SOMEHOW, THE CIRCUMSTANCES KEPT SPINNING OUT OF DORIAN'S CONTROL. At precisely 9:00 am he found himself sitting at a table with five strangers. Most of them were posing for a painting. Jazz held onto a wooden pipe with his index and thumb, seemingly nonchalant, at least compared to the other boys. Haruki was pressing the same fingers to the bridge of his nose below his glasses. Another young male Dorian recognized but could not name starred outside through a tall, narrow window, with a look of vanity that betrayed his real interest; he was starring at himself in the reflection formed by a few stray sun rays. Dorian would later know him as Beaumont.

A fourth boy sat tall, even though he barely reached Dorian's ears when standing. His lanky frame did nothing to divert the viewers attention from the fact that he seemed cold. Almost frozen, pale and miserable. Dorian reprimanded himself later for not recognizing a very distinct memory connected to him. Welcome to hell, the boy had said the first time their eyes met. It would be unkind to judge him for it, since he looked like a person who had been to Hades and returned as an apparition.

The reason behind Dorian's absent-mindedness was no other than the person sitting on the opposite side of the round table. None other than Nazari, the only name Dorian had for his new obsession. It was not one he chose, but rather it chose him. They avoided looking at each other, as if they both already knew that their gazes could affect the energy connecting them, spark up a kind of static.

The artist working on this imaginary painting would be annoyed at Dorian alone, for fidgeting and glancing back and forth towards the boy with the eyes of an eagle. Sharp and golden, like the blades of kings. He would, however, be thankful for the absence of conversation. Food lay untouched on the table.

Even Haruki, whom after briefly examining the rest of the members Dorian still considered the most boyish and gentle, was clenching his jaw. Jazz betrayed his anxiety by tapping his foot under the table in a steady rhythm. Dorian longed to hear Nazari's voice.

"Fuck this," spoke the lanky one. "Why are we even here?"

He received no reply, and proceeded to ramble on and on about staying out of contact and acting normal, things Dorian could not piece together. A strange daze clouded his mind; a blunt force trauma he did not remember receiving removed the edge from his thoughts and understanding.


A single word. Jazz lit his pipe, Haruki raised his head and glanced towards Dorian. The lanky boy's speech came to a halt. Only Beaumont resumed his self-admiration, but he was listening intently. It was Nazari who spoke.

"Relax, boys. All is fine, all is fine." A gesture of his hand, a wave of his long fingers and all the worries were wiped away, never to have existed. That was just a taste of Nazari's power. "You have to eat."

It was their queue. Dorian poured some soy milk into his coffee, and stole a granola bar from a plate that the boys barely touched while lunging for omelets and sausages dripping with fat. They looked like lost boys, and Peter Pan, unmoving and unblinking met Dorian's eyes at last.

Dorian's mother loved once. Like girls do. Twisting pigtails around their fingers, pressing their knees together, biting their lip and giggling. The kind of stupid love she warned him to never fall into. It wasn't a drug, or an addiction like the songs assure you. Not sweet, or bitter, or sour; it didn't have a taste. It had a smell, though. The smell of chalk, and textbooks, cheap cologne and wood. His mother's love was a teacher at 15, or so his grandmother told him. She got drunk a lot and overstayed her welcome. Dorian knew his mother couldn't love anyone, not even herself.

What is wrong with you? Dorian shook his head. This was his first time being so conflicted. Reason told him that words like love, even lust were weaknesses. He had never fallen for anyone. He was as emotionless as his mother. A copy of her soul, if things like that existed.

Nazari kept his gaze level, like a lion, while breakfast continued being served. Dorian found himself regaining control over his body and mind, one step at a time. No more thoughts of love, or sympathy, no matter how hard his heart rattled in its cage.

His stomach twisted violently. "You will excuse me," he blurted and almost ran towards the bathroom.

When faced with a mirror, Dorian noticed an abnormality about his face. It was drained of all color. The usual blush on his cheeks was gone. He looked morbid, a marble statue leaning against the sink. He felt the veins beneath the skin of his face dry out, shrink into nothingness.

His eyes were burning, tears swelling like waves preparing to strike against a rocky beach. He felt them leaving wet trails on his skin. When he found the courage to meet his gaze in the mirror, no water leaked his eyes, but molten silver ran in streaks down his sunken cheeks. In his mind, he was already screaming.

A hand appeared on his shoulder, fingers he could now recognize gripped him with tenderness yet dominance. Nazari's face appeared in the mirror next to Dorian's monstrous reflection. His tears hit the surface of the sink with a steady tap.

"I was waiting for you," Nazari whispered in his ear, the voice traveling through his body like an electric shock.

In an instant, the world was back to normal. Dorian touched his face with frantic, paranoid movements. There was no sign of silver, only redness from his fingers running up and down his skin.

What is wrong with me? A splash of water and he was gone from the bathroom, scared out of his mind.

At the table, they were back to their designated poses. Nazari refused to look at him until he had reclaimed his seat, breathing heavily. The shock had yet to leave his system.

"Time to go." A single command from Nazari and all of them stood up, including Dorian for reasons he could not understand. The bill had been taken care of, or so he assumed, because they all trailed behind each other towards the exit.

Dorian felt a hand on his shoulder and a paralyzing streak of panic passed through him. But the grip was unfamiliar. Jazz let out a throaty laugh. "C'mon, old sport. Don't be scared. We're just regular, old boys like you. You'll fit in just fine."

Jazz patted him twice on the back and strode forward to walk beside Haruki. Dorian was left behind to conquer his disbelief. In a matter of hours he had experienced the single most disturbing event of his life up to that moment and simultaneously, his fate has changed forever.

Three cars were parked outside. Haruki walked towards his Lexus next to Jazz, who had no difficulty reaching the car first with the use of his cane. Dorian was only now becoming aware of his limp. Beaumont entered his Maserati alone, checking his eyebrows in the rear view mirror before driving away without so much as a goodbye.

The lanky boy, whose name Dorian was sure to have heard, but could not remember, got inside his car and waited for Nazari to approach. As the boy with the curly hair walked towards the car, he turned and smiled. A king among kings, he smiled just for Dorian; a smile that set his loins aflame every time he revisited the particular memory.

And Dorian smiled back.

The sisters of Fate, in their private abode, away from gods and sprites, atop a mountain high, shed a single tear as they watched the scene unfold. Life is cruel, they thought to themselves, each to her own.

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