Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Guardian by Shayne Carmichael

Bryan closed his eyes, focusing on his playing. The notes he coaxed from the violin surrounded him, soothing him. The only time he could lose himself like this was when he played his instrument.

Oblivious to the others in the room, the bow, guided by the expert manipulation of Bryan's hand, flew over the strings. The motion of his fingers over the strings was a sensual stroking, bringing the hauntingly beautiful melody to life.

As the last note died off, the cheering from some of the students surprised Bryan. He'd forgotten they were there. When he opened his eyes, he saw the instructor nodding in approval at him. This audition had been set up by Bryan's guardian, Jaden St. Ives. It was damn near impossible to get Lazlo Alvante to agree to tutor a new student, but from Lazlo's smug expression, it appeared he would take Bryan on. The small, excitable man positively beamed at him.

"Very well executed, Bryan. Your heart shows most plainly in your music." Lazlo approached him and heartily shook Bryan's hand. "I would be delighted to instruct you."

"Thank you, Mr. Alvante." Bryan smiled, relaxing now that the interview was over. He'd been somewhat worried, but refused to allow the emotion to take over.

"St. Ives told me you had promising skill, and he was correct in his assessment. However, remember that I will require you to play until your fingers bleed. I'm not the easiest of task masters."

"You know my guardian?" Bryan placed his violin and bow in his case, then shut it.

"I've had the pleasure of meeting him a few times, and I heard him play once. You've a long way to go before you are equal to his skill, but with the proper dedication, you might match him someday."

For a brief moment Bryan envied his new instructor. The man had met Bryan's guardian, something Bryan hadn't had the privilege of doing. There were a million questions Bryan wanted to ask Lazlo, but he swallowed them. Very few people realized that Bryan had never seen Jaden St. Ives, and he preferred to keep up the illusion that he knew his guardian.

"I only have four students currently, five now with you. I expect you to be on time for every session I schedule with you. Short of your own death, there will be no acceptable excuse for you to miss a class." Walking back to his desk, Lazlo opened his calendar. "I will see you every Thursday at four PM sharp, Bryan. And advance warning: if you miss more than two classes, you will be dropped."

"I understand, Mr. Alvante, and I'm grateful you're willing to tutor me."

* * * *

After carefully setting down the hand-written sheets of music, Bryan opened and read the note accompanying the birthday present from his guardian. The letter explained the composition had been a personal gift from Tchaikovsky to an old friend and was a relatively unknown piece of work.

From the details his guardian included, Bryan had the odd impression his guardian had written from personal experience. Then again, each time his guardian sent him a gift, he'd also given a detailed history of the present as well. This one was so intimately detailed that Bryan wondered if Tchaikovsky's old friend had been his guardian.

It wasn't the first time in his life Bryan had had a similar feeling. He couldn't explain any part of what he felt. His guardian had been a mysterious and unknown figure in his life since Bryan was two years old.

"For never having met you, your guardian knows what you like." Kennedy, his roommate, looked over the music as he ate a slice of the cake that came with Bryan's present. "Umm, Bavarian cream. You've got to try a piece, Musical Genius."

"I will in a minute." Reverently, he touched the sheets as he studied the notes. It was a very complex piece. He had no doubt he could master it, but it'd take some time.

"MG, snap out of it. Get over here and eat some cake." Kennedy cut him a piece, then thrust the plate in Bryan's face.

"All right, all right." Laughing, Bryan took the plate and grabbed one of the forks from the table.

"So when do we meet this mysterious guardian of yours anyway? I'd think he'd want to see where his money is going."

Bryan made a face. "I'm not sure if I'll ever meet him. I haven't tried since last spring right before I graduated. The guards at the gate keep telling me he isn't seeing anybody every time I try."

"Don't tell me you've given up? There's a mystery to solve here." With a fake maniacal laugh, Kennedy waved his fork at Bryan.

"No, I haven't given up. I'll meet him one way or another."

"You never know. He might have a very good reason for not letting you see him. Maybe he's hideously deformed. Or a serial killer. Or…"

Before Kennedy's imagination could come up with anything more, Bryan put up his hand. "Or maybe you're crazy."

"Well, you have to admit it's really weird that you've never met your guardian, yet he pays for everything."

Bryan just shrugged. He really didn't want to get into the oddity of his own situation. The two of them had known each other since middle school, and Kennedy pretty much knew everything about Bryan except for the odd dreams and feelings Bryan had because of his guardian, something he'd never spoken about to a living soul.

"At least you got in with Lazlo. That's a great step to your dream of getting into the Universal Symphony." Kennedy finished off his piece of cake then tossed the paper plate into the trash. "I'm off. Sure you don't want to come with?"

"Nah, you go ahead. I don't feel like going out."

"You're gonna miss a great party." Grabbing his jacket, Kennedy put it on, then paused at the door with his hand on the knob. As one of the campus jocks, Kenny made a regular habit of attending every party he could during the off season. "You double sure?"

"I'm positive." Bryan's thoughts were too focused on his guardian, and the loud distraction of a party would bother the hell out of him.

"Your loss, bud. I'll have a beer for ya."

Bryan sat down on the bed, relieved when Kennedy shut the door. Lying on his bed, he folded his arms behind his head. As much as he liked the gift, he couldn't help feeling a bit of disappointment. He'd hoped Jaden would finally come to see him, but here it was his nineteenth birthday, and his guardian remained no more than a mysterious figure in the background of his life. Bryan had held to two major dreams in his life; meeting his guardian and becoming a member of the Universal Symphony.

Staring up at the ceiling, he tried to count the small holes for distraction. Not that it helped any. Once his thoughts fixated on Jaden, his mind wouldn't let go. Bryan had spent many hours weaving daydreams around Jaden. In his dreams, he'd hear the man's voice, feel his kiss. His guardian featured far too prominently in Bryan's dreams.

Sometimes in the dead of night, he swore Jaden was there with him. With a certainty that allowed for no argument, Bryan knew he was being watched. Just as he fell asleep, a fleeting touch of a hand to his face or shoulder would disturb him, and he believed without a doubt it was Jaden.

Oddly, he never believed himself crazy, but he knew if he admitted it to others, they would probably think he was. Which was why he'd never told anyone. Bryan couldn't even explain to himself how he just knew it was Jaden. He could remember dreams where he listened to his guardian long into the night. He never recalled the exact words the next day, but he'd known that he dreamed of Jaden.

Bryan realized he'd fallen in love with his guardian. Again, not something he could explain how or why, but he knew it. When he'd finally understood his own feelings, he simply accepted them. He still dated other people, but mostly only to have fun, and everybody in his group of friends knew not to expect anything serious from him.

Just having his thoughts focused on his guardian was enough to make Bryan hard beneath his pants. His hand drifted over his bare chest as he lost himself in his own daydream. It wasn't his hand exploring the smooth lines of skin, it was Jaden's.

A breath parted Bryan's lips, and he dreamed of the hungry devouring of his mouth under the bruising pressure of Jaden's. Slipping his hand under the waistband of his pants, he stroked over his aching cock. The tip of his thumb applied an exquisite pressure just under the head, making him groan softly. As he spread his legs, the motion of his hand quickened. In his mind, Jaden's cock filled his ass, taking pleasure from him.

"Please. Oh God, please." His mind and voice pleaded to his invisible lover to be taken over the edge. So rapt in his fantasy, Bryan could see the dark form hovering over him in his mind's eye. It wasn't his hand on his cock, it was Jaden's, drawing him deeper and deeper into a need that threatened to consume him.

Suddenly, Bryan felt a familiar presence drench over him. He knew, just knew it was St. Ives. He came, body shaking hard as he helplessly cried out his guardian's name.

For a single second, Bryan felt the perfect world where he gave everything of himself to Jaden. A sob rose in his throat and he curled to his side, trying to mentally wrap the feel of his guardian around himself. Bryan so desperately needed him, the sense of it both a pleasure and a pain to him. A quiet, soothing flow gradually filled him, and he relaxed with it. It seemed as if his guardian knew and had answered him.

The strong sense enveloped Bryan, keeping him at peace and gently lulling him to sleep. Before he completely tumbled into the blackness, Bryan could have sworn there was movement on the bed beside him. A gentle touch brushed over the side of his face, and Bryan tried to open his eyes but couldn't. A voice reached for him through the darkness. Sleep now, I'm with you.

Completely trusting the soft words in his mind, Bryan drifted within the waves of warmth before he fell deeply asleep.

* * * *

"Hey, lazy ass. It's time for breakfast."

Bryan opened one eye and peered blurrily at his friend who tried to shake him awake. "I'm up. I'm up."

"You wanted me to get you up before I left. You better fucking hurry 'cuz I'm leaving." Kennedy lightly hit the top of Bryan's head before he grabbed his books and headed out the door.

Why in the hell had he wanted to get up early? Kennedy had classes today, he didn't. Just as Bryan burrowed back under the covers, he remembered. Pushing off the covers, he got out of bed and made his way to the bathroom. Kennedy had left his damp towels lying on the floor. His dirty clothes were next to them, and there were blobs of toothpaste and shaving cream left behind on the sink.

His roommate was hideously messy, and Bryan had learned to outwait him. He no longer cleaned up behind Kennedy. Sooner or later, Kennedy would clean up after himself, depending on how long it took him to get disgusted with his own filth. The last time Bryan had finally made arrangements with one of their friends down the hall to use their bathroom for showers. It wasn't until Kennedy decided the bathroom had gotten too dirty for him to use that everything got cleaned. At the time, Bryan had absolutely refused to lift a finger and do Kennedy's job.

This weekend was Kennedy's turn to clean the rooms. Bryan prepared for a repeat of what happened last time. Stepping into the tub, Bryan relaxed under the hot water, making a mental note to talk to Barry about using his shower again if things got out of hand. Kenny occasionally tended to skate through life on his looks alone. He had good reason with his all American blond curls and blue eyes, plus being built like a Mack truck. He loved his best friend to death, but Bryan wouldn't let him get away with flashing his pearly whites to get out of trouble, living with the guy was occasionally a trial. He picked up the soap and began rubbing it over his body. After pouring some shampoo into his hand, he scrubbed his head with his fingers, then closed his eyes and rinsed off.

He fumbled for his towel on the rack and found it. Wiping his face, he stepped out of the shower, then dried off. Today he would do some surveillance on his guardian's home. He'd thought about the idea for a long time. If he could sneak into Jaden's house, he would finally be able to meet his guardian. Bryan refused to be deterred.

Once he dressed, Bryan opened the front door and went out into the hall. Pretty much everybody was either in class or out for the day, so the hallways were quiet. He ran down the two flights of stairs then headed outside to his car in the parking lot.

Since he needed breakfast, he went to the drive-thru of McDonald's first and got a Sausage McMuffin meal, one of his favorites. He flipped on the radio, then started eating as he drove to one of the grocery stores right outside town.

After a quick jaunt through the store, grabbing a few things to eat, ice, and more soda, Bryan returned to the car. He opened the cooler between the front seats, putting in the cans and filled it with the bag of ice. Before he closed the lid, he put the package of lunchmeat on top. He did plan on being gone most of the day, and everything he brought would have to tide him over. Restarting the car, he drove out of the parking lot and in the direction of Jaden's home.

Bryan had driven by it several times, ever since he'd learned to drive. He'd even stopped at the gate and asked to see Jaden, but every damn time he'd been refused. This was the first time he'd returned after the last refusal. His guardian's home was nestled among other large estates, some of them were fenced, some weren't, but Jaden's was. Which made Bryan's task just a bit harder. He felt up to the challenge. Come hell or high water, he would get in to see Jaden.

Bryan parked his car at the curb and shut it off. Drinking the last bit of Coke, he settled in for a long wait.

Right before two, he saw someone walking toward the guard shack at the gate. Since she came from the direction of the house, Bryan had a feeling the guards were live-in, and not hired from a company. He made himself a ham sandwich while he watched. Soon it became obvious that his guardian received little company. No cars had approached the gate at all. The only people Bryan saw were some gardeners tending to the grounds and an occasional guard walking the outer perimeter around the house. Glancing at his watch, he began timing them. Once in a while, Bryan stared up at the house, wondering where his guardian was. Every window, except for the downstairs ones, still had drawn curtains. The three-story wooden structure was reminiscent of the Tudor style, and it was enormous. There were two wings that branched off the main house.

Was Jaden awake or asleep? What was he doing now? Bryan knew Jaden was extremely well off. The look of the house and the exorbitant gifts he gave Bryan revealed that. But what did the man do? At first Bryan had thought he was some kind of business tycoon, but his name was never mentioned in the business section of any paper Bryan had ever read. The same questions had plagued Bryan for a long time, and he wanted to find out the answers.

His own intuition filled in some of the blanks surrounding his guardian. While most might scoff at him for it, Bryan knew some things with a certainty that couldn't be shaken. He'd felt hints of Jaden's gentle nature in the dreams of his guardian speaking to him. No matter how he had to do it, Bryan would get into that house, and he would see Jaden.