Chapter Six: Pull it Together

It was one of those mornings when Galan knew he had no choice but to get out of bed. He had been awake for some time now, lying face down against the filthy, pungent mattress, the overwhelming smell of urine and dead mice loitering the hazy room. For nearly all his life he had been living in this room, and still he never managed to get over the sordid odor.

Springs drove their way into his naked body through the thinning fabrics, biting into his skin, an irritating itch that he never bothered to scratch. The whole mattress was itchy, a poor quality brand; he couldn't afford any other. It was to blame for the bags under his eyes, he had always been a fussy sleeper. Still despite all these abject facts of loathing, Galan still would not move from his place. He really didn't want to, knowing what he would have to do once on his feet. Maybe if he lied there just a bit longer, sleep would reclaim him and whisk him away and his sense of time, passing through the entire day without so much as a second thought.

A rebellious sun glared down on his face from the broken glass of his nearby window, baking through his clenched eyelids, stinging his eyes, screaming at him to get to his feet and get to the day. A hand flew to shield the stunned eyes, groaning his objection. Seeing as how he would get no peace Galan lurched himself up on the bed, ignoring the persistent springs that bore into his bottom.

"Fine. I'm up. Happy now?" He grumbled, wiping away the crusting eye goop from his eyes as he heaved himself off the bed. The room was far too small than what Galan would have liked, floors looking as if someone had just thrown slabs of wood together and not even bothered to smooth away the splinters, much less give it a little varnish. After a few months his feet had grown rough and callused; the splinters did not bother him any more. Besides, he could always walk on the piles of garbage that littered the floor beneath him. He wasn't one much for cleaning. The small size of the room was not well supported by the fact that he was forced to share it with his two brothers and sister, Ohta, Akemi, and Rika.

Luckily they weren't home.

Ohta, the eldest of the four, always enjoyed staying out late at the local bars, drinking the night away in an intoxicated fancy, then traveling home only to end up lost in the arms of some man or woman he had managed to grab straight off the street. Galan had to wonder as he trudged into the bathroom if Ohta even had self respect. You certainly didn't need to have any to fuck everything that moved. It seemed he was using his good looks for his advantage. The lucky fellow was probably the prettiest thing out of the entire family, what with the dark raven hair that insisted upon escaping from the ponytail Ohta so carelessly knotted and those penetrating bottle green eyes. Galan had to admit, if the bastard wasn't his brother he definitely would not think twice about bending over for him. But he didn't like thinking about that. It would always give his stomach an odd, twisting feeling. He figured it was some sort of guilt, that or shame. Either would've worked.

The faucet gave a quick sputter and gargle after Galan twisted the handle, the dirty water spitting out into the cement sink in defiance. There was no way he was going to wash his face in that filth. With a grimace he shut it off, a trailing gurgle fading down and away into the metal pipes. He hoped the shower would be a bit cleaner.

Rika was the youngest, probably no more than fifteen years old and as thin as a string bean. He had always been a wiry kid, never able to gain any weight, despite the fact that he ate constantly. When they went to school he had been a member of the track meet; man that kid could run! Don't get him wrong, Galan was a pretty fast runner, but still no fair match to Rika. The kid was cute, golden curls twisting into a short messy mop with eyes as blue as the sky. Galan could never figure out where his freckles had come from, no one in their family had freckles…

The only real problem with Rika was the obsessive fascination he held over Ohta. It never really seemed healthy, the constant dogging around him, the stares of deep longing that he would give him each and every time Ohta had his back turned. He couldn't help but fear for his little brother. If he didn't know any better Galan would've thought that Rika was infatuated with Ohta! If ever the day came when he would find him on his hands and knees getting fucked up the ass by the elder brother, Galan could safely say he would not be surprised. He was not the only one who thought this.

Akemi agreed with him fully, hell, she agreed with him on nearly everything. But seeing as how she was younger than him, it came as no surprise. Silly red headed teenager…Where was she anyway? Probably out at the mall or something, assuredly doing girl stuff or whatever.

Quickly Galan twisted the knob, taking a step back as the spray of water lunged forth and smacked into the lewd tub. Yes! Clean water! Cold, but at least clean.

He hadn't managed to find any clean clothes after he had showered, least of all any of his actual clothes. Ohta must have taken his sweater and jeans when he had been sleeping. The damn bastard never bothered to just ask if he could borrow the clothing, he always felt free to simply take it on a whim, assuming that Galan wouldn't care. Just because they were related didn't mean that it was a green light to go and steal each other's clothes.

So he had been left with the miserable choice of one of Ohta's silken white shirts, and Akemi's black jeans. It felt weird to wear his brother's shirt, but it felt even weirder to be wearing his sister's pants. Hey, you got to make due with what you've got.

The street had a distinct scent of wet garbage to it, an obvious observation seeing as how garbage bags of all varieties littered the sidewalks, refrigerators left unattended by the rarely seen garbage men and left to rot and rust. The occasional bum would stop Galan and recite his daily begging lines, hands, filthy and stained needily reaching out toward him, but of course he simply brushed them off. He was in need of some money himself. No one had been able to pay the rent in months, and the landowner was getting testy, so that only made things worse. No sibling wanted to rouse the lanky man's temper, not after what happened the last time they had been so foolish. He shivered. Not a pleasant memory.

Galan came to a T in the road, pausing to gaze from left to the right before he jogged across the empty street.

"Hey Taki!" He knew that voice, sultry, male. Glancing behind him Galan saw the lean, youthful figure moving toward him, each step having a mellow sway, the narrow hips rocking from side to side like a bobbing vessel in the high rolling seas. Auburn locks of hair whipped at his face as the wind blew, cutting across his golden eyes, giving him a feline sense of presence. It was Skoop, a dear friend of Galan's since the day's of elementary school. Well, he was the closest thing to a friend. Their history was scarred with the cuts and lashes of betrayal and lies, although amends were made in the end. They never really spoke much to each other through the first years of school, passing through third and fourth grade without giving the other so much as a second thought. It was only when Galan had broke out into a fight with the school bully in the fifth grade did Skoop come to him, and actually acknowledged his existence. Suiyaki Tachikoma was his birth given name, but he had told Galan that he had always hated the sound of it, that it had never suited him. So hence the name Skoop was born.

The real scare came in their early years of middle school. Skoop had come to fill in nicely, handsome, more or less beautiful and always the attraction of the students. He had loved the attention, flaunting his good looks around on a silver platter like he was getting paid to do it. At the time he was passing out five dollar hand jobs, but Galan figured that didn't really count. Galan hated technicalities.

Galan was all in all the opposite from Skoop; he hated the attention he would receive, and for that, he was a loner. No one sat at his table at lunch, no one bothered to speak to him. Actually, that was his fault. He wasn't exactly nice when he was fourteen. Even the teachers seemed to despise his presence. But what did he care? He only saw them for a fraction of his life, they didn't matter.

Skoop had been the only person who had talked to him. For that Galan hated him, but in a strange sense was also thankful. Even the loners get lonely Skoop had told him with an award winning smile. Whatever…

It was a bit nice to have him tag along everywhere he went, a silent companion to keep him company when most needed. Of course Galan had never told him this, choosing to use curt tones and harsh insults to keep him at a small distance. But of course Skoop had never paid much attention to his threats or offensive words, poking fun at him whenever the opportune moment was given, laughing when he shouted and punched. Not once did Skoop ever loose his temper with him. Back then Skoop had been a mystery to Galan.

People get stupid when they start to think that their happy with the way things are in their life. They get careless, let their guard down and become vulnerable to pain and betrayal. Even at some times attacks. Galan had always told himself he would never be one of those people, so sure that he was smarter than that, sure he had the system beaten. The teenage mind is niave.

He had never really paid much mind to Skoop's persistent advances, even dismissing the few kisses he would steal when he was off guard. At the most Galan had enjoyed them, keeping up the little see-if-you-can-get-away-with-it game for the moments they spent alone. Every now and then he would often make his own advances, have them eagerly accepted, but only to coward out and fall away. Yes, they never really got anywhere outside of that.

It had seemed that Skoop had quite enough of the foolish teasing. They argued over it for some time, sparring their verbal attacks, parrying with their insults, stabbing with their stinging anger. Galan had attempted to leave the argument and cool off his boiling rage, but Skoop had other plans.

How does an entire cafeteria filled with students not hear the shrill screams of a terrified fourteen year old boy inside the men's room with the door thrown wide open?

But anyway, they had not spoken to each other through the rest of the school year, avoiding each other not only in hallways meetings, but in class and lunch all together.

Nothing better than a high school drop out.

They had only met up recently, Galan finding Skoop had followed out with his middle school dreams, becoming the high class prostitute he had always imagined. He had to admit the pay was extraordinary, a thousand clams a client. Business was booming.

Galan brushed the perky prostitute a light wave. " Hey Skoop."

Skoop hopped to a stop aside him, the smile on his face wide, coating his lean face in a creamy glow. Always such a handsome fellow.

"So what brings you to this neck of the woods, huh? Never get to see much of you anymore." he kept his tone taunting, leaning against Galan's shoulder, pushing dangerously at his temper.

" I've been a bit busy." Galan was sure to keep his answers short. " have you seen Ohta or Rika around?"

" No. Why? Did Ohta get into trouble again?" He crossed his arms, pouting as he continued, " Don't tell me he is! He's my best customer."

"Don't worry." Galan assured him. " It's nothing like that. I just need to know where he is."

"Why?"
"Since when did this become an interrogation?"

With an easy laugh Skoop held up a silencing hand. " Alright, alright. No more interrogating. I haven't seen Ohta all afternoon; not at all this week in fact."

Galan huffed a sigh, the black eyebrows knitted together. He hadn't seen him all week either. Maybe his big brother was in trouble. Wouldn't be the first time. His knack for rousing up trouble was just as famous as his good looks.

"Thanks Skoop." He gave him a final wave before turning and trudging up the cement path. Forlorn eyes dug into his back, the trailing voice calling, " You're leaving already? I haven't spoken to you in months! Can't we just sit and talk, like we used to?"

"Sorry. You got to fuck me in the ass once, I ain't about to let you do it again." Galan was never merciful. Skoop pouted again, crossing his arms across the tight white shirt.

" What a sourpuss…" He muttered, turning on his heel.

Just like Ohta to make Galan worry. Self centered bastard! Galan didn't even want to care about him, but as always he didn't really have much of a choice. Plus, he had Rika to worry about as well, following that whore around like a lap dog with it's master. He wished he could take the boy away, give him a fresh place to start. That would never happen, he knew that all too well. There was no leaving this place, not ever. At least no one left it breathing. Yeah, it was one of those places, the stereotypical ghetto, knife fights on each corner, the ever present fear of being shot down where you stood, be it at the supermarket or your front door. Not the best, nor safest place for a kid to grow up in. Galan hated this town.

He started with the first place he could think of to find Ohta; the bar. It was a small bar, the Dirty, home of the Moist Diablo, not widely known, but known enough to stay in business. His family was a frequent flyer here. He asked around for a few hours if anyone had seen the two siblings, no one had. Just his luck.

This is how it went on for most of the day, wandering town, asking anyone familiar if they had spotted the raven haired deviant and his little brother, popping in and out of local bars that Ohta would call his home, questioning the occasional hooker only to end up empty handed.

"Where in the freakin' hell are you Ohta?" He breathed as he sat at a bench, rubbing at his sagging eyelids. He was getting tired, the day was getting late. He would need to get home soon. Maybe if he got lucky they would be there already, impatient and curious of what had taken him so long. Oh boy, what wonderful things he would say to them! He let out a groaning sigh from the deep of his throat, heaving himself lazily to his feet. He felt haggard, worn on from the day and the growing fear for his missing siblings. He tried to keep the possibilities out of his head, but failed dismally, his anxiety building with each thought, horrible, gruesome. He hated siblings.

No one home when Galan reached the apartment. It seemed fate was having fun toying with him, a boy with a magnifying glass, burning the tiny ant that was him and enjoying as he would scream. Stupid fate. Nothing really to do now…

Throwing the silk shirt from his back and onto the floor Galan headed for the kitchen, ignoring the small mice at his feet as they scurried and sniffed, validating whether or not they should flee from him or stay. He snatched a towel from the sink, giving it a few good wrenches and watched as the squeezed water dribbled down his wrists and down the rust encrusted drain.

He still couldn't understand why they were taking as long as they were to get home. A call would've been nice enough. But that would've been to considerate, wouldn't it? They undoubtedly couldn't have any of that. How he was related to those selfish bastards he never would know. He prayed he was adopted. Maybe they would spring it on him on his 18th birthday? Nothing says happy birthday like a cake that says your adopted on it.

He pulled the zipper of his pants free, the free hand reaching in and grabbing away the boxers, leaving himself bare, exposed. The cloth was warm, a tingle itching at the base of his spine as he swathed himself inside it, tight fingers curling around the thick bulk, keeping held well in place. With a breathy groan he started up and down, striding all while back into the bedroom. It was a nightly ritual, dull, lifeless. He had been with no one for at least a year now, the need growing to be near insatiable; he needed to keep it under some amount of control.

Once he had finished he threw the cloth aside, the fatigue at it's peak, pulling at his eyelids, loosening his muscles. That was it, he needed to go to bed. Flouncing atop the shrieking mattress Galan yawned, stretching his jaws wide and aching his muscles. The ceiling stared down at him with an empty stare, dark and misty, fuzzy to his sleep ridden eyes. It was quiet, a small, irritating buzz saturating the black space that was his room before it would grow into a dull roar and scream into his ears. So sleepy…

"Sir! Sir you need to wake up!"

Something was shaking Galan awake, screaming with voice shrill and feminine, battering away the sleep from his limp form.

"Wha-what?" Galan grumbled, eyes fluttering open. Smoke, black and thick billowed into the room, clouding his sight, stinging them with hot tears. A fire?

"Galan!"

The voice snapped him away from his daydream, jerking his head up to see Potenta standing aside him. It had grown late, the sky already bloodied with the purple haze of fleeting light. How long had he been up on the roof, lost in the memories?

Potenta looked at him hard, her face twisted with the awkward curl of her mouth. " Ya alright? Ya were spaced out for a while."

Turning back to the cloud rippled sky Galan nodded, pulling his knees apart. " …Yeah. I'm fine."

Potenta wasn't really convinced, but she knew better than to pester him about it. " Uh-huh. I couldn't say de same about Tessar."

"What? Why; what's wrong?"

"Well," She started, shifting her weight on her feet. " Ever since Wedas brought 'im back from Yutaka's penthouse apartment he hasn't spoken a word ta anyone. Somet'ing really rattled 'im dis time Galan. I tink ya should go an' see 'im."

"What could I do, huh?" Galan's tone was hot, she already was testing his patience. "What good would it do?"

"Galan," Potenta cut in. "…We tink he has some sort of connection to Wrath. 'Is aura showed a dream de boy had about 'im. Several infact."

Galan said nothing after that, he could only stare at the woman, and hard. Wrath had a connection to Tessar, was she serious? It wasn't impossible, but still it begged the question, why Tessar? What made the boy so special? Galan felt sick to his stomach, the taut muscles of his torso tightening and becoming firm, inflexible. This was nothing but bad news to him. He sighed.

"Fine. Take me to him."

"…Wedas?"

Wedas jerked around from the window to face Tessar, the amethyst eyes wide with relief. His entire physique seemed to diminish in sag, the small, refined shoulders lifting to the proper height that was suited to his youthful appearance. "Yeah? How you doing?"

Tessar shrugged. He wouldn't tell him how his body ached and burned; he felt like smoldering charcoaled timber. He knew it would only worry him all the more. " I feel ok."

"What had happened to you? It looked as if you were having a seizure!" Wedas shuddered. " It really scared me."

"Scared me too." Tessar agreed. He couldn't remember much of what had happened. All he managed to recall was the horrendous pain, and the voice. That voice! He knew it was the words of Vhon's silver-tongue, malicious, hungry. He wondered what he had meant by 'found you', the eyes wandering to the shadowed window pane.

"I wish I could tell you what happened, but I don't even know myself. I can't remember a thing."

"That's too bad. And here I was wanting to know the inside story." Galan yawned from the doorway, scratching at his forehead. "Wedas, scram. Big boy's got to talk."

"No way. I've been in here-"

"Exactly, you've been in here for three days and could use a break. Now go get some milk or gingersnaps; whatever it is that kids are crapping out these days…"

Wedas huffed, his face flushing red. "Listen pal, do-"

"take it easy Wedas, I'll be fine. Just give us a minute." Tessar kept his voice calm enough to hopefully convince the Juvenile to leave them alone. Something in Galan's eye told him that he had a mouthful to say. Wedas was looking at him as if he had just thrown a small knife at his head. It was obvious he was not happy to leave, but none the less he heaved himself up and stormed out the door.

Galan took his time to move at Tessar's side on the bed, his footfalls slow, heavy with the solid thunks of boots on hardwood floors. He sat, the bed giving a small whine of protest at the extra weight. Neither man spoke. The silence ticked away like time on the clock, the uncomfortable air lingering above them suffocating. Tessar thought about saying something, but he wasn't sure what. Talk to me…he wanted to scream the words out loud. Tell me nothing's wrong…

The words never came.

"You want to talk about it?" at last came the query. Galan knew Potenta and the others would demand for answers to their buzzing questions, but e didn't care. The boy had enough for now, and it was time to let him recoup his stability.

Yes! Yes I do!! Tessar shook his head. " No."

"…You want to cry a little?" The question was sincere.

Tell him you want to talk about it!! Again Tessar shook his head. " Na."

Galan nodded. "Alright. Just thought I should check up on you. Get some sleep, you'll feel better with a good night's rest."

"Right."

Galan gave him a slight wave before he got to his feet and left through the door, taking Tessar's chance to lift the ever weighing burden from his shoulders with him.

Why didn't he ever listen to himself?

--End

Galan: Nice going. A perfect chance to stop and talk it out and you go and miss it. Idiot.

Tessar: Shut up! Your one to talk!

Wedas: Huh? What do you mean?

Tessar/Galan: Nothing!!