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About Antwaine

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  • Birthday 01/01/1987

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  • Interests
    drawing, writing, sitting

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  • Favorite RP Genre
    fantasy and/or realism
  • Role Playing Style
    long, stupid, and sloppy

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  1. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    There they were, back at the hospital for the second time this year. Steal had protested that it wasn’t necessary, but Lance, Logan, and Yusai insisted until he eventually relented. They had been solitary there for a short period of time, quiet, alone, with only occasional questioning from Steals friends and hospital crew alike. That solitude had been quickly thrown out the window when Steal’s parents arrived, likely having followed them since their departure. They were pale and shaken, though it was obvious by the slight bunching of Alan’s brow that they were not at the hospital out of concern for their childs well-being. But why they were was a mystery. Steal had clutched to Yusai’s arm when he heard their voices talking outside his room, pleading to be hidden away somewhere where they couldn’t find him. Yusai, who was quite agitated himself, tried his best to coax and assure Steal that everything would be okay, and that he wouldn’t let his parents have at him if he had anything to say about it. With a gentle clasp and pat on Steals hand, Yusai stepped out of Steals room and into the hall, where Lance, Logan and Steals parents were, already in the midst of an argument. Well, Lance and Steals parents were, anyway. Logan stood against the wall to Steals room, arms folded across his chest, eyes hooded and pointed at the floor. Yusai only caught a portion of the discussion already happening, but Alan was being quite curt with Lance, his face twisted in a mix of disgust and anger, as he snapped at him, “—I don’t want my son to be seen with faggots like you or—” He hesitated a moment, just now catching Yusai’s eye, and without missing a further beat, pointed at him. “—That one!” The accusation sent bristles up Yusai’s spine, and heat rushed to his face. Just who did this asshole think he was, accusing him of such a thing? Alan didn’t even know him! Or maybe he can just see right through you? Yusai’s mind teetered, looking at the downward spiral it would invariably fall into unless he defended himself right now. He stepped forward, intercepting the space between Steal’s father and Lance; Alan sized him up for the second time today, baring his eyes straight into Yusai’s. “Call me a faggot again, and see just how much longer you’ll be talkin’,” Yusai growled through clenched teeth. Alan sneered at him, the expression alone making Yusai’s fist twitch involuntarily. They shared a moments pause, the air thick with tension. Alan had just started to part his lips to speak when Lance interrupted him, or Yusai rather, by placing his hand on his shoulder. “Just don’t even bother with that prick, it’s not worth it,” He said, his dark brown eyes darting between Yusai and Alan. He leaned a little closer to Yusai and muttered quietly to him, “Come on, don’t get us in trouble…” As much as Yusai hated to admit it, Lance had a point. Violence and fighting wasn’t going to solve anything right now, and it certainly wasn’t going to help Steal in the slightest. Still, though, he was trembling with adrenaline, and something else—Was it fear? He felt exposed, for some reason. Being unable to fight back, defend himself, prove to Steal’s weasel-faced father that he wasn’t gay, that he wasn’t a faggot gnawed away at his gut in the most unpleasant way. Yusai grunted and pulled himself away from Lance’s grip, and stormed back into Steal’s room aimlessly, barely taking note how he had startled Steal upon reentry. He didn’t even apologize. Steal was asking him questions but Yusai was far too riled up to even hear him, instead he wrung and clawed at his own fists until Steal was practically yelling for his attention: He was asking what happened outside. “Nothing.” Yusai snapped, his jaw tense. “Your father is a shit, is all.” Steal only meekly nodded in agreement. Yusai looked up at Steal who had a tired, puzzled look on his face, clearly begging to know what else had happened out there that had him so riled up. Unfortunately, Yusai couldn’t put into words what that something was—one because he lacked the words for it, and two, because he didn’t want to expose the insecurities he had been harboring for over a month now. Still, he couldn’t just leave Steal in suspense, but rather than answer him directly, Yusai just asked his own question. “Steal… Did your parents always talk to you like that? Treat you like dirt?” He approached Steal’s bedside and sat in the slightly too-small chair there, slouched over, elbows to knees, and fingers kneading his knuckles. “I’d always wondered how bad things could possibly be to make a kid run away from home, but now that I’ve met your parents, I ‘spose I see why. They’re completely rotten. Was there ever a time were they were nice to you?”
  2. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    The moment Steal had crumbled to the ground, Yusai lurched forward, ready to spring into action but having one very obvious roadblock; Steal’s father, who turned to look his son and glare with the whites of his eyes just barely slivered around his iris. “Go back to your room, now.” Was Alans low, strained, half-gurgled instruction. Steal made no effort to move, seemingly paralyzed there on the landing, his blue eyes flicking between his father, his mother, and Yusai. They were all at a stasis for a minute, until Alan turned heel and stormed up to Steal, who recoiled. Alan reached down and grabbed Steal by the shoulders of his suit vest, jerked him forward so that he was sitting upright, and then pulled Steal to stand, which he did reluctantly. As soon as he was on his feet, Alan pushed Steal against the railing to turn him around, and as soon as he had his back to him, he grabbed what he could of Steal’s hair and pointed him toward the stairs. All this while Steal protested, resisted how he could, but to no avail. His father was beginning to push Steal forward, up the stairs, when his wife protested. He paused, a look of bewilderment crossing over his face briefly that snapped back to stern, bubbling anger when he set eyes on his spouse, and he asked her firmly what she wanted. She was doing a peculiar “dance” in front of Yusai, who was also maneuvering in an unusual fashion, trying his best to dart his hand in any open space not being occupied by Steal’s mother before she scooted in front of it. “He’s—He’s got a cellphone out—He’s recording—” She said, her tone breathless and agitated. Alan immediately released his son, letting him fall dead-weight where he may and went to approach the front door again, his face reddening and forehead beginning to sheen with sweat. He reached outward and placed his hand on his wife’s shoulder and firmly pushed her aside so that he could size up this man, this intruder who had suddenly appeared and was making things a lot more difficult and complicated than they had to be. “Put that damned thing away!” he barked upward at Yusai’s face, unflinching in its sneer. Alan puffed his chest against Yusai’s, pressing him backward, trying to muscle him out and away from his entryway, but Yusai was as firmly planted as a tree. He stared down at Alan with his own fierce gaze, meeting his challenge, his body coursing with adrenaline. Alan continued to try and push Yusai away without actually using his fists, though his whole upper body was tense and rigid with restraint, the desire to engage in a punch-up with Yusai plain as day. Yusai only met with equal resistance. They were at a stand-still until Steal, either out of desperation or craziness, squeezed past the two of them at the door and bolted in a stumbling, feverish way down the driveway. Yusai stammered then, turned away from Alan, and called out to Steal, who didn’t appear to hear him. Alans face seemed to turn purple with rage, his wife behind him as pale as Steal when he was about to faint. Yusai was about to give chase, but he suddenly felt his shoulder being tugged backward, and then there was a sharp, searing pain on the left side of his head. He stumbled to catch himself, and turned back around to face his aggressor--Steal’s father--who was the picture of maddness if there ever was one. There was then a chaotic mess of words and sounds. Alan was shouting, his wife was screaming, Yusai was calling out to Steal who had run out into the street. A car screeched, a door slammed somewhere… It was incomprehensible what happened in that moment until Yusai was able to get himself reoriented, and he looked up and saw Steal in the road, on his knees, crouched before Logan and Lance who were tending to him. Good, he was in safe hands. But as for himself… He didn’t have time, nor really the foresight, to return Alan’s blow with his own jab. Fighting didn’t matter anyhow. What mattered is that Steal was out of their possession, and that he be returned home where he belonged. Yusai simply turned away again and began walking, ignoring the furious yelling, the repeated attempts to stall him, Steal, Lance and Logan, and made his way back to the car. When he was close enough, he was able to see that Steal was clutching his side, whimpering and stammering incoherently. “You’re going to be alright,” Yusai overheard Logan saying to Steal. “I promise. I’ll get you to a hospital. Don’t worry, you’re not going to die.”
  3. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    What were they going to do now? Yusai had received call from Otto not too long after he, Lance, and Logan had loaded back into the car. They were silent until the phonecall, mulling over their options on what they could do that made the most sense, given the circumstances. They had no way of verifying if Steal was with his parents… Until they heard from Otto otherwise. “Does he know for sure?” Logan had asked when Yusai hung up the phone, his face donning a pained expression. “Yeah mate, says he got a call from a hotel Steal was taken to last night before he was brought here. Steal left a message on a mirror or somethin’.” Yusai explained, his eye wandering. “So what do we do now? Do we call the cops?” Logan rolled his head and ran his left hand through his short, ash-yellow hair. “We could, but it’s going to be real hard reporting this as a kidnapping. He’s of legal age, with his parents, and his parent’s aren’t holding their own son for ransom. It’s more likely this would all turn into one big, ugly court case that would go on for a few… Months.” Yusai let out a long breath through his nostrils, his fist clenched around his cellphone. God, this was killing him. He hadn’t felt this helpless in a long time, not since he was a child. He wanted so desperately to just charge into the home, grab Steal, and start running but he knew that the option was an impossibility. What could he do? He kept turning the question over and over in his mind until Lance interrupted his thoughts. “What’s to stop us from like, just knocking on the door and uh, telling his parents that we know what’s going on?” Lance asked, his chocolate almond eyes glancing between Logan and Yusai. “Well for starters, what do you think that would accomplish?” Logan responded, “Do you believe that his parents would return their child to the free world because his roommate and his boyfriend said so?” Lance blushed when he heard “boyfriend”, wishing that was the case. Yusai flushed too, but for different reasons. His fist, clenched around his cellphone, was so tense that the phone slipped out of his hand and he scrambled to grab it from the floor where it had fallen. As he was leaning upright, he heard Lance’s rebuttal. “I just mean that… Well, you mentioned all this stuff about Steal’s parents being uh, more concerned with their reputations and stuff than Steal’s feelings. Couldn’t we tell them that we know all these things and, I dunno, could release them to the public if they don’t let him go?” “You mean, like, blackmail?” Logan asked, his tone and expression deadpan. It looked as if he’d heard this suggestion a thousand times and for each time he heard it, he died a little inside. He inhaled long and hard through his nose, turning in his seat so he could get a better look at Lance as he geared up to explain why blackmail, or extortion, was both illegal and a bad idea. However, before he could even get a word out, he was distracted by a loud “THUNK” of the passanger door closing, and the two of them saw Yusai storming down the walkway like a man on a mission. Logan groaned and smeared his hands down his face, frustration marring his features; Instictively, he slammed his palm on the horn of his car, hoping to startle Yusai into stopping in his tracks and turn around, but he seemed unphased. And, he was; Yusai only briefly looked back when he heard the car horn blaring behind him, the panicked agitation plain on Logan’s face as he was waving for Yusai to “GET BACK HERE”, but he wouldn’t. He didn’t care, wasn’t thinking about, the consequences of his actions. He was determined to get Steal back one way or another and if he had to threaten his parents with blackmail, so be it. He marched up the small entryway and didn’t hesitate to knock firmly on the door. It was answered shortly after, by a familiar looking older woman with long, silvery-blonde hair. She examined Yusai with her pale blue eyes and grimmaced, appearing to have made a judgement and was in the process of honing her tongue. “Can I help you?” the woman asked, bringing a hand to her collarbone to feel at the pearls that hung there. “I’m looking for a friend of mine. Stea--Stephen. I got word that he was here. I’d like to speak with him if I may, please.” Yusai said, his tone low, but polite. There was no sense in laying a threat down immediately, if it were unnecessary. This woman, however, did not seem to be buying Yusai’s pleasantries; She saw the tenseness in his jaw, the small crease of anger in his brow, and the glint in his eye and it was plain as day that this gentleman was not here to have a word with a friend. “And what do you want with him?” The woman whipped back, her eyes never faltering from Yusai’s. “You say he’s a friend of yours, but my son doesn’t keep your kind of company as friends, so you must be mistaken. Please excuse yourself.” She said this, and made a move to close the door, but Yusai planted his foot in as a door stop, which took her by surprise. “Oi, sorry, but I don’t think you understand,” Yusai began, “Steal is a friend of mine, and as his friend, I’m here to do whats in his best interest, and I’m quite sure it’s to get him out of this fancy hell-hole you’ve got him locked away in. Let me ask again--May I speak with him?” Yusai’s tone was plain, but punctuated his determination. He was not going to back down and Steal’s mother knew this, however, she would not be bested by some crietin in her own home. She turned her head and shouted for her husband, her voice sharp and curt. Mr. Masters appeared not too long after, bounding down the stairwell behind her and looking agitated. “What is it?” He asked, approaching the doorway, seeing Yusai’s large frame within. Allan’s eyes seemed to darken then, but he’d hear his wife out, first. “This thug wishes to speak with Stephen.” Was all she divulged, clutching a pearl from her string between her thumb and index finger. Alan’s blue eyes, so much like Steal’s in color but completely different in appearance, pierced suddenly into Yusai’s, who met his snake-like gaze with his own stony glare. “Stephen isn’t taking any visitors, and he certainly isn’t taking visitors from the likes of you. Get the hell off of my property before I call the police and have you shot for trespassing.” Yusai didn’t respond immediately then, and there was a pause. Yusai had two sets of very angry eyes trying to stare him down, two people who were as determined as he was to keep Steal hidden away from the world, for whatever reason. A threat had already been laid on the table--leave or be violently escorted off the property by police. Should he rise to Steal’s father’s threat with his own? He didn’t know. He hesitated on this momentarily, and instead did the next best thing he could think of; He shouted for Steal as loud as he could, hoping his voice could be heard by his friend. To some success, this seemed to startle Steal’s parents enough for them to become distracted. They both looked around, thinking that maybe Steal had been somewhere behind them this whole time. They were more startled--and visibly angry--when Steal had made an appearance on the stairwell, still bloodied and battered from his tussle with his father a little bit ago. Yusai’s own anger had disappeared and turned into relief, but only for a second; He was happy to see Steal again but he was covered in bruises, welts, and a trail of dried blood ran from his nose, down his neck. A multitude of different emotions washed over him--pity, sadness, helplessness--but then anger came back to him when he heard Steal’s father snap at his son to retreat back to his room. The look Steal shot at Yusai would’ve made his heart break, if it hadn’t been pounding away with the help of adrenaline. “Oi! Steal, come here--I’ll protect you, I promise,” Yusai said, his voice gentle and assuring. Steal looked at him like a wounded animal and hesitated, but he began descending the stairs anyhow, bravely in the face of his parents who were now guarding the path to the entryway like dogs. “I told you to get back in your goddamned room, Stephen,” Alan said, the whites of his eyes now visible and his brows arched fiercely. “Take another step forward and I’ll see to it you won’t walk for a very long time.”
  4. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    It had been a strained hour or so ride up to Albany. Yusai had tiredly, half-heartedly, tried to answer the myriad of questions Lance had about Steal since his disappearance. His frustration must have been coming through in his tone, because Lance had started to trail off into silence, and worry simply marred his features. Logan had remained mostly quiet during the drive, occasionally mentioning their current whereabouts, ETA, and asking the odd question or two but nothing of significance. Or so he thought. Logan had asked how the two knew Steven--Yusai answered first and said that he knew Steal for years; He was his roommate and close friend. They had met at the bar three years ago while there was an event going on at the club, and Steal had tried to sneakily weasel in an order for an alcoholic beverage whilst he was very much underage. Rather than call him out on it and make a big ordeal out of the affair, Yusai simply made him a fruity drink and insisted it was loaded with booze and watched in amusement as Steal guzzled it up and proceeded to make the cutest little ass of himself at the bar counter. Yusai had later been thrown for a loop when Steal had gotten sick and proceeded to barf up every drink he fed into him, but that was also how Yusai learned about Steal’s allergy to mango. Yusai had prattled on like this for longer than he realized, so lost in his own memory and regaling that he didn’t notice Lance’s (muted, but very obvious) awe-struck expression. To him, this was just finding out another detail about Steal he was desperate to hear, as he wanted to know as much as he could about the guy but was obviously lacking the social graces that seemed to come so naturally to this otherwise big and intimidating Australian man. When Yusai had finished telling his story, Lance gingerly added his own, saying that he and Steal met by chance getting a haircut, then met for a date, and to this Yusai’s head looked like it was about to spin off. A date? Yusai repeated to himself, mentally. Lance and Steal went on a date? But that couldn’t be. As far as he knew, Steal wasn’t gay--the mere thought made him squirm and feel tingly, a strange sensation all over that he couldn’t quite place his finger on--So that must have meant that Lance was, and that he must’ve invited Steal unbeknownst of this fact. This revelation made Yusai feel a whole different sensation altogether, and it descended on him quickly and fiercely; It was jealousy, but Yusai recognized it as anger. He opened his mouth to let fly with a barrage of questions, interrogations, lectures, and even insults, but before a letter could even form in his mouth, his whole body was being thrust forward into the seat belt as Logan stepped on the brakes. “Sorry about that,” he apologized, putting his cars gearshift into park. “I think this is the place.” The triad looked out the windshield. They were parked a short distance outside a longer stretch of driveway that curved around a large, well-maintained lawn that was otherwise devoid of substance, save for the odd spruce tree that were planted symmetrically outside the parameter of the house. The house itself was fairly large, fitting in perfectly in the neighborhood (a fairly “rich” part of Albany) but with enough little subtleties that set it apart from the other homes in the surrounding area. For one, this house had the longest driveway in the entire area. The second thing was that the house appeared to have black grates or bars of some kind over the majority of the windows that weren’t decorative. The third thing that set it apart was the rather sterile appearance of the lawn, and outer appearance of the home in general. All the other surrounding houses in the neighborhood had some small detail or another that separated it from the other homes nearby, but spoke clearly of the owners personality: Be it with hints of gold trim along the windows, the use of brick or slate for their driveways, or elegant street lanterns to illuminate their walkways. This house just seemed to say, “Nothing to see here. Go away.” They were looking up at this house in silence for what felt like forever, until Logan spoke again. “I’m going to go take a little walk around outside and see if I can gather some more information. If you want to stretch your legs, go ahead, but if anyone asks who you are or what you’re doing here, tell them that you’re waiting for a friend who’s lost and getting directions. Don’t tell them anything else.” With that, Logan reached into his center console and grabbed a pen and a small notebook that was wedged between some other parcels, stepped out of the car, and made a slow amble up the driveway, occasionally looking to-and-fro, maybe to sell the illusion that he was a lost traveler. This left Yusai and Lance alone in his car in a deafening silence. Lance was watching Logan listlessly while Yusai, also watching, had resumed his previous ruminations over Lance and Steal’s “date”. That funny feeling that was briefly quelled when they pulled up to the driveway had returned, slowly burning away in his gut, making him feel a mixture of unease and… Something else. He hadn’t realized he was clenching his jaw until Lance had quietly asked a question, which Yusai didn’t hear, and snapped back instinctively, “What?” His tone harsh enough to make Lance flinch a little in his seat. “I was asking if we should… I don’t know, get out and help?” the hairdresser repeated, plainly baffled by Yusai’s reaction. Yusai shook his head, rejecting the idea as well as trying to dismiss the confusing thoughts racing through his mind. “He didn’t ask for help. We outta stay put, like he said.” “I don’t mean the detective. Look up there in the right corner window. That’s Steal, isn’t it? Or someone that looks a lot like him.” Flabberghasted, Yusai turned his attention to where Lance had mentioned, straining his eye to see a modest distance away at the house. His depth perception wasn’t the best, but he could see a small, blurry figure standing against the window, a very distinct blotch of whitish-silver that could very well be Steal’s hair matted against a mix of peach and very bright red features. There was another person there with him--at least, thats how it looked--and the two appeared to be struggling. The smaller of the two figures fell backwards, and the other followed their initial blow with a series of clumsy, blurry swings. Punches, probably. Yusai could only gawk in horror, jaw clenched. They--he--had to do something, didn’t he? If that was Steal, that is. Or even if it wasn’t? Yusai’s eye darted to Logan, who was only now approaching the front door to the house and ringing the doorbell. Yusai’s eye flung back up to the window to see the man who had been swinging at the presumed Steal stall, then make a hasty pace out of that particular room. His mind was racing. What should he do? What could he do? He was so lost in his own thoughts that he didn’t even register the movement beside him, or seem to hear the sound of the passenger door adjacent to his seat open, then thud shut. Yusai hadn’t even realized Lance had exited the vehicle until he saw the guy bounding down the driveway, doing what he should’ve been doing first. He felt another flare of jealousy surge up in his guts and before Yusai knew it, he was following suite, hot on Lance’s heels in no time. The two were only halfway up the driveway when the front door was answered, and they paused in their tracks, just enough in range to see the exchange between Logan and this black-haired stranger. What they were saying to each other was barely audible from where Yusai and Lance had stopped, but whatever the conversation had been, it was brief and curt. Logan had to step back from the door to avoid having it literally slammed in his face, and he ambled back, hands in his coat pockets, his expression neutral until he saw Yusai and Lance waiting for him in the driveway. Logan frowned, and nodded slightly. “That’s Mister Masters himself all right,” He said to them when he was close enough, and he continued walking away from the home. “Whether or not the Masters kid is here is another story. Walk with me--If we loiter, we’re likely to be forcibly removed from the premises.” Yusai hesitantly turned his back from the mansion, shooting a look over his shoulder up at the window Lance had pointed out earlier. He couldn’t see anything or anybody in there right now, but he was sure Steal had to be in the house somewhere. And he was determined to get him out by any means necessary.
  5. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    Logan gathered all the information he could, and took meticulous notes. At the end of his investigation, he turned to the small group of worried individuals, and assured them that he would be in touch as soon as possible with updates on his findings. However, his assurance did little to ease the worry that Steal's friends were all feeling. He was glumly thanked for his time. He was fussing with the sleeves of his coat and preparing to leave the club when a tall, blonde, one-eyed gentleman--Yusai--approached him, extending his hand with an item and telling Logan to take it, if he needed. "It was found outside in the alleyway," Yusai explained, "It's something Steal would never go without. I don't know if it'll help, but..." Logan paused, one arm sleeved, and took the bracelet from Yusai's hands. "Thanks, I'll check it for prints," Was all Logan could think to say, although he knew that the item was sentimental, and the gentleman handing it to him did so with some reluctance. With his business there officially complete for the night, Logan sleeved his other arm, and exited the club. The night ended with tense quiet, with everyone parting ways after Otto closed the club. Nobody bothered saying "goodnight" to one another, perhaps because they all knew they were harboring worry and the gesture would feel hollow. Yusai had exited the building with an angry stride, his brows knotted, jaw tense, and lips pinched together in a fine line. The frustration in his expression was immediately betrayed by the tremble of his hands as he fussed with his keys to unlock his car. Yusai didn’t even remember the drive home. It was as if he had just blinked and suddenly he was standing alone in his apartment, numbly aware of his surroundings. If it weren’t for the beckoning yowl of the cat, Yusai might not have moved away from the entryway at all. Prince bobbed up to his legs and began his usual ritual of circling around Yusai’s ankles, which Yusai took as a gesture to trip him up until Steal would intervene by picking Prince up and out of the way, gently chastising him for his misbehavior. Only Steal wasn’t here tonight. Yusai didn’t know where he was and thinking about it made him sick to his stomach. Not knowing if Steal was safe made him feel even worse. Every awful and negative possibility just swirled in his brain and pulled his deep into a whirlpool of misery and it seemed hopeless to try and pull himself out of it. He walked to his bedroom and sat at the foot of the mattress, doing so out of habit because he’d then start peeling off his shoes. But instead he just sat and stared ahead of him, mind racing and stomach sinking. The clock behind him beamed “1:45 a.m.” The night felt impossibly long. Prince bounded in and hopped up onto the bed, sniffing around where Steal had been sleeping and perhaps wondered where his night companion was. He trilled curiously a few times, came up beside Yusai and wormed his way onto his lap where he trilled some more. Yusai looked down at him, briefly snapped out of his worried daze. He pet Prince, a gesture the cat welcomed (as he always did) and returned with double affection. He stood on his rear legs and propped his paws against Yusai’s chest, then pressed his forehead against Yusai’s chin. Yusai simply sighed and rather than tease and antagonize the cat in return (as he usually did) he wrapped his arms around the feline and cuddled him. “Oi… He’ll be back… I promise, Prince.” Yusai mumbled, pressing his chin against the cat’s head first, then kissing it. He then lay down on the bed, Prince squirming a little to free himself from Yusai’s grip, and scuttled to Steal’s bed spot. Yusai looked up-side-down at him, and turned over. Prince plopped himself down and curled into a half-ball, similar to how Steal would sometimes, and yawned. Something about watching the cat get comfy tugged at Yusai, and he crawled up onto the bed fully, positioned himself against Prince’s back, and cuddled with him until he eventually fell asleep. ** Yusai was awoken by a strange tickling sensation on his rear-end. Groggily he reached beyond himself and pat at his butt, bleakly realizing that the sensation was his phone vibrating with a call. He stuffed his hand into his pocket, yanked it out, and with his eye half-slit open, he tried to read the caller ID. It was a number he didn’t recognize. He answered anyway. “H… Hello?” He stammered heavily, followed by a waking groan. “Mister Perupe—This is the detective. Logan. Did I call you at a bad time?” Yusai immediately jolted and was alert. “Oi, no sir! Did you find anything? What were you able to find out?” He was quick to pour out questions although it was obvious that even though he was awake, he was not fully cognizant yet. “Well, it’s kind of a long and funny story,” Logan began, he himself not being able to articulate a sentence right. If Yusai could read his tone better, he would’ve guessed that Logan had stayed up as late as he had and was tired this morning, too. “I won’t bore you with too many details, but, I’ve actually run into this kid and well, long story short, I think I know where he might be. Can you meet with me so I can give you some details? I’ll be down at The Coffee Corner in an hour.” ** Yusai had hurried down to the café, donning the clothes he had fallen asleep in the previous night with his jacket half-zippered over everything, and his blonde, unkempt hair lazily hidden under a well-worn and goofy beanie that read “G’DAY” that Steal had gotten him as a little joke two years ago, all despite having an hour to get ready. When he entered, his eye had keenly spotted detective Logan, who was seated at a table sipping from a coffee mug and gently leafing through some papers in front of him. Yusai approached and greeted the man. “Mister Perupe‘,” Logan responded, pulling out a chair beside him. “Thanks for coming down on short notice, I didn’t want to keep you waiting if I didn’t have to.” “No no, thank you for um,” Yusai shifted into the seat ran his hand over his head, yanking off the beanie for a moment to scratch through his hair before sloppily shirking the garment back on. “For uh, you know. Doing your stuff and giving me an update so quickly. What’d you find out?” Logan picked through his papers and yanked out one of the sheets that had some sporatic notes written all over it. “Let me tell you a short story—A few weeks ago, I happened to be coming out of this shop and saw a car doing some bizarre circles around the area. I don’t think I need to tell you how bizarre a phenomena like this is in this particular part of Brooklyn…” Logan said, his steely eyes shooting up at Yusai in a knowing fashion, to which the Aussie nodded in response. “… Anyhow,” he continued, “It just happened that I took note of the plates on this car, and well… When you mentioned Steven’s last name, Masters? It rang some bells. I did some research, and found out that he’s the Master’s son—of Master Banking. If you’ll look over some of those notes, I was able to find out some other things…” Logan pushed his small stack of papers over to Yusai, who looked down at them curiously but confused. The detective began explaining some details—Steal, son of Allan and Lauren Masters, reportedly a sickly child that was kept out of the public eye for most of his life. Not many other details about his upbringing otherwise. Allan and Lauren, however, had some unscrupulous histories—Lauren having been tried in court for embezzlement, and Allan having quite an extensive criminal history for “domestic disputes” that were settled in uncertain terms. None of these details particularly mattered to Yusai, but he listened with anticipation, waiting to hear how this tied to Steal’s whereabouts. “I have a suspicion he might be with his parents,” Logan said while he ran his hand over his dull, brown stubble. “Going by a few police reports from before he turned 18, they’ve been trying to keep him under house arrest for whatever reason. I suspect they’ve been keeping an eye on him from a distance and finally made a move to bring him back home after he came up on the news last month.” Yusai’s wide, tired eye spoke little of his bafflement in hearing all of this. He wasn’t sure how to absorb this information but it brought him a slight comfort to think he was somewhere safe—relatively—versus being alone out on the streets somewhere. But what now? He pondered. He knew Steal’s relationship with his family wasn’t the greatest but this was a complicated matter to tackle. It wasn’t as if he could approach Steals parents and ask for his roommate back… Or could he? “So, what… What can I do? Do I call the police and file a missing persons report or…” Yusai’s question trailed. He wasn’t even sure what to ask but he knew he wanted—needed—to do something. Logan sighed into a low hum, apparently thinking to himself as well. “Well… Like I said, this is just a suspicion. I could be entirely wrong about his whereabouts for the time being, but what I can do is give the Master’s estate a scout. It’s about an hour up north from the city, a little near Albany. I can—“ “Can I come with you?” Yusai interrupted. Logan was taken aback by the question but in examining the Aussie’s face, he could see that he was desperate for answers. “I… Suppose you could,” Logan responded after a moments pause. “Although I don’t want to take up any of your time.” Yusai shook his head. “S’not taking up my time at all. If you’ll let me go with you, I’d appreciate it. I just… Need to know where he is.” Yusai said, and his tone suggested more than just concern; there was a tenderness there that Logan picked up on but put aside mentally for the time being. “Alright then. Let me gather some things and I’ll lead the way.” Logan stated, and they both stood from their chairs and proceeded along their way. However, just as Yusai was leaving the café, a familiar face bumped into him at the exit, and suddenly he was bewildered and cross at once; It was Lance, looking as anxious and tired as Yusai. Lance looked at Yusai pleadingly, his expression already asking the question that left his mouth seconds later: “Did you find anything out about Steal?” Yusai couldn’t lie to him, but he answered in a strained fashion and was eager to be away from this guy and on his way to Steal’s place. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that after explaining his potential whereabouts, Lance had asked to tag along. All of Yusai wanted to say “HELL NO” in response but the words never came out. And before he knew it, the three of them had set out toward the Masters estate.
  6. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    ((sorry for keeping you waiting ive been so busyyyyyyyy)) Logan was in the middle of processing the last of some paperwork for the night when he heard his cellphone vibrate on the corner of his desk. He was tired and already a little out-of-it, but he was even more confused to hear his phone ring so late and on a weekend as well. He picked it up, not recognizing the number on the screen, and answered hesitantly. "Hello, Logan Austin's office," He said, the line automatic even when he wasn't answeing phone calls from complete strangers. He heard some noise on the other end of the phone and then a gruff, thick, but clear voice speak from the other end. "Yeah, hi. My name's Otto Lombardi. I don't know if this is a service you cover or whatever but your name came up on a search for local private investigators. Do you do missing persons searches?" Otto was straight to the point, so much so that it caught Logan off gaurd. "I, uh... Hold on a minute, you caught me in the middle of something here," Logan grumbled. He had to take a moment to put aside some files he had been sorting and then pull out some fresh sheets to jot down information from this potential new client on the line. While he did this, he asked, "Did you already contact the police?" "Yeah, we did," Otto responded, "They said they wouldn't conduct a search unless the person has been missing for 48 hours." Logan nodded at this, but needed more information. "I take it the person in question hasn't been missing that long. Tell me. Do you have reasonable suspicion that there's been some... Ill-intent on this individual? And I take it you've attempted contact with this person to find their location?" "Yes, yes," Were Otto's replies. "He's not anywhere that he would usually... Or UNusually be. He's not answering his cellphone, either. I dunno about ill-intent or whatever, but it's really unusual for this kid to just up and disappear without saying a word to anyone about his whereabouts." Blank sheets finally in front of him, Logan was finally organized to take down some proper info. "Tell me more about the missing person, if you would." He requested, pen-tip readied on the paper in front of him. "Name, age, description..." As he trailed off, he heard some scuffling on the other end of the line and then another voice with--what he presumed was--an english accent began talking. "His name's Steal. Er, Stephen, actually. Stephen Masters," "How old is he?" "He'll be turning 21 in another month. Uh, 20, sorry mate. I mean, he's 20. He's about 170 centimenters tall, maybe a bit bigger--" "You'll have to give me that in 'American' measurements, sir," Logan interrupted, too tired to do the math himself. "Ah, right. Uh, I suppose that's five... foot... Seven? Oi, get the bloody calculator out of me face," Yusai grunted. He cleared his throat and continued, "Sorry. Yeah, he's 5'7, probably no more than fifty-eight kilos wet--ah, that's 130 pounds--has short, silver hair, real vibrant blue eyes, and he's got two red moles on the back of his neck that look like a vampire bit 'im." Logan finished jotting down these details (and was a little surprised at how in-depth the description was), feeling a strange sense of deja-vu as he looked over some of the descriptors of this person. A young man with silver hair, huh? Stephen Masters... Something about the name seemed familiar, too. "All right. Can you tell me a little bit about the circumstances surrounding his disappearance?" Logan asked, skimming his wrist down to another portion of the page. "When did you notice his absence?" There was a pause on the other end, and the sound of thinking through the mouth. Yusai then hesitently explained that Steal must've disappeared just after his show, which was at 9. "Okay," Logan went on, "Did he seem agitated before his disappearance? Did you notice any change in his mood tonight, or prior to?” He heard some long, drawn-out “umms” and “uhhhs”. To clear the obvious confusion he was hearing, Logan continued, “I just want to rule out any possibility of suicide. It’ll rule out some well-known spots for the initial investigation.” Yusai paused on this question, trying to remember Steal’s mood that night. He had been sullen, withdrawn, and quiet up until his show. He sang a very meloncholy song that had even made his own heart sink. Steal was prone to down moods, and if he was making an honest observation, he couldn’t say that Steal was someone he ever considered “bubbly” or “energetic”. And, Yusai remembered Steals suicidal tendencies when he had initially taken him in... But was Steal still that person? He’d like to think that he wasn’t. He couldn’t say for certain. “A... A little, I ‘spose. He um... He’s been a little down lately,” Yusai admitted, his voice becoming low and soft. There were some sounds of more scribbling and then a faint “tap” as Logan finished the last of his notes and set down his pen. He had the pertinent inormation he needed for now. And even though it was late, and it was a weekend, his time was money and he figured if he was going to be up anyway, he may as well do some work. “I’ll come down to investigate the premises tonight. Keep everything in tact, I’ll be down shortly.” Logan instructed, and with that, he was already slipping on his coat and fishing for his keys in his pocket. ** “Allan, that’s enough, for Godssake. You know he bruises ike a peach,” Was the only plea to Steal’s father that his mother made in the boys defense. Her tone was not one that suggested pity, at least not outwardly, but more fatigued and annoyed “Besides, he’s already had a bloody nose and... God, do you see the scar on his head?” Allan looked down at his son, who was on the floor on all fours with his head lowered. He had taken Steal by the collar and given him a firm jostle before pushing him aside in frustration. All the past grievances and irritations with his son had come to surface when he laid eyes on him again, and unable—unwilling—to control his anger, Allan lashed out quickly and fiercely. As was his way. “Get up,” Allan commanded, ignoring his wife’s interjection. “From what I’ve had to hear from outside sources, you’ve spent enough times on your knees. Get up.” Steal feebly made an effort to get up on his feet, but the effort wasn’t fast enough, wasn’t good enough, for Allan. With a hissing intake of breath, the man bent down and grabbed Steal by a tuft of hair from the crown of his head and pulled upwards. Steal wailed and shot upright immeadiately but clumsily. Alan took a moment to examine his son’s expression, his demeanour, and it was not with eyes of compassion he laid on his child, but one of utter contempt. God, what a pitiful creature he was. “Do you have any idea what sort of reputation you’re giving me?” Allan asked in a low tone, his eyes hardening. “The sorts of things your mother and I have to listen to from those snakes on Wall Street? Do you have any CLUE?” He had his hands around the collar of Steal’s robe again, holding the boys gaze. “No... Of course you don’t. You’re oblivious. You’re selfish. It’s never mattered to you how your mother and I stay afload in this economy so long as you were out and about, gallavanting around with your low-life friends.... Leaving us to clean up after you. Leaving ME with a tainted name—a potentially tainted business—because YOU can’t keep it together!” Here he shook Steal violently until he was sick of holding him, and then let him go, not giving a care as his son tumbled on his ass to the ground. “Laura, call our damned valet and have him come pick us up as soon as possible. We’re going home tonight and putting this child in lock-up until he developes some sense.”
  7. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    Yusai had tried several times in vain to get through to Steal on the phone. There was no answer and he was beginning to worry tremendously. It was unusual for Steal to be -this- avoidant, even when he was in an uncommunicative mood. He wasn't one to make others worry unnecessarily. Otto had suggested that they call the cops, and Yusai responded automatically without so much as a second thought. Lance sat at the bar counter, fidgeting with a shotglass while he listened to Yusai's stilted conversation with the NYPD. He was worried as well, maybe moreso than he had right to be. A small part of him was blaming himself for Steals disappearance, thinking that maybe Steal had run off to avoid him for the rest of the night. He knew that wasn't likely the case, but still, he couldn't help the thought. His other thought was that maybe Steal had been the subject of some blind violence, knowing all-too-well that bigotry--homophobia--wasn't dead in the city, and Lance paled at the idea that Steal could be out there somewhere, bloodied, bruised, or dead. Yusai hung up the phone, a grimmace plastered across his brow and mouth. Otto, arms crossed over his chest tight, asked what the result of the conversation was. "Fuckin' bloody useless, is what they are," Yusai stated, jamming his phone into his pocket. "They won't do a search until he's been missing for at least 48 hours." "That's -insane-!" Otto cried, sharing Yusai's disdain for the law enforcements inepetude, as well as his worry. "He could be anywhere by then... Vermont, Philedelphia... A fuckin' back-alley somewhere half-dead--" "I know that!" Yusai snapped. "There's not a damn thing they'll do about it!" "Well fuck it, then, we'll do something about it. Give me your phone, mine get's shitty reception in here." Otto replied, holding out his hand. Yusai asked him what for, but fished out his phone and handed it to his friend who had yet to answer his question. "I'm going to call a detective or something. Find someone who will go out looking for him ASAP." ** Ian had pulled into the hotel parking lot that his client had specified she would be waiting at. He parked, and he heard Steal make a small, wavering sound somewhere between a whine and a groan. He had made some weak effort to move, open his door, perhaps escape, but the effects of the fumes still had their grip on him and made those efforts futile. Besides, Ian had the doors locked. Ian reached over to the glove box and yanked it open. Some papers inside that had been folded in half unfurreled and fell into Steal's lap. He wisked them up and put the small stack in front of him against the steering wheel, turned the corners of the pages over in his fingers, just barely pulling the papers apart, his eyes skimming over the text on each page. He mumbled some of the words he read half-heartedly, stopping suddenly and saying aloud, "Here we go," and pulling the particular sheet up and placing it on top of the stack. He folded the papers over again and held them tight in his left hand. "All right kid, let's get a move on." Ian said while he pulled the keys from the ignition and unbuckled himself. He opened the driver door and stepped out, circled around the front of his car, opened the passenger door, and looked down at the boy still lolling in his seat. “Can you stand? You better.” He watched Steal struggle to even place his feet on the ground evenly. He sat up and wasn’t able to catch the weight of his movement in time, and ended up thrusting himself face-first into the dashboard, which elicited a groan. When he turned his face to Ian, he saw that his nose was bleeding. Whatever, as long as the rest of Steal was in tact, Ian didn’t care; He had to deliver this kid one way or the other. He sighed, bent over, and reached inside the car for Steal, placing his hands under his armpits. With some struggling, Ian was able to pull Steal upright and lift him out of the seat so he could stand, very wobbly and weak of course. From here, he took one of Steals arms and threw it over his own shoulder to brace him as they walked, the younger man staggering to keep up with Ian’s pace. It took a while, but they eventually made it through the hotel entryway and Ian could already see the silhuette of his clients hair—Steal’s mother—sitting in the lobby, waiting. He called out to her, and she turned to look, her pale blue eyes falling on the sight of her son immediately. “Good God, just look at you,” She said, standing, the tail of her gray-blue cardigan flowing down around her legs. “Just what the hell have you been up to? I’ve been waiting for hours.” “It’s a long story,” Ian replied, still struggling to hold Steal upright. “Anyway, here’s your kid, as promised. I’ll just need your hancock on this paper here, and I’ll be on my way... Also as promised.” He fumbled his hand that was still holding the wad of papers, that had been wrapped around Steal’s waist, and held the papers out to the woman who plucked them quickly and delicately from his grasp. She turned away from them briefly and tucked her hand into the pocket of her beige, wide-leg pants, pulling out a pen, and then going to work signing whatever documentation it was Ian had handed her. As quickly as she had finished, she turned back to them, not even looking at Ian as she handed him back his documents, her silence and judging eyes upon her son being all the instruction Ian needed to get lost. And so, leaning Steal against the back of the sofa in the lounge, Ian turned heel and left. The quiet in the lobby would have been unbearable if it wasn’t for the low hum of a nearby ice machine to act as a small distraction. Though there was no way to tell how Steal was processing the events of the night, his mother certainly had her own thoughts. “Well, you certainly look dreadful. I’ll hope that bloody nose was on account of the dry air, and not because you’ve been up to some incideous activity like snorting coke with your lecherous friends.” Her eyes were half-lidded but focusing here and there on her son, zig-zagging between all the details she cared to absorb. The bloody nose. His short hair. The eye-liner. His—well, his dress was fairly reasonable, if not slightly flamboyant for her tastes. His sluggish demeanour. She processed these things and seemed to be calculating the next thing to say, the next thing she could say to strike some kind of sense into her child, whom she had nothing but intense disappointment for. Still, she was his mother, and in flat tone she asked if he had eaten. “I have dinner ready in our room. You’ll get cleaned up before we eat. And I won’t hear any complaining about the dinner choice, it’s all you’ll be having until we get home tomorrow morning.” With one more judging glare, she turned away from her son and began walking down the hallway to their room. She didn’t have to turn to reassure that her son was following closely behind her. Years of conditioning him in his youth still seemed to have a level of control over him. He knew better than to disobey her, even if she never rose a finger to strike him like his father did. She stopped outside her hotel room and opened the door, holding it open for her son to enter, and she watched him like a hawk as he stumbled inside, her disapproval all too palpable when she entered herself and closed the door behind her. “The bath is in the ensuite. There’s some pajamas and a robe for you to change into. Throw what you’re wearing into the bin—you won’t be seeing your father looking like that.” She said, making herself comfortable on a lounge chair in the living room. There was a table just next to her seat with a bucket filled with ice, a bottle of wine, a corksckrew, and three up-turned wine glasses placed on a gilded tray; she reached over and pulled the bottle out, picked up the corkscrew, and was fast at work uncorking the wine bottle and pouring herself a glass in one of the empty cups while her son trudged to the bathroom to shower.
  8. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    It had only been 10 or so minutes since Steal's performance had ended, and he was no where to be seen afterwards. Lance had been the first to go looking for him so he could gush and compliment his moving performance. He approached his band-mates as they were breaking down their set and asked where Steal was. They exchanged glances, quick conversations, and answered simply, "We dunno." Although one of them assured Lance that he was likely outside getting some fresh air or something, and if he wanted to talk to him privately, he should go check. So, Lance went outside and looked around. There was no sign of Steal out in front of the building, but maybe he had left from one of the side-entryways that lead to the adjacent alleyway. He turned the corner and checked there. Nothing. Well, he supposed he'd check the next logical place... The mens bathroom. Lance slipped back inside and hustled to the lavatory only to see a few tipsy men emptying their bladders at the urinals. There was no apparent trace of Steal here, either. Lance was beginning to feel unsettled, but not wanting to give into panic just yet, he figured there was at least one more place he could check, or one last person he could ask: His roommate. Exiting the bathroom, Lance went and approached the bar and called for Yusai's attention. Yusai was slow to notice Lance at first. His mind was in a whole different place right now--even moreso since Steals performance, which had put him in a strange, morose mood--When he did notice Lance, he regarded him very cooly, asking what he wanted. "Hey, have you seen Steal?" Lance asked. "His band doesn't know where he went, he's not outside, and he's not in the bathrooms... I was wondering if maybe he was hanging out in like, the employee lounge or something." Yusai's curiosity was piqued. Did Steal shove off somewhere after his performance without even telling anybody? It would be unlike him if he did, and Lance's suggestion--though unlikely, as Steal rarely liked to hang out in the dingy back room--had some merit if he couldn't be found elsewhere. Yusai promptly finished up an order and told Lance to wait a minute while he went out back and checked for Steal. He was there and back shortly, having found no trace of Steal in the lounge. Yusai looked over the heads of customers and employee's for any trace of that unmistakable, un-missable hair, and saw nothing. "You said you checked outside for him, ay?" Yusai asked, a pit starting to form in his stomach. Lance nodded, a troubled expression starting to form on his face as well. "Checked out front and in the alley. He wasn't there. His bandmates don't know where he went, either." Wordlessly, Yusai pulled out his cellphone and tapped through his contacts until he found Steal. Without hesitation, he began dialing his number, listening to the endless ringing. --- Ian was ashing out his cigarette in his car console when he noticed Steal starting to come-to. The agent he had used to knock him out didn't last long, but that was all right: As long as he had the kid in tow, it didn't matter if he was conscious or not. He turned his attention back to the road. "Sorry there, kiddo. I couldn't do this any other way," he half-heartedly apologized. "You and your buddies didn't make it easy on me." Steal was soupily looking around, piecing together his surroundings, seeming to try and make sense of the world around him. He asked where he was and what was going on. Ian took a deep breath and held it for a minute. "Well," He began, exhaling, "I guess it doesn't matter if you know, since you're about to find out anyway, but your mother wants you back home and asked me to go and get ya. Any means necessary, and all that. Don't know why, so I don't have an answerfor you there." Ian could hear Steal sink into the passanger seat and make a low sound like a groan. He wasn't sure if it was in response to the information he had just divulged or if the fumes he had used to temporarily knock Steal out were having an affect. Either way, he didn't much care and continued driving. It would only be another hour before he arrived at the hotel his client was at, Steal in tow. But then there was an interruption in the otherwise silent car ride. Ian heard a ringing and instinctively fished his own phone from his jacket breast pocket. He gave it a quick glance. There was no indication of an incoming call, so that meant... Shit. He had forgotten to frisk Steal's phone off him before chucking him in the car. He shoved his phone back into his pocket and blindly reached across the seat, patting around on Steal's body to feel for his pockets. "Do things the easy way and hand over your phone." Ian said sternly, although the impact was a little lost as his focus was clearly torn between the busy, chaotic road in front of him and trying to coerce Steal into complying with him. "I don't want to have to do things the hard way. I'm not getting paid nearly enough for that..."
  9. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    The days ahead that transpired were strange. Yusai was officially better and his mind some-what clearer (especially after dedicating a few more hours to reading the forums he had discovered earlier in the week) He felt like he was normal again. As normal as he could be, anyway. He was at least able to focus on things that needed his attention without the nagging thought of being gay taking the forefront of his mind. The days were strange because there was a distinct change in routine after all the events that had taken place prior. Yusai was waking up to an empty bed and to messages left from Steal mentioning that he was getting out to practice with his band, or hang out with Lance... Things which left Yusai feeling a culmination of happy (because he liked that Steal was getting back into a hobby of his) confused (because he wasn’t sure what had suddenly spurred this on) bitter (because he was being left out) and jealous (because Lance was spending time with his friend). On top of this, Yusai had taken to spending his alone time getting re-acquainted with misses palmer and her five lovely daughters on a frequent basis. And why not? He had the apartment to himself for a few hours in the morning now, and Yusai hadn’t had a chance to express his sexual frustrations for so long... He had forgotten what the sensation was even like, sad as it was to admit. And, he could wank to whatever he wanted and do it without the guilt or shame he had only a week or so before. Not when he could rush to a community of like-minded individuals to confirm that their desires were natural and not at all homosexual afterwards, relieving himself of all doubts and inhibitions of his sexuality... For the time being. The other strange thing was when Steal would return from his outings, how little they seemed to talk lately. It wasn’t that they didn’t talk, but the conversation quality they used to have—bizarre as it could be at times—had definitely taken a dive. They spoke to each other through metaphorical walls, and perhaps for the same reasons: They both had parts of their lives they were not completely comfortable confiding with one another over. Steal with his growing acquiantenceship with Lance, his familial troubles that no one could possibly understand, and Yusai with his mixture of grief combined with this new secret celebration of his sexuality. They were complex issues that could be resolved with talk, but neither of them seemed to know how to start the conversation. Only time would tell if they ever would. Meanwhile, Yusai was back to work again, and it was a slow night coming to a close at the club. Yusai had spent his shift unusually quiet behind the counter: Tonight was a night where his thoughts had been filled with numb remorse, and memories of the friend he had lost several years ago. Strangely enough, the memories that were surfacing in his mind were not the ones he usually turned to when grieving for Richard. In fact, they seemed like new memories altogether. Things he had repressed or thought he had forgotten about were coming back up to light. For instance, he was remembering occassions where Richard and he used to sit on the roof slope just outside Richard’s bedroom window, drinking beers they had secretely smuggled from the fridge and pretended to enjoy. They would sit out there and watch the orange-blue sky fade to the deep purple of night and talk. Not about anything in particular, just shoot the shit the way teenagers did. They talked about their classes, assignments, their shit teachers... One particular conversation Yusai was remembering with bizarre clarity was one they had about relationships. Richard had asked (after choking down a swig of beer and forcing a casualty to his voice) if Yusai had an interest in any of the girls at school. At the time, it seemed like a strange thing to ask because Yusai had been of the mindset that girls were pretty much off-limits. They still had cooties, or whatever. But, he knew he was an outlier: Yusai had overheard many locker room conversations during lacrosse and knew that boys his age were girl-crazy. It was all his male peers could seem to talk about, and were obsessed with. Yusai had often felt left out, or thought himself weird that he didn’t “get” what his friends were so nuts over, and figured that maybe one day he eventually would. But when prompted by his sporting buddies, he had put on a front and talked about girls like the rest of them, pretended he shared the same carnal interest in women as they did. He didn’t want to be labeled weird or a freak, after all. He saw how those people were treated, recalling a few hallway scraps throughout his high school years. Several of his locker room conversations went this way that it had started to become an automatic reaction: to pretend he understood it all, pretend he was one of them. So when Richard had asked, Yusai had instinctively put up his guard and said “Of course!”, then immediately took a long swig of his own beer. Richard had looked at him strangely, keeping his silence for a moment before nodding and taking another sip from his drink. The talk had ended as quickly as it had started, but Yusai couldn’t forget the look Richard had given him in that night. He looked miserable. “Hey, Yusai—You alright?” a familiar voice cut into his reverie. Yusai shook his head and re-focused, seeing Otto staring at him from across the bar counter. Yusai nodded and unfolded a rag from his back pocket and began wiping down his work area, letting one non-commital grunt out before resuming his silence.. This response did not seem to satiate Otto’s conversational appetite, and he reached to take the rag out of Yusai’s hand. “What’s up, man? You look pretty down and you’ve been quiet all night.” “It’s nothin’,” Yusai said, unsure if he could even articulate his feelings at present. “I’m just tired, I guess.” Otto gave him a long look, his chocolate brown eyes seeming to bare right though his transparent lies and see straight into the bullshit. Otto was usually good at reading people, but this particular mood on Yusai was one he was having difficulty deciphering. It was unlike him to be brooding, quiet, and aloof. “You sure? You’ve been pretty ‘off’ lately... Is everything okay at home? Is Steal doing alright?” Come to think of it, Otto hadn’t seen Steal for the past few nights. Usually he’d come in a couple times during the week with Yusai and hang out, but he had yet to see him. He wondered if Yusai’s current mood and Steals absence were related, and resolved to text Steal tonight to check in later. “Yeah, everythings fine.” Yusai answered, his tone a touch short. He didn’t know why but being asked about Steal bothered him. Maybe it was because he wasn’t sure how Steal was doing himself. Well, this conversation wasn’t going to go anywhere, and with a sigh, Otto muttered “Okay,” and pulled his coat up off the edge of the bar counter where he had rested it, and began slipping it over his arms. He didn’t notice the folded note that he had taken from Steal a few weeks ago had slipped out and fallen on the counter and Yusai, who was still in wrap-up-and-clean mode, absent-mindedly picked it up. He was about to toss it in the bin when he happened to notice his name scrawled inside of it. Curious, he started to unfold it a little and saw some more words. A letter? “Yusai, I love you. I always have--” he read, and before he could read any more, Otto had made a loud sound and was reaching across the counter, and fiercely tore the note from his hands. It had all happened in an instant, but Yusai was baffled, curious, and a bit alarmed. “Oi, what’s that note all about?” Yusai asked, suddenly feeling anxious and alert. Obviously it was a love letter of some kind, but who had written it? Why did Otto react that way? It was uncommon for Yusai to jump to conclusions but with his recent habits and thoughts, he couldn’t help but feel paranoid that he was being put under scrutiny. Otto bunched up the note and shoved it in his pants pocket. “It’s—It’s none of your business, dickhead,” Otto shot, vainly attempting to deflect this interrogation into an argument. Yusai couldn’t know about Steals letter, and Otto was doing what he could to protect this secret. “It is so my business, it’s a letter with my bloody name on it. Who wrote that?” Yusai was pulling the cleaning rag he had between his fists, his knuckles clenched tight enough to shine a shade or two lighter than his normally dark complexion. Shit, Otto had to think fast. He couldn’t tell him Steal had written it, it wouldn’t be his right. But then... Ah, he was thinking too fast to come up with a decent lie, and before he could catch himself he answered, “I did.” Yusai’s face twisted from what looked like confusion, to shock. “W... What?” Was all Yusai could think to utter. He felt like he had just been dipped into cold water, buck-naked and in front of an audience. SHIT, Otto had dug himself into a hole. How could he follow up? He was going to have to improvise and play everything off as naturally as he could... For Steals sake. “Yeah, it’s my letter. I wrote it a while ago and just... You know, never gave it to you because I didn’t want to make things weird, I guess,” Otto said, warbling over this explaination a little. It was a bizarre lie he had to tell, which in general, he was not accustomed to doing. He had hoped Yusai would let the conversation drop into awkward silence at the very least, but surprisingly, the next question out of his mouth was one Otto had not expected. “You’re... You’re gay?” Yusai had asked, quietly and with some hesitation. His tone was so earnest, hurt and confused, and it threw Otto off completely. Now he bore the stunned expression, but only momentarily. This conversation was about to take a whole new direction. “No, bi, actually,” Otto corrected him non-chalantly with the truth. “But even if I was gay, what’s the big deal?” Yusai didn’t realize, but his face was twisting into a look as though he was witnessing a horrific accident. What’s the big deal? What’s the big deal? He didn’t have an answer for that. Or did he? He was suddenly overwhelmed with various memories; fights and derrogatory slurs and bloody fists, bloody noses and lips, bruises among his peers that had been labeled freaks, faggots, queers... Richard walking beside him silently, his blood-stained shirt thrown over his shoulder, scratches and bruises mottling his side and ribs. He was overwhelmed by other things, too. This was all so sudden and mind-blowing to hear. His boss... One of his closest friends... Loved him? He was bisexual? This was all new information. It was weird. It was... Too much for him to process right now, in the midst of all his new sexual awakenings that he still was blindly wading through. “Well?” Otto interjected, breaking Yusai out of his thoughts again. Those brown eyes were now staring at him, begging for an answer. “Well—I’m, I’m not gay,” Yusai stated firmly, his jaw tight. “I don’t feel the same way.” “That’s fine, I didn’t think you would,” Otto said. Although something inside him was set aflame. It was rare for Otto to ever get upset, and especially with someone he considered a good friend, but Yusai’s defensiveness and his... Revulsion to the idea of gayness was genuinely upsetting and brushed the part of Otto that was queer the wrong way. What was his deal? But still, he grit his teeth through this. He had started this mess of a conversation, after all. “And anyway, like I said, I wrote it a while ago. So don’t flatter yourself thinking I still got the hots for you.” “Stop it,” Yusai snapped. You could practically see the hairs on his neck standing up. “Stop what?” Otto shot back, now on the defense. “This isn’t funny!” “I’m not trying to be funny, asshole,” Otto retaliated, “Just what is your problem, anyway? Are you bothered by this? The possibility that some half-a-fag had a crush on you?” Yusai was now visibly agitated, unlike anything Otto had ever seen out of him. His face was red and he could see Yusai’s fists trembling around the rag in his hands, his eye darting here and there, but unable to look at Otto. “That’s not it! Just—I’m not gay, so just forget it!” His tone was angry, but his voice wavered, and Otto’s acute ears sensed that maybe there was something more to his friends protesting than he initially thought. His friend looked, and sounded like, a cornered animal. But why, he wondered? There was a pregnant pause, and during it, Otto took a breath to settle his own surge of adrenaline. “Okay, fine, I get it,” Otto said slowly, calmly. He wasn’t sure how to proceed with this clusterfuck of a conversation, but he now had a question he needed to ask if he wanted to continue being friends with the man he had known for several years now, whom he considered a brother. “Can I ask you something?” Yusai didn’t respond verbally, but grunted as he clumsily returned to cleaning things up around the bar. “Seriously... Does it bother you that I’m bi?” Yusai had to process this question, and was running over a million and one things in his head. He felt like he was short-circuiting. Did it bother him? He wasn’t sure. Maybe it wasn’t that Otto being bisexual bothered him, but the fact that he was attracted to Yusai did? The slightest insinuation that Yusai was homosexual—even by extension—made him feel prickly, uneasy. But then again, Otto did say that the letter was written a while ago... Surely his feelings weren’t still the same, right? This was so messed up, he couldn’t think straight. All he could think to say was, “No, just... I’m not gay.” To this, something in Otto’s demeanor changed. It was as if a light went off in his head or that he’d found something that he had lost after a long search. He had a creeping suspicion that Yusai’s protesting was coming from a certain place of insecurity, but it wasn’t like he could point it out to the moron, at the risk of aggrivating him further. Instead, Otto would take a different approach; He raised his hands in solemn protest and said lowly, cautiously, “Okay, good. I’m sorry. But you know Yusai...” Otto trailed, tilting his head and looking at Yusai from the side, who was still nervously buseying himself with wrap-up duties. “...If you were gay,” at this, Yusai froze. Otto continued, “...That’d be okay. I wouldn’t judge you for it. No one at the club would judge you for it. Steal wouldn’t judge you for it--” It was at this point in the conversation that Yusai made a sound, something like a bark, and threw his rag aside. He quickly turned to his coat, shucked it over his shoulders, and stormed out of the club, leaving Otto in stunned and bereft silence. God, what had just happened? Otto shook his head and pulled out his phone, texting Steal the following message: Yusai’s in a bad mood. Best to leave him alone tonight. Text me sometime. **
  10. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    ((ONE MILLION YEARS LATER)) Lance couldn’t believe what a great time he was having with Steal. The dinner date was going smoothly and they were actually finding things to talk about and connect over, and Lance didn’t feel as anxious, silly, or stupid as he had before. Things felt... Normal. He felt like he was finally making a friend. His charisma was getting a chance to shine through and it seemed that even one of the waitstaff was noticing. Lance was flattered by the casual flirting, but played naïve; He was with Steal and wanted to enjoy his company while he could. The waiter left and Steal remarked that he was a little popular. Lance just laughed and shrugged, saying Steal must’ve been mistaken and suggested that if the waiter was interested, it was for more “exotic” reasons. Steal cocked his brow, and Lance waved his hands placatingly. “I don’t mean that kind of exotic! I’m just saying he wouldn’t be the first white boy trying to get a taste of the ‘orient’. I swear, some people look at me, see that I’m Japanese and then think it’s okay to waltz up and ask for weird sexual favors.” Steal gave him an empathic nod while he chewed a mouthful of food. He covered his mouth between a swallow and asked Lance how long he’d been in America. Lance had to smile, as it also wasn’t his first time being asked this particular question and while it was exhausting to have to keep answering it, he didn’t mind this time. “I was raised in America since I was a baby. My mom is from Korea, my dad is Japanese. I was born in Japan and then they decided they didn’t want to raise a kid over there, so they came here. Then 17 years later, they resented America for turning their only son gay, kicked him out, and 3 years later... Well, I started working as a hair dresser in Brooklyn.” Lance explained all of this casually (the last part being a new addition to the typial speech) and took a bite of his katsudon. Steal asked him what got him into hair styling. “Oh, well,” Lance began with a swallow, “I don’t know... There’s just something weirdly theraputic about brushing people’s hair, cutting it, styling it, you know the works. Plus it pays well enough,” He said. Steal nodded at him, seeming satisfied with this answer. They had a brief moment of silence while they finished their meals and mulled over the details they revealed to each other about their own lives, and Lance had a question about something Steal had mentioned earlier. He said he liked to sing, and Lance wondered if it was ever something he did professionally. “So... You said you like to sing? Do you have a band, go out and do gigs and stuff? Have you ever played anywhere local?” He asked, curious what sort of life Steal had as a singer. He didn’t think Steal was a big-name celebrity by any means, but Lance wasn’t totally out of it and was familiar with some local bands that would get routine shows around bars and clubs here and there, and he couldn’t recall hearing about Steal prior. He’d like to think he’d remember someone as striking as Steal if he saw him before, anyway. Steal explained that he had a small band and that they only did a few performances here and there, nothing major. He said that it had been a while since they had gotten together and done anything, alluding to some scheduling troubles and other things. But the low, wavering tone he used hinted at something more. It didn’t take Lance long to deduce that it was sadness. “I bet motivation plays a big part in it,” He interjected, he himself familiar with how depression can affect ones work ethic. “I mean, if you’ve got other more... Pressing things in your life bringing you down, it makes it hard to even want to get together and do something you used to like doing.” He reached for his glass of water and brought it to his lips for a sip, then held it in his hands and stirred the icecubes inside idly. “Well, if it means anything, it’d be nice to hear you play sometime. You’ve got a nice voice, I bet your singing sounds great!” Their conversation continued on for a little while longer until their bill arrived. Lance happily fronted the check and escorted Steal back to his car, asking him if he wanted to check anything else out around town before bringing him back home. ** All the while, Yusai had barely budged from his spot at his desk. Ever since his “test” earlier, he had been on a frantic hunt for any kind of validation that the strange feelings he had, all the damning evidence that pointed to one certain conclusion, was in fact bullshit. It wa s a difficult search but Yusai eventually came across a forum where people had posed similar questions about their own sexuality and received answers and explainations that seemed very sensible... To him (complete pseudo-intellectual garbage) He was relieved to find a whole community that seemed to have the same experience he was currently having. There were lots of men asking whether or not finding gay porn erotic actually made one gay, and sure enough, there were loads of responses from other users assuring them that they were not. That pornography is just an expression of desire, and desire is an abstract manifestation of carnal instinct. There were other explainations too, and Yusai had been combing through the majority of them during the day. He was finally starting to feel assured, that there wasn’t something wrong with him. To any observer, it would’ve been fairly obvious that Yusai was in heavy denial and seeking validation from equally closeted peers trying desperately to squelch a natural expression of their sexuality. But to Yusai, this was the thing he needed to see, if not just to keep himself from going insane, and to keep some unpleasant memories locked away. Still, one memory was paddling itself up to the surface. Every now and again, Yusai would vaguely remember a day he had cut out of P.E a little early to meet with Richard under the field bleachers to hang out. He remembered how the sun had been blazing and how humid the weather was. He remembered how he had looked forward to being somewhere shaded but dreaded the thought of having to hang out where there were so many spiders. He remembered the sound of his sneakers thwacking against the gravel under his feet as he jogged toward the bleachers. He remembered slowing down a bit to catch his breath, as the humidity in the air was winding him more than usual. When he had slowed down, he remembered he could still hear the “thwack”ing sound, only duller and heavier sounding. It was followed then by grunting and a low, anguished moan, punctuated by a wheezing cough. Yusai remembered how the sound had unsettled him and sent a surge of curiosity, as well as adrenaline, through him. Despite his want for air, he began running again to figure out what was making that noise. It didn’t take him long until he was under at the bleachers and circling around to get underneath, where the sound got louder. It took Yusai a moment to descipher what he was seeing, but when he realized what he was looking at, he was horrorfied. There were two boys that he didn’t know, and Richard. They were in a scuffle. One of the boys had Richard held by a wad of his long, black hair while the other had his arm wrapped around his neck in a chokehold. With their free arms, they were punching at him wherever they could land a hit, and Richard was only able to struggle, his face contorted with pain. Yusai watched these two guys beating up his best friend, wanting to do something, anything to help but his body wouldn’t move. “--Fuckin’ faggot! Nob-suckin’ prick!” One of the boys hissed at Richard, releasing him from the chokehold and shoving him into the dirt. The other kid still had him by his hair so Richard’s neck craned back oddly while his body twisted to the ground. He let out a howl and pulled his head forward, releasing most of his hair from the kids grip. He tried to gather his strength to stand but the two boys were quick to pounce on him and begin their assult once again. Yusai saw one of the boys rear his leg up for swift kick, heard a shallow “thud” followed by a loud, pained hiss, and although Yusai couldn’t see, he knew his friend had been badly hurt by the blow. It was at this sound that he rushed forward, adrenaline finally working in his favor. Yusai’s memory of events from that point onward were a bit fuzzy. He could remember Richard’s body slowly arching up to stand, his legs trembling to keep him upright. He remembered the huge bruises that blotted Richard’s neck, shoulders, arms, and ribs for weeks. He remembered the blood that streaked down Richard’s nose and neck that pooled into an even darker red crescent down the front of his red jersey. He remembered how he bitterly pleaded with Richard for details on how the fight happened, his own body boiling over with a feirce need to fight. He remembered how Richard didn’t say anything about it, only assuring Yusai that he was fine. He remembered how after the fight, Richard seemed like a different person. Yusai was brought out of this reverie when he heard the door to the apartment open and shut, and the sound of steps coming indoors. He shook his head, unclouding his mind from this haze. Steal was back... Already? Yusai looked up at the clock on the wall and bawked; It was almost six. He had spent the majority of his day fretting over his sexuality and browsing the internet for assurance that he was “normal”. Speaking of which, he still had the forums he had been reading open when Steal came into the bedroom, his expression fairly chipper. Yusai scrambled to close his laptop and greet him. “Oi—Hey, h... How’d it go?” Yusai asked, standing. “That took you a while, didn’t it? I thought they were just takin’ out stitches?” Steal looked at him blankly and nodded. He said that they did, and pulled aside the locks of gray hair that had been covering the former string of stitches that had been a stark line along his head for the last few weeks. He mentioned that after the affair, he went out on a dinner date, and asked if Yusai got his text messages. Messages? God, Yusai hadn’t looked at anything but a computer screen all day. He had completely neglected his phone and when he looked at it there still on his nightstand, he could see the little red notification light on it fading in and out to let him know he had messages waiting for him to read. “Uh... I guess I didn’t, sorry.” He apologized, and walked over to his phone to dismiss the notifications. “I’ve been restin’ most of the day. I’m feeling heaps better though.” He was lying, but he didn’t want Steal to ever know what he had really been up to. Besides, how would he even begin to explain? He wanted to deflect from this particular avenue of conversation and asked Steal about his dinner date instead. He was surprised to learn he had gone out with Lance—and immediately dismissed any sort of romantic inclination the ‘date’ might have had, thinking it instead like a dinner date with a friend—and was simultaneously upsetted by the news. Not overtly, but he felt an unpleasant pinch in his gut. “Well... ‘Spose you had your fill and fun then,” Yusai trailed absent-mindedly, hesitent to say anything more on the subject. He felt strange. He felt a mix of anger, sadness, and loneliness in one bizarre concoction that he had never felt all at once, and there was a jolt of fear, too; what brought this mood on so suddenly? He wasn’t sure, but observing Steal’s mannerisms—so casual and cool—made Yusai feel the sensation more acutely. Jealousy was not an emotion that Yusai had ever been acquainted with, but he was feeling it now and to an outside observer, you could almost swear his hazel-green eyes had turned a shade or two greener as Steal talked about his evening out with Lance.
  11. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    Steal had slept through Yusai’s breakfast, and was still sleeping by the time he decided he needed a shower to refresh himself. While he gathered clothing to change into, he pulled some money out of his wallet and jotted down a quick note for Steal, just in case he left while he bathed. He hadn’t really given thought to the tone of the letter, but in hindsight it read very curtly. He had hopped into the bath, shaved and freshened up, and when he stepped out to dress, he saw the blanket on Steals side of the bed bundled up and his indentation on the mattress. Yusai called out for Steal, just to see if he hadn’t left yet. He inquiry was answered with silence. Once again Yusai was left alone with nothing but his thoughts, which were not something he particularly wanted to be left alone with at this time. But then, he had something to prove today, didn’t he? And he may as well do it while Steal was gone. It was better that he wasn’t there to witness Yusai’s bizarre, strange trial to prove his sexual identity was one way versus the other. How was he going to prove he wasn’t gay, exactly? Well, he hadn’t quite thought of that yet. It wasn’t like there was a gay test you could take. No written exam, no series of questions, no blood that could be drawn or even a stick to piss on that would give you an answer. It was just something you’d know if you were... And how else do you know if you are? Yusai supposed there was one way, but he was nervous and hesitent to do it, subconsciously fearing the results. But... God, he had to know. He had to do SOMETHING to convince himself that he wasn’t. Figuring the best way to do this was to watch more porn and gauge his reaction to it. It was silly, embarassing, and Yusai even felt more than a little guilty for considering this option, but it was the only thing he could think of to really prove it one way or the other. He closed the door and walked around his room to shut the curtains, too. Subconsciously, he didn’t want anyone else to see this. He felt nothing but shame and apprehension doing what he was about to do, but he marched forward with this plan anyway, determined to reach some answers about his sexuality... Something he had never questioned until two days ago, and was already driving him mad. Just what was the big deal, anyway? When his room was “locked down”, Yusai sat at his desk and flipped open his laptop. He stared at the screen for a minute, unsure what to do or where to go from this point onward. He opened up a browser and typed in the url of a website that he used to frequent that he knew had a wide selection of material for people of all sexualities. He figured he’d watch things he’d normally look at for starters, then... Briefly check the gay porn section and see if his reaction was any worse—or better, in this case. So, he began browsing and watching his usual stuff. Woman dominates man, woman fucks guy silly, woman pleasures guy... It was all standard fair and Yusai couldn’t say that it wasn’t enticing. But he found that he wasn’t as into it as he could be, for some reason. He felt distracted in a way or like something was missing. It was hard to put his finger on, but he just didn’t find himself as turned on as he could be. Before he decided he was going to leap into the gay porn section, Yusai thought it best that he maybe check out the lesbian porn first and see if that changed his mood any. He launched a video and was already reacting to it with displeasure; These women were obnoxious. There was absolutely nothing arousing about their acting, their physique, or even the things they were doing to each other. Yusai closed the video out and launched another, thinking that perhaps this one was just a dud. The next one he loaded was “better” but certainly did nothing for Yusai to entice him, even a little. He picked another one to watch. It seemed like no matter what he pulled up, there was always something about it that Yusai could nitpick or notice that was a major turn-off for him, so he scrapped the section altogether. Now all that was left was the gay porn. Yusai hesitently clicked his way into the gay porn section, and was barely able to navigate around it as he kept averting his eye away from the screen. Just browsing this section for something to watch—to test himself with—was making him jumpy, nervous, and uneasy. He felt like the curtains weren’t closed enough, that the door to his room needed to be locked, that... He needed to exist in another plane entirely to go through with this. But he knew he needed to confront this, to prove himself wrong. Closing his eye, he clicked on a random thumbnail and let the video load to play. He heard an innocuous conversation between two men, and the sound of fabric shuffling. They were talking about a workout they just had and how they needed to shower. They had a discussion about who would go first, which devolved into an argument. Then one of them suggested that they take a shower together so they could get clean at the same time and conserve water. If Yusai wasn’t already feeling embarassed, he’d likely find the premise of this porn silly and even laugh. But he sat there, his eye looking at anything but the screen... Until he saw them begin to undress. They started by peeling off their shirts in unison, one of the men commenting that the others abs were looking really good, while the other returned the compliment by saying his back muscles were amazing. They were legitimate compliments to be made, Yusai had to admit when he saw them. But he shyed his eye away again when he saw them unbutton their trousers and remove their pants. In his peripheral vision he could just see their well-toned, brief-clad buttoms, and his eye was drawn over again to admire their physique. He felt the back of his neck prickle, and a deep inner warmth rose from his loins. The video progressed with them removing their briefs, starting the faucet for the shower, and getting in together. Insofar, nothing particularly scandalous was happening but Yusai was now beyond the point of pretending he didn’t have an interest in what he was seeing, and like last time, was watching more intently than he realized. The way the water ran down their bodies, the way they rubbed themselves down and worked up a lather. Then one of the men turned around to face the other and asked if he could clean a spot he couldn’t reach. The other man simply nodded and asked where. Then the requesting gentleman placed his palms forward on the shower wall and presented his ass to the other. Yusai’s body suddenly felt electric and hot, and he squirmed in his seat. The man worked some soap between his hands and began rubbing the other down with soap, massaging the lather over his supple cheeks, then running a teasing finger between his crack. The receiving man bit his lip while he continued to “clean” him using just two fingers that worked between his rear. The showerhead was brought down to rinse him off—they both rinsed off, actually—and the man reached for a bottle of oil. “We should moisturize,” said the man who had been soaping the other down, and he flipped open the bottle and poured some oil onto his palm. He rubbed it between his hands and told the other guy to stand like he had before so he could grease him up, and he wordlessly obliged. The video progressed predictably from there, with one man working his fingers into the others knot and reaching around to stroke him off while the other crooned with pleasure. What stopped Yusai from seeing it through to the very end was a huge discomfort in his crotch. He looked down and to his horror, saw a very obvious erection just stemming from his sweatpants. He closed the video out and swallowed, his mind over-running while similarly blank. He couldn’t believe it. He... He... Just couldn’t be. He just wasn’t... This didn’t prove... Yusai closed the tab he had open, done with this “test”. He opened up another tab and began typing into the search bar, determined to find answers to his head which was now brimming with questions and accusations. He didn’t want to listen to the nagging voice telling him he was gay, that he was a faggot, that he was different. He wanted affirmation that... That he was straight, that just because he found gay porn arousing didn’t make him gay, and that he was fine. That there was nothing to worry about. He vaguely remembered a time in his youth when he went to meet his friend Richard under the bleachers after school. He remembered the sound of struggling and flesh-hitting-flesh. *** Meanwhile, Lance couldn’t believe his luck. It was dumb luck of course, the worst kind he could hope for, but in a way, he had been grateful to run into Steal by chance at the coffee shop. Upon noticing him there—and how could Lance not, Steal was a very hard to miss person in a crowd—Lance tensed up; Should he say something? Should he greet him? He felt so much like a fool, that he had squandered any chance he had with the guy and that by this point, he’d just be freaking him out. But... Steal was there, practically irresistable. Thankfully, Steal was the first one to approach him, which nearly made Lance leap out of his own skin. He stammered back a “hello” and engaged in some mild plesantries, asking Steal what he was up to. The smaller (cuter) man said he was going to the hospital to get some stitches out, and revealed the spot on his head where he still had them. Lance hadn’t forgotten they were there, and too afraid to ask how he had gotten them, opted to ask him if that was all he was up to. They talked, and Steal was suddenly aflight, saying he needed to get going or he’d miss his appointment, then cursing because he had forgotten cab fair. Instinctively, Lance offered to take him to the hospital himself. Was that weird of him, he wondered? Steal seemed hesitent to oblige (and Lance could understand why, reminding himself of his shame) but came around on the idea, and so Lance escorted Steal to the hospital. While they drove, Steal commented on Lance’s interesting music, which made him smirk. Were they going to have a normal conversation? Finally! “Sorry if it’s not your thing... I just really like The Closing Curtain. You ever hear a band, or song, that just... Resonates with you?” Lance asked, getting a little lost in his own thoughts. “The Closing Curtain was the band that brought me ‘out’ into the world. Like... It was hard when I first came out. I got kicked out of my house and my parents basically disowned me. But this music made me feel... Like, I don’t know, that it wasn’t so bad? Like no matter how hard and shitty things were at the time, that they’d eventually turn around and... Well, they did for me, mostly.” Lance flicked his gaze over to Steal and asked him if he could relate, curious if he and Steal could finally share a common bond.
  12. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    *** When Yusai woke up the next morning, he felt considerably better. Physically, anyway. Mentally, he was still out of sorts. He leaned upright and his vision slid slightly—he was still a little woozy, it seemed—and he felt weight across his chest slip down to his stomach. Yusai looked down and saw Steals arm there. He must’ve fallen asleep curled up along his side all night. Yusai wasn’t sure how he felt when he thought about that. He felt a twinge of uneasiness that was all too quick to sink in and dominate his frame of mind. Yusai hadn’t minded when Steal had fallen asleep next to him like that before, or with his head on his lap, or his head on his chest... Why did it matter now? In a way, it didn’t. He tried to assure himself that there wasn’t anything strange about this sleeping arrangement because it hadn’t been anything he hadn’t done before... But there was suddenly a strange, new doubt in the back of his mind. A strange part of him that felt panicked, almost alarmed even, unusual, when he thought about it. About another man cuddling up close to him. It felt good. But, Yusai wasn’t ready to admit it. Slowly and gently, Yusai lifted Steals arm away and placed it down beside him as he rolled to get up out of bed. His muscles were sore and his joints ached. Walking to the bathroom for a simple piss hurt more than it ever had. His head hurt too, with a combination of dehydration from yesterday and with the now-persistent beckoning of Yusai’s brain doing it’s best to convince him that he wasn’t gay. That was the most annoying part. After finishing up in the bathroom, Yusai made his way to the kitchen and fetched himself a glass of water, resolving to shut his brain up once and for all today as he reached into the cupboard. He didn’t know how, exactly, but he was going to do something, anything it took to release himself from this barrage of self-inflicted harassment. He filled his cup and drank from it ravenously, not realizing just how thirsty he was until the cool liquid hit his mouth and parched the dryness there. He was momentarily distracted when he heard his phone beeping from the bedroom, and Yusai put his cup down in the sink and went to tend to the noise. Coming back into the bedroom, he saw Steal just starting to rouse awake, shifting slowly and stretching like a cat before bringing the blankets up around his shoulders and settling back down. He murmured softly, making faint sounds of incoherent noises that almost sounded like a song. Perhaps Steal was dreaming of singing? Yusai quietly stepped around the bed and reached for his phone on the nightstand, shutting off the alarm that was beeping. It wasn’t his morning alarm, but a reminder instead. “Take Steal to get stiches out--12pm”, the reminder read. Yusai looked at the clock on his phone and saw that it was only 9am. Still a few more hours before he had to worry about doing that, he thought. Although he wasn’t so sure he was feeling quite up to driving, or being out and about today... He supposed he could get Steal a cab, or give him some money for the subway. Yes, that could work he thought. Although a large part of him felt guilty for not feeling up to accompanying Steal while he went to the hospital. He knew how much Steal hated hospitals. ** Two blocks away from Yusai’s apartment, Ian sat at a coffee shop and was gruffly sucking down a cup of some of the most bitter coffee he had ever had in his life, all while he was getting his ear chewed out over the phone by a client. Mrs. Masters wasn’t one to yell, but she had a stern manner of speaking like a teacher scolding an entire classroom that instictively made Ian clam up and just listen versus trying to protest against it. Besides, she was the one fronting his paycheck at the moment. “I don’t care about who he’s sneaking around to see or who he’s sharing his affections with—I want him away from those creitens tempting him with that lifestyle. God only knows what sorts of dubious activities they get up to... The last thing I want is to be reading my child’s obituary in the paper about how he OD’d on heroin at some... Disgusting, all-male sex orgy.” Mrs. Masters said with a very clear tone of disgust painting her words. Ian couldn’t help but smirk, finding her insinuation ridiculous (and if he were a better man, he’d find it offensive, too) but he tried to placate her anyway. “Don’t worry ma’am, I’m working on getting him away from the guy he’s staying with. I got a lead with another guy he’d been talking to... If I can just get them together and away from the big guy, it should be a piece of cake.” Ian assured her, although in the back of his mind, he had some doubts. Short of outright kidnapping Steal—which he couldn’t do, even if he was getting paid—he wasn’t so sure the plan he had in mind would work, exactly. He was really banking on Steal being a sentimental idiot for a lot of this to even follow through. “Whatever,” Mrs. Masters interjected, sounding more cross somehow, “I don’t care what the plan is—Just get him away from that nonsense and back into our hands. If I see another report on him in the news, I’ll just...” She trailed off and made a low grumbling sound, resembling an angry animal of some kind. And although she couldn’t see it, Ian was nodding. “I understand,” He said, and went on, “I’m working on it.” And that is where their conversation had ended after some formal send-offs. Ian was oblivious to the keen set of ears overhearing parts of their conversation that belonged to a rugged young man standing in line for coffee. It was the detective from yesterday, who just happened to frequent this shop often enough that the barista at the counter was already making up his order. “Logan!” She called out to him when his order was ready, and the investigator reached out to take it from her hands and thanked her for her prompt service. He was too distracted to engage in small talk with her today—his interest was too piqued by the conversation he had overheard coming from that strange red-hed that he swore looked familiar, somehow. Of course, he couldn’t exactly ask what his conversation had been about, but it sounded fairly severe, if not otherwise suspicious. He was going to keep his eyes and ears open while he was here with this guy.
  13. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    While Yusai napped, he could hear the water in the shower running and an occasional soft moan, and the sound of both made him stir in his sleep. The restless fever dream he had been having turned into something else entirely, and Yusai found himself behind the bar counter at work, cleaning things up at the end of a shift. Just as he was wrapping things up, three men entered, baring the likeness of the men in the video Yusai had watched. They approached the counter and asked for a drink, and Yusai’s stomach—though it had been in knots most of the day—fluttered with a new feeling, something akin to nervousness, uncertainty, but also excitement. He said the bar was closed, and that they should leave. Similar to how the video had played out, the three men wasted no time making their intentions known, and before they could protest, before Yusai could resist, there were three sets of hands on him, pinning him backwards onto the bar counter, peeling his clothes off, rubbing their hands up and down the skin that they bore. Yusai was absolutely helpless and could only squirm under their phantom touch, trembling with those feelings of uncertainty, with desire. The smaller of the men climbed up onto him and sat on his lap, grinning at Yusai in a way that filled him with prickly twinges of adrenaline. Oh fuck, this was wrong. Oh fuck, this was happening. Yusai knew he shouldn’t want what he was anticipating but he could feel his cock stiffening and everything from his cheeks southward go warm. His mind was screaming one thing but his body defied him in every way imaginable. Yusai was breathless when he felt movement on his hips, and when he looked down he saw the strangers buldge grinding against his own. He squirmed again, suddenly feeling electric. His eye darted up to look at the mans face, noticing that it had changed somehow. He resembled somebody he knew... But he couldn’t quite put his finger on who. His eyes were a striking blue, and his lips drawn in a thin, soft line across his narrow, slightly feminine jaw. His hair had changed from dirty, spiked blonde to a longer silvery color that seemed to change in shade, getting darker sometimes—and when it did, his eyes and mouth and jaw seemed to change shape, too—but never keeping consistent. The only thing that was consistent was the smouldering look in his eye as he ground into Yusai’s pelvis, ran his hands up his chest, and teased him. Yusai slammed his eye shut and shuddered, swallowing thickly, unsure if he would be sick again or not. He didn’t feel like he was going to be, but he was vaguely reminded that he was ill. Just as things were getting intense, something changed. Yusai heard a sound like a dresser being shut and he opened his eye gently, seeing the blurry outline of a pink, lithe figure fussing with something red. The figure bent over and lifted a leg, shucking on the garment and pulling it over their other leg, then pulling it up over their thighs. His eye was half-open now, focusing, and he could better see who he was looking at—Steal—but Yusai was still very much not lucid, not really processing where he was in reality. Still, he watched Steal getting himself dressed. Watched Steal yank his underwear over his pert, cute butt. Watched him wiggle out the wrinkles and creases. Watched the reflection in the mirror as Steal adjusted his junk. Yusai sighed and closed his eye again and was immediately thrust back into his dream almost right where he had taken off, only this time filled with the thought: What if Steal was the one sitting on top of him? What if Steal was the one grinding into his pelvis and crooning, driving him to sweet, forbidden pleasure? He felt a jolt of panic then. No, that wasn’t right. Steal couldn’t be the one, Steal was his... Friend... None of this was right. Yusai wasn’t gay! He looked up at the man on his lap, silently pleading with him to stop, get off, he wasn’t—he couldn’t be—he-- Movement at his side and a faint, soapy smell came to Yusai and roused him awake, dispelling everything in an instant. Steal was settling into the bed beside him, looking surprised to see Yusai stirring. He asked if he was alright. Yusai, groggy, nodded and let out a low hum. “Yeah I’m... I’m fine,” Yusai said, soupily turning onto his back. “How long have I been asleep?” Steal told him he had been sleeping for most of the day and that he’d been in and out of bed occasionally. He mentioned the time—11:30—and said he was just about to call it a night himself. He sounded tired, maybe more fatigued from the days events, which Yusai had been out for the count on. “Oi... Sorry if I kept you up. Thanks for takin’ care of me... That medicine earlier really helped.” Yusai blearily rubbed at his eye and massaged his forehead, still feeling the pang of a headache there, but luckily there was no fever present. He felt a rough palm rest on his shoulder gently, and Yusai looked down to see it was Steals hand there, giving him a little pat. When he lifted his hand away, Yusai noticed it was covered in bandages. “What happened to your hand?” he asked, turning back onto his side to face Steal, curious to what he would recount about the day.
  14. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    The investigator watched Steal peel a path down the street in a rush, leaving a thin trail of blood for a few steps behind him. He called out to him, but Steal was both not paying attention and already too far ahead to have heard him among the busy early-morning New York traffic anyhow. He saw Steal barrel into a building a block and a half ahead and that was the end of that. Well whatever, the investigator thought to himself, taking a sip from his travel mug, searing his tongue with coffee. He withdrew the cup, hissing at himself from the minor injury, and while he inhaled the cool air to satiate the sting, he couldn’t help but notice a particular jet black car driving a peculiar path down the street ahead. He observed it curiously. It was driving slower than the surrounding traffic, much to the aggitation of the general public having to navigate around it. When it reached a nearby 4-way intersection, it turned tot he left and circled around a municipal building across the street from the building Steal had darted into, and disappeared around the corner where the investigator couldn’t see. A few minutes later it reappeared, turning left onto the street next to the apartment complex, and continued it’s cycle. It was simply circling the building. But why? The investigator squinted in an attempt to read the lisence plate number of the bizarre car, but he couldn’t see it from as far away as he was, and besides, there was too much surrounding traffic cutting in and out in front of it to get a good angle. He kept his eyes on it at any rate, just to see if maybe its suspicious driving pattern had any purpose, and he wasn’t disappointed—within 10 minutes of observing this, the investigator saw someone with rusty colored hair come out of the building across the street and approach the car, which had finally pulled over on the curb. The red-head and the passenger of the car (the investigator couldn’t see them) talked for a minute, then the passenger window rolled up and the car pulled away, boldly cutting off oncoming traffic from behind and narrowly missing a red-light at the intersection. The car was coming straight down the road the investigator was on and he tried to get a better look at some details as it drove by. A black BMW. Custom gold window trimming. Custom silver and gold rims. Lisence plate MA0002. Tinted windows. He was barely able to make out the passenger of the car as it drove by, but it appeared to be a woman. Yanking a pen out of his pocket, the man scribbled the lisence plate number onto the rim of his cup and shucked it away. He’d remember to run a quick search on the plates when he was at the office. But for now, he took another sip of his drink. It was much more palapble this time. ~~ It was a few hours after Steal had administered medicine to Yusai, and he was still in the middle of sleeping while his fever subsided. He had woken up a few times to take sips at whatever beverage Steal had generously left at his bedside, and to dry-heave some more, but eventually that stopped and Yusai was still. The next time he roused, it was because he heard another voice in the apartment that wasn’t familiar. Yusai lay in bed listening to the murmered conversation Steal seemed to be having with some stranger, who was pestering him with questions. He happened to overhear something about a cat in their dialog. Yusai wondered if the stranger somehow knew about Prince, which seemed suspicious since the cat never left their apartment since they brought him in. Steal’s tone was becoming increasingly agitated, which he seldom ever was, so Yusai’s gut reaction was to be concerned. He leaned up, dizzy and groggy still, then came to stand. He felt awful, but, less so now that he wasn’t burning up. He slowly made his way to the livingroom where he could only see Steals silhouette in the doorway, talking to a man who’s hair muddled Steals form a little with its volume. Behind Steal’s heel was Prince, trilling for his attention but receiving none of it while his preferred caretaker talked to this stranger who seemed intent on taking up as much of Steals time as possible. Yusai could hear their conversation better now, but it was complete nonsense and it seemed more to him like whoever this guy was, he was either crazy or scamming for something. On occasion the apartment complex would get solicitors—some handing out pamplets for churches, some trying to sell some product or another, some looking for their dealer—and this occasion didn’t seem any different to Yusai. However, he was much to sick to deal with it in a polite way. He approached Steal from behind and without any sort of warning, said very curtly, “We ain’t bloody interested in any of your garbage,” and shut the door. There was a stammer of protest from behind it for a second, but Yusai heard footsteps receed soon. He turned to Steal, eye downcast at the floor since it was the only place he could look without feeling tipsy, and stared blearily at his feet and the cat still twirling around him. “What did that git want?” Yusai asked, shuffling toward the sofa to lie down in defeat of his sickness. “He didn’t look like a tenant.” Steal explained that it was a man he had encountered the other day who was looking for a cat, and that he had promised to help him find it. However, he said he wasn’t sure how the gentleman found him here at the apartment, and vocalized concern about it. Yusai hummed to agree, feeling none too contented knowing some stranger had somehow managed to track Steal down to his place and was harassing him about some animal he had lost. “If he comes by again, tell me about it. I’ll call the police or flog him meself.” Yusai reclined into the cushions of the couch, making himself as comfortable as he could for another round of sick-sleep. He heard Steal hum back at him, a contemplative look crossing his delicate features as he gazed at the door. Had Yusai been too hasty in turning away this guy? He didn’t feel like he had been. But Steal was a very sensitive soul, and if the story he told about a stranger seeking his lost pet was true, Yusai knew how quick he would’ve been to help. Steal always had a soft spot when it came to cats. Still, something didn’t sit right about the encounter, and Yusai drifted back into a nap feeling restless and troubled about it all. He blamed some of those feelings on being sick, but the other part of him felt that there was something more to this than what was on the surface. He didn’t know what, but the feeling was there nonetheless. **
  15. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    After taking a leak, Yusai retreated to the bedroom again, his ovation having fatigued him more than he would’ve liked. It was rare that he was ever sick, but it was hitting him hard and he wasn’t exactly prepared for it. He went to lay down on the mattress that he had only just stood up from a few minutes ago. Though the mattress and sheets were still warm from where he’d laid in sleep, the fever he had made the spot feel cooler than it was, and he greeted the coolness with some relief. Yusai shuffled under the cover and turned to his side, closing his eye and doing his best to drift back to sleep. At least in sleep, his thoughts wouldn’t bother him. In a morbid way, he was a little glad he was sick too, since it gave him something else to focus on. Like, how awful he felt, for instance. It didn’t take long for Yusai to drift back to sleep, and when Steal entered the room with tea, he was somewhere in that haze of dream and barely-consciousness. He could hear Steal talking and understand what he was saying, but the haze of his fever and the state of his consciousness turned his confession into a bizarre dream. He heard Steal say that he was going to leave him, but that he couldn’t. In his dream, he saw Prince on the floor looking up at him and talking, saying the things Steal was saying. Prince—Steal—said that he loved him, to which Yusai responded, “I love you too...?” puzzled by the cat’s profession, as it seemed unusual, given their rivalry. Yusai felt pressure and movement, and he looked down, noticing that the floor under his feet was undulating. That was peculiar. There was loud rumbling—Steal’s phone on the nightstand—that Yusai’s brain turned into an earthquake, and he could see cracks starting to form in the floor. Steal had appeared and was standing in the middle of the chaos that had suddenly errupted. Yusai went to run toward him, but the floor was so unstable, it was cracking underneath his feet, and he couldn’t find balance. Steal was still talking, but all Yusai could hear was murmurs. He sounded sad. Yusai tried to get to him still, but his body felt like it weighed a ton. He couldn’t even move. The weight of Yusai’s body somehow metamorphozied into a strange, abstract gravity that he could see pressing down on him, pinning him to nothing. He looked over and saw Steal still standing, still talking amidst the earthquake... Until the earth under his feet cracked, and then he saw Steal sink. Yusai, alarmed, tried to reach out to him, tried to sit up and go after him. But he couldn’t get up no matter how hard he tried. He shouted for Steal. Shouted for him to come back. His throat hurt and he felt like his voice wasn’t working. He was desperate to get up, desperate to go after him, but still he couldn’t move. Yusai hoped in vain that the earth would give out underneath him too so he could search for Steal, but he wouldn’t be so fortunate. The pressure on Yusai’s chest slackened a little but turned into a different kind of sensation. Now he felt a fuzzy warmth there, and heard the sound of breathing. “I love you,” A familiar voice said again. Yusai tried to look down but for whatever reason, his head couldn’t seem to crane that way. The fuzzy warmth on Yusai’s chest changed into another sensation: heavy again, but with sadness. “You’re not going to leave me again, are you?” he asked, unsure if he wanted to hear the answer, as he felt like he knew what the response was. “If I did, would it really matter?” the voice asked, something about his tone sounding strange to Yusai’s ears. “Yes!” Yusai yelped, hurt. “Of course it would! Don’t you know how much you mean to me? You’re me best friend, you... You... Were...” Yusai’s throat tightened, strangling around these words. He wanted to say more. He wanted to say... Anything. But his throat hurt. His body hurt. He hurt all over, but his head especially. You were me best mate and now you’re dead. Somehow, Yusai was able to lift his head and look down at the weight on his chest. He saw Steal there, resting his head. Yusai shook him. He didn’t rouse. He shook him again until he rolled over, and Yusai could see his face, pale and blue. He recoiled in horror. “St... Steal!” He shouted, panic and sadness and grief and alarm coursing through him all at once. His stomach lurched. Yusai suddenly felt very ill. He shot up in bed then, startling a napping cat. He clenched his hand to his mouth and in the daze of fever delirium and grogginess of sleep, Yusai trampled a clumsy path to the bathroom to empty whatever he could out of his stomach and into the toilet. God, he hadn’t barfed since he was a teenager. His fourteen year puke-free streak had been broken and in the worst imaginable way. Yusai couldn’t remember a time he had felt so awful... Or he could, but he certainly didn’t want to think about it now, not while he was staring into the big porcaline oval. When he was finished, he shakily leaned against the bathroom wall, trying to bring himself down from the sick adrenaline rush and keep himself as level in the head as he could. It was hard to do with the fever. The dreams he just had were still fresh in his mind and at the moment, it was a little hard for him to tell where and when he was. Weakly, he called out for Steal. In a way, he felt like he was still calling out to him in a dream. But Steal had appeared—or had he been there the whole time?--and he was running his delicate hands along the top of Yusai’s aching head, asking him what he needed. It was a loaded question that Yusai was too sick to answer. He needed him. But instead, what ended up coming out of Yusai’s mouth was the sound of gagging as he convulsed into a fit of dry-heaving. Ugh, he couldn’t take this. He needed medicine. Steal seemed to be a mind-reader and had gotten up to rummage through the medicine cabinet, looking for anything that would cure the flu, cure his fever, cure a cough... Anything. Yusai didn’t need to look up to see the concerned face Steal was sporting as he mentioned that they didn’t appear to have anything in the house for him to take. Yusai groaned. “Steal... There’s money in me wallet... Can you... the store... please,” Yusai murmured with a shiver. “Just.. down the street...” Yusai jammed his eye shut, too pained to have it open while the room spun around him. He heard Steal shuffle around, gathering his things, stopping by the bathroom one more time to make sure that he would be alright before he left. Yusai tried to blearily assure him he would be, but he wasn’t making a lot of sense. Before Steal left Yusai, he called him back to say “Don’t leave me.” But, he was lost in the haze of his dream, still, in some ways.