Time passed. Time in which Falin simply wasn’t there. Long enough for him to miss one of Sterling’s classes. He wasn’t in the game - the counter for days since he’d last logged on counting up and up. He wasn’t even on the messaging service that they used to chat on. It wasn’t like him to be gone so long. Even when he was on tour he usually was online. Particularly so this year as he’d been chosen to be in the Olympics for France. He’d been practically pushed into being on twitter, tumblr, and every other kind of social media. Half of it was run by his managers, but it still required him to spend his time making comments and posting pictures of himself in practice.
It was something that Falin had laughingly complained about to Sterling many times. He said that it took valuable time away from his training. Yet… now Falin was on none of it.
For a few days Sterling let it slide. Falin was sensitive, and the weekend had been a lot for even someone who had retreated from the outside world as Sterling had.
But patience wears thin. While Sterling found himself unable to send more than a single curious message to Falin's PM's, he did send an official email from his college address to let Falin know of his missed class. It was frustrating for him, and by the end of it he wondered if he had been abandoned.
Then, like a lightning bolt out of nowhere he showed up on their preferred messaging service. The little ‘online’ note beside his name flashing on for the first time in what had become far too long. Sterling! I’m so sorry that I haven’t messaged you sooner.
The message was very much Falin online, looser and more easy-going in his writing than he was in real life.
Sterling had to pause before answering Falin, his fingers drifting aimlessly above his keyboard as if he couldn't decide how to respond, or even if he SHOULD.
The pressure felt like a weight pushing on him until he pressed his mouth to a thin line and tapped his reply out on hesitant fingers.Is everything alright? It's been a while.
There was barely a pause on Falin’s end. Things took a very unexpected turn while I was in France. My aunt was very displeased. Things are a mess.
I didn't know you had an aunt.[/i] Sterling twisted his mouth to the side before giving in and getting comfortable in his chair, his fingers flying over the keyboard.
[i]Is it something you would like to talk about? Perhaps I can help.I thought I mentioned her while we were together. I guess I didn’t.
There were a few seconds of silence on Falin’s side as he thought about that, and about his answer to Sterling. In the end the message was answered several times and deleted out of hand before it came out the other side.I really would love to, but I’m not sure you have all the time it’d take. Besides it’s a very long story.
Sterling felt a cold knot settle in his stomach, knowing how he would respond and knowing it was not the right thing to do. But hitting send anyways.I see. Thank you for letting me know at least.
Of course I let you know! I haven’t even let my trainer know I’m alive yet. He’s probably having kittens. Lol I’m so sorry.I understand, you had best let everyone know you're not missing any longer. I will still be around.
Sterling frowned at himself, rubbing at his face and sparing a moment to be glad he wasn't wearing makeup today. He was being dramatic, and he knew it.
He had been raised better than that.
Before Falin could respond he tacked on a quick message. I am glad you're okay, Falin. But you’re most important to me Sterling.
The message came out right on the heels of Sterling’s message as though Falin had been right in the middle of typing it, and he had.
Everyone else can wait. I’d much rather relax after everything and talk with you. If you’re not too busy dealing with delinquent students that is. No, Falin. Please, let your manager know at least. I will feel guilty if you don't.
If I send him a quick text do you have time to video chat with me?
Sterling sighed. Of course.
There was a long delay as Falin sent a quick text to his manager only for the man to send a bevy of them back to him that he felt suddenly obligated to return. Thus he sent another message to Sterling.Sorry that took longer than expected. Do you still have time?
By that time Sterling had poured himself something stronger than tea to drink and was debating putting his face on or giving up waiting and turning in for the night. Falin's message made him pause and set his glass down, typing from a standing position while leaning over his chair.I do.
Instantly there was the ring of warning before the video call icon popped up and subsequently Falin along with it. The swordsman looked tousled and tired. A bit wan around the edges where he hadn’t been the last time they’d spoken to one another. He sighed the moment that he laid eyes on Sterling, a soft smile coming to his lips. “You had to wait for me again. I can not seem to stop doing things I need to apologize for.”
Sterling was sure he also looked tired to Falin, though he found that the light from his fireplace cast enough shadow that it hid much of his blemishes. “It couldn't be helped. It's good to see you, Falin.”
With no makeup on Sterling's white lashes made him look perpetually half asleep, and his hair was loose and around his shoulders, like two curtains of falling snow.
He moved, exiting the camera's view as he went to get his glass of whiskey and seat himself in his chair.
“It’s good to see you too. I’ve missed you.”
Falin settled back a little, tipping his camera up and then quickly readjusting. It was easy to tell that he was back in some little hotel bed. Too many pillows piled up and the linens done up too tightly. That, or his home looked remarkably like one… Though after so long chatting together it seemed far more likely that it was the hotel room.
“I would ask you how you are, but I feel like I owe you a bit of an explanation.”“I would appreciate that, Falin. I am upset that you disappeared without warning.”
Despite what he said, Sterling seemed composed, taking a sip from his glass so that the ice clinked pleasantly. “I am trying not to be, but I can't help it.”
“You have every right to be.”
Falin’s expression was soft, watching Sterling’s every movement. “It was actually my aunt who called me away from my trip. I expected that I would be away a few days but…”
He sighed and pushed his shoulder-length hair behind one shoulder and looked troubled. “It’ll make this story a little shorter if I explain that after… after everything my aunt gained power of attorney over my affairs.” Falin glanced back toward the computer and thus
Sterling. “I told her about our date and she threatened to ah… cut me off as it were.”
This garnered a reaction. Sterling set his glass aside and leaned in to the camera, a furrow growing between his brows.“Why was that necessary? To take over your finances not to tell her about me.”
This felt more like Sterling than earlier. His disquiet overturned to focus on Falin's problem.“Why was it necessary for her to take over my finances?”
Falin looked confused for a moment. “I do not think that it was necessary so much as she did it. She saw me in a position where I was unable to take care of myself for a time and… took advantage.”“And you cannot challenge that now?”
Sterling reached up and pushed a hand through his hair, the feathery strands shifting easily and settling in a new position.“It sounds as though for aunt is not a kind woman, Falin.”
Suddenly Falin let out a harsh sudden bark of laughter, his head thrown back and his shoulders shaking. There were little after-tremors of the laugh, one hand rising to his eyes as he shook his head. “Kind. Kind is not a word that I think any would use for her. No.”
He let his hand fall and more seriously continued.“I tried once soon after she did it, but my scars were proof enough with her word that I was… unhinged and so… I never tried again.”
His visage firmed. “I will though, if she pushes me on this.”“Admirable.”
Sterling shook his head, looking Falin over. Really looking at him, at his worn face and firm eyes. Feeling something he wasn't ready to put a name to, yet.“You look tired. Have you been able to sleep?”
Falin shook his head. “Not more than a blink since I last saw you.”
The question seemed to age him, as if only now did he let himself feel how tired he was. This long without sleep? It was wonders that Falin was still upright at all. “How long ago was that?”“Far too long.”
Sterling reached as if to touch Falin's cheek, breaking the motion when his brain realized he wasn't there. “You should rest, if you can.”
“It was important to make sure you knew I was still here.”
There was such earnestness in Falin’s eyes now, even through the exhaustion. “I can not imagine how worried I would be if you vanished for as long as I did.”
Sterling offered a rare smile, crooked as it was. “I admit, I thought you had decided it was over.”
He looked away from the camera, finishing his drink before the ice completely diluted the whiskey.“I'm glad you're alright.”
When Sterling looked back Falin was much closer to the screen. “I am not so cruel a man my love, to do such a thing.”
His fingers curled around the edges of his laptop screen though Sterling couldn’t see that. “My heart is not so easily won, or these words so easily given that I would simply say them.”
Sterling's face went from his usual placid calm to surprise to embarrassed in rapid succession, flush rising on his cheeks that he covered with a hand to try and hide the unexpected response from Falin.“Ah. I… you've caught me off guard, Falin.”
He was well aware of Falin's feelings, but somehow this time it startle him, for all it shouldn't have. “I'm sorry, for my doubt.”
Dropping his hand Sterling tried to smile. “It was unkind of me.”
Falin smiled, clearly pleased that he had made Sterling blush, but the expression faded and he shook his head. “You had reason to doubt Sterling. A newly confessed love, and I vanish? Do not apologize to me. Or if you must…”
He smiled again. “Apologize by coming to the summer event on Savior with me.”
Sterling snorted. “Of course I will. You need someone to watch your back after all.”
He grew serious for a moment.“Though you will need to make up for your missing class time if you want to stay in the lesson.”
If he had been wearing his glasses he would have looked over the top of them at his truant student.“Hai Sensei.”
Falin nodded to his camera properly and then smiled. “In the meantime, I may be on a bit sporadically. I am in Japan for an expo and photo shoot.”
He grimaced at that last. “And then I will be on tour practically constantly before the Olympics.”
At the thought of Falin's schedule Sterling shook his head. “You live a busy life, my dear. I cannot wait to see you in the summer games.”
“You'll be magnificent.”
“Knowing that you will be watching this year means that I will do my best.”
He traced the edge of Sterling’s face on his computer wistfully. “I wish you could be there.”
Sterling smiled, mellow and warm. “It would be wonderful if I could. At least I can watch it though. No matter where I am.”
He missed Falin suddenly, a gut wrenching feeling that came from nowhere and lingered as loneliness.
Falin felt the same way, but he sighed and let his hand fall from the computer. “Well, to be on my best game I am going to need to get some sleep. I will talk to you again when I can…. And Sterling? I love you.”
Sterling smiled, resting a hand over his heart. “Thank you Falin. Sleep well, I will cheer you on in your dreams.”
A second later the screen went dark, leaving them both alone to find sleep.