Chapter 2: Enrique Ramirez

Garrett looked closely at the lad; he had thick, wavy black hair, olive skin and beautiful light brown eyes. His brows were much thicker than Garrett would have imagined they were; the thief ran his fingers through the mass of silky black hair and then down the thick brows that somehow complimented his face perfectly.

He could feel that the boy's heart beat had softened a little now, but it still beat with fervor.

The thief took a healing potion from off his belt pouch – it was something he always took with him but never had a need to use until now. He tore a little piece of the boy's shirt off and dripped the edge into the potion. He then rubbed the cloth across the boy's bloodied lip, cheeks and arm.

It seemed to sting, for the boy flinched and moved back slightly, but Garrett continued until all the blood was gone. The healing potion took effect immediately, and the small cuts and big bruises began to disappear. The boys stared at him in disbelief. Was this thief really helping him? Was he not going to hurt him?

"This is going to taste foul," Garrett warned as he pushed the boy's mouth open with his thumb, stuck the potion between his teeth, and, lifting the boy's head back, made him drink the whole thing.

The boy tried to choke some of it out, but Garrett pushed it back into his mouth with his thumb. As soon as the boy had finished the entire thing, Garrett released him.

"Had to heal you: I can't blackjack a wounded kid, you know?" he joked. "A healthy one, though…"

The boy of course didn't understand he was jesting, so looked at him with a mix of fear and something else that Garrett didn't quite understand.

Garrett pulled away from his stare. "Seriously," he whispered, "I have to do something to you: if I don't knock you out, you can alert the thugs. If I tie you up and gag you, they'll think it's suspicious that you're the only one I didn't knock out."

The boy didn't answer at first, but stared at him with that same look. Garrett was starting to feel unnerved. What was that look the boy was giving him? What was he supposed to do with him?

The boy leaned forward and softly touched his lips to Garrett's. Garrett was too shocked to do or say anything, so, taking this as a good sign, the boy leaned over again and touched their lips together a second time. Still satisfied with the results, he ran his lips across and kissed Garrett's lower lip. Twice. And then he ran his tongue across the older man's lips, making Garrett's eyes widen and his lips part slightly.

The boy's lips met Garrett's parted ones, and, clasping Garrett's thick neck tightly in his little hands, he leaned his whole body against Garrett's chest as he desperately, passionately locked their lips together.

The boy's body still shook, and his breaths came in short gasps, but it was only partly out of fear this time.

Garrett was still too shocked to understand what was going on, but when the boy began dominating his mouth with his lips and tongue, he finally began to understand.

He managed to get the boy off him after several moments of deep kissing and tongue dancing. Panting a little to catch his breath he looked on with wonder at the boy. So that was that emotion he couldn't read...

The boy didn't intend to leave him alone. He arched his neck back, inviting Garrett to kiss him more. It was a very tempting offer, seeing such passion in such beautiful brown eyes, so, slowly and cautiously, thick pale hands found their way up a thin olive neck to the back of a fluffy black head of hair, while thin pale lips ran across said silky smooth dark olive neck.

The boy gasped and clenched his hands while Garrett's lips made their way to up his neck, to the side of his jaw, across his cheeks and up to his ear, where Garrett softly bit at the fleshy lobe. All the while he ran his big hands through the boy's hair and needily rubbed and massaged the back of his neck.

"Take me with you," the boy begged through gasps. "Please, take me with you. Take me with you."

Garrett stopped what he was doing and lifted the boy, who now had fallen to the ground and was somehow interlocked in his body. "Take me with you," the boy continued, panting, his face contorted with a mix of need, fear and desperation. "I'll be your slave. I'll do anything you say. Just take me with you. Touch me like you do now. I'll sleep on the ground; I'll eat whatever scraps you leave for me. I'll work for you: I'll do whatever you tell me to. Please, please take me from here. Take me away in your arms. Make me yours."

Garrett softly pecked the boy's lips. What had he just done? He was in a den of thieves – ones who had it out for him for a couple years now – and he was just about to stop his mission to make love to a beautiful boy. Said beautiful boy now wanted to follow him.

There were several things wrong with this scene. Firstly, he had and still was putting himself and the boy in grave danger. Secondly, if he understood the situation correctly, it was the boy's grandfather he had just knocked out beside them. Thirdly, again, if he understood the situation properly, this boy was the son of his enemy, whom he had come to defeat. Fourthly, the boy wanted to follow him now. And, fifthly, to make everything more complicated, the boy was…well, a boy...and so was he...

The truth of the matter was that ever since he was younger, Garrett had always loved and wanted Brother Artemus, but Artemus was married to the Keepers. Not only that, Artemus would have been horrified if he had known that another man was in love with him.

And then there was Viktoria: the servant and right-hand woman of the Trickster.

And now there was this boy. Why? Why did he always jump into things? Why did he always fall for the people who either didn't care about him or wanted to hurt him?

Why did he have to fall for guys? He couldn't forgive himself for falling for Artemus, especially after his confession to Keeper Malison led to his expulsion from the Keepers. Now here he was again, with another man.

Garrett sighed deeply and sat up. The boy looked around nervously, wondering what he had done.

"What's your name?" Garrett asked at length.

"Please sir, my name is Enrique."

"Enrique?"

"Yes."

"Enrique Ramirez?"

"Yes sir."

"You are Ramirez's bastard son?"

"Yes sir. ... Are you mad at me?"

"And that is your grandfather?" Garrett asked, nodding toward the fallen man lying on the cold stone floor beside them.

Enrique sniffled and moved away slightly. "Yes."

"You killed your mother?"

Tears swelled out of the boy's already swollen eyes. "Yes."

Garrett brushed his thumb across Enrique's eyes, letting the tears roll down his hand. "How?"

"My grandfather was indebted to Mr. Ramirez, so he gave him his daughter. But my fath- but Mr. Ramirez didn't marry her. He beat her and hurt her and sent her back to the kitchen. He'd beat me a lot, because h wanted a strong son to take over after him. But I was always sick and weak. I was good for nothing. And, and mother would stop him from beating me. So he'd beat her. It was all my fault. It was all my fault…" He cried, tears streaming down his cheeks. As he talked, he began to dig into his arm, just about to draw blood. Garrett grabbed his hand and held it tight in his own. The boy continued to sob, so Garrett brought him close to his chest, and, with big arms, engulfed the boy.

"Don't say things like that," he told him as he kissed his head. "I don't believe it. It was your father and her father, not you. The bastard didn't have to give her away – he was just afraid for his own safety. And Ramirez, well, he's a bastard; always has been. It's no surprise that he hurt her. Both of them are to blame: not you."

"But if I wasn't born –" Enrique began in a whisper.

"If you weren't born, she still would have remembered what happened to her," Garrett interrupted, holding him back so that he could see his face. "Trust me, things like that don't go away." Enrique didn't say anything to counter it, but he still looked away. "If you weren't born, I couldn't have found you," Garrett continued.

"That is a good thing," the boy told him. "I always bring bad luck to everyone I know. I'm bad. Everyone I know and meet is hurt by me."

"Kiss me."

"Huh?"

"Kiss me."

Enrique wiped the tears out of his eyes and slowly leaned forward, touching his lips with the thief's.

"That didn't hurt me," Garrett told him. "Enrique, if you will let me, I will take you out of this den of thieves: I will give you a good home, protection from the Hammers, and lots of food and drink. I will give you a different name, nice clothes, and a warm bed, which, if you will allow me to, I'd like to share with you. I will give you – "

Before he could finish with promises of anything else, Enrique leaned over and kissed him again, this time no longer timid.

Garrett smiled down on him as Enrique rested his head against his chest. "How old are you?"

"Nineteen."

Garrett nodded and ran his fingers through his hair. "I will make you forget this sorrow and fear and blame. You have nothing to blame yourself for, and I will make you realize it. …But, now, I have something to do before I can go: I'm here to bring your father down; I need to find incriminating evidence on him. Is that okay?"

"Grandfather has a couple letters that he took from father's office. I think he was going to blackmail him with them. He keeps them under a floorboard under his bed. I've seen him put them there some times."

Garrett nodded and brought the boy up to his chest. "Come with me. I want you and will do everything I can to make you happy. Everything I already offered to you, I will give you. As for myself, well, I am plain and simple, not the brightest star in the sky. I will give you myself – coarse and barbaric though I am – I will give you my life if you ask it of me. I will give you my shattered soul, my broken and scarred body, and my pleading, needy heart. Could you possibly accept someone like me?"

It wasn't the best of propositions. In fact, to anyone else, Garrett's offer would have sounded really bad – who wants spoiled goods? – but to Enrique, he was a slave in the middle of the wilderness with wolves lurking in every shadow and a god came down and offered him heaven.

His breathing deepened until he thought he was going to faint. He rested his head against Garrett's shoulder and clung tightly onto the thief's shirt. "Take me. Take me anywhere. I will follow. I will obey."

Garrett gently kissed the boy's head and held him tightly against his body.

Enrique took the letters his grandfather was going to use to blackmail his father, he took all the gold his grandfather had been saving up and then rested on his grandfather's bed until Garrett was done looting the place.

Every minute seemed like an hour as he waited for Garrett to return to him, and then, when he heard his father's screech echo down the hall, his heart stopped beating for a moment or two as he imagined that Garrett was dead or mortally wounded. He ran to where he heard the voices just in time to see six guards and his father attack Garrett.

He wasn't quite sure what happened next because everything went white. It took him several seconds before he recovered his vision, and when he did, all seven thieves were on the ground, unconscious, in front of Garrett.

Enrique collapsed to his knees. Surely, this WAS a god he saw before him. No one – no one – no human could do something like that.

The boy could only gaze up in awe at his new lover for a couple minutes before he was grabbed by one arm and thrown over the thief's shoulder.

He was brought into his father's counting room and placed on a table as Garrett kneeled in front of him to pick a locked chest.

Glancing through and pocketing the papers in said chest, Garrett stopped on one. He chuckled slightly as he read it. He lifted it up to Enrique to read: it was a wanted poster Ramirez sent out to his minions for the capture of Garrett.

"Boy, I should have given myself up for that amount," Garrett joked.

"Who is this 'Garrett'?" Enrique asked.

"Me," the thief answered, somewhat taken aback. "Who did you think I was?" Just then he remembered that although the boy had told him his name, he had not yet told the boy his own name.

"A god."

Garrett slipped a dagger off his belt and closed Enrique's hand around it. He then pulled a sleeve up his arm, and, taking Enrique's hand in his, dragged the dagger across the top layer of skin until a blood trail was left behind.

"If I can bleed, I can die."

"But, if you are Garrett, then you killed the Trickster?" Garrett nodded as he shuffled through more papers. "Are you truly not a god to kill another god?"

Garrett smiled and rested his head on Enrique's lap. "Not a god. If anything, more of a demon."

Enrique ran his fingers across the thief's face and gently lifted it up to his so that he could examine it. Garrett blinked several times, slightly unnerved, as people rarely ever saw his face or wanted to look him in the eyes. Enrique's soft hand rubbed over his right brow. "This is the fake eye they talk about?"

Garrett nodded and Enrique brought his lips against the thick brow. "Can you see well out of it now?"

Garrett shook his head yes, and, feeling slightly unnerved, went back to gathering loot. Enrique smiled on him. "It tells of your sacrifice to mankind. Please don't hide it from me. I'm not afraid of it."

Garrett stopped and looked up at him again. Enrique smiled and kissed his right brow.

Garrett pulled the olive-skinned boy down onto his lap and held him close, breathing him in deeply. Who was this strange boy who found him, who dared to look at him, who dared to touch him, who actually wanted him?

Was he really a boy, or was he an angel sent to comfort him?

It was almost dawn when Garrett, one arm full with Enrique and the other with a loot bag knocked on Father Boris's door and entered without an answer. Father Boris just finished lighting a candle when Garrett threw several documents onto the table beside him and was half way out the door.

"I told you not to come in without my permission," the Father grumbled.

"I knocked this time," Garrett told him.

"But you didn't get my permission! … What is that in your hand?"

"Which one?" Garrett asked. Slightly raising the loot bag in one hand he informed him, "This is gold and gems." Nodding toward the other arm on which he held Enrique, who was asleep against his chest, he informed him, "This is treasure. I've been searching for it all my life, chasing after the most beautiful, shiny gems I could find. But they all turned out to be fool's gold. Now, in a pile of pebbles, dirty and chipped, I have found the rarest and purest of gems. I will polish him with my love and I will shine him with comfort and ease, until he glows and sparkles with contentment and joy and all the world recognizes him as the greatest treasure ever found."

And with that the thief and the boy disappeared into the darkness of night, leaving the father alone to shake his head at them.