“That’s not fair, you’re cheating! I’m watching you!” The boy with the green streak in his hair was pointing to the guy wearing the fedora when Oblio felt his cell phone vibrating in his back pocket.
Taking his phone from the pocket of his pants, he noted the new text message with no more than a passing glance, as if he was just checking the time.
“Ah, guys, I must be on my way. I apologize.”
“Just when I was about to beat you too!” Bodie playfully punched him in the upper arm and Oblio delivered a thin smile in return, dropping his cards on the table and pushing his chair out.
“Same time tomorrow?” Mo asked leaning back and reaching into the cooler for another soda. There was a round of nods as he glanced from Bodie to Oblio and finally Angel, who sat closest to the door and a whiny Glitch.
Glitch jumped up. “Can I take Oblio’s place?!”
“You’re too young to gamble, chico.” Angel said. “We can play Go Fish if you’d like though…”
Oblio chuckled as he left the lifeguard hut, motorcycle helmet in his hand as he made his way across the sand and up to the parking lot near the beach. It would only take him four minutes to get to his destination. He could see it from the beach parking lot, peering through buildings in the skyline ahead of him - a tall building, the top shimmering with blue and purple lights.
He hadn’t been there in five weeks. He hadn’t seen her in four and a half weeks.
He missed her. He briefly wondered if she missed him too but stopped as he climbed on his bike. It was impossible trying to guess what she thinking. Oblio was usually good at reading people, too. Maybe that’s why he was so drawn to her. She was an enigma. Something he needed to unravel and get to the center of – she was something he needed to figure out.
It took him three minutes and forty-five seconds to get there. Record time.
He parked around the corner and slipped off of his motorcycle, walking to the edge of the building and casually leaning against it, peering around the wall to the main entrance.
There he was, on his way out. Right on time.
Kerith walked in the opposite direction that Oblio came from, headed to the Tandance building like he always was at that specific time on that specific day of the week. Oblio knew his schedule well.
When Kerith was out of sight, he pushed himself off of the wall and entered the building, slipping right into the elevator the other man had vacated moments before.
As it ascended, Oblio’s eyes glazed over and locked on the giant metal GG that made up the railing of the elevator. He remembered the first time this had happened, the first time he had gone to visit her. He was going to pick up a pair of riding gloves he had left at a party they had both attended on Aubrey’s yacht. Somehow they had ended up in the pocket of her jacket. Someone must have assumed that since they were a pair of black leather gloves, they had to belong to the Glitterati.
He went to pick up the gloves and somehow the two of them ended up in the elevator with the emergency stop button pressed near the top of the tower, his back against the cold metal of the Glitterati’s oversized icon and her in his lap, their lips locked. His hands had been clutching the fabric of her shorts at her hips, while her fingers were clenched in his hair at the back of his head.
The walls of the elevator were glass. The whole city could have seen them if they had the desire.
They hadn’t cared about people seeing them in that particular moment. It was afterwards, when they thought about it, that they worried.
They had a few meetings here and there, no one having any knowledge of the meetings but the two of them. They weren’t sure why they kept having these meetings until she finally broke them off. She spent all her time with her brother – they were almost one entity. Even though they were around each other almost every waking moment, there were times when she felt alone. And Oblio, he was a loner by nature.
Oblio had never been distracted by things of that nature before. He had always been someone who enjoyed solitude. But after that night, it was all he could think about. He began to hang out with some of the other dancers more and they occasionally questioned the change, but none seemed to look into it too much.
The elevator doors slid open and she was there, leaning casually against the tall counter near the entrance of the Penthaus, arms crossed lazily over her chest and head tilted to the side. He swore he saw her face brighten for just a moment when their eyes met for the first time in four and a half weeks, but he knew it was probably wishful thinking on his part. There seemed to be something different about her as well, something he couldn’t place.
“I…” He missed her. He did. But he couldn’t say it. Not now. He stepped out of the elevator towards her.
She clicked her magenta nails against his helmet and took it from him, setting it on one of the barstools near the counter, then grasped his face in her hands and pulled him to her, pressing her lips to his. Oblio was going to be optimistic and take that as a yes, especially when she didn’t protest to him pushing her backwards into the counter. Her left hand had reached out for the edge of the counter and accidentally shoved the helmet off the stool in the process, where it rolled behind a column of lights.
Sliding out of his grasp and away from the counter, Jaryn moved away from him and turned around, watching as he followed her. Slowly.
He stopped his movement. She missed him?
She nodded. Jaryn had sent Oblio away and said they couldn’t see each other because of her reputation—their reputation. Her and her brother’s. They were a team. They were an item. They were an entity. Nothing could come between them. Nothing in the public eye, she figured, anyways. Nothing ever would come between them – Kerith was her twin brother. Nothing was capable of tearing them apart.
But after returning Oblio’s black leather gloves that night, Jaryn found herself desiring the company of somebody who didn’t think exactly like her. Someone she could disagree and debate with… someone she could touch.
Four and a half weeks had passed since she broke it off and she found herself staring at her phone. A text message that had been in her outbox for two weeks but had not sent.
Ob, Penthaus? – J
Jaryn had been shocked that he had made it there that fast. Her brother had walked out the door mere moments before he showed up. She said bye to Kerith, watched him leave through the security monitors and then saw Oblio get in the elevator.
She felt an involuntary but welcome shudder at the thought of the elevator and the current sight of Oblio standing ahead of her.
“Mmhmmm.” She added, after her nod. “Why? Are you surprised? Didn’t think I was capable of it? Couldn’t process it?”
“I don’t know,” he began to unbutton his jacket, but hesitated as he was about to remove it. “There were multiple points where I thought you were just… using me for the physicality of it all.”
“I’ll admit that I might have been at the beginning.” Jaryn slowly began to back away, towards the cavernous hallway leading to the bedrooms and bathrooms. “But what can I say? You’ve grown on me the slightest bit. Kind of like a sad, adorable, little kitten.”
With a tired chuckle, Oblio began to move after her, placing one foot in front of the other with every step she took back. “Should I meow or something? Would that make you feel better about it?”
“You can purr, if you want. I’ll take that.”
The trace of a smile that was on his face suddenly vanished and he stopped again, finally realizing what had been different about her. “You’re not wearing any makeup.”
Every single time Oblio had seen her, whether it was at one of the competitions, parties or events and even the times they met each other in secret, Jaryn had always been in her makeup. There were countless times he had to clean his face (or she had to do it for him) before they left each other's company. Oblio could only nod now, his eyes trailing around her pale, unpainted skin as he began to move forward again.
She vanished into her room and his slow forward motion turned into a dash as he raced in there after her, throwing the heavy door shut behind him.
Within moments she had pulled him onto her bed (which he had noted before, could easily sleep six) and they were clumsily grabbing at each other and rolling around together. Many previous instances, Jaryn had yelled at him for coming anywhere near her impeccable silk-sheeted bed with his motorcycle boots, but this time he was still wearing them in her bed and she said nothing.
He could feel the buckles getting caught in the sheets as he planted his knees on either side of her and placed his hands on either side of her face, hovering over her. The neon lights from the city outside streamed through the ceiling-to-floor glass that made up her bedroom window and fell across her face, painting her cheeks in pinks, blues and greens. He leaned down and gently pressed his lips to the pink, dragging them to the blue, then finally the green, which was a sharp sliver of light down her left temple and ear.
“These last few weeks have taken a toll on my mind. I’ve never been one to blame - it’s distressing for the spirit - but I blame you,” he whispered in her ear. He could feel her exhale against his neck, her breath snaking under the collar of his shirt and down his back.
“That’s ridiculous. You’ve always loved being alone. I thought it might be a welcome break for you.”
She felt her eyes slide shut as his lips met the skin under her ear. He said nothing.
“Are you sure that you aren’t just using me for the physicality of it all?” She threw his words back at him, her eyes still shut and her fingers running absently up and down his arms, which were still on either side of her head.
Jaryn felt him pull away from her left ear and move to her neck. “I would never. I do have a heart, you know.”
Her body moved momentarily with the weak chuckle she produced. “And you’re saying I don’t? How sweet of—“
“Hey Jaryn?” A yell sounded out in the main area of the Penthaus.
Oblio scrambled off of Jaryn and pulled himself to the opposite side of the bed, practically falling off of it and sliding under it. He had seen her slip to the head of the bed and pull the sheets over her before he lost sight of her. His only sight now was a sea of shoes under Jaryn’s bed and her brother’s feet across her bedroom, the room he just entered.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine, Ker. I’m just tired.”
Nodding, Kerith narrowed his eyes slightly and absently glanced around her bedroom as he asked the next question.
“Do you know where the files are on Bernice? For how organized Dr. Tan appears to be, he misplaces every single damn thing. He thinks he let me take them home to study them and says they’re around here. I call bull.”
Jaryn shook her head, “They aren’t here. He just wants to blame us for his mistakes. You know him.”
“Of course. When is it any different?”
Oblio continued to stare past Jaryn’s shoes (so many shoes) under the bed, covering his mouth when he saw Kerith’s feet get closer.
Jaryn watched as her brother leaned down and kissed her cheek. She returned the gesture.
“All right, I’m headed back… as long as you’re feeling alright…”
“Then sleep well, Jare.”
“Have fun with Tan.”
She heard a scoff and knew her brother was rolling his eyes as he made his way out of her bedroom and got back on the elevator.
Dropping the sheets from where she had pulled them up around her, Jaryn looked to the right, towards the windows, and saw a head of blue hair peek up over the edge of the bed. Her eyes fell to where her fingers absently toyed with a pull in the silk sheets. She waited for Oblio to do the same thing she had done weeks before – call it off. She knew he disliked hiding things – it was bad for the soul, or whatever he would say. She was surprised it had lasted as long as it had and she was even more surprised he had showed up after her text earlier that night.
Jaryn opened her mouth to say something, but he was already back on the bed with her, lips cutting off whatever her thought had been. He had taken his jacket off, kicked off his boots and had his arms around her, hands on her back and under her shirt when her cell phone on the nightstand beeped.
With a growl, Jaryn reached behind her to grab it and it tumbled to the floor. Writhing around under him to turn onto her stomach, she hung over the edge of the bed and grabbed the phone. She could feel Oblio planting kisses here and there on the skin at the small of her back, which distracted her enough to cause her to enter the password to her phone incorrectly four times.
“What?” He crawled up over her, knees on either side of her again, the thin, navy blue fabric of his shirt rubbing against the shimmering purple she wore where his chest touched her back. He rested his chin on her shoulder.
Have fun with Oblio, sis. xoxoxoxox – K
“Well, someone knows.”
“Good, now your soul won’t be as tormented,” Jaryn said, shifting around under him again until she was on her back. Her head was hanging off of the bed and he pushed her chin up, returning his lips to his neck where they had been before.
“I didn’t mean you were heartless. Earlier,” Oblio had lowered his voice to a whisper again.
“Then what did you mean?” She had moved out from under him and crawled to the head of the bed, turning onto her back and resting her head on the oversized pillows against the headboard.
“I don’t know, maybe that it just might be a little harder to find yours.”
Jaryn placed her left hand on her chest and waited. One beat. Two.
“Good news, I found it.”
He cracked a grin and let his eyes move from her hand to her face. “I don’t mean like that.” Pulling himself towards her, the denim of his pants silent against the silk sheets, he gently moved her hand and placed his head against her chest. He could hear her heartbeat, steady and uniform. He could feel her right hand in his hair, strands twisting around her fingers.
Oblio placed a palm on her leg, running his fingertips up to the bottom hem of her shorts. He could hear her heartbeat quicken slightly. Moving the same hand farther up, he slid it under the bottom hem of her shirt and let his fingers drift across the skin of her stomach, letting them move the smallest fraction under the waistband of her shorts. Her heartbeat quickened again and the fingers in his hair tightened into a fist.
“This is the only reason you called me back here, right?” He suddenly moved off of her and straddled her legs lazily, sitting below her knees and eyeing her face. His hands were in front of him, buried in a bunched up mess of silk. “You said you missed me, you said I was growing on you but… I don’t know.”
“Oblio, if I only wanted you here to satisfy me, you would’ve been kicked out by now.” Her face, now bathed in purple lights from outside, held a sincere expression. One he wasn’t used to seeing from her. Mild amusement, a bit of frustration on occasion, an absent stare when she was lost in some other world, sure. But sincerity? Her eyes were wide, her lips were pursed, head tilted, eyebrows almost knotted – and again, there was no makeup.
No makeup, no complaints about the boots on the bed, no flashes of anger when she found out her brother knew about them…
“You missed me.”
Her sincerity turned into an exasperated sigh and a half-hearted eyeroll. “I already told you that. Don’t get all sappy on me.”
Leaning forward, Oblio pushed his lips to hers, burying one hand in her head of blonde hair and pulling her closer to him. The other hand quickly went up her shirt, to her chest, where he placed his open palm against her skin. Her heart was beating fast now and he could feel that her palms were sweaty when she placed them on his sides, under his shirt.
“Good news, Jaryn,” he murmured to her, between his shirt coming off and the sheets getting tangled up around them as they rolled over together. “I found it.”
“Ngggh, what did I tell you about getting sappy?” She pinched his side. “Stop.”
Oblio grinned again and pulled the sheets over them, the lights from the city and the lights from their cell phones suddenly blocked out. The phones were on the ground next to each other; Jaryn had left hers there and Oblio’s had fallen out of the back pocket of his pants when he threw them on the ground. Both were suddenly lighting up and vibrating across the carpet with texts and voice mails from the others about their relationship.
Jaryn knew her brother wouldn’t be able to keep his mouth shut, but at this point she stopped caring.