Summary: Ivan is a photographer who one day discovers that an old bully and heartthrob of his, Gilbert, models for various magazines. Eager to reunite with him, Ivan gets a job as Gilbert's private photographer. But Gilbert is not the same as Ivan remembers him and many things have changed. Gilbert's rich boss and lover (invisible OC) controls and abuses him. Throughout his stay at Gilbert's luxury home, Ivan will do all that he can to remind Gilbert of who he really is and that everyone deserves a second chance. Especially at love. But will Gilbert want to change, and can Ivan show him what a real relationship is?
***Okay, so, this is my new RusPrus fic! It is also my first full-length modern day fic! Now, there will be bullying scenes in this fic, both past and present. Gilbert will still continue to bully Ivan throughout the story. Also, as I stated in the summary, Gilbert's invisible OC lover will NEVER make an apparence in this fic. He will only be referred to or mentioned. But this will be a feel-good fic! I promise! Anyway, please read on and enjoy! Read and Review, please! And special thanks to my beta for all her hard work!
***Warnings: Bullying, language, mention of abuse
***Disclaimer: I do not own Hetalia. I am making no money off of this fic.
It was shaping out to be a very bad day.
Ivan Braginski cursed the rainstorm that decided to hit right as he was heading home. When he had chosen to carpool with one of his orchestra friends, the sun had been shining. His friend had to leave early, which left Ivan alone to take the bus or hail a cab. The bus stop was the nearest mode of transportation but he had missed the current round. Cursing softly again, and choosing not to wait in the rain, Ivan attempted to hail a cab. Three cabs drove past him without even bothering to look, or make an attempt to stop. He wished desperately that he had chosen to drive. Ivan's only option was to wait for the next bus to come. Refusing to wait in the rain with the other people he chose to wander into a corner drug store and dry off. No one offered to hold the narrow door as he tried to wrestle himself and his cello case through. People took the time to look at him, but no one offered to help. At least he didn't have his camera equipment.
The clerk refused to hold his cello case behind the counter, so Ivan was forced to guide it through the narrow aisles. He stopped at the magazine stand to rest his cello, fix his jacket, and check his phone. Luckily he didn't have any photo shoots until tomorrow evening. If he showed up for a ceremony like this he would be fired on the spot. Ivan did everything from birthday parties to weddings to grand openings and even private photo shoots. Before choosing to become an actual photographer, Ivan wanted to work in forensics, taking pictures of dead bodies and crime scenes. However, he didn't like the strange stimulation he felt from such work when he looked further into it. The feeling had disturbed even him, so he focused his talents on social ceremonies instead.
Scanning the magazine rack his eyes fell upon the photography section, which was extremely limited for this sort of shop. Out of the two to choose from they were both raunchy in title, but the photography skill was decent. The first magazine portrayed various women in suggestive poses and skimpy clothing. The airbrushing was too extreme for his tastes, and it was also poorly done. He put the magazine back in its place and picked up the next, but this one was different. Pale brows lifted when he realized it was targeted to gay males. Normally something of this nature was housed behind the counter with cigarettes, and yet this particular one was in the open. Looking at the young man on the cover, Ivan could recognize the soft-core theme to it, much like the other.
Ivan flipped through its pages, stopping on occasion to look at a picture, a comment, or a heading. He found himself smirking or chuckling at some of the cheesy taglines and comments. Of course, people who chose to read this genre is not looking for the articles no matter how much they insist on it. Ivan did prefer men to women, but currently was not dating anyone. He never had a real relationship before, only a few blind dates and coffee meets. Ivan was also too busy with his work and career to focus on a relationship. Besides, there was a certain person he was looking for, or rather, someone who could come close to 'that' person. Ivan had yet to find them, until he came upon page 86 in the magazine. He stared. His mouth dropped open and his breath stilled. There was no mistaking it. The young man in the photo was Gilbert Beilschmidt.
Gilbert was an old school mate of his, high school in particular. He was Ivan's biggest bully from freshman to senior year. Gilbert was the ringleader of a group of bullies, which were your basic high school thugs. They were the most popular with the student body as well as the teachers. Gilbert's charismatic personality and friendly way enabled him to get away with murder. That was, of course, if he LIKED you. A star soccer athlete, a diligent student, and a 'friend to everyone', Gilbert had it all. Ivan had a few friends who were in the band with him, but he was never as popular as Gilbert was. Even to this day, Ivan still held feelings for his old tormentor. It was a curious matter he never had an answer to, for a person generally did not like or fall in love with their abusers. If he had wanted Ivan was certain he could have beaten Gilbert black and blue, but it wasn't what he wanted. He had thought about it back then, yet he feared he would lose Gilbert's attention. It had been so long since he had last thought about those days in high school and now they were coming back. And so was the bus.
"Ah!" Ivan quickly grabbed his cello case, threw money onto the counter for the magazine, and rushed back out into the rain. He was able to get on the bus before the door closed and pay the bit of change needed. Of course, the bus was full so he was forced to stand in the back with his large cello case and a rolled up gay man magazine in his pocket. Too bad he had to stand or he would have taken the time to look at Gilbert's pictures and ads in the magazine.
After a rather long bus ride his stop had finally come up and he rang the bell. People glared at him as he maneuvered his cello case carefully through the narrow aisle, apologizing to anyone whose feet he stepped on. Ivan thanked the bus driver as he got off and began to walk the block to his apartment building. Thrilled to finally be inside the entryway, he shook himself like a dog and gave out a sigh of relief. The landlord greeted him in the lobby as he always did, asking about Ivan's day. Ivan simply replied that it went well and how much he needed a hot shower to take off the chill of the rain. Gawking at Gilbert's photos would have to wait.
Ivan's apartment was large for just one person but he needed most of the extra space for his camera equipment. He had a limited amount of furniture in the rooms but his walls were covered with framed photographs, either his own or another's. Even though there were two bedrooms, Ivan only used the one up on the balcony facing down to the living room. The other room would be more useful to hold a bed instead Ivan stashed all of his photo equipment there. He was a well-respected photographer, which entitled him to higher pay, yet his apartment was very simple. Ivan rarely spent his money on trivial things, although, he did allow for jet streams to be placed inside his tub. So instead of a shower, he decided to take a long relaxing bath to warm up…and look at Gilbert's magazine.
Settling down in the heated bubbles with a glass of vodka, Ivan carefully flipped back to the page with Gilbert's picture. The first thing Ivan noticed was not how beautiful Gilbert was, but rather how different he looked. It could be the effects of Photoshop and airbrushing, but Gilbert appeared to have lost his athletic build. However, it had been at least ten years since they have been out of high school and a lot could change within a decade. Gilbert was always fit and healthy, yet did not have that appearance in the photo. His lithe, perfectly pale and flawless form was stretched out on a picnic blanket, his fingers and limbs covered with smeared whipped cream. Ivan had to have a chuckle at the scene setup, but couldn't expect much from a magazine of this humorous caliber. Regardless of everything else in the picture, Ivan was still transfixed by Gilbert's gorgeousness.
"I wonder if you are still the same Gilbert that I remember?" He took a sip, nearly spitting it out when he read the name under the picture. " 'Hase Weissenstein'? Is that his alias?" Ivan chuckled. "I will have to translate that later." He took another sip of vodka before he turned the page, revealing smaller photos of Gilbert. His eyes sparkled at one particular photo of Gilbert in a silky black top hat with only white gloves, tight black pants, and a pair of spats. "That's strangely adorable." Ivan gave a happy smile and turned the page, finding a fold out photo between the pages. Curious, he unfolded the silky paper to reveal a calendar for the month of January. The photo above the boxed numbers made his heart stop and his breath catch in his throat. His groin started to stir to life as he gazed longingly upon the choice of picture.
Gilbert was photographed and touched up in the classic 'pin-up girl' style of the 1940's. He was posed on his knees and to the side, looking at the camera with the sweetest expression. On his head he adorned a pair of white fuzzy bunny ears that matched the rest of the outfit. The short midriff shirt barely covered his chest and the right cap sleeve was draped low on his arm. The shorts had a round fluffy tail attached to the back but the cutest part had to be the white socks with a little pink bow on the fold. Ivan would have to rip this out, scan copies of it, and carry one everywhere with him. The big one would go on his refrigerator.
But as stimulating as the picture was, Ivan found himself questioning Gilbert's choice of work. He remembered a different kind of Gilbert, one who was extremely obnoxious, proud, and crude. Ivan began to think back to his high school days when Gilbert and his cronies would bully him. The man looking cute and seductively at him in this picture was not the same snarky face that looked down on him many times. Ivan could remember looking up at Gilbert as the student's sneaker was on his chest, laughing cruelly at him. All of the name-calling started to come back to him as well. Gilbert would call him things like 'fat' and 'ugly'. The most commonly used one was 'pudgy polar bear', or during gym class, 'hairy Yeti'. Gilbert would often trip him, shove him into lockers, steal his homework, put gum in his hair (sometimes glue), and the worst was the chalk dust. Gilbert would sneak up behind him and clap the erasers in front of his face, making him sneeze uncontrollably. Since Ivan had a big nose along with sneezing fits, Gilbert sometimes threw the tissue box at his head, claiming he needed ALL of them.
These were memories he hadn't thought about in very long, and he found himself dropping the magazine to the floor to sink further in the tub. He closed his eyes and tried to let the sound of the jets soothe and relax him. Ivan only found his mind wandering back to the past where he was attending his third day as a freshman, his first high school year. It had snowed that morning, so Ivan proudly wore his scarf and heavy argyle sweater, one of his favorites. Upon entering the cafeteria for study hall, Ivan could remember exactly what table Gilbert and his group was sitting at. He could even picture their clothing. But this would be his first experience with bullying from Gilbert. Ivan could still remember the exact words spoken:
"Hey, pudgy! You must be a nerdy band geek or somethin'!" Gilbert smirked at him from his lounging spot against the chairs. "Look at that sweater! Yuck! It's a disgrace to everything awesome!"
Ivan looked at him, but simply turned away to sit at another table.
"HEY! FATTY! I'm talking to ya! I got a question!" Ivan turned and looked at him without a word. "Guess what's awesome about this school? Our vending machines got great snacks! I bet you like donuts, hm?" He smirked and picked one up from the plastic container holder. "I bet you'll chase them if I throw one! FETCH!" Gilbert threw the powdered donut in Ivan's direction, but Ivan just let the snack hit the floor in a puff of white. Gilbert and his group laughed, slapping their hands on the tables. Ivan just walked to the far end of the cafeteria, took out his books, and silently studied.
"I haven't thought about that day in forever." He said to himself as he came up from the water. "That was only one day, too." He slumped over the side of the tub with a sigh. "Why would I be attracted to that kind of person?" Looking at the photo of Gilbert again made Ivan smile. "You were so private about your personal life, Gilbie. I know you had your reasons and were just acting out over something you couldn't control." Ivan knew that logically it wasn't an excuse to bully, but he could assume as much in Gilbert's case. "I have to see him again."
The need to see his tormentor had him standing outside the studio building where Gilbert was said to be doing a shoot. Ivan had called around to a few agencies asking about Gilbert, and one of his colleagues told him where the man would be doing his next shoot. It was for 'Skin-Boy Magazine', a company he had never heard of yet was standing outside the studio door. He had no trouble getting in for he knew many of the staff workers here. A few magazine and clothing catalog companies shared the same building, but Ivan had never been to this wing before. He wandered around the floor until he found the photo area. Lights were flashing as the photos were being taken but he was used to it. Four different shoots were happening together so he hoped one was Gilbert.
"Hase! Look this way!" Ivan heard someone say Gilbert's alias and followed the voice. Ivan had translated Gilbert's name from German, discovering it was 'Hare Whitestone'. 'Hare' was obviously for the rabbit theme Gilbert was associated with, and 'white stone' was for his alabaster skin. Appropriate, but cheesy. Yet what could he expect from such a genre? Readers didn't care about names, only about the person in the photo. "Doin' good, Hase!" Ivan finally found the source of the voice.
Sure enough, there on the white backdrop, stood Gilbert seductively posing for the cameraman. Ivan stopped to admire him, starting with the long white legs half hidden inside knee-high black boots. Black leather shorts framed his pert ass just right and the matching corset had Ivan licking his lips.
"Which way should I stand?" Gilbert asked, moving to pose when the command was given.
Ivan continued to watch the shoot until the cameraman gave Gilbert the leave to go. He watched the man (or rather his ass) as he disappeared into a dressing room. Ivan smiled and literally skipped after him, stopping at the dressing room door to knock. When no one answered, Ivan knocked again.
"Get lost!" Came Gilbert's voice. "I don't want to be bothered for the next fifteen minutes!"
Ivan smiled and cleared his throat. "Gilbert Beilschmidt, may I come in, please? I would like to speak with you about a few things." Ivan leaned his ear against the door and heard footsteps coming towards him. He moved away when it opened and Gilbert's makeup filled face peeked around. In the dressing room lighting the makeup was obvious. "Hello!" Ivan grinned.
"How do you know my real name?" Gilbert was forced to stand aside as the other pushed into the room.
"I guess you don't remember me, but I'm Ivan Braginski. We went to high school together. Nottingham High, class of '03."
Gilbert just stared at him. "Nope. Don't remember you."
Ivan frowned and his shoulders slumped. "You really don't remember me? Not at all?" He watched as Gilbert just shrugged his shoulders and went back to the vanity mirror.
"I speak to only two people from high school. I don't remember anybody else." He looked at Ivan through the mirror. "You must not have been important enough for me to remember you."
Ivan frowned sadly. "Well, I have to say that I'm fairly surprised you do not know who I am for you bullied me every day. It was your favorite pastime in school." He saw those pink eyes glance at him through the mirror.
"I really, really don't remember. But if I did, then I'm sorry. Kids do stupid things, but you're clearly an adult now so get over it." He rubbed the makeup off with some cold cream on a cloth. "We're all stupid in high school." Gilbert noticed Ivan staring at him, and he gave a heavy frown. "What? What more do you want? What are the hell are you looking at?"
The larger man walked over to the vanity. "You have a black eye."
Gilbert looked in the mirror. "Yeah? So what? I fell in the living room and hit the coffee table corner. This is why we have cover-up." He sighed. "I had to get this fucking makeup off my face, it was itchy."
"Oh, and by the way, your photo shoot just now was marvelous!" Ivan smiled "You did very well." When he reached out to touch him, Gilbert quickly shied away and twitched. Ivan pulled his hand back, surprised. He could tell by the look on Gilbert's face that the man knew what he did and tried to hide it.
"I had a chill, that's all. I'm half dressed and the dressing room is cold as balls!"
Something was wrong and Ivan knew it right off the bat. No one flinches so swiftly like that from a 'chill'. They shake, not shy away. Ivan was certain the black eye came from a person, not a coffee table. The man didn't even crack a REAL smile since they have been talking. Something had happened in the last ten years to change his high school heartthrob. While Gilbert was still rough and cruel, Ivan saw a hidden sadden within those pink pools. But Gilbert seemed to notice his concerned staring and snapped his fingers.
"Hey buddy! Take a picture, it will- Oh wait, I guess you're a fucking photographer too, right?"
Ivan smiled. "I am. That is also why I am here. I was so inspired by your form, poise, and beauty that I would like to take some photos of my own." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a business card case. "Here is my card," he handed it Gilbert "I can do almost any sort of picture, but I refrain from nude or raunchy ones." He hoped that his dislike of public seductive pictures would appeal to Gilbert. "I have my website link on the bottom as well. Feel free to visit and see my work."
Gilbert looked at the card, scoffed, and crumpled it with one hand. He tossed it into the wastebasket beside the vanity. "First off, Ivan, I don't come cheap. Second," he held up two fingers "YOU can get in touch with MY agent. Three, my agent will discuss everything with my boss. After that, then maybe we'll talk. Let me give you my agent's card." He smirked and picked one out from his messenger bag. "Nice to have seen you again since high school, Ivan. You can go now."
"Wow, you really have changed since high school, Gilbert." Gilbert turned and glared at him but said nothing. "I remember the type of person you were in high school. You were strong, smart, charismatic, and funny. You were also on the soccer team and your number was 21. You were so good at soccer that you had scored the most goals within our last school year. While you were troublemaker, you were very popular among teachers and students. You even got good grades! You are the most popular guy in school! Each year the most popular girl always asked you to the junior and senior dance. During our junior year you were even voted our Winter Ball king."
"You know an awful lot about me and I find that really weird." He glared. "I still don't remember you but I do apologize for the bullying, even if I don't recall doing it."
"Well at least you're allowing me to talk to your agent so I can take some pictures of you. I just want some nice shots of you, you know, like in the sports magazine you first started modeling in."
Gilbert's eyes widened. "Okay, you have officially creeped me out, Ivan. You're starting to sound like a stalker."
Ivan smiled. "I promise you that I am not a stalker, Gilbert. We're more like old friends and I really do respect you. And it's not just because you're beautiful."
Gilbert scoffed. "I know I'm good-looking, that's nothing new." He turned back to the vanity. "If you don't mind, I have to finish putting on my makeup to hide this black eye. I have one more shot before I can go home and would like to get this show on the road."
"Of course." Responded Ivan. "I'm glad we were able to see one another after so long. I do hope we can spend more time together and catch up."
"Yeah, whatever." Gilbert sat back at the vanity and proceeded to put on some more cover up.
Ivan gave him one last longing look before he left the room with a sigh. Gilbert's massive change in personality had startled him, and Ivan had to learn more about him. He looked at the agent's card, reading the name and number. This agency company was a big name in the entertainment business, but it was not an easy one to get in. Gilbert must know someone on the higher end of the entertainment world to reach this far. Tucking the card safely in his pocket, Ivan left the studio to have a coffee in a nearby shop. While there, he would make the call and would, without a doubt, schedule a time to see Gilbert properly.
Gilbert placed the green bean casserole in the center of the large cherry wood dining table. Along with the good china, he put out the pure silver eating utensils and folded the cloth napkins. There was a bottle of white wine chilling in the center and a fresh fruit salad beside it. Gilbert didn't care for wine, but his 'wonderful' boyfriend and boss wouldn't drink anything else. Beer was forbidden in the house in all its forms and flavors. The only time Gilbert was allowed beer was when his boss left for a business trip. Tonight, his 'wonderful' lover wanted to have a nice quiet dinner together but it had to be a meal that Gilbert cooked. Gilbert was a decent chef, yet nowhere as skilled as their personal chef.
While they lived there they had no live-in servants, only part-time ones such as a cook and a maid. His boss was the C.E.O. of a parent company for various publishing businesses. The man made a bundle of money, which was evident due to the massive house and luxury goods. They had met on a set once when Gilbert was doing a shoot. He had hired him right on the spot, and then over a short time, asked Gilbert out. Being together was a treat, and Gilbert was showered with gifts and goods that he never wanted to give it up. So he moved in to this big, gorgeous house where he had anything and everything he would ever want. Coming from a poverty level house with a dysfunctional family, this place within his boss's world was a paradise.
A paradise he never wanted to lose even if he was unhappy with their relationship. Gilbert lit the candles on their stands and sat at his end of the table. He glanced at the clock on the oven, its numbers reading 6:30. 'He should be home soon.' But a half an hour had passed and his lover had not shown. His phone beeped with a text message from the other room, and knew that it had to be his boss. Crossing over into the room, his German Sheppard Mandy lifted her head and wagged her tail at his approach. Gilbert smiled and knelt to rub the old dog on her head. She was a rescue dog with a few years on her but has been with Gilbert ever since he began modeling. He had to beg his lover to allow her to come with them. "With any luck it will be just you and me tonight, girl."
Taking the cell phone out of his coat pocket, he opened the screen to see a text from his lover. 'Staying late at the office. Sorry about about dinner. Be home late.' Gilbert smirked. "Oh yeah, house to myself! No servants to bother me either! Hear that, Mandy? Just mean and my favorite girl!" Mandy barked in response. "Best wrap up dinner and break open that bottle of wine!"
Drinking was a necessity while he lived in the house, at least when his boss was or would be home. Alcohol made everything easier to tolerate, from abuse to sex. Gilbert knew everything that was wrong about his relationship, but was too selfish to give it all up. If he tried anything, his boss would have him blacklisted so he could never model again. Going back to school wouldn't be an option and he had no money of his own. Everything he made went to his lover, but Gilbert was able to use the credit cards for whatever he wanted. And he did; often. "I'm thinking too much!" He hollered at himself while pouring the wine. "Ignorance is bliss, Gilbert. Keep telling yourself that!" 'You're different than you were in high school'.
The words from Ivan randomly repeated in his head. He hadn't thought about the man at all for the rest of the day, and now he was remembering? It had been ten years since high school, which haven't been the greatest years of his life. Gilbert hadn't thought about his high school days until now. Ivan knew everything about him, and all of it was true. He had changed since high school, but only because life had gotten in the way. He plopped down on the white leather sofa with a growl and sucked down the wine. "Fuck that guy. The past is past, and it can't be changed." He quickly left to bring the wine bottle back and kept drinking. 'Drink to forget.' Gilbert chugged the bottle instead.
The Next Morning…
"Mr. Beilschmidt, you must get up now. You have an appointment."
Gilbert slowly lifted his head from being buried deeply in the pillows. The bed was empty save for himself and Mandy. His head ached from a hangover and his ass hurt twice as bad. He barely remembered anything from last night, and especially didn't remember having an appointment. He grumbled and rolled over onto his back, looking up at the ceiling. "What appointment?"
"It was made yesterday, and Mr. Callaghan approved it. The photographer is waiting downstairs for you and I made breakfast."
"Thank you, Cornelia." The cleaning lady worked too hard. "I'll be down shortly." He groaned as he sat up in bed and stretched. Mandy stared at him and wagged her tail. "Thank God for you, Mandy." Everything hurt. "Fucking photographer…who the hell gets up this early?" Hissing, Gilbert glanced at the clock that read 10:00am. "Oh. Fuck me."
The moment he stood up a wave of nausea came over him, forcing him to lumber to the master bathroom. Stumbling to the black porcelain toilet he hurled up everything from last night, most of it being the chardonnay. When finished, he wiped his mouth with some toilet paper and flushed. Yet when he felt the essence of last night leaking out of him a whole new wave of nausea reared its head, and he hurled again. Immediately he showered, using all of his special body washes and oils from Egypt. His lover enjoyed exotic fragrances from around the world and wanted Gilbert to lavish in them. Gilbert didn't really mind for he liked smelling fresh, and being irresistibly smooth to the touch. Leaving the shower feeling revived, he picked out a pair of simple jeans and a black turtleneck. He slicked back his hair, adorned his neck with a tattoo choker, and slipped on his leather boots. There was no need to fully impress at the moment, no matter who it was downstairs. The boss had already left, leaving no commands or rules for Gilbert to follow. In other words, he could do what he wanted.
"Come on, girl. Let's go greet our guest."
Ivan sat at the breakfast nook with his hands politely folded, humming a classical tune in his head as he waited. The nice cleaning lady served him breakfast, eggs over easy and French toast, along with a cup of fresh coffee and orange juice. Ivan couldn't deny or say no to the food, so he thanked her and happily ate it. Ivan couldn't help but look around the house and notice every expensive detail. There was artwork, electronics, European furniture, Persian rugs, and foreign artifacts. However, it looked like the person who owned this house hired Nancy Reagan's decorator. Judging by the style and exquisite design of the house, Gilbert was dating someone of high caliber. Most likely the 'boss'. Already Ivan had a stream of assumptions going through his mind but wouldn't focus on them until he knew more.
"Alright, who's here?" Came Gilbert's voice from the hall. Ivan sat up straight and smiled as the man entered the kitchen. Their eyes met. "You!"
"Good morning, Gilbert." Ivan said, smiling sweetly. "Pleasure to see you this fine January morning."
Mandy barked, but Gilbert pat her head to soothe her. "You must really have some connections, Ivan." He stated flatly. "It's a surprise that you are in my house at all."
Ivan poured himself another cup of coffee from the carafe. "Haven't you received a call from your boss? I spoke to him last night. I told him of my idea and he was absolutely thrilled by the notion! Does he own this house?"
Gilbert gave a sneer but entered the kitchen. "He does. He's my boyfriend. What of it?"
Ivan put his hands up. "I have no issue there."
"So then what did he hire you for?" Gilbert took the carafe and poured some coffee for himself.
"I am to be your personal, private photographer."
Gilbert nearly spit out the coffee from the mug that he had taken a sip from. Pink eyes glared at Ivan. "Personal and private? You must be batty, Ivan! My boyfriend would NEVER settle for something like THAT! Who the hell are you to say as such?"
Ivan wasn't affected by Gilbert's words. "Your 'boyfriend' saw my work and he adored it. I asked him if he would like me to take candid shots of you around the house doing various things. I assured him that it wouldn't be an issue and that I was honored to be considered for such a job. He did a full background check on me, and my slate is blank. I have nothing against me. So, I am to take photos and film you going about your daily life here."
Gilbert slammed the ceramic mug on the granite island. "I refuse to believe all this! CORNELIA!" He shouted for the cleaning lady who was quick to appear.
"Yes, Mr. Gilbert?"
"What the hell is this guy talking about? Have you heard anything?" She nodded, making Gilbert growl.
"Mr. Callaghan told me of it this morning. This man speaks the truth. He was hired as a private photographer. Your private photographer."
Gilbert sneered at her. "Thanks for confirming my life is going to be a living hell, Cornelia."
"Forgive me, Mr. Gilbert." She pleaded softly.
"Gilbert, it's not her fault. She doesn't make the rules." Stated Ivan.
"I know, okay! I know!" He gave a frustrated sigh. "Great, now I'll have some big-nosed baboon following me around all day!"
Ivan heard the insult, and immediately an old memory came back to him.
"Hey, big-nose! How far can you smell with that thing? Can you smell a skunk before it comes? Or better yet, I bet you can sniff out some of those truffles, huh? Oink, oink!"
Ivan's eye twitched.
"Hey, you okay?" Gilbert snapped his fingers in front of Ivan. "Where'd you zone out to?"
Ivan shook his head. "Ah, nowhere. Just lost in thought." He cleared his throat. "So, may I see around the house? This place is awfully big and I don't want to get lost in it."
"Give me a minute." Gilbert darted out of the kitchen and came back a few minutes later, closing his cell phone. "Apparently I missed all these calls and texts, but you're legit." Gilbert put his hands on his hips. "I still don't remember you."
"I'm easy to forget." Ivan said with a smile. "Now then, for that tour."
"Sure. Follow me. We'll start with the awesome living room." Gilbert waved him over and Ivan followed.
"May I ask why you are walking funny? Are you hurt?"
He gasped softly. "N-No, not at all! These are just new boots I need to break in before a shoot, so they're hurting my feet." He smiled nervously. "They pinch."
Ivan nodded, deciding to play along. Those boots were old because he could see the slight indent in the heel due to Gilbert's way of standing and walking. Ivan's suspicions continued to grow.
"So, this is the living room. We have satellite TV, although I still don't fully understand how it works. This remote here is the HD remote, the only one I know how to use." He chuckled. "I spend a lot of my free time in front of it."
"I don't watch a lot of TV myself." Ivan responded. "I enjoy music, though."
"Oh, my boyfriend has a LOT of that. We have, like, this one hundred CD changer machine that pipes music throughout the whole first floor. He just buys CD's for the hell of it."
"Really? That's nice. I play the cello, you know." Ivan smiled.
"The cello!" Ivan pouted. "You don't know of it?"
"Sorry, I'm only in to 'cool' things." He grinned. "Oh, and awesome things. If I haven't heard about it, then it's not awesome, like me." Mandy started to bark under the couch and Gilbert just laughed with a roll of his eyes. "Mandy, can't you ever keep your toys out in the open! Hang on, girl. I'll get it."
Ivan watched with mischievous curiosity as Gilbert knelt on the carpet to peer under the sofa. Gilbert's form was perfect, his back arched and his tight ass high in the air. Ivan felt himself begin to sweat beneath his cardigan as he watched the pert ass wiggle as a long arm reached under the furniture. Another memory came back to him, one of the locker room in their high school before gym class.
"I'll be team captain again for flag football!" Gilbert said to his groupies. "I'll lead our awesome team to victory!"
Ivan was in the row of locker stalls opposite of Gilbert. As he took his gym clothes out of the locker, Ivan focused his purple eyes on the beautiful pale body across the way. Gilbert took off his shirt to expose well toned white muscle. He laughed openly with his friends as he removed the pants next. Ivan just stared, watching that white back bend and twist at simple stretches. Every part of Gilbert was white, hairless, and smooth. Ivan wished he could be like that as he glance down at the slight pudginess of his own body. He shook his head and closed his eyes, imaging Gilbert in the shower stall with him. Water droplets would cascade down the contours of Gilbert's back and meet again at the slight indent of his back. Ivan wanted to carefully bend the other at the waste and take him, watching as those white fingers spread out on the gray tile.
"Whoa! Holy crap! The Snow Yeti really does exist!" Gilbert said to him, forcing Ivan to break away from his thoughts and cover himself with his gym shirt. "Hey, did Sasquatch take a picture of you by chance?" The group of bullies laughed.
"Gilbert, leave me alone, please?" Ivan said softly. "I'm just trying to get dress in time before the whistle blows."
White brows lifted in amusement. "Oh, no problem, bro. I hear ya. Hey, would you like to be on our flag football team?" Ivan was ready to answer with a happy smile, but then Gilbert intercepted. "Oh wait, I forgot, there's no room on our team for your fat Yeti ass!" The others laughed as they walked away, and Ivan just sighed.
'Sticks and stones.' He said to himself.
"I got it." Gilbert held up a dusty toy that Mandy took immediately and scurried off with. "I'll have to have a little talk with Cornelia about the couch. Too much dust."
Ivan cocked his head to the side. "You don't expect that poor middle-aged woman to move a couch, do you?"
"No, but if she asks me I'll move it and then she can clean beneath it. That's what we pay her for."
Ivan followed Gilbert throughout the rest of the house. The next room was the library, which was full of untouched books only present for show. There was a fire place as well, but it looked to be electronic rather than real. The basement was a large area made only for exercise equipment. Gilbert seemed to be uncomfortable in these parts, but managed to hide it well enough. Ivan saw right through him, and made a mental note to keep watch of this room. Another room on the main floor was a computer room complete with a large screen TV and massage chair. The bathroom was completely tiled in marble from floor to ceiling with only a toilet and sink. Upstairs, Gilbert showed him another bathroom that held the waterfall shower stall. The bathroom was white marble with mirrors everywhere and a various assortment of potted plants. Four bedrooms were upstairs, yet only one was being used as an actual bedroom. One room was a spa room complete with massage table, oil shelf, and rainforest murals.
The biggest surprise was the master bedroom, which Ivan was surprised Gilbert even showed him. The bed was a king sized canopy that gave the illusion of a sleigh bed. The bathroom held a whirlpool tub and separate shower stall; all marble. The walk in closet had to be bigger than Ivan's kitchen at home and also lined with Armani suits and more. But the biggest surprise was the stripper pole and mini stage near the bed. The pole attached to the ceiling and to the small stage. Ivan stared at it as Gilbert rambled on about the bed and thousand thread count sheets. He imagined Gilbert naked and dancing with the pole, giving the constant illusion of making love with it. Gilbert must have noticed his dead stare, for he snapped his fingers in front of purple orbs.
"Yo! I'm over here, pervert!" Ivan looked at him. "I guess you haven't seen a stripper pole in a bedroom before?" Gilbert smirked. "It's actually there for what you think it is. I dance for my boss. For him and ONLY him."
"What would happen if you danced for someone else?" Ivan couldn't help but ask.
"Why would I want to dance for someone else?"
"Because they may just adore you for who you are, and not what you look or act like." Ivan saw Gilbert's surprised and touched stare, but it was quickly wiped away.
"You're full of shit, polar bear! I love my boyfriend and my boss, so don't try to say or think otherwise! I love him. I really do."
'No, you are lying.' Ivan said to himself, watching Gilbert go to the balcony doors and open them.
Ivan stared at him and watched the wind blow through wisps of white hair. Gilbert was all about defenses. His neck adorned a spiked collar. His chest, belly, and groin were encased in barbed wire. His feet were tied, bound, and knotted. Ivan knew that beneath those sharp defenses lay the REAL Gilbert Beilschmidt whom has lost his way and is yearning for real love. Ivan knew now that it would be his job to chip away at each defense to give light to the true Gilbert. The man was right in stating that the past was past. However, now was the time to start life anew, and Ivan would make Gilbert love him, or kill the boss whom was doing his white rabbit harm.
There were many hidden mysteries to Gilbert Beilschmidt, and Ivan was determined to find them all through each snapshot.
End Chapter 1 TBC