The sound of Rain

The rain on the old tin roof was loud that night.

The mist had settled, thick as a cloud in the frozen darkness. The overgrown dirt path had long since turned to mud in the heavy downpour.

Inside the one-roomed shack, huddled under a thin blanket was a tiny dark haired child.

He watched the flash of lightning through the broken window with terrified eyes, counting the seconds before the rumble of thunder rolled overhead.

The glacial wind reached for him with icy fingers, plucking cruelly at the meager heat he'd managed to generate.

Still, the only sound was the rain.

The boy's tears had long since frozen to his chapped cheeks but he was too terrified to open the blanket enough to wipe at them.

He didn't want to see the redness.

His clothing was stained and hung from his thin frame in pieces, the ruin of his body just barely hidden from view.

Despite the noise, the rain was not the reason the boy didn't succumb to sleep to ease his pain. When he closed his eyes… he saw Abel.

He saw his empty dark eyes.

He did not see the Abel that he had met in the sand box all those years ago. Calm, sober Abel with his bruises and his lies.

'I fell down the stairs, that's all.'

He'd known it was a fib but he'd never questioned him.

He wished he had.

'I don't think I'm going to grow up so why should I worry about what I'm going to be?'

The words resounded in the boy's head.

"Why wouldn't you grow up?" The boy asked the wind, implored the rain, but his voice was too hoarse to make a sound.

The truth was too unfair.

The night grew colder and yet still, the only sound was the rain. The only warmth, the steady drip of hot liquid onto his foot, unseen under the threadbare blanket.

The boy thought of the first time they'd kissed.

When Abel had asked him to close his eyes, he'd obeyed without question. The boy would have ripped out his own heart if Abel had asked. The brush of his lips was the sweetest thing he'd ever tasted and the memory warmed him, even now.

They'd done more. Abel teaching him things that his young mind thought of as games. It had never occurred to him that what the younger boy was doing to him was wrong.

Abel was simply repeating what he knew. The only part that made him feel loved.

The boy was crying again, hot tears leaving fresh tracks on his face.

He welcomed a fresh gust of icy wind as the cold numbed the pain and he was so tired of being in pain.

They had been found out.

He'd gone to him and found only empty dark eyes and pale skin covered in red.

So much red.

The rain got louder, echoing his pain as the image grew behind his eyes. The hot breath on the boy's neck. The sharp pain of the knife cutting into the place Able had always touched so gently.

It had just begun to rain when he'd been thrown from the car.

His breath was rising in quick puffs before his eyes, his body shuddering. The steady dripping became faster.

"Abel…" He sobbed, brokenly.

He had wandered for hours, bleeding and broken before finding the shack with the old tin roof where the rain was the only thing to be heard.

The cold was retreating. Warmth steeped into him as arms wrapped around his shoulders.

Abel held him in the darkness, rocking him too and fro.

The boy finally closed his lids.

Abel's dark eyes were no longer empty. He smiled at him from that sad face and his arms tightened around the boy.

"I told you I would always protect you." Abel's soft voice whispered in his ear and suddenly there was more sound than just the rain. The creak of floorboards and Abel's laughter mixed with his own drowned out the steady thrum.

"You made my life bearable. Thank you for being my best friend Jesse…"

To the entire world, Jesse O'Connor had died alone, in a rundown shack in the middle of the woods. He'd been beaten, used, and maimed but for some reason he was smiling, softly, as though someone had kissed all of the pain away.