HARUKI WALKED SILENTLY NEXT TO DORIAN. It was difficult to formulate any kind of lighthearted remark when both boys were aware of being the only ones who noticed something strange about Max. Jazz, after trying his luck at a few jokes, picked up his bag and leaned on his cane before following Beaumont towards their lesson. Haruki had the chance to look at Dorian. Their thoughts entwined into a single What just happened.

To Dorian's chagrin, he wished to be able to console Martin for being publicly humiliated - or threatened. As normal as it seemed for him to relish in the intimidation the fencing club boys caused other students to feel, he had an attachment to Martin. Shame kneaded at his heart like a busy cat. How was he going to face Martin in the evening?

Max and Hector stood by the classroom's heavy door. Relaxed, they looked almost normal. There was a kind of electricity between them that Dorian would do anything for. Next to Nazari Max looked almost glowing, not with health, but with a kind of light. A reflection of sunlight from Nazari's golden skin.

"Hello," Nazari spoke. Nothing else mattered to Dorian.

"Hey," Haruki emitted, somehow unaffected by Hector, but deeply weary of Max.

"I'd like to take Dorian on a walk."

It was stated calmly, almost like a request. The underlying message was clear. Let me take you on a walk; let me give you what you want. Dorian was the only one to decode it in Nazari's amber eyes. He was tempted to say no, just to see the opportunity slip away. The pain would be pleasure and the fantasy would remain untainted.

"C'mon Naruto, let's go," piped Max and began walking, hunched and long-legged. Haruki stole a glance at Dorian, more confused than anything, because he had not been given the grand tour by Nazari, nobody spent time with him alone other than Max, if he recalled correctly.

They disappeared around the corner.

Hector Nazari smiled softly, eyes trained on Dorian with childlike wonder. He saw a boy made of travertine staring back at him, a mixture of fear and eagerness in his cerulean eyes that had shone grey as raindrops when he had last seen him. Praxiteles would have loved him, for he looked both like Artemis and Apollo combined in one form, but so unlike them in coloring. Where Greek Gods radiated warmth, Dorian had a quality of ice about him, as if he'd been salvaged from the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

"Have you eaten," Hector asked him.

Dorian almost laughed, but instead his left eyebrow rose at the corner slightly. It was difficult to notice, given that his eyebrows matched the color of his hair. "No," he replied, nervous about the hidden meaning behind the question, when in fact there was none.

"You hardly eat around us. Do we make you nervous?" Hector beamed, an eager cat holding a mouse in its claws.

"I'm vegan," Dorian paused. "The menu doesn't offer much that caters to my diet."

It was tempting for Dorian to imagine that Nazari was just like other boys he'd met over the years. It was comforting to imagine that he had control over the exchange, that he wasn't trying to impress; trying to get closer. The scenarios were endless. I'm only doing this for my future, for my father, for my mother, for myself. The glint in Nazari's eyes when he assessed the word vegan rattled Dorian enough to force him to look at his shoes, polished and smooth. All control had been given up in the name of whatever charm Nazari had cast on him.

"Come with me."

Nazari followed a path away from the classrooms and upwards. Dorian had not memorized the school map, but his knowledge was basic enough to guess that they were heading for the tower. He griped the wooden banister firmly while ascending, following Nazari's light footsteps with his eyes. He didn't dare look at his form, the way the sun streamed through his curls and illuminated his smooth skin. It was too much.

They didn't exchange anything but a few looks that meant more to Dorian than they did to Hector, who was glancing at him with various degrees of interest each time. The blond boy had to catch his breath several times, while Nazari was light of foot and quick. It created a prolonged journey to the attic where they stored sculptures and busts.

The room was littered with boys and men in different positions, each conveying their own story, each obeying their own master. Lips parted, limbs stretched, fingers ready to grab onto anything for mercy. A cry floated hollow around the room following the slight breeze escaping through the window: touch, touch, touch...

"There was a time when people didn't eat for days before a celebration," Hector continued their earlier conversation. His body slithered and sipped from place to place inside the room, every marble face gaining a breath of life while he stood next to it. "That way when the gods joined them their body was pure and ready to accept them."

Accept me.

"Only a chosen few had the opportunity to claim that they'd seen the divine, that they'd been it for a night."

Dorian felt dizzy, drunk, disoriented. He watched his own precious, golden god mix with the statues and the faces. His messenger bag dropped off of his small shoulder and his feet acted on their own when they began following the ancient dance Hector was performing for him.

"And I wonder: can you be the same after you've been a god?"

It was difficult to answer when your mind feels liquid. Like it will suddenly bleed out of your nose along with your sanity. Dorian was looking at Nazari, who glowed more than ever, but they weren't in the attic anymore. The stone had turned into cotton, they were among the clouds.

A hand grabbed his own. Nazari was behind him, turning his body towards himself, matching Dorian's height perfectly. His breath smelled of the open sea.

"Do you want to be a god, Dorian?"

The question sounded in English, and German and Latin and French and a prophecy being fulfilled in an ancient crevice of a mountain, where two threads of life combined and smothered fate by wrapping around her throat. Isn't this what my mother wanted? 

"Yes, " Dorian breathed.

Their mouths clashed, teeth grazing bottom lips, sand sipping, ice breaking. Hands tugged at the jagged edges of clothing and body, and Dorian was giving up himself one heartbeat at a time. His mind rang with requests that he answered by pressing closer to Hector, as close as he could.

I want you to be mine.

I want your heart to beat the syllables of my name.

I want you to surrender.


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