Sky Full Of Clouds
by Dale Edmonds

Aaron asks for the window seat on airplanes.

He likes to curl up, his legs on the seat, one of those airplane blankets, the scratchy-soft acrylic kind, tugged up and everything smelling familiar. Hotels and airplanes, and his mom likes first-class, but Aaron hated it for the longest time, because it smelt different. Now he's grown up, and he can still curl up in the bigger seats.

He asks for orange juice and he pulls the tray over and puts his laptop on it. When they go to Japan, he gets a new one, nearly every year now. Everything's smaller there, and he remembers looking at the Libretto in a magazine and wanting it so badly. Wanting and being able to go out and just get it, which was a different kind of high. He likes pulling out his wallet, sliding across a credit card, supplementary though it's his money that pays for it. He likes the way people smile at him in stores. They smile for everyone, and the shopgirls in Japan do tiny bows and their hands flutter as they unwrap more shiny silver toys. He likes shopping there because they're polite to everyone.

His laptop fits inside his cupped hands. He turns it on once they're in the air and plays a couple of games of Solitaire. Just enough to get the person sitting next to him bored. No-one's rude enough to actually look, except his family, and he doesn't let them sit next to him anymore.

Angel doesn't like flying.

But people still glance, and Aaron doesn't mind Solitaire. He plays until the cards jump around the screen and then he switches over to Explorer.

The directory is three down inside a virus protector program he never uses, and it's called "syslib" and filled with numbered files. He keeps track by date, and he rarely browses backwards. There's always something new to look at. The Firm makes sure of that.

He slides his finger across the touchpad, taps lightly and opens a couple of them. He remembers that shirt. The other one, he wasn't there. A restaurant maybe. Paparazzi or a fan, a quick grainy snap. A press release that he's already read in the stack of work his mother brought for him to finish on the plane ride. A story forwarded and forwarded again, internet headers stripped off by his assistant who asks no questions and never seems to sleep. He's not entirely sure she's human; she gets on too well with his mother.

He scrolls down, looking for his name, then scrolls up and starts reading.


1. Harry Potter

Aaron reads the books after they get popular. He doesn't have the time to read, but he's been taught to do it fast, and he makes it through the fourth book in two days, reading it during car rides and make-up and then late at night. His dancing sucks the next day and he gets yelled at, but it was worth it he thinks, the first book tucked inside his backpack for the next break.

He's not brilliant and he knows there are ways to look at books, ways of seeing layers on layers, and Aaron thinks these books are simple enough for him to do that. It's given him something to talk to Angel about at least, and it's Angel who sends him the first link when they're bitching about how long the next book is taking.

It's not much, a bit about summer holidays, and it's stupid, Aaron thinks, but the next day, it's all he can think about. Summer holidays and Harry back at the Dursley's, and Sirius moved in with Mrs Figg, the cats fleeing in terror. It's like a part of the book, only - it's not real. But it could be.

He doesn't have the words for it, but he likes it.

The movie comes out and Aaron's old enough to notice Oliver Wood. Howie got him a copy, invited them all over to watch it, and Aaron likes Howie, who notices when someone's quiet or sad, notices things like what books Aaron's reading, remembers what kind of chips Aaron likes.

Nick sprawls on the floor, head back on Howie's lap, watching intently. Nick likes films, even boring ones.

Aaron tries to watch the film, but he doesn't remember any of it.


He thinks about magic. He thinks about getting a letter from Hogwarts, just like every other kid in the world does. Lies in his hotel bed and thinks about cupboards under the stairs and Harry so thin his ribs show. He lets his hand rest on his chest, fingers sliding over the edge of bone there. He's shot up, and he's eating as much as he can, but he burns it off so fast. He wants --

He makes his hand still, his heart pounding softly underneath. He wants a letter to come. Brought to his hotel room by Lisa, along with the stack of mail. A big thick letter with blue ink and inside, that he was special. Not just a muggle. Going to London, to Hogwarts. Being the strange American kid. Meeting Potter and putting the Sorting Hat on.

He's falling asleep now, listening to the hat sing in his head, and he thinks "what if they were? and I was the squib?" before he closes his eyes.


Another plane ride, and Aaron watches the clouds, the laptop shut down and slipped into the seat pocket. He's flying, and the air is still around him. He wonders what it's like on a broom.

He's been reading more and more. Stuff Angel sends him, stuff he finds himself when he has the time. There are pictures, and they don't look like anyone he knows but his mirror tells him new things, silently. The mirror of erised, he thinks, as the plane tilts gently and the sun dazzles across a bed of clouds. Everything is beautiful and Aaron closes his eyes.

He's on a broom, and Harry is chasing him. Hand out-stretched and there's the snitch, he's going to catch it - tumbling, falling and his knee's wrenched again, but there's Harry, and James and everything muddles up and he's in a dusty classroom, staring at the mirror. His wand is in his hand, and he can feel the power gathering, deep in his chest, a knot unfurling. Robes and a cloak, his hair damp and his eyes are silver, then they're blue. Hazel. He moves back, he moves forward, and the mirror changes.

Aaron wakes up with a scream caught in his throat, caught and killed. His mother is asleep across the aisle. Lisa is working and doesn't look at him. The stewardess walks past and Aaron waits until he can hum without choking to ask her for a cup of water.

It's cold and his teeth hurt, but he thanks her politely before turning away to look out the window again.


Aaron never reads the Weasley stories.


2. Lord of the Rings

He doesn't read the book. When he was little, which is when he was eight and still going to regular school, he read some of the Hobbit, but all he remembers is dwarves and food. Nick loves the books, always has and when the movie opens, has to be talked out of getting another tattoo in elvish. He goes to New Zealand anyway, with Howie.

Aaron knows this because Howie takes him out for lunch when they come back, tells him funny stories and pays the cheque. Aaron hugs Howie good-bye, and thanks him for lunch, politely.

He doesn't watch the film until it's almost finished the run, and the theatre is almost empty. Two girls at the back repeat the dialogue all the way through, but Aaron doesn't mind. He stays for the second showing.

When he goes home, he looks up the fanfiction online. There's plenty, and he doesn't know where to start, so he does what everyone else does, and reads anything with Legolas.

Between that and the Harry Potter stuff, he's losing track of what he's doing, and he makes the mistake of telling Nick that Orlando isn't all that hot. Lisa smiles sharply at Aaron and makes a couple of phonecalls, murmuring Nick's name like a password or a price, and Aaron has to get dressed up, jacket and all, but thank god it isn't Nick choosing the clothes this time. Just his mother straightening his tie and reminding him to be polite. She's seen Crossroads twenty-three times.

Dinner, and Aaron shakes hands and kisses cheeks and Howie slips in with the right words when some guy, a director or special effects, some nobody, puts his hand on Aaron's waist.

Nick doesn't notice. He's with AJ somewhere, getting plastered or not, depending on how righteous the two of them feel. Aaron gets another coke and as he drinks it, he thinks quietly, in the smallest voice he can, that Howie's looking old. Not older. Old.

It's a Smeagol thought, and he looks around the room, trying to figure out what the surprise is. Nick likes surprises, and Aaron can quote the book, even if he hasn't read it. Gandalf holding court, and Viggo who's clean-shaven, Liv Tyler who's just fucking gorgeous and there's Orlando Bloom, nursing his own drink and talking to one of the hobbits. Aaron's had enough vodka that they look the same, unknowns and it doesn't really matter, because Nick's back in the room, AJ a step behind, and they're both grinning. Nick looks at Orlando and then his gaze flicks across the room, scalding hot, and Aaron steps back.

There's someone there, and he turns around and spills his coke, a little deliberately, but he's good at this, and it looks accidental. Elijah doesn't mind, doesn't mind at all. Rosy cheeks and a thrift store jacket, gap between his teeth, and then they're kissing, in a storeroom because every fucking dinner Aaron's ever been dragged to, had a storeroom somewhere. They were empty in stories, not full of cleaning supplies, mops and bundles of dirty laundry, but stained concrete and a naked lightbulb on a chain is pretty much what he remembered.

Aaron keeps his eyes closed when he blows Elijah and it isn't the same, it never is, but it's close, the way Elijah's hands fist in his hair. When he stands, he's a little taller, and that's different, and Elijah kisses him, says things in a jumbled half-english accent that aren't entirely dirty, but sweet. Aaron kisses him again to shut him up, and it's --

He goes home, and Howie says nothing on the car ride back, and Nick says too much. Aaron showers and his mom knocks on the door, over and over, and Aaron turns the water up, makes it as hot as he can bear and lets the room fill up with steam.

The paper napkin Elijah had scribbled his phone number on is damp and the ink has run. He can still make out the numbers. He throws it away, and deletes everything Lord of the Rings on his computer.


3. Highlander

The other Boys liked it because it was shown in English, and it was cheesy but Kevin looked a little like Adrian Paul, and in the early days, he says that'd helped with the girls. Now it's the other way round maybe, but they can all still quote lines from it.

Aaron knows it the way he knows about He-Man or Blossom. Cheesy TV shows his brother had grown up on, the way New Kids on the Block makes Nick wince, but mean nothing to Aaron except that Joey McIntyre had managed to come back, so there's hope if Aaron ever bombs. He listened dutifully to their albums, swore not to ever call himself funky, and told Nick with a straight face that his favourite was Danny.

Someone he likes in Harry Potter wrote other stuff, nothing he really knew. He doesn't get to watch a lot of TV. It has to be taped and set aside, and he has better things to do than watch TV, so he learns the right names from magazines and tries not to mix them up in interviews.

She did Highlander, and he remembers that, a couple of episodes that Nick had on tape. Lazy Saturday afternoon, Nick home for a break, and he'd been eleven, and there had been sun coming through the window. Over the back of their legs, stretched out on the floor in front of the TV, and Nick had fallen asleep, snoring quietly.

Aaron reads the Highlander story, and finds another one, and another.

He isn't sure why he reads them, but sitting in a hotel bathroom one night, off the bus for the weekend, with a glass of minibar whisky in one hand, and the blunt side of a knife against his other, he thinks maybe he does. He takes a sip, wincing as he swallows. The knife isn't really sharp, the kind of wooden-handled knife used to slice apples. His hand curves around it, palm folding around the blade, the sharp bite almost breaking his skin, almost.

He puts the glass down on the sinktop and slides onto the floor of the shower stall. He thinks maybe he'll cut himself, the way teenage girls do in the magazines that have his interviews, and he thinks it sounds a helluva lot better drunk than before. Turn the water on and watch the blood swirl down the drain. Little cuts on his thighs, little sharp slices.

He tips his head back against the tiles and lets the knife fall silently on his lap. His pants are wet from the damp floor, and he's cold and drunk. Slice, and he'd bleed and then he'd have to go and ask Lisa for help, and it just isn't worth it.

He drinks the rest of the whiskey, throws up and has another shower.

He thinks about Methos in bed. Not the other thoughts, the kind he has in the rush to shower and get out the door in the mornings, a slip-slide of bodies twisting, tongue and cock, bodies opening and closing, under hands, knives, kisses.

He thinks about being old, so old everyone else is ephemeral and slips away like dust. He thinks about losing Angel, losing Leslie, his parents. He thinks about seeing Kevin and Howie grow old, going to their funerals and waking up in a city where no-one remembered him, remembered now.

Aaron slips his hands under his pillow and stretches out. The air-conditioner hums and he closes his eyes and thinks about Duncan and the way Methos watched him. Thinks about a sword at his throat and being forced to his knees. He doesn't take his hands out from under the pillow even though he's achingly hard. His hips move, hotel blankets a heavy, even weight over him. Everything laundered and clean, anonymous. He likes hotels, likes his bus with the sheets from his own bed, but he likes hotels more.

Sword against his throat, one cut. Blood trickling down the hollow, and there's nothing to do but wait. His hips jerk up and he curls his hands into fists, breathes until he's steady, until he's back on his knees, and there was nothing but loathing in Duncan's voice, nothing but fear. I'm dangerous, Aaron thinks. Older than you, older than everything. I could kill you<, and I'm letting you kill me. I could hurt you so much.

In an alleyway, on the boat. In a field. Ice all around, nothing but the clang of swords and broken screams. People dying and quickenings burning. Falling to his knees, pinned down, and there was nothing like the first kiss, nothing except the first shove. Back on his knees, and eyes closed, mouth open, waiting.

Aaron comes, silently. He rolls over to the edge of the bed, pulls the blankets up in a heap over his head, and goes to sleep.


4. The X-Files

There's a cross-over story, and something clicks and he rents The Red and The Black and replays the kiss until his throat is dry, and he thinks he knows what it would've felt like. Brush of lips against the corner of his mouth, trace of plastic and leather at his shoulder, and he asks Lisa not to tell Nick, this time. Goes up to her with the list of words scribbled down and says, staring at her hands, polished pale pink nails resting calmly on the keyboard, "And don't tell Nick, Lisa."

His voice cracks a little and he thinks he should add please, but he doesn't want to. He's almost fifteen, and she works for him, not Nick.

She looks at him until he looks back, and then she takes the piece of paper, reads it and says, calmly, "Alright."

He's pretty sure he still hates her.

She gets him the boxed DVDs and a couple of glossy photographs. The blooper reel takes longer, but he watches it, and then boxes it up and sends it home to Angel. She's gotten tired of Harry Potter too, or maybe she just has more free time and she finds the best stuff anyway.

He flies her to San Francisco for the weekend, and they stay in a hotel and watch the DVDs. He kisses her and she tastes the same, everywhere.

Scully, he thinks, and Angel has thin wrists, shivers when he tongues her clavicle, the valleys of her ribs, the curve of her stomach.

Ginny, he whispers in her ear, and she turns and smiles sleepily at him.


He has nightmares about the aliens, about black oil. He wakes up, panting and soaked through with sweat. In the shower, he jacks off, thinking about Alex, thinking about betrayal. He thinks about Lou Perlman and the way Nick's face tightens, shadows under his eyes. He moves his hand faster, fumbling for the conditioner, anything slick, because his dick is raw, and he aches, shaking with nerves and terror coiling and uncoiling in sharp, final shudders when he comes.

He has breakfast with his mother and discusses Leslie again. He doesn't shout, and when it's done, his mother smiles and lets him have the day off. He thinks about playing basketball, calling up some friends. He goes back to his room and sleeps, and doesn't dream.

He stops reading X-Files, but late at night, on the bus, when he can't sleep, he closes his eyes and is back in San Francisco, back in Orlando, and he's warm. Held close by someone else, and the darkness is all the same wherever he is.


5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

He doesn't watch the show. It seems unreal. High school was never like this, and he doesn't like Joyce, doesn't like Angel. No-one's real, and they're al funny and clever and pretty. He tries liking Xander because Leslie likes him, but he gets bored and the tapes stack up unwatched on the bus.

He reads some of it, but it's all too strange.

Life isn't like that, he wants to tell them. No Powers That Be, no destiny. If there were demons, they'd rip us apart and feed us to the vampires. We'd have lost a long time ago.

He likes Cordelia. He's met the actress, and she was nice to him, and he watches her sometimes because she was polite and friendly, and it's a little, he realizes, like watching on the guys on TV. Dissonance, a new word for him, and he repeats it under his breath as the actress crumples up on the floor, wincing in fake pain.


6. Due South

He likes Due South, and he watches all the tapes, late at night on the bus with popcorn is best. He likes both Rays and he joins a list for a while, but gets bored. Mostly women, mostly older, and the conversation is strange. Words he doesn't have the time to learn and he's never wanted to write.

He reads a little, but Fraser's always happy, and things are pretty much fine unless someone fucks up, and even then, it's always human failure.

He wants to tell them that it doesn't work like that. That sometimes it's life fucking us up, that good kind people can rip you up as easy as the bastards. At least you learn to watch yourself around the sharks.

He reads Hard Core Logo, and listens to the Headstones for a long time. Nick sees the liner notes one day and nods approvingly.

Aaron stops reading. How many ways can Joe die, he tells himself. The story always ends the same fucking way.


7. Star Wars

Joey Fatone invites them over, and Aaron's home for the weekend so Howie invites him along. Nick hesitates and Aaron starts unbuttoning his jeans to get changed. Nick snaps his mouth shut and leaves the room with Howie.

He pulls on clean jeans, a faded t-shirt. It's only NSYNC, so he doesn't bother dressing up. He thinks about the mesh shirts, the white ones he's outgrown, the shorts that are almost too short, but he's tired.

He's not sleeping well.

Angel doesn't want to go and Leslie's still recuperating, so they pile into Howie's car, and Howie talks while they drive.

Star Wars, and Aaron thinks silently that NSYNC are possibly the biggest dorks in the world. He's not jealous about the cameo thing though Nick didn't shut up about it for weeks, but at least Nick doesn't have an entire room full of Star Wars crap. Kirkpatrick and Timberlake are in Jedi robes with light sabers. The robes are bedsheets, but the thought is still incredibly dorky, and Aaron lets himself sneer a little. They ignore him anyway and he wanders out halfway through the film to play with the baby.

Kelly's nice and Brianna's beautiful, and when JC turns up with some fruit juice, Aaron says "thank you" politely enough and even talks a little. JC's a spaz, Nick says, but he's nice enough when he's coherent, and he can make Brianna laugh, which is cool.

"Who did you want to be?" JC asks, and Kelly says definitely Han Solo because he got the best lines, but Leia in the bikini, and they laugh because they're old friends. Nick says they used to sleep together, JC and Joey, and that they all shared girls. Aaron wonders if they shared Kelly.

"What about you, Aaron?" JC asks, smiling.

Luke, Aaron thinks instantly. Luke gone bad, Luke with Leia, Luke in love with Han Solo and held back by tradition. Luke with blond hair and black gloves and the blade slicing cleanly through bodies.

"Obi-Wan, I guess," he says. He slows his voice down and smiles sweetly at Brianna. Her teeth are almost all through, the big gummy smile he remembers from his last visit, gone. "Not as cool as Darth Maul but he's alive at the end."

JC nods and says softly, "Good answer, man."

Later, Aaron remembers Qui-Gon, and all the stories he never bothered to read.


8. Stargate SG1

JC hangs out with Howie, or maybe it's the other way round. They've hooked up, Aaron thinks it's safe to assume when he finds them sprawled on a bed, making out.

He goes back to the living room where Nick's watching TV and watches him for a while. Nick doesn't look upset, but then, Aaron thinks, it's not like he can tell anymore.

"I need a ride home," he says during the commercials.

"Call a cab," Nick says, not looking up.

Aaron does.


There's a club where he's allowed in, and people don't ask questions and Lisa knows about it well enough that when there was an accident involving a camera, she fixed it before his mother or Nick found out. The Firm pay her, and he pays the Firm. He thinks that makes her his employee. He's not sure.

He thinks a lot more these days.

He dances and the music's loud enough to drown out everything else. Techno, and he could take something but he doesn't trust the drugs here, and if he closes his eyes and looks up at the flashing strobe lights, it's all sparkling stars anyway. High on life he thinks and laughs.

He's almost fifteen, and he starts having a lot of anonymous sex. He can buy condoms on his own, thankyouverymuch, no big brother needed, but the bodyguards are with him in the supermarket, and they never say anything, and Lisa never says anything, so he guesses it's okay with the Firm.

Nick never did this, he thinks.

His neck hurts, bent so he can look back at the man pushing him up against the wall in the bathroom stall. Jeans down and he can't spread his legs, denim round his ankles trapping him, though god he wants to. No thinking. Fumbling with his hands for the condom, slick and hard and fast, and the guy's tall and skinny, wiry muscles on his arms that Aaron licks as the guy pounds into him, and not even a fucking reach-around, but he forgives everything when the guy drops on his knees and blows him.

He goes home, showers and goes to Nick's room.

He drips on Nick's floor, the towel tucked around his waist, loose enough that he could shake it off, stand there naked and clean.

Nick's asleep and he doesn't wake up. Aaron thinks about saying his name. Going over to the bed. Touching him. His thoughts skitter away and his teeth start chattering. He's freezing, and he can't move.

He does, because Nick doesn't wake up, just sleeps steadily, snoring quietly.

He wakes up late, and his clothes are still on the floor, stinking of club smoke, torn gold foil falling out of the pockets. His mother shakes him awake and tells him he has a two o'clock appointment, don't be late.

He gets up, and he calls Angel.

She doesn't live at home anymore. She likes her house, likes the people she's with, and Nicks says things are better this way, and their mother nods and agrees, her hands pressed tightly together on her lap. Their father doesn't say anything, anyway, and Leslie wrote last week, said she and Angel were going out, museums and parks and stuff. Normal stuff, she wrote, and Aaron was glad for them.

His hands shake when he dials, and he thinks it's the hangover, except he only had one drink.

He tells her that he got fucked in a bathroom stall and he can't remember the guy's face, except that he had black hair and nothing felt right and he keeps showering but he can't.

He says, "I can't."

Angel doesn't say anything for a while. Aaron cries, soundlessly, with the heel of his hand pushed against his eyes. He has a headache now, his nose is running and his ear hurts from the phone pressed so hard against it.

"I'll send you some stuff," she says. "You can come here."

"Oh baby," he says. "Baby, you know I can't."

No-one else gets to call her baby, and no-one else knows about the promises Aaron's made on paper and skin, on his knees. Aaron looks at AJ sometimes with disgust, because he's seen the look on Kevin's face when Germany comes up, and he's old enough now. Nothing comes with a price, and everyone pays for Nick's free ride.

Aaron washes his face and gets dressed. He has to go for a run, no time to work-out and he wants to run. Stretch his legs and think. He thinks about crying some more but decides not to.


Angel sends him Stargate stories, a couple of DVDs, the rest on VHS. He watches them when Nick's asleep, before he goes out clubbing. Two months in Orlando, finish the record, take off on tour, and Nick's working at the studio too, and somehow Aaron's schedule never gives them free time together.

He gets Lisa a mocha from Starbucks and she drinks it without thanking him. He learns his lines, sings them back and learns some more about production, sits in on the video meetings this time.

He watches Stargate, and it's great cheesy sci-fi, smart enough that he pays attention, and nothing makes sense, but it does anyway. Daniel dies, and dies again, and Jack watches, and Aaron reads the stories.

Season five comes, and Aaron watches two then three episodes at a time. Angel warns him about Meridian, but he watches it anyway.

He goes out and this time it's a woman, maybe in her thirties, he doesn't know. He's never been good at guessing ages. She's got crows-feet around her eyes and they're beautiful and he wants to kiss them, except he's high and ends up kissing her instead. She's a little taller in her heels and they sway together, and then he pushes up her skirt, and he's not surprised at all that she's got nothing on underneath. It's that kind of club, and she pulls a condom out of his pocket, unzips him in the dark with her mouth on neck, and when he sinks home, he closes his eyes and thinks, "Jack."

Duncan, Fox, Buffy, Harry, Han.

He comes and she asks for his autograph while she's re-applying her lipstick.


He goes home and reads all the stories that end happily. Daniel comes back, Jack says he was wrong. We can't, and then they can, and it's nearly dawn when he finishes.

He shuts down his laptop and goes to Nick's room.

He hasn't showered and his clothes stink. He takes them off and climbs into bed next to Nick, presses his face against the crook of Nick's shoulder and breathes deeply, the scent of warm-clean-Nick stronger than the perfume the woman had, cigarette smoke and sweat.

He breathes and he kisses lightly, and Nick wakes up and looks at him, and Aaron thinks he should start crying now. Nick's not especially smart, he's a sucker for tears, and Aaron knows he could work this.

He stays silent and still and waits.

Nick turns a little, shifts his arms so Aaron can lie down inside them. Nick kisses his cheek, sleep-clumsy, and then tucks his head against Aaron's, and goes back to sleep.

In the morning, Aaron wakes up alone. He's stiff and his eyes sting, and he jacks off in the shower, thinking about nothing, a blinding empty stretch of nothing. He makes coffee and drinks it in the empty kitchen. Everyone's left for the day, his schedule printed out and left on top of the newspaper. He drinks slowly and thinks about Abydos.


9. Boyband

They aren't real either, these stories. Aaron flies from city to city, country to country. He calls Angel from every airport. He still sees Nick, talks to him, but he isn't real either.

He reads until his head is spinning and he can't remember if Timberlake fucked his brother, or Chris or was it Brian? He hopes Britney's a dyke, she seems happier in those ones. He reads and he finds his own name and he keeps on reading.

He meets Ian McKellen and he's polite, and then disappointed when nothing happens. Elijah is there, and he thinks about going over but so's Dom, and he's suddenly dizzily confused. He goes to the bathroom and thinks about tabloids and PR and nothing calms him down except the word dissonance repeated over and over in his head.

Angel comes on tour and they eat popcorn and make love in the narrow bunks, and that's real.

Nick punches him when he finds them asleep, tangled up, and the blood running from his nose is real.

He goes down on his knees, and that's real. Nick's hand around the back of his head is real, there's no mistaking the fingers pressing dents into his skull, blunt head of his cock nudging into Aaron's mouth, and Angel's hands, feather-light on his back, breasts brushing against his back as she kneels with him. That's real.

He tells himself it's real, tells Angel until she starts crying, when Nick slams the door and leaves again.

It's real, he thinks. I'm not making this up.


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