Level 2 - The Chocolate Loving Arch-mage.Mature

The nearest train station to my house is a half an hour drive away. It’s not the biggest but it has old world character, with bits of modern technology jutting out of it here and there. The train station is connected to a football stadium and is usually crammed full of people. As I was driving to the station I noticed the temperature had begun to seriously drop. There could be snow on the way. I’ve got enough supplies at home to survive the winter and my car is a modified A.P.C so a bit of snow won’t stop it. (It was far better than buying the popular 4x4.) I also decided for my 21st birthday I wanted to re-take my driving test. Sounds boring? Well I decided to do it in Russia. No one in my local area was insane enough to do lessons out in the moors where I live and they certainly wouldn’t go to Siberia. I did though. Rough British terrain is far easier than driving at 70mph in the snowy forests and waste lands of Russia. Oh and for an added dose of insanity, my A.P.C is a convertible, because that’s just what every heavily armoured, mini tank needs; clearly.

I took a seat in the small café at the front of the station, it was entirely empty. I’ve never seen this place like this in all the time I’ve lived out here. I heard a low, deep and very British (not snobby, posh British, but it was enough to make my heart leap,) voice behind me. “Could I get a small hot chocolate please?” I turned my head. My eye level was at the same height as his arse. Oh god it looks so perfect. So well-proportioned in tight black jeans too plus it was just the right size for my hand. I must have died and gone to heaven. Would it be so bad of me to just reach out and grab it? I shook my head. I have to clear my head of these thoughts. For god sake Masahiko stop staring! The man sat facing me at the other end of the café. I could feel my throat tightening and my inner fan boy froze. There was something about the guy’s eyes I recognised. A memory I’d long forgotten began gnawing at my brain. The most bizarre mix of de-ja-voux and lust washed over me. I thumbled and yanked my phone out of my pocket. There must be a reason, it’s like I’ve met him before. As the man was staring into the bottom of his cup I began flicking through my photo album. I narrowed it down to the last time I was in England. My thumb hovered over a photo. It was from a party I went to when I was in College. I brought it up on screen. It was me playing guitar hero and at the other side of the screen was a guy. This man looked similar, his hair was longer and he looked older but the face shape was identical. I rose and went to the café’s till. “Masahiko! Why I didn’t even see you come in. How’ve you been?”

“Hello Joyce, I’ve been good. Urm, can I have a large chai latte and a large of whatever that guy just had.”

Joyce looked confused for a brief second then almost down hearted. “Ok dearie I’ll bring them over for you.”

I passed her a £10 note. “Keep the change, Joyce.” With that I turned and made my way to the guys table. My stomach tightened with every step and I was glad to finally sit down. The man looked up startled. “Hi, I hope this doesn’t come across as too weird but I need to ask you something? I’ll make it worthwhile.” Joyce placed the large chai latte and hot chocolate between us and then returned to the back of the café. The scent of the light spices and orange from the hot chocolate infused the air. I steadied my hand as I lifted my phone to show him the picture. “Look this was from a long while ago and you look so much  like the guy in the picture. He was somebody I lost contact with years ago. I was just wondering…”

His eyes filled with a strange sort of recognition as if he’d just been snapped out of a daze. He lifted his phone to show me a picture of himself holding a guitar stood next to a blue haired guy screaming into a microphone. “Oh my god… you’re him aren’t you! I never even got your name last time I met.”

He grinned. “It sure has been a while, hey? Masahiko wasn’t it?”

My voice sounded breathless, I couldn’t believe I just bumped into him like this. That boy, he was cute at the time but now… “Yeah that’s me.” I tried to sound as cool as possible to hide my racing heartbeat. “So, you live out here?”

“No I was visiting friends. Well they’re supposed to be my friends. That Samuel you were friends with and the other two that were at that party. They’ve changed since they moved closer to the town centre. Samuel’s bitter and the other two have just turned nasty. I think they hate me for some reason, but I shouldn’t be telling you my sob story,” he said laughing.

“I can’t see why they’d hate you, unless you made that really fat cat of theirs do exercise or something.” It was hard to hold back my laughing, something about talking to him just felt so natural, as if I could just sit back and let the words fall out. Pleasure spread through me as he laughed so hard he semi-chocked on his hot chocolate. I picked up the chai latte and sat back on the café’s sofa. “So how come your out here? Trying to escape them?” I noticed some large, heavy white flakes falling against the window behind the guy.

“I was waiting for a train …” Abruptly a loud siren and voice cut through our pleasant atmosphere with the swiftness of an elven rogue but the power of a blundering ogre. “ALL TRAINS ARE NOW CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER.”

“Well I guess I’m screwed. I can’t believe this country got through two world wars, yet it wets itself at the first sight of snow,” the guy just starred angrily into the hot chocolate.

“Tell me about it. I live in the moors. A little bit of snow is nothing to scream about. When its 4ft deep outside then I’ll start panicking.” This guy seemed so much happier just from talking to me and yet I still didn’t know his name. “You know I never got your name?”

“The names Zane, it’s good to finally see you again, Masahiko.” I could just see a slight hint of blush beneath his hair. “Well thanks for the drink. Let me know if I can make it up to you sometime.” He passed me a piece of card with mobile number on it. “If the trains are off I best head out. I’ve got to find somewhere to sleep. I’m not going back there again.” Zane tossed his silky hair free of the expensive looking, black headphones around his neck and finished the last dragues of his hot chocolate. I felt my phone vibrate in my left hand. “Hang on Matt I’ll give you a lift. Let me just get this.” I downed the last of my latte as I placed my phone to my ear. “Uruha, hi dude.”  Uruha’s familiar, soft, low and yet slightly bitter tones filled my ear. “Masahiko we’re stuck at the airport station in Manchester. All the trains to yours are cancelled. Something about weather, are you ok?”

“It’s just some snowflakes,” I said, bitterness tainting my voice.

“Well we’ve bumped into your sister and she says she’ll take us to Mrs Hull’s house and will try bring us over tomorrow.”

“Ok. Let me know when you get there. Stay safe dude.” Part of me wanted to rush the conversation with my closest friend. I wanted to go back to talking to this mysterious Zane. “I’m sorry dude, I’ve got to go, and my battery is on its way out.” I know I should be nicer to Uruha, I just couldn’t help it. Zane was stood near the door of the station looking frantically out over the car park. The snow was now up and over my boots. It was falling far too fast and the sky was practically white, so there must be a lot more to come. I looked at Zane. He looked panicked; he was on the phone to someone. I’m guessing he’s as stuck as Uruha. God this is going to sound dodgy no matter how I put it. I headed to him, “Hey dude, are you stuck?” He nodded worried. “Common, this is going to sound weird but, well I know we’ve only just met, well, actually re-met. You can stay with me tonight if it’s easier. I make a mean hot chocolate.”

The worry seemed to melt off his face and I was glad I couldn’t do the same to the snow. I felt my inner fan boy start up again but I quickly smothered it. We walked to my ‘car’ and Zane stopped suddenly. “This is your car? No wonder you’re confident to drive in this weather.” Small clouds emerged from his mouth. For a guy well over 6 feet probably closer to seven foot, with a mean grin, he definitely has a soft laugh. “It was this or a tractor. I thought this was far cooler. Picked it up in Russia. You like?” I opened the driver’s side door, grabbed the bar above the door and swung myself in. Zane did the same; his head grazed the top of the door on the way in. I flicked on the indoor lights and switched on the engine. “Hell yes! It’s amazing. It even has enough head room,” he said grinning wildly. I started to pull out of the car park. The half foot of snow outside didn’t even phase it. This machine loved snow, and I loved driving through it. “So where do you live Zane? Is it really far from here?”

“You remember where that party was? Another good 10 minutes out from there.”

“Geez that’s like a 2 hour drive. No wonder you were catching the train! My house is only half an hour from here although it’s mostly up-hill. There are plenty of rooms and I’ve got enough food to last till January. So you’ll be fine. Plus my neighbours are only a few meters from my house. So I’m not totally in the middle of nowhere.”

 

 

*****

It took slightly longer than half an hour to get back to my house. I can’t believe I invited Zane, an almost complete stranger over. Am I that desperate, or just that nice? I grabbed his bags and took them to the second floor bed rooms. I put his bags in the room across the landing from mine. That way if he needs… help… he hasn’t got far to go. I took an extra blanket and throw and put them on the bed. “There, that should keep you warm. There’s a dressing gown on the back of the door. Bathroom is next door and if you need help with anything at night lift the phone receiver and press the button with the rose. I’ll make you a hot chocolate. Do you want whipped cream and all the trimmings?” I stared at Zane, forcing myself to focus on the back of his head and not anywhere lower. He didn’t even notice and just stood frozen, looking at the room in awe. “Urm yes please.” I remembered the last time I had a guy over. My stomach hurt from the memories with Samuel and I darted out the room. As I got to the kitchen my feet started to slide on the tilled floor. I steadied myself on the worktop. I grabbed a pan, milk, cocoa powder, chocolate, cream and 2 latte style glasses and spoons. I set the pan on the stove and filled it with milk. I pinched the bridge of my nose; this is not going to be like the last time. He’s just a guy I met a few years back, who I just happened to bump into and was stuck in snow. I felt myself sliding down the fridge door. “This is not the same. This is not the same.” My left hand ran through my hair as my head rested on my knees. My right hand had steadied me and was now flat to the floor. My head was spinning. “This is not the same” Above me I could hear the milk starting to burn and footsteps on the stairs. I lifted myself up, despite my queasiness and wanting to curl up on the floor.  I hastily chucked the powder and some chocolate into the pan. I grabbed a whisk from a draw at my side and began to whisk the mixture, just as Matt came downstairs. “Nice house you have here, Masahiko.” My heart leapt at the way his deep western voice pronounced the name. He stood smiling looking over the lip of the counter. “I’ll have to give you the tour some other time. Make yourself comfortable,” my voice slightly shaky and I gestured to one of the bar stools on the other side of the counter. “Thanks. Are you all right Masahiko? You look pale.”  Times like this I really wish I was like one of those manga characters who always have everything under control. Sadly I think British guys are my achelees heel, and a very good looking, tall one was staring straight at me. “Yeah I’m fine. It’s just these lights; I’m also naturally slightly paler than most Japanese. I think it’s something to do with the British weather.” I tried to laugh it off as I poured the hot chocolate mix into the latte glasses. I topped them both with cream and added chocolate curls, a chocolate pokey and chocolate sauce, then inserted the spoons. I handed him one of the cups and headed into the lounge. I sat down on the velvet arm chair and rested my drink on the side table. I would sit on the leather chaise but standing almost face to face with Matt was enough to make me want to faint. I dare to think what would happen if I sat next to him. Although I have a feeling it might involve a combo of Police and a restraining order. I crossed my legs and began to sip my drink. “So what happened to you Masahiko? You just disappeared and Samuel almost hit me when I asked what happened to you.” The mention of Samuel made my hot chocolate want to hurl its way out of my mouth again. “Oh I just took a …very … extended gap year,” I laughed away my instinct to puke.  “I went and lived with my friends in Japan for a few years. So Zane what are you into?” He choked on his hot chocolate getting cream on his nose. “I meant music wise, and games and manga and stuff,” I spluttered nervously. Oh god why did I just say that. He’ll probably never talk to me again after today.  “I like visual kei and any manga going.” It was my time to choke. “Seriously what bands do you like?”

“I usually listen to the stuff from the anime I watch.”  I picked up the remote for the sound system, turned it on and played some music through my phone wirelessly. “Sweet. It’s awesome to find another guy who likes the same stuff I do.” I stopped myself before I could mess up even further. Seriously, why is he making me so nervous. Is it simply my lack of male friends? Or am I really just that hopeless. “So Masahiko, what did you have to do to get a place like this. It’s so amazing and the scenery is seriously pretty.”

“Oh nothing really, just a massive boss fight with a tyrant. I guess I lucked out,” I muttered the last bit. The phone beside me rang and startled me. I picked up, on the other end was a very tired sounding Uruha. Zane gestured that he’d go to bed and I mouthed goodnight at him. My best friend had only just got back after almost a 2 hour car journey and was exhausted. He was staying in my old room for the night and promised he’d try get to my house in the morning. After a while I headed upstairs to my room. I turned back and saw the now occupied door frame. “Goodnight Masahiko. Thanks for this I really owe you one,” Zane said as he headed to the bathroom. He’d changed into pyjamas since he’d come up. He was wearing shorts and a dressing gown. I could almost swear he wasn’t wearing a top underneath. That was my queue; I really had to go lie down before I made a mess of my pants.

The End

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