By Willow Taylor
Victor Shelly fumbled at the lock trying too get his cold fingers to work. A shadow fell across him as he struggled, and a spatter of bright color fell on the door.
"Victor? Are you alright, you've been... here..." Shaper reached over Victor's shoulder and took the key ring, took the key out of the lock, put in the right key, and opened the door, before guiding a still staring at his hand Victor into the room. Victor continued to stand there, shivering slightly inside his coat, as Shaper carefully relocked the door. The risen yawned and stretched cracking his back and a few other joints, and tossed the keys over his shoulder at Victor.
"Man... it's cold out there," he said cheerfully. "It almost feels like an oven in here by comparison - poke up the fire would you, I've got to get something to eat!"
Shaper came back out with a mouthful of bread and peanut butter, carrying a pot and a can of something.
"Mm mot med mmake mm moo." Shaper blinked and swallowed a few times. Victor was still standing in the same place "Victor?" the risen threw down the pot and can on the couch and stepped towards his friend. The keys lay on the ground beside Victor's shoe. It looked like he hadn't even tried to catch them. The slim man with dark hair was hunched down hair falling over his face. Quivers went through him, full body shivers, at irregular intervals. It was a picture of misery and the most pathetic Shaper had ever seen his friend. Shaper smiled gently and reached to put a hand on Victor's shoulder.
"That battle hit you hard, didn't it, Victor?" His jacket was cold, his hair, brushing the back of Shaper's hand, was frigid, like a fringe of soft black icicles. Victor shifted in place and a sudden spot of hot fell onto Shaper's hand. Shaper drew his hand back and looked at the spot of blood. As Shaper moved his hand, Victor finally looked up, and at Shaper. Shaper winced. A streak of blood traced across Victor's cheek, and his gray eyes were dilated and vacant. Shaper was used to Victor's quick wits and sharp tongue. This shaking vacant thing was extremely unnerving. Shaper quickly trotted over to the stove and poked the fire up, dumping more coal on and fiddling with it till it was putting out heat like a blast furnace. Victor always got funny when he got really cold - maybe Shaper just hadn't seen him so cold before. He began chattering inanely.
"I think we'd probably want to leave in the morning, as soon as the sun comes up. Too bad I liked this place, it's got good beds, and the prices weren't so bad, considering we have to cook for ourselves. I still can't believe what happened. I mean, really..."
A small noise behind him made Shaper turn, and see Victor peeling off his coat as if it was a layer of his own skin. Well it was a reaction, not a good one, but a reaction. The heat must be helping. Shaper dumped the soup into the pot. Warm him up inside and out, that was the thing to do. "You'll probably want to get out of those cold clothes, Vic, I mean you were really hit full blast by that thing."
There was a vague noise from the direction Victor was in. Shaper heard fabric rustle, so he guessed that Victor was taking the advice. The kettle beside the pot of now heating soup - and one last thing. Shaper peeled off his mask and dropped it in a kitchen drawer, hip-checking it shut on his way past. Victor had made it to the couch, and was sitting, not moving too much, arms crossed across his chest.
"Victor?" Shaper asked. "You should do something about that wound. Are you hurt anywhere else?"
The pale man stared at the risen for a moment, then slowly shook his head, blood trailing down his cheek and towards his chin.
"Let me get that," Shaper made a pad of soft cloth and started to wipe it away.
"Don't... touch me..." Victor jerked his face away. Shaper gave an exasperated sigh, and grabbed Victor's shoulder.
"If you don't stop the bleeding it'll get on your shirt and the couch, and that'll ruin our deposit, and I think we'll need all the money we can get when we leave." He moved the pad of cloth to Victor's face again, and this time, the slim man didn't jerk away.
"You know," Shaper said gently, wiping blood away from Victor's face, holding his shoulder in place with one hand. "You don't have to be so tough all the time. It's okay to be human."
"It's not that I just;" he sighed, and looked away from Shaper more sharply. "I can't not do anything."
"I'm not asking you to not do anything," Shaper said, putting pressure on the cut for a moment. "Wow, this is really deep... I'm just asking you to not keep throwing yourself into danger, alright, you're my best friend, I don't want to lose you." He peeled the cloth away and looked at the wound to avoid trying to meet Victor's eyes. ³I want to hold you. You hold everything inside, Victor, and it can't be healthy. People aren't meant to be so bottled up. It hurts you, and it hurts to watch."
"Do you... really think that?"
Shaper jerked, and stared at Victor who was looking at him with cold gray eyes. Had the supernatural investigator suddenly developed the ability to read thoughts - oh god, had he always had it?
"You said... that... that I was bottled up, and it hurt to watch."
"I said that?" Shaper breathed a sigh of relief - Victor couldn't read his mind, he'd just forgotten to not say what he was thinking. But god, how early had his thoughts turned to words? "You are," he said realizing that Victor was waiting for an answer. "Always silent, always watching, except when you're bitter."
"Maybe that's all there is."
"It isn't!" If his embarrassment was what it took to get Victor to open up, then he'd embarrass himself. "You... ah!" He dropped the cloth, and went to catch the screaming kettle. He threw a handful of herbs at random into the pot, then calmed down, and added more to make it taste better. It would be a little astringent, but it should be okay. He turned to see Victor touching the sluggishly bleeding slash on his cheek, then looking at the crimson smear, then touching it to his lips.
"Victor!" snapped the risen. "Don't do that!"
"Why not?" Victor smoothed the flap of skin down, leaving a smear of dark red across his almost white cheek. "It'll heal Shaper..." Whatever else he was saying was overcome by a violent shiver.
"I'll... be... fine..."
Shaper sat down beside Victor and picked up the cloth, to wipe the blood away - to find only a faint scar beneath the gore. Victor continued to shiver. Shaper had the same reaction but for a different reason. He was so used to thinking of Victor as human. He'd seen the way the flesh had peeled away in that gash. The cool gray eyes looked at Shaper and the barest edge of a smile twitched up Victor's face.
"What was... that you said... about being... human?"
Shaper frowned and poured a mug of tea, and held it out to his friend.
"You are human Victor. You know it, and I know it."
Victor tried to snort but couldn't quite manage it, wrapping both hands around the mug to hold it steady. The warmth trickled into him bit by bit and the shivers lessened. Shaper had already peeled off his outer shirt. If it hadn't been for the kettle making a bit of humidity, the room would have been like an oven. And Victor was still shivering. He drank the tea quickly, one sip after another. He finished the mug, and Shaper filled it again.
"What's in this...?"
Shaper shrugged. "Damned if I know, it was in the tea canisters, why, it taste too bad?" he finally tried some himself. It had a strange, savory aftertaste, but it wasn't bad - he should stir the soup. When he turned back, Victor had uncoiled slightly, still holding the tea in both hands. Shaper went back to sitting on the couch beside him.
"So I'm trapped in myself, is that it?"
Shaper winced. He knew that Victor wouldn't let it lie. He wasn't so lucky.
"Well you were. That had to hurt." 'What happened had to hurt.'
"I guess I can't be a hero."
"You are a hero," Shaper said. "I've been watching you be a hero since I met you, you just can't win everything."
"Didn't work this time," he mumbled, and drained his cup, before reaching forward and filling it again. Shaper sighed, and folded himself back into the couch. Victor leaned back, and their arms touched. Victor was still cold, Shaper could feel it through his shirt. He had curled back up, hair covering his face, and shivers passed over him now and again. Shaper put his mug down with a click and touched Victor's shoulder.
"Victor..." he said softly. "It's okay..."
"How can it be okay?" Victor turned to look at Shaper, and the risen saw something truly unexpected in his eyes.
His heart melted, and he kissed Victor, suddenly and whole heartedly.
He realized what he was doing and drew back, covering his mouth with his hand.
"I... shouldn't have done that."
Victor just stared at Shaper.
"You kissed me."
"I'm sorry." Shaper winced and covered his face with this hands, arms thrown over his head. He's going to kill me. I'm going to die over one kiss and I didn't even get to taste his cloves!
Victor stared at Shaper silently. He should be outraged. Why in hell did Shaper kiss him? Why wasn't he mad. It was like... he didn't feel anything. Like the entire world was numb. He was numb. That was it. He'd been numb for ages, and there was nothing he could do. He continued to sit there, mug clasped in his hands, and stared at it. It was better than watching Shaper cringe.
Shaper slowly uncoiled. He wasn't dead. Victor didn't even look upset - he was just sitting there staring at his mug. Shaper picked his tea back up and tossed it back.
"I'm sorry," he said again. It sounded hollow and incredibly inane. Mostly because he wasn't. He would have never expected Victor's lips to be that soft, that smooth. The lanky dark haired man always seemed so hard. Nevertheless, his lips had been soft. And cold.
They were warm. He could feel the warmth on his lips now; they weren't so cold it hurt. His fingers were still cold, but his cheek wasn't. It was like pieces of him were waking up bit by bit, following no set pattern. He flexed his fingers.
"So..." Shaper laughed weakly, his voice strung out with the need to change the subject. He cleared his throat. "Uh... are you hurt anywhere else?"
"What?" Victor took off his gloves and flexed his fingers again. "No, I don't think so."
Shaper took his friendıs hand and looked at it. "God, Victor you're freezing."
"You've failed to change the subject," Victor said, mouth twisting slightly. "And you're touching me again."
Shaper's mouth drew into a thin line. "So what? I'm touching you." He pushed Victor's bangs out of his eyes, and tucked tendrils of hair behind his ears. "Woo... look at that, I'm still touching you. I'm going to keep touching you." He twisted in place, kneeling on the couch, and half pinning Victor against the back. "I'm so sick of you always being in charge, Victor, if I want to touch you, I'll fucking well touch you!" And he kissed Victor again, this time in anger. He pressed against him, shoving him into the padding of the couch, straddling his legs, and devouring him from the mouth down. Kissing him like everyone should be kissed, at least once in their life - with passion, urgency and in a state of complete surprise. The risen continued, expecting at any moment to be roughly shoved away, hit, or at very worst, to feel a knife to press at his ribs. But he wasn't wearing the mask, so he was limited to a normal, human lung capacity, and no kiss can last forever.
Shaper panted at last coming up for breath. "There," he said, a faint line of color tracing over his cheeks. "How does it feel to be out of control - to be at someone else's mercy? That's how you make me feel." Well, at least that was a great deal more satisfying than the other kiss... and I'm not dead yet! "Like I don't have a say in what's going on, and I can't change it."
More moments went by. Shaper retained his perch across Victor's lap, no knife, no blow, nothing.
"Oh shit," Shaper cried. "I've killed him, too much shock... fuck... oh god."
"I'm not dead." Victor's voice came sharply. "You're poking me."
Shaper practically threw himself backwards, hitting the floor with a thick thump in front of the couch. Victor moved, lifted his hands to his face, but didn't scrub at his mouth, instead the slim man rubbed his eyes. Shaper continued to stare up at him, aware of the hard floor beneath him - and the fact that his leg was still touching Victor's. He was so involved in watching his friend; the second comment took ages to register. Then brilliant color spread across his face. A new tactic for Victor, he decided, knives were too fast, so his friend was going to kill him with embarrassment. He didn't have to take that.
"Could you just kill me for it already, and stop me from wondering how you're going to do it?" Shaper said miserably. There was a deep sigh.
"Why'd you do that, Shape?"
"Because... uhm... because..." A thousand lies flitted through the risen's head and none of them sounded believable, even to him. The truth then. "Because I wanted to. I like the way you smell, the way you look, the way you move, and," he added defiantly. "I like the way you taste, too."
"That's almost flattering."
"Yeah, and if I were a girl, you'd have nailed me to the bed by now," spat Shaper angrily. He wished that Victor would just get upset already.
"Yeah, probably," Victor said, fairly even handedly.
Shaper stared up at him in shock.
"You're a pretty good kisser."
Shaper's brain stopped functioning for several moments. He hadn't heard that. There was no way he had heard that. Victor had not just admitted he was a good kisser. That's it, Victor had knocked him unconscious, and this was a hallucination. A hand clasped around his wrist, and Victor pulled Shaper to his feet.
"It's okay, Shaper, I'm not mad at you. I'm too cold to be mad."
Shaper looked down at Victor and smiled weakly. "Should I take advantage of this before you warm up?"
Victor raised an eyebrow. "I..." he paused, confused. "I don't know."
Shaper's heart gave a little jump.
"Right... but if you kill me, then I'm going to haunt you for the rest of your days."
"Wait, when did I say..."
Victor's confusion was cut off by Shaper's kiss. Something about the risen's touch was warming, reassuring, if he closed his eyes, he could almost forget that he was kissing a man. Shaper wrapped his arms around Victor continuing to kiss him - in every way he could think of, burying his hands in Victor's hair. If this was a hallucination, he was going to enjoy it.
That was it, if he closed his eyes, it was wonderful. Forceful, maybe, but not bad, in itself. Victor couldn't believe how much he was enjoying it. Being kissed, not kissing, or doing the kissing. That was it, he'd frozen his brain. But how could his brain be frozen when he was on fire. From freezing to fever. Great. His life just kept getting better and better.
Shaper held Victor against him, and kissed along his jaw line, pressing his lips to the pale skin, and glad he wasn't wearing makeup today. It might be real, it might, Victor might be letting him kiss him. He knew Victor never paid attention to his appearance, so why did his hair smell good - why was he thinking that, why was he doing this? This was asking for trouble, begging for it, why hadn't Victor stopped him yet?
Why didn't it seem important to stop this? It should. But, hell, it didn't feel bad. He could always stop it. Anytime.
Victor seemed to have forgotten who he was making out with. God, no, no, no, Shaper didn't need this kind of shit - his pants were already feeling about four sizes too tight. He didn't need Victor encouraging him, for Christ's sake, not tangling his fingers in his hair, not kissing back, ever so gently. Shaper knew he'd always envied Victor's prowess with the ladies, but now he envied them, god, Victor could kiss. This wasn't going to stop oh shit - if this went any further, he wasn't going to be able to stop, and that would to put it simply, be a mess. In so many ways, it would be a mess.
design ©2001 by Cindy Rosenthal
Alternate Chording © 2002 by Willow Taylor
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