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"Abduction and Affection"
~ Chapter Two ~
By: Saadia Mirage
e-mail: saadiamirage

The Standard Warning: This story overall is rated R for sexual depictions, profanity, and violence. This story also contains both heterosexual and homosexual (yaoi - male/male) romantic themes. Read at your own discretion. Polite, constructive criticism will be noted, but flames will be laughed at and ignored.

The naughty stuff doesn't come until later, but this chapter is rated rated R for violence, profanity, and a bit of suggestiveness.

This entire story, and all characters herein were created by, belong to, and are copyright to me. Do not redistribute this story or use its characters without permission. If you would like to post this story on your web site, please e-mail me.

A note about story symbols: I use series of symbols to signal changes in scenes and to mark the beginning and end of flashback sequences. Here's the key:

***** change in scene
~~~~ start flashback
~~~~ end flashback

Also, thoughts are put in apostrophes. For example: I bet you readers are wondering 'Just when is this story gonna start, all ready?'

The flashbacks don't start happening until chapter three, I believe though, so just don't worry about them for now.

Thanks! I hope you enjoy the story! Please review!

~ Saadia ~
saadiamirage

Chapter two: "Runaways Always Get Into Trouble"

Farrah sighed, drowsily. She wasn't used to getting up this early. Usually she liked to sleep in on weekends, but today she couldn't seem to keep her eyes closed. Last night had been strange, but exciting. She had been kissed by the most handsome man she had ever met. Afterwards, of course, he had run off like a shot for no particular reason. But he had said he'd see her tomorrow, so there was hope.

But she just had to get out of this place. Not only her excitement had kept her awake last night, but the beds were hard. Plus, right as she was just about to drift off, someone down the hall had began making an indecent racket, and continued long into the night. Muffled moans and thumping wasn't the lullaby she was used to.

So the next morning, she decided she would take her things and go find another place to stay. She only hoped she would see Grant again before she left. For now, she sat in the empty barroom at a small table and sipped at her tea. The tea here was a little too bitter, she thought.

Just as she was pondering whether or not to ask the rather frightening bartender if they had any sweetener, the moody blonde boy from the other day came down the stairs, whistling cheerfully.

She blinked. Whistling?

He set down the bedrolls he was carrying beside the check-in desk, then turned and went back up the stairs without even noticing her.

Abandoning her breakfast, Farrah stood up and walked over to where he had put his things and waited.

He came back down again a moment later, this time carrying a large black, triangular suitcase. When he saw her, he stopped whistling abruptly and dropped the bag onto the floor in surprise.

"Hello." She said. What was the kid's name? V-something. Voltsagon? Volseenin? Volkswagon? She couldn't remember.

"Uh, hi." He mumbled through his scarf that was once again covering half his face.

"You're Grant's partner right?" She asked, "I'm Miss Lynne. Do you remember? We met yesterday."

"I remember." He said, blinking at her with that peculiar eye.

"Is Grant with you? I'd like to speak with him." She said.

"Uh..." He mused, looking a bit panicky.

Just then, Grant came bounding down the staircase, whistling tunelessly as well. Just as the blonde had done, he stopped abruptly and dropped his things onto the ground when he saw her.

"Farrah!" He sputtered.

"Uh, good morning." She said, a bit confused. Why were they acting so odd? She could excuse the boy's behavior, he had been odd before. But now Grant...

Grant and his partner exchanged nervous looks.

She looked down at their things piled on the floor with sudden realization. Suitcases and bedrolls? "Are you two leaving already?" She asked.

"Uh, yeah. I mean, yes." Grant said, "We thought it best that we get out of this inn before we run up even more of a bill."

His companion pointedly rose an eyebrow at him.

"Oh." Farrah said, still a bit perplexed. "Weren't you even going to say good-bye to me?"

"Uh..." Grant stumbled, "Of course I was. We were just loading up early, that's all."

His partner snorted.

She frowned. Something was up. "What's going on?" She asked.

"Nothing! Nothing's going on, Farrah." Grant defended, smiling.

"What did you tell her?" The boy asked suddenly.

"What do you mean?" Grant said, turning to him and giving him a severe look. "I just told her how we were robbed and couldn't pay our debt. You know."

"Ah." The boy scoffed, "Of *course*..."

"You mean that isn't the truth?" Farrah said, giving Grant a disappointed and suspicious look.

"Of course it's the truth!" He lied.

"No it is not." His partner countered.

"Volks!" Grant yelled, looking betrayed.

"You might as well give her back the rest of the money. We've all ready paid our fine and we can leave." Volks said matter-of-factly, giving his partner a good stare-down.

"I don't understand." Farrah whimpered.

"Look, Farrah..." Grant began, looking rather defeated, "I'm sorry about this. But I kinda stretched the truth back there about the being robbed bit. It's just we needed the money so badly... And you..."

He had lied to her to get money, she thought miserably.

"You see, we weren't robbed." Grant continued, "I kinda, uh, lost our money in a bet. And we got into a bit of trouble. And we're being followed, so we have to get out of this town fast."

Farrah's frown deepened. She felt so used! He had even kissed her...

"...Anything else?" Volks piped up.

Grant sighed, rubbing his temples as if he had a headache. "Uh, Farrah... There is something else I should probably tell you about me..."

"What?" She asked fearfully.

"…I'm gay." He said, simply.

She just stared at him, silently for a solid fifteen seconds before bursting into unsuspected laughter.

Volks and Grant looked at each other sideways.

"That was a funny joke there Grant, a bit cruel, but you really had me going there for a minute!" Farrah said, between giggles.

"Uh, it's not a joke." Grant said, looking at her strangely.

She burst into another fit of giggles. "Quit it! Really!"

"Seriously Farrah, I'm gay. I'm not kidding." He reinstated.

Her laughter died down a bit. "What?" She asked, still skeptical. "No way! You can't be gay! You're too... Too... Masculine, or something!"

"Well, I am. Sorry if it's a disappointment." He said, crossing his arms.

"I don't believe it." She said, smirking. "Prove it."

"Prove it?" Grant repeated, confused and a little annoyed. "How? I don't have a 'Certificate of Homosexuality' or anything."

Farrah's smile widened. She knew how to catch him in his little prank. "Kiss him." She said, pointing to Volks.

The boy's face turned bright red.

Grant looked at him, then at her, then at him again. "Okay." He said, shrugging. He leaned over and planted a kiss on his cheek.

If possible, Volks turned an even brighter shade of red.

Farrah was unimpressed. "Hmmph." She muttered. "I give more passionate kisses to my grandmother!"

Grant frowned.

"Come on, I want to see a REAL kiss." She said smiling, and putting her hands on her hips.

"Fine." Grant said, and took hold of the smaller boy's shoulders.

"Grant!" Volks squeaked, "I-in public?"

"There's nobody here." Grant said, smiling a little at his friend's embarrassment.

"But s-she, she's watching!" He stuttered, glancing nervously over at the girl, now wearing a smug little smirk on her face.

Farrah felt smug, too. There's no way that poor boy is going to let him do much, she thought happily. He's totally flustered! The act was going to end now.

"There's nobody here." Grant repeated reassuringly, taking his head in his hands and turning his face around to look him in the eye. "Just you and me. Nobody else."

"B-but-" Volks began, eyes darting in Farrah's direction.

"Nobody." Grant said again, blocking his view with a hand. "Now just hold still and open your mouth a little..."

Blushing furiously, Volks didn't do anything for a moment. Then, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes shut tightly, as if he was awaiting some sort of blow.

Farrah stifled another giggle. This wasn't at all convincing...

Then Grant leaned down and kissed the boy tenderly, without the slightest twinge of awkwardness, as if he had done it a thousand times before. They stayed like that, lips pressed together, for a good while.

Farrah's doubt began to falter.

Then the boy slowly lifted his hand to rest on Grant's hip, a little too familiarly, and a little too close to his backside. With this, the kiss deepened considerably, the walls falling down, and it became a bit too passionate for an audience.

"Uhh... Guys..." Farrah mumbled.

They continued, apparently not hearing her.

"Guys..."

Volks seemed to have forgotten why they had been kissing in the first place, and was just beginning to really enjoy it when he was snapped back to reality by a shrill voice.

"Cut it out all ready!" Farrah yelled, now feeling considerably flustered herself, and quite daft. "I get the idea!"

They jumped apart.

Grant smiled, rubbing the back of is head. "Sorry. Got a bit carried away there..." He put an arm around the boy again. "Are you convinced?"

Volks looked down at the floor, face burning. He pulled his scarf back into place nervously.

Farrah nodded, frowning. 'I should have known it was too good to be true,' she thought, 'What a shame...'

"Sorry." Grant said again. "Do... Do you want the rest of your-"

"Don't worry about it." Farrah said, waving it off. She felt terrible. She just wanted to go back home and forget about this whole thing. "I'm engaged anyway..."

"Engaged?!" Grant said surprised.

She sighed again, unhappily. "Yes. To Alexander Rocksford. Perhaps you've heard of him."

Grant's mouth dropped open. "R-rocksford, you said?"

She looked up at him. "So you have heard of him."

"Heard of him?!" Grant exclaimed, "His guys are the ones chasin' after us!"

"After you?" Farrah asked, perplexed. "For what?" Why on earth would Alexander have someone after these two?

"Long story." Grant said.

Just then, the entrance burst open and an obscenely tall, black-haired woman wearing a leather jumpsuit exploded into the room carrying an gigantic firearm. Without so much as a warning, she aimed the blaster at them and shot.

"Holy shit!" Grant yelled and grabbed his partner and Farrah and dove to the ground just as a spray of metal flew over head.

"Give up, O'Riley! I've got you just where I want you this time!" The woman yelled, cackling wildly.

A huge, beast of a man stepped in behind her, stooping and turning sideways to fit his bulk through the doorway. He stood beside the woman aimed another gun down at them.

Farrah screamed.

The woman, surprised, pulled her weapon down and actually surveyed the scene. She gaped at the red-headed girl on the floor in a heap with her two targets. "Lady Lynne?!" She asked, shocked.

"Olgah?!" Farrah asked in reply, "What's going on-"

She was interrupted when Grant hooked his arm around her neck and stood up with her, his own gun pointed at her head. "Back off or the girl gets it!" He threatened.

Farrah squeaked.

"Grant!" Volks shouted.

Olgah stood there in shock, weapon still in her gloved hands. The man beside her looked dumbfounded.

"I mean it!" Grant yelled, tightening his grip around Farrah's neck, "Drop the guns and let us pass or she gets a bullet in the head!"

There was a clatter of metal as the guns hit the floor.

Grant smiled warily, not loosening his grip. Shuffling with the gun still pressed to her temple, he took Farrah towards the door. He looked back at Volks, still sitting on the floor. "Come on!" He grunted.

Volks obediently jumped up, gathering as much of their things as he could, and joined them as they ran out the door, Farrah still in tow. Grant slammed the door behind them, and pressed his back against it.

"Damn it!" He growled to himself, holstering his gun again.

"What are we gonna do, Grant?!" Volks asked fearfully.

"Quick, go get some rope!"

"What for?"

"Just do it!"

Volks ran off across the street where the hitching post was and grabbed a coil of rope and sprinted back. "Here!" He said breathlessly, "What are we going to do?"

Grant just took the cord from him and tied it around the door handles. "That outghta keep'em for a while." He grumbled, knotting it and tugging at the coil. "Now cut this off."

Volks reached into one of their bags, pulled out a knife and cut off the extra rope.

Farrah was quivering in fright. Volks looked up at her, knife still in his hand, and she screamed again.

"Shut up!" Grant growled, grabbing her arms and twisting them behind her. She sobbed as he tied her wrists together tightly.

"Grant..." Volks whimpered, stuffing the blade back into his case.

"Sorry Farrah." Grant said to her, not the least bit soothingly. "We gotta get outta here. You're coming with us."

"Let me go!" She cried.

Grant picked her up and threw her over his shoulder so her bottom was up in the air and her chest pressed up against his back. She tried to scream again, but it came out more of a wail.

Unheeding her cries, he took off at a run towards the stables.

Seconds later, after Volks had quickly followed in his wake, the door burst into splinters and was torn from its hinges. The huge man stepped though the opening, and looked around slowly.

"Out of my way Hulk, you fat-head! He's getting away!" Olgah screamed, trying to squeeze her way through behind him.

"What's the Lady doin' wit' 'im?" He asked, moving a bit to let her through.

"...Lady? Oh, right Lady Lynne. Who cares about that little trollop!" She hissed, reloading her blaster and looking up and down the dusty road.

"Well, Master Alexander would be awful angry wit' us if-"

"Shut up, Hulk!" She growled, "Now where did that delicious-"

She was interrupted as a pair of horses galloped by a full speed, kicking up a considerable amount dirt into her face.

"Help me!" Farrah wailed helplessly from where she was slumped behind Grant in his saddle, holding onto to is jacket for dear life, lest she thrown off the quickly moving horse and trampled beneath it's iron-wrought hooves.

Olgah's reaction was to raise her weapon and shoot another round of metal in their direction.

Volks ducked, and yelled a warning.

Farrah screamed again.

Grant tried to swerve, but with Farrah clinging to his coat, he couldn't lean far enough and a piece of shrapnel sliced into his side.

He loudly shouted obscenities in response, but kept riding.

"Are you all right?!" Volks asked, his horse struggling to keep the pace as they rounded a sharp corner and doubled back through the alley.

"... J-just a scratch." Grant answered, grimacing.

"You're bleeding, we should-"

"Just keep going! We gotta get the hell outta here! There ain't no way I'm letting that kink Olgah catch up to us!"

"But-"

"Keep riding!"

Staring after him worriedly, he consented and followed. Still at a full gallop, they sped down the alley and back onto the main road and out of town. Swerving again, they took a back road and kept that tearing pace for a good half hour. Then they kept going. The town quickly disappeared behind them, the scenery turning from dreary brown village to dreary brown farmland, then to a sparse forest as they neared the river.

The horses staggered to a stop on the central side of the river, in a small concealed clearing just as the sun began to set. Farrah, throuroughly jostled and entirely saddle sore, slid off the back of the horse. Volks tried to help her down and she veered away from him. Sighing, he looked up at Grant through his sweat-soaked bangs tiredly. Grant was staring forward, bent over in his saddle and panting almost as heavily as his horse.

"Grant...?" Volks asked softly. "Are you all right?"

He slowly turned and looked down at him. He blinked, as if trying to concentrate. "I'm... I'm okay."

Volks' brow knitted together as he observed the dark, growing red stain on Grant's jacket. "You seem to be bleeding an awful lot for just a scratch."

Grant managed a weak, lopsided smile before he almost fell off his horse. Volks jumped to catch him, and almost fell over with him.

Grant clutched at his side. "Aww, shit..."

Volks frowned grimly. He swung off his dark robes onto the ground under a tree. "Quickly, take off your shirt and jacket and lay down."

Grant obeyed silently, except for varied winces and grunts as his clothing was removed.

Volks observed his wound, dark skin sliced across the side of his stomach, sticky with old and new blood. His mouth tightened at the sight, but he didn't flinch away. He looked up at his companion's pained face. "Tell me how it feels."

Grant nodded and began, "...At first it didn't hurt so much, it went kinda numb for a while and I thought it was just a gash, but I think it's still in there... Something sharp..."

Volks sighed. "Damn it Grant. Why didn't you say something? You've lost a lot of blood...!"

"I... I didn't want to stop, I was afraid that... That they'd get you, too..."

Volks shook his head unhappily. "Grant..." He mumbled, then turned away searching for something behind him. Farrah was standing a short distance away from them, staring at the blood with wide, frightened eyes. "I need my bag." Volks said, and was too absorbed with Grant's injury to be surprised when she brought it to him. "Thanks," He said, taking and quickly digging through it's contents for some gauze and bandages.

Farrah sank into the background again, taking a tentative seat on the ground in the center of the clearing, shivering, and facing away from them.

But Volks' mind was not concerned with her at the moment. He put one hand high on Grant's side, reassuringly. "Hold still now, I'm going to try and pull it out. I think I can see a piece of metal."

With his other hand, he gently spread open the wound. Grant's whole body tightened and he had to bite his lip roughly as to not cry out in agony. Sensing this, Volks quickly and nimbly dipped the fingers of his other hand in and got a firm grip and pulled.

Unable to withhold it any longer, Grant swore loudly and vulgarly. Volks withdrew his hand and pressed gauze up against the fresh blood flow. Grant look down at himself, paled, and looked up again feeling a bit sick.

"...Blade blasters." Volks muttered sourly, inspecting the thin metal shard he had extracted. "Those ruffians."

"Is, is it bad?" Grant whimpered, closing his eyes as if to escape the sight of blood. He shifted, and instantly regretted it as pain shot through his side. "Oh, shiiiit..."

Volks took away the gauze and assessed the damage. It wasn't a large wound really, it just hit a bit of muscle, nothing serious if the bleeding was stopped and it was taken care of properly. "...I think it will be okay now. These aren't meant to kill, just mangle. I'll have to sew it up though." He said.

"Dammit!" Grant winced.

"Just a few stitches, maybe half a dozen." Volks assured.

"Fuck!" Was Grant's response.

"Quiet down now, everything's okay." Volks said, trying to soothe him. He pressed a clean gauze pad onto the wound while fishing in his bag for his scissors and thread. "It won't hurt too much."

"Like hell it won't!"

Volks sighed again, and laid out his equipment on their strip of leather along with his needles. Grant watched him with horror. Volks dipped into his bag again and withdrew a small silver flask. "Here, drink this." Volks said gently putting it to his partner's lips.

"What is it?'' Grant asked, stubbornly.

"Just drink it. It'll dull the pain."

Grant took a slug, then grimaced. "Tastes like shit-water."

"Drink it all." Volks commanded.

Reluctantly, Grant tossed it back. "Wh-what was that stuff?" He coughed.

"Just some fermented jangola oil, among other things. How do you feel now?"

"Uggh... I feel s-smashed." He murmured, groggily.

"Good, it seems to be working. Try to fall asleep now."

"I can't, knowin yer gonna stick me with n-needles..."

"Shh. Just don't look then."

Grant closed his eyes. It wasn't that he couldn't stand pain. He had a pretty good threshold of pain, he had always thought. It just really pissed him off when someone made him bleed for no reason. And he did not like needles. There was just something incredibly disquieting about having a thin, sharp piece of steel stuck through your skin in order to heal you that confused and unsettled him entirely. And of course, there was the matter of his father's death...

Grant did not like needles.

And now, because of Olgah, he was having to get repeatedly stabbed with one. "Fucking bitch..." He growled, half to himself, "Blast without a w-warning..."

"Shh..." Volks comforted, squinting as he threaded his needle. "Just try to relax. It'll only take a second."

Volks was quick, but not quick enough as far as Grant and his painfully throbbing side. The pain had been dulled, but he could still feel the tightening pull of the thread and the initial pressure of the needle sinking into his flesh. Thankfully, he couldn't really think straight as it was happening. That stuff that he drank really did have an impressive kick to it.

He noticed a lull in the stabbing, and opened one eye cautiously and observed Volks putting his things away.

"Done?" He asked, hopefully.

"Done." Volks replied. "You can go to sleep now. No more sharp objects in you vicinity."

Grant sighed with relief. "Thanks... I dunno what I'd do without ya sometimes..."

Volks smiled down at him, triedly. "Your welcome. Get some sleep."

"I really meannit... I'd be... I'd be dead seven times over if ya werennt... Y'know... Uh... What was I sayin' again...?"

"Go. To. Sleep." Volks said, punctuating each word as he stuffed his equipment back into his bag.

"Mm'kay." Grant mumbled.

Sighing again, Volks took the second layer of his cloak and laid it over his groggy partner. "Good night." He said softly, standing up to go wash.

"Waitamminute..." Grant said, catching onto his pant leg. "Ain't 'cha gonna kiss me g'night?"

Farrah sat there, cold and miserable on the hard ground with the rope around her wrists rubbing them raw. Grant was asleep now, on the other side of the small campsite, snoring softly. His resourceful little partner was piling wood up a few yards in front of her, and after situating the branches and twigs to his liking, he took out a set of flint and steel and after a few tries, successfully began a fire from the white-yellow sparks. He sat back and watched the orange embers turn into warming flames. She stared him curiously.

He was very quiet. In fact, he hadn't said more than five words to her since they had carted her off, and then the only thing he had said was "I need my bag," and a half-hearted "Thanks" when she brought it to him as he tended Grant's wound. And carrying that bag had been quite a job, with her hands tied together. When she asked if Grant would be okay, he just nodded grimly, and went off to wash the blood from his hands. Grant was still awake then, but rather drunk from the 'medicine' Volks had given him. He had warned her not to try to run off or she might "Get a bullet in her ass" as he had so eloquently put it, reassuring her that if he had to shoot her, Volks could fix her right up again. The whole ordeal had been highly unsettling. And it was completely disenchanting to find out that who she thought was a polite, heterosexual gentleman was exactly the opposite.

But now Grant was asleep, and quiet night had settled on the roadside. Farrah sighed softly, wishing she wasn't such a sucker for a handsome face. If only she had some sense in her head she would have never gotten herself into this mess. At least the fire was beginning to take the bite out of the autumn cold. Volks was still sitting beside the fire, watching the dancing leaves of heat flicker in the faint breeze.

He looked so different now than he had back when she had first seen him. Before he had seemed rough and fierce and mysterious. Now, however, he had shed his thick robes and the big black steely shoulder guards were put away in the saddle bags. He was dressed quite simply underneath, if still a little strangely, in slim, navy-colored slacks, long-sleeved white undershirt rolled up to his elbows with a sort of ragged, black T-shirt with the sleeves torn off worn over it.

He didn't seem threatening at all any more. In fact, he almost seemed... delicate. He had very long legs and slender shoulders and narrow hips. If he was taller, she could have described him as 'spindly' or 'lanky' but he wasn't, so she wasn't sure how to puts his looks into adjectives. He wasn't skinny, really, either, just kind of thin.

Without his scarf, she could now see his face clearly (well, except for the part that his scraggly hair covered) and was rather surprised by his boyish good looks. He had a short, square-ish chin and thin, pink lips with a small pointed nose. His skin was light-colored, almost pale, but not quite, a nice creamy peach on his cheeks. And those eyes. They didn't seem quite so frightening any longer. They were actually kind of pretty. The color reminded her of the ripe red grapes that grew in her father's vineyard in the summer...

Home. Oh, how she missed it now. Why had she run away? It was a stupid, foolish, immature thing to do. She felt like crying. And now she was sitting here admiring her kidnapper! She closed her eyes. Stupid, stupid, stupid...! In spite of herself, she let a little miserable sob escape her throat.

"Are you all right?"

She looked up, to find the strange boy looking at her, concern in those odd-colored eyes. She blinked in surprise. He had spoken to her?

Seeing her confusion, he repeated the question.

She answered, a little shakily this time. "I could be better."

The sympathetic look he gave her surprised her even more. "I am truly sorry about all this..." He said softly. That accent... Where did it come from?

He continued, looking guilty. "I never thought something such as this would happen. I apologize for Grant, as well. I'm sure he didn't expect things to take this sort of turn. I assure you we have never done anything like kidnapping before..." That accent was distracting. He drew out his vowels just a little more than most... "Are you feeling well, Miss?"

She started. She had been staring. "Oh... Well, I... My wrists hurt a little..." She said.

"Oh, my!" He said, standing up suddenly, "I'm terribly sorry! I had forgotten you were all bound up! Here, let me untie you!"

A few seconds later, she was rubbing her wrists tenderly with her newly freed hands in relief. She stared up at him in hesitation. "... Thank you." She mumbled.

"It's the least I could do, after what we have put you through."

"...Well, you could just let me go..."

"Umm, no. I'm afraid Grant would be quite angry with me if I did that."

"It was worth a shot." She sighed. It's not like she could get very far without a horse out here in the dark, not to mention she had no idea where they were or in which direction the closest town or city was.

"... I don't blame you." He said, sitting down across the fire from her. "I... I apologize for my manner at our first meeting. I suppose I was a bit... Envious..."

'... Of Grant's attention to me.' Farrah finished in her mind.

He blushed and quickly changed the subject. "B-but we seem to be stuck in this situation together, so we might as well try to make it pleasant."

She couldn't help but laugh. She had never heard of anyone finding a kidnapping pleasant. But perhaps it could happen. This was all so ridiculous and absurd. Her, Farrah Lynne, kidnapped by a pair of young, good-looking gay men! How in the world did she wind up in the mess?

She wiped her eyes, and looked over at him. And how in the world did this boy wind up with Grant? And what was his name again? She decided to ask this time.

"Volkshien Shra'da." He answered, a little surprised.

"That's right. I just couldn't remember. I knew it was V-something."

"If it is hard for you to say, you may call me 'Volks'," He said, laughing a little. "Rhymes with 'folks'. I do not mind. Grant tells me that shortening names is show of friendship."

Well, he was strange, but at least he was acting friendly now. "I haven't had a nickname in a long time." Farrah said, warming her hands in front of the fire. "My father used to call me-" She stopped suddenly, realizing who she was talking to.

"What?" He asked.

"Uhh... Never mind, it's embarrassing and well..."

He smiled. "I won't tell anyone."

"Well..." She said, watching his reaction. "My father used to call me 'Fairy'..."

He just stared. "What's so embarrassing about that?"

She sighed, relieved. "Oh. I'm glad. I thought you might be offended."

He blinked. "Why?" He asked.

She stared back as him. "Well, y'know... Fairy..." She began.

He didn't get it.

"You know that... Uh... The word 'fairy' can be a derogatory term... Applied to mean... ahem... a gay man."

His eyes widened. "Oh! No, I didn't know that."

She laughed a little. "Where on the world did you come from?" She asked, deciding to throw all politeness aside.

"Pardon?"

"Where are you from? I've been wondering ever since I first met you. You don't see many people who look or dress the way you do. At least I haven't. And then there's you accent." She said, shrugging.

"Oh. Of course." He said, running his fingers through his hair a little nervously, "My people come from the Southern Mountains, in the village of Municia."

She smiled to herself. 'So I was right. He is from the Southern Province.' She thought. "I am from Centralio." She said.

"The capital city?" He asked, "So why were you in Gostompa?"

She cringed, then sighed. She might as well tell him. "I ran away from home. I thought no one would ever expect me to hide out in the west."

He blinked. "Ran... Away?" He said, "But why? From your parents?"

She laughed. "No, not from my parents, not exactly anyway. I'm twenty. I was running away from my fiancé."

"Fiancé? You mean the man whom you are engaged to marry?"

She nodded. "The man my father wants me to marry. Alexander Rocksford the Second." She muttered. "It's not that I hate him or anything, or even that I don't want marry him. He's nice... And respectable... And rich... And even sort of good looking. I just... I guess I just wasn't ready."

He nodded in return. "I understand. The pressures of the family are many. I too, left my home for similar reasons. Involving marriage, at least."

She was surprised. "Really?"

"Sort of... You see, I was going to marry... But my betrothed... She died." He said softly, "And there was nothing left for me there. So I left."

"Oh, how dreadful..." She said, suddenly feeling quite sympathetic. They must marry early in his culture, she thought. Then she thought about it again. "Wait a minute... You were engaged to a girl?"

He laughed a little, embarrassed. "Well, yes..." He admitted, "That was before I... Uh... Before I met Grant."

"Oh."

There was a short awkward silence, before Farrah's curiosity picked up the conversation again.

"How long have you known him?" She asked, trying not to sound too interested. "Have you two... Been together long?"

Volks thought for a moment. "Well... Lets see... It was early in season Verani, I believe... And it's past the equinox now isn't it? So just over a revolution, I suppose."

"Wow, that long?" She asked.

He nodded, smiling half-way and glancing back over under the tree were his partner was sleeping.

Farrah turned to look back at him, too. She frowned. If she should be mad at anyone, she should be mad at Grant. Volks seemed to just be going a long with him, so it wasn't his fault. It was Grant's. And how dare he dupe her into giving away her money?!

Volks turned back around to stare into the fire again, sighing wistfully. She looked over at him and was puzzled by the blush on his face.

"... It doesn't seem like that long ago that I met him." He said softly, pulling his knees up to his chest and hugging them. "He's really not a bad person... He can be exceptionally kind when he wants to be. He just doesn't think about the consequences of his actions all the time... That's all."

Farrah's face softened. The boy seemed to truly care for him. How strange. Not just because they were the same sex of course, Farrah had encountered gay couples before in the city, but these two just seemed so... Different. Different from each other, different than any pair she had ever met, and certainly different from her mental image of what a couple was, even a homosexual one.

"How did you meet him?" She asked softly, her curiosity once again getting the better of her.

"... I met him... In a bar." He said, half-mumbling with embarrassment.

Somehow Farrah knew that their meeting had not been at all as typical as it sounded.

To be contnued...

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