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By-product of "Slayer." German version here: http://aldiara.insanejournal.com/113416.html

He's not actually my type. For a number of reasons. And anyway, I wasn't looking. I'd had enough of dating for a while, after the disaster last summer. Once bitten and all. Except it was twice in my case, and both times by the same guy – try and beat that for stupid.

So, I just wanted to be on my own for a while. To be left alone, even by René, and it's really not like that was anything serious, not for a long time. I was kind of taking a time out from all things love. Love and anything like it. I just wanted to work and focus on my show. To put something together I could take pride in.

And then this. I guess it's true what they say about it always happening when you least expect it.

Of course I noticed him. Right away when Roman introduced him to me. That doesn't mean anything, though. He's pretty enough – anyone would notice him. It's not like I'm blind.

Tom Reichenbach. His name's the first problem. I know the clan. Rolling in money, lots of influence. Their daughter's a rising star on the skating firmament. Power, politics, the works. I really don't want to get dragged into all that. Especially not given the prospect of lots of drama and trouble from some influential big shot for seducing his precious heir. (It was the other way round, by the way, but I have a feeling that argument wouldn't hold a lot of sway.) A bit of tabloid press and public airing of dirty laundry, and I could lose my show. Tom says his parents don't really care about what he's up to. But that can change fast. I know that from experience.

Also, he's too young. I mean, not too young. Not underage or anything. He's twenty-three, so there's an eleven year gap. There are worse things, sure. But I don't usually pick up kids his age for anything more than one night stands. Too risky. They either don't know what they want, or what they do want is just fun. At this point, I'm not really the type for either.

Plus, he's a computer nerd. I have no clue about all that stuff. I mean, I use email, of course, and Slayer's got a website. But his gaming scene is pretty much a foreign country to me. Admittedly, Tom's enthusiasm is contagious. And he's more than happy to show me every step of his game's development. It looks pretty cool, at least once I can get him to explain it all to me in German instead of Geekese. At the moment, he's integrating a few elements he's copied from Slayer, with my permission. I've got to say it does look good. And at least it's not the only thing he's interested in. He loves theatre, exotic cuisines, travel; he tells lots of stories about the time he spent in China, and asks me about France. Sometimes I feel like a cultured man of the world when he expresses envy at my experiences. At other times, when I watch him hunched over his laptop with his headphones on, lost in some obscure programming world, I feel like some sad old lecher.

Of course he's cute. Adorable, even, with his messy dark blond curls and those amazing, bright blue husky eyes. Bit of a hippie touch – another thing that I'm not really into, normally. All that's missing is him wearing Birkenstocks and smelling of sandalwood. He doesn't, by the way. He smokes, or is in the process of giving it up ("Gradually. For the last three years," he admitted, laughing), so he smells of smoke, a bit, and of himself. It's hard to define. But I like it. Even the smoky touch. It suits him.

"Well, isn't he sweet," René grinned, the first time he met him. "Can we clone him?" He'd like that, the bastard. And then he spent all evening flirting with Tom, completely shameless as usual. Tom handled it well, I've got to say. He was charming but polite, and while he countered René's innuendo playfully enough, he didn't take him up on his blatant offer. I was relieved. Maybe too much. It gave me a jolt of alarm because it was the first time I'd seen someone else show obvious interest in him, and... well. It was more than odd to discover how possessive I was suddenly feeling.

He is sweet, sure. That's not usually my thing, though. At least I thought so. Sweet alone doesn't mean much, and I usually avoid the type, at least when feelings are involved. Those guys generally know all too well what kind of effect they have on others, and they know how to use it. Can't blame them for that, sure. But they kind of remind me of that Fluff stuff Roman loves so much. Tastes nice enough, for a spoonful or two. But after three spoonfuls it glues your teeth together, and after ten you get diarrhoea.

On the other hand, of course, that can be deceptive. It's easy to underestimate people. Even Deniz I thought was sweet at first. Sweet, pretty, and air-headed, and not to be taken seriously, either as a man or as competition. That came back to slap me in the face pretty hard, in the end, so maybe I should stay away from premature assessments like that.

Still. I'm naturally suspicious of the sweet ones – maybe also because of Deniz. You don't really know what you're dealing with. I'm more into men whose rough edges you can see, right from the start. But I guess it's the balance that does it. Take Roman, for example. He's got edges so rough they cut you to shreds, but he can be incredibly sweet anyway. Bitchy but sweet.

Oops. Apparently I'm not allowed to use the word "bitchy" anymore. A few weeks ago Isabelle called me to complain loudly because the Slayer press website listed her under her maiden name instead of Isabelle Steinkamp. Tom happened to be there when she called, and when I finally managed to get off the phone – after much soothing and promising I'd take care of it immediately – I had a good rant about spoiled ice princesses in general and Isabelle in particular. I didn't realise I was talking myself into an early grave until he interrupted me, rather curtly. "She's probably just having a bad day. Isabelle is complicated."

I made the mistake of laughing. "Complicated is polite for bitchy."

His blue eyes flashed at me. "Do you always judge people this quickly?" he asked sharply. "She saved your damn arse, and your show's, too!"

It was the first time I'd ever seen him angry. Honestly? It was bloody sexy. I couldn't tell him that, of course, or he'd probably have taken my head off. "Tom, I didn't mean it like that…"

"Then don't put it like that if you don't mean it," he retorted, still rather snappish. "Isabelle can be difficult, yeah, but she's my sister and there are reasons why she is the way she is. And you don't know her. So back off."

I said something appeasing, and when he was apparently still mad, I cautiously asked why.

He just shook his head. "I don't like prejudice," was all he said. Then he went back to Essen, and I kind of thought that was it. It wasn't, though. He called me the next day, and on the weekend he was back to help me with the show as always. I didn't know what to make of it all. I still don't, but I don't rant about his sister anymore.

And then… I was his first guy. Another alarm bell. I don't fancy playing the test object for bi-curious college students. I'm too old for that. Although I'm not sure that's what it is for him, but it's hard to tell. He had no problem telling me he'd never been with a man, at any rate. Brought it up himself, very frankly. He was even laughing. "Just in case you end up wondering why I'm totally rubbish at it," he explained, flushing a bit.

He wasn't, though. If he hadn't said anything, I probably wouldn't even have noticed. Technically, he knew his stuff – well enough that I asked him about it later. He rolled his eyes, partly flattered, partly amused. "Research, Marc. What do you think the Internet is for?"
Cheeky bugger.

He was a bit clumsy, sure. He is with everything. Not in an annoying way, though. And he wasn't playing it coy, either – on the contrary, for someone who comes across as such a dreamer at first sight, he's very pragmatic. And he knows what he wants. I noticed that right away, back in those days before the premiere, when he persistently followed me around for three days. I didn't want a thing to do with him, really. For one thing, I was up to my ears in Slayer's organizational nightmare – everything that could possibly go wrong was going wrong, and the last thing on my mind was any romantic entanglement. Secondly, Roman was there, which was strange. I mean, it was okay – things weren't nearly as awkward as I'd feared, and I was over him, or as much as I ever will be. Still. I really had no attention to spare for some blue-eyed kid stalking me all over the place. At least I didn't until he kissed me backstage, after some brief banter about… I don't even know what. I probably couldn't remember immediately after. Not with his lips, sudden and soft against my mouth. Soft but determined, his tongue playful and demanding at once. No, Tom isn't one of those guys who don't know what they want.

I was dumbfounded at first. Then I kissed him back because – well, because I'm not entirely stupid. Still… "Do you always launch a full snog attack out of the blue?" I asked him later. I only meant to tease him a bit, but he briefly considered it, very earnestly, then shrugged and nodded. "More or less, yes." He grinned at me, that open grin that I like quite a lot, actually. He's not one to hold back, is Tom. "I mean, if you like someone, why sneak around each other for ages? At least this way you find out right away if you stand a chance."

I had to laugh; his openness was kind of charming. "And that works?"

I'd been expecting more banter, but his eyes suddenly darkened and his mouth twisted. "Sometimes," he said quietly and a bit wistfully. It was the first time I saw him sad. I didn't ask for details, not immediately. Later, he told me about Katja. Not a lot, just enough to make me realise it can't be easy to constantly wear your heart on your sleeve. Apparently I'm not the only one with unresolved issues. Which should be another reason why this thing with Tom isn't a good idea – I don't feel like being someone's rebound right now, possibly with a side of gay for extra shock value, just to get back at some long-plaited little freckled skater with a serious fixation on the wrong guy. But I don't really know if that's what this is for Tom, and to be honest he could worry about the same thing. He knows about me and Roman, at least roughly. I owe him that, I thought. In a strange way, though, it's almost reassuring to know he comes with his own baggage. It gives him a sharper edge, lends spice to his sweetness.

Yes, that suits him. Spicy-sweet. Like chocolate with chilli.

Our first night was something of an eye-opener. It was after the premiere; Roman and Deniz were sorting out their relationship drama in Roman's hotel room, and Tom had nowhere to stay. Okay, of course I took him with me. Like I said, I'm not a moron, or a saint. I was on a bit of a natural high, from the amazing evening and the show's success. On top of that, Roman had just turned me down one last time, which felt strangely liberating, and I thought, okay, if the kid really wants a trial run on the other team that badly… I'm happy to let him use me for that, as long as I get something out of it, too.

It wasn't like that, though. I mean, I did get something out of it but it wasn't what I'd expected. There was no nervous experimenting, not even any awkward groping. He was open, generous in a completely unselfconscious way, and very forward. Definitely no reservations there. Vocal and direct and unmistakably hot for me. He laughed a lot – without making fun, it's just something he does… he likes to laugh, including at himself. It's kind of an endearing trait. I can still see him before me, skin to skin, his face close to mine, hair wildly tousled and his hands clutching my shoulders so hard I found bruises the next morning. His incredibly blue eyes intent and slightly hazy at once, and every muscle in his body tensed, but he laughed anyway, breathlessly. "Marc, please, do something," he demanded, rough-voiced, fingers sinking even deeper into my skin, "before I embarrass myself."

His expression got under my skin, as did the hoarseness in his voice and the sight of him in general. They still do. Okay, pull yourself together, Hagendorf. I'm not thinking of that right now, or I'll be the one embarrassing myself. My body's gotten addicted to his alarmingly fast.

Anyway, it was lovely. Didn't expect that. Amusing, yes, maybe pretty hot, too, since, well, he's pretty damn hot, even if he's not my type. But it was… yes, fine, there's no better word. It was lovely. The second time, too. And the ones after that.

That was two months ago. After the premiere I thought that was it, but when Isabelle went back to Essen with Deniz and Roman, he stayed on for a couple of extra days. And after he left, he called me to ask if he could come back next weekend. Next weekend, same thing. And the one after. Who does that if they're just experimenting? Driving four hours each way every weekend, carrying around props and getting his hands dirty backstage, just for the prospect of dinner with me and a night full of heat and laughter in a cheap hotel bed? That's not a one night stand anymore; not even a weekend fling with aftershocks. And I've got plenty of reasons why I should put an end to it pronto. The thing is… by now, I don't even know if I still want to. By now I'm wondering if it might be time to grab myself by the balls and ask him straight out what the deal is. And then… who knows.

Tom Reichenbach. Chocolate-and-chilli hippie with husky eyes. Totally not my type. Really not.

It's Wednesday today. He's coming back in two days.

I'm looking forward to it.

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