Like minds 4.

The Spade kisses his Jack for the first time in the dusty, crowded space of the church' storageroom. It's not ideal, but it's the truth. It's not the way Alex imagined his first kiss being like, but that's how it happens.

Alex had been trying to do his goddamn job and put things away as fast as he humanly could after the play's weekly practise is done when Nigel, unsurprisingly, appears into the doorway that leads to the stairs. It's not the first time he's come to intervene with Alex' work. Or his life. Even his head's not left in peace.

"Working hard?" Alex doesn't dignify the question with a answer.

Nigel sighs good-naturedly; "Unfitting job for a man like yourself, wouldn't you say?"

Alex turns to the window and sets the candlestick to it's place on the wobly shelf next to it. Hands appear on his shoulders, light, yet determined.

"Jack, Jack, Jack," the other boy chants, while gently kneading the flesh of Alex' tight shoulders, and when Alex half-heartedly tries to shrug the imposing hands off, Nigel doesn't let him. In all honesty, Alex is not in the mood for another debate –an argument – so he keeps his tongue. It's difficult though, the other boy is taking liberties again. But even if he didn't keep silent and ignore the other boy Nigel wasn't one who got easily intimidated and hardly minded Alex' biting words when he lost his cool and resorted to them in every once in a while.

But now when Alex tries to lean away from the hands, merely on long practised reflex, the pair of them stop him from continuing his work with surprising strenght Alex hadn't believed those arms could've possessed. So Nigel stops him, interrupts again. And he says this name that's not even Alex' and spins him around. Alex let's him, he's in co-operative mood today anyway. It's as he'd conclued a second ago –he doesn't feel like fighting today. So he turns, not curious, but cautious.

He expects words, something that he hardly understands and doesn't make sense, but instead he gets lips. Nigel's lips on his. And it's not passionate, it's not a confession of a undisclosed love or affections, but a simple kiss, slow and easy.

Nigel is shorter than him and so the other boy uses one of his clever hands to grap a hold of Alex' hair, and tugs. The hand he's placed in Alex' hair and on the back of his head is not forceful, nor is it urgently dragging him down to smash their lips tighter together.

"Here," it seems to say, gently guiding Alex' head down, "like this."

Was it a test? It felt like one. Actually, on Alex' experience on the other boy it would be just like him to mess with Alex like that. It already felt like his thougths were scattered and in tatters, but now, his feelings too. Atleast right now. Had Nigel set out to complitely drive him mad, he wondered.

But weirdly enough it's almost like even though Nigel's slowly making him loose it –himself, he's still, somehow, making him whole too. He makes good for the so called damage he does, fills up the empty spaces inside of Alex and finishes his thougths. So somehow it's alright too.

And anyway, it's more like a game than a test. A game in which Nigel's holding the winning hand and knows exactly what kind of a set of cards the other by is holding as well. He has the Jack of Spades, of course, but eveything else is uncertain, undecided though they're swiftly moving towards a purpose of some sort. Alex feels this and he's sure the other boy feels it too, and that he propably knows and understands it better than Alex ever could. In a funny way –no, Alex found nothing fun in being prompted and led towards something he didn't fully understand. It was almost like he was uncoherent or half-witted around Nigel, sure, he fought and cursed him, but he didn't fully understand. Nigel did though, always had. He'd fucking courted Alex, danced that idiotic dance of his around him earlierly and gotten Alex mixed up with him, their minds tangled in a way that could only lead into trouble. Or to eternity.

So was it some ridiculous act of kindness, an un-Nigel like attempt to make him feel better about it all? That question, the enigma that Nigel still was to him, made his chest ache more in his mind than those lips on his did. He burned, but not from desire. Because of his stupid fears, most likely. But not that he'd ever admit it.

Then Nigel falls back just as easily and fast as he'd moments ago leaned to kiss Alex, then cups the side of the still startled boy's cheek in the surprisingly soft palm on his hand.

"Breathe, Jack," he sniggers under his breath with a weird sort of humour coloring his voice.

It's true, Alex is pretty much frozen to place, his feett rooted to the cold concrete floor of the room and his breath stolen. It hadn't even been a lengthy one, the kiss, not the kind that was granted to steal away the last ounce of air from your lugns and leave you gasping. No, it'd been nothing like that.

But before Alex manages to tell Nigel that he's gone too far this time and for the thousand time tell him that his name is Alex, Nigel's eyes skirt past his face and over his shoulder. Alex follows his gaze by turning his head to the window, still foolishly pliant under Nigel's touch. That hand on his cheek feels anythig but foreign, even if it came as a surprise.

A group of girls stand outside the window. They had propably been passing by just now and on their way home, but now they're all just as frozen to their place as Alex was a heartbeat or a two ago –still kinda is. They stare, pretty mouths slightly it's not just any group of girls, but Susan and her friends.

Alex curses under his breath, finally pushing Nigel off and stomps up the stairs without a looking back. There's work to be done and surely Nigel can find something else to do to amuse himself than tease Alex. So he goes, but Nigel stays behind, smiles and gives the girls a deceivingly friendly wave. The group hurriedly scatters off as if it were they who had been caught.

And that's the time when Alex nearly lost his Maraclea due to his foolish, yet driven Spade.

2.

The second time the Spade steals a kiss from Alex is weeks later, and Alex is hardly even aware of it. Actually, it could as well have been a dream. A ridiculously vivid dream, but a dream no less.

Susan is dead. Well, as good as dead. He knows this, knows he's going to be a suspect though they will have no solid proof on him. When the that time will come he will also know who really did it. He will knows it's Nigel. Alex knows that they need to do certain things to achieve their goal. Necessary means to an end, Nigel had said. And it's true, Alex is well aware of that. And it's not like he feels regret beforehand, no –this needed to be done. Sure, he quite fancied the girl, that was the reason she was chosen. She had gotten the short end of the stick so to say, but what's done was done. The decission was made. She was to be his Maraclea.

Then, all of sudden, the realization that it was probably happening right now, that Susan's life might be ending at this very minute, made his stomach turn. It wasn't a feeling of disgust twisting deep inside his belly, but some weird form of anticipation. Whatever it was it left the tip of his fingers tingling and his thoughts a mush. Alex was through trying to categorize the strange sensations and feelings he'd been forced to face and battle with ever since he met Nigel. And now, when their pact was about to be sealed with blood which would be on both of their hands, his head spun with overwhelming nervousness.

There was no need to worry. Nigel had steely, steady hands and was more than capable to do the job. Alex trusted him, this had nothing to do with that.

Necessary means to an end, he repeats to himself in his head and the words – that simple sentence is a heavy burden to carry. Words should be weightless, thoughts too. But somehow, they're dragging him down, making him second guess his choises, their choises.

So it's granted that he's been sleeping fitfully for the past night or two, never really falling into that wonderful state of oblivion sleep usually grants you. No, he's not getting any of that. But he's tired and his brain demands him to do something about it, creating a vicious headache in the progress, so he tries.

It's not long after the curfew when he hears his door swing open and then being pushed back closed. He's so disorientated that he figures it might've just been the wind against the old glass of his window and that he's just imagining things when the outer side of the narrow bed dibs.

Alex almost curses outloud. He's not going anywhere, not tonight. Nigel could just suck it up and forget whatever plan he had in mind this time. He wasn't up for any of it, not tonight. He wasn't grieving, but he needed a break.

Surprisingly, there's no 'Jack, come on, wake up,' but instead Nigel greets him with uncharacteristic silence. It's a familiar dance –Nigel barging into his room that is, but this time something's different. The other boy is breaking his own rules, in a way. He's just sitting there, seemingly without any real agenda or purpose. Alex is sure that he's staring down at him, but he doesn't feel like opening his eyes. He's tired, after all. Dead tired.

There might not be any real purpose for Nigel's visit, but there's a hand. A hand that lands on Alex' forehead and brushes away the strands of hair there. Nigel then presses his fingers to the crease between Alex' brows as if questioning it with the simple touch. And it's weird, Alex hadn't even noticed he was scruntching up his forehead or that he looked troubled or whatever Nigel thought he was.

A kiss follows the touch, short and sweet and it barely even lands on Alex' pliant mouth in the dark. He forgives it, the miscalculation, and relaxes under the soothing touches. Nigel is still gently rubbing his forehead with his index finger in a way that almost indicates that he's trying to releive whatever stress Alex has, but that'd be wierd.

So not like Nigel. No –it was kind of like Nigel, just not his job nor duty.

It crosses his mind just as he's drifting into the long awaited sleep, if he was worthy of his Spade.

3.

Their last kiss is even more further away from ideal than the first. Alex fits his lips against against Nigel's already cold ones in a desperate attempt to breathe somesort of life into the boy. It's impossibe, he knows, but he tries. He tries once, twice, and shifts his head, planting a prompting peck to Nigel's cheek. He keeps reassuring himself that this is not goodbye.

But his hands are rapidly becoming wetter, and not with rain, which makes him gain new perspective. Redder too, even in the dim lighting Alex is able to regognize the vivid color of it. He sees Nigel dead, a hole in his neck and blood everywhere. He looks, and he cannot believe it to be true.

Alex spends a few moments to collect Nigel's now broken form into his lap carefully, craddles it gently and smoothes the bit ruffled, wet strands of hair properly into their place. The vivid color of blood is staining everything, the pool of it steadily spreading underneath them. Widening, swallowing them in the reddness of it. Alex holds back the need to gag at the sight of the color that means eternity.

There's a faint smell of blood in the air, he's focerd to notice. It and the smell of rain blend together into a obscure mixture Alex doupts he'll never forget. He's used to the blood part of it, it comes with the job. It comes with Nigel. And it's needed to gain eternity. A spear cannot serve his master otherwise, it is, in the end of the day; an impliment for killing.

But now Alex is without his Spade and he grieves, illogically, when the other now had everything they ever wanted. He plants another wet kiss to Nigel's mouth and tries to remember just that. It's te last one they'll ever share, and yet it's nothing but a ugly smack of lips, Nigel's unresponsive ones giving under his, and Alex half-sobs into his mouth.

And he hopes.