John pulled his arms tighter about himself and shivered. Fool that he was, he had left his coat inside when he had left the party so abruptly. He had just finally reached the point where he couldn't stand his 'friends' anymore, and he had left before he'd made the mistake of telling them all to go to hell.

He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to ignore the sound of laughter and conversation that still came from inside. They knew he'd left, and they didn't care. Of course, that was typical. As long as no one actually drew them away from their beer and the gossip, they didn't care what anyone did. Unless, of course, that person was a part of the gossip.

Another shiver wracked his body, and he turned around, ready to go back inside. He could grab his coat and leave the tiny apartment that was packed full of people.

To his surprise, the door that led from the balcony to the inside of the apartment was locked. He looked at in shock, and then pounded on the frame. At that moment, the music blared out, threatening to burst his eardrums even from outside of the apartment. No one noticed him standing there, beating on the door to get in.

Several minutes passed, and still no one seemed to notice him locked outside. He was trembling from rage instead of the cold, and his emotions were demanding to be vented in the form of tears.

The apartment was on the fourteenth floor, and the balcony was one of many on the south side of the building. If it hadn't been the middle of March and still cold, there might have been someone else on one of the other balconies.

"Damn it!" He yelled, not caring if someone heard. At least if one of the neighbors heard him and came to investigate and found him standing on the balcony, they could get help. It was a better alternative than freezing. "You're mother was a crackwhore!" he yelled angrily at the people standing ignorantly in the apartment. He was close to tears.

"Now, really, I don't know how you'd know that, but that's just unkind," a voice calmly informed him. John turned sharply, his eyes widening to see a man standing on the balcony to his left. Dark eyes, shadowed by the lack of light over the man's balcony, glittered in amusement.

"I d-didn't m-mean-" he broke off, stuttering and shivering too much to form a coherent sentence.

"Yes, well. If you promise to keep the family secrets exactly that, I may consider allowing you to cross over to this balcony. The scenery doesn't change much, but at least you can get inside from here."

John walked to the side closest to the man and gazed down pointedly at the distance between the balconies, and the drop that it revealed. "I don't think that's safe," John muttered.

"On the contrary, I balcony-hop quite frequently, and I have yet to lose my footing. It's a wonderful occupation, and quite good for exercise, if one does it regularly." The man tilted his head and smiled innocently, and John stared at him for a moment before shaking his head and laughing.

"I-It's better than w-waiting," he managed to get out, his voice still betraying him. He lifted his leg and straddled the railing, and then turned carefully, lifting the other leg and turning about completely, legs dangling over the balcony.

"Ah, good," the man cooed softly, his voice lowering, becoming more reassuring. "Now stretch your leg and place one foot between two bars. When it's settled, lean forward, keeping your hands tight on the rail, and extending your free foot."

John stared at the stranger as he followed the other man's advice. Hanging from his arms, his extended foot nearly reached the other balcony.

"Good. Now let go with your left hand and reach out to me. I'll pull you the rest of the way across," the man held out his hand, waiting for John to comply with the rest of his instructions.

Somehow, whether by luck or grace of the goddess, John made it safely to the other balcony and found himself wrapped in strong arms to support him as he hung on the side of the railing.

"Come along, now. Almost there. You want to climb over this one, too, or shall I just heft you over?" the man asked, his mouth very close to John's ear.

"C-climbing is f-fine," John said around another shiver. This time, however, it wasn't the cold making his body shake as much as the feeling of warm, strong arms about him. The stranger pulled back, keeping his hands close in case John slipped, but allowing the other man to climb over of his own free will.

"Ah, that's better," the stranger said, smiling and stepping back as John cleared the railing and settled on his own feet. "Now, may I offer you a cup of coffee and a blanket to warm you?" he asked, waving a hand at the open sliding door that led into his apartment.

John smiled back at him, nodding in acceptance. He was giving his voice up as a lost cause until he warmed up and calmed down. The stranger led him in and waved him onto a plush sofa.

While his unexpected host made coffee, John looked around the apartment. It was different from the one next door. The walls and furniture were best described as frugal, with nothing but a couch, a chair, and a plaque that looked too old to read, and was too far away for John to make the effort anyway.

His gaze became unfocused as his thoughts turned to his friends. So distracted was he that it wasn't until a mug was waved in front of his face that he realized that the stranger was standing in front of him.

"I'm not one to pry, but would it be too outrageous of me to ask your name?" the stranger asked, smiling gently.

John returned the smile and accepted the cup, wrapping his cold hands around it. "John," he offered, trying to stop the feeling of self-consciousness that was sneaking up on him. There was something very warm growing within him, and he somehow doubted that it was the warmth from the apartment, or the coffee.

"It's my pleasure, John," the stranger said, holding out his hand. "My name is Templeton, welcome to my humble abode."

They shook hands, and John could feel heat rushing to his cheeks. He tried to withdraw his hand, but Templeton tightened his grip and dropped down so that he was kneeling in front of John.

"Would it be terribly presumptuous for me to ask that you call me 'Ten'?" He laughed softly at his own thoughts, and his smile widened into a grin. His voice changed, losing it's sophisticated smoothness. "And really, 'Templeton' makes me sound like such an ass, doesn't it?"

He lifted John's hand and pressed it against his lips, his eyes, a dark brown, never leaving John's face as he waited for the other man to respond.

He continued speaking when John simply stared at him. "It's kind of sudden, right? I've probably shocked you, but that's okay. I don't think I quite expected this myself, honestly. But I've learned that some things shouldn't be taken for granted, and since I managed to find you on a balcony in winter, I'd say someone's meddling in mortal affairs, and I'm not one to turn away destiny."

"Destiny?" John parroted, feeling stupid.

Ten's grin faded into a tender smile. "Destiny," he said firmly. "But if it's too quick for you, we can test it, I guess. I found you once, I can find you again, I'm sure. I generally don't like to leave things to chance, especially not something this important."

John managed to smile at him. "You're very odd, you know," he stated quietly. He turned his hand slightly and returned the grip Ten had on it.

"If I leave it up to destiny, though, who knows what I'll save you from next time. Not that I'd mind too much jumping in front of speeding cars or bullets, but I'd really rather not do such things, if they can be avoided. I'm not much fond of pain, either." That earned chuckle from John

Seeing that his visitor was doing nothing to get out of the situation, and that he actually seemed quite okay with it after his initial reservations, Ten leaned closer, pressing his abdomen against John's knees and bringing their faces very close together.

"If I asked you to, would you stay with me? There's an extra bed, and there's my bed, and you're welcome to have either. Just realize that I plan on being in the one you choose, either way. I'll make you breakfast…if you don't mind oatmeal and toast, that is. I don't cook much for just myself, and I don't know how much food is actually left."

"Ten," John said softly, his voice silencing the other man. He leaned forward, closing the distance between then with a gentle meeting of lips before drawing back an inch to stare into Ten's dark eyes. "Just kiss me," he ordered in the same soft voice.

Ten smiled at him, his eyes lighting up happily as he followed orders.


There may be more about these two later, but that's going to have to wait. They cut in line of all of my other stories, and their punishment now is to have to wait before they get anything else done. Dang characters. You'd think having them in -my- mind would give me some sort of control over the jerks.

Let me know what you think? My ego is too big to stay afloat without constant praise…^_^