II

Freeze holds me in his hands as if I were a piece of fruit and, leaning forward, lingeringly tastes my lips. "I need you to come with me. Say you'll come."

This is unusual for Freeze. Usually, he doesn't ask. He takes it for granted that I will always be by his side. I cannot find my voice, so I nod slowly. He smiles. What can I do but kiss him and dread him and kiss him again?

I knew something was wrong. I've never been stupid although, at times, I have been blind. Freeze picks up a crystal vase, sets it down again and asks me to wear white.

All the alarms in my head are going off. Why can't he hear them? He doesn't look into my eyes as he helps me dress. He twinges once, I hear his breath catch in his throat. He does hear the alarms. For some reason, he just can't listen.

Freeze's hands shake as he does up my buttons. No one would notice but me. Freeze is like a glass lake -- perfect and calm. You have to know where to look to see the cracks. I want to tie his arms behind his back to stop his hands from shaking. I want to bind him and keep him near me. But I cannot do these things. It is only when I raise my hands to his face that I realize I am shaking, too. This is not fear. I am not afraid. But Freeze is and I have never known him to be afraid. I steady my hands and hold him with my eyes. I smile.

We take the small cruiser. Freeze does not tell me where we're going. He does not set the auto-pilot. "I want you to meet someone," he says. His hands are not shaking. His voice is soft and low, sends shivers up my spine. I do not answer him. I do not know what to say.

Galaxy Strip is my favourite spaceport. Freeze took me there for my 17th birthday. If every moment with Freeze wasn't so perfect, I'd say it had been the best night of my life. We circle it now and I feel a weight lift off me, leaving me buoyant until Freeze steadies my knee with his hand. Galaxy Strip is a special place for me. There is not a square foot on it I do not know. Here, I am almost Freeze's equal. Whatever it is we are coming to, here I will be ready.

Freeze keeps his hand on my neck as he steers me through the station. His skin is cool, soothing, and I begin to think I am overreacting. Freeze says I am a romantic and that where there are no monsters I invent them. I see monsters in the shadows here. Even though Freeze's hand is steady, I begin to be afraid.

I have never seen anyone who looks like Freeze. He is a work of art. There is no one to compare. The man who sits across from us could be Freeze's twin, if it weren't for the light in his eyes. He eyes me with disdain and a lust he does not attempt to hide. I do not falter under his gaze. Now that we are here, my heart begins to slow, but I can still feel the pounding at my temples.

This man is Trance, Freeze's brother.

I do not understand how Trance could dare condescend to Freeze and I do not understand why Freeze lets him. I keep my hands laced in my lap so I will not hit him. Trance talks to Freeze as if I were not here. I do not mind. When people do not consider me a threat is when I do my best work.

"I thought you wouldn't come," said Trance.

This is a lie. Freeze acknowledges it with a smile I have never seen before.

"Why did you ask to see me, Trance."

"I haven't seen you in a long time. I missed you."

I snort in disgust. Trance becomes aware of my existence but dismisses me a second later with the slightest flicker of his eyes. His eyes are gray. The colour of the sea after a storm. He reaches out a hand and covers Freeze's hand on the table. It is only because Freeze is so strong that he does not pull away.

"I need something from you."

"What."

"I need your help."

"Tryst."

"Yes."

Freeze was not speaking questions. His voice was heavy. His words fall from him like lead. Where before there was fear, now there is anger. If I had been Trance, I would have left then and never turned back. But Trance only smiles, bares his teeth. Freeze sighs, averts his gaze.

"What do you want me to do."

"Kill him."

"I can't."

"Freeze ..."

"I can't!"


Freeze finds my face, clings to it with his eyes. "I won't."

He says this to Trance, but he look at me. He smiles. Suddenly, he is mine again. Whatever hold his brother had over him was broken. He stands, puts a possessive arm about my waist. I know he is flaunting me. Trance knows, too. His eyes breath cold fire. "Goodbye, Trance." It has the sound of something final. I am proud to be at his side.

Freeze guides me away from his twin with the cold eyes.

"Nice guy," I say.

Freeze flashes me the smile that I own and I melt. "Where have you been all my life?" he asks.

I remember I am wearing white. So does he. We go to a club where loud music shakes the walls. I cannot feel my heartbeat under the pounding of the base, but I can hear his voice.

"You saved me," he says.

I do not understand.

"Trance is not my brother. Not quite." His eyes stare past me, through me.

"You look beautiful tonight," I say. This brings him back to me.

"Trance is a clone. So am I."

"I did not know it was allowed."

"It's not."

Freeze takes a sip from his drink. He is suddenly so lovely that I cannot catch my breath.

"There are 3 of us---me, Trance and Tryst."

"Identical?"

"Physically." He goes on. "Tryst was the first. I am the youngest. We were born on Old Earth."

This does not surprise me as much as it should. I smile to think the sun I had walked under had also been his sun.

"In the beginning we were close. Trance and I were ... Trance and I were lovers."

Now he surprises me.

"We did not know," he explains. "We were born alone. We did not know."

A girl with a sweet mouth sidles close to us. One look from Freeze and she is gone.

"How could you be alone?"

"We were never children. We were born as we are."

"How long have you been alive?" It is a question he must answer now.

"I do not know. A very long time, I think. We do not age like others do. I do not know how long we spent at the lab. We learned much there. And then we learned how to break free."

"Did you know what you were?"

"Not at first. How could we? But by the time we broke out, we knew. It was a whole new world for us and we knew what we were. We could have done anything. Tryst had the idea of saving humanity from itself. I do not know why he chose to do this. None of us has any great love for mankind. We do not seem to be capable of it. Trance and I traveled together for many years, until he began to change. He became cruel, sadistic. I could not love him anymore. But I had never been alone and there was no one who could replace him. All these years, when he has called, I have come. I did anything he told me to do. I could not help myself."

It does not embarrass him to speak of this. I am amazed at his strength.

"Then I found you."

His eyes caress me. I feel as if I were being held although he does not touch me.

"For the very first time, I forgot Trance. When he called me, I had to go to him. I had to see if I could refuse him."

He does not need to speak anymore. His heart is before me. I slide closer, slip an arm around his waist. The club is full, but I do not see anyone other than him. Freeze says I could kindle a fire out of thin air. When I look at him, there is one burning in his eyes.

"What will we do now?"

"We have to find Tryst. There is a reason Trance wants him dead. We must find out what it is."

I nod my head. Freeze could have said he had to go to hell and back, and I would have followed.

*

We leave the club. As Freeze walks beside me his feet are on the ground but I walk on air. It is only when we near the docking bay that I know something is wrong. There is a pressure at the back of my eyes that makes me stop short. I put a hand out to halt Freeze. He stops, looks at me with puzzled eyes, and then he is gone.

In his place is Trance. He smiles at me. His gray eyes gleam black. He reaches out a hand, strokes my cheek. His touch is like Freeze's. I shiver. There is an invitation in his smile. I look down and find Freeze lying at my feet. Trance does not expect me to move so fast. I look innocent in white. My hands are streaks of light as I hit him. When his eyes are closed, he is Freeze. I cannot kill him. I beat him until he's bloody. I have never been so mad, but it is not with Trance that I am angry. I am angry with myself. I would have gone with him.

Now Trance lies beside Freeze on the ground. They are so alike I cannot tell them apart but for the blood. I kneel beside Freeze and find he is still alive. The tears that run down my face splash on his. He is as light as eiderdown in my arms. I have never seen Freeze hurt. Unconcious, he looks like the child he never was. Freeze says he has never seen anyone as gentle as I. But now there is blood on my hands and I do not dare to touch him.

*

By the time we are home, Freeze is awake. His blue eyes are dazed.

"Lad?"

My heart leaps at the sound of his voice. "I am here."

"What happened?"

"Trance," I say. I remember the touch of his brother and shiver.

Freeze sees the blood on my hands. "Did you kill him?"

"No. I couldn't."

"I did not think he would hurt me."

I cannot help but tell him. "I don't think he would have. He wanted me."

I strip off my clothes, head for the shower. I am covered with shame. Somehow I think the water will wash it away with the blood. I stand in a chill stream of water, my eyes closed. I do not need to open them to know the Freeze is there.

"What is wrong?"

I have never kept a secret from Freeze. Now I think I can. But when his hands touch me, I know I am wrong. I squeeze my eyes tight until I see flashes of light strike out from the darkness like vipers.

"I would have gone with him."

My tears are drowned in the falling water. I feel I have betrayed him. I wait for him to strike me, to send me away, but there is nothing. His hands run over my body, draw me close.

"But you did not," he says and then repeats the words, "but you did not."

My arms close around him as we kiss. Freeze says that there is no need for him to read my mind for it is his own. Now he senses my need. He lets me have him. I cannot stop crying.

*

When I awake, my eyes are dry. Freeze watches me from across the room where he sits in a low chair. He sees my eyes open and begins to talk. "I cannot bear to see you cry."

I remember that the only time he has seen me cry was when I had almost died.

"You must understand, Lad. I call Trance my brother, but he is not. He is me, I am him. If you felt desire for Trance, it is because we are but one person. When you looked at Trance, you were looking at me. Could I blame you for wanting me?"

I know he is right, but it does not make me feel better.

I tell this to Freeze. He nods, sighing. "What am I going to do with you?"

I cannot tell properly how it made me feel when I looked down to see Freeze at my feet. It would not be enough to say he is my life or that I could not live without him. These are just words. Freeze and I are connected in a way I cannot express. When I say that he is everything and without him there is nothing, can you even begin to understand?

*

It is difficult to find Tryst. Freeze and his brothers are by no means normal men. They are capable of much more than you or I. If Tryst did not what to be found, chances are he would not be. But it is important to Freeze to find him before Trance does. I cannot pinpoint his relationship with Tryst, even now. Freeze does not speak of him often.

I ask him why Trance had come to him, why he had not killed Tryst himself.

"Trance loves Tryst. He cannot help but love him. If he wants Tryst dead now, it must be for an extraordinary reason. For one off us to kill another would be like suicide." His smile of acceptance is aimed at his own words. "Which is why even now I am glad you did not kill Trance."

I remember how it felt to beat Trance down and I, too, am glad.

To find Tryst, we must look for clues that others will not see. We go to Triktown. I do not like this place. It is too close to what I was before. There are many cadets here. I wonder if they will recognize me. Freeze takes me to a restaurant, leaves me, says he'll be back. I am not hungry, but I order bread and wine. As I eat, a man sits across from me and calls me by the name I no longer know.

"What do you want?"

He is not in uniform, but I know he is from the Academy. In the first few months after I met Freeze, I would have been nervous, but now I am calm.

"We need your help," says the man. He does not tell me his name.

I listen to him, say nothing. Across the street is a crystal fountain. When the crystals fall, there is a sound of bells.

"I will not come back."

"We do not want you to come back. We want you to stay with Freeze. We want you to tell us what he does."

This intrigues me. Why would the Superiors care about Freeze? I smile. If he were an important man, I would have hurt him. Intrigued, I echo my own thought.

"Why?"

"He is important to us. He ..."

The man does not go on. I watch him carefully so I will remember his face.

"Do you expect me to agree?"

"We expect you to think it over."

The man rises. In the next second he is gone.

*

The wine is sweet and clear as moonlight. I order a glass for Freeze when I know he is coming down the mall. I cannot see him yet. Freeze says it's magic the way I can sense when he's near. He comes to me, kisses me. It is only when he pulls away that I know he is not Freeze. Smoky green eyes watch me as the man who is not Freeze sits down.

"Do you know who I am?"

I nod. Tryst is not like Trance. He does not mock me.

"Why does Freeze hunt me?"

"Trance," I say. "Trance wants you dead."

Tryst seems shocked by this, leans closer to me so that no one might hear. His hand covers mine on the table. When I close my eyes, I can tell that he is not Freeze. Freeze's touch is possession. Trance's touch is desire. Tryst's touch is admiration.

"Tell me," he says.

I open my eyes and find I trust him. "Trance asked Freeze to kill you."

"And Freeze refused?"

This also shocks him. I begin to realize what it is I have done for Freeze. Tryst's gaze is like a fog. I feel enveloped.

"What is your name?" he asks.

"Lad."

He nods as if he's heard it before. "You are not safe," he says. "Trance will want you."

I tell him what had happened on Galaxy Strip. His smile says that he has been impressed by me.

"Will you want me, too?"

He enjoys the question. "I think I will," he says," but not like Trance or Freeze. I am ... different."

I remember that he is the oldest and I wonder what happened in that time before Trance was born. I cannot get over the depth of his eyes. I find myself sinking in them and realize he is seducing me. I flash him a brilliant smile and he falters. He does not expect me.

"I did not think Freeze would ever find you."

There is something I need to know and I feel it worth the risk to ask him. "Why am I so important to him?"

Tryst sighs, comes to sit next to me. Because he is kind, I let him.

"We were born ... unwhole. They are many things we can do that other men never could, but each of us has a piece of our souls missing. There is an emptiness ..."

The hand he puts on my thigh is Freeze's hand. Because he is sweet, I let it stay.

"Trance does not acknowledge this. He deems himself a whole man. It is this that has made him cruel. He cannot admit his need. I found what I need in my work. Trance and Freeze could never understand. I do not have compassion. I do not work for others. I work to fill the void in my soul."

"And Freeze?"

"Freeze thought he could find what he was looking for in a person. At first, he thought Trance would be enough. I tried to tell him, but he would not listen. He stayed with Trance far longer than he should have. His need gave Trance control over him."

He is very close to me now. He whispers the words into my ear. His lips are soft and warm. Because he is Freeze, I let him stay.

"But now Freeze has you. You can never know the depth of his love for you."

He is wrong, but I do not tell him this. Tryst's hand runs over my body. Because he has green eyes, I move away. He smiles sadly.

"You really love him, don't you."

I look at him a long time before I answer. "You have no idea."

*

Freeze is gone a long time. I begin to worry. Tryst has left me alone. I could not make him stay. The Freeze that emerges from the crowd has blue eyes. I cannot tell him of Tryst, but I tell him of the man.

"I do not know what it means," he says.

He has always been beyond the reach of the Superiors. He wonders that they should think they could touch him. I ask him what he has discovered about Tryst. He cannot explain how he knows, but he knows where we must go. I do not feel I have betrayed him by not telling him of Tryst. I know, when Tryst is ready, Freeze will find him.

It takes a long while for the shadow of Tryst's eyes to disappear from my mind.

*

At Archernar, Freeze leaves me in a museum while he searches for Tryst. I have never been in a museum except to rob it. It is oddly pleasurable to walk the halls like a normal man. The paintings are filled with colours I have only seen in my dreams. I study them at length. They fascinate me. I do not know that Trance is there until he is at my side. There is not a mark on him. I think he must be angry, but he is not.

"I have begun to understand what my brothers mean. I did not see the darkness in my soul until I saw you."

He moves closer, slips his arm around my waist. Because he is cold, I let him.

"You know only one of us will survive."

"Why?" His words chill me.

"We cannot live together, we cannot live apart. It is only a matter of time." He studies the painting that is my favourite. "If I survive, would you come to me?"

I cannot understand what I am feeling. He turns my head to face him, lays his lips on mine but does not kiss me. Because I am lost, I let him.

"Would you come to me?"

I flick my tongue out, wet his lips. "Yes."

It is hard to remember he is not Freeze, but when I close my eyes I feel the difference in his touch. He presses himself against me. Because his touch is desire, I move away. He smiles sadly.

"You really love him, don't you."

I look at him a long time before I answer. "I love you all, but I love Freeze first."

He is surprised at my answer. So am I.

*

When Freeze comes for me, I have not moved. He has not learned good things. The Superiors had been here. He does not see how they could have known. We leave Archernar. There is nothing more for us there.

When we are home, Freeze hugs me tightly to him. Because he is Freeze, I let him. "There is not much time," he says. "I always thought there'd be more time."

I smile. "While we are here, we have forever."

Freeze beckons me closer. Because his eyes are blue, I come.

"Forever is only in your eyes," he says. "But perhaps that is enough."

He strips off my clothes and drops them to the floor. Because his touch is possession, I let him.

I cannot remember the green eyes for the feel of his hands, I cannot remember the touch of desire for the burning in his eyes.

*

When I awake, Freeze is gone. This is not the first time I have awakened alone, but now I am frightened. I realize that I cannot lose him. I do not think of Tryst or Trance. There is no time.

I go back to Triktown. There is nothing I can think of but to find Freeze. I remember Trance's words, but I refuse to believe them. There must be a way. Somehow there must be a way.

In the restaurant I see the man and sit across from him.

"Where is Freeze?" he asks.

"I do not know." Because he does not know I tell the truth, he thinks I am lying.

His smile is cold, his teeth are sharp. "It does not matter. We know where he is."

I do not understand. I put my hand over his on the table. "How?"

His eyes are full of confusion. He did not expect me to trap him. I stare at him from behind eyes I do not own and he crumbles.

"It was a mistake," he says. "It was too early for them to be born. They were not ready."

"Go on." He is afraid of me now. My hand is like ice on his and heavy as iron.

"They were meant to be ours. They were meant to work for us. They were born before they were completed. They are unwhole."

I feel an ache deep inside as I comprehend what he is saying. My anger coalesces until it comes out with my breath. "Did you really think they would be yours?"

"If they had been completed, they would not have had a choice."

There is pain in his shallow eyes. I realize I have broken several of the bones in his hand. He tries to pull away, but I am too strong for him.

"One of the Superiors thought this was wrong. He took them away from us, hid them. He did not want slaves. We captured him, but he would not tell us where. By the time we found the lab, it was too late. They had been born alone."

"What will happen to them?"

"Unless they are whole, they will die."

When I leave the man, his eyes are closed, his features relaxed. I know it will be a while before anyone realizes he is dead. I could not help but kill him. He knew my name.

*

I have not set foot on Earth since the day I met Freeze. Memories swirl out of the blue sky, but they are not mine. The boy who could lay claim to them is dead. I cast my eyes from the sky and move on. I know now where I must go. I can feel Freeze under my skin. It is his love for me that guides my steps.

The lab is quiet and dark. It is hidden under a tall mountain, but I find it. The entrance is mammoth. I feel I am being swallowed alive.

The only light is the glow of machines. I walk through the halls, enter the rooms. In one I find three tanks where Freeze and his brothers must have grown. In another I find a silver heart. It is broken.

I expect nothing. I know Freeze is near, but I cannot see him. I am wearing white. It glows in the darkness. He must know, even from a great distance, that it is I. [1]

I enter a giant cavern. In the dim light, I cannot see the ceiling or the far walls. In the middle of a circle of stones I see three figures. Only one is standing. My heart is beating so loudly that I know he can hear it. He turns to me. I do not know who he is. I cannot see the colour of his eyes.

I am empty inside. I cannot bring myself to feel joy or pain. Time has stopped. The figure raises his arms to me. Even thought I do not think myself able, I move towards him. Freeze says I move like a ghost in the night. I did not believe him until now. I cannot hear the sound of my steps on the floor.

His eyes are as green as the deep sea, his touch is of desire. But I know without a doubt that it is Freeze who stands before me. My laughter shatters the silence. He smiles. It is by the burning in his eyes that I know he loves me.

"Lad," he says.

He takes his hand from my cheek and stretches it out to me.

"Coming?"

*

[1] from the movie 'Cleopatra'

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