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Everything posted by Antwaine

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

    (double posting because WOO WOO SITE DONT WORK) Yusai went to work later that night, having another episode of distractions and forgetfulness. He was able to tune the annoying thoughts out of his head for some time, but that was just it: he expelled so much concentration into trying not to think about those thoughts that he was forgetting how to function normally otherwise. He had come out of his shift feeling burnt out, worn out, and exhausted in a way he had never been before. His head hurt--actually hurt--and he felt sick, like he had strained something in his gut. Yusai drove home and crawled into bed, noticing briefly that Steal hadn't moved an inch from his spot on the far end of the mattress since earlier, and thought for a moment to stir him to see if he was alright. He decided against it however, not feeling so well himself, and besides, it was late. He instead opted to sleep. He was restless the entire night. *** Yusai was unaware of Steals activity early that morning. He was in too deep a sleep to notice the movement from the bed, hear the sounds of Steal scuttling around, or hear the click of the door as he left. Meanwhile, Otto had been the recipient of a few bizarre early-morning texts from Steal requesting to meet him at a nearby street. He obligied, curious and a little alarmed. It wasn’t often Steal reached out to him personally but when he did, the tone of their conversation wasn’t typically so cryptic or serious. Usually it was just Steal wanting to vent, needing a companion to talk about what an oblivious idiot Yusai could be. He liked those conversations. This occasion was immediately different; Steal met Otto outside in the parkinglot of a convenience store, his face already the picture of misery, and Otto quickly asked “What’s going on?”, and tried to parse together what was troubling Steal. Unlike how their blunt, “bitchy” conversations usually went, this one was different. Steal was sullen and vague and he could barely look Otto in the eyes. It was like he was lost, and had given up hope. Otto tried to pry for more information but Steal, with tears in his eyes, handed him a letter and asked that he please give it to Yusai when he next saw him. Without thinking about how personal the contents might be, Otto opened the letter and began reading. He was halfway through when Steal noticed he was looking it over, and he yelped, scrambling to retreive it from Otto’s hands before he could continue further. Otto simply raised his arm and read at an upwards angle, and Steal had tried to scale his body in a last-ditch and ultimately futile effort to get it back. He slid down Otto’s body like a firepole and Otto, having finished his reading, looked down at him and said, “I’m not giving Yusai this.” Even though he couldn’t see Steals expression, Otto could tell by Steals head resting defeatedly against his knees, how affected he was by hearing that. He mumbled—practically whined—in protest. Why was he doing this to him, he asked, sounding genuinely confused and upset. “I’m not doing anything to you,” Otto retorted, bending at his knees and grabbing Steal by the shoulders. “I’m not giving him this letter because this is all stuff you should be telling him face-to-face. You can’t just up and leave him like that and use me to deliver the blow. The guy has abandonment issues as-is.” He pulled Steal up to his feet, seeing something in his expression change; Steal looked contemplative, mulling over what he had just heard. Was it something that Otto said? Then the tears that had been welling in his eyes fell, and he began sobbing, and apologizing. Otto never knew how to comfort a crying individual—even a friend—so his extended arm around Steals shoulder to an embrace was awkward and stilted. “Hey, don’t apologize to me,” Otto murmured, patting Steal, “You don’t have anything to apologize for. You’re in a rough situation with Yusai, I know. He can be a huge, huge idiot sometimes... But trust me when I say that he doesn’t have anyone like you in his life that could ever replace you. He needs you in a way that nobody he calls his friend, even me, does... Especially this time of year.” Steal, swallowing down a hiccup, rubbed the moisture from his eyes and cheeks and asked quietly why that was, although his question seemed to be asking more why Otto believed Yusai needed him at all, as if he himself didn’t believe a word he had said. Otto sighed, withdrawing his arm and tucking his hands inside his pockets, and took a brief, wayward glance up at the sky. Had Yusai really never, ever told Steal anything about his own life? Maybe this was why Steal thought Yusai didn’t want him around or didn’t value him as a friend... The ungrateful idiot. He looked down at the crestfallen Steal, who seemed to be pulling himself back together slowly. “He’s told you about his old buddy Richard, right? He died sometime in November. Yusai’s never talked about how... Doesn’t like talking about it much, I guess. It’s always a sensitive subject with him, too,” Otto said, recalling what he could from all previous conversations he had tried to squeeze out of Yusai since he himself found out. “Anyway... We’re getting off track. Steal, if you really want to leave Yusai, you can, especially if it’s hurting you. Your feelings matter most. But... Don’t do it through me. You have to look him in the eye and tell him you want to leave yourself.” Steal seemed to be absorbing this, if his solemn nod was anything to go by. Otto asked him if he’d like to go back to the apartment, but Steal kept his silence, perhaps because he was still going over some things in his head. Otto folded Steals letter up and placed it in the breast pocket of his coat, and opened the door to his car, inviting Steal to hop in. He did, and sunk into the passenger seat, a contemplative expression reflecting from the window. “... Come on,” Otto said, starting the engine to further help break the quiet, “Let’s atleast get some breakfast while we’re up.” -------------- Yusai woke up, dizzy and groggy. He rubbed his hand along his jaw, which ached dully. He brought the same hand to the base of his neck and swallowed, feeling a burning soreness there. He must be sick, he thought, and turned over on his side to get comfortable. He was immediately surprised to see Prince fairly up close, his golden eyes half-lidded at first, then widening when Yusai turned over. He sprung up on his feet and scuttled off the bed in a hurry. It was quiet. Unusually so. Yusai couldn’t help but notice the empty spot on the far end of his bed where Steal had slept, and wondered if he was already up and wandering around the apartment. He called out for Steal, but his voice was weak and hoarse. He tried again, his voice cracking this time, but there was no answer. Strange. Where could Steal be if he wasn’t here, Yusai wondered. Turning over again toward the edge of his bed where his nightstand was, Yusai reached for his phone and tapped it awake to see if there had been any phone calls or messages from Steal. Nothing but the time showed up on his screen: 7:45AM. Only 5 hours of sleep... Yusai mused to himself, chocking some of his physical state up to how little sleep he had gotten. Still, an increasing sense of unease was forming in the pit of Yusai’s gut. Where had Steal gone? Yusai tried to assure himself with some sensible scenarios that Steal had likely stepped out to grab something that they didn’t have in the kitchen, or maybe he was taking a walk... But then those scenarios twisted into worry. What if Steal had stepped out to grab something to eat, but was mugged along the way? What if he had stepped out to take an early-morning walk, but was hit by a car? It was amazing how each little thing Yusai could think of would twist into something entirely different and by the end of it all, Yusai was now simply worried and feeling worse for wear. Just as Yusai had started up, he heard the door to the apartment open, heard a murmur of voices, and then the door closed, and footsteps approached the bedroom. Yusai was very relieved to see a cold-chapped Steal saunter in. “Oi... G’mornin’,” Yusai rasped, relaxing back into bed. “Where’d you go?” Steal plucked the fingers of his gloves, pulled them off his hands, and tucked them into his coat pocket. He quietly mentioned that he had gone out and had some breakfast with Otto. The news, while nothing especially major, was a little surprising for Yusai to hear. “Oh?” He wanted to embellish on the thought but his voice hurt too much to keep talking. Steal, peeling off his charcoal-gray coat, looked pitiably at Yusai and simply nodded at him. “Yeah, we just... Got breakfast and... Hung out a little bit.” Steal explained, abiet vaguely. He set his coat aside and—hesitantly?--came to crawl onto the bed, although keeping a bizarre distance. He said that Yusai sounded awful, to which Yusai hacked in agreement. “Sorry,” He apologized. “I feel as awful as I sound.” He turned his head and looked up at Steal, who was laying on his side and looking at Yusai, his big, blue eyes shimmering and his eyebrows forming a gentle crease. What was this look? Steal then reached over and placed his hand on Yusai’s forehead, and when he lifted it away, he brushed some of Yusai’s short, stray hairs from his face. His fingers lingered a little, then he withdrew. He gently mentioned Yusai had a fever, which the bartender found unsurprising. “I’ll go fix up some tea and honey.” Steal said, and sitting up, made way for the kitchen. Yusai moved to sit up and just caught the last moving glimpse of Steal’s back and his pert little bum exiting the bedroom. He stirred involuntarily, which with dawning horror, he realized what he’d just done. Yusai groaned. Oh fuck. He could feel his mind begin to spiral. God, he couldn't do this again. He couldn't listen to his brain bleating at him like a broken record about what a sick freak he was. He couldn’t listen to his brain pestering him about a disgusting queer he was. He turned onto his stomach and brought the pillow he had been resting on over his head in a vain attempt to drown himself out. What was wrong with him? Why couldn’t he just shut up? Why did he feel like he was losing control of himself? It was like a parasite had entered his brain and was picking away in there, and its first symptom was madness. An obsessive madness. Still, he couldn’t help but remember how he had felt yesterday... He could still remember the video vividly, and even its fleeting thought made him salivate and squirm. He remembered the images, the sounds, how he had lost himself in it all entirely and let fly his release with such sweet intensity... He wanted to feel that way again. But, a large part of him was embarrassed and ashamed of that admission, and fiercely denied the desire. No, Yusai would never, ever repeat yesterdays little escapade no matter how much his memory tempted him. I’m not gay, he told himself. I’m not. He repeated it as many times as he could until he began to annoy himself... And run out of air from under the pillow. He unsheathed his head and squinted into the light streaming in through the window next to his bedside. Yusai still felt awful, his head a hot, aching mess and throat still incredibly raw. It was looking like a day he’d be spending indoors and getting rest. Blearly, Yusai wondered what Steal would be up to today. He called out to him weakly but not hearing a response (likely because Steal didn’t hear him) Yusai stiffly sat up and hobbled out of bed, stepping uneasily out into the livingroom to see Steal filling a kettle across the kitchen island in the sink. “Oi, Steal...” Yusai beckoned, only now noticing a strange, crestfallen look on Steals face. His initial question interrupted by this, Yusai asked instead, “.. ‘Somethin’ wrong?” Steal ran a hand through his short, silvery strands and his face twisted in momentary anguish, but with a deep inhale, Steal suddenly composed himself, saying that everything was fine. Of course Yusai didn’t believe him for a minute, but he was having trouble processing things and was in a state of his own. He didn’t know if he should push for more information, or if Steal was even willing to talk about it. It seemed like lately, he was withdrawing. And as much as it bothered Yusai, he was one to talk: he couldn’t remember the last time he had talked to Steal about the things that were troubling him. He’d certainly never talk to Steal about the biggest thing currently troubling him right now, even if Steal was the only one who’d understand. Yusai still extended the invitation to talk about it, if Steal wanted, and for once Steal didn’t accept the invitation with the usual meek humility he normally would, but instead hummed noncomitaly. Or hopelessly? ** At that moment, through lack of better jugement and diregard for boundaries, Lance fired a text to Steal. It was simple and indifferent, but he wanted to reach out to him just the same, if maybe for the last time. Steal—I’m very sorry for yesterday. I hope you’re feeling better today. Please take care of yourself. He wanted to say more—desperately—but he knew that he had over-stepped with Steal yesterday, and, still feeling like dog with its tail between its legs, he didn’t want to risk putting him off anymore than he felt he already had. Lance glumly tucked his phone into his pocket and headed for his booth at the salon, resigned to work for the rest of the day.
  17. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    ((IM SORRY IM SORRY i gotta revise, i didnt see your edit))
  18. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    Lance watched Steal wordlessly crumble to the ground, shaking with a bizarre mirth that he thought was an odd response to his prior apology. Was he laughing at him? His stomach twisted and he felt his cheeks flare with heat. This was just humiliating now. He was about to walk off without another word until he heard hiccups and sniffling coming out of Steal. Lance wasn't entirely sure of what it was he was witnessing, but his gut twisted with a new feeling, which was alarm. "Steal... What's wrong...?" Lance asked cautiously, keeping an arms length distance in fear that he was the cause of Steal's distress. "Look, I really didn't know, and I'm *sorry*. I didn't know this would turn out to be such a mess, I--" he had to pause as he was suddenly very aware that there was a small crowd starting to gather, concerned and talking among themselves about what they were witnessing. Steal had lifted his face from his knees, and Lance saw that any color he had in his cheeks was replaced by a pale, pasty complexion. He looked sickly. He was gasping for air like he was choking for breath. Lance knew then that whatever it was that was wrong with Steal, it wasn't just on account of their lousy date, but something more. Maybe he was a diabetic or was suffering from low blood sugar, or *something*. He tried to get an answer out of Steal, but he was more or less incoherent. He then shakily handed Lance his phone, half mumbling, half groaning to call someone. Lance took his phone and looked through Steals (extremely scarse) contacts list. All names, no connections, he had no idea who was whom but without thinking about it, Lance dialed the first person he saw on Steals most recently contacted list and waited for a response. ------- Yusai had been aimlessly wandering around and trying his best to absorb the sights and sounds the west end of Brooklyn had to offer in an effort to deafen the thoughts in his head a little. It had worked to some degree. The only real downfall to tuning his own brain out and walking around town was that he noticed just how crummy of an area he lived in. He pondered that sometime in the near future, maybe he would move closer to Manhattan, just for a change in scenery. There was only so much of his surroundings that he could absorb before the annoying thoughts from earlier started to pipe up again. They were especially prominent whenever he happened to catch the eye of a male stranger passing by. He’d notice the length of their hair, the jut of their jaw, the color of their eyes... Hover on a bodily detail for just a little too long and now he was hyper aware of it, and every time he caught himself doing it, a voice inside him whispered at him, “Gay.” He was beginning to feel disheartened and agitated the more he continued walking, and Yusai was beginning to wonder if maybe he was developing a sudden onset mental illness of some kind. He didn’t have long to mull on these thoughts however, as the phone in his pocket began to vibrate. Thank God, a distraction. He hurriedly answered the phone without paying mind to the caller ID. “’Lo?” Yusai answered. “Are you a friend of Steals?” A strange but familiar voice on the receiver asked. “Oi—who’s this?” Yusai asked in return, a small knot in the pit of his stomach forming. This conversation didn’t sound good. Whoever Yusai was talking to sounded like he was out of breath and alarmed. “Don’t worry about that, can you come and grab Steal? He’s having a panic attack, or something. Does he take medicine?” “No, he doesn’t,” Yusai said firmly. “Where is he? I’ll be there right quick.” Lance relayed their location and Yusai began jogging down the sidewalk, forging the quickest path he could to the movie theater Steal was at. A panic attack, huh? Yusai could believe it. Steal had had more than a few in his time with Yusai and by now, he was fairly used to witnessing them and doing what he could to coax Steal out of one. He wondered briefly what could have set one off this time, as he had a vague idea of Steals triggers by now, but he didn’t keep that thought in mind for long. He just focused on getting there to help. Yusai didn’t have too far to go—only 4 and a half blocks from where he had been wandering—by the time he arrived at the movie theater, a small crowd had formed outside and he knew that Steal must’ve been the center of their attention. Brushing past a peculiar redhead who grumbled something unintelligible, Yusai cut through the remainder of the crowd and saw Steal balled up against a wall and... there was Lance, too, squatted in front of him, rubbing Steals forearms in an attempt to calm him down. “I’ll take it from here,” Yusai said breathlessly to catch Lance’s attention. Lance turned to look over his shoulder and his eyes widened in surprise. “Oh, it’s you,” He said, pushing himself up to stand. “I should’ve figured as much. I’m sorry for the vague phonecall, I just don’t know what’s going on--” “S’ fine, don’t worry about it.” Yusai stated, then kneeled in front of Steal who was largely unresponsive outside of his heavy and erradic breathing. Saying nothing, Yusai took one of Steals hands and pressed his palm against his own heaving chest. “Wanna breathe with me mate? Just nice and slow here,” Yusai said gently, and followed by demonstrating the breathing pattern he wanted Steal to follow; Slow and measured. It took a little bit of time but Steal started to mimic his breath. He weakly looked up from his knee’s and into Yusai’s eye, who had been watching him intently the whole time. “Oi, you’re doin’ good mate. Just keep it up with me,” They continued to breathe together until Yusai saw some color begin to return to Steal’s pallor. This was usually where the shaking began, and Steal was right on cue. Yusai shuffled a bit to sit beside Steal against the wall and reached one of his arms over Steals shoulder, placing his hand down and working it in a gentle circular motion. “Movie must’ve been pretty bad, eh?” Yusai joked lowly, smirking a little. He heard Steal huff quietly in response. A laugh? Good, he was on the right track. Yusai manuvered his hand along Steal’s upper back and kept rubbing until he was sure he was collecting himself. He knew what would be coming next after the shakes subsided. All the meanwhile, Lance stood by and watched curiously—and also a bit awkwardly—the sequence of events unfold before him, unsure if he even should be a witness to this but wanting to stick around and see for himself that Steal would be alright. Things were progressing alright so far, Steal was regaining color in his face and he didn’t look so desperate for breath. He couldn’t hear the soft, low things being said to Steal, but he saw faint hints of emotion lick the corners of Steal’s parted mouth and strained brows. He looked like he was coming back around. Even in this state, Lance couldn’t help but think Steal was adorable, but in a whole new way; His vounerability made him appear almost angellic. For a moment, Lance could swear he was looking at a statue. However, his reverie was broken in an instant when Yusai suddenly guided Steal’s head to the side, held is shoulders, and braced Steal while he puked on the sidewalk... And on Lance’s shoes. He was shocked for a second and backed away, wide-eyed and nose wrinkled. The angelic image he had of Steal was now tarnished with the image of him barfing all over his sneakers. ...He was still cute, though... Lance excused himself, and started quickly down the sidewalk to find the nearest shoe shop to ditch this pair of soggy footware. He didn’t notice the same redhead Steal had been talking to earlier fidgeting with a tablet while he talked curtly on the phone. And, by the time Yusai had gotten Steal wobbily to his feet to guide him back home, the man had dissapeared altogether. Whatever it was he had planned seemed to go up in smoke, much like his presence for the time being. In the meantime, Yusai and Steal walked back to the apartment slowly, not saying much outside of Yusai asking how Steal was feeling. The smaller man was trembling still but that was generally how he was after a panic attack. Yusai would lay him down in bed and fix him up some tea while his nerves calmed down, per the usual routine. Something about this occasion was distinctly off however, and that was aparent when Steal tried to slink his arm around Yusai’s waist—be it to brace himself better or for comfort—and Yusai shirked away, the sensation of Steal’s arm at first familiar and welcome, but then suddenly soured by that voice in his head telling him he was enjoying it a little too much, you faggot. His reaction must’ve been visceral enough, because even Steal seemed to hesitate and look up at Yusai with an expression he hadn’t seen before; He looked wounded, and confused. Yusai was silent, and he ruminated on this. His mind was suddenly a buzzing mess of thought all clammoring to make sense of one another. One side was trying to rationalize that this was how Steal always was and that being a point of comfort to him was absolutely fine and normal. The other side was the one putting up the “better” fight, screaming that if another man even touches you, it’s gay. And if you like it even a little, you’re a faggot—and Yusai was no faggot. There was a strange and distant memory suddenly bubbling to surface in the murky waters of Yusai’s brain... An after school sporting event... Bleachers... Jeering group of kids... Richard... He shook his head. Now was not the time to reminise about any of that. He had to say something now, something to dispel the uncomfortable air that had just formed between he and Steal. “Sorry, just... Me stomach hurts,” Yusai lied. “We’re almost home, anyhow. Think you can hold up then?” They continued to walk for a few more minutes up the familiar curb to Yusai’s apartment. Once there, they stepped inside and Steal retreated to the bathroom and started the shower. Meanwhile, Yusai busied himself fixing up a pot of tea, his head in another numb state, and him desperately hoping that by the next day, these alien thoughts and feelings he had would be gone.
  19. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    Lance sat alone in the movie theater for a minute, face in his palms after witnessing Steal get up and leave. He could only guess why, and the answer was fairly obvious. Coming into the movie, Lance had a loose understanding of what the movie was about but had no idea how graphic and well, porny.. It would actually turn out, and although he found the sudden (and a little cheesy) turn of events bizarre and humorous, he supposed by Steals reaction that he did not find it as laughable as he did. So he sat there with a growing sense of mortification, suspecting that this would probably be the "thing" that drove Steal away completely. He was stupid to have ever approached Steal in the first place, he thought. He was stupid to have thought that after his little gaff at the club when they were last together, that he should reach out again to see him. It was like everything he tried to do with Steal just turned upside-down somewhere along the line... He was so stupid... Getting up from his seat, Lance left the theater and headed outdoors, only to see that Steal was still outside pacing around. Lance froze where he was, unsure of what to do or say... If there was anything he could do or say. There was no real way he could approach Steal without looking like some sort of desperate creep, but at the same time, Steal looked genuinely discomforted. He didn't want Steal to leave this afternoon with any sour, bitter feelings. Swallowing his pride and resolve, Lance uttered "Hey," which made Steal stop and look at him in what Lance could only read as shock. He looked like he was about to bolt at any minute--he had to make an apology, and quick. "I'm sorry, I didn't know the movie would turn out like that," Lance said, rubbing his hand along his hot cheek. "I didn't mean for the afternoon to be like this." He went quiet, thinking of what he could say next, and words simply not coming. He wished he could turn time back and re-do everything from the moment he met Steal and onward, but of course he couldn't. He was happy to have met Steal after all, but he would never have guessed that just trying to get a date with the guy would be such a social disaster for him. Lance was not someone who considered himself particularly smooth or anything, but he had been on dates before, and landing them had been relatively simple. The dates were usually fun, non-descript, and at worse, dull, but with Steal... He was so smitten with him, Lance couldn't articulate why, but there was just something about him that he was attracted to and maybe that was playing into some subconscious part of his brain that decided fucking every imaginable thing up was the best course of action with Steal. Steal had no way of knowing that he was some kind of magnet for unbelievably stupid men, and here was another one standing before him, tongue-tied and unsure of himself. Lance could only dully hope that Steal could find it somewhere in his heart to forgive this incredible faux-pas... But he was afraid he had already used up all of Steal's graces. -------- Yusai was showered and clean, but he didn't feel that way. He stepped out of the tub with his mind in a numb place after repeated attempts to quiet the voice inside him that was whispering his prior sin at him over and over. Sin may not have been the word for it, but thats what it felt like in Yusai's mind. He jerked off to gay porn. He liked it so, so much more than he thought he could ever like porn. Masturbating had felt good. How he felt during it was unlike anything he had ever felt before. But... It was wrong. Not the act itself but what he had watched. How he had enjoyed it. How he wanted to feel that way again. Masturbating to gay porn was wrong. Being gay is wrong, he was telling himself, and every time he told himself this there was a distinct feeling in his gut like someone was wrapping their fist around his insides and clenching as hard as they could. He felt strange and sick. A smaller voice inside him pondered, what was wrong with being gay? Yusai didn't have a sensible answer to that, it was just something he had always known, or been taught. In Australia, it was fairly common to have someone screaming "Faggot!" at you if you were weird in any way, and it was usually followed up by getting chased down and sacked until you could barely walk. It wasn't that much different in the states, either. The simple lesson he took away from all of this was that being gay not something he grew up thinking was okay, and that influence didn't just come from his peers or parental figures (although they never elluded to being anti-gay in the slightest), it also came from the religion he was brought up on as well. However, he had abandoned religion long ago. He had grown up in a household that could loosely be called Christian and was fairly neutral to the dogma when he was little, but when Richard had died, he had left the ideals behind completely, finding its teachings and influence either unnecessary or at worst, reprehensible and hypocritical. Yusai couldn't place this discomfort on religion's shoulders, although admittedly, there was a very teeny part of him that wanted to. No, Yusai couldn't be gay. Not just because it was wrong in the vaguest of terms, but because he had girlfriends in the past. LOTS of them. Remembering this fact made the invisible fist in his gut loosen a little, and Yusai straightened himself up in front of the mirror and examined his features. Right, there was Alyssa from college, Tristan, Morgan, Crystal, Samantha, Molly, Rachel, Andrea, Pauline, Laura... Yusai failed to take into account that each relationship was as short as it was awkward and disastrous, each one ending with a woman storming out of his apartment, confused and dissatsfied by their boyfriend who never seemed to want to show them affection. Never wanted to be intimate, and never really seemed interested. Yusai remembered these relationships as short affairs with crazy women, the only sort of woman he seemed to attract. But still, they were women. Doing his best to shake the thought of his mind completely, Yusai repeated this to assure himself that there was no way he could possibly be gay. That was that. Throwing the towel he had around his shoulders into the laundry bin, Yusai dressed and preened himself into something presentable and exited the bathroom, and was immediately stunned to see the time on the wall clock. Two whole hours had passed since Steal had left. Just how long was that shower? Yusai looked down at his hands and saw his fingertips, pale and pruney. Holy hell. Sure needed a whole lot of time just to tell yourself you're not gay, the bastard part of his brain whispered to him, and Yusai reacted to the thought as if someone had said it into his ear. He shook his head violently and grunted. Enough, ENOUGH--I'm NOT gay! He yelled at himself, suddenly aware how mental he was beginning to sound in his head. This whole mess was just insanity in its own right. Jerking off to ONE video of gay porn did NOT mean he was gay. He had wanked to other things in the past before that included women and that absolutely, positively proved it without a shadow of a doubt, that he was gay. Not gay. NOT gay! Yusai put his hands to his temples as if trying to block out any further thoughts from entering his brain, which was now just a swirling, pulsing mess of jocular and belligerent pondering. God, he needed to do something to occupy his mind for a little while. He needed to get out of the apartment. He quickly retrieved his coat and hat from his closet, and left Prince with an open tin of food that he neglected to portion out properly. Coming home to a pile of half-digested cat food barf was the last of Yusai's concerns right now, and he hastily exited his apartment, walking down the street to anywhere that would keep him busy and shut his brain the hell up.
  20. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    The night was beginning to wrap up, and people were starting to trickle out of the club exhausted, drunk, or a combination of both. When the bouncer escorted the last batch of happy drunks outside to their taxi, the club doors were locked, and the employee’s inside tended to their final clean-up duties before gathering to leave. Yusai sighed as he slipped on his jacket, relieved that the night was over. He had felt strange and flustered for most of the night, but now that it was all over, all he could think about was getting home and crashing into bed. “Oi, Steal!” Yusai called out, pulling his keys out from his pants pocket, “Let’s kick, shall we?” Steal had approached Yusai from behind and placed his hands on Yusai’s back, letting him know he was there. The larger man turned and looked down, seeing Steal’s half-lidded eyes and lazy brow, and could immediately tell that he was exhausted, too. He barely looked able to stand upright. Swooping his arm over Steal, to which he reciprocated by wrapping his arms around Yusai’s waist, Yusai hollered a “Goodnight!” to the remaining employees, and was out the door, Steal in tow. Yusai escorted Steal to his car, opened the door and guided him into the front seat. It was childlike, really, but Yusai couldn’t help but find it slightly amusing how Steal immediately yawned and reclined in the seat. He took off his jacket and draped it over Steal, who hummed approvingly. “That tired, eh?” Yusai asked when he had situated himself in the drivers seat. “Thanks again for helping me out tonight. It was nice havin’ you around.” Steal hummed a reciprocation, saying it was no trouble. Yusai started the engine. “Did you hang out with Lance for long? I didn’t see him after you two finished your drinks,” Yusai asked, genuinely curious… Although a part of him was still glad to had seen him fuck off as early as he did. But Yusai tried to ignore that sentiment, and pushed it into the back of his mind. Steal was quiet for a moment, be it half because he was tired or because he was mulling over his response, but he simply said that they had just hung out and talked for a little bit, and that Lance had to leave for whatever reason that he never specified. There was no mention of the flirting, or the kiss, but there was a manner that Steal had explained their conversation that Yusai was subconsciously picking up on, and it made his gut pang with jealousy. He brushed those feelings aside, and drove in silence. Yusai pulled up to the familiar curb just outside his apartment complex and parked. He had to escort Steal out of the passenger seat, as he appeared to be too tired to walk upright on his own, and up the stoop, up the stairwell and to the apartment door. By the time they were actually inside, the full weight of exhaustion hit Yusai as well. He was quick to strip down to his skivs and slip between the bedsheets, Steal doing the same, and both of them soon embracing sleep. ---- Another week passed, and out of the blue, Steal expressed interest in going out for a little while. When Yusai had asked “Where to?” Steal had hesitantly explained that he was going to go out on his own for a little bit. He didn’t say where, of course. And for whatever reason, Yusai’s immediate suspicion was that he was going to go hang out with Lance. His suspicions were right, but he’d never know. Still, Yusai couldn’t help but accept Steal’s announcement with some bitterness. It wasn’t often that Steal and him were apart, and admittedly, Yusai had come to feel as though he could be the only person Steal should spend his time with. He caught himself in the middle of this thought and was taken aback by how possessive he sounded. It wasn’t as if he owned Steal or anything. But, still… His thoughts lingered for a while, caught between some instinctual territorial thing and the other half trying to assure himself that he was being stupid about this. Steal was his own person, after all. He was an adult. He could make decisions for himself. He could go wherever he wanted, whenever he pleased. And though Yusai didn’t know for sure if Steal was going to go spend time with Lance, it was still his decision to do so if he liked. Yusai, forcing himself to accept this, begrudgingly wished Steal a good time (a genuine sentiment) and to call if he needed anything. When Steal went to leave, he paused in the doorway, looking back at Yusai as if waiting for something—which Yusai, dim as ever, did not “get”—before exiting with a sigh, saying he’d be back by evening before Yusai left for work. It was immediately strange being alone in the apartment. There was a stillness in the air that Yusai found unsettling. Besides the occasional patter of Prince’s paws, the apartment was deathly quiet. Even more bizarrely, Yusai had lived on his own before and could remember being completely fine with it, and when Steal moved in, Yusai remembered how strange it felt to have company with him all the time… Initially. When did the dynamic change, he wondered? He looked down at the floor and saw Prince flopped over, licking his paws contentedly, unbothered by Steals absence. Such was the cruelty of cats, not giving a single shit who comes and who goes in their life, as long as their fed and sheltered. Yusai bent down and scooped him up, then flopped him over his own shoulder, despite his meowing protest. “Shush, you,” Yusai muttered, giving Prince long pet. “I’m gonna pet you, and you’re gonna like it.” Prince accepted this for a few minutes, then wriggled himself free and plonked back onto the floor, making way for the couch. Yusai stood alone there for what felt like an eternity before deciding he ought to do something with his time besides torture the cat. But what? It was one in the afternoon and he didn’t have work for a few more hours. He didn’t have anywhere to go—and frankly, didn’t want to go anywhere by himself—so he was left in an awkward state of not knowing what to do with himself. Then, a thought slithered into his brain that hadn’t been there for quite a long time. Something he almost forgot he could do by himself. Something he hadn’t considered doing since Steal moved in with him… Which when he thought about it, was a while ago. And it was sad to reflect on in its own pathetic way, knowing that he hadn’t done it in so long... And when he thought about that, Yusai started reflecting on his own miserable excuse for a sex life (which was non-existent) All in all, the further this thought crept into his mind, the more ashamed Yusai felt for even considering it. Nonetheless, it was there, and Yusai was a man after all. Even he had a hard time fighting off this particular call of nature once the idea had been planted in his head. He swallowed and quietly made his way into his bedroom, shutting the door behind him and eyeing his laptop he had on the desk. Even looking at it there made him feel a twinge of guilt. Something about this seemed so… Sleazy. Despite this, Yusai’s appetite for carnal pleasure was only growing, and he sat down at his desk and opened the laptop, powered it on, and after a moments hesitation, began browsing for things to satisfy his hunger. ~~~ He pulled up a folder of bookmarks he had set aside some time ago to “refresh” himself on the material. Thankfully, most of the links still worked. It wasn't long before Yusai was in a lather. But, it only seemed to go as far as a lather. In revisiting these video's, Yusai could remember why he had initially saved them for pleasurely reference, but, there was also something about them that just wasn't doing it. He liked to watch the women in these videos perform on the men. He liked how they played with the men's genitals, he liked watching the many ways in which they could get a guy to squirm and beg for climax. He liked watching their muscles twitch and their faces cinch and their eyes glaze over with lust.. And he liked those moments just before climax where every inch of the man tremmored, seized, paused, and then the release... It was hot. But, there was an element to these video's that Yusai found distracting. Something about how they would cut to weird shots of the womans crotch, or there were boring shots of her tits being bounced around, or she'd start drilling him and would make obnoxious noises took Yusai out of the mood. Still, he was hot and bothered and now had a need to release. He would just have to find the right video to satisfy that need, he thought, and so he began clicking around for new material. One title in a related videos tag came up that caught Yusai's eye--”Bar man beats bar”--and thinking it kind of comical, he clicked on it, wondering what it could possibly be. The video started out innocuously enough. A man in clothing that looked a smidge too snug for his muscles was cleaning the counter of an empty bar, when three other gentlemen stepped in; One was tall and lean, the other similar in stature but had very pronounced facial features, and the third one a smaller man that looked about half the age of everyone in the room. The tall and lean man was wearing all leather, the similar looking one in jeans and a vest, and the smaller one in clothing that hugged and revealed parts of his body that Yusai couldn't help but notice with some interest. His cheeks felt a little flushed. The three approached the bar and sat down, immediately making their drink orders. The bartender placed his hands on the counter, his chest bulging enough to make the hem of his shirt that was tucked into his pants pop out and reveal a slither of his belly, and said that the bar wasn't open yet, and that they should come by later. The men eyed each other, then eyed the man, looking him up and down salaciously in a way that Yusai couldn't help but notice. “Come on big guy, just give us something,” the leather-clad man crooned, licking his lips. “Yeah, anything...” the other man chimed in, running his hand through his black hair. The smallest of the three stood up, swaying his hips and meeting the bartenders posture. The camera circled around behind him, and Yusai couldn't help but take a good look at his ass. His snug, tight pants hugged every crook and buldge there. Yusai swallowed thickly, his interest piqued but a part of him telling him that this was wrong. The bartender, examining the smaller man and after a moments speculation, shook his head, saying firmly, “No. I ain't open. Now get out.” The smaller man smiled wickedly, as did the other two men who exchanged glances again, then stood up. They circled around the the bar and approached the tender behind the counter, who aggressively asked them what they thought they were doing. “Just getting something to drink...” one of the men said, and made a grab for the bartenders arm. The leather-clad one did the same, and there was a brief, mock struggle resulting in the two men pinning the bartenders arms behind him. His chest was practically bursting from his shirt. Yusai could see his pecs twitch a little and he brushed his fingers along the tip of his cock, enticed. There were some more exchanges of words, but most of the dialog was unimportant by now; The smaller man had mysteriously brandished a pair of scissors and had started to cut the shirt off the bartender, running his free hand up and along his muscles and then dipping down to the waist of his pants. The camera took focus to his hands exploring the bartenders buldge, which was only growing more and more firm. Yusai felt prickly along the back of his neck and on his shoulders and down the length of his back; Oh fuck, this was wrong, wasn't it? But it was like he was paralyzed. He couldn't stop watching. The bartender made some vague threat about calling the police to which the other men responded with laughter. The smaller man unbuttoned and unzipped the bartenders pants and slipped his hand down the front, rubbing and fondling his cock until his bulge was practically popping out on its own. The bartender moaned. Yusai felt himself harden in response and, whether it was conscious of it or not, he began to stroke his own dick as he watched. As the video progressed, Yusai watched as the smaller man stroked the bartender through the cotton of his underwear, fondling him until he was hissing for release. Yusai saw a small spot begin to darken in the bartenders briefs, and Yusai squirmed, unable to control himself. He was so turned on right now and every minute he watched was driving him wild. More began to unfold on screen: The two men who had the bartenders arms pinned behind his back each took a hand and pulled the briefs of the bartender down, exposing his erection, which was rather thick, hard, and throbbing to release already. The smaller man crooned, commenting on his girth before taking a playful stroke or two that the bartender protested against, although he did nothing to resist. If anything, the smaller mans jocularity seemed to turn the bartender on more, as the tip of his cock sheened over with pre. By now, Yusai was beginning to feel desperate for release himself, so he watched anxiously, though he was still struggling to come to grips with what he was watching. He knew that by now, he should’ve turned the video off and walked away, or at the very least, backed out and found some other wank material… But, he was so fucking hot right now, he couldn’t just stop… The two men then lifted the bartender up onto the counter and laid him on his back. One man pinned his arms up above his head while the other pulled the remaining cloth of his shirt away, taking some time to tweek his nipples a little. The smaller man pulled the bartenders pants down around his thighs, then went back up for the waist of his underwear and shirked them down some more. He kissed and licked the crooks and twitching muscles along the bartenders thighs, deliberately avoiding his genitals, but his hand took a firm hold at the base of the bartenders cock and with his other hand, fondled his balls. He commented that he felt full, and said he had every intention of sucking him dry. The bartender protested against this, threatening the men again. They simply told him to shut up and then slapped his chest, following it up with a rub. The bartender hissed again, but his hiss soon turned into a whooshing intake of breath as the smaller man, after a few pumps of the bartender’s cock, dipped his chin down and took his length into his mouth. Yusai’s whole body lurched, slightly but powerfully enough, and in a way that it had never done before when he watched porn. He was stroking himself at a quicker pace, both of his hands working his genitals--one at his cock and the other fluffing and caressing his balls--whatever inhibitions he had about continuing to watch had been completely disregarded, as he was now in a state of complete lust. Yusai watched the smaller man suck the bartenders cock at an erratic pace. Sometimes he’d go in steadily and keep a good rhythm, then decide to go in long and low. Each time he did this, the bartender released a shuddering moan, his eyes rolled up into their sockets, and his whole body trembled. This went on for a little while until the two other men got their own hands involved, going for his nipples again each time the smaller man went for his low, slow suck, and the bartender threw his head back, his whole body splayed and shivering with lust. Then there was that moment where his body seized, and Yusai watched intently as the bartender moaned and bit his lip, stifiling his cry as he spit, and the smaller man moaned too as he came up on the suck, his lips dripping with a thin stream of the bartenders spent fluids. It was here that Yusai couldn’t control himself, everything came rushing in at once; his whole body seized, he lurched forward, his hands working in small movements to bring about his release which was spilling out of him so, so hard. It was unlike anything he had ever felt before. He hadn’t realized his mouth had been agape until he felt a small droplet of warmth there, and he looked down at his spent erection with a strange sense of awe as he was still reeling. Holy shit, there was so much cum. More than he thought possible for himself. Everything south of his navel tingled and throbbed dully, but still pleasurably… Physically, Yusai felt good. Wonderful. He had never been so turned on before in his life. But, he sat there reeling for another reason, and that was because for the first time ever, he had come the hardest he ever had… To gay porn. There was no denying what he had watched--what was still playing, and Yusai quickly turned it off--and no other way to justify it to himself: it was gay porn through and through. He was in a strange state of shock, still trembling with pleasure but simultaneously mortified. He didn’t know it then, but a seed had been planted in him then that was rapidly taking root and beginning to flower. Outwardly, however, Yusai was just going to disregard this little incident, as it didn’t prove anything other than that he… He liked porn. Really… Well shot porn, he told himself. He wasn’t gay, he told himself, sitting up to stand and finding that his knees were weak and trembling. Fuck, that orgasm had hit him hard. He wanted to lie down and sleep for a little while (and forget about all this) but he had made himself a mess and a shower was in order first. A nice cold one, he told himself, thinking that maybe the shock of the cold would somehow ward off the thoughts circling in his head. He shamefully shuffled to the bathroom, his pants still half around his thighs with one hand cradling his crown and jewels, and turned on the faucet for the shower. Peeling off his clothing, Yusai stepped into the tub and stood there for a while letting the water run over his body, his mind in a strange, staticy place where all he could think about was the fact that he had just watched gay porn… And had enjoyed it.
  21. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    “Sorry,” Lance apologized once he and Steal had retreated to another corner of the room. “It’s hard to talk so close to the booth.” Lance brushed aside some loose strands of his black hair away from his flushed cheeks, and gave Steal a look-over as subtly as he could. He knew he had seen him earlier that morning when he had gotten his haircut, but boy, he looked just as cute as he remembered. He hoped he wasn’t being too aggressive with his looks, but the way Steal seemed to shy away from his eyes—also adorable—made Lance pause and stammer another apology. “I’m sorry! I don’t mean to keep staring… It’s just, you are really cute,” Lance said sheepishly, his eyes now staring down at his feet. He felt unable to meet Steal’s gaze, fearful he might be coming on a little too strong for someone who was essentially a stranger. Steal responded, sounding stunned, or surprised, as if this was the first of this sort of conversation he had ever held. Lance couldn’t believe it, if that was true. He imagined Steal must be surrounded by adoring company all the time, people who were as encapsulated by his humble brand of charm that was only accentuated by his gentle demeanor as Lance himself was. God, and he had only met Steal today, he had to keep reminding himself of that to pull himself down from the cloud 9 he was all too quick to scramble toward. Lance realized he had started staring again, and his cheeks were starting to hurt from smiling. Crap, he had to make conversation to deter from the fact that he had been gawking like an idiot. Lance sprung to the first thing he could think of conversationally: “You’re a pretty good dancer,” He said, tucking his hands into his pockets, “Do you come here often? I’m sure I would’ve seen you before if you do… You’d be hard to miss.” Damn it, there he went again, coming on too strongly. He was lying, too, as this was his first time ever coming to the club after having badgered one of his coworkers for more information about Steal… But Steal didn’t have to know that. He looked at the blush rapidly creeping over Steal’s face and Lance couldn’t help but chuckle, if only because his other reaction would’ve been to have his heart beat out of his mouth. It felt like it was doing that, anyway. He had to calm himself down before he scared Steal off completely. Reaching for Steal’s hand, he said, “Let’s go over to the bar and get something to drink while we talk. I’ll buy.” With that, he gently wrapped his fingers around Steal’s hand and lead the way to the bar counter. Yusai had his back turned to the crowd as he was pulling out some ice from the cooler. He had just put some empty glasses aside and was in the process of filling them with said ice when he happened to turn around in time to see two familiar faces cutting through the crowd to find seats at the bar. It was Steal, and… The guy who had cut his hair earlier? What was he doing here, Yusai wondered, hackles rising. “Oh, hey! It’s you!” Lance exclaimed, surprised to see one of his clients behind the bar. He was a little puzzled himself as well—He was sure Steal had mentioned that he and this guy weren’t together, but what were the odds that they’d be together in the same place? He briefly wondered what their relationship was, exactly, if they weren’t lovers… And they certainly didn’t look related. And judging by Steal’s drink order, he wasn’t of age so it couldn’t be that he worked here… Yusai’s mind was similarly racing with thoughts, and none of them made sense. He kept circling around what this guy was doing here, circling around the way he and Steal had talked earlier, circling around Steals demeanor now, which seemed to him like he was… Yusai didn’t know. But he certainly never acted this way around him. He was so bothered by it, and he didn’t know why, and that upset Yusai more because it was like he was watching a stranger taking control of his mind. He didn’t realize it, but he was fighting with himself. He hadn’t ever felt jealousy before, and it was a completely alien concept to him until today. But Yusai kept his mouth shut, only opening it to return Lance’s pleasantry, and to ask Steal how his night was going. Steal appeared to be in better spirits. He was smiling and his cheeks were flushed. He looked happy, Yusai observed. Happy in a way that Yusai couldn’t recall seeing before. Lance, remembering his manners, introduced himself properly to Yusai, reaching out his hand for a shake, which Yusai took. Yusai tried to pass himself off as indifferent and non-chalant about the exchange, but his handshake was firm, and one of Lance’s eyes squinted slightly. A small part of Yusai was a little proud of himself there, feeling as if it “won” something. “You ever been here before?” Yusai a sked, trying his best to be conversational. Lance nodded and took a sip from his own drink. “Yeah, a couple of times on the weekends…” he replied, unaware he was being scrutinized by the larger man. “Although it’s funny, I didn’t know you worked here. What a funny coincidence!” Yusai just grunted non-comittaly, something in his gut telling him he was being fed a crock of shit, but he wasn’t sure that he should call attention to it. Eyeing Steal, who was looking back at him in a sort of desponent manner, Yusai wasn’t so sure he should continue talking at all. He didn’t want to upset Steal, and it sure seemed like he was beginning to in some way. Yusai resigned himself back to his work, saying, “Oi, right, well. Speakin of work, I better get back to it.” And left it at that. He busied himself at the other end of the bar tending to other customers, leaving Steal and Lance to their privacy. “… He’s kind of an intense guy,” Lance said quietly, and rubbing the divot of his palm where Yusai had crunched it a little. “So tell me, is he like your dad or something?” he asked as a joke knowing what the answer would likely be, but Steal’s answer still amused him. “I mean, he seems awfully protective of you. He’s only got one eye but I could feel it piercing right through me,” Lance mocked a knife being shirked into his own eyesocket, recoiling in mock pain. “..Like that,” he finished, turning to Steal and smiling. “I’m sure he’s a good guy though. You hang out with him, so he must be,” Lance said, giving Steal a very earnest look then. God, every time he looked at him he found another thing that made his heart skip a beat. Lance took another swig from his drink, hoping that the alcohol would kick in soon and level out his elation, because if he wasn’t careful, he was sure he’d say something stupendously corny or embarrassing and end up creeping Steal out. He wasn’t so sure he hadn’t already. “So… You want to tell me a little bit about yourself? You go to college around here, or something…” Lance tried to edge the conversation over to Steal and let him talk for a while, hoping that by then, he’d know more about this guy that had him so smitten. ** Meanwhile, at the other end of the bar, Yusai was stewing. He was working, but in a manner unlike his usual self. During another intermission of his set, Otto came over to join Yusai in spirits and conversation. “Hey, gimme some water and tell me what’s up. You’ve got ‘salty’ written all over your face.” Otto commanded as he took a seat. Yusai quickly slipped a glass of water into Otto’s palms and grunted. “Nothing is up,” Yusai muttered, lying. Everything was up, but he couldn’t articulate what. “Bullshit, you grouse. Is it the music? Stop being a pussy and suck it up.” “That’s only part of it,” Yusai admitted, his tone lightening up a little. “Well, what’s the rest of it then? And where’s Steal at? The little bastard’s supposed to be my free labor tonight.” Yusai tossed his head toward his shoulder, ushering Otto’s attention behind him. “He’s over there, talking to Lance.” Otto’s eyebrows raised and his mouth cinched. “Who the fuck is Lance?” He asked, peering beyond Yusai’s shoulder and catching a glimpse of the guy. He and Steal were chatting, looking quite happy. “Well, he’s the one who cut my hair…” Yusai said, his voice lowering to a meek tone after reminding himself of his appearance, and how self-conscious he was of it now. “Oh, you look fine, you big baby,” Otto groaned, and leaned forward to slap Yusai upside the head. They had a short-lived scuff that ended with Yusai giving Otto a firm nipple pinch, which caused Otto to yelp and resign from the tussle. He rubbed at his pec, out of breath and amused. “Is that all? He’s just your hairdresser?” “I ‘spose,” Yusai said, unsure what else he could say on the subject. Just admitting the former, he felt like a moron. Lance was just the guy who cut his hair that morning. To him, he was a perfect stranger. A perfect stranger trying to take your best friend away from you, His instinct was telling him. Otto stepped away from the conversation looking perplexed, telling Yusai to not worry about it and to keep himself busy. Yusai simply nodded, returning to his duties again, glaring over his shoulder one more time to catch a quick look at Steal, who he couldn’t help but feel like he had just missed seeing something, if the peculiar look on Steals face was any indication. But to his relief, he didn’t see Lance anywhere in sight. He must’ve left for the night. Had he turned to look back a few seconds earlier, he would’ve seen Lance steal a quick peck on Steal’s lips, then dash off for the night. Yusai would also never know the mix of elation and fright and shame Lance had running through his head, in sheer disbelief of himself for doing something like that only hours after having met the guy.
  22. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    Steal spoke about his parents and their intentions in a defeated manner, as if he had already resigned himself to being taken away. Yusai’s stomach surged as he mulled over the possibility that Steal leaving, and he stepped forward and placed his hand on Steal’s shoulder. “Oi, why don’t you just come down to the club with me tonight? You can help me tend the bar, and that way I can keep an eye on you and make sure nobody tries to take you away?” He hoped Steal would accept the proposition. Besides, it would be nice to have his company for the work night anyhow. The sullen expression on Steals face did not convince Yusai that he had proposed the right idea, but, Steal hesitantly accepted it regardless. Yusai assured him that everything would be fine, and that if Steal got bored helping him at the bar, he could play something on stage there, if he wanted. The crowd the club drew in was mostly regular customers, and by now, they were used to Steal making occasional appearances on stage so he could perform a piece or two. He would be welcome. *** They arrived at the club that night, and were welcomed by Otto and a few other staff members as well. After the typical “Welcome back” pleasantries and inquiries about the status of their injuries, Yusai and Steal got to work. The club was fairly busy. The dance floor was already packed with people bobbing to some non-descript electro-funk number Otto was playing that Yusai had not missed in his absence from work. Of the ten booth tables they had in the room, six of them were occupied with guests chatting away, taking pictures on their phones, and engaging in other forms of drunk duebatchery that was natural to the club environment. Yusai and Steal sauntered over to the bar and started to work. It was weird; it had only been a week of absence but Yusai felt rusty getting back into the swing of things. He was distracted, and unfocused. He wasn’t engaging with the customers like he usually would. Vanity was getting in the way; he felt ugly and unapproachable and perhaps that was coming through in how he was conducting himself with people. At least he wasn’t screwing up drink orders, he thought to himself. Every now and then Yusai would look over his shoulder to see Steal cleaning up the rear bar area. He was quiet, his eyes soft and glazed. He looked distracted, too. When there was a pause in bar service, Yusai tapped Steal on his back and asked how he was doing. “Fine,” Steal replied quietly, with a sigh. He brought his fingers delicately through his short strands of silvery hair that had gotten tussled in his face, and tucked them aside. “You sure?” Yusai asked, putting both of his palms on Steals shoulders and staring down at him, trying to read his expression better. A whisper of a smile came across Steal’s lips, and he nodded. Yusai returned his nod with a grin of his own. “Well, alright then… Oi, thanks for helping out tonight. It’s nice having someone actually doing some work back here,” Yusai mentioned, and shot a glare at the other bartender working on the other half of the counter; She shot him the stink-eye, and there was a pregnant pause where they glared at each other until she crumbled into laughter, saying to Yusai “Asshole,” then resumed her work. Yusai turned away, focusing on Steal again. “Here, Steal, why don’t you take a break from drying glasses and come have a drink?” Yusai offered, and was already fixing up something for the younger man. He heard Steal ask if it was an alcoholic drink, to which Yusai promptly replied, “Are you kidding? You’re not 21 yet. Don’t worry, I plan to get you fair stonkered on your birthday, but for now, have this—“ He turned and handed Steal an orange drink, marbled with a red syrup. Steal took it into his hands and gave it a little sip, the top of his lip coming up with a thin sheen of froth. “You can take a load off and hang with Otto… I think he’s taking a break from his set. He’ll probably let you play something, if you want.” Yusai looked up at Steal, who appeared to be contemplating his options. It looked like Yusai would have to make the decision for him, and he swooped his arm around the small of Steal’s back and twirled him out from behind the bar counter, ushering him toward Otto with a spank. “If you’re not gonna play, atleast tell Otto to play something less shit!” Yusai yelped to Steal, who was making his way through the crowd and to the stage. He smiled to himself and resumed prepping some items behind the bar, since now that the planned music had died down, people would be approaching the counter with parched mouths. And, they did. Yusai and his coworker were quickly bogged down with orders. It was here that Yusai started to regain his sense of focus, since he had nothing to distract him. At least, for a little while he didn’t. Otto had made an announcement that the music would be resuming and called for “Everyone to get on the dance floor”, and like sheep, they herded around his booth. Yusai looked up and saw Steal behind the DJ stand with Otto, who was smiling in an almost sadistic way, with Steal catching Yusai’s eye and giving him a pleading look as if to say “I had nothing to do with this”. Yusai sighed, knowing full well that whatever Otto had lined up would exist to torture Yusai’s ears. He looked away, going back to his work, but had to double-take, for his eye had caught something interesting. He looked up again, toward one of the more dimly-lit area’s of the club just outside the hallway that lead to the bathrooms to see two young men facing one another and leaning close to each other against the wall. They looked to be somewhere in their early, if not mid-twenties. From what Yusai could tell in this light (and with his one eye) the taller of the men had short, blond hair tussled about so it looked as though he had just woken up and hopped out of bed. He was wearing a simple plain t-shirt that hugged his muscles, one side of the shirt tucked into his jeans while the other half hung over his hip. The shorter man had dark hair, a tan complexion, and dark eyes. He sported a similar outfit, the difference being he had more accessories—a sterling necklace, leather wristband and watch—while the blonde was otherwise plain. It appeared that they were talking. Their faces were in very close proximity to one another’s but the music starting up must have been too loud for them to hear each other; The blonde had tilted his chin toward the shorter man’s ear, and was talking to him that way. His hand had come up and brushed some of the shorter man’s hair aside, his hands and fingers then trailing down behind his head, along the length of his neck, and in front to his chest. The shorter man lurched forward then, stopping short just as he was inches from the blonde’s face. The blonde had a grin creeping over his face, and his hands slithered down the shorter man’s torso. Yusai watched, curious, unaware he was staring and had slowed down his working pace significantly. A part of him knew what he was witnessing while another part of him felt that he should stop looking—it was making him feel funny, conflicted. The blonde’s arms wrapped around the small of the darker haired boy’s back, and the smaller one brought his hands up along the blonde one’s muscles, giving his biceps a little squeeze before finding the hem of the sleeve and giving them a firm tug. The blonde responded by bringing his own hands down lower, onto the smaller mans buttocks, and cupping his rear hard. The smaller mans eyes went wide for a second, his mouth agape, then he pulled the blonde toward him and planted a hard kiss on his lips. Their hands were suddenly exploring each other. The blonde’s hands ran up and down the smaller mans back, always coming down to his ass. The shorter man just rubbed his hands up the blonde’s biceps, to his shoulders, came down and around to his chest, and squeezed his pectorals. Their make-out session became progressively more and more heated, with Yusai last witnessing the blonde’s hands tuck themselves under the seat of the shorter mans pants, and grope so firmly that Yusai could see the imprints of his knuckles through the jeans. It was here that Yusai felt his face explode with warmth, his breath suddenly woosh out of him, and he could feel his heart beating wildly in his chest. He looked away, flustered and confused. He could hear blood rush in his ears. Yusai looked down at his hands, which were clenched around a beer glass and rag. They were trembling, and sweaty. He turned to place the glass with the other clean dishes on the shelf and noticed that his knee’s felt shaky and weak, too. All of him felt prickly and tingly at the same time. What brought this on, he wondered briefly, but wasn't allowed much time to dwell on it, as his focus was quickly broken by a customer ordering a drink. He tended to it absent-mindedly, his mind operating on two seperate forms of instinct, and one seemed to be screaming at him the most to have dominance. It was the part of him that wanted to relish in the physical feelings some more, but the part of him that knew where he was and the job he had to take care of was putting up a good fight as well. As a result, Yusai screwed up his first drink order ever in his career as a bartender... Much to the displeasure of the customer, who was already a little drunk and as a result, surly. She barked at Yusai to make another, and this time to “Not fuck it up”. Yusai's mood was immediately soured then, and all the good feelings he had just moments ago subsided. He made the woman another drink—correctly this time—and she sauntered off, leaving Yusai tipless, sour, and feeling like an idiot. He looked up again toward the bathroom entrance to see if the two men were still there, but discovered they had disappeared somewhere. For whatever reason, his gut sunk.
  23. BUG FIX

    I can't edit my posts on this site, even if I just posted a post seconds ago. Keep getting an error message saying that too much time has passed and the post cannot be edited. CONSIDER FIXING PLZ
  24. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    Steal had opted for the haircut, reluctantly it seemed. Yusai had asked him again to see if it was sure it was something he wanted to go through with, and Steal just nodded. They both entered the salon and were soon seated for their haircuts. Steal was off with a woman he had been receiving haircuts from for many years. Yusai had met her a handful of times before. She fussed with Steal for some time about cutting his hair before finally starting. Meanwhile, Yusai was serviced by a sharply dressed young man, somewhere around Steals age (if not a few years older). He was tall (but shorter than Yusai, who was the tallest in the room), had angular features, a boyish face, and dark brown almond-shaped eyes that much like Otto’s, gave an aura of mischeviousness. He introduced himself as Lance, and asked Yusai some questions about what he wanted to do with his hair. He ran his fingers along Yusai’s scalp in a way that made Yusai shudder. Half-distracted, Yusai said he just wanted it “cut short or whatever”, and pointed toward Steal for visual direction. Lance looked over at Steal and stole a few glances at the younger mans face in the styling mirror. He smiled approvingly, then turned back to Yusai, clapping his hands on Yusai’s shoulders and saying “Alright, you’re the boss!” He began cutting. The first snip was all it took for Yusai to feel like his guts had immediately sank to his feet. Oh God, what am I doing? He kept uttering over and over again with every snip. It was a bizarre reaction that Yusai himself hadn’t anticipated having. It was just hair, after all. But he was looking at himself in the mirror, and the shorter his hair got, the more self-conscious he became about his appearance. He hadn’t worn his hair short since he was a teenager. He felt like a fat, bloated stooge who had been thrown back in time to relive his teen years in an ugly adult body. Yusai didn’t fancy himself a vain man, but seeing himself this way, he felt like he was like looking at a complete stranger and he hated it. He was barely able to hold back whimpers and moans of agony as the final snippets of hair were cut from his head. Lance rubbed some styling product through his hair while Yusai reflected on this change. God, he was hideous. Yusai tried desperately to mask his blatant, obvious dislike for this look. He thanked Lance for his time with a sick sounding voice. If Lance was offended, he certainly didn’t act it, but he wasn’t oblivious; He could see Yusai’s discomfort and quietly apologized for the cut. Yusai just shook his head and assured Lance that the cut was fine, that he did a good job, but he was just having a hard time looking at himself this way. Lance had stepped back when Steal had approached Yusai’s side. Yusai looked down at the smaller man and was stunned by his new appearance. His hair was short along the sides but he had a manner of long fringe that looked a bit spunky. The shaven spot along his stitches was mostly covered up by the shorter strands that were tussled over the mark. He looked great. Steals haircut complimented him perfectly. “You look good.” Steal had said, wrapping his fingers around Yusai’s hand and giving a slight squeeze. Yusai looked down at him, a devastated look plastered on his face. He felt like Steal was just being kind for its own sake. “I look stupid,” Yusai muttered, taking his wounded hand and running it through his hair. The more he looked in the mirror at himself, the more he felt like an idiot. He shied away and gave Steal his full attention. “You look good. Short hair really works for you.” He patted along the short strands of Steals hair, playing with it a little. He thought he sensed some relief from the younger man, and realized that maybe Steal was feeling just as lousy about his cut as he himself was then. “… You wanna go down to the strip mall and get some hats?” Yusai had asked quietly, and with a laugh. He was half joking with the suggestion but in the back of his mind, he was considering it. Steal shook his head, seeming wary all a sudden and suggested they go somewhere a little more secluded. Home seemed like the best bet. So, they paid for their haircuts andwent to leave—but not before Lance suddenly approached and asked for Steals time for just a minute. Steal shot Yusai a funny look before he went to a corner to speak with Lance in private. Yusai returned Steal’s glance with a baffled look and shrug of his own, as if to say, “I dunno!” before he was off for a chat. The chat itself seemed brief. Lance's body language… Yusai was familiar with it, but his suspicions were thrown off because he was not used to seeing it used on another man before. Lance was looking at Steal in that way men look at objects of special interest; He was smiling, shifting his weight around nervously. Steal was slightly easier to read, but only barely. He looked surprised, and his cheeks were bright red. What Yusai wasn’t hearing was Lance telling Steal that he thought he was cute. One of the cutest guys to step into the salon since he had started working there. He apologized for being so forward and said he didn’t typically make it a point to put the moves on clients that walk in, but he just couldn’t stop himself and didn’t want Steal to leave without atleast knowing what he thought. He apologized for doing this in front of his boyfriend, too. But then Steal mentioned that they weren’t together that way, and Lance seemed surprised (and of course, relieved). For a second he looked worried and asked if Steal was gay, knowing full well how dangerous things could suddenly turn if he wasn’t, but Steal quietly admitted that he was and again, Lance was relieved. “Well, if you ever want to go out some time, maybe see a movie or something, you can call me.” Lance said, and quickly jotted down his number and handed it to Steal. He glanced over at Yusai, who was looking at them confused, but then shifted his eye away and pretended to be looking around the salon. Lance chuckled and broadened his shoulders a little, a surge of excitement suddenly coursing through his veins. He watched Steal and Yusai walk out of the salon together, catching Steal glancing over his shoulder and at him, and Lance gave him a little wave. He hoped Steal would take him up on his offer. -- Yusai was bristling while they walked back to the apartment. He felt strange. He had come out of the salon feeling ugly, humiliated, and now there was a new feeling tremoring inside him that he had never felt before. It was an electric sort of feeling, leaving him heated and his stomach full of butterflies. For some reason, he couldn’t stop thinking about Lance and the way he had been looking at Steal while they talked. He looked so… So… Yusai couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but he quelled with irritation just the same. And Steal! Steal had looked so surprised, and nervous, and shy, and interested. He’d never looked at Yusai like that. He bristled at that thought, too. He caught a glimpse of himself in a passing window, and saw that he was scowling. The scowl on top of his haircut made Yusai feel all the uglier. Without even thinking, Yusai had blurted out, “What was all that stuff about back there?”, only realizing his tone sounded far more aggressive than he intended after the fact. Steal’s pace faultered for a second and his face went pale. “S… Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound like that, I was just…” He trailed off, feeling very stupid now. “…Forget I asked. It’s none of my business.” Steal didn’t seem placated, and was silent for a bit while they continued to walk. They stopped at a crosswalk, and it was there that Steal gently asked what they were, exactly. “What do you mean?” Yusai asked back, unsure what Steals question was, exactly. Steal stammered for a moment as if searching for the right words, then asked, “Are we just roommates? Friends? Lov—“ Yusai was all too quick to answer before Steal could finish his question. “Aren’t we both?” he asked back, still confused as to what Steal was getting at. Did Steal think they were something else? Nothing else? The question didn’t sit well with him. Yusai was starting to feel like a rug was being pulled out from under his feet. Why was he even asking, anyway? “Why do you ask…?” Yusai inquired, pulling the hood of his jacket over his head as they passed by some people on the crosswalk. Steal didn’t answer—not audibly, anyway—and just shrugged. His brows were up-turned slightly and he wore what could unequivocally be called a ‘mona-lisa frown’. Yusai thought he saw Steal peer down at something in his hands before tucking it away in his pocket, and he bristled again. Yusai bit the inside of his cheek as they walked. Soon they were rounding the corner to the familiar stretch of road that lead to Yusai’s apartment complex. Not too far ahead, a sleek, black car was parked along the curb that looked far too fancy to be hanging out in this side of Brooklyn. Steal quickly made a move to Yusai’s other side, putting himself between Yusai’s right and the buildings, and ushered Yusai to walk faster. “Wha? How come? What’s going on?” But his questions didn’t receive an answer, for Steal was peeking very intently at the car as they walked by. Yusai looked over as well, seeing an older, stern-faced woman sitting beside a man with a shaven head, who was idely fingering through a newspaper on his lap. The woman’s steely blue eyes darted up and caught Yusai’s face, freezing Yusai in place for a brief moment where he instinctively raised a hand and gave a stiff wave, saying “G’day!” His pleasantries yielded a scoff from the woman, and the man reading his newspaper peered up briefly before resuming their place on the funnies section he was leafing through. Yusai continued walking, feeling awkward from the exchange, on top of everything else. What he didn’t see the woman peer at him again, but, he felt Steal’s pace quicken. By the time they were at the stoop to the apartment entryway, he was practically tripping over the younger man to get inside. “Oi, what was that about?” Yusai asked when they were inside. Steal peeled in front of him and went to the window, keeping some distance from it as he looked out. Steal said that the woman was his Mom, and with worry in his voice, said she and that security guard were out to get him. “What? But why?” Yusai realized he was asking a lot of questions and he wasn’t so sure he wanted answers, since a lot of the answers didn’t make much sense to him. And maybe Steal was getting fed-up with his inquiries, too; The younger man huffed, shooting Yusai an exasperated look. “Because they don’t want anybody to know that I exist!” Steal barked, his brows knotted and lips trembling. There was silence for a while, then Steal stammered to apologize. “It’s alright,” Yusai said gently, slowly approaching Steal. “They did a pretty lousy job hiding you away in the first place, and they’ll have an even worse time trying to put you away again. Don’t worry, I’m here, and I won’t let them take you.”
  25. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    (sorry to keep you waiting!) In the bedroom, Yusai was still sleeping soundly with Prince languidly spread across Yusai’s neck in a halfhazzard fashion that only cats were capable of. Yusai—and Prince—barely stirred when Steal had entered the room and had slipped onto the bed, and made an attempt to rouse him from his slumber. Steals touch had been gentle, yet firm on Yusai’s shoulder. When he trailed his fingers down the length of Yusai’s arm and stopped at his hand, a sheet of goosebumps rose along the path he drew. Yusai shifted a little and crooned, his eye cracking open for a split second before squeezing shut again. “Mmm, s’too early…” Yusai mumbled, taking a long, hitching breath that developed into a full-body stretch. Now sensing movement, Prince woke, wriggling onto his feet and giving his head a shake before slowly making his way over to Steals hand for petting. Yusai started to settle back into that cozy state of half-awake, where the warmth of sleep was still welcoming but the awareness of the world was somewhere mildly in his attention. Steal asked him some questions about their living situation, but Yusai couldn’t make sense of whether or not Steal was asking if he was a leased roommate or if Yusai and he were friends, or what was going on. Yusai groaned as if to ask “What?” and Steal started to repeat himself, but seemed to find the effort futile, and eventually settled into silence. Yusai lazily wondered if he had left. He shouldn’t. The bed was so comfortable and inviting. Steal should just come back and get some more sleep, he thought. He slowly, clumsily, lifted his arm and reached out to where he thought Steal was sitting, and finding his… Arm?... Yusai grabbed on and gave Steal a gentle tug forward, inviting him back to the mattress. “Sleep now… Talk later…” Yusai protested, wrapping his arm over Steal’s waist in an effort to “pin” him down, and also because he didn’t feel much like moving anymore and was comfortable. Steal seemed to relent, giving no arguments to the contrary of being held prisoner to the mattress. With the smell of lemongrass faintly taking over Yusai’s nose—the smell of Steal’s shampoo—Yusai drifted back to sleep. When he woke up an hour or so later, Steal was already up and quietly eating breakfast. Through a yawn, Yusai said “G’Mornin,” and paced slowly to the kitchen to fetch himself something to nibble on, and throw a pot of coffee together while he waited for it to brew. A few minutes later, he had hot toast lathered in butter and a steaming cup of black coffee at his disposal. He leaned on the counter that divided the kitchen from the livingroom and ate, staring blankly ahead, only dully aware of the silence. Steal looked pensive as he was finishing up his own breakfast, punctuated by the trembling way he settled his spoon into his bowl, and hesitated with it in his hands until he decided to get up and bring his affects to the sink. “Oi… Something the matter?” Yusai asked after swallowing a mouthful of coffee. Steal answered with just a shake of his head, but it didn’t convince Yusai otherwise that there wasn’t something on his mind. “Come on, what’s up?” Steal only bleakly mentioned a conversation he had earlier, but wouldn’t go into detail with whom… Or what about. He only gave vague details, and seemed troubled when Yusai gave him pleading looks for more information. Not wanting to agitate or upset Steal, Yusai just let the subject be, although there was a part of him that was frustrated and a little hurt that Steal didn’t seem to trust him enough to talk about what was going on. Of course, he was one to talk. ---- The next few days after their return from the hospital were a blur. The moment of Yusai’s week that stood out with any distinction was receiving a phone call from the haunted hotel crew, stating that if Yusai and Steal agreed to it, they would receive compensation for the mismanagement of the event. Having been in a similar position before with his eye, Yusai declined compensation until he knew all the legalties and rights he and Steal were entitled to…. It was a non-descript segue into an otherwise lazy recovery week. Yusai’s spirits had improved a little. He didn’t feel quite as heavy with the sense of misery he had come away from the event with, but there was a distinct lingering of sadness still on his shoulders and the uncomfortable reality he was trying to suppress was, it was November, and November was the month that his friend had died. He didn’t like that several years later, his friends death still had the ability to affect his mood this way. Although it wasn’t just Richard’s death that happened during the month—His father had a near-fatal brush with walking-pneumonia years back in November. He lost his eye in a bar fight in November six years ago. A few years back, Yusai had struck a stray dog with his car in November (not killing it thankfully, but it was still upsetting) An elderly neighbor he was friendly with had died just last November. It seemed like the month was tainted with heart-ache and misfortune. It was a month that he loathed and worried over. The masochist in him idlely wondered what sort of shit was on the horizon for this year. Meanwhile, Steal appeared to be in a world of his own since the whole hotel ordeal. Yusai guessed Steal was blaming himself for everything that had unfolded there, which was a way of thinking that Yusai tried to coax him out of, but to little effect it seemed. His whole manner was downtrodden, and at times, frightened. Steal was spending a lot of his time peering out the windows of the apartment as if looking for something, and Yusai’s inquiries yielded no satisfying answer as to what. He only got vague snippets of Steal’s worries—Something about his family, something about his father, something about being taken away--He decided he’d not bother him for information any further until Steal was ready to talk about whatever was going on in his mind. Still, it troubled Yusai to see Steal this way. He wished that Steal would talk to him more about the things that bothered him… …It was a hypocritical sentiment. Soon it was the weekend again, and Yusai’s weekly routine would be resuming by the end of it, regardless of his physical state. Besides being in a strange mood, he was otherwise physically fine. The ace-bandage and gauze wrap on his arm had been reduced to a large, rectangular band-aid, and the pain that had constantly seared up his forearm had been reduced to a dull searing pain that only occurred if he gripped too tight, or stretched his arms over his head. It still hurt of course, but it was a tolerable pain now at the very least. Steal’s wounded face had gone down in swelling, and the dark, purple bruise around his nose and eye sockets where Yusai had head-butted him were now a pink-green-yellow hue. He looked more like he was wearing odd make-up versus having been in a violent brawl, and if nothing else, Steal seemed a little relieved to be looking more like his old self. Speaking of… Saturday was the day Steal had approached Yusai, mentioning needing a haircut to better mask the stitches and shaven spot on the side of his head. Yusai asked him if that was something he was sure he wanted to do—remembering his own secret promise to do the same so Steal wouldn’t be alone in the endeavor—and Steal seemed unsure, then mentioned that maybe taking a walk down to the hair dresser’s might help him make up his mind. Yusai obliged. They were soon on their way with Yusai mulling over what he’d do with his own hair while they walked. He’d worn it at neck length for so long that he had a hard time picturing himself with short hair. He then looked down at Steal, who was close by his side. His hair was the color of storm clouds, silver, with traces of white; thick but wispy and often worn down the length of his shoulders. Yusai had a hard time picturing him with a different haircut, too, since he’d only ever known Steal when he looked like this. Still, the stitches were noticeable through his hair at the length that it was, and maybe he was becoming a little more self-conscious about it? Without even thinking about it, Yusai had put his hand on Steal’s head and was petting through his locks of hair. Steal had looked up at him, his blue eyes wide and curious, and Yusai paused, having only suddenly realized that maybe what he was doing was weird. “Sorry,” He apologized, a bashful smirk pulling at the corners of his mouth. “I was having some trouble picturing you with short hair.” He knew his explanation hardly explained the motive behind his compulsion, but honestly, he had no explanation for himself, either. He tucked his hands into his pocket and heard Steal sigh. They continued walking. Soon enough, they were at the hair dresser’s. Yusai and Steal stood outside and looked in through the windows. There were two rows of seats in front of vanities, only a few of them filled with hairdressers working on the clients inside. Yusai’s attention focused more on their reflections, particularly on Steal’s, since the decision to go through with a haircut remained in his hands. “…So,” Yusai uttered after a moment of them staring inside, “You wanna go through with it?”