Keith had many bad habits, and Lance was probably his worse. At the very least it was the most permanent of his bad habits, a constant source of dark pleasure, though their relationship seemed as if it would always be stuck on the friendship level. His other bad habits, the drugs and the booze and the sex and the pain, had all been discarded--at least in some degree--over the years, but Lance and all the sensual, erotic, dark, dirty, wonderful feelings he conjured in Keith were still there. Would always be there. He knew he would always feel the temptation, the lure of his friend's easy sexuality; that he fed on the empty pain in his stomach that came when he watched Lance, the pain of wanting and not having, the guilt and self-recrimination that stemmed from missing his chance when it had been offered. And he felt bad about using his best friend like that, using him to feed the self-hate and the self inflicted pain from which he took such a delight--it was almost better than the highs the drugs used to bring, and certainly more dangerous than anything he had done before. Perhaps that was why he had never been strong enough to move on to something else, something more dangerous and self-destructive. Or if he couldn't move on, than at the very least perusing Lance fully, catching him and having him and settling into what was sure to be a wonderfully euphoric state of sexual bliss. But Keith enjoyed the razor thin dance between wanting and having and the depths of dark pain that the not-having plunged him down to.
He left Lance's room sometime before dawn, but only just. The sky was beginning to take on the steely predawn appearance, not light enough to be called day just yet, but just light enough that Keith could see the steep, old stairs that led to the battlements. He leaned against the cold, rough stones and stared out across the still sleeping Arusian landscape. The somewhat sane part of his soul, the part that shied away from the painful, torturing, self-destructive acts that the rest of Keith committed, urged him not for the first time to jump and end the steep descent of his soul. But the lure of exquisite pain was stronger than whatever hope for redemption he might have by ending his twistedexistence now. He smiled grimly at the thought. His father was right; he was weak, worthless. Unworthy of more than thesemblance of humanity.
He pulled out a cigarette from the pack he kept hidden in the breast pocket of his uniform--right over the heart, how appropriate--lit it up, sucking contentedly on the thin, white stick. He held the bitter, hot smoke in his lungs for as long as he could, and then longer still, enjoying the burn. God, but he was a masochist.
He took another long, slow drag and held the burning roll out before him, contemplating his newest tool of self-destruction. How long would it be before Lance found out and talked him into stopping. A week? A day? Maybe, if he was lucky, he could hide this newbad habit for another year, long enough for the cancer to start and a whole new arena of pain was opened up to him. Doubtful, but a nice thought anyway. Lance always managed to find out in time, talk him out of the latest bad habit before it killed him. The smoke crept out from the corners of his mouth as he smiled. What he really needed was someone to talk him out of Lance.
"Goddamn it, Lance, why'd you have to be so addictive?" Keith leaned his head back, gazing up into the slowly paling sky, seeing nothing but the soft curve of warm skin and chestnut hair, feathery lashes sparkling with tears and hot, pink mouth open and seeming both erotic and innocent. "Why'd you have to be the one habit I can't seem to kick?"