Title: Second Chances
Title: Second Chances
Author: Estella Greenleaf
Rating: M (R/NC-17)
Pairing: Stelios /Astinos ; Leonidas / Dilios (Implied)
Disclaimer: Not mine! No profit made, etc…
Author's note: Man, what's supposed to be a short chapter just keeps getting longer and longer. I apologize for how long it took. Still, nothing really happens; but I hope you'll enjoy reading the banter as much as I did writing it.
Astinos wasn't sure how to feel at the latest turn of events. Part of him was exceptionally pleased. Sunshine was the first friend he's made at the RRTS; it'd be great spending more time with the man, getting to know him better. Yet, part of him was terrified. He knew he had a perchance for vivid wet dreams, had a feeling he'd be rather vocal during these episodes. What if the senior agent were to overhear him? What if the man discovered that his own doppelganger was the star of Astinos' fantasies?
Would Sunshine be disgusted? Or would the man reciprocate his interest? The irrational romantic in him was dying to know the answer; but he couldn't risk their newfound friendship. It's simply too precious. He had no choice but to keep his infatuation under wraps and pretend to be 'just a friend', at least until he got a better feel for his partner's moods. He had a feeling it wouldn't be easy though, given how their banter tended to drift into salacious territory.
Only a moment ago, he had frozen when Sunshine's joke about dark secluded places conjured up images of their bodies entwined, of stolen moments shrouded in darkness and secrecy. It had taken all of his will power to drag his mind back to reality and give the senior agent a worthy retort. He was lucky the man didn't suspect the real reason for his reaction…
Why on earth were their conversations so sexually charged in the first place? He certainly wasn't in the habit of flirting with a man (or a woman for that matter) he's just met. But with Sunshine, it just felt natural and right somehow. Was it the same for his partner? Did the senior agent joke around like this with everyone? Or was the man only so flirtatious with him?
Astinos' musing was cut short when the senior agent announced, "Almost there!"
The youth looked around and saw only a dead-end. "Is this the part where you go open sesame?"
Sunshine laughed and tilted his head upwards towards the opening of a ventilation duct above. "No, it's just up this way, about 50 feet."
Even if he weren't injured, the youth was sure he couldn't scale a vertical smooth surface without gear. There were practically no foot or hand holds. Wrinkling his brow, Astinos asked, "And how do you suggest we get up there?"
"You'll see," the senior agent replied with a devilish grin. It's a scary expression really, full of maniacal delight that told Astinos the man was about to do something crazy, that he should be holding on for dear life.
And right the youth's instincts were, as Sunshine leapt, his momentum carrying them through the opening on a collision course with the side of the duct. Astinos was surprised at how calm he was as the wall loomed, at how much he trusted the partner he's only just met. He knew it was irrational; but he felt, no, he knew, crazy as the man may seem, Sunshine would never knowingly put him in any real danger. Give him a chance to go his own way, yes, but always close enough to lend a hand if needed.
Just as Astinos expected, crashing into the wall was not on his partner's agenda. Moments before a face-first collision, the senior agent kicked out a leg and planted his foot onto the side of the duct. Pivoting on the point of contact, Sunshine turned and kicked off again, jumping towards the opposite side of the wall. So it was that they zigzagged up the ventilation duct, reaching the top in a matter of seconds.
As they stood on the roof of the ACD complex, Sunshine asked, "That wasn't too rough for you, was it?"
Astinos thought he'd detected a tinge of insecurity in his partner's voice. Was the man looking for his approval of their mode of travel? But it couldn't be; Sunshine was far too self-assured for that. More than likely, the senior agent was just teasing him.
"No, I like it rough." The words had flowed out naturally before Astinos had a chance to stop it. He was supposed to keep things cool, not throw out a double entendre!
The young agent was mentally kicking himself when his partner laughed, "You know what they say, you always have to watch out for the pretty ones."
Astinos knew that continuing this flirtatious banter was like playing with fire; but once again, he couldn't help himself. It's not in his competitive nature to let a challenge go unanswered. Grinning impishly, he delivered what he thought was a perfect comeback, "So does that mean I am safe with you?"
"Ouch! That hurts!" the senior agent replied with a wounded look. "I think I'll go jump off a building now." He then proceeded to walk to the edge of roof with Astinos in his arms and did exactly that.
The pair landed on a soft mat in the balcony of one of the top floor suites. Noting the placement of the mat and the open sliding glass door leading into the suite, the youth remarked, "I see you do this quite often."
"Well, not with a pretty boy in my arms," Sunshine replied as he straightened and shifted his hold on Astinos. Walking through the glass door into a spartanly decorated room dominated by an unmade king-size bed, he announced, "Here we are, home sweet home."
Astinos' heart was pounding as his partner's steps carried him closer towards the bed. 'Calm down', he told himself. There's nothing remotely romantic in Sunshine's gesture… The man was just being kind and letting him rest in his sleeping space; that's all!
The youth soon found himself being set down gently in seating position on the edge of the bed. As Sunshine made a haphazard attempt to straighten the beddings, he said, "I'll get the other room set up for you later. You can rest here for now."
Astinos nodded mutely; he didn't trust himself to speak. Having Sunshine so close, practically on all fours next to him, trying to smooth out the furthest corner of the bedspread, it was too much for his self-control to handle. There was no stopping himself from imagining the man naked, in a similar position, but a much less ingenuous context.
The youth's was interrupted when his partner sat down beside him and asked, "You okay? You look a bit piqued." It would appear that the man was now satisfied with the state of the bed, and had turned his attention back to him. Pressing a hand against Astinos' forehead, the senior agent announced with a frown, "Hmm, seems a bit warm."
It took every ounce of Astinos' will power to rein in his overactive imagination and form an intelligible response; and he was quite proud of himself when he muttered, "Probably the drug in Theron's dart."
Sunshine nodded in agreement and reached out towards him. "I suppose I should take a look at the wound."
The young agent knew his partner was just being logical and helpful; but he could imagine what "looking at the wound" entailed, and he was in no shape to endure such temptation. As things were, a certain part of his anatomy was beginning to stir despite the tranquilizer. He couldn't risk Sunshine discovering his infatuation so soon. "No, it's okay; I don't feel a thing, really."
"That's what I'm worried about." Face set in a determined frown, the senior agent lifted Astinos' t-shirt and began coaxing the youth's half-paralyzed body into motion such that the shirt could be removed.
Astinos tensed, as he desperately wrecked his brain for a way to stop his partner. As the senior agent tried to lift his arm, he feigned a jolt of pain and grimaced, "Okay… I feel that."
"Sorry," Sunshine replied with a sheepish smile and moved back.
The helm of Astinos' t-shirt remained hooked upon his shoulder, leaving half his torso exposed, but he was too pleased with how well his ploy had worked to mind. However, his sigh of relief turned into a surprised gasp as he felt feather-light touches ghosting over his side, tracing his ribs with infinite care. Never in a million years would he have thought Sunshine capable of such tenderness; it seemed at odds with the man's strength somehow. And then there were the dreams. The blonde's doppelganger's touch was never gentle… loving in his own way, yes, but always passionate and forceful.
This unexpected gentleness felt good… too good. His pulse quickened; and butterflies took residence in his stomach. He was on the verge of doing something he knew he would regret later, namely leaning in to kiss Sunshine, when the soft touch reached what must have been the point of impact of Theron's kick and prompted a genuine grunt of pain.
"Fuck!" Astinos swore as his partner's hand withdrew; but whether his annoyance was at his momentary lapse of judgment or at the inopportune interruption, he didn't know. All he knew was that his skin still tingled from Sunshine's touch, and he wanted more.
"Sorry, I don't put out on a first date," the senior agent replied with mock seriousness, before breaking out into laughter at Astinos' dumb-founded expression.
"Tease," the youth muttered with a pout. It was the only response he could manage under the circumstances, since it's exactly how he felt.
The senior agent grinned, probably mistaking the response as nothing more than a playful retort. Astinos knew he should be grateful, that Sunshine remained oblivious of his attraction, but a small part of him was dissatisfied. How was he to gauge his partner's interest in him if the man kept taking any attempts at flirtation on his part as a joke?
The young agent's musing was cut short when Sunshine announced, "I don't think your ribs are broken; but we should bind them just in case," and proceeded to rummage through the drawers of his nightstand for bandages.
'What kind of person keep bandages in a nightstand?' that was what Astinos was thinking when he felt his his partner's arms encircled him. A hand found his heated skin, holding the end of the bandage in place as the other worked to wrap the elastic strip around his torso. It's becoming increasingly difficult to breath; and the young agent had a feeling it wasn't because of the tightness of the bandages. He needed something to distract his mind from the sensation; and a quest for Sunshine's real name seemed a worthy endeavor. "I just realize, I'm sitting here, half naked in your bed, and I don't even know your name."
"Stelios at your service."
Astinos jerked his head towards his partner and stared. It couldn't be… Stelios was the name of the boy in his dreams the night before, the one who befriended him, helped him when no one else would… For Sunshine, his first friend at the RRTS, to bear the same name, what were the chances? He suspected he would have continued staring agape at his partner if the man hadn't frowned and protested, "Oh, come on, it's not that weird of a name!"
The senior agent sounded petulant, as if he were genuinely annoyed; and annoying Stelios was the last thing Astinos wanted to do, especially when the said man was in the process of tightening the bandages around his ribs. "It's just you don't look very Grecian, that's all." The youth knew it's a lame excuse, but it was the best he could muster with his mind still slightly in shock.
"It's not like I chose my name, you know. My parents met during a premiere, and they thought it romantic to name me after the hero of the movie. The other kids at school used to give me grief about it all the time," "Stelios replied, irritation clear in his voice.
Now Astinos understood why his partner was so upset by his reaction; and since he couldn't possibly explain why he found Stelios' name so 'unusual', he knew there's only one thing he could do to placate the man. He would let Sunshine in on the origins of his own name. "Well, I'd take a movie hero over a James Bond car any day."
Intrigued, the senior agent's frown eased as he asked, "What do you mean?"
"My namesake is an Astin Martin D5," replied Astinos with a sigh. His reply prompted a peal of laughter from his partner. Normally, he would be annoyed, considering how much teasing he had endured over being named after a car; but right now, he's just happy that all seemed forgiven. Continuing with a pout, he added, "And you know what the kicker is? Sometimes I think my dad likes that car more than he likes me."
Stelios' expression turned serious as he replied, "There is no way anyone could like a D5 more than you."
Had Sunshine noticed the veiled melancholy in his voice? True, he had often wondered if he meant more to his father than the antique sportscar; but the last thing he wanted was for his partner to know! He didn't want the man's pity. Astinos was debating how to respond to the senior agent's reassurances when he noticed the devilish grin that had now taken residence upon Sunshine's features.
Dropping his voice to a low purr, Stelios leant in and breathed into Astinos' ear, "You're a much sweeter ride."
"Wouldn't you like to know?" the youth retorted, but with much less spunk than he'd hoped. Then again, he should be glad he could manage a reply at all, since his brain had taken leave to relish in images of him being Stelios' 'ride'.
"Playing hard to get doesn't suit you," the senior agent replied, still grinning, as he tied off the bandages and pulled Astinos' t-shirt back into place. Lifting the young man gently and placing him onto the center of his large bed, he added, "Here, lie down and be a good boy."
Astinos' breath hitch as his partner leant over him to tug him in. He was glad for the tranquilizer numbing his body and his senses; or else, there'd be a wet tent in the sheets between his legs. "But I'm not tired," he muttered in an effort to bring his mind back towards a more 'appropriate' line of thought.
"You can do some permanent damage if you don't allow your body time to heal," Sunshine replied sagely, shaking his head at the young man as if he were an errant child.
There it was again, words from his dream the night before, coming from a real-life Stelios… Astinos couldn't help but stare. At his agape expression, the senior agent asked, "What?"
The question snapped Astinos out of his surprise. Yes, it was eerie how his dreams seemed to mirror reality; but his partner weren't privy to those dreams, which meant that as far as the man was concerned, the 'sage reply' was nothing out of the ordinary. He had to stop reacting so 'inappropriately', lest he risked offending Stelios again. Forcing a mischievous grin, he joked, "Just wanted to make sure you aren't my mom in disguise because you sounded just like her right now."
"Cheeky," Stelios laughed, accepting the youth's stare as set-up for a witty comeback. "As much as I'd love to stay and chat, us grown-ups actually have work to do around here. I'll be back to check on you in a bit, okay?"
As his partner moved towards the open balcony door, Astinos asked, partly out of curiosity and partly out of concern that this 'work' might concern him, "What kind of work?"
"We may be sharing a bed, love, but a man's got to have his secrets," replied Stelios with a wink before taking a running leap onto the balcony railing and shooting off towards the roof out of Astinos' sight, leaving the young man alone to ponder the events of his eventful morning and an all-important question – how on earth was he supposed to act 'normal' around Stelios, when in his heart, he couldn't help but feel that his dreams were prelude to his destiny?