A/N: Hope everyone's having a great summer vacation!

A quick thanks to 13LinQ, no-ones-puppet, illogicalTeddyBear, S.H. Marr, and LovestoLaugh for reviewing the last chapter! Also, a huge thanks to LovestoLaugh for editing this chapter!


Ghosts of the Past

"You're ruining the pizza."

Wrinkling his noise, Ethan watched as Sean topped his half of the pizza with a mixture of skittles and gummy bears. Glancing up at him, Sean smirked.

"Don't knock it till you've tried it." After Sean's little spat with Erik, Ethan had given him some time to cool off and be by himself. Once the pizza had arrived, his mood had lightened considerably.

"Bleh." Ethan said, content to stick with his plain cheese pizza. "I think if I tried it, I'd probably end up throwing most of it up."

Looking down at the pizza, Sean frowned. "It's missing something…licorice."

"Eww!"

"C'mon." Sean said, grabbing his car keys off the counter and heading for the door. "There's a seven-eleven right up the street. We should probably pick up some other shit anyways to last us through the weekend."

Nodding, Ethan shoved a slice of cheese pizza down his throat before heading out the door. It only took a couple of minutes for them to make the drive to the gas station. When they got out of the car, though, Sean paused, turning to Ethan and handing him a fifty dollar bill.

"Get whatever you want. I'll meet you inside in a couple."

Frowning, Ethan followed Sean's gaze. He'd made eye contact with a hooded figure leaned up against the side of the building.

"You're not coming in too?"

"I'll be in in a minute. I've gotta meet with my dealer, I'm getting low."

Ethan felt a tightening in his chest as he realized what Sean was saying. For some reason, his mind couldn't seem to equate the fact that they'd been smoking weed together all last night and this morning with an actual drug deal. Even the idea of doing drugs seemed so foreign to what had transpired between them. With Sean, it was just…different.

"Be careful, okay." Ethan said, unable to hide the worry in his voice as he looked up at Sean.

Laughing, Sean rolled his eyes. "Just fucking go inside already."

Hesitantly, Ethan left Sean's side and went inside the gas station. Loading his arms up with as much as he could carry in soda and junk food, he turned the aisle corner and froze.

"Well, well, look who it is. I didn't know they allowed fags in this part of town. Don't you think this area's a little rough for you?"

Ethan glared up at Reece and his friends, his lips curling in disgust. There were six of them in total, more than enough to block the aisle. And on top of that, his hands were full. If Reece decided to pull some of his usual crap, he wouldn't even be able to fight back.

"Get out of my way, Reece."

Reece snickered, raising a brow. "So angsty. You know, maybe you wouldn't be in such a bad mood if you didn't wear jeans tight enough to ride up your fucking ass. But-wait a minute- that's how you like it, isn't it. Up the ass."

The group of boys snickered as Reece stepped forward, his eyes drifting to the fifty in Ethan's hand.

"C'mon. Hand it over and maybe we'll let you go unscathed."

Stepping back, Ethan met Reece's glare defiantly. "No."

"So you wanna do this the hard way then." Reece said, reaching forward and grabbing Ethan by the collar. "When are you fags ever going to learn your place-"

"What the fuck's this."

All eyes were on Sean as he approached the group, the softness Ethan had seen in his face only moments before now gone.

"What's wrong Sean?" Reece smirked, glancing over his shoulder at Sean. "Don't tell me you're hanging out with the fag outside of school now too."

"Let him go."

"But the fun was just starting. C'mon Sean, I'll even let you get in the first hit-"

"Don't make me fucking repeat myself, Reece. You want a fight, then let's go."

Slowly, Reece released his grip on Ethan, turning his attention to Sean.

"Fine, you want to make this between us, I'm more than willing to beat the shit out of you. I've had just about enough of your fucking attitude lately anyways."

"Go wait out in the car Ethan." Sean's eyes never left Reece as the six boys moved out of the aisle towards Sean.

Ethan felt his heart jump into his throat at the turn of events. Yeah, he'd been pissed when Reece was just going to take his money and push him around a little, but this- this scared the hell out of him. With both of them so intense, things could get serious real quick. And christ, he couldn't bear the thought of Sean getting his face smashed in because of him. "Sean, I'm not leaving you-"

"Now."

"I'd listen to him if I were you." Reece mocked. "I mean, after all, you are his bottom bitch, right. Isn't that how it works, you're all submissive and shit while he takes you from behind. Or is it the other way around? Do you like taking it from behind Sean-"

Before Ethan could blink, Sean was on top of Reece, bludgeoning the guy's face in with his fists. And he didn't look like he was planning on stopping any time soon either. The rest of Reece's group had stepped back, clearly not wanting to be on the receiving end of what Sean was dishing out.

For a couple seconds, Ethan stood there, thinking it was about fucking time Reece got a proper beating. When Sean's knuckles and Reece's face began to turn red with blood, though, Ethan realized someone was going to have to jump in and stop this before things went too far.

"Sean, stop. C'mon, that's enough."

Sean wasn't listening, though. His eyes were filled with a rage that would scare anyone with even half a sense of self preservation.

"Sean, c'mon!"

Dropping the junk food in his arms, Ethan tugged at Sean's shoulders, trying to pull him off of Reece. He didn't budge, his fists not even missing a beat as he used Reece's face as a punching bag.

Jesus christ, if this didn't stop soon Reece was going to end up in the hospital. Or worse.

Only when he heard the distant blare of police sirens did Sean ease up. Shit. One of the gas station employees must have called the cops.

Grabbing on to Sean's arm, Ethan pulled him towards the door. It took Sean a few seconds to follow his lead, not saying a word as they made their way back out to the car and pulled out of the gas station.

Stealing a glance in Sean's direction, Ethan drew in a shaky breath.

"Sean…that was bad. You could've seriously hurt him."

Sean was silent, his eyes focused on the road ahead of them as he pushed down on the gas petal. He was shaking, probably from the adrenaline rush, his hands coated with Reece's blood as he gripped the steering wheel.

Biting down on his lip, Ethan stayed silent, waiting for Sean to say something. Anything.

He didn't, though. After a couple minutes, Ethan realized they'd driven right past Sean's apartment, and it was only when they'd pulled up in front of his foster home that he realized what Sean intended to do.

"Go on, get out."

"Sean…"

"Get out now, before you end up like Reece."

"You promised Sean-"

Ethan drew in a deep breath as Sean jumped across the front seat divider, pinning Ethan down by the wrists with one hand and pulling down his pants with the other.

Shit. Shit. What the hell was happening?

For the first time, Ethan felt truly scared of Sean, his heart racing as Sean roughly tugged his pants down to his knees.

"You see this." Sean growled, his free hand grabbing the side of Ethan's face and forcing him to meet his gaze. "It would be this easy, Ethan. This easy for me to take whatever I want from you. For me to fuck you senseless before you could even blink. How much longer do you think it'll be till I snap on you, just like I did with Reece. A day? A couple hours? You really want to gamble with those odds?"

Ethan couldn't breathe. He couldn't tell if Sean was trying to scare him or if he was serious.

More than that, though, Ethan felt something burning deep within him. He couldn't take this anymore, couldn't take having Sean let him in one moment and push him away the next. Lifting his eyes, Ethan held Sean's gaze, his eyes filled with resolve.

"Fine. Do it."

Sean blinked down at him, clearly caught off guard by his response.

"What?"

"You want to scare me, want to push me away. Fine. Whatever. But there's no freakin way I'm going to be the one to leave. So let's go ahead and get this over with.

You're always talking about how you're this horrible person, how you don't give a shit about anyone or anything. Prove it."

Anger flashed in Sean's eyes as he tightened his grip on Ethan's wrists.

"You think I won't?"

"You really want to know what I think? No, I don't think you'll do it. But, you know what, at least if you do it'll make things easy for me. At least then I'll be able to walk away, to stop following after you, waiting for you to give me the time of day.

So here's your chance. You want to get rid of me, fine. You know what you have to do. And if you're the person you keep making yourself out to be, it shouldn't be hard for you."

"Fuck you, Ethan-"

"Isn't that what you're supposed to be doing to me right now, Sean. Fucking me-"

"If you knew the first fucking thing about me, you'd know why I can't do that-

"What, you mean because I'm just a sick fag-"

"Because I know what it fucking feels like to be on the receiving end!"

Ethan knew, in that moment, his jaw must have dropped. He was too stunned to hide his reaction, though. Sean had finally given him something, something real.

Leaning back a little from Ethan, Sean released his wrists, closing his eyes for a couple seconds and cursing under his breath.

Swallowing hard, Ethan looked up at him, wondering if he dared ask the question that was on his mind. He knew even before the words left his lips that it wasn't a choice. He had to. They'd gone too far to turn back now.

"Sean…who was it?"

Sean didn't look at him as he moved back over to the driver's seat.

"Does it matter?" He was staring straight ahead, like he couldn't bring himself to meet Ethan's gaze.

"Yes, Sean…it matters."

There was that look in his eyes again, the look that made Ethan feel like he was staring into the eyes of someone much older, someone who's seen more than any human being should ever see.

"My stepfather." Sean fidgeted in his seat, as if uncomfortable under Ethan's gaze. "Don't. Don't fucking look at me like that."

"Sean, I'm not-"

"Yes you are. You're fucking looking at me with all that pity. Save it for someone else."

"Sean, this wasn't you're fault."

For the first time since they'd started this conversation, Sean turned towards him, meeting his gaze head on.

"You still don't get it, do you. It's not what the fucker did to me that keeps me up at night. It's what I didn't do. I never told anyone. And because of that, he was able to keep fucking doing that same shit to other little boys."

Ethan felt his heart split at Sean's words. He blamed himself. God, there was so much guilt in his eyes, Ethan almost felt like he might drown in it.

"Sean, what you stepfather did, it wasn't your fault. You were just a kid-"

"You think you'd feel that way if you'd been one of those little boys? No, Ethan, you fucking wouldn't. That shithead was a psychiatrist. All the kids he saw were already all sorts of fucked up even before he did what he did to them.

I could've stopped it. And I didn't. So I might as well have been the fucking one raping them."

Ethan drew in a shaky breath, willing himself not to get all teary. If he did, he knew Sean would hate him for it.

Everything made so much sense now, though. The way Sean walked around with the weight of the world on his shoulders. His homophobia. Being angry all the time…angry at himself, at the world.

He'd carried this around with him for years. And, if Ethan had to guess, he'd bet that in all this time, he'd never told a soul. Not one person.

"Sean." Ethan said gently, "That was a long time ago. I know that doesn't make it any easier, but you've got to forgive yourself-"

"His name was Zack; the kid that I met a couple months ago . He was one of the boys my father raped."

Ethan felt an ominous dread settle in the pit of his stomach, like somehow Sean's nightmare wasn't over.

"He was wrecked. He'd come to my stepfather as a foster kid, probably already the recipient of fucking abuse. He'd trusted my stepfather, thought he was the one person he could rely on. And what did the fucker do, he raped him. I did that, Ethan. I let that happen. After going through all that shit… that boy never stood a chance in this world."

Sean's words were filled with disgust and self loathing.

"Neither did you Sean… You were a victim in all this too-"

"Fuck that. I was never a victim. Victims are innocent."

Ethan sat there in silence, overwhelmed by the weight of Sean's words. He had so much guilt. And guilt..guilt was worse than anything. Guilt like his, it was all consuming. And it was eating him alive from the inside out.

In that moment, he wanted so badly to help Sean. To take away his guilt, his pain. He'd never wanted anything so much in his life.

But he felt helpless against the ghosts of Sean's past. There was nothing he could do, nothing he could say to make things better, to change what had happened. And so he said the only thing he could.

"Throwing away your life won't change what happened, Sean."

"Yeah." Sean muttered roughly, staring straight ahead as he started the car again and pulling back out onto the road. "But it's a start."

A/N: Alright, so not all of Sean's issues/ baggage were addressed in this chapter, but one of his pretty big secrets was revealed. And for those of you that read STK, you'll understand why this secret will also play a big role in SND when I finally get around to writing it XD

R&R guys! Did anyone think Sean was actually going to follow through with his threat to rape Ethan?