Winter Storms

Summary: Rayne is excellent at being himself. He deals expertly with the bruises and the blows, and the lies are natural to his tongue. He can look after himself. Until Aedan Winter decides he would make a far better job of it…

Warning: SLASH, people!! (Shonen-ai, yaoi, whatever you like to call it) That means boys loving boys! You don't like? Then don't bother reading and go get a life instead.

Rating: As of yet, a nice safe T. Might go up in later chapters.

Author's Annoying Note: This is my second slash story! I was going to update Those Stupid Butterflies That Mess Around In Our Stomachs some time ago but then I lost my darling memory stick with all my latest chapters on it, and I didn't have any backup, so since then, I've been too bitter to rewrite a chapter I had down…I will definitely concentrate more on one of the two stories, I guess t all depends on readers' reaction…I didn't get a single review for Those Stupid Butterflies, which I feel kinda sad about because it was hard work, but, the hell…it's part of the job eh? I hope this gets at least ONE review…then I'd die happy…TT.TT

Enjoy amigos!

Chapter One

Of Rain and Winter


Running Into The Wrong People

I don't get what the whole fuss about. Getting bullied is like sucky weather and government: you can't do anything about it so you might as well grind your teeth and bear it like a man.

I'm used to getting bullied. The beating up, the insults, the being locked in closets or bathrooms thing, the threats, the discreet punches in corridors. It's not a big deal. Through the years, I've become an expert at dealing with it. I never stopped reading books and painting and acting, and my body didn't let me out of my misery and grow up, but all of it more or less helps me through the bullying thing, even though technically they are causing it. The way I see things is: if it wasn't me, it would be someone else. At least while they're busy beating me up they don't bother the young, cute, intimidated-looking kids that slink past everyone in the corridors. I deal with bullying better than anyone could have done—I'm a real professional. My lies slip smoothly off my tongue, perfect and easy, my make-up applying skills have risen to a point where it's become an art, and I've become so good at acting like a shadow no-one in the entire school knows my name. Life is good.

Of course, it had to go wrong. I'm not blaming fatality or anything; shit happens, and it happens to me more than some people, but it happens to some people more than to me, so, what the hell, I'm not complaining.

It was a Tuesday morning, and I'd just been cornered by Max and his little gang of criminal-wannabes. They'd blacked my left eye, split my lip and given me a new bruise on the flank, so I rushed to the boys' toilets, head down so no one would notice the bruises before I had time to cover them up. People seeing bruises would attract questions, attention, curiosity, and frankly, these were the last things I needed.

I reached the bathroom unnoticed, and thanked my lucky stars before doing the precise stupidest thing I possibly could have done: I ran straight into Aedan Winter.

There are four categories in which the highest and lowest of this world (that is, high school) can be classed: the popular popular (the pretty preppy cheerleaders and guffawing jocks with their honed bodies and white smiles); the unpopular popular (the blonde girls who hung around the pretty preppy popular popular cheerleaders and the guffawing minions who acted as lackeys for the guffawing popular popular jocks); the unpopular unpopular (me, the little nerds with their undone shoelaces and glasses and copies of Stephen Hawking in their pockets, the sweet emo kids with their smiles stifled beneath dramatic makeup and their creativity drowned in beautifully pathetic poetry) and finally the popular unpopular (the beautiful freaks that everyone secretly wanted to be, those who ruled the undergrounds, the wild boys who made the pretty preps gulp in their dreams and the glamorous girls whom the jocks scoffed at and then drooled at as soon as they'd walked past.) The popular popular and its polar opposite, the popular unpopular, were the two I avoided at all cost. They were those I fled like the plague, those that frightened me the most, those who had the most power—and of course, the person I had to run into was Aedan Winter, king among the court of the Popular Unpopular.

I ran straight into him, and it would have been alright, maybe, but the impact sent me sprawling back, and, automatically attempting to regain my balance, I snatched at the front of his shirt, bringing him down right on top of me. For a second we lay there, frozen, his heavy body on top of mine, his lean chest touching my bony one, his arms at either sides of my face. Before I could get a chance to look at his face or let him look a mine, I shoved him off me, all my force going into my pathetically weedy arms, and sprung to my feet, babbling dutifully:

'I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm really sorry, I apologize, it was an accident, I'm really sorry…'

Standing there, I let out my stream of apologies, waiting for the insults, wondering if he'd bother adding a few bruises to those already blooming beautifully across my face. Since nothing came, I deduced I had been lucky today and he was already too bored with me to respond, so I turned around and pushed open the bathroom door. Then I felt a hand grab my arm and whip me around, and I stood facing Aedan Winter, the last person in the world I wanted to be facing in the state I was in.

Aedan Winter had this particular brand of beauty that made the muscled jocks jealous and artistic freaks like me itch for their boxes of pencils and a piece of paper. A fine, well-defined face graced with features that seemed to have been swept into shape with the finest brushes, eyes of ink, lips beautiful and so well-drawn they could only make me weep at the talent of God's paintbrushes, fine bones beneath a skin clear like the finest white silk paper, elegantly lanky limps and a way of moving filled with the easy grace and dangerous suppleness of a feline predator. He wore his hair in a wild explosion of jet black streaked with blonde and the occasional green and crimson, tiny braids held in place with pieces of green yarn weaving in and out of the beautiful, artful silky mess. This day he was dressed in a t-shirt adorned with Chinese dragons over a long-sleeved, clingy crimson shirt, immensely baggy black combats covered in zips and chains, ripped hems falling over battered leather boots. A black Cradle of Filth hoodie was tied by the sleeves around his waist and his messenger bag was slung around his chest to hang at his hip, tattered cloth covered in T-pexx messages and names and smart-ass badges. His headphones lay around his neck, which was laden with necklaces and chokers and leather and velvet strings, and his wrists were covered in armbands and wristbands and silver and leather bracelets and red and green pieces of strings. He looked, as usual, glamorous, but now his eyes, dark as ink and rimmed in violent lines of kohl, were fixed on me, and that just couldn't be good. In fact, scratch that: not only could it not be good, it was very, very bad. In fact, it was a disaster.

I looked down on the ripped hems of his trousers and the leather boots, patiently waiting for his to let go of my arm and for the scoffs and insults and/or blows to come. I had, I felt, deserved it. Slinking and sneaking and being rapid was good; bumping into Aedan Winter was unforgivable.

'What happened to your eye?'

Mmh…unexpected. This was usually the teacher's or my mother's line. No matter, I knew this one.

'Tripped over my cat and fell down the stairs,' I said, easily, smiling vacantly.

'Did you, now?' he asked, his voice dripping sarcasm.

I said nothing. This was out of the script, so I shut up. He'd soon get bored and go away.

'Come on, we're going to take of this.'

And he began to drag me down the corridor.

Now this…this was bad. Very bad. It was out of my text, out of the script, out of anything and everything that made my life the structured safe mess it was. It was wrong. I pulled away from Winter and stood back. He stopped and turned around, and quizzical look on his face.

'I have to go to the bathroom,' I said apologetically.

He frowned.

'…Okay. But I'm coming with you. Otherwise I know you'll cover it up with makeup and smile stupidly all day and pretend all is right in the world like you normally do.'

This was getting worse and worse by the minute. I didn't know these lines, I had never prepared for them, never even considered their possible entrance in a conversation with me. I decided to use the power of reason. I smiled, and said politely:

'I think you must have me mixed up with someone else.'

'Uh, I don't think so…Rayne Hemett, little elfin boy with the bruises and the pretty empty smile and the paint stains of his sleeves and the little husky-keyring? I definitely don't have you mixed up with someone else.'

Okay. Good, now we knew where we stood. This was a prank, a joke—whatever. At least now I knew where I stood. I was back in the script, the lines just hadn't been written for this particular case. No matter, I was an intelligent boy; improvisation was part of the dangerous job of being me. I smiled again, and walked away. Lines needed time to be thought up and rehearsed. Plus, I was running late for my lesson and I had to cover my bruises up.

'Hey! Are you walking away from me?' cried an astonished voice behind me.

He wasn't used to it, poor dear. Yes, I knew it was exceptionally stupid of me, but between bruises and messing up my game by stumbling on lines—the prospect of bruises seemed much more attractive.

I entered the bathroom, and locked myself in one of the stalls. Pulling my precious little black box out of my bag, I pulled the lid open, arranging it on my knees so I could see myself properly in the little mirror I cleaned daily. Then I nimbly applied my pastes and powders, smudged and smeared here and there, and pulled slightly back to admire my job in the mirror. My skin looked pale and smooth and my eye only slightly swollen and red-ish, but this was ok, I could always say I had an allergic reaction to an aliment. My lip was still bleeding, but if I sucked the blood off for long enough, it would probably stop and then if anyone commented on the slight swell and bump, I'd just say I'd bitten my lip by accident in my sleep. I pulled my hair down slightly over my eye, and walked out of the stall. The boy reflected back at me in the mirror looked inconspicuous, normal, too small too notice, with a slightly red eye and a pink lower lip he was dreamily sucking on. Perfect.

Winter was nowhere to be seen, so I deduced he had probably given up for now and left for his lesson. Good, he'd left me some time to regain my composure and think up a strategy for the new way he had found of dealing with me. I was slightly worried that he knew my name—I'd always flattered myself of being completely anonymous throughout the school, but I guessed he must have found out somehow. Maybe he'd heard a teacher question me in a corridor and had picked up on the name, storing it in memory in case it could come in useful. That was probably it.

I walked down the empty corridors towards the art department, too deep in thought to really mind I was late for my lessons. I did not run—I sneaked and slunk. Running was against my nature, and running gave me stitches. So yeah, I'd be a few minutes late, but never mind, I could easily make up an excuse. 'I apologize, Miss, I tripped on the stairs and cut my knee, so I had to get it bandaged.' I already had the reputation of being an exceptionally clumsy boy with my teachers, my bruises and band aids had seen to that. And anyway, most of the time teachers didn't even notice that I still wasn't in, let alone that I'd entered their classes at all.

Out of nowhere and taking me completely by surprise, a pair of arms wound themselves around my waist, and a warm body leaned against the back of mine. A chin was laid on my shoulder, and I felt a warm breath at my ear, making the hair flutter against my temple as a voice hissed softly:

'I knew you'd do that…one day you'll infect one of your wounds with all these chemicals you pile on your face. But I don't care, I'm fed up with watching you shut up and take it like a man. Today, you officially lose custody of yourself—I'm looking after Rayne Hemett from now on. Whether you like it or not.'

Author's Notoriously Nefarious Note: Review? Please pretty please? YAYE THANKYEW::super mega puppy eyes of kawaii-doom::