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I can't believe that this is really the end. This is the first writing project I've ever finished from start to finish. Six months. Eleven chapters. 62,969 words. These characters, this AU, have really become a part of me by now. And I can't believe this is it. The end of this story. But they'll be popping up from time to time in one-shots and the like, I'm sure. I love them to much to put them to rest for good.

I'm still kind of in shock. Posting this now, and I'll be back to reflect properly once I get my head in order.

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It was official. The transaction had been made, the rare deck of cards snapped up almost instantaneously. It was a collector's dream, with the certificate of authenticity, the proof that this was no forgery, being the clincher. He'd made $230 off of it, and yet he felt like he'd lost so much more. Feeling rather empty inside, Rudol packed up the cards as tenderly and carefully as possible, ensuring that they would leave and arrive at their new owner's home in perfect condition.

He couldn't bear the thought of going home, returning to England, and having to explain to his grandfather what he had done. Just thinking about it filled him with dread, so he pushed the thought aside and handed over his package to be shipped. The post office lady pried it from his reluctant grip, giving him an odd look as his fingers clenched the parcel involuntarily, but he didn't care what she thought of him. She was taking his baby from him, and it tore him up inside. With one last longing look, he pulled himself away and tried to suppress the sudden swell of emotions that surged up inside of him. He couldn't dwell on it. He had more pressing matters to worry about.

He had to keep himself busy, he told himself as he approached the ATM near the post office. He was beyond relieved to find that the buyer had followed his requests and completed the transaction in record time. A lump sum of $230 was sitting in his account. He withdrew everything, his fingers shaking slightly as he took the four crisp bills: two hundreds, a twenty, and a ten-dollar bill. This was the trade-off. This is what he got for giving up his deck of Jerry's Nugget playing cards.

He wasn't sure if it was worth it. "Of course it was," he tried to tell himself, but he wasn't doing a very good job at convincing himself. "This is your ticket out. This is what's going to save you." He clung to the words like a mantra, repeating them to himself as he headed home with his one last hope for repaying his debt in full.

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"One-thousand, seven-hundred and twenty… one-thousand, seven-hundred and twenty-one." He counted out the last of his cash and exhaled, flopping back on his bed and running his hands down his face in mingled exhaustion and pure, utter relief. He did it. It took a month of working every day, working harder than he'd ever had in his entire life, working himself until he was literally sick. It took the heartbreak of selling off his most prized possession. But he did it, and what's more, he did it without having to resort to borrowing or stealing or wheedling money from anyone. It… felt good.

God, it felt good. Different than anything he'd ever felt before in his life, but good.

Twenty minutes later, he was approaching the Zeta Beta Tau frat house with a thick manila envelope clutched in his hands. The odds of finding Seifer skulking in the shadows of the back alley behind the house with his trained thugs were high. And sure enough, he caught sight of the bookie loitering with the same large, dark-skinned guy he had ran into when seeking an extension, as well as a slight girl… boy… girl with deathly pale skin and hair as white as snow.

He pasted on a cocky grin and strode over to the bookie as confidently as someone who was finally forking over his much overdue payments could. Of course, his display of bravado was soon wiped on the pavement in a quite literal fashion as he stumbled over an outstretched foot and hit the ground. He climbed to his feet, swearing as he clutched his freshly-ripped jeans and glaring daggers at the girl who had tripped him.

"Oops," she said, her voice expressionless, but a malicious smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. Rudol shuddered involuntarily as he caught sight of the blood red eyes that stared at him unwaveringly.

"Here," he said shortly, stuffing the manila envelope into Seifer's hands.

"Oh, finally decided to pay up, didya? Wise decision. Count the money, Rai," Seifer said, but seemed to think better of it the minute the words left his lips. "You know what? You do it, Fuu," he decided.

Rudol had to bite back a laugh. If he was going by first impressions, he would have maintained that the buffoonish male wasn't smart enough to count past ten, and it seemed as though his assumption was correct.

The albino took the wads of cash and began briskly rifling through the bills. Rudol watched her count, his shoulders tense, hoping against hope that he'd managed to tally up the money correctly and hadn't slipped up or skipped a hundred or…

"All there," the girl said, deeming it all accounted for, and Rudol breathed a sigh of relief.

"Fine," Seifer said, making a note in the black book Rai handed to him and snapping it shut. "You're off the hook." He smirked. "I'm sure we'll be doing business with you in the future again."

"Actually, I don't think we will," Rudol said smoothly, struggling to keep his voice even. "Betting with you caused far too many problems in my life."

"Suit yourself. But remember… once a gambler, always a gambler." Seifer's smirk grew, a malicious glint in his eyes.

"Yeah, well, I've gambled away my life, and look how well that turned out for me." He'd heard enough and didn't trust himself not to rise to the bait, so he did the only logical thing: retreat.

"Whatever you say… chickenwuss. You'll be seeing me and my boys again, mark my words," Seifer called after Rudol's retreating back.

"Affirmative."

"We'll be waiting, ya know!"

Rudol clenched his fists, willing himself not to rise to the challenge, to be the better man, to not respond angrily… He blinked as he emerged from the back alley onto the sunny street of the Greek Row, blinded by the sun.

He made it. He did it. And he hoped that was one sorry chapter of his life that was over. He couldn't deny that he'd gamble again – he loved the thrill of it too much to ever kick the habit entirely. He was drawn to it like a fly to honey. It was his thing, it was his game… but he could promise himself that he'd never let his debt grow to that excess ever again.

And he sure as hell wouldn't give Seifer and his lackeys that satisfaction.

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With his debts paid off, there was only one thing left he had to do. And it involved fixing a lot of mistakes, mistakes that he wasn't sure he could ever repair.

"Are you sure this is going to work out okay?" he asked, attempting to assuage the nerves that swelled up inside him. It wasn't like him to get nervous – he was calm, easy-going, cocky, even. Not a nervous wreck who cared what anyone thought of him.

"Positive," L'Erena replied confidently. "I haven't been so positive since the last time I stuck my finger in a spark plug."

"If you say so." Rudol stared dubiously at the apartment door from his hiding place around the corner, unable to believe that he was actually going to do this.

Lumaria leaned over to hiss into L'Erena's ear, "Are you really sure that he can pull this off?"

"Between you and me? No," she whispered back. "But for fuck's sake, don't tell him that."  She raised her voice, nudging Rudol. "Okay, Rudy, just remember what we told you… Show him that you're sorry, show him that you've changed… but most importantly, be honest. That's the only way you can rebuild his trust in you."

Rudol looked back at his two best friends, who had decked themselves out in stealth gear, wearing all black and treating this as if it was a covert mission. Which, in a way, it kind of was. "Okay," he said, nodding to reassure himself that everything was going to be okay. "I'm gonna do this."

"Good luck." Lumaria and L'Erena saluted him in unison, snapping to attention and causing him to laugh out loud. Rudol ventured out from their secret hiding place (which really wasn't so secret, given that anyone who came out of the elevators could spot them right away, but at least their base wasn't visible if anyone in Dilan's apartment stepped outside) and walked up to the door in question.

He raised his hand, fully prepared to knock, only to chicken out at the last second. He doubled back, maintaining, "I can't do this. I cannot do this." He looked at L'Erena and Lumaria for help, his eyes wild.

"Yes you can!" Lumaria insisted, taking him by the shoulders and steering him back towards the apartment.

"Seriously, Rudy, what else do you have to lose? Nothing, so go knock on the door before I do it myself!"

"Okay. Okay, I can do this, I can do this…"

"Go!" they shouted as one, pointing at the door.

"Fine!" He composed himself, and his two comrades ducked around the corner once more. Rudol took a deep breath and knocked.

"Hang on!" a deep, muffled voice called, and the door swung open not two seconds later.

Rudol's heart plummeted. He didn't anticipate having to go through Dilan's roommate first. "Um. Hi?" he said weakly, thinking quickly. Aeleus was, if anything, even less forgiving than Dilan, and he had the sinking suspicion that he was about to be turned away before he could even make it through the door. Or punched in the face. Whichever.

"Oh, it's you," Aeleus said, his voice belying the fact that he viewed Rudol as something akin to scum. He folded his arms and regarded the intruder for one long, cold minute. "Give me one good reason why I should let you step foot through this door," he said at last, the contempt n his words unmistakable. "You have ten seconds. Go."

Rudol swallowed. He really had not been expecting this, and now he had to string together a coherent answer that could get him through the door. "Because I've changed. Because I want to apologize. Because I need to tell Dilan how I feel about—"

"—nine, ten. Time's up, sorry." Aeleus abruptly shut the door in Rudol's face.

Rudol groaned and rested his forehead against the door, cursing the world at large. He was about to turn back and tell Lumaria and L'Erena that he'd tried to no avail, when he heard hushed voices arguing from behind the door. He paused and pressed his ear up against it, straining to catch the words.

"—him. You're making a mistake."

"Dude, at this point, I don't even give a shit anymore. I'd like to hear what he has to say for himself. …Fucking asshole." Rudol thought it said a lot about him that he was overjoyed to hear Dilan's voice, even if the tone was hostile and his anger directed at him.                           

"Fine, but if he pulls anything funny, I'm beating the shit out of him."

"As long as you let me get a shot at him too, I'm all for it."

"You said it, bro."

The door swung open again, catching Rudol off guard, and he fell into Aeleus, who had opened it.

The larger man looked down at him in distaste and said shortly, "He said he'll see you."

Rudol stepped through the door warily, eyes darting back and forth as he took in the familiar surroundings. He'd had many good memories here, true. Most of them ended up with him getting laid. But the last time he'd seen this place, things had not ended quite as well. In fact he seemed to recall things ending on a very sour note. And there was no sugarcoating it — he'd treated Dilan terribly. It was no wonder he wasn't welcome here. And Aeleus had seated himself on the couch so that he could hear everything that was said, even with his back to them. He was making it a strong point to warn Rudol that if he messed with Dilan, he'd have to answer to Aeleus as well. The only thing that was missing was Ienzo, judging him. Thank heavens for small favors.

He tried to smile at Dilan, who was leaning against the wall with his arms folded across his chest, but his half-hearted grin faltered at the stony expression on the other's face.

"So, it's you," Dilan said flatly in the same dead tone that Aeleus had used in greeting Rudol. It would have been almost funny if it wasn't for how serious the situation was. "What do you want?" he asked, his voice accusing. "Come to steal something from me like the dirty little thief you are?"

"No, of course not. I— I just wanted to say…" Rudol swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. "Um. Sorry."

Dilan stared at him in disbelief, his arms still crossed across his chest. "Sorry? That's it?"

"No! I didn't mean it like—" Rudol cursed himself. Two seconds in, and he already fucked up his carefully planned-out apology.

"You think you can just waltz in here and say you're sorry and that'll automatically make everything okay? I can't trust anything you have to say, especially when all you have to say is a totally insincere sorry. You dumped me once, completely out of the blue. How do I know you won't turn around and pull something like that again? You stole money from me, you jerked me around, acting like we had something when we didn't, we had nothing—" Dilan broke off before he lost control of his emotions entirely, his voice laden with hurt and heated anger.

Rudol winced. He couldn't deny the accusations. He knew all too well that they were true, every last word. "I know," he admitted, keeping his voice low. "I was a dick. I was a complete and utter arsehole. I can admit it. I know it doesn't make any of what I did right, but I'm trying to change. I really am. Please, you have to believe me. I've cleaned up— I paid back all of my debts, I haven't made a single bet since—"            

"Yeah, and just how many people did you have to steal from to pay them back?" Dilan interrupted coldly.

"None, only me!" He was too anxious and despairing to really be offended. "…Dilan, I straightened out, I swear—" Desperately longing to communicate, Rudol grabbed two fistfuls of Dilan's shirt and pulled him down to his level. "I got an honest job. I worked every day for a month, including weekends. I— I—" He knew he was stammering incoherently, but he was having a hard time finding the appropriate words to express his feelings. "I sold my Jerry's Nugget playing cards," he finally said, his voice breaking as he recalled the emptiness he'd felt the morning. "It wasn't even just because I needed the money that badly — I could've done so many more unsavory things to get the last few hundred bucks, you know that. But I just couldn't do it." He laughed somewhat breathlessly, still unable to get his head around everything. "I did it for you. Because I love you."

He broke off, scarcely able to believe what he was saying. It took him so long to even admit it to himself; it was surreal that he was able to speak the words out loud. He knew he was commitment-phobic, he knew that he was flighty. He never liked the idea of being tied down to just one person. It was why he had balked when he realized that Dilan had an entirely different take on their relationship than he did, and why he'd cut it off so quickly and harshly. And yet… he was ready. He wanted to make amends, he wanted to commit to Dilan. If he hadn't already known in his heart that he loved him, seeing Dilan had solidified it. "Yeah, I said it." Rudol met his eyes, silently pleading for him to understand what this confession meant to him. "I love you. I fucking love you." His voice cracked on the last syllable.

Dilan didn't say anything, simply looked at him coldly, and Rudol felt his heart lurch sickeningly. It was like his fever-induced nightmares all over again. "What do I have to do to prove to you that I am sincere about this?" he asked. "I do love you, and I don't say that lightly. You're the first person I've ever said those words to— you're the first person I've ever wanted to say those words to. Because, Christ, they're true. I want to be with you again, Dilan. I want you, and only you."

"…I don't want you touching me right now," Dilan said, his voice cutting through Rudol like steel. Dilan pulled his shirt out of Rudol's grasp and put several feet of distance between them. He ran his hands down his face in exasperation before spitting out, "And what makes you think I still want you, after the way you betrayed me? Do you remember what you did to me? There's nothing you can do to fix that."

"I never meant to hurt you," Rudol said quietly.

Dilan laughed, incredulous. "Never meant to— of course you did! You knew exactly what you were doing. At least have the fucking decency to admit it!"

Rudol's temper flared dangerously and he matched Dilan's tone, bellowing back at him, "I was scared, okay?"

Dilan snorted. "Yeah. Right." They glared at each other until Rudol, unable to take it, broke his gaze. Dilan let out an aggravated noise, and Rudol felt like he'd let him down all over again. "Why are you doing this to me…? For fuck's sake, it's been a month and a half, Rudol! For all you know, you're too late. Maybe I've found someone else, someone who treats me better than you ever treated me."

Rudol recoiled as if he'd been slapped. In all of his worst-case scenarios, the possibility of being replaced had never occurred to him. Trying to steady himself, he wet his lips and took a deep breath before replying.

"All right," he said carefully. "You're right. I shouldn't have expected you to wait around for me to get my shit together. It was stupid of me. Of course you've moved on." He forced a smile, but his eyes were void of their usual laughing glint, a thinly veiled attempt to disguise his pain. "I just… I hope you're happy," he said, and he genuinely meant it. It wasn't sarcasm. "And if that means a life without me, if you want me to leave and never bother you again, then I'll disappear. I'll do it, whatever it takes. I don't want to hurt you anymore." He turned and made his way to the door, preparing to leave.

Dilan exhaled in vexation, a frustrated noise that made Rudol linger, his hand hovering over the doorknob. It was too much to hope for forgiveness at this point, but he couldn't help the little glimmer of hope that flared within him. The spark inside of him extinguished when Dilan started in on him again.

"You're unbelievable," Dilan burst out. "You're fucking unbelievable. After all that, you're seriously doing this to me now? No, I never moved on. No, I never forgot about you, no matter how hard I tried. And believe me, I did." He stared at Rudol, the accusation in his eyes making the blond fidget guiltily.

Dilan continued relentlessly, eyes still boring a hole in Rudol's head. "And yet, no matter how much I convinced myself that I hated you, there was always that one part deep down that never stopped loving you, even if you did turn out to be a two-timing piece of shit." He snorted and shook his head, looking up at the ceiling and blinking. "Listen to me," he muttered, more to himself than anything, "talking about my feelings like I'm some kind of girl or something."

"Next thing you know, you'll be changing your name to Ienzo," Rudol ventured tentatively. He giggled, unable to keep his nerves and the tension from bubbling over. Unfortunately for him, he'd almost forgotten that Aeleus was still in the room, and he chanced half a glance at the back of his head. He regretted his words the moment they slipped out from between his lips; this wasn't the time for wisecracks, and he didn't need to provoke Aeleus further, having already betrayed and upset his roommate and best friend. Rudol was already on thin enough ice that making a wisecrack about his boyfriend could be enough to tip him over the edge.

Mercifully, Aeleus didn't say anything, although his body did stiffen noticeably, his jaw set and his fists clenched.

Dilan cracked a thin smile, and Rudol was elated at this small victory. When Dilan didn't say anything else, he decided to press his luck and proceed further.

"I'm not saying everything's going to be perfect right away. I can't— I can't promise that," he began, choosing his words with care. "And I know it's going to take some time for things to go back to the way they were, if… well, if they ever can. I know there's so much fucked up about me that I need to fix. But I want to try. I really fucking want to do this. And I can't bear doing it alone. I need help. I need your help. But it's not about me anymore, Dilan, it's about you. And it's your decision as to what happens next." He smiled wryly. "I lost the right to make that decision when I dumped you. All I can do is ask, and pray that you'll say yes…" He took a deep breath. This was the moment. "Can we start over?"

Dilan mulled the request over, pensively staring at the floor with his arms crossed across his chest once more. After a tense silence, he looked up and shook his head regretfully. "I still love you, Rudy," he said. "I always have. But I just don't know if I can be with someone who hurt me as badly as you did. I don't know if I can trust you anymore. I don't know if us being together is a good idea."

He'd expected to feel more over Dilan's rejection of him. But all he felt was a paralyzing numbness. He was dead on the inside, and all he could think of was that he should have expected this all along. But when the numbness wore away, he could only feel the masked pain. "I understand," he said after an agonizing silence, his voice sounding hollow even to his own ears. "I'll just… go now, shall I?" He didn't wait for an answer. He just wanted more than anything to duck out of here and seek solace in the arms of his friends.

But Dilan's fingers closed around his wrist, and he turned back, confused and hurt and upset that Dilan had to interrupt what was supposed to be a quiet departure. Any protests or angry retorts died on his lips when he looked into Dilan's intense, piercing gaze, meeting the eyes that he was convinced could see into his soul in all of his imperfections. Dilan continued, "But that's a risk I'm willing to take."

Rudol opened his mouth in startled incomprehension, about to ask him what he meant, but then Dilan's lips were on his, and he threw caution to the wind and kissed him back forcefully, losing himself in his arms. His hands made their way up to the side of Dilan's face to pull him closer, gripping him tightly as he returned the kiss, too afraid to let go and find that this was all a dream.

He didn't know how long it took for one of them to pull apart, and when they did, he found himself out of breath and gasping for air. Dilan himself looked just as dazed and confused as he felt.

"You got a tongue stud," was the first coherent sentence he was able to string together.

Rudol grinned wickedly and flashed the silver piercing. "Sure did."

"Annnd, that's my cue to leave," Aeleus mumbled, rolling his eyes and pulling down the brim of his Sigma Chi cap as he slouched past them.

"Thanks, bro," Dilan said, clapping him on the shoulder as he passed.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Aeleus pulled the door open, only to let out a small shout of surprise when two black-clad figures tumbled through the door. "What the—"

Lumaria disentangled himself from L'Erena and bounced to his feet. "Can I be the best man?" he blurted out eagerly, spilling the beans as to what he and his partner-in-crime had been whispering about on the opposite side of the door.

"I told him that I'd really be more suitable," L'Erena added, dusting herself off.

"Rennie and Lulu," Rudol muttered into Dilan's ear by way of introduction. "I know they're crazy, just go with it. It's no use arguing with them when they get like this." He turned to Lumaria, grinning. "You can be the flower girl, mate."

"Well," came another dry, familiar voice as its owner appeared just outside the door. "It appears as though I'm interrupting what looks like a cozy get-together." Ienzo gave the two strangers a once-over, then his eyes flicked over to Dilan and Rudol and their interlocked hands. He raised an eyebrow inquiringly. "I won't comment."

"Thank you." Dilan sighed in aggravation. "Now go away, bitch," he added under his breath, so low that only Rudol caught the words.

"But regardless, I'm here for another reason entirely. And although I'd prefer to not have an audience while I speak with Aeleus, I'm afraid the news can't wait." Ienzo pushed his way past Rudol's friends and began speaking to his boyfriend in a hushed, excited voice. L'Erena and Lumaria glanced at each other and nodded, creeping closer so they could listen to what Ienzo had to say.

"Aeleus, you recall Myde giving me his phone number, correct? Well, I've been texting him on and off all week, and—" Ienzo took a deep breath to steady himself, bubbling with excitement in an all too uncharacteristic fashion "—he invited me to go shopping with him this weekend! I'm going to help him pick out an outfit to wear to this upcoming photoshoot…"

"Oh god, Ienzo. You're becoming a groupie." Aeleus was torn between being aghast or being grateful that their relationship was firmly in 'gay bffs' territory.

"Oh, shopping! I love shopping!" Lumaria interjected brightly. "Can I come too?"

Ienzo turned to face him. "I'm sorry, who are you again?"

"I'm Lulu, but you can call me Mr. Fabulous. So! Who is this guy and why is he famous enough to have his own photoshoot?"

"Only the most famous rockstar to grace this earth— Myde of Flaming Oceans!" Ienzo drew himself up to his full height, bursting with pride that he could say that he was friends, however marginally, with someone whom he considered to be a rock god.

"Ooh, yeah, he definitely needs that shopping trip. Which is why I'm coming with you, because someone needs to tell him that he just can't appear in magazines wearing those kinds of clothes. I mean, that jacket he likes to wear? It's got to go. Only David Bowie can pull off the Ziggy Stardust look."

"Excuse me, but Myde is iconic enough to pull off any look he wants," Ienzo sniffed, indignant.

"Well, I'm not saying that he can't work some of his outfits," Lumaria reasoned, conceding the point. "He looked fabulous at his last concert, for instance. But most of it? Sooo passé," he drawled, with a roll of his eyes and a limp-wristed gesture.

"Lulu, your gay is showing," L'Erena commented.

Lumaria rounded on her, a manic gleam in his eyes suggesting that he had just gotten a fantastic idea. "Come with us, and we'll give you a makeover! You're not going to bed Nami in those ratty old hoodies."

"That won't be necessary," L'Erena replied, a slow catlike grin spreading across her face.

"What— oh my god, Rennie! Did you have sex with her? When? Why didn't you tell me? I'm your bff, you're supposed to tell me these things!"

"I didn't have sex with her! Well, not yet… but I may or may not have gotten to second base with her last night. And we may or may not have been watching a movie that never got finished. And she may or may not have left her bra at my place this morning."

Lumaria let out a squeal and took her hands, jumping up and down in excitement. "But see, this just proves that you have to come with us! We can get you a sense of style for your next date with Nami, and we can get Myde out of those horrid pointy-shouldered jackets!"

"I beg to differ—" Ienzo began to say, his voice dignified, but Lumaria cut him off neatly.

"Shut up, yes, they are horrid," Lumaria interrupted, waving his hand dismissively. "I mean, why else do you think I'm majoring in fashion design? I can tell these things!"

"Dil…" Aeleus muttered out of the corner of his mouth, staring in disbelief at the animated group as if they were speaking in a foreign language, which, to him and his roommate, they really were. "Is. Is this real life?"

"Dude. I don't even know. What… what just happened?"

"No, it's a brilliant plan!" Lumaria insisted, swiveling around to face Rudol. "Don't you think so, Rudy?"

"Fab," Rudol replied drolly, letting go of Dilan's hand long enough to spin Lumaria around and begin herding the group out of the apartment. "And hey, here's an even more brilliant idea. Why don't you lot just piss off? We were kind of in the middle of a serious conversation here."

"Ooh, you're right." The real reason they were here to begin with dawned on the others. "Yeah, we'll just get going. Go get some, Rudy."  Lumaria winked knowingly at Rudol, then linked arms with L'Erena and Ienzo, ignoring the latter's squawks of protest. With that, he dragged them down the hall, singing the praises of his new gay best friend and the upcoming shopping trip that he all but hijacked.

Aeleus looked at Dilan helplessly.

"Sorry, bro, you're on your own here," Dilan snickered.

"I hate you so much for leaving me all by myself with these idiots," Aeleus said bitterly, shaking his head in resignation. "I feel like the only guy in the middle of an all-girls sleepover."

"Sucks to be you," Dilan said, grinning as he shut the door behind him.

"It's cruel and unusual punishment to leave him alone with the two of them plus Ienzo," Rudol commented, his heart feeling lighter than ever as he took Dilan by the hand. "It's a gay-fest out there with the three of them together."

"He'll get over it," Dilan replied, running his thumb over Rudol's fingers. The silence that followed was slightly awkward, as neither knew quite what to do now that they were alone together for the first time in what felt like ages. There were so many things left unsaid, so much damage control that still needed to be done. And for the first time in his life, Rudol felt vulnerable, and there was one question that continued to bother him.

"Why'd you take me back?" he asked, partly to break the suffocating silence and partly because he needed to know the answer.

"…I don't know," Dilan said after a moment's thought. "Maybe I'm just setting myself up to get hurt again. Maybe I'll regret it. But I think I'd regret it even more if I let you walk away without giving you a second chance."

Rudol mulled over the words in his head, then buried his head into Dilan's chest. "God, I don't deserve you," he groaned, his voice muffled by the fabric of the t-shirt.

"Shut up," Dilan replied, eloquent as ever. He embraced him, resting his chin on top of his head, and closed his eyes. He needed time to soak this in. The only human contact he'd had in the past month and a half was fleeting: a friendly punch in the arm, a thump on the back, the occasional bro-hug from Aeleus. Nothing like this, nothing like holding a warm body close against his, nothing even remotely this intimate. "Come on," he said suddenly, pulling away and taking Rudol by the hand. "Let's go lay down."

Rudol followed Dilan to the bedroom, where they tumbled onto Dilan's bed. He curled up, nestling himself next to Dilan's body. "I missed you," he murmured, resting his head on Dilan's chest. "I dreamed about you, y'know. All last week. I was burning up, and you were the only thing I could think of, awake or asleep. And now I'm still having a hard time believing this isn't all a dream."

He glanced up at Dilan, who was looking at him with uncharacteristic tenderness. "Yeah, well, if you're dreaming, I am too. And I don't want to wake up if it is."

"You don't have to wake up. We're in this together now, you and me." Rudol shifted his weight so that he was on top of him. "There's no getting rid of me this time. I'm sticking with you..." He grinned unrestrainedly, the elation of the fact that he was finally with Dilan again finally sinking in, and finished, "Through thick and thin."

"Good," Dilan replied, running his thumb over Rudol's jaw, still unable to tear his eyes from him. "Cause I'm not letting you go." He tilted his chin upwards and kissed him, softly, slowly, luxuriously. There was no rush. They could take it slow, a totally foreign concept to the two of them.

But then, they had all the time in the world now.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
milasass
Apr. 13th, 2011 08:25 am (UTC)
This blog is bookmarked! I really love the stuff you have put here.

webetall
Apr. 16th, 2011 01:54 am (UTC)
Thanks for your share! very impressive!

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