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About AusGlitterati

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    Books, shows, games, movies, writing. I like to spend as much of my free time as I can in another universe.

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  1. AusGlitterati


    There's a lot of empathy and patience in Masha that comes from an understanding of how unwell a teenager must be to end up in a place like the AIU (Vlad's done it many times) and that she does tend to see and treat Tyson as one of her own. Yes this is all 150% accurate! ❤️ Beautifully said! Haha I won't lie that it's a relief to hear that, but on the flip side, whether it was criticism or simply sharing, you did give me more to think about, and I'm happy about it! Still, I will keep that in mind! I'm really glad to hear you have your childrens' backs! ❤️ Hahaha of course dear ❤️ and your two cents mean more to me than a ten dollar bill I found in the park! Thank you all for the comments! I'm thrilled if you're all talking! Have terrific days!
  2. AusGlitterati


    It's a lot easier to like Vlad, who doesn't have a bitter bone in his body. And you're right, Tyson's actions were indefensible. So it's probably something I should float as a reminder in chapter, but Cynthia is treating Vladimir free of charge and coordinating his aftercare until he is discharged from the hospital. Masha's restraint comes from understanding from born of her own family of misfits and a deep sense of appreciation for what Tyson did for Vladimir in the first place - convincing Cynthia to take him as a patient - but perhaps it does read inorganically. I didn't even think of it that way. 😖 That's an excellent point! When I go through and edit the story before I stamp it with "complete" I'll definitely take a second look at this one. Thanks very much! ❤️ Have a delightful day!
  3. AusGlitterati


    Awwww ❤️ yes I'm not a stranger to them either. I don't believe it's all that uncommon! Masha is indeed a wonderful woman! Thanks for the comment! A tendency to funnel those negative emotions into anger (something far easier to deal with) has always been an unfortunate part of Tyson since the very beginning. Buuut he's a smart cookie! A light bulb could be just what he needs. Thank you for your everlasting support! ❤️ Maybe a little something like that! 😮 Thanks! You're right on the money on everything there! He needs something solid to look forward to - and he might have just come up with something. Vladimir did not deserve what he got. No way. Tyson gonna have to grovel! I'm glad you enjoyed it! More next Friday! Mwah!
  4. AusGlitterati


    "Heeey, Tys!" It was Vladimir that he'd been expecting. Not Dmitry! It was difficult to discern which Tchaikovsky boy was which by way of their face because they looked impossibly similar, so Tyson judged based on height. Dmitry was over six feet tall, but not quite as tall as Vasily, who trailed in afterwards with the whole pack! Masha, Vladimir, Ilya and Sasha all trickled through the door that separated the majority of the ward from the visiting and interview areas. Aside from the silver fox Vasily, they all sported straight black hair - Masha's was curly - that contrasted with their pale skin. Vladimir looked so happy that Tyson's smile magnified. Masha and the two younger boys were all holding a plain grey package in their arms, and the smell of fried food filled the air. Fish and chips! "Hi!" Tyson was quick to hop up on his healing ankle and limp over to greet the intruders. "Hey. What's umm... what's going on?" He turned to Vladimir, who joyfully bounced over to wrap his arms around his not-boyfriend-but-more-than-friend. "Did you have fun?" "Yeah, but since you weren't allowed to come out with us, Mum and Dad thought we'd just bring lunch to you instead," Vladimir pulled away and smiled with slightly crooked teeth. "We didn't know what you like, so we got a bit of everything," Dmitry explained, slapping Tyson on the back with a little more force than necessary. "Are you allowed? Am I?" Tyson assessed the family in front of him with indifference. He'd been disappointed already by the verdict to keep him from exploring the world outside the ward. He didn't need to be let down again. "Of course, you goose," Masha seemed to grow increasingly goth the more she visited, with pointed black velvet boots and thick winged eyeliner around her blue eyes. "Where's that nurse? Alice?" Vasily asked while Sasha and Ilya whispered to each other - they were probably gossiping about Charlie and his pillow fetish. The young brunette was hiding behind Tyson, peeking out at the events with the corner of his pillow in his mouth. "Oh, her," Tyson shrugged, holding himself with his hands. He was in a casual robin's egg coloured tank top and his soccer shorts. He wished he dressed better for the visit he didn't know he was getting. "You know Alice. She won't leave me alone when I'm sick of her, but if someone needs her, she's hanging out in fucking Narnia." "Hey!" Masha pointed at him with a stern look in her eyes. "What have I told you about that sailor's mouth?" "Sorry!" Tyson shrunk back with a guilty grin. It was one of her rules. No swearing in front of her children - that included Vladimir. Masha winked in response. People often told Tyson he swore too much. The nurses, Cynthia, his mother. He didn't care. For the longest time, he was never allowed to say what he thought, but now that he'd come to realise nobody could actually enforce that rule, he wasn't shy of speaking his mind. That was before Masha began to reprimand him. She was starting to hold him to the same standards she held her own children - no cussing, no filthy discussions and no interrupting people when they spoke. She was the only person in the world who could make him censor himself. He didn't like to upset her. He didn't want to disappoint her! He was growing fond of her, but he was also the tiniest bit scared of her. She didn't let her boys get away with much - that included Tyson, and also Vasily, who was content to let his wife take the wheel. "Mum called ahead and made sure we're all clear," Vladimir told him. "We can set up outside! It's a nice day for it!" "Okay, but like, why?" Tyson asked him, screwing up his face. "You could have had lunch anywhere in the city. Why the f-- heck are you coming back here?" "If you don't want to join us for lunch then nobody's forcing you," Dmitry shut him down, knowing Tyson would never decline an offer like that. "Good guy Vlad felt like giving you a treat, and we all kinda missed you." Fish and chips were Tyson's natural choice during lunchtime, but this was far more special than that. Not to take anything away from Jae, who consistently delivered well-cooked food for up to sixteen fussy, depressed adolescents in the open ward and up to six more in the High-Dependency Unit. The funny Korean man did a great job, but this was... greasy shit from the shops. Tyson experienced fried battered fish and oily chips once in a while after soccer if Edith was busy micromanaging Kelly and couldn't intervene. It was the highlight of his week if he managed to scoff down a spring roll and a potato cake before his bitch mother took him home and fed him skinless, tasteless chicken, quinoa and kale. They're here to see me, Tyson realised. They could have just sent Vlady back, but they wanted to see me. They wanted me to be a part of their Saturday. They actually came in for me. Shame and guilt and insecurity filled him rather than the joy he initially felt. They should have had fun with Vlad. Instead, they were in this depressing fucking place. "You're invited too, Charlie!" Vladimir wouldn't leave the third member of their weird little trio out - he never did. "Sorry!" Alice was in a hurry, her ugly silver mushroom hair almost a mess as she zoomed along on her fat little legs. "I was held up out the back! Vlad's flock, I'm guessing." "How did you guess?" Masha wiggled her eyebrows, and Alice smirked. "Call it a hunch. So I called to make sure, and the lovely lady in charge says you're welcome to have lunch out in the courtyard with whoever you like. Unfortunately, we do need to ask that a member of staff is present at all times, and we'll have to make sure there's nothing in your lunch that shouldn't be there. I know it's a hassle, but those are the rules, I'm afraid." "That's stupid," Dmitry frowned. "Vlad can come out with us and do whatever, but you have to check our food before we're allowed to eat?" Tyson went red. It was because of him and his risk rating, he knew. There were higher security measures to be taken if someone who was a self-harm hazard was a part of an activity, even one as innocent as fish and chips on the courtyard lawn. Vladimir was a medium risk, meaning he still required constant supervision and intervention, but his symptoms were more or less under control and he was even allowed short bouts of leave under the care of his family. Charlie was a low-risk patient, which seemed odd considering the potential for a violent outburst if he were triggered, but as such, he only needed to be checked once every hour. If he had a family, he would almost certainly be discharged to them, or maybe because of his fragile condition, he would be put on a partial release program. Tyson, despite his cooperation, was still a high-risk patient. Fifteen-minute checks, restrictions on where he could go without supervision, and anything coming in for him from the outside had to be searched and approved first to make sure he couldn't hurt himself. "We understand," Masha replied on behalf of the confused family. "What? They're gonna go through our food?" Ilya, the youngest, whined in an annoying Charlie-like voice. "That's stupid! We're not smuggling in a knife or something!" Sasha added to the protesting. "Hey, hey, we're not going to put our hands through everything," Alice broke in. He wasn't sure where exactly everything went wrong. It could have been the part of him that didn't feel like he deserved love and affection from Vladimir and his family. Maybe it was more about his own family, and how they didn't give a shit about him. Perhaps he was just so sick of having no control over his life - first at home, now in the hospital. It was possible that he was embarrassed about who he was and where he came from. Probably all of the above, or none of these things. Whatever it was, that was the last straw, and Tyson couldn't bear to be there anymore. "Don't worry about it," he brushed them off and turned around. "I'm out." "What?" Vasily's voice followed him as he limped away. "Tys?" "Hey! What's going on?" "Just leave me alone!" He shouted back at them. He wanted to escape before the feelings of inadequacy and shame turned into white-hot anger. He felt them bubbling inside. The last thing he needed was to have a meltdown in front of the only people who seemed to care about him. To show them what a doomed little freak he really was. Unworthy of the time and affection they insisted on wasting on him. No good for anything or anyone. Not even his own mother. Vladimir caught up with him before he made it to his room. "Tyson, what's the matter?" The boy asked, easily able to outrun his friend's bad ankle. "Hey! What's wrong?" "I'm gonna need you to piss off right now," the boy hissed at him, refusing to look into his eyes. "Can you stop?" Vladimir stood in front of him, and Tyson clenched his fists. "What's the problem? Did we upset you?" "Get out of my face," he replied through clenched teeth. "Leave me alone." "Tell me what's going on," Vladimir spoke in a hushed, gentle voice, putting a soft hand on Tyson's shoulder. "Is it because Alice has to check the fish and chips and stuff?" "Can you just go back there and be with everyone who loves you?" Tyson was starting to cry angry tears. "Leave--" "Everyone who loves me loves you too!" "Leave!" Tyson shoved past him. "Stay the fuck away from me!" "I love you." Vladimir looked at him with such big, sad eyes, the colour of a cloudless sky in the spring time. Determined to create distance between them by any means necessary, Tyson shoved Vladimir backward with two hands, causing the bigger boy to fall back onto the carpeted floor. "Good! That means I'll probably die like that Alexey guy, because you're a fucking jinx, Vlad! People you love end up dead!" Time seemed to go still for a second. Vladimir's heart broke. So did Tyson's. Even in his rage, he knew that he'd just screwed up big time, and that was enough to make him furiously punch the wall twice before he hobbled away, fists shaking and head pounding. He used the key to open his locked door and slammed it shut behind him, before letting out a loud roar of rage, melancholy and frustration. I fucked it up. I fucked it up. I fucked it up! With cries of anger and pain, Tyson repeatedly punched the door to his ensuite bathroom, wishing that he slit his wrist with the sharpener blade when he had the chance. Wishing that he could go home and step in front of the train or step off a high rise rooftop. He wished he didn't fight his mother when she wanted to discharge him, so he could stop being such a burden on the rest of the world and let himself die. Who would miss him if he did? Vladimir. Maybe the Tchaikovsky family. Nobody else. Well, that wasn't even true anymore. Vladimir must hate him now, and Masha and Vasily would never forgive him for laying his hands on one of their kids. As despair flooded him, Tyson's punches grew stronger and his rage intensified. It was Evan who quickly came to check on him with dickhead Ron in tow, not Alice, which meant that Alice had raised the alarm. Fucking fat useless fucking bitch! "Wow! Woah! Hey!" Evan exclaimed as he gingerly approached, and Tyson shot him a dirty look. "What's going on?" "If you come any closer, I will smash your fucking teeth in!" Tyson warned him, crying out in pain and fury as he hit the door once again. "Okay, we can stay back here, but we do need you to stop," Evan replied in a calm but firm voice as big man Ron stood next to him like a bodyguard. "Tyson, can you slow down, please?" "Can you all just disappear??" Tyson shrieked at them, flecks of spit flying from his mouth. "I don't want you here! I don't want to be here! I'm sick of you and this fucking place! Just leave me alone! All I want is to be left alone, so will you just go??" "You're hurting yourself," Evan observed, not getting caught up in the cycle of misplaced emotions the boy was still learning to control. "Let's calm down and talk about what's going on." "I'm not feeling calm!" Tyson opened up his bathroom door and entered, slamming it shut behind him and hoping for a few moments of solitude, but it wasn't to be. There was no lock on the door, and it opened outwards. Evan stood in the doorway, and that made the youngster angrier all over again. Tyson picked up the tiny bottle of conditioner from the shower ledge and threw it at the men as hard as he could. Evan flinched and blocked it with his arm, but Ron decided enough was enough and stormed forwards, blocking the bottle of shampoo that came at him. "Get away, you toad!" Tyson panicked, threatened by this enormous guy ready to take him down. "Don't you dare touch me! Fucking predator!" "Ron, it's okay," Evan interjected as he saw the boy scrambling to the corner of the bathroom underneath the shower head. "He's out of control, mate!" Ron argued, standing huge over Tyson. "Tyson, you're gonna stay right there and calm down and take what Alice gives you, or you'll go to seclusion." The last thing Tyson needed was for someone to flex their power and authority on him. He'd thought he'd hit his limit, that he'd been filled to the brim with hatred and self-hatred and wrath and sadness, but it kept bubbling over the top. Overwhelmed, he fell back against the wall, hitting the back of his head, then he slid down until he was sitting on the floor. He didn't know what was happening, but he suddenly wasn't able to breathe. No matter how much he inhaled, it didn't seem to into his lungs, and he coughed and choked and tried his hardest, but he was dying, surely! His body was vibrating, and his chest was so tight that it quickly became agony. I fucked it up. I fucked it up. I fucked it up. No. This is a bad dream. None of this is real. None of this is real, right? "Oh, you have to be kidding me," Ron exclaimed scornfully as he watched the boy wither in front of his very eyes. "You can go, thanks!" Evan was just as firm with his colleague as he was with his patient. "You're a cockhead sometimes." "First rule of psych, mate. Patient is violent, avert the crisis." "Without bringing on another crisis!" Evan pushed past him and crouched down. "Tyson, you're having a panic attack. Have you gone through this before?" Tyson had not. He had no idea what this was until Evan told him so. A panic attack. He'd experienced fits of rage and gloom much of the past couple of years, but panic was a new one for him. He wasn't in control of his own body, and that was terrifying. He wanted to tell Evan no. It was the first. But he couldn't. Lungs squeezing. Body shaking. Throat closing. "Nothing more than an attitude problem," Ron was mumbling as he walked out of the bathroom, but Evan stayed with him. "It's okay, Tyson. Listen to my voice, okay? And breathe in. In. In. And out." "I c-c-can't!!" "Rome wasn't built in a day. Keep trying. Breathe in. ...Out." Try as Tyson did, he could not get his lungs to slow down and follow the instructions of the young nurse. A little over a minute later, Alice arrived, and she had a member of the security team with her. That was scary. Tyson didn't want to look. One of the first days he was here, that same man from security dragged him screaming into the quiet room during a fit of rage on Alice's orders. "Oh, dear!" She was quick to let her maternal tendencies take over and approach in the same manner as Evan. "Oh, Tyson, what have you been doing?" She gently picked up one of his hands to examine the swollen, bruised and bloody knuckles. "Letting off some steam," Evan replied on the boy's behalf, indicating with his fingers that it was time to breathe out. "Do you mind stepping out to the hallway, Vince?" "Yeah," big guy Vince was quick to leave. "Let me know if you need me." "I didn't... I'm sorry... I didn't mean to... I fucked it all up..." Tyson choked. "It happens to the best of us," Alice reassured him, holding up a medicine cap with two orange pills in it. "Let's give you something to help you calm down." Tyson took the pills with a shaky hand, but he did not swallow them immediately - he was worried he might choke. His breathing was returning to normal, and he was becoming aware of the pain in his still recovering ankle, his knuckles and the back of his head, which hit the wall pretty hard when his legs turned to jelly. "I'm sorry," the boy whispered again. "For throwing shit," he added. "I won't lie, it would be nice not to go down that path again," Evan remarked as he stood up and his knees cracked, making Alice flinch. "But this is, what, the first major incident in two, maybe three weeks?" "Something like that!" Alice's kindly smile reassured him that he wasn't in major trouble, at least as far as the staff were concerned. "When you first arrived, we had incidents every other day. I think you've been doing a marvelous job. Getting overwhelmed doesn't undo all the progress you've made." "Yes, it does! I thought I was better than this! But I'm just a spastic!" Tyson sniffed and took a mouthful of water from the polystyrene cup Alice brought with her, then popped the pills in his mouth. "What do you think the road to recovery looks like, Tyson?" Alice asked him, heaving herself up and sitting on the closed lid of the toilet. "Some medication and therapy and everything will gradually fall into place?" "If only," Evan remarked. "It'd be nice if it were like walking a leisurely stroll in the park to get from A to B. That's how a lot of people think - those who haven't experienced the journey for themselves," the older woman continued. "But mental health just doesn't generally work that way. It's more like trying to climb a mountain. Sometimes obstacles get in the way, or the path is nearly impossible to see, or you think you've made it to the top only to see you've got further to go. You can get lost and end up backtracking until someone points you the right way. It's hard work, love, and it's okay to feel overwhelmed, but it's not okay to take it out on other people." "We get that it's been a hell of a change for you, being here," Evan took over the lecture as Tyson's breathing finally returned to normal. "And that it's terrifying being here without Mum popping by. Now, that there was not acceptable behaviour, but the fact that you're aware of that and you apologised speaks a lot more about how far you've come than it does about how much further you've got to go. Don't give up." "Why not? I ruined everything," Tyson gloomily replied. He said he loves me. The first time Vlady said he loves me, and I shove him over. I tell him that he's a jinx and the people he loves end up dead. All because I don't feel like I deserve his love or his family's love. And I don't. It's wasted on me. "Now, I have to do my checks, but Evan's going to have a look at your hands and stay with you one-on-one for a little while. Is that okay?" Alice stood up after a short pause, and Tyson nodded. "Good lad. Also, Mrs Tchaikovsky is still here and she wants to speak to you. Would you like to see her?" "So she can tell me what a cunt I am? Yeah," Tyson hugged himself with his arms. "Send her in. Get it over with." Not keen to have a dressing down while he was in the bathroom, Tyson got up and almost fell back down, his legs not quite ready to carry him, and Evan quickly moved to brace him. "It's alright, Tys. Though you might want to sit down. It was some pretty heavy stuff Alice gave you," Evan, a one-on-one specialist for patients who were at acute risk of hurting themselves or someone else, was terrific at his job in spite of his insanely youthful appearance. He looked younger than some of the teenagers being treated in the unit. "Let's get you onto the bed, okay? I need to have a look at these hands." Evan examined the knuckles, purple and red with a few instances of broken, bleeding skin. He gently wiped down the abrasions and the cuts then applied a stinging disinfectant. Masha came in as Tyson slithered up like a guilty puppy onto his bed and curled into a ball. She didn't look happy - but not angry. Not even disappointed. She was worried. Why should she be concerned? He wasn't her kid. He was just some guy that her son latched on to. The mother of the guy he just physically and verbally attacked right after a declaration of love. Shit. Evan kept a close eye on the events, leaning against the wall opposite the foot of the bed with his arms folded. At least Masha couldn't slap him as Edith would have. "Darling, darling, darling," she sighed, noting how distressed he looked, seeing the telltale blood smears on the blue paint of his bathroom door and the bruising on his hands. "What happened?" "I'm a spastic?" Tyson felt like he was pointing out the obvious. "Oh, that?" Masha wearily sat down in that infernal chair, causing a long, loud and uncomfortable squeak. She brushed her bangs from her eyes - the exact same way Vladimir often did. "Nothing I have not seen in the past, Tyson. You know, I take my boys to the Playtime arcade every Friday after school. I tell them it's only if they've behaved well, but the truth is, I can't say no anymore. Ilya, as you know, is autistic. If we're short of money or the boys are grounded, Ilya can melt down like you wouldn't believe! Oh, you've never seen someone go from angel to demon so quickly if something changes in his routine that he's not ready for! Once at Playtime, he was lying on that filthy floor screaming and crying because they moved his favourite shooting game to a different corner! No matter what we tried, we could not calm him down. When a girl in primary school took his favourite toy truck, he reacted so badly that we found a new school for him." Tyson was content just to listen, so she continued. "Sasha has a flair for being overdramatic. He's just started puberty with all the hormones and mood swings. You probably understand what that's like! Anyone who says that raising boys is easier than raising girls probably did not do a good job of raising them, because mine gave me grey hair. This?" She played with a curly lock that fell by her ear. "Black dye! I am even more grey than Vasily is! Sasha has run away from home three times. Once it was because Vladimir used his toothbrush! He always comes home, but I worry so much about him. Oh, and Dmitry was never shy of throwing tantrums, either. He punched a hole through his bedroom wall! And he tried to blame Vlad!" The woman giggled, and Tyson managed a smile. "He paid us for every cent it cost to fix, and he made Vladimir's bed every day for a month for being unfair to him." Tyson shifted uncomfortably. Vladimir would definitely have told his mother what happened. He told her everything - what he spoke about with Cynthia, details about his mental illness, his medications, the interventions employed by the staff when he was at risk and even his budding relationship with the angry boy in the room across from him. "Darling, you hurt Vladimir's feelings," she eventually brought up the subject. Perhaps she was waiting for him to talk about it first. "What you said was cruel. I know you were having a bad day, and I am very sorry if our surprise to you went down poorly, but I need you to apologise to him." "Does he hate me?" "Do you think my Солнышко (little sun) could ever hate somebody?" "No. I saw him say sorry once when some dumb bitch spilt her juice on him." Masha grinned at him and got up, causing another painful squeak, and she approached. "Vladimir is a sensitive boy, but he will forgive you. Maybe it will take some time because Alexey is an upsetting subject for him, but I know he will. Trust me. Do you mind if I join you up there?" When he nodded and slid over, dangerously close to the edge on the single bed, Masha laid herself down next to him and immediately put her arm around him. Tyson, too emotionally drained, simply rested his head on her breast and shifted closer while she rubbed his back. He caught a smile on Evan's face. "Do the others hate me?" "No! Don't be silly!" Masha tutted at him. "Darling, you're here because you're not yourself. Yes, I am disappointed that you fought with my Vlad, but I know you're a good lad and you'll make it up to him. Dmitry is very protective of his brothers so you might get a talk from him, but really, darling, we were worried. Not angry. But I do want to know why you got upset. I don't want to cross any boundaries." "It's just... when you come in, and you want to see me and stuff, all I can think is that I'll never have that. With my family." "You don't get much love from them, do you?" "No. Mum's just left me here. And Chase and my sister. They don't even care that I'm here. They don't even care if I kill myself." "You deserve to be loved, моыа звезда (my star)," she reached over with her other and caressed his short, curly black hair. "Even if you don't think so." "It's never going to get better, though." It took Tyson a long time to accept his circumstances. Being in a locked ward was something he'd been raised to believe was the worst possible outcome for somebody. He didn't want to be here - he fought and resisted and even sourced a pencil sharpener with blades to kill himself with. Neil convinced him to tearfully surrender both the potential weapon and his stubbornness. He was now taking all of his medication, attending his appointments and complying with directions from the staff - though his guttermouth and penchant for impertinence remained. The drugs were doing their job, psychotherapy was making an impact, and Vladimir's friendship gave him something to look forward to, but in the end, Tyson struggled to consistently see a reason to continue. His parents, from an outsider's perspective, gave him everything he could ever want, and he always looked like a rebellious, ungrateful little bastard. He would be released to their care. And then what? Cynthia might try to appeal and have Tyson taken away from them, but Edith and Chase would move heaven and earth to protect their image with an army of lawyers and a high social standing. There was no reason to try. "I understand," Masha reassured him, kissing him on the top of his head and making him feel warm inside. "It's easy to feel hopeless and powerless as a teenager, and especially when you have so few cards to play. Still, that does not mean you cannot take control of the situation." Tyson's eyes widened and his body tensed as his brain processed what Masha said and a light bulb lit up in his head. Take control of the situation.
  5. AusGlitterati

    Heads Up

    Pale skin, complimented with a sun-kissed tan. Nice ass curves, a smooth young twink strapped down to the bed in a jock strap and nothing else. His brown hair wild and jagged, falling rebelliously around his neck as he tested the strength of the bonds securing him to the mattress. He was arrogant. He was sure he could take whatever Seth threw at him. But Seth wasn't interested in hearing his words. Only the primal noises elicited from him. So the man in charge locked a gag into the young man's mouth to silence the cockiness from him and bit down on the slim shoulder there, marking him. He tasted blood and realised he was too rough. That was a shame. He liked to push the limits and achieve euphoria with his submissive, but he did not wish to actually cause injury. When he went to apologise, Chip only sneered at him. Always mocking. Always playing games. Seth would not have that, though. He would have the boy learn his damn place, and he grabbed the boy by the hair and went to sink into his hot, wet asshole. Seth was panting when he suddenly woke up, disappointed that he missed out on the best part of the dream! It always happened that way. But his body was vibrating, and a thin layer of sweat coated him head to toe, his long black hair wet as it clung to his chest and belly. He was in afterglow! His cock was still pumping cum onto his golden ab muscles and glueing the sheets to him. A wet dream?? Seth had not experienced a wet dream since he was twelve and hadn't yet worked out how to milk himself dry! But what a dream, though. He was still high on the ecstasy of the situation. He closed his eyes to try and relive the dream, Chip tied down to the bed and challenging Seth to do his worst, vulnerable and sexy as fuck, but the memories gradually became fainter as he left the world of fantasy behind and woke up properly. With sudden curiosity, he wet his finger in the puddle by his shallow belly button and ran it along his tongue, wondering what Chip might have been tasting had things not gone sour the night before. It was equal parts sweet and bitter. Not unpleasant, but perhaps he could fit some more fruit into his diet. When Seth realised what he'd just done, he was almost appalled. Chip more or less told me to go fuck myself, and I'm still here obsessing like a middle school girl. Get a hold of yourself. You're an esteemed member of the Poker community, and you need to act like it. He stripped the sheets and folded them before he put them neatly into the hamper. The maids will have a lot to gossip about after this, he thought with a grin. He enjoyed the hot shower afterwards, taking his time to massage coconut body wash into his skin and to shampoo and condition his hair. His cock grew once again when he thought of Chip showering. A rich boy not, but a common boy with an opportunity to break into the scene. Hmmm. Where had Seth heard this story before? Only twenty-three years ago when he lived it for himself. When Natalie Payne, the Bluff Baroness, took all his money at a table in Las Vegas after he bet hard on an ace high flush only to lose to a tens over threes full house. She took a liking to him, comparing him to her favourite grandson, and she bought him back in to the game so the two of them could continue talking as they played cards. Remarkable, he thought as he turned off the taps and began to wring out his hair. She was playing with tens of thousands of dollars to be social, yet he was playing to have a meal in his belly. He never knew if she intentionally let him win the big pot and many thousands of dollars or if he managed to beat her. Natalie had a bona fide poker face. She invented false tells and indicators of stress to make her opponents stumble. Still, he went home with far more money than he arrived with, and she became his mentor, later a maternal figurehead. Chip might be as good at cards as he likes to think he is. A lack of experience, though, was going to bite him, and Seth didn't want to imagine what the implied consequences of a loss might mean for him. His friends, spoiled, entitled little pricks, fronted his entry on the understanding that they were going to make a profit from him. Making it past the first round meant winning two hundred and fifty thousand - two and a half times the entry fee. Making it to the finals meant a prize of two and a half million dollars. Winning the tournament, though, twenty-five million. There really was nothing like being at sea on a luxury ship, he thought happily as he sipped from a glass of ice water and took in the view, dressed in only his boxer shorts. Clouds masked the full power of the sun above, but it did little to obstruct the beauty of the mid-Atlantic. A shame he could not bring his sister with him. Clara was never any good with travelling on a boat. She would go white and green and vomit over the side. When they were children living in Starke, Florida, they would often visit their uncle Quentin in Ponte Vedra beach and go for a spin on his fishing vessel. Seth loved those special weekends! Sailing out to sea on the dingy old boat was like Christmas! Quentin taught him how to steer - even if Seth only drove in circles, but his father Eiji demanded he must be the one to teach his son how to fish. Eiji was terrible at fishing, and Seth was intuitive enough to know that, but sharing that experience with his dad was special anyway. Eventually, Karen stopped joining the boys on her brother's boat to stay on the beach with Clara, who refused to go out with her father and brother after a time, and it became a boys' only affair. Quentin was what Seth missed most when they relocated to Japan. Quentin and the boat. He noticed that while he'd been on the balcony admiring the view, a piece of paper had been slid under his door. With a goofy grin, he picked it up to recognise Chip's signature handwriting. I'm sorry about last night. Have breakfast with me in the blue buffet xo At first, Seth was relieved and even happy to receive such an invitation. He'd grown fond of this young man quite quickly, and he was hoping the feeling was mutual. There was a mischievous and playful aspect to Chip on top of the charming southern drawl, undeniable intellect and enjoyable wit. Seth thought a lot about the two men he had his eye on as he dressed in a casual shirt and shorts ensemble. Glenn was too desperate and shallow to be attractive in the long term. He'd lose his face and body eventually, then what good was he? How long before he forgot he was angry and came back for another hard fuck? Probably today - maybe tomorrow, if he was especially ticked off. He was an airhead. A horny, fit and submissive airhead, sure, but it would never be more than just sex between them. The blue buffet was absolutely gorgeous. Seth couldn't help but smile as he looked out the long window on the side of the ship that overlooked the ocean, the sky and the recreational decks below. The floor was a beautiful marble of many different shades of blue, as were the backs of the chairs. A massive skylight in the roof showed the cloudy cerulean sky, and Seth was happy where he was. Being a little over seven thirty in the morning, a lot of people were getting up and looking for their morning meal from one of the many restaurants and buffets. Seth intended to explore them all throughout the cruise, but he liked this one already. "Mr Nakamura!" Seth turned his head to see Chip, looking smart in his tawdry clothes and geeky glasses, and his heart dropped. He wasn't alone. He wasn't even with his friends - fuzzyhead Lester and fuckhead Donny. He was sitting with Winston and Glenn McIntosh, and the sight chilled Seth's blood. What is he doing? This was a long way to go to embarrass someone. This was... juvenile! "Young Seth," Winston, decrepit old mutt with more hair on his neck than on his head, greeted him coolly, his hand around his trophy husband's hip. "Are you joining us for breakfast this morning? You look like you didn't sleep very well." "Come and sit," Glenn invited him, hiding a smirk on his lovely heart-shaped face. He wore a tight-fitting tank top over his fit, chiselled body, and it almost made Seth's mouth water. "We could make it a foursome." "No, thank you," Seth, embarrassed, spoke stiffly and backed away. "Mr McIntosh is quite correct, I fear. I did sleep poorly. I think I'll return to bed and order something to my room instead." When Winston and Glenn thought nothing more of that and returned to their view of the beautiful ocean outside, Seth shot Chip a look of disgust. The young fellow's smirk faded, as though he expected a different outcome, but Seth was a grown man, and he didn't need to play childish games. He turned on his heel and stormed off, finding another breakfast buffet on another deck in the ship. He mixed some greek yoghurt, muesli, blueberries and chopped banana. It was a concoction he grew fond of as a child when he would make breakfast for himself and Clara before they went to school. As he ate alone, just the way he liked it, he wondered what Chip was playing at. Whatever. He's a child. When a young woman asked him if she could sit at the table with him, he angrily told her to move along. As he'd grown to expect, Chip was lurking in the corridor when Seth did return to his room, thinking he might take a dip in the pool and swim some laps. Those sharp green eyes watched him, but Seth did not let the boy bait him into engaging with him. No. He walked right past him and shut the door to his cabin. Almost immediately, he heard the boy knocking. "Seth, come on." Seth decided maybe he would give his frenemy the chance to explain himself, but he took his time getting into his bathing trunks first, making sure to forego a shirt so that Chip could see what he was missing out on. Last night, Chip admitted he was interested in getting physical. Well, it wasn't going to happen unless the boy understood which of them called the shots, and it wasn't some cocky little hipster twink playing at the big boy's table. Chip knocked again, and this time Seth did open the door. He pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes, and, with his arms folded, waited for Chip to begin. It took a little while. The youngster was still figuring out the power dynamics between them, it seemed. Thinking he was the man in charge. "Look, you inferred I was a prostitute," Chip finally started, leaning guiltily against the doorway. "You hurt my feelings." "So, what? You thought you'd get back at me, is that it? What are you doing, Chip? Did you want to humiliate me? Was that you getting back at me for making a bad joke - one I apologised for, by the way? Or blackmail? Are you trying to intimidate me? You're gonna tell Winston I've been slipping it in his hubby and he'll have someone throw me overboard? What?" "No! No, none of that!" Chip looked especially cute when he was flustered. He put his hands up to his mouth. "It wasn't like that. I was only trying to show you what a real prostitute looks like. That guy Glenn that's been making some trips to your room. He's pretty as a peach." As much as Seth found Chip's southern accent charming, he wasn't sold. "What's your point?" "If you want to fuck a rentboy, then fuck Glenn," Chip told him quietly, stepping forward. "I'm not a prostitute." But he was, Seth realised. He was definitely a prostitute at one point. That's why he's sensitive and defensive. Perhaps that's what he had to do to survive. "No, you're not. But if you want to keep going with... whatever this is," Seth used his hand to point at himself, then Chip, then back again. "Then don't ever bring the daddy bear and his honey pot into it again." Chip sealed the deal in a surprising way - he leaned close and kissed Seth on the mouth with those pretty pink lips. Seth didn't mind - he was surprised, but who would object to a cute little thing like Chip? It was brief, but Seth blushed a little bit. "So we're going to the pool? I'll get changed," Chip informed him, and Seth's eyes widened. "I don't remember inviting you," he retorted, hiding his glee at the idea of seeing this boy mostly naked again. "Would you prefer if I didn't come?" "Well, no-- but what about your friends? I don't think they like me very much." "Lester's cool, but Donny thinks someone should teach you a lesson," Chip raised an eyebrow above his thick-rimmed glasses. "They were playing roulette until the sun came up. They won't miss me until at least midday." "Then I guess it's a date," Seth shrugged nonchalantly, but he was feeling giddy with excitement.
  6. AusGlitterati

    Sands of Time

    That excerpt from the book of venoms though... oooOOOooo I love that Sawyer is short sighted enough to mention that the god is a turtle. Like dude, you just massacred this guy's home with your jungle, maybe you'd wanna try to avoid offending him. 😆 The Mataki tribe seems to be all but doomed, though! Kotho's an idiot, for all his hypermasc bluster.
  7. Ahhh! This chapter was so intoxicating I just had to read it again! ❤️ Challenging Castor's love for the two men in his life in such a cruel, inventive way is just so beautiful, and who can blame Castor for wanting to stay in a world where everything is so perfect? No heartbreak. No fighting. ❤️ Terrific chapter frond!
  8. AusGlitterati

    Skin Deep

    I tried to directly reflect that in Charlie's sweet nature. Thanks! Aww thank you so much! I have the destination and the road there all sorted, but I'm not sure how many stops there'll be! Next chapter might make the destination clearer - this one served to both reassure Tyson that bad experiences don't necessarily make him bad, and to remind him that he genuinely enjoys helping people. Those are some great questions! Let's find out together! (SO lovely!!) Thanks! Oh phew. Even after a snooze I feel like I could have done much better. Yesss Tyson notices there's more to Charlie than meets the eye, and that makes him feel much better about his own situation, since they're not all that different - just handling trauma in their own ways. One is childish, the other angry. Right? Couldn't keep her away before. Tsk. Thank you! ❤️ Thank you love! ❤️
  9. AusGlitterati

    Skin Deep

    It wasn't the first time Tyson entertained himself by studying the behaviour of the other inpatients. They were pretty interesting in their own ways. Especially Charlie. He liked to hoard treats for nearly a week and then go nuts and eat so much he made himself feel sick - except for the cookies. Although the packets of miniature cookies were limited to one per patient per day, Charlie seemed to have several packs of biscuits. Tyson noticed this early into his stay, but he was tired and preoccupied and never thought much of it. Perhaps it was in his imagination. Without suicide planning clouding his thoughts, he was able to take in more from his environment, and one of them was that Charlie seemed to be treating himself to a bag of cookies more than once a day. As Tyson continued to observe Charlie out of interest, to see what that damaged kid liked to do to keep himself occupied, the more he realised that cogs were turning in the boy's head. There was stuff going on in there. He wasn't stupid or challenged. Tyson was growing increasingly convinced he was just as smart as anyone else his age, but between his trauma and a lack of education, it was hidden. Obscured by the infant that suckled his fingers, spoke with a babyish whine and snuggled his pillow all day long. It all made Tyson so sad. Charlie had no family. No contacts. He was a ward of the state and so institutionalised by inpatient facilities that he reportedly lasted no more than a few days on discharge to a foster family or group home before having a horrible, violent meltdown and coming right back. As the nurses weren't allowed to satisfy his curiosity and give up information about Charlie's mental illness or circumstances, Tyson's interest burned brighter by the day. The system had given up on him entirely. As he had no family, there was nobody to pay for the long list of treatments he would need, and thus no profit to be made from his recovery. So the bastards just did not bother. It wouldn't be a surprise to him if the heartless pricks just suffocated Charlie in his sleep and threw him in the dumpster out the back. Nobody would miss him. Nobody would likely notice he'd vanished from the face of the Earth. He was invisible. But the more Tyson learned, the more he began to realise that Charlie knew he was invisible. He would never accuse the young boy of malingering or playing an act, but it was so easy to underestimate him, and who would bother to understand someone the system had forgotten about? The kitchen was accessible to all patients outside the meal hours, and all appliances and cutlery were securely locked away. Tyson was not allowed in without supervision - neither were two other patients with a high-risk rating. Charlie was free to roam in and out as he pleased. Yesterday, Tyson noticed him approach the kitchen door a few times to peer in, and while there were people in there, he slunk away and came back a little while later. When Tyson noticed the boy slip inside, he followed and peered around the kitchen doorway, and he saw Charlie filling the slip of his comfort pillow with the vanilla cupcakes that were supposed to be for everyone's afternoon tea! Suppressing a giggle, Tyson spun away and sat down on one of the chairs, watching intently as Charlie held his pillow tightly to his chest on his way to his room, knowing it was full of contraband. When Charlie returned, the pillowslip was empty! Later that evening, Charlie asked his evening nurse if he could have his cookies - she questioned if he'd had them yet, but when he told her he didn't, she just gave him a packet. What kind of bullshit was that? Tyson felt like he had to go through a polygraph test to get treats in this place. Early in the morning before the night shift nurse handed over to the morning nurse, Charlie asked if he could have his cookies for the day, and she gave him a packet. After breakfast, when the nurses did the handover, he asked for cookies from the new nurse, who shrugged and gave him a pack. Tyson found himself in a fit of giggles, watching Charlie work his hustle. That devious little motherfucker! Next time there was a shortage on scones or banana bread, he knew where the goodies had gone! "What's so funny?" Vladimir asked him, shoving him on the shoulder. Tyson couldn't reply, laughing too hard to stop. "Are you alright, Tys?" Jae asked, with an amused grin on his face. "It's nothing," the boy finally wheezed, his cheeks damp with tears and his tummy ache. "Are you starting to hear voices now? They lock people away in hospitals for that," Vladimir teased him. Well, no, Vlady. They actually don't do that. Commitment to a hospital ward occurs only if there is no less restrictive way to provide safe and effective treatment, and people are not involuntarily detained unless they have proven to be a danger to themselves or other people. You're not here because you hear, see and feel things that aren't real, or because your brain tricks you into delusions. You're here because you were dangerous. You must have been. But Tyson didn't say that. If he was ever going to breach that subject with Vladimir, it was going to be in private, not at a table with an eighteen-year-old girl who kept picking her nose and wiping it on her napkin. Tyson didn't want to be in the ward for the first week or so he was here. Yes, he was a voluntary inpatient on paper, but Cynthia was going to admit him whether he liked it or not. If he had resisted, she would likely have put him in the high-dependency ward, and he would have certain decisions about medication, treatment and visitation made for him rather than with him. As a voluntary patient, though, he was allowed freedoms that he might have been denied. That did not mean the doors to the outside were not locked. This was an acute inpatient ward - acute being the key word. It was for people in dire need of help. Crisis. Being in the open unit versus the HDU didn't change that. Knowing these things was helpful, but in a situation like this one it left a sour taste in his mouth. He knew Vladimir did something to end up in the HDU, even if the older boy did not choose to talk about it. His boyfriend, Alexey - was it suicide? Is that the story they used to protect Vladimir? Is he actually dangerous? Why did he get kicked out of school? "No voices," Tyson grinned at him, those thoughts running through his head. No, he told himself. If Vlady did something, it would never have been his fault. Cynthia is the best pediatric psychiatrist in the state. She'll fix him. "How excited are you to go out today, though? Are all the boys coming?" "Yes, but they'll be bitching the whole time because you're not coming," Vladimir lamented, feebly combing his long, black bangs with his fingers. He was wearing a smart white dotted black shirt today, and more jeans that made his butt and legs look so... hot! "Can you call Cynthia or something? Maybe she can do something." "She can't. It's a regulations thing. You're not my family," Tyson was blunt, not wanting to drag this conversation out. "But tell Ilya he's annoying for me. And tell Dmitry he's sexy!" "Okay first, no! Dmitry's gross," Vladimir gave his best stank face, one that always made Tyson chortle through his nose. "Ironic because you look exactly like Dmitry!" Tyson teased him, sipping his breakfast juice. "You all look exactly the same!" "But I'm the best one, right?" Vladimir kissed the air between them, and Tyson blushed. "Yeah. You're the cutest one." "Are you sure you'll be okay if I go? I'd rather stay with you, I think." "Okay, see, that shit's why they might lock someone away in a hospital," Tyson quipped, a look of confusion on his face. "Get the fuck out and enjoy your three hours of freedom! You've been in hospital for like, two months. I'll still be here when you get back." "They should let you come with us. Mum's more a mum to you than yours is," the boy had been miserable since Tyson's request to go on a picnic with the Tchaikovsky family was shot down yesterday. Tyson's feelings were stung by that. It was true, though. Edith had utterly abandoned her son in the psychiatric ward since the review with Cynthia went to shit. No contact, no calls, no visits. She was done with him, it seemed. It hurt a lot. He was even beginning to miss her, though he usually scoffed at that feeling when it floated through his heart and shoved it away. But Masha and Vasily visited every day. Every single day. Some days, they brought one, two or all three of their other children. For twenty to thirty minutes, Tyson had people outside the hospital who cared about him. But Edith, Chase and Kelly? There was no sign of them. Only the snippets of the campaign he saw on the television. His father looking confident and happy as he relied on tearing down minorities and the "parasitic" mentally ill to bolster his voter base, and Edith supporting him every step of the way. Fucking mole. "You'll be okay until I get back, right?" Vladimir asked him, finishing up his french toast and wiping his mouth. "If I come back and you're in seclusion, I'll smack you." "I'm pretty sure I won't go--" Tyson was about to say "schizo," but he remembered that it was a word to avoid and stopped himself. "Aggro on someone, unless they let that loud bitch Chantal back in." He didn't want Vladimir to go. No way! Until the cutie arrived in the room opposite his, Tyson been lonely and disconsolate. Since then, they'd never been apart aside from that one long, horrible day that Vladimir spent the whole day shackled to his bed in the quiet room. But that was why he wanted Vladimir to leave. Two months was such a long time. Going out with his family for a few hours on a Saturday morning sounded perfect. He couldn't stand the thought of Vladimir passing that opportunity up because Tyson wasn't allowed to go with them. When Dale - ugh, Dale - came by to snatch Vladimir from the common room and take him away, Tyson gave him a tight hug. "I'll miss you!" Tyson informed him. "I'll miss you!" Vladimir looked like he was about to kiss him, but he pulled away instead, knowing Dale and other staff were watching. Disappointing. With Vladimir gone for the morning, Tyson wasn't sure how to spend it. Time moved slowly in the AIU, but it came to a standstill on the weekends. No appointments - only medication. He could read. Watch movies with some of the others. Maybe play board games or sit in the sun - but it wasn't fun without Vladimir. He actually began wishing he was home so he could use his flute or swim some laps - while his mother would turn them into a tiresome chore, at least there was some variety to enjoy. Or masturbate. Going on nearly three weeks in the hospital without doing what fourteen-year-old boys did best was a challenge, but every time he thought about it, he couldn't go through with it. The frequent checks and hospital environment were such a turn-off. He giggled to himself when he remembered the one time he'd attempted to find such relief in the shower only to have Alice call out for his reply when she did her check, and that was the last time he'd bothered to try. "Charlie!" Tyson knocked on the open door of the boy's room - it was a mess. He wondered where the youngster hid his contraband. "I'm bored. Come and play with me." Charlie poked his head up from the other side of his bed, those big eyes mostly hidden by the curly hair that fell over his face. What was he doing over there? Gorging on the treats he stole? The thought made Tyson grin ear to ear. He got to his feet, wearing cutesy alien pyjamas today. He wasn't much shorter than Tyson, who hadn't done his big growth spurt yet, and incredibly skinny. He never brushed his hair, and Tyson wasn't sure how often he showered. At least he put on new pyjamas daily, but changing the pillowslip wasn't as frequent, and it had some stains from the last few meals. He was lazily suckling on the corner of his pillow - he always had something in his mouth. Perhaps it was a comfort thing? His fingers, the pillow, his hair - whatever. Tyson felt chills when he saw again how institutionalised Charlie had become over the years. Utterly dependent - unless becoming a cupcake thief could be counted as independence - on having everything taken care of for him. Unable to speak or behave like a boy his own age and no idea how to groom himself. No family or friends. He didn't live. He existed. Most terrifying was the realisation that Tyson himself was slowly falling into a similar situation. The only place he felt safe was the hospital, however, he'd have to leave eventually - but the only place he could be released to was his family, and they weren't going to change. He knew in his heart that he would betray the promises he made to Vladimir, Vasily and Cynthia just to escape. He would die, or he would fail and return to the hospital. His family, if they hadn't already, would give up on him. As Neil said, long-term hospitalisation changed people. Tyson could well be looking at his future. Charlie. What could be worse than that? Being Charlie in a world where Chase Lovett had real power. There had to be a better way. But what could he do? He wasn't even old enough to legally give informed consent to his own treatment. "C-man! Do you want to play Go Fish? Or watch TV? Or anything?" Charlie gave a shy smile - an attractive sight. He usually looked so forlorn, with a tired look on his face. Tyson wasn't sure what medication he took, but it seemed to keep him emotionally flat. He walked awkwardly over to the doorway and stepped out of his room, closing the door behind him. "Okay," Charlie set a brisk pace, forgetting that Tyson's ankle was quite better just yet. "What do feel like?" Tyson asked, kneeling down by the bookcase full of different board games and packets of cards. "Uno? Jenga?" They were Vladimir's favourites. "Maybe Snap?" Charlie made a strange whimpering sound to let his intentions known - he'd already set out a marker and a blank piece of paper in front of him. Holy shit. This kid was so full of surprises. "You wanna learn?" Tyson asked him in amazement. "You wanna do maths?" It had been a while since Tyson first helped Charlie learn maths - at the time, it had been a convenient cover for him to steal a pencil sharpener from the education unit. Being so focused on his singular goal of killing himself, he thought nothing more of it. Vladimir pointed out how much his younger friend seemed to enjoy teaching Charlie how to do basic arithmetic, and that seed of thought was firmly planted in Tyson's brain. He was supposed to be a politician, a surgeon or a lawyer. Why settle for being a teacher when he had all the resources in the world to achieve greatness? What even was greatness, though? Chase Lovett was great in many senses of the word. Successful. Famous. Wealthy. But he wasn't a good person. He was using his greatness for the wrong reasons. Tyson could be great, too, but where did that leave people like Charlie? And when it all boiled down, what really separated Tyson from Charlie but experiences, time and circumstance? Seeing first-hand the types of people he was supposed to despise and scorn, becoming one of them, had Tyson thinking greatness was overrated. Maybe he liked teaching. Maybe he was good at it. Maybe he could make the world a better place for the Charlies. "How come you know everything?" Charlie asked him after he'd managed to solve his third problem in a row without needing any assistance at all. "I don't know everything," the boy shrugged as he made up some new sums for Charlie to solve. "You do!" Charlie giggled, gnawing at the corner of his pillowslip. "You do." "My mum made me learn things all day," Tyson admitted, his heart heavy. "I'd go to school, then I'd come home, and I'd have tutoring until it was bedtime." "What is tutoring?" "It's like school at home. A teacher visits and they teach you stuff. Sometimes stuff you don't learn at school. It sucks," he handed the purple marker back over to Charlie, who began to dot his own skin with it. "Is this tutoring?" "Yeah. Yeah! I suppose," Tyson ran his hands through his hair and decided to probe a little bit, more and more intrigued by his buddy. "Did you like school?" "I don't school," Charlie's voice was quiet and full of shame. "I don't know things." "You know how to add numbers together! You know all the characters in A Bug's Life!" Tyson leaned in and whispered, giggling as he did so. "You know how to take all the cupcakes from the kitchen." Charlie turned bright red underneath his mop of matted curls and snuggled his pillow closer to his chest. He'd been caught. "I'm not telling on you!" Tyson reassured him, watching him draw on himself. "I think you're brilliant, C-man. I never would have thought of that! Like, shit! You'd be a great super spy." Charlie's mouth opened up into a wide grin at the praise, and he looked so flattered. He didn't look after his teeth, Tyson noticed, seeing how crooked and discoloured some of them were. It was criminal, the way nobody took responsibility for this kid and let him turn into a teenage mess. Heartbreaking. "When will you leave?" Charlie asked him. "I'm not sure. Nobody's telling me anything about what's going on," Tyson admitted. "I might be here forever, or they might kick me out today. I just don't know." "Can you stay?" "Why? Are you going to miss me?" Tyson teased him, and Charlie nodded. "I'll visit, C-man. I'll even bring you some cupcakes that you didn't have to take from the kitchen." Charlie laughed and returned to his worksheet. It felt good to make the kid happy. He didn't have a lot to be pleased about, and... Tyson understood that. In the worst way. Being away from home and his restricting list of responsibilities for so long was enough to make him find some joy in life. Vladimir, most of all. But he would eventually be going home, and somehow, he felt worse off than he was coming into the hospital. He knew he meant nothing to Chase, but Edith could have been a different story. While his mother had been controlling, demanding and thoroughly cold to him his whole life, he always thought she cared about him in her own way. That maybe she was doing everything her way because she thought it would make him a better person. At least before the psychiatric review, even if he chose to avoid her, she would try to see him every day. It felt like she wanted him home not because his condition was a threat to her social standing, but because she wanted him there. Now that over a week had passed without any notice from her, now that he knew she didn't have any love for him at all, he was feeling more vulnerable and fragile than he ever had before, and he saw that part of himself reflected in Charlie's tortured blue eyes. "Hey C-man, I know I've been an arsehole to you a few times, but I'm glad I met you. I get that things have been shit for you for a long time, but... you're special to me. Thanks for being my friend." Charlie got up from his seat and shuffled closer. Tyson tensed up - Charlie had a violent streak in him if someone triggered him the wrong way. But the boy surprised him. Never had Tyson seen anyone touch Charlie - or be touched by him. It was one of the unwritten rules of the ward for staff and patients alike - do not touch the kid who was painfully traumatised by the horrible things that had happened to him. Charlie instead awkwardly fell onto Tyson and rested his head on the boy's shoulder. It was a display of affection, Tyson realised, but he wasn't brave enough to hug him back until Charlie grabbed Tyson's arm himself and put it around his back. He smelled unpleasant. Stale. And the pillow squashed between them was verging on gross. But still, the hug was lovely. "Don't go." Aww, shit. "I don't wanna go." He wasn't sure why he was starting to weep again. Tyson had become a damned mess since he came into the AIU. Always with the tears. Never did he cry at home. Not even as he tried to kill himself. But here, they spilt from his dark eyes every other day, it seemed. Whether he was sad, angry or even happy, he was always a stone's throw away from crying. It was frustrating. "Nooo don't be sad," Charlie whispered in his high-pitched, juvenile whine that decorated all of his simple words. "Wait here." The boy shot off like a bullet from a rifle, running in the pyjama bottoms slightly too small for him, arms wrapped around his safety pillow. Tyson wiped his eyes and took some deep breaths to slow himself down. Charlie returned shortly, and he forced an unopened packet of those rationed cookies into Tyson's hand, and the boy started laughing this time around. It was inspiring that Charlie could be so damaged by his awful experiences yet still be such a lovely person inside.
  10. Hay gurls and guys, I'm trying to upload a chapter of Heart every week, but this one's still not sitting right with me and I'm going to take some more time to polish it. 💔 Sorry! 

    1. Ivor Slipper

      Ivor Slipper

      Wish you luck with our duster. :)

  11. AusGlitterati


    The truth about Alexey's death is fairly up in the air, since multiple accounts have made their way to Tyson's ears. He was murdered; it was an accident; it was suicide. Vlad tends to conflate all three outcomes at once, depending on his state of mind and hallucinations - but he always blames himself and the monster is always involved. Tyson does have phone privileges, but nobody to call. 😜 Perhaps he could make contact with the media, but he's just a spoiled, ungrateful brat* and his parents are powerful, influential people.* He might not even have come to that as a possibility - his first and only recognised path to freedom was to kill himself, but we're working on that! Thanks for the comment! Big appreciation ❤️
  12. AusGlitterati


    Yes ~ main problem being that Tyson's parents are wealthy, influential people in high public standing and the type of abuse he undergoes is easily brushed off as overparenting. Plus, there is some artistic license at play so I beg you to suspend a little bit of disbelief! I'm terrifically glad you're enjoying the story! I'm doing my best to update weekly and I'm very sorry to hear of your struggles. ❤️ I hope it all worked out.
  13. AusGlitterati


    He's working on it! He does mean it at this point in time. Thank you very much! ❤️
  14. AusGlitterati


    Ya mental illness can strike even those with a good, healthy, loving family. ❤️ Tyson's still in the transition, but he's edging closer to the light! Still a long journey. :3 Thank you super duper muchly ❤️
  15. AusGlitterati


    "Tell me a story," Brianna, the most white bread woman in the world, was actually quite engaging when they were in the middle of therapy. "The main character is Tyson Belmont-Levitt, and the theme is the day of his discharge. How would you write this story?" "You talk a lot of shit," Tyson scowled at her, fingering his purple-brown scars. "Why would I tell a story we both know the ending to?" "Indulge me," Brianna could be so pushy. "On my day of discharge, my Mum takes me home and probably hits me half a hundred times because I've made her look bad. My Dad looks at me like I'm the dog he didn't agree to adopt and eats dinner in his study while Mum and Kelly and I don't say a fucking word to each other. I don't follow up with any appointments, I don't stay in touch with anyone, and everything goes back to how it was. Mostly because Mum's in denial about everything, not because I don't want to. When people ask where I've been, I say I've been doing an exchange program in Sri Lanka or some shit - or I might tell them the truth. I dunno. Then when we all go to bed; Mum might lock my door or something, but I'll just climb out the window and drown myself in the pool. Maybe I'll break the window and cut myself again so she has to explain to all her politician mates why I've got these ugly fucking scars. I'll never see Vladimir because Mum thinks crazy people are a waste of time and resources. I know I'm not supposed to say that word in here. Crazy. But that's what Mum thinks. Maybe I'll hang myself. Maybe I'll break my neck next time I fall down an embankment." "Do you have a suicide plan at the moment? A plan you can act on?" "I have at least a dozen plans. How hard is it to kill yourself? Well... hah. Apparently harder than I thought," Tyson managed to use some gallows humour to lighten the mood. "It's the first thing I've ever been actually bad at." "Now, you know I have to ask you this question, but are you safe in the ward at the moment?" "Safe? What does safe even mean?" Tyson snapped at her, spitting out that word as though it were poison. "You know what I mean," she replied quickly, but she'd already accidentally triggered a negative response. "I don't think you know what you mean! Safe? Do you know what safety to me is? Not going home. Not being alive long enough to go through that shit again. Safety? I'll be safe when I'm dead. That's what it means for me to be safe. Dead. Don't rub it in my face that I'm not. Maybe your other patients don't really want to die, but I do! Stick your one size fits all bullshit!" He explained fiercely, and she waited patiently for him to finish. "I'm sorry. It's a habit," she shrugged simply. "No, you're not like most suicidal patients. I hear what you're saying, and I apologise. So, what I mean to ask is are you at risk of self-harm while you're in this unit?" "If I wanted to hurt myself, then I would have already. None of you could stop me!, Tyson replied, calming down slowly and letting his heart rate return to normal. "Okay," she took that response to mean that he still intended to behave himself. "So, what if we could rewrite that story? You hold the pen in this hypothetical, Tyson. What would you change about your discharge day?" "I want to leave this place and go right to my parents' funeral," Tyson replied shakily, unafraid to be honest. Cynthia and Brianna had always respected his right to be angry and to vent it to them rather than combating it, so he was comfortable sharing those aggressive thoughts with them. "I want to set their coffins alight until both of them are nothing but ashes. And then I don't know." "Where would you go after their funeral?" "I have family in Sri Lanka. Maybe they'll take me in? I don't know. I don't think about it because it's never going to happen." "What about Kelly?" "Who the fuck cares about Kelly?" "Don't you?" "No," Tyson responded defensively. "She's a fucking ventriloquist dummy with Mum's hands so far up her arse I can smell Ôad Bouquet on her breath when she talks." Brianna took a short while to control herself - she was desperate to laugh. Tyson wouldn't mind if she did - therapy could be a tedious and depressing process without a bit of animation. "What about when you're eighteen?" She asked, covering her mouth to hide her huge smile. "What do you plan to do when you're eighteen?" "Avoid redundant questions," he rubbed his tired eyes. "Like that one." "Hey. You're supposed to indulge me for an hour a day," she reminded him playfully, and a smile flickered on his face. "Did you ever have plans?" Tyson's parents had already mapped out his future - he would choose between law, medicine or politics, and he would use that to both further his father's agenda and to enforce the far-right ideals of his family. Have a wife and children of his own, and he would serve as a great reminder of how people of colour could be a success in Australia - but only if they assimilated entirely. Tyson did not even know Sinhala - the language his relatives used in Sri Lanka. He spoke German, French and Australian Sign instead - but not the words of his background. Vladimir, however, was fluent in Russian and learned both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets since he was a baby. Not only that, but he and his brothers were all bestowed with common Russia names! Masha had assimilated well without forgetting her roots and culture. Tyson was so envious of that. Edith was so desperate to drop the heritage she was ashamed of and embrace her new country that she lost her birth name and picked a new one that hid her parentage. "No," he answered with a half-truth. "It never seemed important when I was going to be dead." "A boy with your talents, smarts and education? You would have the world whole at your fingertips when you're eighteen and your life... for lack of a better word, unlocks," Brianna played with her collar while she spoke. "Quite often when we speak, I actually forget you're not an adult yet. In a few years, you will be, and your parents will no longer have any legal hold on you at all." "Hey, can we finish this?" Tyson suddenly felt very uncomfortable, as though all his resilience was burned out and talking about himself was now rendering him vulnerable. "Sorry." "Yes, of course!" Brianna gathered up her notebook and diary. Cynthia did the same thing, and Tyson wondered if the psychiatrist was almost like a mentor to the younger woman. "I'll be in again tomorrow to see you. Do you have any questions or anything before I go? Any requests?" "You probably won't bring in a gun for me, so maybe forget it this time," Tyson remarked, bringing a smile to her face. She'd gotten used to his dark jokes. "Hey, why are you here every day, anyway?" "Hm? What do you mean?" She paused after she got to her feet from that horrible squeaky chair. "How come you're coming to see me every day?" Tyson asked her again, his eyes studying her. "You and Cynthia and Petra or... the other guy. You're all coming to see me every weekday, but nobody else in this place gets so many visits. Fucking Charlie sees a doctor for three minutes a week just for the useless bastard to say 'yep he's still fucked' and piss off out of here. What's the deal?" "It's the private sector, Tyson," Brianna smiled at him. She was convincing, but he didn't altogether believe her. "You know how the medical and psychiatric fields are. You get what you pay for." "That's fucked!" Tyson grumbled. "Charlie doesn't have parents. What's he supposed to do? Go between institutions for the rest of his life because nobody stepped in when they had a chance to do something for him because there's no profit in it?" "Well, let's hope your dad doesn't win the election," Brianna replied quietly on her way out, perhaps guiltily, but definitely with a hint of anger. "I'm sorry about your friend, Tyson. But this is about you." Ahh, Chase, Tyson thought with an eye roll. He who so tenderly calls handicap spaces "retard parking." He who often makes "jokes" about sterilising anyone with a mental illness or disability because they're "polluting our population." He who criticises "safe spaces" and "triggers" yet complains for the better part of a week when he spots a woman wearing a hijab to a restaurant while he's eating, claiming that the "scourge" of Islam is "taking over." The scary part, the one that further drove him to despair, was that there were so many people who believed his lies. Tyson had been there during rallies to support him. There was real ugliness in those people. Those who thought husbands deserved the right to rape their wives, those who believed people of colour were lesser people and those who preached that the queer community was out to morally poison or molest their children. To be a part of that movement, even unwilling, made Tyson sick. Still, since a week had passed since his psychiatric review with his bitch mother and Cynthia, Tyson was actually starting to grow used to his situation, and the idea that there might be light at the end of the tunnel was beginning to poke through the storm clouds. There were so many people looking out for him here - people with real influence and power. And of course, he had real friends in Charlie and Vladimir. They came with their deficits, of course. Charlie was an unsettling unit with a heart of gold and a kind, considerate nature, but on the flip side, he was also unpredictable and easily triggered into post-traumatic meltdowns. Vladimir was damn near perfect, in spite of his tendency to lose touch with what was going on around him and forget which stimuli were real and which were not. Tyson knew he wasn't a flawless specimen either - he was surly, capricious and prone to outbursts. But the three of them got along. They found comfort in each other. Tyson limped down the hallway from his room without his crutch now - Dr Okereke had taken it away. His ankle was healing, and while he still wore the compression bandage, he was able to put some weight on it. It hurt, so he made the most of it while it did, twisting it when he felt especially awful on the inside. Still, he found himself inflicting injury on his own body less and less as time went on. Perhaps the antidepressants were doing their job. He knew the benzodiazepines were. When he felt especially angry or an urge to hurt himself, his primary nurse would often bring him a dose of valium, and true to their word, he usually calmed down in around half an hour maximum. He could have up to three of those per day - often, he used between one and two. He couldn't help but notice that while the nurses let the other patients take their medications in their own time, they waited until he'd swallowed it before they left. They didn't trust him entirely just yet - afraid he might spit them out and store enough for an overdose. The ward had lost some of its patients and gained new ones. Annie, someone Tyson had grown used to see but had never interacted with, was discharged, as was Derrick, who was probably on his way to juvie. And... whosit from down the hall. The guy with the acne. In their place came Dalton, a severely depressed fourteen-year-old boy with a nasty stutter, and Bella, an older teenager with arms covered in old scars - and some fresh ones. There were spare rooms, though, and somehow that gave Tyson a buzz of hope as he limped past. Empty rooms meant there was room for people who needed them, and they would not be sent back into the world without adequate help because people like his ignorant dumbarse father didn't care. "Tyson! Did the appointment go well?" Sue was his morning nurse now, thanks to the rotating schedule. She must have been doing her checks. "Oh yeah, fuckin' ace," he grumbled, still sore about the tender subjects raised in his therapy session. "Aww, chin up, love," she smiled at him. "Sometimes if your suitcase can't hold all your luggage, you need to unpack everything and sort through it before it shuts. You know? Would you like anything from the kitchen? A scone? A hot milo?" "I'd like to get my own stuff from the kitchen," Tyson complained, twisting his injured foot so it hurt. "Nearly everyone else can. Charlie can! Why can't I?" "Any day now, love! We just can't let you in there without an escort until your risk rating drops," Sue spoke softly. "Do you think you're ready to go in the kitchen?" "Yes! It's not like I can do shit in there anyway!" He folded his arms. "Everything's locked away, the mugs are plastic and the only taps are cold and tepid. If I want a luke-warm cup of tea, I should be able to get one without coming to a grown-up like a child." "I'll pass it on to your doctor when she comes in," the middle-aged nurse promised, scribbling on her pad. "The rules do seem silly sometimes. Even for me. But they exist to make sure we're all safe, okay? Why don't you go and get some sunshine? Vladimir's out there." The inpatient courtyard was a pretty place, Tyson had to admit. It was a square surrounded by other parts of the hospital - two corridors and the common room, all full of windows so everyone outside could be supervised at all times. A big concrete wall separated the open unit with the high-dependency unit. It was an ugly cream colour, but it was covered in paintings and murals by past patients with an artistic streak, and it was quite pretty. Ferns and other plants and bushes decorated the open space, and there was a small asphalt square with a basketball hoop on the other side, and a big shaded gazebo in the middle. Vladimir was spending more and more time out here lately - Tyson didn't know whether it was the warming weather or his treatment working its charm. Perhaps it was both. Tyson wasn't as keen on the outside, particularly since it was still allergy season, but there was nothing sweeter than swinging gently with his favourite person with a gentle breeze. "Cuuuutie!" Vladimir called as he saw Tyson slipping through the sliding door. "You'll change your mind when I'm snotting everywhere," Tyson warned him, but he was always so thrilled and giddy when this beautiful guy said such sweet things to him. "You're right. You're disgusting, and I can barely stand the look of you," Vladimir teased him, but he could not hide the grin on his face. "Look at those perfect white teeth and the fit body and the pretty eyes. You're a disgrace. Shame on you!" "Don't forget these ugly fuckin' scars!" Tyson added, hopping down on the swing chair with his friend and slipping nice and close. Vladimir's only response was to take Tyson's scarred arm and to trace them with his fingers. Gently. Lovingly. They still itched a little bit - likely psychosomatic, Dr Okereke explained. When Vladimir sealed his acceptance of Tyson's past mistakes by kissing his wrist and smiling at him, Tyson started sniffling all over again. He had no idea why. He didn't deserve the type of love and affection Vladimir gave him. After all, everybody would see those scars for the rest of his life and know what he tried to do. They were disgusting. Shameful. Vladimir didn't think so, though. He had still never asked about them, Tyson realised. Nor did he either stare or avoid looking at them. They didn't say much to each other. Vladimir was quiet today. He didn't even hum, whisper or sing to anyone who existed only in his head. Tyson tucked himself under the older boy's arm and let himself just be content, watching the clouds above them while Vladimir rocked them gently with his foot on the ground underneath. Life isn't so bad. I wouldn't mind going to school and doing sports and learning instruments if I could do this every day. I like the flute and the piano. Soccer is fun. School is alright when Mum's not hovering like an air strike drone. How would I rewrite my story? Mum would choose me. She would pick me and not Chase. She would leave him and realise what a fucking mess she made of everything, and she would take me with her. She'd tell me she was sorry and that she loved me and she'd hug me and kiss me and do things Mums are supposed to do. We'd go out and eat a burger once in a while and see a movie, and she'd ask me if I wanted to learn music and history and advanced calculus instead of telling me I needed to. I don't want her to die... not really. I just want her to love me. "Vlad," Petra called from the door after a time. "You have a couple of visitors! Come along!" "Woo woot! Hey, you're coming, right?" Vladimir asked as he got up from the seat. "I don't know. They're here to see you, not me," the younger boy shrugged shyly. "Yeah, right," Vladimir tried to pull him up by the arm, but Tyson was heavier than he looked thanks to the muscle he'd built from years of athletic training and sports and flopped back, turning into dead weight. "Don't make me tickle you. You know I will." The threat when coupled with Vladimir's fingers reaching for his ribcage was enough to have Tyson up on his feet in two seconds flat, and Tyson giggled at his friend's smug grin. Their disagreements had grown considerably more one-sided these days, as Tyson was ticklish and Vladimir was not, and the Russian was not above exploiting that to convince Tyson to see things his way. Though he would never in a million years admit it to anyone, especially Vladimir, Tyson enjoyed their hijinks and found a sort of joy in giving in to his friend when they were playing around. He would fight to the death if it were anyone else, but he liked to concede to the pretty pale boy. "Daddy!!" The moment Petra escorted the two young men into the visitor's room, Vladimir launched himself at the man Tyson had not seen before. He was a broad, round-bellied man who stood around six and a half feet tall, with grey eyes, silver hair and peppery stubble above and below his lips. Though Vladimir and all of his brothers looked a lot like their mother, Tyson could see the differences in detail filled in from his father's features. The very round eyes and tiny upturn of the nose, and the height! "Hello, моыа звезда," she always called him that. It meant 'my star' and always warmed his heart, even on its coldest of days. "How are you, Tyson? You're looking good on that foot!" "Hi," Tyson replied coolly, his initial warmed heart quickly turning cold with envy and resentment. "Sorry. I didn't want to come, but Vlad made me." "Are you alright?" She furrowed her brow - it was beginning to permanently crease in her middle years. With four boys, one schizophrenic, another depressed and a third with autism, Tyson decided she'd earned the right to a few wrinkles. "Are you having a bad day, love?" She steered him towards the couch, glancing at Vladimir and his father, who were speaking their stupid language that Tyson didn't understand. "They're all bad days," Tyson told her bitterly, shaking her arm off his as they sat down together, him as close to the arm of the furniture as he possibly could be. "You and whatshisface don't need me here. Neither does Vlad." "I suppose we don't need you here," she confirmed, hurting his feelings before she doubled back. "But we do want you here. All of us. If you're not feeling up to it, then we can visit you another time, okay? Don't feel left out. Vasily is very interested in meeting you." She knew exactly what was eating at him, and she didn't shy away from discussing it. Tyson appreciated her frankness, and he was reassured by her kind and loving words that he was not intruding - though he always felt as though he was, no matter how much the entire Tchaikovsky family insisted otherwise. To have people coming in and being warm and friendly and sociable, to ask about things other than doctors and release dates and lawyers, to laugh and smile and hug - all of it felt so alien. He could not help but believe it was all too good to be true. If he set himself up for disappointment, then he could not have his heart broken. "This is Tyson!" Vladimir dragged his father over and pointed down at the dark-skinned boy hiding next to Masha. "Tyson, this is my dad!" Tyson's chivalry, manners and charisma immediately kicked in, and he quickly pushed all of his feelings out of the way as he got to his feet, standing straight-backed and tall - as far as tall went for the still growing boy. He extended a hand and forced a smile onto his face. "A pleasure to meet you, Mr Tchaikovsky," he'd been practising his Russian pronunciation of that name - the differences were slight, but that was how it was meant to sound. "I am Tyson Belmont-Lovett." "What a grip on this one," Vasily remarked with a satisfied grin, earnestly shaking his hand. "The pleasure is mine, Tyson. You can just call me Vasily - or Vas." "Or Silly," Masha interjected, drawing a chuckle from the three Russians as Vladimir slumped down and rested his head on her shoulder. "Do you mind having a chat with me?" Vasily asked him, his voice thickly accented, and Tyson's main concern was that he'd have to ask the man to repeat himself too many times. Tyson shot a look at Petra, who was busy filling out superfluous paperwork, he imagined. She did not expect any outbursts or drama, even with Tyson involved, so she was giving them all space while she supervised. He shot a look at Masha, who gave a slight nod of reassurance. Vladimir was already beginning to strike up a conversation with her. Tyson sighed, but he followed the huge man to the couch on the other side of the coffee table. He already had an idea of how this might go. Vasily would interrogate him about whether or not he was suitable for Vladimir, and Tyson would tell him to go fuck himself. He already had a set of parents perpetually disappointed in him. He did not need another. He was done with not being good enough. "It's so good to see him so happy again," Vasily remarked, watching his son fondly as he and Masha snuggled on the couch. "When I was here last, three weeks ago, he was miserable. Psychotic. He looks good. I hear you have something to do with that, yes?" This wasn't Tyson's planned conversation, so it caught him off guard. "Um. I don't know. He's the one who cheers me up." "Modest. I like that," Vasily turned his body. "I work offshore on an oil rig for weeks at a time. I don't get to come in and visit my boy - but he calls me sometimes, and he tells me about his friend Tyson. Blah blah blah, you can't shut the boy up!" Tyson flushed and struggled to maintain eye contact. "He tells me that this young man in the hospital, this Tyson, makes every day better for him. He says Tyson shares his chips during the meals, always. He says Tyson reads to him and teaches him the big and hard words. But my favourite part is when he says that Tyson always talks to him when he is hearing voices and makes sure he is never alone. Never. So when I come home from the rig, I want to meet this Tyson and tell him man to man that I appreciate everything he does for my son." This isn't how the conversation was supposed to go at all, Tyson thought as he gingerly let his guard down. "You are gay, yes?" Vasily asked matter-of-factly, and fear flickered over Tyson's face. "I... I don't know..." Tyson stammered uncomfortably. "Vladimir is gay. I know it since he was two," Vasily claimed, and when Tyson began giggling, he chuckled as well. "That is the truth! No joke! But you like him. Yes?" "Is that okay?" Tyson asked quietly, his eyes shifting to the teenage boy conversing so merrily with his mother. They had a fantastic bond. Again, Tyson felt envy in his heart. "Boys can like boys, I don't understand it, but he is my son, so I will always love him," the big man leaned forward. Ahh. So this is where he cocks his leg and sprays in the corner, Tyson thought. "You are good to Vlad. You have my blessing." Oh, wrong again. "But I wish to ask something first. Is that okay?" Ah. Here it is. "What is it?" Tyson asked him, meeting his steely gaze. "Vlad's last boyfriend killed himself," Vasily whispered, and Tyson's eyes widened. "And we nearly lose him in the process. I can't have that happen again, you understand? So if you want to love my son, I ask only that you don't do that again." He pointed to Tyson's scarred wrist, and the boy shamefully hid it from view. Tyson's first reaction was to get angry. Who was this guy to bring up this sort of shit to him? He worked on an oil rig, for fuck's sake. Tyson's second reaction was to kick that aside. He still thought it was rude of Vasily to breach that subject, but he supposed the man was only looking out for his son. If that was the only requirement Tyson had to check off for Vasily's blessing to get close to Vladimir, that was fine. "I won't," Tyson promised, and he put out his hand to shake on his word. "Thank you, Vasily." With a shake and a mutual smile, the two of them rejoined Masha and Vladimir, and much of the visit entailed father and son catching each other up on recent events. Tyson's head was swimming, though. Vasily was fine - much better than his own dad, at least, but he was deep in thought as his eyes studied the older boy. It wasn't just a friend who died, as Vladimir had told him. It was a boyfriend who committed suicide. He respected Vladimir's right to privacy, of course, but Tyson couldn't help wondering what else he was keeping to himself. Were there other skeletons in his closet?
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