Sunday, September 15, 2013

Vision Quest Part II by A.F. Henley

Welcome to this week's installment of VISION QUEST! And now a note from my guest blogger, A.F. Henley:


It started with Kelly Wyre's "Feather." "Blaze" followed, and, then... Vision Quest was born.

Which brings us to chapter two. In which Arik begins to learn the fine art of communication, Blaze sees right through Arik's attempts at distraction, and I learn the consequences of taking far too much glee in leaving open endings.

KELLY: Oh, so that’s how we’re going to play this, hmm?
HENLEY: *smugly* I’m not really sure what you’re suggest—
KELLY: Dude, I swear. I will leave you with a circus clown and a goat. I am not kidding.

(And you know something? I believe her.)



Now, what else was I supposed to tell you? ...Ah, yes... The boys. Arik and Blaze have met, they've decided to go with the suggestion of meeting for coffee, and now... well... now they’re going to try and figure out why they aren’t just shaking hands and walking away.

That being stated, I offer my apologies for NOT maxing out the Author’s Notes Character Count Limit *grins* and will spare you from having to read anymore of my pointless ramblings. Because to be honest, I'm not nearly as clever as Kelly.

So, to the story, shall we?

Kelly? *taps shoulder* You’re It. 

"Told you. Here for you."

The words played through Arik's mind like a song being whispered by unseen, unknown spirits through treetops. And he answered them, albeit it in silence: well, now, that's probably a whole lot of foolish.

A prick of sweat lifted the hairs on the back of Arik's neck. One... he told himself. Two. Three. But before he was granted the liberty to continue the journey of his mind's eye, Blaze countered with speech.

"You do far too much communicating with yourself than you do out loud. That seems... " Blaze paused, considering, "pointless."

Arik lifted the coffee to his lips in an effort to hide a grin. He tried to tell himself that the brew needed a touch more sugar, and knew it was a lie. It was perfect. As though Blaze had counted the granules, and weighed them with scientific accuracy against the preferences of Arik's tongue.


"Did you sleep well?" Arik asked, his eyes drifting to the clock that hung on the wall behind the counter.

Senses sharpened to the movement of the arms of the piece, the incessant click, click, click that monitored the passing seconds and turned them into moments. And his head took him to places long gone and instances passed, while his father drew on his cigarette and forced Arik's chin to wherever it needed to be in order to make Arik's eyes follow, "Are you watching? Arik? Are you really, really watching?"

"Segue?" Blaze's voice forced Arik's attention back. "Or attempt at distraction?"

He felt a frown crease his forehead and caught Blaze's gaze. "Casual conversation."

"For what purpose?"

Arik's expression softened with a smile, and he caught all other thoughts together, drawing them by the ends of their reins into his fist and tying them to the side. Out of the way. Kept, for future reference and consideration, but contained for the time being. He had a beautiful man in front of him. A man who, apparently, had a skill for tweaking caffeine into the perfect elixir, and an obvious interest in Arik's... something. That's where his focus needed to be. That was, at least, where he was damn well going to put it. Regardless of advancing clocks or possible theories on time and place.

"Let's just say that I want to get to know you." Arik lowered his eyes to the bag on the floor of the coffee shop. "Is that your luggage?"

He registered Blaze's nod, considered the brevity of the gesture, and felt his attention get drawn back to it. "So are you local then?"

As Arik had packed, his expectations had been for three days. One to arrive, one to scope, and one to make good on whatever the hell he'd been led there for. Even with that limited duration, his suitcase was twice the size of Blaze's bag, and had been shoved so full that Arik had to force the clasp.

"No," Blaze shook his head to match movement to word. "I travel light."

While his lips twitched into a grin, Arik reacquired Blaze's eyes with his own. "Damn. Here I thought maybe that bag of yours would be full of the kinds of things a person just felt too self-conscious to leave in his room. Guess it's probably just clothing, then?"

"Would you like it to be?" Blaze asked, the quip of his tone lightening the cryptic nature of his reply.

"Full of clothing?" Arik asked innocently, drawing out the game.

He felt the connection of Blaze's eyes with his skin. Once again long, slim fingers lifted, tripped up the length of Arik's forearm, and God-be-damned and Christ-almighty, but Arik would have sworn he felt a charge leap from digit to limb. Clarity sharpened, like something was tuning the focus in Arik's brain. "What are you doing here, Blaze?"

Blaze paused. Pressure suggested the contemplation of disconnection, but something must have made Blaze reconsider because, instead, Blaze laid his palm flat on Arik's arm and wrapped his fingers around the muscle. His voice was slow and careful when he spoke. "Should I know that answer any more than you do?"

Something creepy and unwelcome slithered down Arik's spine. "I know why I'm here, Blaze. I'm here to soothe a petulant customer and convince him that it's way too late in life to start thinking about modifying his retirement visions."

Blaze tilted his head. "Are you now?" He didn't give Arik a chance to reiterate. "That sounds like something that could be easily done by telephone or web conference."

Arik shook his head. "No. Not this time. This was—"

"Different," Blaze finished for him.

Tension shouldn't have been tightening the otherwise broad expanse between Arik's shoulders. There was no reason whatsoever that his stomach should twist. More than anything, however, there was no justification for the warning that hinted Arik should be very, very careful. Of course, that particular nuance could have had more to do with history than any instinct serving self-preservation.

Arik tried again. "Not so much different. More like, well ... I needed—"

"To be here." Blaze nodded, blue eyes trained on Arik's. His expression was intense, direct, and though it spoke of decades, centuries—millennia even—of hard-learned secrets, it was honest. "You needed to be here."

There wasn't anything Arik could think of to say. Instead, he parroted it back. "Yes. I needed to be here."

"Do you know why?"

Arik shook his head. He answered with what he thought was the obvious expectation. "To meet you?"

Blaze leaned back, took a sip of his coffee and shrugged. "Do you think so?"

"If I could answer that, I wouldn't have phrased my reply in the form of a question." Arik's smile took the edge off his comment. At least, he hoped it did. Because 'fascinating' was quickly turning into 'frustrating.'

"To be honest, I think you might know more than you're saying, Blaze. You caught my eye in the lobby. You spoke to me in the elevator. And you had to have been watching for me in the hallway. Unless you have some kind of mystical way of just knowing..." Arik let his words drift when the corner of Blaze's lips twitched into amused. "Actually, do me a favour and don't answer that."

"I won't," Blaze grinned. "Besides, I have this overwhelming urge to start quoting sayings about kettles and pots and the spoken blackness thereof."

Arik lifted an eyebrow and pursed his lips. "So tell me something, Blaze." He paused until Blaze was driven to raise one hand, palm up, fingers wide and ask him to continue with sight alone. "Would you care to go for a drive?"


Until next time!
Tune in next week for more.

Much love!
♥Kelly Wyre
Website ♠ Facebook ♠ Goodreads ♠ Twitter
& ♥A.F. Henley


  1. Thanks again for hosting the story, Kelly!


    1. This is entirely too much fun.

      ...and yes, yes... I realize I've been tagged.


      Circus clowns might be pushing it.

      But a GOAT?


      You just watch.

  2. *taps both your shoulders*

    Excuse me please? But as a reader is seems that you two have entirely too much fun at our expense here? I mean building up those awesome stories and then leaving us hanging...

    ...for an entire week???

    Both of you look soooo guilty. XD

    1. This isn't guilt.

      This is unrepentant glee.


      Thank you for reading and the amusing commentary, lovely. Always and very much appreciated.

    2. You know something? We really are having fun! *grins* Besides, being politely furious is a good look for you. XD

      So glad you're enjoying it. Thank you so much for the support. <3

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