A/N: This story is my gift to SerialXLain for updating her story "Bleed Brother Bleed," which you should all read after you read this. It is awesomeness.

Warning: This story is rated a hard M for adult themes and sexual content. If you are a prude, turn back now.

He was too classy for a joint like this; you could tell that much with one glance. He smiled and flirted with the clientele, both women and men, but surely that was just good acting. No one could be really happy in his position, though many faked it- most, not as successfully as he, however.

I knew him only through pronouns; his name, naturally, was not available to the public. If it were, he could never get to work through the sea of stalkers that would attach themselves to him like barnacles to the figurehead of a noble ship. I must confess, perhaps I too was a stalker of sorts. Every time I saw his stage name- simply "Snow"- on the board that advertised the attractions at The Desert Rain for the evening, I would direct my modest vehicle into its parking lot and gladly pay whatever ridiculous price had been set between me and the one I admired. Tonight was no different; Snow was one of the most popular dancers there, for reasons that will become obvious shortly. My identification, yet another obstacle deliberately put between us, displayed to the cashier that I was indeed the over-21 possessor of the dark curls and tanned, dark features in the picture and I was allowed to enter the establishment known as The Desert Rain.

It was decorated as if it were an oasis in a desert; sand dunes and sky were painted on the walls, but faux plants adorned every nook and cranny of the inside. They hung from the ceiling and rested on tables and on the floor along the walls. The floor was carpeted in blue, which I supposed was meant to put one in mind of water, and the architecture had a certain Middle Eastern flair, to go along with the desert theme. If one was feeling sacrilegious, one could imagine it had been a mosque, desecrated and converted into a temple to fleshly desire. It had not, to my knowledge, ever been an actual mosque, for that would have been far too sacrilegious, but one could imagine if one was aroused by defilement.

I moved into the main room, a large, lavishly decorated affair dominated visually by a stage complete with three vertical poles. Why there were three, I never knew, since in all the times I'd visited, I'd never seen three dancers at once onstage, but there they were nonetheless. Snow was not on the stage yet; it was too early to bring out the headliner for the night. Some young boy I didn't recognize was the current entertainment, a redhead in Earthy, suede breeches that would soon be cast aside.

The rest of the room was taken up with seating. In keeping with the Middle Eastern theme, there were no chairs, only elaborately embroidered cushions, rugs, and satiny throws littered the floor, inviting patrons to recline as they enjoyed the carnal atmosphere. There was no bar, but alcohol was definitely to be found, and in copious amounts. One had only to ask one of the roaming employees; the dancers who were not currently onstage, preparing to go on, or engaged in private service to a customer, served as the waiters for the establishment as well. There were always a great many threading their way through the mess of bodies, not only serving drinks, but also chatting and mingling with those they sought to seduce out of a few extra dollars.

All these beautiful men were clothed, unlike whichever one was onstage rapidly divesting himself of everything he had once worn, but they were by no means clothed conservatively. If any of them wore shirts, they would be either unbuttoned, see through, or made of mesh. Many wore leather on the lower halves of their bodies, but some wore denim or other fabrics. All wore close-fitting garments that left very little to the imagination. They were, after all, advertising. Many made tips even when they were not onstage, and green bills could be seen sticking out of quite a few waistbands and pockets.

Having the unoccupied dancers mingle with the crowd this way had really been an ingenious idea from a business perspective. It put a person in mind of a harem, only filled with gorgeous young male specimens instead of females. This, apparently, was a common fantasy of both women who liked men and men who liked men, if The Desert Rain's popularity was any indication. I had no particular interest in that scenario, since I had eyes only for Snow. In general, I didn't even consider myself homosexual. Snow was just… special.

I spotted him quickly upon entering the building, since my eye was practiced and accustomed to seeking him out. He appeared to be "engaged," as they called it, in one of the services I mentioned before. His legs were spread, on either side of the lucky bastard he entertained, and he was gyrating above the man. A lapdance. Snow was much too refined to give lapdances, but it was part of his job, I grumbled to myself. I watched from across the room, angrier by the second, but unable to look away. How dare that man lower the precious Snow in such a manner? How dare the management of The Desert Rain? How dare Snow do this to himself?

As I watched, now nearly enraged, Snow undid the first button on the white leather that sheathed his lower half. He always wore white. It matched him. His whole body was snowy alabaster, just like his name. I should know; I'd seen it dozens of times, and worshipped it. The other patrons had seen it just as I had, however. I was not special. That was a barb that always accompanied my visits here. I hated to know that every greedy, dirty hand with a dollar clenched in it could sully his exquisite beauty with its touch. I dared not do so, because to add to his degradation was unthinkable. I simply watched from afar and defended his honor with my abstinence.

I wanted to storm over to where this vile display took place and yank Snow off of the man by his frosty white hair when I saw that he was now allowing the customer to see to the buttons that led inexorably to the jewel of his body. As it was gradually freed by the loosening of the buttons, however, it became more and more apparent that Snow did not feel the same way I did about the encounter he was having.

Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps he was simply good at distracting himself with thoughts of things more enticing than his actual surroundings. Surely he didn't take some perverse pleasure in the idea of being on display like a common whore? Still, he was one of the very few dancers who never appeared to have a problem keeping up this particular part of the illusion that they enjoyed their jobs. Sometimes, a tiny pearl of fluid could even be seen emerging from it. Sometimes a fortunate patron would be allowed to lick it off for a price. I could never bear to watch this- I thought I might vomit if I did- but I could always hear a small whimper of simulated pleasure, no matter how I tried to shut my ears.

Eventually, to my great relief, the lapdance ended and Snow was again clothed, or at least as clothed as he ever was within The Desert Rain. The buttons on his leather pants were safely closed once again, although he was still bared from the waist up as he bid goodbye to the man he had just pleasured. I hated the manner in which Snow ended his lapdances. This was yet another distinctive trait that marked Snow as the best entertainer in the employ of The Desert Rain. As soon as the last button was fastened, he placed his hand on the man's jaw and leaned in for a kiss. It was not just any kiss, no, Snow could not settle for a chaste peck after he had just stripped for the man, now could he? It was a full, deep kiss, one that I was certain involved both men's tongues. How many other lustful swine had he kissed with that tongue? I shuddered to think.

Snow disappeared for a time, going through the doors marked "Employees Only" where the employees went to retrieve the drinks they were asked for. I hadn't seen anyone speak to him, so he must not have been going there for that reason, and it couldn't be that he was next onstage, since it was still too early. Once in awhile a dancer went back there and didn't appear either with a drink or onstage a moment later. The newer dancers did this more frequently. They were unaccustomed to the shame, I could only assume. Snow, however, was definitely a seasoned professional. I wondered if something had disturbed him about this particular performance, if this particular patron had been especially repugnant to him. I wondered if he was back there drinking something strong that was really meant for the customers. Most of all, I wanted to follow him, to cradle him to my chest and coo that it was all right, that I would protect him, that I would take him away from this life I was sure he hated.

I decided then that I would break my rule that night. I would hire Snow. If I needed evidence, here it was. He hated his job. I would make my offer, and it would be an offer he couldn't refuse. We would go away together forever, maybe drive up to Massachusetts and get married someday. That was far in the future, though. Tonight, I just needed an opening. I needed to be there when he walked back out of those doors, the first person he saw, because undoubtedly others were waiting for him to come out as well, hoping for their own chances to do what one man had already done to him while I watched. I made my way over to the doors- they must have been custom made, because they fit a doorway shaped sort of like a keyhole with a point at the top, like the arches in Middle Eastern buildings- and waited. Snow would be out soon. He couldn't stay holed up in the back room too long; he was the main attraction. I wasn't the only one who came to The Desert Rain specifically for him.

Before too long, the redheaded dancer disappeared from the stage carrying his suede trousers, the only stitch on him being brown ankle boots, the same as Snow's white ones. He was replaced by a beautiful, brown-skinned Adonis, but I paid little attention. I waited for Snow, and Snow alone. I rarely ever looked at the other dancers. Normally, I didn't even approve of clubs like this, but I came to The Desert Rain because Snow was here. My attraction to him was not some meaningless animal lust like businesses of this kind fed upon, although I did long for his body; it would be ridiculous to deny that. It was more than that, though. I cared for him. I wanted to help him. I loved him.

I was surprised and puzzled when the black man left the stage a bit later to be replaced by a delicate-looking Asian boy and Snow still had not come out. Was something very, very wrong? I burned to ask one of the other dancers as they passed me, but couldn't bring myself to do so. They probably wouldn't have answered me anyway, since it wasn't my business what went on in the "Employees Only" area. I just had to wait.

I was beginning to get impatient when yet another dancer replaced the one onstage. Snow had not come out, and three dancers had come and gone now. Something had to be wrong. If he didn't come out by the time this dancer was finished, I was going to ask after him, and barge into the restricted area if I had to. I would find out what was bothering my Snow, and I would take him somewhere where I could take away whatever pain he was feeling.

I waited, gauging the time by the state of undress of the vaguely elfish-looking dancer with shockingly green eyes and hair to match. He must have been Russian, with slanting eyes like that on what was otherwise clearly a Caucasian body. His spiky green hair defied gravity. He almost looked like a tomboyish girl, but if he were in the employ of this particular club, it meant he had to be a man, and if I doubted that, I had only to keep watching to have it proven beyond any doubt. He wore the opposite of what Snow usually wore: black leather, liberally studded with metal, a black, spiked collar around his neck which I suspected would not come off with the rest of his clothes, and black ankle boots, matching the ones the other dancers wore in varying colors. He must have been a hit with patrons who were into the S&M look. A whip wouldn't have been a bad choice of a prop for him, but he carried none. Perhaps he was more the type to be whipped instead of doing the whipping? It made little difference to me.

The dancers did occasionally use props, because each had a distinct persona when working. Different clients obviously had different fetishes; if you wanted a girly boy to whip to your heart's content, apparently this dancer with the dyed hair and contacts was your pick. If you wanted a stable boy who smelled of Earth, the redhead from earlier would be your choice. If you wanted a dignified, otherworldly beauty that could not be surpassed by the angels themselves… it was obvious. Snow was, after all, the best The Desert Rain had to offer. The best any place had to offer. Snow's persona was very… ethereal. I had seen him use a long, white feather as his prop once. I had wished to be that feather, and be trailed along his skin the way it was, to be held in his strong, graceful hand, to disappear from the stage with him to wherever he went when his work was finished.

The boy with the green hair left the stage. My heart fell into my stomach, because I still didn't see Snow anywhere. I had just opened my mouth and extended my hand to tug the sleeve of a dancer who was entering the strangely-shaped doors when I saw him. Unexpectedly, Snow was on the stage. I was struck dumb by the sight of him. I saw partly why he had been in the back so long. He had an elaborate tracery of silver lines drawn in makeup around his eyes. His skin was so pale, you could barely see them until the light hit them just right. I had never seen him wear makeup before. I noticed his lips were silvered as well, giving him even more of an angelic quality than he had on his own. He was… breathtaking.

"Sir, did you want something?" It was the Asian lad who'd been on the stage earlier. Apparently it was his sleeve I'd almost tugged. "I've got to take that young lady a drink, but if you wait, I can come back," he offered, eager as they all were to make an extra dollar.

"N-No, I'm fine," I answered and waved him on, shocked I was able to make that much coherent speech come out of my mouth as I watched Snow walk enticingly out onstage. As he walked, he crossed one foot over the other, causing his package to bulge temptingly in its confines with each step. All of the dancers here could dance at least a little- let's face it, they were strippers, really, not dancers- but Snow had a way of harnessing whatever energy the music was broadcasting at the moment and making it his own. The air itself sizzled with the rhythmic pulses of the music and his body, the two seeming inseparable. It was impossible to tell if he was following the music or if it was following him, because just for Snow, the latter seemed possible.

I was mesmerized as I walked closer to the stage, settling myself down on the pillow-covered floor without looking at it. It was a miracle I didn't trip over anything, since I never took my eyes from Snow as I walked. This was when he was at his sexiest: when he was by himself up there. No one was allowed to touch the dancers while they were onstage, so no one could defile my beautiful, pristine Snow with the touch of greed and selfishness. He touched himself for the crowd's pleasure, but no one else touched him. I often wondered when he did so what pleased him really, since surely it wasn't at all similar to this cheap display of what he thought would please the audience. What did please the audience. They were still desecrating him in a way, by lapping up his antics like milk, expecting him to sate their desires from afar. Still, no one touched him. No one could touch him.

I waited, and I watched. Normally I just watched, musing about Snow and the life he found himself leading God only knew how, fantasizing about taking him away from it, somewhere we could live together away from the prying eyes of the world. This time, however, I would do it. I would hire him, because how else could I speak to him in private? I'd take him home for the night if they'd let me, and romance him… and finally I would make my proposal. He could quit his distasteful job and come live with me, where I would take care of his every need as long as he would stay. There was no way he could refuse. It had to be the most attractive offer he would ever receive.

I had rarely looked forward to the end of Snow's dance, but this time, I was waiting for him to finish so I could have something I'd dreamed of since the first time I'd laid eyes on him: Snow, all to myself. He was completely naked by this point, meaning he was almost finished. He only wore the ever-present achromic ankle boots and some silver makeup; that was all. He was upside down, lower legs wound around the center pole as if he were a vine clinging to it for support, hair hanging to pool on the floor. His hips were never still; his whole body gently swayed and rolled as if it were a long, blanched stalk of grass being blown in the wind. His hands constantly roamed over his own lithe, glistening body in a most alluring way, his mouth opened in a silent moan. Once again, an illusion to please the audience.

That seemed to have been his last move, since he disengaged himself from the pole in an astonishingly graceful manner- everyone else I knew would fall on their faces if they tried it, I felt sure- and did not dance further. He was even graceful and tantalizing when he bent to pick up the wadded bills that had been thrown onto the stage during his performance. He carried them and his distinctive white trousers off the stage with what appeared to be a small, satisfied grin. Maybe a few fives or tens had been stuck in amongst the countless one-dollar bills people usually reserved for strippers?

When the last trace of him left my line of sight, I headed back over to the "Employees Only" doors with all haste, wanting to be there when Snow passed through them, and I was. It wasn't long before he came out; apparently it didn't take as long to scrub makeup off his face as it had to put it on. Men and women clustered loosely around the doors, undoubtedly salivating like wolves after that performance. I made it a point to be right where I'd been before, so I would be the first person Snow saw upon coming out those doors.

He came out smiling and greeting us all as flirtatiously as he always did, but miraculously… his eyes settled on me. I did have the most advantageous place in the room, but still… I never really expected him to look my way without my even trying much. He was too far out of my league, although he was out of everyone's league, and that hadn't stopped anyone else here. "I've seen you here before, but I don't believe we've met," he drawled softly, inviting me to introduce myself. My heart did flip-flops in my chest. He recognized me? Snow had noticed… me? I stammered out my name, thinking I must have made an idiot of myself, but when Snow laughed a little, it was a polite laugh, not a mocking one. I had made Snow laugh… I had died and gone to… Heaven… and Snow must have been an archangel… or was it blasphemous to say… "I'm Snow," he replied, cutting off my train of thought, although there was no reason outside politeness to do so… at The Desert Rain, Snow needed no introduction. "Would you like a drink, while we're here?" He indicated the doors.

"Y-Yes… white wine please, and… get something for yourself, too," I instructed, beginning to blush at having gotten his attention after I'd wished for it so long, but never made the slightest attempt to get it until tonight. I was beginning to be embarrassed by my own boldness. He nodded and disappeared through the doors he had just come out of. I didn't know if the employees actually drank what they wanted while they were back there, or if they had to pay for it, but… I wanted him to have something, even if it showed up on my bill at the end of the evening.

I waited for him by the doors, watching as a good number of those who'd waited for him as I had drifted away, disappointed. Some hung around, possibly waiting for another glimpse of Snow when he came out, or possibly waiting to try their luck with the next scantily clad man to emerge. As it turned out, Snow was the next to come through the double doors, and he was carrying two drinks, just as I'd told him. It felt a little wrong for me to be telling him what to do just like everyone else around this place did, but he had asked, and he was so obliging…

He appeared to have gotten vodka for himself, unless it was water. I didn't pry, because I thought maybe employees weren't allowed to drink alcohol during their shifts, which would make sense, and I didn't want to annoy him about it. We walked to one of the many little islands of cushions and I sat down first, accepting our drinks to hold while Snow settled himself in next to me. He was quite tall fully stretched out- his legs reached far out away from the cushions we were surrounded by. I let my gaze travel all the way back up from there, having been rewarded for my boldness thus far. I felt his legs with my eyes, let them travel around his hips and over his package… I blushed a little there… they passed over the white leather waistband and into the territory of his skin, up his flat abdomen and over his exposed nipples… up his pale neck, across his full, no longer silver lips, past his nose and straight to his gently laughing eyes. I supposed he was used to being checked out, but I must have been blushing again. Yes, that was it.

I looked into his eyes with a little more serious expression, having never seen them up close before. They matched everything else about his appearance. It was impossible to tell if they were gray, a very pale blue, or just white, like him. I wondered briefly if he was an albino, but didn't albinos have red eyes? Or maybe they had something else… I didn't know, but they certainly didn't have white eyes. Could they have been contacts, like the green haired kid had? It was, after all, kind of his shtick…

"Like what you see?" He asked, a little laughing lilt to his voice. Maybe he was mocking me…

"You're very beautiful," I answered, averting my eyes. I was becoming just like all of the other customers, wasn't I? Staring at him like some piece of meat…

"You don't have to stop," he continued when I turned away apologetically. "It's what I'm here for."

I didn't know if he meant that was what he'd come to this spot with me for, that it was the purpose he served in The Desert Rain, or that that was his purpose in life period. I felt my heart cracking in two no matter which one it was. Bewilderingly, I felt it crack even more when he leaned in to kiss me the same way I'd seen him kiss that man earlier, but was unable to stop myself from returning it in kind. When I finally came to my senses, I pulled away and looked at the floor guiltily.

"You don't have to do that," I said to what I imagined was probably a very confused stripper. I didn't look at his face to find out.

A soft sigh was audible, and it couldn't have been from anyone else. Snow was the only one close to me. "I want to," he replied, but it sounded thin to my ears.

"You don't have to say that," I countered and pulled away farther, feeling guilty for having struck up this conversation in the first place. I should have just left well enough alone, instead of becoming another of his persecutors…

"I know I don't," he looked straight into my eyes, his own strange ones hard with conviction. "It's the truth." I didn't reply, only looked away. "Looks like I've killed the mood," he continued suddenly, moving to get up. I made no move to stop him, but not because of any fault of his. I shouldn't have approached him in the first place, I told myself again. I stayed where I was and digested what had just happened, my miserable failure at trying to charm a charmer.

I had sat alone in The Desert Rain dozens of times, and it had never felt as empty as it did after Snow left me. I watched him disappear with his drink back through the doors he had passed through at least four times already. He didn't come back out immediately, so I gathered he did more than simply set it down or pour it out, but I never knew what. I wondered if he stood and looked at it for a moment, unable to decide whether to keep it, but I was probably just flattering myself. If he did keep it, it certainly wasn't out of any attachment to me, nor did I deserve that much consideration from him.

I was starting to consider leaving my best option and was beginning to move toward the doors when Snow reappeared and came toward me again, this time with his hands empty. Surely he hadn't left just to dispose of his drink… he must have changed his mind about something. I stopped, wanting to know what he would say to try to reclaim "the mood" or at least my business.

"Listen, I'm sorry about what I said," he apologized when he reached me and stopped, "or what I did. And what I did," he corrected.

"I don't know what you're apologizing for," I answered, "I was the one who…" I trailed off, unsure how to put into words exactly what I'd done so he would understand. "Who was wrong," I finally finished.

"Nonsense. All you did was show concern for me," he answered warmly, and I believed it was real. "Join me again?" He gestured toward the mass of cushions next to us- for I hadn't gotten far before he'd stopped me- where my wine still sat precariously, waiting to be kicked over by the next passerby.

"Sure," I answered, not at all sure if this was a good idea, but unwilling to make him feel bad by walking out on him now. I sat down, followed by the man I still only knew as Snow, and picked my drink back up, sipping from it again.

"So, I've seen you here a lot," Snow began anew, I supposed trying for a lighter conversation this time. "Is this a favorite place of yours?"

I pictured one of my coworkers or neighbors asking me if The Desert Rain was one of my favorite places. The me in my mental picture choked.

"I… actually only come here when you're here," I answered a little shyly, embarrassed even though he already knew I thought highly of him.

"Is that so?" Snow raised one fair eyebrow as if he thought this strange, or perhaps like he was considering some evil idea.

"Yes, it is," I answered, innocently daring him to mock me. "You know, they put your name on the sign, and everything…"

"Yes, they do," he agreed, making no comment about the practice. "So I'm a favorite of yours? Is that it?" Snow was blatantly flirting now, speaking in that low drawl and letting his eyes travel my body. Was I to believe it was genuine this time? Would he go to these lengths just to avoid losing a loyal customer?

"Well," I paused, uncomfortable with him forcing me to admit exactly how attracted to him I was, "I suppose you could say that."

"You know, I always wondered about you," he continued, and I was on high alert for lies and shameless flattery at that point.

"Really." It wasn't a question, but rather a statement of doubt. What could have been noteworthy enough to wonder about?

"You kept coming when I was here, like you said, and you stayed the whole time, but you never talked to me or bought a dance. I couldn't decide if you hated me or if you were just shy," he explained.

"Don't be ridiculous," I scolded him. Me, hate Snow. Please.

"I'm serious. I mean, you always had this look on your face," he gestured with his fingers splayed toward his own face, "like you were getting really intense about something, and I wasn't sure if you wanted to shag me or if you were plotting to kill me," he grinned as if he were sure now that that wasn't the case.

"And now you know?" I asked, a little indignant that he was so assured of how I felt. He must have had the most unshakable confidence… but it was starting to border on arrogance…

"Oh, yeah. Definitely the first," he answered with a suggestive look. I wanted so badly to be offended, but… he was right. And I didn't just want to shag him. I wanted to have his babies… but it would never happen for many reasons, not the least of which was that it was anatomically impossible. "See? I'm right, aren't I?" Damn. I couldn't keep any emotion off my face if my life depended on it, could I?

"Yes, if you must know… you are," I replied, gritting my teeth a little. I had followed Snow's career for a long time, but I had only met him about an hour ago, and he had already gotten me to admit I wanted to have sex with him…

"You can, you know." I am not sure I had ever been so shocked by anything anyone had ever said to me in my entire life than I was by that. He wanted to have sex with me too? Or did he mean he could be hired, because I already knew that… that was what I was supposed to be saving him from, and here I was hoping he was willing to do it with me too… "I'm not cheap, but then nothing here is, really…" So he was talking about hiring him. I had planned to hire him for the night so I could talk to him about what I really wanted, but I wasn't really sure if I could handle that anymore. I had failed so miserably when I'd tried before, after all.

He regarded me for a bit, as if he was trying to figure out whether I would accept or not, and then ended with a simple "If you're interested, tell them at the front and they'll arrange it," he jerked his head toward the door to the outside and the one fairly normally-clothed employee, the one who took licenses and money as people entered. I looked back at the spot next to me to find that Snow no longer occupied it. He was walking away from me toward a group of grinning women that probably represented a bachelorette party or something of that nature, but his walk did very deliberate things to his posterior region that I thought might have been meant for my eyes a little more than everyone else's.

Was he tired of me, to walk away unannounced like that? Perhaps he had simply said all he had to say, or perhaps he hoped to sell another lapdance before the evening was out and I wasn't forthcoming with requests. Either way, it appeared I had a decision to make. Had it been an invitation, or was he just informing me of the option because it was his job? I didn't want to take him home if he didn't really want to come, but as our exchange earlier had proven, he made it his business not to let customers know what he wanted, in case it conflicted with what they were willing to pay for.

It had been easy to think about taking Snow away from this place when it was just a fantasy, but now that I'd actually spoken to him, and he'd mentioned my hiring him… it seemed real, and daunting. I came very close to leaving alone several times, but in the end, I could not convince myself to pass up the opportunity. I didn't examine too closely which opportunity I meant when I thought that, and as a result I found myself standing at the tiny counter where I had presented my license earlier, and signing a form of which I had read very little, but what I did see outlined The Desert Rain's policy on condom use and stated that it was not responsible for unintended pregnancies. I handed the signed release back to the uniformed woman and watched her hand it off to someone else through a door I hadn't noticed before.

"Put this in Chris' file, will you?" She requested, not looking at the papers she held out to someone I couldn't see. Chris' file… could Chris be… Snow's real name? I tried it out in my head, finding that I liked it. Although… in all likelihood, Chris was probably just a manager who handled all of these papers. Slightly disappointed at the thought that I still didn't know the name of the man I was about to take home, I walked away rubbing sweaty palms on my thighs after being told offhandedly, "His shift's over in another hour." There was no turning back now. Had it all been a silly moment of weakness? Perhaps, but I had already signed the form. I had already paid. My stomach turned a little at the thought that I had just paid for sex… had hired a prostitute. I had known the dancers at The Desert Rain did that in addition to their more public occupations, but had never thought of Snow in that way. Thinking of him as a stripper had torn me apart, and thinking of him as a prostitute made me wonder if I'd really understood when they'd described Hell.

I had an hour to taste that thought like bile on my tongue, an hour to watch Snow- Chris?- flirt with other patrons, dance for them, look at them the way he had looked at me. I wondered how many of those looks might be genuine, still wondering if the ones I'd received were. I regretted signing the papers already. I regretted ever having come here, ever having laid eyes on Snow. I felt that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach… the feeling you get when you know something's wrong, but are powerless to stop it. I looked surreptitiously back at the counter, considering asking them to get my paper back out of Chris' file and tear it up, even if I didn't get my money back. I didn't though. I supposed it would be the right thing to do, but… I didn't.

Finally, I noticed with an intensification of the feeling I now recognized as dread that it was nearly midnight, when Snow would be free to go home with me. What had I gotten myself into? I had a prostitute destined for my house expecting sex tonight… and my goal was to rescue him from his life of prostitution and other miscellaneous sex work. It had seemed so simple when it was an impossibility, but I supposed the moment Snow had set eyes on me after his performance, I'd been doomed. Possibly even from the moment I had first set eyes him.

The clock struck midnight. I had been here at midnight before, so I knew nothing special happened other than a group of dancers leaving and another taking their place, but my ears alone heard ominous, brassy, clanging bells like Cinderella heard at midnight, and they struck fear into my heart as they had hers. I watched Snow disappear with a few other dancers that also got off at midnight, through the mysterious keyhole doors, and shortly a few that had disappeared through them a bit earlier in normal clothes reappeared in the half-clothed state that meant they were on the clock. I had experienced a variety of emotions connected to Snow tonight, some of which I had never felt before, and here was another. I had never feared the moment when he would materialize again. I didn't usually even stay to see him come out after this point, knowing he was finished. This time, though, I did both.

I suffered through every second until he came out, masochistically hoping the time would stretch itself out, and it obliged. It seemed like an eternity, but was probably only a few minutes, and I saw Snow emerge, still clad in all his achromatic splendor, like every other time, but I realized with a pang of sadness that I had never seen him fully clothed before. He had added a white, turtle necked sweater to the boots and pants he'd been wearing all evening, and as he came closer, I noticed a glint of silver that, up close, turned out to be a necklace with a cross pendant hanging against his chest.

I shouldn't have been surprised. A man who could look classy in leather pants and nothing else was bound to look even more elegant when given a full outfit to work with. He walked straight toward me, speaking to people on the way, but not stopping long or deviating far from his path. He looked at me even as he conversed with other dancers and patrons, and if I had been entirely naïve or the context had been different, I would have believed he was looking forward to returning to me. It felt good to have so much attention lavished on me, especially once he reached me and led me out with a "Shall we?" It didn't feel so good, however, to remind myself that I had paid for his attention.

Snow let me take the lead once we got outside, since he didn't know where I was parked, but it felt strange to be leading him anywhere. Every time I did something, it seemed, I was going to be struck by the realization of who was with me. I was leading a male stripper-cum-prostitute to my car, for the purpose of taking him home, for the purpose of…

I reached my car soon, going to the passenger side first to unlock Snow's door, then seeing to my own and entering the driver's seat. I was driving a prostitute to my house… I couldn't get over it. Not just any prostitute either- I was driving Snow to my house. I wished the circumstances were different, namely that I hadn't had to hire him to come with me, but I couldn't say I hadn't wanted to take him home. I had, ever since the first time I'd seen his pure ivory, seraphic figure displayed on a pole for the crass masses to ogle.

"I assume we're headed to your house?" Snow interrupted my thoughts to inquire politely, inclining his head.

"Yes, unless there's somewhere else you'd rather go?" I offered, but didn't know what I expected him to say.

"No, I'm fine with your house if you are," he answered simply enough. So he had had clients who weren't comfortable taking him to their houses? Did they feel dirty inside like I did and want to go somewhere more anonymous, or had there been some who couldn't take him to their houses? I had a brief, sickening thought of Snow "entertaining" married women at cheap hotels… married men as well, I supposed… Snow committing adultery for pay… married people moaning "Snooow" instead of their spouses' names… or did any of them perhaps moan "Chris"?

"Hey, Snow," I began after a pause. He looked back at me from the window he'd been gazing out just as if that were his name, and I supposed it made sense for him to be used to answering to it as if it were. "What's your name? Your real name," I asked, but thought better of my impulsive question at the last second. "Or, if… you're not supposed to tell, or if you don't want to, you don't have to…" I stammered, trailing off once I'd thoroughly proven myself to be an idiot once again.

"No, it's fine," he answered, "Snow is my real name." He paused, but apparently felt the need to clarify, "It's my last name." He had neatly sidestepped having to tell me his full name, which was fine. It was silly of me to have asked so soon. There was a reason they didn't make their real names public, after all, and given what he had noticed about my habits of coming to The Desert Rain specifically to see him and the intentions he thought I might have had, it made sense that I'd be a prime suspect for a potential stalker.

"You must feel like you're in the army, having people call you by your last name all the time," I joked weakly, but he did laugh a little, which I was grateful for even if it was probably more for my benefit than because he actually thought it was funny.

"If I joined the army, I probably couldn't keep my uniform on. I'd keep thinking I was back at The DR," he joked back. It was probably better than my joke, but it was my turn to force a fake laugh, because it gave me a mental image involving Snow, a camouflage uniform, a makeshift pole, and a group of drunken soldiers with copious amounts of wadded up one-dollar bills. I was pretty quiet after that, and Snow appeared content with only occasional comments as we traveled through my neighborhood toward my house.

Maybe I should have taken him somewhere else first. I wasn't exactly a Trump, and I didn't like to brag, but I did know I had it a little… better than some. I hadn't even thought about it until it came into view, but the house might have been sort of intimidating to someone desperate enough to turn to the type of job Snow had. On the other hand, though, maybe it would sweeten the proposition I was hoping to make.

I had another thought that hadn't occurred to me before as I pulled into the spacious garage and pressed the button to shut its door behind us. Would any of my neighbors recognize Snow if they saw me with him? Would they know he was a prostitute? It wasn't obvious from his appearance, but if they'd heard of him, maybe… I was glad I'd elected to put the car away instead of parking in the driveway, anyway.

I started around the car to open his door for him, but before I got there, he was already out of the car, so I changed course and fished for my keys as I approached the door into the house proper. Snow didn't speak and neither did I as I led him inside, through a tiled hallway toward my living room. I threw my keys on the coffee table and turned around to find him examining the paintings on the walls, the furniture, the knickknacks… his gaze appeared to take in everything, every detail of this new environment.

I looked down and was mortified for a second before I frantically, but as quietly as possible, kicked a child's umbrella behind some others that were in their proper rack near the door. Sometimes people from my church came over, and some brought their children, especially if they came straight from Mass as they sometimes did. The little Miller girl was adorable, but she could not keep track of her possessions… and the last thing I needed was to have my confidence shattered by letting Snow see a pink umbrella with cartoonish brown puppies on it in my house and think I had children.

I looked back at him to ascertain whether he'd noticed, but he appeared to be looking at a painting of the Holy Family. I noted this with a pang of remorse, but remembered the pendant he was wearing. Was he a believer too, or was it just decoration? I hoped I hadn't inadvertently offended him with my home full of religious paraphernalia, but it was who I was, despite what my actions with him might have indicated to the contrary. I just had what might be called a unique interpretation of the traditions that had been in my family for hundreds of years.

"Just make yourself at home," I said as I did to all of my guests, from my priest to… well, Snow. "I'm going to the kitchen, do you want anything?"

"Wine would be nice, if you have it," he replied, running one index finger across the dark wood of a table in the hallway.

"I do. I'll be back in a minute," I answered and left him to his own devices for the time being. I was glad Snow wouldn't see where his wine came from; if I was self-conscious about my expensive home around him, I certainly didn't want to see his reaction if he saw that it contained a wine cellar.

Down in the cool room that housed my collection, I found I was torn. I wanted so badly to serve Snow what he deserved, my best. Once again, though, I didn't want him to be uncomfortable knowing it was an expensive vintage. Would he know, though? I had no way of knowing how much he knew about wine, but I guessed if he knew enough to tell it was expensive, he probably wouldn't be bothered by it. I chose a bottle I had been saving for just the right occasion, and proceeded back up to my kitchen to pour two glasses.

As I poured, I noticed yet another embarrassment I seemed to have avoided. A half-eaten container of Oreos sat atop the microwave, a distraction for the children that sometimes came over. I couldn't let them be bored while I conversed with their parents, could I? It wasn't really anything to be embarrassed about, except that I had a feeling Snow could find very interesting things to do with the cream-filled cookies, and if I ended up getting another demonstration of the prowess of his tongue, I would have to throw out the Oreos, because I could not be reminded of such things in the presence of children, or anyone from that sphere of my life for that matter. I shook that mental picture right out of my head, preserving the fitness of the Oreos for another day and putting away all thoughts of my church friends who still respected me and hopefully still would be able to after this night.

I couldn't help feeling a little thrill of excitement as I took the two glasses out to where I'd left Snow, even though I knew it was wrong of me to feel it. I wasn't just any customer of his; I wanted to help him, I reminded myself, not take advantage of him like the rest had. I passed through the archway to find Snow standing in the living room looking up at a carved crucifix on the wall. Yet another pang bit into me. Was he offended that I'd brought him to a religious home to do… what he assumed we were here to do? He looked away from it when he heard my footsteps, turning and accepting his glass without comment. I gestured toward the couch and we both sat, sipping our wine in silence for a moment before either of us spoke.

"You have good taste," he said, breaking our brief silence. It was a relief; apparently the wine didn't upset him.

"I'm… something of a connoisseur," I admitted. "Are you interested in wine?"

"Not especially, no, but I enjoy a good glass when it's offered," was the answer. He took another sip, looking for all the world like he was perfectly at home in this world of big houses and expensive wine. He had always been high class, regardless of what his job implied, but I was struck with it afresh, watching him drink my wine, red wine, and in that sweater, at that. Of course, Snow was much too graceful and perfect to spill it, but it made an impression on me still. I almost choked on my wine when I found myself desperately pushing away a mental picture involving Snow's collarbone and drops of that wine he was enjoying… and noticeably not involving the nice white sweater.

"Is something wrong?" He asked, turning toward me after apparently noticing my sudden discomfort.

"N-no, I just… swallowed it wrong, I guess," I made my excuse while still coughing up wine from my lungs, trying not to look too foolish in front of Snow, but sure I was failing. I became even more flustered when he chose that precise moment to move closer to me on the couch. We had been sitting close before; we were, after all, prostitute and client, and we didn't pretend otherwise, but… now he was almost pressed against my side.

"I think maybe it's a little more than that, don't you?" He practically purred in my ear. I had seen Snow naked from across a crowded room, and had even been kissed by him, but nothing had prepared me for feeling his hot, wine-scented breath on my ear. I shook so badly some wine sloshed out onto my hand, and before I had put two and two together… I really couldn't even do math that simple by this point… he had placed both our glasses on the table and taken my wetted hand in his. "Here, let me get that," he continued in that breathy voice that was doing such… things to me, and brought the angle of soft, vulnerable flesh between my thumb and index finger into his mouth, gently sucking and licking the sweetened alcohol away.

I was fighting myself; I wanted to pull away and go back to my plan, the plan that was supposed to save him from the cursed life he lived… the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak… and I didn't pull away. I let him do as he wished, my arousal far too obvious for him to stop on his own, far too potent for me to stop him, and finally, when he removed my hand from where he had held it and put his mouth to mine as he had in The Desert Rain, I was lost to the world, and this time I did not stop it as I had back there.

I let him kiss me. It sounded simple, but it was much more than that. I let him plunder my mouth; I let him into me, giving up hope of ever having the strength of will to push him away when I wanted him so much. His hand dropped to my leg, teasing it with his light touch. I nervously, hesitantly reached out to touch him back, brushing the backs of my curled fingers ever so lightly against his side and being rewarded for it with a slight sound of approval. I did pull away from him slightly then, but not to tell him to stop or to cling to the shreds of my lost resolve, but to make a simple request.

"Snow," I began quietly, almost whispering, "I want you, but I want you to want it too. I don't want you to fake anything with me, okay?" I had pulled away just enough to be able to talk. We were still close enough that I was speaking into his mouth, murmuring just audibly.

"Don't worry," he replied equally softly, "that was real." He waited for my whispered "okay" before returning to the task of turning my body to jelly with his ministrations. I believed him. It was impossible to lie in a moment like this.

His assurance gave me the confidence to probe further, opening my hand and molding it to the curves of the body it moved upon. Soon my arms were around him, pulling our bodies close. Snow, meanwhile, had let his hand migrate farther up my leg, toward the source of the burning he elicited from me, and when he reached it, I could not stop from making a sound of appreciation myself. That must have encouraged him, because I felt continued caresses there, and Snow felt my nails biting into his back as a result. When I felt the button at my waist pop open, however, I stopped once again.

"Are we going to… do it right here?" I asked, since that was where this appeared to be leading.

"Would somewhere else be better?" He threw the decision back to me, predictably.

"I… yes, the bedroom," I collected myself enough to stand and smooth my rumpled shirt, not having to wait long for Snow to follow suit. "It's back this way," I began to lead him toward my bedroom through another hallway, but he didn't seem so interested in the furnishings this time. When I arrived in the room where I slept, I sat on the bed and smoothed the covers in the spot next to me. This was half nervous gesture, half invitation, and Snow took up the invitation. He settled next to me for the fourth time that evening, or… it was actually morning, somewhere around one am… and, surprisingly, spoke instead of simply picking up where we'd left off.

"Do you have protection?" He asked, and I was a little taken aback. I had read something about it in the form I signed, but hadn't really paid attention.

"You mean like… condoms?" I was a little clueless, but he just nodded as if it was perfectly normal to hire a prostitute and not think about condoms. "Actually, no… I'm sorry, I just… wasn't really planning on doing this before you mentioned it, and-"

"It's okay. I have one," he interrupted and reached into his back pocket, his hand reemerging holding a small, flat square. I wouldn't admit this to Snow, but I had actually never seen one up close. I was sure he'd know what to do with it when the time came, but it made me a little nervous all the same.

"So then I assume you don't have lubrication, either?"

"Lubrication? What for?" I looked at him strangely, and he sighed.

"Have you ever been with another man before?" He asked. I guessed I'd given myself away with my questions. I actually hadn't been with a woman either, but I wasn't going to tell him that if I could help it…

"No," I answered hesitantly, embarrassed to admit this to someone so obviously experienced. "Is that a problem?" I asked in the smallest, most afraid voice I'd had in a long time. Just hours ago I'd been a stronghold of morality and temperance, and now I was afraid Snow wouldn't want me anymore.

"Not for me, but… are you going to regret that your first time happened like this? With me?" He waited solemnly for my answer, his hands behind him on the bed supporting his weight. He was right that I regretted the circumstances, the fact that I'd paid for this, but I also knew in my heart that there was no other person I would rather lose my virginity to, even if it meant sin. Premarital sex was a sin, but wasn't it worth it to help someone in need? God would forgive me because I would ask, but if I didn't help him, Snow might never ask. Besides, if this could be the beginning of something, maybe it wouldn't be such a sin if we ended up together…

"No," I began just as seriously as Snow, "I would be honored if you would be my first," and only, I finished in my head, but I wasn't sure if he would appreciate that part, so I kept it to myself.

"All right, then, if you're sure," he looked directly into my eyes when he said "sure," waiting for me to affirm my certainty. When I nodded, Snow slid down off the bed and knelt on the floor in front of me, taking the condom with him. I was confused, but didn't say anything, since I was already embarrassed enough and didn't need to highlight my inexperience further. He clearly knew what he was doing, and… oh, no… I had to interrupt my own thoughts to be embarrassed about a whole different thing. Snow had reached up and was starting to unzip me.

No one had ever seen that part of me before, except the other boys in the showers back in high school gym, which had been years ago… I wasn't as big as he was in that department, and I'd heard people say bigger was supposedly better… he was pulling down my pants and boxers now, and I could feel his breath on the now-exposed portion, which was displaying its desire for Snow quite openly… sometimes it got like this in the mornings, but it had never been this hard and insistent before… I quickly kicked off my shoes so he could pull the garments all the way off, and he did, leaving me feeling very exposed. I didn't understand how he did it, getting naked in front of rooms full of strangers all the time.

Snow picked the square he'd produced from his pocket back up and tore it open, revealing a little rubber circle. He placed it flat on the tip of my… my… manhood… and pushed gently so it unrolled slowly down the length of my organ, the light pressure of his fingers already starting to make me want more of whatever he was going to do. I never imagined a safety precaution could be so erotic.

"Just so you know, this isn't how I'd normally do it, but since it's an unlubricated condom, I have to lubricate it so neither of us gets hurt," he explained. "Are you ready?" He asked, still kneeling there. I had no idea what he planned to do or why, but I was as prepared as I could be without that knowledge, so I nodded.

I had not been at all prepared for what he did do; he closed his mouth around my rubber-coated organ and I felt something warm and soft against me… was he... licking me inside his mouth? I inhaled sharply, feeling him taking more and more of me into that warm, wet paradise that was his mouth, unable to stop myself from making all manner of noises I'd never made before as he sucked, licked, and did all sorts of magical things I didn't know the words for…

It was over too soon. I hadn't even noticed the plinking drops on my window because I was so absorbed. Only now did I notice it was raining. I was breathing hard even though I hadn't exerted myself, and I wanted his mouth back on me, but I didn't stop him when he pulled away and began undressing. He wasn't doing it slowly and elaborately like he did before audiences at The Desert Rain, but simply and neatly, as if he were at home getting ready to take a shower. It was still sexy to me… actually much sexier, because it was real. He was doing it for me alone, and because he wanted me. He had told me he wouldn't fake anything, and yet here he was undressing for me. That meant it had to be real.

The silver necklace with the cross pendant was unclasped and set aside, the sweater was shed to give me a view of more of his milky skin, which I had seen not two hours before, and I noticed that as he worked on the buttons at his waist, Snow also kicked off the famous ankle boots, something I had never seen him do before. After the leather pants came off, so did the socks I'd never noticed he wore under his boots, and he was fully revealed. No jewelry, no makeup, not even his boots, just Snow, pure and simple.

He came back over to the bed and settled on it again, but this time he faced away from me. His legs were folded under him, spread much like when he'd been giving that lapdance earlier, only I wasn't under him as that man had been.

"Come up behind me," he instructed, and I did, assuming the same position he was in just because I assumed it would be right. "I'm going to bend forward, and that's where you'll put it inside me," he explained. Put it inside him? What?

"You mean my-"

"Yes," he interrupted, "that."

So this was why he'd had to "lubricate" it. I was supposed to put it inside him.

"Won't that hurt you?" I asked, concerned. I didn't want to do it if it would hurt him…

"No. If you ever decide to be the bottom- that's what this is called, what I'm doing- it will hurt the first few times, but I'm used to it. Don't take too long, you don't want it to dry after I just lubricated it." He bent forward just as he'd said he would, revealing his beautiful, pale bottom. I'd seen him in this position on the stage at The Desert Rain and figured he was just showing off his exquisite backside; it never occurred to me that this was how two men had sex. If I had been told before that I would one day put my manhood in another man's anus, I would have been sickened, and yet I found myself doing it… and surprisingly, enjoying it. I slid it in slowly, trying to be gentle despite what Snow said about being used to it, and savoring the friction it created. I had liked when his mouth was on me quite a bit, but this was nice too. It went all the way in without incident, and the friction stopped. The rain outside was a little louder now. I'd read somewhere that rain symbolized change. My life was definitely changing, right here before my eyes.

"Now what?" I asked, unsure if there was more. That had certainly been anticlimactic if there wasn't.

"Now… move in and out," he answered, waiting for me to obey. I did, and it made sense. I had liked the feeling of going in, so it stood to reason that I would like it over and over. I did, slowly, still both savoring the feeling and trying not to hurt Snow. I found a rhythm, and Snow began to move with me, pushing back, grinding our organs together harder. I couldn't resist starting to go faster as more waves of pleasure washed over me from his actions… I was breathing irregularly and making the same noises I'd discovered with the help of Snow's mouth, but more and louder… I was sweating, and I could feel Snow's skin becoming slicker where my hands were on him, guiding our motions. I started to notice a round bump inside him, the underside of my manhood was touching it… I tried to avoid it, thinking maybe it would hurt if I put too much pressure on it, but I did accidentally get too close and press on it once… I heard a soft moan from Snow as I did that, and rushed to apologize.

"I'm sorry," I said, moving away from it again, but not stopping my motions. I wasn't sure if I could stop… Snow would probably have to stop me when he'd had enough.

"Don't be… that was good…" he had not stopped moving either. If anything, his movements had intensified. It was good? If he said so… I experimentally thrust toward it again, and heard a louder moan escape him. I smiled, apparently having stumbled on the key to pleasuring Snow. I tried to angle my movements to stimulate this special place every time, and soon Snow was being just as loud as I was. I was thrusting harder now, not being quite so gentle. I had forgotten gentleness in my quest for more of that delightful friction, but Snow certainly didn't appear to mind. If his grinding motions and noises were any indication, he was feeling the pleasure building up inside him just as I was. It made me glad to think so.

Soon, it could not build up any longer. I felt… the best feeling I had ever felt crash over me like a tidal wave, and I practically screamed with it. The rain had reached a crescendo as well, and a deafening crack and roll of thunder drowned my noises. Snow didn't seem to have come to this point yet, so even after my intense bout of pleasure, I continued moving inside him to try and give him the feeling that I'd had. It still felt good, but I didn't have the urgency I'd felt before I'd come. It seemed to take a long time, but maybe it only seemed that way because I'd already had my pleasure.

He did eventually start to get louder and pound harder as he moved, seeming to build to a climax just as I had. It made me feel proud to have given him that, and as he began to wind down, moving less and making less noise, and after a moment just breathing heavily, I gently pulled out of him and started to remove the sullied condom, filled with my fluids on the inside and covered in his on the outside. I reached around Snow to drop it in a small trashcan I kept there for entirely different purposes, but thought I might be using in this way again after tonight. I collapsed on the bed next to him, ready to sleep the whole day away with Snow cradled next to me, but Snow simply sat back on his haunches and looked at the spot in front of him. I wondered if he was regretting what we'd done, but just to see, I looked at the spot and noted with relief that he was actually looking at something.

"Don't worry about that, I'll just change the sheets," I assured him once I saw that it was the same substance that I'd just thrown away with my condom. "Wait here." I took the sheets off quickly enough and deposited them in my dirty laundry, returning momentarily with a fresh set. I saw that he appeared to have simply waited, not even beginning to put his clothes on in my absence like I'd half-expected. I was glad he wasn't in such a hurry to leave. Once the new sheets were in place, Snow and I reclined back on the bed, and I began to burrow under the covers. Maybe he'd only thought I'd planned for us to do something more, because once he saw me settling in, he did get up and start toward where his clothes lay. "No, stay," I requested sleepily.

"That… costs extra," he pointed out softly, not moving either forward to his clothes or back down to me, apparently waiting for my decision. It caught me off guard; I'd thought this had been something more than business for him as it had been for me, but I couldn't really blame him, I supposed… we had just met, after all. He still didn't know what I wanted to do for him. Besides, I could afford it easily, and if it went to Snow, even if only part of it did… it was well spent.

"It's okay," I answered, pulling gently on his hand, and he did settle back down and get under the covers with me. I scooted to get all the way up against him, molding my body to his and ending up with my face in his hair. It smelled kind of spicy and nice. I relished just lying there holding him, Snow, the one I'd wanted for so long.

I didn't realize I'd dozed off until I woke up. I caught Snow's scent again and breathed it deeply. This had to be the best awakening ever, from the best nap ever. I squeezed him and made a noise of contentment.

"You're awake," Snow observed.

"Mmhmm," I answered intelligently.

"Sleep well?"

"Oh, yeah. But after what came before it, how could I not?" I grinned into Snow's neck and hugged him close again. He laughed a little.

"Glad you enjoyed it," he replied, rolling toward me some so I could see his lingering smile.

"What about you? You seemed to too," I prodded, aware that it was a dangerous question, but I couldn't shake my doubts.

"I did," was all he said.

After a moment of silence, I began again. "You know, Snow, I'm glad you were my first."

"I'm glad you're glad," he answered without looking me in the eye.

"Really, I am. It was special," I persisted.

"I'm glad I didn't disappoint."

"Oh, come on. I don't think there was ever any chance of that," I rolled my eyes comically.

"You might have found you didn't particularly like it with men," Snow pointed out. "Some people underestimate how different it is than being with a woman."

"There was… never any chance of that, either," I said under my breath, not quite sure if I wanted Snow to have heard me or not.

"Wait, I thought you said you'd never…" he trailed off, apparently seeing the sheepish expression on my face that told him there was more to the truth than what I'd told him. "Oh my God," he froze. "You were a virgin."

"Yes," I answered, an odd mix of sorrow and the tiniest bubbling gladness surfacing at the thought that I was one no longer.

"Oh, God. I thought it was just your first time with a man, not your first time period."

"Does it make a difference?" I asked innocently. I was glad he was my first, even if it wasn't within marriage like it was supposed to be. You only had one first, and there was only one Snow.

"Yes. I never would have let you hire me if I'd known."

"Look, Snow, I'm an adult, and I chose to hire-"

"You were a virgin. There was no way you could have known what you were doing," he was abruptly getting up and beginning to yank his clothes on. "I'll tell them we didn't do it, you'll get your money back-"

"No!" I interrupted. "I don't like the fact that I paid for it either, but if that's what it took to be with you, I don't care! I may not have known what I was doing when I hired you, but I know now and I still want to be with you! I love you, Snow!" I was shouting by this time, all trace of postcoital sleepiness gone as I got up on my knees for emphasis, breathing hard from my outburst instead of from pleasure like I had been earlier.

He had stopped mid-reach for his shirt and stood stock still in only his familiar leather pants. "No, you don't. Don't even say that."

"But I do! Why do you think I go to that place all the time? For the crappy wine? I go for you! Because I want to see you and be around you… because I love you!"

"You don't even know me," he muttered and resumed dressing hurriedly.

"I want to!" I moved toward him across the bed, "I want to get to know you, Snow, I can get to know you! And you can get to know me!"

"You don't want to know me. I'm a whore." He was clothed now, but he didn't put his necklace back on, just shoved it in his pocket in his haste.

"Then stay here with me! I can support both of us, you'd never have to work again!" I had given up hope of ever making this proposal, but it seemed like the way to salvage the situation at this point.

"No. I don't want anything more from you. Just forget tonight. Forget you ever saw me," he began stalking out of my bedroom and down the hall toward outside.

"Wait! How will you get home?" I had followed him out into the hallway still naked and caught his wrist, stopping him for a second.

"I'll take the bus back to The DR," he snatched his hand back and continued storming out of my house. "My car's there."

"No," I countered pathetically, "no, you don't have to do that…" I thought wildly for a better solution than letting him just walk out of here alone, following him out to the living room that now held memories of a different kind than I'd ever had before. My eyes lit upon the keys I'd thrown on the low table the night before. "Here," I held them out and he turned and saw what I was offering, but didn't reach out to accept them. "Take my car. It's better than standing out in the rain."

"And how would you get it back?" He asked, standing there still looking at the keys in my hand.

"Keep it. I've got another," it was the truth, but maybe it was the wrong thing to say, because he turned violently away from me, throwing his hair in a spray of silk that I felt bad for noticing just then, and kept walking with renewed force.

"I don't want your goddamn car, I don't want your money, I don't want anything! Just forget it!" He had spoken sternly, but had not actually shouted until just then. At that point, I knew. I knew with absolute certainty that I had failed. I wanted to tell him he could give the stupid car back if that made him feel better, but knew it would be pointless. I'd already made it look like charity, and maybe it was. He wasn't going to listen to me or even ever want to see me again, but one thing had to happen before he walked completely out of my life.

"Fine, if you're determined to go, then go, but at least tell me your name first! I won't try to find you or anything if you don't want me to, but just… tell me, please?" He stopped just as he was reaching my door and about to slam it and stood there considering my request, a storm of anger among other things battling on his angular face. After a long silence filled only with the violent pouring of rain, he spoke.

"It's Christian. And if you're about to point out the irony, just spare me, because I've heard it before. You're not exactly the pinnacle of holiness yourself. Not anymore, anyway." The door still made a sharp noise when it closed, but I suspected he didn't slam it as hard as he was planning to before I'd stopped him. I wanted to believe that was a good sign, but it was probably just a sign that I'd pushed him beyond the point of yelling and offended him deeply enough that there were no longer words.

I watched helplessly from the windows in my front door as he took off down the street, his footsteps making splashes in the puddles in the road and his hair rapidly becoming matted to his face and neck, sodden sweater hanging heavily on his shoulders. He was still beautiful then, like a rain-beaten flower, a wilted daisy that before, had given no outward sign that its life was anything but good, but now bared all the hardship that had fraught its short existence. I stood there at the window until he'd stomped out of sight, his head still held high, and then I sank slowly down into a naked and vulnerable heap on my living room floor, listening to the weather beating my house and feeling just as beaten myself.

True to his word, I saw later that Snow had gotten his employers to credit my bank account with the amount I had already paid, instead of charging me extra for staying with me afterwards like he was technically supposed to. No one had noticed Snow's arrival with me or departure alone from my house, or if they did, they said nothing about it. I was still a respectable member of the community, deservedly or not, Snow was still a prostitute, and soon the sheets with the only tangible evidence of our night together had been washed. In every aspect, it was as if the whole surreal thing had never happened. Everywhere except inside me.

A/N: This story is unrealistic in some ways, as you saw, but I chose to make it that way. This is my futuristic world where prostitution is legal and well-regulated, so please don't point out the obvious discrepancies with the way it is right now; I know. Let me dream. I couldn't let poor Snow be unprotected, could I? He'd be sure to have AIDS by now… and I couldn't let that happen, because I love my Snow! Let that be a lesson, kids… always use a condom. Snow does it, therefore it's cool. So there.