Indulgence ©2005

By Jack Llawayllynn


Chapter 12: Tested

Matt avoided everyone that he could and took some time to think things over. He went to work and applied himself with concentrated devotion but spoke little. He had come to the conclusion that Sin was more than just a convenient and thrilling lover to him. Sin held a piece of him, Sin was a piece of him. Matt needed him, wanted him in his life. Sin had created the man that Matt was now and Matt yearned to let the bond between them strengthen, to stop stretching it thin. He knew that Sin was angry with him, disgusted with him even, but he also knew that Sin felt more than he was willing to admit. He had seen the dark and haunted look in Sin's eyes whenever he looked Matt's way. Matt was willing to bet his pride on it.

Friday night he went to see Miss Sylvia and to tell her that he planned on trying to win Sin back, that he was ready to commit to him. Miss Sylvia was thrilled. Lately she had been withdrawn on his visits to her, quiet and moody. He knew that she thought he and Sin should be together. She had never made a secret of that. Matt left feeling better than he had in a long while. He knew Sin would punish him, make him pay for his mistakes, but he was fairly certain that Sin would take him back.

Fearing that Sin might be out with Trish Friday night Matt waited until Saturday morning to go to his apartment. He knocked at the door but got no answer. He knocked louder and heard Sin cussing from within. Finally the door opened and Sin glared at him, his hair a mess, wearing only jeans and key on a chain around his neck. "What the fuck Matt? You know I like to sleep late on the weekends. I had a gig last night and it's only eight thirty."

"Yeah, I know it's only eight thirty. I was hoping to catch you here, alone. I really need to talk to you Sin. Can I come in?" Matt smiled his most charming smile. Sin gave him a suspicious but intrigued look and stepped aside so that Matt could enter. "You are alone aren't you?"

"Yeah, just me and the squid," Sin said as he followed Matt to the couch. They both sat, staring at one another.

"Okay, this is the deal. I fucked up Sin. I thought that you were just using me, taking what you wanted without giving me anything in return. I was wrong. I want...what I'm trying to say is..." Matt trailed off, looking into Sin's cold eyes. He could tell he wasn't getting through to Sin at all. He took a deep breath and started again. "I came to ask your forgiveness."

"For what?" Sin asked, his eyes hooded and dark.

"For everything. For fucking around, for throwing away what was growing between us, for denying that there was something between us, for ignoring what I felt. I want to apologize." Matt smiled hopefully.

Sin stared at him a moment then said, "Fine. You're forgiven. Now get the fuck out and let me sleep. That woman came here after my gig and kept me up half the night nagging about what a heartless bastard I am. I finally had to run her out. I'm surprised she's not here again already, bitching and moaning about how we seem to be going nowhere."

"Leave her Sin. You're just hurting her, you know. She's just an innocent bystander in all of this." Matt laid a hand on Sin's thigh. Sin brushed it away.

"Get out," Sin said coldly and stood. Matt stood with him.

"Don't throw me out Sin. I really want to stay."

"I don't feel like playing your game Matt, whatever it is. Just leave me the fuck alone." Sin turned away and headed toward his bedroom. "Go play with Estaban or Drift. Just get the fuck out."

"I don't want to go play with Estaban or Drift. That's what I'm trying to tell you. I don't want anyone else but you. No Estaban, no Trish, no Drift. I want a commitment from you Sin and I want to give you one as well. I want to be a couple, you know, monogamous. What do you say?" Matt was following Sin as he spoke, hoping Sin was truly listening, that he wouldn't turn around and truly throw him out bodily.

"I don't think so. You're just in this for the fuck, remember? You're too curious to just stick with me. Well go and quench that curiosity with as many men as you like but leave me the hell alone." Sin peeled off his jeans and threw them down in the floor before climbing into bed and pulling the covers up around his ears. "And lock the door on your way out."

Feeling defeated Matt turned to go, glancing back at Sin's hunched shape only once. "At least I fucking tried," Matt muttered under his breath.

"What did you say?" Sin called from the bedroom.

"I said at least I fucking tried!" Matt yelled back. "You can't say I didn't come and lay it on the table for you!"

"Yes I can! You haven't laid shit on my table Matt! You said you were sorry, that you wanted a relationship. That's it." Sin's voice echoed slightly as it carried down the hall. Matt turned around and went back into the bedroom.

"What else am I supposed to do? Cry? Get down on my knees and beg? What?" He leaned against the doorsill and glared at Sin.

"That would be a start. You could at least say what you feel, not what you want or think you deserve. You want a relationship, you want a commitment, you deserve forgiveness just because you asked. That doesn't mean shit to me Matt. Not shit."

Matt thought about it a moment then crossed to sit on the edge of the bed. He smoothed a strand of Sin's hair from his forehead as he stared down at him. Sin scowled deeply but said nothing, waiting. Matt sighed, tilted his head and studied Sin's face. "I desire to be with you. I miss you. I feel lonely when I can't see you. I am obsessed with you, fascinated by you, infatuated with you. I hunger for your taste, your smell, the feel of your soul touching mine. That is what I feel."

"Fuck you. I'm not a woman Matt. I don't want to hear that cheesy shit."

Matt flinched back, deeply hurt. He had meant every damn word of what he'd said and Sin's harsh rejection cut him deeply. Sin saw the pain in Matt's eyes and sighed. "I didn't mean it like that Matt. I just meant that I don't need the emotional reassurance you're trying to offer. I need reassurance of my ownership."

"Ownership?" Matt asked, drawing back.

Sin sat up, pushing the covers away. He put a hand on Matt's neck then pulled him forward roughly so that they were face to face, eye to eye. "Ownership," Sin drawled succinctly. "My possession of your mind, body and soul. You said once that I didn't own you. The fact is that I do own you. If I didn't then you wouldn't have come crawling in here like this. I just want to know that you are aware of it, that you admit it, that you submit to it. It's as simple as that. You are mine and until you admit that I don't want anything to do with you."

Matt blinked at Sin owlishly then jerked away and stood. He began pacing back and forth at the foot of Sin's bed. Sin leaned against the headboard and watched him with his arms crossed over his chest, grinning his evil wolf's grin. Matt shook his head, denying, shook it again, fighting it. He glanced over at Sin, dismayed at the sudden rush of lust he felt just looking at him laying there, knowing he was naked. Matt shook his head again. Finally he turned and headed for the front door. Halfway there he turned on his heel and went back to the bedroom.

"Now look here, I'm my own man! I do as I please! No one has ever owned me, no one! Not my parents, not my boss, not my girlfriends, no one. You don't either!" Matt trailed off, sputtering.

"I what?" Sin asked, brows furrowed.

"Fuck you!"

"Get out before I throw you out," Sin growled.

Matt stared at him a long time, thinking. Deep in his mind he knew Sin was right. Sin did own him, he possessed him mind, body and soul like a demon preying upon a weak human host. Matt's shoulders slumped. All he had to do was admit it, give over to it, and things could go back to the way they had been. Matt opened his mouth, closed it. "Fuck you!" he finally said again.

"Ah, such pride, Matt. So hard headed. Get out of here before Trish shows up. I hate it when you two run into each other." Sin waved a hand toward the door, dismissing him. Matt turned to go, fuming, fretting. He felt like he was letting his last chance slip through his fingers. He turned back.

"You own me," he muttered, his words barely audible even to himself. He sighed though because it hadn't been that hard to say.

"What?" Sin stood and advanced on him, wild and graceful as a panther, tilting his head in an exaggerated manner. Matt looked away across the room.

"I said you own me." Matt swallowed loudly.

"Prove it." Sin didn't smile. He looked deathly serious.

"What?! Prove it? How?" Matt eyes were focused on Sin's face now, searching for signs of mischief but seeing none. Sin was serious, intent.

"Call Estaban, have him come over. While he's here you will do whatever I tell you without questions. If you can prove to Estaban that I own you then you can prove it to me." Sin reached up a hand and ran it through Matt's soft brown hair, a caress that was both gentle and affectionate. His eyes though were cold, calculating, weighing.

"Estaban already knows it. He told me as much. I don't need to prove it to him."

Sin's hand suddenly clenched in Matt's hair and tilted his head back a little. "You're right, you don't need to prove it to Estaban. You need to prove it to me and to that you must obey me before Estaban. Call him or get out. If you leave don't' ever come near me again." Sin's hand dropped to Matt's neck and pressed against his windpipe making it hard to breathe. Matt caught Sin's wrist in his hand and pulled it away. Sin's closeness always affected him but coupled with the threat of violence it set him on fire with lust and Sin knew it. "Call him."

"No. I don't think..."Matt stopped when he saw the fire flare in Sin's eyes. "Alright. I'll play your game this time Sin. I'll call Estaban and perform your tricks for you but only if you promise not to test me again. I want this settled between us Sin. I want this to be definite, a promise, me to you, you to me."

"Deal," Sin said quietly and leaned forward to kiss Matt, his naked body pressed against Matt's, down his entire length. Matt opened to the kiss immediately, welcoming Sin's tongue, savoring his taste, so long denied and wanting so much more. Sin pulled away. "Go call Estaban."

Matt dialed Estaban's apartment but the voice that answered was not Estaban's. Matt held the receiver against his ear a moment in surprise. "Hello?" the voice asked again.

"Um, this is Matt. Is Estaban there and may I speak with him?"

"Oh hey Matt! It's me, Drift. Yeah, Esty's here. Hang on, I'll go get him."

Matt put a hand over the phone and looked over at Sin. "Drift's there," he informed him.

"Does that bother you?" Sin asked as he lounged on the bed watching Matt closely.

"No," Matt answered honestly. "It surprised me is all. I wasn't expecting them to hook up so soon. I'm glad they have but..." Estaban's voice on the phone interrupted Matt. "Hey Esty," Matt said, aware that Sin was still eyeing him. "I need a favor."

"What kind of favor?" Estaban asked carefully, still hurting over Matt and not yet ready to see him again.

"I want you to come over to Sin's for a little while."


"Well, it' of Sin's ideas. He'll explain when you get here." Matt saw Sin raise a brow but ignored him.

"Alright, I guess I can. Care if I bring Drift?"

"Drift? Uh, well, I don't know if you should bring him along..." Mat gasped as Sin leaped up and snatched the phone from him.

"Yes!" Sin said firmly into the phone. "By all means, bring Drift."

"What is this all about Sin?" Estaban asked suspiciously.

"It's about me taking back what's mine." Sin gave Matt a hard look as he spoke. "Bring the boy, it'll be more fun that way. When can you get here?"

"In about twenty minutes I guess."

"Great, see you then. Bye." Sin placed the phone on its cradle. "I'm going to take a shower."

Matt went and sat in the living room and watched the squid flowing back and forth in its tank as he wondered just how bad the scene that Sin was setting up was going to be. He knew that Sin wasn't going to go easy on him, that he would probably humiliate him, belittle him, hurt him even. Matt sighed . He didn't know whether to dread it terribly or look forward to it. Sin came down the hall in clean jeans with a damp towel around his bare shoulders, his bare feet padding on the hardwood floor.

"You can still leave Matt," Sin said, taking a seat on the arm of the couch.

"No, I came here to win you back. I've already swallowed my pride. It can't get much worse."

"Oh, it will be much, much worse, I assure you. You have agreed to obey me without question while Estaban is here. I will take full advantage of that agreement. If you have any doubts you best get up and go."

Matt seriously considered leaving. He didn't have to take this kind of shit from anyone. That though was the thought that stopped him, kept him seated. He didn't have to do it, that was the key. He was willing to do whatever Sin asked of him because he wanted Sin back, was tired of missing him, dreaming of him, wanting him. He didn't have to do this, but he would. He sighed deeply and reached up to take Sin's hand and entwine his fingers with Sin's. He pulled the hand down and kissed it, a gesture meant to reassure himself, not Sin. Sin though seemed to be affected by this gesture. He slid from the arm of the sofa on the sofa cushions to sit close beside Matt. He pulled Matt into his arms and Matt leaned his head against Sin's chest. Sin stroked his hair, his neck. Matt lost himself in Sin's nearness, took comfort from his embrace. Sin seemed on the verge of speaking , possibly even releasing Matt from this ridiculous agreement but there was a knock at the door and Sin pulled away and went to answer it.

"What's this all about?" Estaban asked as he entered, casting a look from Sin standing in the doorway to Matt sitting on the couch. Drift trailed in behind Esty, looking clean and young, dressed in stiff new black denim, several new silver studs gleaming in his ears.

"Matt came here this morning to try to talk me into making a commitment with him," Sin said as they each took a seat in the living room.

"That's not real surprising," Estaban said dryly, his eyes holding a hint of the hurt and disappointment he felt. Drift looked around at each of the faces in the room trying to gauge the cause of the uneasy feelings he sensed from them all.

"Matt, go get our guests something to drink," Sin said casually. Matt rose, went to the kitchen, fixed four drinks, brought them back, handed them around without a word.

"So what does any of this have to do with me?" Estaban asked, sipping his drink then setting it aside.

"I thought you should know. It's only fair, it seems to me, for you to know that if I accept his suggestion that he would no longer be available to you. Or you Drift," Sin added, nodding to the younger man. Drift blushed a little.

"Matt has already made it clear to me that he no longer wants to continue our relationship, physically at least," Estaban said, his eyes meeting Sin's steadily. "He told me a couple of weeks ago, after the Chains gig that I took him to."

"That's good to know." Sin looked over at Matt. "Take off your shirt."

Matt frowned but stripped off the shirt as Estaban and Drift looked at him curiously.

"The thing is," Sin continued as if the conversation had never been interrupted, "I want to know that you are willing to stay away from Matt if I agree to the commitment he has asked for."

"Stay away from him? As in not see him at all? Not be friends or talk on the phone or have a few drinks together? I don't think that's a fair request. I am fond of Matt, I enjoy his company. I would be willing to agree to keep my hands to myself but as far as just continuing to be friends with Matt, well, I'm not going to give that up without a fight."

Estaban glared at Sin menacingly.

"That's fair enough," Sin said nonchalantly and Estaban nearly gaped at him.

"No argument?" Estaban asked stunned.

"No. If you say you'll keep your hands to yourself then I believe you." Sin turned to Matt again. "Take your shoes off Matt, and your socks." Matt did as instructed without a word. Sin turned to Drift. "What about you Drift? Do you agree to keep your hands to yourself?"

"Dude, I never made a move on Matt, I swear. He made the move on me, you have to believe that!" Drift held up his hands in a gesture of innocence.

"So you agree?"

"Yeah, I mean, of course. I wouldn't move in on your turf dude, I like you too much." Drift grinned boyishly and Sin nodded.

"Go get me another drink Matt," Sin held up his glass and Matt took it from his fingers thinking that this was going to be much easier then he had expected. Other than having to shed a few clothes and jump to get drinks Sin had really asked for nothing, had not embarrassed him or hurt him in any way. Matt brought the glass back and put it in Sin's hand.

"You haven't said much about this Matt," Estaban said, eyeing him head to toe.

Matt shrugged as he sat. "It was Sin's idea for you to come out. He doesn't believe..."

"Shut up Matt," Sin snapped and Matt immediately shut his mouth, realizing that to finish his sentence would be breaking the terms of the agreement. Estaban's brows rose and he turned to look at Sin.

"Just what is going on here?" Estaban demanded of Sin.

"A little test, nothing more. A test to see if Matt can put his pride aside for a short time and prove to me that he is serious about his proposal." Sin grinned suddenly, his eyes sparking a cruel light. "Matt, tell Estaban how much you regret having gotten involved with him."

Matt swallowed and turned to Estaban. "I deeply regret having involved myself with you. It was foolish of me, if enjoyable. I want to apologize though for..."

"That's enough Matt," Sin said and again Matt shut his mouth.

"You fucker!" Estaban snarled, looking at Sin but Matt felt himself included in the sentiment and hurt for Estaban. "I was the one who was foolish for getting involved because I am the one hurt by all this! For Matt it was just a passing fling but for me it was much more. I really feel for Matt Sin, I really had hopes that he would come to feel for me too but no, you stood between us. You've won Sin. Congratulations on your victory. You have what you want, no need to rub it in my face."

Sin turned to look at Matt, his eyes hard. "Strip."

It was only one word but it hit Matt like a snowball in the face. Matt remained still, staring at Sin, aching inside for what Estaban must be feeling. Sin's jaw clenched as he waited. Finally Matt sighed, rose and stripped, laying aside the gun that he now carried with him always.

"That's real fucking cute," Estaban grumbled but even as he complained his eyes traveled over Matt's bare skin. Drift sat silently, observing curiously. Sin stood and stepped behind Matt, his arm wrapping around Matt's waist, his hand resting over Matt's navel. Sin stared at Estaban over Matt's shoulder.

"Actually I'm not out to hurt you Estaban, or even rub it in your face. I just want to rub it into Matt's face that I own him. He doesn't like to admit it, see. He wants to believe that he could walk away whenever he wants but he can't." Sin leaned forward to whisper in Matt's ear. "On your knees, kid."

Matt sank down onto his knees conscious of Sin's hands upon his shoulders. Matt thought that this had gone too far already. He felt stupid, kneeling there naked and exposed before Estaban and Drift. Surely he had proved his point. He hoped desperately that Estaban would get up and leave and end this game of Sin's.

"This is the deal Esty, I told Matt that I would make the commitment he asked for if he would obey me while you were here. Obey me without questions. This was to prove to me how serious he was, how badly he wanted me to return to him. He's done well, don't you think?" Sin asked, his thumbs tracing circles on Matt's shoulders.

"Very nice. You've put him on a leash," Estaban said, his words harsh but his voice cracking a little with a tiny hint of despair.

"I don't think he's proven shit yet," Sin's hands tightened on Matt's shoulders. "Matt, go over there and kiss Estaban."

Matt flinched, twisted to look up at Sin then shook his head. "No."

"No?" Sin repeated harshly. "I thought you wanted to prove to me that you would be mine, that I owned you."

"Yes, that was the idea behind this stupid scene but kissing Estaban would prove nothing of the sort. It would disprove it in fact. I don't want to kiss Estaban and I'm not going to. If this cancels out our agreement then fine but I'm not going to do that. It wouldn't be right and I won't hurt Esty like that." Matt set his jaw stubbornly.

"You see Esty," Sin said with a smile, "he's not on a leash. He still speaks for himself. But he's mine, for as long as I want him."

"Matt, he's just fucking with you," Estaban said sadly. "He'll no more commit to you than he did to me. Sin has to call all the shots, to be the boss, he thinks he owes nothing back. Why did you agree to this idiocy?"

Matt flushed, feeling like a fool, feeling as humiliated and belittled as he had known Sin would make him feel. Sin's hands clamped harder on his shoulders and Matt resisted the urge to shake his hands off. "I don't why Esty. I just thought..." Matt began but again Sin cut him off.

"Shut up Matt."

And he did.

"I'm leaving," Estaban announced and stood. "Come on Drift, this is ridiculous."

"I want to know," Sin said quietly. "just how much of Matt you have had Estaban."

Estaban froze, turned, met Sin's glare eye for eye. "Not as much as you have. You know that I would never force anything on anyone that didn't want it. Matt lead the way, let me know what he wanted. I didn't take from him, only gave. The one time that he attacked me I almost used him, but mainly because I think he wanted me to. But you came in and put a stop to that , didn't you Sin? No, I didn't take from him, I only gave."

Sin wrapped his hand in Matt hair, wrenched his head back and leaned down next to his ear. "I will take from you," Sin hissed. "I will use you and abuse you and hurt you. You still want to enter into a serious relationship with me?"

Matt could see the look on Estaban's face as he watched them, saw the questions there. He also saw the horror on Drift's face, the uncertainty and insecurity that this whole scene had obviously instilled in the boy. Matt ground his teeth, knowing he had to admit the truth in front of them all.

"Yes. I still want to be with you."

"Even if I say that I intend to fuck you right now, right here?" Sin asked as he knelt down behind Matt, his hand going to Matt's left butt cheek and squeezing it hard. Matt's dick immediately sprang to attention. Estaban saw it, Drift saw it, Sin was certainly aware of it. Matt flushed but didn't struggle. "Well? Answer me!"

"I...yes," Matt answered shakily. Estaban made a strangled sound and turned away. Drift took Esty's hand as if trying to offer him some comfort. Sin stood suddenly, releasing Matt, nearly toppling him forward as he stepped passed him.

"Estaban wait!" Sin said as he grabbed Estaban's shoulder and turned him around. Estaban looked ready to deck him. "Please, I need to say something to you. Please."

"This better be real fucking good," Estaban ground out.

"Privately," Sin said gently, pleadingly, jerking his head toward the bedroom. Estaban glanced at Drift then back to Sin. "Alright Sin, but I mean it, this better be fucking good."

"Go wait for me please," Sin said then turned to Matt as Estaban started for the bedroom. "Get dressed kid. Drift, you go make some more drinks."

Estaban went to the bedroom, Drift to the kitchen. Sin watched as Matt shakily pulled on his jeans. "You're serious, aren't you?" Sin asked, coming to stand before him, his arms crossed over his chest, his head tilted not in arrogance but in humility.

"I told you I was," Matt said, his heart racing, his knees weak, his face still flushed with embarrassment.

"I was trying to piss you off. I thought if I shamed you enough that you would get mad and leave. I never expected you to see that through Matt."

"So, you were never planning to commit to me at all," Matt said, stunned, hurt and getting angry.

"Matt, you don't understand. I..." Suddenly Sin's voice cracked and he looked like he was about to break down. "I didn't believe you. I haven't let myself get close to anyone in a very long time. I..."

"Fuck you Sin!" Matt threw himself into a chair feeling utterly humiliated and despondent.

"Listen to me!" Sin demanded as he loomed over Matt, putting a hand on each arm rest. "I do want you in my life. I do want a commitment. I do want a relationship with you, a real one. I have...deep feelings for you Matt. More than any person I've known in a very long time, maybe even ever. I'm in..." Sin trailed off and his eyes lost focus for a moment then zoned in once more on Matt's. "I want you to move in with me, or me with you. What do you say?"

Matt stared up at him, his heart beating a like a drum in his chest. There was something honest and pure in Sin's eyes, something just for Matt. Matt swallowed. "I...I'll think about it."

"You do that. I have to go talk to Esty, make this right. I owe him for this, big time. But you think about it while I'm gone Matt. I'm going to want an answer soon." Sin turned and walked away, leaving Matt gaping and confused.

"Dude, that was way weird," Drift said as he came back in carrying more drinks. He handed one to Matt and set the other two down. "Why do you let him do those kinds of things to you? Is it worth it?"

"Probably not. I don't know, maybe. I have to give it a go though. I've been hung up on Sin a long time. I've just been fighting it. Maybe I've lost my fucking mind." Matt took several large gulps from his glass.

"I don't see why you'd choose Sin over Esty. I know Sin's cool as hell and he's got this...I don't know, dark pull maybe, but he's mean dude, just down right mean. He just treated you like shit, like nothing, and you let him. He'll always be like that, dude, always. Esty's not like that at all. He's gentle, tender, understanding, supportive. He's a great guy."

Matt looked over and Drift and grinned. "You really like Estaban, don't you?"

"Yeah, like I said he's a great guy."

"How long have you been staying there with him?"

"Since I went home with him that night after know." Drift looked away then back. "He's been really good to me Matt. He invited me to stay with him as long as I need a place. He feeds me, buys me clothes, gives me my own spending money. He's taught me a few things, you know, in bed like. He's real gentle. He would never treat me like Sin just did you."

"You're right Drift. Esty would never do things like that to you. He is indeed a gentleman." Matt eyes flickered to the kid's hands, noting rows of small half moon scars and shook his head smiling to himself, then looked back up at Drift's face. "You've got yourself quite a catch."

Drift sighed. "You had him first."

Matt laughed. "You're jealous."

"Yes, actually I am. I mean, this is the first real relationship I've ever been in. Ever. I've never even had a steady girlfriend. I just never wanted girls around me much, you know? It bothers me to know Esty would rather be with you than me."

"It's not that Drift. He just hasn't finished letting go yet. I think he will after this though. Don't worry, it won't be long before Estaban is just as hung up on you as you are on him."

"I'm not hung up on Estaban," Drift said a little defensively. "That makes it sound like a temporary infatuation. It's more than that. I love him."

Matt almost laughed but stopped himself, realizing that the kid really meant it. He didn't know if it was just puppy love or if the kid was confusing gratefulness with love or if maybe the kid really did love Estaban. Who was he to judge? He certainly could not categorize his feelings for Sin. Was it love for him as well? Matt didn't know. If it was love it was like none he had ever felt before. For now he was most comfortable just calling it need. He knew he needed Sin, needed him day and night. Matt finished his drink and set the glass aside, picked up his pistol and returned it to his waistband where he normally carried it now.

"Have you told Estaban how you feel?" Matt asked Drift.


"Why not?"

"He might laugh at me, or think it's just a crush. It's not just a crush. I had a crush on Sin for a long time but I've always known that Sin was not my type, that even if I came out and admitted to myself that I was gay that I would never go after Sin. He's too violent, too rough. Estaban though is perfect. He's so...wonderful. He doesn't nag me about my drug problem at all. He just helps me home and puts me to bed. I've been feeling so bad about it that I've actually been clean for three days. Now, I know that doesn't sound like much to you but it's the longest I've been clean in over a year. And I'm clean because I want to be, that's what's cool about it. The last time I was clean it was only because I was out of money. See, I know Estaban is good for me. He takes care of me. He's really special and I love him."

Matt was moved by this speech. He rose and went to sit by Drift on the couch, rubbing the bald head with his large palm. He leaned in and kissed the boy on the forehead. "Don't worry, Estaban knows a good thing when he sees it and he doesn't let go easily. You are a good thing and he'll keep you safe. You do need to tell him how you feel though. It's only fair. He may think he's protecting you by keeping you at arm's length. If you tell him how you feel you may find that he's fonder of you then he's letting on."

* * * *

"So," Estaban said venomously when Sin entered the bedroom, "you want to rub it in more, is that it?"

"No. I want to thank you Esty. I admit that I was just fucking with Matt's head but he turned it around on me. He's serious and I, well, I need someone in my life right now, someone like Matt who knows about my violent side and responds accordingly. He's not really scared of me Esty. He's not scared and he won't run. He knows me enough to take my violence and bend with it, not break. That means something to me." Sin smiled, almost greedily. "He'll let me use him as I wish, but he makes it fun."

Estaban snarled and slapped Sin's face. Sin's eyes narrowed dangerously, knowing that if Estaban had wanted to hurt him he would have punched him or kicked him, but to slap him was only a step removed from spitting in his face. Sin's fists clenched but he took a deep breath and stepped back. "I guess I deserved that."

Estaban spun away, hiding his pain and frustration. "I wasn't scared of you either Sin. I wouldn't run or break but still you dumped me like yesterday's news. Why? If that's all you were looking for then why wasn't I the one?"

Sin shook his head. "For one you didn't really enjoy it Esty, it's not your style to enjoy the kind of pain I like to inflict. And you were too experienced. That intimidated me a little. I always wondered who you were comparing me to. With Matt I know who."

Estaban's eyes flared again. "Me! And you feel there's no competition, huh?" Estaban sounded more than bitter, more than hurt.

"No! That's not what I meant! It's not that at all. You are certainly viable competition. Shit Esty, you flat stole him from me. No, it's just that I know your style and I know mine. Matt wants me, he needs my...I don't know, dominance of him maybe. He says he wants to stay with me and he's proven that. Much to my surprise he's proven it."

Estaban sighed. "You always win, Sin. Always."

"No, I always lose. This is new for me, a victory at last. I fight too hard Estaban. I fight until I forget what I was fighting for to start with, I lose sight of the prize. When I realize it I find the prize has long since fled, or has been stolen, or killed. Not this time. I want this. You can't imagine how much I want this. I need him Esty."

"I know you do. Congratulations Sin. I hope you find some happiness, at least until you tire of him and leave him bleeding." Estaban turned and headed for the door.

"It won't be like that this time. I can feel it. This is special."

"And it wasn't special for me Sin? You don't think my feelings matter a bit do you? How do you think I felt out there? Watching that? You knew I was falling in love with him Sin! You knew it! And who did you call to come watch you conquer him? Me! Me again! Always you grind me under your heel Sin! Always! And still I come when you call. Why? Why do I do it?" Estaban's voice broke on a sob and Sin went to him, putting his arms around him and letting Estaban cry against his chest. Sin's hands smoothed up and down Esty's back, his voice rumbling soothing words that didn't seem to help a bit. Estaban was right and Sin knew it. He had never been gentle with Estaban, not physically or emotionally, he just walked on him, wiped his feet on him, and kept going. And Estaban had taken it all, even after Sin had forced him to violence, something Estaban truly despised, even then Estaban had come to see Sin in the hospital, to sit with him through those long nights of pain after Samson had shot him.

"Oh God Estaban, don't you know? Don't you know how you frightened me? Sometimes I only wanted to hold you like this, hold you in tenderness forever and that's not me. You made me feel I was losing myself, a part of me that has defined who I am for so long. How could I go on hurting you and abusing you when all you wanted was love and I had none to give? Don't you understand now? Don't you see that Matt asks no tenderness from me and gets very little? He doesn't need it that way, he has a violent soul, a mirror of mine and we crash into each other like magnets drawn against any visible will. Esty, I have always respected you, I have always loved you in my own way. But I am not for you, and neither is Matt. We would eventually destroy you."

Estaban lifted his face and saw the truth of all Sin's words in his eyes. He knew Sin had a love for him, always had known it deep inside and it was that knowledge that had kept Estaban from hating him, from despising the very thought of him. But Sin was right, he was a destructive force that would have crushed him, and so was Matt. "But I have missed you Sin, truly missed you. I can't ever forget what it was like to be with you, I'm haunted by it. And now Matt haunts me too."

Sin lowered his head and placed his lips on Estaban's, kissing him hard, kissing him deeply, like in the days when he had tried so hard make Estaban bend to his will only to find that Estaban would bend willingly to him, gently, no matter Sin's need for violence. He plundered Estaban's mouth desperately now, searching for forgiveness, searching for acceptance, searching for the love he knew Estaban had for him, and he found it all in Estaban's response, his soft moan, his gentle fingertips on Sin's cheek. Finally Sin set him away, raising his head reluctantly, the final kiss between them finished now.

"I owe you for want I did to you today Estaban. It is a debt that will hang around my neck until you come to collect it from me. Anything you want that I can give is yours."

"I wanted Matt," Estaban said sadly.

"No, Esty, you didn't, not really. How many times has Matt hurt you like I would have done? Not necessarily in body but in spirit? How many times?"

Estaban's eyes darkened, seeing in his mind's eye the day he had walked in and found Matt fucking Retana, boldly fucking her right there in his own bar, on his own card table. God how that had hurt! And then when he had found out about Drift, that Matt had paid some poor kid off the street to ease his pain over Sin instead of turning to Estaban, who would have gladly given all of himself to salve the wound. Sin was right, Matt had hurt him, several times, and the pain was a mirror image of all the wounds that Sin had inflicted, boiling festering wounds inside that now needed to be allowed to heal. That now needed to be forgiven and forgotten. Estaban leaned into Sin's embrace once more, inhaling that lustful scent that was Sin. Sin's arms tightened around him, sensing his release of hope, sensing his pain and his need of for comfort. At last Estaban pulled away but his gaze was raw and tormented and Sin knew he still had many feeling to conquer and put aside. He wasn't ready to admit yet what his soul had just accepted.

"I have to tell you Sin that if you throw him away, if Matt becomes just a toy to you to break and discard then I will be there to pick him up."

Sin looked at him sadly but said nothing more. He knew Matt would never be true to Estaban, no matter what the circumstances. They were oil and water and would never blend. "Come on Esty," Sin said gently and opened the door to steer him out into the hallway and toward the living room. Estaban ached inwardly but he knew Drift was out there, Drift who would offer him comfort and love and adoration. He knew the kid was falling for him, but he doubted it would last long. Nothing ever seemed to last long for Estaban, no matter how much he desired it or tried to cling to it. His gaze fell on Matt and Drift sitting on the couch, Matt's hand on Drift's head, speaking softly to him. They looked connected, like they both shared a new secret and Estaban scowled. He wanted to scream at them, to slap both their faces. Matt looked up, saw his expression and snatched his hand away from Drift.

"Oh Esty," Matt sighed, "please don't look at me like that. I don't want you pissed at me. I'm so sorry all this has happened this way."

"I'm not pissed," Estaban said quietly, his eyes going to Drift's face and seeing how the boy's eyes lit up at the sight of him and Estaban felt a little better, a little calmer. "I just want to go home. Come on Drift, are you ready?"

Drift nodded eagerly and bounced up off the couch, crossing to Estaban with smile.

"Can I walk down with you?" Matt asked as they rose from the couch, thinking maybe to question Estaban about his talk with Sin. But Sin said "I'll come too," and they all left the apartment together, all feeling a little scalded inside, raw and burned but more affirmed in who they were and where they belonged.

As they filed down the long and exhausting stair ways Drift suddenly laughed boyishly. "God, we're a real troupe of weirdoes, you know? Thing is, I feel like I've found a family, one that doesn't hate me, one that loves me for just being me."

"We do love you kid," Matt said, rubbing the bald head and this time Estaban did not feel threatened by the easy camaraderie between Matt and Drift. He knew Drift preferred him over Matt, Drift had told Estaban that many times and his eyes never lit up the way they did for Estaban when he looked at Matt or Sin.

"Yeah?" Drift asked.

"Sure," Sin agreed, "you're part of the crew now."

Estaban said nothing but he took Drift's hand and Drift smiled over at him, his eyes so full of warmth. "It's nice to have a home but I still think it's weird. Good weird, you know?"

They laughed along with him and entered into the lobby. Sin was the first to push out of the glass doors, looking back at Matt as he did so. Matt though had spotted the cab out front in the street, had caught a glimpse of red hair as Trish climbed from the taxi and he hung back in the shadows. This was going to be an uncomfortable scene and he wasn't quite ready to face it. He saw Sin turn to follow his gaze even as he stepped past the door with Estaban on his heels. Trish saw Sin step from the building and ran to meet him. She did not see Matt lingering inside, in the background.

"Michael! Guess what? You'll never believe it! I won a thousand bucks off Rock-Away FM! I just called in when they said to and I got through! I was the tenth caller and won a grand!" She jumped up into Sin's arms, wrapping her legs around his waist. Sin hugged her awkwardly then put her down on her feet. "Michael, is something wrong?" she asked, staring up into his eyes. Suddenly there was a loud crack and Trish seemed to jerk in Sin's arms in the same instant. Sin seemed as stunned and confused as Trish looked, neither of them comprehending what had happened. Matt though had caught sight of the gunman across the street in the second that he had fired and knew immediately that Trish was hit. He nearly bowled Drift over trying to reach her, thoughts for his own safety never entering his head. By then she was melting in Sin's arms, her legs sagging beneath her as he stared down at her, horrified by the look in her eyes.

"Where are you hit? Trish? Talk to me! Where are you hurt?" Matt demanded as he helped Sin ease her down onto the pavement.

"Matt?" Trish whispered, her eyes meeting his. She stared at him speechlessly then her eyes seemed to lose light, slowly fading, looking off into the distance. "I still love you Matt," she breathed, then she was gone. Just like that. It had taken seconds but it suddenly seemed that they were frozen in eternity, time stretching forever past and future. Matt and Sin looked at each other in horror. Suddenly they were aware of Estaban and Drift running out into the street, the gunman already disappearing down the block even as they gave chase. Matt leapt up and went after them, his long legged strides slowly gaining on them and the gunman. Sin was left kneeling on the sidewalk cradling a corpse.

* * * *

Estaban was closest to the gunman and definitely gaining on him, his small fleet size giving him the advantage of speed over the gunman's large bulky lumbering gait. Drift was close behind Esty and Matt was doing his damnedest to catch up. The gunman crossed the road, dodging traffic and all three followed without slowing. Estaban weaved easily through oncoming traffic but Drift was nearly run down and Matt put on even more speed to reach him. Finally he was running with Drift, both of them pulling in great gasps of air as they charged after Estaban and the murderer. The gunman dodged down an alley, Estaban right on his heels. Matt and Drift lost sight of them for a moment, then turned into the alley themselves in time to see Estaban launch himself at the man's legs and bring him down. They rolled across the dirty pavement, struggling. Matt reached them first and threw himself at the gunman, grappling for the weapon in the man's hand and finally wresting it away. Between the three of them they finally got the man subdued, each drawing their own guns and training them on the assailant's head.

"Who are you?" Estaban demanded, his pistol pressed under the man's left ear.

"Fuck you spic." The man looked like he was going to spit on Estaban but Drift placed the muzzle of his small gun against the man's lips. Matt stood off a little to the side but the 9mm that Sin had given him was in his hand.

"Who are you?" Estaban asked again.

"Ted Jackson," the man spat out, knowing that all of the identification he carried was fake and that the name was worthless information.

"Why did you shoot that girl?" Estaban demanded.

"I was paid to take her out. I was told to do it while she was with a man with a black ponytail, that it was a low risk job. That was obviously a lie."

"Who paid you?" Matt asked.

"I have no idea what their name was," Jackson answered shrugging as if he didn't have a care in the world and didn't notice three guns staring at him.

"McKenna," Matt said coldly. Jackson flinched.

"I don't know, could be."

"Was it McKenna? This means your life, you fuck, so answer the question. You're just a hired lackey, a worthless fuck. I want the man behind the money. I used to date that girl and she meant a lot to me. Now, was it McKenna that hired you?"

Jackson looked up at Matt's face, hesitated then nodded. "Yeah, I think so. I never saw the guy, he sent some woman with the money, but I heard that name mentioned somewhere along the way."

"So you have no direct ties with him, could not tell me where he's at?" Matt asked coldly.

"No. I don't know where he's at. I only know the woman said she'd get more money to me when the job was done. She said she'd contact me when she was sure it was done."

"What proof did she ask for?"

"She didn't ask for any. She said she would just know. I don't know how to find her."

"Move back Estaban. Drift you go back to the apartment. Act like you live there and don't linger on the sidewalk, it will be crawling with cops. Go. Now. Don't look back." Matt's face was dark, cold.

"What are you going to do?" Drift asked nervously.

"Just go kid, go now!" Matt shouted and Drift went. People passing the alley didn't look down it and if they did they pretended not to see men with guns. Estaban slowly backed away from Jackson, his gun steady in his hand, pointed at the man's head.

"Think this over Matt," Estaban said softly, soothingly, glancing over at him with worried eyes. "Let's not be too hasty."

Jackson seemed to realize that his life was now very much in danger. Before he thought these guys were pussies, just going to rough him up a little then run crying to the cops, cops that would just turn him back over to the boss and pretend to have no evidence, but now he could see there would be no cops. He closed his eyes, swallowed loudly and pissed himself. Matt thought of Trish's eyes, of her last words. He took careful aim, bared his teeth and pulled the trigger. The bullet took Jackson between the eyes. His body crumpled to the pavement.

"Well," Estaban muttered, reaching for his cell phone. "I can't say I blame you but this is one hell of a mess."