A/N: I've actually had most of this chapter for a couple of months now but I just don't know how I feel about it. Let me know and maybe the next update will be so much faster ;)

It was nearly a week since the soiree thrown by Belguard. Reggie has spent the next day wallowing about his apartment before a rather put-out Dawn appeared with bags of Chinese food and a missing set of car keys. After a long, comforting conversation about his wretched night they had settled down for a non-romantic movie before collapsing together in his bed.

She had already left when he woke and he almost fell back into his low state of being before shaking himself firmly and burying himself in little projects he had never completed. Then the calls began to come in and Reggie found himself too busy to think, much less wallow. As he headed to another interview a small plan began to shift about in his head.

Reggie smiled into the soft wetness that dusted his face even under the cabbie hat as he hurried to the office that had called that morning. His laptop was slung over his shoulder creating a painful groove in his skin.

Another block and he was finally standing in front of the steel and glass building. The door slid open as he approached them and a young man at the front desk glanced up at the sudden disturbance.

At the sight of Reggie, dressed in dark shorts, knee high laced sneakers, and a pinstripe button down shirt the boy stood up sharply. Reggie smiled disarmingly and approached him calmly, "I'm here to visit with the designer."

"Of course. Mr. Korsakov. Just up the elevator, thirty-second floor."

"Thank you." Reggie offered him another smile before proceeding to his early morning business meeting. In the privacy of the elevator Reggie admired his appearance once again in the chrome doors. He had dressed carefully. He did own fine suites and some decent work attire, but as a policy he met clients in his most lavish outfits. The care for appearance, the attention to detail, the affect of shocking people into looking and admiring were all qualities of his work that he wanted emulated in his life and person. Sass. That's what his mom had once called it. Sassy.

The doors opened and again he was faced with a reception desk, this one with a twenty – something woman sitting behind it. Her buoyant yellow hair shook as she cocked her head in a manner appealing to most sexually active males, "Mr. Korsakov?"

She pronounced it 'Core – say – cove'. Reggie winced at the common brutalization of his perfectly good name but nodded all the same.

"I'll escort you to the meeting room."

The bouncy girl walked in front of him, her hips swishing side to side and the short business skirt revealing hints of a round cheek. Their destination was a set of glass doors that had been delicately carved with nouveau designs. A light tap elicited permission to enter and the doors were pulled open for him as Reggie stepped forward.

Inside was a lush room with thick carpets and plush leather furniture. In one of these chairs was a bald man in a deceptively modest gray and blue suit, "Cherry, thank you."

The blond nodded and trumped back off to her station. Now the man's focus was solely on Reggie, who removed his hat and lightly shook out the full head of hair from its tight confines, "Mr. Korsakov."


"I'm glad to see you are not easily shaken, my boy."

"I suppose it would be rather hard if I were in awe of all my clients."

A light laughter met him and the infamous designer Alexander McQueen offered his advertisement agent a seat as they began the tedious business of practicalities, legalities, and explanations.

Alexander Rosenth glared at the pages clipped to the wall. They promised an answer, a weakness, but they were not forthcoming with any solution. He had barely slept, nothing tasted very good, and he had avoided any and all contact with the businessman Belguard at risk of acting unprofessional. More than once a very familiar name had drifted through his perception as he met with friends and colleagues about a most remarkable advertisement designer and graphic artist who had swept the scene in a few short days, already having met with and even dismissed many of the major businesses in the city.

He growled and turned away sharply as this thoughts began to wander again. It was time to go home, with a new set of eyes in the morning he could figure it out, break the puzzle. He always did.

The drive home was quiet and the husky gray of evening began to enfold the city even as the energetic lights of the nightlife flickered against his dark windows. His arrival home was only delayed by one stop to pick up a paper bag of food from a local deli he frequented. Finally his tired form found the front of his apartment building.

Part of a Historic restoration project, the building still looked as it had in the late 1800's. Large stone and marble worked nicely alongside sturdy mortar and newly placed bricks. The windows were overly large; nearly floor to ceiling, and the clean dark wood in the lobby had been aged perfectly to match the décor while providing a more solid footing.

The doorman nodded silently to him as Alex passed without a word and stepped into a familiar elevator.

Alex hardly lived in the loft he had once been so fond of. Most of his time was spent attending soirees and dinner parties or tied up in the office. Until his father abdicated the control of his company or Alex voluntarily abandoned the family business – not something he was considering – he was his father's perfectly trained figure. He didn't mind the job until recently. How recently he wasn't inclined to consider but it was near enough that he berated himself sharply as the steel elevator lifted him to the appropriate floor.

Reggie nodded his head in beat with the music. 'Ok Go' pounded through his ears and blocked out the sirens and speeding cars of the street.

He was trapped in the hallway, the marble floor providing no heat or comfort. Beside him sat two hefty bags of groceries for a delightful dinner he was determined to eat sometime in the next few hours. And before him was one of three laptops he owned; this was one was currently sporting his careful design for an avant garde company that was opening in three weeks down on Broad.

And why was Reggie working on his computer in the hallway with two bags of /thankfully/ non-perishable groceries?

Because the damned door was locked and Reggie had no key to get it open. There was no secret key hidden about and no one to call for a spare, so he had settled to wait it out.

A small noise, hardly what should have come through over his headphones, ended his tireless wait.

Alex came up short as soon as he stepped into the hall. There was only one apartment on this floor. No possible mistake. Only one door, and labeled clearly with his number on it. However there was, in fact, a boy lounging on the smooth stone floor. Groceries peeked over paper bags and music drifted faintly from heavy black headphones that obscured the boy's ears. Short dark green shorts rode up lightly tanned thighs and carefully laced boots covered his swinging knees as he lay out on his stomach and tapped on a thin notebook.

Alex made a step, maybe backward or forward – he couldn't tell - and the boy looked up. Wide honest eyes smiled in immediate recognition.

The headphones fell to reveal a head of honey-brown hair and a genuinely pleased face, "Alex."

In moment and without hesitation Reggie had stood and moved forward to lift on his toes and flutter a light kiss over Alex's surprised lips.

Then Reggie had stepped away and was carefully packing up his notebook and slinging the bag over his shoulder, "Can you get the door?"

Alex nodded dumbly and quietly unlatched the mechanism before propping it open and picking up one of the grocery bags and waiting as Reggie lifted the other and preceded him into the dark rooms.

"Why are you here?"

Reggie turned and looked at the stiff businessman that leaned against the kitchen doorframe. There was an unasked question in his stature that sent a wave of pain and anger racing through Reggie, "I thought you'd like some dinner."

Alex shoved out of his head the burning questions, accusations, the fear of what Reggie had gotten himself into and looked at the boy in front of him. He was here, in Alex's apartment. Not with Belguard, not out combing the town. For now, that was enough. That he came back, that was enough.

Without warning Reggie was incased in warm arms, a heady sensation weakening his limbs and drawing short on breath. Alex breathed out heavily, sinking slightly against the smaller boy, "You're back."

Reggie smiled against the stiff suit before shoving back lightly and disentangling himself from the strong form, "Why don't you get a shower? I'll cook."

Alex nodded and dipped down for a quick kiss before stepping out of the kitchen and into the bathroom that smelled heavily of lavender.

Reggie pulled out his laptop again and set it on the table nearby to play his music while he cooked. Cobra Starship pumped out the speakers as he pulled cucumbers and rice and a variety of other things out of their bags. Some he placed in cabinets and others were laid out on the counter.

Alex scrubbed his skin quickly while the hot water spread soapy suds across his skin. Music from the other room flowed dimly under the door. A smile stretched out his lips and Alex quickly toweled off. Dressing in a pair of old slacks and a loose t-shirt he strode into the kitchen and caught the boy carefully mixing up something in a bowl around the waist. Tugging him close, Alex dipped down and placed a gentle kiss on the bare skin of his neck. Then another along the ear. Reggie shook gently from the sensation and twisted, dropping his spoon in the bowl, to wrap his arms around Alex. Capturing the suddenly available mouth, Alex savored the soft lips and the hesitant opening. Without further encouragement he delved in and treasured each sensation.

Finally he pulled back a bit and rested his forehead against Reggie's. "So, lovely, what is for dinner?" Alex asked, putting in as much huskiness to his voice as he could.

Reggie blushed and tried to restrain a smile, "It's chicken, cucumber, rice, and spinach all topped with sauce."

"Hm…what kind of sauce?"

Reggie smacked Alex's chest lightly, "Your so dirty."

Alex sighed a bit and stepped over to stand beside Reggie, "So, can I help?"

"Sure." Reggie gave him two cucumbers and a knife, "Slice these in half, then longways."

Alex nodded and went to work while Reggie stirred the mixture and poured it into a saucpan already boiling something. Next the cucumbers joined the already cooking chicken in a pan and was followed by a series of spices and liquids.

Within the hour there were two plates of richly colored food, with a spicy light brown sauce laced over it, sitting on the table and two glasses of deep red wine to accompany it. Reggie's computer had been put away and some non-descript piano music filtered in from another room as the two men sat down to eat.

Alex nearly groaned as the first taste reached his tongue. The vegetables were slightly sweet with a salty overlay and made solid with the pile of rice. The sauce, however, the sauce was divine. Rich and creamy with a heavy spice and tantalizing hint of saltiness that made his imagination go crazy. Reggie seemed to be sharing in his own private amusement as he carefully muffled his laughter at Alex's reaction.

"I thought you were a designer, not a cook." Alex sipped his bitter wine to ease the overwhelming flavors of the dish.

"I suppose I'm a bit of both. I have many trades." Reggie smiled benignly, thinking nothing of his choice of words.

Alex continued to eat a bit before making a response. "Belguard seemed to think so too."

The air grew thick with the first word and when Alex dared to look up it was to find Reggie gripping his fork tightly in one hand, his face gone white and eyes wide and unfocused. "Reggie." Alex tried to draw Reggie's attention back to him but the boy looked as though he was somewhere else entirely.

Reggie pushed back from the table and stumbled towards the door. Thick with panic, Alex lunged after him and pulled the boy against his strong chest. Strong, warm arms wrapped around his back and pinned his arms where they had braced against Alex's chest. Alex squeezed a bit and spoke into Reggie's hair, "Please, don't go. I'm sorry. Please stay."

The boy trembled in his arms but after a moment tentative arms snuck around his body and pressed him closer. Taking this as a yes, Alex moved them back to the table and settled with Reggie across his legs.

Reggie wiggled awkwardly, though his head was bent to hide the tear stains, and he tried to moved but Alex kept him pinned close, with a small smile he lifted a thick cucumber slice, dripping with sauce, and held it up to the boy's lips.

Reggie blushed fiercely but accepted the morsel and chewed it deliberately while Alex helped himself to another hefty bite. Eventually the plate was empty and Alex set Reggie in a chair while he put the dishes in the sink and the remaining food in the fridge. Then he lifted the boy, who was now drooping with sleepiness, and cradled him against his chest.

The lights were cut with a shoulder, the door shut with a gentle kick. Reggie was laid out on the massive bed and stripped to his boxers. Alex joined him and cuddled them under the covers the soft smell of vanilla pervading his nose where he pressed it against Reggie's neck. Alex was lulled to sleep by the deep even breathing that pressed against his bare chest.