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The Island

by P L Nunn


The Island



Home proved to be not so comfortable a place, what with emotions as they were. Misplaced guilt's, floating innuendo's, discomforting memories of even more discomforting acts. Sheer stupidity and grotesque embarrassment abounded. What had been a very nice and very commodious house, became a very dour and very unpleasant one.

Seiji was the first to take flight. They even let him go after they were certain he was whole and healthy. Physically at any rate. They were almost one hundred percent certain he wouldn't do anything dreadfully melodramatic to himself that they might hear about in the news or read about after the fact in some newspaper clipping. Ryo let him go. Didn't say much of anything about the announcement that Seiji was going home for a while. Just sort of nodded and went about whatever it was he'd been about that day and Seiji had gone about his packing and his planning and been out of there before dark. Sai had said, later in the comfort of soft sheets and warm bodies, that Seiji had looked a bit stricken after Ryo had shrugged off the announcement - -

Stricken? Seiji generally did not do stricken.

"Well, you know, sort of disappointed that Ryo hadn't made more of a fuss over it." Sai had explained. Which meant maybe Seiji had flinched, or maybe he'd frowned a bit and Sai who tended to be overdramatic had translated that out to be stricken.

Rowan who tended not to be overdramatic figured things would work themselves out. Seiji couldn't stay home long without losing what was left of his mind. Home for Seiji meant bedding down with the nest of vipers who passed as his relatives. All of them traditionally Japanese to a fault and all of them bitterly resentful of two generations of occidental blood running predominately in the veins of the heir to the family empire. The lot of them would probably applaud if he did spin over the edge and commit hara-kiri and praise him for doing the right thing finally. Probably the only praise he'd ever get from them.

Two days later Ryo filled the jeep with camping gear and declared to all the world that he was going on a road trip and that 'no' he didn't want company and that 'no' he didn't know where he was going and 'no' he didn't want to take a cell-phone with him and would Sai stop nagging him and he'd be back when he was back.

Which left Sai and Kento and Rowan the house all to themselves. Rowan and Kento would have been fine with it. Rowan had a newly acquired video game that he and Kento could have happily spent hours upon hours competing at. Sai wouldn't have been happy with that routine. Sai got bored watching Rowan and Kento curse at the television screen and systematically yank control wires out of the video game in the manic pantomime of their mock fighting.

"We really ought to go somewhere too," was Sai's firm estimation. "We really do deserve a nice long vacation. Seiji and Ryo were smart enough to get away after all - -"

Rowan would hardly have called it smart, but he didn't voice that opinion.

Whatever, where do you want to go? Was Rowan's answer. He still had in his possession a piece of plastic with so far untapped reserves and as long as the owner of said plastic did not demand it back, he had no reservations over using it to his heart's content.

The beach, of course was Sai's first choice and Rowan groaned and complained that Sai always wanted to go to the beach and that there was only so much surf and sand that Rowan could take and not get ill.

Well, perhaps someplace where there's beach and other things to do as well? A very hopeful query.

Interesting things. Gambling, maybe. Gambling was nice. Rowan hadn't visited a nice casino in such a long time.

The internet, Sai decided, was the place to scout out such a place. Rowan and Kento were inclined to let Sai sit and reprimand the computer for hours for its lack of cooperation, while they battled each other downstairs, their asses planted firmly on the couch, their fingers working frantically over controllers.

When Sai finally descended, victorious, the both of them were drinking beers, engrossed in a season's old episode of Bay Watch or one of its incarnations.

"Ha!" he brandished an accusatory finger at Rowan. "And you said you weren't interested in the beach."

Rowan looked from the bodacoius bouncing babe running on the TV screen to Sai in the doorway of the den, lifted a brow and said dryly. "It ain't the beach we're looking at."

"Well, its the beach we're going." Sai said. "I've made reservations and bought airline tickets. I love the internet.'

Rowan blinked. Kento did.

"You figured out how to do all that?" Rowan was incredulous. Sai could hardly figure out how to turn the thing on.

"I did."

"What beach?" Rowan demanded.

"A little resort on Camotes island in the Philippines. I've read wonderful things about it."

"The Philippines." Rowan exclaimed. "Its hot and sweaty and full of bugs there. I don't want to go to the Philippines."

"You've never been. You have no idea what you're talking about. Its tropical and the beaches are unspoiled -- at least where we're going. And there's a gambling casino in the resort and lots of drinks with umbrellas and hiking and horseback riding and all sorts of other things to do."

"Why'd you pick this place?" Kento wanted to know.

"Oh, you'll love it, Kento." Sai pounced on him since Rowan was being unenthusiastic. "I read about it on the National Geographic site. They've recently found the most spectacular old ruins there. They're equating the find to the statues on Easter Island, can you imagine. We'll even be able to take guided tours of the excavation sites."

"Ruins suck." Rowan groused. "I've seen all the ancient ruins I'll ever want to, thank you very much."

"Well, you don't have to go. Kento and I will go, right Kento?"

Kento shrugged. "I'm game."

"You use Seiji's credit card?" Rowan asked.

Sai sniffed and mimicked Rowan's excuse. "Well - - he didn't ask for it back."

"He was too fucked up to know we had it, moron." Rowan laughed. "You think I went up and told him how much I'd put on it after he dried out?"

Sai sniffed again, and with a toss of his hair turned and headed back upstairs. "Our flight leaves tomorrow morning, so the two of you ought to think about what you want to pack, because rain or shine, we are going to the beach, understand?"

And that was that. There was no arguing one's way out of it. Sai was determined. Sai had spent money. A good chunk of money. A good chunk of someone else's money. And they were going to the Philippines for a week of fun and relaxation in the balmy tropic sun.

They had to charter a boat out of Cebu once they'd landed on that central island. The Camotes consisted of three smaller islands just off the Northeastern tip of Cebu. There was no airstrip on the Camotes, but there was a good deal of water traffic. The native boatman who ferried them across explained that the Comotes islands had become suddenly very popular since the statues were found. The people of the area were thrilled at the added revenue.

It was exceedingly beautiful. White sand beaches, waving palms, a lazy white washed resort that sat on a hill overlooking the ocean. Like something out of an episode of Fantasy Island. All it lacked was a midget running up the dock calling "De boat. De boat."

They hauled their luggage -- well Sai hauled luggage and Kento and Rowan shouldered their single duffel bags and strolled up the long wooden pier to the path leading up from the beach to the resort. There were a few people on the beach, native children from the look of small brown bodies. A few adults further down, sunning under half mast beach umbrellas.

It was comfortable and elegant in a breezy, islandy sort of way inside the lobby. A ceiling fan stirred air-conditioned air. There was a laid back feel to the place, with its wicker furniture and its potted palms that made a body feel at home almost right away. A native woman greeted them from behind the reception desk. To her left, were a pair of glass doors leading to a dining room, to her right another set of doors that led into what appeared to be a bar and lounge area.

"Where's the gambling?" Rowan leaned into Sai to demand. "You said 'casino'. I distinctly heard casino come out of your mouth."

The receptionist smiled broadly at them, all white teeth against dark skin and crinkling Asiatic eyes. "Gambling." She agreed, waving a hand to the bar side of the lobby. "There are private games that start every night after dinner. High stake and low. Your choice."

"Low. Definitely." Sai proclaimed. "And you have a limit."

"What limit?" Rowan asked, offended.

Sai gave him a look and a stern finger, then pasted his smile back on and turned to ask after their reservations.

Kento was gawking at a young woman just come into the lobby from outside. A very busty young red head in a bikini top and a khaki shorts, dark sunglasses perched on the top of her head and the sort of face you saw on sport's illustrated swimsuit models.

"Check it." Kento nudged Rowan in almost fully healed ribs.

"Ow." Rowan grunted and looked over the rims of his own shades at the resplendent young female. "Hot."

Kento mutely nodded agreement, entranced. Most certainly in immediate love. His eyes widened as she spotted them and instantly changed direction, stalking towards them as if she were on a mission.

"Hello." She said with forceful enthusiasm. Kento swallowed. Rowan lifted a brow and smiled suavely.


"I've been waiting for you." She announced. "You're days late."

"I don't feel late." Rowan said. "In fact, I feel like my timing's looking up."

She blinked at him. At Kento, who shrugged helplessly, a blush staining his broad cheeks.

"Are you from the university?" She asked suspiciously.

"No. Is that a prerequisite?" Rowan inquired.

She let out a frustrated breath. "Oh, god, they're still not here. How am I supposed to function with no proper help, that's what I want to know? Someone's going to hear about this, let me tell you."

Rowan shrugged. Kento kept staring at her chest. She threw up her hands and bounced away.

"You're drooling." Rowan observed. Kento snapped his mouth shut.

"Who was that?" Sai wanted to know.

"The future bride of our blushing boy, here."

"Shut up, Rowan." Kento cast him a reproachful glare.

"Maybe you can get lucky while you're here. Get yourself a prime piece of as- - -"

"You're crude."

"Shut up!"

Sai and Kento snapped at him in unison.

"I don't know why I ever bother to take you anywhere." Sai huffed and waggled a key at them. "We have a bungalow on the beach. Isn't that splendid?"

"Wonderful." Rowan agreed. "They do have room service, don't they?"

"Of course they have room service."

A native bell boy shouldered the majority of Sai's luggage and trudged out a side door with the three of them on his heels. Down a pleasantly landscaped path from which they could see a large pool with hottubs bubbling at its edge and a straw hut that doubled as a wet bar around which several people sat sipping decorative tropical drinks. Rowan sighed, thinking of icy concoctions with pineapple and umbrellas and ungodly amounts of alcohol. Down the winding path made of natural stepping stones, through a brief section of manicured tropical rainforest and they came to a row of quaint little bungalow cabins. They were far enough away from each other to afford a modicum of privacy. Each had a little shaded front porch. A few had inviting hammocks strung between drooping palm trees. The beach could be seen through the sparse palms, perhaps two hundred yards away. Sai sighed in almost sexual ecstasy. There was a hammock. There was booze. Sai was certain to put out and keep putting out as long as he was happily ensconced by the ocean. Rowan began to feel quite good about this impromptu trip.

Sai went hurdling off to the beach right away. He was so excited that he hardly waited to unpack his things before changing into his swim trunks and scrambling off. Rowan took a moment to familiarize himself with what was to be his home for the next week or two. A rather nicely appointed little shack, he thought. A comfy living room with a TV - - thank all the gods -- wicker furniture and a mini kitchen complete with wetbar. There were two small bedrooms in the back that shared a full bath. Good. Meant Kento wouldn't spend half his time on the couch. He turned the AC up. Tossed his duffel on the bed of his and Sai's room and suggested to Kento a trip up to the poolside bar.

They trudged back up the path and got themselves tropical drinks with all the proper adornments, then sat at the bar and scoped all the half naked bodies lounging by the pool.

"She's hot." Rowan leered at one fresh-faced, lithe young thing.

"She's like fourteen." Kento said. "And it looks like she's got a boyfriend."

"Humm, he's not bad either."

"You've got a boyfriend."

"He'd rather swim with the fish."

Kento gave him a disgusted look. Rowan sipped his drink and smiled.

They went exploring after that, just a little tipsy on two drinks after a morning of traveling with nothing but airplane food. They found the stables where horses could be rented out by the day with maps of the island and prepackaged picnic lunches. They found all number of hiking expeditions, of fishing forays, shopping and drinking in the town down the road from the resort. Gambling of a more mundane nature. There was hang gliding off the cliffs that Rowan made a mental note to take advantage of.

And then there were the statues. The newest archeological find that had stunned the world. There were guided tours of that as well. Four months ago there had supposedly been some sort of seismic disturbance that had shaken the island to its core. The side of a mountain had literally collapsed near the more overgrown central section of the island. Beneath all that dirt the statues had been discovered. Old as Stonehenge maybe, the pamphlets claimed. As much a cultural mystery perhaps as the relics on Easter island. There was a picture of the archeological team in charge of the dig on the back page of the little printed brochure. In the midst of them was the very redhead who had accosted them in the lobby that afternoon.

Kento gaped and stood there clutching the paper in his big hands like it was scripture and he'd just seen the light.

"That's her." Kento said. "She's - - she's like an archeologist."

"No, she is an archeologist, according to this."

"Like Indiana Jones." Kento's hero. Kento in awe.

"Indiana Jones didn't have a rack like that. Although her with a bull whip could be interesting."

Of course they signed up for the next tour. Tomorrow morning bright and early. There was nothing to do but make their leisurely way back to the resort after that. Sai was out of the water and waiting for them at the bungalow, scowling somewhat that they'd abandoned him all the afternoon. Rowan made him forget about the tiff by asking if the reef here was nice and what interesting fish had he seen? Sai went about naming the various species off with energetic glee and Rowan and Kento exchanged looks over his head as they trailed behind him up the path towards the resort for dinner and hopefully a bit of gaming.

The food was wonderful. The drinks were blissfully sweet. Rowan had a collection of little paper umbrella's in his shirt pocket. They wondered into the bar and were assaulted by a lounge singer attempting an unfortunate imitation of Neal Diamond. Oh, terror of terrors. Sweet Caroline was being belted out. Thankfully Rowan was too tanked to be fully repulsed by it. Sai was softly humming along. Kento was scanning the crowd in the lounge, hopeful for a sight of his redheaded goddess. She wasn't there. Six tables of chance were. One roulette table, five games of card in progress. Rowan sighed and slipped into an empty chair at what appeared to be the Black Jack game. Sai stood guard at his back, making sure he didn't loose more than his limit.

He didn't quite recall how much he'd lost when he came to the next morning, sprawled in bed, half clothed. Sai was nowhere to be seen. Out at the beach no doubt, surfing or swimming, snorkeling or diving. If it had to do with water, Sai was all for it. Rowan wasn't so enthusiastic. Rowan groaned and threw an arm over his eyes at the band of light coming in from the half opened window slats. The sound of Kento banging around in the living room was loud enough to wake the dead. Or the miserably hungover.

"Will you shut up?" he squawked through the half open door.

"You up yet?" Kento stuck his head into the bedroom.

"Do I look like I'm up?" Rowan stuck his head under a pillow and tried to will Kento away. Kento wasn't so easy to will. Kento pounded up to the bed and shook Rowan rather vigorously.

"Get up. We're gonna be late."

Any number of replies came to mind. Rowan managed not to voice any of them, instead asking blankly. "Late for what?"

"The tour, dumbass! Jeeze. I asked Sai if he wanted to come, but he was all hyped about some school - - is that the word for it or is it pod? - - of dolphins or porpoises or whatever, that he'd spotted out beyond the reef this morning."

"God, slow down. Tour? Oh. That tour. Do we hafta?"

"Yes. Get up." Kento latched onto Rowan's arm and dragged him up from under pillow and blankets.

"Careful. Careful. I'm still tender." Rowan shooed Kento away.

"Yeah, whatever. Shower, dress and get your ass into gear."

"Okay. God, we're 'sposed to be on vacation here, y'know."

He showered. He dressed. He got his ass in gear. With dark shades firmly in place, his hair still tousled and wet from the shower, he trudged up the path in Kento's wake. Kento was way too active for this time of morning. Well, it was almost noon, truth be told, but he was still considering it early morn. His head felt like it was half past five latest.

"This better not involve a fuckload of walking." He groused.

But of course it did. Even though they and the six other tourists who'd elected to take the tour today got a ride in a battered mini-van to the outskirts of all known civilization, they still had to walk to the trail leading to the interior of the island where the ruins had been discovered.

Rowan sighed and took it like man, only complaining occasionally of sore ribs or other various fading bodily annoyances. When they finally reached the edge of the excavation site, there was a wizened little only man in khaki shorts and a battered safari hat. A few native workmen loitered near the tents set up at the end of the trail.

"Welcome to the most amazing discovery since Tutankhamun." The old man's wavering voice announced. Kento's disappointment was palpable.

"Cheer up, man," Rowan consoled him, as the old man began to slowly walk up the trail towards a cleared area of the forest. "Just think, she probably out thwarting nazi's, fighting off creepy crawlies, finding legendary artifacts - -"

"Shut up, Ro."

Rowan grinned. The old man droned on about the seismic disturbance that had unearthed this incredible discovery. About how the artifacts most certainly predated any Spanish discovery of the islands and very probably most Asiatic settlement.

They were halfway up the path when Kento brightened, elbowing Rowan painfully in the side and whispering frantically. "Look. Look there she is!" And low and behold, the selfsame young woman came bouncing down the path, dressed identically to the old man, but filling out the ensemble in a much more aesthetically pleasing manner.

"I'm sorry I'm late Dr. Hillborne." She apologized, giving the tour group an almost resentful glance. "I was finishing up with the third statue."

"Oh, no problem at all, Professor Dreskel. I'm glad to talk to these fine people -- who I'm sure will donate generously to the excavation fund." He smiled. She did, though hers was distinctively more plastic. Rowan got the feeling that she didn't appreciate having to provide tours for the casually curious.

"Hello." She said. "I'm Professor Karen Dreskel and myself and Dr. Hillborne are directing this fabulous find. He's explained no doubt how the statues were uncovered. For the past several months we've been working to uncover the bulk of the artifacts." She talked as she walked and the pace picked up, Karen having by far more energy than the old man, who lagged behind, no doubt content to leave the task of tour guide to her.

Up the steep path to a large area on the side of a hill that had been swept clear of trees and foliage. Not supposedly by the efforts of man so much as the mudslide that had take out a portion of the hill and revealed the statues hidden beneath thousands of years of accumulated debris. The area was partitioned off in squares were a few native diggers were going about archeological hard labor. The statues themselves almost weren't visible at first, brown against brown, snuggled up tight against the hill, only gradually being separated from the clinging dirt and rock behind them by the labors of man. There were three of them almost fully uncovered. Great towering things, four times the height of a man, undulating and smooth in their manufacture, protected by weather and time by the insulation of earth. Almost they looked like - - large, crouching birds with their wings held tight against their bodies. Almost, but not quite. Not much in the way of realism.

"Are they supposed to be birds?" Someone from the group asked.

"We're not quite certain what they represent - -" Karen Dreskel started, "nor who made them, though a cultural reference would go far in explaining their meaning."

"They're dragons." Rowan said, staring up at the closest one. At the way the body undulated, at the long neck that curled down over the chest.

"Ah." Karen lifted a brow in his direction and nodded. "Actually, that's what we've come think among ourselves - - but we can't be sure yet. The first inhabitants of these islands were certainly from Asia when migration took place after the last Ice Age when land bridges connected the archipelago to mainland Asia and Borneo. In fact the oldest human fossils remains are found in Palawan on the western fringe of the Philippines. Legends of dragon and dragon type creatures has long been part and partial of many an Asian culture, those these statues predate the earliest written recorded history."

She went on and Kento followed her words raptly, while Rowan wondered a bit closer to the foot of the statue, daring to skirt the twine line separating it from the trodden path and brush his fingertips along the cool rock surface.

Old and interesting - - but not worth the walk up here, he thought. Though a photo at the foot of the thing would be nice.

"Please, don't touch." Karen said sternly and he looked over his glasses at her, silently wondering what damage he was likely to do a thing that had survived this long. He didn't voice it. He shrugged and stepped away, enduring Kento's disapproving stare.

The tour lasted twenty minutes and they were allowed to roam about the cordoned off walkways gawking at the dragon statues for another fifteen under the watchful eye of Karen Dreskel. Then she finally herded them out and announced how happy she'd been to show them the site and to please buy a souvenir postcard or make a donation on the way out. Rowan didn't believe she was happy at all. Rowan thought she was indignant as hell over having to endure their presence. Kento hesitated, lagging behind, all nervous and flustered and trying to gather the balls to do some monumental thing.

"You wanna say something to her, go say something to her and stop acting like a friggen' eight year old with his first crush."

He got a glare for that. Kento wasn't very good at the glare thing. Seiji had him beat hands down. Sai ran a close second. He had maybe Ryo beat on delivering the evil eye, but still, he wasn't very intimidating.

Kento ambled up the hill a bit, following on the tracks of Professor Dreskel who'd abandoned the group to one of the native workers.

"So - - um - - hi - -" he managed to mumble just loud enough to gain her attention. She turned about, a furrow between her brows at being accosted when she obviously wished to get back to work.


"So - - um - - did the people you were waiting for, ever get here?" He got the ball back from a near fumble. Her mouth twitched in irritation, but it was clearly not at him.

"No." She said in exasperation. "And they're not coming. It appears the university has more worthy things to spend my funding on. My funding. They say native workers are more cost effective - - but even they're starting to desert the dig because of some stupid superstition."

"Those native religions suck, don't they?" Rowan remarked to the air at lodge and she tossed him a nasty look.

"I didn't say religion. I said superstition. There's a difference."

Rowan shrugged and started studying the closest statue.

"You're short handed?" Kento asked.

She sniffed. "That's an understatement, so you'll understand why I don't have time to waste."

"I'd be happy to help out. I've got a strong back. I love to dig things up and - - and this stuff just fascinates me."

She cocked her head thoughtfully, assessing his claims. "It doesn't pay." She warned.

"Oh, it'd be an adventure. No pay necessary."

"Just like Indiana Jones." Rowan commented from down the slope. Kento's fists clenched a little.

"No pay?" A slight smile crept back over Karen's face. "All right. I can't turn down a good offer of help when we need it so badly. And your friend, is he interested in helping too?"

"No." Rowan and Kento said in unison. "He's recovering from an accident." Kento explained quickly. "Still complaining of sore ribs and all that."

"I'm on vacation." Rowan clarified, lifting his glasses and peering up at them.

"Oh, well, if you change your mind - -" She half smiled down at him.

"So, when can I help- -?" Kento shifted to block her view of Rowan.

Rowan went back to the resort alone. He kept chuckling on the trip back, half wishing he had stayed just to watch all of Kento's bumbling attempts at being smooth. He had the feeling that particular lady would be a hard nut to crack. But, hanging around a muddy dig site was in no way his notion of a relaxing, entertaining time. Flinging himself in the hammock outside the bungalow on the beach was a much more attractive idea.

He did just that, when he couldn't find hide nor hair of Sai. Lay there in the shade and the cool ocean breeze and drifted off happily. Came to when the hammock swung and dipped and warm weight settled against his side.

"Ummmm. Where have you been?" He murmured without opening his eyes.

"Walking the beach." Sai felt bare from the waist up. One foot lazily rubbed up and down Rowan's calf. "I must have gone for miles and miles and its all so beautiful. So peaceful. I'm glad we came here instead of one of the more touristy islands. Did you and Kento see the artifacts?"

"Up close and personal." Rowan agreed, sighing as Sai ran his fingers up under his t-shirt, casually stroking his stomach. "Kento volunteered his services. He's still up there."

"Really? How nice of him."

"Nice -- smice. He's all hot over the girl running the show. You remember the redhead in the lobby?"

"Oh, her. She seemed a little abrupt to me."

"She is a little abrupt, but hey, love is blind."

"He only just saw her."

"Okay, let me clarify; lust is blind. Or shortsighted at least."

"Hummm." Sai rolled onto his side, pressing closer, bringing a knee up to graze across Rowan's crotch. "It seems to me lust has very good vision. So when exactly is Kento expected back?"

Rowan found he didn't particularly care when Kento returned, as long as Sai's kept doing what he was doing. Although doing out here, with another bungalow fifty yards away through a sparse dotting of palms was making him a little wary. He thought he'd seen a set of preteen girl's coming and going from that bungalow accompanied by a pair of yuppy-ish looking parents. He'd hate to have an audience in this endeavor.

"Um, Sai - - let's go inside, okay?"

Sai's fingers had maneuvered the button open on his shorts. "We should go down to the beach and do it in the surf." Sai breathed against his neck - - which brazen statement made him blink and reassess the cause of this amorous mood.

"Have you been sampling the tropical drinks, Sai?"

"Ummm." Sai agreed. "I like the red one's best. I was waiting for you to come back after I'd finished my walk. Must have passed me right by."

"Must have. Listen, I hate sand in my shorts, so let's do the beach later and go inside."

Rowan's back hit the bed and Sai fell on top of him, laughing. Tipsy, but not tipsy enough not to catch his weight on his arms, mindful of all the fading bruises and the recently broken bones. Sai was very careful of Rowan. Had been very careful, to Rowan's sometimes disgust, for two months now. Rowan didn't mind a little pain if it came hand in hand with pleasure. Of course Sai didn't see it that way. Sai wasn't much for pain at all, but he was very good at the pleasure part when he was of a mind.

He was of a mind now and Rowan bit his lip and pressed his head into the pillows in a grunt of sensation as Sai finished unfastening his shorts and pressed his mobile mouth over the bulge under Rowan's briefs. He breathed Sai's name along with a few other things; helpfully lifted his hips to let Sai work the shorts down his legs, shivering in anticipation when the briefs followed and he was free from that constriction. He slipped a hand down and touched himself as Sai knelt at the end of the bed, divesting him of his clothing. Stared at Sai with slitted eyes as Sai kicked off his own swimtrunks and crawled back up between Rowan's legs, shifting Rowan's hand away and replacing it with his own, and the glorious wet heat of his mouth. All rough, velvet tongue sliding up the underside of his erection.

Sai seemed to have things firmly in control, so Rowan shut his eyes and lay back to enjoy the fruits of the labor. Curled his fingers in the soft sheets as he felt himself swallowed to the hilt, encased in all that moist warmth, with just the hint of teeth scraping against flesh here and there to lend an edge to the experience. Arched his body in a flash of intense pleasure and Sai wrapped his hands under the small of his back, pressing himself closer, then backing off and teasing sensitive flesh with little whiffs of breath, a wash of tongue here a sensual glide of lips there. More teasing than Rowan could blithely lay there and deal with. With a grunt and a twisting roll worthy of any WWF wrestling star he reversed positions, himself firmly on top, thighs pressed against Sai's hips, hands pressed down on the mattress next to Sai's head. Leaned down and caught Sai's mouth with his own, tasting himself in the wetness lingering on Sai's lips.

"Play with me, will you?" he murmured and Sai smiled against his mouth, twining his fingers in Rowan's hair.

"Thank you." Sai whispered back, lifting his hips, rubbing the length of their cocks against each other.

"For - - what?' Hard to concentrate when slick, hot flesh slid along slick, hot flesh.

"For coming."

"I - - haven't - - yet."

"Not that, stupid." Sai laughed. "To the beach with me."

"Oh. That."

"Oh, that." Sai echoed, opening his mouth for another kiss. He slid his fingers over Rowan's shoulders, down his back to his ass, stroking and kneading flesh while Rowan ground their hips together. Down to Sai's long neck, nibbled at the salty skin in the hollow of his throat, felt the beat of his pulse against his lips.

Ah, ecstasy. Pure and simple.

"Wait a - - sec - -" he made a desperate roll to the wicker lamp table and the small travel bag perched there. Dragged it over and fumbled for a tube of coconut scented lube. Sai's hands and mouth were on his body the whole operation, which made it damned hard to get the cap off, made him squirt a glob of the stuff on the bedcovers before his aim steadied enough to get it in his palm. He got himself ready in record time then leaned forward between Sai's spread legs, catching a knee and a thigh and searching blindly for the entry into bliss.

Ah, there. The tip of himself found a place that gave way with a little effort. Sai moaned and arched upwards, generously opening for Rowan. Generously encasing him in mind-blowing heat and soul-searing tightness, mumbling encouragement all the time - - as if Rowan needed it. As if his body didn't know exactly what rhythm to pick up. Exactly what angle to pump that would make Sai crazy-mad. Oh, he loved it when Sai screamed in passion. Loved it when Sai met him thrust for thrust, and Sai's fingers bit into his flesh with bruising force on the outside while he invaded Sai from within. His favorite pastime in all the world, he thought. No place he'd rather be, when you got right down to it, than skin to skin with Sai.

Sai came, his sex held tight in both his own and Rowan's hands. Rowan allowed himself release a moment later and collapsed into a contented, sweaty pile of limbs next to him. For a while, they lay there, breathing, letting the air from the slowly turning fan cool the sweat from their skin.

"So maybe - -" Rowan said slyly, curling a finger in Sai's hair. "After it gets dark and the kids next door have to bed, we could walk down the beach and have a roll in the sand. Might be fun."

"Hummm - - I thought you hated sand in your shorts?"

"I do. I hate sand most places on my body - - but you know - - I might be convinced to tolerate it - - for a little while."

Sai laughed, a drowsily sounding chuckle. "Okay, I'll show you where the dolphin's swim."

"Oh, my they really are - - big." Sai stood in the mud and peered up at the statues. One of the ones that had only been partially uncovered the first time Rowan had come out here was now bare down to its ankles - - or whatever knobby protrusions passed for its feet. They hadn't seen hide nor hair of Kento for the last two days, so one could presumably guess that he was in part responsible for the unveiling. He was dirt covered and happy, standing there with his shovel and his brush, preening in the presence of Karen Dreskel.

"There's like another one over there." Kento pointed to a mount of dirt yet to be uncovered. "She wants to start on that one this week."

"Whatever are they for?" Sai asked, blinking accumulated mist out of his lashes. It had started drizzling that morning and hadn't let up through lunch. With nothing better to do than lie about the bungalow and fuck - - and they'd done that all morning until even Rowan was tired of the bump and grind - - they'd decided to go and see how Kento was spending his vacation.

"Karen thinks they were some sort of religious idols. We've found what might be traces of alters in the area."

"Well that's charming." Rowan kicked a bit of mud down the slope. "What do people sacrifice to dragon gods?"

Kento shrugged. "I dunno. Virgins?"

"Oh, buddy, you better hope they don't come back then. You'd be in deep shit."

"Shut up, Rowan." Kento glowered and looked about hastily to see if his goddess was within hearing range. She wasn't quite, but she was edging closer. Not wanting to be embarrassed in front of her by Rowan, Kento grabbed Sai's arm and hauled him into a forced tour of the dirtier side of the excavation.

"Did you come back to help?" She stomped up to Rowan, her timberlands so caked with mud they were almost unidentifiable.

"I don't even like to dig things up when I'm not on vacation." He said. "Besides, I'm recuperating."

"Recuperating from what?" He could have sworn she batted her lashes at him.

"Getting my ass kicked by one of my best friends who at the time was possessed by the ghost of a dead Egyptian queen." He deadpanned.

"No, really." She was almost smiling at him. It made him uncomfortable, like she was sizing him up for dinner.

"An accident. Just an accident."

"Oh. You ought to be more careful."

"Yeah." He craned his neck to see where Kento and Sai were.

"So, its just the three of you guys here, Kento says?"

"Um hum." He agreed.

"So how long are you staying?"

"You know, I didn't think to ask. Silly me."

"I swear to god, she was flirting with me." He told Sai after they'd left.

"Oh, that's just nonsense." Sai retorted. "Why would she flirt with you?"

Rowan arched a brow and managed to look offended. "Whatdaya mean, why would she flirt with me? Why do you flirt with me?"

"I don't flirt with anyone. And I'm sure its your imagination. Besides which, Kento would be very upset with you."

"With me? I wasn't flirting with her!"

Sai rolled his eyes. "You flirt with everyone."

"I do not!"

"Oh, you do so. You act like the biggest slut, sometimes, Rowan."

Rowan opened his mouth, gasping at the audacity. Sai waved a hand at him in dismissal and continued strolling down the row of booths in the town market. Sullenly, Rowan trudged after, fishing in his pocket for a smoke just to annoy Sai who was constantly after him to quit.

"I smell that." Sai said without turning, therefore saving himself the byrd that Rowan flipped him in response.

A dreary morning turned into a dreary and much wetter afternoon. Rowan worried about hurricane's and being swept away by the ocean in their little hut by the sea. Sai told him he was being ridiculous. Sai seemed confident that there were no tropical storm's brewing, as if Sai had an inside track on the matter of maritime weather. Maybe he did. Who the hell knew. They went up to the resort for dinner and a little judicious gambling. The sound of rain was muffled and distant inside the big building. Not nearly so prominent as out in their bungalow. They ran back through the ran when Rowan was out of cash and stood laughing and dripping in the lee of the door while Rowan fished for the door key. It got snatched open before he could retrieve it and Kento stood there, absolutely beaming.

He was wet too, but he smelled strongly of coconut and soap so he must have just stepped from the shower.

"What are you leering about?" Rowan asked, stepping inside, pulling off his drenched shirt and tossing it in the general direction of the open bathroom door.

"Dinner." Kento's grin widened.

"Yeah, so what?"

"I had it with - - her." He pronounced the 'her' like he was speaking of the messiah.

"What, with Karen?"

Kento nodded enthusiastically.

"Well that's nice." Sai patted Kento on the arm like he might a particularly proud dog that had come up to him wagging its tail, with a dead bird in its jaws. "If you like that sort of girl."

Rowan gave Sai a sidelong look. "Hard not to like a girl with a set of - -"

"Rowan!" Sai narrowed his eyes at him. Kento was flying too high to even notice.

"Knockers like those." Rowan muttered under his breath.

"Did you ask her out?" Sai wanted to know.

Kento colored and shuffled his feet, like the biggest ten year old in the world with his first crush. "Yeah. And at first she said no - - cause she was busy with her work and all - - then she changed her mind and we went into town after the dig closed down. We talked for like - - an hour."

"Oh, how nice." Sai said encouragingly. "That's very lovely. So she's nicer when you get to know her?"

Kento blinked at Sai's honestly asked question. Rowan snorted.

"Of course she's nice." Kento said. "She's really dedicated and really frustrated that her funding's being cut."

"So all's you talked about were those dragon idol things?" Rowan asked.

"No. We talked about all sorts of stuff." Kento said defensively. "We talked about her going to school and me and you guys."

"What about us guys?" Rowan asked carefully, wondering just how far Kento in a fit of nervous babbling, would go to impress a possibly interested female.

Kento drew his brows and snapped. "I didn't tell her about the armors or anything for pete's sake. She just wanted to know why we didn't bring our girlfriends and all."

"And you told her - - what?"

Kento blushed again. "I just told her we were on vacation and that we didn't have girlfriends. Geeze. Its not like I was gonna blurt out that the two of you are sleeping together."

Rowan lifted a brow. Sai pouted and said in an offended tone. "Well, it's not that terrible a thing. I'm not ashamed of it. I don't see why you should be."

Kento got that look on his face that plainly said he'd floundered into waters that were drowning deep and wasn't quite sure how to get himself out of them.

"You're not, are you Rowan?" Sai was obviously feeling a little testy. Rowan smiled benevolently. "Course not, baby. Let's call your mom right now and break the news."

Sai paled. Sai glared. Sai muttered something inarticulate and stalked off to rid himself of wet clothes. Rowan smiled sweetly at his back, then at Kento's flustered front.

"So," he asked. "Did you touch any bases?"

Rowan wasn't much for snorkeling and he never had gotten the hang of scuba diving despite Sai's most valiant attempts to turn him into a mechanical lunged fish. The claustrophobia got to him every time. He'd panic and forget his breathing and take in either too much oxygen or too little and end up with Sai dragging his sorry ass back to solid ground. Sai had given up trying to teach him forever ago. He didn't even attempt to get Rowan out this time around and Rowan was more than happy just to linger around the beach, occasionally romping in the waves. He got sunburn on his nose and shoulders and Sai scolded him for not keeping track of his sunscreen.

It was nice to get off the beach and into the lush tropical forest. They'd rented horses for the morning and gotten a catered picnic lunch and a map of the riding trails from the stable master. It was a nice ride. Cool and peaceful under the canopy of forest. Colorful birds squawked at them and drooping tropical flowers oozed their heavenly perfume. Sai was all for letting the horses - - which knew the beaten tracks by heart follow their own lead. Rowan had never been one for following the tried and true trail and veered off into the woods, feeling adventuresome.

It was an amicable morning, even though one had to assume that after a few hours of riding, thigh muscles were going to be screaming protest by that night. Lunchtime found them in a nice little grotto at the foot of a waterfall mostly obscured by the growth of the forest. There was a placid, clear pool at the foot of the 100 foot fall, and a shallow, tumbling brook that lead down from it, into the forest and eventually, one had to assume, out into the ocean. Since there was no clear trail leading to this picturesque place they had stumbled upon, they had to assume it was no popular tourist stop. Sai, of course, took pictures, his handy camera never far from his person when he wasn't immersed in the ocean.

They ate lunch on the flat rocks by the pool, letting the horses pull at tender leaves by the edge of the wood. As if Sai hadn't gotten enough of swimming in the ocean, he insisted on wading into the pool. It wasn't a half bad notion though, having worked up a sweat riding all morning and smelling somewhat of horse. An even better idea when Sai shucked off all his clothes, and slid into the water naked. Oh, a very good notion indeed, which Rowan emulated with all haste. The water was cooler than the surf, but one had to assume the source of it was ground fed. It was fresh and clear and felt better on the skin somehow than the salt water of the ocean. There was no sand churning about in it, to wedge itself in the crevices of one's body.

Even at the deepest, it wasn't higher than their shoulders and they waded out just within the reach of the spray from the water fall, encased in the blue shadow of the cliff face.

"This is nice." Rowan sighed at the incongruity between Sai's warm skin and the coolness of the water. Sai's arms slid around his back and Sai's body leaned into him. Just stood there, getting spattered with spray, listening to the rustle of the horses and the rush of the falls and the background sound of birds and insects - - like something out of a movie - - or a half asleep fantasy. Peaceful and sweet and erotic.

"I told you." Sai pressed his forehead against Rowan's. "You never believe me."

"I always believe you."

Sai smiled and urged Rowan backwards, grazing his lips with a kiss as he did. There was a flat rock protruding from the water. Smooth and warm and just wide enough to lay back on if one's legs were dangling in the water. Sai's hand found his half flaccid member and languidly urged it to attention. Rowan groaned and found Sai and did him a similar service.


Rowan nestled his face in the hollow of Sai's shoulder, suckling at the tender flesh in the hollow of his neck, mind whirling with the calculations of the most suitable position to undertake this with the limited and none to soft space they had to work with. "Humm?"

"Would you look at that." Sai was staring up at something past Rowan's shoulder, his head tilted and his eyes intensely curious. His hands had ceased in their exploration of Rowan's body.

"What?" Rowan was trying very hard not to be distracted from his purpose.

"Doesn't that look like one of those things Kento is digging up with that woman?"

Rowan stared down at Sai, blinking. Trying to get his mind working on something other than sex. He shifted, looking over his shoulder in the general direction that had snagged Sai's attention.

From this angle, without the trees blocking a good portion of the cliff, he could plainly see where a part of it had recently been jarred loose, probably by the same earth tremors that had wracked the island months ago. What had been partially revealed was something that looked to have been chiseled out of the stone face of the cliff. Something that vaguely resembled a great misshapen bird perched on the cliff, its oversized wings furled. A bird - - or a dragon.

"Holy shit." He flipped over onto his ass and sat there staring up at the thing. "It is. Its freakin' huge."

"Kento's going to be very excited."

Rowan nodded mutely, thinking that the major part of Kento's excitement was going to stem from the fact that he was going to absolutely and without doubt blow Karen Dreskel's mind.

"My God." Karen Dreskel stood on the very same rock Rowan and Sai had almost made love on and stared in dumbstruck awe up at the carving on the cliff face. "God." She repeated her ode to her deity and wiped dripping hair out of her eyes. Kento was torn between staring up at the towering carven dragon to the wet fabric clinging to Dr. Dreskel's impressive bosom. He stood in the pool next to the rock, with Sai hovering a few feet away, proudly pointing out their discovery. Rowan leaned against a bored horse at the shore, idly slapping at the mosquitoes that had come out with the late afternoon.

"This is the - - the most incredible find." Karen was saying. "We thought there might be other markers on the island - - but I never expected anything so - - so - -"

"God awful big?" Rowan ventured.

She turned a delighted smile towards him. "Do you know what you've found? Do you know how important this is?"

Rowan shrugged, squinting his eyes up at the portion of the thing that he could see from the edge of the lagoon.

"We found." Sai corrected from the water. "He never would have noticed it at all if I hadn't pointed it out."

Karen shrugged and went back to staring lovingly up at the carving. "What were you doing out here?' she asked idly, not waiting for an answer before hopping back down into the water and wading towards the cliff and the more turbulent water there. "It looks like there might be a way to climb up to it."

"Maybe we should wait and come back with some equipment." Kento sloshed behind her. "Some rope and climbing equipment."

"I just want to see." She ignored his common sense, forging ahead. And rather suddenly her head went under with nothing but a few bubbles to indicate she'd ever been there. Kento stared.

"Shit. I guess it gets deeper further in." Rowan commented.

"Sai!" Kento squealed, splashing around in desperation for sign of the young woman.

Sai rolled his eyes and waded past Kento, dove smoothly under the surface and came back up a few minutes later with sputtering, coughing redhead.

"There's definitely an undertow from the waterfall." Sai said sagely once he and Kento had helped Karen to shore. "And it really is deep further towards the cliff. You should come back with help and equipment."

"I'm not letting anyone else get credit for this." She snapped, glaring up at Sai, her lips set in firm lines of determination.

"Fine. I certainly don't want it - - even if I did find it. Not Rowan. Me." Sai glared back, shaking water from his hair.

"We won't tell anybody." Kento promised. "We can come back tomorrow maybe with some stuff. Maybe we can get to it from above."

They talked her out of trying the cliff again, with promises of lips sealed tight and help on the morrow. They rode back to the resort in fine spirits. Waded into the luau on the beachfront with all the enthusiasm of highschool kids out on prom night. Guests and natives alike flocked to the feast, drinking and socializing, dancing to the festive music. There were paper lanterns strung out along the beach and a great bonfire in the sand. The resort was a dark shadow looming on the rise above the ocean. The moon in all her pregnant glory made an eerie silhouette of the structure.

"They have one of these every Saturday night." Sai informed Rowan. "The resort sponsors it, and the native townspeople help with the cooking and the festivities. They even get tourists from neighboring islands that come to attend. Its a great attraction, I'm told."

Rowan lifted his half full mixed drink in salute. "They're charging for the booze. They've got to be making a fortune off this thing."

The crowd claimed Sai. Rowan found another drink and a plateful of aromatic food. A pretty little native girl came up and tried to get him to dance, and he swayed with her a little, until someone else swept her away. Another pair of arms slipped around his waist from behind and he had the blissfully contented thought that the people here were so friendly - -so very accommodating, until the female in question purred into his ear.

"I didn't think I'd ever get you alone."

He glanced over his shoulder, lifted a brow in surprise at Karen Dreskel and attempted to turn around. She kept her hold, obviously a little drunk.

"Why?" He asked stupidly, a little smashed himself.

She answered the question with a smile and a squeeze of his ass. He blinked, trying to get his brain in gear. Trying absorb this new tidbit of information. "Shouldn't you be feeling up Kento's ass?"

"Kento?" She sniffed. "He's really good at digging - - but he's not my type. You're my type."

He disentangled her hand from the waistband of his pants. "You went out with him - -" he pointed out.

"And that means - - what?" she asked. "Besides, I did it to find out a little about you. It took me forever to get away from him tonight."

"Jesus." He muttered. "Well that was a crappy thing to do."

She laughed, like she thought he was being funny. Like she thought he'd be anything but indignant over her callous usage of one of his best friends.

"Not even," he caught her wrists and disentangled himself from her arms. "In your wildest fantasy."

She beetled her brows, not quite understanding, not quite used, he thought, to being turned down - - in anything she went after.

"Are you serious?" she asked.

He half laughed, couldn't come up with anything witty enough at the moment to respond to that with, so merely turned his back on her and walked away. He didn't think she yelled anything at him, but it was hard to tell over the music and the crowd. He finished off his drink, found a convenient table to abandon the plastic cup on and stood there reeling, trying to convince himself of the best course of action for all involved. He had to tell Kento, of course. He couldn't let him continue to make a fool of himself over the girl. Couldn't let her string him along like a fish on the line. Kento would be upset of course, but he'd be grateful. He'd be damned appreciative of Rowan's honesty.

"You lying son of a bitch!" Kento's fist connected with Rowan's jaw. Rowan's ass connected with the sand and he sprawled there, seeing stars and the broad expanse of Kento's back as Kento stalked away. Kento's appreciation had seemed somewhat stunted. His gratefulness had been downright measly.

Sai stared down at him in horror. "Rowan. How could you?"

"How could I what? He hit me." Rowan mumbled, tentatively touching his jaw.

"How could you just blurt out - - what you did?"

"What? That she was coming on to me? She was. She had her hands all over me."

Sai gave him a look. "You're drunk, Rowan."

Rowan glared. Rowan thought violent things about Sai. "Oh, right." He snapped, pushing himself to his feet. "I made it all up. Thought it would be hilarious. Guess I was wrong, huh?"

"I didn't say that. I said you were drunk and you're never at your most tactful when you're drunk and you certainly could have told him differently."

"Fuck off." Rowan suggested. There was blood in his mouth. He felt the need for a little hard liquor to cover the taste.

"I'm going to talk to Kento." Sai announced, ignoring Rowan's recommendation. "Please don't get so sloshed you pass out and I have to carry you home."

"I wouldn't want you to go to any trouble." Rowan muttered. Sai lifted a brow, gave Rowan another look, then hurried off after Kento, not in the least concerned about a possible loose tooth or broken jaw on Rowan's part. Kento's hits were never inconsequential.

He was very, very drunk by the time Sai came back. He'd managed to ingratiate himself into the company of four of the sweetest little native girls. They were part of the hired entertainment, all round curves and smooth dark limbs, with tiny little halter tops and rustling grass skirts that swayed and parted seductively when they moved to the music. He couldn't quite recall later how he'd come by the grass skirt. Off the hips of one of the giggling young women was a distinct possibility. It had wound up on him, over his shorts and he'd ended up with them trying to teach him that sensuous little dance they were so good at, when Sai showed up.

With himself shirtless, wearing a grass skirt, a nearly naked girl under each arm - - suffice to say he got another long look. That sort of withering look that prophesied no sex in the foreseeable future. Even with that dire predicament hovering over him, he still managed to grin lazily and slur a welcome. The girl's giggled. One of them ran her clever little hand up his belly to his chest and Sai's gaze became downright venomous.

"I need to speak with you, Rowan. If you're not too busy."

He tried to disentangle himself. They complained and asked him to come back soon and he sort of half heartedly waved as Sai clutched hold of his arm and dragged him away. The crowd had thinned a great deal. It was hours past mid-night and those that weren't passed out were fast on their way. The bon-fire had burned down and the caterers had cleaned up the tables of food. Only the bar remained open for those valiant few that could still imbibe of booze.

"Where we goin', Sai?"

They were headed down towards the surf and he had the bleary notion that Sai intended on drowning him.

"I don't know. Just away." Sai snapped, then cast him an irritated glare. "I can't leave you alone for a minute, can I? If it's not strippers, its hula girls."

Rowan laughed, finding that statement outrageously funny for some odd reason. Sai glared some more.

"We really need to talk." Sai finally said.

"'Kay." Rowan was game.

"Kento's sorry he hit you."

Rowan sniffed. "He sent you to say that?"

"No. He's at the bungalow watching TV. He's very depressed, but he won't admit it. I can't blame him. What a terrible woman. I told you I didn't like her from the start."

"You're - - like - - psychic, Sai. Sai - cic."

"Oh, do shut up, Rowan." Sai stopped and kicked at tide damp sand. "I feel really bad for him. Just horrible. He doesn't have anybody - - And its so hard to connect with someone when we never know what's going to happen - - what with the armors and the things that we get drawn into - - Anybody close to us would be in danger anyway - - and I have you and Ryo has Seiji - -"

"Not right now." Rowan pointed out.

"You know what I mean, Rowan. He's the odd man out. All five us have this - - bond. This shared - - consciousness almost - - and he's the only one that can't share in it physically. He's the one that gets to stay by himself when the rest of us - - you know. Can you imagine how he must feel. How left out."

Rowan stood there, bare feet tickled by the furthest reach of the surf, wishing he had something to lean against, trying to wrap his disjointed thoughts around the very serious things Sai was speaking of. It was a little difficult to truly grasp. Rowan had never been on the outside looking in - - in anything. He'd always been the gregarious one. The instigator, the popular kid - - the first to initiate physical contact, be it with the girls or the occasional boy he'd known as a youth or the young men that had been drawn into this strange fellowship of mystic powers that he found himself entangled in. Rowan had never been in any danger of being the black sheep of any group. Maybe Sai knew a little better. Maybe Sai had experienced some of that exclusion himself as a child. The soft-spoken, British boy trust into the midst of a foreign, not always tolerant, not always accepting culture. Sai might know what it was like to feel the outcast.

"Okay." He said, trying to shake off the monumental buzz that stubbornly refused to abandon him. "What the hell can we do about it? Finding Kento a mercy fuck seems sorta like defeating the purpose. And I don't think he'd appreciate it anyways."

"That's not what I meant." Sai frowned.

"What'dya mean, then?"

"I don't know. Well, I sort of do. I think - - that sometimes, it wouldn't be so bad to share - - what we have."

Rowan blinked stupidly. Sai took a breath and went on.

"I think he used to sort of want me. I think he used to sort of be jealous of you - - a little. I never thought of him that way, and I think that hurt him."

"Oh, Jesus Christ - - You wanna go and do Kento?"

Sai bit his lip, coloring. "You don't have to put it so crudely, Rowan."

"Is that what you're saying?" He was really in no frame of mind to grasp this as fully as it needed to be grasped.

"Sort of." Sai was being evasive. Sai was embarrassed and uncertain but very clearly on a mission.

"There's no sort of. Either you want to boink him or you don't."

"It would upset you?"

Rowan took a breath, not entirely certain. "I don't know. Maybe." A little further thought. "No. Not really."

Sai took a breath. "Good, because I think you ought to be involved too."

Rowan blinked again, back to the speechless, stupid state.

"I think if we're going to let him know how much he means to us - - then it ought to be a concerted effort."

"You want me involved - - how? Like - - like a group thing?"

"You don't want to."

"It's Kento."

"If it was Seiji?"

Rowan had to laugh, short, sharp and ironic. If it was Seiji, Sai wanted to have a menage a'trois with, heads would have spun at the speed he jumped into bed. But then again, Seiji never had lacked for bedpartners. Seiji had never lacked for anything and it made him cold sometimes and callous at others, none of which Kento was. Kento was the sort of guy who'd do anything for you without question. Who'd go out of his way to help, who was big and bumbling and so good hearted that occasionally it worked against him. The sort of guy girls wanted to be friends with. Not the sort they wanted to date. Rowan had imagined fucking Seiji on too many occasions to count. Had even had an illicit thought or six about Ryo, but Kento - - Kento had never crossed his mind as anything but a tried and true friend.

"Shit." He said and Sai's face fell a little.

"Its okay, Rowan - - you don't have to - -"

"You're lucky I'm so fucking drunk, cause if I was sober I'd be able to come up with way too many reasons why this is a bad idea."

Kento looked up when they came in. Miserable and dejected once the initial outrage had worn off. A long neck beer in hand; the TV blaring some old black and white cop show and providing the only light in the sitting room.

"See, I found him." Sai said, patting Rowan's arm.

Kento blinked at them, eyes somewhat bloodshot and filled with guilt.

"You okay?" He shuffled to his feet, abashed.

Rowan shrugged, a little nervous, a little edgy, but fast falling into that in-between place where drink made everything hazy and placid.

"'M'sorry, man." Kento looked down at his feet, knuckles white on the neck of his beer. "Not your fault. I should have known better."

"It certainly isn't your fault either." Sai said. "And I wish you'd stop acting like there's something wrong with you. There isn't!"

Kento shrugged, glancing back to the TV, an easy enough distraction from a conversation he'd rather not have. Even sloshed as he was, Rowan could tell Kento wasn't in on Sai's plan. The only thing in Kento's expression was guilt and rejection. It made him feel bad. It made him feel quite suddenly the urge to welcome Kento into his embrace and help chase away the sadness. Rowan wanted to say something along the lines of what a bitch Dreskel was, of how she wasn't worth Kento agonizing over - - but it would have sounded trite and consolatory. The usual rejoinders given by friends when other friends were dumped. Technically - - as far as he knew at any rate - - she'd never really given Kento any reason to believe there was something between them. Technically she'd really done nothing more than take full advantage of his rabid offer to help.

Sai moved into the room, slid up to Kento and hugged him while Kento stood there, baffled at the show of affection.

"It doesn't matter." Sai murmured. "We're here. We'll always be here for you."

Kento looked over Sai's head at Rowan, not understanding, not quite comfortable with Sai wrapped around him while Rowan stood swaying in the doorway. Rowan smiled lopsidedly, moving into the bungalow, his hula skirt rustling as he walked.

"How drunk're you?" There were a good many empty beer bottles strewn about, but Kento had the body weight to hold a tremendous amount of alcohol.

"Why?" Kento absently rubbed Sai's neck.

"Cause some things are better undertaken with a buzz."

Kento blinked. Sai reached up and gently grasped the side of his face, drew him forward a little and kissed him. "Will you come with us?" Sai asked softly into the silent shock he'd created. Complete and utter dumfoundment, and Kento's eyes as round as saucers from it, and as silvered as full moons in the gray light of the television.

"Wha- -?"

Sai pulled away a bit, hand sliding down Kento's arm to grasp his fingers, urging him towards the room he and Rowan shared. "Come and see how much we love you. How much a part of us you are."

Kento followed. Of course Kento followed - - all those years enamored of Sai dictating no other course of action.

"Come on." Sai beckoned to Rowan; the aggressor in this, the instigator, the siren who one had no choice but to follow.

It was a great blur to him, exactly what followed. A great mish-mash of images and sounds and sensations that a sorely inebriated mind had a hard time meshing together into a coherent whole. Kento was not reserved once you got him started. But then again, Kento was a young man who'd had very little outlet of sexual frustration other than the grace of his own two hands for a very long time and foreplay for all intents and purposes was an acquired skill. You just didn't come out of the gate knowing all the whys and wherefores. It was confusing and bumbling at times, humorous at others as Sai tried to explain this or that, or caution patience that just wasn't there to practice. Rowan fell into a laughing fit that threatened to spoil the mood entirely at one such scholarly lecture until Sai shut him up by drawing him down into a kiss that involved deep probing tongues and hands roaming over the skin of his back. Then there were other hands pressing through the damnable grass skirt - - the knot had been too convoluted for drink hazed minds to untie - - to fondle the most sensitive portion of him. He groaned at the double assault and lifted his hips a little to allow better access, at which point the whole of the arm slipped around his waist and hauled his rear end up and tight against firm, thick thighs.

I'm gonna get fucked. Was the immediate thought that ran panicked through his head. It was one thing to engage in touchy-feely and mutual jerk-offs and the fevered exchange of bodily fluids - - one thing for Sai to spread his legs and let Kento between them - - quite an voyeuristic eroticism actually - - but he wasn't certain he was ready to submit to the same. For one thing Kento was thick as hell and pain seemed a very viable result of such an entry. But Sai's hands were stroking, calming and Sai's mouth was a constant reminder of pleasure and even though Kento's previously lubed self did hurt - - considerably - - it wasn't a hurt that lingered and the sensation of that particularly large, thick phallus moving inside him began to burn through some of the alcoholic fog. At least long enough for the here and the now to become bitingly, crystal clear. Sai's body under him. The taste of Sai, the feel of his soft delicate touches in contrast to Kento's fingers biting into the flesh of his hips. The comforting sounds Sai made. The grunts of serious concentration issuing from Kento's throat. Sai's hands finding their way to his abandoned cock and stroking it back to full and rigid attention.

That was the moment that stood out in his memory. That was the series of sensations that lingered in his mind, even though a great many more followed. Somewhere along the way he blanked out. Or simply passed out. Woke up many hours later sprawled belly down on the rumpled bed, alone and wearing only the remnants of the grass skirt. It tickled his skin. The daylight grated on his eyes. The sound of the surf was an irritant that just wouldn't fade away.

It was his bladder that finally got him up. He lurched into the bathroom to empty its contents and stood miserably, one hand on the wall over the toilet, wishing he were dead, only vaguely cognizant of what had happened to put him into such a state. Himself as the middle component of a Kento Sai sandwich came back in blaring details. He might have laughed if his hadn't hurt so much. It took a while of standing over the toilet, letting the wall prop him up, to wonder where they were. Eventually the sound of laughter from outside provided the essential clue. He spared a glance at himself in the mirror. Tousled, red eyed, pale except for a sleight discolored bruise on his jaw. It was a bit tender this morning now that the booze that had deadened the pain had worn off. He touched it gingerly, felt about with his tongue just to make certain there were no loosened teeth and figured that he could live with the discomfort. He was almost tempted to go and get the innocuous little orb that allowed him to access the armor of Strata, encase himself in that mystical power and let it chase away the hangover. It didn't seem a wasteful use of power. But of course that would mean finding his shorts, wherever they had been discarded and digging through the pockets for the thing and then explaining to Sai and Kento why he'd decided to call up the armor - - it was all too much effort. Better to suffer the hangover and get the residue sympathy it deserved.

So outside he padded, the dried strands of grass tickling at his legs. Sai and Kento were out on the beach. There was a dog and a little native boy and both the girls from the bungalow next to theirs. There seemed a great deal of energetic play going on. Rowan scowled and trudged a few yards out into the sun heated sand, shading his eyes with one hand.

"Do you have to make that much noise?" he complained.

Sai looked up at him, beaming. The girls did. Sai blanched and waved a hand at him.

"Rowan. Why are you wearing just that thing? Go put some pants on."

Rowan looked down at himself. Bits and pieces showed through the grass skirt, which wasn't nearly as thick at it had been when he'd first donned the thing. He smiled maliciously and shuffled a few more steps out into the sand.

"What's wrong with this?"

"God." Sai rolled his eyes and Kento laughed. A very jovial Kento. A very, very energetic one, who charged up the beach like a bull after a red flag. Rowan's eyes widened and he took a hasty step backwards, too slow in his present state to avoid the impact of Kento's shoulder to his gut, too graceless to extract himself from the embarrassing position of being swung ass up over Kento's broad shoulder and carted down towards the surf with his ass no doubt bare for all the world to see.

He got dumped soon after into the surf and sprawled there, buffeted by the waves while Kento guffawed at him and Sai tried to keep from laughing at his baffled, disgruntled expression.

"Didn't think you were ever gonna wake up." Kento was in way too good a mood. Kento looked as if all his troubles had been washed away with the surf. He held out a hand and Rowan glared at it suspiciously.

"Why are you in such a fucking good mood?"

"Rowan! Your language." Sai reprimanded him, casting a glance back at the kids who were loitering further up the beach.

"Cause it's a great day." Kento beamed down at him, bracing his legs against the wave that tumbled Rowan further up onto the beach. "The sun's out again, its not too hot, not too windy - - its just a great day."

Rowan scowled, not finding any of those things adequate reasons to be up and about. Course it was a great day for Kento, he'd gotten laid last night. Repeatedly. Rowan was distantly sore from it this morning, but that particular soreness didn't hold a candle to the hangover.

"Plus," Sai added smugly. "That woman came by this morning - - looking very much like you, I might add - - and asked if Kento was going to come and help her with that thing by the waterfall and he told her very politely - - 'not today. Maybe tomorrow if I have the time.' I was so proud of him."

Kento sort of blushed and looked embarrassed. Rowan half laughed, imagining Kento at the door saying all this with Sai standing dutiful backup at his side. He brushed sodden hair out of his eyes and wondered if he could make it over to the hammock without throwing up. Thought that a day spent there, suspended in the shade with no distractions might allow a small hope of surviving the raging hangover that afflicted him.

He laughed again, sitting there in the surf, with the water crashing against his back, imagining Karen Dreskel desperate enough to come begging help from Kento after ditching him last night to go after him. The woman had balls, he'd giver her that. Or maybe she just didn't remember. Maybe she'd been that drunk. Or maybe she just didn't care. He rather thought it was the latter.

It didn't look like Kento did, but then again, Kento had gained something last night that went just a little beyond mere sex. He'd gained an acceptance that he'd never truly had before. Something that went beyond camaraderie. It might not be a regular occurrence - - god, Rowan didn't think he could take it on a regular basis - - it was exhausting - - but it had opened doors hereforto unopened. He wondered idly, as Kento and Sai were helping him to his feet, if he could get Seiji and Ryo into such a frame of mind.

Seiji - - probably - - once he was sane and normal again at any rate. Ryo - - probably not. Ryo's promiscuity ran about as deep as his appreciation for fine Russian literature. Definitely something to think about - - but for the moment, his back hitting the hammock was worth all the pleasure in the world. Sai draping a towel over his hips to hide what the grass skirt revealed was a hardly noted or appreciated gesture of modesty.

"Do you want lunch?" Kento asked. "We're going up to the restaurant."

Rowan waved an sluggish hand at them to go away and leave him alone. He vaguely heard Sai mention bringing him something back. He shut his eyes and willed the noise away. Let the breeze wash over him and the shade cool his damp skin. It wasn't half bad, when the only drama a body had to deal with was manipulative women and sex and the occasional emotional roller coaster. It was better by far than demons and invading immortal warlords, malicious spirits and hell dimensions. A body could get used to this sort of crisis. This Vacation, he had to admit, had been a good idea on Sai's part after all.

If he could only get rid of the hangover - - -


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