Holly on New Year's, but No Mistletoe

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Rated M

There will be one, possibly two more parts to this.

This fanfiction is officially stamped with a 'Yaoi Warning.'

A/N 1: The rating is because of adult content and some language, and all done as tactfully as possible. It's not my fault if these characters have a mind of their own. Well, actually, it is, but still…

A/N 2: Perhaps this is a little late, seeing as the holiday season ended nearly half a month ago… but there's always time for an interesting SpAqua drama, right?

Please enjoy.

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"Alcohol will preserve anything but a secret."

"He that first cries out stop thief; it is often he that has stolen the treasure."

"We are easily duped by those we love."

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Part One

It was New Year's Eve, and Garth had quite cheerily announced that morning that a friend of his was coming in the evening to help celebrate. Karen looked happy for him in the way that made you wonder if she knew something that was common knowledge—so, naturally, everyone but you knew.

The day went slowly—Garth was running around the place, hurrying to straighten things up or get things done. Sometimes he disappeared for a while only to show up with bags of food or chips, or something that he'd forgotten to buy on the shopping trip he'd made two hours ago.

Karen had taken Mos y Menos over to Titans West to play with the new GameStation 3 that someone over there had gotten for Christmas. When she returned without the twins, she had simply said they were too glued to the TV to bring back with her.

She herself had no plans, but rolled her sleeves up—none of us were wearing our uniforms—and busied herself by baking cookies and pies. Between Garth's furious shopping trips and organizing fits, he'd helped, too.

And I sat in my room, staring at the ceiling, debating if I should've gotten some girl to bring over, like Garth had. All things considered, I knew I hadn't had time to go get a girlfriend—crime had skyrocketed over the holidays, and before that we were doing double duty in Jump City when the Titans West took their well-deserved autumn break.

But if Garth had managed—he didn't seem the social kind of guy—then I should've, too. The only possible chance I'd have at getting a girl on New Year's Eve was if it were one of those crazy, screaming fans that hounded me everywhere. And that would be even worse than spending it alone.

Finally, when the sun began sinking at a quarter to six, the doorbell rang. I really hadn't heard it before—I realized that we really were in solidarity out here—so, from sheer curiosity, I went into the main room to ask Karen what the hell the noise was.

She laughed when I asked, shaking her head. "It's the doorbell. I've never heard it, either. Garth's friend is here, apparently."

"Oh, hey," I asked quickly, in a hushed tone. "Just to get this straight—is Garth's friend just a friend-friend, or really a girlfriend-friend?"

Before she could reply, the doors slid open and Garth appeared in the door, eyes bright with happiness, talking excitedly about something to his 'friend,' who was grinning just as much and looking just as content.

Any images I'd conjured on who I thought Garth would bring over were, well, completely destroyed.

He was brunette with a slim but athletic build, and was inch or two taller than Garth and much more tanned, despite it being the middle of winter. He looked around the main room with wonder in his crystal-blue eyes before abruptly chuckling.

"Okay, okay," he smiled at Garth, who seemed smug. "I surrender. The Florida pad is nothing compared to this place."

"Brendan!" Karen cheered, dropping everything in a rush to the door. "You actually came!"

"I told you he would," Garth pointed out; his friend gave him a playful glare before his eyes found me.

"Hey," he said, raising a hand in a loose salutation.

"Oh—right," Garth said, finally stepping out of the doorway. "Roy, this is Brendan Holly; Brendan, this Roy Harper."

"Nice to meet you," Brendan said merrily, offering a hand. I shook it and instantly recoiled.

"Karen was friends with him before she joined the team," Garth explained, "and then I met him."

"Unfortunate, really," Brendan said. Garth threw a potholder at his head and they broke into identical grins.

"Idiots," Karen muttered, but she was smiling, too. "Anyway—who's hungry?"

The evening went on like the previous New Year's Eve—ham for dinner, some sitting around drinking eggnog, board games… the usual. But every so often, there would be a silence after something either Garth or Brendan said when a moment of unspoken communication went between the two. Karen didn't notice, or maybe she ignored it, but it was obvious that something was going on.

It was three minutes before midnight when things began to get strange. Karen had left the room—Cyborg had called, of course—and left me in charge of the brownies in the oven. But as soon as I took them out and turned back to the couch, I froze.

Brendan and Garth were sitting on the sofa, looking at each other very seriously—Garth looked carefree, but Brendan seeming accusing—and speaking in low voices. From the way Brendan's eyes kept flicking to me, I realized that I had done something to upset him.

"No," I heard Garth say, louder—I was still next to the oven, pretending to be absorbed in adding sprinkles to the brownies. "That's ridiculous. I would never—"

"But you could, if you wanted to, right?"

"I wouldn't want to!"

"But with me in Florida… I'd be far away… I'd never find out…"

"Ten!" yelled an on-screen announcer. "Nine!" I wanted to turn around and look, but I wouldn't look until the pair was done arguing.

"I could accuse you of the same thing!"

"But I would never do—"

"Six!"

"Neither would I, Brendan!"

"But…"

"Four!"

"Will you just trust me?"

"Three!"

"I do!"

"Two!"

"And do you trust me, Garth?"

"One!"

I didn't hear Garth's reply, but I heard a loud HAPPY NEW YEAR! from the TV and turned to watch, almost sure that the conversation was put on hold for the celebration. And as soon as I turned, I froze again, caught in unpleasant shock.

Garth leaned in front of Brendan, one hand on his face, and very slowly kissed him, pulling away only slightly before opening his eyes. Brendan stared at him for a moment, surprised, but then smiled and kissed him back, a bit more passionately than before. After what seemed like eternity, they parted again.

Brendan had turned slightly toward me during the kiss; his eyes happened to flicker onto mine and see my expression. "What?" he laughed. "It's New Year's…"

Garth looked over his shoulder, his eyes dancing innocently. "Happy New Year's, Roy!"

I suddenly became conscious that my mouth was open and closed it. "Yeah," I replied in a daze. "Happy—"

"Did I miss the ball drop?" Karen yelled, bursting in through the doors. "Damn Sparky," she laughed, and then rushed past me to get four drinks. "Champagne, anyone?"

"Isn't that illegal?" I heard Garth laugh. I didn't hear her answer—my mind felt blank and heavy, like I wasn't really there.

I stumbled to the door and into the hallway. Just as the door closed behind me, I heard Brendan laughing and asking, "Aren't you guys supposed to enforce the law?"

My face in my bedroom mirror looked the same as always. But, sitting in front of it, staring into my own empty eyes, I felt different. Something had changed.

I closed my eyes and collapsed onto my bed. So what if Garth kissed a guy? It probably meant nothing. 'It's New Year's,' Brendan had said. It must've been meaningless, then—on the first second of the New Year, you kiss someone. That was rational—it was a joke, probably.

But my mind went back to that smile Brendan had, just after Garth kissed him. He looked pleasantly surprised, and then he'd smiled, like, 'That was unexpected, but I liked it.' And why would they've kissed twice?

I sat upright. Why the hell did it matter? I lied down again, massaging the bridge of my nose, trying to breathe.

Even if the kiss was in all seriousness, it wasn't like it was wrong. So Garth was gay. So he was dating Brendan. I should've figured it out—the way they looked at each other gave it away, really. But somehow, I hadn't known.

A voice in the back of my head spoke up. Maybe you didn't want to know? If you could ignore that they were flirting with each other, maybe you could ignore how much it bothered you.

"It doesn't," I mumbled aloud, letting my hand fall from my face in despair. But it did bother me. I wasn't one to ignore what I'm feeling, but usually I could reason my emotions out.

But this… this wasn't one of those times. The feeling was that I didn't like Brendan on the mere terms that he kissed Garth. It was like I wanted to be the one sharing those looks or getting that attention.

So I just wanted to be the one in the spotlight. That was it—I just wanted to be the one who people wanted to talk to, to be with, to laugh with. That made sense.

But the image of the kiss was burned into my retina, even behind closed eyes. I watched unwillingly, feeling pangs in my chest every time Brendan smiled.

I realized, with a grin, that I was jealous of their relationship—of what they had. It had nothing to do either of them—it was simply that I wanted someone to share New Year's Eve with. They'd had each other and I'd had no one.

There was a knock on the door, and it slid open, unlocked, before I could even sit up. I looked sideways towards the door and felt my breath catch in my throat when Garth walked through, looking puzzled.

"Can I come in?" he asked.

"Yeah," I said quickly. My pulse rushed through my veins, heating my face, making me flustered.

The back of my mind was saying something, but my heartbeat was too loud to hear it.

Once he shut the door, he took a seat at the desk a few feet away, reading the questioning look on my face. "Brendan's in the main room with Karen," he explained.

"Ah." What else could I say?

"This is…" He adjusted himself in his chair with a sigh, and then looked up at me. "Uncomfortable, to say the least."

"You could always sit—"

"Not the chair, Roy," he chuckled. "I mean… well…" He searched for the words. "Did I do something wrong? You left in a hurry…"

Shaking my head, I laughed. "No… I was just… tired." It sounded like a question.

"I mean, if I did, I'm sorry." His eyes lit up with an idea, but he frowned for a split second. "Did Brendan do something? Or… I mean, we, well, kissed in front of you… Was that it?"

"No, Garth." Yes, Garth. "I was just tired. Really." I was just bothered by it. Really.

His lips stayed tightened into a line for a minute and then he smiled, relieved, and rubbed his eyes. "Thanks. I knew that Karen knew, but I wasn't sure how you'd react… so I meant to tell you before he came over, but I've been so busy… and then he came, and it was just a spur-of-the-moment thing, kissing him… and—"

"You don't need to explain," I interrupted. "I get it. You meant to tell me, but forgot in the rush of the holidays. No offense taken."

"So… You don't have any problem with it?" When I didn't answer, he clarified. "No problems with me… being gay? Dating a guy?"

Yes, there's a huge problem with it.

"No—Garth, I'm your friend. If it makes you happy, there's no problem with it."

"Thanks," he said again, standing. "Oh—and so you know, Brendan's going to be staying here tonight. It's too late to check into his hotel."

"Ah," I said again.

"See you in the morning," he said cheerily, and went out into the hallway.

As soon as the door slid shut, I collapsed backward onto my bed again, clenching my eyes shut.

If you only envy their relationship… the voice began, but I ignored what it had to say. Partly because I didn't want to listen, but mostly because I knew it was right.

The way just seeing Garth made me feel—the way I couldn't talk to him truthfully, the way I felt awkward sitting there—wasn't something that comes from just a friendly kind of interest.

Flicking off the lights a few minutes later, I crawled into bed, trying to convince myself I really was tired. Just tired—and that, when I woke up, I would realize my exhausted mind was playing tricks on me. Or something.

'Brendan's going to be staying here tonight,' Garth's voice suddenly reminded me, and I sat upright again, staring hard into the darkness.

He hadn't exactly specified where Brendan was going to stay, had he? No. So maybe he was just staying in one of the empty bedrooms. Maybe.

I lied back down. That was probably it—he was just in a guestroom.

But as soon as I closed my eyes, I saw Garth lying on a bed, propped up on his elbows, laughing while Brendan kissed him and began unbuttoning his shirt. I tried pushing the image out of my head, but Brendan kept unbuttoning, and eventually he threw the shirt to the side, his fingers reaching for the zipper of Garth's jeans while that mischievous smile played across his face.

"Shit," I groaned, throwing myself from the bed. I didn't bother to put anything on over my t-shirt and boxers—the rest of the Tower was silent. Karen always liked to get to bed as early as possible, and Garth and Brendan were probably in their respective rooms.

Or in one room, splayed across Garth's bed, undressing each other and—

"Shit!" I repeated, more forcefully this time, rushing to the bathroom. Splashing cold water on my face, I shivered, hoping to make myself more awake. Needless to say, it didn't help.

As an afterthought, I grabbed a sweatshirt on the way out to the hall and, putting it on, made my way to the upper level of the main room. No one ever went up there besides me—Garth went up there to dive once in a while, but he'd been neglecting his pools ever since winter began.

The balcony was empty, as usual, but the light was on in the kitchen below—Garth was standing next to the oven, leaning against the counter. Alone.

It was odd, to see him awake. He was always in bed about the same time as Karen—he was only really awake at night if he'd slept all day, or if something was bothering him. I figure the latter was more likely… but what would the problem be?

Silently debating for a few minutes, I went against better judgment and hurried downstairs, pausing outside the lower main doors before I went through.

He had moved—at first, I thought he'd left. Instead of standing in the kitchen, he was sitting at the table across the room, his face in his hands, perfectly still. I went closer, but he didn't notice. Slowly, I leaned against the table, bending to his eye-level.

"Garth?"

His head jerked up and his eyes searched wildly for a moment before they focused on me, and then dizzily closed. He slumped over the table, head in his arms.

"Garth," I repeated. I felt my brow furrow—something was wrong, but it didn't seem as mental as it did physical. "Garth!"

"Shut up," he groaned, the words slurred.

I nearly laughed. "Are you drunk?"

"No—maybe—I don't know," he mumbled, turning his head to face me. "You know how Karen waters down my glass of alcohol when we have it?"

I tried to think back to last New Year's, and nodded. Something about being an Atlantean gave Garth an extremely low tolerance to alcohol. But the only time he'd been drunk, he'd just laughed a lot more—he hadn't acted sick. "Didn't she water it down this year?"

"She did," he said, "but then we all had another glass, and Brendan poured them. And I forgot about the alcohol."

"Are you okay?"

He groaned, sitting up. "I feel like shit. But that's not why I'm awake."

"Why, then?" That intrigued me—so something had been bothering him mentally?

"I don't know," Garth muttered. "Something about Brendan, or you, or about you from Brendan… yeah, that was it…" He sighed. "It's nothing."

"About me, from Brendan?"

"He doesn't like you," Garth stated. It was wrong to ask him anything about it when he was drunk, but he'd mentioned it in the first place. "At all. He thinks I'm cheating on him with you, or something. But that's stupid, right?"

I started to reply, but he cut me off.

"Anyway, you should go to sleep. I'm just going to crash out here, probably."

"Why?" His room was literally down a flight of stairs from here—probably a 20-second walk, at most.

"Brendan might be in there. I told him he could sleep in my room."

I felt something stabbing my chest. But slight worry was more powerful; "Why don't you want to go in there if Brendan's in there?"

He sighed, turning his face away from me and mumbling something.

"What?"

"I said," he repeated, still looking away. "That sometimes, Brendan's a little… over the top. If I go in there, he might… do some things…"

"Like what?" All emotions were, at this point, pushed aside, along with tact and privacy. Whether he was drunk or not, if his… boyfriend was doing something bad to him and this was a way for me to find out what, then I'd take the chance of him getting mad at me later.

"Like hit me," he said quietly, and it hurt to hear him say it. "And force me to do things. But I could stop him, usually, before. But now he's drunk… and I'm drunk…" He looked at me. "Are you drunk? No… you left before then, right?"

I nodded, unable to say anything.

"Can I sleep in your room?" he wondered. "You wouldn't do anything to me. Not like Brendan."

My throat tightened—it felt like I was going to cry. He sounded so pathetic, saying that I wasn't 'like Brendan.' I wouldn't hit him, force him to do 'things.' I wouldn't be the abusive boyfriend.

I swallowed and nodded. "Yeah," I choked. "Of course. C'mon."

I helped him to my room and then into the bed, figuring that I could just sleep elsewhere. But no matter how much I convinced myself to leave the room, I couldn't. The urge to protect him tore at my mind, keeping me trapped in the room. The door was locked in three different ways—two manual, one electronic—but I didn't trust that.

After an hour of watching him sleep, I heard him whisper, "Not yet, Brendan. Please…"

I hadn't cried since I was eight. But for some reason, those four words made tears start a silent flood down my face. Until I fell asleep at the break of dawn, I cried. And I didn't realize why until much later.

I woke up an hour and a half after I fell asleep, slightly more alert than before. Garth was still sleeping, so I took the liberty of leaving before he could figure out why he was in my bedroom.

But in the kitchen, sitting quietly at the counter, was Brendan. He looked up when I came through the door, and as soon as he realized it was me, he narrowed his eyes.

"Where's Garth?"

I shrugged. "Sleeping, maybe?"

"Yeah," he nodded, "I figured that out already. Where is he sleeping?"

I didn't answer right away. First, I grabbed a brownie and sat at the table, putting myself farther from him than was probably necessary. But he looked murderous, so the distance was a good idea.

"Where, Roy?"

I shrugged again. "In my room."

His fingers curled into a fist on the table, but he stayed where he was. "And why is he there?"

"Because… he wants to be? I don't know—does it matter?"

"Yeah, it matters."

He sat there, staring at me while I ate. After a long five minutes, I sighed and met his glare. "What?"

"Yesterday, Karen went to sleep, and then I asked Garth where I could stay. He said I could stay in his room, so I went in there, waiting for him to come, too. But," he said dramatically, "he never came. And now he's in your room?"

"…So?"

"So, what happened?"

I thought for a minute, and then shook my head, realizing something. "Wait a minute—he was drunk, and you left him alone?"

"He was drunk, not incapacitated! And besides, I was drunk too. Maybe not as much, but—"

"But he visibly felt like shit, right?"

"Well, yeah." He smirked. "It was pretty funny."

"And then you left him alone and went to his bedroom, waiting for him to come to you? And what did you plan on doing to him, then? Taking advantage of him?"

Brendan's smirk got wider.

"And, what, if he didn't agree to it, where you going to plan on hitting him? Beating him up, and then… what then? Rape?"

He was on his feet in an instant, but I met him halfway, throwing the first punch. He slammed backward against the counter, mumbling low oaths.

But he laughed. "Why does it bother you? He's mine, not yours. So, he's mine to play with, isn't he?"

As soon as he stood upright I punched him again, cracking his jaw. "That's sick."

"Aren't you just jealous, then?" He laughed even harder, taking a step back to get out of my reach—he knew I wouldn't move; not yet, at least. "You know," he chuckled. "Garth isn't half as attractive as you. If you wanted to do something…" One of his eyebrows arched suggestively. "Well, I'd be willing…"

Something in me snapped. Clenching my teeth, I grabbed the front of his shirt, slamming him back against the counters. "I'd never"—I punched him—"want to"—another punch—"do anything"—a third punch—"with you, you"—a fourth—"sick bastard!"

He spat something to the side—blood, it looked like—and then grinned, spitting in my face. I stepped back instinctively to wipe it off, but he grabbed me and shoved me down, pinning me onto the ground.

He wiped his mouth with one hand and then grinned. "I could take you right here. And two ways—violence, or a little something el—"

I kicked him off, kneeling over him, pinning his arms and legs. "Shut up!" I yelled in his face, leaning low to keep both arms against the ground.

I heard the door slid open, but before I could react to it a mouth was pushing up against mine, Brendan's tongue invading my mouth.

There was a pause as he kissed me; the kind of pause that made me know that this wasn't going to end well.

I jerked my head up, breaking away from him, and looked towards the door. In an instant, I realized why Brendan had kissed me.

Garth stood in the doorway wearing an expression of complete shock, his eyes unmoving from me.

And then, from below me, the faked pathetic voice called, "G-Garth, help me?"

Garth's face contorted into fury and he was at my side in half a second, yanking me to my feet by the back of my shirt. His fist slammed into my face, throwing me back—I expected another hit, but when I turned toward him he wasn't moving. He was just standing there, panting through gritted teeth, glaring at me.

But it wasn't a glare. It was a look that screamed a hundred things; things like shattered trust and utter hatred. But the worst of the screams were ones that protected Brendan, which asked 'Why did you kiss him if you knew he was mine?'

'Do you know what he's doing to you?' I wanted to answer. But I couldn't talk—I could only watch helplessly as he stared at me, torn between which reasons to hate me for.

The glare was over in a matter of eternal seconds; he finally turned to Brendan, helping him up. Brendan was saying something quickly to Garth but I couldn't hear it. I knew it was excuses, things that accused me of doing things to hurt Garth.

Like I would. Like I could.

Then Garth turned his eyes on me again. They were empty, devoid of any emotion.

"Roy," he said, struggling to keep his tone even. "Get out." And then he turned away, facing Brendan again, whispering consoling things in his ear.

Time began moving in fast forward—I found myself walking toward the hall, and then running up the stairs and through the halls, shoving past Karen, everything else completely unimportant.

In my room I pulled on jeans, shoes and a sweater, grabbing a coat on the way out. I went down to the first level, still running, and then into the basement, stopping long enough to grab the keys to the red Volvo.

I was running and becoming guiltier in Garth's eyes with each passing second, and I knew it. But my mind was set on escape, and I needed to get away from whatever imaginary beast was chasing me.

I was on the underground freeway toward the city before I knew it, and then I was parked outside a Steel City pizza parlor. I requested a table in the back and ordered a cup of coffee unintentionally, only realizing ten minutes later where I was.

Sipping the cup of coffee made my mind a bit clearer. I sat there, in the back of the empty parlor, watching it fill up with people without really seeing anything.

What had Garth thought? Well, I knew what he had thought. He had thought I was forcefully kissing his boyfriend, pushing myself on him even though Garth had just made it apparent what Brendan was to him.

I had become the bad guy in place of Brendan. I was trying to protect Garth from him, but he made it so Garth had to protect him from me.

"This is so messed up," I groaned, rubbing temples, taking a breath.

"Roy!"

I jerked upright, not completely surprised to see Karen rushing toward me. She slid into the booth and stared across the table at me, trying to catch her breath.

"Hey, Karen," I sighed, sipping the coffee.

"What the hell"—she panted—"is going on?"

Shaking my head, I leaned against the seat. "Nothing."

After a moment of silence, she had gotten her breath back. "If it's nothing, then why were Garth and Brendan so quiet when I got into the main room? And as soon as I asked what was up, Garth spun on my and bit my head off, yelling about how disgusting you were, and how unreliable and how you betrayed his trust, and…" She finally saw my face. "Roy?"

"It wasn't my fault," I groaned, nearly inaudible.

"But what's going on?"

With another sigh, I crossed my arms and looked away from her. "Garth had impeccably bad timing when he came into the main room."

I could feel her eyes boring holes through me. "And?"

"Alright, fine," I said, glaring at her. "I'll tell you. But no commenting until I'm done."

She nodded.

"Well, I woke up this morning and went into the main room. Brendan was in there, and we started arguing, and then… And then the argument changed to what he was going to do with Garth when they were drunk, and what he would do to Garth if… if he, well, resisted Brendan… and then he started talking about what he could do with me, if I was jealous, and then I punched him and we started fighting, and then I pinned him on the ground… Garth came through the door and Brendan saw, and so he kissed me to make Garth think that I was trying to take Brendan away from him, or something, and…" I groaned. "And it's just a misunderstanding…"

"Wait. Are you jealous?"

I stared at her. "What does that have to do with anything?"

"Well, are you?"

"No—but why—"

"I mean, I'm sure Brendan was kidding about the things he was going to do with Garth, but—"

"No, he wasn't!" I slammed my hand on the table. "And don't brush it off so easily!"

"He was kidding, Roy! Brendan wouldn't—"

"No—listen! Last night, I couldn't sleep, so I went into the main room to just relax, but Garth was in there, and he was drunk—because Brendan had left him alone! And when I—"

"Just because he left him alone, it doesn't mean—"

"Karen, let me finish!" I hissed. "I asked Garth what was wrong, and he said he didn't want to go to his room because Brendan was in there!"

"So?"

"And then I asked what he meant, and he said Brendan sometimes goes 'over the top,' and hits him and 'makes him do things'—and that he knew Brendan would try to take advantage of him, but since he was drunk, he wouldn't be able to say no so easily, and…" My throat was tightening again—I felt like I was going to start crying. "And so he asked if he could stay in my room because I 'wouldn't do anything' to him, 'like Brendan.'"

"And? Did you let him stay in your room?"

"Of course I did!" I couldn't believe she had to ask.

"Why?"

"Because he was scared that Brendan would, I don't know, do things to him!" With another groan, I put my face in my hands, eyes closed. "You don't have to believe me, but it's true. And that's how we got to arguing this morning."

She didn't answer.

"And the worst part is that I was mad because Brendan was doing bad things to him, but then Garth came in and Brendan acted like I was trying to rape him!"

When she still didn't answer, I looked up.

"Karen?"

She was biting her lip, looking slightly frightened. "I knew…"

"What?"

"I knew Brendan had a bad streak with the guys he's been with, but… But, I don't know, he said he had changed, and then I told Garth and he said he could take care of himself… But now…"

"And it's like I should be doing something, but the look he gave me… Garth, I mean. He wants to be with Brendan. And now he hates me, and thinks that I was just 'jealous'…"

"And you aren't?"

I tipped my head back to rest it against the seat without answering.

"So, you… are?"

"I don't know—no, I'm not. Yes? Maybe? I shouldn't be, but… I mean, at this point, I really just want Garth to be safe. You know?"

"Yeah… But he's not going to give up Brendan."

"I know…"

"And I could imagine him walking in on that scene… and not liking it at all. I don't think he'll voluntarily talk to you for a while."

"Thanks for the optimism."

She bit her lip again. "I'm sorry. But it's true."

Something occurred to me; "Karen?"

"Yeah?"

"Are they the only two at the Tower?"

"Yeah. But Garth was just taking Brendan back to his room to clean up… Oh."

"Yeah, oh." More like oh, shit.

She sat there, staring at me. "You don't think…?"

There was a pause, and then we were both out the door before the five-dollar bill fluttered onto the table.

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A bit long for me, I know, but that's all right. It was fun to write, even if it turned out… oddly. It didn't go as I thought it would, but… regardless!

Did you enjoy it? I hope so. (Else, why would you spend your time reading the entire thing?)

Review, if you so desire.