Claude Potier groaned and stretched. Coughing, he opened his brown eyes and blinked a few times, trying to adjust his sight to the darkness around him. He frowned as he saw the rocks and boulders in place of the entrance of the cave.
'Great. Jus' great.' He thought, looking around for his friend Genard Alouette. The two men had gone for a walk in the swamps in the outskirts of New Orleans and had taken refuge in the cave when a storm had caught them unaware. Next thing either of them knew, the cave entrance had collapsed and they were trapped.
Claude spotted Genard about five feet from him, lying face down on the dirt floor of the cave, his glasses on the floor near him. Claude chuckled and, knowing his friend couldn't see more than two feet in front of himself when he didn't have his glasses on, picked up the glasses and cleaned them off with the red T-shirt he was wearing. Then, he knelt down by Genard and rolled him over, shaking him gently.
"Genard. Hey, G, wake up."
"Hmph?" Genard mumbled, reaching up and rubbing his eyes groggily. He squinted at Claude but his poor eyesight and the lack of light in the cave hindered him from seeing much.
Claude smiled at him and handed him his glasses. "Here."
"T'anks." Genard said, taking the glasses and putting them on, shoving them up on his nose. He surveyed the cave and then looked back at Claude with a wry smile. "At least I can see de darkness now. What happened?"
Claude sighed and got up, brushing the dirt off his faded blue jeans. He went over to where the entrance of the cave was. "De cave caved in." he replied sadly. "De storm musta caused it."
Genard stayed where he was and hugged his knees, pulling his open blue and green flannel shirt around himself. He was wearing shorts and it was colder in the cave than it had been outside in the bright Louisiana sunshine. "So what do we do now?"
"Well, dere isn' much air in here. We could either waste it an' try to dig ourselves out, or we could use as little of it as possible an' sit here waitin' for someone else to dig us out. What do you t'ink?" Claude asked, walking back to where Genard was sitting and sat down a couple of feet from him.
Genard thought for a moment before replying. "I don' t'ink we should waste what little air we have now. So I say we sit here an' not waste it. De others'll come lookin' for us eventually."
The two friends sat in silence in the dark cave for a few minutes. Then the silence was broken by Claude, who made an observation.
"You know, if you t'ink 'bout it, it rather sucks to be us."
Genard frowned. "What do you mean? B'cause we're stuck in dis cave?"
"Non, I don' mean jus' you an' me, I mean all of us. If you take de six of us, you, me, Theoren, Emil, Mercy an' Zoe, an' you t'ink 'bout de t'ings we have, it's really not much. We've lost almost ev'ryone an' everyt'ing in our lives. So it sucks to be us." Claude explained.
"We haven' lost ev'ryone…" Genard pointed out thoughtfully with chattering teeth. He was really cold. "We still have each other. We have a fam'ly, even if it isn' a traditional one. So it doesn' suck entirely to be us. Jus' some of de time."
"Yeah…but did you ever stop to t'ink dat maybe Henri an' Mercy were real lucky?" Claude asked, moving over and putting an arm around Genard's shoulders. He was cold too, but he was putting up with it better.
"Dat dey were, for awhile anyway. But I don' know…I mean if Mercy had been anybody else, if she hadn' known 'bout Guild life, she would have been a lot more devastated when Henri died. I don' know if I'd want to put someone t'rough dat."
"Hmmm…I t'ink you're right. I wouldn' want to either. Dat would be horrible." Claude agreed. "Can I ask you somet'ing?"
Genard grinned. "Not'ing ever stopped you b'fore. Sure."
"You ever kissed anyone?" Claude asked.
Claude grinned back at his friend. "Uh-uh. Ever wonder what it's like?"
"I'm thirty-two years old, Claude. Don' ask stupid questions." Genard replied, picking up a handful of dirt and rocks from the floor and tossing it at the boulders locking them in the cave. He could tell they were losing more air, and he sighed. He was starting to get tired from the lack of air. His teeth were still chattering, and he was suddenly wishing he had worn a pair of jeans instead of those shorts.
As they sat there, there was a loud rumbling in the cave. Genard and Claude looked at each other in horror, eyes wide, as more rocks and dirt started falling down around them, covering them with dust and dirt. Coughing from the dust, they jumped up and scrambled further into the cave, away from the falling debris. They sat back down and leaned against the back wall of the cave and watched as the rocks and dust settled. The rumbling finally stopped and they relaxed, their breathing returning to normal.
Claude looked at Genard, a somewhat thoughtful expression on his face. Genard was, like the other thieves in the unified guilds, one of his best friends. He loved Genard like a brother, but he couldn't help wondering what it would be like to kiss him. These thoughts made no sense to Claude, but he went with them anyway, still reeling a bit from the recent mini-cave-in. Oddly enough he found comfort in the thoughts.
Nearby, Genard was thinking the exact same thing, and feeling somewhat unnerved by his thoughts. He couldn't understand why, in spite of the scare they had just gotten, he was still thinking this way. Also unnerving was the look he saw on Claude's dirt-smeared face, and he finally had to say something.
Claude looked away quickly, suddenly unsure of himself. Genard could make out a faint blush on Claude's face in spite of the dust. "I…I was jus' t'inking…"
"Oui…me too." Genard admitted, his own face feeling hot in spite of the coolness in the cave, and in spite of the dirt he knew was on his face. "You know, we could've gotten crushed by dose rocks a few minutes ago. Guess dis cave isn' as safe as we t'ought it was when we came in here in de first place."
They glanced at each other. "Should we…you know…?" Claude asked. "I mean, well, if we lived our whole lives without ever kissin' anybody…well…it'd be kinda sad, wouldn' it? Or if we died…like if we died a few minutes ago…what do you t'ink?"
"I s'pose…" Genard replied, his brown eyes thoughtful behind his now dusty glasses. "But…it wouldn' make us crazy or anyt'ing would it?"
"No…why would it? B'sides…it might be…nice."
The two men sat in silence for a few moments, both of them trying to figure out just how to do what it was they were talking about doing. Finally, they decided to stop thinking about it and just do it.
Fumbling a bit in the darkness, they pushed aside any uncertainty they felt and they leaned towards each other, pulses racing as they felt each other's hot breath on their faces.
Their lips met in a gentle kiss that thrilled every sense in their bodies. Neither one of them could get over the softness of the other's lips, or the way the embrace made them feel. It was like nothing they had ever experienced before. When the kiss ended, they looked at each other, eyes wide.
"Whoa…" they said in unison. They started laughing and their laughter put them at ease. Then they looked at each other, smiles playing across their faces.
"You were right, mon ami." Genard commented softly. "Dat was nice."
"Oui, it was. What do we do now?"
Much to their joint surprise, they felt a strange desire as they sat there looking at each other. The next thing they knew, they were sharing a deep, searching kiss that made them even more short of breath than they already were. They both shivered, thrilling to the dusty sweetness of their lips. What seemed like years later, they broke the kiss, hearts pounding.
"Um…" Genard said. "We're not…crazy…are we?"
"I don' t'ink so…" Claude replied with a raise of an eyebrow. "But we might not wan' tell de others 'bout dis…"
"You don' s'pose Tante Mattie will…?"
"Find out? Hell, she's an empath. She can sense anyt'ing any of us t'ink or feel." Claude sighed. "But I don' t'ink she'll tell even if she does know. It's our secret, after all."
"Yeah…" Genard yawned, shoving his glasses up on his nose. "I'm tired…I t'ink maybe we jus' wasted the little air we had left."
Claude chuckled. "It was worth it, t'ough, don' you t'ink?"
The two men lay down side by side and curled up together. Claude reached up and gently took Genard's glasses off his face and rested them on a rock nearby. Genard glanced quickly at Claude as he felt the roughness of Claude's fingers on his face. It felt surprisingly wonderful. He sighed softly and leaned his head on Claude's broad shoulder, closing his eyes. Claude looked at him for a second and then followed his example and closed his own eyes.
They drew strength and security from each other as they waited in the dark, almost airless cave for their friends to rescue them. They fell asleep in minutes, and it was in that position that Theoren, Mercy, Emil and Zoe found them two hours later when they finished digging the boulders and rocks away from the cave entrance.
The four thieves looked down at their sleeping friends with matching smiles on all their faces. They were relieved to see that Claude and Genard were okay, but were curious as to why they were wrapped in each other's arms like that.
Theoren looked at the other three. "I t'ink it might be best if we don' ask questions."
"Agreed." Mercy, Emil and Zoe replied in unison, as they went to wake their friends up and get them home.
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