II: watched

alexander understands that he has not always been personally observant of his own behaviors, and had not always been conscious of the way he has gone through life. parts of his life feel as if they have been dipped into a repetitive, awful fog, while others have been crystal clear.

sitting here, seated at the piano in his house, alexander is aware that someone else is peering through his eyes. another consciousness has quietly unfurled itself in his mind ever since the headache on sunday. he had known the headache was unusual simply for it's presence: he rarely had headaches or pains, and to wake up with one so persistently hammering into his head had been peculiar.

it hadn't stopped him from going about his day, and when it persisted through monday, he had changed his mind: it wasn't a headache but a migraine. no headache lasted this long, no headache was so persistent and so strange. it felt as if... as if it had a life of it's own. as if there was something to it than simple pain.

on tuesday....

tuesday was a blur. every attempt to focus on the memories, the movements he had made were hard to focus on, the details slipping out of his fingers the more he attempted to grasp onto them. the only concrete thing he remembered was waking up, seeing the sunlight through the window, still reaching out on instinct like he has for years for luna. and then... then that night. waking up in sweat coating his body, feeling as if everything was hot, too hot. there was a stumble to the hallway, plummetting the temperature down as far as it could go, shedding all of his clothes, and then slipping back into a void oif sleep again.

wednesday was much the same: waking up. going to sleep. a blur between. and today, now, even with the pain still there, alexander knew that someone was there, in his head. he could feel them watching him as his fingers played at the keys of the piano, watching his own thoughts as he attempted to find a way to address this surreal, strange situation he found himself in. and he knew, too, that feeling too hot was apart of it. stepping outside felt uncomfortable when it shouldn't have, and there was a certain feeling of revulsion at the idea of eating anything hot in temperature in taste. he longs for sweaters despite the californian weather, a perplexing thought when he preferred California over colder places.

he wants to speak outloud. demand that whatever it was to speak up, to tell him if it knew what was going on, or to force a name out of it. even as the thoughts cross his mind though, he knows that there will be no answer forthcoming, and to demand would do absolutely nothing for him. it only made the pain, slowly spreading, grow worse, his vision blurring, eyes watering again.

his fingers curl on the keys. he shuts his eyes. tries to push past the pain, tries to figure it out--

his teeth cut his tongue. blood fills his mouth, and alexander is pushed into a gaping, black void.

the fingers stiffen on the keys. his head turns upward, his posture grows stiffer. the person who stares out of alexander's eyes, they take in the wealthy, well decorated house. catalogues that there is nothing very personal here that is recent, and that the photos that line the walls contain two men, and never one.

their fingers run over the keys.

they stand up stiffly after a moment, and walks to the mantle. they fix alexander's eyes on the photo in the center, two men, both in glasses. the taller one, smiling shyly, his arm wrapped around the shorter man, with tanned, brown skin and a wide smile that shows off slightly overcrowded teeth. they are both in suits, at a courthouse, clearly a marriage.

their fingers reach out, and touch the frame: they marvel at the warmth their fingers are able to feel. "if only you could see me, nora," victor fries' says with alexander's mouth. "warm. alive."

II. lucky strike

the second time alexander considers his hands, he is sixteen years old. his roommate, a boorish peter knox, has never liked him. he has always pushed alexander down hallways, has been crueler than most of the boys who seem to realize that he is different from them.

his mother says that he is poorer than alexander and that he is jealous that alexander will be graduating in spring ahead of the other boys. alexander accepts that he is poorer; but he does not think that it is a matter of character that informs his wealth.

he does not say that to his mother. that conversation is useless.

what matters more is that alexander has been doing small things to get back at peter knox in the past year. he has been moving things slightly in the room: putting his school supplies a little further than normal. placing his letters in different parts of the room after watching peter passing out from drinking. replacing his cigarettes with hollowed out ones, absolutely useless to knox. small annoyances that are comparably nothing to the pain that peter knox has dealt him over the years.

he used to tell himself that it was enough to do such things. he's finding more and more, as the date looms, as he's bodychecked during sports, as he spends nights uncomfortable, dreading when peter comes in from drinking or being out with friends, it's not enough.

so maybe, he'd gone a little far this time when he had taken the peter's shoes over a long weekend where peter had gone to his parents for an emergency. peter was a good soccer player. aggressive. the cleats he used were expensive, and something he'd been proud to earn.

alexander had gotten useful with pocketknives. it had been a good weekend, keeping the windows open as he smoked the pack of lucky strike that peter had seemingly lost a week before, wedging the knife in the shoes, purposely separating the soles form the bottom. the work felt good, to use his hands in a way that felt more of his own--and to take part in what he thought was a small act of revenge. he'd gotten the sole mostly parted from the bottom when he was satisfied. the shoes went back into the closet, and waited.

the wait was disappointing. peter came back with a broken leg, and the only thing that alexander took with him were the lucky strikes in the months after. he smoked them on and off, slowly getting used to the taste, and then buying them on his own off of the other boys at college.

he had forgotten all about the cleats until that summer, when his mother had phoned him. he had been half paying attention to her, more focused on searching for a book when she her voice, half suppressing glee, expressed, "--knox, that made for an interesting turn. i remember you told me that he was an athlete, but you never told me that he had rivals."

alexander frowned on the other end. "rivals?"

his mother's voice is practically dripping with glee, "alexander, you really should pay more attention. someone tampered with his cleats. they went to pieces during a game." alexander finds his heartbeat quickening. "i heard the fall was bad enough that teeth were knocked out." she gives a tsk, and alexander wrestles with his emotions for a moment, with the thought of how fall must have hurt. how wounded peter might have felt.

his teeth cut against his tongue. he tastes blood, and hastily says, "i'd like to talk more--"

"would you?"

"--but i have class. i promise i'll call back," he shifts, turns the phone off with shaking hands.

III. bound

"i think you should have been a surgeon," luna intones sleepily beside him.

alexander is wide awake beside him, still not sure how to feel about this day. the rainbow on his cheek is still painted there, his fingers still brushing the stiff paint. lightning hasn't come to strike him down, nothing is on fire. he just went to his first pride parade, and he is in bed with his boyfriend, and the world is still turning.

he sends luna a quizzical look from his space on the bed, feeling a little punch drunk from his position, from the day. it still feels so much to be here, to be out. to have memories of holding luna's hands in public, to kiss his stubbled cheek despite the hammering of his heart, to be with other people who felt the same. he thought maybe the conversation here would be different, feel different.

not this, to have luna yawn at him, smiling with his overcrowded, crooked teeth that alexander could never love enough in it's imperfection. "you have steady hands, you know. i know you've never done a lot of work with them," luna yawns again, reaching over to grasp alexander's hands with his rougher ones, "but they're-- steady. confident."

"i've played piano, you know," alexander intones softly, shrugging his shoulders. "i wouldn't have been a good surgeon, though. i think--"

luna presses his mouth against alexander's, sloppy and sleepy. alexander squeezes his hand in his, and he's never felt so bonded to this man, to anyone else in his entire life in that moment, his fingers clutching so tightly to luna's.

speaking is overrated. kissing luna, holding onto his hand is more important.