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(AN: I know it's almost two years overdue, but I finally have the last chapter of this story done! In all truthfulness, three-fourths of this chapter has been sitting on my hard drive all this time. I just never got around to writing the last scene. Oops?)

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SOUL-SEARCHING: THE BATHROOM WALL GUIDE

-- by: lira-chan --

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CHAPTER FOUR: THE FINAL INTERVIEW

Monday morning found Kyle asleep in the company restroom for the third morning in a row - or rather, Kyle was asleep up until the point when his watch's alarm began sounding. He muttered something incoherently in his sleep, rolling over and fumbling with his free hand for the button on the watch that would turn off the alarm. A minute's worth of random button-pressing managed to only increase the volume of the alarm, leaving Kyle with no choice but to wake up. He sat up, grumbling, and shut off the alarm. After scrubbing his eyes blearily with the back of one hand, Kyle finally glanced at the face of his watch - a face that read six in the morning.

The night before, Kyle had decided for certain that he wouldn't be coming in to work the following morning. He'd set his alarm, however, in order to wake himself up before Jake's first morning class. He didn't want to call his boss from the office bathroom, but if he got through to Jake, he'd be able to have his best friend call in for him, and vouch for his unhealthful state. Distractedly, Kyle fished his cell phone out of his coat pocket.

Kyle hit Jake's number on the speed dial, holding the phone to his ear and waiting for Jake to pick up. The shiny little silver thing rang twice, and then Kyle could hear Jake's sleepy voice answering on the other end.

"Kyle?" Jake mumbled, his voice fogged by sleepiness. "D'you have any idea what time it is? And-- Kyle! Where have you been all weekend?"

Kyle merely laughed; at first Jake had sounded sleepy, but as soon as Jake realized that it was Kyle he was speaking to, Jake woke up in a jiffy. Jake was Kyle's closest friend, and Kyle knew the other young man wouldn't miss the opportunity to yell at Kyle for his thoughtlessness.

"Hold that thought," Kyle half-commanded, managing to sound sunny despite how tired he still was. "I have a favor to ask."

"A favor?" Jake asked flatly, sounding less than thrilled.

"Yes, Jake," Kyle sing-songed patiently, "a favor. And if you do this favor for me, I'll be sure to tell you all about the exciting weekend I've had as soon as I get home."

"Of course," Jake muttered. "I should have known you wouldn't call me up unless you wanted something. So what can I do for you?"

"Good boy, Jake. I'm actually in the restroom at the office - and before you run down here to yell at me, remember that you have a class in just a few hours. I wouldn't want you to miss that because of little old me. I won't be here too much longer, I don't think, but could you call my boss and tell him that I won't be coming in today? Tell him I'm sick; he knows who you are, and he'll believe you."

"Why don't you just walk upstairs and tell him yourself?" Jake asked in response, sarcastically.

"I'd love to, Jake, but I'm afraid he'd definitely force me to work if I did that. Now, you'll do this for me, won't you?"

"Of course. When have I ever failed you?"

"Never, dearest. Thanks a million. I'll be home in no time. Have fun at your lecture."

"Whatever you say. Bye, Kyle."

Without bothering to offer a return goodbye, Kyle took the cell phone from his ear and clicked it off. He wasn't at all serious about returning to their apartment in "no time," but just as Fridays were Jake and Kyle's day to spend together, Kyle knew that Mondays were Jake and Meghan's day to spend together. Neither one had classes on Tuesdays because of the way they'd planned their schedules. It was the one evening they always spent together. If Kyle chose to spend another night in the bathroom, he'd be able to do so without worrying about Jake coming to drag him home.

Kyle glanced down at his watch once more, seeing that the faintly glowing digital face only read six-oh-eight. When Kyle was actually working, he had to be in at seven, so if he was going to spend yet another day slacking off, he'd prefer to spend some of that time sleeping. His mind made up, Kyle crawled back into his sleeping bag, curling up slightly and waiting for sleep to re-claim him.

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Kyle had been intent on sleeping for at least a few hours more, however, sleep proved to be elusive. When almost an hour had passed and Kyle was still awake, he emerged from his sleeping bag a second time, taking a moment to dig both his Gameboy and his Chewy bars out of his overnight bag of essentials. He crammed the Chewy bar halfway into his mouth and flicked on his Gameboy's power, prepared to immerse himself in the kind of tactical battles he never could seem to win - not on the first try. Strategy games just weren't Kyle's forte.

Before Kyle had even finished giving his first turn's worth of commands in his game, he heard the familiar sound of the bathroom door opening. Usually he would have snapped right to attention, but he was a bit too intent on keeping his poor Pegasus knight alive and away from the type of foes who could kill her. He hardly even noticed as the new arrival glanced over at him, before walking up to Kyle's sleeping bag.

"Gameboy?" the man finally asked, making an attempt at peering over Kyle's shoulder in order to see the screen - all without bending down. "I guess I have a gamer in my midst. I'd ask if you were avoiding work, but it looks as if you're all camped out."

"Can't talk," was all Kyle muttered in response, still not looking up at his visitor. "Gotta keep Florina from being shot full of arrows. Ask me again later."

Were Kyle actually considering the effects of his words, he might have expected the man to be offended. However, all he heard in response to his truncated response was warm, amused laughter.

"Fire Emblem?" the man asked, finally managing to catch Kyle's attention. Of course, half the reason Kyle looked up might have been because he'd just gotten his Pegasus knight killed at last. Surreptitiously shutting off his Gameboy's power, he eyed the man leaning over him suspiciously.

"Why do you ask?" he countered, while still taking in the blonde. For the man hovering beside him was blonde, honey-blonde, with short, somewhat spiky hair. Kyle thought it was probably gelled, but he wasn't yet awake enough to bother jumping to his feet solely in order to attack some stranger's hair. He might have done so if he wasn't so tired, but such an action wasn't presently exciting enough to be worth the energy expended in executing the move.

"I've played it," Kyle's nameless blonde supplied smoothly, grinning a bit. "Or rather, I guess you'd say I finished it. After all, I design computer graphics for a living. Videogames are a wonderful way of passing the time when you're out of inspiration, and a Gameboy is both small and portable. It's perfect for sneaking into the office."

Kyle blinked. Whoever the man was, he apparently worked at the company, and he worked in the same department as Kyle. He was a bit surprised that he didn't remember seeing the man before.

"Who are you?" he asked suspiciously. Kyle was usually tactless at best, but the question had probably been one of the least smooth he'd voiced over the past few days. Not that Kyle really thought it mattered.

"Tyler. Although being offered your name in return would be more than appreciated."

"Kyle." Kyle shrugged, indicating that he didn't care. Despite the movement, however, he was a bit curious. As far as Kyle had gathered, Peter and Owen had also worked for the same company as Kyle. However, neither one had been in the exact same line of work as Kyle. He had to admit that he was just a bit intrigued by Tyler's offhand declaration of being in the graphic design field. "You work here? In graphic design? Really?"

Kyle heard himself, and only then realized how much like a little kid he sounded. Tyler didn't seem to mind, however; all he did was laugh. "Yeah, really. What's so surprising about that?"

"I work here, too. As a graphic design artist. And I don't think I've ever seen you before. Are you sure you work for this company?"

"I've worked here for two years," Tyler revealed. "I really don't think I'm mistaken about my line of work, or about my place of employment."

"Huh," was all Kyle had to say in response. He was hardly even thinking about "interviewing" Tyler - all of his questions up until that point had stemmed from curiosity alone, and his interest in his fellow graphic design artist hadn't yet run out. "So what are you doing down here, if you're supposed to be at work upstairs?"

"I could ask you the same question, but I think I won't. I'm actually taking my very first coffee break of the day, but I thought I'd go to the bathroom before funneling even more liquid into my system."

"Oh. Guess you might like to actually do that, huh?" Kyle smiled a bit crookedly; usually he didn't care so much about what other people wanted, but Tyler was a graphic design artist - one who played videogames! For someone like that, Kyle would allow a bit of leeway.

"Well, I do admit it might be nice." After saying so, Tyler turned away from Kyle's sleeping bag, striding over to the first of the stalls before cocking his head back at Kyle, then entering.

As he always did, Kyle drifted behind his newest source of company, leaning against the door of another stall as Tyler used the bathroom. The man emerged from the stall a mere minute later, and Kyle again drifted beside him as Tyler moved over to the sinks.

"What are you doing in here, anyway, if you work for the firm?" Tyler asked at last, while washing his hands.

"Soul searching," Kyle revealed cheekily, despite not having bothered with coming up with an answer to the question earlier. He knew everyone who'd spoken to him had probably been curious about the matter, but he'd seen no reason to provide an answer.

"I guess I'll accept that," Tyler said cheerfully, shutting off the water and turning away to dry his hands. Once again, Kyle followed. "I don't think a bathroom would be my first choice for a place to do some mental spring cleaning, but I won't argue with you."

"That's too bad," Kyle decided, still being a bit cheeky. "If you'd agreed with me, then that would have been at least the third thing we had in common."

"What do you mean?" Tyler asked, almost yelling so as to be heard over the rush of air and sound caused by the hand dryer.

"I mean that you already work for the same company as me, in the same department as me, and you not only like videogames, but you and I play the same ones. I guess it's just too much to ask, thinking you might agree with me about passing some quality time in a public bathroom…"

Tyler laughed, for a third time. "You have to be joking, right?"

"Well, maybe. But still - it is pretty damn amusing. I thought everyone at the firm had their head screwed on backwards, but you have to have done something right, if you're taking your coffee break in the bathroom and playing Fire Emblem when you should be working. For all I know, we might be the last sane humans working for the company."

Kyle nodded decisively, and Tyler just shook his head, smiling as if he didn't know whether to laugh at the joke or ask Kyle if he was being serious. "You're a strange one, I'll give you that much. Are you 'soul searching' all day, or should I wait and get you to walk back upstairs with me?"

"Well… Wait," Kyle requested, speaking slowly. He paused a moment at first, knowing that he had no intention of going in to work that day, but he also had no intention of allowing Tyler to run off just yet. If Tyler really did work for the same company as Kyle, then Kyle probably would be seeing Tyler again - at least, the probability of seeing Tyler was greater than the probability of seeing Peter, Aubrey, or Owen - probably greater than all three probabilities combined. Regardless, he didn't really want Tyler to leave.

"I'm actually kind of burning sick leave as we speak, but if you're already on a 'coffee break,' then don't bother getting back to work just yet, okay? Stick around for a bit and keep me company."

"Why not?" Tyler asked, with a laugh. "It's not like I don't have the rest of the day to spend designing graphics. How am I supposed to keep you company, then, or did you already have something planned?"

Tyler merely continued to smile, as if he were simply amused and didn't care one way or the other. In actuality, Kyle had been in possession of a plan. He'd intended to "properly" interview Tyler, since he would be giving up his search soon enough anyway… But upon hearing Tyler ask whether or not Kyle had something in store… Kyle didn't want to say something as simple as "Let's play a game," as he had done with Aubrey. He wanted to provide a more… Complicated… Answer.

"Oh, I don't know," Kyle said offhandishly. So maybe it wasn't the complex explanation he'd been hoping to give - Kyle liked doing things spur-of-the-moment, but Tyler was stumping him. He wasn't keeping up his mysterious and all-knowing façade. "Step into my parlor--" He gestured grandly, inviting Tyler to take up a position on the sleeping bag, or at least to look. "--and join me in that 'mental spring cleaning' you mentioned."

"Whatever," Tyler said, good-natured-ly, before bending down, shoving Kyle's bag over, and seating himself on the sleeping bag. "Go ahead - guide me to enlightenment and the secrets of the soul."

Tyler sounded utterly serious - Kyle was already in a fairly good mood, and couldn't convince himself to become irritated with the other young man. So much for "complicated." Kyle hadn't promised anyone any sort of enlightenment, so the best Tyler could hope for was a painless interview session.

"How old are you?" Kyle asked, plainly and without decorum.

"Twenty-four," Tyler replied, without any sort of objection. He was taking all of Kyle's theatrics perfectly in stride. To Kyle, it was just the slightest bit off-putting.

"…And your name is Tyler, you work for the company as a graphic design artist, and you play videogames in your spare time. This isn't a palm reading, so it's not like knowing these things does either of us any good - and I'm not even going to touch any of that astrological mumbo-jumbo. I mean, really."

"So how are you going to lead me down the road to enlightenment?" Tyler asked, teasing a bit.

Kyle scowled briefly, and then moved on to assume a more lofty expression. "I never said anything about enlightenment. I said 'mental spring cleaning.' If you like, I can hypnotize you, and we'll see if we can get you to forget all this useless information about you that's cluttering up your skull."

"Can you really?" Tyler asked, sounding at once both mildly amused and almost interested. "…Not that I want to forget who I am, of course."

"It wouldn't do either of us any good." Kyle shrugged. "So… Want to help me beat a chapter in Fire Emblem without getting my Pegasus knight killed? It'll be better than nirvana, promise."

"Why not," Tyler agreed, not even pausing to think over the question.

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One chapter turned to two, and two turned to ten, and before Kyle knew it, roughly an hour had passed. Finally, he and Tyler decided to give Fire Emblem a rest. Kyle saved the game before turning off his Gameboy and stowing it back with the rest of his overnight gear.

"That was fun," he said simply, conversationally, and with a small, quirky smile tugging at the corners of his lips.

"It actually was," Tyler agreed, in that same easy tone Kyle was employing.

"The boss is going to wonder where you got off to," Kyle pointed out, while pushing up his sleeve and taking a peek at his watch. It really was an awful long time, for a coffee break.

"Let him wonder," Tyler said, not seeming to care overmuch.

"You going to join me in burning sick leave?" Kyle half-asked, half-suggested. "It'll be fun! Hasn't it been fun?"

Tyler shook his head, an amused smile on his lips. "I guess I will. Why not?"

"Let me see your hands," Kyle demanded, the command coming out of the blue. Tyler quirked a brow but did acquiesce. With all the Gameboy-playing, Kyle had seen a lot of Tyler's hands. They were nice hands. He had decided that he needed a proper look. They weren't as delicate as Aubrey's hands, nor were they as broad as Peter's. Rather, they were a sort of happy medium. Kyle liked that.

"Are you going to read my palm after all?" Tyler asked, obviously teasing.

"Nah," Kyle said. He released Tyler's hands, albeit slowly -- almost reluctantly.

For a few moments, they both sat quietly, not saying or doing anything. Kyle didn't know about Tyler, but just sitting around with someone was not something he usually did. He didn't have the attention span for silences, companionable or otherwise.

"You're going to leave now, aren't you?" he asked softly.

"Unless you have a reason for me to stay, yeah, why not? Let's blow this popsicle stand, why don't we?"

Kyle laughed. "But I'm soul searching, remember? Doing some mental spring cleaning."

"Kyle," Tyler said, with slow deliberation. If it were not for how serious Tyler sounded, Kyle would have pointed out, with some measure of bizarre glee, that Tyler had used Kyle's name for the first time. As things were, Kyle somehow managed to hold his tongue. "Tell me. What are you really searching for? What depths of the soul can be plumbed by hanging out in a bathroom?"

Another silence stole over the two of them; Kyle shrugged uncomfortably, for once having nothing to say. The silence stretched, growing oppressive, until Tyler leaned over and pecked Kyle on the cheek. Kyle pinked a little, and then grinned stupidly.

"I'm searching for excitement," he declared. "And I think I just might have found it."

"Oh really?" Tyler asked in response, an extremely smug grin stealing across his face. Kyle wasn't about to put up with Tyler's smug self-righteousness; instead of replying verbally Kyle tackled Tyler. He wrapped his arms about the other man's midsection and knocked Tyler over so that Tyler wasn't quite on his back or quite on his side. Kyle then squirmed so was sitting on top of Tyler. He was wearing a newly-acquired smirk of his own.

"Yes really," he replied haughtily, before trading his smirk for a more genuine smile.

They both sat, each staring unwaveringly -- challengingly? -- into the other's eyes. Then, as if by unspoken agreement, Kyle leaned swiftly down and Tyler strained upwards. They met in the middle, crushing their mouths together in a surprisingly brutal kiss. The kiss drew out, softening into something that was both more gentle and more pervasive, with a brief clack of teeth and a languorous tangling of tongues. When they did at last break apart, their gazes met again, and both young men broke into grins.

"Found your excitement, huh?" Tyler said then, perhaps out of a lack for something better to say.

"Oh yes," Kyle agreed easily. "You're ever so thrilling. I think I'll have to keep you."

Tyler laughed at that; his laughter was met by a stern look that might have -- or might not have -- been for real.

"All right," Tyler said then. "And just what might 'keeping me' entail?"

Kyle frowned in response, shifting a bit where he was straddling Tyler and seeming to lose himself in thought. A moment or two more, and his expression brightened once more.

"I'm coming home with you!" Kyle declared.

"Really now?" Tyler sounded amused, and didn't seem to be objecting.

"After that," Kyle continued, "you get to meet Jake. Meeting Jake is the highest of honors! We'll return to your -- apartment? Town-home? House?"

"Apartment."

"--yes, apartment, where we'll get you nice and dolled up to meet Jake. Oh! But tonight is his night to spend with Meghan. Change of plans! We camp out at your apartment until Wednesday, and then you meet Jake!"

"What about work?"

"Oh, work'll fit in there somewhere. Now. What do you think of the plan?"

"If I tell you," Tyler began, "will you get off of me?"

"Huh," was all Kyle had to say. He looked to his left, then looked to his right, seeming to realize that he was pinning Tyler to the sleeping bag with his thighs. He squirmed a bit, freeing Tyler's arms but refusing to fully relinquish his perch.

"Better," Tyler said, pushing himself up into a sitting position and shrugging. "So tell me. What do I get in exchange for letting you 'camp out' at my apartment?"

"I can think of a few things," Kyle said suggestively, managing to waggle his eyebrows.

Tyler laughed. "All right, I think you've sold me."

"Great!" Kyle threw his arms around Tyler again, initiating a second thorough kiss. "We can leave now!"

Kyle backed off of Tyler, gesturing for the other young man to rise with him. Together they rolled up Kyle's sleeping bag and made sure all of Kyle's things were put away. Once everything was in order, Tyler hefted the rolled up sleeping bag and Kyle slung his backpack across his shoulders. They exchanged a look; Tyler arched one brow and Kyle just shrugged. Tyler leaned over and pecked Kyle swiftly on the lips.

Together, they exited the bathroom, "soul searching" completed.

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(AN: And that's all! I'm not sure if Kyle's characterization is consistent throughout this last chapter, but I'm not sure how else to tweak it. The end also might seem a bit abrupt, but the story was supposed to ONLY take place in the bathroom. Since Kyle and Tyler are leaving the bathroom, the story must end. Make sense? I hope so.)

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