Pt. 1: Why?

Contains non-explicit slash (meaning: male same-sex relationships), if you don't like it then don't read, if you'd still choose to read then don't complain in reviews about it. You've been warned

To understand what's going on I recommend that you read the comic first if you haven't already. Link to site hosting it (webcomic) can be found on my profile.

Summary: Steffan contemplates why he isn't enough for Anton.

Disclaimer: Characters or places from the Masque of the Red Death don't belong to me

Since he'd gone to bed that night he had counted the minutes, counted the hours, hoping that his absent lover would join him that night. Before he fell asleep.

For the last few nights he'd gone to bed alone before everybody else, not that anybody had noticed – especially Anton seemed oblivious, and he would fall asleep alone to wake up and find Anton resting in the bed sleeping peacefully.

Sighing Steffan threw off the quilt and wandered out onto the terrace, where he sat down on the steps. The same steps they had been sitting on the night Anton had told him about the attomons.

It seemed so close, yet so distant. Like it had been just yesterday that he'd been sitting there cradling Anton in his arms wondering how he, after having stabbed himself, could be so calm. But with the level of disinterest Anton showed now it might as well have been years ago.

His eyes drifted over the water toward the great city on its shore, there among the many buildings was one that he for the past twenty three years had called home. He'd felt safe, and loved, at least till he had finally thought that his mother in her quest for wealth and higher social status had gone too far. But Steffan had held his silence, just doing or saying what was expected of him.

Arriving at Penumbra he had felt excited, there was a chance that he after all those years since they'd last seen each other could get to know Anton. But there had also been that sense of foreboding as he guessed the underlying reason that his mother had agreed to Anton's invitation hadn't had to do with science, he remembered wondering how that would affect the relationship he hoped he and Anton would develop.

Here a new sense of security had grown in him and he'd thought that this would be a fresh start to his struggling life, and that feeling had lasted… all till the party had started and Steffan had noticed that his lover had his eyes for other than him.

Why did he need those others? Why wasn't he enough for Anton?

Steffan sighed. In mere days he'd gone from feeling safe to feeling just as lost and confused as he had before Penumbra, and with that he'd fallen back to be that quiet, passive person who didn't voiced it when he felt that he was being wronged.

Searching the cityscape again his thoughts went to his mother. He wondered how she was doing. Was she still angry with him, or maybe she had forgiven him? No, Steffan knew his mother well enough to know that she would not forgive that easily. She could hold a grudge longer than anybody else he knew.

So, did that mean that he was all alone? He certainly felt that way.

Shivering slightly as cool night air touched the bare skin of his arms, he cast one last glance at the city before he rose and returned inside. Once inside he stood looking toward the bed, undecided, and then he turned and instead he walked up to the armchair in front of the fireplace.

Maybe Anton's wandering attention was something temporary, Steffan thought, something that would pass if you just gave it some time, and then he would come back…

A fool's hope

"But hope nevertheless," he replied, a quiet whisper, to the voice that had spoken up in his mind. "It's all I have right now."

There was no response. Maybe he'd just imagined it, his tired mind playing games with him.

In the silence that followed the brief monologue Steffan gazed upon the dancing flames that were spreading an orange glow over the room and that slowly warmed his body and, him barely being aware of it, his eyes closed as the young man drifted off into a much needed but uneasy sleep.

It was little more than an hour before dawn when Anton finally entered the bedroom. He had had a very productive night and he was feeling very good about himself.

He got undressed, not for the first time that night which he noted to himself smiling lazily, and was about to get into the bed when he noticed that the quilt had been thrown aside, as if someone had been lying there and then got up.

His eyes immediately sought the fireplace or rather the armchair in front of it. Already knowing what he would see he went over, and as he'd expected it was Steffan half-sitting half-lying there in the chair his feet resting on a footstool.

Anton wasn't at all surprised. He'd found Steffan like that for the past two nights too, sleeping in front of the slowly dying fire a slight frown on his face.

Shaking his head Anton turned away and headed back for the bed. He didn't understand what was going on with Steffan, why he had been so withdrawn lately, but he hoped that the other would get over it soon. Seeing him move about looking all gloomy went a distance to take the edge of the party.

It was for Steffan the party was held, and as far as Anton could tell he had been looking forward to it, so what was that sad-faced thing about?

Ah, well…

Pushing the thought aside he fell in a deep and dreamless sleep.