Title: Seeds of the Pomegranate
Author: Kelandris the Mad
Fandom: View Askewniverse
Pairing: Jay/Silent Bob
Rating: NC-17 towards the end, PG-13 throughout most of it
Status: posted to the site 8 October 2004
Feedback: Kelandris
Archive: Yes if you tell me
Series/Sequel: Answer to Meghan's Goth Bob challenge.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Kevin Smith and the View Askewniverse, save for Avriel, who worked very hard at the Spirit Superstore during the Hallows season here in Spokane. Very cool lady; I hope she comes in to the shop soon so we can talk more.
Notes: Yes, Avriel is a real person, but this is my creation of her, not actually her; not that I need to make the point, but still. This was written in slashes to three strange soundtracks--scattered childrens' programming, New Age music, and repeated viewings of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, "Once More with Feeling". And "Curl Up and Dye" may be somewhere in New Jersey, I haven't checked; but I know it's here in Spokane. Sadly, it's not a goth outlet.
Warnings: Some chick action with Bob. Oh, please, deal--he gets Jay in the end. :>
Summary: Bob helps a girl by going undercover in a goth club.

"Seeds of the Pomegranate"
by Kelandris the Mad

*At the death of Eurydice, Orpheus in mourning struck a bargain to enter the Underworld alive. He walked through the labyrinth of the dead, looking for Hades, who told him he could play for Eurydice's life. He played so skillfully Hades granted him Eurydice, but only if he walked out of Hades' realm without looking back. He nearly made it, though at every step he was convinced this was all a cruel trick of Hades' invention, and Eurydice was not, in truth, following him at all. At the last minute, at the mouth of the Underworld, he experienced doubt, and turned around.

*Eurydice faded before his eyes, reaching for him, and he knew all hope was gone.*

*The First Step: Orpheus Loses Eurydice*

The customer looked unconvinced, standing there peering uneasily at the bag of rich bud Jay held. The blond smirked, rolling it up in practiced fingers and moving it like a cigar beside his face.

"Never gonna see this again, my man. Look at those heavy buds. Those fine little red hairs. Look at the bottom of the bag, dude--do you see even *five* seeds?"

Jay shook the bag out for him to look again, then folded his long fingers around the bag.

"Going...going...better grab it quick, dude, we got other fuckin' places to *be*..."

"I'll take it!" the man said, sounding hysterical and disconnected at the same time. Jay just nodded.

"You made the right choice, dude. Now cough up the cash."

While the man uncrumpled various bills, Jay looked over his shoulder. He had a prime insult salting his lips, but Bob wasn't standing. Now, where the fuck had *he* gone? He looked around for a moment, then spotted him standing off a little distance, next to some slut. Shit, all the fuckin' time...

Wait, it was some slut he knew. What the fuck was her name...Amy...no. April?

No, *Avriel*...who the hell was named Avriel anyway...some Cali-fuckin-transplant from San *Fran* of al places, right here in Red Bank. Or did she live in Highlands? Like he even cared enough to keep track.

As usual, she was all gothed out an' shit. Pale face, extravagantly shadowed eyes, blood-red lips, black nails. Lace an' frills an' piercings--one through the nose, one through the lip, and one through the eyebrow. Okay, the piercings didn't bug him, hell, he had the nose pierced himself, and the rings in his eyebrow, so like he had fucking ground to stand on there. But there were a whole bunch of rings on her ears, like trophy markers.

Briefly he was distracted by the thought of those ruby lips wrapped around his cock, but he shook it off and ambled over. What was the confab session for, anyway?

He caught only snatches of their conversation as he stepped closer.

"--taking a big risk, Vree--"

Jay sneered. Oh, sure, bitch talks to *other* people--bitch talks to *girls*--but not him. Silent motherfucker. One of these days--

They were talkin' again. Jay inched closer.

"Tell me what you need."

"All you have to do is--"

"Yo, my *man!*"
Jay jumped a clear foot, snarling as he turned. "What the fuck do you--oh," he said. He looked at the big, vaguely dazed man standing beside him, loopy grin wandering around his face.

Fred Oberkowski. Pothead Fred. Normally one of his nearest and dearest. Today, though, he could have stood without seeing him.

"Hey, dude," Fred said.

"Hey," he said distractedly.

"You got some choice bud this week?"

"Some," he hedged. He scanned the lot--normally Bob's job, but Moron Boy was still flirtin' with the chicklet, not doin' his job.

Looked clear. He rolled out his stash, and Pothead--bless his stoned li'l heart--bought everything he had.

"Big party," he mumbled, rolling his eyes.

Yeah, Jay thought. Like I fucking care. Jay watched him walk away, the clean weight of several hundred dollars in one pocket cheering him, even with GothGirl slobbering all over his Muscle. Pretty good day overall. Then his eyes drifted back to Bob and his mood sunk. What now? He stalked over to where they stood talking, only to watch Bob's last nod and shoulder squeeze on the mutant chicky, and watch her scurry away.

"And what the fuck was *that* all about?" he asked, looking after her. The corset she wore was the same shade of eggplant velvet as her skirt, but the shirt was black, as were the leather boots that seemed molded to her shapely calves. Just for a moment, he was entranced, then he shook it off again, and turned back to Bob.

Bob just shrugged. Jay snarled again.

"So I get nothin'? You have some conspiracy going with the dead set, and you don't tell me?" Bob shrugged again. "Nothing to tell. She's a friend."

"Friend. Sure. Blow you in the nearest back room, think I don't know that?"

Bob shook his head. Jay turned, one arm flailing in the air behind him. His face contorted as he looked around the empty lot.

"Fuck you, dude. We're sold out. Let's get home already." He didn't wait for confirmation, just started walking towards the bus stop. He knew Bob would follow, but something in him still waited until he heard the slight sussurance of leather brushing against sweats to be sure Bob was behind him. Fucker and his secrets, let him keep 'em. Like he cared. Like he cared at all.

The ride home was silent and tense. Jay didn't feel up to his usual patter; after the first few comments, everything seemed to have hidden edges, and he just sat there, arms folded across his chest. By the time he got home, he was reaching a fine simmer, and couldn't seem to shake the grimace from his mug. Being home didn't help. He couldn't remember what the movie was they watched, after the credits rolled, and he didn't feel up to a bowl of the good stuff, or even a beer. He drank coffee and felt as bitter as the black liquid in the cup.

Bob, man. Motherfuckin' Bob. It wasn't like they didn't share things. Fuck, roommates did that. Bob knew everything about him, and where girls were concerned...Okay, sure, some years Bob got more bush, some years him, and sometimes they shared a split-tail now and again. Nothin' wrong with that. Guys did that. But this...what the hell did he see in Avriel, anyway? It wasn't the first time he'd caught them talking.

Friend, my ass, he thought resentfully, and rose from the couch. Time to take this all to bed, let his head clear out before tomorrow. But at the door to his room, he turned, looking behind him. Bob still sat on the couch, but now he was looking over to where Jay stood. The expression on his face...

Jay closed his eyes, willing the expression away. When he opened them, Bob's face was blank, but that unguarded vulnerability was gone.

"So," he said. He sounded unsure, and damned himself for it. "You wanna hang out at the mall tomorrow? We still have some of the mid-range, we could bring that over...?"

Bob shook his head. "Thought I'd stay in," he said softly. He looked away and Jay felt his fists clench. Mother*fucker*...

"Yeah," he said. "Sure." And he walked into his room, throwing clothes wherever they fell, and curled around his pillow, looking at the blank wall which was his side of Bob's room. Fucker...

He'd show him. He'd dog him until Bob told him what the fuck was up. Then he'd know. Then he'd know what it was Bob was hiding.

Then he'd clock him in his stupid, pretty face. One good right hook...yeah, and then Bob would get up and tear him to pieces. Jay sighed, curling tighter around the pillow. Still. Wipe that smug look off his Muscle's face...even for a moment...Yeah.

With that thought, he fell asleep.

*The Second Step: Orpheus Plays for the life of Eurydice*

It was three o'clock and Bob couldn't take it any more. Jay had been twitchy all this morning. He hadn't let Bob out of his sight, and he'd been behaving very oddly--even for his normally odd self. Bob had finally gotten tired of the suspicious glances, and called a cab. He figured, the extra expense was worth it. Plus, anything to get rid of the new Jay-on-paranoia motif he'd started. He sighed, leaning back into the back seat of the cab, thinking. The sad thing was, he'd started this, because he didn't feel he could tell Jay about what Avriel had asked. He didn't think Jay would understand; moreover, might want to interfere somehow. And that wouldn't help the situation.

Half an hour went by as the thoughts circled in his head, heavy. Avriel had told him about her sister, trapped in the bad relationship with a control freak. "If we get her away from him, I'll have a chance to talk with her," she'd said. "If this is really what she wants, then I'll step out of it. Good or bad, it's her choice. But if he's holding her against her will...Rob-my-lad, you have to help."

He smiled at the memory. She was still the only one who could get away with calling him anything other than Bob. It made him smile.

On the other hand, what she wanted him to do...wasn't really the lace and makeup type, though he understood the drive of high fashion. He just wasn't a fashion plate himself. Normally, he left that for Jay. Of course, Jay had some pretty strange ideas about what looked good. He still remembered that one Christmas Jay had him dress up as Santa, and he'd played one of Santa's elves, but his version of an elf was complete with torn black mesh tee and fishnets. Not that it had been unattractive, especially with the Star Wars ornaments and the little flashing lights. But it had been very odd.

Now, as he pulled in front of Trieste, he shook his head again. Import shops now. And Avriel inside, waiting for him. Shit...what had he gotten himself into?

He steeled his resolve, flipping a twenty to the driver and stepping to the curb. He swallowed, walking inside, and immediately had his bones pounded to jelly by an old Sex Pistols track on high volume. "ANARCHY!" Sid Vicious screamed. "ANARCHY IN THE UK!"

Latex hung in various shades from the walls, leather lined the forward racks. He saw tees and boots painted with the Union Jack, and one mannequin wore a corset that looked like it would cinch down to a ten-inch waist. He shook his head, turning to leave, and Avriel walked in from the back room.

"Rob-my-Rob, right on time," she murmured, and took his arm. "Let's get you in mufti for your mission."

He rolled his eyes, but went with her into the back room. Boxes were piled haphazardly, some spilling out boas, some spilling out whips. He swallowed again.

"Now, Bob...you're not nervous, are you?"

He just shrugged. She smiled, tweaking his chin.

"And that's why you're so unbearably cute," she said, then turned to the nearest box, digging through it.

"We just got a shipment in of larger size stuff. The demand is incredible." She pulled out a white shirt, the front a precise line of pearl buttons, all the way to the throat. She pressed it against him, gauging the size.

"Or would you prefer this?"

She pressed another one against him, this one a soft, stonewashed silk, lined with faceted jet buttons that couldn't be more than a quarter-inch in diameter. His eyebrows went up, and she nodded.

"The black it is. Okay, leather pants? Or, we do have black denim from the Rue de Punk collection?"

**Rue de...** He shook his head.

"Leather, leather..." she mused. She began to rummage through boxes and bins. "Let's see...accessories, well, here!" She tossed him a black spiked collar, and then a second one flew out of the air at him. He caught both, and his eyes grew wide. One buckled on and had what looked like four-inch daggers spraying off it every inch. The other snapped on, and had small, square studs. He held up that one, but shrugged.

"Hmm...maybe you're right." She rummaged deeper in the bin, then shrieked. "Oh, *yes!*"

She turned, holding up what looked like a collar at first, and then Bob pursed his lips, thinking. One side of his mouth quirked up. Yeah. Maybe that. Yeah.

He took what she was holding, seeing if it would buckle around his neck. It fit perfectly. She led him to a mirror, and watched as she took his hair out of the ponytail it was in, laying it over his shoulders.

The collar buckled on in back, but that would be hidden by hair. It wasn't a simple band, either--it angled down in front like the front of the corset he'd seen in the store, and was a narrower band only near the buckle. The rest of it wasn't studded, it was just unrelieved black leather, but it was carved--twin rose cut-outs trailed down each side of his neck, from thorn ends to blooms at the front of the throat. And dangling from the bottom of the arch, a sterling ankh. It seemed to rest at the hollow of his throat as if it had been designed for him.

"Oh, that's too perfect," Avriel whispered behind him. He could only nod and smile, turning to face her. She pecked a kiss on the tip of his nose.

"Now, for the rest of it..."

He spent the next hour trying on various things. It turned out the first black shirt wouldn't fit him, but the third one did. (Avriel apologized for that-- "Imports, you know, sizes are never right"--and he just nodded, feeling uncomfortable.) Finding leather pants in his size was looking grim indeed, until she remembered the lace-ups in the very back. He put a pair on and then shook his head, stepping away from the mirror.

"Oh, no," he said, looking over the changing room doors. "No."

"What? Let me see."

He shook his head, backing away. Contrary to protocol, she stepped into the changing room to see him. When she did, she looked him over with a critical eye, and then shrugged.

"What's the big deal? So there's more of Bob than we expected."

He frowned at her, gesturing at the pants. There were large gaps along the sides, showing a considerable amount of thigh.

She just shook her head. "All right, you big baby...Hold on." She went back to the storeroom, humming something ethereal as she dug through the back box. She made some triumphant noise, and suddenly a length of black was sailing towards his head. He caught it. It was soft to the touch, glimmering under the fluorescents, and decidedly not leather. He raised an eyebrow at her and she raised her arms.

"Like you're complaining over me making you more pettable. It's panné velvet, bonded to a cotton blend, in case you're curious. Should fit. At least, I hope so."

He tried them on, and they did fit, after a fashion. The waistband was a bit tight, but with the black silk shirt untucked, the hem fell to mid-thigh and covered up the waist. Okay. It could work.

Within moments, then, he'd tried on the boots she'd tossed him, and the suede duster she'd handed back--it drifted like the silk shirt, so unlike his normal black leather I-am-a-tank outfit. He changed back, bundled everything up, and stepped out of the changing room. She was just finishing up writing down the product codes--"Inventory,", she said briefly--then led him out of the storeroom, and out of Trieste, grabbing a bag for his outfit as she went.

Next door was Curl Up and Dye, and several white-faced boys in torn clothing sneered at Bob as they went in. He looked back, putting everything he had into Menacing Man Shopping, and apparently they bought it, fading back from the door as he stepped into the place. He shook his head, and Avriel just snickered.

She walked over to a man leaning against a full-length mirror, cleaning his nails with a small dagger.

"Hey, Tone," she said, smiling.

"Avriel, my darling girl," he purred. "And what do you have here?"

"Larval goth," she said. "We need hair and makeup, at least, if not a full consultation on movement. And," she added, glancing at the pendant on her chest, an ornate silver watch, "we need to be out of here by nine at the latest."

"Hmm...Tricky," he purred, his gaze nearly groping Bob as it drifted down from nape to heels. "I love a challenge, though...All right, my boy, into the chair."

**How do I get myself talked into these things?** he thought, but walked over and sat down. Avriel took the Trieste bag, holding it as she perched on a stool.

What followed would have been fascinating if he was watching someone else. As it was him, it was by turns uncomfortable, painful, embarrassing or just downright weird. First, Tone called over a girl who carefully shaved his face everywhere the beard wasn't, and plucked his eyebrows. That hurt a *great* deal. Then Tone carefully foiled his hair and beard, applying a strong bleaching solution that burned whenever he inhaled. It took his hair up to a reddish shade, and Tone washed it carefully out before applying a coating of hot oil to his scalp, rubbing it in while he clucked over his hair.

"You have lovely hair, my lad, and I'm mutilating it for you. The things I do for a fellow merchant...Just don't do this at home, all right? Or you'll lose it all."

Bob doubted he was in any danger, watching in the mirror as Tone applied more foil and bleach. Another round brought him up to a strawberry blond, and another application of oil later, Tone had one of the other stylists wash out his hair while he prepared the dye. Bob had to admit, it was interesting having his hair washed by a girl in a blue spiked Mohawk. He thought, he might be able to come back here on occasion, if only for that.

Once back in the chair, Tone applied dye carefully to the newly bleached hair and beard, and then very carefully across his eyebrows. Because of the plucking, he thought, it burned slightly there, causing him to shift uncomfortably in his chair.

"Try not to open your eyes," he muttered. He shrugged slightly, keeping his eyes closed. Tone applied something cool and minty-smelling to his face, neck and hands, smoothing more of it over the upper part of his chest. It was a long forty-five minutes until the next washing. This time he got a girl in a bi-level bob--the top layer was dyed blonde, the bottom layer was dyed pink, and the roots were just coming in copper-penny red. Interesting.

Then he blinked, as she was towel-drying his hair. That wasn't him. He leaned forward, blinking. That was *him?*
In the mirror was a man with jet-black hair and beard, and arching eyebrows over gleaming seal-brown eyes. His skin was as pale as Avriel's, even before makeup. He looked at Tone, who only shook his head.

"Trade secret. And yes, it will wear off."

Well. Okay, then. Mystified, he took one more look, and then Tone grabbed him, spinning him around. "And now, makeup!" he announced, in a very self-satisfied tone.

This time, both Avriel and the girl with the bi-level crowded around him, applying green concealer to even out his skin tone, powdering his face and neck with rice powder and talc, outlining his eyes in black. Avriel straddled him and he shifted in the chair again.

"Lips, silly," she muttered. But it still felt terribly intimate to have her lean forward on him, while she painted his lips a deep purple-black. The other girl, meanwhile, was humming that same ethereal tune while she painted his nails black.

"What is that you're humming?" he asked after Avriel stood up.

"Chainsaw Babies," the girl said, her voice sounding younger than her face. "Don't kill me too soon."

He must have looked baffled, because she smiled, shaking her head. "It's their newest single--'Don't Kill Me Too Soon'. They're playing at the Pom tonight; you're in for a treat."

Bob blinked. Ooooo-kay...He'd heard stories about the Pomegranate, of course--cops liked to raid the place, searching for drugs and other contraband. They never found any inside. Sometimes the parking lot, but that wasn't the Pom. Still, the cops watched the owner of the bar, simply because he owned a bar that catered predominately to the counterculture--goths, punks, subs, doms, freaks of all descriptions. And tonight, for the first time Bob was going to go inside. He wasn't as thrilled about the idea at this point.

Avriel glanced at her watch. "'Bout that time, bruiser. Go back and change. I'll call a cab."

He grabbed the bag, and Tone led him back to a storeroom, where he changed into what still felt like costume attire. Dear God, he hoped this worked.

*The Last Step: Orpheus Walks from the Underworld*

Jay wasn't as stupid as everyone seemed to think he was. He knew Avriel owned a shop somewhere downtown, and he hopped on a bus, riding down the strip until he found the heaviest concentration of clown-faced motherfuckers. He got off, scanning the names. Unimpressed. The Shop. Ovo Loco Body Piercing. And on the next street, Trieste and Curl Up and Dye.

Jay was pretty sure one of those two was the business Avriel worked in. He hung out in a coffeeshop across the street, watching both stores for two hours, until Avriel walked out of the hair place. He blinked, rubbing his eyes. That black-haired guy with the face paint...That couldn't be...Shit...that *couldn't* be Bob, could it??

He watched as they got into a cab, and waited until he was sure they were out of sight. Tossing a few bills on the table, he ran across the street and into Curl Up.

"Hey," he said to the first girl he saw. "Friend of mine was in here, came in brown-haired, just left with shiny black hair."

The girl with the Mohawk shrugged, making the blue spikes wobble a bit. "Yeah?" she said.

"Well, uh...You know where he's going?"

She smiled wickedly, leaning forward. "Like you'd last two seconds in the Pom, lookin' like that."

"The Pom? They're going to the--hey, uh, thanks!" And he ran back out, racing to the next bus stop. He checked his watch. It'd take him a half hour to get there walking, an hour by bus. Sighing, he set off by foot.

By the time he'd reached the club, he'd been hit on five times, made three sales, and had an uncomfortable encounter in a back alley with a former parole officer. The side of one jaw was bruising slightly, and the skin across one of his left knuckles was split. He got to the line in front of the club, and despaired of ever getting in, and then a girl in a plum-colored velvet gown stepped forward, smiling.

"Let this one in, Marcus," she said softly. Her voice was like bells, and Jay was briefly entranced.

"Whatever you say, Lady Sylver," and Marcus ushered him inside.

"All *right*," he said softly, turning to thank the girl. She sneered, pushing him against the wall, and raised his bleeding hand to her mouth. He watched, fascinated, as she sucked at the knuckle, drawing a trickle of blood out of him.


"Hey," he said aloud, "you sure about that? I could have all kinds'a diseases and shit."

"But you don't," she said, stepping back and dropping his hand. She looked slightly flushed, and there was an impression of black lips on the back of his hand.

"I don't know that," he said, as she walked away.

"Welcome to the Pom," she tossed back over her shoulder. "Hope you survive..."

**Survive??** And he walked out of the hallway, into the main floor of the club.

"Holy *fuck*," he said. **Bob's in *this* madhouse?**

The entire high-ceilinged space was painted black. Silver cages hung at intervals from the ceiling, with people either chained inside rattling at the cages and moaning, or girls in strips of leather and metal dancing for all they were worth. The music pounded thought to shreds, reducing everything to pulse-pounding beat. He was definitely the odd man out, from the looks he was getting. The guys looked like they wanted to beat him up, or worse. The third one to lick his lips when he saw him made him swallow uncomfortably.

Definitely worse. The girls, though...

One pressed a spiked bracelet onto his arm, and was gone before he could thank her. Another draped a length of chain around his neck, buckling it in back. For a long scary moment he thought she'd put him on a chain, until she realized it was hers she was holding out behind him. He shook his head, and she just looked vaguely disappointed, fading back into the dancers. Another girl, busy spraypainting one section of wall, spraypainted the back of his shirt. He turned on her, angrily, and she turned him so he could see the symbol on the back. He didn't know what it was, but he'd seen it on several guys here.

"Protective camouflage, my pretty," she said, and went back to painting black lines on the black wall. Jay just shook his head. Had to find Bob. Had to find Bob and get the fuck back to Leonardo, man. Soon as fucking possible.

He drifted deeper into the crowd, looking.

On the other side of the dance floor, Avriel introduced her friends to a young man she named Orpheus. Suddenly young Orpheus had nearly every girl in the place stroking his silks and velvets. It wasn't uncomfortable, Bob thought, it just wasn't what he was here to do. He leaned in towards Avriel.

"Where?" he whispered, close to her ear.

She pointed with her chin. In an open back room were two high-backed chairs, all dark wood and red velvet. A thin rake of a man was in one, eyes burning hollows in his face, mouth thin-lipped and pursed. In the other was Alice, Avriel's sister. She looked as tense and uncomfortable as Bob felt. He pushed through the crowd only to be pulled back by Avriel.

Her lips were very close to his ear. "Ask Alice to dance. Lord Damon can't refuse, that's why he has her on display tonight. Dance to the other side of the floor, there's a side exit there. I'll have a car waiting." She stepped back into the crowd then, and vanished. Great. His big chance to play James Bond.

He looked down, frowning slightly. James Bond in drag. Then he caught his reflection in a set of ornate mirror shards glued to one wall. Well, James Bond in really *good* drag.

He stepped forward, cocking his head to one side. With a flourish he didn't know he possessed, he bowed before Alice, sweeping his hair to one side and looking up.

"My lady," he said softly. "Wilt thou dance with this poor soul?"

Damon looked over at that, frowning, then looked at Alice. She shrank back into the chair.

"And you are?"

"Orpheus, my lord, a wanderer, far from home." Where the hell was this coming from? He was going to see right through him, send his bully boys by the thrones forward and--

"Go on, then," Damon said roughly. He gestured towards Alice, then turned his attention back to whatever one of his boys had been saying. The girl sighed, but she rose, stepping lightly towards Bob. Whatever she wore was blood-red and cut to her curves precisely, stopping just above her thighs and lightly muscled calves, which were bare to a set of high-heeled ankle boots. Sighing again, she took hold of Bob's outstretched hands, letting him guide her onto the dance floor. She draped her arms around him, pressing her body close, and for a moment, Bob forgot why he was there. His hands fell to her hips, pulling her closer, and the music surrounded them, pounding and vital, making them tingle and sway to the beat vibrating through them. Then he looked down, catching sight of the pain in her grey eyes, and sighed himself. He leaned down, putting his lips close to her ear.

"Avriel sent me," he whispered. She jerked as if stung, then darted a look over towards the back room. She leaned up, her lips grazing Bob's earlobe.

"He'll never let me go," she said. "Never."

"He might. Avriel's just through that door," he said, pointing with his chin. "If we dance over there--"

"It's guarded. You can't take me through. But..." She paused, thinking. "If you walk over, and I follow, maybe...You can't look back, though. Then he'll know we're together. You just have to drift around and move towards the door. I just have to follow you."

"If you think that would work...?"

The song was ending. She nodded frantically. "It has to." She stepped back, curtseying, and he bowed, already turning away as if bored. He watched in the shards of mirror as she drifted back to the throne room, fanning herself as if overheated.

"I'd like some air, Damon," he caught her saying, then she moved out of range. He swallowed. This has to work, he thought. This has to...

...Jay. He blinked. That was Jay. Jay was *here*. Why the hell was--

*Shit*. He clenched his eyes shut for a moment. Paranoia boy must be thinking he was off on a date. Why he even cared...It was almost like he was...jealous?

No. Bob shook his head. He knew he'd had feelings for the li'l sonic boom just about from the first month they'd been roommates. But first Jay had been too young, then Jay had been too bitter. Then Jay had been something else or other, and by then the insults had started. Tubby bitch. Tons-o-fun. Lunchbox. *Lunchbox*, by God...where the hell had *that* one come from??

And all the gay shit that had started in the past two years. Like he'd ever let it slip now he wanted to kiss the boy, when that was all Jay seemed capable of talking about, how goddamned straight he was, and how Bob was always after a piece. Shit, nothing worse could happen.

He shrugged again, firming his resolve. He'd just have to ignore him, that was all. He caught a flash in the mirror of Alice turning out of the main room, and turned himself, away from the mirror to walk along the outside wall. Peripheral vision showed him Jay looking shocked and surprised, then overcome by something, and angling towards him. He couldn't see Alice, and he knew if he turned around, something would happen. Damon would know somehow. And that would be the end of the attempt. Not including, of course, the sure possibility of getting badly beaten--how many men in the Pom were Damon's?

He walked along the wall, nodding at the boys, trailing a languid hand down the faces of the girls. He heard behind him Jay cursing, and shook his head. Architecture, he thought, become fascinated with the architecture...He looked up just as he was spun around from behind.

It was Jay.

"What the hell, dude? What the fucking hell?"

He cocked his head to one side, blinking. "Are you addressing me?" he said in a bored voice.

"Addressing you, undressing you, redressing you--whatever, dude! I just want to know what the hell is going on! Why you're dressed like the fucking Crow on a binge!"

"Pardon," growled a low voice near both men. They turned to see one of the bouncers. He still couldn't see Alice, and couldn't turn to look now. Was this one of Damon's men?

"Yes?" Bob said, still in that weirdly disaffected voice.

"Is this...*infant*...bothering you, sir?"

"Call me infant again and I'll clock you one, bondage-boy," Jay growled.

Bob only sighed, raising a hand and flailing it slowly.

"Nothing that won't be solved by...a little air," he said softly, struck by inspiration.

"Oh. Yeah. *That's* rich, dude. Lie to me, come sneakin' off here to the freakshow, an' then get in a few back-alley punches. Oh, that's just *per*fect!"

"I see, sir," the bouncer said, moving away. "A...private disturbance. Do let me know if things get...out of hand."

"Most assuredly," Bob murmured, and pointed towards the side exit. "After you, my...*dear* boy."

Jay's face suffused with red and his lips curled back.

"Oh, you are *so* gonna pay for that crack, tubs..." But he stalked over to the side door, not even noticing the lithe girl in red who slipped out ahead of him. In fact, only one of the bouncers noticed--the one who was watching Jay and Bob leave. Frowning, he followed, out to the alley.

Alice was waiting when Jay and Bob emerged. Two seconds later, a cab pulled into the alley, Avriel leaning out a window, gesturing wildly.

"Come on, guys! Get in!" She opened the door, waving them forward.

"Vree?" the girl in red said shakily. "It's...it's really you?"

"It's really me, Alice-Alice, but you have to hurry! Before they--"

And the back door opened. The bouncer stepped through quietly, shaking his head.

"I am sorry, miss. I don't see how I can allow this." He raised his fists, bowing slightly as he brought the knuckles together. Alice shrank back against the cab, and Avriel leaned out, pulling her inside.

"Close the door!" she hissed. But Alice seemed frozen, staring in horror out of the open door.

Jay threw up his hands. "OKAY!" he screamed. "I have *HAD* *IT* with all this costume shit!" And he ran forward, winding up his fist and driving it hard into the bouncer's jaw. He went down and Jay didn't stop, kicking him in the sides until Bob pulled him away, running for the cab.

"Exit stage left," he said, smiling at Avriel. Then he shut the door, pounding on the roof of the cab. It sped off into the night, both girls looking out the back window at Jay and Bob's dwindling figures. Meanwhile, Bob grabbed Jay's hand and pulled him onto the main street, into a second alley, down that to the back street and ran for a bit, exhilarated. He could hear Jay bitching behind him, but it wasn't until he pulled him into a third alley that he learned why.

"Man, my hand's all bleeding and shit again, and that had to be the one you fuckin' grabbed!"

Bob looked down. There was a dark glistening streak of blood on his palm.

"I'm sorry," he said softly.

"Yeah," Jay said, looking at the torn skin. Then he tightened his hand into a fist, pulling it back and looking up.

"You fucking *should* be sorry, shithead! I hadda spend all day worrying about your ass joining some weird new cult, or running off with that chick, and you couldn't have even written me a goddamned *note*?" He stepped forward, and for a moment, Bob was absolutely sure he was going to get cold-cocked.

Then Jay dropped the fist, hands hanging limply at his sides.

"I mean...what the fuck, man? I didn't know where you were. I hadda find you, track you down, like some stranger. I mean...that's fucked up, you know?"

He knew. Suddenly, he knew, and the half-smile on his face from getting away from the Pom intact broadened. Jay had been worried about him. Jay had been *very* worried about him. Which meant...Jay cared for him. Maybe...could he hope for this?...as much as Bob cared for Jay.

He stepped forward, touching Jay's face where the swelling was.

"Orpheus doesn't always have to lose," he whispered.

"What the fuck are you on now, fat boy? My God, if I haveta listen to any more of your shit--"

"Shhh," he said, pushing him back against the alley wall. He stepped closer, just looking down into those deep, burning blue eyes. Anger turned to confusion, which turned to...could it be hope? Then panic rose and Jay stiffened in his arms. Stupid boy, not to know. Then he laughed at himself. Stupid Bob, not to know what Jay knew. Stroking a strand of limp gold from Jay's forehead, he kissed the place where his fingers had been. Jay inhaled sharply. He leaned down, tilting Jay's head up and kissing gently along the line of bruised flesh. He thought Jay stopped breathing for that moment. Then he tilted Jay's head down again, and finally kissed the lips that had taunted him all these years.

For this, for one taste of Jay, he'd take whatever came after. Beatings, abuse, the end of the friendship--he was ready. He was hoping it wouldn't go that way, but he was ready. He could take it. For this one, sweet kiss.

Didn't work out that way. Jay whimpered, pulled away, eyes large and staring.

"You...you...I didn't...I..." And suddenly Jay moved in his arms, slamming *him* against the alley wall, still whimpering. He stroked his hands up Bob's silk shirt, fighting with the little buttons, kissing him savagely. His mouth was open, his tongue forcing its way into Bob's mouth, and Bob felt his cock stiffen, just feeling Jay squirming against him.

"Ah...God...yeah...*fuck*, *fuckin'* buttons, I can't--" He pulled back, preparing to tear the shirt off, and Bob seized his hands.

"No, don't," he gasped. "It's silk."

"I don't care if it's bat leather, get it off, man! I gotta...I--"

And he was kissing Bob again, pressing against him so tightly it was hard for Bob's fingers to unbutton the shirt. Finally it was open, and Jay moaned, scorching kisses down his torso, across his nipples, tangling his fingers in the brown curled hair. Bob closed his eyes, drowning in sensation, leaning back against the wall. He heard snaps unsnap, and his eyes snapped open, looking down.

Jay was on his knees, tugging the velvet pants down, shaking his head.

"What, she *pour* you into these, Lunchbox? Fuck, not that you don't look good, but...oh, yeah, there you are...Holy *fuck*, Lunchbox, you're *hung*!"

Bob blinked. He'd never thought of it that way. In fact, he'd thought he was about--

"AHHH!" His mouth widened into an 'o' of surprise; Jay had engulfed him, swallowing all of him he'd been able, the moment he'd looked up again. Jay was trembling, his hands clenching, and he was making odd strangled sounds. But he kept sucking, and Bob clenched his eyes shut--he couldn't watch that blond head bobbing at his crotch and not lose it entirely.

One hand mutely reached for Bob, and Bob held it, leaning down to kiss the fingertips. They tasted like nicotine and pot, and he smiled, licking the pads as Jay moaned against him. Jay was thrusting against his leg now, sucking on him so hard, and Bob began to twitch. Jay pulled off enough to kiss along the length of him, nipping him lightly, lips only.

"Oh, yeah, baby," he breathed. "Come on, Bob, come for me, come for me, 'kay?" And he swallowed him again.

Fuck, it was good...It was good, Jay was good, oh, *God*, Jay was good...He couldn't stop himself; he started thrusting against Jay's face, little hip jerks while he breathed Jay's name, just at the audible range.

"Ummm," Jay said. "A-mmm..." His hands clenched in Bob's silks. He was whimpering again, licking the tip of Bob's cock, and then his tongue licked over the fluttering slit at the tip and Bob couldn't hold it back. He arched, crying out, crying Jay's name, and jetted into Jay's open mouth, looking down in astonishment as Jay tried to swallow all he could.

Bob helped him stand; he was still shaking, and his legs weren't steady yet. He waited a few moments, nuzzling against Jay's neck as he moaned and twitched, then he carefully knelt, undoing Jay's pants.

"Jesus, Bob, what the fuck are you--" Jay was looking around frantically. Bob just shook his head, pulling down his shorts and his pants.

Well, now he saw why Jay had been so impressed. Jay wasn't small, by any means, but he was narrower in width than Bob, and there was a slight curve to one side that grew more pronounced, the more Jay got aroused. Bob looking at Jay's cock was all it seemed to take. Then Bob leaned forward, licking at the tip. He was a little unsure; he'd never done this before. But Jay's huge gasp above him convinced him he was at least on the right track.

For Jay's part, he'd thought the night couldn't get any better--or weirder--than him on his fucking knees, blowing Bob. Now he was looking down, seeing those nearly black lips sucking him in, those nearly black lips that belonged to Bob, for Christ's sake, and he almost shot his load right then. Breath shuddered out of him, and he felt like he was going to collapse onto the alley floor. Bob's arms snaked around his hips, holding him up, and he whimpered, leaning forward.

"Fuck, Bob, fuck yeah, fuck...fuck..." He gasped Bob's name over and over, tangling his fingers in Bob's newly black hair. "Oh yeah, oh, yeah, oh God..."

Slowly, Bob sucked him in, the feeling of a man's cock in his mouth entirely novel. He didn't know in this moment if this was something he'd always wanted. He did know Jay had been something he'd always wanted. And he had no idea what to expect after this. Jay's skin tasted salty, and the drops that he licked from the tip of Jay's cock tasted musky, salty, like...like...He didn't know. He didn't have a comparison. Other than it was good, what he was doing felt good, and he wanted to do more of it...His tongue danced patterns along the senstive skin in his mouth, and Jay whimpered louder.

"Oh, man...fuck, man, fuck, Bob, I'm gonna...I can't, I can't, I can't I can't hold back, it's too much, too fucking much, I'm gonna--I'm gonna--*COME!*" he cried, and arched his hips forward, head flying back to crack against the brick.

"Ugnh..." He staggered along the wall, pulling free of Bob's seeking mouth. Conscious of the silk still, he pulled to one side, letting Jay jet onto the pavement. Then he stood, supporting Jay over to some wooden crates in the middle of the alley.

"Hit my fuckin' head," the blond said dizzily.

"I guess so," Bob said. He pulled up Jay's pants, chancing a light caress, and delighted in Jay's whimpered moan. Fastening them, he then turned to his own, pulling them up, snapping them closed. He reached for his shirt.

"No, not yet," Jay breathed.


Jay leaned forward, licking the skin along his collarbone, hands on his nipples. He moved his mouth into the hollow of Bob's throat, and Bob stopped breathing for a moment himself. Then Jay's mouth was against his ear, licking at it, biting the earlobe, and Bob whimpered.

"Gotta get you home," Jay said after a bit. "Get you into a shower, get all this crap off you, that you do *not* need to be pretty...and then get you in bed. Gotta have more of you, man...Can I have more of you?"

Bob pulled back, shouldering Jay to his feet. He held the younger man close, looking at him.

"All of me you want, Jay. As long as you want."

"Good." Then Jay chuckled, blinking heavily. "Dude, you are *so* my bitch now..."

"Don't even start," Bob growled. "Let's find the bus stop."

"Yeah," Jay gasped, hands digging at Bob's waistband. "Then let's find a bed."

Bob shook his head, laughing. Yeah. *Yeah*. Sometimes Orpheus gets the Jay.

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