Luca was absorbed in his work. He never heard the loud moaning of his fellow students nor saw Tristano's attentive looks that he followed Luca's work with.
Luca was busy laying the matching semi-precious stones, cut into thin plates, into the black stone-plate. He had conceived a simple flower-pattern he didn't have to cut too much. Luca smoothed the light-green malachite with sandpaper and tried anew. The leaves he made from jade and golden-black pyrite for the shadows.
With awe Tristano followed Luca's hands, securely and purposefully choosing the right, pre-cut stones to sort them out: yellow heliodor for the petals and tiger's eye for folded down petals, corals for the bells and amber for the anthers, light blue achat and translucent opal for a lily.
All students used inferior stones with inclusions and cracks, waste materials for the training, but Luca was able to do something beautiful with them. He worked until everyone except Tristano had left; Luca had missed Coppo standing silently behind him and his prompting to call it a day.
Coppo smiled at Tristano and sat beside him, opposite Luca. "If you could, you would work through the night, Luca, right?" he asked quietly. Luca lifted his head startled and tried to focus his eyes on his teacher. He blinked several times like an owl. "Scusi?"
Coppo reached over and took hold of Luca's hand. He wrenched the pliers from his fingers and put the bowls of stones aside. "Every good artist need a rest", he said. "Have you decided what to do with the rest of the lapis lazuli?"
Luca shrugged: "I haven't decided. Perhaps a lion's head? Or a bunch of owls."
Luca looked at Tristano, seeking his help. "What's there to talk about?" he said sullenly, shoving the bowls back and forth. "We've never talked about last October."
Luca nodded. "I know", he said with a low voice. "But I'm still afraid. The silence frightens me more than their shouting at me."
Tristano looked nervously at his watch. It was about time he left if he wanted to see Vito before he went to work. Luca noticed. "Give Vito my love, will you", he mumbled.
After Tristano had gone, Luca continued "Once I overheard a talk between them. They had to work at an AIDS-hospital. They saw many things; guys that were dying, guys never getting any visits from friends or parents because they were despised and hated for being gay. I'm not sure whether it influenced my brothers behaviour. Perhaps they just think this is what a faggot deserves."
Coppo took Luca's chin and searched his face. "How' s Alessandro doing? You never talk about him. People think you've broken up, despite what he did for you."
Luca jerked his chin back and stared down on his intarsia work. "Alessandro isn't the same anymore", he whispered. "I do understand him though. But... he's so strange and far away."
Coppo gave a low, heartfelt sigh. "This was to be expected, Luca. One year of being locked up, being separated from life and friends and his love. He would be an unfeeling monster if it didn't affect him."
Coppo lifted his brows in surprise. "I doubt that. If they were discovered, Mario would lose his job. And of course Sandro isn't allowed to write about internal matters. What kind of things are going on between Sandro and the prisoners?"
Luca shook his head. "I don't know. I just .. feel it. Bad aura. Some of the guys treat him nastily and Sandro doesn't stop them."
Coppo sighed again. "I'm so sorry about this, Luca. Can you speak with this Mario? Next time when you visit him?
Luca shrugged. Coppo patted his hand for comfort and felt helpless.
Vito was having a quick lunch when Tristano hurried through the door to Vito's flat to find him in the kitchen, eating while standing. He always seemed to be in a hurry. "I thought I'd missed you", Tris said breathless.
Vittorio's feelings concerning Alessandro Gondi were biased. The carabiniero within him told him that Alessandro had gone over the top, first in not informing the police but starting a private retaliation campaign, second in being engaged in the fatal fight that got out of control. He had thought Alessandro was more intelligent than that. The human in Vito told him that Alessandro was an angry young man, wild and unpredictable and that he did it for Luca Montori - perhaps the biggest favour of love a man could give to another man. Personally Vito doubted that either of the boys ever realized what this meant - and what consequences it had for their future life. "He will be pleased", he said aloud. "Go and cheer him up." He leaned in and kissed Tristano. "I'm happy with you", he murmured.
And thirdly: The rapist of Tris and Alfredo was dead, he thought, while he smiled
at his lover. A small part of Vittorio del Chiaro was relieved.
Cinzano, the white Maltese, tugged at Alessandro's trouser leg, but he didn't notice it. Probably Cinzano took this as a game and then gnawed at Mario's belt that lay on the carpet together with Mario's trousers, wrapped around his spread legs. He was bent over the back of his armchair and tried to find a rhythm with Alessandro who stood behind him, fucking him mercilessly.
Mario moaned and gritted his teeth but that was the way he liked it. No commitment, no touching. Just plain and simple sex. Deliberately, Alessandro was sliding in and out, finally increasing speed, he emptied himself. He stood rigid for a moment, enjoying the bodily relief and the brief space of blankness filling his mind. Then he held the condom's rim and pulled out.
Mario, his teeth still clenched, turned to him and rubbed his still stiff penis on Alessandro's abdomen. "Suck me", he said, locking eyes, until Alessandro went down on his knees. It was all he could do. And Mario's cock was better than nothing. On purpose he blanked-out Luca. Everything that reminded him of his lover at home was banished from his mind. If Alessandro wanted to survive the years he had to find release. He absorbed himself into the mechanical task of licking and rubbing the parts he wasn't licking, finally sucking vigorously at the crown until Mario gave a loud moan and flowed into Alessandro's mouth. A brief urge to gag was suppressed, then he was lifted to his feet and received a kiss and a probing tongue as reward.
Mario could be tender if he wanted to be , but most of the time he didn't want to. He wanted Alessandro's meat but he didn't bother with his body. As always Alessandro was fully dressed and had just opened his fly, so he was more than surprised when he felt Mario's hands drawing the trousers from Alessandro's hips, along with the old fashioned boxer shorts and caressed his testicles. "What would you say to staying overnight?"
Mario looked hurt. Then reason won upper hand. Of course Sandro was right. It was embarrassing that a prisoner had to remind him who was the good and who was the bad guy. Nonetheless he would had enjoyed the young man at his side for tonight. And of course his useful tool that was too good to be hidden behind those pale, old boxers. He bet that in real life the noble Alessandro di Gondi-Lucertola wore silky underwear or some other sexy stuff. Perhaps... if he when he left the prison, they could continue. At the same time Mario scolded himself as a sentimental fool. Although Sandro never talked about his boyfriend, Mario sensed that he was devoted and committed - despite what they did here in Mario's house.
Cinzano accompanied him out. He left the door open for the dog to return and crossed the lawn on a path that would lead him to the yellow washed house of the youth's detention centre. Although late October, there wasn't the slightest whiff of Autumn in the air, but it was mild and balmy. Alessandro was hanging onto the warm, satisfactory feeling in his guts, when something cracked behind him and he felt a hard push in his back. He turned surprised and thought he could make out movement behind some bushes. He bent down and found the stone that had hit his back. His brows pulled together and all of a sudden the feeling of hate and anger was there again. "Come out, cowards", he shouted. Then everything went too fast for him. He felt himself overpowered by two figures, a flabby one, lithe and wiry the other, pressing him down to the ground until he was nearly eating grass.
An unbelievable anger rose within Alessandro. He didn't register Cinzano's excited barking and didn't notice the door to Mario's house open widely. He just wanted to fight. He groped for the body suffocating him and literally threw it from his own and there was just a tiny gap of humanity remaining that rescued him from jumping upon his foe, lying on the ground while the other was watching him, astonished.
Alessandro groped at his backside to find his jeans ripped open, revealing his naked arse. "What for Christ sake was that?" Mario said bewildered. "Were you attacked?"
Alessandro shook his head and strutted on, leaving Mario standing.
Cinzano still barked.
Alessandro, furious, sized him up: Leo with a scar that ran from the corner of his eye to the left corner of his mouth. A broken face, cut into two halves, like his grin. Everybody was calling him Zorro. Alessandro raised his fist, hit Leo's face and left him sitting dumbfounded with nothing to say, blood seeping from the corner of his mouth, until a fight started that alerted the guard.
Twenty minutes later the door was unlocked again and Mario entered his cell. "What happened?" he asked, standing in front of the sitting Alessandro who held the blue lizard tightly in his palm. Then he jumped up. "What happened? You know what happened at your house. Zorro provoked me. I'm the shit-stabber to everyone. I'm sure you didn't miss that fact." He snorted vehemently through his nose. "I thought being gay wouldn't be a big problem here, after all we aren't in a jail for adults. But of course we're gathered here because we aren't adult, are we, Mario? We behave like babies and immature kiddies and therefore we are watched over, no matter how much we torment each other."
Mario took Alessandro's upper arms "Be quiet, damn it", he hissed. "You didn't understand anything I told you at all, did you. I can't help you here without causing suspicion. Your next visitor is cancelled. Sorry." Mario let go of him and stepped back.
Alessandro glared at him. "That suits you all right, Mario, doesn't it."
It was the 3rd of December, Alessandro's twentieth birthday. Luca had been sad that he wasn't allowed to visit him, then he was pissed at him. Luca never learnt the reasons but assumed that Alessandro had been carried away by his bad temper. Once again. Luca could hardly understand how life was in a youth custody unit, but he supposed that Sandro was having problems because he was gay and some guys didn't accept it. Although Sandro had made certain he knew he was the team captain of their handball team and that he had some buddies he called friends. Well, what you call friends in jail. Why had he been so careless as to pin Luca's portrait to his wall. Alessandro believed everybody had to dance to his whistle, the world was turning around him and he was invulnerable- and invincible. Obviously he went through the painful process of learning this wasn't the truth at all.
Luca was drinking his third Cinzano-Mix. He had paid alone for himself the entrance fee to Villa Kazar and had sat now for two hours in a corner and watched the jumble surrounding him. Mostly girls were snogging with boys - like Rosso with Caro for instance - or boys with boys and nobody cared. Why couldn't it be always so and everywhere? Why had anyone to bother with whom Luca shared the bed?
In front of his nose another glass of Cinzano landed upon the table. Luca looked up into a pair of black eyes - at least in this flickering blue-green-red light they were the blackest eyes he had ever seen. "You dance with me?"
Luca jerked at the blunt question since how could the other one know if Luca was gay or not. A cheeky grin spread over the face and Luca wondered whether his homosexuality was marked on his forehead or whether he was behaving too camp. While Luca was staring indignantly into his face, the smile died. "Sorry... I thought..." he was about to leave, but then Luca got a grip on himself and held him. "No, I was just surprised. What made you think that I'm gay."
Luca was drunk enough to nod and knead the arse cheeks through
the fabric of Raffaele's jeans. He felt his own member rising and being
rubbed and pressed against another stiff one.
Luca turned to him. "Does that mean you doesn't want to sleep with me anymore?"
Raffaele looked him up and down, then he grinned. He took Luca's arm and dragged him through the wooden entrance gate Luca had unlocked. "I've never been in an old palazzo", he said, 'Well, I've been to the museo of Palazzo Davanzati, but that's only stuff made for the tourists. Do you live here alone now?"
Luca dragged him upstairs since the lift was out of order again, and opened the door to Alessandro's room. His mind was in a state of drunken dizziness and right now he didn't care what Alessandro did or did not do. What he would think or think not. Perhaps he was with his warden - Mario - and.. and... Raffaele stood behind him and started to kiss Luca's neck, while roaming his hands over his body. "I do want to fuck you. I never understood what you were doing with Gondi when he can't decide if he's gay or not. I, on the other hand, are keen on boys only. What about you?"
Raffaele's hot breath tickled Luca's ear. "Only boys", he whispered coarsely and gave in. He followed in awe the speed Raffaele shed his clothes and let himself fall naked upon the bed Luca had made before he went out to celebrate Alessandro's birthday alone. He followed the luring eyes and the gleaming of Raffaele's naked, hairless skin. His natural tanned darkness gave a nice contrast to the pastel stripes of the bed clothes. Seductively Raffaele opened his legs and almost innocently touched his upright standing dick and his dark testicles. One finger traced the trail leading to his even darker hole.
Luca's body was inflamed. He literally ripped off his clothes and
jumped to Raffaele's feet. One year of self-restraint exploded into a
pretty harsh devouring of the offered cock and a grunting licking
and tongue-penetrating of the offered entrance. Raffaele lay spread
eagled and saw stars. He had never been so feverishly sucked; Luca
came over him like a thunderstorm, leaving a wet creek on his chest,
a puddle in his navel and a sea of saliva around his butt hole. Raffaele
was ready to being fucked, he spread his legs wide open and pulled
Luca onto his body where their lips found and met, exchanging
musky taste and seductive moistness.
Alessandro shoved his member deep between Mario's risen legs. His calves rested upon Alessandro's shoulders, making his tunnel tight as soon Alessandro entered him. A minute of restless fucking, noiseless and silent. Just the sounds of softly slapping flesh, a low rustling of pubic hair and the wet slurping of a well lubricated condom being pressed into a tight canal. This was Alessandro's birthday gift. A stolen hour in the late evening, shortly before sleeping time. Alessandro could still hold in check the gang around Zorro and Elmo, Pietro and Ivano, but he wasn't sure for how long. And he didn't know what excuses Mario conceived, to be alone with Alessandro. He didn't want to know anyway, after all it was Mario's job at stake. If it would become a pitched battle, Alessandro could always claim to having been seduced by the older one, coming down to fornicate with his charges and that would Mario cost his job. Well... if Mario was so horny for Alessandro that he didn't care at all.. so be it.
He rose, kneeled between Mario's legs, groped his calves and bucked fervently in and out - just the way Mario liked it, raw and raunchy. Ruthlessly Alessandro could let himself go and directly find his satisfaction. From a distance he listened to himself - his flat, laboured breathing, proceeding into panting the more he was closer to climax. Mario arched his back and tugged at his cock as if he wanted to rip it off. A puddle of sweat had gathered in the little trough in the middle of his collarbones. He moaned and squirted while Alessandro slammed into him, closing his eyes and thinking about Luca. He was almost losing his erection, now so close to the climax. It was painful to miss the closeness he shared with his boyfriend.
While he emptied himself into the condom he realized - that though the movements
were always the same - it wasn't the same at all. Rigid for a moment,
he pulled out mercilessly and didn't pay any care for Mario at all. He
shook him off like a weary mosquito when Mario slid closer and wanted
to snuggle. "I need to go back", Alessandro mumbled.
He sauntered through the common room and sat at a table in the corner to pick up his books. They lay untouched as he had left them. Sighing he opened them and turned the pages that described the difference between Duccio di Buoninsegna, Cimabue and Giotto, their large Madonna-paintings and their conception from a plain view to an almost three-dimensional sight.
Something wanted to be free inside of him. The thought of Luca for
instance. He felt that Luca was thinking of him - today on Alessandro's
twentieth birthday. He still had so many months without him ahead.
Alessandro accompanied him finally, guided him and made him think it was his boyfriend he was slipping into, making Raffaele moan and buck and squirt in the end as he was himself finding release. He didn't resist when the young man at his side wanted to flip positions as long as he used the rubbers. And it wasn't that bad to wake up with a strange guy at his side. It wasn't bad though unfamiliar despite the fact that Raffaele looked as good in the morning as he had looked in the night.
With a jolt he realized the time and that he had overslept. He should have been at the Opificio an hour ago. Harshly he shook Raffaele's shoulder and caused a sleep-drunken smile on his face. "Raffaele! We have to go up. I need to go to work."
When he returned in the early evening, Raffaele was still there - or he he had returned. Luca found him, sitting in an armchair, leafing through Alessandro's books. He was wearing one of Luca's pullovers since it was cold in the room. "Why haven't you started the fire", Luca asked, put down his rucksack and the box with the pieces of a pizza.
Raffaele looked up. "I don't know how to."
Luca pulled out the wrapped tools he had been given by his father for his 17th birthday. Niccolò had recently agreed that Luca should use them, now that he had a sort of knowledge of what he was doing with them. Coppo had looked at them with awe but still found them useful and nice to handle. Raffaele looked over his shoulder. "What's this? Are you craftsman?"
Luca laughed. "Far from it. Apprentice." He wrapped the neatly sorted tools into the bundle of cloth and then opened the cardboard box with the pizza. "What are you doing here? Haven't you got a home?"
Luca finished his pizza first and then he stoked up the embers, putting some crumpled paper upon it until they caught fire. He added pieces of coal and soon warmth was spreading into the room. Yeah, he thought, what about Alessandro? He threw a suspicious look at Raffaele, lounging in the armchair. Was he sneaking around and had found Sandro's letters? Or the drawings? Had he put on the leather suit?
Luca rose. "He's in prison as you certainly know ", he said coolly.
Yes, what for... Alessandro had been thinking the same thoughts. But living off his family's money wasn't exactly satisfying.
Luca briefly closed his eyes. Then he succumbed to the tender touch.
Raffaele nudged him and wiped strands of blond hair from Luca's eyes. "Tell me more", he demanded.
Luca opened his eyes again. Raffaele's hair tickled his nose. "I didn't want to. It was nasty. Then I was able to send Sandro a SMS and he came to my rescue."
Luca stirred, but Raffaele had meant the question seriously. "Not on a white horse. But with our friends. They fought. Sandro hit one of them with a stone. It was sort of self-defence."
He sensed that Raffaele didn't agree. "He came to your rescue", he insisted.
Luca sat on the edge of the bed for a while, watching him. The slowly dying fire painted peace upon his face. The lips, swollen from too many kisses, were slightly parted. Blurred, white stands of semen were on his flat belly. Luca felt pain. Instead of crawling under the bed sheets he put on his jeans and sat at the desk under the windows and started to write a letter.