CHAPTER FOUR - FIRE IN THE SKY
“So what is between you and Fallon Gedeon, Bastian?” Steff asked as she watched him clean up the kitchen at Piero’s.
It was only him, Steff and Ven there as the owner had taken off an hour earlier. He trusted Sebastian to clean and lock up the place. Besides it meant a few more dollars in his pocket if he was there longer. Steff and Ven would often hang with him as he finished up his shift.
She hiked herself up on a metal countertop, swinging her booted feet, as he stared at him eagerly awaiting an explanation of what had happened with Fallon.
“That’s not really sanitary, you know. Your butt is on the food prep area. I’m going to have to clean there again,” Sebastian said dryly.
She tossed her head. Her hair did not move as she had enough product in it to freeze in place a small country. “I resent that. I have got a cute, clean butt covered by a cute, clean skirt.”
Sebastian grinned as he scrubbed one of the dough bowls. The suds wrapped up around his arms. His hands felt raw from the detergent and hot water. “Okay, Steff. I guess a person would be crazy not to want his pizza prepared where your ass has been.”
“Definitely,” she said, nodding sagely.
Ven chuckled into his hand.
“So what is going on between you and the hottie Gedeon who is to be differentiated forever more from the younger bastard Gedeons?” Steff pressed.
“Nothing. I mean he felt bad about how Christopher and Beagan acted that’s all,” Sebastian said. He knew he sounded evasive, but that was the truth. That he wished there was something more in Fallon’s interest was irrelevant to whether there actually was. He refused to build a fantasy around the other man only to have it exploded by seeing him having a romantic dinner with some woman at a local hot spot.
“He's apologizing for them? Why? It’s not like they’re his hand puppets or anything. God, if I had to apologize for my sister, I’d go barking mad and be doing nothing else!” Steff said with a wrinkle of her nose in disgust.
Steff’s sister, Carrie, was as different from Steff as night and day. Carried didn’t have single black item in her closet. Her blonde hair was always carefully coifed into a shiny bob and she wore cardigans in pastels. She was the fakest person Sebastian had come across as well. She would smile while stabbing a knife in your back. In comparison, Steff was true blue as a friend. She’d defend a friend even if they were in the wrong.
“He’s sort of …” Sebastian paused and searched for the words. “Old-fashioned. I guess that’s the way to describe it. All about family honor, etcetera.”
“Or maybe he’s just all freaked out that you’ll think badly of him and won’t want to be around him if his brothers are no better than mold spores,” Steff said. “After all, if Ven hadn’t already known and loved me in spite of my sister, I would be totally concerned that he would judge me badly because of her.”
“I see your point, but that’s not what’s going on here. Fallon’s like … way out of my league,” Sebastian answered.
Steff let out a bark of laughter. “Do you even look at yourself in the mirror? I mean c’mon! Chris Pine would eat his heart out to have your looks.” She jumped down from the counter and grasped the edge of Sebastian’s Henley. She lifted it up to reveal his chest. “I mean look at that six pack! Those perfect pecs. Jesus, those hipbones! You could cut someone with how defined they are. Your body says underwear model on billboard in New York’s Time Square all over it.”
Sebastian fought the blush and tugged down his shirt leaving a sudsy wet mark on the material. He laughed, “Jesus, Steff! Don’t you think Ven’s going to mind you stripping other guys?”
She waved his concern away. “No, he knows his place in my heart.” She blew her long-time boyfriend a kiss. “Besides that was for the greater good. You’ve got to stop seeing yourself as something to be scrapped off the bottom of a Gedeon’s shoe!”
“Don’t you think I want him to like me?” Sebastian asked as he tossed the pot into the drying rack. “But think about it. He’s an adult. He still sees me as the kid who danced naked in his azalea bushes.”
Steff’s mouth dropped open. “You danced naked in his azalea bushes? How have you kept that fact from me?” But then she was shaking her head and raising her hands up. “Wait, you’re totally distracting me from my points.”
“Which are?” Sebastian had to admit for as painful as her points might be it was less so than reliving that moment of butt-shaking in front of Fallon.
“Right.” She began to tick off on her fingers her argument. “First, no straight man touches another man like he did with you. My god, he was practically caressing you in the parking lot!” Steff snorted. “Am I not right, Ven? Straight guys don’t do that.”
Sebastian looked over his shoulder at the gentle giant. Ven gave him a smile that said: sorry about this.
“She’s right, Bastian,” Ven’s voice was low, deep and soft.
“Well, yeah, maybe. I don’t know. I mean I told him I was gay and he didn’t say he was, too,” Sebastian said, but his heart soared that his friends thought something could be possible.
“Wait a minute! You TOLD him you were gay? Just off the cuff? What the heck inspired you to say that?” Steff goggled. “And what was his reaction? Exactly what words did you say and he say?”
“He was … honored I told him. That I trusted him enough to tell him. I was trying to explain why Christopher has suddenly got it into his head to go after me and how it wasn’t an issue,” Sebastian said as he scrubbed all the grime out of the sink now that the dishes were done.
“Why did the little bastard do it? He can’t have really thought you stole his wallet,” Steff asked.
“Dana Stevens,” Sebastian muttered softly and cringed. Steff hated Dana Stevens’ ilk.
Her explosive snort told him that a rant was coming. “As if! Even if you were straight as the day, you wouldn’t like that little snit! My god, she’s stupid as a post. You should have heard her in biology the other day. She thinks genes are the things you wear! So Christopher likes her? Well, one has to sink to one’s level.”
“She’s not that bad, Steff,” Sebastian tried to mollify her.
“She’s not that good either,” Steff growled.
“Like a red flag to a bull those preppy girls are to you,” Sebastian teased.
“You don’t understand the Woman Code,” Steff said.
Sebastian’s eyebrows raised. “There’s a Code?”
She nodded. “She brings the rest of us down. Just trust me on this.”
Sebastian couldn’t help but laugh at that. “Well, anyways, Fallon was nice about me being gay, but nothing more.”
Steff tapped her chin. “So no horror, right? More like happy that you told him?”
Sebastian sighed. “Yes, happy I told him. But there was no gay kumbaya moment where he offered to initiate me into the gay club of Highmoor.”
“Can you imagine if there was a gay club of Highmoor composed of all hot, rich guys who pursued hot younger men? Boy, that would be … mmmmm, yummy!” Steff said with a shake of her head.
“I’m glad I can help in your fantasies, Steff,” Sebastian said.
“You definitely have your moments of usefulness, Bastian,” she laughed.
He rubbed the back of his neck and groaned as the muscles slightly relaxed. The memory of his own fantasy of Fallon massaging him flashed through his mind and he was tugging his shirt over his jeans.“I think we’re done here. And I’m beat.”
“Do you want to come over to my place for a movie? We’re thinking of doing a 1950s horror marathon,” Steff offered.
Sebastian frowned. “What about school?”
“Uhm, silly boy, tomorrow’s Saturday,” Steff said with a sympathetic look in her eyes.
He blinked. “Jesus, it is. Glad you told me or else I would have gone tomorrow.”
The days were running together. He was never sure where he was at the best of times these days.
Steff patted his arm. “It’s okay. You’re allowed. So want to come?”
Sebastian shook his head. “Nah, thanks. You guys go ahead. I want to spend some time with Mom. And I have to work on that report for Mr. Simmons, which I hope is due next week and not this one.”
“All work and no play make Bastian a sad boy, but the Mom thing is legit,” Steff said good-naturedly. She looped one arm through Ven’s. “See you tomorrow, pretty boy!”
They both flounced off. The quiet seemed to press down on Sebastian like a thick blanket. He untied the white apron splotched with pizza sauce and dusted with flour and hung it up. He grabbed his leather jacket and slid it on, loving the sensual feel of its coolness against his skin. With one final look at the kitchen, making sure all the burners and ovens off, he clicked off the lights. Slinging his backpack over his shoulders and grasping his helmet, he locked the front door behind him. The chrome on his bike glimmered in the moonlight. He found himself smiling. He loved his bike. When he rode, it was like flying. There was a sense of weightlessness as the road whipped by underneath his wheels. He was tempted sometimes not to wear his helmet so that he could feel the wind in his hair and on his face, but then he would remember that it wasn’t all about him anymore. If something happened to him his mother would suffer. He slid the helmet over his head.
He straddled the motorcycle and turned on the engine. It rumbled to life like a playful kitten beneath him. He knocked the kickstand back and drove out of the parking lot onto the strip of black asphalt. The moon was full tonight and the roads clear. His heart thrilled as he raced along the curving road. He loved how the moonlight silvered the trees that hung heavy over the road. The night air was clear and the stars sparkled brightly above him. He was fast coming to a fork in the road. Both directions would take him home, but the one to the left fork went up Easham Hill while the right fork went around it. He had always taken the right fork since the accident and he expected to that night. But then he saw something.
A spout of flame rose up from the trees on the top of Easham Hill. Sebastian blinked. Had he imagined it? But then it happened again. It was too big to be merely a Roman candle or other firework. It was a few feet across and at least ten feet above the treetops.
“What the hell?” Sebastian whispered.
Before he knew it, he was riding up the left fork to the top of Easham Hill. His heart began to pound heavily in his chest halfway up. His eyes flipped between the road and the treetops. He thought he saw another red-gold glow, before he was unable to see above the trees. He crested the top of the hill and slowed his bike. This was where his parents’ car had gone off the road. A single white cross with dead flowers and a few plastic wrapped cards marked where his life had irrevocably changed. Steff had told him about how big an arrangement there was at first with dozens of cards, flower arrangements, stuffed animals and the like, but now the elements had reduced the gifts of grief to a sad few. He had never gone up here to see them. His heart stuck in his throat and tears burned. He blinked his eyes furiously as he slowed the bike down and pulled off onto the shoulder.
He took off his helmet and rested it on the handlebars. He stared down the hill towards the trees at the bottom. It was too dark to see if the trees there were scarred from the Camry’s front grill. His chest was tight.
I shouldn’t be here. I should leave. What good is being here? But what about the fire? Must have been kids messing around. If the forest were on fire, I would see it. But there’s nothing, he thought.
He grabbed his helmet, was about to put it on again and roar out of there, when he saw a burst of flames through the trees. It was in the field that was on the other side of the tree line. It was bigger than before. And there was a sound.
The sound shattered the air. Then the ground shook. He grasped hold of the bike to stop it and him from tumbling to the ground. His ears were ringing and his legs felt weak beneath him as the tremors faded off. He knocked down the kickstand and jumped off the bike. He had to know what that was.
Did it happen the night we crashed? Was whatever that was the cause of Dad driving off the road?
With his heart beating like a drum in his ears, Sebastian scrambled down the steep hill, almost the exact way he had come up after the accident. His boots slipped on the rocks and he nearly pitched forward and skidded down the hill face first, but he caught himself just in time. He reached the tree line and was scooting between the trunks of two massive trees. His hand brushed along the bark of one and he felt a strange indentation. He froze for one moment. It was damage from something very heavy hitting the massive oak.
Our car …
But he forced himself to go on. There were no more bursts of flame, thundering roars or any sounds or light at all. He used his memory to travel approximately in the direction he’d seen the flames.
If I reach the field, I’ll be able to see everything anyways. If it was in the field.
He nearly tripped over the tangled tree roots as he made his way in the dark. There were only a few shards of moonlight that made it down past the canopy to the ground. He aimed for the nearest one of those, stretching his hands out in front of him so he could dodge any obstacles. Low hanging branches ripped at him. He felt a cut open up on his left cheek and the sting of hot blood run down his face. But then the trees opened up and there was a clear path to the field straight ahead of him. He quickened his pace. He burst into the field, his head jerking this way and that to see the source of the flames. Only he didn’t see a roaring campfire or array of explosives, instead he saw three people, two of whom were naked.
“Fallon?” Sebastian gasped as the tallest of the three, and one of the naked ones, turned towards him.
“Sebastian, what are you doing here?” Fallon’s cultured voice was full of shock.
“Make him go away, Fallon!” Beagan cried out, his voice shrill. He was also naked. But unlike Fallon who stood apart, his bare physique completely revealed for all to see, Beagan was clutching at Christopher’s middle, burying his brown head into his brother's stomach.
Christopher was the only one dressed, but he was in pajamas. Flannels, which had Sebastian grinning slightly as they made him look like a little kid. But then Fallon advanced towards him, bare arms outstretched, muscles in them twitching under his silken skin, the world narrowed down to the oldest Gedeon. Sebastian blinked and blinked again.
The moonlight struck Fallon’s body and silvered his muscles. His chest was a perfect ‘v’-shape. His pecs and abs were sculpted and heavily defined. His thighs were incredible. Sebastian could see all the muscles in the quads flexing as he walked. Then there was his cock. It was eight inches unaroused. Sebastian nearly looked down at his own front, feeling a bit of penis envy. His mouth was suddenly watering though as he imagined the taste of that tender flesh. What would happen if he dropped to his knees and took Fallon's cock into his mouth? He shook his head vigorously.
What the hell am I thinking? Jesus! Keep it together.
"Sebastian?" Fallon asked again.
Sebastian dragged his eyes away from Fallon's penis, his cheeks flushing nuclear red. His only hope was that in the darkness that where he was looking wasn't all that obvious. “Are you hurt? There was an explosion -- or something. Your clothes ..."
Fallon stopped a few feet from him. Sebastian caught a hint of his aftershave. He almost felt dizzy from it. His hands ached to reach forward and touch the velvety flesh of Fallon's pectorals. His palms would ride up and frame the older man's throat then into his dark hair. It would be as soft as silk sifting through his fingers.
"What did you see, Sebastian?" Fallon asked quietly.
Sebastian snapped back to the moment. His mind drew a blank. Why had he come down here? What was more important than seeing Fallon naked? "Fire ..."
Beagan gave out a whimper and Christopher soothed him. His normally pretty face looked pale and drawn, a white smudge in the darkness. What had happened here? Had they been attacked? Had an explosion blasted their clothes off? Maybe Christopher had been farther away and that's why he was still clothed.
But that's crazy. There are no wounds on either of them. Not even a singed hair. What happened here?
"Fire?" Fallon asked. His eyes glittered in the moonlight. "Are you sure?"
Sebastian's head felt strange and his vision went swimmy. He rubbed his head and gritted out, "Yeah. Twice. A huge spout of it. Rising like fifty feet into the air or maybe more."
The image was hard to hold in his mind. It kept changing from the large man-sized spout to that of a firecracker. His brain hurt. It was like the memory was being forcefully rewritten. He gripped his head.
"Are you all right?" Sebastian's hand was placed lightly on his shoulder.
Sebastian could see this bare stomach and thigh. The thatch of curls around his penis was also drawing his interest even with a throbbing head. "My -- my head. It hurts ... bad. A migraine or something. I -- I saw a huge spout of fire, Sebastian. It was incredible. I don't know what could have caused it." He said the words as if to make the memory hold. "Did you see it?"
Fallon suddenly looked away from him and Sebastian's head ached for a moment before his vision cleared. The feeling of having his memory replaced left him.
Fallon's voice was uncertain and he wouldn't look at Sebastian. "I -- I didn't see anything --"
"Fallon do something!" Christopher cried out.
"Do something about what?" Sebastian shook his head. "What's going on? Why are you n--naked? And why is Beagan naked? And why are you out here in the field?"
Fallon grimaced. "Beagan sleepwalks and he left the house. We followed after him as quickly as we could."
"Nude?" Sebastian's eyes were wide. "You must have been really worried."
Fallon's head lowered. "He's hurt himself before. We -- we had to do something."
Sebastian looked at that beautiful figure and felt something cold run through him. Fallon was lying to him and that hurt. He was surprised at the almost raw feeling of betrayal he felt. I have enough to worry about without getting involved in Gedeon family secrets. If he wants to lie, treat me like an idiot, so what? It's not like we're friends. It's not like we're anything.
"Forget it. I don't need to know the real reason. You all look okay. I'll be going now." Sebastian turned on his heel and was stalking off when Fallon grabbed his arm. He froze. "What?"
"Wait! Sebastian ... I ..." Fallon's voice dropped off.
"Fallon let him go! We don't want him here!" Christopher yelled.
"I do!" Fallon shouted back. Beagan made a soft crying sound and Fallon sighed softly. "Beagan ... Beagan wasn't well ... it's a family condition ..."
Sebastian's back stiffened. "You don't have to tell me what you're really doing here. Just don't ..."
"Lie to you. I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking. I wasn't expecting you to suddenly appear," Fallon said softly. "I wasn't expecting anyone. That it was you ... I panicked."
"It's -- it's okay. I just don't ... thanks for telling me that," Sebastian said.
"You're welcome. I -- I should have trusted you from the get go," Fallon said quietly. "I normally have a sixth sense about people and with you ... I know we can trust you. That you won't say anything to anyone about this. You won't, will you?"
The warmth of his hand soaked through Sebastian's leather jacket. He shivered as he imagined what it would feel like to have Fallon's skin against his again. His cock throbbed and the image of Fallon naked was all he could see.
I'm going crazy. Being near him like this. I might do something insane like kiss him or confess undying lust for him or something. I've got to get out of here.
"I won't. I promise." Sebastian answered. He wasn't sure what he would say. That he saw Fallon naked? He'd like to keep that to himself. He turned around to face the older man. What had happened that had brought them out here like this? Would he ever know?
"I knew I could count on you." Fallon smiled. He looked even more incrediblly handsome when he did that. "Perhaps one day, I can tell you about this ... the truth of it. But until then ..."
"I won't say anything, really," Sebastian promised. "It was just ... are you sure that you didn't see anything? The fire? Because I thought maybe -- maybe it was what my dad saw when he went off the road."
It hurt hearing the almost hopeful note to his voice. He knew he looked yearning at that moment. He saw the sadness in Fallon's eyes.
He pities me. Why did I say anything? It sounds nuts.
"I'm sorry about that. You must have passed by the place where the -- the accident occurred. How terrible," Fallon said. "I'm so deeply sorry about that."
"Not your fault. None of this," Sebastian said and shook his head. "I shouldn't have come down here. I just -- the fire. The fire in the sky. It made sense with what my father said before he -- he ..."
Fallon gripped his biceps. "Don't think of that, Sebastian. Don't relive it here."
Sebastian gave a soft laugh. "No, I don't want to actually." He glanced down and reddened again as he caught sight of Fallon's cock once more. "I guess this makes us even."
Fallon cocked an eyebrow up in confusion.
"Naked in the great outdoors. Though you aren't dancing with your dolls," Sebastian said.
Fallon chuckled and though it was dark, Sebastian could see the heightened color. "Indeed. We are nearly even. Because the dancing was the best part."
Sebastian laughed hard then. "Yeah, I can see how that would be." He sobered as he asked, "You're all right? Do you need help? I can go grab a car or here's my phone, you could call--"
Fallon waved away his offer of help. "Everything is under control. You should get home."
How can everything be in control when they are miles away from their house and naked? He realized then that he could see the Gedeon mansion on the next rise. He had forgotten that this side of Easham Hill was owned by the Gedeon's. Sebastian glanced over his shoulder at the top of the hill and shivered. He'd have to go past the place where the accident happened again.
"I'll go with you. I don't want you to be alone out here," Fallon said.
"Don't leave us, Fallon!" Beagan cried.
Fallon's forehead furrowed. He looked back at his brothers. "It'll be all right. I'll be back in a few moments, Beagan."
"Really, I'm good and -- and your brothers really seem to need you," Sebastian said.
"Sebastian, I don't think you should be alone," Fallon said.
"But you really can't -- uhm, really, you shouldn't come!" Sebastian objected. He looked at all that velvety skin and didn't want to imagine it being cut and bruised making their way through the woods then climbing up to the road.
Fallon blinked at him. "What do you mean?"
"The way back is -- is not for someone in your condition," Sebastian winced as he said that.
"My condition?" Fallon's confusion grew.
"You're -- uhm, naked and the way back is not going to be really good for that," Sebastian finally said.
Fallon looked down at himself and nodded. "I see your point."
Sebastian took his courage into his hands and touched Fallon's bare shoulder. His skin was as soft as it looked. He forced himself not to squeeze that supple flesh. "Stay with your brothers and -- and deal with whatever this is."
Fallon's head lowered again. Shame was evident on his handsome features. "I would tell you if --"
Sebastian waved him off. "Don't worry about it. Really. Everybody's got secrets. And we don't know one another that well."
"Not yet," Fallon corrected.
Sebastian froze a moment before the comment sunk in. "Right. Not yet."
"I will see you tomorrow? Around noon? To see your mother?" Fallon asked.
Sebastian nodded. "Yeah, yeah, right. That would be good. Really good."
Fallon's green-gold eyes rose to meet his. They were glimmering again, but this time it didn't hurt to look into them as it strangely had before. "Take care of yourself, Sebastian. Drive safely and sleep well. Tomorrow we will speak again."