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JodoBird180

Protein Powder is Deliciousness
Gage smiled as he looked at Dea. Even after being stabbed the man looked perfect, in Gages eyes. "I'll see what I can do about that" he said, nodding twoard the IV's. He chuckled, though it sounded like he hadn't for a while, it was hoarse and almost unatural for him at first, like he had forgotten how to in the first place. "I believe the nurse has mistaken me for your significant other. Maybe that's why they keep kicking me out. Apperantly, staying here nightly and not leaving has speaked up that idea." He just shrugged like it was nothing at all.

Most people would have found Dea's complaining annoying, but it was acutally releaving for Gage. He seemed to have come back into everything okay despite what happend. "I have to say, you handled everything like a champ, but tip for next time, don't be an idiot and try standing after having been stabbed. You hit your head pretty hard." He chuckled agian, "What you didn't account for was, one, that I wasn't planning on taking off my pants to use as a towel, and two, that you wouldn't have to awake to see it even if I had."

He couldn't seem to put how releaved he was that Dea was okay into words, but even if he had been able to, he wasn't sure he would have said it. He had been scared to death that Dea wasn't going to make it by the time they got to the hospital, and he had been with him for almost every step of the way. He wasn't sure if telling Dea he had stayed at the hospital was the best idea, but then agian not telling him would make it seem like he didn't care. He saved his life after all. Dea's rapidfire questions made him laugh and he gripped his hand, "Calm down for a moment, one question at a time. Your welcome for saving you, though it was really nothing, I couldn't just let you die infront of my consession stand, it would be bad for buisness." He joked, though he had heard the blood was extremely difficult to clean off the concrete, and there where still some faded pink spots.

"I'm doing alot better now. Getting over a few different things, but the one thing I was most worried about was if you where going to be okay. I felt- no, feel terrible about what happened." He was making himself sick to the point he was throwing up without anything in his system and had nearly passed out a good handful of times.

"That reminds me, the guy who stabbed you, he- and I'm not saying this to worry you or anything, he hasn't come by to see you. Maybe thats for the best though, I don't think I could have brought myself to let him in. But, it's not my place, I have really have no say, but he just seems . . . abusive?" Not that anyone listens to a thing I say anyway. I mean, who would listen to the guy who robs banks for a living and had so much useless knowlage it gets him knowwhere anyway? Gage had honestly no idea what he would have done if Jordan had shown up. On one hand, Dea seemed to care even if he did get stabbed by him, and on the other hand, he fucking STABBED Dea. Anyone in their right mind wouldn't have let him anywhere near Dea, but Gage was not currently in his right mind.

With Dea being in the hospital he felt like if he had left his side he was leaving him to the wolves. Obviously defensless and with Jordan running around he couldn't bring himself to even show up to football practice. That was something else that sent him -some how- into deeper shock and hurt. His coach had called saying that we was no longer apart of the team for having made no effort to show up to practice. Gage knew that without decent grades and money he wasn't going to college, but he had high hopes with his athletic abilities. Sports where who he was, and without them, he didn't know what do to now. Without his team, his plays, he wouldn't be able to get a scholorship, so he was now almost literally without a future. But, as usual, he was putting other people before himself even when it meant taking away his future. So not only with the shock from Dea, he had no schooling future for himself, and his fear of dieing and being in no one's memory was becoming more and more of a reality for him.

He hadn't realised it but he had mentally checked out for a second, not having heard what Dea had said the moment before, and he was sure he looked like he was going to implode on himself at any point. He shook himself for a second and did his best to give a convincing smile, "Sorry, I haven't gotten alot of sleep for the last five days. I feel like Hades dog chewed me up and spit me out." He blushed when Dea brushed his hair out of his face, "Am I? I never really realised that, now all I can do is wonder why." Then he had an idea, and for the first time in the last five days he lit up, "You hungry or something? I can slip you in some food from the food court, trust me, the food the 'inmates' eat is horrrrible!" He stood and brushed Deas hair out of his face and genuinley smiled. "Inmates is a joke, by the way. But yeah, the food's horrible."
 

Jester

Can we pretend airplanes are shooting stars?
Community Volunteer
*A year and five months ago*

It was maybe two am, and Daemon was curled up around himself, covered by his coat. He was shivering, breath coming out as a white steam in front of him as he twisted and turned, desperately trying to get warm. Beside him was the box of colorful chalk which had, yet again, failed to provide for him. A few weeks before, he'd been kicked out by his landlord. "Nothing personal," Mr. Drax had said, handing him a box full of his stuff and opening the door for him. "You gotta pay the rent on time, kid." Mr. Drax was a short, Pakistani man with penny-brown skin and kind eyes. Every morning he'd go out for a smoke along with his wife and chat with Daemon, who was out sketching the sunrise. The guy really had seemed sorry to see the artist go, and kicked him out only after he was several months late with rent. He'd even bought Daemon's sunrise painting, giving him a lot more than he needed to as 'A way to say goodbye'.

With the money, Daemon bought himself a box of chalk and started sketching on the street, drawing people, famous paintings, hell, anything anyone wanted. He'd hoped someone would toss him a dollar or two for his efforts. No one had. And day after day, Daemon got a bit skinnier, dirtier, and more desperate. Until tonight. The artist pushed himself up to a sitting position, cursing at the frigid air and rocky ground. After months of hoping someone, anyone would help him out, he'd finally realized. Help wasn't coming. Life was a fight, and he couldn't stand by and pray somebody would protect him from blows. Digging into his backpack, Dae and pulled out an old hairbrush, a stick of eyeliner and finally, a hot pink dye spray. If he wasn't making money with art, and if nobody was willing to hire him (he had no resume), than there was only one thing which would keep him from starving. God damn it, he was willing to do it. Daemon Mia Archer wasn't going to die like this.

He turned on his phone, something he hadn't been able to sell because 'nobody wants an old Android', and pulled up the camera, squinting in the dim streetlamp light as he expertly applied the eyeliner, giving himself cat wings. The brush followed, combing out knots from the wild man which he'd managed to grow over the past year. It was only after he was done that the realization the spray wouldn't cover all his hair hit. Hell, it would end up looking sloppy. Nobody would want to look at that. And so, he ended up getting rid of it. A shard of glass was all he had, and despite being incredibly cautious, he still managed to cut up his fingers and the inside of his palm. In the end, damn did it, he looked good. The spray stuck to his hair incredibly well, and having it chopped short accentuated his eyes and jawline. It didn't look too shabby for his first try.

A bit of tinkering with his clothes, cutting off this part, tightening the other, changed his normal shirt into a crop top and jeans which were rather lose into something which hugged his legs and ass. No, he didn't like it. But it wasn't for him to like, after all. It was for everyone else, specifically, guys. It didn't take a lot to get his first customer. Hanging out by the outside of a bar, leaning against the wall and looking high. That's all that was expected of him. Dae was young, handsome, and so obviously gay that within half an hour, an older looking gentleman was already talking to him. That was the first night of the rest of Dae's life. And that older looking gentleman? Well...he had a hell of a good time.

*back at the hospital*

Daemon smirked, taking in the handsome man before him, a mischievous light in his eyes. "Yeah, no big deal," he teased, poking him between the ribs. "But you should know that if Anthony finds out, you'll have a form to fill out." The older man had, for some reason, basically adopted the artist even though Daemon was technically his boss. He made sure Daemon ate, drank water, slept, all the good stuff. And despite having let Jordan hang around for so long, Dae could tell the bar tender had wanted to strangle his ex every time he saw him. "By the way, that nurse has her eye on you. Says you could be a model." Daemon was grinning impishly now, acting as if what the woman had said was a joke. Truth be told, he agreed with her. Gage was incredibly handsome, and if combed his hair a bit he'd be able to wow anyone he wanted. The fact he was still stuck in this town simply spoke of lack of connections. And Dae could help him with that.

"Oh hunny, if I wanted to see you pantless, I would have found some other way to do it...Not that I don't want to see that, by the way. But I feel like getting yet another scar on purpose would be overkill." Speaking of scars, he was done with letting other people hurt him. Counting the line on his cheek, he now had five permanent marks to remind him of Jordan. The stab wound, his face, and the three petite tattoos Jordan had insisted they get. One to claim Daemon as his boyfriend. The other two to remind him who the boss was, or some shit. At the time, it hadn't seemed like a bad idea. Jordan had paid, and they were in a place which could stay covered. Now, he was starting to understand why the tattoo artist had looked at him weird.

"I really appreciate you looking after me," Daemon smiled all the mockery having gone out of him in a huff. The amount of time Gage must have spent watching over him was humbling. "You have no reason to feel bad. I had it coming for a while. He always did say that if he couldn't date me, nobody else could either." It had taken Daemon a while to fully understand the meaning behind those words, and even longer to fully believe them. In fact, up to the moment Jordan had stabbed him, the artist had nurtured a small hope that his ex had been joking. "You're a seriously awesome person, man."

"Ah...yeah. Jordan was..." he swallowed the knot which had suddenly decided to appear in his throat, as he tried to push the words out. "Jordan took advantage of me." There. He'd said it. And after months of suppressing the words and ignoring everyone around him who tried to tell him, they tasted vile. "God damn it, I hate being wrong," He'd loved Jordan. With all of his heart, soul and body. And the douche had abused him in a way nobody had, pushing every button he found. It hurt. Not even getting kicked out had tore at him this much. He pressed his lips in a tight line, willing himself not to give in to the tears which awaited. He could cry after Gage left. Dae didn't need to humiliate himself even more than he had. But tears spilled down his face anyway, hot against his skin and blurring his vision. The artist said something unprintable, wiping the treacherous tears away with the palms of his hands, becoming more and more horrified when he found they wouldn't stop. "Sorry," he breathed, looking anywhere but at Gage, his cheeks colored crimson. "Shit." Really? He couldn't wait? Was that how it was going to be all his life? Being betrayed by his body in the most embarrassing moments? "I'm sorry."

"This light is terrible for my eyes," he tried, digging his nails in the skin between his thumb and pointer finger. Instantly, as if by magic, he stopped crying. It really was wonderful, the way you could trick your body to do your bidding. "I need to stop wearing contacts, don't I?" He'd searched it up a couple months before, after Jordan had screamed at him to stop acting like a child. Wikihow had detailed step by step instructions which Daemon had learned by heart, and they came in handy in moments like this one.

"Food sounds great," he said meekly, smiling at the feeling of Gage's hand in his hair. "Just...do me a favor? Get something low in calories?" he couldn't gain any weight because Jordan would...wait. What the hell? Jordan could go fuck himself. "Did I ever tell you you're awesome, Gage?" he asked, smiling at the other man. He was only now just starting to realize how much Gage had done for him. "Because you are. Awesome, that is. You're an amazing guy. Thank you. For watching over me, and for saving my ass, and...you know what, thank you for existing." Too many compliments, yes. He'd realized that, but it was too late to go back now. "Seriously though. I didn't end up looking this good by eating bread. No calories." Yeah, he'd mostly done it for Jordan, and before that, for his better paying customers. But he still liked looking in the mirror and seeing a flat stomach. Even with both those things past him, he wanted to look good. "Dude. Seriously, thank you. You have no idea how glad I was to see you when you walked in."
 

JodoBird180

Protein Powder is Deliciousness
*About two months ago, to this day*

Gage sat in the drivers seat of a totally not suspicous looking white van, Xavier, Ryan and Sean where in the back arming themselves. It was their first heist and Gage's hands wouldn't quit shaking. They all worked in silence, loading their rifles or handguns, and getting their bandana's on. They had decided that hockey masks where to, "Hey look at me bitch, I'm like every other bank robber," so they went with colorfully decorated bandana's instead that said, "Hey, can you tell we're all gay and thought this was an actually unique idea?"

Gage's was black with a perfectly painted skull and teeth that covered a little more than half his face. Xavier and Ryan went with badass galaxy patterns that if you starred at long enough, would look so trippy it was scary. Lastly, Sean went with a wolf's muzzle, he couldn't help but laugh when he first saw it. Not that he was making fun of him, but Sean always had a kind of dog or wolfish way to his walk, his talk, and sometimes his actions. A few speculated when he said he was raised by wolves as a joke, he wasn't actually joking. Either way, they covered their face, nodding, and exited the van quickly and quietly, not wanting to alarm anyone outside, yet anyway. Once they breached the inside of the bank, Xavier raised his rifle to the air and fired a single shot.

By this time, they where all used to the sound but everyone around them ducked for cover, several women screamed, and thats what caused Gage to flinch. "Everyone stay calm, ma'am, take your hands off your phone now or I will shoot." Xavier said, his voice was natually deep, but he spoke deeper so noone would recognise them if they heard their voices. The woman behind the counter hung up and rasied her hands in the air, "Thank you, now, everyone empty your pockets and I want all the cash you have in that bag right there." He said, gesturing to the one Sean held. Sean walked forward, walking through a field of trembling people on the ground.

Gage couldn't believe that he was going this, that he was here, terrorizing these people for their money, effectivley robbing them of their courage and money alike. He didn't like this, but it needed to happen. He wasn't about to sell himself to someone else for their own enjoyment, and he wasn't capable of doing anything in the first place, so that wouldn't get him far. He had constantly been asked to model, and a few times he actually had, but they didn't pay well enough for him to do it as a profession. So, he stooped to this level, stealing from people and disgracing himself for money. It's not like he had anyone to provide for other than himself, but he had a future in football, and he needed to pay for college unless he got a full-ride scholorship. Coach said his future was bright as long as he stuck with it, and that's what he planned to do.

The woman began filling their bag full with money and Ryan collected whatever cash was being given from wallets and purses. Gage was mostly there for looks. His height and build gave people the idea of him being capable of smacking someone so hard they would black out, if he had wanted to in the first place -which he didn't-.

*Back to present day*

Gage couldn't help but smile at the fact that Dea was crying. Not because he was enjoying the sight of the hurt he was going through, but becasue he felt like he shouldn't cry infront of him, it was a kind of . . . loving smile. "Don't appologise for crying. Sometimes it's better to cry where someone who cares to close by, then keep it all inside when your alone." He spoke as if he had experince with this sort of thing, but hell, people asked him for dating advice when he's never been in a relationship and still had his virginity intact. He wiped away a tear from Dea's cheek and smiled. "You got this far, now is when you heal." He nodded, "And yes, you said I'm 'awesome' about three times now," Glad someone thinks so for once. The only time anyone said Gage was awesome was when he won the schools games for them, or when he lent more money than he had or should give. "None of that bread shit, got it. I can do that." Before he turned out the door he ruffed up Dea's hair a little, then walked back downstairs, a little bit of a skip to his step.

"Someone's feeling better." The young nurse said to Gage. Gage nodded and smiled, "Just glad he's okay. I think I'll be able to sleep now without worrying as much." The nurse looked at him with a worried look, "You haven't eaten, have you? I'm Nevaeah by the way."

"Gage" He reasponded with a smile. "And no, I haven't. Not for the last five days, new record!" he reasponded only half joking. "Go eat or something, the food in the foodcourts pretty good. Lots of salad options, yaaay." She gave an annoyed look and groaned, "When all you eat is salad for several weeks at a time, it starts to lose its gusto, you know."

He nodded briefly, "I would imagine. Well, I'll leave you to work, I'm going to go 'eat'" He left her standing in the hall and used the elevator down to the main floor. Even though a gigantic weight was lifted from his shoulders, now that his distraction from his hunger was gone, he was finding it harder and harder to walk on his own, so there was no way he was using the stairs. When he got down to the lobby he felt increasingly light headed and he felt like he couldn't breath. I need to sleep, but one thing at a time here. He walked over to the nearest shop at the foodcourt and got Dea a salad, paying with the last of his cash he had on him -which much to his displeasure- was the last of what he had. He would, again, he late with his rent.

Once he got the salad he fast walked to the elevator and braced agianst the wall as his legs gave out. Damn it, just hold yourself together for two more minutes. When the door opened he walked inside and finally got to Dea's room and closed the door behind him. His head was spinning and he might throw up from the motionsickness he got from the elevator. He set the salad down and ran into the bathroom connected to the hospital room, kicked the door closed and threw up in the toilet. For a moment -because of the lack of substance in his system- he dry heaved before actually puking up what stomuch acid he had left from a few days ago. "Fuuuuck" he groaned and leaned agianst the wall opposite of the tiolet, for support.

Okay, thats it, go to fucking sleep and anyone who doesn't like it can screw off. As soon as he finished that thought, he threw up again. He sat there for a few moments to make sure he wasn't going to puke anymore. He stood, washed his face and walked out of the bathroom. He could tell he looked terrible, but he gave the best charming smile he could muster, "Sorry about that, I'm okay." As always, I'm always okay. It was like someone's unspoken rule to him. He was always okay and couldn't complain to anyone about anything, because if people saw your weaknesses they wouldn't trust your advice or metal stability. Though, his mental state was declining, and fast. He never asked for help, not even for money. He just went with his friends and decided that, what the hell let's rob a bank because we can't ask anyone for anything. Alot of people probubly thought that was out of pride, but it was actually out of cowardess. His stomuch felt hollow to the point of pain, and his vision was quickly being obscured. He took a step twoard the couch in the room and nearly fell over. "I'm gonna crash here if you don't mind, I . . . I need it." He made it over as quickly as he could move, and laid on the couch, quickly falling into a restless and painful sleep.
 
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Jester

Can we pretend airplanes are shooting stars?
Community Volunteer
*nine months ago*
Daemon awoke to his latest customer slipping from under the covers, and starting to throw his clothes on in a panicked hurry. The gentleman was actually quite good looking, with silver hair, gray eyes and a commanding posture. Well…he certainly didn’t look very dignified now, as he scrambled to make himself presentable. “Morning,” the man muttered, running his fingers through his hair in an effort to tame it. Daemon stretched in the guy’s bed, his back arching off the mattress and cracking loudly, much to his amusement. “Morning,” he replied grinning, as he eyed the lawyer. For someone who bleached his hair to a snowy white and wore suits on a daily basis, Sam was quite young. Well…young compared to most people who visited strip clubs. Daemon was known for not passing up customers, no matter their age or looks. The artist needed money too much.

“How does this work?” the lawyer asked, sounding mildly embarrassed. “I’m sorry, I should have asked before we…” Daemon smirked at the man. Was this the same person who’d insisted Daemon call him ‘master’ while they were going at it? Hard to believe. “It’s thirty per hour,” he yawned, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and coming up to hug him from behind. “You kept track?” Sam’s voice had a mildly impressed undertone to it, mixed with more than a little shame. He obviously wasn’t used to paying for sex, especially with a sixteen-year-old. And being hugged, for some reason. He looked down at Dae’s arms around his waist like they were this alien object which had sprouted from his back. “Do you do that to everybody?” he questioned, quite miffled. Daemon shrugged, resting his head on Sam’s back. “You smell really nice,” the artist answered, his voice coming out a bit muffled. “Nicer than most people, if I’m being honest. Especially this early in the morning.” Sam turned around, patting the top of his head awkwardly before managing to slide out of his grasp. “Do you know how long we…?”

“Around three hours or so, if you don’t count the thing in the bar.” Sam actually turned a light shade of pink at the memory, which was rather odd considering his porcelain skin wouldn’t usually permit for that. “Dear god,” the man groaned, so obviously having regrets that it was adorable. “You’re young enough to be my kid.” The artist shrugged. He got that a lot. “I won’t tell if you don’t,” he grinned, pulling his jeans on and slipping into his crop top-shirt…thing. He wasn’t quite sure what he was wearing could be classified as anymore. Looking troubled, the lawyer walked over and pulled out two hundred dollar bills, pressing them into his hand. “You’re overpaying,” Daemon noted, his eyebrows shooting up. “I can’t break change, man.” Sam was looking anywhere but at him as he muttered the words ‘’Keep it’’.

“You know, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” Daemon said conversationally as he reached over to the side of Sam’s bed and grabbed his bag, pulling out his eyeliner stick. “People do it all the time. I’m hot, you’re hot. So it’s okay if we do it, see?” Sam gave him a look which tethered on borderline confused. “Does this make me pedophile?” he asked, putting his watch on and tightening his belt. Daemon’s eyes widened half a fraction. “Jeeze, out of all the things you could be thinking about right now…No, it doesn’t. I look at least twenty, come on man.” Wow, did Sam think of him as a kid? In some places, he was old enough to have kids! The lawyer gave a groan which spoke of a lot of annoying things. “That doesn’t make this okay!” In all honesty, Daemon hated people who had a conscience. It would get in the way of things, and they wouldn’t end up calling him again. Plus, Sam paid well, or so it seemed. He’d be a valuable customer to have, if he decided to become a regular. Dae had a few customers who would ring him up once or twice a week. He charged less for them, since they’d done him the curtesy of proving they had no stds. It was all it took to get in his good graces, if he was being honest. He didn’t want to be one of those whores. Because yeah, that was what he was. A whore. And while he was not proud of it, at least it kept him off the streets and gave him two square meals a day. He wouldn’t go bragging around like, “Hey look how many people use me on a daily basis”, but it had been a few months, and his customers were changing from drunken nobodies to classier people like Sam. They fed him and let him stay the night rather than giving him twenty bucks for a blowjob and kicking him out of their car. He was happy, maybe for the first time in his life.

“Sam, man. Listen.” Daemon turned the lawyer around to face him, putting a hand under his jaw so he wouldn’t look away. “You liked it. I liked it. And yeah, it wasn’t perfectly legal. But you’re criminal defense, aren’t you? What’s a few rules bent?” Sam shifted uncomfortably, his gray eyes unable to meet Dae’s. “You’re sixteen,” the lawyer muttered. “And it’s a weird thing to feel guilty about considering the shit I’ve done. But it just doesn’t sit well.” The artist sighed. There was a customer who would never want him again. “That’s for you to decide, I guess,” he replied softly. “Just…don’t call the authorities on me, man. It’s literally the only thing keeping me from starving.”

He’d walked out of Sam’s home after that, thinking it was the end of them. The two hundred dollars in his pocket kept him from getting too sad. It was maybe a few weeks later that Sam called him. “There’s someone I want you to meet,” the man had said, all mysterious like. That was the day Daemon met his future boss. Leader of the friendly neighborhood mafia; someone who had no qualms about being with Daemon, and paying him well for his time. So, in a way, Samuel Collins had saved his life.

*Back to the hospital*

Daemon had fallen asleep after Gage left, and woke up to being rather brutally shaken by a familiar hand. “Hmm?” the artist murmured, noticing with distaste that someone had shoved a whole bunch of tubes in his arm once more. After a few minutes spent trying to figure out who the fuck was standing over him and why he looked so familiar, it clicked in place. “Nico!” Dae exclaimed, sitting up and pulling the man into a hug. The handsome, Latino man sank into his arms, giving a relieved sigh. He sat on the bed beside him, obviously not noticing the mattress sink under his weight. “Why didn’t you call?” he demanded, glowering at his former sex worker. “Why did I have to hack the security cameras to find out where you are?” The mafia boss nodded towards Gage’s unconscious form, obviously not done with his cascade of his disapproval. “Why are you in the same room as one of the gay bank robbers? And for fuck’s sake, why were you hanging out with Jordan?” Daemon shrank under Nico’s disappointed glare, before the way Gage was slumped on the couch fully entered his head. “Wait, hold up,” he breathed, terrified. He ripped the tubes out of his arm once more, high on sleeping agents and morphine, and swung his legs over the side of the hospital bed, getting an exasperated groan from Nico. The world started spinning as he did so, but he still managed to crawl his way to the couch and kneel beside Gage The artist put his hand on the man’s neck, checking for pulse. He can’t be dead, holly shit. Before he could find Gage’s heartbeat, his chest rose shallowly, making him lightheaded with relief. “I thought…” he choked, trying to figure out why exactly Gage was sleeping so deeply.

“We can’t be here,” he said after a few seconds. “Can you take us home, Nico?” he was begging, looking up at his former boss with wide eyes which had never failed him before. “You’re not well,” Nico protested. “I can’t feel shit…” artist answered, totally and completely honest. He ducked before Nico could smack him for swearing. While he was slower and clumsier than usual, he still managed to avoid his boss’ hand. Nico had this idea that Dae was his responsibility, and that he was not old enough to swear. Which was rather ironic considering the guy had hired him for sex. So…not old enough to swear, drink, or vote, but old enough to be used? That came with advantages. Like getting whatever the fuck he wanted whenever Nico was around.

“Nico…please? I really hate this place.” A well placed anxious look around, getting closer to him and latching on to his arm? That was literally all it took.

Maybe twenty minutes later, Nico was depositing Gage’s limp body on the couch which had magically appeared in Daemon’s living room, and making the both of them a coffee. “How did that get here?” Dae demanded as he sat down beside Gage, wincing. The meds were starting to wear off, but he wasn’t about to tell Nico that. If the Latino man had his way, they’d be back at the hospital and Dae would be kept in a comma until his body healed entirely. Now, he was holding Gage’s head on his lap, playing with his hair. The man had somehow slept through the entire thing, and Nico had made sure to be gentle. He did owe Gage one for saving his life. Nico scowled. “I brought it. You shouldn’t sleep on the floor. It’s not like you don’t have money to buy yourself a mattress.”

Daemon shrugged, starting to braid Gage’s hair as he slept. “Art supplies are expensive,” he whined. “And I’m still trying to make it as an artist, believe it or not.” Nico groaned. “Hate to break it to you buddy. But you’re no Leon Daninci.” Dae suppressed the urge to correct him on the name, which was rather hard considering Leonardo da Vinci was one of his personal heroes. “Um. I’ve gotten a lot better, actually.” Nico huffed incredulously. “I believe you, pet,” he said anyways, so obviously doubting it Daemon couldn’t help being hurt. “Seriously,” he pressed. “I’m good at more than sex.”

“Yeah, okay.” Those were the last words Nico said to him before he left.
 
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JodoBird180

Protein Powder is Deliciousness
*Gage's dreams*

Gage looked around confused. What was going on? He felt disconnected from his body and he looked around, seeing nothing but black. No- the darkness around his seemed to dissapate away from veiw, revealing his body on the ground, bleeding and twisted in unnatural ways. "The fuck?" The looked around, seeing a buidling, a sidewalk, and road, that's it. He stood over himself trying to understand what happened. He looked at the building agian. It was about three stories tall, it's paint faded and chipping away, revealing brick underneath the plaster. The wind blew but he didn't feel it, only saw it moving the fallen leaves on the ground and shaking the tree's. "I jumped." I shuddered at that thought and he racked his brain to remember why. He walked inside the building and saw nothing. Literally. There was only the same faded paint color on the walls, and a sickeningly red concrete floors. The room was completley empty, except for stairs.

He moved quickly up the stairs and quickly reached the top floor. "How did I get to the-" he stopped himself when he saw the roof access pannel. He walked over and ran his fingers over the top of the latch holding him inside -agian- not feeling anything. It was clearly rusted, not having moved in a while. He turned the makeshift knob and pulled the door down, accompanied by a loud scrapping noise. He hoisted himself up easily and stood on the roof. The wind was still blowing, only a little harder now, but he couldn't feel it like before. He stood on the edge and looked down, seeing nothing but the deserted road, and his body on the ground.

The darkness enveloped him agian.

"He killed himself. Why?" He recognised the voice speaking, and saw his mother, standing over his body. The weird thing was, she wasn't crying or angry, she actually had the look of someone who was having their time wasted on something unimportant. Her green eyes glowered down at her sons body without sympathy. "Mom. . .?" He stepped infront of her, waving a hand, but she didn't notice him, she just kept starring.

"We couldn't tell you ma'am." A young officer, about three years older than Gage stood near her, the look on his face reflected his mothers. "There's no way for us to know. I'm sorry." Gage looked at them confused, "Guys! I'm right here! Can't you see me? I'm right here, listen to me!" He tried to reach for his mother, but his hand was met with nothing, like she wasn't there to begin with.

His mother scoffed and walked away from his body. "It's not a problem officer. He never amounted to anything important in his life. Sure, he played sports, but the only thing he was known for was being a dissapointment to the family. Burn him, and don't both sending the ashes. No one in the family will care enough to do anything with them anyway. Probubly killed himself because he realised what a failiure he was. Didn't even have anyone important in his life." She walked out of the room, her brown hair only coming down to her shoulders, bobbing slightly with each step. "I tried. . .mom I tried, don't you know that?" He was beginning to panic and he couldn't help but begin to cry, tears flooding his eyes and he tried his hardest to wake up. He had to be dreaming, this can't be real!

"His death will go unnoticed. . .no one to remember him and nothing to remember him by." The officer shrugged, in an uncaring manner. "Less paperwork for me then." He quickly pushed the table with his body on it into a small drawer-like space, closed the small door, and walked off, dusting off his hands like he had no care in the world. "No. . . You can't leave me in there! NO!" Gage began to panic. Not even his own mother would remember him when he passed, nothing would be left for anyone to look back to and remember him when he was alive. He couldn't breath, couldn't move, and the darkness came back painfully slow, almost like it was mocking him, telling his he could have done better. "Wake up! Help me wake up!" He shouted at the darkness around him. The darkness seemed to move ever slower than before, in a defiant manner, coming at a snails pace. "Please" He muttered, "Let me wake up." He fell to his knees, waiting for the darkness to return to him.

*
Awake*

His eyes flew open in his panic and he was sure he had been crying. His eyes hurt slightly because of it, and his cheek was wet. What happened? He tried to look around but he couldn't see straight, everything was fuzzy. He wasn't tired anymore, infact, for the first time in a long time, he felt well-rested. He closed his eyes and rubbed them, trying to get the drowsyness of his slumber out of them. He laid there for a moment, trying to collect his thoughts. He had been dreaming, he remebered that, but what about? That seemed to illude him, and whenever he thought he remebered something, it ran away like a scared doe. "Fuck remembering," He muttered to himself.

Wait, where was he? He opened his eyes agian and was instantly greeted with Dea's lovely blue eyes and blue-purple hair. He starred for a moment, and realised his head was in his lap, and Dea was playing with his hair. "Hi" He whispered. He wasn't sure what else to say, but he remembered why and and Dea were in the same room to begin with, "Wait, why are you not in bed? Dea, you've been stabbed, you can't be. . ." he trailed off and looked around. He saw a room, maybe in an appartment and lots of art leaning on the walls or laying on the floor. He felt slightly groggy, so he could't quite see what they where paintings of, and looked back at Dea. ". . .uh- you can't be here. Wherever here is." He was too weak from hunger to move, so he continued to looked at Dea and eventually got a horrifying idea. "You didn't kidnap me did you? Please, please, tell me you didn't kidnap me!"

He sat up, and quickly laid back down. He was too weak to sit up on his own, so he needed to take it slow for a moment. He was laying on Dea's legs agian and he wanted to panic, "you didn't rape me either did you? I mean- I don't think your the kind of guy to do that but still- I'm still -unfortunately- a virgian right?" He eventually found it in himself to sit up and lean agianst the back of the couch, chest heaving as his thoughts went hay-wire. He took in a deep breath and looked over what he knew. It was the only way he could feel that we was regaining controll. Look over the facts and figure it out from there. He knew he was in an appartment, Dea was with him, and as far as he could tell, based on what he knew about him, this was Dea's appartment. Okay, so I'm in Deamon's appartment, that's a start. He pulled out his phone and looked at the time. He hadn't been out for a long time, but he must have slept good to feel fully rested.

About, fourty-five minutes he had slept. It was 3:43, and he ran his hands through his hair in frustration. Instead of taming his wild hair, his actions just made it worse. He didn't like not knowing things, and he didn't like not having answers. He looked at Dea and sighed. He pulled his hair out of his face, setting it at an angle and found a small braid. He felt it, taking in a deep breath and trying to consider everything. We're at Deamon's appartment, it's 3:45 pm, and I feel. . .hungry. "Do you by any chance have something to eat? I'm starving. It's funny how you could feel after not eating for five days." Yeah, that probubly wasn't the smartest thing to say, seeing as Dea was the reason he hadn't eaten. He didn't want to make him feel bad. "If not that's fine. I can run home and get food if I need to."

He looked at Dea agian and thought that maybe it was a good idea to run 'home' and get Morphine for him from the hospital. He could tell he was in pain and he hated that look on Dea's face. It would be an easy gig, and the perks of allowing Xavier to live with him was that he didn't mind going on easy gigs whenever they needed too. "Yeah, maybe I've been freaking out." Now he was just talking to talk, "I have anxiety not anigma." He chuckled and brushed some of Dea's purple-blue hair out of his face, and let his hand linger there for a moment. He caught his breath from his gaze and couldn't move. He wasn't sure he wanted to though. He rested his hand on the side of Dea's face and smiled. All of his worries seemed to go down the drain. All the facts told him that, yes, he had technically been kidnapped, he hadn't been raped. That he was sure of. He seemed frozen and couldn't move, like someone was holding him there untill be did something. But he didn't move, all he could do was stare into Dea's eyes, and listen to their breathing.
 

Jester

Can we pretend airplanes are shooting stars?
Community Volunteer
As soon as he was left alone with Gage, Daemon let out a happy sigh. It wasn’t like he didn’t like Nico. Hell. He loved the man half to death. But he was quite done with introducing Gage to people he’d fucked, thank you very much! Anyhow, why focus on that now? Gray afternoon light was streaming through his window, coloring everything in his room in beautiful shades of silver. Accompanied by the sound of rain pattering on the tin roof above them, and Gages steady breathing, it created a sense of peace the artist had been craving for quite some time. Plus, it was perfect painting light.

Now, one thing that could be easily observed about Daemon as a painter just by looking around the room was: he was a middle. What did that mean, exactly? He wasn’t horrible, but he wasn’t amazing either. Yes, as the various portraits around the room could testify, he had strong anatomical proportions, and could recreate what he saw in real life almost perfectly. But his paintings didn’t jump off the canvas either. There was nothing which made you want to look a second time at the artist’s work; it was what brought him to tears most days. He’d be up at three am, eyes red, hands trembling and on his knees before a canvas, putting in the final details. But every day, his work was in vain. Because it still looked boring, reassembling the work done by an hp printer. He had no talent. Every correct line, well shaded color, and real life replication had taken him years of practice to master. Online drawing courses, workshops, anything anyone could think off, he’d done it. So now he was neither terrible nor great. He was decent. But ‘decent’ hadn’t gotten him off the streets, as Nico liked to point out.

Now…Nico wasn’t there, was he? And Gage Tanner was lying with his head on Daemon’s lap. The house was warm, his friend was sleeping, and oh man, did he look sexy like this. All soft, and vulnerable. For someone who pretty much emanated self-control and strength Gage looked really peaceful in his sleep. Nimble fingers started playing with his friend’s hair, waving it in a small braid, just because how big of a braid could someone make with hair like the jock’s? It was soft and thick and beautiful, but still somewhat short. Maybe Daemon could convince him to grow it out just a little more. As Gage slept, the artist got ample time to study his features and commit them to memory. It was probably the last time Gage would let his guard down like that, and Daemon wanted to remember this face. The one which wasn’t clouded with worry or pain. He fought the urge to move Gage up so he was resting on his chest; he was having a lot of trouble keeping it pg already. He didn’t need any more incentive, now did he? Plus, he knew from experience how badly it messed someone up when you did stuff to them in their sleep. Even if that stuff was just waking them up with a kiss. Nico had made the mistake of doing shit to him while he was unconscious, and still had the scars from it. He’d been apologizing for a week afterwards, buying him stuff and hoping for forgiveness. Daemon would still giggle at the memory of that huge, handsome Latino man handing him a white puppy and coughing out some shit about the dog having looked lonely.

Daemon was broken away from his thoughts when Gage let out a soft whimper. No joke. With each second, his friend started growing more and more unwell. It was subtle at first. A shaky breath here, a jerked limb there. Daemon still held out hope it would pass and Gage would go back to sleep. He clearly needed it. But when burning tears started streaming down the man’s face and neck, he couldn’t hold back anymore. Delicate hands started shaking the man, hoping to pull him out of the nightmare, desperation blooming in his chest when Gage wouldn’t wake up. “Come on,” he breathed, “snap out of it, man!” Gage’s emerald eyes flew open the next second. There were a few moments in which the jock relaxed, tension leaving his body when his gaze landed on Dea. “Fuck remembering,” the man muttered somewhat out of the blue, making Daemon arch a perfect eyebrow. “Hi,” Gage whispered, green eyes meeting blue. He looked so young like this. Dae wanted to capture this moment forever. Even with his hair messy as fuck and with tears drying on his cheeks, Gage Tanner looked peaceful and, well, sexy as fuck. Dae supposed that was just hormones firing up in his face. All that was forgotten once Gage figured out they weren’t at the hospital any longer. “Okay, look,” the artist started. “Before you freak out-”

“Wait, why are you not in bed? Dae, you’ve been stabbed, you can’t be…” Dae let out a soft groan. Stop talking for a second and let me explain, you dumbass! Was this what having friends under the age of thirty was like? “Listen, I-” But then Gage started up again. “…uh, you can’t be here. Wherever here is.” Okay, well first, don’t tell me how to live my life. Second, shut up for a few seconds. Don’t make me pull out the duct tape! “Please, please, tell me you didn’t kidnap me!” He sat up, much to Dae’s alarm, and after a few moments fell back down limply, in a way which spoke of something having gone terribly wrong. “Well…” the artist mused, not knowing whether to be laughing at the fact they had kinda, maybe, sorta kidnapped Gage, or be concerned that he couldn’t sit up on his own. “I guess I kinda did kidnap you, my man…” he giggled.

“In my defense, you look real fucking hot in your sleep, and I didn’t want to leave you alone with the nurse. She so wanted a piece of you.” Yeah okay, that was a lie. And it backfired right in his face. There was a question about Dae of all people having raped Gage. “Is that what you think of me?” the artist sputtered, gasping without a shred of mock theatricality. “For real, Gage?” Of course, the jock was sputtering out an explanation, trying to patch up his mistake, but Daemon wasn’t hearing any of it. “No, Gage! I’m not that kind of guy. Have you even looked at me once?” Never mind everything about him screamed ‘bottom’. Hell, forget about the fact that repaying Gage for saving his life with rape would make him a real crappy person. Don’t even consider that after having been stabbed, he’d probably pass out from the pain if he tried anything within the next month or so. “I used to be a prostitute, man! If anyone knows anything about rape, it’s me!” He was trembling with rage, suddenly needing to put a foot of distance between Gage and himself. Do I look like a predator? Is that what people think of when they look at me? “I’m still-unfortunately- a virgin?” Oh…that explained it. All at once, the anger disappeared into thin air. Tadaaa! “Oh…um.” Daemon was left fumbling for words as his friend sat up, looking around the room. “Okay, well, um…good? I guess? First time should be special, or some shit? Like, do the whole hotel room and flowers crap? Because you’ll want to remember it fondly? I mean…what the fuck am I talking about?” Who was he to give Gage advice about losing his virginity? Hell, Daemon didn’t even remember his first time. It would have been crappy anyways. Sex with a virgin always was. First timers were always so awkward, sometimes having no idea how to use their equipment (which Daemon always found hilarious, even if he wouldn’t admit it to anyone’s face). You’d think after years of being a horny teenager, most of them would have figured out what goes where. Then again, he’d only been hired by teenagers who weren’t gonna get some in any other way. The nerds or the glee club kids. The fact they’d had the balls to hire him impressed him, even if nothing else about them did.

Daemon zoned back into the conversation when Gage asked for food. Well thank fuck for that. Also, it’s been five days? You stupid mf! “Yeah, a friend brought food over,” Daemon said, saying an inward thank you to Nico and his stupid parental instincts. His boss had hidden a huge pot of MacNCheese in the oven, thinking Daemon didn’t notice. There would have been fighting words if Nico hadn’t left before Dae could say anything. “Are you allergic to anything?” If so, Dae could always ring up the nearby Swiss Chalet. They had healthy stuff, and he could make sure Gage was eating enough to make up for the past few days. Thanks Nico. Yes, his boss was annoying, but ever since Dae had stopped taking money for sex and opened the coffee shop, Nico had no one to take care of 24/7. So all his ‘dad impulses’, as he liked to call them, built up until he saw Dae again.

At that exact moment, the stab wound decided it had been ignored long enough, and sent him a friendly ‘Hey mf, I’m here! Pay attention to me!” Judging by the look on Gage’s face, Dae must not have done a very good job of hiding his pain. “I’m okay,” he grumbled, sitting up a bit straighter on the couch. Nothing to see here, darling. “Yeah, maybe I’ve been freaking out,” Gage said, “I have anxiety not angina.” A little giggle escaped Dae, but it died in his throat when the handsome man brushed a few strands of hair out of his eyes, and left his hand there. “Oh. Okay. Hi,” The artist, in all honesty, hadn’t been expecting the impact that small, innocent gesture had on him. He was flustered for the first time in years. And then that smile…oh dear god. If he’d been struggling with keeping it pg when the guy was asleep, now it was a battle with fucking cannons and trumpets. His skin had heated up where Gage had left his hand, the man’s soft touch sending a pleasant shiver down Dae’s body. Slowly, almost afraid Gage would push him away, Dae wrapped his hands around Gage’s waist, having to move a bit closer to do so. “You were really worried, weren’t you?” Dae breathed blue eyes meeting green, wanting to do so much more, but afraid. Afraid Gage didn’t want him, or that he did, but he would change his mind the next day. That he’d regret being with him. God damn it Dae. Why are you only good at this stuff when it doesn’t matter? “Okay, so.” The artist began, somewhat nervously. “I was thinking. After you eat and sleep, can I take you out for a coffee?” Like on a date? Because I like you a lot, but I’ve never physically had to ask anyone out, and dear god I want to kiss you so bad. Tilt your head just so, my hands in your hair, my lips on your jaw and down your neck. Maybe I’m moving too fast. The thing is I’m hurting a lot, but when I’m around you, it hurts a little less. When you’re in the room, I panic slower, and I can think clearly. And you’re such a nice person, and I love you as a friend, and you probably don’t want me as a partner because you can see what a mess I am, but god Gage, you’re so fucking amazing and I’m so lucky to have met you, and I like you a lot. Please? Please, please say yes? God damn it make the first move or push me away, because I’m freaking out over here.
 

JodoBird180

Protein Powder is Deliciousness
*Close to four months ago*


"Will you hurry up? Jesus, T, for a tri-sport athlete your slow as fuck. God Xav, your no better, I thought you ran the mile in Track!" Sean barked as he ran ahead of Gage and Xavier. Xavier, who was extremely out of breath somehow managed to scoff, "Says the dog! Catching a train is NOT the same as running in track!"

They were running alongside a train, the tracks about fifty feet above lake Pend Oriental, the amount of room for them to move was thinning to barley wide enough for them to even run, let alone side-by-side. Sean was about a foot ahead of Gage, and Xavier keeping up with them both though not without obvious struggle. For the guy who was used to running up to a mile in five minutes flat, he seemed to be able to run out of breath faster than either of them. Despite his lungs screaming at him to stop fucking running and breathe, he was enjoying this. Racing a train was almost as fun as what was to come.

Gage watched as Sean launched himself into an open car ahead of them, and kept track of what car it was. For a moment he faltered and struggled to take another step, but pushed himself to take another few strides, stretching his abnormally long legs forward, reaching the open car in seconds. Now for -yet another- tricky part. Getting into the car. He took in a deep breath, and threw his weight to the right, thrusting all his weight and strength into the car next to him, landing with a loud thud and strangled grunt. “Save that for the bedroom dude!” Sean laughed. He rolled his eyes and stood, moving to the edge of the train car and offered a hand to Xavier, “C’mon! So close!” Xavier took one more step and grabbed his hand, Gage pulling him in with unusual ease.

“Hey, Sean! You see that?! Ole T grabbed my hand!” Xavier said, his chest heaving as he laid on the ground. Sean nodded, “Cute man, now you gotta make the next move.” He said as he pulled him up. Gage couldn’t help but roll his eyes as he laughed, his lungs tying itself into knots, saying ‘the fuck you doing? BREATHE!’. He stood near the edge of the car and watched the water go by at scary fast paces. “Running out of track! Let’s go!” They all slipped off their shirts and tied them around their wrists, as not to lose them in the landing.

In an instant, he was running out of the car, toward the racing waters beneath them. Gage and Sean jumped first, soon followed by Xavier, his face reflecting how fucking scared he was. All Gage would hear was the wind rushing through his hair and past his ears, and flipped himself mid-air to wave up at Xavier, who was -as far as Gage could tell- saying "I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die," and flipped Gage off when he notice him waving, "Yeah fuck you too!" He yelled back up to him. He changed his position into a kind of diving position. This whole thing seemed to go in slow motion, and he couldn't help but compare it to a slow-mo action movie scene, the only difference was that there wasn't an explosion and -this time- there was nothing illegal about what they did. He hit the water head on, and was instantly knocked out of breath again. Soon after him he could feel Sean landing, and they quickly re-surfaced. "OH SHIT!" Sean dove back underwater as Xavier landed on top of him. Though, the landing was not an attractive one. Instead of DIVING like any normal person, he belly flopped on top of it! Xavier came back up gasping, his skin red and in some places, burnt from the landing.

"HOLLY SHIT! I hate you both! I landed ONTOP of the water assholes!" He said, sputtering and wiping water out of his eyes. Sean resurfaced underneath him, flipping Xavier over. "Yeah, and you landed on top of ME!" Xavier just scoffed and began swimming toward the beach. Sean looked at Gage, and Gage shook his head laughing, swimming after Xavier.

Once they reached shore, they got back to their friends, and Gage was elated to be surrounded by people who cared about him. Luke, for one, had been a friend of his for years now, Shanon had been close with him for a while, and a few others surrounded them both. "Holly crap you guys, I can't believe you jumped. I wouldn't have."

"Of course you wouldn't have Luke, you’re a coward and you know it." Sean said and sat down. "Yeah I know. But watching you guys was entertaining." Xavier scoffed, "That's because we have our shirts off kinky." Luke nodded, though he didn't seem hurt about it, "Maybe, though I only hoped to see one person without a shirt." In that instant, they all, in unison, looked at Gage. "Holly crap guys really? I'll be damned, you guys did this just to get something out of it?" The all looked at each other and nodded, "Yeah pretty much" Sean said with a smirk, "I have to say I'm not disappointed." "Why is it you've never had a boyfriend man? I mean, fuck, I'd have you any time." "Yeah, I know you would. I want something that matters, and all four of you don't want a serious relationship." Luke seemed somewhat offended, "Ouch man, that hurts." "Maybe, but he's not wrong."

*Back to the present*

His heart melted in an instant. He saw how much Dae was hurting, either physically or mentally, though most likely a little of both. He couldn't stand seeing him like this, all he wanted was for it to go away. To see a real smile on his face, to see the light he had in his eyes before all this shit went down. Was that too much to ask? Apparently, but he wasn't just going to give up trying. Dae's hands landed on his waist and he nearly wanted to pass out. Oh heaven above what was happening? Did Dae expect him to do something? Did he expect Dae to do something? Why so many questions? Why was he doubting himself about his questions? "You were really worried, weren't you?" He tilted his head slightly in confusion, "About what specifically? I-I'm worried about a lot of things." He felt defeated, and he needed to admit it to someone before he exploded.

Luke and his depression, Aunt Jamie is still mourning, mom and dad are arguing more frequently than usual, Josh and his countless problems. At the bottom of his long list was himself. He was probably depressed, his plate was fuller than anything he could something with, his anxiety was spiking so hard he wanted to jump off a building . . . that's what he dreamt about. His fear of being alone after his death and being forgotten. Add that to everything he was going through, add alone time, which allowed him to think, and you've got a Gage Tanner. A mess that needs cleaning, but how do you fix something that can't be seen? You can't. He knew that perfectly well, and he was probably going to die because of the mental shit he was going through, and whatever physical crap as well. Good, now he had physical health problems, just what he needed.

His thoughts rambled on until Dae asking him to coffee. He froze. Well, kinda, if he hadn't already frozen after he touched the guy in the first place he would definitely have frozen then. For a moment he had a hard time believing Dae had asked him out in the first place. Him, Gage Tanner! Out for coffee! Then he doubted he was talking to him, and looked around the room.

They were alone, and he looked back at Dae. "Me? Like, me, you’re talking to me right?" He pointed to himself like an idiot and he could tell his face lit up like a fucking lightbulb. He knew the answer, but it took him a minute to put it into words. He was completely shocked down to the bone at the fact Dae had asked him out. "Holly shit" he muttered, "Sorry, I-I guess I'm a little shocked- oh screw it, yeah!" You’re an idiot, you know that? You’re a real fucking idiot who doesn't know ENGRISH and can't speak for shit. "Sorry" he repeated himself, "Of course, coffee sounds great. I already know I won't be able to sleep, so maybe food and coffee? I can pay, I'll just need to make a call real quick."

He smiled and stood, pulling out his phone, and quickly called Xavier. "Hey Xav, I need a favor. No, fuck you, I just woke up too so suck it up." He walked into the bathroom which he had no idea was there, and grumbled. "Calm your tits will you? Fuck, Luke get off your brother! We're nowhere near Alabama for you to do that shit man. Anyway, I need you to do a quick run. The hospital. On Straight- yeah that one. Painkillers and bandages. This is the last time I'm having you do this. This is the last time I'm doing this. Yeah the bank too if you want. Sure, uh- enough for a few dozen paintings and food for two. It doesn't matter! My business is my business, I don't ask what you and your brother do that keeps me awake at night, do I? Okay nosy, just do it alright, thanks, bye asshole." He hung up and groaned. The car is still in the hospital parking lot!

He wasn't sure why, but he loved his car more than almost anything. It was his first, and if he took care of it, last car. It was small, only seating five people and it was uncomfortably cramped if you put all five people in it. That, and being 6'1" made everything cramped and claustrophobic. He bought it when he was, ooooh, 14, and waited until he gt his license to drive it, like a good child would have. It was a 2006 Kia Rio, a bright cherry red color. Yeah, it wasn't the most attractive, and yeah, the cooling system was giving out, but he loved it none the less. It was reliable, and his most favorite thing in the world was rolling down the window and listening to country as he drove to his parents’ house for a visit. He used to do it with his dad as a kid, and it made him all nostalgic. For some reason, when he really needed to unload and take a second to relax, he would go for a drive for two or three hours, blasting country music instead of rock. He loved his car, which he promptly named "Little Red".

He looked in the mirror and sighed. His hair was a mess, he looked exhausted as fuck, and he had no way of cleaning himself up for the most part. He ran his fingers through his hair, stuffing his beanie in his back pocket to keep it out of the way. Well, that was an improvement at least. He ran the cold water and washed his face for a moment. Though, in an instant, his nose began to bleed. "Not now, please not now!" He wiped away the blood on the sleeve of his black hoodie and it finally stopped. Much better. He walked out with a smile and was about to say something when he tripped himself. He fell flat on his face and after a moment looked for what he could have tripped over. Instead he chuckled and patted the floor. "Yep, the floors okay, don't worry. Oh, and gravity check worked as well."


Yeah, you’re some smooth shit. Smooth as gravel on a camel on a mountains crest. Yeah, that's some reaaaal smooth shit. He chuckled and stood, brushing himself off, "Well, that was fun, say, would you mind if I took a quick shower before we left? I look like something that was ran over then smudged around a little. I'm having a friend bring over my wallet and a change of clothes."
 
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Jester

Can we pretend airplanes are shooting stars?
Community Volunteer
*Six months before*

Daemon was at home, the entire place dark. Grey light streamed through cracks in the drapes, giving everything grotesque shadows. After pulling a triple shift at the coffee house, he’d stumbled here half asleep, and in need of food. Not that what they served at the coffee house wasn’t food, but…he wanted to eat something which wasn’t bread or filled with sugar.

It was late, maybe 11 pm, and he’d curled up in his little spot on the floor with a clumsily made salad and a glass of whiskey. His hands were shaking and his eyes were red. Whether it was from crying himself to sleep the night before, or the fact he hadn’t managed to keep anything down, he didn’t know. All he knew was, Daniel had offed himself. Hell, the guy had died a few weeks before, but it had taken Daemon that long to process. At first, he’d kept going, as if nothing had happened. No, Daniel wasn’t dead. He was out sick. He was on break. He was buying some cigarettes. Daniel was still there. He was just arranging stuff in the back. It hadn’t worked forever, obviously. Over the course of a couple days, it had slowly started to sink in. The man would no longer be working side by side with him, making ‘that’s what she said’ jokes, and stinking of smoke. Daemon would never again have to stop by his house and drag him out of bed. There would be no more sending text messages at 1 am, or finding sticky notes placed around his house, reminding him to take out the trash and do the laundry.

The week before, Dae had woken up and sent Daniel a good morning text out of habit. They’d made a deal, years before. They would both wake up at six am and send each other a meme. Whoever sent it first got 50 cents from the other. By then, Daniel owed him a good sixty bucks. The bastard had never gotten to pay him back. That was one reason to have stayed alive, damn it! There had been something different that morning. The text had bounced back, with a message. ‘Sorry, this number no longer exists’ had been blinking on his screen mercilessly. Dae had stumbled upon reading it, his heart nearly giving out. Daniel was truly, and completely gone. And without him, the artist didn’t know how to exist.

Once he’d fully processed, getting out of bed had been an impossibility. A few shots of tuica had helped him go to work. Daniel had sworn on the drink, and surprise surprise, it helped Dae make it through a twelve-hour shift. And then the walk home. The next day, too. A couple days were all he needed to get hooked, learning to love the pleasant burn down his throat, cloudy thoughts, and foggy feelings…Now here he was alone and dangerously sober, with ten full bottles of whiskey and ten hours to kill. Let the fun begin.

He pulled out his phone and went through his message history, his masochistic side coming into play. For every dad joke Daniel sent, he got to down a glass. Lucky him, the guy sent a lot of dad jokes. It was only about an hour in when he got the brilliant idea to call Jordan. That wouldn’t backfire, right? Sure, he didn’t know Jordan very well, and yeah, he was fairly certain the guy didn’t exactly like him. BUT. He was HOT. And he’d most certainly be ‘dtf’. Yeah. That was what he needed. A night where somebody else completely owned him.

It would take his mind of things if nothing else. Ever since Nico had claimed him, nobody else had dared to touch him. And now that the thing with Nico was over, he had no customers. Jordan wouldn’t give a crap about Nico, though. He didn’t give a crap about anyone. That was why Dae liked him. Jordan picked up on the seventh call, so very obviously pissed it was hilarious. “What the fuck do you want?” he snapped. “Mmmm…well?” Dae’s voice was soft, and he was slurring, struggling to get the words out. “…you. Down the screw?” There was a long pause at the other end of the line. “Are you drunk?” Dae giggled. “Mmmaybe?” There was an even longer pause, followed by a clipped “I’ll be there in twenty.” Jordan shut the phone off first, which was a small blessing, because Dae’s vision had glazed over, and he wouldn’t be able to find the hang up button if he tried.

When Jordan got in, (Dae didn’t exactly remember how) he took one look at the artist, and then he was on top of him, holding him down. It was rough, and possessive, and hell, it was exactly what Dae had needed. And afterwards? They drank some more. And by we, Dae meant, he drank, and Jordan watched. The guy had given him a somewhat impressed look upon noticing the two empty bottles of alcohol, but refused to touch any.

*five months before*

Jet Pack Blues by Fallout Boy was playing softly from speakers tucked away behind the counter. Daemon had his head on a table, legs tucked underneath him, eyes closed, half dreaming. On the ground underneath his chair, shards of glass littered the floor, shining like a million stars in the warm candle light which surrounded the café. Anthony was wiping aggressively at the counter, struggling to get out some rather dubious stains left behind by a thoughtless customer, and Nico stood by, glaring at him from beside the bartender. “Please don’t be mad,” Daemon groaned, not finding the strength to sit up. The artist could practically feel Nico’s anger, even though the man didn’t dignify him with a response. “Please?” The artist was practically begging. “Why would I be mad?” he snapped. “You only blacked out, right?” Daemon swallowed the bitter response sitting on his tongue. He’d gone home the night before, and the silence had been so loud. A glass had turned into three. Then six. Then three bottles. Then he’d passed out. “You got drunk after an AA meeting, Daemon!” Nico spit, going over to his chair and carefully stepping over the broken glass. “This needs to stop!” Daemon was only now realizing he’d dropped a glass, which was why the floor underneath his feet was full of glittering shards. “But…why? I don’t get why you’re making me go to them anyway. I’m fine.”

His former employer kneeled beside him, hand under his jaw, forcing him to make eye contact. “Do you know why Daniel died?” the older man demanded. Daemon’s vision blurred even as he tried to focus on his face. He was so fucked up he couldn’t even think straight. “Hmmm?” The man let out an annoyed growl, snapping his fingers in Daemon’s eyes, focusing the artist’s attention back to him. “Daniel died from alcohol poisoning.” Dae let out a small, miffled noise, setting his head back on the table. Everything was so damn loud. “He went in a comma,” The man said softly. “And died. If you keep it up, you’re gonna end up like him.” Daemon shrugged. “That’s kind of the point,” he breathed.

“NO, damn it!” the older man hissed, picking him up by his shirt and slamming him into the nearest wall. His head hit the brick with an audible crack, and small bits of rubble fell from the ceiling, showering them in red dust. “You don’t get to do that!” Nico was practically vibrating with rage as he held on to Dae, his normally brown eyes appearing dark purple from the light. “Yeah, life sucks! But I swear to all that is unholy that if you talk like this one more time, I will take you to the bloody mental hospital myself!”

“Oh yeah?” Ooo, this should be interesting.

“Try me, whore.”

“I just might.” Let’s see what you do now, eh, Nico?

Daemon watched Gage, his reaction surprising him quite a bit. Had the guy looked in the mirror? Ever? Also, how the fuck was he still a virgin? Wasn’t that against the law when you were that good looking? The dude was a jock for fuck’s sake. You’d think someone would have given it up for him by then. Speaking of giving it up. Dae didn’t remember his first time. Didn’t want to. There was a vague memory of cheap perfume, loud music, and multiple people. He couldn’t place their faces, names, or the sound of their voices. Hell, he might have been around fifteen. No one cared, eh? The artist hadn’t bothered with the whole flowers and hotel shit, for obvious reasons. It wasn’t the fucking 1980s anymore. Nobody held out until marriage, and it was a good fucking thing. You didn’t get better at it unless you did it, for fuck’s sake. Plus. He felt no regret. None. Fuck it, he’d been a prostitute. Sex meant nothing. Nada. It was a good thing he hadn’t waited. Right? Otherwise, he would have been a lil wimp about it on the streets, and he’d be dead.

But then Gage’s entire fucking face lit up, and Dae forgot how to function like a normal human being. Maybe that’s what it’s about. That’s why they wait; for this kind of excitement. Now that was a smile which would make people do stupid shit. It was the kinda smile girls tripped over themselves to see, and guys were lucky if they got once in their life time. And in all honesty? Even though he hoped he was better than that, in that moment, he would have done almost anything to keep him smiling like that. When his friend had looked around the room, as if he doubted Dae was speaking to him, his heart might have broken just a little. You’re not the two dime hoe here, Gage, he’d wanted to say. You’re worth more than that, damn it! A small voice at the back of his head he’d grown to despise over the years, whispered to that same tune which was engraved in his brain, his blood and bones. ‘Yeah, but you’re not.’ Shut up.

The moment Gage left, Dae sunk into the pillows, aching for a cigarette. Or a bottle. Yes. The empty room was screaming at him, and two or four glasses of liquor would have fixed that right up. NO. You’re better than this! An alien pain in his stomach was starting to make itself known, and with each second it seemed to grow, draining the room of color and his face of blood. How about that cigarette, hmm? Or a joint…mmm, that will make this all better. Dae choked back a sob as the silence got louder and louder, deafening him. He could hear his own heartbeat, his breath, and was aware of every little thing touching his body. He’d been there before. After years of dealing with this exact thing, the artist had become a master at recognizing the beginning of an attack. The tightening in his chest, the struggle to breathe, and everything slowing to a near stop…It was different from the, but just as unpleasant. Overtop the horrible stillness, Gage murmuring something. The artist couldn’t make out exactly what his friend was saying, but the sound of his hushed voice managed to bring him back from the edge he’d been teetering on. He listened to the man’s low tones, letting the musical quality of the jock’s words lull him into a sort of calm state.

Deep breathing now, Dae was focusing on how air moved through his body, the way he had complete control over it. Okay. Good. You’re okay. You’re safe. It’s alright. It was a few minutes before he could regain control, and a great many more to actually start thinking again. Oh man, Jordan would have lost it if he’d seen then. Near tears for no reason at all? Ha. The guy wouldn’t have been able to deal with him for a week afterwards. You had no reason for that one, though…all he did was go to the bathroom. That was the funny thing about anxiety attacks. They didn’t always show up when one expected them too. Okay, but, jeeze, am I that clingy? Gage had been gone for a maximum of six minutes, maybe less! So fucking childish.

He used the sleeve of his shirt to rub at his eyes, discovering he had managed to keep the tears at bay. Thank fuck. Okay, you need to get up now. Struggling, the artist pulled himself up from the couch, using the armrest as something to drag himself up with. Whenever he moved, the wound would send a flare of pain up through him. Which was fun. But, by the time Gage was walking out of the bathroom Dae had pulled on a paint-splattered jean jacket, stuffed his wallet in its ridiculously undersized pocket, and combed his hair, putting some jell through it.

“Oh yeah, I care more about whether the floor’s okay than whether you hurt yourself,” Dae said somewhat dryly, walking over to him and using the wall as sort of a railing. “Sure you can take a shower. I can give you a change of clothes as well…my sister keeps buying me stuff that’s way too big.” He looked down at himself, and then at Gage, mentally making a checklist of what kinda stuff the guy would like. He was a lot bigger than Dae, and notably more muscular. Plus, his sister kept sending over really manly looking shit, like army jackets and leather, so he had a feeling Gage would like them. She seriously didn’t know how to shop for him, which was all well, no offense to her. You just couldn’t pay him to wear the stuff she bought. Well…actually you could, but that was only because he’d do almost anything if you paid him enough.

“Does your friend know my address?” Daemon asked, his eyebrows shooting up. “Also…you said you were hungry. My ex-boss left some food when he brought us over, so I’ll warm it up while you’re in the shower.” While he talked, he opened the door to the small room he should have been sleeping in, but was using as a storage space for clothes and makeup instead. Walls were painted in an emerald green which was a bit much on the eyes, the floor was completely covered in ancient nail polish bottles, hair dye, brushes, and clothes. Clothes everywhere. “Okay, don’t judge me,” Dae said somewhat self-consciously, doing a funny little dance which involved hopping over a stuffed heart pillow and three semi-empty bottles of tequila, to reach the closet. Upon sliding the door open. The artist revealed an almost eerily clean storage space, with towels folded crisply and a pleasant scent of mint. “Believe it or not, I used to be a really neat person,” the artist muttered, more to himself than to Gage. That was the weird thing about his apartment. There were some spots which were kept obsessively clean, while others (like the floor in every room) was buried under painting supplies, old drawings and recipes.

“I’ll pull myself together,” he promised, handing Gage a clean towel and a bottle of honey-lemon shampoo. “I just…look, I’m sorry. It’s hard to do anything when I’m here alone.” Most nights, it was hard just being there. That was one of the reasons he’d stayed with Jordan for so long. The guy showed up without calling, whenever he felt like it. It had always been a nice surprise to hear the doorbell and see him standing at his step. “Okay…you have to let the water run a bit so it warms up,” Daemon said, snapping back into the present and realizing he’d zoned out. “Sorry about that. Hell. Sorry. I’m sorry.” He didn’t know what he was apologizing for, but he felt like he should anyway. The situation kind of called for it, didn’t it? “Oh, and there’s like, bath salts next to the tub if you want to use them. I’ll bring you some clothes by the time you’re done, okay?”
 

JodoBird180

Protein Powder is Deliciousness
*Some three years ago*

Gage sat in the park near the center of the city, enjoying his time out. His parents finally let him out of the house and allowed him to stay out 'till 11, man did being fifteen pay off. Well- almost sixteen, he's turning sixteen in two months. The park lights cast an orange glow down onto him, that for some strange reason, he hated beyond nearly all reasoning. It gave him an unwelcome eerie feeling like he was being watched despite being in the light. The wind blew, cool and crisp, blowing his black hair out of his face as he stood to wait for his slow as hell friends to show up. Finally, Sean, Luke, and Xavier pulled up in Xavier's piece of crap car, and he waved to them. Nothin' better than spending his time out, and out with his closest friends no?

They were technically his only friends, but he had heard that's usually how Freshman year went. No one liked you other than people in your class, and they wouldn't like you until you were a Junior. Two years felt like an eternity away, but he met them all in the acting, so he had that going for him. The acting class was where the weird and gay people went to be -well- weird and gay. No one judged them, not even their teacher. The only thing she asked was to keep down the cussing, and he never seemed to have a problem with that. Teacher's pet? Quite possibly.

"Gage, how in the hell did you ever convince your parents to let you come out this 'late'? Aren't they the biggest pricks in town?" Sean was the kind of person to be upfront, regardless if it was hurtful or not. That and he got creepy sometimes. Like, inhumanly creepy, but they never said anything. He claimed to have been raised by wolves, and they all laughed -including Sean- but they all questioned if that was a fact or not. If he wasn't joking.

"It's only nine guys, late would be eleven. But I have NO idea, for the record, my parents love me, they aren't pricks." He said defiantly, holding is head high in his pride. "Oooh no sweetheart, ELEVEN is early. And yeah, they are." Xavier grinned, slapping him on the back. "But listen, we can only be here for ten, Luke and I need to get back. Grounded." Xav huffed and glared at Luke. "It wasn't me who burnt the milk to the stove! I just didn't clean it up." Before Xav could retort, Sean cleared his throat, "I too have to get going soon, they're my ride. Sorry man." Gage nodded. It wasn't that big of a deal, his parents didn't care if he was alone or not as long as he carried his phone and texted them to check-in by the hour. Protective much? He's almost sixteen and is still being babied like a four-year-old. It's not fair. Xav and Luke get to drink with their parents, Sean gets to handle a gun, why can't he? God he hated his parents sometimes. It's not like he's not trustworthy, his parents always claimed: "We trust you, just not other people." "It's fine guys. I'll just head into town and look around the open stores for a while. No biggy."

-An hour later-

They all decided to ignore Xav and Luke's parents and stayed out until about 10:30, walking around the base of the town, looking in the stores and generally causing a ruckus. They were yelled at by several people to keep it down, one of them being a rather angry looking bartender. Man, life was great. Gangly and awkward kids running down the streets, yelling and pushing and laughing their hearts away. It didn't matter what was going on with any of them, because right now they were free to do what they pleased, and what they pleased was pissing off old people and tripping each other as they ran passed. Yep, good friends knew how to play rough without actually hurting someone. Sean was ahead of all three of them, Gage catching up to Luke, Xav in his wake. In an instant, he was tripped, both Luke and Xav running ahead, laughing and joking, well, until Xav tripped Luke.

"Catch up losers!" Sean barked back at them, back peddling. He stood and brushed himself off, his palms raw from catching himself before he landed face-first into the concrete. The street light casting down the orange-tinted light that he always hated, and he took off again. Luke had gotten up before him, running after his brother shouting threats as he ran. He jogged past an alley and didn't glance in it for a second.

He was grabbed, a hand over his mouth, an arm around his neck, pulling him into the dark. Panic rushed through him faster than the speed of light. He yelped in fear, but it was only met by a hand keeping him quiet. He tried pulling away from whoever had him but to no avail. A sharp pain stabbed his neck, throbbing with his heartbeat. His heart raced as he was dragged into the back of the alley, and a cold harsh voice spoke in his ear. "Keep quiet, understand, and nothing needs to happen to you or your friends." In that instant, he was shoved to the ground, and he starred up at an older man, standing over him with a knife. His hair was graying and thinning, though his face seemed too young to be any older than 36. Clothes tattered and worn, stains covering practically every inch of his button-down shirt and tattered jeans. He was taller than Gage, and stronger to overpower him so easily.

"Empty your pockets. Now." He barked at him. He was too frozen with fear to move. The wind blew, picking up the leaves and dirt, a small spot on his neck grew cold from the sudden air, nipping at the skin and freezing it painfully. He was numb with fear, his mind racing as fast as his heart. His neck throbbed and the wind continued to chill it, sending it stringing. He reached to touch it, but the man grabbed his hand, pressing the knife to his neck again, "If you won't do what you're told, then I'll have to teach you to do it you little shit." He picked Gage up with unusual ease, slamming him aggressively into the wall nearby. His head flew backward, colliding with the concrete wall behind him, causing black spots to cloud his vision like shadows in the night. There where some that he would have wondered if they were actual shadows if not for the pain and fear clouding his reasonable judgment. His lungs were knocked rid of their breath, sending him coughing and gasping for breath.

Warm liquid ran down his neck and right shoulder, and the cold air continued to chill the wound the knife was leaving. The freezing wind was enough to numb someone's fingers in seconds, and enough to sting and pick at the cut being engrained into his skin. When the man threw him to the ground -again- he simply fell to the ground. His head felt weird, swimming with thoughts and fears and panic, mixed with a high probability of shielding himself from the pain of the wound, he wasn't even sure this was real. Then it hit him, a kick to the side and the pain of the blade running down his arm, slicing his arm, the pain only delayed milliseconds after the knife. Warm liquid covered his arm from the shoulder to his elbow. He heard the man tell him something, but he couldn't hear him, it was only muffled sound that came in one ear and out the next. A blow to the face and everything went dark, the one thing he felt was intense pain everywhere as his nerves caught up to his brain.

*Back to the present*

Gage stood, a tad surprised that Dae just said what he did. His heart sunk despite his best efforts to make a joke out of it. Either Dae didn't get he was joking, or he wasn't picking up on the fact the Dae was joking. Either way, he was a little hurt quite honestly. 'Oh yeah, I care more about whether the floor’s okay than whether you hurt yourself,' he couldn't tell if he was joking or not, but he usually found that if he assumed people weren't he was going to get backlash for being an idiot for thinking they were joking, or he was mocking them, "Yeah, sounds about right. Just like everyone else in my life." Okay, well, now you've gone and said something stupid. It seemed almost completely true though, and the only reason Xav cared was that Gage was letting the guy live in his house for free. No rent, and as long as he kept it quiet during the night so he could sleep, he didn't have any rules either. Josh always told him he needed to put on some armor and suck it up, but he didn't know if he had it in him to tell Xav that he was the reason he was broke, or that he wasn't following the one real rule he put out in the air.

He was glad that Dae ignored him and allowed him to shower. He needed it. A few days without no food and next to no sleep gave people the look of homelessness, and he wasn't willing to look like that again. There was a time when he played sports he was a complete idiot and hadn't had any sense of nutrients for that entire day, and he went out playing a football game in 110-degree weather. He threw up onfield and was removed from the game because he was overheating and dehydrated. "Oh! No, I guess he doesn't know the address. " He pulled out his phone, "What is it? I think he'll bring my car over for me too," he typed in the address and sent it to Xav, along with a message letting him know where his car was and his extra key was in its normal spot in the hidden drawer. "Ah, you don't have to do that, I'm fine-" he stopped himself when Dae turned and walked into another room. There was no use in arguing, so he might as well shut up.

He studied the room and smiled. It didn't look too far from his own, save the tequila and hair dye. His hair was naturally black, but people constantly asked what his hair color was before he 'dyed' it. His response was either 'black' or 'not that hideous color', though it greatly depended on his mood. One of his greatest pet-peeves was when people stuck their noses in other people's business. "Judge you? Of course not. It looks like my room honestly. The floor anyway. God, those walls are giving me a headache." The sun shining into the room and on the walls sent a glare that blinded him almost instantaneously.

When Dae walked back to him with a towel in hand along with soap, he smiled a bit, "I get it. I don't like spending my time alone either. That's why I got a roommate. Despite him being the most annoying person in the world." He paused, noticing Dae's spacing, and carefully pulled him into a hug, "Don't apologize to me, there's absolutely nothing to feel bad about. I space out all the time. Don't sweat it." He let him go, green eyes meeting blue. He could tell Dae was in pain. Mostly by the fact he was using the wall as a support and winced when he moved, but partly because he could see it in his face. He didn't know what to say, or even how he would begin expressing it, but he loved Dae's eyes. They were such a deep blue they looked indigo, which was growing to be his favorite color, the way the light caught them added a shine that could melt anyone's heart as soon as they saw them. "Can I just say something without it being weird?" He could give a crap about his answer, he needed to say something before he fudged it up, but he panicked. Instead of saying what he wanted to, maybe needed to, he decided to make a joke, "Something." He grinned and winked, before turning and shuffling into the bathroom again to shower. Crisis averted, well done. He took in a deep breath to calm his nerves.

He turned on the water and set it to warm when his phone vibrated. He pulled it out of his pocket and read the message Xav left, he brought the car and left it in the parking lot. Thank God for Xavier. What would he have done without him? Walked back to the hospital and gotten his car, that's what. He texted back, thanking him, and set his phone on the counter. Sometimes he wondered if Xav was bipolar. One minute he was the most annoying person he ever knew, giving a shit about what people think about him, and the nest, he's super helpful and would go to the ends of the earth for someone if it meant they would be his friend or even accept his company. Oh well, he wasn't going to evict him even if he wanted to. The poor guy wouldn't have anywhere to go if he did. Once he thought the water would be warm enough, he hopped in, only being met with freezing color water "GOD THAT'S COLD!" he stood, waiting for the water to be warmed up, and once he stopped shivering, he used the soap Dae had offered, washing his hair.

Eventually, he got bored with the quiet and started singing. He was in the shower, and anyone he didn't sing in the shower was a loser and had no life whatsoever. He started singing any songs that came to mind, from Painkiller by Three Days Grace to Leave It All Behind by Cult To Follow. He listened to a lot of rock bands, but he also listened to rap, country, and some pop. His favorite rap singer has always been NF, and he swears by it when he's depressed and needs a way to vent. It works too, but people laugh at him because he studders or forgets lines. Oh well, people can go fuck themselves. Once he was done washing his hair, he stood there, washing and singing for a moment before getting out and drying off. He was in a decently good mood, so he continued to sing when he grabbed the clothes Dae left by the door. The smell from the soap and the towels filled his senses, he got whiffs of honey here, and tinges of mint there. It made him feel clean, fresh. He was glad he opted to take a shower. Not only did he get to clean himself, but they often left him in a good mood afterward. He grabbed the clothes Dae left and smiled.

He found black, military-style cargo pants he nearly squealed. He couldn't remember the last time he wore decent cargo pants. They fit well, tight but not uncomfortably, and he loved the practically endless amount of pockets he could put stuff in. He just needed to remember where he put his phone or he would lose it, and quickly. Next to pulled out a blue full button-down long sleeve shirt. He loved the color, and it was only a little tight, but just enough for it to look like that was on purpose. Lastly, a black jean jacket. Damn, this had to be expensive. Don't ruin it and all will be good. "Gotta thank Dae when I'm done." The only problem with this whole thing was that in the shower, he washed off the color corrector he used to hide the scar on his neck. The upside to it was that the longsleeved shirt and jacket hid the one on his arm. He remembered using the last of the corrector a few days ago and quickly made a mental note to buy more when he had the time. He shook out his hair, then combed through it a little, finishing off with a smile.

He walked out, absolutely in love with the outfit, he was practically bouncing around he was so happy. Then it hit him, he was going out, like on a date! HOLLY SHIT if there wasn't a better time to panic then this was it. Still, though, he walked into the kitchen and found Dae, "So, how do I look. I personally really like the pants, thanks for letting me borrow them. How much would you want if I offered to buy them?"

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Jester

Can we pretend airplanes are shooting stars?
Community Volunteer
*four months before -> A repressed memory. Dae does not remember this*

Light rain was pattering down on the streets of New Calydon. It was the kind of rain which got underneath your clothes, messed up your hair, and sent a deathly chill deep into the marrow of your bones. Clouds hung over the city, as dark and gray as they would be in a horror story, and a cold, biting wind was sweeping over the streets, picking up leaves and howling in alleys. In three words, the weather sucked. And Daemon was wearing nothing but a ripped up shirt, a pair of incredibly short shorts, and two mismatched shoes.

The artist was stumbling through the streets in a haze of tears, hand to his cheek from where a stream of blood was flowing, down his wrist and onto the wet pavement below. Entire body trembling like a leaf, Dae tripped over himself in his haste to get to the coffeehouse. He could see it just up ahead, light emanating from the windows and spilling a warm golden glow on the surrounding shops, making their pitch black windows look just a little less sad. If he just made it there, to that halo of candle light, he would be okay. Only a few more steps. Come on. You can do it. Go Dae, go!

Behind him, Jordan was hollering something as he walked over, mad as a hellhound and crazier than King Henry the Eight. He was holding a blood stained knife, about seven meters back, slowly gaining ground. Dae had bolted out of his apartment a few minutes before, his one coherent thought being ‘get away’. He was barley conscious by that point, the sight of his own blood filling his head with a mess of panicky streams, so rushed and half formed that not even the man upstairs could have made any sense of them. “Leave me alone,” he begged, not daring to turn around and face his boyfriend. “Please…go away.” He was nearly in front of the coffee shop, using the wall to steady himself, when Jordan came up behind him, pressing up against him, the man’s breath hot on his neck. “You just left,” Jordan hissed in his ear, hands locking around Dae’s hips. “Didn’t even say goodbye…I feel used.”

Dae’s entire body had gone rigid, tears pouring down his face as Jordan pulled even closer, practically ready to take him, right there and than. His fear and anguish turned the other man on, and in that moment, there was nothing more terrifying. “I safe worded,” he choked out. “Again. And again.” Somebody, please, Dae screamed wordlessly as one of Jordan’s hands moved under his jaw and started pushing down on the sides of his neck. “Hmmm? I don’t remember that.” Black spots were starting to appear before Dae’s eyes, his already scattered thoughts turning to smoke. “You made me feel used, baby. What do you think. Is that okay?” Jordan had set the knife at the small of Dae’s back and started slowly dragging it up, its wickedly sharp tip drawing a thin red line of the painter’s porcelain skin. Stop, stop, stop, stop, please, stop. “No,” Dae sobbed, “it’s not okay.” He’d gone entirely limp as soon as he’d felt the knife, and now, Jordan’s arms around his hips and the wall were the only thing holding him up. “Are you sorry, baby?” His boyfriend demanded, pushing it a bit deeper into Dae. “Yes,” he gasped out. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Jordan stopped playing with the knife, which gave Dae some hope that he’d let him go. That he would leave. “You don’t sound sorry, bb,” the man said softly, his tone sending a shock of wild, animalistic fear through Dae. “So I’m gonna make you feel used, yeah? Right here, right now.”

Dae blacked out.

*One day later*

Dae’s eyes fluttered open, taking in the cold gray skies and beautiful red bricks he’d recognize from anywhere. He was right beside the coffee shop, lying on the ground with rocks digging into his bare back, and a pounding headache. His throat hurt, and unknown to him, bore the marks Jordan had left behind. One perfect handprint showed up against his ivory skin, a statement to the world of how he’d been manhandled. Jordan himself was nowhere in sight, although Dae was admittedly wearing his jacket. And nothing else. His clothes had been torn to shreds for reasons yet again unknown to him, and his entire body was covered in strange bruises. It wasn’t hard to put two and two together. He’d obviously been raped. But who? Why? And how long had he been unconscious? What day was it? What time? And Jordan had seen him sleeping in the street and given him his coat. How nice! He really was the best boyfriend.

The moment he tried to move, he realised just how sore he actually was, and holly crap, it was not a pleasant feeling. Still, he’d been there before. Soreness was nothing new. Non-consensual soreness, that was something else. He needed a coffee. Or a bottle, but he was thirty days clean and he didn’t want Nico yelling at him again. So he got up, first on his knees, then using the wall to pull himself up. Wrapping the coat around his waist like a towel, the painter shuffled (rather than walked) into his shop, noting with a frown that it was full off people. They stared, and whispered, covering their mouths and shielding the children from him as if he was a leper. Nobody could have blamed them for staring. Because here we have a seventeen-year-old boy, his skin a tapestry of nasty looking bruises, dried blood clinging to his skin, and hair which looked like a thousand-year-old duster, standing up on end and all.

“Top of the morning to you,” he called out cheerfully, having to walk through the center of the room to get to the back, behind the counter. When Anth laid eyes on him, he gasped in the most comical way possible. The man had been busy rearranging the pantry and sorting all the items in it according to colour, trying to create the pan flag as a joke. He did that when he was bored. “So…” a few beats of silence passed, which Dae used to go in his locker and pull out a pair of jeans and a T-shirt with the café’s name on the front. “Did you sleep in a wood-chipper?” Dae laughed, sound filling the coffee shop, bright and bubbly. “You know what,” he smirked, “I actually have no idea what happened…” He went over to the sink and started to scrub at the dried blood on his chest, avoiding the subject of how it had gotten there. Anth was so obviously trying not to freak out that it was adorable. The guy was more concerned about what exactly had gone on than Dae himself. “What do you mean you don’t know?” the bartender demanded. “You were there, weren’t you? Did you fuck a bear?”

Dae let out a huff of laughter, sticking his tongue out at his employee. “Stop insisting, dude. If it was that important, I would have remembered, no?” Anth didn’t respond. He’d noticed the bloody line on Dae’s back. The one Dae was completely oblivious to. “Daemon,” the bartender said softly, grabbing him by the shoulders and turning him around gently so Dae would be forced to look at him. “Whoever did this to you could be doing it to someone else right now.” Dae looked away from Anth’s piercing green gaze, starting to grow upset. “I don’t know who did this to me,” he said, completely and totally honest. “I don’t remember how I got here. And I sure as hell can’t remember taking out the personal space rule from our code of conduct Mr. Lockwood.”

Anthony pulled away as if he’d been burned, choosing to cross his arms over his chest somewhat uncomfortably instead. “Here’s the thing,” Dae said in a low voice. “When these things happen, if you think about them too much, you’ll go nuts. So I’m not thinking about it. And if you keep asking, I will go insane, and there goes my sobriety, down the drain. If you please, go to the front of the store for me, and do your job, yeah? I’m not paying you to be my babysitter, Mr. Lockwood.”

Anthony didn’t say a word to him for the rest of the day. He called Nico instead.

*Back to present*

Daemon’s eyes went wide. “Wow, okay, hold it. That was a joke.” The painter crossed his arms over his chest uncomfortably, the way he’d seen Anthony do when he was stressed; elbows pointed down, fists under his armpits for warmth. “My landlord thinks differently, but that’s a whole other dish of fish.” It was the first thing that had popped into his head, cheeks turning a light pink at how idiotic it had sounded. Come on Gage, you can’t possibly believe I care more about the fucking floor…can you??? “That was also a joke…by the way.” Low self esteem much…How do I always mess up conversations that matter? “Gah, I’m sorry. Most people don’t expect too much talking from my part when we hang out…”

Only after the words came out of his mouth, Dae realised what he’d admitted to. It was like disaster after disaster whenever he was part of a conversation, wasn’t it…Face burning, he choked back any more words, thankful beyond relief that Gage didn’t comment. Instead, the guy talked about his walls. “Oh yeah,” he squeaked out. “They are terrible. This is what happens when you leave me alone for too long…” The room had originally belonged to Jay, his roommate, but he’d been gone for a while…they’d always joked about painting his walls a cringe-worthy colour, so whenever Dae missed him, rather thank pick up a bottle, he grabbed a paint brush. “I think that’s like…the fourth colour I’ve tried on his walls so far…” He could practically see Jay sitting on the windowsill (which still had weed growing on the outside), just sort of vibing and shaking his head at him disappointedly. Green was so not the right colour. Daemon never did find out what had happened to the guy. After blowing up his phone for three months and not getting a response, he’d stopped asking when the musician was coming home.

All that was forgotten when Gage’s arms went around him. Dae melted into the embrace, resting his head in the crook of his friend’s neck, whole body relaxing so suddenly it made him lightheaded. “Whow,” he breathed, closing his eyes. His fingers had curled in the back of Gage’s shirt, holding onto him a lot tighter than he should’ve. Hugs did that to him. Not that he was touched starved, because Jordan certainly helped him with that one, but being held like that, so carefully and fondly…ahh. Safe. Yes, that was the word he was looking for. Right there, pressed up against Gage, warm and close, he felt safer than he had in months. With Jordan, it was all raw need and an endless tension he hadn’t known he’d been feeling until it had disappeared. “Thank you,” he said with a slight tremor as his friend pulled away, missing him instantly. “Can I just say something weird?” Gage begun, but seemed to stop himself before the correct words left his lips. “Something,” he said instead.

“You can’t just walk off after that one,” Daemon complained, looking at the door Gage had disappeared behind longingly. Great. Now he had a lot of time to kill. He’d already gotten dressed, but the MacNCheese still needed to be warmed up. A few minutes spent in the kitchen trying to work the stove and a couple more in which he set the table, and the artist had already exhausted all the things which were supposed to keep his mind busy.

It didn’t take very long after that for him to pull off the protective cloth which had been shielding an unfinished painting from sunlight and dust. The myriad of colourful paints he’d left scattered around it the night before had dried up, but a couple drops of water brought them back to life. Too bad the same couldn’t be said for Dae’s work. In his eyes, the portrait of Jordan was trash. Not worth the canvas it had been painted on. A waste of paint. He’d recreated a perfect likeness of his ex, accurate to the last stray hair and flake of green in his eyes. Yet, the canvas looked dead, no more valuable than a printed photograph. He might as well have taken a picture of Jordan, rather than waste fifty bucks worth of art supplies. In one despair fueled move, Daemon grabbed the nearest paint brush and drew a huge purple ex over the canvas, spilling all the rage which had been slowly building up throughout the day into that one fluid strike. There. The painting was as ruined as their relationship now.

Jordan had stabbed him. He’d abused him. He’d risked his life. And most terrifying of all, left him. Now he was all alone again, without the flash of hope that someone might knock on his door in the dead of night. He would not be able to come home and find someone waiting for him any longer. There were no more breathless kisses in the café’s storage room, no more late night texts. Right now, he had no one except Gage. And the guy…he was really nice. Hell, who was Dae kidding. Gage was the perfect man. A gentleman who worried himself sick over his friends, got stupidly happy over coffee, and probably let a whole bunch of people take advantage of him. If Daemon had to describe a dream boyfriend, Gage would be it. And his hugs…oh god, his hugs. Those were a dream come true. Just being around him brought Dae up. But. He’d have to play this one really carefully so that Gage wouldn’t feel like a rebound.

Unable to help himself any longer, Dae threw the cloth back over the painting and whirled around, walking back to J’s room before he could notice that it had slipped off, revealing it. In a few seconds, he was on the floor, scrambling around in a half crazed state, looking for a pack of cigarettes he’d stashed underneath a pile of clothes. Once he’d thought ‘just one smoke’, the hunger which had been gnawing at him unconsciously suddenly awakened, coming back full force and bringing him off his feet. The artist was, again, kneeling before his addiction, rendered a near invalid. Nearly there, Dae had found a pack and torn it open to have all the cigarettes spill on the floor. Snatched one, now a lighter. A familiar weight in his hand, his old friend and companion was calling out to him, urging him to hurry. He pressed it between his lips, spark of J’s forgotten lighter flickering on and nearly burning him. The cigarette had been brought to life, and just as he was about to take the first lungful of smoke he’d allowed himself in months, Gage’s muffled voice made its way into J’s room. “Awww, shit,” he groaned.

He was…he was singing. And not happy shit either. Was that Cult to Follow? Damn, that had been a stage in Dae’s life he was real happy to have overcome. Depression was still kicking his ass, but he’d learned how to cover it up after going on the streets and realizing nobody wanted to fuck an angsty, emo teenager. Back then, all he’d ever listened to had been Papa Roach, Escape the Fate, Pierce the Vail and Shinedown. No joke, he’d put that crap on a loop and soak in it as if it was a cure for all his problems. Most it had ever done was give him a hell of a headache. So he’d moved on from the emo and metal music, forcing himself to listen to dumb, inspirational pop songs until all he could think about was ‘I am beautiful’ and ‘My past doesn’t control me’.

Getting up with the burning cigarette still between his lips but not having breathed it in yet, he went and leaned against the bathroom door, closing his eyes and listening to Gage’s voice. Okay, so he’s a bit off key, but that’s the attitude, he thought, grinning a bit when his friend fucked over some words. Imagine…to still be listening to Three Days Grace. He had so much merch from emo bands at the back of a closet…Bracelets, posters, coats, necklaces. Back when he’d worshiped that stuff and memorised every song by heart… he’d though showing how fucked up he was inside with eyeliner and black hair was a good idea. Probably could recite all the Black Veil Brides songs if he felt like it, still. Hearing the familiar tunes Gage was singing brought him back…to a time he was living with his parents, in school, and the darling of every social group. Despite how good all that sounded on paper, he wouldn’t trade his life now for that life. He’d been through so much, and despite having to struggle, he’d grown. Moved passed depression, and an alcohol addiction. And god damn it, he could move past smoking as well!

Snuffing the cigarette out on the sleeve of his jacket, he went back in J’s room and tossed it in the overflowing trash can near his former roommate’s desk. A few minutes of anxious deciding later, he’d picked out an outfit for Gage and left it in front of the door. If he liked those clothes, next time he’d throw in some of his band merch as well.

Back in the kitchen now, he realised the MacNCheese was just the right temperature, hot, but not enough to burn your tastebuds, and set it on a plate for Gage as the man walked into the kitchen. “Wow,” Dae said before he could stop himself. Because Gage Tanner with still-wet hair sticking to his neck, just out of the shower and wearing his clothes… was seriously the sexiest thing he’d seen all day. “You look amazing,” Daemon’s voice had a touch of airiness he’d never heard in himself before. The artist blushed crimson, focusing his attention on the dishes he needed to do. “You can keep them, no worries,” Daemon replied, unable to make eye contact. Really? It takes Jordan half an hour to barley get a blush out of you, but all this guy has to do is walk out of the shower and you can’t speak? Well, there went his dignity, he supposed. “Eat. Deal was we’re going to get coffee after food,” His voice didn’t come out nearly as authoritive as it should have. He handed Gage a fork and knife, making sure to keep the blade pointed down, still struggling to look at the guy’s face without dropping something. Afterwards, he sat on the counter next to the sink, turning on the water and starting to scrub at the dishes while he talked. “Okay, so I’m not taking you to my café, just because if you actually want to work there, you’ll have plenty of that coffee soon enough…I was thinking, how about that little place beside the Montana’s? What was it called… Second Cup? They have really good stuff. Better than mine, although I’d never admit to that in public.”

He waited somewhat anxiously for his response, finishing up three plates and two glasses in the meantime. “Plus…I have a feeling Anth will want to strangle me for not texting him, as soon as he sees me.” Nico had taken his phone away after it had started pinging with message after message from the hospital. Something about not wanting to stress him out. Speaking of the hospital. “Oh, yeah! Money! I almost forgot.” Pulling out his wallet, he opened it and pulled out four bills of twenty, handing them to Gage. “Nico already covered the hospital costs, but he said I should pay you for the food, so here you go.” The reason Dae had that much money lying around? Nico had given Dae a credit card and told him to buy healthy food and use it to pay rent. After their contract had ended, Dae tried to give it back, but Nico wouldn’t take it. Said he didn’t like the idea of Dae going hungry or without stuff he liked. He’d also screwed him into submission, and one really couldn’t say no after three hours of that. Now, the artist literally only used it to pay off the loan on his café, working for the money he used to buy everything else.
 

JodoBird180

Protein Powder is Deliciousness
*Two years ago tomorrow*

Gage sat on his full-size mattress, Kai sitting by his side as they talked. About what? Anything! They were close, more than close. Kai was hands down his best friend, so they talked about everything and nothing together. Gage would turn to Kai for advice and someone to spend his time with, and Kai was depressed, so he would often come to Gage's to talk and vent to him. Sometimes more like at him, but he never said anything. Kai's parents very clearly stated they hate him and relentlessly continue to do everything in their power to get Kai to move out before he was ready. Though they didn't just take it out on Kai, Gage aswell. They hated Gage for helping their son, and constantly claim he 'broke their son', and 'made' Kai gay. They've tried time and time again to explain that's not how it works. It's not like the flu, where it's contagious by touch or mono, by saliva. Not that there was any saliva involved of course.

Anyway, they insisted that Gage broke their son, and they even sent him to counseling. Kai was depressed before that, but that was a serious kick while he was down. Who does that? For such a stupid reason too! "How's you're brother?" Gage asked the small man, giving a hopeful smile, "He's doing a lot better, don't know what kind of jackass would try and kill someone by hitting them with a car. So many other ways. Even I know how I would kill him, and it's better than that."

Gage blinked, "You're joking right? You don't mean that." Kai smiled, giving his arm a gentle punch, "Of course I don't mean it, idiot. But pinning someone against a wall with their car isn't a great way to kill someone, is it?" He shook his head, "No it's not unless you're trying to make them suffer." Kai chuckled giving a slight nod in response, "Yeah true. He's stable though, much to my parent's pleasure. If the roles were switched-" before Kai could finish Gage interrupted, "I would find and kill however tried to kill you like that. Such a dignified death is undeserved," He said jokingly, though Kai took it seriously. "I know, I deserve to be buried alive. That's what my dad says." Tears rose to Kai's eyes, but he quickly wiped them away with the corner of his sleeve.

"You're dad says a lot of things he shouldn't." Gage pulled the smaller man into a hug trying to squeeze the depression out of him, "You're not a disappointment, you know that right." He felt Kai nod against his chest, his breathing erratic as he tried to stop crying. Gage didn't care if Kai cried, even if it was on him. He wanted to help his friend, and if this is how, so be it. He could hear the wind outside whipping the trees around, whistling through the gutters. The night sky was starting to peek out from behind the sun, the stars starting to show their peaceful faces. This was Kai's favorite time of day. Gage's too. It was a perfect in-between. The stars visible, but the sunset still there, showing it's bright pink blush. As Kai cried, he rocked carefully back and forth, contemplating whether he should tell him or not. Gage liked Kai. Like, a lot. It was stronger than like, but he wasn't about to admit it to himself. His feelings for Kai went beyond words, but in terms, 'like' would be one he could say out loud. Their meeting is a rather comical one, and he never really did think he would have fallen for someone as hard as Gage did. Kai was smart, kind, generous, and slow to anger. He was one of the most understanding people, Gage, has ever met. Once Kai calmed down enough to be rational, but staying in his arms, Gage made his decision. "Kai-" Kai looked up at him and nodded, "I know, I need to get home. My parents will be pissed if I'm late." "No Kai I-" "It's okay, I'll talk to you tomorrow, okay?"

Gages heart sunk, nearly breaking in two as Kai left his room in a hurry to get home. He turned to the window and watched as he ran out his front door and down the street, battling the wind as he went. He took in a shaky breath and nodded. Tomorrow. He'll wait until tomorrow to tell him. He checked his phone and decided to hit the hay, hoping tomorrow will come sooner if he did. Turning off his light, plugging in his nightlight and phone, he snuggled in and fell asleep in seconds.

*A few hours later*

He must have been sleeping pretty lightly because a crash of thunder woke him up with a start. A storm had rolled in but he didn't mind. He usually slept better during storms anyway. He found the light show and rolling thunder calming. Like a lullaby kind of. But this storm was different. Something was wrong. He sat in bed, a tangle of blankets, trying to figure it out. He checked his phone, nothing new. His nightlight was still on, which was a good thing. Only Kai knew he was scared of the dark, and he thanked God every night Kai wasn't the kind of go tell people that stuff.

He couldn't figure it out. What's wrong? "Probably nothing," he muttered and laid back down. Anxiety and worry rose inside him, but he didn't know why. Despite the gaining strength of his emotions, he fell back asleep.

*That morning*

Gage woke to his alarm screaming at him, just as loud as his mom. Wait, why was he getting yelled at? He shot up, trying to make some kind of sense of what the hysterical woman who took place of his mother was trying to tell him. "Get dressed, hurry! I said hurry, Gage!" In his confusion, he was about to ask why, when his dad yelled that they needed to hurry, something about 'getting their soon', and 'hurrying'. Something was wrong, but the words weren't coming to him right. He couldn't put them together. So, he obeyed his mother, changing into the clothes he was going to wear to school. His mom was nowhere in sight of his room, so when he was done he walked downstairs, finding his mother walking in circles trying to calm down, and his dad talking wildly on the phone. "Son, you're not going to school, c'mon." His mom turned to him, giving him her best 'everything's going to be okay smile'. "Mom, what's wrong?"

His mother took in a deep breath, "Kai shot himself." Gage blinked, awestruck. "Yeah, not funny guys. I have to go to school." He turned toward the kitchen to make his lunch, but his dad grabbed his shoulder, phone resting between his shoulder and ear, head titled sideways to keep it there, "Son, this isn't a joke, we're going to his house to comfort his parents and make sure he's going to be okay." Gage shook his head, fear, and shock running through his veins, sending a chill through his body, "N-no, I-I'm going to school. This is such a cruel joke."

When they got to Kai's house, there was an ambulance, a fire truck, and several police cars. Gage was still in complete denial, not believe a thing he saw. He had to be dreaming, or it was a big trick of the light, or it wasn't Kai, but their dog. He told himself thousands of excuses, some of them making next to no sense. Kai couldn't have, h-he wouldn't have. They made each other a promise damn it! Kai was stronger than this, he wouldn't leave Gage alone in this god-forsaken world. This was all a ruse, nothing was real. He stood, legs shaking, struggling to keep him up as he entered the house. Kai's parents sat on the couch, Kai's aunt by his mother, hugging her as she cried, his father, on the other hand, looked completely unaffected. He was joking with one of the several policemen, standing near his wife. He looked around and counted 6 policemen, 3 firemen, and two ambulance dispatchers. This was real, he knew that now. He looked at an officer, begging that he was just in a coma, or he was fine and getting talked to, but the officer shook her head, confirming his worst nightmare.

All denial and hidden pain aside, grief and tears flooded into him, forcing him to his knees. He was gone, his best friend was gone. He should have known. Damn it this was all his fault. He should have known, he should have tried harder. He didn't even try to stop the tears that flooded from his eyes, didn't stop the pain that crushed his heart in two. He was sure if he tried, he would have failed, and it would have hit twice as hard. Several arms wrapped around him, a pair of his mothers as she shrunk beside him, his father's arm around his shoulder, saying something that the hysteria and numbness were blocking out. Everything was blurry, he was numb from the tips of his fingers to his toes. He barely felt the warmth his mother was trying to give him.

Then, a strange hand touched his shoulder. He looked up and saw Kai's father in front of him. Pain replaced with hate, his shed tears turned to fury, he shook off his parents and stood. Making eye contact with the monster in front of him. "This is your fault." He spat, causing his friend's father to step back, "I have no idea what you're talking about." Gage scoffed, "You told him he was better off dead! You told him no one loved him!! You're THE REASON HE'S GONE!" Visibly shaking with fury, he threw a punch, landing smack in the jaw of the monster-turned-man in front of him.

A shorter policeman stepped forward, grabbing his arms and forcing him to sit in a seat. He was still trembling, but for a different reason. His best friend was gone, the one person he loved was gone. He felt empty, hurt, alone, and most of all betrayed. They made a promise to stick together, stay by each other's side when one needed the other. But Kai broke that promise, and he would never see him again. "I loved him, and you took him from me."

*Present day*

Gage felt his face heat up from Dae's compliment, "Thank you, I owe it to you though. You're the one who picked out this lovely ensemble." He couldn't help himself but grin when Dae's face turned red, it was adorable. That shade of pink complemented his face quite nicely. Even when he looked away he could still see the tint of blush in his cheeks, "No, I'm paying, I can't allow free pants. Especially cargo pants. How much?" He insisted, but Dae continued to ignore him about the money, so he gave up, making a note to himself to slip him some cash later. Like it or not he was paying. He wasn't going to let him get away with trying to just hand them over. Dae was avoiding eye contact, and if Gage wasn't already grinning like an idiot he would have right then. Dae's embarrassment was cute. It also reminded him of a joke Kai used to tell. He would walk up, make eye contact with you, and say 'I'm making pre-marital eye contact'. Gosh, that brought back good memories. 'Eat. Deal was we’re going to get coffee after food,' Dae insisted. "Uhg, yes dad." He joked, then choked on air, "Sorry, I'm joking, ignore me."

Turning toward the table, he noticed the painting of Jordan and fell over in surprise. "Jesus!" he said as he hit the floor, laying there limp for a moment, staring up at the ceiling as he tried to calm his nerves. He hadn't expected to turn and see a -very- lifelike painting of Jordan. He straightened up though, he thought for a serious minute his heart stopped beating. "Sorry, I'm a fainting goat. That- holly-," it took him a moment to catch his breath, but when he did, he stood briskly and sat at the table. "Talk about an adrenaline rush, dang."

As he ate, Dae talked to him, so he tried to stuff his face and talk at the same time. MacNCheese was his archnemesis, and Xav said he would die eating it. He ate about five pounds of it a week, and that's when he's having a bad day or not hungry at all. It's like when people turn to ice-cream to feel better, MacNCheese was his comfort. And it helped that his mom taught him the home-made recipe that got him hooked in the first place. As long as he had the supplies needed, he could make literally pounds of it in a single batch. Though between the twins and himself, ten pounds would only last about two weeks before they needed a new batch. Dae had plopped himself up on the counter as he cleaned dishes, "That's perfectly fine! I go where you want too, it's your call, but I do still want to work there. Need I guess, my last job just... fell through." He chuckled as he ate, inhaling a forkful of his food without chewing, just swallowing it whole. His policy was, 'Don't like it, don't look at it,' besides, who needs to breathe when they're eating anyway? "I won't tell, promise," He said, taking a moment to watch Dae as he cleaned.

Watching as Dae cleaned made him smile. His near determination to clean the shit off his dishes was adorable. He enjoyed watching him clean. His movements swift but sure, his purple-blue hair and dark blue eyes shone in the beautiful afternoon light, made him look angelic. He had completely forgotten he was eating he was awestruck with how handsome Daemon was. It was difficult to not listen to the demon on his shoulder that whispered You don't deserve him, or You deserve him about as much as you did Kai and look how that turned out. He realized he was staring like some kind of creeper, and looked away from the handsome man on the counter, a blush crawling across his face. Since when was I eating? Oh yeah! Idiot.

He smiled a little and continued to eat. When he finished, he gave an exaggerated gasp, that spoke of an overly dramatic actor. Which, actually wasn't far from what Gage was. "Anth like Anthony right? Dude no way! I've known Anthony for years! My dad owns a shipping company and would re-fill Anthony's supply of beer for a long time. After a while I guess they became friends and I would visit the guy's bar with my dad when I was younger. Small town huh?"

Carrying his plate and fork, Gage walked toward the sink, rinsing off his dishes. Dae had hopped down, saying something about money, and when he turned around again, his hand was filled with several twenties. "What? No no no, that's not how this works. Listen, I don't accept this. I'm described as the kind of person who 'gives more than he takes'. So don't try and give me more than I don't need." After a moment, he thought. Dae wasn't going to just take the money back, so- he needed to come up with a way to take it back without arguing. It shouldn't be that hard, seeing as he was standing in a room full of paintings, but- he wasn't getting anything. Just a blank mind that wasn't willing to produce an idea. Then, the painting of Jordan stuck in his mind, and he blinked. "Here, will this cover that?" He asked, nodding toward the X'd overpainting of Jordan. "I want to burn it. Wow okay, saying it out loud sounds... really sadistic but I still want to burn it. It looks like it's gonna kill me with one look." He shivered at the thought, "It's really good though, even if it's covered in a big purple X."

He grabbed Dae's hand, shoved all the money he had just given him into it, and turned toward the painting, "Later though. Sadism can wait. We've got a date to be on." Yep, he said it. And yep, he loves the sound of it. He finally found someone that he liked, and someone that liked him back. He assumed. Oh God, what if he doesn't like me? Stop, stop, stop, you're freaking out for no reason. Calm down. I said calm down! He took in a deep breath, pulling out his car keys from one of the many pockets in his pants, smiling at Dae.

"We can take the car, it should have enough gas to get us there and back before I need to fill it up again." He took a few brisk steps toward the door, opening it and stepped aside, "Ladies first," he joked and stepped out after him. "Okay, so it's not a lot to look at, but it runs right, so that's a plus. Just don't laugh okay? I get enough from my roommates about Little Red." He walked out to his very red, very small car, and turned to Dae with a big smile, "Well? I know, yeah, it's small, but I've had it for years and haven't run into a catastrophic problem yet!" He walked around to the passenger's side, unlocking the door for Dae. The car didn't come with automatic locks, but that came as an advantage for Gage no? He opened the door, allowing Dae to get in, and carefully shut it once Dae got situated in his seat. Then, he walked around the back of the car to his seat and found his wallet, a sticky note on a small velvet box. He took his wallet and put it in a pocket, then grabbed the sticky note with a sad smile 'He would have wanted you to have these,' he opened the small box and found a pair of gages. A light blue, dark blue marble pattern, long spike looking backs. It seems like something Kai would have worn.

Once he was in the driver's seat, and buckled his seatbelt and turned on the car, receiving a bit of apprehension from Little Red. "C'mon you can do it-" when he finished talking the car started up, receiving a pat on the steering wheel from Gage. "As I said, runs perfectly fine." Though he was more saying it for himself than Dae. He couldn't afford repairs right now, so if he told himself the car was fine, maybe it really would be. "Alright, Second Cup it is." He put the car in reverse and twisted around so he could see out the back window as he went. When he did, there was a loud pop from his hip and string of pops from his back, "Holy crap, that felt amazing!" Once they were out of the parking space, he turned around, getting a pop out of his other hip, "Nice" he chuckled and drove them out to the main road that would take them to the cafe they were headed to.
 

Jester

Can we pretend airplanes are shooting stars?
Community Volunteer
Smoke filtered through the crimson light which was spilling onto the streets. A horrible heat was filling the air along with the sounds of sirens and panicked yelling. Voices had gone horse, lungs were filled with smoke and kids were crying. And in the midst of it all, Daemon knelled beside the lifeless bodies of his parents and brother, his hands clenched into fists, tears streaking down his face. The last words he’d said to Kevin were “I hope you choke.” Karma had gotten him good for that one…

The screech of ambulances had begun earlier that morning, all of them heading to the same place. His old neighborhood. But then again, rushing paramedics and alarms were nothing new in the god forgotten city they lived in. There was always someone getting shot up or stabbed. So he’d ignored them. Joked about who was gonna die today. Made a bet that it was Old John, that creep nobody liked. Words were coming back now, haunting him.

His sister was on the ground, crying hysterically, her entire body shaking with sobs. And Nico? He was behind him, a hand on his shoulder as Dae sat there, watching their half burned corpses. They were horribly disfigured, skin having bubbled up, faces charred beyond recognition. The cops had identified them by the metal crosses they wore around their necks, so proudly, names engraved in the front. Silently, Dae pulled his sister in his arms, stroking her hair numbly. Yes, he was crying. But he hadn’t full processed. The artist had tailored his reaction as it was expected of him. He’d learned from experience that people expected you to show emotion after someone died.

“It’s okay,” he murmured to his sister. “They’re in a better place now…they are with god…they are by the father’s side.” All those things, he said to his sister, hoping to put her at ease. It took the longest time for her to calm down, but eventually she curled up against him, sobbing in the crook of his neck, arms around his waist. Whoever had seen them then would have had no doubt they were related. They had the same fair skin and deep blue eyes. Same golden locks which framed their face in elegant curls. The only difference? She was crushed and he was numb.

It had always been that way. The inside of Daemon’s head was like water. Thoughts had to struggle to stay afloat, but they all eventually sank to the bottom, never to be found again. Nico called it a coping mechanism. And, it was logical, wasn’t it? He’d been kicked out of the only home he’d ever known, forced to sell his body in defense against starvation, his best friend had killed himself, and the only thing people valued him for was his ability to make them see stars. So yeah, he had plenty reasons to have a coping mechanism. It was inconvenient at the current moment, however. He had to fake his tears and pain for his sister.

Nico was behind him, talking to the cops about something, his words drowned out by the chorus of agonized cries of the people around them. Everyone had lost a friend, a family member or a neighbor to the flames. They were surrounded by over forty families, each of them having broken up and destroyed. His sister had barely made it herself. Allessia’s clothes were scorched and there were cuts on her arms from the broken glass she’d had to crawl through to get out of the burning building. She was bleeding from so many places, and some doctor had told her not to move, that she had broken ribs and she could die. But all she cared about were their parents. “It’s gonna be okay,” Dae murmured to her, arms tightening around her shaking form, knowing he couldn’t possibly day anything to make it better. There were no words he could offer that would ease her suffering.

A tall man with chestnut brown hair and a spotless paramedic’s outfit took over for him, getting her to her feet and coaxing her into an ambulance along with several other unfortunate souls. He spoke in a soft voice which had steel behind it, letting his sister know that she would not disobey him, no matter the circumstances. That she was safe, and her parents would be properly taken care off. Afterwards, one of New Calydon’s bravest finally approached Dae, informing him in a bored voice that nothing in his apartment could be salvaged. The fire had started from there, or so it seemed, and quickly spread, eating out of the building’s wooden support beam and cardboard walls. “I’m sorry for your loss…Ms? Sir? What the fuck are you?”

Dae looked down at himself with a sigh, realizing he was still in the clothes Nico liked him wearing. Fishnets underneath black booty shorts and a tank top. “I’m a guy,” he replied in a tired voice. By the time he’d answered, the fireman was no longer anywhere near him. Instead, Nico had wrapped his arms around him the way he’d done to his sister just minutes before. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered. “I’m not,” Dae replied, somewhat numbly. “I think I should be. But I’m not.” He pulled out a cigarette and lit it, taking a long drag before threading his hand with Nico’s. “Will you drive me to the hospital? I need to be there for her when she wakes up.” The man agreed wordlessly, opening the door to his car the next moment and slamming it shut after Dae got it.

“What do you need?” his lover asked once they were on the road and heading towards the hospital. He seemed to be freaking out at Dae’s lack of a reaction once his sister was out of the picture. “Honest to God? A bottle, two packs of cigarettes and a fuck…If I was a good person, I would feel something right now, right? Something other than relief?”

*Back to present*

“Dad?” Dae demanded, a grin lighting up his features. “See, usually it’s the other way around…” As he finished up on the dishes and hopped down from the counter, his eyes stared to wonder once more, following the lines of Gage’s arms and chest appreciatively. Thoughts were already going wild by the time Gage somehow ended up on the floor. “Jeeze,” the youth giggled, helping Gage up easily…way too easily, if one ever spent a minute listening to his whining. He flat out refused to lift anything heavier than a book bag most times, and bitched and moaned about carrying crates. It was annoying to the point Anthony had smacked him.

“You good, man?” he asked, turning around to see what could have possibly caused his reaction. The artist’s heart rate shot up as soon as he noticed the painting. “Ah, shit,” he groaned, striding over and picking up the cloth he’d used to cover it up. As he bent down to retrieve it, his shirt rode up his back, revealing the thin white scar running down his spine and standing out against his porcelain white skin. He had no idea that was there… “Sorry,” he mumbled, throwing the cloth back on the painting. “I’d thought I’d put this on it, but I guess it slipped…”

Speaking of scars, Gage’s scar hadn’t gone unnoticed. And considering the artist had spent a good amount of time staring at the bigger man, the fact he was just seeing it now told two stories. Either he was an unobservant lil bitch, or Gage had covered it up with concealer, and forgotten about it during the shower. The latter was more than likely to have happened, since Dae was pretty sure he’d be able to pick Gage out in a crowd. Still, he didn’t say anything. He didn’t like it when people asked about his tattoos, or scar, so he extended the curtesy to others. Speaking of tattoos. He had one of a panther, mirroring the one on Jordan’s wrist, behind his right ear. The other two were in more discrete places and they didn’t bother him as much. One of a cat sleeping on his hip, because Jordan liked to call him ‘pet’, and ‘kitten’, The other, a ball of yarn, for the same reason. Plus, the yarn was rainbow, and could be interpreted as pretty much anything.

Going back towards Gage, Daemon went up and hugged him from behind, just because he could. His arms wrapped around the bigger man’s shoulders, setting his head in the crook of Gage’s neck. “Hi,” he murmured, holding onto him for a few seconds, mostly because he was cold, and Gage was warm, and he was allowed to do that now, since they were going on a date. “Your hair smells nice,” the artist mumbled. He pulled away after a few seconds, messing it up for Gage and flicking the water which soaked his hands in the man’s eyes.

“Yeah, that Anthony. I swear to god, the dude doesn’t sleep…” Dae had actually bothered to do the math at one point. Anth came to work at nine in the morning, and worked until five pm. He then opened the bar at six pm, and closed it at four am. Which meant that on average, he got three hours of sleep a day. Which couldn’t be healthy. “You know he’s like fifty? He still looks thirty. Which would be acceptable, if he was black. But he’s white, ya know? So let’s put two and two together. One, he doesn’t sleep. Two, he doesn’t age. Conclusion. Anthony Thorn Lockwood is a demon!”

“You don’t get to burn it,” Dae said, handing back the money. “I want to keep it. It’ll remind me not to go into a relationship with a guy who doesn’t give a shit about me. Anyway. Date.”

Before they left, Dae took a quick look in the mirror, fixing his hair and putting on a bit of eyeliner. He wasn’t about to walk out of the house without at least a bit of makeup. He had a bottle of concealer in his pocket and it was the kind you could spread with your fingers, so he would do it in the car. He’d gotten incredibly good at doing makeup in a hurry with less than optimal lighting conditions. Hell, if the situation called for it, he didn’t even need a mirror. “Okay, so,” he started, walking backwards. “I wanna get to know you better. What’s your favorite movie? Do you have any siblings? Haha, I do. My brother died in a fire, though…Hm. My sister’s still alive! And she blows up my phone every other day. It’s fun…”

When they got to the car, Dae stopped dead. “Um. Okay, hold up. No.” His voice had gone soft, and he took a step back, fingers curling into fists, face draining of blood. But Gage was already opening the door, and waiting for him to get in. It took a while for him to actually work up the nerve to get in. Once inside, his entire body tensed up, and he was gripping the door so hard his knuckles had gone white. In his head, the same scene was playing over and over again. Getting into a similar shitbox car with a friend.

*Past*

They had been about eleven. Jenna and him. Jenna’s father had been a bit drunk, but he’d promised the two of them they would be going to Wonderland, so he was driving. It was silent for most of the ride, until Katy Perry’s ‘I kissed a girl’ came on the radio. So there you have two eleven year olds, singing along with Katy and dancing to the beats. It only became a problem when Jenna’s dad figured out what the song was about.

He pulled the car over to the side of the road, nearly crashing into the white van behind them, and turned around, his lips a thin white line. “You two realize what this song encourages?” he demanded, voice raising with each word he said. “Love?” poor Jenna asked, looking innocently at her dad. “Equality?” The girl had come out to Dae a few weeks back, which was followed by the boy’s own confession. They’d been real tight ever since, giggling when people shipped them and snickering whenever anyone said the word ‘straight’. They were too young to know people hated them. Their teachers had told they it was okay. That they were fine, and that liking the same gender was okay. But now Jenna’s dad was going nuts, and they were shying away from him, pressing into the backseat of the car to get away from his drunken rage. “No!” The old man shouted, undoing his seat belt and leaning over so he could shout better, his face having gone red from rage. There was a vain pulsing in his head and judging from the way he’d grabbed the front of Jenna’s shirt and pulled her closer, spitting in her face about faggots and the unnatural, he wasn’t pleased. It got worse.

His eyes fell on Dae’s nails, which he’d painted a bright pink in class, using Jenna’s nail polish. “You’re one of them!” he growled, letting go of Jenna. She hit her head on one of those button thingies at the front, but didn’t dare cry out. “You’ve been filling her head with your propaganda, haven’t you?” he screamed, bits of spit flying from his mouth. Dae shook his head, biting his tongue to keep from crying when Jenna’s dad grabbed him the way he’d grabbed his daughter moments before, with one important difference. One hand was wrapped around his throat. “Fucking fairy…Get out of my car! Never speak to my daughter again, you hear me! Fucking faggot!”

A door was opened and he was tossed out much like a dog, in ongoing traffic. His head hit the pavement, and for a second, he could do nothing but lay there stunned, mouth filling with blood from biting his tongue too hard. The car drove away with Jenna still trapped inside, horror etched on her gorgeous face and in her almond eyes. A second later, Dae was forced to dive out of the way of a huge truck, which sped by honking, the driver swearing loudly through the open window.

So there he was. With blood trickling from between his lips, fifty bucks in his pocket and a huge gash on his head, left to walk sixty kilometers home, with no idea what his mother’s phone number was or how to get back. Of course, he did the only reasonable thing. He stuck out his hand and waited. It was a while before anyone stopped, but eventually, a bus holding around fifteen people who looked high as fuck screeched to a halt in front of him. “Where you headed?” the driver demanded as he rolled down his window, letting out enough weed fumes to kill someone. “New Calydon,” Dae tried to say, but his tongue had swollen up. He choked on the blood, trying to speak and failing. He doubted the guy could have heard him over the blaring music anyway. Still, he’d been allowed inside and driven home in exchange for the money. He hadn’t been able to smell weed or get inside a car like that ever since. Yet, here he was.

*Present*

It was about halfway in the ride when Dae reached his limit. Without warning, he pulled the hand break, pushed open the door and got out in mid traffic. Thank god the road was deserted, otherwise they would have been so screwed.

He was shaking violently as he sat down on the side of the road, feeling sick, eyes having glazed over with tears, breath coming out in painful gasps. “I’m sorry,” he groaned, putting his head between his knees. “I’m so sorry.” Uh god, he’d ruined it. He’d ruined the date, because his stupid brain couldn’t handle being in a car. “I should have warned you,” he cried, squeezing his eyes shut as tears streamed down his cheeks. “I’m sorry.” He couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t think. Couldn’t do anything but focus on the ground in front of him. In his head, he was being thrown out in front of that stupid truck, seeing Jenna’s scared frame clawing at the window of her father’s car. She hadn’t spoken to him again after that day. Instead, she’d come to school with a giant bruise on her cheek. And had trouble walking all week. During highschool, she and a gang of bitches had followed him around the school, calling him ‘fairy’.

“Oh god,” he whimpered. “I’m sorry. I’m so, so, sorry. Give me a minute. Please. Just a second. I’m sorry.” That was what broke him? Being in a car? Seriously? He’d been beaten, and abused. Dealt with homelessness, drug addiction, and being used by men old enough to be his parents. He’d gotten over depression, and self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. And being in a car had broken him. Wasn’t that funny? Wasn’t that hilarious? “I’m so sorry,” he gasped again, closing his eyes and lying flat against the ground, trying desperately to catch his breath. “I’ll be okay in just a second. I’m okay. It’s okay. I’m good.”

Finally, he made it back up to his feet. Before he could go off in his head again, he wrapped his arms around Gage, resting his forehead on the other man’s chest, focusing on the his breathing and warmth. “Please, just hold me for a bit.”
 

JodoBird180

Protein Powder is Deliciousness
*About nine months ago*

Gage sat in his car, brand new house key in-hand. Excitement pulsed through his chest, so he pulled out his phone and texted Xav and Luke. Xavier was coming in his car, and Luke was driving the moving van. Sean would have helped, but he needed to go out of town for a while, ‘family issues’.

‘Hey, where you guys at?’ –Me

‘Almost there, sorry, needed to pick something out’ –Xavier.


Turning off his phone, he stuffed it back in his pocket and squeezed out of his car. He needed a new one, the poor thing was just getting too small for him. He wanted an SUV or a truck, but he didn’t have money for that. He’d only recently had the money for the house. The sun beating down on him caused a wide smile to creep across his face, the sound of whistling birds reached him merrily, so he whistled back, repeating the bird’s last harmonious note to it. Soon, he received an answer from that bird, which caused a small chuckle to erupt from his throat.

Speaking of the house, he’d just closed the sale, buying it at $180,000. Was it worth it? Well, it was a two-story three bedroom two and a half bath house, so probably? It was his, and he’d used honest money to buy it, so he was willing to pay anything. Shutting the door of Little Red forcefully, he walked toward the house, growing accustomed to the green color and already curtained windows. The front yard was pretty big, enough for Xavier to do some of the gardenings he wanted, and landscape it a bit if he wanted to, and the back was the same way, just a little bigger. The back was fenced and he had the blueprints for a possible in-ground pool if he wanted to do that. Again, more money.

After a few minutes, he heard the familiar sound of Xav’s car engine and watched as his friend pulled up in front of the house. Xav was the ‘cool guy’ of the school. Always wearing shades, whether indoors or out, or day or night, he wore them. And his car, it was a piece of shit, even worse than Little Red, but he painted it over to it would look. . .decent? It was a dark glossy blue. Which helped hide the nasty ass dents in the doors and bumped. Speaking of the bumped, it was sagging to the point Xav had to duct tape it back in place. “Heya Gage, ready to go in?” “Sure as hell am, but listen, I get first dips on a room.” “Sure, sure, as long as I get the master.” Gage looked at him, arching an eyebrow, and receiving a chuckle from his friend. “I’m joking Gage, calm down we know you get to call it.” Nodding, he unlocked the door, but he didn’t open it. He was excited and was itching to get inside and start moving stuff in, but he had to wait for Luke or he would be pissed. Though Luke isn’t quick to anger, when he does get angry, it’s not a pleasant sight. So you’re better off on his good side. Gage has seen people go missing because Luke was pissed off at them.

Finally, he saw the U-Haul turn the corner, and he heard the music from the radio blasting, hearing the very clear cusswords. Xavier face palmed himself as Luke pulled it in front of the house, nearly parking up on the curb and in the grass. “What took your ass so long?” Xav yelled at him, and Luke glared at his brother as he got out of the car, “I needed TacoHell, patent-pending, you guys can’t use that,” Gage blinked for a moment, completely speechless, “That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. And I’ve heard you say stupid shit in our lifetimes,” Xav said, crossing his arms across his chest.

His brother was, well, not the cool kid. Not really. Not unless he was with Xavier, and only then was he popular because they have a way to get guys to hook up with them. It was disturbing and made Gage uncomfortable, but he told them if they didn’t bring that shit home they were all good. “Anyway, let’s get inside so we can start unloading.”

Nodding, he turned to the door and opened it. Taking in a deep breath, he walked in and felt instantly at home. The light gray walls and open concept made the house feel open, even if it was a split level. Of course, the kitchen and living room would be divided by one of the two leather coaches they had, and the other one would go against the stairway. “Move slowpoke!” Luke squeezed past him and ran around the house, looking over everything. He walked through the entry hallway and found something off, the back door was open, then, there was a loud shriek from upstairs.

“Luke, you okay up there?” Then, barreling down the stairs came Luke, actually moving so fast he was skipping up to two stairs at a time. “CMON, OUT! OUT!” He yelled running out of the house. “What was that about?” Xav asked, turning toward him. Gage shrugged, but pulled out his pocket knife just in case, “Go get him real quick.”

After a few minutes of standing by the door waiting for Luke to come back with his brother, they finally came back, Luke’s face pale, like he’d just seen a ghost. “I saw a hermit upstairs,” he mumbled. “Like, the crab?” Gage asked. Xav glared at him, “No, like the homeless person.” “Dear Jesus above, in my house? Oh God, ooooh God,” without thinking, he ran upstairs, and quickly found the hermit in the corner of the room in the back of the house. “I think he realized the plumbing wasn’t on,” Xav whispered in his ear, because there was literal shit and piss all over the floor. “Holy fuck. Call the police Xavier, go. Now.” The man seemed to be sleeping, and seemed to be at least late 30’s early 40’s, graying hair blading on top of his head, and beard growing to his knees.

He felt bad for the guy, but who had the balls to break into someone’s house, set up camp in the master bedroom, and shit on the carpets? Not someone in their right mind, so he figured the police would be a better option, instead of angering someone that might be mentally unstable. “The police are on their way.”

*Back to the present time*

The car on the inside wasn’t all the shabby, despite the outside looking like a complete rundown piece of crap. The mesh seats were pristinely clean, a black-on-gray pattern. The floor mats were clean, not a crumb of food or dirt in sight. Even the dashboard was perfectly clean, not a single strand of dust, anywhere. He didn’t like it to be dirty, just so people didn’t feel uncomfortable in an already uncomfortably small car. “So uh- to answer your questions, favorite movie would have to be Legally Blonde, and I do have siblings. And older and younger brother. I’m the middle child of the family,” after a pause, he looked at Dae. He was getting more and more uncomfortable, but Gage wasn’t quite sure why, “Hey, you okay?”

He’d seen people get close to nervous breakdowns, he’d seen people in the middle of a mental breakdown. Hell, he’d gone through a lot of breakdowns and knew them well enough to identify them, even for different people. “Okay, you need a breather? Daemon, do you need a minute?” Dae didn’t answer, so he continued to drive on, hating to have to watch his friend squirm and twitch as he grew more uncomfortable. He could practically see the memory going through his mind, and if he would just get a damn answer from the man he could help him. But alas, he was never answered, so he continued to drive down the road, not expecting Dae to pull the handbrake.

They came to a screeching stop in the middle of the road, and Dae just went clambering out of his car, “DAE!” He pulled to the side of the road, out of the way, and shut her off, then shot out of the car. He found Dae on the ground, trying to calm himself down. He could hear his whimpers and apologies. “Don’t apologize, I should have pulled the car over, don’t worry about it. “Oh God, please don’t worry about it, when you calm down we can hear over to the coffee shop, take the time you need.”

He wasn’t sure if talking to him would help, or giving him a hug, or whatever. I suppose I’ll find out. Standing there, leaning against the trunk of Little Red, he perked up a little when Dae stood and was surprised by his request. Taking in a deep breath, he wrapped his arms around the smaller man, holding him close. Now he knew how to make him feel better, and he could quite honestly get used to having him in his arms. He took in smooth, steady breaths, and rubbed circles on the smaller man’s back. His face lit up bright red, his pale skin portraying the affection he had for the smaller man. “Take your time. I don’t mind having you in my arms.” Well, fuck him, too late, what he said he said. He didn’t even feel bad that he said it. Because well, that was how he felt. In all honesty, he did love having Dae in his arms, whether he’s being emotional or not. He loved it when Dae had hugged him from behind, he just loved the other man’s arms around him. It sent a pleasant shudder through him and made him feel warm inside. And he felt warm where he was being hugged, so hell why not?

After a few minutes, he figured he should let the artist go, he didn’t seem upset anymore, but then again, he hadn’t made a move to let him go. “So, you still up for coffee? I know that you don’t want to be in the car, I’ll walk with you. I’ll have a friend pick up the car in a bit. C’mon,” apprehensively, so let him go, and grabbed his hand, “I’m here for you, let’s go get high on an unnecessarily sugary coffee.” He wiped away the leftover tears from Dae’s eyes, and stood, walking back in the direction of town.
 

Jester

Can we pretend airplanes are shooting stars?
Community Volunteer
Dae took a deep, shuddering breath and nodded, swallowing hard. Yeah. He would be okay. It was fine. Giving Gage’s hand a hard squeeze, they started walking, the smaller man trying to match his pace with the athlete’s. It wasn’t particularly hard since Gage wasn’t that much taller, and after he stumbled a couple times, he got a hang of it. “Thank you,” he murmured, something inside him having cracked badly. His usual attitude and bratiness seemed to have been stripped away from him, leaving Gage to deal with a stranger. Dae wasn’t Dae without his clever remarks and occasional complaining. As they walked, the boy set his head against Gage’s arm, holding on tight to him. It wasn’t a far walk, but even that seemed to tire him out. Exhaustion and pain had clouded up his eyes and stolen the skip out of his walk. He probably shouldn’t have been skipping regardless, considering he’d just been stabbed, and normally, no amount of threats, begging or orders would have stopped him. Now? He’d become completely submissive. It was scary.

The Second Cup was a dimly lit shop with cute little mushroom-like tables around which stools were clustered around. There wasn’t music playing, and the person behind the register looked depressed as fuck. He was a man, maybe in his fifties, with white hair and a receding hairline which he’d tried (and failed) to cover up with a baseball cap. Under his uniform, he wore a “New Calydon Chameleons” football style shirt. He had skin as red as a cherry, whether it was booze or he just burned easily, nobody knew. And to top that off, he took one look at Dae on Gage’s arm and coughed out, looking away in disgust. “Lovely,” Dae murmured, peeling himself off his friend and crossing his arms over his chest. He took a step back from them then, biting his tongue and looking away. He couldn’t fight him. Not right now. Maybe later. But apparently, not fighting wasn’t an option. Because the moment Gage approached the counter, the man started talking. “Listen, boys. I understand that you’re gay. I get it. I’m not homophobic. But can you not shove it in the face of other people?”

Dae’s numbness was replaced by anger. Yes, he was gay. Yes, they were gay. And they could hold hands in public if they wanted to, damn it. “Shove it in people’s faces?” He said innocently, going back to Gage’s side, taking his hand. “Oh, you mean this?” He held their intertwined fingers up, turning around to face the few people who were actually in the shop. Unlike his place, Second Cup was nearly empty, the only poor souls which sat at the tables clearly hating their life. “Do you guys mind?” He asked loudly, getting the attention of pretty much there. The best part was, they were mostly Millennials, Xers, and Zoomers. They all looked up, one of the women there smiling and pointing to the small Bi Pride pin she was wearing excitedly. “Nope,” a kid who couldn’t have been more than fifteen replied. “Gay pride, bitches,” a man said, sipping his coffee with a pinky up, legs crossed, back straight. He looked like an absolute queen, and the girl curled up around him, her hands around his waist and head on his shoulder gave a thumbs up without opening her eyes. There was only one customer who minded, apparently. A scrawny teen with sleeked back, bleached hair, and square glasses which actually brought out his honey brown eyes quite nicely. He had a sad excuse of a Star of David tattoo on his hand, was wearing a poorly fitted suit with sleeves so short his entire wrist was exposed, and, this was the most interesting part, he was one of Daemon’s old classmates. “Hello Burt, how are you?” Dae asked, plopping himself one of the chairs near the counter. “Having fun not getting laid?”

“You’re a fag prostitute, Demon, don’t act like you’re better than me.” The artist chuckled, crossing his legs and leaning against the counter behind him. “Oh my god!” He turned to Gage, all theatricality and shock, hand flying to his lips. “Cat’s out of the bag!” Well, this hadn’t been the way he’d wanted to tell Gage about his…previous job, but it was as good of a way as any. “And look where it got me, Burt, darling. I have a house. I own a business. I’ve got the mafia watching over me. AND. I’ve got a man. Well…sorta. I’m still trying to figure that out. While I do that, how about you tell these lovely people about how you and a few of your classmates payed me to s-“

“Shut up!” the teenager hissed, his face lighting up a bright red. “Some of the perks of being a prostitute,” Dae said, studying his nails, “…endless blackmail.” It didn’t take long after that for Burt to pack up his things and walk out, fast. It was hilarious, and as soon as he was out of the door, a man who looked completely and utterly straight started clapping, chuckling from behind his rather impressive dreads. This started off a chain reaction, and soon almost everybody in the shop was clapping lightly, identical smiles on their faces. “That. Was. Fun!” Dae exclaimed, turning back to the counter and propping his chin up on his fist. “So! Coffee. No sugar and decaf! Small and black, please!” Like Jordan’s dick. “I just realized I don’t know how you take your coffee,” Dae complained, turning towards Gage. “Let me guess…hmm, you seem like a milk kinda guy? You’re an athlete, so, I’m guessing no sugar, but I could be wrong…um? Tall? What the hell, I have no idea. How do you like your coffee, Gage?”

It was at that point that poor Sebastian walked in. He was still in his NCPD uniform, his long chestnut brown hair had come out of its usual pony tail and had frizzed over, his eyes were red and from the looks of it, he was on the verge of collapse. “Biggest, most caffeinated coffee you sell, he murmured, tossing a twenty on the counter and practically falling on one of the chairs. The top buttons of his uniform had come undone, revealing a few strands of golden-brown hair, and a thick silver chain. “Right away sir,” the man behind the counter said, and thirty seconds later, he was sliding a huge cup across the counter, pocketing the twenty. Sebastian noticed Dae and Gage when he reached for the coffee, a flash of recognition crossing his face. “You,” he said, pointing at Gage. “Have we met? You look familiar.” He raised his glove hands, blocking out all of Gage’s face but his eyes. Then he proceeded to pull out his badge. “NCPD,” he said. “Where were you Monday, January 3rd, between the hours of 12: 30 am and 1:00 am?” Sebastian’s voice had gone from being tired and warn out to ice cold. He stood up, managing to tower over Gage, which didn’t happen very often, and had shifted his jacket to reveal the government issued gun he carried. Dae’s eyes widened in alarm. He inserted himself between the cop and Gage, wrapping an arm around his friend’s waist. “It was my birthday,” he said, pressing close to the man and snuggling into his chest the way an affectionate cat might have. “He was at my house all night, Seb.”

“Oh…” Sebastian suddenly deflated, sinking onto his chair and putting his head in his hands. “Sorry. Hi Daemon. Hi Daemon’s boyfriend.” He set his head on the table and closed his eye, pressing his lips in a thin line. The poor guy was at the end of his rope. Plus, his appearance had given Dae a reason to get close to his friend again, so he wasn’t complaining too much. “So. Can we have our coffee now?” the artist asked, turning towards Gage.
 
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