A/N: Also a bit late. And LONG, man, 22 pages. But….also completed (MYFIRSTCOMPLETEDNONONESHOTSTORY). Yay me! And still unbeta-ed.

And ZOMG up the rating in this one! Well, sorta. Because of sorta-semi-not-sex. Just a warning.

Part III: Waning

The battered tin mailbox zoomed into view much sooner than he had remembered, and Holm nearly missed the turn off to the dirt road, tires of his dad's new truck squealing and biting at the paved road as they bumped off onto the path. It was nearing four o'clock but long shadows were cast from the trees, shading the narrow road.

The road was a lot less rough and a lot less long with the smooth suspension of his dad's new truck, which Holm had only halfway-asked permission for borrowing on this trip up the mountain. The clearing at the bottom of the valley opened up from the tree line startlingly fast, and the truck bounced into the open field. Simon's house loomed dark and shadowed at the edge, backed up against the line of trees.

Holm pulled to a stop in front of the house, not even bothering to be subtle about his presence. Not that the bright red paint of the truck was subtle in the first place. The truck settled into stillness one Holm killed the ignition, shoving the cab door open with his foot. He slid to the ground, pocketing the keys in his jacket.

He brushed his hair behind his ears and ducked to glance in the side mirror. After seventeen years of keeping his hair at a respectable, business cut length, he'd decided a few months ago it was time for a change. His mother was horrified. But he'd discovered that his hair curled at the ends when it got longer. He kind of liked it. It made his face look less angular and thin.

Holm straightened, jamming his hands into his pockets. The air in the valley was just as chilly now, in mid-summer, as it had been in spring. A little breeze pushed at his hair and snapped at his jacket as he looked up at the house. In the shadowy light of the falling afternoon, he could see that, once again, every light in Simon's house was on.

"Nothing's different," he muttered, then caught the fact he was talking to himself, and bit his tongue. Pushing through the tall grasses, he made his way up to the porch and clomped up the stairs, watching any of the windows for signs of movement. There was none.

Holm stepped up to the front door. He knocked, loudly, several times, then stepped back to wait. He was prepared for that this time. The wind snapped through his clothes, but he was wearing more of them this time.

It took a solid minute, but Holm heard muttering as someone inside approached the door. "I can't fucking believe this again…." The door was flung open. "What? You'd better have….what. What the hell. Holm?"

Simon's dark hair had grown as well, and was pulled into a spiky little ponytail behind his head. There was a dying cigarette between his lips. His features twisted up, and he looked almost ready to throw the door shut again. Holm took a step forward and blocked the doorway with an arm before he could.

"Hey," he said. "What's up?"

Simon let him in, even if his narrowed eyes tracked Holm darkly, and he had taken the cigarette out of his mouth to dig one canine tooth into his lower lip.

"What are you doing up here again?" he said as soon as the door swung shut. Holm turned to him with a shrug.

"Visiting," he said. "Wanted to see how you were doing. How's your arm?"

"All better," Simon sneered. He rolled up his sleeve, revealing a thick, silvery scar across his upper arm. "Doctor patched it up all right. Better than you."

"Of course," Holm replied, unfazed. "He's a real doctor."

"Yeah. There, now you visited, now you have to fucking leave."

"Hey, I thought we were beyond all this hostile shit." Holm took a step towards him, touched his arm. Simon jerked away.

"Why do you do this to me, goddammit?" Simon jabbed his cigarette out in the ashtray on the little table, then pulled the front door open again. "You—you have to leave. Go. Right now."


"No! No, I'm serious this time! Your truck is working this time, you have to go. It…it is working, isn't it?"

Holm nodded. "Yeah, it is. But I—"

"But nothing! Leave! Get the fuck out! I can't believe you—coming up here again—I fucking hate you."

The last sentence was said in such cold fury that Holm took a physical step back.

"Okay," he said. "Okay, I'm….I'm sorry. I'll go. I really—I'm sorry."

Simon was actually breathing harder, and his hands rolled up into fists at his sides.

"Yeah," he spat out. "Go."

"I—okay. Yeah."

Holm backed up until he hit the door, fumbling for the knob. He kept watching Simon, hoping for….anything. A change. But the man didn't even look at him, just reached into his pocket for a cigarette carton. Holm opened the door and turned, walking out. He got off the porch before his steps slowed, and he faltered.

"Keep fucking going!" he heard Simon yell. "I mean it!

"I am going!"

"Do it fucking faster then!"

"Fuck you!"

"Yeah, well, you first!"

"Oh, like that's real fucking mature—"

"Would you just stop—"

"You fucking stop—"

They both broke off, glaring. Simon's features were jumping all over his face, creasing and twitching and tightening. Holm shook his head.

"Yeah, fine. Whatever. I'll go. Sorry if I, you know—cared, or anything. Or fucking, like…you know, screw it, never mind. I'm leaving."

Holm clenched his back teeth together and strode into the tall grass, something burning in his chest. Anger and upset often felt the same, he wasn't sure which one was hurting him more. When he got to the truck, he stopped beside it and leant against the door. He wasn't exactly sure what he'd expected, doing this, but it wasn't this. He'd tried. He'd thought he'd interpreted Simon right but….


Holm startled and turned—Simon was still in the doorway and was staring at him, jaw set.

"What?" Holm said, a little sharply. He turned back to the truck, closed his fingers around the door handle.

"Wait, don't—I don't hate you!" Simon said, his voice raising. "Wait—"

Anger just burned harder. "Yeah, right!"

"No, Holm, I don't! I really…"

Holm glanced backwards again. Simon was now leaning against the doorframe, his forehead pressed against the wood. His eyes were squeezed shut, his fisted hand digging against the frame.

"What?" Holm roared back at him. "What do you want to say?"

"I kind of like you, okay?" Simon bellowed, jerking away from the door. "But that's only because I never see other people, so you need to go the fuck away because you're a goddamn minor and you're probably straight and I don't need this! So just—yeah—get the fuck out of here, okay?"

"You like me? Then what the fuck, Simon? You're the most ungrateful asshole I've ever met, and I'm supposed to believe that shit was actually liking me? You are fucked up!"

"I know that!" Simon bawled. "You think I don't know that? You—fuck, get away! Stop walking! Don't come back over here! What the fuck are you do—"

Simon shut up abruptly when Holm grabbed the front of his collar and shoved him up against the outer wall of the house.

"You shut up," Holm growled. "I'm sick of you—fucking sick of you."

"Then why are you here?"

"Because you completely fascinate me," Holm said, softer now. "I don't know why." He turned Simon and pushed him back through the door, walking him into the house.

Simon's eyes glittered, and he reached blindly behind him for something to hold onto. "Stop," he breathed. "Don't."


"Because you're—"

"I'm gay," Holm said, and Simon's heels hit the bottom of the stairs, "I'm not underage," Simon made a wild grab at the banister before he fell across the stairs, Holm falling with him, "and I kind of like you too."

Simon's eyes widened, and a hand clenched in the back of Holm's hair and Holm never knew whether he pulled Simon up or Simon pulled him down but their faces were seared together, lips hot and wet and open, unforgiving fingers digging into soft skin and biting into bone through muscle, angled bodies knocking together. Holm slipped and his knee hit the edge of a stair and he hissed in a breath, sucking air from Simon's mouth. The other man grabbed his hair and his shoulders again and shifted him, tilting him back in place and Holm readily went. He pushed his hips down against Simon's and it seemed to be that, finally which broke everything.

Simon pulled back and Holm leaned up and they stared at each other, swallowing and panting. Holm was straddling Simon's waist and the position was uncomfortable, but it had to be more so for Simon, who had wooden stairs pressing into his spine. But the man was smiling dizzily, almost goofily. Then his expression stiffened, and he started to push Holm away.

"No," he muttered. "No, I—get off me!"

Holm fell back. "What? I already told you—I'm a gay non-minor. What the hell's your problem?"

"Many, many fucking things," Simon said. "And you're not a non-minor!"

"I'm not sixteen anymore."

"That's—not—get the hell off me!"

Holm tumbled off, landing on his back on the stairs. Simon leapt up, pacing to the door.

"Leave," he said shortly. "Now. Please."


"I'll—I'll have you arrested for trespassing!"

Holm snorted. "You wouldn't call the police up here. Either way, you don't have a phone."

"Oh, fuck you." Simon stomped back to the stairs and threw himself down next to Holm. "How do you do that?"

"Do what?"

"Know me. You don't know me and yet you…know everything."

"Because you're predictable. You're reclusive and bitter and that makes you easy to guess."

Simon curled his lip into a sneer. "So what am I going to do now?"

Holm shrugged. "I have no idea."

"Yeah," Simon said. He dropped his forehead against the heels of his hands. "Neither do I."

The silence had finally gotten awkward enough that they had both gotten up, making muttered embarrassed excuses and pushing past each other, Simon going upstairs and Holm going to the living room. He threw off his jacket, sat on the blue striped couch and slouched back, staring up at the high wood ceiling.

Simon started to pace on the landing; Holm could see the movement through the banister. The wood creaked occasionally as Simon roamed back and forth.

"Same fucking day," the man was muttering. "Same fucking day…the worst goddamn timing"

Holm threw himself upwards. "What are you babbling about up there?"

"Nothing! Shut up!" Simon came to the edge of the railing and leant over, thrusting a finger at him. "You. You have to leave."

"Sure, if you'll just tell me why," Holm said. Simon's face creased, his mouth drying into a thin little line. He pushed back from the railing and started pacing again. Holm sighed and threw himself back against the couch again.

"This is so stupid," he said beneath his breath.

"And you don't have to stay around for it!"

"Shit, you've got good hearing." Holm sat back up. "Just, Christ…stop sulking and come down here!"

"Fuck you!"

"Then I'm coming up!" Holm rose, and started up the stairs. "This is ridiculous, you aren't five, for God's sake…"

"Stay down there!" Simon yelled. When Holm started climbing the stairs anyway, he looked panicked and fled into his bedroom. The door slammed, and there was the thick clunk of a lock.

"You have to stay away from me!" Simon's voice was thick through the door. Holm stepped up to it and slammed the heel of his hand against the wood.


"Just believe me!"

"You know I don't even understand what this is about? What, you think I'm going to like…sexually harass you or something?"

"It's not about that!"

Holm hit the door again. "Then, Jesus Christ, Simon, what is it about?"

Silence for a minute, then, much lower, "just please leave. Please, Holm. I'm really, seriously asking you. This isn't about…anything you think."

"Is it so hard to tell me what it fucking is?"

"Yes! Is that what you want to hear?"

"Not really!"

"Then no!"

"I want to hear answers that are more than monosyllables!"

"Too fucking bad."

"Oh, two syllables, good start—"

"You know what, just—"The door flew open. Simon's arm thrust out, grabbed Holm's collar, and dragged him up against the frame. Holm's breath tripped in his throat, and his hands reached out and caught, snagged in the material of Simon's shirt. Simon glared at him, breathing though his teeth.

"Stop it," Simon breathed. "Just stop it. If you care, at all—you'll listen to me."

"That's not the way I care," Holm said. He moved one hand, from the front of Simon's shirt, to his shoulder, then neck, tugging at the other man. "I want to know. Help, if I can. At least understand something."

Simon was staring at Holm's roaming hand like it was a hideous spider. "Don't—" he said, his voice strangled. "Don't—"

"You can trust me, you know," Holm said. "I wish you would."

"It's…not about—"

Holm lowered his forehead to Simon's shoulder, and rested there. The other man stopped talking, and Holm felt all his muscles tense up.


"Shut up," Holm muttered. "Just…do that. For once."

Simon didn't speak again. He didn't move, but allowed Holm to lean against him. Holm brushed his palms at Simon's waist, let his hands rest there. Simon allowed that as well. Holm inhaled slowly, smelling the sharp odor of cigarettes and a deeper, earthier smell of pine trees and smoked wood. He moved his head, brushing his mouth against the side of Simon's neck. Simon didn't do anything. Holm slid his mouth up, just below Simon's ear.



Holm lifted his head, met Simon's eyes. The other man's tongue darted out to wet his lips, and his throat rolled. He shook his head. "Holm…"

Holm moved forward anyway, but stopped just before he reached Simon's mouth. He hesitated, feeling Simon's breath on his face. Simon was taller than him, he had to stretch to reach, and the position was hard to hold. He wrapped a hand around the back of Simon's neck to balance. That seemed break something.

"No, no. Not that. I will not do that." Simon said, shoving Holm away, hard. Holm rolled his eyes and stepped back up against him.

"Do you really think I'll be any different in eleven stupid months?"

"If only," Simon muttered, and Holm shoved him. "What?"

"Seriously. This stupid thing about consent or legality or whatever—dammit, you live in the backwoods fucking forest! Who's going to care?"

"Me!" Simon said. "Me, I'm going to care! You're sixteen! And it's not about that."


"Whatever! I'm eight years older than you!"


"What-fucking-ever! You're a kid! And it's not fucking about that."

"And you're a bitchy reclusive hermit. And I don't care." Holm grabbed Simon, turned him, walking him into the wall and trapping him there with his body. He could feel Simon's heart beating hard against his chest. "I don't care what it's about, or not about. I want this. And I'm pretty sure you want this. And I know you like to pretend you love to be alone, but you can't be, not really."

"Alone is better than people," Simon said. "I trust myself. I know myself. Only myself."

"Very self-pitying," Holm said. "But seriously. Simon. Do you really want to wait eleven months? Because, if you do…no problem. I'll leave. I can find other people no problem. I don't need you, really. Us meeting was an accident, after all…"

"Shut up," Simon said. He was staring to the left of Holm's head. But when Holm tried to step away, Simon caught his wrist. "Don't."

It was easier to step back against Simon's warm body, and Holm did. He rested his forehead against the slope of the other man's neck again and breathed in. He felt arms close loosely around his back this time, fingers catching in the material of his shirt. One hand drifted up and pushed into his hair, slowly stroking through it. They rested back against the wall, Holm pushing up a side of Simon's shirt to stroke the bared skin above his jeans with his thumb. Simon kept smoothing his hair, gently dragging his fingers through it.

"You're so nice when you don't talk," Holm mumbled, smiling into Simon's skin.

"Shut up," Simon said again, and the near-affectionate tone in his voice was so foreign that Holm laughed.

"So. Are you going to tell me what this is really about, then?" he asked.


"What can I do?"

"Nothing. You can't do anything."

"Can I stay?"


"Can I stay for just a little bit?"

A pause, and then, "just for a while."

"How long?"

"Don't fucking push it."

Holm laughed again. "Okay, okay."

Simon sighed, pushed off him, and went into the bedroom. Holm followed him.

"What are you doing?" Simon said.

"I'm…coming in," Holm said, pausing only briefly in the doorway, before going to sit on the edge of the bed. Simon faltered in the middle of the room, then his face rippled, went neutral, and he went and sat next to Holm.

"I didn't invite you in, you know," he said. His hand went for his shirt pocket. Holm grabbed it, stilled him.

"You never have. Don't smoke."

"And why the fuck not?"

"Because I want to do this." Holm slid his hands to either side of Simon's jaw, turned him, and pressed his mouth to Simon's. Simon went still. He didn't respond. Holm was about to pull back, when he felt a touch at the small of his back. A brush of fingers, which slowly pressed into the flat of a hand, resting along the curve of his spine.

"See, it isn't so bad," Holm said against Simon's mouth. Simon dislodged him, but gently.

"That's never what I was fighting against."

"Okay." Holm moved back in, catching Simon's mouth again. Simon moved back into him, his arm already around Holm's back tightening, drawing them closer. Holm threw his arms around Simon's shoulders, pressed back into the other man. The kiss grew messier, sloppier, Holm losing track of his hands and Simon's hands and where everything was except their faces and mouths and skin pressed together, slicking with sweat.

Then Simon slid his mouth away and rested his forehead against Holm's shoulder. Holm reeled, briefly, at the loss of contact and movement. Simon's other hand came up, rested at Holm's waist. Holm drifted his hands more gently around his shoulders, and held him.

Simon exhaled once, slowly. Then, "I'm not going to have sex with you."

Holm sighed. "Then what are you going to do?"

Simon breathed out again, air hot across the side of Holm's neck. "I don't know. Anything else."


"What? Sure. Anything that isn't sex."

Holm smirked, pulled back, and put his hands on Simon's chest, leaning his weight to push the man down to the bed. "Anything?"

"What—what are you doing? I don't—stop asking that. And stop making that face! And stop taking off my jeans!"

"You said," Holm grinned, sliding down the length of Simon's body. "Anything that wasn't sex."

"I—what!" Simon's head jerked back and hit the headboard. "Ow—fuck—wait, no, I didn't mean—"

"Too late."

"No, fuck, Holm, I didn't mean—do not do th…oh, shit. Shit, shit…oh, God, never mind, don't stop. Don't you fucking dare stop."

"You're a goddamn manipulative bastard, you know that?" Simon muttered. His arm was flung over his eyes, a sheen of sweat glossed over his skin. His chest pattered up and down, his shirt halfway unbuttoned. Holm crawled up next to him, grinning even though it made his sore jaw ache.

"Yeah," he said. "Probably."

"I should fucking kick you out," Simon said, but the words were droll and mumbled.

Holm ruffled his hand through Simon's damp hair. "Yeah, but you won't."

Simon's only response was a vague murmur.


No sound this time.

"Simon?" Holm shook him gently. The man snorted lightly and twitched.

He's asleep, Holm thought with a sort of giddy triumph. I'm good.

He shifted up closer to Simon, resting his head against the man's shoulder. He draped his arm around Simon's torso, and closed his own eyes.

Holm woke up to screaming.

Not like any screaming he'd ever heard. Screaming didn't even describe it—it was just the closest thing to what Holm was hearing. A terrible rending and twisting of noise, howling and retching, choked and stretched, cracking and squelching, and somewhere in the middle of all of it, a human voice.

Holm jolted up on the bed, throwing his arm out to feel for Simon. The man wasn't there. In the bed, or in the room. Holm scrambled up, pulling his knees up to his chest, his heart pounding thickly in his throat. The horrible sound was coming from right outside the door, which was cracked open. Shapes shifted outside on the landing, falling in front of the light that spilled into the bedroom. Something was just outside the door.

Holm slowly pulled his legs beneath him, getting into a crouch. The sounds stopped—abruptly. Now all he heard was laborious panting, synched with the undulations of the shadows out on the landing. Holm's arms were shaking, and he twisted his hands into the blankets. His mouth was suddenly, horribly dry, and swallowing only burned and felt like sandpaper in his throat.

A shadow moved in front of the bar of light at the door, half-blocking it. Rough snorts of breath panted into the room, and the door creaked before jerking inwards. A dark shape was nudging it, pushing it open. Holm's blood was shards of ice, screaming cold and sharp through his body.

The pushing at the door stopped, abruptly, everything falling still. The shadow dropped away, the breathing with it. Silence then. A floorboard ticked. Holm hushed out a soft breath, his eyes still tracked to the door.

It burst open suddenly, flying open to strike the wall behind and bounce back, but not before a fluid dark shape had bounded in, the sound of harsh nails skidding on the wood flooring. It moved on all fours, sliding to a sharp stop at the foot of the bed. Bright eyes gleamed in a dark, bushy form, an enormous creature that swiveled its shaggy head to fix its stare directly into Holm's eyes.

Something burst in him, and Holm kicked off the bed, sprinting for the door. His footing slipped and tangled in the untucked blankets. He pitched forward, the floor rushing up to meet him, a solid pain against the side of his face and he was rolling across the floor, head pounding, scrambling to his knees. His voice was locked and tight in his throat, no noise would come from his mouth.

The animal padded slowly forward around the side of the bed, the head with a tapered snout lowered. Yellow marble eyes gleamed in the light from the hallway, shining like iridescent coins. Holm climbed backwards along the floor, matching the thing's leisurely pace. Except all his limbs were shaking, and when his back struck the wall he nearly screamed. He flattened himself to the wood, drawing his knees up against his chest.

It still came forward, snorting hot breath from its muzzle, boards creaking beneath the weight of its dark paws. Holm couldn't look away, couldn't blink, or breathe, or move. Shining eyes filled his entire vision, his blood was running frozen through his veins, its dull roar singing in his head, the only sound he heard other than harsh breathing that only might have been the animal's.

The dark shaggy head pressed close to his, so close the yellow eyes blurred out of his vision, and rough snorting echoed in his left ear. Holm squeezed his eyes shut, his heart slamming in his chest, in his throat, in his mouth. His blood rushed madly, now a burning fire in his veins, replacing the splinters of ice. Rough hair brushed against his cheek, his temple, inside the shell of his ear. Hot breath huffed against his shoulder.

Then. A rush of air, and it was all gone. Long moments passed before Holm opened his eyes. Found himself staring at the midnight blue of the empty, still room. The rumpled and wrinkled blankets on the bed, the square of yellow light peering into the room from the wide open door. The dark black of the night sky outside the window, and high in the corner of the glas, the pale white face of a full moon. Holm uncurled, slowly, his taut limbs protesting every moment, crawling across the floor to the door. With a shaking arm, he reached out and grasped the bottom of it, and pulled it shut. He stretched his arm up, pawed at the lock until he heard it slide closed. Then he collapsed, sinking into a curled mass at the bottom of the door. He covered his head with his arms, his stomach clenched so tight it ached, and tired to loose himself in the darkness of his closed eyes.

Holm was pulled towards wakefulness by a scratching and dragging sound outside the door. A sudden muffled thump drew him completely awake, and he started, scrambling half upwards before he remembered where he was and what had happened. The light outside the window was bright and watery. He heard the same scratching, a slow dragging, which was coming from behind the door.

He got to his knees slowly, and pressed his ear to the wood. Something drew up outside the door, something that was breathing shallowly.

"Holm?" whispered a voice at the corner of the door. "Holm, are you still in there? God, please, please be alive….please tell me I didn't kill you…dammit, answer me, you bastard."

"You didn't kill me." Holm forced the words out, and they emerged equally as rough and dry as Simon's voice.

"Oh, God." Simon's voice wavered and cracked on the second word, and there was a muffled sound at the bottom of the door that sounded as though the man had just collapsed. "You….you idiot." The words now slipped in from under the door. "I told you—you couldn't be here. Goddamn you and your fucking blow job…if I had killed you it would have been your fault!"

"What the fuck are you, Simon?" Holm muttered against the wood.

"Just think about it," Simon's voice said tiredly. "The answer's not that hard. Unless you've never seen a movie or read a book or been generally involved with society at all."

"Like you?" Holm couldn't help but spit out, and Simon laughed roughly.

"Sure," he said. "Sure. Like me. I'm so sorry."

"The whole time?"

A large exhale from the other side of the door. "The whole time."

"The reason you wanted me to lock myself in the room the first time…"


"Why you wanted me to leave this time…."


"When you got hurt…"

"I really was shot. I must've made it to town. Doesn't happen often. Ever. Townies've all got guns."

The diner doors. The broken window. The lumpish man who had warned him about wild animals. "Fuck. Fuck, Simon…"

"I know! I know it sounds fucking crazy, how do you think I fucking feel!? I live this, Holm. I live it. You don't even have to think about it, ever again, if you leave. If you leave…please, leave. You should…you really should, this time."

Holm swallowed against the sickening lump in his throat, and shook his head until he realized Simon couldn't see it. "I don't want to leave."

A sound and a vibration that felt like Simon had punched the door. "Fuck! Why not?"

"Do you want me to?"

"Yes! No. I don't know. Not really. I…I'll hurt you. If you don't."

"You didn't. Last night."

"You were lucky."

"You didn't….I don't think you would have hurt me."

"You really want to test that theory? Bad idea. Just…here. Unlock the door. Come out, and you can leave. Please."

Holm reached up and fumbled with the latch until it clunked open. He had to scoot backwards to open it.

On the other side, Simon was crouched in a huddled ball, once again wrapped in the blanket from the couch. His hair was loose and fell over his face and he was shaking. Moving slowly, Holm went to him, touched his shoulder and jumped when Simon flinched.

"You can go now," Simon whispered. Holm touched his shoulder again, firmly, and rolled him over. The blanket half fell from him—Simon was naked again beneath it. "What are you—"

Holm slid over Simon's body, straddling him and lying chest-to-chest. The other man's eyes had snapped open, and he braced his hands against Holm's shoulders.

"Don't—what are you doing—"

Holm touched Simon's face, pressed his hand along his unshaven jaw. Simon's eyes were wide and black and deeply shadowed.

"Hell of a morning after," he murmured, and Simon made a harsh noise that imitated a laugh.

"Right," he said. "Right."

"I'm not leaving," Holm said. "Not now."

"Why? Why don't you leave? I've done everything I fucking can to make you leave! And you won't! Why won't you fucking leave?"

"Do you really want me to go?"

Simon's mouth drew up, and he looked to the side of Holm's head.

"That's why I haven't," Holm said.

Half an hour later, Simon was showered and dressed and sitting on the red tartan couch, Holm sitting on the coffee table and knee-to-knee with him. Simon wouldn't meet his eyes.

"How can you even stand to be near me?" the man muttered. "Now that you know."

"Because there's nothing about you that isn't the same as before," Holm replied. "You being what you are and me knowing or not knowing doesn't make any difference."

"God. Stop trying to rationalize this."


"Because…because it can't work. It won't work."

"There's nothing to make work. It just is."

"I'm not even sure what you're talking about anymore."

Holm rubbed at his face. "Yeah, me either, really."

Simon lowered his face to his hands. Holm reached out, stroked his hair, and the man jerked away and stared at him.

Holm cleared his throat roughly. "When did it happen?"

Simon scoffed. "I'm sure you broke through enough locked doors and chatted with that doctor enough to figure that out."

"I—how did you know I—"

"Because I'm not an idiot," Simon said. "You saw the marks on the doors in the laundry room, I know you did. And you had a nice chat about the history of my injuries with Berger. Well, Jesus, Holm, put the fucking pieces together."

"Three years ago, then," Holm said, and Simon nodded once. "But how—"

"I have no idea," Simon said. He rubbed his hands across his eyes and gestured in the direction of the laundry room. "Jake—I mean, you know, Hatchback Guy—" Holm smiled vaguely, "—was here at the time. He probably saved my fucking life. He owned guns—shot the damn thing—not before it sliced me up. It—what are you doing?"

Holm had reached forward, his fingers catching the flap of Simon's button-down shirt. "I just want to see."

Simon stilled, and said nothing as Holm slid the buttons apart, pushing the shirt open. There were five faded scars across Simon's abdomen, their edges jagged and wrinkled. Holm spread his fingers, touched them to the start of the scars. Simon's muscles flinched against his touch.

"Yeah, pretty much," Simon said roughly. "Knocked me down and then chewed on my shoulder. Not exactly—"

"Which one?"


Holm pulled the right side of Simon's shirt aside. The skin of his shoulder was a mass of cluttered scars, white and pink and silvery. Holm caught a breath between his teeth.

"Yeah," Simon said, tugging his shirt back up. "Ugly, I know—"

"Not too bad."

"How can you even pretend to think—"

"I've got scars too," Holm said. He lifted the hem of his shirt up, pointed to his right side. "Look. Appendectomy."

"You—shut up…" Simon muttered, his face twisting up. "Don't try to make me feel better."

"I like to."

Simon pressed his forehead into his hands. "Why are you so nice to me? Why do you even like me? Why'd you give me a blowjob?"

Holm laughed. "Any particular order you'd like those answered in?"

Simon scowled. "No. I was joking. Don't answer any of it. I don't think I want to know."


"And why are you so fucking easy-going?"

"Because I'm nice to you and I like you and I gave you a blowjob?"

"You are such a goddamn smart-ass—"

"Yeah. I know."

Simon's mouth pressed thinly and he looked away. He opened his mouth several times and closed it just as many, shoulders slumping each time he truncated whatever it was he couldn't say.

Finally, "you have to see now why you can't stay around me."

"Well, a little."

"I could have killed you. I still could. You can't stay."

"The whole thing, it….seems impossible, you know."

"I do fucking know. Fantasy or fairy tale or goddamn nightmare or I don't know what. But it's real and you've seen it. Which is why you have to leave."


"Yes, you do! You can't possibly want to risk—"

"What if I do?" Holm interrupted. He reached out and took one of Simon's hands, and the man flinched. "What if I do?"

Simon didn't answer for a moment, and when he did, his voice was quiet and soft. "Look," he said. "You honestly don't want to be up here. Go home. Go home, finish high school, go to college. Have a life. You don't want to be up here."

"Yes, I do."

Simon jerked his hand out of Holm's. "Fuck you, you're sixteen, you don't know what you want!"

"Seventeen," Holm muttered. "Why can't I know what I want?"

"Because you're immature and—just—you don't! No one does!"

"Bet you did."

"Of course I didn't!" Simon snarled. "I liked politics when I was sixteen. I'm about the last fucking person in the world who'd be good in politics now."

"What if I leave—" Holm said, and Simon made a sound, "—and I come back and see you? Can I do that? Can we do that?"

"There is no we," Simon said.

"Look. I've got one more year of high school. If I go to college, it'll be a local one. I'll still be around, I'll still be here. And I'm going to guess you're not going anywhere."

Simon snorted, and Holm leaned towards him, bringing them close together. The other man's breath hitched in his throat.

"You know, your age….it was never what I really cared about. I mean, it matters still, but…do you understand?" Simon said, staring to the right of Holm's head.

"Yeah," Holm said. "I won't come on the full moon anymore."

"That's not an answer."

"Will you accept it for one?"

"I—" Simon reached out and slid his fingers into Holm's hair. It was unexpected, and Holm leaned into his touch. "I want to."

"Good." Holm's eyes flicked down to Simon's lips, parted slightly.

"But I still won't have sex with you until you're eighteen," Simon was saying, but Holm didn't really hear. He was watching his mouth. "If you really want to wait that lon—"

"Shut up," Holm said, and pulled Simon to him. Simon made a grunt of surprise and grabbed at him, their lips mashing together. Holm lost his balance and tipped forward, and they twisted together on the couch, Holm falling neatly between Simon's legs.

"You did that on purpose," Simon muttered against him. Holm smirked.


"You're such a fucking moron."

Holm drew his thumb along Simon's jaw. "That other guy…Hatchback Guy…he left you after it happened."

Simon stilled. "Yeah. He did."


"No. He left because I would have killed him."

"If he had really cared, he would found a way."

Simon snorted. "Is that what you're doing now? Proving you care?"

"I'm proving I'm not him."

"I don't have a complex about him."

"Sure you do. That's why you constantly push me away, right? Because you're expecting me to leave anyway."

Simon didn't answer. His hand stilled on Holm's head.

"I'm right," Holm pushed, and Simon yanked on his hair.

"Stop analyzing me. I write the psychological books."

"But you also haven't interacted with society in about three years, which somewhat limits your expertise."

"Shut up," Simon said, and kissed him. Holm moved into him agreeably, and his hands went up under Simon's shirt. Simon broke away and pushed them back down.

"Oh come on," Holm said. "What are you, Catholic?"

"Mormon," Simon replied. Holm started, and his mouth fell open. "No, not really."

Holm laughed, brushing hair away from Simon's face. "Good."

Simon fidgeted, turning away. "Stop."


"Don't do things like that. We're not girls."

"Touching you is girly?"

"You are playing with my hair. That's pretty fucking girly."

"What? I like your hair. It's all long and soft and—"

"Keep talking and die."

"—and pretty—"

Simon shoved him off the couch. Holm landed on the floor laughing. Simon sat up, swinging his legs to the floor.

"You do know that you're good-looking, right?" Holm asked from the floor. Simon turned faintly pink and stood up.

"Shut up," he muttered, and headed towards the kitchen. Holm stood himself.

"You are, you know," he called.

"Flattery is not going to get me to have sex with you!" Simon shouted back, and Holm laughed but rolled his eyes.

"Jesus. You know I'm legal in this state."

"Yeah, well, I'm not from this state. Eighteen. I'm not going to fuck you before you can even vote!"

"I could fuck you," Holm suggested, and Simon made a choking noise.

"There's no way you're a top," he muttered, before disappearing through the kitchen doorway.

"How do you know," Holm called after him. "You don't even know if I'm a virgin or not."

"I'm not listening to you!" Simon yelled back. "I don't need to hear about this shit!"

Holm followed him into the kitchen. "Remember the friend I mentioned before?"

"God, shut up, I'm not listening," Simon said, starting to bang some dishes around in the sink.

"I fooled around with him a lot, when he still lived down the street from me," Holm said over the noise. "A year ago."

"So, what? Is he your boyfriend then? That's why you were up here?" Simon growled, nearly hurling a pan into the sink.

"I thought you weren't listening," Holm smirked. Simon whirled around, grabbed Holm by the collar and shoved him up against the kitchen wall. The breath pushed out of Holm's lungs and he gasped it back.

"I'm listening now," Simon snarled. "So what do you want to say?"

"I want to say that I'm not inexperienced, you're not corrupting me, and you wouldn't be my first," Holm said. Simon pressed up against him like this was making his heart beat thickly in his chest. If the man didn't look so furious, he would have kissed him. Or at least molested him a little bit. "And he isn't my boyfriend. Just a friend. We decided that long ago."

"Fan-fucking-tastic for you," Simon said. But he no longer sounded angry.

Holm smirked. "You were jealous, weren't you?"

"No, I wasn't."

"I made you jealous, I actually made you jealous—"

"Fine," Simon said, and so quietly that Holm stopped taunting him. "Fine. You did. I already told you what I think about you, all right? You don't have to excavate for assurance of my sentiments."

"I didn't understand half those words just now," Holm said. "Does it mean you like me?"

"Goddammit, if you don't stop doing that, I'll—"

"You'll what?" Holm smirked.

"Never have sex with you ever," Simon growled, and pushed past him, into the living room. Holm followed him, sitting on the arm of the blue couch when Simon dropped into it, throwing his head against the back.

"How long are you going to be up here, bothering me?" he said.

Holm grinned. "My parents think I'm visiting that other friend."

"That is not an estimate of time. How long?"

"As long as I want."


"You wanna reconsider that not-sex thing?" Holm asked, and Simon shoved him. Holm nearly slid off the couch arm.

"No." Simon exhaled, rubbing at his temple. "When's your birthday?"

Holm laughed. "It was three weeks ago."

Simon clenched his hands in his hair and drug it over his forehead. "Fuck."


"No godammit! Look, me fucking you or you fucking me doesn't mean anything! It doesn't prove any emotions or feelings, just a bunch of physical whatever. For whatever twisted, masochistic reason, you've already explained that you like me. Why do you want to jump me so goddamn badly?!"

"I…don't….really know," Holm said. "I mean…that's what people do, right?"

Simon put his face against his hands with a groan. "And this why you're still sixteen years old."


"It doesn't matter. You could be forty years old and if you're thinking like that then you're too goddamn young. Come back when you think that you can show feelings through something other than fucking another person."

"I—" Holm's throat closed up, and he stared away. Simon stood up, slapping his hands along the sides of his thighs, and stepped away.

"Yeah," he said. "Just…whatever."

"Maybe I should leave, then," Holm said, looking at his knees.

"Yeah. Maybe you should."

"I…didn't—I really never—"

"Yeah, I know you didn't think about it. That's the fucking point."

"I'm sorry," Holm said to his knees.

Simon grunted. "Whatever." He disappeared into the kitchen.

Holm ducked his head, exhaled, and looked around. His jacket was still sitting on the other couch. He got up, threw it over his shoulder. The keys in the pocket banged him in the small of his back. He walked to the door, put his fingers to the handle.

"Guess I won't be seeing you."

Holm twisted around—Simon was back, leaning in the kitchen doorway.

"Guess not," Holm said. "Maybe in eleven months."


Holm opened his mouth, shut it, and turned back to the door. Then he whirled back around.

"You know, physicality is a way to show feelings," he bit out. "I would think someone as socially stunted as you would take advantage of that. Especially for someone who's willing to accept every single fucked up, flawed part of you."

Simon's mouth fell open but Holm twisted the handle, shoved open the door, and was out and off the porch. His blood was buzzing in his ears. His vision was blurring and he could only focus in on the bright red blob that was his truck to keep him moving. He fumbled in his jacket for his keys, dropping them once into the grass just in front of the truck doors. He dropped to his knees, scrabbling in the dry dirt and dust. When he straightened back up with the keys, his vision was better.

The truck door was open and Holm was very nearly in when two hands slammed onto the metal on either side of him. He spun, and found himself trapped and too close to Simon, who was violating all sense of personal space and his eyes, boring into Holm's, were dark and glinting.


"In return. Only this." Simon's voice was rough, and he pushed his body into Holm's with a forceful gentleness. They fell back against the truck, the frame of the door digging into Holm's shoulder blades. Holm grabbed back, felt warm skin and thin shirt and smelled musty smoke as Simon began to slide down the length of his body. He felt fingers pluck at the catch of his jeans.

"Shit, Simon—" Jeans open, boxers down. "We're outside."

Simon made a muffled yet sarcastic sound that Holm took to mean, "who the fuck is going to see?", and found he agreed. He grabbed at Simon's loose hair with one hand, the other wrapped around the frame of the car door.

"You're not too out of practice, or anything?" he breathed. "Five years, and all." Simon punched him in the thigh. "Ow, sorry, okay!"

Holm tipped his head back onto the roof of the car, digging his teeth into his lip and concentrating on breathing. The morning sun was hot and clear, glinting off all the red paint around him and the gold of the tall, dried grass. His clenched hands dug crescent moon marks into the palms of his hands, and he stifled the moan welling in his throat.

"Hey! Hey, 'cuse me!"

Holm jerked his head up when he realized the calling voice had come from neither him or Simon, and he looked around. There was a boy standing a few dozen meters away, towards the edge of the trees. His hair was straight and spiked up, the color of straw, and his hands were jammed into the pockets of worn jeans.

I'm getting a blowjob on a truck in the middle of a field and all this kid can say is "'cuse me'? Holm thought incredulously, before he realized the tall grass and the open truck door were working together to completely hide Simon from the kid's view. Simon, who had pulled back looking murderously annoyed, looked about ready to stand up and screech some insult. Holm jammed his hand onto the top of his head to keep him down and turned back to the kid.

"What?" he bellowed.

The kid grinned lopsidedly. "Hey, sorry to bother ya, but my car broke down just down that way. I saw the mailbox." He jerked a thumb over his shoulder, towards the dirt road. "You gotta phone I can use?"

As Simon stared up at him in furious horror, Holm only threw back his head and laughed.

Haha, I hope that answered everything and nothing. I'm not sure if that's a resolution or not—I'm not even sure WHAT that is. It's done, that's what it is! jigs

And I'm actually (yeah I know it's been a year and a half) going to update Pretty Shade of Grey soon. It's the next thing I plan to update. I seriously got stuck on that. I just couldn't do ANYTHING. It was bad, bad times. I don't know about Christian Faith. That's still floundering, and drowning.

Thanks to UnOriginal, DH L'Orange, obsidiandreams, lilylupin7, Lady Psychic (good job with the guessing, you win the internet :D ), Damian-Kayne, CloverRock, Wolf, Acis, Amilie, and Mage Dudette for the reviews! You are all AWESOME!