A/N: So here it is people. The final chapter of Shades...

Chapter Ten: Cleaning Up

Hudson propelled Casey up to his front door and let go of his hand, feeling the loss of warmth that he had been privately enjoying. He watched as Casey fumbled with his key and asked; "Is there anyone in?"

Casey shook his head and answered the unanswered query, "Mom's working and Dad's visiting Seth at the hospital."

With a small shake of his head he nudged Casey through the door and shut it behind them, pushing him down on the sofa and heading for the bathroom and the first aid kit. Stopping off on the way back to grab clean clothes off Casey's neatly made bed.

Though his fury at Jamie was bubbling under the surface, his first priority was making sure Casey was really alright. He knew very well what could have happened if Casey hadn't managed to get away. It just made him want to hurt Jamie even more.

When he stepped back into the front room he was greeted by a warm smile that, if he was honest, made him question his own sanity; because there was no way he would be able to control himself much longer if he was going to be on the receiving end of many more smiles like that.

He crouched down in front of his friend and set to work though, ignoring the butterflies in his stomach and focussing on cleaning the scrapes on pale skin that had in no way featured in any of his fantasies.

When he was done he impulsively brushed his hand over Casey's cheek, noting the beginnings of a painful looking bruise; at the sound of the dark haired teen humming happily under his breath Hudson raised his eyes and was almost afraid to meet the grey ones of his friend.

He expected confusion, he expected curiosity, he even expected anger; he didn't expect the lazy smile and the warm look radiating from eyes that half an hour ago had been glossy with unshed tears and wide with fright.

His mind was spinning, his mouth felt dry, his eyes would not look anywhere else, no matter how hard he told them that they were going to get him into trouble.

The silence stretched between them, but it was not strained, and it felt more comfortable than anything else Hudson could bring to mind, other than having Casey's larger hand in his own. Nevertheless he broke it, his voice sounded rough to his own ears, "Case… I've got to…. I mean…"

Grey eyes smiled at him and he knew that if he was focussing on the whole of the other boy's face then there would be an amused grin blossoming there; but he wasn't, because he was losing the ability to string a coherent thought together, let alone govern where his eyes looked. Which was why he was on the verge of spilling his guts; something he had been trying very hard not to do. "There's something I need to… Fucking hell, I'm shit with words."

And with that very shit attempt at a confession he leaned forwards and pressed a light, chaste kiss on my already abused lips; completely freezing me in place.

Because this was Hudson.

Kissing me.

I think I died right about then.

Until he pulled back looking shy and blushing ever so slightly. He stood up in front of me and took a step back, looking a tiny bit lost, and at that very moment I don't think it was possible for me to want anyone else as much as I wanted him.

He opened his mouth to speak, probably to say something stupid to ruin the moment, and I wanted to keep the moment very much perfect, so I reached out and fisted my hand in the tatty denim jacket he was wearing and pulled him down for another kiss, revelling in the soft feel of his lips on mine and the slight pressure as he came to his senses and kissed me back.

With a breathless laugh we broke apart and he looked up at me through his lashes, his eyes full of emotion and looking warily happy.

He scraped some of his hair back from his face and I could see him willing away the blush that was still there as he spoke, "So does this mean…?"

I laughed and tentatively took his hand, pulling him down to lounge on the sofa, his smaller frame fitting under my arm perfectly, his eyes found mine, waiting for an answer to the question he was too afraid to ask, "Yeah, I like you too. Took you long enough to notice."

Hudson chuckled and nodded, leaning his head back and letting the smile he had been keeping at bay bloom fully on his face; happier then than he had been in months. He had the prospect of a stable home and Casey liked him.

Casey liked him.

He kept repeating it over and over in his head, he loved the way it sounded, nearly as much as he loved the sound of Casey saying it.

The comfortable silence came to a halt at the sound of a car pulling into the driveway; Casey let his head fall back against the sofa with a thump and Hudson elbowed him in the gut, "Oi, I've only just patched you up, don't go ruining my work."

Casey laughed and sat up straight, "Ok, Ok I'll be good."

Hudson sat forwards, looking across at the taller boy and, unable to stop himself, leaned across and pressed a kiss against, what were, to him, the perfect lips. Feeling conscious thought leave him when Casey shyly deepened it.

The amused cough that broke them apart was almost enough to wipe the giddy smile off both of their faces. Almost.

Hudson grinned to himself as he stepped into the club, the music was awful, modern pop-rock that set his teeth on edge and made him want to beg the DJ to grow some taste; but he had a purpose. His eyes searched the crowd of teenagers, some gyrating in ways that made his stomach churn, some propping up the bar that was not supposed to serve alcohol, btu still did for the right price.

It was there that he saw them, Reggie's crew, all raucous and shoving each other, nodding their heads in time to the too-loud bassline of the track.

He knew what he was going to do. The memory of Casey's wide, fearful eyes spurred him on, the image of the pale skin marred with scrapes and bruises. The knowledge that it could all have gone so wrong.

So he put on his mist convincing drunken stagger, making sure to bump into a handful of people on the way to the bar. he fell agaisnt the wood less than two feet from where Jamie was watching the crowd. He slurred his words as he ordered a drink, deliberately fumbling with his money as he paid.

He knew Jamie was watching him as he took a long drink, slamming the bottle down on the bar harder than necessary and drawing looks from some other kids around him. He leered openly at a tall brunette not too far away and pulle dhimself upright, faking a stagger to the side, falling into Jamie none too gracefully.

Just being this close to the red-haired teen made Hudson want to forgo his plan and go straight for the violence, but he pushed it aside and looked up at the taller boy, pretending to study the other's face more than needed.

He watched as Jamie drew the conclusion that he was drunk enough to play with. The taller of the two pressed closer to Hudson and smirked when Hudson mewled under his breath, swaying as though he couldn't stand up under his own power. The closeness of the other boy made him want to vomit, or punch someone. But he held himself in check.

Jamie smirked to himself, feeling Hudson press agaisnt him and down the rest of his drink. He didn't know hat the shorter boy was drinking, but he'd had enough to not care about their past. He was finally going to get into those flares that he'd been thinking of for so long. It soothed the burn that was left after his earlier encounter with that Casey.

He was wired from the struggle with the younger boy and he pulled Hudson close, pressing his face into the shorter teen's neck, biting hard on his earlobe and whispering, "Finally given in Doors?"

Hudson just hummed and swayed into him even further and Jamie let his smile widen, it was clear that the green haired boy was too drunk to even know who he was pressed up against. He wasn't going to let an opportunity like this pass.

Hudson hid a calculating smile as Jamie led him through the crowd, he pretended to stumble and pressed against the other's body as they stepped out into the night. Perfect. He let the taller boy lead him down the side of the building and out of sight of the street. The small logical voice in the back of his head told him that this might be a bad idea, but it was too late for thinking like that, so he ignored it and carried on until Jamie stopped and made to push him up agaisnt the wall.

Which was when he looked up and Jamie faltered a little at the suddenly alert look he was getting. Hudson smirked darkly and grabbed the front of the taller boy's shirt, spinning them until it was Jamie pressed into the rough brickwork. He pulled the red-head down to hiss in his ear, "You remember when I told you what I'd do if you ever puthands on me again?"

Jamie swore and tried to wriggle free of Hudson's iron grip, he gave up and nodded, his face set in lines of anger; Hudson barked out a laugh and let his glasses slip into one of his hands, turning burning blue eyes onto the boy against the wall for a second before headbutting him. The sharp crack of something breaking under the force made Hudson grin ferally, "The same goes for Casey."

Jamie's eyes widened as he let his cursing trail off; Hudson watched as realisation made the taller teen's face pale a little. Hudson tucked his glasses into a pocket, out of harms way and set about settling an old score and satisfying the urge to hurt that had been present since he had heard Casey had agreed to the date.

I floated all the way to school the next day, aware of the marks on my face and the ache of bruises, but not caring. The only thing on my mind was the feel of Hudson's lips against my own, and the warmth of him leaning against me.

Dad had, of course, asked about Jamie and I, being a hopeless liar, had told him what had happened. He'd left he topic of conversation the night before but I was still sort of waiting for him to start it up again. All he had done when I told him about me and Hudson was nod and grin knowingly at me.

I moved down the corridor on a cloud of happiness, unwilling to let anything bother me or ruin the warm feeling that had settled in my gut the night before.

Shane was the first person to find me, wandering the halls with what was probably the stupidest grin on my face possible.

He fell into step with me and a little bit of my happiness leaked form the cloud when I remembered that apparently Shane had some sort of claim on Hudson; pushing the thoughts away though, I fortified my cloud with more memories of Hudson leaning up kiss me, me, not Shane.

He looked over at me and seemed to freeze for a moment, his eyes widened and he pulled us to a stop in an alcove opposite the entrance to the library. "Case, what happened to your face? Was it…?"

I came down from my happy, floaty place and re-focussed on the real world and nodded, not particularly wanting to have this conversation, "It was Jamie, last night."

The white haired teen sighed and chewed on his bottom lip, looking worriedly over the bruise and the scabbed-over scrape on the opposite cheek. "God, I shouldn't have… I mean, I should have told you."

I shook my head, letting some of my happiness leak into the smile I sent his way, I didn't want him feeling bad for what had happened; of course I wanted Jamie to feel much pain for what had happened, but in some twisted little corner of my mind a little voice was telling me that if it hadn't happened the way it had then the rest of the night would not have played out the way it did. "It's not your fault, I found out for myself and I won't be making the same mistake again."

Shane still looked worried when he looked up at me, "What happened?"

I shrugged, not wanting to go into massive detail, "He cornered me in an alley and tried to… you know… force me; but I managed to get him off me and get away."

Shane smiled then, and went to say something when another voice cut into the conversation, "Who did? What's happening?"

Henry came to a stop in front of us and looked between the two of us, focussing his attention on me when he noticed the marks, "What happened Casey? It was fucking Doors wasn't it? See, I knew something like this was going to happen, if you insist on hanging around with a low life slut like him you should expect something like this to happen. You should see the Head, get him expelled finally. I've said all along –"

I cut him off, unwilling to listen to another syllable of his diatribe, "Henry! Just shut the hell up!"

Before I could continue with what I had planned to say, I felt a strong arm slide around my waist; my face burned as I fought to keep my smile away from the heights of sheer goofiness.

Hudson drifted through the hallways, not heading anywhere in particular seeing as he was earlier than usual. He just felt the need to move. His mind was far too preoccupied with the memory of Casey pressed against him, warm and comfortable and fitting just right in a way that he had imagined, but felt even better for real.

This was only added to by the memories of making Jamie hurt, a lot. and Bleed. That had just been the icing on the cake. Sure his knuckles were a little bruised and his head ached a little; but that didn't matter. All that mattered was that the bastard wasn't going to try anything again.

His mind drifted back to Casey and he let a smile widen on his face; he could barely believe it hadn't all been a dream. The feel of his lips… Hudson smiled to himself as he relived the memory, not even looking where he was going more than to make sure he wasn't about to walk into a wall.

It was only when he heard the tell tale sound of a voice he knew too well raised in anger. He picked up speed and headed in the direction Henry's voice was coming from, smirking as Casey's sharp voice cut through the quiet of the morning, stopping the Asian boy in his tracks.

The set of the tall dark haired teen's shoulders was tense as Hudson stepped up behind him, smiling at the warmth that radiated off the other boy. Sliding one arm around Casey's slim waist, letting his fingers toy with the frayed hem of his shirt as Casey shifted and he felt the weight of the other's arm land on his shoulders. Like it was natural, like they'd done this a million times before and this wasn't the morning after the two of them had admitted they maybe liked each other.

He let his head lean against Casey's shoulder of it's own accord and let the half-thought drift through his mind that he'd never been so comfortable in his life; that was until Henry's snort of contempt broke back into his bubble of happiness. "Well good morning to you too Henry… What's got your knickers in a twist?"

The slight boy in front of them was nearly vibrating with contemptuous anger, he sneered up at both of them and let his thin hands rest on his hips as he spat his words at Hudson, "Fuck you Doors, I knew you were some kind of freak, but I didn't know you went in for beating up your little pieces of ass."

Hudson could feel Casey's simmering anger, almost palpable in the air, as he kept his eyes fixed on the small figure in front of them; unsure whether to be incredulous or angry. He slid his glasses down his nose and stared at Henry's wide eyes, "The fuck did you just say?"

With a derisive snort and a deliberately sneering glance at Casey Henry raised an eyebrow, "Were you afraid he'd come to his senses and realise just how damaged you are? Comes to something when you have to use your fists just for a shag."

Hudson blinked, unsure of how to react; he was deciding whether to just knock the wind out of the little bastard, or just demolish the shaky logic Henry was relying on when Casey pulled away from him.

His mind immediately re-focussed, ignoring Henry altogether, immediately irrationally thinking that Casey was having second thoughts in the face of the reaction of one of his friends; though the term friend was used loosely. His doubts lasted for all of three point six seconds.

I stepped in front of Hudson, using all of my gangly teenage height, that I usually hated, to tower over Henry; I was well aware that the halls were not so empty now, and there was a small crowd gathering for the spectacle. I didn't give a damn. I had had just about enough of Henry being such a narrow minded pompous ass.

It was bad enough when I had to listen to this shit while I was just Hudson's friend... but now, after the night before and knowing what it felt like to have the smaller boy in my arms, I was not having it. Plus, I was definitely not happy being referred to as a piece of ass.

Henry looked up at me and it may have been my imagination, but I swear there was just a touch of uncertainty in his eyes. "Henry I swear to God if you don't shut your filthy mouth I'll shut it for you. Don't you dare talk about Hudson like that. It wasn't Hudson who beat me up."

The uncertainty slid back into the depths of his twisted psyche as he glared up at me, "Say whatever you like, I know the truth. You two are just perfect for each other. You're both sick."

I was honest-to-goodness grinding my teeth at him, "Yeah, you're great with the truth, great with spreading it round aren't you?" The shock and guilt registered on his face, proving my educated guess correct, "Yeah, I know it was you who let it slip that I'm gay. I'm supposed to take advice on who to trust from you?"

I could feel Hudson hovering behind me, and Shane was looking uncertain on the edges of my peripheral vision. I knew our voices were getting louder and it was getting nearer to the bell; our crowd of spectators was blocking the hall now. But I didn't give a damn. I'd had enough of Henry, the time had come for the little snot to be put in his place.

Henry squared his shoulders and looked past me to Hudson, "Bet you're just loving this, another person you've successfully corrupted. But then again I suppose it's all your good at, not your fault though with that whore for a mother. Can't really blame you."

I saw red at that and didn't even have to think about what I was going to do. My fist connected with his face with a sickening crack; he went down hard, staring up at me in disbelief as blood started to stream from his already-swelling nose.

The crowd was gasping, whispering and I swear I heard a cheer. None of it matter though when Hudson pulled me back towards his smaller frame. I turned looked down at him, my rage melting at the soft look in his eyes.

He looked up at me and a blush stained his sharp cheekbones, "You're going to get in so much shit… No one's ever stood up for me like that before though."

The last was said in such a small, awed voice that I couldn't stop myself pushing him back into the wall and claiming his lips in front of the crowd, in front of Henry, and the teachers and everyone.

They could all go to hell, because as far as I was concerned, Hudson was mine now, and I wasn't going to let go.



MAGICAL NARRATOR: I'm officially not disappearing into the sunswet, though this is the last chapter of this. I'm tossing some side-story ideas around in my head atm. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I did write that scene totally differently to start with, but I rewrote it and it just felt better this way, more natural. But thanks for the reviews - they mean a lot.

gummybaby: Thanks for the review, lol yeah I love Hudson and casey, Jamie is creepy and psychotic,a s is Henry, but they're just so much fun to write hehe. Hope you enjoyed!

Night Innocence: I'm glad you enjoyed it, even the almost rape thing. I'm glad it didn't come off as being to much. I agonised over that bit so yeah... Originally I did write it with Hudson going storming in there and ripping Jamie off him. But it just didn't feel right, so I rewrote it and Casey got to get awway by himself. Hope you enjoyed and thanks for your reviews.

Thanks to everyone who's read and reviewed and everyone who's put this on their favourites or alerts. It means a lot. So massive love to all of you! Because I wouldn't have come this far without your nudging me through reviews xD

A/N: Well guys, thats it. All over and done with. I can't quite believe it... It bugs me a little knowing I finished this story before I finished Leave it all Behind though lol. But that isn't too far off now.

Thanks to everyone who read this and took the time to review; it makes me all warm and glowy when I get the little alert thingies in my inbox hehe.

You may well see me revisiting some characters from Shades in the future though because I have af ew ideas knocking around. For more regular updates on stuff like that check out my lj (link in my profile). So yeah, thanks guys!

Update!! 03/10: As of now I've started uploading the side story/sequel to 'Leave it all Behind' that I've been hacking away at since I finished this. It can be read as a stand alone, but also as a continuation of 'Leave it all Behind'. It focusses on a couple of minor characters from that story that I fell in love with. It's called 'Special Coffee, and at the moment it's in dire need of some love xD I know, I'm shameless! Love you guys!!



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