Chapter 6- Drawing closer

Cole glanced at his watch and sighed. He didn't know whether to be amused or horrified by the fact that he'd arrived at Isis 20 minutes earlier. He went ahead and occupied a table in a more secluded corner, knowing Rayner would like it due to the privacy it offered them.

He still didn't know how to interpret this sudden change in Rayner's attitude, but decided the best course of action was to take it in stride. He'd enjoy the ride while it lasted, then gather his losses and move forward.

Or at least that's what he tried to tell himself. Never mind that it was probably too late.

"Hey. "

"Huh? "He glanced up and saw Rayner looming over him with an undecipherable expression.

"Oh, Rayner. You're here. Hi. " Cole shot to his feet, then realized how ridiculous that was. Rayner wasn't a girl, and Cole had a feeling he wouldn't appreciate being treated as one. He instantly plopped back down into his chair, sheepishly glancing up at Rayner, where a blank stare met him.

"Yeah. Hi. "

Cole watched as Rayner sat down at the table, then proceeded to look around the café, a bored look on his face. This went on for a few minutes, until Cole frowned at Rayner.

"So what do I owe this invitation to?"

Rayner leaned back in his chair and regarded Cole silently. " Call it a thanks of sorts. "

"Of sorts?"

" Yes. For helping me last night."

Cole's mind flew to the night before, and everything that had happened. As far as he was concerned, it had been the last thing he could have done, after taking advantage of Rayner's state in such a shameless way.

"It was nothing." He averted his eyes from Rayner, fervently praying that the other man didn't remember that particular part of the evening. Rayner's smirk immediately told him he was out of luck.

"Do you always get this embarrassed the morning after?" Rayner grinned then signaled the waitress.

Cole spluttered and hopelessly tried to keep his blush from spreading, but miserably failed. He sighed and let his forehead drop on the table. "I'm sorry. "

"Whatever for?"

"For….for taking advantage of you. You were …not in any state to make such decisions. I'm sorry to have forced it on you. "

"Take advantage of…"

"Hey, what can I get you?"

Cole peered up with one eye to see the waitress staring at them with an amused smirk on her face.

"Oh. Coffee. A large one, please. " His head dropped back in embarrassment.

"Same . Thanks. "

"Sure thing. Be right back. "

"So…take advantage of me? Because I gave you a blowjob while I was high?"

"Well…yes. I mean, I…" Cole sighed and stood up in the chair. "I really am sorry. "

"Was it that bad?"

"What? No, of course not, it was…" Cole blushed again as he realized Rayner was teasing him. "Stop making fun of me. "

Cole was startled to hear Rayner laugh. It lit his whole face, making him truly beautiful, which put Cole in great difficulty now. One, because he couldn't take his eyes off Rayner now, and two, because he felt the need to see it as often as possible.

"Can't help it. You're easy. Besides, I should be the one to apologize. If I remember correctly, you were ready to jump out of your skin. I do believe I'm the one who took advantage." Rayner grinned.

"I wasn't in any hurry for you to stop. "As soon as he said it, Cole averted his eyes and thanked every divinity in existence for the arrival of their coffees. He couldn't quite believe he'd let that out.

"Here you are. Let me know if you need anything else. "

"Yeah. Sure."

"Thank you. "Cole smiled gratefully at her and she returned it, a touch of compassion in her eyes.

"So… I take it that I give good head?" Rayner sipped from his coffee and watched as ten thousand different shades of red passed over Cole's face.

"Do you always talk like this, or are you just trying to embarrass me?"

"Hmm... I wonder. "

Cole regarded Rayner with a bemused expression. "Smiling suits you. You should do it more often."

A cloud passed over Rayner's face and Cole immediately regretted his words.

"I don't have many reasons to smile these days. "

"Well, you just did." Cole grinned, trying to regain the previous mood.

"I did, yes. Curious, that. " Rayner frowned in Cole's direction. "Strangely enough, and for reasons I can't yet phantom, I feel …at ease around you. "

"I'm glad for that ." No, Cole was ecstatic actually, but he wasn't about to tell that to Rayner.

"Don't let it get to your head. It changes nothing. "

"Sure it does. " Cole grinned. " You're not getting rid of me from now on."

Rayner fell silent for a long while, staring right at Cole, as if trying to figure something out. Cole was trying his best no to fidget under the intense look, but it was becoming increasingly difficult.

"Why?"

"Huh? Why what?"

"Why me? "

"Well…" Cole coughed, desperately trying to think of something to say, but in the end decided the truth was the only way to go. He smiled at Rayner. " I like you. "

This truly seemed to puzzle Rayner. "Why? The blowjob couldn't have been that good."

"It wasn't the…that. I liked you before. "

"You just met me. "

"I know. " Cole could see the confusion on Rayner's face.

"What happened last night… it's not likely to happen again. "

"I'm not looking for that. "

"I don't do relationships. "

Cole grinned. "What do you do ?"

Rayner threw a serious look in Cole's direction. "Drugs. I do drugs. "

"I didn't mean…"

"I know you didn't. " Rayner sighed. "Look, here's the deal. I'm kind of screwed. There's no way back for me, but there's no reason for you to follow. "

"There's always a way, Rayner. And I just want us to be friends, at the least. It doesn't have to happen the way you're describing. "

"It will, eventually. I'll drag you down with me. Trust me when I tell you this."

"Is that what happened to you? "Cole was starting to get glimpses into the real Rayner, and it saddened him to see the depth of hopelessness that resided in him.

"This isn't about me. "

"Sure it is. But I'll let it go for now. "

"I'd advise you not to bring it up again."

"We'll see. " Cole suddenly grinned at Rayner. " But enough of this. When are you going to sing again? I'd like to hear you again. "

Rayner's expression shuttered. "I'm not singing again. "

"Why not? You have an incredible voice and …"

"I'm not singing again and that is that. Leave it alone. "

Cole didn't know what to think. The song had been incredible, Rayner's voice amazing. He couldn't understand why Rayner would deny himself the joy of singing. But then he remembered the look of pain on Rayner's face as he'd sung, and decided that it probably held some bad memories for him, things he'd rather not remember. Cole realized he had no right to meddle, not yet, no matter how curious he was about Rayner's true reasons. As with all of Rayner's mysteries so far, he'd steer clear of these sensitive subjects, until Rayner was ready to talk. If that time ever came, when Rayner would trust him this much, he'd gladly listen to what Rayner had to say. And if not, then so be it: he'd try harder.

"I think I'd better leave." Rayner pushed the empty cup of coffee away from him and made a move to get up.

"No, wait. " Cole thoughtlessly grabbed his hand. "Stay. Just a while longer. Or come home with me. "

Rayner blinked, bemusedly looking at their joined hands, before lifting his eyes up to Cole's. "I told you I'm not…"

"No, no, no. That wasn't what I meant. I didn't... Just to hang out. Together. Watch a movie or something. We'll stop and get something to eat on the way. Please. "

"I… "

"Please. "

Rayner sighed and pulled his hand away from Cole's. "Okay. Just a movie. "

"A movie. Perfect. We can go by the rent store, if you want something in particular. Or we could just watch one of the DVD's I have at home. I'm a big movie fan so I …"

"Cole. Stop spazzing." Rayner dug into his pocket and threw some bills on the table. "Let's go. "