Mikael's entire body was sore. It was late, and he had had a busy day. Modeling was hard, and from the crack of dawn when he rolled out of bed and left Zafkiel burrowed under the covers to his evening work-out at the gym he had been on the go all day. He had a shoot that afternoon, and an interview with SummerWinter magazine in the morning. His career was taking off; he was seriously being considered for the new Industrie collection. He was getting more bids for work than he could possibly keep up with.
Money was rolling in, and yet Mikael was still living in a two-bedroom apartment with SEVEN people. He wasn't even sure where they all slept, but he was greeted every morning by the lovely sight of Tzadkael spread out and drooling on his leather sofa and any spare bodies he had to step over between his bedroom and his orange juice. He was saving all his money to buy a nice little house for him and Zafkiel. Maybe even with a picket fence and no renters. Just the two of them.
This dream got him out of bed early in the morning, and brought him home late at night.
Even though he was sore, he took the stairs. He looked for any extra exercise that he could squeeze into his day. He pulled the keys out of his messenger bag and let himself into his apartment.
"PERFECT! Boys, our fourth person has arrived!" Tzadkael greeted him.
Mikael stopped just inside the door and let his bag fall to the floor with a thud. His lips curled into a silent snarl. Tzadkael and Gavrael were sitting at the kitchen table, Hanael looking calm between them. A deck of cards was spread out, and Tzadkael gathered them together and began to shuffle.
"Have a seat Gorgeous, we need four for poker," he said.
Mikael looked around the apartment. His eyes fell on the balcony; he could always throw himself over it if he needed a quick escape. "Where is Zafkiel?"
"All the girls went shopping," Gavrael explained. His ran his fingers through his dark hair and gave Mikael a challenging look.
"The mall closes at nine, so they should be back soon," Hanael offered peaceably. He was the pacifist of the group, and the only one Mikael could honestly stand. Hanael conducted himself with such a refined air and genuine kindness that he was hard not to like. Mikael found himself curious about the scars on Hanael's face and arm, but there was an undercurrent of danger about the man that prevented him from asking.
Mikael looked at the men gathered around the table, and he hated their very presence. Tzadkael alternately tried to either anger him or get into his pants. Mikael likened Gavrael to an alpha male without territory, living under the scrutiny of another alpha male. (And Mikael was, without a doubt, THE alpha male of the house. He made sure to keep it that way.) Gavrael didn't like him because he wouldn't let him be in control, Tzadkael didn't like him because he wouldn't put out.
"Pull up a chair," Tzadkael offered him a beautific smile. One thing could be said about Tzadkael, he had model looks that even rivaled Mikael's. Mikael knew he could probably make it as a model, and he reminded him of a lot of the guys that he worked with. Mikael also knew that he didn't have any model friends for a reason.
"Why should I?" he challenged, stalking to the fridge and pulling out the gallon of milk.
Tzadkael rolled his unusual-colored eyes. Mikael thought they were probably contacts; nobody was ever born with pink eyes unless they were an albino or something. "Because we need four to play poker, of course."
"I don't want to play," Mikael said, drinking straight from the jug.
"Dude, we all drink that," Gavrael pointed out.
"Then don't drink my milk," Mikael replied. He was hungry, and that was the only reason why he stayed in the other men's presence. He rooted around in the empty fridge, trying to find something edible.
"We ordered pizza," Hanael told him.
"But you can't have any if you don't play," Tzadkael added.
Normally Mikael would have rather starved than give in, but he was just too tired to fight today. He was sick of the posturing, the hostility, and tripping over random bodies on his way to the restroom in the middle of the night. One time he even found Rafariel curled up in the bath tub with a blanket and a pillow. Mikael was tired, sore, and hungry. Before he knew it his pliant body sank into the empty chair.
Tzadkael stared at him like he couldn't believe he actually sat down. Mikael grabbed the cards from him. "If I'm going to play, I deal."
Gavrael rolled his eyes. Hanael smiled to himself.
Mikael shuffled the deck and started to deal out cards when the doorbell rang. Gavrael rose to pay for the pizza, and Tzadkael pulled the Jack Daniels out of the fridge.
Mikael could feel the headache coming on already.
Zafkiel took the steps two at a time, his shopping bags banging against his legs as he ran. Mikael had gotten him into the habit of taking the stairs, but Raziel and Rafariel were lagging behind him.
"Wait up," Raziel whined. Their apartment was on the fourth floor, and he was used to taking the elevator. "These bags are heavy!"
Zafkiel stopped and turned around. "Hurry up; I want to show Mikael what I bought him!"
Raziel turned back to Rafariel. "You doing okay?"
"Yeah," the normally shy boy replied. His boots had heels, so he was having extra trouble with the stairs. Raziel reached out and took his shopping bag. "You don't have to---"
"Don't worry about it," Raziel threw it over his shoulder as he continued up to where Zafkiel was waiting, shifting impatiently from foot to foot.
The three of them finally reached the fourth floor and Zafkiel got out his keys. He suddenly turned to the others. "Do you guys think that Tzadkael will be upset that we didn't get him anything?"
Raziel blinked at him, then ruffled his blue hair. "We didn't get him anything because none of us are dating him."
"Nobody is dating Hanael but Rafariel still picked him up something," Zafkiel pointed out.
Rafariel blushed but said nothing.
Raziel got out his own keys and opened the door. "There's no use worrying about something like that..." his voice trailed off as he entered the room.
"What is it?" Zafkiel asked and entered behind him. Rafariel peeked around both of them into the room.
The three of them stood speechless at the chaos around them. The kitchen table had been overturned and cards were scattered over the tile floor. An empty pizza box had made its way into the living room, upside down on the carpet. Mikael was spread out on the floor with his red hair strewn across his face. His black oxford shirt was unbuttoned, revealing a pale, muscled abdomen. Gavrael had conked out on the couch, and Tzadkael had seemed to pass out on top of him. Tzadkael's head rested against Gavrael's shoulder, and if Zafkiel and the others didn't know better they could have sworn that the two actually liked each other for a moment.
"What in the world happened here?" Zafkiel squeaked.
Raziel picked up the bottle of Jack wedged between the cushions of the couch. "I think we know..."
The sliding glass door to the balcony opened, and Hanael stood in the doorway. He leaned his weight heavily against the doorjamb, and his blind eye looked red around the rims. His hair had fallen out of his ponytail, but he was obviously less inebriated than the others. "Welcome back."
Raziel shook the empty bottle at him. "What happened?"
"Poker," Hanael said matter-of-factly, as if that explained everything.
"And?" Zafkiel pressed.
"Pizza and hard liquor? Then we played a couple hands. Then we couldn't see the numbers on the cards, because we kept drinking. Then Tzadkael groped Mikael, and badness happened."
"He groped him?" Zafkiel asked, clearly flabbergasted.
"It was under the table, so I couldn't see. I just saw Mikael leap up and smack him. Then the table got overturned somehow. I sat on the counter while the three of them fought. I still don't know why Gavrael got into it...it's kind of blurry."
Raziel prompted him. "Anything else?"
"They just kind of rolled around, ended up in the living room. I think Mikael was heading for the balcony before Gavrael tackled him..." Hanael slid down the wall until he was sitting. "I think I went out on the balcony to make sure no one fell off."
Rafariel was the first to step forward. He went over to Hanael and helped the older man up. "What should we do?" he asked, supporting the bigger man.
Raziel took control of the situation. "You and Hanael can have my and Gavrael's bedroom for tonight. Zafkiel, you wake up Mikael and try to get him in your bedroom. I'll take care of these two."
"But your bedroom only has one bed!" Rafariel pointed out.
"We'll be fine," Hanael slurred. "I'll sleep on the floor if you're uncomfortable."
"No, it isn't that..." Rafariel looked to Raziel for some help, but the other boy only grinned.
Not seeing much else to do, a blushing Rafariel led Hanael down the hall.
Zafkiel went over to Mikael and prodded him with his boot. "Honey? You alive?"
Mikael moaned and tried to turn over, only to run into Zafkiel's legs. Zafkiel bent down and shook him, trying to rouse him. "Come on, let's put you to bed."
Mikael blinked awake, his eyes unfocused and bleary.
"You need to get up so we can get to bed," Zafkiel prompted. Mikael sat up slowly and leaned against his legs.
"'m glad you're home..."
Zafkiel put his hands under Mikael's arms and dragged him down the hall. He was limp and unresisting, and Raziel wished that he had a camera. This would be something that proud Mikael would never be able to live down if Gavrael or Tzadkael had been awake to see it.
Raziel went over to the couch and grabbed Tzadkael's arm and lifted him off of Gavrael. He sat down between them and rested his head against Gavrael's shoulder, cuddling up to his lover. A moment later Tzadkael flopped over into his lap, but Raziel really didn't care.
Mikael's alarm clock went off and he immediately felt the splitting headache. He sat up and turned the alarm off, pushing his long red hair out of his face. He was still wearing the same pants from yesterday, but his shirt was lying on the floor.
He got up and tucked Zafkiel back in. He crept through the apartment, careful not to turn on any lights to make his headache worse. On his way to the kitchen, he stopped and noticed the three men on the couch - Gavrael, Raziel, and Tzadkael were all passed out, leaning against each other.
In the kitchen he found the overturned table, and he stared at it dumbly. He stepped over it to get to the coffee pot and turn it on. He leaned against the counter and stared at the cards on the floor, the overturned table, the pizza box in the living room, and the empty bottle of Jack Daniels on the coffee table. The door to the balcony was open, and cold air was filling the apartment.
Mikael crawled over the table, shut the balcony door, and then went back to bed. To hell with the coffee and to hell with whatever he had to do that day, he was calling in sick when he woke up again. Zafkiel cuddled up to him immediately, pressing his sleeping naked body against him, and Mikael blessedly lost consciousness again.