This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.

Work it out Genius

Chapter 01



I shift my gaze from the neon red letters of my alarm clock on the floor back to the ceiling, staring at the soft light of glow-in-the-dark stars stuck to the pebbled surface. In the bracken darkness of my room, broken only by the half-closed laptop on my desk, and the iPod screen clutched weightlessly in my hand, they shone like little beacons, bringing a spark of life to my tiny, barren room.

It was now, awake and melancholic in the gloom, I wondered about who had this room before me. What possessed them to get a chair, assuming they weren't a vertical freak of nature, and stick stars on the angled ceiling? Were they a struggling, sleep-deprived student too? A child perhaps?

A girl?

During the day it isn't the sort of thing I spend anytime dwelling on. But now that I'm thinking about it, in the dark, alone, I realise.

I don't give any more of a crap now either.

Exhaling wearily, I press my thumb down on the 'next' button. Joyless notes peels through my tiny, black, skull-shaped earphones.

So tedious.

My door opens unexpectedly. I half-sit up with a frown, more curious than startled, wondering who on earth could possibly be at/in/entering my door in this post-witching hour.

"Hey," I greet softly, recognising the figure squeezing past threshold of my room, and setting his bag down inside my door even with the lights off.


My best and closest friend since the first week of college, four and a bit years ago. I'd fallen out of touch with rest of the mob of friends I had whilst I had been living on college. All of us gone our separate ways. All of us, except him.

He pretty much had carte blanche with me nowadays.

Though fortunately, he wasn't the type to take advantage of my permissive trust.

His shadow looms over me as he reaches past me and gathers up the explosion of papers, notes and research articles at my side and resolutely shoves them into a pile, and drops them in a heap in one of the rare parts of the rickety panel floor that wasn't likewise covered with books and scattered sheets.

I quirk an eyebrow at him when he plops down with a huff beside me, filling the remaining space between me and the wall my futon was pressed against.

He doesn't take advantage much I should say.

I don't care at all about him shoving the papers out of the way. It was work related and I had long since abandoned interest for the night. I would have done the same. Look up Galen Lake in the dictionary and beside my picture you'd see; Dour, Brooding and Sarcastic. Shoving stuff out of the way once I'm done with them was expected behaviour for me. But for Kristian O'Connell, not as such.

With a deft move of my thumb I reft my earphones out of my mp3 player's speaker jack. Soft music courtesy of R.E.M fills my tiny room. I toss my earphones over in the direction of my bag. I don't hear the sound of them landing with a click on the floor, so I gather my aim had been successful. Task done, I allow the music to wash over us for a couple minutes.

"You wanna talk about it?" I enquire softly breaking the silence.

Beneath cold, misanthropic jerk, in my dictionary metaphor, let it not be said that in very small script, that it doesn't say 'secretly compassionate and protective of friends.'

Kristian exhales wearily, staring blankly at the ceiling, lips set in a thin line. I know only too well the expression he wore. The mark of a bad day. Typically though, I owned that look. I wore it pretty much all the time these days since I started my Honours, a year of intensive and physically and emotionally demanding research. I'd left campus at the start for this cheap, rundown share-house.

I could walk the length from my door to the opposite wall if my room in three large steps, the width even narrower. When I moved in, since I didn't have a bed, I had to make do with just a futon on the floor. By the time I could save enough on a student's budget to get a bed frame, I was too used to the futon to bother setting a bed up. Not to mention this was easier on the space. I could barely move in the room around my desk, cupboard, bookshelf and futon as it was, and leant it against the wall in the day for practicalities sake. A complete bed would have meant I couldn't move at all.

I didn't really care about the size of the room much, it was only for a year and then I could justify having a life (and bed) again. The advantage of the room compared to living on college, was it was cheap and quiet. Well, it 'was' quiet on the day I visited. Turns out the neighbouring house was council flats, i.e. for the perpetually unemployed, ergo, domestic violence central. Anything but quiet at night.

A bit of an epic fail with that decision.

Kristian glanced sideways at me for a moment considering my question, before staring back at the ceiling.

"Not particularly," he answered somberly, though still looking quite conflicted to my eye.

The song on my iPod swaps over to a haunting flute solo. It was part of my midnight moods list, a collection of soft melodies and instrumentals designed not to interfere with my focus whilst studying.

"Why are you up so late, don't you start early tomorrow?" He asked.

"Couldn't sleep," I answer. "Same question?"

"Same answer," he replied automatically.

"You live across town," I state matter-of-factly without accusation. In truth I'm grateful for the company. I don't feel like sleeping tonight.

Kristian frowns but says nothing, just exhales heavily. My eyes examine him closely for several seconds, noting the clenched jaw and tense position. I roll onto my side and lean across the short space between my futon and my cupboard, pulling it open to grab a spare pillow from the lowermost shelf. Sometimes being in such a tiny room had advantages. I toss the pillow onto his stomach, and lean back on the one already under my head.

He lifts the pillow from his stomach and rotates it in his hands. With a deft flick he tosses it in the air and catches it. He repeats this mindless action a couple times before shoving it underneath his head.

Our arms touch.

My skin tingles where our arms have come into contact. I suppress and urge to shiver, and glance at his face.

He's staring at the stars again.

Compared to me, he's a god among men. My unkept brown hair, muddy, forest green eyes and, sun-starved complexion tends to render me invisible in a crowd. I was entirely remarkable in my unremarkable-ness. Please file Galen Lake under 'yawn'.

In contrast, Kristian's natural bronzed skin hue, dark tresses and sapphire blues elevated him more to the 'Sin' category. The type that made you bite your lip, suppress a threatening groan, and go home and touch yourself.

"I wanted to ask you something important," he said out of nowhere, turning to face me, expression firm.

My brows contract in a small frown and I feel myself tense up, wary.

"What did you want to ask?" I return after a heavy pause.

My brain was paralyzed with the intensity of the look he was giving me.

Kristian pushes himself up with one hand. I move to sit up as well, surprised at his sudden shift, however his arm pushes my upper body back down onto my pillow. Before I can contemplate the action, he is over me, on top of me, around me, his body covering mine.

An ironclad grip holds my neck and jaw. My eyes, surprised and fearful, look up into determined blue steel. The hand on my neck pulls me towards him and soft lips press themselves firmly against my own.

I'm startled beyond measure, but as he dominates my body, my unconsciousness dominates my will. I feel disconnected from reality. My neck arches up and my lips move automatically in turn with his, following his leading ministrations without a thought or single contemplation. It's as if my body had simply hit the disconnect button to my brain, and I'm just the helpless passenger along for the ride. It's exhilarating.

And terrifying.

After what feels like hour he releases my lips, and with his hand still controlling my motion, shoves me down hard into the mattress.

I'm panting hard, trying to catch my breath, dimly aware of my aching hardness threatening to bust apart my boxers.

"What do I want to ask?" he says, his body weighs down heavily over mine.

"Work it out genius."

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