Title: What Once Was
Author: Khirsah
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Todd Anderson/ Neil Perry from Dead Poet's Society
Disclaimer: I don't own them and I don't make money from them (duh)
Summary: Todd Anderson never dreamed that he'd find love, but in the artistic soul of a fellow Dead Poet, he may have found the match to his soul.
Notes: I rented Dead Poets Society to check out a young Danny with the idea that I may slash him with one of the other boys, but after watching his antics over Kris, that idea flew out the window. But then I began to notice how close Neil and Todd stood, and the looks that were exchanged between the two. When Todd has his revelation in the classroom over the poem (check it out-- sweaty-tooth madman and a blanket that always covers your face but never your feet. Brilliant boy) Neil looks absolutely rapturous. And they hang on each other and... well, anyways. The slasher in me had a field day. *And* I also saw some really great slash potential for Todd and Nwanda, so maybe the next story that I write... :) Anyone want to see some Nwanda(a.k.a. Charlie)/Todd slash, raise your hand. Or, an easier way *would* be to e-mail flowering praise to palthanas@hotmail.com ;)
Warnings: If you've ever seen DPS, this story takes place a day before and a day after The Play and What Followed. For those of you who've never seen it-- SHAME on you, and there is a death of a main character. MAJOR angst.


I can't be you
your streams overflowing
an abundance and life that must taste of joy.
You speak, and they hear,
I hear,
drawn to your words as a moth
to a shining, consuming flame.
Consume me.
Consume me, make me shiver
and shudder against your skin
the salt of your breath wet against my lips.
I hover over your passion,
mute in the terror of not being heard
trembling at the thought that you might look up
and wonder.
I spark from your stone,
your kinder making me mad with the music
of love and lust
commingling in a bead of sweat
that hangs,
on your swollen lips.


"God damn," Charlie muttered, lighting a cigarette as his eyes scanned over the old text, "what the hell are they trying to do to us, anyway?"

"Teach us trigonometry would be my best guess," one of the other boys rebutted, red head bending over his paper, pen making perfect, neat marks along the pristine white page. "Or, rather, teaching *some* of us trigonometry."

"Meaning, wise-ass?" Charlie growled, moving forwards menacingly, blowing out a stream of smoke as his compact body glided forwards, hips swaying. He jerked up his chin at the wide-eyed blue gaze, lips quirking as he gracefully settled his stance, and his smirk widened into a grin. The red-head shook his head weakly, shrugging his shoulder as if to push aside the incidence, but Charles, a.k.a. 'Nwanda', wasn't letting that happen. "Ah-uh, Cameron." His voice took on a sing-song quality, and he winked at the rest of the gathered boys as he took a drag of his cigarette. "You were going to tell me-- tell *us*-- what you meant by that."

Cameron stood, holding out his hands in a placating gesture. "Come on, I was just kidding."

"Hear that, Meeks, the boy was just kidding."

Meeks pushed up his glasses, eyes glittering as he joined in the fun. "I heard him, Nwanda." He turned his face to look up at his wild friend, face serious. "Almost makes you wonder who the joke is."

"Guys, I really didn't mean anything..."

"I say he deserves it, Nwanda," Knox jumped in, diverting Cam's attention as he lunged forwards, causing the red-head to jump back in alarm, straight into the arms of the tall, impregnable Pitts. With a call of triumph, Pitts snagged the flailing arms behind the thin back, fingers interlocking as he held the struggling boy still. "I say you should show how much you appreciate it."

"Will do, Overstreet," Charlie grinned, knuckles cracking as he flexed his broad hands. "I will gladly do. Meeks-- hold this." He thrust his half-used cigarette into the hands of the waiting Meeks, tongue swiping out to lick his upper lip, teasing at his canines as he stepped forward.

"You guys can't be serious," Cameron whined, eyes darting about the ring of young faces. Pitts' hold was tight and bordering on pain-full, sharp points shooting up his arm as he moved. Evan Meeks was grinning broadly, eyes blinking rapidly beneath his thick glasses-- no help there. Desperately, he looked towards Neil, eyes pleading as he tried vainly to struggle away, mindful of the leisurely weaving form coming slowly towards him. This was some kind of joke, he was sure, but Cameron had not gotten where he was in life without learning that you never underestimate your enemies *or* allies, and Charles... Well, he could use some insurance.

But Neil turned his head away, gaze falling back down onto his battered play copy, lips moving silently as he read over his lines. Cameron's eyes moved on, meeting the dark gray gaze of the final boy in the room, sandy hair falling down against the overly-pale brow. With a sigh, Cameron turned his head away, knowing not to expect any useful assistance from that corner. Perhaps he could shit his way out of this play-acting with some dignity left. "Look, Charlie, we all know that I didn't mean you. That would be stupid-- I mean, I would be stupid to ever say that, especially right in front of you..."

"Sure would," Charlie breathed, close now, lips twisting up as he balled up his fist, pulling his arm back in readiness to strike. "And it's Nwanda." Cam's eyes widened as he watched the progress of that blow, his breath catching as he realized that perhaps this wasn't a joke anymore just as the fist began to fall.

"Stop!" a voice cried out, a moment too late, as that hard fist swooshed down towards his tender belly and... stopped. Charlie's eyes met his for an instant, that shit-eating grin in place before he turned his head, eyes falling on the pale hand that clamped his shoulder.

"You say something, Anderson?" he asked softly, turning as Todd jerked his hand away, bashful again. Pitts let his arms drop, and Cameron twisted away, putting distance between himself and the mercurial Charlie to hover behind a table, ready to bolt for the door if need be.

"I just... y-you know," Todd stammered painfully, eyes darting as his shoulders hunched into his customary submissive posture.

"No, Todd, I don't know-- what?"

Todd Anderson's gray eyes darted around the room, gaze locking with Cameron's for a moment before Cam yanked his eyes away, his bony shoulders shrugging defensively. Whether or not Todd's interference had had anything to do with Charlie's sudden change of venue, Cameron didn't know, but he wasn't planning on sticking his neck out for anyone-- *especially* not wimpy-Todd. "I just," he began again, shifting and looking absolutely miserable, "thought that you sh-shouldn't, t-that's all."

"That so, Anderson?" Charlie crossed his arms and stared down the slightly younger boy. "You thought that I sh-shouldn't?"

The rest of the boys laughed, causing Todd's head to drop further.

All except for one. "Hey, cut it out, guys," Neil said, looking up from his play book with a sharp, intense gaze. Immediately, the boys stopped laughing and relaxed back into the lounging poises, content to listen to their de facto leader. Neil looked over at Todd and smiled encouragingly at his roommate before he turned back to his book.

Todd smiled slightly as he sat back down, his face glowing as he hid behind a large Latin book, hands reaching blindly for his pen as the lines for his next poem burned across his mind. #Somedays, it comes like a flash of fire/racing across to burn/ and brand/ my devotion...#

"Hey-- what do we have here?" Charlie suddenly spoke, lunging forward to snatch up a paper. Eyes turned to him in curiosity as he scanned the paper, whistling low beneath his breath, but Todd was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he didn't realize what was going on until it was too late. "Looks like Toddy's been busy, guys-- a regular Whitman." He held the paper aloft and began to recite, grin widening at Todd's sudden, shocked expression. "'I can't be you/ your streams overflowing/ an abundance and life that must taste of joy.'"

"Hey-- no!" Todd cried, lunging forward as Charles danced away, dimples gleaming.

"Why, Toddy, this is good stuff, here! 'You speak, and they hear,/ I hear,/drawn to your words...'"

"Just stop!" He tried to snatch the rumpled paper away, but Charles moved past, twirling away as he jumped around the table, skating around the rest of the boys who shouted and hollered encouragement. "Please, stop it!"

"But it's just getting good!" Charlie explained, holding the sheet aloft as Todd struggled the push by Pitts. "'You speak, and they hear,/ I hear,/drawn to your words as a moth to a shining, consuming flame./ Consume me.'"

"That is enough, Chales," Neil growled, tearing the paper away from his friend. His sharp, handsome face stared down into the glowering features before Charles backed away, hands raised.

"Don't piss your pants, man. I was just having fun. I didn't mean any harm by it."

Todd sighed in relief as he took the paper from Neil, pressing the sheet to his body as if it were something sacred and alive. "I think you should apologize to Todd," Neil added, hand reaching out to touch the smaller boy's shoulder. The seventeen-year-old froze beneath the warm hand, gray eyes darting to look at the sharp chin and cheeks and nose, body shuffling away even before Neil had finished his words.

"N-no, that's all right. I'll just... I'm just gonna leave. Now." He cast a look towards his open books, then turned and left, hands clutching the rumpled piece of paper, head ducked as he half-ran out the door.

The room was silent as the older boys watched him go, then Neil turned to look at his friend, dark brows lowering. "Charlie, I..."

"Geez, what is that kid's problem?" He groused, snatching back his cigarette with a dark grumble. "You'd think that he would figure that I was just joking."

"Well, he's just really shy," Neil protested, sitting down with one last look towards the door. Todd probably wouldn't appreciate an audience at the moment. "You know how it is."

"Yeah, well, we can't keep having to watch what we say around him all the time. God, you'd think he was a chick the way he acted."

"Shut it, Charlie."

He stood, puffing angrily. "Well, fuck that. If he can't deal, then he can't deal. It was just a little friendly reaming-- it wasn't as if I meant anything by it. You guys knew that-- right, Cameron?"


"See? And if Anderson's too girlie to get that..."

"I said shut up!" Neil half-shouted, jumping out of his seat, hands pushing impulsively forward as he shoved the other boy back. Charlie's eyes widened slightly as Neil continued, sharp face furious. "You leave Todd alone-- he's a good person and he doesn't deserve any of you treating him like shit just because he doesn't stand up for himself. So just cool it, and it I catch you talking shit about him or making him feel unwelcome in any way again, I'm gonna shove your God damned face through your ass, got that?"

There was complete silence as Neil stared down the others one by one, dark eyes wild and angry. Then, with a muttered curse, he turned on his heel and stormed from he room.

Silence reigned for long moments as the remaining boys stared at each other, eyes wide and unbelieving, quiet shuffling and coughing breaking the monotony of the quiet. Then, shattering the stillness with a shrill whistle, Charlie spoke. "Well, fellows, anyone care to tell me what the fuck *that* was?"


Todd wasn't in their room, but that wasn't much of a surprise-- he'd try to find someplace where no-one else would think to look for him. Where Neil would never think to look for him.

Neil shrugged uncomfortably to himself as he recognized the fact that he was the only one who would try to follow Todd to his personal burrow. It wasn't like the other guys were inhuman or anything-- Nwanda was a bit rough, true, but he usually meant no harm by it, and Meeks and Pitts just followed along wherever he led. Knox usually had more human decency, but he'd been acting out of character ever since he met that chick, Kris, and Cameron...

Neil chuckled to himself as he stepped out of the stone archway and into the sunlight. Cameron was just an ass-licking jerk.

He paused at the edge of the flagstones and scanned the green, eyes passing over scores of boys as he searched for Todd Anderson. He wasn't sure exactly how or when it had begun, but he could always pick Todd out of even the largest crowd of look-alike, dress-alike boys, his dark eyes catching on the sandy-blond head and fastening, as if Todd had some kind of aura surrounding him, making him shine that much more than all the rest of the young men around him. Maybe it was the artistic soul that was in him, a twin to Neil's own passion for life and drama. Maybe it was something about one poet recognizing another, like they were somehow connected by art.

Huh. Maybe he should talk to Mr. Keating about that. But none of this was helping him find the younger boy.

Setting off towards a stand of trees, walking aimlessly, really, Neil allowed himself to wonder, not for the first time, how Todd could be so shy and insecure and yet so bright and intense. That moment when Keating had drawn him to the forefront of the class and had forced him to open himself up in front of the scores of interested male eyes... at that moment, something had changed inside of Todd, as if Keating had torn down a piece of a wall within the boy. It had been only a moment, only a piece, but it was enough to spark an interest in Neil that, he admitted deep within himself, possibly passed beyond mere friendship.

"This is insane," he muttered to himself, no longer paying attention to where he was going. "Absolutely insane." Oh, sure, he knew all about those kinds of relationships... Or, rather, he had heard some muttered whisperings and uncomfortable laughter in the shower room as teenage boys had joked about something that, honestly, they had known nothing about. About two men, together, touching...

Neil shifted his stride, uncomfortable and strangely attracted to the idea. Could he do that? Did he *want* to do that? With Todd?

Shaking his head, Neil paused beneath a tree and looked out towards the school, torn. A part of him, the part that was the dutiful son of a doctor, destined to enter the profession himself someday, writhed in shame at the mere idea. Two men, together was *wrong* and it was unacceptable, socially and morally, and...

But the poet, the artist, insisted that love was just that... love, no matter the shape. Yet still... could he?

He wasn't sure.

Sighing, Neil ran his hands up his arms, eyes watching as the sun set behind the old stone facade of the private school. He'd have to think on this, long and hard. Consider.

A figure in the distance caught his attention, standing on the high walkway, silhouetted black against the setting sun. Shading his gaze with his hand did not improve his vision, but Neil was certain that it was Todd standing there, face turned up to the sky, open and vulnerable in his supposed solitude. Smiling slightly, Neil leaned back against the tree to watch him unobserved, heart softening as he watched those arms spread out as if Todd were embracing the sky or offering himself up as a sacrifice, beautiful face lifted up to the glory of the setting sun as he stood, chest panting and heaving in laughter or tears. Neil's breath caught at the beauty of the moment, his heart begining to pound in his chest as he watched the sun shift downwards, easing his view so that now he could just make out the golden-touched hair and enraptured face. Were those tears gleaming in the dying light?

And then, just as Neil was prepared the break the sacred moment and call out his presence, Todd folded himself down from his glorious height and withdrew from his jacket pocket a single sheet of paper. His hands trembled visibly as he looked at it, but the smile on his face was sweet and beautiful. And then, in a sudden gust of wind, the paper flew from his hands.

Todd cried out in shock, his fingers fumbling to grasp it even as it was swept too far away, his pale face a mask of agony. He froze for a moment, staring as it fluttered down the long stories of the school to be swept into the Green before he disappeared from sight.

Shoving himself away from the tree, Neil raced to the Green, snatching up the rumpled paper even as he ran for the cover of the small chapel-house nearby, his hands clutching it to his heaving chest. Shutting the door behind him, he leaned against the stone-work with a sigh, eyes shutting tightly as he pressed his clasped hand to his breast, Todd's poem rustling in the still air. Then, slowly, he opened his eyes, blinking at the complete darkness, and looked down at what he held.

A paper, nothing more. Todd's scrawling hand-writing covered much of it's surface, winding down the bleached page. Shaking his head at his stupidity-- why on earth did he steal it to begin with?-- Neil spared a glance around the small, empty chapel and slipped into one of the old confessionals that lined the side of the church. The lighting was dim and the old wooden chair was covered in a thin layer of dust, but Neil ignored all of this as he held the paper aloft into the thin shaft of light and began to read.

"'I can't be you/ your streams overflowing/ an abundance and life that must taste of joy.'" It was, of course, the same poem that Charles had stolen earlier. Neil had expected that, but as his eyes scanned over the words, he was not prepared for the effect that they had on him. Todd had said something much like this to him earlier-- had claimed that he could never be listened to as Neil was. "Oh, God," he whispered, eyes closing. This was not possible. But then, as if compelled, Neil's eyes opened as he continue to read the poem, lips moving soundlessly over the words. "'You speak, and they hear,/ I hear,/ drawn to your words as a moth/ to a shining, consuming flame./ Consume me.'" His eyes widened at the words-- there was no way that Todd meant what it sounded like. "No way," he whispered, shaking his head. Todd didn't feel... that way about him. No way. "He probably means in some symbolic way," he assured himself, even as he eagerly lifted the page to the light again, hoping that he was wrong. "Like he wants to be like me or something." But the next words changed everything.

"'Consume me, make me shiver/ and shudder against your skin/ the salt of your breath wet against my lips.'" Neil choked back a gasp, his head shaking in denial even as his heart began to flutter in it's cage. Todd didn't mean it like that... "'I hover over your passion,/ mute in the terror of not being heard/ trembling at the thought that you might look up/and wonder.'" His tongue snaked out to dry suddenly-dry lips as he scanned the rest of the poem, certainty growing steadily inside of him. "'I spark from your stone,/ your kinder making me mad with the music/ of love and lust/ commingling in a bead of sweat/ that hangs, shivering, on your swollen lips.'"

"Oh, fuck," Neil breathed, his eyes closing as the last words resounded in his mind. "Oh, geez, oh fuck." Todd felt like this for him. There was no way that this poem could be about anyone else. No way. The words that Todd had spoken to him were intermingled within the lines, and suddenly Neil was drawn back to those times when he and Todd had spoken, remembering with a shiver the absolute softness of a hand on his shoulder or the closeness of a breath that wasn't quite shared. Even the way that Todd's eyes skated away in the shower room was an indictment, and Neil half-smiled at the image of the half-dressed boy surrounded by a sea of naked classmates. Was Todd ever uncomfortable with the unabashed sharing of nudity? Neil thought that perhaps he was-- maybe that was why Todd always kept to himself during the gym change. Often he, Neil, had often gone up to the slightly younger boy and had teased him about his state of dress. Todd had always worn a thin shirt and shorts even as the others walked around in a towel or less.

Smiling, Neil let his mind wonder what it was like for Todd to be so shy and surrounded by those to whom shyness was a distant memory of childhood. And yet, beneath that quiet front was an eloquent soul of a boy who could never measure up, just as Neil himself could never quite be good enough for his demanding father. But perhaps Todd wouldn't be so shy if it was just them, alone... Shivering, Neil stood, his mind made up. He could and he *did* want this, even if he wasn't quite sure what this would end up being. He wanted to try to open up the enigma that was Todd Anderson, and touch and feel and taste.

And he was going mad.

"But, God, it feels good," he muttered as he crossed himself before heading out into the suddenness of sunlight. His shoulders straightened as he looked up into the sky, face breaking out into a huge grin. He knew what he was going to do. And he had a lot of work to do before dinner.


Todd Anderson stood before the mouth of the cave, biting his tongue nervously. The letter had been sitting on his pillow when he had come back to the room after dinner. The lettering was neat and precise, laboriously copied, like the small, cramped handwriting that filled Neil's pages of notes after he had gone back and re-written everything, copying the notes from the original loose, flowing, and faintly messy original to what his father may approve of. 'Come to the cave. Don't tell anyone.' And now he was here, not quite sure what Neil wanted of him, but positive that he would give it if it were in his power to give. He would give anything to Neil if he would just ask. Anything.

Sighing and shrugging his shoulders, Todd ducked into the cave, hunching his back as he passed by the first low dip before the cave widened out into relative comfort. Straightening, Todd looked around the small cavern, looking for his roommate. "Neil?"

No-one was there.

Shrugging, Todd sat down on a low rock that passed for a bench, eyes scanning the darkness of the cave. Somehow, it seemed different without the rest of the club filling it with smoke and noise. It was more magical and serene. And lonely.

But then, one could get used to lonely.

Leaning against the cool rock, Todd let his eyes close, feeling the tension of the day seep out of him. Charles-- or, rather, as he preferred to be called, Nwanda-- had sought him out as he was scouring the grounds for his poem and had apologized. He hadn't needed to do that, of course-- Todd knew him and his personality, and as he knew that Cha-- *Nwanda*-- meant no harm. He also knew that he was in the constant need of showing himself off, as if he were afraid that he would cease to exist if he wasn't in constant motion.

"You're smiling."

Todd started up with a surprised shout, head banging against a low out-cropping of stone as his eyes flew open, staring into dark brown orbs. "Neil!"

Neil reached forward silently to touch the back of Todd's head, fingers brushing carefully over where he had smacked it against the rock. The younger boy stared in amazement as the ends of Neils lips lifted into a small, secrete smile, his eyes widening in shock as those long, skillful fingers massaged his scalp lightly, soothingly. "You could have said something, you know." Neil spoke softly, his voice on the edge of a whisper. "I would have understood."

"W-hat?" Todd winced inside at the sound of his own voice, but it was so hard to think straight with that face so near, those fingers brushing through his hair so delicately. "What do you mean?"

Neil lifted his face, and his eyes met Todd's, brown iris' soft and shining. Todd felt his breath catch at the gentle expression, his mouth opening partially as his heart hitched in his throat, causing him to tremble. "Is this how you imagined it?" Neil whispered, face gliding forward in the semi-darkness, breath warm against Todd's face. He could feel his eyes closing-- he could no more leave them open than he could pull away-- and a low moan sounded from deep within his throat as the soft exhalation of Neil's breath moved across his skin. "Is this what you saw in your golden brain?" And then Neil's lips were touching his, skin soft and faintly warm, moistening his own parting lips as Todd gasped and sighed against the tender skin, his hands reaching up impulsively to touch the slender white throat. Neil's fingers in his hair tightened as those lips pressed closer to him, moving easily against his own as they allowed themselves to be swept up in the sensations of the kiss. Todd opened his mouth slightly to gasp in a breath, and then Neil's tongue was touching his own, wet and slick and alien, sliding against the roof of his mouth as his hands moved restlessly down to cup his cheeks.

"Oh, God," Todd moaned into the kiss, tentatively reaching out with his own tongue to dart against Neil's, shuddering at the contact. Heat washed through him, blinding him with flashes of silver and red, chasing away his shyness as he grasped Neil's face and pulled his closer, tongue thrusting madly into the hot cavern of the other boy's mouth, a soft mewling escaping from his throat as he strained to touch more, taste more, feel more.

"Todd," Neil gasped, allowing himself to be pulled half-atop the boy, bracing himself against the expanse of jacketed chest. He dropped one hand down to the exposed shirtfront, moving restlessly against the white buttoned top as he continued to kiss Todd frantically. His fingers worked pass the buttons, and he grinned against Todd's lips as he passed by the final barrier and touched the heated skin underneath.

"Fuck!" Todd hissed, pulling away sharply and banging his head once more against the sharp outcropping. This time, however he didn't seem to notice the pain. His large, dilated eyes stared into Neil's as his mouth opened, wet and slick and swollen from the other boy's kisses. His chest labored from his breathing, the tempo of his heart-beat sounding in the night air as if it were a fog-horn in the mist. "Neil, wh-what...?"

Neil leaned back and licked his lips, savoring the taste of Todd on his tongue and wanting more. "I read your poem," he began, voice husky and low. "It was beautiful, Todd."

"You read," Todd began, voice loud, then lower, his tone a hissing whisper. "You read my poem?"

"I was watching you on the parapet. You had your arms flung out, and you looked like some kind of god standing there, defying the setting of the sun. It was beautiful. You were beautiful." He reached out and let his hand skate over Todd's, smiling as the other boy's breath caught. "And then you reached into your coat and drew out your poem, but the wind caught it. I don't know why, but I had to see it, so I ran and caught it from the wind and hid in the old chapel confessionals to read it..." His eye shone as he leaned forward, tips of his fingers touching the soft cheek. "It was beautiful."

"It was about you." The way that Todd spoke, as if saying that it were beautiful *because of* Neil, made his breath catch.

"Oh, geez," Neil murmured shakily, smiling against his trembling. "What are we going to do?"

Todd's gaze dropped. "I don't know," he admitted, lashes brushing up against his cheeks. Then he glanced up through those lashes, his gray eyes dark. "But I was hoping that you could kiss me again."

Neil let out a noise that was somewhere between a laugh and a moan as he pulled the other boy towards him, laying down onto the cold hardness of the cave floor as Todd followed him, warmth enveloping him moments before their lips met again, sweet and hungry. Todd shifted into the kiss, bracing his knees on either side of Neil's compact body as he thrust his tongue deep into the willing mouth, moaning as Neil shifted beneath him. Then those lips were on his cheeks and neck, and Todd breathed out a word, perhaps a name, perhaps a prayer, as teeth tugged against the sensitive lobe of his ear, latheing the soft skin with unbelievable warmth. Lost in the sensation, Todd thrust down upon Neil, almost shrieking in disbelieving pleasure at the sensation of hard cocks touching. "Oh, shit, Todd," Neil breathed, panting against the soft flesh of his neck as the stunning array of light faded away. "Oh, God."

"I almost feel like a god," Todd whispered shakily, tentatively leaning down to let their pelvis' touch again. He gritted his teeth at the sharpness of the pleasure that raked through him, panting madly as he bit his bottom lip.

"I can understand why," Nile breathed, half-laughing as he reaching around Todd to clasp his back. "I feel so... *TODD*!" His voice rang out, loud and shocked through the cave as Todd thrust down against, this time prolonging the joining of flesh before pulling away. "Ooohhh, *fuck*," Neil moaned, eyes squeazed shut against the incredible feeling of the boy in his arms, touching and kissing him. His chest was heaving crazily, heart trying desperately to beat out of his breast, yet at the soft brush of finger along his brow, Neil opened his eyes to stare into the gray, adoring gaze above him. "Todd."

"'Feels not such awful wonder as I felt/ When first my smitten eyes beat full on thee,'" Todd whispered, fingers brushing gently back the fall of brown hair, eyes unbearably tender. "'And all night long before they feet I knelt/ Till thou wert weary of Idolatry.'"

"No, Todd," Neil whispered, arms tightening around the broad back as he pulled the other boy down fully upon him, eyes widening at the incredible feelings the heat against his own provoked. "I'll never get tired of you."

For a moment, he swore that tears glimmered against the sandy lashes, but then Todd was smiling, his face brilliant as he leaned down to press his lips against Neil's. "Good," he whispered, slowly beginning to move his pelvis against the other boy's. Neil groaned into Todd's kiss, fingers tightening almost painfully into the jacket-clad back, hips thrusting up into the mind-tingling pleasure of heat and hardness. "Oh, so good..."

Their tongues met and tangled desperately as the rhythm of their thrusts increased, growing hard and desperate as each boy, both virgins, sought to reach the dancing, agonizingly bright lights that toyed across their vision, breaths panting in the cool night's air, sending puffs of white moisture to dangle about their faces as their mouths met and detached, hearts hammering against each other as they thrust and panted and groaned, straining and moaning together as pleasure melted through them, into them, and finally, in a blaze of light, overwhelmed them.

Neil came first with a low whimper, his teeth clenching on his lower lip as he shuddered up against the weight of the other boy, eyes squeezing shut in the crashing waves of orgasm. His seed spread hot and wet up through his dark pants, seeping against Todd in searing pleasure and agony. His gray eyes opened wide and unbelieving as he shouted out his joy as he came, spilling his own seed to seep and intermingle with Neil's.

They lay together, body pressed tight against body as their jack-hammering hearts began to slow, beating almost in time as their breaths made clouds of moisture in the still air. And they were silent.

Then Todd lifted his head and looked down at the wondering face below him, his own eyes lighting up with emotion as he brushed back the dark hair. "We," he began, voice dry and broken. "We really should be getting back." It wasn't what he wanted to say.

"Yeah," Neil agreed, but neither moved, each loath to break the moment.



Slowly, Todd shifted away, his head ducking in embarrassment as he studied the wetness across the front of his trousers. Thank God it was late-- nobody would be up to see them sneak in, flushed in knowledge and smelling of sex.

"So," Neil began, standing. Todd stood as well, hand reaching up to brush his hair back from his face. "You coming to my play tomorrow night?"

"Of course." His word held more emotion than was warranted, and Neil turned a bright smile on him, leaning forward to kiss him hard.

"Good," he whispered, squeezing his new lover's hand tightly. "I'll be the best for you."

Hand-in-hand, they walked out of the cave, ducking down to pass by the low outcropping, fingers intertwining as they reached the edge of the campus. And as they changed and slipped into their beds, so close to one another, Todd let the smile that had been threatening on their way through the woods finally slip through, and he grinned into the darkness. 'I'll be the best for you' Neil had said. It wasn't quite 'I love you', but it would do for now.

He had plenty of time to say the words later.


Epilogue: Two days later

Todd looked out across the snowy landscape, his eyes brushing against the perfect whiteness of the world. Like breaths in the night. "It's so beautiful," he whispered, meaning something else, and turned to look at the other boys. "It's so beautiful."

They stared back at him, devastated, none understanding, but all hurting. Todd looked and Charlie, saw the stricken look in his eyes, and thought 'Perhaps he understands.'

And then it hit him, him him hard and fast, tearing into his tender heart with searing, aching pain and he fell down onto the white earth, retching and sobbing pain and denial. Charles was the first to reach him, long arms going about him as he tried to still the shuddering body, and then the others were with him, hands reaching out, crying, understanding. He wanted to scream 'You can't understand! He loved me!' but instead he continued sobbing, screaming out in his anguish, "It was his father, his father did it, he wouldn't kill himself," and Charles was trying to comfort him, trying to soothe him away from the pain. Then Todd pulled away, face contorted in agony as he stumbled away from the others, knowing that Charles would understand and keep the rest from following him. But now, now he had to be alone with Neil and his death.

"What did I do wrong?" he whispered as he fled, stumbling blindly through the world of white. "What did I do wrong?" His tears stung against his cheeks, and he scrubbed ineffectually with his mittened hands, falling into the drifts and staggering up again, feeling the shame and pain chasing him through the world of white. Neil was dead. Neil had killed himself. He'd been so bright, so alive, and then they had loved and he had died.

Todd laughed bitterly, never slowing his pace, hoping desperately that he would get lost and never be found again. "He was so bright and so alive, and then we loved, and then he died," he whispered, making it a poem, a eulogy. "His touch was sweet his lips were wine-- for one long moment, he was mine." He stumbled to a halt, throwing back his arms and head as he began screaming to the sky. "He was so bright and so alive, and then we kissed, and then he died. He drew the metal to his breast, and lips that never spoke of love, swallowed shame as I caressed, and brought him to the angel's side." He fell to his knees, voice harsh and hurting as he wailed into the perfect, silent blue sky. "His eyes are dulled and torn from mine, for God and angels thought it best, that I should know no touch of joy, and never dream of happiness. But I have grown despite their care, to see that I should bow inside/ for one true thing I've learned from this: Once I loved him-- and then he died."

And then, fury leaving him in a wash of red, Todd collapsed upon the pureness of the snow, his face pressed against the cold ground, staring open and tearless towards the horizon. "I loved him, and he killed himself. His father didn't do it-- I did. I killed him." Gray eyes squeezed shut in dull pain as he whispered his mantra: "He was so bright and so alive, and then I loved them, and then he died."



Author's Note: Yes, I know, I'm evil. But I may be coerced into writing a sequel where Todd may indeed learn that his love doesn't kill... maybe he can learn happiness from Charl... er, Nwanda? palthanas@hotmail.com if you want to see this.

ps-- all poems copyrighted.

"Feels not such awful wonder as I felt
When first my smitten eyes beat full on thee
And all night long before they feet I knelt
Till thou wert weary of Idolatry."
-- Oscar Wilde "Quia Multum Amavi"

I can't be you
your streams overflowing
an abundance and life that must taste of joy.
You speak, and they hear,
I hear,
drawn to your words as a moth
to a shining, consuming flame.
Consume me.
Consume me, make me shiver
and shudder against your skin
the salt of your breath wet against my lips.
I hover over your passion,
mute in the terror of not being heard
trembling at the thought that you might look up
and wonder.
I spark from your stone,
your kinder making me mad with the music
of love and lust
commingling in a bead of sweat
that hangs, shivering, on your swollen lips.
---Khirsah "Consummation"

He was so bright and so alive,
and then we loved, and then he died
touch was sweet, his lips were wine--
for one sweet moment, he was mine.
He as so bright and so alive,
and then we kissed, and then he died.
drew the metal to his breast,
and lips that never spoke of love,
shame as I caressed,
and brought him to the angel's side.
His eyes are
dulled and torn from mine,
for God and angels thought it best,
that I
should know no touch of joy,
and never dream of happiness.
But I have
grown despite their care,
to see that I should bow inside,
for one true
thing I've learned from this:
Once I loved him-- and then he died.
---Khirsah "What Once Was"

The End

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