In the chill of an autumn night, the leaves crunched beneath my feet. The frosty air was frozen in it's own chill and time stopped. The moon shone brightly, embracing the frigid breeze. The stars twinkled and winked, and all around the trees were shedding their last tears of leaves. But I didn't mind; I thrived in the chill, the silence, and dark.

I sat on the cold stone steps of the porch, admiring the scarce silence, inhaling the peace. I cleared my mind of school, Mom and Dad, and the unspeakable. But it was broken, not by an intruder, by Nathan Black, my neighbor and best friend. He told me everything shamelessly; I was a such coward for not telling him. Hell, I couldn't even tell myself for that matter, it had no name and was tabooed even in my mind. I tried to push away the guilt clogging my throat and attempted to speak.

"Hey," I told him.

"Hey man," he said, "do you want to come over? I just finished arranging Moonlight Sonata in D minor as a duet."

"You never stop playing do you!" I chuckled, "No wonder you said you were busy last night!"

We walked over to his house, were we could play all day in peace, since his parents were gone most of the time. I loved the way he walked calmly, with his hood up. He opened the door for me, the gentleman. His room was heaven; it smelled slightly of cologne, not pungent, but just that perfect hint. He had clothes arranged neatly in stacks against the wall, and his bed was neatly done. His colorful, blue walls were in perfect contrast with my gray, somber clothes. I stepped forward towards the maple piano, and inhaled the sweet, wooden scent. As I reached to open the lid, he reached behind me, opened it, smiled, and told me to sit.

"Do you want the bass or treble part?" he asked patiently.

"Bass, I guess."

He tapped the time with his foot, and we played. It was beautiful, only he could arrange something like that. "No!" I told myself, "Don't think that, it's repulsive!" But I couldn't convince myself.

I had much more practice with emotional music than he, and I told him, "Play a little slower and more quietly. Relax your hand, it's about how you play the keys, not how many you can play."

"Like this?" He asked, looking at me with his irresistible smile. I nodded my approval, turning my head slightly, so that he wouldn't see me blush. I had to control my feelings; letting them control me would be disastrous, and it was already showing in my piano playing. I used the left pedal to mellow the piano, but my foot, accustomed to the one on the right, instinctively reached for it and almost stepped on Nathan's foot. "Sorry!" I said, with a look of desperation.

He chuckled and said, "Don't sweat it!" But then, we both reached for the same key, and my hand was on his. I pulled it back, as if burned by his skin. I wished I could've just melted away, hid in embarrassment, but I took a deep breath and tried to let it slide. I finished the song with my signature upward arpeggio, and he scooted slightly so that I could reach the very top key.

We high-fived each other, our way of letting each other know we did a good job. He smiled with those perfect teeth and said, "You're so good at playing this kind of stuff! When did you get so good?"

"I've been playing a lot of songs in minor keys recently," I said, my voice slowing down, knowing a bad direction the conversation could take.

He creased his forehead. "Did something happen? You've been acting different lately." He put his arm around my shoulder in a brotherly way and gave me the usual line, "You know I'm there for you, man."

"I know," I mumbled. "I need to go, it's getting kind of late–" But as I began to rise, his arm pushed me back down.

"Tell me," he whispered, in an authoritative, but comforting voice, "then you can go."

I was drowning, and Nathan's room disappeared. Memories seemed to flash by, like whole movies in a second. There was me, with the end of my finger dangling by a strip of skin, Mom helping me up when I fell the first time I rode a bike, Mom crying, Dad yelling, music notes like evil birds, crying under my bed as a kid, and Nathan...

A small, yellow spot glowed in the center of an ocean of gray memories, and I ran towards it, Nathan at the other end, screaming, fighting tears, "Wake up! Wake up! No, please, wake up!"

His face inches from mine, I grabbed it and kissed him. And he kissed back, his mind relieved to see me awaken.

"I love you too," he whispered in my ear.

The dam in my heart bursted, guilt pouring, and adrenaline pumping through my veins. Outside, the sun began to rise, but the autumn leaves continued to fall.