Fucked Up Situation

We walked a few blocks to Bonnie’s little diner across from the AU building. I listened to his little tirade in his head. He was trying to make himself normal when all I could hear was the sadness in his head. The fucking depression and anxiety that was all encompassing. He was a fucking mess and there was nothing I could do, I only made it worse. This was a mistake. I should have let him walk out the door. But we were here I’d try to make the best of it. I took his hand in mine hoping to quell his thoughts, and offered. “Do you want me to stop reading you? Not that I think I can, but I could try.”

He shook his head. “No. But remember my thoughts are my own. If they bother you, you don’t have to read them.”

I nodded, that was a lot easier said than done, “Maybe I should just go, leave you to your thoughts.” There was no way I could stay out of his head, I didn’t even want to think about trying. It might be like him shielding, and I didn’t want to risk it anymore than he did.

Nox stopped and turned to me. There was so much sadness in his voice. “I don’t want you to go. I just don’t want you to get mad at me because my thoughts are a mess.” And so much anger as he turned and headed for the diner. “But you do what you want, obviously I’m selfish.”

He really wasn’t going to let that go was he? I grabbed his arm, “Fuck Nox. Can’t we just have breakfast without fighting.”

“I’d like to.” He pulled out of my grip and winked out harshly. It hurt when he disappeared like that. It was like someone had cut off my hand.

“You didn’t have to do that.”

“I did. You don’t want to see my selfish thoughts, so now you get to see what everyone else does.” There was no proprietary holding the door, he just walked in and let the door close behind him. I followed catching the door as it swung closed.

Bonnie greeted us, “Hey Nox. Alex.” She sounded surprised to see us both together.

I took my usual seat and Nox looked back at what I knew was his and he said nothing as he slid in across from me. One small win.

Bonnie came to our table and smiled,and started rattling off today’s specials. “Your usuals boys?” She asked.

Nox nodded and I looked at him before answering Bonnie, “Yes please.”

Bonnie took our orders and left us alone with a glass of water a peice. The tension between us was growing by the minute. I had to say something to break the silence, “You come here often?”

“I used to come here everyday when I was younger. It was an easy respite from the chaos that is the dorms so I could study without someone trying to make trouble.” He answered and countered with his own question. “How long you been coming here?”

He was going to love my answer, I gave him a half smile as I told him the truth, “For as long as I’ve been following you.”

“Oh.” Nox sounded unsure of himself. His curt answer bringing up more memories than either of cared for but I knew he wanted to talk, no needed to.

I started to tell him he could, “Nox…” But he cut me off.

“I don’t want to talk about it Alex. I don’t want to fight.” He changed the subject quickly, “Why do you have two apartments? I mean, do you rent them both, or have you lived in New York long?”

“I told you one’s a business one.” We’d gone over this already.

“Right, but why don’t you just have one? Seems like a lot of wasted money to me.” He said.

“I have money to waste. But I only pay for one, the other is bought and paid for. I haven’t been in New York long. Only since December.”

“And you already bought a house? Must really like it here.” He was asking more questions than I liked about things I’d rather not talk about.

And I spoke without thinking, “Actually I hate this city.”

His frown spoke volumes but I wished I could hear inside his head as he spoke. “I’m sorry.” I could imagine the self doubt and hatred

And yet my big mouth kept making it worse, “I’d say it’s not your fault, but it’s part of the reason.”

“And the other part?” he asked.

Bonnie brought us our coffee and set down a pot for us to refill with at need. “Your food will be ready soon darlings.”

“Thank you Bonnie.” I said as I watched her leave us alone to fight. “Uh. A woman I was seeing died here.” I was so done with this conversation. I didn’t want to talk to him about her again. I’d spilled my guts to him once and look where it got me.

“I’m sorry. Were you close?” He asked.

“What’s will all the questions, Nox?” I was not sorry I was rude.

“You say I never ask, so I’m asking.” And just like that we were back to where we were.

I should have said nothing, but my own bitterness took over, “Shit! Well don’t, Nox. I don’t want to talk about me.” I never wanted to talk about me. It wasn’t my thing. He wanted to talk about me because he didn’t want to think what, he was selfish?

Nox nodded, “Which is why I never asked.” He knew me better than I knew myself. How the fuck did he do that. He didn’t remember shit about me, about us. And he knew I didn’t want to talk about me. He knew my birthday. He knew my fucking name. This was a fucking disaster. And it only got worse as Nox stood up and dropped cash from his wallet on to the table.”We’ll try this again some other time. Enjoy breakfast. I’ll call you later.” He said as he walked out the door. I watched him get to the edge of the sidewalk and then he was just gone. Gone from my head, my sight like he never fucking existed.

I couldn’t stay here. But I wasn’t going to let good food go to waste. There was more than enough money on the table to pay for our meals. I waited for Bonnie to deliver our meals. Nox had ordered steak and eggs and I had my pancakes and ice cream. I had Bonnie box it all up and I took it with me.

Bonnie was worried about us – about both of us. She cared for her regulars, but I could tell she was worried about Nox more than me. Everyone fucking pandered to him and his fucking mood swings. I was so sick of it.

I walked back to my apartment and left the food with Joe, the door man. He could do what he wanted with it. He thanked me profusely as I headed up to my apartment. It was about fucking time I left this fucking city. I’d call Poet and tell him the bad news. I just couldn’t anymore…

Nothing But the Truth

Nox fell asleep in my arms. I was too strung out from what had happened. The moments we’d shared. In the depths of his soul, Nox knew me. He didn’t need the memories I had of all the times we’d shared, those feeling seemed to bubble up. His hands roaming over my body missing ticklish spots like an expert. His lips finding just the right spot. I laid awake thinking about how he’d memorized my body from the one time we’d been together.

I could have sworn he mumbled Mushu in his sleep and I pulled him tighter against me feeling that tingle. I had not felt the in years. It was there, he was thinking about him. About me but he didn’t know it. I wanted to go to him, to tell him tonight had been beyond anything I’d have hoped for five years ago. I wanted to tell him how much I cared, about everything, not just the house, or my job. I fell asleep and found myself floating in the ocean alone but he kept calling to me. I waited for the call to stop but it didn’t. Not until a sharp annoying sound pierced the water around me and the warmth against my chest pulled away to turn it off.

And then his warm hand was on my shoulder shaking me and I groaned. “Alex?” he shook again.

“What?” I said. It was too early – way to fucking early.

“I’m going into your living room gonna do some yoga and grab a shower, then I’ll make you breakfast.”

“I don’t have anything for you to make.” I rolled on to my back and looked at him blinking away the sleep.

“Then I’ll go for a run and get stuff and I’ll cook for you again.”

I grabbed his arm and pulled him on top of me. I didn’t want him to leave. If he left he might not come back. “Stay with me. You can make be breakfast when the sun comes up.”

He pressed a kiss to his forehead. “If I stay in bed I’m going to lose it later.” He confessed and I didn’t really care, I didn’t want to get out of bed right now, or soon. I wanted him to stay with me.

I rolled us back to our sides and ran my fingers down the side of his face while pulling him tight against me and whispered, “Sleep baby.” I nudged him to sleep. Kish would probably be pissed but I didn’t care. I didn’t want the moment to end. Nox was sleeping against me and I felt that fucking urge to pee. I stayed in bed as long as I could before I had to get up.

The relief was paramount as I was walking back into the room and saw Nox whimpering in bed, and blood and mangled skin running down his naked back. Fuck! If I hadn’t believed it before I sure as fuck did now. I wasted no time before I was shaking him to wake him. His eyes popped open and he yelped. “Fuck Nox.” I pulled my hand away and whispered, “I was gone like 2 minutes.”

I watched as Nox eased his way out of bed. I didn’t fucking care if he got blood everywhere. I asked, “You okay?”

Nox nodded. His mind was focused on what had happened, on his dream, on thinking of me and the nightmares and I felt like shit. “I’m going to take a shower.” He said as he walked out of my room. I listened for the bathroom door closing and breathed a sigh of relief he hadn’t gone home naked. Though it would have been funny. Not that he’d care really he could hide himself from view.

After the water started and he got settled I knocked on the door to my own bathroom, “Can I come in?”

“It’s your bathroom.” He said like he was far away. His thoughts drifting again to his dream man and back to me. I was real. He’d given up on him. I had done the same, but here he was standing in fucking front of me again. And last night still high in my mind. But I didn’t like being a second thought, even though I was the same person as he was thinking about. How couldn’t he see it was me? Was he that clueless? I’d recognized him right away, even with all the many faces. But I had to fix it. Always having to fix it.

I asked again. “You okay?”

“Fine.”

“You don’t sound fine.”

“I told you I would lose it later. This is me at the beginning of losing it.”

“I’m sorry I made you sleep again.” I truly was sorry. I was selfish, and hadn’t thought about him.

He smirked. “I’m not mad at you Alex.”

“You’re mad at who then?” I asked annoyed. “I can see it in the way you move and I can hear your thoughts.”

“I’m mad at myself. Because I let you manipulate me.”

“I…” Fuck! He was right, I had, and guilt for that killed my anger. It was my fault he was in this state.

“I’m okay with it Alex.” he reassured me, “With all of it. The lies and the secrets. I’m okay with it all. But I shouldn’t let you manipulate me when I know what’s best for me.”

Nox turned and looked at me through the steamed glass, “Spending the night was always going to be rough on me. Waking up in a strange place, with strange smells and patterns. Yoga would have helped me cope with that change, kept me balanced. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I didn’t want to leave you, I should have. I should have been stronger.”

“Can I join you?” I asked quietly.

“It’s your shower.”

“Nox.” I wanted an answer. I didn’t want to push more – again.

“Yes, Alex, you can join me. I’m not mad at you. Nothing about this is anything you can do anything about.” Which was precisely why I wanted to be in the shower with him..

I stepped into the shower and wrapped my arms around him from behind and kissed my favorite spot, “Your back is already healed why isn’t this.” I asked.

“Because I’m fighting my body.”

“You want to wear my mark.” I sounded surprised to my own ears.

“Always have, Alex.” he said quietly like he was lost in thought.

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know. Just a gut feeling. Something inside saying you’d be happy to see the mark still on me when we woke up.” Nox sighed, “Just like I know deep down inside you are keeping something from me, something that will rip my heart out when I know it.”

I stepped back from him. In shock of his words. His confession. The hurt in his voice. “I can see it every time I look at you. The lies and secrets. The aliases, the client who thinks she’s your friend, the case itself where you are helping someone find something you don’t want. I don’t know what it is, but I feel it, Alex. Just as you feel safe, and like home. I know that when I find out it’s going to hurt.” His voice cracked and I knew he was in tears.

After everything that happened. Everything that we’d gone through, all the torment. The past five years. Poet’s fucking job. After all of it, all I wanted was to keep him safe, to make it stop. To make this work. He felt good against me, like no one had ever before. Not even Kate, just my little monster. “I don’t think I can keep doing this, Nox.”

“Doing what?” He looked over his shoulder at me and he looked about to lose it even further. I decided I’d lay it all out. I’d lay the whole fucking thing out. It worked so well for him…

“I already ripped your heart out. Just like you ripped mine out.” I confessed.

Nox turned around and stared at me. I saw the thoughts forming. The connections being made even as he asked, “What?”

“Five years ago, almost, in a few days anyway, you asked me to show you the real me. You wanted to touch the real me, promised darkness and the real us. No games, just us.” Nox shook his head in disbelief, but he knew it was true. He remembered the dream. “It was a perfect. Just like last night. You never remember me. And I was okay with that. Until I found a book, one my dad wrote me before I was ever born. It made me think you were the one. So I tried everything again to get you to remember me. And then your mom died, and you were a mess. I’d seen you so many times before that high or drunk and completely broken, but this time, this time was different. I told you about my box of things and I made you wake up. If you woke up before the black took you away you remembered me. I didn’t know why I hadn’t seen it before, the nights you remembered me. You found it and we spent months falling in love, planning to meet. And then the weeks before you were gone. I couldn’t find you.”

“It was the vampire magic.” He interrupted, “I didn’t know it at the time. But Ant and Ryan’s taught ability to keep dreamwalkers from their sleep protects those around them, and I had been staying with Cari and her power encompasses the entire house. And it’s a large house.” Fucking vampires.

Nox shook his head. “I’m sorry.” He turned around and shut the water off and grabbed two towels. He was done. And I felt exposed. I’m sure he did too.

“And then came the day and you didn’t show up. You sent your fucking friend to tell me you weren’t interested.” He started to interrupt and I glared at him holding a finger up to make him wait, I wasn’t done, “I knew it was a lie, i heard the truth of it but I figured I’d just see you in the dream and we’d meet up later.”

“You never came back to the dream after that.” His words were so broken.

I couldn’t help but laughing. “I could never find you. You’d been calling me every night since this power manifested. Last night you called to me again. But I didn’t come.”

“I know. I didn’t have a nightmare last night.”

“What do you call what happened just then?” I pointed back at my room..

“You left me. And I… I don’t know. But that was because I fell asleep thinking about you. It’s what happens when I think about him. About you. How long have you known?” He asked. I saw his annoyance and I knew he’d be angry.

I shook my head as I told him the truth, “Since the beginning. I only took this job so I could hurt you the way you hurt me.”

I added to give it a little more context “Funny thing is that I already ripped your heart out. And I’d been too blind to see it. Ignoring things because I was trying to stay away from you, I didn’t want you to lure me in.”

Nox nodded. “So now what? What are you going to tell your master?” he said as he stalked out of the bathroom towards my room. To find his clothes. He was going to leave me like this. Of all the fucking times not to talk to me!

“Same thing I told you. I can’t do this anymore.” I called after him.

I wanted to let him walk out. The earth shattering pain I was reliving again. But if he walked the fuck out the door we’d never see each other again. We’d never get another chance. And I didn’t reveal the truth so he could walk the fuck out of my life. But I’m an ass too I stepped out of my bathroom just as Nox got to the door and I yelled, “For someone who talks all the fucking time you have nothing to say now?”

“What do you expect me to say?” He ran fingers through his hair and it got caught in a knot I’d probably made last night. “Thanks for ripping my heart out? You want confirmation that you paid me back before I go?” He sniped at me.

“No I want you to give a damn about me for a change. It’s always about you and your feelings and your anxiety and your schedule. How about you show some interest in me! Do you even care why I told you everything or are you too busy thinking poor Nox, fucked over again, everyone uses me and he’s no different.”

He stared at me. “You are no different standing there on your high horse.” But it was just a biting comment. His thoughts had recoiled at the thought he hadn’t been taking care of me. That he’d been selfish. That he was always selfish.

“Do you know how many times I talked you out of doing something stupid? Every fucking October would roll around and I’d look forward to seeing you, and every October you were a mess. Or how many times I had to refrain from being angry at you because I only got a little bit of time with you before the fucking darkness took you away from me. Or the fucking scars I had to hide because whatever the fuck takes you tore into me when I tried to stop it.”

With each new word, Nox was crumbling. I knew it was harsh. And I knew I should have let him walk out the door. But he didn’t. He collapsed to the floor like he had in his apartment. He backed up against the door and his world crumbled around him. He was so much fucking work. I couldn’t even have a fight with him without feeling like shit.

Nox mumbled something I didn’t hear, but his words were clear in my head, “I don’t remember those things.”

I didn’t care. He should. “Wouldn’t matter anyway Nox. You never asked anything. Not even when my fucking birthday was. It’s always about you.”

He stared at me definitely and the words tumbled out. “You’re birthday is on Halloween.”

The fucking things he remembered. The doubt in his mind. He didn’t know where the memory came from but I saw him dressed in a pirates outfit and I remembered having the best fucking birthday because of him ever.”

“So you remember things off the wall things, like my name, or my birthday. Nox. Always at your convenience. How the fuck do I know you even cared. You used me to get that thing off your back.”

“I would never use you.” he cracked out through sobs.

A part of me wanted to comfort him, but he had to get through this him fucking self. I wasn’t going to pick him up and I wasn’t going to let him go run to his fucking vampire prince either. But he was just sitting there crying and breathing and I had enough. I turned and walked into my room.

I saw the drying blood on my sheets and swore. I’d have to deal with that later. I grabbed a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt. I needed a shower, but I didn’t care right now. I pulled on a pair of boxers and a plain t-shirt then the other clothes from the closet. I went to walk out but the sight of his blood… I couldn’t just leave it there. I stripped the bed of the linens and crumpled them up and tossed them into the garbage bin. It was too small and it just landed in a pile on top then flopped over spilling the few papers it had collected.

I walked out of my bedroom and to the linen closet by the bathroom and saw Nox still sitting there against the door his head resting against it. Tears flowing and his lips moving. His inner thoughts were some sort of mantra. 3 things I could touch… I ignored them and grabbed clean sheets and walked back into my room to make the bed.

I was straightening the last corner of the comforter on my bed when I felt his presence behind me. His breathing was even as he spoke quietly. “I’m sorry. I have no excuses to offer that can explain why I treated you in a way that made you feel I didn’t care. I know I don’t remember all those things you do. And I don’t ask questions. I don’t want to pry, but it’s no excuse for my behavior.”

“Fuck, Nox.” I turned on him and glared. He still looked pale and broken but he was standing there. I could see how hard it was for him. “You are always such a pity party.”

“I’m sorry.” His gaze dropped to the floor.

I was tired of this fucking submissive shit. I stomped over to him and shoved his chest. “Stand up for your fucking self.” Nox stumbled back.

He didn’t say anything, which was slightly better than saying sorry again. I shoved him again. “Why do you let people push you around?” He took another step back. I could see the temper rising. His anger blinding the rest of his thoughts.

I shoved him again. “Why do you let me push you around?” But before the words had completely left my lips I was on the ground, long lean fingers were wrapped around my throat and I couldn’t breathe. Nox was staring down at me with his knee in my chest. I hadn’t even seen him move before I was gasping for air.

He didn’t smile he fell backwards onto his ass and then backwards still on to the floor gasping for breath like I’d been choking him instead of the other way around. Then I realized he wasn’t gasping for breath he was crying – again. “You really are a piece of work, Nox.”

Nox sat up, tears streaming down from red puffy eyes and I goaded him to get that anger back, “I thought dating a guy would have so much less fucking crying. I guess I was wrong.”

“Fuck you, Alex.” He snapped as he stood up drying his tears. “I’m sorry I didn’t remember you all those years, but getting fucking beaten every fucking night since I was six year old seems to have stuck in my head instead of all those good memories. I’m so fucking sorry that you get pissed at me for being submissive. Here let me stand up for myself.” He started for the door again.

I scrambled for the door first. “No, you don’t get to leave like this!”

“How would you like me to leave Alex?” He yelled at me. We were both yelling like a pair of idiots and I tried to calm down.

“Honestly?”

“Always, honestly, but I know that’s kinda hard for you.” His sarcasm level was at 11, a massive improvement over the tears and anger, but I bit back my own sarcastic response and gave him my honest answer.

It stung but it was the truth. “I don’t want you to leave at all.” He stared at me. “I want you to ask me why I don’t think I can do it anymore, or what it is. I want you pretend you care, Nox.”

His thoughts churned. He wanted to snap at me he didn’t need to pretend because he fucking loved me, but that wasn’t what he said. He went from tears to anger to this fucked up resignation in the space of a couple of minutes, fuck he was exhausting. “What can’t you do anymore?” he whispered with his eyes closed. He was waiting for the final blow just like I was waiting for him to walk away.

“I can’t keep lying to you. I can’t pretend that I don’t care about you. I can’t keep lying to myself about wanting more. If it means it’s over Nox, that’s fine. But you have to know why before I’ll let you leave.” He was losing it again. The anger gone, replaced with broken parts – with anxiety, depression but mostly self doubt.

“What about your revenge?”

“I don’t know Nox. I might go back to hating you again tomorrow. But last night reminded me how fucking much I wanted this to work. And it wasn’t the sex.” He smirked, “Though, that was amazing.” Nox grinned at me, I was making progress. “We have issues. Both of us. We hurt each other. I’m hoping that now that we both know we can mend some of those hurts. But we can’t do that if you walk out the door.”

My stomach rumbled. Nox dropped his gaze to the floor and asked, “What if we both walked out together and we went to get something to eat?”

I sighed with relief at the change of subject. “Yeah, pretty boy. I think we can do that.” I felt a little better, he looked a little better. But this was by no means fixed. But at least we agreed to try. At least that’s what I got out of it. Fuck. I didn’t even know how to process what happened.

The Second Most Perfect Time

The weight shifted above me and I grumbled. I started feeling cold and woke up with Nox gone. What the fuck! I got played. I sat up and looked around. Nox walked into the room apologizing profusely. “I’d never leave without waking you first. I just had to go to the bathroom.”

I beckoned him to come to me, and rolled over into the middle of my bed and pulled him down next to me. I was shaking, I could feeling the tremors in my arms. “You okay?” He whispered against my neck. “A bad memory, that’s all.” Waking with him gone was like every nightmare I’d ever had growing up. “I’m better with you right here. Don’t do that again okay?”

He nodded against my neck. “I think I can manage that.”

I smiled at my pretty boy and pressed a kiss to his lips. We were both ready for more, teeth and tongue. We’d stalled too many times. Now we let everything go. It was just us. I was on top of him pressing my body into his his, both of us pressing our hips against each other as we tried to find just the right amount of friction. But it was a futile effort. I shifted down and ran my tongue down his jaw line nibbling at the well manicured beard and wondered only slightly what he’d say if I asked him to shave. But I was licking my way down his neck to the perfect spot on his neck. I had a favorite spot and Nox tilted his head to the side to allow me access.

The taste of his skin in my mouth, the feel of the tender skin between my teeth, soothed the pain away with my hot tongue and I was so ready to fuck him. I wanted him so bad.

I pulled his shirt over his head and left it just above his elbows so he had to untangle himself from his shirt. My fingers ran over his chest and I felt the rough edges of the scar that reminded him everyday that his mother had died a foolish death. “You didn’t tell me the bear got you too.” I said. But it was his thoughts that made me realize my mistake. I was distracting him but he moved his hands into my hair and I grabbed his hands and pressed them above his head and kissed him long and hard. We broke apart breathless. “Now I need to start all over. Stay put.” I ordered then moved from his lips to his neck nipping at my favorite spot before moving down. He was putty in my hands as I ran my tongue along the scar on his chest to his nipples.

I could read him like a book and he was so open about everything. All I had to do was listen to his thoughts and follow the cues his body gave me. I had Nox whimpering underneath me. I sat up and he met my eyes and he was whimpering at my lack of touch along his body. So fucking easy. “I think I like how well you behave.”

Nox beamed at me and bit his bottom lip. He liked praise. He was a submissive in this. He whispered, “Always.”

He was perfect. Even the scars on his back I knew were there. I wanted all of him. The night went on. And I hadn’t had a better night. Not ever. Well maybe once but it was with him anyway. The night in the dark, the real us in the darkness. His hands all over me. I had wanted to explore his body then but he’d worked me up so much. So I took the time to do it properly this time.

The first time I touched his back he groaned. I jerked my hands away and he caught them pulling my arms around him and he breathed in my space, “please.” It was the only single word he’d said since he’d said always. My fingers felt the edge of each scar, and the valleys of countless lashing he had receive. He shook against me and bit my shoulder and I could feel how hard it was making him against me. I saw in his head that he’d never let anyone touch him like that. His back was overly sensitive and with just a few touches I had him on the edge.

We’d worked ourselves into such a frenzy that one more touch, one more grind and it was going to be over before I got inside him. He gasped for air as I bit his neck and he almost screamed, my name a hoarse cry as his hips jerked and he came. I only managed, “Fuck!” as I came against him.

Losing Myself

Nox finished eating before I did and was up cleaning up the mess he’d made. Which in retrospect wasn’t that big of a mess since he did the dishes as he went. There was very little to do . I could do this. “You cooked. I can clean up.”

He nodded. “I know you can. But if it’s not taken care of it’ll drive me nuts. The whole change thing, the patterns mess up cause it’s outta order. I’ll be better with it cleaned up, now instead of later.”

I sighed, “You really are a pain in the ass.” I got up and collected my dishes and took them to the sink to start the dishwasher.

“Not yet.” He grinned at me at me as he hip checked me and started washing the dishes by hand. I don’t think I’d ever done that. Maybe once as a kid.

“Go put the food away. I’ll have it later.” I ordered. I could wash dishes, or do it my way anyway.

He didn’t seem to mind, “Yes, sir,” he said as he pressed a kiss to my temple and then started putting everything in separate bowls.

I was going to have to wash all that. “You could have put it all in one thing.”

“No way. Then the pasta drinks all the pesto sauce. And the chicken gets all mushy. This way you can just pop the chicken in the oven for ten and warm and melt the cheese again. You can microwave the pasta and the pesto together but I’d just do the pasta and keep the pesto cold, maybe mix in some more olive oil to thin it out a little.”

I dried my hands. “I’m going to go with my first statement. You are a pain in the ass.”

He smirked. “And I’m still going with, not yet.”

His words went straight to my cock. I groaned, “Alright, come on. Tour first and then I want dessert.”

Nox laughed, “Hey, I’m not a piece of meat.”

I ran my eyes over his body and grabbed his hoodie zipper and let it fall from his shoulders when I pushed it off his shoulders. “I’ll be the judge of that.” The idea that his hoodie was on the floor would bug him so I kicked it up into my hand and tossed it to the couch so he’d be less prone to freaking out. His thoughts were one tracked again. He was thinking about all the things he wanted to do with me. I was the piece of meat and it was making me hard. I growled, “Come on.” I stumbled away and grabbed my guitar on the way out. “This way.”

I pointed to the spare bedroom that was pretty much empty except for a desk. “That’s the spare bedroom I use for an office.” I gripped the guitar with my other hand and pointed to the other end. “The only bathroom is down this way.” We walked that way. I actually showed him this room. And he seemed to like it. I hoped we’d be checking it out later.

I pushed opened my bedroom door and I stepped inside to put the guitar on it’s stand in the corner of the room. It wasn’t much, but it was all mine. “This is my room.” I saw its state of disarray, my unmade bed and the room itself again and sighed. “I wasn’t expecting guests.”

He shrugged. “It doesn’t bother me. You leave it a mess all the time so it looks fine.”

“But you make yours.” I tried to understand.

“But I’ve always made mine. It was a rule growing up, kinda like boot camp and the military.”

I nodded, “Okay, you sure?” I asked to make one last final check. I’d make it if I knew he was coming over.

He nodded and sat down on the bed. “Yeah, no need to worry about making it messier.” He grinned at me, “I assume that is part of the goal?”

I shook my head and pulled him off the bed and tossed the blankets to the floor on the other side of the room then flopped down on the top of the bed face first. “I was serious, my neck hurts now.”

“So dramatic.” He said behind me as he tugged at my t-shirt. “If you want a proper back rub you need to lose the shirt.”

I rolled over and looked up at him and I knew he liked the view. I smirked at him. He was so fucking easy. I sat up and he pulled the shirt over over my head. As I tossed the shirt across the room into the corner I reached around him and grabbed his phone. “I’m going to put this on Do Not Disturbed.” I watched his face and listened to his reaction and so far nothing seemed wrong, “You’re alarms should still come through.” I said confidently.

He nodded, “I know. I use it at night.”

I smiled. “This okay?” I set his phone on the nightstand and then set my own in the same mode next to it. He nodded at me. “Good now you are all mine.”

Nox whispered, “I was already all yours.”

I shook my head, “No you would have left if someone told you something had happened on your big case.”

He shrugged. “You’ll never know now – will you?” He shoved me and I sat down on the bed. He spun his finger to tell me he wanted to get started and I gladly obliged him.

“Bossy, I swear.” I kicked off my shoes and I put my cheek on my crossed hands with closed eyes. I was going to to enjoy this. “The mess isn’t gonna make you agitated will it?”

“I’ll let you know when things start getting too much, alright? You don’t have to keep asking.”

I rolled on to my side. “I don’t want to freak you out at all Nox, Not even a little. I want this to go well.” I wanted him to stay with me, here outside of everything else. Fuck what was I doing?

Nox was confident, “It’s going great.” It felt odd him being the one who knew things would be alright. “I’ll let you know when it gets too much. I promise. I’m not fragile.” Could a fooled me.

I laid back down with a sigh and the words slipped out of my mouth. Nox didn’t say anything in response as he sat on my ass and started rubbing his hands on my back. They felt warm. I fucking melted under his touch. I bit my lip to keep from making too many unwanted noises as he kneaded the knots I hadn’t really known where there.

Nox whispered as his hot hands pressed through my back and it went straight to my cock. “There has just been a lot of stress the past few days. I’m not usually quite so volatile. You make me nervous among other things.”

“Why do I make you nervous?” I sounded far away. His fingers were making me sleepy.

“I don’t date. I don’t take guys numbers and keep them, much less call them back. I haven’t been with a guy in a few years. It’s just all new and yet you make me feel safe and like I’ve done this a thousand times before. I know it sounds crazy but you smell and feel like home.”

I didn’t know how to respond to that so I shut up and Nox expertly worked my back until I fell asleep.

A Truth

Nox grabbed the groceries and was out the door before I could help him. I locked up and found him standing by the elevator waiting. He hadn’t even pushed the button. I asked, “Nox you okay?”

He nodded. “Yeah.”

“We really didn’t do anything.” I reassured him.

He growled, “I know. I believe you. I don’t like that your friend knows me from my past. And the fucked up part I don’t remember her. The circle is small, the people who’d know that part I’d know.”

I sighed. “I’m not happy she knows you either. I don’t like knowing you had a dom.” I smirked, trying to lessen the feeling of guilt he had, “From what I saw she was where she shouldn’t have been. Got a few lashes from it. She thought it was worth it.”

“You aren’t into that though?” He asked. He really wished I wasn’t into the whole scene. I was glad I could reassure him. We rode down the elevator and were out the door. We were walking down the street before I even thought of responding. The people around us there didn’t need to know my business.

We passed an alleyway mouth and I tugged Nox down into it so we could talk in some relative quiet. “Nox. I told you the truth. I don’t want a sub. It’s not my thing, it’s just a job. She’s paying me to find her soul mates who were right fucking in front of her.”

He laughed. “Course. I’m not surprised, if she can’t see through you.”

I pushed him. I was a better actor than he even knew. Nox grabbed my hands and pulled me against him. “It’s pretty obvious you aren’t some flamboyant gay guy.”

“I’m a good actor.” I said flatly

Nox laughed. “We’ll see.” he said as he pulled me out of the alley, “Show me your place. Your real place.”

I nodded and couldn’t help repeating what his boss had said. I liked this side of him. “Bossy, bossy. But I’m starving and you weren’t done shopping. I literally have nothing.”

He sighed. “Fine.” We went into the local grocer and Nox picked up a few more things. It looked like we’d be having Italian from what he grabbed overall. He asked, “What do you want to drink?”

“Wine.”

“You want a fancy dinner?”

“I said dazzle me.” I smirked. I meant it. I wanted him to impress me. Not that his steaks or his pancakes hadn’t but I knew those weren’t meant to impress. I wanted to see what his surrogate fathers taught him.

He rolled his eyes at me. “All right.” then grabbed a bottle of white wine as we passed. He didn’t even look at the brand or the price. Or anything really, just grabbed. Like it didn’t matter. But I saw in his head he knew exactly what he was doing. “You ready?” he asked.

I nodded. “I’m all yours chef. I’m starving. This won’t take long will it?”

He shrugged. “Never made it before.”

“I’m not some guinea pig!” I said with a nervous laugh. I should be freaking out and I was fucking starving, but I knew, I just knew, whatever he cooked would be amazing.

“You are tonight,” he said confidently as I pulled out my wallet to pay for the rest of the groceries, as I had earlier and the day before. I was getting good at paying for his things. Not that I minded. “But I promise it’ll be good.” He said with a smile. I loved that smile. Fuck if he wasn’t going to do me in.

“It better be!” I said.

We weren’t far from my place, We weren’t far from Nox’s either. It wasn’t a coincidence I’d been able to find him so easily. If only I’d known all those years ago. It’s not like I hadn’t been seeing him all the while while I was with Kate. He was part of my everyday life. My friend, my confidant. Fuck, he was the guy I was having sex with whenever I wanted. Without the cause for any concerns because it was just a dream.

I opened the door and the first thing Nox did was inhale deeply. I laughed, “Do you do that at every new place?”

He shook his head. “No.” He didn’t know how to explain the thoughts verbally but I caught all of it in his head. How I felt safe, like home, and smell was the majority of that sensation for him. It was why he trusted the people he did – because they smelled like home and safety to him.

I swept my hand through the living room in a grand gesture. “Make yourself at home.” I declared easily. I wanted him comfortable. Fuck if I was honest, I wanted him naked and here all the time. But I pushed the memories away. I wasn’t in this for personal gain. This was about Poet, and everything else was just mine to take.

Nox took me literally and kicked of his shoes and walked around in just his socks. He was doing half the work for me. I could get used to that.

I lead him through the apartment to the kitchen. He put things on the counter and I asked, “You want the tour?”

Nox shook his head, “No, I think I’ll feed the starving man who keeps eyeing me.”

“I think that’s a good idea.” I sat down at the bar and started unpacking his groceries to help out. I didn’t know what he wanted or needed but he didn’t seem to mind that I was doing that simple chore while he looked around my kitchen looking for the things he needed.”I don’t think I’ve ever cooked here either.” I said.

“A virgin eh?” He joked.

Which I returned with a quip of my own. “You could only wish.”

Nox shook his head “Virgin’s are so boring. I like ’em with a little experience, maybe a lot, show me a thing or two.”

“That’s fancy coming from you!” he was such a playboy it wasn’t even funny. I’d watched him coral a girl and fuck her on the dance floor. There was probably nothing he hadn’t done with someone else. Which only made things hurt even more. He’d never remembered the things we did. I was his first fucking kiss, I was his first, not those he thought of. It was me but I wasn’t real to him.

Nox groaned, “Are you calling me a slut?”

I sighed more for my own self defeating thoughts than his own self deprecation. Either way we were both thinking the same thing, “No pretty boy. I very much want to show you a thing or two.” I hadn’t meant to say it. But it was the truth. I wanted to be his everything and then the pain of it all hit and I wanted nothing more than to rip it out from under him. And here I’m thinking he’s such a fucking mess – I shouldn’t talk.

“So you get fed, what do I get out of this deal?” He asked as he beat eggs in one of my bowls with a fork. I had a whisk but he seemed perfectly happy with the fork.

I smirked, “Since when do I have to sing for my supper?”

“Can you?”

“Can I what?” I asked confused.

“Sing for you supper.”

I nearly snorted “Fuck, I’ll show you pretty boy.” I went to my bedroom and looked around. The bed was fucking disaster and I had clothes strewn about, but fuck he wanted honest, this was me. I grabbed my guitar and walked back into the kitchen with hit.

“Okay, now I’m impressed.” Nox said as I sat down on the bar stool and adjusted myself so that I could play with ease.

“Yeah uh, huh.” I warmed up a little, my fingers hadn’t touched the guitar since I got here, there had been no need. Janice had never much cared unlike her mother. Her mother loved for me to play for her. started strumming and singing Stand By Me. It was a habit more than anything. I’d sung the song to him so many times over the years. It just started without me thinking about it. “When the night has come / And the land is dark / And the moon is the only light we see / No I won’t be afraid / No I won’t be afraid / Just as long as you stand, stand by me / And darling, darling stand by me.”

Nox had been startled by the playing of a song he’d felt so much connection with, but he hadn’t said anything. He was wondering how I knew to play the song for him. His thoughts made me angry. Fuck, I sang it to you!

I didn’t want to play that song to him here. In the real world, it hurt too much knowing he never remembered. Fuck if he had remembered, I don’t know what I would have done. I started playing a slower cover of Baby One more time. Nox recognized it it almost immediately and his thoughts said it wasn’t dance worthy. He wanted to dance, huh? I could do that. “You want something you can dance too.” I started playing Stayin Alive. It wasn’t a favorite of mine but it always got a reaction from the crowd. It was such a classic everyone did John Travolta’s classic moves.

Including Nox, he grinned as he said, “You really want me flinging my hands around while I coat this chicken. There is only one way to dance to that song.”

I strummed a few other things, he didn’t seem to care that it wasn’t anything particular, and I didn’t need to sing. But my stomach rumbled and I launched into something silly, “C is for cookie, it’s good enough for me.” It had Nox grinning and I kept playing and singing the song I’d grew up with. But I really was hungry. I did my best cookie monster voice, “Alex hungry!”

Nox was grinning, “I’m cooking as fast as I can.”

I wasn’t really thinking as I started playing Thriller. It was one of the more complicated songs I knew. It was an impressive song to play on the guitar and I often played it in the park to make extra bucks, most adults who were in the money knew Thriller, it was part of their generation, though that was quickly changing. What I hadn’t expected was for Nox to break out in dance. Not only did he know the moves he was almost certainly doing it right the whole thing even without the words.

As Nox cooked I played a few other of Michael Jackson’s songs. He seemed to favor Billie Jean and I enjoyed watching him dance like the King of Pop. He moved with precision and sex appeal and I was forgetting my place more often than not until his timers all went off and he was plating food.

Nox pushed a plate in front of me and I gave him a flourishing bow which brought a smile to his lips, the same smile that made me more than happy.

He was all smiles and I couldn’t help but laugh as I asked, “But can you do this?” I played a metallica riff and headbanged to it. I pulled a neck muscle with the energetic movements, or so I let on. And he saw through it with a roll of his eyes, “Obviously that was done so I’d touch you.”

I smirked. “I would never.” But Nox was already working the sore spots in my neck. He had to stop or we’d never eat and I was fucking hungry.

I grabbed his hands and pulled him closer to me and kissed him over my shoulder, “If you keep that up your food is going to get cold and I’m starving.” And my stomach rumbled on cue.

Nox played up the sigh as he sat down next to me taking a sip of his wine and then started cutting his own food. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be so polite but I didn’t just reach down and grab the chicken that looked delectable on the plate covered in pesto sauce. My apartment never smelled so good. Nox asked, “Where did you learn to play?”

I finished a bite and told him the truth, “My mom taught me. It was a staple of my growing up.” It had earned us money when we were short on cash and it had earned me a lot of tips as I played for the big wigs in other places.

I already knew the answer, but I asked anyway, “Where did you learn to dance like that?”

“Dorian paid for my instructor. She was from Spain and Dorian liked speaking Spanish with her, if I’d thought he liked women I’d have said he was flirting, but Dorian was really just interested in the language. Though I think he did learn some to speak Italian to impress Marco.”

“What else did Dorian pay for?” I asked, obviously the cooking but I wondered if he had any other mundane talents I didn’t know about yet.

“Just cooking and dancing. He did it so I’d stay out of his hair. If I was too busy doing other things I wasn’t making trouble in the AU building.” The knowledge was only slightly disappointing. I couldn’t think of anything finer for him to do. Obviously he was artistic too. I’d looked at those drawings in his notebook and they weren’t something to be shy about. There had been other doodles too. But I hadn’t looked long. I wondered how much he practiced that talent.

“I knew you were a trouble maker.” I poked fun at him.

Nox hung his head and bit his bottom lip before he looked up at me shly. He was about to say say he wasn’t a trouble maker but I interrupted him before the words left his mouth, “Fuck, pretty boy, don’t do that.”

He looked at me oh-so innocently, “Don’t do what?”

“You know exactly what?”

He shook his head. “I have no idea what you mean.”

I rolled my eyes at him, “Eat. Then I’ll give you a tour of the place and then you can give me a proper back rub. All that headbanging hurt my neck.”

He laughed. “Uh, huh.” He ate. I devoured my food and was looking forward to the left overs later. Though they might not make it through the night.

Talking Myself Into It

I watched as Nox dumped the contents of our coffee, “Don’t forget to feed the cat. You won’t be home for a while and I think she’ll get mad if you don’t feed her.”

He smirked, “Are you chatting with Fee?”

“Maybe.” I grinned back.

He cut some chicken and poured some milk them looked at me “Anything else I need to do?”

I shook my head with a smirk. I pushed some of the fallen strands from my face, “Let’s go.” I held up the paperwork, “Tell me where to take this so we can get it done and over with.”

“Just need to drop it off with Dae’lin.” He said like it was obvious.

“So back down stairs.” I nodded and headed to the stairwell. “I think I remember the way.”

Nox gave me that smile and took my free hand. I pulled my fingers from his hand and slid it around his waist. I wanted to be close. And I think he needed me to be even more. “Pretty boy, I’ll catch you when you fall. I meant it.”

Nox pressed a kiss to my cheek and pulled away as we started down the stairs. He was missing the warmth and so was I. I knew where I was going, or at least that was what he thought anyway. When in reality I was reading his mind where to go. He was so easy to just lead through like I knew what I was doing and his mind and memories did the rest for me. I knocked on the door frame without waiting for an answer dropped the packet into her inbox with a smile “Nox said he had to drop this off here.” He stood just outside the door watching me. I felt his eyes on me.

She looked up with a frown and then her eyes drifted to the packet lying in her inbox. “You got him to sign?” She sounded more surprised and I wasn’t really sure if she was surprised I got him to, or that he signed it. It hadn’t been difficult, but then again I couldn’t read her to see what she thought. It was a very strange feeling standing and talking to someone and not knowing even a hint of what they were thinking.

I shrugged. “It didn’t really take much.” I gave her a wave. “Was nice meeting you.” I added as I took his hand and we left. I knew Nox hated the elevator but there was no fucking way I was taking the stairs the rest of the way down and I told him so. I pulled Nox to the back of the elevator and I leaned against the back wall. Nox pressed himself against me making me react in all sorts of ways. I wrapped my arms around his waist and watched as he bit his bottom lip in that shy innocent way he had a habit of doing.

He knew exactly what it did to me and he did it on purpose. He confirmed, “I’m okay. ‘Specially if you hold me like this.” His thoughts were content and I was more than happy to keep him that way. I didn’t want to have to deal with another panic attack. It was becoming part and parcel to the whole gig.

We were a block down the street before nox asked, “Where we going?”

I was starving, but I had no food. “Grocery shopping. I found you have food to feed me there days in a row. And my place has no food. But we have to make a stop after we get the groceries. I told you I’d give you a taste of me.”

He licked his lips and it went straight to my cock as I imagined my words did for him. “I think I’d like that.” Me too I thought.

Nox held on to my hand casually but he was afraid I’d run away. I could only smirk at the thought. I distracted him with food, “So, what do you want to make?”

“I don’t know what you like.” He grinned at me like it was some secret or something, Or maybe it was because he had paid some attention, “Sort of pancakes and a well cooked steak.”

I didn’t care, I was starving. “Surprise me?” I asked?

“You really want me to surprise you?” He asked.

“You were taught by a three star Michelin chef.” Not that I had any clue what that meant, but it was in his thoughts, “Dazzle me.” I smirked at him.

“Alright, then we are going the wrong way if I’m going to dazzle you.”

I flung up my hands and shrugged. “Lead the way, chef.” I flung us around, Nox was such a child sometimes. Though I couldn’t exactly say much I was the one doing the flinging.

We stopped at the butcher and picked up some chicken and then the farmer’s market where Nox picked up some vegetables.

“Is there a store close by where you live, so we don’t have to carry it all to our next stop?”

I nodded. “Yeah. That’s where I was heading.”

“We can go to your stop then pick up the rest of the groceries.”

“Alright.” It was as good of a plan as any other I could think about. And it gave us a good reason to leave the posh apartment.

We walked for a little ways before we were inside the Lincoln Center where Brent called home. On the 14th floor I opened the door with my little speech prepared, “This is not home. This is a place I use to pretend I have money.”

“Pretend?” Nox asked but as he stepped inside he was awed by the space and the exuberance of it all.

“I mean, I do have money, but I don’t like to live like this. This place is just too much.” I said to explain his question.

“No offense, Alex, looks like the Easter Bunny vomited all over the place.”

I smirked. “Brent is fashionably gay.”

Nox looked at me like I wasn’t telling him the truth and asked, “You are playing a gay guy? I mean it’s not exactly a stretch but fashionably gay? You mean stereotypical, pastels, clothing, shopping, the works?” He didn’t believe I could do it. I should show him… but he was right this was so not me.

I nodded. “Yeah. This is his place. A lot of money went into making it look like Easter Bunny vomit.” I laughed a little. It really sorta did.

“Sorry.” Nox apologized, “Why would you waste money on it?”

“It’s mostly in rent. I had to make a few alterations and the clothing. I really want to burn that shit, but still working the case so…” I said. I didn’t really want to explain what I was doing with Janice. Because that would be reiterating something I’d already told him once. He knew all about Kate in the dream. Somedays he even remembered, he remembered on the anniversary of her death. Which always surprised me when he offered up a big hug and said, ‘I’m here if you want to talk about it.’ Though he never really knew what it was, just that it was a bad day for me. But I knew Nox wouldn’t ask, it was only reaffirmed in his thoughts, so I added, “You can ask you know.”

We walked into the kitchen and Nox whistled. He was impressed. And it made me smile inside.

“You’ve never cooked here have you?” He said with great sadness.

I shook my head, “No, and if I’m lucky neither will you.” The comment made Nox pout and it was the cutest fucking thing I just wanted to pull him him close and kiss the pout away. I pushed him up against the stone countertop island, “I don’t want to ruin it for the next person.” I said with a smile. “I’m only here temporarily.”

The thoughts running through his head were the same as mine as he nodded, “So you’ve never christened the house?” He challenged me.

We couldn’t stay here. I really didn’t want Nox here for long. This was not me. He wanted honest I could give him a little piece of that. So I smirked and backed away and showed him the rest of the place and the last room was my bedroom. After he saw it I asked, “You ready to go. I’m really hungry.”

Nox nodded, but his words didn’t sound like he wanted to leave, “What, no hanky panky in your room. You show it last and nothing?” He was trying not to laugh as he walked out of the room.

I couldn’t help find the humor in it. But Nox was tempting my last ounce of reservation with that little sway of his hips. I breathed out slowly, “Fuck Nox, you keep it up and I’m going to be eating you for dinner.”

He turned around with a perfect smile for me, “Is that a challenge?” he asked.

I grabbed him and pushed him up against the wall with a growl and then there was a knock on the door and the front door squeaked reminding me I really needed to tell the front desk. Janice called out “Brent?” Fuck! I growled again but this time it wasn’t playful.

“Fuck!” I said quietly, “Stay here.” I ordered. I saw the thoughts of staying exactly as he was pressed against the wall. I had the urge to say good boy, but I didn’t as I backed away from my pretty boy to go deal with the annoyance Janice had just be come. I ran my fingers through my hair and I put on Brent’s guise and headed for the other room. “Janice, darling, what are you doing here?”

“We’ve been calling since last night, where have you been?” She said as she kissed both of my cheeks. Janice walked from the living room into the kitchen and if she turned around she’d see Nox. And I knew he hadn’t moved and he wouldn’t until I said so, fuck him and his submissive streak.

I sighed and beckoned him to come to me and he did so. I felt him standing by my side silently. Janice turned around and gasped. “I didn’t know you had company.” Her eyes looked over Nox and I growled under my breath. He’s fucking mine. “Slumming it Brent?” she asked after returning her gaze to mine.

Nox groaned and started for the door. “I’ll meet you downstairs.”

Before he was more than a step away from me I grabbed his hand. “No, Janice was leaving.”

She had the audacity to complain, “I just got here.” No fucking shit sherlock. Get out! I wanted to yell at her right then. She was going to fuck everything up. She didn’t want to go so I took her by the arm and dragged across the floor. “Janny, you were leaving.” I whispered for Nox’s benefit but it sounded like it was just for her. Sometimes being with a fucking Venatori had its perks. “I can’t get him in bed with you hanging around.” Though that was a complete lie. I’m sure I could easily get Nox in bed. I knew he’d comply But fuck if I was letting Janice lay a fucking finger on him.

Janice laughed, “You can just tell him what to do, he’ll do whatever you say.” She looked back at Nox and all sorts of memories of things she’d seen ran through her mind. Things she wasn’t supposed to see. Thing she was hot for but had never had him. Thank fucking god. “I’ve seen some things…” She said.

“I don’t care what you’ve seen, or what you think you know about him, he’s mine until I say otherwise, got it?” I growled at her

Janice sighed, “Fine, but when you are done we…”

“You’re pushing your luck Janny. Time to go.” I dragged her a little more.

But she sighed again, and looked at Nox with all too knowing smile. “Well… it was nice seeing you with your clothes on Nox.” She said curling her finger around his hoodie string seductively “though maybe you could take some style tips from Brent.” She turned back to me forgetting all about Nox, “By now darling, call me!” She said as she sashayed out the door.

When I turned back Nox was standing still, “You okay?” I asked.

He sighed, “Yeah. I think so. You were with her weren’t you?”

“When?” I asked. I’d been with Janice a lot. I didn’t think he meant sex, and I wanted to groan when his thoughts were remembering yesterday.

“Before laser tag.” He said.

“Yeah, why?” I nodded, there was no denying it, I saw his thought swimming with all the confirmations.

He shook his head, “I just smelled her on you before, is all.” And he didn’t let me say anything as he kept on talking, “It’s okay. I’m okay. I just wanted to know if it was her.”

“It was her, her current co-dom and their sub I was with. Lindsay was new and I was making sure they took care of her. Things got carried away. I didn’t have sex with then, they just…”

Nox interrupted. “I don’t want to know, Alex. What Brent does, I don’t want to know.” Nox closed his eyes, took a deep breath and then opened them again. He felt more centered as he begged me, “Can we go now?”

I nodded, “Yeah.” I felt like shit but he was moving past it. I could too.