Terror reigned through Erik’s mind. One minute, he had been spectating the news on his phone as his cousin drove the car they were in. They were on the way to this restaurant T’Challa insisted was the best in the world, in which Erik debated the statement considering all the places he had gone to eat before, especially in Philadelphia. The two had just left the car to make their way into the building. But out of nowhere, he watched as a woman collided her head with a glass panel and it mortified him. This was nothing new to him, the same type of incident flooded the news – mass suicides to quote the news report. But he never expected to see it in person and all he could think about was how to get away from it.
Could he get away from it? What was the reason for this? All of that processed through his mind the instance he witnessed the incident and he was desperate to figure out what to do next. He attempted to garner attention from his horrified cousin by shaking him but the older man seemed hypnotized by the ghastly sight of the woman deliberately trying to kill herself as civilians around began to get more petrified by the increasing number of people around them doing the same thing.
“T’Challa!” Erik yelled. With no other option in mind, he yanked the man’s arm and it seemed to bring him back down to Earth. Eyes bulged and mouth heavily panting to find a simple breath, T’Challa's eyes laid on Erik and they were finally on the same page. The first instinct was to run to their car and they did so, abandoning the restaurant that could have created such good memories for the two. The second the doors closed Erik checked his phone but there was no signal.
“Erik, what is happening? Is it that thing they were talking about?”
T’Challa slipped through the traffic, not taking any risks and Erik grew frustrated with the lack of signal which meant he could not find an update on what was happening in the world. But he did not need the internet to see what was happening. Multiple people had tried to throw themselves in front of T’Challa’s all-black Range Rover and it was clear that whatever virus was coercing people into killing themselves was in America now.
“Shit, I don’t know! Just get us out of here!”
Despite his best efforts, T’Challa hit one person and it stunned him. He didn’t change direction in his route but with eyes watering and quivering lips, Erik could see his cousin was more than mentally damaged by the sight of his car hitting a person.
“Bast...I hit someone!”
“T, fuckin’ concentrate, please! We need to get outta here, like now!”
They continued to drive through the city and soon T’Challa could not put together what to do next. He thought about where they would go next but it was not exactly easy. Even if they were to go to his homeland of Wakanda, they would need to fly there and who was to say their plane wouldn’t interact with whatever was making everyone commit suicide.
Soon emotional confusion struck T’Challa’s mind. He had a younger sister and a mother who lived there, what if this plague had reached their country? He needed to get there to ensure they were safe but he also needed to make sure Erik was safe. All Erik had in this world was his family, and-
Erik never noticed T’Challa’s lack of speech. He’d assumed it was down to nerves but when he looked at T’Challa there was something different to him. Once his palms clenched on the steering wheel Erik tried to get a response from him the second he noticed T’Challa’s eyes becoming fiery with what looked like sorrow.
T’Challa’s pupils were much different than before and out of nowhere, his hands jerked on the wheel which sent the car turning erratically and Erik became frightened. He placed his hands on the wheel and battled T’Challa for control of the car.
“T’Challa! Please, fucking say something!”
He began to weep as the car barely avoided the other vehicles in the road and he pleaded for T’Challa to listen to him.
No response. Before he knew it, the car flipped over and everything froze for Erik while the car flew in the air. He could see the despair in T’Challa’s eyes, the desperation to leave this world.
Upon impact, everything went black for Erik and he could not do anything.
When he woke up, everything hurt. He could immediately detect a bust lip and damage to his hands – most likely shards of glass had impaled his fingers. But he could not see T’Challa and that was what scared him the most.
“Uh...T...where are you...” he barely managed to mumble with slumping eyes and a mouth full of blood. He could see T’Challa pulling himself out of the car and he tried his hardest to do the same in time. “T’Challa...please...you the only family I’ve got...”
Erik pulled himself out and attempted to push himself up to his feet in time to stop his cousin from doing something that could never be undone.
Desperation devoured Erik as he held onto the side of the car and when he looked at T’Challa, the man never even turned before stepping forwards and disappeared from Erik’s sight along with the car that struck him. Seconds after watching T’Challa end his life, Erik’s body simply gave up and he fell back down, staring at the ground wide-eyed and shakily breathing.
There was no way. This had to be a sick, warped dream that Erik's mind insisted on playing.
But he was not waking up, and as it became more real for him he began to feel the devastation topple on top of his body.
His words were feeble mumbles and survival didn't seem much worth it from where he was. The one person who had looked past everything and built a healthy, family bond with him had just killed himself. All those years of T'Challa defending Erik from people who judged him, tried to beat him, the one time T'Challa had saved him from something worse than death, and Erik could not even pay back the favor of saving his cousin.
Erik slumped against the flipped car and ignored the hundreds of civilians running through the streets. He had no interest in escaping whatever the fuck this was so he sat there waiting for death to collect him. Instead, he collected another man's attention. He never looked up to see the man spot him in the road, running from the opposite direction of the lane they had flipped the car in.
But he heard someone shout out to him, even if it was to no avail.
"Hey! Yo, you gotta get out of the road!"
Erik sat there, in a spell, and ignored the stranger's words.
All he wanted was to hear T'Challa's voice again.
So the man cursed to himself and continued to push past the running people in order to reach Erik. He could see the despair in Erik's mannerisms and noticed blood on Erik's forehead. When the man shook him he suddenly felt like he'd been pinched and woken up from a dream. Everything wasn't muffled or blurry anymore.
"Hey! You can't stay here, come with me," the man offered and he picked Erik up, quickly pushing his head down straight after. "Keep your eyes down."
Erik felt confused but allowed the man to take his arm and lead him in the direction of stairs which he could only think would lead to a huge house given the condition and aesthetics of the pathway.
As they reached the front door Erik heard explosions, the smashing of glass, all kinds of things which he knew were more-or-less confirmed deaths. The man next to him tried to barge the door open but there was no response. Erik didn't want to be the cause of a second death - he felt as if had T'Challa not visited him, he'd be in his own country right now and alive - so he tried to help the man in getting the door open.
"Open the door!" The bearded man demanded. Erik remained mute in the situation but still attempted to get the door open. After about five seconds, a woman joined them in attacking the door and yelled too.
"Police! Open the fucking door!"
Her words seemed to work as the door opened and the man continued in assisting Erik into the house while ensuring their eyes remained away from whatever was in the sky doing all of this.
It seemed the older man was not happy about letting them in but he wasn't the apparent owner of the house, so they knew there was no immediate threat of them being kicked out.
For the rest of the day, the rest of the population in the house discussed incidents of how they had seen the disaster first hand. One woman had seen her colleague dive out of the business skyscraper and ran down the rest of the stairs in case she was influenced to act in the same way. Another saw a man light himself on fire. Erik had been sitting away from the group, on the couch in the living room while the rest were stood in the kitchen. The only one he really heard was the female cop's story about her superior officer discussing a potential promotion and suddenly reaching for her gun to kill himself.
While he kept to himself, the man who had saved him instructed for everyone to cover the windows and as they complied he slowly walked into the living room to see what he could get from Erik considering he'd been subtly watching him sitting on his own. Erik remained in a stoic state until the man sat directly next to him and looked at him.
"So...what's your name? You ain't said much since we met," he started. He wanted to add on his own introduction to the conversation but he also felt like whatever was going on with the man next to him, he'd need time to answer, he was visibly shaken.
The first time he opened his mouth, nothing came out. The second was much more successful.
"I'm..." Erik began. He sighed and rubbed his temple before ascending his head and turning to look at the man. "I'm Erik."
Hearing Erik speak made the stranger smile and he almost felt as if it was inappropriate to smile but by the looks of it, Erik needed a friendly face.
"I'm Chiron, call me Chi if you want."
His voice was a firm, deep tone and Erik appreciated how much more secure he felt while listening to Chiron talk. Their eyes met again once Erik looked down and back up, this time he wasn't so sure if whether or not he wanted to look away again.
"Under different circumstances, it'd be nice to meet you I guess," Erik chuckled lightly. He was still hurting from T'Challa. "Thanks for helping me out there."
Chiron shrugged his shoulders and his eyes rested easy in Erik's sights.
"It's all good. I'm guessing you saw something that really fucked you up, huh?"
Suddenly Erik was snapped from his friendly spell and felt sick. His throat felt like it was bulging and he stood up almost instantly stood up.
"I, uh, need to use the bathroom."
It was a big house but Erik had seen one like this before. Once he walked away from Chiron he ignored the oak handrails and ran up the stairs, almost tripping in a hurried state. He looked around with desperation to find the bathroom and he found it in time to throw up in the toilet, even if it was with the door open. His throat burned and his nostrils became clogged as he let everything out and once the concluding launches of sick were over he dropped to his knees with an arm rested on the seat of the toilet.
For a while all Erik could do was sob silently to himself.
All he had was himself.
Chiron sat on the couch, thinking 'fuck' to himself and potentially ruining an opportunity to talk more to Erik.
After a handful of minutes, Chiron slowly followed the direction of Erik and took his time walking up the remainder of the stairs once he saw the bathroom door was opened. He used his hand to cover his eyes in case the bathroom window had been left open for anyone to look out of.
"Erik? You in there?"
He could hear light sobbing and there was no threat to be seen in the bathroom so he lowered his hand and entered the room.
"He's gone..." Erik murmured. Chiron could tell this was something to do with the outbreak so he moved next to Erik and flushed the toilet once he saw the sick.
The short-haired man helped Erik move away from the toilet and closed the door behind them so they could sit shoulder-to-shoulder against it. This time Erik didn't seem so hesitant to talk.
"My cousin. T'Challa. He was visiting for a few days and he, he was driving the car you found me by. He looked so scared, fuck, I couldn't stop him," Erik recollected. Thinking back on it made him cry even more and Chiron felt deep compassion for him so he wrapped an arm around Erik to comfort him and allowed him to sob into his shirt. Despite the agony he felt, Erik was more than grateful for having a shoulder to cry on. It had only been about less than a day but to Erik, it was a lifetime. So many members of his family had despised him, his aunt and uncle, his own mother and she may not have hated him but his younger cousin Shuri was forbidden from communicating with him.
T'Challa had respected Erik for his decision to come out to his family. It was definitely never easy to do something like that anyway, but for a prince to tell his royal family of his sexuality was admirable to T'Challa. He never cared whether or not Erik was into men or women, all he ever wanted was for his cousin to finally be happy. The younger cousin had lived a life of homophobic abuse from his family, being cast out of Wakanda and before that being sent to Wakanda for the very same reason. Erik's mother had caught wind of the rumors and once she declared it to be true in her mind, she insisted he lived with the Udakus. But once he was in his late twenties and he opened up, he found himself alone once again.
But T'Challa did not act like that nor did he ever feel like that towards Erik. Being a prince as well meant that he held no responsibilities on the levels of ruling a kingdom, so he spent his time 'researching America's technological disadvantages' actually spending time with his cousin to ensure he never felt alone.
Chiron could hear the loss in his cracking voice, cousins were family already but he had clearly been very important to Erik to leave him in this state. Chiron knew what it felt like to be alone in the world, especially while dealing with his mother.
"No point in blaming yourself. You can't control what someone else does," Chiron stated. His response was blunt but it was the truth and Erik knew it, as much as it hurt him to admit it. If this thing really was coercing people into killing themselves, he couldn't fight the unknown. "When I was younger, I got jumped by someone I thought cared about me. I always thought me being myself left him with no choice but to hide who he was, but he was just a bitch. Hurt and easy to lead."
The way he discussed it, there was definitely anger in his tone. But he sighed and opened his mouth again.
"But I met him a while ago, seemed to be sorry for everything he did. But I just couldn't forgive that shit, y'know?"
Erik looked at him and the words he was saying, it sounded like the way he trusted this man was different to how a friend would trust a friend.
But he didn't want to imply anything. One thing he discovered was that it sucked being homosexual and wishing someone else was also gay, knowing it would never work.
"Yeah, I know. My family shunned me out for being myself."
Upon hearing that Chiron's eyebrows furrowed and although Erik couldn't see his reaction with his head being in Chiron's hold, he noted on the brief, short silence between the two.
"What do you mean, yourself?"
Chiron's tone was curious like he was hoping for one answer. Erik moved his head from against Chiron's grayish-green shirt and never even noticed his face had been pushed against a thick golden chain until he saw it. He looked at Chiron and debated whether or not to tell him the truth - he didn't want the only man apart from T'Challa and his father to comfort him to end up feeling uncomfortable around him.
His breaths became shaky and he instantly snapped himself out of it. T'Challa had taught him that there was nothing wrong with who he was, that no matter how people thought of him it wouldn't change what he could do with his own life.
"I'm sorry, Chiron. I should have told you, I'm...I'm-"
When Chiron interrupted him it stumbled Erik and his mouth remained partially open with disbelief. He hadn't done anything to make it obvious, did he? He waited for Chiron to add on to what he had said but nothing left his mouth so he did it for him.
"Uh, yeah. How did you know?"
Chiron simply smirked at him and bit his lip before standing up. It did not seem to be a bad reaction but Erik was more than confused.
"It's a small world."
The Miami-turned-Atlanta man found a small hand towel on the side of the sink and passed it to Erik.
"Here you go, just in case you got any sick on you. I'll see you downstairs, Erik. No surprise, we drew the short straw of sleeping on the floor."
His departing eye roll left a smile on Erik's face and all he could do was ask himself. Was he? No, surely not. He'd know, right?
The man sought a medical box in the bathroom and found one, tending to his bloody forehead and hands shortly after.
After a while, it was nearing into midnight with half an hour to go and Erik joined Chiron in the living room where nobody else inhabited the area. He noticed Chiron sitting to himself on the couch in different attire than he'd left Erik with. Now he was shirtless with only a pair of black basketball shorts on with a peek of checkered blue boxers underneath. Erik didn't know how to react but he simply moved to the other couch opposite Chiron's and looked at the floor.
With all of the emotional grief, he'd never really had the chance to look at Chiron and take in what he saw. A well-built man who was definitely attractive, and looked like he could be one of the best men to know. His skin was flawless and even the way he calmly kept to himself made Erik want to watch him for longer.
Chiron looked at the man opposite him and looked away in time for Erik to notice his head swivel.
"I just realized something. You said 'T'Challa' right, did you mean from the Udaku family?"
Erik looked at him and nodded. He knew exactly which direction this conversation was going.
"Yeah, T'Challa Udaku."
Chiron scoffed in shock and leaned forward.
"Shit, they're like the richest black people on Earth, probably richer than all the white people too," Chiron said, but he knew Erik was more than aware of this. Then he realized how he sounded and immediately regretted his manner. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to boast about your family, I completely forgot what you just told me..."
"It's alright, I don't think I'll ever get tired of hearing about black folks doing better than white people," Erik chuckled and Chiron laughed at the statement. Erik may not have felt welcome around his family but he still adored the fact that they were one step ahead of any form of white privilege. They had a country where any black man or woman could walk through the streets without fear at any time of the day, and in general, Wakanda brought a smile to Erik's face thinking about it.
Chiron glanced into Erik's eyes and this time they were smiling with eased eyes. It felt good to feel this way for both men.
"So, what's your story, Chi?"
Calling him Chi was a big step for Erik but he felt like he could. The man was certainly more than friendly and had invited him to use the shorter iteration of his name after all.
"Well, if we're gonna sleep in here together we might as well talk. Get to know each other."
Chiron narrowed his eyes with a grin, knowing exactly how Erik meant that. But he wanted to know more about the man.
"Tell me a bit more about yourself, your story is much more interesting than mine."
His expression was gentle and welcoming to Erik so he nodded and slumped back against the couch.
"My mom thought I was gay before she went to prison, so the last thing she did was sent me to Wakanda to live with my family while my pops was on a mission-"
"Mission? Like, military?" Chiron interrupted with a concerned face.
"It's...complicated. But he was on a mission and never got to object, and she never told him where I'd gone. The poor old man tried to break her out just to find out where I was. She died in prison and he died trying to get weapons for the breakout. Some guy tried to rip him off and ended up killing him. I only found all of this out when I came back because he'd left notes scattered and hidden around the apartment."
Hearing all of that weighed a lot on Chiron and he felt bad for Erik. He could tell it was not the end of the story but he'd already gone through so much.
"So, why'd you come back?"
Erik let a nervous chuckle slip and he looked at the floor with glossy eyes before wiping the tears away.
"I came out to my aunt, uncle, cousins, basically every family member present at the dinner table. Fuckin' huge, by the way," Erik explained. His voice slowly became shakier and Chiron decided to let him continue. "Needless to say, they weren't happy and they sent me back to America. T'Challa was the only one who cared and took a risk in visiting me as much as he could. He'd-he'd be alive if..."
Tears interrupted his explanation and Chiron left his couch to approach the crying man.
"Come here, you can't blame yourself," Chiron insisted while holding Erik tightly. Instead of burying his face in Chiron's chest he did it on one of the man's wide shoulders and wrapped his arms on Chiron too. After everything he'd been through, all he needed was a hug. Something so simple to make him feel safe again. "When I was younger, all I heard was 'faggot'. Friends, family, everyone. Even my mama called me it. I know how it feels to think, if I weren't gay it'd all be easier. But it's never that. You can live for a while trying to think you can change it but then you end up alone, not living your life."
Erik was initially shocked to hear Chiron's way of telling him he was gay as well, but he was even more moved by what he heard. The hold Chiron had him in.
"Can I ask you something, Erik?"
"Apparently the thing out there makes you see what you fear most, which drives you to suicide. What do you think you'd see?"
Erik's eyebrow raised as he backed from Chiron's shoulder, already pining for the smell of the man to run through his nostrils again.
"Why'd you ask that?"
"Maybe if we talk about it, it'll be less scary to see."
Chiron may have been onto something. Erik remained sat next to the man and sought in his mind an answer to give.
"I guess you're right. I guess I'm afraid of being alone. Never finding someone who understands me, or even likes me. With T'Challa gone, I don't know what to do."
There was a brief silence before Erik looked at Chiron who had sighed before looking into his eyes.
"You ain't gotta be lonely anymore."
Erik smirked and his eyes drew to Chiron's body, again. His skin was beautifully dark and bore quite an amount of torso hair. Erik wondered where those hairs led and even admired the abs presented to him. At this point, lust carried over in his mind but he tried to snap out of it.
When his eyes coursed up to Chiron's face, he had an inkling that the man had caught him staring. But there was yet to be a care in his mind that would stop him from admiring Chiron's body, his sharp jawline, and those pearly white teeth. The gentle brown eyes he could stare into forever. Everything about him.
"I have the same fears, of being alone. Everybody needs someone to love them. Someone to love."
Erik's breaths halted when he said those words and they looked at each other with ambition. A fire burned in Erik's body, a desire to act and Chiron felt the exact same.
"Chi...do you need someone to love you?" Erik whispered. His hand slowly moved onto Chiron's thigh and rose up which took the man's breath away. He'd not been touched like this since...since Kevin. And despite the horrible memory of what happened after with Kevin, the spike of arousal from the sensation of Erik's hand riding up his thighs overweighed that daunting memory.
Erik moved his hand to the back of Chiron's neck and they fused their lips in a moment of passion they had both pined for their entire lives. It was overwhelming for both Erik and Chiron to be granted the sensation of another man loving him the way they couldn't feel loved before. Chiron moaned and Erik panted as they continued to kiss and after a minute Erik removed his shirt to hold the common factor of being shirtless with Chiron.
He slowly mounted Chiron and delved into the darker man's soft neck with his mouth, leaving him to stare at the ceiling, gasping for air with satisfaction.
Erik's hands wrapped around Chiron's nape as he kissed his neck but Chiron felt greedy. He wanted more. So he shifted his hands to the back of Erik's pants and squeezed the two cheeks below them.
"Shit, you're thick as fuck. Bet this ass gets everyone jealous," Chiron chuckled.
Erik giggled as he stood up and left Chiron almost frustrated that they had been separated. He looked down and his eyes spotted the tent in Chiron's shorts, clearly aching to be tended to. Who was Erik to deny the man his relief?
"You think these guys have lube?"
"Nah, but we can't be searching through the house. Just check the kitchen."
Erik made his way to the kitchen and of course, there was some laying in the drawers of the kitchen. Erik always thought the takeaway he'd forgotten to throw away was the best thing he ever found in a kitchen.
Fate decided that night that they would have the living room to themselves. Everybody else was upstairs so Erik kept his moans as low as possible but it wouldn't make much difference as the sound of skin slapping was already loud enough for anybody awake to hear. After what was the most intense form of bonding both men had ever experienced they laid under the cover provided to them by the other residents.
Chiron was a sweaty mess, much sweatier than Erik but he still felt like he could go again. Erik, on the other hand, was more than grateful for what he'd received.
"You're stroke game is fuckin' scary Chi. Fuckin' scary."
Chiron laughed and his glistened chest bounced against Erik's chest. He kissed Erik on the cheek and closed his eyes as the two were ready to sleep.
"At least now if you see the creatures, all you'll see is this dick."
"Man, shut the fuck up," Erik laughed and the two laughed loudly before going to sleep. Despite his joke, Chiron was right in a sense. With the muscular man wrapped around him and a new memory of his loneliness ceasing, Erik wasn't as scared anymore. Now he had something to hold onto before leaving the world.