There will be angst and lots of it. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Nothing at all.

The deep bass thump of techno music was suddenly audible as an innocuous black door was pushed open, revealing, for a few seconds, the wildly flashing lights and gyrating bodies of the dance club within. Two men made their way out of the club and onto the sidewalk, one supporting his much more inebriated partner. As they turned a nearby corner, most likely heading towards a parking garage of some sort, the less intoxicated of the two leant down to whisper something in the other's ear, earning a fit of laughter from the other man. The pair exuded an air of light-heartedness and a care-free existence. The two men were so wrapped up in the sheer pleasure of each other's company that both failed to notice as they passed by a lanky blonde teenager leaning up against the plate-glass windows of nearby storefront.

Mihael Keehl sighed and dragged the toe of one pristinely white sneaker across the gritty sidewalk as he continued to watch the two men who had just emerged from the club. They looked so … happy. Happy was not an emotion Mihael felt equipped to deal with. Contentment, maybe. Satisfaction, possibly. But happiness? He wasn't sure he had been happy in years; not since he was a small child and blissfully ignorant of the world around him.

Now Mihael didn't think these things to be melodramatic, or to get sympathy. It wasn't an angst-induced pity party. To Mihael, these were just cold, solid facts. Facts were something he could wrap his head around. Facts he could study, and pick apart, and learn from. Emotions, like happiness, those were… inherently more difficult.

Down the street, the door to the club swung open again to eject several more men in varying stages of drunkenness. Mihael tensed, half hoping the men would walk in the opposite direction from where he was standing, and half hoping they would pass him so he could study them more closely. He couldn't deny the slight feeling of disappointment when the men took the former route, presenting him with only a receding view of their backsides.

This was how it happened every time that Mihael lurked outside the club. He had never, not once in the last year and a half that he had been coming here, been able to work up the courage to enter. Sure, he had imagined it many times. In his imagination, he marched straight up to that brooding black door, pushed it open, and entered the throng of partygoers, losing himself among the lights and the sounds and the sensations of being completely, unimaginably free.

But he knew himself too well. He knew that particular scenario would never happen. Instead, he hung back in the shadows a short way down the street, heart leaping a little in excitement when the intoxicated, (and usually) beautiful men would pass him by. Then he could imagine, if only for a short while, that he was one of them. Laughing and open and free, with nothing weighing down the edges of his mind. No voices in the back of his head screaming about morality and hell and fire and brimstone.

Mihael concentrated on scraping the toe of his other sneaker across the sidewalk as well, making matching dirt stains on the white canvas. Mother would be angry. She would demand to know how he expected others to have respect for him if he didn't even have respect for his own appearance. Mother- the voice in the back of his head- was always screaming at him for something. If only she knew.

If only she knew the places Mihael frequented in his most private daydreams (and ones at night too). For that matter, if she only knew about the places he went in real life. Mother didn't even like him going into the city; he couldn't imagine her reaction if she knew of his habit of lurking outside a gay bar.

Not that Mihael was gay. He wasn't, of course. Even the word felt foreign to him; it glued his tongue to the roof of his mouth and choked him a little when he said it. Mihael was most certainly not gay. Sure, he had never had a girlfriend (or been interested in any girl), but that was only because the correct one had yet to come along. But he was young, only seventeen. There was plenty of time for him still. No, Mihael was not gay- probably.

But even he, with his sizable intellect, couldn't rationalize his odd habit of staring down the patrons of the bar. He couldn't give a reason for the twinges he felt when he saw a happy couple emerge from the door, arms wrapped tight around one another. He didn't have a name for the feeling in the pit of his stomach when he watched lovers exchange looks and kisses. To be honest, he was hoping these feelings would pass in time.

Because Mihael Keehl was not allowed to be gay. Mihael Keehl was a good Catholic boy, who lit candles and went to mass and prayed on his rosary. Mihael did not curse, or think impure thoughts (except on nights like tonight). He didn't skip school, he never talked back, and he had perfect grades. In short, Mihael was a dream-come-true for his- or any- very religious parents.

But oh, how Mother and Father would react if they knew his secret. That sometimes, the voice of the priest during mass was replaced in his head by another male voice, whispering suggestive things that made the hair on the back of his neck stand up. And other times, when fingering a bead on his rosary, he imagined that instead he running his hands through another man's hair.

But Mihael was always quick to shove those thoughts to the back of his mind. He only allowed them free reign- sort of- on nights like tonight, when he took his mother's car under the pretense of studying at a friend's house, and drove down the seedier parts of the city, all so he could hang around a night club and try to further convince himself of his own sexuality.

Mihael sighed and ran a hand through his short, blonde hair. The hand came away slightly damp with sweat, and for the first time, he noticed that his polo shirt was clinging to his skin. The month of May in Dallas, Texas. Mihael hated it. He hated the smog that hung over the otherwise beautiful city, seeming to solidify with the early summer humidity. Normally, he loved the city. The skyline was beautiful and there was never a lack of something interesting going on. But during the summer… that was a different story. The heat was oppressive and the humidity stuck to the skin and entered the lungs and clung to the city like a wet, warm blanket. Even at night, it was only slightly cooler. The brief reprieve from the sun's direct rays was never quite enough to cool down a Texas summer.

Time for some good old-fashioned air conditioning. Mihael glanced at his wristwatch. It was also time to start heading home. Mother would be upset if he wasn't home by midnight, and he didn't need to give her any reason to question his whereabouts.

He briskly made his way down the sidewalk, heading for the side street where he had parked the car, when a muffled cry reached his ears. Without stopping to think over the stupidity of entering an alley unarmed and in this section of town at night, he turned toward the source of the noise.

There was a man, no older than twenty five, lying on his side in the alley. His face and his clothes were a mess of blood, and Mihael instantly ran forward and knelt down, meaning to ask this stranger what had happened. Too late, he noticed the two other menacing figures, one with the glint of a knife in his hand, sharing the space of the alley with them.

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