threw the shirt on the bed. “You are leaving?” he heard behind his back, and turned around. “Yeah,” he nodded when he saw the slightly darkened golden eyes. “I have to meet Leon...” He sighed. “I’ve been an ass to him; I need to make up for that... You can come with me if you...” “That’s okay,” Gemini interrupted him immediately. “I’ll be here.” “Right,” Stratos muttered, figuring that it was probably a good idea. Actually, it was a great idea, considering that Leon wasn’t really fond of Gemini, to say mildly. He finished getting dressed in less than ten minutes, and quickly walked to the bathroom for his hairbrush. “I’ll be back in a few hours,” he said after he was satisfied with his reflection. “Figure out what you want to do...” Gemini let out a small smile, his eyes not dark anymore, and stepped closer, immediately finding Stratos’ lips with his mouth. He pulled away a few minutes later, and Stratos cursed silently when there was that very familiar, slow blink-like rising of the long eyelashes. He glanced at the clock. “I get your idea,” he nodded energetically after he realized that it was already 3:20. He had to leave, since he knew that if he were late to meet Leon today, he would have to deal with another fit. “And by the way...” He stopped right after he almost walked away. “Do you really need that towel...?” He received another small smile, and cursed silently once again when Gemini slowly pulled off the towel he had wrapped around his waist. “Of course, I had to ask...” he muttered with dark regret and shook his head. “I really gotta go...!” He walked away after catching another smile and a blink-like rise of the perfect eyelashes. ...He started the engine and sat still for a bit, forcing himself to concentrate on arpeggios and seventh chords of various keys, remembering the correct fingerings for every single one of them. That trick would work for him ever since he was sixteen – whenever he was aroused to the point that it would look obscene, he didn’t have to think of cricket or soccer to calm down his body. Figuring out fingerings for the seventh chords in every single key of the circle of fifths would do the trick perfectly. He was in E-flat Minor when he finally nodded to himself, took a deep breath, and threw the car in gear. **** Leon arrived to the cafe where he was meeting Stratos, almost forty five minutes earlier than he was supposed to – he had to stop by the library, which happened to be just two blocks away, and he didn’t expect to find what he needed so quickly. When he left the library, he headed towards the cafe, figuring that he would simply wait there instead of driving around. He hated driving in the snow. He bought himself a cup of coffee and was sitting by the table, slowly sipping his drink, and absent-mindedly looking outside, his mind wondering. He wasn’t a single bit surprised that Stratos hasn’t called him until this afternoon – he knew that his friend was perfectly aware of Leon’s cooling period; he had learned it the hard way a few years ago. He knew that Stratos was perfectly aware that if he spoke to his manager too soon, he would have to deal with hellish consequences. Leon hemmed to himself without looking away from the window when he remembered Stratos’ cautious voice on the phone a few hours earlier. He was tempted to throw a fit and hang up on him, but at the last second, he sighed and gloomily said, ‘Hey...’ instead. The cafe that Stratos chose for their meeting was one of Leon’s favorites – Stratos was perfectly aware of that as well. Leon let out a tiny smile, thinking that this part he actually liked. He knew that for the next few days Stratos would kiss up to him like there was no tomorrow; he would do pretty much anything to get Leon to forgive him for being a complete ungrateful ass on Friday night. “Oh, the possibilities...” he muttered and drank more coffee. He kept looking outside, scanning through different scenarios in his head, and watching some heavyset guy sitting down on one of the chairs underneath sturdy blue umbrellas that protected it from snow, and lighting up a cigarette. He watched the guy for a minute or so, and suddenly, he had a strangely strong craving for a cigarette. He used to smoke, but he quit four years ago when he got involved with Stratos, knowing that the musician couldn’t stand the smell of tobacco. When Stratos dumped him, Leon almost started smoking again, but then he figured that he managed to go cigarette-free for six months straight, and to start up the same addictive habit would be simply idiotic, stress or not. He was surprised when he didn’t have nightmarish withdrawals as he thought (dreaded) he would. He would experience a weak craving here and there, but it was nothing he couldn’t handle. He watched the guy for another minute, slightly frowning at the strong desire that hit him so unexpectedly hard four years after he quit, and finally, he shrugged to himself, set his cup on the table, and got up, leaving his jacket on the back of the chair – a clear indication that he would be back, so they wouldn’t lose their table. It was Sunday afternoon, and the cafe was full; he really didn’t want to wait for another group of people to leave so they could get to their seats. He walked outside and slightly shivered from snowy cold, but shrugged it off rather quickly, and walked towards the heavyset guy, who looked up at him with mild curiosity. “Would it be all right if I bothered you for a cigarette?” Leon asked with a disarming smile – he knew how to work his smile; he hasn’t met anyone so far who would say ‘No’ to him after he would demonstrate it. The heavyset guy let out short laughter, and said the expected: “Help yourself,” after handing him the pack. Leon flashed another smile and pulled one cigarette out of the hard pack. “Here,” the guy handed him the lighter, and Leon nodded a quick ‘Thank you.’ He took a slow drag and half-closed his eyes. Holy hell, did it feel good...! Especially, after four years of not having any... The guy laughed again. “Grab a chair,” he said, and Leon opened his eyes. He thought about it for a second, and then pulled up a chair that seemed to be the driest of them all, figuring that he might as well sit down and have some light chat with the guy. “You quit, huh?” the guy said, and Leon shot him a quick glance. “That obvious?” he asked in a low voice, and the guy nodded, the same laughter still making his mouth twitch. “Oh, yeah,” he said. “I know the look... Had it myself several times... When was the last time you smoked?” “Four years ago,” Leon half-closed his eyes again, feeling his head slightly spinning from the forgotten kick of tobacco. “Huh,” the guy said, and he sounded impressed. “The longest I ever went was fourteen months...” Leon opened his eyes and smiled, letting out a small shrug. “You never really quit,” he said in a low voice. “You might stop smoking, but you never really quit... You will always think about it...” “Amen, brother,” the guy said seriously, and this time, they laughed together. They smoked in silence for a minute, Leon enjoying his brief cigarette high, when the guy suddenly said: “You don’t look too happy...” Leon blinked at that and looked at him, slightly raising his eyebrow. “...pardon my nosiness,” the guy nodded immediately. Leon hemmed at that and looked at the almost finished cigarette in his hand. “Yeah...” he muttered thoughtfully. “That’s probably because I am not too happy,” he said suddenly, surprising himself – usually, he wasn’t the kind to pour it out in front of complete strangers, smokers or not. “Oh...?” the guy flicked away his finished cigarette and lit another one. “Weather blues...?” he blew a cloud of smoke out of his nostrils that immediately mixed with the cloud of warm air that emerged from his mouth. “No,” Leon said thoughtfully, wondering why he felt like sharing something with this guy. Then he shrugged to himself. The guy was a total stranger, and Leon would probably never see him again after this shared smoke – it was a big city. He regretfully flicked his cigarette into the pile of snow not too far away, and blinked several times when the guy immediately handed him the pack. He looked at it for a couple of seconds, and then grabbed it and pulled out another cigarette without thinking about it too much. He lit it and stared at the glowing tip for a few seconds without saying anything. Finally, he sighed. “I am waiting for my friend,” he said slowly. “He will be kissing up to me... A lot,” he added with a small nod, and the guy said: “Oh...?” once again. “Yeah,” Leon smiled and shot him a quick glance. “He has to make up for being an ass to me...” He shrugged and took a slow drag on his cigarette, making the tip glow with comforting warmth. “That’s not the reason though...” He sighed once more. “The reason is...” he continued slowly a second later. “The reason is that I know that he is obsessed with a certain kelari...” His mouth twitched involuntarily. “He has been obsessed with him for the past month, and I can’t stand it...” “A kelari, huh...” the guy hemmed, and Leon nodded. “They are great in bed, you know...” “So I’ve heard,” Leon replied melancholically, watching two clouds mix together again. “Have never tried though...” “You miss out on a lot,” the guy nodded seriously. “I used to know a kelari...” He dragged on his cigarette and let out a wistful sigh. “He’s gone though...” “Dead?” Leon frowned, and the guy shook his head. “No,” he said. “Just gone... See...” he looked at Leon as if contemplating something for a few seconds. Finally, he sighed. “See, I used to favor this one place...” He paused and set another cloud free. “A naughty place, you know what I mean?” he raised one of his eyebrows, and Leon hemmed at that. “I get the drift,” he nodded and didn’t hesitate this time when the guy handed him a pack after his second cigarette has finally died. “Yeah,” the guy chuckled after he got his lighter back. “There was a kelari in that place... Gorgeous as sin... I have never seen anyone who would look even remotely close to what he looked like... Not just gorgeous,” he nodded after a quick drag. “Flexible as hell, and talented as the devil himself... I mean, things he could do with both of his holes...” He let out another wistful sigh. “I couldn’t get enough of him... Would go to that place four times a week...” He let out short laughter. “Used a credit card once,” he said in a low voice. “Had a bitch of a time trying to explain to my mate what the hell I was doing in a place called Sin Heaven after the bill arrived...” he laughed again, and Leon stared at him without blinking. “Was worth it though,” the guy nodded, and Leon slowly lowered his cigarette-holding hand. “Wait,” he said and slightly narrowed his eyes. “Sin Heaven...?” “Yeah,” the guy glanced at him above his flickering lighter. “Heard of it...?” “I might have...” Leon said slowly. “How many kelari do they have there?” “He was the only one,” the guy sighed and leaned on the back of the chair. “He disappeared about a month ago... Have no clue what happened to him... Pity though,” he sighed yet again. “I keep checking every week; he’s not there anymore... His owner won’t tell me where he is...” he grimaced, and Leon blinked at that. “His owner?” he repeated. “Yeah,” the guy nodded. “He runs the place... Tried to replace him for me, but nobody gets anywhere close...!” “What was his name?” Leon leaned on the cold table with both elbows, and the guy let out an amused, short laughter. “Name?” he repeated. “How in hell would I know his name? And why would I, for that matter? A whore is a whore, no matter how talented it is...” “Right,” Leon muttered, and his head was spinning. The cigarette wasn’t the one to blame this time, he knew that. The odds, he thought, and looked up again. “So, tell me about him...” The guy let out another sigh. “He was amazing,” he said simply, and suddenly, he chuckled. “Was ironic though...” he said in a low voice, and Leon frowned at that. “Ironic?” he repeated, and the guy nodded. “Yeah... All the things he could do...” he paused for a second. “Things he could do...” he continued. “...and the kid was completely asexual... Ironic,” he said again with a small shrug. “Really...?” Leon said very slowly, and received another laughter mixed with a sigh this time. “Yeah... No matter how much you would try to pound his brains out, he wouldn’t get even semi-hard...” “Really...” Leon muttered again, and then he thought of something. “He would fake though, right? I mean, he’d be loud...?” “Sure,” the guy snorted. “He’d be loud...” Leon hemmed and grabbed another cigarette out of the pack without being offered this time. The guy didn’t seem to care. “...if you call this chair loud,” he finished, and Leon almost dropped the lighter that the guy handed to him. “What do you mean?” he asked after managing not to drop anything. “Actually...” The guy looked at his chair rather thoughtfully. “This chair might produce more sounds than he ever did...” He chuckled at Leon’s look, and then his expression suddenly changed. Now it was darker. “Actually...” he said again. “That was the only thing about him that drove me nuts... Sometimes, I could’ve sworn that he was mute, except I knew better...” “What do you mean?” Leon repeated, and received another cloudy sigh in response. “The little bastard would be completely silent every goddamn time,” the guy said in a low voice. “No matter what you did to him – he wouldn’t even moan... I remember one time...” He hemmed and took another quick drag. “I had a hell of a day... Troubles at work, got into a screaming match with my mate, everything felt like it was turning to utter shit... So I went there, thinking that the only thing that would make me feel better would be to fuck that kelari into oblivion...” He paused for a few seconds. “Well,” he continued finally. “When I got there, I wanted to hear him... I mean, I wanted to hear at least something... A scream, a moan, some lousy ‘please’ – anything...! That little bastard wouldn’t make a single sound,” he said slowly, his expression dark again. “That was when I lost it...” he nodded as slowly. “Oh, man, did I lose it...! I beat the hell out of him... I made him cry blood...” Leon frowned at that. “He passed out eventually,” the guy continued meanwhile. “I guess I would’ve killed him if his owner didn’t walk in,” he shrugged and flicked his cigarette away. He slightly leaned forward. “But until he passed out...” he said in a low voice. “...that little shit hadn’t made a single goddamn sound...! Was dead-silent...” He leaned onto the back of his chair again. “I ended up paying a hell of a fee that night,” he said thoughtfully, and suddenly, he grinned. “Was completely worth it though...! Every single florin – was completely worth it...!” “I bet,” Leon said mechanically, his eyes fixed on the lighter in the middle of the table. Stratos had better never hear about this, he thought. Because if he ever does... “You will be dead, buddy,” he nodded to himself, immediately remembering Stratos’ expression that one Sunday night when he said, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you,’ and a sudden, furious slam of the piano lid a few days ago when Leon couldn’t stop himself from pushing too far. Stratos had never been this way; with Gemini though, he’s been completely different. If he ever heard this story, he wouldn’t hesitate even for a second before... “Finding you and sending you to hell,” he thought without hearing what the guy kept saying. He looked at the half-finished, still alive cigarette in his hand, and suddenly, he didn’t want to smoke anymore. He stabbed the cigarette on the edge of the table and flicked it away. “I gotta go,” he said, and the guy slightly stuttered, clearly not expecting being interrupted. “Thanks for the smokes!” “No problem...” the guys nodded, and all of a sudden, his mouth stretched in a sly smile. “Find yourself a kelari,” he said in a low voice. “Don’t fret about the price... Trust me, it’ll be worth it...!” “Right,” Leon nodded and stood up, pushing the chair aside. “Take care...!” The guy was saying something else, but Leon ignored that and went back inside the cafe. His mouth twisted into an irritated line when he saw a young couple sitting at his table. He walked closer and realized that his coffee cup was gone. “Are you blind?” he asked sharply, and the guy jerked and looked up. “Didn’t you see this?” Leon pointed at his jacket that was still hanging on the back of the chair. “Oh...” the guy muttered without getting up. “We figured you forgot it...” “You figured, huh...” Leon said darkly, feeling strangely angry. “Well, next time, don’t just ‘figure,’ buddy, because it might cost you some teeth...! Get out of here!” “Hey...!” the guy started saying heatedly, when the girl next to him looked at Leon’s face, blinked rapidly, and grabbed the guy’s hand, quickly whispering something into his ear. The guy blinked, looked up, blinked again, and then stood up without letting go of the girl’s hand. “Enjoy your coffee...” he muttered darkly, walking away from the table, and Leon snorted at that. “I would,” he nodded. “Except you sent it away, dipshit...!” He watched the guy’s posture tense for a few seconds, and hemmed when he saw the girl’s grasp tighten on her boyfriend’s hand while she hurriedly led him away. He sighed and sat down on the chair that he abandoned fifteen minutes ago, and glanced up when he felt a slight movement. “Here,” the waitress handed him a cup full of fresh coffee. “Sorry about that...” she nodded cautiously, and Leon sighed and took the cup. “Uh huh,” was all he said before turning towards the window again. The waitress stood next to the table for the next several seconds, and then she left without saying anything else. Leon looked outside, noting that the heavyset guy was gone now, and his mind kept replaying the conversation he just had. Suddenly, he had a bright flashback in his mind. A bright flashback of that Sunday night when Stratos went batshit, kicking him out of the house. He frowned when he remembered hearing only small, sharp inhales from the rigid figure in his lap that night; small, sharp inhales, and nothing else, not even a moan. He drank more coffee and frowned deeper when all of a sudden, that flashback made his stomach clench from a weird inner stab that suspiciously resembled guilty shame. He hissed something under his breath and drank more coffee without looking away from the window. He kept staring into the darkening outside when he blinked and straightened up. “Finally,” he muttered and set his cup on the table, briefly glancing at his watch. It was almost fifteen minutes until Stratos was supposed to show up, and Leon felt relieved that the musician managed to come earlier, freeing Leon from the tight, unpleasant trap of those sudden, vicious flashbacks. “Son of a bitch,” he said very softly, watching the familiar car outside to kill its headlights. “I do need to find myself a kelari...” He sighed again and pressed his chin into his palm without taking his elbow off the table, knowing that wasn’t the right solution. In fact, it wasn’t a solution at all.
  6. - XI - He woke up, and before he realized that it was Sunday morning and that he never set up his alarm clock last night, his hand habitually reached for the smooth button. Then he slightly frowned at the absence of expected beeping and opened his eyes. “Sunday, that’s right...” he thought and lazily glanced at the clock. 11:50, just like he expected. He smiled, pulled his hand away from the smooth black button, and suddenly, he remembered about Gemini’s reaction to his previous alarm clock, the one that was hopelessly dead after smashing into the hard floor. The memory stirred something else in his mind; something that was about to clear up; something that was about to click together; something that... “Don’t open that door...” he remembered suddenly, and the vague, stirring feeling immediately disappeared, replaced by a sudden recalling of the weird dream he had last night. Of course, it was a dream, he thought with a slight frown, remembering how vivid and real everything felt. It was a dream; had to be. He shook his head and rolled onto his side, scooting closer to the sleeping figure next to him. He slowly ran his hand down the warm side, towards the slim hip and leaned forward, placing a light kiss on the corner of the soft mouth. He smiled when he saw the long eyelashes tremble ever so slightly and placed another kiss, on the side of the pale neck this time. He delivered a quick, light lick behind the pink earlobe, and smiled wider when there was a soft sigh. He traveled towards the still closed eyes and slowly ran his fingertip along one ideal eyebrow, making the eyelashes to tremble harder. “Wake up...” he whispered and kissed the soft mouth again. “Gem, wake up...” The eyelashes trembled one last time, and finally, they slowly untangled apart, revealing the hazy golden eyes. “Morning...” Gemini muttered sleepily, and Stratos smiled again. “Morning...” he said in a low voice. “Well...” he threw a quick glance at the clock. “Noon, to be precise...” “Noon...?” Gemini repeated with mild disbelief, and then he smiled and slightly arched his back, stretching his arms and lifting his head, pointing the sharply sculpted chin towards the ceiling. “You look like a cat when you stretch...” Stratos muttered, watching him, and Gemini looked at him with a slight, cautious frown. “Is it a bad thing?” he asked carefully, and Stratos kissed his temple. “Absolutely not,” he answered seriously, and let out a smile. “There is nothing bad about you,” he nodded, and loved a sudden rosy glow that immediately splashed underneath the pale skin. He leaned closer and licked behind the pink earlobe again, soliciting another soft sigh. He pressed a little harder against the warm body next to him, feeling the quickening heartbeat, and lightly nibbled on the side of the long neck, half-closing his eyes. Suddenly, there was a very small, sharp inhale, and he felt the shoulders that pressed against his chest to tense for a second or so. They relaxed almost immediately, but Stratos caught that tension right away. “What’s wrong?” he asked softly and pulled away, just so he could look into the half-lidded golden eyes. Gemini let out a quick, apologetic smile and slightly shook his head without looking away. “Nothing,” he said as quickly as he just smiled. “Nothing,” he repeated a bit louder when Stratos kept looking at him with the same questioning frown. “It’s nothing...” he said yet again. “You like it, so...” He closed his eyes and stopped talking, a shadow of a frustrated apology running over his face, as if he wasn’t planning on saying those words. Stratos frowned deeper, slowly rewinding the last two minutes in his head. “Nibbling...” he said suddenly, and Gemini opened his eyes, his expression almost guilty. “You didn’t like it, did you...?” “It’s...” Gemini started saying again in the same quick manner, and Stratos interrupted him. “Don’t say ‘nothing’ again,” he said quietly. “You didn’t like it, did you...?” he repeated his previous question, and Gemini slightly bit his lip for a second or two. Finally, he let out a small sigh. “It’s just...” he hesitated and Stratos slowly stroked his cheek. “Tell me,” he said softly. “Gem, tell me,” he said again when Gemini remained silent. “It’s just...” the blond kelari started saying slowly, and then he let out another sigh. “I don’t really...” he hesitated once again. “Tell me...” Stratos wouldn’t look away. “I don’t really like teeth...” Gemini said quietly, his expression guilty. “But it’s okay...” His quick manner was back. “It’s fine... It doesn’t hurt, and you like it, so I...” “No, I don’t,” Stratos interrupted him seriously, and Gemini frowned at that. “But you...” he started saying slowly, and Stratos interrupted him again. “Anymore,” he said with a slight nod. “I don’t like it anymore...” He shrugged. “I don’t like anything that doesn’t make you feel good...” He looked into the slightly widened golden eyes and grinned. “I get off on your pleasure,” he said with another nod. Gemini let out a hesitant smile, and Stratos leaned closer, placing several light kisses on the side of the neck that he nibbled on several minutes ago. “It’s just, every time I made someone angry, there would always be teeth...” Gemini said suddenly, his voice tight, and Stratos froze for a second. “And sometimes, they wouldn’t be angry, but they would bite anyway... I don’t know why people like it so much, to bite someone until they bleed... Especially on the throat... I don’t know why they...” “Shhh,” Stratos interrupted him, pushing away the sudden memories of Leon sinking his teeth into the pale neck that one Sunday night. “Shhh...” he said again and pressed his lips against the tense mouth, swallowing the upcoming words. “Never again...” he whispered without pulling away and ran his tongue against the slightly trembling lips, tracing them one at a time. He slid down the flushed face, caressing the sharply sculpted chin, and made his way towards the collar bones after tracing down the long neck with his tongue. “You like this, right...?” he asked in a low voice a minute later after he slowly circled the hollow spot between the collar bones with his mouth, alternating the pressure, and Gemini let out a shaky sigh. “Yeah...” he breathed and slightly raised his chin, giving Stratos better access to his neck. “Oh, yeah...” “Good...” Stratos murmured and returned to the silky skin, letting his tongue to caress everything it could reach, and closing his eyes when shallow breaths and quick, quiet moans sent several strong, sweet shivers down his spine. “Perfect...” he thought yet again and smiled to himself when he had a sudden idea. He smoothly slid his face onto the pale chest and flicked his tongue over the left nipple several times, drinking the heartbeat that thumped against his lips as he did that. He flicked his tongue one last time, and then started slowly sliding downwards, making a sudden right turn and running his tongue in a semi-circle on the smooth, warm skin. He was determined to write the word ‘perfect’ on the silk underneath him, and a while later, he let out another smile when Gemini shivered head to toe after he finished bending letter ‘t’ that ended up on the inner side of the slender hip. He slowly traveled upwards and placed the last crossing line across the top of the ‘t,’ and completing the word. His hand brushed against the warm, sleek hardness, and Gemini’s back arched involuntarily. “Oh...!” he breathed and grabbed the dark sheets into his suddenly born fists. Stratos glanced downwards, and suddenly, he was mesmerized. He kept staring at the perfect picture for several minutes, his hand slowly caressing the silk of the skin, and then he finally blinked and slid lower once again without looking away. He saw a transparent newborn bead that formed on the perfect tip, ready to join the others before it and start sliding down in a slow, tear-like manner, and before he even realized what he was doing, he leaned closer and his tongue darted forward, quickly lapping up that transparent bead before it got a chance to escape. “Oh...!” Gemini’s hips jerked upwards in a hectic, uncontrollable motion when he felt the warm touch on his sensitive self, and both of his arms flew up, letting go of the sheets, and freezing in the air for a second before falling back down. Stratos was always positive (he knew) that he would never be able to make himself to bring his mouth to this particular body part, no matter whom it belonged to. He would be slightly revolted by the idea of tasting even himself on someone’s tongue, realizing that he wasn’t fair to his partners, realizing that he was being selfish, but he simply couldn’t help it. He almost panicked after his tongue decided to perform this particular move on its own, really not wanting to recoil away in repulsed horror, knowing that it would hurt Gemini (it would definitely wound his feelings if he was the one on the receiving end), and probably put a hell of a splinter into something that felt so perfect to him up to this point. He almost panicked, but then realized, to his own astonishment that he didn’t want to recoil away in horror; he didn’t want to start gagging and spitting as he thought (knew) he would; he didn’t want to stop. Instead, he wanted more; he craved more. He had no time or patience to figure out what the hell was happening to him, sudden hunger for more making his hands shake, and he leaned even closer, letting his tongue to continue frantically lapping at the beads that kept on coming out of nowhere, the pure taste of them spinning his head as if he were under an influence of some weird drug. He lapped at those beads, half-noting that Gemini’s hips were moving in some bizarre, chaotic rhythm, half-hearing every single ‘Oh...!’ that kept getting louder every time it escaped the perfect mouth, and he tried to satisfy his unusual (to say the least) hunger. A few minutes later, he realized that merely lapping was not going to come anywhere near satisfying him, and without thinking, he wrapped his mouth around the perfect tip, trying to be able to drink away everything that tip had to offer. The tip didn’t feel enough either so he lowered his mouth farther, getting drunk on crescendo-ing ‘Oh...!’s, and feeling like he was about to come undone right there, without even touching himself. He bobbed his head up and down for a while, and then brought up one of his hands, stroking and massaging whatever he couldn’t get into his mouth – he was perfectly aware of his gag reflex, and he knew that it wouldn’t just go away on its own, no matter how hard he would will it. Gemini let out a funny, gurgling sound when he felt that, and Stratos had another idea. He realized that one of his hands was still free, so he decided to put it to good use. He pushed the knees underneath him slightly apart, and without any warning, his finger took over the tight entrance, smoothly sliding inside, and aiming for that one electrical spot. He found it almost immediately, and Gemini bucked upwards, his eyes flying wide open when he felt those quick, determined thrusts. “Oh...!” he said yet again, blindly staring at the opposite wall. “Oh...!” He said louder when another finger joined the sweet execution. “Oh...! Oh...! Oh...!” Stratos threw a quick glance upwards without slowing down and let out a low, satisfied laughter when he saw the expression on the flushed face. He minimized his thrusts and tightly rubbed the sweet bundle of nerves instead, as his laughter continued. That rubbing, all the vibrations that came from the laughing throat, and the entire dual stimulation made Gemini’s arms fly upwards once again. “Oh...! Oh...! Oh...!” Stratos loved a merciless crescendo that was emerging from Gemini’s throat, and he was about to restart his thrusts and change the angle just a little, when crescendo reached its peak and Gemini’s arms flew all the way up, slamming into the pillows and grabbing one of the tall wooden beams that protruded on each side of the bed. “Oh...!” he screamed out, pressing the back of his head into the pillow, and hurriedly brought one of his arms down. “Let... go...” he mewled, grabbing Stratos’ hair with trembling fingers. “Oh...! Stratos, let... Oh...! Go... Oh!!” He managed to push Stratos’ face off him a second before the final ‘Oh...!’ had hopelessly drowned in the wave of sobbing breaths, and his back flew off the dark sheets, twisting into a tight, perfect arch. Watching the furious explosion pushed Stratos to the very edge, and he brought his suddenly free hand downwards and wrapped it around his neglected until now self. He delivered maybe five strokes at the most, and then his head snapped backwards when he was suddenly drowning in a shattering wave that hit him head-on, showing absolutely no mercy. He gasped and shuddered, his mind nothing but brilliant-white empty canvas, when suddenly, there was a bright, shattering sound that came from somewhere on his right. He half-registered the sound without really noticing it, and then he saw small, sharp slivers of glass bouncing off the wall and spilling onto the floor, followed by another bright ‘Thud!’. He saw it with the comer of his eye, and the empty canvas of his mind somehow managed to draw a shaky image of a picture falling off the hook in the wall. Apparently, the bed hit the wall one too many times, and the picture came flying down. He didn’t care about the picture in the slightest, still lost in the shattering wave, and some seconds later, he collapsed on top of the spent body underneath him. He lay still, trying to regain his breathing, listening to the frantic heartbeat that was matching his own, and suddenly, he realized that something was bothering him. It felt like a small, annoying splinter deep in his mind. He frowned without opening his eyes, trying to figure out the reason for that splinter, and then it hit him. The splash of broken glass bouncing off the wall – that’s what bothered him. He suddenly thought that the glass wasn’t supposed to break until it hit the floor, and yet, it burst into pieces before the picture went down. He slowly opened his eyes and glanced at the wall without lifting his head. Then he blinked several times, as if trying to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. Everything remained the same, and he finally raised his head without taking his eyes off the picture that was safely hanging on the hook in the wall, its frame intact, not a single crack on the transparency of the glass. “What the...” he muttered, wondering whether his orgasm made him to hallucinate, and then he looked on the floor and blinked again, as rapidly as before. “Mmm...?” Gemini asked weakly when he heard Stratos’ puzzled, slow voice, and opened his eyes when he received no reply. “What is it...?” he asked, a small, worried frown distorting the glow that enveloped his entire body. Stratos remained silent, staring at the shattered glass of the fallen picture that spread all over the carpet. He was about to say, ‘What the...’ again when he looked at the opposite wall and noticed an unusual emptiness between two paintings. He looked at that emptiness for several dumbfounded seconds, and suddenly, the same stirring, vague feeling that he had right after he woke up, splashed inside him stronger than it did before. “Stratos, what’s wrong?” Badly hidden alarm in Gemini’s voice made him blink without looking away from the empty spot on the wall, and all of a sudden, it hit him. All the pieces suddenly connected, clicking into place, and making startling, perfect sense. “Holy shit...” he said softly and looked at Gemini, whose eyes were filling up with uncertain, alarmed fear at his sudden, stiff silence. “Holy shit...” He thought about all the events that he shrugged off into the ‘it’s-just-an-accident’ pile. The candle holder that flew off the dresser the first night Gemini spent in Stratos’ house. The liquor bottle that shattered on the floor that hateful Sunday night. The alarm clock that decided to jump off the nightstand on their first morning after. The ice-cream cake that suddenly tumbled off the plate into Katherine’s lap last night... And now the picture that apparently flew across the room, smashing into the opposite wall. He looked into the worried golden eyes without really seeing them, the clear-by-now puzzle revealing the common denominator in every single one of those events. The candle holder flew off the nightstand right after Stratos walked into the room, startling an already freaked out Gemini. The liquor bottle fell off the shelf right after Leon unexpectedly sank his teeth into the pale neck so deeply that it drew blood on the first bite. The alarm clock jumped off the nightstand right after Gemini jerked next to him without waking up, anxious because of his sudden dream. The ice-cream cake tumbled off the plate right after Katherine demonstrated her unusual ‘cleaning’ technique, kicking Gemini’s jealousy up a few furious levels. And the picture...? Well, it flew off the wall right when Gemini was having a hell of an intense orgasm. “You are telekinetic...” Stratos muttered dumbfoundedly, and the golden eyes blinked at that several times, reflecting not just alarmed fear now, but also deepening confusion. Stratos thought about something and slightly frowned without looking away from a very weird mix of emotions that was splashing in the golden lakes. “Why didn’t you tell me...?” he asked quietly, feeling strangely betrayed after realizing that Gemini has been hiding something from him. “Gem, why didn’t you tell me...?” “Tell you about what?” Gemini said slowly with genuine puzzlement. “About your ability,” Stratos said in the same quiet voice, and the golden eyes became almost perfectly round. Gemini slowly pulled himself from underneath Stratos’ body and sat up without looking away from the blue eyes that were clouded by a bitter shade right now. “Ability...?” he repeated very slowly. “Stratos, I don’t have any abilities... Never had,” he added a few seconds later, and Stratos frowned deeper. “Wait...” he muttered and slightly narrowed his eyes. “Wait...” He thought more. “You don’t even know, do you?” he asked incredulously a minute later, and Gemini’s expression became as weird as the cocktail of emotions in his eyes. “Holy shit...” Stratos said again very softly. Both of them were stunned-silent for a almost a minute, and then Gemini slightly shook his head and frowned, never looking away from Stratos’ face. “I have no idea why you would think that...” he said as slowly as before. “I have never had any abilities... I...” he slightly stuttered. “I wished I had at least something, but it never happened... A long time ago, I was really hoping that something would surface, since I thought that only people with abilities had really fast healing, but turns out, it’s just a kelari thing, so...” “Wait,” Stratos interrupted him quickly. “Fast healing...?” Gemini gave him an uncertain nod without saying anything. “How fast?” Stratos asked in the same quick manner, and Gemini shrugged. “Fast...” he said as slowly as before. “I mean, faster than others...” “If you would, let’s say, slice your finger open...” Stratos leaned closer to him. “...how fast would it heal?” Gemini thought for a second. “In an hour or so...” he said hesitantly. “Uh huh,” Stratos nodded. “What about broken bones? Ever broke your arm?” Gemini’s expression slightly darkened, and Stratos immediately knew the answer to his question. He sat up as well and slowly ran his fingers through the soft golden hair, making Gemini’s shoulders to relax somewhat. “How fast did it heal?” he asked quietly without taking his fingers out of the silky trap. “Two days,” Gemini replied in a small voice, and Stratos nodded again. “Uh huh,” he said once more, and then frowned, thinking about something else. “You thought it was a kelari thing?” he finally asked with the same frown, and Gemini nodded. “Why?” “My uncle told me,” Gemini said quietly, and Stratos closed his eyes for a few seconds. “Gem...” he said after he opened them. “I don’t know much about kelari, but your fast healing is not a racial trait... Gemini,” he said just a bit louder when Gemini tried saying something. “You are telekinetic,” Stratos finished with a firm nod, feeling lightheaded from all the revelations and the sweet song that his body was still singing. “So it just happened then?” Gemini asked in a suddenly tight voice, and Stratos gave him a questioning glance. “It just surfaced...? A little while ago?” “No,” Stratos shook his head. “You had to have it ever since you were born. Things like that don’t just surface out of nowhere...” “So...” Gemini said again, his eyes hiding behind his eyelashes, his voice as tight as before. “That means I’ve had it all these years...? The entire time...? I could move things around with mere thought this entire time?” “Yeah,” Stratos nodded slowly, not quite understanding the reason for dry tightness. Gemini closed his eyes, and his mouth twisted into a weird, almost scary line. “That means I could’ve done something from the very beginning...” he said quietly. “I could’ve done something to stop all that from...” He stopped talking and bit his lip without opening his eyes. “But I have never even tried...” he finished in a quieter manner a minute later, and opened his eyes. “I’ve never even tried...! I just took it without...” “Shhh,” Stratos said quickly and cupped the flushed face into his palms without looking away from the golden eyes that were clouded with unborn frustrated tears right now. “Shhh...! You didn’t know... You never noticed things moving around you when you were startled or upset because you would always think it was nothing but an accident...! You didn’t know...” “Why?” Gemini asked a little louder, his tight frown trapping all the tears behind his eyelids. “Why didn’t I know? I mean...” He paused for a second. “I mean, I always thought that if you had some ability... Any ability... If you had it, I always thought that you would know exactly what to do with it...! You would know how it works...! You would be fully aware that you bloody had it!” Stratos blinked at the sudden loudness of the last sentence, and then he frowned. Why didn’t he know? He was right – if you had an ability to do anything, even if it was something as trivial as changing words’ fonts on a piece of paper without touching it (he knew someone who could do that and who thought it was completely useless. Stratos kind of agreed with that), you would be fully aware of your own capabilities... And if you happened to possess something like telekinesis, you had to be aware of that! Telekinesis is not a thing that could be easily overlooked... He frowned deeper. Come to think of that, why would Gemini’s ability only show itself whenever he experienced strong emotions? If he had it ever since he was born (and Stratos was sure of that), then it wouldn’t be hiding behind the emotional fence... He slightly bit his lip, suddenly remembering something that he once discussed with Katherine, since he was curious about the subject, and Katherine was one of those rare people who would know some very useful things about pretty much everything without flaunting it every chance they got. He looked at Gemini again. It’s almost as if he was... “...Locked...” he muttered thoughtfully, and Gemini’s lips tightened at that. “What?” he asked very quietly, and Stratos slowly nodded, mostly to himself, and let out a quick sigh, never taking his hand away from the silky hair. “This is weird,” he said slowly as if looking for the right word. “Abilities don’t work like that... You are right, you should have been aware of your own capabilities, and the fact that you had no idea that you even had it...” He paused for a second. “It’s bizarre...” he continued with a slight shrug. “It doesn’t work like that,” he said again. “Also, it never develops just partially without reaching the full potential; it never works on subconscious level... If you get it, you get the full thing, not just a portion of it...!” He stopped talking again and looked into the dark by now golden eyes. “When did your uncle tell you that your fast healing was a kelari thing?” he asked a few seconds later, and Gemini blinked. “I was eight...” he said slowly. “My mom died a few months before that, and I wouldn’t believe it... I kept thinking that she would come back one of those days... Then I remembered that she would always run to me whenever I was hurt, so I figured that if I hurt myself badly enough, she would finally come back...” He sighed and leaned on the wall with his bare shoulder. “So I jumped off a tree,” he nodded thoughtfully. “Broke my ankle, tore a hole in my side...” He glanced at Stratos. “I didn’t see there was a rock under all the leaves,” he explained. “So when I jumped, I landed right on top of it... That rock was really sharp...” He paused again. “Anyway,” he continued after a second with a small sigh. “She never came back, of course, and I thought that I would be in bed for the rest of the summer, but then I was completely fine three days later... Not even a scar... I couldn’t figure it out, and that was when he told me that being a kelari had some perks... He said that was the only reason that I healed so fast, and I wouldn’t ask him again...” He looked at Stratos. “I wouldn’t ask him about things too often,” he nodded. “He had a very short temper... Still does,” he added thoughtfully, and Stratos moved closer to him, pushing his arm between the bare shoulder and the wall and lightly pressing his fingers into the side of the long neck, looking for the steady pulse. “He lied,” Stratos said quietly, and Gemini looked at him silently, his expression the same as several seconds ago. “Yeah, you figured that...” Stratos hemmed in a somewhat embarrassed manner. “Anyway, do you remember being able to do things when you were a kid? Like, moving things or making something fly...?” “No,” Gemini shook his head. Stratos bit his lip and remained silent for a few seconds. “It sounds like...” he finally said very slowly. “...feels like...” he added in a second. “It feels like you were Locked... Not completely,” he said in a quicker manner, seeing the look in the golden eyes. “If you were Locked completely, you wouldn’t be able to do anything. You probably have one Lock on you, since everything you demonstrated so far...” He glanced at the broken glass on the floor. “Well, you wouldn’t be able to do anything like this with two Locks,” he nodded. “I have never been Locked myself, thank God for that, but...” “Wait...” Gemini interrupted him softly. “You have an ability...?” “Yeah,” Stratos nodded. “A music thing,” he said somewhat impatiently when he saw a silent question hiding behind the long eyelashes. “I can explain it later... Anyway, from what I’ve heard, it seems that two Locks even though they are possible to remove, they don’t let a lot of power to get through... They don’t block it completely, but whatever manages to get through is very insignificant... You would probably be able to make a picture tremble on the wall, but you would never be able to make it fly across the room,” he nodded. “So I am pretty sure you only have one Lock on you... Wonder when they put it on you...” he muttered with a small frown. “You had to be little, since you don’t remember having the power in the first place... Why the hell would they do that...?” He frowned deeper. “I can think of a reason...” Gemini muttered and looked away for a few second, his tight frown back on his forehead. “My mom knew...” he said suddenly a minute later, and Stratos blinked at that. “She had to,” Gemini continued in the same quiet voice. “She died when I was eight and I remember things from that time... I couldn’t do anything... That means they Locked me before that, and she knew... She knew...” he repeated in a whisper, and Stratos pulled him closer. “Maybe that’s why you are not wearing all three Locks,” he said quietly, and Gemini gave him a dark look. Stratos shrugged. “Maybe she didn’t have a choice... But she wanted you to be able to take it off when you could, and she managed to do something so you weren’t Locked completely...” “Yeah, maybe...” Gemini muttered and straightened up. “I am going to take a shower,” he said, and Stratos sighed and let go of his shoulders. “I’ll make coffee,” he said and placed a quick kiss on the side of the rigid neck. “Yeah...” Gemini said again and got off the bed. ...He stood still under running water, letting his wet hair to cling to his neck, his eyes closed, arms hanging by his sides. His head was spinning from this new knowledge; images and thoughts flying through his mind, creating hurried chaos, making him frown. Suddenly, he opened his eyes and stared at the bar of soap in front of him. “Move,” he thought tightly. “Move...!” He bit his lip when the soap remained its old slippery, lifeless self, and he concentrated harder. “Move...” he whispered without looking away, without blinking. “Move, goddamn you...! Fall...!” He let out a frustrated sigh when nothing changed and lifted his face towards the warm streaming water, letting it to wash off unborn tears. “Forget it,” he thought gloomily and shook his head, making his wet hair to slip onto his back. “Just forget it...” He started running his fingers through his hair without opening his eyes, chaos of images and thoughts making his ears ring, and he never noticed that a shampoo bottle behind him suddenly lost half of its contents, spitting them all over the wall. **** Stratos pulled on his pants, listening to the sounds of running water in the shower, and quickly scanned the floor with his eyes, looking for his shirt. He shrugged when he couldn’t find it and walked towards the door, figuring that he didn’t really need his shirt right now. He walked towards the stairs and his mind was racing. “Holy hell...” he thought and absent-mindedly ran his fingers along the railing of the staircase when he started walking down the steps. “Holy hell... He is like some weird surprise box... You open it, and there is another box in there, and another inside that one, and another inside that one as well... How many boxes are there...? Bloody hell...” He shook his head, and suddenly, came to a stumbled, stuttered stop, staring at the carpeted steps without blinking. “Bloody hell...!” he said out loud a minute later. “Bloody...” There it was, on the last step, just lying there in a hurried heap. There it was – his shirt. It was exactly in the same spot where he left it last night in his disturbingly vivid dream. He slowly walked closer, as if afraid that the shirt would suddenly come to life and attack him. He stood still for almost a minute without looking away from the dark material, and then blinked and raised his head. “No way...” he muttered and started walking again, faster this time. “No way... No way...” He crossed the living room, heading towards the closed door. “No way... No way in hell... No...” He turned the doorknob and pushed the door open. Then he stopped breathing for a second or two, staring at the broken glass that splattered all over the floor. He blinked when a sudden gust of wind slapped his face, and looked at the broken window without seeing it, ignoring the trembling from the wind curtains. “Don’t open that door,” he heard in his head, and closed his eyes. It was real...? How could it be real? What happened last night? What the hell was going on? “Don’t open that door...” He opened his eyes and slowly backed out of the cold room, never looking away from the shattered glass, never shifting his gaze until he closed the door. He took a deep breath, stood still for a minute or so, and then headed towards the kitchen – he needed his coffee badly.
  7. - X - Stratos opened the door in one quick, hurried motion (“He is hurting...”) and walked inside, immediately seeing Gemini’s rigid figure sitting on the bed with his knees pulled up all the way to his chest, his head buried in his bent elbows, golden hair spread around in a messy wave. He jerked harshly the minute he heard the door opening, and immediately straightened up, his eyes two frozen, dark-golden lakes. “Stratos...” he muttered when he saw the intense look of bright-blue eyes underneath the dark bangs. Stratos walked closer to the bed without saying anything, his expression serious and calm. He stopped when his knee almost hit the mattress and remained silent for a few seconds. Gemini hasn’t said anything either, staring at him with the same unblinking darkness. Finally, Stratos let out a sigh. “Well,” he said calmly. “Katherine left...” Gemini blinked at that, and Stratos almost laughed out loud when he saw a flash of relieved joy shoot through his eyes, immediately chasing away all the darkness and melting the ice in the golden lakes. He managed to keep the same serious expression, waiting for a reply. “Oh...” was all Gemini said and shifted his gaze away, clearly doing his best not to let out a trembling smile. Stratos sighed again. “You could at least try and fake some regret,” he said with mild reproach, and Gemini looked at him. “Oh...” he said again and blinked. “I am sorry...” he said quickly a second later, and Stratos snorted at that and rolled his eyes. “Yeah, right...” he said in a low voice, and let out another sigh. “Well... The evening didn’t go as planned...” he said slowly without looking away from the glowing face. “...and now I am excited with nobody to take care of that,” he finished, and the golden eyes clouded with frowned confusion. “Fix it,” he said softly without a smile, and Gemini blinked again, his frown deepening somewhat. He looked into the bright-blue eyes for a second or so, then blinked once again, slowly shifted his gaze downwards, and suddenly, his frown started trading places with a slow smile. He scooted closer to the edge of the bed, changing his position so he was now facing the standing-still figure, and reached for the belt buckle that ended up in front of his face. He shot a quick glance upwards and his fingers smoothly undid the belt buckle without pausing on anything, and moved towards the button and the zipper. “Mmm...” he said softly a minute later when the button and the zipper hopelessly lost the battle against his fingers, and Stratos briefly closed his eyes when he felt warm breath envelop him in a soft cloak. “You are excited...” “Yeah...” Stratos muttered and opened his eyes. He caught another quick golden glance and nodded. “You have that effect on me,” he said quietly. Gemini blinked at that. He almost said, “I thought it was Katherine who turned you on,” but at the last second, he let out another small smile and leaned forward instead. Stratos closed his eyes again when he felt warm silk of the tongue run along his slightly throbbing self very slowly, pausing for a fraction of a second in just the right spot, soliciting a soft, long ‘Aahh...!’ from his throat. His hand blindly moved forward, looking for the warmth of the soft hair, and he found it almost immediately, sinking his fingers in silky strands and caressing them gently and slowly. He let out another long ‘Aahh...!’ when he felt the insistent tongue flick lightly over the very top, teasing that sweet string on the underside, which sent shivers down his spine. He slightly tightened his gentle grasp on the warm hair and threw his head back when all the flicking suddenly became less teasing and a lot more serious, running tightly around his entire top, pausing for a second in the perfect middle just so it could deliver several slow, probing thrusts that made Stratos’ hips jerk involuntarily without him even being aware of it. He continued caressing the silk of the golden hair, never making any attempts to push, to change the rhythm or to demand more. His ‘Aahh...!’s were becoming louder every time one of them would slide out of his throat, making his mouth to open helplessly-wider. His head flew back up when suddenly, his entire length was engulfed by delicious smooth heat that delivered just enough pressure and slow movement to make his eyes fly wide open and his hips jerk forward harder than they did several minutes ago. “Aahh...!” he said again, quicker and louder this time, and his other hand joined its opposite twin in the golden mess underneath his trembling fingers. The rhythm started becoming steady and more insistent, never increasing the tempo, keeping the same mind-blowing slow pace. Stratos mumbled something unintelligible and his back arched when the rhythm was suddenly diluted with magic of the tongue that was dancing everywhere at once, it felt, reaching every single sweet spot, wrapping itself around him in shuddering, silky waves. This was unreal, he thought very hazily, unaware of the fact that his hips started rocking slowly, sliding deeper into the willing throat that adjusted to his rocking easily, without changing the pace. This was unreal... He had no idea that a tongue could do something like this... Of course, he knew that a tongue was capable of many sweet things, but nothing like this. This was... “...perfect...” he whispered without looking away from the slowly bobbing head that kept drowning his fingers in the golden waterfall of long hair, and the sight of it kicked his exhilaration to a higher level, making his hips to pick up the tempo ever so slightly. He received a quick golden glance and let out a protesting moan when the heat around him suddenly disappeared. His protests died off almost immediately, however, when all that warm silk traveled farther down, paying attention to every single hidden inch of him that was neglected up until now. He let out another moan, far from protesting this time, when he felt long fingers wrap around his briefly abandoned length, doing something that made his eyes roll backwards for several seconds, the matching rhythm of hand and tongue making him shudder. His hips rocked harder with him finally half-noticing that, and several minutes later, he let out a loud, somewhat startled moan when hand and tongue suddenly switched places, obediently following his quickening rhythm, moving in perfect tandem with his impatient hunger. He forced himself to slow down just a little, giving up on trying stopping his hips from moving (he tried and failed at that miserably), wanting to make this to last longer, keeping that electric rush that shot through him at bay for a while, and was surprised when the mouth around him wouldn’t take any of that, never slowing down, kicking his pleasure up a few feverish levels. The rhythm kept its steady, quickening beat, and suddenly, it settled on the new tempo, cutting off every single hint of accelerando that seemed inevitable. Stratos had no idea how, but he was pushed farther from the cutting edge, even though the electric rush kept zooming through him, making his head spin; but somehow, he was granted that desperate ‘more...!’ that he craved so much. He was in no position or shape to ask any questions right now, audible or silent, and he just accepted it with feverish gratitude, never looking away from the sight that kept electricity to strengthen its jolts. He rocked his hips in this new tempo for a while, half-realizing that he was delivering harder thrusts now, and unable to fix that. Then, some sweet, hazy eternity later, when he felt like he couldn’t possibly handle this any longer, the willing mouth around him did something else, some new trick that made him throw his head backwards once again while letting out a short scream. “Oh, hell...” he panted when another spike of electric rush suddenly transformed into a tightening, pulsating wave of warmth that started slowly spreading upwards, making his fingers to lock harder on the silky strands. “Oh, hell...!” he said again, louder this time when the rhythm smoothly rolled into anticipated, unyielding accelerando that promised absolutely no mercy. “Gemini...!” He swallowed another quick golden glance, and his hips stopped fighting the quickening tempo, obediently following it and begging for more, craving the exploding coda. “Gemini...” he muttered again, his body rushing to the final release, making him lightheaded. “Gemini... Ohh, God, Gemini...” Merciless heat splashed his vision with a blinding curtain of brilliant whiteness and he half-heard himself mewling: “Oh, hell, so close...!” ‘Close’ became ‘oh-shit-I’m-coming...!’ in a matter of seconds, and he yanked on the silky hair, pulling the magical mouth off him with one hurried pull right before his entire core shuddered with sweet agony, making him explode violently while screaming out: “Oh, God, Gem, yes...!” He blindly ran his palm along his sobbing length, his trembling strokes sharpening his peak, making him to groan: “Oh, Gem, yes...!” once again, seeing, thinking, and caring about nothing right now; nothing but bursting pleasure that threatened to take away his breath for good. He called out the strange (“perfect”) name several more times while riding out this blinding wave longer than he usually did. Finally, he was able to breathe without gasping, and managed to take a deep sigh. He half-registered quick long fingers that fixed his zipper, button, and belt buckle, putting everything in order, and his knees trembled. He threw his arm sideways and pressed his hand into the wall, leaning on it while trying to regain his balance. “Holy shit...” he muttered after a minute and focused his gaze on the golden eyes that kept looking at him. “Gemini, you are...” He paused for a second. “...perfect,” he finished in the same panting manner, and loved the quick smile that he received as a result. “You didn’t have to pull me off...” Gemini murmured without looking away. He made a small shrug when Stratos wouldn’t say anything, his breath slowly returning back to normal. “With you, I don’t mind...” He let out another smile, and Stratos was finally able to let go of the wall. “You are in the wrong bed...” he muttered and grabbed the slender arms, pulling the body on the bed upwards, getting it closer to himself, and half-closing his eyes at the sweet scent of soft hair. Gemini slowly wrapped his arms around the neck in front of him, and Stratos opened his eyes, his strangely intense gaze fixed on that magical mouth. He looked at it for almost a minute without a smile, and then leaned closer just a little. Gemini watched him with the identical serious expression, and when Stratos’ face got closer to his own, he slowly parted his lips without moving or saying anything. Stratos paused once again when he was just an inch away from the perfect mouth, and then his tongue darted forward, hesitantly tracing slightly open lips. He swallowed a quick breath, and closed his eyes, burying fingers of his left hand deeper into the golden hair, and letting his tongue to dive into the warmth of the soft mouth. He felt the body in his arms to slightly relax, draping itself around him, and straightened up when he felt the tight circle of long legs locking around his waist. He started walking slowly, never letting go of the perfect mouth, and then stopped for a little bit. “Mmm...” he pulled away just enough to be able to say the words. “I don’t taste as bad as I thought...” Gemini blinked at that. “No, you don’t,” he replied softly. “There is nothing bad about you...” he added in a quieter manner, and Stratos kissed him again, tasting himself on the silky tongue. “Mmm...” Now it was Gemini’s turn to slightly pull away. “You didn’t know?” he asked with a small, questioning frown, and Stratos shook his head. “No,” he said softly. “Had never tasted myself or anyone else... Couldn’t stand the very thought... With you though...” he smiled. “...I don’t mind,” he finished in a whisper and locked their lips together again. He resumed his slow walking, managing to open the door, heading to his own bedroom, when suddenly, he heard Katherine’s voice in his head. “I guess he wasn’t the only one who developed feelings...” His pace slightly stuttered and he stopped for a few seconds again. Was she right? He frowned thoughtfully without looking away from the golden eyes, and suddenly, nothing mattered anymore. “Yes...” he whispered, answering his silent question and smiled, instead of explaining the meaning behind his whisper when he saw slight confusion tremble behind the long eyelashes. “Yes...” he said again, and this time, he didn’t interrupt his kiss until he finally got to his bedroom and habitually kicked the door closed. **** Stratos was positive that he would sleep like a rock that night, staying in bed probably until noon the following day, since they didn’t fall asleep until almost two in the morning, so he was unpleasantly surprised when he suddenly opened his eyes, feeling irritatingly-awake while blinking remnants of sleep out of his eyelashes in the darkness of the room. He slightly turned his head, trying to look at the glowing green display of the clock, and let out a low hiss when he saw what time it was. “Three-thirty...?” he thought with dark annoyance. “Are you kidding me?” He closed his eyes and tried going back to sleep, listening to Gemini’s soft breath and inhaling the calming sweet scent of hair that spilled on the pillow next to his head. After half an hour or so, he let out a very soft, grumbling profanity, realizing that he would not be able to fall asleep again, and carefully got out of bed, making sure he didn’t wake up Gemini. He picked up his clothes from the floor, his eyes adjusted to the darkness by now, and quietly left the room, figuring that he would get dressed somewhere else without worrying about creating an accidental noise. He went downstairs after carefully shutting the door behind him, and started getting dressed, trying to figure out the reason for his sudden awakening. He was pulling on his pants, when all of a sudden, a strong desire hit him so hard that he felt thirsty. A strong desire to feel smooth keys of a grand piano under his fingers; a strong desire to create music out of nothing; a strong desire to hear. He zipped up his pants, leaving the shirt on the carpet next to the stairs, and quickly went into one of the farther rooms of the house, his ‘emergency practice room’ as he called it – he rarely worked at home; he found it too distracting. While he walked, he had a brief thought of making a cup of coffee, but that thought disappeared almost immediately – the desire to get his hands on the cool keys of the instrument was too strong, and he simply couldn’t afford wasting any time, even if it would be for making coffee. He walked into the room, turned on the lights, and shut the door, his fingertips itching with anticipation of creating. He sat down on the piano bench and impatiently lifted the lid. Before finally touching the tantalizing keys, he threw a quick glance above his bare shoulder, making sure that he shut the door completely – he really didn’t want to wake up Gemini. The door seemed to be just fine, and he slightly nodded to himself and switched his attention to the instrument that he was suddenly craving. He raised his hands, lightly touched the immaculate keys, and froze for a second, thinking. Finally, he blinked and his fingers sank into the anticipated low sounds of the piano. He tried keeping down the soft pedal at first, but ten minutes later, he let go of it, feeling like he couldn’t restrain the sound any longer. He set his hands free, letting them wonder all over the keyboard, giving into that familiar, rushing sensation of creating, half-closing his eyes when a series of chords made him shiver with dark sweetness. He played the music of nothing for about half an hour when he opened his eyes, and then he frowned. He was in G-minor again, he realized without stopping his fingers, producing more runs and immaculate chords. He was in G-minor again, and he had no idea how and when it happened. The same haunting, ‘disturbingly beautiful’ melody was wrapping itself around him, dancing in his fingers, tuning his heartbeat to its own rhythm and sounds. He let it to take over, feeling strangely relieved when he did, and realized that he just passed the series of chords where Leon interrupted him the day when the melody sneaked up on him for the first time. Now there were no interruptions, and the melody continued weaving itself into expected shimmery lines without any effort from him – the music felt literally alive; it felt as if it was creating him, and not vice versa. He kept following the labyrinth of dark sounds, and suddenly, he had a very bright image of golden eyes flash in his mind, immediately bringing back the memories of their first time together; the time when he felt complete, the time when he finally knew how the melody would unravel. “Gemini...” he said without making a single sound, blindly staring at his fingers that kept flying across the keyboard, and seeing nothing but golden eyes and shiny hair. The melody grew stronger, an expected crescendo making him hold his breath for a few seconds; an anticipated fermata letting him to inhale air again; a slight accelerando making his heartbeat to copy the same dark rhythm that kept emerging from underneath his fingers. He felt almost high when he realized that he would be able to bring this strange, beautiful haunting to the very end tonight; that he would be able to sink into the final chords; that he would be able to... “Stop...!” He jerked, almost messed up one of the chords, and slowed down without killing the melody when he turned his head, rapidly blinking at the unexpected intrusion. Then he frowned. “Gemini...?” he said slowly, and the melody snarled possessively, angry at the fact that something was about to take over, forcing him to pick up the tempo again. “Stop...!” This demand was a lot louder than the one before, and the melody suddenly started losing its strange hold on Stratos, waking him up from his bizarre trance, deepening his frown. “Gemini...” he said again without looking away from the rigid figure in the doorway. The golden eyes stared at the keyboard without blinking, completely empty and emotion-free, and suddenly, Stratos realized that the blond kelari was asleep. “Gem...” he was about to say, ‘you are sleepwalking,’ when the golden eyes slightly widened, filling up with an unexpected, startling mix of anger and fright when Stratos’ fingers wouldn’t stop caressing the warm keys of the instrument, unwilling to stop the melody completely, and Gemini’s hands rolled into sudden fists. “Stop!” he screamed, and Stratos jumped when the window in the room flew wide open, bursting with broken glass and finally killing the last shreds of the stubborn melody. Stratos shivered from a sudden, furious gust of the wind that immediately took advantage of the broken window, showering him with tiny bits of broken glass and frozen snow. He instinctively closed his eyes for a second, and then shook his head and stood up, wondering whether he was asleep right now and not Gemini – the entire scene was bizarre, to say the least. He quickly walked towards the rigid figure in the doorway, shuddering from another gust of the wind, and when he got close enough to see the golden eyes clearly, he stopped frozen in his tracks. “Holy shit...” he muttered very softly without looking away. The eyes kept staring at the open lid of the abandoned instrument without seeing it, and this time, they were pure gold – there was nothing else. It looked like all that gold was threatening to spill through the frozen eyelashes, leaving behind nothing but emptiness. Stratos stared into the unblinking eyes that didn’t have pupils or whites, and he felt a shiver run down his spine, and the wind wasn’t the one to blame for that. “Gem...” he called very carefully, debating with himself whether it was a smart idea to touch the rigid shoulder right now. “Gem...” Suddenly, the gold in the empty eyes shifted with some strange shady wave, and the eyelashes slightly trembled, sending another shiver down Stratos’ spine. “Don’t open that door,” Gemini said in a lifeless voice, and then he finally blinked several times, and Stratos stopped breathing for a second or two when he saw two precise black pupils suddenly emerging from the golden depths, and the eyes blinking back to normal, shrinking the golden flood down to its original size. Gemini slowly looked around, clearly awake now, and stopped his gaze on Stratos’ stunned face. “What... Ohh...” was all he said before his eyes rolled backwards and he dropped on the floor, hitting his head on the bottom of the open door. That immediately brought Stratos back to life, and he fell onto his knees, reaching for the side of the pale neck with a trembling hand. He let out a shaky breath when he felt slow but steady pulse underneath his fingertips, and moved his hand onto the unmoving shoulder. “Gem...” he called and slightly shook the unconscious figure on the floor. Gemini let out a small sigh without opening his eyes, and Stratos realized that he was asleep again. He took another breath and stood up, carefully lifting the limp body off the floor and pressing his face into the soft hair when the sleeping (“lifeless”) head rolled onto his shoulder. He carried the sleeping perfection upstairs, back to the bedroom after shutting the door behind him and figuring that he would deal with the broken window in the morning. “You are freezing,” he muttered and held the unconscious body tighter when he felt how cold it was – when Gemini came downstairs in his bizarre, scary trance, he was wearing nothing but an empty expression in his eyes, and the broken window made the room temperature drop in less than two minutes. Stratos sighed and walked faster. He made it to the bedroom, kicked the door shut, and slowly walked to the bed, trying not to bump into anything in the dark. He was successful, and a minute later, he lowered Gemini onto the bed and slid next to him, covering both of them with the thick blanket and pressing himself tighter into the cold body. He grimaced a few seconds later when he realized that he forgot to take off his pants, let out another sigh, and sat up, quickly working his button and the zipper – he hated having anything on him when he slept. He threw the quickly surrendered pants on the floor, and suddenly, Gemini shifted slightly next to him and half-opened his eyes. Stratos stopped moving for a second, wondering if the weird trance was about to emerge again. “Stratos, are you awake...?” the blond kelari muttered in a sleepy voice, and Stratos’ shoulders relaxed. The trance was gone for good, he thought, and slid back onto the pillows. “Shhh,” he said and pulled the warming up body closer to him once again. “Go back to sleep...” Gemini let out a deep sigh and wrapped one arm around Stratos’ waist, fitting his head into the crook of the other man’s neck. “Okay...” he muttered in the same sleepy manner and closed his eyes. Stratos buried his face in the soft hair and wrapped his own arm around the warm by now shoulders, knowing that there was no way in hell he would be able to fall asleep now, and wondering what in the world happened fifteen minutes ago, when all of a sudden, his eyes closed and he fell through growing velvet of heavy sleep, as if someone drugged him. “What the...” was the last thought on his mind before he lost his grip on reality, never taking his face away from the soft, sweet-smelling hair.
  8. Katya Dee

    Chapter 9

    Sometimes he is extremely intuitive, but sometimes he is so thick that even I want to kick him.
  9. - IX - ...“Oh, come on...!” Katherine slightly narrowed her eyes against the startlingly bright December sun and flicked away her cigarette, completely ignoring the ashtray that was sitting in front of her. Stratos just sighed at that. “How old is he?” She leaned on the back of her chair and crossed her legs. “Twenty-two,” Stratos nodded, absent-mindedly playing with her lighter. “Uh huh,” she said without looking away from his face. “And he had never had an orgasm before? With all his...” She hesitated for a brief second. “...experience...” She finally continued. “With all his...” There was that brief pause again. “...practice... He had never climaxed? Never...?” “That’s right,” Stratos replied calmly, his thumb flicking the lighter off and on, making the bright yellow flame dance in the wind. “Oh, Stratos...” Katherine sighed and took away her lighter after pulling another skinny cigarette out of her pack. “I am sorry, but I smell bullshit...” She put the lighter back on the table and threw one of her legs on top of another, slightly swaying her foot. “See...” She blew a cloud of blue smoke out of her nostrils. “If he was a girl, then I would probably buy it... Some females go through their entire life without having any idea what sex is really all about... But a guy...?” She shook her head. “No way in hell...!” “He wasn’t lying,” Stratos said in the same calm manner, picking up the lighter once more. “He was telling the truth.” She gave him a long, questionable look, and he shrugged without looking away. “I just know,” he said simply, and she let out another sigh. “I am not saying he was lying...” she said slowly, her foot swaying back and forth. “It’s just...” She paused for a thoughtful second. “It’s just...” she finally continued. “...he was probably saying something like... Well...” She shrugged and flicked some ashes off the tip of her cigarette. “He was probably trying to compliment you and it didn’t come out quite right... Something like, ‘You are the best I’ve ever had’ or...” She narrowed her eyes. “Something like, ‘I never came so hard with anyone in my entire life’, or...” “I get it,” Stratos interrupted her, his expression undisturbed. “And no, that wasn’t it. He wasn’t trying to compliment me and he wasn’t lying. He meant it.” She watched him for a few seconds, her eyes thoughtful, and then she sighed once again. “Stratos,” she said slowly and flicked her half-smoked cigarette away, making Stratos roll his eyes. “There is an ashtray right in front of you, you know that, right?” he asked in a low voice, and she leaned forward, pressing both of her elbows into the dark-brown tabletop. “Stratos...” she said again, her expression suddenly serious. “You are so...” “I don’t care,” he shook his head and she gave him a silent question. “I don’t care if you think that I am gullible,” he continued, his calmness never changing. “Hell, you are probably right...!” He shrugged and moved the ashtray closer to her when she lit up another cigarette. “You are probably right...” he continued, ignoring her slight eye roll. “...but not this time,” he finished calmly. “He meant every single word... I just know it,” he shrugged again, and she let out another sigh and leaned onto the back of her chair once again. “Okay,” she said a few seconds later, her expression undisturbed. “Okay, I will drop it...” She looked at him through her eyelashes and let out a small smile. “Nice mark, by the way,” she said in a low voice, and he frowned. “What?” Katherine raised her hand and slightly tapped her fingertips on the right side of her own throat. “Nice mark,” she said again. Stratos blinked at that and slowly touched the side of his neck. Then his frown smoothed out and he smiled and drank more coffee. “Yeah,” he said and smiled again without elaborating any further. “I see you weren’t the only one marking your territory last night,” Katherine said in the same low voice, and he glanced at her with a silent question. She didn’t say anything else; she just looked at him patiently. Finally, he let out a short laughter and picked up his coffee cup again. “He wasn’t marking me,” he said without looking away from Katherine’s face. “It was just...” He shrugged without finishing the sentence, and Katherine let out another sigh. “Uh huh,” she nodded seriously. “He was just lost in throws of passion, so he placed that very obvious mark in such a clever strategic place that you could not possibly cover it up...” She paused and finished her latte. “Not even if you wore a turtleneck,” she finished with another nod and set her cup back on the table. “He wasn’t marking me,” Stratos said again, slower this time. “Katherine, he...” “I gotta go,” she interrupted him and stood up, her expression as calm as before. “I will see you tonight at seven.” He let out a defeated sigh and stood up as well. “Want me to pick you up?” he asked, and she shook her head. “No, I’ll drive myself...” She leaned forward, and Stratos placed an absent-minded kiss on her forehead, never noticing a sudden dark cloud that ran over her expression. “Don’t forget to find massage oil!” She said lightly and straightened up, her eyes calm once again. “Got it,” Stratos said automatically and emptied the ashtray into the trashcan that sat not too far from their table. When he came back, Katherine was gone. He sighed and started walking towards his car, his expression thoughtful. **** At 6:30 in the evening, Stratos started working the coffeemaker, figuring that the fresh pot would finish brewing by the time Katherine showed up. He finished with the coffeemaker in less than two minutes and walked to the living room. He stopped a few seconds later, watching Gemini getting lost in another book, his figure strangely small in a big chair, his hair trying to take over his eyes as usual. Stratos watched him for several minutes without saying anything, and finally, he walked closer. “Did you mark me last night?” he asked without a smile, and Gemini slightly jerked and looked up. “What?” he asked with a small frown. “Did you mark me last night?” Stratos repeated as seriously as he did before. “This...” He briefly touched the side of his neck. “Did you do it on purpose? Did you mark me?” Gemini stared at him without blinking, and Stratos almost heard him say, ‘Of course, not! Why would you even ask such a thing...?’ when all of a sudden, the golden eyes closed, and Stratos blinked and frowned at the same time when he heard: “I’m sorry...” He frowned deeper, this time, with more confusion. “Wait...” he said, noting that the golden eyes remained closed. “Wait... Was that a ‘yes’?” Gemini’s expression tightened and he gave Stratos a very small, slow nod without opening his eyes. “I’m sorry...” he said again, and Stratos just stared at him. “And you admitted it just like that...?” he asked a few seconds later. “You didn’t even try saying it was an accident...?” Gemini finally opened his eyes and looked up with the same small, tight frown on his forehead. “I would never lie to you...” he said slowly. “You hate it...” “Yeah...” Stratos muttered without looking away from the golden eyes. “I really do...” He reached out for a silky strand of hair that took the long eyelashes hostage, and was about to tuck it behind the small, pink ear as usual, when suddenly, Gemini let out a small, tight inhale and stiffened up in his chair, his shoulders rigid. Stratos frowned and stood still for a second. Then he slowly tucked that strand behind the small ear and lowered his hand. “You flinched...” he said a minute later. “Why?” Gemini blinked and looked away for a second. Stratos frowned deeper. “Did you really believe that I would hurt you?” he asked very slowly and received another tight golden glance in return. He shook his head. “Did you...?” he asked when there was nothing but silence. “I made you angry,” he finally received a soft reply, and closed his eyes for a few seconds. “Gemini...” he said quietly when he opened them. “I will never hurt you...” He paused. “And I will damage anyone who tries,” he continued after a silent second. “It doesn’t matter if I am livid; it doesn’t matter if everything is about to go to hell...” He took a quick breath. “Gem, I will never hurt you... I need you to know that...! I will say this as many times as I have to, but I need you to know that...! What?” he asked when Gemini’s expression suddenly became strangely curious. “Nobody ever called me that before...” the blond kelari said softly, a very small smile peeking through the corners of his mouth. Stratos blinked at that. “Call you what?” he asked with genuine confusion, and the smile grew bigger. “Gem...” he received another soft reply, and he sighed and slowly lowered himself on his knees, pressing his elbows into the arm of the big chair. He looked up at the slightly flushed face that started reflecting that familiar rosy glow, and reached for the smooth cheek with one of his hands. He stroked the silky skin, never looking away from the golden eyes, and ran his fingers through the soft hair. “I will never hurt you, Gem...” he said seriously, and then cleared his throat. “By the way,” he said in a lower voice, his fingers returning to the smoothness of the cheek. “You didn’t make me angry...” He nodded when he saw the expression in the golden eyes. “You didn’t have to mark me...” He shrugged. “...but if you want to, go ahead,” he finished with another slight nod. “Just maybe not this obvious next time?” he slightly raised his eyebrows. “At least, leave me an option of a turtleneck...” Gemini blinked at that, the same smile splashing on his mouth, and Stratos let out a smile of his own and pulled him down, snaking his hand onto the back of his neck. He slowly caressed the smiling mouth with his tongue, loving the feeling of the long fingers that buried in his hair, and threw a quick, half-lidded glance at the clock that hung on the wall. “Dammit...” he muttered with dark regret and pulled away. “Katherine is going to be here in fifteen minutes,” he answered a silent golden question, and Gemini’s smile slightly faltered. “Right...” he breathed and straightened up when Stratos got off his knees. “Katherine...” “I need to get that ice-cream cake out of the freezer,” Stratos said loudly, heading towards the kitchen. “She likes her ice-cream slightly melted...” Gemini put his book away and left the chair. “Who is she?” he asked casually when he walked into the kitchen and leaned against the wall. Stratos shot him a quick glance. “An old friend,” he nodded. “Very good friend... Well...” he hemmed and opened the door of the freezer. “Used to be more than just a friend...” He reached for the cake box deep in the freezer, never noticing a dark shadow that cast over the gold of the eyes that were hiding behind the eyelashes again. “But she left two years ago; said that she wanted to experience life to the fullest, that she needed a real adventure, so...” He emerged from the freezer with the box in his hands and kicked the door shut. “Now she is just a very good friend,” he finished with a slight nod and set the box on the counter, carefully opening the lid. “Ah,” Gemini said in the same casual manner, his gaze fixed on the cake box. Stratos noticed a small vanilla smudge on the side of his hand and licked it off, never noticing a suddenly tense posture and stiff shoulders. He was about to say something when there was a loud sound of the doorbell rolling through the air, and he smiled and glanced at the clock. “Punctual as ever,” he muttered and headed to the front door, leaving Gemini alone in the kitchen. Gemini stared at the box without really seeing it, and briefly closed his eyes when he heard: “You remembered...!” “Of course, I remembered! I remember not just your favorite wine, but a lot of your other favorites...! And I am not talking food or colors...” “Found massage oil...” “Good, we’ll need it!” Gemini opened his eyes and looked at the box again, frowning at the sudden desire to grab it and splatter vanilla ice-cream all over the wall. Instead of doing that, he sighed and walked to the fridge. He opened the door, looked inside for a second or two, and then sighed again and pulled out a bowl of cherries. He carefully set the bowl next to the box and straightened up, staring at the box once again. ...Dinner took maybe an hour total, but to Gemini it felt like an eternity. He was a little bit relieved when it was dessert time. Then Stratos started carefully cutting the ice-cream cake, and that brief relief immediately shattered into pieces. “Dammit...” Stratos muttered with a frustrated frown when the knife cut the cake a lot easier than he expected, and he had vanilla ice-cream all over his hand as the result. Katherine laughed at that and took the knife away from him. “Messy as always,” she said, quickly fixing the cake and putting the knife away. Stratos grimaced and reached for a napkin. Katherine laughed again and grabbed his hand. “No need,” she said in a low voice, and before he could say anything, she brought his hand closer to her lips, ignoring Gemini’s stunned look. “No need to waste some perfectly good ice-cream,” she said in the same low voice, and then her quick pink tongue started dancing on Stratos’ hand, gathering all the ice-cream it could reach, and cleaning the spots that didn’t need to be cleaned. Gemini closed his eyes for a few seconds, the same dark, heavy feeling rapidly growing in his chest. Finally, he opened his eyes and looked at Stratos. He expected the other man to take his hand away from Katherine’s overzealous tongue, but he never did, letting her to continue ‘cleaning’ his skin. Gemini saw a small smile on his face, and suddenly, he couldn’t take this anymore. He dropped his fork onto his plate, and the sound came out unexpectedly loud, making Katherine to look up and finally let go of Stratos’ hand. “You okay?” Stratos frowned when he turned his head towards the loud clanking. Gemini slowly stood up, avoiding looking at him. “Yes,” he muttered and pushed his chair away from the table. “I am going to go to bed early tonight...” Stratos frowned deeper and glanced at his plate. “You haven’t even had any cake,” he said, and the dark feeling suddenly bucked into a huge wave, making Gemini lock his teeth. “And I know that you love ice-cream...” “I am not hungry,” Gemini said softly and stepped away from the table, the dark feeling growing inside him, making him slightly dizzy. “You sure you...” Stratos started asking with the same frown, when all of a sudden, Katherine jumped up with a frustrated groan, and Stratos turned his head to look at her. “Crap...!” she exclaimed and tried to brush vanilla ice-cream off her tight pants when the cake on her plate suddenly decided to tumble off the table and land in her lap. “Crap...!” she said again. “What happened?” Stratos stood up as well. “Ugh...!” She looked at him, tightly pressing her lips when she realized that the cake was not going to be merely brushed off – it was determined to be a worthy foe. “I guess I put my plate too close to the edge,” she said and reached for the napkin. “Must’ve hit it with my elbow... Dammit!” “Good night,” Gemini said evenly when Stratos started helping her to clean up the mess in her lap. He started walking away when he heard Stratos’: “Gem, are you okay...?” He paused on the stairsteps, half-turning his head. “Yes,” he muttered. “Good night...” “Night...” Stratos said slowly, his expression confused. He was about to say something else, but Gemini turned away and went upstairs, trying to tame the dark waves that kept drowning him from the inside. Stratos watched him walk away and blinked when he heard a suddenly loud door slam. “Wonder if he’s sick or something...” he muttered, and Katherine raised her head, briefly leaving the mess on her pants alone. Stratos noticed her curious look and shrugged. “He is never like this,” he explained, and Katherine sighed and returned her attention to vanilla ice-cream that turned out to be incredibly creamy. “No surprise, really...” she muttered and raised her head again when Stratos said with genuine confusion: “Huh?” She looked at him for a second or two, her expression mildly-disbelieving. “What?” he asked when she wouldn’t say anything, and she sighed and straightened up. “Stratos,” she said. “You are a brilliant musician.” “And...?” he frowned when she stopped talking. “That’s it,” she nodded. “You are a brilliant musician... Everything else, however...” He rolled her eyes at her expression, and she smiled and returned to her pants. “He is jealous,” she shrugged without looking up this time, and Stratos stopped helping her. “Jealous...?” he repeated slowly and received another quick glance from her. “Yes,” she nodded. “Extremely jealous... Has been ever since last night... Why do you think he marked you?” She threw the soaked napkin on the table and reached for another one, glancing at Stratos again when he wouldn’t say anything. She sighed and straightened up once more, leaving the napkin alone. “It’s only natural,” she said patiently. “It’s only natural that he developed feelings for you,” she explained as patiently when Stratos kept looking at her with a silent question in his blue eyes. “In fact...” she shrugged again and started working her pants once more. “I’d be surprised if he hadn’t...” she finished, and Stratos slightly shook his head. “What are you talking about?” he asked impatiently, and she slowly straightened up, giving him an incredulous look. “Really?” she said in a low voice. “You really asked that question...? Oh, Stratos...” she let out another sigh. “Okay... You are the only one in his entire life who treated him this way... You are the only one who cared about his pleasure; the only one who made him enjoy sex instead of dreading it... Hell, you are probably the only one who actually kissed him!” She let out a short laughter. “Of course, he developed feelings for you...! And now...” She glanced upstairs. “...he is jealous because you are down here with me instead of up there with him,” she finished with yet another nod, and Stratos slowly shifted his gaze upstairs, saying nothing. Katherine patted her pants with the napkin for another minute or so, and then let out an exasperated sigh. “Screw it,” she muttered and threw the napkin on the table. “Doesn’t matter... These pants are not going to stay on much longer anyway...” She let out a small, sly smile and glanced at Stratos who kept looking at the stairs. “So, you wanna hear a few stories before we get to wine and everything else...? A few months ago, I met an actual Hunter, can you believe that...? Stratos...” she called when he wouldn’t look away from the carpeted steps. “Stratos, are you even listening to me...?” “He is hurting...” he muttered, and she narrowed her eyes and leaned forward. “What?” she asked in a low voice, and he finally looked at her. “He is hurting,” he said again, and she blinked at that. “I would imagine so,” she nodded slowly. “Jealousy is never pleasant... Anyhow, the way I met that Hunter is absolutely crazy! If it hadn’t happened to me, I’d never believed this story...! I was...” “He is hurting...” Stratos said again, not listening to her, and she stopped talking and looked at him with wide eyes. “Wait a minute...” she said slowly after a few stunned silent seconds. “Wait a minute... You don’t like it, do you?” He looked at her without saying anything. “When he is hurting...” she continued in the same slow manner. “You don’t like it...?” “I hate it,” he said quietly after almost minute of silence, and Katherine briefly closed her eyes. “Wow...” she said very softly after she opened them. “Wow... I guess he wasn’t the only one who developed feelings...” She looked at him, expecting immediate denial, and closed her eyes again when nothing came. “I am going to take off,” she said a little louder, a few minutes later. Her voice sounded as brightly as it did before, but her eyes reflected sudden bitterness somewhere deep inside. “To take off...?” Stratos frowned. “Don’t...” she said softly, and he stopped talking. “You don’t have to force yourself into being a good host; I know you are...” She paused. “I forgot that I have an early meeting in the morning, how’s that?” He blinked without replying, and she sighed once again. “Good night, Stratos,” she nodded and turned around, looking for her coat. “Keep the wine,” she gave him a quick smile. “Katherine...” he started saying, but she interrupted him. “Good night, Stratos... Go to him,” she said quietly after a second or two. “He is hurting...” He looked at her silently for several minutes. She turned around, heading towards the front door, and he finally spoke. “I love you, you know that, right?” She stopped and looked at him over her shoulder. “Yeah...” she said softly. “I love you too... I will lock the door, don’t worry...” she nodded when she noticed him glance at the stairs again. “Go...” He gave her a quick smile and went upstairs without saying anything else. She watched him go, and when she heard the sound of the opening door, she closed her eyes. “I love you too...” she muttered very softly. She stood still for a few minutes, and then sighed, opened her eyes, turned around, and walked outside, making sure the door was locked after she left.
  10. - VIII - Emptiness. Hollow, indifferent emptiness. Stratos knew this feeling well – it would hit him hard after every single performance. It would always feel as if he gave to that stage everything he had, and now there was absolutely nothing left, leaving him empty, indifferent, and tired. He hated that feeling, but it was inevitable – he knew that. Thankfully, the feeling would never last too long – two days at the most, and then he’d start filling up with emotions again. He was dreadfully ready to dive into that same hateful echoing dullness of nothing, when to his enormous surprise, he realized that it never came. He had given out everything he thought he had during this performance; he’d given out more than he ever had; he was ready to pay the price for that, ready to feel dead inside, ready to fake smiles and excitement. It never happened. It started to creep up, almost immediately after he took his hands off the warm keys of the satisfied instrument, but then he turned towards the audience, his eyes instantly found their golden aim, and all of a sudden, the emptiness shattered into pieces, filling him with almost delirious satisfaction. He spent at least an hour backstage, exchanging handshakes and hugs, accepting an entire sea of flowers, signing photographs and wrinkled pages of the program, and swallowing every single compliment. Usually, he didn’t care much about flattering comments and praises, always feeling strangely-cynical about them, thinking it was the audience’s obligation to do so, something that was expected. This time, however, he knew that not a single word reflected any requirement; this time, he knew that the compliments were sincere. His eyes kept darting towards the farther wall where Gemini was standing rigidly-still, waiting for the crowd to finally recede, and trying to make himself look like just another part of the shadow that came from a large potted tree next to him. His efforts weren’t very successful, however. Gemini would never be unnoticeable, Stratos thought when he caught quite a few curious, judgmental looks cast towards the reason of his incredible inspiration tonight. He felt a stabbing wave of dark irritation roll over him, and brought hugs, flowers, and autographs to a hurried end, not really caring about murmurs and disappointment. He knew it wouldn’t last – the reception would fix everything. It took another fifteen minutes for the wide corridor to return to its anticipated emptiness, and Stratos threw a bouquet of flowers that he was still holding on the table, making it disappear in the sea of roses and lilies. “God, I needed this...” he muttered when he crossed the distance between him and the potted tree in several quick steps. “I needed this...” he said again and sank his fingers in the soft golden hair, impatiently locking his lips on the tantalizing mouth. He did need this, he realized when he found himself trapped in the immediate tight circle of trembling arms; he craved this for the entire time he was dealing with endless praises and autographed pictures. “Too weird...” the same thought tried to sneak back into his mind, but it never got a chance to do that, immediately swept aside by much more powerful ‘I need this...!’ He was getting completely lost in the growing, blooming kiss, when suddenly, someone said in a thoughtful tone: “You know, this is not an oak tree... It’s not that big... It doesn’t really conceal you...” Stratos swallowed a startled exhale, noting the suddenly-wide golden eyes, and turned his head, letting his hands to slide onto Gemini’s shoulders. Then he blinked several times, feeling his mouth slowly stretch in a disbelieving smile. “Katherine...?” He said finally, and let go of the tense shoulders. “Holy hell, is that really you?” “In the flesh,” she said very seriously and took a small bow. “Holy hell...” he said again and stepped towards her. She finally laughed, and the sound came out unexpectedly bright and free. Gemini blinked, and then slightly frowned when Stratos suddenly grabbed her in a hurried hug, spinning around a couple of times, as if he was trying to perform some strange, quick dance move. She laughed again, and Gemini frowned deeper when he saw her arms lock tightly around Stratos’ neck. He studied her through his eyelashes, never smoothing out the same tight frown and not even noticing it. She was a petite, slender woman with curly reddish hair that fell all over her back and shoulders in untamed waves. Somehow, Gemini knew that all those curls didn’t come from hair curlers – they were natural. She had unexpectedly bright black eyes that looked striking against her slightly tanned skin and red hair. Her mouth was precisely shaped, perfectly pink, and slightly too wide, which added some strange charm to her appearance. She let out another free, bright laughter, and Gemini felt a sharp, unpleasant stab deep in his chest. “You are back!” Stratos said after he spun her around one last time and relaxed the circle of his arms, letting her feet touch the floor again. “When did you come back?” “Wednesday afternoon,” she nodded without taking her hands off his shoulders. “And you never called me?” he frowned with genuine accusation, and she gave him a wide smile. “I knew that you had a concert tonight,” she said, and Gemini gritted his teeth at her sincerity. “Didn’t want to distract you, and...” She paused. “I wanted to make an entrance,” she sighed after a few seconds. “I always loved surprising you...!” “I know,” he laughed and gave her another hug. This one was brief, however, and didn’t involve any spinning. “How long has it been...?” he frowned without looking away from her face. “Two years...?” “Yup,” she nodded, and finally, took her hands off his shoulders, running her fingers through her unruly curls, pulling them into an impatient ponytail. “Boy, do I have wild stories for you...” she said in a low voice, and Stratos grinned. “I bet,” he nodded. “Can’t wait to hear them! God, I missed you...!” Gemini looked away when the musician buried his face in those unruly curls, his arms locking tightly around her small frame once again. “I missed you too...” Katherine said in a muffled voice, her face pressed against his neck. “Come to the reception,” Stratos finally pulled away, his expression beaming and happy. “Of course, I will!” she snorted, and then glanced at the sea of flowers. “What about...?” She didn’t finish the question, slightly raising her eyebrow, and Stratos shrugged. “It’ll be taken care of,” he said lightly. “It’s always taken care of...” “All right,” she looked at him, and suddenly, her smile shrank a little, and her expression became more serious. “Oh, Stratos...” she sighed. “I did miss you...” She leaned forward. “So much... I should’ve never left... I was such an idiot...!” She leaned even closer to his face, clearly aiming for his lips, an unborn kiss dancing on her mouth, and Gemini’s teeth locked together even harder. Stratos let out another smile, and leaned towards her as well. She almost closed her eyes, slightly parting her lips, when all of a sudden, he turned his head just a little bit, and placed a big, friendly kiss on her right cheek. Gemini blinked at that and his jaw slightly relaxed. Katherine’s mouth twitched with surprised confusion, and she took a small step back, never pressing the matter any further. “Where is that after-party?” she asked in the same bright voice, and Gemini suddenly realized that she hasn’t glanced at him even once. It was as if he wasn’t even there. “You have your car?” Stratos asked her, and she shook her head. “Took a cab here,” she said, and Stratos frowned at that. “Come with us then,” he said, and Gemini couldn’t tell what it was exactly that he felt when Stratos’ fingers entwined with his, and Katherine’s arm sneaked around the musician’s waist. The feeling was mixed, to say the least. They walked out of the building, all three of them linked together, and Gemini shuddered involuntarily when a sudden gust of wind decided to strike him head-on, ruffling his hair and throwing sharp snow in his face. Stratos never looked at him, immersed into a laughing conversation with Katherine (“Remember when this happened...?” “Yeah...! Do you remember when we...” “Oh, God, that was great! I still can’t believe that we...”), but as soon as that shudder ran through Gemini’s body, he pulled the blond kelari closer in a quick, almost automatic gesture, pressing him tightly against himself and protecting him from another gust of wind. Immediately after he did that, Katherine said something about some winery and an old bridge, and Stratos laughed so hard that he had to stop for a second or two to avoid slipping in the snow. Gemini’s teeth locked tightly once again. The mixed feeling kept growing. They got to Stratos’ car that was parked a bit farther than usual tonight, and the musician impatiently pushed the button on his keychain, making the doors of the car to click simultaneously with a loud, unsatisfied sound. Without saying or asking anything, Katherine opened the door of the car and slipped into the front passenger’s seat, slightly shivering from cold. “Brrr...” she said and shook her head, getting rid of some snowflakes. “Turn on the heater, Stratos...! I feel like I am about to turn into an icicle!” “You could never handle anything lower than fifty degrees,” Stratos snorted, completely undisturbed by the fact that Gemini’s shoulders became rigid the minute he realized that he had no choice but to get into the back seat. “I don’t like cold,” Katherine said seriously without shutting the door. “You never seemed to mind that...” She cocked her head slightly to the right, a small, sly smile playing with the corners of her mouth. “Actually, I remember one night when you turned down the heat in your house ‘by accident’...” she made quick air quotes with her fingers. “...just so you could warm me up...” Stratos let out another loud laughter and reached for the open door. “I know,” he said lightly. “I am more straightforward now. Don’t beat around the bush as much as I used to... Watch your foot,” he said warningly when she set the tip of her boot on the edge of the car. She blinked and pulled her foot underneath the seat, and Stratos smiled again and closed the door of the car. Gemini let out a sigh and reached for the door handle, getting ready to get into the back seat, when Stratos suddenly snaked one of his arms behind his back, and a second later, his fingers found their quick way into the golden ruffle of long hair. Gemini let out a surprised moan when their mouths clashed together, and parted his lips when he felt the insistent tongue demanding an entrance. The tongue immediately took advantage of that, dancing inside his mouth, running over his teeth, and caressing everything it could reach. He started raising his hands, aiming for the back of Stratos’ neck, when the kiss was over as suddenly as it began. He blinked several times, trying to regain his composure when Stratos pulled away with a small smile and swung open the door of the car. “Get in,” he said in a low voice. “Before you freeze...” Gemini blinked again and silently slid into the back seat, his head spinning, his mind boggling from the same mixed feeling, strange anger, and some weird unknown pain that kept stabbing him with short, mad kicks. He bit his lip and leaned onto the back of the seat, looking outside and trying to ignore Katherine’s melodic voice and her bright laughter. **** The last big gathering Gemini had ever attended was his eighth birthday party, and to be honest, he didn’t remember it that well. He remembered that he loved it, there were lots of people there, and his mother was beaming the entire day, her eyes turning all starry whenever she looked at him. There was something else about that birthday party; he vaguely remembered something not very pleasant, something that worried him, but he had no idea what it was. That birthday party was the last big formal gathering he had ever attended. There were quite a few semi-big gatherings after that, but they were neither formal nor pleasant, and he tried his best not to think about those. Besides, he would usually be the only ‘guest of honor’ in those gatherings, and that title was something he hated so much that it made him dizzy every time he thought about it. This reception was all about Stratos, he knew that, and it made him feel a little safer. He knew that he would draw inevitable attention, and that there was no way for him to avoid that, but he figured that if he tried staying out of the spotlight as much as he could, everything would turn out just fine. After all, everybody’s attention would be focused on Stratos – he was the star. He kept telling himself silently that everything would be just fine, that he had no reason to worry, that Stratos would be there the entire time, but he couldn’t help but feel that same old crippling, nauseating fear stirring in the pit of his stomach. He hated that fear, but he couldn’t shut it out no matter how hard he tried. They arrived to the party a little bit after ten in the evening, and he couldn’t believe the ovations that exploded all over the Plaza the minute Stratos walked inside. He was a bit relieved when he saw how big this place was – Leon rented the center floor of the city Plaza, which was perfect for this particular reception. The place was huge, and Gemini figured that it wouldn’t be a problem for him to blend in with the shadows somewhere in the corner while waiting for Stratos to decide to go home finally. To his wary surprise, blending in with the shadows didn’t work out as well as he hoped. First of all, the entire place was ridiculously well lit, bright lights and electric candles everywhere, no place for darkness whatsoever. Second of all, he realized that no matter how hard he tried to be invisible, almost everyone’s attention concentrated on him after Stratos would receive his exploding with applause bit. The fact that there was a hell of a lot of wild rumors floating around didn’t help a single bit. It seemed that pretty much everyone here was going to give him a cold, evaluating, sometimes plain hostile look that made him want to be literally invisible. “Why don’t I possess any abilities?” he thought tightly yet again (he would wonder that quite often, fantasizing about different scenarios that he would be able to bring to life if he did possess at least something). “Wonder if it’s a kelari thing... Just like my fast healing...” He let out a sigh and grabbed another cup of coffee off the counter, half-registering Katherine’s bright laughter that came from somewhere on his right. Katherine turned out to be quite well known, and her sudden arrival tonight stirred a lot of attention. Not as much as Stratos’ performance, of course, but it seemed that almost everyone felt it was their duty to grab her hand, give her a hug, or at least a quick ‘Oh my God! Katherine...!’ He was sitting by the bar counter, emptying his sixth cup of coffee, his eyes glued to the dark marble of the counter, wondering how long Stratos would want to stay here, when suddenly, there was low and sultry: “You are it, aren’t you?” He blinked and slowly lowered his coffee cup, shifting his gaze to his right. The man who spoke to him seemed to be in his early forties, his form strangely lean and chubby at the same time, his hair short and a bit messed up. Gemini slightly frowned when he saw the man’s eyes – they were dark-brown, a little slanted, and hazy as hell. It was obvious that the man had one too many drinks by now. Gemini knew a bit too well that arguing (or even talking, for that matter) with drunks rarely led to anything good. His eyes darted around, searching for Stratos, and he felt even more uneasy when he couldn’t spot him. “You are it...” the man announced once more and leaned on the counter with one elbow, his eyes as hazy as before, his smile growing bigger. “Uh...” Gemini said and slowly shifted backwards. “Excuse me...?” The man laughed, and Gemini blinked at the unexpected sincerity of that laughter. “You are it,” the man said again, adding a firm nod this time. “Stratos has finally come to his senses, huh?” Gemini started to get off his tall stool when the man demonstrated impressive and somewhat startling speed and coordination for a drunk, shooting one of his hands forward and grabbing Gemini’s upper arm. “Mm-mm,” he said quickly, and his smile made him look goofy. “Not yet... I know there is a line, and I don’t really care...” He half-closed his eyes, swallowing his sudden hiccup. “Just tell me what number I have...” Gemini frowned at that. “Number...?” he muttered dumbfoundedly, and the man blinked several times, and all of a sudden, his smile grew even wider. “There is no line?” he said a bit louder and his grip tightened on Gemini’s arm. “Bloody hell...” He swallowed another hiccup and a slight burp, making Gemini wince. “I am one lucky son of a bitch...!” “I’m sorry...” Gemini muttered and tried pulling away. “I think you have mistaken me for someone else...” “Ha...!” the man said seriously and moved closer. “You are that kelari everyone is talking about... Stratos has finally come to his senses and brought you here... To share, right...?” Gemini jerked backwards, understanding a little bit too late, and the man’s grip tightened significantly. “Mm-mm,” he said again, his goofiness trading places with something much darker. “If I am the first in line, it’s going to stay this way... Now...” He glanced around. “This place seems bright, but trust me...” He smiled and hiccupped at the same time. “There are several very intimate corners around here... Come on...” He straightened up, harshly pulling Gemini’s arm. “I can’t wait to see what you can do... Blow me first, all right?” Gemini jerked backwards harder than before, his old panic-mode coming back to life with alarming ease. “No...” he muttered and tried pulling his arm away. “No... You got it wrong... Just let go of me...!” “Wrong my ass...” the man snorted and squeezed his fingers tighter. “Come on...” He stepped closer. “For the next half an hour, you are my bitch...! Let’s go...” He tried to start walking, and Gemini jerked backwards even harder, making him sway on his feet and hit his hip on the hard marble counter. The man hissed at that. “Goddammit...” He shot a quick, dark look at Gemini, not a shadow of a smile on his face anymore. “That’s it...” he nodded, his eyes hazier than before. “I will have to pay for damaging you...” He let out another hiccup. “That’s fine...” Gemini gritted his teeth and pressed his free hand into the man’s chest, pushing him away as hard as he could. “Let go of me...!” he said louder. “Just let go...!” ...Stratos was getting tired of the entire ordeal sooner than he thought he would. The intense performance a few hours earlier was finally catching up to him. He flashed another polite smile and nodded habitually without really listening to whoever was talking to him. He kept nodding and saying occasional ‘Yes’ or ‘Thank you’ every few seconds, and he knew that it worked just fine. He heard Katherine’s melodic laughter ringing from somewhere on his left and briefly thought that he should say ‘Good night’ to her before leaving. He quickly glanced at his watch, making sure that whoever was talking to him didn’t notice that. He was successful, and after he saw that it was almost midnight, he let out an inaudible sigh and decided that after this particular conversation he’d better go find Gemini and head home. He kept nodding in the same smiling, polite manner, his mind wondering, when suddenly, he thought that he heard Gemini’s voice. He blinked without losing his polite smile and listened harder, slightly tilting his head to the right. “Let go of me...!” he heard, and smiling politely suddenly became the least of his concerns. “Excuse me,” he said quickly, ignoring a confused, almost disbelieving look and some slight stutter that he received as the result. He turned around without paying any attention to the person he was faking smiles for just a minute ago, and looked around with a tight frown. “...go of me...!” he heard again, and this time, he knew which way to go. He headed towards the bar counter, unable to see what was going on behind the tall dark marble and ignoring several about-to-be-born conversations that shot his way the minute he started walking. He finally got to the counter, suddenly realizing how big it really was, and went around it to the farther corner of the dark marble. When he finally saw what was happening, his first impulse was to grab the back of the wrinkled white collar in front of him and run the face of the owner of that collar into the wall hard enough to knock out his every single tooth. He restrained himself from doing that and stepped closer, slamming his hand on the shoulder of whoever it was that held Gemini’s upper arm so tightly that Stratos immediately knew there would be bruises on the pale skin. “What’s going on?” he asked in a low, tight voice, and the owner of the shoulder jumped up, let out a startled hiccup, and turned around. “Ah...” he said, and Stratos winced at the strong scent of whiskey on his breath. “Stratos...! About time...” He nodded without letting go of Gemini’s arm. “I just need half an hour with your pet... Tell him to behave...!” “Robert...” Stratos tightened his grip on the shoulder underneath his palm, causing another startled hiccup. “Let go of him... Now!” he added a little louder when the man wouldn’t release his grasp on Gemini’s arm. The man blinked, frowned, and slowly lowered his hand, finally letting go of the slender arm he kept holding. “You are drunk,” Stratos lowered his voice again without looking away from the hazy slanted eyes, and ignoring quite a few curious looks that shot his way. “Therefore, I am not going to push this any further tonight; just go home... However...” He paused for a second. “Tomorrow, when you are back to normal, I will expect an apology,” he nodded in the same tightly-calm manner. The man frowned with genuine confusion. “An apology...?” he repeated slowly. “I can do that right now...” He shook Stratos’ hand off his shoulder and straightened up, fixing his tuxedo. “Sorry for not asking you first before getting rough with your pet... Are we good?” He raised his eyebrows, clearly oblivious to the fact that Stratos was getting closer and closer to the very dangerous, explosive edge. “Can I have my half an hour now?” “He is not my pet,” Stratos said calmer than before, and this time, the hazy eyes finally blinked with slight alarm. “And if you ever hurt him or even touch him again, start praying, because God is going to be the only one who would be able to help you...” “Stratos...” “Good night, Robert,” Stratos said very evenly, and slightly pushed the man aside, stepping closer to Gemini and putting his arm around his shoulders in a protective, possessive manner. He started walking, leading the blond kelari away from the bar counter and completely ignoring the man he left behind, experiencing a very strong desire to break something; preferably, something big. He took a deep breath instead and stopped walking when they got far enough from the counter. He turned towards Gemini and put both hands onto his rigid shoulders. “You okay?” he asked softly and received a silent, tense glance in return. He let out a sigh. “It won’t happen again,” he said, and Gemini looked at him once more, still saying nothing. “I won’t let it to happen again,” he nodded. “It was an honest mistake,” Gemini muttered a minute later, and Stratos frowned at that. “He simply figured there was just one reason for you to bring your toy out in public...” He shrugged, his mouth twisting into a tight, bitter line. “I mean...” He looked away for a second. “They all know what I am, and what else would they expect from a...” Stratos pressed his finger against the tight lips without letting him to finish that sentence. “You are not a toy...” he murmured without looking away from the golden eyes. “And you never will be...” He slowly ran fingers of his other hand through the shining hair, noting bitter darkness that was hiding in the golden lakes. “I won’t let anything like this to happen again... I promise,” he finished in a whisper and moved his finger away from the tight mouth, replacing it with his lips. Gemini let out a small, quick inhale, his shoulders tense once again, perfectly aware of the fact that this sudden display of affection was immediately noticed, and that it would be known by everyone who managed to miss it right now. Stratos seemed not to care about that in the slightest, however, running his fingers through the silky hair again and locking his other arm around the waist in front of him. Gemini’s hands slowly traveled upwards, grasping Stratos’ shoulders with weak desperation, and he suddenly realized that his lips weren’t pressed tightly anymore, Stratos’ slow explorations of his mouth making his head spin. He let out a small, unconscious moan, and the kiss suddenly grew hungrier, making his heart to thump in some weird skipping rhythm. “I am sure they got the message, Stratos,” someone said in a low voice, and Gemini’s fingers dug deeper into Stratos’ shoulders, his eyes flying wide open. “What message?” Stratos placed a final slow kiss on the suddenly tense mouth, and pulled away without letting go of the waist he was still holding onto. Katherine sighed and gave him a small smile. “The message,” she said in the same low voice. “You, marking your territory,” she explained a few seconds later when Stratos kept looking at her with a silent question in his eyes. “Marking my territory?” Stratos let out short laughter. “I am not marking my territory...! Why would you even...” “Oh, please,” she interrupted him with a snort. “You might’ve as well just waved around a placard that said, ‘He is mine; stay away or else!’ in huge bold letters...! Believe me, they got the message!” He narrowed his eyes at that. “I don’t know why you’d think that,” he said without a smile this time. “But I wasn’t marking my...” “Stratos,” she interrupted him again. “If you were a dog, you would be urinating all over him right now,” she nodded, ignoring his quick wince. She looked at something behind his shoulder. “And it looks like your poor manager is about to pop a few vessels in his brain...” she muttered, and Stratos turned his head. He blinked when he caught Leon’s dark, unmoving glance that made him feel strangely uneasy. He frowned when he recognized pure, restrained fury hiding behind the standing-still darkness. Leon caught his look, finally blinked, and turned around, heading towards someone in the crowd. Stratos watched him walk away for a few seconds, feeling guilty about the fact that he managed to forget about Leon ever since he started playing tonight. “Dammit,” he thought bitterly. “He was in charge of everything... Renting, booking, setting everything up...” He glanced around. The reception was exquisite. “Dammit,” he thought again and let out a sigh. He was going to make it up to Leon, he thought with determination. Not tonight, because he knew that if he tried talking to his friend right now, it wouldn’t lead to anything good – Leon would fume for at least the next day, he knew that. “Sunday,” he thought and slightly nodded to himself. “I will make it up to him on Sunday...” He knew that it would take a lot more than simply buying lunch to get Leon to stop smoldering with silent rage, but he didn’t care. He felt guilty, and he would do anything to straighten things up between them; he would do anything to get his friend to forgive him (the incident this afternoon hasn’t even entered his mind; it seemed insignificant right now, to say the least). He let out another sigh and looked at Katherine who watched him with a strange curious expression in her bright eyes. “We are going home,” he said, grabbing Gemini’s hand, and Katherine’s eyebrows slightly shot upwards at the word ‘we.’ “Stratos, this is your party,” she said in a low voice. “All these people are here because of you...” She paused for a second. “For you,” she finished with a slight nod. “I made an appearance,” he shrugged and glanced around. “Most of them won’t even notice that I am gone,” he hemmed and looked at her again. “You are the only one I wanted to wish a good night to before leaving...” Katherine smiled at that. “Are you free tomorrow?” he asked with a small, thoughtful frown, and now, it was her turn to shrug. “Sure,” she said without looking away from his face. “For you I am always free...” “Coffee around noon?” he offered and she gave him a smile, her eyes never even pausing on Gemini, as if the blond kelari was completely invisible. “Sounds great,” she said softly and stepped a bit closer. “Also...” She slowly ran her fingers up his chest, heading towards his neck. “What do you say if we get together tomorrow night as well...? After coffee...? I am dying to catch up, and I have so many things to tell you...!” “Sure,” he shrugged, lightly kissing the tip of her fingers that made their way to his mouth. “Want me to pick you up or...” “No need,” she interrupted him. “I will come over. Around seven...?” She raised her eyebrow, and he immediately nodded. “Sounds good... I will get that ice-cream cake that you would sell your soul for... With extra cherries,” he nodded, and she laughed and traced his upper lip with a tip of her finger, soliciting another light kiss. “You still remember,” she said softly. “Would never forget,” he nodded seriously, and she smiled again. “I will bring the wine,” she slightly straightened up. “You provide the massage oil...” She let out another slow smile. “I’ve learned a few techniques that will make the ninth cloud seem like a cheap joint...!” “Tempting,” he nodded as seriously. “Massage oil it is!” “See you tomorrow,” she murmured and leaned closer. This time, she managed to trap his mouth for a few seconds, and Gemini looked away, the same stabbing, angry pain making him frown tighter than before. Stratos pulled away before she got a chance to pry his mouth open and gave her a quick smile. “Good night, Katherine,” he said in a low voice, and her black eyes clouded with something that resembled disappointment. “See you at noon tomorrow,” she returned the smile, the shadow of disappointment completely gone. Gemini couldn’t help but throw a quick glance at her before they started walking away, his fingers wrapped tightly around Stratos’ hand. This time, Katherine finally looked at him and blinked when she saw his heavy, dark expression. He immediately shifted his gaze away and followed Stratos outside, never letting go of his hand. Katherine watched them disappear in the night, and her expression was very thoughtful. “Having fun yet?” someone asked in a low, somewhat dark voice, and she turned her head. “Loads,” she nodded without a smile. “So, Leon...” She snaked her arm around his and bent her elbow. “Tell me, what’s with the kelari...?” “You will need a drink,” he said in the same dark manner. “And so will I...” “That good, huh?” she muttered and he didn’t say anything to that, leading her towards the bar counter.
  11. - VII - He woke up because of the sudden, cranky-sounding beeping of the alarm. Before he even realized what was going on, his arm stretched out in a slow, habitual gesture, aiming for the annoying button. He felt his fingers graze the smoothness of the button, when all of a sudden, Gemini jerked harshly right next to him, and then the alarm clock flew off the nightstand, smashing on the floor, and immediately ceasing all the beeping. That woke him up for good, and he slowly opened his eyes, trying to figure out if he pushed the clock harder than he intended. “Had to be it...” he thought and frowned when suddenly, Gemini muttered in a dark hurry: “I am up... I am up...! Please, don’t...!” “Don’t what...?” Stratos said slowly. “Gem, wake up!” he called louder when the blond kelari wouldn’t open his eyes. Gemini let out a strange, strangled sound, and his eyes flew open. He looked at Stratos without blinking for several blind seconds, his neck rigid, and then finally, he let out a slow sigh, blinked, and Stratos felt the pulse underneath his fingertips returning to its original peaceful rhythm. “Don’t what?” he asked again and propped himself on one elbow. “Mmm...?” he received a confused reply. “You said, ‘I am up, please don’t’... Don’t what?” “Oh...” Gemini let out another sigh and rolled onto his side, facing the bright-blue eyes. “Just a dream, I suppose...” He glanced around as if trying to figure out how he got there, and suddenly, there was that familiar rosy glow hugging his neck and face. “Morning...” he said softly, shifting his gaze towards the blue eyes again, his expression hesitant as if he wasn’t sure how Stratos would react right now that the night was gone. “Morning...” Stratos leaned closer and locked their lips together, noting a quick flash of relief shooting through the golden eyes. “Mmm...” Gemini muttered a minute or so later, breaking the kiss. “Your alarm went off... Do you have to get up...? Your concert is tonight...” “I am up,” Stratos nodded seriously. “In more ways than one,” he added a few seconds later, and grinned when there was a quick golden glance shooting downwards. “The concert is not until eight in the evening...” He kicked off the blanket and scooted closer to the pale body next to him. “I just need to do the last rehearsal... Run through the program slowly... I have time...” “You sure...? You sure you have enough...?” The voice did not sound concerned at all; instead, it was quick, slightly trembling, and hopeful. “Positive,” Stratos said seriously, and then both of them stopped talking for a while. **** “Go back to sleep,” Stratos said several hours later, emerging from the bathroom after he took a quick shower. “Here...?” Gemini threw a quick glance at him, his eyes hiding behind the long eyelashes again. “I mean...” He paused. “Do you want me to get out of your room while you are not here...?” He sat up, and Stratos just sighed when he saw a strand of hair slide over one of the eyes. He came closer. “If I wanted you to get out...” He reached out for that strand. “...I would’ve said so,” he finished with a slight nod after the strand was tucked behind the small ear once again. “Go back to sleep.” “Okay...” he got a soft, breath-like response and suppressed a sudden wave of heat that rushed through him when he watched the perfect body stretch on the bed. He really had to run through the program; he didn’t want to cut the last rehearsal short. “I’ll be back in a couple of hours,” he sighed. He slightly frowned, looking as if he was considering something. “I want you to come with me tonight,” he said finally, and this time, the golden eyes opened all the way without hiding behind the eyelashes. “To the concert,” Stratos nodded without looking away. “And to the after-party... I want you to come with me...” Gemini slowly sat up, his expression stunned and perturbed. Stratos waited for him to speak without saying anything. “To come with you...?” He finally muttered, his gaze still blink-free. “Yes,” Stratos nodded again. “Y-you sure...?” Gemini slightly stuttered. “I mean, to go out... In public... You would... With me... I...” “Yes,” Stratos said patiently once again. “Go out, in public, with you. I want you to come with me tonight.” “I...” the blond kelari finally blinked. “Umm... I don’t even have anything to wear... I mean...” “You will,” Stratos interrupted him with another nod. “I want you to come with me,” he said again without looking away. “This is not an order, by the way,” he added a couple of seconds later, after seeing the look in golden eyes. “I want you to come, but if you don’t want...” “I do,” Gemini interrupted him softly. “I do,” he repeated after a couple of seconds. “It’s just...” He hesitated, and Stratos correctly translated his silence into ‘I am scared.’ “Don’t be,” he sat down on the edge of the bed. “Don’t be scared...” Gemini blinked several times at those words. Stratos shrugged. “You are easy to read,” he let out a smile. “Come with me... It will be fine,” he finished quietly, and got a slow, uncertain nod in response. “Okay...” He smiled again and leaned closer, placing a quick kiss on the perfect mouth, making sure he didn’t linger – he knew that if he did, he would miss the last rehearsal completely. That would not be the brightest idea. He stood up. “Go back to sleep,” he said before leaving the room and closing the door behind him. **** “Oh, so you did decide to show up here after all,” he was greeted by Leon’s tightly-irritated voice the minute he stepped through the dark doors of the grand hall. “So nice of you!” “Hey,” Stratos gave him a light nod and a wide smile – he couldn’t stop smiling all morning for some reason. Leon closed his eyes for several seconds, silently moving his lips as if slowly counting to ten. “Where the hell have you been?” He finally opened his eyes, his expression tight and restrained. “And why the hell weren’t you answering your phone?” “Oh...” Stratos frowned and fished the phone out of his pocket. He never turned it back on last night, he realized. He pushed the red button on top. “Forgot to turn it on,” he said without much regret. “Oh, yeah...” He let out a quick grin. “You called...! I have...” He frowned. “Twenty five missed calls from you...?” He threw a quick glance at his manager, who looked like he was trying his best to keep himself from doing Stratos some bodily harm right now. “Sorry,” Stratos said quickly. “I’ll buy you lunch,” he promised with a firm nod. Leon gritted his teeth and closed his eyes again. When he opened them, he looked calmer. “Where have you been?” he asked in a less hostile tone of voice, and Stratos just vaguely waved his hand, heading towards the stage. “And what’s with you...?” Leon narrowed his eyes at Stratos’ expression. “Don’t tell me that you are high!” His intonation was sharp again. Stratos rolled his eyes. “I am not high,” he said and hopped on stage, ignoring possible splinters from the polished wood. “I just...” He paused, and then shrugged. “I had a good night sleep,” he nodded and sat down on the bench in front of the piano, lightly running his fingers over the immaculate keys. “I’d say...” Leon said slowly, still studying his friend’s expression with narrowed eyes. “You look like you got laid for the first time ever...” Stratos blinked at that. “Funny you should say that...” he muttered, and Leon frowned. “Say what?” he asked, and Stratos quickly shook his head. “Never mind,” he threw him a brief glance. “I’m gonna warm up on a few scales.” He started playing, waking up his cold fingers, and warming up his somewhat stiff muscles. “Say what...?” Leon muttered without looking at him this time, ignoring the quick, flawless runs of the scale. “You look like you got laid for the first time ev...” Suddenly, he stopped talking and stared at one of the chairs in front of him, without blinking. A minute later, he let out a slow, disbelieving laughter. “You gotta be kidding me...” he muttered, and hopped onto the stage as well. He walked up to the black instrument and stopped, slightly leaning on the side of it with his elbow. Stratos threw him a questioning glance without interrupting brilliant runs of arpeggios. “I was right, huh?” Leon said in a low voice, and the arpeggios came to a hesitant, brief pause. “What?” Stratos narrowed his eyes and leaned towards him. “I didn’t hear what you...” “Finally fucked him last night, didn’t you?” Leon interrupted him in the same low voice, and the arpeggios stopped completely. “What did you do?” he continued, ignoring stunned silence. “Got fed up with your own bullshit about forcing and free will, bent him over the counter, and pounded his brains out...?” He laughed shortly. “Like you should have, three weeks ago...” “No...” Stratos said slowly, feeling the smile start sliding away. “I didn’t force him into anything...” “Then what?” Leon sounded amused and strangely dark right now. “Drugged him...?” “No,” Stratos said louder, smile gone completely by now. “What is wrong with you...? I didn’t force him and I didn’t drug him!” He lowered his hands. “He wanted it...” he said in a quieter manner. “Oh?” Leon’s eyebrow shot upwards in a harsh, sarcastic arch. “What did you do?” he asked again. “Promised to leave a twenty on his pillow?” “What?” Stratos said quietly after several seconds of silence. Leon shrugged. “He is a whore,” he said casually. “He is supposed to get hard at the sight of money; it’s in his job descr...” “Don’t!” Stratos interrupted him in the same quiet manner, his throat suddenly tight. “Touchy...” Leon hemmed without looking away from darkening blue eyes. “Did he come?” he asked in the same casual way. Stratos felt his jaw lock tighter and tighter. “That is none of your business,” he said slowly, suppressing dark rage that started stirring deep inside his chest. “He did, didn’t he?” Leon seemed not to notice or care about his tone of voice and darkening eyes. “You made him come...” He paused, intently studying Stratos’ expression. “And you liked it...” he said slowly. “What did you do?” he asked yet again, his casual manner covering up bubbling anger underneath it like an illusion of snow would cover a streak of black ice. “Jerked him off or was it just some good, old-fashioned ass fucking? Rammed into his prostate until he...” A sudden, furious slam shut him up mid-sentence and made him jerk involuntarily. For the next few minutes, the silence on stage was only interrupted by whining, echoing complaints of vibrating strings inside the instrument, resonating at the hard smash of the lid. “I will see you at seven-thirty,” Stratos said very evenly and stood up, avoiding looking at his manager, whose pale expression matched his own. “The concert starts at eight,” Leon said in the same even manner. “You will need more than half an hour.” “I will see you at seven-thirty,” Stratos said again and walked to the edge of the brightly lit stage. He jumped off it and headed towards the door, his shoulders aching from stiff rage that threatened to overthrow him in one furious lash-out. He gritted his teeth and left the hall without looking back. Leon stood still for a minute or two, alone in the grand hall, his expression unreadable. Finally, he blinked, and slowly walked towards the table that was sitting behind the door leading on stage. He looked at the big decanter on top of it – he would always keep this decanter here, making sure it was filled with water – and suddenly, he grabbed the heavy bottle and threw it into the wall. The decanter exploded with sharp glass and crystal water, and Leon stood still once again, breathing fast, staring at the broken, wet mess on the floor. **** Stratos walked outside and glanced at his car that was parked not too far from the building, silent snowflakes dancing on the dark windshield. He turned away from the car a second later, and started walking, feeling like he couldn’t even touch the steering wheel right now, everything around him shimmering with dull-red haze. He walked through thickening snow, feeling strangely comforted by it, and half an hour later, he was much calmer. “What the hell was that?” he thought with a frown, remembering silent rage that danced in Leon’s usually laughing brown eyes. “He is pissed at me for not answering the phone...? Strange way to take it out on someone...” He gritted his teeth, feeling the same dark anger that he finally tamed, to start waking up again, and stopped thinking about Leon, making his mind flash with a bright image of golden eyes. That did the trick, and anger inside him growled something half-heartedly and became dormant again. He made it to his house an hour later, thinking that snow made everything around him to look cleaner, as if it purified it somehow. He turned the doorknob, sighed when it wouldn’t budge, and found his keys in one of the pockets. He walked inside, kicked off his shoes, and pulled off his jacked that was soaked with melting snow. He started walking upstairs towards his bedroom, and suddenly thought: “This is too weird...” He blinked and slightly slowed down without letting go of the railing of the stairs. What was too weird...? Then he knew. This whole thing was too weird – him, feeling this way about Gemini, the strange, silent bond between them, the weird feeling that he knew the blond kelari for his entire life, the feeling that he had finally found the missing piece of himself... Hell, even sleeping in the same bed was weird – Stratos had never done that before; he wouldn’t even take toys into his bed when he was a kid. He tried sleeping with his stuffed bear once when he was six, and as a result, he couldn’t fall asleep until almost three in the morning, until he tossed the toy into the closet and slammed the door shut. Sleep came immediately after he did that. Last night, however, he felt completely opposite of his life-long habit – he had to have Gemini next to him; he had to feel his breath on his skin; he had to drink his pulse... He stopped in the middle of the stairs, blindly staring at one of the steps. Sure, he had heard of love at first sight, but come on...! Plus, he was sure that he didn’t fall for the blond kelari the minute he saw him. He was intrigued by him, curious, turned on, but that was it, nothing else. This was too weird, he thought again without looking away from the beige carpet on the steps of the stairs. Things like this don’t just happen; people don’t start feeling this way out of the blue, for no reason... It takes time to start feeling this way and definitely longer than three weeks in the same house and one night together. He resumed his slow walking, heading towards his bedroom again. He is going to figure this out, he thought with determination; he is going to put everything back where it belonged, to return everything to the same flawless, usual, comfortable pace; he is going to... ...unleash his rage onto anyone who would even touch Gemini if he didn’t want it, he nodded when he opened the door and walked into the bedroom. He looked at the perfect form sleeping on the bed, half-covered by the light blanket, drowning in its own golden hair, and all doubts, reasons, and rationalizing immediately flew out of the window, leaving behind nothing but the same feeling of strong bond; the feeling that made him realize that as long as they were together, everything was right with the world. Right and... “...perfect,” he said quietly and walked towards the bed, silently closing the door. **** Leon was still trying to figure out what the hell happened, and how, for that matter. There he was, two hours ago, completely alone on the brightly lit stage at 7:40 in the evening, with Stratos nowhere in sight, and not a single idea in his head on what to do next. Every single ticket to this particular concert had been sold – Stratos’ recent eccentricity (read: courting a goddamn whore) had attracted people better than a splash of honey would attract a cloud of flies, and the good, old-fashioned rumor mill proved itself to be a great sales pitch. Therefore, there was a crowd of people behind the locked doors; people who were getting more and more anxious about the fact that they couldn’t get to their seats in timely fashion – usually, the doors would be open at least half an hour before the concert. Leon knew that it was only a question of time (short time, for that matter) before ‘anxious’ would start turning into ‘pissed off,’ and since he didn’t have a slightest clue on the musician’s whereabouts, he was trying to think of the safest way out of the building, knowing that a pissed off crowd was rarely a civilized one. Then, at 7:43, right before Leon decided to make one last phone call to the nearest morgue (he was out of other ideas), there was Stratos, waltzing into the back door, somehow avoiding being noticed, calm as ever, completely content, and with that goddamn kelari in tow. Leon was so relieved that he didn’t even bother with “Are you bloody kidding me?” “I will tell them to wait until eight-thirty,” he said instead, meaning the audience behind the locked doors. “I’ll just say that there was some emergency, and hope to God that they buy it...!” “No need,” Stratos replied in a serene manner that made Leon silently grit his teeth. “Let them in.” “You have to warm up... You could never pull off cold hands,” Leon said quietly, doing his best to ignore that damn kelari – the mere sight of him made his teeth ache for more than just one reason – even though he had to admit (grudgingly so) that the golden hair looked striking against his all-black attire. Stratos gave him a smile that didn’t help the entire matter a single bit. “My hands are fine,” he said and walked towards the front row, never letting go of Gemini’s hand. “Choose one,” he said after looking at the dark-red velvet chairs. He let out another smile, this one aimed at Gemini, and Leon turned away, trying to tame his growing jealous rage. At first (three weeks ago), the very idea of getting jealous because of a kelari was ludicrous to say the least. After all, how can one be jealous of a sex doll? Well, by now, the idea was anything but ludicrous. When he saw Stratos’ expression earlier today (all glow, content, and pure satiation), and when he figured out the reason for that expression, his first impulse was to drive to Stratos’ house, grab that damn kelari, and smash his head on the wall until his skull cracked open. Stratos had never worn that expression when he was with Leon. He would look very satisfied but he would never glow. Stratos never knew that after he dumped Leon four years ago (something that to the other man felt like a very vivid nightmare for quite a while after it happened), Leon has never stopped loving him with the same heavy, dark, gnawing desperation as he did before. Ever since they got together for the very first time, Leon felt as if he completely lost his ability to care about anyone but the blue-eyed musician. He acted in his usual cool, professional manner, knowing that was the only way to act around Stratos, perfectly aware of his non-confrontational, avoiding ways. He knew that sooner or later, he would be able to return everything to the way it was four years ago; he knew that eventually, Stratos would succumb, even though just to avoid another confrontation. He knew that he could make him feel something again. He could make him care. Not rushing was the key; Leon would never rush something like this – he knew better. He had no problem with waiting – he had enough patience. So, everything was going the way it was supposed to go; everything was unraveling according to the plan, in a promising way, until Loreya decided to be a complete idiot, giving her brother that goddamn kelari as a birthday present. At first, Leon found the whole thing rather amusing, wondering how long Stratos would keep his new toy around – he knew that the musician could get bored with things quite quickly. The first red flag popped up on that Sunday night, three weeks ago, when Stratos all but kicked him out of the house, going batshit for no apparent reason. Leon decided to ignore his every single instinct (even though he should’ve known better by now – his instincts were rarely wrong, if ever) and blamed the incident on Stratos’ lack of sleep and copious amounts of stress. Well, a week or so later, it was obvious that stress had nothing to do with the whole picture, and neither did lack of sleep. To Leon’s disbelieving surprise, Stratos was treating that goddamn kelari as if he was an actual person and not just a reusable sex doll. “I would never force him into anything,” he said to Leon one of those days. “And I would never let anyone to do that.” That was the day when Leon felt a sharp stab of jealousy for the first time. He tried his best to ignore it in the beginning, figuring that Stratos’ new obsession wouldn’t last much longer, but then, after he realized that the other man hasn’t even touched that damn kelari yet (because apparently, it was something that thing didn’t want), he couldn’t ignore the feeling any longer. He didn’t want it? Leon couldn’t believe this. Stratos was never the type to care much about what someone else would’ve wanted – if he desired something, he would get it one way or another, Leon knew that from personal experience. Stratos wasn’t a type who would use a lot of force (in fact, the musician has never believed in force), but he could come up with quite a few very creative ways of getting what he wanted – the man was artistic in every meaning of the word. The fact that Stratos actually cared about what that kelari wanted, made Leon’s blood boil. Stratos’ glowing, content expression this afternoon was the last straw. Leon was perfectly aware that he was making a hell of a mistake unleashing on Stratos the way he did, but he couldn’t help it – it was as if someone else suddenly became in charge of his speaking abilities. By now – 7:45 in the evening – Leon has finally managed to get himself under control, figuring that he would deal with problems one by one, on the scale of importance. The upcoming disaster of a performance was definitely the bigger evil right now. The whole ‘strangle-that-goddamn-kelari’ thing could wait. He knew that this particular performance was going to be a complete and utter failure, and he feverishly hoped that it wouldn’t be enough to tank Stratos’ career. The fact that Gemini was sitting in the front row, which was immediately noticed by every single person in the audience, didn’t help a single bit. Leon closed his eyes in defeat when all the whispers and murmurs didn’t die off even when Stratos came out on stage – they grew louder instead. This was the end of it, Leon thought without opening his eyes. Stratos was done as a soloist, and Leon’s managing career was over as well. They were done, he thought, trying to figure out their next steps when Stratos started playing, and all of a sudden, every single whisper in the hall immediately cut off, just like that. Leon listened to the music, staring at the stage without blinking, and he realized that this particular performance was a different one – it stood several levels above everything Stratos had done up until now. Everything – every single chord, every single note – was simply perfect. Not just the precision, not just the brilliance (Stratos rarely missed the right notes), but this time, there was this strange, powerful aura that affected everyone in the audience. This time, there was breath behind the difficult passages and brilliant runs. This time, it was pure, unleaded inspiration that was bursting through the music, creating its own shapes and worlds. This time, there was life. Leon had no idea what the hell happened, and how, for that matter. The only things he knew were that the concert was a raging success, Stratos’ latest ‘eccentricity’ (and all the future ones) was forgiven, and that the reason for the musician’s unreal inspiration was sitting in the front row with its back rigidly straight and its hands clasped tightly in its lap. Leon felt dizzy when a sudden, powerful desire to lock his fingers around that long neck and squeeze it until it snapped, hit him without any warning. He felt his fingers twitch involuntarily, and that was when the last chord finally died off in the air, and several silent seconds later, the entire hall exploded with applause. He joined in and felt another hateful jolt when Stratos’ eyes lingered on the front row a little bit too long, making him realize that this was what would happen from now on – Stratos would bring that goddamn kelari to his every single performance. “I don’t think I can handle it for too long,” he thought and plastered a smile on his face, never stopping his applause. “I know I can’t handle it for too long...” Applause finally started to come down, and he took a deep breath and quickly walked backstage, figuring that he would deal with this later when he was alone. Right now, there was the after-party he had to concentrate on – he had to make sure everything was under control. After a performance like this one, the after-party perfection was a must.
  12. - VI - They got back to the house without exchanging another word, and after Stratos smoothly drove the car into the garage, Gemini slid out of the passenger’s seat without looking at him or saying anything. Stratos wouldn’t say anything as well, and after they walked into the house, there was Rose, pink and anxious, her hands clasped in front of her. “Oh...” she said when she saw them and briefly closed her eyes without saying anything else. Stratos almost heard the rest of the sentence – “...thank God...!” but he didn’t say anything after Rose straightened up and cleared her throat. “It’s after eight in the evening already; see you Monday morning,” Stratos said quietly, and she nodded without looking away from the golden hair that managed to shine even without any sunlight. “Break a leg tomorrow night...” she muttered, and he sighed. “I would,” he nodded. “...but I am not an actor...” He smiled when he caught her confused glance. “Thanks, Rose,” he said softly, and she nodded and reached for her coat that was hanging on the back of the nearby chair. Both of them – Stratos and Gemini – were identically silent until Rose stepped out of the house, closing the door behind her. Stratos let out a sigh and pulled off his jacket, throwing it on the chair. “I don’t know about you,” he said. “...but I could definitely use some hot coffee right now...” He headed towards the kitchen, aware of the light, hesitant footsteps behind him. He got a bag of coffee out of one of the cabinets and reached for a spoon, briefly glancing at the silent coffeemaker, making sure it had enough water. That seemed to be the case and he grabbed the spoon and untied the bag. “What?” he asked after he started the coffeemaker, noting that Gemini was looking at him with a strange expression in his golden eyes. “What?” he said again when the blond kelari wouldn’t reply. “Gemini, what...” He didn’t finish the question, as Gemini suddenly stepped closer, and the next thing Stratos knew, there were warm, trembling lips hesitantly caressing his mouth. His eyes slowly closed and he returned the kiss, making sure he wasn’t too harsh. He wrapped his arms around the slender body in front of him and slid one of his hands upwards, drowning his fingers in the golden hair. He felt the suddenly stiffened shoulders and pulled away with a small frown. Gemini’s eyes flew wide open when his mouth was free all of a sudden. “Why?” Stratos asked quietly, and the blond kelari just blinked at that, saying nothing. “Why?” Stratos repeated in the same quiet voice. “Because you feel obligated...?” Gemini slowly shook his head, making one of the damp from snow strands of hair slide over his eye as usual. “Then why?” Stratos wouldn’t look away. There was a long, silent pause, interrupted by content, whirling purring of the coffeemaker. “Because I want to...” Gemini finally said very softly, almost inaudibly. Stratos looked at him for several silent seconds, and then he leaned closer and found those warm, trembling lips with his mouth. They kissed for several minutes, and then Gemini suddenly slid out of Stratos’ mouth, and the other man shivered when he felt a feathery touch of warm lips and tongue on his neck. He closed his eyes, caressing the soft golden hair, and let out a small exhale when there were quick fingers undoing the buttons on his shirt. He let out an almost inaudible moan when he felt that warm, silky tongue slide down his chest in quick, feather-like strokes. He exhaled louder when the silk of the tongue suddenly wrapped around one of his nipples, doing something that made him shiver head to toe. “Holy hell...” he thought hazily. “He is perfect...” He opened his eyes when he felt hands slowly gliding down his chest, towards his hips, and straightened up when the same quick fingers started flawlessly undoing his belt buckle. He let out another quick exhale and grabbed Gemini’s shoulders, pulling him up. “Not in here...” he muttered when he caught a silent golden question. He grinned breathlessly. “At least, not yet,” he added and easily lifted the slender body in front of him off the floor. Gemini’s arms slowly wrapped around Stratos’ neck when the other man started caressing his mouth once again. He closed his eyes and let his legs to slide up and circle around Stratos’ waist. Stratos slowly walked towards the bedroom without letting go of the trembling mouth, and Gemini felt as if he was swimming in a crazy whirlpool of something that felt completely alien to him. It felt like there was something huge building up inside him, making his heart thump wildly, making him tremble without unlocking his arms and legs around the other man’s body. He felt like he would explode if that huge something built up any more. He had no idea how to let it out, and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to. He opened his eyes when he felt Stratos lowering him onto the bed and let his legs to slide off the other man’s waist, keeping his arms in the same tight circle. He relaxed that tight ring after a minute or so, letting his hands to slide down Stratos’ chest once again, making his slow way to that belt buckle. “Not yet...” Stratos muttered and caught one of his wrists with his hand. “You first...” He started undoing the buttons on the black shirt, and then noticed that it was ripped rather badly. He sighed, shrugged to himself, and left the buttons alone, simply lifting the shirt up and pulling it over Gemini’s head. He marveled at the pale, shallow breathing chest in front of him, and leaned closer, aiming for that mesmerizing mouth. He slid out of it unexpectedly a minute or so later, and Gemini let out a startled, somewhat loud exhale when he felt lips caressing his neck, sliding downwards, making him shiver even more. He made a strange, muffled sound when he felt those lips dive into the small hollow spot between his collar bones, and Stratos immediately took advantage of his reaction, pressing his mouth harder against that spot, letting his tongue draw slow circles on the smooth, warm skin. Gemini squeezed his eyes shut when those circles made his throat to bubble with threatening to escape breathless sounds. He would never make any sounds before; he could always control that. It didn’t matter how much pain would be delivered – he would be able to keep himself dead-silent. Right now, however, it felt completely different, and he realized that he couldn’t control his own throat as well as he thought he could. He let out a very small “Aah...!” when he felt his slacks sliding off. He automatically raised his hips without even thinking about it, feeling like he had to be freed from the prison of his clothes, and the sooner, the better. “Nngh...!” he said louder than before and threw his head back when he felt a slow, sliding, stroking touch along his suddenly hard, throbbing length. “Nngh...!” he said again when the touch grew firmer, circling around the very top, caressing some incredibly sensitive spot on the underside. He felt like he was about to explode from whatever it was building up inside him, when suddenly, he felt his knees being pushed apart. He instinctively squeezed them together for a few seconds, and then bit his lip and made himself to relax. Stratos slid upwards, finding his mouth with his lips once again, his fingers slowly stroking silky skin on the inner side of one of the knees. “I am not going to hurt you...” he murmured, and Gemini opened his eyes. “I am not going to hurt you...” Stratos said again, a little louder. “I would never hurt someone so...” He paused and slowly ran his fingertip along one ideal eyebrow. “...perfect,” he finished in the lower murmur, and Gemini hesitantly moved his legs slightly wider apart. He closed his eyes and bit his lip when he felt a warm, slick finger slowly circling his entrance, pushing in just slightly. He threw his head sideways with a small, startled inhale when the finger suddenly slid all the way in. “I am not going to hurt you...” Stratos said once more without looking away from the flushed face twisted into a small grimace. Gemini pressed his lips tighter when the finger began its slow, gentle thrusts. He frowned even deeper without opening his eyes when he felt another digit to slide inside him, dreadfully ready for stinging, burning pain that would always be the main priority in this process. Stratos leaned closer and started placing small, fluttering kisses on the side of the rigid neck, watching the frowned expression without blinking, his hand keeping its slow, steady pace. He knew exactly what he was looking for and where to find it, but he was slightly surprised when he found it quicker than he thought – it turned out to be incredibly easy. “Perfect...” he thought again, and began another series of thrusts, curling his fingers just a little, changing the angle, aiming for that easy, simple find. He felt the tip of his finger brush against it, and all of a sudden, Gemini all but flew off the bed with a startled gasp, his eyes exploding wide open, a cascade of golden hair spilling all over the pillow as he turned his head sharply. “Better, huh...?” Stratos grinned breathlessly when he met a huge, disbelieving golden stare. “Nngh...!!” This sound came out louder than the ones before when Stratos’ fingers increased the strength of their thrusts. Stratos watched the helplessly opening mouth, golden eyes rolling backwards, hands twisting into desperate fists while mindlessly grabbing the dark sheets, and the only thought on his mind was, “Perfect...” He noticed that the slender hips underneath him started pushing upwards, matching the rhythm of his hand. They were hesitant at first, as if Gemini had no idea what he was doing and why, but a few minutes later, the movements started to become bolder and stronger, the slim hips impaling themselves on quickening fingers, demanding more. Stratos obliged and increased the speed and strength of his thrusts, feeling his own excitement building up inside him dangerously fast, the mere sight of the pale, perfect body driving him to the edge he had no desire to reach yet. “Not yet...” he thought and bit his lip without slowing down his hand. He forced his waves to go down, locking them behind the chained fence of his willpower. The fence didn’t feel too strong, but it wasn’t too flimsy either. It would do for now, he thought and let go of his lip when he felt small, fluttering contractions hugging his fingers with uncertain hesitance. “So close...” he thought without looking away from the perfect features. Suddenly, Gemini opened his eyes, his eyelashes trembling as if he was trying to blink out tears. “What...” he muttered in a shaky voice. “What... What is...” His eyes rolled backwards once again. “Oooh...! Stratos, what...” Stratos leaned closer once more and placed a quick lick on the corner of the trembling mouth. “You are about to come...” he murmured, and swallowed another ‘Oooh...!’ noting that the contractions started to become stronger. “You are about to come...” he said again, making his fingers curl a little more and delivering stronger rubbing thrusts, lingering on that easy find a little longer each time. “Just like this...” he whispered and placed another quick lick on the corner of the mesmerizing mouth. “Perfect...” “What...” Gemini stuttered, his breath escaping his throat with small whimpers. “What... Wh... Wh...” His eyes flew wide open just so they could roll backwards yet again. “Oh my God...” he said in an unexpectedly low voice, and his whole body suddenly stiffened up. “Ah-haah...!” was the last thing to come out of his mouth before his entire slim frame convulsed with maddening force, and Stratos felt the chaos of wild contractions attacking his fingers with desperate, hurried hugs. “Perfect...” Stratos mouthed yet again without looking away from the ideal sight underneath him. He ran the palm of his other hand up and down the jerking, still exploding length, and Gemini let out a sob-like moan when those quick strokes made the wave to grow even bigger, robbing him out of breath completely. Stratos watched the raw pleasure convulsing on the dark sheets, spilling shamelessly all over, it seemed, and he thought that it was the most incredible sight he has ever seen. He kept watching for the next several long minutes, swallowing every single movement with his eyes. Finally, the convulsions started to disappear, and Gemini’s body began to relax. He uncurled his tight fists without opening his eyes, making small, barely audible ‘Oh... Oh... Oh...’ sounds every time another breath would escape his throat. Stratos finally freed his hand from the tight trap of Gemini’s body and placed a light, slow kiss on the slightly opened mouth. Gemini let out a breathless, weak laughter, his eyes still squeezed shut. “I finally get it...” he muttered softly. “I finally get it...” “Mmm?” Stratos said without pulling away. “I finally understand...” came another whispering reply, and this time, Stratos raised his head. “Understand what?” he asked with slight confusion, and Gemini smiled again without opening his eyes. “I finally understand why this is such a big deal...” he said in a low voice. “I finally get it...” Stratos blinked at that, and then frowned when he silently repeated those words in his head. “You finally understand why this is such a big deal?” he said very slowly, and Gemini let out a small sigh. “Uh huh...” he nodded weakly, a smile curving his mouth. Stratos frowned deeper. “Hold on...” he said a few seconds later. “Hold on... Are you telling me this was the first orgasm in your entire life...?” Gemini slightly opened his eyes, that smile still playing with his lips. “Is that what it’s called...?” he muttered lazily and smiled wider. “And yes, it was...” he closed his eyes again. “How is that even possible?” Stratos asked a minute later, his expression almost stunned. “I mean...” he continued after catching a puzzled look of the golden eyes. “Haven’t you ever had a wet dream...?” “Wet dream...?” Gemini muttered, his eyebrows creeping slightly closer to each other in a confused frown. “I guess it’s possible that you would have them while you were deeply asleep...” Stratos muttered mostly to himself without explaining the meaning of the words. “...and after you woke up, you would forget all about them...” He looked at the flushed face seriously. “I guess it’s possible...” he nodded slowly. “Weird, but possible... But even with wet dreams aside...” he frowned slightly. “Haven’t you ever... I don’t know...” he paused for a few seconds. “...experimented with your body...?” he finally finished, and Gemini’s expression suddenly tightened. He closed his eyes and slightly turned his head to the right. “No,” he said shortly after a minute. “My body had been experimented with enough...” he paused. “I didn’t need more,” he finished in a softer voice, and Stratos frowned deeper, this time, darker. They were both silent for a minute or so, Stratos’ finger absent-mindedly tracing those twisted, tight eyebrows. “And neither one of...” Stratos paused for a second. “...those people...” he continued slowly. “...neither one of them had ever brought you to climax?” Gemini shook his head without opening his eyes. Stratos wouldn’t look away from his silent face. “Not even by accident?” he asked quietly, and Gemini shook his head again. “No,” he answered softly. “But it’s so easy to make you come...” Stratos whispered, and Gemini finally opened his eyes. He sighed and lay still for a minute or so, a hesitant expression shadowing the gold behind his eyelashes. Finally, he sighed again and slightly rolled onto his side without looking away from Stratos’ blue eyes. “Those...” He hesitated for a few silent seconds. “...people...” he continued slowly without looking away. “They weren’t exactly into...” He stopped talking again. “They weren’t exactly into making me feel good,” he finished as slowly as before. “In fact, almost all of them made sure it never happened...” “Why?” Stratos whispered, his hand locked tightly on the long, slim fingers, and Gemini sighed again. “It made them feel good,” he shrugged. “They were in charge...” He paused once again. “Made them feel powerful, I suppose... Plus...” He let out a tiny smile. “Pretty much all of them would get angry with me sooner or later...” He smiled again, his fingers curling around Stratos’ hand almost unconsciously. “And when you are angry with someone, you don’t really feel like pleasuring them,” he shrugged without looking away. “Angry...?” Stratos repeated, his eyes darker than before. “Yeah...” Gemini said softly. “All of them wanted to hear me scream...” He slightly frowned and looked at the sheets for a second or two, his expression thoughtful. “It was the only thing I wouldn’t do... The only thing they couldn’t make me do...” He slowly shifted his gaze towards the blue eyes again. “But for some reason, it was the only thing that mattered the most,” he said softly, his expression calm. “They wanted to hear me scream... And when I wouldn’t...” He shrugged. “...they would get angry,” he finished with the same serene look in his eyes. They were silent for a few minutes, and then Stratos leaned closer, slowly sliding one of his hands upwards and tangling his fingers in the golden disarray of hair. He started placing slow, lingering kisses on the slender neck in front of him, loving the quickening pulse that trembled against his lips. “I want to hear you scream...” he whispered, and the body underneath him immediately became rigid. He raised his head and met a huge, disbelieving stare. The gold of the eyes was diluted with fear and confusion. He leaned closer again. “Not from pain...” He said seriously and swallowed a quick exhale. “Never from pain,” he said as seriously. “I want to hear you scream because you can’t hold it back anymore, because you have to let it out, because that’s what you want... Want to hear you scream; preferably my name...” Fear slowly crept out of the golden eyes, and Stratos let out a small, quick smile when there was a tentative whisper. “Stratos...” “Yeah...” He muttered and drank more breath from the perfect mouth in front of him. “Like that...” “Stratos...” He let out a sharp exhale of his own when he felt a delightful hardness rubbing against his hip. “Mmm...” he muttered in a low voice and shifted slightly, creating just enough friction to solicit another trembling, quick breath to slide down his throat. “That was quick... Perfect recovery...” He impatiently moved his shoulders, getting rid of the unbuttoned shirt, aware of the fact that the inner fence of his was becoming flimsier by the second, and slid one of his hands towards his own hips. He blinked several times with dumbfounded disbelief when his palm found nothing but bare skin instead of the rough material of his jeans. He raised his head. “How did you do that...?” He muttered, and Gemini gave him a small smile without saying anything. “I never even felt it...” He received another small smile, and let out one of his own, lowering his head and diving into the warmth of the ideal mouth once again. This felt like the most exquisite musical masterpiece ever, he thought suddenly. The thought came from nowhere, simply floating through his head, leaving behind a strange shimmer of an unborn melody. He slightly shifted on top of the slender, responsive body, starting to work his fingers once again, and blinked quickly when all of a sudden, his hand was impatiently brushed away. He raised his head and looked into the gold of the eyes, his eyebrows slightly raised. He got a quick, trembling nod, slightly bitten lip, and a huge, silent ‘Please...!’ He nodded also, slowly, without looking away, his hand caressing the smooth, warm skin, sliding downwards. A shimmering trail of random notes in his head suddenly started to become clearer and more precise. It wasn’t just a leftover anymore; it was a birth of a new beginning, sudden and crystal-clear, stirring, and stretching, and binding, and... He felt himself drawing slick, slow, teasing circles around the tantalizing entrance without sliding in, and the melody immediately responded with several shimmering augmented fourths that made him ache for resolution that he didn’t get. He let out a strangled moan when the same impatient hands suddenly trembled down his sides, aiming for the back of his hips, and the body underneath him bucked upwards without any warning. He sank all the way in, feeling like an impossibly tight, smooth glove wrapped around him with breathless heat, and the melody let out a sudden crescendo, smoothly migrating into the bright dominant key, making his back arch. Then there was rhythm – slow, steady, powerful as hell rhythm, making both of them shudder at the same time, causing the melody to build up several chords, each one of them bigger than the one before, bright, clear, and incredibly precise. He didn’t even have to look for the right angle – he knew where to aim, the melody leading him with a series of sforzandos, accenting all the right notes, and lingering on the one he was looking for, making the body underneath him to buck upwards once again, and creating a sudden, breathless ‘Ohh-ahhh...!’ that made the melody to make a wide, unexpected loop that froze for a second in a long fermata. He wasn’t thinking about the music – it was simply there, rocking both of them, making very clear, perfect sense. Perfect... Everything right now was perfect – their arms circling each other, creating a strange, immaculate clef; their rhythm that kept its steady, slow beat; their breathing that weaved itself into that maddening crescendo that wouldn’t give up... One of the slender legs made its way around his waist, and the rhythm started changing with an unyielding accelerando that both of them didn’t stand a chance to resist, following it obediently, giving into that specific rush that made everything around them to lose its importance; everything but that rhythm, accelerando, and unstoppable, merciless melody that kept unraveling, charging to its climax, having no desire to slow down or to wait for anything. He knows this melody, Stratos realized suddenly, recognition rising slowly from the beautiful haze that was traveling all over the circle of fifths in his head right now. He knows this melody... How...? Where from...? He didn’t know; he didn’t care; and it was eating him alive at the same time. He locked his gaze on the golden eyes that wouldn’t look away from him, feeling that somehow, there was this strange, unbreakable bond between them; the kind of a bond that creates itself impudently, without any regard to anything else; a bond that doesn’t give a damn about reason or thought. It was there, and he knew that. They both did. How...? He had no idea, and he didn’t care. The rhythm made an insane, final accelerando, making both of their throats produce strange, almost begging sounds at the same time, and Stratos locked his hands tighter on the slender, warm, trembling fingers he just realized he was holding onto this entire time, stretching their arms above their heads, digging into the pillows. The melody howled with an impossible crescendo, making that insane rhythm to freeze for several seconds in its paused, shaking fermata, and then it exploded with bright, blinding G-minor, returning to its original key, after traveling all over the circle of fifths, making both of them buck wildly into each other, while unconsciously screaming out: “Gem...!” “Stratos...!” They screamed that out at the same time without even noticing it, and then the melody became nothing but a pulsating, contracting climax, driving itself mad with the reflecting harmonies and powerful echoes, making both of them shudder with sweet, agonizing desperation, never letting go of each other’s hands, smashing their arching bodies even closer together, tuning out the world beyond the tight circle of their heat... The melody started slowly fading away after its exploding, completely insane climax, making both of them able to breathe again, making both of them somewhat coherent, returning their sight... The rhythm lost its demented accelerando, slowly snaking its slithery tail into the shadows of a welcomed diminuendo, hiding into a series of quick breaths, small moans, and fermatas of long, unblinking glances. The final good-bye chords rolled through subdominant, making their way into a suddenly bright, after-echo-ing dominant key, and then they came to a peaceful, perfect ending, leaving behind nothing but breaths and fulfilled emptiness. Stratos dropped his head into the perfect shoulder underneath him, tightly pressing his mouth against the racing pulse beyond the smooth skin without letting go of the trembling fingers in his grasp, and without lowering their arms. Ever since he was a kid, he had to sleep alone. Had to. Right now, however, it felt almost blasphemous to do so. Up until now, he would not get a wink of sleep if there was someone in his room, let alone his bed. Right now, he felt as if he wouldn’t be able to close his eyes if Gemini wasn’t right next to him. “You are not going anywhere...” he muttered without raising his head or opening his eyes, and the trembling fingers wrapped around his in a slow squeeze, saying a long, silent ‘yes.’ They let out eerily identical long, satisfied exhales, and then they fell asleep without even trying to do so. Right before he slid into the tantalizing, dark velvet of nothingness, Stratos suddenly realized where he knew that haunting melody from; suddenly, he knew. It was the same melody he was improvising (“Was it improvising...?”) earlier today. The same melody Leon referred to as ‘disturbingly beautiful.’ He never finished it, interrupted by Leon’s voice and messing up a seemingly-perfect chord; he had no clue about the way it would unravel and how it would end. Right now, however, he knew exactly how everything would happen. He knew it, he heard it, he felt it tingling in his fingertips, and some weird, huge anticipation rolled over him in a bizarre, dark wave. He slightly turned his head, pressing his face tighter into the warm skin of the slender neck underneath him, his lips drinking that calming pulse, and suddenly, the melody didn’t matter anymore. Nothing mattered. He fell asleep, knowing that Gemini did the same, his pulse echoing Stratos’ own, dissolving in his mouth like some fresh, sparkling stream. Nothing mattered. Everything was simply perfect.
  13. - V - Gemini always liked reading. He wouldn’t get to do that too often, just as he wouldn’t get to do anything that he liked. Right now, for the first time in his entire life, he felt like he has been living in a dream, and he feverishly hoped that it was not indeed the case. The crippling, nauseating fear that gnawed at him for the first several days in the big house, slowly crept away, and he realized that he was finally able to enjoy days, instead of waiting for them to end. For the first time in his life, he felt safe. He was reading one of the thick historical volumes for the last couple of hours, immersed into facts and events that unraveled on the pages of the book. He was so lost in his own world that he didn’t even realize that someone came into the house. He realized that as soon as a sudden shadow fell onto the book in his hands, covering the pages. He jerked and looked up. Then he frowned. “Loreya...” he muttered, feeling strangely uneasy as he always did whenever Stratos’ sister came to the house. Then again, come to think of it, he would feel uneasy around everyone. Everyone but Stratos and lately, Rose. The tall brunette narrowed her eyes, a dark shadow running over her sharp features. “It’s ‘madam Loreya’ to you,” she said in a low voice. “I don’t take any of my brother’s nonsense...” She paused for a few seconds, looking at him with badly hidden disgust. “Get up,” she said finally, and Gemini blinked and slowly stood up, closing the book and putting it on the arm of the chair. Loreya took a small step back, making sure she wasn’t standing too close to him, as if afraid that he had some highly contagious disease. “I talked to Stratos,” she said in the same low voice, and Gemini frowned at that. “I agreed to do him a favor,” she continued without looking away. “He didn’t want to deal with this himself; not this close to the performance... It’s too important,” she slightly nodded without changing her expression. “He wanted me to give you a message...” She paused and looked at him as if expecting something. “A message...” he muttered, not sure where this was heading. “Yes,” she nodded again. “He is sick and tired of having a whore in his house for the past three weeks...” His eyes widened at that in painful disbelief. “...so he wants you to get out and not even think of coming back,” she continued, mildly satisfied with his expression. “He wants you out before he comes back home today... Here...” She put one of her hands into her purse and dug in there for a minute without looking down. Finally, the hand emerged from the purse with a small stack of bills in its fingers. “This should be enough for you to survive the first few days,” she said. “After that...” She let out a small smile. “I am sure you will find a way to support yourself... Take it!” She threw the money in his face and he jerked as if she just slapped him. “I am going to go wash my hands now,” she said after the money fell on the floor in a broken pile. “When I come back...” She took a pause. “...you will be gone,” she finished with another nod. She turned around without saying anything else and headed towards the bathroom, feeling relieved and satisfied. Family name is the most important thing, she thought while turning on the faucets. Stratos doesn’t see it for some reason, but she is not going to let him stain it anymore. “He’ll thank me later,” she muttered and looked in the mirror. Her reflection silently agreed with her, and she smiled and turned off the faucets. “It was my mistake...” she said softly while drying her hands on the towel. “...and I fixed it!” She turned off the lights and left the bathroom, heading back towards the living room. She let out a small smile when she saw that it was empty. Then she walked closer to the chair that still had the book on its arm, and tutted with annoyance. The small pile of bills that she threw at that whorish kelari was still on the floor, untouched. She rolled her eyes and lowered herself on one knee, picking up the money. “A proud whore...” she snorted to herself after she got all the bills. “Cute,” she nodded and stood up, putting the money back in her purse. **** He slowly walked through thickening snow, trying to ignore the chilling wind and cold snowflakes that kept sneaking down his thin shirt, clinging to the skin with stubborn freeze. It was Stratos’ shirt that he was wearing – his own was ruined three weeks ago, that Sunday night when Leon tore it open. And even though he had plenty of clothes now (Stratos took care of that a while ago), he would always prefer one of the musician’s shirts to his own. He sighed and shoved his hands deeper into his pockets, pulling his head into his shoulders, hoping it would make him at least a little warmer. It didn’t work and he let out another sigh and slightly straightened up, blinking snowflakes out of his eyelashes. It was a dream after all, he thought numbly. He thought he was prepared for such turn of events – he would always be prepared for worse, never letting himself to relax enough to start building hopes and make plans every time something good happened to him, which wasn’t a lot. He could come up with maybe four examples, and two of them happened when he was eight, when his mother was still alive. He thought he was prepared, and was surprised to feel dull, aching pain somewhere deep inside him. The pain wasn’t physical; it was the other kind – the kind that was much worse. Physical pain was nothing new; he was used to that. Physical pain would go away eventually; it would stop sooner or later. This kind of pain, however... He gritted his teeth and pushed the thoughts away, frowning tightly when he felt burning behind his eyelids. He is not going to cry; not anymore. He blindly walked through the snow, having no idea where he was heading. Finally, several hours later, he stopped when he realized that he came to the gate of a small park. He looked around and noticed something that looked like a gazebo. Gazebos usually had roofs, so it would protect him from snow. He would still be cold, but at least, he wouldn’t have to deal with those damn snowflakes anymore. He started walking again, heading towards that gazebo, his forehead still wrinkled with the same tight frown. He made it to the gazebo in several minutes and was relieved when he saw that it indeed had a roof. He stepped inside and sat down on the edge of the bench, after brushing snow off it with the palm of his hand. His hand immediately got wet and prickly-cold. He sat down and put both hands under his armpits, hating the fact that he started shaking uncontrollably. It will stop sooner or later, he thought and closed his eyes. The snow will stop, and the sun will come out eventually. Yeah, that or maybe he’ll catch pneumonia and die in some ditch, he thought gloomily. Not that it would be the worst thing that could happen... He sat still for the next fifteen minutes or so, grateful for a roof above his head, when suddenly, there was a loud and slightly amused: “And what do we have here?” He stopped breathing for a second or two, his panic-mode immediately kicking itself into gear. He knew this particular tone of voice; it never promised anything good. He opened his eyes and slowly raised his head. The man who spoke to him let out a low whistle the minute he saw his eyes. “I’ll be damned...” he said slowly when Gemini stared at him, unable to blink. “A kelari... Holy hell, this is my lucky day...!” The man seemed to be in his late twenties, maybe early thirties. He wasn’t too tall, but was nicely built, looking lean and strong even with the thick jacket that he was wearing. Gemini’s eyes darted around. The man wasn’t alone, he realized. There were three other guys with him. His heart sank when he recognized that identically-specific look every single one of them had – he has seen that look too many times before; he knew it well. Pneumonia sounded like a great deal right now. “What are you doing freezing on this bench, biscuit?” the man asked him with a grin. He cocked his head to the right. “Your lips are turning blue, and that’s a shame, since your lips are exquisite...” Gemini slowly stood up, hoping to slip out of the gazebo and get lost in thick snow. The man tutted and grabbed his shoulder. “Dear God...” he frowned for a second. “You are frozen solid, it feels...! What were you thinking wearing this piece of crap on a day like this?” He slightly tugged on the collar of his shirt. “People die from shit like that, you know... Come on,” he tightened his grip. “Let’s warm you up...” “No,” Gemini muttered and tried pulling away, knowing that his efforts would be futile. “I am fine... I’ll just go...” The man rolled his eyes and yanked him closer to himself. “Move it, biscuit,” he said without a smile this time. “Stop being coy; you will ruin my mood! See...” he jerked Gemini’s shoulder harder, forcing him to take another shaky step forward. “I am in a good mood right now, which is a really good thing, especially for you,” he nodded energetically. “Yeah,” one of the other guys said seriously. “You wouldn’t like him when he is pissed...” “Words of wisdom,” the man nodded as energetically. “So, for your own sake, start moving and do what you are told, and everything will turn out just peachy...! If you are good...” Here he gave Gemini a startlingly toothy smile. “I might even consider keeping you around a bit longer... I might even agree not to share you,” he shrugged. “Oh, bull!” one of the guys said rather loudly, with a shadow of anger. The man shot him a quick, warning look, and the guy stopped talking, tightly pressing his lips. “Be good,” the man continued. “...and I will feed you and keep you warm. Come on!” Gemini jerked backwards unexpectedly hard, and the man’s hand slid off his shoulder. The blond kelari tried getting out of the gazebo, but he slammed into one of the wide wooden beams of the structure instead. He pressed his back into that beam and bit his lip. The man let out an exasperated sigh. “Oh, biscuit...” he said in a low voice. “Should’ve taken me seriously... The offer still stands, by the way,” he added after a second or two and stretched out his arm, moving his fingers in a quick, impatient beckoning gesture. “No...?” he narrowed his eyes a few seconds later, when Gemini tried to melt into the beam that was pressing against his back. “Okay...” he sighed and shrugged. “My mood is now officially ruined, congratulations!” He grabbed the collar of the black, thin shirt and pulled it hard. “Another one gone...” Gemini thought numbly when he heard a dry sound of ripping material. He blinked when the man suddenly stepped closer, pressing himself into Gemini’s body. He tried moving away, but the man wouldn’t let him, snaking one of his hands behind his shoulders and firmly grabbing the back of his neck. “Last chance to be good...” the man said quietly, his face so close to Gemini’s that their lips were almost touching. “Seal the deal with a kiss...” He got even closer, his breath making Gemini lightheaded. It smelled like a mix of strong coffee and menthol cigarettes. He jerked, but this time, it was much weaker, the beam biting into his back, the man’s fingers digging into his neck. “No...” he muttered, surprising himself. They wouldn’t do anything new to him; they wouldn’t do anything he hadn’t experienced before – that was for sure. He knew from personal experience that if he kept resisting, it would make all of them angrier, which would double the pain – resistance was always punished. Sometimes, worse than expected. He also knew that he would never be able to shake even one man off him, let alone all four of them. Not resisting would make this whole thing end sooner; it was a logical choice. If there is nothing you can do to change the situation, then just deal with it. It would be over sooner and with lesser pain. He jerked again, in spite of the only logical choice it seemed he had, hitting the back of his head on the cold beam. “No...” he said louder and closed his eyes when the man let out a disappointed sigh that immediately made him nauseous. “Dammit, biscuit,” the man said almost bitterly. “Why does it have to be this way?” He sighed again. “Well, have at it, I guess...” He threw a quick glance at the guys behind him, causing several cheers. He let out yet another sigh and looked at Gemini again. “Hey,” he said and Gemini slightly opened his eyes. “At least you will be warm,” the man nodded seriously and placed an unkind, harsh nibble on the side of the pale, cold neck. Why does everyone want to bite him? What is it about him that makes people want to tear him apart with their teeth? He had no idea. “Stratos...” he whispered without even realizing it, and the man who almost pulled away, suddenly froze in his spot. “What did you just say?” he asked slowly and threw his hand back in a warning gesture, making the other three guys stop with frustrated confusion, causing low grumbling from all of them. He ignored that. “What did you just say?” he repeated, and Gemini slightly opened his eyes again. The man stared at him without blinking, his expression disbelieving. “Did you just say...” he began when all of a sudden, there was a loud and very pissed off: “Jamie! What the hell are you doing?!” The man stopped breathing for a few seconds, his expression dumbfounded. “I’ll be damned...” he muttered finally and turned his head without letting go of the back of Gemini’s neck. “Get lost!” one of the guys snorted loudly, and then he let out an annoyed, angry sigh. “Are you deaf?” he demanded and took several steps forward. The grip immediately slid off Gemini’s neck and he found that he could breathe again. “No!” the man who was holding him a few seconds earlier screamed out almost desperately, and the guy came to a screeching halt. “No!” he said again and walked towards the puzzled man. “Back!” Jamie said shortly, and forcefully pushed the guy in the chest, making him stagger backwards. “Jamie...” one of the other two men said slowly and dumbfoundedly. “Jamie, what...” “Shut up!” Jamie snarled and turned his head. “Stratos...” he said in a quieter manner, and Gemini’s eyes flew wide open. “What in the bloody hell are you doing?” Stratos (it was indeed him) said slowly, his expression promising absolutely nothing good. Jamie’s eyes darted towards Gemini whose back was still pressing tightly into the wooden beam. “I see...” he muttered and looked at Stratos again. “I didn’t know,” he said with an apologetic shadow in his voice. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know...!” “Jamie...” one of the guys stepped closer. “What the...” “I said shut up!” Jamie whirled around and shoved the man away hard, making him lose his balance and smack into an old tree that wasn’t too far from the gazebo. Stratos took a deep, slow breath and closed his eyes for a few seconds. “Did you...” he started saying very dangerously when he opened them, and Jamie immediately interrupted him. “No,” he quickly shook his head. “Nothing...” He paused. “I didn’t do anything...” Stratos took another deep breath. “Try to remember what he looks like,” he said quietly. “Next time you see him around...” “...I will be his guard dog...” Jamie nodded slowly without looking away. Stratos looked at him for a long second, and then he shifted his gaze and walked towards Gemini who suddenly couldn’t breathe again. He stretched out his hand. “Come on,” he said quietly, and Gemini looked at that hand for a few seconds, and then he hesitantly wrapped his fingers around it. “You are freezing,” Stratos said in the same quiet manner. He took off his jacket and wrapped Gemini into it, pulling him closer. They slowly started walking, and Stratos paused for a second when they were next to Jamie. “Train your pets,” he said without raising his voice, and Jamie nodded without saying anything and ignoring the low, mildly-angry growling behind his back. He looked at Gemini. “Damn, biscuit...” he said softly, and stopped talking when Stratos walked away, Gemini wrapped in his jacket. He watched them become invisible behind the thick curtain of snow, and his expression was very thoughtful. “Jamie,” one of the guys behind his back said with uncertain anger. “What the hell was that? Some rich dipshit shows up, and all of a sudden, you are willing to lick his...” He stopped talking the minute he saw Jamie’s eyes. “He is not just some rich dipshit,” Jamie said with restraint. “That was Stratos Gregorio; I owe that man everything I have...” He paused for a few seconds and closed his eyes. “Never mind,” he said evenly after he opened them. “Next time I say ‘Stop,’ do exactly that...” He looked at his companions with a long, heavy glance. “Otherwise...” He didn’t finish the sentence, but all three guys suddenly became very quiet, trying to avoid his gaze. Jamie nodded, mostly to himself. “Let’s go,” he said shortly and stepped out of the gazebo, heading towards the gate of the park. The guys followed him without saying a single word. **** “Why did you leave?” Stratos asked quietly when he drove into the main road, the heater humming softly, rolling warm air around the car. Gemini stared at his hands. “Because of what my sister said?” Stratos threw a quick glance at him, noting the locked jaw. “What did she say, by the way?” he asked a second later. Gemini looked out of the window. “She said...” he paused for a second. “She said that you were sick and tired of having...” He stuttered slightly. “...of having me in your house,” he finished slowly. “She said that you wanted me to get out before you came back home...” He wouldn’t look away from the window. Stratos silently gritted his teeth. “Loreya,” he thought darkly without taking his eyes off the snowy road. “You are goddamn lucky I didn’t know this when I got to your place... Otherwise...” He took a deep breath without finishing the thought and slowed down when the green traffic light in front of him blinked yellow all of a sudden. “Gemini,” he said quietly after he brought the car to a complete stop, blindly staring at the taillights of the car in front of him. “If I ever want you to get out...” He threw a quick glance at the blond kelari in the passenger’s seat. “...I will say so myself,” he finished, noting that Gemini still wouldn’t look at him, his eyes glued to the snow behind the window, it seemed. “I am not going to send some message with my sister or anyone else, okay?” he continued in the same calm manner, even though he realized that his hands were shaking. He was looking for Gemini for the last two hours, driving all over the suddenly silent, snowy city. He started swearing softly at first and getting louder and louder with each second when he realized that he was looking for a needle in a haystack – Gemini could’ve left the city by now for all he knew. Then, several minutes later, a thought shot through his boiling mind. “Jamie...” he thought and blinked in frustration that he hadn’t thought of that sooner. Jamie could find anyone and anything. They shared a somewhat long history, which Stratos decided not to recall right then. He ignored several angry honks behind him when he abruptly stopped in the middle of the intersection, thinking. Then he remembered about the park that Jamie used to favor, and made a sudden, wide U-turn, completely oblivious to the gestures and some screams through rolled down windows he received as a result. When he finally got to that park, he couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw Jamie himself with three other guys not too far from him, standing so close to the golden-haired kelari that it seemed their lips were touching. He immediately noted Gemini’s frozen, desperate posture, and when he clearly saw him mouth ‘No’ twice in a row, Jamie taking no notice of that, he started seeing red. Now, that everything was resolved, he felt somewhat calmer, even though he would get painfully furious every time he would think about his sister. “Screw her for the time being,” he thought darkly and locked that particular door in his mind. “Screw her...” That seemed to work somewhat and his shoulders slightly relaxed. “I don’t think it’s even possible for me to get sick and tired of you...” he said in a low voice without taking his eyes off the road. “As for telling you to get out...” He hemmed and glanced to the right. The road seemed clear and he switched lanes. “It’s not gonna happen for a very long time, if ever...” He brought the car to a smooth stop on the side of the road and threw the gear into ‘Park.’ “I haven’t even had you yet,” he said in a low voice, and this time, Gemini finally looked at him with a small frown. “Well...” he said slowly without looking away. “Nothing is stopping you...” “Yes,” Stratos nodded solemnly, and suddenly, he leaned closer, his expression serious. “As a matter of fact, something does...” Gemini’s eyes widened at that and he stiffened up in his seat. Stratos leaned even closer, and Gemini’s lips parted slowly, ever so slightly, as if he was expecting a kiss. “You don’t want it,” Stratos said seriously and pulled away as suddenly as he made his leaning-in move in the beginning. Gemini let out a small, almost inaudible exhale, his posture rigid-stiff, and then he blinked and quickly shifted his gaze towards the window again. Stratos let out an invisible smile and shot a quick glance to his left, checking the mirror on the side of the car. “And I don’t feel like forcing you,” he said calmly and drove into the main road once again. “You are too perfect for force,” he nodded, paying attention to two things at once – the snowy road and the blond kelari in his passenger’s seat. Gemini cleared his throat and stared out of the window with renewed intensity, his hands clasped in his lap, his back painfully straight. He let out a strange, muffled sound, as if he was trying to say something and cough at the same time, and Stratos glanced at him once again. He shifted his gaze downwards and let out another invisible smile when he saw a very prominent outline forming against the fabric of black slacks. “So it is possible to turn you on,” he thought and concentrated on the road, thinking that if he managed get into an accident right now, he would kick himself for the rest of his life.
  14. Katya Dee

    Chapter 4

    Nah, he's an ass, but he ain't no skimmer 😎
  15. Katya Dee

    Chapter 4

    Well, actually... 😏
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