Epilogue

The bus station led them home again and Siren relayed his tearful story of how Flavian had killed everyone. Adrian didn't say much, and so no one paid much attention to him. Siren took center stage, and Adrian had to wonder whether he actually believed the things he was saying or if he was just an amazing actor. He'd thought Flavian was the only actor.

Of course, there was a trial. It was short, because it only involved Flavian's death. It was defense and not murder, they said, because they hadn't seen his body cut in half, his torso lying a foot away from his legs. Of course they'd made an investigation, but Siren "couldn't possibly find the place again" because of the "psychological stress." If they'd found the house, it wouldn't have been recognizable. It would've been burnt to the ground with little evidence left behind, especially with the scientific deficiencies of the time.

And after the trial Siren held his hand and leaned softly, tiredly into his side and murmured that he loved him and it broke his heart and he could feel himself crying again. Siren never told him he cried too often or chastised him for his weakness, because he understood, even if he didn't know the reasons why. Siren was better off not knowing why.

Siren spent most of his time in Adrian's apartment. He went to school, then to work, but never back home. Adrian never asked him about it because he knew better. Siren would handle it when he could.

They'd missed a few days of school, their spring break having been extended by violent circumstances, and their classmates gawked at them as they passed by in the hall. Whispers followed them, but whispers were easy enough to ignore. It even became effortless to ignore the looks they got—confusion, pity, hatred.

There was a mass funeral for all of them, even Flavian, paid for by Adrian. He'd decided to put his father's money to good use. The coffins all lacked bodies, and were instead filled with notes and tokens from the people who had known them. Siren stood, black-clad, next to him at the rainy funeral, the umbrella in Adrian's hands shielding them from the wetness. It wasn't Marlette's umbrella. It was black, fitting the occasion as well as the pools of mud that rose in the open graves.

Siren spoke about each one of them kindly when the time came for it, his voice perfect and unfaltering. Adrian knew that he was falling apart from the inside with every word, but he refused to show everyone. He would cry when they were alone. They'd criticize him either way—call him weak if he cried, call him unfeeling if he didn't.

Final exams had never seemed less important.The two didn't do much. They enjoyed the comfort of a familiar warmth beside them, but little else. There wasn't room for much else, with Adrian so prone to self-disdain and Siren still nervous about concepts like love. There were too many thin lines there, and it would be easier to stay away than to try to avoid crossing them.

There would, perhaps, be time later. And if there wasn't…

"You'll wait out here… please?" Siren said, his hand on the door tentatively.

Adrian set the brake and turned off the engine, crossing his arms. If you take too long, or if I hear something I don't like… I'm coming in."

Siren nodded. "All right," he said, and turned down the walk. The house was ugly, the yard unkempt and the beige paint chipping off the sides. The flower beds beside the door were filled with dead roses.

Siren unlocked the door with his rusty key and stepped quietly inside, his eyes scanning the dark room. His heart clenched when he saw his mother on the couch, chain-smoking with an ashtray full of cigarette butts and wads of gum on the sofa arm beside her.

They looked almost exactly alike, as if God had been tired and had simply recast the same face. Maybe his mother had longer hair and badly done makeup and a feminine figure, but that was where the dissimilarities ended. It nearly made him sick just to look at her and think: that's me, that's me. But… not anymore. He steeled himself and stepped forward.

She spoke up, her voice slurred and unfocused, "Why are you here? You could've had the decency to die with your friends, you know," she bit out.

Siren smiled, but it was almost frightening in its joy. "But then who would cook for your 'boyfriends', Mother?" he asked, innocent and childlike. "After all, whores can't be expected to have more than one talent."

Her eyes widened beneath their garish blue shadow and heavy mascara. She stood, fury in her eyes and cigarette in hand. Sometimes she smoked worse things. "Don't you dare talk to your mother that way!" she shrieked, slapping him across the face. Her cigarette burned into his cheek, but he didn't make a sound.

He stepped away from her, standing in front of the endtable. There were a lot of things strewn across it—old magazines, the covers with scantily-clad women faded from beauty; recklessly disposed of condom wrappers; the plastic you tear off when you open a pack of cigarettes; cheap, false romances piled high—and an old lamp. It had colored glass, red and green in the shape of cherries. His mother loved it and always had, even though now it was blood-streaked from where she'd killed his father.

Siren had never touched the lamp, paralyzed with fear whenever he reached out to dust it. It was too close to his mother's heart, and he'd been afraid of the consequences if he'd accidentally knocked it over and shattered its crimson pieces across the floor. His lips parted in a beautiful, breathtaking smile, one of the rare true smiles he gave as he grabbed it by its base, yanked it out of the wall, and dropped it onto the hardwood floor with a crash.

"No!" his mother half-screamed, half-sobbed, dropping to the floor and scrambling to pick up the pieces with bare fingers. Siren turned, murmured, "Goodbye, Mother," gently, and walked out the door. It swung quietly shut behind him as he went down the short driveway and to the street.

"Are you all right?" the blue-eyed teen asked curiously.

"Yeah," Siren said, opening the passenger door and flopping into the leather seat.

"What was that all about anyway?"

"I killed her," Siren replied; he closed the door and fastened his seatbelt, Adrian leaning over to kiss him just as his mother emerged from the house, wailing like a banshee and mascara running in black lines down her face. Adrian was smiling gently at him, in the way he had before, when they parted.

"You're so silly and literature-minded."

"Yeah?" Siren breathed.

"It's cute," Adrian murmured against his lips.

Siren's lips quickly parted in invitation, but Adrian had to break away and speed off before Siren's mother reached the car. "Did you get everything you needed?" Adrian asked, glancing at Siren for a moment before turning his eyes back to the road.

He nodded. "I got it last night when she was out. But I had to come back when she was here to return some favors, is all… thanks for picking me up."

"Of course," Adrian remarked. He hadn't even known Siren had left last night… he realized how easily Siren could disappear, and it made him reach over and grab the other's hand. "Please, don't ever leave me."

Chocolate eyes stared at him. "Why would I leave?"

Adrian gave a relieved sigh, his fingers relaxing. "Right. Sorry."

After graduation the two had left, as Adrian said, "to find a place where we can buy a nickel paper from one of those machines outside of convenience stores and we don't see our faces staring back at us". Siren had replied, "I don't think that such a place exists…" but he had followed Adrian anyway. After all, Adrian was all he had.

Their journey had taken them far from home, spanning several days of Adrian driving and singing along to his Bonnie Tyler tapes and Siren sitting quietly with his bare feet on the dash. In every small town they went through, Adrian would stop to get gas while Siren peered at the papers near the door. Most of the time they'd meet back at the car and Siren would nod sadly at Adrian, and Adrian would pull him into an embrace that reeked of gas fumes and whisper that everything would be all right in the end.

Most of the time they slept in the car, Adrian in the front and Siren in the back. Sometimes Siren would drive through the cold, quiet nights, but he didn't much like it. The night frightened him, and sometimes even when they bedded down for the night his sad brown eyes would catch Adrian's and so the other would climb into the back with him and they'd sleep on the cramped seats together, a seat belt buckle or two always pressing painfully into someone's side. But neither of them complained.

It was two weeks after they'd begun their journey when they finally found what they'd been searching for. It was at the edge of the country, a cold wintry place in all but the blinding summer. When Siren met Adrian at the car with a smile on his face, Adrian leaned toward him and kissed his cheek. "Is this place all right for you?" he asked, breathing in Siren's ear.

"It's fine," Siren answered.

"All right. Then we'll stay here."

The town was small, and took notice of the two almost immediately. Everyone loved Siren for his sunny smiles and polite demeanor, although they wondered at the fact that he lived with Adrian. Many criticized their lifestyle, but eventually the rumors told by the neighbors quieted as they became a part of the community. They had never cared about the harsh words in the first place—they had been through much worse.

No one in the town knew who they were or what they'd been through, and they liked it that way. It was easier to forget, to calm the memory-devil inside, when there were few reminders. Of course, the time they'd spent in that house was impossible to forget…

"It'll haunt us forever, won't it?" Siren asked one night, standing on the back porch and leaning against the wood railing. He shivered, pulling his jacket closer around his body.

Adrian sighed. "I'm sorry," he murmured, stumbling over to the brunet and pulling him into his arms. He pressed a kiss to the other's hair and leaned his chin on Siren's shoulder.

"Don't apologize—it's not your fault," Siren said, his breath escaping in visible puffs of air. It was awfully frigid out and anyone in their right mind would be huddled inside, beside a roaring fire, but Siren had never had much common sense and so Adrian had to protect him from himself as best as he could.

An anxious breath blew against Siren's neck, and Adrian's teeth chattered. He wanted to confess, it was at the tip of his tongue, but… he didn't think he could stand it if Siren found out. Siren would leave him, and probably report him to the police, but that wouldn't matter because without Siren life would be worthless anyway. He couldn't bear to lose Siren, so he didn't say anything, just took him by his ice-block hands, led him inside, and kissed him until he was warm again.

Their life was idyllic, or as idyllic as it could be with such a dark past hanging over both their heads. As always they smiled happily for their neighbors, but together, at night, there were quiet, sad moments as well as joyous, loving ones.

On some nights Adrian would wake up to find Siren's arms wrapped tightly around his torso and a shuddering body pressed to his. Tears would shine against Siren's cheeks in the moonlight, and he'd murmur, "I know, I know," in a broken voice. It was times like those that he'd have to gently shake Siren awake, peer down into his glossy rose-deep eyes, and brush away the tears with the pads of his fingers. Then Siren would curl into him, resting his head against Adrian's chest with limbs and sheets in an impossible tangle between them, and lie and say nothing was wrong (some of Siren's habits even Adrian couldn't break).

Adrian always wondered what he meant, but he was too afraid to ask by the time Siren's tears had tried salty against his cheeks and the pale morning light drifted, ethereal, through the curtains.

Their lives went on—not normally, but with bumps and detours along the way, just like everyone else's lives.

And everything was all right, as long as they had each other.

AN: Ahhhhhhhhh, it's over! This makes me very sad. ;; Well, I hope you all enjoyed this story and thanks so much to everyone who reviewed! And for those of you who have lusted in your hearts for more Scottie Socks, never fear-- I have some one-shots planned out. Yayyyyy! Anyway, thanks for reading and I hope you'll stay tuned for more stories and bits of fiction from the one and only Rabid Walrus Fairy!

Row, row, row your boat...