20.Foolish Games

-People tend to change-

There was one more workday ahead before the weekend. Misha felt exhausted, it had been a hectic week at work and now he desired nothing more than to spend the following weekend relaxing at home. Spend some quiet time alone, reading a good book, perhaps going to the gym, and most of all sleeping as long as he wanted in the mornings. 

Misha sat down in front of the table to eat reheated dinner from the previous evening, groaning when his phone peeped for another message from Rauno, his boyfriend of three months. He was probably trying to further persuade him clubbing the following evening even though he had already once declined. It seemed the only weekend activity that Rauno enjoyed and Misha was getting tired of it… or him, to be honest.

Rauno wasn’t the sort of guy he had appeared to be at first when they had started going out. They were too different, Rauno lacked ambition, he was often complaining about his job, but doing nothing to change it. There was certain negativity in him that had started to irritate Misha to listen. And these constant text messages annoyed him further.

Rauno had also revealed that he hated reading; what kind of person hated reading? Misha had wondered…And their sex life… there were certain desires Rauno had revealed to him the previous weekend  that bothered Misha. 

He wasn’t happy in this relationship anymore and he knew he needed to take the step to break up with him. So much for the relaxing weekend, he thought to himself, knowing Rauno, there would be some drama, but there was no point in delaying what was inevitable. He would call him later to ask if they could meet up.

He heard the front door opening and closing but didn’t pay much attention to it and continued reading the paper in front of him. Since Ivo had said he’d meet up with his friends after work, Misha knew to expect Dima.

Sure enough, his younger brother stepped into the room and Misha glanced up at him. ”There’s food left in the fridge if you’re hungry,” he said, focusing back on his eating.

”Oh… thanks…” Dima said a bit absently. There was a moment of silence, the fridge door opened, and Misha could hear his brother tapping his fingers against the door while holding it open for what seemed an unnecessarily long time.

”It’s on the bottom shelf,” Misha said, frowning as he looked up at where his brother stood.

”Oh…yeah,” Dima said, taking the casserole and placing it on the counter before closing the fridge. Again, Misha focused back on his paper. Dima was moving about in the room, reheating the food in the microwave before he finally sat down with his plate, opposite him.

There was a heavy sigh, Dima was moving his food with his fork on the plate without eating.

”Is something wrong?” Misha asked looking up. Dima looked at him thoughtfully, seeming to hesitate. ”Everything okay with you and Linda?” Misha continued asking when his brother remained silent.

”We’re fine… It’s…” Again, Dima hesitated, ”I’m sure you’re the last person I should talk to about this, but…”

”But?” Misha sighed, watching his little brother’s troubled expression. ”Come on, something is clearly weighing on you so would you please just tell me what it is.”

”It’s about Joni,” Dima finally said and now he had Misha’s full attention. It was a troublesome feeling, he hadn’t seen the brat in over two years, not in person. He had seen his pictures though, plenty of them, adds of a different kind and they always seemed to attract his attention, always seemed to capture his eyes a little longer than they should. His thoughts would always take him back to that night they shared and then to the last encounter between them, the encounter that he would have liked to forget because he took no pride in his own behavior.

”He got himself trouble again, huh? Trouble in paradise, perhaps?” He tried to sound casual but knew full well that he was failing. Still, he hoped that Dima wouldn’t be able to read the curiosity that had woken in him.

”Joni might kill me for telling you but… someone had beaten him.” Dima started quietly, his fingers playing on the surface of his water glass. ”I didn’t call first, that I would come and visit… I was supposed to see him on Sunday, but Joni canceled and… I just had this feeling, that I should go over and… now I’m… I’m not sure what to think, but I’m worried.”

”Beaten him?” Misha frowned, ”who?”

”Um… I don’t know,” again Dima hesitated. ”I just…. something bothers me. He had an explanation that someone robbed him, but when I asked if anything was taken, he just said that the guy had followed him, and they had fought. That…” He rubbed his temple tiredly and glanced at Misha, ”of course, it could have been true, but…”

”Dima, just what are you insinuating here?” Misha insisted. He wasn’t stupid; he got the idea but wanted Dima to say it first.

For a moment Dima was quiet, frowning as he looked down at his plate.

”It’s… I have no way of knowing. Just that he is jealous,” he said taking a small sip of his water. ”Just a silly doubt? I mean, he couldn’t, could he? He loves Joni. God…I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have talked about this…it’s…” Dima set his fork down, without having taken a single bite of his food.

”You mean that man of his,” Misha frowned.

”I might be wrong… Chris was there, and he was very attentive,” Dima sighed, ”but what I know… what entered the thought… is how jealous he is. What Joni has said before and what I’ve seen myself,” he bit his lip, looking more and more troubled. ”I just can’t go over there and start accusing him; I don’t want to make it worse than it is, I just… I hope I’m wrong.”

”They’ve been together for quite long, haven’t they? Have you seen any bruises on Joni before?” 

”No,” Dima shook his head frowning, ”but ever since Joni got home from the army, he said that they’ve been arguing a lot. Chris is obsessive. What Joni has told me just sounds so ridiculous, like… if he has a friend over, while Chris is not home, he has to call him to let him know… and Chris wants to know everything he does beforehand. To me it sounds odd, I would never ask the same from Linda, we’re in a relationship not in… parole,” he rolled his eyes.

Odd was a mild way to put it. It had red flags all over, which left Misha feel worried and troubled most of all. Why on earth would Joni stay with a man who set such ridiculous rules for him? 

”But if Joni is unhappy like it sounds, then why is he still with him? Joni just isn’t the kind of person who allows someone to make him miserable, he likes to make others miserable.” The bitter note escaped without further consideration and made Dima look at him disapprovingly.

”I’m not going to pay attention to your last comment,” Dima sighed. ”As for why Joni stays, I can’t say… Hm… well, most of the time Chris is nice, attentive, and… well, I’m not sure… Maybe Joni is happy; every relationship has its hardships and arguments. Lately, Joni just seemed more frustrated than before and today, seeing him like that got me worried… But I fear if I ask; I endanger our friendship and I fear if I let it go, I’ll endanger him, does it make any sense? I don’t want to turn my back or close my eyes to what’s going on… This bugs me; if I am right, do I have to wait until more bruises show up? Until he’s more hurt than now.” Dima’s voice gave out how nervous he now was. ”And now I feel guilty, maybe I am imagining it all, God, why is this so complicated?”

”Calm down, Dima, it’s sweet that you worry for him but worrying too much won’t get you anywhere….as for advice, I’m not sure what to tell you. Maybe talk to Joni in private if you can… I don’t think Joni is the kind of person who would stay if he wasn’t treated right.” Misha hoped he was right in his assumption.

Dima glanced at him.

”You’re right,” he sighed finally, ”I’ll talk to Joni later,” he nodded, and sighing heavily he took his fork, and they both finished their dinner in silence, both lost in their troubled thoughts about the matter.

**^^**^^**^^^**

”New clothes, new aftershave and all, aren’t we neat?” Ivo smirked at Misha, who was putting his leather jacket on in the hall. They were  getting ready to leave for Dima and Linda’s housewarming party.

”So? It’s our little brother’s party, I want to look good, and since when has it been a crime?” Misha shrugged.

”Yes, and it has nothing to do with seeing Joni for the first time in over two years,” Ivo nodded, trying to cover his grin. Misha groaned.

”My good god; two and a half years and you just can’t let it go, can you?” he shook his head, ”I can assure you it has absolutely nothing to do with Joni.”

”No?” Ivo was unaffected by Misha’s pissed-off tone; it was too fun to tease him. ”I’m not sure I believe you,” he grinned. ”Let’s go then, the taxi is waiting.”

It was early April and it had been almost two months from the talk Dima had with Misha; at times Misha still caught himself wondering if it was true, even when Dima said that things had seemed better with Joni, that he seemed like himself and that he hadn’t seen more bruises on him. Perhaps it was alright? And perhaps… Well, whether he liked to admit it or not, Misha was curious to see Joni, and perhaps seeing this boyfriend of his would give him clues.

Ivo was in a very cheerful mood like always when expecting a good party with some vodka and now, especially when knowing he would see Joni. He had missed seeing the kid. Somehow along the way, the contact they had held via emails and text messages had died down and they had only seen each other briefly a couple of times since.

Joni had not visited their home since his ordeal with Misha. Now Ivo was even more curious as to how the meeting with the two would go. Since breaking up with his previous boyfriend a few months back Misha hadn’t been seeing anyone to his knowledge. And he couldn’t let go of the thought that Misha and Joni would make a perfect match. So, what if Joni had a boyfriend? Well, he could just pack his bags and return to America.

They were the first guests that had arrived; Ivo hugged both Dima and Linda, kissed their cheeks, and drowned Linda with compliments before parading into the kitchen as though arriving at his own house.

”I brought vodka in case you ran out!!” he called from the other room.

”Very good of you!” Dima grinned amused,

”I’ll mix us all some drinks, with vodka!” Ivo called again,

”Yeah, whatever…” Misha rolled his eyes, ”I must warn you, Dima, he’s in a very annoying mood,” he sighed.

”Isn’t he always?” Dima chuckled and took Misha’s coat to place it on the hanger.

”Hey! I can still hear you here!” Ivo called, ”you are so ungrateful, hurt my feelings, woe is me, an old man with two ungrateful little brothers…” He went on.

”Don’t worry, Ivo, we still love you!” Dima called. ”Better turn on some music,” he added then.

”I can do that,” Linda smiled and walked off to the living room.

Ivo soon returned with two drinks in his hands, handed one to Misha, and then started looking around.

”Where is Joni?” he asked walking to the living room, his brothers following,

”Not here yet, but don’t worry Ivo, I’m sure you’ll soon be reunited with your ex-boyfriend,” Dima couldn’t help but tease, making Misha rather proud of him. Ivo only responded with a mock shocked expression.

**^^**^^**

Joni had somehow managed to pull himself together. Bruises had faded and outside he managed to give the impression that everything was fine between him and Chris, even though it was far from fine.

 Dima had had his doubts, he had tried to ask about it as discreetly as he could once, soon after the incident. It had been easy to see how nervous it had made him to bring forward his concern. ”Is everything alright with you and Chris?” Had been his question. ”You would tell me if something is wrong, right?”  He had added soon after.

And Joni had felt the ache in whole his being and it took so much from to smile, took so much to utter the horrible lie; ”Of course we are fine.” Took so much to force out that carefree chuckle after. ”Don’t worry.” he had added and quickly changed the subject.

The first time after Chris had wanted to have sex again, he had been considerate enough to allow him to get drunk first. Joni knew that saying no, wasn’t an option anymore, so he endured, and no matter how gentle and attentive Chris attempted to be to him, he hated every moment of it.

Inside he felt depressed, with each passing day it became even more difficult to see a way out.

Perhaps Chris felt a hint of guilt as well, he wondered every time Chris tried to handle him with tenderness and care… But at the same time, the threat of violence was now a permanent part of their relationship, just one wrong word, one wrong look could set Chris off, especially if he was drunk and he had started drinking more. 

It was like walking on eggshells around him and Joni desperately needed ways to distract himself from how sad his life had gotten.

 He had seen the invitation laying on the living room table among Chris’ other work papers, work refreshment weekend, and on the same weekend that Dima had told him he and Linda were throwing a house-warming party. Knowing Misha and Ivo would be there Joni knew he just couldn’t take Chris with him and so he had not even mentioned the party to him. The invitation had made his heart race; a glimmer of hope, if he just could make sure that Chris would go there… Just one weekend for himself, without him; he needed it so desperately.

While Chris was working in front of his laptop in the bedroom, Joni hesitantly approached, holding the invitation he had found. Chris looked up, and raised his brow, before smiling,

”What is it, love?” he asked.

”I-I found this…” Joni showed the paper to him, ”are you going to go?”

Chris sighed.

”I haven’t been to those before, and you know how I hate leaving you alone for the whole weekend.”

A stab of disappointment, but he didn’t want to give up, he needed this, so he walked even closer, left the paper on the table, and sat carefully on Chris’s lap.

”I would like you to make friends, Chris,” he whispered, touching his face. He had to be a great actor, pretend… He hated himself when he kissed the man’s cheek tenderly. ”I want you to be happy and… I think it would be good for you.”

Chris gave him a curious look; it was the first time since Joni willingly and soberly approached him like this, touched him like that… He couldn’t help but smile, his hand lowering on his thigh and stroking slowly, watching Joni’s face carefully,

”You think?” he asked.

”Yes. You’ve often said how all your friends are in Canada and… well, those work refreshment days, they’re… great opportunities to, you know… get to know people, a more relaxed environment and… I think you would be happier here to have friends of your own, not just hang out with me and other kids,” he grinned, watching him hopefully.

”Why do I get the feeling you’re up to something?” Chris asked tilting his head, making Joni feel nervous but he tried his best not to let it show, keep acting, and play the role.

”Because I am?” he asked innocently, leaning to kiss him on his lips this time. ”I don’t want us to fight anymore; I want us to be happy, I want you to be happy…” Chris slipped his hand between his legs.

”You know what would make me happy?” he asked smirking, and Joni had to grit his teeth to stay still, to continue what he had started. He felt such disgust, such self-loathing, and yet…

”Yes, I think I know,” he whispered.

”Good, I could use a little break from work,” Chris nodded and started unzipping Joni’s pants and his own, kissing him hungrily, ”and fine, I’ll go there Joni, I’ll go there for you,” he breathed between kisses, hurriedly undressing him and Joni simply closed his eyes, he succeeded though with a price, but he would pay it, for his weekend of freedom he would; oh how he hated himself right then.

And so, that Friday Chris had gone after work to a large cabin an hour’s drive from Helsinki where they were supposed to spend two nights. Dima’s party was on Saturday, Joni wasn’t sure how he could ask his friend to never mention it in Chris’ presence or if he would, then at least not mention that he had been there as well. To Chris, Joni had lied that he would only visit one of his girlfriends, then come home rather early and rest. He knew he was playing with fire, knew that if he would get caught in his lie, it would be hell for him, he would just have to be extra careful.

He knew he was late, he had to wait for Chris’ check-up call before leaving, the party had started at five and Chris called at six; after that Joni hurriedly called a taxi and could be on his way. He felt nervous and wondered how weird it would feel to see Misha after all of this time. It would go alright, he assured himself; maybe he should just ignore the man. He wondered, part of him feeling embarrassed when remembering what had happened, what Misha had said, and how he himself had behaved; like an idiot. He wasn’t sure what to expect from the evening, but this whole lying to Chris made him nervous, he kept wondering about the horrid chance that Chris would find out, somehow…

He heard the music, heard the laughter and chatting, and took a deep breath before ringing the doorbell. It was Linda who opened the door.

”Hi Joni,” she smiled and hugged him. ”We missed you here,” she grinned.

”Sorry I’m late,” he apologized and handed her a bottle of red wine. ”Here, I remember this was your favorite?”

”Yes, thank you, and don’t worry about being late, Chris couldn’t come?” she asked just as Dima walked into the hall to greet him as well.

”No, he went to this work refreshment thing,” Joni answered and took off his coat. He wanted to tell Dima not to mention to Chris that he had beem there, but if he would, Dima would doubt again and perhaps… Perhaps he could stop such conversation ever taking place?

”Well, we’re glad you came, would you like something to drink, Ivo made some punch. I must warn you it’s rather strong,” Dima grinned.

”Good, I won’t mind,” Joni smiled, though he knew he couldn’t drink too much so that Chris wouldn’t get any clues that he hadn’t been home.

Misha sipped his beer slowly and glanced at the hall where Joni was. The boy looked incredibly good, there was no way of getting past that, and he looked… different somehow.

 Misha didn’t dare to stand there for long, it would give Ivo more reason to piss him off so he quietly sneaked back to the living room. Joni hadn’t noticed him yet, and he wasn’t sure if he was ready to speak to him about what had happened between them back then. He knew he needed to apologize. 

Ivo, who had just visited the bathroom, saw Joni and grinned widely.

”There he is!” And before Joni could react, the man already had him secure in a tight bear-like hug. ”Look at you…. all grown up! You look good, Joni!” He nodded looking at him from head to toe.

Joni felt a hint of embarrassment, trying to cover it. Yes, it was good Chris wasn’t with him, he would have flipped, no doubt.

”Nice to see you, Ivo, it’s been too long, you look good as well,” he answered.

”Yes, yes, now let’s get you a drink!” Ivo tugged his hand to lead him to the kitchen where he handed him a rather big glass of the punch he had made.

”Um, thanks.”

”It’s vodka, it’s good for you,” Ivo winked. ”So, where’s the boyfriend?” he asked rather pleased that he hadn’t dragged along with Joni; perfect.

”Chris had this work thing. You know, the one where they stuff their workers in a cabin with sauna and lots of alcohol in hopes they bond more,” Joni chuckled while taking a sip of the drink.

”Ah yes, fun times,” Ivo chuckled. ”Well, let’s join the others in the living room then!”

Misha was seated on a couch, chatting with some girl when Joni stepped into the room. Joni felt a pinch in the bottom of his stomach, their eyes met for a second and Joni was the first to look away, wondering if it had been a good idea to come over there after all. 

Seeing Misha felt bizarre, he looked so familiar and yet different. He was still handsome, still having that somehow arrogant almost cold look on his face, making Joni remember how his words had hurt him. He wanted to ignore the man, act cool and collected, he definitely didn’t want Misha to know how sad his life had gotten, how weak he was, that Misha had been right.

”So Ivo, still single?” he asked casually looking at the older man with a warm smile.

”Ah yes, when you’re alone too long, you become picky,” he nodded. ”And besides I don’t think there is a person who could stand to look at me for too long, even my brothers find it difficult,” he laughed.

”Oh, come on! Don’t be too hard on yourself, Ivo, I remember having fun pretending to be your boyfriend,” Joni chuckled.

”Yes, we did have fun, didn’t we?” Ivo grinned. ”it’s a shame you’re taken,” he took note.

Joni looked down and nodded, a shame indeed.

”You would have asked me out if I wasn’t?” He joked looking up.

”Yes, why not?” Ivo grinned, ”seriously though, I’ve missed seeing you. Don’t be such a stranger, come over sometime, have coffee, just talk.”

”Someday maybe I will,” Joni whispered again giving a small smile, but Ivo could detect a certain sadness in his eyes and wondered why it was there.

”He’s a good man then, treating you right?” he asked.

”Yes,” Joni lied after a moment of silence, ”we’re fine.”

Ivo nodded slowly and glanced at Misha, noticing that he was looking at Joni from time to time; it almost made him smirk, he would have to make these two talk somehow, he would plan something. In the meanwhile, he continued talking with Joni.

After some time Joni walked into the kitchen to get himself a new drink, he had noticed a girl checking Ivo out and when she finally had gathered the courage to come and talk to the man, Joni saw it better to leave the two alone; maybe it would be good for Ivo to go out with her, out with someone.

He sighed as he opened the fridge, relieved to be alone for a while, away from the noise, this was taking more energy from him than he would have thought.

Misha felt a little nervous when he got up, noticing that Joni had gone to the kitchen and would be there alone and since Ivo’s attention was now on the young woman in front of him, Misha decided to take the chance. He felt a little bothered over the fact that Joni seemed to pay no attention to him, why? He was curious.

When he stepped into the kitchen, Joni’s back was turned to him and the kid startled a little, looking almost frightened when he turned to see him.

”Hi, it’s only me,” Misha said, reaching to fill his glass with the punch,

”Oh, hi,” Joni answered quietly watching him, the rejected seventeen-year-old inside of him almost wanted to flee the room that instant but he forced himself to calm down and act the adult he was supposed to be now.

”So, long time no see, huh?” Misha asked, watching him more carefully now, wanting to see if there were any signs of what Dima had suspected.

”Yes,” Joni nodded, feeling slightly uncomfortable, ”So… how are you, Misha?” He cleared his throat, tilting his head. ”You… are you still studying?” he asked frowning, his heart was racing, it felt odd to stand there face to face.

”No, working… I graduated last year.”

”I see…” Joni nodded a bit absently. 

”How are you? What do you do these days?” he asked though he already knew from Dima.

”I’m… good, I’m trying to finish school, and doing some modeling.” 

”So still a high school kid,” Misha grinned making Joni frown.

”You know if you want to insult me, I’m not in the mood right now,” Joni’s voice was slightly agitated.

”No, I didn’t mean it as an insult, relax,” Misha said, surprised that Joni would interpret it as such.

”Well… you never know when it comes to you,” Joni took note, ”anyway this was… fun,” awkward, -he wanted to say. ”I should go and check where Dima is…”

”Joni, wait…” Misha touched his arm as Joni was about to leave the room, and surprised, Joni turned to look at him and his hand that was still touching him, making Misha draw it back. ”Hm… just… I’m not good at this… but… well… About what happened between us… That day, I’m sorry, I had no right to say what I did. I hope you’re not holding a grudge against me,” he sighed.

Joni looked at him but could not hold his gaze for long; remembering it felt painful and this situation was odd.

”It was long ago, Misha… Lots of things have happened and we’ve both grown, I guess I was behaving rather foolish myself, too… I can’t really blame you, so don’t worry about it,” Joni gave him a brief smile. ”I’ll go and find Dima now,” he added and left the room.

Misha took a sip of his drink staring at the door, after Joni. He felt a hint of disappointment; Joni had just walked away, he didn’t know what else he had been expecting him to do but… he was disappointed even to the point of being irritated.

Throughout the evening he kept stealing glances at Joni who was completely… ignoring him! It just wasn’t right. Of course, he should have been glad of it, the brat’s attention would be annoying… and still, this was even more annoying. And the thing was… he didn’t even seem like such a brat anymore. It was disturbing on many different levels.

”Someone is looking rather sour this evening,” Ivo grinned stepping next to him.

”I’m not sour… I’m…” he looked at his empty glass, ”out of drink,” he nodded. ”Going to get a beer,” he said heading to the kitchen. Joni still wasn’t looking at him, what was wrong with him?

Ivo was rather amused by Misha’s behavior, watching the way he at times looked at Joni, frowning, almost restless, and Joni who didn’t seem to notice, though just when Misha wasn’t looking Joni did glance back at him, briefly. Ivo sighed; obviously, these two would never get to it if he wasn’t there to push them in the right direction; they needed help and Ivo had just the right plan.

Ivo suggested going to the club, to which everyone seemed to agree eagerly; he called two cabs, one big, one small, and when they were outside, he made sure that Joni and Misha stayed last and had to take the smaller cab alone.

”I’ll tell the address to the driver, okay? And we’ll meet you at the club!” Ivo grinned. Of course, Misha should have suspected something but he wasn’t really able to think clearly with Joni there, seated next to him.

”You’re not so loud like before,” Misha took notice, frowning when Joni kept silent.

”Loud?” Joni looked up confused.

”Yeah, you used to have lots of things to say whether I liked to hear it or not,” Misha nodded and Joni couldn’t help but laugh.

”Well, you should be pleased then, shouldn’t you?” he asked, raising his brow.

”Perhaps, but I’m not,” Misha frowned again; Joni opened his mouth feeling a little lost.

”I don’t know what to say, Misha,” he admitted honestly.

”You’ve changed,” Misha took a note.

”People tend to change, they grow up,” Joni answered calmly.

”Indeed,” Misha nodded observing him, Joni felt odd and he had to look away to the window.

”You’re staring at me,” he took notice after a while.

”I’m sorry, I suppose I was,” Misha said, still looking at him. ”I guess it’s just because I haven’t seen you in such a long time,” he said. And because Joni seemed different, making him curious.

”How are you, Joni?” he asked.

”You already asked me that before,” Joni reminded and couldn’t help but smile.

”Did I?” 

”Yes, I’m still fine, and you?”

”Can’t complain,” Misha grinned and the next moment the cab stopped.

”We’re here, fifteen euros,” the driver announced, Misha reached for his wallet and paid before Joni could.

”I got this,” he told him.

Joni thanked him and got out; he looked at the club in front of him, frowning.

”Um, are you sure we’re at the right place?” he asked Misha who just walked beside him.

”God damn, Ivo,” Misha groaned looking at the gay club, ”I should have known he was up to something,” he sighed.

Joni wasn’t sure whether he should panic and run or laugh, but finally, he ended up laughing.

”Oh, Ivo, some things never change,” he sighed, smiling to himself.

Misha smiled when looking at Joni, that smile was different from any he had seen on his face that evening.

”Might as well go in, right? Have a beer or two?” He suggested.

Joni looked at him, knowing full well he shouldn’t, knowing he might end up burned, but… he didn’t want to go home yet, didn’t want to go back to reality.

”Why not?” He shrugged and hoped he wouldn’t end up regretting it. Misha smiled and led him inside.

”So beer, okay?” He asked as they approached the counter.

”Yes,” Joni nodded searching for his wallet.

”Nah, put that away, I’ll buy, I think I owe you.”

”Um, thanks,” Joni said surprised, wondering why Misha was so nice to him, it was new. They sat in front of a free table, Joni felt a little nervous about the way Misha was looking at him.

”How’s it going, with that man of yours?” He asked, taking a sip of his beer.

”Fine… it’s… fine,” Joni nodded. 

”He’s treating you okay?”

Joni tilted his head.

”Why is everyone asking that?” He wondered, stroking the surface of the glass, drawing small circles.

”Is it a wrong thing to ask?” Misha asked in return. ”Just a simple question, curiosity I guess.”

”I told you, we’re fine,” Joni answered, ”And you, are you with someone?” He wanted to change the subject.

”Nope broke up a while back, it didn’t work, he …”

”Turned out to be a brat?” Joni interrupted in a teasing tone, smirking.

”Ah! Here he is,” Misha grinned.

”Who?”

”The Joni I knew, I was worried he was lost completely,” Misha took a more comfortable position on his seat, taking another sip.

”Worried?” Joni asked, almost amused, ”if I remember correctly you were quite eager to get rid of me.”

”I’m not proud of how I handled it… I should have respected your age and… I didn’t. It’s rare for me to say, but I am sorry.”

Joni watched him carefully and finally nodded.

”It’s in the past now, I didn’t make it easy, I understand that now.”

Joni had matured, Misha noticed, changed and now he began to see him differently, the things that had bothered him in him weren’t there, he had never expected Joni to stay in a relationship for that long and now he was, he wasn’t so arrogant, didn’t seem so vain, he was…handsome… beautiful even… and yet Misha detected other changes that bothered him more than pleased; sadness, he was quieter, at times he even looked nervous like now when they were quiet, now when he was being observed… Was it true? Could it be? Why was Joni still with the man if it was true?

”What are your plans after school?” He asked curiously.

Joni sighed and took a sip of his beer.

”God, I don’t know… perhaps I start stripping,” he joked nervously, making Misha raise his brows.

”Stripping? Interesting,” yes it was an interesting thought.

”Seriously, I’m not sure,” Joni said and looked up, ”you know it was a joke, right? The stripping, it’s … uh, this is just odd, sitting here with you, you know this might be the first time we actually talk, you know without trying to bite each other’s heads off or stuff.”

”Or stuff,” Misha grinned, almost making Joni embarrassed; what was going on here?

”Um… yeah…” Joni nodded, taking another sip, then looked around, noticing one young man watching Misha keenly. ”You have an admirer…” He whispered then, with a hint of a smile on his lips, ”a guy at the bar watching you…”

Misha glanced, noticing the blond youth, and then looked back at Joni.

”I like brunettes better anyway,” he said, realizing he was trying to flirt… with the brat!? Ivo would have a field trip! Seriously, how many drinks had he had? He wondered to himself, noticing the rather confused look on Joni’s face. Okay, just stay cool, casual…

Joni was speechless; he didn’t know how to react to this Misha, especially after everything and he was nervous; this was dangerous… if he got caught… he checked the time; 11 pm.

”I’m sorry, I think I should go. I’m feeling rather tired,” he lied.

Misha frowned, it was still early, was he this boring to be with?

”Oh… well… you sure you okay?”

”Yes, maybe just getting down with something… Thanks, Misha for the talk, and the beer, this was…nice.”

”Yeah,” Misha agreed, trying not to sound disappointed because truthfully he was. He didn’t like the feeling of being rejected. ”So I guess I’ll see you around,” he added as Joni got up.

He nodded and smiled briefly.

”Yes, see you around, good night, Misha.”

”’Night,” and Misha watched as Joni walked towards the entrance, finally disappearing in the crowd. He sighed and watched the half-empty beer glass Joni had left behind; damn… He wanted to see the kid again, this was fucked up…

He didn’t have to sit alone for long, soon he was approached by the guy who had been checking him out.

”Hi,” the boy grinned, ”can I sit down?”

Misha sighed, ”sure if you want,” he already felt bored, but… well, his poor ego needed a boost right then.

**^^**^^^**

Joni got home; at 11.33 pm, it was quiet, he sighed with relief having been afraid that Chris would be there, waiting… 

He walked into the kitchen and took a beer from the fridge; had Misha been flirting with him? Had he imagined it? It was odd but made him smile slightly. He walked to the bedroom holding his beer, undressing his clothes, folding them neatly, and changing into a t-shirt and sweatpants, he would sleep on the couch, but he still wasn’t comfortable sleeping on the bed, and he doubted he ever would again.

He turned the TV on and sat down, taking another sip, and almost choked when suddenly he heard the key turning in the lock, the front door opened, Joni checked the time; 11.48 pm. His heart started racing.

”Hi babe, missed you,” Chris stood at the doorway grinning at him. ”Decided to surprise you,” he continued approaching him.

When Chris sat down and kissed him, Joni could only thank his luck; fifteen minutes… only fifteen minutes later and he would have been screwed.

”Were you a good boy?” he asked tracing his lips on his neck, watching him carefully.

”Yes… Just… relaxed,” Joni whispered, scared; did he know after all?

”Good,” Chris purred and pulled him closer. The man brought his lips to him for another kiss and Joni could sense the lust that sickened him. He held his beer bottle in his trembling hand, not really responding to his boyfriend’s caresses.

”Now I want to fuck you,” Chris whispered, took the bottle from his hand, and settled it on the coffee table. Joni felt a lump rising to his throat, he felt like crying, but did his best to fight back the tears, swallowing repeatedly. ”Let’s go,” Chris got up, pulled him up with him, and started leading him towards the bedroom.

Joni followed numbly, it was useless to fight. He knew that had he been home only a little later, it would have been much worse. At that moment he felt deep self-loathing, detesting everything that his life now was. How could he get out of it?

ing that his life now was.


         Web published: February 23rd, 2009.(edited July 2022)

            My Secret Shore

© KOLGRIM

Foolish Games 21

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