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 You and Me {Falin & Sterling}

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Menel

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Location : Nespa, France

PostSubject: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:06 pm

[[TW: NPC Death, talk of suicide.]]

Falin slumped back, VR helmet rising and falling with numb fingers. He heard it bounce to the ground in a distant sort of way and knew he should be more careful with it but... The image of Laven falling to his knees was still playing out in front of his eyes. That's what his last vision of the game had been before his avatar was dissipated like so much smoke.

Silver hair and a wicked smile vanishing and reappearing across the cave. Laven, falling to his knees with blood on his lips clutching his chest.

He closed his eyes but the image was still there waiting for him. It made his breath stutter in his lips as he began taking off the suit he took everywhere with him and started shoving it back into its case with none of his usual care. His breath caught in his throat and he stopped to press his hand against his own chest. Above a scar that made him place for a second the image of Laven with someone else in his memory.


"It is not the same." He took a long ragged breath and pulled his phone out of his pocket. He immediately started to text Laven... Sterling to make sure he was alright and stopped himself.

If he had still been Menel he would have asked if it had all been on purpose. No, Menel wouldn't have even suspected it. Would have brushed it off and gone laughing to his date. His date. Falin sat down on the bed in his hotel room. How many times had he wished for that? To meet Sterling and talk to him in person. And every time he was stopped from asking by his own impassible fears.


That was a mean trick. The words were typed out under his fingers and he pressed send before he could think about it too much, his lips curling into a small smile even as his fingers lifted to touch that scar beneath his shirt again. It ached like something was broken inside him.

With hope. With fear.

_________________
-Elm

Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for.

You can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for.



You know it's true.


Last edited by Menel on Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Laven

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:30 pm

Sterling was still sitting with his VR helmet on when the sound of his phone getting a text message chimed through his study. He’d been adjusting some of the settings in the game HUD, waiting for the echos of pain to stop pinging through his muscles. If it was one thing he didn’t like about Savior, it was that the pain-receptor sliders were either too strong or too weak. He couldn’t have it too low or he would put his avatar at risk needlessly, and too high and any wound caused him to have… episodes. He’d only had a handful before he realized he couldn’t enjoy the game with the pain settings that high. Thankfully he’d lowered them before having any issues in front of Menel.

On the subject of the unlucky swordsman…

Removing and setting the helmet in it’s docking station Sterling stood and walked to his phone, unlocking it and smiling at the message waiting for him.


That was a mean trick.

He laughed, sliding his index finger over the keyboard and leaving a cheeky emoji at the end of his message.

Maybe so, but one of us was going to lose and my wager was far more interesting. If it makes you feel better I'll still buy you lunch. ;)

With the message sent the history professor stretched and slipped his phone into his pocket before walking out of the study. He had animals to feed, and papers to grade. Falin's in particular was making for a long night. The swordsman knew his history... provided there were martial weapons involved. Sometimes Sterling wondered if he sent in obtuse work just to give the professor a challenge.

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Menel

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:52 pm

In spite of the building pain in his chest Falin couldn't help but laugh at Sterling's response. Perhaps another lunch in the game was a poor thing to ask for, but it's all he could think of in the moment. He hadn't wanted to be too demanding, and he liked trying new foods in a place where he wouldn't put on any weight for it. It always amazed him how they could make it so everything tasted just right - or wrong if you didn't know what you were doing. Falin took several more deep breaths and finally rose to his feet again.

Are you going to come all the way out to London to meet me? Last time Falin had checked Sterling was still out in Ireland which wasn't exactly right next door. He shoved the phone into his pocket and started pulling the suit and helmet away more carefully. There was no way that he'd be playing again tonight, and what he'd done so far wasn't going to fit neatly into the box.

Idly from time to time he touched his chest, rubbing at the pain that just wouldn't subside. He was glad that this time it wasn't so bad. There were nights... Nights when he couldn't breathe at all. Where he thought that it might kill him.

He put it all away and stacked everything neatly beside his suitcase and his weapons case. There was another match tomorrow, but after that he had free time in London. He'd scheduled it that way because he'd wanted some time away from France for a bit. Time away from the little house that reminded him too much of the past. It seemed he spent less and less time there and more time on the road. Falin sighed and settled back to wait for Sterling's response.

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-Elm

Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for.

You can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for.



You know it's true.
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Laven

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:11 pm

The second message came as Sterling was spreading grain for the young hens he had recently added to the little farm he had grown up on. There were only three right now, but he’d been keeping in touch with a former colleague who had her own chickens and was willing to part with a rooster when her next brood reached maturity. He was cautiously excited about the prospect.

Are you going to come all the way out to London to meet me?

Sterling checked the fencing that kept the hens safe from foxes and the other predators that lived in the hills around his home. Only then did he pause, leaning against one of the freshly stained wooden posts and answering Falin.

It’s only a short flight, I don’t see why not. You’re the one with a busy job after all.

After a moment of reflection after sending his reply Sterling frowned and sent a second text, less confident this time.

I haven’t pushed this on you, have I? It’s been six months after all, and you’re finally close enough we could make time to have a proper date without reworking your schedule.

Turning off his phone screen Sterling shook his head and went back inside, leaving the empty grain bucket hanging out of reach of mice and trying not to over think his second message. Falin would tell him if he wasn't ready to meet. Sterling was certain of that. At least he thought he was certain of it.

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Menel

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:29 pm

A little light buzz startled Falin for all that he had been expecting it. Waiting, and the pain that was only just beginning to subside made him anxious. He pulled out his phone and checked the message. Of course Sterling would come out to see him. He felt a moment of relief though he wasn't sure where it came from. A few seconds later another text came through and he found himself staring at it for a long time.

I haven’t pushed this on you, have I? It’s been six months after all, and you’re finally close enough we could make time to have a proper date without reworking your schedule.

He waited too long to answer and hoped that Sterling didn't take it as indecision on his part. He was simply so surprised over Sterling's concern that he didn't know how to respond. Only he knew though how long he'd wanted to meet Sterling. Six months of actually dating and much longer than that of being friends. Chatting and him being Sterling's student. That thought made him smile. He'd learned so much of history from Sterling though he knew he wasn't a very good student. Falin's attention seemed lacking at the most important times.

No. I'm glad. I've been wanting to meet you. He hesitated over the words, changing them more than once before sending them out. Then, a few seconds later he was typing again only to delete it all and stare at his phone for answers.

I'm staying at the Mariot.

You could get a room here or one close by.


He wanted to offer his suite to the other man, but fear stopped him again. So he left it at that and worried the whole time until Sterling responded that he'd texted something that would leave the other man rethinking his choice to come.

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-Elm

Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for.

You can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for.



You know it's true.
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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:21 pm

It took Falin so long to reply that Sterling had to stop waiting and instead actually do his job. He may only have one class to teach a week, but that didn’t mean he had nothing to do. There were lessons to plan, key notes to put together for the small group of online students that had signed up for his ancient history lessons, and of course, papers to grade.

He was back in his study when the group of messages did come in, sitting in his overstuffed chair in front of a cheerful fire with his tablet in hand. Falin’s paper would have to come last, or else Sterling would agonize over it and have to rush through the others. When the soft sound jingled from his pocket he paused, pushing the glasses he needed to read when he was reading for long periods of time up to the top of his head.

He smiled when he saw that his worry had been ill-founded. Of course it had. Falin had never been anything other than open with him in regards to their friendship and then their relationship. It had been Sterling’s own nerves that had made him worry.

The last text though…


You could get a room here or one close by.

That one gave Sterling some pause. Was Falin asking him to stay close by while he was in London? Or giving Sterling a chance to escape from him if the situation grew awkward? Now Sterling was the one who needed to formulate his thoughts before replying.

That sounds like a lovely idea. We can discuss more when we meet for lunch.

The fire popped and Sterling glanced up at it, smiling and shaking his head before shifting so that he was more comfortable in his chair. He would have to buy his ticket soon, and he would probably pay the price for the short notice. But it was worth it. He hadn’t been on a date in so long. Hopefully he still remembered how to act.

I’ll let you know when I'm landed. You should rest before your match. If we hadn't ended the game so early I would have given you a kiss for luck.

He chuckled and put his phone away to pick the tablet back up, marking the screen with his finger when he found an erroneous line about the roman army and the way they functioned as a unit.

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Menel

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:44 pm

It seemed like an eternity before Sterling responded, but when he did it brought a smile to his lips. They could actually talk to one another, in person. He wondered if it'd be different than their hundreds of conversations with one another on Skype or on the telephone. If they'd have things to talk about. His match... they'd have that. Half of him wished that Sterling could come to that, but it was too late to invite him to an event that was closed to the public. Next time maybe.

Next time.

Sterling's next text had him flushing just a little, but he immediately sent another text in response.


I have to get some sleep, so I'll take a goodnight kiss instead. 😚

He rolled off the bed and headed into the bathroom to brush his teeth. When he was done he stared at his reflection in the mirror. The image of a man that he sometimes didn't recognize as himself. He didn't look at himself very often. Shoulder length black hair so dark it had blue highlights in the stark lighting of the hotel bathroom. Eyes almost as dark but still very blue. Pale skin that hardly ever saw the sun. This was the man that Sterling would be meeting. Not the one that he usually saw in the game. The real him... All the times they'd shared video chats didn't count. He rubbed one wrist and licked his lips.

The light flickered off and he made his way back to the room. He stopped halfway there in the realization that he could kiss Sterling for real. Hold his hand. All the things he hadn't shared with anyone in so long. If only he was brave enough to try.

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-Elm

Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for.

You can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for.



You know it's true.
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Laven

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:55 pm

When Sterling’s flight from Dublin landed the following morning he couldn’t have been happier. It only took being trapped in a metal tube with over one hundred strangers for just shy of two hours to remind him that driving may have taken quite a bit longer, but was preferable in the long run. But it didn’t truly matter now. The flight was over, and he was in London. With an overnight bag slung over his shoulder Sterling made his way to the taxi depot, phone in hand and just waiting to send a quick message to Falin.

I’ve arrived. Don’t tell me how your match went, I want to hear about it over lunch.

He’d dressed a little nicer than usual for the occasion, New slacks that still had their original creases in the legs. Dark grey and soft to the touch. The weather was beginning to warm as summer bloomed so he had dressed in a light cotton shirt, the sleeves folded at the elbow and the color a silvery purple that made his complexion brighter and his honey brown eyes stand out. Normally he would have left his hair down as well, to let what little sun came through catch the pale gold strands and make him look even more like a fashionable fairy prince. But he’d piled it all up on the top of his head in a bun instead, deciding that travel required some sacrifices over his vanity.

Hopefully he would still be as stunning as he hoped he looked to Falin.

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Menel

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:24 pm

Lunch was to be had at some fancy restaurant that Falin had never even heard of until he googled it to find out what would be appropriate to wear. He was both surprised and not to realize exactly how nice it was. Surprised because it was always amazing to him to be reminded of how extravagant places in the city could get, and not because it seemed likely to him that this was Sterling's way of apologizing for 'tricking' him into lunch. He scrolled down the list of limited options and felt his eyebrows raise up. A very nice restaurant then.

Which left him wondering what to wear. He didn't bring a lot of very nice clothes since he hadn't thought to pack them. Most of his everyday clothing was suited for the purpose however, so he only had to pick between them. In the end he found himself sorting through everything and trying it all on several times before he found anything he was willing to walk out the door in. It was a dark blue turtleneck that made his eyes stand out and was long enough that it slid down his hands at odd times, and a pair of dark slacks that were almost black. He matched those with the only pair of shoes he had brought with him

Then it was out the door, brimming with the expectation of telling Sterling about his match and nervous about actually meeting the other man. It wasn't Sterling he was uncertain of. No it was himself. Worrying that he would do everything wrong and when this was all over he would have lost his one and only friend after it seemed like they'd only just become more than that to one another.

He arrived at the restaurant early, texting Sterling that he was arriving and then realizing as he came up that he didn't know what name Sterling had put the reservation under. Falin hesitated at the front and tried to get a quick glance around to see if he could see Sterling somewhere.
"I'm here with Sterling McGill?"

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Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for.

You can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for.



You know it's true.
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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:39 pm

"This way, you two are lucky the weather held. Your reservation for the rooftop seating will be lovely today." The server was very nice, dressed all in black with a white apron around their waist. They led Falin up a set of stairs onto the roof of the old bike shed, opening a door to a charming rooftop garden and a few tables spaced far apart to allow the diners some privacy and room.

There Sterling was sitting and waiting, elbow on the table and chin in hand as he waited for Falin to arrive. When he saw the dark haired man he perked up, long eyes opening wide and a smile pulling the corners of his mouth. While the wait staff led Falin to his table Sterling stood up, smoothing down his shirt in a single display of nerves before he held out his hands for Falin to take.


"Falin." Sterling said the name softly, his eyes just for the other man as the wait staff left the table with it's two menus for the men to look over.

"It's nice to meet you." The professor laughed quietly at his own joke.

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:02 pm

"Falin."

Sterling stood up and Falin felt suddenly tongue-tied. It was one thing to see the other man on a screen and quite another to see him in person. The living, breathing version was... There weren't words to describe the way the sunlight glinted off of Sterling's hair. Sterling's forearms were bare as they shook hands and it made Falin conscious of his own... but there was no time for that now as Sterling welcomed him with words that made him laugh.

"Nice to meet you yes." Falin's handshake was warm and firm. Professional though it lingered around the edges just a little bit. He felt the urge suddenly to hug Sterling, to squelch the months of longing that had built up but he didn't. Instead he motioned toward the table. "Please sit down."

He took the chance to do so himself, sitting down and fingering the menu. He didn't look at it though, instead watching Sterling as he did so. It made him uncomfortable to have so many people behind him, but he ignored the sensation of being watched. The worry that one of them would attack him and focused on the other man. The softness of his shirt and his brown eyes. He found himself smiling softly.

"So, do you want to hear about the match?"

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Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for.

You can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for.



You know it's true.
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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:52 am

If he was disappointed that all he got from Falin was a handshake Sterling didn't show it. Instead using both hands to clasp the one Falin had offered and squeezing warmly. When Falin waved for him to sit Sterling did so, leaning his elbow on the table and propping his chin up with his hand once again. He was taking in the sight of the other man as much as he was being taken in himself. Raven black hair, midnight blue eyes… Falin was striking. Sterling had noticed that the first time they had videoed each other but the flat view of the computer screen was nothing compared to the real life man. Sterling had to stop himself from reaching over to steal the hand that was fidgeting with the menu. He could see in every line of Falin’s body that the other man was uncomfortable, and while Sterling himself was nervous he was unsure exactly what had Falin so badly on edge. But in case it was public displays of affection Sterling felt it best to proceed with caution.

"So, do you want to hear about the match?"

Sterling blinked and nodded automatically, shifting in his seat so that he was facing Falin fully. "Of course I do. I assume you did marvelously but it's much better to hear it from the source than simply indulge my imagination." He noticed movement out of the corner of his eye and turned his head to smile graciously at the wait staff that had come to their table as they spoke.

“A wine to start your meal, gentlemen?” Sterling glanced at Falin to see if the other man objected before tipping his head in agreement.

“The prosecco, please.” When the server nodded and moved away Sterling turned his attention back to Falin, gesturing for the other man to begin speaking.

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:11 am

Falin watched the waiter with more caution than was deserved, and nodded at the offer of wine. He didn't usually drink but at places like this it was almost rude to turn down what was meant to go with their food. Dark eyes watched the waiter as he disappeared back among the other people, and Falin almost missed Sterling's polite motion for him to continue. Still, the thought of his match made a smile rise to his lips and a slight glow come to his gaze that even his discomfort with the way their table was situated could not dull.

"I wish you could have seen it." If he'd known about this date he would have arranged it, the matches were interesting to see at least the first time. Particularly live and in person. "It wasn't a ranked match, but a display I think I mentioned that?"

He tilted his head but didn't really stop talking. When he spoke there was a light accent to his words. Something indefinable that made his words rounded and beautiful. It wasn't exactly French though he was from France, but rather a mingling of accents that was so light that it was hard to say that his was any one thing. Now with them together it was a little easier to hear at the edges of his words. It wasn't really his accent though that was clearest. It was how much he loved what he did.

Falin spoke of points and the rapartee. The way that they had battled one another, describing the whole thing so that though Sterling hadn't been there it was nearly drawn out for him. There was some technical speak in there, but for the most part he made the scene for Sterling.

The swordsman laughed lightly at the end of it, suddenly seeming totally at ease; reaching across the table and touching Sterling's hand gently with careful casualness.
"I am probably boring you with the details but it is rare that I have a match so interesting even if I did not allow a single point to my opponent. I hope you do not mind?"

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Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for.

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:57 am

Sterling was content to listen to Falin describe the event to him. With his head tipped to the side and his chin resting on his palm he looked like the ever curious student that he had been as a young man. Now he was still learning, though instead of facts and figures it was the way Falin spoke, the way he moved his body and the tone of his voice resonated in the open air around them. The technical side of swordplay did not hold much interest to Sterling, but the way Falin was so enthusiastic about the subject made the professor smile. He could see the way Falin spoke mirrored in his writing. See why he excelled at ancient warfare when the subjects came up. This man knew how to see every angle in a fight. Provided it was a martial one.

When Falin paused and reached over to touch the hand that was resting on the table Sterling turned it palm up so that they could easily grasp each other’s fingers. His thumb brushing over the top of Falin’s hand.
“You aren’t boring me at all, Falin. Perhaps I don’t need to hear the technical details but you paint a glorious picture.” Sterling looked over to the table where the wine had already been set out for them while Falin spoke. He hadn’t even noticed the server’s return, he was so focused on the man in front of him.

“I wish I had been there. You sound like it was exhilarating for you.” Lifting his head and straightening in his seat Sterling picked up his wine glass with his unoccupied hand, lifting it in a teasing toast to Falin before taking a sip of the light and honey-sweet wine. “Besides, I have nothing so interesting to talk about involving my day. Chickens and term papers do not make for engaging storytelling.” He laughed at himself.

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Fri Jun 15, 2018 1:55 pm

Falin felt a little hoped for but unexpected swell of warmth at the touch of his fingers against Sterling's. It was a feeling that lingered, their hands gently holding one another somewhere in the center of the table. As comfortable and as natural as breathing.

He had couldn't help but look a little embarrassed; knowing that he could so easily fall into talking about fencing if he wasn't careful. This time he hadn't been, and he knew that particularly the more technical aspects weren't exactly spellbinding. He was grateful that Sterling was kind enough to listen though, and genuinely seemed interested in it. Perhaps that was something he could share with the other man soon...

Already he was planning for them to spend more time together and they hadn't even made it through lunch yet.

The swordsman left the wine to sit, but watched Sterling try it with a little smile on his face. Everything that Sterling did was purposeful and graceful. He was like some fae creature had decided to spend a day as a man. Come to sit and have lunch with him here in this open-air restaurant, and who at any moment might vanish into thin air as if he had never been.


"I like hearing about your chickens."
Falin smiled softly with something close to longing. They'd talked about the animals enough that they almost felt like distant family to Falin. In a way it was a shame that he couldn't meet them. "And I honestly wish you'd tell me more about your students."

There was slight mischief hanging on the corners of his lips and eyes when he continued. "Particularly that one who turned in the paper about Roman weapons circa 100 AD." He arched one dark eyebrow. He was talking about his own paper of course.

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Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for.

You can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for.



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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:18 pm

The cheek of him! Falin’s suggestion of a new topic surprised a heartfelt laugh out of Sterling. It was a sound he didn’t hear from himself much, and the rich sound rolled through his chest and left him with his lips curled up in a warm smile that he covered with another sip of wine. The few seconds allowed for him to decide on a response, so when he set the glass down with a gentle click his face had grown thoughtful.

“Oh that one? My my, he is presumptuous. You should see the questions he sends me about the damnedest subjects!” Sterling stroked the back of Falin’s hand as he teased him, the creases in the corners of his eyes giving away his jest. “It was lucky I managed to grade his paper before I asked him out on an afternoon date. Or else I may be sorely tempted to bump his grade up based solely on his charm and good looks.”

Leaning forwards, Sterling again let his chin fall into his hand as he looked past Falin and seemed to think. “But that doesn’t tell you much about him, does it? He’s sweet. A serious fellow, but I find it to be a welcome change of pace in a student and even more welcome in a partner.” Sterling would have continued if not for the sudden return of their waiter, looking down at the two men expectantly.

“Have you decided on luncheon?”

Surprised, Sterling closed his mouth instead of continuing and looked at Falin. “I hadn’t even seen the choices for today. You?”

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:52 pm

The teasing was well-deserved Falin knew. He really did send all sorts of odd questions to Sterling. Asking after different weapons that he didn't know very much about. There had been an entire night-long conversation over Itzpapalotl during the Aztecan course. He always remembered it with a fond smile. There was so much that he'd learned from the other man, and he suspected that he'd forced Sterling to do research on subjects that he didn't normally have to know so much about.

He felt himself flushing under the warm weight of Sterling's complements; grateful that though his complexion was pale that he hardly ever showed much color on his cheeks. Falin couldn't remember the last time someone had said such things about anything other than his fighting...

Falin jumped suddenly as the waiter appeared, fingers curling into Sterling's hand. Without thinking he pulled sharply on Sterling's fingers, rising up to his feet and trying to interpose himself between the two men. The whole table stuttered as he did, and only the polite space the waiter had left meant that everything stayed up. That and how quickly Falin moved. He was lightning, simply there as if by magic.

Sterling's words hung in the air around the clinking of glasses and Falin's rapid heartbeat, and uncomfortably the swordsman laughed.
"Sorry, no. Not quite ready... Where is the restroom?"

Ever polite even in the face of what likely seemed to the waiter as them nearly colliding because Falin was rising to get to the restroom the man pointed in the appropriate direction and turned away. Sterling though...

Abruptly he realized that he was still grasping the other man's hand like a lifeline; all at the wrong angles and far too firmly. Quickly he released his grasp and sat down.
"Sorry..." He didn't know what else to say, tucking his shoulder-length hair behind one ear. So flustered was he that he completely forgot about his long sleeves and their purpose. The one that lifted to tuck his hair back sliding down and revealing a long slender scar from the wrist down while he fixed his hair nervously. "I did not mean to..."

He motioned with that anxious hand toward Sterling's and had the grace to look embarrassed all over again.

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:03 pm

As sudden and startling as the wait staff appearing had been, Falin’s reaction was even more so. Sterling was hauled to his feet without even a sound from the swordsman, his hips bumping against the table as he was being tugged behind the slightly taller man. “Fa-” he couldn’t even get the man’s name out of his mouth before Falin backtracked, going from asking for the restroom to sitting down and looking incredibly guilty while letting go of Sterling’s hand.

"Sorry..."

The word and it's brethren were almost lost to Sterling the moment he saw the thin silver scar that was running up his boyfriend's arm. A thousand questions and realizations blazed through Sterling's mind but the only one he focused on was Falin's obvious anxiety bordering on panic.

So he remained standing, leaning down to take Falin's hand and tug him back to his feet.
"Not at all, I could use a trip to the washroom myself. Come with me?" He offered Falin this easy chance to escape, the waiter's hasty response that it was a single stall only meaning the two men would have a moment of privacy. Sterling graced the confused employee with a charming smile that felt like a porcelain mask and looked back to Falin, the sincerity in his eyes pleading with Falin to take his hand and follow him.

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:18 pm

He would never have expected it. Never have thought to conceive of Sterling offering him a hand. Looking down at him with hopeful expectation and offering him a reprieve from the staring eyes and blank expression offered by the waitstaff. He let himself be pulled to his feet, not caring what anyone thought for this moment.

All that mattered was that Sterling wasn't upset that Falin had dragged him to his feet. Or that he had nearly spilled their drinks on the floor. That he had startled the waiter, or that he had probably startled Sterling as well. The look in Sterling's eyes spoke volumes to him.


Please trust me. Please come with me.

Falin went with him, walking to the bathroom with the motions of a warrior. Certain when he was hesitant, graceful when he felt awkward. He didn't breathe until they were in the washroom. Until they were safely locked inside and he could stalk across the comfortably small space to the other side and see the door. It was just big enough that he knew he could react if someone tried to force their way inside. Big enough that they could both stand here and not feel pressed against one another.

He couldn't meet Sterling's eyes yet, his gaze settling on the other man's shoulder. The sound of his own heart was still pounding in his ears.


"I am so sorry." It was such a soft offering, but he didn't know what to say now that they were alone. Didn't know how to explain without making things worse.

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:00 pm

“You don’t need to apologize to me.” Sterling glanced at the locked door over his shoulder before stepping closer to Falin and taking his hand once more. “I’m not going to ask you to explain, either. You can tell me in your own time or not at all.” With care that his firm words didn’t quite convey Sterling lifted Falin’s hand and pressed the swordsman’s knuckles to his lips. Not even a kiss, just a press of lips like a hug in their care. A comfort, for the clearly upset Falin

“What is important right now is you.” Sterling reached with delicacy to touch the side of Falin’s face, to brush some of his hair behind his ear. It would have been an intimate moment if not for the fact they were locked in a bathroom stall. “Can you get yourself under control right now?”

In reality Sterling was abuzz with unspoken questions that he knew would be foolish and cruel to ask. The scars, the sudden fight response when startled… Something had happened to Falin. Something that had left him with more than the tell-tale signs of self-harm. But it was not for Sterling to pry. No, right now he was just hoping to get the other man to collect himself so that they could get Falin somewhere he felt safer.

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:20 pm

Whatever Sterling said, Falin wanted to explain. Felt it bubbling up inside as if it would rush out of his mouth without any rhyme or reason. It would be a mess he knew, so he clasped his teeth shut and tried not to say anything.

There was that first motion of movement which terrified him beyond reason. His body held tight as a coiled spring as Sterling moved toward him and then it faded. Faded with Sterling's fingers so soft on his. So unexpectedly gentle. He thought he would flinch away from Sterling's reach but he didn't. Falin let the other man touch his face and closed his eyes to it. Let himself imagine that he wasn't here. Neither of them were.

The scent of Sterling's skin held him in place. Comforted him more than the words that Sterling spoke. Words he almost lost to the rush of his own beating heart and the inexplicable needs that he couldn't place into words. Could he control himself? No. All of this was totally beyond his control or it wouldn't have happened in the first place. It was so startling to realize that this was the first meal he'd had out in two years. He hadn't thought of it in so many words. All of his meals were in hotels or at home. He'd sequestered himself from life without even realizing how much he'd done so.

"I am better." He was, so he opened his eyes. Without even realizing it he'd tilted his head into Sterling's touch. Falin lifted a hand and touched Sterling's fingers on his face. How was this so comfortable? He blinked back the sadness that rose up in his heart with an empty ache but could not offer the smile he wanted to give.

"I want to explain Sterling. I want you to know. You deserve to understand but... Not here. I want to share the meal we promised one another. Let us do that and then... If you're still willing I will show you my hotel room and tell you everything."

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:43 pm

Sterling nodded and risked crossing a boundary to press a real kiss to Falin's knuckles before letting him go and stepping back so that Falin had room. "Together then?" There was absolutely nothing to be done in the tiny room they were in right now. Though Sterling was unsure that going back to try and eat lunch as if nothing had happened was a wise idea either. Still, he had to respect Falin’s wishes.

After all, he had his own issues he had kept hidden. They were not likely to cause him to have an episode in a crowded restaurant, but they were certainly not something he had any interest in sharing with anyone but his most trusted companions. Which meant he would tell Falin. He owed the other man that truth while their relationship was still young.

But not today. Instead he went to unlock the door, pausing and looking back at the swordsman.
“If this is too much, we’ll leave. I don’t care about lunch if you’re uncomfortable.”

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:12 pm

In spite of the concern Sterling had the meal itself was pleasant and full of lighter conversation that was admittedly a bit strained at times if only out of awkwardness from their meeting. Still it was fun to finally be able to talk to one another in person. They left together, and headed back to Falin's hotel.

The Mariot was an extraordinary hotel wherever it was, but here in London it was particularly nice. His suite was near the top, and by the time they reached the room it was quite a bit later in the afternoon. Falin led the way in, and moved through the space with a comfort that suggested that this had been his room for years rather than the few days it had surely been. Though of course he made sure that the room was locked securely before he did anything else.


"Make yourself comfortable. Would you like something to drink?" Falin headed to the little kitchen and started pouring some water. It was for himself, but there was more than enough chilled for Sterling too if he wanted it. He brought the water around and leaned against the counter, watching the living space for a moment before looking at Sterling.

"In truth I hardly know where to begin."

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:34 pm

Sitting on one of the couches in Falin’s suite Sterling looked around the room, not so much out of curiosity but to give Falin some sort of privacy in his temporary home. At the offer of water Sterling stood and joined him, taking the offered glass and watching Falin pour a second one before he began speaking.

“I find that the beginning is usually the recommended place to start. But I also get the feeling that the beginning may be too hard for you right now.” Sterling stood beside Falin, close enough that they could have touched if they reached for each other, but with enough space that he wasn’t crowding the other man.  

After taking a small sip of water Sterling placed the glass on the counter, tipping his head and looking at Falin who was studiously not looking at him.
“If it would help, I promise I’m not here to judge you, Falin.” His name always rolled off his tongue so sweetly, Ireland’s accent embracing him if only just as a word. Even now, watching how small and sad he suddenly looked, Sterling found speaking to him to be a pleasure he didn’t want to ever get his fill of.

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PostSubject: Re: You and Me {Falin & Sterling}   Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:05 pm

Falin sat his own glass down without tasting the water. Begin at the beginning. That was in fact where he should start, but it all began with someone who he hadn't talked to anyone about in years. Every word that Sterling spoke was like a nail on the head of his fears. He feared talking about it, and what it would mean to say the words out loud. That Sterling would indeed judge him for his actions.

So he looked at the other man, for the last time perhaps... No. Not for the last time.


"It begins with Aviline." Saying her name made his eyes burn, after all this time her name broke his heart just a little. "I loved her, and so we were married."

He smiled softly and guiltily. "I was married and we were to have a child but there was a man who could not stand to let her have someone other than him. He sent his friends to kill me in my own home. Kidnapped her and... in truth I do not know what he meant to do with her once I was dead because I survived and found them in the woods behind my house."

Falin stopped there and turned aside, tears burning in his eyes. "Heaven help me." The words were murmured under his breath. "He killed them both and I could not stop him. He would have killed me too but I..."

His fingers found his chest and he wept. No amount of time could pass and make this story something which did not hurt his very soul to speak of. He knew that Sterling would step toward him, and when the other man moved he looked up, the tears making his eyes look impossibly blue. Looked up and let the other man see the scars that had brought him here. Not the ones on his body, but the ones cut deep into his mind and spirit.

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