A Dance with Death

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Chapter 12

Shin and I sat on the bed as we opened up the same book Clay was carrying earlier that day. We had turns reading, to the delight of Clay. Once Clays eyes started to droop, we finished the story we were reading. We said our good nights and at the request of Clay, we kissed his cheek.

On return to Shin's apartment I sat on the lounge. While Shin returned to the kitchen to serve dinner. I joined him and we sat at a shiny white dining table with white chairs and brightly coloured cushions. We chatted as we are, time flew us by.
I felt my eyes grow heavy and glanced at my watch it was 12am. I let out a surprised gasp.
"Time has certainly gone by, Its getting late I should go home."
Shin motioned for me to sit back down on the lounge chair.
"Spend the night here. It's much too late to go home. I have a spare bed, all made up with fresh clean sheets. Stay tonight and you can join Clay and I for our weekly Sunday breakfast of pancakes. Please stay." Shin asked
"I've got to go home to Ellie, plus the pet sitter is only being paid until 12:30. I'm sure she'll want to go home." I answered.
"Ring her, tell her you've had too much to drink and if she doesn't mind staying until the morning. Please stay, Clay already adores you, and it'll mean the world to him seeing you in the morning."
Shin made some valid points so I rang the pet sitter. She loved Ellie, so she had no issue staying the night.
So I ended up spending the night at Shins. We drank more wine, opened up to each other, soon the wine got to me and we became tired. It was 3am as I crawled under the blankets and passed out from the drink, emotional exhaustion, and physical exhaustion. I hoped Clay was not an early riser and would let us sleep in.
I was awoken by the door to my room as it opened with a squeal. Then there was a flurry of movements and my bed groaned under extra weight. I turned around and was met with Clay's piercing blue eyes and his face centimetres from my own,
"Well, Good morning Clay." I whispered my voice hoarse from sleep. Clay smiled and exclaimed in an excited voice that filled my room, making my head feel as if it was about to explode.
"Oh! You're awake, Roku. Come and eat pancakes with Shin and me. There's a whole plate for you. Shin let me decorate it with berries for you." Clay was excited.

I groaned as I rolled out of bed. My head felt heavy, my mouth dry, and my movements slow. Clay saw how slow I was moving so he grabbed my hand and excitedly led me out of my room and into the kitchen. He didn't even let me put clothes on, luckily I slept in my trunks that night.

Clay sat me down at the dining table much to Shin's amusement. Clay grabbed his plate and my own, and rushed back to the dining table with a goofy, excited smile on his face. He proudly placed my plate down in front of me and took his seat next to me. Shin soon joined us carrying his own plate, two coffee cups, a glass of juice, and a steaming pot of black coffee on a silver tray.

I looked down and smiled, Clay had placed the berries in the shape of a smily face on the top pancake and a love heart next to it. My heart warmed.

"Do you like how I decorated your pancake, Roku?" Clay asked.

I smiled and answered,

"Yes, I love it Clay. You've done such a good job."

Clay giggled and started to eat his own. I glanced over to Shin who was smiling at me. He then started to eat. I did the same.
After breakfast I showered and dressed..It was time for me to return home. Shin and Clay walked me to the front of the apartment building and waited with me until my Taxi arrived.

"Roku?" Clay said, "Can you have pancakes with Shin and me every Sunday?"

I wasn't expecting Clay to ask me such a question. Even though it was hard to see my serious, brooding, loyal Mors, acting so child-like, carefree, happy and innocent.

The complete opposite of who he truly was, I yearned to see him. I loved him, and if I had to have pancakes with my beloved every Sunday, I would do it. I just hoped his brain would catch up with his age soon.

"If it's okay with Shin, I would love to." I answered. Clay got excited again he turned his attention to Shin.

"Can Roku have pancakes with us every Sunday morning?" He asked, his tone was borderline begging.

Shin nodded his head, smiled and answered

"Yes, he is allowed." He answered. Clay nearly jumped for joy and gave shin an excited and grateful hug.

My taxi arrived and with another wave goodbye to Shin and Clay. I got into the vehicle and headed home.

As promised, even now, three months later, I made it my routine on every Sunday to always have pancakes with Clay and Shin. It was nice and every week I got to see Clay and witnessed how his brain was maturing with every passing week. Clay was still child-like but was growing up.

Throughout this time, Shin and I bonded. We were like two gay Dads and Clay was our child but in an adult body. We got to know each other and Shin was actually a very caring man, a lot like Mors was. I wondered if being caring was a requirement for being chosen as a Reaper. Shin worked strange hours, just like Mors, but was always home and available every Sunday.

One Sunday afternoon, Clay decided to go back to his apartment for a nap. Leaving Shin and I alone, I was getting ready to go home when Shin stopped me.

"Roku, come and sit with me out on the verandah. You don't have to go home yet you know. Clay's not the only one who enjoys your company. I do too. Join me for a bit?" Shin asked.

I agreed and followed Shin. Shin collapses on the chair, fiddled around in his pant pocket and pulls out a cigarette, lights it, and draws in a long breath.

"Are all Reapers addicted to Cigarettes?" I asked, "Mors was a smoker too."

Shin chuckled,

"Well, we aren't going to die from it, we are immortal after all. But it seems to have a calming affect on us, just like humans who are addicted to them too. So, yes a lot of Reapers smoke cigarettes." Shin took another deep drag of the cigarette, then offered it to me.

"No, I'm okay." I replied.

"Clay seems to be developing a small crush on you, Roku. So maybe he was right when he said that he'd fall in love with you again. It's kind of poetic, isn't it?" He chuckled again. "Do you still love him Roku? Or has someone else taken your fancy?"

The nature of Shins questioning caught me off guard. So I was left speechless for a few seconds. He was looking directly at me, his stare was intense, he was expecting an honest answer.

" Well, Shin, It's hard to explain. I love Clay, but Clay is not anything like Mors. He is the complete opposite of who Mors was.

The only thing they have in common is they look the same. I loved Mors back then. I feel dirty whenever the romantic feelings for Clay come to the surface. His mind is still one of a child, but his body is that of a grown man. While my body and mind are that of a grown man, it just doesn't feel right." I confessed

Shin remained silent for a bit, but then whispered,

"But you know his mind will catch up to his body eventually. It's hard to predict though. I think you should keep doing what you're doing. Clay adores you, and gets so excited when Sunday comes around.

Maybe, until Clay's mind matches his body, you should find someone else to connect with on a romantic level." Shin paused before continuing,

"So, I'm guessing there's nobody else that you may even have the Slightest feelings for?" Shin asked.

"I haven't really thought about it. But I think you do have a point, humans crave connections, especially romantic ones, maybe I should start looking." I paused, Shin replied.

"Reapers were once human too, Roku. Reapers crave a romantic connection with others as well.

Reapers live a lonely life and most of the time an unhappy one. Being around suffering and seeing the effects on other's caused by evil humans and not being able to help really affects us. I think Mors handled it better than I, but then again he hid his emotions well." Shin replied, I could sense his sadness and it was suffocating. I wanted to comfort him, so I moved myself closer to him and held his hand.

"Maybe you need to take your own advice, Shin and find someone that you can romantically connect with? Maybe, you need someone to share your feelings with. Do you have someone that you're interested in? Maybe I can help you meet her or help you meet another woman?" I offered.

Shin let out a soft chuckle,

" What makes you think that I only crave romantic connections with Women? I do have someone in mind and in heart, but it seems he's a bit thick, clueless or both."

"Well, have you told him?" I asked.

Shin let out another soft chuckle, removed his hand from mine stood up, and walked towards the sliding door leading back into his apartment.

"I've been trying to tell him for the past five minutes." He whispered before opening the door and going inside.

I sat on the chair, confused. He wasn't talking on the phone or texting anyone. Then it hit me like a fully loaded freight train...He was talking about me.
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