A/N: This story .. is my baby. o.o I'm kind of nervous letting others read it; I've had it in my files for several months now without posting. The truth is, the only reason I'm posting now is because I'm stuck. This is supposed to be a one-shot—now it'll be a two-part (or possibly three) one-shot. ^^;; Ah, paradoxes.

            I had thought that by posting, any input I might get would help inspire me. Please be aware that this is slash and that it is rated R for a reason. I won't pay your therapy bills if you disregard this—but I will give you a consolatory cookie. ^___^

            Please, read on. ^^

            S c o t c h   a n d   C y a n i d e

            [ Part I  ]

            He would do anything for a price. In a few short years he had been everything from a thief to a con-artist and everything in-between, though what he had really earned his reputation for was something slightly more sinister than simply emptying the wallets or bank-accounts of negligent people. His particular field of expertise lay in assassinations; he was a hit-man of the highest degree, whose missions always involved the removal of those in high positions of power or wealth and, consequentially, security.

            He liked a challenge, after all.

            Unlike many who claimed to have the same occupation as he, he did not have an infamous pseudonym that struck fear into the hearts of people. This was not due to the lack of an impressive resume, nor of a shortage of clientele, but rather to the way he went about his business. He was unknown because he wished it to be that way, for there was no reason to let people know of his existence. Let others have the fun of staging elaborate, gruesome murders that horrified and frightened millions—he was more inclined to do the job efficiently and as unobtrusively as possible, thus decreasing the risk of being caught. Business was business, and there was no need to make it anything more than that.

            He was, however, quite well known to those who might require his assistance. There, too, he was not known by any particular name, and, while he had connections, each was distant and removed so that not even they knew who he truly was. He worked alone and vanished into oblivion upon the completion of a job—if his services were required so desperately, he trusted that his client to find a way to locate him. After all, they always did.

            Truth be told, he did not even really remember his real name any more. He had donned and cast off so many personas in his short lifetime that the line between veracity and mendacity had bled away and allowed the two to merge. He had no remarkable features; there was nothing especially memorable about him without a disguise, which was very advantageous for him. To some, life was a stage; to him, life was a masquerade.

            He sat, curled up in a worn and torn reclining chair, one of the few pieces of furniture in the veritable hole-in-the-wall that was his new apartment. He could easily afford something far nicer, but he preferred to use as little money as possible. What little money he kept on his person was what he would use in most cases, preferring not to have to go to the trouble of withdrawing an amount from one of his several bank-accounts.

            The apartment had a main room with a small window cut into one of the walls that had, he supposed, once been pale blue but were now a dull grey. There was a small, cot-like bed with sheets he made sure were fresh, a half-circle of a night table, and the chair he was currently sitting in. It was a rather comfortable chair, actually. The bathroom was more like a small walk-in closet, though it did have a rather nice shower and a functional sink and toilet. 

            The entire place was completely without decoration or any indication that someone even lived there—he never bothered to make any of the places he stayed in look otherwise, given that he rarely spent more than a few days or weeks in a single place. In the same regard, he spent very little time in his apartments in the first place, preferring to dine out and explore whatever new place his travels had carried him to.

            The landlady was a shrewish, miserly, half-deaf/blind old woman who had overcharged him for the apartment, but he hadn't protested over the payment—it was better to remain unmemorable, after all. He had hardly spoken a single word to the woman, or any of the other tenants for that matter, since he had arrived here three days prior. He had recently finished a job in this very city, and it was his custom to disappear directly afterwards, but his employer for the previous job had promised that a second assignment would be given to him several months after the first if he succeeded. So he had left and had only just returned after four months spent procuring several useful connections.

            The previous job had been tricky, but one that had called on his talent for staging accidents that one would have obscene difficulty proving were anything but a moment of misfortune for the victim … which, in a sense, they really were. He had no personal vendettas against those he killed, nor did he ever really feel any sympathy for them—it was not his duty to decide what made someone worthy of death, merely to follow orders. It was just business.

            The accident itself hadn't been hard to execute, but the set-up for it had taken a little effort. The target had been an elderly man, one Mr. Radford, the head CEO of a strictly family-managed, very wealthy corporation based in the city. The job had required placing himself in the position where he would be able to complete his task, meaning that he had had to get himself hired as one of the new chauffeurs. A little more manipulation of one of the longer-employed and therefore more trusted drivers had unofficially won him the passenger seat on a limousine drive out of the city. From there, it was merely a matter of stabbing the two other occupants of the car, Mr. Radford and the driver, and rigging the car to drive itself off a cliff where all evidence was destroyed in a glorious blaze. The records only listed that one driver had accompanied Mr. Radford, and everything had been chalked up to an accident.

            Just as it was not his business to worry about the victims, it was also not his business to worry about who his clientele might be. He felt that it was rather obvious in this case, however, that it was a member of the Radford family, who would have the most to gain from the man's untimely demise. His client was a man, he knew from the two brief, cautious phone calls they had engaged in, and had a deep voice with a light British accent. He rather thought that the man was an idiot, but it was also not his responsibility to critique his patrons.

            And now here he was again, back in the same small city though in an entirely different part of it and having waited for several days for his client to contact him with information. It had finally arrived, and he had immediately holed himself up in his apartment to examine what had been sent to him. He looked down at the thick, envelope-like package that he gripped with one pale hand before lifting his other hand and easily tearing open one end of it.

            Sitting cross-legged on the chair as he was, he felt safe in pouring the contents of the package out into his lap. A zip-lock baggy of photographs slid out first, followed shortly by a set of keys, a clear glass bottle, and a heavy, rubber-band-bound stack of papers. He reached forward for the bottle first, half-expecting it to be poison, but found himself mildly surprised when a tag attached to the top and a wafting, cautious sniff revealed it to be some sort of cologne. Interesting.

            Smiling sardonically as he set the small vial aside, he lifted up the stack of papers and carefully slipped the rubber-band off.  The first sheet was blank, as was the second and third, but the fourth was covered in small, typed text. His eyes flickered over it, absorbing the information, and his smile grew increasingly caustic as he read on.

            The assignment was connected with the previous one, though it appeared that this one was to look like a murder, and a gruesome one at that—or his employer was getting sloppy with his plotting. Either way, the plan only reinforced his idea that the man was a complete idiot. It hardly mattered as long it did not incriminate him, so he would be careful to execute the murder as best he could.

            The target was the youngest son of Mr. Radford, Kristian Radford, who had, apparently, been named the successor to his father's place as CEO in the old man's will and by common consensus of whatever council helped to run the company. The line of succession had skipped over the two older sons, from what he could tell, which told him immediately that one of them must be his patron. No lost love, there, then. He could see why they had not been chosen—while the planning of the father's murder had been decent (primarily because it had been so loosely formed), this plan was atrocious.

            Although, it did look like fun.

            The boy was 22 and an absolute genius when it came to managing his newly inherited business. He was, however, quite inept, to say the least, in most other manners, meaning that he was naïve, innocent, gullible, and lacking in even a drop of common sense or social grace. While it seemed that those characteristics might make him endearing, they also made him easy prey, and the plan before him played off those flaws.

            A small grin grew on his face as he continued to read through the information before him. The method of death would be poison, specifically cyanide, which he would have to obtain through one of his recently formed connections. Apparently, the boy had only recently grown into his adventurous spirit and had realized his own sexuality, for the paper informed him that, for the past few months, Kristian had been sneaking away from his body guards and chauffeurs to frequent various clubs and bars around the city. In "disguise" and with a fake ID, of course. Obviously, his newly discovered sexual preference was disapproved by his client, for the information didn't seem to be especially nice about referring to the higher-class gay clubs that Kristian could often be found in.

            He snorted lightly—if they were homophobic, why the hell were they dealing with him then? Probably because he was the best, though this job was far below his level of skill … if not for the payment, which was a quite impressive sum, he would have refused outright and claimed insult on his reputation.

            The plan was simple—or so it sounded. He was to meet Kristian at one of these clubs, find a way to have them meet alone, and then slip the cyanide into his drink and flee before the body was discovered. The tentative, careful phrasing of his employer amused him. In other words, he was to pick up Kristian at one of the bars, seduce him, and then kill him.

            The remaining sheets detailed the type of men Kristian seemed to be attracted to, and it made him wonder if his employers had been stalking the poor boy every time he went out. Ah, so he was one of those good boys who liked bad boys. He could do that; he fit the image very well.

            He ran a hand through his chocolate brown hair, mentally formulating a new guise to assume. To begin, he needed a name. Picking a name for himself had almost become a game for him, and he leaned over the arm of the chair to pick through his bag for a thick, white book. Across the cover it read, "20, 001 Names For Baby," which amused him greatly. To think that he, of all people, would be thinking of having a baby.

            With a languid air, the man flipped the book open half-way through, closed his eyes, and then selected a random page from the second half of the paperback. A slim finger stabbed forward onto the page and he allowed his eyelids to slip open. Romeo, the name read in bolded text. Um … no, that was a bit too conspicuous.

            Rolling his eyes a little before he closed them once more, the man flipped closer to the beginning of the back half of the book and yet again pointed to a random spot on the page.


            Hm, Durante. Yes, that would do nicely for the image he was trying to create. With a small smile, he closed the book and tucked it away, absently fingering the plastic baggy of photos before opening it. He would need to dye his hair, buy several new outfits, and then get a fake ID made for him through one of his connections.

            Durante smiled lightly as he thumbed through the photographs, his grey eyes drinking in the image of a thin, boyish-looking man with light skin, a cute cut of strawberry blonde hair, and a wide, infectious smile.

            His fingers traced an outline around the angelic looking face in a picture of Kristian sitting at a bar next to another man with his cheeks tainted an adorable reddish tone. Durante grinned. Yes, this would be an enjoyable assignment.

            Durante stepped out of the sleek silver car—a gift from his employer that he would sell as soon as his mission was over—and out onto the black pavement. The cool, crisp night air of autumn danced lightly around him, teasing his newly styled and dyed hair. In just a few days he had transformed into a completely different person and had begun to frequent the list of bars and clubs that he had been given over the past week in hopes of finally meeting his prey in one of them. It was almost like a game of hide-and-seek to him … it was only a matter of time before he won, he knew.

            His transformation had been drastic, though certainly flattering to his particular looks. His hair now fell in spiked, pure-black locks to his ears, which had several silver hoops in the cartilage and a cuff on the lower part—they were clamps, however, for he refused to mark himself in any way that would make him easily identifiable. He wore ice-blue contacts that gave his eyes a piercing quality, and he had accented them with fine, black eyeliner. Tonight his outfit consisted of black leather pants with a series of belts wrapped around his trim waist, a tight red t-shirt, a spiked collar, and an enveloping, black trench coat. His footsteps were punctuated by the sharp, precise strikes of his boots on the blacktop; his gate was languid with a slight swagger, and he reached the sidewalk shortly.

            The double-doors, outlined by tubes of different-colored neon lights, stood before him—as well as a heavy set man wearing a wife-beater, a myriad of piercings, and one hell of a frightening scowl.

            Durante smiled, fingers slipping into a pocket inside his coat to withdraw his wallet—well, one of them. He drew out his newly made ID with a haughty air, extending it to the bouncer and making sure to flash the thick stack of bills he had stuck into one of the pockets of his wallet. In most cases, it was not wise to flash money around in a city, given that it would often result in being mugged … but Durante rather thought that if someone tried to mug him, he would burst out laughing at their stupidity.

            The ID was of extremely high quality for a counterfeit, and his contact had given him little trouble about getting it for him. Durante kept a sort of honor rating on each of his contacts that was based on their performance during earlier missions; his ID maker had an unusually high score while his poison-broker, who had yet to send him the cyanide he had ordered, had rather low integrity. He was, however, the only person he could obtain what he needed from at the time being, so he had decided to take a chance with him once again. The poison should be arriving within a few days, which was just enough time to set things up with Kristian—assuming he could find the young man relatively soon.

            Shortly after going through all of the useful information he had been sent by his employer and committing it all to memory, Durante had gotten rid of it in the most efficient fashion—with fire. He had worn the cologne that had been included in the package, having surmised that it was his victim's favorite scent or something similar. It was odd—sort of an almondy, spicy scent that was rather pleasant despite the strange combination.

            The bouncer looked down at him with hard eyes, apparently not amused by his bright, overly cheerful smile, then gave his ID a quick glance. He frowned before stepping aside and allowing Durante access to one of the doors. With a slight nod, the black-dressed young man stepped up to the door, pulling it open and entering the antechamber to the club. Another two bouncers stood on either side of the second set of metal, double-doors, and he gave them an insolent little smirk as he strode right passed them, opened one of the doors, and entered the club proper.

            He hadn't yet been to this club during his game of hide-and-seek—it was called Club Mirage or something similar. It was a club that catered to the more wealthy of city-goers, meaning that it was frequented by the rebellious children of the wealthy more often than not. The moment he stepped inside his senses were assaulted from every angle. He noticed the blaring, heart-pumping music first, then the dimmed state of the lights which, over on the spacious dance floor, was interrupted by various strobe lights or projected colors and patterns that illuminated the moving, blurring mass of dancing bodies. The place smelled like everything all at once—perfume, cigarettes, alcohol, sweat, and people.

            His eyes adjusted to the minor change in lighting quickly, and his analytical abilities took over, scanning the throng of bodies on the dance floor, then drifting over to the figures seated on couches near the back of the club. When he did not see what he was looking for there, he turned to the long, polished wooden bar that stretched along one wall and the padded stools that were lined up along it. A number of people were seated on these stools, in pairs, trios, or all alone, and he examined each one carefully before moving to the next.

            Just when he was about to resign himself to another night of sitting at the bar in hopes of his allusive prey choosing this particular club to spend the night in, his eyes fell upon a figure with a head of strawberry-blonde hair, whose face was hidden from him as the person slumped over onto the bar. He raised an eyebrow.

            Durante threaded his way through the crowd, his eyes trained on that head of almost reddish hair. People didn't part before him, though he didn't expect them to, but many did step aside once he made clear the fact that he was walking a certain path and any who happened to stand in that path would be shoved aside. He approached the slumped figure from behind quietly, however unnecessary the precaution was in the loud club, and then reached out to shake the person's shoulder gently. The figure sat straight up, albeit sluggishly, and turned to face Durante with a groggy, surprised expression.

            Durante blinked, eying the female with short-cut hair and somewhat smeared makeup that was a result of sleeping on the bar top. She stared at him, eyes wide and questioning, before he finally said in an emotionless tone, just loud enough to hear over the music, "Your friends said that they are waiting outside for you."

            "Oh!" she replied, her expression immediately relaxing as she moved to slip off the stool. Her movements were a bit wobbly, but she stepped past him without falling and turned over her shoulder to say in an overly happy, somewhat slurred tone, "Thank yooou!"

            The man frowned as he turned away from the female, stepping closer to the bar and seating himself down on the recently vacated stool with a flourish of his trench coat. For a minute there, he had actually thought that he had found his prey. It was disappointing, really, because now he would have to start looking all over again.

            Staring down into the half-empty drink on the polished surface before him, his senses immediately came alert when a person approached tentatively, slipping onto the barstool two away from his own, and leaned forward onto the bar with a quiet sigh. Durante, his head still bowed, glanced out from underneath his dark lashes far to his left, and he couldn't help the slight smirk that tilted his lips to one side from forming.

            Just a few feet away, leaning on the bar top with his elbows propping him up and his chin set in his palm sat a young man with a messy cut of telltale strawberry-blonde hair. He was medium in height and thin and lanky in figure, and he wore what he probably thought was clubbing attire—baggy, hip-hugging pants and a loose, button-up shirt. His face was easily recognizable from the picture, and he practically radiated innocence with the small pout his soft pink lips formed. He looked like the type that got carded every time he tried to buy alcohol and sometimes for cigarettes.

            Of course, the most amusing aspect about him was his attempt at a "disguise": heavy, dark sunglasses perched awkwardly on the bridge of his nose. Not only were they far too large for his face, but they were increasingly ridiculous since it was the middle of autumn, at nighttime, and they were currently in a darkened club. Silly boy.

            Durante glanced away, bringing a hand up to thoughtfully run the tips of his fingers along his jaw line. After a pause for contemplation, he finally decided to go with the most obvious approach, lifting his form from the stool and sliding over to the seat next to his victim.

            The young man stiffened as he approached, sitting up straighter while the slight movement of his chest betrayed his quickened breaths. Durante eyed him for a time as a fox would a rabbit, the blonde sitting perfectly still and facing forward under the dark man's scrutiny, before his lips curled up at the corner and he reached forward with a pale hand and, in a swift movement, plucked the ridiculous, shielding sunglasses off the young man's face. The blonde recoiled in surprise, eyes wide as the sunglasses were dropped onto the bar top in front of him. With a look of questioning, apprehensive wonder, he looked up at Durante.

            The man grinned and justified his actions with a low purr, leaning in close enough to be heard over the noise of the club, "I like to see people's eyes when I stare blatantly at them."

            "Oh," the blonde man all but squeaked, his gaze lowering instantly as he mumbled in a quiet, soft voice, "Sorry …"

            Durante raised an eyebrow, watching as the young man fiddled nervously with the pair of sunglasses before him.

            "Can I buy you a drink?" the black-haired man inquired in a casual tone, his gaze briefly flickering with distaste over to the glass the blonde woman had left behind.   Whatever it was, it looked rather … green.

            The younger man glanced up at him with his brows drawn together cutely, and Durante couldn't help but think that his eyes really completed his image. They were a deep brown, framed by light lashes, and had what the older man could only term an "innocent doe-look" to them.

            "Um, sure," the blonde replied finally in a shy tone, a hesitant smile growing on his lips. With a light nod, Durante raised a hand to lazily signal over the nearest employee lurking behind the bar.

            "Just a minute, hon!" a petite woman with brown hair pinned up at the back of her head called over to him just second before she all but all but slammed a glass of nearly clear liquid down in front of a semi-drunk-looking patron. With a wide grin, the woman glided her way towards them, all exuberance and smiles. She wore slacks and a black and white tank top with a suit pattern on it; a black bowtie was tied around her neck, and a little nametag secured to the left strap of her top proclaimed "Holly." Interesting uniform.

            Durante eyed her as she stood in front of them, her hands on her hips, and she asked happily, "What can I get ya?"

            His prey hesitated, obviously unsure if he should order first, until the older man nodded pointedly at him. "I'll have, um," the blonde man began quietly, causing the tenderess to lean forward in an effort to hear him. The young man immediately turned bright red at the healthy amount of cleavage displayed inches from his face. "A-a strawberry daiquiri, p-please."

            Durante watched him with eyes hooded in amusement. Somehow, the drink seemed fitting for the blushing youth.

            "Sure thing, cutie," the bar tenderess winked, straightening up and turning to the darker man. "Same for you?"

            He met her gaze without as much as a blink, his lips slightly crooked to one side. "I'll pass, thank you," he replied in a voice laced with dry humor. The woman nodded lightly and turned away from them to prepare the ordered drink.

            His target frowned slightly at him, "You're not getting anything?"

            "Later, maybe," Durante waved a hand lightly.

            The brown-eyed youth nodded, attempting to avoid the other man's piercing ice-blue eyes, which only made Durante all the more determined to catch and hold his gaze. It was very much a game of cat-and-mouse, and Durante found himself rather enjoying it, seated languidly on the barstool and causing the young CEO to blush madly.

            Their staring contest was interrupted when a tall, ornamentally shaped glass plunked down in front of the blonde man with a loud clink, causing him to start and nearly fall off his seat.

            "Here ya go," the female tender proclaimed cheerfully, gesturing towards the pink-filled glass. Durante slid a few bills across the bar for her to take while his companion offered soft thanks and stared down into his drink; the woman smiled brightly, accepting the payment and flitting off to another customer.

            Durante returned to staring at the blonde, noting the self-conscious way that he reached forward to grasp the clear straw and bring it to his lips. The drink was bright pink and looked to be just the right consistency; for decoration, a plump, ripened strawberry was stuck onto the rim of the glass. He smiled slyly. The youth's pale-pink lips wrapped around the straw hesitantly and the pink mixture began to sluggishly fill up the tall, clear straw; the man's cheeks caved in slightly as he made an effort to drink his daiquiri quickly, no doubt aware of the eyes on him

            He watched with no small amount of amused surprise as his companion drained a good portion of the glass in a single go, presumably breathing through his nose. When he looked at up at Durante, his eyes were almost defiant, as if daring him to comment, though the light blush on his cheeks ruined his attempt at a tough image. Smirking, Durante reached over, leaning close enough for their bodies to nearly touch, and neatly plucked the stem-less strawberry off the edge of the glass. He held it lightly between his thumb and forefinger for a moment, considering it, before he looked up at the younger man with a positively wicked expression.

            The strawberry blonde-haired youth's eyed widened as the man pressed the cool flesh of the strawberry against his lips, nudging ever so slightly in encouragement. Durante watched, pleased, as the boy shivered and blushed, but hesitantly parted his lips to allow entrance to the sweet fruit. Slowly, he set upon the soft flesh with white teeth, savoring the explosion of sugary taste, his tongue moving to lick at the fruit before he set about devouring it once more. In no time at all, the strawberry was gone and the blonde boy swallowed the remains, his eyes opening dreamily, as though he didn't remember closing them.

            Durante's gaze locked on his immediately as he withdrew his damp, juice soaked fingers, bringing them slowly to his own lips and lapping at the tips to taste the remnants of flavor that lingered on them. His prey watched, entranced, with slightly parted, strawberry-stained lips and wide, doe eyes.

            "So," he started after a final lick, still leaning close to the blonde in an attempt to converse properly without having to shout over the music, "do you have a name?"

            Of course, he knew that he had to be Kristian, but he wasn't supposed to know his name yet.

            The man stared at him a moment longer before he suddenly jerked into motion once more, obviously embarrassed as he tried to look anywhere but at his companion. "A n-name? I, uh, K-er, that is … i-it's Jacob."

            Durante raised a fine eyebrow at the man's stuttering, recognizing the name as the one that his information told him Kristian had been using with his fake ID. "You're a terrible liar," he said flatly, and his victim's face immediately flushed.


            "Besides, you don't look like a Jacob at all," he continued, smirking lightly. "More like a … Kevin? No, no. Tailor? Richard—no, definitely not. How about Keith? Or—"

            The young man cut him off with a trembling motion of one hand and a light murmur. Durante stopped his dialogue, leaning in closer so that their faces were but a few inches apart, "I'm sorry, mumble that a little louder?"

            Again, his brown eyes shot up to meet blue, daring in their intensity despite the youth's obvious discomfort, "Kristian. My name is Kristian."

            "Ah, Kristian," the black-haired man repeated as if he were testing the sound of it, "Yes, that name suits you."

            "And what about you?"


            "Yes, what's your name?" Kristian insisted, making an attempt at covertly putting more distance between himself and his companion.

            "I'm Durante," the blue-eyed man answered shortly, a long finger coming up to toy idly with one of the many earrings he wore.

            The blonde's eyes widened with something akin to curiosity and childish excitement, "Durante? Like Dante Alighie—"

            "No, Durante like Durante. Durante Celano," he interrupted, rolling his eyes as if he were often pestered with that question. In truth, it hardly mattered to him at all.

            "Oh," Kristian mumbled, sounding disappointed and no small part embarrassed over his snuffed outburst, "Sorry, I just, uh, like the name …."

            Durante paused, his eyes drifting off to one side to observe the dancing floor, before he rested the back of his hand under his chin and said in a falsely grudging tone, "Well … I suppose I'll allow you to call me it … if you do me a, mm, favor."

            "W-what favor?" his prey asked suspiciously, though his voice betrayed his nervousness.

            His shoes made a light clunk sound on the hard floor as Durante stood, his trench coat falling in a curtain of black to encircle him once more. With a smirk, he held out one hand, palm out, and glanced over his shoulder at Kristian, "Dance with me."

            Kristian's eyes lit up and his face broke out into an eager if somewhat timid smile as he slipped his slightly smaller hand into Durante's, "Deal."

            Twisting, pulsing, writhing bodies swept about him like a single entity as they moved to the rhythm of the nearly deafening music. The dance floor was utter chaos, a heady mixture of movement, flickering lights, and cadenced noise, and it had seemed as though the two would be pulled apart the moment they stepped onto it. Instead, the throng had parted as if to welcome them, and then had closed around them after their entry, pressing the two young men closely together.

            The pandemonium surrounding him seemed to fade away for Durante as his eyes locked upon the figure of his prey. The blonde was being jostled on either side, and he was still looking just as self-conscious as he had when Durante had led him through the club by his hand. He moved with a sort of subdued rhythm, as if afraid that if he let loose, the dreamlike situation he found himself in would fall apart and leave him back in his usual mundane life.

            On the way to the floor, they had paused to hang up his trench coat and, with a bit of coaxing, he had persuaded Kristian to detach himself from his ridiculous sunglasses. Perhaps his lack of a "disguise" was affecting what little confidence he had maintained up until that point. Durante himself found no issues in moving as every other person in the crowd was, his movements holding a sort of dangerous grace to them, very much akin to those of a panther.

            Kristian seemed to be making a valiant attempt at putting as much space between himself and the black-haired man as possible, which consequentially resulted in him increasingly bumping into other dancers and therefore further nervous embarrassment.

            Well, that just wouldn't do.

            With a devilish smirk on his lips, Durante reached out just as Kristian was yet again elbowed in the back. The young man stumbled forward just in time for the pale hand to gain purchase on his upper arm—in the next instant, he was spun roughly, and the startled gasp that escaped his lips when his back molded against Durante's front was lost in the pulsing melody surrounding them.

            "Loosen up," came a whisper of hot breath, laced with amusement, at Kristian's ear as his captor wound one arm around his midsection and allowed his free hand to rest on the blonde's hip.

            Contrary to his teasing suggestion, the smaller man grew even more rigid in his arms, and, though he was facing away from Durante, he knew his prey's face was aglow with that adorable pinkish blush of his. The crowd of dancers almost immediately filled in the gap that had formed by Kristian's new close proximity to the black-haired man, as if purposefully cutting off any route of escape for the blonde. Durante grinned, his fingers curling about the slight protrusion of the man's hip as he began to, slowly at first, move them together to the beat of the music.

            While their lower halves were a short distance apart to allow for more movement, their upper halves were practically plastered against one another—Durante could feel the muscles of the blonde's back tense through the material of his loose shirt and his own tight red t-shirt. It was as if the smaller man had been made to fit against him, what with the way his head was at the perfect level to lean back against the older man's shoulder.

            With the black-haired man holding him so tightly, Kristian had no choice but to allow himself to sway quicker and quicker, his movements no longer under his own control; to Durante, it was almost like maneuvering a marionette, positioning its limbs to show its true inner grace to the world.

            And Durante was going to have so much fun pulling his strings.

            His eyes sliding to focus on the flushed face of his prey as he craned his neck forward, the man allowed his hand around the young blonde's waist to wander. When his fingers, nails neatly trimmed with a black circle painted on each, slyly crept beneath the folds of Kristian's shirt and brushed teasingly at his taut stomach, the blonde's eyelids fluttered in surprise and every muscle in his entire body seemed to tense simultaneously. Grinning, he observed the other's ever deepening blush as he traced an invisible pattern across his stomach, pausing to circle around the dip of his navel before drawing a line straight down … at which point his fingers encountered the top of the boy's baggy pants.

            As if in a desperate attempt to halt the exploration, Kristian suddenly jerked up straight and said something in a half strangled tone too quiet for Durante to decode. Bending his head down a little, he pressed his cheek up against the young man's and made an inquiring sound in the back of his throat. Kristian took a shaky breath, his eyes cast downward so that the lids were nearly closed, and managed, "D-do you have to be so close?"

            At that, Durante allowed his lips to tip upward in an almost-smile. "Ah, but I said to dance with me. Before you were dancing alone."

            "But I .. wh-why me?" the boyish man all but stuttered, and Durante reveled in his adorably flustered state.

            Chuckling lightly, the black-haired man drew his hand away in an abrupt motion, scratching his nails lightly along the pale skin beneath the shirt in the process. In reaction, Kristian let out a surprised half-squeak, half-mewl, seeming as though he couldn't decide whether to pull away or draw closer.

            In the end, it was not his decision at all, for the hunter suddenly pushed him forward—and, just as suddenly, spun him about so they were face-to-face and pulled him close once more, bringing their hips to collide briefly. Kristian gasped and moved to draw away, but those same strong arms came to restrain him by circling around his waist.

            Before Kristian could gather his wits, the pale man dipped his head down once more, his lips hovering above the other's slightly parted ones. In a tone so hushed that it was difficult to hear even with their close proximity, Durante spoke in warm puffs of air, "Because you're perfect."

            Brown, doe-esque eyes widened in surprise and the blonde made as if to protest when that action too was taken away from him, lips descending to brush gently against his own. Instead of him stiffening, Durante felt the boy relax in his arms. Pleased, he began to move his lips slowly against the soft pink ones beneath him, aware that, at any moment, the young man could spook and run away. Slowly and gently, he let the caress flow, until at last Kristian made a soft sound in the back of his throat and lifted a hand to press against the scarlet material that covered Durante's chest—instead of pushing him away, however, the hand bunched the fabric tightly and pulled the tall man closer.

            Obligingly, the Durante allowed their bodies to meld to one another once more, both just as oblivious to the masses around them as the throng was to them. To his amusement, it was Kristian who first moved to deepen the kiss, shyly flicking out his tongue in silent invitation. Without hesitation, Durante accepted, parting the rosy lips and tasting the boy before their tongues took up the same languidly passionate dance as their bodies, despite the slightly feverish pace of the music.

            Kristian tasted like strawberries, which was no surprise considering his choice of drinks, but Durante had never found the taste so alluring before. Sweet and heady, he lost himself in the kiss that was slowly growing more intense, and he hardly noticed when small hands clasped themselves at the nape of his neck, lanky arms draped over his shoulders.

            Abruptly, he pulled away with a small burst of self-control that broke through the haze around his mind. The boy in his arms whined quietly, but he silenced himself instantly when Durante's lips pressed at the pulse point on his neck. He kissed at it lightly, flicking his tongue out to taste at the silky soft, pale skin.

            If Kristian's mouth tasted like strawberries, his skin tasted like cream. Addicted, he set to marking the young man through small nips and suckles, and, between applications of his lips, tongue, and teeth, he breathed out, "You would look … sexy in a … tight shirt … you know."
            The hand on his chest clenched convulsively, but the blonde made no response, only tipped his head back to allow better access to the elegant curve of his neck while his eyes slipped close and his mouth parted in a silent circular shape.

            Grinning, Durante pulled away a second time, allowing the marionette in his arms no time to react before he sealed their slightly swollen lips together once more. It was as the volume of the music decreased slightly with a new song that the black-haired man suddenly became aware of a shrill, beeping sound blaring in his right ear. Deciding that his current position was far more appealing than discovering the source of the annoying noise, he continued with his ministrations.

            Kristian must have noticed the beeping, however, for his eyes shot open abruptly and he made to draw away, but the older man wouldn't allow it. Between kisses, he breathed shakily, "D-Da—Dant—Dante!" and jerked away roughly with the last exclamation.

            His present task taken away, Durante allowed his eyed to open slowly, staring down at the blushing youth with a lidded ice blue gaze. "What?"

            "I-uh-I have to g-go," the blonde explained embarrassedly, withdrawing his arms that were draped around Durante and showing him the expensive watch on his left wrist from which the beeping was coming. In return, Durante arched a brow—it was only midnight.

            "It's late. I have to go," Kristian repeated, as if saying it again would convince himself of the fact, and he turned the alarm off. Without a word, the black-haired man allowed his prey to pull out of his hold, but as the youth turned to flee, he shot out a hand and gripped his upper arm lightly; Kristian looked up at him, startled, with an expression akin to fright.

            He was afraid of him? The thought displeased him … which was odd, since, by all rights, the boy should be afraid of him. He would soon be Kristian's own personal grim reaper, after all. … and yet, the blonde hadn't seemed frightened of him a moment ago. Perhaps he just needed time to sort everything out in his mind, considering the confusion in his look as well.

            Smiling teasingly, Durante traced his fingers over the blonde's upper arm and pulled him close enough for them to speak at a normal level and still be heard over the music. People seemed to flow around them, giving them only as much room as they took.

            "Don't I at least get a glass slipper to remember you by, Cinderella?" he purred mischievously, looking down at Kristian through feline-like slitted blue eyes. The young man stared up at him, stunned, before he jerked into shaky motion, tentatively drawing a dainty hand to his pocket and pulling out a folded square of black fabric. As he pressed the unused silk handkerchief into Durante's waiting palm, the man allowed his grip on Kristian's arm to fall away.

            His restraint gone, the blonde all but turned tail and fled, squeezing between moving bodies with his eyes downcast shyly and his cheeks glowing pink. One hand was raised to his neck to cover the reddish marks that had just been left there, and Durante watched him go with a sort of lazy amusement. Yes, this assignment was already proving to be entertaining.

            Unfolding the handkerchief with one hand, he idly raised it to his face and breathed in the sweet, Kristian-like smell of the silk. A smirk twisted Durante's lips as he recalled the image of the flushed blonde with his hair in slight disarray and his lips rosy from their kiss.

            He'd be back.


            A/N: To be continued, dum dum dummmm. .

            .. sorry.

            Hopefully, I'll pull out of whatever rut I'm in with this and finish the story up soon. ^^; Eh, I guess I don't really expect much of a response to this, although I have worked hard on it, but any feedback would be extremely appreciated.