by Bob

"So what did happen, anyway?"

"It was cold," Jack says after a moment. "Very cold. Winter."

Sasha shifts, suddenly uncomfortable in the face of such honesty. He didn't exactly mean it when he asked what happened to Peter, why Jack acted the way he did. He never expected a real answer. He didn't want to see the slack look memory slapped like wet clay onto Jack's usually expressive face.

"It was Peter's birthday. Yannow, we'd just gone out to stuff ourselves at Bertucci's, `cause we had the money." Jack doodles invisible patterns on the concrete. It has been so long since he's told anyone anything about that night, about the darkness, about the ice clamped and clumped around his soul.

He remembers it, though, every day and every night, through every howl and scream. He remembers it.

Darkness pierced with stars. The moonlight waves luminescent flags against the trees, against the snow, against the dull concrete walkway.

"We were walking back. Out on the spillway, yannow, the one that crosses the highway."

Sasha feels like he's some kind of pervert, listening to this sad tale. He's not stupid and he's not blind and he knows how it ends, knows that Peter dies and Jack is left with his pale, unlovely scars. He feels like he shouldn't be listening to this, not with the soft vibratto strain of Jack about to cry, Jack who never cries, who can't cry dear fucking god no.

"Sash--he--Peter--climbed. On. The railing."

God, let it end. No--no, don't let it end. Don't let the end come and don't let Peter's blood be spilled out there on the asphalt and don't let Jack be broken heart and body, and god, please, don't let it happen. Sasha feels so damned dirty, like he's listening in on a fucking confession. But he owes it to his second, to his friend, to listen. To hear and understand something, anything more about the wild boy.

"He climbed up and told me climb up with him and I did and--" he stops, suddenly, shivering. Sasha reaches his hand out, tentative, fearful of the bite of fury. Touches skin cold and sleeked with sweat.


"I followed."


Jack turns to him and Sasha wants to cry out, wants to yell, wants to smack him and say fuck it, don't look at me with those eyes, not those eyes all turned rotten zombie from remembering your dead friend, oh, god, don't. His eyes are hollow, sick pea-soup green, empty green-black holes ripe for falling in and leaving your soul behind.

"I followed him. I didn't know, Sash--" he bends down and their foreheads are touching and Sasha's drowning in those fierce unlovely beautiful hideous gargoyle angel eyes, caught up in someone else's memories, of the ice, the cold, the dinosaur blat of a truck's horn.

"Sasha I didn't know it was there. It wasn't--"

The truck comes barreling, roaring and the driver sees the boys. He wants them to stop playing so dangerously, might as well bleat the horn, hell, they'll get a kick out of--





"It wasn't my fault."

The boys--two boys--are falling and his truck's still moving forward and all he hears then is the shriek of the brakes and the crackling ice and the explosion of windshield all around him, splatter of hot blood and the scream isn't the brakes but the--

oh god.

"I know."

Limpet finds them, though it was Mike who warned him. He will remember walking through it like a graveyard or a warzone, some ghastly holy place. He will remember throwing up yellow-brown in the snow beside what was left of Peter's body. He will remember, too, and not with shame, his prayer over Jack's stillness, blood steaming, breath hissing.

Let him die.


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