The following is a complete work of fiction.


This is my first City of Heroes Fan Fiction. If you are not a person who knows the City of Heroes MMPRPG, some of this story may not make sense. However, like my X-Universe Fan Fictions, I have written enough background into the story that I believe it is accessible to anyone who likes science fiction and comic book worlds.


The following story may contain erotic situations between consenting adults. If it is illegal for you to read this please leave now.

Any resemblance between the characters and any real life person is completely coincidental. Please do not copy or distribute the story without the author's permission.

The characters, places and world of this story are the exclusive property of their original authors, publishers and production companies. No assumption of copyright has been made in this work.

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City of Heroes - Book 1

Awakenings - Chapter 13

I sat at the debriefing table, stunned. Dal Shannara was congratulating me and the others were nodding in agreement with his words. I didn't hear them. I just sat there, staring at Urioch, and felt like the world was either going to cave in or explode.

Brawler stood there, looking at me from the head of the table, waiting. Finally, he looked at Urioch. "Is he alright?"

Urioch broke my gaze and nodded. "Yes. He is still under the effects of BioTech's mutation."

Brawler snorted. "Heard about that. Nasty." He eyed me. "Level Seven clearance or not, Death's Head, you're grounded for the next forty-eight hours. I don't want you to spend your first days of independent heroing falling on your face."

"Yes, sir," I mumbled. I couldn't make up my mind if I wanted to do a victory dance or cry. What did it mean? I was independent. I no longer required mentoring. I had clearance to work on special missions and task forces. I wasn't Urioch's sidekick any longer.

Marauder laughed. "Come on, kid. You know you aren't going to get out of this without a major cut loose party!" He'd been sitting next to Urioch during debriefing.

"Yeah, sure, whatever." I left the conference room still feeling a bit dazed.

"Pocket. Nine!" Marauder called out to us.

Everyone else was ready to cut loose. It had been a touch and go mission, but we'd all come out alive and intact. Well, BioTech was missing a leg, but she confirmed that she would be at Pocket D as well.

"Why would a robot go to a bar," I asked Urioch as we stepped outside and I lifted into the air.

"It is common practice to unwind and spend non-hero social time with your teammates, Jason." He flew up beside me as I oriented on the apartment. "You should not be flying."

I snorted. "You're shadowing so close that even if I get dizzy, you'll have me before I could drop." I also didn't want to spend any more time in his arms. Between the power boost, the vertigo, and the memory of the emotional ping pong I'd had with Marauder, I really didn't feel up to hiding anything. I'd caught myself practically nuzzling him on the flight to Freedom Corps; that shit had to stop. I slid the door open with my thoughts before we landed on the balcony.

"I am certain that if you are not feeling up to the gathering, the team will understand."

Before I could answer, my communicator went off. I clicked receive. "Hello?"

"I don't want to hear that you're skipping a night out, Jason." Demonicalle sounded too pleased with herself. I supposed she had every right to be pleased. One of her kids had grown up. "If you aren't at Pocket D by Nine-thirty, I'm hunting your queer ass down."

"Yes, Mom. I'll be there." I hung up and looked at Urioch. "So much for bowing it off. Her Horned Majesty has demanded my presence in court."

"Then we will need to change and eat." He walked into the kitchen and flicked on the light. "I will prepare something light. You take your shower."

"Yes, Dad," I grumbled. It was going to be a very long night.

I looked at my communicator when I got out of the shower. I knew I was tired, because I walked into the living room just wearing my towel while holding up the box. I wasn't Urioch; I wasn't comfortable with public exposure. "Three calls. I bet they're from Blaize, Impulse and Tar Patch." I frowned. "Demonicalle isn't playing fair."

"You do have a tendency to spend time in quiet settings with limited social interaction." Urioch set a salad on the table. "Demonicalle is probably trying to overcome that tendency for an evening."

I sighed, sitting down to eat my greens. I didn't even care that my towel was in danger of slipping off. "I don't do stupid things when I'm in small, quiet settings." Urioch raised an eyebrow at me, and I shrugged. "Never mind."

"I will shower and change."

"Knock yourself out." God I wanted to take a nap.

Mutation effects or not, once we entered Pocket D and the energy of the people around us began to filter into me, I started feeling a little more alive. Just because I was no longer required to have a partner didn't mean I couldn't have one. Lots of heroes worked as partners or in small teams. Demonicalle strode from the bar to greet us. She was in some black, spider web laced outfit that clung to her in ways that couldn't have been described as anything but sinful. She kissed me on the cheek and gave me a tight hug.

"I am so proud of you." Her smile was all fangs and warmth.

"Gee, I didn't know reaching level seven would cause such a stir," I joked, knowing full well I was full of shit. Level seven was a gateway point in a hero's career.

She laughed. "Not for that, stupid." Taking my arm, she pulled me toward the dance floor. "For being brave enough to come within my grasp."

"Oh, no"

"Oh, yes. Your lily white ass is going to learn to move."

Something about the emotions and energy of a dance floor full of people was intoxicating. I had no idea how long I'd danced. I danced with Demonicalle, Impulse, Tesla Witch, and Impulse and Blaize, which was an unique experience. Impulse ended up sandwiched between us and enjoyed every moment of it. We had just finished our three person sandwich on the dance floor when I turned to face a very familiar wall of muscle. Marauder smiled at me.

"May I cut in?" It was a question, but he already had his hand at my low back and was guiding us to the slower tribal beat of the new song.

"Uhm..." Yeah, I was really chatty when in the arms of big, buff, sexually dominant men.

"I apologize, kid." He nodded his head at Demonicalle, who was in conversation with BioTech. "Calle and I've had some problems, and I took it out on you."

"That's big of you," I mumbled, trying not to admit that it really felt nice to dance with him again.

"Would I be any bigger if I admitted I'd rather have gone home with you that night?" I blinked at him as his hand slid a little lower, resting on my ass. He continued to grind against me, slowly. "I was hornier than hell, and you'd made it clear we weren't going there."

"Thanks for the ego booster, Marauder." I slid back a little so he couldn't distract me with the feeling of all that muscle against me. "We still aren't going there."

He stood there, not letting go, and sighed. "Fuck. After this afternoon..."

I shrugged. "Blame the empathy. I just can't bring myself to put out for sex alone. Not your fault." He was an arrogant jerk, sometimes, but on the whole I still felt Marauder was a good guy. "If I wasn't stuck with the emotional stuff... I'd definitely go for it."

His smile was dazzling. "Thanks, kid."

"Why don't you go hunt up some company for the night, Marauder. In the future, I'll be happy to have you covering my ass. You just aren't going to get it."

He laughed, letting go. "Can't blame me for trying. I still agree with Demonicalle. Yours is definitely worth getting."

I smiled as he walked off. At least I hadn't made an enemy. Urioch touched my shoulder as I let out a slow breath. "Is everything alright?"

"Yeah." All I wanted to do was lean in. After turning down one of the hottest guys at the club for the second time, I wondered if I was being too picky.

"Are you tired of dancing?"

I grinned. "Tired, yes. Of dancing, no."

"Good." Urioch stepped around me. "Would you care to dance?"

The music had slipped into the one-in-ten slow songs. I blinked. "Dance?" Where had my brain gone? I stood there, stupefied.

"We have never danced, Jason. You appear to enjoy it." His hand slid behind my back and before I could figure out what was going on, we were moving slowly to the music. Our dancing wasn't smooth, or even graceful. I just rocked, trying not to sink in against him, and wondered why God was torturing me.

Urioch leaned in, brought his cheek to my head, and gently pulled me closer. I melted. Unfortunately, it wasn't his presence, the romance of the moment, or the dancing that took the strength from my knees. I woke up on one of the couches between the dance floors, Urioch sitting beside me and telling me to drink what he had in his hand. I sipped the water, and groaned. "What happened?"

"Side effects," BioTech answered, scanning me as she talked. "Your vital signs are stable again."

Demonicalle leaned over the couch and mussed my hair. "And here I was thinking you'd swooned."

"Fuck you, Calle," I grumbled. It was bad enough to get dizzy. Fainting was worse. Fainting in the arms of the guy I loved was hell.

"If only," she laughed. "When you're up to it, there are a half dozen suitors wanting a dance." She wandered off, picking another partner for a good time on the floor.

I looked at Urioch. "Sorry." He was about to open his mouth, and I groaned. "I know, I know... that's what? Something over Five hundred?"

"Four hundred and twelve." I dropped my face into my hands and he rubbed the back of my neck. It helped. "That was not what I was going to say."

"Oh," I mumbled, not wanting him to stop rubbing. "What were you going to say?"

"Only that you have nothing to apologize for." I sat up, and he looked at me. "I am proud of you, Jason."

I smiled. "I'm not a total fuck up?" I continued before he could object. "It was a joke." Looking back at my hands, I added. "It means a lot to me."

"What do you want now?" His voice was soft, close, soothing.

I still flinched, but I was too tired to try to come up with something creative. "I just want things to stay the way they are." I looked at him. "All my bitchiness aside, I don't want another partner."

Our faces were so close. I could feel his breath. "What do you really want, Jason?"

Fuck. I just couldn't keep fighting it many more. I closed my eyes, hoping I wasn't fucking up the friendship, and sighed, "You."

Those fingers at the back of my neck pressed in, ever so gently, and I went with them. The only man I'd ever kissed had just wanted sex. As I surrendered this time, I knew Urioch wanted more than sex. I moaned as he tasted me, his hands gripping my head, and his breath coming more rapidly. It was like we'd spilled fuel all over the place and finally, someone had lit a match. I moved to his neck as he released his death grip on my skull. "I love you so fucking much," I whispered into his neck as I nuzzled.

"I know."

I pulled back. "How long?"

"Since November. The first time you said it was in the warehouse after we fought the Vahzalok."

"I don't remember saying it. I did?" I'd felt it, of course, but I thought I'd kept my big mouth shut.

He nodded. "You said it again while you were sleeping in February. And you said it a third time the night you gave me the book of poetry about friendship."

Suddenly I wasn't feeling so safe. If he'd known, why did he torture me for so long? "Why now?"

He stroked my cheek. It reminded me of our first walk to Cauldron. The look was the same. The touch was the same. This time, I got it. "Now I can." He cupped my cheek, his fingers laced in my hair behind my ear. "It would have been unfair to you to ask for anything other than friendship when I controlled your progress in Freedom Corps."

Handsome, honest, sincere, gentle, dedicated, loving, heroic, beautiful and a gentleman; Urioch was everything. I couldn't believe he was sitting there, caressing my face, making it pretty damn clear that he was interested in more than friendship. I leaned in, sought out his lips, and started a kiss that didn't end until Demonicalle coughed.

"Okay, guys, you're making the Pinks swoon." I followed her gaze and a couple of swishers were smiling and fanning themselves with the bar napkins while rooting us on.

I didn't want an audience, but I also didn't want to stop. Nearly a year of self-inflicted torture had left me at the point of desperation. I nuzzled Urioch's neck, finding to my delight that I could elicit a moan from him by doing it. "Take me home."

We didn't even bother saying goodbye. We were barely inside the apartment when I was back in his arms and making out like men possessed. I got his shirt off, and rubbed my cheek against his furry chest. I wished he had nipples to chew on, but at that point he could have been a bronze statue and I'd still have been going at it. Somehow we managed to make it to the bedroom without breaking our kiss. My shirt had been button down, so that was gone before we got to the bedroom door. I rubbed my palm against a long, thick, pulsing muscle that I'd never seen at full attention. I wanted to see it. I got his pants undone and his tool into my hand while we kissed. He groaned into my mouth as I squeezed him. We were tipping back, at least I thought we were for a moment, and then I realized that there was no reason for Urioch to be slowly rotating us.

"Not now," I whined into his mouth, feeling the vertigo hit full force.

Urioch laid me gently on the bed stroking my face as I started slipping away.

"I'm sorry," I mumbled. This time I was pretty sure I was done for the night.

Urioch chuckled, leaned close and chewed on my ear. "Four hundred and thirteen."

I didn't remember anything after that.

I woke to the smell of something wonderful coming from the kitchen. It took me a moment to realize that I was on the right side of the bed and I could see the door. I was in Urioch's room. Looking down, I saw that I was still in my briefs, but the rest of my clothes were folded neatly on the dresser. Fuck. Had last night really happened? Had I actually fallen asleep on him? I rolled over, staring at the ceiling. "I'm such a loser."

Urioch smiled at me as I wandered out of the bedroom. "Good morning, Jason."

"Morning," I answered, watching as he poured some batter into the griddle and closed the lid. "Waffles?"

"You like waffles." I liked the play of the muscles of his back more. God. I wanted to go over and wrap myself around him and never let go.

I hadn't realized I'd been staring until he walked over and touched my face. "What are you thinking?"

"That I want to kiss you again," I swallowed, ready for the other shoe to drop.

He bent down, captured my lips with his, and pulled me into his arms as I moaned. My briefs went from loose to straining in three kisses flat. He was only wearing boxers, and I was in heaven. He pulled back a little, and smiled. "Good morning, again."

He set me down and tended to the waffles as I tried to decide if I should stand there, tenting my briefs, or if I should go put something on. "I can't believe I passed out." Okay, not the best opening line, but I really wanted to make sure he wasn't upset.

He smiled. "I have waited a long time to tell you it was safe to be honest, Jason. Holding you last night was enough."

"You said that... back in November. You said I was safe." I frowned. "That's when I'd said it wasn't it."

He nodded. "Your exact words were: It hurts so much to love you."

It had too. Even after the love part had gotten easy, the lonely ache hadn't gone away. "It stopped hurting a while back."

"It was difficult to remain quiet when I saw you struggling with how you felt." He flipped the golden brown waffle onto a plate and poured another ladle of batter into the griddle and closed the lid. "February was particularly difficult. Body heat is shared more efficiently with fewer layers between the bedmates."

I laughed, and Urioch looked at me until I explained. "Janet used that line on Blaize back in February. I think he's going to propose soon."

"Clever woman," Urioch chuckled, "I am happy for them."

I tilted my head to the side. "Would that have worked?"

"Would what have worked, Jason?" He checked the waffle and left it in another half a minute.

"If I suggested that we would be warmer if we had sex?"

He grinned and shook his head. "No. The suggestion to sleep with minimal clothing would have been difficult enough."

I fidgeted a little as he set the plates on the table. "So... are we still partners?"

"Officially, no. The Mentor-sidekick commitment ends when the younger hero attains level seven clearance."

My heart sank, and I sat down. "Oh."

"Jason?" I looked up at him. "I did not say I wanted to end our partnership. I simply stated that at present, within Freedom Corps, we are two independent heroes."

Taking a slice of butter I let it melt on the waffle. I nodded, feeling a little relieved. "I guess it just feels weird."

Passing me the syrup, Urioch's fingers lingered against mine for a moment before letting me take the bottle. "I would not have expressed my feelings, Jason, if I wanted anything other than to remain partners."

Okay, I was relieved. "So, where do we go from here?"

He cut his waffle, chewed quietly, and then answered me. "If you want, we can go to Freedom Corps and update our registration from Mentor-sidekick to partner. I am told it is a simple matter of paperwork."

I smiled. "And what about personally."

He smiled back. "I think you asked if there was anything wrong with dating someone before having sex with him."

"You said there wasn't."

He raised an eyebrow at me as he took another bite of his breakfast and chewed. Dating? That was going to be different.

Lenny shook his head as I finished my last rep. "You guys are dating?"

I nodded, getting off the bench so he could have his turn. He dropped the weight to ninety pounds and got on the bench.

"Yeah. A week now."

"So you live together, sleep together, and date." He grunted out his set. "No sex?"

I shrugged. Honestly, I was torn. I wanted it, but there were some things I wasn't sure I was ready to face. Not the least of my concerns was that Urioch was proportional, everywhere. He might have been average for his people, if he could have remembered his people, but for a human he was huge. Not that I was under developed myself, but that wasn't the point. The way he snuggled in against me in bed made it pretty clear he wanted something I wasn't sure I could give him. It wasn't even that I didn't want to. "We're taking it slow. I think we both want to make sure more intimacy works before we fuck like rabbits."

"You are the slowest moving gay guys I've ever heard of." He grunted through another set.

"Urioch isn't gay." Why the hell did I say that?

Lenny looked at me. "He's dating you and sleeping with you. What about that makes him 'straight'?"

I shifted on from foot to foot, not meeting his eyes. "Well, I know he likes women too. At best he's bisexual."

Lenny laughed. "From what I've heard, bi guys move the fastest. They'll fuck anything that will let them."

"Urioch is more controlled than that."

"Obviously," he observed, finishing his set. "Showers?"


We got our showers, and I lingered a little after Lenny got out. Something didn't' feel right. I had an unsettled sensation that wouldn't go away. I toweled myself off quickly, wrapped it around me, and got back into the locker room. Lenny was tying his shoes.

"So, Jason, we're still on for a get together at the Cauldron tomorrow?" He stood up, tucking his towel in his bag and raised his eyebrows. Lenny was kind of cute, for a short, skinny Jewish guy with a big nose.

"Yeah, at seven." I held up my fist.

He bumped fists with me. "See you there."

Lenny hadn't been gone longer than a minute when the uncomfortable sensation became much more pronounced. I looked around, and saw a guy, about six foot two, leaning against the lockers. "Jason?"

I froze. It took me a moment to find my voice. "Craig?"

He smiled. It was more amused than friendly, though it wasn't downright hostile. "I never expected to see you again."

I wished he hadn't. I tightened my towel, wishing I'd dressed with Lenny and left. "We don't always get what we want," I replied, reaching for my bag.

He sauntered over to the bench. He was what, twenty-two now? "I didn't recognize you with the hair and bigger body. You'd been wiry back in school." I wanted to say he had been a prick back in school, but I kept quiet. He reached out, caught my nipple between his thumb and forefinger, and twisted, pulling me closer as I gasped. "You still as itchy as ever?"

I slapped his hand away and stepped back. "Not for anything you could give me." I was shaking.

"Oh, I think I could still scratch that itch." My back was against the lockers as he pushed in, gripped the front of my towel, and squeezed my fear-filled cock. I flinched, but the damn thing responded. "You're still just a hungry little hole needing to be filled."

"Leave me alone, Craig." I swallowed, trying to keep the wavering out of my voice. "I'm not a scared teen anymore."

His hand was stroking me through the towel, causing me to gasp at how roughly he tugged on me. I wasn't hard, but I was nowhere close to soft. "No, you're a scared, muscle-fag who needs to be reminded what he's good for."

"Hey, Jason." My attention snapped from Craig's eyes, presence, and invasive hand, to Lenny as he wandered back in examining his bag as he talked. "Did I leave my communicator on the ..." He looked up and his eyes nearly popped out.

I met his gaze. I didn't know what he saw in my eyes, but he clenched his jaw and put down his bag. "What's going on?"

Craig snarled at Lenny without even looking at him. "Get out of here, shrimp. The real men are having a discussion."

The darkness began leaking out of him as his temper rose. Lenny's size was not one of the things you pointed out. It was just a bad thing to do. "I don't think he's listening to what you have to say, asshole."

Craig turned to spit something out at Lenny, and saw the dark miasma rising. "Holy shit!" He let go of me and stepped back. "You want him, you got him. No problem. Just leave me out of this."

"Fuck off." When his voice was touched by darkness, Lenny was one scary man. Craig ran.

I closed my eyes, clenched my jaw, and began banging the back of my head on the lockers. I was such a fucking wimp.

"Hey. Hey!" Lenny grabbed my head to stop me from beating some sense into it. "What's going on? Who was that?"

Who was Craig? He hadn't been a boyfriend. My ex-bully? The guy who used to intimidate me into giving him blow jobs in the school bathroom? The guy who threatened to tell the wrestling team I was gay? The guy who fucked me, after every one of his dates, telling me how many girls wanted him? The guy who told me that he was straight and I was gay because he was the one doing the fucking? "A bad memory," I mumbled, grabbing my underwear and pulling it on. I had my clothes on in less than a minute.


I picked up my bag and spotted Lenny's communicator on the bench under it. "Here." I handed it to him.

"Jason, wait."

"Thanks for being here, Lenny." I had to get out of there. The walls felt like they were closing in. "I've got to go."

I ran out of the gym and off campus as fast as my feet could carry me. I should have flown, but flying was something Capes did. Capes were heroes. I wasn't a hero. I was a scared little fifteen year old, back in the school gym, keeping quiet, fighting the tears while captain of the junior varsity team tore me up. I let him do anything he wanted, just to keep him from telling everyone I was a fag. Mom and Dad weren't home when I got there, hurting and confused. There had been another emergency. They were helping some poor unfortunate souls who needed them. I spent the night curled up on my bed crying myself asleep, wishing they loved me enough to help me too.

I caught up with myself in Promenade Park. It wasn't the best place to wander around alone. Of course, I hadn't worried about that as a Skull. The Skulls owned the park. I looked around, trying to remember where the closest tram station was. I hadn't been in the park for a while.

"Hey, whitey." I turned around and saw a skull bruiser, along with a slicer and a couple guys with guns, smiling at me. "You didn't pay Park Tax."

Face paint, gang jackets, hand weapons, these guys weren't more than friskers who stole wallets from scared normals. I wasn't normal, and I wasn't anything close to scared. I smiled, setting my gym bag on the ground, and lifted my hands. "Oh, please, not the Park Tax."

The bruiser back handed me. I didn't even try to stop him. It hurt, but it hurt in a way I understood. It hurt in a way I could control and a way I could heal. There were other hurts, deeper ones, that I wasn't sure would ever mend. He wrapped his hand with a kerchief, and I knew he had coins in his fist. "I'm going to rearrange that pretty face of yours, smart mouth."

He swung at me again, but I just held up a finger in warning. His fist froze, he froze, and I straightened back up. The taste of blood helped focus me on where I was. It helped me remember who I was. I grinned. "You know guys; I was in a really bad mood before this. I think I'm going to enjoy myself before kicking your sorry asses."

They didn't have a prayer of stopping me. Five Skulls, after fighting Lost, Outcasts, Vahzalok, and Clockwork, weren't even enough to make me break a sweat. I cut loose. It wasn't heroic. It wasn't right. I should have simply incapacitated them and called in the incarceration units, but I didn't. I kept them from getting away while I beat each one of them in creative and vicious ways. I needed to feel in control. I wanted to feel like I was stronger than they were; better than they were. I needed to feel like a man. As they were beamed out, and I rubbed my torn up fist and bruised face, I didn't feel any better. I took to the air and went back to the only place I'd felt safe, whole, and like a person since I was fifteen. I flew home.

Urioch's smile dropped as I turned from setting my bag down near the door. I tried to keep my mood from darkening any further. "Hi, honey. My day sucked. How was yours?"

Urioch walked around the couch and ran his fingers along my cheek and jaw. I hadn't even bothered to heal myself. The real pain wouldn't go away after the bruises were gone. "What happened?"

"I stopped a mugging." I held up my hands, exposing my knuckles before stepping around him to head for the medicine cabinet. "With my bare hands."

Urioch followed as I got to the bathroom and hunted for bactine and band aids. "Jason, why haven't you healed yourself?"

"Because I don't want to," I snapped. Why was I yelling at him? I stopped, looking at myself in the mirror. I wanted to heal. The black eye, broken lip, and raw knuckles weren't the injuries that needed healing. I stood there, looking at my reflection, and all I could see was a dark haired kid who had spent an hour trying to wash himself until he was raw from scrubbing. I saw the kid who tried not to winch when he sat down. I saw a kid who tried not to walk like he hurt. It wasn't fair. The man looking at me had pure white hair, strong jaw, compassionate eyes, full lips, broad shoulders, and he shouldn't have been scared of anything. I felt so fucking small.

I lost myself in the dichotomy of what I saw and felt, until Urioch touched my cheek. Gently, he lifted my chin until he could see my eyes. "What is wrong, Jason?"

"Tell me I'm not a bad person, Urioch." Fuck. Was I ever going to do anything but cry? "Tell me this time life won't go to shit."

Pulling me from the sink, Urioch kissed me. It was soft, gentle, only feather's weight, but his lips melted the tension that had crept up my spin like the first light of spring melted the snow. "You are not a bad person, Jason," he whispered as I dropped my head to his shoulder and let his love warm me.

"I'm sorry," I mumbled, and then I grinned into his neck as he replied. I echoed him. "Four hundred and fourteen." I hadn't said I was sorry since last week.

As I looked up, Urioch stroked my cheek. "Talk to me."

"Give me a moment, okay?" He nodded, and I leaned back in. He held me as I closed my eyes and tried to believe he was there, he wouldn't be taken away, and that everything would work out. I let my power flow through us as I stopped running from the past. The most painful wounds were still there, but maybe like nightmares and lies, they wouldn't have as much power if brought into the light. I hoped so. Taking a deep breath, I pulled out of Urioch's arms and put away the band aids and disinfectant.

I walked back into the living room and leaned against the wall near the balcony door. Urioch sat down on the arm of the couch and waited. Finally, I looked at him. "Remember on my birthday, when Calle teased me about being ripe for picking?"

Urioch nodded. "You responded that she was a few years too late."

I swallowed down the fear. Craig wasn't even here and I was still scared. Maybe I was scared to admit I'd let it happen, over and over, until the Rikti turned the world upside down. "I didn't lose my virginity because I wanted to." I waited for his reaction. Rape victims were weak, revolting, not worth love... at least, that's how it'd felt. All I felt from him was sorrow, maybe a touch of grief, and a hell of a lot of love. "I kept quiet for two years, letting Craig do anything he wanted, because I was scared of being outed as a fag."

I looked away, not wanting to cry over it. That was something I had cried about, so many times, until the tears had stopped. I guessed that was when I stopped crying about anything, even my parent's deaths. Pushing off the wall, I walked out onto the balcony. The summer breeze felt warm and free against me as I looked at the street. After a minute, Urioch stepped up behind me and gently wrapped his arms around me. I leaned back, thankful I could finally enjoy his touch without being scared. I was so tired of being scared.

"What happened today?"

"I ran into Craig," I sighed, remembering the encounter like a surreal nightmare. "I always thought it was stupid, in horror movies, when the victims would just stand there, unable to move, while the monster closed in and killed them." I pulled his arms tighter around me. "That's what it was like. I'm a God Damn superhero. I can toss cars around and heal the sick." My voice rose as my frustration grew. "I can FLY. Why couldn't I tell one abusive bastard to go fuck himself?" I wiped my cheeks and wrapped my arms around his. "It was like I was fifteen again." I snorted. "I'm Out. I'm not some closeted teenager. How could just seeing him again, hearing him say the words and acting like he owned me, strip it all away?"

"I do not know," Urioch answered, pressing his cheek against my hair. "I will help, Jason, in any way I can."

"Just love me, Urioch. Some battles I have to fight on my own." I smiled. "You can't fly in and save the day forever." I'd had enough of Craig, and being a hurting teen, and feeling that my life sucked. I was a grown-up. I had the most incredible man holding me, and I wanted to enjoy that. "What do you want to do tonight?"

"I want to take you flying."

I laughed. We flew every day to do our patrols, but I knew what he meant. It was the difference between driving to work and "going for a drive." Not that I'd ever done that; I didn't even have a driver's license. "Sure. Let me get changed."

"We can get dinner out."

"Okay." I went into my room and pulled out a light pair of pants and a dark blue tee that fit like a glove. Urioch had been wearing casual black pants and a soft-blue tee shirt. At least we would coordinate. I almost laughed at how gay the thought was. And Janet said I wasn't ready for Queer-Eye?

There was something about flying, close to the man I loved, that just made the world seem right. We swooped through the parks for a couple hours before crossing into Steel Canyon and weaving our way through the monoliths of steel and glass. Urioch pulled us into a hover, wrapped his arms around me from behind, and nuzzled my neck. "Look West."

I did, and the sight took my breath away. The golden rays of the sun shimmered on glass and steel while the sky shifted to orange and red. We floated there, watching the city change colors as the sun sank. When the sky shifted to purples and indigo, and the towers began to twinkle with lights, I sighed. "That was incredible."

"It was not a sunset in the park, but I hope you liked it."

I turned around, looking at him, and toyed with the soul patch he had under his lower lip. It took me a moment for everything to click. "You started growing that after I'd mentioned I thought you'd look good with one."

He nodded. "The thought of styling my facial hair was appealing."

"This evening, that was from my imaginary personal advertisement."

He smiled, bringing his face close to mine, and whispered, "I simply desire to give you what you want, Jason."

For over a year, that was all he'd done. He changed his life, his look, and his home, all to give me what I wanted. I realized, as many times as he'd asked me the question, I'd never asked him. "What do you want, Urioch?"

Pulling me in, he kissed me until I was out of breath. I didn't have the excuse of side-effects of BioTech's mutation. I swooned. I think I even lifted my foot. "I want to make love with you, Jason," he whispered.

I whimpered as his lips found that soft spot between my neck and shoulder. He pulled back and looked into my eyes as I found my voice. "Just don't give up on me if I can't..." I wasn't scared of Urioch, but I had no idea if there was a demon lurking about in my brain that would fuck it all up just when it was getting good. With my luck, I had a whole slew of them.

"Making love," he affirmed, stroking my face before kissing me again, "is more than sex. Sex is only a very pleasant part of it, Jason."

I nodded. "I love you."

"I love you too."