Electric Feel
Chapter Four

I yawn as I stretch, the tautness of my stomach and the arch of my back causing the sheet to slide lower on my body, resting just below my hip bones. The sun shining through the basement windows tells me that it's at least midmorning, and for the first time in days, I've reached this point without a pounding headache and a heaving stomach. Quelle surprise.

Another change is the man lying next to me in the bed, the sheet resting around his shoulder blades, his back moving steadily as he breathes, up and down, still asleep. I don't need to study him to appreciate his beauty once more, I think I've done enough of both studying and appreciating to last a lifetime. Not like it'll stop me from the latter, of course. It would be a waste not to appreciate him, and I'm anything but needlessly wasteful.

My eyes travel from the curves of his shoulders to his messy black curls and finally rest on his face. His eyes are closed, obviously, or else I would certainly appear to be a creep, and since I'm unable to see the darkness of his eyes, I can only focus on the long, thick eyelashes sweeping against his cheekbone. They probably add to the darkness of his eyes, I realize, so darkly set against that golden brown skin. Fuck if I didn't do a good job picking a one-night stand after Luke.

I figure there's a sort of rueful smile on my face as I consider how I didn't really do the picking. Indra introduced himself to me, invited me to The Styx, kissed me - all of which I was a willing participant for, and all of which I would have liked to do myself, but he was the one to take action, not even giving me a chance. I would've too. I've never exactly been called a delicate wallflower, one who waits on the edges of the dance floor to be swept away. No, I usually do the sweeping, if I'm to place myself in that scenario.

I'm also not one to really brag about the notches on my bedpost, so to speak, but the fact that Indra is now one of those notches and the fact that he pursued me, well, I can think of one person to whom I'd like to brag about this to. I'd smirk at him as I casually tell him about how guess what? I didn't have to get Indra drunk, and he came onto me. Fancy that. So it seems last night was not only great in physically satisfying me, but it'll be pretty emotionally satisfying to spring on Luke. And why not? If he wants to start a feud with me, who am I to just sit back and take it?

Indra grumbles slightly in his speak, shifting a bit, and then groaning as he slowly stretches, eyes still closed. His eyes flutter open, landing on me, and a soft smile comes across his face. "Hey," he says, his voice scratchy, groggy. "Guess we fell asleep afterwards, huh?" That "afterwards" would be a reference to the second time, which well explains how one gets worn out enough to fall asleep without trying to kick one out of bed. Again.

I nod, smiling back at him. "Looks that way. I didn't check on you, but I'm still naked."

Indra chuckles. "Being that I think I can see my underwear from here, I'm going to say that we don't have to check on me. You're welcome to, of course, but I don't think it's necessary."

I glance over my shoulder, and sure enough, there's a pair of boxer-briefs on the arm of the couch that I don't recognize as my own. And unless Michael, Pete, or Howl is kinkier than I think, they almost certainly belong to Indra.

I grab at the underwear, passing it to him. "Here," I tell him.

He smiles up at me. "Is that a hint for me to leave?"

I laugh. "Not a hint, just a helping hand. Protocol usually calls for leaving after the deed is done to avoid an awkward morning, and if that doesn't happen, I usually try to take the place of something to help avoid an awkward morning."

He still doesn't move but lounges quite comfortably, stretching his arms out until his fingers touch the head of the couch, then dropping his arms back to his sides with a sardonic grin on his face.

"If I expressed no will to leave last night, why would I now?" he asks, his tone bored. It's true, not five minutes after we had originally finished last night, after the first time, I had asked him if he wanted me to walk him to the door or if he'd let himself out. Obviously he hadn't taken to that, and I had just said "Whatever" to his unwillingness, and shrugged it off. Much like how he's shrugging off my queries now, actually.

"Not gonna leave?" I ask, bringing my hand up to my face with the pretense of scratching my ear but really, I'm just hiding the smile that plays across my lips.

He yawns loudly, obviously faking this, and looks at me, his eyes wide. "Not until you agree to dinner with me tonight."

I raise an eyebrow at him, and he just shrugs, grinning. "I know, usually you do the dinner before the sex. I'm all right with going a bit backwards."

I chew on the inner corner of my lip thoughtfully, though it's a motion that would be very hard for Indra to pick up on. Which is, of course, precisely why I do it. I'm not sure about the general society, but I don't usually get asked for dinner after what I thought was a one-night stand. Drinks, sometimes, a repeat performance, maybe, but dinner is not usually on the table.

Excuse the pun.

Indra touches my arm, leans in, and kisses my shoulder. "C'mon," he says softly. "Have dinner with me." I feel his smile against my skin. "It can't be that bad. At least there'll be no surprises in the after-dinner department."

This, I smile at. "I can't, I have to work tonight," I tell him.

He frowns for a moment, and then raises his eyebrows ruefully. "How about tomorrow?"

I think for a second, but shake my head before I have to actually consider if I want a dinner date. Of course, the answer to that will be yes. I'm nothing if not shallow, I suppose. I like to think that it would just be an example of me giving everyone a chance. It probably helps that this part of the "everyone" is gorgeous and good in bed. Not going to lie, those aren't bad character traits.

"No?" Indra presses, his frown deepening.

"Work again," I say simply.

He huffs. "Well, when don't you work?"

"Um, hold on, let me check." I lean over the side of the bed, finding my shirt, but that's not where I keep my phone. "Any idea where my pants are?" I call to Indra. "My phone's in them, and my schedule's in my phone."

"More towards the foot of the bed, maybe?" Indra suggests.

"That is a distinct possibility," I agree, moving in the direction he suggested. It is not lost on me that this direction gives Indra a full view of my ass.

I surface a few seconds later, the Blackberry my parents got me for Christmas in my hand, and lean back against the backrest of the couch. "Hmm," I say, scrolling through the calendar. "I'm actually working a lot this week. Need the money," I explain, eyes still on the dates and events.

Indra leans in to me, looking over my shoulder. He frowns. "So when don't you work?"

I shrug. "This week? Wednesday, and Saturday."

He leans back. "So Wednesday then." When he sees me frown, his eyebrows knitting together. "No?"

I shake my head. "My younger brother, his college is having a banquet. I kind of have to go. So unless you want to go to a banquet with my family, then I don't think Wednesday will work too well."

"Saturday it is," Indra declares. He nudges me. "Schedule me into your busy life, all right?"

I nod slowly. "Yeah, all right," I finally say.

He elbows me, that irresistible grin on his face. "Don't sound too excited now," he teases me.

I smile apologetically. "Sorry. I'm just a little rusty on the dating protocol, I guess."

"'A little rusty?'" Indra echoes.

"Well, traveling around last year didn't really give me many opportunities, and I've never really been the dating type to begin with, so." I shrug.

"Not the dating type, and not the type to let people stay the night. Well, you already broke one of your rules, so why not break the other one? It'll be fun to rebel a little bit," Indra urges, his dark eyes twinkling. I can't help but laugh.

"They're not rules, and besides, I told you, you're the first guy I've brought here, so I haven't really had to opportunity to let anyone stay the night."

He scratches his chin. "But I bet you're the type that usually doesn't let people stay the night. What was it, something about protocol to avoid awkwardness? Ah, yes."

I laugh, obviously unable to defend myself against my own words, and he continues talking.

"Yes, you're definitely the type not to give your one-night stands a chance at a relationship."

"If they're one-night stands, then that sort of implies that there was never much of an interest in a relationship past one night," I point out, smirking.

"With that sort of attitude, it's no wonder you're rusty at the whole dating thing," Indra mutters.

"Hey, as I said, I was traveling all last year, which doesn't leave many opportunities for dating, and besides, I'd rather be rusty than have dated Luke."

Indra frowns, looking down. "Of course he told you that."

I shrug, suddenly uncomfortable. "I told you Luke pointed you out to me. What else would he have pointed you out as if not an ex?"

Indra looks like he wants to say something but thinks better of it, shaking his head. "Never mind. But Saturday we put you back into the dating world, okay?" Jesus, he's stubborn, isn't he?

Suddenly it hits me, really fully hits me, that Indra is continuing to pursue me, that I don't have to fall into the category of one-night stand with him. And while he may have had some brief semblance of a relationship with Indra, Luke himself admitted to me that it was from nothing more than guilt over the one-night stand that Indra couldn't let be just one night for his own conscience. But here I am, being pursued by Indra to make it more than one night. If there weren't already enough reasons for me going out with Indra already - see: he's gorgeous and great in bed - the promise of the enhanced joy I'll feel from telling Luke is more than enough to seal the deal.

I smile at Indra. "Saturday it is," I agree.

He smiles back at me almost excitedly. "Yeah?" he asks, leaning in close.

I nod. "Yeah," I confirm.

He gives me a quick kiss before pulling back, and glancing at his watch with a sigh. "I should really get going," he says, his voice tinged with something like regret. "I'm already going to miss one class, I shouldn't miss any more than that."

"You're a student?" I ask him. I don't know why I'm surprised, except maybe because he's older than your typical undergrad. Maybe a graduate student though. I could see that.

He nods, pulling on his clothes, his back to me. "Yep. Fourth-year biology." So he is an undergrad. Color me surprised. "You?"

"Not really. Not at all," I correct myself, laughing a bit. "I did three years, and unceremoniously dropped out."

"After three years?" Indra asks incredulously. "Why?"

I shrug. "Wasn't sure what I wanted to do, and didn't think that the degree would do anything for me. No point throwing away money then, right? And," I add, running a hand through my hair with an embarrassed smile. "I kind of didn't return from Europe in a timely fashion, I guess you'd say."

"You were in Europe?" he asks, and presses on at my nod. "For how long?"

"Left the last week of April, got back middle of December. My mom wanted me home for Christmas," I explain.

Indra looks like he wants to ask something else, but seems to think better of it. "I'll save the rest of my inquiries for Saturday," he says with a smile. "Least we'll have something to talk about."

"Yeah, okay. And you're going to explain to me why you have that slight accent."

He looks surprised at that. "You can hear that?"

I shrug. "It's not that hard to."

"Most people don't pick up on it."

"Most people didn't spend the last couple months in England."

"You know it's British?"

"Well, now I do," I say with a shrug. "Save the explanation for Saturday," I cut him off. "Something to talk about, right?"

He nods slowly, looking at me ponderously. "Right, yes." He stands up, fully dressed by now. "I should probably head out, and finally leave you in peace." He says this last bit with a grin in my direction, and I can't help but to smile back at him, chuckling a bit.

"Hold on, just let me grab some clothes. I won't subject you to possibly being subjected to my roommates all alone," I explain, pulling on some pajama pants that Duncan and Pete's mom made me for Christmas a few years ago. I quickly shrug into a green t-shirt, and join Indra by the door of my basement room.

"All set?" he asks me, smiling softly at me.

I nod, tugging at the bottom of my shirt. "Yep. I'll apologize in advance for my roommates, on the off-chance that they're up," I say as we begin to make our way up the stairs.

He laughs. "They can't be that bad. Isn't one your brother?"

Last night, as we got into Indra's jeep to drive away from The Styx, I called Michael to see if I would be able to bring Indra home free of interruptions, a move that Indra deemed entirely too logical, and Michael, drunken idiot that he was, answered with a bellow of "Baby bro!" A bellow that I'm sure everyone within a fifty-mile radius of my phone heard. Drunken idiocy must run in our family.

I nod. "Yeah, it's my brother and his two friends."

"You get along well with them?"

"Oh, yeah. Michael, that's my brother, he saved my ass when I got home from Europe. I didn't want to move back in with my parents, so Mike let me crash here. We've always got along well, cheesy as that sounds, and I've known the other two for years. I wish I had an actual bed, but you know, all things considered, I can't complain too much about the situation."

"And they know you're gay?" he asks as we reach the top of the stairs. I glance around the kitchen, but it's deserted. The cereal boxes on the counter could be from today. Or they could be from last week. It's hard to say here.

"Yeah," I say, nodding as I survey the kitchen for signs of today's life. "I've been out since I was fourteen or something. It's not a big deal. As I said, Michael and I are close. He knew what he was signing himself up for, inviting me to live with him."

"I'll have to meet him sometime," Indra says. His mild tone makes me glance at him in surprise, but he's glancing around the kitchen with interest, eyes not on me.

I just nod slowly. "Yeah, sometime. He's probably not up yet though."

Indra shoots me a grin. "All the better for sneaking me out," he jokes. More like half-jokes, really.

Regardless, I grin back. "There's that," I say cheerfully.

We walk into the living room, and there, lying on the couch with his eyes blearily only half-open, the Cartoon Network on in front of him, is Michael. Pete stands in front of him, cereal bowl in hand. Both look at Indra curiously, though they don't say anything.

"Doing okay, Michael?" I cheerfully ask my brother.

He coughs, and I'm sure he's attempting a glare at me, but as you can imagine, a glare with eyes half-closed isn't much of a glare at all. "No," he mumbles.

I just smirk at him, and steer Indra into the mud room, leaning against the door frame as I watch Indra bend over to put on his shoes.

"Your brother looks like you," he says, his voice barely above a mumble from this angle.

"I know. We get that a lot."

He glances up at me. "I mean, I can tell you apart easily, but you can just tell -"

"That we're brothers," I finish for him. "Yeah. Our younger brother looks like us too, though not as much as Michael and I look alike. No dirty fantasies there, okay?"

He looks at me in surprise. "I didn't even think of that."

I sigh, unable to keep the small smile off my lips. "But now you're going to."

He nods, his own small smile flitting across his lips. "Maybe."

"Great."

Indra straightens, and moves closer to me, stopping when his lips are only inches from mine. I, however, don't like him stopping there, and close the distance between us, pressing my lips to his.

When I move to deepen the kiss, I can feel his smile. "Your brother's right there," he mumbles.

"You like it," I tease him, and he pulls away slightly, laughing.

"We'll continue this Saturday," he promises. "When we're not awkwardly being watched."

"Guess I'll settle for that," I say agreeably.

He fumbles his phone out of his pocket. "I should get your number."

"Oh, right, of course." I quickly recite the digits to him, and lean back against the door frame, smiling apologetically. "I'd get yours, but my phone's downstairs."

He shrugs, sending an easy smile my way. "No worries. I'll just call you sometime this week, and we'll figure something out. Sound good?"

"Sounds good," I agree. "So I guess I'll talk to you then."

"Yeah. See you," he says, but doesn't make to actually leave. He gives one last glance to the living room, and mutters something under his breath, then takes a few steps towards me, moving in to kiss me.

"My brother's right there," I protest jokingly.

He doesn't respond, but instead runs his tongue across my bottom lip, and I decide that I like that response a lot better than any other one he could've come up with. I eagerly jam my tongue into his mouth, and from his low groan, I can tell that he likes this response as well. Our tongues tangle together, and I'm just about ready to pull him back down into my basement lair once again - okay, truth, I'm more than ready because I'm not a moron - when he pulls away, swearing.

"I have class," he says, looking unsure of himself, though I am pretty sure that he does actually have class. "I should go."

"Probably," I agree, my voice low. "I'm not going to complain if you don't, though."

He laughs, not taking any steps away from me, still just inches from me. "I wouldn't either," he says, his own low voice making me shiver agreeably. "But I shouldn't."

I step back now. "Oh. Okay."

"I'll talk to you soon though. I'll call you tonight."

"I work, remember?"

"Oh, right. Soon, though, okay?"

I nod. "Yeah. See ya."

He smiles at me over his shoulder, a winning, charming smile if there ever was one. "Bye."

He leaves me standing against the door frame like an idiot because, I'm now realizing, it's a good idea to put underwear on if you're seeing your extremely sexy lay out the door when you live with your brother and his friends. Pajama pants don't quite cover it, and standing here for a bit longer than usual is probably a better idea than standing in front of Pete and Michael with a blatant erection. Neither option is desirable, of course, but while I'll be made fun of for both, only one is particularly awkward. Standing here it is.

"Hey, Gabe, watching your loverboy's backside from here?" Pete's laughing voice says, and I can hear his footsteps walking towards me. Well, if there's one way to kill an erection . . .

I turn to face him. "What's that, Pete?" I ask pleasantly.

He laughs, throwing an arm around me as he ushers me back into the living room until we're both standing in front of the lump on the couch that is my brother. "You're so nice to see your conquests out the door," Pete says before turning to Michael. "Isn't he, Mike? Your little brother's got manners."

"Right," Michael mumbles from somewhere under the blankets.

Pete pats me on the back. "He's proud of you, even if he can't properly articulate it right now."

"Right," I echo Michael dryly.

"A class act you are, Gabe. The only thing that could've made you classier is if you were to introduce your conquest to us."

I raise my eyebrows at Pete, and start to walk towards the kitchen. "Not a conquest!" I call over my shoulder. "And not going to subject the poor guy to you two!"

Pete follows me happily. "'Not a conquest,' he says. Interesting. So what is he, Gabriel?"

I sigh. "A friend?" I try.

"Do all of your friends kiss you goodbye? I don't know how I want you to answer that," Pete adds thoughtfully. "Given that Duncan is one of your friends." Duncan Wiebe is indeed on of my friends, one of my closest friends in fact, and Pete's younger brother. You'd think our parents must have been friends, for Pete and Michael to end up friends, and Duncan and I, but nope. That was all the younger generation's doing.

"With benefits?" I add belatedly.

"So what one might call a boyfriend then."

"Nope," I say cheerfully, sticking my head into the fridge to see what kind of delicacies are packed in our little gourmet kitchen today. The answer: None. I slam the fridge closed, choosing to rummage through the pantry. "Not a boyfriend. Am I going to get the third degree every time I bring someone home? Because that really should have been stated when I moved in." A juice box is a good start for breakfast, I figure.

"Now you're just being contradictory," Pete accuses.

"How's that?"

"You sure make it sound like an event that will be one of many. Conquests, that is."

"Not a conquest," I repeat.

"How not?" Pete demands. Is it just me or is he way too interested in this part of my sex life? Probably making up for the fact that my actual brother is too indisposed to properly interrogate me. Oh, how I love having a surrogate brother.

"Because that implies that I sought him out to conquer him, and that simply did not happen."

"Ah, so he conquered you," Pete deduces.

I shrug. "Well, he sure as hell came home with me of his own accord."

Pete scratches his head thoughtfully. "We never laid down any ground rules about bringing people home, did we?"

I glance up at him from my juice box. "Because I brought one guy home? Pete, I've been downright celibate the last couple weeks."

Pete sighs. "Yeah, I guess. You ever gonna see this 'friend' again?"

"Maybe," is all I say, opting not to tell him about the impending date. "He's the ex of this guy I hate, so there's always that."

Pete laughs. "You'd hang out with someone just to piss off his ex? That's harsh."

"You obviously haven't met his ex," I mutter. I set the empty juice box down on the counter next to other recyclables.

Pete cocks his head towards the basement stairs. "Is that your phone?" he asks.

I strain my ears, hanging the unmistakable tone of "The Final Countdown." "Your brother," I say by way of explanation. Because of course it was Duncan who programmed that to be my ring tone. He thought it to be entirely appropriate, not to mention hilarious, given that it's a song by a band named Europe, and guess where I had just returned from? Yep. That's Dunk for you.

I find my phone still lying on my bed from when I was scrolling through my schedule, and quickly lunge at it. "Hello?"

"Hey, Gabe, it's Seb," his carefree voice comes through the phone. "I'm on lunch, wanna join me?"

I consider this, running a hand through my hair. Lunch and then a haircut is probably the best idea I could come up with. "On campus?" I ask. Seb finished his undergraduate degree early, studious boy that he is, and as such, is now working on his Master's. Hence his relocation back to our hometown and its university.

"Where else? Can you be here in twenty?" That is about how long it takes to drive from Michael's to the university.

"If you want me to smell like ass, then sure." Seb doesn't know how literal this statement actually is.

I can just picture him wrinkling his nose as he says, "Ew. On second thought, forty minutes from now sounds a lot better."

"How long of a lunch do you have?" I ask, laughing.

Seb laughs too. "I did the whole teaching thing with my advisor earlier, so now it's just working on the ol' thesis for the afternoon. Figure out my own lunch break and all."

"Oh. That's all right then. So forty minutes, I'll meet you in your office?"

"Good by me," Seb agrees. "See you then."

"Yep, see ya." And now it is time to wash the lingering scent of Indra from my skin. It'd be downright depressing if I wasn't sure I'd be able to have him again. Luckily, I'm not one to get depressed, and even more luckily, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to find myself in this situation again. Say, Sunday morning, perhaps. Now there's a prospect to get you through the week.

On the drive to campus, I thought of something. I'd already considered how much fun I would have telling Luke that Indra's pursuing me, a guy nearly five years his junior, but as I drove, I contemplated how downright furious Luke would get if this relationship beat his mark of a week. And then some. Of course, it helps that so far I like Indra, so far so good and all that, so I wouldn't be just using him to get to Luke, no, but that's a bonus, right? And a motivation for me, he who doesn't have relationships, to actually have a relationship. So I wouldn't be completely using Indra, per se, just a little bit, but there's nothing to stop me from using Luke. Or, to be more specific, to aid others in using Luke, since the thought of myself using Luke as anything more than a punching bag is enough to make me gag.

With these thoughts in mind it's not hard to imagine why I don't waste time in asking Seb if he still keeps in touch with one of his ex-boyfriends, a man by the name of Nate Goode. Seb, true to form, nearly chokes on his water at this question, and sets his menu down suspiciously.

"Why?" he asks, his eyes narrowed as he studies me.

I shrug innocently, like that shit will work on Seb, who knows me too well for me to play an innocent around him. Still. "Just wondering what he's been up to."

"I repeat: Why?"

"I was thinking, Luke likes to use people. I mean, case in point," I say, pointing to myself as I struggle to keep my tone light. "Wouldn't it be nice to see that strategy flipped on him for once?"

"Sure," Seb says cautiously, venturing for another sip of water. "But by Nate?"

"Why not?"

"Um, because he's my ex?" Seb tries. "Because if I were to call him out of the blue, and ask him to sleep with some guy as a favor to you, he'd-"

"Do it?" I cut him off. What I told Rylan before was true. Seb has a tendency to go for guys who are players, and then he tries to domesticate them to various degrees of success. There's always been some degree of success, though.

Seb grimaces. "Probably," he admits. "Nate doesn't really turn down sleeping with people. At least, he doesn't turn people down easily." This has got to be a sore spot, given that their relationship broke down when Nate found it hard to commit to a monogamous relationship after a few months, and so searched for solace in the crevices of some other guy's mouth around his dick. Good times.

"And he's a bastard, so I don't see the problem here."

"He may be a bastard, but I'm not, not to the point of using my ex in your sick game with Luke. Oh, come on, Gabe," he says, scoffing at my expression. "Luke's gotta be pretty pissed about you not sleeping with him, and you wouldn't be actively trying to fuck with him had he not suggested it first. Otherwise, you'd just be ignoring him."

I attempt a half-smile. Yeah, that's true. "Luke wants to fuck you, you know that?" I tell him.

Seb shrugs, trying to look like this doesn't bother him, but I catch the slight downwards turn of his lips. "Well, it's not going to happen. I'm not as easy to get drunk as you are because I won't accept free shots from someone I know is trouble. I'm not roofie-bait."

I make a face at him. "I still don't see the problem with at least asking Nate," I say, changing the topic back to one I'm more interested in.

"The problem is he'll say yes, and I don't want to get him involved. Knowing Nate, he'll probably ask for some kind of repayment, and it would probably be in bed."

"So refuse him."

Seb looks me hard in the eyes, and snorts. "I would, obviously, but I don't have a personal vendetta against Nate. I'm not going to ask him to play around with some crazy jackass who probably wouldn't be above drugging him." Fair point, that. Luke is a fucking psycho, in my entirely biased opinion. "Besides," Seb says, leaning forward with a glint in his green eyes. "Didn't you say something about sleeping with his ex?"

Oh. That. When I met Seb at his office, he took one look at me, and declared me "well-fucked." I took it literally, and explained that yes, he was right, I had just been very well fucked. Seb, apparently, had meant that two nights of binge drinking combined with one night of not-exactly-taking it easy had done a number on me. So the assessment was doubly true, I'm sure.

I wave a hand dismissively. "Yeah, but I wasn't doing that solely to get to Luke. That's just kind of a bonus."

"I leave you alone for any amount of time in a social setting, and you get into trouble," Seb says, but his smile lets me know it's a joke. "Seriously, though even if it wasn't just to get to Luke, you've obviously thought about using it to your advantage against Luke, which I expected from you, you sadist, so you don't really need Nate."

"But it'd only add to the attack. He wouldn't be able to come back from that, from me sleeping with Indra, and then him being used by Nate in the same fashion that he likes to use people," I protest, already know that it's for naught.

Seb shakes his head, lips pursed. "Not happening. I think you're well capable enough to fight your own battles without resorting to my exes. What, next thing you'll be telling me to call up Paris, and ask him to sleep with Luke?" The joke, because that's what I figure Seb meant it to be, falls flat as Seb's eyes widen in the realization of what he's said. Two years later, and he still barely mentions the name of his most significant ex, the one that made him actually come out, and his former best friend.

As Seb's friend, I know I should ignore the comment, but the reason why Seb and I are friends is because I've always told him the things that he otherwise wouldn't even acknowledge. I'm not a sadist, like he accused me of, but I didn't completely let him wallow in his self-pity when Paris broke up with him, and I won't just let a mention go by without the smallest of acknowledgments.

So it's with a quiet, mild, strictly non-accusatory tone that I speak almost off-handedly. "I'd probably just call Paris myself, to be honest. He'd probably be too disdainful of me using others to do my dirty work to assist me in it though."

"Yeah," Seb agrees quietly, studying his hands.

"Does Julian know you're still not over Paris?"

He rolls his eyes, a small smile coming onto his face. "I'm over Paris. Romantically, at least, you should know that. Just not in the way that he's out of my life. Last time we didn't talk for a long time, well, not this long, but a long time regardless, he came back into my life so I guess part of me is still waiting for that."

"But he came back into your life when you two went to The Styx, made out, and began your then-illicit affair," I bluntly point out. "You want a repeat?"

Seb laughs, shaking his head no, but says no more on the subject. "So you and that Indra guy, hey?" he says instead. I recognize the change of subject, subtle as it is, and go along with him without protest.

"Guess so. He asked me out, you know." I fiddle with the straw in my Coke as Seb cocks an eyebrow, having long ago mastered the gesture.

"Oh? Was this before or after your slept with him?"

"After. This morning, actually."

"Oh, so an all-nighter. How cute," Seb teases me, knowing full well of my usual policy of not staying through the night. Or if it does make it to morning, there's not usually conversation or a chance to ask me out.

"Yeah, yeah, he's persistent," I say ruefully, running a hand through my hair. "I'm finally getting a haircut today, did you know?"

"That's nice," Seb says pleasantly before leaning forward with interest. "So you said yes, didn't you?"

I glare at him. "Yeah," I admit slowly. "I did."

Seb leans back, smiling satisfactorily. "Good. You need to actually date."

"I date!" I protest.

"Just not usually after sex. Usually you date as a way to get sex."

True. I am a man-whore, aren't I? I guess the best you can say for me is that I'm aware of this fact. "Well, he was good," I defend myself. "And you saw the man, he's gorgeous."

Seb laughs. "Oh, he's a right Adonis," he agrees. "I guess good sex and a great body is all it takes to get Gabe Laken into the dating world."

I make a face at him, and he laughs more before settling down. "I'm glad, you know," he says seriously. "Even if it does spawn from a challenge Luke issued you, that you couldn't sleep with the guy. I guess something made the idea more appealing," he says thoughtfully before shrugging. "Maybe it's just the challenge. You've never been one to turn away from a challenge."

No. I haven't.

This chapter seems more like filler than the others to me, probably because it's all dialogue. But still, I, as I usually am, am a bit unsure of it, so please let me know what you think. Either way, thanks for reading and I hope you're enjoying!