.

***  

OXYGEN! Thom's eyes opened: gray light; drops of water suspended in the air. Still rain he'd never seen, rain caught in slow motion. Inhaling the icy-cold mist, he shifted his eyes. Gray fog around. Gray stone beneath. And nothing. His numb body gradually became aware of itself: cold and soaked, thin shirt clinging to the skin, a bruise on the shoulder, signals of throbbing pain from the left temple, and - the only pleasant sensation that lingered but didn't make any sense at all, he thought, - the definite aftershock of lovemaking beneath.

As he was focusing his eyes on the myriads of raindrops, muffled, scattered sound of footsteps came through the fog. Two people, registered Thom's mind automatically - approaching. Get the hell out of here, - that's what the instinct of survival whispered frantically to Thom's barely conscious mind. Useless; he forgot how to, he couldn't move. The body was sensing the coldness of air, the uneven pavement under his back, and dull pain. Instinct recoiled and told the body to play dead; Thom's eyes shut, breath became shallow, and he froze.

Footsteps came nearer, and as he was lifting his eyelids, a tall figure bent down to see, - 'it's him'. The stranger carefully, gently inspected Thom's body for damage - broken bones, wounds, found nothing, muttered 'he'd done fine, fine', and soon after two leather-gloved strong hands lifted him off the ground. A short way off the man stopped, a door squeaked open, letting out a waft of warm air.

Bed was soft. They wrapped him up. Someone, casting faint blue light about, lifted his head, put a cup to his lips, he drank - viscous, sweet; alcohol concealing a bitter, unknown scent. It flowed down his throat, it cradled his fear, it curled him up, it put him to a pitch dark sleep.

He woke in two hours and four minutes. Shaft of blue light fell on the pillow, quivering over folds of fabric. Soft-soft hallo trailed off to the high ceiling. Thom - he would later remember it and wonder why je'd done it - sniffed the air. Leaning to hit a note on the piano when this one was picking a song - smelled like this. The shirt collar against his face - a drunken hug - smelled like this.

Like this. Jonny, Jonny, Thom's vocal chords but paralyzed, voiceless, raspy, YOU!

And the unbelievable hit him. It hit him so, - he felt his whole being bend, curling up, reverting to thumb-sucking of a newborn's disbelief. Thom, a fragile fluffy subject, was always dodging real sorrows, never a far-off fairytale accident like this. (Maybe never happens at all. Maybe only in my sleep.) What kind of unearthly things have happened, there wasn't a clue. But in this trap, the lavishly decorated room with high ceiling and gold chandelier there was Jonny.

And it was Jonny, Thom's body and heart and skin told him so. It was Jonny, and the light was coming from his eyes, now mixing with tears. Jonny's lips quivered as he sank to the floor and put his head on the edge of the bed. Fuck, he sniffled and swallowed salty drops. He found both Thom's hands, and clutching them like a lost kid, mumbled through crying - we've lost you, we thought you aren't ever coming. Thom looked on, the side of his face faintly lit by Jonny's eyes; and a tear, then another, rolled down his cheek and disappeared, absorbed by softness of the pillow.

He shuddered, inhaling twice in a row, like little children do when their small sorrows come. He cried, for there was nothing left to do. No relief of awakening, no escape, no consolation or explanation, only Jonny left of the whole world that he knew - and Jonny was crying too. I've to go, can't be here, Jonny whispered. Letting go of Thom, he lovingly pulled the blanket up to his neck, smoothing it slowly - excuse to stay - with both shaking hands. Having this done, he only lingered for a second, long fingers against Thom's chest, as if trying to feel the heartbeat. Bandage over Jonny's palm, Thom saw - and saw Jonny notice it. This, mumbled Jonny, ok, unwrapping the strip of white cloth. Left hand, swallen scratches on the palm, and traces of dry blood. Thom looked until the short scratches morphed into STARS, making sense that... that doesn't make any sense at all.

It doesn't hurt, whispered Jonny. I'm sorry, Thom smiled faintly, playing an outlandish acceptance game. His mind refused any questions, promised to shutter like a cup otherwise.

Jonny did not leave. He wanted to whisper the story to Thom, a fairytale in which he was, for now, the main character, lost and found in the... Thom said no. Thom said, in the morning, I can't now; but (sniffle) don't leave. Please only don't leave.

...You must be at ease when loving comes. Self-help volumes say so, written by people who know many a thing.

But naught of the outside.

Lost; warm under one blanket, they've been as together as blind sibling kittens. Jonny wrapped his hands around Thom, around the warm resilience of skin, and blood that he thought he'd never see pulsing softly in the prominent vein on Thom's right temple. You're like a newborn, Jonny said. You died last night. I thought. I knew. Quite a welcome now...welcome back. And, letting out a warm breath into Thom's ear: I thought there's no you to tell this to...Fuck, Thom. I love you. Thom pressed his forehead into Jonny's chest, arms wrapped tighter around, all length of his bewildered body against Jonny's. I know, came, muffled, against thin t-shirt under which Jonny's heartbeat was close to being heard.

Thom remembered the darkness that ate him. Where. Hotel room. Soft carpet. When. After. After love. For the first time since coming around on the wet stone pavement, he now tried to trace himself to this room, in earnest, still not believing it was impossible.

It was.

You must be at ease. They weren't, but Thom's silent lips parted and Jonny's tongue went in between. They weren't, but their bodies moved against each other, accumulating the magic electricity, oozing heat, and obviously, shamelessly wanting more of each other. Jonny reached under the blanket and pulled up his shirt, to feel Thom's burning flower on his skin. 'Touch me', quietly asked Thom, and Jonny obediently reached down, took him gently and pressed him against his belly, starting to move his hand, slowly, stretching the sweetness of the beginning. Thom let a tiny moan out through his teeth: 'Move'. Jonny did; it magically felt just as sweet as if he'd been doing it to himself.

Or sweeter still.

His fingers hugged the growing stem, sliding up, down, up again. Muscles of Thom's thighs became tense, - 'Oh fuck Jonny', - and his breath shallow. FASTER, he said, commanding, voice low. Jonny threw his head back, opening his neck for Thom, and obeyed, moving now in quick strokes. Faster, repeated Thom and impatiently shifted his hips. Jonny knew how close Thom was now, moaning softly, back slightly arched, eyes half open. Jonny let go of him suddenly, explaining in just audible whisper: 'No, I want it... I want it to last... longer'. Thom stretched along Jonny's body, not touching, radiating warmth and wanting; then took Jonny in his both hands and slowly, slowly started to slide his palms around him. Look at me, demanded Thom; Jonny's eyes opened in slits, letting two tiny rays of blue light out through the dark lashes. Thom kept caressing his now hothouse wonder with both hands, going harder and faster, on the verge of hurting Jonny, unable to explain, immersed into the honey of pleasure again, wanting more air. 'Fucking alien, you', he murmured just before slipping his tongue into Jonny's half-opened mouth again. Jonny didn't answer.

They let go of each other, breathing one hot breath. Jonny then rolled Thom over and pulled him close, very close, kissing the fluffy back of his neck, trying to contain what was going insane down there, under the blanket. Thom's body shivered and breath was still fast; Jonny stirred a little, Thom felt like silk against his skin. Thom, he whispered in his ear then, Thom. I want you to be a girl.



To be continued?