What do you see? Is it me, or -
Simon was a sandy haired man with eyes that never quite met people's faces, but Delano loved him. He loved lots of people, but Simon was the one he was having sex with.
They first met on one of those rare nights that Delano was down near the bars. Delano enjoyed watching people and nursing something cold, but the last thing he wanted to do was have one of his bad days while in a crowd. Especially if he couldn't make a quick retreat or there were people around who were drinking to run from something.
He saw Simon for the first time at a bar. Simon was leaning against the wall and he stared at Delano as he left. Delano felt Simon's eyes on him, and as he left the bar, Simon smiled at him, and watched him leave. Delano's friend said that Simon was a messenger for the gangs like Delano had been, and that Simon had asked about him later. Delano didn't know what to say about that. He remembered Simon's eyes on him though, and that feeling of the warm air and the condensate on his bottle of beer.
The next time they met, Delano was sitting on the roof of his apartment and watching the sunset. He almost fell when a hand went over his eyes.
"I'd say 'guess who,' but you wouldn't know my voice." Simon moved his hand away. "Hello."
There was no point in saying that Delano often knew who someone was before they told him their names. Delano inhaled shakily. "Hello. You startled me." The air seemed to be warmer. He could feel Simon's eyes on his back, and there was an odd pain in his chest.
Simon asked, "What are you seeing?"
Delano leaned back and looked up at Simon's face. It looked strange upside down, but Simon was smiling. "I was watching the sunset."
"And now?" Simon leaned closer and Delano's head was supported against Simon's chest. Simon had some small wrinkles on the sides of the eyes from smiling, but other than that, he looked young. He had slightly curly reddish hair and his shirt was just tight enough to show some of the lines of his muscles. He was handsome in the way that any young man in good health was handsome, but there was a fire in his eyes that seemed to say that it was Delano that he was seeing, and not just a generic person.
"I'm watching you," Delano whispered.
Simon leaned closer and Delano could see the lines of his throat and his slightly chapped lips. A crow called somewhere nearby. "I saw you a few days ago. I can't get you out of my mind."
"I'm sorry." Delano half closed his eyes.
"I'm not complaining." Simon leaned closer still and Delano could smell the smell of sweat and smoke on Simon and an undertone of something like beer. "Are you?"
Delano shook his head. "Not at all." His head was spinning.
"That's good." Simon's lips covered Delano's and his tongue touched Delano's lips trying to coax his way in. Delano sighed and Simon took advantage of his open mouth.
When Simon pulled away, Delano found himself sliding from the parapet of the roof to sitting on the roof. "I -"
Simon knelt between Delano's legs. "You?" He smiled and his eyes were focussed on Delano's mouth.
"I almost think you're flirting with me," Delano said. There was a tremble in his voice.
"Maybe I should convince you of my - intentions." Simon chuckled and laid a hand on Delano's inner thigh. "Do you want to see more or me? Or the sunset?"
Delano looked up at the sky and then back at Simon. He inhaled and then said, "I want to see more of you."
"Here?" Simon cupped a hand on Delano's shoulder.
"My apartment is downstairs." Delano leaned in to kiss Simon. "My bed is far more comfortable."
Simon laughed and offered Delano a hand to his feet. "Let's go find out, Leroy."
"Delano," Delano insisted. "Call me Delano."
"Simon," Simon said. "You first. I want to watch you."
Stop looking like that -
Simon stared at him oddly after his first television broadcast as the King of Hearts. Then, he grabbed Delano, murmured something about "My King of Hearts," and tumbled them into bed.
Later, Delano lit a cigarette and looked out the window at the night glow from the bars on the clouds.
Simon rolled over after a while. "Leroy?"
"It's Delano," Delano said. "What is it?" He watched a drop of sweat travel down his arm.
"Who are you? Really?" Simon sat up and fished out one of Delano's cigarettes. "I mean, are you Delano, or are you the King of Hearts?"
Delano shrugged and fished out his lighter for Simon. "Both? What do you mean?"
Simon whapped Delano's arm and then snagged the lighter. "You always answer everything with a question. I meant, did you mean all that? About being the Suicide King and - and about the water being blood?"
"Yes and no?" Delano gestured with his cigarette. "We're all drowning here. I'm playing a - a role to try to change things."
"So it's not real," Simon said finally.
"It's not real," Delano said.
Later that week, Delano had a bad day. He didn't remember it, really. Just a vauge impression of waking up to the dizzying feeling that everything was sinking and babbling about blood and Simon shaking his shoulders. And then later Montague showing up and coaxing him out of the closet and holding him while he rocked back and forth.
Simon kept telling him to get over it. To straighten out and be a man. That things weren't that bad. That everything he was seeing was fake so he shouldn't let it hurt him. And then he started yelling that Delano should just shut up and stop talking.
Montague slapped Simon and told him to shut up and leave the room until he could stop being an ass. Later - later, Delano heard Montague telling Simon quietly that if he ever hurt Delano, he'd shoot Simon in an instant.
Simon didn't want to talk about what else Montague told him. He did tell Delano that he didn't want to ever hear again what Delano was seeing.
You never answer questions. You just ask more of them.
They had been lovers for almost a year. Simon had almost gotten Delano to be semi awake during the daytime because he didn't like the fact that Delano was usually only awake at night. When Delano said that the night was quieter, Simon had looked at him oddly.
Simon didn't like the fact that Delano just went walking some nights. When Delano said it was because he couldn't sleep, Simon would raise an eyebrow and offer to tire him out.
Delano didn't complain about the attempts at all, even if the tiredness he was wanting was in his head and not his body.
Simon hated his bad days. Delano didn't remember them very well, to be honest. All he remembered was Simon telling him that he shouldn't do that again. Something in the weather or the stress from working as the King of Hearts or - something was making them more common. Delano pretended to not notice how people were treating him a little more gingerly. Pretended to not notice that Montague was stopping by to make sure that he had eaten.
Pretended to not notice Simon's irritation from Montague's visits.
Simon would ask Delano what he saw during sex. He'd grab Delano's hips and demand that Delano tell him. He wanted to hear that Delano saw Simon. Saw something amazing.
He tended to lie. He saw blood. He saw the buildings rotting into the canals. He saw Simon shooting someone. He saw himself as the King of Hearts and falling. He saw bodies in the canals.
He saw the green spaces actually being gardens again. He saw the sun turning the water red. He saw storms building on the horizon. He saw Yvette's heart finally failing.
He saw blood.
It didn't really dawn on him that things were getting bad until he noticed that he had bruises on his hips from Simon's grasp.