Wrote this for my friend Nada for valentine's day, and I thought I would put it up.
Have some post-apocalypse slashy goodness.
Seamus balanced himself on the railroad tracks, heel-toe-heel-toe-heel-toe westward towards the river and away from the skeleton buildings made of chipped red bricks.
"What's bothering you?" asked Brogan. His voice was almost lost in the expanse of the air.
Seamus didn't stop walking. "People are talking about you. It's pissing me off," he said, eyes still glued to the metal of the tracks and not at sparkly, glittery Brogan poised on the opposite side of the track. The sun descended towards the horizon in front of them, stretching their inky shadows along the gravel behind him.
Seamus looked up, stepping off the track. "Well what?"
Brogan toyed with the chain around his neck, fingers working their way down the silver links to the crucifix that hung there. "Aren't you going to ask if it's true?"
"No." Seamus stepped back onto the track, arms outstretched on either side to balance himself as he continued towards the tangerine sky. "As long as you don't hit on me, I don't care."
"I know. That's why I don't care." Seamus watched the metal disappear under his feet. It was cold. Minnesota had a tendency to make everything cold. "Are you staying the night?"
Brogan fidgeted, biting into the flesh of his piquant mouth. "Yeah." He dug his hands into the pockets of his jeans, shoulders hunched as he stepped off the rail and onto the gravel.
They started through the train yard, passing boxcar carcasses without looking at each other. Their footsteps on the tiny pebbles of gravel echoed across the metal that hung around them. Seamus kicked up stones, watched them bounce over each other and leapfrog into the puddles of rusty rainwater. They landed with tiny splashes and sunk to the bottom, stirring up mud to cloud the fluid.
Seamus lived in one of the mostly-empty brick buildings on the edge of town, alone because his entire family had died off in the very last sweep of virus. The front door was partially collapsed, so they started up the swaying, metal fire escape, clinging to the railing. Seamus crawled through the open window, landing unceremoniously on the couch below it, followed by a more graceful Brogan.
"You want something to eat?" Seamus wiped his hands on the back of his jeans. "I have those little cracker things you like so much." He wandered into the kitchen, arms crossed over each other, and began rifling through the nearly empty cupboards to look for something to eat.
"I'm fine!" Brogan called back to him. He crunched against the side of the couch, legs drawn up to his chest. "I don't need to eat."
Seamus came back with stale crackers and sat next to him. He held out the crinkly paper back and Brogan tentatively picked out one of the unbroken crackers.
"Thanks," he mumbled, nibbling. "Are you sure I'm good to stay?"
"Brogan. You're over here all the time." Seamus peered down at his shoes. They were muddy. He toed them off and set them aside. "Why are you even asking all this stuff?"
"You know why."
"I told you I don't care. You could want to fuck brain-dead amputees and I wouldn't care." Seamus leaned back into the cushions. They rolled against each other, arms brushing. Brogan stiffened and inched away, pressing his face into his knees.
"Maybe we shouldn't hang out so much," he mumbled. The denim muffled his words. "I don't want people to think something is going on. They'll probably hurt you."
Seamus slid his eyes over to Brogan— slender, bony Brogan with the bright green eyes and hair that perpetually hung in his eyes. "I'm more worried about you. The boys can snap you in half and they know it. And even if they didn't, fuck if you want to be alone your entire life, and it's stupid that they should be like that anyway because even if you're queer you can still help repopulate the world in the vain hopes that the virus won't come back and no one else will— shit, Brogan, are you crying?"
He'd never seen Brogan cry before. Even if he were small and fragile and looked like he would burst into tears at the slightest provocation, Brogan had never once cried in the ten years they'd been friends.
And yet, there he was, sobbing into his worn-out jeans, back shaking and fingers digging into the fabric of his sleeves. His spine poked through his thin shirt, cervical-thoracic-lumbar. He gasped helplessly like a fish taken from the water and left on the sand to drown.
"You fucking know what they did to Cian last year, okay?" Brogan sucked breath into his lungs and held it there as it grew stale. "I don't want to end up strung up on a cross, Seamus. I'm fucking scared."
Seamus blinked briefly before reaching out to ghost his fingers over the kinks of Brogan's bones, and he felt Brogan jump. "It's okay," he said. "I mean. To be scared. I'd be scared too." He looped his arm around Brogan's waist, tugged their bodies close together, rested his forehead on Brogan's shaking shoulder.
"You don't understand," Brogan mumbled. "People are talking now. If there's even a fucking hint that it might be true, they are going to kill me and I'm going to die alone."
"I'm not going to leave you alone," Seamus mumbled. How comfortably their skin seamed together, slid surface against surface. "You're my best friend."
Brogan let out a gasping sob. "But I can't be your best friend if they're going to kill you too." He pulled away, turning to face Seamus. "If they think you're queer too, they'll string you up right next to me. And I don't want that to happen because you're seventeen fucking years old and that's too young to die."
"You're a year younger than me," Seamus pointed out helplessly. He stared down at his hands. "Can't you just...keep quiet?"
"What do you think I'm doing?" Brogan laughed in the back of his throat, loud and rough like breaking glass on the pavement. "I'm waiting until I get the money to leave or the balls to throw myself off a goddamned building and everyone will know exactly why I did it."
Seamus peered into the paper bag of crackers and fished out the last unbroken one. He offered it mutely to Brogan.
"Thanks." Brogan hiccuped weakly and leaned into the side of the couch. "There's...no one out there, Seamus. I realized that the other day. There are just pockets of us —living people— left. And even if I travelled for days in any given direction, I still wouldn't find anyone like me."
"You might," Seamus murmured. He reached out to smooth down Brogan's dark hair. "You never know."
"No. I do." Brogan shifted a little to lean closer to Seamus. "Let's say I found someone else. Someone who was as sick and perverted as I am. They'd only fuck me because they're just as lonely and desperate and afraid as I am. Doesn't matter if they like me or not. I'd be nothing but a fucking willing body."
Seamus watched the other teenager dissolve into sobs again.
He ran his hands along Brogan's spine.
They lay stretched out on the roof, staring up at the stars splattered across the sky like milk.
"I remember, when I was younger," Seamus began, and he felt Brogan stir next to him. "You could barely see the stars. The city still had lights at night back then so they blocked them out."
Brogan propped himself up on one arm and stared down at the other boy. "I don't remember anything like that from when I was young," he said quietly. "My mother screamed a lot and when she died her skin went red. And my stepfather used to hit me all the time. He's afraid of you now though."
"He damned should be," Seamus growled in the back of his throat. "I'd kill him if he touched you."
Brogan felt heat rise into the thin skin of his face. "You wouldn't have to," he mumbled. "I'm used to it." His hands moved to his neck, where that silver chain looped once and twice and cut into his pale skin. "I bruise a little bit, but that's all."
"Are you bruised now?"
Awkwardly, Brogan shifted away. "Around my neck," he mumbled. "It's not a big deal. I mean, Micky grabbed me and he only hit me once and...and..."
"You should have said something," Seamus replied. He folded his lips into a thin line. "I'm going to murder him for that."
"Why?" Brogan sat up, his silhouette illuminated against the starry night. "You don't even have to get involved. I can handle it all myself." He crossed his arms, bit his mouth.
Seamus arranged himself, legs beneath him, so he could face Brogan properly. "Because you're my best friend," he said finally. "And I don't want you to get hurt."
Brogan's eyes flickered to Seamus', but they couldn't connect. His belly twisted into a perfect knot, made him feel heavy and morose. His fingertips traced circles over the surface of his own skin, imagining it to belong to Seamus. Once, they had been in constant contact.
It had faded like a photograph to only the ghost of intimacy.
"I can handle it," Brogan said again.
If Seamus stood too close or breathed too hard or smiled too wide or talked too loud, he'd be dead just like Brogan would be. Just like Cian was. Just like the other ones were, the ones who had toasters tossed into their bath tubs and were strangled and just disappeared.
Nevertheless, Seamus slid his hands forward to brush his fingertips over Brogan's jaw, up his cheeks, into his hair.
Brogan could feel himself shaking desperately. He felt like a leaf in a snow storm. He had no chance. He would end up ruined either way, whether he clung to what he had or let it evolve into something new and deadly.
Seamus leaned forward to press their mouths together in a kiss that could have inspired to song minstrels and to painting artists. He pulled Brogan flush up against him, close in such a way that Brogan could hear their hearts beating as one great drum. Fear lit through Brogan's skin, infected every bone as it raced down his cervical-thoracic-lumbar.
He pulled back. Uncertainty. This is what it tasted like.
"I just wanted to know," Seamus said. He untangled his hands from Brogan's hair and leaned back. "What it would be like."
"I'm not an experiment." Brogan recalled science classes from a hundred life times ago, all decked out with foetuses in bottles, floating in green liquid neon with their tiny hands outstretched. "I'm not..."
"A willing body."
Brogan crossed his arms over his stomach and leaned forward, mouth open in desperation to gasp in the last of the air outside.
"I was thinking. About how you thought that you wouldn't be anything except your physical manifestation." Seamus tripped over the words, inarticulate as Brogan was scrawny. "And then I wondered if someone could just like you for your head and I thought about it and I like you for your head, as much as I like any of the girls for their bodies."
Brogan peered up through his hair. "You should have left when you had the chance," he mumbled. "Shouldn't have stayed with me. I probably infected you with it. Oh god, maybe they were right."
Seamus leaned forward to press his mouth against the top of Brogan's head, and Brogan stilled. Jerkily, he straightened his back until their foreheads rested against each other, their breath mingled.
"I think you're made of beautiful things," said Seamus finally. He wrapped his arms around Brogan to hold him there the way dragons hold their hordes and divers hold their breath. Something precious and alive in his arms.
Beneath them, the urban decay mildewed in the aftershocks of a virus that had left them afraid.
And terrified, perhaps, but not alone.
It's been loitering on my computer since Valentines day. Now it's on the internet just in case something happens to my hard drive.
Feedback not necessary, but loved anyway.