Dappled Shadows


( V : Closer Than You Think )

It is with no thought that Simon raises the spear and takes the first stab. The action feels foreign; he feels as if he's watching another one of those motion pictures, the ones where the characters live in a world without color and sound. His fingers feel the crudely-made spear, tightly clutched between his fingers. His nose smells the blood, thick and red and coppery; all too close to him.

And all the same, he- Simon, the boy- does not see or smell any of it.

What he does feel is the buzzing of the forest around him.

His fingers are not trembling; they were not trembling when he took the first stab, and they are still not trembling, even as they go through the motions of the third, fourth, and fifth drive in. It is without the fervor of the hunters that he takes his first kill. Simon's eyes are open, concentrated on the pig, clear of their normal glazed overtone. It is without any sort of emotion that he finds the desperately throbbing heart of the boar with the edge of his spear.

Selfishly, he closes his eyes to save himself when he feels the heart of the boar beat no more.

"It was really easy," he says, more to the Lord of the Flies than himself. He has learned, in both church and choir, that the devil is always listening (even if God is not), so he relishes in the attention he is getting right now.

Sanguine red coat his arms, splatters and hugs itself about his elbows, and he stares at the twitching pig, bemused for no apparent reason.

It is in this moody state that Jack discovers him. The irony is thick; for the first time in their meetings in the clearing, it is Simon that is coated in blood and tears and death, and Jack that looks laughably clean- almost English, if those trousers were not barely hanging to his lithe body. Simon looks at the other boy, and laughs.

It shouldn't send shivers down his spine, to hear the youngest member of his choir laugh (as if possessed), but it does. And they are pleasant, traitorous shivers, his mind chooses to remind him.

"How did you..." Jack begins, only to find his throat completely dry and his mind equally blank. He licks his lips; no matter, he can start over, "How did you manage to find that pig?" It's as close to 'normal' as he can get, namely because Simon is clearly battier than normal today. Jack knows that he shouldn't think the younger boy looks so delicious drowned to the knees in red- he just does.

"It was really easy," Simon plaintively repeats, smiling sweetly at Jack, "If I just sit here, the animals come close; they smell the fruit and the flies, you see?" The pigs gives a final, unearthly twitch, before begoming stationary. Flies are slowly swarming, and Jack cannot help but notice how they seem to be drawn towards Simon, as opposed to the rotting pig's carcass.

"You're not supposed to..." Jack begins, but he does not know what he was supposed to say. 'This' was not supposed to have happened. 'He' was not supposed to run about like a common country bumpkin, killing whatever he pleased and saying whatever he thought. 'They' were not supposed to be able to see blood, much less make it flow.

"Whyever not?" Simon asks, calm and rational; a stark contrast to the bubbling, clashing waves of hysteria and euphoria in Jack.

(He looks so beautiful; He's driving you mad; He looks so good in red; He'll be coated in your blood soon.)

"Who gave you the spear?" Jack asks instead, not wanting to finish his previous question, nor wanting to answer Simon's own question.


"That bloody-" Jack starts, only to be interrupted, of all things, by Simon.

"What's wrong with that?" The voice is unnervingly calm; it's still disarmingly Simon, which makes Jack all the less able to comprehend the situation, "You all look so... happy... when you're hunting. I wanted to feel it, just a little," And then he trails off, training his gaze from Jack to the pig, and back again.

"Well?" Jack questions, demanding, "Are you... happy? Did killing the boar make you better?"

Simon does not reply, only laughs, high-pitched and shakey and not-at-all alright.

It is without hesitation that Jack walks up to the younger boy (the one the teachers had always told him to 'take care of') and socks him cleanly across the face.

Eyes wide and face smeared with a quickly-reddening bruise, Simon looks more shocked than hurt.

"Don't confuse our infantile intoxications with happiness," Jack spits out, more angry than he'd like himself to be. He needs to be more in-control, he needs to notice less of Simon, he needs to- "And don't go around slaughtering animals for the sake of some delusion of 'happiness'." He sneers, and he can already see the mirror image of himself: disgusting, "Out of all the choirboys, I thought that you would know the difference between necessity and murder."

"You're raising me on a pedestal that I cannot get off from," Simon says, without any malice, refusing to make eye contact at all.

Jack looks as if he had been punched back.

"I may experience the world differently from the rest of the choir, but that hardly means that I know the weight of a life," Simon continues, gaze still focusing of the swollen, bleeding pig, "Is it so impossible to believe that I, too, may have a dozen or so demons within me?" He stares straight at Jack, gaze unwavering, with that godforsaken smile curving up, "Please lower your expectations of me, Jack Merridew."

It is- it is a command more a request.

(He'll kill you; you'll love every minute of it.)

Simon leans forward, standing on tip-toes to lightly brush his eyelashes against Jack's cheekbones. Neither of them so much as tremble during the millisecond-long contact.

"Be careful," Simon whispers, that perpetually odd smile upon his lips, "The Beast is close than you'd like to believe."