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>>reanimation — chapter seven: crave::

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>>REANIMATION — CHAPTER SEVEN: CRAVE::

Ringshadow

Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue.

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"Katt, are you sure about this?" Falco asked, stepping out of her car and looking toward the club, apparently named Heaven's Night. A group of people stood near the entrance talking, and a bouncer leaned by the door, arms crossed and clearly watchful. Now that he was actually here, a wave of nausea passed through him. He didn't want to dance and be social. He wanted to hide somewhere and think.

"Sure, I'm sure. You need this more then anyone, feather-head." She replied, locking her car up and stepping over to him, offering him her arm. "Now come on, baby boy. Let's you and me show them how to dance."

He laughed weakly and took her arm, escorting her across the parking lot. He felt eyes roam over his long body, some lingering, the owners wondering silently. He knew in a way he was recognizable. He had been on the news, and there weren't many blue falcons in existence. But here and now, a hero? People denied it naturally, and he used it to his advantage at times.

The inside of the club was loud, of course, a decent crowd had already showed up even though it was still early on in the night. Katt wove at friends, and he found himself drug over and introduced to some of the other younger teachers and students at the local academy, all surprised to meet him. He managed smiles, shaking hands, then excused himself, walking away from them and toward the DJ booth, stopping before he got there and standing on the sidelines of the dance floor, watching.

The dance floor wasn't too crowded yet, about evenly split between men and women, dancing with whoever they wanted, and he let his eyes wander among them, crossing his arms over his chest absently. He hadn't wanted to be here, but the rhythm was sinking in, and he nodded with it, remembering earlier nights at clubs, memories both happy and awkward. He was so entangled in his thoughts he didn't notice when someone appeared beside him, also leaning on the wall, looking at him instead of the crowd.

Falco snapped back to reality, looking down at the figure who had joined him, shorter then him, but then generally everyone was. It was a young male kangaroo, ears pierced with hoops, wearing punk clothing, eyes bright green and curious. He looked back for a moment, blinking. "Either I was carrying on an internal monologue, or you snuck up on me."

The kangaroo grinned. "Not hard, considering the noise, but you did seem in your own world."

"Beg pardon then." He turned his gaze back to the dance floor. "So, can I help you?"

"Depends whether or not you want to dance with me… and you didn't say your name, either."

He looked back at the kangaroo. "My name is Falco. And I don't know if I want to dance."

"Falco? Falco Lombar…" The kangaroo halted in surprise when one of Falco's hands clamped his muzzle shut, staring at the long down-covered fingers cross-eyed. "Mmrph?"

"Yes. Yes, please be quiet about that. I like being able to live like a normal person." He let go, crossing his arms again and staring back out at the dance floor. "So who are you?"

"Mica. I'm a college student. So, um…?"

"What?" He admitted that sounded a bit cross, but he had already caught on to what Mica was about. Yet another person who thought he wasn't straight. Boy, he was getting sick of this, and he didn't even know if he was.

"Don't bite my head off, man. You just… give the aura."

"What?" Now he just sounded bewildered, looking back at Mica in confusion.

"You do. You don't… seem straight to me."

"Thanks a lot."

"It's not a bad thing…" Seeing the look, he blinked. "Oh. Are you not out?"

"I'm not really anywhere right now. Haven't figured myself out yet." He admitted dryly. "And I guess I'll dance with you, but if you even so much as try to cop a feel, I will pitch you across the club, read me?"

Mica laughed, delighted. "Read you loud and clear."

Katt smiled when she saw Falco get drug onto the dance floor, not surprised that it was another guy doing the dragging. Falco was actually laughing a bit, she could tell by his expression, as if amused by a situation he couldn't get out of.

"What's up baby doll?"

She felt arms drape around her neck, and she purred, leaning back into the hold happily. "Watching the friend I came with."

"So Falco actually agreed to come along, hmm?" Fay set her jaw on Katt's shoulder, looking out at the dance floor until she spotted the slender avian. "He's not a bad dancer."

"No, he isn't. Just out of practice."

"So. Told him about me?"

"He'd probably think he scared me away from men for the rest of my life."

Fay laughed out loud at this. "There's a distinct difference between fear and boredom, sugar."

"That is a fact. Want to sit?"

"You mean neck?"

Now it was Katt's turn to laugh.

Leon sighed, standing when he heard the knock at the door, rubbing the back of his neck. Vic had taken off, so now he was here alone, entertaining himself by building new furniture and reading Falco's glut of comic books. He wanted Falco here, but knew it would be a few days, or longer, before that happened.

He opened the door, and blinked up at the slightly taller skunk that stood there. "Help you?"

"I might have the wrong apartment number… is this Falco Lombardi's residence?" The skunk asked, tilting his head to one side, voice light, gentle.

"Yes. I'm house sitting for him for a few days. Do you want to come in?"

"If you think it would be all right."

Leon stepped aside. "You a friend of his?"

"Of sorts." He perched on the couch, sitting back and crossing his ankles absently. "He may have mentioned me. Joseph Warner?"

Leon stopped even as he dropped the security chain in. "You're Joey?"

"Some call me that. And you are?"

He sighed, also dropping down on the couch. "Leon Powalski."

Joey blinked at him. "I've heard about you in the news."

"They aren't very nice about it."

"No. No they aren't. I don't think they've said much truth at all." When Leon gave him a look, he shrugged. "You've got gentle eyes."

"Now, I do. Didn't used to be that way." He sighed, staring at the floor. "I've done a lot of changing recently. Falco's had an effect on me."

"He had an effect on everybody. Has he said anything about taking the job?"

"A little. He's strongly considering it. He's not on this planet currently though. Wanted a brain break." He looked at Joey for a long moment. "You want him back, don't you?"

"Hmm? What do you mean?"

"I know you used to love him. You still do don't you?"

Joey blinked at this direct question, staring at Leon, who seemed small and nervous, eyes full of a weird agony. "… You're the one who helped him dig up the memories?"

"Yes, I was the one. I can do tarot. I didn't like all of what I found out." He shifted, hugging himself and looking away. "I am so jealous of you. You at least have a good history with him. I spent years trying to kill him. I keep trying to get close to him, but he's so scared to be himself…" Leon rubbed his upper arms absently. "I wish I could kill his father for what he did to poor Falco, but…"

"Yeah. I know. I saw some of it." Joey said slowly. "God, I couldn't agree more with you. Some people just deserve to die."

They looked at each other.

"Considering we're rivals, we seem to be getting along rather well so far." The model grinned sourly. "So, how long have you known him?"

Leon chuckled a bit, and started into his story.

Falco grinned when he heard a song come on, pausing to stretch his arms above his head absently. Katt must have requested it for him, she knew he liked it for some reason. He knew it was for the lyrics, but James Bond themes were always good. He saw Mica watching him with dark eyes as he returned to dancing, pulling on moves a teen friend of his had taught him.

I'm gonna wake up, yes and no? I'm gonna kiss some part of… I'm gonna keep this secret, I'm gonna close my body now.

He let his thoughts wander as he danced, wandering to the past and to Leon, knowing it was the gang fights that made him like this song, just sheer closeness to death that made him relate to it.

I guess I'll die another day…

He noticed that Mica had stepped in and started to dance with him, wanting to dance close, pouting when he was brushed back a little. "Who taught you to dance?"

"A lot of different people actually. The one who taught me all the fancy moves was a friend who danced exotic on the weekends." He caught the look. "A girl, not a guy."

Mica just nodded, trying to dance close again, frowning when Falco detached his arms. "Why can't I be close?"

"I'm trying to figure things out right now, ok?" Falco huffed and left the dance floor, ordering a drink. Mica tagged along behind him. "I don't know what I am."

"How will you know if you don't explore?" Mica wanted to know, crossing his arms and tilting his head to one side.

"I've already got a queue of people offering that, as much as I hate to admit it. I came here to try to clear my mind."

"Doesn't seem to be working very well."

"Thanks." He huffed, finishing his drink, trying not to be hostile when Mica just hugged him from behind. "Am I that attractive or what?"

"Yes, you are. I want to take you home with me."

"That's blunt." Falco choked out a laugh, shaking his head, trying to quell trails of nervousness that spread through him. Twenty year old virgin, hadn't kissed anyone in almost a year, and he was so tense he was trembling. "You normally propose one-night stands?"

"I never said I'd only keep you a night."

Somehow that sent a tremble through his body, lust unto painful need, and he ground his molars in frustration, detaching Mica's arms. "I don't think I should."

"But you want to."

Falco growled, turning to look at Mica, keeping his voice low. "Twenty years of abstinence can lead to some frustration in that department."

They stared at each other for a moment, the kangaroo's ears pressed back, eyes still full of lust. "I'm… sorry." He finally said. "It's actually been a while for me as well, but… I guess I couldn't help it."

"And my fame from the war had nothing to do it?"

"Well, uh… makes it sort of intriguing. I guess. No one knows anything about you, Falco. Just what the media has said, and that isn't much." He looked away, blushing a bit. "I'm really sorry…"

"No. I guess I can understand." He turned Mica's gaze back to his gently with one finger. "Don't feel bad." Trying to ignore just how bad his instincts were screaming for some way, any way to get release, he pecked Mica's forehead gently and slipped away, leaving the building for some air.

Once outside, he ducked his head as he passed the smokers, sitting on the curb and cradling his head in his hands. True, dancing normally relaxed him, but now he was tense, wanting to be alone and calm down. He was badly tempted to accept Mica's offer just to relieve the tension within him, just so he could have a few minutes of relaxation. But where would that leave Leon?

He blinked, lacing his fingers together absently. He didn't know why that worried him so much. He didn't want to hurt Leon, he knew that. He wanted Leon to be happy. His heated mind conjured up some images, and he shook his head sharply, trying to get them out. He didn't want Leon like that. Did he?

Sensing a presence behind him, he looked over his shoulder, smiling weakly at Katt. "Hey sugar girl."

"Hey." She sat down next to him. Fay, who had followed, sat on her other side. "What's up?"

"… Is it wrong to want one of your friends?"

"Nah." Fay said, combing her fingers through her crimped poodle fur. "It's natural sometimes."

"I guess that makes me feel better." He sighed.

"Needed some quiet time, I take it?" Katt asked.

"No, a guy was insisting on taking me home in there, and I wanted a break from it. He apologized, but I still wasn't in any mood." Falco rubbed the back of his neck. "Though I'm tempted to take him up on it. I dunno, maybe I just need to beat the unholy crap out of a punching bag for a while."

"Sounds to me that's NOT what you need to beat." Fay said in a wise voice, then protested when Katt elbowed her in the ribs. "Well, that's what it sounds like to me."

"Never got that much out of that. Bores me." Falco rubbed his eyes.

Katt sighed. "I'm sorry, Falco. I was just trying to help."

"It's ok, baby doll. I know." He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close absently.

Leon sighed, glancing at Peppy as he walked down the hall to the room he was using. He had left Joey curled up asleep on the sofa, finally setting a note beside him that he'd be right back. "I forgot my contact solution and glasses, ok?"

"You wear contacts… check that. You wear glasses?" Peppy lifted his eyebrows. "I've never seen you with them on."

"I only need them for reading and driving, and not even really for that. It's minor." He disappeared into his room and came back out, bottle and cases in one of his cargo pockets. "Peppy, you and Fox have been giving me weird looks for a while now. Why?" He narrowed his eyes. "The cards didn't comment."

"We can't find a record of you attending a flight school." Peppy replied honestly. "And we can't find school records past the sixth grade, so…"

Leon threw back his head and laughed, rubbing his eyes. "Christ, is that all? That's why you guys have been discussing me behind my back?"

"You make it sound like we've been badmouthing you."

"Well, hell. I guess I can be straightforward about this." Leon walked to the kitchen, nodding for Peppy to follow him. "It's just how you see it. I dropped out. I don't even have a GED."

The older hare stared at him. "Why? I'm no judge, but you've got to have a pretty high intelligence. Why didn't you make good on it?"

"Because Corneria City charges money to attend middle school and high school." Leon poured himself some coffee, glancing at the clock. "I didn't have any money and had already gotten tired of social services. They don't leave you with any dignity. So I just quit going. I intend to get my GED eventually, maybe after the public calms down and stops wanting me burned at the stake."

"… You're in a good mood."

"Male bonding does that to you. Any word on Falco?"

"No, not as of yet."

Leon frowned, and sighed. "Well, I hope he gets back here soon."

"He will." Peppy watched the younger man leave the room, rubbing his chin. Interesting, the relationships that went on in this cruiser, he mused. Wolf, pining for Fox and having to suck it up, Leon and Falco caring for each other but caught in the awkwardness that came before a relationship, Slippy crushing helplessly on Vic who did nothing to dissuade it. At least no one was bothering him, he mused, or there would be no sanity on this ship at all.

Falco tossed himself onto the sofa, watching through half-lidded eyes as Fey and Katt went into the kitchen, talking and laughing. Why was he not surprised that his former girlfriend was now dating a girl? The universe seemed determined to make fun of him nowadays… But, he had said he didn't care if Fay had tagged along, as long as they didn't keep him up. Fay had laughed.

He sighed, rolling onto his stomach and burying his head in a pillow. The events of the last twenty-four hours still had him reeling a bit, the worst of which was just how badly he had wanted to accept Mica's offer, how badly lust and need had knotted up his insides until he could barely stand it. That finished the debate, and he knew it. He was gay, fighting the urge to rattle and pound on his closet door but scared, far too scared, to leave yet.

But where did that leave him? He didn't know. With everything going on, would it be smart to step to bat and admit he was how he was? Would anyone even approve? He figured Wolf and Peppy could handle it, but anyone else was a toss up. But could he handle hiding it? That he doubted heavily. He didn't want to have to hide, but he didn't want to be open to everyone's criticism.

'Can't have it both ways, Lombardi.' He thought to himself wearily. 'In, or out. Your choice, no one else's, but people depend on that answer. Or at least one does.'

Another point. Leon, who so obviously cared for him, maybe loved him, was waiting for his answer. Leon wanted to pick up how they had been during their unintended vacation, particularly the part about sleeping in each other's arms. Falco closed his eyes and thought back, remembering waking up holding the smaller man, and just feeling content about it, safe about it. Not worried about other's opinions, not scared, just warm and safe. To think that Leon had once been his most vicious enemy? It seemed almost unreal.

The edge of the couch moved, and he opened one eye, looking sideways at Katt, who offered him a mug of coffee. He rolled and took it wordlessly, wanting to wash what alcohol he had drunk from his system.

"I'm sorry about tonight." Katt said finally.

"I know. You don't have to be." He took a slow drink, again swearing to himself that he would buy better coffee. "It did me some good Katt. It did help me figure some things out."

"That's good I guess."

"So. You and Fay eh?"

She blushed and laughed, looking away from his laughing gaze. "Yeah. Sorta happened on accident, been carrying momentum ever since."

"Momentum's good. She's nice."

"Yeah she is." She looked at the floor, claws idly digging into the carpet. "So, uh, what did you figure out?"

"That I am how I am. Enough said, and no Popeye comments." He took another drink. "What to do about that, I'm not sure. I want out, Katt. I haven't even been aware of my closet very long and I'm desperate to get out. But…" He looked away. "I'm scared."

"That's understandable. Well, you have my support when you're ready."

"Thanks, sugar belle." He ruffled her hair absently, she leaned in when he scratched one of her ears. "I'll probably go home late tomorrow, if you don't mind."

"No, you can stay as long as you want. I don't get to see you much, you know?"

"Well, we'll just have to fix that won't we?"