Losing My Head.
The warm water hit my back like an earthquake, suddenly and indefinitely, but all I could focus on was him. The sudden sense of candle wax on my finger tips burning as I gripped the edges of the tub — the fact that it should hurt — was lost. He pushed me, work uniform and all, slowly into the water. I let my eyes fall everywhere else but on his; the black glass ceiling, the granite walls, the lowly lit floor lamp in the corner laughing at my clumsiness, giving the room a calm feeling, the stars in the skylight, the lagging murmur of the tv in the other room, but it didn't matter. His hands, then his arms drove up my sides, around my neck, in my damp hair and he kissed me, still slowly. My world became his and I held him, kissed him back and felt him on top of me, naked.
He leaned away and placed his forehead on mine, my neck in his arms and his dark eyes closed. He breathed, heavily, happily, then opened his eyes, staring at me like I was his world—like we were something different to each other, finally.
"I love you," he whispered against me, a small laugh reaching out between us. "I really really love you."
Marcus Hanover wakes up to find both of his grandmother's big brown eyes staring at him, searching him. In his groggy state he lets his head slide off of her mattress and drags his body up, sitting in a wooden chair beside her bed. The smell of tapioca pudding quickly steals his breath. Rich, thick, slimy tapioca pudding made my Miss. Daae, who had lost her voice at seventeen. It's engulfing his grandmother's room like a wet blanket, and Marcus hates tapioca pudding. He can't believe he's waking up to it.
"Marcus, dear?" Her voice is like warm butter on toast. Or maybe he's hungry. "Are you feeling alright?"
He wipes the thick layer of drool from his lips, hardly coherent, but that has nothing to do with sleeping. "I'm fine, Gram."
"Are you sure, dear? You've been asleep for almost an hour."
He smiles at his grandmother, heavy eyes somehow portraying the pure joy his soul feels. "I'm sure."
He sets his eyes down to the paper, beginning the sixtieth canto of In Memoriam. He's been reading poetry and novels to his sick grandmother for nine months now. Everything from Donne to Dickens, to Pratchet, King, and even Rowling one week, when she'd wanted to feel just a little magical. Marcus has been learning more here, every night, than he's ever learned sitting in a classroom. Than he's ever learned watching the news with his little-democratic sister (who very strongly believes that Obama and Harper need to have a serious talk over tea and hotcakes), more than arguing with his parents about (why don't you go visit your mother once in awhile, dad? You know she's—) family matters, politics, life. Marcus is pretty sure he's learned more than he knows what to do with, reading to a dying woman every night.
He's also pretty sure he's going insane.
He reads until they're at the hundredth canto, until it's eight o'clock like every night, and he kisses her left cheek before he leaves. Her skin is rough, and he can almost feel the eighty-three years of experience covering it. She smiles at him, the stars shine through the window, and for one of the few times in his life he's calm. Going insane can be comforting, because it means you were sane at some point, and he really feels rather happy. So what does it matter if his father drinks and his mother cries and his little sister is turning out to be insightful and mature beyond her years to cover it up?
By the time his feet reach the school, Marcus can't feel his fingers. The street lights are on, and Saint Augustus High is beaming in all its red-brick glory, but he can't feel his fingers. The air is freezing, he's thirty minutes late, and he can't feel his fingers. Marcus really likes his fingers. They help him do everything. Who doesn't like their fingers? Marcus thinks people who complain about their fingers should try going without them for a day. He thinks the same thing about heads. Yeah, it might ache, but at least you have one.
"You're late." A very unfortunately familiar voice says as the front doors rush open, the placidly calm and deep sound waves slamming him in the face. "Again."
"Shut up." Marcus keeps his eyes to the cold white hallway floor, not bothering with a thank you as he enters the school. "Where's Mia?"
Mia is the light of his Evermore, the little bird sitting in a chestnut tree, the statue of liberty freeing his heart from Tartarus; she's black ink on white paper and the sunset in every evening of his life. She's the Estella to his Pip, Bella to his Sparkly Vampire. Mia Abigail Rose is etching herself into his brain daily, like a hybrid sickness. She's gluing herself to his sappy heart fixedly. She's a neon sign on a country road, blaring into his eyes across the dull rain in the middle of a cold night. Marcus Hanover loves Mia Rose with everything he's got. Or, at least enough to think up stupid analogies pertaining to statues, road sings, and popular fiction.
The bastard holding the door open for him is Tycho Rheed. He's one year younger, dark in every aspect except that he's white—too white—boring in every way except that just seeing him makes Marcus's joyful soul scream in agony.
"Looking for a mop." Rheed's voice is pale as he enters the school, but Marcus swears it doesn't piss him off. "We—"
But he can't keep back a hard shut up, because Rheed's voice shouldn't exists. It reminds Marcus of something between the saddest parade in the world marching through his very own brain, and Mickey Mouse on depressants. It's different. It's lacking umph. It's like a kick in the face that doesn't hurt.
"Don't tell me what to do," Rheed says to his shut up. Calm and clear and quiet; unmoving, eyes closed, and always, always there. Marcus can't stand Tycho Rheed, but he's always beside him. He's like a love-sick puppy who's more like a love-sick leach who'd rather be dead. Marcus hates him, because he likes being alive and can't imagine being dead like Rheed wants. Or like it feels like Rheed wants. Whatever.
Mia walks in from the theatre doors on Rheed's right, thick lashes sweeping up and down in the brightness. Even with a dirty, wet mop in her hand, Marcus can see nothing but golden eyes, rosy cheeks and big, blond hair. She's taller than Rheed, slender and elegant and lovely and everything else that Marcus can't help but adore. And when she looks at him, he wonders how he can still be on his feet.
She speaks, and her voice is like caramel. "We've gotta clean up in the gym tonight."
Marcus watches Rheed's eyes fall on Mia's soft face, watches them widen with recognition, slowly. He stares as Rheed's lips open, parting just barely because he's too depressing or lazy or stupid to bother opening his mouth all the way, and he says, "I'll do the sub level if you like."
"No, I'll take it," Marcus smiles at her, stepping in front of Rheed. Mia's afraid of the dark. Rheed's just trying impress her, like always, and it pisses Marcus off because he wants to impress her. He loves Mia a thousand times more than Rheed ever could, a million times more than anyone ever could! But the jackass still insists on trying to out due him every chance he gets.
Rheed doesn't move, doesn't flinch. He just closes his eyes like he's concentrating really hard on something. Probably something stupid. Then, apparently having found his words, Rheed says, "I'm smaller than you. I can fit into the vents."
"Shut up. I'm doing it," Marcus replies, staring at the wall to his left.
Rheed's been fighting him for Mia's attention for nearly three years now. Three years of I'm better no I'm better no love me, love me, no me! It's making Marcus sick. Can't Rheed see that she's never going to be impressed with his ugly body, black eyes, soft fingers, round shoulders, that stupid curve his back has no matter what he fucking wears—his long neck, calm face, neat hair, the fact that his eyes are too far apart—that his teeth are too white—the fact that he smells like a hot Sunday afternoon—that everything about Tycho Rheed is horrendously and totally and horribly wrong for her?
"No, I am."
"Look." Mia's voice cuts into his thoughts, like a butterfly over his heart. "Both if you can clean the sub level, and the pool, while you're down there." She looks from one to the other, hands on her hips and mop leaning against her. "Okay?"
Marcus can't even hear her.
She's so lovely...
Three hours of cleaning out the basement lands them, finally, at the pool. Thirty minutes into the bottom of Saint Augustus's pool has given Marcus nothing but a head ache and pruney, wet fingers. But, he remembers, at least he has a head and fingers.
He flies up to the surface of the dark but clear water, his usually fluffy brown hair slicked back and full of chlorine. The large lights hanging thirty or so feet above him are off for the night, but Rheed had somehow gotten the lights in the coach's office working, as well as the changing rooms, so there are steady streams of yellow rays shining around them. But it's musty and smells like feet, the walls are glowing kind of a green colour from the yellow light reflecting off the pool, and even though the room is huge, Marcus feels squished.
The vacuum is hanging a few feet below him, threatening to drag him under, and he almost wishes it would; except that would leave Rheed with Mia. Marcus doesn't even want to think about Mia's pretty little hands on his rough little body.
Wait... what? Rough? Rheed's body isn't... well maybe, in a bad way.
"Marcus!" He spins himself around, facing flat, dark hair and shallow, unemotional eyes. "Are you done yet?"
"Shut the fuck up." And he dives back under water, ignoring Rheed and his—apparently—rough body. He normally can't handle talking to him, and right now Marcus would rather drown in this green water than even look at Tycho Rheed. Something in the back of his head just screams at him whenever he does. It's always been there, but recently it's been getting harder to ignore. 'Shut up' isn't working as well as it used to. Rheed doesn't just stop talking. He gives Marcus this silent, almost affection stare, but it's always quick and hardly real, let alone rememberable afterwords. So Marcus might be making it up. He is going crazy, after all.
Either way, he will ignore it.
But he has to come up for air eventually, and when he does Rheed is standing, leaning over the edge of the pool, glaring at him. "If you tell me to shut up one more time I swear to god I'll pull the pool tarp over and watch you die."
Marcus laughs almost evilly and glares up at Rheed from the pool. "You wouldn't be able to watch me, you idiot."
It's an odd feeling, standing in cool water, staring up at him. Marcus hates it, he knows he does, but there's a soft light from the dirty window to the boy's changing room behind Rheed, dust in the air, chlorine making him dizzy, and the room is so big, so empty that everything echos. Everything Rheed says, Marcus has to hear twice. Marcus hates his voice. It's pale, and he wishes he had nothing to say about it. It's soft, and he wishes he didn't want to keep hearing it, just so he could figure out why it sounds so hallow. Why it makes him so angry when he's usually so happy.
"Don't call me an idiot." Rheed leans over, dark eyes turning a foggy green from the water's reflection, and the dust in the air shifts.
Marcus's chest feels like its trying to leave his body. "Don't act like one, then."
"What iswith you?" Rheed squats on the pool deck, only half a meter from Marcus, arms dropping over his knees. "Why do y—" but Marcus really hates Rheeds voice.
So he grabs his hands and pulls him into the pool.
With a roar from the forever hushed voice of Tycho Rheed, he flies over Marcus's head and the water is broken along with the tension, along with his composer, his dignity. The drops from the splash hit Marcus's face lightly, one by one, and he hardly believes what he just did. Why would he even? Where does he think this will lead? He'll be lucky if he only broke Rheed's neck with that stunt, head first into shallow water. What the hell is he thinking? Hatred is one thing, and murder is a completely different — unthinkable — thing.
But Rheed lifts himself up slowly, jaw clenched, not dead. His green sweater is clinging to him, dark eyes suddenly a flashy blue, undoubtedly vivid and pissed and looking so sick of being tired of this and anything but content. He's glaring at Marcus like he'd just slaughtered every child in the world. Like the devil himself was standing in that pool with him, three feet away, just as wet.
He raises a rough fists behind him, "You—" and lands a right hook on Marcus's jaw with a sharp crack, screaming, "—FUCKHEAD!"
Marcus's world spins a few times, and he staggers backwards, grabbing the edge of the pool behind him. Blood trails from his mouth, but really, what the hell did he expect? He's know Rheed for years. He knows better than anyone that he hates being pushed, shoved, or forced into something—that he hates being wet.
Marcus wipes the blood from his chin, never taking his eyes off his suddenly bright blue ones. He tries not to look too sorry, but he kind of is because he's crossed the line they'd drawn for each other over the years. He's crossed it by a million miles.
But Rheed gets in his face, standing on his toes, breath hot and voice lower than Marcus feels. "What the hell is your problem? Are you an idiot? I thought maybe you were being nice when you jumped into the water, I thought maybe you weren't as fucked in the head as I thought you were, but you are." He gets a little closer. "You really are just all—messed—up, aren't you? Why the hell would you—"
Marcus isn't sure why, but he backs himself up against the pool's wall in the middle of Rheed's livid sentence. Rheed only stops for a second, and it's more like a stagger anyway, but still, Marcus feels weird. Rheed needs to be taller than him right now, Marcus is sure, but he doesn't know the reason. He just looks to the left as Rheed continues snarling at him, not screaming, and his face is getting hot... "Why'd you do that? Why do you hate me so much? Is it Mia? Because really, Marcus, that's getting fucking old. You've known me for years. You know I don't..." Rheed stops short when a lanky hand find his cheek. "That I d-don't..."
Marcus isn't breathing, Rheed isn't breathing, and Marcus is worried. He's worried because the reason he's aware of Rheed's lack of oxygen intake is because he can feel it, and he can feel it because he's holding Rheed's cheek, jaw bone in his palm, staring at him, holding it and his world flips over like some celestial being had smacked it with a golf club. Marcus finds the idea of vomiting aristocratically pleasant, if not completely necessary at this exact moment. But what he doesn't know is that this urge to excrete his innards is caused by catatonic metaphorical 'butterflies' chewing at the walls of his stomach, and that it's perfectly normal.
But he plays with wet, black hair anyway; watches his eyes, his blue eyes that were green and are watching him back, attentive and tactfully aware that Marcus isn't wearing his shirt. Rheed's face is smooth. The feel is light, growing like something organic. It's making Marcus shake. This entire thing is making his legs weak. And Rheed keeps getting closer, but he's not the one moving — Marcus is.
Marcus doesn't like this.
"Wh..." Rheed's voice isn't pale. It's not placid, boring, and it doesn't hold any resemblance to anything Marcus has ever heard before. "What...?"
"I'm..." He lets every tip of every finger tangle itself in Rheed's hair. "...look, I just..." But he can't he can't he can't. Fuck he just can't.
With a flashy glare, Marcus Hanover pushes Rheed backwards, wearily watching the water wash over his body. He's not being particularly fast about getting out of the pool, and when he does get out he doesn't move with any sense of great urgency to leave the room, either. Incidentally, he's too angry with himself to be in a hurry. Too frighteningly pissed of at himself to bother drying off.
And he is not waiting for Rheed to ask him to stay.
Mia Rose gives Marcus a sideways glance as he leaves the school at nine-thirty-six with nothing but a pair of wet jeans on, but she doesn't say anything. She knows when to bother trying to beat words out of him, and she knows when to not. She's also very aware of everything he is oblivious to. The only question that's plagued her over the years is how to fix it.
She can hear Tycho pounding on the locked-by-a-certain-shirtless-pissy-school-boy pool doors, and so far she's got this figured out: Marcus and Tycho have been around each other for more than five years. Neither of them can hold a grudge, she knows, so how probable is it that they really hate each other? Well, Mia isn't good at math, so she doesn't know. However, Tycho is simple. Not in a stupid way, he jut doesn't overcomplicate things. And Marcus is a drama-queen. He's high-stung and edgy, so neither male is very capable of constant or actual hate. Secondly, she knows that something very wonderful for Tycho, and terrifyingly realistic and mind-opening for Marcus, just happened. She knows this because when she opens the pool doors, Tycho looks miserably happy.
The look of miserable happiness is quite a look to pull off. It normally surfaces in people's vices. You know you shouldn't, but you do anyway and you're happy until you realize what you've just done will fuck you over eventually. Lying, biting your nails, drinking, cuffing, murder—Mia's thoughts don't get much deeper than this. But she knows why Tycho is throwing his head at a wall with a big, stupid grin on his face.
"What happened what happened what happened?!" She asks, her voice like sugar.
Tycho stops and looks at her, eyes blue and wide. He smiles. "I'm such n'idiot, Mia."
"No you're not." She pouts and kisses his temple. "He walked out of here half naked and wet! What happened?"
Tycho tells her in the simplest way he can: "I punched him."
Mia places a gold fingernail on her cheek and thinks. Then grins.
"Maybe you knocked something loose."
Marcus Hanover's soul is screaming. He's laying in his bed, lights off, under his blankets, still wet and in his jeans. His sister is in her room, which is next to his, blasting Kim Esty and unfortunately whatever song she's singing is really happy, really mindless, and keeps throwing the word 'love' against the wall like he's missing something. He doesn't bother telling her to stop because music keeps her happy, keeps their parents out of her head, and he can't take that away from her. But his chest is aching, and his arms feel empty.
Marcus remembers the dream he'd had last night. He remembers everything from the room number on the white door to Rheed's happy eyes, naked shoulders, naked chest, naked legs — naked everything. He remembers being under him and grinning, calm like he never is; kissing him with the hot water on his clothed back. He'd remembered the dream when Rheed's eyes had turned blue, just before he'd almost...
They've always been a dark, foggy green. From the first day he'd met Rheed until all of fifty minutes ago, they'd looked about as happy to be alive as a corpse. Bleak, empty, and boring was everything Marcus saw in those eyes for more than five years, so he'd just assumed Rheed himself didn't think life was worth living, that he was boring and empty. But tonight they'd been blue. They might still be blue, and the thought makes his legs shake — a biotic blue with no fog, no recessive haze, nothing but reality and clarity and comprehensibility.
But his head hurts, his fingers are burning, he's wet, cold, and trying to ignore everything down of his naval because he shouldn't be turned on. Except he is, and years and years of staring at Rheed and ignoring his remarkable body are catching up with him all at once. His brain thinks Fuck, and everything down south replies with an insightful Exactly.
Hey :)I wrote this back in 2009… I didn't want to post it unless I knew I'd continue. I have the next part nearly done, so here!
I'm not sure how I feel about it, but I hope you like it. This is the first of three.
And please review :D