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Breathe Through It


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Yeah, this is gonna be a weird one. I'm sorry. Don't know how long it will be, so don't get your hopes up too high. :lol:

Breathe Through It

Part One:


“Cal, come on, man. Give him a chance,” Zach said. “At least wait till you hear his voice before you knock down our best option.”

Cal folded his arms across his chest and glared out the rain-fogged window. He’d always hated the touristy sections of Orlando; it wasn’t that he hated tourists, but he hated the fact that he wasn’t one. “If you don’t turn this car around right now, I’m going to jump.”

“But once you hear--”

“I don’t need to hear anything. The guy’s a lowlife. The only place he belongs is prison.”

“He’s got a point,” Luke put in from the backseat. “Spice would kick your ass if she found out--which you know she would.”

“Exactly.” Cal nodded, surprised Luke of all people had come to his defense. As the oldest member of Crimson Chaos at the age of 24, it was Cal’s job to keep everyone in line, and Luke Metzger was as crooked as they came.

As much as Cal disliked stereotypes, rich and entitled summed Luke up pretty well. He’d never actually met the guy’s family, but the way he threw money around was a big clue. His harem of the week would undoubtedly be spoiled.

Zach was essentially Luke’s opposite: quiet, observant, and Cal couldn’t remember seeing him with a girl--ever…not that it was any of his business.

“If you listen to him for two minutes,” Zach pleaded, turning off University Boulevard, “I swear I’ll never mention him again.”

“You do realize my sister has a restraining order out on this guy, right?” Cal tried, knowing he was in for.

“So you’ve mentioned…” Zach shrugged. “But all that stuff with him happened, what, two years ago?”

“Lowlife is an incurable disease,” Luke remarked.

“Fine. I’ll listen--for two minutes, and then I’m out.”

Zach grinned. “You won’t regret it.”

Oh, yes I will, he thought. I definitely will.

- - -

Dorian Church hated his job. Every time he put fingers to keys, he was reminded of all that he’d lost. It was always there, tormenting him. And yet, it was a distant sort of pain, like a faded memory of what had once been unbearable agony.

He supposed that once you grew used to something, that’s what happened. If one lived in filth, would they really know how much they reeked?

The singing was even worse. It brought him closer to her, and yet not close enough…

Sing for me, Dorian. Sing me to sleep.

And in the end, he’d sung her into something much more permanent than sleep.

Sometimes he wondered if it had been his voice that had sucked away the last fragile remnants of her life, if he’d pushed her over the edge of life and into death.

The hotel regulars were there, watching him along with the new guests he’d never seen before. Even without looking at them, he could see them, not as individuals, but as a mass of life that was irrelevant and unnecessary.

The lobby was busier than usual, and as he played, as he sang, he had to remind himself that this was all for Dusty. Angela may have left him, but Dusty still remained.

He’d get through this, day by day. It wouldn’t be pretty, but life never was. It was difficult to tell, but he thought this day in particular had a sour taste to it. His head felt heavy, but also light at the same time--at any rate, it was far too hard to hold up at the moment.

Tired and cold, he wanted nothing more than to go home and ply himself with cup after cup of the blackest coffee he could brew. But first, he had to get through the night.

Breathe through it…

Give it no name, where nameless lays claim…

Through fields of shattered glass…

Corridors broken by lack of memories, blue with the ice of his life…

She’ll live in his thoughts, forever in his words, the immortal death…

Breathe through it…

- - -

Cal was right. He really, really regretted this--because Dorian Church had the voice of an angel--the soul of a demon, but the voice of an angel.

Seated in the hotel lobby, eyes glued to the guy who had stalked and assaulted his sister, Cal knew he was about to make the biggest mistake of his life, but there was only one thing he could do in a situation like this. He was going to have to choose the band over his own flesh and blood, something he’d vowed never to do…

But, in all fairness, it had been years since he’d spoken to Spice, and even more since he’d seen her; she’d always been aloof, but after what had happened with Church, she’d closed herself off even more, to the point where she barely spoke to anyone.

And that was the guy he was about to ask to join Chaos. Did that make him a bad person? What if the guy snapped again and hurt one of his band-mates, one of his friends? He’d never forgive himself. But then, he’d also never forgive himself for letting an opportunity like this pass. Voices like that were something you came across once in a lifetime.

“So?” Zach asked, lips curled in a half-smile that bordered on smug.

Cal shook his head. “I hate you for this, Tate.”

Zach’s smile bloomed into a wide grin. “No you don’t.”

- - -

~Two Weeks Later~

- - -

“He’s late,” Cal said, glaring at the clock as if that would somehow turn back time. “Again. He’s not taking this seriously at all.”

“Chill, man.” Luke tapped out a jaunty beat on his drums. “It’s only two minutes.”

“About to be three,” Cal grumbled.

They’d needed a singer and they’d gotten one, but at what price? This was the third time Church had been late. How hard was it to get in his car and drive to Cal’s place, anyway?

“Hey, if you’d prefer,” Zach began, flopping down on the sofa and resting his feet up on the coffee table, “I could go back to vocals.”

Luke snorted.

“Yeah, about that,” Cal winced. “I think it’s best you stick to bass.”

Someday, they’d move past this makeshift studio (also known as Cal’s garage). Someday, they’d no longer be the opening act, but the main attraction. Someday, they’d have their own producer and their own albums and…

Luke whapped him in the head with a drumstick. “You’re daydreaming again, Master Whitehouse.”

Before he could reply, Church pulled up in the ancient hunk of rust he called a car. After parking, he got out with some little kid--his brother? They looked nothing alike. Where Church was all tanned skin, dark brown hair, and cloud-darkened blue-green eyes, the boy was white as milk with red-gold hair and freckles complimenting his pale green eyes.

Cal shivered involuntarily. If anything, the kid bore an eerie resemblance to his sister.

“You can’t bring your little brother in here,” Cal said as they approached.

“It’s a garage, not a brothel.” Church put an ironically protective hand on the kid’s shoulder, his eyes narrowing even as the little boy made a muffled giggling noise.

“He’s not my brother,” the boy mumbled shyly. “He’s my daddy.” He looked about eight or nine, which meant that when he’d been born, Church had either been twelve or thirteen.

Nope. Wasn’t possible. And not just for the obvious reasons. He’d have known if Dorian Church had a son--besides, what court would allow a criminal like him to keep a kid? Then again, things weren’t always that black and white. He knew that, sort of, but it was something he had to constantly remind himself of.

Shades of grey existed. And anyway, for all he knew the kid was three years old; it’s not as if he were an expert.

“You gonna watch me sing?” Church asked the boy in a kind, gentle tone Cal had never heard from him before.

The kid chuckled again and shook his head.

“No?” Church made an exaggeratedly hurt expression--which for him, basically meant his mouth twitched imperceptibly and the faintest shadow of a frown creased his brow for about a second before his usual emotionless mask fell back into place.

“I’m not gonna watch,” he grinned, “I’m gonna listen.

Church wiped imaginary sweat from his brow, then gave the boy a light shove toward the sofa in the corner. He said nothing as he adjusted the mic stand, barely sparing a glance for his band-mates.

“Do you even own a watch?” Cal couldn’t help asking, irritated. He--they--at least deserved an apology, not that they’d get one, of course.

“The song you wrote is crap,” he said, which didn’t strike Cal as being very apologetic. “You should stick to the technical and let me deal with the artistic. Let’s start with Silver. At least that one might be salvageable.”

“Who do you think you are?” Cal said, the cliché jumping from his lips with ease. “You’ve been with us for two weeks and you expect us to start taking orders from you? Even if we trusted your judgment, which we don’t, what makes you think you have that kind of authority?”

Church was making an odd expression, his facial muscles pulled tight, his jaw grinding from side to side. He bit his top lip, scrubbed a hand over his nose, and gave a slight wince. “L…hhlet’s beghhin,” he said, voice unaccountably breathy.

Honesty, who talked like that? Cal rolled his eyes. He was getting a bad feeling about this. A bad feeling worthy of the most epic of tragedies.

- - -

Sneezing will start in the next part. :D

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Ah! You've surprised me yet again~ This seems really interesting! I like Cal best so far, though I'm not sure why, exactly.

No matter how weird it is, I can't wait to see what happens (and for the sneezing to start)! :P

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Luke Metzger

honestly i laughed at his last name because it means butcher in german xD

Cal was right. He really, really regretted this--because Dorian Church had the voice of an angel--the soul of a demon, but the voice of an angel.

this is soooooooo promising! :yes:

and i´m in for even more!!!!

although you mentioned this:

Yeah, this is gonna be a weird one. I'm sorry. Don't know how long it will be, so don't get your hopes up too high. :lol:

PLEASE more!!!! :wub:

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Wow, just, just wow. MORE! :heart:

BYE! :bleh:

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ElementsofGray: Ohh, thank you! I was kinda nervous about posting this. But I'm glad you like Cal. ;) I can't wait to see what you think later on hehe.

Ciuty80: Ahaha, one of my friend's has the last name Metzger, but either he doesn't know or never told me! :lol: That is pretty funny. Butcher. I shall have to somehow make that part of his character. And thank you! There will definitely be more! yes.gif

happybunny: Aw, I'm glad you want more! That means a lot! So here ya go!

Bubbles!: Hehe. You know there will be more. Hope you liiiiike.

Emily: Haha, just you wait. Ooo, writing + Emily = good news. clapping.gif

Part Two:

Cal was never able to say how it happened. There are some things you see coming, and some things that come out of nowhere to bite you in the ass, and this was the latter.

Admittedly, he was distracted by his intense loathing for Church, and he hadn’t had reason to baby-proof his garage, and the kid who had yet to be named wasn’t by any means a baby. The odds were all against it, but somehow, it happened anyway.

They were just starting the chorus of Silver, and the kid was using the sofa as a trampoline; in the blink of an eye, though, he was falling, falling forward and smashing his head into the corner of Cal’s “coffee table,” which, in actuality, was nothing more than a block of wood--with very sharp edges.

DUSTY!” In his haste to get to the boy, Church sent the mic stand crashing to the ground. He reached the kid, Dusty, and dragged the limp little body across his lap.

Blood leaked from a gash in the boy’s forehead, his face pale, eyes closed.

“I’m calling an ambulance,” he heard Zach say, but his gaze never strayed from Church, his eyes fixed on the mask that had yet to slip.

And he wondered distantly if it wasn’t a mask, but Church’s true self. Maybe there was nothing more to him than the metallic exterior, the cold, uncaring attitude, the irrationality and selfishness that had caused him to target Spice.

With the small child cradled in his arms, he had the appearance of a reaper come to collect, of an angel of death with a deceitfully pretty face--and woo-ee, his trusty rusty old thinker was uncreative!

Oh, you’re a dangerous one, Dorian Church, he thought, nose-diving back into reality as shivers scuttled down his back.

If only he’d known then how right he was.

- - -

Zach watched as Church lifted the little boy into his arms; there was nothing in his expression to suggest unease, but Zach detected it all the same in the way his shoulders tightened; it was invasive, the way he studied people, learned their movements.

It was creepy, and he tried to stop doing it, but it wasn’t something he could control. Watching people was what he did, and in doing so he learned them.

No one else would be aware of the change in Church, he knew, and the thought made him feel weirder than ever--but this wasn’t about him.

“We’ll take my car,” Zach said.

Church’s gaze swung to him. After only a brief hesitation, he nodded.

- - -

“Mr. Church?” the doctor was saying. “Are you all right?”

No. No, he was not. He couldn’t stand there and watch as his kid was sewed up like a broken doll. No. No, he could not. He couldn’t even be in a hospital, wouldn’t be subjected to its sterile, end-of-the-road atmosphere. No. No, he would not.

His legs moved, backing him out of the room and into the hall. Dusty’s eyes were wide with a trust Dorian didn’t, had never, deserved. This wasn’t about him, though. It was about Dusty. But even knowing that, he couldn’t force himself to remain.

Turning mechanically, he made it about a foot down the hall when someone grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around. Cal was in his face, then, shouting at him.

“What’s your problem?” he spat, face reddening with rage. “You’re just gonna leave him like that? Are you really that heartless?”

“Cal, lay off,” Zach said.

“Are you kidding me!? How can you defend this guy? Look at him! His son or brother or whoever he is is in there bleeding to death, and he doesn’t give two shits!”

Zach and Luke both looked at Cal with identically shocked expressions.

“You just said shit,” Luke pointed out. “Just how angry are you?”

With Cal’s focus on Luke, Dorian took the opportunity to sneak away. He wasn’t leaving. He just needed…a minute. He slipped into the bathroom without anyone noticing, braced his hands on the sink, and stared at his reflection in the time-worn mirror.

He didn’t recognize himself, felt no connection whatsoever to the face staring back at him. He didn’t feel real at all, like if he ceased to exist no one would notice.

Even the ache in his head and the constant tickle that plagued his sinuses felt unreal and unimportant. Angela had been his tether, his connection to life and the world, but without her he would just float away, existing as nothing more than a memory.

So he started to sing. However painful it was, it was the only thing that could bring her back to him. It was at times like these he swore he could sense her beside him, could hear her quiet laugh, feel the feathering of her breath across his cheek.

A purple girl, she’d say, with an orange boy,

Like it made sense,

Like it made any sense at all.

Like violet and rust didn’t exist in her world

Of black and white

And red and blue

With no mixing of the two…



A sharp pain speared through his head as he let loose a tired breath, blinking away the moisture in his eyes.

“Bless you.”

Someone had come in without him noticing. He’d have been embarrassed, if he’d had the capacity, but as it was, he didn’t much care. He saw flat green eyes, dull coppery hair cut way too short, and a pair of unexpected dimples in sallow cheeks.

A stranger.

“Don’t stop on my account,” he said, smiling wanly. “I was really enjoying the performance.”

“Thank you.” Dorian turned on the faucet, splashed some chilled water over his face, and took a deep breath.

The stranger was still watching him. Dorian pegged him as somewhere near his own age, though it was hard to tell, with him appearing so sickly.

“You’re a patient, are you not?”

The smile never waned. “How could you tell?”

“I’m not certain you want me to answer that,” Dorian retorted. “What are you doing in here? Don’t you have your own restroom?” And why did he care?

Now the boy appeared smug, thrusting out his chest. “My girlfriend’s been in there for the past ten minutes. No idea what she’s doing.”

“I see. Perhaps you should find out.”

Ignoring the dismissal, he went on, “You’re a singer, right? What’s your name?”

Dorian’s headache took a turn for the worse. “I have the ability to sing, yes. My name is of no importance to you or anyone else.”

Pursing his lips, the boy nodded. “Tall, dark, and mysterious. My girlfriend would totally go for you--you know, if she wasn’t dating me, of course.” He winked.

“Of course,” Dorian said dryly. “Is there a point to this?”

“A point?” He looked crestfallen for about a second before a cheeky grin conquered his momentary sorrow. “Actually, there is. My brother’s getting married at the end of the week and it’s sort of my job to hire a musician, but I’ve been distracted by…other things, if you know what I mean.”

“I assure you I do not, nor do I want to,” Dorian replied crisply.

“Well, anyway,” he barreled on, “I think you’d be great. My sister-in-law-to-be would probably hate you, but don’t take it personally; she doesn’t like any men.”

Dorian arched an eyebrow. “Including your brother's fiancée?”

“Hm. Depends on her mood.” He flashed a dimpled grin. “Thing is, she loves him--she just doesn’t like him. Ya know?”

“I can’t say that I do. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” Dorian attempted to brush by the boy, to get back to Dusty and face Cal after his cowardly retreat.

He put a hand on the door, keeping it shut. “I’m sorry. I can’t let you leave until you agree to sing at my bro’s wedding. Do you play the guitar or piano or something?”

“No,” he lied. “Please step aside.”

“No can do.”

They stared each other down for a while, before Dorian finally sighed and admitted, “I do play the piano, yes. But I have no interest in playing at a wedding.”

He hated weddings almost as much as he hated hospitals.

This time, when he made to leave, the boy didn’t stop him. No. Instead, he followed him into the hall and trailed him back to the room he’d left Dusty in. Dorian gritted his teeth.

“Hi,” the boy said to Dorian’s band-mates. “I’m Cian. I’m trying to convince this guy here”--he stabbed a finger into Dorian’s ribs--“to sing at my bro Carter’s wedding. Any pointers? Blackmail tips?”

Luke snorted out a laugh while Zach hid a grin.

“Nothing you could possibly do or say would p…hhhper-ihgmmfk!uuu - ” Dorian paused to sniff unobtrusively - …“persuade me to take you up on your ridiculous offer.”

“We’ll do it,” Cal said. “When’s the wedding?”

- - -

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Yes!! I definitely wasn't expecting that stranger to be Cian, I feel like it's been ages since we saw him.

Haha, that makes me worried that maybe I shouldn't like Cal so much (even though I still do...including that bit of drama there). But I like Zach now, too! I like his people-watcher personality. :D

Wicked excited for the next part, I'm liking it so far!

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Oh, you’re a dangerous one, Dorian Church, he thought, nose-diving back into reality as shivers scuttled down his back.

I can't be the only one who chuckled because "nose-diving" was such an ironic word to use.

that, and Cian sounds familiar ;D hmmmm

and unfortunately, the band story I'm writing isn't fetish-related (thus far! :D) it's all good if we've got your stories to back up the forum ;D

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Eeeeeeee!!!! Cian! Carter! I've missed them so much!!! I can't wait for your next update! Keep 'em comin' girl!

BYE! :bleh:

P.S. Who's Angela?! Did she die? Is that why Dorian doesn't like hospitals? Is Dusty her and Dorian's son?! Aaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!!! So many questions! Why must you make everything so awesomely screwed up?! Continue quickly. I don't like waiting.

BYE! Again. :bleh::bleh:

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ElementsofGray: You make me sooo happy. Every time I read one of your comments I get inspired and start writing more. Thank you so much for that!

Ciuty80: Well, I live to surprise. :D There will be more, so I hope you like it! :wub:

Emily: Aha, just the thought of anyone writing makes me geekily (I can make up words, don't judge) excited! Fetish or not!

Bubbles!: Hehe, I've missed them too. As for Angela, your questions will be answered very soon. Ahaha, I promise not to make you wait too long. Also, thank you for being so nice to meeeeeeeee. It makes me so happy!

JulesSneeze: Haha, thank you! I can't wait to write him getting sicker.

obsessed: Ohh, happy to hear it. :D

(My self-esteem issues urge me to point out that calling someone's characters "simple" is not a compliment! Just for future reference, no finger-pointing meant).

Part Three:

If he could have been anywhere else in the world at that moment, he would have been. He’d made the mistake of thinking he was man enough to handle this.

I’ve always loved you, Dorian, so please promise me you’ll never leave me.

And he had, promised her. But in the end, it hadn’t mattered, because she hadn’t been able to make that same promise. She’d left, and she’d nearly taken their son with her. They’d been married for six hours. Six. And eighteen minutes.

“Church. Anyone at home in that oversized head of yours?”


Dorian shoved his memories to the back of his mind, turning his attention to his band-mate, who was waving a hand in front of his face.

“Cian is trying to introduce you to the bride and groom,” Cal informed him, his voice dripping with uncontested disdain.

Dorian had been staring out at the ocean, watching the waves rise and fall as the sea-breeze tugged at his hair and the salty smell tickled his nose. He didn’t know where they were, hadn’t bothered to ask or pay attention, but it had been a long time since he’d been to the beach; back when Angela was alive, they’d gone all the time.

“Um. Yeah.” Cian smiled at him and gestured to the man and woman standing on his left; the guy was abnormally tall, the girl undeniably short of stature, but even so they fit together so obviously it was hard to look at them. “This is my brother, Carter, and his bride, Tassi. Bro and Co, this is the bathroom dude.”

“Yo,” Carter said.

Tassi punched him in the arm, muttering, “It’s called ‘hello,’ Ego-Face.”

The…bathroom dude? Dorian grimaced. What had his life become?

“Nice to make your acquaintance,” he flat-out lied. His throat was sore, his head pounding, and he was debating calling the whole thing off.

“What, am I not worthy of an intro?” said the girl to Cian’s right.

Dorian spared her a quick glance, not registering her appearance in the slightest. He nodded his head as Cian introduced them, not catching her name.

It was strange. Tomorrow, these two people would bind themselves together forever here on this beach--but to what end? A marriage license meant little when life was as fragile as glass.

But then maybe there was a happily ever after in their future.

Too bad there’d never be one for him.

- - -

~A Year Later~

- - -

Dorian wondered if he should feel something. He’d gotten what he wanted--but no. That wasn’t right. His band-mates had gotten what they’d wanted. For him, it had never been about money or fame. He just needed to sing; it was like an addiction. Without it, he’d lose everything that meant anything.

Their first album, Falling Forward, hadn’t made it to the top of the charts, but it’d been close, close enough to give Cal’s over-inflated ego a good stroking.

So maybe going on tour had never been his dream, but it’s not as if he had anything better to do, and Dusty seemed happier than Dorian had ever seen him. He told himself that was what mattered. He cared about Dusty, about his son, because that’s what parents did.

It only made sense.

- - -

Something was up with Church--other than his usual anti-social rudeness and general lack of concern for anyone other than himself. They were en route to Boston for their next gig, and had about six hours left to go. Church hadn’t come out of the bedroom for lunch or dinner--not that the stuck-up Church was a fan of fast food.

“What’s up with Church?” Cal asked, plunking down on the couch next to Zach, who was currently involved in shooting at virtual baddies with Luke.

“What, you mean the stick up his butt is sharper than usual?” Like quipped.

“He’s sick,” Zach said, shrugging distractedly. “Just leave him alone. He’ll get over it.”

Cal couldn’t help but be a little impressed, but… “How do you know?”

“Just do.”

“Right. But how?”

More bloody deaths occurred on the TV screen, and Luke whooped enthusiastically. “DIE, YOU FORK-TONGUED JERK-HOLES!”

“Man, they’re aliens, not snakes,” Zach muttered, delicately biting into a barbecue potato chip.

“So? I’m telling you, bro, they’re tongues are forked!”

“And you know this from personal experience?” Zach grinned impishly.

Dusty, seated on a cushion in the corner, giggled uncontrollably.

“Pathetic.” Cal got up and paced for a minute, ending up outside the closed bedroom door. Church was behind that door. Yeah. So what? Resting his forehead against the smooth, painted wood of the door, he heard a noise, almost inaudible over all the shooting and killing and wailing that was going on not five feet away.

“h’ugxh!tuhh.” A soft groan.

His brow knitted. It had been, what, a year since he’d heard Church sneeze? The guy had the immune system of a god, and he chose now to get sick? Honestly.

Cal tapped the door with his knuckles. “How are those lyrics coming? Me and Zach have to get started on the arrangements.”

Throat-clearing. “Then what’s stopping you? You don’t need lyrics for that.”

“I thought you’d want to oversee things,” Cal remarked, annoyance sneaking up on him. “After all, you are our king, Master Church.”

He got no reply. Typical.

- - -

Cal lay awake in his bed that night, listening to the rasp of Dorian’s breath, listening to him toss and turn and mutter the same name over and over again.

“Angela. Angela. Angela.”

With Dorian occupying the top bunk and he the bottom, he got up close and personal with every sloppy sniffle and every congested grumble. But, inexplicably, he wasn’t angry. He didn’t know what he felt, really, other than a good truck-load of what-the-freck?

“Church. You awake?” he stage-whispered.

Pause. “No.”

“You’re lying.”

Heavy sigh. “I see your detective skills are fully honed.”

And there it was. Church had become increasingly lippy over the past year--mostly toward Cal himself, something which both irked and intrigued him. He was one sick puppy, no doubt about it.

“FYI,” Cal griped, “you’ve been snoring loud enough to wake the dead.”

Long pause. Subdued snuffling. “Sorry.”

What…on…? Cal gaped like a fish. Did he have an earwax overload, or had Dorian Church actually just apologized. To him. For something that hadn’t even happened in the first place. Something Cal wouldn’t have minded even had it happened.

Cal asked, “You okay?”

The longest pause yet. Then, “Gktngh!-hh. Yes, I’m well.”

A smile teased Cal’s lips. Only Dorian Church, he thought. Only Dorian Church.

- - -

They were up at the “butt-crack of dawn,” according to Luke, checking into their hotel and getting settled before deciding to head out for breakfast and coffee at the nearest Starbucks. They met in the lobby, Luke practically doing cartwheels of over-excitement while Zach silently observed with his usual subtle smirk.

“Where’s Church?” Cal asked.

“Dunno,” Luke replied, performing some odd wave motions with his arms. “Wasn’t he with you? You’re in the same room, right?”

“He probably just wants to rest,” Zach commented. “Let’s leave him be. We can bring him back some black coffee and a toasted bagel.”

Cal and Luke stared at him.

Zach shrugged uncomfortable, mumbling, “Just a guess. He seems like a black coffee kinda guy, and who doesn’t like toasted bagels?”

But Cal shook his head. “I’m gonna go get him. Dusty’s probably starved. That guy is not equipped to be a father.”

He was back up in the room a few minutes later. Church came out of the bathroom in a cloud of steam, a towel draped around his hips. His cheeks were flushed pink, his hair wet and curling delicately at his temples.

Cal’s gaze somehow landed on the guy’s flat stomach, and he watched as the muscles there contracted; Church’s diaphragm expanded, accentuating the contours of his lightly toned chest as he inhaled harshly, droplets of water gliding down his smooth, tanned skin.

Cal’s eyes lifted, taking in the ripple of Church’s throat as he swallowed, and then the slow parting of his shower-pink lips, the squinting of his eyes and ever so slight flaring of his nostrils before his head bobbed forward, his wet hair tumbling over his forehead. His hand climbed up, cutting off the sound before it could be fully realized.

snghkngff! Uhhh.” He let his breath whoosh out as he raked a hand back through his hair, his nose now a deep shade of red.

“Who’s Angela?” Cal blurted, flinching as soon as the question left his mouth. He was tempted to punch himself in the face, but that would probably be weird.

An elegant brow jumped skyward. “Have you been stalking me?”

“We’re in the same band. You sleep two feet away.” And what the freck was he talking about?

Church stepped past him to the bed where his suitcase lay open, and started rifling through his neatly-packed clothes. Had his shoulders always been that broad?

Stop looking, you perverted old man.

But then those broad shoulders rose, Church’s entire body tensing as his breath hitched--even his feet, his toes curling into the olive-green carpet. “Hh…hh uhh…” Bringing a balled up black shirt to his face, he muffled the sneeze that shuddered through him. “hmBtcshh!-ehh. Guhh.” He slumped a little, viciously scrubbing his nose.

“Uh…uuummm…” Cal cleared his throat, rubbed his eyes. “Come down to the lobby when you’re dressed. We’re going for breakfast.” Before he could start acting any crazier, Cal bolted from the room as fast as his legs could carry him.

- - -

Also, there was a reason I introduced Cian and Co. It wasn't just random.

Also x 2, if anyone wants anything specific to happen, please share. If not, that's cool. Just throwing that out there. :D

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haha, Shakespeare probably made up like a third of the English language, so why the heck not? :P and writing makes me supremely happy too! :D oh, the joys of being a nerd

by the way, since you're asking y'know, don't forget my fainting fetish ;)

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I don't care. I seriously do not care. Just as long as you continue this, I'm perfectly awesome. But, I might want to see a little guilt. Maybe Cal gets mad and yells at Dorian and uses Angela to wound him. I don't know, and I dont really care. Just continue this! SOON!

BYE! :bleh:

edited: to say I agree with Emily too, fainting is adorable!

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It's official. You're amazing. Enough said. MORE SOON PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!twitchsmile.gif

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I'm so glad my comments make you happy, because your story does the same for me! It's getting even better!!

I also love what's going on between Cal and Dorian (it makes me like them both even more), and I want to find out who Angela is and...um...everything else that's going on here, it's all so interesting. XD

Favorite line:

The…bathroom dude? Dorian grimaced. What had his life become?

I was going to laugh, and then I remembered I'm at work. XD

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Emily: I know, right? Who says being a nerd can't be fun? Ha. Oh yes, don't think I have forgotten that little weakness of yours! I think probably in the next part after this one, something faint-y will occur.

Bubbles!: Ahh, thanks for the "guilt" idea! I like it, I like it. I'll definitely put that in there for you/have started it in this part. Hope you like it. :D It will continue into the next part as well, just to amp up the angsty guilt factor.

Alexys52: *blushes* Thank you! I'm just glad I can write something you enjoy so much.

JulesSneeze: Haha, I'm so glad you feel that way! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

ElementsofGray: Oh man. You have no idea how much that means to me, that my writing can actually make you happy. Thank you! You should be careful, or I'll die of happiness. :lol: Your comments will kill me.

Part Four:

Dusty and Church sat at a separate table, the former chatting away while the latter nodded disinterestedly; he’d gotten worse, Cal thought, but Dusty didn’t seem to notice. Church was always there, but he was never really there. Maybe Dusty couldn’t tell the difference.

When Church got up to use the bathroom, Cal followed him. Pausing outside the bathroom door, Church twisted around to stare at him. “Can I help you with something?”

“Who’s Angela?” Cal repeated. He didn’t know why he wanted to know, but the wondering was driving him crazy. Was she just another one of Church’s victims, like Spice had been? “Did you--is she…did you hurt her?” As soon as he saw the look on Church’s face, he knew he’d been mistaken. For the very first time since he’d known him, Church’s granite expression softened, and Cal swore he saw pain spark in those blue-green eyes--not overtly, but in the subtle, understated way that was Dorian Church.

Yes,” he said aggressively, suddenly seeming taller, larger, despite the fact that he was actually several inches short than Cal’s own 6’4. “Yes, I hurt her. I sent her to her death! Is that what you want to hear? I killed her! I killed my wife.

Cal felt liked he’d been punched in the gut. “Wh…what?”

“It was our wedding night,” he went on with a little less venom, though his eyes were still as hard and cold as icebergs. “I wasn’t feeling well. I complained to her repeatedly, like a small child, until she finally broke and offered to make me chicken soup.” A scathing huff of laughter.

“Only I didn’t have any chicken or anything else in my house. Long story short, she went out to buy some. Next thing I knew I was getting a call from the hospital, saying she’d been in an accident, all because I’m a selfish asshole, who made a pregnant lady do what I should have done myself.”

His tone became flatter the longer he spoke. “They managed to do a C-section and save Dusty, but Angela…Angela died within the hour. She died listening to my voice.” Church turned and walked calmly into the bathroom.

Cal stood there like a moron, feeling dizzy and sick. When he glanced down at the floor, trying to get a deep breath, his eyes snagged on a brown-leather wallet. He picked it up, popping it open to check the license; something slipped out and fluttered to the ground.

“Figures,” Cal muttered when he saw Church’s image on the license. After bending to scoop up the picture, he placed it back in the wallet--and caught his breath. It was a picture of a young woman with red-gold hair and blue eyes and a spattering of faint freckles across her pert nose.

It had to be Angela, he knew, but she was a dead-wringer for his sister, Spice.

And suddenly it all made sense--or at least, most of it did. And he felt like the biggest a-hole ever conceived--probably because he was the biggest a-hole ever conceived.

- - -

Dorian Church had not a care in the world for his public image--that much was clear to Cal. The concert had gone well enough, but now they were sitting at a table, signing CDs for their pack of fans while two monster-sized body guards looked on, probably hoping they’d get a chance to use those enormous, bulging muscles of theirs.

The mid-June night was on the cool side, with a nice, cotton candy breeze to keep them from sweating through the clothes they’d changed into after the show.

Church had on his usual stony mask, not bothering to smile or speak to anyone. He was sniffling constantly and rubbing his nose, and probably spreading his germs to every single wailing fangirl and fanboy there. Cal watched him attempt to hide a sneeze by turning his back to everyone and surreptitiously stifling it against his knuckles, the outburst having an unusually squeaky tone to it, like it wanted to be really loud, like it didn’t appreciate being contained. “hgTzznngk!

Zach angled in to ask, “He okay?” in the general vicinity of Cal’s ear.

“Why are you asking me?” Cal mouthed, then glued on a grin as the next fan, a teenage girl with purple and orange hair, bustled up to him with a squeal of delight.

- - -

Luke Metzger was well aware he came off as a not-too-intelligent and spoiled spaz--but that’s the way he wanted it. It was easier for everyone around him if he pretended to be a one-sided goofball who needed help tying his shoes. He’d learned that the hard way.

On his fifteenth birthday, he’d run away from home (if it could even be called ‘running away’ when no one cared enough to report you missing). Things had gotten pretty rough after that, but wallowing never did anyone any good, so he just went on as if it had never happened, as if the whole experience had left no scars.

A lie, sure, but a necessary one.

He wondered what Dorian was lying about. It was obvious the guy was a pro at deception; the simple fact that he only showed one side of himself to others was proof--unless he really was that simple--a possibility, but an unlikely one.

“Who’s up for ice-cream?” Luke asked gregariously after the signing had finally ended and they were on their way back to the hotel.

“What are you, twelve?” Cal deadpanned, climbing up the bus steps.

Luke beamed. “Only in mind. What do you think, Seth?” he said to their driver.

Seth: mid-twenties, average height, average weight, average in every way average could be. Dishwater brown hair, grayish brown eyes, unremarkable face--but one of the best guys Luke had ever met, and damn near the smartest.

“I think you’re an idiot,” Seth informed him without remorse.

But when Dusty bounded up to them with a sly smirk and latched onto Dorian’s belt-loop, Luke knew he’d won.

- - -

They only got recognized once, just outside the ice-cream shop, by a 20-something girl with sweaty hands and her ornery boyfriend, who did not appreciate her fawning all over Church--Church, who didn’t smile once during the whole encounter--not that the girl minded; she was too busy trying not to faint.

It wasn’t because they were oh-so-famous, Cal knew, but because Dorian Church was, well…Dorian Church. Woman wanted him. Yeah. That was it. Women.

Cal made sure not to sit at the same table as Church. While Zach disappeared to places unknown (saying he’d return shortly), Luke ordered about enough ice-cream for a stadium full of fans--and no, Cal wasn’t conceited enough to mean his own fans.

Fifteen minutes later, Dusty had finished his sundae and was asleep slumped against Church, chocolate smeared across his chin. Cal wondered again just how old the kid was. Weren’t nine-year-olds supposed to be more…independent?

“How can he sleep after eating that tub of sugar?” Cal asked Church, determinedly ignoring Luke, who was using a pair of spoons and a napkin holder as a drum-set.

Church, staring off into space, didn’t seem to hear him. The smudges under his eyes were more pronounced than usual, and he’d been coughing in spurts all night, though he’d been trying to hide it; normally, Cal wouldn’t have noticed. Normally.

Every so often, there’d be a catch to his breath, and he’ d pinch his nose and close his eyes for a few seconds, shake his head a little, and then pretend nothing had happened. This time, though, even pinching his nose wasn’t enough, and a tiny, heavily suppressed sound escaped.

“hh’mphh! Nghh. Let’s get out of here,” he said breathlessly, massaging a spot below his right eyebrow and choking back a throaty cough.

“Zach isn’t back yet,” Cal replied. “If you’re getting sick--”

“I’m not.

“But your voice--”

“I said I’m not,” Church snapped, then sucked in a breath, hastily bringing a napkin to his face to cover another stifle. “Nngt!-chuhh!” He cast a wary glance at Dusty, checking to see if he’d awoken and sighing in relief that he hadn’t.

It wasn’t like Church to be so expressive, and it was making Cal twitchy with nerves.

“I’m leaving,” Church announced.

“You mean you’re gonna wait on the bus, right?” Cal clarified.

Church gave a stiff nod, lifted Dusty into his arms, and stood. The instant he did, he paled, making the fever-flush adorning his cheekbones alarmingly apparent. Stumbling a little, he knocked into the table, sending the sundae-glass crashing to the floor.

Whoa, there.” Before Cal could react, Luke was there, taking Dusty from Church before the kid shared the same fate as the shattered glass on the floor.

When Cal got over his momentary shock, he was able to reach Church and grab for his elbow. Pulling away, Church arrowed him with a glare, which he then turned on Luke.

Just then, the bell chimed and Zach came in with a plain-looking girl in her early-twenties. She had mousy brown hair, red-rimmed glasses, and the smallest forehead Cal had ever seen--but she wasn’t unattractive. Zach took in the scene in one glance, assessing the situation and quickly stepping into action.

“I don’t know about everyone else,” Zach said, “but I’m beat. I’m heading back to the bus. Oh, and this Miriam.” He put an arm around his companion, who blushed.

“Your high school girlfriend?” Luke blabbed.

Zach gave him a quelling look as Miriam’s blush deepened.

“Dad?” Dusty, now awake, trotted over to Church and tugged on his arm. He opened his mouth, potentially to say more, then saw that everyone was watching him and went silent.

Everyone in the shop was staring at them, but Church seemed oblivious as he snatched a napkin from the table and flinched out another sneeze. “hbKxtshh!uuu. Huh. Excuse me, please,” he said, took Dusty by the arm, and stalked from the shop.

“All right, then,” Cal said, and loped after them.

- - -

The second they got on the bus, Church locked himself inside the bathroom and turned the faucet on. Like the creeper he was, Cal hovered outside the door. Why? He couldn’t really say; it was a compulsion, one he wasn’t proud of.

A few minutes passed, and Cal became aware that something had changed. He told himself he was just worried because Church’s voice was important for the continuation of their tour, and not for any deeper, more idiotic reasons.


Yep. He knew it. Church had locked himself in there to have an epic sneezing fit in private. Why that rubbed him the wrong way, Cal had no idea.

hhiihhFFSShhnngk! heh…hehh…hahhUXSSmmkt! Unghh.”

The faucet flicked off. Nose-blowing. A rumbling, chesty cough that ended in an abruptly cut off “hehggsshhmfft!” Then a thump, like he’d let his weight fall back against the door, and another crackling cough.

Man, Cal thought, and that was as far as he got before his brain fizzled out of order like a broken soda fountain. Man…

- - -

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yep, Cal. I'm totally with ya on this one. hot damn.

that just made me fuzzy in all the right ways = w =

happy Emily is happy. happy Emily is totally digging this. happy Emily loves Scion.

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Mmmmmmmmmmmm....... Cal is yummy, I like Zach, Luke is interesting, and Dorian is a combination of all three. Can't wait to read your next update!

BYE! :bleh:

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As if I wasn't hooked enough before!!! Being a self-described cough whore as well, I am LOVING where this is going :D And poor Dorian! But I love it when he suffers so much ;)

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If you die of happiness, at least try to finish the story first! XD

I swear, every time I read it, I get more and more into it, loving Cal more (yet I STILL can't really explain why) with each part, and his name, too. I forgot to say that two parts ago when I was just instantly drawn to him because of his name. I just...just...want words to tell you that I love your story. wubsmiley.gif Please keep writing~! :D

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