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Amber and the stench embedded into his hair along with bits of glass .

It was his ' shampoo ' he'd grown used to but didn't want and now , was going to leave behind and hit the road to find something better .

To redesign .

Rebuild .

Reclaim his life .

Get out of Hell and create his personal Heaven at last .

" I'll be making dinner again tonight ? " the young man whispered bitterness spooned over sarcasm to his mother as he unfolded an extra blanket from her bedroom closet and left it now draped over her passed out but snoring .

He checked the fridge , not feeling up to doing anything kitchen related besides reheating leftovers , if there were any .

Nada .

" I'm an adult now , legally aged eighteen and graduated yesterday . You should be glad I'm not a high school dropout . You SHOULD be proud and celebrating with me , bragging and we'd be eating steak in a nice restaurant . Instead you're back with your best friend , beer and I'm done with you , done living here and trapped , held down like this ! " the teenager shouted and punched the pillow beneath his mother's head , just missing hitting one side of her flushed , shiny damp face .

She didn't flinch , only kept snoring that annoying rattling sound .

" Useless drunk . Pathetic , worthless , pitiful alcoholic waste ! "

Tying his shoelaces and dragging wrists through the jacket sleeve holes , he left .

Didn't care enough any longer to leave a note .

Besides , she knew where he'd be .

Colby wasn't bothered ( much ) walking into the building , nor did he find the so - called ' hardcore makeover ' of the decaying , ready for the wrecking ball former house of religion distasteful .

Most of the pews , the baptising tub and microphone stand up on the platform stage in the main room had been removed and from what he knew , the mens and womens restrooms , small cafeteria style kitchen , storage room and closet in the back remained the same .

He always looked at everything in wonder and fascination from the unchanged and sparkling clean , very pretty stained glass windows shaped into arches and bigger than he was wooden crosses propped up all over .

Stepping worn sneakers over old car parts , he flopped into a long seat , nodded his aching and scabby head to the classic rock and blues blasting out of giant speakers that had once played gospel after the choir had finished .

He flipped through a Bible ' replacement ' with interest before realizing he'd already seen this month's centerfold , dropped the skin mag and pounced on the back of his ashy smelling , scruffy but surprisingly bathed classmate and one of the better friends , but only after he'd sat down the old plastic juice pitcher he was watering his hanging plant collection with .

" You're under arrest for lighting up inside a church ! " Colby laughed , hanging on to Jon like a baby monkey clinging to its mother's furry back until the other man shook him off to land unharmed on the floor .

" I've served time before but never for smoking . "

" Really ? ! You've been behind bars or are you just running off at the mouth ? "

" I'm not bragging . I try to get locked up in each state I go to . It's kind of a goal of mine and makes me feel worthwhile . " Jon commented and held out a second pitcher .

" You . Are . A . Lunatic . " his buddy backed away , not in a mood to become a gardener out of nowhere .

" Well , hey . I've been called crazy before but this would be a first to hear it from someone I actually like . "

" Don't go getting too emotionally attached to me . I'm headed out of state as soon as I can get my butt on a bus seat . "

" The typically sloshed slob is being more abusive and neglectful , huh ? "

" You guessed ? ! " Colby let his dark brows fly like kites before going back to his sitting area .

" Yeah , I can tell . " Jon leaned behind him and picked glass splinters from waves of black - brown . " What did she do THIS time , Cheese Man ? ! "

" Threw a beer bottle at my head and amazed me by having decent aim . "

" Huh . Ungrateful bitch could've used a non glass material and saved you from future scalp stitchery . "

" I hate to leave you but I can't stay here any longer . "

" Nothing to worry about ' cause I've developed the itch to return to Ohio and see some old friends again . Old meaning that I've known them for a long time , not their ages . "

" Hey , I'm not stupid ! Just amazed that you can find people wanting to be your friend . "

" Oh , you won't believe how many want me . " A round , joyful face capped with dirty blond going to light brown and tangled curls grinned excitedly .

" Maybe or maybe not . " the second man nostril snorted how unimpressed he could be and playfully pushed his friend floor bound .

" So ... "

" Yeah , what ? "

" Let's go see if Joe's at his place and we can say goodbye then . "

 

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Disclaimer - Any and all song lyrics used are the property of Zodiac Mindwarp , Alice Cooper , Nick Coler and Ian Richardson ( and NOT mine ! )

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Joe lived in his van temporarily parked overnight in the lot of a boarded up old fast food restaurant .

" Get back over here ! I don't want to stand around wasting time while you climb on the playground equipment . " Colby fussed without any impact since Jon had already skirted the jingling chain link and hit , tail bone to pebbly gravel and darted merrily to the curving slide .

The half blond shook his head , impatiently ' tsked ' and watched Jon ' Wheeeeeee ! - ing ' while he crawled and slid and played , big grown up kid with scabby knees and elbows and constant pack of smokes .

Colby smiled , feeling genuine love he didn't get from his Mom - that was for damn sure - and tried not to look directly at the googly eyed statues of the man with a cheeseburger for a head , that bizarre grinning purple blubber monstrosity and the brightly dressed , waving clown .

He shuddered and took a step back .

Yeesh , he couldn't stand that creepy - ass clown !

" Hi there , stray . How's your night ? " Joe asked from behind and Colby whirled , grinned and shook hands with the taller young man , reaching to flick fingers into the rounded , slightly helmet shaped and small afro - like hairdo .

" Absolute feces , which is why I'm here . "

They stood mute and looked at Jon scampering from one plaything to the next , hollering in delight .

" Well , ONE of us is having a nice time , I see . "

" He's obnoxious . " Colby said , trying to be pissed off and hateful but was in too much of a great mood to be .

" We're the parents and he's our kid , it's cool . " Joe shrugged , rather amused and kept watching .

" Huh . You're right , he definitely ACTS childish . Or maybe has the mind of an asparagus . "

" Doesn't that gross veggie make your piss acid burn or something ? "

" The hell if I'd know . "

" But you're our foodie , man . The expert . "

" I just eat it , not make it . "

" Yeah , that's what your last girlfriend told me . " Joseph smirked wickedly and Colby stuck his tongue out automatically .

" JOOOOOE ! " Jon tackled them both , shrieking and transferring his dirt stains onto their skin and clothes .

" I'm very happy you're here too , my second stray . " The tannest male laughed and adjusted so that the gravel stuck on his backside would fall from his jeans .

" Stray ? " Colby discreetly picked at gravel of his own .

" My two strays , always coming to me for handouts . I try to sell to make a living but you guys walk with free samples . "

" Well , we're more important . "

" I sure am . " Jon informed his people .

" Dealing with that burger place in sight makes me mega hungry . "

" Forget the fries , I want pizza ! "

" Lobster mac and cheese , short rib sliders , grilled vegetable salad , roasted garlic mashed potatoes , blueberry cheesecake and mini cappuccino infused cannoli . " the half blond added and his men stared , dumbstruck .

" Orrrrrrr ... chili dogs ? " the craziest of their gang added slowly .

" Like I said , our foodie ! " the long legged drug dealer chortled .

" Quit gloating . I wouldn't wear an apron for either of you . " Colby sneered to beat out the smile as he and the others walked along , kicking rocks more than throwing any .

" Whatever . Hey , can we crash with you tonight ? We're on the move and HE - " the lone blond of the group pointed to his classmate . " Isn't going back home but the opposite . "

" Leaving ? ! Huh , well , that's three of us . " Joe said , halting at the sliding side door on his van home on wheels .

" You ? ! But - "

" I'm tired of this stupid risk of a lifestyle . I miss my family and beach weather . My cousins are big football stars now and they called me after so long . Sure , I can have a tryout failure but I'd be with my parents again and have warm , sunny temps , goofing off with my relatives and really being happy ... not that you two bring me down . "

" And he wants to get back with his giiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrlfriend , too . " Jon teased , climbing the folding ladder hooked on the back of the van .

" Seriously ? Oh , you gigantic tramp ! " Colby joined in the joking around .

" Anybody want to burn one last for our goodbyes ? " Joe asked , finally locating a functioning lighter .

" Oooohhh , me ! "

" Eat first ? "

" Either or , boys . "

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They burned and consumed , over an hour later , digesting and relaxing to full tummy mellowness sprinkled with dried green .

He coughed a little and waved his hands near his face , fanning the smoke aside .

" Can't handle it ? " Jon quipped , looking over at the first sounds of coughing .

" Handle yourself . I had a hair strand get in my mouth and that's gag - worthy , okay ? ! " Colby snapped , a touch grumpy now at the mockery and after he'd taught them how to make sandwiches using the biscuits for bread and the fried chicken pulled from the bone , gravy , mashed potatoes and coleslaw to create an odd but tasty filling .

Okay , so he wasn't as ticked at Joseph , stretched out with closed eyes and beaming , obviously happily stoned .

" Pfft , right . You aren't ready yet to - DOGGIES ! " Jon blurted out loud , surprised and kid on Christmas thrilled before he learned about the socks and underwear outnumbered the toys and candy .

Multiple alley living , trash hunting , scrap eating , stray mutts of different sizes and coat colors paced close , tails limply wagging and eyes shining in the street lamps lights as they appeared from the chest level high weeds and grass in the old lot next door .

" Careful . They're after our scraps , not wantin' to be petted on . "

" Whoops ! Okay , guys , no fighting . HERE you go . "

" I'm thinking now he can tame venomous snakes from biting us . " Colby said , astounded and bumped shoulders in grand humor .

" Yeah , I had that in mind myself . " Joe replied , feeling wonderful and returned the shoulder bump affectionately .

Jon was the only one who never talked about his family and home life , except to say that his parents didn't want him and then the lips were zipped with no further comments , either facts or opinion .

Perhaps - the male of the gang with two toned locks draping to his earlobes thought while he watched his friend play with the canines - he hadn't got to be a kid and that was one reason he acted like a child now .

He couldn't resist but to snicker at who was happier , the dogs snatching chicken bones and barking from excitement or the human nicely feeding them , receiving slobbery licks and plenty of wet noses poked at him , sniffing with curiosity .

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" Bright PINK ? ! Really ? ! What kind of sleeping bag is pink ? ! " Colby judged , compared to his own black and white tye dye spiral pattern bag .

Jon shrugged , unfazed and commenced unrolling .

" It was on ninety percent off clearance . " he patted smooth and tugged the zipper of the neon pink with black and white small Valentine hearts print bag .

" Which means you stole it from somewhere . " his half blond friend scolded .

" Comfortable in there ? Warm enough ? " Joe slid out of his tropical print bag , butted into the beginning argument and tucked in the eccentric male while slightly ignoring the ' voice of reason ' frowning beside him .

" Very cozy , perfect temp , yes and fuck you . "

Colby sat up partway in the sleeping bag , groaning and apologetic along with embarrassed .

" He was supposed to say Thanks but the idiot's far gone wasted . "

" He said what he said and it's cool , alright ? You've forgotten the OTHER ways our scoundrel gets the free weed ? " Joe grinned and reached out , moving in and cradling his friend's shaking chin up in one big hand , looking the runaway straight into his eyes .

Jon left his stereotyped ' girly ' bag and relocated to observe voyeur style .

" If this goes scary for you , tell me no . "

" I've got bravery in my bones . "

" Tough and unstoppable in your spirit too , hon . "

" Move gently with him anyway , Joe , no matter if he does agree and want . Not everyone receives enjoyment from getting bled . "

" BLED ? ! "

" It's something we - forget it , I'll tell you another time . "

" But ... " Colby glanced nervously at each of his buddies before they'd placed their bodies closer to his own , his classmate sitting near his face and their favorite , jovial dealer down crouching at his groin .

" Try not to spritz down the back inside my shirt , okay ? " Joe chuckled .

" Broken promises if my friends get overstimulated ? " Colby replied and Jon leaned over to quickly embrace his shoulders in a makeshift hug attempt .

" Aw , man , we love you ! " he blurted sweet laughter .

The man with completely ink black hair kissed him first and then sunk to beneath , unzipping , denim wadded at each ankle and rumpled boxers that had departed with the jeans .

Working one side at a time and pulling back brighter pink under the tan until it lengthened like taffy stretching , unshaven facial hair traveled over the lower locations , feather sensation and not the sandpaper feel .

He raised his hips higher and feverishly kissed Jon in a sudden , thrilled panic of arousal and joy while his erection rose , pointed at the sky above ( so that he really wouldn't leave his besties with a sticky , dripping mess ) and Joe hardly took a breath during that talented gulping of scrotum .

" We're almost - "

" I know ... "

Jon beamed once the dribble increased to splashing and he rubbed , full palm , a tad stronger and just enough increase of speed to be intense but remain polite .

" Nearly over ... "

" I KNOW ! "

Colby shouted , felt a weird pop in his ears , tried to find his gravity defying lower half as it had seemed to float away from his mind , detaching and collapsed , grunting , at last faintly smiling at his two friends .

His two lovers now and there was a white paint stain on the back of Joe's neck when they were through .

" Sorry ! "

" Why apologize ? No shame of even a tiny amount in it . "

" Yeah , because we really do - " Jon paused to lick the fluid from his fingers .

" Love you . " Joe finished the comment and rested his smiling face onto Colby's chest , completing their bond between the trio .

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" Bye ! Thanks and have a great day ! "

Sure , it could've been a dumb thing to say to the driver , a total stranger , as he exited the bus but being invigorated from the recollection of friendship strength and an indescribable , excellent lay had him wanting to smile , hug and shake hands with every person on that Greyhound .

Now , energetic and his gut digesting a Western bacon cheeseburger meal with double fries and extra barbeque sauce and onions , it was time to do some focused and determined walking .

Long , tiring walking .

His toes tingled already and he nearly chose to spend more money on a taxi , another bus ride , pretty much anything that would prevent friction blisters on his sock clad soles but the decision of sleeping with a roof over his head instead of a park bench won over the pain probabilities .

Traveling through Chicago and briefly residing there for a temporary two days and nights had put added cash in his pockets .

His arms were stronger from mopping and vacuuming the floors of the cheap motels he'd stayed in and helping older people carry heavy bags and boxes , his legs from climbing ladders to clean leaves and those oh - so - important at one time flying disks from rooftops and striding along with push mowers , also helping out the elderly .

He made another decision to this time around , stay mainly in lower income areas and since he was in Michigan , the closer he got to Detroit , the easier it would be to find the poorer sections of the state .

This would be the struggle , surviving here . It was going to be hard , making money now .

To take his mind off of possible incoming gloom and second guessing , he popped in the ear bud headphones and played the songs Jon had recorded on cassette for him .

" Well , I ain't evil - "

Colby stepped around somebody's glob of gum discarded , checked his shoe bottoms , kept walking .

" I'm just good lookin ' . "

He yanked at the bleached side of his hair for good luck , never stopped walking .

Or singing as he moved on .

That soothed him for feet , for yards , not for miles .

After walking that felt to a developing headache like never ending , he didn't feel sexy or anti - Christ , no Satan's pretty boy , nope - nope - HELL no ! , just nauseated and weakened .

" Shit - Cago . " he moaned , the truth hitting him smack in the cerebrum that trying to find his deadbeat dad was equivalent to depending on his mother for support .

He'd have better luck turning into a mythical creature .

" Unicorn . " he chuckled , swooned for a second , fought back puking and getting light headed and forced himself to continue walking on .

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The burly , intimidating and somewhat psychotic looking man with an overgrowth of bushy , speckled with last meal's crumbs , beard , sweat stained white sleeveless top , equally messy tattered brown vest over that and a cheerfully insane glint in his wide eyes began his late morning going into early afternoon plans for the day .

He packed a picnic lunch , along with treats for the other animals .

Thumping down each stair attached to the outside of the enclosed screen porch built on to the double wide , he whistled on the way to the truck .

Paused at the driver's side of the pickup and squinted at the remarkable sight .

He left the intrusion where it was , untouched and hurried across the narrow ' street ' that ran between the trailers .

" Xio ? ! You home ? "

Painted light pink with neon yellow green leopard spots nails curled around the opening front door and Brodie waved , nodding at his offbeat younger friend .

" If you need to speak with my parents , both are having a very unheard of day off from work . "

" I'm glad that they are . This is an emergency , looks to be . "

" Not the plumbing ? "

" The septic's fine but ... there's a kid that I've never seen before passed out on my lawn . "

 

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" There it is ! That's us . " Colby sat up and shouted from the top of the van , pointing at the Canis Major that shone radiant far above them .

" Yeah , we're up there . " Joe agreed , grinning and wrapped an arm around his friend . " Big Dogs in Charge . "

" It's getting ready to storm . " Jon passed the joint and sliced a thumb cracking the beer can's tab .

" Was that what I heard or you ? ! " his half bleached partner groaned , shifted within reach and sucked the torn piece of skin and blood leaking beneath its raised edge .

" Did I belch ? Nope , that's thunder sounding off . "

" I swear that he hasn't farted either , yet . " The Samoan of the gang added after taking a drawn out drag .

" Yugh . "

" Well , I HAVEN'T ! "

" Ah shit , it IS going to pour ! " Colby paused from griping to shiver and gaze at the trees swaying and bending while wind and blowing rain shook them to tooth chattering cold .

" No frets , man , we have shelter . " Joe smirked , watching his friend flatten his body against the weather .

" I have my umbrella . " Jon popped the ragged , picked from a dumpster item open and smirked .

" Big deal . Falling apart . " the half blond shouted once the thunder rumbled .

" Still works good and I don't mind the holes in it . Why , in fact ... "

" Shut . Up . I'm in no mood to listen to you bragging about how many ' holes ' you've gotten acquainted with . "

" Acquainted , hell . More like way down and really dirty . "

" Great , then choke on crotch rot , bitch . "

" Spoilsport . Killjoy . " Jon stuck out his tongue , immediately painted by powerful raindrops .

" I'd rather be me than you . "

" You'd prefer having such a teeny tiny dick instead of my humongous one ? ! "

" Go and park your cellulite butt away from me and wish that the left nut eventually descends . " Colby fired back and Joe sighed .

" Kids . "

" Well , I'll think of you so don't forget me . " Commonly defiant , the man with the most scars of the group ran with his umbrella , jumped , floated over the treetops , nearing the clouds as he waved and whooped . " Trifectaaaaaaaaa ! "

" And he has lift off ! " Joe cheered , waving goodbye and stopping to waste time wringing out his shirt since the rain hadn't let up .

" One day , he'll get his fat self stuck in a tree . "

" Heyyyy , quit being hateful . He isn't overweight . "

" He has a round face . Mine's oval and yours is more square , rectangular , what - the - fuck - ever . He's chubby and I'll call him fat forever ' cause he IS ! "

" Charm school's smooth talker . "

" Flirt . " Colby beamed and squinted , eased to a standing position and was pushed onto his backside in an instant by the wind's force .

He frowned and crawled forward over the slippery van's roof , flinched at the flash of lightning that swapped the night sky from black to a silver moonlight color .

" Oh , he isn't coming back , is he ? He's gone and not returning ? ! "

" Let him go wherever . It's his time . OUR time , right ? " the drug dealer cautiously stepped down the attached ladder bolted to the back of the van , opened the double doors and yanked at the mattress inside .

" Yes , but - I'm not ready to be split from you guys . Besides , you losers need me to carry you around . " Colby ducked again at the hissing , hair raising bolts darting across the sky .

" We'll be alright , ' Leader ' and we'll miss you . " Joe hugged farewell before stepping onto the mattress used to float over the sudden flood of water that was rising to the van's roof , leaving the final man stranded .

" Guys ! " Colby extended his hands , reaching for his friends while lightning crackled , sizzling and popping overhead and the thunder was blasting and he was soaked instantly from the forceful rain gusted at him by hurricane like wind . " GUYS ! Wait for me ! "

The distance between him and his besties increased and the severe parts of the storm lessened until there was no longer any lightning and thunder , only a swift change from warm air to chilly breezes that made the lonely young man tremble .

He tensed in surprise . The stars and moon began speaking to him .

Colby sat , crossed his legs and listened to them talk in older men's and women's voices and one that sounded closer to his age .

And ... meows ? !

" He's moving ! Talking too , so he may be alright after all . "

" Poor baby ! The dear child is having bad dreams . I wish to help him , my love . "

" Your terrific cooking can calm him after the nightmares and more importantly , fill his stomach and give him energy that he lost , my darling . "

" James , do the cats have to be in here ? "

" Dad , I'm living with them and not vice versa . "

" You should have thought about allergies . "

" He looks undamaged , no swelling or coughing or sneezing either , Mom . "

" Yes , but if anything happens while we're gone - "

" I have all of the emergency and contact numbers . Nothing will go wrong . "

" And I should be back before sunset if I hurry . "

Tom's Benz rolled down the driveway first , followed by Judy's convertible , the Lopez ' mini van and Brodie's pickup , rusting and sputtering .

The young adult shot a prayer of gratitude and thank you for the wonderful luck skyward . His family's guest and his bedfellow really was a fellow on his bed .

On HIS bed , unconscious and flat out beautiful , beyond handsome although skunk striped on his locks , impossibly sexy and jalapeno , habanero , humidity in August in the South United States HOT .

His anatomy privately rejoiced with his groin tingling and he shut the blinds , then shooed the kittens and adults from the mattress .

" My Prince for this Princess ? Were you meant for me , brought to me to be mine ? "

Jimmy climbed on top of the man , gently sat on him , straddling and lifted the shirt tail .

The male didn't move or awaken , no objecting sound or vocal protests from his beautiful mouth so James commenced , unzipping the jeans , unfastening them to check the underwear brand just before he began grinding his hips against the lower body .

Jimmy moaned , backed away to the feet and ran his tongue over the stomach , tasting the ' beginner's abs ' , mouthing the chest and very slowing , flicking his lips over the stranger's .

Mostly hairless , cool . Nothing bothersome about a man who shaved ... or perhaps waxed .

" Meant for me . " he trembled and bobbed to suck on a nipple while pinching and thumping the other's soft pink into firm light red .

One of the bright orange tabbies hopped onto the mattress , with a dead mouse in its mouth .

A second cat , calico and stub tailed , bounded behind it .

" Get down from here ! Go away ! "

The tabby's eyelids plunged and the calico yowled a warning .

" Shit ! Don't even ... no - ! "

The cats hissed at each other , swatted and lunged , falling from the bed in a growling crash of furry brawling .

And the rodent corpse landed under Colby's chin , cold and stinking and waking him up in the unwanted , non requested way .

" What the Hell ? ! What the fucking Hell ? ! " he flailed and kicked and rolling , shouting as he flung his arms wildly .

" Hold still and calm down or you'll fall on the ! - "

Jimmy winced and frowned , running over to the side of the bed .

The gorgeous stranger with the awesome Cruella DeVil colored hair scowled at him from the floor .

" You alright , man ? "

Colby groaned , sat up halfway and rubbed his sore forehead , then caught sight of the other man scoping him out and barely blinking .

" Why am I in this room and who brought me here ? ! "

" Brodie carried you the way he lugs sacks of feed for his recently inherited livestock . You were blacked out next to his neon pink plastic lawn flamingos and he wasn't planning to leave you there to bodily compost into his lawn . " Jimmy crossed his legs , leaned against his bedroom door and showing off the nail polished pedi that matched the mani .

Colby went briefly cross eyed , gasped and wheezed before standing in a position best used in martial arts while simultaneously trying to slither behind furniture as a barrier of protection .

" Get away ... stay back ! Don't you try to touch me , don't you dare ! "

" Oooohhh , too late , pal . " Jimmy mumbled and stepped back , his meowing besties following him .

The half blond took his eyes off of the stranger to observe the bedroom's contents and decor .

Grouped and nailed to the walls and sitting on the desk and slightly bigger table were framed photos , including many black and white showing smiling , hand holding couples ( his best assumption was grandparents ) , full color pictures of another man and woman that looked very Brady Bunch parents mixed with a little Barbie and Ken perfection , in his eyes .

Those pictures , he noticed , were in chronological order , wife with pregnancy belly showing , lots of baby pics after , teething and walking toddler phase led into school age and scribbled , messy artwork fit for being displayed on the fridge door , preteen and wearing shorter skirts , teenage with braces and scowling , Sweet Sixteen and prom and then ...

Nothing . The girl no longer existed and the photos showed the altered trio , waving at the camera , the parents with creased lines on their faces , tiny flecks of beginning gray in the father's darker brown and the mother's golden - brown hair .

Above the narrow bed's cracked headboard , posters of Cher , Bowie and Prince were taped to the wall and eye liner pencils sat on the tiny night table and standing lamp on the right side of the bed .

The tv with aluminum wrapped antenna lived atop the dresser near the foot of the bed and at the left side of the mattress slow blinked multiple eyes of those that weren't narrowed , judging and disliking his human presence invading their tuna scented space .

Various cloth mice , catnip scattered and jingling bells inside small plastic balls lay here and there on the floor , tall wood and sisal scratching post towers with attached carpeted beds and hideaways had cats snoozing on them and more felines curled , kitty scowling at him as they reclined and napped on the bed pillows .

" Yaurgh ! Where am I now , Cat Hell ? ! "

" That's rude and incorrect ! It's heavenly for kitties , okay ? "

" This is crazy . I've got to get out of here - " Colby blurted and turned in wobbly circles as his fight or flight response went to nine on the one to ten scare of freaking out nervous .

" You won't have energy to hit the road again until you eat and drink something . Wait for - there's a meal on the way the neighbors are bringing over for you . Do you have any food allergies ? Raul and Sofia wanted to know and asked me to write them a list , if you do . " Jimmy asked , lifting one perfectly tweezed eyebrow and looking concerned with chin rested on the non cat petting hand .

" Seth Rol - who ? ! "

" Raul and Sofia , some of my across the ' street ' neighbors . Hmmm , did you ... maybe you hit your head ? "

" No , I'm fine and leaving before - where's my stuff ? Where'd my bag go ? ! I want my things back now ! " Colby peered beneath the bed and saw nothing except more cat toys and assorted shoe boxes .

" My mom and dad took your pack and it's their right since you're trespassing at the trailer park that THEY bought and own , Taj Gixx . " Jimmy replied , sounding suddenly hateful and sarcastic .

" Ohhh fuuuuuck , they found my fake IDs . "

" They found your fake IDs , yeah . "

Without hesitation , the runaway obscured his features behind skunk striped tresses although the real estate agent's child could see their guest's anguish from becoming hindered .

" So you'll visit me when I'm behind bars ? "

" That won't happen ! My parents always help anyone in need and they'll fight to keep you out of jail . My dad's a great lawyer and - "

" Yeah , but no offense , he isn't a superhero . "

" He is to me and my mother . "

" I shouldn't have said - "

" No , you're stressing . You have to snap once in awhile . I understand . "

" Yeah , I guess ... "

" What's your REAL name ? Your birth name ? "

" Colby Black and yes , my mother named me after a damn cheese and yes , mixing vodka and beer and wine coolers contributed to me being called a dairy product on my birth certificate . "

He awaited the burst into tears , shaking , pink cheeked , gasping for air , rolling on the floor laughing .

It had happened plenty of times in the past .

The ' trashy - chic ' dressed , other human in the room ogling him didn't chuckle or snicker or guffaw .

He did smile but it came from friendliness and not cruelty and insults .

" I'm gonna call you Tyler . "

" Tyler ? ! "

" The name of my imaginary buddy when I was still in diapers . He might have been a turtle . Or a ferret . Anyway , he was nice and my best friend . I liked him . "

" I'll pass on having a shell or being a weasel , although having the name Tyler Black is a gazillion damn times better than stupid frikking Colby . "

" Wanna meet my roomies ? "

" Meaning the cats ? "

" Yes , indeed . "

" The pussies that I've been with weren't that hairy . " Colby stepped over a ping pong ball and long peacock feather at his toes .

" You're vulgar . " Jimmy said , his comment sounding like a compliment .

" Hey , I'm being truthful . So , their names ? "

" Waldorf , Statler , Zoot , Janice , Robin and Scooter . "

" Uhmmm hmmmm . Any dogs ? " Colby slowly petted a brown tabby .

" I've owned dogs before . I like them but none live with me now because I was outvoted ten to two . "

" Two ? "

Jimmy beamed , snickered and reached to pick up and hold a huge long haired , black and white and unwilling to be carried all over , Persian .

" Meet Rowlf . He considers himself as canine , not feline . "

" Now I'm up to date about the fur balls but you never totally explained where I am . "

The eccentric looking man sighed and gave in .

" This is home for people who need support , anyone that's going through a rough point in their life . If you've lost a loved one , Brodie's the one to talk with . For advice and comforting words from someone who knows what it's like to have a drinking problem - " Jimmy squatted and picked cat hairs from the packing tape patched beanbag chair .

" They can go to Iowa and strike up a conversation with my mother . " Colby quipped scathingly while felines circled around his ankles , cheerfully shedding on his legs .

" And about drug addiction , they - well , I'M here ... "

" Sorry 'bout that . " The half blond replied honestly and his bizarre companion scooted carefully closer to him , sitting on the bed .

" I'm over it and the depression that led to it . I finally learned that those bullying me , the people that caused my agony were hurting me because they had lower self esteem than I did . " Jimmy said , face burning and he tried hiding the shyness by hunting for a lint roller .

" I haven't went through an experience that you have but I'll step up in your defense if it happens again , okay ? "

" But we've just met and you don't know about ... me . "

" Who cares ? I'll have your back anyway , deal ? "

" Sure . Thank you . "

" However , I won't clean the shitty , piss crusted litter boxes so don't ask me . "

" Scooping , no . Brushing ... ? "

" Pfft , I guess I could try some fur comb - overs . "

The trailer living , weird and somewhat feminine male took a risk and propped his chin on the partly bleached blond stranger's left shoulder and put an arm around him .

The body tensed - scaring both men - and gradually softened , relaxed trust building .

" You do your nails and ' round your eyes too ? "

" Uhnm hmmm . "

" Wear lipstick ? "

" Clear gloss on occasion . Or pale pink . "

" Gloss . "

" Yep . "

" Huh . "

" Would you want me ? Would you take me if I gave myself to you ? "

The man named after cheese shuddered and locked eyes with the proud freak .

He hadn't scored on the road , so why not ?

" Yeah . "

Crossing boundaries of urgency , he took a hand cupped by both of his own and stared at the polish design while mulling things over .

He'd fucked his male friends , that wasn't any problem and being with a Rocky Horror Picture Show type of flamboyant man didn't wilt or shrivel his dick either .

The ridges inside his mouth , at the top , absorbed heat from the middle and next to longest fingers gliding across it .

James whimpered from his throat and squirmed in his underwear . Nobody he'd done before had sucked his fingers and now , a person he felt indescribable attraction was blessing him with a astonishing and slightly kinky variation on a ' hand - job ' .

" Tyyyyyyylerrrrrrrrr . " Colby heard from afar as he pushed his mouth along , his nose cartilage running into his odd friend's nose tip as well .

" I'm hard for - for you . "

James dropped his hands into his Black's lap and trembled , grinning and then whimpering once more .

" Stiff solid . "

" And now , those kitties of yours will get to see what a porno movie looks like , being made . "

Colby smiled haughtily and lay the second man back facing on the bed and sprawled over him , legs tangled into four joined , trashing parts .

The light hammering sound from outside made all of the cats leap straight into the air and included the people making out .

" Damn , it's - we have company . " Jimmy blocked the kissing , already regretting and craving a bathroom trip to masturbate until the passion subsided and he'd have laundry to wash .

" Awh shit ! I ... dammit ! - " Colby retreated , tucking his tee back into place , wiping his lips and putting on his innocent angel facial expression .

" James , may we enter ? "

" You need not ask . I'd never lock you out . "

Colby rubbed his eyes , blinked rapidly and shook his head to knock down the dust and cobwebs .

Rita Moreno and Ricardo Montalbán reincarnated were standing in the doorway , her holding a tray with plates , napkins , sandwiches blanketed with clear clinging wrap , small bowls filled with soup and two plastic spoons and he carried two big bottled waters and lidded cups with straws poking out .

He gave the couple a once - over and thought of them as classic movie and silent film stars for their beauty , not the glamorous physical appearances of the pair in the photos .

" Oh , hey ... uh , hi . You're - uhnm , Raul and Sofia , right ? Here , I'll carry ... thanks for the meal . " Colby stammered and looked for help from his friend , who left him to fend for himself in the manners aisle .

" ¡ Soy agradecido que usted es fuera de la cama , querido muchacho ! "

" Uhhh ... muchacho is something GOOD , isn't it ? ? "

" Funny , I preferred him IN bed . " Jimmy whispered to his cats , leaning to kiss their fluffy , soft and rounded tip ears .

" Forgive Sofia . When my queen feels gratitude and has an even more joyous heart , she gets silly and forgets to translate her happiness . " Raul apologized and shook hands warmly .

" I'm not bothered by - "

" Esperamos que usted se sienta mejor pronto . " Sofia went for a hug and hesitated , shaking hands with and patting the upper back of the partially brunette instead .

" My love ... " her spouse sighed and chortled , shaking his head . " You rarely translate when you're in good spirits . "

" I am ! " the woman agreed and threw herself at the once passed out male , embracing him after all and he reddened around his shoulders from the feel of her chest flattening like cushions when pressed against his upper body .

Was she flirting with him ? Hitting on him ? Sort of old , maybe but Joe would've been a gentleman and Jon would build a shrine to her cleavage at first sight .

" Well , yeah , thanks and pronto for both of you also . " the new arrival at the trailer park agreed and swore that he heard a certain cat snuggling man behind him , chuckling .

The couple looked at one another and from their straight line lips , he sensed they were holding back from laughing at him .

" We shall see you later , James ? "

" Sure thing ! Thanks for bringing the food and I'll come by in awhile and give you back some washed dishes . "

" You always treat us well to being spoiled . " Sofia kissed Jimmy on side of his face , waved at discombobulated Colby and waited for her husband to finish more hand shakes before they exited the trailer , smiling widely as they said their farewells .

" What did I do ? ! What did they say ? I wasn't trying to offend - "

" They know that you meant well and want you to feel better asap . Plus , you amused them so I suppose that they think you're cute . "

" The woman ... Sofia ? , she's something to look at but I'm not wanting to join them for , uhm - "

" Oh hell ! They aren't inviting you for three way action ! They consider you as a kid , a funny young man . "

" Ah , whew ! Nothing personal against them , right ? " Colby exhaled , relieved and keeping quiet about HOW curious he'd been , not from the possibility of group sex with older adults but striking up a friendship and physical relationship with Mister Crazy Cat Lady .

" Of course not . And now you have three new friends who like you . "

" I'm flattered . And - I want to stay , live here if ... I have that chance . "

The woman who'd given birth to him had little love for him and the man who helped make him was nothing more than a deadbeat dad so total strangers welcoming him , caring for him ... gave him a heartache that felt as sweet and burning as eating ice cream on a humid , scalding day .

Jimmy nodded blissfully , smiled and softly compared to the sparks from before , leaned and rested , shoulder to shoulder with the prince who'd charmed him .

He sorted through his key-ring and clicked the padlock on the gate of the wooden fencing with woven wire between the long boards , then swung open the hinged entrance of the inner stock panel enclosure , carefully not touching anything besides both gates since all the fencing was electrified .

There was his heart in the pasture , fiddling a folk tune for the ram , six ewes , a bouncy gang of babies and the solo donkey who was literally ingesting poetry .

" Creative constipation or a imaginative high fiber diet ? "

" I TOLD you not to eat my books ! " Erick scolded the hoofed beast , which ignored him and kept chewing until he wrestled the soggy reading material from its chomping teeth .

" THAT guy . " Luke rolled his eyes , falsely sarcastic and honestly tickled pink .

" He's a real jackass . " Rowan joked .

" Hello , Viking ! " Harper dodged real sheep to embrace his friend , adopted by the herd of ' living cotton balls ' .

" Glad to have you here , my brother ! "

" Here's lunch and I brought a small gift that you might like . "

" You call it little and I did not . " Erick kidded and he could see his friend's blush that a messy beard couldn't cover .

The brunette huffed and ' tsked ' , then offered the tiny snow globe with their photo set inside .

" This is a way to have your snow with you , wherever you are and even in the heat . "

" And we're together too ... " the redhead shook the orb , raining a blizzard down on the picture of the two men standing beside bales of hay and a big tractor .

" What do these people think about you and yours eating mutton ? " the sweaty , bushy bearded brunette located a feces free patch of grass and settled onto it .

" I wouldn't touch it now ! I preferred seafood , potato dumplings , cabbage , bread and sour cream , apples and pears more growing up anyway and already apologized for the rest , especially that - " the red bearded giant lowered his voice . " Entire cooked head . "

" I've had it written in so that you're co - owner of this land . You helped my grandfather when he needed you and the wool bearers are your friends along with me . "

" But it's YOUR land and house ! What you inherited from one of your relatives , not MY family . "

" You are my family . And I'd rather have you living here than where I couldn't spend time with you . " Harper said , turning to glower at the ram sniffing him inappropriately .

" You own this place , the home and land and everything on and in it , which means that - " Rowan pushed the nosy animal out of the way .

" It's good luck I'm not allergic to lambs ? "

" That I belong to you . "

They held hands and with just the farm animals observing , strolled the walk path to the house's front porch .

Not many things had changed . The yellow and white painted kitchen containing pale furniture , a collection of toy tractors and lots of county fair blue ribbons definitely was the same .

" The hospice sent the flowers . " Rowan said , nodding at the blue glass vase stuffed with white and yellow daisies .

" I'll mail a Thank You card to them and stick a hundred inside it too . "

" I'm low right now but I'll add a few dollars and then more when the next check comes . "

Harper unpacked the steak sandwiches , pretzels , celery sticks , oranges , blueberries , double chocolate - marshmallow cookies and bottled water while set out paper plates and napkins .

" Would temporary trailer park life offend you ? " he waited to ask only after they were through eating .

" Spending the night ? " his partner wondered , moving into reach and closed his eyes during the kiss .

" Hva om jeg ikke kan vente ? " Luke panted .

" Rommet mitt da ? " Erick assured him and they ran from the dining area , down the hallway and groped until thrilled , backs to the wall and an extra hands - on experience .

The bulging eyed brown haired man with the scruffy , unkempt facial hair bowed to his beloved , then pinned him to the nearest wall , his nose brushing the leaf print paper .

He dragged the metal straight to the where the silver ' teeth ' fell open , waited until his companion turned back around and faced him before getting on one knee .

The redhead was fond of his brunette's antics , proposal imitating tied in with honeymoon actions .

Watching gleefully and panting heavily , he anticipated the kiss that always took place once the second had ran his tongue on the path from a belt line ( minus the belt ) to below the ribs , then chest to throat , then chin and mouth .

A double grin , twins of lust and merriment following their kiss and Rowan spat , looking embarrassed for doing so .

" Pubes ? " Harper asked , nuzzling with nipping bites over the sides of the face and along the upper body of his towering , tough love .

" Titty hairs . I should have had a total cleaning before you - "

" Sheared sheep . " the big brunette laughed a sandpaper cackle . " You're exceptionally bathed compared to me . Look at my wardrobe sometime . I have sweat stains , embedded ones . "

Erick grinned , adjusting to ' unzip mode ' , standing patiently and quivering .

They couldn't fit at the same time in a bed comfortably , so they had created compromise .

" You think that you're not prepared , hell , I forgot to bring - " Luke grunted , ashamed .

" I don't have any either . Just go without . "

" But you'll feel it and it isn't going to be feathers tickling , more like fiberglass sticking . "

" Physical pain from being with you doesn't hurt as badly as the sorrow and emptiness when we aren't together . "

" You really should be a writer . "

" Perhaps but not now . " Rowan chuckled , grimaced and clinked both rows of teeth in his mouth , grinding them as he took the insertion and opened to it with no complaints .

He shifted so that his love's penis in entirety was filling him , taking the total space with orgasmic making skill .

" Magic love . You made it disappear . " Luke snickered into one ear and his partner peeked and smiled .

" Made for each other . "

" Yes . " They detached and sank to the carpet , cuddling .

Rowan eventually stood , leaving the dribbled stains drying and fastened his one piece outfit as it was before the lovemaking .

His love watched him , still lounging on the rug and looking content .

The redhead tapped on a floorboard underfoot , bumped it aside and removed the box below .

Luke got to his feet and took the hinged and curved lidded , old porcelain container .

" Hva er det ? "

" En hyggelig overraskelse . " Erick shrugged . " Your grandfather made me promise to hide it for you . "

The brown bearded male shuffled through the contents , reading the folded papers inside .

" Wow ! ... well , this isn't what I expected - "

" Nothing wrong ? "

" No , it's like you said , a nice gift . And BIG too . " Harper replied , mouth twitching and brows lowered .

" A truck ? More money ? "

" Maybe . He left me some other land , in Florida . "

" Ah , the beach life . " Rowan commented , daring to pick a wedgie . His butt was famous for being hungry , which caused absolute humiliation before and after intimacy , along with going out in public .

" No . In the swamps . "

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

                      

" Behave , Beaker . " the recently renamed to Tyler tried to remove the clinging like velcro kitten's claws from his pants leg . " The higher you climb , the more man you'll find . "

James chortled next to him on the steps where they'd staked the claim to escape felines stealing laps of their chicken noodle soup and bites from the honey - banana sandwiches .

" Beaker ? ! Cool , he'll fit in with the rest of my Muppet Show , tonight . "

" He looks like a Beaker , what with that upright clump of red - orange fur on the top of his head . " Colby explained .

" A green eyed , snow white kitty with an orange mohawk named Beaker . My mini - Meep Meep . Damn , I like it ! " the entirely brunette grinned , cuddling his feline .

" Do I get to change your name since you did mine ? "

" Say again ? "

" You call me Tyler and I'll call you ... ? "

" Anytime ! " Jimmy said enthusiastically while he wiggled his fingers for the kitten to paw at .

" Hell , I may drop the call and put the phone back on the hook . " Colby rolled his eyes before crossing them quickly .

" You old fashioned son of a bitch ! Birthed as James and my preference is to be referred to as Jimmy Jacobs X . "

" X like in adult film ratings ? "

" Xio . It's a ... nickname I thought of . "

" Neat . "

" It means ready for battle . I read it in one of Raul's books . "

" That is really cool . " Colby - Tyler raised a foot and shook it . Beaker lunged at the shoelaces , bit them and rolled onto its back , chewing a mouthful .

" It is now because you approve of it . " Xio snuggled face to chest with his friend with infatuation that had no equal .

" And you said earlier that your Dad's a lawyer ? "

" He's an amazing , hard working , case winning guy . "

" What's your Mom's career ? "

" She buys and resells buildings , homes , acreage , etcetera . "

" Soooooo , they don't make much cash ? "

" They're close to being millionaires . "

" Then why the Hell are you living in a fucking trailer park like poor people do ? ! " Colby yelled and was punted from the steps in a blink , Jimmy glowering above him with clenched , raised fists and a suddenly dark red face .

" I won't repeat myself about how charitable and friendly my parents are . "

" I touched a nerve , right ? Okay , I'll back off then . " the eighteen year old apologized , holding a hand to the twenty year old . " Forgiven ? "

" Well ... maybe . "

Beaker purred and hopped from one man's lap to the next , back and forth before pausing at the scent of meat cooking that had floated into the yard .

" The dishwasher calls for us . " Xio stated , his rage flipping to slight humor as he stacked the bowls .

" Right with you . " Tyler agreed , carrying the trays once he'd transferred the feline to ground level .

" You load , I'll do the rest . Oh , hold on ! Mom and Dad forgot theirs earlier , being in such a rush and I'll throw some of the cats ' dirty bowls in there too . "

" And then we just ... do what for over an hour ? "

" Excellent if I'm your what . " The catnip and canned tuna scented twenty year old flirted , wiggling onto the counter space to the right side of the double sink , spreading his legs , slapping his hands palm down in a patting gesture onto his lap and reeling in lover by the shirt collar front with ease and inappropriate relish .

They kissed with magnificence , delight and desire , mixing tongues in a lovely and erotic manner .

Xio stroked the blue jean bulge and kicked his sandaled feet , ticklish and giggling reflex to the erotic tenderness from his Tyler slipping his hands into the shreds of openings in his distressed to the point of chucked in the trash can denims , torn from thigh to calf .

Jimmy growled and groaned , caught his beloved's neck and bit softly , sucking powerfully to create an interesting conversation piece of a light purple hickey under his earlobe .

" I'll have you going so hard in no time that when you scream , the windows will shatter . " Colby , moaning his promise , ran his fingers far above the kneecaps , on the prowl for underwear texture .

Xio got the caffeine jitter shakes at the groping . He longed for reading the magazine but wasn't planning ahead to purchase and pay for the one year sex subscription .

And he sure as Hell didn't want the paper cuts the anatomy received from strong fucking .

He jolted , positioned his lower half into a fetal like curl and shot the bottoms of his flip flops forcefully into the eighteen year old's chest and belly , pushing them apart at arm's length .

" You kicked me ! " Tyler yelped , raising his shirt tail to check for pink foot prints shaped on his flesh .

" I'm not ready . " Xio recoiled , moving his right hand to open and reach inside a long sliding drawer where the knives were stored .

He placed his thumb on the ice pick , just in case .

" How can you not be ready ? ! You asked me before if I wanted to and we agreed - "

" I rushed this ! Wanting it and actually doing something aren't anything the same . "

" But ... you've been on me from the start ! Dropping hints , joking around ... " the half blond reminded his smudged kohl pencil wearing pal .

James ' heart cursed at both young adults and he reconsidered his fear and hatred , most of the irritation and disgust and brought his hand out of the drawer , no longer nervous about getting forced into anything physical .

" Yeah , I'm a total cock tease and I shouldn't be , since it's rude but understand this time that I need to wait . "

" Okay then , I'll wa ... I'll wayyyyyyy - eh heh heh ! Th - They're - ! Make them stop ! " Colby winced and turned beet red over his chin , climbing to his nose and forehead as a small gang of cats slunk and weaved around his shoes , licking his leg hair under the denim and head - bumping his ankles .

Jimmy waved his arms madly and jumped straight up and down .

" Alright , hairball brigade . Scatter ! "

The felines dashed and darted in seven various directions , some snagging curtains as they lunged , others slithering under the couch and most leaving the kitchen and living room altogether .

" Ah , thanks . I might have exploded eventually . "

" Imploded . And lost a toe . "

" I came on too strong , didn't I ? "

" Well , you haven't came yet at all but when it's the right time for us to be , I truly will be ready . Not yet but not far either . "

" I'd love to also , however you don't have to . You don't have to . "

" I think that my body and my mind will have their agreement one day , night ... whenever it feels right to . "

" Until then , people watching ? " Colby gestured to the front door .

" Might as well since you don't know of all the neighbors so far . " Xio jiggled it open and plunked down the steps .

" I suppose that we'll start with ... them . " Tyler mused as soon as the across the street neighbors headed out onto their lawn .

" They're semi -retired . " Jimmy said , beaming at two of the mobile home park residents he liked best .

" Semi ? "

" They manage their restaurant more nowadays , when they used to do most of the cooking and main work . "

" Restaurant ? ! Makes perfect sense , if they're both chefs . "

" They're some of the greatest and could win awards , if they cared about stuff like that . "

The duo lounged , people - watching the couple rolling foldable utility wagons down the wheelchair ramp attached to their trailer .

The eighteen year old sat up a touch straighter once the pair went into action , Raul hauling a big box towards the grill and his wife cutting tape to open smaller cardboard containers , removing napkins and styrofoam plates from them .

He smiled as an onlooker at the man positioning whole chickens over the flames and the woman draping large cloths across the wooden picnic tables tops .

Sofia hurried back to her long table set up with assorted utensils , pots and pans and piles of frozen food , began counting something unseen inside a box just before she scowled .

The two young adults fidgeted uncomfortably at the untranslated shouts , knowing by their instincts that frustrated cursing was most of it .

Raul gave up on the heating poultry to sprint to his wife's aid . She fussed more , very loudly and astounded all the men when she shoved him away and then literally turned her back , foot tapping and arms folded .

The older man sighed and slumped , patted her shoulders and darted to rescue the meats before they singed .

Jimmy chuckled lightly , biting his tongue after Sofia kicked a box near her feet two extra times , for good measure , possibly .

Beaker halted the grooming of his front paws at the sounds of his pet human's sudden , ending abruptly laughter and the constant vocal exasperation of one female neighbor .

" I'm going to go help her ! " Colby scooted to the edge of the step , wrinkling the jeans against his underwear clad butt skin .

" I wouldn't . She likes her independence . "

" So do I but if I was busted open and bleeding , I'd want somebody to give me a bandage and not stand around staring . "

" We're sitting . " Xio argued his good point.

" And she's yelling at and threateningly waving a spoon at a folding chair . I'm going to at least offer to lend a hand . " Colby ran across the tiny lawn and across the thin attempt at a gravel covered ' street ' with Jimmy behind him .

" Hey , Sofia ! We wondered what's going on over here . "

" The cookout is ruined ! The amount of ground beef for the hamburgers isn't enough . " the woman snarled and fell into a chair heavily and dramatically to a point .

" I'll drive to the store and buy more for you . "

" Or you could stretch it . " Colby suggested generously . " Mix it into casseroles or make meatballs or soup . "

" For a barbeque ? ! " Jimmy stared at him , slack jawed .

" Well then , you think of something , genius . " the half blond griped and impatiently nudged his buddy aside .

" I'll get my car keys and my purse . " Xio gave his friend a mildly painful elbow to the gut in return , his mouth twitching when he did .

" You carry a pocketbook ? ! . " Tyler bleated and was prodded grumpily by his weirdo companion ( who missed the counter top ... and longed for the bed second go round ) .

He looked at the chickens and felt his mental light bulb glow to sizzling .

" Wait ! How about take some of the chicken , shred it and make little sandwiches ? And mini burgers , those might do . "

" The sizes of the buns we have are too big for that use . "

The immediate thought of a reply was a Jon comment lying in wait , packed with innuendo and double entendre that he was known for .

He wasn't going to start vexing her though , not when the woman was in a bitter mood already and while she had an assortment of knives and kitchen shears within her reach , all he had were vulnerable genitals .

" You could make them little , you know , with cookie cutters ? And have plenty of leftover bread for - uhm - croutons . "

The woman arched her brows , frowned and then advanced on him , chef's knife raised and aimed in his direction and he regretted not owning ( or wearing ) a cup today .

She placed the knife handle to his palms and smiled , startling him more with pleased amazement than pissing down his leg terror .

" You already know how to chop ? "

" Yeah ... um , yes . "

" Very good . Muy bien , Gracias . James , would you help Raul if he needs it ? "

" I'll jump to his aid quicker than if I was bouncing on a pogo stick , ma'am . " Jimmy shook his beginning to frizz hair strands as though he were shoving through a mosh pit and scurried to where the grills stood .

" James is a crazy child , did you notice ? "

" It hasn't gone over my head ... ma'am . " Tyler - Colby replied truthfully , reaching for the celery to slice .

Sofia failed in being serious during mincing and his joy at the time came from her happy little laugh .

The four only stopped their prep work , trying to not burn any food or cut their fingers off , when the patrol car rolled slowly to the front lawn , braking close to the mailbox .

Tom and Judy stepped out from their own vehicles , followed by the military - like officers , clad in the uniforms of gold trimmed black , buttoned up and long sleeved tops , blue - grey hued ties and darker gray pants .

Inner mischievousness dared him to ask if they really did know where all of the best doughnuts were , but since his ass was on the line , he joked about himself and his personal worries instead .

" Well , I've been busted . They found out about my black market ring , selling paprika and cinnamon powder . " Colby kidded , uncomfortable when neither Raul or Sofia laughed and felt soothingly defended the second his Xio walked in front of him , a human barrier against his nearing parents .

" Hi , Mom and Dad . "

" If you'd please move out of our way so that we can clear some things with your friends ? "

" Go ahead . This is important and none of us can stop it from happening . " Tyler coaxed and Jimmy crept back to his neighbors , standing behind them and peering , dismayed , over their shoulders and beneath their crossed arms .

" You'll be riding with us or in the front seat with the police . Not only are they going to speak with you but afterwards , you'll be meeting with a judge . " Judy continued , looking miserable along with everyone who wasn't wearing a badge .

" But we're representing you , so don't worry . Today is about your future plans and the present , nothing to punish you . We swear . " Tom said and the long fingers curled around the handle of his briefcase were as brightened pink as both flushed cheeks and his tense jawline .

" We honestly do promise . You can completely trust us . "

The half blond nodded and did some swift yoga breathing which was about as helpful in relaxing him as drinking gasoline would've been for his kidneys .

His legs were fully shaking and he couldn't feel it , becoming immediately numb throughout his spirit and intellect , his emotions and soul .

" Would you want us to go with you ? Do you want us to speak up for you , because we will . " the woman with the naturally light brown complexion offered , petting the back of his neck where his hair and shirt tag met and somehow , was better than being hugged .

" I'll be okay . "

" He'll be alright , Sofia . My parents are going with him . They're on his side and you know how they always fight to care for those in need . " Jimmy spoke bravely , although he looked sickly and weak whenever he glanced at those shining gold badges , the stern faces , the dark car with the sturdy silver ' fencing ' barricading the back seat from the front .

" Don't have doubts about yourself , my boy , and never let what others think about you make you feel weak and like nothing . You are somebody , an important man . " Raul joined in the shoulder pats . He was smiling faintly as though he wanted to be positive but had been betrayed by gloom and tragedy .

" Un joven digno , sí . " Sofia added .

He hugged them , one for each arm and holding on because they meant something , maybe were his saviors , angels , if he ever became ignorant and small minded enough to believe religious nonsense and biblical fairy tales and ghost stories .

" I ... hell , how do I say a really huge Thanks to each of you ? "

" Muchas gracias . "

" Mooch - as grah - see - yas . I'm glad to have met you both , really , no lie . " Colby broke from the multiple embrace and trotted from the trio , dying the distance he was closer to the patrol vehicle and further from strangers who he was beginning to consider family .

His family .

The second time that the officers ' car pulled up over scraggly , dried up lawn and chunky pebbles , faces were glowing and not streaked with drying , sticky tear stains .

" So what happened ? ! " Jimmy hugged him and ran with him , holding hands , to squish through the crowd of neighbors eating , talking and sitting around and plop down at a picnic table with their stomachs grumbling .

" I'll get to stay here . " the half blond smiled proudly ( and slightly shyly ) while they stood in line for the evening meal .

" Congrats ! " Xio bellowed , causing several men and women and one cat begging for scraps to eye him like he'd gone berserk .

" Mostly because I'm going to be doing community service , cleaning and working on whatever your parents demand of me the next three months . "

" Three months ? ! Just for fake I.D. s ? ! "

" Uhmmm ... well , those and the liiiiiiiiiiittle joint I had stored in my luggage . " Colby ducked forward near a steam tray in hopes he could conceal being mortified and the guilt with the fog that came from hot cuts of meat .

" Damn , Tyler ! That's - "

" Actually a positive . Not the drug bust but that I want to live here . I'll get a job and pay rent to your Mom and Dad so they won't boot me out . "

" I'll stop them if they try it . You'll brighten this place up , ah Hell , you already have . It'll be the greatest if you move in . "

" Some exaggeration on your part - "

" Only if you give me the story about that weirdo , punk rock schoolboy hair color . "

" The shrunken version is that I had an epic failure when trying to dye my entire mane blond . "

" You ran out of - ? " Xio wondered over the portion of coleslaw .

" Nope , I accidently elbowed the damn bottle straight down the sink drain . " Tyler grinned before fork diving into the scoop of extra mayonnaise potato salad .

" If you want to give it a go second time around , I'll gladly hold your bottle ... firmly , with both of my hands . " Jimmy teased and stuck a unused , clean plastic fork directly into his all - over - the - place locks .

" Not in public ! My lid would loosen and the liquid contents might dribble . "

Colby felt the skeptical gazes of the neighbors ' eyes on the peculiar human being sitting with him and for the sake of honest loyalty , he snatched a equally clean plastic spoon and fixed it in his own tresses , just like a pencil propped up behind his ear .

" I heart on the attractive teacher and pretty student look but you don't have to - "

" No , I do . Did and I want to because I'm glad to be on your side . It's a phrase of kindness that my mother taught me - can you believe that ? ! - , when I tell you K'ani vor du im ynkern e: "

" Uhhhnm ... you're not cussing at me , right ? "

" Nuh uhn , just sayin ' that we're friends , in my Armenian way . "

Each rung of the ladder that he climbed was warm from the sun rays , cooler in the shadows .

He reached the literal top .

" Success ! " Colby rejoiced and danced , bounding about in circles and chortling upon the trailer's roof .

A mild wind blew some damp leaves from the soggy clumps he was set to sweep off and his nose wrinkled .

" Yurgh . Peyewww ! " he gagged and then grabbed the broom and bucket , composed himself and while mostly breathing through his mouth , went to work .

The chore he found to be simple and he walked carefully , not wanting to crash through his neighbors ceiling .

Xio's Tyler swept away the buildup of fallen leaves , thin and broken branches , insect corpses and remains and one fuzzy mold coated kite , rained on to turn rotted green .

A bucket teetered as the broom handle slapped it by accident and careened to the ground , bopping an aluminum rung and splitting a cracked , penny sized hole on the bottom when it landed on the lawn .

He maneuvered backwards to the grass below and fast - walked to the conjoined double storage shed , stepping into the side that held regular and yard work tools while the other divided by a screen door , contained gardening items and boxes full to the tops with old holiday decor of all types .

Stocking up on what appeared to be the love children of mopping buckets and kids ' plastic beach pails , the young man next grabbed another dust pan from one of the dusty shelves .

" He is the one that I want , brought here for us . "

" Maybe we should wait - "

The pair of familiar voices trapped him for a spy . They apparently thought he was still on the roof and kept talking .

" We haven't already wasted many years waiting ? ! I don't have the belief that he was brought here by fate but I still think of what has happened as something more than a coincidence . "

" Do not jump into things without asking him first ! Perhaps reconsider , you don't want one younger ? "

Colby chomped on the inner part of his mouth to silence his panic . He'd believed they were okay people and now he had proof that they were sicko perverts instead .

" At one time , I did . However , now ... I have strong feelings for him . "

" I care too but we need to ask . " Raul commented , moving a stack of chipped flowerpots .

" I know , Lo sé . " Sofia sighed , embracing her husband from the left side .

Shuddering , he inched from the back of his half of the connected building and sweated cold .

They did crave him for their obscene desires and he wished Jimmy would hurry up and get home from work so he could confide in his favorite offbeat boy ( that wasn't Jon ) .

This supposed , dreamed about ' better life ' didn't seem to have any more positives than the old one had had .

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

               

" I hate cleaning . " Colby moaned , running the vacuum cleaner across the woven rug .

" I hate cleaning ! I hate cleaning ! I hate cleaning ! " he shouted when he dusted the curtain rods and corner standing lamp , the side table shaped like a bar stool and the stubby white lamp with matching shade sitting on it , while he fluffed and patted and smoothed the garden soil brown and bone color pillows and plaid bedding on the pull - out couch .

" Yeah , yeah , yeah , kid . But you're real good at it . " Brodie shuffled through his wallet and took out a twenty . " You deserve this . "

" For an hour's work ? ! I love cleaning ! "

The fully bearded man smirk - smiled gently .

" Changed your mind fast , didn't ya , kid ? "

" I'm not a child ! How ... how old are you ? "

" Closing in on twenty six , eventually . "

" Twenty five ? ! Woah , you're old ! "

" And you're a kid , kid . A good one that I can count on , trustworthy , hardworking and you don't try and rob me blind . "

" Well - thanks . " Colby dusted and wiped the framed World map , the globe on a silver stand and the shadowbox containing a tiny fit - in - your - palm , yellow , tan and orange painted giraffe figurine . " Where did you get this from ? "

Brodie guffawed , his facial hair shaking .

" And you're nosy too . A friend of mine gave it to me . "

" A girlfriend ? "

" Only a friend , a best friend . "

" Is she super hot ? "

" If I pay you another twenty , would you zip it ? "

" Jeez ... touche , game , set and the rest . " Colby trailed off once he looked at the antique clock on the wall above the big screen tv . " Godammit , I'm going to be late to help Jimmy ! "

" He's at work ? That's not far . I'll drive you . "

" Ah , thank you ! I'll repay your gas money - "

" Don't bother . You can owe me by cleaning the living room maybe twice each week and keeping your mouth shut and we'll get along just fiiiiiine . "

" No more butting in to your personal life , got it . Next time , I'll arrive with tape over my mouth , I promise . "

" Yeah , don't go crazy now . " Brodie chortled , grabbing his truck keys from the nail in the front door and his new friend gladly flung the feather duster aside , gleefully rolled the vacuum cleaner out of the way , laughing the whole time until he was red in the face .

" You're late ! " Xio bounced into his friend's arms .

" Yeah , well , don't fire me , Boss . "

" Here , take these in while I go say hi to Brod . "

" Right . " Colby held the box of individual bottled waters at collarbone level .

" Hello , James . Wait , are you in a Xio mood today or feeling more like Jimmy ? " Brodie asked after a handshake .

" Both ! But I admit that I have had more of a Xio surge rush through me and I can't guess why . " the twenty old played innocent , fluttering his nearly black lashes and casting admiring , smitten peeks at his container carrying buddy .

" Out of nowhere , that arrow ! "

" Mmmm hmmm hmmmmmm . Emphasis on the Mmmm . "

" Well ... don't leave him tangled in your sheets . " the bushy bearded male grinned . " Unless he demands . "

" But I like having fun . " Jimmy peeked again . Chest sweat showing through the shirt front . He would've swooned had he not been in public .

" Of course you do , kiddo . Pass along to your boyfriend - in - training that I'll be away this weekend , if the two of you are interested in watching my place . I'll pay you both extra . "

" I'd love to and even if he refuses to help - which I doubt - I'll still take care of your home when you're gone . "

" Thanks , pal . "

" Anytime . " Xio waved at the bigger man , then ran to start working alongside his friend , his only fixation .

" What took ya ? " Colby elbow - bumped his friend while they got caught up in the small crowd of workers .

" Brod needs a house sitter real soon . I volunteered us , ' course you don't have to ... "

" Oh , you know that I will ! "

" It's a conditioner , disposable razor , jarred pasta sauce and canned mixed vegetables kind of afternoon . " Jimmy exhaled , eyeing the pallets in the back of the shipment truck .

" Indeed . " Colby agreed , leaning against the brick wall on the left side of the grocery store .

" Go ahead , muscle man . "

" After you , crazy cat lady who happens to be somewhat of a gentleman . "

" Somewhat ? ! "

" I've heard you like getting rough too . " the partly dyed blond winked , smirking sweetly and teasing .

" You heard correctly . " Jimmy grinned devilishly .

They hefted and carted containers and barely taking a break until they had the shared appearance of after a lay - clothing glued to their anatomy with pouring sweat rain , heaving breaths taken , flushed and heated flesh , drippy hair clinging above their eyebrow line and legs wobbling , sore and shaky .

Resting their backsides on the banana boxes packed to the brim with cooking oil and evaporated milk , the duo sighed as one being and their voices cracked in tired unison .

" I - f - feel like I should smoke right - whew ! - about now . " Xio stammered , digging into his bubble gum pink handbag .

" You're gasping for air and you think that sucking nicotine would help ? ! " Colby scolded , snatching the smokes from his friend's trembling hands and threw them to the gravel sprinkled pavement .

" You know how I am , gotta suck on something . "

" Or someone , you tramp . My favorite slut - babe . Slut - man , ' scuse me . "

" Yeah , make me sound like a superhero when you're the one ... " Jimmy exhaled an altered sigh , the type that craved more and politely asked for it with neither man remembering that they were in the presence of other men who would call them ' fags ' or ' queers ' and more than likely , threaten them aggressively .

They forehead - bumped softly , despite the risk and their mouths closed in one another's ...

Judy's car brakes making the familiar ' eeking ' stepped on rodent sound startled both young adults and the trucker cap wearing , muddy work boots and overgrown ear and nose hair sporting , older males unloading shipment after shipment from the grocery store's delivery trucks haul .

She received not a leer , no catcalls , what with the ' I'll beat your ass ' spark in her eyes , determination and upset on her face and her husband by her side , also glaring .

" Mom ? ! Dad ? ! "

" Brodie called us on the way and said that Tyler ... is Colby here ? There's an emergency . "

" I'm right here . " he replied , walking between boxes of travel size toothpaste , lotion and antibacterial hand cleaner and terrified of what he guessed that Tom was going to say .

" Your mother is in jail . She was arrested for drunk driving and crashing her car into a front display window of a clothing store , so she'll be going to rehab and the house is to be sold since she hasn't been paying the bills lately either . Whatever profit is made from the home being auctioned off will go to repay the costs of the damage she's done but we're going to try to get a small percentage , if possible to place in your savings account . "

" Can I go back ? Could I see her again ? ! "

" That was something we'd planned to ask and yes , you may if it's what you want . Take what you'd like and need from your home and put the unused items in a storage building or donate or sell them , your choice . "

" Mom , I want to go with him ! "

" No , this time you can't . Your father will be but I'm staying behind and so are you . "

" We won't be gone no longer than forty eight hours , perhaps more depending on the flight wait times . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

The brick of the jailhouse exterior reminded him of Joe , sturdy protection .

The razor and barbed wire curling in loops on the top of the surrounding security fencing made him think of Jon and dare to touch , to cut his skin .

Blood brothers .

The corrections officer that met with him just inside the front entrance was the type of looker he would've loved to mingle with while on the run - an inch or two taller than his height , golden brown hair to the shoulders , mid to late twenties at the oldest , wide hips , muscular arms and legs , blue ribbon rack and ass and the most likely ability to pin him down was very , very appealing .

" Empty your pockets . Turn them inside out . "

He smiled and obeyed her after a rushed , flirtatious bow and saluting combo .

" Now , arms up and feet spread . Legs apart . "

" You're enjoying this ? "

" Are you ? ! "

She patted him down from scalp to the bottoms of his feet , pale and cold without his socks and sneakers .

" Anything else ? "

" Want to exchange numbers ? " he flipped his hair over a shoulder and flashed a fox - like grin .

" You're dreaming while you're awake , young man . "

The she - hulk of his dreams gave him a little shove , her right hand on his upper back and left on the lower , ' tough love ' pushing him towards the partitioned seating areas with telephones on either side and divided by a clear barrier .

Colby's full attention shifted from the attractive amazon to this other woman , a well known stranger .

The olive - green and reddish - brown patch from the woman's neckline to one side of her jaw he mistook at a first , quick glance to be a dirt stain , unwashed , before seeing it as the bruise it was .

His mother .

He sat , butt pulled south by gravity and shock and held the phone .

The young man couldn't speak , after the years of being disgusted , disappointed and enraged and now , guilt , sadness and pitying forgiveness muted his speech .

The older woman facing him wasn't talking either but trembling and sobbing , clear drops splashing on her tightly clutched phone .

He could slam down the phone and storm away , he could holler and curse and bitch without shame .

And what was meant to be , was said .

" Yes sirum yem k'yez aynk'an shat , yev yes dzez ky neri : You're my mother , forever . "

His mother smiled and the tears rolled onto her curled , trembling lips .

The same guard who'd patted him down tapped his shoulder .

" Your time's up . "

" Sorry , Mom but I have to go now . " Colby leaned in to the edge of his seat .

He breathed to fog up a palm print size section of the bullet proof glass barrier and with both thumbs up , traced to make a heart .

" Yes sirum yem k'yez aynk'an shat , yev yes ts'avum yem, vor vnasel dzez . " his mother said , mouthing the words . " Always my son in my heart . "

Then he cried .

Parent and child .

Mother and son .

Exactly the same .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Awww , you were a really cute little boy ! " Jimmy snickered , flipping the pages of one family album .

" I consider myself as a higher level of handsome but since you're speaking of me at that young of an age , I'll allow cute , thanks . "

" Nice feathered hair , by the way . "

" Hey , I was fourteen and improved my hairstyle choices soon after . Besides , you rocked the same ' do a year younger than I did ! " Colby bleated , two cats head - butting the other to win a choice sitting place in his lap .

" Who told ? ! "

" Your dad told me and your mother showed me the pictures . " Colby smirked , plucking feline fur off of his tee .

Jimmy faked gasping and eye rolling .

" I may never get over you knowing about that mistake . "

" Relax , you know I wouldn't mock you about it . "

" Yeah , you're great . " the more eccentrically dressed man smiled and skimmed through the high school photos next . " The punk rock spikes are cool , Tyyyylerrrrrr . "

" Thank you . I emptied an entire tube of clear gel to make 'em . " the half blond beamed .

" Mom and Dad will be home tonight so we might as well go ahead and call for our takeout orders . "

" Two thumbs up , James . "

" Hey , run over and ask Raul and Sofia if they want anything . They've been cooking for us enough while we've been latch - key livin ' this week , so I like to return the favor . " Jimmy exchanged the photo album for the phone book , searching for restaurant numbers and menus advertised .

" You won't go ? It has to be me ? ! " Colby choked , instantly on edge .

" Uh , yeah . What's the problem ? " his friend asked , eyebrows lifting .

" Well ... nothing . But - uhm , you don't have a chastity belt for men that I can borrow ? " the eighteen year old wondered , feeling suddenly weakened . " Or castle walls to protect my butt ? "

" You . Are . Acting . Bizarre . Why would I own something I'd never use ? ! " Xio replied , brazenly .

" Ah Hell , never mind . " his Tyler muttered and made for the door .

He sprinted past the vehicles pulling into the drive , waved and slowed down to greet his Michigan best bud's parents .

" It's good to be back at home ! How have you been these last few days ? Our son hasn't bugged you ? "

" No insects whatsoever , sir . "

" Jimmy's running you ragged ? "

" Er ... no , ma'am . Just keeping me going and on my toes . " Xio's Tyler explained , leaving out that their offspring was far more intrigued by the idea and action of one man with his feet and lower legs raised up upon the other's shoulders more than toes but he kept his yappy mouth shut .

" Thank you for being here . " Judy smiled and hugged him .

" She's right , we're glad to have you living with us . " Tom nodded , giving a short embrace .

" Jeez - thanks . I'll be back in a few , just running errands . "

He began the fast walk until he heard Jimmy laughing with his parents .

Colby looked back at them and felt the stomach nausea made out of jealousy and longing , envious heartache that had him nearly puking .

They were a real family , loving and caring beings that had each other to trust , support and be there for .

And he was an outsider , the third wheel who slept in their living room , alone inside even with others nearby .

"Hey , knock knock ? Woah , let me get that for ya . "

He relieved his female neighbor from the ' burden ' of carrying a stack of picture frames with the price stickers still clinging .

" Oh , you do not knock from now on ! When our door is unlocked and opened , you are welcome here . You are family with us , do not be shy . " Sofia trotted her new , folded and vivid pink blankets into the home .

" Hello , mister Black ! Can you tell that my heart has not only drained my wallet but also emptied the home decor shop ? " Raul laughed up on the step-stool while fitting the framed , black and white photo of cacti onto the hammered nail .

" It's noticeable . " Colby bit his tongue to manage the chuckle in his throat .

" You men cannot understand about having beautiful things . " Sofia fussed , hands on her hips .

" I realize that I am in the presence of beauty . " Raul lowered his head and their profiles combined within the kiss .

The younger male quickly looked away and waited out the display of affection by counting the variety of bright hues throughout the living space .

He'd never seen a home with orange and yellow - gold painted walls before or a midnight blue velvet love seat holding a tiny mountain of sage green throw pillows .

The interior design suited the couple , bold and unique .

" Sit , sit , please rest your legs . " Sofia said , in jovial spirits as she playfully swatted a tasseled pillow into his belly .

" Yes , please do take a seat before she begins chasing you . " Raul added with a grin , depositing the hammer back into the toolbox .

" Actually - I can't stay and visit for long - but that's because ... what I want to ask - "

" We have questions for you as well , important things for you to know . "

" Then , uhm , you go first . Please . "

He plunked his denim covered bottom on the love seat and they sat in their teal armchairs facing him .

Blue velvet . Love seat . The words alone were unsettling to him that he felt the sensation of perspiring down his backbone , on his palms and mortifying , his earlobes .

Sofia did the talking and Raul sat quietly and evidently fascinated while Colby merely sat , making sure to keep his knees and inner thighs together .

" We have had a certain dilemma in our adult lives and strongly feel that you could be the solution . "

" I can't - I'm really ... " Colby laughed nervously . " You want me to , er , get you pregnant ? ! "

The couple gave one another unsure , puzzled looks as the teen coughed out more hysterical , confused giggles .

" We've had , no , I've had difficulties . I am infertile . "

" Oh , well , I'm sorry about that but there's nothing I can - "

" We still want you to be with us . "

Colby gagged on his own tongue , dry as desert sand .

He glanced , horrified , at Raul .

" You're sick ! Both of you are perverts and I will never fuck you - " he glared at the startled woman .

" Let me explain ... "

" Or you ! " he shouted , scowling at the older man and scrambling from the chair .

" You don't curse at us , in our home and not apologize . " Raul warned , frowning .

The eighteen year old bolted , slamming into the scattered tables and bookcase .

Their hands were on his wrists and he fought back , shook them off and threw his entire body into the attempt at a foyer .

" You're both repulsive and I won't let you have me ! "

" You don't understand ... "

" Wait ! "

He sped from the home in a frenzy and tripping on the porch steps , went soaring .

And crash landing .

Arms raising him and legs hurrying over the ground , screaming over his headachey skull and he couldn't see anything besides the dirt in his eyes , felt nothing except for sorrow and the knife stab explosion spreading into the bone marrow of his bent ankle .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Alright , cut it . And watch out for pinching my skin . "

Jimmy snipped the scissor blades through the patient I.D. wristband until the circle divided into a C .

" How's that ? "

" It's freedom . " Colby sighed , appreciating his friend fluffing the pillows and helping him keep his leg elevated . " Two goddamn weeks and I can finally wiggle my toes again ! No more shitty hospital food . La , la , laaaa . "

" La , la , la . " Xio joined in on the happy singing .

" Back to the edible meals at home . What are we having ? "

He yawned on his pull - out couch bed , empty of the pile of laundry he'd left dumped there and many a nosy cat , shedding fur on his bedding .

" We'll know once Raul and Sofia bring it over at lunch time . "

" Shit , no ! Don't let them near me ! "

Colby bolted from the sheets and stumbled , clumsy without his crutches in hand .

Jimmy caught him and eased him back into bed , feet up and covers mussed .

" Why are you being so mean to them ? They called for the ambulance , they ran over here to get me and my parents when you fell . They're nice to you and you're ... . "

" It's their fault that I sprained my ankle ! They came on to me with their perverse ideas - "

" Tyler , they love you almost as much as I do and you're being a judgmental jackass ! An asshole for treating them like garbage , like shit . "

" They love me ? ! Hell no , they want me for sex ! "

" You are so damn stupid ! They want to adopt you ! "

" They - want me to be their son ? ! "

" Yes ! "

" They want to become my parents ? ! "

" Yes . "

" Oh , fuck . I've screwed up . "

The former runaway repeated relocating from the mattress and clunked about on a chosen path .

He was tough and courageous .

He was unstoppable and coated lightly with cat hairs .

" Where are you going ? ! "

" To find out if second chances can come true . "

" Hold on ! You'll fall ! "

" If I do , then I'll struggle and get back up on my feet . That's what you do when you care . "

Jimmy wrapped his arms around Colby , keeping him standing while he balanced on the crutches .

He lent a helping hand at the front door when his beloved had crossed the living room rug .

" It's about fucking time that you opened your heart to those marvelous , generous people . "

The half blond smiled slightly , determined and focused as he departed his friend's side of the connected double trailers , lurching and swaying down the built on wheelchair ramp and heading across the lawn to brake at the Lopezes ' home .

He rang the doorbell . He knocked .

Two light brown faces with worry apparent in their expressions peered out at him .

He made a wish , cold sweating in his clothes and trembling on their front porch .

" Yes ? "

" Could I - may I come in ? I have something important to say . "

" So did we and you rejected us , ran from us like we are terrible . "

" I won't deny I'm a moron . But I promise I'll never make either of you feel bad again , not intentionally anyway . "

" Come inside and sit before you fall a second time , please . "

Raul was being tolerant and friendly enough , at a particular level , however Sofia wasn't looking at the younger man or speaking to him .

The pang from that in comparison to the throbbing in his healing leg burned .

Hell , being stomped in the balls would've felt more like a tickle than her coldness and silence sent in his embarrassed , conscience - stricken direction .

Prayer was for dummies who wasted their time worshiping an imaginary character they called their ' Lord ' .

He grimaced at the electric shock pain but dropped to his knees in front of them anyway , pleading at their feet .

" I won't ask for the forgiveness that I'm not worthy to have but would you accept this no - good idiot with a foot in his mouth as your son ? "

" You are someone that we have hoped for . "

" My ... father ? "

Raul nodded .

" And - my mother ? "

Colby dissolved along with his insecurities from Sofia's perfect Stay Puft embrace - a big , powerful , soft and pleasantly scented hug .

" Sí , Sí . Our family , if you want to be a part of it . " his second Mom giggled into the black side of his two - tone mane .

He hugged one new parent in each arm , losing his crutches to the floor and melting their marshmallow love into superb gooey Smores commitment .

And he was their graham cracker .

He was their son .

" Yes ! "

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

             

The woman honed in on her unknowing target and advanced towards him with weapon raised over her head .

She giggled and ' dusted ' his exposed bare feet with the grey feathers attached to the hard plastic stick .

Her son shifted slightly as the solo response .

Sofia ' tsked ' at her groggy boy , dropped the feather duster and tugged the curtains open to allow sunlight flow into the otherwise darkened living space .

" Time for your rising and shining , Mister Sleepy ! '

" Más cinco minutos . " the young man grumbled and rolled over beneath the covers , yawning and groaning .

" Oh no , no , Mister Niño perezoso ! You'll get out of bed ! This is the thanks I receive after allowing you to stay awake late listening to your loud music . " Sofia pretended to moan and whine with sorrow and exhaustion while she crossed her arms and frowned impatiently at her son burrowed happily in the sheets .

" I'm sorry , Mom . I can get you some earplugs next time - " Colby peeked at the scowling older woman and beamed . Smiling usually softened her enough to keep his butt out of being grounded .

" No more jokes , no more excuses . Out of bed , sir ! "

Sofia grabbed the blankets and pulled . She gasped at the same time Colby did and they placed effort in avoiding looking directly at one another .

" Mother ! Get out of my room ! " the young man yelped , yanking the bedding from her hands to conceal his body again .

" Aaugh ! " his mother shrieked before her hands raised to cover her mouth as she ran from the bedroom .

" What has happened ? ! What is wrong ? ! " Raul blurted , sprinting into the narrow hallway .

" Nothing . We are okay . " Sofia replied , gradually calming down .

" Yeah ... nothing , Dad . " Colby commented , squatting next to the dresser and scooting into jeans and a plain tee .

" Mornin ' , Dad . " the eighteen year old opened a fresh pack of coffee filters and went to work at the counter as Raul squashed one orange after another through the juicer .

" Good morning , my dear boy . About the yelling from before , should I be worried ? "

" Noooooo and you shouldn't either . " Colby replied , dropping bread slices into the toaster .

" He was wearing clothing with very little coverage . " Sofia entered the small kitchen , peered into the fridge and removed the carton of eggs .

" What ? ! " Raul asked , his voice raised while a beginning amused smile showed on his lips . " My wonderful lady , what do you mean ? "

" Mom ! She saw me in my underwear and thinks the world's been made a worse place ' cause of my drawers . " the young man quipped , standing so that the heating beverage steam would float over his reddened face .

" Do not kid . I never said such things but I am still mortified . It was easy to see ... your hair . " Sofia grunted and tossed eggshells into the tall plastic trash can .

" MOTHER ! " the half blond choked , eyes bulging .

" Darling ! Surely , that isn't something we should be talking about . Especially at our breakfast . " Raul commented sharply , taking boxes of cereal out of the overhead cabinets .

" Well , it is true . " his wife said sullenly .

" Still - " the older man exhaled , shaking his brunette head .

" Oh , it was only underwear ! Maybe to you they're skimpy but it's not like I was naked . " their adopted child stated .

" Could we not , please ? - " Raul pleaded and took his chair . " Let's only discuss nice subjects when we eat . "

" Okay , okay . " Sofia looked to be in the mood to argue and complain but gave in temporarily .

" I really sorry that I embarrassed us all . " Colby shook sugary flakes into his bowl and grinned wickedly . " I bet that you'd like revealing underwear if Dad bought some and wore them for you , Mom . "

" I'm sure that is enough . " Raul coughed out a tiny laugh and hid his expression behind the daily paper .

" Much more than enough . " Sofia agreed , her cheeks instantly pink .

" No , it'd be great ! He could dance around and - "

" We should be finishing our meal . " Raul said from the back of the newspaper .

" Yes , before the eggs and toast get cold . " Sofia dug into her food , her face gone from salmon to ruby .

Colby laughed to himself , proud that he'd won a smaller battle and glad that his parents , being parents , would always win the important wars .

" We should make something to serve our guest . People shouldn't go hungry . " Sofia said thoughtfully , once they'd concluded their breakfast and were triple team loading the dishwasher .

" I've been impressed for many glorious , happy years . But don't go overboard . " Raul smiled over a cereal bowl .

" Yeah , Mom . Dad's right . Besides , people have food preferences , allergies ... " their son pointed out , dumping in the spoons .

" I would be a disgrace of a host if my guests leave without something to eat ! " his mother exclaimed , aghast .

" Never think such horrible things about yourself ! A compromise is to make simple appetizers while our boy and I do the house cleaning . " her husband suggested , gently dragging the younger man by an elbow and out of the room .

" Whuh ? ! We will ? ! "

" Yes , get the vacuum . "

" No offense but paranoid ? It next to never gets unsanitary ' round here and I doubt one speck of dust floating will send ' The Law ' dragging me out of our home . "

" I was wanting more from the noise factor . "

" Ooooohhhh , oh ! I understand . " Colby sorted through the teeny hall closet's selection of cleaning supplies and lugged the push vac onto the living room rug .

The attack dog - like growl the machine made when running made him laugh , it always did .

" What your mother walked in on ... did you fall asleep while - " Raul's face scorched . " Masturbating ? "

" DAD ! " the half blond yelped , flailing his arms to not trip over the long cord as the scents of food prep floated into his twitching nostrils .

" You did ? "

" I - yeah . "

" I guessed right then . Nothing to feel ashamed for doing , although you'll have to be more careful because - "

" Of Mom catching me . I know , I know . " Colby crimsoned , handing Raul a spray bottle of neon blue window cleaner before reaching for the broom .

" Thank you for not being a defiant , unpleasant adolescent . "

He was sweeping the porch after shaking out the bizarre Welcome mat made from some astro - turf type material when a small calico swatted at his sneaker laces .

A medium size brown tabby and larger red - orange long haired feline weaved around the potted plants balanced on the wooden railing .

" I thought that you hate cleaning , beautiful . "

Colby stopped pushing the broom and smiled .

" Are you a magnet to cats ? ! ' Cause I know I've not seen these guys before . "

" Do I attract pussies ? Yeah , I do ! "

" You take after me then , fancy pants . "

Jimmy pounced into into the teen's embrace , was swung around and when paused , gave many kisses as a reward .

" Hey , Ty . How's my guy ? Should I ask your parents if you can come out and play on this spectacular afternoon ? "

" First day we have in awhile with the temps warming , sun blazing and the snow finally melted away , but nope . Sorry , man . It's case worker visiting us day . "

" The short , mostly balding guy who saved that rabbit from getting killed and eaten by weasels ? "

" Nah , this time I'm pretty sure it's Miss Francesca dropping by . "

" I admire your pretty and resent the sure . And she's a Mrs . With a husband . She's not interested in you . "

" Hey , things and people do change . "

" Yeah . They do . "

" Like graduating college , for example . Your choice of how we'll celebrate . "

" In-between . " Jimmy answered with no hesitation .

" In-between ? " Colby scrunched up the lower half of his face and stood with his nose firmly wrinkled .

" Yeah , two weeks past no more school for me , it's on to nineteen for you . "

" So , we can do something in the middle . Yeah , sounds great by me . "

" Movies ! "

" Movies ? To rent or - "

" Go to a theater . Or a drive in . "

" Drive ins still exist ? ! "

" They might and if so , I'll find us a nice one . " Jimmy laughed and winked .

" Good , ' cause those mean ones are way too impolite to waste time on . " Colby agreed , shooing a cat from scaling his butt and lower back like a mountain hiking trail .

" I thought the same . "

" Alright , so which day - "

" Night . We'll go out at night . "

" And get beaten and robbed , probably murdered by druggies , drunks , homeless people having bad hair days . Yay , I won't live to turn twenty ! " Colby said sarcastically .

Jimmy swatted at him , frowning and lifted a long cord necklace from beneath his shirt collar , shaking the huge attached pendant .

" You'll never be a comedian worth anything either , Tyyyyyyylerrrrrrrrr . We'll be unharmed ' cause I'll take this with us . "

" A giant nail . " Colby looked on , unimpressed .

" A railroad spike . " Jimmy corrected with glee .

" Oh , the things a man can buy off of a hobo . "

" You're just super jealous knowing that my weapon is bigger than yours . "

" You wish ! "

" You do ! "

" I'm sorry about the birthday letdown . " the half blond had by now lost count of the number of felines trailing behind their Pied Piper of Peculiar , his fully brunette boyfriend .

" Hey now , I loved the gift cards ! "

" Maybe you did but I should have given you what you actually want . "

" You did . You're with me and that's beyond a want , you're my need . "

They embraced and their ' always and forever ' was interrupted by the cats cranked up to ten vocal purrs .

Colby snickered and looked at his boyfriend's zebra print boots , then stepped backwards in shock .

" Whaaaaaaa ? "

" Awh , shit in a bucket and call it a hoarder's toilet ! " Jimmy closed his eyes painfully tight , opened them to much wider and practically bulging as his face burned plum .

A black and white kitten was playing with a white string snaking from the very bottom of a rolled pink denim leg cuff .

" What is that ? ! " the half blond crouched to stare at his friend's jeans .

" Don't touch it , Tyler ! It's nothing ! " the older of the duo bent to shove the object from view . He gasped and gritted his teeth when his fingertips were visibly showing wet and blackish - red stains .

" Hey , what the Hell ? The cat scratched you ? Wait and I'll get a bandage - "

" It's nothing . " Jimmy spat , grimaced and turned tail to dart over the grass , a parade of felines on his heels .

" Huh . " Colby tilted his head until the neck cramp tried to make itself a permanent home .

" My dear boy , are you done sweeping ? " Raul called from an open front window .

" I'm ... yeah - be right there , Dad . "

" Everyone , grab and go ! " Sofia ordered , gesturing at the goodies spread out on the counter space .

" Aye , aye , Cap'n Mom Ma'am . " the youngest man quipped . " Dad , if you're plotting to grab Mom's go , please do it when I'm not looking . "

Raul struggled with a guffaw behind his son , both males claiming their own poker face expressions .

Colby carried the plate of bacon cheese stuffed mini peppers , Sofia the chicken and sun dried tomato bruschetta and her husband , tempura vegetables on a platter into the living room , settling each item onto the hammered silver metal rounded drum shaped coffee table that ironically resembled a big cooking pot .

" First of all , how has it been for you living here ? Any questions or complaints ? " the caseworker asked , her auburn hair not troublesomely falling behind the reading glasses lenses and her long legs were crossed at the knees .

She'd claimed as her throne - or her butt had , anyway - the thrift store bargain , faded white and floral patterned armchair , AKA twenty five dollars says that you fix the broken legs and torn upholstery on it yourself , thanks and have a nice day .

" Im tsnoghnery ch'yen yerkrord yev voch' mekum . " the youngest man answered , perched on ' his ' couch .

" I knew that I should kept that translation handbook close by ! " his mother complained , jumping from her chair .

" I'll help you search for it . " her spouse followed .

" So , how has it been for you , being here with them ? " Francesca inquired , after the family pause .

" It's precisely what I told you . They're perfect and I'm extremely happy , content and cared for . More that that , I'm truly loved . And not only from my parents but most every resident in our ' park ' is family to me . "

" I see . No problems or disagreements ? "

" Well - yeah , ' cause everyone is human and they have arguments but I'm not abused or anything like that . " the half blond shrugged .

" Anything like that ... meaning ? "

" Oh , you know . Being spanked . Ever experienced that , getting spanked ? " the not yet nineteen year old wondered smugly and flashed his clean white teeth , not losing the staring contest with the slightly older , very attractive woman .

" I don't like your dirty mouth and filthy mind . " Francesca scowled , looking over the designer glasses frames .

" Hey , wait a few ... you may learn to love it . " Colby replied , leaning forward with fingers spread and palms flat on the shredded knee holes of his jeans , leering once she shifted in place and recrossed her legs - at the ankles .

" We found it ! " Raul announced out of the blue , startling the young man he'd taken in to jump in his seat .

" Oh , I cannot make heads or tails of this thing ! " Sofia fussed , frowning at the thick translation handbook .

" What I said was Eres el mejor , which is true . " the half blond flung a loving glance at his parents .

" And look what else I brought ! " his mother beamed proudly , rattling the familiar VHS tape .

" Oh no . Oh noooooo . " Colby groaned and ducked for cover the instant the old home video began to play , beginning to his dismay with the toddler years .

Raul smiled .

Francesca smirked and chuckled .

" There he is , the big little man ! My boy , waving to the camera . " Sofia squealed at the first sight of ' her baby ' taking wobbling unsure steps while laughing merrily and then did just what her son knew she would right before he buried his features into the only cushion within reach - she waved back at the tv screen .

" Rrrrrurgh . "

" See it like this , it's either innocent video or she'll whip out the photo albums . " his father stated in a whisper , patting the younger man's back .

Colby weighed his options . Home movies were one cause of absolute humiliation but the family albums contained the most mortifying invention in existence - naked baby pictures .

" Uhnmmmmm , in that case ... popcorn ? " he suggested slyly and Raul chuckled .

" We should get started . " the caseworker clicked her pen , not causing interruption to Sofia's delighted video viewing and was poised for note taking . " Any changes since the last visit ? Negative , positive ? "

" You should tell her , Pillow Man . " Sofia commented , eyes focused on the screen .

Raul , humored , nodded at his bundled boy .

" I'm taking college courses at home . Haven't decided one hundred percent what I want to do for a good paying , hopefully fun job but my choice option is teaching fitness . "

" And he helps out , not only at home but also in our restaurant on when he has the time . "

" Daaaaad ... " the teen protested , wondering if blue velvet would make a good hideout twice .

" Plus the odd jobs , helping people in the neighborhood with various tasks and chores . "

" Vergonzoso ! La negligencia . "

Colby glanced at the television and instantly saw what had disturbed his mother . She was frowning , jaw tight and eyes narrowed at the record event of his little kid self running into his birth mother's bedroom and there she was , passed out while he babbled and grinned and pulled her stringy hair draped over the near side of the mattress .

Whoever had been taping quickly jerked the camcorder to one side , apparently embarrassed by the sight and onscreen , a peachy skin tone blur concealed when the unknown person had picked him up to carry back into the living room .

Who had recorded that time ? Any time , for that matter ? ! He couldn't recall relatives or friends of his Mom's being around and his Dad had only been in his life once , when sperm met egg successfully .

" Well . " Raul paced to the VCR and stopped the tape , glaring before ejecting it . " That is enough for today . "

Colby sighed agreement , retreated from his pillow fort and took his proud place beside the woman he hadn't a speck of DNA in common with and no matter , still was his mother .

" It really is . " he added and Sofia hugged him until they both felt gloriously peaceful .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Cinema , dilapidated with a rickety screen taken over by vines , tall grasses and suffocating weeds .

Beside brittle dried shrubbery , one vehicle among the six parked cars that had clear windows instead of fogged up , motionless instead of rocking and the romance inside surpassed the other couples merely in heat .

Backseat fun in the shadows of the sunset and Colby playfully blew several exhaling breaths to try and send the mortarboard tassel flying .

His Jimmy , meanwhile was blowing him .

" I'd complain that I can't kiss you now ' cause of my dick taste but you're too good to bitch about . "

Jimmy came up for air , overcome by the side splitting laughter and a bodily fluid exchange of love .

" You can kiss me . You can do whatever you want with me . "

" Uhm humm hmmm ... my turn then . "

Xio lowered his pink lace underwear held in place by small white ribbons rumpled at knee level and his boyfriend's fingers sank into the interior depths , knuckles vanishing before the moan , the squeal , the alarmed cursing shouted .

From what the exterior lacked , commotion developed .

Colby leapfrogged into the front seat , ditching Jimmy and accidently crushing his backside into the steering wheel .

" Where is your dick ? ! " he shouted at the unshaven , frowning and melancholy young man with a vagina .

" I never had one . This is what I was born with and I don't hate the thing so I kept it . "

Gradually , Iowa deciphered the code of his buddy's groin .

" You're the girl in the photos ! But ... how - why ? ! "

" Typical man . You haven't heard anything that I've said . " Jimmy pulled off looking absolutely disgusted combined with flawless double raised eyebrows .

" I'll listen . I'm listening ! So , you are a female who wanted to become male - "

" No , I've always been both . "

" Both ? ! " Colby yelped .

" Yesssssss . " his lover snarled .

" So , who ... what are you really ? ! "

" I'm me . Yeah , I'm in the wrong for keeping it secret but I never lied to you . "

" H - how do you have ... who do you prefer being with sexually ? "

" You're still insulting me ? ! How do you fuck ? ! I'm male and female ! I like being with other women as much as I do getting with other men , okay ? I'm the same that you are , a person , a human being . I'm not inferior just because you were born with a dick ! "

The slap was a sunburn on the flesh , hot and stinging . Colby paid it no mind and wriggled into the backseat , the tears making him clumsy .

" You're - this is the first time I've seen you cry . " he tried cupping Jimmy's chin , lifting it and was backhanded again , then pushed aside .

" That's because - oh , I don't care what others think about me ! - but then you show up in my life and judge me ... "

" I'm not judging you , looking down on you as inferior or seeing you as a freak . But you threw me for a loop . "

" I would have told you already if I could fully believe you wouldn't leave me after finding out . "

" Why would I leave you ? " the half blond took a chance and brushed against his boyfriend , leaning on her , shoulder to shoulder .

" Guys have before . Girlfriends too but most of the time , the men I've been with . "

" They ain't me . Maybe they said that they cared - I don't know - but I honestly love you . "

He wasn't fazed by sitting there in the backseat , unzipped , exposed and mildly embarrassing that his penis was flopping over to one side . His friend had to be held and comforted , reassured and loved by someone there for him so Colby did all that and more .

" Please love me . " Jimmy responded , physically and otherwise , not speaking words but breathing them . " And you'll be driving us home . You owe me . "

" Don't I though ? " the almost nineteen year old adjusted and dressed the important parts , jingled the keys and threw a shy , trembling smile of apology at Xio climbing in beside him and plunking into the passenger's side . " We'll wake your parents . "

" Hmmmm , maybe not . I have an idea . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" You're back early . " As a team , the Lopez couple turned from the television program the second that the front door creaked .

" The movie wasn't what we expected so we left . Hey , if those who created me come looking , would you tell them I'm showing Tyler the underground shelter ? " Jimmy glanced at Raul , usually more agreeable and easier to convince into gifting various freedoms .

" You won't be gone long ? " Sofia directed the question at her neighbor while eyeing her son suspiciously .

" Only a little tour and probably hang out and talk , couple hours if you don't mind , ma'am . "

" Hold on , I've been living here close to a year now and nobody told me before we have a bomb shelter ? ! " Colby bleated .

" It's more of a storm shelter for us and since we receive more floods here , it's hardly used . " Raul explained , sitting the remote down .

" I suppose you could , however it's getting late ... "

" Two hours is nothing at all , darling . They are young adults wanting to have their fun without the stuffy older people bothering them . "

" Hey now , the two of you plus my parents are the absolute coolest ' old ' people that there are . Worldwide . " Jimmy stated . When he buttered people up , he brought popcorn along too .

" Flatterer ! Go ahead and have your ' slumber party ' but make sure not to linger . "

" We'll return in no time , I swear . "

" Long walk ? " Colby asked , clicking on the flashlight beam for the second time that night .

" Brisk trek . " Jimmy replied , his footsteps faster as they headed to the stone and brick wall enclosed , tarp covered and recently frozen over community garden .

He swung gleefully on the creaky , partially thawing metal gate while his beloved went over the short wall like it was nothing .

" So where ? - "

" Compost heap . "

" Yurrgh . "

" If you'd look as much as you sneer , you'd see it ! "

" See what ? ! Mulch ? "

Jimmy ' tsked ' impatiently and shook his head before shining the circle of light at the ground .

" There is your what . " he said and Colby slowly caught on once he noticed the odd , large shower curtain ring lookalike embedded into the lawn .

" Woah , is that some sort of trap door ... ? ! "

" In a way , yeah , it is . Okay , follow behind and step careful , in case . It's not dangerous but nobody's cleaned for awhile and - "

" Oh shiiiiiiiiit ! " the almost nineteen year old shouted into the dusty darkness , repeating the cursing shortly after his slightly older lover flicked the light switch to brighten and reveal the many rooms , all decorated in the beautifully ugly style of the Madonna Inn . " It's a freaking hotel ! "

" Underground motel . " Xio corrected as they strolled past a dining room with horrendous lipstick red wallpaper and furniture , smaller kitchen done in an overload of greens and golds fit for a leprechaun , bathrooms with nautical themes and Tiki crowded man cave areas . " And here's my hangout . "

The walls , floor , ceiling and furniture were all white with black accents and the colors of the room weren't simply pops but bursts .

Colby blinked , dumbstruck to mute at the sight of neon pink plush overstuffed pillows speckled with leopard spots , grape flavored cough medicine purple zebra print bedding , strings of round clear glass beads and knitted , multicolored striped scarves hanging from plastic doll parts made into a disturbing chandelier .

" You like it ? "

" It's very you . And fresh air compared to the chintz and old - timey decor in this place , no offense . "

" This is where we have fun and express ourselves . Tacky and gaudy flies because all of the stuff down here doesn't have important memories and value or special significance for anyone so if anything's destroyed , we don't cry over it . "

" Are there ... can I have a room ? ! "

" There are some vacant ones . I'll tour guide your pretty self and you can pick whichever . "

" But not right now . Stay with me . "

" I haven't left you . " the half blond stripped his barely older companion and sat on the bed while Xio undressed him .

" I know . " the pair squirmed , stretched , lay facing each other under the soft sheets .

They kissed in a hungry mood before Colby crawled in reverse , smooching down the chest to below the belly , reaching past that and ducking his profile below and smirking , glad to feel Jimmy's inner thighs welcome him in their grip .

He licked the nub first , moving it like the was a joystick , admiring how fascinating and alluring that part of the anatomy was when at a bigger , swollen length than the norm .

" Tyyyyylerrrrrrrr ! " Xio yelled , the cry of the overwhelmed and loving it once the flicking tongue was traded for and replaced by being sucked on like a straw .

Pulling back , he adjusted to rub his own inflated flesh against the clit , following with a sliding insert that made both men screech .

" TYLER ! "

His hairs above the base brushed the vulva , a skillful and ticklish massage and where they were joined on the inside , their personal vibrations drenched their bodies .

He spooned with his boyfriend , kissing her shoulders , upper back and hips . The darkest black - brown hairs on his wrists were plastered flat from the glaze of sweat .

" Th - that floored me ... my other women weren't a fraction of remarkable compared to what we - you're unreal . "

" Nah , I'm totally real . "

" You're more than that . Jimmy , Xio , you are where I belong . "

" Can - may I be your girlfriend ? "

" Ya eres mía . "

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

              

The big , dirty hand with calluses , peeled dry skin and ragged , filthy , brown fingernails smacked against the tiny , living balloon , popping the feeding , swollen blister into a blood spattered , insect corpse mess .

" Family culicidae . " Rowan spoke beside his air boat driving beloved .

" Family ? ! These pests aren't part of any get together I'd attend ! " Brodie grumbled .

" Phoenicopterus ruber " Erick commented , motioning at the group of oddly shaped , electric pink birds standing in the shallow water , hunting through the waving grasses for their food .

" Easier to tolerate than these - ouch ! - damn mosquitoes . " Brodie said , swatting over and over while trying to steer and not send them falling into the swamp .

" If we could , I'd have some for my pets . "

" Pets , big man ? "

" Yes . " The horror movie villain / drag queen on energy drink shots style of plastic mask shifted for brief insect slapping purposes before the deranged lamb face smeared with bright pink circles on the cracked cheeks , neon blue ovals swirled about the empty , chilling black eye sockets and crimson leaking around the sneering mouth settled into place . " I'd name them John Muddy Bog Waters and Divine Intervention . "

The scraggly bearded brunette guffawed in astonished delight .

" Your sense of humor - another reason I love you . "

" Your grandfather's ... cabin is around here ? " Erick asked as the air boat flew past the bent and twisted mangroves .

" Yeah and you won't believe the crazy name of the place where it was built . Snake Bight Bay . Not bee eye tee eeeeeee , but bee eye gee aychuh tee . Funny , huh ? " Brodie asked with a smile .

" I like the name . " Rowan replied . " Crocodylus acutus and Alligator mississippiensis . " he stated , smiling and pointed to the bank .

Brodie looked , blushed , coughed and turned back to his work .

" If they continue doing what they're - ahem ! - doing , then we may as well play porno music for them . "

" Despite their efforts , they'll be unable to reproduce with each other . "

" Well , more power to the humping critters of the world , I say . "

" And you make me laugh too . " the red bearded male chortled and peeked at the active reptiles on shore . " But they seem to be doing just fine without our help . "

" This is a lovely place to enjoy the beauty of nature . Just think about it , you and I , sitting and watching the sunsets ... " the brunette spoke with increased affection stirred into his cheery tone of voice .

" There is an obese , naked man on the porch . " his giant , mask clad boyfriend noted .

Brodie parked the boat beside the dock in front of the plank board shack on pole ' stilts ' and glared , taken aback .

" What ? ! Damn vandalizing trespassers , worse than the mosquitoes ! "

" I've never heard of mosquitoes being discombobulated , like that man appears to be . "

Stupefied , they exited the watercraft and watched the overweight stranger leap from the porch into the water in a tremendous cannonball dive and landing with a impressive giant splash .

" Rotund moron ! " Brodie scowled . " It hasn't rained here in weeks and the waterline is low and shallow . Idiot will wind up breaking his fat neck ! "

Erick peered over the porch railing , took a moment to ransack the small burlap bag he carried and change into a fresh mask - a frightening cyber goth sheep with rusted metal parts , thick clear tubing and broken chain fragments stapled , taped and hot glued onto the stiff plastic .

" He's purposely holding his face underwater , trying to drown himself , my love . "

" Well , I've always wanted to use my Grampy's seine net . " the brown bearded male said dryly , thumping into the shack .

The pair tossed the faded , unraveling net and hoped , even included a prayer when they hauled in their unusual , pudgy and frantic ' catch of the day ' .

" We'll take him inside the house , dry him off and call 911 . Then let them deal with this babbling nuisance . " the brunette said , untangling the chubby lunatic from the woven ropes . " Hold the fruitcake face down in case he swallowed water and we'll each take an arm and leg to cart his big butt indoors . "

Rowan nodded , only flinching , startled once the dazed man flashed an rosy cheeked , round face , demented Santa Claus grin at the duo .

" From Heaven , she went with him to Hell . The darkness took her from me ... my Michelle . "

" Great , we've saved a unbalanced poet from killing himself . " Brodie huffed , carefully walking backwards .

" Or a psychopathic singer . " Rowan guessed .

" I can't accurately guess his career choice but he's definitely loony and heartbroken . " the brunette replied , stepping slowly and cautiously , nearing the front door .

" And suicidal . " the red bearded male stated .

" Uhm hmmm . Okay , set him down here . " Brodie tilted his head to gesture at the living room rug in front of the unused fireplace .

" Whoooooo ! He's a heavy load ! " Erick paused and dragged the back of one hand across his bald , swiping at the sweat and glued on , wiggling mosquitoes plastered there . " Must have had extra dessert . "

" I'd guess second helpings , yeah . " the man in the perspiration stained , white gone grey tank style shirt jolted a bit when the male in his and his boyfriend's grasp finally quieted down .

" This counts as our arm day at the gym , doesn't it ? " the masked man wondered hopefully .

Brodie snickered .

" Let's sit him upright and use the Heimlich , in case he swallowed any water . Then lay him on his side so he won't choke . "

" Michelle must have meant something - been someone - special in his eyes if he wanted to die so badly . " Rowan commented .

" At least , now that he's no longer panicking , it's easier to move him around . "

Teamwork used to push at the man's broad chest and thump on his solid , wide back helped just enough to calm into what they first feared was passing out but after examining by listening to his pulse , was a light sleep .

" Be right back . " Brodie said and jogged down the hallway .

Erick waited , nearly motionless and hummed kindly to the stranger while he napped .

" The phone's dead so I'm taking the boat and going to find help . With plenty of tourists around snapping nature photos and hikers on the trails nearby , I shouldn't be gone very long . But , to be sure , I'm leaving a claw hammer and pepper spray for you in case this guy wakes up and goes ballistic . " his lover informed him .

" Thank you for caring . " the mask clad redhead responded and waved goodbye . " Don't worry for me . He might be more scared of how I look than me fearing him . My good luck , love and wishes go with you . "

" I'll hurry , sweetheart . Be careful and wary around that freak . "

Erick kept busy and picked things to do that essential and useful , stumbling upon fascinating , secret lots of items buried under floor boards and behind false walls .

His cheery , proud of himself mood increased and heart boomed with added joyful speed at the sounds of an engine chugging and work boots thumping over the porch deck .

" An ambulance should arrive sh - "

Brodie's eyes widened when he looked over the black , unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt printed with white tropical flowers and green ferns , the cranberry hued slacks , brown snake skin pattern , pointed toe cowboy boots and white tank style top that the unconscious man was now dressed in .

" I found some old clothes packed away and thought he'd be warmer wearing them than remaining in the buff . " Rowan explained to his startled boyfriend .

" Considerate of you and a brilliant decision but was accessorizing truly necessary ? " the burly brunette inquired , meaning the camel color head wear specifically .

" You hate it ? " Erick asked , his lips dropping into an uncertain frown .

" No , it's great , however the Panama straw fedora may be overkill . "

" You're stubborn , yet terrific . A champion . " Rowan cheered for his beloved before cuddling him in a powerful embrace .

Brodie pushed his fingers through the rust hued bush of facial hair , cupped his sweetheart's chin and raised it to kiss him .

Both men saw it out of the corners of their eyes and coughed simultaneously which changed into tag team wheezing and other disturbed vocal reactions .

The stranger who they had bailed from the swamp water was leering at the couple .

" I can see what you do when the lights are off . Your sins cannot be hidden by the darkness . "

The shrill blare of the ambulance siren drew closer as the familiar vehicle traveled into the muddy gravel drive .

" Saved by the siren . " Brodie quipped .

The eerie trespasser was placed on and strapped to the gurney and his vital checked before being wheeled into the back of the ambulance .

" Is it possible that we'll run into him again ? " the sheep mask wearing man wondered .

" I hope not . " his lover exhaled , relief and a prayer tied into one breath .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" I don't get it . " Colby began , massaging in the sunscreen on his boyfriend's shoulders .

" Sure , you will . " Jimmy quipped and moaned joyfully . " Ahhhhhh , that's wonderful ! "

Since the reversible , sequined , black and white sarong Xio wore was a half size and as small as a mini skirt , his ' Tyler ' was grateful that the Jacobs ' backyard was surround by a wooden plank privacy fence .

" Okay , I'm nosy . You kept your female ' down under ' parts but did you have any surgery ? "

" Keyhole . "

" What's that ? ! "

" Top surgery for flat chested broads like myself that's typically minimally invasive and leaves small scars . Not that I mind the bigger ones . Scars are kinda cool . " Jimmy smirked .

" So you were born as and have always the anatomy of a female ? "

" Uhm hmmm . I am a real woman , a princess , a lady . " Jimmy boasted , in total Xio mode . " What did you think I got ? "

His Tyler glanced at the white trimmed , pale pink , U shaped jagged lines below each breast .

" Piercings that tore ? " Colby confessed after some hesitation .

" Was that a suggestion that I should get nipple rings ? ! "

" No ! Yes ... no - how about if you want to ? "

" Good answer . "

" Then who was the young boy in those photos your parents showed me ? " Colby reclined on his big beach towel , arms up and hands behind his head , on his back relaxing and staring at the sunny , beautiful sky above .

" One of my older male cousins . We sort of favor each other , especially in the face and he was one of my many inspirations when I decided to become more of a man , physically . "

" Then why would your parents tell me that that was you ? "

" To protect me until I was ready to explain to any partners I chose about who and what I am , inside and out . "

" Your superheroes . "

" The first two , yes and then you dropped into my life . " Jimmy beamed and launched from his towel onto his beloved , kissing his chest upon landing .

" Any plans for today ? Go and see a movie , stay here and continue tanning ... ? "

" Actually , just last week , I purchased two tickets - "

" Concert ? And I don't mean some stupid opera . Give me something with great lyrics and stellar vocals or - or a mosh pit ! "

" It's wrestling , actually . I thought it'd be fun to check out the freak show . "

" Wrestling ? ! You're insulting us both with that garbage perfect for the low I.Q. folk to drool over . " Colby scoffed .

" Awwww , please go with , sweetie ! We'll at minimum , get a laugh from watching . " Jimmy pleaded , successful in convincing his bestie and lover by chomping on the upcoming birthday boy's upper lip and yanking it carefully between his teeth .

" When is it ? " Xio's Tyler gave up to the flirt .

" At the old fairgrounds that nobody has cared about for an eternity . "

" What time ? Not where ! "

" Oh , lemme see ... starts at two this afternoon . "

" Two ? ! And it's past one already ! We're going to be way past late . " Colby bolted from lounging , plucking his towel off of the ground and shaking away the bits of lawn grass , soil crumbs and cat hairs .

" So we'll miss some goofball nonsense and fake crap . " Jimmy shrugged . " Run and tell your parents that we're heading out . "

" Yeah , I'll - wait , they're out for the afternoon . Doing you know what for my you also know what . I'll leave a note for them . "

" That reminds me , my dad and mom are getting you some serious grown up wheels so pretend to be surprised . "

" You have my word that I'll be over the moon . " Colby promised , crossing his heart .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Here , take these . " Jimmy said , tossing a pitifully small bag of peanut , raisin , sunflower seed and chocolate coated pretzel bites trail mix at Colby before handing him a big bottled water . " I got us a sugar and cream free , mega caffeinated black coffee to share . Medium size , so no hogging it , Tyyyyyyylerrrr . "

" Protein ? " Colby asked with a lift of hope causing his voice to crack momentarily .

" Yeah , this . " his boyfriend and girlfriend combined answered , tapping the clear plastic container that held a chili cheese dog that perhaps was suffering through depression .

Xio's Tyler hesitated . " Is it dead yet ? "

The eyeliner sporting young adult snorted and eye rolled with the magnificence that was made from genuine sarcasm . " We'll divide it and each get half . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Oooohhh , a hundred people here ! That's a huge crowd ! " Colby said sarcastically .

" Quit bitching , I paid for your liquid caffeine fix , doll . " Jimmy snapped back .

" Doll ? ! " Colby sputtered .

" Yeah , you're my favorite play toy . " Xio replied with a naughty grin .

The half blond jostled through the pitiful excuse for an audience , stood behind the barrier that may have been the lovechild of a chain link fence and a baby gate , popped another handful of trail mix and chased it with bottled water .

He was extremely thankful that Jimmy had bought coffee .

The gang of five seemingly flustered men darted around the outside of the ring , dragging and setting up a long table on slightly crooked metal legs .

After that , they placed a variety of weapons in several spots , light bulb tubes and Kendo sticks , folded metal chairs and nail studded wooden boards - a brawler's Easter egg hunt .

" What's happening ? Weapons ... ? " the almost nineteen year old asked his boyfriend .

Jimmy shrugged .

" I - guess we're gonna find out in a minute . "

The man standing inside the ' squared circle ' and holding a bicycle chain reminded Colby of a prehistoric being , definitely a caveman with a glistening shaved bald scalp and a height well over six feet tall .

He had squinting , beady brown eyes and smaller features that would be expected for a guy that had muscles on top of muscles and had he been in long tights instead of a singlet , his thick upper legs would've torn through the cloth .

The names of the opponents went unheard when an airplane soared above .

Once the rumbling quieted down and the plane passed over , the most headache causing noise came from the audience .

The two dozen or so women in the little crowd squealed and screamed when , unexpectedly , the alcohol swigging young adult dressed in a black tank , blue jeans with knees shredded to cobwebs and light brown Western style boots appeared in the crowd and trotted through it .

" I'm here , I'm here ! Hey , refill ? " Jon generously shared his can by pouring part of the beer into the clear plastic cup of a startled , amused and then happily grateful and beaming white haired , short older man seated directly beside him .

Colby chuckled as soon as he was able to make any sound .

His boy had changed .

For the better ? Colby approved of the visible weight loss , although the neon shrimp hued , somewhat mullet length mane rendered him speechless at first .

With the assistance of sling shotting full body off of the ropes , Jon launched into the larger man and after toppling him , started throwing hard punches at his opponent's face .

Thumbs and fingers stabbed cruelly into the smaller male's eyes , nostrils and mouth , stunning him just enough that he was promptly picked up from the mat by his long hair and aggressively flung over the top rope , crashing through the table in a blood drawing landing .

Once the table had split in two , the wrestling part of the match was erased and altered into an unmanageable , anything goes bloodbath .

The bald fighter draped the chain around his victim's smaller throat , then knotted it and dragged his opponent like a dog on a leash , thrashing and kicking .

Jon gagged , spat blood and collapsed , face down .

The crowd booed , cursed and some threw their empty plastic cups and paper bags .

Colby stomped his feet , horror struck and called out .

" You have this . Don't let him win . Stand up , get up , beat his ass and show him who the better man is ! "

" Maybe you oughta stop shouting in case he gets distracted . " Jimmy said , instantly seething , eyes narrowed and mouth pursed and pouty from jealous and possessive reflex .

" He's hurting and in trouble . If I could , I'd jump in there so fast and save him ... "

The more feminine male curled his upper lip back and glared , disgusted , at the happenings within the ' squared circle ' .

" You're finished ! " the giant with a shaved scalp growled , standing over his bruised foe .

" And you're next . " his rival chuckled , struggled to make it to his feet and punched straight up , his fist crashing into the other man's groin .

The fans clapped and hopped and shouted their thrilled and pleased words of encouragement .

Colby joined in , yelling his support right along with them .

The solo female in the crowd who didn't , was Xio .

The bloodiest male rolled under a bottom rope and from the ring , flipped up a section of the ring ' skirt ' and hunted beneath and with a bittersweet smile , produced a wooden baseball bat with its top thickly laden with barbed wire coils .

Jon slipped back beneath the ropes and took what might have been his gazillionth ( thought , quietly snickering ) gulp of beer , poured the slosh that remained over the weapon's head and with a flick from a pocketed lighter , had the menacing object ablaze .

He swung hard , colliding with his rival's crimson oozing features and dropped the now sizzling and smoking , brawny beast immediately .

" Zebra ? " Jon whistled and waved at the ref . " Little mathematics for us , would ya ? "

The wound up fans chanted and sang along with the count of three , then went haywire , applauding and celebrating the gory , brutal win .

" Im yeghbayry , duk' spanel ayn ! " the half blond congratulated at full volume , catching his first best friend off guard and unintentionally turning the bestie he had in his Michigan life into a third wheel .

The pink haired man noticed , blinked and rubbed his eyes as though he was hallucinating after the referee let go of his raised in victory arm .

Colby leaned into the ring barrier until it made a crease on his stomach skin and waved .

" And your winner ... MOXEY ! "

A handful of fans laughed .

" That's Mox - Lee , you idiot . Spelled with a Y at the end . " Jon corrected with a huff , hauling his blue and greenish brown bruised anatomy back through the crowd .

After he'd smiled and waved back at his ' long lost ' piece of Iowa .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" When are we leaving ? The ring was torn down almost an hour ago , the parking lot is emptying - "

" Minus a few vehicles . " Tyler stated , peering anxiously at the ready for the junkyard automobile that sat within his reach .

" Yeah , and one of them happens to be mine ! " Jimmy complained louder and lit another cigarette . " Look , it's growing later by the minute and if you've not noticed yet , I do not plan on being stuck in that . "

Colby glanced at the grey clouds clumped in the distance where his friend was pointing , along with the darker than normal blue sky .

" That'll take awhile to move this way . Calm down . I won't let you get caught in bad weather . Just ... let's wait and find out if any owns this car and then , I swear we'll go home . "

" Less than thirty minutes . " Jimmy tapped the face of his watch . " Then we're leaving , ugly car or not . "

It only took ten and the nearly nineteen year old's heart stung , froze , burned and thawed all at once , making him gasp .

He slip - slid from the Jeep hood and yelled , hopping on his toes and waving .

" Jon , fruit punch powdered drink went and shit in your hair , man ! "

The third man , with bruises visible on his upper arms that the sleeveless tee didn't cover and scabby , crusted red cuts on his face and neck , halted , stared , smirked and laughed out loud .

" Yeah and puberty didn't help a bit changing that whiny , nasally , squeaking helium voice of yours , Cheese ! "

Jon let go of the gym bag and backpack he carried and ran , stumbling into his bestie's welcoming arms .

" My voice is not squeaky and whiny ! Besides , you can talk , the one with a mullet . "

" It isn't a mullet ! I wanted to see how I'd look with long hair , Skinny . "

" Well , if I'm skinny , you're the Fat Ass . " Colby chuckled , flicking his friend's bangs . " And what's with the pink dye job ? Lost a bet ? "

" Nope times infinity but when have I ever needed a reason to do something ? "

" Yeah , that's you . Jump right in , head first and no fear . "

" Uhm hmmmm . "

" No brains either . "

" Hey ! Jerk ! "

Colby tapped playfully on Jon's forehead .

" Yep , completely hollow . Totally empty . "

" Your chain - smoking chauffeur looks pissed . " Jon peeked around Colby .

" He's not my driver , dummy , he's one of my best buds . Come on and I'll introduce you to Jimmy . "

" Holy Goddamn , how many Jay friends do you have ? ! "

" Unholy and God's not real but imaginary damn , thankyouverymuch and ... let's see , you and Joe and - huh , you're right , man . All my besties are J names . " the half blond chortled .

" Jimmy ! I want you to meet my - let me introduce you ... " the nearly nineteen year old stammered , striding towards to the Jeep .

" He was mine and I was his . " the electric purple leopard print purse carrying young man slouching behind the steering wheel hissed , ignoring his crush and glowering at his enemy . " Go back to where you came from , trash . Ahhh , fuck it ! I'll go . "

The passengers side door slammed , nearly breaking the bones in his outstretched , empty hand with the other grasping one of Jon's .

Colby blanched and lost his footing , knocking his scabby kneed and bandage sporting friend to the ground when he crashed into him after the Jeep sped from the patch of dirt and scraggly weeds parking lot .

" He left me ! He left me here ? ! "

The male with dyed pink hair ruffled his buddy's two - tone locks and patted his back .

" I'll take you home . "

" Would you ? The drive should take twenty minutes , tops . If I don't show for dinner , my parents will flip their lids . "

" Your parents ? ! Wait ... what ? ! "

" It's an amazing story that even I wouldn't believe if it wasn't absolutely true . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Hold on , man ! " Jon shouted gleefully and fearless over the wind daring to topple them as it had the smaller , weaker trees and the fury of rain drenching both men . " This is gonna be fuuuuuun ! "

" Fun ? ! " Colby yelped , fighting against the storm to stay standing upright . The old , peeling leather jacket held above their heads while they attempted to sprint in synchronization was no umbrella whatsoever .

They jogged , sloshing and slipping in the growing pools of sloppy mud to the trailer and its dripping front porch .

" Wait ! " the half blond yelled , realizing something important at the last second .

" What ? ! " Jon asked loudly while thunder shook the sky .

" We can't go inside ! We're soaked and my parents will be ticked if I walk into our home a swamp monster mess . "

" So where do we go ? "

" Follow me . I know a safe place . "

The two young men darted past Brodie's trailer , putting on astounded brakes and standing bug - eyed and jaws lowered , watching the scraggy bearded and intimidating older man smirking on his porch at the sizzling , hissing lightning flashes .

" RUN ! " he advised the youth , his eyes bulging larger than the damp duo's before retreating to indoor safety and the comfort of his shiny wet home .

" He's cool in a sinister way . " the scruffy , sloppy wet wrestler observed .

" Yeah , he's unique . Hurry up before we drown on our feet . " the birthday boy to be ordered , hauling his friend through the community garden , pinching him angrily when Jon paused to admire the flowers and shoved him through the opened trap door into the underground shelter .

Colby grumbled , flicked the closest light switch he could find by feeling in the dark .

" Well now , this is awesome . "

" Yeah , it's - stay put and don't drip on anything besides the floor if you can help it . I'll get back in a blink . " Colby trotted out of view and returned with a pile of towels and two neatly folded bath robes on the very top . " Here ya go , undress and dry off . "

" Strip ? ! " Jon bleated , his brows raising to the candy colored tips of his wet hair .

" Uhm hmmm . Get a move on ! "

" Heh , you missed me . " the soggy wrestler joked , wiggling as he removed the clinging clothing .

" Ah , fun - neeee . Be serious and do what I've said . We're both soaked , if you haven't noticed and ... shit ! "

" It's mud . " Jon commented dryly , observing the bottoms of his drenched , squishy sneakers .

" I'm going back out there . What the hell was I think - dammit ! That storm could be a severe , dangerous one and my family might be ... I'll go out and warn everybody and bring them here . "

" Relax , man . This isn't turning into a tornado by any means . It's more than likely one of those brief storms , a down burst that's over and done before you know it . " Jon replied .

" Popcorn . " Colby blurted .

" I'll skip it . No munchies for me this time . "

" I'm not offering you snacks ! Auuuuggghhh , why am I wasting time talking when I should be rescuing my parents ? ! " Colby smacked his own forehead hard , scowling at his stupidity and neglect . " I am a selfish , horrible coward . "

" What happens if the power goes out down here ? "

" The built in generators kick in . " Colby replied .

" And at the trailers ? " the pink haired male wondered .

" Everyone has portable generators for their mobile homes . Judy and Tom - they're Jimmy's mom and dad - personally purchase the best and most powerful ones for anyone who lives in the trailer park a year or longer . Less than that amount of time and they only get to rent them by the month . "

" So your mom and dad will have power and a way to check the weather radar ? " Jon asked .

" Yeah , but - " the half blond responded , chewing his lower lip .

" TV in this cave ? " the scarred young adult asked gently , knotting the robe's tie belt and tugging the long ends with his teeth .

" In most of the bedrooms and two big screens in the rec room . "

" I'll find one and see what's going on with the forecast . If it's bad , I'll have your back , running alongside you to help and if I'm right - which I probably am - then you pay me whatever I ask for . "

" Yeah , sure . Okay . " the worried young man hardly heard what his pink haired ' Mox ' had said as he paced back and forth , distraught , shaking and grinding his teeth .

Colby opened the trap door and swayed from the power of a blasting wind smashing into his upper body and droplets spattering him and the phone's screen while he tapped out a message .

* Hola , padres ! Stay safe & don't worry . I'm in the bomb shelter . Will be home asap . *

" You really ought to come in here and see this ! " Jon stated , grinning , he held his friend's hand and pulled him into the ' rec room ' , waving at the one of two big screen televisions that was on .

The half blond watched and smiled , breathing once more regularly at the sight of the televised weather radar , all green and no red . No warnings or watches were flashing on screen and the dark green color was not only lightening but moving away , to the east .

" The storm's fading ! It's weakened ! WAHOOOOOO ! " the nearly nineteen year old hollered .

" I toooooold you soooo . " Jon sang and laughed , hugging his friend . " And I too am glad that everyone will be all right . But you still owe me . "

" Bitch , what do you want ? " Colby sighed , pretending to collapse , feigning defeat .

" Hmmmm , I'll tell you when - where's your room ? "

" Go and find it , smartie no - pants while I mix my water logged attire with yours . "

" I can find it easy ! You'll see ... " Jon promised and took off .

Colby fought with his soggy laces , threw his sneakers aside and shed his drenched tee , jeans and underwear .

Bundling in the bathrobe and with a towel wobbling on top of his two - tone mane , he raced to the dryer , paused it and flung his clothing in with the other load .

Jon searched through one long maze of a hallway and into the next winding one .

He spotted brass , silver and flat black knobs , decorative doorknobs shaped like lion's heads , seashells , cowboy boots , peacocks with flowing tail feathers , swimming mermaids and curious owls . Many knobs looked like jewels , shining bright green , blue or purple and other door knobs were white porcelain painted with tiny pink flowers .

He stopped in his bare feet and wrinkled pink toe tracks with his friend right behind him and smiling , and gestured at the big , clear , skull shaped knob .

" Yours . " Jon stated , guessing correctly .

" Bingo , man ! You're a winner ! "

" Pffft , you're easy to figure out , most of the time . "

" Neat , huh ? " Colby inquired , hip bumping the door open .

In the center of the small room stood the black glitter vinyl upholstered double booth straight from a defunct diner . The other ' furniture ' , bar stools and a puffed beanbag also were black , the walls and curtains , white and the floor , fifties diner style black and white checkerboard squares .

Jon whistled in awe .

" Meet my best musical girl . " Colby grinned and flung his arms around one side of the Bubbler black jukebox sitting alone in one corner of the young adult's man cave .

" How'd you haul all of this heavy shit down here ? " his curious friend asked , looking at the push pin laden World Map and the distressed look Flag of Mexico tin sign hanging high up side by side , along with the biker and garage themed pin - up girl calendar on the wall above the diner booth seating .

" My power lifting and most of it was down here already . I just moved a bunch around . "

" Favored child ! " Jon chuckled .

" Yeah , I'm a spoiled brat and it's fun to be one . You should give it a go one day , Sin Sin Nasty . " Colby snickered , swatting his friend's cloth covered backside .

" First , pay up what you owe me , bet losing Cheese Man . "

" Yeah , well , now tell me what you want . "

" A kiss . " Jon answered , grinning slyly and dragging his backside against the booth vinyl to make the hilarious , disgusting balloon deflating farting sound .

" A kiss ? ! " Colby yelped , scooting into the diner double booth , landing between his buddy's black and blue spotted legs .

" Uhm hmm . "

" There you go . " the half blond stated after the hurried lip peck .

" Go ? ! That was no smooch , stupid . " his friend complained , frowning .

" Was too , Mox with a Y at the end . "

" Jerk . "

" Loser . "

" You haven't mentioned my abs yet . "

" Pffft ... there's nothing to talk about . " Colby scoffed . " A measly two doesn't qualify as - "

" I'll have more soon enough ! When they get fresh air , sunshine , clean water and a healthy diet of hard liquor and vaginal fluid , they grow . " Jon proclaimed , wide eyed .

" Stupid Sin - Sin - Nasty . " Colby chortled .

" Dummy and Skinny Eye Yuh Wahhh . " Jon shot back , beaming lovingly .

Their make out and fondling persisted , the kissing boisterous and effective .

Colby pulled his lower body into Jon's lap , playing with the unnaturally colored tresses he saw as asinine yet cute .

With certainty that the lightning was at a distance unable to harm them , he took both men's robe belts and tied Jon's ankles , one each , to the metal legs of two of the bar stools .

Colby then pushed them apart , along with his friend's legs .

" Man , what ? " Jon asked , woozy and elated .

" Since anyone in the trailer park could walk in on us any second , we've no time for total foreplay but we can still enjoy this . "

" Yep . "

Colby smiled at Jon's agreeable grin , straddled and sat on his lower back and offered a hand , fingers curled .

Jon mouthed them , sucking from dry to moisture .

Colby positioned his hand vertically , then rammed the dampened digits into the invitation of his buddy's rear end , flesh sinking to the knuckles and shocking Jon inside , electricity man made touching his prostate .

The adolescent duo moaned and had spasms as teamwork once Colby swapped his erection to replace the fingers and pumped away vigorously , grunting and panting .

" The ... whew ! ... End . " the half blond gasped and propped his chin up on his folded arms , the bottoms of his bare feet facing the ceiling as he rested .

" More ? " the pink haired man feebly demanded while he caught his breath and the car horn sound - alike blared and honked again and again .

" Not now ! " Colby beamed , lighthearted and kissed Jon . " That's the dryer telling us that our clothes are ready . "

He pulled out and untied his lover before the young men got a move on to clean their anatomy and gather their attire , redressing in a blink of time .

" I have a box of junk and decorations from a yard sale , if you want to rummage through and help yourself . "

" Usually people smoke after what we did ... " Jon began , zipping and buttoning his jeans . He had been crowned with a clinging dryer sheet , formally inside his warmed shirt front .

" Ahhh , it'll be fun ! There's a crap ton of posters - " his friend urged , playfully shoving him and pulling his tee into place , smoothing out the wrinkles and ripping off the tag so it wouldn't scratch the back of his neck .

" Posters too ? ! Whoa , you're living the life . "

" Told ya that I'm a spoiled brat and I like it . Oh , here they are . I won't use any , so go on and take ' em all . " Colby pushed the taped closed cardboard box forward .

The wrestler of the pair unrolled the ' Wine ! How Classy People Get Wasted ' poster , laughed , then smoothed out the wrinkles on the trio of snarling wolves artwork .

" Check it , you and me and Joe ... wherever the Hell he is . "

" Florida , maybe ? I dunno . I haven't heard from him since that day we went off in three different directions . "

" I haven't been in touch with him either but if I find out he's behind bars , I'll be the first to bust him out . "

" And I'll go with you . "

" Did you find your dad ? " Jon asked .

" Nah . I - I went through Illinois and chickened out , like a moron . "

" Don't beat yourself up . He might not have been there anyway . "

" Wanna try something ? I've got a killer idea . " the birthday boy of tomorrow offered .

" I hate to say pass but puh - ass . Thanks to you , I'll be sitting on a bag of ice . " Jon beamed and pretended to wince and squirm .

" Hey , when I deliver , I deliver . " Colby bragged in a sing song tone of voice . Anyway , whatever's on the next poster you grab , that's where you'll wind up . "

" Warning - No Trespassing - Area 51 - Restricted Area . " Jon read and looked apathetically at his best friend .

" Nah , you'd freak out the aliens . Next one . "

" Coffee - Do Stupid Things Faster And With More Energy . "

" Yoink ! " Colby blurted , snatching the print from Jon's hands . " Uh , this one's mine . Move on . "

The pink painted , dirtiest of dirty blonds and in the overhead light , the black and white cookie of split dyed manes collided gently when the two young men stared at the final unrolled artwork on fading paper .

" It's beautiful . And spectacular . "

" Perfect , you think ? ' Cause I like it a lot . " Jon smiled , more sure of himself and his feelings now .

" Yeah , that's your place . " Colby agreed , nodding at the Vegas Strip at night scenery , neon signs flashing in the darkness , hundreds of people strolling into the casinos , cars zooming along , the desert just barely seen in the glittering distance .

" You heard that ? "

" No and I'm hoping I don't smell it either . " the half blond grimaced , imitating holding his nose and Jon looked bug - eyed and faux innocent , snickering .

" It's quiet . The storm's moved off . "

" Well , it's about damn time ! "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Slowpoke . Move on . Get one . " Colby requested , pushing up through the trap door , standing tall yet damp and glancing down in the tunnel like foyer to call for Jon .

Confetti flew and dancing began in his heart the second he saw his family , rain gear clad and looking as relieved as he was , running towards him .

" We were concerned about you , dear boy . " Raul said from beneath the umbrella .

" Sorry , Dad . I made a mistake , not thinking straight and I won't do it ... Ooof ! - " the half blond grunted , the air knocked out of his body briefly once his mother gave him a combination of a bear hug and a football tackle .

" Are you okay ? ! You've been gone for hours ! " Sofia cried , hanging on to her son with a rib cage squeezing grip .

" I specifically told you not to worry ! " her child whined , struggling to wipe his mother's smudged lipstick prints from his crimsoning face . " Thank you , Mom . I look fabulous in pink , you know . "

" You are my baby , so I'll always worry . Have you eaten ? What did you have for lunch ? "

" Mooooooom , don't . "

" Tell me . "

" Well , we were in a rush so ... uhm , gas station snacks . " Colby said weakly .

" Estás rompiendo mi corazón . " Sofia sighed .

Her teenage ' terror ' of a son showed off his greatest basset hound big eyes , sad and sheepish , apologetic facial expression that always worked on Mom . Dad , not so much .

" I wuv you , Mommy . "

" My strange child ! Crazy , silly grown man ! Don't do it again , please , if you can help it . "

" What's the commotion and why does it sound like Telemundo out here - Oh ! I - whoa ... " Jon choked from behind his best friend and reddened deeply , the moisture on his face suddenly was more nervous sweating than the drizzling rain .

The half blond contemplated if kneeing his friend in the scrotum would snap him out of the daze brought on by ogling a curvy body , long , wavy dark brown hair that had a springy curl at the ends and eyes the shade of smoky quartz gemstones .

Regretting the lack of violence , he chose to break the ice with introductions instead .

" Me gustaría usted encontrar a mi amigo, el señor Good. "

" Bueno ? " Raul asked , casting suspicious looks at Jon .

" Yes , Dad . That's where I went this afternoon , to watch one of his matches . "

" You brought home a wrestler ? ! "

Colby blushed instantly .

" Uh , that'd be one way to put it ... "

" I hate to say anything insulting but he looks just like un vagabundo . " Sofia commented .

" Uhmmm , what did she call me ? " Jon wondered .

" She thinks that you're a hobo . " his best friend admitted and exhaled heavily .

" Really ? ! Well then , move aside , kid ' cause I'm getting on one knee and - "

" Falling on your fat ass , Bueno ? " Colby teased .

" Let's not stand any longer in the muck . I'd rather be in my house , warm , dry and safe with my family and wonderful food . " Raul invited the two young adults to squeeze beneath the umbrella as best as they could .

" Yes and both of you are coming with us ! I won't be truly happy until the three of you men have full stomachs . " Sofia commanded , taking charge merrily and popping open a second humongous umbrella .

Eight shoes slopped through the puddles while the rain subsided and the close friends foot - raced each other the entire way home .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Nobody has a problem with salads ? " Sofia asked , setting dishes of pea , asparagus , and fava bean salad , shaved radishes with fennel and parmesan and quinoa with peas , feta , bacon and almonds on the table .

Raul followed with the huge platter of roast chicken and garlic smashed potatoes and their adopted boy shook the apricot muffins and dark chocolate cherry muffins from their thin , crinkling paper wrappers in the pans .

" Not me ! " the off and on wrestler chirped , eyeing the dinner in second place to Sofia's chest and scooting his chair forward to close in on the meal .

" My wonderful lady appreciates the Spring weather , for it gives her the chance to take advantage of all the vegetables . " Raul said , reaching for a napkin .

" Lucky veggies . " Jon muttered , pink cheeked and flipping open the plastic top on a bottle of salad dressing .

Colby scowled and kicked at him under the table .

" Pardon ? " Raul perused the youth inquisitively .

" Nothing , Dad ! He's ... talking with his mouth full . Bad manners and nothing else . " his son apologized in a rush .

" So you have known our boy from years ago and the two of you went to school together ? " Sofia asked .

" Uh ... yes , ma'am . He helped me with my math and spelling . " Jon replied .

" Excluding the math , I may have wasted my time . He still spells - and pronounces - ' wolf ' as ' woof . ' " Colby commented , grinning .

" You mean it isn't ? ! " Jon yelped and Raul burst into hearty laughter , Sofia giggling beside her husband and snickering to complete the amused trio .

" Then we are the family of Woofs . " Raul stated , shaking from chortling .

Jon looked blankly at his plate .

" Lope means Wolf . " Colby enlightened his perplexed pal .

" And what did your friend teach you ? " Sofia inquired .

" Oh ! Well - " . He couldn't tell his parents about the days and nights of smoking , drinking , cutting classes once in awhile , joyriding , picking up chicks and after midnight driving around for the sole purpose of not being at home . Nor would he admit anything about learning that there was nothing wrong with one man kissing - and doing much more - with another guy , especially when they usually only had each other to fight the loneliness .

His parents waited and their child squirmed in his chair , a human made of flushed skin , discomfort , anticipation and buttermilk ranch over mixed greens .

" He taught me to not be too serious , have fun and enjoy life ' cause it's short . "

" How have things gone for you since your graduation ? " Raul asked the only pink haired young man that had ever dined at his table .

" Oh , tolerable . Exhausting a lot of days , however I prefer the freedom . "

" Making your parents proud ? " Sofia asked innocently .

Colby froze and his jaw tightened to agonizingly painful . It wasn't his parents but his fault for forgetting to advise them to not inquire about his teenage buddy's childhood .

" Truthfully , ma'am , they'd love it if I was still taking money on the street corners or already in a grave . " Jon stated bluntly .

Sofia dropped her napkin . Raul slammed his water glass on the table with enough force that the clear liquid sloshed as a drinkable tidal wave . Their grown son coughed and stabbed his fork by mistake into the tablecloth rather than his plate .

" My night to wash dishes . " he announced , recovering in a gulping , fish out of water , breath .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Colby inched into his slate gray and obsidian pinstripe sleeping bag while his Ohio bestie settled on the bed .

" No pissing in my bed ! Or any other stains either unless you feel like buying me a brand new mattress . "

" Please , I couldn't afford getting you a bed fit for a doll house . " Jon bounced lightly on the mattress and beamed . " Cool ! Firm for your spine with bonus marshmallow pillows to lay your sleepy head on . "

Colby had one come - and - go laugh before growing serious , feeling apologetic .

" Jimmy's been ridiculously opposite of his typical accepting self . He won't back down from the racist and homophobic bullies and he's a great guy so why he's throwing a fit about you , I can't comprehend . I've never yelled and had a childish tantrum over him having friends . "

" I ... think that I might have scared him . "

" Scared ? What ? ! "

" We're - although it's temporary - together again and my guess is he fears now you're with an friend from your past , he'll be forgotten . "

" I wouldn't forget him ! And he's gonna be my friend , one of my best , always - why would he believe ? ! ... "

" Because he's unmistakably in love with you . " Jon said matter of factly .

The upcoming birthday boy couldn't respond and the silence was shattered by his intrigued and somewhat horny friend .

" Your mother is tropical . "

" How so ? She's from California , not the South American rain forests . "

" Ooooh , a beach chick ! "

" And Dad was born in New York but moved and that's how they met . " Colby grinned . " At a farmer's market . In place of a pick - up line , he took fruit out of her shopping basket . "

" I'd love to ta - "

" Awh , man . Shut up ! "

" She's tropical . Very , very hot . " Jon sighed .

" Uhm hmmm . Her husband thinks so too . The man she married when they were in their mid twenties ... no , Dad was mid twenties , Mom is about two years younger . "

" That's nice . Rub salt in my wounds . "

" Your fault for saying nasty things about my mother . "

" I'm not nasty ! For your information , I show respect to any take charge lady who is built like there's a watermelon carried under the neckline of her dress . "

" Yurrrghhh ! "

" Alright , listen to me . You're living the ' There is no God ' life and that's okay but I'm telling you that you're blessed . You have parents that really love you and ... , even your real mom wasn't awful all the time because she cared . I meant what I said before about the street corner . My body working at night and my money that went right into my parents greedy claws so they could keep on chasin ' that dragon . "

" Oh Hell ! I'm sor - " Colby wasted no time . He climbed onto his bed and wrapped both arms around his crazy buddy , who instinctively withdrew and shoved him .

" I don't want sympathy ! " Jon snarled .

" This isn't pity , dammit , it's devotion . " his best friend from Iowa argued , holding him tighter yet gently .

The blue eyed , scarred physically and emotionally and more than likely mentally also , young man rolled and shifted position so that the duo could spoon , exhaling under his breath after the back of the neck kiss .

" Gracias . Is that ... ? "

" Yep , it is . "

" How - how do I say my friend , my brother ? "

" You can say Gracias , mi amigo or Gracias , mi hermano . "

" That's a lot of grah - see - yus . "

Colby chuckled .

" But ... thank you , brother . " Jon continued . gave a two thumbs up and dropped to the floor .

" Man ? " Colby wriggled halfway inside the cloth cocoon that was sleeping bag .

" Hmmm ... yeah ? " Jon replied , voice slightly muffled by the pillowcase he was face first embedded in .

" You're one of us , one of the Woofs too . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Colby turned in a half sleep , mumbling during fading dreams and his squinting , droopy eyelids popped wide open the moment he'd struggled to his feet and noticed the empty bed .

A trio of laughs ( one combined with a belch ) picked his broken heart up from his toes and got it to beat again .

The table wasn't set like it normally was . Rather his parents and their guest were sitting around casually , watching television , eating doughnuts and drinking coffee .

Spearmint toothpaste and a follow up of mouthwash clashed with the sugar glaze of the junk food pastries and the bitter , strong taste of black coffee on his not fully awakened taste buds .

" I'm going over for a few minutes to visit Jimmy . "

" Hurry back ! " Raul took a second doughnut .

" Yes , don't take too long . " Sofia insisted , stirring sugar into her styro cup .

He back handed the front door of the trans man's trailer connected with his parents , stomping across the floor tiles and sending yowling , perturbed cats with raised fur and puffed tails scattering .

Colby shook Jimmy by the front of his sheer lavender scoop neck blouse .

" What is your problem ? ! I'm not your property and there's nothing wrong with the fact that I have other friends besides you ! " he yelled at the only male girlfriend that he ever had .

" You ! You fucked him and ... and in the underground shelter which was our special place ! " Jimmy sneered .

Colby rummaged through his jeans pocket , seeking tissue that wasn't there to offer for Xio's trickling , smeared goth black eyeliner and mascara , straight out of the clearance bins at the local chain pharmacy store .

" Yeah but it's your fault my parents were beside themselves freaking out and worried because you told Brodie to keep quiet on my whereabouts ! " Colby growled .

" You shouldn't have screwed him ! " Jimmy spat back hatefully and fuming .

" You shouldn't have left me in a parking lot , nearly stranded ! "

" What does he mean to you anyway ? How much do you know about him ? "

" Well , we never called one another ' boyfriend ' , although I suppose we were . We've only known each other through high school , didn't grow up together or anything ... he travels from state to state , city to city and town to town and never moves in or stays very long in the same location . "

" Derelict . "

" Yeah . Drifter . " the half blond agreed .

" Why am I hardly surprised that's your kind of man . " Xio sneered haughtily .

" But not my kind of woman . "

" Your woman , yes . And your boyfriend too ... your desire . "

" Whoa - wh - what ? ! "

The half blond whimpered and shuddered when his offbeat and very pretty partner , eyes half closed , landed on all fours and slinking , crawled erotically up the half blond's body .

" I'm the man in charge , same as you . " Jimmy said , skimming his mouth over denim , then cotton .

" Yeah ... er - ! " Colby twitched from the sensation , static shock and instant electric sparks blended with the racing pulse in his penis .

" And not the lady you'd want to anger , screw over and mess with . " Xio nuzzled into sweating flesh and the cleavage of a workout chest . " You want this ? ! "

Xio's passionate , ' I always get my man ' attitude physically linked the adolescents , fingers to clit .

Colby skimmed his tongue behind Jimmy's top front teeth , sighing aloud while his dick was petted and massaged and squeezed softly .

" Hell yes , I do ! "

Xio rattled the handle at his crush's back and with one blur of his hand in motion , sent Colby and his nudity falling and landing in a bare ass heap onto the porch .

" Until you throw away the trash , I deprive you of my love ! "

The dumped adolescent tucked everything in , cheetah quick before the neighbors - and most worrisome and humiliating of all , his parents - noticed his genitals hanging out .

Jiggling the front door knob , he stood and pleaded .

" Ahhh , Xio , don't act this way ! We can reconcile and make it work . "

Jimmy peered from the slit of spread curtains before flinging them closed again to shade the front double windows .

" Get off of my property , wolf man ! "

Tingling from arousal and shaky on his feet , Colby stumbled when returning to his own yard and waved , startled by slouching Jon who was frowning on the front porch .

" What's wrong ? " he asked his sulking , blue eyed bestie while darting up the steps .

" They kicked me out . " the pouting , beer and smokes scented young man grumbled .

" Who did ? My parents ? ! They're the kindest people on the - what did you do to upset them ? ! " Colby glowered and dropped his backside with a heavy thump onto a chair .

" Upset ? ! It's me getting hurt from their romance ! " Jon responded bitterly .

" You're absurd . Ridiculous ! I'll go and see what's happening . You , don't budge . Stay right here and do not leave the porch . " the half blond warned the disgruntled young male .

Rather frog like , he used a step stool to hop straight up and similar to a monkey , he climbed up on the mobile home's roof , ran across and swung upside down on the other side , peeking into the back window of the kitchen , the curtains open enough that he could watch his parents inside .

They were facing away from him , pointing at and talking about ... something before smiling lovingly at one another .

The young man beamed also when Raul took his wife into his embrace and the older couple sweetly slow danced .

He chuckled . No wonder Jon was fuming with envy .

The nineteen year old swung to move closer to the window and jolted once his toes lost hold .

" Awwww fuuuuuuuuck ! " he yelled and plummeted , crash landing on a beach chaise lounger that promptly folded up on his upper body .

He cursed and groaned and struggled without there helping rescue him .

" My boy , you look like a plastic sandwich . " the half blond heard his father's laughter above before pulling the chair open .

" What are you doing out here ? ! " the woman cried behind her spouse .

" Oh , just - " Colby grinned and stretched out both legs . " Working on my tan , Mom . "

" You were spying ! " Sofia stated and obviously not amused , she swatted at her son . " And your clatter made the cake fall ! "

" You can go and buy one from the bakery . " Colby suggested , brushing dirt and pieces of grass from his tee and jeans .

" Store bought ? ! " Sofia repeated and recoiled in horrified disgust . " For a birthday cake , never ! "

Raul sighed . " Son , you know better than to use that language in front of your mother . "

" Sorreeeeeeeee . "

" You are supposed to stay away from here today and you already know why . " his mother scolded , turned and headed back inside , fussing under her breath about the cake catastrophe .

" It wouldn't be a bad idea if you went into town until later this afternoon . "

" Dad , there is no town anymore . It melted , haven't you heard ? " Colby teased .

" Take your humorous wit and your friend with you , please , young man . " his father cracked a grin .

" Hey , could I take him to On Par ? We can fix our lunch there and I promise I'll clean up after . " the half blond begged .

" You do have your keys ? " Raul asked .

" Yeah and I'll lock up too , you know that I will without fail . "

" That would give you something to pass time while we set up things here . Make sure if either of you consume - stronger beverages - or in your friend's case , more of them , that you'll be extra cautious driving back home . "

" I will , we will . I swear , I promise ! "

Because his father was watching , the nineteen year old picked the safer route sprinting across the side yard to get back on the front porch instead of the more athletic - and fun - choice of roof running .

He did scurry over the railings however before plopping down next to his ' old pal ' .

" How about a tour of my piece of Grand Rapids while my parents prepare for my big nineteen B - Day celebration ? "

" Fine . You go with your Dad and I'll stay back and keep Sofia company . " Jon suggested without any hesitation or guilt .

" Alright , lunkhead Lothario . Let's haul ass . " his exasperated friend grunted , hauling the pink and blond haired individual from his lawn by the scruff of his torn tee .

Colby slid into the passenger's side in the front of the small car that had seen better days after a dismayed and stunned glimpse into the hoarder load burying the backseat .

" Okay , my car , my rules . While Hank senior sings , the radio station does not get changed . Ever . " Jon warned the second his rear end touched the driver's seat material . " Keep in mind , that also goes for Willie , Waylon and Miss Dolly because enormous bazongas command respect . "

" I wasn't planning on - " Colby gasped when a bundle of wrinkled , stained clothes began shifting and a small , dark green alien leg stuck out . " Jon ? ! "

" Oh , he's active . I thought I'd plowed over and killed the poor little guy earlier . " Jon commented , quick checking the rear view mirror .

" You kept an animal in your car all day ? " the half blond shouted , glancing again at the crawling painted turtle .

" No . Only for a few hours so far . " his partner snarled .

" Okayyyyy , changing plans real fast . Scoot and switch . Now driving . We're taking him to the Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve . "

" Coolidge ? "

" No , college . " the half blond corrected .

" Are you ? " Jon asked , his face brightening and a big smile appeared like sunshine .

" Yeah , home courses . " Colby admitted .

" You'll ace it and graduate with no problems . Because you're super smart . "

" Thanks . I mean it . And after we relocate your shell - head buddy , then I'll take you to the family restaurant . " Colby swapped seats with his friend from ' back home ' and beaming , took the wheel .

He did not change the radio station .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Live well , little man . Send me a postcard , okay ? " Jon crouched at the muddy embankment and waved once the turtle slid into the water with a ripple producing plop , a broken tree branch floating nearby and a group of ducklings and their moody , watchful mother splashing in the distance .

" He - or she - will be fine here , safe and healthy , happy too , I'd bet . " Colby said and patted his friend's upper back .

" This won't come as news to you but I'm heading out tomorrow . "

" And there's no way for me to change your mind ? "

" What mind ? ! " Jon kidded . " Seriously - " the normally anything except sober young adult took a deep breath and jumped over a fallen log . " I would've left already had we not reunited and it wasn't your birthday . "

" You stayed , although you didn't want to , for me ? "

" Yeah . You're a ... nice reason for me to loiter . "

" Hey , thanks . Sooooo , where to next ? "

" Most any place that pays me for working temporary , a half week or less . "

" That's no way to live ! No home and sleeping in - your car is your house ! You can't make money or be happy , can you ? "

" To me , it's not about cash but keeping busy . When I'm busy and traveling , when I'm on the run - there , I said it ! - then I don't think . When I'm not thinking , I'm not remembering . And that makes me happy , not remembering my loving parents . " Jon hissed and dashed ahead .

Colby shuddered and darted behind him , catching up to his fast pace .

" Jon . " he pleaded , hating to whimper , though hoping his sadness might break the wall of defense and anger , pain and loneliness that rarely trusted anyone .

" No . " the sullen male huffed and then stopped short on the wooden bridge walking path . " Is that a chapel ? ! "

" Yes but if you don't make direct eye contact , it can't hurt you . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Is the decor fiesta themed ? " Jon wondered , bouncing wildly with flailing , hyperactive dance moves thrown in . " Tacos , burritos and enchilada - da - da - das ? "

" Nah , it's boring . You'll see what I mean in a sec . " Colby replied , picking through his key ring .

The brick walls were painted the same hue of white that the sheer curtains were . Everything else including furniture , floors and counter tops were dark brown and a map of the world was painted on the entire ceiling .

His high school days ' partner in crime ' gawked at the indoor plant life automatically , euphoric about foliage .

" You think that this ... " Mox with the dyed pink mane gestured merrily at the hanging baskets , the small pots in rows on shelves attached to the walls and the trees soaking in sunlight in the corners . " Is boring ? ! Spider plants and English Ivy , aloe vera and yucca ? ! This is what dreams are made of ! "

" There's more in the back , the private dining area . " the brunette of the two said and grinned , then covered his ears at first high pitched whoop .

" Lemon trees ! "

" Hey , dummy ! My mother always saves the best of the leftovers for me . I'll see what there is to work with and whip up a lunch for us . "

" You can cook ? ! " the cheerful , excited tone of voice floated to his ears .

" I've lost count of the number of women who've told me that I do it damn well . " Colby replied to wild laughter and he practically skipped out of happiness into the kitchen's prep area and rummaged through the fridge .

He blended a few drops of olive oil with the measured spoonful of peanut oil , chopped and diced broccoli , onion , carrots , red bell peppers , baby corn and added garlic , soy sauce and two already cooked , grilled chicken breast portions that he took a chef's knife to gleefully .

His scabby kneed friend reappeared in the smaller section of dining area , bearing an ear to ear triumphant grin and a heaping armload of freshly picked , sour yellow fruit spilling onto his biceps .

" Can I juice these and fix some lemonade ? "

" Sure thing . Rubber gloves are with the hair nets , ice machine is right there and there are canisters of sugar up here . " Colby pointed out various drawers , shelves and cabinets .

" Sweeeeeeeeeet ! " Jon cheered .

" Nah , only sour at first . Also don't throw away the drained fruit . My parents can reuse them ... somehow . "

" I'll put them in a storage container , I swear . "

" Indeed you do . Just remember if you make a mess , you'll clean it up . "

" Awwwwwuaghhh , I don't want to clean ! " Jon whined unsuccessfully .

Colby snickered and kissed him .

" Then don't make a mess . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Ah , no way ! " Colby said at first sight and tried ducking down in the passenger seat . " You've got to be kidding me . "

" Oh , that is priceless . " Jon declared as the auto drove slowly up the little ' street ' . He pointed at the multi colored streamers , dozens of black and white balloons and chortled loudest after reading the ' Some Things Get Better With Age And You're One Of Them ! ' banner strung across two massive trees .

Adults and older youth were standing around , talking or listening to music , sitting in folding chairs or at picnic tables and people watching or drinking cups of fruit punch , sodas or lemonade . The younger tweens and children ran around and played with bubble wands the size of butterfly nets , plastic noisemaker horns or light up yo - yos .

Colby perked up once he laid eyes on the glossy black , showroom new -

" A GT ? ! You get the hot Mom , birthday cake with ice cream and a frikking Mustang ? ! Unfair , I tells ya ! " the pink haired young adult bellowed .

" Your home on wheels Impala ain't bad . It has fascinating , story telling worthy damage on the silver - grey exterior and the interior stench is the true scent of inappropriate goings - on . " his high school bestie reminded him .

" Complimenting me and my ride won't stop me from being jealous . I am green . Like broccoli and frogs and ... uhm , other green stuff . You get a goddamn Mustang Geeee Teee ! " Jon pretended to sob , furiously yank out pink strands of his hair and slam his frustrated face straight into the steering wheel .

" Calm down , kid . You'll have ice cream and cake to eat if you follow me . " Colby laughed and patted his friend's upper back .

" Mi bebé ! Celebre con nosotros en este día especial. " Sofia greeted , nearly tackling her son to smooch him endlessly .

" Te amo , madre y padre . As much as I'm fond of the wheels that Tom and Judy bought for me , that doesn't mean I'm getting rid of the bicycle you two gave me . " the half blond said , thinking about his jet black touring bicycle with panniers attached .

" Gracias, querido hijo. " Raul answered happily .

" Come along . Hurry ! We'll eat before the food gets cold and then you can open all of your presents . " his mother urged , giving him a side hug .

Colby looked with apprehension at Jon filling a big bag at the rental popcorn machine and then across at Jimmy , who was loading his plate with supreme pizza slices , chocolate candy based trail mix and one soft pretzel slathered with yellow mustard and gooey neon orange nacho cheese sauce .

The butterflies in his stomach did some serious spiraling dives as it became more clear to him that those two would never get along , that they'd forever feud over who was the better man for him .

The Lopezes ' baby boy ' groaned , discouraged and made a bee line for the root beer slush drinks , funnel cake , corn dogs and plenty of pizza slices of his own .

He glanced up and lost his bacon , onion and mushroom piece to the lawn , jumping in his skin while the decaying , cracked plastic lamb mask floated far above his scalp , ominous and spookier than an old time dark ride .

" This is my close friend , Erick Rowan . When my grandfather sadly grew ill , he worked and helped out on the farm . " Brodie introduced with emphasis placed on a certain word .

The newly crowned nineteen year old sensed that he wasn't the only one caught off guard and that Jimmy felt the same way . ' Friend ' spoken in the tone of ' friend ' always meant one thing - boning .

But it was cool - in a scary , strange way - since Sheep Guy looked to be a suitable partner for the other burly male with an unkempt beard . They matched like two serial killers would as a loving couple , Colby speculated .

" This party is incredible ! I've never had this much fun before sober . Or without strippers involved . " the rough and tumble young man boasted , settling in beside his high school bestie .

" Did you spike the punch ? ! Any drink for that matter , ' cause there are young children here ! " his friend snapped , glowering instantly .

" When it comes to adult beverages , I offer and suggest . I do not force and deceive . That is not my alcohol way , full bar Namaste . " Jon said firmly , his eyes widened behind the ocean blue , star shaped novelty plastic sunglasses perched on his nose .

" I'm glad , you dummy . By the way , if you're lying , I won't be visiting you in the hospital after all of these parents get angry and beat your ass for getting their kids sloshed . " Colby stated , adjusting his plastic red fedora printed with black skulls and crossbones and silver - gray stars , his prize from the party favor grab bag .

He glanced at his once and perhaps now former lover , his exciting Jimmy / James / Jacqueline / Xio who was also sporting a party favor and costume accessory , a six foot long fluffy boa made from turkey feather dyed the Mardi Gras colors of gold , green and purple looped around his neck .

The smile he received in exchange for his was a reluctant and chilly one .

The crowd started with Happy Birthday and then sang Feliz Cumpleaños a ti , with his parents vocals the loudest and happiest , finishing with a less successful and unsure delivery of Tsnundd Shnorhavor , but didn't mind since he cared about and appreciated each and every resident in the trailer park .

Rowan brought out his Hardanger from its case and began fiddling away . Brodie stomped his work booted feet and clapped along to the display of his boyfriend's musical skill . Many of the adults paired up and started dancing .

This was a clear as day predicament for Colby .

If he danced with Jimmy , Jon might feel unwanted and left out . If he chose Mox , then Xio would have her feathers ruffled .

During the winding down portion of the revelry with many adults taking their yawning offspring home to tuck into bed , he became aware that he hadn't seen Tom or Judy either for quite awhile .

" Now for the grand finale ! " Raul whooped proudly .

" Ah , Dad , no . Everybody's done more than enough - "

" It's what you've been asking us for ! " Sofia admitted , too excited to keep a secret any longer .

" Dogs ? ! "

A minivan wobbled up the pathway and parked on cake frosting smudged lawn .

Jimmy's parents were holding long leashes and removing objects that Colby couldn't clearly see from the back .

His heart pounded .

The twin barks sounded more yappy and ear piercing than terror inducing and bad ass .

His heart fell .

Not the wish of a Doberman or perhaps a Rottweiler and German Shepard team but a pair of lap mutts .

Yorkies . Dark brown and black fluff wads with jet button eyes , panting and yipping in excitement and wagging their stub tails .

Kvetching was in the cards until he saw the pride and happiness shining in his parents eyes , on the lines of their hard working faces .

They'd given him so much , unselfishly and he would repay them by not being an ungrateful brat .

Could've been worse , he sighed . Could've been teacup poodles .

" They'll be my Perro and Shun . "

He sat cross legged on the lawn between his snoozing lap dogs and watched their chests rising as they had puppy dreams of chasing who knows what and yipping in their sleep .

" Enjoy , guys . " the now nineteen year old sighed and watched the end of his party collapse into tired confetti nothingness . " I'm dumping your fuzzy butts tomorrow . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" How are we doing ? " Raul asked , looking over the car engine and inspecting the tires .

" Fine on my side , Dad . " Colby replied , stacking clothes and laying the posters with them in the backseat .

" No problems here . " Jon answered , pulling his borrowed red wagon that his recently acquired potted aloe , spider plant and golden sword yucca were using as a limo .

" Great ! " Sofia chirped , in her element as she stuffed the cooler filled with several of her homemade travel treats , beef jerky , pesto pasta salad and oatmeal cookies with dried fruits , into the trunk .

" Yeah , both of you are . " Jon said , gazing at the excited woman's prominent chest .

Colby elbowed him without hesitation , frowning .

" OUCH ! What ? ! " the pink haired young man complained , rubbing his belly .

" You know what . Stop it . " the half blond warned .

" What was that ? " Sofia looked up .

" Nothing , Mom . Just be careful where you pack ' cause there was a turtle stowaway in the backseat once . " Colby commented , smiling .

Jon grinned thankfully at his friend .

" I think it is time . " the oldest man commented , took his son's friend's free hand and shook it heartily . " You are always part of the family now and we'll miss you . "

" Yes , indeed ! " Sofia agreed and fast hugged their son's eccentric pal before he could react like a pervert . " We'll never turn you away , our second son . "

Jon's face turned from light tan to blush pink to beet reddish purple and he wiped his eyes .

" Allergies , but not from pollen . " he fibbed before speaking the truth . " Thank you and for the rest of my life , I'll be grateful for all you've done for me ... the acceptance ... "

The married couple gave one another knowing looks , nodding .

" We'll give you boys time to say your goodbyes . " Raul said , offering an arm to his wife before they departed .

" You're a million percent welcome to stay until you can afford a place of - " the nineteen year old began .

" Nah , not my style or what I have planned . At this time , my ' settling down ' means the gas tank ran empty . " Jon replied .

" Oh ... well then ... "

" I was listening to your favorite stupid music this morning ... "

" Awww , poor baby . " Colby chuckled and fake grimaced .

" And I heard this song that reminded me of us together so I drove to the radio station and bought their extra CD copy . "

" An exclusive single for me ? ! You didn't , you shouldn't - "

" It'll keep us close , as a team when we're apart . " Jon beamed , shrugging .

" That's really - oh jeez ... you've been - hey , Death Cab ! " the half blond whooped .

" Yeah , like I told you . It's your stupid music . " the pink haired male laughed and proceeded to crank ' Soul meets Body ' .

Jon kicked back on the hood of his trashy Impala and Colby reclined on the roof .

Kinship , they defined it .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" I have to talk to you , if you'll listen . " the now nineteen year old said , finding a lawn chair without a feline curled up in and napping . He sat the pet carrier at his feet .

Jimmy raised both brows at the inanimate object , leaned forward in his seat , curious at the small meows he heard and then glared and looked away .

" Jon's gone . He left today to go out on the road again , so it's back to being you and me . " Colby explained , feeling hopeless suddenly and nervously rearranging his shoelaces .

The back of his former bestie's neck faced him .

" I went to the animal shelter thinking that I'd return those Yorkies but they won me over so I brought this girl home . If you want her , she's yours . And you can stay mad at me because I'm not asking to be forgiven . I just want you to cheer up . " the half blond said and opened the mesh top carrier , carefully lifting the feline out from inside .

" A girl ? " Jimmy asked , bringing the small kitten that had mostly black fur except for the white patches on its little muzzle , four tiny white paws and a long , thin white - tipped tail onto his lap .

" Yeah . " his partner watched the activity tentatively , keeping fingers crossed for a slight glimpse of mercy , trust , peace of mind .

The baby feline sniffed , licked and head butted , nuzzling its owners fingers and the raspberry polish painted nails .

At last , a smile broke through . Two of them . A team .

" I'll name her what I'm giving you , Tyler . She's a Second Chance . "

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

                        

White socks and black running shoes .

Jimmy flipped the curtain back into place and ran a lint roller over the posts of the Kitty Mansion Mini - Amazon large cat tree .

He glanced at his watch and peered out again .

Drawstring tumbling cute and bewitchingly below the elastic waistband of the gym shorts , bouncing as the young man jogged .

The young man dusted and wiped his bedroom furniture , the big mirror above his desk and the ceiling fan blades .

Third time charmed him when his boyfriend had peeled off the clinging tee and after inspecting the lawn for a clean spot , sat down .

The wild haired brunette smiled when Colby laughed at the two Yorkies playing tug - of - war ( with added growls and head shaking ) using the shirt he'd discarded on the grass .

" Hold that thought . " the FTM young adult told the nearest purring feline head - butting the back of his legs . He made sure his mani and pedi were without flaw , no chipping or smudges and hit the bathroom to gargle mint mouthwash once more before rolling on unisex friendly fragrance .

Jimmy felt selfishly pleased that his Tyler had stopped bleaching his shoulder length mane and now the blond patch had shrunken to the size of a small hand's palm .

He bounced down the porch steps and sprinted to his friend .

" Heeeeeyyy , Sexy ! Ready for Grand Haven yet ? " the ' crazy cat lady ' of the two men tackled his crush , hugged and lay down , stretching lazily beside him .

" Yeahhh ! " the nineteen year old shouted and both dogs looked at their pet human as though he was insane . " The car's packed and Dad and Mom cannot wait either . "

" Ahhh , tomorrow . " his older beloved sighed .

" Yep , tomorrow . Sand stuck to our toes like glue and avoiding sunburn daily . "

" The mutts are welcome too , of course . However , since the cottage we'll be bunking in is small and I'd rather not risk them running away , the cats stay here at home . "

" It's no problem to leave Perro and Shun here . Brodie said he'd care for them when I can't and they like going to his farm , running around and playing in the fields . "

" Nah , go ahead and bring them along . I like the goofy little hairballs and honestly , I might get my own dog one day . " Jimmy said , snickering as Shun licked his fingers , wary at first from the scent of those misshapen , snobby and having a bad attitude dogs that humans called ' cats ' .

" You ? A dog owner ? ! " Colby scoffed , shooing away Perro from sniffing his crotch .

" I said might ! "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

The trio of cottages stood in a row , barely bigger than average size storage buildings .

" There's ours . It's my favorite . " Jimmy said , pointing at the dwelling that was painted on the outside with a pastel seahorse mural .

" Because the males give birth . " Colby replied .

" Uhm hmmm . " the older man nodded . " And that one's my parents . "

The duo glanced at the tiny residence shining in bright crayon colors and painted palm tree artwork .

" Then my mom and dad will stay in that one decorated in anchors and ship wheels ? " Xio's ' Tyler ' asked .

" If they don't mind the gaudy , vivid hues . " Jimmy scrunched his facial features in disgusted annoyance while looking at the red , white and blue paint job , chipping and fading of the boards and wooden planks from years of being exposed to the sun and wind .

" I doubt it would bother them . " Colby shrugged .

" Well , the bad news is that the inside is also ridiculously ugly . And ours , unfortunately , is a million times worse . "

" Blinding ? "

" Yes and vomit inducing , so cover your eyes and don't barf on me , okay ? " Jimmy asked and led the way indoors with some regrets .

The interior of their living space was simply a small bedroom , closet of a bathroom and a close to cramped sitting area .

Colby eyed the card table and plastic deck chairs in unimpressed awe , internally approved of the octopus themed and reminiscent of camo greens , greys and browns of the bathroom . He kept at a repulsed distance from the bedroom's pink bowed , white lace curtained and old fashioned decor that only a Grandma could love .

Tourist shopping to the rescue and his parents ringing the doorbell made for an excellent tag team to save him from this dull so far day .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Sofia effortlessly convinced the three men to visit her absolute favorite shop , chock full of lovely decorative art for home and garden .

" Don't wait for me . " Jimmy said , rattling his empty bottle . " I'm going to get more water . Anyone want food , drink ? "

He motioned , turning towards the local , family owned hot dog stand .

" Thanks but no . " Colby replied , staring up at the cactus shaped wooden Welcome sign swinging overhead .

" A water , please ? Thank you , dear . " Sofia pulled a ten from her purse , beamed and held the money out .

" And we insist that you keep the change . I'm okay right now but we're glad that you asked us . " Raul answered and smiled at his son's flamboyant friend .

" On our vacation , you treat yourself . Pick out something that you like . " Sofia offered , beginning the extensive browsing .

" Find something desirable and take that beauty home with me ? Okay . " her son stepped around his father , who was chatting with the store's owner and focused on not some thing but some one .

Better than souvenirs and merch for tourists and sullenly unloading a collection of various scented pillar candles onto a wood table she'd just wiped extra clean .

Tall , buzz cut , lizard shaped silver ear cuff , hazel eyes , emerald green glitter nail polish , distressed and bleach splattered denim , second place chest , unfortunate lack of an ass but she'd do for now .

His very own Latina Tank Girl , with a grouchy expression on her oval shaped , pretty face and some excellent , chunky black ankle boots with attached dangling chains covering her small feet .

Well , maybe not his own yet ...

Half of a grin raised one corner of his mouth ( and another part lifted as well while he stared and leered ) while he sauntered closer to ogle .

" Working hard or hardly working ? "

Acting stern and aloof shrouded a few signs of attraction , she kept the twitching smile from her face although it was noticeable in her eyes .

Uninvited , he helped unload the entire box and place the assortment by color and name in rows .

Red cinnamon spiced apple , Meyer lemon , spruce green , ocean breeze blue and salted caramel toffee in a coffee bean hue of brown .

The young man beamed , then chuckled proudly .

" Check it out , doll . We made a rainbow . "

She peered down at the display .

" Not quite . No bastantes colores diferentes. "

" Hermoso a mí, el uno o el otro camino . "

His object of affection scowled harshly at him .

He placed one hand to cover both of her petite ones and rubbed .

She automatically glared .

He smirked in response , Xio's ' Prince Charming . '

" ¿ De este modo , usted no está ocupado ? "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

She'd cast aside his white and marine blue skull and crossbones printed tee ahead of locking the storage room door .

They didn't pause in kissing , even with their backs bumping the cold , white painted brick .

He managed to shift them towards the nearest usable seating and holding on while her legs remained curled around his waist . He successfully landed the woman's lower body with no damage done onto scaffolding type shelving bolted to the wall .

Standing on the closed , flip - top lid of a step stool - tool box combo , he climbed up to her without missing a mouth contact beat and cupped her backside beneath her thin underwear .

" Gimme a sec , doll . " Colby said , battling the headache and bother of putting on the layer of birth control . He swayed and tried not to fall , precariously hanging on by a single hand .

The punkish girl smiled , ceased the exploring full body massage and drew him closer , keeping both of her hands on his shoulders for safety .

His growling , grunts and panting and her whimpers , gasps and moaning couldn't be heard outside the storage area .

The ratting and tremor shaking of the metal hitting the brick , faintly into the ears of those in the store , could .

Shoe bottoms back to ' Earth ' and flat on the smooth floor , he tore off paper towels so they could wipe away stains and moisture .

She embraced him after cleaning her inner thighs and beamed , sighing happily into the space connecting his neck and shoulder .

" Thank you , Carmen . " he exhaled , also satisfied .

The young woman glared .

" Isabel ? " he tried again , wincing .

She shook a fist at him .

" Maria ? ! " the young man guessed in a perspiring panic and she jumped to smack his face , over and over .

" Mia ! Mia ! Mia ! "

" Well , Hell , I was close ! " Colby yelped , ducking and dodging the wrench , screwdriver and empty sample paint cans the enraged woman threw at him as he raced out the door , sweating a rainfall and breathing like a goldfish on dry land .

Fighting to stop shivering , he located his parents and with fingers figuratively crossed that neither of them or Jimmy would notice the marks on his body caused by six , perhaps seven out of ten rated back room sex .

His mother had purchased a Talavera sun and moon wall hanging . Raul toted a double handled jug to be used as a planter and Jimmy , who had money to burn , had dropped two fifties on a small concrete cat garden statue .

Colby gave in and grabbed something inexpensive yet worth bragging about , a beautiful and bad - ass Sugar Skull mask and trotted towards the front check out register .

The nineteen year old tripped , face planted and felt the chunky boot dent his rear end .

He raised his head , lifted his eyes and there stood Mia , his former lover gone total enemy sneering down at his fallen form .

" Traidor . Mentiroso . ¡ Guarra ! " the Ex Tank Girl hissed .

" Oh , give it a rest . You enjoyed it back there . Freakin ' banshee when you came . " Colby commented with a matter of fact grunt and Mia didn't hesitate to spit straight on his heated face before storming away .

" Tagnap drakhtum ? " Jimmy inquired dryly , retrieving the bagged purchase and holding it against his Cherry Jerry for President tank style top .

" Ayo tikin . " his humiliated , rejected and loathed boyfriend quipped in reply once his bestie had helped him from the carpeted floor .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Business meetings are the worst ! The only positive I get from them are the free gourmet dinners I have while deals are being made . " James snarled , wrenching off the knotted tie . " But then later , I'll realize that not even lobster and chocolate lava cake makes up for people staring at me , thinking there is something wrong with me . "

The younger man's innards folded and the digested liquid mash of green curry chicken he'd eaten rotated , his emotions sympathizing with his friend's angst , anger and humiliation from being misunderstood and frowned upon .

" There's nothing wrong with a man carrying a purse ! " the trans male fumed , falling onto his bed and glaring at the ceiling . " It's considered perfectly okay when women wear shorts and pants , jeans , skirts and dresses but God forbid that a man look and dress feminine . "

" That's one reason I don't waste my time on a so - called ' God ' " his boyfriend crawled up on the mattress to cuddle his bestie . Those that are supposed to be loving and accepting are the first that judge people without getting to know them . And you're more normal than they are , those jerks who treat you wrong . You're a man , the same as I am . "

" Mmmmm , you're just saying that - "

" Huhm , yeah , on second thought , we have obvious differences . "

Jimmy rolled over to face and smile at his Tyler .

He chuckled at Colby's grin and ' oh - so - innocent ' expression .

" You have a smaller ... nose . "

" Hey ! I love your larger than life proboscis ! I love you . "

" Feeling , mutual , my bestie . And I'll physically prove it if we aren't scheduled anywhere else for awhile . " the semi - blond added with a cheery wink and a promising lower belly hand rub .

" The show time is at ten on the dot . "

" Which means we don't have to be in hurry ... " Colby relaxed seductively against his partner's chest .

" Relaxation and taking it slow is great for our skin . " the older man purred , nuzzling his crush .

" Healthy . "

Colby smooched the back of his push the envelope friend's neck , down his spine to lower back and upper buttocks , also caressing .

Fingertips found and touched the skin divided , a line that parted flesh and moved one half of an inch inside .

" Stop it ! " Jimmy screeched and knocked his Tyler to the floor . " I don't do that , okay ? ! No anal , not ever ! Asses are for shitting , not romance and loving ! "

The nineteen year old touched his aching nose to check for blood and swelling , shook away the tiny gold stars circling his bumped head and cautiously crawled back to his lover , apologetic and astounded .

" But ... this doesn't make sense - you've been with gay and bi males . "

" Yeah , so ? ! " Jimmy huffed .

" Then , how do you - ? ! " the younger man wondered loudly , stunned enough that his jaw dropped .

" I wear non - latex surgical gloves to cover my fingers , those bright purple ones with powder inside and I'll use a toy they choose . I don't give or receive rimming , fingering and fisting . No penetration for me and I'm fine with it . Without it , I should say . Male , female , neither one or both , my arousal - no pun intended - comes from my partner's satisfaction . "

" Spring any more surprises on me , my equal and partner and I'll mistake today for my twentieth birthday so soon . "

" You're unhappy that I'm truthful and upfront with you , that I trust you ? ! " Jimmy snarled .

" I'm happy , very very happy and comfortable , content being with you . Everything about you couldn't be better . " Colby promised .

" So , what did you do that completely pissed off your bad to the bone girlfriend ? Call out the wrong name ? " the eyeliner wearing young adult wondered , partially serious .

" Uh , well , I didn't scream it or anything ... " Colby stammered , crimsoning .

" Tyler ! Dammit ! " Jimmy exclaimed and swatted the younger man .

" Well ! " Colby snapped , red face darkened to cranberry and violet . " I didn't do it on purpose . "

" Mannnnnn , if you try to pull that shit with me , you'll be in for a world of hurt . A universe . " Jimmy proclaimed .

" Don't I know it , teacher . " his promiscuous beloved responded and pulled the blankets up to cloak both of their bodies , throat to toes .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Yurgh , I can't stand these damn balloons ! " Colby griped , pulling and easing off the condom he had taken from the back pocket of his charcoal and silver dip dyed board shorts and literally trashing it .

" Yeah , we've responsibilities and work , both of us . " Jimmy replied , standing at the bathroom sink and shaking the little cylinder bottle cautiously so that the pill landed straight in his hand and not down the drain or crashing into crumbs onto the cool to the touch tile floor .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Colby hot - footed it , changing into an old and fading Metallica tee , black swim trunks printed with photo realistic drawings of navy blue and white striped coffee mugs and cheap plastic flip flops before meeting with his bestie outside .

" Whoa , packed crowd ! Although , I should have known - " Jimmy shied from the hundreds of people standing , gathered in the darkness .

" Hey , I expected it and I'm surprised too . " the lesser brunette replied , smiled and sensing the majority of the audience's focus would be on the fountain , he snatched his lover's hand . " You're safe here with me . "

" Mmmmmm , thanks . " the older man said , smiling tenderly and quickly squeezed their palms together lovingly , grateful and lightly perspiring .

They watched the musical fountain's ' dancing ' water display change from green to blue to purple , followed by sunset pink , orange and yellow and then red , a beautiful rainbow against the starlight and black sky .

Colby hummed along to the original Indiana Jones movie theme song playing before his afab boyfriend nudged him .

" Hmmm ? "

" I wanted to tell you about my plans for the rest of the Summer , probably longer and I'd like if you'd go with me ... "

" What's up your sleeve , hon ? "

Jimmy took a deep breath and his smile melted into a much more serious expression .

" I've decided that I'm going to become a wrestler . "

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

                         

" I can't talk you out of this ? Change your mind ? " the young man leaned forward , propped up by his elbows .

" You can't . "

Xio's Tyler sighed and petted Jimmy's knees clothed in moth eaten fishnets under frayed blues .

" If it's because of Jon , I already told you plenty of times that - "

His eccentric , cat owned beloved slid out of bed .

" I'm doing for us . And honestly , the blood was a flame to this moth . "

" The ... blood ? ! "

Jimmy opened the bathroom's window , lit a cigarette and looked out , cherishing the plum and pink bite marks on his chest and stomach , inner thighs and scruff of his neck .

" Yeah . I cannot explain it , how I felt when ... oh shit ! "

" Okay , are we listing all of the bodily wastes or - "

" My parents are home . "

" Ah fuck ! Where - have you seen my drawers ? " Colby yelped , scurrying from beneath the covers and wrapping his discarded shirt around his hips to cover the exposed nudity .

" Your underwear is near the ceiling . " Jimmy pointed above and grinned . " You have quite the pitching arm . "

" Mis padres han dicho el mismo . " his boyfriend replied , scaling the bookcase to retrieve his ' unmentionables ' , plucking them from the highest shelf .

" I agree and the swing of your bat ain't bad either , Tyler . " the most feminine of the couple toppled to one side , chortling until his face was damp and beet colored .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" So , what do you think ? " Colby wondered .

His parents looked over the stack of papers printed using the library's copier and full color brochures spread out on the table .

" Isn't this what you said is fake and stupid ? " his father broke the conversational ice .

" Yeah , but I might have changed my mind and Jimmy is going to try out , so - "

" She is a honorable person but Tom and Judy are not strict enough with her ... " Sofia paused and crimsoned . " I should have - were you told already or ... ? "

" Uh yeah , he - uhnm - informed me awhile back . "

His mother exhaled in relief and wiped her forehead quickly .

" So anyway , about the wrestling . I'm ready to give it a go but I'd like your opinions . "

" How much does it cost ? " Sofia inquired .

" Three ... thousand . " her son replied slowly , biting his bottom lip inside out . The price was one of many mountains to climb . " That's for an entire year and if you pay it all in the first month , it's only two thousand two hundred . Anybody who quits before then gets two thousand five hundred refunded . I consider the price a good deal because they train you in everything . Proper workout techniques , nutrition , weight training ... it isn't just wrestling . They teach martial arts , boxing , all kinds of neat indoor exercise and sports . "

" Three thousand ! We can't afford that ! "

" We can but not without struggling after . " Raul corrected .

" Actually , I was planning to pay . It'll be my full responsibility and I'll get a job . You won't have to lift a finger for me , I swear . Of course , that means I won't be at the restaurant helping as often or maybe not at all - "

" No , we won't give permission for you to play silly games instead of focusing on your education and a real career and future . " Sofia disagreed with a glare .

" Give permission ? ! You're dumping a load of shit on me ! I do everything you want me to ... it won't be long before I'll graduate from home schooling , I help around here and do chores now and then for the neighbors . I bus tables , cook and clean at your business , not mine . This time , I'll do something for me and no - damn - body is going to stop me ! " the young man bellowed .

" Do not raise your voice and use that foul language when speaking to your parents ! " the older man shouted in response .

" You are not my parents ! " Colby yelled , paused and slumped in the chair , mortified by his jackass attitude and outburst , shuddering to see his parents disappointed expressions .

" No , we are not . " Sofia looked at her husband and nodded sadly . " We are done here , I believe . "

" I didn't mean to - "

" We are definitely finished . " Raul agreed .

" No ! I'm sorry , okay ? I wasn't trying to hurt ... " the almost twenty year old pleaded , face already pale .

The couple exited the kitchen , deposited their plates into the dishwasher and closed their bedroom door , leaving him in silence , crushed , remorseful and looking down speechless at his salad fork and rumpled napkin .

He had everything good in the world at this moment , the almost perfect life and ruined things with his big mouth , screwing over his family and himself .

Colby staggered into his room , collapsed onto the bed and cocked his head to listen while he packed .

He shoved handfuls of tees and jeans , shorts and socks into a rolling suitcase .

Sniffling as his parents spoke behind their door and too quiet to tell what they were saying , he emptied the underwear drawer .

The young man stared into his closet , snatched a heavy coat and a light jacket , just in case before sitting again on the mattress and looking around at all of the posters and pages of pictures torn from magazines .

Uncertainty created a headache , splintered heart and mild nose bleed .

Four a.m. found his insomnia .

He swore to leave the room at dawn , hit the kitchen and start his long apology with a real sunrise breakfast .

Four thirty and his eyelids sunk .

Pink and orange , yellow and blazing gold brightening the sky as he drifted , dozed , faded away ...

It was eleven thirty , already lunch time at his family's business .

Eleven thirty . They had walked out him , abandoned and unwanted , a reward for the no - good backstabber he'd become .

He rushed in the shower , gulped down milk and a protein bar he had little genuine appetite for and hurried to work by bicycle instead of car as a show of apology .

Without greeting a soul , he bounded straight into catching up with life's adult responsibilities , pushing the two tiered rolling cart to one empty table after the next , clearing away the dirty dishes and offering water , tea , coffee and soda refills to the seated customers .

His tied back stub of a ponytail itched and the smile he wore was false , weakened each time he noticed his parents not noticing , speaking to or even looking his way .

They hated him now , he knew and his heart wanted to die .

Ten forty at night , beyond closing time and he continued mopping until his hands burned , his fingers were almost numb and his arms were in agony .

Raul tapped his shoulder and handed over a glass of water .

" Sit and rest for once . Pushing yourself too hard will make you faint . "

" And look at your hands ! " Sofia cried , layering bandage strips onto the blisters and cracked skin on his red , swollen palms .

" What I'm doing today is to make up for yesterday . "

" Yes , about that - "

" I've been a childish , whining , demanding pain in the butt to you both . Never again . " Colby stated , making the ' cross my heart ' gesture across his shirt front .

" We've been discussing selling back our sixty percent ownership of On Par and give you the money you need . " Sofia confessed .

" Don't you dare ! I couldn't stand it if you throw away your lives and dreams to pay for the cost of my ... juegos tontos . " her son replied , saying the last two words slyly .

" You're a grown man now and should live your life the way you'd prefer . " Raul added .

" Yes but , heyyyyyy , does that mean I can have a dozen girlfriends ? "

" You do not already ? " Sofia beamed , teasing jovially and instantly naughty .

" I stopped counting after the twenty . " Raul said , also finding fun in embarrassing his child .

Colby's face turned a deeper red than his aching hands , the humilation fading between his Mom's continous gifts of squishy gummy bear like hugs .

" We'll never understand why you'd want to do this . And please don't get injured ! "

" If I can prevent it , I won't . "

" But we do support whatever you get involved in , including the crazy things . " Raul commented , matter of factly .

" Just not the super crazy . "

" No matter how much time goes by , I'll repay both of you . If I stay the same as I am now or become a big star , you'll be repaid for everything that you've done for me . "

" We still think that it's dumb , what you'll be doing . " Sofia sighed and her spouse mumbled a sound of approval .

" That's because it is . " their son whispered the reply .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

The former half blond parked next to the brick building , formerly a shoe store and glanced at his lover .

" Ready ? "

" Yeah . " his male girlfriend replied , sounding as unsure and jittery as Colby felt right then , sweating bullets .

They ran into each other , coming to a stop abruptly and observed the frenzy of exercises taking place .

Direct center on the floor sat the ring set - up with women and men gathered around it . The ones inside ran the ropes while those talking next to the apron watched .

Females and males both were lifting weights , leaping over hurdles , running laps and smacking workout bags strung on thick chains from the ceiling .

Adults stayed by the sides of their indoor playground equipment climbing , karate kicking children and several people rested on benches , towels around their shoulders to soak up human sweat .

" So , who are we supposed to - "

" I'll ask . "

The Iowan jogged to one man at ringside , who appeared to be in his early thirties .

He waved what he considered to be a ' permission slip ' with his parents signatures scribbled onto the paper , at the stranger .

" We're supposed to meet with - uhnm ... I'm not sure . "

The older man peered at the paper , then nodded .

" My latest students . " he smiled . " Come on and sit down . Now that my class is all here , we'll start and introduce ourselves . "

Colby glanced around the room . Wearing jeans and a plain tee had helped him to fit in with the small group of similarly dressed men who also aspired to become famous .

Jimmy , however , stood out .

It wasn't the suit jacket , buttoned white shirt or pointed toe boots that were receiving the stares and comments but the studded dog collar with attached chain leash and pastel candy necklace he sported was evidence of hardcore , DGAF envelope pushing .

The head trainer , Danny understood because he'd seen this before and unruffled , he motioned to another trainer speaking to a small gathering of twenty - somethings , pierced and inked , accesorized with body glitter and bondage jewelry , rainbow hair colors and platform goth boots .

" You can go with Truth . "

" Truth ? ! " Jimmy parroted , arching his eyebrows .

" Truth Martini . " Danny said calmly .

" Maybe he has a twin cousin named Honesty Mixed Drink . Or Lying Tap Water . " the nineteen year old muttered and his oddball beloved snorted out a swift laugh from the nostrils before elbowing him .

" He doesn't mind the carnival and freak show atmosphere and lifestyle of the business , he welcomes it as family . You'll fit in as his kid brother . "

Jimmy , splendid as Xio , looked the long haired , black headband and cherry red suit clad older man up and down , not with desire but the beginnings of respect .

" Yeah , I just might . " he replied , literally spinning and skipping away .

Danny stared briefly , then turned to his poker faced student .

" Don't take this as an insult , but your brother is ... unique . "

" Thank you . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

His parents greeted him the second he'd entered the trailer , Raul smiling faintly and looking troubled , Sofia hyper and close to bowling over their son with her excited bear hug .

Colby glanced at the silver and white paisley print , gift wrapped and curly blue ribboned package his mother pointed at happily .

" Open it ! Your special surprise for our important boy ! "

" Maaaaaahhhmmm , I'm closing in on twenty . I'm not a toddler anymore ! " he objected , ripping through the sticky clear tape .

His eyes narrowed and he ground his teeth , seeing that off to side , his father was very embarrassed .

And he wasn't the only one .

" I ... ah ? ! " Colby frowned and held the leotard up to his Mom's broad grin .

Form fitting . Skin tight . Goddamn spandex leotard . Light blue , white and peach hued .

Mutha truckin ' peach . If he ever believed in the Lord , he'd be praying by then .

He couldn't wear it in public .

He could not wear it anywhere .

How he looked hadn't bothered him before . He'd never received complaints from women about his size - or lack thereof - since he had staying power , something most of the ' bigger men ' completely lacked .

" I picked it out myself . Right for my favorite gymnast . "

" It's ... nice . Thank you . " Colby tried standing so that his disgusted expression was out of Sofia's sight .

Being a Mom , with eyes in the back of her head and whatnot , she noticed anyway .

" What is that face ? You don't like it ? ! He doesn't like it . " she looked at her husband and frowned , shaking her head and muttering .

Raul gave a feeble smile , the average reassurance and support for his wife , wimpy compared to the norm .

" I'm just - surprised - , that's all . " their boy said quickly , before a real family fued broke out that would've put the game show to shame .

" So you have no problem with wearing it ? "

" Not one bit . In fact , I'll be proud to and envied by the other guys who will wish that they have the best Mom ever . " Colby grinned , cheerfully wicked to turn the tables and nearly knock down Sofia with his giant hug , lots of tickling kisses included .

" ¡ Deje de cosquillear mí , muchacho tonto ! "

" But they aren't taking mine ! "

Raul paused , patted his boy's shoulders after Sofia had left them to wash her smooch moistened face .

" I hid something in your gym bag that I think you'll enjoy later . But remember , wait and have it after work . "

" Thanks , Dad . "

After waving at Dan , Truth and the rest of the ' gang ' , Colby entered the men's locker room area and changed from the tolerable tee and loose fitting jeans into the loathed leotard .

" Hey , Tyler ! You look - " Jimmy snickered at first , then let his gaze wander , admiring the scenery that was his lover in clinging attire . He smiled devilishly and helpful , pulling drawstring waist black gym shorts from his bundle of clothing . " Like you may need these . "

" Saving my ass again , . Thanks , man . "

" I love looking out for your cute butt . Staring at it , fondling it ... "

" Goof ! Goofgoofgoof . " the ex - half blond cracked a smile .

" Lemme go and change . What I'll be wearing ... you'll see ! "

The person who'd went into the small closet size , curtained and sectioned off seperate dressing room was Jimmy .

Who'd came out - so to speak - was James .

Black and white striped shirt and black pants wearing , typically tousled black hair now wet down and combed back slick , referee James .

" Whoa ! You look - uhm ... " Colby coughed a startled hiccup and backed away .

His lover glowered .

" What the Hell , Tyler ! You're flaccid ! "

" Jeez , I'm not going to sprout hard wood in front of the guys ! "

" You're not attracted to me when I look like the ordinary boy next door . How could you tear out my heart ? ! "

" Be quiet before the guys hear you ! "

" You ... bastard ! " Xio spat , sounding disturbingly just like Nathan Lane at his most high pitched .

" Oh , come on ! Don't act like this now ... yeesh . " Colby pouted , grunted and complained to no avail which had him stomping in Danny's direction .

At least running the obstacle course would take his mind off of - he hoped - the petty arguement , ridiculous ' lover's quarrel ' .

" Try to break a record - and not any bones - , okay ? " his coach joked and blew the whistle .

Box jumps first , feet up , legs up , one - two - three - four !

Colby dropped onto his belly and crawled on all fours through the long hard plastic tube of a tunnel .

After taking a deep breath , he skittered up the cargo net , clutching the woven rope while he climbed .

Ugh ! and up on the monkey bars , fingers already stinging as he swung from one metal bar to the next .

He only stumbled a second , stepping carefully across the balance beam , snail's pacing and hoped that his trainer would overlook the brief slip - up .

Like Tarzan , he easily conquered the rope swing , laughing the entire time with a head rush from pride .

Finally - Ooof ! - the sandbag carry , as usual jabbed pinpricks of discomfort into his back which he tried ignoring , only falling on his backside once he'd crossed the finish line .

Danny was beaming with two thumbs up encouragement , causing his panting student's heart to touch the sun .

" I want you to keep on with this . Tell your family today you've found your calling . "

Who would've thought that pain could feel good ?

It did when it was born from a jaw cracking grin of satisfaction , the young man realized blissfully , sprinting to the back of the gym .

There were two small cork boards hanging on the far wall , one for people advertising wanting to buy this or sell that .

Colby pinned several little printed cards for his family's restaurant next to an ad on neon paper from a garage band and eyed the board beside him .

That one showcased something far more important , the weekly list of all of the athletes and their ranking from lowest number to the one at the top .

" Where are we ? Where are we ? ! " Jimmy peered beside him , back to ' abnormal ' and seemingly in a forgetful , forgiving mood .

" I dunno yet . Check if you see our names . "

" There ! And we moved from the middle section up to - wahoo ! You're six and I'm seven ! " Jimmy cheered , ecstatic .

" Check the team column too . "

" We're at ... we are - "

" Second place . " Colby groaned , shaking his head .

" Second place is okay . "

" Yeah , well , who stole our first place spot ? "

" Us , who do you think ? ! . " One familar voice scoffed behind the duo .

" And it wasn't stolen , we earned it . " the second stated , over their competition's shoulders .

The hair on the back of Colby's neck rose and his muscles shook .

He could make eye contact conversation with Alex Shelley and not feel the head rush or his body melt into a weak - kneed bundle of nerves .

Chris Sabin was a different , masculine subject altogether .

With him , there was never a safe place to look . The Iowan had to avoid acknowledging that the golden brown hair , the shape of the face and mouth reminded him of another man he loved , lest his Xio develop murderous feelings for him instead of hero worship and crushing love .

" Next week , we'll earn it double when you two lose the match against us . " Shelley swore .

" Nah , it's the two of you that'll be knocked down to second place . Maybe lower . " Jimmy shot back .

" You still won't be first . " Sabin chimed in .

" Oh yeah ? ! " the ' crazy cat lady ' of the four men growled .

" Yeah ! " both ' Machine Guns ' snapped and their eyeliner sporting opponent hissed at the males .

The not yet twenty year old sighed and dragged his bed partner from the building and to the parking lot before fists began flying .

Colby rummaged through his backpack , yanked out the insulated travel water bottle and took a swig .

" Alriiiiight , it's The Wizard ! "

" Short's Brewing Company Wizard ? ! " Jimmy grabbed , greedy and thirsty .

" Yep ! Here , don't hog it all either , save some for me . " his boyfriend said and passed the beverage container .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" You've got phenomenal hair . " Jimmy complimented Shelley , smiling at the shaved dark brown sides and at one time a little , bleached to yellow - white faux hawk that had lengthened into a patch that fell and drifted over the man's eyes .

" Thanks . So's yours . " Alex nodded to the magenta ' skunk stripe ' area partway taking over Xio's tobacco scented , rat's nest of a mane .

The bell sounded and the exhibition match with an audience of students and trainers exclusively , began .

Jimmy was over the moon and hopping around like Tigger on energy drinks but his boyfriend stood motionless , rooted in place and gawking at Chris .

" Helloooo ? Dammit , Tyler ! " the bizarre young adult waved his hands in front of his lover's unblinking eyes . " Snap out of it ! "

The Guns saw the one sided advantage and took it , Alex super - kicking his afab opponent and sending him sailing to the floor and immediately after , Chris toppled his shocked speechless adversary with an enormous drop kick .

The crowd cheered along with the dominant team who gave one another high - fives and upper arm slaps .

" Shall we , incredible BFF supreme ? " Colby asked , crawling onto the steel steps .

" We shall , cinnamon and habanero . " Jimmy agreed , climbing back into the ring .

" Cinnamon and habanero ? ! "

" You're my catnip , ' wrassler ' man . "

They charged the Guns , tackling and sending both sprawling , crash landing out of the ring to make things even , which presented the foursome with an unfortunate , unwanted count - out .

" Hey , that was kick ass ! " Shelley exclaimed . " Finally we have competition . "

Sabin managed to tell his arms apart from his legs as Alex helped him out of the awkward , flipped upside down position .

" Now that I'm upright once more , I agree with ya , bestie brother . "

" You're something else . " Colby said , a bit dizzy but jubilant .

" No doubt , you gave us a run for our money . Serious bad asses . " Jimmy stated .

" Except that we're - " Alex began .

" One hell of a more talented band . " Chris concluded , snickering and his best friend and possible frenemies accompanied him .

The nineteen year old peeled off his socks and rolled them inside out to conceal the yellow sweat stains .

Jimmy made sure no one was looking , mindful of his packer before stripping out of the red , black and white diagonal stripe tights and tugging his jeans back into place .

The Guns lounged with backpacks and duffel bags at their feet , waiting at the exit doors .

" Hey . " Colby said , weaving around the guys and making a beeline to his car .

" Next time , we'll win . " Shelley promised and Sabin nodded beside him , hands stuffed into both pockets of his faded , torn grey jeans .

" Yeah , we will . " their challengers spoke in unison , agreeing with a hearty laugh .

 

 

 

             

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

               

 

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

The rust red - orange hue in the center of a green edged leaf matched the color of the poet's beard .

"Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence . Summer passes and one remembers one's exuberance . "

Erick recited , his wide neck craned back to gaze up at the claw - like , thin branches . Perro and Shun raised their furry heads and observed the giant man while he spoke .

" Autumn passes and one remembers one's reverence . Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance . " the brawny redhead finished . The Yorkie duo went back to sniffing the grass , curious at the nosy level .

" Beautiful . " Brodie complimented his man while people - watching the bicycle riding and hand holding couples , children eating ice cream and flying kites , other dogs jogging on leash or off and rolling around on their backs to scratch an itch . " You could be on stage one day . "

Rowan blushed to a pale pink in spots on his cheeks .

" Guys , get back over here ! " Colby called to his pets , patting the unrolled blue checkered blanket he and his unusual friends shared for their picnic in the park .

The dogs continued exploring with their nostrils , totally ignoring their owner .

The nineteen year old sighed .

" Now I know what being a parent is like . "

Jimmy chuckled .

" Dogs will be dogs , right ? "

" Irritating and unfortunately , yeah . " his boyfriend replied grumpily and was immediately tickled with the ends of the oddly dressed man's scarf until he cackled .

" Laughter . Synonyms - hilarity , cachinnation , peal and ... " Erick paused , nose wrinkled at the foul odor .

Perro and Shun had discovered uneaten items discarded and spilled from the trash can .

" Yuck . " he said .

" Hey ! What is - put that down ! " Colby jumped up and ran to his mischievous canines .

" Back into ' Solitary ' you go . " he proclaimed , setting the dogs one at a time into the folding portable plastic kennel . " You know the rules , disobey and you pay . So says my parents and it counts for both of you pests as well . "

The dogs whined , watching their owner clean his fur speckled hands with sanitizer and crumpled napkins .

" Antonyms - unhappiness and despair . " the redhead stated from behind his recent creation made out of soft rubber , hard plastic , knotted wires and bits of welded metal , a split faced and eerie sheep mask .

Colby unpacked the reusable cloth shopping bag first , spilling plastic eating untensils , a big roll of paper towels and several travel size bottles of hand sanitizer out onto the blanket before spreading out their lunch .

He divided up the sandwiches next , tomatoes , onions , turkey bacon and grilled chicken wrapped in lettuce , then apples and grapes for the fruit snack .

Finally , celery and carrot sticks counted as the vegetable snack serving with tiny cups of almond butter and cashew butter on the side with the beverage of choice , bottled water .

" All of his fancy words and Row hasn't mentioned to y'all yet about what I'm having my Florida acreage turned into ? " Brodie inquired , out of the blue and after chomping into a sandwich .

" Ooohhh , no , what ? " Jimmy looked over expectantly .

So did his partner , wiping cashew butter from the tip of his nose .

" The Huber Nature Preserve for Swamp Conservation and Children's Education . " the scary sheep boasted . " Doesn't it sound beautiful ? "

" It's music when you say it , my sweet . " his boyfriend answered , smiling gently as a group of elderly men and women played croquet and badminton in the distance .

" Awesome ! "

" Yeah , congrats , man ! "

" We've been celebrating too . " the trans man bragged and held up all four fingers on one hand . " An entire month of being the number one , top of the list tag team . "

" Although , I practically live at number six . " Colby griped petulantly . " Singles column . "

" And me at seven . " Jimmy said , suddenly crestfallen and lost in thought . " Solo list . "

" However ... good news is , if not next year then I guarantee in the year after , I'll have my degree in sports psychology for peak performance and anatomical kinesiology " the almost twenty year old gloated .

" Kinesiology . " Rowan said . " K -I - N- E - S ... "

" Ssssssshhh , hon ! I - well , I'd like to hear what he has to say . I'm interested . " Harper replied , smiling in good spirits at his incredibly intelligent boyfriend .

" It means that he can get a moaning woman to leave a mess on his chin while I'm struggling with the bra removal on mine ! " Jimmy answered , speaking in a dejected tone of voice and mimicked weeping .

Erick leaned in and pantomimed handing him a tissue .

Colby glanced at the bad acting and chortled .

" Men . " he commented .

" Yeah , I know . " Brodie replied agreeably , laughing gently .

" Deviant ! Have some more food already . My Sofia - Mom would say you should eat enough to gain a few added pounds . "

" Yeah , really ? And what does her son think about how my body looks ? " Jimmy inquired , devilishly .

Colby inched nearer to forehead bump his boyfriend .

" Not in public . "

" Affectionate display ! " Rowan mocked a gasp and swoon , dropping his big hands into the pen and trying to cover the Yorkies ' eyes while his scraggly bearded lover cracked up laughing .

" Hey , lovebirds , I'm enjoying the banter and we thank you for the free meal but it's time to head back to the farm . I have my doubts that those sheep have learned to care for themselves . " Brodie said , wiping tears from his eyes and shaking his head .

" They'll complain if we're late with their dinner . " his spooky boyfriend added , rubbing both dogs ' bellies until they squirmed in delight .

" It is getting late and these mutts ought to be put up for the night . "

" Yeah , and we have some housework left from earlier . "

" So do we , except ours should be called barn work . " Brodie said .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" We need a team name . A real one . " Colby suggested , dramatically struggling in his best friend's grip .

His figure was snug in the new ring attire now that Mom had caught on about his rejection of the asinine leotard and bought him a sleeveless tee and running tights for a substitute .

" What , ' Reigning Cats and Dogs ' isn't inspiring for you anymore ? " Jimmy wondered .

" Considering we thought of it after sampling Rusty Nails , Orange margaritas and Hunter's cocktails , I'd say maybe not . "

" Sips . We had sips . And on a full stomach too , Mister ' Try some of this goulash , it's terrific ! ' Don't play like we're slobbering drunks . "

" That's what I said , sampled . " the nineteen year old agreed and arched his brows . " I happen to be an adventurous eater . "

" Ah , so that's why my labia feels like it's doing handstands for most of the month . "

" Okay , what are you doing , man ? ! " Colby grunted , wriggling in the boring resthold .

" Getting head . Can't you tell ? " Jimmy teased .

" Ha ha . See , that's just it . We can't depend on using the same team name for our entire career and you sir , madam , should get some more moves . "

" Like what ? Like ... this ? ! "

Jimmy released his boyfriend from the headlock , kicked him in the back and watched him land face first on the canvas .

He then tossed his hair prettily and ran the ropes before moving in for a second strike , aimed for the jaw .

His bestie evaded the boot to his face but the third kick , like the first , toppled him .

" There you go ! Except ... wait - "

" What now ? ! "

" You gave me time to get to my feet . You can't do that , man ! " Colby pointed out .

" If I didn't let you stand , how else could I have made you fall ? " Jimmy snapped back .

" Woah , score a point for your side . "

" Told you so . "

The trans male blocked and dodged jabs and blows slung by flying feet and fists .

He smashed into his friend , full bodied and caused them to be unsteady on their booted feet .

On all fours , Jimmy dragged his upper torso into a position that brushed against his boyfriend's chest .

Colby stared up into his two years older lover's face while lying prone with stinging muscles and a stream of trickling perspiration pooling into his navel rapidly , the young man quite thunderstruck by his female boyfriend's boldness .

" Now do I inspire you ? "

" Yes indeed , Mademoiselle adrenaline rush o' mine . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Hurry , guys ! You wanna wind up with ice - dickles ? Because I don't . " the nineteen year old complained when another icy gust blew past him and descended into his clothing . He stood in the freezing night air , holding double leashes and hopefully encouraging both dogs at the opposite ends to get a move on .

Shun squatted - at last ! - and Perro lifted a leg to the bent remains of plants and weeds at the tree line of their property .

Colby grimaced , too numb and cold to be in any sort of mood to pick up shit and he hadn't brought any scoop bags this time .

He took a quick look around , yanking the leashes .

This far back from the homes and close to a wooded area ...

" Nah . " he said , leaving the mess . Nobody would tread through it and by the time he walked four steps , it'd be fully frozen solid anyway .

The young man exhaled a breath of swirling steam and laughing , happily returned home .

" Here you are ! " Sofia beamed , her face glowing .

" We've waited for you . " Raul stated , opening the door wider .

" You could have went ahead and unwrapped your gifts . I wouldn't mind . "

Colby shook out of his puffer vest , peeling the heavy material from the ' ugly Christmas sweater ' he and his entire family , canines included , wore .

His was mainly light blue with an ice skating scene and snow men in top hats and scarves .

Mom had on hers , brick red with Santa and his flying reindeer .

Dad sported white with a dark green tree sprinkled with multi - color bulb ornaments that to his child's total embarrassment , glowed in the dark .

Shun and Perro wore twin mini patchwork sweaters , colored in red , green , white , blue and silver with giant candy canes embroidered on the fronts .

The Yorkies turned in circles before burrowing into their pristine green plaid bed big enough for a collie to sleep in comfort , brand new toys and chews strewn at their hairy feet .

" The Queen goes first . " the young man stated , handing two copper glittery beribboned packages to his parents .

" Our Majesty . " his father added , pulling the sparkling bow off with a crackling sounding tug .

" Don't forget the King and Prince . " Sofia replied cordially , tearing at tape and shiny paper . " What are these for ? "

" They are indoor flower and herb gardens in Mason jars . When spring and warm weather rolls back around , they can be transferred outside or leave them in , whichever . " Colby  explained .

" We appreciate these , thoughtful boy . " his mother said , sorting the seed packets .

" You're keeping our hands from being idle , that is true . " his father commented , drumming his fingernails against the glass containers brimming with soil and a layer of pebbles beneath .

Colby blushed , the corners of his mouth quirked and rising .

" Stop with the thanks . There are more , here ! " he replied , pushing the stack forward .

He sat cross legged on the living room floor rug and after his parents admired and complimented their heated massage pillows and a bocce ball set .

And now to strike , go in for the kill , the piece de resistance of pranks .

" Okay , now this is for the two of you only . Not to be used when I'm at home or for any of your friends to see . " the young man said craftily and flipped the cellophane encased deck .

Sofia's mouth fell open , then snapped shut once she and her husband had read the printed words ' Sexy Truth Or Dare ' on the game's front cover .

" These are obscene ! "

Raul went along with his wife's aghast reaction , although he appeared to be more taken by the erotic cards .

" We'll keep them hidden from the neighbors . "

Following the unboxing of quite a stash of assorted clothes his padre y madre had bought for him , Colby dove on the largest package , shredding the Jingle Bell patterned paper .

He practically hugged the portable induction cook top .

" Thanks ! This is awesome ! " the young man whooped .

" Our reward is knowing that you are happy . " his mother stated .

" Also , we are hinting that you should move out . " his father kidded .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Three ... "

" Two ... "

" One - "

" Happy New Year ! "

" February ! " Sofia shouted , startling the rest of the small group . fell back on the sofa and laughed , a shrill giggle while she kicked her feet as though she were swimming . " February . "

Raul solemnly exhaled , assisting his spouse into a standing position .

" Our cue to head home . "

" You're welcome to stay . We have enough room , if cat fur doesn't bother you . " Tom offered .

" I think walking in the cold air should help . "

" I'll drive you . " Judy said , rummaging through her purse , then her son's flamingo pink handbag for keys .

" It's only a few steps , nothing to be concerned about . "

Their son did fret and wouldn't have his mind changed if he spoke up to say so .

Twenty five degrees at three past midnight and ' few steps ' or only a single one , he wasn't going to let his parents risk freezing - or worse .

" I'm going too . " Colby said , pulling on one of his favorite Christmas gifts , a black zip up sweatshirt .

He yanked the hood over his hair and tugged the sewn - in cloth insert attached to the inside of neckline up to cover his mouth and nose .

Sofia peered at her son .

" Why are you dressed like a burglar ? "

" It's me , Mom . Give me your hand so I can help Dad take you home . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

The keys rattled , jingling in the lock once it clicked open .

Raul groaned suddenly , clutched his stomach and bent over the front porch's side railing to vomit .

" DAD ? ! " Colby cried .

" Bank robber , stay out of my house . " Sofia said , giggling louder .

" Stand with your mother so she won't trip . I'll be with you soon . "

Shun and Perro awoke , growled at their unrecognized human and started sounding their barks of warning .

" Guys , be quiet ! " the young adult scolded .

" No , you shut up , bad robber . " his mother chimed in , swaying .

Raul grabbed her before she hit the floor .

" Come along , my dear . "

He looked at his son .

" I'll help her into pajamas and make it to the toilet unharmed . "

Colby nodded .

" Yeah and I'll run the mutts outside real fast so they won't be whining to , uhnm , potty at sunrise . "

Minutes past when his parents had lurched to their bedroom , he hurridly snatched leashes , came close to running into the tallest corner standing lamp and weaved around the coffee table lost in a daze for a second .

He opened the sized big enough for a basset hound to have room wire crate that the two little dogs shared and clipped leashes to the neon collars .

Afterwards , two dogs and one human thawed in their trailer home , the Yorkie team snoring by then and Colby sprung into action , hot water scrubbing his hands a second time at the kitchen sink .

His mother bellowed and chuckled at a raised volume and his father's words , softer spoken , drifted down the hallway .

" ¡ Romántico ! "

" Sofía , quédate quieto . "

Colby breathed in serenely , out rasping like having sandpaper in his throat and dug through the fridge .

He uncapped a big bottle of lemon - lime sports drink , held three clear plastic cups one by one beneath the ice maker and poured the neon green beverage into each glass .

After chugging his share , he swallowed two aspirin , groaned and carried the remaining two drinks and four headache killing , white bitter - powder pills on a tray to his parents room .

" Uh , knock knock . " the young man called out , hesitant after tapping on the door .

" ¿ Quién está ahí ? " his mother whooped .

Raul laughed , out of sight before groaning .

" It's okay for you to come in . We're both covered fully . "

" Thanks ... I mean - I brought both of you some painkillers before bed . The tame kind , nothing toxic . "

Raul noted his son's worried look and smiled reassuringly .

" You should go to bed too . Get some rest . "

" Yes , but - " Colby stammered .

" She's okay . We're  fine . Head to your room and sleep . Don't be concerned . "

" Okay , Dad . "

He dragged and hauled his exhausted , sore body under the covers , disobeying his father's command .

He did worry about them .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Rrrrrrrrrrr . "

" Rrrrrrrrrrr - arrrrrrr ! "

The Yorkies tussled on their bed , playing a game of tug - of - war , their canine version of a human's wrestling match while the coffee bubbled and steamed in the pot , eggs were cracked into the pan and beaten with a whisk , ginger root peeled and finely grated and Colby , apron clad and working hard , felt gratified .

Sofia squealed and applauded , planting kisses on each side of her child's face .

" Thank you , sweetie ! "

" Esto no es ningún problema . Voch' mi khndir . "

" Ts'ankats'ats depk'um shnorhakal yem . "

The young man grinned . His parents were getting better at speaking his language as much , if not more than he was learning theirs .

" Your father will be joining us soon . Until then , I'd like to talk with you . "

" Go ahead . " the almost twenty year old poked the eggs to check if they were ready , stirred them with the whisk for one last scramble , then plated the breakfast protein .

" I apologize for doing certain things that obviously upset you . Please do not think that I'm acting like your mother intentionally . "

" Who are you supposed to act like , Mom ? My great grand uncle's dentist ? "

" Repeating your mother's mistakes by being an alcoholic . " Sofia continued , brushing a napkin over her mouth swiftly .

" Nooooo , you're not like that at all ! Besides , Dad explained and   I already know that you only drink to celebrate for every New Year . This isn't something daily or weekly and anyway , every person legally old enough to drive probably gets tipsy on January first , nothing to be ashamed of . "

Raul took a huge mug from the collection in the cabinets and filled it to the brim with pure black liquid caffeine , sugar and cream free . He eyed the loaded glasses and dishes , gleeful , impressed and curious .

" An unexpected nice surprise ! What struck you to fix a buffet ? "

" I thought we would need some hangover curing food , so I made eggs scrambled with tomatoes and toast spread with honey and topped with sliced bananas . The drinks are ice water with peeled , grated ginger and lemon slices thrown in . " the young man said , staring partly pop - eyed at his father's damp hair and then his mother's again .

Clearly , they'd showered together .

Maybe they had been using the playing cards after all .

His mother gazed at her boy with increased suspicion .

" Are you still not feeling well ? Your face is awfully flushed . "

" I'm perfectly healthy , honest . If no one minds , when I'm finished eating , can I go over and see Jimmy ? " Colby asked .

" Why should we mind ? Just put your dishes in the sink , please . "

" And take your coat . " Raul reminded his son .

" Brrrrr ! You're icy , Mister ! " Jimmy quipped following his greeting kiss he'd snuck in without his parents to witness .

" Well , let me have time to warm up ! " Colby laughed , claiming the recliner . " How is the hangover for three today ? "

" Fading fast . And yours ? "

" Same . Did you take down a big breakfast ? "

" My guess is that everybody of legal age and above has by now in my sublime Michigan , state beyond compare . "

" Eggs ? " Colby inquired .

" Coconut water , tomato juice , chicken noodle soup and banana stuffed French toast . "

" Classy lady . "

" Well , a family that pukes together slays together ... or something to that effect . " the afab young adult replied .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Shivering , he nestled into his fit for chilly temps Christmas gifts , an ink black wool overcoat and imitation black leather gloves with silver - grey faux fur lining .

Jimmy met him on the porch and shooed Colby into the trailer , surrounded by a gang of felines made perturbed from the lowered temps .

" Hi , pretty lady . "

" Hi to you , handsome . No frisking me until my polish dries . " the crazy cat lady male commented after a kiss .

He gave his lover a mug of hot chocolate with the last of the coffee stirred in and tiny marshmallows floating on the light brown , steaming hot surface .

" You're invited to our evening meal and on the menu will be vegetable soup , grilled cheese with bacon on rye , baked potatoes with sour cream and chives and dessert , apple pie bread pudding . " the Iowan sank onto the couch , felines scurrying to escape from the unknown horror that was his work booted feet .

" Mmmmmm , thank you and tell your folks thanks too but me and mine are going out to a steakhouse tonight . " Jimmy in Xio mode said , laying with his head propped back in  his friend's lap .

" Now this isn't your birthday gift from me . It's your before birthday gift , okay ? " Colby sat the empty cup aside and gestured to the long and wide mystery object .

" My gift gift ? ! " Jimmy asked , attacking the package .

" Uhmm hmmmn , since you already have lots of presence . " the almost twenty year old replied , nodding .

" Oh , oooooohhh , it's beautiful ! " the afab young adult beamed , slightly dazed at his musical instrument .

" It's pawn shop so I had to fix the strap with glue , needle and thread and purchase the tuner , pick and case separately . "

" Thankyouthankyouthankyou ! "

" Ninguna necesidad de agradecerme . Tsnundd shnorhavor . " Colby squinted and smiled during the grateful embrace .

" I can finally learn to play ' This Old Guitar ' using ... this old guitar ! " Jimmy gloated .

The Iowan instantly crossed his eyes , his choice for an appropriate reaction in friendship's ' non speaking role . '

His bizarre Michigan partner scooted closer for another snog , halting when his phone alerted him to a recent call and message .

" Oh , is Cult Leader a'callin ' ? " Colby suddenly frowned .

" He's more like a role model . People listen to what he says - "

" That's a cult , alright . "

" No , no , he's really cool . Hot babes hang around him all the time and he's my latest pick for a fashion muse . " Jimmy answered shyly .

" That creep brings you i-D and Wonderland magazine issues at work and becomes your best friend . " the nineteen year old pouted angrily .

" I'll never replace you ! But I do like making you seethe from jealousy . " the older man stated , grinning .

" I noticed that . " Colby tried to grab the phone but his friend darted away .

" Oh , no , you don't ! "

" He's disgusting and I'm going to tell him so . "

" Nuh uh . " Jimmy held the phone out of reach . " You wait here for me . "

The Iowan groaned and sulked , slouching until his boyfriend returned to the living room from his bedroom .

He cocked his head , astounded .

His odd but likeable bestie was trembling and pale .

" We got a call ! " he blurted , then fell back on the couch with a thud .

" For what ? Getting a chance to score a pin fall in some crap high school gym with the damn basketball hoop still hanging above ? "

" Hey , have some confidence with that doubt and bad attitude . Chili cheese fries cost extra . "

" I - jeez , you are really shaking ! Wait ... here , hold still . Relax . " Colby ordered , stroking his friend's The Cure inspired , rat's nest hairdo , with rubs similar to how Jimmy petted his long haired cats .

" From my point of view , this isn't calming . " his partner grinned , wicked and naughty as any ' horny devil ' and ogling his buddy's lower half .

" Mmmmmm , not for me either . "

" Well , if my blood sugar level ever drops , I'll call on you to be my eye candy . More so . " the eccentric young adult teased , wiggling his brows .

" So , what did creep Cult Leader have to say ? ' Cause I'll fight him if he proposed . "

" It's the most unbelievable , wacky , astonishing and great thing ! "

" Which is ... ? " Colby asked and waited for the answer impatiently .

" MTV has plans to produce their own televised wrestling show and they saw our work tapes - " Jimmy began .

" MTV ? ! " the nineteen year old shouted .

" Yep . Ready to be a star in Hollywood , Champ ? "

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

                                           

" Oh , the human mouth is a disgusting place ! "

The young man barely glanced up from the laptop screen , neutral about Nemo eventually being ' found ' or not while he multi tasked on the seven hour flight .

As he jotted notes on paper , tapped at his keyboard with the connection set on airplane mode and occasionally looked over at his parents , several children giggled wildly at the animated sea life antics .

He doubted that Tom and Judy were giving any attention to such a dull film in their first class seating and he sensed that his Dad and Mom weren't fascinated either , although he had heard them saying " Historieta de animal acuática . " now and then .

He was a bundle of nerves .

They seemed relaxed and were enthralled , chatting up a storm and peering out the window while he decimated his homework and his possibly crazy friend dozed beside him .

" Pfffft , so they say . " Jimmy quipped , yawning .

" Eh , it depends on what has been in the mouth before . " Colby shrugged and grinned at his blinking bestie . " Did I wake you ? "

" You , bothering me ? ! Not happening , man ! "

" Hey , you could've sat in first class like royalty but you chose back here with the ordinary folks . " the Iowan joked , shutting his computer off .

" Well , out of all the lowlifes in the world , you're my fav . " Xio replied , wriggling to stretch in the seat .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Single beds ? ! " the older young adult shouted , crestfallen .

" Maybe they chose the bachelor life . " Colby joked , dropping his luggage and looking around . He couldn't fathom why a place to stay right on the beach would be decorated in an unnecessary seaside theme but at least the view honestly was an ocean one .

Jimmy gave the plain , meant to be shared bathroom a once-over . " Great news ! The shower stall is enormous ! " he stated happily .

" My parents are in the adjoining bedroom . " his bestie mentioned .

" This shower is big enough to hold a horse , I'd bet ! "

" Neither of us brought along any farm animals and - " the Iowan tried again . " My parents . Are in the room directly across from us . "

" Prude , you disappoint me . "

" We'll make up for time lost once we're back home . "

Jimmy grinned .

Anticipation was one of his favorite parts of the story .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Without a kitchen or dining room , they had room service delivered breakfast in the living room . Raul put the couples charged phones , sunscreen and disposable cameras into a knapsack and Sofia scrutinized the itinerary .

Jimmy wiped his milk mustache and toast crumb dusted chin clean , waiting for his boyfriend to kick it into gear and finish up in the shared bathroom .

" From the looks of our schedule , we'll probably return late . If you two get back before we do , please call us in case you decide to go out overnight . "

" Yes , ma'am . And hey , if you happen to spot Tinkerbell when you're at the park , would you wave Hello from me to her ? "

Sofia chortled . " Sweetie , we'd be honored to ! "

Raul sipped more coffee thoughtfully , smiling .

" We'll do for you one better . We'll ask for her autograph . "

" Thank you ! " Jimmy replied gratefully .

" You can't wear that . " Sofia stated after the first quick look at her son's The Beets Killer Tofu World Tour tee and jeans so shredded and dirt stained that they looked as though a wild animal had attacked the denim .

" What's wrong with it ? I wasn't planning to go nude . " Colby began his combination of rebellious arguing and leftover teenage whining .

Jimmy's eyes brightened but he kept the comments to himself .

" Too sloppy , casually messy , all wrong and looks like a slacker for a job interview ! Raul , explain to him . "

" Your mother's correct . "

" Ain't she always ? " Colby chuckled and snapped his wad of gum .

" Change into your dress pants and buttoned shirt before you go . And better shoes . " the oldest man said , gazing at the unlaced sneakers .

" It's kind of a time waster to dress formal when we're going to the beach right after . " his son removed his nicest attire from the suitcase and made a U turn , second time around for the shared bathroom .

" Walking and taking the bus . "

" Uhhh ... renting a car and driving around . "

" I wasn't asking . " Sofia said .

Colby stuck out his bottom lip and looked at his father .

" The pleading and charm won't work this time . We want both of you to be safe . " Raul said , knowing most of his child's tricks by now .

The former half blond turned big , sad eyes on his mother .

" Listen to your father . And stop being silly once today . " Sofia added , also wise to her son's defiant , playing innocent and rule breaking ways .

The lower lip was sucked backwards in a hurry .

" There aren't dangers if we were mugged ? Or the chance that the bus crashes ? " Colby asked .

" You carry pepper spray and a phone . Besides that , if the bus driver wrecks , it would be their fault and not yours . "

Colby looked to Jimmy , in the hopes that he'd have his former half blond friend's back .

" Damn , they're good . "

" So are my parents . " his dark haired weird pal replied . " Who do you suppose they conspired with ? "

The almost twenty year old exhaled , defeated and shut the bathroom door .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" I swear that we've passed by here already . " Colby said , peeking into the little room at the end of the corridor .

He stared at the small table , folding chairs , mini fridge and a marble top island with an unplugged coffee pot seated on its shiny pale blue surface .

What he guessed was a lounge area for employees smelled like vending machine snacks and gallons of freshly roasted and caffeinated beverage thrill but devoid of actual people sitting and talking , eating and drinking on their break .

" We could be lost , however us real men never admit it . " Jimmy replied , looking at the numbered metal signs on the doors .

His best buddy had a hundred thoughts and smart - ass remarks , keeping quiet until his sense of smell picked up on something familiar and literally addictive .

" Is that incense ? " the afab young man wondered , grimacing at the pungent scent .

" No , it's pot . " Colby grabbed his friend's hand and they jogged along . " Maybe whoever is smoking can help us find our way to the meeting . "

" I hope so . "

The young man lighting up next to a window grinned broadly at them and after the Iowan had glanced at  the stranger's  small yet amazingly muscular , ripped torso , surmised that he was most likely putting other substances in his body also .

" Hi there ! We're trying to find - " the nearly twenty year old squinted at the scrap of paper . " Ryan Katz . "

" Oh , you mean Lemonade in the Shade ? " the brunette stranger chuckled and took another drag . " He's in room sixty eight . "

" No nine ? What a letdown . " Jimmy said .

Colby stifled a laugh and struggled to appear innocent .

" And that's ... where ? "

" In the MTV side of the building . This is the VH1 section . "

" I knew we're in the wrong place ! " the Iowan told his eccentric partner .

" VH - 1 , hmmm ? Huh , well , no wonder it's a ghost town over here . "

" I'm Matt , by the way . "

" Hello , Matt - by - the - Way , I'm Ji ... my name's X . "

Matt gave an apprehensive look to the oddly dressed person and Colby touched his pal's elbow encouragingly , silently admitting he was tense as well .

" Nah , last name's Sydal , not by the way , Mister Jex . " Matt snickered . " Shit , my manners ! Want any ? "

The Iowan stepped back , avoiding the burning , rolled up paper with the powerful odor .

" Isn't it illegal to be smoking in here ? "

Matt frowned and shook his head .

" This spoilsport's cool with you ? " he asked Jimmy .

The FTM young adult wore a losing his patience false smile .

" Tyler's no buzzkill , he just isn't in the mood to be arrested . "

Sydal looked unflappable , inhaling again longer .

" My belief is it's not a bad thing unless you get caught . "

Jimmy chortled .

" I live by slightly identical rules . "

Colby sprinted along , brown eyes turning green while his heart and brain completed morphing into the monster of envy .

Was his female boyfriend and this unknown pothead kid flirting with each other ? ! , he stewed over with resentment .

" Race ya ! " Colby dared aloud and rushed through the halls , his weird bff neck and neck with him and whooping laughter .

" Wait up ! " Sydal called from far back .

" Pick up the pace ! " Jimmy advised him .

" Yeah , move those feet , toker . " Colby added and halted inches before smashing into a doorknob chest first .

Whoof ! " the afab man grunted , barreling into a glaring , dark haired man small in stature who was so familiar that the Iowan wondered if they'd be crotch chopped at instead of reprimanded .

" Would you be careful ? ! " Sean snapped , moving the styro beverage cup from one hand to the other . " Don't spill my coffee , okay ? "

" Errrr ... there's coffee ? " Colby perked up immediately .

" And doughnuts . Over there . " Sean waved his free hand at a back corner of the room .

The almost twenty year old went to the long table loaded with sugary brunch sweets and lots of decaf and regular steaming  like a moth to the flame , tantalized but not wishing to get scalded .

" Am I late to the party ? " Matt asked the round faced and bodied , bald male wearing neon yellow shorts and oversized sunglasses , plus the white tee with a print of small lemons .

" Well , you've arrived with ten - uhnm , thirteen minutes to spare , so , no . And I don't party . " Ryan answered , attempting to sound angry and failing because of his giant , welcoming smile .

The almost twenty year old heard his FTM lover inhale nearby , sounding like a hissing serpent and with a mouthful of hot liquid caffeine soaked glazed and yummy goodness , he glanced over to figure out what was - possibly - wrong .

Who he saw was a man in gloomy goth attire with his hair braided into worm - like strands , kohl circles around his eyes and a take - no - crap look blazing in them .

Vampiro ! " Jimmy whispered , electrified .

Colby shrugged . He didn't know the name , nor  did he care to introduce himself to a guy playing dress up as a Misfits member .

A wild - eyed and colorful Lucha mask clad man entered the room , startling everyone already there , especially after he'd snatched a  fistful of doughnuts and licked them merrily , mumbling something garbled around the chocolate icing , cream filling and powdered sugar toppings .

He held onto an oddly shaped tablet in his sticky fingers and oily hands .

Nobody called any attention to the bizarre individual or the equally strange interruption .

" ¿ Quién entiende lo que estoy diciendo ? " the sullen looking man wearing the remains of bone white face makeup on inquired .

Several hands lifted , the Iowan's among them .

" I do . I can . ¿ Pero bastante sobre mí , verdad ? " the former half blond answered .

Vampiro smirked .

Jimmy nudged Colby .

" Big talker Tyler . Wait until they find out you're part Armenian . Their executive and producer heads will spin . "

His boyfriend beamed .

" I'd bet they'll be most impressed by you , truth be told . "

The bakery scented , cordial surroundings and a hospitable group of guys put him at ease .

Except for one thing .

One businessman .

Both his inner personality and outer appearance , along with his smart mouthed attitude made it quite clear that he was a con man .

He seemed to strut , rather egotistically up and down the narrow spaces between the rows of hardbacked plastic chairs , handing out papers .

The Iowan squinted at the finest of fine print at the bottom of the contract , words best read by using a microscope and were very suspicious indeed .

" Uhm , what is this - " Colby raised his hand , then lowered it fast , feeling incredibly stupid and the masked oddity growled soon after .

His fingertips pecked at the keyboard of the electronic speaking device and smirking under his face covering , he held the tablet high .

The typed message was spoken in a slurred , robotic voice crackling with static .

?I: #Will$%!NOt^*'?Quit#_+{"*Work]=-)^&%ThAt$! *)=[Ix !%&^* ALReady\|}_+=-)HaVe/?:=*$#^FoR\]-+:? #!$You

" You refuse to participate ? Great , then leave . I don't want a mute on my roster anyway . "

" Should I stick his tie in a paper shredder ? " Jimmy wondered , glowering at the critical , disdainful main man in charge .

" Nah , just his fingers . " Colby muttered , noticing that Vampiro was scowling , XPac had his arms crossed over his chest and Ryan's big smile had been replaced with a sour frown . " And from the looks of it , they'll help us brawl with Mister Asshole Supreme . "

Confetti shreds of a ripped apart contract fluttered to the tile .

The bizarre masked man stood defiantly , eye to eye with the haughty , judgmental producer before tearing out several strands of his hair and storing them inside the mouth cutout .

%Fu^*:}Ck_+#your !$^*,.sHIt/'\ "

Delirious ' latest enemy grimaced when the door slammed .

" Hmmmm , I like him ! He's silly . " Jimmy commented .

" Thanks for the news update , gay Bugs Bunny . " Colby laughed , sliding his chair to scoot closer to his bestie .

" Let me make things clear for those who don't understand . Everyone sitting here today is going to sign this contract or you'll regret it if you don't . And for anybody wondering , working for me means only me ! Once you sign , you're officially Society property and barred from working for any other promotion . Yes , that includes your packed stadiums ... or in you guys cases , the shitty little bingo halls . " the cold hearted creep in a fancy , pricey suit smirked .

Jimmy scribbled his changed name without much of a second thought , although he looked furious enough to punch through a brick wall and his boyfriend wrote down his name quickly too , trying not to dwell upon the negatives from this deal .

" Thank you and thank you . " the narcissist said sarcastically , gathering and stacking the papers .

Colby scowled again before he headed towards the exit  with his boyfriend  in tow  ,  weaving  through the crowd of muttering , frowning talent  into the dimly lit , stuffy hallway .

" That jerk is scamming guys , plain as day . Women too , most likely . "

" So , is that a reason you might not want to do this ? "

" Yeah , that and - "

" And ... what ? ! "

" Maybe we should reconsider if their show really is going to be televised . " the nearly twenty year old began .

" Yeah , so ? ! Why ? "

" Televised . Live television . "

" I know what it means . " his boyfriend replied , looking irritable .

" What if something happens ? Since you're posing as a man - "

" Posing ? ! Posing ? ! Yeah , my parents had a daughter but I am a man ! " Jimmy snapped . " I'm no different than you are ! "

" Uhnm , I can think of something that isn't the same as mine . " Colby joked and was silenced by his friend's tomato red face and warning glare .

" Excuse yourself , comedian ? "

" Hon , I understand about who and what you are and I'm super cool with it . But not everyone else may see it the same way . What if you're exposed , like if your packer fell out on live tv , for example ? Or perhaps worse , a tampon ? "

" Then I'll laugh it off as a prosthetic and joke that my real one is way bigger . The false dick , not my feminine hygiene products . "

" I'd rather that you take this seriously . " Colby sighed .

" Why ? Are you embarrassed by me ? ! Remember , you had no clue whatsoever until I revealed myself ! " Jimmy fumed , glowering at the two years younger man .

" I ... I'm worried about you . "

" Worr - what ? "

" I don't want you hurt in any way  by anybody , that's all . " the younger man stated .

" Really ? "

" Absolutely and cross my heart . "

" Sorry for being a jerk . "

" Es chulo . " Colby smiled .

His bff beamed . " No matter what goes on - "

" We'll be friends forever . " the almost twenty year old promised .

" Yep , and if they screw us over with this business deal , we'll always have being in the same room as fucking Vampiro , man ! " Jimmy whooped .

" And literally running into X Pac ! " Colby shouted .

Hell yeah ! "

Aaaauuuugghhh ! " they bellowed aloud as one , holding hands and dancing childishly in ring around the rosy like circles of merry delight .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

The Iowan descended to the pavement with his partner on his heels soon after the bus had braked at the stopping point .

Even with headphones on , he could easily hear shrieks and cheering in the distance .

" Whadda you know ? The legal age girls know that we've arrived . " Jimmy quipped .

" Ready and aiming to please . " Colby added , grinning and fixed his baseball style cap back in place , brim facing in reverse .

Scattered lawn chairs and other assorted folding seats by the dozens stood in the piles of golden sand as fans and the curious watched the free exhibition match taking place .

The spotlight stealing duo standing and posing in the ring looked identical from afar .

They both had shoulder length brown hair that appeared golden glowing under the sun rays , naturally tanned bodies that were mainly abs on top of abs and matching long smoke grey and bone white fur coats .

" Fake ? " Colby whispered , nudging his lover .

" The fur or their sculpted anatomy ? " Jimmy answered , joking around .

Their physical features resemblance wasn't the only thing that was the same .

The moves went hand in hand too or more accurately , feet as the crowd soon learned while they observed back flips , high leaps and martial arts kicks done in a blur of motion .

" Fancy . " the older man noted and applauded .

His boyfriend grunted , not as impressed . He clapped reluctantly .

" More like showboats but they're okay , maybe . "

" Are you jealous ? " Jimmy asked , smirking and lifting his brows .

" Nothing there to envy . They should watch out for us though . "

The pair waited , along with the rest of the crowd after that athletic display for whatever came next .

Nothing happened .

Colby peered at his watch and counted the minutes lost doing nothing except standing there .

People yawned and rose while others fidgeted in their seats .

Several men ran through the sand and began removing the ropes .

A few audience members booed . Others sighed and wandered away .

" Huh . " the afab young adult said . " I guess we arrived late and missed most of the show . "

" Yeah , big deal . Some performance . " Colby waved the map he held so it crackled and fluttered along the edges . " Let's haul ass before we really do miss the important stuff , sightseeing . "

" Grouchy , Tye - Tye ? " Jimmy beamed .

Don't call me Tye - Tye . It sounds like a cartoon character . " the nearly twenty year old said , briskly stepping across the sand .

" Okay , my Tye . " Jimmy replied cheekily .

Colby frowned briefly . " Now I'm a drink ? "

" You're refreshing . "

" You're a nymphohshitwatchout ! " the younger man hollered and lunged forward .

The former half blond threw his arms around his friend , hauling him back from the pavement right as the limo braked hard , tires screeching , horn blasting and driver cursing .

" Whoa , saved by a superhero . " Jimmy gasped , squirming in the tight embrace . " All this and  a third leg too . "

Ssssshhh ! " Colby blurted , his cheekbones aflame .

From the looks of the impeccably dressed young man peering over the half rolled down tinted window , his darker at the scalp and lighter brown at the tips faux-hawk needed a root touch-up .

" Damn , JoMo , are you a snail or what ? "

The second brunette clad in denim so snug his home address might have been showing hopped into the long , heated leather back seat of the stretch limo .

" C'mon , Mike , I ran like a hungry cheetah , okay ? Joey takes his time showering and I want to wait for him . "

" Well , I  don't and we're not . " the smaller man snapped , glaring .

Three times , the lights changed from red to yellow to green and back again before a panting , damp haired Joey ran to the sidewalk .

" Have either of you seen - ? "

" Uh ... he left with some movie star lookin ' loudmouth . " Colby answered .

The abandoned wrestler sighed which turned into a barely heard sob and he sunk into a crouching position next to the bus stop bench .

" Why do I waste my time competing with him when I always lose ? ! " he muttered sadly to himself .

Jimmy didn't hesitate . He dug a wad of fives , tens and two twenties from his purse , walked fearlessly up to the stranger and tapped his shoulder .

" Here , take this and get a bus ticket or a cab . "

" Or rent a car . " Colby chimed in , handing over his fistful of singles and the few twenties from his wallet .

Joey gave a smile that had lost its strength and faith temporarily .

" Thanks but we drove here in a rental and ... hell , I'll be taking it back to the motel . Alone Again . "

" Damn , man , keep the cash anyway and treat yourself to whatever you need . "

" Yeah ! "

Joey glowered , sniffled and shook his head , his choice to trust clicking on and off .

" I'm an unknown to you . So , what , do you guys walk around lending a hand to just anybody ? ! "

" We help out friends . " Jimmy replied and Colby nodded , arm in arm and agreeing with his lover .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

There wasn't one person that stared at Xio's ' Marilyn Monroe - Manson ' inspired garb of ink black makeup and glossy , multi strap and buckled platform boots , a white button down shirt over a darker mesh top , charcoal capri pants and a sheer , bright pink scarf .

Thirty minutes to stand in line for hot dogs ? ! No way , man ! "

" But it's Pink's ! It is legendary and we only had doughnuts for lunch . "

" Okay but I'm sitting . " Jimmy said and took a chair at an empty table , shaded his eyes with round frame sunglasses and flipped through the recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine .

He glanced over at the twenty minute mark , according to his watch and stopped blinking .

Quit breathing altogether , lost the ability to while ogling his man's ass bound in clinging jeans when he was slightly bent at the counter , ordering their meal .

" Okay , one Martha Stewart , one root beer , two waters , one coconut cake slice - " Colby paused , thinking that he'd share the soda and dessert with his friend . " Man , what do you want ? "

" Uhhh ... whaaaaa ? ! Hmmmm ? Oh ! A - uh , burger is fine . " his crazy cat lady beloved stammered .

The former half blond gazed at him , wondering before turning back to complete the order .

" Small chili cheeseburger . Oh , wait ! And a small bag of onion rings , portion , how ever you serve them . "

" Hey . " Jimmy hiccuped once his friend plopped into the chair beside him . The occasional light breeze didn't help worth a shit to dry the older man's visible upper lip sweat .

" Want any ? " Colby shook the bag and divided its enticing contents .

" Yeah , I'm suddenly hungry . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

The almost twenty year old wrapped his Harrington jacket around his upper body tighter when another gust of salty ocean spray perfumed , chilly air hit his skin .

The locals advice about wearing layers had been good . It was windy here .

" There it is ! " the older man gestured and took off running towards the massive bell .

" Wait for me ! " Colby called as he trekked past the park's basketball court .

" Let's touch it ... place our hands on it as a team ! "

" There's rope around for a barrier . "

" We could limbo . " Jimmy suggested .

" Ah , that isn't rope ! Those are chains . " Colby noticed once they'd gotten closer .

" Okay , scratch limbo . "

" Hey , tag partner selfies still mean something . " the Iowan held up his phone .

" Yeah , they do . "

They took several pictures , some where they acted goofy with their cheeks flattened against one anothers and grinning broadly , others mildly more serious as they sat with legs crossed in front of the ornately decorated , pyramidal roofed Belfry of Friendship .

" Friendship never ending . " Colby swore .

" Friendship everlasting . " Jimmy agreed .

His pleased expression faded and contorted . He hunched over , groaning and his breathing was shallow .

" Holy ... ! What ? ! - " the younger man yelped .

" Just ... cramps . " his best friend grunted , swaying . " They'll pass . "

Colby wasted no time leaning against him to give physical and emotional support .

" How can I ease the pain ? "

" Normally , I'd tell you to remove your shirt but right now - Yaurrrrgh ! Don't bother . " the FTM young adult moaned , teeth clenched shortly after .

" Shit with the bother . I'm taking you back to our room . "

Jimmy pushed a speck of a sly grin past the swinging doors of agony .

" So , does that mean I get you topless after all ? "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Three white cardboard square lids lifted , displaying the deliciously fantastic trio of a gyro pizza , Cali cheeseburger pizza with double avocado and the finale , a chocolate crust banana split dessert pizza .

Colby felt slightly guilty after digging into the feast . More for him since his partner was unfortunately and pitifully shrimp curled up from cramps on the second bed .

Suddenly , he heard music .

The Iowan tilted his head to listen .

" Your phone or mine , man ? "

" Oh , it's for me . " Jimmy said , switching from listless to in motion , rummaging in his cross body tote and digging up the glimmering zebra patterned phone .

He checked the number and message , hopped off of the bed and rushed to the bathroom , quickly shutting the door .

" Who is it ? " the younger man inquired . " What is it ? ! "

" A surprise , nosy ! " his lover called back .

Colby grunted , shrugged and detached another stringy , melted cheesy slice of pizza , sneaking near to eavesdrop .

" Soooooo , what's going on ? "

" Well , for starters , you're nosy . " Jimmy stated , targeting the pizza and munching on one slice in each hand , the melted cheese stretching like pulled , chewed gum .

" Ha ha , funny man . No confessions ? "

" This ain't church . "

" Aaeeerrrggggghhh ! " Xio's Tyler whined , punching an emptied , closed cardboard pizza box for tantrum emphasis .

His bizarre bestie spoke after each bite of tasty , oily topping .

" I'm looking into something that could turn out to be good luck and fortune for us both . "

" Luck is for losers , not winners like you and me . " Colby commented , hesitant to give up on his pouting and snooping .

" You've told me that so often , it's carved into my brain . How about trusting me ? "

" I wouldn't be with you if there wasn't trust . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" I'm gonna get ya . I'm gonna get ya . I'm gonna be your best friend - "

Jimmy rolled in his sleep with his face nuzzled into one pillow , the second in his clutches and between his knees .

His eyelids flew open seconds before tumbling off the bed .

" Good feeling's gone . AHH! "

After rubbing his sore elbows , he grunted and scaled the mattress , burying his face under the covers .

Beaming drowsily , he peeked across to the second bed .

Empty .

Jimmy groaned and checked the bedside clock , astonished that it was only a few minutes after eleven . The six days straight , once a month pain had apparently made him sleepy earlier than the norm .

With parents within sight and sound range , he hadn't gotten much more than kissing from his Tyler , a letdown for the libido and joy for his lower half since having a tampon in killed even the smallest percentage of sexy and arousing .

The FTM young adult bounded from the bed .

The porch light was on .

No longer tired , he went outside for the view and stumbled into eye candy .

" Whoa ! "

" Sssssshhh ! "

" Tyler , am I going to get something from all your shushing me ? Otherwise , it's growing really boring , real fast . " Jimmy fussed , biting his tongue in haste when he was relocated into his boyfriend's lap .

" Look . Listen . " Colby said , pointing .

" Will do , sir . " the older man replied weakly .

Only one glance at the beach clued in to why his beloved man was beaming affectionately and sitting on the porch steps , watching over the sand below .

Sofia bent and plunked a shell into the bucket Raul carried as they strolled along , foamy saltwater waves sliding over their bare toes .

" Your gratification , huh ? "

"Sí . I've been mulling things over and if you're really becoming a wrestler for us - "

" I am . " Jimmy responded honestly , linking fingers with his lover .

" Then whatever I do from now on is for them . To keep them happy , give them everything in life , win the world and place it at their feet . "

" How many times a day do I tell you that I truly love you ? "

" Not as much as you puff on the nicotine tubes but still ... a damn lot . "

Colby sat , his suntanned flesh absorbing his female boyfriend's admiration and loyal smooches while they watched the smiling married couple having fun like children between surf , sand and sky lit with silver - white moon glow .

In the present , he was an oyster and his ambition was the pearl .

Chapter Text

 

 

 

                                

" Any more brilliant ideas , Princess ? " the Iowan snapped , easing another box of towels , robes and slippers next to the rest piled in the storage room .

" Sorry , Tyler . " Jimmy replied , restocking shelves with packages and containers of incense , eye masks and paraffin wax . " I really thought that this work would involve us giving happy ending , hot oil rubdowns to college age hot chicks , not in the back and sweating for nothing . "

Colby sighed at last and turned the frustration on himself , no longer targeting his friend but still feeling the pinprick of guilt .

" I know you did this to help , not to hurt us . I'm not blaming you . Sure it sucks working for this spa temporarily but there's not much else for employment since that sleazy con artist screwed us out of wrestling . "

The older man lowered his head until his face vanished under a mask of his mussed , unbrushed dark hair .

" That was my fault too . "

Colby cupped Jimmy's chin and made unblinking eye contact , smiling .

" Nah , we're past that , okay ? And as for here ... most of the broads aren't attractive anyway . "

" So you don't hate me ? You aren't mad ? ! "

" Don't , can't , won't , aren't , ain't , never will . "

The FTM young man dropped the armload of pillow cases and head wraps before leaping into his lover's big hug .

" Tyler , you're the best ! "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

The afab ' crazy cat lady ' rolled onto his back , grinning and watched his crush and bestie do some compelling upside down exercises .

" Tyler , I love you but you're distracting me to forget and color outside of the lines . " Jimmy said , shaking the box of crayons .

" Mmmmph . " Colby grunted absentmindedly , more focused on indoor jumping jacks , crunches and push ups than his friend's artwork .

The older man lounged on the rumpled sheets and scribbled in his coloring book between sweating and swooning , hypnotized somewhat by Colby's determined squats .

" Tye - Tye , your toned ass is frosted flakes , maaaannn . "

" I know how it looks , maaaannn . " the younger man laughed back . " Hotter than lava and firm enough you could bounce a quarter off and get change back . "

Jimmy beamed , hopping to the floor .

" Oooohhh , I'll get my purse ! "

" Stay where you're at , Goofy . "

" Ah , Tyler ? "

" Hmmm ? "

" Why do coloring books featuring dinosaurs not have velociraptors in ' em ? "

The twenty year old paused in mid lunge and wrinkled his nose .

" I ... I - don't know . "

" They should . "

" Yeah , I guess so . Dammit , this suuuuucks not being able to get in the ring ! "

" Uhm ... "

" What ? ! "

" I found a job for us where we can wrestle but it isn't exclusively wrestling . "

" What , we'll be making a porno ? " Colby kidded .

He hit the floor into one armed push ups and waited for a response .

He stood up in a flash , his face fire engine red .

So was his bestie's , altering to a deep darker cranberry - purple .

JIMMY ! "

" It's temporary . A quick and - don't mind the pun - easy way to make some money . I've researched what we'll be doing and ... "

" You . Signed . Us . To . Be . In . A . Adult Movie . " Colby chided in disbelief , then sighed . " Well , at least we'll be scoring chicks . "

" Uhnm ... men . " Jimmy said in a barely a whisper .

" MEN ? ! Gay porno ? ! "

" You are a twenty year old - and excluding me - single man ! Let loose and do something out of your comfort zone for once . "

" What do you mean , for once ? ! I can be wild and take risks , same as anyone else . "

" Oh , Tyler , your idea of having fun and being unpredictable is purchasing aioli as an ingredient substitute for mayo . " Jimmy sighed .

" But I like aioli . " Colby retorted before his light bulb went on . " Diving into the fuck for bucks industry without precautions is stupid , by the way . "

" The guy in charge is very strict . We don't walk in , whip out our genitals and start bonking . There are plenty of rules . "

" Prove it . "

" I saved and printed out these emails before deleting them later . " Jimmy said , taking a few papers from his desk ( and under the paws of one napping tabby . )

" This is the RAINN What Is Consent ? article . " his partner skimmed through the first page .

" Yeah , he sent me that and a long list of rules . "

" Ages twenty and over , nobody younger will be accepted , will be automatically fired if you show up at work intoxicated or on drugs ... must take both urine and blood tests ... Hell , this guy doesn't play around ! " Colby's voice raised and his eyes widened as he read through well over a dozen rules .

" Told you so , Tyler . "

" How are supposed to explain this to our parents ? "

" Tell yours what I'll say to mine - that we're wrestling , which is a half - truth . Although , to be safe , don't mention CyberFights . That's the name of the softcore stuff and I wouldn't want my Dad and Mom or yours either to research further . "

" I'll keep my trap shut . No names dropped . " his bestie did a few fast jumping jacks . " Where is that place located ? Detroit ? "

" The East Village in New York . Manhattan . "

" I know where Manhattan - "

" In the basement of a ritzy , popular with celebs fitness center . It has a funny Greek name , kéras tis amáltheias . " Jimmy replied . " That means horn ... something . "

" Horn of plenty . " Colby translated and clicked his tongue - tsk ! - in disgust . " Gah , it even has a vulgar name . "

" And probably fun . " Jimmy snickered naughtily . " I'm gonna be the Buck Angel of wrestling ! "

" Well , yeah , you've got the eyeliner and black nail polish all set but I doubt you can really levitate . "

" Oh , Tye - Tye , you're cute as a button and dumb as a doorstop . "

" Are you calling me ? - "

" Pretty handsome and stupid , my kind of man . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

A week ! "

The tv remote tumbled from Sofia's hand .

" Yes , ma'am . I - I'll leave this upcoming Monday and catch a plane back on Sunday . " her son answered , bowl of popcorn held out of reach of two nosy , begging Yorkies .

" For training ? That's too long . You can have your workouts at the local gym , not go to Manhattan . "

" But I'll be advertising my skills too , Mom . Having some tryouts . I have to travel and not sit around for a promoter to find me . Besides , it's June and I've graduated so there's more free time on my schedule . " "

" He makes a good point . " Raul commented from his recliner . " Just think , my dear , our boy could be discovered by a talent scout . "

" He could become a movie and television star ! " Sofia beamed and clapped her hands .

Colby sighed , amused by her sudden excitement and grabbed the poor fallen remote before the dogs claimed it as a chew toy .

" Since it is Summer , we'll allow you to go this time . " Raul said agreeably , touching the table side lamp until the light inside brightened to his satisfaction . " But don't expect to run wild each month . There's still chores , working at the restaurant ... "

" It's only a week to visit some indie wrestling shows and introduce myself . " the young adult fibbed , cold sweating down the back of his legs , fretting they'd not believe him . " And if I ever make it to Madison Square Garden , I'll make sure that you're both seated front row as my VIP guests to watch the match . "

Sofia kissed her son and wiped the greasy butter spots from his face .

" You're already a star ! "

" Nuestra estrella . " Raul added , lowering the volume of the television .

Colby knew that in his parents opinion , he was the favored child , their saint with devil horns propping up the halo .

But was he a rising or falling star ?

He was going to keep climbing , running , pushing , fighting until he found out .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Wheeeeeeee ! "

Urgh . "

" You're carsick ? ! Never have before . "

" This is more like a - Urp ! - roller coaster . " Colby said weakly as he was flung back and forth .

" You've ridden plenty of amusement park thrill rides and not barfed , Tyler . "

Oog . "

" Hey ! Here's our stop . Thanks , mister . " Jimmy waved .

The Iowan unbuckled his seatbelt and as soon as his Vans touched sidewalk , he ran like Hell to the closest trash can and spewed atop several mostly empty , fast food drink cups .

" You're going in there ? " the cabbie inquired and whistled , dazzled by the four story brick , former hotel . " Wouldya say Hi to Stallone and Ahnurld if ya see ' em ? "

" Huh ? Oh ... yeah , sure . " Jimmy glanced past the cabbie , troubled , at his barfing bestie .

" He'll be okay , right ? I hope so . "

" So do I . " Jimmy said , paid the fare and left a tip plus an extra dollar for the kind concern .

He hauled ass to stand next to his hunched over , green in the gills boyfriend , plowing through his purse and digging out an unused napkin that he wiped Colby's gooey lips with .

" Urrrrrr , thanks . " the younger man said , swaying .

" Sit down ! " Jimmy demanded and looked for a bench ... a chair ... nothing within reach - Damnit !

Colby wobbled , groaning .

In dismay , Jimmy hurried him to a shade tree and made him sit on the mainly clean sidewalk .

" Don't move . Just stay calm and wait for me . " the older man ordered and would have kissed his Tyler had the vomit not spoiled things .

Colby produced a weakened smile .

His odd boyfriend scampered to a food truck first , followed by a street cart .

" Ummm ... I'd like a French onion soup grilled cheese . Thank you . "

" Two slushes please , one ginger tea and one raspberry - lychee . "

After running through the crowds , he placed the offering at his lover's sneakered feet .

" Here . "

Colby sniffed once and grunted , scowling .

" Onions and greasy cheese ? Nasty ! "

" It might be vile to you but I'm doing what I know to help , ungrateful ! "

Colby blinked and squirmed .

Jimmy exhaled in a puff that sent his tangled locks flying and he smiled apologetically .

" Sorry . "

" Me too . About being sorry , that is . "

" But you're the one who is sick and I'm acting bitchy towards you ... "

" We're both nervous and stressin ' . Agree to disagree . "

" Mmmmm hmmmm , thank you . "

" Thank you . " Colby shoveled into the icy and sweet mixture .

" Uh , ' scuse ? "

" Elmsworth ... Elfsworth ? "

Ellsworth paused during re - reading the information that had sent him about how to spot fake I.D.s and stared at the visitors as hard as they were bug - eyed gawking at him .

He knew what had their attention and it pissed him off .

So help him gawd , if they told him to ' Keep your chin up ' , he'd flip the desk .

Ellsworth . " he corrected the unknowns haughtily .

The short , thin male at the front desk was neither rattled or intimated by the Hot Topic skateboarder Dave Nevarro non identical twin and his skinny sidekick , the Robert Smith wannabe clad in a ' Bad Girl ' tee and black glitter leggings .

This was , after all , New York . The East Village where almost everything goes , street style wise .

He'd seen clients and fellow co - workers alike wearing jewels and gold shimmering on their teeth , thrift store chic and all sorts of costumes , even rubber and plastic gimp mask and bodysuit encased males led around on chain leashes by lovely super models incognito .

At night , in bed and alone , he envied those men .

Ellsworth kept his cool , dove into what he was paid for and started the sales pitch .

" Anything in particular that you're participating in today ? This fitness center has Spin class , free weights , yoga , floating yoga ... "

Floating yoga ? ! " Jimmy asked , suddenly starry eyed .

" Wait - " Colby began .

" Treadmills , dancing , rowing machines , arm machines ... " Ellsworth continued down the schedule and list of classes .

" Could you slow down just - " Colby butted in a second time .

" Sauna , steam room , juice bar - "

Wait ! "

What ? ! " Ellsworth hissed at the Vans wearing nuisance who wouldn't stop cutting in .

" We're here to speak with Mr. Terrance . He sent us emails - show him your phone ! - last week to meet with him and we're on time . " the Iowan stated , elbowing his bestie gently .

" Actually , we're five minutes late . " Jimmy added and leaned across the gold flecked black and white marble countertop .

" Next time , don't be late . " Ellsworth huffed as he glanced at the texts .

" What do you mean - next time ? ! "

" He's busy today . Come back tomorrow . . " Ellsworth said coldly and pushed the phone aside .

" We were told to be in this building today and we are , so stop being an icy bitch , call him and say that we're waiting ! " Colby shouted .

" And you'll still be waiting . Return tomorrow . "

" I'm not budging until Terrance is - "

" Then I'll request for security to throw you both out . " Ellsworth interrupted . " Or have the two of you arrested . "

What ? ! What the Hell is your problem ? "

Jimmy caught his friend by the shoulder and moved him out of the way so they could chat privately .

Back on the sidewalk , he lit up and glowered around his nicotine tube .

" We're going in circles and wasting our breath with that shrunken chinned creep . Let's crank call this stupid gym tonight - " he said after one long drag .

" No . " Colby disagreed while they strolled along . " Giving up now means He wins . "

" So , any plans or ideas , sexy ? "

" Hmmmm ... yessss . " Colby beamed when he noticed something at a short distance . " Follow me ! "

They ran down the alleyway and stopped in the tracks at the open double doors , hardly regarded by the workers carrying in boxes .

" Lamento que lleguemos tarde . Permita que nosotros le ayudemos . " the twenty year old commented before lifting a heavy on the arms cardboard container .

Jimmy followed suit , smiling .

" Tyler , you tantalizing piece of sneaky meat . What are we doing ? "

The Iowan laughed at his confused lover .

" It's gay porn . There's always a way to go inside the back entrance . "

Jimmy guffawed with enough force that the cigarette fell from his lips .

And the plastic fork he'd used as a DIY morning comb from his disheveled hair .

Ellsworth fastened more pages together in place with a big silver paper clip .

He sighed and with an aroused grin , focused upon the security cameras live recordings .

Ellsworth looked at the group of television screens - nothing of interest on the top two floors .

He hesitated when observing the ladies aerobics class .

Niiiiiice , he thought while watching their sports bra clad chests jiggling and their bouncing rumps barely covered with little spandex short - shorts .

Grumbling , he took his favorite hand from his crotch and with true regret , he looked at what was taking place outside .

Good . The hired help were unloading and bringing in the recently bought workout equipment with no problem at all ...

Ellsworth sputtered and choked .

His eyes bugged out and the light pink on his cheeks burned red .

He cursed and growled and spat .

His hands reacted by balling into fists and his jaw hurt from clenched teeth .

" Those . Bastards . " he snarled and tapped on his phone .

He wasn't depending on the police when the gym's security was far better .

" Hello , T . D . ? We have some trespassers in the back . "

Ellsworth smirked and raised both eyebrows at the jumping , sweaty broads again .

Those young , smart mouthed , smart ass intruders wouldn't know what hit them once T . D . got a hold of their sorry carcasses .

He never failed .

" Locked . Locked . " Colby shook the handles , in a row , of the three closed doors in front of them . " Annnnnd locked , no surprise , huh ? So now what ? "

" Let's play game show . Pick a door , any door . Uno , Dos , Tres , sexy . "

" You won a brand new carrrrrr ! " Colby said in a sing - song tone of voice .

Jimmy chortled and whipped a bobby pin from the depths of his magenta tipped , jet black mane and began picking locks right away .

" Try this one . " his boyfriend urged and gestured . " I dunno but I thought that I heard some heavy breathing . "

" Your request , my command , . "

Colby groaned , suddenly upside down and sore .

Jimmy squeaked only once before they were hanging by their shirt collars on a polished brass standing coat rack .

The dark haired male spinning a Kendo stick over his scarred head looked more an everyday guy than security to fear - a man that would chug beers with his buddies , go home and kiss his wife , mow the lawn and then help his children put together a pillow fort .

" It occur to you that you'll be arrested for breaking and entering , although first , I'm going to bust your skulls . " Tommy threatened , moving closer .

" We entered , then broke . " jimmy retorted , not taking his eyes from the weapon .

" Yeah , you'll break , alright . Thieving assholes . "

" Uhm ... ' scuse ? " Colby said when the coat rack teetered . " This really wasn't meant support the weight of - ! "

The Iowan grunted , flat on his back , head aching from the floor collision and his lover happily lying on him , Xio's face in Colby's crotch .

Love the scenery . "

" Cut that out ! " Colby warned and nudged Jimmy's feet off of his forehead .

" Got past Ellsworth but it won't happen with me . " Dreamer swore , advancing on the pair .

Colby threw his arms up and astounding him , Jimmy miraculously stopped being defiant and did the same .

" We aren't trying to rob the place or harrass anyone ! Terrance called us days ago to be in his CyberFights and ... "

" Terrance ? CyberFights ? ! " Tommy replied and started laughing . " Stupid turtle Ellsworth . He sics me like an attack dog ... on my students ! "

Your students ? ! "

" Weak ! " Jimmy cried each time that chopped him - Thwak ! - on his chest . " Weeeeeak ! "

" Oh , yeah ? " Colby grumbled at his friend's mirthful grin . " Mix stuff up then , bitch . Show me your best . "

" Ha ! " Jimmy whooped and tugged down his boyfriend's trunks in seconds .

" Gaaaah ! " Colby's complexion went rose around his ears and neck as he readjusted and pulled the black , navy blue and silver ' paint splatter effect ' gear into place over his exposed butt .

" Careful . " Tommy reminded them in a warning . " Softcore means - "

" No genitals on display . We memorized the playbook . " Jimmy told him .

" By heart , honestly . " Colby added .

" Take two . Start over . " Dreamer said , sitting back with a heavenly cold one in hand .

Colby rocketed forward , springing off of the ropes .

Jimmy caught him and heartily , passionately , smacked the taste out of his mouth .

After a few teasing light slaps exchanged to the face , they fell onto the canvas , rolling around kissing and panting .

Dreamer's poker face shattered , glued back together into a smile .

He spit out his chewing tobacco into an empty styro cup , stared , shrugged and guzzled the brown slimy liquid .

Watched the action in total approval .

" I'll drink to that . " Tommy smirked and downed his beer .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

The wide oak desk was cluttered with stacks of papers , a corded speaker phone with caller ID and a combination touch screen tablet - laptop .

And a plate of buttery round crackers with a spray can of processed cheese product seated beside .

The main man in charge was nicknamed Rhyno and a single glance at his build explained why - his broad shoulders , wide chest and tree trunk legs gave him the appearance of a strong , wild beast .

The muscular , burly man rolled his office chair back a few inches on the rectangular rug at his feet , on the walnut flooring .

He shoved aside handfuls of paper clips , erasers and stuffed folders and dug through a battered file cabinet .

" Your pay for yesterday's effort . " Rhyno said , counting out two hundred in fifties apiece for each man .

Colby whistled , sold on his newest temporary job .

" This for goofing around ? Wicked ! "

" Yeah ! I want to get in a second round . " Jimmy agreed immediately .

" Actually , what I was thinking ... I'd like to find out how flexible you two are . "

Colby clamped one hand over his friend's mouth before he got the both of them in trouble .

" Which means ? "

" You'll be doing hardcore tapings . Today . "

" Fabulous ! "

" Unreal , man ! " Jimmy said , the mumbled words garbled thanks to his bestie .

" I'll call the guys in , let you get introduced - "

" Wait ! We signed for this , yeah but to be together . " Colby objected .

" But I'd like to see how you can work - if you can , out of your comfort zone . " Rhyno sighed and continued . " Say you were a talented pianist ... "

The twenty year old kept his hand clamped over Xio's mouth like a pit bull's strong jaws embedded in a steak bone .

The older man grinned into his boyfriend's palm , mischievously and feather soft , ironically licking his Tyler's fate and heart lines .

" Then one day you had to learn to become a guitar player and you did . You studied , practiced , went on tour and excelled . That's what I want my employees to prove to me , their skills . "

Terrance spoke into a walkie - talkie and waited in the doorway with his toes pointed into the hall .

" Sterling Jaaaaames ? If you're not tied up right now - or handcuffed either - head to my office and bring Jenkins with ya . "

Jimmy made a revolted face and eyed his lover questioningly .

You can take Jenkins . I refuse to fuck anyone named Jenkins . "

" Nuh uh ! " Colby disagreed . " Nobody wants Jenkins . "

" Experts , meet the amateurs . " Rhyno said and waved the duo into the room .

Colby couldn't tell Sterling from nerdy name Jenkins but once he caught sight of his lover's heart - eyes expression targeting the long haired brunette with very light blue eyes , he huffed and slouched , folding his arms over his chest jealously and resentful .

The young man with model looks receiving Xio's intrigued , smitten ogling was -

" Guys , this is Jenkins Cole . "

Adam Cole . " the pony tailed male corrected grouchily .

" And this is Sterling James . " Terrance stated , patting an inked shoulder of the eyepatch sporting other man with a solidly gelled Psychobilly pompadour .

Sterling James nodded , his patchwork gray denim vest worn without a shirt beneath shifted when he did .

A diamond speckled , black gold ring swung attached to a braided silk cord looped around his neck .

SJ had tattoos .

Colby lost count but Sterling looked to have the same amount of body art like Sharpei puppies had wrinkles .

" Go on , the four of you get acquainted the way you would if you were making friends before the orifice introduction . Core and AC from PC won't steer you wrong . "

The newcomers sat , mute .

" Awh , Horn Head , did you forget to explain to the newbs about our aliases ? " In good humor , Sterling mock punched Terrance on one thick arm .

" I was building up to it . " Terrance answered , half lying .

" You and your suspense . " Jenkins kidded .

" Shut it , little man . " Rhyno tried to restore seriousness . " Jenkins false  name is Adam Cole or as he says , AC from PC . "

" Panama City . Florida . My birthplace , my home . " Adam informed the newbies .

Jimmy sucked in drool before it dribbled down his chin .

" And me , I'm Corey Graves . "

" Spooky - tacular . " Colby quipped , snickering .

Jimmy rolled his eyes and ' tsk ' ed , snapping his tongue behind his upper teeth .

" Soooooo , yeah - " Terrance proudly looked over his group . " Anything in mind or would you rather I pick your names ? "

" Shit , I don't care . " Colby shook his head . " I'll be Taj Gixx . "

" Alfie Tree , over here and at ... " Xio focused fully on Cole again . " Your service . "

Colby screwed up his mouth as though he'd slurped on straight grapefruit juice .

" Okay , well then , Jenkins , you'll be the ' tour guide ' paired with ... "

Me ! " Jimmy called out eagerly .

Colby's grapefruit had lemon stirred in .

" Huh . Right . So , Sterling , make Taj feel at home . " Rhyno finished .

Jimmy sneered at the ' Hellbilly Deluxe ' when he offered the Iowan a hand and led them from the office .

Corey pointed at the row of metal lockers after reappearing toting a hard plastic cleaning pail in each hand filled with steaming water and floating bars of soap .

Towels and washcloths were draped over both shoulders .

" Clearly , the lockers are for our clothes and this - " Corey gave a bucket , towel and washcloth to Colby . " Is what you'll be scrubbing with after you undress . Not the entire body , just your groin and backside . "

" Reminds me of bathing in Japan etiquette . "

" You've been to Japan ? "

" So far , no . But I've read about it . " the Iowan replied and caught his breath , nearly pinching his own tongue in a thunderstruck chomp when Graves dropped trou .

He was crotch pierced .

And this was no Prince Albert either by any means but a ' ladder ' of rings beginning at two inches underneath the base and ending at five above the head .

" Don't those hurt ? ! How do you wear a condom ? Whoa , they're real , aren't they ? ! " Colby blurted , stammering question after question in stunned awe .

" Can I call you Nosey ? I might like the nickname . " Corey chuckled .

Shit . I am so sorry . You're right about nosy , my family and friends tell me all the time . " Colby blushed .

" No biggie . " Corey shrugged . " Damn , man , I'm amazed that you haven't said a word about the eye patch . "

" Well , I was - " Colby paused , his pink skin scalding brick red in no time .

Graves snickered again and removed the socket covering easily as he had his attire .

Colby gasped and felt extra ashamed .

Corey had a lazy eye .

" Maybe I'll gift you some story time , explaining why I'm working here . "

" Really , I apologize so you don't have to - "

They traipsed through a corridor and halted , leaning against painted brick .

" I met a girl . "

Colby beamed .

" Yes , I saw the ring . "

" Less than two years ago , I was a bouncer for a nightclub not far from here . "

" Cool ! "

The gothabilly male shrugged .

" Positives and negatives . The good - her , my heart . Bad , drunks tend to fight back violently . Now the ugly ... " Corey sighed . " Getting hit dozens of times adds up and causes concussions . . Plus the damage to my face . So I had no choice but to quit and be unemployed . "

" Jeez ! Sorry that happened to you , man . "

" Well , as they say , when one door closes - " Graves smiled and his face , his eyes , his spirit perhaps glowed .

Two simple words .

Real love .

" You got married . " Colby guessed correctly , grinning .

" And more . Our first - a son - is on the way this year . Our heart . "

" Oh . Ohhhhh . Oh ! Damn , giant congrats , man ! " the Iowan cheered , hopping up and down enthusiastically .

" So now maybe this . " Graves nodded at the shut entrance . " Makes more sense . I'll walk through fire , swim through ice water , beg in the streets in a hailstorm to take care of and provide for my family . "

" I understand , no doubts . " Colby agreed .

The atmosphere all but tasted sordid but that may have been true for any part of the adult industry . Hell , even the classiest champagne and lobster ' gentlemans clubs ' felt sleazy .

Much like the Cyber Fights recording room , there were men standing in wait , either holding two thousand dollar camcorders or long boom mics .

The box springs was clean , bedding a simple floral print , the air fresh and the decor yawn inducing plain .

Graves cheerfully massaged Colby's shoulders , making himself a genuine candidate for friendship .

" Action ? "

The twenty year old gulped , breathed , counted to ten .

" Yep . "

" We're ready to roll ! " the cameraman exclaimed and nodded .

" Well , here we go . " Corey said and patted his ' student ' on the back . " Relax , improvise and I'll help out when you need it . "

" Riiiiiight . " Colby exhaled , wiped his sweating hands on the towel just before discarding it and climbing into bed .

They faced one another , on their sides before proceeding the long , drawn out kissing .

Graves licked his face which electrified him , since it was something that Xio would do .

Colby mouthed his way down the inked permanent artwork from the monster faces and nautical stars on his co star's throat to the fire breathing dragons and leering skulls on Corey's chest .

He paused at the royal crown tat , gold , silver and ruby red on Graves stomach and sighed .

Then he moved lower still with little hesitation .

Corey groaned and clutched handfuls of the Iowan's hair , drawing him closer forcefully as Colby sucked on his scrotum first , followed by his multi pierced dick , weaved his tongue in and out of the small golden rings and flicked it over the area between the penis and testicles .

When he had a mouthful , he grimaced and looked to his partner for the help the man had promised .

" Don't . " Corey whispered . " Here , return it to me . "

Colby's eyes widened until his forehead creased when Graves opened his mouth .

He bent and gave the gushing load of sperm back to its owner , nearly spitting the wad of semen down Corey's throat .

The tattooed male spat into a shot glass on the nightstand and gave his co star a promising look .

" Time to ' wrassle ' , champ . " Corey stated , grabbing the lube and putting on a rubber .

" Against me ? Well then , prepare to eat the pinfall . "

" Prepare to be proved wrong . " Corey said in an aggressive tone of voice right before he clamped on the -

" Inverted Boston Crab ? ! " Colby blurted at the sensation of another man's ass touching his own , nude skin pressed against each other's .

" Nah , I'm a Penn man . See how you like takin ' it Pittsburgh style . "

Augh ! " Colby groaned as his partner thrusted , his dick possibly curved backwards . " How are you doing that ? ! "

" I'm floppy and flexible , acrobatic even . " Corey replied , pumping away .

" Your wife is never in a bad mood , huh ? " the Iowan asked , clawing at the sheets .

" As long as I'm home ... no . " Graves said , smirking .

" I ... uhm , hate to interrupt but - auggghhh ! - I'm about to - "

" Already ? ! "

" Hey ! " Colby complained playfully and swatted his partner . " If you were shitty at this , it'd be awhile . "

" Well , kudos to me then . To us . " Corey boasted , pulling out .

" If you decide to not ... er , act as often or stop altogether , you really should try for alternative modeling . "

" Yeah , with my crooked eye and enormous chin . I'd get rejected so fast ... "

" Drop the doubting yourself ! I'm pretty damn sure that every person on the planet has something they don't like about their appearance and besides , you have a woman that loves and married you . So see ? You have some hotness and you're denying it . "

Some . " Graves plunked the used condom into the bedside wastebasket and smiled . " Thanks for the confidence boost , my studly student . "

Colby shrugged and redressed .

" Congrats to you starting a family . "

" Hey , thanks , champion . "

" You have any water ? " Colby asked , all of a sudden . " I'm kind of thir - "

The whites of his eyes showed and he dropped like a brick .

" Shit ! " Graves screamed the moment his co - star face-planted .

The director , cameramen and other males standing around hurried to Colby's aid .

" What the - "

" Is he breathing ? "

" Oh , Hell . "

" No one touch him ! Back up and make room , I've got him . " Terrance commanded .

" DammitdammitShit ! "

Rhyno transported Colby from the filming area to a small sitting room , lugging him like a heavy sack of potatoes and carefully lowered the lightheaded man onto a sofa .

" Stay here and watch him . Send me a text in a hurry if he gets worse . I'll be back asap with some food and beverage . " Rhyno said .

" Sure thing , boss . " Graves answered , sweating a downpour when he looked at the newbie's sealed shut eyelids and pale , cooled skin .

" I'll call an ambulance if he doesn't recover in the next ... ten minutes , tops . "

" How about six max ? I'm scared ! This hasn't happened before , not once ! " Corey yelped , in a panic .

" Relax . I'm pissing myself worried about this kid too but let's not become hysterical and worsen the situation . "

" Okay but ... if he stays the same after eating and rehydrating - or can't eat and drink - I'm taking him to the ER on my own ! "

Ready for our closeup , Mister Delice de Bourgogne . "

Corey smiled feebly when the outsider's eyelids parted and he spoke - something in French that Sterling didn't understand - and the tatted man helped his costar into a seated position .

" Thank Goddesses and Gods that you're over the hump ! "

" The humping is what I've been doing since - hey , where are we ? ! "

" In the basement . You blanked out on us , buddy . "

" I blacked out ? How ironic . " Colby proclaimed wittily , blinking .

" Glad you're still with us and looking healthier than a few minutes ago . " Rhyno returned to the two men and sat the big tray down . " Here ya go . Replenish yourself . Sterling James , don't steal from his plate . "

" Awh no , I won't . " Graves promised .

" The reason you fainted was from your blood pressure plummeting . " Terrance said to Colby .

" Nah , it was his low blood sugar . " Corey argued . " Eating and drinking will fix things . "

" Actually , my reaction happened because I'm not used to being a bottom . " the twenty year old chimed in . " My body couldn't handle the shock and strain . "

" Sterling Jaaames , I've told you time and time again to stretch beforehand ! One day , you'll dick someone to death and then we'll be sued . " Rhyno scolded his top , most trustworthy employee .

Maybe he had faith in the wrong one .

" Don't fire him ! Sure , he made a mistake but so did I by not telling anyone . " Colby pleaded .

" I screwed up big time and I'm sorry . "

" Fiiiiine but keep in mind , I allow one strike , not three before you're cut loose for good . "

Colby drank Vita Coco with pineapple and regular bottled spring water , munched on a hard-boiled egg , string cheese and a piece of dark chocolate .

The second day in a row he had to be revived with a meal and beverage .

Mortifying like premature ejaculation .

Well ... maybe not that embarrassing .

His head had long since quit spinning , he was steady on his feet and his breathing and heart rate were normal once more .

" Rest here and I'll check on you again after the other movie scenes complete . " Rhyno said , waved and was out the door .

" ' Kay , thanks . " Colby said and felt cozy - comfortable .

Until he remembered ...

Xio ! " he shouted and was through the doorway in a flash .

" Who the fuck is Xio ? " Corey wondered , zooming after him .

The coffee table was stacked with little hills of Cosmo and GQ , Revolver and High Times , Lucky Peach and Rue Morgue issues .

The Michigan born and raised young adult found a copy of Candy , the transversal magazine in the entertainment literature mountain and sat back , legs crossed impetuously .

" So , anything in particular you like ? " AC asked , cleaning his earbuds .

" My boyfriend . My cats . " Jimmy answered without hesitation . " You . "

Adam blushed and kept busy with his portable music player , hoping his hands weren't trembling .

" I meant , more like hobbies ... fun activities . "

" That'd be my boyfriend again . He's the best amusement . " Xio replied slyly .

" Uh ... okay . Favorite song ? Genre of music ? "

" The original late seventies Muppet Show theme and all the lyric variations . " Jimmy answered truthfully .

" Huh . " Adam smiled at the eccentric man . " The deck stacked in my favor and my boss sends me a wild card . "

AC introduced his co - star to the same hot water , soap , bucket and other supplies much like Graves had with his new partner .

" I'll be across from you , so if you need something , yell . "

" What about - "

" Yeah ? " AC asked at the sudden pause .

" I ... have a secret . " Jimmy took a deep breath and went ahead with his partial dishonesty , removing the rolled - up sock from his pants and released the clothing item , watching it descend to bare pink toes .

" Ohhhhh , I understand ! " Adam smiled , completely misunderstanding . " Grower , not a shower , correct ? "

Xio could not tell such a beautiful face that he was wrong .

So he lied once more .

More than once .

" Yes . My pre - fake dick - ament . How can I hide this when we're ... uhm ... working ? "

" Just stay covered . Sheets over your lower bod up to your navel , if you want . won't bitch about it , ' long as he gets some shots of ass and dick . That's what draws the views and earns the big money . "

Carousel animal representation in their intimacy .

Slippery hands sliding yet managing to keep a strong grip .

The pole , warmed and moistened .

An up and down motion that took one's breath away and accelerated their heartbeats .

AC stroked the face down head jouncing between his spread legs .

The underwear had bewildered him at first glance .

The blue and black diagonal striped banana hammock had next to nothing girlish about it , no ribbons or lace , ruffles or frills , no pastels .

But something about the cut of the material seemed feminine .

Adam shrugged it off and kept on keeping on , thrusting horizontally into Jimmy's throat .

Deceitful and curious , he put both hands inside the back of his co - star's underwear , squeezed and did some exploring .

Hey Stop ! "

" I'm only havin ' fun . Relax . "

" No . No . I did not agree to anal penetration . Take your beautiful fingers far from my ass . " Jimmy snarled .

" But - Whoooof ! "

" WhattheHellareyoudoingyoustupidkid ? ! " Terrance screamed and charged the younger man , bowling him over .

Ouch ! " AC groaned , picking himself off of the floor , crawling back on the bed and with bulging , ice blue eyes locked on Colby , he sprayed a gory crimson mist in the Iowan's direction .

" Daaaaaamn . " Xio gasped . " Sexy vampire . "

" He said no . He told you to stop and when a lady says that , you stop , asshole ! " Colby growled .

Lady ? ! " Adam yelped , wiping his bright red chin .

Lady ? " Rhyno heaved his bulk from totally pinning Colby .

Lady ? ! " Corey glanced at Jimmy , skeptically .

" Tyler , what have you done ? ! " Jimmy fussed .

" You broke my jaw , ignorant , out of control jerk ! " AC spat .

" I didn't kick you that hard . " Colby narrowed his eyes . " Yet . "

" Terrance , he's threatening me . " Adam whined .

" Both of you , quit it and shut up . Stop adding on to my headache and give me time to think . Okay , bring me a flashlight . Now ! " Terrance looked at his assistants .

A thread of light shone into open mouth .

Rhyno huffed .

" Looks okay . You bit your tongue , Jenkins , that's all . Take the rest of the week off . I'll double your pay . Head upstairs and enjoy the Jacuzzi but swish your mouth out first with warm saltwater . Tell my crew , they'll deliver whatever you ask for . "

Adam scowled at Colby .

" I'm ordering sirloin and red wine and Dragon rolls . "

Rhyno smiled .

" Go ahead . Run your little butt upstairs . Hurry up ! "

" I'll check on him , in case the blood loss doesn't clot . " Corey said and jogged after Adam .

" Now - " Terrance frowned at his recent employees . " You're finished . I'm through with both of you for causing commotion and ruining what I work for . "

" He was defending me , protecting me from further groping . " Jimmy said , standing firm and unmovable beside his boyfriend .

" I can sue you for physically assaulting and injuring one of my staff . "

" You said he's not hurt . " Colby responded , fearlessly and stubborn . " And not only will sue you since my friend could have been raped and I lost consciousness but report your underground skanky movies being made by scamming and tricking wrestlers into making raunchy adult films ! "

" Jeeez . " Rhyno blinked and faltered . He glanced at Jimmy . " Guy has a backbone and a big set , don't he ? "

" Yeah , he does . He's a fighter for doing what's good for people and you couldn't force me from his side . Never . "

The burly man exhaled and gave in .

" Since today's events were a bit of a double whammy for you guys , how about take the day off tomorrow ? And you'll get two hours of any gym equipment use that you'd like - excluding the restricted areas , that is . " Rhyno suggested .

" Only two measly hours isn't a workout , it's a warm - up . " the Iowan countered .

" Just for today . " Terrance retorted . " I prefer my employees to work , not depend solely on ' handouts . ' Deal ? "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Life was good . Colby had eaten the ' Hungry Elvis ' brunch special , peanut butter and banana pancakes with dark chocolate coated bacon stirred into the batter .

He and his boyfriend had the entire day off and three grand apiece in their wallets .

A bottle of champagne stood in a small metal bucket of ice at poolside .

His entire body was stretched out and relaxing on an Ouija planchette shaped black pool float .

In an massive , unbelievable indoor salt water pool lit by multi colored lighting fit for a VIP nightclub .

Jimmy drifted past him , happily lounging on an inflatable in the shape of a giant round pizza .

They were getting celeb treatment in a luxury gym .

They were young , living it up in the East Village and being paid big bucks to have sex .

Life was good .

" I need my Pina Colada smoothie refilled . "

" Then get it on your own , lazy . "

The older male scooped water into one palm and tossed the liquid , splashing his friend's face .

Dammit ! " the twenty year old's eyes bulged .

Xio shook his empty milkshake glass .

" While you're at it , bring me a crispy fish taco slider too . And some sour cream and onion cashews . "

Colby glowered but remained silent as he paddled back to poolside , reaching for a towel .

Jimmy sighed , lengthy and blissful , closed his eyes and relaxed , awaiting his snacks and being waited on by the hottest cabana boy - no , man - in history .

All his and tastier than the gourmet grub .

He jumped , yelping when something poked him in the back .

Aaaaaahhh shit ! " he shrieked , arm flailing a waste of motion since he capsized anyhow .

Below the floatie , he scowled at Colby who grinned before spitting water straight into his face .

Gotcha . "

The duo laughed all the way to the shallow end , taking turns chasing each other .

So so good .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" I'll meet you later . I'm off to Screaming Mimi's ! "

" You're going to waste money at a costume shop ? ! "

" No . " Jimmy placed one finger on top of Colby's lips . " I'll be spending cash at a vintage clothing store . "

His lover exhaled over Xio's black glitter lacquered fingernail .

" Whatever . Well , don't try and talk me into wearing disco garb and hippie ensembles . "

" Tyler , you don't know by now , I only try and get you out of clothing ? ! "

" You're my one of a kind , New York Doll . Have fun . "

" I'll do just that , Tye - Tye . "

The Iowan laughed , kissed and waved at his friend before they walked in opposite directions .

He strolled past a florist , a candle and incense laden New Age shop and an authentic deli where people dipped spoons into borscht and drank egg creams .

Across the traffic crowded street , men and women alike snapped photos , pushed strollers holding either children or small dogs , recited poetry at tea shops and got pedicures while their hairdos dried under heat lamps .

Colby paused at the sight and sound of a somewhat scantily clad punk rock red haired woman laughing wildly at the sign lettering above .

Glass shards and pieces of mirror glued were glued to a sign made out of a hood from a bona fide Yellow Cab .

They spelled out - BORKEN .

She cradled a scruffy mixed breed dog with a under bite in her tattooed arms .

" The brothers - " she nodded at the twenty year old . " Are at it again . Well , one anyway . Aren't siblings awful ? "

Colby shrugged and grinned , sheepish and baffled .

" I'm an only child , soooooo ... "

There were a few pricier items in one display window which made pause but the five to twenty five dollar tees sign was a relief for upcoming credit card stress .

The red haired woman was behind the counter , at the register and talking to a man with a weird skunk striped , ' I stuck my finger in an outlet ' hairdo .

" He did it again ! Climbed the ladder and switched the lettering - "

" To what ? "

" Borken . "

Borken ? ! What does he think our store is , a frikkin ' Haagen Dazs ? ! "

" He broke your Broken , Matty - Matt - Matt - Matt . " the woman giggled .

" Oh , Jeffro . " her grumpy sibling muttered and frowning , rubbed the stress lines on his creased forehead . " Jeffrey , Jeffrey , Jeffrey , you little snot . "

" I'll yell at him this time . "

" No , twin brother is more my responsibility than yours , Lita . Do you know where he's hiding ? "

The woman nodded .

" In the back storage room , with his music on and painting . "

" Ah , damn it ! He knows better than to have paint near the merchandise ! "

Colby was so caught up in the family drama soap opera , he followed them without a second thought .

The bizarrely dressed siblings glared at the third grown child , up on the very top of the ladder in a back bent yoga position that looked both complex and painful .

Acrylic and watercolor had altered the walls and ceiling , vibrant hues speckled on white cloth tarps that had been hung for a barrier to keep the merchandise clean .

And the artist in his own world was painting , swirls and dripping hand prints , alien bodies with skeletal fingers and stick like arms , strange human faces with blank , white eyes and screaming expressions .

Nero ! " the dark haired male , his attire and hairstyle like a CBGB Beethoven or a Trash and Vaudeville Einstein , shouted . " You jerk ! You nuisance ! "

" Whaaaa ? " the artist asked in a whiny yawn .

Colby looked from the sister to the oddest brother .

They wore nearly identical outfits - super baggy neon purple and black pants with lots of straps and fishnet sleeveless tops ( hers white with a black bra underneath and his bright turquoise . )

Her hair color was fire and flames , a mane rainbow , red , orange and yellow at the front with blue , green and purple in long strands on the sides and back .

" Don't screw up our sign anymore . " Matt grumbled the warning .

" I was borrrrred . "

" Then play with your crayons , the pastel chalk , build another metal sculpture ... just quit messing up things out front ! "

Lita interrupted .

" Please ? And after today , find somewhere else to create your artwork , otherwise we won't have anything to sell . "

Jeff smiled agreeably .

" Okay . "

The brunette brother chuckled and steepled his fingers together .

Splendid ! "

Colby bit his lower lip to silence the laugh creeping up in his throat , backed away from spying and returned to perusing what was for sale .

He glanced at the gold and green velvet Shrine brand ballet dress , assorted vintage concert tees , Pleaser red Electra thigh high boots and discount bin nautical star shoelaces before feeling like waving the white flag , calling it quits near Black Flag patches sewn onto frayed denim .

Nothing qualified as right , not vampire bat shaped earrings , rainbow hued wigs and safety pin festooned PVC jackets .

Then he saw The One .

It called to him , high end polyester , synthetic leather and ripped mesh netting , buckles , zippers and a built in vest .

Colby stood in front of the red and black Goth and fetish jacket , hardly breathing upon finding this treasure that came with a one hundred and fifty dollar price tag guaranteed to create a lightheaded and empty wallet sensation .

" I'd like to buy this , please . " he said , gesturing at Matt . " It's fantastic and I cannot exit this store without it . "

" Okay , let's see ... " Matt thumped the hanging paper price tag so that it twirled in circles . " That'll be one hundred and seventy dollars and twenty five cents . "

" But it says - " the Iowan began .

" Added tax and we throw in a garment bag but you get charged for it . "

" Oh . " Colby crimsoned and rubbed the back of his neck . " Well , yeah , that makes sense . "

While cash was counted out and fanned onto the front counter beside a wide , shatter proof glass cube shaped display case , Lita smirked at the bodyguard .

" I feel like some music . Hey , Big Man , how about some music ? "

The sulking giant's long face darkened to a cranberry tint .

" You do this to me every time ! "

" Oh , whine , whine . Moan and groan . Go ahead and bitch . It's only a few days in a year and fuuuuunnnn . "

" Fun for you . " the moody titan pointed out . " Me , far less . "

Lita grinned and ignoring his objections , swapped the grunge era tune ready to go on the store's sound system for a song familiar to many people and played without fail every Halloween in the United States .

" You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes, You're paralyzed ... "

Like a Jack in the Box , a scalp crowned with a length of mane shaded with Autumn leaf and carved pumpkin hues appeared somehow over the closed and latched door .

He burst from the stall , crooning that upset the eardrums .

The jovial young man's nature was good , his singing was anything but .

" Our song , Bear ! " he whooped . " Our song ! "

The sullen behemoth shot a perturbed glare in Lita's direction and was grinned at by the punk sibling trio gobbling popcorn and nodding along to the beat .

" Yeah , Boss . It's our song . " he agreed with the living , breathing example of Opie Taylor wearing Billy Idol's onstage garb .

" You hear the door slam and realize there's nowhere left to run . "

He kicked the changing room's door behind him shut and his protector chuckled as comedic , hyperactive gyrating ensued .

 

            "    '   Cuz  this  is  Miller   !         Miller  night     !        "   

 

The copper topped stranger's dance moves were equal to his singing - dreadful - but funny and with the colossal , dour hired muscle by his side , nobody dared to crack a smile .

" You feel the cold hand and wonder if you'll ever see the sun . There's no escaping the jaws of the alien this time . " the adorable goofball belted out and after minutes more of caterwauling , hip shaking and backside bouncing , he trotted to the back of the store with his charmed guardian not leaving his side .

" Seriously cool ! Who is that guy ? " asked , whispering so he wouldn't be used for Big Man's punching bag .

" He does the instrumentals on the Fight of the Living Dead and Werewolf Mania movies . "

" Musical talent , huh ? "

" Mmmm hmmm . One of the most sought after musicians that create scores for horror films . " Lita grinned .

" And his bodyguard , obviously . He who always frowns . " the Iowan joked .

" Yep . "

The small dog played tough at her Docs clad feet , barking , lunging and snapping his teeth .

" Pastrami Rye , hush ! "

The little mutt whined at his female owner before growling a second time at the stranger .

" It's okay . My dogs are - " Colby lowered a hand to measure . " About ankle high themselves and they believe that they're the meanest , scariest bad - asses in our neighborhood . "

Lita giggled and moved the canine out of the way and into a foldable plastic playpen behind the counter .

" Mine hardly ever threatens anybody but he's as big as a pony so maybe he knows it's pointless . " the redhead said , jogging up front with his morose protection right behind , carrying a tower of clothes in his large , inked arms .

" He sits on you , Boss . And then my Great Dane copies him . " the tall male actually smiled fully and genuine . " It's amazing that you're not a pancake after . "

" The usual ? " Matt smiled and began adding and sorting the green paper presidents .

" Uhm hmm . And this . " the goofy , fun loving red haired male climbed up his bodyguard's back , startling the larger man in to statue - like motionlessness and replaced his Leviathan cross knit cap with a phases of the moon baseball cap style topper .

Lita chortled and loaded boxes and garment bags , handed over change after the sale .

" Watch out and be careful of weirdos out there . "

The overprotective and clearly infatuated giant glanced at Matt's wide eyes , burst of hair and his toothy grin , then at Lita's thong and bra showing and last , Jeff with his soaked in Manic Panic tresses , squinting into a mirror and applying glow in the dark makeup to draw eyes atop his eyelids .

The smitten , fascinating singer laughed into his ear .

The Iowan reeled back and lurched , confounded .

The silly , hilarious singer had fangs .

Just like a vampire's .

Colby gulped and froze in place behind a card table blanketed with cheap , solid color tees for layering .

" We are the weirdos , mister . " the redhaired rock star proclaimed in reply and his big man looked at him approvingly .

" What ... the Hell ... was that ? ! "

   Jeff folded his hair in the back and looped it into a technicolor man - bun .

" Vampire role playing . " he replied with a knowing , smug look on his painted features .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Okay ! " Rhyno clapped his hands and motioned to the cameramen . " We're rolling ! Guys working it , take your time and don't let me down . Guys filming , do not forget to zoom in . "

Colby moved at a pace that wasn't sloth but couldn't compete with a racehorse either .

Tulip patterned sheets masked the fact that ' just one of the guys ' had natural female parts below .

" Relax and breathe . " Corey advised , behind him on the bed and his ring laden dick already whipped out . " Think of the fun , not the pressure . "

The Iowan smiled back , grateful and the penetration of his lover reminded him of ice skating , sledding , gliding over fresh white snow .

Except there was no cold , nothing freezing , just warmth and heat and moaning from his boyfriend every time that the insertion stroked the folds and small , hot bump , inside and out , simultaneously .

" Oh , fuck ! " Xio screeched , clawing at his lover and digging Lapis blue nails into Colby's flesh .

" Yessssss , baby . " the younger man spoke , gliding in and then out , his hard on swelling the more it was within flesh that eagerly accepted him .

" I love you . " Jimmy groaned .

" Same here . " His Tyler replied , panting .

The older male laughed when he wasn't quivering .

" You love yourself ? "

" Well , errrr ... not . " Colby snickered and blushed . " Don't make me crack up , crazy ! I'm having enough trouble keeping the condom on right now without falling off of the bed , guffawing . "

Without having to look , he could tell that Cole and Graves were holding in laughter as they kept on beating their meat .

Even Rhyno was cracking up in his huge director's chair .

" Cut , CUT ! " he ordered loudly , face practically plum hued .

He shook his big head and grinned with pride , thumbs up to the actors .

" Four of a kind , I swear . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Garment bag in hand , he passed by an unremarkable and at first glance , empty store .

Until he saw the black and brown , short haired toy breed clawing on the glass of the shut entrance door .

The shop didn't appear open for business so he chose to politely knock and politely step inside .

The Iowan snickered . His padres adoptivos were an over eleven hour drive away and yet , their manners that he'd been taught still affected him .

" Hi , tough boy . You're chasing burglars from this place ? " Colby asked , scratching the Min Pin behind his upright , cropped ears .

A bell rang overhead and the tiny canine looked up , alert and panting the way dogs did that made them look like they were smiling .

Someone whistled to the small dog and the same female voice called out .

" Naka , we have a customer ! "

The twenty year old was mystified . The Min Pin cradling businesswoman wasn't his type but head spinning gorgeous nevertheless .

His past half bleached mane couldn't compete with her bright pink and green locks , either strawberry or watermelon replica , thought .

He lowered his gaze to catch a quick peek at the top of her chest and when his eyes lifted , a glare met his sight .

The presumably jealous and watchful , protective and wary male smiled - slowly - and long curls on the unshaven side of his head tumbled over his forehead to his throat .

" Your dog is cool . " Colby said , aiming to decrease the tension , his fault for ogling a chick with excellent cleavage .

A skirt with a hot bod .

woman with a beautiful face .

lady with a lovely smile .

She was the sort of woman who would chuckle while kicking the crap out of another person - and they'd love it .

Aaaaaaahhh .

" Oh , he's not ours . We're caring for him while his owner is in Canada . " the woman commented .

" One of my best friends . " her ' Naka ' added , giving the Miniature Pinscher a belly rub . " Same face ! "

The little canine ' smiled ' , tongue lolling and the enthusiastic , dark haired man grinned back at him .

Colby had no clue if he meant the dog or the bestie and wasn't about to pry .

Okay , lips zipped . Purchases awaited him .

There were many Great Wave and Sumo noren in the corners and a table close to overflowing with Shogi boards , calligraphy kits and Lucky Cat figurines to his right side .

Dangling above his left shoulder , green and purple koinobori and patterned chochin lanterns .

In front of the main counter and register stood Kawaii excess - racks of Totoro , Pokemon and Hello Kitty keychain charms beside packets containing red bean cookies , melon soda caramel corn or green apple Pocky .

No .

No .

No no no .

None of this was right for him .

Nothing that he wanted .

That he couldn't live without .

With head lowered and ready to walk out empty handed , he ran into another table .

And gasped when the paper scroll landed and unrolled at the toes of his sneakers .

" Wha - what are these ? "

" It says Happy Birthday in kanji . Customers can pick their message and I paint them . " the man , ' Naka ' , replied .

" Any message or words ? " Colby asked , holding the paper closer to examine the kanji .

Naka glanced at his co - worker and turned his face this way and that to avoid the small dog's joyous licks .

" Nothing obscene please , but most phrases and sentences are okay . "

" Hmmmm ... now my problem is that I don't understand these symbols so I'd need them translated . "

The woman with a cute but evil grin and two toned hair reappeared carrying a thick hardbound book .

" For twenty five dollars , this will help you decipher them all . "

" Why make one sale when you can earn several , correct , Kana ? " her now Min Pin slobber drenched partner teased . " Intelligent Asuka , always outsmarting us . "

The shrunken Dobie duplicate wriggled his butt and yipped .

" I do not mind people seeking information positively to expand their minds , my Guardian Angel . "

Colby felt the sensation of the backs of his ears warming .

He'd guessed right at long last .

They were those kind of partners .

" I'd love one of these ! How much ... ? "

" Two for the small size , three for medium and five for large with each kanji , ten cents , twenty and thirty . " nodded at the biggest scroll , almost a full six foot long roll of paper . Because I use so much paint and ink . "

" I'll take a small . " the twenty year old said , excited as he thumbed through the huge book . " And I know just what I want it to say . "

Exiting the store , snacking on Glico salad pretz and delighted by his haul of gifts and souvenirs , on a whim he trekked straight to the tattoo parlors .

Now to find one that took walk ins .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" I finished the sketch . If this isn't what you requested , I can mix some shit up real fast . " the Eminem carbon copy said , that is if Mathers had Lucky Charms marshmallows inked on his neck in pastel hues and pinup girl acrylic plugs in his stretched earlobes .

" Ah , no . It's exactly what I wanted ! " Colby scooted his backside to the front of the black imitation leather chair , admiring the drawing of home - the state of Iowa with a realistic heart in the center and two big Valentine's style hearts on the outside .

The double hearts contained his parents names .

The anatomical heart , his birth mother's .

Ending with the word ' Forever ' in bold black font above the artwork , he beamed in complete awe .

" And these kanjis as well ? " Mathers possible twin made double sure . " Integrity , respect , courage , honor , compassion , honesty and loyalty ? "

" Yes ! Just like I wrote them ... uhm , them . Straight down my back in a row . "

" Spine line . " the bleached blond artist said and guffawed , tattoo ' gun '  in hand . " Cool , man . "

The Iowan took a gigantic , scared breath , lay back and let the buzzing - and bleeding - begin .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Thanks for the coat . " Xio pulled the cotton lining , polyester and synthetic leather closer around his torso , a goth garb cocoon .

The couple sat in their favorite vinyl booth in the diner open twenty four hours a day .

Black and white tiles and a jukebox were fun additions to the fries and shakes scented place they claimed as a ' second home . '

" The Punk Rave brand Vampire Lord jacket . " Colby corrected and patted the black slim fit material on his legs . " And thank you for the faux leather pants . I get a kick out of seeing peoples reactions every time that my ass squeaks . "

" Does the same thing after you've eaten lima beans and brussels sprouts . " Jimmy quipped and his boyfriend soon learned how incredibly painful a malted felt shooting out of his nostrils when he laughed .

Bitch . " the Iowan chuckled , grabbing a napkin from the dispenser .

" Foodie . " his lover snickered , waving a hand over the mostly emptied plates with only crumbs and slight remains of their midnight meal left .

" Hey , I got to eat a salmon BLT ! That's like a dream came true ! " the younger man exclaimed proudly while authentic cheesecake , Greek spinach pie and coconut shrimp spring rolls digested inside his body .

" Foodie . " the afab male repeated and smirked lovingly . " Speaking of came or come , a gal could have an orgasm in here . "

Colby sat aside his beverage , not willing to risk nostril ache by snotting chocolate melted ice cream milk a second time .

" Fakin ' it , hmmmm ? "

" You're wearing leave little to the imagination , black imitation leather pants that bought for you . Real , always real . "

Always ? " Colby leaned across the table and thumped his female boyfriend's fake barbed wire necklace so the chain links swung back and forth .

" Well ... " Jimmy left a five and some change next to the ketchup bottle , for a tip . " Let's go back to the crappy little motel room and test drive that theory . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

The older man beamed after drying his hair , tiny bathroom steamed up foggy .

He stood next to his Tyler in the micro excuse for a kitchen and gave him the odd little side hug that the younger man had grown used to and the older was known for .

" You're cooking ? The motel has a free breakfast , . "

" Watery eggs and burnt bacon . Dollar store cereal . " Colby complained , checking on the meal heating on the portable travel indoor griddle . " And we can't stop to eat or we'll miss our flight . "

" Sorry , Tye - Tye . Next time , we'll upgrade and stay in a hotel . Luxury suite . " Jimmy promised .

" The money we've been making ? " the Iowan smirked . " we will ! "

" Four fingers and a thumb , man . "

Yeah ! " The younger man laughed and gave his FTM partner a high five .

Black cloth of the yukata robe slipped from one shoulder , exposing a few of the kanjis and wrist ink .

" Tyler ! Are those tattoos ? " Xio stared at the state of Iowa artwork first , then the symbols down his boyfriend's spine .

" Yes and do not tell my parents . They'll find out on their own ... eventually and then things will get shitty . "

" They wouldn't disown you , would they ? " Jimmy asked , concerned before sawing a fork through his omelet .

" Nah . " Colby bit into a piece of bacon , passed the jelly and toast and guzzled orange juice over ice . " They'll freak and call me a Hell Raiser for a little while but not blow their tops about what I did . "

" If yours get mad at you , mine won't be too thrilled either . " the older man said , unwrapped the beach towel cover-up and let it fall , flashing his boyfriend , full frontal .

" Woah ! Those aren't clip on , are they ? " his lover wondered , gawking at the little silver hoops , one small ring through each of Xio's nipples .

" They are not . Put your back in your and pick your jaw up off of the floor , Tye - Tye . " Jimmy smirked .

" You are ... something else . " Colby grinned , shaking his head .

" Ready to leave yet ? " his partner asked , sipping milk .

The twenty year old smiled , rolled a clean napkin into a ball and tossed it at his bestie .

" Home , James . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Colby placed a gift basket full of macarons , bagels and lox , black and white cookies , jars of green olives , orange blossom honey and tomato pesto on the kitchen's main countertop .

" Down , mutts . " he commanded Perro and Shun , leaping and yapping at his feet . " I didn't forget you . "

He opened the clear plastic wrapped toys , braided ropes and squeaker - free plush animals , large meaty knuckle bones and fuzzy neon tennis balls .

The dove at their treasures , growling happily as their furry stub tails wagged .

" You brought us quite a bit of food . " Raul said , inspecting the wicker basket's gourmet contents .

" I swear that I had a cheesecake too , Dad ! Someone sat on it during the flight back . " his son frowned .

" This is plenty . " Sofia unpacked the treats , smiling .

" Yeah , maybe but this is yours also . " Colby replied , putting the divided wad of green , six grand for each , in their hands . " Payment for your work , dedication and kindness . You deserve it too , having to deal with me . "

" What is - this is ... " Raul stammered .

Twelve thousand dollars ? ! " Sofia embraced her son until he wriggled to breathe . " Nuestro hijo . Our caring , wonderful , thoughtful grown man . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Colby slept peacefully , the dogs snoring on the end of his bed and no nightmares disturbed him .

He was one step at a time , discovering what he was capable of in life and the dreams and hopes that he had awaited him on the horizon .

Chapter Text

 

Las Vegas , Nevada - Spring of 2006 :

Tick ... tick ... tick ...

Brrrrriiiiiiiiiiing !

The form under the covers made a noise as well . Loads of obscenities . Jingling sold separately .

BRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIING !

When the ear splitting sound continued , two middle fingers jutted out from below the bedding , retreated and another long body part took their place .

Not a finger .

Not a thumb either .

A bare butt dropped to floor level and one foot kicked out and back , like an angry mule , sending the old fashioned alarm clock spinning and crashing onto a dusty wooden surface .

Jon snarled , then regretted it , cradling the battered and now silent clock .

Now he'd have to buy another - Hell , just finding one at the thrift stores and trash digging was hard enough - because the electronic modern clock radios didn't have those cool bells on the top he liked that resembled boobies with perfectly perky nips .

He smirked at the destroyed object and gave it a small pat .

" Sorry . "

Since he'd taken a nap after a late breakfast , there wasn't much to do at his residence .

 Tee tugged down over his tired face and loosely tucked inside denim on his legs ,  underwear that astonishingly had few holes in them -  outfit of the day , every day and night ,

Jon coughed and dust clumps - filthy little tumbleweeds of nastiness and germs - rolled directly in front of his toes .

A new family of roaches had moved in , skittering up the walls .

He glared , grabbed the few purchased at the dollar store cleaning items he owned and prepared for a fight .

The young man paused .

He had forgotten ... something .

Well , duh ! Music !

He fiddled with the grimy knobs on the old boom box , zoning in on the local country music station .

I've never seen a night so long , when time goes crawling by ...

Jon scowled , cringed and turned the knob around and around .

" Dammit , Hank ! " he cursed , pleading aloud . " Thought we were friends , man and you put that depressing shit in my face . "

Oooooohhhh , harrrrrrrrrrrrd rock 'n ' roll !

The young man did some head banging , played air guitar with the broom and smacked insects from the furniture , spritzed neon blue chemical liquids on the glass windows gone brown from neglect and smiled , dancing around .

" My knife , it's sharp and chrome . Come see inside my bones - "

He sang , bouncing on the mattress and kicking old clothing aside .

" So , go get your knife , now kiss me ! "

The golden brown haired , blue eyed and energetic male planted a big smooch on the wall mirror , then grimaced , gagged and spat .

Okay , next time , don't place your lips on the glass unless it's after you Windex it , idiot !

He chuckled at his error made from hyper giddiness .

Hope would've laughed too .

Then she'd check to find out if he wasn't hurt or sick , worrying about him -

Shit .

Now he was miserable again .

He hopscotch jumped down the stairs of the former staff apartment and sprinted across the grounds of the defunct amusement park , heading directly to the water slide slide and wave pool section .

Jon peered carefully at each flooded area , full to the brim with sludgy , moss green water speckled thick with mosquito egg casings , until he noticed the beady , watchful eyes just above the scummy surface .

" Hey , big man ! Rise and shine , huh ? " the young adult bellowed , grinning as the six foot alligator trudged sleepily and crawled slowly from the closest equivalent to a murky wetland that the deserts in Nevada would ever have , perhaps .

Jon nudged the gator with a boot toe , encouraging yet impatient .

" Move out , Suitcase ! I gotta drain and refill your favorite swimming hole . It stinks and your big behind in my way isn't helping ! "

Suitcase plodded along , sloth pace and the reptile's wide tail swishing before sinking down into another deep , dark basin - years ago used for the swan shaped paddle boats .

" Good boy . " his human pal nodded , flicking the On switch for the septic pump .

The solitude of living in a defunct , run down theme park meant he could strip his soiled clothes off outside , with not a soul to peek at his nudity .

So he did , no hesitation .

Weekly fun and the thrill of never knowing if and when a rusted coaster track would loosen , plummet and flatten him .

Jon ran upstairs , looking forward to a shower .

He'd left the radio on - being busy with chores had kept him from remembering to turn it off - and he hummed along with one of his ' fantasy girlfriend's ' pretty voice .

Dolly sang and he was her scarred and sleepy backup singer , until he shook away the brain cobwebs and registered what the song happened to be .

Oh .

Hell .

No .

Light Of A Clear Blue Morning .

Their song .

Hope's and his .

The one they'd sang on the road , driving away from the fire blazing inside the brothel .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

His hands were blistered from the weight of the bolt cutter proof chains he'd swathed the pimp in , true ' heavy metal ' mummy wrap .

And his throat was sore , eyes also stinging while he inhaled gasoline fumes inside the sealed tight bedroom .

But he couldn't dare crack a window like he had in all of the whores' bedrooms .

Jon didn't want them harmed .

They didn't deserve to burn .

The pimp did .

The tween eased back into the long hallway - faded carpet , peeling wallpaper and mouse crap galore - as soundlessly as a feather spiraling to the ground .

Thankfully , from what he could hear , everyone of the adults were still asleep .

So was Hope , beneath the clutter of picked from the dumpsters blankets and cased pillows , on the worn gym mat .

Sleeping on the floor , rag doll in her arms .

Damn .

No place - no way - for a kid to live , a baby still in his POV .

Not for him either and he was nearing the becoming a teenager finish line .

" Hope ? You gotta get out of bed now . I know it's early but ... " Jon looked through the threadbare sheets used for curtains at the approaching sunrise while trying to think up a reason or excuse .

She blinked , yawned , frowned and blinked again .

" Mox - Olly ? Is it breakfast right now ? "

He chuckled at the peculiar , funny nickname she'd gave him . She was hungry almost around the clock , his growing girl .

" Well , not yet . But I thought we'd have snacks and drive around . "

" Really ? ! " the little girl squeaked before mulling it over with a scowl . " We can't do that though , can we ? "

Hope slouched against the wall behind her and a fly buzzed above her golden dandelion hair .

Jon reacted with a swift swat , knocking the insect across the tiny room .

" Suuuuuure we can ! " he smiled and picked up the girl . " If you can get your teeth brushed and use the toilet in the next few minutes . "

Hope beamed , hugging him back , so talented that she didn't drop her doll .

" Are the grownups going too , Mox - Olly ? "

" Nah , maybe next time . See , we're going to drive far away from here and ... " the young man paused and faked some believable sighing . " They won't have time to quit working today and travel with us . "

" Oh , okay . " his bestie replied , shrugging .

" ' Kay , teeny bean . Shoo ! Hurry up so we can get out of here before they wake up . "

While she was preoccupied , the tween began packing for their escape .

Since they were lacking in luggage , he stuffed their clothing into drawstring top garbage bags , troubled by seeing easily that everything they owned combined was hardly anything at all .

Okay . Fine . He'd buy her extra stuff on the road . She was entitled to clean clothes without holes and stains , unbroken toys that would cost over a dollar and a place to sleep not shared with bedbugs and rodents .

And him , he thought , awkward and suddenly red faced . Jon wouldn't leave her side as long as he lived but being that close was uncomfortable and wrong .

" J.G. , why are you taking our things ? "

He jumped , startled by her voice unexpectedly behind him , turned and smiled .

" Oh , just in case . You don't want people stealing any of it while we're gone , would you ? "

" Nuh uh ! "

The young man snickered and nodded at the scattered junk in the room .

" Whatever is important and that you like most , we'll take with us and leave the garbage , ' kay ? "

The little girl's brow furrowed .

" How long are we going away ? " she asked , squatting beside him and helping shove socks , tees and mittens into the crinkled black bags .

" Even though we're leaving today , where we'll be going is in another state but we should make it there tomorrow . "

After they went outside , standing by the pimp's ' plain ' car , as opposed to the flashy , gaudy Cadillac the mid thirties male usually drove , the tween handed her snacks and a juice box from the past midnight fridge raid .

Hope crunched on the cinnamon raisin granola and sipped apple juice , watching her only friend hot - wire the station wagon in less time than it took to sneeze .

He loaded their belongings into the trunk , shoved the stolen wad of green in the knotted mess of rubber bands in the glove compartment and buckled Hope into her booster seat .

" My arms ! Oh , my arms ! You're heavy , girl . " he joked and she spat out giggles immediately .

Felt better to have her smiling and humored than speak the truth - she was a lightweight and that scared the shit out of him .

" Okay , don't drive away and leave me ! I'll be right back , just a sec ... "

" I wooooon't ! " Hope laughed and sat back with her favorite toy in her lap , the tattered rag doll she carried constantly ,  that had yarn hair , a disheveled calico dress and stitched into its embrace , a tiny teddy bear .

He took a final inhale - exhale breath at this Hell of a Home , made a swift wish that the ' ladies ' would all escape unharmed as he lit a cigarette .

And running back to the vehicle , dropped the flickering match .

It's been a long dark night and I've been waiting for the morning .

It's been a long hard fight but I can see a brand new day a dawning .

Along with the necessities , he'd brought some extras with them .

The fake I.D.s and assorted papers with forged signatures were stored below the pile of cash .

He hadn't been born a criminal but he sure as hell had been raised as one .

the tween weighed the options while he drove , hardly stressed about being pulled over .

Not in Ohio , where lots of people knew him and he had seen many a pig stroll into the brothel , badges hidden and dicks out , ready to cheat on their shrill voiced , dark hair roots showin ' wives whose flabby bellies and saggy tits rivaled the cops ugly bodies .

Hmmmmmm .

Well .

Boarding a plane would be the quickest travel choice and he had ways to sneak on , however he kept it as a last ditch effort , for emergencies only .

Maybe .

No way could trust getting into ' Pency ' by car alone - Hell , the drive to the state line was four and a half to five hours and that didn't include the stops ! - without somebody becoming suspicious and reporting an unsupervised twelve year old behind the wheel.

At the ' border ' , he would ditch the car and they'd hop on a bus ( or two or more , he figured ) and live it up at Hershey Park , go to sleep smelling like chocolate in their cheap yet clean motel beds .

What Jon had overlooked temporarily was Hope's lack of napping , staying wide eyed awake to stare in awe of everything they passed .

And for each minute that either dragged or sped , depending on the scenery , she grew crankier .

He alternated stops , every forty minutes to over an hour and a half for restroom breaks and fast food to go .

Not much of these soothed her and she fussed at an increased volume .

" J.G. , I want out of the car ! Where's a playground ? I wanna watch tv ! "

Jon gritted his teeth . He didn't have any aspirin - something to remember to shop for later - and inside the vehicle seemed stuffy , although both front windows were cracked .

He avoided areas with traffic and toll roads while his young buddy bellowed and squirmed .

" Mox Olly , let me out ! This isn't fun ! Take me home , I wanta go home ! "

The young man put on the brakes in an empty parking lot in front of a boarded up former shoe store and growled .

" We're not going back there ! Ever ! Those people were bad and that's why I took you far away from them , to make your life a million times better and safer so why don't you shut up ! "

Oh . Hell .

He had been annoyed by her many times before , frazzled from her nonstop questions , whining almost daily and the boisterous tantrums but he never had yelled before .

" Mox Olly don't like me ? "

There were rain drops on the surface of what remained of his coffee .

Had his heart shattered ?

That would explain the tears .

Since the gear shift blocked his embrace path , he unbuckled , sprinted to the passenger's side and after flinging the door open , hugged the girl .

" Hopers jump ropers , you're the only friend I've got and I don't care about protecting anybody else but you . "

" Mox Olly ! " she bleated before patting him on his face , her fingers getting dampened and gooey from the crying tracks streaking down his cheeks .

" The one and only . " Jon replied , grinning .

He got back behind the wheel , spinning the pilfered key ring on one middle finger .

" Where are we going ? " the child repeated her question .

" Pennsylvania . "

" How many pencils do they got , Mox - Olly ? "

" We'll count them after we get there . "

' Greyhounding it ' wasn't the nightmare that he had feared it would be .

A touch over six hours on a bus , spending way less than one hundred for both of their tickets and getting to catch up on lost sleep they needed desperately .

Easy . Peasy .

At the final stop , he located an inexpensive motel in a location that was possibly Heaven for people with low incomes .

He looked around at the thrift shop , a clothing store with Going Out Of Business Sale - All Items 50% Off ! signs in the front windows and many fast food joints , including one that served all - day breakfast for cheap .

" Where are the pencils ? Where's the chocolate ? ! " the child wondered .

" I don't know yet . " Jon answered her curious inquiries . " Let's find someone and ask them . "

He cupped a single hand around her tinier one and they headed directly to the roadside motel .

" Hey , lady , wheeeeerrrrrrre is the tv ? I haveta watch cartoons ! " Hope hollered , running through the check - in area and colliding with the noticeably faux palm tree in a tall planter pot , toppling it .

" Oh , hon , be careful ! "

Jon smirked . Hope was one helluva an impromptu partner in crime .

The white haired , short woman clad in reading glasses and a forest green floor length dress , was -had to be - a Granny type and that meant easy to take advantage of when little kids were around her .

Soft hearted , probably gullible and great ' pickings ' , Jon stored the consideration back in his brain's crawlspace as he skimmed the Guests Sign In book on top of the counter while Grandma Claus was distracted .

Not so inattentive after all when she grabbed his arms and spun him around , face to face , direct eye contact and frowning .

" I don't care who you are , if you're trying to rob me , I'm calling the police ! "

" Ah , no , it's not like that . "

" Then ... what ? Answer me ! "

" Well , okay , it's like this - we need a room . "

" A - you're here alone ? Without your parents ? "

" They're staying here . The Wilsons , you know them ? We ... "

" They got headaches ' cause of me and him . " Hope piped up and her older bodyguard would've grinned , astounded and respecting her quick thinking and fast talking sales pitch , smooth as could be , if he didn't think that the old lady would throttle him .

Hope had a future .

This was a gazillion percent guaranteed because he wasn't going to quit until he made sure that it happened .

" They planned , originally , a family vacation but changed their minds last minute and turned it into their ' alone time ' , if you get my drift . " Jon said , making a circle with one hand and putting a middle finger through it .

The explanation was a wee bit too descriptive , he could tell when the old lady's eyes bulged like a bullfrog's swollen throat .

" So - uh , just for a couple of nights ... and a few less days , is there a room we could stay in ? " he asked , switching his tone of voice to incredibly polite and dumping the obscene gestures .

" I - I have something but don't expect some thing large and luxurious . "

The tween shrugged . He had no clue what luxurious meant but he would be damned to admit it .

The room was mini , nothing more than a tv atop one squat dresser , a cot and the sofa that unfolded to make a bed and a single , cramped bathroom - sink , toilet and a tub with an attached shower spray .

Not too bad , as long as Hope kept her feet covered when walking on the faded , smelly and stained carpeting and never placed her fingers inside her mouth after touching anything.

" Whew ! We cleaned them out , didn't we ? " Jon loaded bag after bag into the backseat . He'd gone a crazy with the green paper ' prezes ' but new clothing for her was a must and it was one hundred dollars and ten cents well spent .

" Maybe . They were dirty ? " Hope eyed the packages and boxes piling up to towering and tumbling .

Jon had gotten her some of everything , dresses and skirts , tees in short sleeve and long , sweaters and mittens , shoes , socks and sealed tight three - packs of pastel hued underwear than he found embarrassing , heavy coats and light jackets , rain boots and a schoolbus yellow coat , plus impressive amounts of jeans , pants and sleepwear .

" I'm pretty sure that they bathed . " he quipped happily . His heart - and wallet - had lightened and he couldn't remove the large grin from his face . " Hey , look ! There's some trunk space left which means we oughta see what treasures that thrift store has for us . "

" Chocolate and pencils and ... " the child thought it over , her eyes widening . " Thrifts . " she ended , smiling and giggling .

" Yeah , damn right they do . " her guardian whooped , swinging his laughing bestie up to carry her piggy - back fashion into the little shop of garbage and glitz .

It appeared to be - at first glance - a plastic storage cart with multiple drawers and on wheels but after a closer inspection , turned out to be a ' Spa Day for dolls ' play-set .

He gazed at the bulky thing with unease . It was two adjoining sections , the lavender color side was a hair salon containing the works for a new ' do and the pastel pink side used for feet and hand care .

It was ugly , disturbing and saccharine sweet girlish that ice pick jammed in his grey matter and had his teeth aching .

And Hope adored the darn pile o ' junk so he wasn't walking away without dropping cash on it .

" How much is ? ... " he began .

" Twenty five . " the scrawny , long limbed , balding , spectacles wearing , male librarian - nerd lookalike responded .

Jon glanced at the tacky garbage for the kiddies , then the employee's plaid sweater vest and was torn deciding what was more disturbing and butt - ugly .

" For a bunch of plastic crud that doesn't look if it's been cleaned in a decade ? ! "

The older man scowled behind the computerized register .

" It was fifty dollars originally . All of the parts and accessories are there and besides a good cleaning , nothing's wrong with it . "

" Oh ... well - " the young man stammered and stuttered , his face blood red as Hope gleefully eyed the toy set , wishing and childishly greedy .

Her expectations and dreams .

Jon sighed .

" I'll take it . " he smiled , reducing the amount of filched money once more .

                          /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

 

" Thirty eight inches precisely . " the had - to - be at least eighteen year old blonde said , beaming at the bouncy child when she wasn't glowering at Hope's leering bodyguard .

" I am much bigger than that and I'm not talking about my height either . You'll meet me at the Kissing Tower and find out ? " Jon spoke directly to the surly teen , undoubtedly  working at a theme park to earn money for her first car .

" Get on the ride already , kid . " she grunted and after lowering her voice , hissed - " Smart ass ! "

  The young man made his best gloating face if only to flirt shamelessly , tongue tip partway out and stuck between a grin , his teeth shining white .

He climbed into the seat of the Dinosaur ride , beside Hope and made sure she was fastened in for safety , by either strap , buckle , belt or harness .

Once he'd made eyes at and blown extra kisses to the glaring young adult in charge of the ride , his teeny bestie shouted happily and they had lift off in grand prehistoric fashion .

They dined after the rides , in case the motion made them pukey .

Butter and cheese blend popcorn and chicken taco salad both viewed as healthy . Corn and salad , therefore they were vegetables , he believed .

The rest of the meal was pure junk food paradise , pepperoni pizza slices shiny from the puddled oil , a shared ice cream sundae topped chocolate funnel cake and one cookie ice cream sandwich apiece .

          Jon had  to have fries though , before they called it a day .                             

   " So , you're saying - " he asked the ornery and frazzled employee at the counter again . " I can get my fries covered in cheese sauce , bacon , ranch dressing and ... "

" Chopped scallions . " the twenty something year old man huffed and sighed . " Kid , you're holding up the line . "

Oh , fuck in a cup , if one more person called him a ' kid ' , he was going to make very loud screaming goat sounds until they shut up .

He was an adult ! Almost thirteen , for cripes sakes !

Back at their outside table with an umbrella centered in a hole in the middle , he divided Hope's share of the mega loaded fries onto a handful of napkins .

" Don't gulp them down just yet . They're scalding hot from the grease and need to cool off . "

Hope nodded - smart as a tack - and slurped the melting tropical fruit Slush drink while waiting .

 They did some people watching and he regretted not having the sense to buy them any swimsuits .

He figured he would the next time as he observed , transfixed , the dozens - likely hundreds ! - of bathing suit clad teenage girls and women in their early to mid twenties strolling around the waterpark area .

" What do you think about having a mom , Hope ? "  he asked , sixty percent minimum focused on ogling .

" The Hell is a Mom ? ! "

  His jaw clenched and he busied his emotional panic with melted cheese drenched carbs .

He had already stupidly been irked today , he wasn't going to sing the blues - unless he had tunes blasting from the radio and was , indeed , singing actual blues .

 Jon smiled instead .

The little girl had fry crumbs and ranch dressing blobbed on the end of her teensy nose .

" I ... Hell , I don't know either . "

                     /\/\/\/\/\/\

 

Lilac , peach and ' Barbie pink ' hued ribbons were tied sloppily around strands of his hair .

Wads of cotton had been jammed between his toes .

His fingernails were being imaginarily polished - vivid aqua , from the label on the toy bottle .

" So I says to Bob , I says ... " the tween  paused and scooted forward in his seat built from the bed pillows , breaking the earlier slouch . " You know Bob , dontcha ? "

Hope nodded and sighed earnestly .

" His feet are stinky . " she stated and went to work with the fake blow dryer , yanking bows out of  her Mox - Olly's ' perm ' .

" Yeah , yeah . That's what I told him , to wear some clean socks ! "

The child shook her head , making ' tsk ' sounds while his tresses were fixed , brushing rapidly .

" He really should wear those . "

The powerhouse impact against the door caused the already splintering wood to shudder .

The thud was a warning that had the children no time to react to , not a moment to get Hope to safety before he was struck , breathing carpet dust and the cuffs hurting his wrists .

 Jon glowered at the human swine , a skirt - suit clad authority - type chick who he guesstimated was twenty nine or thirty and the old broad who ran the place .

" You squealed on us , didn't you ? ! " he spat .

" Why did you kill him , you mouthy brat ? ! " the cop growled , shoving down harder , knee in his back .

" You are ruining a professionally done mani - pedi , pig ! "  Jon snarled the enraged reply .

" Leave alone and stop beating him up ! You're making our happy day today cry ! " Hope wailed and started flinging toys and clothes at the cop .

" Everybody listen to me this instant ! "

Business Suit Chick shouted and everyone in motion paused .

 Jon quit thrashing , Hope stopped tossing building blocks , mittens and plush toy animals and the officer almost dropped his taser , which the social worker plucked from his grip .

" I swear to Gawd , Earl , you want to be Robocop but act like Barney from Mayberry . "

" But , Sal , he's a criminal and I can't let him escape from the law ! "

" Oh , do you know how much like a jackass you sound ? ! "  the woman groaned and rubbed her forehead . " And by the way , stop calling me Sal ! "

  Jon was still , revelling in the upskirt peek he was inadvertantly receiving out of the corner of a dark blue eye .

  He gave the social worker the eye and the officer the finger ahead of scowling at the motel owner .

" Thanks for selling us out , lady . " he muttered sourly .

" I'm truly sorry and didn't mean to get anybody in trouble but you committed crimes , so I had to report you . " the elderly woman apologized .

" How'd you find out ? You a detective ? ! "

" I know the Wilson couple personally - they're friends of mine - and their only child is in his late forties ... "

" And they don't have any grandkids . " Jon exhaled furiously . He had been stupid and led them into a trap , dumb for trusting any adult !

Those mistakes were going to cost him Hope , the only person on Earth worth a -

" Damn ! "  he  yelled , distraught now crappy reality was sinking in fully .

  He continued glaring until she backed sheepishly out of the room , the red on her cheeks blazing bright through the thickly applied makeup .

" Okay , is bacon bits gonna unlock me or are you up for some participation ? " Jon inquired , totally ignoring the cop and focusing his entire flirt towards the stone faced young woman .

" We have plenty to discuss . " she answered , smirking and composed . " Tell your story , kid . "

" There's something that has to be done before I go . "  the tween chucked the loosened handcuffs at the officer . " Here , pork chop , catch ! "

He scooped up the remote and surfed the channels until landing on a safe and family friendly station that played mostly cartoons . After helping Hope into her little floral patterned , cushion backed chair , he ruffled her golden hair strands , smiled fretfully and turned to face the adults bravely .

Brave . Yeah , right . He was scared shitless .

" She doesn't need to hear any of it so we may as well talk things out in the hallway . "

Skirt Suit Chick's name was Mary - Maryam Sally Tostos , to be precise - and she turned out to be caring , and for a grownup , astonishingly cool .

They had dumped lots of coins into a few of the vending machines and overdid things with the quantity of snacks they'd bought .

 Jon wiped melted chocolate off of his mouth by using his shirt sleeves , a heap of bagged popcorn , pretzel bites , nacho cheese corn chips , gummy fruit candy , chocolate bars and granola based trail mix sat aside reserved for Hope .

" So you gave the - " Mary spoke with caution and hesitance in her voice , faltering and shaky . " Ladies of the night multiple chances to bypass and flee the fire but didn't do the same for the ... uhm ... "

" Pimp . Just say it , he was a pimp . " Jon guzzled cherry vanilla soda first , followed by bottled water to gargle away the sweetness . " I wouldn't have killed him either but - "

" But ? " the lady repeated , shifting her tote to one arm and placing an attache case in arm's reach .

She opened it , removed pen , paper and a few folders , ready to take notes and jot down everything .

" Oh , leather . "  Jon commented , immediately absentminded .

" Wait ... what ? ! Leather ? "

" Errrr , sorry ! I was distracted - the smell , it's leather . "

" Bought from a Macy's sale . "  Mary stated , grinning briefly . " Go ahead and say what you have to . I'm not sitting here all day and waiting . "

" He was planning to use Hope . "  the young man said hurriedly and blinked to deter tears . " Said that when she's old enough to ... keephermouthopen - that he could put her up for sale . "

" Oh , holy shit ! " the woman blurted aloud , spilling pencils and papers , clumsy and nervous , her face tomato red . " I - damn , I didn't - "

" Hey , now I know that you're trustworthy ' cause that's how you're supposed to react - hating the pervs and pedos . " Jon paused and sighed , his eyes narrowed . " To death . "

" I ... I do my best . "  Mary replied , hands quivering .

" I argued and fought him - literally fought with him after that and ... well , see for yourself . " he lifted his shirt enough and turned to show the pale yellow - green and light brown spots on his back , along with long white lines and black dots from cigar burns .

" We'll use that to help you in court . Evidence that can be used to your advantage . You're not getting off scott free and unpunished however but I'll make sure you are never tortured again . "

 Jon controlled his sassy mouth and didn't ask for her preferences about ' being punished ' and ' getting off ' .

Doing right by  Hope , that was crucial . Being infatuated with a hazel , eyed , take - no - crap redhead , not so much .

" There's something seriously important you'll have to tell me , how did you wind up there in the first place ? ! "

" Hope's Mom gave her away . " he squinted slyly , merrily daydreaming , imaging what color bra Mary had on . " My parents sold me for just enough cash to spend on getting wasted , not that they were ever sober from alcohol and trippin ' that often . "

" Both of you - I swear , have gone through Hell and then some . " the woman snapped a pencil in half between her hands and  he instantly fantasized about proposing then and there .

They would be married , raise Hope as their daughter ...

Awh , Hell , Hope !

" What's going to happen to her ? " the young man asked anxiously , only stopping himself from chewing his fingernails when he noticed how filthy - black and grimy they were .

" That's what these are . "  Mary tapped a folder , drumming her flawless , clean and glossy light pink nails on it . " Case files to take children from unhealthy - shall I say , risky homes and place them into secure ones with trustworthy new families . Believe me , I do serious background checks . Nobody can sneak something as measly as a parking ticket past me . "

 Jon gulped , suddenly in far less mood to flirt and be chatty . New family ? He was family !

" She's all I have worth caring about these last five years . "

" Five years ? That's her true age or - "

" Somebody left her in a basket on the front steps one night . "  he smirked . Perhaps that would steal the attention away from his damp , puffy eyelids . " Really tv show or movie scene cliche , ain't it ?   And her name ? ........  I dunno ,  I call her Hope ' cause that what she means to me .  She is the positive ,  light and sunshine on my bad days .  "

" I'll run some background checks on that , DNA tests , try to get more info ... "

" Thank you . " he answered automatically , dipping his head down in a bowing , grateful gesture . " I don't want to lose her . "

" I know and I'm sorry but ... if you had thought before reacting and just ran away , things would be different . You'd be staying with her , not separated and behind bars . "

" She's going to be upset , angry and scared . "

" I'm sorry . "  the lady repeated . " I'll do all that's possible to remedy that . "

" I ... can say goodbye , can't I ? You'd let me ? "

" I won't allow anyone to stop you , kiddo . "

 Jon arched a brow , unknowingly imitating the cousin of a friend on the horizon .

" Lady , just wonderin ' ... do you like goats ? "

The child was halfway asleep on the bed , drowsy with remote in hand and he tiptoed to her .

" Hey , my little sleepy sunshine . "

  Hope beamed before yawning .

" J.G. , you missed Snoopy ! "

" Yikes ! Then I'll have to watch him next time . "  Jon  inhaled and fidgeted , forcing himself to be absolutely honest , to do one of the worst things he hated to let happen .

 His ' little girl ' somewhat got there first .

" Ewww , go away ! "   Hope , more awake , shouted at Mary . " Why are you still here ? ! "

" Hope - ells Nope - ells , she's going to - " he swallowed the painful thing suddenly gagging him , stuck in his throat to match the tears caught in his eyelashes . " Take you to live with nice people - they'd better be nice ... "

Maryam understood the glare had sent her way .

" I promise . "

" Yeah , anyway ... then you can have everything you want , live in a nice house with lots of toys , go to amusement parks all the time ... well , weather permitting . " Jon  faltered .

" Yay ! We'll have fun every day , Mox - Olly ! " the girl  cheered , hugging him .

He detached her grip around his neck and that was his demise . Betraying her made his heart stop . He felt it .

" I - I can't go with you . I'm going to jail , Sunshine , prison for breaking rules and doing bad . I'm ... sorry . "

  Hope smiled and laughed , tried hugging him again .

" I'll go to jail too ! With my Mox - Olly . "

" No , Hope ! You're important and kind . Behind bars is for twerps like me , not angels like you . "

His small charge was incredibly perceptive .

Hope exploded , giving both of her older protectors an earful .

" Don't you go ! Don't you go ! You're awful and I hate you ! "

  He gently forehead - bumped his underweight protege , her messy hair the shade of daffodils , his more resembling a dandelion peeking through mud - blond tinged light brown .

" I hate me right now also and do you know why ? "

  Hope glared .

"  Cuz you kept farting on the people in line when we waited to ride on the Merry Go Round . " she huffed .

Mary coughed discreetly , the burst of hiccupy laughter withheld .

  Jon smiled .

If Mary were any more of a redhead babe , she'd be married to a asinine ' Toon rabbit .

" That was a life lesson ! " he blurted aloud . " Teaches them not to cut in front of us after I've ate chili cheese corn dog poutine . "

  The young man picked up where he'd left off , speaking .

" I'll always stay mad at myself because I made you unhappy . I never wanted you to cry , not ever , ever , ever ! "

He counted an extra sniffle . Maryam was unself-consciously weeping too , joining his sobbing and Hope's wails .

The little girl shocked him with the strength of her ' pitching arm ' , hurling the rag doll and it hit his chest , bounced off and collapsed on the floor .

" Heeeeeyyyy . "  Jon said tenderly , handing the well loved toy back . " keep her , okay ? She would miss you if she lives with me and all , mainly ' cause I belch . "

 Hope barely smiled . She fussed and fumed , glowering and pummeled the hapless toy .

  Jon saw what she was attempting to do and helped out , ripping the bear's threads so it was released from the doll's grasp .

  She reclaimed her doll and after whining and one screech that might have shattered glass , shoved the tiny , fuzzy bear at the young man  .

  Mary inhaled and solemnly tapped her wristwatch .

" It's ... time to leave . Let's gather her things and yours . "

  Jon nodded miserably and tucked the plush creature into a jeans pocket .

He wouldn't talk to Mary now , not to be impolite but Hope was the only one he felt like speaking to .

" I'll find you again one day , that is , if you want to see this ugly mug anymore . " he  kidded .

  Hope smiled a moment , frowned and turned away , avoiding his gaze .

" You're going to miss me ? You don't have to but I'll miss you around the clock . " he said honestly , looking down at her small head crowned with bright yellow locks .

The little girl nodded after hesitating .

' Mox - Olly ' left the building , so to speak , after that day .  He would be unable to call himself that , to use the nickname without bawling like a upset baby .

But as a tribute to the greatest kid of all time , his teeny tiny  Hope , he became Moxley .

And Mox didn't give a damn about anybody .

Until , once more being a moron , he fell madly in love three times in a row .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

I can see the light of a clear blue morning and everything's gonna be all right , it's gonna be okay .

Although the thought of slamming back some cold ones with that goofy alien was awesome as , he went years avoiding watching ET .

The blonde haired little girl reminded him too much of Hope .

             /\/\/\/\/\/\

 

The judge and courts were in agreement and he was sent to ' Juvie ' until he turned sixteen .

In just over three and a half years , he learned to hate concrete bricks , cement flooring and unappetizing cafeteria food shipped to the detention center in bulk .

  He was ' Hope - less ' but not alone .

" So , what did you do ? Run away ? Shoplift ? Curse at a teacher and cut school ? "

" I stole a car and money and traveled out of state after I committed arson and intentionally killed a guy I'd been living with .

"

Whoever was in the bottom bunk whistled , impressed and  Jon swung down to peer at the oval face and comely chin .

The other young man stared back , his blue - black locks gelled into points and half covered by a logo free baseball cap and a bandanna with holes chewed through the cloth .

" You're gonna be the Ruler here , once they - " he waved at the dozen plus other bunks scattered around the long , narrow room . " Find out you offed someone . If you really did . "

" I did , no regrets . "

  Jon gazed at the name tag taped to the lower bunk .

" How are you a criminal , S - Sammy ? ... Am I saying that right ? "  he asked , re-reading the moniker printed in scribbled , bright red and onyx black marker .

" Yep , that's correct about my name . And for the other , I'm a techno - Freakazoid who fucks shit up . "

" Okay , yeah but how ? ! "

" If I had a computer , I'd show you . "  Sami sighed longingly . " I was caught hacking stuff online , taking money from rich peoples bank accounts and giving it to those who don't got much cash , like my Dad . And ... other things too . "

" That sounds awfully cool . " Jon  grinned . Hope had been and always would be his BFF , but this tweenager could become his soulmate , his clone . They slightly looked like twins . Sami seemed his age or close to it and he was clearly a few pounds overweight , just like was .

  Sami smiled too and patted the mattress .

" Yeah , it's cool but the cops are the ones who think it's awful . "

  Jon chuckled and climbed down to sit beside him  .

  Sami looked around carefully before sliding an attached , wooden storage drawer open under his bed .

" Want to meet my friends ? "

" Feeding the ghosts , are we ? "  Jon asked once Sami held and rattled a big , zip top clear baggie stuffed with sunflower seeds and peanuts in the shell , raisins and at the very bottom , what appeared to be a chunk of dried dinner roll surrounding hamburger meat .

  The black haired tween snickered and poured a handful of treats on the end of his mattress .

" Chaos ! Anarchy ! "

An ugly , soot grey and wrinkled face with a long beak and a few crumpled pin feathers bobbed up from inside a nest hanging in one corner of the lower bunk .

A big eared , long whiskered and tailed , black and white rodent skittered out from a chewed tunnel into the mattress .

  Jon gawked , grunting in surprise . Somehow he'd overlooked the round cluster of thin , short branches and flexible , skinny twigs forming a lopsided circle , plus the wrecked boxsprings .

" A blackbird and a mouse ? ! "

  Sami tied the bandanna around and over his mouth , coughed inside it and glared .

" Chaos the crow and Anarchy the hooded rat . I raised them from babies in here . Anarchy's mom got poisoned by the monthly exterminator and Chaos was outside , fell from his nest and almost got mowed into bloody pieces by the groundskeeper . "

" You know what that makes you ? A hero ... a superhero ! "

" Nah , my Dad is the hero , not me . "

Instantly , there were cactus spines lodged in Jon's heart . His father and mother cared about meth , their crack pipe and syringe , not him .

" I said that I took a life and you have no problem trusting me and being my friend ? ! How do you know that I'm good ? "

 Sami chortled from the tickle of rodent whiskers and bird feathers brushing against his palms , the joy of finding a partner and a non - parent human pal he could confide in .

" Because it says so on your name-tag ! "

  His  dirty - blond buddy's mouth twitched and he rolled around on the bed , whooping laughter while bread crumbs and crushed peanut shell fragments clung to the back of his tee .

It's been a long , long time since I've known the taste of freedom ...

" Discharge Day , lucky mofo ! " Jon  yelped wildly , stuffing Sami's  Batman logo backpack until the top zipper busted . " Whoops ! "

" Meh , I've got packing tape to fix it . And hey , could you not call it ' Discharge ' ? Cuz , ewwww , makes me think of snot and eye crust when I have a cold . "

" Hmmmmm , how about ... Liberty Day then ? "

" Approved . " his dark haired pal lightly head butted him , snickering and they hugged . " Which reminds me , I haven't had a real burger in years now . "

 Jon smiled , relishing the warmth from body contact .

" You're going home at last and can eat all you want again . "

" I'll spring you - swear and promise that it will happen - as soon as I get my computer back . "

  Jon shrugged , attempting to paint nonchalance over his envy .

" BFD , one more month and I'll be freed . "

" You'll be outta here in less than two weeks . "  Sami  made the ' cross your heart ' gesture . " I'm going to miss you . "

" Why ? We'll meet again . "

" Duh ! ' Cause you're my brother , that's why ! "

" Whoosh ... there went you and I being only children . "  Jon said , chuckling .

The young men lugged the bags and cardboard boxes outside , then rested on the front steps , panting .

Chaos hopped around and pecked while Anarchy peeked out from under Sami's cap , nesting in his uncombed locks .

A man who appeared to be in his late thirties , hair beginning to show grey flecks , honked the horn and waved before opening the driver side door .

 Sami beamed totally , the fullest , happiest smile that had Jon ever seen on his buddy's round face .

Prickly pear thorn jealously and longing this time , blending with other inner pain , stirred , no , shaken , yes and to the bone .

" Hi , Dad ! "

The adult swooped up his son , chortling , ruffling his hair ( which annoyed the rat dozing in it ) and embraced him cheerfully and welcoming .

" I'll take these - " he lifted the heaviest items . " And you two can load the lighter things into the trunk , okay ? "

 They bounced to their sneakered feet .

" Sure thing , Mister Callihan . "

Sami hesitated until he was absolutely , a million percent sure that his father's back was turned and nobody saw before -

Sublime .

    Never before had he smooched with a guy .

  He had been friends with beer , cigs , bustin ' skulls and making out since he was ten going on eleven - but exclusively with  chicks .

This was ... kissing felt like ... Ohhh .

That sensation was his last name .

Life on the edge of seventeen and gawdammit , he loved having his first boyfriend .

Hell .

Yes .

" I'll miss you also . " Jon sighed , the instant his tongue and lips weren't as static shock tingly and warmer than coffee in a mug .

He glanced about , sneaky and after pretending to cough into his fists , dropped a little weapon into his bestie's open hands .

Sami smirked at the folding knife .

" Not asking how you kept this hidden from the jerks in charge . "

" I have the other one . " Jon  patted the jeans pocket that stored the twin blade . " You called me your brother , so that's what we are . Switchblade brothers forever . "

" Hell yeah , always forever ! "

The exceptionally lucky thirteenth day after , freedom !

His court dates had been changed , much of his crime history altered or erased altogether and once unconfined , he reacquainted himself with both Father and Son Callihan .

Having a roof over his head that wasn't attached to confinement , a little cash in his pockets and the steadfast friendship was revitalizing .

The article's headline caught his eye at a late breakfast . It wasn't front page news but mildly important nonetheless - an obituary .

 His parents had died in the same crash , a wreck occurring when the brakes failed and their car went rolling ...

Rolling , tumbling -

A lot like his heartbeat .

He left that night , once it was quite dark and headed for a place oh so close yet so far .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Eye yuh wah ? Eye oh uh ? Yeesh , what a weird name .

Sami had  created for his bestie ,  a nice new ID with various false information including a slight name change .

Now  Jon got to try his hand at being a student , attending a high school that was unknown to him .

Iowa ! Iowa . Jeeeeeez , population - him and a bunch of ...

God damned backwards - ass pig farmers .

He knew he was going to hate life here .

But first ...

Lunch time !

" Next in line ! " the blemished teen called the order over the intercom .

 Jon looked at the wall mounted speakers , close to the ceiling and stepped up .

He retrieved the roll top white paper bag and opened it once he was back seated at the odd , uncomfortable swivel chair bolted , just like the small square table was , to the floor .

Ahhh , cooking oil and greasy , hot fries , double bacon cheeseburger with all the veggie add ons and ' fixins ' , tall to go cup of bubbly , fizzy soda chock full of crushed ice , dee - lish - us !

  The young man sniffed the inside of the crumpled paper sack again and -

Wait .

He glared at absolutely nothing and nobody for a second .

His dessert was missing !

Someone . Had . Stolen . His . Pie .

 Jon whisper - cussed and glanced at the few people exiting , through the surrounding windows in need of a spritz and wipe cleaning and spotted one particular man strolling across the parking lot , munching on ...

His pie ?

His pie ? !

That ... bastard !

 He took off like a cheetah on the hunt , racing out the double doors after the thief .

" Hey ! Stop ! Slow down ! "

They collided at the mouth of an alleyway , swatting the bag from the stranger's grasp .

" My meal ! " the taller man snarled , sweat and a jetting splash of unsweetened iced tea wet his light brown skin and rounded , helmet shaped black hair .

Before Joseph could bicker and curse about the loss of his now damaged grilled chicken deluxe sandwich and medium order of seasoned curly fries , the blue eyed , scowling creep kissed him .

 Joe didn't think and had no time at all to react once a searching tongue pressed between his teeth .

" Ah , ha ! I knew it . "

" Knew what , Mister Crazy ? " Joe  inquired , shifting out of the frowning deviant's reach .

" You taste like cinnamon which means you ate my apple pie , crook ! "

" Are you insane ? ! "

" Yes . " Jon  retorted with hardly a pause . " March back into that fast food joint and buy me another pie now ! "

 Joe winced , cringing at the word ' joint ' spoken but shook it off .

" Keep on makin ' wishes that won't come true , Crazy Man . March ? Nuh uh ! What I am going to do is have you put behind bars for forcing yourself on me sexually ! "

" You mean like the back of a cop car or locked up for years ? " Jon  muttered , rolling his eyes . " Done there , been that . "

" Yeah ... how hard did you smack your head on the ground ? Because there's certainly something gone wrong in your brain . "

" Fiiiiiiine , just give me some money then and I'll go and get my dessert . You won't have to do a thing . "

" I'm not giving you my money , you frikking nutcase ! "

" Damn , greedy ! Like you aren't raking in the bucks selling down by the - "

 Joe leapt to cover the freak's mouth , slapping a hand over it .

" Jeeeeez , shut up ! "

 Jon smiled around palmistry lines .

When a few passers by looked over ,  he pulled the handsome stranger to a less pedestrian used area .

  Joseph paced , cursing under his breath and wringing his hands .

He spun on his heels to glare at Jon .

" It's not something I enjoy doing , okay ? ! I'm - I've been struggling and ... awh , Hell , you don't know what it's like ! "

  Jon shook his head and dug a piece of newspaper from his threadbare jacket before he looped both arms around the slightly taller man .

" I ripped these out of the Classifieds and - well , they're mostly temp jobs for high school students , the ones I circled with ink pen , if you're interested . "

" You're helping me ? To ... to find a job ? ! "

" Yeah , sure . " Jon glanced at the sky and then where they had been standing earlier , a happy group of birds , wild brown rats and swarming flies and ants relishing spilled meal . " Take a look - see and if none of those suit you , then I'll try to get you work with me . "

  Joe beamed at the considerate , understanding , genuine and charming grin .

" Where do you work ? "

" Oh , uh - a restaurant . "

" Uhm hmmm . " Joseph  said , sensing the likeable lunatic wasn't telling the truth . " Which one ? "

Another streetwise , cute smile spread across that round , amused face .

" Uh , well ... "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" I hate you soooooo much right now . "  Joseph griped softly as they wheeled the cart to the biggest , most crowded double booth .

" Ssshhh ! Time for the song ! "  his friend adjusted the towering birthday cake shaped hat on top of his mostly unbrushed hair and elbowed Joe until he removed the sour look from his face .

" Happy , happy birthday , birthday to you ! Yes , today's your special day and to that we say woo hoo ! "

 Jon tossed confetti overhead and carefully placed the silver and gold foil crown on the beaming one year older child's also uncombed locks .

He nodded at Joe , who sighed and cut into the ' Volcano ' , causing the melted chocolate ' lava ' to flow from inside the enormous cake .

  The duo handed out wildlife inspired headbands to the rest of the kids , so they could play pretend dress up as elephants , ladybugs , lizards , dolphins , sloths , zebras and leopards .

The children attacked the cake , the little dishes of ice cream , platters of burger sliders and dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets and last of all , the extra large pepperoni pizza .

" I am a disgrace to my family and mockery of my people . " Joe  muttered after he and were back in the Employees Only section of the rainforest themed family restaurant .

He loathed the vivid red and blue feather and light grey cowry shell headpiece , dark green plastic palm leaves around his wrists and ankles and most of all , the bright yellow sarong with a brown tribal sea turtle print tied over matching yellow knee length shorts .

The black and white Ula Nifo , however , that was cool .

" The Tiki look becomes you , big man . " Jon picked at a button on the gaudy Hawaiian shirt he wore . " Anyway , this is fun . "

" Fun . "  Joseph snorted . " Yeah , like breaking an arm is fun . Eating glass and drinking bleach is fun . "

  His oddball pal patted the sullen , pouting man around his shell necklaces .

" We only work on the weekends - "

" From eleven to ten . "  Joe  glowered , crossing his arms .

" Not on Sundays ! That's noon to nine . "

 Joe grunted .

" And ... " Jon continued . " We get free food . "

" Cold leftover quesadillas , coconut shrimp and Philly cheese steak sandwiches . "

" Paycheck is nothing to sneeze at . "

" Achoo . " the Samoan huffed , the sarcastic sound muffled a bit by the tee he was changing into . " Minimum wage . "

 Jon kept his tongue literally in cheek and thumped the shirt hem teasingly .

" The amount of female customers has increased over thirty percent since you've been here . "

" They ain't all showing up for a peek at me . There are ones that - trust me on this - want to blow out your candles and be the frosting on your cake . " Joe smirked sweetly , grinning at his friend's obnoxious and eccentric party hat .

  Jon chortled , wriggling into his jeans and old tee with jagged sleeves he'd personally diy cut himself , using a bread knife and a razor blade .

" Add our hour long lunch break and all in all , it isn't bad , huh ? "

" Guess not . " Joe responded , finally waving a white flag in their mild disagreement . " Up for tacos ? "

" Today's eight buck a person , all you can eat , make them yourself taco fest ? Yeah ! "

" Terrific ! " Joe eased the metal door slowly closed and clicked the code numbers to lock it .

" Excellent , yep . " Jon smiled , leaning against the group of storage lockers . " Hey , let's hang out and do something this upcoming week . I only get to see you at work and that sucks , not in the satisfying way . "

 The Samoan coughed laughter at Jon's way with words .

" Can't . " he said to his bestie . " I'm homeschooled . "

" Well , I'm school - schooled and crappy at most of the subjects so maybe one day I can visit you and we could study together . "

" I said no . "

" No , actually what you said was can't , not no - "

" I said no ! " Joe confronted Jon , pinning him with his back mashed against the cold , dented metal .

  Jon searched for emotions in his friend's expression , found anguish and confusion , stress and self - blame .

Gradually , softly , he lowered the silly looking cake crown onto Joe's head .

" I understand how it is to have shit in your life you don't want to talk about , Royal Leader . "

  Joe exhaled , gladdened by their solidarity .

" Hey , you know that I'm buying now . "

" Oooooohhh , hard and soft shells ! " Jon cheered , running full tilt with arms outstretched to bear hug his bestie .

" And getting ' drunk ' at the salsa bar , o la'u uo . " Joseph commented , breathing in the other man's scent , delighted by his hair being nuzzled throughout the grand , supportive embrace .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

His second week of school and he was well acquainted with detention after eleven days .

The pissy lookin ' algebra teacher practically shoving him into the classroom didn't make the situation a better one either .

Now ... who to sit next to ?

 Jon recognized many of the students , not their names but by their faces .

He checked through the list in his brain storage .

Bully , jerk , shy , eight out of ten , would call the next day , nerd , dork , geek , creep , lesser bully ...

Well , helloooooo , hottie !

Goth Nerd caught his eye immediately and if truth be told , other parts of his body too .

The boy was shrewd . He had several magazines hidden under text books and was reading one , concealed by a spiral bound notebook .

  Jon peeked . He saw a Sports Illustrated , Spin and Rolling Stone in one quick glance .

Grinning , he kicked the back of Hot Topic Nerd's chair until the attached wooden desk shook .

" Hey ! Hey ... hey - hey ! "

" What ? ! "  the brunette snapped , looking over a shoulder .

  Jon didn't stop smiling . He waved Hello , wiggling his fingers .

" Hiiiii . "

  Colby barely smirked .

" You might look like a blue koala but you're really an alien pretending to be a dog . " the brunette in black framed reading glasses scoffed . " If you don't believe me , ask that camera carryin ' , Elvis adoring little girl about it . She knows . "

  Jon refused to call it quits .

He kicked harder .

" Hey , hey ... heeeeey - "

" What ? ! " Colby bellowed .

A few students ' shushed ' at him .

" You haven't said Hello yet . " the Ohioan replied .

Dressed all in black Nerd's mouth trembled a little and he coughed , looking away .

He was laughing .

  Jon felt a self - congrats coming on .

He had won this time , First Round .

" Whatcha doooooin ' ? " he tilted his head to take another peep at the hill of literature .

" Reading while an aggravating jerk - ass behind me refuses to shut his big mouth and mind his own business . "

Oh ... ooooooohhh .

Now that was a comeback .

Kid had potential , yessiree .

And he was wearing his onyx black shirt inside out , with the clothing care label tag showing .

Fascinating !

Curiosity made Jon unstoppable .

Second Round !

Tied one to one .

" Sooooooo , whatcha in for ? " Jon asked , nonstop peering over the Hot Stuff's shoulders .

" In for ? ! " Colby turned and glowered at the blond , making him laugh when the darker haired male's glasses slipped , sliding down his prominent nose .

" Yeah , in prison . Jail . " Jon said casually , snapping his fruit flavored gum .

Colby pushed his geeky glasses back into place .

" You're unhinged . "

His smirking frenemy checked the ceiling , looking overhead . Sure , he didn't see Cupid and a bunch of floating small hearts but he just knew that they were there .

He felt it - Luuuuuv - with this one , a challenge , euphoria in a human bod .

Had a pretty little ass too .

Final round ,  for all the money .

" What are you reading ? Is it Hustler or Penthouse ? I love Hustler ! "

  Colby groaned , closing in on his last straw .

" What would you know about porn in print ? ! "

" More than you do , baby . "

 The brunette rolled his eyes at the nonchalant smirk and incessant , novice teasing .

" Let me see ! " Jon lunged for the magazine , within an inch of snatching it .

" No . " his annoyed pal held the reading material far from the weirdo's grabby hands .

" Lemme seeeeeeee - "

" Stop ! "

" Ssssssssshhh ! "

  Colby gave the evil eye to the textbook cover he had face planted onto .

Chemistry .

Aw , jeeeeez .

All of the other students sitting , ' doing time ' were glowering at the loud crash , the headache creating noise of two humans and one big desk hitting the tile floor .

The arts and music teacher whom today was ' babysitting ' the rule breaking crew also scowled intensely , livid and watching the two troublemakers with darker , narrowed eyes .

" The hallway . " he spat , hauling each teen up by their arms . " Stand out in it . Go ! "

In an instant , Jon began rubbing his spine up and down against a citrus soda yellow - green hued painted concrete block wall .

" Stop that ! " Colby chided , raising his voice to speak over the groans of satisfaction . " You look like a big , stupid and annoying grizzly scratching his fat , furry ass on a tree ! "

" It's either this or you do it . " Jon suggested .

 The brunette gulped and rolled his eyes .

" Proceed . "

  The blond ceased , snapping to attention pronto , as though he were in the military .

  Colby paused as well , transferring his gaze from the clock on the wall , the flicking ruby red lettering on the EXIT sign , the glass case enclosure for a fire extinguisher kept inside to the teacher looking - literally - down on both younger men .

This grownup authority figure they at least had an advantage with .

He was understanding . He listened .

True , the same teens he always had a sympathetic smile for were the ones who tended to mock his quirky fashion statements and self - expression .

On this day , he was close to normal , wearing a white , button down , long sleeve shirt , black pants and a silvery - grey vest printed with a reproduction of Dali's Rose Meditative on the back .

" Why are the two of you throwing away your lives ? ! " he pleaded , an exasperated whimper .

" Because we can't find a recycling bin ? " Jon answered brazenly , a smart - aleck until the end of time , maybe longer , perhaps infinity .

 Colby sighed , the drawn out vocalization of embarrassment sounding a lot like a bike tire or balloon deflating .

" I've seen both of you guys when you work and - " English  huffed , agitated . " There's potential there . Give it a chance because it will repay you well . The beer and smokes will always be there but opportunities to become the best won't . "

The boys squirmed simultanously , red - faced though not feeling the amount of guilt that they should have .

" Until you get your act - acts - together , then I have no choice but to give the punishment of ... each other . "

" Each ? "

" Other ? ! "

 Aiden nodded . " From now on , the remainder of the school year , the two of you ' rebels ' will work as a team for every assignment , homework , everything from studying to book reports . "

" Whaaaaaat ? ! "  Colby  sputtered .

" Noooooo ! " Jon  wailed .

" Who knows ? It may turn out to be a reward . "  Aiden smiled apologetically but neither teenager was having any of it .

" Yeah , thanks but no thanks . " Colby smirked in defiance , presenting some of the worst parts of his attitude . " You see , there are girls I've already picked to partner with . "

" And some of ' em don't wear bras ! " Jon added smugly .

" Save the arguing and back talk for a gullible person . No suspension , no getting permanently removed from school , just being paired to work as a team , nothing less or more . "

At the final bell , Colby shoved books and papers , pencils and his travel music into the charcoal and midnight blue backpack , the Walkman stuffed in between folders and ink pens .

 Jon copied him , packing his Goodwill thrift steal of a deal messenger bag . It had been a bargain and then some , marked down to a measly dollar once the family of cockroaches living inside had been discovered .

" Thanks for getting me in trouble . Now , I'm stuck with you , like I didn't have my share and then some of stress and responsibility already ! " the brunette fussed , sprinting outside onto the front lawn .

 He unlatched his everyday bike , a Cruiser he had diy decorated with band logo stickers and hand painted tiny white skulls on the otherwise all - black ride .

 His nuisance of a friend did the same with his formerly bright pink Frontier mountain bike , now sloppily colored electric lemon yellow .

He unhooked the so - called theft proof chain and lock , relocating and clipping the heavy metal shut around his neck .

 Colby stared at him with dilated pupils , temporarily thunderstruck .

" What ? ! "  Jon spat .

" That's ... er , that's qui - quite a look on you . " the darker haired male stammered , wiping the bicycle seat before bounding on .

" Thanks . " the blonder of the pair hopped onto his wheels and pedaled after him  .

  Jon barely kept up with the plainly furious brunette , wheezing as he pedaled , skidding to a halt in the drying mud when it became clear they had rode to a cross between defunct farm land and well used dirt bike trails .

" Uhhmmm , this is kind of secluded , isn't it ? "

" Yeah , that's the point ! I don't want people watchin ' what I'm about to do . " Colby muttered , irritable and lifted the bottom of his tee .

 The Ohioian blushed automatically , the logical reaction . He considered closing his eyes and puckering up but had no time to before Pretty Goth Guy  was talking again .

" This is why I was in detention , okay ? Satisfied , buttinsky ? "

 Jon studied the front of the shirt , now facing the right side out and worn correctly .

He grinned .

The artwork on the tee was a stitched and printed chalk - white sketch of a skeletal hand holding a Ouija plancha over the ominous board .

The printed words Fare Well and upside down stars inside circles were embroidered on each sleeve .

" So , what , the stuffy , prune eating , dull - as - dishwater teachers thought you were burning candles at an altar or somethin ' ? "

 Colby smiled widely and barked a happy laugh , a pleased , strange cackle that was surprisingly easy on the ears , nice to listen to , admirable and enticing ...

 His pain in the ass partner sighed .

" Yeah , I'm bad . " the darker haired male bragged .

" Huh . " Jon held out one hand . " I'm Good , cool to know ya . "

  Colby blinked , awe - struck .

" It's my last name . " the blond of the duo clarified tenderly . " First is Jon , no H . "

  The resident born and raised Iowan warily shook the extending hand .

" My El In is Black which is also my favorite color , ironic enough . First name - " he paused , suddenly reluctant . " CJ . "

" What's that stand for ? Chris ? Justin ? "

" No ... Colby . " the Iowan admitted , his shaky nerves had him babbling and sweating .

This time , Jon blinked , flabbergasted .

" So , go ahead . " the darker haired teen griped . " Make fun of my name . Call me Swiss , Cheddar or Kraft Singles . The other kids do ! "

" Maybe - " the blond suggested graciously . " You're really Black Kraft and they're too dumb to see it . Or jealous . "

Colby's agitated frown flipped .

" Yeah , you know if they had class and smarts , they'd call me Asiago , Provolone , Feta ... "

" Maybe not Asiago . " the Ohio native interrupted . " Then they'd call you Ass . "

" Hmmm , good point , Good . "

Jon snickered and started pedaling once more .

" I'll seriously repay you for what happened though , I promise I will ! "

" Uhm , really ? How ? ! "

" Beer ? " the blond offered , being extremely generous . His typical preference was to hog the alcohol .

The brunette's brows plunged and thunderstorm clouds looked bright and cheery compared to the loathing and resentment in his expression .

" Got gallons of that crap at home . " he sneered . " If you can pry it from my Mom's hands , that is . "

" Okay - uhmmm ... " Jon brainstormed nervously , his damp fingers suddenly sliding off of the handlebars . " Cigs ? You smoke ? "

  Colby growled , a tiny yet loud snort puffed from his nose and throat .

A slight breeze swept by , the light wind making their shirts flutter .

 Jon could see down inside CJ's tee and loved the sight until -

He gasped , almost crashing and burning on the dirty ground .

There were several round plum , yellow - green and grey tinged brown bruises on the back of his shoulders .

 His mother was a drunk who hit him .

 The Ohioan whimpered , grimacing .

" So that's why you have ! - " he cried out without giving his brain time to catch up with his blabber mouth .

" WHAT ? ! "  Colby hollered , slamming to a halt .

" Such a shitty attitude . " Jon  mumbled , his cheeks pink and lower lip trembling .

" Well , La - dee - da ! What the Hell is my shitty attitude to you anyway ? ! "

The young men rode on , Colby fuming and glaring ,  Jon mute and sheepish .

" I just like it better when you smile , okay ? " he  confessed , whispering so only he and  CJ heard .

 Jon didn't want anyone to hear the confession , except his own ears and those of the guy he -

Had the same feelings towards as he did with Sami .

And was gradually as well , for Joe .

Joe .

Hey , Bingo !

" I got it ! Something cool ... follow me and we'll go visit Joe . " Jon said gleefully , popping a wheelie .

 Colby's forehead wrinkled as he pumped his legs so to not be left in the dust .

" Who the fuck is Joe ? ! "

" Define tenacious . "

" Synonyms ? "

" Yep ! "

The teen from Ohio exhaled sullenly while they biked through one of the ' bad sides ' of the city , past shops with boarded up windows , graffiti on every solid surface and unkempt homeless folk hunting for alcohol , drugs and food - in that precise order .

" Hold onto something , clinging . It also means determined . "

" Impetuous ! " Colby sang out and smiled .

" Powerful , headstrong . " Jon answered , noticing his new friend's sudden unease .  He gritted his teeth , keeping watch . Nobody - in particular , the scuzzy druggies and filthy winos - was going to harm his Colbs .

He'd spill their blood before they would get the chance .

" Asylum . " the brunette said faintly , glancing timidly over now and then .

" How would I know ? Never been to one . " his blue eyed companion snickered , trying to get CJ to laugh and feel secure .

Jon was thankful that he carried a knife with him everywhere .

" Just answer me , ya doofus ! "

" Shelter or sanctuary , positive definition . Negative would be a mental hospital , AKA the loony bin . "

Colby pedaled so fast that his feet looked blurry when more beggars approached .

" Uhhm ... compassion . " he said , trembling .

" Jooooooooe ! " his pain in the ass , beer loving buddy shouted happily at full volume , startling the Iowan temporarily just as leapt into the big arms of a tanned , beaming stranger .

" O a mai oe ? "

" Manuia , faafetai . "

 CJ smiled gently at the man he didn't know lifting the one he did from the ground and throwing him upside down over a shoulder , in a manner of a parent playing with an older child .

" I'm in need of more you - know - what . "  Jon said , looking at the flipped over van with its rusted patches spray painted and bent antenna , crumbling brick shells of former stores and bars in the background .

" I am afraid to ask or think about what your what could be . "  Joe replied , turning his friend  back right side up and setting him back on his feet .

" Awh , you know . "

" No more freebies , stray ! I told you so last time . "

" Pleeeeease ? "

" Nuh uh . " Joseph  was frowning although the frustration only showed on his curled lips . His eyes glimmered joyously while he dragged knuckles through already tousled , honey color hair .

" But I want some for me and CJ ! " Jon whined , kicking at the soil and yellow - brown spotted , sickly grass .

" CJ ? ! " Joe  glanced at the third young male and straightened to the clouds , his posture supreme and immediately raised to dominant male level . " Oh , hey there . "

" Yeah , hi . "  Colby nodded , perching his glasses high up to rest at his hairline . " I refuse to admit what the J stands for but C , unfortunately , is Colby . Yes , like the cheese . My mother had a crapola sense of humor , I guess . "

" Dark town . " Joe said , smiling throughout the small talk . " Maybe she meant well and used the meaning translation behind the name . "

" Huh . Hmmmm , maybe . "

 Jon looked up at the chatter and and there was an instant pang in his gut that felt like he was a washing machine with clothes inside , swishing and churning .

His friends intrigue magnets were drawn towards each other , to fuse , bond and not pull apart .

He was suddenly forgotten while the other guys were oblivious to him and his distress , engrossed with gazing at one another .

Yep . It was gross all right .

Those sparks were supposed to be his !

Welp , distraction time .

" Bet you're holding out on me , Uce - butt ! "  Jon barreled into the van before Joe could stop him .

  Joseph bolted after him , with Colby  hot on his heels .

" Awwwwwwhh , man ! Sage ? "  Jon shook his head once he'd took a whiff of the burnt grass bundle .

" Yesssss , it's to cover the pot stink . " Joe  felt a smile blooming despite his bestie's disappointment . " Look , you know that I have to hide joints from the cops but behave and I'll share the last teensy bit . And I do mean last . "

" Whoa , do you live here ? ! " Colby  wondered behind , eyes bulging . " It's excellent . "

" Nah , this is only a hideaway - " Joseph's  eyes widened to the size Colby's were when the unknown brunette dove onto his makeshift bed , an old but clean mattress loaded with blankets and pillows .

" Ooooooohhh , this would be the life , traveling anywhere you want , anytime , no rules . " the Iowan sighed .

" Ah , I have rules . " Joe licked his lips when the visitor stretched , his shirt tugged free from his jeans , flat stomach exposed .

 Jon ogled the brunette shamelessly too , his body quivering .

When Colby rolled over , stretching again before rising and his rear end lifted , they gawked some more .

" Where did you find him ? " Joe asked his buddy , sweating .

" Me , student . Him , teacher . " Jon replied saucily .

" Huh . "  the Samoan looked on and smirked , half admiration , half envy . " Well , you have your work cut out for you , crazy Uce . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Giant cows ! " Jon shrieked , tapping at the van windows . " I'm going to catch one ! "

" No . "  Joe said automatically .

" Grab him . " Colby  nudged his second new friend . " He means it . "

" Serious ? ! "

They lunged for their kooky pal but not quickly enough . Once his seatbelt had been unbuckled , he was out of the vehicle in no time .

" You're gonna get fried by that electric fence , insane brother . " Joseph warned .

" You're gonna be arrested  for harassing the wildlife , goofy ! " Colby scolded .

" I don't need a lecture ! " Jon  winked , then gave each buddy of his a thumbs up . " Be right back ...watch . "

" No . " Joe repeated , a waste of breath and speech since his loony friend had already jumped the fence .

 He and CJ looked on .  Jon waved in the distance , trudging through the belly high grasses .

" If he gets killed , I'm taking his stereo system . " CJ  grumbled .

" He has a stereo ? " the Samoan asked , watching his reckless friend anxiously .

 CJ shrugged and was prepared to give a sarcastic reply but his heart fluttered at the loud grunt outside .

  Jon rushed towards them , panting , sweating , face red as a cardinal and his teeth chattering .

" Drivedrivedrivedrivedrive ! "

The other two young men hauled him back into the van , dragging the heavy side door closed just before an enormous , enraged male bison crashed into - but luckily didn't break through - the fencing .

  Colby glanced at Joe and sighed , shaking his head .

" You have pot , yeah ? "

 Joseph nodded , hardly able to speak .

" Fan - fucking - tastic - tabulous . " Colby  took what was offered and burned one . " We're going to need it . "

                       /\/\/\/\/\/\

 

" Well . " Joe said later while they watched the sun setting , the pleasant yet sickening scent of the final toke lingering in the van interior . " I hate to go but I have to be home before dark and it took over thirty minutes driving here . "

" Yeah , it's getting late . " CJ  agreed .

" Awww , so soon ? " Jon  frowned .

" Yes , cowboy . "  Joe said , laughing . " Hey , you two want this van ? I'm ditching it . "

" Ahhh , Hell yessssss ! " Jon whooped .

" Why are you getting rid of it ? " Colby  asked , lounging with his back propped against many pillows .

" This - "  Joe paused , thinking . " Isn't the life for me after all . I want to make my family proud of me . "

He paused a second time , his mind immediately on a certain young lady .

" Everyone that I love . "

" What about you , dark town ? "  Jon wondered , grinning mischievously . " Your dreams and wants and plans ? "

 Colby stuck his tongue out before replying .

" To be successful in whatever I do , to achieve and stay true to myself , not be someone that isn't me at all . "

" Booooorrrring ! " his chuckling buddy yelled . " You sound a dumb , dull teacher giving a dumb , dull speech in class . "

" Yeah ? ! "  Colby challenged . " So spill your guts , chubby cheeks , what do you want most ? "

  Jon blinked so crying was kept enclosed , the tears like the fenced in wildlife .

" To bring Hope back into my life . " he responded , voice cracking and neither of his friends had a clue he was referring to a little girl and not literally an expectation .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

' Cause I am strong and I can prove it and I got my dreams to see me through ...

He was now in a fetal position on the floor .

With - Gaaaah ! - a slimy waterbug creeping across his chin .

Jon yelped and shuddered and slapped the insect off his face , recollecting the trauma from the past had almost turned him into the next Upson Pratt .

The young man dry - heaved , shivered again and gave himself a talking - to , emphasizing the nicer , happy parts of his younger days as well .

Including one who was still a big piece of black clad , chain smoking , comic book reading and cartoon watching , tough and bad ass joy in his life .

One man who might have been impatiently ripping out some of his unkempt jet black hair while waiting for his guy BFF to get his butt on a plane from Nevada to Ohio already !

He said bye to to the mini plush toy teddy bear first , Suitcase second and was out of there , hauling ass and chugging beer in an amount that would've put Stone Cold to shame .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

 He scaled the chain link that enclosed the trash dump , dangling precariously while caught on a security spike temporarily and face planted in the dirt on the other side .

" Hiiiiii , Mister Callihan ! " Jon waved as he ran , using the free hand to wipe his face .

 The older man glanced thoughtfully at his son's best male friend's soil stained face , many worry lines spreading across his brow .

" I can get you a napkin ... paper towel - "

" Nawh , don't get up . " Jon said , nodding at the older man lounging in the front porch rocking chair . " I'll go around the side and wash off with the hose . "

  Sami's dad chuckled .

" You do that . And send word to my boy if he's back there , I would like to know that he has condoms with him . "

" She's here , huh ? " Jon  asked , slowly grinning .

" She's out back , yes . " the adult male replied , his easygoing smile a twin sibling of his son's .

" Welp , I'm off to play the role of Sir Cock Blocker Almighty . " Jon commented cheerfully and Sami's father roared laughter behind him .

 He doused his anatomy from the scalp downward with teeth chattering icy cold water , collecting a mouthful of liquid refreshment that he didn't swallow .

Face to face , eye to eye , arms around each others waists and hips , platform , multi strapped and buckled knee high Demonias touching the falling apart ' Emo Cowboy ' Western style boots , the couple kissed .

Over and over , smooching more than breathing .

 Jon cut  short their  lip-lock midway through the couple's kiss by tapping Sami on the shoulder and when his bestie turned around , scowling , spat the water straight into his frowning , black lipstick smudged face .

" You asshole !  "  Sami  blurted , snickering and rubbing his saturated skin quickly .

" Message from your Dad to keep it in your pants if you ain't packing protection . " Jon  said cheekily .

" Yeah , ' cause Dad would've really spit on me . "  Sami grumbled , still drying .

" Don't complain . " Jessicka beamed , hip bumping her soggy boyfriend . " The wet look makes you even cuter . "

  Sami blushed rosy pink over his damp pores .

  Jon sucked back laughter .

" So , I'm ... like a third wheel now ? "

" No stress , hot mess . "  Sami answered . " You're always welcome here . You are our family . "

" He's right about family , my future brother in law . " Jess said and one of Anarchy's grandchildren and namesake burrowed in a pocket , staking a slight claim next to the female human's pale and curvaceous figure .

Chaos , still going strong and perched on a branch at rooftop level , cawed loudly .

A few cats investigated the towering mounds of garbage , sniffing discarded furniture , oily auto parts , defunct umbrellas and busted radios .

Inside Jessicka's shed roller derby helmet , next to her skates , a Chihuahua - wire haired terrier mix curled into a furry ball , snoring .

" You mean I get free cake and won't have to crash the wedding party ? Cooooool ! " Jon whooped . Puppy Riot grunted sullenly in his sleep at the unwelcome noise .

" Yep . " Jessicka chortled , picking cat and dog hairs that clung to her homemade black and red corset top , long sleeved electric purple fishnet top , shredded black and lime green tutu and zombie green leggings .

She picked up a wrench while the male BFFs matching in sleeveless solid color tees , blue jeans and black pointed toe boots ,  checked beneath the car hood .

The trio examined the tires in preparation for the local fairgrounds ' demolition derby they'd entered .

What they were born to do , destroy .

They were mayhem .

They were combatants , those who brought violence and pain .

They were , oh yes indeed , family .

 

        

Chapter Text

Des Moines , Iowa - Spring 2006

 Leati junior stuck another handful of napkins beside the paper plate , sat the lidded styro cup next to them and rushed to the front door .

" Hello , sweetie ! " his Mom stated , trying to lean in to kiss his cheek while not spilling the armload of brown grocery bags at the same time .

" I can get - " Joe  offered , taking away her burden of bundles .

" There are more in the ... " his mom  said , turning back to look at the station wagon parked in the short excuse for a driveway .

Mother and son glanced at one another and laughed , finding humor in the lightly awkward moment .

Laughter could be hard to express in the last three years , especially when the negative emotions and pessimistic feelings cut in line , shoving and elbowing their cruel way to the front .

" I ... uh , brought home ' junk food dinner . ' " Joe  pointed out the Maid Rite takeout he'd grabbed on the way back to their little one story , two bedroom , one and a half bathroom house .

He would never call it a home .

Home was Florida , where his brother and Dad had remained after the -

 Joseph grimaced and blinked . Maybe that would make his eyelids quit stinging , tiny wet needles that itched .

" Hmmmm , onion rings , sweet potato fries , salads ... " the woman in her early forties examined the fast food meals , smiling . " Loose meat sandwiches and milkshakes . "

 Joseph shuffled items around in the fridge , keeping the breakables , such as eggs far from the heavier things .

For a little while , he watched his mother when she picked celery , tomatoes and lettuce out of the bags and stored them in the crisper drawer.

Anybody who didn't know him ( and some people who did ) may have never guessed that they were parent and child .

Mom , white and part Italian , notably with her golden brown hair could have easily passed more for Jon's mother - although he and Colbs both liked to tease that their buddy was the lovechild of Poison Ivy and Steve Austin .

Botany expertise and beer swilling .

 He chuckled and magnet - pinned the lengthy grocery receipt to the fridge front .

" Strawberry for you . Chocolate and vanilla blended for me . " the teen grinned .

" And you set the table too ! Thank you again , hon ! "

 Leati junior shrugged , closing the refrigerator door .

" Nothin ' to cheer for . " he said , heard what  he had said and felt the sudden burn spread over his jaw before he stammered . " It's on - only cheap plates and plastic cutlery , nothing fancy . "

" No matter if it's styrofoam or twenty four karat gold , it still means the world to me you're as helpful and a good son that you are . "

" Awh , Maaaaahm . " Joe sat quickly , chewing on onion rings .

His entire body tingled inside and he knocked on wood that his mother didn't notice .

Why had he said cheer ? !

Ohhh , he knew .

Bistre ringlets crowning her small and pretty head .

Dainty features .

Gorgeous smile .

" Windowsill ! " the Samoan  squeaked , hoping to veer his ' other brain ' off the fantasy highway .

" Hmmm ? " his Mom , the Jamie Lee Curtis lookalike , asked , brows arched at his shrill yelp .

" There are flowers for you on the windowsill . " Joe  stumbled over the words until he gradually calmed down . " You didn't see them , did you ? ! "

 The woman beamed at her son's snickering and merry wink .

She nodded at the squat , clear , hard plastic vase and the tiny light pink and pale violet bouquet it held .

" These are lovely . They remind me of the ones your father would bring me when - "

" You first met ? Or began dating ? " Joe wondered eagerly , always glad to hear stories about his father , anything , for that matter - just as long as it was positive only .

" Both of those , actually . "

 Joe let his fries grow cold . Hearing about his parents' pasts bested sweet potatoes any old day of the week anyway .

" Did he tell you that he was fired from the delivery service ? " his mother inquired , amusement in her voice and a happier glow in her eyes .

" Yeah , ' cause - . "

" Because . "

" Because he kept visiting you when he was supposed to be taking people their mail . "

" He would be at my parents house each week when we were younger . Then , after years went by , he asked me to start a home with him . "

" That was ... bold . "  Joe commented , wondering if he could be gutsy enough to do the same . He trembled again , thinking about his  girl  and the electricity thrill was glorious .

" Cold , hon ? " his Mom looked at the melted milkshake , her eyelids lowering .

" Not much , no . " Joseph  paused , wadded up the burger paper into a greasy , melted cheese smudged ball . " Tell me the rest . "

 The woman chortled , flipping her plate into the tall , bag lined trash can .

" You've heard it all before , so many times it may be memorized . "

" Well , I'm considering writing a book ... "  her son kidded and smiled . The flowers looked better on the narrow counter .

" What I want you to keep in mind - don't ever forget - is being real is one of the most important things anyone can do . Your father's showing off and ' staying in character ' act , what he did on television ... that was okay for other women but I loved him for being genuine . A wonderful man with a giant , unselfish heart . "

" Do you still love him ? "

" We still care about each other . Some bumps in the road and hurdles but no hate . "

" Then why did you get divorced ? ! "

" We aren't divorced , just separated ! "

" It's the SAME THING ! "

Somehow , in the center of their back and forth shouting exchange , the vase was hit and tilted .

  He snatched it , placing the object upright .

" I'm sorry . "

Joe's head snapped up , hearing his mother's shaky , hesitant voice .

His cheeks scorched .

" No , I'm the one that ... I shouldn't have - "

The older woman exhaled , sorrowful and patient .

" Agreed that we're acting ridiculous and petty ? "

" Yes ! Yes and I'm sorry . And you're welcome , a billion times and more . "

 His Mom appeared baffled .

" For ? "

" Everything , Mom ! You gave me life ! You've been telling me Thanks since you came home from work . I owe you so much and instead of saying that I'm grateful , I've stuffed my face with garbage food , like a jerk . "

" I made a mess of the arrangement . "  she mumbled , wiping up the splashed water . " What are these ? Lavender ? "

  Joe wrung out the mop before sweeping the rest of the scattered , loose petals .

Something that sounded like Hepatitis ... what was the name ? ! - Dammit , Jon would know !

 He thought awhile  longer .

" Hepatica ! " he called out at last , feeling smug . " That's the name . Jon taught me . He is the plant expert , fun - loving and easy - going . "

Joe was bright . He kept silent about the chain smoking , alcohol ' round the clock and the rare times the trio had snuck into strip clubs .

His Mom would faint if he ever mentioned any of those things .

" The one who never stands still , always bouncing off the walls like a giddy kangaroo ? " she guessed incorrectly .

" No , that's CJ , Mom . " Joe replied , not saying his brunette buddy's first name since he loathed it , preferring CJ or ' Colbs ' as a replacement .

" The forever caffeinated gourmet . " his mother said , following a quick smile .

" Fleet-footed and quick-witted , yes , ma'am . "

" I haven't seen them lately , on their Schwinns and appalling the elderly neighbors - "

" Awwwh , Mom , you're making them sound like total menaces . "

" As the famous saying goes , their bark is worse than their bite . So ... where have they been ? "

 Joe mulled over the answer , not wanting to because time had zoomed by faster than he had liked . One year - one year , he had been happy and felt accepted by his ' second family ' - but months became hours , weeks were minutes and the once Three Not - Musketeers split to leave behind a solo Samoan .

" They ... moved out of state . "

 His mother was aware of her child's heartache and had made plans to rid him of it as best as she could , asap .

" Leati and I have been discussing - "

" You're getting back together ? ! "

" Interrupted ? "

" Oh , sorry . "  Joe sucked back his out of the blue , anticipating smile . His older brother was even more optimistic , earning him the childhood nickname , ' Rosey . '

" Has  Matthew told you about the restaurant ? "

" Same as you , yeah , post cards and once a week phone calls . He's planning an expansion . "

 Joe chortled at how unbelievable life was . On his next birthday , he'd be the Big Two One and his career successful , hard working brother Matt , twenty nine !

" Begin in Florida . Land in Ohio . " his Mom said , knocking him out of his thoughts .

" Ohio ? ! Neat . " Sika junior  commented . Had his ' boys ' been there , he would have had to break up an argument that would more than likely be started by Colbs  claiming Iowa was the superior state .

" He would say it's more significant than neat . "

  Joe jumped in excitement .

" Is she nice ? Is it serious ? ! "

" She - in my eyes - appears to be The One for him and he's over the moon with joy . And yes , it's quite serious . " the woman looked aside , clearing her throat . " He bought a ring last week . "

" Way to go , big brother ! " Joe whooped before slamming his lips shut . " Forgot the indoor voice . "

" This time , it's okay . I'm pleased also . "

  Her youngest continued chuckling softly , his eyes sparkling and mood brighter .

" Besides that , I need to tell you the other big news . "

  Joseph cringed . Sure , Mom sounded cheerful enough , but ...

" Since he'll be moving to Ohio , I'm going to relocate with him - "

 Her son gulped . Leaving Florida to live in the Midwest was already top of the charts cruddy . He didn't want to move , unless it meant going home .

" I don't like the thought of your father being alone so we've agreed that you can return to Winter Park . "

 Joe did the greatest football tackle he ever had in his career so far , gentle , of course .

" Auuuugghh ! Thank you ! "

 His Mom giggled , lightly pushing out from the embrace .

" Thank Sika too . And I do not want to hear about you being lazy and having a mess in the house , okay ? "

" Oooooohhh , I won't , I won't ! I promise - Dad won't have to lift a finger . I'll clean the whole place until it shines . I'll cook , mow the lawn ... "

 The woman kept giggling .

" He isn't getting off the hook that easily . Behave yourself and make sure your father doesn't become a slacker either . "

" I love you , Mom ! "

" I love you as well , my grown up little baby .  "  she  beamed and patted his face , then shook her head . " You need to shave . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

And barber his day one facial hair he did , learning the painful and stinging hard way that aftershave and razor nicks did not play well together .

 Joe washed off the dotted blood stains with warm , soapy water , stood and tingled awhile before towel patting dry .

The young man chose to use more than his share of cologne , his crack at drawing attention away from the light bleeding .

" Oh , peyeeeeeewww ! "

" That's meant to be splashed on , not bathed in , man ! "

Jimmy rolled down a window and held his nose , grimacing .

Jey couldn't since he had both hands on the wheel but did stick out his tongue , making gagging noises .

" Thanks for the support , Cuz Doubled . " Joe grumbled , sprawled in the backseat , frowning at the pretending - to - dry heave identical twins . " Comedians , you ain't . "

" Well , you ain't either , Mister No Sense of Humor . "

" Unlike either of you goofs , I have proper hygiene , so there . " Joseph grunted , wishing he'd brought his headphones along to drown out the sound of pesty , youthful relatives .

" He's in love , haven't you heard ? " Jey asked his brother .

" Shut ... " their cousin sat up , glaring .

" Ooooohhh , Gerlinde . " Jimmy mocked , pretending to fan himself .

" Ooooohhh , Naomi Trinity . " Joe snapped in reply . " Grow up , immature snots ! "

" Hey now , we worry about you . " Jimmy said in a low voice . " Me and bro's girls are with us but you go head over heels for the one who already has a boyfriend ! "

" The best player , second only to the QB and on our rival team . " Jey added briskly , watching for red lights .

" Yes and he treats her like his possession ! She's a beautiful , strong woman , not a trinket or anyone's property . "

                       /\/\/\/\/\/\

 

" No way those cuticles of yours have any vitamins and minerals . "  Jimmy scolded his relative before he plopped into the cloth back , folding beach chair .

" I'm not chewing my nails . " Joseph lied , going to work on another thumb and gnawing nervously .

" Uhm ... yeah , we're right here , sitting next to you ! We can easily see what you're doing , been twiddling your thumbs and fidgeting . " Jey added while members of both teams , including the cheerleaders ' hung out ' after the game .

The two groups kept a distance from one another , still within view but hardly any mingling took place among the rivals .

 Joseph squirmed in his plastic lawn chair placed on the patch of lawn normally used by tailgaters on the Big Game days .

He hadn't taken his eyes off of Gerlinde yet - and didn't want to .

Had Craig not been at her side practically every second , he would have frowned less .

When she stepped away from him momentarily to spend time conversing with Trin , he relaxed somewhat .

Naomi was the most popular girl in the crowd , her complexion darker than her bestie's .

Naomi was the cheerful dancer with the whimsical fashion statements - neon hued clothes , glow in the dark makeup and washable vivid green chalk streaks through her long braided hair .

But ...

Gerlinde was -

Perfection .

An absolute Goddess .

Looking on the bright side was a brittle thing to have ongoing confidence in and it cracked .

"  Ger  , we're heading out . What are you up for , movies , bowling ? "  Craig scooted in beside his girlfriend , draping an arm over her shoulders and bringing her closer .

  Joe growled , then chomped on an index finger .

" Can't we wait awhile longer ? I like being with my friends . "

" Oh sure , but not with me ? ! " Craig  hissed , frowning and yanking his arm away .

" I did not say that ! You're putting words in my mouth ! "

" I know what I heard , Gerlinde . Don't call me stupid . "

" I never - "

" Okay , just stop , you guys . " Trinity hopped up , hands raised and arms spread . " Cut it out . "

" You stay out of this and mind your own business , Rainbow Brite ! " Craig whipped around to scowl at Naomi .

 Jimmy was on his feet in a blink of time with his cousin rapidly at his side .

" Get off of Naomi's case ! She can say whatever she wants to a jerk like you ! " Jimmy snapped , nose to nose with Craig before Trinity pulled him back .

 Gerlinde tilted her head , a close - lipped smile blooming on her mouth before shifting her eyes from the three men .

" Head back to the bench you're so used to warming , Fatu ! " Craig grimaced , arms crossed . " Hell , you tell him how it feels when your butt has carved a crater into the wood , Sika junior . There isn't any player on the planet worse than you are ! "

Joe knew that he heard his crush's slight gasp and his body language was pure reflex - shoulders diving into an ashamed slump and burrowing his heated face into both hands , hiding and mortified .

" You can stay here as long as you want to , Ger . " Craig beamed , focusing on the young lady .

His girlfriend blushed faintly and smiled .

" I ... I - thank you . "

The six foot one , burly young adult snatched her bejeweled clutch in one swipe .

" But I'm takin ' this and keeping it until you learn to do what I say , Ger - aaaaauuuuuggghhh ! "

 His furious enemy crouched , fire in his eyes and with his upper lip curled back to bare his teeth when he snarled , one huge fist pressed forcefully - punched - into the ground .

The only person not gawking at Joe's dynamic , unforeseen tackle that had sent his enemy skidding through the dirt , grass clippings flying left and right , getting caught in his teeth and now bleeding nose , was Craig himself .

" Gerlinde is not your property , you hear me ? ! You don't own her and you will never hurt her , I know this for a fact because if you ever try to , I will be there to stop you , jackass . "  Joe growled , standing up and stepping aside from his fallen , sore rival .

Craig wobbled to his aching feet , shot several furious looks at his team mates and the other youth gathered around , whispering , pointing , staring .

He glowered at his girl for the last time , abandoning Gerlinde at the speed of a race horse galloping down the track to the finish line .

" Daaaaaaamn , big man ! " Jey cheered for his cousin , slapping him on the back and going crazy with the amount of fist bumping . " You do that on the field , Hell , we might win  a game some day ! "

" He's spectacular , isn't he ? " Jimmy asked after a big kiss , Naomi happily in his arms .

" Yeah , he takes after you , I suppose . " she answered , giggling .

" Yes ma'am , gets being cool from me . "

 Joe squatted and helped the object of his affection gather the things that had spilled from her purse , careful to avoid touching or directly looking at those embarrassing paper wrapped tubes used for feminine hygiene .

" Thank you . "

" Any time . And I mean that . " he paused and then took the feet first dive . " Would you like to go on a daaaaaaaa - "

The question caught in his throat while his cheeks became a light pink .

The world had suddenly quit turning because oh yay , she was smiling and touching his hand !

" Anywhere except bowling and the movies . "  Gerlinde beamed .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" And we have a winner ! "

Joseph clapped loudly , grinning the entire time as the freckle - faced game operator handed Gerlinde a large plush toy dalmatian .

The Samoan melted further when she promptly passed the toy to a wailing child being pushed along in a stroller .

He caught sight of his relatives nearby and waved .

They'd all won prizes as well , Naomi sporting LED shutter shades , her boyfriend in a matching light - up ballcap , Jey and his fiance toting inflated rainbow striped beachballs , peace sign print yo - yos and packs of smiley face ' tattoo ' stickers .

Joe's stomach growled . They had goodies too , grilled and fried ' gator kabobs , freshly squeezed orange juice slush drinks , bags of kettle corn and cups of mini donuts .

The young man grumbled and flung another ring roughly .

It bounced off of a bottle top - plink ! - and he scowled .

 Gerlinde would never love him if he was a loser .

He muttered some R - rated language under his breath and hurled another ring .

Plink !

" Crap ! "

" Don't . " she reached up , rubbed his back . " It isn't important enough to get stressed over . "

" But I want to give you everything in the world ! " he cried out , making them both flinch from the increased volume of his upset response .

 Joseph closed his eyes , head down and frowning .

He wished his hair was long and he would have draped it over his face at that moment to curtain his shame .

" Sorry . "

" Ssshh , shh , shhh . " the young woman rested her cheek against his chest and his heart rate accelerated into breaking the speed limit . " That's what you want for me . What do you want for you , Mister Leati Joseph Anoa'i . ? "

Anyone who didn't believe in a Heaven clearly had never seen Gerlinde's smile .

" I ... well , it's your decision and maybe too soon to be asking because I can't afford - " Joe sputtered , the inside of his mouth dry as sand , opposite of his upper body which was mortifying saturated .

" What ? " Gerlinde wondered , beaming .

Yeah , that radiant and softly teasing smile was absolutely , without question , his palataiso .

" I want you to be my Missus Leati Joseph Anoa'i . " he blurted , stuttering the truth .

Oh .

Whoa .

Well , the cat was out of the bag now and boy , did that feline meow .

Sika and Rosey weren't the only bold guys in the family .

Like father , like sons .

" Look up . " she encouraged him and he did .

A thin cloud floated past the crescent moon , a silvery - white glowing sliver in the dark .

Starlight .

Sun rays that broke through the eclipse .

They held onto one another during the kiss .

She was his everything .

The world .

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

                                    

Colby winced at the proximity of the sharp blade to his hand .

He gulped down the apprehension until it settled in somewhere above his navel as his bestie carved into -

" Yeeeeaaahh ! Our gear has arrived ! " Jimmy whooped , peeling back the flaps on top of the big cardboard box and peeking inside .

Colby grinned too , discarding sticky shredded tape bits and feeling light - headed , dazzled by their new attire .

Jimmy flipped the paring knife back deftly into a locking file cabinet drawer , crossed his arms and smirked , ecstatic , at his bestie .

" Can you believe it ... ? ! We're real wrestlers now ! "

" MTV callin ' knocked me off of my feet as well , man . " the Iowan laughed and made sure no cats were in his way before propelling his body back onto the mattress . " A TV deal ! We're going to be on TV and everyone will find out how incredible , accomplished and marvelous we are ! "

Jimmy smiled at his friend and lover enthusiastically kicking his feet in the air in hilarious dog paddle motions .

He reclined beside his favorite male , automatically and flirtatiously running long fingers through his boyfriend's hair .

" They'll see you , my rock star . I'm merely your groupie , nothing else . "

" Merely ? ! Nothing ? ! Jeez , Jimmy , if it weren't for you and Xio , I may have never considered ... " Colby paused and sighed while his BFF and lover nuzzled him , tracing and nibbling from the throat to his bare chest . " I'm forever grateful you are in my life and changed it for the weird and wonderful side of better . "

" You're oh - so - welcome . " Xio purred , licking one side of his bestie's face and reaching for his groin just before being literally cock blocked .

" Let's check out our apparel ! " Colby yelped .

The older male strained to keep his partner in more ways than one close to him , snapped his fingers when the younger male bounced from the bed and advanced towards their recently delivered custom made garb .

" Damn , almost got him ! "

" Awww , cool ! " Colby exclaimed , rummaging through his attire - each item from the patent boots to the biker shorts to the kick pads were black as non - red licorice .

" You're happy ? " Jimmy asked , his Hello Kinky tee riding up above his navel while he smiled at his bestie and the growing mountain of spandex and pleather .

" Happy and satisfied . " his buddy grinned , separating his gym and workout clothing from the in - ring gear . " And I promise that I will repay you . "

" Champ , you're shirtless in my bedroom . " Xio sighed blissfully around his red cherry Ring Pop and rolled to one side , his neon pink gummy barbed wire bracelets slipping from wrist to nearer his elbow . " That's like wishes granted for every girl my age . "

The Iowan smirked and held up the pair of clean ocean blue and Barbie pink long tights with reverse colors of fringe - pink on the blue leg , blue sewn onto the pink side .

" Better than sex or better than money , honey ? " Colby asked , teasing , before noticing the one - legged , metallic purple sequined trunks and tights combo - wrestling's version of Franken-Clothing . " Whoa . "

" Mine , obviously . " Jimmy stated brazenly . " Oh , and the tights too . "

His boyfriend blushed .

" Forget the cash , baby . " The FTM young adult insisted , smiling slyly . " This Bad Girl's reward is you putting on a strip show , Tyyyyyyyler . "

Then he relaxed near to dissolving , melting into the plush pillows behind him as he stared admiringly at his beloved and closest pal trying on the jet black ' wrasslin ' ' garb .

Payments in a big lump sum .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" You'll miss Thanksgiving . "

" Daaaaad , I'm not going to - " Colby whined . " The tapings only run for five days , tops and end the Thursday before the holiday so I'll be home . Even if the flights are behind schedule , I'll still make it back on the weekend , okay ? So don't worry . "

Raul raked piles of leaves , his son shoveled them into a wheelbarrow and rolled them to the compost heap while Sofia dragged and unloaded paper bags full to the brim with root vegetable peelings and apple cores .

Parents and child each grabbed a Jack O' Lantern in the earliest stages of mushy , flattened decay and tossed them into the mound of scraps .

" This calls for warm water , soap and a good , thorough hand scrubbing . " Sofia stated .

" Agreed . " Raul said . " And back inside to escape from the chilly air . "

" I'm up for making popcorn , smores and more apple cider , personally . " their son added , sprinting along in his work boots . " And pizza . And hot chocolate with vanilla marshmallows . "

His padres adoptivos looked at each other and laughed .

" Always a hungry and thirsty man . "

" Our growing boy ! "

" I'm twenty ! I'm supposed to be like this ... and besides , I could have a tapeworm . "

Sofia grimaced .

" Don't say that . "

Colby grinned and chuckled , scraping his footwear soles on the bristly doormat .

" Kidding ! Joking , Mom and Dad . "

" And you do it so well . " Raul commented dryly .

Three faces peered inside the fridge and six eyes perused its contents .

" There's leftover meatloaf . We can have sandwiches . "

Raul finished drying his hands and threw the washcloth at his son .

" And butternut squash soup . "

Sofia joined the men doing prep work .

" I'll make snickerdoodles . "

" Entree , side and dessert . Sounds fantastic ! " Colby plucked from the dog treats storage container two roast beef flavor edible Nylabones and doled them out to Perro and Shun . " There ya go ! Now they'll stay busy and keep out of our way while we're slapping together dinner . "

After the seasoning , blending , rolling and portioning was complete , the young man munched eagerly on his sandwich .

Sofia lacked the gusto that her spouse and child had towards the meal . She eyed the main course with contempt .

" Leftovers . " she groaned , her voice tinged with disdain .

" See it as what it is . " Raul recommended graciously . " Something so excellent that we crave it a second time . "

" Yep , it's perfect and tasty . "Colby agreed , following gobbling his extra mustard smeared bread and tomato slice topped meat with delight .

" Twice flattered . " Sofia beamed . " My reward . "

Her question eclipsed the steady sounds of a pair of Yorkies and two men chewing .

" So when do we get to watch one of your matches ? "

" You and Dad have seen them . " Colby insisted , scraping his soup bowl clean .

" Not the ones taped . Not the recordings . " Sofia replied , not backing down .

" How about your time in New York ? You've not told us what happened there . "

Colby choked on a bite of cookie and wheezed out sugary , buttery crumbs at his father's inquiry .

Raul patted his son's back and shoulders immediately and Sofia poured more water .

" Hurry ! Drink this . "

" I'm - I'm okay . " the young adult promised shakily . He managed to smile . " Ate too fast . "

" Are you sure - "

" Yeah ! " Colby interrupted . " Seriously , my work ... so far , what little has been recorded is just a learning experience for the wrestlers in training . Something for us to watch so that we can see our capabilities and the areas that we can improve in . "

" I know what's going on . "

Colby stared , astounded and petrified at his father's smirk .

If he had found out - or guessed correctly - about the gay porn , then ... Jeez !

" Sofia , he prefers to keep his work life from us because , as parents do to their child , we embarrass him . "

The young man practically dribbled onto the floor , evaporating .

They didn't know ! -

Or if they did , they were damn good at hiding it .

Colby beamed at his frowning mother .

" I'm saving the main event for you two . What I'm doing now is a stepping stone , path , road to the big time . Major leagues and I'll make a million times sure that both of you will be there to see it all . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Lemon .

The sticky thing being waved in front of his eyes had a lemon scent .

Worst of all , the vivid yellow Smiley face sucker that had been pulled out of the front of the presently dominant man's skin - tight , shimmering gold and silver trunks .

And it was quickly nearing - too close for any comfort - his mouth !

Colby lay face - up , cringing , sweat trickling off of his back to dampen the canvas underneath him while he closed his eyes and turned his face away .

" Hey , Chia pet gone sleazy ! " Jimmy yelled from his place next to the corner as he paced on the outside . " Don't you dare touch him ! "

" What ? ! Are you going to save him , Blouse Boy ? " Joey Ryan taunted . " You can't because you're on that side of the ropes and we're in here ! "

" Shut up , Sasquatch . " Colby managed to spit , writhing and thrashing to fend off his opponent's dick in his face .

Joey smiled wryly and patted the rival on both cheeks , squeezing his opponent's face roughly .

" Oh , you newbs . Lost your first match already . " the man that could have easily gave Hasslehoff a run for his chest hair money boasted .

" Yeah . " Colby gave the verbal part of his retaliation before stunning Ryan by sliding backwards through his spread legs and agilely kipped - up . " But we're gonna win our second ! "

Whap !

The Iowan's brows elevated , ceiling bound .

He whirled gracefully to confront an impatient , seething , glaring Xio .

Jimmy responded with an identical scowl .

" Dafuq are you tagging in for ? ! I've got this ! "

" Keeping your photogenic rump from taking the one , two , three count , whadda ya think I'm doing ? ! "

If a glare could make sounds , Colby's would have caused noise pollution three blocks away .

" You have no faith in me ? " he wondered , stalling the impending whine and crack in his voice he hated .

" Au contraire , Tye - Tye . In comparison , she's the top pick . Buffy's always been too much of a airheaded , skanky goody two shoes for my tastes . And Faith has the cooler wardrobe , as well . " Xio commented , adjusting his collar so that all of the pyramid studs faced forward , silver chain dangling .

" That's not what I ask - " his partner stammered before the ref motioned for him to step outside of the ropes .

" En Garde ! " Jimmy whipped out his pink flamingo shaped lollipop , brandishing it assertively at Joey who groaned and blanched . " Divine , meet Smiley . Smiley , Divine . Okay ? Okay . Now , let's rock . "

" Looks like someone's bound for therapy . " Ryan scoffed , barely evading a swat to his crotch by the weapon made from food coloring and heated sugar .

Thwack !

Jimmy's jaw plummeted and the referee evidently was hoping for an aspirin and a career change by that time .

" What ? Are ? You doing ? ! " he griped , staring down Colby .

The younger man shrugged and firmly shoved him out of the way .

" Tagging in ! Duh ! "

" I already have ! "

" Well , unlike you , I'm going to win this match ! "

" You are a child . " Jimmy stated icily . " A camel , a potted tree more than a wrestler ! "

" Then why am I in the ring right now ? Clue me in , Einstein . " Colby asked , more sarcastic than usual , frowning .

" Because I brought you to this ! You're a nobody without me ! " his partner uttered the scathing remark , voice rising and face turning sunburn red .

" Nobody this . " Colby replied and shoved Jimmy straight in the chest .

His tag partner snarled and pushed back .

Joey Ryan looked beside himself and so did his tag partner while the ref , perhaps , was planning his own departure .

" Get off of my back ! "

" I will ! "

Jimmy bent at the waist and Colby dashed up his friend's body , propelling off of both shoulders in a ' ninja playing leapfrog ' move .

Thwack !

Thwack !

Two fierce , fast kicks to the upper bod and face , right at chin level and every time , they fell .

Every time .

Joey staggered .

Every .

" Tim ... " Jimmy quipped , smirking .

Time .

" Burton . " Colby added before shooing his bestie to the tag - in side of the turnbuckles , then flopping down onto his vulnerable , dizzy opponent to get the win , amusing and entertaining the crowd of ' plants . '

" Burton ? Burton ? ! You're shitting me , right ? "

Colby shrugged again , scooting from  Joey's fuzzy chest in a hurry .

" You're the guy with Scissorhands hairdo , not me . "

Jimmy chuckled and nodding , flicking a  sly wink at the bewildered ref .

" And you have - well , I can't honestly describe your appearance without being bleeped . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

"Every time ! They fall for it every - damn - time . "

" That's ' cause we are such talented actors . " Jimmy grinned and continued down the dingy hallway , dodging items the ring crew had stashed next to a drinking fountain and across from a janitor's closet .

" Ah , I'm an actor now ? No longer a camel ? " Colby asked jovially from behind and slightly above his bestie who carried him piggyback .

" You know that I love you and was just kidding , Champ . " Xio said , tilting his head up for a quick kiss . He automatically smirked devilishly . " And as for longer - "

His stomach rumbled and both guys immediately laughed at the bizarre sounds .

" Pampas Grill Churrascaria at the Original Farmer's Market ? " Colby suggested . " Although with a long - ass line and thirty minutes or more to wait , you might pass out from hunger weakness . "

" I'm strong and have the latest issue of Cat Fancy that I've not read yet . I'll tough it out . " his buddy smiled gently .

" And I have another album downloaded plus a mixtape we can listen to , so PGC it is then . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Salad of greens . " Colby commented , surveying the feast before him and snickered . " Sounds like that guy in New York wrote this part of the menu . "

" Which one ? " Xio asked before scooping up another few bites of garlic rice and stringbean salad . " Not the - "

" No , this was ... " his boyfriend paused to dig into cheese bread , fried plantains , eggplant salad and chicken wrapped in bacon . Almost empty plates smeared with the remains of top sirloin , pork loin and leg of lamb sat to the side , next to bottled water , coconut water and small dishes of flan .

" Hmmmm ? Inquiring minds , Tye . "

" One of the bizarre , ' free spirit ' siblings that runs the Broken clothing store . "

Jimmy looked blank .

" Where I bought your PoisonBlack vegan leather jacket from . " Colby continued .

" Huh . That makes me the Poison then . " his lover washed down flan with a slurp of water and smirked .

" Looks can be deceiving . " the Iowan smiled and burped . " Whew ! Sorry , more in than out . "

The team had a brief laughing fit , the older man over his serving of black beans , the younger giggling saucily while chewing on spicy chicken .

" Nothing wrong with being out . " Xio said thoughtfully before lifting his dish of flan to his bestie's .

The tiny silver pendant attached to a black cord shook and Colby smiled at both the jewelry and its owner .

" Voch'inch' . Nada . " he agreed and they clinked the small bowls together like wine glasses .

Jimmy resumed grazing - Caesar salad , hard boiled eggs , cheese bread , pasta salad and broccoli .

Colby bit into another garlic chicken drumstick down to the bone .

" Carnivore ! " Jimmy wiped his lips , chortling .

Colby formed his hands into ' claws ' , widened his eyes and curled his upper lip to expose his front teeth .

" Rawrrrr ! "

" Tyler-rannosaurus Sex . " his strange friend beamed in approval , hearts and stars in his eyes and a stomach full of Brazilian food to boot .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Back to the drawing board , Tye Tye , unless there's going to be a second season . "

" Doubt it . Hell , they barely made it through the first . " Colby said , trying to find a comfortable position to sit in with his back near the brick and concrete exterior of the warehouse - like structure .

They sat exhausted and soaked in sun rays outside the building , lounging on a cement staircase .

" Flask ? " the older man removed an eight ounce stainless steel container from his long strap handle , peony hued purse .

" Yes , please . " Colby grabbed , uncapped and swigged . His eyes widened , he grinned and shook his head rapidly . " Woooooo ! Kicked in strong . "

" Wanta see the new trick I learned ? Self taught . "

" Isn't it obscene for you to show your ' tricks ' in public ? "the Iowan kidded , passing the flask back which his bestie waved away .

" No , watch - this is cool . Watch ! "

" I'm watchin ' . " Colby stated wearily following a jaw cracking yawn . " Ouch ! "

" You okay ? " Jimmy peeled the cellophane from a pack of cigarettes .

" Ehhh , just a tiny pain . Nothing to rush to the ER over . "

Jimmy lit a cig , took a drag and blew out three good size smoke rings as his partner watched .

" No offense , my man but hon , that ain't new . "

" I wasn't finished . " the older man said and swiftly pitched the tube o ' nicotine through the rings with ease . " Ta - Da ! "

" Bravo , bravo ! " Colby cheered and applauded . " Really frikking awesome but go and make sure it's put out so we don't wind up setting the place on fire . "

Jimmy took a quick little bow , blushed , smiled and darted down the steps .

" That was freaking cool . " a familiar female voice said from in the doorway and with no hesitation , Colby shot daggers at the speaker .

Automatically , Jimmy became perky and fixated - the opposite of his tiredness minutes before . His red face , along with Colby's glower , deepened .

" Oh , hey , Lace . "

' Lacey the Disgrace-y ' Colby mused sourly , keeping the disparaging commentary inside his skull ,  not flowing over his tongue and exiting his mouth without warning .

She was as much his trustworthy friend as Perro and Shun preferred going to the V-E-T and taking a B-A-T-H instead of a W-A-L-K .

He didn't like how she turned his naturally confident , free spirited buddy into a stammering , sweating mess .

He didn't like how every - gawdamn - time she ignored him .

He didn't like her at all , period .

Not even from the start , despite her pretty heart shaped face , long light brown hair that flowed down her back and that large , sugary sweet smile given before and after her cue card written questions during the taped interview segments .

Hell , that was the thing about foxes , they could be sneaky .

Jimmy tripped barrelling up the steps , grabbing the railing to stop the nose dive .

The younger man didn't offer a helping hand , the way he commonly would .

He sat there stationary , observant and left out .

" I've been looking for you . "

" For me ? ! "

Forgotten Colby rolled his eyes . Jimmy  and  Lacey both dismissed the juvenile action .

" The name ... " Lacey said . " I've figured out almost all of the other teams names but - "

" We like Maggie . " the Iowan spoke , his heartbeat thudding . The back of his neck was tense and sore under strands of dark brown hair . The biggest vein on his forehead had swelled , blue , prominant and ringed by burning red flesh .

" Mmmm , uh huh . Yeah . " the young woman replied , leaning over and sitting shoulder to shoulder with Jimmy .

And she was playing with his hair !

Colby shut his eyes to blank out images of her exploring fingers , counted sloooooowly and peered through the flames .

" He's telling the truth . We really do . I mean ... she is the coolest out of all the characters . The rest are cheesy stereotypes and records skipping - same old , same old . But Maggie's special . She's not in a box , does her own thing and doesn't care what others think about her . " Jimmy said breathlessly .

Colby glowered at the red brick rectangle towering in front of his smarting , watery eyes . Hmmm ... maybe he could find a solid object to hit them both upside their hollow gourd craniums with .

" Can I have some of that ? " Lacey pointed at the flask .

" Sure , go ahead . " the older man handed it over , smiling the entire time .

His disgruntled boyfriend sighed resentfully for a full thirty seconds , eyelids tender and palms aching from the stab of his fingernails digging into them .

" Whoa ! Gin and tonic ? " the young woman gasped , blinked and guessed correctly following the first powerful swig .

" Yeah ! More G than T however , now the work day has ended . " Jimmy replied , unquestionably thrilled and bewitched , much like his feline crew were with a freshly opened bag of potent catnip .

" Yeah , ended is right . Work's done , man . Let's go already ! " Colby fussed , tugging his somewhat reluctant partner out of the web that that broad had him knotted in .

" Must  I - uhm ... we ? " his partner gazed helplessly and with longing back at Society X's token ' hot chick ' backstage interviewer .

" Hell yes ! Move it ! " the younger man growled , pulling his friend far out of Lacey's sight and reach .

It was all behind them now .

Wrestling Society X was a wrap , concluded , no more .

Along with The Disgracey , devious skirt , out of the picture and Colby would gladly destroy the camera .

Permanently .

 

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Best . Day . Ever .

One of them anyway .

Forget MTV's nonsense - they'd received the call and although it wasn't a guaranteed stepping stone into Vince territory , it was still ...

Excellent !

No looking back now .

The Iowan perused the interior of the former boxing gym and martial arts training facility - his kind of place with the brick exterior and six rows of metal folding chairs facing the ring .

He and Jimmy squished into the middle section , saying " Excuse me " and " Oops ! Sorry , comin ' through " several times on the way there .

Directly in the center of the ring stood an older man nodding at them all .

Colby craned his neck , squinting to read the name tag clipped onto his shirt's breast pocket .

" G-A-B-E S-A... " he spelled out , flustered . He turned his perplexed expression to face his friend . " Any ideas how we're supposed to pronounce that name ? ! "

Jimmy smiled , patient and unflappable .

" Wait for him to tell us ? "

" Oh ... yeah . " Colby said , his face changing from tanned to pink to stop sign red in less than three minutes . " Good call . "

" Baby , I love you so quit fucking insulting me with the G word . " his partner grumbled .

" ' Kay . " Colby mumbled and sunk lower in the chair .

" I'm going to do roll call now , to get a better idea of who's lagging behind schedule and strike out their names - " Gabe paused while a few wrestlers fidgeted . " So , do me a favor and at least raise your hand when I say your name , okay ? "

Colby flinched and his upper lids ached from the strain of his eyes bulging .

His name ? !

The real name printed on the copy of his birth certificate ? !

" And nothing's in alphabetical order right now , so nobody fret or freak . " Gabe smiled .

" Shit ! " the young man muttered . Gabe could look happy 'til the end of time - dammit ! - Colby was already bothered .

" Matt Sydal . "

" Oh , cooooool ! " Jimmy exclaimed . " Our Cheech and Chong buddy is here . "

" Yeah . " the Iowan said faintly . Soon , way too soon , the cheese jokes would start .

And worse .

" Claude Anthony Cesaro . "

The man that got to his feet briskly , along with his two companions , was a stand - out in the crowd .

All three , in fact , were something else .

' Double C ' had more hair on his knees and around his navel peeking out at times from beneath his workout tank and drawstring gym shorts , than what was on his scalp .

The Iowan peered at the partly shaved head , the thin yet muscular frame and the long limbs , finding he was impressed by this stranger .

" And this is Dragon ... er , Bryan Danielson . " Cesaro remarked before correcting his slip up .

The ' baby faced ' , grinning young male in the ' Earth Day is EVERY day ! ' neon green tee squeezed the Swiss Dave Attell lookalike's hand .

Colby flat - out stared and wondered .

Were they ?

Or -

He put the brakes on speculating which one was the top the exact second that their heavyset , intimidating , take no crap partner grunted , glared and stepped in place next to his friends .

" So you're Nuufolau Seanoa ? " Gabe asked , undeniably impressed .

The larger man grunted again .

" Joel . "

" Joel ? "

The Dragon broke the ice from his big buddy's aloof demeanor and freely gave a award winning smile to a clearly baffled Gabe .

" It's our joke between the three of us . "

Cesaro chimed in , snickering .

" Bry couldn't pronounce his first name so we took from the middle . He's our Samoa Joe . "

" We found him in Japan . " Bryan stated , beaming on and on .

Colby kept gawking .

Japan . Well , that made total sense . The guy was definitely built like a compact version of a Sumo wrestler from head to toes , unlike his and Jon's ' SJ ' , who resembled more of the male model type .

" Nicetoseeya , Joe ! Heyyyyyyy , man , I've missed you ! "

Colby blinked . He absolutely knew that the man's voice had sounded from where the women were sitting -

How strange .

Ten women's names in a row were called next , none of which he recognized .

Back to the guys - eight more - and Jimmy was scowling at ... someone .

" Just who does he think he is ? ! "

The female wrestlers had clustered around the possibly antisocial and from the looks of him , anti - lots of things , guy slouching .

Colby huffed , exhaling an envious breath . The babes were supposed to be focused on him , not all over that skinny weirdo wearing baggy clothes , a lip ring that looked more like a staple and the scruffy , unmistakably Manic Panicked to death banana peel yellow hair .

" Ladies man , I guess . No biggie . "

" Well , he'd better look out because we're his competition ... taking over . "

" Easy on choosing our rivals and enemies this early , feline . " Colby smiled . " Don't blow a gasket . "

" Fine then ! Suit yourself . You'll be sorry . " Xio paused and looked every bit the smug troublemaker he was . " Gasket . "

His beloved chuckled , sucked air to swallow the guffaw and glanced once more at Gabe .

" Jacqueline Christina Ja - "

Jimmy gasped , a complete hiss . So did Colby .

" Uhm , urrrr ... she's not here . " Jimmy leapt out of his seat and Colby picked up the chair after it fell over .

" She isn't ? How do you know ? " Gabe's brows lifted while he questioned the distraught twenty something .

" Because she's a close friend of mine who chickened out at the last second . " the trans young adult tried to look calm . " But I still want to take part in this . "

" You're her - " Gabe scanned the rows of names written . " Brother ? "

" Twin brother . Yes . " Jimmy answered , his once shaky voice now managed and controlled into sturdy and serene .

He smiled , placated , at his Tyler who gave an encouraging and supportive two thumbs up gesture .

Crickets from the peanut gallery about Xio's quirky attire .

Honestly though , it was wrestling which meant the indigo polish on his toe and fingernails , the intentionally runny eyeliner and the purple velvet and suede pantsuit bought in the women's department would be frowned upon more by fans than the wrestlers themselves .

" Close call . " The Iowan whispered once his friend slash lover had sat again .

" Hell yeah . " Xio muttered , cold sweat drying on his arms and neck .

" Colby Jack Black . "

He sighed at the first snickering , the mumbled comments and rose while fellow athletic types chattered around him .

He ignored the snarky utterings of ' Macaroni ! ' and ' Shallow Hal ! ' , balled his hands into two big fists , glowered with extra determination and responded to Gabe .

And noted out of the corner of an eye , the over bleached ladies man staring just as hard as Colby had done earlier to him .

" Yeah , that's me . I'm here . " he blurted and flopped his butt back touching metal , equally humiliated like Jimmy had been .

A woman who appeared to be past middle age , from the looks of the crows feet and her grey streaked hair looped into a bun , stared at the ' new recruits ' sternly .

" Who do you suppose she is ? A trainer , maybe ? " Colby nudged Jimmy and asked under his breath . .

His partner shrugged and pushed the elbow aside .

" Nahhh . There's only , like - ten wrestling chicks here , tops . "

Xio paused and checked out the group again .

" Besides yours truly , that is . "

Colby smirked and restrained his rising laughter once the older woman started to speak .

" Today is a very important day ! "

The happy duo glanced at one another , mouthed ' very important ' and snickered softly .

" Not only will many of you take part in becoming Ring of Honor's future stars , you're in for a treat . Please welcome , to give you advice and a listening ear , one of our biggest talents yet - Phillip Jack Faust ! "

The yellow haired , chick magnet , punk rock ' kid ' untangled his torso from the mound of ladies fondling him and jogged up the steel steps , slipped between the ropes and bounded into the ring , glaring .

" Uh , it's Brooks , not Faust . I gave up on that name not long after I did the same thing with my unreliable father . My best friend's - errrr , girlfriend's too , by the way - last name is Brooks and her family welcomed me with open arms when my bum of a Dad did not . "

Colby heard several women groan their dismay at the girlfriend announcement and only felt a touch of jealously before realizing happily Phil's multiple gorgeous losses were his - and Jimmy's - bed gains .

" Oh ... I - " the older woman crimsoned and scurried away from the frowning young man who snatched the mic out of her trembling hands .

He faced the pop - eyed , slack jawed , quivering , nervous crowd .

" Pardon the technical difficulty . Now back to our regularly scheduled program talking about me getting a so - called wrestling upgrade . "

Most of the audience laughed reluctantly , tense and wiggling in their chairs .

Colby smirked . This one was praiseworthy , egotistical , a genuine heel .

Phil began the half hour long Q and A sesh and Colby tuned out , taking little if any interest hearing about comic books , meeting and getting Hulk Hogan's autograph or hanging out backstage , talking with John Cena .

Yawn .

He bided his time until the crowd had thinned and the sun was setting before making his move .

Nothing pleased him more at the moment than noticing his bestie was chatting with some of the women .

Whew ! Much better now he had finally got ' Lacey the Disgracey ' off of and out of his one track mind .

Colby smiled and didn't miss a step , taking a chance .

" Jack Faust ? ! " he asked , his voice cracking which absolutely embarrassed him as he took a metal folding chair seat next to the sullen looking man .

" Yep and I've received the snowman jokes plenty of times ... too often . "

" Jackson Ichabod Faust . " Colby said . Phil's eyes narrowed and his jaw tightened , mouth becoming a thin , straight line .

" Uhm humm . My father - my no - good , useless ... alcoholic , deadbeat dad . " Phil replied , followed by a few grunted curse words . " I hate him . "

" I never got to know him so I can't say if I totally hate him or not . "

Colby stuck out one hand for his half - brother to shake .

" He's my Dad too . "

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

" You'll call ? "

" You'll write ? "

" I'll email , call and even play the snail mail game - sending letters and post cards every chance that I get . And we have days off , holidays and such so I'll visit too . "

" You'd better ! "

" Yes because we'll be looking for you and waiting . "

Colby surveyed the ' junk heaps ' piled around the small bedroom . separated a rolling pin , measuring cup set , two whisks and a shaved ice maker and sat them aside .

" I don't need to take everything . " he blushed momentarily and grinned at his parents . " Unless both of you can squash - fit into a suitcase , that is . "

Perro and Shun barked , wagging their stub tails rapidly .

" Yeah , you guys too . " the twenty year old said , petting the two dogs until they wriggled and drooled , bellies up and back legs air scratching .

His father and mother laughed as one , like the team that they were , glancing again with sorrow and pride at all the luggage .

" Come home as often as possible ! "

" And eat ! "

" With a Starbucks , Chipotle and a California Pizza Kitchen within driving distance , you'll have nothing to worry about concerning my stomach . " the young man stated in an attempt to reassure his parents ... and calm his own nerves as well .

" We'll miss you , we truly will . " Raul said , almost poker faced except for his trembling chin .

" Yes , very very very much . " Sofia added , tears already beading up .

Perro wasted little time jumping into the woman's lap and cleaning off the tears . Shun followed , bounding into Raul's lap and demanding with several gentle head butts to the man's arms , to be petted .

" Guys ! " Colby retrieved the canines , scolding both . " Cut it out , okay ? You know better than to beg for handouts and besides , you had brisket just last night . "

" They are having mixed emotions - happy , worried , nervous , confused , anxious , thrilled ... " Sofia commented , opening a tiny travel size pack of generic brand tissues and passing them around .

" We all are today . " Raul added , running the Kleenex - like paper across his lower lids .

" I'll take them with me . Lincoln Green is pet friendly and that'll be less responsibility to deal with while I'm ... at college . " their son paused before hitting upon a creative and only slightly true ending to his comment .

Raul snickered . " College with men getting put through tables and wildly flying and leaping from turnbuckles , indeed ! "

Sofia giggled as well while the two Yorkies sniffed her manicure .

" Leave them here . They're little trouble - "

" Little terrors , more like it . " the twenty year old quipped .

" And very good watch dogs . Let them stay , it's no problem and we like them . "

The canine duo froze , ears perked and nose wiggling swiftly as they sniffed and looked forward with intensity and focus .

They both barked - loud and furious - before darting from the messy bedroom .

Sofia smiled and gave her son a ' told you so ' look and he immediately beamed .

Raul grinned and nodded , walking arm in arm with his wife as they headed to the front door .

Colby double checked his dresser drawers , closet , laundry hamper and under the bed before getting tackled from behind .

" Aaaaaaaaaahhh , my favorite ! "

" Yo and hey to you as well , Invader Jim . " Colby replied with a laugh , extremely ticklish from his bestie's displays of affection .

Two years of being licked , sucked , nibbled , slurped , nom nom-ed and glomped on and he was used to it .

It was ... nice , actually .

" You'd do me a favor ? "

" Sure thing ! "

Xio slipped three fingers behind the button fly and zippered front of his friend's soot grey moto skinnies .

" Yeeep ! " Colby bounced , jolted as if from a mild electric shock and smacked the hand away .

" Sorry . " Jimmy said without meaning it before sucking on those same three fingers happily .

" Not ... that . " his bestie waved a hand in the direction of the assorted clutter . " I'm sorting - oh , wait . "

The older man sat , without his halo on in seventh heaven while his crush changed from a plain , solid color pocket tee to a shirt of the only House unpacked - Gryffindor .

" ' Kay , now I'm sorting . "

" Ha ! " Xio whooped , chuckling . " You're fashionable and stylish , my Black and the Bravery . "

" And you're returning to my parents what I hand over to be placed back into the kitchen cabinets . " the twenty year old said , giving his friend an armload that consisted of a popcorn popper , a two slice toaster and five travel mugs . " Don't drop them . "

" Yo - kay . " Jimmy replied playfully , clutching the items to his chest . " Anything else ? ' Cause I doubt that over half this stuff you'll be allowed to take on the plane . "

" I know , I know . " Colby said and sighed , swapping a wok for the much more necessary portable induction cooking plate . " Hurry up because there is going to be a lot more . "

It hit him straight in the heart - the worst type of sucker punch - and by the time his friend returned , the Iowan was bawling .

" Awh , Hell , Ty ! " Jimmy instinctively reached into his purse for a tissue , found none and sacrificed the plaid scarf coiled around his throat for a Kleenex substitute .

" I can't do this ! " Colby wailed , slamming fists into his knees . " I don't want to leave home , I don't want to leave them ... "

" Dammit , Tyler , you have to ! It's not lying when I say that you are on the rise ! Millions of fans across the planet and none of them have seen a talented , real wrestler yet because they haven't seen you . "

" I can't ! "

" Fiiiiiiiine . " the older man huffed . He beckoned to his beloved . " Your head , my lap . "

" My parents . " his buddy reminded him , sniffling .

" This isn't going to be sexual - " Xio paused and smiled gently . " As much this time . "

" Ho ! " Colby kidded , grinning and wiping off tears .

" Since my guitar's back at the trailer , my heart will give me some help doin ' the MTV Unplugged performance . "

" Your what is whatting now ? " the twenty year old stammered .

" Ssssssshhh . " Xio whispered , stroking and brushing his boyfriend's hair with callused fingers , thinking while the former runaway rested with his tired head nestled in Jimmy's lap .

The Iowan sighed and worn out , closed his eyes while his friend sang by memory .

" You with the sad eyes , don't be discouraged . It's hard to take courage in a world full of people , you can lose sight of it all . "

Tranquility at his crotch .

" But I see your true colors shining through . I see your true colors and that's why I love you . "

He breathed out , elated while chipped pink polish grazed the obsidian mane his fingertips were smoothing .

The man he cherished , his treasure found .

" I see your true colors and that's why I love you . So don't be afraid to let them show . "

A maneuver between his legs and a snuffle .

Xio beamed , regarding the younger male .

" And that's why I love you . "

His shining star ...

Was asleep .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" This is the greatest place I've been to ! " Colby praised as he and his bestie strolled through the Reading Terminal Market . " Well , that isn't a gym . "

Jimmy fast - walked beside him , carrying a rolled top paper sack holding Beiler's doughnuts - maple bacon , salted caramel , chocolate covered strawberry and coconut custard wrapped in squares of thin , clear plastic .

The younger man had planned the pair's entire menu for the day in advance , lunch being a shared DiNic's roast pork sandwich , followed by Peking duck at Sang Kee for the late evening meal .

" And tomorrow , we hunt for furniture - especially a bed . " his friend added . " Sleeping bags on the floor are fun but not longer than two nights , max . "

" After training , we'll go explore the bargains . " Colby promised . " Anywhere that you want , just choose . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Left ! No , right ! Left ? Riiiiight - oh , wait ... "

" Ty , make up your pretty mind already ! My arms are getting numb . " Jimmy chastised while they lugged the Ikea stackable bed into the sparsely decorated bedroom .

Four hands dropped the pine frame and the two men ' Oof - ed ! ' at the same time , panting and sweating , backs and fingers aching .

" Screw the interior ! I'm not fancy anyway . Let's take a breather . " the Iowan grunted , crumpling to the oval rug at his feet . He immediately untied his Adidas and rubbed his throbbing toes .

" No need to tell me twice . " his partner replied and sighing , flopped his rump down on the floor too .

" Next time , we swallow our pride and get some movers to help . " Colby wiped his wet throat with the ' tail ' of his shirt .

" Yeah except , Thank the flying spaghetti monster in the sky , we're finished with the main haul . " Jimmy cranked the AC and squirmed merrily in the sudden chilly blast of air swirling into the living space . " Thrift the remainder later . "

His bestie nodded , closed his eyes for a minute and after opening them again , looked approvingly at their new furniture .

" We bought and own a coffee table and end tables ! " the Iowan said out loud , feeling unexpectedly silly for some reason . " My parents would be proud . "

" They have you . " Jimmy told his friend as they cooled off , grinning . " They're already proud . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Aaaaaaahhh . " Phil reclined in a folding chair with another across from him that he had propped his feet up on . " Break time at last ! "

" Yeah . " Colby said agreeably , sitting near his sibling . " May we not sweat in our lunch . "

Punk nodded and raised one of his three bottles of water , then gaped at his half brother's massive meal being unpacked right before his bug - eyes .

His younger sibling had opened the stuffed full bento boxes and was removing an jaw dropping amount of food .

The Chicago native gawked at the hard boiled egg , tuna patty , chicken burger with sliced onion and a lettuce leaf ' bun ' , apple slices with almond butter , meatloaf muffin , a kale , tomato and carrot salad with garlic mayonnaise dressing , vegan banana pudding and a piece of dark chocolate coated bacon , plus a entire Thermos of bottled water .

Colby sipped from his Starbucks vanilla bean creme blended Frappucinno and frowned .

" What ? ! "

" Uhm ... no offense - " Phil began , grinning and rubbing the back of his neck . " But I didn't know when I showed for work today that I'd be in the midst of a Breakfast Club scene reenacted . "

His ' kid brother ' snorted out a big , uncontrollable guffaw , wheezing once his dessert themed , deluxe coffee drink squirted from both nostrils .

" Shit ! Here , stick these in your nostrils and use them as plugs . They'll dry out the mess . " Punk said , shredding one of the brown paper napkins into strips and rolling the pieces into tube like shapes .

" Errrgh , ' kay . " Black muttered , taking his advice . " Now you owe me . "

Punk puffed a breath upward to make his bangs flutter and he grunted , slouching .

" Well , wonderful . I'm related to a nosy - "

Black tapped the cartilage tip of his proboscis .

" Yeah , plenty to go around . Shovel chin too , for that matter . "

His bleached blond older brother rolled his eyes , chortled and smirked ahead of picking at his tepid leftovers - an oily cheese-steak half and fries that had gone limp .

Colby ' tsked ' at the flaccid , pitiful potatoes - they would've made Jon weep and mourn over his cherished food item .

" If your ... our Dad wasn't in the picture , why were you living with neighbors ? Did your mother kick you out or - "

Phil scowled and his sibling had instant regrets asking .

" My Mom died . Six feet under , you can't have much say so . "

" I - - I didn't want to upset you ... "

" Nah but you're nosy . Said so with your own mouth . " Punk declared , gradually smiling which was shoved aside by the grim frown . " It was my - our father driving the car . "

His younger brother gasped , recoiling and nearly biting his tongue in surprise .

" He ... intentionally - "

" It was written in the report as an accident . " the older man replied hatefully , interrupting . " But drunk is drunk , accident or not . He shouldn't have been behind the wheel and my Mom should have never - "

Then he choked , his upper anatomy stiff and tightening , stunned from the impulsive embrace .

Colby quit hugging his sibling and crimsoned .

" Uhmmm ... "

Phil laughed at him .

" Cripes , Clarice , people are gonna think we're in love . "

Black snickered , shaking his head and finishing off the coffee drink .

" I'm pretty sure that Lecter would not have said ' Cripes ' or ' Gonna . ' He was dignified and a classy gentleman , might have committed suicide first . "

" Like eating himself to death ? " his sibling grinned , his face brightening pink and sick humor spinning in his dark eyes . " Oh , wait , that was from SpaceBalls , never mind . Anyways , I won't be like him , no drugs and alcohol - nuh uh ! - refuse to touch the crap . "

Colby chewed , swallowed and hurriedly changed the subject .

" You said that you hate the WWE but you're going to sign with them anyway ? "

" More questions , snot ? " the Chicago native stole a few of his half brother's apple slices . " Hmmmm , this is almost fun . "

" Wellllll ? " the Iowan urged , leaning forward , curiosity taking over .

" Haven't you heard ? " the older man swiped bacon . " It's on every pro wrestler's bucket list to work for the out of touch , racist , sexist old man , his inflatable chested , nails on a chalkboard voiced daughter and the big nosed - "

" Whadda family reunion . " the Iowan stated bitterly , glared and retrieved his bacon in one snatch .

" Egotistical , doofus son in law . " his brother corrected his spoken mistake and nodded at Black . " Happy now ? "

Colby washed down the meatloaf muffin and banana pudding with more water .

" Yep . Continue . "

" Continue ? ! " Punk bleated .

" Talk on . " Black said , high and mighty .

" I'd recommend trying out , even if it's only to be a mid card employee for a year or less . But I also recommend getting the Hell out of Dodge once they start treating you like shit and refusing to let you show your potential in main event after main event . "

" Oh . " Colby had no clue what to say or do . Agree with his older brother ? Argue ?

" There are positives , believe or not . Gets other promotions and companies to notice you , the catering is out of this world and typically a gourmet feast and the pay's good . When some of the lowest ranked jobbers with barely any merch besides a tee can make enough bucks to afford co - owning a school , that says it all . "

" Yeah , it does . " the younger man nodded . " Your hair's cool . "

" Thanks . "

" Mine used to be that color ... well , half , actually . "

" Half ? ! " Phil tilted his head . " Whadda you do , spill the bottle ? "

" Yep . " his sibling answered cheerfully , recalling fond memories of his and Jon's wacky after school antics . " Elbow bumped it by accident and splashed that sucker right down the drain . But a friend of mine said the partial look was something else , so I kept it . "

Colby scrunched up his lips , thinking hard .

" On second thought , he might not have been complimenting me . "

Punk grinned , holding in laughter .

" It sounds like it would've looked cool . "

" Well , I may go back to it one day but after recovery time . "

" Recovery ? " his sibling asked .

" The bleaching ... the chemicals - I dunno , it dries my hair out and makes it brittle . "

" Oh . Yuck . " Phil stuck out his tongue and squinted his eyes half closed like he'd literally sucked a lemon .

" Preeeeeeeeecisely . " Colby chuckled .

Phil suddenly lifted his head and glowered at a pear shaped man who had appeared like magic .

" Well , lookee what the ring rat dragged in . " he scoffed rudely .

The other man's round face was sweaty and pink .

" I wish you wouldn't insult - "

" And I wish you'd arrive to work on time ! " Phil snapped . " Colt , I practically kill myself getting you a tryout and this is how you repay ... Aaaaurgh , what's your excuse this time ? "

" It's not - " Cabana whined .

" Spill the best friend beans , wise ass . " Phil growled .

" Car broke down . "

" Suuuuuuuure it did . " his bestie scoffed , brow furrowed .

" It did ! " the heavier set male whined , then let the tantrum rest long enough to peer at Colby . " Who's this ? "

" He and I share a father , C . C . " Phil flashed a Cheshire cat's grin .

Colt gasped , threw his hands up and escaped to the men's restroom .

" It's fun and games to mess with such a tiny mind . " Phil quipped and smiled fondly . " But I love the guy anyway , although it will be him going bankrupt or me from bailing him out each time ... "

" He - " Black recalled Jon's quirks . " Shoplifts ? "

" Nuh . " Punk answered the wrong guess . " I - now , don't think that I'm mean and controlling because I'd be happy if Colt was in a caring relationship . But this being obsessed with Lacey bullshit gets on my final nerves . "

Colby's eyes widened to the aching point of straining his lids painfully .

" She's here ? ! "

Punk gave the younger man an intense , thoughtful look .

" You know her ? Oooohh , don't tell me - " Phil threw up a Maryse ' stop talking ' hand . " She tried to get inside your jeans too . "

" Nuh - N ... No . " Colby stammered . " So she is a ring rat , huh ? "

" Aaaahhh . " Punk stated , ruminating . " So we have more in common than a pretty face . "

Black had he not been a bundle of nerves , may have laughed .

" Can you read minds ? Because - " Colby grazed noggins with the bleached blond man , closing in to whisper .

Punk's eyes grew , clear glass marbles bigger than average and the shade of deep brown flecked with perception and sympathy .

" Well ... there's no reason now that I shouldn't tell you everything that I know . "

Colby smiled . It had no humor , merriment or power in it , only foreboding and alarm .

" I'm a feminist - and no smart mouth comments , brother dear , guys can be supporting too , okay ? - so I'll keep the bashing low . But ... yeah , she's a shrew with a D at the end , really shrewd . I'm - hmmmm ... I don't see her as a gold digger or a black widow but she's a master , expert at manipulating . Conniving , good at stringing guys along . Maybe she hates men , who knows ? If I could stop her from tearing apart friendships , I would . "

" So would I . " Black added . His entire body was hurting and he knew that had little to do with the earlier strenous workout .

" Remember this . If you forget or don't care about the rest of what I've said , remember - " Punk paused and grimaced . " Lacey is a seductress . She'll lie to a man's face , sleep around , brainwash him and dismantle friendships . So keep a watch on your buddy and protect his heart before she sinks her claws in and draws blood . "

" Yo , Skinny ! " Samoa Joe's mirthful voice boomed as he walked up to the brothers , a smile on his big , round , golden brown face stretched from ear to ear .

" Hello to you , fat ass . " Phil laughed that sounded like giggles stirred in with hiccups .

" Kuʻu hoaaloha maikaʻi . As a tag team , we can be Skinny Fat Ass . " Joe guffawed .

" That won't fit on a shirt . " his best buddy teased .

" Oh , fuck you . " Joe commented cheerfully . " If you decide to stop stuffing your rat face - "

" Ah , fuck you . " Phil immediately quipped the retort , grinning . " Met my sibling yet ? We're twins , can't you tell , except I'm the better looking one . "

Colby pretended to gasp in shock , horrified .

" Okay , now you're out of the will ! " he laughed , mock - glaring at Punk .

Joe chortled at the play fight .

" Sympathies , man , having to be related to that . "

Colby snickered at the compact , burly man's eye rolling and teasing .

Phil shook his head , frowned and shot to his feet .

" Them's fightin ' words , Sammy Jay . " he taunted in a cartoonish , exaggerated drawl .

" Then fight with me . I crave an opponent that can hold their own in a brawl . "

" Well , it is sooooooo big that I have to hold my ' own ' with two hands ... "

" Disgusting ! " Joe chuckled and mock - punched his friend . He smiled and nodded at Colby . " We meet doing volunteer work at an animal shelter six , close to seven years ago and he thinks that he's hot shit to this day . "

" You can't resist loving me . " Phil replied and glanced at his brother . " Next time ? "

" Yes . " Colby said , discovering the last spot of inner strength in his voice , his heart and spirit that he'd worried was lost and stolen , invisible , wimpy and defeated . " Next time . "

Punk and Joe faced off in some Muay Thai sparring . Bryan was stretching and doing bridges and Cesaro put calf and shin splint support wraps on each hairy leg , preparing to grapple .

Jimmy did lunges while holding a lightweight kettle bell in each hand .

Colby smiled at his friend before readying himself for box jumps and rope climbing , all the while dreading the likelihood of their split more than the imminent smarting muscles .

" Lacey is a seductress . She'll lie to a man's face , sleep around , brainwash him and dismantle friendships . So keep a watch on your buddy and protect his heart before she sinks her claws in and draws blood . "

Punk's warning echoed in his skull and tunneled into his brain , one of the nastiest mental tapeworms he had experienced .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" JimmyJimmyJimmy , we have to try this place ! Eeeeee , cookie dough stuffed French toast ! "

Colby stood drooling in front of the cafe , eyeballing the daily specials written neatly in chalk on the outdoor menu board placed on the sidewalk .

" Mmmm . " his friend replied , indifferent , with Google maps on his phone screen in one hand and a regular paper map from the tourists info center in the other .

" Aaaaughhh ! They have short ribs Benedict ! " the Iowan hollered .

" I could have sworn you foodie types took Anthony Bourdain's word as gospel and he said to avoid anything Benedict because the hollandaise sauce is nasty , contaminated , rotted shit left out to get extra germs and E Coli ... whatever . " Jimmy stated , with a bored look on his exasperated face .

" It's a risk I will take this once . " Colby said bravely .

" Mmmm hmmm . " his partner glared over the cats eye sunglasses he pushed down to the end of his nose . " Dammit , we are never gonna find this stupid club ! "

The exasperated snarl his friend made stole Colby's attention away from the tantalizing edibles and he turned to his bestie , frowning .

" Nightclub ? Like a bar or ... " the Iowan paused and shifted his weight , rocking on his feet . " ' Cause if it's the kind - "

" No , for once , I'm not taking you to a strip - " Jimmy finally laughed , less pessimistic and frustrated than before and glanced at his phone again . " Help me find the name Statement Piece , would you , please ? "

" Will do ! "

The younger man tore down the sidewalk , weaving around other pedestrians and not colliding with any of them -

Almost all of them .

The flame - red hair on her scalp was surely dyed from the evidence of brown roots showing through and there was a strong look of wanting to commit murder flashing in her narrowed eyes .

" Fek ! " the woman hissed , pouncing at and getting in his face . " Thanks for not watching where you're going , clumsy muppet ! "

Colby winced and shrunk from the enraged sarcasm and ' I've had enough of this ' anger in her voice , along with both hands balled into fists .

" Muppet ? " Jimmy repeated expectantly , running up from behind , staring in astonishment after coming to a halt . " Why are you shouting at my friend ? ! "

" Why are you yelling at mine ? " asked a second woman , tall , golden haired and goddess - like , standing at the redhead's shoulder and scowling .

" A worthless arse and his ponce . " the red haired woman muttered , glowering at the guys .

" Rebecca ! " the blonde screamed , her lightly tanned face brightening to pale cherry blossom .

She gave a nervous , fading smile of apology , sheepish and shy , to both men .

" Bex really didn't mean the insults . Only two things cause her to get pissed enough to want to fight - her tea getting spilled ... "

" And people calling you names ... their lies , saying you're ugly and calling you a man . " the redhead grumbled and seethed . " Picking on - hurting your feelings , Char . "

" Just ignore their stupidity , Beckles . I typically do . "

" But not when you cry . " Rebecca's scowl diminished a touch at the mega watt smile from the unrelated female she cherished the most . " I've seen your tears before , Char and I'll forever hate them ... those bastards making you - "

" You're more man than they could ever be and more woman than they can ever have . " Xio quoted out of the blue .

His beloved and the two unknown women gawked in his direction .

The redhead faltered , tripping over her words and after some hesitating , beamed .

" Well , yes ... thank you for the truth . But your brat here did upset my beverage . "

" I'll repay you and I am sorry . " Colby scrambled to pick the insulated travel mug from the ground where it lay in a puddle of ground leaf flecked , honey color liquid .

" Errrr , it doesn't seem to be damaged . " he commented while examining the object .

" Hey , Beckers , can we compromise ? " Charlotte beseeched , stupifying the two men when she flung her arms around the redhead's hips , drawing her in close . " How about if my one and only stunt woman doesn't slaughter any man today , I'll take her out to the Random and she can bore another hole into my poor , suffering platinum card buying and trying all the teas . "

Becky's eyes shimmered , along with her bright white teeth with the sun's rays shining on them .

" I love how you think , my Queen . " she chuckled .

Charlotte giggled briefly before saying anything else .

" And Silk City after for dinner ? Or Honey's Sit N Eat ? Hell , even going for cheese-steak works for me . Hmmmm ... wait ! Heritage is nice . So's Bourbon and Branch . "

" Those last two are super high end , reservation only , Char . "

" Well , I'm VIP and so are you . Besides , Dad never has to wait - he always gets in the door every place . "

" You just want to watch people freak out when they see me eating salad using chopsticks . " Becky grinned , nuzzling further into the in-public cuddle session .

" Wait ... " Jimmy said , catching up much too late . " Uhm , Becky ? Is your last name , Bayless , by any chance ? ' Cause we're looking for - "

" Quinn . " the redhead replied , shrugging . " Can't help you there , fuzzy feet . "

Xio didn't look the least bit embarrassed wearing fuschia and magenta tipped , black synthetic fur boot covers out in public , where anybody could stare and whisper .

" Oh , well - huh . " Colby glanced at a rainbow flag , making crackling , snapping sounds as it fluttered in the light wind .

" Quinoa . " the blonde teased , smiling .

" Queen and Quinoa . " her bestie sighed .

" So - uhhh ... we're searching for something called Statement Piece . " Colby butted in before the couple began making out - not that he'd mind .

" You're warmer , men . " Becky announced , smirking . " Walk a little ways and you'll find it between a boutique and an antique shop . "

A tune with a chiming beat sounded . Charlotte whipped out her phone inside a Gasoline Glamour Scandalous case and smiled .

" Dad's sending the limo to us . " she informed her friend after reading the text .

" Craic ! " Becky cheered .

Minutes after the couples parted ways , Jimmy and his Tyler dashed down another sidewalk .

The Iowan looked up , skidded and tripped over his shoes , grabbed a lamp post for support and motioned to his bizarre bestie .

" Check that out . "

" No . Way . " Jimmy eyed the colossal billboard and guffawed .

The mammoth , full color advertisement was a picture Photoshopped to a degree - the female pair they'd just met , along with a smirking man wearing a golden crown atop his chocolate brown mane fixed into a ' soccer mom ' hairstyle .

The words in gargantuan font - The Legendaries of Charlotte - were printed in black lined , metallic silver .

Queen Charlotte wore a long , flowing cape - robe combo that skimmed the toes of her knee high gold boots . The draping material worn over a bone white , semi sheer bodysuit had been decorated with beads , rhinestones and sequins that formed the design of a blue , green , bronze and platinum hued male peacock .

Her King held an elaborately carved sword etched with artwork featuring dragons fighting lions , Phoenix birds rising from crackling flames , swimming mermaids and sky - scraping castles with waterfalls and unicorns in the distance .

Her Warrior carried a bow and arrow , thin blade swords and what appeared to be a cross between a shillelagh and a war hammer .

The redhead was sneering , glaring protectively with out of place goggles perched on her mass of fire hair , knotted and braided into a fancy , savage representation of a battle mohawk .

" Daaaaaaamn . " Colby gulped .

" No . Way . " Jimmy repeated .

" Yes and yes . " his friend said and whistled , energized .

" Bet they'd love New York . " Xio hinted , puckish .

Colby caught a hand and dragged his partner along .

" Okay , perv . If we're any later for work , it's going to be tomorrow ! "

The woman who approached them at the front entrance greeted the guys with a handshake . Her auburn tinged , golden brown hair cascaded down her back and she wore a cropped white tee , brown suede fringed vest , dozens of turquoise bead necklaces and bracelets , tight blue Wranglers and square toe cowgirl boots embroidered with horseshoes and butterflies .

" Are you Becky ? " Jimmy asked , his patience long gone .

" Nawh , I'm Mickie . Bay is the owner who runs the place . I'm in charge of booking the guest performers , musical acts and bands . " the woman's pink tinted lips quirked into a small smile . That is , when I'm not on stage myself , beneath the spotlight . "

Colby gawked .

Xio scowled enviously and seething , elbowed him in the ribs .

" We called yesterday about the Help Wanted ad and somebody told us to be here to meet with Miss ... Mrs ? - I'm not sure about ... uhmmm , Bayless , the owner . " Colby sputtered , roused by the unknown female's hundred plus watt supermodel smile .

" I'll get her . She's upstairs . "

The Iowan stared at the acoustic guitar held on to her back by a long brown and green woven strap . This gave him an excuse if he was caught ogling her hips , legs , firm butt and tiny waist .

Directly in his sight stood an onyx black double staircase with plexiglass guard railing lit by electric blue neon lights and a metal balcony gate topped it off  .

There was a bar on one side , sitting area in the center and dance floor on the opposite end of the spacious room .

Wall to wall brick and vast square windows veiled with blackout curtains and transparent ivory overlay panels caught his attention next .

A brown square tile floor glistened beneath their shoes . Colby noticed the Wet Floor sign and scooted along at a snail's pace .

" It's dry . "

The out of nowhere , female voice startled the two guys and they jumped as though they'd been electric zapped .

" Newbies ? You're looking for jobs ? " she inquired , licorice black long hair falling over her forehead , down on her pretty round face .

" Yes ... ma'am . " Colby awkwardly croaked .

" Yes . We saw your ad and liked the sound of this place . " Jimmy replied politely .

" Well , good because so do I . " Bayless said , taking a seat . " Name your skills , talents . What , in your opinion , do you excel at ? "

" Upskirt research . " Jimmy leaned back in the chair , arms folded behind his head . " Keepin ' people on the qui vive . "

Colby rolled his eyes and face - palmed .

" Getting us fired before we have the chance to be hired ! " he groaned , scowling at his composed friend .

" I am merely recommending that we exchange numbers , that's all . " Xio hinted , waggling his brows at Becky .

She whisked a discarded lowball glass off of the bar top and threw the partly melted ice cubes into the trans male's shocked face .

" This isn't fun and games or your personal pickup scene ! " she yelled . " Straight from college and I dove into this - skipped meals to put money into it , lived in my car ... don't respect me ? Okay ! But respect what I've accomplished or get out . "

" I do respect you . " Jimmy murmured , ice thawing into frosty puddles on the shredded knees of his jeans and the fishnet hose beneath .

" When all else fails , try flattery ? " the dark haired , curvy woman smirked , tossing a towel at him .

He beamed and started drying his clothes .

" A self - made business woman and gender neutral restrooms ? One hundred plus percent admirable in my book . "

" I accept your apology . " Bayless leaned in to pick ice from his wacky , emo attire , reading the white outlined black lettering on his bright pink tee as she did .

" Wickedness ! "

" If you say so . " Becky chortled . " I'll get you on being an assistant running the bar first - in charge of making sure the ice machine functions properly and stays clean . "

" Ha ha . " Jimmy replied , poker faced before snickering . " Helluva a sense of humor you have , lady . "

Colby surmised that they'd fall for each other . He and his push the envelope friend were two minds thinking alike ( or as Xio called it , ' spiritual bonding ' ) when it came to their preferences in women - black hair was excellent and brunettes , yeah . Brown hair - the darker , the better suited their tastes just fine .

" And I'll find work for you here in no time flat . " Bayless declared , smiling at Colby .

" Niiiiiice . How big is this place ? ! "

" Oh , ten thousand total . Five upstairs and five down here . " the black haired woman said proudly . " But most of it is storage above , along with the entertainers dressing rooms and a big lounging area . Eight hundred square feet with pillows , sofas , board games , books and magazines , light jazz , shared plates and umbrella drinks . And you can see what's on this level ... "

" Yeah . " The Iowan grinned at her rapid hand motions . " It's awesome . I think that it's cool you fought so hard for it . "

" Meh , hard work pays off . "

" So are we hired ? " Jimmy butted in , semi - pouting that a female he had taken a liking to was paying attention to another man .

" Yeah , until ... if you screw up . "

Colby braced himself for the expected smart mouthed , wise ass quip his buddy was bound to make about ' screwing ' and was astonished and relieved when there wasn't any .

" You , hmmmm , Magnus will show you the ropes and you , Mister ' I'm A Lady ' , go upstairs . The other girls will teach you the steps and moves so you can rehearse for the performance . "

" Performance ? ! " Jimmy glanced , baffled and anxious at his bestie .

Colby shrugged and mouthed ' I don't know either . '

" The drag show . " Becky told the men , amused while she watched their back and forth communication .

" Ohhhhhhhh no ! I'm not wearing a dress ! " Jimmy screeched .

Bayless ' tsked ' , frowned and shook her head .

" You work for me , so , yes you will . "

Colby had no chance to save his bestie because a strange male towered over him , glaring .

A large man .

Had to be two inches taller and close to forty or fifty pounds heavier than he was - male model and guy on girl adult film star looks stuck onto a MMA fighter and street brawler bod .

" Magnus ? " the Iowan wondered . The brawny guy's name tag read ALDIS .

" Uhnm . " the strange man grunted with a slight British accent . Colby hoped that meant ' yes . '

He gazed at the country western babe one more time .

" On the pull with her ? " Magnus inquired .

" Huh ? "

" You're thinking about taking her home . "

" No ! Uhmmm ... yes . Maybe . Yes ? "

" Start over with no . " Magnus glowered savagely at Colby . " That's my wife . "

" I ... oooohhhh - yikes ! Okay , can you let me call my parents before you slaughter me ? " Colby kidded , although his genitals had turned to mush and he was trembling , hair on his arms erect .

Magnus smirked .

" You're just a punk kid , so I'll allow you to live . But keep it in your denims or I'll crush you into a liquid smear the next time . "

" Urrr , yes sir ! Sir . " Colby yelped , his face heated .

Magnus showed him the double freezers and refrigerators , all of the cabinets , storage bins and shelves , boxes , bags and wire baskets .

He sneered at the rotisserie chicken carcass , the limp vegetables , a very ripe and brown spotted bunch of bananas and a few dry slices of last night's pizza , sitting lonely and uneaten .

" Sort through the leftovers and discard the worst of it . "

I know what to do ! I'm not a baby ! , Colby thought but wisely answered " Yes , sir . " again since he didn't want to get his butt beat .

" Well , I have the remainder of the crew to supervise so I'll check back with you in ... hmmmm , thirty , maybe forty minutes . "

The twenty year old nodded and started picking items from long shelves , examining for mold spots and sniffing the jarred products .

When Aldis returned an hour later , he went mute for an instant , statue motionless where he stood .

Colby had a large pot of soup stock bubbling and steaming , a delightfully scented pan of banana bread muffins cooling on the counter and a giant bowl brimming with a salad tossed with chopped up , reheated pizza as fancier gourmet croutons .

" You - " Magnus stammered . " Made all of this ? ! "

" It's really not that much . " the twenty old replied , removing the super cool rainbow striped oven mitts he'd been wearing and the itchy hairnet under his ' old faithful ' black ball cap . " But , uhmmm , yes I did . "

Magnus grinned , absolutely pleased . One of the last times , the big man recalled , that he had had a smile as massive was the week of his wedding day .

" Good job , lad ! " he praised the newcomer and then peered at his watch . " Showtime ! "

" I'm partial to Skinamax . " Colby stated wittily .

Aldis chortled and mock - punched him on the shoulder .

" You're telling me that you lack interest in seeing your knobby kneed friend's dance moves ? "

" Uhm , well - "

The presentation consisted of twelve vivacious Queens - and one sulking Xio - hopping in a conga line , twirling , doing high kicks and lip synching to famous classic eighties tunes .

The group was decked out and dolled up in an amount of feathered bras and hot pants , mirrored head dresses and crystal studded masks typically spotted at a Vegas show .

Unlike the chipper entertainers , Xio , clad in a black corset top with tiny silver beading and an attached imitation pearly necklace collar , moped . A black and silver sequin fringe skirt swished about his hips , grazing his inner thighs as he teetered along in heels that looked ankle breaking sky - high .

Then he spotted ' his Tyler ' and the pouty trans male's mood - along with the Kegels - improved .

Jimmy sauntered over to Colby , sat in his lap and tipped the silver glitter top hat in greeting , then wrapped the black ruffle boa around the younger man's neck , whirling him around on the bar stool .

" These shoes are forming blisters on my feet ! " Jimmy griped , then whispered . " I'll be upstairs . Wait a couple minutes and then meet me in the dressing room . "

" ' Kaaaaay . " Colby squeaked , swiftly creating the excuse of being worried and checking on his bestie as a way to get laid in a backstage quickie .

He counted three minutes precise , watching the clock before scurrying up the spiral .

The ' Queens Castle ' as the sign on the door read - was outrageous and elaborately decorated from ceiling to floor , wall to wall .

Tiny round bulb lights ringed every mirror at the marble top vanity tables , the tall backed chairs seated in front had puffy violet cushions attached .

There was an enormous row of wardrobes and open front closets in the back of the room and large clear plastic storage tubs brimming with accessories and inexpensive costume jewelry .

What the Iowan mistook at first for restroom stalls were in fact changing rooms with doors that locked .

Behind a curtained off section , side by side bidets stood and a double sink .

Dozens of each color from the crayon box , every length and style of wigs hung on hooks or sat displayed for use of foam , featureless heads .

There were all kinds of robes and gowns , swim suits and cat suits , boots and flats , latex , linen , velvet , ribbons , glitz and glamour for the ladies to play dress - up using .

And in the center of the room , a big replica bed , lipstick red and heart shaped , tacky yet lovely .

Xio reclined on said theater prop , facing his lover , legs spread and underwear off .

" Welp , Ty Ty , best get a move on with our ... errr , getting our moves on . Otherwise , we'll be fired if somebody catches us . "

" Yes ma'am ! " Colby whooped , on fire and lunged at his partner .

They kissed nonstop , teeth clashing with a faint tapping sound .

" This sort of outfit is not me at all ! " Jimmy bitched once they'd paused , folded both arms over his flat chest and huffed , grumpily .

" I dunno - " Colby shrugged , palms raised at the direction of the ceiling and smiled . " I like it . You certainly have the gams to pull off that skirt . "

" Yeah ? " Jimmy goaded , encouraging and sassy . " Then you pull it off . "

The younger man repositioned his lover so they were both facing forward and staring at their reflections , hiking up the fringed skirt and grasped the older male's shoulders .

" Waiiiiiit , wait , ! " Jimmy hissed , smacking two flat palms on the makeup table's gold flecked , blue marble surface . " Have you forgotten that I do not participate in anal ? You touch my ass and I'll take a chainsaw to your nuts , buddy boy . Slashed tires . "

Colby winced and immediately placed hands over his groin .

" This is vaginal , Xio . Something we haven't tried so far . You might enjoy the sensation . "

" Go ahead but don't double cross me unless you want to be neutered by a cheese grater . "

Colby grimaced and his scrotum shrunk , retreating in fear .

" I'm an atheist . I don't own one cross , let alone two . "

Xio snickered , heat from the small bulbs ringing the mirror warming his face .

Then he gasped .

Then he moaned .

The Iowan groaned and whispered , mouthing a quick curse word once he'd accidently bit his tongue .

Tag teams worked as one unstoppable force .

And they , together , did enjoy the sensation .

Colby didn't prod . He slid , careful and slow , intentionally bumping the little nub each time , grazing and caressing it until the part swelled against the skin of his penis .

A barrier , then an empty space and after that , a location that was snug and responsive that he slipped inside without hesitation .

Where they had fused , their anatomy thrummed .

Xio became aware of something that could work in his favor , perhaps , later on .

His Tyler was so inflamed from eagerness , he'd failed to remember to wear a condom .

Jimmy smirked , musing .

A point in Xio's favor .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Just a minute ! " Colby hollered , in a mad dash for the front door and towel sliding around on his hips . It was true - the second that you got in the shower , either the phone or doorbell rang .

He only paused once at the door , hesitant and wary . Jimmy couldn't have returned this soon , even though he had taken the car and the drive from their apartment to the Reading Terminal Market was less than twenty minutes in good traffic .

The woman glaring sternly at him had long , jet black hair and appeared to be about two inches taller and a few pounds heavier than her petite sidekick .

Colby cast his eyes on the smaller and clearly unsure female . She too had hair at a length that spilled over her shoulders but it was an uncommon dye job - black tipped bright red with blonde bangs .

The female duo held towels and wore giant tees for coverups . He noticed the strap of a bikini top showing and blushed .

" Can I help you ? "

" Can you ? " the black haired chick scoffed . " How about putting some clothes on ? "

" Bonnie ! " the redhead chided . " Quit being rude . "

" Yes , well - hold that thought . " the Iowan said and stampeded into the bedroom , pounced at the dresser and seized a tee and gym shorts , wrenching them on .

He hauled ass back , a human racing greyhound .

" Okay , uhmmm ... "

" Your balcony . " Bonnie said frostily .

" Balcony ? " Colby parroted , bewildered .

" It's a nice , sunny day . We - me and Allison - are going to lay out on your balcony and tan . " she explained gruffly .

The man blinked .

D - D - D - Dear P - P - Penthouse .

Indeed .

" You gals don't have a balcony ? " he asked stupidly , squeaking when he talked . Pink in his cheeks crept to his forehead , turning reddish - purple on the way .

" Bird shit . " Bonnie huffed .

" Birds crap all over it . " her friend translated .

" Oh ... well , you either get a cat to chase them away or - " Colby paused , wiping off sweat birthed from temptation . " Put up windchimes . The noise scares them . "

" Neat ! " the tiny female squealed cheerfully .

Colby beamed at how easier to get along with she seemed to be compared to her friend .

True , they were equally whooo hooooo ! ravishing but Bonnie whatserface was too grumpy for to get chummy with .

" I am beyond sorry , baby ! " Jimmy apologized the second he stepped into their little home and sat the many bags onto the kitchen counter . " Found out that Amish people freak out like craaaazy if a guy wearing eyeliner , nail polish and multiple earrings in each ear asks to buy a hat . "

His Tyler sat , inert and fixated , at the kitchen table . The Iowan's infatuated gaze went straight forward to the sliding glass door that lead out on the balcony .

The older man didn't have to look twice to figure out what his partner was focused on and getting an eye full from .

" While this cat's away , my teacher's pet dog plays , huh ? " he teased . " Or should I say , gets laid ? "

" They're from work . " Colby stammered . " Training to be wrestlers , like we are . "

" Not like us in every way . " Jimmy smirked and ogled . " I can see at least two differences . "

" Girls . " his bestie stuttered , propping his chin up cradled in hand and putting his elbows on the table . " Hot girls . On our balcony . "

" And you didn't introduce yourself ? "

" Yeah , kind of but - "

" Bad Ty - Ty ! We have company and you've been blind to their needs . " Jimmy faked walloping his sighing friend over the skull with his chain strap purse . " Manners , hon , manners . "

" I haven't been blind ! " Colby disagreed vehemently , sat back and smirked . " I assure you that I've had all eyes on them . "

" Hmmmmm and other parts of your anatomical greatness too ? " his buddy teased , smiling gently . He pushed the sliding glass door open a few inches , stepped onto the balcony and waved Hello to the pair of immediately startled females .

Except for an occasional muffled snatch of conversation , the younger man couldn't guess at what they were saying .

Whatever the women had agreed on , it must have been something fun because the duo were smiling and appeared to be laughing as well .

" So , what do you have up your sleeve ? " Colby had finished loading the vegetable and fruit drawer and left the rest of the groceries for his friend to put away . " Your turn . "

Jimmy looked at the frozen items and other things he'd bought , then the cabinets and groaned .

" I asked them to join us - "

" Like a cult ? " Colby chortled , anxiously and with suspicion building .

His partner peeked into the carton of eggs , scrutinizing for any cracks .

" Like , playing games . Two men and two women . " Jimmy smirked . " Take a wild guess , beautiful . "

The Iowan abruptly cleared his throat .

" Y - You aren't planning an orgy , are you ? " the younger man asked . He yearned for one , although he was also skittish .

Giggling and flirting , Xio pivoted around his partner , planting kisses on Colby's mouth and nose and fingers while batting his eyelashes amorously .

" Oh , you'll find out , big man . You'll find out lickety split . "

Allison , whose real surname was Plunkett and recently adopted wrestler name was the cutesy Wonderland , had been taken under the wing of and trained by her BFF Bonnie .

Bonnie , the practicing vegan , had formerly used the moniker ' Jezebel James ' in her intro to pro wrestling .

" Hated it ! " she complained , her tone of voice as bitter as cold coffee grounds in the bottom of the mug . " Sounded way too much like a porn star . "

" Radiant Rain and Amazing Allison Wonderland , the coolest gals on Earth . " Xio stated matter of factly , speaking using Jimmy's voice . He broke pieces from his candy necklace and shared the pastel hued sugar bits with his friends , new and old .

The two ladies blushed .

" Yeah , he's right about that . " Colby agreed . Okay , he was a little jealous . His bestie could charm the panties off of any woman .

Almost any .

The two women beamed .

Xio took to Rain instantly and Colby paired off with ' Al ' , although they had just met .

The four sprawled on the living room rug and claimed their places around the game board , coffee table shoved out of the way .

Allison took the high heel shoe , Rain , the car . Xio was the top hat and , after having trouble choosing , Colby decided on the dog which brought to mind Shun and Perro .

The cold ones helped make the hour of playing Monopoly fly by .

The Iowan drank beer until he was merrily woozy .

" Wooohooooo ! I win ! Beat you and you and ... you . " Rain cheered , then she and Jimmy made eyes at one another .

Allison scooped up a armload of paper money and threw it , the faux cash fluttering and drifting like confetti to the floor in a corkscrew shape .

" Raaaaain , we live together ! You wouldn't beat me . You're kindhearted , not violent . " she whined .

Colby brushed some play money out of his hair and reached for another beer .

" She means being a winner , baby . " he said , patting Allison's butt .

" Oh . " she giggled , tipsy and perplexed . She craned forward and crash landed in her boyfriend's lap .

" My parking space ! " Jimmy whimpered before Bonnie put a lip lock on him .

" Shaaaaaaare . " Rain commanded , snickering loudly .

" Yeah , do what she says , Jimmles . You lost to her so that means - uhmmmm ... " Colby mulled it over while chugging alcohol . " She owns you today . Or something . "

" Well then , you heard him . It's your call , ma'am . " his bestie said before he and his girl dove on ( and in ) each others mouths once again . " You decide my punishment . "

" Punishment ? ! " Rain squealed and laughed , knocking Xio's 60's inspired , rectangular framed , pink lens granny glasses off of his face and pulling him closer by the large metal O - ring on his burgundy velvet choker collar . " Like what , tying you to the bed ? Or taking out the handcuffs ? "

" Try me . " her boyfriend smirked before they ran , stumbling , into the bedroom and slammed the door closed .

Colby grunted and frowned .

" I'm not gonna pay rent for a month if they use my bed . " he muttered sourly .

Allison cringed at the first moaning and panting clearly heard behind the shut door .

" He won't - he isn't going to hurt her , is he ? "

The Iowan understood and sympathized with her fear , hugging the young woman .

" He wouldn't . I promise you . For one , I'd stop him and second , he relates to women . Really . "

Colby raised his voice to speak over the sounds of grunting and gasping .

Allison squinted , scrutinizing and inquisitive and cocked her head .

Her guy shut up in a flash . Being drunk made him into a snitch unfortunately .

Lucky for him , in more ways than one , his girl's train of thought had sped down ... another track .

Sensuous .

Desirable .

" Would you ? " she questioned and the inquiry left her mouth in the form of an alluring challenge .

" Nawh , I'd never hurt you or her either . " Colby flung his hands up and smiled .

Al placed two small hands between his knees and skimmed them up ...

And up -

Colby smirked , cradled her and was totally compensated by the fact that the couch unfolded into a small , third bed .

" Mmmmmmmm . "

He chuckled under the blanket . Her sighing tickled his earlobe .

Colby brushed both his and Al's long , cute tri - color hair off of his chest , wriggled a bit to pick his underwear from the living room rug and stretched , sated , on the couch , grinning at the ceiling and his girl resting on his upper body .

" They either died or are sleeping . " Allison glanced , frowning at the bedroom door , still closed . " It's been quiet in there for awhile . "

" They're asleep , babe , don't worry . " he kissed her eyelids and wrists before leaving the couch . " I'll peek in on them and bring you the update . "

Allison beamed and squish - hugged him with added thrilled strength around his neck .

" Thank you , baby ! "

He crept through the room , stealthy and quiet .

His bed was still made up , the covers smooth , untouched and without any noticable staining .

Jimmy's , however , was the antithesis of beds - the blankets heaped at the foot and sheets glistening with diminutive , gluey patches .

The same moisture shone on Xio's fingers and thumbs , the numerous rings sat cast aside on his nightstand .

And his chin , upper and lower lips and the end of his nose .

Replicated on Rain's upper legs , dribbles formed a partly sticky crust .

The Iowan looked away . Her panties had been shifted and the expresso brown landing strip was rather evident .

He edged towards the open door and scurried back to Allison , evading getting yelled at by his bestie and Bonnie for peeking at her pubes .

He kissed his girl , utterly relaxed and mind at ease .

They cuddled longer , intertwined .

" She's okay ? " Al asked , a faint tremble in her voice .

" They're safe , sound and snoring . " her boyfriend grinned , keeping his laughter subdued . " Both of them . "

Al chuckled , placated and snuggled next to his abs .

" Thanks . "

" Welcome . " he yawned deeply and in minutes , he and his woman were as fast asleep as the pair zonked out in the bedroom .

" We're bound to get hangovers so I'm gonna try and stop them in their tracks . " Colby said , while Allison hurried along next to him , holding hands even when he took the carton of eggs from the fridge .

" Something that Rain can eat ? " she asked , beaming gently as her boyfriend placed fresh filters into the coffee maker , not taking her eyes off the young man for a second .

" Awwwwh , crud ! " he face-palmed , a toothy smile showing through his spread fingers . " Thanks for remindin ' me , babe . "

The young woman giggled awhile , up on tiptoes and tousling his hair .

" She has Trader Joe's masala burgers and other stuff on her side of the fridge and freezer . We can run downstairs and get that . "

Allison looked down at her teeny bathing suit , blushed and smiled .

" And clothes too . "

" WE ? ! " Colby stammered , glancing at the appliances . Nothing was on the stove yet and maybe - maybe , the coffee pot wouldn't start a fire in the few minutes they'd be away ...

" Yeah , we , Mister . " his girl embraced him . She was warm , her entire petite body felt amazing against his and he sighed , toes curling inside his socks .

" Can't get enough of me , huh ? I feel the same way about you . "

The young woman touched his groin and smirked , staring into big , chocolate brown eyes that were shining like hers .

" Yeah , I noticed . "

Their residence was not as frilly as had imagined , although it appeared brighter and sunnier than his and Jimmy's place . The paint and material colors were lighter and the air seemed scented with perfume that was tolerable and pleasing , not eye stinging and nostril burning .

" Da Da Daaaaaaa ! " Allison cheered , presenting the block of refrigerated tofu out of the pile of healthy food and vegan items .

" Illusionist's assistant . " Colby joked , smooching her once more . " You're magic , sweetheart . "

His girlfriend took the clothing and food in a large , lined reusable cloth shopping tote upstairs and they sorted things after unpacking .

Colby drained the tofu , patted it dry , cubed and shook it with seasonings in a baggie . He finished by stirring chopped onions , peppers and the tofu chunks around in the sizzling skillet until done .

He cooked his and Xio's and Al's meal in a separate pan so that Bonnie's food wouldn't be contaminated from their ' barbaric ' animal products .

The young man giggled a bit while scrambling eggs with grated cheese and crowning the plated hangover meals with his own handmade salsa , poured coffee and water garnished with lime slices and called the hungry trio to the small kitchen table .

The foursome munched and drank , joked with each other and chattered merrily and nonstop .

Colby felt peaceful somehow with these people - two strangers he was slowly getting to know and one of his absolute , all time best friends .

Friends , lovers and familia .

Yntanik' .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" We're dead! We're dead! We survived but we're dead! " Colby grumbled , staggering to bed , sweat drenched clothing clinging to his flesh like a peel on a banana .

" It is four o ' clock . " Jimmy complained . " How is it four already ? ! "

" Eight o ' clock breakfast , go to work , in ring training until a tad after two , quick shower then an late lunch at three -ish before the drive home . "

" Urgh . " the older man groaned , stripping out of and discarding his soggy Gesshoku brand ' Gender Deviant ' tee , sheer white mesh shorts over black leggings , thin socks and buckled , black ankle boots .

His attire landed in a heap on the rug , swapped for the dry , soft and loose fitting navy blue and dark grey plaid pajama pants that he'd changed into .

" Over five and a half hours of exercise . Dojo of Honor don't play around . " the Iowan began laughing and shook from it . " And ... and - I kinda like it . "

" Damn right , my man . " Jimmy said , less enthusiastic than usual . " Relish the pain and appreciate the insanity of the wrestling universe , every bizarre and violent piece . "

" Man , I am in need of a looooong conk right now . " Colby yawned and weaved around the nightstand between their beds , staggering and collapsing onto the mattress .

" Same here . Time to recharge . " his friend answered wearily , eyes barely open . He flicked a pinky over the base of the LED touch lamp and in the darkness , found his way into the blankets and sheets ' nest . '

It was the most bizarre , non - sexual dream that Colby ever had .

He was hovering ... floating , with the back of his head bumping the rafters .

Levitating ? !

He grimaced , speechless while gazing at the audience below - nearly eighty thousand people , shouting , whooping and reciting their favorite wrestlers catchphrases , clapping and stomping -

Cheering . They were cheering for him .

He couldn't tell who his opponents were at this height , although oddly enough , he saw himself clearly .

What thaaaa ... ? ! His normally coffee bean color eyes were silvery blue and his outfit -

He looked just like a superhero , a warrior from ancient - or perhaps , future - times during battle as his shadowy , faceless rivals charged into the brawl .

And from what could've been miles away , a baby cried .

Colby turned his face to look at his bestie , who was rubbing his eyes .

Jimmy fussed and cursed , glowering at the bedside digital clock .

One minute before seven .

" What is going on ? " he asked , groggy and exasperated .

Colby sat up after a struggle and wobbled into the kitchen , a weary Xio tagging along .

" And we'll be moving on and singing that same old song , yeah with me - "

In awe , the two men peered at the tile floor .

It was quivering .

" Awh , come on ! I know you can do better that that ! Sing louder ! "

Jimmy and his bestie shrugged at each other and ran out onto the balcony , looking down through wide eyes at the massive stage set up and the enormous crowd of thousands - perhaps hundreds of thousands singing along louder , just like Joan Jett had told them to .

" I love rock and roll ! So put another dime in the jukebox, baby ...
I love rock and roll ! So come and take your time and dance with me ! "

Colby zipped back to the kitchen and rummaged through the ' junk drawer ' , pulled out a pair of binoculars and rejoined on the balcony , open - mouthed and pulse racing .

He read a sign that made him gasp and want to burst out laughing , head bang and squeal , all fan girly .

" How did we not know that the freakin ' Warped Tour was taking place ? ! "

" Because we work all the damn time ? "

" Well , I'm not missing Bullet for my Valentine . " his partner stated and slung a foot up onto the railing .

" The Hell , man ? ! " the older man screeched . " You aren't - you wouldn't ! "

Colby shrugged and kept climbing , swinging down and holding to the metal bars as though he was dangling on a trapeze .

" Go with me . It's party time , sweetheart . "

" You'll fall ! " Jimmy lunged to grab his favorite person of all - time , while uneasy in his gut and pleading with his eyes .

The Iowan beamed , sunshine in the approaching dusk .

" Naaahhh . "

" But ... but - " Xio whined , reaching again with damp fingers , his eyes shifting from side to side .

" Yeah , it's an attractive one . " the younger man laughed his appealing signature cackle and then plummeted .

Straight D
o
w
n without a net .

" TYYYY ! " Xio yelled , speeding through the apartment , returning to the bedroom and lifting the window to open before looking at the fire escape just beneath .

He raised one shivering foot and whimpered , frozen in place after that slight motion .

Somehow panic cracked the terror ice and he walked like a drunk with the coffee jitters right to the balcony , picking up the binoculars on the way .

Glancing at the audience that were now no longer the size of pigeons but humans , he searched the crowd for his -

" Tyyyyy ! " the older man cheered at cranked volume , overjoyed and fending off tears .

That incredible , incomparable , beautiful P.I.T.A. was crowd surfing .

" You ... son of your parents . " Xio growled , amused , jealous , pleased by and taking pride in his boyfriend .

His creation .

The perfect man .

Jimmy securely embraced the love of his life , slathering his face with an abundance of moist kisses .

" Awh , Jeez ! I thought that you cracked your skull ! How did you survive ? "

" Don't you remember those mattresses someone sat out on the sidewalk for the garbage collectors to take away ? " Colby smirked , crash landing on one of their beach chairs . " Still there . "

" And what if they weren't ? ! " Xio reprimanded , frowning and with hands on his hips the entire time . " Tyler , do not ever scare me like that again ! "

" Jump with me . " the younger man interrupted , roguishness glistening in his coffee bean brown eyes .

" You have got to be frikking kidding . "

" Please ? Against Me ! is playing tonight . Awh , pleeeease ? It'll be our version of a date . "

" Aaaahh , it's always the pretty ones that strike my heart with their arrows . " Xio sighed .

" Ones ? ! " Colby elevated both eyebrows .

" One . " Jimmy corrected , blushing and staring at the hand extended .

" By the way , that was not an arrow . " the Iowan grinned some more .

" Yeah . " the older man spoke with a suddenly dry throat - sandpaper on skin - and his beet red face fired up into an eggplant shade .

He took that hand and kept his eyes shut .

No looking down when they j
u
u
m
m
p
e
d

Poof !

Colby groaned and coughed , rolling off of the stained , stinking mattress and immediately began wiping away crumbs and other crud .

Jimmy did the same , the two men slightly ' dinged and dented ' but lacking any serious damage to their bodies beneath now grimy clothing .

" Mi amigo . " the Iowan cackled again at the sight of his friend and lover with pizza sauce spattering his bright pink face .

Jimmy smiled .

The love of his life had wadded napkins in his slimy hair and a sour gummy worm sticking gooey and neon red , orange and yellow green to his nose , dangling .

" My friend . "

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

          

" This is ridiculous ! " the Iowan complained , shivering below the overcoat . " Absurd and pointless . "

" The club has marvelous heat so you have nothing to fear about freezing . "

" Screw you . I'm already freezing . "

Both men trudged down the cold sidewalk , trembling in the frigid air and shuffling around the patches that remained from the day before's snow and light glaze of ice .

Xio paused at the employees entrance - gigantic double doors embossed with the club's logo and name - and smiled at his partner , awaiting the ' unveiling ' of tanned eye candy beneath the ebony wool blend .

" Show time , sweetheart ! "

Colby growled , unbuttoning .

" I hate you . "

" No hate from us , baby , only love . " Jimmy responded and like his friend , began undressing .

His friend sulked , standing literally exposed right outside his workplace , wearing nothing more than gold glitter wrestling trunks tinier than Speedos and matching sparkly boots .

" Quit pouting ! You've worn barely more than this in the ring . "

" Barely is an accurate description . " Colby scowled while Xio presented his costume - black latex trunk bottoms as small as his friend's , stiletto heels , fishnets , a corset top , lots of jewelry , makeup and a curly black wig .

" It's beautiful . " Xio sighed , taking the collar and leash from the depths of his fruit punch pink shoulder bag .

" It's inaccurate . " the younger man glared , leaning his head back so the accessories could be attached . " Rocky never wore a leash and collar ! "

" Yeah , he didn't but hon , he can't compare to you . "

Colby blushed .

" One night only . "

" Okay . " his bizarre buddy agreed .

" And you're buying my drinks . "

" Okay . "

Colby beamed .

Jimmy grinned at his partner and eased the doors open , leading him along by the chain leash .

" Well , superstar , let's go get mentally mind - fucked . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Colby wiped down the bar counter surfaces at four a.m. - closing time after the big Halloween bash - and smiled . He had several things to be happy about , for one , being dressed as Robin Hood in a brown and green tunic and tights was a lot warmer than last night's costume .

Two , his penis had extended at the hotter than Tabasco sight of Allison decked out to look like eighties Madonna , mesh lined crop top , rubber bracelets , oversized cross pendants , the whole nine yards .

Jimmy had been all smiles too , after getting an eyeful and then some of Rain in her teeny , pin up girl , navy blue sailor suit .

Two and a half , the variety of gourmet popcorn flavors he'd whipped up - Bloody Mary , Bubble Gum , Pumpkin Spice and Ghost Pepper , to fit the spooky holiday celebration theme - had been a success with the drunken , horror flick watching crowd .

The scary film mini - marathon had started at ten after the dancing finished and ended at last , exactly at three thirty three , ironic in its own way .

His unique bestie was in a good mood also , cleaning up trash and washing tables , rearranging chairs and dusting off the karaoke machine .

Colby beamed at his partner when Xio wasn't watching . The older man looked sensational dressed as an alternative version of a ringmaster , although the bow tie for the circus costume had been literally torn off and replaced with an narrow strip of black pleather decorated with round silver studs and a faceted jewel heart .

" Clock out time ! " Jimmy leaped on a bar stool and laughed , spinning in circles .

" Yeah . " his bestie gave him a sample of the chicken and white bean chili on a yellow corn chip . " Try this . "

" Michelin star worthy , champ . " the older man lauded his partner after he ate . " You oughta try for a chef career . "

" Naaaaaahh . " Colby replied , bashful and grinning , a dusting of pale pink surfacing on his cheekbones . He sniffed a sleeve on his costume and frowned .

" Ugh . I need a shower . "

" And I need to watch you take one . " Xio commented brazenly .

He leafed through a spiral bound notebook , reading the names of customers that Colby knew and nicknames for those he didn't .

" Who is Blue Pants ? "

" Girl who drops by a few times each month . Can't remember her name but she always wears blue pants , so I use that . It helps me keep the orders right and not give someone onion rings when they paid for cheese sticks . "

" Smart , cute and a great cook . There's nothing you can't do ! "

" Quit coffee altogether . Become a couch potato . Learn to piss sitting down . " the Iowan joked .

Jimmy laughed , rolling his eyes and spun some more .

" Yo , Dizzy , hit the jukebox before we're outie , would you ? I'm low on tunes and have to recharge . "

Xio dazzled with a lewd smile and reluctantly played the last song .

Living Dead Girl rattled the speakers and the older man imitated gagging , acting like he was ready to vomit .

" Ewwwww , not Rob - I only direct movies to flaunt my wife's ass and all my music sounds the same , my use of the word fuck is at overkill level - Zombie ! " whined .

" At this point , man , anything's better than listening to Monster Mash for the umpteenth damn time . "

Colby presented a hand and his buddy ceased bitching .

They twirled about the dance floor , waltzing and other slow dancing to the hard rock - heavy metal tune growled with searing goth vocals .

The younger man lowered his mouth to caress that crazy , rat nest of hair that was a darker , near black color than his own and whispered .

" You're my Zombie , Princess . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Ouch . Leggo . '

" Mmmmm . "

" Ouch . Leggo . "

" Mmmmmmm . You're so fine . Any more and I'd call you Fran . "

" Are you part crab , by any chance ? " Colby joked since his buddy was clamped onto him in a full - body side hug .

The embrace had them tangled as one , both of Xio's arms fastened around his lover's waist and chest , his legs curled around one of the younger man's .

" What do crabs eat ? ' Cause I spotted a vending machine on the way back to the locker room and - "

" You're hungry . " Colby stated , wobbling as he walked around backstage . " And heavy . "

" Am not ! " Jimmy feigned being offended , ultimately unlocking his love grip from ' his Tyler ' . " Screw you , Champ . I'm getting a candy bar . "

" And the world's population applauds you . " the Iowan wisecracked .

His best friend stuck out his tongue , skipping into the hallway .

Colby also stuck his tongue and then laughed , turning aside to sort through his luggage .

His unusual friend left his thoughts while he was busy .

Twenty minutes passed and Xio had reentered the twenty year old's mind , which was now having a fit .

He went on the hunt backstage , from one arena hallway to the next , steering clear of a two shelf hand truck , coils of extension power cables , stacks of gaffer tape , rigging hardware and a fog machine .

And ... diamonds ? !

No , those were clear rhinestones scattered on the floor , along with a solo link of black plastic chain .

A big silver lock pendant lay near the mess , most of its stones had came loose , straining to join the ones already severed .

Colby gulped and the cement heaviness in his throat slammed into his heart , gagging him , icy cold yet burning .

Someone had destroyed Jimmy's necklace .

Intentionally .

Which meant that same person had - was ...

" Oh , Hell ! " the Iowan cried and ran .

Concession stand , souvenir booth .

He ran .

Public telephones , drinking fountains .

He ran .

Elevators , fire alarm on the wall beside the extinguisher , the ' team ' incased in glass .

He ran , only stopping to take a breather , staring miserably at the No Smoking signs , In Case Of Fire : Do Not Use Elevators - Use ...

" Stairs ! " Colby shouted and his legs and feet were mistreated from all the tracks he was making .

In the stairwell , an unfamiliar man - at least six feet tall and over two hundred pounds , teeth missing , ungroomed dark hair poking out from beneath the Rebel Flag bandanna he wore - was strangling Xio , the long strap purse handle cinched around his puffy , red tinged throat .

" Dafuq are you doing ? ! "

" What tha Hail does it look like ? I caught this fairy bitch tryin ' to go into the womens restroom . "

" Get away from him , you white trash - " Colby growled , the steps below his soles feeling more like clouds than solid objects . " His business , not yours where he chooses to piss . "

" Oh , don't tell me . " Jay whipped around and faced his foe . " You're one of them filthy faggot lovers , huh ? I'd put a bullet into the chest of anyone that wants to teach my children being a sicko queer is okay . "

" Children ? " the Iowan paused , sending back the glower . " Damn , which farm animal held still long enough for you to stick it in ? "

Jay's eyes narrowed and he smirked pitilessly , fists up .

" Bring the fight , fag lover . "

Colby stampeded towards Jay , meaning to knee him in the face , or a martial arts kick extracting one of the few teeth he had , dentistry by shoe .

Ah , this time , things didn't go according to plan .

" Aaaaauurrrgggghh ! "

Jay crashed into a fetal position , shrimp curled and struggling with the pain from having his groin pummeled .

Nutcracker ?

Sweet .

Colby helped Jimmy to his feet , an arm around his waist for support .

" Let's get out of here ... take you to the local hospital - "

" No , you get out of here ! " Jimmy retched before he cautioned his friend . " There are two of them ! "

" Yeah , I know that there are two . Both smashed into nut butter . " Colby gloated .

" Little shit punk , what have you done to my brother ? ! "

The Iowan twitched at the bellowing behind him and Jimmy flinched , sweating .

Well , fuck .

There were two brothers .

" Busted his puny balls , what's it look like , Duck Dynasty ? " Colby snapped at the toothless twin a second before he was attacked .

Mark maintained an unyielding hold on Colby's longer mane , hoisting him off of the floor with legs flailing and feet swinging .

" Sonovabitch ! " Jimmy screeched , withdrawing his sandals from the purse and hitting Mark with them , not a cause of pain but to divert attention . " Leave my Tye alone ! "

The Brother elbowed him in the stomach and Jimmy slumped over , moaning and spitting .

" What he said . " Colby bristled , glaring at the upright Briscoe . " Son of a bitch . "

" Shut the fuck up , Lopez . " Mark replied , his face stoplight red and painted with a smug look . " Yeah , Lopez . Me and my brother heard about you and your Taco Bell dollar menu parents . After I finish you off , I'll make your Daddy mow my lawn and your Mommy clean the toilets . "

Xio gasped , offended and shocked . The suction noise created from his inhaling sounded like a shrill whistle .

Colby roared and accelerated , catapulting his entire body into Mark - an arrow hitting the target with full force .

The sneering Briscoe grabbed him in mid - air and hurled him into a block wall , spine first .

" Suck on that dick , queer lover . " Mark muttered proudly .

Colby felt and heard a crunch and everything went -

" Black ? ! Mister Black ? Lie still . We're going to help you . "

" Call 911 ! Call for an ambulance ! "

" Ty , please don't - "

A sniffle following three distinctive voices , female , male and a woman who was also a man , in that order .

" I'm going to kill them . "

The younger man sighed and after shifting into an upright , seated position , pushed one of many buttons on the hospital bed's guardrail .

Closed caption popped onto the television screen and the volume increased by four decibels .

" Heh . " Colby tried again , chuckling . " Let's ... uhm , see what - oh ! "

The overhead lights dimmed , then brightened .

The Iowan muttered words unsuitable for ages twelve and younger and pressed more buttons .

Classic blues from one of the local radio stations began playing from the built - in side speakers .

" Welp . " Colby proclaimed , lighthearted , giggling and looking at his friend . " It's official . I'm eternally trapped in this bed . "

The older man didn't crack any jokes or make sly comments for once regarding sex or foreplay , which his friend found to be honestly disquieting .

" I'm going to demolish them ! "

" Uhm , how about - please don't ? You'd be put behind bars and I prefer it when you're with me . "

" I'm going to . " Jimmy fumed , glaring at the window blurred from the nonstop rain outside .

" I'm fine ! Well , mostly . " his bestie glanced at the I.V. tube and needle embedded into the flesh on one wrist , digging into the vein . " The main negative was that our very first Honor dark match gets rescheduled to next week thanks to those bullying redneck jerks . "

Jimmy grumbled under his breath .

" Look , my spine's intact and the rest of my bones unscathed as well . " Colby scrutinized the blank , humdrum white walls , listened to someone coughing in another room down the hallway , smelled the scent of hot tea and coffee the secretaries drank at the front desk when they weren't answering phone calls .

A peculiarly nonvocal Xio touched the bandage wrap around his neck and throat , glowering .

" And thankfully , you're okay too . Only mild injuries and out of harm's way . " the younger man paused , at first rather scared to ask . " Are you pissed because after the blood test , they marked a F on your info sheet instead of a M ? "

" I am . Going to . Annihilate the Briscoes . " Jimmy announced , bit by bit , in a voice raspy from smoking daily .

" Meh , how about only torturing them first before they get used for a sacrifice ? " the younger man asked in jest .

What Colby had said , he never meant it to be taken seriously .

Xio , on the other hand -

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" This is bullshit ! " Colby protested , pacing backstage and yanking the strands of hair that tumbled over his eyes .

Jimmy apparently was in the opposite mood , his serene expression an antithesis of his partner's while they sat backstage after their first Honor dark match .

" Wait , my dearest . " the older man exhaled , hardly blinking as he watched the Brothers in the ring , gloating over the bruised torsos of their beaten opponents .

" It isn't fair ! " the twenty year old wailed and cursed , scowling at the roughneck tag team . " Jay , at the very least , should be stuck behind bars - locked away for life - as punishment for trying to kill you . "

" Patience . " Jimmy whispered , blinking once .

Colby felt an odd , unforeseen chill that was frostier than the air spewing from the rattling , dripping air conditioner .

A young man he'd never seen before was unexpectedly standing in the ring , surprising the entire audience , the Briscoes and all other wrestlers backstage as well .

" Huh . Who is that guy ? "

Jimmy blinked , an eyelid sequel and the thin , light colored hairs on the back of Colby's neck raised .

" Our time . " his bestie replied . " Is now . "

" What are you saying ? ! "

Jimmy beamed lovingly at his bestie .

The twenty year old's stomach cartwheeled and he shivered . That was not a nice smile .

The Briscoes collared him , punching him in the face and knocking the unknown to the canvas .

More fists flew and connected , smashing into the man's stomach , eyes , nose and ending with the groin , causing him to groan and fold at the belly .

The stomps came after , dangerous ones to the skull , powerful booted feet landing in an attempt to crush bones .

" Shit ! " Colby squealed , horrified . He managed to bitch around the nausea and terror sloshing in his throat .

" Patience . "

The vulnerable male writhed as both Brothers sneered at his agony and fear .

They clutched one of his legs and twisted ...

" Dammit ! " the Iowan hollered , at wits end with his seemingly unconcerned partner . " Stay back here and keep chanting your stupid mantra . I'm going to rescue that kid before they break his legs ! "

" Ssssshh , baby . " Jimmy hushed his beloved , pointing at what was taking place that made the gawking fans scream their astonishment . " Look . "

Colby glanced over and felt his head spin , grey and yellow spirals and spots blurring his vision .

The guy's leg had came off - detaching in a rattled Briscoe's big hand .

The redneck duo looked at one another and shrugged , tossing the prosthetic aside and glancing around , apprehensive .

Bewilderment in their expressions switched to leering , missing teeth grins of satisfaction when a distraught , goth punk young woman in all black clothing and a giant , black and neon green mohawk , rolled into the ring .

They smirked and advanced on the female , grabbing their crotches while getting her cornered against the turnbuckles and ropes .

" Go . Through the crowd . Fast . " Jimmy scooted behind his boyfriend and shoved . " Now ! "

" ' Bout fucking time ! " Colby said and took off like a Derby champion race horse .

They zig-zagged through the befuddled , curious audience , making tracks and steering clear of a few members of the crowd touching their hair , grabbing their rear ends before coming to a standstill .

Mohawk lady had spit a mouthful of some kind of lime green liquid into one Briscoe's face , blinding him with the spray of mist .

The one legged guy had smashed his prosthetic against the back of the second Brother's head , hooting fanatically when the larger man crumpled .

Colby felt the head rush and swayed . He shook it off and jumped the barrier , at the heels of Xio .

There were blood stains on the canvas and screams ringing in ears .

Mohawk , One Leg and a dozen men ( or very big and tall , muscular women , Black guessed ) formed a circle around the screeching , writhing , cursing Brothers .

Colby couldn't make out any faces from beneath the balaclava hoods that they wore , barely could see the shapes of their bodies under all the head - to - toe black garb .

He climbed into the ring , following his bestie , slipped and crawled and then sagged into a corner , off balance and skittish .

The people masquerading as burglars and bank robbers laid into the Briscoes , punching and strangling them , work boot soles to skulls , leaving trauma and nightmares behind them after the assault .

" Hi , gorgeous ! "

Colby blinked groggily at the inviting , sweet comment .

" Al ? ! "

She smiled and pecked his lips - a tiny yet stimulating kiss .

" Yep and Rain's over there - "

Allison pointed out her bestie , the other young woman stuck to her guy like fly paper tape  .

" The entire gang ! "

" Gang ? ! " the Iowan again bellowed the question and his puzzlement , glimpsing more blood , his girl's lovely smile and his male lover's psychotic one .

Allison kissed him again , made a cute tongue stuck out expression and scampered away .

Someone tapped his arm .

" HEL'=\^*#LO AGA !#}:IN . " the bizarre man typed rapidly , yanking off the balacava over his other mask .

Colby gaped , a vein in his forehead twitching .

Delirious , the same guy who had turned down Society X and that company's BS deals .

" You remember me also , right ? " Another deep voice inquired at his left shoulder .

" Joey ? ! " Colby yelped . He'd recognize the young man's facial features and basset hound eyes in any crowd .

There was one thing different about the man , the Iowan realized .  Joey's long , light brown , male model tresses had been shaved bald .

" Yeah . " Joey chuckled , tugging the mask off all the way before raising his shirt to bare rows of exquisite abs , ' flashing ' . " And here's my I.D. to prove it ! "

Colby shuddered , groaned and looked on at the unfolding chaos , too bug - eyed and woozy to laugh at Joey's goofy antics .

Rain and Allison stood on either side of Jimmy and peeled off his black and cranberry red goth jacket , folding the scary -cool punk coat neatly and stepping back .

The Iowan identified the weapon in his buddy's hands , not his soon to be infamous , taped up railroad spike but a thinner , longer object the hue of aluminum foil and sharp pointed at the tip .

Colby inhaled with enough force that he choked for a second .

Those were his stainless steel grilling kabob skewers !

Over two dozen gloved fingers pried open the Briscoe's mouths , exposing the gaps and holes of teeth missing from years of chewing tobacco use .

Well built , tree trunk arms confined in place and the green haired chick , giggling like a hyena , literally held Mark and Jay's meaty tongues , stacked atop each others .

Their blood jetted , dousing when the sharp points of the cooking accessories pierced their upper and lower lips and their tongues - human kabobs silenced .

The man directing this impalement , smirked , madness evident on his crimson and gory tinted features .

Jimmy in somewhat of a Xio mode paced around the vulnerable , mute Briscoes . He was beaming arrogantly and placated .

" Why , you ask ? "

The fans went silent after the first scream , hanging on his every word .

" Why is not the question . How ? Now , that is a question worth examining . How could I , being born of such , uh ... conventional stock , arrive a leader of the rebellion ? An escapist from a conformist world , destined to find happiness only in that which cannot be explained ? "

The metal and thick chain contraption which normally held the electronic sports scoreboard when the arena hosted basketball games , lowered ominously and mysteriously .

Thump . Thump .

And tonight was anything normal , so if it could hold over a thousand pounds without breaking , the pair of muted Briscoes would be featherweights .

Thump . Thump .

Colby dared not scream . Jay and Mark , had they been able to , would have plenty anyway .

Bjork's ' Army Of Me ' was booming over the loudspeakers , spliced with cuts from Walls of Jericho's ' The Haunted . '

This is our mission statement , to go show the world we must survive .

You're on your own now ... we won't save you ...

The twenty year old giggled like a loon .

Their entrance theme music ? !

A blood waterfall gushed , cascading once they rose towards the ceiling , lifted , unprotected .

" Oh my fucking fictional God . " Black gasped , wanting to vomit despite his empty stomach and cotton mouth .

His best friend was saturated , sanguine fluid makeup , hemoglobin shampoo , damp from scalp to shoes with a homophobic duo's blood .

" I brought you here for a reason , but unfortunately you and your sentimental minds are doing me no good ! My brain is frozen . Locked ! I have to break free from this culture of mechanical reproductions and the thick encrustations dying on the surface ! "

The fans hollered and cheered , clapping and singing .

" Hope you like what you see ! Hope you like what you see ! " Jimmy screeched before falling to his knees , arms flung open and head thrown back .

The audience went wild , cranked to a hundred , echoing his demented chant .

" Hope you like what you see ! Hope you like what you see ! "

The madman , under a shower of mortal's blood , took notice of his boyfriend and winked .

And Colby's penis was hard and solid , so much that he truly believed at the time , he could've turned it as a key in a lock .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Y %^ES !_* YE+}S! " Delirious tapped frantically , one handed on the keyboard of his electronic speaking device , the free hand wrapped around his girlfriend's waist while they ground together at the hips , face to face .

" &*^YE!#/S.=Y%ES! " she copied the masked man's crazy ' language ' while he typed in more mushrooms , alien heads , peace signs , hearts , stars and various other emoticons .

Matt gasped , interrupting their bizarre chat as he continued pumping away at the ' exit ' , groaning while he lifted Daizee's bare ass up at an angle to glide firmly in .

The Iowan watched , quivering and sweating beads of solid ice on his scalding hot skin , his erection hard as brick and stone .

The rest of the ' gang ' also stared , Zach Gowen seemingly intrigued with a wandering hand down the front of his shorts and Mschif obviously disgusted by the erotic display , frowning , eyes narrowed and upper lip raised .

Jimmy sat , with blood dried on his skin and clothes and observed silently , Rain in his lap , kissing him .

Colby as Tyler had the other end of the long half circle sofa , Allison in his lap while they lounged backstage in their very own private VIP room they'd taken over .

Way , way , way past midnight but a long time before sunrise .

There were empty beer cans and wine bottles scattered on the coffee table and tile floor , ashtrays piled high with stub end , crumpled butts , what was left of bottled water and catered , gourmet deli trays added to the mess .

Colby eyed the packs of condoms . Several had already been used .

The arena had been closed and locked for the night hours ago .

Haze sighed , arched her back , moaned again softly and smiled at her odd , masked lover .

Sydal noticed when he wasn't panting and glared at Delirious .

" Well , I'm gone . " Mschif muttered sourly , hands on her hips and staring daggers with their blades dipped in gasoline at Daizee . " This girl is tired of lowering her standards , unlike some people . "

The ' hippie chick ' glowered at the black lipstick wearing , green mohawked and Star Wars tee clad female coldly in mid - pounding .

" What's that supposed to mean ? ! "

" You have white stains dribbling down your inner thighs , your chin and rear end . The two guys you manage are double fucking you and ... and you ask me - " Mschif shook her head and began cackling . " Dumb slut bitch . "

" At least men are attracted to me , jealous ugly cunt ! Nobody gives you a damn thing . " Haze hissed .

Mschif clicked her tongue , making the ' tsk ' sound , plodded up to the unorthodox leader and struck him in his blood speckled arm .

" Cab fare . " the mohawked woman held out a hand , fingers curled .

" I already paid for your - " he began but she cut his excuse short .

" Cab fare . " the goth girl repeated .

Jimmy exhaled , a prolonged sigh and relinquished the cash . The additional money was plucked from the waistband of his blue and black , diagonal stripe men's underwear , mortifying Colby .

Allison giggled and kissed his reddened face .

" Gone ?  " Jimmy inquired , saying it in a way that sounded less like a question .

Mschif nodded , stuffing the bucks into her two row pyramid studded faux black leather belt .

" From the group , yeah , but - " she whirled to glower menacingly at Haze . " You haven't seen the last of me . "

The female hippie glared .

" Then lose some weight , bitch . " Daizee taunted boldly .

" Slut . " Mschif spat , a single ' famous last word ' before she departed .

Haze put both hands over her pretty face and bawled until her pastel and floral makeup ran .

" Awhh , Daze , don't cry ! " Sydal blurted , his lower lip trembling . " I've got some extraordinary cannabis that I bought yesterday . We can light that up and relax ... "

" & N ) O ! #%^ " Delirious snarled from underneath his black and green mask . " W*$^_+E HA?}VE A -=*^ROO #$^ M ALRE,;[-=\ADY AN# $&D DAIZ;.{+_)EE STA#$&*YS W; M #[?E ! "

" Shove it , freak ! " Matt warned with a growl . He glanced at the blonde . " We're together , aren't we ? You said that you like me . "

"* Y#&OU {+; LI,\KE* ^ M=%E ? " Delirious asked in text , pleading .

" Stop ! " Daizee wailed . " Both of you guys , okay ? ! "

She dashed into the hallway , kept running . The two lovesick men rushed after her , disappearing .

" Uhmmm , I'm heading back to the hotel too . " Joey said after a pause in the argument . " Thanks for helping me find a room , by the way . "

" No probs , man . " Jimmy replied .

" Hey , can I take some of these leftovers ? Saves me getting a meal later . "

" Take it all , if you want . Help yourself and go at it , man " the blood stained male said amicably . " We have plenty to eat right here . "

He patted his girlfriend's upper legs and Rain was automatically pink cheeked at his suggestive look .

Joey stacked up an armload of clear lidded , plastic trays . He took melon cubes and seedless green grapes on skewers with coconut - pineapple yogurt dip , Italian subs cut into hefty handfuls , chicken empanadas , spicy curried deviled eggs , mini cannolis , bite sized Oreo cookie cupcakes and two slices of already cold supreme pizza .

One after the other , one by one , the group members went their separate ways - returning to their hotel rooms or going out for the last breath of partying before daybreak - and the ' gang ' decreased to the main four .

" Ode to privacy . " Jimmy commented , grinning from ear to ear and slithering across the furniture gracefully .

He caught his partner off guard at first with a breath stealing , forceful kiss .

Colby reacted by allowing the makeout to progress , licking behind his friend's top front teeth .

" Waaaaooooooohh , that's really sexy . " Rain commented , fanning her rose tinted face with one hand .

" And how . " Allison sighed in agreement .

Jimmy settled back next to his girl .

" Batteries ? " he asked , a teasing fox grin crimping the corners of his mouth .

" Don't need ' em . " Rain pushed her lover into a L shaped position , his spine resting against an arm of the couch . tore open his already mangled top and used her manicured nail tips to flick the nipple piercings .

Colby smiled , gleeful voyeur while Allison breathed on his neck and sucked at the few tiny shaving nicks .

He had gone deaf but saw her glossed lips moving . The bees buzzing in his ears couldn't ruin his sight .

Bonnie shed her panties with her boyfriend's assisting hands - one of Jimmy's thumb rings momentarily snagged on a frayed thread .

Rain ascended Mount Xio , straddled and rocked on his face , rump jiggling over his chin .

" Oh ... Hell , yes ! " Colby instantly squealed , his cheeks salmon pink .

" Hmmmm , you like to watch , don't you ? " his girl gently smiled , running her hands tauntingly near the space below his navel and above the button clasp on his jeans .

" Yeah . " he panted while Al reached around -

Bad girl ! She'd found his zipper .

Close enough to the touch but what sounded like miles away by his ringing ears estimate , Xio and Rain screamed with one voice .

Bonnie straightened her rumpled and damp clothing , smiling boastfully in her friend's direction .

Jimmy wiped his wet skin using the length of his shirt .

He smirked , devil - may - care , directly at ' his Tyler ' .

" Now your turn , big man . "

Xio sprung at his lover , unbuckling his shredded ebony moto skinnies and tampering with the zipper before Colby could react .

" Hey ! " the younger man bleated in a panic , his upper legs exposed and cooling without their denim covering .

Unsympathetic , his unique , stubborn friend progressed until the Iowan's jeans and boxer brief underwear both were below the knee .

Colby groaned , half tension and half stimulation .

His dick bared was cozy and stiffening alongside Xio's palm lines .

Rain wasn't any help , recuperating with egg-free tempura cauliflower , a dish of mango sorbet and a wine glass brimming with sparkling water .

" Okay , pretty lady , drop your drawers . " Jimmy commanded , confronting Al and staring her down .

Allison fidgeted , wrung her hands and glanced around , her gaze pleading with her boyfriend unsaid , for help .

The Iowan was aware of her butterflies . Sure , they were seriously mega thirsty for each other but wanted privacy , behind closed doors - not to have their love making on display .

" Quit it , Jimmy ! " Colby admonished his friend . " Al doesn't want to take part in this so we won't and - and you cannot force us to participate ! "

The expression on the older man's face began as the surprise of being slapped unexpectedly , then he composed himself and snickered .

" Oh , you don't want him ? ! " Jimmy asked , mocking and fluttering his lashes . " Your sex loss , baby girl . "

" I ... uhm ... I never said that - " Allison stuttered , wriggling more .

" Get off of her case , man ! " the Iowan growled .

" Because , you have to know that there are hundreds , thousands of women that will gladly take your ... " Xio smiled and blew a pretentious kiss . " Spot . "

Colby gave his partner a mild shove and frowned daggers at him .

" I said we aren't doing this . "

Jimmy's guilt ridden look was insincere and short lived .

" It's what the eighties drug ads told ya , Just Say No . Say no - both of you right now - and I won't stop you . "

The younger man scowled at his cooing , purring bestie . He and Jimmy seldom argued but right then , he detested the guy and his effortless way of manipulating people , the control he had over them .

Colby gave his girl an atoning look and she nodded , stepping out of her panties slowly , giving permission for the intrusion to take place .

" Go ahead . " the Iowan submitted to Xio's devious , carnal , intense and demanding mind games and tactics .

Slim garnet lacerations where her nails had gouged the flesh on his upper back .

" Sorry . " the young woman whispered .

" It's okay . Nothing to - Eeeeaaaaaaahhh ! " Colby blurted once he had thoroughly submerged .

" Aaaaaaaahhhh ! " Allison echoed .

Bleeding imprint where her teeth had punctured skin on his shoulder .

Far below , closer to their knees , other liquids flowed .

" Marvelous ! " Xio congratulated and quickly pinched and smacked his Tyler's and Colby's girlfriend's nude butts alike .

Al rubbed her backside and glared at Jimmy .

Colby pulled her aside and spoke only when were no longer within earshot .

" This is the first and last time , I swear . "

Allison nodded again , her lower lip quivering .

" Accept my apology - say ... we'll go for lunch , a really late lunch around three today ? " Colby pleaded .

" Picnic in the park if the weather allows ? " Al smiled .

" I'll make sandwiches and pack . " the Iowan promised , making the ' cross his heart ' gesture and was suddenly doused by Al's delighted kisses .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Restless , Colby tossed and turned in bed , kicking the sheets afar from his shuddering , sodden figure .

His bestie , faithful , was at his side pronto .

The remains of plasma and gore that had faded to a rust shade was scrubbed from his face but he'd not washed the blood from his tangled hair .

" Hi , dependable . " the twenty year old trembled , somehow was able to smile in the dim lamp light .

" Hello , superstar . You oughta try switching to decaf . "

Colby slapped hands over his ears , acting offended Jimmy while touched the lamp base , brightening the dark bedroom .

" Blasphemy about my religion ! "

" Baby , I'd never screw you over by messing with your prized coffee but that you're this jittery has me worried . "

" Pacing the floor yet ? " the younger man asked as his flamboyant partner crawled under the sheets and lay next to him .

" Wore out my soles , yeah . " his buddy answered , immediately going in to ' give Ty a neck massage ' mode .

" It's that damn blood . " the Iowan confessed , sighing from the indulgence of a terrific back rub .

" Their blood , you mean ? " Xio wondered , constantly kneading his man's taut muscles .

" Yeah and what's stupid is ... I know that they probably have Hep or something but I want the blood . " Colby groaned , mentally berating himself .

" Surprisingly enough , as nasty and - white trash they are . " Jimmy said , lips forming a moue . " They're disease - free . Have to be . In our business , everyone gets tested ahead of time . "

" Yeah , I know but still - the thought of craving their sicko , maybe , maybe not germy fluids in my mouth ... ugh ! You can't imagine how mortified I am . "

" Then play it safe , Tye . Take mine . "

" I am not going to cut you ! It's dangerous and stupid to try - "

" I've done it before , now and then . I can play by the rules if I absolutely have to . "

Xio smiled .

Colby didn't . He was aghast and cranky .

He - had it been possible - came close to leaping out of his skin once Xio pulled the mini pizza cutter wheel from the clutter of his pocketbook .

" Jacqueline Christina , why are you stealing my cooking utensils ? ! " the younger man shouted , disregarding the fact that calling Jimmy by his birth name happened to be one of his many Berzerk Buttons , verboten to be pushed .

" Because - " his bestie answered , looking a level of shy and flustered that Colby had never seen on him before . " I get lonely and these smell like you . "

" Zero sympathy points from me . " Colby gnashed his teeth .

" Huh ? "

" That shit you pulled earlier - forcing me and Al to ... it was wrong and we won't do it again . "

" I know that . " the older man cast his eyes down .

Those three words were the closest thing to an honest apology that Jimmy was going to offer . Colby was aware of this and took whatever scraps of remorse he could get .

" You'd better ! " Colby held his friend in place , restraining him on the bed with a knee driven into his throat .

Arms and legs switched , hands took over for the knee , impairing Jimmy's ability to breathe .

" You . Will . Not . Take . Advantage . Of . Me . Ever . Again ! " the Iowan's voice lowered , darkened , thundered .

He panted , sweat forming while his partner twisted and gasped beneath the chokehold , a worm sliced and impaled on a hook .

" I won't let you hurt me or anyone else - it ends ! It ends . " Colby wailed , his quivering grip loosening when the younger man recoiled . " I'll leave you if ... oh shit , I'm losing control . "

" Then take control . " Jimmy advised thoughtfully , spinning the little silver metal wheel until their reflections blurred .

The younger man didn't answer his partner , kept his back turned and face buried in his folded arms , hair draped to his lower legs as sat hunched over .

" Ty , don't leave me . I ... the reason I agreed to this damn apartment , the career , everything . " Xio blushed after pausing . " It's - what we have now , what we are , is like being a married couple , sharing a home together . "

Colby peeked at the flushed skin his bestie had , brighter pink than the outer material of his purse .

" You can't be in charge all the time . " the Iowan stated .

" Okay . "

Colby lowered his upper eyelids and dug through the drawers on the nightstands , taking out bandages .

" I'll make the decisions , I'll be the leader half of the time . "

" Yes . " Jimmy nodded , smiled feebly and undressed . " Where ? "

" Back , I guess . " his friend smirked and chuckled softly . " It'll be like the name of the song ... well , not quite - "

Xio giggled and braced himself , made his body remain still whether it wanted to or not - no squirming , no sudden movements .

No screaming allowed .

Savor the pain .

And the pleasure .

The Iowan grazed his friend's flesh with the circle of stainless steel , stroking the cuts and lapping at the instantly red incisions .

Colby ran his fingertips through the droplets , smudging them , applying the scanty amount of gore onto his mouth .

He carved an A for anarchy , O for Oh fuck , what am I doing ? ! , T that meant the Two of them and a F , meaning , Fuck , I'm getting horny from this !

Jimmy turned just enough to smile at his boyfriend with total , authentic worship and admiration .

Colby smirked at the adoring glance and wiped the tiny jewels of plasma on Jimmy's mouth , literal horror movie makeup , vein juice lipstick to match his own .

Xio sighed and moaned , sinking his teeth into the pillowcase while Colby sucked the letters dry and then moistened the lacerations with his gushing pre - ejaculation .

Blood .

Brothers .

Chapter Text

 

 

 

           

 

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Here ya go ! " The chef passed the small plates and handed out clear tumblers full of watermelon lemonade . " Chocolate chip brownie brunch - dessert waffles with coconut milk ice cream . The tempeh nori rolls and soba noodles with tofu and broccoli shouldn't take long to cool . "

" Gracias , champion . " Jimmy said , perched beside Rain . The couple had their eyes locked on each other first and a magazine as the runner up .

Colby peeked . " Dogster ? ! "

His best friend tossed messy , dark hair back arrogantly at the question , amused and happy .

" I'm expanding my horizons , Ty . "

The Iowan smiled , sat next to Allison and put an arm around her waist .

" How's your food , doll ? "

" Well - " his girlfriend answered slowly , beaming . " I'm thinking of asking the chef out . Do you suppose he'd be interested ? "

" Hmmmm ... since that same cook has been getting an eyeful of your fiiiiiine bod all night , I'd say yeah , he is . "

" All night ? " Allison giggled .

" All night . " Colby promised and winked , her back snug against his chest and belly .

" Ewwwgh , no PDA tonguing near my meal . " Rain griped , twisting noodles around the fork .

" You heard her , Jay - Jay . " Allison teased , cuddling with her boyfriend . " Rain doesn't enjoy kissing and making out . "

" I don't like it when you do it ! " her bestie objected . " When we do , it's terrific . "

She looked at Jimmy .

" Right , babe ? "

" Yep . Fabulous . " he agreed . Bonnie played with the small silver metal jingle - bell attached to his purple velvet cat collar style choker , flicking at it with her peachy hued nails .

" Our last night working here , can you believe it ? "

" Despite the fact that not under any condition will I dig wearing a dress , I'll miss our co - workers . "

" Yeah , all of them . Including Magnus , who scared me in the beginning . " the Iowan divulged , self-conscious .

" No love for the boss ? "

The two couples jolted , startled and turned to face Becky .

" First Aldis , then Bayless . I've been twice terrified . " Colby joked .

Becky hopped onto a barstool and spun around .

" What about you , ' Lady ' ? Do I frighten you ? "

" I don't scare easily . " Jimmy would've returned the smile had his girlfriend not been there , scowling .

" Pity . I'll never get to hear you scream . " Bayless said and Rain glared at the black haired woman .

" No . " she answered before her boyfriend had a chance to speak , deliberately putting her hands between Jimmy's thighs . " You won't . "

" Mmmmm hmmm . " Becky nodded and threw one of two wadded balls of cloth at Colby . " Catch ! "

Colby did and unrolled the material , shaking it .

" A tee ? " he examined the shirt - white cotton blend with a ink black pocket that had an skull and crossbones patch embroidered on .

" Yeah , a farewell present that I give to all my exiting employees . "

Rain was stone faced in response to her chipper expression , spine straight and brows falling , a frown arriving when the second tee landed on Jimmy's shoulder .

He repeated his bestie's actions , unfolding and smoothing the shirt , violet cloth stitched with a red fox patch on the bubblegum pink pocket .

" Oh ... th - thanks . " he stammered . Rain elbowed him in the side .

" Yeah , thanks ! It's cool . " Colby chimed in .

" NBD . " Becky replied and sauntered away .

Rain spun on her lover  , swatting him .

" And what was all about ? ! Her flirting with my boyfriend ? ! "

" Calm down , Bon - Bon . " Jimmy yelped and ducked but not in time . " Hey , foul ! I call foul ! She hit me with sushi . "

" Relax , Bonnie . " Colby rescued his friend from being pulverized . " Your green eyes are showing . "

" I don't care if she's the big cheese . She best keep her hands ... and every other body part ... to herself . "

" Awwwh , sweetheart ! For you , I'm one hundred percent dairy product free and lactose intolerant , to boot . "

" I hope so - " Bonnie mumbled through a prolonged kiss . She beamed , her pearl white lipstick smudged . " Or you'll get the boot . "

" Bracelet ! " Jimmy exclaimed .

" Care to translate ? " Allison looked to Colby for help .

" Not this time . " he glanced at the two other baffled faces besides his own . " That one went over my head . "

" And mine . " Rain said .

" I want you to have ... gimme a sec , honey , it's in the bottom of my purse , of frikkin ' course . " Jimmy rummaged in his handbag , the overhead lights shining and causing his multiple earrings to sparkle .

" Oh , that's lovely ! " Bonnie chirped , eyeing the clear rhinestone studded black velvet bondage bracelet her boyfriend held .

He fastened the Goth S & M jewelry around wrist , right under her watch .

" For you , madam . "

" You are glorious ! " Rain praised , embracing him until they leaned significantly to one side .

" You're my girl , no one else . " Jimmy said . " That's a promise . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

He painted his upper and lower lids with pitch black eye shadow .

" You're the star , you're the face . You got the look that can erase . "

Followed by matching dark mascara and kohl liner pencil .

" You look the world right in the eye . Stare 'em down, baby, make 'em cry . "

Jimmy streaked wide lines of Manic Panic classic Mystic Heather and Hot Hot Pink through his bangs .

" Well , I know it don't make much sense . I'm in love with your innocence . "

Xio drummed his black nails on the dresser top while the polish dried and chose an eggshell white felt fedora with a blue ribbon band from his collection .

" You shake me up when you walk by , heart is beating and my mouth is dry . What you got? What I need . I'll follow where you lead . "

Colby bobbed his head along to the beat of his friend's singing , ever-present cup of dark roast in hand , finishing off his second Dunkin Doughnuts egg and cheese wrap .

He plastered stamps on the envelope , slipped the thick letter inside and lick - sealed the paper flap shut .

The Iowan looked at Jimmy's PB& J protein box from Starbucks , shook his head and held up what remained from the box of assorted Munchkins .

" Glazed and chocolate surpass that . " he smirked at the apple slices , baby carrots and yogurt based dip .

" What's wrong with it ? "

" For breakfast ? ! "

" Mine's healthier . " the Michigan native stated . " And this damn apartment just had to be No Smoking ! "

" Which has to do with what you're eating because ... ? " the younger man inquired , his face blank .

Xio sighed and took a break from primping .

" I gain weight without my cigs . "

" You look okay . "

" Only okay ? ! " the older man wailed .

Colby shook his head again , this time to remove his bestie's squeal ringing in his ears .

" Relax ! You're not out of shape or flabby . We're healthy , both of us . Calm down . "

" How's the fam ? And the mutts ? " Jimmy asked , curiosity changing the subject in an instant .

" Same as usual , doing okay . This letter , by the way , is for my mother . "

" She's allowed to write in prison ? '

A short - lived glower crossed Colby's face .

" She isn't in jail anymore . I told you that back last ... she's living in a rehab community . "

" At home ? "

" Close to . " Colby dunked a glazed blueberry Munchkin into his coffee . " Few miles away in Pleasant Hill . "

Jimmy scrunched up his nose , beamed and snatched a jelly filled donut hole .

" Sounds like something from the fifties , Ty - Ty . "

" It's ' small town ' city life . They go to the library , eat at McD's , spend time at parks . Drive to Des Moines if they're feeling wild . " Colby joked .

Jimmy chuckled , yawned and glared at the alarm clock .

" Whyyyyyy are we creatures of the night awake and moving out of bed this early , Tye ? " he complained .

" Because - because ... " the Iowan groaned , also yawning . " Dragon Bryan talked Gabe into letting the newbs have an outdoor exhibition today to show off their in ring skills . The pros sign autographs and do a photo shoot and the tryout guys and up and comers participate in matches . Plus , the tix are half price so you know that there will be a crowd . "

Jimmy honestly smiled at his lover and the leather strap with a shiny front name plate proclaiming him as one half of the tag team champions .

" Gold . " Xio informed his partner with wicked pride , pursing his lips and giving a genuine come - hither look . " Is so our color , Tyler . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Jimmy draped his upper body in a towing safety chain , the heavy duty black alloy links and bright red hooks at the ends dangled around his knees .

His bestie and male lover clapped and cheered nearby while the older man hammed it up , a thick link gripped in his teeth and then playfully licking one curved hook .

" Chewing the scenery next ? " Colby laughed . He kept an arm around the waist of Al leaning against him , smiling and Rain grinned , watching her kooky lover's antics .

" Yeah ! You're the scenery , right ? " he called out , nodding at Bonnie who blushed and waved .

The photo shoot went on and on , it seemed , as the four got in their best group shots and finisher poses .

Colby felt light as air and in the clouds while the photographer adjusted his tripod . He was somewhat popular and a household name , the pay wasn't ' livin ' large ' standards but kept the bills paid and his fan base increased monthly . His friends were there with him , including his super smokin ' hot girlfriend and he was getting to sit on a freakin ' Harley Davidson to have his picture taken !

" Well , that's all for now . " the paparazzo gave a thumbs up sign and chuckled . " Who's next for - ? "

" Outta the way , queer lover . " Mark shoved the Iowan to the floor and stepped over him , sneering , proving the Briscoes had arrived .

" Real men coming through . " Jay added , smirking .

Instinctively , Colby looked at his friend who was sending the evil eye stare towards the brawlers .

He chewed his lower lip anxiously and frantic , shakily made it to his feet and motioned to Rain .

" Okay , handsome , let's get out of here and breathe clean air instead of their filthy stink . " she told her boyfriend sotto voce , rubbing his shoulders tenderly and kissing his disarrayed , onyx black locks .

" Yeah , we have a crowd - dozens of our fans - just waiting for us . " Colby said and smiled at Allison , who was perceptive enough to be as nervous as he was .

He wondered how Xio would make their enemies bleed this time .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Colby shook his head , amused and in disbelief .

" You're actually wearing a scarf in this heat ? " he asked , gazing at the repurposed combo of a Caribbean Blue half sarong the cats had mauled and some neon pink fishnet tights .

Xio flipped the woven fringe ends into his partner's stunned face and laughed .

" It's sheer material and keeps my neck from getting burned . " he explained , then turned his attention back to a little boy who was dressed to resemble him . " Wicked outfit , man ! You look cool ! "

" I'm s'posed to be you . " the kid , maybe seven or eight years old , grinned at his weird hero . " And you're the cool one , Mister . "

Jimmy beamed and signed the glossy full color in ring photo , the black and white backstage pic and as a bonus , the child's wrists on both arms .

He always truly appreciated being called Mister .

Colby smiled at a short distance , impressed by and admiring how frikkin ' sweet his bestie was with everybody .

The Iowan sighed after his ' partner in crime ' had waved the boy wearing a homemade , red and black faux leather coat and extremely uncombed , dark dyed hair , back to his parents .

The guy was a saint to everyone - with the exception of those who provoked him .

" Anyone who messes with me . " Colby mumbled that fact under his breath and resumed signing tees and pictures for the assembly of men and women calling and chanting his name .

He bit his tongue in shock , flinching and teeth rattling when the squeal of brakes and yelling from afar popped his ears .

Some fans shouted and ran , others gasped and pointed , phones in hand and recording .

At the first traffic lights , Mark had wrecked , falling off his motorcycle which had skidded onto a sidewalk .

Colby gawked and cruelly felt relieved since the Briscoe appeared to be the only person harmed .

Jay was at his sibling's side , cursing while looking at the clearly broken wrist and gushing blood .

Colby could tell without having to glance at that his friend was smiling .

Smirking .

He gazed petrified at the motorcycle instead , its front tire blown out .

" Would - " the Iowan softened his voice and whispered to Xio . " You kill somebody if they hurt me ? ! "

Jimmy beamed and smooched his shuddering partner's hands .

" No but I'd make damn sure that they would wish they were dead . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" And your receipt . "

" Thank you . " he told the lady at the register while she tucked the paper slip into his shopping bag .

Colby noticed the chick was batting her eyelashes and felt flattered but not smitten as he left the Mutter gift shop , stuffed bag in each hand .

He'd started his shopping spree excursion off right at Shake Shack with a stacked burger , Chicago style dog and Creamsicle float while watching the customers and a few canines sit and eat .

The next stop - Target ! - to buy some treats and toys for own mutts back home .

After that , he lingered in Trader Joe's , purchasing food items that wouldn't perish during shipment to his parents , along with a gift card for Rain .

To end the day as the sun lowered in the already cloudy sky , he'd bought himself a ball cap with three embroidered white skulls on the black cloth , a skull print scarf for Jimmy , a plush Heart of Gold for Al and assorted items for others back home and in Philly .

His feet ached and they would have been worse , had he not ridden the trolley and in an occasional taxi that day .

Colby whoof ! - ed a huge breath once he had exited the massive building .

And ran straight into a taller male , accidentally knocking the bags from his ' meathook ' fists .

He took one glance and his mouth was agape .

It was the Bear guy from New York , the redhead musician's bodyguard .

Except now , he had changed .

Hoo boy , had he changed !

The Iowan gawked at the difference in the glowering man's appearance .

He was no longer wearing attire perfect for Ozzy and Alice onstage . No more expressing his style and individuality with horror movie - biker clothing .

The larger man had on steam ironed dark grey slacks , a white button down shirt and a slate blue and beige plaid vest .

And the biggest shocker was his ultra long and thinning , somewhat stringy mane had been removed , a true chrome dome underneath .

" Holy crap ! " Colby hiccuped . " Woah , you look like a penis stuck in a couch ! "

" What was that you said ? ! " Baron growled , lifting the smaller male off of the sidewalk by the front of his CBGB and OMFUG tee .

" Words . Sentences . " Colby quipped the way that Jon might have , unafraid and running off at the mouth . " Paragraphs . Various punctuation . "

Corbin scowled and raised an enormous , clenched fist .

" Calm your ass , dude . We're in public . " the Iowan tried to shake off what little fear that had bloomed .

" Is that so ? " the taller male hissed . " Then public , is about to have a front row seat to watch me end you right here and now . "

Colby heard two low pitched sounds - a wolf howl accompanying the rumble from a motorcycle engine being revved and he was freed and discarded .

The larger man crimsoned at the ringtone before answering the call .

" B - Boss ? " he stammered while Colby inched from his grasp . " What is ... do you need anything ? "

Colby snickered once he caught sight of the stars in the former football player's eyes - or maybe they were hearts .

" A sushi boat challenge ? ! Two hundred pieces ? ! And you want me there with you to watch ? Okay , Boss , I'll be there in no time . "

Colby ducked down , stealthily crept into the oncoming crowd and jogged out of sight .

/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Yo , Jimmles ! Get a move on ! You can primp in the apartment and besides , the girls won't be happy if we're late takin ' them to the movies tonight . "

" Can't I meet you there ? " Jimmy pleaded , his makeup and ring attire and shoes tumbling from his zebra stripe backpack .

" You'd be stranded if I drive the rental . " his bestie pointed out .

" I'll grab a ride with ... oh , I don't know - one of the refs or the ring crew . Please just go ahead without me . I swear that I won't miss this double date . "

" Swear ? " Colby repeated , teasing . " Dirty , filthy mouth , man . "

" And it's all yours . " Xio relished the lingering , more than friendly kiss . " Okay , well , maybe almost half belongs to my Bon - Bon . "

" Craaaaaaaaazy ! " his partner grinned , chuckling . " Catch you in awhile then , buddy boy . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

He booted aside the black and sunny yellow Caution Wet Floor sign the instant he had dashed into the womens restroom .

Jimmy swung his arms , slipped , slid , lost his footing and crashed - groin down - on the damp floor .

" Shit ! " he screeched , easing his way back into an upright position by holding on to a sink .

The entire front of his jeans were soaked and the lower half of his No H8 tee , water dripping to the braided faux leather sandals he wore .

He let many expletives fly , stumbling to the hand dryer built into the wall space over the garbage cans .

He smacked the metal button and sighed once the hot air gushed out , roaring .

Jimmy peeled off his shirt and ran it under the blast of wonderful heat , then , sensing no one was watching , thrust his crotch near the gust of warmth .

" Youch ! " he winced when his zipper absorbed much of the increased temperature , burning him .

He looked around - there had to be something to use for a ' back up plan . '

Jimmy snatched some paper towels from the dispensing machine and , after a glance to make double sure , shoved the crinkly brown paper wad down into his jeans .

He touched the cotton blend and smiled . So far , his shirt at least , had dried .

A woman giggled as he dressed .

" So , you are happy to see me ? "

Jimmy blinked and wobbled .

She was facing him , grinning and pointing at the peculiar bulge formed in his pants .

The dryer had stopped running minutes before . He continued feeling the torridness despite that .

" Yes . " he eventually stammered . " I am . "

" Bad day , huh ? "

Long , flowing , gorgeous golden brown hair tickled on his neck .

" Iiiiiit has its moments . " Jimmy squeaked .

Her lips and tongue tip made contact with his helix and lobule , the assortment of silver hoops and multi chain ear cuff .

The clump of paper towels had turned out to be an awfully good idea .

He was now wet from something more than H20 .

Something tiny and sharp prodded him .

He stared , instantly rendered speechless .

A mini Tyler wearing red latex pants and a crop top , a heart drawn in lipstick circling his navel , sat on Jimmy's shoulder , glaring .

" What are you thinking , man ? ! " the mega sexy Devil chided , shaking the crimson pitchfork angrily . " Forgetting about your woman , Rain , already ? ! "

" Damn , you are a lottie of hottie even when small , Ty - Ty . " Xio ogled his shrunken bestie .

" Quit flirting ! I'm a fantasy . " Devil Colby scolded his odd friend and then vanished .

" And how . " Jimmy sighed dreamily .

" Hmmm ? What was that ? " Lacey asked , at his side .

" Uhmmm ... nothing . "

Wheels turned in Xio's mind . They spun . They rolled .

He thought and thought and couldn't choose between his girls .

Yes , Bonnie was Rain but Lacey was the umbrella , the clear weather , clouds parting .

She was his Goddess of the Sun , showing him the Way ...

" You're sure that you aren't having a bad day ? "

Jimmy smirked and held her to him , merging their heartbeats .

" Not anymore . Not with you . "

Lacey purred into his pulse , sinking into his bones .

" I'll be your fix . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Okay , smile ! "

Colby mugged for the camera on his girl's phone as he stood with film posters of See No Evil and The Marine flanking him .

Those felt like an omen for his ambition , that one day he would be at The Top the same as they were now .

He'd be like them and his half brother - make it , become successful .

Except he would surpass them .

" Cool but my man's late . " Bonnie said , pacing and continuously eyeballing her watch . " Three's great , however four is the best of all . "

" He sent me a text . From what I can decipher from his message is that he botched some Arctic Fox Wrath . " Colby read the phone screen , smiling .

Al giggled and Rain looked placated .

" So , anyway - " he went with the girls to the concession stand . " He'll meet us by the time the previews are shown , just has to clean up first . "

" Good . " Rain ordered no - salt , cooked in canola oil , vegan popcorn at the counter . Colby and Allison took their places in line , discussing what to purchase .

Bonnie shuffled down the aisle , balancing the kids serving sized tub of popcorn , a pack of four mini Oreos , a little box of Cracker Jacks and a small soft pretzel with yellow mustard .

Al inched behind her , carrying bottled water and a medium size bucket of extra butter popcorn .

The Iowan crept after both women , arms loaded with a thin crust pepperoni pizza for two , plain M&Ms , more bottles of water and some Nutella stuffed cinnamon sugar churros .

The trio looked at the smorgasbord of junk food , then each other and cracked up laughing .

" Hey , look ... there he is ! "

" You're certain ? "

" Yeah ! " Colby said , waving and motioning in the dark so that Jimmy would see him , getting on the nerves of several theater goers .

Rain squinted , peered and grinned . Of course it was her guy . Who else would wear DollsKill Wild in Command combat boots to the movies ?

" Uhm , what is he doing ? " Allison asked , peeking over the back of her seat , a few kernels of buttery popcorn falling on the sticky floor .

Colby glared .

Allison gasped .

Bonnie mumbled a few words not suitable for children to hear .

Her boyfriend had arrived and brought Lacey with him .

They sat on the opposite side , at the back while Rain , Al and Colby were seated in the middle rows , closer to up front .

Allison groaned and rolled her eyes after the first giggles were heard .

Colby grimaced as though he'd chomped on a lemon .

Rain sat like a statue , blank faced and nothing in her eyes either , her heart drained from the sight of her boyfriend getting way too cozy with another woman .

" I'm sorry . " Colby whispered , reaching over to pat her hand . Al nodded beside him , looking totally glum . " I had no idea he'd pull this shit . "

" It's not either of you . " Rain hissed back while the trailers rolled . " The ones who need to apologize and explain things to me , are them . "

She sunk her teeth into the pretzel like she wanted to bite someone's head off .

In baseball , it was three strikes and a person was out of the game .

In Bonnie and Jimmy's relationship , plus his and Colby's friendship , after three straight weeks of dating Lacey , his bestie and Rain also had their patience thread snapped thin .

Allison wrung her petite , smooth hands , glancing now and then at the raised volume commotion upstairs .

Each round of shouting from above caused the ceiling light fixture to sway and swing .

Colby frowned , eyes shut , wanting to block out the yelling , crying , the shrieks and cursing , the entire damn argument altogether .

Jimmy charged into the apartment and his friends gawked . A hand print on his cheek was unmistakable , vibrant and pink as a fresh sunburn .

Al sprinted upstairs to console her friend . Colby stayed behind to rake his over the coals .

" So , that's it ? " Colby asked without sympathy for Jimmy . " You're throwing everything away ? "

" No . Rain isn't a dud , she's just not for me . " Jimmy declared , pushing his hexagon frame , yellow - gold lens shades higher up on his nose . " What I'm doing ... I know what I'm doing . "

" I don't think that you do . " his partner sighed . " I really don't . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Colby hurried downstairs , all but colliding with Al .

" You're seriously moving ? " he glanced behind her , into the womens apartment and saw the broad waisted , muscular older men carrying furniture and tall cardboard boxes .

His heart sank as he trotted along beside his woman .

" Yeah . Bonnie ... she can't do this any longer , week after week , past a month of putting up with him . We're going to the West Coast . Gonna try our luck in Portland or Seattle . Rain's from California so maybe we'll be okay on our own . "

" You're both welcome wherever I am . " Colby said .

Allison arched her brows and smirked . She tossed her tri - color hair back and stared him down .

Her boyfriend's face blazed cherry red .

" Not - nothing sexual , I mean ... yeah , with you , of course . But Rain's my friend and I - "

A kiss made one helluva of a mute button .

" I know what you meant , babe . This isn't your fault , it's his . " Allison scowled while they strolled the hallway . " His and hers . "

" I swear , if he won't try to escape her brain washing clutches , I'm leaving next . " Colby grumbled . " Sure , he may have gotten me here by introducing me to pro wrestling but I can make it without him . "

Allison smiled and nodded .

" That's true . He was a friend but now he's like a parasite . No , not just him . That damn bitch Lacey too . "

" Yeah . " Colby sighed weakly .

" Hey , I'll call you , okay ? And you visit every chance that you get . " the young woman beamed and kissed her upcoming ex again , this time not to shut him up .

" Sweetheart , I miss you already and you haven't left yet . " they embraced and Colby ran his fingers through her multicolored hair . " You and Rain . "

" You're special and important - "

" So are you ! " the young man interrupted .

Allison shook her head for him to be quiet once more and kept talking .

" You're somebody , more than he knows or understands . Don't let them hurt you . "

" I won't . " Colby promised and since he couldn't predict the future , the Iowan had no clue that he'd lied to his girlfriend then .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Colby wandered around backstage , occasionally burping and rubbing his stuffed belly .

A few of the higher - ups had sprung for catering , delivered from a local BBQ joint and he had gorged on coleslaw , pulled pork , cornbread , peach cobbler and sweet potato pie .

" Gimme a bite ! " he heard the whine drift from a doorway and paused , grimacing . He knew that voice and loathed it .

" Okay but just one more . I'm running out of yellow potassium fruit , thanks to your ... appetite . "

Colby scowled and quietly groaned .

Austin and Lacey ? !

Together ? !

He began to smile , eavesdropping on the pair . This was very good for him - if they were a couple , Jimmy would have no choice but to dump the conniving bitch .

And then he'd have his friend back .

Colby inched closer to the open room , shuffling along and peeked .

Lacey was resting her head in Aries lap , both of them smirking , a banana peel on the floor .

" That pitiful excuse for catering sucked . " Austin griped while the young woman stroked his face and forehead , kissing him . " They expect me to eat animals ? ! "

Lacey grinned and nuzzled him .

" I'm always here to sink your teeth into , babe . "

Austin drew her closer , to sit at his groin , his hands beneath her extra tiny skirt while they kissed endlessly .

Colby narrowed his eyes and growled under his breath .

That no - good , bed hopping , back stabbing slut !

He ran back to locate his partner and break the news .

Jimmy was slumped on a bench , rubbing his mouth as tears streamed in wet lines down his cheeks .

" Whoa , big man , what happened ? " Colby sat beside his friend immediately .

" Cinnamon mouthwash burns . " the older man whimpered . " Especially when the person swishing it has a few cuts inside their mouth . "

" Here , Hardcore . " Colby pulled a bottled water from his favorite gym duffel . " Drink , rinse and spit . "

" I prefer to swallow . " Jimmy stated wryly through aching lips .

" Oh , go on already ! There's something important taking place backstage and if you'll hurry , we'll make it back so you can get a glimpse . "

" ' Kay , Speedy . Don't rush me . "

The Iowan paced while his partner cleaned the artificial flavors and bright red color from his tongue before grabbing his friend by the hand , dragging him into the hallway .

" Hey ! Jeeeez ! Slow down ! "

" Here ! " the younger man braked and gasped , pointing . " Look in there . "

Jimmy peeped into the niche , then entered it .

" Aries ! "

Colby held his breath .

When his bestie emerged from the small space , he was shaking his head in disgust and holding a banana peel .

" That guy ... honestly , just once would it hurt his lazy ass to clean up ? "

Colby's jaw dropped and he dashed into the area .

It was devoid of the previously Frenching het duo .

" They were in there ! All over each other - " the younger man sputtered .

" Who was ? "

" Lacey with Austin Aries . And I mean , with . "

Jimmy glowered .

" I don't like you lying to me . "

" They were going at it . I saw them ! "

" Look , Ty , Lacey is my girlfriend . " the older man said , rolling his eyes . " I don't know for sure if you're spewing nonsense lately out of jealousy ... "

" I'm not jealous ! I'm telling the truth ! " Colby hollered .

" Simmer down and stop bullshitting me . Until you do that , I refuse to waste my time on you . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

His keys jingled when he barrelled to the apartment entrance . The mail had arrived earlier but he didn't have time to open the care package from his parents . Now he was eager to use the microwave safe coffee mug they had told him about and drink their homemade cocoa mix while curled up in the gift blanket .

The young man zipped into the tiny kitchen , slammed to a halt and scowled after a quick gasp .

The parcel had been torn open and emptied , dumped in the trash along with his discarded , shattered mug .

Colby frowned and picked at broken chunks and pieces , the cracked handle .

The packets of DIY hot chocolate blend were consumed . His blanket was missing .

He cursed , tightened his jaw and stomped into the living room , confronting the snuggling lovers with a ferocious glare .

Jimmy , in the brown haired woman's embrace , didn't acknowledge his friend's rage at first .

" We're about to watch Batman Begins one more time , if you want to join us . "

Colby lunged at Lacey , yanking her off of the couch .

He shook the woman by the front of her skimpy top , back and forth  .

" What did you do ? ! What have you done , you goddamn floozy ? ! " he yelled as the young brunette shrieked .

He tripped over the coffee table and crash landed onto the floor , scowling at his older friend who had shoved him .

" Don't put your hands on her again or you'll regret it . "

" I already regret it . " Colby retorted getting back to his feet while stood in front of his partner , barricading the young woman . " You will too , one day . "

" Get out of my apartment ! " Jimmy shouted .

" I'm paying half the bills and rent , little man . I'm not going anywhere right now . "

Jimmy gave the impression of regaining his composure . The shadows in his eyes were softer clouds and his glower fell apart .

" If you're pissed about the mail ... I apologize . I opened it without asking , like a jerk and yeah , we drank your cocoa beverage . We kept warm using your blanket . We ate the pretzels and mustard , chicken jerky and blueberry muffins - "

" Those were miiiiiiine ! " the Iowan kvetched , hands on his hips and tapping his left foot on the rug .

But I'll repay you straight out of my check . And we'll never mess with the stuff your parents send anymore either . "

Colby smiled at his bestie and ignored the leech bitch .

He did see , however , that she appeared tense , not prepared to be kicked to the curb .

Jimmy was at last wising up .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

The carnage was widespread , worse than PETA slinging red paint on people in fur coats because his friend was being destroyed .

Colby winced at the scene - god damn crime scene , he thought - and tried getting the ref's attention .

Jimmy lay inert on the mat after collapsing , enclosed by the six folding chairs that Aries had used on him , slamming into his arms , legs and chest .

His battered head lodged between the seat and back of one was the last straw for Colby . He waved the white towel , ready to throw it -

Someone grabbed his wrist and maliciously lacerated his flesh with pink polished talons .

" What the Hell , Lacey ! " Colby screamed . She seized the cloth and they dueled , struggling during the tug of war .

" I'm going to tell him about this - you think he's a wimp that can't hold his own in a fight . " the young woman hissed .

" You've already told him too much , lies and bullshit . And don't get me started about you holding his ... "

Lacey sneered and laughed , mocking .

" At least , you finally came to your senses about him . Neither of you are worth shit . "

" You are shit , whore . " Colby snarled , yanking forcefully . " Gimme the towel before your stupid asshole boyfriend Austin slaughters my best friend ! "

" Come and take it , minnow dick . "

He pushed her to the floor - hoping that his parents would understand if they found out - and drew his arm overhead and back ...

" Yaauurghhh ! "

His knees buckled and he face planted , weeping and groaning . The hateful cunt had kicked him , squashing his nuts and stealing the towel .

Jimmy flopped on the mat much like a fish taken from water . He was panting and his eyes were popping , blank and fixed on the het pair snogging above his aching , conquered body .

The Iowan sprinted to his friend , crying out , slipping and sliding in the pools of blood .

He draped his entire torso over his friend's soaked crimson frame , sheltering him .

" Stay with me ... look at me ! I'm not letting you go ... "

Lacey and Aries laughed overhead , burning his hearing with their cruelty . Referees and members of the medical crew scurried back and forth , shouting .

Colby's fingers drifted across ancient tape , sanguine fluid and strands of hair , a slice of metal -

He stuttered and shrieked , fell backwards and quaked at what he saw , yowling .

His buddy's skull had been pierced with his very own spike .

" Dammitdammitdammit , shit , nonono ! " Colby whimpered , the back of his trunks slimed garnet from the blood he'd landed in .

His partner grunted something , a whisper .

" Jimmy ? ! Jimmy ! "

The older man's mouth opened , shut , lips parted once more and he barely exhaled .

A shudder and additional hemorrhaging .

Tears overflowed , cascading down Colby's face .

One of Jimmy's eyes had rolled back and the other was rapidly blinking , terrifying and nonstop , uncontrollable .

" Huuuuuuuuusssssss . "

Colby watched his boss pace , wringing his hands .

" Thank you for flying out of state to be here . He'd appreciate it too , if - "

The young man paused and sniffled , wiping his eyes . It was difficult to speak with a sore throat and salt water dribbles leaking into his mouth .

Only the doctors , nurses and a few heavily supervised other employees were allowed access into the padded room . Friends , family and everyone else were restricted to the hallway , looking in on the man in a strait jacket and disposable restraint protection mask .

Jimmy had become a biter .

More so .

" Well . " Gabe looked at his watch . " There's work to be done yet and it's nearly time to go . "

Colby nodded , standing . " I'll say goodbye and we can leave . It won't take long . "

The older man smiled , benevolent . " I won't rush you . "

Colby stood on his tiptoes and rapped on the shatterproof safety glass window , one small square welded into the confinement's door .

" Jimmy ? " he inquired tenderly , peering . " We're going , me and Gabe . I'll come by tomorrow , same time , okay ? "

Jimmy lunged at the window , charging at his friend and screaming .

An alarm buzzed somewhere , chirring and blaring .

Four security guards came running , barking orders loudly .

Colby closed his eyes then and there .

The sight of his friend being pinioned , foaming at the mouth , thrashing and screeching , was unbearable .

A single crack ran down the center of the glass , serrated and gossamer .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Colby lingered until the older man swallowed his meds - an anti - psychotic pill and some teeny tiny , fruit flavored childrens aspirin - with a gulp of water .

He had brought coloring books this time . Gabe had advised him to go cold turkey on any reminders of pro wrestling since they seemed to dampen Jimmy's spirits .

The main nurse in charge led them to a table and helped her swaying patient sit in one of the chairs .

Colby was a column , a pillar supporting much of his buddy's weight .

" I'll be over there , not far , if you need me . " the older woman said , indicated precisely where and left them .

" These are for you . " Colby told his friend , handing him a coloring book and pack of crayons .

" Huss ? " Jimmy asked , staring .

Colby choked on a sob . He coughed and gagged and fought it from his throat .

The feeling that was more painful than getting his balls busted - knowing someone he loved was on diuretics and other meds , housed in the psych ward's inpatient care and he couldn't do a thing about it .

Colby smiled with sadness in his eyes while Jimmy scribbled on a page , bright blue crayon in hand .

" The ocean ? " he nodded at his partner's artwork . " You miss the beach , don't you ? "

" Huss ! " Jimmy answered , reaching for the yellow crayon .

" I'll take you after you get out of here . You'll recover in no time and be back , strong and healthy . "

The Iowan's hands shook and his mouth quivered . He succumbed to the anguish .

" I failed you ! I - I'm sorry , man ... "

" Huss ? " Jimmy said , head tilted .

" Oh , man , no . " Colby moaned , agony giving him heartburn , uncontrollable tears drying sticky on his cheeks .

A Kleenex was in his grasp . He glanced up to thank the nurse .

One of his closest friends he'd ever had smiled at him .

" Tyler ? ! "

Colby whooped and grinned , squashing his friend in the bear hug .

" Jim - eeeeeeeee ! "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" I'm here for James Christopher Jacobs. " he said to the receptionist . " His doctor called after lunch to tell me he's been released today . "

Tom and Judy were no fools - they had duplicate birth certificates and IDs made for their offspring , each with a different name on them .

" One minute please . "

" Yes . Thank you . " the Iowan bounced liked a kangaroo , eager , happy and hyper in his pitch black low top sneakers .

" Ah , he's sitting out at the fire pit with his girlfriend , hon . "

" Thank you ! I'll go and ... thank you ! " Colby beamed , waved and took off through the revolving doors .

Wait , girlfriend ? !

Ohhhhhhhh , so Rain had dropped by . It was wishful thinking on his part , daydreaming with fingers crossed but Colby was pleased by the idea that perhaps she had returned and the splitsville couple had made up  . He smirked and hoped that he wouldn't interrupt the lovey-dovey pair .

The brunette's sneakers skidded on the patio and he glowered .

This woman was not Bonnie .

And ...

And -

Worse .

The Iowan knew if his jaw fell any lower , passing cars could park inside his mouth .

His partner was clad in Ralph Lauren - Italian tan leather penny loafers , khaki seersucker golf pants and an Alpine brown heather polo shirt .

Colby felt like vomiting . There weren't any studded dog collars , emo chain necklaces or ragged infinity scarves in sight and his friend's face was clear and shiny - no waterproof eye makeup , no Gothy nail polish ...

Jimmy's hair had been combed and brushed , wet down and slicked back by gel product .

" What have you done to him ? ! " Colby yelled . If he had been a female , he would have punched her in the face .

" Improved him , stupid . " Lacey purred , sinister . " Corrected his faults . He should thank me , along with you for the work I've put into this experiment . "

" Experiment ? ! " Colby roared , fuming . " He is a human being , not your play toy ! "

" Oh , we'll see whose he is . " Lacey declared , exposing her teeth . " We'll see sooner than you think . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Colby cursed , exiting the apartment building's elevator .

He hadn't seen or heard from his friend in thirteen hours . Neither had the police that the Iowan had called after ten hours , many of his fellow wrestlers after the seventh .

The front door swung at him , bumping his nose and he shouted , jumping backwards .

Lacey dashed from the apartment , bulldozing in the foyer .

" This is all your fault ! " she hollered , tears dribbling .

Colby brightened , enraged curiosity scrapped once he saw his buddy and the man's improvements .

Jimmy was himself again , oh - so - very Xio , clad in zebra print pants , a metallic rainbow choker and a black tank style top with a zipper right above the breasts and fishnet arm warmers hooked on with buckled straps .

His magenta and amethyst streaked hair looked like it hadn't been combed or brushed in a week and the multiple silver earrings he wore were in the shape of nails , safety pins and razor blades .

" Excellent , man ! " Colby high fived his push the envelope ally . " Progress . "

" Yeah ! " Jimmy said joyously , twirling to show off . " She's pissed but that's okay . No one , her included , can change me . "

" Estoy feliz por ti . "

Xio awoke , smiling flirtatiously .

" Allow me to demonstrate how much I love you ... and your foreign tongue . "

In a frenzy , they kissed , tumbling to the sofa .

Colby sucked on his index and middle fingers , inserted , then stroked .

Jimmy moaned before wincing .

His boyfriend withdrew .

" Sore ? "

" Yes . " Xio wheezed , grimacing . " It's not you , my devil inside . "

" Cramping ? " Colby surmised .

" Yeah . I'm taking my usual break from the T . I'd rather have PMS than acne . "

" Should I get you something ? Aspirin ? I could go in the kitchen , whip up a bowl of soup or ... something warm . "

" No , I'm fine . It's only temporary aching . " Jimmy stroked Colby's shaven face and kissed it . " It doesn't linger , you know . Besides , I want you , so don't stop now . "

" Sorry but I'm not going to do something that causes you pain . If I could have a period , I wouldn't want anyone poking and prodding me . "

" I'll tell everybody the truth as long as I can speak - Tyler , you are the Best . " Xio beamed . His upper eyelids lowered and he looked gratified , ecstatic and willing . " And I owe you . "

" You don't have to repay me any ... aaaahhh , fuck ! "

The older man got on his knees , mouthing the front of his partner's jeans , nibbled and nipped at his exposed ankles .

He clutched Colby's denim clad rear end and squeezed , used his teeth to unzip the fly .

" Damn , Jimmy ! " the younger man gasped . " Xio ? I don't know what to call you . "

" Yours . " his friend suggested , mouthing at the underwear bulge again .

Colby wrenched his friend's unkempt hair , yanking the pink dyed strands at the natural black roots and thrust his hips , shuddering .

Xio suckled on the skin where the ischiocavernosus muscle was located , ran his tongue over the scrotum and lapped at the swollen head .

His teeth scraped the tiny area in the space that separated the testicles sac and penis .

He pulled , retreated , went in closer and sampled his irrefutable favorite flavor .

" Aaahh aaaahh aaaaahhh ! " Colby bellowed , landing face down on an arm of the couch .

He tremored and blinked , heard thrilled laughter at his feet and smiled , unsteady and quite satisfied .

" Check me out , Ty ! I'm so something about Mary . " Jimmy giggled , rubbing the glob of white goo in his black hair .

" Ah , modeling the latest fashion ... orgasm chic . " Colby guffawed .

" Stylish ejaculation . " his buddy stated and they kept laughing , passing each other tissues to clean off their swapped fluids .

The Iowan adjusted his dick back into place , then glanced at his watch .

" It's after four thirty . If we hurry , we can eat at Hershel's East Side . "

Jimmy grinned , wiping his lower lip .

" Yeah ! Knishes ! " he whooped , throwing his hands in the air . The flamingo pink lacquer on his nails shone in the narrow thread of sunlight that filtered through the curtains .

" And ... Hell , we have a night free . Let's drop in on Bayless and see how she's been , then go out and live it up . "

" Splendid idea , Champ . But could I plan our future ? "

Colby paused , confounded and shrugged .

" Future ? Yeah , sure , go ahead . "

" We'll be together forever . After retirement - "

" Retire ? " Colby cut his friend's comment short and chuckled . " Just began and you're ready to stop . "

" Nah , it isn't like that at all ! I'm wishing , I guess . " Jimmy replied shyly .

" Hey , I wasn't laughing at you . I'd like to hear your dreams for us . "

" Well , the suitable for the entire family ones - "

The Iowan cackled .

" Are that you'd become a trainer with your own school and bunch of students . We would live in a home with dogs and cats and ... oh , I don't know , be happy and healthy . Rich too . "

" With steadfast love and friendship . " Colby proclaimed .

" Unbroken . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Overthrow ! Revive and change ! "

The Iowan's tanned arms were bent at the elbow and hooked around the top rope while he reclined against a turnbuckle corner .

He stamped his feet in time to the heart pounding , head rush beat of the crowd's chanting .

The audience was pumped and rowdy - and Colby didn't blame them .

Jimmy had given another motivating , outre and turbulent speech and all those present were worked up .

" Overthrow ! Revive and change ! "

Xio in full force , played to the crowd a few minutes longer , pacing the ring .

" Tick , tock ... the sound of a clock winding down  ! Time to cull the unloyal and settle the score with our foes . "

Colby grinned . The group had shrunk in the last several weeks . Daizee had left first , frazzled from the love and sex triangle she was in with Delirious and Sydal , who had chased after her , devoted , horny and smitten .

He didn't really mind . They weren't his close friends anyway , only co - workers that he barely knew .

Joey had received ' the big Call - Up ' , aka from the WWE and was long gone .

Gowen , too , had left for the same reasons - greener grass on the other side , maybe .

Now the ring was claustrophobia crowded with at least a dozen gigantic men dressed in all black , including their balaclavas .

" Erase the nonessential and keep the strong . "

Colby smiled at the brown haired young woman . She was already sobbing , - the useless cunt and her damn crocodile tears - red face buried in her hands and he was tickled pink from seeing her cry .

Jimmy stood behind his bestie , ruffling his hair , nodding and chuckling .

Lacey looked up and smirked , cruelty blazing in her eyes .

" Time's up . " she mouthed at the Iowan and he cringed .

" What is this ? ! "

Jimmy stepped away Colby from as the masked men surrounded him .

" What the Hell is going on ? ! " Colby shouted .

Jimmy was standing beside Lacey and their haughty , venomous expressions were identical .

" What my woman told ya , Colby , your time is up. "

The Iowan inhaled , a gasp that was more like the sting and bite of blizzard air .

Xio had called him ... Colby .

" You bitch ! No wonder you get along so well , you're both bitches ! "

" Whatever . " Xio turned his nose up at his former friend and lover and signaled to the gang of brawlers . " I told you fellas already about his weak spot . Break his ankle . "

" What ? ! Nonoooooooshitnooooooooooo ! "

The squad rushed him and he struggled in their clutches , fending several off with knees to the groin and elbows to the gut .

Colby downed another with a flat palm strike directly in the masked face , one more with a karate side kick to the head .

He smiled a little when that man yelped and held his aching ear , staggering .

Those that hadn't been toppled , pulled him down and sat on his entire body , arms and legs restrained .

He couldn't rake eyes , sideswipe wide legs or twist their arms in painful wrist locks now .

Screaming , he was dragged and hauled to the center of the ring .

His foot was yanked and positioned with a metal folding chair above and underneath .

Each large man took turns riding roughshod over his ankle until it and his psyche broke .

Booing .

Shouting .

Cursing .

Wailing .

Chatter .

Whispers .

Laughter .

Blackout .

Chapter Text

 

 

 

               

 

 

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Shane Hollister and Trik Davis helped him pack and move , being warily supervised by Gabe and two security guards .

He didn't take or want anything except for what he'd brought from home . Clothing , yes . Furniture , he wouldn't miss it .

The indie wrestling guys were reliable and pretty cool as well - Shane was the easy to get along with , horror buff and Trik , the go - to guy for decent , rock - out tunes .

It was nice , a real relief to have people on his side .

" Thanks for the lift ! " Colby stopped himself before he leapt from the truck's passenger seat . " You probably won't want to hang around though . My parents are going to flip their lids when they see my cast . "

" And crutches . " Luke reminded him , unbuckling his own seat belt .

Rowan was already standing at the end of the teeny tiny excuse for a driveway , with a suitcase in each of his large , calloused hands .

" We'll go with you to the front door , so you won't fall . "

" Thanks , guys . I mean it . " Colby replied , thumping along with his busted foot raised off of the gravel strewn ground .

He spotted the For Sale sign on Brodie's front lawn but didn't mention it . His heart and spirit plunged nonetheless . Was everybody leaving him now ? !

Raul peered out from behind the living room curtains and then stepped out onto the porch , beaming .

" Young man , it is good to see you home ! "

Raul's brow furrowed and he gasped .

" ¿ Ah no , qué ha pasado ? "

" Hi , Dad . I'm glad to be back here . " his son said , red faced by this time because his father was plainly glaring at the crutches and cast . " But , umm , could you - uh ... not tell Mom , okay ? "

" Why , what are you trying to hide ? " Colby heard his Mom ask and he didn't have to guess if he'd been caught .

His parents didn't already know about the beat - down because they had stopped watching his matches after the Briscoe incident , which in their opinions , was lewd and grisly .

Colby figured that they could've been describing Jimmy with those two words and he was right .

The guy was , for lack of a more appropriate description , Xio Rated .

Plenty of buttering up and sweet talk had convinced them to at least give a look - see at the recorded attack .

They glared at the betrayal .

They cursed when the bones in his foot were snapped .

Colby clicked the remote's pause button and frowned , silent .

" I can't understand why he would hurt you . " Raul spoke from the brown plaid recliner , his face blank and pale , fists clenched with white knuckles through the naturally light brown flesh . " His best friend . "

" Because he's a moron , Dad . " the young man spat . " Ungrateful , envious of me and ... clearly brainwashed . "

Sofia hissed from her chair , shifting on the padded cushion seat .

" I'll give him less pity whenever he and Karma meet one day . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Stay in bed ! Remember to not go any farther than the couch . "

" What about the fridge ? " Colby asked , whining and brooding . They were going out to a murder mystery dinner theatre while he was getting to mope , recuperating at home .

" We'll bring you something back . "

They would have a feast of gelato and ice cream in a dozen flavors , cannoli , four different pizzas , arancini , Caeser salad , antipasto , minestrone and various pastas while he'd get their ' doggy bag ' leftovers .

The bright spot - if there was any to consider - was without parents around , he could jack off in peace .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

He walked faster , eavesdropping on his neighbors .

" ... Has a dental appointment and Petey's up in Canada for a family reunion ! " one voice said loudly .

" You have got to be kidding . " a second voice replied with detectable uncertainty .

" No , one of his great grandfathers is like , one hundred . I guess that's what he said . The damn phone call was laden with static . " the first voice claimed .

He limped around to the front of the garage .

" Hello ! " Colby waved at the three of the five young men who were renting Brodie's makeshift garage weekly .

" Yeah , hi . " Sabin answered . Skunk striped hair Alex didn't respond .

No Name at the keyboard nodded and faintly smiled .

Colby felt pity towards the Whatshisface guy .

The lead singer always scored tail and pussy . The drummer and guitarists could get laid with any chick that they wanted but nobody , nobody , ever fucked the keyboard player .

" What's going on ? " he hobbled closer to stand like a flamingo beside Sabin .

" Just writing lyrics today ' cause not only are two of the guys absent but Alex has an overworked throat as well . " Sabin told the Iowan .

Shelley didn't budge from Chris' other side and frowned at their nosy neighbor .

" I'm not exhausted . " he commented sourly .

" Yeah , maybe not but you should rest some more though . "

Alex chuckled after another scowl flung in Colby's direction .

" My BFF and musical partner , looking out for me . Everlasting . For keeps . "

Either Sabin's level of naive equaled his attractive cherub face or he was deliberately tuning out the clash in hopes it would end on its own .

" I can sing . " Colby volunteered , flashing Chris an endearing smile of approval .

The unknown guy at the keyboard wore a ' seen everything ' , all - knowing expression while ' Cristal Connors ' Alex and ' Nomi Malone ' Colby shot hate arrows at one another with Sabin in the middle , possibly oblivious .

" Can you ? " Alex shoulder - bumped his partner , resentment seeping through his question .

" You'll let me ? " Colby asked , disregarding icy threats and expanding jealousy .

" Yeah , sure . Our style is - " Sabin eyed the steel tubing frame and snickered , balancing against a painted white concrete block wall . " Garage punk , of course . British invasion stuff too . Ramones , Iggy Pop , Beatles , Rolling Stones ... "

" Oh , the Beatles are pretty damn cool . I have all of their albums in reprint , naturally . " Colby bragged , flirting heavily and cranking up the charm .

Sabin smiled , perhaps fascinated and Shelley exhaled a furious , breathing fire snort behind him .

" Here . " Chris passed a wireless mic . " We paid a hundred and forty for this , so don't break it . "

Colby faltered . Although he liked the spotlight , he was unprepared to have it on on him that suddenly .

" What should I sing ? "

" Whichever song feels apropos for you . The one from your heart . " Chris replied and Colby concentrated on his lips , wondering what they tasted like , pale pink , warm and soft ...

Alex faked a cough nearby and scowled .

Colby gawked at the same thing that Shelley was ogling - Sabin's ass in faded , torn blue jeans - and started the tune off the top of his head .

" All the lonely nights I spend alone , never around to love me , you're always gone . "

He glared down at his healing ankle , mentally fuming as he recalled the betrayal .

" I'm trying to tell you boy , it's a mistake . You won't realize until it's too late . "

And how his busted ankle was dumb , lying , brainwashing slut Lacey's fault .

" Don't you tell yourself that it's okay ! Sick and tired of all of your games . And you want me to stay ? Better change ! "

Stupid , gullible , dishonest traitor Jimmy's fault too , damn him !

" Dude , don't bring that sloppy shit in here ! " he heard Alex shout and saw two blurry shapes , one human and the other , round and small -

Splat !

Colby growled when the thin rubber popped and jade green liquid dripped from his forehead into the collar of his black tee .

He stepped over the remains of the ruptured water balloon , speckled with food coloring and cursed at his ex friend .

" Not funny , immature asshole ! "

Jimmy glared back , then sneered arrogantly and cruel .

" Nails across a chalkboard sounds better than that garbage falling from your mouth ! "

" Oh , boo hoo , the pathetic traitor doesn't enjoy my singing . "

" I'm pathetic ? ! Puh - leeease . "

" Unlike you , I think for myself and I'm not the one allowing a backstage bicycle to string me along . "

" Want your other leg broken ? ' Cause you are asking for it , Colby . " Jimmy warned , his eyes darker than before .

" I know your secrets . " Colby said calmly and Jimmy gasped , stepping back . " Stay away from my family and friends and me or I'll tell . "

He glanced at the MCMG and their friend and motioned their way .

" I'll tell them and everyone else all about you . " Colby stated and grinned .

" Worthless shit . " Jimmy muttered but turned tail and returned to his own yard and trailer in a huff .

Colby exhaled and smiled sheepishly at the band members .

" I bet I look like a leprechaun exploded . Who has a towel I can use to wipe this gunk off ? "

" You do . At home . " Shelley commented bitterly , at Sabin's elbow like a loyal dog .

" Wha - whaaaaaat ? ! " Colby glanced at the unidentified keyboard player who was already scoffing .

" He's right . " Chris explained , cheek to cheek with Shelley and their hands entwined . " This , from the first , was all us . Not you . You don't belong here and never will , so do yourself and us a favor . Go home . "

" But ... I thought - we're friends ? " Colby asked , imploring and whiny .

The trio hunched over , gasping , red faced and holding their sides , shaking from laughing .

He didn't run and he wouldn't cry , not out in the open so they could laugh at him more .

Tears he saved for home , behind shut double wide trailer doors with curtains drawn and a Yorkie duo to comfort him with their devoted licking .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Adiós , garras . " Sofia advanced with the clipper .

Colby held on to Perro and Raul kept a grip on Shun while Sofia trimmed their nails .

" See , boys ? It's all over and didn't hurt a bit , just like I told you . " the young man said to the dogs .

The Yorkies soaked his face with lots of ecstatic licks and he closed his eyes to block the canine slobber onslaught .

Colby got the ball rolling after a good deal of second guessing and doubt .

" What's your opinion of my voice ? "

His parents swapped perplexed looks .

" It is distinct . " Sofia commented , smiling .

" Unique . " Raul tacked on after clearing his throat .

" But ... do you think that I could be a professional singer ? Win a Grammy , perhaps ? " their boy questioned eagerly .

Colby was immediately bothered by their long silence .

" These dogs - " Sofia commented . " May want outside time by now . "

" Yeah , I'll take them for a walk . So , do you think that - "

His repeated inquiry was cut off when Raul faced the kitchen .

" I'm thirsty . Is there any of the cranberry cider left ? "

" But - guys , hey ! ... " Colby sputtered .

" Enough to drink . " Sofia nodded . " Along with carrot juice , a whole case of bottled water , chocolate milk and pineapple juice . "

Their son slumped onto the couch , groaning quietly . They weren't purposely trying to hurt him but his heart ached anyway .

His father and mother suspected - incorrectly - that he lingered in bed because of his injury but his ego knew otherwise .

He desired attention . He needed love and no one cared about him anymore besides his parents .

And as wonderful and big-hearted as they were , they had yet to show enthusiasm about his singing .

Colby had to find one person , just one other human being , somebody , anybody ... somewhere , that liked to hear his voice .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Another sleepless night .

Colby became aware of that he had no way to contact Jon .

He might not even be in Ohio anymore . It wasn't like the Iowan could call Joe - wherever the Hell he was - ask him and find out .

The grey circles and bags below his eyes had made acquaintance with each other so he left the bed and staggered into the kitchen .

Cooking a sunrise breakfast would give him something to do , something to pass the time ...

He plucked magnets off of the fridge front and stripped the surface of various old notes . While his parents excelled at cleaning out the inside of the refrigerator , they didn't keep up nearly as often with the outside .

The young man removed all of the papers with faded numbers , receipts from years ago and trashed them .

With the exception of one , which made him hesitate .

He studied the note , trying to decipher its odd message .

A toothy grinning ' Smiley Face ' had been scribbled on the paper , its black Sharpie drawn tongue sticking out .

He stared at the neon pink ' hair ' , long wobbly lines done in scented Magic Marker and the brief message alongside - Call Me !

Colby read the phone number over and over , smirk - smiling . Here was a chance to ...

He listened cautiously for his parents up out of bed and moving around before dialing .

He lowered the volume of his voice to a slight breath after the click .

" ' Lo ? Errrrgh , waita second ... okay , hello ? "

Colby balked at whomever was speaking .

" No - I just , uhnm ... I think I called the wrong number . "

" Well , kid . " the person chuckled . " If you tell me who you're trying to get in touch with , maybe I can help . "

" Jon ? " Colby inquired , embarrassed to the level that his earlobes were flushed dark red .

" John ? Plenty of them around here . Dave , Bill , Mark , Matt ... "

Colby thought for a minute and tried another approach .

" Mox ? Is he there ? "

The second voice became high pitched and animated .

" Oh , yeah . He's either here or he ain't . "

" So he is today ? Right now ? ! " the brunette had his fingers crossed .

" Uh , yeah , yeah . He pretty much rules this damn place . I'll get him ... hold on - "

Colby quivered awhile , keeping watch in case his parents were close by .

" Sofiababy ! Have I missed you ! "

" Asshole , stop trying to get with my Mom . It's not happening ! "

" This ... isn't Sofia ? "

Colby hyena giggled at Jon's sudden disappointment .

" Nah , just me . Where the Hell are you ? ! "

" I'll tell you if - " Jon paused and Colby heard people , mainly men , talking in the background and laughter . " You pay a visit . "

" Uh , yeah , that's the plan , dummy . "

" And bring my Sofia ! "

" Awwwh , Hell no . "

" Naughty pictures of her ? " his friend begged , whimpering .

" Fucketh Youeth . " the brunette griped .

" Well , damn , I tried . " Jon laughed . " Next time . Anyway ... "

" I'll be there ! ! " Colby stated , delighted , receiving an address and name of the business .

A dive bar .

No shit surprise that his buddy would be hanging out in a dive bar .

And that , come reverse Heaven or high tides , was where he was going too .

Colby divided the stack of napkins into four piles and shooed the dogs from under the table .

" No begging ! " he warned Perro and Shun before lowering his voice and making air quotes while he spoke . " Except when I ' accidently ' drop some food . "

" Whatever you're telling them , don't let it be a promise . " Raul quipped , ladling cheeseburger soup into small bowls .

His child crimsoned . He had never been unaffected by his parents talent of at least ninety percent of the time knowing what he was up to .

A timer dinged on the counter and Sofia glanced at it while carrying the mixed green salad to the table .

" My caramel apple cookies are done ! " Colby whooped , grinning .

" Boaster ! " Raul answered elatedly .

" Fast learner . " Sofia chimed in .

Their son took the chance , proceeding carefully after he had laid out the silverware and making sure that no one had food in their mouths , to gag on and spit .

" I'd like to go to Ohio . Only for a few days , to visit . A week , tops . "

" For ... ? " Sofia seemed to be curious .

" Yes , what for ? " Raul questioned their child .

" Check things out , the local scene ... see if anyone wants to hire me . "

" Other promotions . "

" Yes . "

" Well - " Sofia gazed at her spouse , considering . " After your cast is removed . "

" But not before then . " Raul said unwavering and his son whooped , leaping from his chair .

" Really ? ! You'll let me ? ! Aaaaauuuggghh , you are the greatest parents ever ! "

" We know . " his mother and father said in unison and burst out laughing .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

A possible cowboy's vocals boomed from the jukebox as a country western singer crooned .

The Iowan took the  ironic name and lyrics of the song ' Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places '  to heart and proceeded to the bar .

He waved over a past middle aged woman with a bleached beehive ' do and a few gold capped teeth .

" Yah , hun ? " she swaggered , hardly blinking .

Colby fanned aside smoke that came from more than cigarettes and failed at smiling .

" Is there something I could order ? To eat or - "

" Sure . " she replied , shoving an unpleasantly sticky laminated rectangle into his hands and strutting out of view .

He perused the grubby menu when he wasn't people watching .

The entire menu consisted of unhealthy , yummy treats from the forbidden section of the food pyramid - salty , sugary , high fat goodness - bacon cheeseburgers , fried Twinkies and onion rings , etc .

Every beverage had some type of alcohol in it . This was not the place to try and order a Cordusio or Blonde Flat White .

Old license plates , neon beer brand logo signs and Ohio state flags , taxidermy pheasants and iguanas ( ? ! ) made up most of the decor . Men and women alike were chatting , playing pool or darts or staring at the two televisions up high on the wall showing UFC and MMA brawls .

" He's in my chair , Curtis . '

" At our table , Bo . "

He tried ignoring the scowling pair of bikers poised over him . They both wore jeans and leather jackets . The one with shorter hair and a thicker beard had on a knit beanie . His sidekick had a remarkable , marginally feminine face and very long hair held back with a bandanna .

" I'm not here to start or get into a fight , okay ? I'm trying to find my friend Mox , that's all . "

Beard and Long Hair simultaneously paled , quaking in their ass - kicking work boots .

" Moxley ? ! " Long Hair shouted .

" Is your friend ? ! " Beard screeched .

" Yeah ! Have you seen hi - "

Tails tucked between their legs , they ran before he finished speaking .

He tilted his head and shrugged off their bizarre behavior , then ordered a cold one .

" Single and mingling ? "

Colby needed no verification who it was presently sitting across from him .

" Not in this stomping ground . " the brunette quipped , nursing the beer .

" Yeah , well - " Jon readjusted his woven Western style cowboy hat . " Welcome to the jungle . "

Colby laughed into the white foam capping his beverage . His friend had identified the hard rock and heavy metal tune braying from the juke .

" Oh , I've heard that song before . "

Vivid blue eyes caught what little decent light the dive had and sky changed to ocean .

" You're loving this , aren't you ? Rule breaker ! Bad boy . " Jon smirked and chortled , automatically dimpling .

" I admit although this is your turf , I sort of - "

" Liiiiiiiiike it ? " Jon inquired , giddy and jovially grinning .

" Yes ! " Colby raised his voice while ' Kickstart My Heart ' thundered through the speakers .

" Well , there it is , folks . " the lighter haired male snickered . " You heard him confess the evidence proving he's my guy . "

Colby was flattered , being Jon's man . And their verbal foreplay he found to be hilarious and a distraction from anxiety and other stress .

' Learning To Fly ' and ' Not Counting You ' played next , mellow songs that made it easier to have a conversation without having to yell to be heard .

" You've been introduced to more bark than bite . Actually , it's possible they do bite but they aren't my type so I never tried proving it . "

Colby drained his adult beverage .

" Who are you talking about ? "

" Axe - Man and Bo . Really , the only things dangerous about them is Curtis ' facial hair and his awkwardly tater tot shaped head . "

" Thought you liked all things poe - tay - toe . " Colby joked .

" I do kneel and worship at the shrine of spuds , yeah . " Jon tapped his boot soles on the sticky , splintery floorboards . " And as for little Bo Peep ... "

" The long haired guy with the great white shark grin ? "

Yep , that's Dallas ... Mister Smiley , ugh . " Jon made a sarcastic face , rolling his eyes . " Like an idiot , I rode with him once and he's the world's worst driver ! Turns his entire body around to tell me something and almost ran us off the road . "

" Shit ! " Colby groaned , haphazardly striking and toppling the liquor bottle . " I'm glad you're okay ! "

" That makes two of us . "

Angelic and rather bird chirp vocals rang out from the jukebox , a very pretty female voice .

Jon stiffened . He squeezed his friend by the wrist - tightly , painfully - , fidgeted and seemed to be having trouble breathing .

" Shit , they'll play anything in this dump ... let's get out of here . "

" ' Kay . " the Iowan agreed , bothered by the startling , rare and worrisome sight of his friend stressed and panicking , partly slumped over and twitching nervously .

The young men left the dive , arm in arm without being harassed while Colby wondered .

What was it about that particular Dolly Parton song that had upset Jon ?

" So , where to now ? " the Iowan asked , miles from the bar .

" Airport to board a flight to Vegas . I want you to see my house . " Jon answered , fast pace walking .

" Woah , you live there ? ! " Colby blurted , chasing after his buddy .

" Yeah ... okay , so it's not really a house but - "

" Waaaaaaait ! " the Iowan interrupted . " I don't have tickets for a plane trip to Nevada , only ones round trip to Ohio and then , Michigan . "

" You could buy - "

" Nuh uh , not enough cash , man . " Colby said and frowned . " Damn , I'm stuck . "

" No way ! " Jon slowed his feet . " Hmmmmm ... lemme think ... hey , I got it ! Sami can help us . "

Colby's eyebrows bounced up and down like worms skipping rope .

" Sami ? ! "

" Yeah , he's cool . He can ... well , you'll figure it out after you meet him . But let me show you something fun first . "

" Which is ? " Colby noticed they were back in ' civilization ' , the nicer parts of the town and city , away from the run down areas .

" Convenience store . " Jon stated and winked . " You'll like it . "

Colby couldn't argue with the man .

He adored the Street Corner Market at the Banks .

Colby guzzled his icy , caffeine loaded beverage and flopped onto the smooth , chilly tile floor , beaming and trembling as shopped .

" You okay ? " Jon peered at him , confusion and worry apparent on his face and his arms piled with unhealthy snacks .

" Brain freeze . " Colby sighed happily , took another Arctic cold gulp of hazelnut caramel frappe and stood . " Lemme help you with those . "

Jon looked protective of and perhaps obsessive for his bags of maple bacon , buffalo blue and salt and pepper kettle chips .

" ' Kay . " he said after an unsure , forty second long pause and relinquished his pit bull jaws hold on the sandwiches in the square shaped clear plastic containers , pickle flavor sunflower seeds and eight different types of candy bars . " I'm going back for some Corona . And I ordered us a deluxe pizza and there's a soft serve machine ... "

The Iowan grunted and refilled his slushy frozen coffee drink .

" We don't need all of - "

" Pizza and ice cream ! " Jon demanded , stamping his feet .

" Okay , pizza and ice cream . " Colby laughed , grabbing additional napkins . He couldn't resist smiling at his friend's back when he returned to the main counter for their meal pick - up .

It was , so far , unsaid but they were on a date .

His cheeks warmed to crimson and he moved to linger beside the steaming hot corn dogs , keilbasa and tacquitos rolling on their rotating metal tubes .

They were falling in love all over again and having a date in a place that sold corn chips slathered in neon orange processed melted cheese .

He grinned , hands quivering from caffeine and sugar jitters , groin tingling from something else entirely .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" I'm done reminding you that we are probably breaking a law . Too much of my precious breath wasted . " Colby stated , waving his flashlight so the beam spun .

" Heh . " Jon snickered , scaling the chain link and wooden plank fence . " SBB don't mind if I trespass . "

" Doesn't mind . " the brown eyed young man corrected his friend , climbing after him . " Wait , what's Ess Bee Bee ? "

" Switchblade Brother . " Moxley answered , landing with a thud on an unusual metal grid connected to the inside of the fence .

He heard a sound - popcorn popping ? - and a crack !

" Uh oh . " Jon froze , sweating in the darkness .

" What oh ? ! " the Iowan frowned .

" Don't ... " Jon waved at his buddy , detering him from climbing further . " Stay on that side ! "

" Why ? "

" Because this thing can't support my weight and I'm - awwwhfuuuuuuck ! "

" Jon ? ! " Colby called , nearly screaming , soaring over the fence anyway .

" Going to fall . " his friend spoke after the crash landing , spitting dirt and wiping off grass blades .

Colby also cleaned away the bits and specks using his shirt sleeve .

" You okay ? "

" Not bleeding . " Jon said in jest , winking . " I'm depriving you , vampire . "

Colby smiled gingerly , fast walking at the side of his friend .

The beams from their astoundingly still functioning flashlights picked up the green glow of watchful eyes .

Many , many eyes , staring .

" Shit ! " the Iowan stalled , trembling .

Jon seized him before he bolted .

" It's cats , man . "

" Cats ? " Colby sputtered . Dozens of winking silver - white and yellow - green globes observed his panic .

" Yeah , him and Jess have lots of cats and a little ... " Jon made a gesture with his hands , dropping the flashlight . " Dog , some mutt . They love him like it was their human baby . "

The Iowan's smile brightened .

" Dogs , man . "

" Yep , dogs . "

Colby spied numerous rubbish - hills of soiled mattresses , broken bowling pins , rusted golf clubs and warped radios .

He caught sight of a rickety , vacant shack up ahead and the combination of a shipping container home and a modern , modular log cabin behind it .

" This ... friend of yours really does live in a salvage yard ? "

" We're surrounded by junk , aren't we ? There's your answer . " Jon replied and cheekily hummed the famous Sanford and Son theme song .

" But why would anyone want to - "

" This is his Dad's . Sami grew up here and is going to inherit . "

" Ah . " Colby commented , dumbfounded . " Okay . "

" Open window ! " Moxley climbed on the sill .

" Ohgawdno . Down , boy . Back off . " Colby mumbled , grabbing his arm , preventing him from wriggling into another person's home . " Can't you knock or ring the bell ? "

" Yesssss but that's not as fun . "

Colby's nose twitched , an adorkable warning signal .

" Okay , you win . " Jon grunted . " Friggin ' fuddy - duddy . "

" Password . "

The front curtain rippled .

" I can see you , Death Machine . Open the door ! " the blue eyed man fumed .

" Password . " the fatigued voice repeated .

Jon sighed .

" O - H . "

" I - O . " the voice chimed in . " It is you ! "

" Fucking duh ! " the dirty blonde snapped .

The broad back of Jon's ally faced them while he was fixated on the Dell XPS laptop screen . An Apple Macbook was at his elbow on the long desk .

Mox dove on the sofa , squealing , took a bag of nacho cheese Doritos and ripped it open with his teeth .

" Fucking make yourself at fucking home . " Sami muttered caustically .

" Shall and will . " Jon cracked the pop top tab on a beer .

Sami wore eclectic apparel - a hodgepodge of distressed jeans and a sleeveless tee , knee high biker boots with chains , a solid blue bandana tied around his dark tangled hair and a silver and black striped tapestry vest . A copper skull crowned walking stick stood propped against the desk .

He tugged off the studded leather Cyber-Goth respirator , adjusted his coordinating black , red and silver goggles with Biohazard symbol lenses and scowled at the arrivals .

" You have a thing for office supplies ? "

" What ? ! No . " Mox kicked back , feet propped up and arms folded behind his head .

" Then why'd you bring a pencil ? " Callihan sneered .

" Pencil ! " Colby glared . " If you're calling me a pencil , then I'll call you a - "

" Quit it ! " Jon stood in the center of the spat , inbetween his pals . " Grow up , Sami . You too , Colbs . "

" Meh . " Sami replied sourly , returning to his computers .

Colby ignored his unfriendly attitude and unwelcoming manner , scanning the living room's fascinating , weird decor .

Two of the slate grey walls were papered with reprints of DC and Marvel comic book covers . Another had been painted featuring a mural of a supine Batman , clobbered by the villains .

Cat towers and scratchers stood in the four corners . Plastic toy balls with jingle bells inside , cloth ' mice ' , ropes to pull on and chew bones were sprinkled on the floor and rugs .

A toy breed , possible wire haired mix of chihuahua and who knows what else , snored on a big , bone shaped plush bed .

The HD quality big screen television was sided by a pair of six foot tall speakers and the free standing stereo system had a jumble of video games and consoles next to it .

Ashtrays , junk food , beer and bottled water took up most of the scuffed old coffee table's dusty , water stained surface .

He could tell by the moans and panting , that it was pixelated porn being shown on the tv screen .

Colby watched the alabaster and beige , tawny and caramel , peach and bronze squares flicker and curl , shimmy and writhe .

When the pale pink and coral turn to scarlet , strawberry and obsidian , Jon smirked and shifted closer to the televised action .

" Two guys and two chicks and one of the women is wearing a strap - on . "

Colby blushed and grinned .

" You ain't shitting me , are you ? "

" Nope , I've seen this one already . " Mox cleared his throat and flushed light pink , including his forehead . " And the sequels . "

A boisterious Caw Caw ! rang out and a blur of midnight and soot literally flew into the room .

" Holy Hell ! " the Iowan yelped , ducking .

A black and white blob of whiskers and fluff that had a long , thin worm growing from its rump scurried over the top of his feet and he flinched again .

" What the Hell ! "

" Chaos ! Anarchy ! Where have you brats been ? " Sami greeted the bird and rodent with head scratches and patting , flinging a few sunflower seeds in the shell on the wood flooring .

He sneered at Colby while his animal companions snacked .

" So the Pencil's yellow bellied ' cause of a crow and a rat . "

" Shut up , Callihan . " Jon warned as his Ohio friend chortled .

" What are you boys bitching about ? " a dulcet voice inquired , the soundtrack partially from a horror movie mixed with femininity , moonlight and curvaceousness .

She flipped back the hood on her black velvet , long sleeved Wiccan cloak and surveyed the scene , glancing curiously at Colby .

The Iowan twitched and his eyes boggled like the rat's did . This woman he didn't recognize was stacked , frikkin ' plus size Elvira and dressed rather the same as well .

" Hi , Jess . " Jon said amiably . " Your man's holding out on giving me and my bud here a demonstration of his remarkable hacking talent . "

" Speaking of putting your skills on display . " Havok tapped the remote , shutting off the onscreen fuck fest . She frowned at her boyfriend , long black hair flying when she shook her head in disapproval . " I've told you before that there's nothing from those movies you can't get bigger , longer and better from me . "

" Yes , ma'am . " Callihan stuttered , crimsoning and slumping in his chair .

" Woooooohooooooo ! " Jon guffawed and shouted . " She put you in your place ! "

Moxley stopped laughing and mulled things over .

" Although , it's Sami we're talking about . He can't be that big in the first place . "

" Shows how much you know . " Jessicka answered slyly , kissing her boyfriend .

" Woooooohoooooo ! " Sami retorted merrily . " My lady put you in your place ! "

" Alright , super cute Death Machine , dial back the screaming in my ear . "

Jon opened his mouth . Colby covered it with one hand and elbowed him .

" So , what do you want ? Bills paid , money added to your bank account ? " Sami asked , gruff and smugly , black lipstick smears dotted on his cheeks and lips .

" You can do that ? ! " Colby had to admit to himself that he was impressed . Sami didn't like him - probably never would - but he had spawned a reaction .

And his strange , eye catching , somewhat unique spiky and mussed black hair reminded him of Xio's unruly , untamed ' do .

" He can do anything . " Havok smirked , mirthful . " Anything . "

Chaos caw - cawed in agreement on his perch , four cats purred and rubbed , circling and scent marking her legs , Anarchy bruxed on Callihan's shoulder and Puppy Riot yawned on his bed .

Jon wolf - whistled , teasing . " Plane tickets . "

" To Las Vegas " Colby broke in the conversation .

Jon glanced at his Iowan friend . " Round trip for those too , right ? "

Colby nodded . " We might need to use a map , double checking . "

" Better play it safe than get stranded and left lost somewhere . " Jessicka commented .

" Yep . " Jon opened another cold one .

Sami cracked his knuckles and whirled in the office chair . The black hooded rat chittered at him angrily , not enjoying the sudden dizziness .

" Sorry , Anarchy . Okay , Lady and us men not always so gentle , gather ' round and let's get crackin ' ... er , hacking . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

The blue eyed young man watched Colby sleep during the flight .

He'd heard the talk before . People said this , people said that - it violated privacy , counted as harassment and was disturbing as well .

Jon never played by others rules . He made his own and sometimes broke many of those too .

" Nobody owns me or runs my life . " Mox whispered , gazing out the window at the wisps of clouds , the squares of ground far below .

He raised his voice slightly and resumed staring at his lover .

" And you're mine , buddy so have nice dreams for both of us . I'm with you . All the way . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Home sweet home . " Moxley kicked open the double gates made from chain link fencing and ripped through the bright yellow police crime scene tape .

The Iowan gawked at the corroded debris , defunct buildings painted with graffiti and faulty machinery scattered around the former amusement park . He spotted a ruined greenhouse with cracked windows opaque from grime . Knee high weeds , small trees and cacti sprouted from clefts in the pavement .

Colby whistled , unsure what to say . A compliment ? An insult ?

" How did you afford this place ? "

Jon ran past him and leaped over a creepy , grinning caterpillar shaped kiddie coaster , lying on its dented side and flecked with patches of rust .

" It was free , been sittin ' for years and years . The land might have some value but other than that , nobody wants or cares about it . So I moved in . Me and Suitcase . "

" Suitcase ? "

" Yep ! " Jon pointed to the greenhouse . " You've seen his digs . Let's swing by . "

Colby shrugged and ran behind his buddy , unsure what to expect .

Eight feet length and four hundred plus pounds of slimy - scaly emerged from the deep water and waddled out of the makeshift pool .

" There's my big man ! " Jon yelped like any proud parent would have .

Colby recoiled as the giant reptile advanced on them .

" He's a growing boy . " the blue eyed man informed his brown eyed partner , actually giving the alligator a big hug and a kiss on its snout also .

" Erghh . " Colby groaned , upper lip curled and eyes widening . " How on Earth do you keep an alligator in the desert ? ! "

" Lots of hard work . " Jon replied , playing with the beast as though it were a small puppy - rubbing its belly and patting its black and olive green head . " Cute , ain't he ? Callihan found him for me . "

Colby snorted from both nostrils enviously .

" Yeah , I bet he did . "

The Iowan's stomach rumbled .

" Ooops ! My signal to go for lunch . "

" You don't have any food here ? "

Jon guffawed .

" You're kidding , right ? Hey , watch this ! "

The shorter haired man rapped on a false wall on one side of the arcade building until it popped open and a stashed ladder fell out .

" There are lots of hideouts , old offices and employee dorms scattered secretly all over the park . I swap back and forth but live most of the time in this one ' cuz it's the biggest . "

Colby climbed after him readily and slipped through the window Jon had eased upward .

" Cool . " he stated , brushing dust and dirt from his jeans and tee , shaking his hair in case bugs had crawled into it .

The single main living space was a touch over six hundred square feet , made into a bedroom , kitchen and lounge area by using tall dividers .

" Restrooms are out in the hallway , through that door . " Jon motioned , flopping onto the couch , a treasure from sidewalk scavenging of the past .

" Niiiiiiice , thanks . " Colby nodded , also sitting but not until after he'd made sure to not land butt first onto a coiled metal spring surfacing from the furniture's innards .

If Jon didn't have a problem with the filth and creepy crawlies , grime and cobwebs , then neither would he .

He peered into the mini fridge . All it contained was a box of baking soda and a few cases of beer . The cabinets were completely bare , if the mouse pellets and dust bunnies weren't counted .

" The 99 Ranch Market saves a bag for me when I'm here , to keep me from doin ' the five finger discount in their store . We can head out and take a look-see . "

" Walk ? " Colby asked , having no clue how long that might take .

" Yep , some and drive . "

" Oh , gawd ! What is this stuff ? ! " Jon complained , rattling the paper bag topped to the brim with Asian foods .

" Cheese and spicy chicken flavor instant ramen noodles , yellow mackerel canned in tomato sauce and a bottle of lychee jelly drink . " Colby read the labels quickly .

" Freaking foodie bragging showoff . " the dirty blonde laughed , then grimaced once more eyeing the items . " Except for maybe the noodles , none of this is real food . Hey ! One of the best places to ' shop ' is nearby ... '

Colby cocked a brow and looked on skeptically . He wasn't totally sure he trusted whatever it was that Jon had in mind .

Jon twirled the Cincinatti skyline bottle opener / key chain on a well loved and often used middle finger after parking his from the nineties Dodge Ram behind a shopping center .

" Uhm . " the Iowan began , antsy and shifting from one foot to the next . He'd spied a small gathering of chain smoking , beer bottle holding , grocery cart pushing panhandlers weaving and wobbling in their direction .

Jon began to climb into a dumpster , causing his brown eyed partner to squeak .

" Uhm-uhn-nuh . " Jon mumbled , sending ' tsk - tsk ' sounds his friend's way and grinning a bit . " Bundle of nerves . "

" Duh ! Yeah , since you're doing something illegal ! " Colby chided .

" Awwww , my entire life is against the rules . " Mox ruffled his friend's long hair , blew a kiss and vanished into the oversized garbage can behind the grocery store .

" Aaaaaaand it's disgusting , what you're doing . " the Iowan wrinkled his nose although Jon couldn't see the grimace . " Eating rotten food ! "

" No . " Jon said , his head popping up from the trash Jack in a Box style and tossed some items to his complaining friend . " It's fresh . Catch ! "

" But - " Colby sputtered .

" If you're worried , there are some costumes in that tool box and ice chest in the truck bed . "

" Costumes ? ! " Colby screeched .

He glanced at the sealed , clear container of pita sandwiches . His buddy was correct - nothing had mold on it and everything was in date .

" Outfits . " Jon dropped more food . " Disguises . "

" If it's the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus , I'm disowning your ass . " Colby smiled at his buddy diving back onto solid ground .

" Nope . " Jon said , flipping the lids back and revealing a stack of assorted clothing .

" You can be arrested for impersonating a cop . " Colby informed his friend after taking just one look at the blue uniform .

" What , is this more your color ? " Jon asked , holding a stop sign red costume at chest level .

" A ... Canadian ... Mountie . " Colby replied at sloth speed , utterly astonished . " And that's for - ? "

" In case I'm ever in Canada and going to mount ... somebody . " Jon shrugged and winked at his stunned friend . " Whaaaaat ? ! Don't look at me that way . "

Gulping air and biting his own tongue didn't quell the side splitting , tear producing , body shaking laughter .

He whooped and wailed and cackled against his guffawing partner's chest .

" Whew ! Jeez , you're fun to be with . " Colby said , wiping his eyes .

" Love you too . " Jon nodded , dimpling cutely .

" I didn't say I love you . " the Iowan smirked .

" I didn't say I know . " Mox quipped and they linked their free hands .

Kissing behind a grocery store was an unexpected , pleasurable thing to do .

Being interrupted by weird people in mismatched clothes , with unbrushed ( and some unwashed ) hair , swaying and grunting - street zombies - was not .

Colby produced a louder squeak .

Jon looked at him , then at the vagabonds and nodded , smiling gently .

" Baby , they're harmless . They ... they're people like us , trying to survive and get by in this crap life . Doing the best that they can . "

Colby gazed at them and felt guilt flow through his blood .

His face , he could tell , was a brighter red than the Mountie uniform .

Old people . And parents . And children .

Families and singles simply working for something better .

Sure , many had addictions and demons , personal struggles and failures , had made negative life choices but they were all humans .

He passed out the trays of cut fresh fruit , veggies with dip , cookies and bone in wings straight from the deli .

The dirty blonde joined him , giving away bottled water taken out of the cases .

Colby scrutinized his surroundings .

He was sitting outdoors on a curb in the desert heat , behind a Smith's with the unrelenting sun toasting him .

He was eating rejected food straight out of a glorified trash can while surrounded by vagrants , junkies and alcoholics .

And was genuinely happy for the first time in far too long .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" It's your bed . " Colby declared . " I'll take the couch . "

" No , I'm sleeping there . " Jon nabbed the full body pillow from his buddy's grasp , depositing it back on the mattress . " You're my guest , you have the bed . I insist , so don't argue with me . "

" Fine then . " Colby's chest heaved , his thoughts inquisitive to his friend's motives - did he only want to sleep or something else ?

He shrugged aside the reluctance and crawled underneath the top bedding .

"  Damn time flying by  . " Jon remarked . " The hours are winding down and too soon , you'll be with Pinkie again . "

" Yeah but ... no . " the brunette chose to confide in his dirty blonde partner and unconditionally trust him . " He - okay , don't get mad ... "

Mox sat on the floor tiles in need of a scrubbing and sulked . Colby plastered additional bandages to his bleeding knuckles .

" I said don't get mad ! "

" I'm not mad , I'm pissed ! "

" Well , calm down ! " Colby yelled back . " You already punched one crater in the wall above your bed . "

" I'd deck him , if he was here . " Jon fumed .

" Just ... shut the fuck up , would you ? "

He lost his mind then - that was the mental excuse - otherwise it wouldn't have crossed his mind to bow his head and suck the red stains from his friend's raw hands .

Mox hissed and gasped and writhed , fingers caught in his buddy's almost black hair , pressing on the back of his neck , restraining him from finishing .

" Hey , vampire . " he kidded , closing in for a ruby shaded kiss .

They struggled with each others shirts and jeans , socks and shoes , helping each other out of their underwear .

" Damn , the movies make it look so easy . " Jon faux griped , laughing when the scratchy care label tag inside his shirt collar grazed his nose .

" What movies have you been watching ? ! " Colby screeched , pushing his friend back on the bed .

Mox grinned up at his boyfriend and wiggled his eyebrows .

" Skank . " the Iowan muttered . He scanned Jon's chest , his eyes distending and pupils dilated . " You're hairer than I recall . "

" Yep ! Behold , I have pubertyered . " his friend boasted .

" I truly doubt that pubertired or whatever the Hell you said , is a real word . "

" It's my  word , taken straight from the Moxtionary . "

" You passed over the chance to make a penis joke ? ! " the Iowan peered at his lover . " Did you hit your skull , along with your fist ? "

" Ah , but that was on purpose . My dick is a serious , enormous thing , nothing to joke about . "

Colby gave his buddy a sour look , unspoken jealousy within .

" You know what's nice ? " Jon continued . " This time , your mother can't walk in on us . "

Colby's toes curled and he smiled , a passionate , faithful grin that rose up to the corners of his eyes .

He saw the perception in Jon's face before the desert dwelling man flipped over , butt up .

" You're built like a tube of toothpaste . " the dirty blonde mumbled into his pillowcase . " Longer . It's appealing . "

" What ? Oh , yeah ...my back and upper body . Growth spurt . "

" The tats are bad - ass too , by the way . "

" Thanks . "

Because Jon was a cool guy all the time and polite when he felt like it , if he had any complaints or comments about the paltry amount of weiner his friend had , nothing was mentioned .

Colby ran his fingers , widespread , through Jon's light brown tresses , trimmed shorter and touching the earlobes , the pink dye washed out many months ago .

The same auburn tinged , golden brown hair from his teenage years .

Colby sighed and licked his lips , tasting the remaining blood .

He hesitated . Being with Xio had deprived him of beginner's anal play and now he'd have to brush up on what to do .

He sucked on the delicate , crinkle textured , feather soft flesh and using his index and middles fingers on both hands , parted the opening , stretching the skin for better access .

After taking a few prolonged licks , he nibbled , smiling when Jon sighed and moaned .

Then Colby paused again , sitting back to think clearly - or try to .

Reaching for the travel size sample bottle of mint mouthwash placed on the recycled ( and stolen ) cable spool nightstand , he uncapped and swigged , gargled , spitting .

Because who wanted to kiss and get a butt taste in their mouth ?

He hadn't done anal with another man and this was a first , actual ass play .

What could he do besides confess that he was a virgin at rimming and ... a few other things .

And despite Jimmy betraying him , he absolutely refused to ' tattle ' on his former Michigan BFF and tell his secret to the trans male's number one rival .

" Problem ? " Jon asked over his shoulder , back arched tantalizingly .

Colby blushed , embarrassed before explaining .

" Awh man , I fucked up . "

Jon laughed at his friend's beet red face .

" Well , not totally . You stopped part way to the good stuff , best part , so to speak . "

Colby snickered and attempted to feel less mortified .

" I didn't pack or bring lube and rubbers . "

" Yeah , so ? And ? "

" Well , I ... " the longer haired young man shook his head , eyes closed for a second . " You aren't bothered or concerned about the physical pain ? Of me hurting you ? ! "

" Oh , Hell , it wouldn't be bad like you think . " Jon grunted and ' tsked ' , tongue brushing the roof of his mouth . He rolled over to sit up and motioned for Colby to join him , patting the pillow .

" Yeah , but - "

" Sir , if you've never relied on spit only , then you haven't truly lived , Sir . " Jon teased .

" What is with the sudden , crappy imitation of a dignified English gentleman accent ? ! " the brunette screeched .

" Listen , man , I've been in matches where my opponent took a cordless electric carving knife to my scalp . "

" Damn , Jon ! " Colby cried out .

Moxley kissed him between the eyes to end his wailing and smirked .

" So whatever you do with me , short of beating me to death obviously , won't hurt me . "

" I don't ... I - " the brunette trembled .

" I promise . " Jon stated .

" This ... ooohhhh , I - "

Jon smiled while Colby tremored .

" I promise . " Mox repeated , following another smooch planted on his friend's prominant nose .

They swung with their lower halves fused , entire bodies convulsing and perspiring , murmuring fervidly in each other's ears .

" Aaaaahhh , it's like being on a see-saw . Except ... except - aaaaaahh ! Better ! "

The Iowan held his partner above him , Jon gazing down , bouncing on Colby's upright dick .

" Wait a sec - pull out and lemme go get a Brewskie . "

Colby obeyed , smacking his friend's firm , round ass and chortling .

" Drained and dried ? " he teased , upper shoulders reclining on the scrap wood headboard .

" Recharging and reloading . " Mox quipped the retort and blew a kiss .

" Fetch one for me . "

" Fetch ? ! I ain't your dog , little man . Besides , dummy , it's gonna be shared between us , ' kay ? "

" Okaaaaayy . " Colby smiled , rolling his eyes .

He listened , tranquil and fulfilled , to the in the kitchen sounds of his partner popping open the fridge door and walking across the dusty wood and chipped tiles .

Stimulated , he closed his eyes momentarily , awaiting his ' treat . '

" Check this out ! "

Colby peeked and regretted it . Jon was not only holding a can but shaking it as well .

" Oh noooooo . " the longer haired man yelped and scurried backwards , almost falling to the floor . " Awh , Hell no , don't you dare - "

The container burst , spraying a cascade of foam and liquor onto his entire body and most of his mane . The Iowan cursed , shaking like a wet dog and wringing beer from his hair .

" Asshole ! " Colby bellowed , ready to fight before Jon tackled him .

And licked off the alcoholic beverage , mouthing and kissing his friend's soggy chin and earlobes , caressing and sucking on his drenched forehead and throat .

The darker haired young man moaned , throwing his head back and melting into the sensations .

Jon's lips grazed and skimmed the softer , beer scented nipple , his thumbs plucking and pressing the firmer , bright pink one .

The Iowan writhed and descending beneath the sheets , bathed in sweat and glistening .

" You're resourceful , ain't ya ? " Colby winked at his rough and tumble friend . " Adult beverages . I love it . "

" Yeah , that's how I eat pussy with my chicks . " Jon replied proudly . " And it , schmit , shit . How about loving me ? ! "

" I do love you . " Colby blurted .

Four gleaming eyes , two ocean blue and a pair of smoky topaz brown , widened .

" You - " Jon wheezed , blushing and wriggling . " My own parents didn't love me , how could ... why - "

" Shut up . " Colby kissed him sweetly to mute his complaint and dull the lighter haired man's pain . " I'm not your frikkin ' worthless parents . "

" No . " Jon eventually smiled . " You're the one I love . Them ... I only hated . "

" I don't blame you either . " Colby stated , although like most people , he had very little background info and knowledge about his buddy's tough past and abusive childhood .

" Would - " the lighter brown haired man began and paused , dimpling and crimson which astounded his friend . Jon was not one to blush often .

" Yeah , what ? " Colby replied , trying to play it cool though he knew that his face was nearly as red .

" Would you stay with me ? Live here ? Me , you and the gator . " Jon grinned .

" Live ... stay here ? ! That's , uh - "

" Yeah , I know my lifestyle isn't about lying poolside at some ritzy - shitsy , billion dollar hotel . It's nomadic . I don't have attachments and commitments . "

" And yet , you want me to move in with you which is an attachment and commitment , Dorkonzola cheese . " the brunette cackled merrily .

" Bitch , shut up . You're the cheese . " Jon grumbled , then laughed .

" Well , if we're the same , then that means we're brothers . "

" Serious ? "

" No lie . I can't live with you but that doesn't mean we'll be apart forever . We're brothers , you and me and - " Colby snickered . " Not your Everglades lizard but Joe . We're family . "

" Family . I like that . My family . " the golden haired male beamed drowsily and they spooned in the nude , their diminutive amount of modesty long gone .

He ran ...

He'd shrunk and his tiny yet pudgy body wobbled when he hurried along , giggling .

Chased . He was being chased and heard laughter and merriment behind him , overhead and at his back .

His little pink toes and wrinkled feet curled and he kept giggling joyfully when the woman scooped him from the floor to hug .

He looked and squinted and blinked .

This wasn't Mommy . Mommy had drank from a bunch of bottles and cans , like she did everyday and yelled at him .

This kind lady was there for him , took care of him like he was her own whenever Mommy fell over on the couch and went to sleep , snoring .

He continued blinking at the Florence Henderson twin . She was nice and lovely and made sure he had lunch and used the potty when Mommy slept all the time .

And he couldn't remember her name ...

The big kids in the neighborhood did though , always teasing her and shouting it but she didn't seem to mind .

Her name , her name -

Harriet ?

Hazel ?

No . No .

Holly ? !

" Holly ! " Colby bolted upright from the flashback and bellowed . " Holly Davidson ! "

" Vrooooom , vroom . " Jon said sleepily , also sitting up , rubbing his face , yawning and frowning . " Damn , I wish you hadn't woke me . "

" Sorry ! I didn't mean to be loud but I remembered - " the Iowan grinned at his lover . The blue eyed male had a russet colored pubic hair stuck to the corner of his lips . Colby flicked it off , then kissed that mouth lovingly . " I know precisely who I need to go and meet with . "

" Someone named Holly . " Jon muttered drowsily .

" Holly Davidson , yep . "

" Isn't that the main chick character in the Biker Mice from Mars cartoon ? "

" You still watch cartoons ? ! "

" You haven't answered my question . "

" Discussing tv shows for children isn't helping me ! " Colby sprung from the bed . " She may not live in Iowa anymore . She might be ... "

He sighed , closing his eyes , not willing to say the Awful Word .

Warmth and calm , the soothing sensation from two big , callused hands rubbing his upper back .

" Sami can find info on anyone and any-damn-thing . I'll call him . "

" He won't help . A person with lousy eyesight could tell that he doesn't like me . " the Iowan slouched . " I get that he's pissed off jealous of us being friends - "

Jon fidgeted and the longer haired man noticed .

" What ? "

" Uhm ... not because of our friendship . "

Colby deciphered why his rebellious , desert dwelling lover was abnormally bashful all of a sudden .

" Oh , shit ! You ... the two of you fucked , am I right ? ! "

" Well , what happened was - okay , so , Jess was out of town ... "

" Awh , jeeeez . " Colby moaned , looking at the ceiling . " Isn't that just - aauurrghh ! Now he'll never do anything nice for me . "

Jon pulled his partner back onto the mattress and beneath the covers , smiling .

" He'll help us . That's what friends do . Besides - "

The blonde kissed his brunette man a dozen times and smirked .

" I can convince him . I have my ways . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Jimmy paced the ring , awaiting his opponent's arrival .

He wore bargain bin gear that meant nothing to him - a sleeveless white tee , baggy tiger stripe pleather shorts and falling apart boots .

The long tights in a shade of ivory and worn under the shorts were so form fitting they looked painted on .

He wouldn't besmirch his favorite attire by getting blood of the guy he hated most splattered on the material .

Jimmy was instantly alert and glowering when the two Jenna Jameson Cosplaying as a Barbie doll mirror images sauntered to the ring , his enemy in tow .

The bleached and natural blonde pair giggled , unhooked the leather handle , chain leashes from Mox's wide , cone studded dog collar and stood at either side of him .

He leered at his scantily clad valets and glared up at his bizarre opponent , smirking when the young women kissed him .

He smacked their perfect , cellulite free , toned and tanned asses and shooed ' his babies ' from ringside as the frenzied audience hooted and hollered .

Jon dove under the apron and yawned at the prosaic ' comedy ' weapons he retrieved - a rolling pin , cookie sheet and some folding chairs .

Kid stuff .

Jimmy growled at his scruffy , scarred , blue eyed rival once he sailed through the ropes .

" You betrayed him ? ! Dumped him ? ! " Moxley turned his nose up at his enemy . " That guy was the best friend you'll ever have and ... oh , never mind . I'm better for him anyway . "

" You are anything but superior to me ! " Jimmy spat , a firm grip on his railroad spike attached to a bicycle chain and lock around his throat .

" As I just said - " Jon smiled . " I'm the better man and ... "

He regarded his opponent .

" Clearly more man than you . "

" Yeah ? " Jimmy dared his rival . He waved the spike , a plain as day threat . " Not for long , chunky ! "

Jon looked with contempt at the weapon and stepped back long enough to yank something else from beneath the ring - a nail studded wooden Slugger bat .

" Mine's bigger . " he gloated .

The athletes snarled and charged each other , bulls clashing their horns until blood was shed .

The current patients waiting for ER treatment gave the secretary at the nurses station good reason to do a double - take .

And a spit take .

" You suck . " Mox complained , sitting absolutely still so the peeled top layer of skin on his entire back wouldn't roll up or sag .

He had a black eye and thumbtacks protruding from his upper arms .

" You wish . " Xio seethed , wincing from the pain that talking with a split lip caused .

His fingers and thumbs were singed and some of his messy purple and black hair had been burned off .

Both men had gouges and immense scratches across their swollen , aching chests as if they'd been mauled by lions .

There were two enormous ruby red puddles at their feet , slowly expanding .

The woman ended the call and wasted little time casting her green eyes to the ceiling .

" I should've taken my parents advice and became a nun . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

The middle aged woman , barely five four in height , was sweeping the front porch when he crept up behind her .

She pivoted , dark blue - gray eyes ablaze and kept him at bay with chemical Mace , her white - blonde hair unkempt .

" Hello ? Holly ? Holly ? I - "

A jet of caustic spray hit him right in the eyes and he toppled on the porch steps , screeching and pawing at his dimmed eyesight .

" Holly , it's me ! " he cried out , weeping through puffy and stinging eyelids . " I called earlier , remember ? ! "

" Colby ? ! Phyre's boy ?

"

A teacup full of two percent had been poured over his itchy , tender and bloodshot eyes .

The remainder of the quart of milk had been split between two glasses , sitting next to a plate which had held a stack of grilled cheese sandwiches .

The young man finished the last spoonful of tomato soup , his face shiny from warm water and scrubbing off the pepper spray .

Carefully squinting , he examined the living room again .

Holly was a grandmother - that was clear to see from the amount of dolls , building blocks , plush stuffed animals and ride on toys that cluttered the area .

The window glass was smeared with tiny finger prints and there were crayon scribbles on the bottoms of the walls , behind the chintz sofa .

" We met while working in a library . Did she tell you that ? I helped with the book mobile and your mother , your mother - " Holly stopped to chuckle . " Phyre was amazing and some sort of Einstein when it came to placing books on the shelves alphabetically . "

Colby munched on a few more no - bake butterscotch Haystacks , nodded and listened .

" You helped raise me , didn't you ? "

" I lent a hand whenever I had the time , yes . " the older woman reclined , contemplating . " Maybe it's time for you to hear the backstory about your parents . "

" I would like to know more about them and what happened . " her guest said with gusto .

" At first , she saw good qualities that he might have had . After time went on , your mother noticed more of his faults but thought he could be changed for the better . "

Colby kept nodding while Holly sighed . He heard birds chirping , faintly , outside .

" By then , I was starting a family of my own . Our eight years age difference and the fact she chose him over our friendship separated us for awhile ... until she got pregnant . "

Colby stared without blinking at the artificial plants he'd brought as a present - silk and polyester sunflowers in a clear vase and a potted Sago palm , both Jon's idea , ' in case of allergies ' , he'd said .

" And he left her . " the young man added , swinging his feet and scowling .

" Once she began showing , yes . I suppose in his tiny mind , that meant the truth couldn't be hidden any longer . " Holly glared at the bay window . A squirrel with a mouthful of acorns was inching up a tree .

" Oh , goody . My Pops is a vagrant , wino and a skirt chaser . " Colby commented sarcastically , abashed for multiple reasons . He'd inherited one trait from his father , that was certain . " There's another way to describe him but I won't use that language in front of a lady . "

Holly beamed and raised the plastic cup of milk to clink a toast of sorts .

" We'll get along just fine , won't we ? "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Don't be frightened . "

" I'm not scared . " Colby fibbed through chattering teeth .

" It's a place of healing so the interior is reminiscent of a hospital , the paint , the checkerboard floor tiles , the pale , drab color scheme ... " the older woman smiled wistfully after she had parked . " But that's nothing to worry about . "

Bit by bit ,  he caught on . Holly was telling him to not judge something - or someone's - appearance .

" You shouldn't have to sit out here in the car all day . Visit with me . I mean , you're family too , ya know . " Colby suggested .

" I'm here two days each week . This is your time to catch up , yours and your mother's but I do appreciate the offer . "

" Thank you . For all of this - your kindness , intelligence ... "

Holly beamed .

" I'm always happy to help Phyre anyway that I can . And I'll drop by to pick you up later - "

" No , you've done more than enough already . I'll give you a break and get a cab . It's no big deal . "

" Are you sure ? "

" Yes , ma'am . Very . Thanks , really . "

" Okay but call if you need anything ! "

" Yes ! I will ... thank you ! "

He unbuckled the seat belt and slipped out of it , stepped onto the blacktop lot , gulped and gazed at the glass front and red brick of the expansive building .

Colby was relieved he had made a down to the final minute decision . He'd swapped his BCC Religion Poisons Everything and XXX Rude black deconstructed super skinny jeans for a plain , solid white tee and regular blue denim .

A prudent , tame outfit that wouldn't offend people .

Following showing his I.D. , explaining who he was and zipping through a metal detector scan , he took a seat in the asture waiting room .

He flipped through the 2008 PWI Greats of the Game issue , Xenos Candy ' n ' Gifts shopping bag at his feet plus his Walkman to battle boredom .

Somebody laughed over his scalp and tapped him on the shoulder .

" They should know in advance to make room for you , hmmm ? "

" Yeah . Move aside , guys because I'm taking over . " Colby responded , eyes buried in the articles and full color photos .

Then he froze and gulped , the little peach fuzz hairs on the back of his neck standing straight .

" Mom ? Mayrik ? ! " he squealed .

" Du achets'ir . "

Years had passed and her countenance remained spectacular from head to toe .

Had she been wearing goth garb and a lab coat , she could have been mistaken for Abby from NCIS .

" Mom , you look fantastic ! " Colby bounded from the butt numbing hard chair , astonished in one of the best ways while looking at his mother .

They had the same onyx black hair , however his was longer and had pecan brown strands unlike hers going grey .

His mother's eyes were hazel compared to his the shade of garden soil and their smiles were identical .

" You're the taller one now . " Phyre said with a laugh .

" And you got a haircut . It's chic . "

Feeling self - conscious was unexpected . He had planned to angrily confront his Mom and get years of frustration and resentment out of his system , not smile and laugh as if their life together had been heavenly .

" I bought some gifts for you when - " he said while his hands fluttered on the bag handles . There was a catch in his throat that he couldn't quite swallow .

" I'll put them in my room . Besides , it's high time you got the grand tour of this place . "

" That will be nice . " Colby replied as his cerebellum went on a loop de loop rollercoaster ride .

Visiting his mother in a sober living home and actually getting along with her had turned him into a queasy basket case .

Phyre led him down a bare bones hallway . Two adults in white coats were trying to calm a yelling senior citizen in one room .

When parent and child went past another open door , he saw a woman with mustard yellow splotches on her ankles and bare feet , her knees to her chest and rocking restlessly .

Phyre noticed his antsy movements and eyes agog .

" It looks worse than it is , I swear . Come on and I'll show you the bright side . "

" Uhhh ... okay . " Colby said after an uneasy pause .

She showed him two of his favorite places , the cafeteria and a gym .

The womens lounge area looked pretty good , containing a kitchen with lots of cabinets and a giant , glossy black fridge . Across from and connected to was a living room type space with powder blue and rust orange upholstered chairs and ottomans , several end tables strewn with magazines plus a big , flat screen tv at the front .

" Voila ! My ' castle . ' "

Her boy twitched upon seeing the walnut wood desk and dresser and his mother's low to the floor bed and ugly , faded , blue quilted comforter .

" Jeeez , are they intentionally trying to discourage the residents ? ! "

His grievance was disrupted by the ear popping squeak from a disgruntled , fluffy , orange , brown and white patchwork potato on stubby legs .

" Mom , you have a guinea pig ? ! " Colby gawked at the bag of Timothy hay and the four feet long and three feet wide , solid bottomed , wire grid cage .

" Your eyes are going to fall out of the sockets . " Phyre chortled , shaking her head . " No , the cavy belongs to my ' neighbor . ' My roommate . "

" Ah . " her son peered outside , standing next to one of the big windows . " Plenty of natural sunlight . "

" Yes . " Phyre replied . If she thought he was acting like a fool , it went politely and kindly unmentioned .

" So ... uhhh - "the Iowan fidgeted at the plastic covered half wall room divider . He offered his mother the shopping bag . " I brought you these . "

" They'll look lovely in here . " Phyre beamed , unpacking and tearing gift wrap from a Philly LOVE snow globe , Tweety bird coffee mug and a solar powered Maneki - Neko bobble head toy . " Livens up a dull room , don't you think ? . "

" Yes ! But if you don't like them - "

" I really do . It was nice that you thought of me . "

Colby continued to squirm and pace , only braking when his stomach gurgled .

" If you're hungry - " The woman and her son observed the guinea pig gnawing on an apple tree twig . " The food here is actually highly recommended . Maybe nothing that would be served at the Golden Door spa but middle class gourmet all the same . And it's pay by the pound , my treat . "

" I'll buy ours . You don't have to - "

" Alright , stubborn , how about we split the ' check ' then ? "

" Great idea , Mom ! "

They carried their hard plastic trays to the salad bar first and loaded up on mixed greens and various vegetables and fruits , croutons and dressings , seeds and nuts .

Colby and his mother each took small dishes of bacon ranch pasta . Phyre had an apple and Colby , an orange . He chose a Mud Pie bar and she grabbed a crispy rice cereal treat .

The older woman chewed on her turkey melt in a pretzel bun while her child forked through chicken curry with a side of naan bread .

Phyre passed her son a bottled water .

" Thank you . "

" I don't want forgiveness , especially not from you . "

" But - "

" You were angry and so was I . Full of rage and disgust , sorrow and anxiety when your father left me . Mad at myself for having you , furious and chiding that I took my pain out on my child ... "

" Oh , jeez , Mom ... "

" I meant what I said . My behavior was reprehensible and harmful . "

" I wasn't any saint either . Constantly mouthing off , a pain in the neck and wayward . "

" So we agree that we're both in the wrong ? "

" Yep ! was and I won't deny it . Feeling remorseful and guilty but no denial . And anyway , my father oughta be blamed too . " Colby rose from his seat when his Mom did . He trailed after her to the place where the empty trays were dropped off .

" For what we went through during your childhood ? I agree . The only thing I can think of that he did positively was help create you . " Phyre discarding her wadded napkins into the trash bin .

" Yeah but to some people , that counts as a blunder . " the young man chuckled gently , tossing the water bottles into the recycling can .

" Well then , let's pretend they don't exist . " Phyre replied and smiled . She checked her watch and then looked at the big clock overhead . " Am I keeping you from anything ? "

" N - Not really , but ... I'd like to stay longer though I haveta get back to the motel . "

" Before you do , there's one important and special thing that I want you to see . "

The sunset was pink , purple and yellow - gold .

The labyrinth was a great , jade green circle , an incredible ,peaceful maze for the mind , spirit and soul .

They walked it , parent and child , mother and son , hand in hand , silently learning to forgive each other and themselves as well .

A wisp of smoke and laughter nearby , charcoal scent and melted marshmallows oozing , cheerful laughter and conversation around the fire pit while patients cooked S'Mores .

Sunset colors , brilliant , beautiful and wonderful lilac , burnt orange and carnation pink .

They trekked to the center and stopped .

" So what do you do after reaching the heart ? " Colby wondered , on his feet in the middle of the labyrinth .

" See things in a new light and make up your mind to where you'll end up next . " Phyre told her son and smiled .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Colby clicked the off button , squelching the vacuum's roar .

Perro and Shun also were silenced , their frantic barks ending as soon as the bizarre monster stopped making noise .

Colby shooed them from his bed and out of the room .

He did a double - take . His parents were standing in his bedroom doorway and both looked somber .

" Is everything okay ? " he asked the dumb question . " Are you - "

" James , as much as we dislike him recently , we hate to say that he has been seriously injured . " Sofia told her boy .

" Whaaaaaat ? ! " Colby gulped . He loathed that no - good turncoat creep too but didn't want him to ...

" Severely . " Raul said grimly . " Other men - wrestlers he works with - gave him quite a beating . Some ... woman ordered them to . "

" Can , uhm ... may I go and see him ? " Colby wondered , trembling . His heart sunk . He didn't have to think twice and figure out which woman they were talking about .

" In a few days . The hospital is only allowing family members . Those are their strict orders at this time . "

" And you might not want to see the shape that he's in . A janitor found him underneath a mound of tables . One arm was broken and his body is quite bruised . "

Colby felt a cold shiver run down his backbone .

The only two positives he could think of were that his ex buddy was alive and this injury was not close to as bad as the head trauma from before .

However , he looked like shit .

Jimmy's left arm was in a cast , the thumb on his right hand also had been snapped .

His sides around the ribcage wore bruises troubling to view , dark and vicious where he'd been kicked and stomped .

The olden man's face was swollen , a grape purple and blood red balloon with a black eye and tissues stuffed into both nostrils .

Despite the fact that their friendship , their entire relationship for that matter , had gone down the drain and straight to Hell , he sat with Jimmy , holding his hand until the nurse ejected him from the room .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" So , you're really moving ? "

Colby wiped the algae buildup and other slimy crud from the inside of the plastic fifteen gallon watering tubs . He had refilled the ten and twenty gallon pans while Rowan and Harper were milking and shearing the sheep .

An offer of all the money in the world couldn't convince him to take part in doing that .

" Yeah , we'll be here most of the time . " Brodie answered , holding a wiggly lamb in place and clipping an ID tag through one of its tiny , fluffy ears . " After the wedding . "

" If not here , our place in Florida . " Rowan restocked the mineral block holders with ease .

" Congrats that you're getting married ! " the Iowan pausing to sidestep a sheep that was at his heels .

" It was the right time . " Harper grinned at his partner . " To be convinced by someone so handsome and marvelous . "

" I'd go anywhere with you . " Rowan commented , a blush arising from under his bushy , copper hued beard . " Jeg elsker deg så mye , kjære . "

The young man adverted his eyes and turned scarlet . Their exchanged looks of affection were nearly as embarrassing as his parents PDA moments .

" Although we aren't best friends , I'll feel empty without you as my next door neighbors . " Colby admitted , shaking a jeans leg out of the mouth of an inquisitive lamb .

Erick chortled and scooped up the fuzzy youngster .

" Ekstra fiber , liten en ? "

" Those kids ' bout your age have expressed interest in the trailer . " Luke commented , strolling over to his beloved . " Maybe they'll become your new friends . "

Colby perked up . " Females ? "

" Guys . Those musicians from Detroit . You've met them already . "

" Oh . Yeah , I have . " Colby's shoulders slumped and found an overturned feed bucket to sit on . The jerks who had rejected him were going to become his permanent next door neighbors which depressed him more than ever .

And he still thought Front Line was a stupid name .

" Speaking of new ... I haven't been introduced yet . "

Harper looked at what his guest was - an enormous donkey and two smaller llamas grazing close to the herd of sheep .

" The mated pair - " Rowan beamed at his partner .

" Charles Darwin and Marie Curie are the llamas names . " Harper told the youth and smirked . " The donkey we named Kardashian . "

" Kardashian ? ! " Colby yelped .

" Stor rumpa . " Rowan clarified shrewdly .

 Colby laughed loudly until his body shook . When he was finally able to calm down , the young man fathomed that he envied them .

They had plans . They were doing something with their lives .

And he was at a standstill , doing nothing except letting his wheels spin in the mud .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Colby looked the bedridden man up and down , nodding . His once purple bruises were now yellow tinged green .

" That's your one improvement . Just the one . "

" Was that a backhanded compliment ? ! What's your problem anyway ? ! " Jimmy bristled .

The cream vinyl beneath his guest's tailbone squeaked when he shifted in the seat of the maple wood legged guest chair .

He swung his feet up onto the matching wood nightstand beside the hospital bed , a rule breaker to the very end .

" My problem is that you aren't ever going to come to your senses , are you ? ! Years , years that I've wasted busting my ass for you and it's thrown away for what ... for who ? A woman that doesn't care about you ! "

" She loves me . " the older man murmured , his skin tone only a tad darker than the snow white sheets he rested on .

" She kept me from rescuing you from a brutal beating ! She is with Austin Aries ! It's because of her that you were put in an insane asylum ! " Colby shouted , jumping out of the chair . " You almost fucking died and more than once ! "

" That's all Aries' fault , not hers . She's being led on - "

" You're being led on ! Listen to me , stupid ! Lacey was the one in charge of those guys assaulting you ! "

Jimmy frowned at the I.V. needle lodged in the crook of his arm .

" I should have had them break your pitiful , mosquito dick along with your fragile , wimpy ankle that night . "

" Listen here - " the Iowan hissed , totally coming undone , getting in Jimmy's face and yanking him forward by the front of the backless paper gown . " Pretend all you want that I didn't fascinate and satisfy you . Because the scratches you used to leave on my back said otherwise . And your sound barrier shattering moaning whenever I ate out your labia . "

" Whatever . Don't expect me to give a flyin ' crapola damn . " Jimmy stared past him blankly .

" Stupid , ungrateful ... have fun being alone . " Colby growled , pushing away from his former bestie and facing the hallway . " ' Cause I'm finished with you . I'm moving out of state and it will be wonderful to never have you around again ! "

" You're going to have to leave if you won't lower your voice . " An exceptionally irked nurse popped her head into the doorway and glared , deepening her wrinkles . She scowled over the top of her small , oval frame glasses . " There are patients in need of sleep . "

" Don't snort fire , lady . " Colby headed out into the hallway , pausing long enough to flip a final angry look at Jimmy . " I'm leaving and not coming back . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Colby pressed the button for heat dry cycle on the dishwasher and then faced his parents .

" I have money saved , as you already know . Not a fortune but enough to get a little place of my own . "

He took the time to scan his parents expressions . They both had wide smiles .

" And - " he continued . " Where I want to live ... return to , is Iowa . "

Raul's eyebrows dipped and Sofia looked insulted .

" Why would you ? ! ... NO ! " she blurted , her voice becoming shrill .

" Mom , take a breather . "

" I won't take anything that you say to . " Sofia snapped .

" I love it here , I really do but Des Moines is home and - "

" You are not leaving this house ! "

" Sofia , relax . " Raul pleaded .

" Mom , first of all , no offense but it's a trailer and second ... I have to , I need to go home . It may sound dumb but I miss pea salad and grilled pork chops . "

" I'll make all you want . Cook more than you can eat . " Sofia tried speaking over him .

" And ... and more than the local cuisine , I miss being with my mother . I want to go back . I have to ! "

" I said no ! No , no , nononono ! " Sofia screamed .

" Mom , would you - "

" Sofia , if you would calm down - " Raul tried and failed to stop his crying wife before she dashed out of the kitchen .

Shun and Perron whined and ran to their beds once the bedroom door slammed , rattling the trailer briefly .

Raul sighed and nodded sadly at his boy .

" I'll talk to her later . Now finish what you were saying . "

" You aren't angry ? " Colby inquired .

" I won't deny that I'm upset but I'll listen to your plans and decisions before losing my cool . "

" This isn't rejection . Far from it . I'd never leave my Dad behind , not for a million dollars or more ! "

Raul chortled . " For a billion ? You may change your mind ... "

" No way ! The only reason I'm going is mainly because - because ... "

" Having more elbowroom will make it easier for you to succeed . "

" Well , maybe not easier but - " Colby creaked the front of the dishwasher open and watched the steam billow out . " Tell her that she's my real mother , my Mom who always cares about me . "

Raul's eyes glimmered while the two men removed plates and cups from the machine .

" Better yet , you do it . "

Oooooohhh , God that didn't exist , it felt hella superb to jog for miles once more after being so long in a cast !

The Iowan wiped his sneaker soles on the outside mat and took the towel from around the back of his neck and shoulders , patting his face dry .

" ¡ Párelo ! ¡ Deje van ! " he heard fussing the instant that he trotted into the living room .

He darted down the hallway , turning to weave inside his parents bedroom and stopped .

Sofia had a wadded handful of an unidentifiable article of clothing . Shun and Perro were playfully tugging on the other end .

" Guys ! " Colby yelled , clapping his hands loudly . " That does not belong to either one of you and when she tells you to stop , you stop ! "

The small dogs whined but retreated , ears flattened against their fluffy little heads and stub tails motionless .

" They're ridiculous . " Colby sat beside Sofia . " An entire old milk crate overflowing with toys and ... did they ruin it ? "

His mother inspected the garment , shaking her head . " It doesn't look torn . "

" I'll buy you another if th - "

Sofia grumbled , narrowing her amber brown eyes and he recoiled , struck mute .

" Mom . " Colby said after the uncomfortable silence . " You're still my mother , no matter where I am or who I'm with . "

" Where is your father ? " Sofia snapped , interrupting .

The young man jolted at the chilly tone of her voice . She could've made ice cubes from scalding hot soup broth .

" He went to refill the car's gas tank and I was out running . " Colby answered , slowly wilting .

" The only man living with me that I can trust . " the woman muttered .

" Whaaaaaat ? ! You can trust me ! How am I untrustworthy ? "

Sofia giggled at first , followed by a whoop which turned into an entire belly laugh .

" What ? ! " her child whined a second time .

" Where to start , hellion ? " Sofia wiped her damp eyes . " The speeding tickets ... "

" I wasn't going that fast and besides , there was no one around . "Colby argued .

" Except for the police that caught you , that is . "

" Uhnmmm - errrrrr ... yeah , but - " the young man's cheeks heated pinkish red to his brow line .

Sofia smirked .

" And being outside naked when the neighbors could see you ! "

" They couldn't ! They didn't . " the young adult instantly objected .

He looked at the sagging drapes and thrift store furniture that needed to be replaced or repaired , everything else that was worse for wear .

Colby recognized at that moment precisely what he was going to achieve , no matter what or who was in his way .

" Using our hammock while sunbathing completely undressed . " Raul joined the conversation while entering the small space . " Son , you are a bona fide ruffian . "

" Once ! That took place one time and you shouldn't have thrown the hammock in the garbage . You could've just washed it . "

His parents looked at one another and shrugged at the same time .

" It wasn't tossed into the trash . " Raul said .

" No , Mister Jacqueline heard about what had happened and asked to keep it . "

Colby's face was the shade of absolute sunburn .

He sighed , wanting to fade into the worn carpeting , melt into the floor .

" Por supuesto . Voch' mi anaknkal . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" I can't provide furniture for you , sorry . "

" Meh , I'm a ' big boy . ' An inflatable mattress and a sleeping bag will suit me just fine . " Colby trailed behind the guy he'd met in one of the local sports bars .

" So these are ... you and the other guy can fight over who gets which bedroom . " the male fitness model and amateur bodybuilder said .

Colby peeked into the small room and whistled approval while Jessie stood by the open door , his mouth quirking into a smile .

" Three bedrooms and two baths , little over a thousand square feet and a dine in kitchen for less than nine hundred green ones a month ? ! How does this place afford to be so amazing ? "

" Well - " Godderz coughed and his cheeks flushed rose pink .

Seconds later , they heard skittering in the walls .

And ... chewing ? !

He took note of the black specks on the windowsills and yellow dots in the carpeting .

A tiny , long tailed , big eared mouse scurried across the floor and dove under the bottom of the closet door .

Jessie sighed .

" Hooray for Davenport . "

Colby echoed his displeasure , grumbling and frowning .

" Well , I ... " he tried looking on the bright side of independent living .

He feigned a cheery smile .

" A Mongolian grill , Starbucks and a Hy - Vee nearby . No sweat . I'll endure . "

Godderz and Havoc were opposites , to say the least . Colby personally vowed he wouldn't become involved with either man , not even if they asked . He also knew that he had to maintain self control since merely seeing Danny's barbed wire wrapped bat made his nether regions tingle and heart skip a beat .

Colby watched Danny unpack his lumpy gym and ancient thrift store suitcase held closed by ropes and packing tape .

He eyeballed the staple gun , Kenzan flower holder , brass knuckles and Kendo stick in speechless awe , morbid curiosity that made him twitchy .

" You savor this insane , on the razor blade edge way of living , don't you ? " Colby gulped .

Danny grinned that put the Cheshire Cat to shame .

He shrugged and petted - really stroked - a light tube happily .

" Beats milking cows and taking a shovel to clean up their shit . "

" Get out of bed , CJ ! "

Colby swatted at one of his room mates screeching in his ear and burrowed deeper under the bedding .

" Remove your carcass from my mattress . " the longer haired man yawned .

Danny Havoc used the sole on one of his work boots to kick the dozing man , rolling him back and forth .

" Wake up , shit bitch ! It's already past eight a.m. "

Colby rubbed his eyes and scowled at the hardcore wrestler.

" Shit bitch ? ! Have you been reading My Immortal again , Daniel ? "

" None of your business and quit callin ' me Daniel . It's insulting and repulsive . " Havoc snarled , mock - collapsing onto a beanbag chair that had died months ago . Neither man had yet to dispose of its corpse .

" There is a push pin stabbed into your forehead . " Colby pointed out .

Havoc smirked , picked at the early scab formation and flipped him off .

" Urgh ... umm numm nuhmm - " the longer haired male yawned a second time , stretching . " And Jessie is where ? "

Danny cracked an evil grin .

" Like you might say , there is no Godderz . "

Colby rolled his eyes and snorted , blasé and acerbic .

" You're not only a crappy wrestler but a comedic failure too . "

Havoc threw some fetid laundry at his grumpy room mate , chuckling when he wasn't glaring .

" Says the feeble - fucks excuse for a wrestler . Shit Bitch Two is out tanning , duuuuuhh ! "

Colby shook his head , dodging the crusted , yellow - brown , once white sock that Havoc had flung his way .

" Of course he's up before sunrise . Must take hours to slather on the gallons of baby oil , tanning lotion and hair products . "

" Days . " Danny countered .

" Weeks . "

" Breakfast ? "

" What ? ! ... oh , wait - breakf ... yeah , sure . "

" Cool , now get yourassoutofbed , shit bitch ! " Danny sang , sitting on until the longer haired male pushed him off . .

Colby sighed and grunted , locating and shimmying on his least threadbare pair of pajama bottoms .

" ' Kay but no dropping your nasty blood clots and scabs in my cereal this time . "

" Those were raisins . Or maybe mouse turds . Those whiskered little fucks crap every damn where . "

" Pffffft . " Colby nostril snorted , with additional sarcasm and both middle fingers skyward for emphasis . " Keep pestering me and I'll stick fridge magnets to your bridge and rest of the piercings . "

" Hey , that sounds kinda fun . " Danny grinned , owl eyed and guffawing .

" Jeez , you aren't supposed to like it ! " Colby cackled and made a mad dash to the kitchen cabinets in hopes of finding a box of cereal or packet of instant oatmeal the rodents hadn't shredded and shit their pelleted poop into this time .

He was CJ Սեվ to the guys . They weren't best friends - no going to the movies and for beer each weekend - nor were they sparring either .

He liked the new faces and got along with the unknowns , getting to know them gradually , daily .

The guys were wooden plank straight . If there was any homophobia , it was confidential .

They spent tiny moments of time together , shortened debris of hours bragging ( usually lying ) about the pussy they'd scored or watching televised sports and eating burgers , guzzling coffee and laughing .

This slice of being home was similar to driving down a highway .

Many times it was stable and uncomplicated .

Other nights , he wound up with gravel on his knees and bugs in his teeth .

Chapter Text

 

 

     

 

A blurry silhouette .

Screaming .

Popping black , white and gray flecks , spots and lines of static .

" Well . " Gabe pressed the STOP button , pausing the recording . " That's all of it , that we know of . "

" I don't understand . " Colby shook his head and wiped the sweat on his palms off in his lap . " Did he attack her or did she - "

" The cameraman was interviewed in the hospital but he can't recall most of the incident . That fall he took ... hitting the back of his head on the sidewalk ... "

Gabe sighed . He motioned to Colby and they left the production truck in silence .

" I've fired them . Both of them , no excuses , exceptions or forgiveness . She's more trouble than she's worth and he's too much of a physical risk - dangerous for my employees . "

" Yeah , I get it . " the Iowan said quietly .

He kicked around some gravel on the pavement and frowned .

" So , where is he now ? Where'd he go ? "

" The only person that knows is himself . "

" You're joking ? ! " Colby sputtered .

" I'm really not . " his boss replied , walking faster . " According to his parents , he came home , packed and left . Again . "

" He ran away and they don't care ? ! What kind of Mom and Dad aren't worried ... have no clue where their own child could be ? ! "

Gabe shrugged and stepped into the building's main lobby .

" You knew them . You tell me . "

Colby's face was campfire hot and cranberry red . He gnawed on his fingernails unconsciously .

" He could be injured , sick , de - " the younger man bit his tongue and winced at the sting . " In trouble . And they don't ... they - "

Gabe patted his upper back .

" I have people out searching for him . "

Colby's smile expanded .

" Thanks . Really , thank you ! "

" I'm not suggesting this as a way to repay me but - " Gabe shifted on his feet . " I do wish that you would re - sign . It's feeling empty at Honor after your contract expired . "

" I want to , honest , I truly do . For now though , I want to try out at with other promotions , travel , push myself harder to do more . " Colby said and gave a energetic handshake to his former boss . " I thank you for everything , all of it and I'll recommend Ring for the students , the ' kids ' , the up and coming guys and girls wanting to work . "

" Here's hoping your dreams of success come true . "

" I wish the same for you and your company . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Now woman , stay away . American woman , listen what I say ... American woman , get away from me . "

He didn't plan on outlasting the weather .

He didn't want to .

Poor life choices , irrational decisions , hedonistic errors had cost him not only the girl but the man as well .

The man .

His man .

Jimmy waded through the snow , powdery clumps of white glued to his metallic combat boots , the shiny material was the exact shade of a Purple Pizzazz Crayola crayon . Chilly air flowed down his throat , burning , each time he breathed .

He weighed the outcome , any chance of positive ending in case he expired here .

He already missed his cats . He couldn't remember much besides packing a pair of suitcases and one roomy backpack after midnight and running away without saying goodbye to his parents .

They weren't looking for him - worried , maybe - but not pacing the floors or out searching . He could sense it .

All that mattered to now was his mistreated ex-paramour , his fidus achates , his Tyler .

Jimmy shivered and plodded forward , on and on , not crying because the tears would freeze on his face .

" Don't come knocking ' round my door , I don't wanna see your face no more . "

A wasp buzz rang out in his mind and he blinked . His fingers were numb despite the black mittens and he suspected his lips were probably as blue as turquoise stones but he'd made it into ... a city ? A town ?

He was in Canada , Quebec to be precise and standing on a street that was blanketed in never ending snowfall , vehicles buried up their hubcaps and storefronts on either side of his quivering person .

One captured his attention , or more accurately the two men inside , one round-faced and short haired , grinning and cheering on a blur of a redhead , kicking his legs wildly and flailing in a mosh pit inspired series of dance moves .

Jimmy squinted , his mouth rising into laughter . There was a wrinkled piece of notebook paper taped to the inside of the glass door , facing outward .

He read the note while chuckling and shivering .

* S'il vous plaît ne laissez pas sortir le chat et le chien *

* Please Do Not Let Out The Cat And The Dog *

More flakes landed , a chilling ballet dance in the gloomy sky , painting his morbid , dark clothing a milky white as he smirked at the giant , neon letters above on the store's main sign .

" Super comics . " Jimmy shook his head , giggling and shaking underneath the baggy sweater . " Unique music . "

He summoned whatever boldness remained and took tremendous boot steps into the comic shop .

The burlier male glanced at him .

" Désolé , nous sommes fermés . "

The low-cut neckline on Jimmy's pink and black , striped , distressed soft-knit sweater drooped , exposing more of his ice-cold shoulders .

" Il ne parle pas de français . " the guy with the buzzed short , dark brown hair told the ginger .

" Un sojourner ? ! " the redhead asked and beamed . " Dayf ! "

" Un client . " the larger man answered firmly , correcting his friend . " Pas un invité . "

Jimmy scowled at the duo of unknowns . He had a feeling that they were playing mind games , teasing him and handing out insults that went over his head .

Well then , time to teach them who they were messing with ... settle the score .

Besides , it was fun to tease people .

He yanked the damp sweater over his wet hair and tied the clammy sleeves into a loose knot above his two row cone studded belt .

" I would have named this store CUM . "

The redhead immediately tugged the collar of his Misfits tee up and over his mouth and nose , like a mask and pulled the grey plaid cab driver's hat he wore down , covering his eyes .

His larger buddy bellowed thrilled laughter at his discombobulated friend and smiled with honesty at the bizarre stranger .

" You've mortified the dweeb Sami which means , by my own personal default , I cannot dislike you . "

Jimmy smiled a bit .

" You really want to be pals with me ? "

" I'll give it a shot . "

He looked at the other man - .

" How about you , rock 'n' roll ? "

The redhead chuckled .

" You live for the fight when it's all that you've got . " he quoted , smiling .

Jimmy threw his entire upper body at the startled guys , bear-hugging them .

" It's official . I really , really , really like Canada ! "

Kevin snickered , patting the weirdo's lower back .

" That's nice . So do we . "

" Except the cold parts . " Jimmy added . " I'm so for less blizzard and more beach . Somewhere tropical . "

" What was that you mentioned earlier ? " Sami wondered , incredibly pink-cheeked . " You think we should change the shop's name ? "

" Well , no , not quite . But calling it Super is kind of ignorant in my opinion . That might make customers believe all that you sell here is stuff like Batman and the Justice League . '

The two friends glanced at one another when their ' adopted ' , odd new pal spun in quick circles .

" But there's so much more . " he pointed out the records , compact disks , band logo tees , tye dye shirts and lava lamps , hemp cord and power bead jewelry .

Scattered about the shop , on racks or lying on tables were black leather jackets and Anarchy symbol patches , high top sneakers and round button pins printed with sarcastically funny sayings .

The walls were plastered with full-color two by two posters including black light .

An assortment of novelty toys and action figures , music zines and books about street style were displayed next to the couch and chair ' reading room ' part of the store .

Hundreds of comic books from every genre , the crates of marked down items and the limited edition collectible merchandise filled the rest of the space .

Kevin laughed again .

" We try , anyway . Me . I do , not the idiot here . "

Sami glared .

" Kismet won't like hearing that you're insulting me . " he scolded .

Kevin's face became crimson .

" Then don't tell her ? " he begged , whiny and stuttering .

His red-haired buddy smiled , smug at having the advantage .

" Have you stuck in a corner , don't I , Kevster ? "

" Who is Kismet ? " he figured being nosy would defuse any brawling oncoming , plus he liked getting to know people too .

" She looks like her but a lot prettier ... beautiful . " Kevin answered , still tripping on his words , his cheeks warm and red as cooked marinara sauce .

Jimmy glanced at the huge poster of the beaming , gorgeous , svelte young woman with flowing pecan brown hair that the big man was gazing at .

According to the bold typeface on the picture , her name was Shania Twain .

" And Steeny- Boo the koala bear is twitterpated . " Sami announced gleefully with a smirk , pulling up a chair .

Jimmy took a seat on a beanbag flecked with dog fur and cat hair , his loose fitting sweatpants over leggings keeping him warm from belly to ankles .

Kevin groaned but didn't deny what his friend had declared .

" Her parents were my host family back when I was an exchange student and while I waited for my mother and father to move here . " Sami continued .

Jimmy chewed on the corners of his mouth and his eyebrows rose and forehead wrinkled .

" Sami's originally from Syria , born and raised . " Kevin explained , standing with his broad back facing the glass top counter where the cash register sat . " Lived there until he became a young adult , early twenties , old enough to move away and go out on his own . "

" He and Kismet were introduced to each other at a concert ... a rock concert . " Sami carried the small talk , snickering . " She cursed him out - "

" In French . " Kevin beamed proudly .

" Yes , in French . " Sami chortled . " When Kevin used the top of my head as a drink coaster ! "

" I apologized ! " Kevin said .

" To her . " Sami crossed his eyes , grinning . " Not to me . Too smitten by a pretty face . "

" Pretty , beautiful everything . " Kevin mumbled , his pink skin deepening to nearly purple-tinged garnet .

" The three of us have been BFFs ever since that night . " Sami finished and winked . " Although somebody wants to be more than friends ... "

Jimmy giggled .

He was dry , toasty and revived , sitting with current friends that felt in his heart like they were ones he'd known all of his life .

" Urgh . " he fanned beneath the plain black tee . " Would it bother either of you if I took this off for awhile ? I promise that there's another layer under it . "

Kevin snickered .

" Okay , but no stripping nude or flashing us . "

Sami nodded , stuck the earbuds back into place and resumed dancing .

He became stationary once his view landed on the blood red , black and white tank-style top .

Kevin also was immobile .

Sami coughed , then asked .

" Who's Necro Butcher ? "

" Every woman should have a role model . " Jimmy replied and then balked , catching his error before it expanded . " And men ! A man also ought to have a hero . "

Kevin's pupils dilated but he said nothing .

Jimmy cold - sweated inside his top printed with the image of one hardcore inspiration in particular .

" Sooooooo - " Sami chirped , saving the day . " Do you watch any of it ? "

Kevin snorted , laughed sarcastically and lightly thumped his friend on the nose .

" Ouch ! Stop it ! " The redhead griped , rubbing his nose and scowling .

" Of course he does ! Why else would he be wearing a shirt featuring a pro wrestler if he wasn't a fan ? "

" Ohhhhhhh . " Sami said , lips parted . " Well , okay , yes , that makes sense . "

Kevin shook his head and sighed heavily .

" And you claim to not be an idiot . "

" I'm not ! " Sami responded , his voice raised .

He closed his mouth and smirked soon after .

" Kip Stern . "

Kevin looked to be both abashed and honored at the same time .

" Show him the photos , . He'll love them . "

" Pictures ? " Jimmy wondered , his mouth scrunched up as he sat , perplexed .

" They're upstairs . " Sami said .

" We live over the store . " Kevin added . " Us and the animals . "

" You own this entire building ? ! " Jimmy whistled , trotting behind them . " Welllll-thee ! "

Kevin smirked , lurching up the steps .

" My parents own this place , not either of us . And we are anything but rich , though we don't always having problems keeping the bills paid . "

" I sort the merch , put it on display and out for sale , occasionally run the cash register . " Sami cut in .

" I unload the trucks when the shipments arrive each week and do some cleaning when I have the time . " Kevin commented .

" Ah . " Jimmy felt phlegmatic , detached in spite of the realization that he was going into the bedrooms of two men he'd just met .

Then , he shrugged off the worries . He personally thought that he had made worse mistakes , he mentally notified himself and didn't care about outcomes any longer .

The very tiny rooms were sparsely decorated , both black and white which included bedding and paint . Sami had posters of hockey players pinned above the wooden headboard . Kevin's space revealed a few wildlife and zoo books and magazines on top of an old , scratched coffee table and not much else .

Their shared bathroom contained a narrow linen closet stacked with rust-brown and forest green towels , one shower stall and no tub , a white basin sink and in the far back corner , a cat's high sided litter box barely hidden behind a wobbly divider screen .

The plants in hanging baskets were faux . The kindness and contagious cheerfulness was sincere .

In the hallway , across from the bedrooms and tacked high up on the pale grey-blue painted wall , out of the feline's reach was a big framed photo , signed .

Jimmy squinted and peered , blinked and craned his neck , rubbed his eyes and grinned .

" You met Dusty ? ! Luuuuuuuuckeeeeeeeee ! "

Kevin chortled .

" He was in the area , driving though actually with his sons and for the sole purpose of hunting down classic albums , dropped in for a look . "

" Kip Stern ? " Jimmy read the autograph with his throat dry all of a sudden and voice growing hoarse .

" Guilty . " Kevin held up a wide , strong hand and beamed . " I can't feel more honored and ... blessed , I'll say , for him , a true Legend to get my name wrong . Steen , Stern , tomato , toe-mah-dough . "

" I'm guessin ' then that Rami Sebei is our rock and roll shoes , danger baby ? " Jimmy giggled once more .

" Well , that's one Hell of a way to describe - " Kevin paused and snickered . " Yeah . "

" Uhmn ... who's the Lucha ? " Jimmy tilted his head , frowning .

" Sami ! " Kevin guffawed , looking over at the smiling , blushing ginger .

" I'm a big El Santo fan . " Sami bragged happily .

" It's the only thing big about you . " Kevin commented .

" Oh , shut up . "

" So , you dressed as - " Jimmy laughed so hard he had to stop and gasp for a breath before glancing again at the photo of  chipper Dream , bored Dustin and petulant Cody .

And a frowning , embarrassed Steen next to Zayn costumed in a Lucha mask and flowing cape , long tights and knee high boots .

" Chest hair like a colony of squirrels . " Jimmy cracked .

" It'd take a gallon of wax to pry through . " Kevin joked .

" Insultant de moi . " Zayn pouted .

Jimmy put his arms over the backs of his friends necks cheerfully .

" Awwwwh , both of us love you , our baby hockey goon . "

" You should because I happen to be quite likeable . " Sami responded automatically .

" El Generico . " Kevin kept on teasing . " Because you're oh-so- average . "

" Maybe but unlike you , I don't get gassy after having poutine . " Sami snapped , then cracked up laughing .

Jimmy didn't laugh that time . He thought about how he might get in the ring again but what was the point now when he'd lost his Ty for good .

HIS Tyler .

For Good .

Gone from his life and returning to scuzzy , white-trash Moxley's .

He shrimp-curled , wanting and attempting to hide , to burrow and vanish , to be nothing and fade away , human glass , a popped bubble .

He trembled and wailed , screaming and weeping until four arms swaddled him , bringing peace back into his mind that his heart had desecrated .

" You cry as long as you need to , get it off your chest . " Steen whispered , patting his lower back . " I've cried . It's nothing to be ashamed of doing . "

" If ... if you want to , I have a collection of taped Mystery Science Theater 3000 . We can watch 'em and eat snacks and - and throw a slumber party ! " Zayn offered , peppy , supportive , optimistic Sami .

Jimmy tried to recall something in French to tell them , a way to express gratitude and say thanks for these genuine friends he suddenly , honestly loved one hundred percent .

He sniffled and hoped there wasn't any gross snot dangling from his nostrils .

He smiled with his mouth and heart at them , his friends .

" Oui . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Every weekend , they had a sleepover - slumber party and he became more accustomed to their lifestyle . The chilly weather he swore to never accept , however .

Like Tigger bouncing and crash-landing atop of Pooh and friends , one morning Sami woke him by a similar , joyous , energetic leap .

" Whaaaaaaaaa ? ! "

" Morning , sparkle ' n ' sunshine ! "

" Grmph . Uhnm . Morning , rockin ' Red . "

" This afternoon , we're going to the Galeries de la Capitale . You and I , Big Teddy Bear , panda man Kevster and Kismet . "

Jimmy yawned and smiled , wiggling inside the sleeping bag .

" That's what ? An art gallery ? "

" Shopping center . " Sami answered . " A mall . "

" A mall ? ! " the darker haired man jumped out of the sleeping bag , tripping and would've face-planted had Zayn not caught him . He was tired , aghast and had yucky crust buildup in the corners of each eye . . " At long last , the weather warms up and turns pleasant and we'll be indoors , in a mall ? "

" Only for two hours . " the redhead tried pacifying his odd buddy . " Three , tops . And it will be fun . Today is going to be enjoyable . "

" Says you . " complained , reaching for his mountain of makeup . " I need ... urrrghh ! The toilet , sink , a shower . "

Sami hugged him from behind , beaming and chuckling .

" Going to be one of those days , eh , partner ? "

Kevin stopped en route for Kismet , who was everything that the big man had described and more , polite , outgoing and had inner strength along with inner beauty .

The outside was also gorgeous , likewise and just as Kev had said , favored Shania but was prettier with comparable long brown hair and a smile that could've broke hearts any place on Earth .

Sami and Jimmy intentionally sat in the backseat , privately collaborating on their matchmaking plans , though Kevin didn't seem to need any help whatsoever with his love life .

" I'm not meant to ice skate , so says my bruised tailbone . " the dark haired man commented , straggling along behind his red haired pal . They retrieved their footwear from the rink's accompanying post office mailbox size lockers .

" Although hockey happens to be one of my favorite activities , playing and watching it , I'm not going to make you go out there again . "

Jimmy smiled at one of his two current friends . Being besties with Kevin and Sami and the continuous daydreaming notion of slitting Mox's throat and carving lines on his ugly face , using the skates blades , tickled him .

" There's Kev and Kismet ! " Sami said and waved at the approaching pair .

Jimmy hurridly whispered before they were close enough to hear him .

" If they get married , I seriously want to be invited to the wedding . "

Sami grinned slyly .

" And when they renew their vows each year after . "

" Yeah ! " the wildly dressed man agreed and high - fived Zayn .

" What's yeah ? " Kevin asked , his forehead scrunched into curving , deep lines .

" Nothing . " Xio replied , lowering his silver glitter , cat eye shades and flicking his dark blue mascara coated lashes .

" Oh , just a word . That's all . " the redhead smiled mischievously , a spark in his eyes .

" Boys , please . " Kevin grunted and cracked a genuine smile .

" Photo booth ! " Jimmy spied the digital kiosk as they were leaving .

" No . " Kevin told him automatically .

" It may be entertaining , if we gave it a try . " Kismet said .

Kevin did a double - take when his crush smiled .

" Once , only once and then we have to go . " he informed a suddenly giggling Zayn .

Sami tagged along , tripping and knocking down his companions just inside the booth , human being bowling pins toppled and scattered .

He face-planted , groaning . Jimmy wound up in Kevin's lap and Kismet was pressed into a back corner , grimacing .

" Kismet ! " Kevin gasped , swiftly pushing his American friend aside . " Are you injured ? "

" I'm fine but I believe that there is gum on my shoe . "

" Everyone out ! " Kevin commanded . " This is an emergency . Kismet probably stepped in gum . "

" It is nothing to fret about . "

" Yes , it is because of you . "

Jimmy made it to his feet , smoothing the wrinkles from his memorable apparel and pushing the unconventional sunglasses back far up on the bridge of his nose .

He couldn't keep from grinning , watching the man and woman blush and smile and stare at one another , shy and excited .

" Urgh . " Zayn shook like a wet dog , muttering and wiping his face with the tail of his shirt .

" Come with me , we'll go wash off in the restroom . " Jimmy offered , helping from the floor .

On their way to meet back with Kevin and Kismet , they saw at a distance , the pair perched on a bench , chatting and obviously focused on each other .

" I hope that they fall in love . " Sami cooed and gawked , elated . " And get married . "

" I have a marvelous purple suit to wear when they do . " Jimmy bragged , throwing an arm over his amigo's shoulders .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Canned soup ? ! " Danny shrieked after flopping into a chair and scooting close to the little , round kitchen table . " This isn't like you at all . "

" It's beef with vegetables and barley . It's healthy ! " Colby replied , acting like he didn't hear the complaint . " Plus cherry , orange or grape Popsicles for lunch dessert . Or leftover packaged , pre-made Rice Crispy treats , if you want those instead . "

Danny eyed the meal , in wonder and chagrin .

" Are you sick ? Do you have a cold or the flu or somethin ' ? ... "

" I'm feeling totally fine , nothing wrong . " Colby grunted , stirring the soup in his bowl and frowning .

" You always cook ! " Danny sputtered . " Unless you're ill , so you're wrong - "

" I'm just ... restless , that's all . " Colby barked , watching steam rise and curl above his portion of the hot lunch .

" Oh , well , that's your libido . " Havoc said , grinned and ate .

" My libido ? ! " Lopez squawked , jumping in his seat as if he'd been electric static zapped .

Danny chortled . " You need to get laid . "

" Not what your girlfriend told me last time she jumped my bones , but thanks anyway . " Colby smirked and laughed .

" Shiiiiiit Biiitch . " Danny mumbled , then beamed , his facial expression brightening . " Hey , if you are sick , you could pass the germs to me , then I could give ' em to stupid garbage Callihan , make him sick and win tonight's easily . Not that I need help beating that scuzzball's fat ass . "

Colby took note of the in his face opportunity to take advantage of , for his own selfishness and skin twitching desires .

" Doesn't sound like the best idea to take on Sami alone . I've heard that his squad has both of the Crists in it and they don't play nice or fair . "

" I don't fear them . " Danny scoffed . " Or his thunder thighs girlfriend either . "

Colby grimaced .

" That isn't a very polite thing to say , insulting a woman and her physical appearance . "

" Yeah , well - " responded , wiping his mouth with a shirt sleeve instead of using a napkin and frowned . " I'm no gentleman . "

" Who would have guessed ? " Colby took a cherry Popsicle from the freezer and tore into it .

Danny snickered , grabbing an orange flavor frozen treat .

" I could team with you and fight them , Midwest brawling . Corn dogs versus buckeyes ! " Lopez yelled , standing in his chair .

Havoc looked on , amused .

" Sit down , corn dog , before you fall and bust your skull . "

" I have nervous energy to spare that can't be curbed from watching two a.m. infomercials by my lonesome . " Colby complained , parking his rump .

" Okay , I fold ! " Danny said . " But only this one time ... one night deal , an exception since Godderz is being wined and dined by some producers of a televised bodybuilding competition show - "

" And - " Colby interrupted . " His girl is with him , so who knows when he'll return ' home ? ' "

" After the overflowing condom is removed and their fancy , expensive brunch gets cold . " Danny smirked and laughed . " Fine then , human pest . Frikkin ' mosquito . You win . "

Colby smiled .

" Yeah , I did . "

" Sooooooo , washyer diet noses ... diagnosis , Doc Warts ? " Havoc asked , saucy beneath his crimson mask .

Younger sighed and grumbled some choice words , shifting the penlight beam from the crater-like laceration atop the aching man's battered head to his bruised , swelling ears .

" Yep , I can see all the way through . " he said with a laugh . Colby stopped wringing his hands in the corner and cackled .

" Asshole . " Danny griped , upturning another open can of beer over his cranium , drenching the ugly , deep wound .

Colby cringed , no longer chuckling .

Drake sighed again and trotted to the doorway .

" I'll go and find out what's taking the paramedics so damn long . "

Colby nodded anxiously , watching Danny who kicked his legs out , flailing and snickering .

" Alone at last ! C'mere , gimme a kiss . "

Colby sneered , backed away and shook his head , wide-eyed .

" You are drunk off of your ass ! "

Havoc lunged at him , tackling him and clutching a wrist in a pit bull's biting grip .

" Let go , Danny ! Stop ! "

The bleeding male refused to comply and not retreating , crammed his mouth onto the other man's .

" Hey , Drakey ! How's slumming tonight , man ? "

Colby mentally whimpered at the sound of Jon's voice and furiously shoved Danny aside but not before he was caught in the act .

" Told you so . " Sami nudged his Mox with a sharp , knobby elbow and scoffed , lighting a cigarette .

" My Drakey ain't the only one with bottom of the trash barrel low standards , huh ? " Jon spoke quietly , tears and scorn in his tone of voice , trembling and glaring , eyes locked on the two Iowans .

Colby wiped Havoc's thick , smeared blood off of his fingertips , scowled at Callihan who wore a triumphant , cavalier , possessive and jealous smile .

He pushed past him and chased after Jon .

" Watch it ! " the two guys he'd accidentally ran into - one with black-tipped golden blonde locks knotted into tiny braids , loads of smeared kohl eyeliner and pushing a wobbling grocery cart brimming with hardcore weapons of all types and a Frankenstein's monster toy doll .

Lopez squeaked a hasty , shivering apology , weaving around the second guy - lanky and smoking , beer can in hand and very short white-blonde hair , an alcohol guzzling , chain-smoking cross between Billy Idol and a scarecrow in appearance .

He puffed and wheezed and didn't pause for a complete breath until he was outside , in the dark , under starlight and the moon which he hoped weren't judging and mocking him .

Colby saw a firefly's signal flicker , orange - red , coaxing him to go on .

" Hey . " he sat beside Jon and waved away the coiling plume of cigarette smoke .

" You and Danny ? I thought you had more sense and better taste than being with a guy who attaches mouse traps snapped closed on his tongue . "

The Iowan watched his buddy puff and grimace , crushing the lit end dead on the concrete slab his backside rested on .

" We're sharing an apartment , not living together living together . " Colby huffed , growling .

" Uhm , hello ? He kissed you ! "

" And I hated every second of it . "

" If you say so , champ . " Jon muttered .

The darker haired man looked back at the closed Fire Exit double doors behind them and scowled .

" What do you have right now ? Pointless jealousy and a load of nicotine in your system ? ! "

" And you beside me . That's most of the all that I want and need . At this time . Card subject to change , athletes too . "

Colby laughed , grinned and swayed from the instant rush that made him feel hot shower water warm inside .

" If I could ... if things weren't the same as they are now - "

The blonde smiled , a half - smirk of delight .

" We'd be living together ? " Jon finished his friend's sentence .

" Yesssssss . " Colby lightly blushed . His reply had came out as a lengthy groan , unintended .

Jon's smirk grew and he scooted close enough to touch .

" I can read your mind sometimes . "

" You can read ? " the brunette scoffed and was quick to chortle so his friend would know that he was kidding . " Liar ! "

Jon placed a hand around his friend's chin , lifting and cupping his jaw .

" Look at me . I'll allow you to blink but keep your eyes straight on me , okay ? "

" What are you plann ... ooooooohhhhhhhhhhh ! "

The empty hand went to work , in use with active fingers kneading and grazing .

Colby caught his breath , tried for composure , leaned in and brushed his tongue over Jon's , melding those parts , licking and delicately pulling .

" Do the same to me . " the blonde said , sucking on an earlobe .

The Iowan nodded dreamily , his fingers quavering the same as his lower lip was and he located his friend's genitals , releasing the penis from mangled denim and cartoon character patterned boxer briefs .

Jon massaged the flesh of Colby's scrotum , rubbing and carefully squeezing the enlarging dick .

" First one who shoots their sticky , stickay load buys the beer . " he grinned , panting .

" That'd be me then . " the Iowan looked down at the mess of white goo and sighed .

" Half and half . " his golden haired buddy searched through his torn jeans pockets and extracted a few wadded , ketchup stained brown paper napkins . " Here ya go . "

Colby frowned , eyebrows twitching when he looked at the mildly soiled cloth but gave in and wiped his skin and hairs clean .

" Okay , how 'bout one of us pays for the adult beverage and the other buys either burgers or pizza ? " Jon suggested , zipping .

" That's all you ever think about ! " the brunette teased . " Fries , potato chips , beer and other alcoholic beverages , pizza and getting laid ! Shit ! ... how about going for ice cream too , big guy ? "

Jon beamed , laughed and jingled the keys to his shabby rental car .

" You read my mind . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" You shouldn't have recommended me ! " Joe dove in with the big clippers furiously , trimming the front hedges at lightning speed .

His Dad plucked the dried , shriveled brown leaves , collected the sheared branches and shoved them into a thirty gallon trash bag .

" My opinion is that you should go for it . In fact , I encourage you to try . "

" They'll only want me because of my name - " Joe sputtered , swatting away mosquitoes and gnats buzzing and dive-bombing his hair . " My famous wrestling family ! "

" You won't know that unless - " the older man smiled peacefully .

His son rolled his eyes , the feeling of being perturbed slowly left him and he grinned .

" I know , yeah , I know ... "

" You are strong and don't know how strong ... yet . " Sika told him , smirking .

Joseph laughed , grabbing the rake and finishing the clean-up .

" Thanks , Dad ! "

He turned and saw through the front windows Gerlinde in the recliner , beaming and talking softly .

He melted at the sight . Gerlinde and the wrapped bundle that she held were lona soifua , lona alofa .

Then , contemplating , he cringed .

" I'll have to tell anyone that I work for - Vince , Hunter , whoever - about ... " Joe paused and frowned , shutting his eyes for a second . " No one at all will want me working for them then . I'll be seen as a weakling in their eyes . They can look down on me as a nobody . "

His father silenced him by touching foreheads , a Maori greeting more than anything from his relatives but Joe appreciated it nonetheless .

" E masani ona e faʻafeiloaʻi iinei . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" It stinks . "

" Nightly news report , Jay Sherman ? "

" It does ! "

" You're exaggerating . " Sami kicked his booted toes into the grass , flinging dirt in an arc .

" Take a whiff . " Mox challenged him .

Sami climbed into the rickety RV , breathed in , coughed , gagged and spat .

" Told ya . " Jon hopped behind the wheel and tapped on the horn a few times , the honk a worn out and feeble croak .

" It's nothing that can't be fixed by cracking a window open ... spraying some air freshener - "

" You're green . " his buddy pointed out , smiling .

" Yeah , but - " Callihan sighed . " You can't hitch all the way to Florida , tough stuff . Just borrow the damn RV and I'll get it back when you're done using it . "

" Thanks , man but naaaahhh . It's easy to distract people and sneak on a plane flight , dontcha know ? "

Sami snickered , recalling the wildest , crazier times they'd spent getting into trouble - and occasionally arrested - having fun and being together .

" Yep , I know . "

Jon grinned , pretended to growl and pounced , swatting at his friend who ducked , was slapped on the arm and laughed .

" Is it such a smart idea ? " Sami asked , reclining in the passengers seat . He passed the cigarette to Jon , who inhaled , eyes closed . " Trusting complete strangers to meet with in Florida ? ! "

" I'm headed there anyway . " Jon took another drag and gave the cigarette back . " And maybe they're incomplete , in pieces . "

Sami glared and rolled his eyes .

" I'll be okay ! For your info , I have a chainsaw packed along with my underwear . "

Callihan snickered .

" So it's your second weapon then . "

" And you think that my jokes are bad ! Look , Suitcase deserves a better , healthier environment than drying up and maybe suffering in the desert . Those guys are weird , yeah but they do wildlife rescue and the one with the scraggly beard and pop-eyes owns some wetlands , so - "

The darker haired male nodded .

" His ' friend ' - who in my opinion is more than a friend , by the way - creeps me out . " Sami's upper lip curled and he shivered . " Those , grisly and spine-chilling handmade sheep face masks ... brrrr ! "

" Ah , two of them , only of me . " Jon bragged . " They have zero chance of withstanding me and my wrath . "

" Yeah . " Sami took off the artificial shearling lined , distressed and slightly fading , long brown leather jacket he wore and placed it in his ' brother's ' lap .

" What's that for ? " his friend eyed the garment with suspicion .

" Your wrath . " Callihan beamed . " And in case you get cold . "

" Well , yeah ... even Florida's bound to be chilly now and then . How else can they make frozen orange juice ? "

" They concentrate . " Sami teased , embracing his crush .

" Go with ? " Jon asked . " I wouldn't mind having a kick-ass , brawling , goofball brother to partner with . "

" Me working ... there ? ! " his buddy wrinkled his nose and looked offended . " They wouldn't understand me and I wouldn't like them . Too stuffy and micromanaged in old Vinny Mac's small world . He takes the fun out of wrestling . "

" Ah , well . Maybe one day . " Jon sighed , tugging the big coat on into a grungy and wonderful , perfect fit .

Sami removed the gas mask that was placed on the top of his head and gave it to the guy that he loved most of all .

" Not to keep warm with ? " the blue eyed male joked .

" It'll be a breath of fresh for you the next time that your life stinks . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Someone from the wrestling world called you . " Danny said to Colby the instant he walked out of the bathroom , kimono-cut , waffle-knit robe tied and a big white towel clumped on his head .

" Who ? D'Lo again ? " he asked , straight from the shower he'd taken after cooking their post-workout meal , scrambled eggs and wheat toast , bananas smeared with peanut butter , a green juice and coconut water to drink . Danny stopped vacuuming . Jessie was loading the dishwasher .

" No , the French Canadian pirate from Connecticut . " Havoc answered before flicking the On switch , bringing the previously roaring cleaning machine ' back to life . '

" Pirate ? ! " Colby yelled , totally confused .

" Yesssssssss ! I told him you were washing up so he said that he'd call you back in a few minutes ! " Danny shouted .

Jessie sighed , rolled his eyes and wished for ear plugs .

Colby made a face and sprinted into his room , calling loudly back over my shoulder .

" Don't mess with my phone again , okay ? "

" Then quit leaving it out in the open where anybody could get a hold of it ! " Danny bellowed , grinned and winked before giving a warning that no one knew then was also a prediction . " That will bring you some serious crappy trouble one day . "

" Mmmmphh . " Colby grumbled , flipping him off .

" What ? ! " Godderz squealed after noticing his easy going room mate's starry eyed expression , an eos and genesis that transformed his face with shimmering pride .

" What ? ! " Havoc echoed , looking on with curiosity .

" It ... w-was Hunter . He and Vince - they ... saw my tapes that were sent in , liked my work and called me in for a tryout - I - I got the call ! "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" I don't know where I'm going but I sure know where I've been . "

Colby dried his hair and combed it before yanking a Ring Of Honor tee over his head , wriggling the black cotton blend over his damp torso .

" Hanging on the promises and songs of yesterday . "

He picked a gym bag and two suitcases , one on wheels and started packing .

" And I've made up my mind , I ain't wasting no more time . "

Joe splashed warm water on his light brown face and went back into the guest room of his Dad's small house .

" Though I keep searching for an answer , I never seem to find what I'm looking for . "

He packed a few little framed photos of his parents and brother .

" Oh , Lord , I pray you give me strength to carry on . "

Pictures of his newly made family , a cross pendant necklace and his Mom's old rosary beads , black , silver and matte gold .

" 'Cause I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams . "

Jon tapped his fingers , drumming , on the steering wheel as he waited in the drive - thru's long line for his fast food order .

" And here I go again on my own . Goin' down the only road I've ever known , like a drifter I was born to walk alone . "

A horn blasted behind him and he restrained himself from flipping the bird .

" I've made up my mind , I ain't wasting no more time . "

Colby loaded the trunk of the rental car and waved goodbye to Jessie Godderz and Danny Havoc , to their mouse piss stained apartment , to Iowa .

For awhile , anyway .

" But , here I go again . "

Joe smiled , opening the passenger side door for his Gerlinde .

" Here I go again . "

Jon chomped on yummy , salted hot fries , slurped diet soda and munched on a double cheeseburger in traffic while surrounded by impatient drivers who pined for the green light .

" Here I go again , here I gooooooooooo ! "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" If you need us for anything - "

" I'll run down and join you for the lunch break . " Jimmy recited , opening the snap-lid plastic container and pouring dry kibble into the dog's bowl .

" And the pets ... " Sami filled the water dishes and placed them on the kitchen floor .

" Keep watch on the cat so she doesn't escape and use the fire escape to take the dog outside . Otherwise , he has the leak-proof pads to go on . " Kevin repeated the commands of chores from earlier .

" Anytime , Kevsie-Bear . " Jimmy grinned , waving them out of the room and down the stairs . " Have fun during Free Comic Book Day . "

l Kevin aughed and mocked swooning while Sami pretended to catch his burly , fainting form .

" Ah , if only ! We are going to be exhausted . "

" Tonight's meal is my treat then . You and Red pick the restaurant . "

" I'll pass the message along . " Steen nodded .

Later on , Jimmy sashayed happily downstairs , humming and whistling along with a popular song playing on the shop's radio .

" I'm buying lunch ! " he declared , hopping onto one of his favorite ' perches ' , the front counter .

" Ma fi alealam ! " Zayn blurted , gawking at the funky outfit - black fishnet shorts over cobalt mens underwear , leather chaps in the same ebony shade , a holographic pale purple choker with attached faux barbed wire chains , a ribbed , white , scoop-neck womens cotton tank top , a glimmering eggshell tone cowboy hat and Doc Martins Yelena sandals .

" That's , uh , that's ... " Kevin stammered , blushing . " You'll have to change into something more appropriate when the store re-opens . "

" It's my ode to the Calgary Stampede but with a Julie Winters inspired twist . " their strange friend smiled , wiggling his toes to flaunt obsidian tinged , lacquered nails . " I dropped in to show you before I run back upstairs to put my tee and jeans back on . "

" Wheeeewwwwwww ! " Kevin and Sami exhaled in relief at the same time .

The pug was suddenly alert . He barked , lunged at and gave chase to the already disgruntled cat .

" Corby ! " Zayn screeched , tackling the dog and holding his squirming , chubby body . " What is wrong with you today , Carlins et bisous ? Don't torment Corby . "

" Take Carl back upstairs . " Kevin demanded . " And then , return for your feline . "

Sami flew up the stairs with a wriggling and fussing canine in his arms . The solo cat panted , her fluffed and raised fur lowering and flattening bit by bit .

The sounds from a car zipping by and the honking of a horn was Corby's breaking point . She scaled Jimmy's legs , hissing and clawing the whole time .

" Bon sang ! " Kevin hollered , detaching the feline's claws and Velcro-like grip . " Sami , come and get this mad cat of yours before and I need blood transfusions ! "

Sami again hurried to their rescue , hoisting the upset cat , oblivious to what his first friend was seeing .

" You ... uhm , can clean your wounds in the restroom . " Kevin tripped over the words when he spoke . " I'll find some bandages for you . "

" Thank you . " the non-Canadian said quickly and ran as fast as he could , sensing that the color blazing on his cheeks matched the bright red on Kev's .

Hand soap foam scented like pears and apples , warm water and a dry towel to use as the minutes passed and Steen reappeared , knocking politely before entering and looking ill-at-ease .

" I brought you one of your tees , a pair of jeans and ... underwear . " Kevin stammered .

The towel around the smaller man's waist did not fall . He had a weak but grateful smile and his torn skivvies balled up at his feet .

" Are you going to tell our Red about me ? How I look , what you saw ? " he asked , just a whisper .

" I dunno , are you going to tell him that I have a penis ? " Kevin responded , placing a broad arm over and across the other male's thin shoulders . " I'll walk with you back to your part of the rooms . "

Jimmy searched his friend's kind face , his eyes and expression . He couldn't find any abhorrence or wariness , simply an open mind and serenity .

" If he is curious - " he began .

" What is it that people say in the U.S. ? " Steen chuckled . " Tell our dweeb that compared to his own , mine is bigger . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Colby hoisted the duffel higher on one shoulder and scanned the room , trying to decide where to sit .

The gathering was a divided one with the male attendees seating separated from the women .

The thick shoulder length , golden hair made Trips easily identifiable , along with his hard to forget face . The Iowan grinned a little - people who were joking around would have called them Nose Brothers .

" Nose Bros . " he snickered .

An older man with magnificent , light brown , flawlessly groomed locks and a bitter apple mouth pucker sat mere inches from the ring . Like Hunter , he held a clipboard , a sharpened pencil and a small hill of papers .

Unlike Hunter , his face was stern and possibly unwelcoming . Seriousness was upfront in his eyes .

Colby gulped and trotted on .

He huffed and thought for a minute , then chose a place directly in front of two guys who he considered had the coolest hair , runners up his own .

Being shallow never bothered him much .

One of the men's face lit up like a little kid's expression would have if they got to run wild in a toy store , animated and frenetic .

He yanked on his long , light brown hair tied back into a ponytail and gave a hyena grin .

" Hallo daar ! I'm Leeeeeooooo Krrrrruuuugerrrrrrr . " the strange guy bleated , rolling his Rs .

The younger male beside him smirked . His darker , nearly jet black hair was spiked into little points and falling over his eyes , an emo mix of faux-hawk and mullet .

" Ja , hallo . Ek is PJ Black . " PJ flipped his hair back dramatically , smugness and oddly enough , boredom glittering in his midnight eyes .

Colby smiled weakly , confused but succeeding in being polite .

He did what his parents would have and shook each guy's hand .

" Well , that makes two of us , kinda . I'm Tyler Black . "

PJ stared at him , looking him up and down as though he were a piece of meat and he was a hungry lion .

Colby returned the pining , curious glance briefly before turning forward to face the already set-up ring , same as most of the other men and women were also doing .

He had a few magazines packed in his gym bag - the latest issues of Rolling Stone , Eating Well , Men's Health and Revolver - and he thumbed through each while some other wrestlers and wannabes arrived , shuffling into the building .

" Ooooh , a bun-ny ! " Leo squealed behind him and his companion groaned , rolling his eyes .

" Not a rabbit . " Colby heard PJ scolding . " Only a silly drawing on a tee shirt . "

Something or someone bumped him , knocking his chair forward over an inch and he prepared to fist-fight the jerk who had did it intentionally .

Breath in his ear , hair and on his neck , a warm and gentle caress .

" Whatcha reeeeeeeeadin ' ? "

The Iowan squeaked and grinned , almost falling out the chair before he turned and pounced , bear-hugging and cheering .

Had they been alone ,  he would have kissed his friend ... and done more . He swatted at the Playboy rabbit head logo on Jon's grungy , discount bin tee .

" Unholy crap , Jon , it's so cool that you're here ! "

" Vending machine ! " his friend broke from the loving embrace , his hunger for junk food a distraction .

" Wait , I have snac- " Colby said to no avail . Jon was already digging through his jeans and jacket pockets .

An object fell on the floor , spun and popped open , making a tiny ' click ' sound .

Hunter and the unknown man were on their feet in a flash , both scowling .

" A knife ? ! You brought a switchblade in here ? ! " Trips ' voice rose .

Colby stayed at his buddy's side , unsure how to help him .

" If you would allow me to - " the other man chimed in patiently , with a very gentlemanly accent . " I'll deal with this since I have some past experience with a street fighter's weapons . "

Colby swallowed part of his worries and could see that everyone in the crowd had owl eyes , gawking and whispering , elbowing each other and a few were pointing .

Effortlessly , the older male took the knife , depositing it into one of the ' hidden ' pockets sewn inside his dapper , possibly silk or satin vest's inner lining .

Jon's jaw begged to detach and tumble , landing at his feet when he was handed a pair of scuffed , chrome plated brass knuckles .

The murmurs became louder as the wrestlers and ones hoping to be chattered , awestruck .

" Uhmm , yeah , Hi ? You can't take my knife . It's a gift from one of my best buds ! " Jon glared .

Colby gasped and sucked his lower lip in . His stubborn boyfriend was in a pickle now , up to his neck in brine .

" I'll return it when you hold your championship title belt first ... here , for this promotion . "

" Then I'll never get it back . " Jon snarled .

" My advice is to not give up on yourself this soon . " Regal winked and his once lofty smirk formed into a genuine , caring smile . " Until the time comes , however , I strongly insist that your in-ring weapon of choice will be the knucks . "

" Ha ! You said comes . " Jon crowed and grinned . His partner shook his head , groaning the exasperation .

" Niiiiiiice . " one long maned and heavily tattooed young man commented from his dark blue folding chair after Colby and  Jon had sat back down .  He gawked at his desire who was twirling the knucks on each finger .

" No , I'm Good . " Jon stated the redundant joke and the flirt grinned .

" I wouldn't mind a piece of that . " he kept making eyes at Jon and Colby curbed the idea of pulverizing him for ogling his guy .

" A big pretty man ! " Leo yowled from out of the blue . He and PJ were promptly spellbound .

Colby and Jon looked at what - who - they were staring at and were astonished , then elated .

" Joe ! It's my - " Jon shrieked .

" Our . " Colby cut in .

" Our Samoa Joe . " Jon grinned and bounced around . " And he looks exactly like that movie star guy , Jason Mimosa ! "

Colby sighed , rubbing the visible wrinkles on his forehead .

" A mimosa is champagne blended with orange juice . "

Jon sent him a befuddled look .

" Why would someone want to ruin perfectly good alcohol by putting fruit juice in it ? ! "

Colby sighed once more , groaned and kept watching out the big front plate glass window , eyes tracking Joseph in the parking lot as he hurried to open the rental's passenger side door .

" Oh - ooooohhh . " Jon inhaled , suddenly agog .

Colby sat up absolutely straight in the folding chair , wanting to drool or whistle or ...

" Well , no wonder he didn't stay in touch ! " he commented , following a broad smile .

" Yeah , he was busy touching her stay and I don't blame him . " Jon said with envious approval while they gawked at the dazzling lady on Joe's big arm . " I wouldn't have left the house . "

" I wouldn't have left the bedroom . " the Iowan continued to stare , only flinching when the pair removed something from the backseat and beaming adoringly at each other , guardedly carried the tiny bundle indoors .

" Uhhhhhhh . " Jon's jaw had plummeted a second time . " That , uhm , isn't a burrito , is it ? "

Colby was mute and bug-eyed .

Again , Joe held the door for his woman and after some glancing around the large room in confusion , they spoke to Hunter and some other higher-ups .

Colby craned his neck to eavesdrop . Jon didn't , he was too busy yelling and sprinting ahead .

" Joooooooooe ! Joooooooooooe ! "

Colby lost his hold on the back of his friend's shirt collar when he took off , sighed and ran after him .

" Well , hey . " Joe said , clearly startled . " Didn't expect to see you here , outlaw . "

" You look exactly like that actor , Jason Mallomars ! "

Colby wondered if it was too late to become a religious person .

Joe cracked a grin , tousling Jon's already uncombed hair .

" Mallomars ? ! Isn't that a chocolate covered marshmallow candy ? "

The lady with him seemed to blush and looked instantly pleased . She whispered something in her guy's ear , who also had immediate light pink spots form on his cheeks and smile knowingly .

" What , you're ready to try for a son now ? "

She elbowed Joe , giggled and they exchanged more affectionate glances .

" This is my Gerlinde . " Joseph said and cuddled the baby . " And this is our Josephine Gerlinde . "

" Hiiiiiiiiii , Josephine . " Jon beamed and shook one of her tiny feet between his hands . " You have such widdle footsies , little bitty footsy - wootsies ! "

Joe laughed and cocked his head at the speechless Iowan .

" What's wrong , Champ ? You've never seen proud parents and their beautiful , wonderful , perfect angel child before and it took your vocal cords ? "

Colby shifted his weight back and forth , legs bending slightly at the knees .

" Dummy boy is allergic to children and he holds babies and stares at ' em like they are aliens . " Jon replied , still making goofy faces at Josephine , who watched him , totally fascinated .

" I am not ! I do not ! " Colby hissed .

Joe chuckled .

" Hey , whatever , but it's nice to see you again too . And I'm glad you finally found your voice . "

After a neon blush made a brief appearance , s Colby lapped hands with him , grinning .

" Family reunion , big man . I love it ! "

" Grown your hair out too , I see . "

" Work in progress . " he shrugged happily . " Your mane's way longer than mine , left my hair in the dust ... at the starting gate . "

Joseph snickered , nodded at Colby and Jon , kissed his daughter's small forehead and then Gerlinde , full on the mouth .

" You have to sit with us ... over there ... come on ! " Jon hollered , dragging the guys along .

" Okay , whoa , calm down , buddy ! "

" So , when did you get married and why wasn't I invited to the wedding ? "

" Jon . " Colby groaned . " Staaaahp . "

" Whaaaaat ? ! " he blurted , turning to stare down his pals . " I'm asking a harmless question ! "

" Actually , we , uhm - " Joe fidgeted , rubbing the back of his neck underneath the flow of hair . " I can't totally afford it yet but it's in the plans , believe that . "

Gerlinde had a smile as sweet as cotton candy and a light pink blush over her cheekbones .

She patted her partner's large knee . " I'm not going to rush you . It'll be our future to look forward to . "

" Hey , I'm not complaining about the present , I swear . " Joseph replied with a small half-grin .

" You're doing fine , big man . " she told him , giving two thumbs-up .

" Uhm , hating to break this conversation but ... " Joe glanced anxiously at the restrooms doors . " Teeny tiny bladder , guys . "

" You're excused . " Gerlinde giggled , making the waving motion of ' shooing ' her partner away .

" You're excellent . " he said and took a kiss .

Colby averted his gaze while Jon flat out stared , grinning the whole time .

" Teeny tiny bladder . " he said in a helium squeaky voice , speaking to the baby . " Itty bitty living space . "

Josephine wriggled and kicked . Jon laughed and even Colby had to snort out a chuckle or two .

" Ooouch . " Gerlinde suddenly grimaced .

" You okay ? " Colby's eyebrows lifted and he frowned . Jon leaned closer , particularly wary .

" A bit sore from having to sleep ... never mind . " she clammed up , her brow furrowed .

" Cruddy excuse for a bed in some run down , pitiful motel room ? " Jon asked , his voice shaking .

" He doesn't want people to know - " Gerlinde paused and frowned again .

" Well , that's his problem . " Colby stated assertively , folding his arms across his chest . " He's our brother , so you're our sister in law and if you three need any help , in any way , we'll be here for ya . "

Jon nodded .

" We ... can't afford a place to stay after the money dwindled these last few days . Joe's stubborn - " Gerlinde smiled , a weakened but compassionate glow brightening her sad expression temporarily . " But you guys already know that . "

" Yes . " the two guys answered together .

" His family and mine have offered their support , however he refuses ... doesn't want to take ' handouts . ' " she stopped and wiped her eyes , shifting Josephine back and forth in each arm . " He'd rather ... well , he thinks it would be a failure for him if he can't take care of his family on his own . "

" Jeeeeez . " Colby commented sympathetically . " Okay , here's the deal . I have a motel room that you can use . Already paid for two nights and if Grumpy wants to object , you make him sleep on the pull-out couch . "

" Yeah ! " Jon said , his teeth shining inside the expanded grin . " And I can find a discount store , no problem and buy you some diapers and stuff . "

" Buying stuff ? " Joe reappeared , standing tall over their heads . " What's this stuff , ' kid ' brother ? "

Gerlinde only had a hint of remorse as she spoke .

" , I told them . I had to . "

" No , honey , nooooooo . " Joe griped , sitting down hard . " Now I look like a man who isn't a decent provider , father or husband ! "

" Shut up , big man . This isn't about you . " Jon said , attitude and nerves of steel in ripped jeans , a thrift store tee and a faded leather jacket . The Iowan gawked and so did Joseph , gasping at his bravado and courage .

" Excuse me ? ! " Joe fumed .

" Yeah , you are a lousy parent and spouse-to-be , if you keep putting your ego above your family . Does your daughter need to sleep in a car ? ! Or your woman that you love ? ! " Jon snarled .

His Samoan friend withered , the white flag unfurled and waved strong .

" Yes , you're right about but I'm not exactly wealthy or anything - "

" We know and that's why I gave up my room . " Colby said , shrugging . " No prob for me , my brother . I'll sleep in the rental . "

Joe hiccupped a choked and inaudible reply and embraced his friends in a close to crushing , overjoyed and overwhelmed , grateful hug .

" I owe both of you - " he wept .

" You owe both of them . " Jon corrected , snapping his gum . " Me and geeky will be okay , so , hakuna matata . "

" Since everyone except the unfortunate slowpokes apparently have arrived - " Hunter stated , grabbing the entire crowd's attention . " We'll read off names - not in alphabetical order , so keep a heads up for that - and each of you will enter the ring and tell us why you're here today . "

Joe was trembling immediately and by some possible bad luck , was the first called .

His friends and lady love smiled at him . His daughter tried eating one of her own petite , chubby , light brown hands .

Joe sighed , beamed and trudged up the steps , gritting his teeth .

" I'm here today because - " he began and without warning , gagged .

William and Trips exchanged frowns .

" Sorry about that . " Joe apologized . " I'm not feeling queasy , just uptight . "

" Understandable . Try again . " Regal advised .

Joseph looked mildly reassured , cleared his throat and started over .

" I'm here today - " the fussing cry of a baby who demanded to be noticed stopped him mid-sentence .

There was laughter and many smiles from the front row to the back , from men and women alike .

Joe didn't care if he was ' cut ' right then . He left the ring swiftly , embraced Gerlinde and cuddled their daughter , holding her and beaming , right where he belonged .

" Them ! " he said truthfully . " I'm here for them ... everything in the world that I can do , is all for them . "

Colby wasn't much of a lip-reader but he knew that looked Regal over at Paul and said ' family man . '

Jon noticed as well and smirked with equal confidence .

The Iowan was next in line and his mood improved , along with his bladder appreciating that he hadn't chugged a load of water beforehand .

" I'm here today , mostly because ... well , one of my best friends got me into it - hooked on it , you might say . "

Colby plainly saw Jon giving him distrustful looks .

" Ex best friend . But that is in the past , along with my time at Ring of Honor . I'd maybe go back there one day but not with that guy . "

Jon smiled and his boyfriend relaxed , continuing .

" Besides your former work and the , uh , backstory - " Paul said . " What is it that keeps you motivated , gives you the spark to not quit ? "

Colby didn't have to think twice .

" My tattoos ! " he yelped .

The corners of Regal's mouth shook and then rested in straight lines .

" So , you have some pieces of ink , body artwork that has important meaning to you ? " Hunter asked .

" Yes ... sir . " Colby stammered .

" Uhmmm - " he snuck a few glances at all of the seated and standing ladies , focusing mainly on the brunettes and those with black hair . " Is it okay if I remove my shirt , just for a minute ? "

" Promise not to flash us and sure , yes , go ahead . " Trips snickered .

Colby was well over ninety percent calm by then , feeling as though this duo were father figures he could get along with .

He moved to stand with his back facing the audience and pointed out each tat , explaining .

" Integrity , respect , courage , honor , compassion , honesty and loyalty . " he finished and shoved his now wrinkled tee back into place , yanking and tugging . " That's me . Those are my life beliefs , my pro wrestling beliefs that I stick by . "

" Huh . " the guy who had been at making passes at Jon scoffed , chortling . " Looks like a takeout menu order for chow mein and egg rolls to me . "

Colby crimsoned at the sprinkle of male and considerably less female laughter and scowled at his rival , who glowered in return , haughty and challenging him .

He sat and tried not to yawn while listening to one man after another spout the same line about wanting to become the next big superstar , so boring , so cliche .

He could tell already and by the looks of it , so did Paul and Regal , who had their hearts in pro wrestling and the ones who just cared about getting the fortune and fame .

His Jurassic Park movie logo tee clad foe bounded into the ring and made sure to tune out , but only after he heard the guy's maybe or not real name , Judas Devlin .

Following five men in a row giving their little ' speeches ' , Jon had his turn and the squatting Judas , lecherous Devlin watched him closely .

" Tell us why you're here today . "

" Because my parents were too cheap to buy reputable birth control . " Jon answered , blinking .

Awkward laughter soared , then fell .

The silence went by and Hunter spoke .

" What we meant was , being a part of this tryout . "

" ' Cause you called me . "

" Yes , well - " William and Paul were the ones blinking in confusion then . " That's an answer , I suppose . "

Again , Hunter addressed the group .

" We're going to try something , divide all of you up and put those that already have in-ring experience into matches . There will be three held each time , for an hour a day until everyone has had a turn . As for you rookies , well , you'll spend the extra time training . "

Colby viewed the first bout , a duel between the Cape Town dingbat and another bearded , dark haired young man with a far more serious expression than the berserk Leo .

He found himself intrigued after all , especially by the pin-fall attempts that the guy called Sandow continued to fail at , because Leo kept rolling around , over and over , a wacky human ball .

Most of the group broke up chortling at frustration every time that Sandow couldn't keep a grip on the wily , whooping laughter like a hyena , long maned Afrikaner .

Colby barely smirked , brainstorming . Maybe he could come up with and use his very own , similar move ...

Hunter read off three names and Joe immediately used his mane as a veil , taking cover behind it .

" I ... can't be in a match . I'm not - I haven't worked for any promotion , like these guys have ! "

" Your father is the one who trained you ? " Regal graciously asked .

" Yes . " Joe murmured .

" An expert ! Then you'll have nothing to worry about . " Hunter insisted .

" But - " Joe surrended completely when his fiance smiled at him .

 

    /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

 

" Bitch stole my look . " Jon laughed at Colby first , poking him . " Bitch stole my look . "

Joe had hilarity gleaming in his eyes when they stood in the changing area of the locker room , appraising one another - each man clad in fighting gear , plain black knee and elbow pads , undecorated trunks and boots .

" You've got this ! " Gerlinde called out at ring side . " Yayyyyyy , sweetie ! "

The three heads turned to eye the former cheerleader - one devoted , the others lascivious .

" Keep those wanderin ' eyes in the sockets , little boys . " Joe warned , glowering at his friends . " Gerlinde is with me . "

" Yeah ? ! " Jon challenged , swaggering and ready to deliver some trash-talk . " But who is she going home with ? "

Joseph roared and barrelled into his smart-mouthed buddy , bowling him over and striking Colby by accident , knocking the other young man down as well .

" Watch out ! " the Iowan sputtered and furious , threw punches without looking .

" Oooohhhh , drie wolwe ! " Kruger cried out , watching the triad , star-struck .

" No . " PJ educated his adopted sibling . " Die skild . "

Leo nodded and kept sucking his thumb , fixated primarily on Joe .

Had Jon not given him a wedgie ! , Colby understood that he would've made it back from the floor where he was thrown , the second man in the ring and not counted out .

Quivering and feeling as though his entire body was drenched in sweat , he sent Joe a congratulatory thumbs-up .

For that moment , for that encounter , the better man had won .

A red-haired blur inches away morphed into the clear form of a woman clad in a metallic gold trimmed , leather-look , pine green corset style top and moss colored crushed velvet hot pants accented with hues of tree-bark brown .

The lower halves of her rear end ' cheeks ' were exposed , on display beneath the material , slightly above the black , ripped , thigh-high fishnets and he couldn't deflect his gaze .

The female standing next to him was drinking from a bottle of Yogu Time Lychee .

" Aaaaaaahhh . " she sighed . " Sawayakana nomimono . "

" Which part of Chi ... uhm , Japan , are you from , anyway ? "

" I've never been . "

" Never ? ! "

" My trainer lived there for years . Worked in the Dojos . " she said and glowered at Colby . " And if you were leering at what I'm certain that I caught you staring at , better develop a taste for hospital food fed to ya through a nose tube . "

" I - " he replied , looked , squinted and dropped his bottled water in surprise . " Tea girl ! "

" Girl ? ! " the familiar female snarled .

" Grown adult woman . Lady . " Colby corrected , throwing an apology in there as well , to save his skin . " I didn't expect to see you here . Taking some break-time off from the tv and movie chaos ? "

" In a manner of speaking , yes . I figured that perhaps with my stunt woman background in action-adventure films and fight scenes , I may succeed at this ' wrasslin ' . "

" I don't doubt you one crumb . But does this mean you're out of the spotlight completely or just - "

" Temporarily banished . " Becky answered , sounding pleased , lofty and a little glum .

" Yeah , what fo - ? " the Iowan began to ask and was swiftly cut short .

" Her Majesty , Char and I had a friendly falling-out and went our separate ways . She stayed in good old Hollywood , my Char did and we gently keep in touch . "

Colby had a few not suitable for work mental images about those two women keeping gently in touch . He crossed his legs , struggling to conceal whatever detectable tent pitching there might have been .

And immediately stopped when the trunks rode up , creeping uncomfortably , gifting him a wedgie .

" And that one guy ? Chestnut hair , sapphire eyes , soccer mom ' do ? " he squirmed in the chair , wondering how to pick a wedgie and not get caught doing so .

" AJ dabbles . Tries his luck in several acting roles , playing around most of the time . "

" Not the serious type of person , huh ? "

Becky shrugged .

" Every so often . "

Suddenly and feeling an odd twitch somewhere low in his belly , he understood that he wanted to make their conversation last .

" Your trainer must be one of the toughest people of all time . " Colby picked at the peeling , soggy water bottle label . " Those Dojos don't play nice and easy with anyone , so I've heard ... read about . "

" Yes , Ferg's quite a powerhouse . " she grinned , puckish . " And I wouldn't complain about living there either . "

He drained the H2o and scowled at the empty container in his hands as the unpredictable jealousy unfurled .

Colby scanned the crowd and by instinct , his eyes landed on Jon who was encompassed by multiple large chested , tanned , long legged , adoring females , a trio of dyed bright yellow blonde and only one whose hair color was legitimate .

" Looks to me like they would cat-fight for a chance to drink his bath water . You're envious ? Worried about your boyfriend ? "

He targeted Becky with his glare .

" Concerned about your boyfriend ? Did you bring him along with your luggage or left behind in Japan ? " he asked , bitter , hateful , sarcastic , growling .

Her eyelids sagged . Her smile descended .

Colby blanched , regretting lashing out .

" I'm an idiot for more than one reason . "

" Yes , I can name at least one . " Becky fumed .

" You're correct , ma'am and the second is ... "

" Is ? "

" My padres maravillosos think that I've ido loco , doing this . This ... I dunno , addiction to being a wrestler . " Colby said cautiously , speaking slowly .

" Well , I won't argue with them . " Becky said .

His heart returned to beating when she smiled , chuckling a little .

" Neither will I . " he replied and ' went in for the kill . ' He leaned close and lowered his voice , acting like he was going to whisper in her pretty little ear . " They know where I live . "

Her laughter was loud , bursting and contagious in the coolest , most fascinating , likeable , sweetest , most beautiful way that would have created an entire frikkin ' campground inside his pants , if he wasn't more careful with his fantasizing thoughts while being out in public .

He cackled with her , until his face was ketchup red and his tired , sore body was trembling .

Once they had calmed down , no longer pink-cheeked and shaking , he pointed out who was standing with Gerlinde and carrying a sleeping Josephine .

Joe hadn't wasted any precious time . After his match , he'd went straight to cleaning off with a nice , warm and fast shower .

" Joe - him and Jon over there - are my other reasons for living this way . They are yeghbayrners . "

Becky looked perplexed , blinking .

" My brothers . " Colby translated , grinning .

" Spanish - Armenian , huh . " Becky nodded , shaking his hand . " Interesting . "

" Japanese - Irish . " the Iowan responded happily . " And this time , I didn't collide with you , causing your tea to spill either . "

" Thank you for the manners . I appreciate them . "

The duo looked at the ring when the main female trainer called name .

" Well , somebody needs me right now and when Sara Del Rey requests a female wrestler's total attention , you give her all of it and an ice cream sundae to boot . "

" Talk some more another time then ? " he asked hopefully .

" Yeah , sure . I'd like to . "

" So would I . "

He waved Bye and nodded and she did the same .

Ice cube temps from overhead when he scrubbed and rinsed during the shower .

" Well , that's everything . " Colby said , bringing the last suitcase and tote bag into the room . He eyed the drab decor , cheap wooden furniture , graphite curtains and lilac floral patterned bedding while Gerlinde was in the bathroom , feeding Josephine .

" It's okay where we sat it , right ? " Jon asked , pointing to the portable , folding mini-crib that he and placed in the tiny and plain ' living space . '

" Wonderful . " Joe said , fatigue drooping his contented smile . " How about you two stay in here ? The floor's no picnic to sleep on , I know , but it would be safer than outside , in a car . "

Colby smirked a little , nodded at Joe .

" Oh , but it's Jon , for cryin ' out loud ! Don't you know it's the assailants that will be afraid if they try bushwacking him ? ! "

The Samoan giggled .

" Bushwhackers ! " Jon yelped and licked the side of his boyfriend's face , below his ear and up to his hairline before spitting and hacking . " Ewww , hairball ! "

" Quit it , dweeb ! " the Iowan admonished , shaking from bashfulness ... and automatic , shrill laughter .

He couldn't sleep .

He should have been sawing logs by then . It was past midnight and his bone-tired body hurt from travel and the match he'd taken part in .

He half-sat up , crept and crawled slowly to the drivers side door , whining and muttering ' ouch ! ' each time the seat material sandpaper rubbed his bruised , drained flesh .

Jon wasn't asleep either . He had the Zippo out , one of his many dependable friends with him on the road and grinned as he ran the flame under his open palm .

He chortled and on a whim , stuck his tongue out , zoomed the heat close to his taste buds .

He stopped when he heard the knocking , looked over and smiled .

" Hey ! " Jon greeted , ushering him into the vehicle .

Colby quivered , yawned deeply and gazed at his buddy with owl-eyes , dark grey circles and heavy bags sagging them .

" I can't sleep . "

" The Beckster ? ! You're getting involved with the Bexter ? ! "

" I'm not getting involved . " Colby sulked while his friend sat behind him , braiding his hair . " We talked , that's it . "

" And you liked it . " Jon declared , instantly sullen and frowning .

His boyfriend crimsoned .

" Yeesh , you dumb ninja , I know you much better than you know yourself . "

" And you're jealous . " Colby announced , smirking .

" Well , but worried too . " Jon stopped finger-combed the long , trendy ponytail he'd created and scooted back , knees up at his chest . " She's not a person to mistreat . "

" Dammit , ! That's a horrible thing to say about me ! " the Iowan yelped , whipping around to gawk at his friend . " Why would you think that I'm an abusive - "

" No , no , no , no . " Jon blurted , interrupting . " I'm not saying that . Just telling you that she's tough . Not someone who is clingy and a whiner . She's actually sort of like ... well , me . "

Colby's face kept on blazing . Okay then , that explained most of the allure .

" Hey , since you know so much about her , then why did she get fired ? " he wondered .

" Temporarily banished . " Jon corrected , grinning . " Your face looks like a stoplight , by the way . "

Colby glared .

His boyfriend snickered .

" Ever heard of the casting couch ? "

The Iowan 's face turned purple .

" I see . " Jon teased , patting his partner on the cheeks , squeezing them .

Colby glowered until he quit .

" Okay , so , this guy - a director from what I heard - hit on her and she hit back . Savagely . the news report said that that disgusting jerk tried ripping her clothes off , so she ... literally ... stepped on , stomped on his balls with full , unstoppable force , crushed and made 'em bleed . In self defense , of course . "

" Of course . " Colby paled .

" You're scared now ? " Jon asked , studying his friend's profile , looking deep into his dark eyes .

" For her , yeah . Had I been there , I would have helped her fight that creep . " he divulged sincerely .

" Ah , yes , the Black white knight in your so-tight-they're-sprayed-on skinny jeans armor . " Jon commented , cherry blossom pink splashed over his cheekbones . " I'm still not jealous . "

Joe peeked in one of the back passenger's side windows and cracked a smile . There they were , like he thought that they'd be , both snoring and nestled against each other .

He tapped the glass delicately and then waited , patiently until a groggy Ohio boy stirred , opened his eyes and spotted his Samoan , beamed and waved .

" Sssssssssshhh ! " Jon hushed Joe before he had a chance to say a word . " Our Gordon Emeril Wolfgang is zonked . "

" What , you wore Sleepyhead out , huh ? "

" Maaaaaybeeeee . "

" In public ? ! " Joe squeaked , seemingly appalled .

" Nooooo , in the backseat of a rental car . " Jon furrowed his brow and looked over . " What , you've never did the same ? "

" I - well ... " Joe blushed .

" Then you're missing out . Kidding though ! Honestly , all that we did was talk for hours . "

" Ahh , okay - "

" And kabonged each other for hours . " Jon teased . " Fun stuff . Join us next time ? "

" Slut . " Joe laughed . " Anyway , pass along the message to our Rip Van Winkle that we're all going to a cheap diner nearby , my treat and Gerlinde's idea too . She insists . Now , I don't know how the food is there but once Colbs wakes , we can ask him . "

" Yeah , he'd know . " Jon commented , in awe . " Dude eats fried squash blossoms . "

" Well , I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the cuisine's edible . Any place where I can have steak , two eggs and three sides of my choice for less than thirteen dollars ain't too shabby . "

" And , Hell - " Jon shrugged . " Krispy Kreme's not far from here and you can buy me doughnuts . "

Joseph snickered .

" I certainly will . "

His buddy grinned and jumped on him , hugging with gusto .

" Gooooood morning ! " Jon cheered . " And don't call me Will . "

" I won't every time . " Joe teased .

" Oooooohhh , can I braid your hair ? ! Pleasepleaseplease ? " his friend pleaded .

" Uhm . " Joe shrugged . " How about we rain check on that , okay ? "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" What are you up to , nerdy hot stuff ? " Jon plunked a sunrise smooch on the Iowan's hairline and looked at the computer screen over Colby's shoulder .

" Figuring out what those weirdo guys called us . " his buddy adjusted the dorky , thick framed black glasses and tapped away at the laptop keyboard swiftly . " They're from South Africa , right ? So I found out what they were speaking is called Afrikaans . "

" Their language . Homeland language . " Joe said .

" Yep . "

" Any luck ? " Joe asked , collecting his kisses as well . It was too early for beer - except to Jon , of course , who drank it like water - so he made the choice to have orange juice added to his breakfast .

" Drie wolwe . " Colby pronounced the words slowly and carefully , not quite saying them accurately .

" ' Scuse ? "

" Three wolves . " the Iowan answered . " The long haired one with the craaaaaazy eyes called us three wolves . "

" Ah ha . " the Samoan grunted , surprised . " And what was that his brother with the Rihanna hairdo said ? An insult ? "

" I'm ... not sure . " Colby replied . " He said that we are Die skild . "

The blonde of the ' gang ' yawned , wrinkled his nose and wore a sour frown to go along with it , truly unimpressed .

" Skilled ? What the Hell does that mean ? "

Colby spun in the rolling office chair and faced his brothers .

" The Shield . "

Chapter Text

 

 

" Gee my alles ! " Justin moaned , his fingers tensing solid on the handlebars . " Ek gaan huil ! "

" What are you going to do ? ! " Colby questioned him , wrenching a handful of darker brunette mane and prying open his damp mouth , raiding it with an assaulting , warm tongue . " Squirt all over the place ? "

" No , no ... howl ... howwwwwlllllloooooooooohhhhh "

Justin flung his head back and let the wild animal melody flow , along with the spray of white thickness dribbling over his belly and dotting his thighs .

" Ah , you visualize yourself as a wolf when you're nothing but a puppy , my puppy . " Colby lingered with shimmying , hard pumping thrusts until he groaned , withdrew and gushed heavily onto PJ's lower back .

The South African gasped , recovering on the cum- encrusted seat of his ' Precious ' Ducati Monster Dark .

" Well , that's that . " Colby bragged sarcastically , scrapping the loaded rubber and hiking his underwear and jeans back into place . " Adios . Toodles . "

" That's it ? ! " PJ screeched , leaning over and almost falling from his bike to the hard surface of the parking garage's floor . " You're leaving ? ! '

" What , you thought that I'd stay ? " the Iowan smirked , ruffling already disheveled , onyx black locks while the owner glowered . " The only thing interesting about you is the steamy , athletic , untamed sex and that hot fucking isn't even worth returning for a second time . "

" You are a waardeloos ding . " Paul junior growled . " Ontlasting ! "

" And you're a puppy . " the other man gloated haughtily , cackling . " Never to become one of the big dogs . "

Colby found his guys lounging on the bed that Joe had dibs on . The Samoan was using a washable marker to ' tattoo ' Jon's arms while he sat smiling , cagey yet innocent looking , his eyes closed .

" Two hours to get a bite to eat ? ! " Joe complained without looking up .

" This is more than a bite . " Colby replied , behind an overflowing armload of bags and carry out containers . " Please take something before I drop and spill - "

" Kids meal toys ! " Jon whooped , gleefully and snatched his ' presents .'

" Here's your deluxe desserts , Footballer . " the Iowan gave his inked buddy the ' extras ' , three different slices of cheese cake - original with a side of strawberries , key lime and Swiss milk chocolate mousse topped with crumbled peanut butter cups and white chocolate shavings .

Joe started to grin and eyed Colby suspiciously .

" What did you do ? "

" Bought our dinner . " Colby replied , a cold sweat trickling down his back . ' From more than one place . "

" This seems to me like ... you're feeling guilty about something and being suck-up super nice to us is your way of apologizing . " Joe grumbled as they unpacked their subs and chips , salads and bottled water .

" I stopped for a cafe au lait , spicy mocha and a cold brew coconut latte on the way back . " Colby confessed , telling some of the truth .

They watched while Jon pushed a few of his Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars around the floor , making ' vroom vroom ' noises .

Joe laughed at both of his guys and kissed them .

" It's a wonder that you're not spider climbing the walls , ninja . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Aspirin ! " Joe lurched into the motel room , discarding his luggage just inside the door . " I need to take an entire bottle of aspirin . "

" Jeeeeez , this inn ain't quality . " Jon commented sarcastically after one look at the plain white bedding , pale powder-blue pillows , the dingy and thin grey , light brown and burnt orange rectangle patterned carpeting , the all-white bathroom , flat screen tv atop a three drawer , dark brown dresser and the rest of the drab furniture and decor .

" Well , it's not like we can afford to stay in a multi-million , luxury ultra suite . " Colby snapped , tossing a gym bag onto one of the two twin sized beds . " Besides , this isn't totally a hovel - "

" There is a roach on the mattress . " Joe spoke slowly , gazing at the turned back covers and sheets with a horrified expression .

" Joint or cock ? " Jon darted to his side , to gawk . " Oh , yep , it's a bug . And it's a long goner . "

" Okay , so that is anything but a positive . " Colby sputtered , trying to find a bright side . " However , we have an ironing board ... "

Jon yawned and gave the middle finger .

Joe inched aside , backing away from the shriveled insect husk .

" Free use of the fax machine ! "

Jon blinked .

" What is the sound that I hear ? Oh , it's me hating you . "

Colby glowered .

" We have a roof over our heads , a semi-nice place to sleep and gratis breakfast in the morning ! Can't you be thankful once in your life ? ! "

Joe beamed , sighed and cautiously took a seat on the bed - after sweeping the dried roach carcass from the mattress .

" Josephine , Gerlinde , my parents , other family and friends and you guys too . I'm always thankful , every day . "

" We're last ? " Jon pouted and spun in circles , rolling around in the wheeled desk chair .

" Because we're the best . " Colby boasted . " We are . No other team , tag or stable can compete or compare . "

Jon rolled into him , rascally grinning .

" When you tell the truth , that's like dirty talk to my ears . "

" Your ears or other parts of the anatomy ? " the Iowan cackled , falling on purpose into his rough-and-tumble partner's lap .

" Boys , please . " Joe had found his aspirin and took two of the small , bitter , pain relief tablets with a bottled water .

He rubbed his aching forehead , watched his men and eventually smiled . They already had each other's shirts off .

" Awh , man ! " Colby sprung into action , taking the bottled , smoked butterscotch latte from the mini-fridge . He poured a few swigs into a little paper cup . " Here, the caffeine will help . "

" Or make things worse . " Jon bitched , sitting on the other side of Joe and leaning around him to frown at Colby  . " Coffee is your answer to everything ! "

" Yeah , well , alcohol's yours . " his boyfriend retorted , glaring .

" Guys . " Joe bellyached , lolling on the bed .

" Massage his forehead . " the Iowan commanded . " Lightly . Don't pummel his head like you're flattening ground meat into burgers , ' kay ? "

Jon nodded and started kneading below his ailing friend's hairline while the third man fixed an ice pack and poured more coffee .

They cuddled together , taking turns caring for their big guy and switching places back and forth . Joseph lounged , yawning while Colbs and the ' crazy man ' kept the lights off and the volume on the tv low .

" You drive from now on . " he said to Colby .

" Me ? ! " the Iowan stammered .

" Yeah , be our permanent chauffeur and I'll chip in extra for the gas money . "

" No . " Colby shook his head .

" No ? " Joe sat up halfway , groaned and slumped against a pillow .

Jon looked at him , panic and worry evident and he scowled at his Midwest buddy .

" Quit being insensitive to my brother , numbskull ! "

" Our brother , mine as much as he is yours and no , he doesn't have to pay me cash . I'll drive for free ! "

" Oh ... oh ! " the meaning of words sunk into Jon's mind and he wriggled , light pink patches blooming over his dimples instantly . " Sorry , I thought that - "

" It's okay . " Colby smiled . " We're tired and being exhausted makes us pissed off . "

Joe beamed , snuggling with them under the blankets .

" Since you refuse to take the pay I offered , how about you choose where we eat then , when we're on the road . "

" I'm cool with it . "

" No complaints from me either . " Jon said .

Joe dozed off first and his bestie from Ohio , shortly after .

Colby sighed and tucked them in snug and healing during rest .

He pressed the Power button on the remote , moved some items around in the dim light and stumbled to the second bed , nestling beneath the covers .

" Pleasant dreams , my babes . " he said in the dark .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" We're s'posed to be split into groups for our training . Who did you get ? "

" Uhm . " Joe studied the piece of notebook paper . " Norman Smiley . "

" I'm on Kidman's team , looks like . " Colby said , fixing his ball cap brim into place .

" I have ... uh ... William Regal . Oh , no shit . Anyone see where he is ? " Jon stood on tiptoe , staring around the crowd of men .

" Over there , reading a copy of Practical Reptile Keeping magazine ? " Joe guessed accurately .

" You should recognize by appearance by now . He gave you brass knuckles ! " Colby yelped .

" So , wait - none of us lucked out and got Dusty or Matt Bloom ? ! " Jon wailed .

" I didn't . " Colby weaved through the muscular , chatty horde .

" Nor did I . " Joe trailed him .

Jon eyed the issue cover with chagrin .

" How tortoises see glass . " he mumbled , repeating words he'd read from the magazine's cover and frowning .

His friends gave him tag team pats on the upper back and shoulders for reassurance and support .

And he marched on , head held high , towards his British teacher .

" I'm getting too old for this . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Many weeks sped by while others dragged on . Joe found humor from Leo's idolization of Jon , impersonating him in the ring and dressing the same to the last little details - black boots , trunks , sunglasses and a leather jacket .

Colby being the fitness fiend that he was had been labeled - by his beloved with the IDGAF 'tude - as ' the teachers ' pet ' because of his additional daily grind .

And it was true . He stayed an extra hour at the gym or running the ropes when the other guys had already showered and left for a bite to eat or back to the hotel .

He didn't mind the perspiration , his smarting muscles and infrequent self-doubt . He was thriving and contending .

Excelling .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" How's the fam been lately , big guy ? " Colby gave Joe a light shove so he'd share the hot water .

" Fine . Wonderful . " The Samoan's full of pride grin was contagious and lovely . He was muted for a short amount of time while he rinsed his foamed-up , shampooed hair . " I missed the first sitting up without help but I was at home for the crawling . "

" Oh , coooool ! " Jon exclaimed , hip bumping both men underneath the shower spray . " She's crawling ? ! "

" Everywhere and fast . " Joe bragged .

" Congrats ! " Colby hollered .

" Yeah , excellent news , man . " Jon agreed .  Joe placed hands on his scalp , scrubbing his hair .  Colby turned and faced them , soaping his belly .  Jon ran a washcloth over both males ' arms and legs before they returned the favor by dotingly kneaded his shoulders . " Well , guess what ? I'm learning about the history of UK wrestling - Regal taught me and I've been working with this new guy ... some odd looking kid called Pete Dunn . "

Colby wrung out his wet mop tresses .

" Pete Dunn ? I might have heard of - "

" He kinda stands out in a crowd , I suppose . British . Not big on smiling . Wears a mouth guard . " Jon returned the sudsy bar of soap back to the small ledge in the stall . " His hair is almost as fabulous as yours , S-Joe , but his build ... well , he's shaped like a corn dog in a singlet . "

" Corn dog ! " Joseph screeched and hunched over , bent at the waist and giggling .

Colby guffawed , leaning against him .

" Corn dog . Jeeeeez . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

They had had a light meal so after eating , ten minutes remained in their lunch break .

Kevin and Jimmy spent the time chatting while Sami had on his earbuds and danced around in a back corner , mug of decaf in hand , sloshing .

" Watch out , ! Don't spill any on the merch ! " Steen called out , then frowned and shook his head , throwing his hands up . " Urrrrgh , he can't hear me . "

" He'll be careful , I'm sure . "

" He's clumsy . " Kevin muttered , looking at the front entrance when the bell tinkled and clattered .

Jimmy would have slipped , slid and off of the countertop , melting like heated butter once he set his eyes on the dorky glasses wearing , long haired , short stature guy standing at the doorway .

" Sorry , man but we're closed . Lunch time for us employees . " Kevin said .

" I'm open . " Jimmy claimed saucily , scooting to the very edge of the glass surface . Kevin sighed , grunted and grabbed the fringed end of his infinity scarf , holding him back from a lustful pounce . " Come all the way inside and warm yourself . "

The stranger's brows raised , wings of birds under and then above the eye-wear frames .

Jimmy gave the light brown mane bound into a cascading ponytail a look of complete approval , fluttered his lashes and failed at escaping clutches .

" Stahp . " Steen mouthed at his eccentric buddy .

" Ignore the goofy here , he's not only a terrible flirt but sugar-hyper as well . " Kevin fibbed , giving the customer a smile and nod combo . " Since our break ends in less than three minutes , may as well no longer call ourselves closed after all . So , what do you need and how can I help you ? "

He offered a big hand to the unknown man , who smiled ... unsure and perhaps nervous , true but it was a smile .

The stranger shook off the dazed facial expression and cleared his throat , the bewilderment in his dark eyes and pulled on his tied-back hair , fidgeting .

" I'm not familiar with this area and wondered where I could find a nice place that serves tea . "

They gazed at the guy . His accent was British-English , track pants and knit jumper were the Fred Perry brand and although he wasn't tall , he was no runt of the litter either .

" Oh . " Kevin waved a single hand nonchalantly while Jimmy was literally salivating . " Sami can help you in that department . He knows all of the cafes and coffee shops better than many of their employees , I'd guess . "

The short male peered behind the nerdy-chic eye wear at the dancing redhead .

" I'd rather not disturb him - "

" Too late , Sami's already disturbed . " Kevin stated .

Jimmy wore a gentle , tiny smile and continued to stare .

" He seems to be happy ... and I don't want to spoil his fun . "

" I'll nudge him for you . " Steen said but was stopped by the yipping , insistent dog . " Now ? ! You can't wait ? "

The fawn hued canine pawed at his human's shoes .

" Oui , je vous entends , monsieur . " Kevin chortled and hooked the leash clip to the dog's collar . " Wild thing , you're in charge for just a minute or so , okay ? "

" Yeah , baby ! " Jimmy cheered and hopped up and down .

He stopped almost as soon as he had started , eyes growing bigger .

" Whoops , liquids kicked in . " he said , reddening . He got Zayn's attention by pointing and gesturing .

Jimmy excused himself to the employee's restroom while Sami was totally focused on tripping the light fantastic .

And collided with Benjamin , splashing the coffee straight onto the front of his neatly tucked-in shirt .

" 'Uwh la ! " Sami cried , stepping backwards and tripping over his own feet . " I'm sorry , so sorry ! "

" I wouldn't call you that . " the Brit replied , smirking .

He saw the gleam , the little spark . That and the bashful grin was ... mesmerizing , in his opinion .

" Is it bad ? " the redhead asked .

Neville shrugged and lifted the bottom of his shirt , inspecting the stain .

Sami gasped .

Jimmy re-entering the front room and Kevin in the doorway , did the same .

None of them had expected those abs on that man's body , but there they were , incredible to view .

" I ... I'll pay for the cleaning . " Sami blurted , his face scorched .

" Yeah , get him a tee to wear too . " Kevin said , pop-eyed .

The American friend looked on silently , mouth agape .

Steen grabbed and towed him from the scene , vacating it to give privacy to the other men .

" Well . " Ben said , changing into a dry and clean , never worn , solid black tee . " How about going for tea ? Since you've already introduced me to your Canadian coffee . "

Sami trembled shyly and felt a twinge in his jaw from the uncontrollable , relentless smiling .

" I'd like that . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Jon took the last pillow from the pull-out sleeper sofa and dropped it on the bed he was using , then stared at one of his boyfriends .

" Who died ? " he quipped . He gazed at Colby's imitation black leather jeans and a silver-grey tee with a pattern of photo negative human skulls printed on the front .

" Tower Records stores . " he fixed his ball cap brim in place the way he liked it and bent , tying his lowtop's laces .

Jon adjusted and rearranged the mountain of pillows , fussing under his breath as Joe slept in the second queen size bed .

" How come you can afford a hundred dollar leather pants while we are barely getting by , staying overnight in a Hampton Inn ? " he scowled .

" You make us sound down-and-out dirt poor , babe . We have a flat screen with HBO and other premium channels , a mini fridge , the bathroom is top-notch and clean , free wi-fi internet ... " Colby kissed golden brown , disheveled bangs , ruffling the rest of his partner's sloppy , sweaty hair .

Jon glared .

" Did you rob a bank ? ! ' Cause I wanta know you can afford - "

Colby frowned , shook his head and sighed .

" First , they are imitation leather . Second , they cost about seventy dollars and they were a gift from my parents ! "

His boyfriend sneered and punched a big pillow , denting it .

" You're living off of those nice people ! "

" It was a gift ! "

Joe made a grunting , part snore sound and rolled in his sleep . Both of his male lovers watched in case he came close to falling off of the bed .

Colby lowered his voice and spoke again .

" Look , one day , all three of us are going to be big time . We'll be in charge , We'll run what goes on in the ring and have more money than kings . And when that happens , I'll repay them and buy them everything they want and more , including a gigantic house . "

Jon grinned .

" I'll get them a freakin' mansion . We'll all live in it and your Dad can stay with you and Sofia can sleep in my room . "

Colby smacked him directly in his smirking face with the smallest , lightest weight , softest pillow .

" Are you collecting these , perv ? "

" I'm building a fort . Or trying to . " Jon glanced around at his messy , failing creation . " I need more pillows . Can I call room service and order ? ... "

The Iowan smiled at his expectant pleading .

" I'll bring you some CDs and DVDs instead . "

" You're late . "

Colby fell into the passenger's side and latched his seat belt .

" I walked and ran from - "

" When did I ask for a report about your exercise routine ? You're late . " Phil cocked a brow haughtily . " Forget your skateboard ? "

Colby ground his teeth at the disdain in Punk's ' I'm better than you are ' tone , condescending and mean .

" Oh , the guy who dresses like a background character in a Wayne's World movie is judging me ? "

" Yes , I am judging you , making sure you don't run out and screw me over . Now , why are you late ? ! "

The Iowan narrowed his eyes and looked straight ahead .

" I was helping one of my two boyfriends with ... something that isn't any of your business . " he said , omitting the parts about making a last minute pillow and blanket fort .

And the pillow fight afterwards .

And the exciting , giggle - laden tickle battle following .

Phil guzzled canned Wild Cherry Pepsi and looked high and mighty .

" Only two ? How can we possibly be related when you're such an amateur ? "

His half-brother shrugged .

" We're related . Turns out , like our Pops , you inherited most of the being an selfish asshole and a male-whore genes . " he spat .

Punk chuckled and the laughter had no warmth and happiness in it , just sourness and a frost buildup .

" So , you want out of the deal already . " he said without asking .

" Not ... quite . " Colby fidgeted as his snarky sibling drove . " Yes , we'll be your personal muscle and take out your adversaries - mow over all of ' em - but I'm the only one who will be your errand boy . Not them . So don't you start pushing them around , barking orders ... they aren't going to be a part of your dumb games . I won't let you mess with them and if you try , I'll rip that stupid lip ring off of your face ! "

" Well , there you go , brother . " Punk smiled coldly after he'd parked the car . " Learning how to grow a spine and a set of almonds , too . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" We need names . " Colby said after swallowing the mouthful of Horchata cold brew . They had a big take-out order from Hunger Street Tacos and were demolishing the lunch in part of the double bedroom .

" We have names already , remember ? " Jon told him , munching on tacos full of black beans , mushrooms , salsa and bone marrow included in the ingredients . " We're the Shield . "

" Yeah . " Joe smiled and reached for another brisket and chorizo taco with extra Queso Cotija and onions . " Not the three Musketeers but the three Uces . "

" Individual names . " Colby sighed before biting into his second squash blossom quesadilla . " Quit acting like a jerk . "

" Acting ? ! " Jon glared .

" Ah , so you're a jerk for real ? "

" Not anything like the real bitch that you happen to be ! "

Joseph positioned his body to make a human barrier , blocking and preventing any physical fights .

" Immature , grouchy little boys , I'm not going to sit back and take crap from either of you when there are two slices of key lime pie calling my mouth's name . "

" Your mouth has a name ? " Jon whooped and smirked , taunting . " Is it Tucson Joe ? "

" No , better than that . Tucson Jon ! That rhymes ! " Joe quipped the comeback and held his sides while he giggled , shaking .

" Our fry guy . " the Iowan cackled , moving his coffee out of harm's way .

" Yeah , well , you're Walter . I'm Henry and Joe is Fitzgerald . " Jon declared , misunderstanding and not taking the joke as anything but an insult .

" Fitzgerald . " Joe repeated , dumbfounded .

" You have majestic hair , therefor you are Fitzgerald . I'm the best looking so I'm Henry . Big Nose over here is the dweeb of our group so he's Walter . "

" Stuff it , portrait of a serial killer . " Colby retorted sharply . " I should be Henry . I know more about Rollins than you ever will ! "

Jon blinked , examining the oily , meat juice moistened crumbs left on his paper plate .

" Who's Rollins ? "

" Black Flag . " Colby said .

Jon looked at Joe . He scratched his chin and tented his fingers .

" Don't ask me , man . "

" I love you guys but neither one of you have a clue about what real music is . " Colby sighed .

" You don't either . " Jon snapped and then seemed to be lost in thought . " Anyway , you're Walter . I'm Henry and my Samoa Joe is Fitzgerald . "

" Screw your Walter , I'll be Rollins . Or maybe I'll stay being Սեվ , it's worked so far . "

" Seth ? " Joe inquired , his brows scrunched .

" No , it's pronounced ... oooooohhh ! " Colby's eyes bulged in the sockets as he trailed off , gazing at his wrist tat . He grinned , pounced on Joe and kissed him . " You are brilliant . Thanks ! "

" You might even say he glows . " Jon cracked , glaring at them . " Stop hogging my Samoa Joe , greedy , greedy Seth not Walter but , oh yes , you are so Walter Rawwwwliiiiins . "

The Iowan chuckled and reluctantly slithered from Joseph's arms and out of his lap .

" One down , two to go . " he said and took the guests complimentary stationary and ink pen from the nightstand . " Time to put in pseudonym work , guys . "

" Well , don't murder each other too badly while I'm gone . " the Samoan said , chortling . He left a big kiss on both of his guys foreheads .

" Gone ? " Jon blurted , sounding terrified .

Colby face had went pale .

" I have to go whizz . "

" Ohhhhhh . " Jon exhaled , pacified . " Majestic ! " he screamed giddily at Joe's wide back .

Colby eyed him up and down , shaking his head and 'tsk'-ing absolute disapproval .

" You ate an entire can of Play-Dough again today , didn't you ? "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" You really want to repeat ? Why ? ! "

" Because most of the other guys hair color is either atramentous or ... brown . I need a completely different look from theirs in order to stand out more , eye-catching and cool . "

The recently dubbed Dean snorted and rolled his eyes .

" You actually care about what people think about you ? ! Sometimes I can't tell if you're a moron or only temporarily don't know any better . "

" So you're going to complain but not help me ? "

" Sure , sure . " he threw his hands up and frowned at the stack of towels and bottle of peroxide . " I'll play along with the remake . Do we shoot it like before , scene for scene ? "

" Not precisely . " Seth coughed . He beckoned to his grumpy partner who accompanied him , trotting into the bathroom .

Ambrose splashed a palm full of the bubbling , fizzy liquid into his gloved hands , leaning over the sink .

" Stop , you are wasting it ! " Seth barked .

" You're whiny , Whiny McWhinerton . "

Rollins stuck his tongue out at Dean .

Ambrose responded by doing the same .

" Use the paintbrush . " the Iowan commanded after he clutched , squeezed and pulled at his soggy hair .

" Is that like the Force ? " Dean asked and kept spreading the peroxide through the long strands .

Seth grumbled and laughed at him .

" This would be easier . " Dean commented . " If we poured it into a bowl . More space to dip the brush . "

" Yeah but a bowl ? " Seth frowned . " You'd spill it . "

" I would not ! " Dean spun to glare at him . His elbow struck the bottle , toppling the container over onto its side .

" You - YOU asshole ! " Seth snarled , his face an instant , flaming dark red from his chin to his bangs . " You did that on purpose ! "

" I bumped into - "

Rollins slapped him so hard that his head jerked back .

" That was intentional , stupid ! Now I'm going to have bright , carrot - orange hair all because you have a moronic sense of humor ! "

Dean smacked him with the same power and rage behind it , growling .

" Stop hitting me , bastard ! "

" I'm going to keep hitting you , as long as you are a moron which is what you've been your entire life ! "

" You'll stop when I break all of your damn fingers ! "

They shoved each other back and forth , throwing punches , cursing and hair-pulling .

And fought their way to the bed .

Seth kneed him in the belly . Dean's hands crept north and caged his partner's throat , strangling him .

Rollins lashed out , kicking until he was freed , both guys sweating and panting .

" That's pretty damn hot . " Roman said , watching the duo go at it , one hand down the front of his thin flannel bottoms .

An idea struck him and it pulled no punches . He took from his own bags two cap-topped plastic bottles , one regular size and the other travel .

Baby oil , the same stuff that even the fuzziest , Sasquatch lookalikes with ' eighty pounds ' of shoulder hair traveled with and used weekly .

He thumped the big container on the nightstand , kept the smaller for himself and slipped his hands between his friends' lower halves .

Baggy pajama pants in midnight black cotton blend were easier to remove than patch-knee , threadbare , pale grey denim but he succeeded after a tussle and lots of patience .

He crouched at one side of the enormous bed , on the floor - not the best on his knees but the physical aches and pain were worth it .

He bent , craning his neck and pulling his friends closer , kissing and nibbling their scrotums , then parting their rears , ' motorboating ' the cracks and flicking his tongue over the pink skin .

After searching and a bit of a struggle , he caught their penises between both hands , stroking and squeezing , pressing softly on the two dicks .

" Joe ! "

" Romes ! "

They gasped , moaned and writhed and he smirked , popping the cap lid open and rubbing his palms together , coating his fingers slippery-shiny .

He entered slowly and fingered them , one with each hand while they shrieked and groaned , thrashing on the bedding .

" My guys . " he boasted , grinding against the side of the bed , his erection gliding across the rumpled sheets . " My men . "

" Romes ! "

Ambrose parroted his boyfriend's cries and they collapsed wearily , wet and shuddering .

Seth who had never had a refractory period that he hadn't introspectively argued with , was the first rejuvenated .

He propped up on his elbows , felt the tingle of sweat cooling , smiled and asked .

" So , boys , what was up with the blood ? "

Roman's brows shook . So did his gooey hands .

" What blood ? ! "

" Back when we split ... went our separate ways growing up . You - " he pointed to the duo . " And you mentioned cutting and bleeding . So tell me about it . "

" Yes , ma'am . " Ambrose teased , groaned and chortled . Reigns giggled , squirmed and mildly blushed .

" Awh , I grazed myself this one time shaving - a little cut , that's all - and Big Man here - " Roman pushed Dean playfully and giggled some more . " Goes at the blood like a hungry dog on hamburger steak , licking it and ... biting me , my throat and neck . "

Seth smirked , longingly and a bit envious .

" And you call me Dracula ? "

" Well , you dress like him . " Dean grinned . " All of your scalp to foot black clothing , Mister goth-emo maaannn ! "

" Hey , I like my clothes ! " Rollins fussed .

" No shit . " Dean chuckled .

" Ohhhhh , you're going to pay for laughing at me . " Seth gleefully hinted before straddling him and applying more lube .

Dean clawed at his back and enjoyed the ride . His spine curved when Romes joined in and inserted three long fingers , stretching to make ' roomier ' inside .

Seth took his time , relishing moving inside and then back and forth , switching places with Reigns after every pump .

Dean's entrance was packed , filled with Roman's engorged hard-on and Seth's penis as well , smaller than Joe's yet supremely vigorous .

" Damn ! " Rollins hissed , sighed and moaned . " I could get off from the feel of your enormous dick on top of mine , rubbing and stroking ... "

" Mmmmm hmmmm ... thanks . " Roman said , eyes partly shut , euphoric for the approaching orgasm .

" Hey ! Whooo hooo ! " Ambrose said , snapping his fingers at his men between the double dick thrusts they were giving him . " Around the clock caffeine and Pancakes , Rock , pancakes . I'm right here , okay , so don't forget me . "

" Like we would ever - " Seth promised , glints of respect , devotion , friendship and passion brightening his otherwise darkened pupils and coffee bean hued irises .

" Stop caring about - " Roman beamed , sighed and held on to his men as they took a breather , unwinding and gradually reviving . " And loving you . "

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

     

" Are you sure what we did was okay ? " Seth checked the air fryer again , peering at the food inside . " Six hundred dollars isn't couch cushion change for us right now and you have a child to provide for . "

" It's his combined gifts . " Roman replied , creased lines across his forehead . " Birthday and Christmas . Besides , it's for a good cause . We saved a life . You heard what that lady at the rescue said , the former owners were gonna have him put down because of his bladder issues . "

" Yeah but - " Seth got a fork and prodded a piece of chicken , nodded and beamed . " Yeah ! Success ! "

Roman checked out the munchies over the chef's shoulder .

" What were you saying , bragging man ? "

" If he likes ... " Seth indicated with his head bobbing , in the direction of the bathroom and the sounds coming from behind the closed door . " Then the vet bills will add up , the medications to buy , the possible future surgeries , the responsibility - "

" A bit of responsibility won't do him any harm . After all , you're the one that gripes enough that he should act more mature . "

" I did , however - " the Iowan blushed .

" No back-tracking now . It's far too late once you run your mouth . " Roman cracked a smile .

" Where is our Goetta go-getter anyway ? " Seth took a peek at the fries . They were crisp , steaming and browned evenly . He smirked and emptied the container onto an enormous , long platter surrounded by hills of napkins .

" I , personally , call him five way chili who prefers three ways . " Roman chuckled . " But that's just me and my wacky excuse for nicknaming . "

" Well , you weren't wrong . " Seth cackled . He gave his friend a big bottle of tangy , thick , red hued sauce to . " Here , coat the wings . "

Roman went to work , being careful not to splatter his clothes .

" He'll be here soon . His ... a few of his male buds from Dayton took him out-and-about . And he promised that he's coming back with noise makers , confetti , party horns , novelty items ... so prepare your body and mind for true terror . "

" I'm already in fear wondering those novelty items might be . "

" Woooooohooooo ! Yeahhhhhh ! "

The men flinched and turned towards the commotion - a thump at the main front entrance and clatter preceding .

Dean staggered into the kitchen , grinning his head off , shirtless and swathed in dozens upon dozens of strands of multicolored , plastic beads .

" Happy birthday , baby ! " Roman cried , lifting him off of the tile floor and twirling him around .

" My birthday is next week ... ohhh , we're doing it early . "

" Yeah , ' cause of work . "

Roman left the room and returned holding a plain navy blue tee , which he threw like a basketball at his topless partner .

Dean yanked the fabric over his face and neck and torso , tugged at short sleeves and glared at Seth .

" You ignoring me , skinny ? "

Seth rolled his eyes , scowled and scoffed .

" If by ignoring , you meant cooking some of your favorite foods today , then Hell yes ! I'm ignoring . "

Persistent , Ambrose urged them to wear tall , striped cloth top hats - a definite Dr Seuss inspired fashion statement - and big , plastic sunglasses with attached fake mustaches .

Sighing , groaning and mumbling some R and above rated language , his friends put on the silly accessories .

" This is too wacky for me . " Roman said , posturing as though he had a heavy weight on his shoulders and upper back .

" Yeeesh ! Alright , skinny , don't be your usual stick in the mud self ! I can't deal with both of my boyfriends having no sense of humor . "

" I have a sense of humor ! " Seth griped . " I laugh at you all the time ! "

Dean flipped him off , then narrowed his eyes and scrunched up his nose .

" What are you cooking ? ! It smells like dog piss ! "

Roman had pale pink spots blooming on his cheekbones .

" Ohhhhhh , that's your gift , my brother . "

" You ... got me dog piss ? "

" A dog . " Rollins grumbled and got busy plating the food . " Go see it first , then get your butt back in here and wash your hands ! "

" They'll only be coated in filth , germs and bacteria when I rub them in your face . " Ambrose replied , grinning .

He creaked the bathroom door open fully , revealing the floor covered with puppy training pads , a few toys , a round plush bed , a small , hard plastic travel crate with a blanket inside and a spill-proof water dish , over half full .

Dean laughed and cheered at the wrinkled potato lump of fur and wiggles blinking and yawning his way .

" Oooooooohhh , , little girl ... errr - " he picked up the puppy and held it above his head , Rafiki holding baby Simba style . " Little man . "

Roman chortled when his buddy flopped to the floor , the tiny baby bulldog growling and pawing at him , pulling and chewing on his hair and fingers and tee shirt .

" Don't let him on the carpet , ' kay ? "

" He'll behave , one hundred percent . And me , seventy-ish . " Dean rolled over on his back , making kissy-faces at the puppy . The small bulldog climbed onto the human male's stomach .

" What's his name , you think ? " Roman asked , patting the canine and his offbeat owner .

" Huh . Uhmmmm ... " Ambrose leaned over and put his ear to the dog's droopy , soft muzzle . " Oh ! He says it's Blue . "

" Blue ? " Seth wondered , brows arched and half-smirking . " You're sure ? He's sure ? "

Dean sighed and ' tsk-ed ' , clucking his tongue .

" Noooooo , he's Blue . " he looked at the puppy who was chomping on the cuff of his denim jeans and play-barking , little yips of joy and determination . " See ? He likes my jeans and my shirt and the color of 'em so that's his name . "

Roman laughed and ruffled Dean's hair , the ends of it .

" If you're happy , then I am , always . "

" How about making me happy ? Sing along with me , would you ? " Seth reappeared , hauling in a platter nearly overflowing with fries and chicken wings formed into a lackluster attempt at a cake shape .

" Yeah , I will ! " Dean rushed to his aid , the act of kindness not going unseen .

Roman placed the yapping bulldog into his crate temporarily , cleared his throat and joined in the melody .

" Happy Birthday to you , Happy Birthday toooo yooooouuuuuuuu ... "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" Uh . "

" Yeah . "

" We . Look . Like . Mimes . "

They peered at their black turtleneck clad , restless , grimacing counterparts reflecting in the cherry wood , triple view , four feet tall dressing room mirror .

" Well . " Dean took charge , swallowed his fear and picked up the clear , thick , bullet-proof Lexan plastic riot shield , holding it above his head .

" You got butterflies too or is it just me ? " Roman asked him , teasing .

" Death's head moths . " Seth stated and giggled , jittery .

" Mine's butterflies . " Dean admitted . " Enormous ones , the size of those flying buffaloes . "

" Neither domesticated or wild cattle of any type can fly . " Rollins frowned .

" Then where do their wings come from ? ! " Ambrose snapped .

" Okay , guys , that's enough . " Roman lifted and carried his own riot shield .

" You don't need those . " a well-known , sandpaper rough voice avouched from the doorway . " Do you ? I don't think that you do and let me explain why . "

" Yeah , I don't see the point of these salad bar sneeze-guards either . " Dean piped up . " Bring on the meat and potatoes ! "

Seth groaned , seemingly in pain . Well , now they were surely getting fired .

Except ... except Vince wasn't looking at him or Dean either . All his focus appeared to be on Romes .

" You can brawl . " the true Boss said , stepping closer . " Use your kicks , punch your opponents , knock them around ... but - "

The trio watched silently as Vince sneered .

" These are insignificant . You don't need to rely on cheap weapons - "

" What are your feelings about expensive ones ? " Dean asked and Seth elbowed him in the gut immediately .

" Fight from the inside , battle by using your heart . "

If Rollins had any liquids in his mouth at that moment , he would have done a spit-take . He swore that Vince had just winked at Roman !

" Uhm . "

Oe maybe nerves caused to him to hallucinate .

Perhaps or possibly not , whatever . Ro-Jo was pretty pink-cheeked either way .

" Old man's right ! " Ambrose vocally burst through the silence , cheerful and energetic . " Time to ditch the plastic crap and smash a lot of skulls , guys ! "

The other two guys glanced at one another , agreeing mutely , brotherly ESP .

They huddled as three , touched foreheads , fist-bumped , grinned and sprinted down the halls backstage .

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" This is being in the spotlight , huh ? " Dean wondered , the excited masses clamoring around him .

" Big time . " Seth agreed , shuddering .

" Family's here , so that puts a smile on my face anyway . " Roman turned to look and wave at Gerlinde and Josephine , his parents and a dozen more of his relatives .

" Gets rid of the butterflies ... most of them . " Seth spotted his Mom and Dad and grinned , also waving .

He balked , then snorted . Jon had seen his parents too .

" So - feeeeeee - yaaaaaaa ! " Dean swung upside down from the top and middle ropes , winking , grinning and blowing kisses . " Here I am , look at meeeee ! "

Rollins glowered .

" Help me haul his sorry ass back over here before he falls on his empty , dumb skull ! "

Each grabbed an arm and leg , yanked and tugged , giggling and scowling .

" Easy , tough guy , you're the reason that the seats of the womens chairs are wet six rows back . " Roman beamed , patting his friend's shoulders .

Backstage , Joe was practically engulfed by aunts and uncles , cousins , nephews and nieces , all full of praise and applause .

Raul spoke highly of the trio as well .

" Your first big Mania event but not the last and every one of them will be more amazing and fantastic than the one before . " he declared .

" I think he's saying that our in-ring work sucks . " Seth quipped and chuckled .

Dean stood far back , apart from the families , wringing his hands and biting his lower lip , lightly and naturally tanned face now wan .

" And now it is time for your ¡ Sorpresa ! " Sofia blurted , hugging her adopted boy for what seemed like a thousand times .

" Sorpresa ? ! What anaknkal ? " Seth struggled and broke out of her grasp .

" Well , me ... if you don't mind . " Phyre appeared from a nearby corridor .

" Of course I don't mind ! " the Iowan shrieked , sweeping his birth mother into a breath grabbing embrace .

" He can't mind , too frikkin ' dumb " Ambrose murmured sadly , staring at his own boots , crestfallen and forsaken while his partners were told over and over how loved and admired they were by their families .

He knew full well , far down in his heart , that had his parents still been alive , they wouldn't be there like everyone else's .

They had never cared about him .

No one car -

A small warmth in his palm and his pulse fluttered , brain back-flipped , heart leaped and danced .

Sofia nodded and smiled , their fingers linked .

" Things in your life will become better . "

Dean grinned . He was glowing , levitating .

" Ahh , life is pretty darn remarkable right now . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" First time main roster pay , yeghbayrner ! " Seth forked over the long envelopes before tearing open the top of his own .

" Are ... are we supposed to share this ? ! " Dean wondered , turning the paper upside down and around and around .

" Nawh , man , it's one for each of us . " Roman answered and went rigid and aphasic .

" Fifty grand a month ? ! Damn , I wasn't making half of that in a year . "

" It is impressive . " Seth agreed .

" Oh , hell yeah , it is ! " Dean realized , his mouth spilling open . " And we are stars ! Our merch sells , the fans love us , the women love me the most and I can't blame them ... "

His Midwestern boyfriend flipped him off .

" So - so this is going to grow , increase our pay to where we'll be making a million or more each year , I'd bet . " Ambrose laughed .

" Well , after taxes , hotel stays , bills , other expenses ... you'd be down to - " Seth began to enlighten his friend .

Roman was suddenly dizzy , pale and cold-sweating .

" Still plenty to keep the bills paid and hundreds left over . Thousands ! " Ambrose grinned and gave the check a big , slobbery smooch . " And my parents didn't want me , thought I was worthless . "

" Your parents were cretins . " Roman said in a feeble tone of voice , choked and ran for the bathroom .

" Ro-Joe ? " Seth called out , worried .

" Maybe he's barfing . " Dean shrugged , then glared at him . " Get off of his case and leave him alone . "

" Excuse me for being concerned and worrying about one of my friends , grouch ! " Rollins snapped .

" Drop the bickering , children " Joe re-entered the hotel room's living area . " I'm fine , I'm happy . Now I can afford to provide for my family like I've been wanting to for years . A big , nicer home for my daughter and Gerlinde . A real wedding , at last . Repaying and splurging for my other relatives ... "

Dean grinned and danced a little , hopped up and squeeze - hugged Roman . Seth joined them , smiling .

" No more struggling to get by ! " Roman cheered .

" No more eating boxed mac ' n ' cheese . " Seth said , collapsing happily in the recliner .

Dean smacked him in the face with a mint green pinstripe decorative pillow .

" Hey , speak for yourself , I like that slimy , processed , melted cheese glop . "

" Yeah , you do , sweetheart . You do . " Rollins mischievously pulled him onto his lap . They worked together to tug Roman along , down with them until the trio was smushed close in the chair .

The excess weight toppled the recliner sideways . Whooping and snickering loudly , the three men fell to the carpet , beaming , embracing and holding hands .

" Gentlemen . " Seth cleared his throat , smirked and flipped his tresses back . " We are the future . "

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

" We'll start with vegetable dumplings and spring rolls , spicy tofu and fried softshell crabs . Also , coconut chicken soup , seafood scallion pancakes and Thai beef salad . And for dessert , green tea lava cake with mochi ice cream . "

Dean crossed his eyes , tongue out . Seth scowled at him and Roman lifted the menu higher to hide an out of the blue grin .

The waitress rapidly scribbled , smiled and replaced her pencil when the tiny lead point snapped .

" Six bottles of Fiji , two beers and two sakes . Thank you . "

" Sushi , now ? " Dean pleaded , looking impatiently and with longing at the conveyor belt .

" Let's go at it , men . " Roman said , rising from his chair .

" In public ? ! "

" He means the food . " Seth replied fondly . grabbed his hand and pulled him forward , the trio snickering . " You big dummy . "

Before they could eat any of the ika and tako nigiri , the salmon and tuna sashimi , Dragon and Rainbow rolls , a short , white haired man with a kind and wrinkled face pushed a little cart to their table .

He smiled , tapped his shiny gold name tag and made hand motions , pointing to various decor and furniture in the building .

" Oh ! " Roman understood . " He's the owner , guys . "

" Well , nice to meet ya , Boss . " Dean shook the elderly male's hand and dipped his head down quickly in a makeshift attempt at bowing .

Seth took charge in hopes of preventing further embarrassment , also giving the owner a hand shake .

" The food here is some of the greatest and most delicious that we've ever had ! "

The elderly male smiled again , appearing slightly nervous and after a moment of hesitation , presented them with action figures sealed in package , tees and full color eight by tens .

And three black Sharpies .

Ambrose chortled and grinned .

" Ahh , so it's you give and we give , huh ? Nobody gets things for free . "

The old man nodded and patted the area over his heart .

" Well , who are we to let down our fans ? " Roman began writing his ' stage name ' on the cotton blend of the shirts , one by one .

" ' Specially when they have such dam - darn good food . " Seth ate another chunk of hibachi sirloin and reached for a Sharpie and a boxed toy that slightly resembled his physical appearance .

" Good food and good drink . " Dean recited , gulping beer before and after speaking . He glanced at his friends . " I'm Good and they have ink . "

The elderly owner chortled and watched , serene and enthralled as the trio autographed every piece of merch .

Keeping one hand in place , over his heart the entire time .

" Have you noticed that we're the only customers in this joint ? "

" Dummy-Brose is partly intoxicated and using the karaoke machine . I wouldn't set foot in here either . " Rollins quipped , drinking a swig of spring water and munching on gyoza .

Joe's smile quirked and bounced . They ate and drank and kept their ' in older brother and Dad mode ' eyes on Dean , who not only tipsy but also singing ' Wrecking Ball ' and ' We Can't Stop ' ... off-key .

" And this next song is also about spider monkeys ! " he exclaimed , pointing at and speaking to an empty chair .

A waitress passed by , cocked her head , observed and was rather flabbergasted by performance , giggled and strolled on .

" Should we grab him yet , haul his butt back over here ? " Roman asked dryly , chin propped on a hand and elbow barely resting on the cloth covered tabletop .

" Remember the wood fired oven , authentic Italian pizza place ? " Seth reminded him . " Once he starts going on and on about flying pink elephants - "

Reigns grinned , sticking his tongue out two inches .

" Then we call for a cab . "

" Uhm hmmm . " Seth sighed , ate a spicy tuna roll and shishito peppers and moved over before the wobbling , returning Ambrose shoved him out of the booth seating .

Dean squealed and nabbed Reigns ' Bud . Roman frowned and reclaimed it .

" You've already had vodka and Jim Beam . Take it easy , man . "

" Taaaaaake it eeeeeeeeeeeasy . Ease . Ease . Eeee . E . Eeeeeeeaaaassssy ! " Dean mimicked , slurring a little .

" You ain't breakin ' hearts , just cracking window glass . " Seth muttered , placing a piece of chicken tempura in his wasted boyfriend's mouth to shut him up .

" Like Stone Cold Steve Austin ? " Dean asked after he'd chewed and swallowed .

" Not exactly . " Roman said .

His gaze wandered and focused clearly , then he sat straighter and glowered .

" Problem , Uce ? " Rollins clutched Ambrose when he tilted at a painful looking angle .

" That's why nobody beside us are here ! " Joe griped , gesturing at the enormous crowd across the street forming a extremely long double line outside the hottest VIP nightclub .

" Well , then , they'll starve . " Dean said , merrily sloshed . " Yeah , let ' em starve ! "

" Yeah ... no . " Seth fussed , standing . " That guy - the owner - has been cool to us so why don't we repay him by drumming up business ? "

" Help him make big money ? " Reigns ' face lit up and his eyes sparkled . " I'll be glad to . "

Dean burped and speedily nodded .

Seth took the karaoke machine into consideration .

" I have an idea . "

" That's a first . " Ambrose said sarcastically . " You can't take it outside in the rain , unless you're willing to fork over the cash to replace an expensive item . "

Rollins suffered through an Ah - Ha ! moment , his mouth agape .

" You were pretending to be drunk ? ! "

Dean blew a kiss and winked .

" Fooled ya . "

Roman almost said something , then decided against it and tugged a dish of baked green mussels and tonkatsu into his eager grasp .

" What else have you been faking ? ! " Seth demanded to know .

" Thaaaaaaat's for you to find out , pretty boy . "

" Aaauuclugh ! " Roman coughed , grabbing a napkin when water streamed out his nose as he guffawed . " Guys ! "

" He started it ! " The other two men pointed at one another .

"