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KH AU:: Through Thick and Thin Ch. 7

I'm a horrible person. That's all I have to say about this chapter. xD;;

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"Fuck morning classes. Fuck morning work. Fuck everything in the morning that doesn't involve sleeping, sex, and bacon. In that order," Rudol grumbled, rubbing his sore shoulder. The past week had been beyond brutal, and today was no exception. He had just spent the better part of an hour following a finicky customer and lugging a 100 pound maple tree on a dolly so that she could compare it to every other tree in the whole goddamn nursery.

"Actually, I think morning sex ranks above sleeping," Lumaria answered conversationally, standing on his tiptoes to carefully water a hanging basket of tiger lilies.

"Well, I don't get much morning sex to begin with, so I don't have much of a comparison," Rudol said nonchalantly, scratching his chin. "I'm not the kind of guy who sticks around to wake up with someone in the morning. I'm the master of 'hit and quit it.'"

"That's really not something to be proud of, you know."

"Why not? I'm like a motherfucking Houdini!"

"You're making progress on the money thing," Lumaria said, shaking his head, "but you still have a long way to go on the relationship thing."

"Well, I'm not really into relationships in the first place..." Rudol said, casually leaning against the wall of the greenhouse.

"So you say."

"You sound skeptical."

"I am."

"Well, I can't really change your opinion, now can I?" Rudol said, quirking an eyebrow.

"No, I don't suppose I can." Lumaria wiped his hands on his apron and beckoned for Rudol to follow him out of the stifling, suffocating greenhouse. He breathed in the fresh air and pulled his hair back into a ponytail. "Okay, Rudy, time to get down to work. Here's the plan. I need you to lug six bags of chicken manure down to Greenhouse 3 – and yes, I know they stink horrifically, but someone has to do it," he added, hoping to head off any complaints before they arose. "Today's a delivery day, so once you're done with the manure, go talk to my uncle. He'll probably have you wheel out the racks of plants and possibly unpack the flats from the racks as well. There's also a new shipment of pottery coming in today, so you can get started on drilling drainage holes in those as well. And if you have time after that, you can come help me in Greenhouse 4. I'll be creating a new garden bed for display, so I could use your help in shoveling soil." He clapped his hands together. "Any questions?"

Rudol raised his hand and waited to be called on. "I have a question. Does it still count as breakup sex if you do it four weeks after you broke up? I'm just wondering."

"...Any questions that pertain to what we are talking about?"

"Oh. Well, you should have specified. No, I'm all set."

"I really hope you were paying attention and weren't just thinking about sex the entire time I was talking."

"What, no. Of course I was paying attention. You underestimate me, Lulu," Rudol replied, sounding mortally wounded.

"Fine, prove it to me then. I'm not repeating everything I just said. And to answer your question," Lumaria said, turning to a display of flowers and rearranging them to look more appealing, "No, it's not breakup sex. Moron."

"It was just a question!" he protested.

"Why, do you want to get Dilan back?" Lumaria asked, pausing his work to place his hands on his hips and stare at him.

"No, I just want someone who will fuck me like they mean it. I've been thinking about it, and I've come to the conclusion that the reason why I was feeling so depressed after that last string of hookups I had is because I haven't been able to find someone who can satisfy me sexually," he said matter-of-factly; it was a perfectly rational explanation to his mind. "And the sex with him was quite excellent."

Lumaria stared at him.

"...What?" he asked, genuinely clueless.

"Is that really how you view people?" Lumaria asked, his voice sounding odd. "Like sex objects? He's a person too, you know, with feelings. And that's how you treat him? Rudy, don't you dare go back to him if you're just going to fuck him and leave him again – I thought you were better than that."

"Well, jeez," Rudol said. "You make it sound like I'm some heartless bastard. I just want a relationship with no strings attached, is that so much to ask for?"

"Yeah, if the other person actually wants something more than just sex, it is. You know he took it badly when you dumped him the first time. You had a history together. What makes you think he's so willing to just suspend all that to be your fuck buddy? I hate to say it, but it's kind of a douchebaggy thing to do." Lumaria shook his head and tucked a feathery lock of pink hair behind his ear.

"Good lord, what is this, the Spanish inquisition?" Annoyed, Rudol crossed his arms and scowled. "It's not as big a deal as you and Rennie make it out to be. Really."

"You're acting like a dick again," Lumaria said bluntly, figuring that Rudol's ego could go down a notch or two.

"Well, you are what you eat…" Rudol deadpanned, trying to break the tenseness of the atmosphere. It worked; Lumaria laughed in spite of himself, but it was more out of surprise than anything.

The blond smiled, pleased that he managed to coax a laugh out of him but attempting to mask the fact that he was pained by his friend's harsh words. For all his bravado, he did care deeply about what L'Erena and Lumaria thought of him. He didn't give a damn about how anyone else viewed him (hell, he had to not care, given that he'd developed a bit of a… reputation for himself), but his two closest friends were too important to him to not value their opinions.

"Okay, enough yakking," Lumaria said. "Let's get back to work. We can talk later."

"Aye, aye, cap'n," Rudol said with a mock salute, heaving himself off of the table he'd been resting on and taking hold of the dolly once more. He set off to begin the vastly undesirable task of lugging chicken manure across the grounds, with Lumaria two steps behind him on his way to return the watering can and pick up a shovel.

They crossed paths with two girls who were arguing over a potted plant. One of them pointed in their direction and said loudly, "Look, those guys work here — ask them!"

Overhearing them, Rudol smoothed down his hair and smiled. "Hello, ladies…" he began, using his most suave voice.

"Rudy, you don't know anything about plants," Lumaria interrupted from behind him, elbowing him out of the way. "Just get back to the manual labor and allow me to help these two lovely girls."

Deflated, Rudol let out a sigh. It was going to be a long day.

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Exhausted, grubby, and overworked, Rudol collapsed into Lumaria's car with a sense of relief. He didn't mind work, really, it was enjoyable as long as he was able to work with one of his closest friends, and it meant money, but he couldn't deny that it was starting to take its toll on him. He wasn't used to so much physical exertion for such long periods of time

Overcome by exhaustion, he stared off into space on the ride home, instinctively clutching to the door handle because Lumaria drove like a madman. He couldn't help but be troubled by what Lulu had to say about his philosophy on life. He had been so confident in his conclusion that the reason for his slump was because of lack of sexual satisfaction. But then Lumaria had to go and tear him up, telling him that it was somehow wrong to just want somebody because the sex was good. Wasn't that the perfect relationship? No emotional crap to deal with, no obligations, no need to be tied down to just one person—

"Rudyyy…" Lumaria sang, waving a hand in front of his face. "You're spacing out again. Did you hear a word I just said?"

Torn out of his daze, Rudol shoved Lumaria's hand away from him and hissed, "Are you completely mental? Hands. On. The. Wheel."

"Man, you act like I'm completely irresponsible," Lumaria complained, but he obliged nonetheless.

"Do you remember the pick-up incident?"

"That was one time!"

"Sure, Lulu, sure. Then why does Rennie not let you touch her truck anymore?"

"So I lost a hubcap. Big deal, it could to happen to anyone. She's just touchy." He swiveled the steering wheel as he took a corner a little too hard. "But speaking of L'Erena, that's what I was talking about before you zoned out on me. Tonight's pizza night, remember? Rennie's place."

"Ooh, right, I almost forgot about that," Rudol said, smacking his head. He was becoming forgetful too. He didn't deal well with stress, evidently. "Well, I'm game. As long as you can get us there without, you know, killing us or anything like that…"

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"See, I told you we'd make it home alive," Lumaria said as the two of them knocked on L'Erena's door.

"Well done," Rudol said dryly, applauding lightly.

"It's open!" called a voice from inside the suite, and Lumaria opened the door and ushered Rudol inside.

"Hey, guys," L'Erena said from her place at the kitchen table, looking up from the textbook she had propped up against the milk jug while she painted her nails. "Pizza's almost here." She inspected her left hand carefully and waved it in the air to dry her nails.

"You're doing it wrong," Lumaria informed her as he pulled up a chair and sat down. "You're not supposed to wave your hand around like that. It makes the nails less shiny and can cause smudges."

L'Erena rolled her eyes. "I don't care," she told him.

"I'm just saying…" he replied with a delicate shrug of his shoulders.

"Whatever. How was work, by the way?"

"Wonderful," Lumaria chirped.

"Miserable," Rudol said at the exact same moment, resting his hands on the table.

"I don't know what you're complaining about," Lumaria said, propping his elbow on the table and resting his chin on his hand. "You didn't seem that miserable this morning."

"That was before you called me a douchebag. And a dick. And before I just about killed myself slaving over work. My entire body is crying out with pain. Pain, I say."

"Oh, you'll get used to it as you build up more stamina and strength." Lumaria dismissed his complaint, his perfectly manicured hand waving it away. "And I'm sorry, but you needed to hear the truth."

"Wait, wait, what did I miss?" L'Erena said, setting down the bottle of electric blue nail polish and looking curiously at the two boys.

"Nothin—"

"Rudy was being an ass again, going on about how he doesn't 'do' relationships and just wants someone who will, and I quote, 'fuck him like he means it.' Basically, he wants a fuck buddy with no strings attached and doesn't care about the other person's feelings."

"You're an ass," Rudol grumbled, shooting Lumaria a dirty look.

L'Erena scrutinized him critically before sighing and sitting back in her chair. "Rudy," she said, as gently as she knew how. "I love you, you know that. I just don't understand you sometimes."

Rudol buried his head in his hands, weary of the same tired argument. After a long moment, he emerged with a pained expression on his face. "I don't know. Just... just give me some time, Rennie. My head's all messed up lately. I need some time to sort things out. I can do this. I just can't do it alone. I need my best friends. Please, help me out here, support me, and the rest is gonna fall in place once I figure out what the hell is wrong with me." His voice broke a little on the last syllable. He had always been the kind of guy who knew what he wanted right from the get-go. He was easy-going, took things as they come, didn't worry about whatever curveballs life decided to throw him.

He'd never experienced the self-doubt and agony that so often came with the awkward teenage years, and here he was, just breaking twenty and going through the kind of personal crisis he'd never had to endure before. The past few weeks had shook him to his core for reasons he still couldn't comprehend, and he found himself questioning everything about himself, his very philosophy on life, and it was frightening.

"Oh, Rudy…" L'Erena said, getting up from her chair to rub his back soothingly with her still unpainted left hand. "It's okay. We're here for you, you know that, right?"

"Yeah," he said after a minute's silence, lifting his head up again and giving her a wan smile. "I know. Thank you."

"I just don't want you to regret things later down the line, that's all," Lumaria explained. "Being bad isn't always good. I don't want you to make any more mistakes. I know you think you're invincible, but you're just going to end up hurting yourself… Rudy, are you listening to me?"

But Rudol had stopped paying attention, laying his head on the table and closing his eyes. "I'm… tired."

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Dilan wasn't sure what made him turn. Perhaps it was the fact that he still wasn't completely over Rudol, or maybe it was just because it occurred to him that his ex was no longer making wisecracks when the professor asked questions, but whatever the reason, he spontaneously glanced over his shoulder one day in class.

The blond in question was sound asleep at the back of the classroom, head resting on his book and his hand dangling over the side of his desk. From what little that he'd seen of him lately (because, even if he knew that it was all over, he couldn't help but steal glances at him and keep an eye out for the for the familiar blond head on the streets), Rudol had been looking worn-out lately, complete with dark under-eye circles and incessant yawns.

Probably up all night fucking some stranger, Dilan thought bitterly, viciously scratching out a mistake in his notes and accidentally tearing a hole in his paper.

"Dude, what's up?" Braig muttered, casting him a sidelong glance.

"Nothing," he mumbled back, shrugging it off and turning to a new page of paper. Thankfully, he didn't have to suffer for too much longer; barely ten minutes passed before the professor announced that they had run out of time and would resume the lecture on Monday.

In the hustle and bustle of departure as 100 students simultaneously stood up and gathered their materials, Dilan couldn't resist one last surreptitious glance. Rudol had woken up with a start at the sudden increase in activity, looking around him in sleepy-eyed confusion. Dilan could see the realization dawning on him that he had evidently slept through the entirety of the lecture, and he watched as Rudol ground the heels of his palms into his eyes in visible frustration.

Serves him right, he thought in satisfaction. Asshole. With that rewarding thought, he left and headed for home, where he knew that he had Ienzo to look forward to. Life just kept getting better and better.

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If he had dared to hope that Ienzo would not be present when he arrived home, Dilan would have been sadly mistaken. Fortunately, he hadn't gotten his hopes up.

He walked through the door to find Ienzo curled up next to Aeleus on the couch, rattling off his list of things to do over the next few weeks. Dilan heaved a sigh. He lifted his hand in greeting to Aeleus and made a beeline for the kitchen, where he proceeded to rummage around in the cabinets for something edible to eat.

"—and oh, that reminds me! Aeleus?"

"Mmm?" Aeleus looked down at his boyfriend, who was tucked into his side.

"You recall that the upcoming Flaming Oceans concert you promised to take me to is on the sixteenth, correct?"

"…Yes."

"Well," Ienzo continued, "I was wondering if you could perhaps do me a very small favor and discuss with your friend Braig the possibility of, ah, meeting his boyfriend afterwards?" His tone was light, but his words left no room for disagreement.

Aeleus seemed to be contemplating his response very carefully. "What if I don't want to do you a favor?" he finally asked, sounding somewhat belligerent.

Dilan perked up, suddenly interested. He could smell an impending argument, as the tension in the air was evident. Evident, that is, to everyone but Ienzo, who may have been exceedingly intelligent but still lacked effective social-reading skills.

"In that case, I suppose we would have to remind ourselves just who calls the shots in this relationship," Ienzo answered, quirking an eyebrow in mild intrigue. He wasn't used to resistance from Aeleus.

Dilan chuckled quietly in the kitchen, grabbing a bag of chips that he found buried at the back of the cupboard and grabbing a case of beer from the fridge. Oh, this is gonna be good.

"I," Aeleus said, pulling away from Ienzo and standing up from the couch, "am really fucking sick of this shit."

"I don't appreciate your coarseness, Aeleus," Ienzo said calmly. "Now would you care to explain what has you so suddenly and inexplicably upset, because I am flummoxed, quite frankly."

"You are the only person on the planet who would ever use the word 'flummoxed' in casual conversation. And I'm really beginning to understand why he—" Aeleus pointed a finger in Dilan's direction "—finds you so annoying."

"Hey, man, leave me out of this," Dilan said, alarmed, pausing mid-crunch.

Ienzo barely spared a glance his way, his piercing eyes intently fixed on Aeleus. "Aeleus. What is wrong with you today?" He frowned, his brow creasing.

"Me? Nothing's wrong with me. I'm just fed up with your obsession with this guy you've never met before."

"Oh, please," Ienzo scoffed, but his ears flushed pink nonetheless. "Not this again. Did we not already discuss this?"

"Yeah, and nothing's changed! You're still being a goddamn annoying fangirl, and I've been trying so fucking hard to let it go—"

"Really? Now tell me, Aeleus… how is that working out for you?" Ienzo interrupted, his voice caustic. "Because it seems to me like you are having some underlying issues that go beyond simply not approving of me admiring a musician. Honestly, I thought I was PMSing!"

Dilan snorted in laughter and accidentally choked on his beer, causing him to cough violently. Neither Aeleus nor Ienzo noticed or cared, too wrapped up in their altercation to pay any attention to the third inhabitant of the room.

"Y'know what? You're an ass. Stop being an ass, you…" Aeleus struggled to come up with the words and ended lamely, "Ass!"

"You know, sometimes your brain is amazingly eloquent. I mean, really, it's astounding!" Ienzo said loftily, examining his cuticles in a display of utter disinterest.

"Ienzoooo," Aeleus growled in exasperation.

"Yes, Aeleus?"

"If Myde ever met you, he'd be totally turned off by you because you're an annoying bitch who doesn't know how to shut up. But guess what? You're not going to meet him. Because there's no way in hell I'm asking Braig to set you up with him. You're supposed to be my boyfriend, not the imaginary boyfriend of some mullet-headed idiot who can't sing for shit!"

The look of loathing he received was tantamount to Ienzo's disdain for him. "I pity you," he said, words dripping with disgust.

"No, Ie, I pity you, because you're just a sad, sad girl who's in love with some washed-up singer and can't appreciate the boyfriend she already has—"

Something inside Ienzo snapped. He seized his psychology textbook that was resting unawares on the couch and threw it at the other's head. Aeleus, who seemed to realize that he'd gone too far, reflexively ducked. Truth be told, he didn't need to bother; Ienzo's aim was very poor and the book missed him by at least two feet.

"I," Ienzo began, ice-cold eyes glaring at him through the fringe of his hair, "am sick of being called a girl. I am sick of your obnoxious, repulsive, irrational behavior. And I don't care what you say, I'm going to meet Myde if it's the last thing I do!" he snarled, all traces of his cool composure extinguished. He pivoted on his heel and headed for the door, thoroughly fed up with the conversation.

"Yeah, well, it will be the last thing you ever do with me!" Aeleus called after Ienzo's retreating back, which stiffened noticeably.

Ienzo looked over his shoulder and opened his mouth, expecting a fully-formed witty retort to spring out. He looked taken-aback as he realized that no words came to him, and he snapped his mouth shut. Instead, he sniffed haughtily and left the room in as dignified a manner as he could muster, slamming the door behind him in a rare display of childish behavior.

Aeleus scowled sullenly at the door for a full minute before turning around to face Dilan, who looked as though Christmas had come early. "Was that a dick move I pulled?"

"Probably," Dilan conceded, but he didn't appear upset in the slightest. "Can't say I mind though. Beer?" He offered up the last bottle in their 24-pack.

"No," Aeleus said shortly.

"Your loss." He shrugged and took another swig of his own beer. "But hey, man, think of it this way," he said, clapping Aeleus on the shoulder. "By ending it with him, you're getting rid of an annoying, blood-sucking leech!" Come to think of it, he was feeling much cheerier after the row between Aeleus and Ienzo. At least he wasn't the only one with a miserable love life at the moment.

"I changed my mind," Aeleus said abruptly. "Pass me a beer."

"Too bad, you had your chance. I'm keeping the last one for myself." He held the beer just out of reach.

"…What?"

"Slow today, huh?" Dilan smirked; ragging on Aeleus was too good of an opportunity to pass up. "I said, no."

"Dude, come on!"

"Don't 'come on' me, I said no!"

"…Did you just say what I think you said?"

There was a pregnant pause as Dilan digested his words.

"This doesn't leave this room. Ever." He handed Aeleus the beer bottle.

"Agreed."

They drank their beers in silence.

Comments

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une_insomniaque
Nov. 17th, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
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