Now Sleep:

They'd been friends for about three years, the two of them, neither really knowing why they'd become friends in high school. Neither of them could place why they'd stuck together all freshman year. All they knew was what burned inside them, and that it was maybe a sin and definitely not normal.

People sometimes asked if they were brothers because they spent every possible waking moment together. Other than that, all they had in common to make people think they were related was dark hair.

One had fair skin, the other cocoa-brown. One had blue eyes, the other gray-green. One was tall and thin as a flagpole, the other shorter and muscled. One was a swimmer, the other a runner. One never swore, the other had a vocabulary woven from hellfire. One was experienced in the ways of the world; the other… had no idea who he was.

It was an amazing bafflement how they'd stayed friends. Mostly, it was information, rather lack thereof. They knew it would have to change someday. The first days of summer held a foreboding promise. It started with the drinking.

Our brown-skinned, gray-green-eyed swimmer's parents let the two boys have the backyard all by themselves most nights. The fair-skinned, blue-eyed runner's parents left their liquor cabinet unlocked. This went on for a few nights, until the fair one got away with more gin than usual. They were sitting against the fence, the pair of them, and he drank more than he ought to have.

Under the influence of the air-light, burning-bitter liquid, he exploded in a rant about how his mind would never be acceptable to society because of what it held. Devon, the stolen bottle of gin resting between him and his moody, drunk friend on the ground, listened in anguish as his bones turned to water at the words. His fair one, his Alexei, has wept then, over his duinne, his brown one, his Devon.

"The sad part is," Alexei had said, standing over him, "I know what's going on, and you don't". He'd held Devon's face in his hands just then, for a second. "It's gonna destroy us. I feel it." He touched their foreheads as he cried, letting go after one moment that felt excruciatingly like somewhere around 100 years.

Devon had forced himself to forget in the morning, because Alexei did not remember, or if he did, he did not say. Devon only touched his own cheek and came away with dried salt and from Alexei's tears, the tracks tinged gray from his kohl eyeliner mixing in. He'd cried too.

The second night, Alexei did not drink, but Devon did, miserably looking at the bottom of the gin bottle and cursing his ability to hold liquor, cursing the empty, unappetizing summer-to-come, and finally, as the gin took hold, the workings of his own mind.

"I don't know what goes on in my own head," he confessed, "Everything I've ever learned about anything makes me wrong, but it feels weirdly right." He'd thrown a hurt, searching albeit unfocused glance at Alexei. "Do you know what I'm talking about?"

Despite having imbibed nothing, as soon as Devon went inside and slept Alexei left, and was violently sick in someone else's hedges on his way home, sick with his secret, with Devon's secret, with his wanting, with Devon's absolute unfounded trust. The next morning they met to go skateboarding. He said nothing.

The days stretched on, long, hot, summer days with no end, during which they stuck together, frequently pausing when their conversation strayed to the events that both of them had sworn to keep corked in the empty gin bottle in Devon's backyard. Smelling faintly of old juniper and tears, the words would swirl in a sapphire-silver-green haze from one of their mouths, making the other want to stab themselves or breathe the poison in, desperately completing the scene with their mouths meeting.

In the back row of the movie theatre, not paying attention to the picture but the light of the screen on the face of their companion, they died slowly. The days were a series of jagged, sweet moments of eyes lingering a second too long on eyes and bodies drenched in sweat not entirely from the hot sun above and the hot pavement below, but from some other source, usually right by their side.

The places in town grew old; the movie theatre of torture and the smell of stale popcorn, the skate park where the ramps were slick with tears, the arcade where the girls would flick their hair at both of them, making them quietly, slightly sick. They decided that the only thing to do was to make their own place. And so they did.

They centered the tent in Devon's backyard over where the empty gin bottle now lay buried, undeterred by the hard-packed earth, still spilling its secret haze in the shadows of the tortured boys' eyes. The day was spent with the door-flaps open, music blaring, sometimes silence as they lay inside and talked.

"What do you think about death?" Devon asked suddenly one day out of a comfortable silence, string up at the roof of the tent.

Alexei's stomach had jolted, but he casually answered, "I don't know. Death and dying isn't my thing. I wanna live while I can." He'd gestured around the tent. "Why the fuck are you thinking about death right now?"

"No reason," he'd murmured softly, gazing at the bare, muscled arms of his friend, the blue eyes that held worry masked by mirth, and something deeper… an unutterable tenderness that he refused to acknowledge as real. "No reason at all."

They slept there with the roof thrown back to watch the stars long into the night. They awoke to sunlight and a cool breeze that ruffled the dark hair of whoever still slept, choking the emotion in the throat of the wakened one. Often Alexei would be the one awake in the mornings, skimming his fingertips over the bare skin of Devon's back, letting the tears slip down his face whispering 'mo duinne, mo duinne', 'my brown one, my brown one', over and over, until his cheek pressed to his pillow in exhaustion, watching Devon breathe until he woke.

Sometimes Devon would wake in the moonlight to find his fair one's skin bleached white-velvet. He would watch the dark eyelashes flutter, watch Alexei breathing in small, shuddering sighs, his own chest growing so tight he had to hug his knees and rock back and forth to still the tremors in his body. The iron band grew so tight around his chest some nights that he had to weep, if only to keep from touching Alexei. He knew if he touched he would be unable to stop touching. God knows what kind of beating he'd get then…

All this ended when it rained. It had been predicted by the weather-man, and Devon's mother had made the tortured young heroes take down their fortress. They'd spent that afternoon in stony silence, ripping down their place of sugar-tinged pain.

"So. Where are you sleeping tonight?" Devon asked slowly as he packed the tent in its box, moving as slowly as his voice, as though subconsciously trying to make the moment last.

Alexei leaned against the wall of the house. "My place, I guess. You wanna stay with me?"

"Sure, I guess. That'll be cool."

They both flicked their glances to the spot where the gin bottle reposed.

Devon's mother made them come inside when the sky clouded. She agreed to let Devon go to Alexei's, not aware that fair one's parents were not at home. There was no empty gin bottle there, but nor were there any full ones to be found, either. His parents had gotten wise to the game, and had no drink in the house. From Devon's view, this was going to make it exceptionally hard to stay there. But he would do it… for Alexei, for the love of Alexei.

The rain pounded the windows that night. The boys in the TV room watched an old movie when they grew tired of playing video games. The movie was in black-and-white, with a silver-eyed heroine in a gooey gown making advances on an obviously steroid-positive leading man. It was, needless to say, horribly boring, but they kept it on because they needed the noise to fill the charged air, anything to smother the silence that dripped from the walls like so much blood and tears.

Eventually Alexei slept gently on the couch, his long, red-streaked bangs fluttering in and out with his breathing. Devon, painfully awake, had wondered what it would come to… he wondered if he cut his wrists, would Alexei let him press himself into his arms so he could die there? If he took the sleeping pills he knew were hidden in the back of the medicine cabinet down the hall, would Alexei allow him one dying kiss? He shook the morose thoughts out of his head, and decided to go take the ultimate cold shower.

The rain felt cold, blunt yet razor-edged and wonderful, mixed with dull pain, on his bare shoulders. His stomach muscles tightened in the cold, he blew out breaths of tortured air that caught the drops of water that ran down his face, but he did not consider going back. The rain was washing him clean of all emotions that might conflict him this night. He knew what he was, at long last, and he knew who he loved. He feared that his own heart would shatter when his thoughts strayed to the contents of Alexei's. There was no way, in his mind, that this would ever work.

He might have stayed out all night, all eternity, if Alexei hadn't grabbed him by the wrist and hauled him indoors, cursing and worried. He slammed the glass door and gave his friend a critical once-over, still holding his wrist securely in the circle of his hand.

"The pants will dry," he said critically, "but where's your shirt?"

"Outside, of course," was Devon's jaunty reply, so incongruent to how his insides churned with sobbing and joy simply at the sound of his fair one's voice. The tortured, impatient sigh that Alexei gave next nearly killed him.

"I can give you a sweater," said his voice, somewhere deep in Devon's mind.

Up to Alexei's bedroom they trekked, Devon in increasing pain with each step toward the very private room. The sweater that went over Devon's bare chest was far too long-sleeved and nearly reached his knees, striped black-and-white and smelling like Alexei so strongly he wanted to weep. He glanced in the mirror.

"I look like an emo candy cane."

Alexei fell back on his bed laughing while Devon looked at himself in the mirror, Alexei marveling at how his sweater looked so perfect on Devon's body. He nearly died when Devon fell over onto the bed beside him and shut his eyes with a little moan. Lying full-length on the bed with Devon beside him, atop the covers, just breathing, it never occurred to him that there was a world outside his door. All that lived was the rain, his brown one, and his own heart, which beat a fearful rhythm of a million drums against his chest.

Years passed in a few seconds. Soon an hour was gone in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Somewhere in the room, a gray-green pair of eyes glanced in a tortured fashion at the fair face of what could not be had.

Something in Alexei snapped. "God-fucking-dammit, I can't sit here like this any fucking more! Devon! I…" As Alexei's voice cracked, Devon's began.

"I know. I'm… I mean… it's me. I'll go." He shifted to get off the bed, get out of the house, and go wherever, anywhere but there. He thought he was causing Alexei pain.

"GO? What the hell are you talking about?" Alexei pounced on top of Devon to stop him leaving, his arms and legs forming a tight cage around his brown one's body. His arms pressed the coverlet on either side of Devon's shoulders, his legs hardly an inch on either side of the boy's knees. If he had been lying down, his face would have been buried in the other boy's neck. "Devon, are you insane? Please, God, say yes," he murmured, tearing his eyes away from Devon's face. He thought that maybe if Devon was insane, when he told him the truth he might not go.

"I'm not insane, Alexei. But dear god, it would be easier if I were," Devon said brokenly, painfully aware of Alexei's scent in a cloud around him, lavender and spice and something else, untraceable, irreplaceable, unforgettable.

"What do you mean?" Alexei asked, his own voice trembling as he looked at Devon again, whose eyes were closed and his face as if in pain.

His eyes opened, gray-green with thick black lashes, and he looked through Alexei's blue eyes into his soul. "You know what I mean," he said in a voice somewhere between a growl and a sob.

Alexei noticed that Devon was shaking, and then the meaning of the words hit him. Then he began to shake as well. His trembling limbs gave way under his weight, and he collapsed onto Devon. It took him awhile, through the haze of the secrets escaping as they breathed, to realize that he was crying. The noise must have been clear. He was almost like a child, crying into Devon's shoulder, tears of relief and bitter joy.

Devon took it all wrong. "I'm so sorry," he said, his voice a heart-wrenching, broken whimper. He very tenderly wiped away the few tears that hadn't soaked into the shoulder of the sweater.

Alexei pushed himself up on his elbows and looked at Devon, shifting so their faces were looking directly level. "You are not sorry," he said, "I am. I could have told you before and we would have had all that time in the tent. I am such a selfish bastard."

Devon registered shock, pleasure, surprise. "What?" he asked and Alexei rolled his eyes.

"I'm gay, weirdo. Didn't you fucking notice?"

"Oh… wow, um…" Devon stammered, a look of relief and adoration on his face. "M-me too. I mean, well duh, but, I mean, uh…"

"Shut up," Alexei said in a low laugh. He shifted his body a little, so the lower halves of their bodies rested together. Then he lowered his head to Devon's, his eyes closing as he rested their foreheads together for a moment. His lips sought his mouth, slipped his tongue in, and lost himself in the fiery, sweet taste of his mouth. The heat seared through Alexei's body, his tongue fought with Devon's and their breath mixed before them when they stopped.

"I've been imagining doing that for… so long…" Alexei murmured his voice husky and low.

Devon's breath came sharp. "I've… wanted you, too… god, you're… you're wonderful," he said, and in answer, Alexei slipped one of his hands behind Devon's neck, took both of his wrists in the other hand, and pinned them against the headboard.

He breathed close to Devon's face, staring in his eyes, but did not kiss him. Devon reached out and traced the outline of Alexei's lips with his tongue, leaving a wet trail in a perfect outline. Alexei's reaction was to this was to gently bite Devon's tongue, then his lower lip, which he amended with a kiss. Devon's arms strained half-heartedly to free themselves, but Alexei held him fast as he teased Devon with a slow, various kiss, now caressing his lips lightly with his tongue, now lightly feathering his lips with warm, fluttering kisses, suddenly deep and searching, making Devon moan aloud. His breathing came in short pants, and Alexei grinned when his lower body told him just why.

He let go of Devon's wrists, took his face carefully in two hands as he had that night long ago, and muttered in a pleasantly rasping voice, "Wow, boy, you weren't kidding when you said you wanted me, were you?" Devon's face grew hot in the shadowed room. He was blushing, which made Alexei laugh. "Stop that," and he added in a husky whisper, "I want you too."

Devon's body shuddered in pleasure as Alexei stripped him of the sweater and traced the lines of his chest with interested fingertips, gently kissing his collarbone and neck. Devon reached up and returned the favor, tugging Alexei's shirt off. When they lowered their bodies together, Alexei sighed in pleasure.

Devon twirled a lock of Alexei's hair around his finger. "I love it when you sigh," he murmured, letting go of the hair and tilting Alexei's chin up. "Kiss me, please."

They rocked together for a long minute, feeling as though their minds would never clear the fog away. Devon's breathing quickened again, and this time Alexei wasted no time undoing the waistband of Devon's jeans.

Alexei was grinning. Devon was mortified. Alexei reacted first. He brushed his fingertips over the head of Devon's cock and listened to the strangled moaning sound Devon made with glee. His hand circled the stiff rod slowly, moved back and forth in what Devon, through the mind-aching pleasure he was getting, thought to be an odd parody of masturbation. That comparison ended when the heat of Alexei's mouth engulfed him.

His hips shot off the bed and a loud moan burst from him, his nerve endings exploding as Alexei's tongue swirled over the length of him, caressing the tip and delving into his slit. He moaned and screamed and one of his hands tangled into Alexei's hair. The boy stopped his attentions and pulled back sufficiently to grin.

"Beg me." He said simply, the tip of his tongue darting out and licking his lips.

"N-no way," Devon said. "You're insane."

Alexei grinned. "Stubborn bastard. You'll pay for that," he said, and without another word began to run the tip of his tongue in small patterns down and around Devon's shaft, stimulating sweet spots for short moments, and then moving on to different areas, once in awhile covering the hard rod totally and sucking on it, long enough to make Devon scream in pleasure.

"Beg. Me." Alexei repeated, growling as menacingly as he could, which was pathetic. He didn't need to sound mean.

"Oh, G-god, please Alexei, PLEASE!"

When Alexei settled himself back on Devon's chest, he was breathing almost normally. "Where the hell did you learn that?" he asked, and Alexei answered truthfully, "Dirty magazines. And I TOLD you I knew what was going on." Devon laughed, twirling a bit of Alexei's damp hair around his finger.

He looked at his flat, hard chest pressed against Alexei's equally flat, hard chest, and noticed that, though Alexei was on top, he fit into the curves of his body like they had been made for him.

"Alexei?" he asked in a heart-pounding revelation.

"Hmm?" Alexei murmured, kissing him quickly.

"I love you."

"I love you too, mo duinne. My brown one. Now sleep."

The End.



Was the most graphic, ridiculously fluffy, slashy, lemony piece of yaoi shit I have ever written in my fucking life.

I'm sorry; it's 3 AM and I'm picking up Alexei's vocabulary.

Still. I want to hear your favorite lines!!! My personal favorite?

"I look like an emo candy cane."

Murdered me, that.

Was the slash too crass? Was the lemon too blunt? Did I end it in the wrong place? (I just couldn't write any more of it.)

You WILL reveiw, right? Pleasepleaseplease?

GOOD reader!!!

-MC Bella