DISCLAIMER: I won nothing and no one. Caleb and Kyle are the properties of themselves, obviously.


"I said I'd always be with you, didn't I?" a bodiless voice croons, words falling softly like feathers or snow into the dark velvet of the room. "I promised you we'd always be together." In a space some ten or fifteen feet off the red and orange embers of a dying fire glow, illuminating everything and nothing at the same time.

Long ago the fire had died down. Long ago the two boys stopped caring and just focused on themselves. The heat of their bodies, the talents of their fingers and lips and hips. The room isn't cold, not by a long shot, was warm even before the fire had been lit and stoked in the old fireplace.

There isn't much to be made out in the dim lighting. Somewhere in the folds of seclusion and clandestine movement two bodies are pressed close together, no clothes between them, no secrets left to be told. Here, in the cocoon, is love and security at its finest.

A hand reaches up from between blankets, tucks a lock of red hair behind an ear, as tenderly as a mother would her babe. "I love you," the voice whispers again, white teeth flashing close to the earlobe. Fingers stray and still on defined cheekbones, whites of eyes glow in the firelight. "I always have and I always will."

The boy with the red hair nods and flashes a small smile, lips tucked up just the slightest, a sign he still wasn't sure about something. Under the sheets he tangles his legs with the other boy's, brings a hand up to gently grab the back of the boy's head, fingers tucking into white-blonde locks with determination. Heads are brought close together and lips meet not long afterwards.

For a few minutes they share the same breath, have the same life support, taste the same taste. "I know," the redhead whispers breathlessly when they part. He turns his head to the fire that's still clinging onto its last minutes of life. His face is outlined in dulled reds and oranges, shadows stretching around his eyebrows and cheekbones, full lips tucked in between front teeth as he chews on them in contemplation.

"Aren't you going to say it back?" the blonde asks, tugging incessantly at the redhead's shoulder. His playful tone of earlier is replaced with a panic-stricken one and his eyes are wide as a deer's. In his right nostril the silvery glint of a nose ring is visible. A shaggy fringe covers most of his eyes.

"Don't do this to me, Caleb," he says again, more demanding this time. "Say it back. You know you mean it. We both do."

Caleb shakes his head minutely. He gently tugs his shoulder out of the blonde's grasp and sits up, sheets pooling around his naked waist like a graceful waterfall of snow. Shaking his head, Caleb pushes the red hair out of his face and closes his eyes. He sighs and pulls the sheets back, feeling on the floor for his boxers.

"Kyle, I can't," Caleb says, but his voice lacks any conviction. He dresses but doesn't go anywhere. Kyle can see his tall, lithe form silhouetted against the fireplace, shoulders slumped and head down. Sitting up, Kyle throws the covers to the end of the bed where they land with a soft breeze of air, like a dying man giving his last breath.

Not bothering with getting dressed, Kyle walks to the other side of the bed and puts a hand on Caleb's shoulder. "You want me like I want you," Kyle says, though it sounds more like he's trying to convince himself instead of Caleb.

"You must not want me very much, then," Caleb replies, a cutting iciness in his words. They slice like the sharp tip of a dagger into Kyle's heart and the blonde steps back, mouth slightly open as he tries to utter a few useless words.

"You're lying," is all he can say, wrapping his arms around his skinny torso. He suddenly feels very underdressed and self-conscious. He's got time, though, because Caleb isn't moving, hasn't moved since he got up. He doesn't make another move toward Caleb; he holds his own ground, eyebrows creased in worry.

Nothing is said for a long time, and finally the redhead cuts the silence by saying, "Times change. Alright? People want different things and I—I want more."

Anger boils inside of Kyle and he steps forward, grabbing Caleb roughly by the arm and spinning him around. Momentarily Caleb's shocked, frozen by confusion, and Kyle uses his opportunity to slap him across the face. The force of the blow knocks Caleb's head sharply sideways, and the redhead utters a surprised noise as the stinging skin-on-skin contact reverberates throughout the room.

"Fuck you," Kyle finds himself saying, venom dripping from his words. "You're a piece of shit liar, Caleb Turman." He steps back, body quaking and hands balled up into fists at his sides. Slowly Caleb brings a hand up to his cheek, touches it tenderly with fingertips.

Disbelief is etched onto his face like an old carving, a look to his brown eyes that's never been there before. Neither makes a move, feet planted to the floor like some odd beginning of a duel. Kyle sets his jaw, sends off a silent warning to Caleb.

Finally Kyle takes a deep breath, saying, "Look. You can't just… fuck me and leave. Or make up some ridiculous excuse that you've fallen out of love."

Caleb is mute, lips pressed tightly together as his eyes survey Kyle's naked form. Body language, experts say, says a lot about people. Their emotions, their secrets, everything. Right now, all Caleb can see in Kyle is defensiveness. Fear of being left alone. Fear of losing his only love.

If an expert looked at Caleb, all they'd see is indifference. And maybe he should feel a little worse about it, should feel guilt churning his stomach in capsizing waves for fucking Kyle and running. But, it's not like it's his first time. Kyle should… well, he should know better.

At least, that's what Caleb is saying—would say if someone asked him. Kyle holds on like static cling, says "I love you" too soon and too much. Caleb knows he should find it endearing, should be grateful that someone so attractive is devoting so much time to him. He wants to do better, though; date some pretty male model and see the world, maybe.

Kyle is security and familiarity, but Caleb likes change. He likes adventure, and Kyle doesn't. Opposites attract only for so long, and then the love fizzles out like a dead battery. For awhile he meant it when he said "forever," liked laying on his back wantonly while Kyle thrust into him.

Soon those tables turned and Caleb took over, took over of a situation that was quickly spiraling out of the control of his own hands. He maybe feels bad about it, if not because of the devastated, crushed look on Kyle's face, or the unshed tears sparkling in his eyes, but because there maybe was something at one time and he didn't care.

Without a word Caleb takes Kyle's hand, twines their fingers together. They lock eyes, stare silently for a minute, two minutes, God knows how many minutes. Tears cascade down Kyle's face, tracks shining in the last few embers of the fire. Caleb watches him swallow, Adam's apple bobbing, and remembers a time when such an action would give him an urge of sexual domination.

Now what he feels is nothing. He looks away for a second, takes a breath to compose himself, and turns back to kiss Kyle one last time. The blonde quivers under his fingertips, shaky, shuddering breaths between desperate mouthfuls of air. This is Caleb's goodbye, in a way, and he knows, somehow, Kyle will get over him. Caleb pulls away, takes his hand out of Kyle's. The room is on pins and needles.

Caleb finally says, "Put some pants on," and walks out of the room.

Love is such a fleeting word, after all.