Last Dance
Labyrinth of Love
by Angel Maxwell (Eternal SailorM)

Disclaimers: All characters are original creations of mine and Caitlin Stryker's. I will not entertain theft of any sort. Claudia, Michael, Alora, Austin, Frank, Galen, Quentin, Bryn, and the rest of this lot are mine. Steal, and evisceration will seem a pleasant alternative.

Dedications: To the long-lost Caitlin Stryker, my fellow RPer.

How the hell did it get to this point? Everything was fine - Fine! - until just recently. Then suddenly - wham! - it all went on a fast trip downhill. I guess this makes me selfish, but I want things back to the way they were, back when he loved me and I was the only thing he could think of all day every day. Before he came in the picture.

Things were running perfectly normal, business as normal. Michael and I went to work, supported everyone as we'd done for the past few years. We made enough on our jobs that the others would never have to work or only do so if they wanted to. We could afford to play, could afford for us to all have our own flats on the waterfront, could afford to hit some of the best clubs in town on a regular basis. That last one was our mistake, I suppose. That's where he appeared in our lives, and God, I hate him for that. He took my Frank away from me.

No, I shouldn't say that. It's not entirely Galen's fault. We both started this journey away from each other, not like when I left before, but apart all the same. I'd already met Quentin by the time Frank met Galen. At that point, I'd yet to consider anything more than friendship with him, though I'd have to be blind to miss how attractive he is and that he... wanted (wants?) me. I had Frank, though, and he was all I needed.

Maybe it's my fault. Frank and I were at our favorite club, dancing till we collapsed, as we always did. Alora pulled me aside after the end of one song and asked me to take pity on Quentin and give him at least one dance. Normally, I'd say no, I didn't want to encourage him, but for some reason, (maybe it was the alcohol, maybe it was Alora, maybe it was the smoke, maybe it was fate) this time I accepted. One song led to two then five, then I glanced around the room and realized Frank wasn't there.

And that's how Galen came into the picture. If he hadn't stolen my brother from me, I'd think he's a damn fine specimen of manhood, but he took my twin and turned him into something else. Now he's something that is not mine, but instead something that is mostly his. I hate Galen for that. I hate him.

Austin was relieved. We all knew he worried about how close the two of us were. We knew he was afraid we wouldn't be careful enough one time, would slip up, and I might get pregnant. I haven't - and I suspect I can't, but that's never stopped his worrying. Our oldest brother/father/mother always worries too much. Bryn knew how much I grieved though. He never said anything, not even the time he caught me beating the shit out of a dummy I'd given red hair.

Michael said he'd never seen me so angry. All the many times I'd been running on nothing but anger, all the times my rage was the only thing keeping me going - none of these had come close to how mad I was then. And I guess that was my final fuck-up. I was using my hatred to keep me going and not letting my head enter the picture much at all. Bluntly, I got sloppy - and now I'm paying the price.

I fucked up.

I'm in one of the Center's small clinics just outside town, in that thin strip where the wilderness touches the city. My right forearm is shattered, my right leg is broken in six places, I have two broken ribs on my right side, at least a moderate concussion... The list goes on. Michael was with me when it happened, so he's here too, though he seems to be limited to shock and blood loss. I begged the doctors not to call Frank - Alora needs to be here with Michael, but I can't seen Frank. Not now. And Austin couldn't take it when I broke my arm on the swingset as a child; there's no way he can take this now. If anyone has to come for me, I pray for it to be Bryn or Alora or even Quentin.

But what I wish for is rarely what I get. The first to walk in that door is Frank. No Galen in sight, though. Thank goodness for small favors. Frank walks in the room and I can't even look at him. How did we change so much so fast? Or maybe we haven't changed at all. Maybe we're just not saying what needs to be said.

And Frank is saying something. I've been ignoring him so hard, trying to drive him away before he can hurt me, before I can hurt him, that I haven't heard what he's been saying to me. He's curled up against my left side, like we used to do when we were smaller and were afraid of Mother and Father, and he's speaking in this soft, broken, beautiful voice, "Don't you know you're everything to me?"

"Go home to Galen, Frank," I have to make myself say. Even if he's no longer my lover, he's still my twin and I can't stand hurting him like I have been doing. But it's for the best. It's for the best. It's for the best. And if I tell myself that enough, I might start to believe what I already know to be truth.

"Galen's not important right now! You are!" He sits up in slow motion, slow dawning horror on his face. "That's what started this. Galen..."

"Don't go there, Frank." Is that my voice? Why do I sound like I'm about to cry?

"Do you want me to give him up?" He's working himself up into a good snit now. "I will. For you, I will." He grabs my left shoulder in one hand. "I'll kill him if you ask me to.  You're my everything: sister, lover, twin, blood, precious, heaven, everything. Just tell what I am to you. Just tell me what I need to be for you."

...Why can't I answer him?

It's like that first time all over again, when I finally came home to him again. I was bruised and sore from work when Michael delivered me to my house. No one was home except Frank. Michael left us alone, and we could only stare at each other a long time before he gathered me up, took me back to the bedroom we once shared, locked the door, and started raining kisses down on me. I can't say I remember ever agreeing to the change in our relationship, but excepting the moral objection I hear from time to time in a voice that reminds me of Austin and the bruises where we've held each other too tightly, I can't complain with it, with him. He is my everything.

But there's a wild look in his eyes tonight, and his hand on my shoulder is starting to hurt, and I'm already more broken than intact in more ways than just physically. I'll heal quickly, but tonight I hurt enough to want to die. At least since he met Galen, our connection has been broken; he can't feel the pain I feel right now. I can thank God for that at least, right?

"You're my love, my lover, my darling, my twin, my everything, Frank," I whisper, averting my eyes from his. "You're everything I hold dear to me. I kill for you. I would die for you. But I can't be that for you. You have Galen and a chance for something closer to normal - or at least acceptable. Even Austin approves. I can't - I won't ask you to give that up because I'm selfish enough to want you all to myself." I can feel wet warmth on my cheeks, and I think these tears are my own. "I love you more than life itself, and that's why I'm trying to be noble while I still can give you up." A sniffle breaks from me, and the tears turn loose for the first time in years. "Leave, Frank, before I ask you to give up your happiness for me."

I find my face buried in his chest as he pulls me to him. My entire body wants to scream in pain, but it's already less than it was a few hours ago; I'm healing. A soft, warm feeling brushes through my mind, wiping away my sadness. He restored our connection. "You are mine, darling love. You're mine, and I'm yours. As long as I have you, I don't need anyone else. Galen's gone."

I shake my head. "But he makes you happy. You can't give that up."

"Then he'll have to accept you are my number one. You'll always be my number one. Galen can have me when you don't want me, and Quentin can have you when I don't want you. You're mine first, and I'm yours first. Always."

I'm so weak. For him and him alone, I'm so weak. I nod, not lifting my head from his chest. "Do you love me, Frank?"

I can feel him press his lips to my hair. "Always. I'll always love you."

That's all I need.

18 February 2005

Whee, weirdness! What can I say? There were times Caitlyn and I got strange. Or maybe strange is an understatement. I don't know. So, anyway, here's the next section of Last Dance.