Chapter Three: Epiphany in a Box

Shane was adept at getting through crowds. However, being a nice sort of Briton, he stuck around and signed as many things as he could find. There was a rather attractive young man in the throng, and, being Shane, he decided to make his way over to him. He was standing with a tiny, mousy girl that looked to be about ten years of age.

"Geez!" She began to hit her companion. "Rob! Rob! It's Shane Barton!" He turned to the rockstar.

"Hi!" Shane said.

"Oh my God, it's you! You were brilliant!"

"Why, thank you." Shane smiled a heartbreaking smile, causing the other boy to melt. "And what's your name?"

"R…Robbie. This is Max," he gestured to the girl, who waved.

"I like your shirt," the glitter Brit gestured to Max's baggy top, which read in large, gold letters, 'Bent as a nine bob note.'

"Here, have it!" she said brightly, taking it off, wearing nothing but a flesh-coloured bra. She pushed it into the surprised frontman's arms.

"How old are you?"

"Sixteen," replied the two in unison. Shane blinked.

"Max… thank you." He tucked the shirt under one arm, briefly moved by the young girl's kindness. He whipped out a pen. "Anything you want me to sign?"

The two nodded vigorously. Shane left his email address on the two's autographs.

Deon had left the crowd already, and sat waiting for his roommate in the limo. He watched the boy move from 'cute guy' to 'cute guy,' flirting shamelessly all the way. However, where Harvey expected to feel disgust, he only felt hurt and jealousy. He took care of the other boy every night, cleaning up after him, brushing his hair and making soothing noises when Shane had hangovers, and yet he received nothing but malice from him. That was all well, as Shane never remembered when his roommate did kind things. Deon was always horrible when the rockstar was sober. Still, William, as he had begun calling himself since that first night, could now admit to himself that he wanted the other boy's affections. It was wrong. He knew that. But he couldn't deny it anymore.

Why didn't Shane want him? Wasn't he attractive, too?

He recalled what the glitter kid had said when he was drunk. "You really are exquisite." And he called him, "my love," often, too. The musicians never fought when Shane was inebriated. It was the only time Will could say what he felt, without fear, without anger. And Shane's comments during those times were often what kept the popstar from suiciding.

The drunken stupor was far from welcome, however. He didn't like to see that beautiful young man self-destruct. But Shane never listened to him when he told him to stop drinking. It hurt to be ignored on such an important matter. Why wouldn't Shane trust him, for once?

They approached their second month on tour. It had been a whole lot of hell for little Will - he'd just wanted to be normal- Now, he found himself a part of the one group he hated with a passion: he was a queer, a fucking faggot. And it was all Shane's fault.

The glitter rocker swung into the limousine, a girl's shirt slung over his shoulder, and he waved goodbye to Jesse, who climbed into the limo he shared with Rich.

"Hey, Barton." William sank back into his seat.

"Hey, Harvey."

"I guess some chick gave you her shirt."

"Yeah. She was a cutie. You'd have liked her, if she wasn't one of the elite ranks of the terminally bent."

"Oh." They were at least being civil to one another. And Shane was sober. It was a good night.

"What? No comments about Satan and Evil and Perversity?"

He only sighed. "Lemme see your shirt." He read it, and smiled a sad, clandestine smile. "Well, it certainly is you."

"You aren't grossed out?"

"Dunno." He threw the shirt back to the other celebrity.

"O…K." Shane smiled. William could not know what that smile meant. It was almost giddy, yet half-morose. It was, nonetheless, very beautiful. After a moment of silence, Shane spoke again, laughing. "Happy hell."

William groaned. He'd kept having that dream, and, talking in his sleep, he always managed to say 'happy hell,' much to the amusement of his roommate.

"Shut up, Barton."

Shane snorted. "Happy hell!"

He did not want to be reminded of that dream. He kept having it; it had to mean something! And that 'something' didn't seem to be very good. "I said, shut up, Barton!"

Shane furrowed his brow. "Christ, Harvey, I was just kidding."

Will quickly looked out the window. He'd done it, now. He'd ruined that moment. Well… it hadn't exactly been a 'moment,' per-se. It had been a blessed time for him, though. A moment of understanding. And now, it was gone. And it was all his own fault. He hated being such an enemy to the other boy. However, since he was proud, he could not apologize. They rode back to the hotel in silence.

When they arrived, William sighed at the other man. "I'm going to the café for awhile."

"Actually, Harvey, do you wanna catch a film on the pay-per-view? I mean… we have been living together for about two months. And we still have about ten to go. So maybe some cinema might be the thing to…"

He trailed off. William pondered. It would be dark. They would be sitting on the sofa. Comfortable, close. And maybe it would be a romantic movie. What then? Would he be able to retrain himself, keep all semblance of pride he had left in check? He didn't know. But any way to get close to him, be able to map that flawless visage unnoticed… he had to take it the chance. He would shoot himself if he didn't. "K."

Shane mocked him. "Oh, don't be too excited." William sneered.

"Maybe I should go to the café."

"Oh, just come with me." Shane grabbed Will's wrist. The sudden contact sent shivers through the tenor, but he couldn't let himself be rattled. Barton began to drag him though the hotel, not even releasing his captive on the elevator. William knew the gesture was one of anger, but he didn't mind. As long as Shane kept his soft hand around his wrist, it would all be ok. If he just moved his arm a bit, the frontman would be holding his hand.

But that would never happen.

They burst through the door to their suite, and Shane immediately let William go. It was only then that Harvey realized that the grip had hurt his wrist. Barton slumped down on the sofa and picked up a remote. "So? What do you wanna watch?"

"Does it matter? You're the one with the remote."

"Yeah." He clicked something, and made a wordless exclamation. "Hey! Look,

'Hedwig and the Angry Inch!'" He said the title of the movie in a ridiculous German accent. William rolled his big, blue eyes.

"How about not."

"Fine. Let's just watch a classic. 'A Tale of Two Cities' is on."

"I thought they only had new stuff on Pay-Per-View."

"This is a weird telly. So… you up for a little Dickens?"

"I didn't know you liked classics."

"The ending always makes me cry." Shane frowned. "So I'd rather not."

"Is that 'The Matrix?'"

Shane shielded the remote from the other boy. "No. I refuse."


There was silence as they flipped through the movies. Finally, they came upon 'A Beautiful Mind,' and decided upon that. Will sat down beside his roommate… his enemy, he realized, noting how Shane resolutely refused to meet his eyes.

As long as Barton wouldn't look at him, Will found this a perfect opportunity. By the first third of the film, he knew every crevice, every smooth, beautiful inch of his companion's face by heart. And the rockstar watched, riveted to every moment of the film. Concentration etched his every feature. Sometimes, he'd make comments about one of the actors in the movie, who had starred as Mark in one of Shane's favourite plays, 'Rent.' "I think I'm the only Briton in the world who likes that musical. It's just about a bunch of whiny yanks, but I think it's beautiful. I dunno."

Will made a note to see it sometime. Perhaps he would take Barton.

He wondered how long he could sit on his hands before he finally broke and ravaged that perfect body, before he grew tired of seeing and not touching. He couldn't risk it anymore. "I'm going to bed."

Shane turned his eyes, and only those silver-emeralds, upon the tenor.

"Tired of me, eh?"

William shrugged.

"Oh." Shane suddenly had a defeated air about him. "I see."

"You see what?"

"I was just attempting to make amends. I guess I'm just too disgusting for you, hmm? That just shows what comes of trying to befriend a 'phobe."

William narrowed his eyes. He knew he still had to keep up a façade, lest Shane discover his true feelings. "I haven't upbraided you for who you are in a long time, Barton. Stop trying to upbraid me for my upbringing. We all have our fucking shortcomings. I thought you, at least, should know."

"I hate that you hate me, Harvey. I hate your kind: intolerant bigots. Just because you put up this polite front for me doesn't mean you're sorry about what you've done to us. Blind hate is a lot to forgive."

"I didn't do anything to you!"

"Oh, yeah? What about all the times you've gone in public and spread word of our evildoings, of the fucking 'Homo Agenda?' You don't know how much blood you've spilt just by sitting there on your fucking arse and preaching the gospel of violence!"

That stung. William had to admit it. He didn't want to be a murderer. Perhaps he was disgusted by the very prospect of the blatant sinners that were the gay population, but now that he was among their ranks, he knew how helpless they were. They couldn't help being who they were. Things had changed, somewhat. He briefly pondered the fact that his motives for the attitude change were purely selfish. He regretted being so very blind. But he had to come up with a biting reply soon, or his cover would be blown. He may have regretted everything, but he sure as hell wasn't going to show it, especially to this angel with the devil's tongue. "You do the same thing, and you know it. There's hate on both sides. Like Chauvinists and the Society for Cutting Up Men. You're as much of a hypocrite as I am. So fuck you, Barton. Fuck you to hell."

"Oh, wouldn't you like to!" Shane recalled to his retreating back. And Will knew that he had to get out of there, and fast. The glitter boy's remark had hurt far too much.

The next thing he felt was the rush of open air on his face. And he was free.


Shane sighed and turned off the telly, which was now blaring and painful to his ears. Without hesitation, he made his way over to the minibar, retrieving from it a bottle of Drambuie. He would need something heavy tonight.

That had gone like fuck.

"Um… hold it right there," he said in warning to himself. "I'm not letting you fall for him. Ok. So you have a tiny, tiny little crush on him. That's as far as it goes. Whooboy." He sighed and took a swig. "You're in trouble. Why do you always like the assholes?"

The chances of the two ever actually getting together were nil. It was impossible, and not impossible in a 'Cinderella-going-to-the-ball' sort-of way. It was the actual meaning of the word. Not possible. How could two people who couldn't even watch a movie in the same room become lovers? He couldn't stand that blasted Harvey. He really, really couldn't. But it was those good looks and the occasional charm that had won Shane over. And vague memories… maybe dreams… of soft hands running through his hair, of moonlit whispers, of beautiful confessions, of soft kisses to his aching temple or to his jawline, of two crystal blue eyes shining through a misty haze of nothing, lit only by the angelic light Shane's Protector was giving off. It had to be a dream. He could not remember if it had happened. No details. Just… William.

That was why he wanted to be drunk, always. He never remembered anything when he was inebriated. And memories were dangerous. No one could afford nostalgia, nowadays; there was too a high price attached.

He took another drink, feeling the liquid fire burning down his throat and seemingly to his lungs, destroying him. Who needed self-mutilation when they had hard liquor? Shane sighed. He would go out tonight. He would forget about Harvey; forget about this little schoolgirl's fancy. He would forget everything. For that's how it always was, and, to Barton, how it always would be.


Pain. It wasn't really the pain that was uncomfortable, but it was the slow, trickling feeling that ran in crimson form down his young face. The dark was gathering around the edges of his vision. Soon, it would all be black.

He'd surprised himself, staying awake, staying conscious for however long he had been, watching his own blood fill his eyes. He couldn't feel his legs. He rose one shaking hand to his head. It was wet with blood. That, he figured, was where all the pain was coming from.

His chin-length auburn hair was flown around his face in a whirlwind of confusion, his normal rugby shirt and normal Levis jeans torn from knives and pavement and fists. And the voices still rang across his mind. Hateful, angry words that coursed through his veins like venom.

"Faggot!" They'd called, beating him against the brick of the abandoned school wall. It was getting blacker by the moment. Suddenly, a voice cut through the endless throbbing.

"Shane!" four pairs of feet came running across the street toward him. He couldn't see them, but he knew who they were.

The pretty little face, framed by long, chestnut hair, bent over him. And beside the girl was a blond boy, tall, fear lurking in his hazel eyes. A tiny boy with blue hair and huge, golden eyes was crying, comforted by a muscle-bound sort of boy with short black hair. That was all he could see.

"Jesse. Patch, Tex, Christie…" the freshman shifted, and groaned. "It hurts."

"I swear to God," Jesse shouted in anger. "I swear to God I'll kill them. I'll kill them!"

Christine nodded, but retained her cool. "Tex, can you carry him?"

"I can try."

"Shane," Patch had begun to shake convulsively. "Don't leave us alone. Keep fighting."

Shane winced as he was lifted into Texas' arms. "Ok. I'll be fine." And then everything went black.


Barton staggered in at about two. William had been waiting for him to arrive, sleeping on the couch, resting while he could. Shane was noisy as he entered. In the black room, he heard the crash of glass as he threw a bottle against the wall. Will turned on the tableside lamp. Shane narrowed his eyes.

"You," he said, his voice slurred.

"Shane. Sorry about the fight… I just wanted to sleep. I was tired." So he wasn't being totally honest, but there was always the fear that Barton would remember something.

"You were a bitch."

"So were you."

Shane slapped him. It wasn't the first time that had happened, but it was the first time that it had when the glitter boy was drunk. "I didn't do a-nything"

Will had been shocked by the outburst, but now he leapt into action. "I'm not going to fight with you now."

"What? Scared?"


Shane seemed to become sober for a mere moment, before shaking his head. "Sorry, Will."

"It's ok." William stepped up to the other boy, still rubbing his cheek.

Slowly, Shane lifted his hand and touched it to where Will's still rested below his eye. He lifted the other boy's hand away from his face and began to caress the tenor's flushing cheek. Harvey leaned toward the touch.

Shane had begun to cry. "I'm sorry." He continued to stroke the face of his supposed enemy, as if he was a wizened healer curing the smaller boy of all his ills. Will moved slightly to place a kiss on the palm that had caused him both anguish and happiness beyond measure. They stood that way for a long while.

"Sit down, Shaney," William purred, his soft, Tenor voice coercing his companion into sleep. Shane sighed, staggered over to his bedroom, and slumped down. William followed. He sat behind him, stroking his back, taking out the knots that plagued him. The Briton rolled his head backwards.

"Will, that feels good. You have to do this more often."

William only sighed contentedly. This was the closest he would ever get to the other boy, so he cherished it well into the night.


The bus rolled jauntily into Denver, Colorado. The Canis Mortem friends, who hadn't seen their hometown since they had started the band and escaped to New York, squealed in delight. The place was certainly welcoming, not in the actual construction of the city, but the people they were sure to see there. Shane sipped a little of his Vodka. He was going light today; this was homecoming.

William sat back and watched him. His roommate was caught up in the look and feel of the tiny city, and didn't notice how Will's blue eyes fell upon him with delight. He looks so happy. I want to make him happy like that.

"Hey, Harvey!" Barton poked him, almost good-naturedly. "Look, that's my favourite store. See?"

"What is it?"

"'S called the Wizard's Chest. It's bloody flipping awesome."

"Cool." Yes. He doesn't hate me today. The bus pulled to a stop in front of the Hilton Hotel, a few minutes later. Shane stepped out without a word, Canis trailing like the dog in its name, and they headed somewhere their cell phone would pick up a good signal. The weight of the place hit William full-on. This is where he grew up. His memories are all here… I wish I had any idea. Maybe I'll get to meet his parents… and pigs will fly in parade formation around my head at this exact moment. He snorted, and watched as his enemy band got excited about something.

"Ayaaaaaa!" screamed Patch in a cute voice. Will hated to admit it, but he liked the kid. It was hard for anyone to dislike him.

Shane also screamed. "Ixyyyyyyyyyy!"

The group of boys laughed and waited for the response on the phone. They laughed again a few minutes later. Aya and Ixy… maybe they were friends? He wondered if he'd meet them, too. "Nani?" Shane blinked a little. "Oh, God. No, he's an asshole. No…" Pause. "OK." He held the cell-phone away from his friends' grabbing hands. "Harvey, Aya and Ixy want to talk to you."

William got a feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach. This was going to be bad… "Hello?"

"HI!" Said a hyper, squeaky voice on the other end. Another voice shushed her.

"Shut up, Ix. Are you Deon Harvey?"

"Um… yeah?"

"OK, I have a message from Shaney's friends. If you hurt him, we hurt you. Got that?"

"Got it."

"Cause we weren't happy about this arrangement in the first place. But I swear, you lay a finger on him…"

"Ok, I got it!" William was frightened. The girl on the other end of the phone seemed tough as nails. The other girl spoke.

"You're really cute."

"Um… thank you?"

"I'm Ixy. This is Aya."

"Gah!" Aya made an unhappy sound. "Ixy's a thespian prep. You'd get along."

Ixy giggled. Will smiled… at least Shane's friends didn't all hate him. Suddenly, the phone was yanked away from him by a pair of black nailpolished hands.

"Ix, you're flirting with the enemy again, huh?" Barton paused, and raised his eyebrows sardonically at his roommate. "Uh-huh, sure you weren't. That's not what Aya says." Shane turned away and muttered under his breath. "Bloody preps."

Will's heart sank. The first five minutes were a roller coaster! Well, he was used to it by now, receiving mixed signals from the other boy on a consistent basis. He watched as Canis, as well as their manager, fought over the phone. He had learned that Christine had been Shane's friend long before the band was formed. Apparently, the band started when Christine bought Shane a guitar for doing something for her. Now, where was that familiar from…?

No. Couldn't possibly.

That would be too wacky.

He stared as the businesslike professionals turned into screaming teens. Patch and Christie were crying, and Shane was making plans for Christie, Patch, Tex, and himself to go to Bennigans with Aya and Ixy, who Will soon found out were friends from various plays they were in together. He smiled a small, sad smile as Shane and Aya related some private joke, and Christine and Ixy another. He so wished to be a part of that… but it could never be.

Suddenly, Shane grew serious. "No I don't." A pause. He frowned, yanked the phone away from his friends, and huddled in some secluded corner. "I don't." Some more mumbling. Shane turned to Will, eyes more green than ever. "Hey, Harvey. Aya wants you to come along."

Oh, crap.


How did she bloody know? Gods, I can just hate Aya sometimes. Shane sat in the taxi he had called. He was going to stay with his mum and dad after the get-together, and Harvey would go back to the hotel. The other boys and Christine were staying with their families. Jesse was hanging out with his friends, Nick and Ned. The two had had two separate groups. Jess was anything but a drammie.

Aya was in university, majoring in Theatre Arts, and was to inherit her mother's community theatre when she retired. The theatre was where they had met. It was home.

He was home.

He looked at William, who was staring blankly out the window of the cab. How could she have known? I haven't talked to her in so long. She knows me too well. Better than I know myself.

So I have a little crush, and she found out. It's not like I love him, or anything.

Not at all.

Not a bit.

The wind of the air conditioner blew some of William's dark hair in his steel blue eyes.

Oh, shit, thought Shane, turning the other way. I can't love him!

He was saved merely by the cab pulling up to the Bennigans. Shane and Deon split the cost without speaking, and strode into the bar, followed shortly by Christine, Patch, and Tex. The moment Barton set one foot inside the smoky Irish joint, he was literally bowled over by a raven-haired Ixy.


"IXY!" He cried.

Ixy left Shane to in turn glomp Christine, who she greeted with a hyper cry of, "CHRISTIE!"

Aya, her long blond locks trailing behind her, glomped Shane as well, a tiny bit more gently. Shane glimmered.

"Hey, Shay."

"Aya, imouto-chan!"

She smiled. "I am not."

"Are too. You're younger than me, right?"

"I'm not your imouto-chan!" Shane responded by lifting his elbow up.

Completely straight-faced, Aya blew on the extended appendage. She in turn lifted her elbow up, which the frontman blew on lightly. She stood, merely looking at him, then pulled him into a fierce hug. "Welcome home."