Author's Note: Before we begin, I'm going to confess to all the anachronisms I put into this fic. I love history and I tried to be as accurate as possible, but a few things I fudged on purpose. First, the Garden Book Shop wasn't around then; I put it in because I was too lazy to come up with a historically relevant place out in the district for them to meet. Second, Rainbow Row didn't get its colors until the 1920's, but I love the way it looks as it exists now, so what's a couple of decades between friends, eh? Thirdly, I couldn't help myself when it came to inserting the song "House of the Rising Sun," even though that was the 60's version. I just couldn't resist. :)

2nd Author's note: Happy Valentine's Day! This chapter is like a dessert parfait, with a bunch of fluff on top, some really heavy smut in the middle and just a dollop of fluff at the end. Why? Because we all deserve nice things sometimes, that's why…:)

Epilogue:

Going over Jordan, Going over Home

1 year later...

The air was filled with the sound of musical instruments and cheering and gales of screaming laughter. The crowds gathered at the roadside, watching as several brass bands marched by in matching pinstripe suits, straw hats with colorful bandeaus tilted at impossible angles on their heads. Floats made up to look like fantastical creatures drifted by, pulled by teams of horses: Chinese dragons and sharks and giant Trojan horses. Glittery masks of green, gold, and purple were worn by all, with the anonymity they conferred pushing decent folks to blatant acts of amorous boldness out on the street. Fireworks burst overhead, whistling out a long tune as they fell like shooting stars across the sky. Streamers decorated balconies and beads lay like kudzu over the hand rails. Mardi Gras was in full swing, and folks from near and far had come to see and take part in the yearly spectacle.

Yu cursed as he made his way down Decatur, his arms filled with a Cafe du Monde bag, ducking and swerving through the crowd. He had forgotten about Mardi Gras, and had gotten caught in the thick of it while out completing his errand. His progress was slow as he moved from Decatur to Esplanade Avenue, running across the street only to nearly miss being trampled by a pair of horses in velvet harnesses. Behind him trombones screeched like angry owls and ladies in feathered masks sang, their soulful soprano song following him all the way down the avenue.

Yu ran through a full military escort in liveried battalion dress, crossing to the other side of Esplanade and into the Faubourg Marigny. He slid under the arms of couples embracing on the street, ducking down and around them until he veered off into a tiny side alley. There he stopped before a small shotgun house with four narrow columns and climbed up to its porch. The sound of fireworks and music and shouts faded off into the distance as he entered the front door.

"Oi, Mika! I'm back!"

The sound of a hammer banged once, twice, then stopped. Yu walked into a small living room to find Mika standing on top of an overstuffed chair, nailing a curtain rod up above the window. He was in rolled shirtsleeves and a pair of pinstripe pants with forgotten suspenders hanging off them. He turned around at Yu's entrance, taking a pair of nails out of his mouth. "Where have you been all morning?" he asked, jumping down from the chair.

"I went to the Cafe du Monde to get your favorite-powdered sugar beignets. But I forgot it was Mardi Gras and the streets are kind of a nightmare right now. Damn near impassable. We got couples in cat masks practically making out on our doorstep," Yu complained, taking out a beignet and biting into it.

Mika walked over to him and reached into the bag. He pulled out a pastry and lifted an eyebrow. "There's just one and a half left?"

Yu stood there looking sheepish. "Um, yey, they sorta...uh...cannibalized themselves on the way here."

Mika's eyebrow shot up again. "You're saying the beignets ate each other on their way over here? You do know what the word cannibalize means, right?" He reached out a finger, swiping it across Yu's nose. "You got powdered sugar on your face, by the way."

Yu grinned, ducking his head. "Busted," he muttered under his breath. He threw himself down in the chair that Mika had been standing on, licking powdered sugar off his fingers. "So what have you been doing this morning?"

"Nailing up curtain rods," said Mika, gesturing with the hammer. Yu looked above the window, staring blankly, as if he had never considered the possibility of needing curtains before. "And when I'm done here," continued Mika, "then I'm going to go over to the other two houses and do some more remodeling there. We need to prep for tenants and fast. I was going to go to the paper today and place an advertisement, but that can wait until after this damn parade is over."

Yu turned his head, staring up again. "Do we need curtains?" he asked, perplexed.

Mika patted his head affectionately. "Do we need curtains, he asks," said Mika, smiling.

"What?" said Yu defensively. "I've never had to think about such things before," he groused.

"And you don't think about them now," pointed out Mika, leaning over to kiss the top of his head affectionately. "Because you're too busy being the pretty one." Mika started to walk away, but Yu reached out and caught his hand, pulling him back.

"You know, this parade has got me thinking. Why don't we go out with the rest of the revelers tonight?"

Mika looked doubtful. "I don't know, Yu. We've only been back in town for a couple of weeks. I don't know if I want to tempt fate by promenading publicly around the quarter just yet."

"You're being too paranoid, Mika. It's been almost two years since the whole Bathory thing happened. People have moved on to bigger and more recent scandals. That's the way New Orleans works. And haven't you heard? The government is going to dismantle Storyville-"

"-oh, I've heard, alright. I saw it written in the Times-"

"-so forget about all that stuff! Let's go out! Just for tonight!" Yu begged. "It'll be fun! And hey, guess what?" And here Yu pulled a gold sequined harlequin mask from inside his jacket, placing it teasingly over his eyes.

"We'll both be completely anonymous…"


Gas lamps ringed with angel halos lit the cobbled walkways filled with late night party goers. Mardi Gras didn't stop with the sinking sun, a fact made apparent by all the rag-time bands, buskers, and lavishly costumed revelers seen out on the streets of the quarter late that evening. Sunflowers made of pure light bloomed and blossomed and disintegrated over the dark reflective waters of the Mississippi as elaborate firework displays were set alight. Street magicians performed tricks in Jackson Square and bars did a brisk business, as people were allowed to carry their booze right out in the open. People yelled at one another and laughed and danced and screamed out in perpetual delight. Under the rising red moon, Mardis Gras reached its fever pitch, with the usually restrained populace running wild in the streets.

Yu and Mika navigated the crowds, both of them dressed in matching black coats and sequined harlequin masks, the only thing marking their difference from a distance being the color of their hair. Yu was bouncing around like an excited puppy; in one hand he carried a ream of blue cotton candy, with the other he held onto Mika, pulling him by the hand over to this or that attraction in the square. He stopped to watch a pair of jugglers, his eyes going wide behind his mask as they added swords and knives and hatchets and a whole host of other dangerous objects to the mix. People clapped louder and whistled encouragement with each new deadly addition. Once he got bored with that, Yu pulled Mika across the street, headed for the always open doors of the Cafe du Monde. From beneath his mask, Mika said, "You can't possible be hungry again. How much sugar have you had today, anyway?"

Yu grinned, his green eyes shining like those of a cat behind the slanted, contoured eyes of his Mardis Gras mask. "Wasn't stopping there," said Yu, dancing ahead on the leash of Mika's arm. They wove in and out between other couples on the street, many of them locked in heated embraces. Yu led Mika along a path behind the cafe, passing by the now closed French Market. Budding dandelion puffs of red and green and gold cracked and shimmered above the river, growing bigger in size as they moved closer to the water. A large riverboat drifted lazily by, its rows of lamps marking its slow progress across the dark Mississippi.

"You know, if we can get some renters into those two houses within the next six weeks, I think we'll be okay."

"Of course we'll be okay. Why wouldn't we be?"

"Finances, Yu. I know numbers aren't your strong suit, but-"

"-Tch. Like you've run property before?"

"-I've been doing Krul's books since I was fifteen. She had dozens of holdings out in the quarter; I think I can handle two tiny shotgun houses-"

"-three, if you count ours-"

"Three, whatever. I'm just saying, I think I can make this work-"

"-can you please stop talking about your 'business plan' Mr. Portfolio? We're supposed to be out having fun here-"

"-I know. I'm sorry. I'll stop." Then Mika added under his breath: "But I really do like numbers."

Yu led Mika away from the hazy light of the gas lamps, down by the water to a jagged stone wall near the shore. He stopped just behind the wall, pulling off his mask. "Ta-da!" he said, gesturing with gold sequins. "Remember this place?"

"Of course, I remember it."

"This was where we had our first kiss-"

"-Eighteen months, two weeks, and three days ago. See? I told you I was good with numbers-"

"-so what else are you good at?" Yu asked teasingly, leaning back against the bricks. In response, Mika reached out and kissed him, sliding his arms around him and running a hand up his back, his fingers catching and trapping the loose strands of hair at the nape of his neck. He tugged on Yu's hair, angling his head back for better access as the kiss deepened. Yu sighed contentedly, happily accepting Mika's tongue into his mouth, moaning slightly into the kiss. Yu reached up and plucked Mika's mask away as the light from the fireworks display danced over their faces, painting them in brilliant shades of gold, green, and red. Yu swayed on the balls of his feet, his eyes still blissfully closed, as Mika suddenly ended the kiss. "How was that?" Mika asked in a low tantalizing voice by his ear.

Yu's response was instantaneous: "More!"

Yu reached out and grabbed Mika, pulling him to him, kissing him as if his life depended on it. Mika pushed Yu flat against the stone wall, pressing his body against his, both of their movements growing more clumsy and desperate as the inevitable sparks of lust caught and ignited between them, driving them closer and closer together. Mika raked Yu's coat off his shoulders and down his arms; the garment fell in an unwanted puddle around Yu's feet. He pulled at Yu's high collar, his lips and tongue seeking the flesh of his neck, pulling and flailing at buttons that impeded his progress. Yu gasped as Mika sucked roughly at his collarbone. "Are we-are we really doing this right here-"

"-it's Mardis Gras, isn't it?"

Yu shrugged. It seemed as good an excuse as any. Mika kissed his way down the front of Yu's chest, dropping to his knees and fiddling with his belt. Yu tilted his head back, staring at the moon above, watching as whistling streamers of light criss-crossed the darkened sky. "God, it's so beautiful tonight...Ngh…" Yu's head thumped back against the bricks as he felt Mika take him into his mouth, tasting and teasing him all along his length. He breathed heavily, his hips rocking slightly as he sought to bury himself into that welcoming heat, losing himself to pure sensation. Yu's curling fingers raked at the bricks as he let Mika build up his own rhythm, watching that blond hair go from gold to green to purple. He gasped aloud, bucking forward, as Mika unexpectedly slid a pair of damp fingers between his legs, burying them deep inside of him. Electricity danced along his nerves and he felt himself being turned inside out, the twin stimulations overriding all his senses. Yu threw his head back and moaned out loud, heedless to whoever might be in the vicinity. His legs quaked threateningly as Mika pushed up into his prostrate, the contact wrenching a strangled cry from his mouth. His back slid against the bricks, gravity pulling him earthward. "Mika, I can't-" he mewled.

Before Yu could completely slump to the ground, Mika ceased what he was doing, standing up and pulling Yu with him. He shucked Yu's pants down his legs, and Yu trembled, his pupils blown black as the midnight sky as he anticipated what was coming next. He only managed to get one pants leg off before Mika's arms were back around him, his quickening breath coming in pants as he stared into Yu's eyes. "Ready?" Mika asked in a gravelly voice. Yu nodded dumbly as Mika lifted him, positioning him against the wall. Yu wrapped his legs clumsily around him and from there gravity did its job and suddenly it was in. No gentle, teasing entrance for him: it was simply in and Yu's back was scraping against the bricks as Mika pounded into him, his arms clinging to him, a choked cry spilling out of his throat. Someone was probably going to hear them and they were probably going to be discovered, but they were both too caught up in the blistering heat of pleasure to care. There was only this: the violent, entrancing rhythm, the surge of lustful feelings, the desperate and all consuming need for release. Yu rode Mika's cock, his back and ass hitting the wall with every thrust, but he didn't care. He was in that special place where pleasure and pain came together to create the perfect, most intoxicating blend of erotic sensation and he simply didn't care. He wanted one thing and one thing only: to be fucked, and to be fucked hard.

"Ngh..it's too much…" Yu shivered, his eyes stained moist as he felt his orgasm building, his every nerve singing out a song of overwhelming pleasure that was straining, cresting, simmering. He felt drunk, high on lust, as Mika slid his tongue back into his mouth. Yu sucked at his lips with mindless abandon as he felt his pleasure coming to a high peak, turning into a cresting wave, becoming a high cliff over which he was poised to fall. Suddenly, he saw clouds of starlight burst overhead and the sky fizzled into an incandescent whiteness, and Yu was crying out, moaning in the night, all sense of time and place gone as he rode out wave after shockwave of blissful, heady release. The night sky overhead shimmied and shook with color, and Yu felt his legs finally give, felt himself falling to earth, only to have Mika catch him. "Whoa, there! Steady on," he said into Yu's hair. Yu's ears were buzzing as he smiled, laughing slightly. "You really are better at more things than just numbers," Yu said dizzily. Mika only smiled at him, kissing his forehead as he attempted to get Yu back into his clothes. Yu's limbs had turned to jelly and he was of absolutely no help in this. He laughed again, reaching out to touch Mika's face.

"God, I love you!"

"I love you, too, Yu-chan."

"Let's go home to that silly, curtainless house of ours. I think I need a sequel to this."

"Whatever you want, Yu. Whatever you want..."

"You," said Yu, closing his eyes and pressing their foreheads together. "I want you!"

"You got me, love. I'm yours. I've always been yours. Always."

"Forever and always?"

"Forever and always," Mika repeated as gigantic flowers of light bloomed way up in the sky, dancing and shimmying over the night's canvas before slowly falling to earth. Music echoed from the streets and people laughed in the distance and tankers floated listlessly by. A cool February breeze whipped up, stirring the hair on their necks as the two boys made their way back across Decatur Street. Back to the place they called home...

End/Fin.

Final Author's Note: I had a lot of experimental stuff going on in this fic., and would dearly love to get some feedback on it. So please leave a review and let me know what worked and what didn't, what soared and what fell flat, etc. I know I missed the mark somewhere (particularly at the end) and I am eager to improve, and the only way I can do that is through honest, constructive feedback. So please r&r!

Much thanks,

The Kindly One