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Basically Yaoi, But With Ninjas. - 3. Latte and Grilled Tomatoes.

I get back to my hotel room around Two AM.

I revert my wave-suit to its watch form, sit on my bed, and put my face in my hands.

I take a long, deep breath. Then another.

‘It’s okay, Liam,’ I tell myself. ‘The job’s done. You’re fine.’

I’m back outside in under a minute.

I can’t sit still. Can’t lay down. Sure as fuck can’t sleep.

I just killed a man. Not my first, true enough; and almost certainly not my last. But it still happened. I fought for my life. Nearly lost my life. There’s a touch of mania lurking in my brain. Something that tells me to move; to decompress. I need to run.

It’s always been like this for me. Not every fight, of course. Just the big ones. The ones that remind me I could die. I head out into the winter air, pick a direction, and start to run.

For a while, all I can hear is the thudding of my feet against the pavement; the slow in and out of my breathing becoming gradually more ragged; the beating of my heart inside my chest.

I can feel his hands squeezing the life out of my neck.

I can see his skull breaking.

I run harder.

I’m not sure how long the sprint goes on, just that the moon is a good way further along the sky than it was when I started.

I only stop when my legs give out, slumping hard against a narrow alleyway wall, the hoodie I threw on before I left now soaking through with sweat.

I can’t feel his hands on my neck anymore.

My memory goes to someone else’s touch.

David’s fingertips, trailing along my ribs.

David’s fist, colliding with my jaw.

I let out a yell, not even sure what it is that makes me angry. I push up on shaky legs, and send a punch into the alleyway wall. The impact sends pain ringing up my knuckles. I look them over. They’re bleeding.

I peel off my sweat drenched hoodie, and wrap it loosely around my fists.

I punch the wall until I can no longer remember his breath against my neck; or the anger in his eyes.

It takes a while.

Losing my virginity sounded like such a good idea at the time. First solo mission. New town. No backup. Enemies I might never have seen before. Why not find out what it felt like before the call?

And it felt good. Seriously good. That’s probably why the memory’s so bitter in my head.

Part of me wishes it had sucked. I wish he had sucked. Maybe that way, it wouldn’t feel like I’d lost something here.

‘You wanted it to be special,’ I tell myself. ‘And you fucked it up. Get over it.’

I draw myself into something resembling an upright position, and pull my hoodie back on, once again aware of the winter chill. The fabric is stained with spots of blood, matted with grit and brick dust.

My legs are too tired for the walk back. I step into the shadow, and shift across however many miles towards my hotel room through the void.

I warp in through the window, and land on the bed, face down.

The last thought that passes through my brain as I pass out is that The Pilot had better follow through. I don’t have the money left over to stay here another day.

It’s amazing how much of a difference sleep can make.

I step back out onto the street the following morning, wearing my last set of clean clothes, and trailing a small luggage case behind me. As of this moment, I have- I check my pocket. -Twelve dollars and fifty cents to my name.

Right.

I need coffee.

I have no idea where anything is.

I shrug, pick a direction, and start walking, eventually flagging down a passerby to ask directions.

When I know where I’m going, I pull out my phone.

It was a decision I reached when I started walking, really. If my experiences last night showed me anything, it’s that I shouldn’t just leave it well alone. It hurt too much. I don’t want that. I swallow my pride.


David:

David was dozing fitfully when his phone rang. He hadn’t had much of a chance at sleep, even after he was done clearing up the mess the last night’s job had become. He had finished up around four in the morning, all emotion towards those events having been slowly subsumed into a mass of cold, bitter anger.

He hadn’t gone home. One didn’t go home when they found out an agent had been to their apartment. He’d slept -tried to sleep, he guessed- on a friend’s couch.

One hour of laying there in sullen silence. Perhaps another two of something that passed for sleep. That was when the phone rang. His eyes snapped open. He ruffled in his pockets, found his phone, checked the number. Unrecognized. He groaned.

If this was a prank caller, he was going to flip.

He connected the call; brought the phone to his ear.

“What?” he groaned, his voice slightly husky.

“Hey,” said a familiar voice from the other end of the line. “You uh. You said I could call you, right?”

‘Well,’ thought a particularly snide voice inside his mind. ‘If it isn’t captain Wondertwink.’

“Fuck off,” he muttered, then hung up.

He dropped the phone on the ground, uncaring, and slumped back against the makeshift pillows, trying to go back to sleep.

The phone rang.

He picked up, slapped it to his ear without looking at the number, and growled:

“What?”

“I want to explain.”

‘Shit. Liam again.’

He hung up.

The phone rang again.

He declined.

It rang again.

He muted his phone.

He tried to go back to sleep.

One minute. Two minutes. Three min-

He swore, picked up his phone, and called the other boy back. It didn’t take him long to pick up.

“Hi-” Liam started. David overrode him.

“What the fuck even is there to explain?” he asked. “You’re an agent, Liam. That means you’re with The Pilot. The fucking Pilot. Some insane, sadistic half-god that makes people kill each other for sport. What the fuck is wrong with you, huh? How much did it offer you? Why the hell should I listen to a thing you have to say?”

A long silence on the other end of the line. David sighed.

“Yeah,” he muttered. “That’s what I thou-”

“It said it could cure my dad’s cancer.”

David stopped. It felt weird. Confusing, even. He was still angry. He still wanted to be angry. He just couldn’t find the justification anymore. After almost a minute of solid silence, Liam’s voice spoke again, rather quiet.

“So… can we meet up?” he asked. “I can buy you breakfast.”

David swore quietly to himself.

“... Where?”


When David stepped out into the winter chill, the sun had already begun to crest over the top of the city skyline, dashing whatever hopes he might have had for catching some further sleep. He glared reproachfully at it as he walked.

He had borrowed some clothing from the friend he’d stayed with. Not for warmth, of course, but just to hide the presence of his wave-suit. There was no way he was going out to meet an agent without being fully armed.

He placed his phone in a back pocket, a number already dialled in. Reinforcements just a button click away.

When he stepped through the coffee house door, he was greeted by the sight of a familiar, albeit somewhat ruffled looking red-head, gazing up at him over the lip of a takeaway latte.

Liam had shadows under his eyes.

And bruises on his cheeks.

David refused to feel guilty.

He stepped forward, slumped down in the seat opposite, and simply looked the other boy in the eye, arms crossed.

“Finally here,” Liam murmured. “About time. Your breakfast was getting cold.”

David let out a huff as the smaller boy pushed a plate of grilled sausage, tomatoes, beans and eggs towards him.

“So you buy me breakfast, but I’m not allowed to look at a menu?”

It was meant as a joke. Something to break the ice. So what if it wasn’t funny; at least he was trying. It backfired.

Liam’s eyes dropped to the table, his cheeks a little red.

“Sorry,” he muttered. “It was the only thing I could afford.”

Great. Now he felt guilty.

He pushed the plate back across the table with a grunt, and grudgingly pulled a second set of cutlery from the holder.

“Fine, then. We can share.”

If he had been expecting some degree of hesitation from the other boy, he would have been disappointed. He was not. He wasn’t sure what to expect right now.

Liam skewered a grilled tomato with his fork, and took a bite.

If David hadn’t already seen what orgasms looked like on Liam, he’d have sworn the kid was having one as he chewed.

“Fuck, that’s good.”

David raised an eyebrow.

“It’s a tomato.”

“Yeah,” Liam nodded. “A fresh tomato. Do you have any idea how hard these are to get hold of since the collapse? I’m from Boston. All our veggies come in cans. It’s the only way to make them survive the trip from Oregon or the Dustbowl.”

“... Don’t you guys have hydroponics?”

Liam shrugged, taking another bite before he answered:

“Sure. For the small stuff. But every time we try to set up something big enough to feed everyone, the demons start homing in on it like crazy. They never make it longer than a month.” Liam waited for a response, and when none came, gestured to the plate, taking another, large bite of his tomato.

David reluctantly speared a sausage.

“You said you’d explain,” he murmured. “You know you’re in trouble, right? The Patrons have a bounty on your head.”

“Patrons?” Liam asked, wiping a spot of tomato juice from his chin. “Oh, you mean the mobsters you were with?” He shrugged. “Makes sense. I did kill someone during a meeting. Probably made em look pretty weak. How much are they offering?”

David once again raised a brow. This dude was weird.

“Thirty thousand,” he muttered. “Half a mil if we can bring the suit.”

Liam whistled.

“Big money,” he murmured. “You tempted?”

David shrugged.

“Seeing how this plays out, I guess.”

Liam nodded. David took a bite of his sausage. Liam continued nomming his tomato. For a few minutes, they were quiet. Liam drained his coffee. David ordered more.

“So,” he asked eventually, slicing the last egg neatly in half, and sliding one of the pieces across the plate towards Liam. “Where’d you learn to fight like that? Cuz I wasn’t watching amateur moves last night. What’s up with that?”

Liam shrugged.

“Family thing,” he murmured, rolling his egg-white around his fork and trailing it in the residual oil that smeared the plate before popping it into his mouth. “We don’t have Wave-Suits in Boston, so if you have powers, you learn to fight. It’s…” he searched for the word. “I dunno. The law, I guess.”

“Are you really telling me you’re a demon hunter?” David grinned. “Come on, dude. You’re tiny. No one with their head on straight’s gonna put you near a demon.”

“So what if I’m small?” Liam asked, pouting reproachfully. “I’m a teleporter who knows how to use a shotgun.”

David had to take a second to mentally slap himself.

‘No. Stop thinking he’s cute. You’re angry. Use your angry face.’

He used his angry face.

“Are you okay?” Liam asked. “Something wrong with the food? You look like you’ve got stomach cramps.”

“I’m fine,” he replied, turning down the volume on his angry face. “You know. You killed a good man last night.”

Liam sniffed.

“Good’s a bit of a stretch,” he muttered. “Remember how he tried to choke me to death?”

“Fine,” David allowed. “Not good, but-” he let out an aggrieved sigh. “Dammit. At least he was trying to help. Open up trade between the city and the Skylands. Give us options.”

Liam rolled his eyes.

“Look, David, I’ll be honest with you. I feel like shit about it, okay? I killed a person last night. Maybe he was an asshole. Maybe he wasn’t. But he was still a person. And I put a bullet in his head. I know it was wrong. But I came here to find my dad a cure, and I’m not gonna stop until I have one.”

As the micro speech wound down, Liam gave him a glare. David tried to return it. He didn’t think he did it right.

“... What sort of deal did The Pilot offer you?” he asked. “Cuz you know it cheats, right? It never lets people be happy with the deal.”

“... It said five missions,” Liam admitted, shifting his glare to their empty plate. “Every mission gets enough money to live on for a while, and a pill that can put someone in remission for five years. If I manage all five, the cancer goes away forever. He gets to live a healthy life unless a demon or something kills him.” He gave David a shrug. “It seems pretty ironclad. Pilot said dad should live to about ninety if he gets all five pills… That’s forty three years.”

David frowned.

“And if it sends you on four more kill missions?” he asked.

“Then at least four more people are gonna die.” Liam wasn’t looking at him.

“... I really wish I could hate you for that.”

Something about the words made Liam chuckle.

“If it helps,” he muttered. “They wouldn’t be the first. Like I said. Teleporter with a gun. I was a pretty good assassin when I had to be.”

David groaned, settled back into his chair, and stared into his coffee mug. It must be getting cold.

For a while, neither spoke, both of them seemingly waiting for the other to start them off. In the end, it was Liam who broke the silence.

“So…” he asked quietly. “Where does that leave us?”

“Fuck,” David muttered. “I don’t know. We’re enemies, I guess; but I’d feel like an asshole if I killed you.”

“Yeah,” Liam replied, his voice low. “Pretty much the same thing here.”

David sighed.

“So, I guess I don’t know what we are right now.”

Liam let out a quiet giggle.

“Wanna talk about it?” he asked.

“God, no,” David laughed.

“... Then maybe we go out some time?”

Those words came as something of a surprise. He glanced across the table. Liam still wasn’t looking at him. In fact, he was staring into his coffee cup, his cheeks almost the same shade of red as his hair.

“... That sounds dangerous,” he said, giving the other boy a wink. “Maybe not the best idea.”

“Yeah,” Liam hesitated there, apparently building up his courage, before looking at him with an expression that seemed like a failed attempt at being coy. “T-then d'you wanna just bang instead?”

David snorted. He couldn’t help it. His last twelve hours had been too much of a roller-coaster.

“Yeah, sure,” he drained his coffee cup. “Let’s start off with that.”

Copyright © 2021 Rhythminthemind; All Rights Reserved.
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Someone(s) got it bad...

“... Then maybe we go out some time?”

Those words came as something of a surprise. He glanced across the table. Liam still wasn’t looking at him. In fact, he was staring into his coffee cup, his cheeks almost the same shade of red as his hair.

“... That sounds dangerous,” he said, giving the other boy a wink. “Maybe not the best idea.”

“Yeah,” Liam hesitated there, apparently building up his courage, before looking at him with an expression that seemed like a failed attempt at being coy. “T-then d'you wanna just bang instead?”

David snorted. He couldn’t help it. His last twelve hours had been too much of a roller-coaster.

“Yeah, sure,” he drained his coffee cup. “Let’s start off with that.”

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