Notice! Warnings applied to this story are the following: Slash, death, total angst, attempt(s?) at suicide and other possibilities. Rated M for safety. The right to add more warnings without prior warning is retained. The right to blow you off entirely if you decide to read this despite the listed warnings and then flame it is also retained. You are on notice! (You have been warned!)

.beginning of part two of a two-shot story.

Location: Apartment, Prescott Valley, Yavapai County, Arizona, United States of America, Earth

Date: The Present

Time: T + 2611239 Seconds

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The phone was ringing again.

Izzy sat up, a bit easier than the previous few weeks, head peeking through a bundle of blankets. He'd finally relocated himself to the couch in the living room, making himself a comfy nest of a great mixture of Ta's things. He sniffed absently and rubbed an eye before laying back down. It was Saturday. He'd didn't have work... Maybe it'd stop.

As if like magic, the rings mercifully ended. Only to return a second later.

Realizing that it probably wouldn't end anytime soon, he pulled himself to the floor and stumbled over to the phone, pulling it up. "What?" he asked lowly, voice still scratchy from sleep and lack of use.

"Iseabail! Gott sei Dank!"

Oh. It was Grandmama. Izzy cleared his throat roughly. "Hello."

"What have you been doing all this time?! You have not called back or visited or anything! You should at least answer the phone for once! I have been trying to reach you ever since the time you locked me out! Kind unartig!"

The time in question was not long after Ta's wake, his family had come in an attempt to be comforting. He hadn't wanted it at the time.

"Sorry, Grandmama. I wasn't thinking straight."

"Ja! You were not at all! And you still are not, otherwise you would be here, at home!"

Izzy sighed as he wandered back to the edge of the couch, which was as far as the cord would allow. "This is my home. It was where me and Ta lived."

A strained silence followed. "I wish you would come home... Or let us come over. We all love you, even if we didn't support your..." Another pause as a politically correct word was chosen. "preferences. I know you cared for him, but... Please, Izzy, liebling, please. Would you at least talk to me over the phone about it? Your Mama has been calling ever since we visited last, but no one answers! Why do you not have a machine for getting your messages?"

"Grandmama, I appreciate what you're trying to say-"

"What do you mean?! I am not trying! I am saying what I mean to say, and you'd best listen to me!"

"Yes, but I-"

"But? But what? Enough is enough! When your Grandpapa died, I had to deal with it and move on! I had no time to grieve!" The voice grew a bit faint as it was muddled with two other voices. A loud click followed before another, softer voice replaced Grandmama's.

"Darling? Are you still there? Iseabail?"

Already feeling rather drained by this entire situation, Izzy simply sighed. "Yes, Mama. I am." He tried to make himself a bit more comfortable.

"I've been trying to reach you..."

"Yes, Mama. I know."

"You... Are you alright?"

The man gave a shuddering breath. "Mama, my boyfriend of five years just died."

"But that was over two weeks ago! You haven't even left the house, have you?"

"I've gone to work." As they lapsed into silence once again, Izzy knew more motherly wisdom was about to be imparted.

"Iseabail." Mama said all in a rushed breath. "Please, I say this as someone who loves you very very much and wants you be as happy as you can be. Please at least try. I'm not saying that you have to tell me everything, but please try to... to..."

"To get over it?"

"But your... Ta. He wouldn't want you to waste your life away like this!"

Izzy frowned at the phone. "Well, how would you know what he would want? It's not as if he could tell you, because he's dead, in case you didn't know! And don't bother coming down here again. I don't want your sympathy or help. Just leave me the hell alone." With a grunt, he threw the phone and burrowed ito the myriad of clothes and blankets, blocking out the worried cries from over the phone. They finally calmed down.

"Iseabail, I... I won't push you. I'll also stop calling, because I know you're a young man and can choose your own path... Just... Please don't forget that you're my only baby boy, and I love you more than you can imagine. Please don't do anything that could hurt you even more. Please." There was a pause. "I... I hope you can appreciate that you're still alive. Don't forget your own life. Don't replace it with someone else's. I love you... Good-bye."

The phone clicked and dial tones rang through the room, filling it with echoes that wouldn't go away.

Izzy laughed mockingly. Life? What life?

Location: Sundries Store, Prescott Valley, Yavapai County, Arizona, United States of America, Earth

Date: The Present

Time: T + 7642892 Seconds

It was now exactly two months, three weeks, six days since Ta had died. In that time, Izzy had managed to keep a decent enough work ethic, the bare minimum to keep his job, and begin to at least giving attempts to live again. He hadn't yet managed to clean out the apartment or even sleep in the bedroom, or even do much really, but he was making it through the day without resorting to drunkenness. Or at least obvious drunkenness. He had taken out the trash, though. That had to amount for something.

Finally deciding that one could only go so far eating on take-out, or rather, eating it whenever he felt like eating, which wasn't often. But it was becoming a more common to find that it was worth getting up to get the phone, dial the numbers, give his order and then use the remaining strength to turn the phone off, get the door and pay the person who brought it. It was time, he decided, that he should brave the world and make it through grocery shopping.

It was hard to leave the apartment willingly when it wasn't for work or to get more liquor, but beyond that, the trip had gone rather well, so far as the walking to the store went, as well as entering the store. Luckily enough, picking up (insert food here later) didn't make any new feelings of loss come to mind. In fact, so far, the entire shopping experience was going rather well, comparatively. Ta would be proud of him, Izzy knew it. No one had bothered to stop and talk to him or offer any condolences or well-wishings. It was nice, really. Of course, this may have had something to do with his less than clean appearance. Perhaps he should have shaved a bit more carefully before leaving the apartment. Or was it his clothes? He'd sniffed them before putting them on, but maybe they weren't all that clean?

Oh well... Too late now. He reached up for a package of instant cornbread.

Antonio glanced between two cans, one in each hand, his brow furrowed in deep thought. He was familiar with both brands and knew that the quality was the same. The only difference was that one was higher in cholesterol, while the other in sodium, and he honestly had no clue which was healthier. He wasn't cooking for himself tonight, and it unfortunately had to be someone who was more of a health freak than anyone else Antonio knew... and that health freak was going to be judging every one of his food-related moves. He was so nervous about these dinner plans that he was replacing all of the food in his house, as shown by the card full of every kind of food he was standing beside.

"Oh, screw it..." The waiter spotted movement out of the corner of his eye and immediately zeroed in on it like a hawk, raising both cans. "Hey, you, do you know anything... about..." He paused. He recognized that face, though from where was a different story. "... about cholesterol or sodium?" Perhaps, he hoped, he wouldn't be recognized in turn and could let his lapse in memory slide by unnoticed.

There was a moment of silence before Izzy mustered up a reasonable enough scowl and turned away, deliberately stepping sideways three steps to the right.

Antonio gave an inner frown and and outer smile as his hope flickered. "Sorry if I startled you, but this is somewhat important to me. Is cholesterol healthier than sodium, or the other way around?"

The other man remained silent, giving the cans of tuna fish in front of him the same serious attention one may give a death sentence. He glanced quickly to see if Antonio had left. No such luck. Fine. Be that way. Turning with a great frown, Izzy stared at the other with what he hoped was a scathing look. "I don't know, but I'm sure you could easily replace either one of them with something else."

"Replace them...?" A sudden look of realization struck him, which he tried to pass off as understanding while he put the cans back on the shelves. Oh! It was that guy whose partner died. He replaced the expression with a smile. "You're right. I'm sorry for bothering you. I can just get a different kind of soup altogether."

Izzy winced at the choice of words. "Yeah, I bet it's real easy for you." He remained were he stood. He wasn't about to back down this time. He was going to show this guy how pissed off his was. Ta would be proud, he thought.

Antonio's smile faltered and he sighed, lifting a hand to rub his temple. "You're still that upset over what I said?" He frowned. His arms lowered to fold over his chest in a stand-offish sort of way. "Honestly, it doesn't surprise me that you're still bitter." There was a slight pause before he went on. "But something like that just doesn't matter in the large scale of things, you know. I can say all sorts of things to you right now, or I can apologize and try to patch up sore feelings, but tomorrow, the sun will still rise." He turned to the various cans of soup and glazed over the different kinds. "The other details don't matter."

"Well, excuse me for caring about him!" The man turned abruptly, anger twisting his face. "I bet you don't know what it's like at all! I bet you never woke up one day and found the one person you cared about gone forever, and there was no way you could stop it!" The rage was quickly being replaced by a heavier emotion, the weight dragging Izzy's entire frame downwards. "And then everyone around you is either offering you this worthless sympathy and then telling you that you should get on with your life! Well, I hate to tell all you fuckers, but my life ended that day, so just stop telling me that I should get over him already because it's never going to happen!"

"People die all the time. Someone just lost their lover as I said that, and now, someone is dying and leaving behind their children." He turned to frown down at Izzy. "Your pain is so insignificantly commonplace that it amazes me how everyone who goes through it still thinks they're so alone despite the opposite being true." He looked back at the soups and grabbed a can, turning it so that he could read the ingredients label.

"So... you..." Izzy leaned against the shelving, face to the floor with a hand to get himself composed. After a brief moment, he got himself back under control. "So you're saying I'm being selfish, is that it?"

"Not necessarily selfish, but rather self-concerned. In most situations, when faced with some kind of painful experience, people reach out to others to find some comfort in the feeling of not being alone, of belonging to a circle of people with similar feelings. I doubt you've reached out to anyone for that kind of comfort." He put the can in the cart and frowned at Izzy. "Is there anything else you need? I still have the second half of my pantry to fill."

The man turned and stalked away without a word until he went out of sight before letting himself slump a bit. He finished his shopping trip, making sure he didn't bump into the other man again. He dropped the bags onto the floor of the apartment, an orange rolling across the floor. Ta liked oranges.

Izzy sighed and bent over to pick it up and stared at it absently, his mind wandering. Ta really had always liked oranges. Anything to do with them, really. Orange shirts, orange foods, all sorts of things. He'd asked once but couldn't recall what it was about orange that made it so likable. He turned the fruit in his hand, gazing at it's porous skin. Was this good? Was it good for him to not be able to remember everything about Ta? Wasn't that disrespecting the dead?

He slowly slumped to the floor. Surely it was a good thing that he wasn't collapsing into tears about it, though. Izzy paused for a moment, his gaze turning to the far wall. Now that he thought about it, he hadn't been doing that lately, too. Was that good? He sighed and let the orange fall to the floor; it rolled to bump against the counter.

"Ta... Is this alright? Is this what you'd want me to do? Is... Is this okay with you?" He wasn't sure if he was talking to Ta or himself. Was not being upset whenever he thought of Ta... This was all so confusing... Izzy hugged his knees close, but didn't shed tears. It'd be nice if there was someone to talk to. Someone who could help him...

He paused for a moment before the idea sunk in.

Maybe... The man stood suddenly, deciding to ready himself for that night. If nothing heinous happened while he got ready, then he'd take it as Ta's way of saying he was walking the correct path. A good omen.

Nothing bad occurred to him as he'd prepared himself.

Location: Party Bar, Prescott Valley, Yavapai County, Arizona, United States of America, Earth

Date: The Present

Time: T + 7645203 Seconds

Izzy peeked his head into the bar, suddenly feeling a bit shy at being so bold like this. To suddenly barge in after being so... pathetic the past few meetings. Not seeing the waiter, he wandered over to the table he'd taken the previous visits. It was rather nice to have a constant. As he sat down, he nervously jiggled his foot, his knee hitting the table-bottom. The rhythmic noise blended in with the loud dancing music.

He'd done his best to be cleaned up this time, hoping to create a better impression than the past few times. Izzy had made sure to shave completely, shower and clean up and he'd even worn clean, if a bit ill-fitting, clothes.

Antonio noticed Izzy not long after he entered the building and sent one of the other waiters to take care of him. He wasn't quite sure what Izzy's state of mind was, so he decided to watch from afar at first. Finally, after deciding that the man seemed to be rather calm, albeit nervous, he approached him. "Do you need a stronger drink tonight?" he asked, his tone glazed over and sweet, his designated 'dealing with a customer' voice.

Looking at the table ashamedly, the man shook his head. "N-no." He swallowed audibly. "No, I was just wondering... if I could... could ask a favor."

Antonio blinked curiously. "I hope it's not about soup. I never did figure out which was healthier."

He shook his head again. "No... I just wanted to apologize for how I acted today... and was wondering if I could talk... You'd said I should, so..." For a breif moment, Izzy wondered why he was suddenly taking the advice everyone had been telling him ever since then? Was he finally greiving well?

"Ah, I see." Antonio set the black tray on the tabletop and sat down beside him, resting his chin in his palm. His voice and demeanor were more relaxed as he asked, "What's up?"

"I.. I don't know where to start..."

"Well, start with the apology, and we can work from there." He grinned almost boyishly.

"I... I'm sorry. I guess I've just been..." Izzy paused as he tried to figure out what to say. "I guess I've been lost lately..."

"What do you mean by lost?" His eyes closed halfway. "Elaborate on that."

The man nodded. "I..." He sighed. "I was upset about everything... Everything made me think of Ta, and I wanted to stop, but... but now, I'm not getting upset. That's good right? I don't know if it is or not. Does Ta want me to get over him just like that? So very easily? He was a wonderful person, but would he be that selfless?"

Antonio leaned back, silent for a moment. "If Ta is as amazing as you say he is, would he want you to be a depressed drunkard? It's not a matter of selflessness or not." He shrugged. "What would you want for Ta if you died?"

"Could I be that selfless? I'd like to think I'd want him to... to be happy..." He sighed. "So I should do that too, then?"

"Of course. Besides, it's human nature to seek the comfort of others. It'd be cruel to deny that instinctual, primitive part of our brain." He cocked his head to the side with a grin. "Any other questions?"

"Could I just talk?" He twisted his mouth up into a one-sided grin as he continued without waiting for a response. "I... We'd been together for five years... I'd met him in college. We had the same classes and the same major and everything, so we became study buddies and then friends and then more than that." His grin grew. "We weren't really alike past that, though. We were opposites, really."

Izzy rested against a forearm, staring at nothing in particular. "And then he decided to just die one day." He sighed. "I guess it's good to be able to say it aloud without going all psycho."

"What happened to him?" Antonio asked point-blank. "You've been talking like it was his fault."

"Huh? Oh, er..." Izzy bit his lip. "Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome. It's a type of cardiac arrest, from what I looked up. He just sorta went in his sleep. I didn't find out until he didn't get up when he normally did... So I'd gone in to wake him." He was rather proud of how well he was keeping himself composed, but sighed nonetheless. "At least it was painless, I guess. I just wish I'd woken up to've do something."

Antonio nodded, closing his eyes. "I can understand that, but there's little point in reflecting on things that can't be changed. It's good that you're making progress." He opened his eyes and smiled. "I'm sorry for some of the things I've said. I misjudged your character."

Izzy made a wonderful portrayal of a constipated cow. "What?"

"Don't get me wrong, I still mean everything, I just could have said it better." He leaned back to stretch out some before slumping forward to rest against the counter. "I could give you a longer explanation, but this conversation is about you."

"Oh..." He frowned. "Well, I've been thinking alot... and I just thought I'd give your advice a try. Er, not the find someone else part, but the other bits and all. That's all and such..."

"Is that so?" He inclined his head to look out across the bar. "There are plenty of men here who might suffice for a night or two, you know, if you change your mind."

"No, I don't think I will." Izzy looked up with a small, weak smile. "Er, hi. I'm Iseabail Katz. Thanks for listening to me."

Antonio turned his attention back on Izzy and nodded. "Antonio, and it's my job, so don't worry about it." He paused. "Did it help?"

"Not really... Maybe a little bit."



The two sat in a bit of silence as Izzy awkwardly nodded, unsure of how to continue. Once the pause grew too long and heavy to bear comfortable, he stood, the chair scuffing the floor behind him. "Er, thanks again. I'll let you get back to work now."

Antonio picked up his tray and turned it slowly in his hands. "You know," He inclined his head to smile up at Izzy. "I'm not doing anything after work, if you have anything else you want to get off your mind." He lifted the tray almost defensively, as if it were a shield. "Strictly professionally, of course. You're not my type."

The other man stared for a moment before slowly smiling lightly and running a hand through his hair. "Not that I'm up to replacing Ta just yet... It'd be nice to have someone to talk to."

Location: Apartment, Prescott Valley, Yavapai County, Arizona, United States of America, Earth

Date: The Future

Time: T + 13998032 Seconds

The phone was ringing. Izzy picked it up as he wandered into the living-room-cum-dining-room-cum-kitchenette.


"Iseabail... It's Mother."

"Oh, hi Mama."

"Iseabail... Are you alright? How are you feeling?" A pause.

Izzy smiled lightly. "I think... I think I'm doing a lot better." He paused as he wiped off the counter and leaned against it, tossing the washrag into the sink. "Oh, I'm planning on coming up next week and I'm going to bring a friend, too."

Perhaps there was life after death.



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.end of part two of a two-shot story.

Ending notes: Well! This was a therapeutic story to do... Life is being surprisingly stressful. In either case, depending on Kris's opinions, there may or may not be a small continuation or perhaps a preface of sorts for Antonio (who was originally only supposed to have one or two scenes. He grew a bit more interesting that he was supposed to. haha).

Perhaps? Whatever may be the case, thank you very much for reading! We hope you will follow on with us as we continue!