Title:: Scars Run Deep

Author:: Aislin Ceivun

Fandom:: In the Flesh

Pairing:: Simon Monroe/Kieren Walker

Word count:: 10k

Disclaimer:: I don't own anything from the show. (But since it's utterly perfect from every aspect, I'm not complaining!)

Genre:: Angst, Drama, Romance, Emotional H/C

Warnings:: post-season2, slash, smut, first time, grief/mourning, guilt, mental breakdown, mild blood/gore, past trauma, scars, strange zombie biology I shaped to my liking

A/N:: In which I wanted to write some gay zombieundead smut with grief issues and managed to turn it into a fully-grown beast of angst, breaking Simon like whoa.

My undying gratitude goes to theonenamedafterahat/these-undead-dorks for beta-reading the fic and helping me out with suggestions. Thank you!

Summary::

Some scars are visible and some cannot be seen – yet they impact their bearer's life all the same.


Scars Run Deep

.

When Kieren steps into the bungalow for the first time after Amy's funeral, he freezes in the doorway for a second before visibly forcing himself to enter. His steps are tentative, and he has this strange look to his face like he isn't sure if he wanted to look around or fix his gaze on the ground.

In the end he swallows and bows his head, but his pearly white eyes keep flickering up, lingering on the walls, on the desks - searching desperately for some sign of Amy. In the kitchen he reaches for the table and caresses its hard surface with the tip of his fingers. Simon can't stop himself from staring at those long, pale fingers, so he sees the exact moment when Kieren suddenly shudders, takes a deep breath and pulls his hand back as if he'd just burnt it.

"You okay?" he asks quietly, watching Kieren.

Now that he's not using the cover up mousse to hide his true self, Kieren's face is always of its natural ghastly colour - yet Simon reckons he's never looked paler.

"Yeah," Kieren says nevertheless, eyes fluttering close. "Yeah, I just…" He makes a vague gesture with his hand and Simon doesn't pressure him into saying more. He doesn't need to. He understands.

He never moved out of the bungalow - he doesn't have anywhere else to go after all, now, that he'd betrayed the ULA (though it doesn't feel like betrayal at all, and he's more surprised by how easy andright it all seems now that he'd made his decision and chosen a side; Kieren's side) - and so he's been living here for a week feeling like Amy's ghost was behind him all the time. He keeps hearing her cheerful voice, feeling her embrace, glimpsing her in the doorway before he blinks and the sight scatters away… and it's a terrible weight on his non-beating heart. Amy was his friend - maybe the only true friend he'd ever had. His life seems so far away now, but Simon recalls that he never really had anyone to turn to. That's why he turned to drugs in the first place. (No, no, don't think about that, don't think about that, it's over, it was another life, it's over.)

When he first met Amy, he was wary of the young woman - but in time she grew on him. Despite having her life taken from her in such a painful and unfair way, she was a constant source of cheeky retorts, bubbling happiness, wits and pride and smiles. With time Simon came to like her ways, but it is only now that he realises just how much he came to love the girl.

Kieren loved her just as much, if not more. Simon can see that he has to fight not to crumble and fall apart completely at her loss.

Simon knows there is nothing to say, so he just walks to Kieren's side and touches his shoulder, squeezing it softly in comfort before dropping his arm. A choked gasp stutters out of the Kieren. He turns his head toward Simon, opening his eyes and boring his wet gaze into the man. The breath is knocked out of Simon's lungs.

"I was alright after the funeral," Kieren breathes, barely audible. "I thought I was alright. Why I am like this, then? It's been days."

"It's normal. There might be days when you feel okay; other days you might feel miserable. It will come to pass."

"Will it?" His voice drips sarcasm, now. "The other great loss of my life, I can still feel it. I still grieve him. Who's to say I'll ever stop grieving her?"

Rick Macy. Of course. Simon fights down the irrational spark of annoyance he suddenly feels upon hearing the man's name.

"I didn't mean the grief. It's true that it might never pass." He himself still carries grief and guilt over his mother's death. He doesn't think a time will come when he leaves those emotions behind. "But it will get easier."

"It doesn't feel any easier."

"I know." Simon places a tender hand to Kieren's neck and strokes his jawline, and warmth spreads out in his chest when the teen leans into his touch. "Give it time, will ya?"

Kieren nods. He lingers for a long moment before stepping away and heading toward the living room.

Simon follows him.

The rest of the afternoon passes quietly. They watch a couple of films that came out when they still had been brain dead zombies, then Kieren fishes out a sketchbook from his bag and starts drawing while Simon reads today's newspaper. It doesn't take much time to skim through the articles, however, so after that he discreetly watches Kieren from behind the pages.

They haven't spent much time together since the funeral but Sue and Steve invited him over for "dinner" a couple of times. He can see that the couple is still wary of him but he'd obviously redeemed himself in their eyes by jumping in front of a bullet to shield their son; they seem to be more at ease around him (even though his natural appearance still makes them comfortable - but he can see that they're trying, for Kieren, who never puts on a mask these days), involve him in conversations and genuinely seem to be interested in his answers. From them Simon knows that Kieren has always had artistic tendencies and he even won a scholarship for a University before… well, the tragedy stroked.

He's seen a few of Kieren's works. He is talented for sure, though he could have done well with some further education. His portraits speak of care and love, and a long-forgotten embarrassment throbs in Simon when he recalls the moment he found a sketch of his own face in Kieren's room.

The young man is sitting on the floor with the sketchbook in his lap, eyes fixed strictly on the paper as if the world stopped existing around him altogether. He pushes a wayward blond tuft of hair from his forehead and goes back to shading what looks like a picture of Amy and him.

Simon's throat suddenly feels tight. He wonders if he should say something, offer more comfort… but he has no idea what to do, how to help. Everyone has their own way of dealing with grief, and Kieren is especially sensitive - Simon knows how he "dealt" with his grief over Rick Macy's death after all. He doesn't think Kieren would do it again (no - Simon is sure he wouldn't do it ever again), but still… it must hurt terribly.

Kieren has just started coming to terms with his change, his second life. Based on the bits of information he'd caught from the Walker family members, he still bears an overwhelming guilt over what he'd done in his rabid state. (And now that is something Simon can completely relate to. He will never stop feeling guilt over what he'd done as a rabid, even though he can't remember, and he prays every day that he'll never have to.) Taking these into account, Kieren holds himself together fairly well. Simon thinks Kieren wouldn't want him to fuss over him like his mother tends to. So he leaves him be, close enough just to convey that he's there if he wants someone to talk to.

Some time later Kieren snaps his head up and looks at Simon.

"I haven't had my shot today."

"Oh. Okay."

Simon retrieves the syringe from the kitchen and goes back to the living room. By the time he returns Kieren is sitting on the couch with his shirt halfway open, looking expectantly at Simon. Simon walks behind him and pulls the collar of his shirt lower until he can see the dark hole on the base of his neck. (Such a long, beautiful neck, Simon thinks absently. For a second, he contemplates stroking his fingers over its length but he catches himself in time.) Putting the syringe in place, he administers the Neurotriptyline and then gently squeezes Kieren's shoulder when he inhales deeply.

"Thanks," Kieren says. Thick pale lashes flicker to reveal the beautiful white eyes as he looks up at Simon. "Have you had yours yet?"

"I…" Actually… he hasn't. He slept in late, then went over to the Walkers' and hadn't been home ever since. He meant to take the drug while Kieren was busy drawing, but he completely forgot about it.

Kieren must see the answer on his face because he stands up and takes the syringe from Simon's hands. "Okay then, let's switch places."

"I'll take care of it," Simon says hastily, and flinches instantly at the distress that swept into his voice. He clears his throat, and yes, this time he manages to hit a calmer note. "I usually do it for myself. You go back and finish your drawing."

"It's finished. Isn't it hard to reach your back by yourself? Let me help."

"No!"

The utter shock of Kieren's face pulls tightly at Simon's heart and he closes his eyes so he doesn't have to see it.

He didn't mean for it to come out so harshly. He just… He hates that scar. He's ashamed of it. He doesn't really mind the others on his wrists - the tell-tale signs of the drug addiction that cost him his life - but the horrifying scar on his back is another story altogether.

Trying to give some kind of explanation, Simon opens his eyes - and his face probably gives something away because the hurt expression leaves Kieren's face completely.

"Hey," he says quietly, looking Simon directly in the eyes. "We all have our scars, remember?"

A mirthless chuckle escapes his mouth. "It's… not like that."

But Kieren watches him, unblinking, and Simon finds himself turning away from that intense look. He crosses to the other side of the couch and sits down, not looking at the young man while grabbing his jumper. It's so thick there is no way the scar is visible through it, and yet it feels like the scar was burning and throbbing beneath the material, alerting everyone to its presence.

He takes the jumper off before he'd further embarrass himself by refusing to strip.

Kieren's sharp intake of breath doesn't help at all. Simon suddenly feels the need to explain.

"I was the first undead to respond to the Neurotriptyline. John… Weston and Halperin, I mean, they wanted to keep experimenting on me. So they could, you know. Perfect the drug and help everyone, including me. I thought they could fix me, they could make me… be the way I was before so I let them but it was, it started to become…"

Simon's voice breaks - and suddenly he's in the lab again while electrical shots are buzzing through his body, lamps blinding him, his back cut open and left there for hours, voice breaking on a 'please'… He swallows back the bile in his mouth and opens his eyes to reassure himself that it's over, he's in Amy's bungalow, and he's with Kieren.

Kieren.

Kieren, who has his hands on Simon's shoulders, fingers digging into his pale flesh deeply. He's upset - Simon can feel it rolling off of him in waves -, and when he speaks, his voice is so low and quiet that it very nearly makes Simon shudder.

"What did they do to you?"

"Experiments," Simon answers in a rush. He can't elaborate. He can't. "It's not like the drug marks. This is a proof that I let them do those things to me. It's-" Shameful. Pathetic. Weak. But Simon can't say any of those things because he doesn't want to admit being like that to anyone, least of all to Kieren.

Never in his life had he been brought so low as in those time; never in his existence had he felt so utterly worthless as in the moment he realised that the stupid doctors couldn't really fix him, that he'd suffered through all that painful humiliation in vain, that in his father's eyes he was worse than ever before ("useless, fag, junkie, murderer, YOU DON'T DESERVE TO LOOK AT HER" - NO! StopstopstopSTOP-)

"Simon. Ssh. Simon. Simon."

He comes back to the feeling of cool fingers rubbing gentle circles onto his cheeks; gorgeous huge eyes boring into his own. He blinks away wetness from his lashes, and Kieren sucks his lower lip in.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have pushed you."

"You didn't."

"Don't lie to me." Kieren looks so concerned Simon can't look him in the face. He's a grown-up adult, for god's sake - turning this much of a wreck in front of a teenager is simply unsightly.

Trying to gather up the crumbles of his pride, Simon clears his throat and pulls back a bit. Kieren drops his hands in an instant.

"Forgive me," he says, and is glad to hear that he doesn't sound so croaked up anymore. "I haven't been like this since…" Well. Since he broke down in that dirty hotel room after the Dead Prophet informed him that he had to sacrifice Kieren. But there is no way in hell he is telling Kieren any of that. At least not now, not so soon. "Well. A long time ago."

Kieren searches Simon's face with an expression that eighteen-year-old guys shouldn't possess. Simon can see that he wants to ask questions, but is sensible enough to let them go. Instead, he asks, "Can you administer the drug for yourself?"

Simon nods. He takes the syringe and reaches to his back like he always does… but damn it, his hands are shaking terribly. When he fails to fix the blasted thing in place for the fifth time, he curses loudly.

"Is it okay if I help? You would do it for yourself," Kieren says, not looking away from Simon. "I'll just guide your hand."

Simon wants to say no - he can do this, he'd done this a thousand times, goddamn it -, but forces himself to nod. He half-anticipates Kieren to stand up and go behind the couch, but instead he moves closer to Simon and reaches over his shoulders, taking his hands and slowly guiding it to the hole. The pose is awkward and clumsy, but from this close Simon can breathe in Kieren's scent and it helps him calm down.

He wishes Amy was here.

She understood him. The first time she wanted to help Simon a few days into their acquaintance, Simon lashed out at her angrily. Amy was having none of it, though, stood behind him, pulled his collar off… and saw the top of the scar. She run her hands through the shirt before Simon could've stopped her, mapping out the rest of the scar and gasping in horror. Trembling violently, Simon snapped and spit biting words at her in a desperate attempt to make her leave it alone.

She didn't. She just looked… sad. Her eyes were full of compassion. When she asked Simon if he was okay, her voice was soft, a balm to his soul.

Amy showed him her own scars - the dark bruises that stood out against pale skin, showing off how they ate away her life - and told him that he doesn't have to hide it. During all the time they spent together later, Simon never told her how he got his back cut opened, never told her why he was so ashamed of it… but still, she understood.

Kieren would understand if Simon would just tell him, he knows. He would. But Simon doesn't want to tell him. Everything's different with Kieren. Simon wouldn't have minded it so much if Amy thought less off him because of this weakness.

But he wouldn't bear Kieren thinking less of him because of it.

Simon shudders through the shot. As soon as it's done, Kieren takes the syringe from his hands, puts it on the floor and then cradles Simon's face with both hands, thumbs rubbing softly over his jawline.

Simon expects more questions, maybe reassurance, something… but he gets nothing. Kieren stays silent, offering the comfort of gesture and nothing more. Simon realises he prefers it this way.

After a few tense moments, he feels his shoulders relax. His breathing pattern eventually slows down and his heart doesn't feel like jumping into his throat anymore.

Kieren's right hand slides to his nape and stills there. "I forgot."

"What?"

"I forgot that I'm not the only one with problems. I'm sorry, Simon." Before the man could say anything to that however, Kieren continues. "But this explains so much! Your distrust of humans. Your devotion to the ULA. Your disgust of the cover mousse and contact lenses. You once wanted to blend in desperately, didn't you? You tried very hard to make it seem like you weren't a PDS sufferer. Hell, you must have been among the first to use the cover-up."

"I was," Simon agrees, throat tight.

"You hid behind a mask. You fell hard. You got disillusioned, turned bitter, and the Undead Prophet used this to his advantage so he could sway you to his cause." Kieren leans forward and presses a quick kiss to Simon's forehead. "He made you extremist and that's bad, but in everything else, you were right. You got up and found pride in what you are. That's what matters. You're incredible, Simon."

"No, I'm not."

Kieren lets out a surprised chuckle, and Simon promptly realises that they're having the same conversation they had in the hospital - albeit from different perspectives. Kieren's hands are once again on his shoulders, impossible warmth seeping through Simon's clothes from those soft palms.

"Believe me. You are."

Simon looks at Kieren and opens his mouth to counter, but he can't decide on what to say. He doesn't want the moment to shatter. In the end, he says nothing.


You must sacrifice the First Risen.

The distorted voice cuts into him, shatters his ribs, punctures his heart and leaves him bleeding out inside his own body.

You must sacrifice the First Risen on the 12thhour of the 12thday of the 12thmonth.

Knives, knives everywhere. So many knives, weapons to kill, every one of them deadly and horrifying. Simon imagines using them on Kieren - and bends over, bile flooding his mouth.

The First Risen must be destroyed.

Beautiful white eyes gaze at him for the first time without being hidden behind contact lenses. Lush eyelashes, kissable lips trembling ever-so-slightly under Simon's gaze. Lips that are soft and sweet under his own mouth…

/You should see him. He's beautiful./

The First Risen must be destroyed. Only then can the Second Resurrection occur.

White-hot terror rocks through his body and Simon feels overloaded. He croaks, bile burning his throat and rendering him speechless, grunting in pain like a wounded animal.

He doesn't want to hurt Kieren. He has to kill Kieren. He doesn't have anything left but his belief. He doesn't want anything else but Kieren.

It has to be done, Simon. For the greater good.

/I'm ready to follow./

He's not ready. He'll never be ready for this. He can't do this, he can't do this, he can't.

Failure, failure, failure, failure.

Sacrifice the First Risen.

He wouldn't have anything if not for the Undead Prophet and the ULA. He'd be wandering the streets aimlessly, maybe even dead already. He can't turn his back on them, not now, not after he'd found The One, not now that they're so close.

So many knives…

He chooses one that is more likely to kill Kieren instantly. He will plunge it into him from behind. It's the coward way to murder but he couldn't possibly bring himself to do it while facing him.

God. He is going to murder Kieren.

Simon bends over again. He's sick. He vomits black bile everywhere.

It has to be done.

/He's beautiful./

He's rabid.

He's fighting. Fighting Blue Oblivion like no one ever before.

Simon watches in awe, and for a moment he completely forgets about his mission.

Must be destroyed. Must be destroyed. Must. Be. Destroyed.

Two guns are pointing at Kieren. Simon breathes a mirthless sigh of relief. He doesn't have to do it. He doesn't have to kill Kieren. He just has to let it happen.

It doesn't feel like relief at all.

The 12thhour of the 12thday of the 12thmonth.

The bells are chiming. It's noon. It's time.

A gunshot.

Kieren chokes on blood, turns to face Simon. The knife he'd chosen so carefully is plunged deep into his heart. Tears of blood are streaming from his eyes and Simon stands there, frozen.

/You're incredible, Kieren./

It had to be done, Simon.

For the greater good. It had to be done.

"Simon!"

Simon screams. His lungs are collapsing, he cannot breathe, his throat feels raw and burning. He wants to rush to Kieren and gather him in his arms but he can't move and Kieren is dying…

With betrayal and hurt all over his face. His accusing gaze is burning Simon more than the fires of Hell ever could.

"Simon!"

Oh… Looks like he wasn't the First Risen after all. Sorry. Bad luck, Simon.

nonoNoNoNONONO NONO NO

"Simon! Wake up! SIMON!"

A slap on his face, and Simon breaks free of the nightmare with a rough cry. Hands are on him everywhere, touching his arms, his bicep, his face, holding and grounding as his cries slowly die away and he is left panting harshly against Kieren's worried face.

Kieren.

Acting on the first instinct, Simon grabs Kieren and crashes into him with a deadly embrace, burying his face into the pillow beside the teen's head and telling himself that it's okay, he's okay, he isn't harmed… But then the details of the dream flash in front of his eyes, and Simon feels like he's going to be sick.

He can't bear looking at him.

He rises to get away from Kieren but the guy grabs his wrist in an instant. "Simon?"

"Let go," he rasps, looking anywhere but Kieren.

"No. You just had a very bad nightmare. You look terrible. I'm not letting you go." His hold on Simon's wrist gentles, and he wraps his arms around the shaking man. The lamp on the nightstand is turned on, bathing him in cool bluish light. "There's no shame in it, Simon. I have bad nights, too. Dreams that make me want to curl up somewhere and never let anyone near me again so I don't have to be afraid of hurting them."

A bitter laugh escapes Simon. Oh god. A green boy is trying to comfort him. Him! If he knew just what Simon did…

"I almost killed you."

Kieren frowns. "No, you didn't."

"Oh, but I did! You just don't know it yet. You don't know what a monster I am." Simon has no idea why he talks. Why he tells him these things. But tell him he does. "I was sent to Roarton to find the First Risen. When I went to your house for lunch, you revealed you were The One without ever realising it. Of course I called the Undead Prophet instantly, proudly telling him about my findings. And then… You wondered why I disappeared for days? Well, I went to the city and got the instruction to sacrifice you. To destroyyou. And the Undead Prophet sent me a selection of weapons. I chose one. I was ready to kill you."

Kieren is completely still under him. His eyes are huge, his mouth slack and Simon wants to laugh like a madman because great, he'd just destroyed everything he'd wanted to keep perfect. He fucked up his life with the ULA - now he fucked up his chance with Kieren Walker as well.

He's such a mess. The Prophet put him back together after his father kicked him out, but now he fell to pieces again, all by himself. Bravo.

"I was ready to act on that… how did you phrase it? Insane belief… I'd have murdered you just to make the Prophet proud and let the Second Resurrection happen. Good, yeah? Not let me fucking go."

He yanks his arm and it slips free from Kieren's slack hold effortlessly. Before he could rise up and climb off of the teen, Kieren's eyes snap to focus. "Wait."

"Didn't you hear me? I said-"

"I heard every word you said. Simon, let me clear up something: you savedme." Kieren's voice rings clear and definite. "Whatever your intention was at the beginning, you didn't let it happen. You risked your life for me. If the bullet hit just a bit higher… No, it doesn't matter. You chose our side, not the Prophet's."

Simon shuts his eyes. Kieren can't mean to forgive him that easily, he can't. It'd be foolishness at its finest.

"However," Kieren continues, and yes, now his voice is hard, anger barely hold back, "I have a question. If you'd known it wasn't me but Amy… If you'd known that she was the First Risen… Would you have still stopped it from happening?"

Amy. The still bleeding wound in his soul… well, what is left of his soul. Wonderful, lovely Amy, who couldn't ever come close to what he's feeling for Kieren.

He can't picture himself killing Amy. He can't.

But he's not sure if he'd have jumped in the way of a flying bullet for her.

However, that wouldn't have been a situation at all; who knows how that day would've played out if he'd known it was not Kieren but Amy.

"I…"

He has no idea. He doesn't want to think about it. He can't bear thinking about it.

His entire body shudders when he feels the feather-like touch on his cheek. The fingertips burn his skin like they were coated with liquid fire.

"You are not a monster, Simon," Kieren says quietly. "Stop believing yourself to be one. You aren't."

Simon would beg to differ, but Kieren touches his face properly then, his palm stroking down his cheek and then softly up again, fingers sliding into his messy fringe and pushing them away from his forehead. His scalp tingles where the fingers rub against it, sending warmth and pleasant buzzes through his spine. His heart is still, yet what blood he still has in his body is flowing through his veins, making him feel hotter than he ever did since his death.

When Kieren cradles his face in his hands, something breaks in Simon - and whatever it was, the fragments of it digs painfully into his lungs, making it hard to breathe. However cold Kieren's palms might be, they still feel amazingly warm on Simon's skin. He knows he doesn't deserve these gentle touches, but he craves them so much he couldn't stop himself from letting it happen if it killed him.

Belatedly, he realises that they hadn't been this close since… since Simon pushed him to the ground to protect him with his body. The days between Amy's death and the funeral went past in a haze, and after the funeral Kieren spent most of his time with his family - all of them trying hard to fix what needed fixing. Simon never realised how much he'd missed Kieren's closeness, but now he can feel it with a force that kicks the breath out of his lungs.

Up till the moment of decision he told himself that what he'd felt for Kieren was simple attraction, which turned into awe after he'd came to think he was The One… but he can't deny now that it goes far deeper. He doesn't dare name it for what it is.

Simon leans forward and touches their foreheads together. Grasping Kieren's shirt, he breathes in their mixed breath. He wants to kiss Kieren so bad, yet he doesn't move. This young man is a right wonder, and as much as Simon would love to have him, he has realised by now that he is simply too tainted for Kieren.

He hears the rustle at first, and then feels the surprising warmth. It takes him a few seconds to realise that the soft feeling against his mouth is in fact caused by Kieren's lips.

Simon stills completely, doesn't dare to move. Kieren's kisses have always taken him by surprise, but this occurrence wins the day. It is sweet, slow and careful, and for a moment, Simon can't remember his own name.

But then something cracks in him - and Simon grabs Kieren's face and delves into the kiss, pushing his tongue past Kieren's lips, going as deep as he can while swallowing down the surprised moan. Their tongue collide once, twice, three times, and then Simon loses count to the delicious sensations as their lips drag against each other, tongues stroking and lapping fervently. Fingers dig into his shoulders, then his nape… pulling him closer until their chests are flush together, Simon slowly but surely drowning himself in Kieren. He sucks on his tongue, nibs at his lower lip, fucks his mouth with his tongue as Kieren makes the sweetest noises under him.

He's okay. You didn't do him any harm. He's okay. He's okay.

He lets his hand roam free, touching Kieren everywhere he can reach to prove himself that yes, he is perfectly alright. He strokes his cheek, caresses his chest, entangles their fingers and squeezes his hand before pushing his face to the juncture between shoulder and neck, scraping teeth over the pale, sensitive skin. It is cool against his lips, and smells faintly of earth under the soapy scent.

Even knowing that it's futile, Simon attempts to suck a bruise into that delicious skin… which makes Kieren groan and arch his back from the bed. Simon grunts at the delicious friction and follows Kieren's hips back down to the mattress, grinding against him and collecting a harsh, full-body shudder.

"Oh m- Simo-"

Simon repeats the motion, and oh, oh, that's amazing. He's missed this; the steam, the warmth, the hardness. The spikes of pleasure/ache punch into his guts like tiny, heated spears.

He thrusts again and Kieren gasps, gazing up at Simon through half-lidded eyes. "H-hey."

Simon forces himself to slow down - no, to stop, dammit - and look Kieren in the eye.

Seven hells - he is gorgeous. With his pupils blown impossibly wide, mouth kissed almost to a humanly shade of pink, face darkened like it was fighting a blush, he makes such a sight Simon can't tear his eyes away from him.

/You should see him. He's beautiful./

(NO! Don't think about that. It was a mistake. A huge mistake, a terrible mistake.)

"I didn't know we could still… y'know…" Kieren flips his hand in a vague motion. Simon grinds their groins together again, and the teen lets out a muffled groan. "Yeah. That."

Simon kisses him again before answering.

"We still have blood left in our veins, Kieren, otherwise we couldn't use many important parts of our body. It's just much thicker and makes everything slower, so things are different from when we were alive. For once, I have been informed that this," he thrusts his hip against the hard bulge in Kieren's pants, just to see his mouth open on another gasp," is not a very common occurrence for us. You have to be… extremely… aroused… to get a proper hard-on."

Kieren winds his arms around Simon and pulls him down for another kiss.

It takes three more minutes and a good lot of grinding for reality to come crashing on Simon.

He's just had a really bad panic attack, he's admitted to Kieren what he'd planned to do, they are in Amy's house whose passing away is still very much affecting both of them … They shouldn't do this. Not now. Not like this. He… he wants to - it feels good, it feels right - but the boy can't think straight.

"W-wait. Kieren. Wait."

Kieren stills but doesn't take his arms from where they are snaked around Simon's shoulders. "What?"

"We shouldn't."

"Why the hell not?"

"… Circumstances."

"Bullshit." Kieren lets Simon go and props himself up to his elbows, watching the man with slightly narrowed eyes. "I can see that you want to stop for my sake, but that's stupid. My judgement isn't clouded by… whatever you think, and I'm not too caught up on feeling sorry for you for what you're currently going through, either. I might not be very… experienced in these things, but I'm old enough to decide for myself."

"You're just-"

"Don't," Kieren hisses, eyes now definitely narrowing. The black pupil on all the white looks like it could swallow Simon in whole. "Don't you dare saying I'm just eighteen. Don't you dare treat me like I am a brat. You may be older, but I'm still twenty-five. Can't really help that I'm stuck looking like a teenager, now, can I?"

Simon closes his eyes for second and breathes out through his nose.

"Simon, do you want to stop?"

He doesn't really have to think about it. "I don't."

"Then we won't." Kieren visibly relaxes. He raises his arm and strokes his fingers over Simon's cheek, jaw, neck. "C'mere."

They resume kissing. It starts out slow and careful, but Kieren deepens it after some time and then it's pure warmth and closeness. Desire crawls back into Simon with full force, pulls his stomach into a tight knot and warms up his skin. Kieren's not quite there yet, but he kicks the blankets away and pulls his legs up so Simon can properly descend between his thighs, making a satisfied noise when they are once again completely flush together. His hand squeezes Simon's shoulders encouragingly before sliding beneath his nightshirt, fingers dancing on soft skin.

Simon breaks the kiss but doesn't pull away, just pants against Kieren's mouth.

"Have you ever…?"

"No." Teeth scrape against Kieren's lip absently. "Sometimes we… you know. Got hard as we kissed. But it was so awkward and embarrassing we pretended not to notice. And then he left, and I…" He shrugs, and Simon kisses him to let him know that it's okay.

Kieren lifts his arms and looks at Simon, raising an eyebrow. Simon understands the gesture and helps the teen out of the light T-shirt he wears for sleeping. A soon as he sees the naked chest in front of himself, he caresses it with gentle hands, then leans down and starts dropping feather-kisses to every surface he can reach, collecting a delicious tremble. Kieren rests his hand on the top of Simon's head and strokes his scalp while murmuring softly to him. He arches his back when Simon finds a nipple, scrapes it with his teeth and sucks on it.

Simon didn't have sex with anyone after his initial death. The years he spent by playing labour rat for the doctors are obviously out of the question, and ever since he'd joined the ULA his life revolved around their goals. He never met anyone who took his fancy, and even if he had, he'd have probably let it go. Julian was the only one who knew about his preferences (and probably the Prophet as well, though he couldn't be sure), and he told Simon about how death altered this part of their biology, but Simon simply wasn't interested.

He didn't realise just howinterested he can be until he met Kieren. What Amy told him about the bloke made a tiny something sparkle in him… something that flared to full fire after properly meeting Kieren. (Amy had always been rambling about how gorgeous her BDFF was, and yet Simon was utterly shocked to discover just how true that praise had been.) The attraction was instant. The fascination followed soon after. All the…other bits came later, as he came to know Kieren more and more.

With those other bits, Simon suddenly remembered every dirty conversation he had with Julian. Simon suddenly realised that he can still experience want. Lust. Desire.

As he now kisses his way up from Kieren's chest to his jawline, roughly claiming his mouth once again, that desire courses through his body like liquid fire, igniting his entire being.

Kieren kisses back fervently, pushing his tongue inside Simon's mouth and caressing his face, fingers touching the sensitive skin behind Simon's ears. The man groans and breaks the kiss only to grab Kieren's wrists and pull them to his mouth, pressing eager kisses onto the deep scars there.

Kieren shudders and stills, eyes suddenly snapping into focus. He stares at Simon and opens his mouth, but his protests die on his lips as Simon licks a wet stripe over the dark stitches. Simon sucks on them lightly before pushing his tongue slightly inside, tasting a bitter mix of death, dirt and dried blood. It ought to feel disgusting, he muses, but it doesn't. Not at all.

Simon is not happy that Kieren once committed suicide, but damn if he's not grateful for the chance it brought him.

"You shouldn't do that," Kieren whispers, eyes so wide they seem to be illuminating.

A tiny smirk pulls Simon's lips up before he switches hands and presses his mouth against Kieren's other wrist, giving the same attention to the scar there as he did with the other.

"They're part of you," is all he says later.

But maybe it wasn't the wisest thing to say because Kieren's face transform to that of intent.

"Then let me touch yours."

Simon stops breathing altogether. "No."

"Why? You just said my scars are part of me. Isn't it the same with yours?"

"They are different, I, I already told you that." He pulls back a bit as Kieren props himself up on his elbows. "I wouldn't mind it if it was a scar I gave to myself. But it's not. It's… you already know how I… How they…youknow. Kieren. P-please."

And Christ, he is now stuttering like an idiot. Is this some kind of special power of Kieren? An ability to make Simon lose his cool, mysterious ways and reduce him to a pathetic, stammering fool?

Except, Kieren doesn't look at him like he was thinking Simon to be a fool. He raises his hand, slowly, and then rests his palms on Simon's shoulders. They doesn't take their eyes off of each other as Kieren slides his hand lower and carefully pops the first button open, then the second, and the third… Simon's breathing quickens as the shirt eventually loosens completely around him, and he gasps on a breath when Kieren gently pushes it down from his shoulders. The shirt pools around his hips, not hiding anything.

There are no scars visible on his abdomen, yet Simon doesn't move an inch. He just keeps on staring at Kieren as the young man once again winds his arms around is shoulders and then pulls him close, flushing their naked chests together until they are breathing the same air in.

Simon's mouth falls open but no sound comes out.

Kieren presses a soft kiss to his cheek.

"It's alright," he whispers, the words a warm puff of air against Simon's face. "It's alright."

He strokes Simon's shoulders, his black hair, his neck, his nape… then his hands slide lower and his fingertips brush against the top of that ugly scar. Simon shuts his eyes closed and pushes his forehead against Kieren's throat, licking at the skin there to distract himself. Just keep breathing. Keep breathing. It's okay. It's okay.

(He won't dig his fingers in, won't rip your back open, won't prod at your spine like you were nothing more than an interesting object to be taken apart and examined…)

The flat of Kieren's palm feels searing hot against Simon's back. It slides down, brushes against the entire expanse of the surgical scar, touches the stitches and then presses against the small of his back. Simon can barely keep his panicked thoughts at bay, especially when Kieren tenses up against him, holding his breath.

"It didn't hurt," Simon finds himself saying. "I was already dead. It didn't hurt, not really. It's just the…"

"Humiliation. Shame. Fear."

The hard knot in Simon's throat turns into stone. The second it happens, Kieren's hands are back on his nape, thumbs stroking his jaws and pulling their faces close.

"I understand. I'm not angry with you, Simon, and I don't think it's shameful. You didn't do anything wrong; you only wanted to help. If someone is at fault, it's them. They should have stopped experimenting on you the moment it made you uncomfortable." A mirthless chuckle. "They used you just like the Undead Prophet did. I'm so sorry, Simon."

Simon doesn't want Kieren to pity him. He'd spent a long time burying this pathetic, broken part of himself deep down and building up the strong, confident prescience he usually emitted. It hurts him almost physically to have Kieren see him like this. It was bad enough to break down in the empty hotel room… He hadn't needed company. Certainly not the person who's come to mean to most to him.

They kiss again and it loses its sweetness: it's bitter, tastes of pain, regret and comfort. The entire situation is terrible - sex shouldn't be like this. It should be heated, lazy, rough, sensual, wild, and gentle… Not this. Not broken men clutching at each other under the unbearable weight of grief, guilt and regrets. (But then again, they are both dead: one from suicide, one from drug overdose. He shouldn't be surprised.)

Still. He wanted to give something more to Kieren.

Maybe Kieren can see some of his thoughts on his face because he forces Simon to meet his eyes. "Hey, it's okay. You're doing great."

Except, Simon doesn't feel like doing great.

To get himself rid of the situation, he reasserts control over what he can: he takes Kieren's lips in a rough kiss and winds his arms around his body. Kieren isn't at all opposed to that - what's more, he makes an obscene noise and pulls Simon even closer, like he wants to pull the man inside his body. Simon can agree with that full-heartedly. It'd be great to lose himself in Kieren.

They make out fervently, with tongues and teeth colliding, both of them grunting and moaning, rubbing against each other every place they can. Within minutes, the hard bulges in their trousers are back with full force, and Simon thrusts into Kieren like he could fuck him into the mattress just like this. Nails scrape into his back - careful of the scar, he can't help but notice - when he bites Kieren's neck and sucks the greyish skin. Kieren lifts his arse up, grinds himself against Simon's aching hard-on and falls back onto the bed that creaks under their rough movements.

"Simon," he pants harshly, again and again until Simon steals the name from those gorgeous lips with his own mouth.

When his hand snakes down and palms Kieren's hard cock through his trousers, the teen throws his head back with a loud groan. Dark blond locks stick to his forehead as he struggles to look back up at Simon with lust-blown eyes.

Simon returns his gaze and doesn't look away even when his hand slips under the material and wraps around Kieren's straining shaft. It's cool and velvety against his palm, hard as a rock, and just wet enough so he can start stroking it immediately, eliciting the most amazing choked-off sounds from Kieren. Still and unmoving his heart might be, it still jumps into Simon's throat and sets his veins alight with blazing fire.

"Oh my god, oh m-ah, Simon, god, Simon!" He jerks and shudders, nails tearing into Simon's skin and leaving angry bluish crescents on his body. "Slowe-, urgh, g-go slower I, I can't…"

Simon slides his tongue behind Kieren's slack, panting lips and laps at the inside of his mouth, feeling as though he was sipping nectar. The bed creaks under them, the air is heavy with the thick musk of arousal, and Simon can't get enough of the noises Kieren makes, his taste, his sight.

He feels a warm touch against his own trousers - tentative at first, then more sure. When he grinds down to get more of that delicious friction, Kieren seems to pick up his confidence and makes his grip tighter, stroking the hard length of Simon's cock as he watches the man's reaction intently.

"Let's get out of the trousers," Simon suggests in a low, raspy voice after some moments.

They get naked hastily and then tangle once again on the bed. By the bluish light of the night lamp, Simon can see how Kieren's face has darkened, how plump his lips have become. His skinny body is now warm to the touch, heated up to an almost humanly temperature, and his chest heaves like he couldn't get enough of air. His nipples are hard and dark against his pale skin, and when Simon's gaze drops lower, the hard length of his sex twitches in anticipation.

Kieren licks his lip absent-mindedly, sparing one quick glance at the nether regions of Simon's body. Simon is thicker, darker, with coarse hair curling around his cock like a dark nest - as opposed to Kieren's scarce, soft-looking, pale public hair.

Kieren swallows and drags his cloudy gaze up, and a small smirk finds his way onto Simon's face. Good - now he feels more control of himself. This, he has vast experience with. This, he won't fuck up.

He moves swiftly and Kieren meets him halfway for the kiss. Fingers tangle in his hair and tug at his tufts, his always strictly combed fringe now falling in his eyes, but Simon pays no attention to it. He's too busy trying to suck the life out of Kieren through his wet, slick tongue.

His stomach does a somersault when Kieren spreads his thighs wide so Simon can settle between them and their groins are now flush together without the added barrier of useless layers. He cradles Kieren his arms and pulls him close, and for the first time he doesn't flinch when Kieren does the same and his palm brush across the deep cutline over Simon's spine. He pushes his nose into the juncture between Kieren's neck and shoulder and takes deep breaths, as if to try and sniff out all the cool, spicy and otherworldly scent from the teen's skin. He presses a kiss to the delicate throat, and Kieren lets out a contended sigh.

"You are so amazing," he mumbles between kisses.

Kieren opens his mouth but before any word could leave his lips, Simon reaches down and cups his cock, stroking. Whatever Kieren was going to say, it turns into a keen, desperate sound.

"I would love to suck you dry," Simon whispers into Kieren's ear before sticking out his tongue and leaving a wet line on the skin below. Kieren actually whimpers at that, and his cock jumps in Simon's hand. "I would love to make you feel like dying all over."

"Oh god."

"I would have you every way possible and not let you leave this bed for weeks."

"Fuck." Kieren shuts his eyes and bites on his lip to keep the full-body shudders at bay. He doesn't really succeed.

"I would-"

Simon can't share more of his blazing hot fantasies because Kieren crashes their mouth together in a searing kiss that makes Simon forget everything in the world but the person in his arms. Kieren pushes himself up and they're suddenly sitting, legs entangled, chests stuck together, arms circling on backs, grabbing at napes, pulling at hair… Simon vaguely wonders if he'd stopped breathing altogether and now he solely exists on Kieren's fervent kisses that are so deep they seem to be reaching into the deepest parts of his being.

There is a painful pull in his hair, his jaw aches, nails scrape into his skull - and it's great, it's fantastic because it grounds him like nothing else. They share wet, open-mouthed kisses, no techniques left, really, just desperate collision of tongues and lips.

It doesn't even register that he moves his hand south until Simon suddenly feels a tight grip wrapping around their erections, pressing them together in slick closeness. He knows it must be his own because Kieren is still manoeuvring his head with two hands.

The pace he sets up is restless, quick; it turns both of them into quivering mess in less than a minute. Kieren makes a choked sound and abruptly breaks the kiss, head falling onto Simon's shoulder, mouth panting open and slack against the man's skin. His hands leave the black mess of hair and slides lower to wrap around his hips. For the briefest second unease washes through Simon (his scar is the widest at the small of his back, and there is no way Kieren can't feel it), but Kieren doesn't seem to pay any attention to it and it makes Simon able to put his discomfort away.

Kieren starts sucking on his neck then, mimicking the way Simon has left bruises behind, and it's so hot and perfect that Simon could weep from pleasure. With his free hand he clings to the young man like he never wants to let go… and promptly realises that it's exactly right. He never wants to let go of him. Even though he knows he's unworthy of him…

He never wants to let go.

But the ULA still believes Kieren to be the First Risen; they will search for him, they will try to harm him, a voice tells him in his head. And then Simon knows: he has to be here to protect him. He will never let him get hurt. Nobody's going to harm a hair on Kieren as long as Simon exists.

Kieren finds his mouth and Simon returns the kiss, letting go of the rest of his worries. For a long moment, there is nothing in his mind but Kieren's taste, the softness of his lips, his hard length pressing against his own as they start shuddering violently…

Kieren cries out when he comes, his fingers dig deep into Simon's flesh. Simon bits on his mouth to stop the useless words spilling out as he shudders through his release with eyes shut close and lips still tingling from the last of their kisses.

There is no semen spurting out from them, only a slightly increased wetness that makes Simon's hand even slicker. Even so, he can't recall a time orgasm took this much energy out of him. Completely boneless, he collapses against Kieren just as he falls back onto the bed with a gasp. Simon pants against Kieren's neck, strawberry blond locks - smelling faintly of shampoo - sticking to his face.

"God," he hears Kieren gasp, short of breath.

A warm hand finds his way onto the back of Simon's head again, and even though the pleasant currents are still crashing through his body, he is suddenly back in despair. Swallowing thickly, Simon buries his face onto the pillow beside Kieren's head.

As if he knew perfectly well what was going through the man, Kieren wraps his arms around Simon and pulls him as close as humanly possible. "Hey. I've got you."

And Simon wants to laugh because this is simply ridiculous. He's the adult, he's the experienced - he's supposed to be the stronger one. And since Kieren is grieving deeply, this entire day was supposed to be about comforting him… and not getting caught up in the shadows of his own demons.

So Simon raises his head and opens his mouth to say something, to let Kieren know (to make him believe, you mean?)that he's not the broken mess he might appears to be… but his throat closes, and his tongue feels awfully thick in his mouth.

"I've got you," Kieren mutters again, breath soft and sweet against Simon's skin. "We'll be fine. We'll both be fine, you'll see."

"We are pathetic."

"No. We are just… going through hard times."

Simon opens one eye to glance at Kieren. "You honestly believe so?"

"Well… Yeah, I guess. Yes. And you know what? I already feel a bit better."

"How so?"

Kieren's mouth twitches on a tiny smile. "I'm not the only one having issues. It's not just me and the crazy stuff in my head. And also, I kind of feel… closer to you? Not just because of the…" He makes a vague gesture and Simon is surprised to feel himself smile. "The obvious. But… I seeyou, y'know? It's like I've just peeled off a layer from you, and I know it must have been terribly hard on you, but I… yeah. I appreciate it."

Yeah. It was damn hard. And Simon's still not sure if he feels better or not. But maybe he feels a bit… lighter.

"She would say we're hopeless idiots," he mumbles, closing his eyes.

Kieren's chuckle is warm against his cheek. "Yeah, she totally would."

They don't speak more after that, just lie holding each other until the sun comes up.


Simon must have dozed off sometime in the wee hours of the morning in the end, because the next time he opens his eyes, the room is bright and he is alone in the bed. For a few moments he's not sure why that feels wrong, but then the events of yesterday came back to him and he has to fight the urge to massage his temples.

He gets out of the bed and puts on a nightgown, doing his best to ignore the small voice in his head that keeps suggesting that Kieren has run off.

His worries die instantly when he finds the teen in the kitchen.

"Hey," Kieren greets him with a sheepish smile. "Good morning."

"Morning. What time is it?"

"Nine. I was just thinking about leaving a note for you if you didn't wake up soon. I promised my parents I'll be home by 9:30. We're doing some family program today."

"That's nice." It really is. Simon knows how badly the Walker family needs to spend time together to fix their issues. And Kieren needs all the reaffirmation he can get that his family accepted the way he is now. "How long have you been up?"

"I, uh. I never actually fell back asleep?" He shrugs, but Simon can see that he's embarrassed. "I usually don't sleep in long, anyway. We have breakfast around eight."

Simon frowns. "You don't eat."

"Yeah, no shit." He rolls his eyes, but then his expression turns serious. "They like it when I'm there and 'eat' with them. It makes them feel more… normal, I guess. And it's not exactly a hardship for me."

Simon will talk to Steve and Sue about this. As much as he can understand their desire to recreate past family routines, they make Kieren face rejection every time they force him to pretend. They have to accept that Kieren doesn't need food anymore.

He made so much progress in the last few weeks, after all. He finally started to accept himself: he doesn't use masks anymore, he doesn't shy away from his own image in the mirror, he even made a self-portrait. He doesn't need this kind of pressure holding him back.

"Though actually, I'm thinking about sitting them down and talking this through with them," Kieren says suddenly, much to Simon's surprise. "I mean, I don't mind being there with them while they have a meal. It's always been a family thing, after all, and it's nice. Makes me feel… closer to them, in a way. But I don't want to pretend I'm eating anymore."

Huh. Apparently, not only is Kieren confident enough to go without mousse and contacts, but confident enough to talk about things like that. Now it's not just his appearance; he's finally starting to act like what he is.

A rush of pride surges through Simon. He flashes a soft smile at Kieren. "Yeah, okay. Do that."

Kieren returns the smile, and Simon is hit with a renewed rush of awe at how beautiful the young man is. His blond hair seems to be sparkling as the sunlight hits it, his eyes are gentle and content, his features an exciting mix of angelic and lush. When Simon's gaze absently drops to his mouth, Kieren wets his lips and his eyes flutter closed for a second.

"Listen, about last night…"

Simon's heart turns to stone. He washes his face free of emotions, turning his expression nonchalant as he raises his eyes to meet Kieren's.

He is startled by the concern in his look.

"It was great. It really was. I just… wanted to ask, if… you know. You're alright?"

Oh.

Simon has to blink a couple of times. Now this is embarrassing. Shouldn't he be the one asking that from Kieren? And the worst of all, he knows it is well within Kieren's right to be concerned about Simon after the man's pathetic breakdown last night.

"I'm fine, yeah," he mutters, suddenly angry with himself. "Sorry about that."

"No, it's alright." But Kieren must see something on Simon's face because he adds in a stronger voice, "Simon, I mean it. It's alright. I don't think you any weaker for what you've went through last night. You've just turned your back on everything you've believed to be right for the past few years, after all. Old traumas came back. It's totally understandable that you are shaken by it. But don't worry, you'll be back to your usual cool and flirtatious Mr Mysterious self in no time."

Simon chuckles before he could stop his reaction, and Kieren grins, looking far too pleased with himself. "You say?"

"Ah, yes. Definitely."

They stand there for some moments, smiling at each other, and something must have gone to Simon's mind because he seriously contemplates swaying the guy off of his feet and not letting him go back to his family after all. His chest feels awfully tight, and though it doesn't hurt - not at all similar to the suffocating feeling from yesterday - it's not entirely pleasant, either.

When the little staring-contest grows too long, Kieren abruptly gets up from the table and grasps a sheet of paper from a nearby shelf, then walks to Simon and holds it out for him.

"Before I forget: I finished the drawing from yesterday."

Simon takes it from him and stares down at the drawing. It's not just a smiling Amy and Kieren now - Simon is right there beside them, with a hand on Kieren's shoulder and an expression on his face Simon didn't knew he could make.

He opens his mouth but doesn't know what to say, so closes it back. Kieren doesn't seem to mind.

"Well then. I'm off. See you later?"

It sounds a bit tentative, like he wasn't sure where they stand now but doing his best to pretend this wasn't the case. Simon looks at him, and whatever Kieren can see on his face, it makes him relax instantly.

"Yeah, of course."

Kieren flashes him a last smile, and then moves past him.

As soon as their shoulders brush, Simon recalls something. Without thinking, he reaches for the teen then and grabs his shoulder before he could move too far, turning him around and backing him to the wall beside the kitchen door.

Last night excluded, so far it's always been Kieren to dictate the progress of their relationship. It's always been Kieren who initiated their kisses. The one time Simon attempted to act on his own rush of desire he was met with wide, afraid eyes and instant rejection, no matter how valid that reaction was. Simon suddenly feels the need to try again, to see if that changed, to see if he could get some sign of affection he just now realises how badly he wants…

He's not as stupid as to tell himself that Kieren feels anywhere near as strong for him as he does for Kieren. But some sort of affection must be there, last night proved that. He just needs some kinds of affirmation…

Now that he's pushed against the wall, Kieren seems to catch on to what's happening. For the fraction of a second, his eyes widen…

But he doesn't tell Simon to "hang on". He doesn't raise his arms.

Instead, his gaze softens.

When Simon surges forward and locks their lips together, Kieren kisses back instantly, his hands coming up to cradle Simon's head from behind, push into his hair and pull him closer and closer until there is literally no space left between their bodies.

Simon thinks that maybe… maybe… his scars have been worth this second.