The Angels and Devils of Church Street

By isilwen & lilywood

Part One: Introduction

Kids their age should not have the funds it took to travel so far. Kids their age should not have identification that pinned them a blissfully-legal year over their real ages of seventeen. But most kids their age did not have the kind of friends they had – the lowest of the low with hearts of sterling silver, who in turn were the highest choir of street-angels the city of Saint Rapids had to offer.

Johnny Isaacson and Izzy Canton had grown bored in spite of their addiction to the city. With Johnny’s older brother, Caleb, and his husband, Carter, jaunting their way through Mexico, the boys had decided to follow in the footsteps of their idols and take a little vacation of their own. Traveling "so far" actually turned out to be a mid-July jaunt to Toronto, Canada – but for boys like these, eight hours away from home may as well have been eight light-years. For Johnny, who had not been in town very long, this was monumental. He had lived in the gutters of Liverpool with a group of rag-tag, pseudo-punks before moving to Saint Rapids a month ago. He was bade to come join his older brother there, after Johnny sent him a disturbing letter encoded in riddles and nursery rhymes (and references to finding the Emerald City, and this was why some called him "Oz") to reach out for help. The young boy had a rough life beneath the godly eyes of their mother, Anabelle Isaacson (now deceased: killed by Carter’s hand, and burned and buried in the basement of the warehouse they all lived in). Though he managed to work his way out of her home before dying inside its walls, it was not until this final move that he had become free. Free to be who he was, who he had always been, who he was punished for being beneath the hands of his mother. Free to explore sex, and hopefully love, the way he wanted. With boys.

That is where Izzy Canton appeared.

He had gone by the name of Izzy since his first week living in the remodeled warehouse. Whereas most people’s idealisms and dreams faded the closer they reached true adulthood, his had done the exact opposite. He had something to say about everything, and though he had introduced himself to the warehouse punks as Daxter, after the off-handed comments of "that boy talks so much he makes me dizzy!" "Yeah, but he ain’t a kid babbling with nothing to say, listen to him!" had come to pass, his name had morphed. Contrary to the life of his new and first-ever boyfriend, Izzy’s life had been relatively easy. His parents were laid back hippies to the very hilt of the word. When he came to them with the wish to go out on his own at the young age of sixteen, they did not stop him. Sent on his way with a mere $500 in his pocket, he had stumbled along the warehouse crew in a matter of weeks. Presently, he was "employed" by Carter; he was a messenger and delivery boy of sorts – he ran certain, sometimes-sordid errands between the warehouse, the café, and the riverbed, depending on how busy the older boy was.

That very job had provided the funding for two round-trip Amtrak tickets, a weekend’s worth of hotel stay in Toronto, and a chunk of cash to play around with. The boys had just crossed over the US-Canadian border, and Johnny was coiled up in the seats across from the idealist, fast asleep. Izzy smiled softly, still disbelieving that he could be so lucky. It was only natural that the two boys would migrate to each other upon Johnny’s arrival – they were the youngest of all the warehouse occupants, and had been unknowingly nudged together by Carter and Caleb Jaimeson. They had been roommates since the first night Johnny had arrived: after a catch-up session that Izzy had walked in on, which morphed into the two younger boys pretending they were not seeing the Jaimeson’s making out, he wound up being Johnny’s rescue for the night… and, every night thereafter.

Feeling compelled and caring little of what anyone else saw or thought, Izzy leaned over the space in between their seats and wrapped a slim-boned finger through a strand of Johnny’s soft, corn-silk blond hair. When they first met, when Johnny was fresh out of Liverpool, those lovely tresses had been a stark, spiked mess of green. Though the shade had complimented the boy’s pale, crystalline-green eyes, Izzy thought the blond shade did him far more justice. And, he recalled with the smallest smile, the day he got it stripped led into the night we first kissed. In his folded up position, the 5’10" boy of riddles and delusions was all sharp-lines and angles; he looked years younger, peaceful and angelic in his slumber. When the idealist finished toying with, and tucking hair behind Johnny’s ear, he traced the keen line of his jaw. In his sleep, the delusionist murmured; he twisted faintly and then turned onto his back, stretching a long, coltish leg out into the aisle.

Biting back a sigh of longing, Izzy leaned back into his seat and slid down a bit, so that he could stretch his own leg out across the space between and gently lay it atop of his boyfriend’s. Where Johnny was tall and carried himself with an almost elven grace, the idealist was shorter – by an inch, to be exact. Living out the lifestyle he had chosen meant a lean, wire-muscled body of his own, though if asked he would say without hesitation that Johnny was, by far, more beautiful. Still, Izzy was not bad looking. His eyes were too multi-faceted (autumn-burned leaves or the ice-filled bottom of a glass of bourbon) to simply be called hazel, and they were framed by semi-long strands of ashy-brown that were constantly falling over his forehead.

Izzy was just starting to doze off when the other boy stirred, and then woke. He was gently pulled from the land of twilight sleep by the tenor-scratched voice of his waking-dream; all tinged with the finest accent Liverpool had to offer.

"’ey, where we at, Izzy?"

"Good morning to you, too," the idealist grinned lazily, sitting up a bit in his seat. "We’re in Canada, that’s all I know. I think we’ve got one more hour left."

"Ahh, got ya. Sooo, why ya sittin’ way over there?"

"’Cause your punk ass took up the whole seat, so I had to sit over here!" For that little gem, Johnny lunged across the space between the seats, and within seconds had Izzy on his back, pinned by his wrists and a rather enjoyable boy straddling one of his thighs.

"An’ now I’m sittin’ riiiight over here." Johnny’s brow lifted, and after a coy little glance over his shoulder confirming that the smattering of passengers in their car were either sleeping or conversing amongst themselves, he leaned down and twisted his body in, until their foreheads touched.

"Yeah… yeah, you are. And you’re probably gonna get us kicked off this train before we get there," Izzy mused dreamily. In spite of his words, his jaw jutted to bring his lips closer to Johnny’s sneaky, smiling, and then claiming mouth.

"Aw, ya ain’t any fun, Daxxy," he crooned, using a pet name that Izzy would have killed anyone else for using, but from Johnny it was different; from him, it tasted just as gorgeous as it sounded. The delusionist did not let up any, though he did nudge with his knees, indicating that Izzy draw his own up so that their feet dangling out into the aisle would not give them away.

"Shut up and kiss me already," Izzy breathed, curling his fingers around the back of Johnny’s neck. He was too impatient at that point to wait for an answer, and instead dragged his mouth down against his own parted lips and searching, instantly stabbing tongue. The kiss boiled his blood more than usual; perhaps it was the fact that they had to stay quiet, and mostly still. That alone turned out to be one of the hardest things Izzy ever had to do, given how hard he was beneath faded denim.

"Looks like ya got yerself worked up there, huh?" teased Johnny in a fevered whisper while feasting off the idealist’s lips and tongue. It was teasing in vain and he very well knew it, because what he felt pressing heatedly against his pelvis had nearly sent him over the edge, too. Johnny groaned for it, soft and pitiably, breaking the kiss to bury his face against the curve of Izzy’s slender neck. "Jesus, an hour ya said?"

"Mm-hmm, something like that," Izzy whispered ruefully, tangling his fingers in the back of Johnny’s hair.

"Think you can wait that long? Actually, you’re gonna have to – ya get so bleedin’ noisy any time that I—"

Johnny found himself cut off with a tug of hair-wrapped fingers, and an upward lunge of Izzy’s hips. Biting back a gasp, he stared wide-eyed into pools of bourbon, helpless against grinding down against what he felt throbbing in tandem with his dick.

"Me? What about you?" Izzy countered, rocking upward, with teasing, light twists. "I’m afraid you’re gonna have a mess in your pants, baby, and what a waste that would be. But at least you’d calm down then, hmm?" It was always a tug-of-war with these boys: one minute, one of them would break the other, and then vice-versa. It was never a case of eye for an eye – they did not switch roles because one felt they owed it to the other: it was because they loved each other that hard, that deeply, because it was wanted. Because they could never get enough, and had connected on so many levels so quickly, that the need to make the other happy weighed the same as the need to be made happy. Their love went beyond the loops of infinity, and they would swear no one else in the world could possibly feel what they did. Nothing, they swore, would ever tear them apart.

In this instance, it was Johnny who wound up breaking first. With a resigned whimper buried against the hollow of Izzy’s throat, he collapsed and gave up the ghost. Rolling off to the side, he opted for tangling his legs up with his boyfriend’s, and trying to tame the erratic, shallow panting that wracked his body. He was not the only one tortured, not by a long shot; not with how wild Izzy’s eyes looked in those moments, smoldering like leaves burning in the middle of October, despite the summertime heat outside the air-conditioned train.

"Promise me you’ll rile me up later, then?"

"I’ll be riling you up until the end of the world, Johnny Isaacson." A promise the idealist did not hesitate in granting, and had sealed with a firm, close-mouthed kiss.

 

 

Part Two: Arrival

The taxi pulled up to a large, historic-looking house just after four in the afternoon. While Izzy fumbled around with money (bills he probably would not be used to until it was time to leave), Johnny grabbed their bags out of the trunk. The boys were staying in the Banting House Inn off Wellesley Street, which was a mere block away from the illustrious Church Street strip. They had talked long and hard about not acting like "tourists," although Izzy’s frustration with the money had given them away to the cab driver (who was, thankfully, a very patient man).

"I thought it was yer idea to blend in, ya Yankee tourist?" Johnny quipped while the two climbed the large, stone steps to the front door.

"Shut up, limey. I know how to count and everything, but just… got thrown off by the colors? I promised I wouldn’t stare at all the pretty lights tonight, okay?" The idealist tried to be cute, anyway. Really, he was not as clueless as he came across; he was only excited. Nor was he stupid – deep inside, it was his dream to one day move to Toronto, particularly this neighborhood. It was true that this was a vacation to relax and get away from their city, but on the other hand, it would also decide his fate – their fate. Saint Rapids was an open town, but there was still too much intolerance there; there was not enough freedom, and it was too hard to breathe.

"Doesn’t look like many people are around," Izzy continued, with a squint down toward the corner where Wellesley began. Johnny shook his head with a grin.

"Silly boy," he drawled, with a smile pressed against the idealist’s jaw. "It’s four. We got at least seven hours before we go and put you to the test."

"Me?" Pseudo-offended hazel eyes snapped toward Johnny’s profile, and the other boy chuckled.

"Naw, lover. Us."

Finally, Izzy reached and pulled the large, oak door open, and held it open for his boyfriend to step in. He was just about to fire off a saucy little comment, considering how close the other boy’s pelvis brushed by his own, when the view from the inside blew the outside away.

The websites they had scoured did not do Banting House any justice. It was sprawling; there were high-ceilings and grand, sweeping staircases. The massive, stained-glass window (which held a flaming torch in the longest, center panel) at the landing break of the main staircase was about the size of two of their windows at home – and in a warehouse, the windows were not small things. Although the building had been restored in 1997, it was kept in its original motif of the 1800s. On the phone, the keeper sounded shocked that two youngsters would want to stay in a place like this, but he was polite and warm in greeting them, and directing them to their room (which, after much deliberation and coin-flipping, best 2 out of 3, then 3 out of 5, they settled on the Oscar Wilde room). The building was designated as non-smoking; however, the occupants were allowed to walk the gardens in the back and indulge in their smoke-fests, so long as they kept tidy.

Izzy tried so hard not to race up the stairs like a wild-child, but when taking the second set upward after the landing, he could not help it anymore. Johnny was hot on his heels, and within minutes they found themselves awestruck again; they were rendered open-mouthed and doe-eyed upon standing at the threshold of their room.

"Jesus hopped the fuck up on Mary…"

Normally, Izzy would choke on laughter and shake his head at one of Johnny’s classic gems, born of his desire to make his mother turn over in her basement grave as many times as possible. This time he merely nodded, stepping through the doorway in a trance.

"Double that," Izzy murmured, tracing a finger over one of the large, dark-oak bedposts. The Oscar Wilde room was phenomenal. It mattered little that it did not fit the "style" of the street-boys: pale blue walls with white trim around the large windows, which were covered with gauzy white curtains that matched the bedding, several old-fashioned sitting chairs, large bureaus, and potted plants. The bathroom was long and rectangular, decorated with white tile and black accents. The shower stall was about the size of their bathroom at home, and had fogged-glass doors that slid shut. The room even had a small patio off the east wall that offered a nice view of the garden, and would be perfect for when they did not feel like roaming the Inn to get to the garden for a smoke.

"Can you believe this place?" Izzy continued, his voice breaking on the emphasis. "I could stay here forever; I mean… this kicks the warehouse’s ass!"

"Damn straight it does. Yanno," Johnny pondered, stepping in to lean against the other post at the end of the bed, prying into Izzy’s soul with sharp-sharded, green eyes. "They got setups fer long-term arrangements…"

"Don’t. Don’t tempt me like that," Izzy pleaded.

"Ain’t like ya couldn’t afford it, delivery boy," Johnny tempted anyway with a little smile, not about to let up on his boy. "But I guess we oughta see the sights, first. Ya might hate it here: young thing like yerself, and alllll this activity."

"You’re ruthless," the idealist murmured, swinging himself around the bedpost, then taking a step forward with his hip gliding along the footboard of the large bed.

"Ya have no idea, Daxter, the depths of my ruthlessness."

"Yeah? Show me, then."

Johnny showed him by pouncing on him like a panther, by catching Izzy by the waist and swinging him around to throw him down on the bed. He crawled halfway up the idealist’s legs, keeping his head dipped down, and his eyes raised up all ferine and locking onto hazel.

"Consider yourself… shown." Seethed the delusionist, while lowering his head to nudge Izzy’s shirt-hem up with the bridge of his nose. Not about to be outdone, Izzy reached and tangled both sets of his fingers into Johnny’s hair, at the same time his boyfriend’s fingers clawed and nearly tore the fabric of his black cargoes apart to get them open. It was not rushed in the manner of a quick release; it was simply that the boys were that intense (and had waited so long). Within seconds, Johnny had the other boy’s pants and boxers down, and pressed a saucy, tight-lipped smile against the swollen head of his cock. Izzy was shown, all right, and shown quite explicitly just what ruthlessness was. His ankles hooked around the back of the delusionist’s calves, who was bent smoothly over the foot of the bed Izzy had been lain across. His back arched sharply; bowed, then arched back in every time Johnny’s fingers clutched death-grips on the juts of his hipbones, to yank him up clear up off the mattress into the tight heat of his mouth.

"Johnny, oh god, don’t stop don’t you dare stop!" Izzy whimpered in a choked, panted rush. He threw his head back against the soft, white comforter, arching rhythmically and shoal-thrusting into his boyfriend’s mouth, though carefully so as to not choke the boy. Still, Johnny would have none of Izzy’s caution, and only dug his fingers into skin and bone even more, to pull and shove his boyfriend in counterpoint to harder, frantic-fast suction. His tongue twisted hungrily around the head of his prick, which by now was weeping tears of pre-cum. It caused Johnny to groan low in the back of his throat; his eyes rolled back for the bliss of the taste. Between the sight and vibrations of his lover’s pleasure in tasting him, and the way Johnny went full out, drawing the steel of his boy all the way in to the point the his nose bumped Izzy’s pubic bone, it was too much to take. He came hard: his body froze, and then shuddered as a hybrid of a moan and squeal burst from his lips; as four hot, thick, pearl-white shots burst rapidly against the back of Johnny’s throat. The comedown was rose-tinted; Izzy fell to a heavy-lidded repose while his sweet boy gently lapped him clean, before crawling silkily up the rest of his body.

"Yer so hot when you let go," Johnny purred against the keen line of Izzy’s jaw. He shifted, rocking faintly against Izzy’s thigh – Izzy, who had already taken to casually unsnapping and zipping the delusionist’s pants. Johnny looked surprised, and slowly lifted his head to peer down into autumn-charred eyes.

"What are you – you don’t have to –"

"Welcome to Toronto, baby." Izzy grinned, and smoothly flipped the other boy over onto his back. Johnny laughed and groaned at the same time; he splayed his arms out to his sides, gripping the sheets until his knuckles went white. After the idealist returned the favor (that was never a favor, not with them) tenfold, they curled up into a tangle of limbs, drowning in feather-light kisses and whispers of mad, mad love that made the angels above envious.

"What do you think it will be like?" Izzy asked softly, burrowed in against Johnny’s shoulder. "I mean, are you excited? It’s no jaunt in Mexico I know, but I just thought it would be fun."

"’ey," Johnny started firmly, catching Izzy by the chin. "We could’a stayed home and called it vacation, Daxxy, and that would’a been just fine with me."

"I know. I just want to make you happy, I mean… I know we’re just kids and all, and just starting out with… you and me. There’s just a lot of stuff we can’t do, and—" Johnny placed a finger against his boyfriend’s lips, and shook his head.

"And there’s a lot of stuff we can. We’re here, ain’t we? Doesn’t gotta be a beach and blazin’ sun that’ll give us skin cancer to be a vacation – so stop worryin’ okay? Nothin’s gonna ruin this trip, I swear." Johnny paused. "…’cept you, if ya keep frettin’ like a fairy."

Izzy laughed, and believed him with all of his heart, having no earthly idea that he would, in fact, ruin everything. Naivety, after all, was a curse just as much as it was a blessing.

 

 

Part Three: The Strip

By 10 P.M., both boys were showered and dressed for their first night out in Toronto. Unlike Johnny, who wore fitted leather pants (which loosened only when they reached taped-up boots) and a slinky, form-fitting, sheer-black shirt comfortably like second skin, Izzy was a bit self-conscious. He was more like Johnny’s brother-in-law, Carter, in that he usually wore whatever was clean, and comfortable – and not necessarily in that order. Tonight he had been convinced otherwise, and was glad he had let his boyfriend and Caleb choose a few things for him to wear. He, too, was wearing inky black, only his was in the form of vinyl slung low on his hips, and these were paired up with a semi-tight, dark crimson shirt; it was short-sleeved, with only its middle buttons done up. By the time they had set foot outside of the Inn he was walking a little more comfortably, and regardless of Johnny’s light jesting over his shoulder, he managed to work up into a more confident stride upon reaching Wellesley Street.

"I can’t believe you guys talked me into this," Izzy muttered. "I’d get my damn ass kicked wearing this back at home."

"Well, ya just walked yerself right into this one, ‘cos I’m tellin’ ya, there’s a number of things I’d like to do to yer ass, and kickin’ it ain’t one of them." Was it mentioned that the delusionist was a blunt little thing? A bright flush stained the crests of Izzy’s cheeks, and after a hearty shove (but not without a sloe-eyed side-glance cast up toward icy-green) of his shoulder against Johnny’s, he slid his hand down the other boy’s black-licked arm, and laced their fingers together.

The walk to Church Street did not take them long, and they reached the renowned strip (which spanned blocks 200 to 900) about a half hour after they had left Banting House. Although Izzy had sworn he would not bug out and gawk at everything they saw, the bright lights and bustling activity stole his breath. His fingers tightened their hold on Johnny’s, and he nearly bit through his lip to keep from screeching. Here, no one seemed to care what anyone else looked like, or whom they were with. Here, the straights were the minority, and even though the crowd they ran with back home bade they were never messed with, it was refreshing to be able to walk down such a busy street and not have to worry. Trust, Izzy was not ashamed of his boyfriend, or the fact he had one – and he could tell by the rampantly happy look in Johnny’s eye that the realisations were mutual, and he need not feel guilty for comparing the differences.

"So, where we headed first, love?" Johnny asked while they twisted and turned, threading their way through the moving crowds.

"I’m not sure… there’s so much here—"

"And so little time—"

"Right, right. And so little time, that I can’t decide. I’m waiting for a place to jump out at me, really." Izzy finished in cycles with his boyfriend, while hazel burned by bright lights whipped around the streets. They had only walked three blocks when, at last, somewhere jumped out at him from across the street.

"There," the idealist said, with a tip of his head toward a bar whose main wall consisted mostly of windows.

"Ahh, bar 501, huh? Sweet," grinned Johnny, leading his boy across the street with a tug to his hand. Within seconds, they had reached the mid-sized building, nursing nerves of excitement in a small line outside, before finally managing to work their way inside. This place did not check identification upon entering, although the boys were both carded when attempting to buy drinks. The bartender squinted at the pair, shook his head, and then went about serving up an order of two screwdrivers.

"Phew," Izzy murmured against Johnny’s shoulder. "I mean, if I’m going to pay the money for these freaking I.D.s…"

"Ya worry too much, Daxxy," it was good-naturedly though, and punctuated by a kiss dropped against Izzy’s temple.

They wormed their way to a table near one of the large panels of thick glass, one of the only ones that still had empty seats, and were surprised to find that the occupants were very friendly. A guy in his mid-20s waved them over; he was laughing over what must have been his tenth drink, given the collection of glasses around him and his friends.

"Aww, if it isn’t a couple of twinks!" the stranger shouted, albeit good-naturedly. Izzy and Johnny exchanged a glance of mild amusement, and then settled themselves into the offered seats. "I’ve never seen you two here before – hey, have you been here before?"

"No, we haven’t been here before," Johnny drawled between sips of his drink. "Why, do we look like we haven’t been here before?" At that, he slid his glance knowingly toward Izzy, who mouthed fuck you and gave his boyfriend the finger. The stranger and his two other friends (who neither boy was even going to ask about) burst out laughing.

"No! No, not at all! I just haven’t seen you here before – not that your accent doesn’t give you away or anything, but it’s all good! It’s nice to see new faces around here – seeing the same old people gets a little… boring."

"Haha! Gotchya, mate. Right, then – so what’s yer name?" Johnny asked smoothly, Izzy more than content to let him take the reigns. "Me, I’m Johnny, and this here’s Izzy."

The stranger introduced himself as Flynn, and his two friends were Andy and Elijah. Flynn was the obvious ringleader of the close-knit trio, and Izzy and Johnny found themselves more and more comfortable as the minutes flew by. Johnny filled them in on the horrors of the gutters of Liverpool, and how he came to relocate to America, and once Izzy had finally warmed up to the group, he told stories about Saint Rapids. The three older boys took turns filling in the pair about Toronto and the Wellesley-Church neighborhood, about how, growing up there, they did not see it with the same fascination as the non-locals. Still, despite their outwardly jaded manner of story telling, Izzy could not help the warm bubble of excitement that filled his hollow belly. I could get used to this, he thought, awestruck. I could really, really get used to this.

They were on their third round of drinks by the time midnight came creeping up on them; the conversations had become so lively and animated that neither boy was really paying attention to what all it was they were drinking. Happily, Izzy’s fingers curled themselves in against Johnny’s leather-clad thigh; his eyes were tinted the same hazy shade of whiskey that kept refilling Flynn’s glass, giving a smoldering stare that seared the delusionist’s blood in the most perfect ways. After a casual glance toward the door, Flynn regarded the two younger boys.

"So, where were you two planning on going after here? Did you make any other plans yet?" He asked slowly, raking dark eyes over both of them, though the weight of his stare lingered over the smaller of the two.

"I… well yeah, we had some ideas," Izzy said, looking up when he felt eyes passing over him. "We were kinda thinking of checking out Babylon."

Flynn back-glanced at his two friends, and bit back a small smile. Blinking, Izzy shot a confused stare to them, to Johnny, and back to them. The delusionist shrugged.

"…what?" Izzy asked.

"You think you can get into Babylon? You have to have a member card to get in there – or else a lot of money," Andy piped up, drunkenly.

"Oh… well…" stumped, the idealist looked helplessly toward Johnny.

"Eh, screw that. We can just go somewhere else, yea? Ain’t like there’s not a million other places to check out," Johnny said evenly, curling his fingers around Izzy’s on his thigh as they stood.

"Noo, no. Babylon is… well, you have to go – if you’re only here for two days, why not tonight? We’ll get you in with us; it won’t be a problem. It’ll be… quite the experience," Flynn, generously.

Izzy and Johnny gaped at him, then each other. They were not psychic, but it was almost as though they spoke with their eyes. Should we do this? Can we trust them? Then, when the small, sneaky smiles came: Why not? The boys exchanged a tiny nod, and then Johnny turned back to Flynn.

"Well, what’re we waitin’ for, then?" That decided it, and the five of them stood, some stumbling more than others – Izzy did, especially; he was the slightest of them all, so alcohol affected him more strongly. He had a spine of steel though, and when Johnny caught him lightly around the waist to steady his keel, he offered up a smile that parted his lips; a smile that had Johnny convinced his boyfriend was an angel.

"Izzy," Flynn called out, stepping around the edge of the table.

"Yeah?"

"Finish this up? There’s just a swallow left, and then you’re all set for the night," Flynn murmured. Izzy thought nothing strange of it; after all, Flynn and his friends had been nothing but friendly the whole night. He snatched the glass up and downed what little was left, then reattached himself to Johnny’s side, suddenly marveling more than usual at the feel of that wire-muscled arm around his shoulder and the crystal-shards of Johnny’s eyes, and nearly purring for it.

Neither of them had any idea just why Flynn had been so benevolent. Beneath the radars of Johnny’s street proweress and Izzy’s subtle cautiousness, the fact that Flynn had spiked Izzy’s drink with GHB had gone undetected.

Part Four: Babylon I

The music pouring from the club of metal grating and flashing, neon-and-white lights arched through the air around them, thumping down to the very marrow of their bones. Babylon was massive, consisting of three open-ceiling floors, metal catwalks, caged dancers and a small stage, TV screens above the dance floor, a lengthy bar lit up with blue-lights, bathrooms, and another room where no desire was a stranger, nor unfulfilled. There was no way Izzy could keep his eyes from going saucer-wide with incredulousness, and even Johnny was beyond impressed once they got inside. It would have been very easy to get lost in the throng of people just inside the doors, but Johnny never loosed his arm from around his boyfriend’s waist… and Flynn and his friends kept close in behind them.

"There’s just… so many people," Izzy noted dazedly.

"It’s not so bad, you just gotta keep on your toes is all," Flynn said from behind, with a grin. "Besides, I gotchya; no worries!"

Over the curve of his slim shoulder, Johnny shot an unreadable look to their ticket into the club, and his stomach tightened up faintly at the way Flynn seemed to watch the back of Izzy’s head. For as priceless as it was to be here, for all the boasting he could do to his brothers when he got back home, suddenly he wished that he and Izzy would have gone somewhere else.

"I gotchya, love," Johnny murmured down into his boyfriend’s ear. Izzy lifted his chin, and sent a grateful, if not daunted smile to the delusionist, and tightened his hold around his waist.

"I know," Izzy whispered, the sound drowned out by the bumping sound system and sea of voices, but not lost on his green-eyed boy.

"Come dance with me?" Johnny offered. They had reached the stretch of the bar, and Flynn had turned away to order some drinks. Elijah was close by, in low-speak with someone he must have known, but Andy had been swallowed up along the way.

"What? I – dance? I don’t dance!" Izzy exclaimed, wide-eyed and laughing.

"Ya do tonight. C’mon." Grinning, Johnny tugged his boyfriend by the wrist and, slow but steady, they made their way out to the dance floor. Izzy found that the sense and sound of the music crept under his skin, and the boy who never, ever danced suddenly felt like he would die unless he did – and, for nearly two hours, he did.

Then, the music switched to something that had an underwater feel to it, all flowing electric guitars and a death-pulse beat. The lights twisted and spiraled in dreamtime above their heads, smattering their skin with flecks of silver-white and blue. Izzy and Johnny had staked out their own space on the floor, melding not only in body, in time with the music thick in the air around them, but also in soul. Their spines became liquid, their veins filled with mercury. As the night went on, Izzy got more and more into it, until it was to the point he was nearly scaling his boyfriend; climbing him like vines on a brick wall, only to slither back down his wraith-boned body. Johnny, while shocked, was hardly going to object, and by the end of the song, he was so intoxicated by his lover that he did not notice the change in dilation of Izzy’s eyes – he did not see, beneath the flickers of silver through dim blue lights, that the bourbon-eyes he loved so much were nearly swallowed completely by black.

What he did notice, however, was that Izzy seemed paler than usual, and that even though the song had ended, replaced by something quicker-paced and up-beat, the idealist was still rolling like a slow-motion wave against his body.

"’ey, ‘ey," he murmured, catching Izzy by the shoulders. "Ya doin’ alright?"

"Never better," Izzy replied, in a sultry, half-slurred tone. "Except I… mmm, that last dance got me a little… hot." Johnny’s brows shot up, and he leaned his forehead against his boyfriend’s while they swayed beautifully out-of-step with the meter of the current song.

"Gotta admit that I am too," agreed the delusionist, with a snap of his teeth at Izzy’s mouth.

"I love it here, Johnny. I really, really love it here, and I love you. Promise me we’ll come back one day?"

Johnny’s arms tightened, low around Izzy’s waist, and he spun the two of them around just as a series of popping went off above their heads, sprinkling them, and the entire floor capacity, with slivers of silver glitter.

"An’ I love you, and we will, we’ll come back." A pledge sealed with a kiss, which received several appreciative and knowing smiles from couples (and singles, and triples) nearby.

"You’re… you’re amazing Johnny, I swear you’re the best thing that ever happened to me. So… don’t go anywhere, okay? I’m going to go splash some water on my face; come to think of it, I am feeling a little… strange."

"Shit, ya said ya were okay! Are ya? Are ya feelin’ more than strange? Do ya need me to go with ya, baby?" Johnny went from amorous to alarm in a span of five seconds.

"I’m just… I feel a little woozy. I think I just need some water or something, for serious. Will you wait by the bar at least? So I know where to find you?"

"I… yeah, I can do that, but… if yer not back in like, five minutes, I’m comin’ to find ya, Izzy." He did not feel comfortable about letting Izzy go off alone, given how sluggish and disoriented he looked.

"Please do, baby, ‘cept I won’t even be five minutes, because I… damn, I just need you, you know? Maybe it was just that dance, or the ambience, but I’m reeeeally…" Izzy trailed suggestively in his slur, giving the delusionist a catlike smile.

"Damn, Izzy, do I dance that good? Just go, and hurry, okay? The sooner you get back, the sooner I can turn your world flipside some more. If anythin’ happens, ya yell fer Oz." Johnny was alone on the floor then, staring off with a mixture of concern, adoration, and sheer bliss as Izzy threaded his way toward the stairs that led to the bathrooms.

Someone else, who had been watching the entire display on the dance floor from one of the catwalks above, had noticed Izzy’s departure. Flynn worked his way down the steps, reaching the entrance to the bathroom at the same time Johnny reached the corner-edge of the bar, with anxiousness riding in the pale of his eyes, and tightness of his jaw.

Part Five: Babylon II

Izzy thought he was going to die from the melding of sensations ripping through his body. It was worse off than what he wanted to tell Johnny – he did not want to ruin their evening out, and figured a splash of cool water would do the trick. On his way to the restrooms, every shoulder that brushed his own had set him on fire; the pleasure-shock that raced through his synapses to bottom out in the low of his belly was both alarming and… nice. Natural, then, that the dance with his boyfriend had riled him up so much, though later, in retrospect, he would swear on everything available to him that he would have felt the same way, drugged or not.

Regardless of how top-of-the-world and sensual the idealist felt, there was a voice in the back of his head whispering that it was not right; that people do not feel this way after simply having a few drinks. After staring blurry-eyed at his reflection in the mirror, Izzy cranked the cold-water faucet on as far as it would go, and doubled over. The rush of water thankfully drowned out the sounds of couples locked up behind the stall-doors, who completely ignored the signs indicating there was a whole other room for that sort of thing. He heard it clear as day upon rising, though; he shook his head rapidly back and forth, sending droplets of water airborne, flying off the ends of his brown hair. The combination of orgasmic groans of release no more than four feet behind him and disorientation from shaking off was the icing on a cake he never meant to eat.

"Oh god help me; Johnny…" he whimpered, stumbling away from the sink to skulk his way across the cool-tiled wall. The sights and sounds around him had begun to blend and bleed together: faces breezing by looked like devils, the bass pounding through the air and slamming into his heart was thunder, and all he wanted was— "Johnny…"

"Did you lose your friend?"

Izzy whirled around, finding himself smacked with vertigo just as his spine smacked into the wall outside the bathroom. Although confusion and a haze still swam around all five of his senses (it was the sixth that kept whispering to him, and would), he recognised the person standing before him.

"Yeah man, I gotta – the… he said to meet him at… can you just… just…" The idealist groaned inwardly, unable to make the right words happen the right way. As it was, Flynn had stepped into the space that had been between them, pressing his finger against Izzy’s lips upon each stammer.

"Don’t worry, we’ll find him. It’s a big place, but easy to find your way around. Say… you don’t look so good, Izzy. You alright?" Flynn, playing the part of a caregiver to cover his predator’s mask.

"I…"

"You know," he cut off, low and conversational, while pressing in closer. "You have to be careful around here, Izzy. You never know what’s going to happen, or when, or who with…" This time, Flynn was cutting himself off; he had stretched an arm out to plant his hand against the wall, while the other curled around the buttons on Izzy’s shirt.

Izzy shook his head, slow at first, but then more frantic as pieces that swam before his eyes began to fall into place. He stared at Flynn with a mixture of pleas and horror, but the older boy was just as high and drunk as he was, and it made no difference.

"You… you did this. At… at the… oh fuck," Izzy moaned, miserably. He had begun writhing, trying to twist his way out from beneath Flynn’s body, but with the older boy’s arm braced up against the wall, and Izzy’s body depleted by the liquid drug, it was not working so well. Of course, Flynn misread the idealist’s worming around; he took it as invitation, and upped the ante with motions of his own.

"No! Cut it out, I’m not – OZ!" It was a futile effort considering the volume of the club; to Izzy, it sounded no louder than a whisper.

"Oz? You wanna go to Oz, cutie? Shhh, shh. I can take you there." Flynn made his final move then, pressing his full body-weight against Izzy. He lunged in against the younger boy’s mouth, forcing it apart with his tongue. Poor Izzy was a mess, inside and out, mentally and physically. He knew, somewhere inside, that what was going on was wrong. Unfortunately, the effect of the drug altered the ties between mental and physical – though he did not want it, did not want this person pinning him against the wall, parts of his body thought it felt good. Other parts were nauseated because of that. He had just planted his hand against Flynn’s chest to try to shove him off, when –

"What the bleedin’ fuck is goin’ on?"

It all happened so fast – Flynn was yanked off Izzy, who went crumpling to the floor, barely able to breathe. It ended too fast to be called a true fight; some people gathered around the area had forcibly pulled Johnny and Flynn apart after Johnny had bloodied his mouth and nose. Flynn’s eyes whipped between the boys: one trying to fight his way back up the wall, and one willing to fight him to the death. In a moment of fear and panic, perhaps due to arrest as well as losing his life, Flynn tore himself out of the hands restraining him, and took off for the exit.

The seconds crept through the air between Johnny and Izzy, pacing themselves like painful hours. Neither boy spoke, and Izzy was afraid to look up at his boyfriend. Eventually he did, and he knew right then that the expression he was faced with would haunt every one of his dreams. Anger and confusion, sadness and rage; all of it was palpable in iced-green eyes.

"Johnny," Izzy whispered hoarsely. "It wasn’t, I wasn’t—"

"I don’t get it," Johnny said slowly, as if he were consciously trying not to rip Izzy’s throat out as well. "Ya said… ya wanted to, ya needed to – and then ya don’t come back and I find ya—"

"Johnny, I swear!" Izzy stood up, then immediately stumbled back. He pressed his palm against his eyes, wishing with everything he had that he could clear his head, and make his boyfriend understand. "He came at me, he – he… I think he – I didn’t want—‘

"Ya didn’t exactly look like ya weren’t enjoyin’ it." Cold and clipped, Johnny set his jaw and looked away, staring off into whirling blue lights. Izzy stared, horrorstruck; again, he shook his head wildly, fighting against the tears that stung drug-red eyes.

"Johnny…"

"I mean, what," the delusionist continued, his voice wracked with what most would take as rage or anger, but in this case was bare-boned pain. "Some bloke fancies ya, so ya think it’s alright to just go at it against a damn wall, and then blame it on a few fuckin’ drinks? Oh, I saw how he was eyein’ ya up at 501, Izzy. Ya think people weren’t eyein’ me up while I waited for ya? Ya don’t see me—"

"Johnny! Listen to me, p-please—"

"To what? What could ya possibly say, Izzy? Ya can’t even look at me," flared the delusionist. Johnny’s reasoning was irrational and he knew it, but where his boyfriend could barely see straight, he was seeing red.

"You… you can’t look at me, either," Izzy whispered with a tear-strained voice. "Can you?" He waited with baited breath, with one arm wrapped tightly around his torso, his fingertips clawing in against his ribs. He had not been able to look at his boyfriend during the heat, no, but now he was, with imploring eyes brimming full of tears and soul-love. Johnny would not look back though. He only stood there, with poisoned eyes trained on the wall where Izzy had been pinned.

"No, I guess you can’t…" Izzy’s voice sounded far away; he sounded like a lost child, and in those moments, he looked like one, too. Bloodshot, watery eyes wandered helplessly, and he swallowed hard, finally spying a path that led to what he hoped was out of there. "I’m sorry I wasn’t… wasn’t strong enough, Johnny, I—" but Izzy could not finish. Choking back a sob, he took off wildly for the stairs and the door beyond, leaving Johnny standing in an emotional hurricane.

"You were a bit hard on him, kid," came a soft voice over Johnny’s shoulder. He spun around angrily, ready to go to fists for the second time that night, but stopped. By the guy’s expression, he seemed harmless. Still, Johnny kept guarded, watching him warily.

"Ya didn’t see what I saw, alright? Ya don’t… it… he…" he started in a heated rush, but with his shoulders sagging just like his heart, Johnny was not able to finish.

"Actually, I did see, kid. Saw the whole thing. Shit like that happens here a lot, you know. That’s sorta why it’s – well, it’s supposed to be – so hard to get in here. Well, partly why."

"Shit like… what happens here," Johnny murmured, the renewed flare-and-sink low in his gut rendering the question into more of a statement of dawning.

"He was drugged, bro," stated the silk-voiced stranger, both gently and matter-of-factly. "I imagine it was E, or K—"

"He didn’t take that crap! I was with him the whole time!" Johnny growled, cutting the guy off, not wanting to believe it despite the rest of Izzy’s scattered pieces falling into place.

"Well, apparently not the whole time, hmm?" His tone suggested he did not mean such a spiteful remark; he simply threw it for the sake of hushing Johnny. "Sorry… look, if you didn’t see him taking it – was he drinking at all? ‘Cause then it’s probably GHB—"

"Oh, fuck me!" Johnny paled when dawning hit its peak, racing blindly out of Babylon.

Part Six: Unfolding I

Izzy wandered down Church Street, and all the faces he passed were blurs of alabaster and peaches and cream, paled mocha and darker chocolate. He could not see beyond the pain-blasted expression he had seen on Johnny’s face. He had no idea where he was going, what he would do; he knew he could not go back to the Inn, for he feared Johnny would be there – or worse, he would get there and find that Johnny packed up and left. He could not go back to Babylon, and in his condition, was not about to step into any bars.

Izzy’s arm outstretched and his fingertips trailed over the wrought-iron fencing that separated café and diner properties from the sidewalks, and street. He stopped in front of one in particular called Zelda’s; he turned in toward the iron fence and leaned against it, and his knuckles went white with the grip he had taken. Soul-sickened, he watched scenes unfold before his eyes like a silent movie; he watched the group inside banter back and forth, and filled in the blanks and silence in his mind. His eyes filled with renewed tears while he watched a loudly dressed older woman who had wild, half-kempt hair set out a bunch of platters, and then kiss the top of a dark-haired guy’s head. We should have gone there, Izzy thought, his eyes falling downcast. Or we should have drunk alone, or we shouldn’t have sat with strangers, shouldn’t have tried to make new friends, we shouldn’t have, I shouldn’t have, if only, if only, if only…

Izzy threw his head back and screamed. Raging, the tendons in his swanlike neck strained against his skin, and in efforts to tear the steadfast, iron posts down, he nearly threw himself into convulsions. Unconcerned with the amount of stares (concerned and amused, confused and annoyed, curious and blasé) he had drawn to himself, the idealist took off running again. Just like it had happened inside Babylon, the contact of every shoulder the boy brushed and plowed past set him on fire. The feeling of it beneath the initial pleasure was sheer misery: it was not the right contact, it was not Johnny, it was wrong and Izzy knew it was wrong, and he swore he would go insane if it did not ebb away soon. For a time, he tucked himself away in the closest alleyway, determined to wait until the streets emptied out before he even tried to walk out there again. He was convinced in his scattered, altered mind that any contact or touch that sent the buzz of pleasure’s electricity down his body was infidelity. He thought he was hurting his boyfriend even more.

"Please, please make it stop, make it stop," whispered the idealist, to nothing and no one, for there was nothing there that mattered now, and no one around to listen. He was balled up against the concrete wall, hugging his knees tightly to his chest with his cheek and temple braced against his forearm. Now and again, Izzy would peek through tear-trapping lashes and damp strands of brown toward the mouth of the alley. Twice, he swore he saw Johnny breeze by: once he was wholly convinced it was, the second time he was not so sure. However, on neither occasion did he jump up, or call out. He felt a stirring to do so, but the memory of Johnny’s expression in Babylon stopped him. He was as sure as he had ever been: just as sure as his name was Daxter, and as sure as he was that the woman in the diner reminded him of his own mother, and the kind of mother he wished Johnny could have had.

Izzy was hellishly convinced that Johnny wanted nothing to do with him ever again.

*****

When Johnny took off out of Babylon, he was beside himself. The entrance spit him out onto the sidewalk, and he had no idea where to go. Parts of him burned to hunt Flynn down and finish what he had started in the club, and other parts ached to find Izzy before it was too late. Too late for what? The question kept repeating itself in Johnny’s head like a torturous mantra, driving him insane while he stood there, unable to make his feet move. He knew he had acted irrationally inside, but that was simply part of his makeup – he had a rough life back in Liverpool; he was constantly on his toes and waiting for one of his many friends (who were never truly friends) to screw him over, or backstab him. His life before moving to Saint Rapids had been riddled with many paranoid delusions; scenarios that would chase sleep away, and render the boy an insomniac. But he also knew that Izzy was not like that, and that he never had been; Izzy’s heart was made of true silver, a kind that never tarnished no matter what was dumped on it.

"I gotta find him," he murmured to himself, miserably casting his eyes down the street. "I just don’t know where to start." Johnny figured that the idealist would not have gone back to the Inn – at least, not right now, and he hoped with everything in him that he was somewhere safe, given the drug in his system and the way he knew other guys looked at him, and what they assumed him to be. Cursing beneath his breath, Johnny took off down Church Street, intending to scour down to the end to Wellesley, then go back up the other side.

Twice, Johnny swore he saw the back of his boyfriend’s head; the soft strands of brown and that slim neck… but when he put on a burst of speed, ducking and weaving around people on the sidewalks, he found that the shirt was not crimson, or the boy was actually a guy with facial hair. He found that he had not found Izzy, at all. The closer the hours crept toward dawn, the worse Johnny felt. He knew how Izzy functioned, and knew because he had been too hot under the collar to listen, to see what was right in front of him, that Izzy was blaming himself and, given the altered state he was in, Johnny was petrified as to what could have happened, or what the boy may have done in his distress. It was all that kept him going – after all, Johnny had several drinks coursing his system, and a mild contact high riding his brain waves, and he was starting to lose energy. Energy, but never hope.

For a pair so fated and so destined, it would, of course, happen that they were never more than a block or two apart: while Johnny prowled through the 200 and 300 blocks (ducking back into bar 501, into Fly, into Woody’s to search), Izzy was cautiously making his way through the 600 and 700 blocks. At one point, they were even parallel to each other: one boy crossing back through the 400 block on the left side of the street toward Wellesley, while the other boy crossed through the 400s on the right side, in the opposite direction.

It was Izzy who was the former boy; it was he who wandered down Wellesley, toward the side-street where Banting House waited. Johnny, however, could not bring himself to stop looking – he could not make himself go back to the Inn, regardless of the sun threatening to bleed over the eastern horizon. He lingered outside the very diner that Izzy had, curling his fingers around the same two iron bars while he watched the few stragglers leave. He caught sight of a woman wiping down the counters, looking tired but happy, and instantly thought of all the stories Izzy had told him about his mother; how, if they had lived near each other at all, Johnny would have never had to struggle, for she would have taken him in with open arms.

Tears stung his eyes and he blinked rapidly, roughly wiping at them with the back of his hand when he turned away. Where are you, baby? Tell me where you are… the same question and plea played itself out like a worn record inside Johnny’s mind as he, resolutely, made his way back to the Inn. Though he knew he should not be surprised, the fact that their room was empty, things just as they had left them before going out, pulverised what little remained of his intact heart. Johnny curled up into a fetal, childlike ball on the bed, clutched one of Izzy’s shirts below his chin, and eventually cried himself to sleep. There was no way he could have known that Izzy had fallen to haunting, heartbreaking dreams down in the garden below.

Part Seven: Unfolding II

The gardens behind Banting House were gorgeous, and had the ability to transport those who walked in it to a whole other world. One could almost forget that they were in the middle of a city: the greenery was lush and thick, consisting of vines that licked up the tall, wooden fences that blocked this paradise in, and willow trees that wept in whispers. The grass was soft as carpeting; dotted here and there with the spiked leaves of yucca plants (some hiding miniature statues in their centers), intricate stone-beds, and flower patches of lilac and hyacinth; of roses and oleander. In the more dense part of the gardens, there was a small, wooden footbridge; beneath it was a cute little stream and rock-bed, and to the left there was a larger, inclined wall of stone. There were various statues arranged to watch passers-by, and at the very end where the greenery cleared, there were iron-and-wood benches, and several small tables.

It was on one of these benches that Izzy had slept, fitfully and shallow, and chased and cornered by guilt, fear and remorse. He woke groggily and stiff-necked to the sounds of people nearby; blinking and rubbing his eyes, he found himself staring at a young couple.

"Do you think he’s a street-rat?" whispered one man to the other. "Because if he is, we should report – oh! Uhm, good morning…"

"I’m not homeless," Izzy sighed, his voice hoarse and raw. "I’m supposed to be, err, well I have a room upstairs, I just felt like staying out here."

"For the whole night?" the same man asked, incredulous. "The gardens here are lovely, but not that lovely. I can’t imagine you slept comfortably. You should go upstairs and get rid of some of that luggage."

"Huh?"

"The bags, sweetie – under your eyes," the other man finished, lightly. "You should get some decent rest." The pair wandered off then, hand in hand toward the gate that lead to Homewood Avenue, and left Izzy to himself before he could ask them what time it was.

Judging by the descending path of the sun in the sky, he guessed it was near four or so. He stood up carefully and stretched; wincing beneath the series of crackling that rode the notches down his spine, and then glanced about. Other than quiet footsteps somewhere in the thicker green, he was alone in the garden. In a matter of minutes, Izzy found himself drawn to one particular patch of smooth rock and vibrant flowers – the patch that was below the small patio of the Oscar Wilde room. From his position below, he could not tell if Johnny was there; daylight bade no lights were on inside, and although the gauzy curtains had been left open, he could not see inside. He opened his mouth, but then steeled himself against hollering up to the second floor room. He had already drawn enough attention to himself by merely sleeping out there (and in vinyl and silk, no less), he did not need to be arrested in this city for disrupting the peace.

At some point during his aimless wandering, which took him temporarily out of the safety of the gardens and a ways down Homewood Avenue, Izzy decided he would stay. He figured that Johnny would return to the States the next afternoon without him; in fact, could not bring himself to imagine it (or hope for it to be) any other way. So long as he stayed out of sight on the futile chance Johnny was looking for him, it would work. He walked well into the evening, until the lights of the Church Street strip began to outweigh the stars. Izzy teetered on the idea to go lose himself in one of the many bars or clubs, but he was feeling both physically and mentally gutted; he was nauseated and low on energy and, deciding against it, doubled back toward the Inn to find solace in the garden for another night.

*****

Johnny did not wake up until close to seven in the evening. Post-sleep disorientation had him reaching across the bed with a smile, feeling for Izzy’s cheek, or stomach. However, upon fully opening his eyes, the entire night came flooding back into his senses and memory. His hold on Izzy’s shirt grew tighter, almost desperate, and he buried his face into its center. There were so many different worries and fears coursing through him that he could barely hold on; he could barely take it. What if he’s dead? What if he’s lost? What if he hates me? Carter will kill me if anything happened to him… what if he found Flynn and told him what a bastard I was, and he decides to stay? It was all of that, plus more, that turned his stomach so badly he had to run into the bathroom. Both tears and alcohol’s bile were purged of the boy’s system, and when it was over, and after he rinsed his mouth out, he was bound and determined to find Izzy.

Before leaving, Johnny left a note on the bed, in his serial killer’s scrawl:

Dear Izzy,

If you’ve come back here, please don’t leave. Please don’t leave me. I’m sorry

that I acted the way I did. I have to find you, Izzy… I can’t live without you.

Mad-love, Johnny

Tremor-bound and running on fumes and a nearly psychotic desire to find his boyfriend, Johnny ran out of the room, descended the stairs by three’s, and burst out the door, leaving the desk manager stupefied in his wake. Once he was outside, Johnny found himself yet again thrown into pause on the sidewalk. Shooting glances down either end of the street, then out toward the bright lights of Church Street, the boy found himself over-wrought with such anguish and helplessness that he could barely take it. Gritting his teeth and raking his fingers through his hair to clutch, Johnny bit back a scream, and decided he needed to take a moment to recalibrate.

He cut around the side of Banting House, approaching the gardens from the gate off Homewood Avenue. He remained, paused and motionless, with his ear against the flat, wooden surface, until he was sure that the gardens were vacant. It was a Saturday night, and he assumed (and hoped) that anyone occupying the Inn was out for the duration until dawn. Finally, the delusionist pushed the gate open, and stepped inside.

He had not been in the gardens for more than five minutes, and already he found the place otherworldly and soothing. The wash of a full moon above lit the greens and stones to glowing; it urged the tiny stream to sparkle, and set his soul, though disturbed, at ease.

It was then that Johnny’s world and heart halted. The ethereally charged atmosphere found itself outshined by the vision of a boy crouched on his heels in the center of the footbridge, who looked terribly fragile in vinyl and silk; a boy broken, and in his disarray his beauty danced circles around that of the moonlit gardens. He was rocking in his crouch, and whispering mindlessly of devils in disguise.

"There are no devils," Johnny murmured. Trancelike and trembling, he stepped toward the bridge, and then fell to his knees. "Only angels in many ways…"

Part Eight: Harmony

Izzy sensed his boyfriend’s presence through his fog before Johnny ever spoke. That fog was all consuming; inwardly, he longed for storm clouds to come and strike him down, for demons to claw their way up through the earth and drag him to hell. After the feeling of the delusionist’s approach (peacefulness and a soothing wash of coolth over what felt like a fever of guilt), his voice had registered. Only angels in many ways. Izzy choked softly on sobs he had been trying to keep muffled for what felt like years, and curled up tighter; he hugged his knees almost violently, rocking harder.

"Izzy…"

"You – you. You should – should just go home Johnny. Go home," Izzy stammered, tight-voiced. "I’m – I’m not good enough… no strength, no conscience, no – no…"

"Izzy…" his own voice tightened with pain, and Johnny’s hand reached out with splayed fingers as he inched onto the small bridge, on his knees.

"NO! I can’t – I c-can’t do this; I can’t be what you need, what you d-deserve, I hurt – I hurt. And I hurt you and I c-can’t—"

"Daxter." That stopped the idealist’s tear-drawn voice, and the sound of the rocking, tortured boy swallowing the rest of his words and sobs down broke Johnny’s heart all over again. "Baby… look at me."

"I… I can’t…" Izzy’s voice barely registered as a whisper.

"Please," Johnny implored, by now mere inches away from his boyfriend, but still so scared to let his fingers touch down, for fear Izzy would snap and run away again.

Slowly, Izzy raised his head and turned to face his boyfriend. The moonlight played its surreal tricks, its light-show casting Izzy’s tears as streaks of shimmering silver; his eyes glittering like autumn leaves soaked in rain. He felt as though he could not breathe, but once he caught sight of Johnny’s doe-like eyes, glowing neon and catlike and filled with beseeching sadness, everything fell away. The guilt slid into the shallow water just inches below him, and the rock lodged low in his gut dissolved into dust, then disappeared. Beneath the glow of Luna’s belly, the delusionist looked like an angel; his soft blonde hair lit like a halo, bowed lips parted to spill words that never came.

Johnny felt the same release – it had only been a span of twenty-four hours, but it felt like twenty-four years. His love looked so young just then, so vulnerable and so broken, and he realised it was his fault; he was about to say so, to apologise nine times over, but had frozen in the beauty of the idealist’s upturned face. The hand that had been hovering mere centimeters above Izzy’s shoulder finally touched down; one by one, his bony fingers curled a tremor-wracked grip on the thin, round bone. He wanted to pull his boy toward him, and fold him up into his arms and whisper that it would be okay, but something stopped him – Izzy still looked distant and troubled, although he seemed to relax more beneath the comfort of touch. Johnny drew in a deep, shuddering breath; he closed his mouth, paused, and then opened it again, ready to spill one thousand apologies if he had to.

"No," Izzy whispered, shaking his head. He knew what Johnny was going to do.

"But Izzy…"

"No. It’s not your fault, it’s mine, but if you’ll just let me explain now that we… now that we’re calm, I can—"

"Izzy, I know that ya were drugged." Johnny’s clear-cut, low-breathed statement caused the idealist to blink.

"Y-you do?"

"Yea. Some guy saw… everything; he saw how I acted, and said – not in so many words, but – that I acted like an asshole. And I did, I just… I saw red, I saw some guy all over ya and it just looked like—"

"Don’t," Izzy winced, painfully, raising his right hand up, palm out. "I know what it looked like. And I know that… that if it was you, and I walked up and saw that, I’d have done the same thing."

For a few moments, the only sound was that of the babbling stream beneath them, and then the hush of Johnny scooting inches closer to Izzy. The closer the delusionist got, the more at ease Izzy felt – he wanted so badly to fall into his boy’s arms, but was so afraid. For as alike as the two were, they came up in a lifestyle where emotions and tempers ran hot and fast, and fuses were short, fickle things; true love, true bonds, were rare things. Once he was close enough, Johnny’s fingers began creeping off Izzy’s shoulder, leading his arm around his boyfriend’s back.

"I’m mad-crazy about ya, Daxter," Johnny whispered, mere inches away from Izzy’s ear. "I guess that means that sometimes… I’m gonna go a little crazy; I’m gonna go a little mad..." He watched as Izzy tipped his chin down, and could have sworn he saw the boy bite back a smile.

"…but I’m still sorry. I’m sorry I blamed ya, baby," he finished, less than a whisper now, and all but against the idealist’s ear.

"You’re forgiven," Izzy murmured, sniffling. "You already were. Be as crazy as you wanna, Johnny. I wouldn’t – I couldn’t – have it any other way."

There was no more tentativeness left now, and no more hesitancy. With no more than a faint tug of Johnny’s arm, Izzy went tumbling in against his boyfriend, and quickly threaded his arms around Johnny’s slim waist. He buried his face in against the delusionist’s neck, exposed due to a button-down shirt that was mostly undone, and breathed in deeply.

"I love you, Johnny," muffled, seeping through skin to trap itself into veins, and careen directly to Johnny’s heart. "I love you so much it hurts."

"No one," Johnny pledged, his lips pressed against his boyfriend’s temple, "will ever hurt you like I do."

That right there sealed everything for Izzy; those words washed away any residue that was left, and all that remained was calm and clear. He knew how his boyfriend meant that line – it was something most others, They, would take as psychotic; a brand of love and obsession that bordered on unhealthy. But Izzy knew better – he knew what Johnny meant, and how, and he clung all the tighter to his lover for it, and began raining kisses along the hollow of his throat, nipping down to his collarbone. The fires that burned low in his belly were flames of purity: he was pure, cleansed – at least… almost.

"Johnny," Izzy whispered, lifting his head to brush his mouth along the other boy’s chin, and jaw. Slowly, he stood up, unlacing an arm to catch Johnny by the hand. "I need you to do something for me."

"What’s that?" Johnny inquired, curiously. Being pulled to stand, he allowed himself to be tugged across the small footbridge, off into the grass on the other side of the garden.

"I need you to cleanse me," Izzy stated, both sultry and a little bit shy. He glanced over his shoulder toward a cluster of statues; saints with stone faces and blank-granite eyes. "I need you to make me whole again, yours again. Please, please don’t say no…"

"What… ya ain’t dirty, love. Please don’t think of it like that," Johnny felt mended pieces of his heart threaten to snap under such a pleading look racing through hazel eyes.

"It’s not – I’m not, but my skin’s crawling Johnny, it hurts, I need you to make it stop; you have to make it stop. You have to make me yours. Again. Please." Izzy’s words grew more and more husky, more raw around their edges, and all pressed against his boyfriend’s jaw and mouth, his cheeks and neck. Any confusion or doubt that remained in the delusionist was suddenly eradicated when Izzy tugged them into a small area behind the statues, and beneath the long, melancholy branches of the willow trees. Their arms around each other were immediate, clinging and clawing at spines and waists, shoulder blades and hips. Within seconds, Johnny tugged Izzy to the ground and tumbled him onto his back in the soft grass. And, within seconds of that, both boys were panting shoal-mouthed; Johnny reared up on his knees, palming the hard heat between his boyfriend’s legs, watching as Izzy peeled out of his crimson shirt with a delectable writhe overtaking his torso. The idealist sat up, fumbling at the three buttons on Johnny’s shirt before sliding it off his shoulders, trapping whimpers in the back of his throat.

"You’re breathtaking," Izzy gasped, tracing trembling paths down the length of Johnny’s chest, to the low of his stomach. "Now. Quick – please."

Suddenly, Johnny’s eyes glowed anew and fell sloe; he was backlit by the moon and the crystalline shimmer from the stream just feet away. Growling, he rubbed and stroked harder between Izzy’s legs, watching like a predator as his boy squirmed and rocked his hips upward. Then, deftly, he was undoing the mechanics of vinyl, falling to feast upon the concave curve of his boy’s stomach while peeling inky black down the length of smooth, slim legs. Amidst whimpers rising nearly frantically into moans, Johnny quickly shed the rest of his clothing after digging madly through the pocket of ratty denim jeans. Grinning fatally down into the intent face of his lover, he ripped the wrapper open with his teeth, spitting the torn corner off to the side. He shivered, watching Izzy lick slowly at his lower lip while he unrolled the condom, sliding it onto his cock.

"I don’t ‘zactly have any… uhm… stuff here, yanno, to make it not—"

"Hurt?" Izzy asked, serenely. "I want it to hurt." From serene to positively seething, the idealist reached out, stroking his boyfriend through thin, slicked latex. It was his turn for a fox-like smile when Johnny arched his back and gasped while he twisted his wrist, then let go. "No one can hurt me like you do."

Johnny stared, his mouth agape, and then lunged down and in, parting his love’s legs in the process. Smoothly, he caught Izzy by the backs of his knees, and hoisted them up onto his shoulders. With whispers of forever and I love you coupled with throat-trapped moans, Johnny rolled his hips inward, slow and steady, sliding the tip of his dick just past the taut, puckered barrier of his boyfriend’s muscles. Here he rocked shallowly, a wince of absolute heaven washing over his keen features just as Izzy cried out, clamping down on his lower lip with his teeth. Outwardly, his face registered as pure agony and sheer pain, and it did hurt, but he asked for it, and needed it to. Johnny worked his lover smoothly through the initial sting and pressure, inching in further and further as the minutes slid by.

"More Johnny," Izzy hissed, as he fell mesmerised with the snakelike undulations of his lover’s hips and pelvis. "More, harder baby, god damnit please!!"

Johnny was never one to refuse his boyfriend anything, and he gave Izzy more, gave him his all. Rolling morphed into thrusting; into deeper lunges that saw him withdrawing less and less, which in turn offered the perfect assault onto that secret bundle of nerves nestled within slick, hot velvet muscles. The heat, the tightness was bound to kill him – Johnny said as much with kisses that came barreling in against Izzy’s mouth every other lunge. They muffled each other’s cries: franticness turned into utter madness, and on impulse Johnny shifted his weight to one forearm and elbow, and quickly caught his boyfriend’s cock in a tight, twisting stroke. Meltdown was a gorgeous thing, a thing that would have made those statues sigh, were they able to see. Johnny watched with wide, lust- and love-torn eyes as Izzy erupted all over their chests and stomachs, and that sight coupled with the feel of Izzy’s inner muscles clenching and milking with his orgasm caused Johnny to piston in harder and harder. Seconds later he froze, howling as he buried his face against the center of Izzy’s stomach, tasting the pearled essence of his lover as he came.

They clutched each other afterwards, lying on their sides facing each other, with legs and arms entwined. Izzy lovingly stroked strands of Johnny’s hair back from his forehead, darkened and dampened with sweat, while in turn the delusionist traced lazy hearts and initials along the slim curve of Izzy’s waist.

"Did I tell ya that I love ya?" Asked Johnny, cutely.

"Mmm… I think I know; I think I’ll be feeling the effects of that love for the next few days," Izzy grinned, feathering kisses over Johnny’s full lips.

"Ehehe… yea, ya prolly will be. But," he paused, catching Izzy by the chin to level their eyes. "I love you. Don’t ever forget that, even when I act like a bleedin’ devil of an asshole."

"There are no devils, baby," Izzy whispered, holding tighter than ever to his lifeline of a boy. "Only angels in many ways."

 

 

 

 

Part Nine: Departure

It was Sunday morning, and the boys were packing up their things, although it turned out not a whole lot wound up unpacked. Carelessly and laughingly, they stuffed clothes and belts, boots and hygiene products into their duffle bags and backpacks. Everything was thrown onto the massive bed and, heaving a sigh, Izzy turned to face the delusionist.

"Well, we didn’t get to do half of what we planned on, here," he commented, quietly.

"Naw, we didn’t, but it ain’t a big deal, love," Johnny assured him. "It just gives us a reason to come back, right?" That caused a smile to creep across Izzy’s mouth.

"Yeah… yeah, I guess it does. So… hey! Do you think we should raid the bathroom?"

"What the hell are ya talkin’ ‘bout?"

"What?" Izzy burst, giggling. "They’ve got, like, awesome towels, and all that shampoo junk and about ten thousand things of soap." Johnny stared his boyfriend down, attempting to appear stern-faced.

"This is a nice place, Izzy," he mockingly admonished. "That wouldn’t be real swell of us to just go an’ rob them blind."

The two boys stared at each other for a moment, and then seconds later they raced into the large, black and white bathroom, elbowing and jostling each other out of the way. Digging around in tiny baskets and the mirror-cabinet over the sink, each of them plucked a little souvenir. Johnny took two things of soap and one towel, and Izzy snatched up shampoo, conditioner, and a hand-towel.

"We’re gonna go to hell for this, you realise," Johnny murmured, arching a brow beneath fallen, razor-cut strands of blonde.

"No, we’ve already been to hell, baby," Izzy corrected, just as low and smooth in tone as his boyfriend. "I don’t intend to go back. We can leave a tip or something downstairs, just, you know, to make up for it or something." Not that he thought Johnny was being serious about his concern over a few token items, mind you. Leaning over quickly, he yanked the towel out from Johnny’s hands, and started to fold it up. Meanwhile, the delusionist had focused pale green eyes thoughtfully on the shower door.

"What’chya thinkin’?"

"Ohh, I dunno," Johnny drawled, slowly dragging his glance back toward his boyfriend. "I’m just thinking that maybe I – we – oughta catch a shower before breakfast, then the train…"

Izzy knew just what his boy was getting at, and lowered his eyes casually to the towel still in his hands. When October-burned eyes lifted again, they held fractions of bemusement and sneakiness. The towel was dropped back to the edge of the sink, and he literally slinked across the floor, immediately meeting the swayback Johnny had fallen into with a light arc to his own spine. Pelvises brushed, and Izzy caught his boyfriend by the snap of his camouflage pants. He was quite nonchalant in unsnapping and unzipping, and then he left these alone to free the delusionist of his tee shirt. In turn, Johnny did the same for Izzy, and within minutes they were both stripped to skin and bone.

Izzy adjusted the water temperature to something just short of scalding; he giggled nervously when fumbling with the latch that shifted the faucets to the showerhead above. Finally, the two boys crept into the massive stall, and Johnny pulled the door behind them. It did not take long for the steam to completely envelope their whipcord bodies; it did not take long for the two of them to become wholly distracted with the purpose of a shower, by way of slow, deep massages of washcloths laden in soap. The rush of the water currents drowned out the sounds of panting rising into a unison of whimpers, then moans – the heat of the droplets had nothing on the heat of their bodies as Izzy turned his boyfriend around against the wall, and watched as the taller boy splayed his fingers up, clawing at the tiles.

"Aw God, aw JesusIzzy…" Johnny groaned, lolling his head back against the idealist’s shoulder just as Izzy slid himself between his lover’s legs, from behind. Izzy wound up nudging his boy’s head forward, all so that he could press his mouth against the wing of his shoulder blade, and nip-kiss a path to the nape of his neck. It was utterly sensual – sex without penetration, sex by friction made the best kind of slick due to soap and water. While picking up a quick, sharp thrust between the clench of Johnny’s thighs, Izzy’s fingers crept around his waist; they danced down over his hip, and eventually curled a light, teasing hold around his cock. Then, he slowed; his rhythm was something just as intoxicating as the steam that swirled around their bodies, envious that even it could not get as close to their skin as they were to each other. The twists of his fingers and palm around the swollen tip of steel matched the tight-honed figure eights of his pelvis; of his dick twisting and rubbing in against that special, sensitive spot just behind silk-skinned orbs. Minutes later, they were gasping and breathlessly groaning nearly simultaneously – it happened that they had to take a shower all over again.

*****

After returning their room-key to the manager at the desk of Banting House, Izzy and Johnny returned to Church Street to grab some breakfast. Hand in hand, they wandered down the block, each one trying not to think about Friday night, and the countless hours wandering the same sidewalks with foreboding, painful thoughts crawling through their minds. They came to slow down in front of a certain café that bade both of their mouths curve into softer smiles; their eyes met, and each boy looked at the other one in mild surprise.

"You wanna eat here?" Unison, then laughter, then shock.

"Wait – ya were here?" asked Johnny, incredulously.

"Yeah… I sorta stopped, but I didn’t go in," Izzy answered, curious. "Just kinda… watched, yanno."

"Yea, yea, I do." They gazed at each other, two sets of eyes going soft at usually stark edges, and with a downward tilt to his head, Johnny punctuated his reply with a light, feather-tasting kiss against his boyfriend’s lips.

After seating themselves inside Zelda’s café, at the main counter, they were greeted by the wild-haired woman they each had admired sadly two nights ago. She watched the boys fondly while they ordered coffee and bagels; while they jested at each other for the fact they were going to eat bagels.

"You two sure are a cute pair!" She exclaimed, boisterously. "You… are a pair, aren’t you?"

"Yes, ma’am, that we are." Johnny said proudly. His tone made Izzy’s insides turn to slow-flowing lava, and he tucked his grin down against his chest.

"That’s great – younger kids having the strength to come out. You know, most won’t. I hear about all this trouble and trauma going on in the not-so-good ol’ U.S.A…" the woman went on, and the boys listened, of course, except Johnny’s attention had veered toward the corner window – idly at first, and then suddenly his insides jolted; his eyes narrowed to icy green slits. A sickeningly familiar guy had just come around the corner. He held his breath, waiting for Flynn to step into the café, but he passed Zelda’s by. A damn good thing, Johnny thought, with fire-tempered undertones. A damn, damn good thing.

"So, are you two boys from around here?" The woman asked, setting out their food and coffee.

"Huh?" Johnny had been glaring out the window, but snapped back to attention when she spoke. Izzy watched him, carefully and with confusion.

"I asked if you were from here," she repeated, amusedly. "I’ve never seen either of you in here before, and this is, you know, kind of a safe haven, if you will."

"No, we’re not, actually. We’re leaving today—" Izzy started to answer quickly. He meant to explain they were only vacationing, that they were leaving today, but Johnny cut him off. His voice was low; even-toned and almost frightening, despite his friendly smile to the motherly owner of Zelda’s. Izzy knew better, though – he saw sharper undertones in that smile of his lover’s, but he had not seen Flynn pass by the doors of the café.

"—but we plan to come back," Johnny finished, taking over his boyfriend’s sentence, without apology and with only a careful side-glance shot to Izzy. "We plan to come back… real, real soon."

** Fin **

Story credits:

--

-- References to "Debbie Novotny" (however, unnamed in story) is courtesy of and influenced by Queer as Folk: US.

-- Musical influences and inspiration for Babylon I and II: "Change (in the house of flies)" and "Passenger" by the Deftones; "Angel" by Massive Attack.

-- Musical influences and inspiration for Unfolding I and II: "Colorblind" by Counting Crows; "My Favourite Thing" by Silverchair.

-- Musical influence and inspiration for Harmony: "Caught in the Rain" by Revis.

-- Babylon, Banting House Inn, Bar 501, and Zelda’s are real locations in Toronto, and were described to the best of my ability & recollection.

-- "St. Rapids" refers to a real city, fictionalised to protect the author’s locale.

-- End-line of Unfolding II: lyrical passage (inverted); "The World’s A Mess, It’s In My Kiss" by X.

*** if you are interested in seeing images of izzy and johnny, please visit http://www.angelfire.com/space/starchild/unfolding/izzy.htm

-- The character of Johnny Isaacson is the property of "lilywood" and Izzy Canton is the property of "isilwen." Johnny Isaacson was used with permission. Story written by isilwen, with lilywood contributing pieces & insights to this story, as well as editing. This story is sexually explicit, and involves mild assault, strong language and references to drugs. Underaged readers are warned.

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