Title: Paradigm Shift
Author Harper Kingsley
Genre: mm sci-fi
A/N: I made a Goodreads group and I've been uploading the completed chapters. Kimichee on GR.
Gregor pushed his chair back from the table and rose to his feet at Tersoe's approach. He tried on a smile. "Hello Rulf. You look well," he said with a cock of his head.
For a second Tersoe looked a bit thrown, then his face closed over and he gave Gregor a cold nod. "Yes, I've been very well. Do you think we could take a walk? It would be nice if we were able to reacquaint ourselves." He glanced at Park.
Part of Gregor wanted to tell him "No, we're going to stay here and have it out in front of the whole Duadenora Family," but he wasn't looking to completely destroy his reputation publicly. It was something he would save for his private embarrassment.
"Of course," he said. "There's a lovely garden I could show you."
Tersoe offered an arm, but Gregor shook his head and clasped his hands together in front of his stomach instead. For the next two and a half weeks he belonged to the Duadenora and they would not appreciate his accepting the attentions of an outsider. He wasn't looking to get into any big confrontations, especially when he already had the trouble of Tersoe's presence to deal with.
He could feel eyes all over the room brushing over his skin, but he didn't let his discomfort over the added attention show on his face. He walked toward the doors with a straight back and a serene expression and he was a bit proud of how well he was holding things together. On the inside he felt like a silent scream.
Park's presence was a line of warmth down the back of his spine.
The garden truly was lovely at night, with the soft velvet black of a star-studded sky above and a pathway lit by soft white glow lights. Some of the trees and bushes were even decorated with strands of tear-shaped lights that changed from blue to gold as they walked. The moon looked close enough to touch.
Trust that he would have the most awkward talk with an ex-lover while in a setting that screamed romance. He wondered if it made Tersoe feel sad.
"I wasn't expecting you tonight," Gregor said, looking toward a silvery, almost feathered looking tree. He wondered where someone would find something like that in nature. He thought there might be little dark berries budding on it, but he couldn't be sure. Botany had never been one of his strengths.
"I think that I was even more surprised than you," Tersoe said. "You disappeared without a single warning, yet here you are. And your name isn't Rusty."
Gregor shrugged. "It's hard for me to even explain. I didn't know who you were when you came looking for me the first time." He turned toward Tersoe, knowing the moonlight was giving his skin an almost glow and his lips looked dewy and soft. He'd always believed in playing to his strengths. "I just thought we were two people having fun. Then all of a sudden you started getting serious."
"So you bolted," there was a hint of bitterness in Tersoe's voice. He was looking at Gregor at the same time, his eyes tracking up and down him, but always returning to gaze at his face.
"I bolted," Gregor said. "I found out who you really were and it was too much for me."
There was a softening around Tersoe's eyes and his mouth wasn't quite as much of a hard line. He wanted so badly to believe that this could have worked out between them if he had just done things a little differently. Gregor could almost pity him, if he wasn't still scared the man might send him to prison. He'd watched street Judges do worse things to those that pissed then off.
"I should have been honest with you from the start," Tersoe said softly. He reached out as though to brush the backs of his fingers over Gregor's cheek, but stopped a hairsbreath away and dropped his hand back to his side. "I was.. I liked being Rulf to you, with none of the weight pulling me down."
Gregor licked his lips. "I'm sorry I left without telling you why. I'm sorry I hurt you like that."
"We hurt each other," Tersoe said. "We were both stupid and we ended up hurting each other."
They had walked clear around the garden to end up where they had started. Gregor thought it might have been a metaphor for something and he could almost see Tersoe gearing himself up to ask if they could start again. He had to fight not to cringe away from the idea.
Rulf Tersoe was a surprisingly kind man. He was passionate in bed and believed in making a hot breakfast to deliver to his lover in the morning. He sang in the shower and read the financial news first. He was the kind of man that loved with a quiet intensity and dreamed of a house and a settled life.
Gregor had always seen himself as being trapped lightning. The only thing keeping him from flying off everywhere was his skin. He didn't want to be tamed. He didn't want to be trapped in a plastic life where he had to play at being tamed quiet. He wanted adventure and passion and helpless laughter after some crazy situation blew up.
Gregor looked away from Tersoe's hopeful eyes and walked to the side of the cobbled stone path. He touched the prickly leaves of a bright green plant with large red blossoms. "We had a lot of fun together," he said slowly. "We both got to pretend to be different people than we really are."