Caution: Falling

By Kay

Disclaimer: I think we've already established about three chapters ago that I don't own Everworld or make money off of it.

Author's Notes: Chapter Eight is up! Huzzah! You can thank Amanda for that, she keeps me going. XD Oh, but now we're actually getting somewhere. Ignore the OOC and the stranger lines and you'll live through another weird chapter, okay? Thanks so much if you're still reading at all!


It took eleven minutes and eight more wads of Kleenex from Jalil's back pocket (it always paid to be prepared, or as Ganymede liked to say, "The antisocial, cynical version of an obsessive-compulsive boy scout… except without the cute short-shorts!") to stifle the blood flow out of the blonde stranger's nose.

Ten of those eleven minutes were spent listening to the idiot babble on about his life being cursed, how he had an uncle for a Mafia Don and it only took a word to have anyone's knee caps broken (or at least beaten severely with a blunt object which may or may not be a baseball bat, depending on how expensive the bat was and how stupid your insult was), and how Jalil was lucky this night he was feeling especially generous and wouldn't give his name away to the Italian Assassination Guild or "fum shit like dat" for his crimes against one of "the fuckin' familia."

Every time the idiot tried to speak, more blood started spurting out between his fingers. Jalil had given up on telling him to shut the hell up four minutes ago. Some things could only be learned through experience.

"My dose hurts," the blonde complained, after having finally silenced himself for a few moments. Jalil resisted the urge to roll his eyes. And then resisted having to resist the urge and did it, anyway.

"You're not Italian," he muttered, scowling at he stood in the flickering lights of one of the most disgusting alleyways he'd had the disgust to stand in. "And if you didn't spend half the time making stupid, asinine threats like those- which I will, of course, simply ignore- it wouldn't hurt so much."

He paused, and then added, "Jackass."

The blonde glared up at him with slightly fuzzy eyes- either Jalil had hit him a little too hard or he'd been drinking a little too long. Or possibly both. Either way, the only reason Jalil hadn't already hightailed it out of here and went to find his ride home was because… well, it was stupid, but…

"You look pathetic," Jalil groaned, more to himself than to the stranger. It was true. Still sitting on his ass in the middle of the greasy alleyway, bunches of red-spotted tissues pressed to his swollen nose, clothing drenched with the sharp and nauseating scent of alcohol from his earlier episode with the scary cliental of The Vicarious Wade, and that stupidly miserable expression on his face (reminiscent, Jalil thought with deeper frustration, of an oddly cute dog that'd been smacked several times and then dropped down a well) failed to inspire anymore anger in him. All he really felt was… well, sorry for the jerk.

'Looks like I'm not the only one having the worst night of his life…'

The blonde scowled. "I hobe you 'ave a random car run you ober. I hate you."

'I'm going to hit him again.'

"If you don't want my help," Jalil snapped, crossing his arms in a huff, "then I can just leave you here. You don't know where your ride is, right? Good luck trying to go anywhere without someone to make sure you don't injure yourself even more." God, he could use a drink right about now. As soon as this was over, he was grabbing Ganymede and- whether his roommate liked it or not- hightailing it out of here and back to where people were fairly civilized.

The blonde had a very unpleasant look on his face. "You can't jus' leabe me," he protested, struggling to get to his feet.

Jalil sighed, exasperated, and reached out to grab his arm. He yanked him to his feet, ignoring the wince on the stranger's face. "No, I could. But I won't. Keep your mouth shut or I assure you, it will change."

The blonde thought about that… and shut his mouth.

Jalil shoved another few tissues into the blonde's hands before steering him firmly back towards the entrance into The Vicarious Wade. The blast of hot, packed-in air hit them as soon as they stepped back into the dark club and its hyperactivity on the floor. Jalil blinked away the disorientation and quickly led them to the main bar, ignoring the few flirtatious comments directed his way (which were mostly warded off, though he didn't realize it, but the soggy heap of sniffles behind him). The blonde was weirdly quiet, not protesting the hand attached strongly around his wrist and pulling him further into the crowd.

If Jalil had looked back, he would have seen those blue eyes studying him intently with a curiosity and surprise uncharacteristic of him.

He did notice, however, when the body following him suddenly pulled upright not three steps from the bar. Jerking back a bit at the resistance, Jalil turned with a frown to see what was wrong. In the flashing neon lights crisscrossing the floor, the blonde stranger's face was a blurring mess of blue and gold and violet.

"My name's Christopher Hitchcock." It was hard to hear the words above the music.

Jalil blinked.

The blonde shrugged, pressing the Kleenex tighter to his nose. "Jus' thought I'd say it, tha's all."

It was on Jalil's tongue to shoot back that he didn't care what his name was, he was already calling him 'The Jackass' in his head. But he didn't. Instead, he turned away and pulled on the boy's- Christopher's- wrist again, feeling a funny swell rise up in his stomach that was entirely too different for him to feel comfortable with it. "Jalil," he said flatly. "Now, I don't suppose you can see your ride?"

"Hey, are you-"

"I came here with a redheaded girl named April. I don't know her last name." Jalil stood up on his tiptoes, careening his neck back so he could try to see about the crowd, but it was no use. "I'll probably ask the bartender. Who did you come with?"

Christopher didn't seem to hear him clearly. He blew a bit into the tissues and cleared his throat, sounding a little better. "April? Snarky, redheaded April who can change a tire really well? She's in a few of my classes. Hey, are you Jalil Sherman, the really smart-ass kid that lives with-"

'Oh God, he goes to my college. This just gets better and better.' Jalil cleared his throat loudly, pushing through a throng of people to get to the main bar. "Anyway, last time I checked, she was over here with a few friends. I wouldn't usually approach her, but she probably knows where Ganymede is-"

"You know, for a scrawny geek you have a mean right hook-"

"-and I was ready to go home about, oh, three hours ago and… wait, what?"

"Um, please don't hit me again."

"You're really pushing it, Hitchcock."

"Um. Um. Did you know that your roommate's in love with mine?"


Meanwhile, in the Ryle-Sherman apartment…


The phone was ringing again.

Ganymede cursed under his breath again, scraping the steak knife carefully over the surface of the toaster and trying to ignore it. Why was it every time he was doing something vitally important, he was interrupted? It was probably some sort of curse. In return for the utter sex appeal and suave personality, he was doomed to forever having someone interrupt his quality time with people of equally utter sex appeal and suave personality.

Even if they were stickers.

"Oh, shove it!" Ganymede yelled at the telephone, managing to rip off another pasted face from the toaster. Tom Cruise in a kimono this time. It was a pity, really, but some changes were needed around here. 'Sorry, Tom-baby, but you time is over. Ganymede Ryle is officially in love! Mmm, Ewan McGregor. Sorry, you have to go, too. Well, maybe not your posters. But at least on the toaster.'

He wondered if Jalil would find a toaster pasted over with pictures of David Levin disturbing at all. Then he decided he didn't care.

"This is for our own good," Ganymede vowed, placing Tom Cruise's face on the pile of shredded stickers that was steadily growing on the counter. The toaster was almost completely clean again (he didn't even remember how shiny it was), but it was hard work. What had he been thinking when he used actual glue? Maybe he hadn't been thinking. That was what Jalil generally told him.

Of course, he'd use glue on David's face. Because Ganymede didn't plan on giving him up, ever.

"Our love is meant to be," he said dreamily, pausing for a moment and closing his eyes carefully. He smiled. Ganymede had been infatuated before. He'd been smitten, attracted, fond, needy, wistful, and just about everything else- but even within a few days of knowing about David Levin, he could tell this was entirely different.

There was a certain… something about the boy. Something that knocked him straight between the eyes, a bolt to the brain, something that made his blood sizzle and the air dry up all the words in his throat. It made the world seem brighter, more real, like Ganymede could just reach out and touch everything and feel it vibrating beneath his fingers. He liked everything about the boy so far. He liked the dark of his eyes, the serious tilt to his head, the tired smiles that deserved to be so much wider. He liked David's low timbered voice, the sort of dent in his left ear, the way he pursed his lips after taking a drink of alcohol.

He liked that David Levin was just a boy, but he was still entirely something else to Ganymede.

'This has to be what love is,' Ganymede thought, putting the toaster down on the counter with a soft smile. 'Besides, no one else could look that good in mesh.'

The phone started ringing again.

"Okay, okay!" Ganymede huffed impatiently and threw the steak knife into the sink, crossing to the yellow plastic phone on the wall. "Jeez, doesn't this thing ever shut up?"

He picked up. "This is Ganymede. I'm not interested in you if you're not David, so please hang up."

"I'm going to kill you," a low voice growled on the other end. Ganymede's heart jumped into his throat.

"David?"

"No, you idiot! Jalil! Jalil Sherman! Your roommate, remember? The one you so thoughtfully left alone at a nightclub in the middle of nowhere?" The voice dipped so far into sarcasm that Ganymede could almost taste it leaking out of the receiver. "I'm going to kill you. I seriously am. I'm tired and dirty, people are staring at us, I've contracted a disease called Hitchcock, and April's been gone for over an hour. Where the hell were you? How am I going to get home!"

Ganymede sat down in a chair, frowning in disappointment. "Oh. Hey, Jalil. Did you have fun?"

There was a brief moment of stunned silence from the other end. "Fun? Fun?"

"I'm dismantling the toaster again. I think you'll like it better, though."

"Ganymede, I don't have a ride back! I don't even have money for a taxi, what am I supposed to do?"

That caught Ganymede's attention a little more. "What?" he demanded, sitting up straighter in the chair. "Where's April?"

"Have you been listening to me at all!"

"Take a deep breath, Jalil. Okay?"

Silence. Then, "Okay. I still hate you, though."

"I can live with that." Ganymede paused, worry falling into the green of his eyes. "I don't know what April was thinking, I told her you were still there- do you have a credit card on you? Anything you can use for a taxi? I'd usually call someone else, but it's so late…"

"I've got nothing." Jalil paused, and then- to Ganymede's surprise- snapped, "Get your hands off the phone, you idiot. They're sticky."

"Jalil?"

Shuffling on the other end. "I'm here," Jalil said, clearer and somewhat sheepish. "Sorry. Apparently I've picked up a tumor named Christopher Hitchcock. Sound familiar?"

"Um, no."

"Good. I wish I could say the same. Apparently he's your love-bunny's roommate, though and- no, shut up, you can't talk to him. What? No. No, go bother the bartender."

"Jalil?"

Another pause, and then an exasperated huff sounded through the receiver. "Sorry, Gany. Look, I know you don't have a car, but… the bartender says this idiot's ride's left, too. With you, I might add, and I don't want to hear anything about it because I'm still mad at you for this- just help me figure out a way back, okay? Do you think April would still be up?"

Ganymede checked the clock. "Um. No, but I can probably beg her to get up. She'll be mad, but she'll live. Besides, it's really her fault for forgetting you…"

"Can you call her, then? I don't have her number and… Jesus Christ, no, Hitchcock, you can't come, too. Call your idiot roommate. Unless," and now Jalil's voice came back louder, suspicious, "he's with my roommate. In which case, I will be even more pissed off at you, Ganymede. What the hell were you thinking, making me come to this madhouse? I swear, I'm calling the department of health first thing in the morning-"

Ganymede snapped out of his daydream of what would have happened had David come home with him, after all. "What? No! Jalil, I like that place. You just have a stick up your ass. And not a fun one."

"Ganymede."

"Right, right, I'll call April." Ganymede sighed. "Hang by the phone, okay? Don't go anywhere. And…"

"Yes?"

"When you say you picked up Hitchcock, do you mean…?"

"Finish that, Ganymede Ryle, and I swear I'll shove that goddamn toaster down your throat."


An hour later…


April hadn't been happy at all, but she came. Brimming with apologies and grumbling about Christopher getting stuff all over her car, no less.

"I really am sorry," she said again to Jalil, who sat next to her in the front. Behind them, Christopher was trying to dry himself off with a towel and utterly ruining it. His nose was still a funny red color from dried blood and swelling. "I completely forgot that you were still behind, but with all that happened earlier…"

"It's okay. Thanks for coming back," Jalil muttered, leaning his forehead against the cool pane of the window. It felt entirely too damn good. "Sorry you have to take that idiot back, too."

"Well, I'm somewhat used to that," April said with a sigh.

"You both suck," Christopher said.

April ignored him. "Were you the one that did that?" she asked, smirking a little and nodding her head towards the back. Jalil frowned at her, thought back a bit, and then laughed.

"Oh. Yes. Well, it was his fault."

"Was not!"

"He demeaned me," Jalil continued with a shrug, turning a little red when he remembered exactly how it had come about. "When he challenged me, I took it. Dumbass should learn not to judge books by their covers. That, or he should just learn to permanently keep his mouth shut."

"I've decided you suck even more," Christopher mumbled, sulking. He kicked the back of Jalil's seat, only to have it rocket back on his foot. "Ouch! Shit!"

Jalil calmly removed his hand from the seat adjusting lever.

"You two really don't get along," April noted in amusement.

Jalil and Christopher looked at each other. Then, they turned to her and in unison, much to their displeasure and April's further entertainment, "I hope I never have to see him again."

"You're a wiseass," Christopher said after a moment, scowling and turning away. He crossed his arms at the chest, firmly ignoring the front seats.

Jalil mimicked him, an expression of heightened irritation blossoming across his features. "And you're an idiot."

April threw her head back and laughed.

To Be Continued…