“I have to go back,” Sylus stood staring out the vaulting window in Jeron’s apartment.
Erratic lighting flashed from the decrepit Riftworks below.
“Like hell you do,” Jeron entered the living room.
Shaking his head, Sylus turned to find him holding a classical guitar; it’s strap around his neck. “Well well…”
“Just trying to tune the old thing,” Jeron smiled.
“Care to serenade me?” Sylus swayed over to the couch, falling onto it with all his weight.
Jeron looked back down the hall from where he’d come. “Might wake up Daniel and… and…” he sighed, “The dog…”
A loud booming laugh burst from Sylus’ slender frame, “They’re so far gone I’m sure the ‘Works could explode and they’d sleep right through it.”
“Hmm…” Jeron’s fingers began idly roaming across the strings. “Haven’t touched it since Mom died… So… You might not get serenaded so much as a blown eardrum…”
Sylus leaned back, arms stretched across the back of the couch, tendril, wrapped in bandages, hanging over his shoulder. “Try me.”
“Well…” Jeron cleared his throat, “Anyway… here’s Wonderwall.”
After a few strokes, the sweet sound of music filled the room.
It wasn’t long before Jeron was completely absorbed in his performance. Swaying side to side, a bounce in his step. Sylus was riveted as he moved closer and closer to the edge of his cushion. His heart swelling in his chest. Fiery energy coursing through his veins. This feeling… What was it…
The Mist swirled around Jeron. It danced with his every movement, glistening around him like a violet halo. It swished and swayed around his animated fingers, seemingly shaken by the sounds coming from the guitar. More than once Sylus thought he’d seen a shape form in the Mist only to be displaced by music flying from Jeron’s instrument.
Eyes shut as the music flowed forth as if automated from memory. The Mist kept giving the illusion of creating some recognizable shape, but before it could take form, Jeron wound down.
“‘I said maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me
you’re gonna be the one that saves me
you’re gonna be the one that saves me’…”
The last note rang out and lingered in the air for a long wistful moment.
Opening his eyes, Jeron found Sylus staring at him. A look of awe on his face.
“Jeron…” he breathed.
“Y-yeah…” he rubbed the back of his neck, “I’m really out of practice.” As he removed the strap from around his neck the glint of something gold caught Sylus’ eye. Pointing without a word, Jeron reached for his neck and the item that hung around it. His fingers traced down the fine chain to a simple gold cross. “Ah,” he laughed, “I… I hung this up with the guitar when Mom died… Sh-she gave it to me…” He held it in his hand, staring at it for a long moment. A gentle nostalgic grin on his lips. “I-I see no reason not to wear it again. Don’t have to listen to Dad preaching to me or yelling about practicing so…” Jeron ran his fingers down the guitar, “Why not reclaim what once made me happy…”
Sylus grinned from ear to ear.
“Wh-what?” Jeron laughed nervously.
“Oh nothing,” Sylus walked up to him, pressing his hands into Jeron’s chest, “Just thinking about how lucky I am to have such an amazing boyfriend and wondering what I did to deserve him…”
Jeron puffed a short breath out his nose, “You showed up and you stayed around.”
“And here I was thinking it was my winning personality.”
“That helped,” Jeron shrugged.
Leaning up on the tip of his toes, Sylus placed his lips against Jeron’s. Dropping his guitar to the floor, Jeron immediately melted into the moment. He wrapped his arms around Sylus’ shoulders, bringing him in as close as possible. Pale hands made their way up his sable skin, caressing his neck and wrapping together beneath his loose dreadlocks. Fingers pressing into his flesh. His hands traced down Sylus’ body, feeling every shallow bone, every awkward lump, all the way to the part he’d come to covet most and he no longer felt any shame in admitting it. One deep squeeze later, he lifted the smaller man into his arms.
“Jeron!” A shrill laugh burst from his lungs.
The few steps it took to move to the couch were more than Jeron wanted to make. As soon as his leg came in contact with the cushions, he threw Sylus into it. Lying there, shirt pulled from his pants exposing a pale strip of flesh, he stared up at Jeron’s hungry gaze.
“J-Jer…” he could barely breathe.
“Look,” Jeron panted, “I’m only going as far as you’re comfortable, but…” he took a deep breath, “I want to try this…”
“Th-then I have one rule…” Sylus nervously wove his fingers together, “P-please don’t… uh…” his hands slid down to his pelvis, “Please don’t… I mean…”
Jeron shook his head. “I had no intentions of anything related to intercourse. I just… I…”
“I want you.”
Their eyes locked passionately.
Sylus opened his arms and legs, “Come here!”
With a guttural growl, Jeron did as he was told. Sliding over the armrest onto the couch, he pressed himself against Sylus’ frail frame. Hands wove into each other’s hair. Legs wrapped tightly. A rhythm formed between them.
“I-I have no… No idea… Wh-what I-I’m…”
“Shh,” Sylus put a finger to Jeron’s lips, “This is just fine. Don’t stop.”
Jeron’s breath was hot and heavy against Sylus’ neck. Wrapping his thin fingers around the base of Jeron’s head, he pulled his body against his own until nothing but their clothes were between them. Without a thought, Jeron slid his hands up Sylus’ shirt. Everything came to a grinding halt when he felt the raised scars from a poorly executed surgery. Sylus knew exactly what had happened. Heated shame washed over him.
Jeron’s fingers traced the scars, “Does it hurt?”
Sylus bit his lip, “T-to be honest… I-I have no feeling anywhere around there…”
Sylus forced a nervous, awkward laugh, “H-hey… Sh-shit happens when you’re desperate, broke and being ridden by your significant other.” He tried to sit up, “Maybe…” his eyes were on fire, “Maybe we can try this again… I-if ever I’m… whole…”
Jeron made no attempt to sit up or remove his body from Sylus’. His hands remained on the scars probably longer than they should have. Sylus lifted his shirt the rest of the way revealing the mangled mess his chest had become.
“Jesus Christ… Sy…”
“I-it’s bad… I-I know…” His own gaze remained fixated on Jeron’s, gauging his reaction.
It was more than scars. Loose flabs of poorly tucked in skin, rough, uneven, wandering stitches. Whoever had done this clearly had no idea what they were doing or just didn’t care.
“I-I’m…” Sylus’ voice shook, “I’m disgusting… I-it’s okay… I-I…” he pulled his shirt down over Jeron’s hands, “I know… I-I should have told you…”
Jeron sat up in his knees, his weight on Sylus’ hips. “How did that happen…”
Sylus tried to sit up again, but Jeron’s weight kept him down.
“I-I was in a rush… A… A hurry… Sh-she wanted me to… Be…” Sylus covered his face with his hands, “She wanted me to be as masculine as possible without losing fertility before we did the Daniel thing…”
“Yeah… I-I really thought we were gonna go to a clinic, Jer…” he forced a laugh, “I… I really thought we were gonna get a donor… I-I believed… I believed her… Sh-she said… Th-the sooner I was a man, the s-sooner… I-I’d have the child I wanted so badly…”
Jeron suddenly became horrifically aware of Sylus’ past. “Sylus… Sylus… Look…” He rolled off the couch, “I-I’m so sorry…”
Sylus pulled his hands away from his face revealing a broken smile, “Don’t be sorry, Jeron… I-I understand…”
“Th…” he finally managed to sit up, “That I’m undesirable.”
“Mutilated and used,” a dark laugh burst from the broken fragments of his core.
“S-Sylus… N-no…” Jeron sat down on the couch beside him, “No no no no no… P-please, please don’t think that way…”
“How can I be a man, if the only sex I’ve ever had…” his voice wavered as he stared at his shaking hands. “Was… Wasn’t my choice…”
“I-I’m filth…” he laughed.
All of a sudden, the memory of why he was here in this moment snapped him out of his own misery.
“But… But I’m here for you!” he turned to Jeron, a beaming grin on his lips, “I-if you’d still have me… a-as a friend.”
“I-is that what you want?”
Sylus nodded. “Daniel really likes you and you’re an amazing friend. I’d really like to not lose you over this…”
“Jeron…” Sylus laughed, “Your dad just died and I’m here crying about my decrepit body…” he folded his arms across his chest. “I’m here for you, Jeron.”
A long painful silence filled the room.
“I-I should… I should go get Daniel and get going home…” Sylus stood up, his tendril flopping down lifelessly behind him.
Jeron couldn’t find his words. Instead, he watched in silence as Sylus made his way down the all to the guest bedroom.
Opening the door slowly, he found his son fast asleep in the dark room. The strange creature that was Nine laid on the floor beside the bed. With a heavy sigh, Sylus entered the room.
Jeron’s heart began racing. He had to do something… but what… All he knew was that if he did nothing… He’d lose Sylus forever…
The soft murmuring of Daniel waking up drifted into the living room. Jeron was on his feet, heading down the hall before he even knew what he was doing.
“Come on, Dan. Let’s get you home in your own bed…”
“D-Dad? Wh-what’s going on?” Daniel grogged, still mostly unconscious.
“I-I’m not…” Sylus smiled, “I’m done playing games, Daniel,” he chuckled, “I’m not your dad and you know that. Now come,” he wrapped his arms around his son, lifting him from the bed, “Let’s go home.” His son in his arms, he turned to find Jeron standing in the doorway. “I-I’m so sorry,” he whispered, “I lead you on. I messed up… I-I’m still learning… M-maybe next time… I-I’ll get it right…” he moved to press past Jeron, but his towering body refused to budge. “Jeron, please… I have to go home… I have to take care of my son… I have to try to be a good parent even though I’m not… Even though I’m insane and insensitive and deformed and messed up…”
“All of that was more than worth having Daniel in my life,” Sylus smiled in the darkness, “He means everything to me.”
“Who am I kidding…” he sighed, “I made that name up.” He ran his fingers through his son’s hair. “I’m a lie.”
“Jeron… I… Mmmy name… My name… it’s…”
Jeron pressed his finger into Sylus’ lips. “It’s Sylus.”
Sylus shook his head, “No. No you see, that’s the name I wish I had. The Riftworks promised a new life. A new, brilliant future… I thought… I thought I could be Sylus here… But… But I can’t… I’m not… I… I’m just… A lie…”
Jeron’s mind raced. He knew Sylus’ birth name, but it was never something he’d ever use. It wasn’t his name. He didn’t even want to hear it. His mind shut down to such a degree, that he could barely feel himself reaching out, tearing Daniel away from Sylus’ arms.
A violet fire ignited in Sylus’ eyes. Baring his teeth, he spat purple smoke from his vicious sneer. Energy coursed through his veins as a brilliant amethyst light shot between his fingers.
“UNHAND MY CHILD!”
Daniel woke up confused and disoriented in Jeron’s arms.
Sylus raised his hands, ready to lunge for Jeron’s throat.
Shaking his head, Daniel motioned for Jeron to put him down. Once he was on his feet, Daniel ran up to his father, wrapping his arms around him.
“I may not be the parent he needs or deserves, but I am the only one he has. Do NOT take him from me!”
“I’m right here, Dad,” Daniel breathed, pressing his face into Sylus’ chest, “No one’s taking me away.”
Slowly, the lightning in his hands died down and the flames in his eyes receded. His gaze wandered around aimlessly before Sylus Synclaire collapsed onto the hardwood floor.