His robe flapped carelessly around him as Nathaniel padded barefoot down the corridor lined with the private dance rooms. It was tastefully done, like a well-appointed hotel hallway, although the light was somewhat dimmer. The hall was a dead end, and the reason there was no back parking lot. Unlike a hotel, the unoccupied rooms had their doors wide open, showing tastefully furnished rooms in a elegant decor, primarily black and white with flashes of richer, oriental-style fabrics. Long poles set into low platforms centered in the middle of the rooms, and there was seating lining the windowless walls; no beds. Nathaniel went through the first open door, shutting it behind him but not locking it.
The front of the envelope was scrawled with 'To: Nath From Zaney'. Nathaniel's eyes traced over the words, then he opened the envelope and pulled out a small tablet-sized slip of notebook paper. He unfolded it and read:
The 1st step I need to make is to tell those I love that I have a problem. I abuse: drugs, myself. And I drink too much. I think you know all of this. but this was about Telling you.
So I told. Now what do I do?? Lil hasn't told me yet. Do you know? I hope someone knows--
Nathaniel's eyes blurred the letter and he let out a quiet sob in relief. He stumbled back to sit down on the couch and let the tears fall. He'd have to re-do his eyes, but he didn't care. Zane was getting help, finally. After all of his trying to get Zane to clean up, to even admit he had problems, Zane had finally done it: he had asked for help.
There was nothing in the letter about Raphael, no hint of what Jason had told him. Nathaniel felt nothing but relief. At the very least, he understood that Zane wasn't cutting him out of his life in an effort to sever his past. It happened, he knew: in treatment Nathaniel had seen enough of his fellow addicts walk away from everyone in their pasts, to distance themselves from the disease and pain and suffering that their former associates had fed. Nathaniel knew that there had been times recently that he seemed to be moving away from Zane and all they had survived together. But the letter reassured him that Zane was moving forward for once, and he wanted him along on the road.
He drew in several long, calming breaths and folded up the letter, putting it back into the envelope. With his relief came clearer thoughts. There was still the mystery of Zane moving in with Raphael, but he could wait on that. He considered his last time with Zane, when they had sex under the Circus of the Damned. Zane had begged him to play the top, had wanted punishment and comfort all rolled into one in the way they had long gotten it for years before, under Raina and Gabriel. Nathaniel had rarely been used as enforcement, ever: he was a natural sub, and topping just wasn't his way. But he had tried. It had been a long time since they had been together like that, he realized. Years, in fact, during which time he had joined Anita's life. Her home. Her bed. He had gotten so enmeshed in her life that he nearly forgotten life before then. With a start, Nathaniel understood that Zane had probably felt abandoned by his closest friend long before Nathaniel felt the same thing about Zane. Nathaniel dabbed the tails of the robe's sash under his eyes, trying not to totally ruin his make-up. He knew he and Zane had to talk, and soon.
Hearing Jason's impromptu set start to draw to a close, Byron quickly slipped down the hall, using scent to track down Nathaniel in an empty room. He knocked, then open the door just a crack. "Oi, kitty... Jason's almost done his set... you've got to go on or else that crowd'll demand blood... no pun intended."
Nathaniel stood up suddenly at Byron's abrupt entrance. "Damn!" he swore, coming back to the moment. "Jean-Claude's going to be pissed!" He checked his hair with quick pats on his head. "How's my eyes? Are they a mess?" he asked as he hurried out of the room after the younger-looking vampire.
Byron shook his head. "A little messy, but that's a look in and of itself, emo-boy." he winked. "You all right, ducky?" he asked, casually looping an arm over Nathaniel's shoulders.
Nathaniel gave him a wide lilac glance as they hurried along. "I'll have to be, won't I?" he said quietly. "I'm fine, Byron, honest," he continued. "I just needed a moment." He moved through the quiet room, shrugging out of the robe and tossing the letter back in his locker. He looked over into one of the mirrors and tidied his eyes quickly. He stretched up and shook himself. Jason must have taken the other exit from the stage; Nathaniel heard his prompt and he fell into his stage mode, all movement and illusion.