Theme is Halloween on Christmas. A, for some family-related reason, gets kicked out of the house. He wanders around and finds B who is determined to kill himself. A tries to dissuade him.

MUSTs

Everything that happens in the present of the story must be set outdoors.

Must use the words: archive, pancake, mandarin, butter, phantasmagoria, pounce/d and permission.

One character must say: "It's the floaty men, dude…they're here to steal your soul and put it in a little star-shaped glass box…"

The story must at some point feature the re-enactment of a famous scene of a famous movie/scene from a famous movie/famous scene from a movie

NO-WAYs

No mentions of alcohol or drugs.

Nothing can happen indoors

Not allowed to start conversations with 'I'


Jeremy stalked off into the night, fuming behind his perfectly calm façade.

He loved his family; truly, he did. They were always wonderful to him, positively wonderful, and he loved them for it, was grateful to them for it. He had enough friends who had been rejected by their families that he was practically obliged to be thankful for his own lovely, accepting group of relations. And he loved them all as people too; he honestly thought that had he met Connor or Brandon in the real world, they would have become good friends, or if he had worked for either one of his parents, he would have idolized them. He adored them, adored spending time with them. Well. Adored spending time with them one on one.

And there was the root of the problem, right there. When he was just talking to his mother, or his father, or one of his older brothers, when they were on their own, he was just Jeremy, whose archive of classic books and films rivaled any library's, who abhorred the term "movie", loved music and wished he could sing, would always be the first to mention the fact that "wished" was the operative word there, found no shame in laughing at himself, or at anyone else, had always, always, always dreamed of being a writer, and who would never give up on that dream, was, in fact, pursuing that dream. And they admired that person, he knew that, admired him for his humor and his intelligence and his passion and, most of all, for his determination.

Then they all got together, Connor and Brandon summoned from their Real Lives, him on break from college, all trudging home for the holidays, or whatever occasion happened to gather them. Then he was Jeremy, baby Jeremy, who was only nineteen ("Wow, remember when we were nineteen, Connor, still clueless, with no idea what the hell we were doing?"), still in school ("Aw, my last little student, the only one not graduated yet,"), still with silly, naïve childhood ideas of writing for a living ("Oh, Brandy, another sensitive artiste in the family, it's a miracle I'm so solid, with my baby brothers' heads always in the clouds,"), overall, just the young one. The one who had no idea what he was doing, but for whom it would be infinitely easier, with those wonderful role models. After all, everything he ever accomplished had been done before.

Connor was the first one, the one who had no idea what to expect from life, who garnered praise automatically by virtue of being first. Then, of course, there was Brandon. Brandon whom everyone felt bad for, being the middle child and all, Brandon who had to do better than Connor at everything, Brandon, the dreamy one. And then there was Jeremy, six years younger than Connor, four years younger than Brandon. Jeremy who could never belong with them.

He did not for a moment believe that Connor and Brandon even noticed how they excluded him. He was certain that they had no idea how they acted like part of a club, a club that he could never join, but it had always been that way.

When he was too young to go to school, they had, in between the obligatory squabbles that brothers got into, squabbles that Jeremy had never really had, talked about when they used to be too young to go to school, had described in detail exactly what would happen to him. They had gossiped about their own school experiences, leaving him completely behind.

When he first started going to kindergarten, Connor and Brandon, big sixth and fourth grade boys, had talked about exactly what kindergarten was like, and had shared their own times in kindergarten, comparing their years, and forgetting about him entirely.

When he turned thirteen, all that nineteen year old Connor and seventeen year old Brandon could talk about was when they had been thirteen.

When he started going to high school, Connor and Brandon, both of whom had already graduated, were absorbed in talking about what their old high school friends were up to, and the experiences that they had had with each teacher.

When he started going to college, Connor and Brandon, who were already part of the Real World, spoke of nothing but how different college was, and how he would be so confused.

And both of them were so different from each other, while Jeremy was like a melding of the two. Connor looked just about exactly like Jeremy, practical, opinionated Connor, who was interested in politics, law, and history, who had gotten his law degree at age 24, just before his youngest brother started his higher education. Brandon, on the other hand, was the dreamer. His ambition was to be an artist, and he had the talent to go along with it. He was the funny one, the popular one, the good looking one, while Jeremy was the smart, dedicated, intellectual one.

Then there was Jeremy, the opinionated history freak political junkie who wanted to be a writer. Who had nothing to be first at. Who had to be completely different from both of his brothers, despite the fact that the school that he really wanted to go to was the same one that Brandon went to, despite the fact that his favorite author was probably F. Scott Fitzgerald, same as Connor. But who could never be too different, having to take all A. P. classes, even though he hated science, being practically required to try out for the baseball team, even though he much preferred soccer. Jeremy who basically had to ask permission from his brothers to do anything.

Damn it, he had his own opinions, his own ideas! He could not just be another child! He was going to do something first!

But what could he do? Connor and Brandon both had Real Live Jobs in exactly the fields they wanted-Connor as a federal prosecutor, Brandon as the designer of some advertisement company or something. Jeremy was in college, so he did not even have a chance at the "first real job". Connor was engaged to a pretty girl he had met at law school, an Asian girl named Minh, and Brandon was practically married to his girlfriend Alison, whom he started dating his sophomore year in high school. Jeremy was a closeted bisexual whose longest relationship had lasted about six days. He supposed that he could come out, knowing perfectly well that his family would have no problems with his preference, but it never seemed to be the right time. After all, he was Baby Jeremy, who was far too young and innocent to have even considered romantic relationships.

And that had been the basis of The Argument. He had to admit, he had been a major dick to Minh, who seemed like a genuinely nice person, he would definitely apologize to her, but he just had to say something, he fucking could not stay silent for one more year!

And so he said stuff, stupid stuff that he wished he could say he regretted, stuff that had ended up with his mother, his good natured, easygoing mother, kicking him out, telling him to stay out until he could keep a civil tongue in his head. Which led him there, the old park, wondering exactly what was wrong with him.

Figuring it was the one time in his life when he would finally be empty, Jeremy decided that it was the perfect time to scream, "WHY IS IT ALWAYS ME? WHY CAN'T I EVER BE ME, NOT WHOEVER THEY FUCKING WANT ME TO BE?"

Whatever else he was, Jeremy was not schizophrenic, had no desire to be, in fact, so when he heard a disembodied voice answering him, "It's the floaty men, dude...they're here to steal your soul and put it in a little star-shaped glass box..." Well, he was disconcerted, to say the least.

"God, I always wanted to say that," said the voice...from up in a tree. Looking up, Jeremy saw a grinning boy about fourteen sitting in the aforementioned tree. Well. That explained a lot.

Jeremy then said something very intelligent along the lines of, "Um...what?" He then promptly died of a heart attack as the boy casually flipped out of the tree, before being revived at the sight of him gracefully landing on his feet.

Down on the ground, he looked a hell of a lot older, about the same age as Jeremy, and, if he was being honest, a hell of a lot cuter, with his sweet features thrown into the light. Determined to be angry, Jeremy crossed his arms and demanded, "Who the hell are you?"

The still grinning guy tilted his head and asked, "Why do you care?"

Even more irritated, Jeremy snapped, "Because you just fucking killed me right there and my parents might want to know who my murderer is."

Smiling even wider, he responded, "Wow, I just killed you? That's something interesting, right?" Sensing that Jeremy was about to give up, he quickly added, while putting out his hand, "I'm William. And you don't have to worry about me. Really. I've survived for almost nineteen years now, I think I'm going to be alright."

His lips curling into an almost imperceptible smile, he took that soft hand and replied, "I'm Jeremy."


"So, William, what is a seemingly intelligent young man like you doing out here in the cold? Alone? On Christmas Eve?"

"Aw, you think I'm intelligent...I knew we had something!" he cooed, batting his eyelashes outrageously. "Though I'm afraid that I'll have to end things right now before they even start...Christmas Eve? I'm highly offended by the assumption there. You're offending my religious sensibilities."

Jeremy wondered if his blush was quite as obvious as he thought it was. "Answer the goddamn question," he growled.

"Oh, the usual. I had to leave."

"Why?"

"Well," he leaned in closer, dropping his voice to a whisper, "I was putting them in danger."

Arching one eyebrow elegantly, trying to hide his slight worry, as well as the fact that it was getting harder and harder to breathe, Jeremy asked, "Oh?"

"Yes," the other murmured, staring into his eyes intensely. "You see...I see dead people."
"Oh, get lost," Jeremy answered, valiantly attempting to hold back his laughter.

"They're everywhere!" William shouted, not even trying to conceal his wild giggling.

"Leave now," Jeremy forced out shortly before surrendering to his mirth.

"Aw, why would I do that? I can't, I can't, I can't do that! Don't make me go out there alone! There are popcorn balls out there! Dangerous, tennis racket throwing popcorn balls! Why do you hate me so?"

"William, I may have just met you, but I can say definitively, I don't hate you. I can't imagine that anyone could hate you."

He smiled shyly, genuinely, but...no; Jeremy had to have been mistaken. As he said, he had only just met the other boy, but he already knew him well enough to know that he just was not the type to smile sadly, to force himself to do anything.


"It's not that they don't love me or wouldn't accept me, it's just that...I don't know. I just...it's like I can't do anything that would disappoint them. Or not disappoint them, per se, but...I have to do what's expected of me, but I have to break the mold at the same time. It's like...I'm really not making any sense, am I?" Jeremy rambled on the swing, not entirely sure what he was saying, but knowing that William had to know all.

With an intent look on his delicate face, he answered, "No, I don't suppose that you are, but you're talking about love and family. What does make sense when it comes to those two?

"And," he continued, picking up steam, "that's in the best of situations. When you add in an unusual sexual orientation, it becomes all the more difficult-you've got the coming out issues, homophobia issues, denial issues...possibly some other issues...and then if you add in the bisexuality, you've more issues! You've got...well, mostly ignorance issues, really. And a few more confusion issues, just in case you didn't have enough already. And I suppose that I'm not making any sense either. Sorry, but it's almost required to speak nonsensically when speaking of love, which is all that family is, really. Well, love and pain, but those...well, they're the same thing, aren't they? Now it seems to me that love of some kind is the only possible explanation of the extraordinary amount of suffering that there is in the world."

Jeremy kept quiet for a moment, pondering the sudden change in his companion's demeanor, and whether or not the change really was as sudden as it seemed. "You don't really believe that."

"How British of you! I never would have guessed. But I do, in any case. It's who I am," William responded, a slight hint of a smile playing about his lips for the first time in a while.

"Pfft. Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know."

"So you did catch it! I was starting to be a bit worried!" William said, smiling delightedly, all traces of solemnity gone.

"What kind of a person do you take me for? Two references to Oscar Wilde in as many sentences? How could I possibly miss them? Though I do have to wonder: will my words be used against me at a sodomy trial? Because really, if that's the case, then I don't suppose that I have any chance whatsoever of being acquitted," laughed Jeremy, despite his attempt at dignity.

"Ah, so you really are a fan."

"That's me: I squee over the classics in film, literature, music...everything. Whether I like them or not is unimportant. What's important is they're classics."

"You're lying to me. Why are you lying to me?"

"Who says I'm lying?"

"You're not impressed with classics just because they're classic," he said, shrugging his shoulders as if the deduction were simplicity itself.

Maybe it was. "This is true, this is true. I can't stand Arthur Miller; how he's considered a great American playwright...but aren't you going to answer my question? It's bad form, you know, to not even tell someone if you're going to have them sentenced to hard labor. Especially me. It'd just ruin my nails."

William's laugh was soft, pretty, and suddenly very loud, suddenly all that mattered. "No one can stand Arthur Miller; he wasn't a playwright, he was a lazy wannabe novelist. And no, I'm not going to have you accused of sodomy." He leaned in and all the air in the park seemed to vanish as he drew closer, closer. "I absolutely detest hypocrisy." And with that, their lips met, slowly, sweetly, erasing every doubt, every insecurity...basically every thought that Jeremy had.


It was about an hour later, sixty minutes of awkwardness and shyness and quirky conversations and pop culture references and long, long kisses in which they somehow managed to move themselves from the swings to a bench when Jeremy finally pulled away, murmuring, "They'll be worried...I should go back."

"Don't go," panted William, softly pressing his mouth all over Jeremy's face. "Stay."

"No...no, I can't. I have to go home," he gasped, trying to catch his breath.

"Just for the rest of the night. Please," William begged, a hint of desperation in his voice.

If Jeremy had not known better, he would have sworn that his...boyfriend? Lover? Companion? Friend? Acquaintance? William, that was it, that was the only word to describe him; his William...was crying, but that was impossible. His William was hardly the type to cry, especially not because of someone leaving him for a few hours. "I'll see you tomorrow? Where do you live?" Jeremy asked nervously while trying to bring some semblance of order back to his hair.

William shook his head, bringing Jeremy's attention to his face...and the tearstains on his cheeks. "No, you won't be able to see me tomorrow...or ever again. I'm sorry, I just..." His words got lost in a quiet whimper.

Cursing himself for whatever it was that he had done wrong, Jeremy moved closer, wrapping his arm around those quivering shoulders and pulling the other boy hard against him. "Why not? What's wrong?"

William swallowed hard, managing to control his sobbing. "When you asked me why I was out alone on Christmas Eve...I never answered you. I can't answer you," he breathed. Had there been anything in the world besides William, his words would have been too soft for Jeremy to hear.

"William...tell me. Please tell me," Jeremy implored, tears almost escaping his own eyes, as they ought to when the world crumbled down around him.

"I can't. I'm sorry, I just...I can't," William repeated helplessly, vulnerably. And all of a sudden, Jeremy was annoyed at the boy pressed to his side, the boy that he had somehow grown to depend on in a little over an hour.

"What the hell? I told you everything and you...you tell me nothing? You don't even fucking tell me why I apparently disgust you so much that you can't stand being around me for another day?" he demanded harshly, with the painful anger of a child who just found out that magic was never real after all.

"That's not it at all and you fucking know it!" William snarled, immediately on the offensive, pulling away from Jeremy's arm. "And I never asked for you to tell me anything! You think I want another load of issues? Thanks, I have enough on my own."

"Oh sure, paint me as the bad guy." Jeremy was quickly growing furious, and he was not entirely sure why himself. "I was just walking by myself when you fucking pounced on me..."

"Walking by yourself, right, except for the whole bitching part. 'Oh, woe is me, my family loves me and I have these two amazing brothers, angst, angst, angst. Luckily the world revolves around me and my "problems" so I can just harass this guy in a tree.' Give me a fucking break."

And all at once he deflated, anger completely gone. "Well, it's a hell of a lot better than you, with your, 'I'm gonna play hot and cold, be crazy one moment, depressing one moment, crazy, depressing, crazy, depressing...just basically try to play up whatever mystery I have in some pathetic attempt to get attention.'"

"What the hell are we arguing about?" William asked, suddenly deflating.

"I don't know, but it's your fault," Jeremy answered, completely aware of how childish his words were even as they left his lips.

The two of them stood up and started walking towards Jeremy's house in a stony silence. Every step made Jeremy call himself one more name, every quick glance at William made him wonder what was wrong with him one more time. He itched to break the quiet, longed to stop the awkwardness, but could not, no matter how hard he tried, could not find the courage. He had just resigned himself to ending whatever it was that he and William had had with his own stupidity when the object of his thoughts stopped short.

"What is it?" Jeremy asked, his voice husky and nervous.

Biting his lip, William replied timidly, "It's nothing, I just...I love this song."

Arching one eyebrow, Jeremy listened carefully and heard the music coming from a nearby house. Making a quick decision, he softly started to sing, despite his weak voice and the fact that he was utterly tone deaf.

"Blue jean baby, L. A. lady, seamstress for the band. Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you'll marry a music man." To his surprise, he heard another voice join him, another terrible voice, and he looked at William, knowing that he was the singer even before he saw him. "Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand. Now she's in me, always with me. Tiny dancer in my hand."

Stopping before he had to admit that he was not sure what the next verse was, Jeremy said, "I have to go home."

With a shaky smile, William took his hands and responded, "You are home."

Smiling sadly, Jeremy pulled away. "I hate Cameron Crowe."


Jeremy had absolutely no desire to go back to his parents' house, for many reasons, but he knew that if he was not back that day, he would never go back, and that prospect scared him far more than he wanted to admit. He trudged along the road, moving slower and slower the closer he came. He had just approached the driveway when he was given the scare of his life: by the glow of the light on someone's house, he saw a short, slim figure looming like a ghost in the shadows. He was about to start screaming and running when his eyes adjusted to the light and he recognized the person. He sighed, slumping low where he stood.

It was Minh. Connor's fiancée. The girl-well, woman, he supposed; she was about a month older than Connor, as he recalled, and as he knew perfectly well, his brother was six years older than he was-he had been a complete and utter asshole to. She turned, startled, at the sound of his sigh, her frightened look softening as recognition flooded her face. Well, of course she would recognize him. After all, she was engaged to his brother, and Jeremy looked exactly like Connor. Which he had been told before. Many, many times before.

"Jeremy," she stated calmly, without the anger that she should, by all rights, have. "You surprised me."

"Sorry," came his awkward response.

The two of them stood there in a tense, uncomfortable silence before Minh's quiet laugh broke it. "You know, you don't have to be afraid of me. I only bite when angered, promise. Besides, you're too far away, I can't reach."

Jeremy automatically bristled at the words before he registered the tone in which they were spoken. She had no intention of being condescending; she was just joking with him, the same as she would with someone of her own age. And she might have been reassuring him as well.

Her voice suddenly took on a light teasing quality. "And if you're to be my brother...well, that would make it into incest. Which I've never really gone for."

He laughed softly, not sure if he was really amused or if he just wanted to be. It was hard to think about anything but William, but he forced himself to remember his obligation to his family, and just to Minh as a person. "Listen...what I said...it was really out of line, and I'm sorry, really, I'm not..." He trailed off, seeing her shake her head.

"There's nothing to apologize for. Okay, that's a lie; you do owe me an apology, but I understand where you were coming from. Well, sort of. That is, I understand how you got to where you were, as much as I can understand. Or could have understand. I think. Am I making any sense? Sorry, I have a habit of rambling. In any case, it's all good. You're...forgiven or whatever." She chuckled, clearly embarrassed by whatever the hell it was that she said.

A bit curiously, he asked, "What do you mean? By understanding, I mean. Where is it that you think I was coming from?"

She chewed on her lip a bit, thoughtfully. "Well...a combination of things, really. Places. Whatever. You're the youngest child by a fair amount, which is tough when it comes to establishing your identity. You'd never met me before, and it sounded like I just kind of sprung out of nowhere, which is not exactly the best impression that I could have given. You're pretty quiet by nature, at least around your family, which could lead to you bottling up a load of shit. And..." She tilted her head a bit, with a look on her face like she was trying to read him. Whatever it was that she saw, it seemed to relax her and she continued, "...You're hiding something. Which is never good for mental states."

He inhaled a sharp breath, and then laughed easily, whether at her, himself, or the entire situation, he was not entirely sure. "How are you so perceptive?"

She shrugged, a smile quickly flitting across her face. "I'm a high school teacher. It's our job to deal with insanity."

He raised an eyebrow. "I thought that Connor met you in law school?"

She blushed a bit, scrutinizing him even further before answering. "Actually...he didn't. We met in college."

Jeremy was completely and utterly confused. "What? But I'm sure that he said that you met in..." Again, she was shaking her head, so he fell silent, waiting for her explanation.

"Connor is...well, to be honest, he's fucking terrified of rejection. So is anyone, really, but...he somehow got it into his head that you, your parents, and Brandon would hate him for dating me, being as we're interracial." She laughed softly at the disbelieving look on his face. "I tried to tell him that, judging by what he'd told me about you all, he was being a complete douche, but...men are idiots. No offense."

"None taken," Jeremy replied, smiling slightly, genuinely. "So, what's the whole story?"

"Oh, we dated for two years in college, then for his entire two years in law school. He finally ended up telling you all about me when there was absolutely no chance that we were going to end up not serious. Which would be when we got engaged. So really, we didn't have quite as much of a whirlwind romance as it sounded like." Jeremy cringed a bit, a motion that Minh clearly did not miss. "You, on the other hand, have had a whirlwind romance. One that you want to keep secret, even though you know that your family'd accept you. And it's obviously not interracial, so..." She trailed off a bit. "Jeremy? Please don't be offended if I'm wrong, but are you gay?"

"No," he answered, smiling a bit more at her immediate stammered apologies. He waited a beat, then added, "I'm bi."

She slapped him in the arm. "Prick! I was worried that I'd insulted your fragile male dignity!" She chuckled a bit, recognizing the humor in the situation even as it was on her. "So, who is he?"

He immediately withdrew into himself. "Nobody."

She attempted to raise one eyebrow, but failed and raised both instead. "Damn. I need to get Connor to show me how to do that...but he won't, he'll say I'll use it against him. Will you show me?" As he was about to answer, incredulous at her sudden, random topic switch, he was cut off by her quick, "Don't think for a moment that you've distracted me. There's a guy involved and something's wrong. Tell me."

"Why should I?" he snapped, cursing himself internally for being a bastard to her-his brother's fiancée!-twice in the one night that he had known her.

She spread her hands simply. "Love's hard. And you love him. I can tell. I only want to help."

He sighed. "I don't love him...I can't love him. I've known him for about two and a half hours now."

She raised both of her eyebrows, not even trying to arch just one this time. "So what? You love him. You definitely love him."

He slumped down. "Yeah. Maybe I...I do."

She slapped him again. "Then quit gossiping with me and go after him!"

He stared at her for a moment. "I can't...wait, why not? You're right! You're so right! Thanks Minh! You're the best sister ever!" And with that, he immediately ran in the direction of the park, completely oblivious to the smiling young woman he left behind.


How he knew where William was, he could not even tell himself, but Jeremy knew in his soul that he would find the other in the park. Maybe it was because William was his soul. In any case, he ran to the park before he even slowed down. Panting a bit, he looked around before instinctively heading towards the little copse of white oak trees. He remembered William having said something about always feeling most at home when he was surrounded by trees, a sentiment that he would have laughed at had it not been William's, and thus faultless. And when he reached the wannabe forest, his heart stopped, for the third time that evening and for the truest reason.

Standing on a strong tree limb was a figure, the moonlight and Jeremy's quick heartbeats identifying him as William. The man seemed entirely unconcerned with Jeremy's presence, though he was, of course, quite distracted by the rope which he was fastening around his neck, the other end being tied to a branch above the one on which he stood.

Jeremy gasped, unable to contain himself. When one's world implodes, one tends to forget such trivial things as breathing. William whirled around, somehow keeping his balance, a mixture of terror and sadness on his face. "Jeremy," he whispered, his dark eyes gaining a look of resignation, his quiet voice echoing in the emptiness of Jeremy's mind.

Jeremy swallowed hard and whispered, "William." His eyes widening with horror, he tried to speak, choked on his words, and tried again. "What...what are you doing?"

The other let out a terrible sound, a sound that might have been either a snort or a sob. "What does it look like?"

"I..." Jeremy trailed off, giving up the feeble hope that he was, in fact, schizophrenic, or delusional, or hallucinating in some other way. "Wh...why?"

William's eyes were icebergs, cold, deep, and beautiful. "Why do you care?" he asked, his voice controlled.

"Because..." Because I love you! I love you more than I can tell you! Jeremy screamed in his head. He wanted to say the words, needed to say the words...but he just, he...no, he had to. He had to. "I love you," he mouthed more than said, barely letting any breath escape his mouth.

William snorted again, bitterness filling his face. "You don't. You can't. You don't even know what you're talking about." Another time, another place, and Jeremy might have wondered how his words had been audible, but he understood: there was nothing but William, nothing but Jeremy.

"That's not true. That's...I may not be a smart man, but I know what love is."

William tried another snort, but choked halfway through. "Right."

Jeremy wanted to press the point, but let it go, not really capable of doing anything else. "Please, just...tell me why. I have...please."

William's eyes darkened, anger taking over his face. "It's not about you, so you can just rest easy on that point," he hissed. "I knew this morning that I'd kill myself today. I just...I hate myself, alright? Simple enough for you?"

Jeremy almost managed to keep his voice from trembling when he asked, "Why?"

William sighed. "You...you are possibly the only person on this planet who knows me at all, who has any goddamn knowledge of me.

"I'm...I'm sweet, and shy, and quiet, and as ordinary as a person could be. And I...I fucking hate it. People have this perception of me...I'm the normal one, the sane one, the dependable one. I've never fucking lost my temper in my life, because I can't! I want to moan and bitch and cry and do something different, matter for once!

"I want to...I want to smother a mandarin orange in butter and hurl it at the neighbor's dog. I want to wear fishnet stockings, a sports jacket, and a pair of boxers to...I don't know; somewhere. I want to order a pancake from a diner in every state in the United States. I want to...I don't even know. I want to do something, something besides precisely what's expected to me." Somewhere in the middle of his speech, William started crying. He would never, could never know where. Jeremy could never have failed to notice.

"I...God, William, you can. It doesn't matter; you can do whatever the hell you want."

William probably would have snorted again, but he was trembling all over, could barely speak. Jeremy itched to hold him, but he knew, somehow, that William had to do this on his own. Whatever ended up happening, it had to be William's decision. It just had to be.

"Right. And lose everyone's respect. I'm the nice one. I have to be." He almost seemed to be speaking to his hands, almost seemed to have forgotten that Jeremy was there.

"You're wrong." It was a whisper, but Jeremy's voice got stronger as he spoke on. "You're absolutely wrong. You wouldn't lose anyone, you couldn't! You have people who love you, I know you do. You...you couldn't not. And...and they love you because you're you, because you're fucking wonderful and amazing and it's who you are.

"And I...even if you had no one else, you'd have me. There's nothing you could do that could make me stop loving you. Nothing."

William sighed, or sobbed, it was impossible to tell. "You don't mean that."

"Yes, I do," Jeremy argued, starting to get a little bit angry in spite of himself. Well, maybe it was desperation, not anger. It was probably desperation, he knew it, but he pushed the thought aside. "What...what can I do to prove it to you? What do you want from me? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down." William looked like he was about to say something, but he stopped himself. "You want a grand romantic gesture? I can do those. I can..." Jeremy climbed onto the picnic table, getting almost eye level with William, and started to sing. "And all my instincts, they return. The grand façade, so soon will burn. Without a noise, without my pride, I reach out from the inside."

His voice started to get a bit ragged. He honestly could not have cared less. He barely even noticed. He had to go on.

"In your eyes, the light, the heat in your eyes, I am complete in your eyes, I see the doorway to a thousand churches in your eyes, the resolution of all the fruitless searches in your eyes. Oh, I see the light and the heat in your eyes..." Jeremy trailed off, not remembering the rest of the words, not wanting to disappoint William, never that.

William almost laughed. "I thought you hated Cameron Crowe."

Jeremy responded, truthfully, being completely unable to lie, not to William. "I do."

William was crying now, he could tell. "You can't sing." And Jeremy could have never missed what he meant, never.

Jeremy's mouth was dry. "I know."

William's eyes pierced him, looking straight through to his soul. "And what now? After that lovely phantasmagoria of classic romantic scenes, what?"

Jeremy swallowed again. "I don't know. I can't know. I just...I need you."

"I loved Say Anything, you know. I had a huge crush on Lloyd Dobler...but then again, who didn't? So...do you need...someone or do you need me? Forget it. I don't really care. I...I need to do this. I...I'm just a fucking fake."

"I...William, I...God, I need you. I love you."

William's smile was tight. "I'm sorry." And he stepped forward.


A/N: And for those fluff addicts like me, the branch that the rope was tied to snapped, which was awesome because on the way down, William realized that really, he didn't need to kill himself; he had Jeremy! All better!

...damn it, despite my love for fluff, I have a certain thing against happy endings.

So this was my attempt at being serious. It kinda turned out pretentious, no? And I still couldn't keep my lame, sorta-funny, kinda-witty-but-not-really banter out. Sigh.

Holy crap, I mention a lot of stuff. Let's see...I mention the Sixth Sense ("I see dead people,"), Oscar Wilde and some of his work (okay, this one isn't as clean cut..."Now it seems to me that love of some kind is the only possible explanation of the extraordinary amount of suffering that there is in the world," and "Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know," are both direct quotes from De Profundis [I'm not sure if I should underline that or put it in quotation marks or what] and The Picture of Dorian Gray, respectively, while the other references are either to the man himself or simply stuff in Dorian Gray...but then again, I think his work is in the public domain, so just know that I didn't come up with it), Arthur Miller (my opinions on the man may or may not be the same ones expressed in this story...okay, they are, but I am not trying to pass judgment on anyone who likes him), Elton John (the song that Jeremy and William sing is "Tiny Dancer"), Cameron Crowe (referred to by name), along with two of his movies, Almost Famous (the whole part where they sing "Tiny Dancer" and the two lines immediately following were taken from a scene) and Say Anything (the part where Jeremy stands on the table and sings "In Your Eyes" was a recreation of the classic scene, Lloyd Dobler is the main character, and there's the line "Do you need...someone or do you need me? Forget it. I don't really care,"), Peter Gabriel (as I just mentioned, the song that Jeremy sings on the table is "In Your Eyes"), It's a Wonderful Life ("What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down,")...I think that's it. In any case, none of it is mine.

Oops! I forgot to mention Forrest Gump ("I may not be a smart man, but I know what love is."). If there are any others that you happen to notice, let me know?

These characters are so ridiculously like me, it's not even funny. It's kind of sickening. And I didn't even do it on purpose!

Anyway. Review please?