Gold Eyes Blue
He awoke, startled in sparkling imperfection
-John Lennon, Standing Stone
The metallic chime of of the old-fashioned telephone filtered in through the tearful dialogue that was playing on the telly. The hefty blond man hauled himself off of his off white sofa, paused his soap opera, and, coke bottle in hand, strode briskly in direction of the kitchen. Setting the now-flat soda on the rickety metal table, he sat himself down on the counter top, and then he picked up the receiver and put it to his ear.
Hello, may I please speak to Gateau Mocha?
...Oh my gods... Marron??? Gateau asked the phone upon hearing a soft, deep, and deliciously familiar voice, Is that really you?
Yes, the voice replied, Is that you, Gateau?
Yeah, its me, Gateau said, trying to hide the excitement in his voice. It had been nearly four years since hed heard from his younger, used-to-be-partner. Marron had never called him before, and now that his crush was actually on the phone, talking to him, he couldnt help but feel the hot thrill of hope fluttering in his heart, Marron, I havent seen you for so long! How are you doing?
Im doing fine, thank you, but really busy with my academic work. Im majoring in music theory.
Music? Since when are you into music, Marron?
Well, I suppose I just wanted to try something I never really wouldve thought about trying. Besides, Ive always liked poetry and music is both magical and poetic in its own special way.
Thats great, Marron. So what are you, a junior now?
GodDAMN youve grown up so fast!
I guess. I really like college. My room mates arent really friendly with me, much less the rest of the school, but the curriculum they have here is wonderful. And its kind of a good thing Ive developed an interest in music, because being in this band helps me pay for college intuition.
Youre in a band?!
Yes. I like it all right, but the kind of music my band likes to play, I dont find particularly appealing. Punk rock is really not my style. But I do love to sing.
Marron Glace... Gateau said, shaking his head even though he knew very well that Marron couldnt see him doing it, I never would have thought that you of all people would be a singer.
I never really thought I would either. But I tried it once, and something about it just clicked with me, I suppose. Im the lead vocalist in my band, but when Im not performing with them, I like to sing softer tunes. Oh, but that reminds me, Gateau, I need a favor.
Yes...can you give me a ride? I have a concert over at the old theater by the Catering Place tonight and all the other band members are too busy to pick me up, and my bike has a flat.
Dont you have a car?
No. I dont like them. Theyre dangerous, expensive and bad for the environment.
Oh okay, Marron. Sure, Ill give you a ride. Where do you live?
There was the sound of light laughter on the other end of the line that made Gateau wonder for a moment until Marron said, In room 37, four floors down from you.
Gateau nearly fell off the counter, What?! You live in my apartment building?!
I just moved in four days ago. the calm, somewhat amused voice replied, I was looking in the apartment directory yesterday to see if there was anyone I knew in this building and there was your name.
Whoa, dude! I dont believe it! Gateau said, trying to maintain his balance,Oh and speaking of people we know, hows your brother and the rest of the gang doing?
The line was quite for a moment, before Marron replied ...My brother and Tira are fine. Theyre expecting their second child.
If he hadnt been so surprised, Gateau might have been able to detect the slight quaver in Marrons voice. But he didnt....
Waitaminute! Gateau said, sitting straight up, Tira and Carrot are married?!
Until death do they part,
Jesus, Im behind the times, Gateau muttered, feeling happy that the Misu sisters would no longer have to be stubborn little nags with Carrot, but also slightly hurt that he hadnt been invited to the wedding, much less made aware of it, but he brushed that aside, And theyre happy together?
Yes, very. They are getting along very well. And my brother is a surprisingly good father and an even more surprisingly faithful husband. He works hard for the family, which is a real switch for him. Hes working at the local repair shop. Under cars all day long...And Tiras the librarian for her sons school.
How did Chocolate take to Carrot choosing Tira over her? Gateau asked, feeling concerned for the sometimes annoying, but beautiful and spirited elder Misu.
Marron sighed, Im afraid she suffered a lot more than any of us could have imagined. When Carrot and Tira told Chocolate that they were getting married, she sank into depression over the fact that her only love, Carrot, had chosen her little sister over her. She refused to go into rehabilitation, and ended up an alcoholic. Shes now selling herself on the streets to support her addiction. The last time I saw her, she looked half starved, and was covered with bruises. It was heartbreaking.
My gods. Thats awful. Gateau breathed.
But, Marron said, Tiras last letter to me said that she has almost convinced Chocolate to undergo therapy. Tira and Carrot are saving up to put her into a home, in hopes that she will recover.
Thats good to hear, there was a pause, then Gateau did his best to stifle a laugh as he voiced the question at the back of his mind,And what of Mille Feuille?
Oh, him, Marron sighed, no need to worry about him. Hes living in Paris now and is doing more than well, Gateau heard Marron muffling his laughter as he managed to get out Hes now working as a super model.
Gateau laughed out loud, Oh really? Well, who'da thunk?
Indeed... Marron said through his own laughter.
Geez, Marron how are you so up to date with all of this?
Well, Carrot is my... brother... Marron trailed off again. This time Gateau noticed, and was a little concerned.
...Oh, Im sorry... Marron said softly before continuing, ...and he IS married to Tira, and Chocolate is Tiras sister, so it all kind of connects. Then one day, before her life had taken a turn for the worst, of course, I wrote a letter to Chocolate, that ended with please give my regards to Milphey. A week later, there was a letter from Chocolate in my mailbox that said she sent Milphey my address and the next day, a postcard, picturing the crossdresser himself wearing the latest piece from Gucchi arrived.
I guess I just didnt keep in touch coz Im not family to any of you.
Oh Gateau, Im sorry. Marron said, and Gateau could tell he meant it, But that will change now that we're in the same building.
There was an awkward silence on the phones as both parties took a moment to consider the implications of this simple phrase. Changing the subject, Gateau said hastily, Um, Marron, dont you need to go?
Not yet. I still have a half an hour until I need to be at the theater. I called early so we could talk for a while.
Oh, Gateau said quietly, thats sweet of you,
So how have you been lately?
Um, to be quite honest, not too good. Im getting the shitty minimum wage at the local McDonalds.
McDonalds? Gateau, why are you working there?
I cant get a decent job because I couldnt get into college.
Oh...Im really sorry, Gateau.
Its okay. Could be worse, I guess. But the apartments a mess and I havent been eating much coz I just blew six-months worth of wages. But I guess I can live without eating everyday...
Gateau, thats just not right.
Bah, its fine. I just nick fries and burgers every other day at the job, and Im cool.
Its not healthy, Gateau. Thats asking for a heart attack, you know.
Gateau shrugged, Yeah, but you do what you gotta do.
Silence. After a very heavy pause, Marron spoke again, Look, Gateau, wed better go. I need to be there in fifteen minutes.
Meet you down in the parking lot?
Alright. Oh and Gateau?
After the concert, youre coming over to MY apartment for dinner. Thats a demand, not a request.
Dumbfounded, Gateau slowly hung up the receiver. He couldnt help but stare stupidly at the phone as if it would suddenly start talking to him and tell him the answers to all of his questions, before he finally kicked himself back to reality. Gateau then put on his jacket and from beneath his mattress, he grabbed the key to what hed blown all that hard-earned cash on...
When the two met in the parking lot, both jaws hit the pavement upon seeing the other.....
He was clad in a pair of big, clunky black boots, ragged black jeans, a red tank with a white logo stamped on the front, overtop of which was a black leather jacket, laced with a myriad of chains, studs, and random zippers. His hair was a bit longer than it had been the last time Marron had seen him, and this time is what not slicked back with about a gallon of hair gel, but hung loose, and shaggy, framing his face, which had not been shaved for days, but was adorned with those bright blue eyes that were as bold and adventurous as ever. His gloved hands gripped the handles of a magnificent black Harley, whose purring motor kept an oncoming awkward silence at bay. But Gateau was just as surprised to see Marron, if not more so. Though he still had that quiet, demure look about him, he was no longer the noble and regal-looking young man he had been all those years ago. He had always been very modest when it came to clothing. The garments of choice back then were long pants, button-down shirts, and comfortable shoes, all of them white. Marron was one of those few people who could wear all white and look good in it. Then again, Marron had always been a rare specimen. Either way, it was a shock to Gateau seeing him now, because his previous attire had been exchanged for black and silver sneakers, a black velvet kilt, and a tight red tank that did a good job of showing off his slender waist. Had Marron taken up cross-dressing? He was even wearing some make-up: heavy black eyeliner and bright red eye shadow that set off his golden-yellow eyes. But what surprised Gateau most was Marrons hair. The last time they had been together as a team, Marrons hair was past his hips. Now it had been cut and hung in messy layers, anywhere from five to eight inches long, all save for the two tresses he always let hang in front. These hung just above his waist and the whole job was dyed dark blue (nearly the same color as the jet black is was naturally). Yup, he was definitely a rock star...
Hello, Gateau. Marron said in that same, soft, dusky voice that rung clear as a bell in Gateaus mind... One of Marrons few features that had not changed since he was last seen by the muscular blonde, who responded with a very quiet, Hi, Marron...its been a while...
Yes, Marron said, nodding, Its good to see you again. I missed you.
Gateaus thick eyebrows raised, Really?
Yes, of course, Gateau, you were as important to me as any of the others. We were a team. And a fine one at that, Marron then gave Gateau a funny look,Did you think I would forget you?
Gateau didnt answer. All he could do at this point was flip through his memories, like pages in a dusty album... He kept seeing that beautiful, white-clad young man, so elegant, like a god, almost. Soft of speech, replete of grace, and every move he made seemed to leave music in its wake. Gateau had flirted with him occasionally, only to be softly spurned each time, by the beautiful boy of his dreams...that fem face, so pale, angular and beautiful, with thin, sculpted lips, expressive golden eyes that seemed to burn and look like calm amber oceans at the same time, and long, feathery eyelashes, naturally dark and thick enough to make a hooker cry...that slender frame, which curved and arched in a nimble, graceful and almost rhythmic manner, as he if he were performing some feline dance or casting a spell...and his hands...the long, tapered fingers...fairer than those of any princess in a fairy tale, and skilled, in their lightning-fast choreography...such beauty that couldn't and wouldnt be his to say I love you... to. The memories were bittersweet to Gateau, who at the same time, was being reminisced over by Marron...
Marron looked at Gateau, astride his black-chrome steed, while thinking about the Gateau hed known those years ago, as if he were comparing photographs in a yearbook. Four years ago, this man was a top-heavy mountain of muscle, the definition chiseled and clean over his smooth, bronzed skin. He was clearly still extraordinary in that way, only now, the look seemed to have faded slightly... Rumpled black denim now loosely clothed legs which had once sported tight blue jeans. The black leather jacket helped to tone down the true extent of Gateaus spellbinding physique, but enhanced that tough biker look that hed apparently taken on. But though hed gone from soldier to street-rider, he was still Gateau Mocha, now and forever. His strong jaw, which had always been cleanly shaven, was now whiskered with stiff, blond bristles. His hair, which had always been carefully slicked back, now hung in tawny tresses almost to his chin, but those stubborn little bits in the front that insisted on sticking out were still there. If nothing else, Gateaus beautiful cerulean eyes had remained the same. They were like azure ice-caps, cold and proud, but at the same time, a gentle baby-blue color, and soothing to look into. Actually, Marron thought, this new Gateau had an overall more tranquil look to him. No longer was he a powerful warrior that could fell a stone wall will his fist. Or at least he didnt look it. Marron could no longer see the stubborn, slightly obtuse nineteen year-old whod tried unendingly to win his affections. It had been a bit annoying at the time, yes, but deep down inside, Marron thought he mightve liked the attention Gateau offered him. But then again, like everyone else, Gateau only saw Marron for the way he looked, and this was what kept Marron from accepting what Gateau might have given him all those years ago...
Oh!... Gateau said, with a little jerk as his wandering mind quickly found its way back to reality, Yeah, sorry...um...here... he unbuckled his helmet and held it out to Marron, who hesitated, Gateau, dont you need to wear that?
Well, I should, but I dont have another one and you need it more than I do, Gateau shrugged and added, besides, youre the passenger and therefore my responsibility. If anything happened to you, not only would I be in big trouble, but Id never be able to forgive myself.
Youre sure? Marron said, as he slowly accepted the helmet. Only when Gateau gave him a final nod, did Marron place the helmet on his head and buckle the strap.
Um...how do I get on?
Oh, sorry... Gateau said, dismounting the bike. He lifted Marron up and sat him down on the back of the seat, then he got back on and revved that baby up.
Hold on tight to me, Gateau called over his shoulder, Dont let go for even a second,
Gateau got a strangely pleasing feeling when he felt Marrons arms circle his middle. Hmmm...I wouldnt mind doing this again... he thought to himself as he kicked the Harley into gear and rode out of the garage.
Due back the 22nd, The spectacled lady with about an ocean of wavy rose-colored hair said as she put a stamp on the inside of the cover of Olde English Fables for the Young and Adventurous and handed the heavy book to the short red-head who stood on the other side of the counter.
Thank you, Mrs. Glace, He said giving a polite little bow before scuttling out of sight. The intent gaze of the librarian poured over the mountain of papers and books stacked upon the antique wooden desk and she sighed slightly. She was not looking forward to having to go through all of that and make sure all of the books that had been checked out had been returned safe and sound...
A voice that she knew, whose owner was clearing his throat to get her attention, made the woman look up from her papers, and a smile crossed her face when she saw him. Her husband was standing there in ragged jeans, and a shirt that had once been white, now stained every shade of brown you could think of, and then some. His wily black cowlicks were kept at bay, tucked beneath old baseball cap, and whatever hair could manage to peek out from under the hat did in sharp-looking spikes. Despite his appearance, the man had always looked either cute or handsome, and he still did, even tonight. How the young woman wanted to leap into his arms and tell him to take her home right then and there. Alas, no...
Carrot, you know I have to work late tonight, she said with a little sigh.
Aaaw, cmon, Tira, Carrot protested, his trademark crooked grin never fading, Its Turnips birthday!
I know, dear,
He wont cut the cake without mommy!
Im sorry honey, but I cant- Tira cut herself off when she noticed Carrot was down on his knees and had somehow crawled under her desk, to where she was sitting, and placed his head upon her rather round stomach.
Tira... Sugar Booger... Carrot said sweetly, looking up at her with those big chestnut puppy-eyes that he knew she couldnt say no to. Sure enough, the librarian caved.
All right, all right, she either said or sighed as she smiled down at her husband, Let me pack up my things... Tira made a face as she attempted to rise from her seat. Carrot sprung to his feet quick as lightning and helped his wife up. He smiled as he looked at her bulging abdomen, Shes coming soon.
Yes, Tira agreed, nodding and returning the smile gently, Little Toffee-kun will be here any day now.
You shouldnt have to work in this condition, Tira, Carrot said, his voice revealing concern.
Its all right, honey, Tira reassured her husband, You and I both love children. I might as well remain in a setting where I can be amongst them whenever I can.
Of course... Carrot said softly, embracing his wife and kissing her forehead. He then took her by the hand and led her out of the library, Come on, honey, lets get you and Toffee-kins home to her brother.
A knock at the door.
Mr. Feuille, the voice of his assistant replied, You are due in fifteen minutes and Mr. Mizo wishes to have a preliminary talk with you.
Oh for gods sakes, Kuri, The young white-clad man said in exasperation, Will you please stop sounding like some stiff government official wearing sunglasses and a black suit as he talks into his earphone? Come in here,
The door opened and a little girl, not a day over thirteen gingerly stepped into the brightly-lit room. The man swung around in his rollie-chair to face her and tossed his magenta locks over his shoulder, please, sit down, my dear and talk to me as a friend, not as an employee, he smiled kindly, a girl your age as sweet and adorable as you shouldnt be talking like that.
The auburn-haired girl smiled slightly as she took a seat on the soft velvet sofa across from the gorgeous man, hardly able to believe that he was what he was. The stunning youth had a mane of purple-pink waves that flowed down his back, and bright blue-green eyes that looked like minuscule oceans. His lips were naturally full and dark, as were his eyelashes. His voice was deep, but more warm, and playful than masculine. His skin was flawless, and nicely tanned. He was very slender, and all-around shapely, and possessed feminine grace. Everyone who saw him thought him to be the gender he was not. Even now, his little assistant, who had been working for him for the past three weeks, still found it hard to believe that this man before her possessed such a visage. He met every female super model criteria; Tall, naturally skinny, and...delicious to look upon. Surely a man could not embody such beauty. But this one did. Kuri also found it hard to believe that he had become the person he was. Mille was one of the few success stories of crazies who go into the loony bin afflicted, and come out cured. Shortly after hed entered junior high, Mille was a diagnosed schizophrenic, and was sent to a school for boys with special needs. Milphey apparently thought he had another self; while he was a perfectly normal cross-dressing flirtaholic, he seemed to believe that he was also an elite warrior, fighting to save another world from certain destruction. He had no control over whose train of thought he would hold, and when he would hold it, but the warrior always seemed to arrive on the scene when he got angry. One minute, he was a cheerful, sunny-faced boy-chick, the next, he was a battle-bent take-no-prisoners bad-ass. He had frightened many of his teachers by leaping onto their desks, calling them infidels, and threatening to loose the wrath of the gods upon them. Although hed never brought any serious harm upon anyone, besides scaring a few of the younger children, his actions were thought to be potentially dangerous to innocent bystanders. At the age of fourteen, he was restrained, and shipped off to a well-deserved stay at Club Crazy. He emerged four years later, a bit more sane, and ready to face the world. And just look at how far hed come; a successful super model for one of the most profitable fashion companies in the world. Although he was still a bit of a nut, and occasionally had terrible mood swings, his achievement was, to say the least, quite remarkable. Kuri shook her head, Sir, I am expected to address you with respect and treat you as my boss.
Which I am, but I am by no means tyrannical, the girls beautiful employer nodded, But if youre going to talk to me like Im some queen of Sheba, then I might as well have you get down on your hands and knees and lick my shoes to shine them. I wont have it. Fame doesnt command subservience, dear child. Understood?
The little girl nodded slightly and handed her employer a file, Mr. Mizo says he wants you to make these changes for tonights show. He wants you to lose the pink feather boa and use a black silk scarf instead.
Aaaw...but I like the boa... Milphey said, making a face.
And, Kuri continued ,He wants you to wear the red heels instead of the white. He also wants me to do your hair and help you with your make-up.
Okie-dokie, Kuri-darling, then lets not waste anytime! The pink-haired model almost sang, rising jauntily from his seat, the edge of his white Angora robe dancing at his ankles. He bustled about the room, gathering up everything he would need for tonights modeling session, Kuri, be a dear and get that horrid scarf that Mr. Mizo insists I wear, he called over his shoulder as he sadly replaced his beloved boa in its bin along with its brothers and sisters.
Kuri found the scarf, a dark gauzy thing, and handed it to her employer who took it disdainfully and slung it about his shoulders. He then began shuffling about the room, growing more and more frustrated, WHERE THE HELL ARE MY FREAKING HEELS, GOD-FREAKING-DAMMIT?!
Oh thank you, Kuri, Milphey said with a sigh as he accepted the shoes she handed him and began buckling the horrid things to his feet. When he looked up, little Kuri had retrieved his dress from the closet. It was white with silver ribbon for trim, and the sleeves widened into bells. It was tight at the top, shoulderless, very loose at the bottom, and had a short trail. There were lacy inserts at the waist, so one could see the sides of the wearers stomach, and there was intricate silver embroidery over every inch of the garment. Miphey smiled. The dress was very beautiful and hed been looking forward to wearing it himself. But he frowned when he remembered he had to trade that cute boa and the white heels for other things he favored less. The model shrugged and took the dress from Kuri. He slipped behind a gauzy curtain that hung in the corner of his room, and when he emerged he was wearing the beautiful dress, absolutely glowing with joy. He went over to the post at the other end of the room and held onto it as Kuri pulled two cords in the back, tightening the built-in corset.
I dont know why they insist that you wear a corset, Kuri said frowning as she tugged, Youre skinny enough as it is.
I kn-unh!-know... Milphey said, emitting a little gasp as the bony structure tightened around his already narrow waist. That was the only thing he disliked about the dress...having to turn his twenty-eight inch waist to a twenty-three...Argh...he liked modeling but sometime it could be a real pain in the...abs?
Gateau couldnt help but stare wide-eyed and slack-jawed as Marron let his passions unfold on the stage. He couldnt see the guitarist standing slightly behind Marron, nor could he see the drummer and the piantist. The only one who showed up in his field of vision was Marron. While he wasnt nearly as wild and exuberant as most other singers Gateau had seen, all of those calm and collected fronts seemed to fall away from the blue-haired artist. There was no dramatic hair-flipping, no impressive dance moves, no rolling on the floor and screaming, and no smashing of guitars. Just Marron, gripping the microphone, holding it close enough to allow his lips to brush the surface almost sensuosly as he sang his heart out. Hed already performed David Bowies Underground, and Elton Johns Somewhere, Out Of The Blue, and was currently singing And She Was by the Talking Heads.
...Rising up above the earth...
Moving into the universe,
drifting this way and that...
Not touching the ground at all,
up above the yard...
Marron sang, in a voice that was neither too deep, nor too dulcet. It was perfect, and his expression was lax, yet passionate. Then, the beat quickened, and he got a little more excited as he sang the chorus part;
The world was moving, she was
right there with it
And she was
The world was moving, she was
floatin above it
And she was...
Glad about it!
No doubt about it!
No time to think about what shes done
No time to think about
what to tell them
No time to think about
And she was,
Gateau couldnt help but shake his head in disbelief. He was seeing the unseen side of Marron. It was as if the younger man had kept his emotions and enthusiasm bottled up and brewing within him like a shaken soda bottle, waiting for just the right moment to be released.
Damn door... Gateau cursed under his breath as he struggled with the stubborn lock on his door.
Now, Gateau, remember, we are eating at MY apartment.
I know, I know... Gateau mumbled, an edge of frustration embedded in his voice. With a loud clicking noise, the confounded lock finally surrendered and Gateau was able to open his door. He stalked into his apartment, being careful not to step on the errant clothes and soda bottles and other junk that was strewn about the floor of the room. Marron poked his head in the doorway, and surveyed the vast array of crap that had colonized upon the floor of Gateaus apartment. The younger man grimaced, Gateau, your apartment is a mess.
Hmph, hows that for brain power? Gateau grumbled, his voice laced with sarcasm as placed the key to his motorcycle under his mattress and then made his way back to Marron, weaving between heaps of stuff, here and there. He finally reached the doorway and quickly exited his happy little shit-pit, closing the door, a bit embarrassed that Marron had seen what a mess he was...
The two walked down the hall until they found the elevator. Marron pressed a button and they both waited. When the reflective metal doors parted, both men stepped into the elevator, and the doors closed behind them. Marron pressed a button that had a 3 printed upon it in chipped, fading white paint. The elevator was pretty old. The floor was carpeted with rough, red and brown argyle upholstery, emblazoned with a few telltale stains. And the walls had wood paneling. Very old wood paneling that was marred, graffiti-ed and in need of replacement. But despite all this, the craptacular old elevator had one nice attribute... There were speakers... poor quality ones, yes, but the music that played in the elevator was very mellow and soothing. That was one thing Gateau really liked about the elevator. Someone as big and powerful as himself was often in need of a loosen-up-er and enjoyed listening to a nice, relaxing tune. Sometimes, during his free moments, Gateau would take a few random, no-real-reason-or-destination rides in the elevator because it was oh so wonderfully relaxing. He would lean up against the wall, close his eyes, and let his mind drift. Ahhh, bliss...
Gateau recognized the song that was playing. He liked it a heck of a lot, and gave into the temptation of pushing the emergency stop button.
Gateau... What are you doing? Marron inquired, giving his friend a funny look.
I like this music, Gateau said smiling slightly as he casually leaned back against the wall, his hands tucked into his pockets.
Oh? Marron asked, a little interested, What is the name of this song?
I dunno, Gateau said shrugging, I heard it playing in the background of one of my favorite soap operas.
Marron smiled slightly, his brow quirked with amusement, Soap operas, Gateau?
The blond man rolled his eyes and gave a sharp dismissive wave in Marrons general direction, Oh, kiss my ass. I happen to like cheap television dramas.
Marron sighed, shaking his head as he smiled, Very well. To each his own. But I must agree with you. This is a nice song...
The smaller man followed Gateaus example and leaned up against the wall. Marron slowly closed his eyes, submitting himself to the ambrosia of the music... It was sad and haunting, but beautiful in a way... The song spoke of nostalgia, of dreams yet to come true, of heartfelt hunger, of unrequited love...
Gateau turned his head slightly to look over where Marron was leaning. He face was so peaceful. So content. His lips tapered slightly at the corners into the faintest ghost of a smile. Long, elegant fingers played with the hem of his shirt and thick, feathery lashes fluttered slightly, as though Marron was deep in a slumber rife of sweet dreams...
The song ended, softly fading into the next piece of music on the cheap elevator speakers. Marron very slowly opened his eyes, and looked over to his side, where his friend was still staring at him. Gateau smiled a little.
Marron returned the smile, but wasted no time in averting his gaze and turning his head, concealing most of his face with a sheaf of hair.
The shy little Glace boy, Gateau thought to himself, identifying another of Marrons few unchanged attributes. If anything, he was still quiet and modest... One whose secrets guarded themselves. But Gateau thought he could see the slightest hint of a blush riding Marrons high cheekbones. Gateau actually managed to get a blush out of that sophisticated, more-virginal-than-thou-fixated stoic. Bwah! He felt so proud...
But the silence was starting to make both parties feel awkward, so Gateau pressed a button and the elevator resumed its descent. With a sharp jerk and a loud pinging noise, the elevator reached its destination, and the two passengers promptly made their exit.
Marron unlocked his door with relative ease and showed Gateau in, closing the door behind them both. Gateau gasped. Marrons apartment was by no means fancy or extravagant, but it was CLEAN. Every little thing had its place, and not a single item was askew. Oh gods, what if Marron was one of those Feng Shui fanatics who went batshit if the slightest thing in his impossibly tidy little dwelling was budged out of place? Gateau certainly hoped not. The thought of a person with such messy tendencies (such as himself) entering into such an orderly place made Gateau uneasy, and he suddenly wished to be back in the comfortingly cruddy hellhole he called home. How could someone such as himself profane such an ungodly tidy dwelling with his presence? Everything was so...perfect. Except for one thing... Gateau noticed that the doorframe had suffered from what appeared to be a break-in, for the wood was splintered and split near the lock. Oh well, nothing in the real world was perfect. And despite this one flaw, Marrons sickeningly orderly apartment was downright frightening. It was as if the cleanliness factor triggered one of the voices in Gateaus brain into shouting in a weird British accent Run away! Run away!
But Gateau did not run away. Instead, he stepped into the apartment, mindful to wipe his boots off on the mat and remove them, carefully placing his hefty leather footwear just inside the doorway. Marron did the same with his sneakers.
Marron then made his way into the kitchen with Gateau trailing behind him, Is spinach lasagna okay?
Fine. Gateau said nodding. He watched as Marron paraded around the kitchen, getting out the cheese grater, a cutting board, and other things hed need. A delicious smell was wafting through the kitchen even as he did. So, Marron had gotten started before going to the concert, and everything he needed was on hand. A top-notch housekeeper AND one who thought ahead. Yep, that guy had all his little rubber duckies lined up in neat army-drill rows.
After a few minutes, everything was ready and all that remained was to wait.
Well, now that thats started, I really think I should take a shower. That performance was rough, and Im all sweaty... Marron said, grimacing as he fingered a bit of his oily hair, Do you think you can watch television for about ten minutes while I freshen up?
Sure, Gateau said, shrugging casually. He flopped down on the couch and plucked up the zapper as Marron headed off in the direction of the bathroom.
Gods, he has a nice apartment... He even has an attached bathroom... Lucky bastard... Gateau thought to himself as he thought about his own dirt-cheap crap-tacular dwelling. It was so utterly shitty that he had to use the public restroom on the bottom floor, which looked like something out of a prison movie and smelled like ass. Eugh. Nasty.
Gateau channel surfed for a while, in search of a soap or a nice little cartoon, and found none. Well, even if Marron had a clean apartment, HE didnt have cable, so HA! Gateau turned off the telly and flopped back, not caring about the rather unattractive slouch hed fallen into. He could hear the quick, dainty rhythm of the water droplets as they bulleted the tiles. Gateau could even hear Marron humming faintly, his rich, tenor voice mingling with the staccato of the shower. It was very unnerving, and even somewhat... alluring?
Without fully realizing what he was doing, Gateau rose from the couch and meandered off in the direction from which the voice filtered. His footsteps were light against the carpet. He couldnt hear them. All he could hear was Marron...
The bathroom door was open a little. Gateau very carefully eased the door open a bit further, and allowed his gaze to wander inside. It was probably very wrong, he knew, but it was also very wrong of Marron to leave the bathroom door opened while he was showering with a guest in the house, so there!
The mirror was fogged already, and the steam that filled the bathroom moistened Gateaus face slightly. The outfit Marron had worn was lying in a disheveled heap on the floor, a little ways away from the sink. The smell of lilacs mingled with the already balmy atmosphere of the bathroom. Behind a panel of frosted glass, stood a very wet and warm Marron. Gateau felt a shiver shimmy down his spine as his hungry gaze took in that shapely silhouette, and watched as those artistic hands languidly ran themselves over the graceful curves of that beautiful body...
But surprisingly, Marron was not what truly captured Gateaus attention... As the Peeping Tom surveyed the room, his gaze fell upon what was sitting on the sink. It was a plastic cylinder, a receptacle that was sure to contain prescription medication. It held what appeared to be tiny capsules, though these were mostly obscured by the label, which Gateau was just barely able to read from his vantage point. The white and blue sticker read, Zoloft: anti-depressant.
Gateau very carefully closed the bathroom door and backed away, slowly returning to the couch, where he flopped down and turned on the telly. But his mind was not following whatever (boring) saga was unfolding upon the screen... He was thinking about that little cylinder full of pills... Pills that were supposed to tackle depression. Marron had always had that calm, collected, and impossibly stoic exterior... Had he been full of angst and despair all along? Marron was depressed... these three words kept echoing in Gateaus mind, leaving him with a somewhat sinking feeling... It wasnt pity, and it wasnt guilt... He couldnt define it, but he knew that this new knowledge would change his perspective Marron-wise. It would change his perspective A LOT.
While Gateau was mulling over his discovery, he heard the water being turned off, then the hum of the blow-dryer, and a few minutes later, the bathroom door opened. Oh gods...
Marron came striding out, wearing a heavy white terricloth robe over loose cotton pants and a white undershirt. Here he looked at least somewhat reminiscent of his old self. Except for that hair...
Marron went into the kitchen and called out to Gateau, Dinner will be ready in a few minutes, so wash your hands.
Kay, Gateau answered, struggling to keep his voice from revealing how uneasy he was. He numbly picked himself up off the couch and started toward the bathroom.
Oh, hold on, Gateau, Marron said from the entrance to the kitchen, Id rather if you used the sink in here... If you dont mind.
Gateau nodded slightly, I understand.
Marron stared at his friend for a second, then went back to cutting the steaming lasagna as Gateau walked over to the sink. As soon as Gateau had washed up, he took a seat at the table, where a plate bearing a slice of delicious-smelling lasagna was placed in front of him. Marron set his own dinner down and went over to the refrigerator, What would you like to drink Gateau? he asked over his shoulder.
Anything with caffeine. Gateau answered. Marrons brow quirked, and he shrugged.
Thats fine. Gateau said, putting his napkin in his lap. Marron finally returned to the table with a glass of Nestea for Gateau and a glass of milk for himself. He sat himself down in the chair across from Gateau, and put his own napkin in his lap. Both parties started to dig into their dinner in silence. Well, not exactly silence...
Gateau was starved. Like hed told Marron on the phone, he hadnt been eating every day, and he certainly hadnt been eating good wholesome food. That day, he hadnt had breakfast or lunch, and after eating nothing but greasy, salty fast food for as long as he could remember, this piece of perfectly ordinary homemade lasagna looked like a banquet. Gateau couldnt help but scarf it up, relishing in the feeling of actually eating a decent meal. The way he figured, at least everyone knew he was enjoying his food.
Meanwhile, Marron was eating his own lasagna in a perfectly civil manner. Hell, the guy was like a machine. A very sophisticated and annoyingly scrupulous machine, taking small bites and chewing thoroughly before swallowing, and scooping up the next forkful. Gateau had annihilated his dinner before Marron had finished close to half of his first helping.
Would you like some more?
Yes please, Gateau said eagerly as he handed his plate to Marron, who fetched him another piece of the wonderfully yummy lasagna. Gateau didnt hesitate for a second, and dug into his second slice, gobbling it up with gusto while Marron the Robot resumed the painfully slow and neat consumption of his first slice. Detestable perfectionist. Nyah.
Gateau noticed the tiny blue capsule that Marron had set on the edge of his plate. While Gateau paused to take a swig of his iced tea, he watched, out of the corner of his eye, as Marron quickly popped the Zoloft in his mouth and washed it down with his own beverage.
After theyd finished dinner (Marron ate the one slice of lasagna. Gateau wolfed down a total of five), Gateau folded his arms behind his head, leaning back in his chair, Great feast, Marron, a full stomach sure feels good.
My pleasure, Marron answered, clearing the table and depositing the dishes into the sink.
Do you have time?
For what? Gateau asked, composing himself.
Well, I thought we could talk for a while, Marron said shrugging, as he replaced himself in his chair, I mean, we havent seen each other in four years. Theres a lot to catch up on, dont you think so?
Um, I guess I see what youre saying. Id like to, but I kinda have to... um, go. Gateau said, fumbling with his own words.
Oh. Alright, Gateau. Marron said, never one to question someones personal obligations, a trait that Gateau genuinely appreciated. Marron walked Gateau to the doorway and the older man tugged on his boots. When Gateau stood, he looked at Marron, about to say something, and Marron looked at him. They both regarded each other for a moment in silence. Feeling just a tad embarrassed, Gateau spoke up, Um thanks for the dinner, Marron, it was really great, he said, hating how his voice seemed to have shrunk.
Youre welcome. Marron said in a voice that was just as reduced as Gateaus. He looked at Gateau for a few seconds with what couldve almost been fondness in his eyes. But Gateau knew better... Needless to say, he was very surprised when Marron lightly rested a pale, elegant hand on his broad shoulder and said, all sincerity, It was nice seeing you again, my friend.
Okay. That was was it. All of Gateaus barbed-wired-topped barriers of self control were felled by that simple phrase. The hefty blond threw his arms around Marron, nearly lifting the shocked man off the floor in a killer bear hug.
G-Gateau... I... cant breathe...
Gateau snapped back into reality and gently released Marron, averting his eyes. How embarrassing. The object of his affections had actually said something nice to him, and hed nearly ended up squishing the poor guy like a grape. Hello Gateau Mocha, you are one stoopid, impulsive motherfucker.
Im sorry, Marron, Gateau said quietly, I just... missed you.
Marron, having thankfully recovered from his minor respiratory loss, smiled a little at this, I missed you too.
It Gateaus turn to flush, R- Really???
Marron nodded once, Yes. I told you that before, silly.
Silence. Gateau could feel his heart fluttering like a caged bird as he looked at Marron and Marron looked at him. Looking back, he felt pretty stupid. Hed just stood there, feasting his eyes upon the visually delicious younger man before him, staring like a fuzzy moron.
When his conscience finally caught up with him, Gateau placed a hand gently on Marrons shoulder and smiled at him, Good night, Marron. And thank you.
Marron simply smiled, shaking his head slowly, Please, dont thank me, Gateau. It was my pleasure, he then looked up at Gateau, his expression achingly sweet, Good night.
Gateau suddenly felt that urge again... He wanted to kug Marron on the spot, and smother him in smooches, and he kept hearing a really odd Jamaican voice singing out, You wanna kiss de girl!
But this time Gateau was able to restrain himself. Besides, no matter how much he looked it, Marron was NOT a girl, after all. Gateau simply gave him a grateful smile before turning and leaving for his own apartment.
When Gateau was safe, back inside his Home-Shitty-Home, he leaned up against his door and released a breath he did not remember holding. His heart was still pounding, pumping a questionable warmth throughout his body. Gateau slunk into the kitchen, feeling numb with muted joy, until his hand automatically came to a rest upon the cabinet door. Gateau then remembered why his instincts had led him into the kitchen... time to surrender to his own dirty little secret...
Gateau didnt really have something to do that would've kept him from staying and chatting with his friend. Just finding out Marron was depressed had left an impact of fear on him... Gateau was not the sharpest cookie in the box and he knew it. He knew he would probably get so uneasy he would say something stoopid and end up totally screwing up his delicate, reborn friendship with the beautiful man of his dreams... He couldnt get stuck in a room with Marron, rife of awkward silences, resulting in a series of off-color jokes, out-of-place serious remarks in response to those jokes and then someone would get really upset, which meant basically that things would be no fun at all. Hell...
Gateau reached into the medicine cabinet and retrieved his own prescription medication. After placing the little plastic cylinder on the counter, he went to the fridge, from which he got a bottle of coke. Having a seat on the counter top, Gateau struggled for a while with the childproof cap (damn big clumsy fingers of his) and nearly ended up just ripping the thing open, before he thankfully managed to uncap it in a civilized manner. He emptied one dosage into the palm of his hand then closed up the container, grimacing at the thought of having to open it again.
His thoughts wandered to his salary... Would he ever get a raise? He remembered talking with his boss (a plump lady, practically half as tall as he was, with tacky, pointy pink spectacles, hair that looked like steel wool, and an overall bad-ass butch-bitch look) about needing a raise that she refused to give him... Hey, did she really expect him to be able to live on a mere five-fifty an hour salary forever? Ugly freaker. Gateau slumped his shoulders, heaving a huge sigh. Hed seen Marron for the first time in years, and hed learned a lot from him... Why had the rest of the team said Oh screw Gateau and omitted him from their lives? It was true, Carrot had never been very fond of him, but it still gave him no leeway with the cruel silent treatment. And what about Tira? Sure, hed scared her a few times with his impulsive flirting, but still... And Chocolate was constantly pissed at him for picking on Carrot. And what about Milphey? That horny ass-flamer had once even admitted he held a candle for Gateau... Okay, so it was an itty bitty candle with most of the wax melted and the wick burnt away... and Milphey was kind of a loony... And then, Marron had always given him the cold shoulder, so he could hardly hold that against him now... Oh fine, so he didnt really have any good friends! Still, it was kind of depressing that not one of those lovely bastards/bitches had bothered to, in even the slightest way, include him in their lives. Sad. Gateau shook his head, swallowing the sorrow he felt welling up within him. Oh well. At least Marron had bothered. It took him long enough, but he actually bothered. This made a big difference, and it would do for now, Gateau decided, once again letting his gaze fall upon the little blue pill resting in his hand. Gateau smiled a rueful half-smile and raised his Coke in a toast of sorts, To friendship, he mused aloud, before taking his Zoloft and turning in for the night.
Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you...!
Marron rolled his eyes, smiling, Gateau...
Happy birthday, Marron Glaaa-aaaace, Happy birthday tooooo you! Gateau chorused cheerfully as he sat on the counter top, bouncing slightly and swinging his legs, looking for all the world like some overgrown little kid on steroids.
Marron sighed, still smiling, Gateau, you remembered.
Of course I remembered, dummy, Gateau said laughing, after taking a sip of Coke (his second bottle that day. He was QUITE happy), How could I forget?
You forgot when Valentines day was.
I did NOT! I just couldnt wait and I wanted to bring you your roses a day early! Gateau lied, glad Marron could not see his frustrated blush.
Marron laughed slightly, Whatever you say, Gateau.
Anyway, come off it, man, I remembered your birthday didnt I? I called cuz I want you to come over this evening, I have a surprise for you.
Well, I have a concert this afternoon, so Ill have to come home and shower, but I should be able to make it.
Sure. See you at five, mmmkay?
Later, birthday boy.
Marron smiled to himself as he said goodbye and hung up the phone.
At five oclock, Marron stood in front of Gateaus door, feeling slightly uneasy. Being punctual could really suck sometimes. Especially when it meant not having time to properly and thoroughly dry your hair. And he hadnt had time to put any make-up on. Blah...
Marron heard a few telltale thumps on the other side of the door and a muffled Agh! Dammit! ILL BE RIGHT THERE!!!. An amused smile played over his delicate features as he waited. The banging and clicking of various locks being undone could be heard before the door opened oh so slightly and a familiar blue eye peeked through the crack.
You ready? Gateau questioned, from behind the door.
Marron shrugged, I suppose.
Alright. Come on in.
Gateau opened the door to his apartment, gesturing for Marron to step inside. He did, and emitted a little gasp at what he saw. The piles of clothes had vanished from the floor. The empty soda bottles had migrated over to the recycling bin. The magazines and newspapers where stacked neatly on the coffee table, and the off white carpeting was pretty much pristine. Gateaus! Apartment! Was! Clean!
Oh my gods, Gateau... Marron said, smiling, How...?
Gateau shrugged, beaming with pride, Took me at least a week, but I managed. He then gave into temptation and ruffled Marrons hair. Due to the way it had been cut and layered, Marron had a delightfully fluffy crop of hair. Right after he got out of the shower, Marrons blueish-black hair was especially fluffy and soft-looking. It was the kind of hair that you couldnt resist ruffling. Gateau had made a habit of doing this, much to Marrons annoyance. But today, Marron didnt really mind for some reason and smiled good-naturedly as he smoothed his hair back down as best he could
Not bad, huh?
Marron shook his head in disbelief. He surveyed the room, taking in every detail, memorizing it as though this was a once-in-a-lifetime sight (which it probably was). He noticed Gateau had taken the time to put up some decent curtains (those defective second-hand Venetian blinds HAD to go) and there was even a little vase with daisies in it sitting upon a cork coaster on the coffee table. But what really captured Marrons interest were the paintings. Gateau had several pieces in cheap, garage-sale frames hanging on his walls. They were blotchy, consisted of one or two colors, and didnt seem to form any kind of distinct pictures.
What sort of paintings are these, Gateau? Marron said, approaching one of the masterpieces that was a large grey and white squigglish blob with red splotches here and there, Where did you get them?
I did them.
Marron, slowly turned, staring at Gateau, with obvious skepticism in his eyes, You...?
Yeah, Gateau said shrugging, I got started doing them by accident. One night I was really mad and happened to knock over my Coke. It spilled on the newspaper I was reading and I kinda forgot to clean it up. When it dried, it looked kind of cool. So anyway, I went to a yard sale, got a cheap set of kiddie watercolors, and some paper and had some fun with them. When I get really happy, sad, or pissed, I take it out on the paper in front of me.
Thats interesting. Marron said, a little amused, So they are sort of a window to your suppressed feelings?
I guess, Gateau said, with a half-smile, I mean, I dont really try to paint anything in particular. This one I did when I was kind of ticked about my salary and it just so happened to come out looking like a flying bloody sock.
Marron simply smiled, shaking his head. Gateau clapped him lightly on the shoulder, Hey come on, Marron, its better than chewing out innocent bystanders and putting my fist through the wall, isnt it?
I have to agree with you there.
Good, Gateau nodded, satisfied, Then I have something else for you.
Uh-huh. Close your eyes.
Marron cocked an eyebrow at Gateau, who simply raised his own eyebrows and said, Come on, just do it.
Marron nodded once, and did as he was told. Gateau waved his hand over Marrons eyes to make sure they were indeed all the way closed. He then took Marrons hand and said, Come with me.
Gateau led Marron over to the couch, where he had his friend sit down. Gateau then rushed over to the kitchen where he brought out a tray and set it down on the coffee table and turned off all the lights.
Dont you peek, Gateau said in an almost-threatening tone.
Im not, Marron said truthfully. He could hear the clicking of various switches and buttons and even a rough scratching/hissing noise that was no doubt, that of a match being struck and lit.
Marron slowly opened his eyes. The lights were off, the telly was on, and in the faint light emitted from the screen, Marron could see a delicate array of nummies spread out on the coffee table before him; Peach, melon, and kiwi slices, Lady Finger pastries, a small cup of sweet shrimp, butterfly crackers, and to the right of it all, a dainty little cake lightly covered with white icing, decorated with yellow rose petals, and topped with a lit candle in the shape of a 22.
Happy Birthday, Marron. Gateau said, shrugging and smiling.
Marron released a short breath of joy at the sight, This is wonderful, Gateau. Thank you.
Ah, its nothing, Gateau said with a dismissive wave, taking a seat on the couch, next to Marron, Just a little sumthin I picked up at the Catering Place nearby the Mickey-Ds. I wouldve made you a cake myself, but seeing as I cant cook worth jack... Hell, I cant even pour milk on cereal without lighting the place on fire.
Marron laughed quietly to himself, Either way, this is just lovely, and I thank you for thinking of me.
Dont mention it, Gateau said casually, Go ahead, get started. I got us a movie, too.
Oh? And what would that be? Marron said, spearing up a peach slice with a frilly-topped toothpick.
Its called Benny and Joon, Gateau said, taking the tape out of the clear, plastic rental case, I dunno what its about, but I kinda like Dramedies. And its not one of those things like American Pie or Hollow Man where its all about sex and violence and dirty jokes.
Well, good. Marron said, smiling slightly. Gateau popped the video into the VCR, and after nearly beating the crap out of the dirt-cheap telly, managed to get a decent picture. He then returned to the couch and settled down next to Marron, fastforewarding through all the cheesy chick-flick previews with the friendly help of the remote.
The movie started and true to Gateaus word, it was relatively mellow. As Marron watched the girl, Joon, painting something expressive, using her hands and fingers rather than a paintbrush, pouring her emotions and feelings out onto a canvas, he was reminded a bit of Gateau, with his nonsensical but inner-meaningful pieces. When they came to a somewhat sad and touching part where the character, Sam, who was for the most part illiterate, was struggling to write a letter to his mother and Joon came up and offered help, Gateau was reminded of Marron. Marron had always been a real brain, and had helped Gateau through the short portion of his life hed spent at school. Sure, Gateau could write (though his spelling was somewhat atrocious, and his neatness was somewhat... not neat), and do a little math, but his lack of a college education had left him without the skills he needed to find a decent job. Oh well...
Both of them laughed when the park scene came around, and Sam, would couldve been named Buster Keaton reborn, acquired an audience with his tricks and a little mini performance. Both were quiet when Sam and Joon were sharing a moment. Gateau snuck a glance over at Marron and he swore he saw Marron blushing when the two characters were sharing a brief, but rather heated moment in bed. Heh, ever the naive virgin-boy. Cute.
Later in the film, a very distraught Joon started having a fit in the bus, and despite Sams valiant efforts to gently calm her down, she simply couldnt come out of of her somewhat violent bout of depression. At this point, Gateau was for some reason compelled to look over at Marron, as if making sure he was okay. Gateau didnt know why... Maybe it was his knowledge of Marrons condition that made him do it... But in the six months since he and Marron had been... reunited, Gateau had never even seen any evidence that supported the fact that Marron was deeply depressed. He was always perfectly fine when Gateau saw him or spoke with him. Oh well... Maybe the Zoloft was really doing its job well. Heck knew Gateau had enough issues to stress about, and Zoloft worked like a charm for him.
When the film was over, and all of the munchies had been consumed, Gateau clicked off the telly, and turned on the lights.
Good movie. He said, returning to the couch and replacing himself next to Marron.
Yes, quite, Marron agreed. Gateau smiled at him, just looking at his friend adoringly, not daring to blink. The sweetness of the movie had put Gateau into... a mood...
Marron cocked his head in the cute, quizzical way a confused puppy does, What is it?
Nothing... Gateau said, shaking his head, But theres one more thing I have for you.
Marron raised his eyebrows, Something more?
Yep, I saved the best for last, Gateau replied, producing a medium-sized, squarish, some-what flat package wrapped in newspaper from under the couch. A book, no doubt. Gateau knew Marron all too well...
Marron opened the present in the annoyingly slow way that perfectionist little kids do, carefully peeling off the tape, smoothing out the creases, and above all, NEVER ripping the paper. Ah, woe be to thee if thou art rippeth thine giftwrap. Woe, woe!
Marron finally got his gift suitably unwrapped, only to discover that it was NOT a book, but a framed photograph.
I found it while sorting through my junk from the old days Gateau said, making finger quote marks as he said the last two words, I thought you might like to have it.
The photograph showed six young, teenage persons standing together in a group. It was the old gang, all together. There was Milphey, looking for all the world like a cute little schoolgirl, with his toes turned in, his hands clasped in front, and that big, winning smile smacked on his fem face. Next to him was Tira, who was smiling, and looking as sweet and adorable as ever, behind her huge round sunglasses. Chocolate was next to Tira. She had one arm around her petite, pink-haired sister, and was making a V is for Victory! sign with her free hand. Gateau was at the other end of the line, looking very smug, of course. In the middle stood Marron, struggling to keep his unruffled composure as he received a very long, hard noogie from his laughing older brother.
There was a heavy silence, during which Marron stared intently at the picture. Gateau was beginning to grow concerned. He leaned toward his friend, trying to see his face.
...T-Thankyou, Gateau... Marron said all too quietly as he placed the picture on the coffee table and continued to stare at it in choked silence. Very unsettling.
Gateau waved his hand in front of Marrons eyes, Yo, earth to Marron! Come in Marron!
Im alright, Marron said curtly, pushing Gateaus hand away. Gateau obligingly withdrew his hand, puzzled. What was wrong? Marron looked pretty upset. But hed been fine before dinner-
Gateau mentally smacked himself as he realized the problem. Marron always took his Zoloft AT DINNER. But tonight he mustve forgotten, and now... Oh gods...
Something about the picture had upset him, and Gateau knew that reasons were probably really personal. Still, Gateau knew how it felt having to bottle up painful feelings... That was why hed started painting the splotchy crap he did. Marron, as far as Gateau knew, didnt really have any such outlet, and from the distraught look on his face, he needed one BAD...
Marron, whats the matter?
Oh cut the crap, Marron, I know somethings bothering you. Please tell me. I wont laugh.
Im not worried about you laughing! Marron snapped, glaring at Gateau, Im worried about... other things you might do...
Gateau sighed, Marron, whatever it is, you can tell me. Please?
And why should I?
Because youre the only goddam friend I have left in this goddam world...! Gateau just about exploded. He managed to calm himself when he saw the frightened look in Marrons eyes and continued a bit more gently, Because youre all I have right now... And I want you to trust me.
Marron sighed, and nodded gravely, You promise you wont... react negatively?
Of course. Gateau said, in all sincerity.
Marron heaved a sigh of all sighs and turned his gaze to the floor, Its my brother...
What about him?
Carrot... My brother... Marron choked on the last word before pausing and taking a deep breath, He disowned me, Gateau.
Gateaus breath hissed through his teeth as icy shock froze his heart, ...What...?
Hes ashamed of our blood relation, Marron continued in a barely steady voice, So hes severed any and all connections we have... And hes forbidden Tira from contacting me as well. I mean, shes snuck me a few letters, but I cant write back to her, because Carrot might find out...
Gateau shook his head, Wait a minute, Marron. WHY would Carrot ever do that?
Marron paused for a second, That, you cannot know.
The younger man lowered his eyes and bowed his head in shame.
Gateau frowned and extended his hand toward Marrons face. Ever so gently, he placed his fingertips on his companions chin and brought Marrons face close to his own.
I know a lot more than you think.
Marrons breath hitched and his eyes grew wide and fearful, W-what?
Gateau lowered his hand and sighed, rising from the couch, Ill be right back.
Marron waited in tentative silence until Gateau returned and sat back down. He carefully took Marrons hand and placed something into it. Marron fearfully lowered his eyes to see what hed been given. It was a plastic container full of tiny blue capsules. It was labeled, Zoloft; anti-depressant. Marron slowly looked up at Gateau, his eyes wide with disbelief, You mean... You knew... You are...?
Take one of mine, Gateau said softly, Seeing you like this is breaking my heart.
Marron said nothing. He stared numbly at Gateau for a few silent seconds before opening the container and downing one of the pills.
Now. Tell me everything.
Marron looked up at Gateau with those intense amber eyes of his, burning with some untold fear, as he took a deep breath and began.
I met Danish in college. I was in my sophomore year, as was he. We had Advanced Music Theory Class together. He sat next to me and tried to pass me notes, but being the studious scholar that I am, I refused to take them while I was supposed to be listening to what the professor said. But we talked outside of class and eventually, we became very close friends. He was very different from the students at the college. It was his spontaneity and his energy that I came to favor. He was so playful, and funny. Everyone else was so serious and aloof. Like me, I suppose. But Danish was also very kind to me. He was pretty much the only one who didnt ignore me or verbally bash me about the way I looked. He reminds me a little of you, Gateau, now that I think about it. He was blond, but his hair was fair and wavy, and he had these funny bangs that seemed to frame his face like pasta shells. He had pale green eyes, and he was reasonably tan, and thin, but well-built. He was really tall and he had a deep voice. When he laughed, I felt like the floor was rumbling beneath my feet. He laughed a lot too. He always wore baggy jeans, tye-dyed tee shirts that were much too big for him, and he never seemed to take off these big, coke-bottle glasses he insisted he needed to wear. But they were only frames. Hed punched the lenses out because they hurt his eyes. When I asked him why he wore them in the first place, he said they helped him to concentrate. Needless to say, he was a goofball in every aspect. But a very fine singer. His voice was light and mellow while mine was heavy and dark. But he always said I sang like an angel. He was already in a band at the time, and they were in search of a lead vocalist. I couldnt refuse. That was how I became part of my band. Danish was the guitarist, and provided some vocals, some freckly twins named Biscuit and Crumpet were the drummer and the pianist, and I became their lead singer. Our band is called Horny Unicornie. Despite the rather crude title of the band, I found that singing with them brought me joy and lifted my heart. It was as if by joining the band, I had acquired wings and had the ability to fly as high as I wished, whenever I wished. But it went deeper than that. Much deeper. Danish and I grew very close, until our closeness went beyond friendship alone. He revealed to me that he was homosexual and that he was in love with me. I had never been in love before and I was still unsure of my own sexuality, but something about it just seemed right. More flattered than shocked, I accepted his little proposal, and we started going out. It was... heavenly... When we were walking in the park or walking around the mall, he would put his arm around me or wed hold hands, but we were both very subtle at school. We had enough problems with our peers there. It was a promising relationship. It lasted well over a year...
But there was a lot I had to keep hidden. Our relationship would undoubtably not have gone over well with the fellow students, much less my brother. I spent the holidays with Carrot, while the college was closed, and I had pretty much no where else to go. He and Tira live in a nice little brick rancher in a quiet neighborhood not too far for here. I really liked staying with them. Tira was a wonderful hostess, and Carrot was always a joy to be around. Especially since hed gotten married and settled down. That sweet, seldom-seen side of him had come into full bloom. But since I joined the band, I started dressing and acting differently. I cut my hair, wore a less conservative choice of clothing and put on make-up. Carrot kept telling me things like, I dont want people to get the wrong idea about you. I knew what he meant by that and I almost shot back at him with something like, And what is so wrong about it?, but I didnt, because then hed know. He couldnt know about me. I assured him that I was a perfectly normal student with perfectly kosher preferences and that I just wanted to be different. I kept my secret hidden for quite a while. Then it happened. Then my world came crashing down upon me...
It was not even a year ago, a week after our summer break started, when Carrot and Tira and their new baby, Turnip decided to go on a weekend vacation. I would have the house to myself for three whole days. Of course I called Danish and invited him to spend the extra time with me. That evening we had dinner while watching a movie. Rain Man, I think was the name of it. When we were ready to turn in for the night, we both changed into our pyjamas and climbed into the bed my brother and Tira shared. I knew it was probably very wrong for my gay lover and I to be sleeping in that bed, but I was too blinded by my love to care much. Either way, we fell asleep in a passionate embrace.
I awoke in the middle of the night to a shriek. I blinked myself into coherence in time to see Tira shooing the toddler Turnip out of the room while gawping at Danish and I. Wed become a fine knot of limbs and our hair looked like it had gone through the spin cycle. In other words, we looked like we were doing something that we werent. Carrot came running to see what was the matter, and appeared behind his wife. When he saw me curled against Danishs body, I swear, I saw a god of destruction where my brother should have been standing. Seething, he told Tira to go into the living room and keep an eye on Radish. Tira of course scampered away and did as she was told. My heart all but stopped when Carrot stormed into the room, seized me roughly about the shoulders and dragged me out of bed to the front door, throwing me to the ground outside. I wasnt thinking or feeling anything. The arm that took the impact when I fell didnt hurt. I didnt feel ashamed that I had been caught in such a compromising situation. I barely heard what he shouted at me before the slamming the front door shut. I think he said something like, No brother of mine is going to be a lying whoring queer! But it didnt matter. I only knew one thing. I knew one word at that moment, written across my mind in big capital letters, shining like a neon restaurant sign in the night... RUN.
So I did just that. I fled. And in my lilac cotton pyjamas, no less. I ran blindly down the street, feeling nothing, fearing everything. Ive always heard that famous line, You can run, but you cant hide. I couldnt change who I was and I knew that. Yet I ran, like the stupid child I was. It was like I was trying to escape from my own shadow. It started to rain hard. The thunder growled and the lightning cracked like a whip against the sky. I remember huddling in the shadows under the awning of a donut shack, burying my face in my hands, and promising myself I wouldnt cry. After a half an hour or so, Danish finally found me. We were both soaking wet and shivering, but by then we... well I cant speak for him, but I knew I was numb throughout my entire body. We looked at each other for a second. His eyes seemed to say his apologies for him. Then he told me that he could no longer love me if it would cause me pain. If it would cause my family shame. He said he couldnt and wouldnt be with me if it meant such monumental sacrifices on my part. Even though my heart had shattered by this time, I had to agree with him. Breaking up was for the best, so we did. We looked into eachothers eyes a final time before going our separate ways.
I do not know where he went that night. Having no place else to go, seeing as it was still summer vacation and the college was not an option, I dragged myself into the nearest alley, found the most comfortable cardboard box I could and curled up on it. But I didnt sleep. I couldnt sleep.
Gateaus knuckles were white as his hands gripped the edge of the sofa. His mouth was open slightly and a mixture of pity and shock clouded his wide blue eyes.
...You spent the night outside? he said in barely more than a whisper.
Marron nodded solemnly.
Were you scared?
Yes. I was scared. Danish mustve gotten a room at a Motel or something, but I had no cash on hand. I had no choice but to settle down where I did for the night. The next morning, I headed back to Carrots house to pick up my things. Lo and behold, my duffel bag was already on the doorstep, waiting for me. I suppose Carrot didnt want to face me and wanted nothing to do with me after that night. Full of sorrow, I carried my things back to the alley Id spent the night in to make sure he hadnt forgotten anything. The five sets of clothes, my toothbrush, my shampoo and my wallet were there, but I also found a note. I opened it. It was from Tira, and written in red pen... I still have it somewhere... The note said basically that they had had to come back home early because the car broke down scarcely after theyd left the city. They took a taxi back to the house. It said that Carrot was very angry that I had lied to him and used HIS and Tiras bed for my own... purposes. I had betrayed his trust and set a bad example for my nephew. He wished to severe any contact or relations he had to me. Basically, he was telling me I dont know you, you dont know me, and last night never happened. Tira had taken the liberty of reserving an apartment for me in the nearby building. She said that she held nothing against me, but Carrot had forbidden her to contact me. She promised she would write to me whenever she could, which she did, and she even sent me money occasionally, out of concern and kindness. I really want to thank her for all shes done for me, but she said that I was never to write back to her, lest Carrot find out. She taped some pressed flowers at the bottom of the note, wishing me the best.
That same day, I was in the middle of moving into the apartment Tira had so thoughtfully booked for me, when our drummer, Biscuit came to me and handed me a note. He said Danish had given it to him the previous night, and told him to give it to me the next day. Of course I tore it open immediately after Biscuit left. It said something along the lines of My dearest Marron. You were my first and my only love and I know I was yours. I always knew love hurts, but I never knew it could kill. Now that we are apart, my soul has died. You were all I had to live for, and now that you are gone, all that remains is to say goodbye. Goodbye Marron, my love. He concluded the letter with a quote from Shakespeare; I love you all the more, the hearers may cry amen. I knew what this meant even before Biscuit returned with his brother Crumpet to tell me that Danish had slit his wrists while in the bathtub. I was crushed. I felt like curling up into a ball, making myself smaller and smaller until I disappeared altogether. But I was never one to give up so easily. Id learned how to accept things and move on. I went to Danishs funeral. I wore a long black dress for no real reason. I placed a red rose upon his grave, knelt at the headstone and spared a few tears for my lost love. I remained there for hours reminiscing, and mulling over my own deep regrets. I then picked up the rose, kissed the petals lightly, and replaced it upon the earth beneath which he lay. I have never returned to his grave, since that day. I feel if I did, I might never leave. I might never be able to let go. Horny Unicornie is still going strong. We selected a very talented young lady to be our replacement guitarist. She and I are good friends. No one has yet told her of the guitarist before her. The memories of Danish, and the fact that I have lost my only brother plague my thoughts and dreams, infecting my mind with depression. After a month, I started taking Zoloft and it worked wonders for me, but even the strongest medicines cant change the fact that this whole thing has destroyed my heart. I feel as though I could never love again, because it would be... a betrayal. I already betrayed my brother. I just cant...
Marron was silenced as Gateau gently placed a finger over his lips, Ssssh... he said softly, You dont have to say any more.
Gateau looked at Marron, who had obediently stopped speaking. The older man was full of shock. He knew that Marron was a tell-the-truth-the-whole-truth-and-nothing-but-the-truth kind of guy, and was not one to twist a story and portray himself as the righteous sufferer. He told no lies, left out no incriminating details, made no one out to be the bad guy. He spoke the stark truth, and that was what made it all the more horrifying. Gateau was even more amazed at how smooth Marron managed to keep his expression. His face was not contorted with grief as the face of any other in his shoes would surely be. His brow was quirked only slightly, and his intense amber eyes simply burned with a thousand unshed tears, glittering with a sorrowful golden fire. Gateau could feel moisture pricking at his own eyes as he shook his head slowly, slightly, never letting his eyes leave Marrons.
My gods, Marron... I cant tell you how sorry I am...
Marron stared in silence at his friend for a moment before turning his face away in shame.
I dont want your pity, Gateau. But I do appreciate the fact that you care.
Of course I care, Marron. Gateau said sincerely, I kinda know how you feel... I mean, Im always struggling with my job, working from sunrise to sunset in order to pay for my apartment. I dont eat very well either, and up until you called all those months ago, Id lost any connections with the few friends I had. Im not trying to beat you with my misery, or anything. I cant begin to imagine what youve gone through, but I have depression too, and I know how much it hurts...
Gateau waited for even the slightest reaction from Marron. Nothing. He sighed, And I just want you to know that Im here for you.
Gateau stared at Marron intently, trying to read his mind since he couldnt see his face. Gods, he couldnt imagine what it would be like to be the one to live after your only love had... gone away. Gateau sort of could relate to the sibling thing. Hed lost Eclaire when they were still young. Hed gotten word that his little sister had been kidnapped, that she was working somewhere in South America for some big corporation that secretly had millions of children slaving away for them. Gateau had had to rely on these rumors over the years, since no real evidence ever turned up. But what if it turned out that Eclaire had actually just left because she didnt want Gateau for a brother anymore? Ye GODS, that would suck so much ass...
Gateau genuinely felt for his friend as he watched him... Marrons hands were clasped tightly in his lap. His shoulders were tense. His head was bowed, and his face turned away, obscured by one of his two long tresses of hair. It was then that Gateau fervently wished to be one of those awesome fairy god mothers who could make your worries leave you with the simple and effortless wave of a wand. But Gateau was just about the furthest thing from a fairy and he certainly didnt have a magic wand on hand. There would be no pumpkins turning into carriages. There would be no mice to become horses. There was no ball with Prince Charming waiting in a lovely white suit to take the hand of the one for whom he was destined. And Marron probably wouldnt wear heels anyway, so the glass shoes were a definite no.
Oh hell, he had to do something. Marrons despondence was absolutely KILLING him...
Not knowing what to expect, Gateau shyly wrapped an arm around Marrons shoulders and gently pulled him closer. Gateau was pleasantly surprised when Marron didnt pull away and the smaller of the two actually leaned against his friend, resting his head on Gateaus shoulder. The smell of lilacs invaded Gateaus nostrils as Marron did this, and that fluffy, recently shampooed blue-black hair seemed to call out to be ruffled. But this was hardly the time and place for that, so instead, Gateau simply petted Marrons hair ever so gently with his free hand. Marron breathed a contented sigh and closed his eyes. Gateau smiled. He had been wishing for this ever since he was a teenager. Hed held a candle for Marron all his young adult life, and he was finally granted the pleasure of holding the beautiful man. Only he wasnt doing this to indulge his own whim. He was half-hugging Marron for the sole benefit of MARRON. Gateau wasnt doing it for himself. He was doing it to help another. This brought a very nice feeling. A new warmth came tiptoeing into Gateaus heart. It was a revelation.
Together, in this way, they fell asleep.
On to Part Two
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