“What?” Sam looked up, confused. The last few minutes had been a blur. He took in his surroundings. He was on the floor of the living room. Yes, he fell when Hunter hit him. It wasn’t really the force of the blow, but the emotional impact that drove him into the ground. He remembered the boy kneeling over him, his fist pulled back once again, ready to deliver…what? Justice? Vengeance? A simple release of grief? But his arm fell limp and Hunter ran upstairs. Dana slowly got up and followed her son, sparing a backward glance towards her husband. The gulf was growing. And she was gone now.
“When we talked…two days ago…You told me about how some people do bad things for the right motives. Or simply because they have no choice. Or maybe it’s the only way they can provide for their family. But you said that few men were actually rotten. Truly bad, corrupt souls.” Alexi said. Sam hadn’t noticed him through the last few minutes’ haze. But now it became evident that the boy hadn’t left him alone. He sat on the floor, just like Sam himself. Even the smell of his own sick didn’t drive him away. He had been absorbed by his own thoughts. He felt cursed. It seemed like an eternity ago when he had told Hunter that he felt blessed to be a part of his family. He smiled bitterly. ‘I had no idea. No fucking clue just how much God hates me. This is a cruel fucking joke. I just want to be normal and live a goddamn normal life. Instead, life just hands me lemons and no fucking sugar for the lemonade.’ He sighed. Still, he had felt more affection from these people in a week than from everyone else he had know in his entire life. ‘Even if they are one fucked up family.’ Steely resolve washed down over him. He had no idea where that certainty of character, where that strength came from. But he knew then that he wouldn’t give up. He had promised Dana once. Promised himself. If he would need to be the catalyst of reconciliation, then so be it. He would heal this family, reform the bond that held them together, no matter what. He looked at Sam.
“So…are you a bad man, Sam?”
There was a long pause. The silence was becoming oppressive. He wanted to break it, but Alexi forced himself to keep quiet. This was as much about Sam’s inner demons as anything else.
“Yes. I am.” Sam finally answered.
Another pause. Alexi searched Sam’s face, he studied the emotions evidently playing in his eyes. Their gazes were locked. Sam felt ashamed and pained, yet he could not look away.
“I don’t think you are. A bad man would have lied. Denied his own faults. Tried to justify himself, at the very least.”
“Maybe I’m an honest villain.” Sam replied.
“Or maybe you’re repentant.”
Sam snorted disdainfully. “What does it matter? The things I’ve done…The pain I’ve caused. And there I was, lecturing you about good and evil. The hypocrisy of it all…”
“You were talking from experience.”
“Yeah? Maybe I was trying to justify the things I’ve done, just like you said.”
“No, I don’t think so. You were trying to impart a lesson. Sam…” Alexi moved next to the man, crouched down and placed his hand on his chest. “Maybe you’ll think I’m just a kid who knows fuck all. And cheesy on top of that, but I know there’s more to you. There’s good and love and it’s in here.” He said, tapping Sam’s chest lightly. “I don’t want to know the things you’re done. And I don’t think you want to revisit them right now. But I know you want absolution. Not as someone who stares into death and is afraid of what awaits him, trying for forgiveness at the last second. But as someone who truly regrets his choices in life. Someone who has caused and felt pain. It’s never too late, Sam. To change. To find peace.”
“Christ, that was cheesy.” Sam said, with the barest hint of a smile. Yet when he spoke more, his voice cracked. “But it is too late. I’m too far down the rabbit hole.” Then he got up and moved away, leaving Alexi to his thoughts once more.
“He said that, did he? Well, the kid’s got balls, I’ll give ‘im that.”
Myke Henson was an attractive man. 6’3” and with a truly regal poise. His back always straight and his chin up. His pale complexion suited him well, especially when one took into account the pale blue eyes. There was something exquisitely male about him. A certain power he exuded, despite his fine features, perfect manicure, spotless face and superbly-tailored suit. Strength poured out from him and he never failed to impress. His only son took after his whore of a mother. That was unfortunate. Yet, he sometimes could see traces of himself in the boy and that gave him hope. Which is why Eric had never been given free reign with Evan.
“Yes, sir. He said he’d do it his way.” Eric said.
“Interesting…So, he doesn’t know that wasn’t my call. Very interesting. I told you that it wasn’t the right move as well, but what’s done is done. Still, he realized it was a mistake.”
“So…you’re not mad?”
“Mad? Perhaps a little. I told that oaf it was a miscalculation. Things could have escalated. In the end, it may have worked out better than expected, given the situation. He has the boy’s trust. I’m willing to let this play out and see where it goes. Are you sure that neither Samuels nor that bitch of his can make the connection between us?”
“Good. Then I suppose patience is required now. We need to make sure that our…friend understands that as well. Besides, they’ll be on their guard now. Any other attempts would either fail or tip our hand completely.” Henson took a swig from his glass of scotch and looked out his window at the falling sun.
Hunter wasn’t in his room when Alexi went up to talk to him that evening. He had knocked on his door twice before that afternoon, but Hunter told him to go away each time. ‘Third time lucky’ Alexi thought as he knocked once again. Sam might have given up for the time being, but he wouldn’t. He would not stop his efforts and, if nothing else, he at least needed to be there for Hunter, to console him as the pain of losing Bran afflicted him afresh.
“Come on, buddy, open the door. It’s just me, I promise. I just want to talk. Open up, please.” There was no response. Alexi suddenly felt angry. “Come on, dipshit, you’re not the only one hurting right now, okay? How do you think I feel, getting dragged in this fucked up situation?” Alexi wasn’t worried about people overhearing him and being outraged at his language. Dana had left for work at noon and Sam…well, who knew where Sam had run off to? Work as well, Alexi supposed, though that made a shiver run down his spine. ‘Or maybe he’s drowning his sorrow somewhere.’
“Come on, you fucker, open this goddamn door and talk to me or I’m breaking it down!” Alexi yelled, pounding his cane on the door. He forced himself to calm down. He was ready to go to his own room and sulk. ‘I can wallow in misery and self-pity as well, you fuckers. I’m becoming quite an expert at it, as a matter of fact.’ He turned his back to the door. ‘At least try the door handle, you ass-clown.’ And so he did. The door opened. ‘Brilliant, Einstein. Shout your head off in the hallway and the door is unlocked. Christ!’
H e took a few tentative steps and glanced about. It was quiet. And empty. He went to the bathroom door and tried his routine once again. “Dude, if you’re in there, I’m not going through that shit again, okay?” You have 5 seconds to answer me or I’m coming in, whether you’re naked or not.” He waited for a minute. Once again, he opened the door. And as he was once again greeted by emptiness and quiet, he became concerned.
He started walking around the house. He was sure Hunter had to be somewhere inside. There was one of those black SUVs parked outside the house. Alexi was sure that ther “bodyguards” were inside. Surely, they’d have noticed Hunter walking out and Sam specifically told them they were to stay put for the time being. In the kitchen, he found Vince, sitting at the table, sipping tea and reading an evening newspaper.
“Hello, Alexi. Have you misplaced something?”
“You look as if you’re lost or searching for something.” Vince told him, levelly.
“Oh, no. I guess I’m just a little fidgety. You know…stuck around the house and all. And I’m a little hungry as well. So, I was thinking of making a sandwich. You want one?” he asked, as he moved to the fridge.
Vince stared at him for a few seconds. God, Alexi hated that stare. “No. I think I’ll just go finish my tea outside, see how the guys are doing.” Without any other explanation, Vince got p and left the kitchen.
“Mmm…yes. You do that.” Alexi called after him. Then he took out his phone and called Hunter. No answer. Now, he was truly worried. ‘Where the fuck could he…’ His own thought process was interrupted, as the image of Hunter’s room flooded his memory. ‘Fuck, I’m such an idiot!’
Alexi hobbled up the stairs and made his way to Hunter’s room. The window was open. He hadn’t given it a second thought before, but now it was so painfully obvious. How could he have been so stupid? Alexi, sure, for neglecting the obvious staring him in the face, but Hunter was stupid as well. Leaving like that. What if something happened to him? He was just about to go down and tell Vince all about it, but then he saw the photo on the nightstand. He remembered Hunter showing it to him once before. The night of their talk. The two brothers, Hunter and Bran. He saw the boys’ surroundings. Hunter told him the photo had been taken at their cabin at the lake. That was it. That’s where Hunter had run off to! But how? ‘His dad’s a friggin drug dealer, moron. It’s fair to say his allowance would cover the cab fare.’ Alexi couldn’t help but wonder what his allowance would be should they all get over the whole “criminal dysfunctional family” thing.
He once again fished his phone out of his pocket. He was ready to call Dana. But she was at work. Sam? ‘Hell no. Baaaaaaaaad idea.’ Vince? Alexi shuddered. He looked out the window, staring into nothingness. Then he dialed…
Evan was lost in thought. He had already finished his work-out. Twice over, in fact. It always helped him think when he had to. It also helped him clear his mind at times when worries seemed to drown him. Today had been a bad day. He couldn’t focus enough to actually contemplate his situation, nor was he capable of completely shutting off his thought process. Nor did he get a real work out, due to his lack of focus. By his own estimations, he was totally and utterly screwed. He was sitting up on his bed, a book resting in his lap, almost forgotten. He’d been reading the same page for the past hour, so what was the point? His phone rang and he came crashing down to earth. He checked the caller ID and felt a lump in his throat. ‘Yup, totally screwed.’
“Hey, man. It’s good to hear from you. Your mom…Err, Dana, I mean, she called last night, told me everything would be fine, but I didn’t want to bother you…”
“Right…Sure…That’s why you didn’t call…” A long, uncomfortable pause.
“I need to ask you a favor.” Alexi cut in. “I…I don’t know who else to call, really. It’s not like I have any friends here, you know? And the Samuels…Well, Hunter kinda ran away.”
“What?!” Evan jumped off the bed.
“Yeah, but I know where he is. I mean, I’m pretty sure. But I can’t get there without a ride, so…I was thinking…”
“I’ll be at your place in 30 minutes, okay?”
“Ummm…yeah, that’d be great.” Alexi was a bit taken aback by Evan’s eagerness. “But make sure you park around the corner, okay? Coming up to the front door is a bad idea, seeing as I don’t want anyone to know I’m leaving. Or that Hunter is gone, for that matter.”
“Yeah, sure thing. Be right over.” Evan hung up. This was too good to be true. Then he sighed. ‘God, you’re playing a cruel trick on me, aren’t you? Hunter and Alexi running away? Is this my crucible? Crunch time? Do or die? The moment to decide?’ He shook his head and heaved a deep breath, then walked down stairs.
Alexi got a call from Evan half an hour later, telling him he had arrived. Now all Alexi had to do was go out a back window. He made his way awkwardly unto the roof and stared down at the ground. He could feel his leg trembling. ‘Wait…I’m a fucking moron!’ Then he went back inside, calmly walked down the stairs, made sure Vince was still outside, and simplythen he walked out the back door. ‘Sneaking around is easier than I thought!’
Five minutes later, he was in Evan’s truck. Alexi was grateful that Evan had decided a real, 4-wheel, doors, roof, seats and seatbelts mode of transportation was a better choice for the occasion and had left his motorcycle at home.
“Thank you so much, Evan. You didn’t have to do this.”
“Sure.” Evan replied. ‘But don’t thank me yet. The jury’s still out.’ Then he glanced towards Alexi, who was looking back at him. He desperately wanted to turn around and face him. Take in the boy with all he had to offer. Really stare into those green eyes. Run his hand through his hair and caress his face. But he didn’t dare. He was desperately afraid. The paths before him couldn’t be clearer…or more different. But if he could still walk down the middle for a little while, well, then he had to. He would try and avoid the issue for as long as possible. But the moment was coming. He knew.
The two boys drove off. It took them 45 minutes, spent mostly in silence, before they got to the lake. ‘You could’ve at least turned on the radio, you dumb shit.’ Evan thought. They got out of the car and stared around for a bit. It wasn’t a large lake, but there were plenty of people around, trying to enjoy the last few days of August. “Now what?” he asked Alexi, who pulled out a photo and looked down at it.
“This way.” Alexi said, after seemingly cross-checking landmarks with the photo. The two walked for a few hundred feet, until they reached a playground. The swings were the same as in the photo, if a little more battered by the elements over the past few years. Alexi scanned the area around him, then his eyes settled on Hunter, sitting on the ground, close to the lake, his back to them. He was leaning on his elbows, his legs stretched before him. He seemed at peace, but Alexi knew better. He could see the storm clouds brewing around him, despite the apparent sunshine.
Alexi moved towards Hunter. Evan followed hesitantly, then stopped a few feet away from the two boys, as Hunter looked up to see Alexi, who crouched down and took the other boy into a hug. Hunter was shaking. He was crying. And Alexi was trying his best to comfort him. Alexi, a kid who barely knew Hunter or his family. Yet, warmth and affection poured out of him and covered Hunter. Evan couldn’t help but feel mesmerized. He knew from the moment he saw him that Alexi was special. He didn’t understand it. He didn’t want to believe it, but it was true. Watching him care for Hunter made Evan’s heart sink. The decision was becoming increasingly harder to make. He went over to the other two.
When Hunter noticed Evan, he instantly felt embarrassed. He was crying, for God’s sake! He didn’t want anyone to see him like that. Alexi was okay. He was family. But no one else. Then he felt embarrassment make way for anger. He felt betrayed. Alexi had brought Evan. ‘But that means he didn’t tell my parents where I was, otherwise they’d be here, instead of Evan.’ He felt guilt. How could he have believed Alexi would betray his trust? He wiped away his tears, sat up and shook Evan’s hand.
“Look, man, sorry about the other day, when I attacked you…”Hunter started.
“You WHAT?!” Alexi asked, stupefied.
“Oh, yeah. I guess you were kinda dazed at that moment, so it’s no surprise you don’t remember.” Hunter chuckled. “I kinda jumped and kicked your boyfriend’s ass.”
“He’s not my boyfriend!” Evan and Alexi both replied. They looked at each other for a moment, before Evan broke off the eye contact and looked away.
“Anyway…”Hunter continued awkwardly. “Like I said, I kinda attacked him, thinking he had hurt you.”
“And you actually survived?” Alexi answered.
“Well, I’m not a fucking infant, okay? I can handle myself!” Hunter replied, a hint of irritation in his tone.
“Yeah, but Evan’s…something else. I bet you sucker-punched him. He’d have pummeled you…”
“Look, can we drop this?” Evan asked, uncomfortably. It was crunch time. “Can we just get out of here already?”
“I’m not going anywhere.” Hunter replied.
“You heard me. I ain’t going back home. Not right now, anyway.” He pulled out a set of keys. “The cabin’s right around the corner. I’m staying there, at least for tonight. I just can’t handle being at home right now.”
“Your dad’s gonna kill you.” Alexi said.
“Really?” Hunter laughed bitterly. “He does have that effect on his sons, doesn’t he?” Hunter turned his back to Alexi and Evan, trying to hide the fresh tears welling in his eyes. “Anyway, if you wanna stay, you’re more than welcome to join me. I even bought some eggs and sausages, so we won’t starve!” he went on, somewhat proudly, as if his ability to buy groceries proved his survival skills.
Evan didn’t know what to say. It seemed providence certainly wasn’t giving him an easy out. A night in a somewhat isolated cabin, with Alexi and Hunter? It was just too easy. He cursed himself silently, then gave his ascent. He could see the large grin on Alexi’s face and felt himself go cold with dread.
They had eaten. To call it “far from gourmet” would be an understatement. But hey, it was edible. Small victories and all that…Now Hunter was explaininghanding out the sleeping arrangements.
“Okay, so…The bed in what is usually my bedroom is busted and I have a bad back. Fortunately, the couch in the living room is excellent. You two will share the master bedroom. There’s a queen-sized bed in there, so you two should fit in nicely.” He had to struggle to contain a snigger. ‘Oh, I’m sure they’re not QUEENS!’ he thought. Alexi plainly read what was going through his mind, because he simply rolled his eyes in exasperation.
“You two should share the bed, especially with your back…” Evan said.
“No, no. The couch is actually better for my aching spine. It’s…errr…custom made. Now, off you go to bed, you two.” Hunter said, winking at Alexi and causing him to blush.
True enough, the bed was big enough for the two of them to be more than comfortable.
“Listen…about Hunter. You should know, ignoring him is probably for the best…” Alexi started.
Evan stepped close to him. He reached out a hand behind Alexi and closed the door. He still wasn’t sure what he was doing, what he was feeling and why, but one thing he understood. Desire. He wanted Alexi. He placed his hand on the small of Alexi’s back and pulled him ever closer. Damn this boy for making him feel this way. Damn his father. Damn the world and everything in it. Their lips met. Softly. Tenderly touching, as if afraid that anything stronger would break the spell. Convinced that the magic bond would hold, tenderness evolved into passion. Alexi parted his lips and Evan felt his tongue probing into his mouth. He finally threw caution into the wind and yanked Alexi off his feet and threw him on the bed.
“Ooof” came the sound from Alexi, but then the boy started giggling. It was intoxicating for Evan. If only things weren’t so complicated. He stood there, watching Alexi, who was staring back, with a lopsided grin on his face. But things were simple then. All that mattered was passion and…maybe love? No, that was too much. Lust, yes, that was it. But it wasn’t lust he first felt for Alexi. It was…more. “AH, SCREW IT!” Evan yelled and he moved next to Alexi, leaning over him, covering his face in soft, caressing little kisses. Then he pulled him into a sitting position and took off his t-shirt. Alexi suddenly felt a bit shy and tried to cover himself, but Evan moved his hands away and once again looked into those deep green eyes. “Trust me, Alexi.”
He ran his fingers gently down Alexi’s chest, as he once again pushed him down on the bed. He bent down and kissed Alexi once again. On the lips, on the chin, on his neck, his chest, his flat stomach. Then he looked up into Alexi’s face and waited for permission. Alexi nodded and Evan quickly undid the belt of his jeans, then the buttons. He could already feel the warmth and hardness underneath the garment. He placed his fingers inside the waistband of his jeans, as well as the boxers Alexi wore. When he pulled them off, Alexi was left naked before Evan. Beautiful. His sight drifted down Alexi’s right leg. Scars. Alexi suddenly felt very uncomfortable and tried to cover himself. “No.” Evan said, brushing aside any protest. He placed his lips on those long scars and the world dissolved for Alexi. He felt safe and loved. Soon, he drifted into ecstasy, as Evan moved up to his steely hard-on and encircled it with his strong fingers. As Evan’s hand moved ever so softly up and down, low moans started escaping Alexi and Evan tried to contain them with his mouth, as they once again started their little tongue-wrestling game.
When the kiss broke, Alexi felt incomplete. He didn’t want to lose that feeling. But he soon forgot that fleeting loneliness as he felt Evan’s warm breath on his cock. Suddenly Alexi’s back arched in pleasure as he felt Evan take him in inch by inch. He was writhing with new sensations. With unimaginable pleasure. He felt his very essence being warmed for the next few minutes. Unfortunately, they truly were few and Alexi soon found himself cursing his lack of experience. He convulsed as his cock erupted deep inside Evan’s mouth. He wanted to warn him, but he couldn’t form the words. Evan didn’t stop. He kept going, nursing on Alexi’s cock until it was truly spent. Words still failed Alexi. He was dizzy. He wanted to thank Evan. To tell him how amazing it was. To repay the service. But he could only return the kiss when Evan finally moved up to face him. Finally, he spoke.
“Well, glad I haven’t lost my touch.” Evan replied. They both remained unmoving for a while. Alexi broke the comfortable silence.
“Do you want me to…? I mean…Can I try?”
Evan turned his face to him and smiled. “No, that was for you. And only you. My gift. My way to show you that I care about you. ‘That I love you’. There’s plenty of time for more. But tonight, I just wanted you to experience that and…well…”
“Yes? And what…?”
“Errr…simply hold each other.” Evan said, blushing. “I’ve had sex before, but never really…you know, cuddled. Never fell asleep holding someone I care about.” He continued, his eyes moist. Alexi propped himself up on one elbow and devoured Evan with his eyes. How could he never have experienced love? Someone so perfect? Someone who deserved it so much?
“Sure thing.” He kissed him lightly. “But get undressed. I at least want to feast my eyes, if nothing else.” He said, grinning evilly.
Evan stood and slowly started stripping. Alexi couldn’t tare his eyes off his prize. He couldn’t understand why someone so perfect would want him, but for whatever reason, he had been blessed with Evan and he wanted to take advantage of every second and every inch of his body. But not tonight. Tonight, he would respect Evan’s wishes. Naked, they lay under the covers, in each other’s arms, and drifted off to sleep.
Evan awoke a few hours later, the same nagging thoughts that had been bothering him all day startling him in his sleep. He knew. That twisted fucker upstairs played another trick on him. He sure liked to mess with Evan’s life and now he made him fallwas in love with the boy he held in his arms. He couldn’t deny it. He tightened his grip on Alexi. He didn’t want to let go, no matter what. He knew what it would mean, for both of them, but he had made his decision, for better or worse and he…THEY would live with it. He smiled and kissed Alexi on the forehead. The boy stirred.
A car door. Whispered conversation. Footsteps. A gun being cocked.
“Fuck! Alexi. Alexi, wake up.” Evan whispered in the boy’s ear, as he shook him. “We’ve got company.”