So I'm finally back with a new, full-length story. The story is complete. It is 36 chapters and an epilogue, totaling around 115,000 words. I will answer any reviews, probably at the end of the next chapter. (This is excluding flames; those will be ignored.) Right now I plan to update once a week. (So, a new chapter every Monday.) This might change.

Also… this story isn't perfect. Some willing suspension of disbelief would be nice in a few places, okay?

Next, if you don't like the story, no one is making you read it. (And if they are… well… don't take it out on me, okay?) Just hit the little back button and don't finish the story. It's as simple as that.

It has only been edited once, by me. If you find any mistakes, please let me know so I can go back and fix them.

Finally, and most importantly, this story is dedicated to Mitch. Who asked for a story based around characters named Mitch and Corey (he gave me options other than Corey, but Corey is the only one I remember…). And that is where this whole thing came from.

Warnings: This story contains boyxboy scenes. You know, if you didn't get that when you read "slash" in the summary. And it's not exactly a pleasant story. It involves prostitution and illegal drug use. There is language (nothing new there). I feel like there is another warning I need to give, but I honestly can't think of it at the moment.

So on with the story, yeah?

KiyoshiTanaka and Kiyoshi

Take My Pride

Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.—Kahlil Gibran

Corey Blake

Sometimes loneliness makes the loudest noise.—Aaron Ben-Zeév

"Get out!" Corey Blake screeched. "Get the fuck out!"

The man he was screaming at, Dominic Nunez, just raised his dark eyebrows disdainfully at the younger man. "Fine, Corey," he said. "Have it your way. I'll get out." He turned on his heel and left Corey steaming at the ears in the pristine apartment. It was something of a miracle that nothing had been broken.

That was four days ago. Today, when Corey arrived home, half the closet was empty and the spare key was taped to a note on the kitchen counter.

Corey—go fuck yourself—Dominic

Corey sat and stared at the note. Then he picked it up and stormed to his car, not bothering to wait for the valet. He climbed in and sped out of the parking garage, taking turns at dangerous speeds and running red lights until his yellow sports car screeched to a halt in front of his manager's building.

He all but chucked the keys at the valet and stormed past the doorman; both knew him well enough to stay clear of the storm.

No one joined him on the elevator, and he stopped at the fifteenth floor. He went inside and began pounding on his manager's door. "Joey! Joey, open the fucking door!" he screamed.

Joey appeared nearly two minutes later, wearing nothing but a pair of pajama pants, rubbing sleep from his eyes. "God, Corey, what do you need? It's three in the morning."

Corey waved the paper in Joey's face and snarled, "Do you see this? Do you see it? How dare that bastard—!"

Joey blinked and blearily read the five words scrawled in the handwriting he'd grown accustomed to seeing in the past two and a half years. He looked at Corey and said, "Corey, we've warned you I don't know how many times. If you didn't start doing something different, he was going to leave you. You had two and a half years to change and you chose not to. I guess Dom reached his breaking point."

"Why the hell should I change?" Corey hollered. "Why shouldn't he change?"

"He did, Corey. He changed so much for you. But you never noticed, not once. Now get out of my apartment so I can go back to sleep," Joey snapped at him.

Corey worried his lip for several long moments and then turned on his heel and left, slamming the door so hard a glass fell off of one of the shelves, shattering across the floor.

Corey slammed his own front door a few minutes later. Before the echoes had died, he was reclining on his couch, bottle of whiskey in hand. If Joey wouldn't help him, Jim Beam would.

When Corey awoke the next afternoon, his head was pounding and it was all he could do to drag himself from the white couch and into the bathroom. The taste in his mouth was very nearly enough to make him vomit, so he brushed his teeth and relieved himself.

He then proceeded to swallow several pain pills and a glass of water. He then made his way to the kitchen and pulled a beer from the fridge. There weren't many left, so he made the bad decision to shout, "Nicki, we'll need more beer soon!" As the shout echoed in Corey's head, he realized that Dominic wasn't answering. And he wasn't answering because he wasn't here. And that was why Corey had gone and gotten wasted in the first place. "Fuck." He pulled out all the remaining beers and returned to his place on the couch.

He was halfway through his third bottle when Joey stormed into the apartment. "Where the hell were you, Corey? We had to cancel practice because of you again and now we're way behind! If we don't practice that new song we won't be able to perform it at the next show. Goddamn it, Corey, are you listening to me?"

Corey looked up at him dazedly. Joey scowled and went to the kitchen where he filled a pitcher with ice and water, but mostly ice. He then dumped it on his wayward singer's head.

"Ouch!" Corey fairly shrieked as he was pelted by ice. "Aw, fuck, Joey, you ruined my couch!"

"You're a rock star," Joey snarled. "Buy a new one. And if you miss another practice, so help me, Corey…"

He let his threat trail off, not needing to finish. Joey had threatened Corey more times than he'd threatened the other band members combined. The only time Corey seemed to listen was when he was on acid and then he had panic attacks over it, and ultimately didn't remember the details anyway. Joey wasn't completely sure why he hadn't given up yet. But he needed Corey to understand.

And Corey was best handled by being shouted at and then ignored; he would soon come crawling back to Joey begging for forgiveness.

As far as Joey was concerned, this time it was going to take a lot of begging.

The begging never came.

Corey did show up for practice, but he showed up drunk or high or both. He kept forgetting the lyrics to the newest songs and inserting his own words, most of which didn't make sense and didn't even match the timing.

Joey thought about threatening him, but realized it would do no good. Corey was hung up on Dominic and nothing anyone said would fix that. However… "Okay, guys, we're not doing too well today, but I'll give you points for effort," Joey said. "Pack up and then we can go to a club. Entrance fee is on me." Corey's eyes lit up from the inside, lending them a very odd, nearly demonic glow.

Joey turned away, feeling slightly guilty. He felt bad about enabling Corey, but in the past, when he'd had smaller breakups with Dominic, Corey just needed to party and party hard all night long for a single night. Then he'd be so sick that Dominic would take pity on him and come nurse him back to health. Joey knew it wasn't the best method, as none of Dominic and Corey's relationship problems were solved, but it got Corey back to the music. And while he liked the members of R.H.A., taking care of their broken hearts was not his job; making sure they got to all their shows on time and knew all their music was his job, and if enabling Corey was the only way to get that done, so be it.

Joey looked at Corey. He wasn't a bad kid, not really. He got drunk, but didn't use any kind of drug other alcohol, with the exception of when he had a bad fight with Dominic. Or in this case, a permanent breakup. And Joey knew it was permanent this time.

The other thing to be said for Corey was that, no matter his other faults and no matter how drunk he got, he had never once cheated on Dominic. And Joey knew that Dominic had gotten drunk a couple times and slept with a stranger. Dominic had confessed to him but never told Corey. It was that confession that told Joey they wouldn't last. He'd been betting against himself on how long it would last and at two years five months and twenty four days—according to Corey and discounting the minor three-day break ups that occurred every few months—the relationship had lasted nearly a year longer than he'd initially expected. He had felt guilty from the beginning that he was keeping that information from Corey, but it wasn't his business. He had no intention of meddling. Not to mention the fact that Corey wouldn't listen to him anyway.

But when Dominic told him about the one night stands, how he hadn't told Corey and didn't intend to, Joey knew that no matter how much the two men thought they loved each other, they would never last. Corey wasn't willing to change at least a little bit for Dominic, and Dominic wasn't willing to offer Corey total honesty, something Corey needed.

Something Corey needed on a level deeper than Joey felt he could grasp.

Joey loaded the band members into his car, knowing perfectly well that they were all going to get wasted and most of them would disappear with someone before the night was through. The exception was likely going to be Karen, keyboardist and sole female, the only member of the band who was attached in any kind of stable relationship, now that Dominic and Corey were through. Not that theirs had been a particularly stable relationship anyway.

But Joey didn't intend to drink so he could drive them all safely, assuming anyone remained alone.

They arrived at the club and made their way inside, bypassing the people at the door. It was Corey and Lance who did that; the rest of them just followed their lead as they had all done since they were freshmen in high school when the five band members had really originally gotten together and grown close, before they had been 'discovered' and Joey had become their manager.

Joey paid, as promised, and they entered the dark club. It was the only place they ever went as a group, since it catered to virtually everyone, gay, straight, bi. The straight clubs had always pissed Corey off and, even if they didn't have a problem with it, gay bars and clubs made the rest of them—except Karen—uncomfortable.

Corey and Stefan disappeared almost immediately, Stefan with a blonde who had squealed upon seeing and recognizing the drummer and Corey to the bar. At least Joey assumed that's where he was going.

He would have been correct. Corey sat down at the bar without a word and placed some money on the table. The bartender raised his eyes and asked, "What can I get you?"

Corey gestured him closer and murmured, "Some of the E you've got stashed."

The bartender smirked, pocketed the cash and slipped a small bag to Corey. No one noticed in the dark club and no one heard over the pulsing beat of the music. Corey accepted the drugs and made his way to a back corner of the club, where he swallowed the drugs and waited for them to kick in.

The next time Joey spotted Corey was two and a half hours after entering and Corey was sandwiched between two men, grinding against one and obviously enjoying the feel of the other one more or less dry humping against his ass. Joey put a hand to his head. Perhaps this hadn't been such a good idea after all. The club was notorious for keeping drugs behind the bar, and it was obvious that Corey was on something, most likely ecstasy, possibly a cocktail of some sort.

Suddenly a girl came and stole one of the two men away. Corey didn't even seem to notice, just swinging his arms back to grab the hips of the man behind him in order to press against him more fully. The man threw his head back in obvious pleasure.

Joey made to walk towards them to keep Corey from doing something stupid, but Karen caught his arm. "Joey, leave him be," she murmured.

"But he'll—"

"Joey, he needs to forget. Give him that much," Karen whispered. "And you know Corey. He won't sleep with strangers, even when he's drunk and high. And because of the drugs he'll probably believe he'll be back with Dom in a few days, meaning he's even less likely to do something. Just let him dance."

Joey nodded.

He continued watching Corey for the rest of the night, just in case. He wouldn't stop the younger man from dancing and acting like a slut, but he would keep Corey from sleeping with someone he didn't know. Corey would hate Joey for ruining a chance at getting laid, but it would only last one night; if he slept with someone he didn't know, Corey would never forgive himself.

And then one of R.H.A.'s songs came on, a slower one. It was by no means bad for dancing; it simply elicited a different kind of dancing. It drew slow and sensual movements from the crowd, as opposed to the previous frantic, carnal grinding. It was no less sexual than before.

It was a song Corey had written for Dominic as a one year anniversary present, although very few people knew that bit.

The song wasn't even half over when Corey stumbled over to Joey and purred, "Take me home. This song has me really horny, Nicki. I want you."

Joey pried Corey's hands off his shirt and said, "Okay, Corey, let's get you home."

Corey smiled brightly. "Perfect," he purred, grinding himself against Joey's thigh, revealing that he was hard.

Joey had ceased to feel ill after the sixth time Corey came onto him like this; he knew Corey didn't mean anything by it—especially when he was calling Joey by his nickname for Dominic—and Corey never once made a move on him when he was sober. Joey had actually learned to be thankful that Corey had a predisposition for trying to get in his pants when he was high; at least he was trying to get in the pants of someone who actually cared for him and who had his best interests in mind.

And his best interests at the moment involved leaving the club, grabbing some food on the way home, and then sleeping it off on Joey's couch.

He looked around and spotted Karen. "Karrie!" he shouted. She came over and he asked, "You know where Lance, Stefan and Alexander are?" He was trying to ward of Corey's unwanted kisses, fearful he was going to have a hickey to deal with by the time he got Corey off of him.

Karen nodded. "Alexander left with two blondes and a redhead about two hours ago," she yelled back.

"Three?" Joey demanded.

Karen nodded. Joey closed his eyes and tilted his face up to the heavens, asking for patience. There was only so much of the bassist's antics he could handle, particularly when dealing with a heartbroken Corey. The press were going to go wild over this. Alexander was notorious for sleeping with any female who would have him, and he was nearly as famous for his threesomes as he was for his brilliant bass guitar playing. But for him to involve himself in a foursome was a new low; if Joey didn't watch out, the next thing he knew, Xander was going to be having an all-out orgy.

"The others?" he asked over the music, still trying to keep Corey far enough away that the man couldn't latch onto his neck, but that he wouldn't offend him either. He didn't need the singer more upset than he already was.

"Stefan is passed out at the bar," Karen said loudly. Suddenly she smirked evilly. "Lance disappeared into the men's bathroom about thirty minutes ago." Joey frowned. If Lance was gone that long, they should be worried, not amused like Karen seemed to be. But then she explained, "He was dragging another man along with him. It would appear our dear Lancelot has decided to channel his inner gay man."

It was a running joke in the band that Lance was gay and in denial. Joey wasn't so sure, the way Lance ogled beautiful women. He did suspect the man was bicurious at the very least. He also wondered if something had happened between Lance and Corey at some point in the past, as they were almost too comfortable hugging and teasing each other in a very raunchy manner. At the same time, that could have been because they had known each other for nineteen years.

But Joey just nodded and shouted, "I'm taking Corey home now. You think you can collect Stefan? And Lance if you can manage it?"

Karen nodded and disappeared into the crowd as Joey hauled Corey towards the exit. They got to the car and Corey tried to pull Joey into the back seat. Joey resisted, which made Corey pout. Then the younger man spread his legs wantonly and growled, "Come on, Nicki, you know you want me."

"Not tonight, Corey," Joey said gently. "I want you sober first."

Corey blinked then said, "Can we cuddle at least?"

Joey nodded, relieved that Corey's rather innocent, romantic side had appeared in place of the lustful, slutty one he was just displaying. "Yes, Corey, we can."

Corey was in the front seat in a mere second, sitting in the middle and obviously waiting for Joey to get in. Joey obliged him and Corey snuggled into his side. Joey wouldn't do this if he thought Corey would remember it in the morning. The only thing Corey ever seemed to remember about his party nights, however, was how good he felt.

Karen suddenly shoved Stefan into the backseat and climbed in after him. Lance got in on the other side. Both men immediately filled the car with the stench of alcohol. Joey sent up a silent prayer that he didn't get pulled over, since he currently had two men intoxicated beyond belief in his car, filling it with a stench so strong police would be sure to use a breathalyzer on him. Not to mention the fact that Corey was still high on illegal drugs.

But he just pulled out of the parking lot, doing his best to ignore Corey nuzzling up against his side.

Suddenly Lance began babbling drunkenly. Lance was generally quiet and brooding, except around Corey. It was the thing that endeared him to many of their young, female fans. But when he got drunk, he was talkative and downright annoying.

"Corey—hey Corey—Corey, I totally understand why—why you'd wanna fuck a—fuck a guy. I thought it was weird, but then I tried it tonight and—and—and women are better but he was so tight and hot. Very hot. I think—I think that I might continue fucking guys for a while."

"Mm," Corey mumbled into Joey's shirt. "It's nice, to fuck guys. Better when they fuck you though. Feels so good." He nestled in closer to Joey and mumbled, "Like Nicki. Nicki's cock is perfect. Feels so good when he fucks me."

And then he fell asleep on Joey's shoulder. Joey sighed in relief and nearly laughed at the look of revulsion on Lance's face at the suggestion that he should let another guy fuck him instead. He took them through a drive through and got each of the men a hamburger—not that Corey ate his—before dropping Lance, Karen and Stefan at their respective apartments.

After leaving everyone at their various buildings, Joey drove back to his own, where he put Corey to bed on his couch. "Love you, Nicki," Corey yawned before falling back to sleep.

Joey smiled sadly at the twenty three year old. He could only hope that Corey would feel better in the morning.