Title: Unreality

Author: AznEyes

Rating: M

Genre: Romance Humour

Disclaimer: Lord of the Flies, William Golding

Summary: Sequel to "Trapped in a Nightmare". After finally finding love in each other, Jack and Ralph have been separated once more. They gain many new experiences in their now-divided lives—some for the better and some for the worse. Will they be able to stay together despite being apart? Ralph/Jack/OCs slash.

Author's Note: Begins a few months after "Trapped in a Nightmare". I would highly recommend reading that one first, but it's okay if you don't. Reposted because of formatting problems. The breaks indicate changes of perspective, periods of time, or flashbacks.

0000000000

(01) Memories

"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, and the things you never want to lose." —from 'The Wonder Years'

0000000000

Eyes wide with wonder, the light-haired teen slowly made his way down the wet and dreary streets of downtown Surrey. He was searching for something and yet, he did not know exactly what it was that he was looking for. The night wind was pleasant cool against his face; he smiled slightly to himself, rather enjoying its sensual caress.

Squinting at the drenched road sign that he was currently passing beneath, the youth realized that this was where he was supposed to go. His pace quickened as he now made his way along the row of townhouses, and he stopped suddenly when he reached a narrow brown house with a number 4 painted neatly on its white mailbox. The house looked very much the same as the others on the block—very well kept with a blooming garden situated in front and an expensive car parked in its driveway. Yes, this was truly a high-class neighbourhood, and the boy would most definitely have been intimidated, had there been anyone there to see him.

But, no. There was not. He was the only visible being on the street.

He carefully stepped up the slippery front steps and let himself into the house. Then the young man soundlessly slipped off his shoes. His feet padded softly against the plush, forest green carpet, as he made his way up the stairs and to the slightly open door at the very end of the corridor. Holding his breath, he cautiously opened the door and peered inside. A handsome brunet was lying casually on the bed, resting peacefully. His eyes opened when the door opened, however, and his lips perked up into an impish grin when he saw the other male, his lover.

'I've been waiting for you,' he said in a knowing voice, flipping his dark hair out of his face to get a better look at the youth's rather disheveled—but ever charming—appearance. He slowly sat up and opened his arms to the teen. 'Come to me, love.'

The latter did so, allowing his lips to meet his companion's in a deep—yet chaste—kiss.

'I missed you,' the blond murmured, deeply inhaling the other's unique scent. 'I never should have let you out of my sight. I won't make that mistake again. I'm going to stay right here . . . with you.'

His lover stared at him with dark eyes, and the youth relished the swirls of love he saw, knowing the warm emotions were reflected in his own eyes.

'I love you so much,' the dark-haired teen said, drawing his companion against him.

'I love you, too,' the blond replied. He lowered his lover onto the bed and straddled his hips.

Not a moment later, the two gave into their passion . . . Lips descended upon lips with bruising force. Hearts accelerated well past their normal rhythms. Hands roamed beneath clothing, not stopping until said items were stripped away to reveal—

0000000000

BREE! BREE! BREE!

Grumbling irritably, Jack Merridew wearily rolled over and slammed his fist down on his alarm clock. He had been having such a good dream! Damn that blasted alarm clock to hell for waking him! He tiredly pulled his blankets up tighter around his body and was just starting to drift off to sleep again when—

'Jack? Jack! Have you gotten up yet?' his mother demanded, pounding on his bedroom door.

Groaning with fatigue, Jack his head buried his head under his pillow to muffle the sound. That woman had fists of iron, she did.

'JACK!'

'I'm up!' Jack finally replied, yawning widely as he did so.

'Well, hurry up! You're going to be late!'

Jack rolled his eyes. He and his mother went through the same routine every morning. After she and his father divorced, their finances had been rather unsettled. As a result of this, Jack had been forced to walk to school everyday, rather than take the school bus there. It was only a little thing, one of which only select people would probably mind, but Jack was one of those who enjoyed his sleep to excess.

Despite his attitude towards getting out of bed, however, the teen did not really mind. If walking to school was going to save his mother a few hundred dollars, then he would do it. The sudden changes in their lives had not been easy on either mother or son, especially since Jack's mother had had to buy a new house for the both of them, so he would do what he could to help out. This was only a small change in comparison to all the others; he didn't really have a valid reason to complain.

Sighing, the youth forced himself out of bed and dragged his feet across the hall to the bathroom. After stripping himself of his pyjamas, he slipped into the shower and allowed the warm water to run over his body, clearing it of its earlier fatigue. Jack hastily washed himself before stepping out of the shower and wrapping a towel firmly around his waist. Then he returned to his room.

Not ten minutes later, Jack was sprinting down the stairs with his school bag in tow. His mother tossed him his lunch in a paper bag as he was heading out the door.

'Love you!' she called after his retreating back.

'Love you, too, mum,' Jack replied. He easily jumped his front fence and started his daily run to school.

0000000000

Just as the bell rang to signal the start of the first period of the day, Jack flung himself into his seat between Fred and Lee. The former breathed a sigh of relief.

'That was a close one, Jack,' he said, eyeing the digital clock at the bottom of his computer monitor.

'Yeah, you came just as the bell was reaching its last second,' Lee said with a grin. 'Nice one.'

'What can I say?' Jack said with a shrug. 'It's a talent.'

'And a workout,' John muttered, pointedly glancing at the blond's flushed face and sweaty brow.

'Meh,' was the curt reply, before Jack turned his attention to the front of the classroom.

Their teacher, Mrs. Levington, was standing there, tapping her foot impatiently as she waited for the last-minute stragglers to run in. She was nice like that . . . but there was a catch to it. If you were caught out in the corridor after that door was shut, there was no hope of entering unless you had a note about a pre-mentioned appointment or whatever. Other than that, you had to get the notes from someone else in the class and hope that you didn't miss anything important.

Mrs. Levington flicked her dark hair away from her face and casually nudged her silver-framed glasses up the bridge of her nose, muttering quietly to herself.

'Tut tut. I just don't understand why the students must be late. It is only the second week into the semester for goodness' sake! I would think they would be thrilled to realize that they have a chance to start over again.' A few more moments passed before the young woman finally marched over to the door and shut it. Then she whirled around on her heel to face her students.

'Good morning, class. I hope you all had a restful weekend,' she said, her gaze clearly lingering on the students who were watching her with droopy eyes. Smiling slightly, she made her way to the board and wrote the title of the day's lesson in her neat cursive writing.

'Today, class, I have been forced to divide the two grades . . . yet again!' she exclaimed with a hint of annoyance. 'I ask that the elder students please refrain from making too much noise while I explain something to the grade elevens.' She turned to the left side of the class, where the grade eleven students were seated. 'Ah, yes, today we are going to discuss . . .'

Jack easily tuned her out and began browsing the Net on his computer. Since it was a split class of grade eleven and twelve students, her attention was constantly split between the two. This, of course, worked out to the advantage of the more mischievous pupils in her class. It was easy to get away with practically anything in that class.

A small box appeared in the corner of Jack's screen—a window alerting him that someone within the network wished to chat with him. Immediately recognizing the screen name, he clicked on the box and a slightly larger window appeared before him.

0000000000

Lil John says: ey, u get ne nu newz fr: Ralf l8ly? (Hey, you get any new news from Ralph lately?) (1)

Jack-in-the-Box says: mehbe. y? (Maybe. Why?)

Lil John says: jus wond'rin (Just wondering.)

Lil John says: y do u hafta ask me? (Why do you have to ask me?)

Lil John says: do i nd a reason 2b curious now? (Do I need a reason to be curious now?)

Jack-in-the-Box says: tru sae,guy (True say, guy.)

0000000000

Jack briefly looked up from his computer screen to see if Mrs. Levington had noticed anything. As she was on the other side of the room, still briefing the younger students on the day's lesson, she hadn't. His gaze wandered a few rows away from her (to the "grade 12" side of the classroom), where John was intently typing up another message to Jack.

0000000000

Lil John says: so, was dere ne ting or wut? (So was there anything or what?)

Jack-in-the-Box says: ya (Yeah.)

Jack-in-the-Box says: i got anotha lettr fr: him (I got another letter from him.)

Lil John says: lol (Laugh out loud.)

Lil John says: i swear, sumtimes its lyke u2 r marry'd or sumfin (I swear, sometimes it's like you two are married or something.)

Lil John says: ur bf sendz u a lettr evry wk..least! (Your boyfriend sends you a letter every week . . . at least!)

Jack-in-the-Box says: n i send him twice d many (And I send him twice that many.)

Jack-in-the-Box says: ie: if u hav ne wisecrax bout it,u bettr tink 2ce b4 u sae em (That is to say, if you have any wisecracks about it, you better think twice before you say them.)

Lil John says: i kno, n as;dl kfjasbb gasdkfj i wuv woo jackie baby! (I know, andas;dl kfjasbb gasdkfj I love you, Jackie baby!)

Lil John says: make swt swt lub 2me (Make sweet, sweet love to me.)

0000000000

Confused, Jack looked up at John again. He almost laughed when he saw that his friend was furiously trying to wrestle his keyboard back from Cristóbal (2), the Latino teen who sat next to him in computer class. Glancing down at his screen again, he read:

0000000000

Lil John says: ur body ish sooooooooo hot (Your body is so hot.)

Lil John says: i lyke i lyke (I like, I like.)

Lil John says: ye ye. g-unit (Yeah, yeah. G-unit.)

0000000000

Jack bit his bottom lip to restrain himself from laughing out loud.

That guy was such a joker. Cristóbal was new to their school, having only been transferred a few weeks prior. He had had no trouble at all adjusting to his new school, quickly being accepted for his rather mischievous charm. His dark hair fell across his forehead in casual waves, which only seemed to enhance his physical appeal. Cristóbal's muscular, yet lean, body wasn't too bad to look at either.

If asked, however, Jack would respond that the other teen's mysterious—yet sexy—aura was especially based on his eyes. They always held such a sincere expression in them that it was difficult not to be attracted to him. That, plus his intelligence and sense of humour, and you have yourself a—practically—perfect man. Sigh . . .

Suddenly, Cristóbal happened to glance up and catch Jack staring at him. Their gazes met, sapphire meeting ebony in a war of the wills. It was Jack who looked away first. Blushing scarlet with embarrassment, he ducked his head down behind his computer monitor. Admittedly, Cristóbal was the only person to whom Jack had been attracted to since Ralph's departure.

And speaking of Ralph . . .

It seemed that John had finally managed to reclaim his keyboard, for another message appeared on Jack's screen; this time, it lacked the perverse humour of the previous messages in "their" chat.

0000000000

Lil John says: sry bout d. no doubt d u saw wut was happenin, ye? (Sorry about that. No doubt that you saw what was happening, yeah?)

Jack-in-the-Box says: ya (Yeah.)

Jack-in-the-Box says: im jus surprised levington dint notice (I'm just surprised Levington didn't notice.)

Lil John says: ya, well, itz her, innit (Yeah, well, it's her, isn't it?)

Lil John says: besides, she was busy w/ da minors (Besides, she was busy with the minors.)

Jack-in-the-Box says: oic (Oh, I see.)

0000000000

There was a pause; then another box appeared on Jack's screen, reading: "Freddie would like to chat. Freddie says: ey, i ken c u guyz msg-ing each othr. add me 2 ur convo!" (Hey, I can see you guys messaging each other. Add me to your conversation!)

Smiling to himself, Jack glanced at the teen sitting beside him. Fred was staring at him with a look that clearly said, "ADD ME! ADD ME!" Jack sighed.

0000000000

Freddie has been added to the conversation.

Freddie says: so, wut're u guyz talkin bout? (So what are you guys talking about?)

Lil John says: i was jus askin jak bout ralf (I was just asking Jack about Ralph.)

Freddie says: ooh, n? (Ooh, and?)

Lil John says: he dint answr yet (He didn't answer yet.)

Jack-in-the-Box says: yes i did (Yes, I did.)

Jack-in-the-Box says: i sed d he sent me anotha lettr..uh..n we call each othr quite a bit 2 (I said that he sent me another letter . . . uh . . . and we call each other quite a bit, too.)

Freddie says: ooh, kissy kiss (Ooh, kissy kiss.)

Freddie says: lmao (Laughing my ass off.)

Lil John says: lol (Laughing out loud.)

Jack-in-the-Box says: w/e..its none of ur business ne way (Whatever, it's none of your business anyway.)

Freddie says: whoa, touchy (Whoa, touchy.)

Lil John says: dfnt'ly (Definitely.)

0000000000

Jack heard giggling to his other side and he realized that Lee was reading their conversation off Jack's computer monitor. He seemed to find it very amusing.

'I suppose that you want to be added, too?' the former whispered.

His friend nodded enthusiastically, and after a few choice clicks of Jack's mouse . . .

0000000000

Leeeee has been added to the conversation.

Leeeee says: u guyz DO kno d he's jus pms-ing cuz he hasnt bin gettin ne, ryte? (You guys DO know that he's just PMS-ing because he hasn't been getting any, right?)

Freddie says: tru sae (True say.)

Lil John says: ya, i guess we cant really blame the guy (Yeah, I guess we can't really blame the guy.)

Lil John says: dun wry, jak (Don't worry, Jack.)

Freddie says: ya, it'll b aight (Yeah, it'll be all right.)

Jack-in-the-Box says: grr..i'll get u4 d l8r, lee (Grr . . . I'll get you for that later, Lee.)

Jack-in-the-Box says: 4 now i'll jus giv u dis -electronic kick- (For now I'll just give you this. -Electronic kick-)

Leeeee says: ouch (Ouch.)

Leeeee says: d 1 got me ryte in da ballz (That one got me right in the balls.)

Freddie says: d was..grafyk (That was . . . graphic.)

Lil John says: ya, dfnt'ly 2much info dere (Yeah, definitely too much information there.)

Leeeee says: u kno it, jonny (You know it, Johnny.)

Lil John says: lol (Laughing out loud.)

Lil John says: s'all gud (It's all good.)

Freddie says: ne hoo, bak2 jak's o-so-complicated luv lyph.. (Anyhow, back to Jack's oh-so-complicated love life . . .)

Jack-in-the-Box says: complicated? (Complicated?)

Jack-in-the-Box says: sez hoo? (Says who?)

Jack-in-the-Box says: i had him, he left, n now we'r tryin da hole "long distance" ting (I had him, he left, and now were trying the whole "long distance" thing.)

Jack-in-the-Box says: wutz so complicated bout it? (What's so complicated about it?)

0000000000

It wasn't until Jack reread what he wrote that he realized he had let on to his friends a little more than he had intended to. If one was to read between the lines, they'd see just how much Jack was hurting over this. Sure, he was usually able to shrug it off; it wasn't really Ralph's fault that he had to leave. However, when he was alone (or any other time that he was able to think clearly, for that matter), he would realize just how lonely he was now that his lover had left.

He missed Ralph, he truly did.

Last night's dream just served as evidence to that fact. He loved Ralph and was unwilling to break it off with him. If they had to be apart like this, then that was what they had to do. After all, they didn't really have a choice in this matter. Ralph's father had called the shots and things hadn't turned out to be in their favour. What a stinker!

They had been apart for nearly two months and had sent each other no less than one or two letters per week. On top of that, there were also their ever-mounting phone bills from having talked to each other for hours at a time (though Jack had to cut back on that quite a bit due to his current financial standing). Unfortunately, in those two months, they had yet to see each other.

That was a small wish that Jack constantly yearned for. Every night before he went to sleep, he prayed that he would be able to see Ralph again—to hold him . . . to kiss him . . . to love him . . .

The pain in his heart served as a constant reminder to Jack that his wish had yet to be fulfilled. Whenever he received a new letter from Ralph, he would greedily read and reread his lover's untidy scrawl over and over again, until he practically had the letter memorized. Better yet was the few times Ralph had sent a photograph along with his letters. Jack would spend hours just staring at the other teen's features, gazing at his dark, soulful eyes and following the graceful curves of his beautiful face.

His heart leapt at the merest interaction with his lover, and he constantly wondered if his love for Ralph bordered on obsession. In a way, it was kind of creepy, really. Jack even remembered the very first letter he had received from Ralph. (Actually, it was a reply to one of Jack's letters, in which Jack had given Ralph his new address.)

0000000000

My dearest Jack,

It feels so strange to think. I haven't seen you for over a week!

I've seen the new moon . . . but not you. I've seen sunsets and sunrises, but nothing that compares of your beauty. I miss you like the sun misses the flower in the very depths of winter. The pieces of my broken heart are so small that they could be passed through the eye of a needle!

However, hope guides me. If I were unable to embrace that hope and hold it close to my heart, then I would have nothing. It is hope that gets me through the day and especially the night, the hope that after you had gone from my sight, it would not be the last time I set my eyes upon you.

I miss you, Jack, and I love you dearly.

With all the love that I possess, I remain forever yours,

Your Ralph (3)

0000000000

A lump formed in Jack's throat, for he knew how much love Ralph had poured into that letter. The ones that followed were just as heartfelt, if not more so, always ending the same way: Your Ralph. That he was, he truly was . . .

"I love you, Ralph," Jack mentally said, shivering slightly with emotion. "I love you, and I miss you so much. I wish that you were here with me." (Little did he know that there was another teen, scores of leagues away, who was thinking very much the same thing . . .)

Jack desperately tried to restrain his feelings, lest his friends (or worse, Mrs. Levington) noticed anything bizarre about his behaviour . . . but it was too late for that.

0000000000

Lil John says: ey, jak, ru ok, dude? (Hey, Jack, are you okay, dude?)

Lil John says: u havent sed ne ting in a while (You haven't said anything in a while.)

Freddie says: ya, man (Yeah, man.)

Freddie says: u dint even join in on our hole "lyori vs. everyone" convo, 1 or our fave-est rants (You didn't even join in on our whole "Lyori versus everyone" conversation, one of our most favourite rants.)

Leeeee says: n ur luking kinda pale (And you're looking kind of pale.)

Leeeee says: u aint gonna hurl on us, r u, buddy? (You aren't going to hurl on us, are you, buddy?)

Leeeee says: iph u do, least do me da courtesy of facin fred's way (If you do, at least do me the courtesy of facing Fred's way.)

Freddie says: ey! shup u (Hey, shut up, you.)

0000000000

Jack's friends really seemed to like flooding the conversation with their worries, huh?

0000000000

Lil John says: jak! sae sumfin! (Jack! Say something!)

Lil John says: its not fair! dey can c u n i cant (It's not fair! They can see you and I can't.)

Lil John says: n if i stand or sumfin, den levington will kno d sumfin is up (And if I stand up or something, then Levington will know that something is up.)

Lil John says: tell me, jak! (Tell me, Jack!)

Lil John says: i wanna kno wut'z goin on! (I want to know what's going on!)

Leeeee says: u u u! (You, you, you!)

Leeeee says: evrytin alwyz has 2b bout u (Everything always has to be about you.)

Lil John says: shup, lee (Shut up, Lee.)

Lil John says: i jus wanna make sho d jak is gonna b ok (I just want to make sure that Jack is going to be okay.)

Lil John says: ur ok, ryte, jak? (You're okay, right, Jack?)

0000000000

To either side of him, Fred and Lee were watching him with concerned looks on their faces, no longer paying attention to John's words on the screen.

Blatantly ignoring them, Jack shakily maneuvered his mouse about and clicked the little "x" in the corner of his chat window.

0000000000

Jack-in-the-Box has left the conversation.

0000000000

(1) No offense or anything, but I don't really know how many of you can understand "internet" language (or whatever you want to call it), so I'd rather be safe than sorry. The "translations" are in brackets beside the phrases.

(2) "Cristóbal" is the Spanish form of the name "Christopher". EEE! I just LOVE names from Latin-based languages (which includes Italian and Portuguese and stuff). They sound so nice, like Alejandro, Diego, Hernando, Santiago . . . I think that those were all Spanish. I seem to be especially drawn towards Spanish guys. Yeah, not that you would care, but I'm telling you anyway.

(3) Mini-Disclaimer: If you didn't recognize this letter, it was loosely based on the one from "A Knight's Tale". The one written by Sir William . . . er . . . Sir Orik . . . whoever and his friends.