>>REANIMATION — CHAPTER FIVE: I WISH…::
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue.
Falco sighed, turning off his bike and standing, slowly pulling off his helmet. What a weird day. Not made easier, of course, by his reintroduction to a friend who very obviously was attracted to him…
He glanced up, and saw Leon sitting by the door, apparently waiting for him. "Yeah. Yeah I did. How long have you been waiting?" He walked over and helped Leon up absently.
"A while." Leon admitted, standing, keeping a hold of Falco's hand. "Paranoia."
He didn't reply, sighing, then hugged Falco, wrapping his arms under the heavy coat. "So what's he like?"
"Soft-spoken. Pretty obviously a model. Likes strawberry daiquiris and sports cars." He shrugged, returning the hug briefly then letting go. "Strangely enough, once I put some weight back on he wants me to drop by the agency he works out of and apply."
"You a model? You're kidding." Leon also let go, reluctantly.
"Nope. He seems to think I'd be decent at it, too."
He sighed, going to the galley and sticking his head in the fridge, studying the contents then grabbing a soda. "Frankly, I'm not sure I have a reason not to. I don't have any marketable skills, and apparently models make ok money."
"Sounds like a good gig, then."
"You don't like it much though, do you?" He opened the can and studied Leon, lifting an eyebrow
"I don't like sharing."
"What, sharing ME? We've had this talk. We aren't dating, and you know that."
"Yeah, yeah." He looked away, rubbing the back of his neck. "I can't help it, Falco. I miss how we used to be. I miss the closeness. And now everything I like seems to be compromised, and it'd just get worse if so many people will, well, be able to admire you. I can't help being jealous. I can't help how I feel."
"Mmm. Well, to that, I can't help how I feel either. I don't know what I am, who I am, or what I'm supposed to do with myself. My world has gone to hell around me, and now I have to build back up. Worse, I am on my own for this. No one can help me."
"You aren't on your own." Leon blanched. "You have my support, probably everyone else's too if they knew what was going on. I know your sister supports you. She wants you to be happy."
"Yes, but she thinks she knows what'll make me happy. Truth be told I don't even know that." He walked by, pausing when Leon latched onto him again, sighing. "You're just lonely, aren't you?"
"Maybe a little." He burrowed into Falco's chest, sighing when Falco wrapped an arm around his waist, shivering. "Can I please stay with you tonight?"
"I'm not sure that's really a good idea… But I tell you what. Tomorrow we'll shop to stock up my apartment."
"Bunk beds?" He stared up at Falco in surprise, blinking.
"Eh, we'll see."
Wolf leaned on the bar, gesturing for a refill, sighing. He hadn't really wanted to leave Leon in such a depressed state of mind, but Leon had insisted he keep the date he had made. That alone seemed odd, Wolf O’Donnell on a date. He laughed to himself weakly, rubbing the back of his neck. Misery loved company…
Arms snared him from behind, and he gladly arched into the touch, some sort of friendliness. "Hi."
"One of my crewmen gave me a book of Ginsberg today." Krystal replied, resting her cheek on his back, feeling the taught muscles shift underneath. Strange, their relationship, based on comfort, no thought on time or responsibility. So wild, so natural, so human.
She smiled and let go, turning him and leading him onto the dance floor. This bar was her choice, a comfortable place full of a wide range of people. She was known here, but he was nobody, unthreatened in spite of his past. "The madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet putting down here what might be left to say in time come after death, and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the suffering of Corneria's naked mind for love into an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio." In spite of her recital, her voice carrying to most of the dance floor, making them stop and listen and watch, she was dancing and he was dancing with her, automatic, too caught in her voice. One thing he had learned already was that Krystal was poetry, true in her soul, she loved it. She memorized it easily, the obscure and the popular, and he liked listening.
"Your crewmen know what you like." He chuckled, drawing her close for a second.
"They're suck-ups, but it's generally mutual. We all work long hours sometimes, it helps to be in everyone's good graces." She leaned into him with a sigh, shaking her head. "God help me, I like working for DiamondSky, but they want me to ship off again in a month. I haven't even been back that long."
"That sucks. I won't have anyone to sulk with then." He meant it as a joke, but couldn't find the energy to smile as they left the dance floor, finding a booth to hunker down in, sitting across from each other.
"Same here. Three months with no one I can legitly hug." She sighed, leaning her elbows on the table. "I'm going to have to hook up with a local company. This is good money but it's going to drive me crazy."
"I can see that."
They were quiet for a while, and he sighed, stretching his arms above his head. "What are we, Krystal? We aren't exactly just friends, but we aren't dating, we aren't lovers, we just kind of… are."
"Couldn't have put it better myself." She smiled to herself. "And you know what? I think it's ok. I think we can do what we want. I don 't think we can have any regrets."
"Why do you say that?"
"We have no reason to. I mean, seriously, who restricts us? We aren't cheating on anyone, we're lonely, we found someone who can sympathize with us and not judge." She shrugged, combing her fingers through her hair, pulling out the tie absently. "So why analyze? It could kill a very lovely thing."
He blinked at her, and rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Still doesn't solve what we are."
"Do things really need names? If that's so, then fine. Out of what you said I like lover best."
Now he gaped. "Are you insinuating something?"
"That is for you to decide." She smiled brightly and left the booth, going over to the bar and leaning on it, talking with the bartender, exchanging a joke and laughing.
"She's going to send me into cardiac arrest. I swear." He sighed, sitting back, and fell deep into thought.
"Hi Falco." Vic said, perched on the edge of Slippy's car, handing him tools as he dug around in the engine, doing god-knows what. "Before you ask, my first class is at ten today."
"Good girl." Falco grumbled, rubbing sleep out of his eyes. A shower and coffee hadn't woken him up all the way, but he had stayed up late again, slouched on the couch in the den, playing video games with Leon, who kept trying to find excuses to sit in his lap. Eventually Leon had crashed, and Falco had carried him to his room, not letting himself think about the implications of what he was doing.
"What's up?" Slippy asked, leaning on the front of his car. "You usually aren't up this early."
"If I'm right, dad starts work at seven. Right Vic?" When she nodded, he continued. "It's eight-thirty. I'm going to go get some of her clothing. Fox said I could borrow his jeep, as hogs aren't meant for carrying large amounts of stuff."
"Good luck avoiding the bastard, then."
"Thanks." He got into the jeep, knocking the seat back as far as it would go, and drove it down the ramp.
"Why doesn't your mom just divorce him?" Slippy asked, looking at Vic.
"She doesn't have the guts anymore." Vic admitted, sighing. "I wish she did. I can get out of it soon, and Falco already has, but that'll leave her alone to take the brunt."
"I wish I could help."
"I know. You already are."
Falco sighed, pulling the jeep into the empty driveway and getting out. It was almost strange driving a car now, after so long of driving a motorcycle, but he was glad Fox had let him borrow it.
He stared at the house, hugging himself. This place held so many bad memories for him it haunted him, but he ground his beak and walked to the door, leaning his shoulder on the frame and knocking gently. Vic needed clothing, and he wanted his Ibanez, so this had to be done. If he hadn't had a reason, he couldn't have made it here without breaking down, and he knew it. In a way, he almost wished Leon was here to calm him.
The door opened, and his mother looked stunned, staring up at him. "Falco? Falco, baby?"
He wrapped her into a hug silently, letting her get over the shock. "Hi, mom. How have you been?"
"Been better, always been better. Is Vic really staying with you?"
"Well, on the Great Fox, so basically yeah. Got the whole posse watching her back now." He smiled, putting her at arm's length. "I'm here to get some clothing for her."
"Oh, yes, of course. She called me from school yesterday…"
They entered the quiet, faded house, him following her down the hall to where she had packed up a pair of boxes for Vic's stuff. He gave her another hug, picking up the boxes and carrying them out to the jeep easily, not letting himself dwell too long on the fact that he was basically helping his sister move out. His mother followed behind, carrying a pair of coats, one light, one heavy.
"I don't know how long she's going to be with you…"
She sighed, handing him the coats. "For fall and winter. Make sure she wears them, she's skinny like you."
"Of course." He folded the coats and set them on top of the boxes. "Mom, do you still have my Ibanez? My guitar?"
She blinked, then smiled and nodded. "Of course. Your father isn't very observant, so I've been able to keep it hidden from him. He would have broken it had he found it."
"I know. Thanks mom."
It took her ten minutes to unearth the large, heavy case, handing it to him. "I'm not sure what happened to your amp…"
"It's ok." He knelt on the floor and opened it, choking back his heart when he saw the flawless black paint. No change at all. It wasn't tuned anymore, he could tell that, but three years of storage hadn't damaged it at all. "Thanks mom." He repeated, running his fingers down the strings then reclosing the case. "By the way…" He stood, clearing his throat. "Did you really tell Vic I'm gay?"
She blanched, then laughed out loud. "Yes, ages ago."
"Really. News to me if I am, given I don't even know what I am anymore but that's beside the point." He crossed his arms. "Why do you think that I am?"
"Did you finally get in contact with Joey?"
"No fair changing the subject mom."
She rolled her eyes, going into the kitchen and pouring coffee for both of them. "Falco, love, I'm your mother. I know these things, and I don't care how bad your healthy machismo wants to deny it. You've always been cocky, you've always been masculine. Since you were yay-high." She pressed a mug into his hands, sitting down across from him. "The guitar doesn't belong on the table. Look, the point is, you never liked girls when you were young."
"Mom, when I was little, girls had cooties." He moved the case and sighed, slouching back and shaking his head.
"When you were six, I explained the ways of life to you, and you told me very frankly that while that was ok you couldn't see it happening to you because you thought boys were a lot nicer." She took a slow drink. "Then of course came Joey."
"Did your sister give you his number?"
"Yes, we had dinner last night." He frowned at her. "Why?"
"You became friends with Joey when you were seven. Lasted until you were ten, probably could have lasted a lot longer." She paused, as if considering how to word something. "Point being, you loved him a lot, Falco. You did end up having a lot of friends who were girls, but you loved your best friend. And your father figured that out, the big hint coming when he came home early and you two had crashed on the couch curled up like a yin-yang symbol." She looked at the table, hands working. "He beat you bloody, smacked Joey and told him never to come back. You never were taken to a doctor, but we think you got concussed when it happened. Your memory got damaged."
He blinked at her in shock.
"Say what you want about having girlfriends, but I'm willing to bet you never were serious with any of them. You liked them, maybe loved them, but it wasn't lust, there wasn't any real attraction."
"How the hell would you know that?"
She smiled softly, catching one of his fidgeting hands. "I'm your mother. I know these things."
"And you didn't care how close Joey and I were at ten?"
"I thought it was cute."
"Jesus." He rubbed his eyes, shivering numbly.
"Besides, you both agreed that clothes stayed on until you both were at least sixteen."
She laughed out loud at his dismay and confusion, hiding her smile behind his hand. "I'm sorry, honey, but the look on your face is somewhat priceless." She sobered. "I can't believe you really forgot him, your tastes, everything… This must really be a mind job."
"It is. I'm not even sure I believe it yet." He fidgeted, staring at the table. "I mean, a few people think I am, but I'm not sure. I don't know who I'm attracted to."
"Take your time, dear." She reached over and patted his hands softly. "You should find someone to talk to. Not even a guy necessarily."
"Probably a good idea." He sighed and stood. "Thanks for the shocks, mom."
She stood and gave him a hug. "If you had forgot, you needed to know."
"I know." He returned it. "Don't let dad push you around to much."
Wolf yawned lazily, rolling onto his back and stretching, staring at the swirly plaster on the ceiling. After looking at metal ceilings, it was interesting in a somewhat surreal way, but that matched his memories of the night before. He was still partly dressed, so he supposed it could have been more surreal, but it had been a long time since he had last fallen asleep snuggled with someone.
The bed shifted, and Krystal pounced on him, snuggling down in his arms, wearing a tank top and sweat shorts. He sighed and held her, leaning his jaw against her head. Strange their relationship, born out of frustration and want, but not for each other. She made a purring noise when he started rubbing her back, arching into it with a soft sigh.
"How long have you been up?"
"About ten minutes." She admitted, relaxing into him again. "… thank you Wolf."
"Hm? What for?" He blinked, fingers brushing up and down her spine.
"Letting us become … this. Letting me be close to you." She whimpered, hiding her face in his shoulder. "God, I must be such a horrible person."
"Why do you say that? That isn't true at all. You're spicy and smart and full of energy."
"Would you even thought of us like this if I hadn't suggested… insisted? … on it?" She shook her head, sighing.
"I'm sure I would have fairly soon." He admitted weakly, kissing her forehead. "You haven't forced me into anything, Krystal. Never think that."
She pushed herself up and looked at him, sprawled under her, tail tip twitching just slightly. "You sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure." He smiled, brushing his fingertips through her hair. "Fox passed up a wonderful girl when he ignored you."
"And he passed up a wonderful guy." She shook her head. "Shall I call Jerry Springer?"
He laughed. "This can't be that strange. Misery may love company, but we found something… better. Companionship. Maybe love, who knows."
She smiled and snuggled back into his chest, letting him roll so they were both on their sides, leaning her forehead into his chest with a sigh as he ran his fingers through her hair again.
"Got a poem?"
"Well, song lyrics… um… 'When no one sees your pain, when no one hears you scream, I've been needing answers, one look and your heart takes me away and never lets me go. I want to see. I want to dream again, still in awe of you.'" She sighed when she finished, eyes closing when he kissed her forehead softly again, smiling in pleasure. "Museum."
"Mission successful eh?" Fox said, watching Falco slowly park the jeep and hop out, hanging the guitar case off his back and picking up the boxes.
"Yeah. Had a talk with my mom, she seems to be doing ok, but it's hard to tell with her. Thanks for letting me use your car."
"No problem. I need my keys though."
"Got a lunch date?"
"Help me with these boxes and I'll give you the keys."
Two minutes later the boxes were stacked in the room Vic was using, and Fox was off, grumbling to himself. Falco shook his head, smiling, and hunkered down in the den, plugging his guitar into the tuner which had been tucked inside the case, getting used to the strings again. It had been so long…
"Whoa. Did you buy that?" Leon asked, leaning over the back of the couch and staring.
"No… my mom was storing it for me. I've had it since I was fifteen." He replied, finishing the tuning. "I'm not very good."
"Hm. Well, it's a gorgeous guitar."
"Of course. Comes with the brand name. You still want to go shopping for bunk beds today?"
Leon moved and sat next to him, watching his hands with a smile. "Yeah. If you're up to it."
"I think I am."
"Joey called the ship. Said you left your phone off again…" His voice tone changed, rubbing the back of his neck.
"Yes, Leon, he was my childhood sweetheart. No, I don't know what I feel for him now. Yes, I still like you. Drop it."
Leon practically fell off the couch. "Chee! What was that about?"
"Tense. Sorry." He unplugged the tuner absently, turning it off. "Mom decided she'd give me cardiac arrest and explain some things to me, now I'm wired tight."
"… Now, wait a minute. You like me?"
"Don't push." Falco let his head fall back, staring at the ceiling, fingers running up and down the strings absently, then his arms settled for just hugging the guitar. What was he going to do? The evidence was stacking against him, and only left him more confused then ever. He shivered, small flashes of that horrible beating flickering through his mind. God, his father was a bastard. He hadn't been able to move for a few days after that. And Joey… god, what kind of shock had that been? Being hauled off the couch, smacked hard enough blood splattered, and shoved out the door?
"… Falco? Falco, hello?" He suddenly felt a hand shaking his shoulder, and realized he had completely zoned out.
"Yeah. I'm here… just… remembering some things." He put the guitar away slowly, closing the case and hugging himself, fighting the urge to rock. He could taste the panic from so many years ago, lunging off the couch and grabbing his father's arm, trying to stop him from hurting the friend he loved so much. It had done no good, he remembered his father's furious words, getting angrier when Falco had blurted just how much he cared for Joey. Then, pain…
Arms wrapped around his shoulders, Leon's jaw leaning against his shoulder, rocking him gently, as if he knew what Falco had going through in his head. Falco went limp and accepted it, choking back tears. "You didn't deserve what happened to you." Leon remarked, surprised when Falco returned the hold, trembling.
"No one could possibly deserve it. Especially a kid." Was the weak reply. "My father deserves to be in jail."
"Then turn his ass in."
"I'm not sure I can."
Both fell silent, Leon unnerved by how hard Falco was shaking, watching the distant, old pain flicker through his friend's eyes. He was practically dead weight in Leon's arms, and in the end Leon had to move so he could hold the larger avian to his chest, Falco curled up numbly on the couch
Time passed slowly, and Falco was nearly asleep when he realized what he was doing. Leon was running his fingers through the feathers on his scalp, making a purring noise softly in his chest, obviously very happy with how this ended up. Falco stayed still, trying to assess the situation, and got his answer when Leon kissed the top of his head gently, smiling.
Leon startled when Falco sat up suddenly, running his fingers through his feathers wearily, then digging into his pocket and bringing out a set of keys, dropping them in Leon's hands. "The gold one is the key to my apartment. Vic can give you directions. Decorate the hell out of it and I'll reimburse you ok?"
"I need to talk to someone." He replied, already leaving the room. "I'll be back in a couple of days. My phone will be on but only for emergencies."
"I know how you feel. But I don't know how I do. Leave it at that."
Not bothering to look back at Leon, Falco sighed, taking only a few minutes to pack then going to his Arwing, buckling in as he waited for ROB to give him launch clearance. He knew who he needed to talk to, he just hoped she wouldn't kill him for showing up on her doorstep.