Evenfall Vol. II Release and Giveaways

By |September 21st, 2014|

Evenfall Volume II: Director’s Cut is now available!

You can download a mobi or epub file from www.inthecompanyofshadows.com. PDF files will becoming in the next week or so!

Don’t forget to check out the Q&A that Ais and I did on the Santino & Ais Goodreads group. All of the questions were generated by group members, and cover everything from story ideas, to hypothetical scenarios, to post-Fade and future plans!

There are also going to be a couple of giveaways this week:

Boy Meets Boy Reviews are already holding a giveaway (it started last week), Love Bytes Reviews are still allowing voting for the ICoS fanart contest (a randomly selected voter AND the winning artist will win swag), and there will be a character interview (Hsin and Boyd answer some interesting non-spoilery questions) and giveaway at Boys in Our Books tomorrow. :]

I hope  you guys participate and enjoy!

When Supporting Characters Do More Than Just Support

By |September 15th, 2014|

One thing I notice when reading a novel or watching a movie is that the supporting characters often fall flat. Sure, they interact with the main characters and say all the right things to encourage the MCs or even move the plot along, but they don’t feel real. They’re barely fleshed out archetypes, or worse, talking heads who exist primarily to act as a foil or a plot device, and I hate that shit.

Designing and writing a full cast of characters is a lot of work. It’s more than just knowing clothing styles, body types, accents, and personality quirks. That’s just scratching the surface of the work needing to be done. It’s about knowing their stories—even the ones that don’t make it onto the page—understanding their personalities, and what motivates them to support (or fight against) your MCs. Over the years, I’ve learned that if I put the same devotion into my supporting characters as I do my MCs, sometimes they become more than support. They become well-rounded people that my readers want to know more about, and who I sometimes want to write more about.

It has happened with several of my ICoS characters, and I find the same thing happening in my other projects. For instance, in the story I am currently working on, the slacker little brother of the MC gradually became someone I want to explore in the future. In ICoS, some of my characters not only became a joy to write, but they also ended up with their own ships, and they will have their own spin-offs in the future.

If you’ve only read Evenfall Volume 1, you haven’t yet met Kassian, and you don’t know much about Ryan, but I’ve been writing them for so many years, they have become more than just the archetypes of “rival” and “genki fanboy”.

The original version of Evenfall was my first full-length story, and I’ve learned a lot over the years. However, when I first started writing I had no idea what the hell I was doing. Ryan was like one of those hated stock characters (in the VERY first version of Evenfall…circa 2006. The full-length Evenfall most of you have read isn’t the first version of the story.) He had a purpose, he fulfilled a function, and he was the best friend to our MCs. Over time, I wanted to make him a full-fledged character instead of just a supporting one, and my goal in the many revisions of Evenfall was to make him a real person with his own motivations, likes, dislikes, and someone the MCs reacted to—I didn’t want him to just take up space in the scene.

The same can be said of Kassian. Instead of remaining Sin’s polar opposite and rival, he developed into a complicated character with a rich past and conflicting motivations that shift and change due to his insecurities and desires. Now, when I write a scene where Kassian is present, I take his perspective into account. What will he say if my MC gets snarky? Will his reaction sideline the scene? How will my MC’s behavior trigger memories from Kassian’s past? Considering all of these new details is a lot additional work, but it’s worth it. The fact that this web of interactions exists and is constantly evolving is what made me fall in love with Kassian, and it’s how he became a prominent part of the line-up instead of just an add-on to different scenes (and a foil to Sin).

So, why am I talking about this? Because Evenfall Volume 2 comes out next Sunday, and readers will be introduced to a slew of new characters in Monterrey (from smart-mouth street kids to arms dealers), as well as Agents Kassian Trovosky, Harriet Stevens, and Casey Archer—all of whom add something special to the scenes they are present in. If you enjoy Volume 2 and decide to stick with the series, you can count on these “supporting characters” becoming integral parts of  the storyline down the road.https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif

Now check out a Kassian scene on this last Teaser Sunday :]

===

When the others weren’t there to see, Kassian collapsed against the seat and, for the first time, weariness overcame him. He undid his vest and removed it along with his outer shirt. He was left in a black sleeveless t-shirt that fit like a second skin.

Rubbing his temples, Kassian spoke. “How are you feeling?”

“Fine.”

“Liar.” Kassian dropped his hand. “You’ve had a rough night, probably a rough few weeks. I apologize if I inadvertently made the situation any worse for you.”

“It’s fine.”

“Well, it’s good to know I won’t have to overextend myself with apologies around you.”

“Not usually, no.” Boyd peered up the narrow aisle. Blair had disappeared into the cockpit, but Michael was sitting in one of the single, forward-facing seats towards the front of the jet. He was far enough away to not overhear their words. “Why did you make them leave?”

“Because when I’m around most people I feel like I have to continue being Senior Agent Trovosky, and I don’t think I can handle that at the moment.” Kassian’s broad shoulders lifted. “I just came from an extended undercover mission and was released from re-integration before being sent on this mission. I almost refused to go, but I changed my mind when I learned about Vega. But I haven’t slept in days, and I’m just cranky enough to shoot Michael in the head if he makes any other stupid comments. And I wanted to speak to you alone.”

“Why?”

“I’m curious. About you.”

“What is there to be curious about?”

“What’s there not to be curious about?” Kassian countered. “At first I thought you were unprofessional, impatient, childish, and a bad agent. As the night progressed, I realized that my initial assessment wasn’t entirely correct. Now I’m curious as to whether my new assessment is.”

“I don’t know what you think of me now so I don’t see how I can be of any help,” Boyd said tiredly.

“Well, let me help you to see.” Kassian smiled for the first time since they’d met. “Explaining your actions can dramatically change first impressions. But in this case I think I’ll just come right out and say what I’ve deduced.” He tapped his fingers against the plush, gray armrests. “I think you’re impatient and very unprofessional, probably because you’ve only been exposed to Vega’s skewed way of operating. However, the childishness manifested due to the fact that you’re in love with Vega, and he is about two steps away from dying.”




Why potential readers should wait to read ICoS

By |February 26th, 2014|

Think of it like a road trip. One route ensures you see all the sights but it’s a meandering route that makes more stops, and takes more turns than are necessary (some of which you don’t even have much interest in but felt obligated to visit since it was on the way). The other route ensures you hit up all the key points, but you make it in 3 days instead of 5, and won’t waste time making random stops because this is a more direct path to where you’re going.

That’s not the most clever or engaging analogy, but it makes the point, right? Well, that’s how I feel about Evenfall in its present form versus Evenfall after we give it a good, thorough pruning. In the past 7-8 years (I forgot when we first started writing it), we have both grown as writers. We have developed the ability to be way more reflective about our work, and more critical. Also, after having left Evenfall untouched for several years, it’s easy to look at it now with a fresh eye and be like “whoa, what the fuck? why does everyone have flip phones? why is this part described 4 times? why is everyone thinking so many thoughts?”, and make some necessary revisions.
In its present form Evenfall is 500,060 words. <— FOR THE FIRST BOOK.
Our goal was to trim it down and make the book into two reader-friendly volumes. We knew they would remain large volumes, but they wouldn’t be monstrous. We weren’t sure how effectively we could pull this off, but we had hope. As of now I can say that in the first round of edits, we have achieved our goal of two 150k word volumes for Evenfall. We shaved off about 200k words in the first round of edits WITHOUT cutting content or character development.
Example: (rough draft version)
So, if you have a friend who is interested in reading ICoS or maybe you might even want to re-read, I strongly suggest waiting for the edit. At this rate, I would say we should be able to upload the newly revised edition (the two volumes) of Evenfall in a month or two months tops. Our target for Afterimage is the summer.
Keep in mind…this revision is not being PROFESSIONALLY EDITED and will remain free. If we ever decide to self-publish the series, we will look into options to have it professionally edited at that time. So, it still won’t be perfect, but it will definitely be improved.
PS: The Post-Fade anthology of stories should also be out within a month. The anthology is called 1/27.

Triangle — an ICoS backstory told from Doug’s POV

By |December 25th, 2013|

Warnings: Brief het sex (because apparently I have to warn for this), and Emilio and Doug being themselves.
Timeline: Winter 2001 (The OG Agency Crew are all in their early 20s)

Triangle
From the POV of Instructor Douglas Ferguson
Doug leaned back on the sofa, eyes closing as he took another hit from the pipe. He held it in for a moment before slowly parting his lips and allowing the smoke to escape. It joined the cloud that was already drifting around them, twisting in the dim room before dissipating entirely. The cloying smell of marijuana permeated every corner, only emphasized by the fact that the room was completely closed off from the outside world.
With the air full of smoke, the steady beat of music playing quietly, and a large container of marijuana sitting in the middle of the table, the place looked more like a frat house than a million dollar loft. If anyone waltzed in right then they would likely assume they’d stumbled upon a trio of college kids rather than one of the deadliest assassins employed at a government agency, the combat instructor of said agency and their boss’s daughter.
Doug opened his eyes and passed the pipe to Lydia. She took it readily, grabbing the lighter from where it had fallen between them. His gaze moved over her lazily, watching as she flicked the lighter and sucked on the end of the pipe with well-practiced ease. He shifted closer and slid one muscular arm around her waist. Her slender body relaxed into him easily, not resisting. Not that she ever did.
“Fuck, you look hot,” he said at length, blue eyes dropping to the dress she was wearing. It was some weird material that clung in all the right places, but the collar was so big it dipped off one shoulder and down her front. It was short, exposing a good amount of thigh.
She smiled and leaned over the low table that sat between the couch and where Emilio was sprawled elegantly on the floor. She handed him the pipe, likely giving him a good show of her cleavage as Doug got an eyeful of her ass.
“Stop playing with your phone,” she complained.
Emilio’s attention shifted to her briefly before he grabbed the pipe. He started to put it to his lips, made a face and then tossed it on the table. “Are you fucking retarded? At least repack the shit first.”
Doug smirked at the way Lydia recoiled. She was such a pathetic bitch for Emilio. Any slight reprimand and she acted like the world ended, which was a serious turn off for Doug. Seeing anyone scrape and grovel for someone who didn’t give two fucks was basically the most embarrassing thing ever.
But she had her uses.
“Ignore him,” Doug advised, pulling her back so that she was sitting on his lap. He thumped his hips up against her ass, making sure she got a good feel of his dick. “And stop showing off for me unless you gonna do something about it.”
Lydia looked over her shoulder at him, the corners of her mouth tilting up in another smile. He’d seen that same smile stop men in their tracks on the Agency’s compound, reduce agents into nothing more than walking hard-ons that throbbed for her and every ounce of trouble she brought.
“Usually you don’t wait to ask,” she said, turning entirely and pressing her body flush against his. Her dress rode up as she put a thigh on either side of him, and he was unsurprised to feel that she was not wearing any underwear. Good ole Lydia. She always came prepared. Unlike most of the other women they hooked up who at least pretended to have some hesitation before succumbing to Emilio’s pretty boy face and smooth talk, Lydia had jumped at the chance to fuck them both on a semi-regular basis. Then again, she’d have done anything for Vega.
 There was a time when Doug had been really cut over the way women preferred Emilio, but he knew realistically that he was just as fit and almost as good looking, and besides—he definitely benefitted from Emilio being a pussy magnet.
Lydia leaned forward and ran her tongue over his lips, laughing when he curled a hand around one ass cheek and gave the other a firm smack.
Emilio’s eyes briefly moved up to focus on them although he appeared more distracted than intrigued. His fucking phone was glued to his hand, and his expression changed from varying degrees of disappointment and annoyance each time he sent or received a text.
“You coming over?” Lydia asked, shooting him a look over her shoulder. Her voice had gone huskier after Doug’s hand slid between her thighs, massaging her clit until her body thrummed with tension and moisture coated his fingers.
“In a minute,” Emilio replied flatly.
“Hurry up.” She glared at Emilio even as she rocked against Doug’s hand. He smirked, rubbing his thumb in a circular motion and causing her to release a husky moan.
“You want my cock, yeah?” Doug asked, shifting on the sofa and using his other hand to undo his jeans.
“Yeah,” she breathed, reaching her hands down to grab the hem of her dress. She pulled it over her head and tossed it on the floor, exposing her lithe body and small firm breasts.
“Then don’t be worrying ‘bout him.” Doug pushed her to the side and lifted his hips to slide off his jeans and underwear. She’d barely sat upright again before he yanked her back down onto his lap, this time so that she was facing away. He threw her legs on either side of his knees so that her thighs were spread open, body arched and facing Emilio as Doug slid his cock inside of her.
He groaned and nodded at Emilio. “He’ll take his turn.”
Emilio brought his cigarette to his lips, taking a deep drag. “Make her come first.”
Nasty bastard. Doug actually thought Emilio got off on literally having sloppy seconds.
They went at it for a while, but that was always the case. Any woman who did the both of them was quick to find out that Doug liked stretching it out. It wasn’t about just shooting it in a tight hole—it was about enjoying the whole experience. Making someone squirm, making them plead and lose control because of him—it was a thrill that encouraged him to work Lydia over until she was a sweating, trembling bundle of nerves that reacted to every touch.
Emilio watched, but for the first time he didn’t participate. He just sat on the floor, chain-smoking and staring moodily. Something had obviously pissed him off but that didn’t stop him from observing the show, and occasionally telling Doug to do something specific to make Lydia wail.
That was another thing about Emilio. He was a total voyeur and just as often as not, Doug noted that Emilio was watching him. At first it had weirded Doug out, but any discomfort about Emilio’s bisexuality had vanished after Level 10 training, or more specifically torture training. Being forced to rape your mate with every device in the book for mock interrogations did away with silly things such as modesty and homophobia. Especially since Emilio’s sick ass had wound up liking it. But even without that, they shared women often enough for it to have crossed some serious intimacy boundaries ages ago and oddly enough, Emilio was the person he was naked and hard in front of the most.
By the time Doug was reaching his peak, he and Lydia were on the floor and she’d already come hard enough to make everything wet and messy. He could feel his gut tightening as he gripped her hips, drilling into her hard, and questioningly looked over at Emilio again. However, the other man had like, zero interest. Somewhere along the line he’d refocused on his phone as if a hardcore sex show wasn’t going on a couple meters away.
“Fuck it,” Doug said thickly. His mouth fell open as he moved faster until he was jerking back and pulling out to pump his dick in harsh, violent movements that ripped the orgasm out of him. Ropes of semen splattered his now-bare chest and torso.
Lydia watched him with a self-satisfied grin, flushed, sweaty, and looking goddamn beautiful while he was still trembling and feeling unsteady. Doug started to return the smile as he grabbed his t-shirt to clean up, but the expression faded when Lydia’s eyes landed on Emilio again and her mouth transformed into a red moue.
“Jesus woman, that wasn’t enough?” Doug asked dryly.
“I just don’t see what his problem is. He usually at least wants me to give him a blowjob.”
Doug guffawed at that, tossing the damp t-shirt to the floor. “God you’re a dirty bitch. Self-respect, un-fuckin-needed, right? Can’t have one cock in you, must have two.”
“Oh, you’re one to talk. Since you’ve been running around with Emilio, you’ve seen more cocks than me.”
Doug ran a hand through his unruly black curls and jerked up his jeans. “Oh, there’s my girl. Come on babe, let’s hear it. What shit you gonna talk now?”
Lydia had already thrown her dress back on, and stood up to stare down scornfully. “Like you have so much self-respect? Following around Emilio, trying to fuck his leftovers all the time? I heard you’ve even tumbled a few guys at this point, but I guess you can’t attract enough women on compound since you’re just another failed fieldie.”
“Who the fuck cares about being a field agent?” he asked. “Just more work than I even wanna fuckin’ deal with. I’m right with what I do. And last I checked sweetheart, you came two times all over my cock. You were too hot for it to even wait to get the dick you came for. I always know it’s worth it to hang out when a Connors girl is gonna be here.”
Lydia shot Emilio a look, as if waiting for him to intervene but he’d already walked away from the conversation as he argued with someone on his phone.
“My sister doesn’t even like you.”
“Smart girl. She knows I don’t want nothing to do with you except take the easy meat you offer up. Even better since it’s so easy to make you squirt. Annabelle is a bit more conservative, isn’t she?”
Lydia grabbed the pipe and chucked it at him. Douh ducked out of the way and it shattered against the wall behind him.
“I fucking hate you. If it wasn’t for Emilio liking your sorry ass, I would tell my father to get rid of you. There’s plenty of other MMA fighters out there who could take your place, you Aussie faggot.”
Doug just shook his head, laughing and unable to respond more intelligently. He watched as she stormed out, red-faced and enraged. It was a little disappointing. Their fights usually led to frantic hate fucking, but apparently the combination of his obnoxious behavior and Emilio’s lack of interest was canceling that possibility today. Even so, Doug was still cackling when Emilio re-entered the room.
“Your girl left,” he said, stretching out on the sofa. “Was quite annoyed at you.”
“Like a give a shit.”
Emilio dropped down on top of Doug’s feet. The training instructor made a face and shifted, moving his legs so they draped on Emilio’s lap instead. He didn’t react when one of Emilio’s thumbs began idly dragging along the arch of his foot.
“Let’s go out. I need to get fucked.”
“Well, you sure as hell missed that opportunity,” Doug said. “Ole Liddie was ready to go—complained we didn’t want to DP her. Never met such an eager cunt in my whole life.”
“I don’t mean that kind of fucked.”
Doug didn’t catch on until Emilio’s eyes dropped from his face to skitter over his bare torso and undone jeans. Instead of avoiding the eyefuck, Doug gave his friend a big smile. Lydia had had a point about one thing—he’d never much cared for the attention queers gave him until he’d gotten a thrill out of making Emilio writhe and moan during torture training. It was then that Doug realized he got off just as hard watching a man fall apart and lose control just as much as he got off on watching a woman’s face crumple and go all vulnerable when she came. He considered his horizons broadened.
“Ahh, I see,” he said. “Want to pound some willing twink?”
“Nope.” Emilio’s lips curled into one of his trademark filthy smirks. “I want to get fucking pounded.”
“Yeah? What’s so good about having a dick up your arse? Sounds painful if you ask me.”
Emilio slouched down on the sofa. “Don’t bother me none. Pain’s part of the pleasure, bro. And you should know I turn into a willing little whore when I’m gettin’ used.”
A flash of a memory hit Doug. Emilio naked, sweating, strapped to a slab on the Fourth with his knees forced open and thighs spread. Head thrown back, mouth open and sobbing out moans as Doug increased the speed on the dildo machine that had been relentlessly driving in and out of Emilio’s ass.
It was supposed to be merciless rape, humiliation for the tough, thugged-out gang member to get him to break, tell them everything to get it to stop. Doug and Emilio had made a pact to have no hard feelings about it when torture training was over, but the pact had been unnecessary since Emilio had loved every minute of it. Doug had made Emilio nut a dozen times before the wanker of an instructor had cottoned on and realized sexual humiliation had just become rough sex for three days straight.
“I sure do.” Doug could feel Emilio getting hard beneath his foot. He pressed down, a wicked grin on his face. “Too bad pretty boy Carhart won’t give you the brutal railing you want, eh?”
Irritation wiped all traces of interest off Emilio’s face and he shoved Doug’s foot away. “Shut the fuck up.”
 “Oh, come on, baby. You know I’ve got your number. I bet it was him getting you all hot and bothered when Lydia was putting on a show for you, wasn’t it?”
“She wasn’t the only one putting on a show.”
“Fuck off, Vega. You ogle my dick so much I don’t got to do tricks to get you to pay attention.”
Emilio tilted his head to the side, seemed to consider his options, and then shifted his weight so that he was straddling Doug. Doug raised his arms as if he was under siege, brows hiking up as the distance between them radically reduced.
“I’m sorry, did that sound like a fucking invitation?”
The question earned him the Vega shit eating grin and Doug leaned his head back as far as he could to evade the brush of lips against his mouth. Undeterred, Emilio’s mouth attached to the side of Doug’s neck and sucked with the right combination of pressure and teeth to make Doug’s dick stir.
“Emilio!”
“Come on, Douglas. Don’t be such a pussy.”
“Just because you can’t have your fieldie of choice don’t mean you can cop the slut routine with me.” Doug pressed his palm against the side of Emilio’s face and shoved him away even though his pulse was racing faster than it had been before those lips had touched him. Motherfucking Vega.
“It ain’t got shit to do with him.” Emilio’s face turned stormy like it did right before he reamed someone, but instead of a punch Doug found himself pinned against the back of the couch with a lapful of writhing Emilio who seemed intent on getting him harder. The lips returned to his throat, nipping and sucking alternatively. Doug shook his head in frustration. It was only a matter of time before he gave in. Self-control wasn’t high on his list of attainable attributes when something was making him feel good.
“Could have fooled me. The way you fiend for him and his phone calls makes it pretty goddamn suss,” he said, belated and hoarse when Emilio’s head dipped lower and sucked one of Doug’s nipples into his mouth. A cry tore out of him before he could swallow it, and his dick went from half-hard to ragingly erect with near painful immediacy. “Fucking Christ. You need to calm down.”
“You need to flip me over and fuck me.” Emilio flicked his tongue at Doug’s chest again and sat up, palms braced on Doug’s knees and ass pressed against Doug’s dick like he was ready to take a ride. “I remember how hard your dick got when you cranked that machine up and made it fuck me deeper. Don’t try to front, son. You think I forgot all the games we played in that room?”
Doug shivered and planted a hand against the center of Emilio’s chest. “Shut it. The only thing that proves is that I’m just as sick as any other Agency sociopath. Give someone a little power and it brings the cruelty right out, doesn’t it?”
“You wish you were that stone cold, Ferguson. It just seemed like you wanted to make me come.”
Doug’s eyelids lowered and he dug his fingers tighter into Emilio’s sides. The senior agent was pinned against him, wild-eyed with an intensity so feral that Doug almost felt at a loss. He had no idea why Emilio turned into an aggressive sex-fiend when he was in a bad mood, but Doug wasn’t used to the force of the Vega pheromones being directly solely at him.
“Maybe I just liked seeing Emilio Fucking Vega beg me and scream my name while shaking and sobbing because it felt so good? I got a kick out of you being a helpless bitch. I could have made you do anything, and you’d have done it.”
Emilio’s face shuttered so abruptly that it was almost like a goddamn invisible wall had slammed down between them. He pushed himself off Doug’s lap, expression void and eyes hooded. “Can’t say I’m surprised.”
“Hey…” Doug frowned and sat up unsteadily. “Just a second now—”
“Let’s go out.”
“Aw, Emilio, don’t be like that.”
“Be like what? I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.”
Doug stood and combed both hands through his hair, causing it to stick out wildly as he tried to figure out the best way to backtrack and un-piss the little hooligan off. The problem was, he’d meant it and Emilio’s internal lie detector had probably picked up on that before it had occurred to Doug not to go there. Emilio sure as shit didn’t like to be treated the way he treated others.
Emilio turned away and grabbed his phone again, thumbing out a text message as Doug frowned at the lean, tattooed stretch of his back. The worst part about speaking brutal truths to Emilio was that it sent him running back to Zachary Goddamn Carhart every fucking time.
“All right, mate. Let’s go.”
“Fine. Just change your clothes because you look like shit.”
“You got it, baby.”
***
When they got to Club Killjoy, Emilio took a sharp detour left and went hawkeye on a tall, rocker guy with more tattoos than visible skin and enough corded muscle on his body to look like any self respecting dick hound’s wet dream. He also had a combination of golden hair, baby blues and a boyish smile that screamed Zachary Carhart loud enough to make Doug want to slam his fucking head against a wall. He really did not get the infatuation. Not one bit.
Accompanying Emilio to a gay club only to get ditched by his ghetto-ass moments later was exactly how these things tended to work when Doug agreed to play heterosexual wingman. Was it fun to watch Emilio walk around, picking and choosing and owning the place just by being a gorgeous bad ass? Hell yeah, it was. Doug took pride in the fact that his best friend was a dick and cunt magnet. But it also got boring. Especially now that he felt like he was being ditched for dull as toast Zachary once again. The kid had been a thorn in Doug’s side ever since the Agency had plucked him from the cornfields of some flyover state that no one gave a sweet goddamn about.
What was it about him that had Emilio pacing and staring at his phone, apparently feeling all the feelings while Zachary blinked his big, blue eyes and focused them solely on the mission? How did he not see and appreciate that he had the infamous Emilio Vega panting after him like a puppy dog? Normally, Doug and Emilio saw eye-to-eye on just about everything. They fucked the same bitches, hated the same assholes and did exactly the same amount of drugs until they’d been banned from going on the same missions (before Doug had been banned from getting sent out at all), so how in the hell had they wound up on such different ends of the Carhart spectrum?
Maybe it was a queer thing. Or a wanting what you can’t have thing. Or maybe Emilio had no valid reason and the Zachary obsession was just another bizarre manifestation of his fucked up brain.
“Your friend better play nice with Jase.”
Doug looked away from the lesbian couple he’d been ogling and squinted up at the bartender. “Who the fuck’s Jase?”
The bartender nodded towards the back of the bar, and Doug followed his gaze. His mouth crooked into a smile. Emilio was pinned against a dark crevice beyond the dance floor, his head thrown back as the big blond dude—Jase, apparently—mauled him with his hands and mouth. He was touching Emilio with impatient aggression and obviously wanted under the senior agent’s clothes. Emilio just smiled and looked beyond the point of blacked-out-drunk, making it no big shock that this Jase character probably thought Emilio was a slutty twink with a lot of tough guy swagger and nothing to back it up. He’d be in for a surprise once he actually got Vega naked and saw the gang tats and scars. Or worse, if he did something to piss Emilio.
“He’ll be okay. Trust me on that one.”
“If you say so.” The bartender was pretty adorable, all innocent and concerned for a hitman who’d been killing since before he’d hit puberty. “Just keep in mind…Jase likes to share.”
“It’s okay, man. My friend likes to be shared. He’s probably taken more dick than all the queers in this bar put together.”
The bartender looked caught off guard by that, and Doug made up for it by convincing the kid do shots with him. They played a drinking game that Doug invented on the spot and by the time Emilio stumbled back from the toilets with Jase and two of his mates, Doug was three sheets to the wind and trying to explain why Krav Maga was superior to Muay Thai even though he was 100% positive the kid knew shit about either.
Emilio was sweaty, flushed, his clothes half-assedly put back on, and looking completely unconcerned by the way Jase and his buddies were grinning at each other with vomit-inducing arrogance. Something about their smirky faces made Doug want to demonstrate why Krav Maga was so boss in a real world scenario of him versus three motherfucking cockwads who had likely all stuffed his best mate, but he didn’t want to end up on the Fourth again for damaging a civilian. Instead, he flipped them off and grabbed Emilio’s arm when he slumped against the bar.
“You all right, sweetheart?”
“Uh huh.”
“Get enough?”
Emilio’s eyes opened and he looked up at Doug, kiss-swollen lips parted and damp. His head lolled to the side, gaze sliding away just as he shook his head and nearly fell off the barstool. Doug caught him just before he crashed to the ground, easily supporting all 86 kilos of Vega’s dead weight.
“Is he gonna be okay?”
Doug slid an arm around Emilio’s waist as the other man slumped against him. “Yeah, this ain’t nothing new. He’s a fucking mess when he can’t get what he wants.”
“Do you want me to call you a cab or anything?”
“Nah, I got him.”
“Are you sure?”
Doug looked up at the kid in exasperation and started to tell him to kindly fuck off until he realized that the kid was giving him big doe eyes and probably wanted to do more than play Good Samaritan. Adjusting his stance, and nearly causing Emilio to drop to the floor, Doug gave the bartender a more thorough once-over. Tall, thin, and with a pretty pair of dick sucking lips that would probably feel nice wrapped around Doug’s cock. And after all, a blowjob was a blowjob…
“What’s your name, sweetness?”
“Jonah.”
“What time d’ya get off, Jonah?”
The kid arched an eyebrow. “Soon, hopefully.”
Well, goddamn. He’d found himself a live one. It wouldn’t be the first time Doug let some twink go down on him, but it would be the first time he wasn’t sharing with Emilio. He looked down at Emilio, studying him thoughtfully. He reeked of booze and looked well-used and exhausted, but wasn’t really sick or anything. After all, he’d made his way back from missions on foot while shot multiple times. It wasn’t like he needed a babysitter to go back to the Barrows while drunk…
A flash of green appeared from under the heavy fall of Emilio’s dark lashes, and his scarred lips lifted in a sneer. “Go get your dick sucked, retard. I don’t need no escort.”
“You sure? You can barely walk.”
“I can walk on my goddamn own.”
Emilio shoved Doug away from him and stood up, fine black hair hanging in his face and catching on the dampness of his full lower lip. He fumbled with his clothes and Doug caught an eyeful of hickies and bruises that were blossoming on Emilio’s throat.
“I dunno why you let those idiots pass you round the way they did. You’re too good for that, Vega.”
Emilio sniffed and fixed his shirt, fingers moving clumsily over the tiny metallic buttons. “Why does Lydia let us fuck her? Why’s this fucking kid so ready to suck your cock? Why does anyone do anything? Don’t ask me stupid shit.”
“Yikes,” Jonah muttered.
Emilio pointed at him. “You got a comment, bitch?”
“All right, all right, let’s go.” Doug rolled his eyes and grabbed Emilio’s shoulder, moving to steer him toward the door. “I’ll be back, sweetness.”
Jonah nodded, dark eyes twinkling with amusement. By some miracle of God, his attention hadn’t refocused to Emilio and stayed there. People normally took one look at his pretty boy face and ripped body and were sucked in no matter how much of a jerk he was to them.
“Listen, you can’t go cockblocking by way of your bad attitude, Vega. You didn’t see me busting in to interrupt the hopefully wrapped up gangbang you was having in the toilets.”
Once again, Emilio pushed Doug’s hand away and stopped walking just outside the club. The brisk air hit them, catching Doug completely unprepared and slaughtering his lungs when he inhaled. Seeming unfazed, Emilio slumped against the brick wall and pulled out a cigarette, somehow managing to light it despite the gusting wind. He inhaled deeply, the cherry of the cigarette glowing crimson in the shadows beneath the club’s awning. He slid down the side of the wall and sat on the concrete with one knee pulled up against his chest and the other extended across the sidewalk.
“So, what, we’re just hanging out in the arctic winds now?” Doug scowled and looked around. He wondered if he could mentally will some poor sucker to manifest and take Emilio to his apartment. He looked marginally more functional but apparently coherency came with a bad attitude.
“Just fuck off, Douglas.”
“I’m not leaving you out here to pick a fight with some idiot.”
“I’ll pick a fucking fight with whoever I want.”
“Yeah, but then the Inspector will hand our asses to us and we’ll be banned from even leaving the bloody compound together!”
Emilio glowered up at him. “Don’t be such a scared little cunt.”
“Jesus, you’d think getting nailed would lighten you up a bit. Miserable fuck. Whatsamatta, Vega? Playing make believe with a Zachary fantasy didn’t do the trick?”
Doug should have known better than to stay in grabbing distance before letting the words leave his mouth, but he was too drunk to think that far in advance and was completely unprepared when Emilio grabbed his leg and yanked it out from under him. Doug was on his back before he could steady himself. His head bounced off the curb and he swore, instantly bringing a knee up to slam into Emilio’s balls when the other man pinned him to the ground.
“You stupid fucker—”
“Get the hell off me!”
They rolled across the concrete, Doug primarily trying to block Emilio’s blows and not end up in the middle of the street. It would be awkward trying to explain to the Marshal and Inspector that they’d been hit by a car when drunkenly battling over Zachary Carhart’s honor.
“Goddamnit, Vega!” Doug yelled and shoved his hand against Emilio’s face in an attempt to detach the little bastard’s teeth from the side of his neck. “You fucking vampire twat!”
Emilio pulled away with a startled laugh and Doug took the opportunity to knee him in the gut. He scrambled to his feet before Emilio could do anymore damage, and rubbed the side of his neck. Emilio didn’t even have the decency to apologize—he simply got to his knees and glared at Doug with as much petulance as an oversexed assassin could have.
“You know what?” Doug brought his hand away from his neck and stared at his fingers. He was actually bleeding. Jesus. “You’re on your own, fucker. I’m gonna go get my cock blown by that sweet little piece of meat, and your precious Zachary can come babysit you.”
“I’m not calling his bitch ass for nothing. He wants to fucking hang out with Bree and her band of R&D agents who all wanna hop on his dick? Fine. I couldn’t give less of a fuck.”
“Oh yeah, you’re being so believable. Just shut up. You don’t got to call. I’ll call him. Jesus Christ, you are pathetic.”
“Your mother’s pathetic.”
Doug ripped his phone out of his pocket, heart still pounding and breath coming in sharp bursts. A jealous Emilio was clearly a psychotic Emilio, and this was the last goddamn time he got in the middle of the Zachary-Emilio shitshow. He and Emilio had been best friends for seven years and now Emilio was ripping out a chunk of his flesh over one lousy joke.
One day the situation would blow up, and Doug wasn’t going to be there when it happened.

Co-Writing for a Decade

By |November 9th, 2013|

Recently, Susan interviewed Ais and me for the new blog Boys in Our Books. The interview got super long so some cuts had to be made to keep the focus on the series, but we thought one of the questions was excellent and is one that comes up from time to time about how we interact, communicate and how we’ve stayed friends for so long
If you’re interested, our original answers are below with several additions. We broke the question down and answered bit by bit in more depth to take into consideration other questions we’ve been asked over the years.
How did you meet?
AIS: Sonny and I met through a mutual friend named Nitid, back in our Gundam Wing days. He was volunteering for a GW yaoi review site she owned and Nitid had recommended one of my fics. I think she knew we might click. Most people had taken the fic seriously when it was supposed to be satirical, but one of the first things Sonny said to me was how funny it was. I realized at that moment that he was on my wavelength, which I appreciated since I’m used to being the odd one out. When she had to leave, Sonny and I were left alone in the chat room and talked for hours. I still remember one of the first questions I asked, lol. It was a research question for a story I planned to write. I knew the dude for like 10 minutes and was like “HEY SO CAN A GUY GET OFF WITH ONE NUT?” and he didn’t even question how weird that was.
Pretty much from then on, we became really good friends. That right there is the power of gay sex.
SONNY: Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ve known Ais since… 2001? So, basically since we were kids. I’m pretty sure she was either a freshman or sophomore in college and I was like 22 or 23 and generally a hot mess, so I don’t even remember what I was doing. It was either when I was a bike messenger or working in this adult novelty store in Greenwich Village. I’d gotten into the fandom through my ex-wife who used to write yaoi fanfiction. She was the one who introduced me to fandom and yaoi or slash, and then I got a little involved and made friends of my own including Ais. I have a couple of people I met from that fandom that I still have today, almost 13 years later.
Are you REALLY friends? How close are you?
AIS: It’s been probably about a decade since we met but for most of those years we’ve been in daily contact online. We know each others’ friends and family by name, and track life events. For example, I know and have talked to Sonny’s ex-wife and his cousin who’s partial Vega inspiration. And I tell Sonny about what’s happening with my friends and family.
SONNY: Yeah, my ex-wife, my crazy cousin, and roommates all know Ais by her real name (and she knows my government :p). We’ve always exchanged stuff around Christmas and birthdays, and now she’s known as the person who sends the really good tea because she has this super wide range of types of tea, so my roommates will ask if she’s sent any in a package. It’s pretty funny. We’ve also exchanged contact info for family/friends in case of emergencies or whatever.
AIS: I always felt guilty sending something ONLY to Sonny since I felt like I knew the other people in his life. So practically from the beginning, I sent presents to everyone when I sent him something. They were usually smaller, like tea, but then I felt like everyone had something when he opened the package. The funniest was probably to his crazy cousin, who once saw a photo of a friend and me in high school, sitting in a car about to embark on a road trip. We had what looked like cigarettes in our mouths. When Sonny’s cousin saw that, he wondered who I was, and when I told Sonny they were candy cigarettes (because I was always that kid that never drank, smoked, used drugs, or really have ever had many vices outside of tea, sugar, and stories), Sonny’s cousin was really confused as he’d never heard of them. So I embarked on a mission to find some and I sent him some in the next package. Sonny later told me his cousin said they tasted kind of weird but he munched on them anyway.
There have been a few scary points where we really wanted to contact the other. Sonny was unreachable for days during Superstorm Sandy, and that was alarming because he was right in the midst of it. Without power, he couldn’t let anyone know he was okay. There have been some events near me that Sonny learned about, too; like tornadoes or other incidents. In one of the cases, I wasn’t able to get back to him for days, which was long enough for him to worry that something terrible had happened. But ultimately, we know the other person will contact us as soon as they are able.
Do you trust each other with things other than characters and plotlines?
SONNY: Definitely. Like I said I was really young when we met, and just coming out of a really bad time in my life so I had totally immersed myself in reading and writing and online stuff to forget about any real world issues I was going through. So, at that point is when I met Ais and my good friend Heather and really got into being in this online community where I could talk to people who wouldn’t judge me and shit even if I was a weird kid. Ais knew me when I had drinking problems, when I first got married, when my kids were born, through the disaster of my divorce, all through my struggle to become a functional adult and figure out what the fuck I’m doing with my life, and when I found out about being sick and had to start getting treatment, she was one of the first people I told.
AIS: Similarly, there are some genetic bullshit things I’ve been dealing with for years and Sonny was one of the first people I told as well as the ongoing developments. From the start, Sonny was also the main person, and sometimes the only person, I told when I was truly upset or depressed about something. I have always hated burdening people with my problems, so in the beginning, I felt safer talking to someone online. But over time I came to value his responses as well. He always made me feel like it was possible to cut through all the things that were vying for my attention and focus on the important parts.
I think for both of us, we came to know we could say just about anything and it wouldn’t endanger our friendship. And knowing so much about each other but having a relatively objective view due to being miles apart, has lent each of us the ability to help find a solution for the other if a problem is overrunning them. Because of our careers, both of us are pretty private people, but we probably know each other better than most people know us.
Why haven’t you met in person?
SONNY: I think there’s something special about making friends online that leads to these long-lasting and really intense friendships. For most of us, we’re online daily. Every night or day. So you talk to those friends every day and for hours. It was always like that in fandom and original slash.
I know M/M is a lot different and everyone has the push to network in person and do all of this stuff, but aside from google hangouts, voice chat, chatting and exchanging videos and pictures (she has seen my progression through the years in various awkward pictures including my way-back-when HS prom picture and various drunken bar photos, and I have seen all of her elaborate Halloween costumes through the years, although this year’s pirate costume topped the ninja one), it’s never come up about us traveling the distance.
AIS: (probably because it would be me having to scrounge up money to fly out to NYC since most people don’t go out of their way to visit the Midwest lolz) Someday I actually DO want to visit NYC/East Coast. If that ever happens, I’d probably let Sonny know so we could figure out whether or not we’re going to try to meet in person or just leave it the way it is. I’ve never felt that it’s imperative to meet. I know who Sonny is, he knows who I am, we function perfectly well as friends the way we are now, plus in person I’d have to crane my neck to look up the foot difference we have between us ;P
Have you ever argued or had big disagreements about writing or otherwise?
SONNY: We’ve gotten in like 87897 arguments over the years and always come back from it. I won’t get into the details but we’ve had some pretty serious disagreements that caused major tension and even though it wound up being in large part due to miscommunication (SOUND FAMILIAR? LAWLAWLAWLAWL), we eventually talked it out bluntly and got over it without drama.
A couple of people have observed that it’s amazing we’re still friends because sometimes co-writers turn on each other or stop getting along. I think that doesn’t happen because even if we DO get mad, we still know ultimately we can be blunt with each other and work it out even if it takes some time or even if we get frustrated with each other. Also, we don’t involve other people in our arguments. I’m not saying we’ve never vented to friends because venting is natural in ANY relationship, but we have never tried to turn others against each other or gossiped about each other. That kind of stuff is what ruins relationships.
How do you work together/organize things?
AIS: The way we work together is basically the same whether we’re working on plot or just talking about real life. With ICoS, we planned plots together, but we were both always also in charge of our own characters. Sometimes that meant one of us would say, “I think so-and-so is going to do such-and-such” and we’d discuss it to see if it worked in story, but other times it was a firm, “This character is going to do XYZ.” We would then have to adjust the story accordingly.
For example, if you were to look at our VERY first outline (and if you find it, let me know because I’m pretty sure it was lost over the years ;p), it mostly covered the major points of Evenfall, skipped to a piece or two of Interludes, and then jumped to the second half of Fade. That was going to be just one book. But as we wrote the story, it expanded and became more layered because the characters went in directions we didn’t anticipate from the start when we were just writing the story for the hell of it. Afterimage wasn’t part of the plan, but when we got to the end of Evenfall, we realized that the characters were set on paths that led to that book.
One of the things we’ve both always been pretty committed to is letting the plot follow the characters rather than force the characters into the plot. Even if it made it a messier, longer, more emotionally charged story, it was their story and that was the way it needed to be told.
What are the main differences between you two?
AIS: For the most part, we’re very much in line in the way we write and plan a story. There are just a few differences in the way we go about things, and that’s something that endlessly amuses me because it mostly ties back to our different personalities.
For instance, I am a packrat. I keep EVERYTHING. I have a minimum of two copies of every chapter of the whole series because I always preferred to write my replies in a separate document and paste it over into the shared document, rather than write directly into the shared. That allowed me to also keep the research I did for each chapter in line with the secondary document itself. Also, I kept discarded wording for scenes, or if I wrote a chapter/scene multiple times I always kept every version. I almost never just delete something.
Sonny, meanwhile, is much more streamlined about things. In the early days, he used to delete the bullet points on our shared outlines after we had passed that part of the story. The funniest thing is, as we were starting this document to write this FAQ/blog, there was a case in point right there XD We had a shared document where we had our interview for Boys In Our Books with all the answers. Then this conversation happened:
Ais:  that works
Santino:  ill delete the rest of the questions from the doc
Ais:  wait
lets make a new doc
i dont want to lose our answers if we ever need that whole thing later
YOU FOOL
I was watching him change things in the document, futilely trying to tell him to stop and knowing he couldn’t see what I was saying because he was busy, and that made me laugh because it was a perfect example of our different approaches.
SONNY: Yeah some other differences are that I tend to be really confrontational and she’s a lot calmer or backs off from a situation. I’m more stoic/terse while she’s more playful/talkative. She’s better at abstract plotting, and I’m good at synthesizing complex ideas. In the beginning, I was really standoffish about talking to readers because I didn’t know what to say, but she was always the one interacting on the ICoS forum and kind of handling our joint email account.
AIS: It’s always been easy for me to interact with people, and anyone who has spent like two seconds around me knows I like to talk, so when it became apparent that our natural personalities meant Sonny was a bit uncertain with how to interact with others, I just automatically assumed that role.
Other than that, there aren’t THAT many differences (aside from the obvious: gender, our very different backgrounds, etc). Our reading preferences often align but not always. We both have a sense of humor but the way we go about it is a bit different. But overall, even in writing it gets right back to that very first moment when we met: we’re naturally on the same wavelength, and anything else is different shades of the same grey.