Warnings: Sexual themes, but rated mostly for language. Certain characters have a rather persistently colorful vocabulary. Also, if slash offends you, hit the back button on the browser and find another story to spend your time on. These warnings will not be repeated through the story. This is a one-time only warning. Thank you and have a nice day!

Dis-disclaimer: I own everything and everyone except the ice cream shop in this chapter which is probably a Baskin' Robins.

Using The Buddy System
Overpriced Everything

Taniel sat in the ice cream shop impatiently. It looked obvious that he was waiting for someone, but that was entirely an intentional display. He drummed his fingers along the tabletop he'd claimed as his own and he kept his gaze in a constant rotation between the clock mounted on the far wall and the door he sat next to. It was all a clever ruse, of course. Taniel would never wait for someone. He much preferred making others wait for him. However, he didn't mind damaging the ragged shred of dignity that he held by pretending to be waiting for someone if it meant that he attracted less attention.

Today he'd dressed up like the boys he'd seen at rock concerts, complete down to the band t-shirt, combat books, ripped black jeans, and chartreuse hair. His hair had turned out decently vibrant for a one-day- only dye job he decided, running a hand through it thoughtfully. It was a great look, but attracted far more attention than he usually liked -- and not the flirty-good kind of attention, either. This was all negative attention. People saw him and immediately assumed he was up to no good.

Tomorrow he'd probably decide to be a preppie or a nerd or a jock and be allowed to sit in whatever wholesome ice cream shop he wanted without any apparent purpose, but if he tried that tonight in these clothes, he'd be accused of loitering and all the dear mothers would give him dirty, accusing looks and the cashier would stare at him, petrified, as if he was about to whip out a gun and rob them. So he pretended to be waiting for someone. Nobody could dislike someone who looked like he'd been stood up, right? They didn't need to know that he was only there to eavesdrop on peoples' conversations -- to peoplewatch, if you were more polite about it.

At the table directly under the clock, a toddler sobbed because her vivid blue ice cream had spilled down the front of her white dress. Her slightly older brother screamed because he'd gotten the wrong flavor. The mother, a young woman with too much gray mingling with her blonde hair, looked ready to cry herself. Taking pity on the trio, Taniel used his empathetic magics to send a wave of serenity towards them, and the noise from their corner of the ice cream shop was suddenly quieted. Taniel smiled inwardly, having done his good deed for the day.

At the table on his other side, a teenage couple shared a brownie sundae. Or, rather, a pretty brunette devoured the ice cream as the boy stared in a sort of morbid fascination at her ability to eat and carry on a mostly one-sided conversation at the same time. Taniel eyed the boy with interest. He had the dark hair streaked blonde that was fashionable these days and alluring smoky gray eyes that were probably colored contacts, but he was nonetheless pretty. He was definitely attractive, in a boring-normal- average way.

Taniel contemplated using the last of his daily allotment of magic to gain the boy's interest. He sent out a testing tendril of magic towards the boy, but it was easily repelled. The couple apparently had that annoying true love/soulmate/destiny-thing going on. What good was having magic that could influence people's emotions if you couldn't use them to break true love in order to score a cute bedmate? At the very least he should be allowed to use his magics on himself to cheer him up after being so cruelly denied.

He pursed his lips in what he imagined to be a very sexy pout. Stirring the ice cream he'd forgotten that he'd bought, he slowly became aware of the creeping chill of someone else's magics tweaking his own emotions. He felt the generic emotion of happiness, mingled with pleasure and fair sized amount of... horniness? Taniel couldn't resist rolling his eyes. There was only one person that could be. "Hello, Jamie," he greeted.

"Fancy meeting you in a place like this," James said. The omnipresent mocking tone edging his voice paired with his arrogant smirk managed to turn that simple statement into an insult.

He sat down across from Taniel and stole a bite of the taller boy's ice cream. "You let it melt!" he accused. He took another bite before shoving it away. "Ew, and it was strawberry, wasn't it? Honestly, Tani, you have zero taste."

"So says the sex machine wannabe in the horn-rimmed glasses," Taniel muttered, pushing James' magics away from himself in order to fall back into his previous state of pouting.

"I have three responses to that: One, what do you mean by 'wannabe'? I'm perfectly sexually satisfied, no thanks to you. Two, I pull off these glasses very well. It's a statement. A very sexy statement. Third, I was referring to your taste buds, idiot, not your vast knowledge of pop culture fashions."

Taniel applauded James' response sarcastically. "You really think that those glasses make you look sexy?" he asked doubtfully.

James smirked. "Absolutely. Give me money for a couple of phone calls and I'll have dozens of boys vouching for the sexiness of my glasses."

"That's all right. I'll take your word for it."

The boys lapsed into an annoyed silence combined with a staring contest. Taniel gave in first and broke the silence with a frustrated sigh. "I'm sure you didn't actively seek out my presence just to chill, considering you seem to dislike me almost as much as I dislike you, so what's up?"

James gave Taniel his best condescending look to hide his hurt at that statement and turned away to fix his brown hair in the window. "Have you even bothered to look at the calendar lately, my brilliant companion? It's almost time for us to go to that lovely gathering we go to every year at the same time: The Check-In."

"That's coming up?" Taniel blurted.

"Tomorrow evening, sweetheart," James answered, checking his blue nail polish for signs of chipping to cover his urge to laugh. He used his magics to fuel whatever scrap of embarrassment Taniel might have felt at forgetting something as important as The Check-In and turned Taniel's face a shade of red that clashed horribly with his hair.

"Asshole. You've been saving up your magic all day for this, haven't you?" Taniel snapped, attempting to scrape the bottom of his magics reserve to get rid of the embarrassment.

"And you've been splurging it all day for who knows what," James countered, his smirk growing. "Relying on your powers to get the pretty boys to notice you." He glanced over at the boy at the next table in a silent confirmation that he'd felt enough of Taniel's emotions to figure out what Taniel had been up to just before James had arrived. "You just need to realize, little Tani, that not even magic can get boys' attention. What you need is a bigger dick."

There are just some phrases that, when said in a crowded area, draw people's ears. "What you need is a bigger dick" is one such phrase.

Taniel countered by scraping his chair backwards across the pink and blue linoleum, effectively producing a deafening screech granted him the desired sudden pause in all surrounding conversations. "My dick isn't big enough for you? Then how come you can't manage to get the entire thing down your throat?" he demanded angrily, his green eyes holding a laughter that only James could hear. 'If I don't get to leave with my dignity intact, neither do you,' seemed to be his unspoken message.

James' too-arrogant smirk never faded because he always won these games. He leaned across the table, closing a distance between his lips and Taniel's to a fraction of an inch. "Let's just fuck already," he suggested, loud enough for the entire ice cream shop to hear, yet soft enough for them to think that they weren't supposed to hear it.

The woman with the tear prone children decided her kids could finish their ice cream far away from the two scandalous boys and she rushed them outside into the car, only pausing to snatch a large handful of napkins. The brunette from the next table looked at them interestedly as her boyfriend's face twisted into the picture of disgust. The employees gave up on any discretion they'd previously possessed and gawked openly at the boys as if they were the hottest new reality show. A previously unnoted old woman choked on her vanilla ice cream before hurriedly pulling out a cancer stick and lighting up -- fuck the no smoking signs.

Taniel determinedly ignored James' challengingly close face. "You want to do it here? I never took for the type to get off doing it in public. Is it really worth it to get kicked out of here?"

"Very worth it," James confirmed, purposefully removing all the remaining space between them by kissing Taniel firmly on the lips and successfully reactivating an extremely annoying bond that always showed up when the Taniel and James came in physical contact with each other.

Time for a tactile description. Take two relatively large magnets. You know, the horseshoe-shaped ones that come in all of the science kits that relatives who you've never met bought you for your eleventh birthday. Take those magnets and hold them about an inch apart. Feel the pull? It's a velvety feeling, like they're being drawn through thick water by some inexplicable, almost mystical need to be connected. Now pretend that you are one of those magnets. That same too-pulsing-magical-to-be-real feeling is pulling you, not just a piece of metal. That's what the bond felt like to Taniel, now that James had reactivated it. He hated it.

Electrons screaming with a need to be connected to the smirking boy across the table, Taniel used all his will power to keep himself from touching James, comforting himself by putting on his fiercest scowl. Rationally, Taniel knew that James was feeling the exact same pull that he felt. The fucking arrogant boy just never showed it. Taniel mentally assured himself that the magnetic need would wear off once he escaped from James for a few hours. James, however, didn't look as if he had any plans on letting that happen in the near future.

Taniel stood up, annoyed. "Let's go," he snapped.