Going Goth

Cath UK

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1. Paeyl on Perks and Raevyn

Perks. God knows what her real name is, and I have to admit I really don’t care. If I had to sum up her annoying attitude in one word, it would have to be “woo-hoo!”

Frankly, I think it’s disgraceful. It’s people like her who make a complete mockery of the whole Goth scene. I’ve always thought the whole purpose of being Goth was to unashamedly focus on the dark recesses of the human psyche. Put the back of your hand on your forehead, and you're there: dark sensuality, sweeping sadness, forbidden love, the beauty of enduring pain. I get it - I really do. Witnesses to horror and victims of tragedy; you know who these people are. It’s their inner Darkness that makes them beautiful. With Perks, you get the idea that she’s not quite there. She acts like the whole Goth scene is really superficial and pretentious, and it all just takes itself too seriously. Like that’s even possible.

Take her clothes. I mean, sure she likes black, and wears loads of it. That’s sort of a basic requirement, to immerse yourself in the velvet sensuality of Darkness from the outside in. It's such a straightforward sort of colour. I never squint at a black T-shirt, wondering if it goes with my black jeans. I never have to get up in the morning, thinking, "Gee, I wonder what colour I'll wear today." And black goes with anything. As long as the anything is black. But Perks, she wears a different kind of black. She looks like a refugee from the set of Beetlejuice. She’ll wear frilly black tutus, or this one time, she went to class wearing a Halloween witch’s costume with pentagrams or whatever scribbled on her cheeks. For a laugh. To make the others laugh. It was like she couldn’t see they were laughing at her, the silly cow. I wanted to shake her and make her realize that life is not fun. Many people lead unhappy, unachieved lives. And that's sad. Goth makes depression and angst a lifestyle choice, and that's art. That’s Goth.

You can’t be perky and be a Goth; it just doesn’t mesh. But maybe I’m not being totally honest here. I mean, she is a twat, but I guess maybe I wouldn’t despise Perks if it weren’t for Raevyn. She fancies him; it’s like sap oozing out of her eyes every time she claps them on him, that little baby bat-wannabe. Ordinarily, I really wouldn’t care, because half the girls in school are dying to get into Raevyn’s pants. But with Perks, it’s different. I can tell he likes her back. Bastard.

But I love him, as much as I can with all the other things in life that are weighing me down. My family don’t understand me. Even my little sister calls me “freakboy,” but she did that even before I went over to the Dark Side, so I guess maybe it’s not just the whole Goth thing. Also, I’m not out to my family. I mean, if they don’t understand about my embracing Darkness, how can they possibly understand that I’m in love with another bloke? You just can’t be a gay Goth in Edinburgh. Just not done.

Pity though; they’d love Raevyn. He’s fantastic. Perks says the only reason why I date him is because that’s as close as I’ll ever get to being him, but Perks talks rubbish. Last time I checked, she knew absolutely nothing about anything. Raevyn is just a beautiful person and sexy as hell. He really understands me. And one time, we were both in a bar and I was smoking cloves (which I’ve acquired a taste for, especially since for some reason they always make Raevyn sneeze), and he looked at me, cool as ice and his eyes practically burning holes through mine, and said,

“I think our capacity for love is far greater than our mortal coils can bear.”

I thought that was beautiful. That one statement completely encapsulated the nature of our love. That he could come up with stuff like that, it just blew me away. Raevyn and I were meant to be together. I just wish Perks could get that through her thick wannabe skull.

2. Perks on Raevyn and Paeyl

Raevyn is a total dream. He’s my fantasy man. I fancy the pants of him, I do! He’s... gorgeous. Right up my stream. His skin is so pale that it’s almost translucent. His deep, deep eyes are the colour of onyx, and shine just as brightly. His hair is down to his shoulders and it just cascades there like black rapids. It makes me want to run my fingers through it and touch it, to feel it flow against my palms like cool silk.

Some say that Goths are all about death, pretension, angst and nothing else. I guess, to a degree, some of them are. Sometimes, I feel like Raevyn is, but never for long. There’s a lot going on underneath that ocean-calm exterior; you can just tell that there’s an inner depth to him that can be tapped if you can just figure out the right way to do it. It’s in his eyes, his beautiful dark eyes - with eyes like that, how can he be anything less than perfect?

Okay, so maybe I’m going a bit overboard. He’s not exactly perfect. In fact, he can be a bit of an indecisive sheep, which makes me want to grab him and shake him, but let’s not go too far down that path. Just because I’m Goth, it doesn’t mean I love to wallow in misery. I just think Raevyn acts like a wanker sometimes, and it’s probably because of that geek Paeyl. Raevyn takes himself pretty seriously. All that Victorian clothing, it’s like he thinks he’s the Vampire Lestat or something. But you’ve got to admit he looks great; half the girls in school are always drooling over him, even if they all think he’s gay and don’t really understand the whole Goth thing. But that’s Raevyn. He’s gorgeous. And it doesn’t hurt that rumours are going around about his prowess between the sheets, either.

Paeyl is such a freak. I mean, we’re all freaks, but he’s a freak among freaks, if you know what I mean. It’s a spectacular thing to witness the metamorphosis of a person. To see them evolve year after year from timid, uncertain youth into an I’ve got it together being who believes they exude confidence because they’ve forgotten where they came from and yet think they know where they’re going. It’s tragic, really. Now Paeyl, you can tell just by looking at him that he spent his whole life being a computer geek before he went Goth, because at least when you’re Goth, it’s socially acceptable to be different and freaky. And that’s the only reason why he ever went along with it, so people would stop beating him up for being a freak. Now, he’s not a wimpy freak, he’s a scary one, and he thinks that’s better. And then, somewhere along the line, he forgot he was just a poser and started actually believing his own bullshit. I mean, seriously, I think he should change his name from Paeyl to Praetenxious or something.

Paeyl really hates me because I think Goth is about celebrating your darker side, and that the whole death and depression thing is just plain naff. The git even asked me once if I was bipolar or something! I told him, “It’s all about celebrating Darkness, get it?” Paeyl’s problem is that he’s depressed because he thinks that’s what’s expected. He’s the kind of person who would decide he’s into coffins and drinking blood if that became the fashion in Edinburgh; he’s that much of a disciple. I’m not - I make my own rules. I don’t let anyone define who I am: I am me. And if you don’t like it, then you can just fuck off.

I think Paeyl just hates me because I think he’s a pretentious wanker and he knows I’m right. He’s scared that I’ll let the rest of the world know. Like I don’t have better things to do with my time! Shame he’s such a tosser though, because he is pretty cute. Not as handsome as Raevyn of course, but he’s got what I’d call “sealy” good looks. He’s got mischievous shiny brown eyes and silky sleek black hair, with sweet innocent features that make him appealing in his own way. He’s cute in the way a baby seal is cute. Does that make sense? If he were anyone else, he’s the type of guy you’d just want to lean over and hug. He’s cute, but he’s a wanker, and he hates me.

Ah, but do I care? Do I, now? I think you can easily guess the answer to that one.

3. Raevyn, on about himself

Some people think I’m a narcissist. I guess I can understand why they’d think that. I’m a decent looking bloke. One girlfriend I had told me I look a bit like wot’s-his-name out of The Crow, only nicer. And I like to look at myself in the mirror when I go out dancing with my friends. It helps me to focus on my inner depths, to blank out the world around me so I can be more a part of it. If you can follow that.

Paeyl thinks it’s cool that I’ll never ever wear anything but black (seriously, one time, I wore a white T-shirt underneath my coat and he called me a “deserter”!) and that I’ve always got eyeliner on. Sometimes, I think it’s more disaster then enhancer, because my allergies can make my eyes run and then that kind of messes up the designs I draw at the edges. Why is every single one of my friends hooked on those bloody clove fags? They make me sneeze like you wouldn’t believe. It bugs me, but never mind that. The point is, I love the ‘vampire’ look. If you’ve read anything by Anne Rice, and we’re not talking that Sleeping Beauty shit she wrote under that piss-poor penname, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. Definitely cool.

But getting back to Paeyl. My boyfriend, yeah, though I can’t say honestly that it’s luuuurve. He can be a bit full of himself sometimes, a bit of a twat some might say, but that’s just because they don’t get him. The lad’s got a depth that’s surprising, when you get to know him. He can talk to you for hours about anything dark, and I like that. He’s so smart, he can almost make you forget that he can be a bit insecure. And I like both of those characteristics; it’s his vulnerability that makes him appealing, and his brains that keep him from weighing you down too much. Also, he’s fucking great in bed. Not that has anything to do with my appreciation of him as a person or anything.

Paeyl’s cool. Though I’d have to say one of the things that really does my head in about him is the way he’s always going on about Perks. Because I like Perks a lot. She’s like this cute little bat, and she always makes me laugh. But Paeyl, he can’t seem to understand the way she views life’s Darkness. She’ll say things like “Halloween isn’t until October, you freak,” just for a laugh - because obviously she’s one of us, so it’s not like it’s meant to be nasty or anything - but he’ll just stand there, feeling totally tormented.

Yeah, I guess that’s one thing that does bug me; Paeyl never smiles and always broods. It’s like he thinks being Goth means you can’t have a laugh. But then again, maybe that’s why he hates Perks: they’re polar opposites. She thinks being Goth is all about having a laugh. Laughing at life, laughing at tragedy, laughing at yourself. I respect that.

4. Paeyl on Morticia’s party

That party. That damned party. That’s where it all started. Or began to collapse, depending on your point of view. I didn’t want to go, really, but Raevyn twisted my arm and said it would be cool. It was at Morticia’s, this girl I really don’t like. I mean, just look at her name - how tacky is it? Her real name is Mhairi, but she thinks it doesn’t sound dark enough. Which it doesn’t, but that’s beside the point.

The evening started off well enough, I thought. Some people were reading out some poetry. Really deep stuff, about the sadness of life. One girl, she wrote about an angst so poignant that it felt as if I had something caught in my throat. I reached for Raevyn’s hand, and we just clung to each other while she read. Like I said, it was pretty intense.

Anyway, that was the best part of the evening. After that, people brought out the bottles, a sure sign things were about to go downhill. One girl, I’d swear it was Perks, actually had absinthe. I don’t touch the stuff; it’s dangerous. Me, I’m more of a Guinness lad. Of course, within an hour most people were completely off their heads.

Music was playing, some old eighties stuff, and people were just chilling out on sofas or on the floor, with only candles burning to provide light. People mingling and talking, drinking too much and smoking cloves until the place fairly swam with the sweet, acrid smoke. Raevyn and I were just sat on a couch, making out. I was really getting into it, especially as all the clove smoke was beginning to get to him. I know this is kind of freaky, even for me, but seeing Raevyn sneeze really turns me on. He does it softly, like he’s embarrassed or he thinks it doesn’t go with his image. You can just tell he doesn’t like to sneeze and he tries really hard not to, but he can never quite keep them in. That, I think, is amazingly sexy.

So yeah, we were making out with Raevyn sneezing every so often, and by this point, I was getting turned on. I was hard and everything. Raevyn knew it too, ‘cause he kept touching me there and making things even worse. I was trying to think of a way to get us both out of there so that we could get a little more serious and connect on a deeper level. And that’s when she came along, that bloody Perks.

You could almost hear the saccharine rolling off her tongue when she talked to Raevyn, completely ignoring me. She was obviously completely off her head, not that she had a good one to start.

"Every moment is tragic in its passing,” she said, and I wanted to throttle her because it only took that one sentence for Raevyn to pull away from me and give her his full attention. “Every kiss unique and lost in time.”

It was like she was reciting some ghastly poem. Raevyn loved it. He always goes for that kind of stuff, profound statements about the nature of love, the kind I can never seem to think up fast enough or remember quickly enough. I’d never tell anyone, but sometimes I actually sit down and write some out, just so I’ll have something to say to Raevyn next time he’s in one of his dark romantic moods.

“Yeah,” he answered, and then he laughed. “Only love overcomes the senselessness of existence.”

And then, they both started giggling. Giggling! Like school children! I was sitting there, alone with my hard-on even if Raevyn’s arm was still around me, and suddenly, I just felt like crying. Maybe it was the booze at that point; I’d had a few drinks myself.

They started talking, but I wasn’t following the conversation. All I could seem to focus on was Perks, and the fact that she was as bloody annoying as ever. There I was, having a perfect moment with my boyfriend, and she had to come and spoil it. It was like we weren’t alone in the world anymore: Perks had entered our cosmos and she didn’t look like she wanted to leave anytime soon.

They were chatting, and then Perks lit a clove. Raevyn didn’t say anything, but I could see him looking worried. I try not to smoke them too often because I know what they do to him, and even if I love to see him sneeze, I don’t want him to catch on to that. God no! Everyone knows cloves make Raevyn sneeze, but obviously Perks didn’t care. I figure she did it either because she was being self-centred as usual, or because she was pissed, but it doesn’t matter because Raevyn didn’t say anything when he saw her light up. He just sat there and looked worried.

So she was jabbering away and I was staring at Raevyn’s face. I still had a hard-on, but just looking at him really getting ready to sneeze made me want him even more. We were still holding hands and I could feel his palm going rigid. It was obvious that he wasn’t paying attention to Perks; he was just focused on trying to give the impression he was listening, when all he was noticing was what was going on inside his nose. I could see his eyes going glassy, and the effect was made even more alluring by the liner he wore. He’d been sneezing a bit already that night, like I said, and his eyes were kind of teary, like he was going to cry. Very sexy.

He just sat there, breathing through his mouth, sniffling a bit as quietly as he could. Perks didn’t seem to be paying attention, but I really was. I could tell that more than just one sneeze was on the way; when Raevyn gets like that, his nose just seems to completely take over, which is the most beautiful sight I can possibly imagine. His breathing was shallow and slowly, oh-so-slowly, I could see his eyes beginning to squeeze shut micrometer by micrometer. I’m glad Perks wasn’t looking at me, because I don’t think it was possible not to know what I was thinking at that moment, I was so excited.

And that’s when it happened. Raevyn stood up. He cut Perks right off and he said, in a choked voice that just sent shivers down my spine,

“Sorry, gotta- gotta-... Hiessshhh!”

And then, just like that, he was gone. He pushed past people and ran up the stairs to the bathroom, presumably to go and sneeze his head off where he wouldn’t have to suffer the embarrassment of a roomful of people staring. No one except Perks and I watched him leave, but I could tell she was puzzled. I, on the other hand, was so disappointed and frustrated I felt like I could scream. My boyfriend was about to have a massive sneezing fit and he just up and left.

And so what did Perks do after that? She just sat down next to me.

5. Perks on her conversation with Paeyl

It all started off with some people reading some really bad, cheesy poems about angst or vampires or tragedy. Same old stuff, seriously boring, but what can you do. It comes with the territory. Some of our group don’t just think they’re artists, they think they’re “arteests”, which if you ask me is another way of saying “super pretentious bad artist trying to be an intellectual”. I mean, there’s something to say for taking yourself and life seriously, but then, it’s like they don’t even realize that they’re blowing everything out of proportion. The difference between most Goths and me is that I know I’m being over-dramatic. I do it on purpose, because it amuses me to do so. But most people at the party were the type to go around drinking black coffee, hanging out at graveyards, avoiding sunlight, and only smoking clove cigarettes. And lots of those.

But the cloves, I really don’t mind. They’re seriously fab. Also, they make Raevyn sneeze. That’s what turned me on to them in the first place - anything that makes the man of my dreams sneeze is completely okay by me. And if it’s in my power to make his nose rebel, then by Darkness, you can bet I’m going to go for it!

But let me say something about myself here. I love sneezes. To be more specific, they totally turn me on. I only like blokes sneezing, and I especially like to see Raevyn doing it. It’s the single most erotic thing I could ever imagine. But you want to know something else that’s weird? I’d developed a suspicion that I wasn’t alone with this bizarre quirk. I liked to watch Raevyn regardless of whether he was sneezing or not, and a lot of the time, that meant I was stuck with watching Paeyl too. Not that he’s not easy on the eyes or anything; like I said, I’d probably fancy him too if he wasn’t such an arse. But I’d noticed that Paeyl also watched Raevyn when he was sneezing. Actually, “watched” is probably not the right word here - “devoured with him with his eyes” would be a better way of putting it. I’d have known that look anywhere; it was like Paeyl found it just as much a turn-on to watch Raevyn sneeze as I did. Weird, isn’t it? But at that point in time, it was nothing more than a hunch.

So everyone was at the party, listening to poetry, and I have to admit I was pretty relieved when that part was over. I mean, some of the stuff was cool, but most of it was way overwrought and a bit pants if you ask me. So when that was over and done with, people broke out the bottles and the fun really started. Someone even brought a bottle of absinthe - if I hadn’t know better, I’d have sworn it was Paeyl, but then again that seemed a little bit out of character for him. Needless to say, about thirty minutes later, everyone was completely rat arsed.

I went around doing what I do best: mingling. I know everyone, and I love to introduce people to each other. In my humble opinion, the scene would be way too cliquish if I didn’t do it. So I talked to Morticia for a while, hung out with Lukkas and Ariana, had a clove with Sabriel and Maze (who are both lads, even if it’s hard to believe sometimes because they’re complete queens, get off on sporting badly fastened black sarongs and wear more makeup than should be allowed by law - and I say this as a Goth, which should tell you something). And then, I saw Raevyn sitting on the couch, and I just had to go over.

We started talking, and for some reason, I got this irrepressible urge to see him sneeze. Maybe I was on a high from the party and the booze, who knows? I just really, really wanted to make him sneeze. I wanted him to sneeze, and I wanted to be the one to make it happen. Does that make me twisted? I hope so! The very idea turns me on. So, of course, I decided to go for it. I lit a clove. The look on Paeyl’s face was just so ace; his eyes were shooting daggers and it was brilliant! I don’t know why I love to wind him up so much, really, but I do.

So I was waffling on, I don’t even remember what I was saying, and the whole time, I was watching Raevyn’s expression. I saw his eyes glazing over and he was blinking furiously. His mouth was hanging open and his breathing began to hitch. I, of course, was loving it, loving it, loving it. I knew I was pushing it, but I even blew smoke at him a couple of times. He started to look fairly panicked, and even I was finding it hard to concentrate on what I was saying at that point. I could tell he wasn’t really listening; his nose was twitching and I could see him gulping repeatedly, his sweet little Adam’s apple going up and down, up and down, trying to stave off the sneeze I could just tell was coming. He was frowning and looking worried, sniffling away like that would help matters, until all of a sudden, he just jumped up and cut me off.


I’d never heard him sound quite like that, but his voice made my knees turn to jelly. It was husky and tense, wonderfully throaty until he hit the last syllable, and then it just cracked.

“Sorry, gotta- gotta-... Hiessshhh!”

Fantastic! That sneeze, that perfect, perfect little sneeze. It was this adorable outburst, mid-way between hushed and irrepressibly explosive. He was struggling so hard against it, but I forced it out of him. Me. I made him sneeze. And what a sneeze it was, too! Absolutely fucking exquisite.

I could just tell that he was dying to do it again; the look on his face was priceless. I had never seen anyone look that sneezy, but on Raevyn, it was deliriously sexy. His eyes were still glassy and it was like he was struggling to keep them open. His lips were parted, as if he were ready to unleash another one. I was certainly ready for him to do it, in any case - I was desperate for it!

And then, Raevyn took off. He was there one second, and the next, whoosh! He was gone, racing up the steps to fuck knows where. I was absolutely gutted!

I wasn’t thinking straight. It was the intensity of the emotion brought on by that sneeze and, probably, the drink. All I could do was sit down next to Paeyl, who was looking even more disappointed than I, if that was at all possible. We sat there for maybe five minutes, maybe ten. I don’t know because I lost track of time- possibly because I was a bit pissed- and neither of us said a word. For the first time, it actually felt like Paeyl and I were on the same wavelength. After a while, though, I felt like we had to snap out of it. “Sharing a moment” with Paeyl, at that point, wasn’t something I wanted to do. I wondered what he was thinking about, but I wasn’t about to ask, so instead I said,

“Where’s he gone off to?” It was the first thing that popped into my mind.

“Dunno,” he said, in the most sullen tone you can possibly imagine.

“Well, that was pretty rude, I think.”

“Who cares what you think, Perks? It’s obvious why he’s left. In fact...”

The wanker started to get up, but I pulled him back down. I was laughing, because I’d just noticed something.

“You know, you might as well sit with me for a minute, unless you really want to go showing that off to everybody.” I looked directly at his crotch so he’d know what I was talking about.

So Paeyl sat back down next to me, mumbling something that sounded suspiciously like “piss-shit-fuck!” I was very amused; I didn’t think the lad knew how to swear. I also realized that maybe his thoughts and mine were running in directions more similar than I’d thought.

“So Paeyl,” I started again, unable to help myself, “what brought that on?”

I didn’t really expect him to answer, but he went bright red (and I do mean bright red) and squeaked, “Nothing!” looking so embarrassed that I expected him to start melting away like the Wicked Witch of the West.

And that’s when I knew, I just knew, that my earlier theory about Paeyl and his reaction to seeing Raevyn sneeze was spot on. He got off on it too! He really did! And even if I was sure of it at that moment, I still felt like I had to say something about it. Maybe it was just because I was enjoying his discomfort so much.

“Nothing except maybe seeing your lover sneeze?”

He looked at me like I’d suddenly grown another head.

“I knew it! Does Raevyn know?” I said, and then I started to laugh.

“Shut up, Perks,” he gasped. “Shut up or I’ll slap you!”

And he could have done, so I stopped laughing. Actually, for once, I wasn’t laughing at him. It was the situation I found funny; I’m fully comfortable with my fetish, but I found it amazing to know that I’m not the only one with it, and that I was able to suss it out in someone else. And that the someone else happened to be Paeyl, of all people.

And that’s when I made the mistake of telling him. Like I said, I was pissed.

“Hey, don’t get tetchy on me, it’s no big deal. As a matter of fact, I can see where you’re coming from. Raevyn’s dead sexy when he sneezes. It’s like he’s got it all, so confident, so up there, and then when he sneezes, he’s not in control anymore. His nose just takes over and for that one second, he’s vulnerable. We’re on the same level. He’s ours.”

“He’s mine,” Paeyl said, in a quiet, deadly-serious tone. His face was sheet white.

“Yours, ours, whatever. The point is, you just love it when he sneezes. You find it exciting. It just makes your blood run hot and your knees go weak, an attraction as powerful to your soul as the pull of the moon is to the ocean’s black depths. You love it.”

And then, it would seem I’m not the only one who was pissed, because Paeyl did the last thing in the world I’d ever expect.

He kissed me.


6. Raevyn, upstairs

The party was ace until Perks lit that bloody clove. It started off with some poetry, and then Paeyl and I got pissed and started making out. We were both getting pretty hot, and I could tell that it was only a matter of minutes before he asked me if I wanted to go somewhere more private. I didn’t really want to; there’s just something about making out in a public place. I’ve always found that an extra turn-on for some reason, especially if it’s a lad I’m making out with. But yeah, then along came Perks.

She was looking gorgeous, a long black velvet cloak and a dress that didn’t leave much to the imagination. The girl’s cute to start with, a figure that could stop traffic, but she looked good enough to eat that night. She came over and we started nattering away about Darkness and the nature of love, which happen to be two of my favourite topics.

And then she lit up. My allergies were already giving me a bit of trouble, but it wasn’t too bad up until that point - just the odd sneeze here and there. But it’s like she was doing it on purpose or something, blowing smoke at me, and things just got completely out of hand.

I was so embarrassed! I tried to ignore it, to pay attention to what she was saying, but it was like the inside of my nose was liquefying. I could feel it was just a matter of time before it overflowed and I exploded all over the place with sneezes. It was as if tendrils of smoke were working their way inside me, tickling everything in sight, driving me mad. I completely lost track of what Perks was saying, I was trying so hard not to sneeze. I don’t think she noticed, or if she did she was too polite to say anything, but then it just got to a point where I could feel there was no stopping it and I’d just have to sneeze it all out.

I get like that sometimes, and it’s really embarrassing. It happens sporadically in the summer (I’ve got a bit of hay fever), or if I’m somewhere really smoky. My allergies completely take over and I just sneeze my head off. It’s not pretty, and I really hate it when it happens, because even if I try and keep it quiet, it feels like everyone’s staring at me and I look like a complete arse. This was one of those times; the smoke was getting to me so badly that I knew I was going to lose it. I had to get out of there before it happened, because I didn’t want either Perks or Paeyl to see me like that. I mean, if I was in Paeyl’s shoes, I might be completely freaked out. Me having a full-blown allergy attack is not a pretty sight.

I tried to be polite, to wait until Perks finished whatever she was saying, but I realized she wasn’t going to do it in time so I just cut her off. I was so panicked at that point that I didn’t even care if I looked rude; I just stood up. I didn’t even get a whole sentence out before the first sneeze came. It didn’t exactly catch me by surprise, but I was still ticked off that I couldn’t keep it in. And worse, I knew there were dozens of others just waiting to explode out of me. I did the only thing I could think of doing: I ran to the loo.

I pushed past people, managing not to sneeze on any of them, and then up the stairs. I started to lose it right then, on the steps. A sneeze came out, then another, but I stifled them. I don’t like doing that; it’s painful and it doesn’t stop my nose itching. But it bought me enough time to speed up the steps and then down the corridor to the lav. When I reached it, I locked myself inside and grabbed some toilet paper before sitting myself down in a corner. Or maybe I should say sneezing myself into a corner, because that’s exactly what I did. I sneezed and lost my balance, so I just kind of toppled in a heap.

I didn’t care; at least, I was all alone and the music downstairs was loud enough that no one would hear me even if I screamed the sneezes out. Unless they came looking for me, but it’s not like I was in any condition to open the door even if anyone had come a-knocking.

Even by my standards, that was some fit. It seemed like it went on for hours, sneeze after sneeze, until I started to wonder if I was ever going to be able to stop. Really big sneezes, “HEEEIISSHOOO!”, just rocketing out of me with only a couple of seconds between each one. The wad of toilet paper was soaked through in no time, but I couldn’t be bothered to go get more. I just sat there and sneezed helplessly, over and over again. After a while, it started to taper off somewhat, which was a relief. Like they were coming every ten seconds or so instead of every three. It gave me a chance to get up and walk to the bog to get more tissue to blow my nose in.

I don’t know how long I stayed in the lav, but it felt like ages. I’d think I was all right, but then another sneeze would creep up on me and force it’s way out, making me decide to wait a bit more. But it had to stop eventually, so I just bided my time. I must have sneezed something like fifty times before I felt like it was truly over. I looked at myself in the mirror and I was a right sight. Eyes like a weasel, liner smudged, nose red and puffy. I washed my face in ice-cold water, towelled it dry, and then I really did feel better. I didn’t look as good, but at least I had control of my body again. I was a bit tired out, but I felt ready to go back and face the world.

If anyone lit another stupid clove within three feet of me, though, I’d go over and stamp it out on their foreheads. Even if it was Perks.

7. Paeyl on kissing Perks

Why did I do it? It was one of those things you do without thinking, completely on impulse. It caught me off guard as much as it did her, to tell the truth. I couldn’t believe what she was saying to me, about how I liked to see Raevyn sneeze. I mean, how on Earth had she figured that out? I couldn’t believe it. At the time, I didn’t even think about going for flat-out denial, which seems like the obvious solution now. I was in shock. I felt like the ground was going to open up and swallow me whole unless I did something.

So I did. Maybe it was because I was so desperate to shut her up. I was feeling completely overwhelmed by so many things, and she was just there, the only thing around me that was even remotely focused. I just leaned over and kissed her. We stayed like that for about ten seconds, and then I realized what I was doing and pushed her away.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” she asked, grinning.

I couldn’t think of a single thing to say to that, so I just stayed quiet and looked away.

“Paeyl,” she cooed, and then she just started laughing again. Laughing at me. “I never knew you cared.”

“I don’t. Just sod off,” I muttered. Was there nothing in the world that would scare her away? “Go on, Perks. Leave me alone. I’m drunk.” And I was.

“Details,” she smiled. She looked like a smug black cat who’d just gotten the cream. “I’ve sussed you out, and you’re furious. Hah! A-maz-ing!”

“What are you talking about?”

I knew very well what she was talking about, but by this point, I was panicking, feeling the room practically begin to spin, the atmosphere suddenly overwhelmingly claustrophobic. What was she going to do?

“You know what I’m talking about. Look at you, you’re shaking! What’s freaking you out more, Paeyl? That you kissed me, or that you get a hard-on from watching Raevyn sneezing?” She paused, and then went on. “What, are you afraid I’m going to tell him about one, or even both of these fascinating facts?”

The way she said it terrified me. I couldn’t believe she was threatening to tell Raevyn about this. I’d just die if she did! It wasn’t so much the kiss (I could just say she’d dared me to do it or whatever), but Raevyn was sure to think I was a complete freak if he learned that I got off on him seeing him sneeze. He’d certainly dump me over it, and I couldn’t possibly stand losing him. This situation was only too reminiscent of those horrible episodes in the schoolyard when I’d been younger, where bullies taunted me before beating me to a pulp.

I felt a lump rise in my throat and swallowed, hard. “You’ve gone daft, Perks. Stop it; this isn’t funny.”

“Bollocks. I still know your secret,” she said in a tone that sent another massive shiver running down my spine. The positively evil light in her eyes, when I looked at her for about a quarter of a second, terrified me. “So... exactly what are we going to do about this?”

Oh no oh no oh SHIT! I’d never seen her like this. Unlike me, she seemed to know exactly what was happening. I could practically see the microscopic gears in her pea-sized brain begin rusty turning motions. I suddenly realized that I’d broken out into a cold sweat. She knew! She knew exactly what I’d been thinking every step of the way. And why on earth had I kissed her anyway? I’m gay! I just felt so stupid. What was she going to do?

The world’s heavy weight was still grinding along much too slowly. The state I was in, I felt like I could see through her skin, her muscle, her bones, right to her stone cold heart. I wanted to feel it in my hands. I wanted to crush her life force, to feel her blood course through my fingers. Could she hear my silent mind, I wondered, howling out its fear inside me?

I did the worst possible thing. I blurted out, “Nothing! Just don’t tell Raevyn. I’ll do anything!”

And when she smiled, I knew that with those words, I’d just sealed my fate.

8. Perks, contemplating blackmail

I would never have guessed that Paeyl would get this flustered over a kiss and my discovering we shared the same little peccadillo. At first, I was amused, but then I realized just how freaked out he was by it. He kissed me - and I have to say it that it was surprisingly nice! Raevyn must have taught him well -, but then he shied away like a scared little lamb that was afraid of the big bad wolverine.

I’d never seen him like that; frankly, it caught me off guard. And I’m ashamed to say that a part of me actually enjoyed it. I couldn’t resist baiting him a bit, teasing him both about the fact that he’d kissed me and about his fetish for sneezing. I knew it was mean, but I couldn’t help myself. Besides, if he’d been less flustered, he could have had a go at me right back. I’d practically spelled out the fact that I shared his ‘interest’, hadn’t I?

Still, seeing Paeyl nearly soiling himself on the settee besides me was a truly savoury experience. The way he looked at me, you’d have thought I was the Goth scene’s answer to Satan. I was only messing around, mind. When I asked him,

“So... what are we going to do about this?”

I was really just expecting him to tell me to sod off, like he always does. Which I would probably have done at that point, even if I’d still have poked a bit of fun at him over it afterward every so often. I’m not really nasty; I just like to have a laugh. Paeyl and I do seem to get off on goading each other, so it wasn’t that big a deal to me. But then, he just sat there, looking utterly defeated and white as a sheet, and he said,

“Nothing! Just don’t tell Raevyn. I’ll do anything!”

What? I actually sat completely still for a few seconds, taking him in, really seeing how panicked he was for the first time. Oh wow! Looking at him more closely, I saw that the poor boy was trembling, he was so scared. Of what, exactly? He must have been extremely pissed. Whatever. Raevyn would never freak out over anything that silly, so why was Paeyl reacting like this? I think I would have threatened to go over to his house and butcher his entire family with an ice pick and he would have taken it better.

Still... I may not be a mean person, but I will admit that I like to get my way. And something I’d wanted for a long time was to get closer to Raevyn. If you catch my drift. This was an unexpected, unique turn of events, a sign from Darkness, an opportunity not to be missed. Totally a “does the Walker choose the path, or the path the Walker” kind of thing. Seeing Paeyl looking like a scared little seal about to get clubbed, and hearing this desperate (and admittedly pathetic) plea, it took me all of ten seconds of silence to hatch a plan.

“You’ll do anything, yeah?” I gave him a truly scary smile, which I gleefully noted managed to make him wince. At that moment, I knew I was going to win. “Okay Paeyl, I promise to take this to the grave if we...”

9. Raevyn returns

My sinuses were still hurting a bit when I started to amble down the staircase to get back to the party. I had in mind just to find Paeyl, sit down for a bit, and then maybe ask him whether he’d like to go. But then, I saw something that left me standing stock-still, agape. I never, not in a million years, thought this would happen, but I came back and found Paeyl and Perks kissing on the settee where I’d hastily left them.

What the fuck? Weren’t they meant to hate each other?

Still, as I watched, they kissed, and then he pushed her away. I was stunned. I actually crouched down on the staircase, hardly daring to breathe, waiting to see what was going to happen next. What was that all about? I mean, I’m bi, but Paeyl had always told me that he only went for blokes. And kissing Perks, of all people!

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, whether I thought they were going to do it again or something, but they just sat there talking, looking like they were having either an argument or a heated conversation of some sort. Now that wasn’t too unusual, but then, Perks started laughing and Paeyl went sheet-white, and started to freak out. I just sat there still as a statue and watched, fascinated. I couldn’t hear what Perks was saying, and she had her back to me so I couldn’t even try to read her lips, but it was obvious that whatever they were talking about, she had the upper hand in a big way.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Paeyl look that scared or that flustered. For a moment, I thought he was going to be sick. At that point, I decided to get up and step in-between them, to stop her from finishing whatever it was she was telling him. I wanted to run down the stairs and barge in, but I couldn’t. There were too many people, and a few of them noticed I wasn’t looking my usual handsome self and kept asking me if I was all right. I slipped through them as quickly as I could, but by the time I got there, both Paeyl and Perks had fallen silent, and I’ll be damned if she hadn’t lit another clove.

As soon as I reached their backs, the smell of it hit me full on, and my nose was already so sensitive from my previous sneezing fit that another big tickle just flared right up and forced a sneeze out of me before I could stop it.


I was furious with myself, but I just couldn’t help it. I think my sneeze startled both of them, because they turned around in a perfectly synchronized motion. As soon as she saw me, Perks smiled and stubbed out her clove in a nearby ashtray. Thank Darkness for that!

“Hi Raevyn,” she smiled. Whatever she’d been telling Paeyl, it obviously hadn’t been freaking her out at all!

“Hi,” I answered, and gave her a nod. My nose was still tickling, so I gave it a strong rub, before talking to Paeyl, who was looking truly miserable. “Hey, you okay babe?”

“He’s fine,” Perks chirped, “he was just a bit upset because I told him about a séance I once held, where a group of us actually got to witness an apparition from the nether region that... told us some very interesting secrets about the nature of man. And,” she grinned broadly and- did I imagine it?- fondly at my boyfriend, “Paeyl didn’t think I was telling the truth, but after a few revelations, he’s a believer.”

Something in the way Paeyl wasn’t meeting Perks’ gaze made me uneasy, for some reason. “Is that right, Paeyl?” I asked.

“Mmm... yeah,” Paeyl mumbled. “Perks got some very... dangerous information from that demon."

Ah, now that made sense. Perks is always coming up with stories about séances that are either scary, sultry, or just plain ridiculous. They’re all bollocks; she wouldn’t know how to hold a séance if her life depended on it, but she’s got a great imagination. And she can tell a good story. Paeyl had obviously fallen for this one, whatever it was, and it had really scared him! Probably not helped by the drink.

I’d have burst out laughing right there and then, if the tickle in my nose hadn’t taken over. Instead, all I could do was struggle for my lips not to part as I felt my lungs taking in air of their own volition. As quick as I could, I brought a hand up to pinch my nose shut, but that didn’t quell the tickle and before I knew it, I’d sneezed four times in quick succession. They were stifled, but still strong to make me bend at the waist. Hugely satisfying, though, I have to admit...

I opened my eyes to find both Perks and Paeyl staring at me, eyes as round as owls’.

“What,” I started, “am I that scary when I sneeze?”

Paeyl just looked away, but Perks laughed and reached over to swat my arm. Playful bat. She’s such a sweet little thing. I smiled, and when she invited me to sit down, I did. We stayed there for about ten minutes, with Perks and me talking while Paeyl sulked. (He’d probably realized that Perks was having him on, and there’s nothing Paeyl hates more in this life than being taken for a fool. Like I said before, he can be a bit insecure at times- it annoys me, but what can you do) Then, Perks moved on to go talk to other people.

Paeyl wasn’t in much of a mood to talk even after Perks left, and frankly the smoky atmosphere was giving me a headache. I really wanted to go; it was getting fairly late, and the clove smoke seemed to be everywhere, making me sneeze progressively more and more. I stifled them for a while, but that always gets painful after a bit. I was beginning to worry that I might have another sneezing fit right there in front of everyone, when Paeyl finally spoke up and asked if I wanted to leave. Of course, I thought that was a great idea, so I got my car keys out of my pocket, went to get my coat, and after having thanked Morticia and said goodbye to our friends, we left together.

I was still sneezing when we got to the car. It felt like my sinuses were lined with clove smoke, and frankly, if I’d been on my own, I wouldn’t have minded just sitting there and sneezing all the irritant out. But with Paeyl right next to me... How embarrassing! I’d already sneezed so much that evening that my throat hurt. I could feel the cool, crisp air outside helping though, and I thanked Paeyl for getting us out of there.

“My pleasure,” he said. “The party went downhill as soon as you left me with Perks, as far as I’m concerned.”

“Why’s that?” I asked, suddenly irritated, and then sneezed again as I slammed my car door shut.

“Never mind,” he quickly said, shutting the door on his side in turn.

I really felt like I needed to sneeze again, but before I could do anything, Paeyl had his arms around me and was kissing me, finding my tongue with his. Had it not been for the swiftly inflating tickle in the back of my nose, I would gladly have reciprocated. But as it was, I just felt it get stronger and stronger until I just had to push Paeyl away.

“Sorry, I just... just need toooiiieeshoo!... hieeshh!”

“Bless,” my lover said.

And then it started all over again, Paeyl on me, kissing me deeply, his previous sulky mood seemingly evaporated and replaced by inexplicable lust. We were parked in the dark, of the side of Morticia’s house, and he was all over me, searching my mouth with his tongue, his hand on my crotch, kissing me with such desire I felt nearly overwhelmed. I thought of the way he’d been kissing Perks earlier on, and was tempted to break off and ask him what that had been about. I decided to let it go; everyone’s entitled to their little secrets, and frankly, I wouldn’t have minded getting a snog off Perks myself that evening... The thought of her and Paeyl kissing was inexplicably horny. I decided that whatever had gotten into him tonight, I wasn’t complaining.

10. Paeyl, on Perks’ plan… and in Raevyn’s car

Damn that Perks! She had me by the balls, and the little witch really knew how to squeeze. Do you want to know what she told me in that horrific scene when we were sat in the dark on the settee while Raevyn was sneezing his gorgeous head off in the lav upstairs? I don’t remember her exact wording, but the gist of what the price of her silence would be is this: she wanted a go at shagging Raevyn. I made the mistake of protesting when she said it, and then she made her ‘proposition’ worse: she said that rather, she’d fancy a threesome with both of us. And worse still, she wanted Raevyn to be sneezing while we did it!

“Just so you’ll enjoy it more,” she’d said.

Just the thought of it made my stomach lurch. Kissing her had been weird enough; there was no way I was going to touch her there.

What could I do, though? I couldn’t seem to think straight, as if whatever is responsible for my internal monologue had overdosed on Prozac. I can’t quite explain it, but it resulted in my being utterly tongue-tied. And she knew it. The look in her eyes when she finished her proposition and lit a clove was one of pure triumph. I don’t think I’ve ever hated anyone as much as I did Perks right at that moment. She had me, and she knew it, and oh, bloody hell!

And that’s when I heard Raevyn sneeze from right behind us. I nearly jumped out of my skin. How long had he been there? How much had he heard?

To her credit, Perks saved the situation. For all her bad points, she is pretty smart, and it took her all of half a second to come up with a believable lie about my being scared by a story she’d been telling me. I went along with it; I didn’t have much of a choice, did I? I was praying Raevyn would fall for it, and thank Darkness, he did. I was safe. After a fashion.

Raevyn talked to Perks for a bit, and I just tuned out. I was starting to be able to think straight again, and I couldn’t believe how cunningly I’d been played by Perks. She couldn’t have planned the evening’s events, but everything had fallen into place perfectly in order for us to be in a checkmate situation where she’d emerged as the victor. How would she engineer the rest of her plan, though? When would she get what she wanted? For having been on the receiving end of her evil machinations this evening, I had no doubt that she’d get her little threesome. I swallowed hard every time the word popped into my mind.

The only thing that kept me from simply bolting was Raevyn. Not only was he my lift, but I couldn’t help noting that he was starting to progressively sneeze again because of the clove smoke. Sometimes, I really hate this liking of mine; if there was ever a point in my life at which I wasn’t supposed to feel randy, it was then. And yet, steadily, Raevyn’s intermittent sneezing began to get to me the way it usually tends to do after a while. I didn’t get hard, but only because I tried as hard as I could not to think about it.

I was infinitely relieved when Perks left. I couldn’t wait to go, so I asked Raevyn if we could leave. His eyes had that glassy look they sometimes get when he’s been having a hard time because of his allergies, and he obviously wasn’t feeling his best. To my mind though, despite everything, he was absolutely gorgeous, very desirable. Especially since he was really sneezing a lot by then. I could hardly wait to get out of there and have him to myself for a while, to try and forget this horrible party and all it had entailed.

We left, and once sat in the dark, inside Raevyn’s car, I felt infinitely better. Safer. I felt like crying, but that just wouldn’t do. Besides, Raevyn was still sneezing, and so that provided a most welcome distraction. I kissed him deeply, but then he broke it off. I had felt him beginning to struggle right before it happened, but then to hear him going,

“Sorry, I just... just need toooiiieeshoo!... hieeshhoo!”

It just made me feel hot and cold all over. As soon as Perks had started threatening me, I had been caught in a complex miasma of thoughts and feelings, feeling like I was going to either explode or go mad, and had been able to no neither. All that pent up frustration, rage, shock, panic and fright just welled to the surface when Raevyn did that, and I just couldn’t control myself. I figured that it was better that it all come out as love for him rather than my going out and strangling Perks with my bare hands.

I was like an animal, all over him, kissing, biting, licking and rubbing him. I couldn’t get enough of his dark watery eyes, his smooth skin, his warm, wet mouth and his warm, hard something else. And, let us not forget, his wonderful, delicious, quietly embarrassed but irrepressible sneezes, which he couldn’t seem to be able to help even though we were getting so hot and bothered that the car’s windows were beginning to steam up.

It’s not the easiest thing to do in a car, but I didn’t care; I climbed over him, straddling his legs, and managed to pull his gorgeous cock out. It was nearly as hard was mine was, and as I held it in my hand, I felt him tugging at the button fly of my jeans. I kissed him again, hard, as I finally felt my erection spring free from the confines of my black briefs and into the dry warmth of Raevyn’s fingers.

It was bliss. Some of the best sex we’ve ever had. It didn’t last very long, because I was so on edge and so very, very hot for him. He started to stroke me, and I him, and we hadn’t even been into it a minute when he suddenly choked out,


“What?” I asked, even I knew what he was going to say.

It was all over his face. His features were drastically contorted, both because of the fact that I was stroking him and he was loving it, and because it was more than obvious that he was going to sneeze. He confirmed this by saying,

“I’ve got to sneeze... again...”

I felt my erection give a violent twitch when he said the word, and knew it was only a matter of seconds before I came.

“Hold it back, I’m so close,” I urged, and then kissed him again, open-mouthed.

I knew it wouldn’t stop the sneeze, but to feel him straining not to explode while my mouth was glued to his was unbelievably exciting. My hand must have been a blur as I stroked him, quick and hard, up and down. I felt his hand contracting on my dick, his movements becoming choppy as I felt his chest rise and fall close to mine. Then, I could tell he was holding his breath as he kissed me. He was so rigid- pardon the pun- as he did his utmost to stave off that sneeze. Just for me, I thought, he’s doing that just for me.

t was, inevitably, a losing battle. Not just for Raevyn, of course. Even before he sneezed, I felt myself starting to come, groaning as I did it, not letting go of his erection but unable to continue my movement right at that moment. His hand reflexively cupped the top of my shaft in a hard grip so that I didn’t come all over him, even as he kept up small up and down motions, and it was fantastic. In five or six hot spurts, I jetted all over his hand, my back arching as my thighs clenched from the intensity of the pleasure I was feeling. And then, as soon as it was over, Raevyn let loose as well.

“Huh... hiessshh!... Hiisshhh!... Hiessshuh!”

He looked daze for a second, his eyes opening and then shutting again as he delivered a fourth, slightly louder sounding, “hiiiESHH!” that seemed to end the fit.

“Sorry,” he smiled, that adorable shy smile that makes me want to melt, and looked down at his hand.

I couldn’t answer. I was breathless, feeling drops of sweat under my shirt even as I felt my dick give a few extra twitches a response to Raevyn’s beautiful sternutory display. He gave a loud sniff and I started kissing him again, resuming my stroking even as his hand remained immobile around my own now shrinking organ.

It didn’t take too long after that for me to get him off. Raevyn came much the same way I had, giving a small groan as his warmth filled my palm. The look on his face was beautiful, intense concentration and pleasure mingled with something else that I couldn’t quite identify. When he was done, we just stayed for a moment, relaxing against each other but not letting go of the flesh we’d been holding.

Both our moods had considerably lightened when we finally disengaged, and Raevyn supplied us both with tissues he keeps in his glove compartment for the express purposes of catching stray sneezes and cleaning up after sex. I did the latter and he did both, and before too long, we were on our way. He dropped me off at home, giving me a sweet kiss goodnight. I felt so lucky at that moment to be able to enjoy Raevyn the way I do. I love him so much.

It wasn’t until I was tucked into bed that I remembered Perks. Then, it was a good two hours before I fell into what the French call la petite mort. I’d never dwelled upon it before, but that night, it seemed singularly appropriate.

11. Perks, on the post-party week

Lots of cool things happened in the week following Morticia’s party. I found this dynamite black satin cape at Cruella’s Vintage over on Cowgate for only thirty quid. My story “The Death of Joy” (which is a really prosaic piece about the tragic death of a girl named Joy in an ill-fated accident involving a toaster, a cat and a pink plastic dildo) got accepted at www.darkness.com. I went over to Maze and Sabriel’s, and we got caned, watched Blair Witch II again and laughed ourselves silly over the Goth chick and that I-love-dancing-naked-in-the-trees Wiccan girl. I mean, could whoever wrote the script have been any more clueless? Still, it’s become something of a favourite amongst our little group of friends. Strictly because it’s the funniest movie we’ve ever seen, you understand.

Oh yeah, and things got under way for the plan I’d hatched at Morticia’s party, too.

I bumped into Paeyl twice. The first time, I was evil. I looked him straight in the eye, loudly faked a sneeze, and then gave him a wink as I walked on. I would have stayed and chatted, but I was in a rush, so I thought I’d just tease him a bit instead. It worked a treat; he looked so pissed off! His lips formed a priceless “o” shape and his whole face clouded over. I was quite proud of myself over that one.

The second time was on Thursday, and it was actually Paeyl who bumped into me. I had just finished having a classy glass of red wine on the High Street in Edinburgh’s old town with my friend Jez and we were walking along, when who should walk past us but Paeyl? I know he saw me, but he pretended he hadn’t, so I had to quickly reach out and grab his arm to force him to stop. Which he did, even if you’ve never seen anyone look more reluctant. Jez had to run, so I finally got a chance to speak to Paeyl alone and cement our agreement.

Paeyl and I stopped at a pub so we could sit down and comfortably chat. I made him buy us drinks. I had a watermelon Bacardi Breezer. They taste absolutely shite, so never order one if you can avoid it, but I had one because it’s bright pink and possibly the most un-Gothlike drink in the entire universe. I knew it would irk Paeyl and it did, fussy little seal that he is. He, of course, had a Guinness. I’m sure it’ll only take you a second to figure out why - he’s only the single most image conscious Goth-boi around, don’tcha know. In his mind, he’s all that and a packet of crisps. (No doubt Lay’s Smoky Barbecue flavour, because that’s the only kind that comes in a black packet. Hah.)

So we sat down and talked. I tried to keep it light at first to get him to relax, but it wasn’t working. I made his toes curl, not just because I’m me but because he knew the turn our conversation would inevitably take. And it did... After five minutes of fruitless “so how’ve you been and how’s so and so” talk, I thought “fuck it” and dove straight into the heart of the matter.

“You and Raevyn are going to that do at Maze and Sabriel’s this Saturday, I heard?”

His eyes seemed to dim. Or maybe the pub owners just decided it was time to play with the lighting to make the atmosphere more... intimate. “How did you find out?”

“Well uh, I wonder,” I rolled my eyes, the effect no doubt dramatically enhanced by my Kohl liner. “Sabriel and Maze are only, like, two of my best friends?” I grinned at him. “Silly rabbit. It’s not like it’s classified information, anyway, and I do get around.”

I could have sworn he muttered “like a second hand dart-board” but I didn’t have time to pretend I was outraged and confront him, because then he said, “Anyway, we’re probably not going.”

“Wrong,” I said. “I know for a fact Raevyn wants to go. The lads said so. And I also know that where Raevyn goes, you go, and on this occasion, I won’t be far behind.” I paused, quickly dug a clove out of my pocket and lit it. “We’ll be like three contiguous links in the tarnished chain that binds the world.”

“Perks, that so very profound, I could look all the way into your throat and never see the bottom of you. But you’re wrong. We’re not going.”

“No, you’re wrong, honey,” he winced a the word, “you are going to this do. I want you to. I want you both to go. And you know what’s going to happen. Sabriel’s going to be chain-smoking like he always does, and all the others will be lighting up, and before you know it,” I blew a think filet of smoke in his direction, “our lovely Raevyn will start to sneeze. Which of course,” I couldn’t resist grinning at him, “will have some interesting repercussions. So while we’re there, all together, why not take advantage of it? I think that would be ideal.”

Paeyl’s Adam’s apple bobbed up and down, but he didn’t say anything so I took another drag off my clove and continued.

“Yeah, that’d do nicely... I’m sure the guys invited quite a few people, so nobody will notice if the three of us slip away for a bit near the end of the evening. And if they happen to think we’re getting up to no good, then who cares, right?”

“But they’re sure to notice,” he wailed. “Under the weight of all the stares, what mere mortals would not fall?”

“Don’t be silly. You’ve been around long enough to know what happens at these things. For fuck’s sake, a rabid armadillo could come in and do a jig in the middle of the room and no one would bat an eyelid. Remember that time Muji and Ariana had sex on the settee in front of everyone?”

“I wasn’t there.”

“Well, no one cared. Except Morticia, but then she’s had a crush on Muji for the longest time. So honestly, it’ll be fine. More than fine; it’s going to be positively wicked. And just to make it extra special, I’ll even do my best to light a clove at some point while we’re doing it. That’ll catch your interest, won’t it?”

And it was quite weird, watching his face while I was saying all this. I’ve never seen an odder combination of emotions. Repulsion, fear, desire, anxiety, disgust, jealousy, and lust, all of those were present and more, gilded phantoms foreshadowing the night that was to come. I was amazed at the way Paeyl seemed to be at once glued to his chair and desperate to get away from the table. Scared of having a threesome yet unable to resist the lure of having me coax Raevyn into sneezing for both of us.

“But what about Raevyn?” he said then. “What if he doesn’t want to?”

Hmm... Now there’s an option I hadn’t considered.

12. Raevyn, Saturday night

Paeyl was acting very strange before the party. Fidgety. Ill at ease. I asked him if he was all right, and he assured me that he was “fine, fine, fine!” I’ve learned that it’s best not to quibble with him when he gets into that kind of mood; if Paeyl decides he’s ‘just fine,’ then pursuing the matter further is a waste of time. He’ll often just let me see what I want to see, for often there’s nothing to truly behold anyway. We walked most of the way to Maze and Sabriel’s in a pallid shroud of silence.

Perks was the one who opened the door when we got there. Gorgeous bat, clad in a wispy black dress, lit clove in hand, stunning makeup making her grey eyes look huge and luminous. She jumped up and hugged me, telling me how glad she was that we’d come. As luck would have it, a thick cable of clove smoke went right up my nose and I had to sneeze while she was in my arms. I wanted to stifle it, but with both my arms busy I couldn’t, so it came out as a moderately loud “Hiesshh!” I was so embarrassed! Perks just laughed and hugged me tighter for a second, which only made the contrast more apparent when she then turned to Paeyl and gave him her hand to shake, suddenly going all ‘how-d’ye-do’.

Some of our friends were already sat cross-legged around a low table when we arrived, so we just joined in. Garbage- that is, the music group, not actual refuse- was on the stereo. Very cool; I love that band. Sabriel thrust glasses of extremely alcoholic punch in our hands straightaway. I chatted, I laughed, I traded lines of horrible poetry; it was good fun. We must have stayed there literally hours; I can’t remember. I was engrossed in the conversation, and whenever my glass got anywhere near half-empty, Perks or Maze or Sabriel would fill it with something different. I drank slowly, but I was steadily getting pissed.

As far as I was concerned, the evening was great, except for the usual torture of everyone lighting cloves. Sabriel was chain smoking, he always does, but I’d never seen Perks do it before. It seemed every time I’d turn around she was lighting another, which began to irritate me and, more specifically, my nose. It was like a repeat performance of Morticia’s party the week before; the smoke was slowly beginning to get to me and before I knew it, I was starting to sneeze... But thankfully, not that badly thanks to the two open windows I was sat next to.

I kept the bloody allergies well under control except for one instance when I suddenly had to sneeze while I was holding a very full glass. I tried to fight it for a second, but it just rose up too quick and strong for me to do anything but sneeze fairly loudly, and tip my drink all over the table in front of me. I was mortified. I hate being the centre of attention in situations like these, and it felt like everyone was staring at me. Especially Paeyl, which frankly got me quite annoyed with him. It’s a good thing Perks turned up right then; within five seconds, she’d produced some kitchen towels, sponged up the mess, whispered, “It’s okay, love, happens to everyone, just forget it and have fun!” in my ear and was gone.

I really should always take antihistamines with me when I go out to meet with this lot, but they don’t mix well with the drink. I remember having a few pints when heavily doped up in a pub once, and trust me, the results weren’t pretty to witness. And it’s not like there’s milk and apple juice offered to drink at these house parties, so the antihistamines have always been left behind.

I might have been having a good time, but Paeyl wasn’t. Frankly, I often wonder why he bothers coming; it seems to me he’s dispirited more often than not. I like him, right, but bloody hell! He can be such a sad bastard at times. On this occasion, he barely said a word, just sat besides me and looked at everyone in the strangest way. He nearly jumped out of his skin every time I sneezed for some weird reason, even if I tried to keep it as quiet as I possibly could and made extra sure I wasn’t holding a glass. And then, all of a sudden, I looked over and saw him downing his drink. Sabriel gave him another, which he downed, and immediately got some more to do the same again. I thought that was rather odd; it’s not like Paeyl to drink so quickly. He was obviously out to get shattered, but why?

I asked him, for about the tenth time that evening, “Hey, are you all right?”

“I’m fine!” He snapped, practically blinding me with a show of teeth intended to be a smile.

I thought, “well, one good lie deserves another - deceive me again if you feel you must.” So I just replied, “Fine,” in turn, and let it drop.

I was bloody well fed up, really. I absolutely detest when people do that, but I had the strongest urge to flick my wrist at him and go “what-ever” like they do in American TV programmes. I decided to ignore him and talk with Jez, this really cute bird sat in front of me, who was flirting her arse off even though she knows I’m seeing Paeyl and he was sat right next to me. You’re got to admire that kind of shamelessness, right?

I think Paeyl must have been on his sixth rapidly downed drink when Perks came up, bent down, tapped him on the shoulder and whispered something in his ear. He shut his eyes tightly when she did, looking like a little boy scared. He emptied his glass, then excused himself and got up. Frankly, at that point, I was glad. I’d catch up with him later.

13. Paeyl, off with Perks

The party was dreadful. I’d not wanted to go, but Raevyn seemed so keen on it. I guess it must have showed, because he kept asking me if I was okay. Even if I told him time and again that I was fine, I know he didn’t believe me. I didn’t want to lie to him, but what choice did I have? The whole time, though, I kept thinking, Can’t you hear my silent mind screaming out the obvious? Obviously not, because we ended up going.

I felt like a rabbit caught in a snare, waiting to be collected by the huntress. Perks knew what was going on, of course. She was flitting about as usual, boring people senseless with her silly chitchat, but every so often she’d catch my eye before I had a chance to look away, and she’d smile at me. I knew it was only a matter of time before she made her move, and oh how I dreaded it!

I couldn’t focus on anything else. I kept hoping for some intervention from Darkness, an earthquake, someone having an epileptic fit, the roof caving in, anything. Of course, nothing happened. Every sneeze Raevyn let out made me incredibly nervous. At about midnight, I decided the time was probably drawing near and the only way I could think to get through this was to get blind drunk. I downed one drink, then another, then another, and after a bit, I lost count. I knew I might not get ‘happy’, but at least there would an alcoholic wall erected so that I could better enjoy my misery. Reality blurred a bit around the edges, and at length I think I could have persuaded myself that this was nothing but a nightmare, only I felt someone tapping me on the shoulder and when I turned around, there she was.

“Come on, Paeyl, time to go.”

I froze, and so she said it again. “Let’s go, Paeyl. Now.”

Though it was the last thing I wanted, my legs unfolded of their own accord and my body rose up off the ground. I looked at Raevyn, thinking, “surely he’ll say something,” but he was talking to someone and didn’t even seem to notice I was leaving. He’d been pretty cold to me all evening, really. Sometimes, I get the feeling that I couldn’t do anything right when it came to pleasing him, and this was definitely one of those occasions.

It was smallish, but Perks obviously knew the place pretty well. We went through a corridor, up some steps, and then through another narrow passageway until she led me into what was obviously someone’s bedroom. She said,

“Maze won’t mind. I said I didn’t feel too well and, he said I could have a quick kip in here if I wanted to. Lovely, isn’t it?”

And it was a lovely room, a great setting for the dreadful drama I was about to be participating in. It was pitch black at first, but then when Perks got her lighter out and flicked it, I saw that there were dark swaths of velvet lining the windows of the high-ceilinged room, and that Maze’s favourite item of decoration was candles.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many candles, even in a shop. They were everywhere! On the workable, on the bookcase, on shelves; there must have been dozens of them. And wouldn’t you know it, armed with her lighter, Perks was fast at work lighting as many as a dozen before I had time to assimilate that she was setting the scene. The room was lit with what I might have ordinarily considered a cosy, sultry glow, and some of the candles were scented because the smell of burning wax and berries soon flooded my senses.

When it was sufficiently light, she came to sit on the bed and motioned for me to come next to her, since I was still stood like a twat near the door.

“Shut it behind you,” she whispered, and lit a clove.

The smoke was sweet and pungent, an interesting contrast to the candles, but I thought it would soon become cloying, so I made to go to one of the windows and open it.

“Don’t you dare,” Perks hissed. “I’ve been smoking all evening for a reason, and you know it. So just come here, sit down, and we’ll bide our time until he comes looking for you.”

“What if he doesn’t?” I asked, mimicking her hushed tone.

“Why wouldn’t he?” she countered.

And damn it, she was right.

14. Perks, setting the scene

The party would have been ace even without my added agenda. Maze and Sabriel had invited all the right people, and everyone was getting along swimmingly. I was having a right laugh with several of my friends, but there was a time clock in the back of my mind, counting down its’ way towards midnight. Not only is it a time of great Gothic significance, but it’s also usually the point where house parties are going full swing and most people are already pissed. A perfect time to escape unnoticed.

I think Paeyl knew I’d picked that time too- he kept looking at me when he thought I wouldn’t see him, and I loved the expression on his face. Raevyn obviously didn’t have a clue, though. He was looking very happy (a bit too happy, I thought, when he was talking to my mate Jez... she’s got such an obvious crush on him!) and very sexy, in a tight black top with tight black jeans, his hair looking shiny and soft as always and that beautiful smile. I noticed straightaway that he’d changed his nose stud for a ring that evening, and secretly hoped that it wouldn’t give him too much trouble later on.

And I was looking forward to ‘later on’ like you wouldn’t believe. As soon as I opened the door for Raevyn and Paeyl, my heart began to pound. Then, it practically stopped when I hugged Raevyn ‘hello’ and - wait for it - he sneezed in my arms! The poor boy was so red afterwards, and I thought it was so damned cute I could have shagged him right there.

I helped Maze and Sabriel serve people drinks all evening, and did more than my fair share of contributing to the room’s pungent cloud of clove-smoke. Part of it was nerves, but most of it was my being naughty and wanting to get Raevyn sneezing. Of course, it worked. I’ve wondered why he just doesn’t take meds, but I’m really not complaining. The smoke was starting to get to him and every so often, he’d sneak a sneeze into his hands or in his elbow.

I think one of the things I like best about Raevyn’s sneezes - asides for, well, absolutely everything - is the fact that he’s so shy about them. It’s dead cute. He’ll often try hard not to give in. If he can’t manage it, he’ll try to very hard to keep them quiet. And if he can’t do that either, his cheeks will go bright red. And this, if you hadn’t guessed already, really makes my knees go weak. I’m not sure whether I’d prefer for him to just be at ease and completely let loose when he sneezes, however appealing that option sounds. There’s just something about those quietly embarrassed sneezes and the subsequent blushing...

Needless to say I was more than ready when midnight rolled around. He’d been doing the “I’m not going to allow myself to sneeze” thing, the “I’m trying really hard to sneeze quietly so no one will notice” thing, and the “Oh that was loud, I’m really embarrassed now” thing enough times to get me completely soaked. Paeyl was obviously watching for it too, because I could practically see him jump every time Raevyn sneezed... and though I didn’t want to stare myself, it really looked to me as if Raevyn found his boyfriend’s jumpiness pretty annoying.

The best, however, was when at some point when Raevyn tipped his glass as he sneezed and splashed the table in front of him. That was ace! A couple of people were staring (including Paeyl, of course) and Raevyn went bright red. How fortunate that I was just walking by with some kitchen towels in my hands and some reassuring words to whisper in his ear. I shall treasure that moment. Hah.

As much as I enjoy preliminaries, I was eager to get to the best part. As the clock drew to midnight, I quickly asked Maze if I could borrow his room for a bit, and he gave me a wink and said, “Sure.”

Then, I went to find Paeyl, and led him upstairs. Maze’s room is pretty cool; very dark with high ceilings and lots of candles everywhere. I lit a few, just to set the right mood, and after a bit of fussing, I got Paeyl to sit down next to me on the bed.

I said, “When Raevyn comes, and he will you know, it’s very simple. We’re going to be in mid-snog and look as if we’re getting hot and heavy. Don’t make that face!” - because believe me, he was making one – “It’ll work. We’ll look like we’re really going for it, and then we he sees us, we’ll invite him to join in. Simple as that.”

“But what if he gets pissed off?”

“Why would he?” I asked.

“Because it’ll look like I’m cheating on him, won’t it?”

“Aye, good point,” I said. “But the thing you’ve got to remember is, I don’t care! Let him bloody think it! But I’ll bet you anything he doesn’t say anything just joins in.”

“Raevyn would never do that,” Paeyl said, but I could see the doubt beginning to filter through. “I know he wouldn’t.”

Yeah right. “Well, let’s wait and see, shall we? Besides, I think he fancies me.”

“In your dreams, Perks!” he replied.

In my dreams, aye, Raevyn fancied very much. I wasn’t quite so sure about real life, but I definitely hoped so. Paeyl was right, of course; there was always the chance Raevyn would just storm out. My non-relationship with him would probably be over, but then again, he’d probably be through with Paeyl as well.

Yet if he did fancy me...

It just had to work. It was funny how I’d been certain all week and then all of a sudden I had doubts. Then again, I’ve never been like Paeyl, always putting obstacles in my own way just because I thought there was a small chance things wouldn’t go as I’d hoped. The path might sometimes choose the Walker, but this time the Walker had chosen the path.

“Quit being so scared, Paeyl. I’m telling you Raevyn’ll go for it. If we play it right. And we both know what the stakes are if we don’t, right?” I thought I’d better tell him flat out, as he looked a little bit confused. “Exposure.”

That shut him up. He rolled his eyes and collapsed back on the bed, just lying still as he stared at the ceiling. “Room’s spinning,” he commented after a while.

“What? What are you on about?”

“The room. It’s turning very fast.”

He was talking like a five-year-old. Nonsensical rubbish. “Paeyl, are you all right?”

“Pissed,” he replied, and shut his eyes.

I let him lie there for a few minutes, smoking a clove as I watched him. I’d had about three since we’d entered the room, and the small space was pleasantly smoky. I inhaled deeply, feeling the tendrils of smoke burn my lungs. I’d had too many already; my insides felt well caked with the stuff, and I was coughing a bit. It was worth it, though - I’d be more than willing to risk self-mutilation for sex with Raevyn. Even more so if he was having an allergy attack while we were at it. I’d be willing to lose a bloody lung for that!

I lost track of time for a bit, spinning fantasies about what I was going to do to Raevyn when he finally came. Then, I distinctly heard footsteps coming up the stairs and down the hall. The loo was on the ground floor. No one would come up here unless they were looking for something or someone. It had to be him.

“Oh shit! Paeyl, get up, right now!” I whispered.

“Uuunnnggghhhh,” he replied.

I gave him a quick kick before ripping off my tights and chucking them across the room. Paeyl looked pretty dazed, but sat up with a groan. As soon as he was in a sitting position, I took off his T-shirt and slipped one of the straps of my dress down my arm. I got close to Paeyl, straddled him in fact, and put my hands on the nape of his neck.

“Oh, what...?” He started. “Perks, what are you doing?”

“Shut up and kiss me. Now. It’s too late to back out- Raevyn’s coming!”

“Can’t we just talk about-“

I cut him off and glued my lips to his just in time.

The door opened.

15. Raevyn, in Maze’s room

I went upstairs partly because I was wondering what Paeyl was doing - he’d been gone for over twenty minutes - but also because Jez came to sit besides me with a clove and got it into her head to blow smoke at me to see if she could make me sneeze. Don’t know why; I told her to stop it, but she seemed to think it was hysterical that I’d sneeze every time she did it. After a few minutes, I began to worry she might actually succeed in having me go into a full-blown fit, so I excused myself and took off. Just in time, too- I had to sneeze five or six times as I went up the stairs, but then I felt all right again.

Until I opened the door to Maze’s room, that is. I’d tried a couple of other doors and there was no one in them. When I came close to Maze’s, I heard noises, so I figured that was probably where Paeyl had gone. He’d drunk quite a lot, and maybe he wasn’t feeling well, so I just looked in... and my jaw dropped. I might have been a bit drunk myself, but this was no hallucination.

He and Perks were on the bed together, half-undressed and kissing!

It actually took me thirty seconds to get my head around it!

I just blurted out, “What in the name of fuck are you doing?”

That seemed to startle them both, and Paeyl looked terrified when he saw me. Perks, on the other hand, looked pleased. She paused for a moment, then smiled and said,

“I know I’m trespassing, but I’m smitten and shameless.”

I had to think that one over. Perks liked Paeyl? This was interesting news. It made sense in a way; no one wastes that much time teasing someone else unless they have an ulterior motive. Maybe she’d fancied him all along, and she bugged him all the time because it wasn’t mutual... or hadn’t been, as far as I knew, before tonight. His intent had obviously been well disguised. That would have explained last week’s lip lock on the couch, but then again, wasn’t Paeyl meant to be gay? And more importantly, wasn’t he meant to be seeing me?

Perks started kissing Paeyl again, and as far as I could see, he was kissing her back. I couldn’t help watching; once again, despite everything else my brain was yammering about, I couldn’t help but find the two of them an attractive tableau. Paeyl’s a handsome lad, with a good build and chiselled, masculine features. Perks, as I’d noticed before, was looking extra lovely, even more so with her hair slightly tousled and a flush in her cheeks. Each in their own very different way were wildly attractive, and here they were together, getting it on in Maze’s cosy candle-lit room.

And then, I noticed something about the place. It was full of clove-smoke. My feet were rooted to the spot as I felt my nose begin to fill again with an irrepressible urge to sneeze. For once, I was so distracted I didn’t even think about stifling it. The tickle just welled up, and as I stood there waiting, it reached it’s apex and I had to sneeze twice. And loud they were, too, “EEEshh!... HESHooo!”

Paeyl moaned then, that low moan I thought he saved just for when we were having sex. The sound of it made my stomach sink, but still I felt like I needed to sneeze.


“Bless you,” Perks said in a feather-light voice. She turned away from Paeyl, looked right at me with her chin tucked near his chest, and said, “Why are you just standing there, Raevyn?”

“Right. I’ll just, er, go back to the party,” I replied. I was ready to just leave them both at it and go straight home.

“That’s not what I meant, you silly rabbit,” she shook her head and smiled. “I meant that you should close the door and join us.”

Oh, but she was looking beautiful on that bed. Hell let loose through onyx eyes beckoning to my yearning soul. I couldn’t think of anything else to do; I shut the door behind me and slowly walked towards them. Paeyl was staring at me in the oddest way, and Perks was all welcoming arms as she embraced me and drew me to the bed, kissing my neck and running her fingers through my hair. How nice it all felt, how amazingly right. It had been a while since I’d last had a woman.

16. Paeyl, down and out

This was like something out of a nightmare; the candles’ flicker was too bright, the room too small, suffocating passion rising like heated mercury. Reality blurred as the walls seemed to close in on me. I couldn’t believe it when Raevyn started snogging Perks. I never thought he’d actually do it, but there the two of them were, right in front of my face. I was silently screaming as I watched the lad I love hungrily running his hands all over her body while she explored his. And then he broke it off to sneeze again, turning away from me, his lungs pushing out air as he brought a hand up to try and keep it down, “heh-mph!”

Perks didn’t let go of him, but Raevyn’s sneezing gave me a split second to get in there, and when he turned back to her, shamefaced, it was my turn to press my lips to his. We kissed, and I could almost feel his heart racing as he tasted me. I closed my eyes, but then felt like the room around me was spinning too fast, so I opened them again. Perks was nibbling at Raevyn’s neck, and I watched her do it, watched her slip her small hands along his thigh and mine, watched her fumbling around down there.

Raevyn had one palm on the back of my neck and his other was somewhere on Perks’ back. Mine were on my lap; I was having enough trouble concentrating on the kiss. I shouldn’t have downed so many drinks so quickly... they hadn’t done me any good after all. Instead of stopping me focusing on Perks, my mind was doing the exact opposite. She was the only thing I could concentrate on, the only thing that wasn’t blurry, her cruel lips, her slate grey eyes standing out, enticing me and mocking me at the same time.

The kiss was interrupted by Raevyn turning away from both of us to sneeze again; he tore his hand from my neck and brought it to his nose, silently stifling three. I could feel him doing it against me, we were so close, and before I knew it I had a hard-on. Perks was on me then, licking, kissing, and Darkness help me, I was in such a state of confused arousal, I kissed her back. Raevyn was actually still turned away when she leaned close to me and said something along the lines of,

“You think that you don’t care, that your heart is made of stone, but when dawn’s dim light shines on you again, you’ll find yourself alone.”

I don’t remember her exact words; I was honestly too far-gone. I just remember that it was ominous, that it rhymed and that it was eerily prophetic. It made goose bumps appear on my forearms, and when I heard Raevyn sneeze yet again, a more explosive “Mmm-shuh!” that he couldn’t quite keep down, I kissed her, hard, to shut her up.

There was a hand on my crotch, I had no idea whose, and it was unzipping my fly, pressing down, squeezing me. I had one arm around Perks, kissing her so deeply I was almost drowning, and then I felt Raevyn’s arm snake around my back and inside my pants as his head dipped down to Perks’ breasts, which were bare by then. I was lost in a dark sea of limbs and tongues and fingers and hot, hungry breathing. Music was pounding its’ way up from downstairs, incredibly loud through the floorboards, Nine Inch Nails’ Closer. That song will always make me feel ill, I think.

Someone had my erection in their hand, I think it was Raevyn, and was slowly squeezing it. I put a hand on Raevyn’s packet and felt a hot heaviness there, waiting, eager to be released. I set about the task, but I couldn’t do anything but fumble, my fingers refusing to work properly. The lips pressed against mine changed again, and this time I felt a bit of stubble against my chin as we kissed on and on, that hand on my dick squeezing it as I rubbed someone’s back in slow circles. The sexual tension in the room was so thick I could feel it pressing down on me, stifling, just like Raevyn’s lips glued to mine, kissing, stopping, starting again.

And then it all stopped. Raevyn pulled back, face so red, features contorted, panicked.

“What’s wrong?” I whispered. I think. Or maybe it was Perks.

“Got to... to... Hiesshh!... Heh-essh! Sorry, bloody allergies again, they’re- hieeshh! Really acting up tonight. Sorry, sorry.”

Poor Raevyn, convinced he was embarrassing all of us, certain he’d broken the mood. There was no hand on my dick now, and it jumped of its own accord in time with every sneeze, I was so excited. Then, everything died off when Perks shot me a look and spoke up.

“Don’t mind it, Raevyn. Just go ahead and sneeze,” she said.

He did. “Hieeeshhh! Bloody embarrassing... Heh-shuh!”

As we both watched her, disbelieving, she reached over to the night table near the bed, grabbed her packet and took out a clove.

“Perks, don’t. My allergies are... Hiesssh!... already killing me... Please don’t...” His cheeks were scarlet by then, and his eyes were getting that unbearably sexy glazed look.

She lit it and stuck her tongue out at us. “Raevyn, I’ve got something to tell you,” she said. I swear my heart stopped beating right then. My blood turned to ice and I felt bile rise up in the back of my throat. “It’s about this fetish I have. It totally turns me on to... see you sneeze. I love it. It drives me totally crazy.”

I just sat, still as a statue, the downy hairs on the back of my neck bristling as if I was soaking and someone had just stuck my finger into high-power voltage. I scanned Raevyn’s face for any reaction.

He sneezed again, the worst possible timing. He brought his hand up to his nose and pinched it shut, blinking a few times, while Perks blew another cloud of smoke into the air. “What? You... what?”

She said it again. “I’ve got a fetish for sneezing. I think you’re well sexy when you do it. It’s a total turn-on. So please, please stop being so embarrassed and just let it out, okay? Please. Come back to the bed.”

For the second time that night, he did as she told. He was still looking at her in amazement, all urge to sneeze having temporarily evaporated. He sat down again and she put her legs around him, that clove lingering behind his head, smoke filtering up.

“Sexy boy,” she whispered.

“That’s so cool,” he said, and looked at her in wonder. I felt like an audience member watching a horrible soap opera being filmed, like I was a million light years away though they were barely sat half a metre from me. “You serious, Perks?”

“You bet... I just love it, sneezy lad, so sexy” she whispered again and started to kiss him slowly.

“Me!” I blurted out, saying nothing, meaning everything.

“What?” Perks and Raevyn turned to face me together, as if suddenly remembering I was sat next to them.

“What about me?” I tried again, feeling suddenly very ill.

“Join us,” Perks smiled.

Raevyn leaned asides then, and sneezed quickly and quietly. It was no use - even a sneeze couldn’t break through the storm raging inside of me. I just sat there totally limp, too shocked, too shaken, too bloody angry-crazy-pissed-nauseous-disgusted-tired-jealous-overwhelmed. Bloody Perks! What had just happened? Had she really just told Raevyn that she had a fetish for sneezing, that it got her hot and bothered, and had he really just said he thought it was cool? What?

I was going to throw up. Literally. I needed to get out. I’m still not sure how I managed to get to my feet; the room was spinning wildly, and all those drinks I’d had were getting ready to find their way out of me. Raevyn didn’t mind if Perks got off on his sneezing. He thought it was ‘cool’. What about me? What about my fetish? I couldn’t tell him now, ever, could I? He’d think I was kidding, or that I was imitating Perks, or that I was... who knows?

I ran out of the room, hurriedly stuffing everything, my underwear, my extremely limp penis, back in my jeans. I needed to find the lav and empty a whole evening’s worth of excessive alcoholic consumption down the toilet. And more importantly, to get as far away from Perks and Raevyn as I possibly could. There was no way I’d ever be able to face either of them again after this. I had never felt so damned impotent as I did then.

The joke, if that’s what it was, was definitely on me. I’d been had. Perks had played her game brilliantly and won. As I drifted away in slow sloping agony, my confused mind tried to tell me that maybe this was not hell at all, but hurtful reality, perhaps a blessing in hiding. I’d learned a valuable lesson. I had been wrong, tripping myself up on the land mines in my asphalt brain the whole time. As my running footsteps echoed in the empty hallway toward unknown ground, I realized that I’d really gone to extremes trying to protect myself, and that in reality, those twisted, turning pathways had led to my own ruin. The emptiness, as I finally stumbled into the lav and emptied both my stomach and my fevered mind, filled a hollow where once a promise bloomed so fresh. But then, like a tombstone, solid and immobile, that emptiness came to reside within and I simply nodded off, cold and shivering, on the hard tile floor.

17. Perks, getting her way

It went so well. Exactly like I’d hoped it would. Raevyn came in, and once he got over the shock of seeing Paeyl and I kissing, he just came over and joined in. Brilliant! Hands and tongues everywhere, exploring, caressing, amazing. And then, even better, the clove smoke I’d blown into the air started to make Raevyn sneeze. It was so sexy; I was totally getting off on it and I knew Paeyl was too, even if he was extremely pissed. I could have shagged both of them right there.

But then, Raevyn started getting uncomfortable. You’d think it would be because of the threesome thing wouldn’t you, but no! He got all embarrassed because of the sneezing! One minute, I’ve got my hand on Paeyl’s dick- not bad, I have to say- with Raevyn kissing my breasts, and the next, I can feel his body stiffening as he’s pulling back. I wasn’t sure what was going on until he actually jumped off the bed, expression pained, and started sneezing and apologising.

I look at him then, with all sorts of twisting turning pathways unfolding in my mind, leading to desire, lust, love, hunger, thoughts clustering like serpents’ scales as I fought to collect myself. I was struggling to find what I should say, what I had to say, to ensure he didn’t leave us, leave me, because of some silly self-inflicted state of purgatory. He didn’t realize it but in his own way, he was so like Paeyl in that moment. He was blushing furiously, trapped in his shyness and inhibitions, all of this unnecessary self-abuse manifesting itself as the prison key to his homemade hell.

So I told him everything about my fetish. Everything. Both lads were shocked when I spoke, but ironically, it was Paeyl’s reaction that left me stunned.

I have no idea what happened with him. He looked like he’d just been hit in the head with a hammer. His face was ashen and he looked confused as he got up and staggered away from the bed. I was certain he’d stumble and fall before he even got to the door, but he actually made it through the room without going horizontal. Before either of us could think of anything to say, he’d left, leaving the door ajar as his footsteps quickly faded.

I can’t say I was sorry to see him go.

Raevyn turned to me, but I kept staring at the open door through which Paeyl had vanished.

“Should we go after him, do you think?” I asked, not really meaning it. I reached over and stubbed out my clove in a nearby candle.

“Leave it; he’s been stroppy all evening.” Raevyn brought his lips to my neck again, travelling up towards my mouth. “He’s just pissed.”

“Pissed, or pissed off?” I asked between kisses.

“Both.” He leaned aside and sneezed, “Hieessh! Damn.”

I laughed then, because I was delighted to see that the sneezy look was back on his face. And now that we were finally alone together, I could concentrate on enjoying Raevyn and his sneezes to the full.

It all felt so right. I forgot all about Paeyl and his lashings out, his projection of silent tears. I hadn’t been cruel out of hate or desperation, but only because of my own agonising desire. I might have abused an innocent, but it was, despite everything, unintentional. I had cast these shadows against his wall of deception and threatened his iron will. If this loss of control had led to his downfall, then so be it. The cards had been laid on the table; my hand had won. I knew he’d never forgive my display of love, masked as it was by malice, but then surely he must have known that such assaults are beyond reason’s reach?

I pulled Raevyn to me after that sneeze, hoping there would be more. I wasn’t disappointed. As I held him close, I felt him sneeze again, softly, over my shoulder. His entire body shook with it, but he held me tightly in his arms.

“Do it again,” I whispered.

And he did. Again and again and again. I just held him, pressed so close that our hearts were beating as one, feeling him rock next to me with each allergy-driven sneeze. It was bliss. When he finally let go of me as his sneezing fit tapered off, I was having more trouble breathing than he was.

There were tears pooling in the corner of his eyes and he dug a tissue out of his pocket to dab at them before blowing his nose. They were so watery, shot through with veins of pure red. I almost felt sorry for him then.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Aye,” I replied.

If he was the one asking that question in the state he was in, I must have been quite a sight to behold. Good thing there aren’t any mirrors in here, I thought as Raevyn tossed the used tissue away. He just sat there and gave me a crooked smile.

“What?” I asked.

He said, “Nothing. This is just so... odd.”

“Bad?” I asked.

I should have been flustered, I guess, but I wasn’t. He was just looking at me in such a strange way. I’m usually pretty good at picking up on people’s moods, but Raevyn can be very difficult to fathom. He wasn’t looking at me in a negative way, just, as he had put it, ‘oddly’.

“No. No, just... weird,” he said.

“Raevyn,” I began, struggling to find the right words to make him understand what telling him about my fetish had meant to me. It’s like explaining the innate vulnerability of a newborn child. “Tell me what you’re thinking. I opened my mind up and let you in to see what was hidden deep within. Why are you looking at me so strangely?”

“I was just thinking how you’ll never cease to amaze me,” he said. And sneezed again.

“I,” I replied, “am complex and fragile and burning to be with you and have you jump my bones. Is that so ‘odd’?”

Raevyn smiled and reached to pull my dress over my head. As soon as I was bare, he took off his top. From inside it, shielded from my eyes, he said,

“Maybe you should light another clove.”

I actually lit two, but I didn’t smoke them, Instead, I pitched them in an empty cup on Maze’s cluttered night table and let them burn away, sweet smoke filtering up into the room. Raevyn got naked in turn, and I wasn’t disappointed. He was just as gorgeous as I’d dreamed, his slender build pale against the shadows, the Celtic cross tattoo on his stomach contrasting sharply with the milky white of his skin. Though Raevyn isn’t outrageously skinny like some Goth-bois, I thought I could see the outline of his ribs in the candlelight. My gaze barely had time to travel lower down and register a beautiful erection that must have been about eight inches in length before he was on top of me. He was kissing me hungrily, pressing his lower body against mine, running his hands on my breasts as I wrapped my legs around him.

Even if he hadn’t had allergies, I’d have shagged him senseless right then. However, luck was on my side, and the lad of my dreams had in his own way agreed to indulge my unique interest. Those two cloves were fast at work filling the room with a new cloud of pungent smoke and it wasn’t too long before Raevyn’s sensitive nose began to pick up on it. We were actually still kissing when the urge to sneeze again reared its head, and he turned aside just in time to let loose a moderately loud “hieeshoo!”

Right after that, I snapped out of passive mode. I locked my legs around his back and drew him inside me with my hand, aiming his engorged cock right at my velvet underground. Just as he sneezed again, I drew Raevyn inside me, safe and sound. I’d never known it could be this way, my blood upon his ground. It felt so right that my mind nearly came undone.

Things had finally come full circle. As he began to rock inside me, we became one.

18. Raevyn, closing in

I didn’t know what to think when Perks told me she got off on hearing me sneeze. At first, I was taken aback, but then it suddenly dawned on me how very interesting this was. Perks is such an extraordinary bat, with so many secrets hidden away in her inner maze of idiosyncrasies. No wonder I find her fascinating; it’s one revelation after the next with this girl, and this one took me completely by surprise. It made me feel pleased though. Relieved. And then, just thinking about it, it got me aroused again.

When Paeyl fled, I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t expected that, and I had no clue what was going on. Since things had started getting heated in Maze’s bedroom, it had been like a kind of three-way trance, all of us slipping into a mood fit to burst with sexual tension. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced, and I truly hated myself for needing to break it off because of my stupid allergies. Then came Perks’ speech and Paeyl’s obviously hurt outcry and flight. But why? What had I missed?

The naked truth of the matter was, I didn’t care.

Perks asked me if I thought we should go after him, and Darkness help me, I told her no. I was ashamed of myself then, because even though he was my boyfriend, running after him was the last thing I wanted to do. I looked at Perks, and she was so beautiful, her cheeks flushed, her eyes liquid and dark, all I wanted was to be inside her. At that moment, Paeyl and his troubles just seemed so… pale.

I held my breath, waiting to see what she was going to do. She’d been in the room with Paeyl first, after all. Would she go after him? Would she desert me to run after the object of her affection?

Perks’ eyes met mine then, and what I saw there took my breath away. In that infinite instant, everything seemed to come together with an audible click. Such hunger, such desire, such love was in her gaze that I couldn’t fail to recognise the obvious. It wasn’t Paeyl whom Perks wanted; it was me.

We started kissing again, and talking, and before long, we were back in that dream-like sex-infused state where time and space seemed irrelevant and nothing seemed to matter beyond exploring each other as deeply as we could. I was still very much intrigued by Perks’ admission and told her so, even inviting her to light another clove.

The vixen needed no further invitation.

It wasn’t too long before I was sneezing again, feeling myself becoming more and more congested as my sinuses began to fill. The smoke was slowly finding its way up my nose, leisurely setting at work tickling every single receptor in my body, making me explode time after time. I’d never been in such a bizarre situation, but the effect it was having on Perks was amazing. If there had been a shred of doubt regarding what she’d told me about liking sneezes, it was made truth then.

I could tell that she was desperate to have me inside her, rocking hard and fast, filling her and taking her with me into explosive bliss, but I wanted to make the moment last. It’s so much more erotic when you take things slowly, don’t you think?

I explored every inch of her milky skin with my mouth, letting out the occasional sneeze as I did it, worried because of years of self-consciousness yet amazed by the delighted shudders that shook her body with every explosion. Had I but known it could be this easy to please someone, such power I could have had! I wondered then whether this was particular to Perks, or whether other people got turned on thus, too. Jez, downstairs, making me sneeze as she playfully blew smoke at me…

I pushed all thoughts of Jez out of my head. Perks was there, more than enough to satisfy my lust. When neither she nor I could hold back any longer, I felt Perks pull me inside her warmth. Sliding into her was like a small orgasm in itself; a sudden rush of warmth, a smooth, slippery feeling, a sharp increase in pleasure that made me groan aloud before my nose rebelled and I had to sneeze again.

Perks was loving it. I could feel her legs around my back clenching tight, locking me in and driving me on. I pressed in close to her, loving the feel of her warm, smooth skin against mine, softer than satin as we slid against one another in that unifying rhythm that has brought midnight lovers together in the shadows ever since humanity first drew breath.

As much as I was enjoying our union, I was getting increasingly sidetracked by my nose. The sneezes began coming more and more frequently, louder and harsher, and I was making little or no effort to hold them back. I could hear Perks moaning under me, and every time I looked, I could see her scanning every inch of my face between sneezes. Under other circumstances, I’d have been horribly embarrassed, but there was a peculiar sort of magic at work in the room that night and my sneezing only served to enhance what would have been already fantastic sex.

I felt and heard Perks come, grinding her pelvis against mine as she moaned, her head lolling from side to side as she cried out, “Yes, oh, oh Raevyn, yes…”

Her fingers were digging into my shoulders so hard that I knew I’d see little crescent grooves there afterward, but just then it was oh so erotic.

“Ready for more?” I enquired, rubbing my terribly itchy nose against the pillow next to her head.

“As much as you want to give me, beautiful lad,” she sighed, her hold on me relaxing.

We rocked together faster than before, Perks shifting against me, whispering sweet nothings and encouragements in my ears as I drew in and out, my allergies still going strong. I’d never had sex during an allergy attack before, and let me tell you, it was the strangest feeling. It was even odder to consider that someone else was getting incredibly turned on because of it, and turning me on as a consequence. If you can follow that.

And that’s when I felt it, that terrible upsurge, that monstrous flare-up in my nose where I know that like it or not, I was going to have to sneeze out all the accumulated irritant. I tried to warn Perks.

“Perks, I’m- huh- I’m really gonnaaah- huh-huh!- my all-aller -- heh-HIESSH!”

Far from being repulsed, I felt her legs tighten around me again and, if that was possible, she looked like she was preparing to enjoy the ride.

“Oh yes, Raevyn, make me come again. Make me come, make me come, make me come…”

I lost track of how many times she said it, trying hard to concentrate on the threefold activities that were occupying my conscious mind: continuing thrusting, enjoying this almost surreal experience, and sneezing.

I felt the muscles in her sex contract sharply around mine, clenching my shaft in an exquisitely tight, moist grip. I pistoned in and out of her even as my breathing hitched and I submitted to the rigid demand of my allergies.


I felt Perks’ entire body go taught in preparation, the fact that another orgasm was imminent barely registering through the firewall in my senses. She was arching her back, and as I felt another sneeze fast approaching, I struggled to keep moving inside her, to brand this moment deep inside the walls of her mind. I couldn’t help it though; barely a few seconds elapsed and it barrelled out of me. I took in a massive breath, gasping really, and let loose with a body crunching: “HIIEEESSSHHHUH!”

I finally managed to open my eyes then, sensing my nose had been cleared for the time being. Tears were streaming down my eyes as I continued to rock. I wasn’t yet done, but Perks was obviously still in the throes of what looked like a most excellent orgasm. In fact, she appeared to still be lost in that wonderful delirium when it was my turn to come, giving a few hard thrusts as I felt heat rush up and out of me, my seed upon her ground, laid at rest.

Happy, damp and tingling all over, we relaxed against each other, slowly coming down from the heights we had reached. Neither of us spoke a word, so fearful were we of shattering the intimacy of the moment.

I don’t know how long we stayed thus, in the glow of the candle-lit darkness, under sun and moon and stars, quite invisible. I kissed her again, slowly this time, filled with love and desire spent. Hand to hand, mouth to mouth, sex to sex, heart to heart, we became complete, we became dust.