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Passion part 9 by Fantasy Weaver
1: Some adult content ahead.
The day after the evaluations -which amazingly didn’t have anyone leaving the gallery- the instructors had given out papers explaining how the evening of the private showing would go. Sebastian looked at the schedule, and in turn felt sixteen other pair of eyes staring at him curiously.
The sheet had hours for different events. Honors, prizes and rewards, a toast, speeches; not all of these necessarily in order. The thing that jumped out of the page the most was the headline:
"The Lakeside University art students have put their best pieces yet on display. The opening night will be held on April 18 at 5pm in the museum of contemporary art. Admission is 15$.
Our students delve into psychological themes, bringing the matter of thought and psychology into a different light.
A performance will be accompanying the reveal of the piece ‘Passion’ by Sebastian Van Neste, which will be at 7pm.
We congratulate all our other students for their amazing works and their constant perseverance. All have come far in their pursuit of creativity. We hope to see their works displayed again in the future!"
Sebastian lifted his eyes to stare at the people around him and felt like his teenage self all over again. All the other students staring at him, wondering just exactly what his performance was, made a nervous sweat break out on his forehead.
The raven ducked away as quickly as possible.
This was an unprecedented conclusion -or beginning, whichever way one would look- to his masterpiece.
Jasper dragged the razor against his cheek one last time, turning his head, the reflection in the mirror doing the same. He passed his hand over his skin, checking for any missed spots -there were none, of course- and then wiped his face with a cold towel.
Instinctively, he reached out for the Witch Hazel he kept in his arsenal of barber supplies on the bathroom counter. He dipped the contents into his cupped palm, then splashed the liquid on his face, smiling at the crisp, fresh feel the sting gave. A spray of cologne on his chest, and he pulled his white button up shirt over his torso.
Sebastian had left hours ago to prepare the gallery for the private showing. The man had been sick -again- but had reassured the barber that he would be fine once the evening would start.
It was still odd though. Sebastian usually gave him a pamphlet with all the information he needed to know before heading out to the gallery. But not this time. This time, the raven had given him the info on a sheet of paper in his fluid penmanship.
He read the words over again in his mind. ‘7pm, museum of contemporary art, Nicolas and Scarlet will come get you. They wanted to go out after the show.’
He never voiced the fact that he had found it strange to have the show so late in the evening, but he wouldn’t contest what Sebastian had written him. Instead, he told himself to enjoy the night. These last weeks had been a rollercoaster and, at the moment, both were experiencing an enjoyable high compared to the horrible low from days prior.
He never wanted that to happen again, but they didn’t know what the future held for them.
With a happy sigh, Jasper lifted the collar of his shirt, sliding his white tie on and knotting it in place. The collar came back down, and he threw the over coat on his shoulders and buttoned up. An assessing look in the mirror showed him to be quite charming. Not many people could pull off an all white suit, but with his naturally pale colorings, it made him look good. He would probably stand out more than necessary at the private showing, but he didn’t mind (besides, wearing black made him look like a vampire).
He finally combed his white hair into place, the four inch strands on top swept to the side in a stylish wave, and the shorter three inch locks on the back and sides blending in perfectly. A touch of watered down pomade held it all in place. He thought that for a barber, his hair was a tad on the long side, but his views were quite different from other, more old-fashioned barbers.
He had his hair about twelve inches long, or longer, when he had worn it in the man-bun. Some of the older men who frequented his shop had commented on it, saying it was far too long for of a man, especially one with his job. He would brush these comments off with little attention. Jasper had only one opinion concerning hair: so long as you like your hair, it doesn’t matter how long or short it is.
Never mind his liking for shearing a good head of hair to nothing but a light dusting of stubble, he still thought that long hair on a man was sexy. Depending on how it was maintained, a man could just as easily pull off long hair like any woman, and women could do the same in regards to short hair.
For him, as long as he kept his hair clean and tidy, it shouldn’t matter to his client. The fact that he had longer hair than most didn’t influence the way he did his job. He was just as good as any other barber.
He only realized his thoughts had wandered when the buzzer for his apartment sounded. Quickly, he went to press the speaker button.
"Nicolas?" he asked.
On the other end of the line he heard some ruffling, then, "And Scarlet!" the woman spoke into the receiver.
Jasper laughed. "I’ll be down in a minute." With that, he went to pull his shoes on.
A look at the clock told him they had twenty minutes to get to the museum. It was about fifteen minutes to get there.
Within a minute, Jasper had joined Nicolas and Scarlet outside his home. They got into the blonde’s van and went off.
He felt bad for intentionally lying to Jasper after having promised him he wouldn’t do such a thing, but this was the only time he would allow himself to do so. Sebastian felt especially bad, since all the rewards ceremonies had passed, but it was necessary.
The nausea had settled. He had stopped vomiting that morning. This was replaced with a lack of hunger and an anticipation so deep he could feel it in his bones. His body shook and trembled so badly he could barely stand.
The raven had insisted on not being present before seven o’clock. So he was waiting patiently, surrounded on all sides by his masterpiece in the large show room. Every now and then he would peak outside his sanctuary and swallow at just how many people had showed up. Then he would barricade himself back in his gallery room.
But now it was almost time. Scarlet had just sent him a text message saying they were on their way.
If they followed the plan correctly, everything would be fine. They needed to arrive at least five minutes after the opening of the doors, so as to let the people in. Then the three would find John and Helen and the entrance hall, and in turn, the teachers would take Jasper aside under the pretense of speaking with him. In that time, Scarlet and Nicolas would change their attire and join Sebastian in his show room. Once that was accomplished, a task that would be timed, the instructors would lead Jasper to his gallery and then…
Then it would start.
The raven checked his phone. It read six fifty-seven. He could hear his teachers announcing the opening of the doors outside the room. The chatter was getting louder and louder as more people gathered. With a shaky, cleansing breath, Sebastian put his phone out of sight and took position.
He was nervous. So nervous. His parents were out there. They would see him for who he was.
Jasper checked the radio’s clock. It was seven o’clock. He sighed, a little annoyed that they would arrive a little later than the opening. Well, it wouldn’t make much of a difference. There were probably all sorts of guests there already.
Nicolas came back in the van. They had stopped to fill the vehicle’s gas tank.
"Sorry about that. I should’ve put gas in this morning…" the man trailed off as he turned the key in the ignition. The van roared back to life.
"It’s fine. It’s not like we’re getting there too late" the barber remarked casually.
Scarlet put a hand over her mouth to stop the laughter that wanted to come out. Jasper raised a brow at her.
"What’s so funny?"
She coughed, trying to regain her composure. "Nothing, just a thought. I’ll tell you later."
It took no more than five minutes to arrive at the museum and to enter the student’s gallery. Jasper whistled in awe. He had never actually been in the museum of contemporary art. The place was just as massive inside as it was on the outside. Their feet made echoes bounce off the wall, and further away he could hear commotion. Were there already people in the gallery?
"Excuse us." Jasper turned his head to see an older man and woman walking towards him and Sebastian’s two friends.
"Yes?" the platinum haired man spoke, intrigued.
The old man held out a hand. Jasper took it in his own for a handshake. "My name is John, and this here is Helen" John introduced as he tilted his head towards the woman with curly hair.
Jasper raised a brow. "I’m Jasper. Um, I’m sorry, do I know you?"
Helen piped up. "We’re Sebastian’s teachers. He told us about you, and we knew you would be here tonight, so we wanted to meet you. You’re very important to Sebastian I believe."
The barber passed a hand in his hair. "Is that so?"
Scarlet and Nicolas, unbeknownst to Jasper, slipped away, giving a wave to John who was watching them intently. The man nodded curtly.
The teachers dragged Jasper into a short conversation. They exchanged pleasantries and such, until the albino man became aware that Sebastian was probably waiting for him somewhere.
As thought reading his mind, John announced, "If you would follow us, we could go see Sebastian."
Jasper smiled. "Yes, that would be nice, thank you."
He followed them silently, admiring the pieces they walked by on their way. He would look at them more closely once he had said hello to his lover. There were a few people scattered about, but soon they alighted to the very end of the museum, and there was a crowd so large Jasper thought something big was going on.
"What’s going on here?" he asked the two instructors.
They turned to him with smiles. "Why don’t you go see?" Helen suggested.
Jasper was a bit scared now.
He cautiously approached the crowd and slid his way through. Some people turned disbelieving eyes at him before getting out of his way. What, had they never seen an albino man before?
As soon as one person cleared the way for him, the rest soon followed. What in the world was their problem? He glanced about him, trying to understand what was going on. Then he was inside the show room.
For the first time in his life, he had no idea what to do or say.
There were people against the back wall, where he had entered from the single entrance, and they all stared at him in silence. There was barely any sound, except for the occasional cough or shuffling. The barber’s red eyes scanned around him in amazement.
The room was big. There were no lights on, but it was dimly lit. The source of this light came from candles it seems. His nose picked up on familiar scents, though his mind was too much of a jumble to replace them at the moment.
On the ground, there were three white altars -one in the middle, two on the sides. The candles giving off the dim light were placed atop of these as well as around the room. On these altars were different objects Jasper could name quite easily, as he worked all day every day with them.
Barbicide jars served as vases for almost bouquet-like arrangements of scissors, thinning shears and combs. Other containers were filled to the brim with more of these tools, including brushes, clipper attachments and more.
Some of the arrangements were exclusively scissors, others, were exclusively clippers. Some were scattered about on the altars, among vials of oil, jars of pomades and wax. White capes served as decorative cloths to cover the altars. There were razors and straight razors, arranged neatly on towels among the clutter -an organized clutter mind you- and unfilled mugs with lather brushes also dotted here and there.
In a few places, there were large bowls of hot water, their steam both making the room moist, and, most certainly, foggy. The light of the candles lit the steam, making it visible in certain areas of the showroom. The fog added a hushed, almost magical effect. How the water was kept continuously hot, Jasper didn’t know.
The middle altar was the most packed. On a raised part of the installation, a large, thick book resided, almost like a Bible on display in a church. Candles illuminated the pages, as well as something else. Upon locking his crimson eyes on this, Jasper realized, with a twist in his gut, that they were pieces of hair. Like someone had cut off a ponytail and placed it there like…
Like an offering.
His eyes now went to the side walls, on his left and right. Upon them were different sized drawings, all made in different styles and on different papers. From where he stood, the barber couldn’t quite see what the drawings depicted, but what he COULD see lay above these.
Two canvases, one on each side, displayed Sebastian, seemingly naked -or at least bare-chested- in almost submissive poses. On booth paintings, his features were contorted in something akin to painful pleasure. And Jasper could see why. A hand was grabbing him by his hair, and another was shown plowing a clipper through the thick midnight locks.
Two other similar paintings were on the middle wall, but they did not catch Jasper’s attention as much as the largest of the five canvases.
The middle canvas depicted a deity of a man painted in whites and only the slightest red. This man wore nothing, but only his upper chest and head could be seen. His chin was tilted slightly upwards, in a way reminiscent of how a king would look upon his peasants, or in this case, how a god would look down on his worshippers. His red eyes were unflinching, almost glaring, and demanded the utmost respect and reverence to him and only him.
This portrait depicted him: Jasper.
He brought a hand to his mouth. His eyes lowered, and he almost regretted doing so as soon as they landed on what was occupying the very middle of the room.
A circle of candles surrounded a white and gold barber chair.
Movement made him lift his gaze back to the middle altar, and he didn’t know what to say. Sebastian was on his knees, sitting quietly, wearing a flowing pair of black pants. In front of him was a pair of scissors, lain on a white cloth.
His grey eyes were clouded over.
Jasper lowered his hand from his mouth. This. This was why Sebastian had been distancing himself. The raven hadn’t wanted him to find out about this. It all made sense now. His masterpiece was dedicated to Jasper.
Jasper was, for a lack of a better word, Sebastian’s one and only god. And his hair fetish, incidentally, was his religion.
Jasper tensed a bit when he heard the ruffling of the people in the large show room. The man had nearly forgotten that they had been there, watching them. Watching, judging his reaction.
Sebastian beckoned him to the alter. With slow, hesitant steps, Jasper approached Sebastian. As soon as the barber was in front of him, the raven bowed, his hands sliding on the floor, his head lowering in respect.
Ah. So Sebastian intended on making this a show. Jasper smirked. He understood now. With a turn on his heel, he padded all the way to the elegant barber chair. The way he saw this, the chair was like a throne. A throne for him.
He sat, placing one long leg over the other, clasping his hands together on his knee. Understanding what his role was, he lifted his head ever so slightly, his eyes looking down the bridge of his nose at his lover. This haughty way of looking at him was exactly like the painting depicting him.
Sebastian straightened, his eyes peeking from under his fringe, and smiled internally. It was going as planned. Jasper had understood perfectly well what his intentions were, and now the snow-skinned man was calmly waiting for what would happen next.
Calmly, Sebastian took the scissors in front of him in hand. His hair had been placed in a ponytail, and with his other hand, he grasped it. His stormy eyes focused on Jasper, seeing the man give him a sinful smirk, quite contrary to the image of the benevolent, yet authoritative, god he had painted.
He shivered. People were watching them, but he couldn’t care less anymore now that Jasper was here.
He took a breath, and lifted the shears, placing them at the base of his tail. His eyes were looking deeply into Jasper’s. The barber’s held a challenge in them. ‘You wouldn’t’ they said. The raven narrowed his own. ‘Try me’ they screamed.
He closed the scissors, a crunching sound informing him that his black hair was being severed. He opened the tool, then closed, then opened, and continued doing so for a few seconds. His hair was thick; it might take a while to get through it. He doubled his efforts.
Jasper uncrossed his legs to lean forward, his elbows resting on his knees. His pale hands clasped, booth index fingers against the barber’s mouth as he leaned his head close. His eyes were dark, intense, and completely entranced by Sebastian. He watched unabashedly as the shears cut through the rope of raven hair.
The tool made a "clack" as soon as the strands were completely cut, and an audible gasp was hear throughout the showroom. What was left on the man’s head was uneven. He lowered the scissors, placing them slowly back down on the cloth. His left hand held the ponytail as Sebastian stood. Turning, he gently placed the hair on the alter, as an offering, just like Jasper had deduced.
When he turned back towards the middle of the showroom, where Jasper was perched on the throne of a barber chair he had ordered especially for this, Sebastian bowed again.
Jasper caught more movement from the corner of his eye. His shining orbs flicked to one side, where Scarlet was advancing. She had changed from her flattering scarlet dress -yes, yes, that was the color- into a black toga-like outfit. The material seemed to be the same as Sebastian’s pants. In her hands, she held something.
On the opposite side of the room, Nicolas came forward wearing, once again, black. He, unlike Sebastian, at least hid his chest. The blonde man was also carrying something in his hands.
Both came before the albino man, getting on their knees, bowing their heads slightly forward, and stretching their arms out, offering to him what they had been carrying. Jasper smiled.
Scarlet had a clipper, Nicolas held a neatly folded cape. Jasper returned his gaze to Sebastian.
The raven was looking at him with pleading eyes.
With a smirk, the barber let out a low, soft chuckle. Was this why Sebastian had been hesitant about trusting him with his hair? Oh, now it was all so obvious it was funny. With a flourish, he stood. He looked at Scarlet with a devious smile.
"Plug that in, would you?" Jasper whispered as he pointed to the clipper.
Scarlet bowed her head. "Of course, my Lord."
Oh? He rather liked being called "my lord". Was that also Sebastian’s idea? It probably was.
His shoes clacked against the wood of the gallery’s floor. Each individual stride echoed off the walls and made Sebastian’s heart beat a little faster. Jasper seemed to be enjoying this experience. He was taking his role on quite naturally. Sebastian swallowed back excess saliva.
Jasper stooped in front of him. The raven didn’t lift his eyes; rather, he averted them, and starred at the pristine white shoes only Jasper could wear so flawlessly.
The barber would have none of that.
His white hand grabbed the uneven strands of black hair on his lover’s head and pulled. The smaller man’s head lifted accordingly. Sebastian swallowed again, his eyes were wide. He almost, ALMOST, looked like the teen he had been when he had first entered Jasper’s barbershop. The white haired man loosened his grip ever so slightly.
Leaning in close, he said, calmly, clearly, and firmly, "In the chair. Now." Then he let go of the hair completely.
Sebastian bowed before standing up and marching towards the chair. It was as though Jasper had received a script of the performance; he was doing exactly what the raven had wanted, no, predicted he would do. Luck must be on his side.
As he made his way to the chair, his grey eyes roamed the people watching them. Leah, Charlie, Vanessa, Alex, his teachers, among others, lined the first row of guests. They were all watching, silent. He kept searching, and soon, his eyes fell on who he was looking for.
His mother and father watched him. They met his gaze. He smiled at them. They didn’t return the gesture. They stayed still, deadly still, like statues. They waited. They looked distraught.
He tried not to focus on them.
Behind him, Sebastian could hear Jasper following like a predator would its prey. Scarlet and Nicolas held sentinel beside the barber chair, at arms distance. He didn’t even pay them any attention before turning to sit on the throne.
The white, cushiony material made him relax. He sunk deeply into the seat fit for the god of a man before him. With half lidded eyes, he watched as Jasper approached.
The man spread both his arms out in a shooing manner. Scarlet and Nicolas responded by moving further away from the chair, outside the circle created by the candles. Now he recognized those scents. Jasper didn’t know that aftershave scented candles existed, but he was more than happy to be surrounded by the aroma. It made him feel at home, as though he was in his barbershop.
Deciding he would play around with his newfound role as a god, you know, give the people some bang for their buck, Jasper stalked around the perimeter of the candles. He observed his worshipper from all angles.
His ears picked up on a whispered conversation. In the silence of the room, it was easy to pick up on. Crimson eyes flicked to the crowd, making a few people step back. He found the people who were so rudely speaking during the performance -oh yes, ceremony, that’s right.
Getting into character, Jasper scowled at the three people disturbing the quiet atmosphere, lifting his chin upwards like the imposing painting of him.
"If you three lowly beings don’t shut up, you’ll be next" was the harsh warning he directed at them.
They seemed to get the message, because as soon as the first words were out of his mouth, the three students shut their traps with a flinch. Jasper turned his face away and continued his observation.
Had he been able to see Sebastian’s face, he would have seen a pleased smile on his face.
The barber finished his tour around the chair. He now stood in front of Sebastian.
The raven looked at his lover with the most reverential expression. The flickering firelight of the candles casted flattering shadows over Jasper’s features. He looked like the regal god Sebastian had made him out to be. He was perfect. A work of art in his own right.
One snowy hand stretched out towards Nicolas, a silent instruction to give him the cape. He did this, his eyes glued to the floor, then he returned to his position.
The cape was white, a modestly heavy weight in his hands, the material not too soft, not too itchy, not too thick, not too thin, but everything was just right. The barber came forward, unfolding the cloth, carefully to not set the cape ablaze by inadvertently brushing it against a candle.
Before capping Sebastian, Jasper paused. There was something wrong with this picture. But of course! Grabbing one armrest, and giving his lover a smirk, the platinum haired man made the chair turn to face the crowd.
Sebastian tried to relax when he saw what Jasper’s intention was. He tried not meeting anyone’s gaze, but that was nearly impossible. He settled for looking at his lap, his fingers rubbing his clammy palms absentmindedly. ‘This is turning better and better’ he thought with a shudder.
Jasper stood behind the chair. With a deliberate intent on effect, he made the cape clap in the air a few times, before making it sail through the air to press it against Sebastian’s neck. The breeze this created made the flames of the candles dance and flicker erratically. A few were even snuffed out, their coils of smoke rising and fogging the air around them, creating a air of mystic that only added to the ceremony. And the people around them were helplessly mesmerized.
The cape was tightened around his neck with a little more force than necessary, but Sebastian didn’t mind. On the contrary, this only made him even more entranced and further seated in the scenario he had created.
As he was fastening the cape, the barber thought of how he should start the impending offering. He was of a mind to start straight down the middle, from forehead to nape. But then, an even better idea presented itself. To have Sebastian bow his head, to run the clipper up from his nape to his forehead instead, while he was in that prostrate position.
Yes. That was how it would go. It was the only way it COULD go.
Sebastian tried regulating his breathing. ‘In, one, two, three, out, one two, three…’ he chanted in his mind. It was the only thing keeping him sane and controlled at that moment.
From where he stood behind the chair, the barber held his hand out again, this time waiting for Scarlet to hand him the clipper. As with Nicolas, the woman gave the machine, and ducked back to her waiting position. He grasped it in his hand, bringing it up to his eyes. It was new, and already oiled. Sebastian must have had the liberty to do so before the performance.
Jasper did some minor adjustments, making sure the clipper would shear as close to the scalp as possible. Once satisfied, he turned it on and off a few times, the loud snaps making everyone in the room flinch. A look at the raven showed he was not fazed. After all, he had gotten used to the sound over the years.
Sweat beaded the younger man’s brow. He was breathing deeply. He could almost hear his heart pounding. From where his hands were resting on the armrests, just only slightly peeking from under the cape, he could see them clenching the chair. His knuckles were white with strain. The fact that Jasper was prolonging his torture only worsened the situation, but also heightened his senses. And with his sensitive hearing, he could make out the ruffling of his boyfriend’s clothes as he came closer to him.
Jasper didn’t move for a while. His eyes bore into the back of Sebastian’s skull.
"What is it that you want?" Jasper asked after a spell of silence, the baritone of his voice loud and thunderous, while still gentle, in the large room.
Sebastian hadn’t expected his lover to speak to him during this part of the performance. He didn’t falter however; he responded, "To worship you, my Lord."
Nothing for a moment. Then, "Why?"
Sebastian loosened and tightened his grip on the chair in thought. "Do I need a reason to want to devote myself to you, my Lord?"
Jasper chuckled. "Then show them" the pale man pointed to the crowd before them. "Show them how devout you are and bow your head for me."
Jasper’s hand placed itself on his crown, aiding Sebastian in tilting his head down to his chest. How he had longed for this, for three brutally long months. And now it was finally happening. To be rid of his hair once again.