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Dappled Shadows

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a stand-alone oneshot archive

{by dreamsofdestiny}

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( I : This Side Of Paradise )

Simon sighed, resting on the ground. His bare back was touching the cool dirt, and the ants crawling around were more comforting than they should have been. Of course, it wasn't as if he was hiding, or even running. He was just...resting. There was nothing wrong with doing that, of course. Finding solace in the fact that the leaves in the trees provided enough shade so that the noontime sun just barely touched his skin, he relaxed his muscles.

Here, nothing would come.

A teacher had once said that all people naturally clung to one another and thirsted for company. He did not know whether she was lying, or if he was not like "all people", for Simon always found it easier alone. With only the hurrying ants as company and the rustle of leaves as sound, he felt...at peace. Here, no one was imposing rigid rules, or insane guidelines to follow. Perhaps that was one of the better points of being stranded out here, without a hint of society at all.

Perhaps it was the gentle breeze, slightly warm yet cool at the same time.

Perhaps it was the lulling hum of the silence and the leaves.

Perhaps it was the sun and the trees and the grounds and ants all-together.

But whatever the reason, Simon found his eyelids growing heavy, despite the more-than-sufficient sleep he had gotten last night. And although it was not a sudden faint like he was prone to having, it was still the ever-accustomed unwanted unconsciousness. There was heat, and black-and sleep. And then, there was nothing else, and he felt sleep overwhelm him.

Maybe it's been a minute, or even an hour. Time can't be measured by anything except days here. And even days are forgotten at that. But all that goes to pass when Jack steps into the small tumble of dirt and weeds in which Simon rest upon. There is a crackle of leaves, because he is still human, still has mass, will still make noise. His face is still painted with deep reds of clay, and his eyes are no kinder than they've been from the first day.

He'd look surprised; might even have gasped if the mask were not in place.

Instead, he walked forward, calmly, slowly. He refused to hold his breathe, and refused to give a sigh of relief at seeing the other boy's chest rise and fall in motion with the leaves.

Jack does not know why he doesn't wake Simon up. Or perhaps leave him to die. After all, he bears no good fortune for the boy, and he's all too weak for his own good. Maybe death would be the right way to go. However, what really matters is that he does nothing of the sort, and the wild pig he was chasing is all but forgotten.

The other boy looks ridiculously peaceful, as if there was nothing wrong about catching an afternoon nap in the middle of a forest on an island without people. But then again, what does Jack know about the "right" and the "wrong"? Jack sits down, crosslegged, next to Simon. He thinks it rather strange that the ants crawl around the slumbering boy, and yet never go to touch him. But then again, they do the same for him as well.

And then one second he's watching the pale flush of the other's cheeks, and the next, Simon's eyes are wide as saucers and he can see the blue of his eyes. It happens too fast for his mind to register, and the smaller boys arms are around his neck, hugging as if Jack's a savior, or something of the sort. Jack feels a warmth in his cheeks, and would have moved to get Simon off of him if-

"It's inside." Simon says. His voice is dreadfully clear, and yet it quakes all the same, "It's here."

He lifts his head, and looks straight at Jack.

"We can't be saved."

As quickly as the whole thing began, it quiets down once more. Jack feels the tight grip of the other's arms around his neck loosen. He feels Simon's slightly mussy black hair between his chin and his shoulder. The words the other boy has said still ring clearly in his ears. He knows it's crazy, maybe a nightmare at most, but he can't help the shiver that slides down his spine.

Even back at England, Simon has always been able to see something. Something more. It is both a gift and a curse, he knows best of all, to have abilities that no one else has, and all of a sudden, Jack feels his arms unwittingly looping around Simon. It's stupid to do this when there are pigs to kill and leaders to unhenge and heck, fires to burn. It's stupid, stupid, stupid.

But all the same, Jack can stop the words coming out of his mouth no more than he can stop the beating of his heart.

"I will save you." He says. And he repeats it, just in case...in case...?

"I will save you."

And maybe it is the gently blowing wind. Or maybe it's the sun and the trees and the ground and ants. Or maybe, it's the fact that even if Simon is asleep and loony, he can still hear those words. He smiles, mysteriously, shyly, and a million other illustrious things that makes him Simon. Jack does not see this, nor does he ever need to. After all.

It is a lie and everything will soon be a lie.

Nonetheless, it is comforting to be lied to.

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