Title: Recall what was Revealed
Fandom: Dark is Rising
Rating: PG-13 (T)
Pairing: Will/ Bran, hints of Will/OC (male)
A/N: I apologise for any OOC characters, and hope you enjoy the fic. Please be warned it contains slash (male/ male relations)
Summary: There are things more powerful than loving bonds, and that is what holds them together and always will. Will/ Bran. The complication of a third person brings things to a crux.
The voice on the other end of the phone is cold, calm and collected, as it always is. "Will," it says with no hurry, and little concern. "I won't be able to make it to your place this week I'm afraid."
Will stares rather stupidly at the phone in his hand, and wonders what to say. "Why?" he asks, because that seems the obvious thing to ask.
There is a small amused laugh. "You'll find out soon enough." The phone was put down with a click, the steady buzz beginning. Will replaced the receiver, and looked around his flat in puzzled dismay. He'd grown used to the fact that their liasions had never meant as much to the other man, as they had to him, but even so it was a shock to have it rammed home quite so brutally. The air is silent, and he realises that it was always like this when Bran wasn't here. It wasn't that the other man was noisy or even untidy, just that he had a gift for making his presence felt, be it in a tossed scarf across the sofa, or a discarded book in the kitchen.
Sometimes Will wondered why he tortured himself like this, watching Bran's face for the slightest comprehension of what they were doing, of what he was with-holding. It gave him a perverse feeling of pleasure, that Bran who held the upper hand in so many things, was so utterly unconscious of the power that Will had over him, the key piece of the puzzle that Will held in one hand, the lodestone around which Bran's very being was centred.
Bran was arrogant in their affair, if it could be called such. He came and stayed in Will's rooms when he wanted to, or had time to spare, and often he didn't stay in contact for weeks at a time. Will sometimes wondered why he didn't shut the door in his face. He knew of course. Forget loving bonds, forget love. Some things tie deeper. Some things matter more.
His feet are bare against the floor, and cold. He pads to his desk, and sits down to stare at a piece of paper, pen to the ready. He tries to concentrate on cultural syncretism, but his mind is drifting back to the conversation he's just had, the cool, logical part of his mind, the part to whom Bran is nothing more than an interesting piece in a game to complex to imagine analyzes it. His voice had sounded furtive, almost excited by something, though on the surface so reasonable. It had sounded triumphant, yet hollow, as though in victory something had been lost.
The silence is too difficult to bear, so he turns on the small radio, and tunes in to Radio Oxford. The news is just beginning, and the first item is announced in a breathless voice. An earthquake in Japan, new laws concerning law reform, violence in Israel, man found dead. The weather is read out in similar tones, light rain, heavy winds, reaching gale force that night. Road warnings are broadcast, and music starts playing, light pop. Will only half listens, the rest of him is focused on his essay. Bran is pushed out of his mind, in favour of tapping absently to the Eagles.
A little later he puts his pen aside, and dresses himself properly, shrugging on a coat, for the short walk from his room to the JCR. The weather is rainy, the wind bends him double. His mind knows the words that will calm this storm, but he doesn't use them. He never does. The common room is surprisingly full, perhaps the weather has driven the pubgoers back, and pulled the studious from their lonely rooms. Thaddeus waves to him, to sit with him, and Will manages to snatch a chair and push his way through the crowd. Thaddeus studies English literature, at least he calls it studying, and Will calls it laziness. He always seems to have spare time, and he's always cheerful.
Will gravitates to him, because he is not Bran. He is everything that Bran is not, and is never going to be. Pure public schoolboy, he's never been serious in his life, Bran's emotions and drives are completely alien to him, as alien as the need to prove himself. Blond hair falls over one eye, his hair is wild, his eyes open and honest, he reminds Will of himself more than he really likes to admit anymore. He spends money like water, because it doesn't occur to him that there could be anything else to do with it. He's unashamed of his liking men, just as he is noticably unbashful about pursuing women, confident that his charm and looks will prove certain ticket into their affections, and hopefully their beds.
It has never occured to Will, why Thaddeus might pick him as a friend, when he could have entered any group. He chose instead to drag Will into his own chosen society, to ensure Will was always there. The quiet easy friendliness is restful, especially to Will, whose sole experience with a friend that close is of turbulant, wild emotion constantly seeking, yet not finding. Thaddeus had made it clear at the beginning, that he found Will attractive, that he wouldn't say no if Will wanted something more, but he had never pressed the point.
He hadn't of course got on well with Bran, few people did. He sensed in him, a person who was not a rival, because he held a place that no-one else could with Will, but someone who cared very little about anyone else. Their courtesy was double-edged, a fact not unobserved by Will. Now Thaddeus speaks a little louder above the din of the television, and everyone's shouted conversations. "Bran not coming then?"
Will gives him a startled look. Surely he can't be that obvious? "No," he replies. Thaddeus shrugs, as though to say 'hard luck,' and Will feels the need to speak. "Can't make it."
Thaddeus looks as though he feels the need to say something, then changes his mind. "Come on. It's too loud in here." They push their way through the crowd, and out into the wet. They stand in the shelter of the doorway for a moment. "You coming to Hall tonight?" asks Thaddeus, as he stares at the lone figure crossing the quad in front of them.
"Don't know. I'm not that hungry, and it's Friday. Can't be bothered to dress for it. You?"
"Not if you can't be bothered. A few of my mates are going on a pub crawl tonight, you want to come?"
Will shakes his head. "Nah. Got work to do."
There is silence for a moment. Then Thaddeus breaks forth in frustration. "God-dammit Will, why are you so accepting? He's you around again, and you don't even mind."
Looking at Thaddeus thoughtfully, Will thinks for a moment. "Bran has reasons," he excuses his part time
lover. "I don't mind, because its not that important."
Thaddeus bites his lip then finally comes out with it. "Look Will, I'm sorry mate. I know he's a friend of yours, but I think he's a wanker to be honest with you. He keeps on messing you around, and you just are so nice about it, like it doesn't even matter. What's so special about him then?"
Will isn't perturbed in the least by his friend's outburst. "Perhaps there is nothing special Thaddeus," he says finally. "But I feel there is, and it doesn't matter to me, if he doesn't feel the same way." He knows he will never be able to explain to Thaddeus how he feels, because the feeling is so intricately bound up with his knowledge as an Old One, his thoughts and emotions as what effectively amounts to a different species. He doesn't view his relationship with Bran as being a space-time matter, but more a connection.
Thaddeus looks at him for a moment, then shakes his head. "He's a lucky , I'll give him that," he said ruefully. "I'm telling you, if I didn't know how dead-set you were on him, I'd steal you from right under his nose." He punched Will affectionately, and Will hit back.
"Miriam not enough for you?" he teased.
Thaddeus rolled his eyes. "Have you ever been out with a girl who likes sex more than chocolate? 'Cause that's Miriam. She's even worn me out."
Will laughs, and it isn't until later that night when he's lying in bed, that he feels it, the sheer, twisting wrongness in the pit of his stomach, writhing like a pit of eels within him. He falls, rather than climbs out of bed, stumbling to the sink, where he drinks water, though he knows its nothing physical. It's been with him since before Bran's phonecall, and he instinctively realises they are connected.
Stumbling to the phone he dials the number in Bran's college room in Cambridge. A very sleepy, very annoyed room-mate answers, and Will extracts the information that Bran is in Wales, has been there for two days, and hasn't left any messages. He dials the number in Wales, and paces as far as the phone-cord will allow him, back and forth. Silently he wills Bran to pick up. Come on, he mouths into the phone. It is picked up. "Bran?" he asks. His voice is even and controlled.
"Yes?" There is no trace of the just woken in Bran's voice. He seems as though he has been expecting the call.
" What's wrong?"
There is an slow silence, then an answer. "I just killed a man Old One." The phone is put down, and when Will rings back, there is only the buzzing noise that indicates it has been taken off the hook. He swears silently, and fervently. He's going to have to go bird, and fly down to Wales, as there are no trains until morning. The storm outside dissuades him, and he finally decides on his only option.
Minutes later he's banging on Thaddeus's door. The other man opens it, wide awake, and briefly Will wonders why he's still awake. Thaddeus takes in the rumpled hair, and hasty clothing, and lets him in without a word. Without preamble, Will explains that he has to get to Wales, and asks if he can use Thaddeus's car.
"It's Bran isn't it?" asks Thaddeus with no expression. Without waiting for an answer, he shrugs on his coat, and glances at Will. "Shall we go?"
Will is too bemused to protest that Thaddeus doesn't need to come. The car is warm, the music quiet, but neither of them says a word, through the hours long drive from Oxford to Wales. They stop for coffee and a changeover of drivers, and gradually the night passes into dawn. They arrive at the house, as the sun rises. Will doesn't even need to ask Thaddeus to wait outside for the moment, the other man simply curls up in the passenger seat, and closes his eyes.
Bran is sitting on a chair in the kitchen drinking tea. The rays of the rising sun, illuminate him, lending colour to his hair and face. He turns to face Will, and his glasses are off. Eyes that have never been innocent, are now cruel and cold as those of the Hunter. The gloves are off, the twisted noble king shines from pale eyes. Will does not recognise the man he has killed. All he can see is black hair, and a dark countenance, a look of surprise as he sprawls on the floor. Bran follows his gaze. "A man from the past," he says, and the words are so cold and so certain, that Will does not think to question them, to question how Bran can know such a thing. Bran takes a sip of tea, swallows and gazes evenly at Will. "Well Old One? What will you say?" His words are a tripping mockery. He bends forward and rolls the man over, in a parody of concern. "I don't think he is very well."
Will is not moving, thoughts are crashing through his mind, none of them resolving past his first shock. His tongue moves independently of his thoughts, and words spill out unconsciously. "What have you done Bran?"
Bran tilts back on two legs and stares at the ceiling. "I haven't done anything. I've had it done to me." He swings back, and the look he darts at Will is filled with hatred. In his amber gaze is mixed two conflicting personas. The person Bran was meant to be, his memories and feelings fight, malevolently tooth and nail, against what Bran has become through the loss of his past. When he was twelve he was unformed, soft and mouldable clay, and it could not be foreseen what a gap would be made by the abrogation of his heritage. Now he is twenty, and there is a hole where his heart should be, and murder in his eyes. "Old One," he chants the name softly, a world of despising in his tone, a twisted awe, as it dances across his tongue. "Will Stanton."
There is a power in naming things that belongs neither to the Light nor the Dark, but is a seperate magi o itself. It is kin to those other powers about which nothing is known, nothing can be guessed, and it can be called out in the smallest trivality, and the greatest need. The saying of his name, bound Will not with iron chains, but silken cords. Will stands taller. "Bran Pendragon," he bows his head slightly in acknowledgement, and then stands and spreads his fingers. "Forget," he says softly.
"Forget what?" the question is soft and insolent. "Forget you stole my memories from me, forget that everytime you ed me you knew what you were doing. You held me while I cried because I could not remember the name of a crystal sword, and you knew." There is a eternity of hurt and pain in his words, twisted with arrogance and doubt.
"You chose." Will says softly. It wouldn't count, it never did. It hadn't counted with anyone else either. Perhaps because people believe that things are always better on the other side of the bridge, always believe they would have chosen differently if they were given another chance to undo the past. The twelve year old boy Bran had been, was dead buried beneath the hatred and fear that were the hallmarks of the Dark.
"I was twelve Will! I could barely chose between two tapes, let alone my entire future. You should have held my decision in abeyance, until I was able to make a conscious decision."
"It doesn't work like that Bran. It never has done. The tides of Light do not pause to make ward of court orders, or grant extra time. You were special, you always have been, and you were perfectly fitted to make your own decision, and you did so." Will spits out the words. He is tired and furious, and feeling reckless. "You chose to abandon your father, never to meet your mother, you chose to stay here for some unearthly reason. Now for Gods sake, face up to it."
Bran snarls, his handsome face distorted. "Don't tell me to face up to it. Maybe you need to think of some things yourself. Like what kind of person enjoys having that sort of power over someone else?" He was breathing fast and hard, and there was malice in his face.
Will's voice is even. "A person like you perhaps." The words are softly spoken, yet for all that they cut Bran sharper than any knife as Will well knows. "Now tell me," and in Will's voice there is the subtle menace of power, "what happened here?" He was thinking fast. Bran might be awakened to his own true nature, but he neither holds all his power, nor knew how to use that which he possesses, and it was that which he counted upon. "Tell me," and his voice is no longer that of a twenty year old university student, but of an Old One in the full flourish of his power.
Bran's defiance buckled, as the power in Will's voice barreled past his own defences. "I spent the night on Cara Pwyr," he said softly. "By dawn I knew. I think I came down mad, not a poet, and he was waiting for me in the kitchen. I don't know what happened next, all I remember is hating him absolutely, and the next thing he wasn't shouting anymore, just lying there, and there was blood." His head snaps up, and he gazes at Will with undisguised animosity, and something in him is fighting the compulsion that Will is forcing upon him, something wild and feral. He is truly his father's son, and perhaps even more his mothers, and Will is struck again by the features that belong on someone else's face, "So Old One? Can you turn back the tide of time, relive the hour that I spent, resurrect the man I killed?" There is bitter pride in his voice.
There was silence, and Will thought fast. Thaddeus was asleep in the car outside, they had to get rid of the body and fast. He was strangely reluctant to use his own powers in the matter, as though they would be soiled by contact with the body. His glance snaps up to Brans, and he said one word softly. "Fire." There was understanding in the other man's eyes, and he nodded briefly. Working as swifly as they could, they broke the little furniture which remained, and piled it over the body. Then Will with one glance, set it on fire. The fire was hot enough to consume bone as well as flesh, and they fled from the room, watching as the flames began to lick at the walls, and roof, turning the cottage into a brand. They stood side by side watching it, with not a word shared between them.
In the car behind them Thaddeus stretched, and bit back a swear word in shock. The cottage they had pulled up to, was wreathed in flames, and Will was just standing there- not running for water or help or anything, and Bran was standing beside him, an arrogant jut to his chin, and coldness in his face, bringing home to Thaddeus just how much he disliked the other man. Thaddeus was lazy but he was by no means stupid, and instantly recognised that Will for some obscure reason must have torched the place. Equally quickly he grasped that it must have been at Bran's instigation. Something had changed. After a moment's hesitation he scrambled out of the car, surprising the other two from their private communication with the flames. "What the hell is going on?" he began furiously.
Bran raised an eyebrow, and looked from him to Will with a smile at once bitter, and a little admonishing. There was an insinuation in it that Thaddeus did not care for. But it was Will who answered his question, but not with an answer. "Let's go Thad," he said quietly. "There is nothing to see here." Then turning to Bran, his gaze hardened. "I don't know what you've done, I don't know what happens now. Do your thinking, and then come talk to me. You know where I am." Bran held his gaze for a moment, tawny eyes unblinking, strangely like those of an owl. Then the tension broke, and he nodded. Will stood there awkwardly, then kissed the other man on the cheek. It was brief and perfunctory, but by no means passionless. Bran passively received the kiss, then turned and began to walk down the mountain.
Will did not meet Thaddeus's eyes, merely got into the car. Once they had driven down to a small house, he pulled over, and put his head in his hands. "I'm so sorry," he said quietly. "I shouldn't have dragged you all this way, and not even be able to give you a proper explanation."
Thaddeus shrugged nonchalantly. "You're welcome Will, honestly." In one sentence he managed to change the mood from brooding, heavy with expectant questions, to a light more jokey atmosphere. "If you wanted to be warm, we could just have stopped in a pub you know." He very carefully made no mention of Bran at all. If Will wanted to talk about his errant lover, then he was going to have to start the conversation.
There was no movement for a moment, and then a clatter on the door. "Will Stanton," a woman said brightly. "What on earth are you doing out here in the cold Will? I'm glad you weren't planning on leaving without so much as a hello." His Aunt Jen stood outside, almost precisely as he remembered her from the last time they had met, a year back, her hair as black, and her face as cheerful. "You must be frozen bach, come in and I'll make you breakfast."
Will glanced ruefully at Thaddeus. "Sorry," he whispered. "Aunt Jen is a natural force when she gets under way."
"Nonsense," was the cheerful rejoinder. "I'm starving. I didn't know you had Welsh relatives." The explanation of Will's connection had to wait, as they had reached the door, and with typical hospitality, Aunt Jen had already found them seats, poured them a cup of tea, and matter of factedly started breaking eggs into a huge frying pan. Will's protests that they had to be off, were left unheard, and he reluctantly subsided, reduced to drinking the hot tea.
When Aunt Jen was satisfied that everything was frying nicely, she turned to Will with her hands on her hips. "Aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?" she demanded, and her eyes moved with a frank openess to Thaddeus who smiled charmingly at her, consciously brushing his hair out of his face.
"Of course," said Will. "Aunt Jen this is Thaddeus a friend from Oxford, Thaddeus meet my Aunt Jen."
"A good biblical name," approved Aunt Jen, but before she could say more, she had to begin dishing up the food onto two plates, the others having either eaten already, or not being up yet. Will was a little overwhelmed at the sheer amount of food in front of him, even after years of this, and Thaddeus merely began eating. Aunt Jen herself sat down with them, snatching five minutes rest, a cup of tea, and a piece of her own homemade bread. She talked on, Will occasinally managing to say something until something she said caught his attention.
"What was that Aunt Jen?"
"I said Owen Davies died three days ago. He was found sitting in his chair simply staring into space. They phoned Bran of course." Her eyes were sad. "That was a bad business," she murmured, "him and his boy." Will had no need to ask what she meant, knowing all too well what had happened. When Owen Davies had found out about their relationship, he had made it plain to Bran that he never wanted to hear from him again- that he could conform to God's law, or be outcast. Bran had turned his back on his father, and walked straight out, and as far as Will could tell had simply never spoken to him again, or even mentioned him in conversation. "The funeral is today," she continued. "I don't know if Bran has come down for it or not. If you have to head back, then I suppose you can't come either."
Thaddeus was watching Will with sharp eyes, noting every flicker across a face that was unaware it was all too expressive. "I see," was all Will said, and he began vacantly to stir his tea. After a little more time, he stood to say goodbye, kissing her on the cheek. "I really should be getting back," he said with a little rueful smile. "I wish I could stay though, he was a good man whatever his faults." In the car, Thaddeus took the wheel, refreshed by the large breakfast and copious quantity of tea that he had drunk. Will simply stared out the window, until suddenly he slammed his hand hard into the dashboard. "That's why he did it," he said quietly, defeatedly. "Why didn't the silly fool tell me?"
With his customary tact, Thaddeus merely murmured something noncommital, silently wishing he could throttle Bran. Then merely minutes later, curiousity overpowered him. "Will," he began, "what is going on?"
There was a long silence, and Thaddeus began to wonder if Will was going to speak at all. Then at last the other man began. "I've known Bran for a very long time," he said cautiously. "Since we were eleven in fact. He has always been different, and that alieness drew me to him, that feeling that he was remote from everything else. Then something happened that changed everything, changed him from whom he used to be, into someone entirely different." He stopped, and looked at Thaddeus, realising that he was venturing uncomfortably close to the truth. But since he already knew that he was going to erase the memory of this conversation, he continued. "I still fell in love with him, I think I was in love with him from age eleven, and I've never stopped." He stared at his hands. "I never knew how he thought of me, and I never told him how I felt, because I trusted neither myself nor him. He is more different than you could imagine Thad, he could be anything that he wanted to be, anything at all, but he doesn't want to. He's hollow, and everything that drives him on is hollow, his ambitions, everything. And it's all my fault."
Thaddeus drew in a deep breath and let it out explosively, bewildered by this sudden flood of words, from the usually quiet Will. "Why don't you just tell him how you feel?" he said gently. "And if he doesn't feel the same, then walk away from him because you're killing yourself, and you deserve more than that. You're not to blame for anything that has happened to him, any changes at all. Bran made the choices that he has made. I'm sorry about his father, but that doesn't give him the right to bring you down on a fool's errand and destroy your own life in an attempt to help him."
Will drew in a breath that was half a sob. "It's my fault," he whispered, "and I am so sick of it being my burden." Looking across at Thaddeus's handsome face which was looking at him in a worried way, he blinked away a suspicious wetness. "Stop here for a moment," he asked, and Thaddeus happily obliged, pulling over on the deserted road. They got out and lent on the bonnet, looking at the steep mountains and dramatic scenery. Will turned to face his friend. "I want to try something," he said, and in a smooth motion he kissed Thaddeus. There was a shocked moment, then Thaddeus was responding, drawing his arms around Will as though protecting him from something, his kiss kind and healing, deepening for a moment before Will pulled away. "It's not the same," he whispered, and extending his hand, he said quietly. "Forget."
And unlike Bran, Thaddeus did forget their whole conversation from since they had left Aunt Jen's, and he began to talk quite happily about the view, his curiousity about Bran seeming to have left him as well. Will half listened as they drove, his mind concentrating on what had happened. He refused to think about the problem of Bran yet, that was not something he wanted to think of yet. So instead he thought about Thaddeus. The other man shared a few attributes with Bran, his good looks, his unconscious ability to take command of any situation easily and to an extent his arrogance. But where Thaddeus's arrogance came from money, and a good family, Bran's was naturally inborn in him, an unconscious emotion that some would argue was unfitting in a boy who as far as he knew claimed family with a shepherd, and a nameless woman. These facts Bran seemed to rise above, but there was no doubt it ruffled feathers.
Yet Bran and Thaddeus were far more different than they were alike. Thaddeus was affable, nice, spendthrift and generous, always tactful and polite, friendly, and with a natural gift for putting others at ease. He was everything in short that most appealed to Will personally, with non of Bran's flaws it seemed (though he had others of his own.) And yet Will had felt nothing in that kiss. It had been nice, but he was used to Bran, to feeling something everytime they touched, even if it was as simple as a kiss on the cheek, or as small as their hands brushing, the heat which seemed to ignite between them. He had spoken truly to Thaddeus, when he had said words that he had never even said to himself before. He was in love with Bran, and that realisation shocked him to his core.
There are things that are never meant to be, and there is human nature. When an inexorable force, meets an immovable object, nothing can happen.
Designed as three parts. When finished will be posted as one. Reviews very welcome, and will speed up work!