• “I do not care! I do not wish to care what has happened since my leaving, Alec. I love you and that is all that matters!”
    “I love you also Gwen, but we can not be together. Things have change, everything has changed.” Atlanta mouthed the lines in sequence with the actors who spoke them as he painted the set for the Victorian garden as Salem had requested.
    It had been two weeks since he had began his construction on the sets for Salem’s production of A Tasteless Affair, and between Hallie’s and Lyric’s combined harassment it had been a tough two weeks for the petite blonde, but he had survived. Though he owed most of his success to his Alex Turner and his magically accented voice that made all things easier.
    “Thank you Alex,” Atlanta sighed.
    “What was that?” The obviously amused voice cut through Atlanta’s mind barrier like a Salem’s favorite cutting knife. The one that wasn’t too sharp, but just sharp enough.
    Atlanta tucked the tiny painter’s brush that he had been using to paint small detail, into the space between his top and bottom row of teeth and pressed the pause button on his Compact Disk Player. Yes, Compact Disc Player. It was the same one that he had received on his 13th birthday from his mother after weeks of begging and pleading. It was a burnt orange and had the tattered remains of colorful alphabet stickers Atlanta used to spell his name to insure that it was not stolen. The Walkman was old and out-of-date, but it had not blown up or spontaneously burst into flames, so Atlanta did not see any reason to trade it in for one of those iPods or Mp3 Players that everyone was running around with.
    Now fully turned around, Atlanta’s cobalt eyes met an aquamarine set and the feisty blonde did his best not to glare at the taller man who stood before him. He did he really did; however all his trying proved to be in vain. “What do you want?” Atlanta snapped demonstrate that he was no stranger to talking with a paint brush in his mouth.
    Aubrey gave the blond an innocent look for he had long since grown immune to the small man’s best scowls and glares after working with him for such a extensive period. “Nothing,” The brunette informed the other with a large cat-like grin. “I just came to see what you were up to.”
    Atlanta’s gaze laced with deep suspicion as he closely followed Aubrey’s lean muscular and well sculpted - Focus Atlanta, He chided himself.- frame as Aubrey admired Atlanta’s artwork, and to be frank the small blonde didn’t blame him. Atlanta wasn’t one to toot his own horn, mostly because the man honked it whenever he got a chance, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that what he was on his way to finishing painting was one of his greatest chef-d'oeuvre. With it’s rolling hills, fantasy-like sunset that featured the perfect mixtures of yellows, reds, and oranges, and its realistic grass, that gave you the urge to release your inner child and roll around on the hill made Atlanta‘s painting not one to be overlooked.
    And the flowers! Oh, those were undoubtedly Atlanta’s favorite part of the mind-boggling setting. Each flower was hand painted and unique from the others, and he prided himself on a job well done with the impeccable blending of the coral, saffron, peach, periwinkle, and azure for each and every blossom. They were perfectly symmetrical, perfectly proportional, perfectly shaded, perfectly perfect! No one could so much as glance at the beautiful buds and forgo their perfection, no one!
    “That flower is shaded incorrectly.”
    Atlanta dropped everything, not literally of course. His train of thought stopped. His breathing paused. Heck, he was pretty sure that his heart halted in its rhythmic thumping for a millisecond or two. “What?”
    “That one there,” Aubrey pointed a thin finger at the flower he was talking about, a small periwinkle bud in the bottom right corner of the backdrop. “You see, the lighting is coming from a direction that’s totally different form the ones around it.”
    “No it’s not,” Atlanta protested with a small yet noticeable scowl.
    Aubrey gave the smaller man a sidelong glance. “Yes it is. Come and look at it, ” The taller of the two urged.
    Atlanta, not one to be proven wrong or told that is artwork is less than top quality, stood alongside the other and leaned in and got up close and personal with is masterpiece. Just what was the other man talking about? This little chrysanthemum was just as appealing as the rest and Atlanta didn’t see anything at all wrong with his tiny creation.
    Atlanta’s face twisted into a pucker as he brooded over the idea that his flower was actually shaded incorrectly, while Aubrey, who stood watching the blond from the sideline closely, allowed a miniscule smirk to spread across his pale face.
    Atlanta truly was adorable, Aubrey had discovered that upon his first run in with the youngest of the Kole males. The man was feisty and stubborn, traits that most would find unattractive in a potential companion no matter how gorgeous and irresistible they were and Atlanta was indeed gorgeous.
    Aubrey wasn’t sure what was in those Kole genes but whatever it was it was very dominating and the world could use a lot more of it. Aubrey wasn’t the slightest bit heterosexual, yet he could see that even Kennedy was what any man would want in a women (minus the psychopathic and the borderline incestuous fondness she had for her brothers); From head to toe each of the Kole children oozed attractiveness. Their feathery soft hair, sharp aristocratic features, flawless alabaster skin, thin yet muscular build, and those eyes! All of them had those eyes, so deep, so entrancing, so mystical, and all so many different shades of blue.
    Blue, blue, blue, blue. Aubrey had never know that the color had so many diverse tints! Electric blue, royal blue, lapis lazuli, azure, turquoise, indigo, sapphire, powder blue, cyan, ultramarine, and peacock. Over the course of the week Aubrey had found himself stricken with a fascination for the color and its range of hues; however none of them left him as captivate as the cobalt did.
    Cobalt, the same tint as the eyes of the man who stood bent at the torso with his nose pressed up against the backdrop for act two, scenes three, five, ten, and eleven. Yes, those eyes that were so similar to Aubrey’s best friend’s, Brooklyn, lapis lazuli pigmented irises but at the same time, so different.
    The entrancing orbs gazed up at Aubrey expressing a numerous amount of emotions: distress for not finding what was wrong with the flower, discomfort at the voice in the back of his head that was incessantly nagging him to “look closer, CLOSER“, self-loathing for doubting his creative brilliance, he was the modern day Michelangelo after all, and finally, anger. Deep, deep anger, at Aubrey.
    Wait, a second, what did he do?
    “Atlanta?” Aubrey questioned in a ginger tone, for he wasn’t exactly sure what was bothering the younger man.
    With his mouth set in a firm, and manly, pout and his arms crossed in a way that most certainly did not resemble a toddler that was refused his milk and cookies, Atlanta gazed unkindly at the copper haired man. “There is nothing wrong with my flower,” The blond main muttered, though to Aubrey’s ears it sounded as if the other was trying to convince himself of that and not him, Aubrey.
    Deciding that it was best to agree with him and not bring his thoughts into question aloud Aubrey gave a sheepish nod. “Yeah, I know.”
    Atlanta‘s jaw went lax and his once stern face took a complete 180° turn into a comical appearance with his beautiful cobalt eyes the size of goose eggs. Aubrey had to bite his bottom lip to keep from bursting into fits of laugher. “You know?” The blond exclaimed.
    “You know?”
    “So, let me get this straight…you know?”
    “You know?”
    “Ow!” Aubrey shouted. “Atlanta, what the heck was that?!”
    “YOU KNOW!”
    “Ow! Atlanta! Atlanta! Atlanta, stop hitting me!” The taller male shouted in agony.
    “You jerk! I was rattling my brain trying to figure out what was wrong and you knew that nothing was wrong!”
    “It was a joke!” The other defended.
    “I don’t joke about my art!” Atlanta replied stubbornly.
    “Okay, okay, I get it. Just-stop attacking me!” Aubrey held his hands up in surrender and gave Atlanta a pleading look.
    Still angered and face still twisted into a manly pout Atlanta gave the older man a stiff nod in agreement; though, he was reluctant to do so. “Fine,” He muttered with difficulty.
    Aubrey beamed and gave Atlanta his brightest smile, “Thanks, and look, I’m sorry for messing with you, it’s just-” Aubrey bite his lip to halt his jabbering mouth before it got ahead of himself and said something that he didn’t want it to.
    Atlanta, still untrusting of the lighting manager, eyed the other man wearily. “You just what?”
    “Nothing,” Aubrey answered quickly, which only raised suspicions.
    “You just what?” Atlanta said again, placing as much emphasis on the single syllable word as possible.
    “Nothing,” Aubrey repeated. He did his best to avoided eye contact, which proved to be a lost cause since his brain urged his neck to turn so that his own aqua colored eyes could stare shamelessly into the cobalt orbs that he adored so much .
    No, he told himself. I can’t do it!
    However, it appeared that the great Gods of the Theatre, whom Hallie had instructed all of the cast and crew to pray to until the show hit stage, was against him today because as soon as his neck snapped into the direction away from Atlanta’s shimmering irises a small alabaster hand reached up and grasped hold of his face forcing him to stare straight into the eyes that he so shamelessly wanted to drown in.
    “If it was nothing then you wouldn’t have brought it up,” The smaller man said sternly, “so tell me, or do I have to beat it out of you.”
    It was meant to be as a joke, but somewhere deep inside Aubrey his masochist was begging for Atlanta to do it. Aubrey was sick, and he knew it.
    “Um…uh,” Aubrey didn’t want to look. He really didn’t want to look at him, but Atlanta proved to be stronger than he looked, a lot stronger.
    “So, can I take that as a yes?” Atlanta implored persistently.
    Atlanta looked taken back, “What?”
    Damn, that wasn’t suppose to come out, Aubrey would’ve smacked himself if he wasn‘t so sure that at this point he would‘ve liked it. Stupid inner masochist.
    “Nothing, nothing.” Aubrey’s hand came up and rubbed his arm in an almost awkward and borderline uncomfortably manner. To be honest, the man had never been so awkward in his 20 years of life. Nothing compared to standing here, on stage with this tiny flaxen haired man staring at him so keenly as if waiting for him to make a wrong move.
    Atlanta scoffed, and reached to push the play button on his CD player but just as he was about to hold the button down a larger hand reached out and wrapped itself around his wrist. Atlanta’s eyes followed the appendage to its owner. He quirked an eyebrow questionably, while Aubrey fidgeted in uncertainty.
    “I-” Aubrey hesitated for a fraction of a second before deciding to heck with it and he just blurted it out. “Would you go out with me?!”
    There he said it and he wished that he hadn’t. “Would you go out with me?” What was he a 13 year old? However it was to late to take it back, he had said it, and now, all he could do was wait. Wait and see how things would play out. He just hoped that-
    Atlanta wouldn’t question him. Now he had to repeat it, he just hoped that he didn’t catch a case of word vomit.
    “Would you go out with me, like on a date?”
    “No, I heard you. I just don’t,” Atlanta stopped talking for a moment then opened his mouth and asked, “Why?”
    “I think you’re cute!” Aubrey shouted, and there goes the word vomit.
    “You what?”
    “I think you’re cute, especially when you get mad and you lips curl into that adorable pout that you normally wouldn’t even think of showing, but you’re to mad to even care. “ Aubrey was making a complete fool of himself and he knew it, but he couldn’t stop himself from talking. “And I like you’re eyes, no I’m infatuated with them. They’re the most gorgeous shade of blue and not in a girly way they’re just so-” Please somebody stop him. “addicting and I-”
    An alabaster hand clapped over his mouth successfully shutting him up and all Aubrey could think about was how Atlanta’s hand was so soft. He could only imagine that the rest of the man’s body was as soft as they were. Wait a second, bad Aubrey. No dirty thoughts!
    “You talk way too much.” Atlanta said slowly. Aubrey nodded and gave a muffled reply around the others hand making Atlanta grimace, before taking his hand away and wiping it against the fabric of his paint splattered denim coveralls.
    Aubrey felt like dying right then and there when he saw what appeared to be a look of disgust on the Kole male’s face. How could he have said something so stupid? So embarrassing? So outright appalling? He was Aubrey McAlister for Pete‘s sake! He was suppose to be as cool as a cucumber at all times! Not as uncool as…Antarctica, which was cold...
    Okay, so what he just thought made no sense at all. But it didn’t have to! It did to him and that was all that mattered at this point since he had already shamed himself and lost all respect that Atlanta could have had for him. He had nothing to live for, nothing at all!
    “Aubrey, Aubrey, Aubrey!” Atlanta chanted in sharp and demanding tone while snapping his black painted fingers in the dazed man’s face.
    Finding that to be the most irritating thing in the world, Aubrey snaked his hand out and captured Atlanta’s velvety soft one into his own. “Please don’t do that,” The taller of the two demanded out of habit.
    Atlanta huffed and snatched his hand from Aubrey’s grip. His arms crossed at his chest and his lips curled into a pout, a very adorable pout. “You’re the one who blanked out,” The blond muttered.
    “Right, “ Aubrey said slowly not enjoying the look of dejection that rested deep within the others eyes. “Sorry, “ he apologized.
    Atlanta’s eyes snapped wide open, as if the man could not believe his ears. “What?”
    “…I’m sorry?” Aubrey repeated, not understanding what the big deal was. He had only said that he was sorry, but by the was Atlanta was acting one would have thought that Aubrey had popped the question. Not that he would have minded doing it it’s just that he didn’t have a ring. And it was way to early in their relationship. And he was sure pretty sure that the man’s siblings wouldn’t be to keen on the idea. Especially Kennedy.
    Hearing the words for a second time Atlanta’s face set into a deep frown that Aubrey found oddly adorable. “I thought so,” He muttered then turned to face the copper haired man with narrowed eyes. “Don’t apologize over stupid things. Its annoying.”
    It was Aubrey’s turn to be surprised. Was the man Bipolar or something? “Oh, yeah I’m-” Aubrey went to say that he was sorry but stopped himself before the second word came out and gave a stiff nod instead. “Okay.”
    “Okay,” Atlanta repeated. He ran nimble fingers, an artist fingers, through his tussled locks and a soft sigh left his lips.
    Aubrey watched closely as the younger mans body language and stance took a complete turn, changing from tense and protective to bashful and timid. Atlanta began to shuffle his weight from one foot to another and rub his arm, mimicking the way the older of the two had been doing only minutes prior. What the heck? Aubrey wondered.
    Atlanta cleared his throat. “So, that whole, um asking me out thing, um wh-where you serious about that?”
    “Huh?” Aubrey asked dumbly, positively speechless as to what was going on. Was Atlanta actually asking him if he was serious? And most importantly, was the blond actually embarrassed about it?
    “Don’t make me repeat it,” The blond snapped and Aubrey couldn‘t stop a small smile from spreading across his face. Atlanta scowled deeply at the taller man, he did not find his embarrassment the least bit amusing. “If you’re going to make a joke out of it then forget I asked!”
    “Wait, what?” Aubrey stuttered, taken back at the hostility in the blonde’s cobalt colored eyes. It was final, Atlanta was Bipolar.
    Aubrey reached his arm out and caught the smaller by the arm as he turned to walk away. “Don’t be that way, I didn’t mean anything by it. It’s just that-”
    Atlanta cut him off. “Please don’t.”
    “Don’t what?”
    “Start that thing where you say things that you normally wouldn’t dream of saying. It’s embarrassing, and not only to you yourself, but for everyone.” Aubrey was 100% sure that he did not imagine the reddening of Atlanta‘s face. He embarrassed him! Aubrey just wanted to squeeze the male tightly and never let him go, but the fear of what would happen if he did stopped him. Aubrey was 100% sure that Atlanta would not hesitate to harm him in the most painful manner possible.
    “Right that,” Aubrey sent the other a weak smile. “And, if that whole situation that just occurred didn’t ruin my chances of getting to take you out, I’d love to, take you out that is.”
    Atlanta’s whole body turned as red as the crimson fabric that Aubrey’s shirt was made of, and Aubrey found it fascinating. After all, he’d never seen anyone’s ears take on that shade red and just witnessing the occurrence gave him the urge to squeeze the little man. But He decided against it for Aubrey was learning it was best to keep thoughts like that to himself. It made his life a lot easier, and safer.
    “Um…great. I mean uh, that’s great, flattering really. Uh-”
    “You can pick him up at 7:30, on the dot. Don’t be late!” Both men jumped, surprise at the appearance of the notoriously known Make-up designer, and her partner in the even more notoriously known Stage Manager,
    Kennedy’s partner in crime, Lyric Reynolds, shoot Aubrey a dirty look. “You heard her!” She shouted and lifted her megaphone up to her lips. “7:30, ON THE DOT! DON’T BE LATE OR WE’LL CASTRATE YOU!”
    Aubrey squeaked and folded his hands over his manly bits, “I don’t remember that last part!”
    “Well be sure that you do now,” Kennedy smirked.
    Atlanta just wanted to die. Why did his haft-sister sister and her cousin have to be nut jobs? It was so embarrassing. Nothing could make this situation worst.
    “What was that about castration?”
    Oh god, Atlanta thought. I have spoke too soon.
    “Why Salem my love!” Lyric said slyly, and the look on her face told Atlanta that she was indeed up to no good. It was made even worse when Kennedy mimicked the look. His world was over.
    “Lyric my dearest,” Salem responded albeit less enthused than Lyric’s greeting but she’d take what she could get. She knew that the tall blond man was stressed out about the show opening up and had a lot of work to do since he was the director. She also knew that her clowning around wasn’t helping ease his stress, but they’d worked together long enough for him to know that that was just the way that she rolled.
    “May I ask just what castration has to do with Alec’s ex-lover and current lover arguing over which deserves him and why?” Salem asked, hid tone implying that he knew the answer already.
    Kennedy opened her mouth and all eyes were on the brave brunette who was about to attempt the impossible, answering an rhetorical question. Not even five minutes later, Kennedy shut her mouth in defeat. “She’s got nothing,” Lyric informed the group, as if the didn’t already know.
    “Thought so, no could you all inform me as to why you are gathered up here and not doing your work?”
    “Oh! Finally something that I can answer!” Kennedy exclaimed ready to blab to the world.
    “No!” Lyric exclaimed taking the words right out of Atlanta’s mouth. He had never been so grateful for the women. “You already had your chance to answer his question. Now it’s my turn.” Remember the keyword was had never.
    “That was different. My question was hard!“ Kennedy childishly argued and Aubrey couldn’t help but wonder if everyone who was related to Kennedy was issues. Atlanta was a Bi-polar emo. Salem was stoic and an all around creeper. Brooklyn, who Aubrey loved like a brother, was air headed and had a early case of Alzheimer's. Zack, her other older brother, because she didn’t have enough of those on her father’s side, was a closet kleptomaniac that had a problem with keeping his hands to himself. Then the she and Lyric suffered from sever case of Peter Pan Disorder. Their family reunions had to be something special.
    Salem, on the other hand, knew that they weren’t special, they were tiring and he was not in the mood for a sneak peek. “Look you know what, I’m sorry I asked. Just carry on.”
    Yes! Atlanta’s mind cheered, while Lyric’s and Kennedy’s were saying the exact opposite. They voiced their opinions, but Salem held his hand up to silence the first cousins with almost identical looking faces.
    “No, I don’t want to hear it. If Lani or Aubrey isn’t going to tell me than I don’t want to hear it,” Salem told them for both he and Atlanta knew that the younger blond wasn’t going to spill. Aubrey on the other hand didn’t see any problem with “spilling the beans” so to speak.
    “I’ll share,” the aqua eyed man stated making all of Kennedy Kole’s relatives, and Miss. Kole herself, stare at him with wide eyes.
    “What?” they exclaimed, two in excitement, one in shock, and one borderline hysteria; however, Aubrey couldn’t tell the difference.
    The man shrugged, “Sure, I don’t see why not..”
    “Um…okay then, share,” Salem replied, still a bit shocked. He wasn’t expecting anyone male to want to share, but if Aubrey wanted to, Salem wasn’t going to stop him and he seemed indifferent enough.
    “Cool, Lyric and Kennedy were just telling me not to be late,“ Aubrey stated.
    “Late? Late for what exactly?” Salem urged with every intention of chewing the boy out if he meant the show, because Salem would not accept tardiness to his show. Especially not from his Lighting Manager.
    Sensing where her eldest brother was going with this, Kennedy frowned. “Not for the show Salem. Gosh, no one would ever think of being late for that.”
    Salem let out a sigh of relief. ”Oh thank god. For a second there I thought that I would have to castrate him.”
    Aubrey frowned, wondering if this Co-Workers threatened to castrate everyone or if he was just lucky. “Um…thanks I think?“
    “Ignore them, and just continue with your explanation.” Lyric was the epithet of eagerness mixed with excitement with just a dash of mischief as she said this. Atlanta however was shaking in distress. He was not excited about what was to be said, or egger, and defiantly not mischievous for he had yet to “come out” to his older brother and this was not how he dreamed about doing it.
    “Yeah, well. They were telling me not to be late in picking Atlanta up…but not for the show of course, or dress rehearsal, because I would never dream of doing that.” Aubrey felt the need to elaborate since his manhood was on the line.
    “Oh,” Salem calmly stated, “Then what for exactly?”
    “For our date.” Lyric and Kennedy both squealed in excitement, as if they were the ones going out with Aubrey, and Atlanta wasn’t sure if he should run and hide or prepare for the chewing out of his life time. So he just waited, and waited, and waited…and waited.
    “Well, it’s about time,” Salem declared and that was so not what the youngest blond was expecting to hear come out of his brother’s mouth, nor was he expecting Aubrey to pout and cutely at that. Did he look that adorable when he pouted?
    Focus Atlanta, focus.
    “Well, I told you I was nervous. What did you expect?”
    “I expected you to listen to me when I tell you something.“ Salem smirked, “I’m not the Director for nothing.”
    “Really, you sure it’s not because of your amazing castration skills?” Aubrey drawled.
    “Hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.”
    Okay, what was going on? Atlanta was honestly lost, and he decided it best to share this information with everyone else. Their reaction? Looks that clearly asked, “Are you an idiot.” Well he must have been since he was completely clueless as to what was going on, and he told them that too!
    “Lani, you can’t honestly say that you haven’t noticed that Aubrey has been desperate for your attention for the last week or so,” Kennedy asked her brother while ignoring Aubrey’s objections to the use of the word desperate and Salem’s scoffs at the man’s protest.
    “He’s been-you’ve been-what?”
    Lyric gave Aubrey a harsh shove and a look that said, “Time to put on your big boy pants and fess up.”
    “Okay, okay!” Aubrey exclaimed, though no one had said anything aloud. “So, anyway,” He told a still confused Atlanta. “I may, or may not have been following you around like a love sick puppy for the last few days.”
    “May not have?” Salem inquired.
    “Okay, so I may have, may. What’s a few words here or there?”
    “Uh, the difference between the truth and a lie,” Kennedy informed him. “Atlanta likes the truth, don’t you Atlanta?”
    “You’ve liked me? For weeks?!” Atlanta spluttered.
    Aubrey sent the man that amused look that he hated. “You honestly didn’t notice?”
    “Well, sorry,” Atlanta snapped. “But I was a little to busy hating your guts to notice.” Ah! There was that Bi-polarness that Aubrey had come to know and, well not love since it was still early in their relationship, but he did enjoy it-to some extent.
    Aubrey found himself laughing. “Good thing eh? If you did notice, that would have made for an interesting conversation and I’m not sure how I would have explained that.”
    “Probably the same way you handled asking me out,” Atlanta muttered good-heartedly.
    Aubrey shot the man a playful scowl. “Well, you didn’t exactly make it easy you know. I swear, you‘re like Bi-polar or something.”
    “Or something,” Atlanta told Aubrey.
    Aubrey nodded in agreement. “Or something,” He smiled, “definitely something.”
    The two shares a silent moment, just starling into one another’s eyes. Cobalt to aqua, aqua to cobalt, and the world around them disappeared. And Atlanta figured that maybe he could survive the rest of his time working with his crazy family without just Alex Turner and his magically accented voice.
    Then again, He thought as he rubbed his post flash eyes, maybe not.