Maggrig had always had someone around to love. When he was young it had been Finn, whom had taken him under his wing at the orphanage. They two of them were adopted by an old warrior, who taught them many skills - tracking, hunting, fighting archery. It prepared them for life in the mountains, and when old Attikas had died, they inherited a small amount of money and his cottage built over a cave mouth. As they grew, Finn and Maggrig had developed a relationship that moved into something deeper that friendship, and when Maggrig was 17, Finn 22, they indulged their life style and got married. For two years they were very happy thus, making bows and arrows to sell in the market place, hunting game for food and living away from the world in one of their own.

But then the red plague came. Finn caught it, and although Maggrig tried everything he possibly could, he was eventually reduced to sitting at Finn's bedside, holding his hand and pleading with him desperately not to leave him. But Finn couldn't fight it, and Finn passed to the other side leaving his young lover all alone. Burying Finn near the waterfall he loved to sit by, Maggrig took what little money they had left and headed to the city. There he discovered that the lessons from Attikas had not been in vain, the balance and poise he'd achieved through hours and hours of gruelling exercises had turned Maggrig into a wonderful dancer. And so he took a job in a club as a cage dancer. He didn't like, it, but the money was good and no-one tried to get to close with him.

In that club, The Dead Rose, he made 'friends' if you can use the term, with a boy that worked the bar called Lotus. Eventually they decided that getting a flat together and sharing the rent would be better than living the streets. Oddly, both trusted each other and looked out for each other, even if they did not see eye to eye on many things. Lotus never held any job for very long, always drifting off for days at a time. Maggrig never raised the issue, always Lotus found money for his rent, food and bills. Sometimes he enjoyed having the flat all to himself. Until one day, while he was walking down the street to the market, he came across a youth lying unconscious, un-marked, but horribly pale and looking near death. Maggrig took the kid home, nursed him back to health and allowed him to stay on.

The boy was named Devlin, and he suffered from horrible nightmares that made his nights worlds of terror. Near staving and horribly thin, Maggrig invited him to stay with them until he was better. Lotus was furious, growling and raving. Fights went on for weeks. Eventually, Devlin was well enough to look for work. He found a job in a bakers, and so started paying his fair share for the flat. Things settled down, the trio becoming quiet friendly with one another, all from the same back ground of poverty, each with their own story that they didn't tell, and a deep sorrow in their eyes.


Lotus had been away for two days, and Devlin was curled up on the sofa napping, the stereo on a low volume playing a soft tune. With a sigh Maggrig entered the sitting room, turning off the stereo and flumping down into the arm chair. He had to head out to work in a couple of hours, and wasn't looking forward to it. Devlin stirred, eyes opening and looking directly at his flatmate.
"Lotus not back yet?" He whispered, sitting up and tossing his auburn hair from his eyes. In response Maggrig shook his head. "We'll start to worry when he's not here with his share of the rent on Sunday." He answered, shutting his eyes and leaning back in the chair, feet resting on the long coffee table. A warm sigh fell past his lips, absorbing the silence of the room. In less than three hours he'd be in that damned cage, the music thumping horribly, eyes staring at him, hands reaching through to touch. Sometimes he taunted the customers, sometimes he didn't. Tonight he wouldn't. Maggrig was not in the mood, his loneliness was too great. Yea, sure he lived with two other guys, and they all stuck together and watched each other's back, but each knew that there was no love between them. Except. well, Maggrig adored both Lotus and Devlin, seeing them as brothers, the only family he'd had since Finn died.
Finn. Tall in stature, the opposite to Maggrig. Blond haired, fair eyes, a little burly in frame and twice as strong. How he'd longed to be crushed in those powerful arms again, held close to that chest which held his thunderous heart-beat.
Maggrig blinked away the tears that threatened to fall, standing up and heading through to the kitchen to make some dinner. Devlin followed, helping. Together they shared a light meal of pasta in a tomato and basil sauce, and before Maggrig left he made Devlin promise not to sleep until he got back. Devlin suffered the most horrible nightmares, and as a result shared a bed with Maggrig so he could be awoken from them before he screamed the place down, woke up neighbours and generally caused trouble.
And then the black haired dancer went to work.


Two months had arrived and gone. Lotus had not returned, and both Devlin and Maggrig had to take on extra work to pay Lotus' share of the rent. Maggrig was worried - what had happened to their surly friend? Was he dead in a gutter somewhere? Was he in jail for some fight? Had he left them without a goodbye? Maggrig refused to believe the latter, they had their differences sure, but Lotus wouldn't just leave.
So when Maggrig wasn't working or looking after Devlin, he was out, looking and asking after their painter friend. Place after place he went, spending a small fortune in buying Lotus' old fighting 'buddies' drinks so they'd talk. Most had heard nothing, but eventually he found a lead that one of Lotus' fighting friends, Richard, had a friend who'd claimed to have seen Lotus working in a bar down on the beach called "The Tavern of Zen."
Maggrig thanked him, and then headed off to work. Tomorrow he would attempt to find this "Tavern of Zen" and then hopefully, at least, talk to somewhere there and ascertain that Lotus was alive and well. Then, maybe he'd fine Lotus and manage to persuade him to come back. And if he had truly left, there would be no choice except for he and Devlin to find a new place to stay. After all, they were worked off their feet trying to pay rent and feed themselves at that place. Devlin was not a good worker, as he suffered a few ailments of the mind due to his nightmares.
The next day, roughly mid-morning, Maggrig found this Tavern of Zen, and climbed the stairs to the porch, before pushing open the door. The sight he met brought a smile to his lips. There was a youth, roughly Devlin's age by looking at him, singing and dancing as he cleaned up the tables. As the door slammed shut behind Maggrig, the youth looked up, sending a dazzling smile at the dancer. A nod, returning the smile tentivly, Maggrig padded forwards.
"What can I help you with sweetie?" The platinum blond asked, tossing the wash cloth idly over his shoulder, knocking a few strands of hair from his eyes. Again he produced that gorgeous smile, and wandered over to the bar and hopping up on it.
"Yea." Spoke Maggrig, realising he had to raise his voice a little, for the music was playing a little loudly. Seeing his discomfort, the youth jumped elegantly off the bar top, heading to the CD player and switching it of. "I'm looking for Lotus Gold." Continued Maggrig. "He's a friend of mine and I heard he was working here."
"Maggrig?" Came the deep, yet soft voice of Lotus. "Lotus!" Maggrig spun on his heel, looking at Lotus. There was something different about him, he was. calmer. More controlled. The icy blue eyes weren't so icy anymore. Something had thawed him at the edges. "Where the -hell- have you been?!" he demanded, wandering over to the bar and glaring at Lotus, who was now leaning lazily against the door mantle that lead off to some room behind the bar. Probably the kitchen. There was nothing but silence between them, and the youth from before smiled softly and hopped over the bar, slipping through the doorway and gently running slender fingers along Lotus' arm. "I'll leave you too alone." he said softly, that lilting sing song voice drawing Maggrig's involuntary attention. Lotus' eyes moved as well, a smile touching his lips as the youth left them.
Lotus smiled again, this time at Maggrig. "Drink?" "No!" Snapped the dancer in return. "Answer my question! I've had to take on double shifts and Devlin has had to take a second job so we can pay your share of the rent! How dare you leave for so long, not even telling us where the hell you've gone! What, were we supposed to just guess that you'd moved out?!"
While Maggrig had been ranting, Lotus had fixed Maggrig his favourite drink - sangria. He placed it gently in front of his flatmate, handing him a small spoon. "I'm sorry." The deep voice, normally cold and snapping, always on the verge of tipping into anger, was unusually soft and collected. "I. I just genuinely forgot. I didn't realise it had been so long. Let me make it up to the both of you. take a vacation from work. Stay here, I'm sure Jazz won't mind giving you rooms. And then I'll buy the flat for you." Maggrig was stunned, the spoon twisting through his fingers. "What?! Buy the flat? How the hell can you afford that?" Lotus smiled again, it was a mysterious and mischievous one. "This tavern. you wouldn't believe some of the tips you get. And I don't have to spend my money on food because Jazz refuses to let me.and. my portrait business is finding it's feet again."
"You're. fucking. kidding me." Maggrig had forgotten all about the drink, and had sat down on a stool, finding it difficult to shut his mouth. Lotus shook his head in response. "Nope, it's all true." "There is something else different about you too Lotus. I can't put my finger on it." Lotus just smiled softly, glancing over his shoulder to look at Jazz, who was singing to himself and dancing around in the tavern's kitchen, completely oblivious to his little audience for the moment. The blue eyes returned to look at Maggrig's dark ones.
"Neither can I."