Siri yanked his hair, cursing fluidly as it hissed at him in protest. “Shut up,” he muttered, knocking a particularly angry snake on the head, dazing it just long enough to pull it back with the rest, tieing them all with leather that his sister swore up and done would keep them back.
He gave the snakes an hour, tops, before they were writing about all over the place.
With the snakes at least temporarily subdued, he finished getting dressed – jeans, black t-shirt (because his sister had accidentally bleached the dark blue one, which was why she was handing over the leather for the snakes), good shoes.
No cologne, because every time he tried it, the snakes acted funny and they were already smart-ass enough as it was.
He checked himself in the mirror, heaving a sigh. White skin, snakes that were green and black and gray, green eyes, looked kinda scary. His sister called him cute, but she was his sister so it didn’t count.
Sighing, he turned away from the mirrior and snatched up his wallet and keys, then grabbed up his sunglasses last of all. He had the protective contacts in, but better safe than sorry. The less chance people had of looking him in the eyes, the better. Sliding the mirrored sunglasses into place, he abandoned the relative safety of his room and tomped down the stairs.
“Going out, back whenever,” he called, and kept on going, not waiting to see what his parents would say — if anything at all. He was a college sophomore now, he was allowed to go out when he pleased, right?
His mother appeared on the porch as he was pulling out of the drive, and Siri cranked up his music so he couldn’t hear her bellow.
It was an old highschool method, but if it ain’t broke…
He started to have second, third, and fourth thoughts as he pulled into the drive of his old friend Freddy’s house. Why he was coming to this party, he didn’t know.
Oh, screw that. He knew why, all right. Hal was back from abroad, that was the whole damn reason for the party — the whole damn reason Siri was here. He wanted to see Hal.
Because a man who was half gorgon didn’t have enough problems and woes, he had to add ‘long-term unrequited crush’ to the mix.
Resting his forehead on the steering wheel, he counted to ten, thwacked a disobedient snake, then finally made himself get out of the car and stroll around to the backyard.
To find a glaring lack of party.
Come to think of it, there should have been more cars. He should have heard music long before he even reached the house. Freddy was always getting the cops called for that, though the cops would never actualy attmept to do anything to one of the most prestigous families in the city — especially as said family was full-blooded gargoyle.
Instead of a party, he found nothing more than the poolside table set for two, with a spread that reminded him suddenly he’d been too nervous and unhappy to eat since lunch yesterday.
What in the hell…oh, god, had he gotten the day wrong?
He grabbed for his cellphone, and slid it open, pulling up his calender to check…
No, right day. Unless Freddy had told him wrong, or he’d misread the email…or misheard the phone conversation? Unlikely. So Freddy had fucked up.
The door opened, and he jerked his head up to start apologizing profusely for randomly standing around in the yard — but the words died forgotten on his lips.
Damn, Hal looked even better than he had when he’d left three years ago. Studying hs family history in Europe had worked well for him. The coal-dark skin, the red eyes, the dark hair, the wings – man he’d always loved Hal’s wings.
He could stare all day.
And realized abruptly that he was. Cursing, Siri jerked his gaze away. “Um. Sorry. Is Freddy around?”
“No,” Hal said, voice dry. “I wondered why vanished so abruptly about ten minutes ago. I think I’m beginning to figure out why.”
“Do I want to know?” Siri asked, sensing the answer was a definitive ‘no.’
Hal set down the pitcher of juice he’d been holding. “Probably not.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” Siri said. “He said your folks were throwing a party for your return.”
“Did he?” Hal asked. He rolled his eyes and stretched, wings fanning out briefly.
Siri realized he was staring again. Honestly, did gargoyles have to go around barechested so often? Was it so hard to put on a damn shirt?
“My parents are in California,” Hal said. “They’re gone for the weekend, meeting up with some vampire buddies of theirs to ‘relive their youth for a bit’. I didn’t ask for details.” He shuddered. “Freddy took off like a prisoner on a jailbreak. Which, I suppose, wasn’t too far from the truth. He’s obviously causing trouble. Have a seat.”
Too unsettled to disobey, Siri obediently sat. “How was Europe?”
“I liked it alot,” Hal said, sitting down and pouring them both some juice, “but I’m glad to be home. You’ve got a loose one.” He pointed to a snake which had crept surreptiously forward to investigate the contents of the table.
Siri thwacked it hard, then shoved it back over his shoulder. “Sorry.”
“S’fine,” Hal said. “I kept asking Freddy, when we talked, if you’d finally hacked them off yet.”
Hal had talked about him? While he was in Europe? Why?
He shrugged, trying (and probably failing) for indifferent. “Knowing my luck, they’d just grow back trebled in number.”
“That would be a lot of snakes,” Hal said with a laugh. “Are you going to take off the shades? It’s like talking to someone out of a bad sci-fi movie.”
Siri rolled his eyes, but took off the shades. “I am a bad sci-fi movie. Well, maybe bad fantasy.”
“Nah, I think a relatively modern setting means it’s more sci-fi than fantasy,” Hal said, then shrugged. “But, who knows. I like westerns.”
“I’m sure the wild west could have used a stone sheriff.”
Hal laughed. “Maybe. Too hot. I’ll stick to the books.”
Siri smiled, but could think of nothing else to say that wouldn’t make him sound tend different kinds of stupid. He settled for knocking another snack unconscious, then scowled as yet another tried to sneak forward. “Stupid hair,” he muttered.
“They’re cute,” Hal said “It’s gotta be equal parts weird and cool to have hair like that.”
“I guess,” Siri said, but smiled faintly when a snake nuzzled his cheek in apology for all its recalcitrant brothers. “They’re okay.”
Hal just smiled at him.
It made Siri’s heartbeat kick up another notch, but his stupid tongue wouldn’t form words.
He flinched at the sound of a window being slammed open.
“Jeez, aren’t you two making out yet?” Freddy demanded. “I swear to god, you’re both dense as rock.”
“Fuck you!” Hal called. “When I need a matchmaker, asshole, I’ll go hire one more competentn than you.”
Freddy gave him the finger. “I got you in the same place and holding a conversation, instead of just each of you asking me about the other until I wanted to kill myself. I should be getting paid.”
Siri wondered if anyone would notice if he went and drowned himself in the pool. He looked at it longingly while the brothers continued to bicker.
Then the window slammed shut, jerking him from his thoughts.
“I’m sorry about him,” Hal said slowly.
Siri forced himself to look away from the pool, but did not completely discard death by water. “Um. I’m used to him. What’s going on?”
Hal looked at him in gentle amusement. “I am going to hazard that I should not have felt guilty about wanting my brother’s best friend all these years.”
“Oh,” Siri said faintly. He’d thought that was sort of what was going on. “You never seemed to notice…” He struggled for something less pathetic sounding than simply ‘me.’ “My, uh, bouts of prolonged staring.” Oh, yeah, that was so much better. Time to hit the water.
He’s always wondered what gargoyles were doing with a pool.
“Would you like to go somewhere?” Hal asked, smiling sheepishly now. “Somewhere far away from Freddy, before he takes matters into his own hands again?”
Siri nodded, grabbing up his sunglasses before he could think too much and convince himself it was stupid or too good to be true or something equally depressing and annoying.
The snakes hissed in speculation as he walked alongside Hal, several poking at him inquisitively while others simply hung back and watched.
He realized abruptly he’d lost the damn tie keeping them in place.
“Stupid snakes,” he muttered absently, sliding his glasses in place.
Hal reached up to pet one, and Siri felt it like a weird, distant sort of tingle. “They’re cute,” he repeated, smiling in a way that made Siri tingle very up close and personal. “Where should we go? My car or yours?”
“Yours,” Hal said. “Mine’s in the shop. And the movies. Freddy hates the movies.”
“Movies it is,” Siri said, and pulled out of the driveway, batting his snakes away as they kept trying to touch Hal with entirely too much audacity. They were always getting ahead of the game, damned hair.
But, then again, Hal kept touching them too. He supposed he could deal.