Title: Kokopelli's Flute
Author: Hellborne (email@example.com)
Summary: In 21st century Las Vegas, Will needs help. Jack is just the one to help him.
Copyright: Characters, not mine, See the Mouse. Story, mine, but I make no money. He does, but not on this.
Typing convention. / is used for thoughts.
Beta: The greatest, most humble, modest, and oh so magnificent BetaGoddess, Pendragginink! I can't say enough wonderful things about you!!!
A/N: Remember, your reviews are the ONLY payment that I receive for this. Your comments and critiques are the only way I can improve. So please review so that I can actually figure out how I'm doing!
Chapter 2 Discovery
"But I don't want to perform full-time!." Jacque's music-like voice wafted into the kitchen, ending in a banshee screech. "You'll pay HOW MUCH???!!!"
Billy laughed. After seven months of living with Jacob, he wasn't sure if he had one roommate with a split personality or two roommates in a single body. /And what a body it is!/ Nowadays he left Jacque alone, as the one time he took Jacque up on the "All-Nighter with Cher," Jacob had gotten jealous, and Billy had to "prove his love" to Jacob for a week. /Of course, it could all have been an act...I think Jacob just likes the attention./ He poured the thickened sauce into the stir fry he'd just finished and started stirring it in.
"Who said that?" Jacob stuck his head through the door, Jacque's voice exclaiming, "Smells delicious, darling. Keep it warm for me; I'm going to be a little while here." His head disappeared.
Billy smiled to himself and scooped half of the mixture onto his own plate of rice; the rest into a bowl, which he put on the stove next to the pot of rice, the sign downstairs said "closed for lunch from 12:00pm to 2:00pm, but "Jacque Business" as Billy had come to call it took up more than half of it. He ate his lunch quietly and walked into the living room where he found Jacob lying on the couch, the cell phone still in his hand, his arm covering his eyes. "Are you all right?"
Jacob looked at him, a shocked look on his face. "Caesar's is offering Jacque $24,000 a week! Do you realize how many more kids we could teach at the school with that? And they said if she sells out for a straight month, they'd double it!"
"Now, what are the odds of selling out every night for a straight month?
"Actually, quite good. They said they'd be advertising it with free tickets to give her a good boost."
"Well, it sounds great, but what about the shop?"
"I don't know. I'll keep it open and keep making what I already make, but I'll have to cut back to one night for the evening classes."
"So you took it?"
"Not yet. I told them I had to think about it. But they asked me if it was true that I was a baritone, so to speak. She told me that her new HR manager told her my real name. I need to get down there and talk to her. I sure as hell don't want `Jacob Littlebird' on the marquee!"
"Want a lift?"
"Nah. Just take care of the store till I get back. And if anyone wants something that's not on the shelf, get their number and I'll take care of it when I get back." Jacob bounced off the couch and into the bedroom. When he came out, he was dressed in a very proper business suit, his hair tied back in a tight herringbone braid. "I'll be home by dinner." He kissed Billy deeply. "I love you, my darling. And if I ever make you think I don't, just tackle me and fuck my brains out, ok?"
Billy smiled. "Jacob, how could I forget you love me? When you fuck MY brains out every night?"
Jacob grinned. "Well, one can hope, right?" He winked, kissed Billy again, and walked down the stairs to catch the bus.
When ten o'clock at night came around and Jacob still hadn't come home, Billy was beside himself with worry.
* - * - *
At first, there was pain. He recognized that. Pain enough that he had trouble concentrating on where it hurt. Then he realized that he hurt all over, and groaned.
"Hey! The little squaw faggot is waking up! Whaddaya wanna do with him?"
Another voice answered from far away. "I don't care...if you want you can fuck him again. We don't want to kill him outright."
"Why not? He's just a faggot."
"Yeah, but that Armani suit he was wearing says he's a RICH faggot. So don't kill him!"
Jacob tried to move and screamed, his mind white in agony. When he was able to think again, he tried to open his eyes. One of them wouldn't open, but the other seemed all right. He found himself on the floor in the corner of a room with no furniture in it. His hands were bound tightly behind him, and his ankles were tied as well. He felt as if he were one, giant bruise. He saw a man wearing nothing but a hood bending over him. Then he realized that he was naked. "Please don't...I'll pay you."
The man flipped him face down very roughly. "Shut up, faggot!" He held Jacob's ass cheeks open and slammed his cock home with a grunt.
Jacob shrieked. "NO! PLEASE STOP!" The pain was tremendous. His tormentor said nothing as he raped his bound captive. Jacob was on the verge of passing out when the man above him drove himself to the hilt and came.
Another man entered the room as the rapist crawled off Jacob. This man rolled Jacob onto his side, sending new waves of pain through him, making him scream again. "If you want to live through this, tell me where to call for the ransom."
"Nine-one-one. Look, I don't have much money. That suit is close to everything I own! You're welcome to keep it."
The man kicked him hard in the belly. "Liar. That suit was tailored to YOU. Now give me a phone number..." He flipped open a switchblade..."or I start carving."
Jacob was trying to get his breath back. /Two broken ribs...I can feel it./ He gave the man a phone number.
* - * - *
I want proof that he's all right." Billy wanted very much to panic, but he was damned well going to get Jacob home safely first. There was a pause over the phone. "Well? Where's the proof?!"
"Where are you?"
"I don't know. Look, I need for you to get all the money out of the bedroom safe, put it in an orange trash bag, and bring it to the motel we met at. Toss it in the dumpster and leave, ok? Just remember to push the button next to the safe before you open it. I don't want any cops involved."
"Ok. How do you know they'll let you go after I've paid the money?"
"They're wearing hoods so that I can't see their faces. They wouldn't bother with that if they were going to kill me. Don't worry about me. Just get the money together and don't call the cops."
"Don't worry. I'm on it right now." The other end of the phone went dead. Billy ran to the bedroom and got on his hands and knees at the foot of the waterbed. He first pushed the button on the GPS tracker for Jacque's cell phone, and wrote down the coordinates. Then he followed the rest of the instructions.
* - * - *
"Please don't beat me anymore! My roommate is taking the money there just like you wanted!"
The man stopped hitting Jacob and pulled him up to a sitting position. He poured a glass of water and held it up to Jacob's face, brandishing a pill.
"This'll make it so that I don't have to beat you unconscious. Hopefully it won't kill you. Now take it before I break your jaw!" He shoved his fingers into Jacob's mouth and lifted his tongue, putting the pill beneath it and holding his mouth closed until Jacob went limp.
* - * - *
Billy paced by the phone all night, waiting for another call. He'd swear there were tracks worn into the rugs. Finally, at a little after five in the morning, the phone rang.
"Yeah. Come and get me."
"Where are you?"
"Umm...U.M.C. Trauma Unit."
"Are you ok?"
"No, but I want to come home. Did you get the GPS coordinates to the phone?"
"Yeah. I'll bring it. I'll be there in a minute."
"Ok. Just hurry. I'm leaving within the hour whether I can walk or not." Jacob hung up the phone.
Billy ran down the stairs, keys in hand.
* - * - *
When he arrived, Attila the Nurse tried to keep Billy out of the room Jacob was in. Jacob appeared at the door in a hospital gown, bandages covering much of his face including his right eye, his right arm and lower right leg in casts. "Billy comes in or I'm leaving!" He started to collapse, but Billy grabbed him and carried him gently to the bed. "Thanks, Billy. I guess I'm still woozy from the drug they gave me."
"That was ecstasy, and you're lucky to be alive, Mr. Littlebird." Attila (Billy noticed her nametag said "Judy") hooked up some wires that had been hanging from the front of Jacob's gown back into the machine from which he'd pulled them.
Jacob looked at Billy. "See what I've had to put up with?"
Judy smiled. "Actually, all the work was done before you regained consciousness. At least after you woke up we could call you something other than John Doe number eight. Oh. That reminds me. Now that you're out of danger, an officer Green wants to talk to you. He's the one who responded to the call."
Jacob nodded. "Yeah, ok." Nurse Judy left.
Billy looked at the tube leading from Jacob's hand to a bag of blood. "You look like hell."
"I love you too. Actually, it's not as bad as it looks."
Officer Green knocked and walked in. "Mr. Littlebird, I know this will be hard for you, but I need to ask you a few questions."
Jacob sat up and Billy propped the pillows behind him. "Go ahead. I'll try to answer, but I don't know all that much."
Billy interrupted. "I know where Jacob was being held. He has a GPS tracker on his phone." He gave the coordinates and officer Green wrote them down and called them in immediately.
"To the best of your ability, please tell me what led up to the abduction."
"I was walking from the Talent Manager's office at Caesar's to the bus stop on Las Vegas Boulevard when I felt a sudden pain to the back of my head and everything went black."
"What were you doing at Caesar's?"
"Auditioning for a new show. I'm a performer."
Officer Green wrote everything in a little notebook. "Oh. And when did you wake up?"
"I don't know, but it was only a few minutes after that when they called my roommate for the ransom."
Billy interjected. "It was 10:42pm."
"How much was the ransom?"
"Twenty thousand dollars. That's how much I keep in that particular safe."
"That's a lot of money to keep around the house. Why don't you keep it in a bank like everyone else?"
"I don't trust banks."
"Oh." He turned to Billy. "And why didn't you call the police?"
"Because I wanted Jacob to get out of it alive. The way he sounded, if the cops had shown up, the people who had him would have killed him."
The questioning droned on till Jacob fell asleep.
* - * - *
"Mr. Littlebird? They caught your attackers. They also found a lot of fingerprints, blood and semen at the location you sent us to. If the semen matches the DNA in the rape kit, it'll be an open and shut case. Oh, if you could come down to the station at three o'clock, we'll have a lineup for you if you think you can identify them."
Billy started to say something, but Jacob raised his hand, stopping him. "Officer Green, I never saw their faces, I can identify them in other ways."
Jacob blushed. "The one that...raped me...he was pierced...his..."
"A pierced penis?"
"Yes. And he had blush tattooing on his nipples. The other guy had on a long sleeved shirt, but I could see the edges of a major tattoo...probably full-torso. Very colorful and very distinctive. I only saw about an inch of it on each wrist, but I'd even recognize it at a tattoo convention. That's how unique it was."
Officer Green nodded and left.
* - * - *
It was after 11:00pm when Billy carried Jacob up the stairs to the apartment and laid him down on the couch. Jacob stood up and slowly crutched his way into the bathroom. He looked at his bandaged and discolored face in the mirror. "It's over."
Billy walked in and hugged him from behind, making Jacob stiffen. "I'm sorry. I know you're in pain. It's not over though. The doctor said the bruising will be gone completely in a few days. Now stop looking at what is temporary and get some real sleep.
"But the new gig starts rehearsals in three weeks, and Superstars is going to have a cat fit if I don't finish out the next two weeks. And I sure as hell can't go on like this! I can barely walk, let alone dance, and I just hope that my face heals properly. I mean, not that I give a rat's ass about my looks personally, but nobody wants to go see Quasimodo when they expect Jacqueline Loon."
Billy picked him up and carried him into the bedroom, laying him down and taking his crutches away. "You are NOT going to dwell on your injuries this way! If I have to break every mirror in this building I will! Now, would you like something before we go to sleep?"
"No thank you, mommy."
"I love you too." Billy reached down to help Jacob out of the scrubs that the hospital had given him, but Jacob flinched away. "I'll just sleep in these, ok? They're comfortable enough..."
"Jacob, you have enough problems sleeping in a tee shirt."
"I know. I'm just a bit embarrassed. I mean, you haven't seen everything they did to me. I mean...hell...let's just say I don't like to share bruises."
"Or stitches. I spoke to your doctor. Don't worry. Cuddling only till you feel better, ok?"
"But Billy...what if I don't EVER `feel better' about that? I mean...the Doctor gave me the address of the local rape clinic, but...the counselors are women. I don't think I'll feel very comfortable talking to ANYONE about this...let alone a woman."
"We'll find you whatever you need, Jacob, and I'll be backing you all the way, whatever your decision. I mean, loving each other doesn't mean we HAVE to have sex."
They fell asleep on opposite sides of the bed per Jacob's request.
* - * - *
When Billy woke up in the morning, Jacob was not in the bed. The crutches weren't where he'd put them. He crawled out of bed and walked into the living room in his tee shirt and underwear. Jacob was sitting on the couch with his feet up, looking at himself in a hand mirror. He'd managed to remove the bandages from his head, and was moving the mirror around, apparently trying to see the back of his head.
Billy went into the bathroom and returned with a second mirror. He held it in back of Jacob's head so that he could see what he was looking for. Jacob's face looked like he'd gone ten rounds with George Foreman with his hands tied behind him. One eye was completely swollen shut, and most of his face looked like a single bruise. Although it didn't show at the moment, there were two teeth that had been knocked out. There was a three inch by one inch area on the back of his head that had been shaved and stitched in the trauma ward, and that was what Jacob was staring at. "How am I going to go on like this?"
Billy really wanted to metaphorically beat some sense into him. "You're NOT. You're going to call Superstars and tell them what happened. They'll have to deal with it. Then call Caesar's and tell them. Since rehearsals aren't for three weeks, there will be time for your sprains to heal...if you stay off of them! You'll go to the dentist later today and get those two teeth taken care of, and we'll call a conferrer to make you a wig to use till your hair grows out. Think of it this way. Now you'll have even MORE in common with Cher."
"I like my hair. I hate wigs. And I hate this lisp! I sound like a faggot!"
"Jacob, I can't hear any lisp, and it'll go away when you get your teeth replaced and your mouth heals. Besides..." Billy leaned in, grinning. "You ARE a faggot, remember? But you're MY faggot, and don't you ever forget it."
Jacob took Billy's hand in his and kissed it. "I love you, Billy. And I know you'll help me get through this. At the moment, you're all that's between me and losing it completely, and I want you to know just how wonderful you are."
Billy kissed Jacob chastely on the lips. "I'll get dressed and take care of the store. If you want anything, call me and I'll be up here before you can tell me what you want, ok?"
"All right. I'll call Superstars now. I'm pretty sure Jill is in by now."
As Billy left to go downstairs, he heard Jacob on the phone.
"I can't make it down there; I can't walk. You're welcome to come out here and see for yourself, or I can fax you the police report and the hospital report." Pause. "Hell, Jill, would I be using THIS voice if it wasn't serious?" Pause. "No publicity. At ALL. Just `for medical reasons'. If you have to say something, say I got hit by a car. That's about what it looks like happened anyway." Pause. "Yes, that bad. Six broken ribs, right wrist and right ankle sprained, two teeth knocked out, a moderate concussion with twenty-three stitches, and I'm basically one solid bruise all over. Tell me I DIDN'T get hit by a car!" Pause. "Ok, you do that. Thanks." He hung up. "Expect Jill from Superstars some time today. She wants to see the damages for herself, though she says she just wants to visit me in my convalescence."
Billy smiled. "I'll send her up when she arrives." He went down the stairs to open the shop.
* - * - *
The bruising was gone within a week, and the dental work was finished two days after that. Jacob's doctor knew him too well to let him merely use bandages on his sprains, but he did put a walking cast on his foot with an attachment for stilts of different sizes to match the height of his shoes. The wig looked just like his own hair, so he wore it whenever he left the apartment.
The rehearsals were going well, with Jacque wearing a blue jean skirt suit and a five-inch sandal with her cast to keep up her identity. She didn't bother wearing any makeup for these rehearsals; Jacob looked enough like a woman without it.
Jacob had still not been able to make love by opening night. "Billy, I swear they designed that suit with you in mind." Jacque was just finishing up her makeup. All the costumes she'd be wearing that evening were in her dressing room at Caesar's, so she was wearing a beautiful, beaded, black evening gown that went well with Billy's Armani suit. Finally down to tightly wrapped tape on her ankle, she wore six-inch heels to give her a good height relative to Billy's 6'3". The limousine that Caesar's sent for them arrived at six pm sharp.
* - * - *
Billy had seen Jacque in Superstars many times, but he'd never heard her "natural" singing voice before. Her voice was strong, yet smooth, with a singing range that put Cher to shame in both directions. She still did "Indian Reservation" with its Native American message, but nobody would ever claim that it was "an Indian show." Also, for the Superstars show, the music had been pre-recorded. Here, it was live, and the loon duet was all the more beautiful for it. The house was completely packed, and she had three encores.
Once she emerged from backstage in her evening gown, she was flooded with autograph hounds and reporters. One ten-year-old boy waited patiently in line for an autograph. "You don't really play the flute in your show, do you?"
Jacque pulled a small wooden flute from her purse. "Yes, I really do." She played the first verse of "Pop Goes the Weasel" for him and handed him the flute. Then she signed his program and handed it back. "And I definitely appreciate your honesty. Never lose that." She kissed him on the cheek.
"WOW!" The boy turned to his mother. "Mom! Did you see that? She kissed me!" He and his mother walked off, the boy chattering all the while.
* - * - *
"You must keep Jacob happy or he'll die. You're the only chance he has."
"Bootstrap, I try. I cook, clean, and watch the store while he sleeps. I've tried to get him to make love with me, but he won't even let me into the bathroom when he takes a shower nowadays!"
"Billy, there is a reason. You must find it out and take care of him. It's his only chance, believe me."
"What do you mean?"
* - * - *
Billy woke in a cold sweat. He heard Jacob playing the flute in another room. He quickly dressed and walked out of the bedroom. Jacob was lying on a sheepskin on the floor on his back, playing his flute, eyes closed.
"Jacob, what's wrong?"
Jacob stopped playing and looked at Billy. "What? Nothing's wrong. We've got money rolling in hand over fist, the reservation's school is better equipped now than the private schools in Summerlin, and I have the most wonderful and gorgeous lover that Anyone could ask for. Why?"
"Bootstrap told me to keep you happy or you'd die. So I ask you again, what's wrong?"
"Billy, nobody lives forever. Maybe he thinks I'll get hit by a truck."
"No Jacob. I can tell you're still having problems with dealing with what happened, but that was six months ago, and you've gone through as much therapy as you can stand. So I ask you again: What's wrong?"
Jacob seemed to shrink in on himself. The change was so drastic that Billy knelt down and took him in his arms. Jacob sighed. "You remember what happened...what Gordon Phelps did to me."
Billy recognized the name of the rapist. "Yes."
"He had AIDS."
Billy almost dropped his lover in shock. "AIDS?"
"Yeah. And my latest trip to the doctor yesterday confirmed it; I'm HIV positive."
"Jeez." Billy shook his head to clear all the depressing thoughts invading his head. "But they're always finding ways to keep the infection from becoming full-blown AIDS, right? I mean, it'll probably be ten or more years before it turns, right?"
"Yes, but it means that I'm celibate for the rest of my life. But Billy, it's ok with me if you want a lover for sex. I'm not the jealous type, and I don't want you to leave me...I mean...all this is yours when I die."
"But Jacob, the way Bootstrap made it sound, I don't think it'll kill you if we can figure it out properly."
"Tonight I'm dark, and there aren't any classes, so I'll deal with it tonight in the sweat lodge." He picked up the flute again and began playing.
* - * - *
As Jacob walked to the sweat lodge in the backyard, he told Billy to "mind the store." As Billy asked why, he heard the shop's "after hours" bell and headed into the front of the shop. Jacob proceeded into the sweat lodge alone.
Billy opened the door to find thirteen people with small packs waiting. He recognized them as a local coven that met twice a month in the back yard. "Hi Grendle. What's up? Full moon isn't till a week from Friday."
"I know. But we all got a strange feeling and decided to come down and do a health ritual."
Billy was stunned. "Jacob's in the sweat lodge looking for health answers."
"Then we're right on time. What's wrong with him? All I know is that whatever is wrong is serious."
"Yeah. It is. Remember when Jacob was attacked a few months ago?"
"Yeah. He told us about it. I know the trial's coming up for the kidnappers. A&B, kidnapping, rape..."
"The guy who raped him had AIDS."
"And you're afraid." Billy's head snapped up, wide eyed, so startled was he by her words. Not what he expected. He didn't know what to say to that...how to answer her. It wasn't a question. A statement, a simple fact. And spoken with all the concern of observing that the sky is blue. It was true, he was afraid. Afraid. But...he hadn't known that until just that moment. /Afraid. Did i say that?/ He'd heard his voice. /Or did i just think it./ He looked directly at her and said, "I'm afraid." And waited for her to tell him "don't be afraid." Grendle nodded once, and looked resolute. "We'll take care of it."
The group pushed passed the stunned man and continued toward the back area. They separated into the two classrooms and closed the doors, emerging skyclad a couple of minutes later, holding various magickal tools to be brought out with them. Grendle put a hand on Billy's shoulder. Her hand said, "comfort." "Have no fears. Jacob will be clear and healthy within a month."
"I hope so."
"Then you condemn him to death. Hope will kill him. I KNOW he'll be well." Grendle and the others headed out the back door. Billy watched from the steps as the coven surrounded the lodge and started their ritual. Billy thought he could hear Jacob chanting inside. He took his tiny St. Jude medallion and held it in his hand. "I don't usually ask for anything, but Jacob is important to me. Please intercede on my behalf and remove the HIV from Jacob's body." He crossed himself, hoping he remembered how, and waited.
* - * - *
"All rise for the honorable Judge Hyram Johnston."
The trial had gone smoothly thus far. It had been nine months since he had been raped; two months since the trial began. The fingerprints, blood, semen and other evidence pretty much had Jacob's assailants /assailant and killer!/ convicted without Jacob having to testify. He was wearing an Armani suit, his hair combed neatly down over his shoulders, the shorter hair from where the stitches had been the only obvious reminder that he'd been hurt at all. The photographs showed the damages clearly though, and the man who had raped him had also been charged with premeditated murder.
/Bootstrap, I didn't want this./
/But you need it. You face your attackers and be victorious./
Jacob stood and walked to the witness stand, took the civil oath and sat down. He described what he remembered of the attack and the rape, pointing out each of the men and their identifying markings and what each of them did to him. Then began the cross-examination.
"Mr. Littlebird, what is it that you do for a living?"
"I own a local shop called Sacred Flute."
"And what kind of shop is it?"
"Mostly Native American crafts. I also cater to the alternate religion community and teach Cherokee, Navajo and Blackfoot languages."
"What do you mean by `alternate religion'?"
"Any religion not considered `mainstream'. Wiccans, any Native American religion...that sort of thing. But there have been several local Christian churches that have had prayer meetings there. I certainly don't play favorites."
"Mr. Littlebird, you have another job though, don't you? One that is much more lucrative, and perhaps a bit more contravercial?"
Jacob looked around the room. He recognized three reporters and several tribal elders who didn't know about his alternate identity. He looked at the prosecutor questioningly, who shrugged. "Since you are as keen on publicizing my life as your client was on ending it, fine. For six nights a week I perform at Caesar's Palace in the show `Resistance'. My stage name is Jacqueline Loon."
Cameras clicked from nowhere as a shocked pandemonium broke in the courtroom. It took several minutes for order to return. By the end of the day, Jacob wondered who was on trial. He'd had to defend himself against being a "drag queen" and the accusation that he was "asking for it," and though he did quite well with both, pointing out that he'd worn an Armani suit that day and only "became Jacque" for shows.
Billy waited patiently outside the D.A.'s office. Jacob walked out looking exhausted. All he had to say was "home." As they walked outside the courthouse with Billy helping Jacob down the stairs, they were surrounded by reporters asking Jacob questions.
"How long have you been a transvestite?" "Are you considering surgery to become Jacqueline Loon permanently?" "What do you think will happen to your career now that you're `out of the closet'?"
Jacob stopped and raised his hand. All noise stopped except for a few clicks of various cameras. When he spoke, there was a weariness that belied his mere twenty-six years of age. "I don't know what Caesar's will do. Other than that, I can say that there will be a press conference after tonight's show, if there is a show. If there isn't, come on down to the shop tomorrow and I'll answer all your questions. For now, I've had a grueling day and I need to rest a bit before the show." Another flurry of questions flared up, but Jacob didn't acknowledge that he even heard them, allowing Billy to push their way through the throng.
* - * - *
"Jerry, I can't do that. My singing voice sucks, and I'm not going to subject anyone to it. I've agreed to come out with no makeup at the end. Isn't that enough?" Jacob slammed Jacque's phone on the table. "Billy, could you give me a lift to the doctor?"
"Yeah. I'm losing energy too fast. I don't think those drugs they're giving me are working."
"Or it could mean that you need more than two hours sleep per night. With your immune system down, you've GOT to get more sleep."
"Of course, it could be all this nice stress Phelps and his lawyer are putting me through. Tonight Jerry says I'm doing the second encore with no makeup and no dress. He says the crowd wants to meet ME. Well I don't want to meet the crowd. Jacque's the entertainer of this body...not me. Out of the dress and makeup, I'm just a short, queer fortune teller that's HIV positive." He grabbed Billy and held him like a child clinging to his mother to escape the boogieman. Tears flowed freely. "I don't want to die, Billy." Jacob hugged him tighter.
Billy held him close and stroked his hair, kissing him on the forehead. "You are not going to die from AIDS. Or don't you believe Bootstrap?"
"Sometimes Bootstrap says things that seem to be obvious but really mean something else entirely. Saying I won't die of AIDS doesn't necessarily mean that I'll be cured. It could mean that I get hit by a bus next Thursday." Jacob pulled away. "I'm sorry Billy. I'm just going through too much at once. I shouldn't be taking it out on you." He kissed Billy on the throat. "You're too good to me." He straightened. "Will you come with me tonight? I don't know if I can handle all this alone."
"Jacob, you'll never be alone again. I'll go with you every night and to the ends of the earth if need be." He kissed Jacob's cheek.
* - * - *
The show went well, and when Jacob walked out for the second encore in a black suit with none of Jacque's effects, his natural hair draped neatly over his shoulders, the crowd went very quiet. He spoke quietly in his own smooth baritone. "I'm not used to public speaking; I've always left that to Jacque. Umm...Does anyone have a question or a request? I mean...there's going to be a press conference after the show that everyone's invited to, but if there's something everyone is wondering?"
A voice rang out from the back. "Why did you hide the fact that you're a man?" Applause followed, so Jacob answered.
"That was specifically because American Superstars didn't want a `female impersonator' in the show. They were afraid that it would turn it into a drag show. So that's how it started. Since then, Jacque's sorta taken on a life of her own. I mean...till tonight, I've never appeared on a stage, and Jacque has never sold things at the store."
"What proof is there that you ARE Jacqueline Loon?"
Jacob smiled. "That, I can prove." He pulled his flute out of his jacket, put it to his lips and began his intro to "Pride (In the Name of Love)". He sang it in Jacque's singing voice. As the song ended, the audience gave Jacob a standing ovation that made him blush. "And now, anyone who doesn't want to stay should head out. The press conference will be starting in ten minutes." He walked to the front of the stage and sat down, returning his flute to its hiding place in his jacket.
Jacob noticed that when all of the people who were leaving were gone, there was still close to half of the audience in their seats. Billy was beaming at him, obviously proud that Jacob didn't faint or throw up during the final song like he'd threatened.
"Well, I guess this is it. I'll answer all your questions to the best of my ability. Who's first?"
"You stated in the courtroom that you're not a drag queen, yet here you are, gay, and dressing in women's clothes. Can you explain that?"
Jacob grinned. "Well, I WAS a `celebrity impersonator' when I was doing Cher, but now you could call me a `female impersonator', I guess. I get into the costumes for a particular performance. I don't live the part of a woman. At home, I wear men's clothes and speak in my own voice unless I'm on Jacque's phone, but that's part of my professional persona, not my home life. A `drag queen' lives the part twenty-four seven. You will never find a drag queen dressed like this, nor like I dress when I'm not Jacque."
"Have you considered professional help? You seem to have two completely different personalities. I mean, I've had long interviews with you as Jacqueline Loon and you acted VERY differently. I have a hard time consolidating the two of you."
Jacob blushed, but laughed. "Actually, at first I DID think I was going crazy. Jacque was SOOO outgoing, and I'm definitely an introvert. The doctor told me that it's very common, and not crazy at all. Apparently method actors do the same thing. The only real difference is that I only have one role."
"So why aren't you out here in the dress to answer questions?"
Jacob thought for a moment. "Because your questions were going to be to me, and I feel like a `man in a dress' when I'm in the costume but not being Jacque. It's embarrassing enough for ME to go on stage at all, let alone putting ME in a dress."
"I've done a little research on you and on Jacque. Is it true that you own the Yuwi school on the reservation?"
Jacob smiled. "Yes, that's true. You see, I wasn't happy with the way our children were being taught, so I started Yv-Wi to give them some heritage with their Euro education. In addition to the so- called `normal' subjects that are taught everywhere in the United States, they have classes in their Native American heritage and languages. They learn about a different tribe every quarter, and learn Navajo, Cherokee and Blackfoot so far. I'm still searching for other Native American Language teachers."
"How do you pay for that? How much is the tuition, and can other children go there?"
"Almost all of Jacque's money goes straight into the school. It used to be all of it, but AIDS drugs are expensive, and I want to keep the school running as long as I can. There's no tuition; the families on the reservation have enough problems affording their day-to-day lives. Donations are always welcome, but as we don't advertise except for a jar down at the shop, we don't get much. And as for other kids, and grownups too for that matter, there are day and evening classes in both heritage and language at the store for only $5.00 per lesson."
"Speaking of AIDS, what do you think about the D.A. going after Phelps for premeditated murder? Isn't that a little severe? I mean, you're still alive."
Jacob's face darkened. "Phelps knew he had AIDS when he raped me. Now that I'm HIV positive, I have an early death sentence hanging over me. He has effectively stolen my life and my future. If he is not found guilty, he will have legally murdered me. And although I am generally a peaceful man that accepts what fate gives me, I can't help but think of all that he has stolen from the children that attend Yv-Wi. As far as I know, there is no one able to take over when I die, so the school dies with me. For that, I do hope he is found guilty."
The audience was quiet.
"Are there any more questions?"
"Was this the last show for Jacqueline Loon? Or will you continue to perform in drag?"
Jacob shrugged. "I don't actually know for sure. However, from what I've heard, the few tickets that were refunded have been sold out for at least a month, so unless Jacque loses her popularity, I guess she'll continue. The one change in the show, however, will be much like tonight's show: the management wants ME to do the final encore."
When no more questions followed, Jacob thanked everyone for coming and bid them goodnight, which got him a round of applause and a line of fans for his autograph. He signed them as "Jacqueline Loon." One young teenage girl wanted HIS autograph, so he signed it for her. By the time he was finished, Jacob was exhausted, but he knew Billy would be famished, so he suggested that they eat out. When they walked into their favorite restaurant, nobody recognized Jacob and when they got to the Matre'D, Tony asked Billy where Jacque was.
Billy giggled and pointed at Jacob. "This is Jacque out of her makeup. You mean you don't recognize her?"
Jacob gave Billy a dirty look and turned to Tony. "Two non-smoking, please."
Tony looked closely at Jacob. "My God, it IS you. I've heard something on the news about her being `outed,' but I didn't believe it, having known her for all these years. So now, what should I call you when you visit us?"
"Jacob. Jacob Littlebird."
Tony smiled. "Please follow me, Mr. Littlebird; Mr. Thompson. I have your usual table waiting." He took them to their table among mumbling from the customers who were still waiting for their tables.
When they arrived home, Jacob changed into a pair of shorts and went downstairs to the sweat lodge.
* - * - *
The next morning, Billy awoke alone in the bed as usual. He listened for any sign of Jacob, but heard nothing. He quickly threw on a pair of shorts and a tee shirt and searched the building both upstairs and down. Jacob was nowhere to be seen. Billy remembered that Jacob had gone into the sweat lodge after they got home from dinner, but he knew the crazy holy man would never stay in there for longer than a couple of hours. That thought strong in his mind, he immediately ran to the lodge and threw open the door. As he looked in, he saw two figures: Bootstrap bent over Jacob's crumpled body.
Bootstrap turned to Billy. "Save him." He vanished.
Billy dragged Jacob around the pit and out the small door, picked him up and carried him into the shop and up the stairs, laying him in the shower and starting it on luke warm. He grabbed the phone on the way to the kitchen and dialed 911. He finished ordering the ambulance as he brought the pitcher of ice water back to the bathroom.
Jacob didn't respond to the drops of ice water Billy put on his tongue, nor to the cool water falling on him. All Billy could tell was that he was breathing. He brought him out of the bathroom and laid him on the couch just as he heard the siren. He ran downstairs to let them in.
* - * - *
"Will he be ok?" Billy looked at the mess of wires and tubes leading to his comatose lover.
"We just don't know. His body is responding well to the fluids, but being in a sauna for six hours...we just don't know if he'll come out of it."
Billy nodded. "May I stay with him?"
"Of course. Feel free to use the nurse call button if you need anything." She left.
Lunch arrived at noon, with strict orders for Billy to eat it. "The doctor will be here in a little while. He'd like you to stick around. He said he had news about Mr. Littlebird's condition." She left.
About an hour later, Jacob's regular doctor, Dr. Lovitz walked in. "Hello Billy. Any sign of Jacob waking?"
"None. The nurse said you have news?"
"Yes. I had his blood checked this morning, just like I always do, to measure his T-Cells."
"And there was no sign whatsoever of the HIV. He's completely clear. I checked it three times, and it's as if he never had it."
"So if he ever comes out of the coma, he's fine."
"That's another thing. There's way too much brain activity for him to be in a coma. It's like his brain is conscious, but his body isn't responding. It's like revving an engine in park. I can't understand why he's not sitting up and talking to us."
"Could he be dreaming?"
"If so, it's the most active dream I've ever seen. According to the readings, he IS walking, talking, moving his arms; he should be twitching in his sleep at the very least, like a dreaming animal. Like I said, I don't understand it. We'll just have to wait and see."
Billy nodded. "What about brain damage?"
The doctor frowned. "We're still not sure. But with all the activity, I wonder if maybe that might be the extent of the damage. He might be in his own little world unable to escape. For now or forever I just can't tell."
"Thank you, Dr. Lovitz." The doctor left and Billy sat down in a chair next to the bed. "Jacob, you're cured. Don't die on me now!" He leaned over, head in his hands. "I just don't know what I'd do without you."
* - * - *
"I'm your guide and guardian, Billy. But that doesn't mean I have to be alive to guard you."
"Jacob, you have to wake up. You promised Bootstrap you wouldn't leave me."
"Ah, but I'm not leaving you, my love. I'll always be here for you...in the Spirit World."
"I don't want you in the Spirit World."
"But I'm dead. Either now, or later when the AIDS takes me. This is far less painful."
"You're not the Jacob I know and love. My Jacob is no quitter. He'd fight to stay alive for the kids at the school."
"I wish I could, but I'm dead."
Billy was angry. "No, you're not! Your brain shows all kinds of activity, and your body is healthy. The HIV is GONE! The doctor says it's like you never had it. Now don't you DARE leave me now that we can make love again!"
A figure appeared next to Billy. It was Bootstrap. "Yes, you stupid pirate gone native! Ye almost killed yourself, but it's gone. Now get up off that lazy arse of yours and take my boy home right now! These ugly walls and uglier machines are not the place for you."
Jacob seemed to be thinking about something. "How long have I been gone?"
Billy shrugged. "A few hours. There's about six hours till the show, and I wasn't going to call them till the last second. Now GET UP!"
* - * - *
"Excuse me, young man. Do you know my Jacob?"
Billy woke and looked up. An old woman stood next to him who looked like she had to be related to Jacob. "Hello. I'm Billy."
"Call me Elisi. Jacob does." She turned to Jacob's still form. "He always looks so peaceful when he's sleeping." She prodded him. "Jacob dear. It's time to wake up." When he didn't respond, she walked around Billy to get to the head of the bed, bent down and said something to Jacob in another language that Billy recognized as Cherokee from the lessons he was taking from Jacob.
Almost immediately, an alarm on Jacob's heart monitor began beeping. Billy hit the call nurse button and tried to see what was wrong. Jacob had stopped breathing.
An emergency team arrived immediately and Billy felt very small and insignificant, so he moved to the corner of the room and watched while they resuscitated his lover. On the fourth try, Jacob coughed and his body sat up and doubled over as the coughing continued. Someone held a pan in front of him and he threw up, the coughing fit stopping. "Thank you." His voice was almost a whisper.
Billy inched forward as Dr. Lovitz came in and the emergency team left. "Welcome back to the living, Jacob. How do you feel?"
Jacob's voice got stronger with every sentence. "Like a raisin. How long was I in the sweat lodge?"
Billy stepped up and took Jacob's hand, careful to miss the I.V. tube. "You were in there for six hours. I found you when I woke up at nine o'clock."
Jacob smiled at Billy. "I don't see why you stay with me, darling. I'm too much trouble for you."
Billy kissed him on the nose. "No you're not. Though you wouldn't wake up for me. It took Elisi saying something to you in Cherokee for you to wake up."
"Elisi? Elisi has been dead for twelve years. She was my great grandmother."
Dr. Lovitz smiled. "Well, whatever happened, Jacob, welcome back." He started giving Jacob a checkup to make sure he was out of danger.
"When can I leave? I'm supposed to rehearse a new number for tonight and I have to be there by five."
The doctor shook his head. "Jacob, you're crazy. You almost die from a self-induced heat stroke, and you want to go work out on stage the same day. Can you even stand?"
Jacob grinned. "Sure." He swung his legs off the bed and stood up slowly. "I'm ok, doc. I'll just drink a ton of gatorade and I'll be ready for anything. So will you sign me out so that I can get back to the shop? I'm late for a class in Blackfoot that I'm teaching today."
Billy walked around the bed and put an arm around him. "No you're not. I called Carla in to teach the class today."
Jacob smiled and kissed Billy's hand. "You're too good to me."
Billy turned Jacob toward him and kissed him, his tongue trying to work its way into his lover's mouth. Jacob pulled away, shocked. "Billy, NO! I don't want you catching AIDS too!"
Billy grinned. "No chance of that. The doc says you're cured."
Jacob looked at Dr. Lovitz, who nodded. "It's true. I took the test three times to be sure, and I'm convinced." He looked at the look in Billy's eyes. "I think I'll go get the paperwork started on your release." He left, shutting the door and grinning.
Billy turned to Jacob. "You DO know what that means, right?"
Jacob grinned. "Ummm...that you love me?"
"YES!" Billy pulled up Jacob's hospital gown and leaned over, taking Jacob's manhood in his mouth. Jacob leaned back and arched his back, moaning. Billy suckled on the now thickening length until it was hard. Jacob brought one hand over to Billy's crotch and tried to unbutton his jeans, but Billy stopped him, lifting his head for only a moment. "No. This is my gift to you and His Majesty." He licked around the crown and down the vein to Jacob's sac.
Jacob watched as his lover raised his head to lave the crown again. As Billy reached the slit at the top, a small pearl of precum formed. Billy licked it up as if it were made of ambrosia; the look on his face one of pure rapture. Jacob looked at Billy's crotch and moaned. Billy's jeans were definitely becoming very restraining.
Billy suddenly took Jacob's entire member down his throat and started swallowing, his throat muscles massaging the twitching length, pulling his head up only long enough to take a breath, then plunging the length down his throat again.
Jacob started panting, knowing he was close, and Billy saw Jacob's sac tighten, ready to spill.
At that moment, the door opened and a nurse walked in. Several things followed all at once. The nurse turned beet red and left, slamming the door. Billy raised his head completely off Jacob, embarrassed. And Jacob, shocked by the entrance of the nurse, screamed and came hard, his seed flying as his now completely exposed manhood landed on his belly, spasming.
Billy couldn't control his laughter as he dampened some paper towels and cleaned Jacob off, starting with his face. Jacob was blushing beet red, his cock completely limp again. "Stop laughing! It's not funny! We probably traumatized the lady!"
Billy tossed Jacob his underwear and shorts, still giggling. "Get that gown off and get dressed. I'll go see the nurse and apologize. " Jacob started to change clothes as Billy headed out.
When Billy and the nurse returned, both were smiling. Jacob was standing at the bandage cupboard, putting a bandage on his hand where he'd pulled out the I.V. His other hand was already bandaged. He saw the nurse and blushed. "I am SO sorry. We don't usually behave so"
"don't worry. I heard the news. Congratulations on beating it! You're one of the lucky few you know. And that's definitely work `celebrating'."
Jacob blushed all the way down to the top of his shorts. "But we should have waited till we got home."
The nurse laughed. "I've seen a lot weirder, believe me. In traction no less! Don't worry. I won't tell anyone."
* - * - *
When Jacob and Billy got home, they "celebrated" again. And again. Jacob was only forty minutes late for his rehearsal.
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