Sunday, August 10, 2014



*Story contains M/M relations, suggestions of violence, and sexual scenes.*

If there was one thing Hayley could say about himself comfortably, it was that he was imaginative. It was, actually, the only thing Hayley was comfortable saying of himself. And if he was being completely honest, he wasn't even really sure it was complimentary.

From the time he was a boy, it had always been the same descriptive—parent-teacher conferences, mental 'health' evaluations, peer assessments—'Hayley has a brilliant imagination'. Which, at the end of the day, was just a really nice way of saying that Hayley could lie through his teeth and make it so sound so convincing that half the time he even started believing it himself.

It was the kind of gift that made for great fun – to the person weaving the stories. To everyone else it was just annoying. The number of times that Hayley got to hear the story of 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf' amused him to no end. Or how often his mother would pause through a telephone conversation and ask him if he was 'sure that actually happened'.

He didn't just play the game with his own life either. It stayed with him everywhere. Work, school, grocery store, standing in line at the bank; even as Hayley sat bouncing along with the tires of the bus, he couldn't stop his eyes from travelling the length of the vehicle and back again, assessing each and every passenger they found.

The elderly woman sitting by herself in the worn clothing and scuffed shoes, but with massive rings on her fingers? She was a displaced middle-Eastern princess who fled the country as a young woman when her family was being investigated for fraud activities. Not only was she forced to leave behind a fortune, carrying nothing with her but the jewels on her own body, she also left behind her one true love – the dashing young detective with a thick accent and thicker cock.

The bus driver with the glazed over eyes that looked like he was a million miles away? He'd spent the morning hacking his cheating wife and her lover into spaghetti. Blood-strewn walls, stiff bodies and gathering flies awaited his return amidst the dark and damp walls of his basement rec-room. What the driver had failed to realise however, is that his wife and the handsome young man were not having a romantic encounter at all. Rather, she'd been giving the man piano lessons in an effort to save money and surprise her husband with a birthday gift – the trip down south he'd always wanted.

Hayley held back the chuckle that tried to rise at the bus driver's story and pulled out his three-by-five coiled notebook. That might be a good one to write down, even if it had been done a hundred different ways already. He scribbled a few words – mostly the description of the driver's eyes as they continued to stare dully through the glass, reflected in the viewing mirror at the top of the windshield. If Hayley could remember the eyes, the rest of the story would come back to him.

The thunk, thunk, thunk of a rubber ball (cleverly-disguised handmade bomb) as it bounced down the aisle (after being dropped in a hasty attempt to shove it out of the sight of a member of rival cohort) grabbed Hayley's attention, as did the young boy (child soldier who had lost all eight of his family members to gun-fire in a raid against their village) that followed after it. Hayley caught the chocolate-dark eyes of the child and was instantly lost in an imagined moment of ricocheting bullets, agonizing screams and pleas for mercy. The boy frowned at the intensity of Hayley's stare and turned his eyes away.

"You know," said a voice from behind Hayley. "If you stare at people's children, said people tend to get the impression that you're a little creepy."

Hayley jumped, spun around and eyed the man. Not bad, Hayley decided; tall, slim, tanned skin, dark brown hair with the merest nuance of wave. But when the man turned his eyes from the boy and caught Hayley's gaze, Hayley was struck by the most shockingly sky-blue that he'd seen in his life. It was all Hayley could do to stop himself from falling out of his seat in awe. (Obviously a spy; undercover mission, incognito travel, simple dress, but unable to hide his true identity unless he wore the contact lenses that, unfortunately, the man had failed to understand marked him just as evidently as if he'd not had them in at all. Foolish, really. One would expect more from a man who'd been both raised and trained, throughout a brutal but hard-won childhood in the moors of Scotland, by distant relations of the fabled Mr. Bond himself.)

"Uh, all right then," the man said finally. "My mistake. You're not a little creepy at all. You're a whole fuck-ton of it."

Hayley widened his eyes. In an almost instinctual reaction he lowered his voice, threw in a heavy slur and lifted his fingers to sign along with the speech. Sign language – just one of the tools that made for the most believable of stories. "I'm sorry," Hayley said around a thick tongue. "I could not see you move your mouth when you spoke. Unless I can read your lips I cannot understand you."

The man lifted an eyebrow. "Oh, really? Then how'd you know to turn around?"

"I saw you speak in the reflection of my screen," Hayley said, holding up his BlackBerry.

"Ah," the man nodded. "Then why didn't you understand what I was saying? If you actually could see me?"

"You were backwards," Hayley provided without hesitation.

"I see," the man said. "You are the strangest deaf person I've ever met."

Hayley fought back a grin. "I never said I was deaf. I said I couldn't understand you unless I was watching you. I have a motor-receptive issue that won't let me process words unless I can visualize them."

"Right…" the man said."And I'm an alien from star sector ninety-three."

Conversation was paused while a woman hurried past on her way to the folding doors. Hayley watched her disembark and then hustle down the street. (A primary school teacher, late for work because she'd stopped at the baker's for bread to make lunch, and, while there, ended up chatting far too long with the elderly gentleman behind the counter, who, widowed for the past dozen years had watched her walk by every morning, waiting for an opportunity to speak with her. They now had a date for that evening, and even as the women yanked at her skirt and tried to keep hold of her paperwork, the baker was hurrying through an impromptu closing up the bakery so he could rush home and pull down dozens of pictures he had of her hanging in his private darkroom.)

Unfazed by his momentary drift, Hayley brought his attention back to his new playmate. "And to whom does your sector designate?" he asked. "The Syndicate or the Radicals?"

The look of detachment on the man's face began to brighten to amusement. "The Syndicate, obviously. Everyone knows the Radicals are just a bunch of insubordinate rebels."

Hayley tsk'd dramatically. "Those of us who know the truth understand that the Radicals are defined far more accurately as revolutionaries than rebels. After all, to rebel is the attempt to replace the constraints imposed by others with a set of one's own, but to revolt is merely a refusal to obey. And, let's face it. It's hard to feel hostility against a group of beings that seek only the right to refuse to live in a way they believe is wrong. If the Syndicate was more lenient with their religious restrictions, the Radicals would never have formed in the first place."

The man began to chuckle. "Wow, impressive. You lost your speech impediment by the way."

Hayley grinned. "It comes and goes. I have an issue with the muscles in my mouth and throat that cause involuntary laxness. It's mostly triggered by stress on the brain due to light patterns and noise stimulation."

"Now that," the man said, tapping the back of Hayley's bench and rising. "Is a damn shame."

Hayley smirked. "It's usually cured by horizontal positioning in a dark, quiet room." He could have danced with glee when the man paused.

"Well, Maverick," the man said with a long look. "I'd love to talk with you further but I'm actually meeting my band for a last minute practise session before we board a jet for the Andes. We've been hired to play for the king of the Sobera tribe. I'll be back tomorrow though. Maybe I'll see you then?"

"I'd like that," Hayley nodded, speaking above the sound of the bus' brakes squealing with displeasure. "If you don't see me right away just give it a moment. I tend to blend well with the crowd. Years of tactical training while doing subversive operations in Indonesia."

The man grabbed his briefcase and walked to the double doors at the midpoint of the vehicle. "I'll keep a very sharp eye then," he said. The doors opened with a rush of wind. Dust danced playfully with bits of leaf and paper while the man began to descend the stairs. "Oh," he said, stopping at the final step. "My name is Micah."

And for once in his life, nothing clever came to Hayley's assistance. He blushed. He swallowed. Finally he just said, "I'm Hayley."

The doors closed with a powdery hiss and from the other side of the glass and steel, Hayley saw Micah smile.


Hayley hadn't really expected Micah to show the next day. There were two solid, rational reasons for that. For one, he'd never seen Micah on the bus before and Hayley had ridden the bus four out of seven days consistently during the two years he'd been in the city. Every regular that rode along with him had their own story in Hayley's head. It followed the person, developed; it twisted and turned, and dipped and rose the more Hayley saw. He knew the imagined lives of these people better than he knew his own. Micah would not have gone unnoticed. Micah was, in fact, one of those guys that Hayley saved his 'special' stories for – the kinds of stories where long, slim bodies, fantastic eyes, and a clever tongue came in handy. Not necessarily for speech either.

The second reason he doubted the return of the smiling, playful enchanter known (hopefully) as Micah was because cool things like Micah only happened to Hayley in his mind. Hayley's mom liked to tell him it was payback. His Dad said it was because he was untrustworthy. Hayley just figured people didn't like his vibe much and, for the most part, he was fine with that. People in general sucked.

So he'd actually been scrolling through Google links for the top news stories of the week when Hayley heard the voice he'd been preoccupied with since that time the previous day.

"Don't turn around," Micah said, his voice so close to Hayley's ear that the rush of air tickled. "There's been a man following me since 23rd Street. It's obvious that he knows about my involvement with the International Crimes Investigation Unit. It's quite possible, even, that he's aware I have on my person the blueprints for the White House that we recovered from a crack team of usurpers." Micah patted his briefcase.

Hayley flicked his eyes to the left. "Don't look!" Micah hissed. "You'll give away the fact I know I'm being tailed!"

"Sir," Hayley replied in a soft Southern drawl. "What could a boy like me possibly do to help a man like yourself? Lord, I reckon I can't even place 23rd Street let alone offer you any assistance. I'm fresh to the city, you see, barely been but a week. And 'sides, my Mama raised a gentleman! We don't go running into the middle of trouble when it happens along. That just sounds downright sinful if you ask me."

"But you need to protect me!" Micah whispered, stepping out of his seat to dash in beside Hayley. "Not to mention the President!"

Hayley shook his head patiently. "No, sir. You need to be keeping in mind that the sweet baby Jesus himself is protecting all of us with his love and his light. No human can best that."

"Hmm," Micah leaned back against the seat and took a long look at Hayley. "That's almost just a little too convincing. Where are you from anyway?"

"Originally?" Hayley asked.

"Yeah," Micah said, setting his briefcase between his legs and getting comfortable. When he turned to look at Hayley, Micah's right knee and his left bumped together. Hayley held his breath, waiting for the inevitable yank away from contact. It never came. "Originally and really. As in, for real."

"Columbus, Ohio." Hayley admitted. "But I've been in New York for almost two years. I go to Columbia University." Micah looked at him, seemingly surprised with the honesty, and Hayley grinned. "But the evenings, of course, I spend with my lover, Francoise Romero. He's been granted immunity from the U.S. government for helping to abolish an undocumented terrorist threat in Italy. Unfortunately for dear sweet Romero, he didn't realise the group had deep roots within the elite, including many key players in the country's government. So he spent six months running for his life before the U.S. was able to secure him and provide sanctity." Hayley sighed dramatically. "He doesn't get out much now that he's developed agoraphobia."

Micah's face fell as Hayley spoke. Probably not enough for anyone else to catch, but Hayley had no problem picking up the twitch in eye and lip, the slight dulling of expression. "What?" Hayley asked, completely confused.

Nervous fingers began to fiddle with the handle of his case and Micah looked away. "Is there... uh... you know..." Micah cleared his throat. "A Francoise?"

Hayley didn't answer but he shook his head, 'no', around a smile.

Micah turned back. "A Francine?"

Hayley snorted and followed with another head shake of negation.

The bus began to grind to a stop and Micah looked forward, then back. "This is my stop."

Micah stood and the bus driver looked up to watch their reflections. Micah held up his finger towards the gaze, 'one minute' and the driver continued to stare with uninterested disassociation. "Maybe you might like to meet for coffee or something? Dinner, even? If your species can digest human food, of course."

"Not really," Hayley tilted his head. "But I have an internal atomizer I use when I come across situations where I need to maintain the illusion of humanity through social interaction. It's painful and tedious but, for you, I'll make the sacrifice."

Micah grinned, shook his head and handed Hayley a card. "My cell number is on it. Text me your email address and we'll figure out a place."

"Come on now," the bus driver told them with neither inflection nor emotion in his voice. "Move it on out or you're here until the next."

Micah stepped towards the door. "If you change your mind, don't worry. No big deal. Otherwise let me know what date will work for you."

As the doors shut and the driver waited to remerge into traffic, Hayley dug out his phone and began to type.

Tonight would work.

Hayley watched Micah react to the notification and tap the phone into life. He turned back towards the bus and grinned at Hayley through the window. Two teenagers walked past him, lost in each other's words (completely oblivious to the fact that they were both very likely in dire peril from the twitching man who followed closely behind them, stalking them on their way to school as he had for the last four mornings). A small dog sniffed at Micah's leg (its sparkling collar a clever ruse of mere stones and not the actual diamonds that were being transported incognito to a waiting buyer). Two pigeons sat nestled in a tree above him (taking a brief rest from their journey of exchanging prose between a lonely old woman and a life-time resident of the Clinton Correctional Facility, posing as rural hermit).

When the bus pulled away and Micah began typing, Hayley had to fight the urge to writhe into his seat with the thrill of excitement that found him. His phone trilled. His hands shook. He pressed the button to open the message.

Tonight would be perfect.


Hayley hovered across the street from the tiny French bistro where they were supposed to meet. He watched the waitress—feet heavy, eyes tired, yet with a practised smile on her face—offer jokes with drinks and compliments with plates. (The fatigue wasn't her fault; she suffered from undiagnosed mononucleosis that she picked up after sharing a cherry coke with a friend who'd been visiting from Mexico. The waitress was lucky, her friend was actually in the hospital recovering from a car accident she'd had after falling asleep at the wheel as she suffered with the condition. It was a shame, really, that the two of them rarely talked.)

He saw Micah arrive; swinging his legs in an unhurried and relaxed gait, and was momentarily startled by his outfit. Wingtip Oxfords in traditional black and white polished so bright Hayley could see the shine from where he stood; sleek black suit, well-fitted from slacks to jacket; silk scarf and white button-up, all topped with an offset derby. If the man had taken the time to secure a toothbrush moustache, he could have been mistaken as the reincarnation of Chaplin himself. Hayley couldn't hold back the wide smile. Lovely! Just... damn... lovely!

He almost regretted his own outfit: brilliant red sneakers, tight black jeans, plain black t-shirt and blood red leather blazer. Had Hayley known they were going to play dress-up, he would have gladly participated.

"Sir?" Hayley called across the street in the loudest British voice he could manage. "'Scuse me, sir, but could you please tell me the name of this street? I've been searching for a recording studio that was s'posed to be nearby but I think I've made a mess of my instructions."

Micah looked left, looked right, and waved Hayley over with a slight gesture, wordless. "Look," Micah said quietly when Hayley stepped from the road and on to the curb. "At the bar, through the window, do you see him?"

A lone man sat on a stool, a pensive look on a drawn face, taking long sips at a glass of amber liquid. "Ah," Hayley sighed. "What a shame." Micah caught Hayley's eye, watching silently until Hayley continued. "He's been waiting for a lover for hours. He already knows the man isn't coming but yet there he sits, drink after drink. The sad fact of the matter is that his lover has been tangled with another man in the throes of ecstasy; time has lost all meaning to the both of them." Hayley offered a look of pity to the back of the man's head. "I don't think he'll be joining you tonight, my friend."

Micah nodded. "Now take it farther."

Hayley shot him a confused glance. "What do you mean?"

"Well," Micah said, shifting to stare closer. "You've told his history, explained the characters, now what? What happens next?" Micah turned his attention back to Hayley, an odd look on his face. "When he stumbles from the restaurant, drunk and destitute, where does he go? What does he do about it? What transpires between our forlorn hero and his heartless lover?"

"I don’t..." Hayley frowned. "I don't know. I never take it forward. I just imagine their story as it is."

"Try," Micah prompted.

Hayley paused, his frown deepening. "I... well..." He thought about it. He let the story play in his head. It didn't come at first, not until he really focussed on the patron's form. "He leaves the bar, stumbling, saving his tears for the street, not able to fight them once the cooler air hits his face. Beaten, angry, he walks home mumbling to himself about promises and futures. The house is dark, the rooms are quiet when he fumbles his keys into the door and steps inside. He just wants to go to bed. He's tired. He's broken. And that's his plan – until he sees the picture on the piano. It's the one of him and his lover on the beach, and they're so happy, so together, and something inside his heart lets go. He drives to his lover's home in a fit of rage, screaming so loud at the door that his lover is forced to let him inside before someone calls the police. The loft still smells like unknown cologne and sex. He's screaming, his lover is pleading, and when he sees the knife-block on the counter he can't stop himself. He pulls the blade, plunges it not once, but three times into his lover's chest as his lover stares, wide-eyed and terrified, his prayers for mercy lost to the bubbles of blood forced into his dying throat."

Hayley looked over at Micah, almost breathless from the non-stop speech. "And they all lived happily ever after."

"Apparently," Micah smiled. He put out his hand and wiggled his fingers until Hayley tentatively reached for it. "Let's eat."

Soft bells, music just one side of either too loud or too quiet depending on the conversation, muted lighting and the olfactory-teasing aroma of garlic and spice met their entrance. A woman and a man sat, smothered in candlelight, open bottle of wine, the epitome of romance. And yet, not, Hayley decided. (Her husband, not her dinner partner, was away on yet another business trip. Lonely, angry she'd called her co-worker and asked him to join her. Just as friends, of course. There'd been wine, quiet conversation and she now sat, worried and trying to decide just how far she wanted to take the night.)

A bartender, large and jovial, wiped glasses (with a towel he'd just coughed into several moments ago. Bacterial pneumonia, picked up while shopping in the Village, from an elderly Asian man attempting to sell him chicken pieces – only fifty-nine cents a pound, sir, only fifty-nine cents!)

The bistro wasn't busy, a good thing Hayley considered. Perhaps he'd be able to keep his mind on conversation for a change. "Dining room?" the hostess asked and while Hayley considered the tall leather boots, tight skirt, (and the second job she held as a topless dancer/performer in an exclusive club that catered to the raunchiest of perversions) Micah shook his head and pointed towards the bar.

"How about the booth in the corner by the wine rack?" he asked, pulling his and Hayley's clasped hands closer to his chest. "We prefer privacy."

"Of course," the hostess said, not batting an eye at the gesture.

Hayley wasn't expecting the stop along the way though. As they passed the bar—the mindless bartender, the line of clean but filthy glassware, the tall palms that whispered as they walked past, and the lone patron still on his stool, still gripping and sipping his drink—Micah stopped. He leaned into the man, startling both bartender and tended, and spoke so quietly Hayley only heard him by straining. "He's not worth it, friend. Stop drinking. Go home and sleep. Don't be misled by a fool that doesn't know his own worth, let alone yours."

Stunned Hayley caught Micah's eye as he pulled away from the speechless man. Micah shrugged and smiled. "Just keeping the game alive."

They stopped at the booth and Micah tossed his hat along the bench where it slid, turning slowly, before coming to a rest perfectly snuggled in the corner. They nodded their thanks to the hostess, slid in and waited to be served. "That was weird," Hayley told him.

"The hat?" Micah asked innocently.

"The man," Hayley corrected.

Micah grinned. "Thank you. Your turn?"

"Hmm?" Hayley said, flipping over the drink menu.

"Hey there, gents," said a voice that was far more forced than chipper. Hayley turned his eyes towards the waitress he'd seen on the patio earlier.

"Red wine for me," Micah said. "A merlot I think." He handed the drink menu to the woman and waited for Hayley.

"Make that a carafe instead then," Hayley said and just as she began to turn away, Hayley stopped her. "Oh, right. By the way? You should probably get that issue checked by a doctor. It's more than you think it is. And while you're at it, call your friend. Shared cherry cokes once a year does not a good friend make."

He didn't stop to consider the look she gave him. Nor did he waste any time trying to figure out why the rest of the night they were served by the hostess instead.


They took their time walking back to Micah's, which was, apparently, only a short distance from where they'd eaten. Micah had insisted on the walk, a chance to get to know one another Micah said, even though Hayley adamantly explained his chronic knee condition that caused spasms to run the length of his leg if he put too much pressure on it for too great a time.

"Right," Micah said, rolling his eyes. "From your time in the military?"

"Of course not," Hayley scoffed. "It was the bullfight in Barcelona." Then, pausing at the exit door, Hayley touched his fingertip to his chin. "No, no, no. I'm wrong. That's the right shoulder. The knee is from the wild boar when I was backpacking through South America."

The walk was nice though, Hayley admitted silently albeit still grudgingly. The air had cooled but not to be point of chills, and the sky had never looked so dark, nor the stars so bright. "Did I ever tell you," Hayley asked, "that I worked with a research team for NASA in high school? I was very tiny, see, and they wanted to know the effects a lack of gravity would have on a smaller body."

"Oh?" Micah said, stopping so suddenly that Hayley practically ran up the back of him. "How small?"

Keys sounded against a hard surface, a switch was flicked and they made their way into what appeared to be a storage area with a service elevator. "Very small," Hayley answered. "My father had a genetic condition known as achondroplasia. When I was sixteen I was only thirty-six inches tall." Metal clanged as the elevator slid open and shut behind them. Micah selected the number 'four' and the machinery began to respond. "In retribution, they offered to let me take part in the human trials of what was being professed as a groundbreaking medication that would not only halt any progression of the disorder, but actually reverse it."

"I see," Micah said, reaching out to steady himself when the elevator shook to a stop. Only two doors graced the tiny hallway when they stepped out of the machine. Micah turned left and Hayley trailed after.

"Unfortunately the meds, though they worked perfectly against the issues, couldn't be released to the public," Hayley explained as Micah once again worked lock and key and pressed away barrier. Hayley stepped in at Micah's direction and followed Micah's lead as he began to toe off shoes and remove his jacket.

"What was the reason?" Micah asked, turning and reaching for Hayley's jacket.

Instead of handing it over Hayley dropped the jacket, grabbed and pulled Micah's extended arm while stepping to the side and spinning. Micah's spine met wall with a definitive thud and a surprised, "Oh!"

Hayley stepped forward, hovering just under Micah's lips. "The pills turned normal men into sexual deviants," Hayley told him.

"Fucking perfect," Micah chuckled. "Where can I send my donation?"

Hayley grinned wickedly. "Tell you what, I'll accept the deposit on their behalf."

"Deal," Micah said quickly, arms encircling Hayley's waist and he was suddenly lifted, feet dangling. "There are way better places to do that than the wall though."

Hayley laughed as he was half-carried, half-dragged into the living room. "Couch or bed?" Micah asked and Hayley shrugged.

"Fucking floor is fine..."

He was dropped so quickly his feet barely had time to react. "Fine, floor it is." Micah stepped forward, placed his right leg between Hayley's two, and his left on the outside of Hayley's right. The back of Hayley's jeans were gripped, their hips pushed into one another's groins and Micah purred. "Maybe we should get on it then."

Hayley's feet were kicked out at the same time his waist was grabbed and tilted, the feat so smooth it felt like a dance move, and he was lowered to the floor as Micah knelt. The carpet was well-padded, as luxurious as velvet, and Hayley tried to fight away a story about an argument with a contractor over hardwood that didn't end up showing, and a concession on ridiculously expensive broadloom for bargain basement pricing as a way to appease.

"Here now," Micah told him. "I need you here right now." Micah's eyes were bright, the scent of merlot still heavy on his tongue. Hayley sighed only once before his breath was stolen with a kiss. When Micah's tongue moved into Hayley's mouth there was no fight, no feeling of being breached or taken, merely it was the fitting of one thing to another that was made for that purpose – a plug into a socket, liquid into a cup.

Hayley supposed there should have been less give in him, some act of morality that attempted to slow the advancing hands if for no other reason than to fake that he sat at least on the side of piousness. He gave the thought no room for discussion however, his own fingers fumbling over clothing with far less accuracy and patience than Micah was devoting to his. Fucking buttons, so tiny and fragile... and visions of small, dark hands toiling on an ancient sewing machine in unbearable heat threatened to creep into a moment it did not belong.

Micah pulled back quickly, sitting up and bracing on his thighs while he worked the buttons himself and yanked the shirt off his arms. It was flung unceremoniously to the side. "Yours," Micah instructed and began to tug at the fabric of Hayley's t-shirt before Hayley had the chance to adjust positioning. Black cotton was treated with no more dignity than the linen had been.

"Stay right here," Micah said, lifting off Hayley's legs. "Don't move."

"Where...?" Hayley frowned.

"I need to get..." Micah started, and then stopped with a grin. "I need to call the Mother ship, of course."

"Ah," Hayley let his head drop back to the carpet with a laugh. "My mistake; so sorry. Do let them know I'll be offline for about an hour myself, will you?" He closed his eyes and let his own hand fall, to replace the warmth so abruptly removed, playing lightly to keep that which was interested from falling short. Sock shuffled against carpet, a wakening heater pinged to life, responding to the decreasing temperature outside. A drawer was opened and products tumbled. Micah is standing in front of the mirror, he thought. (He's lifting his head and staring at his own reflection,) Hayley popped the button of his jeans and slid the zipper down. (He's running his hand through his hair, over his chest and catching his breath,) Hayley pushed the denim over his hips, one side then the other and slid his hand into his boxers. Touch yourself, he told the imaginary Micah and the bathroom began to wave out of focus, form into a darker, warmer place.

(Reflective glass became heavy curtains, bare-skin became pyjamas and tile became rumpled sheets. The vanity check, upright and chilled, with lifted eyebrows and assessing eyes dropped to prone and heated, narrowed, tight, eyelids closed hard. Slippery sleepwear moved easily over linens as muscles thrashed legs into position and the fist that once dragged through hair gripped hard cock.)

Hayley groaned, matched the movement and position, and a soft hum harmonized with his own sound. He opened his eyes and watched Micah walk towards him.

"Don't stop," Micah said softly. "I like it."

"I was just keeping your place," Hayley grinned.

Micah caught Hayley's eyes with a smirk. "That sounds about accurate." He knelt beside Hayley, dropping two condoms and a bottle of lube. With a slow, deliberate touch he ran one hand down Hayley's leg, catching the hem of jeans at the bottom. "May I?"

"Just watch the ankle," Hayley said, far more breathless than intended. "I got shot when I was in considering joining the forces. Ride along." Ridiculously tight pants were yanked mercilessly off Hayley's legs. "They thought it would be a standard call, simple domestic over Christmas." He grunted as Micah forced the final inches of fabric over his feet. The jeans joined the pile of clothing, underwear twined within them. Micah stroked his calves, knees and thighs. "Turned out the guy was armed. Drugged up too…" Hayley choked on his words when Micah's palm reached his bare cock.

Micah licked his lips, swallowed. "What do you want to do?" Micah asked and suddenly the only thing Hayley could do was nod.

"Anything," Hayley told him. "Everything."

Another nervous swipe of tongue crossed Micah's mouth. "I want to fuck you," he said, searching out Hayley's gaze with his own. "Can I fuck you?"

Hayley shifted underneath him, spreading his legs wider before wrapping them around Micah's waist. "Hell, yes."

Both of Micah's hands fell hard beside Hayley's head and Micah leaned over, dropping to support himself on one elbow before reaching between them again to stroke Hayley's cock. "Look at me," Micah said. "Give me your eyes."

He didn't want to, not when Micah's attention was there, right on him, experimenting with grips and slide. But he held back the growl of frustration and raised his face.

Brown to blue, dark to light, narrator to participating audience, Hayley looked into Micah's eyes and got lost in something so much more fantastical than even his mind could come up with. A kaleidoscope: shifting realities, a chess game of starts and stops, patterns and designs that could not be followed or traced because the outcome was always changing. He paid no attention to the sounds of latex or slick, groaning at the nudge of pressure against intimate holes and saw futures and families, seasons and holidays, coffee cups and dinner plates, events and moments, and they all moved and twisted and made no sense but woven into the chaos was a promotion of something real and tangible.

"Wizard," Hayley breathed with the first thrust of rigid flesh. Their original meeting Hayley had looked into Micah's eyes and his mind had fooled him. This was no spy. This was a man of magic. "Displaced, light years from home," he barely knew his own words; they dribbled from lips that did as much gasping as forming linguistics.

"Searching," Micah continued the story for him when Hayley paused. "For a rare source of power."

Hayley moaned, rocking in and out of the penetration, in and out of the fist around his body. "That's been calling to him…"

"For years…" Micah said, panting.

"Hnngh," Hayley arched, oblivious to the friction of the carpet below shoulder blades and hips. "Because the power simply flounders without the magic…"

"And the magic is useless without the power to light its path." Micah said against Hayley's whine.

"Harder," Hayley asked.

"Faster," Micah agreed, and the story was momentarily lost to urgency and intensity.

Skin slapped skin, mouths tasted and slide increased in both entry and retribution, building, doubling, tripling in force until Hayley thought he would lose his mind. Yet just before Hayley was sure he'd gambled his soul against something too overwhelming to manage, sensation broke; he hissed through gritted teeth and streams of pleasure unloaded over his own trembling belly.

"Nah, fuck!" Micah dug his forehead into Hayley's chest and Hayley clung to his shoulders just to feel the spasms bounce through Micah's back as he came.

Several moments passed before Micah pulled away and rolled on to his side. Hayley turned, face-to-face, and grinned. "Best story ever," Hayley said.

Micah levelled their eyes and reached out for Hayley's hand, weaving their fingers together. "Yeah, it's a good one."


It was Monday morning and the rain drizzled with the dreary monotony of a young widow's tears. There was a bite to the wind, a northeastern breath, as if reminding everyone that autumn was merely reprieve of the worst yet to come. Hayley's body ached everywhere: abrasion burns rubbed against shirt and trousers, his head throbbed from lack of sleep, and muscles had tightened in fury over the stretching and contorting that they were unaccustomed to. His feet were cold, his hair was wet, his body was about to file an abuse claim against him... and Hayley had never felt happier in his entire life. He'd woken with a grin, still sported one as he waited for the bus, and had no doubts that it would remain with him for the day. Life was very good.

Micah and he had spent way, way too much time in bed—on the floor, on the couch, in the shower—and he was paying for it, gladly. It was as if they'd found something inside one another, a drug, renewal, vitality, and once they tasted it, they hadn't been able to stop until they used up every ounce they could find. Micah had more than met Hayley's request for 'everything'. The weekend had passed like it had been on wheels, but that was all right. In another five days one would come around again.

The stop was quiet, only one other gentleman waited (a business man, desperately clinging to a career he'd far lost hold on to the younger, the smarter, the up-and-comers and the go-getters. He'd spent the weekend contemplating life, decisions, his family and his friends. Tucked inside his briefcase was a brand new container of prescription sleeping pills. Today would be his last day on Earth) so there was no throng to fight when Hayley boarded the familiar vehicle. He looked up, surprised at the cheerful nod and smile that greeted him from the driver's seat. "Morning!"

"Good morning," Hayley said back. "Weather sucks but I guess it's better than snow."

A round face, cheeks too flushed for the weather (well-monitored alcohol abuse, the bottle came out at six-oh-four-p.m. but was always tucked away by ten-thirty) offered him a happy sigh. "I just love the rain. It's the angels' way of washing the world."

Hayley flashed his bus pass and he was nodded on. "Jack on holidays?" he asked of the missing driver that normally owned the current driver's spot.

"Not sure," new-guy said. "But I'll get you where you're going just as good."

Hayley shrugged and began to pick his way down the aisle when he was stopped with a leg that barred his passage. Black denim, stylishly ripped and frayed, safety pins and broken stitches bottomed below a filthy flannel and beaten leather jacket. The punk rock kid from Davidson Avenue, already identified in Hayley's illusions as a stepfather hating, bad-music playing, loudmouth troublemaker who could suck cock like nobody's business, and did… usually for cash.

"Dude," the teen whispered conspiratorially. "Didn't you hear?" Hayley tilted his head; surprised the young man was showing such a spark of interest, confused as to why he felt so drawn to it. Punk-kid tapped the seat beside him and Hayley slid in with a frown. Punk-kid lifted out of his sprawl, eyes lit and expression almost feral. "The driver, man; you know, the normal guy?" Hayley nodded. "Cops busted into his place this weekend."

Hayley felt something cold begin to slink down his spine.

Punk-kid leaned closer, licked a perfect set of lips, "Chopped his old lady the fuck to pieces they're saying. Some dude too." He sat back, grinning like he'd just been offered a golden ticket on American Idol.

An odd buzz had started in the back of Hayley's brain – he thought of a man at a bar and a look of stunned surprise. He recalled a pretty yet dog-tired waitress staring at him with suspicious awe. He thought of empty, glazed eyes and a story about blood-spattered panelling and gathering flies.

"It was the neighbours," punk-kid smirked and tapped his nose. "The smell. Bodies had been there for going on a week."

Hayley stood on shaky legs and pulled himself out into the aisle. "Dude?" punk-kid asked. "You all right?"

Hayley shook his head. No. No, he was definitely not all right. He fell into a bench a few seats back and held a fist to his belly, trying to control the pounding that had started there when his heart dropped. He imagined it now, fish-like, flopping, trying desperately to continue beating while it thrashed within the acids of his stomach.

"And you will not believe this," he whipped his around to the words, relaxing when he saw a woman talking into her cell phone and not, in fact, to him. (Primary school teacher... baker...) "Then I find these pictures! I'm not kidding you Mandy, dozens of them, tucked away in his drawer." A pause, and what little blood was left in Hayley's face began to fall as well. He felt light-headed. He felt sick to his stomach. He felt... all kinds of wrong.

"Never mind what I was doing in the drawer, Mandy! The point is the creep had been taking pictures of me! For months! What kind of a stalker..."

Hayley flung himself out of the seat, staring mortified at the startled woman. "What the hell?" she whispered and Hayley was gone. Stumbling, confused, towards the back of the bus where he threw himself into farthest seat and dove for the corner.

Impossible. Ridiculous. They were stories and nothing more, lies and games played out in his own mind – nothing real. He took a deep breath, rallied against the tremors and fought himself for control. The bus rolled to a stop, brakes still squealing (mechanic... distracted... misaligned screw...) and Hayley whined in harmony.

A woman stepped into the vehicle, hair streaming, make-up smudged (that tickle in her throat not just the weather) and Hayley fisted his hands against his eyes. Waves of stories (stories?) hit him and he flailed mentally at them, fighting them away behind closed eyes that popped and bloomed with fireworks of pressure.

He held his hands that way until the bus began to drive, until the panic began to subside; until he was convincing himself of circumstance and coincidence. And when he let them drop, after his eyes had cleared as well as his head, he lifted his gaze and levelled them across the aisle. Micah had come onto the bus unseen behind the woman and had sat to wait. Hayley stared, and confusion began to soften...

"Look," Micah had said, "through the window. What do you see?"

"Now take it farther," Micah had asked him. "What happens after?"

"He's not worth it, friend." Micah had told a startled stranger. "Go home and sleep."

... because the magic was nothing without the power source to guide it. (Look through the window – tell me what you see.)

... and without the magic, the power source flailed. It put soldier's grimaces on the faces of little boys with balls. It couldn't identify fantasy from reality, game from vision.

... but joined... "Who knows what could be saved?" Micah said into the silence between them.

"Zauberer," Hayley choked.

Micah smiled. "Guten morgen, meine Quelle."

It sounded stupid, even to his own mind, but he didn't let it stop him. Hayley whispered, "The man in seat three, right side, staring out the window. There's a bottle of sleeping pills in his case. He intends to take his own life."

Micah nodded. And slid from his seat.

The End

Copyright © 2012 AF Henley

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