Enter The Realm of the Pendragon

Duplicity

Genre: Drama
Rating: 15
Word Count: 5,244
Author's Notes: Written for NaNoWriMo 2005
Claire is a lowly administration assistant in a local government office where she keeps very much to herself.
Dante is a young perky gay blond who does something important in marketing but seems to spend most of his time hanging out in a coffee shop with a select group of friends.
They live entirely seperate lives until one day; Dante disappears and only Claire knows where he is. She soon realises that he owes his life to her in more than one way. The question is, which one of them will survive?

Chapter Seven

"So how was the date?" an eager voice asked.

"I've just this second got in! Can I take my coat off first?"

"I suppose so."

"Am I allowed to get a coffee?"

"Miles! Get Dante a coffee!" Shelley hung over the back of the sofa and yelled across the shop. Miles looked up from the counter and nodded with a grin. Shelley slipped back down and turned to look expectantly up at the young man.

Dante laughed. "Eager for something?"

"Yes, gossip. Now spill."

He grinned and threw himself down next to her on the sofa. "What on earth makes you think I'm the sort of boy to gossip about my dates?"

She smacked him playfully on his arm. "Because you always do."

He stuck his tongue out at her in response as Miles brought over his coffee. "So, are you kissing and telling, Dante?" He settled himself down in the armchair and looked hopefully over at the young blond.

"Shouldn't you be serving customers?" Dante pointed out.

"What customers?" he responded. Dante looked round the Shop and realised that he and Shelley were the only ones. "Where's everyone else?"

Miles shrugged. "Busy, I suppose. Gregor is probably working on his thesis and I haven't seen Maria for days. Esmé is off on that course if you remember and won't be back till Friday so it looks like your audience is going to have to be just me and Shelley. Now, spill it. And yes, I know you already did that last night."

Dante pretended to look offended for a moment. "Actually, no, I didn't," he admitted with a little wistful shrug.

Shelley and Miles were shocked. "What happened?"

Dante took a sip of his coffee and leant back on the sofa.

"Okay, did I tell you how I met this guy at all?"

Shelley shook her head but Miles thought he knew. "Isn't it someone you met online?"

"Online?"

Dante nodded. "Shelley, didn't I tell you I joined up this internet dating site a couple of weeks ago?" She replied in the negative so he began to explain.

"It's a site especially for men to find other men. You can send messages to blokes you like the look of and chat to them, all this kind of thing. I thought it sounded pretty good, especially seeing as it's all free. Even if I didn't meet anyone through it, it's not like I would have wasted any money. I spent a while filling out the profile, it's really rather in depth, they want to know about the stuff you're into in bed, any fetishes you might have and how big your cock is, all this kind of stuff. I suppose it's worth it if you get interest from the blokes who are into the same kind of things that you are, it narrows down the field a bit and puts you in touch with the right kind of people so you don't just get bombarded with messages from everyone and have to pick out the ones that suit. I put a couple of pictures on there too, so I did get quite a few general sort of messages saying that I was cute and all this kind of thing. No one really seemed to be interested in me as such though. Then this bloke came along and left me a message, saying that he liked the sound of me from what he'd read and also from my photos. So I had a look at his information and he sounded okay, he didn't look too bad either. Bonus was that he wasn't actually that far away from me either. So I sent him a reply saying that I thought he was okay too. He wasn't online then so I didn't expect anything more to happen that night.

"The next night, I logged on and after a little while, I got a chat invitation from him. You know what it's like when you start talking to someone new, it's always a bit awkward because you're getting to know each other and it's all about likes and dislikes and that kind of thing. Well, we got chatting and he seemed quite nice. He didn't really bother talking about what kind of music or films he was into, he was more interested in telling me that he thought I was really cute and sweet and just the sort of boy he was looking for. It was all very flattering, I can tell you. He was certainly quite a charmer, made me feel really special and wanted and that's a hard thing to resist.

"Now you know I like older guys, but there are limits as to how old I'm going to go! He was about ten years older than me, so I thought that was fine. I didn't have any problems with that." He grinned. "I like older guys, they have money to buy me stuff. And Lucas certainly wanted to spoil me from what he said; he told me about the things he wanted to buy for me and the places he wanted to take me. It was all very nice."

"Dante!" Shelley cried, astounded.

"Oh, they have other benefits too," he added. "Own car, own house, that kind of thing."

"Own hair if you're lucky," Miles said.

Dante looked pointedly at Miles' head. "Or if they're lucky. Anyway. We'd been talking for a while and getting on quite well so he asked if I was interested in meeting up. I was a bit unsure, I mean I've never met anyone off the internet before; he could be a mad axe murderer with a penchant for cute blond boys or anything for all I knew. He suggested going out for a meal first and then whatever happened after that, happened. I was happier with that, meeting in a public place is much better than going straight to his house.

"We arranged to meet up at this nice Chinese restaurant in the town centre at half seven last night. I hate being late for anything so of course, I get there about ten minutes early and there's no sign of him. He was actually a bit late, I was beginning to wonder if I'd been stood up when he arrived and said he'd had trouble with traffic getting home from work. I was a bit surprised when he turned up, I didn't realise it was Lucas at first. The pictures he'd showed me didn't actually look like him. I don't think they were really old photos or anything like that, just that in the pictures it was hard to tell how much he was thinning on top and how wrinkled his face was. It all made him look so much older in reality. So we go in, get a nice table in a quiet area, place our order. It was a bit uncomfortable to start off with, I guess it's like that sometimes when you finally meet someone that you've been chatting to for a while. We started talking about just general things though, like how our days had been and that, but then we got onto other subjects and the conversation just flowed."

Dante blushed a little and lowered his gaze to his hands. "It was kind of weird, there was this... I don't know, chemistry or something. I kept just wanting to touch him for some reason, to have that little bit of physical contact. I didn't really do anything about it though, mainly because I couldn't come up with any decent reason for actually touching him. I've never had that before. He said afterwards that he had the same thing, he kept wanting to have a bit of physical contact with me too."

Shelley smiled. "Aw," she said softly.

Dante sighed a little and continued. "We had a really nice meal and when we'd finished eating, we didn't really want it to end. So he asked if I wanted to go back to his place. And I said yes. That's when it got a little weird."

Shelley and Miles exchanged glances. Dante didn't look up, he continued to stare at his hands, at his fingers twisting against each other, now playing with the end of his tie. It was as though it was easier for him to share the events of the past night this way, without seeing the eyes of his audience watching him and urging him on.

"He didn't live all that far away, so we walked to his flat. I thought he was going to take my hand at one point, but for some reason, he didn't. I know not all guys are happy enough to do that in public though so it didn't bother me. We got in the flat, took our coats off, and then he took me through to the living room. I was a bit surprised by that, with the extent of the chemistry that there had been earlier, I rather expected him to jump on me in the hallway the second we got through the door. He asked me if I wanted a drink, and said something about wanting to make sure that his boy was happy. I didn't really pay a great deal of attention to it to be honest, I just said that I was fine. It was rather slightly more uncomfortable than it had been at the restaurant because I felt somehow like there was something going on and I wasn't sure what it was.

"So Lucas came over to me, stroked my hair a little. Now, he's taller than I am by a couple of inches so I had to look up to him slightly and I think he liked that. He gave me a hug, then took my hand and led me over to the sofa. He sat down and I was going to sit next to him until he indicated that I should sit on his lap. You know me, I have no problems with sitting on people's laps so I was quite happy to do so. But then he starts talking to me in that kind of voice that you use when you're talking to a young kid. He's saying how smart I look and how cute I am in a suit and tie and how he likes his boy to look smart and tidy.

"By this point he hasn't even so much as kissed me, but I'm sitting on his lap so I do my usual thing and wriggle a bit. He then says something about 'Is my boy after something?' so I reply that I thought he'd invited me here for more than just to sit on his lap. He says 'Eager little boy, aren't you?' and I just grin. We finally get to kissing and I can feel that he's getting hard so I'm rubbing my arse against him a bit. I think he was kind of nibbling on my neck or something like that, I know his voice was a bit muffled so at first I didn't realise what he'd said. It sounded like he'd said 'Naughty boy, needs wanking', so I didn't think a great deal of it especially when he started to undo my trousers. I thought he was going to give me a hand job or something, not overly exciting but I hoped it might lead to something a bit more.

"Then all of a sudden, he kind of tips me off his lap so I end up face down on the sofa and he's kind of kneeling behind me. He grabs at my trousers and yanks them down and the next thing I know, he's hitting my arse. Then I realise that he said 'naughty boy, needs spanking' not wanking. That's what you get for talking with your mouth full, I guess, it makes you incoherent.

"Now, I don't mind being spanked, it was one of the things that I'd put on my profile so that wasn't a great problem. I would have preferred it if we'd discussed this kind of thing first though, I would have felt more comfortable that way knowing what was going to happen. Usually, if you're wanting to get into anything a bit kinky, you ask the other person involved to make sure that they're okay with it and to set boundaries and stuff. From what I could gather, Lucas doesn't seem to bother with that kind of thing though, he seems to go by his own rules.

"Anyway, next moment without any warning whatsoever, he grabbed hold of my wrists, pulling them over my head and pinning them down with one hand. Then, with the other, he's reaching down to rub at my cock through my boxers. It all happened so fast that I didn't really have time to react and the second he starts working on my cock, I'm not exactly focused on anything other than what he's doing. So, he's leaning over me like this, one hand above my head, the other between my legs so in this position he's got his mouth close to my ear. As a result I very definitely hear the next thing he says which is 'Daddy is going to fuck you so hard'. I swear my dick just curled up and died!"

There was a moment of stunned silence. "Ew!" Shelley cringed, wrinkling up her nose in distaste.

Dante shook his head. "I mean, I'm all for a bit of role play and I don't mind being dominated, but sheesh, if you're going to want to do something like that, ask me first! Don't just starting doing all this 'Daddy loves his boy' and all that kind of thing with no warning!"

"Did he say that too?" Miles asked.

"Oh yeah, that came right after the 'Daddy is going to fuck you so hard' comment."

"Did you know about this whole Daddy thing?" Shelley asked. She'd drawn her legs up and was sat on the sofa hugging them to herself as some kind of barrier between herself and this strange man.

"Well, he reckons it was something we'd discussed but as far as I was recall, it was mentioned once briefly in passing. It seems that he'd kind of jumped on it, thought that I was willing to be his boy and everything. That's why he was so happy to spoil me and promise to buy me all this stuff, it's part of the whole thing as far as he's concerned."

"What did you do?" Shelley asked in concern.

"Well, I actually tried to sit up pretty quickly in shock and nearly ended up head butting him in the face by accident. Thankfully that meant he let go of my hands so I was able to get out from under him. I said that I wasn't comfortable with the way he wanted to take things, he yelled at me, said I was a tease and tried to make out that I was doing this on purpose to hurt him or something. It didn't make a great deal of sense and he was giving me the creeps so I pretty much just grabbed my coat and left."

Miles shook his head in amazement. "God, what a total arsehole!"

"Yeah, I know. I tried to say about how it was all a bit vague and how he should have done it properly but he just didn't want to know. Bit of a lucky escape there, I think."

"Certainly sounds like it," Shelley agreed.

Dante took in a huge breath and let it out in a great sigh of relief. "I don't know, I always seem to end up with creeps and weirdos. Why can't I just get a nice guy for once, a nice normal kind of bloke who I can talk to and share things with and just be... well, just be me with?"

Miles leaned forward. "Because those kind of boys either already have boyfriends or don't exist."

"Hmph," Dante pouted. "In that case, I'll have another coffee while I wait." Miles stood up and reached over to ruffle at the young man's hair before picking up his empty mug and going over to the counter. As he was making up another coffee, the door opened, letting a blast of cold air into the Shop and a young man walked in.

"Hi," said the newcomer. "Is this a good place for a hot drink and a friendly chat?"

Three pairs of eyes turned towards the stranger. Although most new arrivals got a cursory glance upon their first appearance in the Shop, this particular one got more than most due to there not being anyone else in apart from the group of regulars. Apart from being well bundled up against the cold, there wasn't much more that they could tell.

"It certainly is," Miles replied. "What can I get you?"

"I'd love a hot chocolate," he replied, rubbing his hands together. "It's freezing out there."

Dante knelt on the sofa and leant over the back of it, all the better to look at the newcomer. "Actually, Miles, can I have a hot chocolate too? I think I'll start bouncing off the walls if I have any more coffee."

Shelley laughed. "You bounce off the walls whether you have caffeine or not." She gave the stranger a friendly smile. "Come join us, Miles will bring your drink over."

"Oh right. Thank you very much." He walked over to them, unfastening his coat and unwrapping the scarf from round his neck. He settled in the armchair, shrugging off his coat and letting it puddle on the seat behind him. He pulled the scarf from round his neck and the hat from off his head, revealing cropped dark brown hair that was all stuck up on end from the static. He smoothed it down, making himself comfortable.

"Welcome to our little Shop," Shelley greeted. "It's usually a lot busier than this but tonight it's just us three. Well, four now that you've arrived."

Miles brought over the two mugs of hot chocolate and placed them on the coffee table before the two boys. He sat down on the sofa next to Dante, making the young blond scoot over to give him room. "These are two of my most regular customers so you'll have to excuse any in-jokes we make. We know each other rather well, you see."

Dante nodded. "How long have we been coming here now?" he asked Shelley.

She beetled her brow in thought. "Must be about 18 months at least."

"Is that all? Seems like forever."

Shelley grinned and turned to the newcomer. "Anyway, I'm Shelley." She indicated the two men on the sofa behind her. "That's Miles, he owns this Shop and this young scamp here is Dante."

"I'm not a scamp!" Dante protested loudly.

Miles wrapped an arm round his shoulders. "Course you are," he soothed. "But we love you anyway."

"Nice to meet you all," the young man smiled. "I'm Matthew."

"Oh well, hello Matthew," Shelley smiled. "What do you do for a living?"

"I work in IT," he replied, cupping his hands round his mug of chocolate for warmth.

"Ooh! IT!" Dante sat up eagerly. "I wish you could have been in my office this afternoon, my computer was driving me mad! I wanted to throw the damn thing out of the window."

"Why, what happened?"

He shrugged. "Don't ask me. It was all working perfectly fine this morning, right? Then I went out for lunch and when I came back, I tried to log on and for some reason it decided that I didn't exist anymore. I couldn't understand it. If I'm not going to exist, I'd rather someone consults me first. I couldn't get any work done at all till the blokes in IT had fixed it and it took them ages."

"And I'm sure you were bothered about that."

He glared at Miles. "I was actually. I'd been in the middle of typing up a very important document and I had to get it finished today. The longer it took the blokes to fix it, the later I would have had to stay to get it done. Thankfully, I'm a quick typist so it wasn't too bad."

"You shouldn't say things like that though, Dante," Shelley scolded. "We don't want to put our new customers off, we want them to come back again."

Matthew grinned. "It's all right. I always get the same sort of response whenever I say that I'm in IT. Everyone always comes up with some computer problem that they have and try to pick my brain to get it fixed. I get so in demand sometimes, I think I should start charging for my time, I'd probably make a fortune."

Dante scowled at Shelley. "Physical violence towards me is not going to make him want to stay either."

"Neither is having you two arguing!" Miles said finally. Dante pouted. "And don't say she started it, or no more hot chocolate for you!"

"But you make the best hot chocolate ever!" Dante said, gazing up at Miles with wide eyes. "Doesn't he, Matthew? I've never tasted anything like it."

Matthew sipped at his mug and nodded. "Oh yes, it's definitely the best I've had in a long while."

The blond beamed over at the newcomer. "You'll do well here," he said simply. "Always compliment the owner, it means you get all the best stuff."

Miles laughed and Shelley looked surprised. "Is that what it is?" she asked. "I thought shagging the owner was what got you all the best stuff." On hearing this, Matthew choked on his drink and she passed him a napkin. "I'm sorry!" she apologised. "I suppose it's a bit shocking if you're not aware of the history."

Matthew accepted the napkin gratefully. "I'm not overly sure I want to know the history! I think I might be better with a vague idea of what it involves."

"Well, it could get a bit graphic," Dante pointed out.

"In that case, best to save it until we know each other a little better."

"Mmm... don't mind if I do," Dante winked and Matthew laughed.

"Won't Miles get jealous?"

Dante waved a hand airily, nearly poking the man in question in the eye although he didn't realise this. "Nah, it's more a sort of fuckbuddy thing, you know? I'm free and single. Unlike some who have to charge apparently."

The young blond grinned at Matthew who returned it. "I wouldn't charge much," he said, "Especially not for you."

"That's good, I wouldn't want to have to break into a twenty."

Shelley gasped at Dante's audacity before giggling behind her hand. Matthew took the comment in his stride. "It's okay, you can keep the penny."

"Oooh! He got you back, Dante!" Miles cheered. The blond eyed Matthew through narrowed eyes. He enjoyed a battle of wits in this way and it was very rarely that he was bested at it. Ordinarily, he would have been rather miffed, but he was rather taken with Matthew and so he let it slide.

He stood up in a determined manner, making it seem as though he was going to do something in response to being beaten. "I," he declared with a dramatic pause, "am going to pee. Excuse me." He clambered over Miles' legs and disappeared off to the men's room.

Shelley shifted along the sofa over to Matthew. "Dante's not serious about being annoyed or anything," she said softly to him. "He's a really nice bloke, he's a real laugh, but he's such a huge flirt."

"That's okay, I didn't think he was angry or anything," Matthew reassured her. "And I didn't mind the flirting, it was fun."

"Oh well, that's okay then!" She sat back in relief. "I just didn't want you to get the wrong impression of him, that's all. He can be a bit too much to take at first if you don't really know him or where he's coming from. But he's a sweet guy and he never means any harm, he's just having fun."

Matthew nodded, he understood perfectly. "It's okay, I like him, he seems like a nice bloke."

"Well, I just thought I'd best warn you. Especially about the flirting thing. Dante will flirt with anyone, whether they're likely to be interested in him or not. He flirts with me all the time and as much as I love him to bits, I'm not his type, never will be unless he suddenly has a vast change of heart and decides that he does like girls after all." She peered at Matthew to see if he got the hint.

"I don't mind flirting myself, it's just a bit of harmless fun most of the time. If I was to be more serious, then he'd know."

"Who'd know what?" Dante came back into the conversation.

"That was quick," Shelley commented.

"I only went for a pee! And yes, I did wash my hands before you say anything!" he said indignantly. "So what did I miss while I was gone?"

"I was just telling Matthew what a great flirt you are and how you'll flirt with anyone, whether they're liable to be attracted to you or not."

"Yes, but if I think someone is possibly going to be interested in me, then I'm a bit more cautious. I don't do it to lead people on, I do it for fun. Unless I'm interested in them, in which case, it's different."

Matthew nodded. "Those are my thoughts exactly."

"Exactly?" Dante raised an eyebrow. "That's impressive. We've only just met and already I can read your mind."

"We must have a connection."

"I hope so," Dante said quietly, looking intently at the young man who gazed back at him with soft brown eyes. "I mean, I'd hate to waste all these good lines only to find out that you're not even into boys."

"I don't think you need to worry about that," he smiled. "I'm pansexual so I think you're safe."

The blond frowned. "You're what now?"

"Pansexual. It means I'm attracted to people of all genders."

Three pairs of eyes regarded him curiously for the second time since his arrival in the Shop.

"All genders? How many genders are there? I thought you were either a girl or a bloke." Shelley looked to Dante for confirmation. He just shrugged.

"Don't look at me, I don't know anything about it."

"There's only two sexes," Miles pointed out, "Male or female, that's it."

"No, sex and gender aren't the same thing and besides, there's all kinds of genders," Matthew explained. He was met by a wall of blank looks. "Okay, look, let me see if I can explain this better. Sex is between the legs, gender is between the ears. Sex is male, female, and intersex, and has to do with your genitalia, hormones, chromosomes, all the more physical things. Gender is more to do with your internal sense of self, how you feel and how you express yourself. There's man, woman, boy, girl, and then androgynous, transboy, genderqueer, it goes on and on. It's an infinite spectrum, there are more ways to express one's gender than anyone supposes."

Shelley frowned, looking puzzled; Miles appeared to take the whole thing in his stride as usual and Dante seemed to be vaguely uncomfortable but curious at the same time.

"What was that one you said, trans something?" he asked finally.

"Transboy?"

Dante nodded. "Yeah. What's that?"

"Well, that's like me. I'm a transboy, a female-to-male transsexual. It means I was born biologically female but I've transitioned to become male, or more accurately, to become me."

Dante pondered this, leaning forward intently and gazing at Matthew with a strange expression on his face. Before he could say anything further, Matthew suddenly checked his watch.

"Bugger, I meant to leave ten minutes ago. I'm really sorry to have to do this but I need to dash."

Dante sat back. "Oh, do you have to?"

Matthew smiled gently at him. "Yeah, I'm afraid so. But I'll be back, I like it here. It seems like a nice place."

Dante gave him a shy smile in return. "I'm glad. See you soon then?"

He nodded, standing up to pull on his coat. Picking up his hat and scarf, he waved to the other two. "Bye now, it was really nice to meet you." He looked down at the young blond on the sofa. "Bye Dante."

"Bye Matthew," he replied as Miles and Shelley chorused their goodbyes too. With a smile, he turned and rapidly strode out of the Shop.

Dante watched him go, looking wistful. Miles noticed and ruffled the younger man's hair much to his disgust.

"You liked him, didn't you?" he teased.

Dante nodded. "Yeah. He was cute and all, really nice and friendly. But all that stuff about trans-thingies and pan-whatevers didn't make a great deal of sense to me. I was going to ask him to explain it a bit more just when he had to leave."

"Yes, it did seem a bit confusing, all that stuff about sex and gender and how they're different. I always thought they were the same thing."

"Me too," agreed Shelley. "I suppose you learn something new every day!"

"Not me," Miles said adamantly. "I'm too old to learn new stuff, you get to a certain age and it just doesn't go in anymore."

"Miles! You're 39! You're talking like you're 89 or something! You are not old. Tell him, Dante."

"Miles, you're not old," Dante murmured obediently.

The older man scoffed. "Well, someone's changed their tune. You're always telling me that I'm old because I'm nearly forty which makes me past it and therefore practically dead."

Dante put on his most innocent expression. "Oh, Miles, you know I'm only joking when I say that. You were old and past it years ago!"

Miles thumped him and Dante giggled, pulling Miles' arm round his shoulder and snuggling up to get comfortable. Then Shelley made a comment which Miles responded to and Dante found himself tuning them out and thinking over the information given by the new young visitor that night. Without realising it, he found himself watching the door, hoping that the new young man would be returning soon.

"Dante?"

"Hmm?"

"Oh, you are awake! I've asked you the same question three times now and you've not answered. You were miles away!"

"I was just thinking, that's all."

"He was thinking about Matthew," Shelley nodded with a knowing look in her eye.

Dante shrugged. "Maybe I was, maybe I wasn't," he responded, refusing to give anything away.

Miles rescued his arm from where Dante was leaning on it and got up off the sofa with a groan, rubbing firmly at his back. "You're wasting your time, Dante, I don't think you're his type."

"What makes you say that?"

"Well, he's into all these different things and you're nothing like that. You're just Dante, gay boy. The only way you'd get his attention is if you're some trans-thingy whatsit and have some different kind of gender thing going on. What was it he said he was, a transboy?" Shelley nodded. "That's what you'd need to be, Dante, a transboy like him, and you're not."

Dante's gaze wandered over to the door as he listened half-heartedly to Miles' explanation and mused over it.

"Yeah," he said, noncommittally.

Chapter Eight.

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