Title: The Sage Haze
Author: Windseeker2305

Summery: An ongoing series focusing on a group of friends who would literally do anything for each other. Tony and Sheera have been best friends since almost birth and Tony's world is about to be turned upside down when Sheera's cousin Shane moves to town to attend Allmsted University and everyone's lives from then seem to get more complicated and little more thrilling. Multiple slash(explicit) couples, as well het(implied) couples.
Disclaimer: Characters within are of my own creation. Do not recreate or repost elsewhere without permission.

The Sage Haze

Episode One

"Ugh! What are we doing here again? This place sucks!"

Tony snorted and watched as his best friend since the age of two turned her nose up at the usual large crowd lined outside the front door of the Sage Haze club. Sheera took one last puff on her cigarette, then tossed it to the ground and ground it out with her five inch black heal.

"You're banned from the VIP list, bitch!" exclaimed the young man walking along on the other side of Tony. A sexy lithe blond whose eyes glittered with mock outrage.

"What's bugging you?" Tony asked Sheera with narrowed eyes. He noticed she'd been in a pissy mood all damn day. "You usually love coming here."

His attention was then drawn to the man next to him, who also happened to be his best friend. Said man leered at Sheera as she promptly turned her back on both of them. "She's only mad because Marc couldn't get out of working the late shift tonight. Isn't that right, hun?"

"I've told you several times to stop saying his name like that you stupid fag!" Sheera screeched as she spun around to glare at Damien.

Damien smirked. "At least I'm not a fag hag," he called in a sing song voice.

Once again Sheera's nose rose into the air. "It's not my fault the two of you prefer cock over pussy." She tossed her long black hair over her shoulder and began to walk across the street. Damien sent Tony an eye roll before chasing after the pale girl.

Tony decided he would stay out of this argument. They were only playing anyway. It was true he and Damien were gay, and she was a bit of a fag hag, only named so because the three of them had been friends since what seemed like forever. And really, it wasn't Sheera's fault he and Damien both turned out to be gay. And at least he wasn't flaming like Damien.

Tony usually couldn't stand flamboyant homosexuals, but he made an exception for Damien because they were best friends and his flamboyancy was a bit... complicated. But unlike the blond, Tony tended to keep his sexual preferences to himself. It wasn't that he was ashamed of his homosexuality; he just didn't go out of his way to advertise it, which is probably why he was more often than not without a partner.

"Tony, come on!" Sheera yelled back when she noticed he was still standing on the sidewalk across the road. "I want to get a few drinks in before I have pick Shane up from the airport!" She then sighed and grumbled to Damien. "Don't know why Aunt Daisy made him take such a late flight."

Tony jogged across the street and caught up to Damien and Sheera just as they came up to the front of the line where the bouncer stood behind a red velvet rope.

"Mr. Shrod." The bouncer smiled at Damien as he unhooked the rope to allow them passage. "Miss Target, Mr. Candon." As it so happened, Damien was a rich kid, and he owned the Sage Haze, among other lucrative businesses.

Damien smirked, "just Tony and myself this time." He turned amused eyes on Sheera, whose mouth had dropped open. "You did say this place sucked."

"You're evil!" she shrieked. "You wouldn't dare leave me out here!"

Damien laughed and entwined their arms. "No. But only because I know you'd burn the place down."

"Damn straight."

As soon as they were inside, Sheera flounced off to the bar, promising to bring back drinks to their table, a table that was always reserved and used by their group of friends.

"Hey, Damien?"

"Hmm?" the blond's blue eyes were already roving around the three-tiered club, already searching for fresh disposable meat as they slid into the large round booth on the edge of the dance floor.

"Did you hear from Caleb and Mai? They coming tonight or what?"

"They said they were."

Caleb and Mai. A sickening sweet lovey dovey couple, and the last two that made up the circle of close-knit friends. Five people who would do anything for one another, and usually did.

"Tony, do me a favor…"

Green eyes narrowed slightly in question, and he rose a black eyebrow when Damien grinned at him. "What already?"

"Do me a favor and go get laid tonight. I know it's been too long…" Damien wagged his fingers flirtatiously before sliding out of the booth and disappearing into the crowd.



A short Japanese woman came running out of the dancing crowd and up to the table, her long black hair bouncing around her smiling face. She threw her arms around his neck and planted a wet kiss to his cheek. She pulled back giggling and settled beside him, just as her boyfriend, the tallest black man Tony had ever met, arrived at the table.

"Tony, my man!" Caleb slapped hands with him before sliding in beside Mai.

"Did you two just get here?" he asked Caleb as he glanced at giggling girl beside him. "Cause Mai looks like she's had one too many already."

"Naw. We've been here for a while," he flashed a white grin, "getting our groove on."


"Ah, what's wrong, Tony? You sound depressed." Mai commented. She quickly snatched up one of the drinks Sheera returned with.

"He's been without a partner for about two months." Sheera said as she slid in where Damien vacated. "What do you think is wrong?"

"Really, man? Two months?" Caleb's disbelieving owlish expression only aggravated Tony more.

"I've just been working a lot more recently." Tony growled out. "I'm tired, that's all."

"But two months, man…"

"Baka!" Mai slapped the back of Caleb's head before turning back to him. "You don't seem tired. In fact you've been acting very restless…"

Tony sighed as he sat back. His friends meant well, he knew, but sometimes it was so aggravating having people who could read each other so well around all the time. Especially Mai. She had the uncanny ability of being able to read anyone, and was usually right about most things. The thing was… he was restless. But he didn't know why.

Thinking he didn't want his love life being the topic of discussion right now, he turned to Sheera, intent on changing the subject. "So why are you picking your cousin up from the airport?"

Sheera gave a heavy sigh and rolled her eyes. "Mom thought it would make things easier on Shane. Having someone closer to his own age around at first, make him more comfortable."

"Why'd she ask you then? You make everyone uncomfortable." Caleb quickly moved his legs from under the table before Sheera could answer with a kick.

"School starts in two days," Mai began with a frown. "Shouldn't he have come up long before now to get settled in before classes start? He's staying with you guys, right?"

Sheera nodded. "He didn't want to, but Aunt Daisy is really protective and she wouldn't agree to let him attend Allmsted unless he stayed with us." Sheera took a drink, and hummed her pleasure at the taste before going on. "Knowing my little cousin, Shane's not going to stick around for long. He'll find his own place soon."

"Independent?" Tony inquired.

"Very. Annoys my aunt so much. I'm really surprised he managed to move out of that house at all."

"And why's he coming so late again?"

"Aunt Daisy. Wanted as much time with him as she could get before he had to be here before classes start… Hey, I want him to have fun here. You guys will treat him right, won't you?"

"Of course!" Mai immediately answered.

"No sweat, Sheera."

Tony smiled. Sheera was usually very irritable, but when it came to family, she was the best. And this was her cousin, whom she had a fabulous relationship with. Sheera talked about him often. "Exactly how are we supposed to treat him?"

"He wont know anyone up here. He's the only one from his high school coming to Allmsted, so he'll have no friends for a little bit. I thought he could hang with us for a while until he found some friends his own age. He's pretty outgoing…"

"Hell yeah!" Caleb enthused. "Let's see how much trouble we can get him into."

"That's not what I meant!" Sheera snapped.

Tony stayed at their table, nursing a beer, watching his friends come and go for a while. Just as he finished off his beer and pushed the empty glass away, Tony spotted Damien waving at him from the second floor, and once Tony's attention was caught, the blond then pointed to a man standing a few feet away from him and wagged his eyebrows. Tony replied by looking away. He long ago learned that anyone Damien thought would be a good match for him, usually ended up being the exact opposite.

"I'm going." He said and stood, surprising Sheera, the only one who sat with him.

"What? But it's still so early!"

"I've got to work early tomorrow."

Sheera gave him an odd look, and Tony hoped she would leave it and let him leave without an argument. Finally she nodded, but surprised him when she stood. "Come have a cig with me first though."


Once they were outside, Sheera passed him a cigarette before lighting up her own. "Passing out cancer sticks isn't a great way to show how much you care," he said before taking a long drag.

"Shut up. You wanted it."

Tony leaned back against the wall, looked up at the stars, and half listened to Sheera go on and on about her current boyfriend. It wasn't that he didn't care about what was going on in her life. It was the simple fact that he thought her boyfriend was nothing but a dick who certainly did not deserve a woman like her. And by the way she was complaining about the ass right now, he didn't know how Sheera hadn't come to that conclusion yet.

"You're not listening!" she suddenly yelled in his face, and he couldn't help but laugh.

"Sorry, I was just-"

Her phone went off then and she ignored him to answer it. " Shane!" She grinned at Tony, once again reminding him how much she adored her cousin. She was genuinely happy to hear from him. And it was so odd to see. Not many people could bring out that type of emotion from her. Tony thought Shane must be some special kid. Curious, he tuned into the one-sided conversation.

"Are you calling me from the plane? How close are you? Will the flight land on time?" Sheera listened to the reply and frowned. "Some planes have phones on them, smart ass! Don't be a dick!"

Tony's chuckle earned him an elbow in his ribs. "Fuck, She! That hurt. I've still got three bruises around there from the last few times you elbowed me."

Sheera shushed him and returned to her call. "Hmm? Oh, I was talking to Tony. A nobody."

"Very fucking funny." Tony threw down his cigarette and ignored her twitters.

"…so wait," she went on to her cousin. "If you're not on the plane, then where are you? You're supposed to be thousands of feet in the air right now…" a moment of silence, and then, "Really! That's great!" She turned to Tony, "he's come in early."

"Which means he's already at the airport, indicating he needs you to pick him up now."

"Right. Sit tight, Shane. We're on our way to get you… I'll call you when we get there… Huh? Oh, I'm bringing the nobody with me… Calm down, Shane. Tony doesn't bite. It'll be fine." And with that she cut the call off, and was already heading back into the club.

"Sheera! I never volunteered to go with you," Tony reminded and then ground his teeth together when it was obvious she wasn't listening. She ran into the club, no doubt to grab her purse, and to tell their friends where they were headed. Tony had half a mind to take off right now and be gone before she came back out.

But it was late, the airport was over thirty minutes away, and Tony really didn't want Sheera to have to drive that length alone. So he stayed and waited by her car.

"You were there, right, when I said I had to work early in the morning?" he drawled when they were in her car and speeding down the road towards the highway.

When she didn't answer, Tony looked over and was surprised to find her scowling at the road and her fingers danced over the steering wheel in agitation.

"What's wrong?"


"And? You seemed happy he's coming."

"I'm thrilled, but… He sounded out of it. Something's wrong. He didn't sound like he usually does."
"Maybe he's only nervous. Starting college, moving to a new city, having to rely on other people at the start… it's bound to get to anybody. Especially someone who's usually independent."

"No. Shane's one to take things in stride. That's what I love about him. But his voice… something is definitely wrong."

Tony inwardly groaned. If there was one thing he hated, it was drama. The kid hadn't been in town for an hour, and already he was creating drama. However, Tony had been a friend to Sheera for like forever, and he had met her little cousin once before. But that had been years ago, when the boy had been four or five. One thing Tony did remember was Shane had been a very happy child, and had loved chasing his older cousin and her friends around, eager to try new things out. Tony had thought the kid had no fear….

"Whatever it is, we'll sort it out."

Sheera shifted her eyes from the road and gave him a relieved smile. " Thanks Tony."

"Wake me up when we get there." He replied and reclined the back of his seat. He hadn't really planned on sleeping, but the next thing he knew, Sheera was shaking him as she pulled up to one of the airport's tollbooths.

Tony hated airports. Absolutely abhorred them. Flying he didn't mind. No, it was simply the chaotic trip through the mazes people liked to call airports. He was always stressed by the time he reached his gates, and always thanking God the chaos was over with when he could sink into his seat on a plane and close his eyes. He wasn't sure exactly what bothered him so much about the place. Maybe it was the massive amounts of people that was always around; the way people rushed from here to there, in extreme urgency… yeah, that was exactly it. He hated large hurried crowds in an environment that simply screamed stressful.

"Please tell me we don't have to go in," he begged Sheera.

"He's waiting outside for us."

"That's a blessing."

A few minutes later, they made their way into the arrival pickup area of the airline Shane had used and Sheera promptly pulled over. There weren't many people standing out side waiting, and none of them seemed to be Shane. There were two women standing together under a light, sharing a cigarette, and one elderly man sitting on a bench with one suitcase at his feet. There was no eighteen year old to be seen.

"Where is he? Said he'd be outside…" Sheera murmured as she opened her door. Tony muttered to himself as he reached over and pushed the button that would open the trunk before sliding out of the car.

Movement in the shadows farther down the walk caught his attention and as Tony turned he briefly caught sight of a slender guy dressed in black with a duffle bag hanging off each of his shoulders. He had a black baseball cap pulled low over his eyes. The moment he caught sight of Tony looking, the guy backed away into the shadows again.

"Over there." Tony nodded over to the kid. Sheera started walking over. Tony followed. If that wasn't Shane, then he didn't want to leave Sheera approaching some moody stranger.


The moment the guy heard her voice, his head popped back out of the shadow. "Sheera?"

"Hey!" Sheera hurried over and pulled Shane into the light and threw her arms around him. "How was your flight? Did you get to eat? Where's all your stuff?"

"Sheera, le'go. Can't breathe…" the kid pulled back. Tony noticed he did with a wince.

"I'm so happy you're here, Shane. I can't wait to show you around!"

"Your exuberance is a bit sickening, cuz. Especially for the hour."

Tony snorted his agreement, which drew the two family members' attentions. "He's right. It's late. I have an early shift tomorrow. Let's go." Tony reached out and grabbed Shane's bags from his slender shoulders before the kid could say anything, and was already striding back to the car, keeping an ear focused on the two as they followed him.

"What's with the hat, Shane? I remember you never liked to cover your hair…" Sheera was saying playfully. "You've got such pretty hair, too. And I can't see your eyes either-"

"Leave it." The force of Shane's voice had Tony peering over his shoulder as he dumped the bags into the trunk. "Hey! Watch what you're doing! Don't just throw my stuff around!"

One black eyebrow raised as he studied the boy who spoke so forcefully, but who kept his gaze locked on the road. "It's fine, kid. Didn't hurt anything."

"Still…" Shane rounded the car and slipped into the backseat on the driver's side and shut the door, crossing his arms and dropping his chin to his chest. Sheera and Tony shared a look over the top of the car.

"Something's wrong," She mouthed to him.

Yeah. Your cousin is a spoiled brat who needs a swift kick in the ass… Instead of speaking his thoughts, Tony only shrugged. He opened the door and just as he was sliding in, he caught sight of something he thought was partly the reason for Shane's attitude. The light from the walkway illuminated half of Shane's face, and even though the kid was slouched forward, Tony caught sight of bruising surrounding his shadowed eyes. That was probably also the reason why he was wearing a ball cap and keeping it low so that they couldn't see his face clearly. It would also explain why he snapped at Sheera when she tried to pull the hat off. What the hell happened to him?

"Sheera, you're going back to the Haze, right? I need to get my car." Tony asked after several miles of silence.

"Of course, sweetie."

"I hate when you call me that. I'm not Damien…"

"Yeah, I know."

"You're a bitch."
"I know that too."

More miles passed with more silence. It was so quiet Tony forgot someone was in the back seat until Shane shifted slightly and caught his attention. From the corner of his eye, Tony clearly saw the guy was staring at him, but when he turned in his seat to face Shane fully, the kid immediately turned to look out the window.

"You need gas, Sheera." Tony said after returning his gaze to the front and catching sight of the gaslight.

"We're fine."
Tony snorted. "You said that last time. And what happened? You rushed to work the next morning and forgot to get gas on the way. Just pull over and get gas. I don't want to have to come save your ass again."

Tony grinned and bent his arms behind his head as Sheera growled like a wild cat and steered the vehicle off the highway and towards the nearest gas station.

"I'll pump for you," he said as Sheera pulled in next to a pump.

"I got it, Tony. Geez, just cause I'm a woman…"

"Really? When did that happen?"

He heard an amused snort come from the back seat and grinned at Sheera. She then flipped him off before climbing out of the car.

Tony expected Shane to remain quiet, so when he started talking, Tony was very surprised. "Are you and Sheera dating?"

"Hell no!" Tony twisted around with a grimace. "What gave you such a ridiculous thought?" Tony was, of course, forgetting Sheera's cousin had no idea he preferred men.

Shane's jaw clenched tightly as if he were trying to keep an outburst in, and he saw the slighter man's fists clench onto his knees. Finally it seemed Shane couldn't hold it in anymore. "Why the fuck not? She not good enough for you or something? Why'd you make it sound like that?"

"Calm the hell down. You're misunderstanding, kid."
"And stop calling me a fucking kid! I'm eighteen, asshole! And what's wrong with Sheera, anyway?"

Tony sighed and ignored the brat's pissed off attitude. It was easy to ignore when he caught sight of the bruising again. "There is nothing wrong with her. It's just not like that between us. Could never be." Because I'm gay and she's a woman and the thought sickens me. However, Tony often thought that if Sheera were a man, then maybe he might have tried to date her. Usually, when she wasn't being excessively bitchy the woman had a great personality…

Tony watched Shane turn away as Sheera began moving off to go inside the gas station, probably to buy chocolate, as she always did. As soon as the shop door closed behind her, Tony reached back and grabbed the cap off Shane's head before the brat could react.

"What happened to you? I hope you don't think a stupid hat is going to keep Sheera from seeing those bruises."

Bruises worse now that the hat was gone. Tony hadn't noticed until now how well Shane had been able to keep the damage from showing. It was the first time he noticed the brat's lip was busted and swollen like hell, both eyes were blackened, and the entire left side of his face had taken a beating.

"Please give it back." Shane whispered and pressed back against his seat as far as he could go. "It's not so bad."

Tony was suddenly gripped with a burning anger at seeing his friend's little cousin so badly beat up. He reached out and grabbed Shane's chin, jerking until Shane was looking at him. When their eyes met for the first time that night, Tony's hand dropped like a ton of bricks, and he actually forgot how to breathe. Jesus! The brat had gorgeous jewels for eyes. Deep soulful sapphire orbs… large eyes that widened in surprise at being scrutinized so intensely by his own.

Fuck, Tony. He's Sheera's cousin… he had to remind himself of that after taking in the rest of the guy's battered face, and realizing that face would be as gorgeous as his eyes once the bruising had faded.

Tony tossed back the hat. "What the fuck happened?"

Shane pulled the hat on and shrugged. "A farewell present. Look, can we drop this. It's not any of your business, anyway."

"Are you beat up anywhere else?"

Tony watched those gorgeous eyes explode in temper and nearly shivered from delight at seeing such a hot look. "Fuck off, dude! It's not your business-"

Tony grinned as he stretched out his arm towards him again. And because Shane thought his hat was in danger, the brat reached up to protect it, leaving the rest of his body without protection. Tony grabbed Shane's shirt and jerked him forward against his seat belt. The cry of pain that followed was answer enough for Tony. Clearly the boy had been beaten up all over.

"Just don't tell Sheera. I don't like her to worry," Shane mumbled as he shifted and loosened the seat belt. "And like I said… none of your fucking business."

Tony let it slide. The kid was right. It wasn't his business and he didn't know why he had stuck his nose into it in the first place.

"Whatever you like, Shane." He replied softly. Tony settled back and closed his eyes, prepared to sleep back to the Sage Haze. Only those startled blue eyes continued to interfere with him trying to black out his thoughts.

Sheera returned, for which he was very grateful, and she tossed a sports drink back to Shane, then tossed an energy drink to Tony, who took it, opened it, and chugged it before he knew what he was doing.

"Dammit, Sheera," he muttered, annoyed with himself. "I told you I have an early shift."

"I only bought it. I didn't make you drink it." She precariously steered away from the gas station and back onto the highway before speaking again. " Besides it's only one…"

Tony groaned and rubbed his eyes. "I'm going to call in tomorrow. I can't work if I don't get enough sleep. I'll end up blowing something up."
"That's the spirit!"

"You are solely responsible for my financial failings."

"No way! Damien is worse than I am." Sheera's phone went off then, and she asked him to answer for her. Tony hoped it wasn't Marc, otherwise he was going to answer, then promptly disconnect, regardless of the punishment he would receive from Sheera. Fortunately it was Damien.

"You're still at Haze, Damien?" he said into the phone, after recognizing the background noise. "I was sure you would have picked up a guy already to drag him off for one of those quick fucks I know you're always fond of."

Sheera elbowed him in the arm, then looked up into the rearview mirror. "What? He said he's not a kid. Right?" Tony looked back to find blue eyes staring at him in astonishment. Shane numbly nodded and then quickly looked away.

"… HELLO? I DEMAND ATTENTION HERE!" Damien's voice came out from the cell's earpiece loud and clear.

"Alright, already. What do you want?"

"The reason why I'm not having my brains fucked out right now is because we're all waiting for you guys to come back with Sheera's cousin so we can meet him. How far away are you?"

"Ah… I don't think that's a good idea…"

"And why not? Are you saying no to me, Tony? You know it's never healthy to say no to me."

"Look, it's late. He's probably not up for it."


Tony pulled the cell away from his ear as it went dead. "Christ, he's such a drama queen." He turned to Sheera. "They're waiting to meet Shane at Haze."

"That's great!"

Tony sighed. He wasn't going to argue, knowing he would get nowhere that way. However, he was surprised when Shane didn't speak up. He was sure the brat didn't want to go anywhere where there were a lot of people. Especially looking the way he was right now. But hopefully, since it was a weekday, the club will have emptied by the time they arrived.

Surprisingly the club was empty when they got there. "He must have closed it early."

"Papa Shrod is not going to be happy with him for that," was Sheera's opinion as she dragged Shane towards the door. She was so excited that she continually missed the bruises hidden by the shadows created by the baseball cap. Though Shane was good at hiding it. He avoided any and all bright spots created by the lights around the outside of the club, and pulled away from Sheera every time she tried getting close to his face.

"Hey, where's the bathroom?" Shane asked him the moment they stepped inside and Sheera rushed off to go find Mai. Green eyes traveled the length of the shorter boy, noticing Shane's height brought the top of his head only up to his chin.

"You're short."
"Fuck you." Tony was pleased Shane's retort was full of amusement. This was the cousin he had expected to meet after everything Sheera had told them about him. "Just tell me where the bathroom is before I'm surrounded."

Tony nodded off behind him. "Exactly where the bright sign reading bathroom is."

Without a reply, Shane turned and walked away, flipping the bird as he went. Tony laughed out loud. The kid was a firecracker. He was starting to really like this brat. Far more than he should actually.

"You're laughing," Mai said as she and Sheera appeared beside him. " Something good must have happened."

"Shane, of course. That's the reaction he has in everyone, except…" Sheera trailed off and frowned.

"I know what's wrong with him." Tony told her after a moment of deliberation. It was easy to see Shane was embarrassed because he'd been beaten up, which was probably why he was acting like a brat. And seeing the damage, it was also easy to see why the kid was being so standoffish. Telling Sheera before she saw for herself was best. Otherwise she'd make a big scene over it and that wasn't going to help anyone.

"How do you know? What is it?"

"It looks like he got into a fight before flying up, or something. He's got bruises all over his face, Sheera."


"Look. He's embarrassed, so tone it down. That's probably why he's acting strangely."

"Tony! You just told me my baby cousin is beat up!"

He sighed in exasperation and looked to Mai for some help.

"Sheera, let's introduce ourselves, you can take him home so he can sleep, and then tomorrow you can fawn all over him when it's just you two. Isn't that what you would want if you were in his shoes?"

God bless you, Mai. Tony couldn't have said it better himself.

Sheera blew out a breath before nodding. "You're right." She pulled out another cigarette. Since the club was closed, Damien allowed smoking inside after hours. "I'd want to keep it to myself..."

Tony wandered off then looking for Caleb and Damien. He found Caleb spread across the seat of a booth. His long legs stretched out and held up by a random chair. Tony kicked the chair away and grinned when Caleb opened his eyes and glared.

"What the fuck, man?"

"I'm staying up. So are you."

Caleb sat up. "Thought you had to work."

"Sheera got me to drink an energy drink, so I'm up for hours." As he said this, Tony wasn't so sure it was actually the drink that had suddenly given him the energy he knew would last throughout the night. "Anyway, I'm calling in tomorrow."

"Tony, go and check on him at least!" Sheera called out.


"What's up? Check on who?"

"Shane. He's in the bathroom. He got into a fight or something… so now she's worried. He's eighteen, for chrissake's."

"Just go have a look." Tony glared at Caleb for saying it in that exact way. Noticing the intense glare, Caleb sat forward. "What's up with the look, man?"

"How to put this simply… Sheera's cousin in an eighteen year old with the face of an angel… a bruised angel anyway."

"Ah… and it's been two months." Caleb said knowingly.
Tony pushed away from the table with a growl, "get over that already. Not everyone needs sex in order to survive like you do."


"I'm going, woman!"

Tony ignored Caleb's wagging eyebrows and headed for the bathroom. He was only going to stick his head in and make sure the kid hadn't somehow drowned in the urinals, but when he crossed the thresh hold, he was then frozen on the spot.

The baseball cap was gone again, but now in the light, Tony could appreciate what Sheera had commented before. The guy did have great hair. It was a dirty blond,with a lot of natural golden strands spread throughout. Shane's hair flew out in all directions, even though Tony was sure the brat didn't keep like that normally.

Moving on… because he was so going to stand there and enjoy the view for as long as he could… Shane had removed his black jacket and was only in black slacks and a dark blue long sleeved t-shirt. And that shirt was being held up to his chin so that Shane could gently run his fingers over the scattering of dark bruises covering the front of his torso. Tony had a perfect view. Even though Shane was standing with his back to the door, he was facing one of the mirrors. The brat didn't see him standing still and ogling, because he was looking down and not staring at his reflection. Tony was staring at the reflection. The reflections of a toned front that obviously screamed sportsman. Tony shut his eyes in agony. God, what he would give to be able to touch…

"Fuckers," Shane suddenly hissed and Tony's eyes flew open to see the brat wince when he touched one particularly large welt on his side. "Ever see them again…"

"What are you gong to do, brat?" Tony asked as he walked in, and delighted in the deer caught in the headlights looked aimed at him. "You obviously didn't do a good job of protecting yourself the first time."

"There were four of them." Shane ground out, "and one of me."

He reached down, intent on buttoning his shirt back up, but Tony was having none of that. Besides, he really was concerned. Now that he was standing directly in front of Shane, he could see the damage better, and it looked worse up close then it had from the reflection. He felt unusually angry as he knelt and studied the bruises on Shane's stomach and chest.

"Hey, what are you-"

"Just let me see. I'm already down on my knees." Despite his anger, Tony took great pleasure in seeing the brat blushing furiously at his words. "Hold still."

"Whatever." The flat tone nearly had Tony grinning, but he was intent on studying the bruises as he lifted his fingers to the bruised tender flesh.

"When did this happen?"

"Do you really care?"

"Suppose I do. You're Sheera's cousin… and besides, four against one pisses me the fuck off."

"Happened couple of days ago…" Tony looked up into his face, saw he was looking away, biting his lip as Tony pushed and prodded. But something was strange about the look in the brat's blue eyes. And when Tony slid his whole hand over and lightly caressed the colored skin with his palm, the brat's breath hitched and his face flushed more.

"Sorry. Did that hurt?" Tony asked and studied the blue eyes.

"Ye- yeah."

Liar! Jesus, but Tony saw the lie clearly in Shane's eyes. For one reason, he hadn't applied any pressure at all when Shane had made that sound, and secondly, those gorgeous eyes were so expressive and Tony could recognize surprised arousal when he saw it. He wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not. Did this mean the brat liked men? Or was he simply reacting to gently hands caressing his skin?

It was probably a blessing that Damien decided to make his entrance just then, because Tony wasn't sure if he could have stopped himself from finding out a definite answer. "Tony! You bastard!" The blond rushed over and completely ignored the mortified brat and glared down at him with his hands on his slender hips.

"Calm down, Damien," he began.

"Calm down! CALM DOWN! You're already on your fucking knees and he hasn't even been here for ten minutes. You didn't even give me a chance-"

Tony suddenly stood and towered over his effeminate friend, glowering at him and effectively cutting off his rant. "Did you even look at his face?" he asked Damien and wondered how much Shane had picked up from Damien's screeching. He wondered if the brat thought Damien was only joking.

"Well, no… I was too busy noticing you were about to blow him!"

"Damien, do me a favor. Shut up and go get your makeup kit."

The blond cut off his rant, snapping his teeth together, and finally looked at Shane's face, before trailing his eyes down the brat's visible front and his eyes grew to saucers. "Oh, hun, what happened to you? You poor thing!"

Tony studied Shane as he was being fawned over and couldn't help but feel pleased with the brat's response. His eyes shone with exasperated amusement, though every once in a while they would get all shy when shifting to look at him.

"Hey, man. That tickles," Shane was saying as Damien started to poke an area of his stomach not injured. Tony slapped Damien's hand away.

The blond looked amused, " staking claim already, Tony?"

"That's not it at all. The guy needs to get fixed up, and you molesting him isn't going help."

"But you know me…" then his attention returned to Shane, " sorry hun, but you're not my type."

Shane snorted. "Not offended. Promise."

"Can you get your make up and fix his face?" Tony asked again.

"Hey wait a minute. No one is putting any makeup on my face!"

"Fine then. Let's go. I know Sheera is going to explode in here at any moment. Worried about the innocence of her poor baby cousin…" Tony shrugged and left Shane with Damien, smirking when he looked over his shoulder to find Shane watching him walk away with an unreadable expression.

"Where's Shane?" was the first thing demanded when he stepped out of the bathroom.

"In the bathroom with Damien."

"YOU LEFT HIM WITH OUR QUEER QUEEN?!" she screeched. Tony groaned and rubbed his ears as he moved away.

"I may have no hearing left…"

"FAG HAG!" Damien yelled from within the bathroom, and then when he and Shane emerged, he pointedly looked at Tony. "Besides, Tony's the one you should be worried about. He was the one down on his knees in front of your cute baby cousin when I walked in."

Oh Goddammit! Tony jumped out of his seat and took off running just as a pointed heel nearly connected with the side of his head. "It wasn't like that! Hey, brat, tell her!" Tony called as he spotted the scary Sheera chasing right behind him.

"Stop calling me brat, and maybe I will."

Tony gave up on thinking he was going to get help when he noticed the rest of his friends had already crowded around the grinning boy, introducing themselves, leaving him all alone to deal with his furious best friend who somehow had managed to remove the other shoe while running full out at the same time.

"Sheera I was only checking his bruises! I swear! He's got them everywhere."

Apparently it was the right thing to say because Sheera left the chase and went back to Shane. When Tony was sure she wasn't going to come after him again, he then made his way, slowly, back to the group and noticed Sheera was just barely restraining herself from fawning all over Shane.

Everyone commented on his bruises, but they were more like teasing him, and that did a lot to calm the guy down and helped him relax. Shane didn't have any problems at all adapting himself into the group once he realized no one was there to hurt him, or more importantly, criticize him for something Tony had yet to figure out what that was.

Sheera was looking exceptionally pleased. Tony knew she was happy her cousin fit in with their group so well, but also that Mai, Caleb, and Damien seemed to really like Shane as well. Tony supposed he could see why the brat had been accepted so easily. Not only was it because he was Sheera's cousin and she had asked, but mostly it was because the kid was hard not to like. He smiled a lot, easily slid in with the group's banter, and wasn't afraid to talk straight with any of them. It was refreshing watching him interact with them.

It was nearing three in the morning; they were sitting at the regular reserved table, when Shane told Sheera they needed to go. It was obvious the kid was having a hard time keeping his eyes open. Once again he kind of found himself lost in those eyes…. It should be illegal for eyes to be that big and blue.

Damien's kick broke him out of that thought and Tony realized he was being spoken to. "You going to say goodbye, or are you going to keep staring him down?"

"Shut up." He said to the blond. "See you two later."

Sheera blew him a kiss and flounced away. Tony raised an eyebrow when Shane hung back and pinned him with a look, indecision swimming in those eyes. Tony gripped his glass of water a little more tightly when the brat approached him, looking adorably sheepish.

"I ah... Um… Sorry for being such a dick to you when we first met. At the airport…"

Tony waved his apology away with a smirk. "It was expected coming from a brat like you."

Shane grinned. " Asshole."

When Sheera and Shane were gone, Tony got lost in thoughtland and missed the looks passing between his remaining friends.

"You better watch yourself." Mai said to him at last. Tony blinked at her, not understanding.

"Yeah, man," Caleb went on. "When you meet someone who's captivated your attention, as in prime boyfriend material, you tend to stare intensely at them as if trying to figure out their soul."

Caleb shrugged. "Guess you never noticed you did it, but we've all seen that look on your face enough times to know what's going on inside… not that you've done it in a while."

"Actually I can't remember the last time you took such an interest in a guy. The last time was a few years ago I think," Mai said in contemplation.

"And you can bet Sheera noticed what you were just doing," Caleb ended.

"I don't know what you think you're trying to imply…"

Damien grinned at him. "I think it's cute. He's more your type anyway."


Mai laughed. "I like him! What about you guys?"

"He'll do nicely." Damien answered with a snobbish air. "Maybe we can convince him to stick with our little group even when he does find new friends."

This, of course, surprised all around as Damien was hard to impress. Tony was slightly wary by the scheming look appearing in those cold blue eyes.