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Wild Roses

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The worst thing to hear in the morning was a blaring alarm clock screaming at the top of its lungs because it so happened that its owner had a track record of sleeping through it.


Today, however, with a headache already manifesting in Jesse's skull the alarm managed to do its job and the man in bed groaned drowsily slamming his hand on top of the machine, a sigh of relief escaping him when the noise cut and he was draped back into the comforting arms of silence. It didn't take much convincing for Jesse to decide that maybe... just a couple more minutes would help relieve the obvious hangover from last night.


Just as he was starting to drift away, past Jesse had accounted for this and his alarm screamed back to life not even 5 minutes later.


"mn... fuck alright," Jesse grumbled to himself as he reached out again to stop the shrieking beast. He flopped onto his back staring blankly at the ceiling, in the popcorn splatter above him he searched for the vague shape of a dogs maw he had noticed when he first moved here. He always had a hard time seeing it again and every time he could find the imaginary shape in the random patterns on the ceiling he knew it would be a good day. Satisfied it only took him a couple minutes to find the elusive pattern he shifted upwards groaning again and reaching for his aching head.


Knowing he needed to be at work in an hour he swung his legs over the side of his bed and stood, lazily scratching at the dusting of a treasure trail leading down from his belly button into his underwear. He padded into his bathroom and stripped what was left on his body from the night before, turning the knobs in his shower to scalding, he made quick work of washing himself and his hair trying to get the thick grime of yesterday off of him.
Once he was finished washing in the thick heat that did nothing more but makes him feel even more tired he reached forward twisting the knob sharply to cold.


It took a couple moments for the water to catch up with his request easing him slowly into it. However, once the warm water was gone it was replaced with an icy spray. He was used to this treatment now and barely flinched as the chilly water made quick work of making him feel a lot more clear headed and sober.


Back in high school, an old girlfriend suggested that cold water after washing kept your pores clear and skin healthier. He wasn't sure if that was true but he knew it was a damned good way of motivating him to wake up faster.


Once his skin goose bumped and prickled with the coming shivers he turned the water off, shuttering to himself and reaching for a towel left hanging on a hook next to the shower.


Drying off mostly in the shower he stepped out and headed slowly toward the mirror. Wiping away the leftover steam clinging to the surface he gave himself a long blank stare.


His rather solemn face stared back at him. His shoulder-length black hair clung to his neck and hung in thick wet strands. He leaned forward inspecting the patchy look of his attempt of a beard. It would be winter soon enough and he was trying to finally attempt to grow a beard but well.. it looked like absolute trash.


Without remorse, he reached for the razor and shaved off the dreadful neckbeard and unsightly hairs attempting to grow from his jaw and cheeks. He left a little bit of scruff on his chin liking at least the smallest amount of facial hair he could manage.


Smoothing his hands over his now clean-shaven cheeks he inspected his snake bite piercings knowing that one of them got clogged and regrettably infected a couple weeks ago from just how greasy his job was.
Prodding around the hole he was satisfied that it seemed clean and pus free. Rooting around the cupboards he found the black opal ball and after sterilizing it with rubbing alcohol he put it back in its rightful place. Happy he was finally symmetrical again he worked a brush through his hair knowing it was always a tangled mess even if he tried every trick in the book to help make it healthier...well aside from eating right, exercising and going to bed at a reasonable time.


After dealing with his hair he quickly brushed his teeth and got dressed, his uniform for the Chinese buffet he worked for always lived in his washroom and after smelling the pits he determined it was clean enough for today... he made a mental reminder in the back of his brain to throw it in the wash when he got home though.


Deciding he looked decent enough for the day he grabbed the motorcycle helmet off his kitchen table, perched in the middle like a shiny black egg in a nest of garbage and papers. He tucked the helmet under his arm for now and exited his apartment sulking down the long hall toward the garage.
Despite dropping out from community college two years ago he still got the discounted rate for his room since his uncle owned the building. The older man said it was only because he was going to school but even now he still lets the young adult live here at half the price. Which suited Jesse just fine in his opinion, all he had to deal with was the old man badgering him about going back to school and he would always reply back with a "maybe next year". Jesse wasn't sure if he ever would go back...


He dreamed of college since he was a middle schooler thinking he would finally find his people and his place in the world... but if anything he found the drama was maybe even worse then high school and middle school combined. Then again it didn't help there is only one college in this whole town so it made it very hard to not come face to face with the exact same people he had to deal with in high school as well.


It honestly wasn't worth it to go back at this point, besides if he ever had the hankering to sell his soul to the whims of 'paid' education he'd rather move out of this shithole of a town and learn film in Hollywood. Rolling his eyes at his own thoughts and long crushed dreams he comes up to his street bike in his parking space.


The helmet slides on easily and after a couple revs, he quickly peels out of the parking garage and onto the early morning September chill. With the sun only just starting to cast its light across the roads Jesse was careful when he took the exit onto the highway even if he knew most of the roads would be dead at this time it didn't stop the loggers or the oil rig semi-trucks from using this valuable time to get further on their long hauls.


His motorcycle was often another gripe he had to deal with whenever he spoke to his family. They always complained it was more dangerous than a car and that he couldn't even drive it in the long winters where the weather dipped below 40° and snow was known to hit anywhere between 3-5 feet. It wasn't like he rode his bike in winter anyway, the buses were reliable enough and if it really came down to it he was used to walking in the snow anyways.


He accelerated his bike and swerved between two cars that decided being slow in the fast lane was a smart idea.


His parents couldn't tear this bike out of his cold dead hands thank you very much. Closed in vehicles made him car sick and claustrophobic. When he was on his bike he felt free and invincible, plus with all the shitty drivers in the world having a smaller speedier bike meant he could outmanoeuvre easier then he could have with some shitty car. He took a turn off and drove for a couple more minutes lazily taking a couple lefts and rights until he was in the upper side of town.
He pulled up into the parking lot of "General Fang's Chinese Buffet" and yawned his drowsiness catching up to him. Taking his helmet off he checked his phone wondering if he had enough time to pop into a Tim Horton's before his shift started officially. Seeing that he only had 10 minutes and the nearest timmys was often overly busy at this time he sighed heavily. Accepting he would probably have to drink the sludge in the break room they all assumed was 'coffee'. At least that shit got him through the day.


He patted his pants down for the keys to the building and unlocked it. Swiftly tapping in the code to disarm the alarm. He placed his things upstairs in his employee locker before pulling an apron over his slim hips and getting to work prepping the food for the lunch rush.


He had a good gig here too he liked to believe, constant full-time hours during the weekdays and the owner liked to joke he was his "Canadian goth son" Not that he was goth! But Mr. Fang was somewhat eccentric and loved teasing and picking on his favourite employees. He could live with it, the man treated him well enough and he replayed that trust by making sure everything was up to standards and coming in on his days off if he was needed. It wasn't like he had a life so he was more often than not just at home smoking weed and playing video games in his underwear.


Jesse was by himself for the better part of an hour before he heard another member open the employee entrance. He glanced up from his chopping to see Jacob, Mr. Fang's real son, smirk at him waving a peace sign in greeting before stomping upstairs to grab his own apron. Jesse could call Jacob a good work friend, they didn't hang out too often outside of the restaurant save for when Jesse was low on dope since the 18-year-old somehow had a much better source than him. Speaking of which...


"Hey, Jake, Got any good shit today?" Jesse asked as the shorter man joined him in the kitchen helping pack the veggies he was prepping into containers so everything was ready and proportioned for lunch and dinner buffet. Jacob tilted his head and snorted stealing a slice of carrot and munching on it absently.


"That depends... see I wanted to bring all of my stuff to this party down on 104th street... so it might cost ya" Jacobs brown eyes sparkled in devilish delight at Jesse's exasperated face.


"mm, I heard that was going to be a little girl party man... what're they needing good shit like that for?" Jesse whined forcibly chopping celery a little harder than needed. Jacobs' hand reached out to steal a slice of that as well and Jesse was quicker to slap it out of his hand.


"Beggers can't be choosers Jesse" Jacob laughed heartily before seeming to mull it over.


"Fine you know I always got your back... leave me a 50 in my locker at your break and I'll put it in my usual place" Jacob finally said with a sigh.


The rest of the day went by rather smoothly without so much as a hitch in Jesse's comfortable typical schedule.


As he was leaving for the day he was pleasantly surprised to find a couple grams extra then what he paid for sitting inside his helmet and he pocketed the baggy discreetly already looking forward to being home and taking a test trial of this new stuff.


The ride home was always busier than the ride there. He had to slam his brakes when a man took a last minute turn in front of him not even bothering to use his signal to warn any of the drivers also sharing the road with him. Mood ruined he couldn't wait to get home and took a shortcut through the residential district not wanting to deal with any more shitty drivers on the highway. He couldn't go as fast and he had to be wary of children darting into the middle of the road but it was enough to chill him out. Passing by the grocery store made him pause and he double backed remembering he needed to actually eat something later and his fridge at home was... less than sanitary at this point.
After picking himself up an assortment of snacks and a frozen dinner he finally made it home. Parking his baby in her spot, Jesse all but ran up down the hallway leading to his apartment. Once he was home he exhaled deeply and tossed his things wherever they would land making a straight beeline for his couch.


Pushing several empty cans of beer out of the way he took out his grinder and the baggy from Jacob. He took a moment to inspect the fine crystalline structures clinging to the purple-tinged bud. This was good shit appearance-wise, but there was only one way to be absolutely sure.
Daft experienced fingers quickly rolled himself a fat joint and he stuck it between his lips while he dug around his couch for a lighter he knew was there somewhere. Finally finding his prize he hummed triumphantly to himself quickly flicking the roller and the flame lapped at the end of his tightly rolled smoke.


He settled down on the couch with the first couple deep drags letting the semi-sweet and earthy smoke fill his lungs and roll over his tongue. He exhaled a white plume and smacked his lips in interest. Skunky taste but the mellow vibes were already quickly settling along his body and he took another slower inhale enjoying the feel of the sticky smoke.


Definitely feeling pretty good right now Jesse reached for the remote for his tv flicking it on and wondering if his favourite YouTuber uploaded anything new.
It didn't take long for a brand new thumbnail to enter his sights and he immediately clicked on it a small smile pressing against his lips. As sad as it was to admit, there was only one thing he looked forward to most of all.


The perky blond man immediately filled the screen and Jesse felt his heart soar even further.


Cole Explores was the simple bit effective name of the channel where a 20 something man named Cole would explore old decrepit buildings across North America. The buildings often came with their fair share of ghost stories and even if the young man dabbled into investigating these supposed 'ghost' stories - Which Jesse was a complete skeptic when it came to the paranormal- he couldn't help being drawn to the man's enthusiastic and genuine interest in these old buildings.


Plus the other man may very well be Jesse's ideal type... so having some eye candy to watch was a bonus.


Jesse hadn't realized how gay he actually was until one disastrous relationship with his previous Ex made him rethink it. Everything seemed to fit right into place after he started exploring that side of himself more. He never acted on his desires however content to secretly enjoy Cole's handsome boyish face in the privacy of his own home and pretend he was straight the other 90% of his time.


"Ah I wonder if this is a photo of the family that used to live here" Coles voice drew Jesse out of his lazy daydreaming, and on the video the picture of a young looking couple clutching a newborn baby. The camera juggled a little in Coles' hands and he smiled down at it with that adorably charismatic look on his face.


"Like always I like collecting the photos I find in these places... just in case they belong to someone I can return them to their rightful owners. " Cole explained in episodes before he often found old photos vandalized or torn with age and it made him sad to think someone's precious memories would be forgotten. Even if nobody claimed the photos he would often look through them and that was enough for him to hopefully think the people in the photos and their happy memories were preserved.


It was all very sweet and silly but it just made Jesse's heart clench pleasantly. Cole was wonderfully cute and he could hear him talk and explore abandoned buildings for days.
The video was ending right as Jesse was taking his final drag from the joint, the last little bits of the roach hard to hold onto. He nearly inhaled the whole fucking thing however when the promo for the next building was shown.


An overly excited looking Cole standing in front of a vastly familiar looking hotel.


"Tune in next week for this very special episode. I've been wanting to do this one for months now and this building holds a dear place in my heart. The Rose Water Inn holds many incredible ghost stories and its located in my very own hometown!" Cole grinned and waved as the video faded to black showing the usual links to his other social media and patron.


Jesses heart, however, was stalling. He reached forward with shaky hands and paused at the spanning view of the hotel. Rose Water... that inn was in this town... It was only three blocks from his job. Cole lived here?? Feeling like he was suddenly very blessed by this life-changing information he looked up the address for the inn confirming it was close to work... He could theoretically pop in after work and spot the man of his dreams and fantasy right... here in the city, he lived his whole life.


But, more rationally as his brain stopped stalling on the shell shock of it all he realized that would be ...incredibly creepy. The internet personality has his own life and even if he has shown in video the couple times fans managed to spot him in their own towns and even if he always seemed happy to talk or whatever Jesse couldn't help thinking it would be different for him.


He could imagine it now.


"Hey I'm your biggest fan I totally jerk it to your image sometimes- we should hang out!"
Yeah no. Jesse grumbled a little to himself as he clicked on the link to Coles Twitter kicking himself as he scrolled through trying to see when he would be at the Rose Water. He often kept his fans updated on twitter for when new videos were released as well some behind the scenes videos and pictures. It wasn't long until the face of the Hotel was pictured and he gulps.


"Special thanks ahead of time to @Danholster for the interview and letting me come in after-hours this Saturday!"


Jesses throat was dry. This Saturday... today was Wednesday and he was off on the weekends.


Completely bewildered with himself he decided he would maybe... drive by and see if he could get a look at the other... it wasn't like he was going to stalk and harass him he just wanted to see if it was true.


Yeah... That was the only reason he tried to rationalize, already making a memo on his phone about it.