A Boy Who Came In from the Cold Ch. 15bySadieRose©
"Well, we seem to be getting back on track. A Boy who is getting closer and closer to completion and where the story will end, no one knows. Not even Rayne! But I've been hard at work these last few weeks and there should be a steady progression of chapters from now until the conclusion (If I don't get side-tracked by Count Cain or the pressures of work, that is!) "The usual criteria apply to this tale. If it shows up on any other site than Litty, and it's not got my name attached, it's been thieved and the miscreants should be soundly thrashed!
By the time Rayne found Aldo di Bocatto in the heart of Agde's old town he was barely recognisable. Shoplifting was another useful talent from his youth that he had never quite lost the knack of and he made his way back into the town via Agde's bustling street market beneath the old fortress walls. Any crowd was good to hide in and he was soon at work liberating random items that took his fancy like a human magpie, examining tee shirts and shirts quite openly whilst he stuffed smaller things like silk scarves and jewellery into his pockets beneath them. His jeans were quite snug so he was limited to fine materials and delicate objects but that did not stop him slipping a sage green voile shirt right off it's hanger as he flicked through the rack and balling it into his loose fist before walking off coolly towards the next stall.
The trick was to be casual about it. Never run and never look back to see if you were being watched.
By the time Aldo found him, sitting on the steps of the Municipal Hall close to the Alfa, he had acquired a pair of huge, round, green, translucent framed sunglasses by simply putting them on his head as he looked at something else, then walking away with them. He had a jewel-green headscarf wrapped completely around his dark hair and tumbling to his shoulders and wore a long chain with little silver, jingling coins around his neck. The voile shirt was so sheer that it was almost transparent. Beneath it were dark green silk trousers that billowed around his slender legs and had been the hardest thing to steal since they required the acquisition of a plastic shopping bag. Fortunately he still had some coins in his pockets and achieved his aim by buying cigarette papers and tobacco, which came complete with a sweet little carrier, just large enough to tuck a pair of misappropriated silk pants into. He changed in a cubicle in the public toilets and tucked his normal clothes into the carrier then popped them under the front seat of the Alfa Romeo on his return to the main square. The pharmacy across the street from his current perch had been a great source of makeup and he spent a happy ten minutes applying samples to his eyelids and cheekbones and glossing his lips with silvery gel. He found a pleasant, citric perfume tester and squirted some onto his wrists and behind his ears. Discreetly he pocketed a small bottle of silvery white nail polish, which he diligently applied to his finger and toenails as he waited for Aldo to return.
The Italian nearly exploded with laughter at the sight of him. In his white vest and crisp linen two piece suit he was the epitome of cool European elegance.
"Fuck me! What 'do' you look like?" he exclaimed, shaking his head incredulously. "God, Rayne! Where have you been? I've been looking everywhere for you."
"I went shopping down the market," the boy grinned up at him cheerfully. He had made good use of the cigarette papers and tobacco whilst waiting for his friend to find him and was in much more relaxed state of mind than he had been about an hour ago. "Unfortunately, I managed to get my pocket picked," he added with a grimace, having already considered how he was to account for the loss of eighteen hundred francs. "Can you fuckin' believe it? I live in fuckin' London and some provincial 'erbert gets me 'ere, of all places!"
He laughed again, echoing Aldo's good-humoured disbelief. The Italian boy stared at him aghast.
"God! How much did they take?"
"'Bout eight hundred, I reckon," Rayne shrugged helplessly. "Hope you've got enough left for dinner or we'll have to head back."
Privately he considered that it would be less worrying if they got out of Agde ASAP, but Aldo was hungry and not yet broke so they wound up in a pavement café by the river where the handsome Italian tried to tempt him with local specialities and Rayne concentrated on his maintaining his disguise. It had been successful thus far and their sweet young waitress seemed quite amused by his insistence that he was Aldo's fiancée and they had just got engaged. Aldo himself seemed less enthusiastic.
"What are you up to?" the Italian asked in an undertone once they had been left to study the menu. "You are in such a peculiar mood today."
"What's wrong with my mood? You've been giving me grief since you got here 'cause I don't chill out enough for your liking, so I'm chilling, okay! Don't I look pretty enough for you?" Rayne pursed his lips and lifted his shades briefly to flutter his eyelashes.
Aldo sat back with a sigh and a reluctant little smile.
"Yeah, you look incredibly pretty," he conceded. "You also look like a drag queen!"
"What's wrong with that?" Rayne asked innocently.
"Nothing... except I 'know' you are not a drag queen," Aldo sighed.
"You never saw me with clothes on until the other day in Beziers," Rayne teased. "How d'you know I'm not a drag queen?"
"Believe me, I have known Queens and you are not one," Aldo assured him, pretending to study the menu. "What do you want to eat?"
"I'll have some fries," Rayne said airily, waving the menu around.
"With something else?" Aldo enquired curiously.
"No... just fries, I'm not that hungry," the boy murmured with a shake of his head that dislodged his scarf. He busied himself adjusting it while Aldo studied him contemplatively.
"You should eat better," he remarked once Rayne was paying attention again. "Have you ever tried Moules Mariniere?"
"I've no idea what you're talking about, let alone put it in my mouth, darlin'," Rayne exhaled loftily.
"It is a speciality here," Aldo explained in a patient tone. "Fresh mussels in garlic and white wine. Very tasty and good for you."
Rayne pulled a face. He shook his head at once.
"I don't eat stuff that moves about!"
"It's dead, it won't move about," Aldo promised him.
"I told you the other night. I don't eat dead stuff, okay. I don't eat cows, or sheep or horses or any of the barbarian stuff they cook out here. I don't eat fish, or snails, or anything that crawls, okay!" He turned away at once, looking suddenly quite pale.
"What about an omelette then?" Aldo persisted, perplexed by his refusal to even try anything new. He had never understood vegetarianism and supposed that anyone from his rural, agricultural background, no matter how far removed they were, probably felt the same.
"No." Rayne looked back at him through the huge sunglasses, shaking his head. "You have one if you like, but I don't want any."
"An omelette is not dead," Aldo pointed out.
"Yeah and it's made out of eggs and eggs come out of chickens' arses, and I... I really don't wanna think about it, okay?" Rayne chewed on his lower lip and looked away again, visibly uncomfortable by now.
The waitress came with a large bottle of mineral water, a glass of red wine for Aldo and a vodka and tonic for his young companion, which Rayne drank down in one draught before the waitress had time to pick up her tray. He asked for another right away. Smiling apologetically, Aldo nodded and ordered a mushroom omelette and two side orders of fries, one with mayonnaise.
"I can't believe that you won't even eat eggs," he said once the girl had gone again. "How do you stay alive?"
Rayne shrugged his slender shoulders evasively and cast another wistful glance across the river as though he wished he could escape there.
"I eat all sorts of stuff... toast, breakfast cereal. Cheerios are good. There's lots of minerals and stuff in breakfast cereal," he explained. "Keeps you going. I don't like eating really early, or late in the day, it just sits on my stomach and I feel ill."
"Is that because of the drugs?" Aldo wanted to know?
Rayne turned back slowly, pushing up the sunglasses onto the top of his head. The green scarf framed his little, heart-shaped face perfectly and set off his incredible pale, peridot coloured eyes. For a moment neither man spoke, they just stared at one another. Aldo decided that, made up like this, Rayne was almost girlishly pretty and definitely not in a drag queen kind of way. The colours he had used were subtle and well blended. He was used to applying makeup and well aware of what looked good on him. Aldo's gaze was drawn to his shimmering lips and he felt a sudden, overwhelming desire to kiss them.
"They... it doesn't make any difference," Rayne said at last, in a small voice. "The food doesn't taste of much. That's all."
"I know you think that no one understands, but you would be wrong," Aldo told him quietly. "When I first left home, I didn't know what I was going to do. I went to Naples thinking I could be a model, maybe a fashion designer and I got in with a bad crowd of people. I was doing coke for quite a while, working for a guy who was a dealer. I was his, how do you say it... his runner?"
Rayne nodded solemnly.
"Yeah, there's dealers in the East End that use little kids to run their gear you know," he volunteered now. "No wonder some of 'em are hooked on Junk by the time they leave school."
"Is that what happened to you?" Aldo enquired, sensing an opening.
Rayne shook his head, but he did not elaborate.
"I had quite a habit," Aldo confessed now in a softer voice. "It was embarrassing. I could not go home, I was openly homosexual and I did not know how to tell my Catholic parents or my brothers. I stayed with this man and he sold me to men who took my picture and also gave me cocaine. Then I met Arturo, through one of his contacts. Artie took me to New York. He promised me a modelling and acting career and he also helped me to stop taking coke. I know now how stupid it was. How much it changed me as a person."
The waitress returned with Rayne's drink and he beamed at her gratefully, but took his time with this one, sipping it cautiously.
"I'm not addicted," he said levelly, once she was out of earshot. "You don't have to rescue me from anything. I never ate much when I was a kid either."
"No wonder you are so thin," Aldo said, sympathetically.
"I told you, I've no sense of taste," the younger man countered defiantly, shaking his head. "It happens. Lots of people have the same problem."
"You've never been able to enjoy food?" Aldo was quite appalled at that. In his family, good food was up there with religion. Although he was no waif, compared to his brothers and his father he was a lightweight.
"Did Arturo want to fuck you?" Rayne asked, without answering the question. It was a clear attempt at evasion but the older man did not pull him up on it. He made a mental note to pursue the matter later.
"At first," he admitted sheepishly, instead. "And I was very young, I did not know any better than to let him. But he only really likes very young men so now he is not so interested. We are more like, ah, business partners. You understand?"
"Yeah, right." Rayne managed a lazy smile. "So do you live in New York most of the time now?"
"Quite often," Aldo nodded. "I have an apartment there, and I rent a condo up in Frisco when I spend time there. PJ has his studios there so I work in California for a lot of the time."
"San Francisco?" Rayne asked, suddenly interested.
Aldo nodded his head. The waitress brought out three plates and bade them 'Bon Apetite' and at once the Italian tucked into his huge omelette, seduced at once by the delicious aroma. Rayne watched him eat, nibbling on a French fry he had dipped in a little mound of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. He nipped at it for about two thirds of its length then put it down and picked another, dipping and taking small bites as they talked.
"What's it like? San Francisco?"
"Fantastic," Aldo said enthusiastically. "You're going to come to the States with us, yeah? I can show you. It's the most fabulous place to be gay."
Rayne shrugged but said nothing. He put down an inch of his fry and took another, methodically stirring it in the oil and salt before he bit into it. Again he ate all but an inch then put the last piece down and took a good swig of his vodka.
"I'm not gay," he said at last. "I like girls, Aldo. A lot!"
"But you like men as well," the Italian pointed out amiably. "You liked me and Clay well enough the other day. And Paddy too from what I heard!"
He was grinning knowingly now and Rayne fired a look at him that was part embarrassed part appalled.
"Fuck! You said that no one knew what he did to me!"
"Is it so bad?" Aldo asked him sympathetically. "He's a good man, Rayne. You could do worse than be with him."
"I'm not 'with him' though, am I?" Rayne shook his head irritably then turned his face away, staring at the river and the passing boats in determined silence. From time to time he snared a potato chip from his plate without looking at it and bit the head off it as if it had done him a personal injustice.
Aldo was looking at him quizzically, his fork half raised to his mouth.
"Can I ask a question?" he ventured at last.
"Go on." Rayne looked back at him warily as if he had rather hoped that by ignoring the Italian he would make the entire conversation go away.
"Why don't you eat the 'whole' French fry?"
Rayne blinked at him then lowered his eyes to his plate. Apparently he had not even realised what he was doing. The discarded remains of his eviscerated chips were lying on the edge of the dish, challenging him to argue. For a moment he bit his lower lip again, thinking it over, during which time Aldo realised with a jolt that he did not actually know the reason why he did it. It was just another curious compulsion.
"I mean..." Aldo said casually, when Rayne did not answer him. "If you ate three whole ones, it would only be the same as eating half of six. Why not eat the whole thing?"
Those green eyes flickered upward to meet his expectant gaze, suddenly wary again.
"You already know I'm a freak. What's the problem?" Rayne fired back at him defensively.
"I don't think you're a freak," Aldo corrected him quickly.
"All right, I've got 'issues'..." The last word dripped with sarcasm.
"Issues that mean you can't eat a whole French fry?" Aldo laughed, in spite of the situation. "Why is that, Rayne? You gonna die if you eat a whole one?"
He watched Rayne bristle for a moment then the English boy dropped his guard and forced a sardonic laugh. Those startled green eyes looked away across the river again, full of a strange, internalised pain that he could not give voice to. He leaned on the railing by their table and watched things that Aldo could not see.
"Yeah!" he laughed distractedly at last. "That's right!"
Aldo wanted to pick him up in that instant and hold him. He wondered helplessly what had been done to the young Englishman to make him so brittle and frightened of his own emotions. The fear coiled around him like smoke right now. Rayne was moments away from running like a spooked horse. Aldo wished with all his heart that there was something he could do to drive back that terror and mistrust and wondered silently if that was how Antoine had felt when he first rescued the boy. He decided that he would have to find some way of asking the older man when they got back to the boat. Now his gaze moved to Rayne's hands and arms. The green shirt had loose sleeves but they were rolled down, covering his slim wrists completely. It made no difference, Aldo had already seen the cigarette burns and the fine white razor blade scars across the backs of his forearms. He wondered what kind of void existed in Rayne's young life to make him hurt himself like that. There were track marks too, the damaged veins that made Leland so mistrustful of Rayne Wilde. Was the heroin use just another form of self-punishment?
"It's because you've touched the other end, yeah?" Aldo speculated quietly. He saw Rayne's expression focus abruptly. The pupils of his green eyes widened and grew more fixed but the boy did not look at him. "You've... fouled it, somehow, so you can't eat it? Am I right?"
Rayne took a slow breath, then another. He did not meet Aldo's eyes but his hand pulled the plate over to the railing and methodically, one by one, he threw the offending pieces of potato fry over the barrier, into the water below. At once a teeming shoal of fish rose to the surface and fought over the pieces ravenously.
"Now look what you've done," Rayne said solemnly when the last piece had been cast away and devoured. "All those poor fish are gonna die."
His gaze moved back to Aldo's face at last. There was something vulnerable but also not quite sane behind his eyes. Aldo held up his hands in surrender.
"You've got me. I'm a piscopath!"
Rayne blinked at him once, very slowly. His expression was utterly unreadable. Both hands moved to his mouth at once and he bent his head, shoulders quivering unsteadily. Those trembling fingers crept over his eyes and Aldo was on his feet instantly, moving to his side. He had not meant to make Rayne cry; had not even understood what it was that he had said to affect him so.
"Are you okay?" he whispered solicitously.
His companion held up a hand and made a little, strangling noise and it was only then that Aldo realised, to his relief, that the boy was actually stifling a fit of giggles. He put his arms around Rayne at once and held him close, pulling off the scarf and burying his face in the softness of his hair. Rayne's skin smelled incredible, very hot and raw and physical, like the aftermath of good, rough sex. Aldo was conscious of the seductive mix of pheromones rising from his quivering body. It gave him a furious hard on and he was glad of the loose fit of his trousers.
"Piss.... Piss... Jesus! Piscopath! What the fuck are you on?" Rayne was chuckling in his ear now, his breath hot and tormenting. "You are completely cracked!"
"Cracked?" Aldo whispered against the downy softness of his earlobe. He kissed Rayne's neck, unable to help himself.
"Barmy, barking, mad, nuts, insane!"
"Yeah," Aldo conceded. His lips trailed across Rayne's cheek to his mouth and suddenly he felt the electricity shift between them. It was like someone had thrown a switch. He and Rayne were instantly joined at the lips and all points down, kissing like both their lives depended on the other man's breath. His arms moved around Rayne, holding him and stroking him as the boy writhed into his embrace, his lithe body crawling over Aldo like Russian Vine.
The Italian fumbled in his pocket for money to cover the bill and left it on the table. He knew that he had to get Rayne away from here and find a quiet spot within the next few minutes. Those wide green eyes were looking up at him, the pupils huge and dark for the first time today. His lips were moist and slightly parted, a silent question poised upon them.
"Come on," Aldo said imperiously, taking his hand and towing him to his feet. He dragged Rayne through the maze of winding streets in the old town until they found themselves tumbling, giggling and breathless, through an iron gateway into a small, dark, ivy-festooned courtyard well off the main road.
Aldo slammed his mate up against the stone wall, out of sight of any potential passers-by and plunged his tongue back into the younger man's hot, wet mouth. He felt slim, pale arms snake up around his neck and the smaller, slighter youth rubbed up against him in the shadows, lips working hungrily against his own. With a shaking hand, Aldo unzipped his pants and released his aching cock, rubbing the hot sticky head urgently against his lover's bare stomach beneath the green voile shirt.