It was never truly sweltering in the small, Canadian town. They were so far north of the equator that the only way the people in Whitechapel could ever really start to burn and sweat buckets of persperation was if they had the temperature of their house heaters up too high. Summers were fair, like Autumn for the center of the States, their own Autumns and Springs kind of whispy, and their winters almost brutal temperature and wind chill wise.

But even the most frosty, burning cold of the winters they had had in Whitechapel was nothing compaired to the ice creeping up Ethan's spine, his eyes large in roundness and his lungs freezing the air in his throat.

"Oh my god." Ethan breathed, the irritating chemical completely forgotten about. The gun held in Drew's hand was shaking slightly, but the aim was steady, and so was the sad look of determination in his eyes as he looked back at Ethan's frightened expression.

"Get up, Ethan." Drew comanded quietly, voice also void of shaking.

Ethan just stared stupidly between the revolver pointed at him and his friend's rather exhausted facial emotions, blinking slowly and mouth opening and closing several times as he probed his brain for an adequit answer to the demand.

"What?" was all that came out, the inquire breathless and high-pitched.

"Get up, dammit, out of your seat!" Drew shouted into the silent classroom, gesturing wildly for Ethan to stand to his feet with the small gun held in between his hands.

Ethan stared at him a moment more, resembling a deer in headlights, trying and failing to think up the words that could calm his friend down from his fury-induced insanity. He was never good with words, and everyone knew that, but the fact still didn't stop him from trying to bring forth a speech that just might unjar the mind-loss.

"Drew," Ethan drawled out the word, eyeing the gun and his friend carefully at the same time. "you don't want to do this-"

The said teenager let out a sharp cry of frustration and his timid, sad expression suddenly morphed into one of uncontainable rage, and Ethan jumped on his bar stool seat, his heart picking up speed in his chest.

"Fine, Morgan. If you don't want to cooperate properly, I'll just have to persuade you."

Drew paused for a moment, keeping the gun trained on Ethan, and he looked around the room as if it held the answers to all of his question. And judging by the way Drew's eyes suddenly lit up with realization and a smirk pulled tauntly at his mouth, Ethan guessed that the room did in fact hold the answer to the question he was asking himself right now.

Ethan began to slouch in relief as the gun's aim moved, his pulse slowing down, but he was soon sitting erect in his seat again as he realized what exactly Drew was planning to do in order to get Ethan to do what he said without a fight.

Ethan, and everyone else in the room, gasped again as the revolver's thin barrel was now aimed directly at the exposed area of Benny's chest, the cheerleader sitting to his right squealing loudly and jumping away. Benny's face had held a concerned and bewildered expression before the gun had been pointed at him, his worry for Ethan's health clearly written in his eyes, but now he looked suprised, as if someone had just jumped out of nowhere and showered him with confetti for his birthday.

"You've got until the count of three, Ethan, to get to your feet or I swear to God I'll pull this trigger." Drew looked at him pointedly, cocking the gun and readying it for firing. "One-"

Ethan didn't even think twice before he scrambled to his feet, nearly falling to his knees in his haste to stand up. He cursed under his breath at his eagerness to oblige, and his slight trip over his own feet, but looking up again at a malicious Drew and a slightly confused Benny, Ethan could care less how cooperating he seemed. No one hurt Benny when he was fully capable of keeping him safe. Standing stably on his feet, Ethan barely registered that something had smashed in the backround, and that there was now a pool of green liquid on the ground.

"Move the gun." Ethan snapped, forgetting that his own life was in danger for a moment. "Move the aim, Drew. I did what you asked."

"All too willingly, I might add." The chuckle that escaped from Drew's throat was dry, but none the less smug, as he did as Ethan said. Benny opened his mouth to say something, his eyebrows creased and disappearing behind his lengthy bangs, but Ethan shot him a look that held so much worry and anger that Benny just closed his mouth again with a quiet, pained cry.

"Explain to me again what your problem with me is." Ethan requested, looking incredibly annoyed.

"You know what my problem with you is."

"No, I don't, really." Ethan shot back. "All I know is that I started coughing and you suddenly had that thing trained on me and were going on about homework or something." Ethan regarded the gun as if it were a mutant virus that turned people into sludge monsters from fantasy worlds he had read about as a kid.

Drew sighed, using one of his now free hands to run his fingers through his waving brown hair.

"Jock Strap over there," he waved vaguely at the football player sitting at Ethan's table, ignoring the quarter back's whimper of fear. "kept making lame-ass jokes about me and my unpopularity, and at a particularly lame one you began laughing. And I've had to deal with you pricks since Elementary, and I've finally had enough. So I brought my little friend to school with me to resolve the situation. You just happened to be the one who started the extermination." Drew smiled fondly at the gun in his left hand, gazing at it as if it were Jesus himself.

"Drew, I wasn't laughing." said Ethan, who had to fight very hardly not to roll his eyes. "I was coughing. Coughing. Not laughing."

"It was a laugh." Drew insisted stubbornly, frowning again.

"It was a cough." Ethan repeated firmly. "That chemical Mr. Phil set on my table was giving me an allergic reaction, and I was trying incredibly hard to hold the coughs in so I wouldn't get sent out for "illness" and miss another chance to improve my grade, since this sack of marbles does nothing to help during the expiriments." He sent the jock a rather icy glare, showing that even though he was in danger, he was still holding a grudge over his partner's lack of participation.

"Yeah, right. That's the lamest excuse I've ever heard someone give. You're just trying to cover up that face that you were kissing up to him because you thought he was superior to everyone else in this school." Drew shook his head in disgust, sneering grotequely. "But look who's got the upper-hand now! The nerd, holding a gun to you that's level with the most vital organ of the human body."

"Actually, that'd be the brain, genius," Ethan corrected. "The heart does pump blood and whatever, but without the brain, it wouldn't be able to do anything at all."

"Shut. Up." Drew hissed, shaking the gun around for emphisis.

"I'm only trying to help you out." Ethan defended, holding his hands up in front of his chest.

"Yeah, right." Drew said sarcastically, shaking his head. "You're only trying to suck up to me now because I could kill you if I wanted to. Really great, Ethan. You're almost acting like a whore right now."

"A whore?" The look on Ethan's face match that of a person who'd just had to go dumper diving to retreive their engagement ring. "You were just acusing me of laughing at a jock's joke that was aimed at you, and you're now calling me a whore? This conversation is rediculous."

"Maybe to you, but you aren't the one who's been tormented your whole life." Drew's bravado ego calmed, and was replaced by a haunted teenager who only wanted a way out of his own personal Hell.

"Drew, I've never done anything to intentionally hurt you." Ethan said softly, looking into Drew's eyes with honesty. "We're from the same clique, Drew. We're the geeks of Whitechapel, right? I don't know about any of the other cliques, but I know that if you're classified as an Underdog, you don't go against your own kind for anyone or anything. It's a known rule. We're all just really good friends, and we stick together because so many of us are hurt anyways that we'd rather die than do that purposely to our own kind."

"That's not true-"

"It is." Ethan spoke, softly again, but it was enough to shut Drew up. "Do you remember that time when Rory had gotten attacked by the football players during practice and they strung him up by his jeans on the goal post? We all ditched fourth and fifth period to help him down, even though it earned us all detention. Or that one time when Jake had gotten a swirly and Benny gave him his own shirt to wear since his was wet? He didn't even mind having to wear nothing but a sweat shirt all day as long as Jake didn't have to walk around with soaking clothes on. And remember that one time when Rebecca had poured pop all over your homework and I let you copy every single assignment during home room? You got some of the easy ones wrong, but hey, at least you got it done, right?"

Ethan paused to let Drew mull all of the recollections around in his head, almost wanting to smile as the dead straight aim on his chest drifted as Drew hesitated. The other boy was looking between him and the tiled flooring beneath his feet with a battle raging on his head, biting his lip antically as he tried to decide what his next move should be.

"We don't turn against eachother in our group, Drew, and you know it. No jock, cheerleader, prep or whoever is worth our friendship, for as Dora The Explorer as that sounds. We've all always got eachother's backs."

Drew looked up at him finally, firmly, and he began to slightly lower the gun until it was closer to his naval and slightly cocked to the side. Ethan nodded, smiling in encouragment, and he willed with every screaming bit of his brain for Drew to just give in and throw the gun to the floor. But Drew was still slightly apprehensive, and Ethan didn't know what else he could say that would calm Drew enough down to snap out of his insane state of mind. So he just stood there for a moment, staring silently back at Drew, waiting for the other boy to make the first move.

"H-have you ever found any of the jock's jokes to be f-funny?" Drew asked timidly, his hands shaking slightly from the strain of trying to choose what to do.

"Never." Ethan said, shaking his head. "Most of them make no sense, or are just so incorrect that it's sickening."

"Hey-" the jock next to him seem to snap out of his shocked stupor and he opened his mouth to protest, his face contorting slightly.

"Don't say anything." Ethan hissed from between his teeth. Drew didn't seem to react to the minuscule skirmish, but chose to stare Ethan awhile more, trying to decide whether or not to except his answer.

"Please, Drew," Ethan tried. "You don't want to do this. Jail isn't worth a small misunderstanding."

"There was no misunderstanding about this-" Drew bristled, pulling the gun back up a few inches.

"No, that's not what I ment!" Ethan replied, holding his hands up again, trying to prevent another episode of fighting. "I ment that the sound I made was different to both of us. You though it was a laugh, but honestly, Drew, it was a cough." Ethan looked at him with all of the sincerity his body could muster, eyes almost glowing. "You have to trust me."

Drew looked as though he really wanted to trust Ethan like he usually did, but there was still that broken, niggling part of him that wouldn't let himself believe that his friend was harmless.

"Do you want me to prove to you that it was a cough, and not a laugh?" Ethan suggested.

Drew thought about it for a moment, and saw no harm in it, so he nodded and waited to see what Ethan would do with nervousness eating at his stomach.

Ethan turned to take ahold of the glass beaker full of green liquid that was still supposed to be sitting on his table, and started as he saw nothing on the table, and rather the remains on the ground in a heap of glass and electric-colored chemical. Realizing now that it must have been the beaker he'd shattered when standing up, Ethan blushed, and looked up at a now slightly impatient Drew.

"Um," he began, gesturing towards the broken beaker. "I broke mine, so... I guess I'll just use Benny's, okay?"

Still holding his hands up, Ethan kept eye contact with Drew as he manuvered his way across the isle, taking small, precautionate steps to assure that he was no threat to the other boy. Everyone seemed to be holding their breath, even Mr. Philmore could do no more than watch what was going on, and Ethan couldn't help but bitter-sweetly think that his situation reminded him of a soap opera he'd had to watch with Benny's grandmother one time. They had both said they'd hated it, but later on they were sneaking up to Benny's bedroom to watch some more of it online, shouting in unison as each scandle had been portrayed by the characters and cooing at the characters who kissed or professed their love for eachother. Ethan wanted to laugh at the recollection, but was afraid of breaking the tense atmosphere, or upsetting Drew with the action, so he bit his lip in a look of faux concentration and stood silently next to Benny, still looking at the other boy with a gun.

"How do you plan on proving to me that you were coughing, and not laughing?" Drew asked him timidly.

"With the chemical that Mr. Philmore gave us." Ethan said, as if it were the most logical thing in the world. Drew eyed him scornfully, but let him continue on anyways, gun beginning to quiver in his hands. Ethan sent him one more calming look, before turning around to pick up the beaker still situated on the corner of Benny's desk, his held-in breath exiting him in a small woosh. His gazed flickered up to Benny's, and he saw with his heart expanding that Benny was incredibly frightened by the situation; not for the gun or Drew's uncharacteristic behavior, but because his best friend was in danger and he could do nothing to help him.

Benny spoke quietly, so the word only sounded like a faint stirring of the wind. "Ethan-"

"I'm fine, Benny." Ethan replied, smiling faintly, before taking ahold of the beaker and turning back around to face Drew.

"What are you going to do with it?" Drew asked.

"Smell it. Well, actually," Ethan paused, glancing sideways at a still very timid Benny, sending him a warning with the way his eyes flashed. "I was going to use Benny as part of my proof, and make him smell it, too. You know, to show that I'm just one of those people who are allergic to the chemical by chance?"

"Benny?"

"Okay," It came out as more of a hoarse whisper, but Drew heard it due to the lack of noise, and motioned for Ethan to continue on with whatever it was that he was planning to do. He figured that if Benny was involved, Ethan wouldn't do anything stupid that could cause a problem, because Ethan and Benny were like a package of Twix; they were never seperated and were always equal with eachother. And in the dangerous situation all three of them were now in, Drew knew that Ethan would rather be cut limb from limb trying to protect the taller boy than to let anything hurt him, and he took a rather large amount of comfort in the thought.

Ethan flashed a smile at him, before turning to the side again and holding out the beaker full of chemical to Benny's face.

"Smell it, Benny." Ethan said, thanking him with his eyes once again. Benny returned the look and stuck his nose over the opening of the beaker, inhaling deeply. All he did was crinkle up his nose and lean away, finding distaste in the acidic vinegar smell it produced. "See, he's not effected by it like I am."

Drew nodded, and waited for Ethan to take his turn, glancing almost curiously between the two friends as they interacted only between looks flashing in their eyes. He'd known them for so long that he knew their looks were those of comfort, and suddenly he began to feel guilty for going through with his plan.

"And when I smell this stuff, I start to have a reaction to it," Ethan concluded, shaking up the chemical unnecissarily. He lifted the beaker his nose just as he had done for Benny and inhaled the fumes directly, bracing himself for the hacking storm that was surely to erupt from inside of him.

There was a moment of silence, before Ethan's throat began burning and he coughed it out, his body racking with them and his eyes watering and closing just as they had before. He fumbled to set the chemical down on the table, missing because he could no longer see, and he felt someone take the glass bottle from him, knowing it was Benny without even having to look because everytime the other boy touched him, it was as though the entire butterfly exhibit at the Science Center came to life and fluttered around inside of him. Ethan managed to somewhat open his eyes, the water pooling in them blurring everything again, but he saw nothing that could harm him and he staggered away hastily from his friend to free himself from the chemical fumes. He stood in the middle of the isle-way, one arm curled around his heaving stomach and the other covering his mouth.

Pausing, Ethan's coughs finally died away and he could breath and see again, the breaths coming from his mouth wheezy and dragging in his throat. He blinked up at a now convinced looking Drew, wiping away the rest of the tears, and he breathed deeply to get rid of the other coughs working their way up his body.

"See? I wasn't laughing at you, Drew. The chemical was put right in front of me, and I had an allergic reaction to it. I just decided to let the cough out at the wrong time, I guess." Ethan gave him a ghost of a smile, still showing that even though this catasrophy had happened, he was still on Drew's side and that he wasn't at all angry at the boy for going to such extremities.

Drew looked at him, his entire body shaking now, and finally after sharing a long look with Ethan, he saw that Ethan didn't in fact laugh at him the way everyone else had. And suddenly he felt like a child, holding up his dad's revolver and aiming it at the other boy as if he'd been the one to threaten to murder someone. He felt his wall of certainty crumble around him, and he slouched in defeat, his gaze dropping in shame.

"Like I said before, Drew, no one in our group would ever go against you."

Drew looked up from his converse to see Ethan slithering closer to him, hands held back up in front of him, but closer to his stomach rather than his chest. Drew's uneasiness crept back up, but he tried to push it back down in vain, yelling to himself in his head that Ethan ment no harm, and that it was just his protective nature over himself kicking in.

Ethan opened his mouth to say something else, his brain finally starting to kick up some of the Language Arts words he had learned over the years, but he was suddenly falling forwards, his feet flailing over eachother. In his Dr. Phil/ninja state, Ethan had failed to notice that one set of the laces on his shoes were undone and he had stepped on them, trapping the foot beneath the other and sending himself forwards. Drew must have taken this as a sign of attack and freaked out, because Ethan's ears were suddenly ringing the long explosion of a gun fire, and people screaming around him.

There was a collective silence around the Chemistry classroom, everyone either breathing heavily in fright or not at all, holding their breath to see if anyone had gotten shot. No one was sobbing in agony, though, so gradually in the shocked silence people looked around at eachother, questioning their friends to see if they'd been the ones who'd been hurt and just hadn't noticed it yet. But finding no one, everyone's gazes finally turned back to a wide-eyed Drew, and a suprised looking Ethan, who was now holding onto his stomach.

Ethan was silent the entire time, looking back at Drew with a bewildered expression. He was sure that he had had Drew's emotions under control, but the trip of his feet must have messed everything up, because now Drew had fired and Ethan was covering his abdominal rather confusedly. He didn't know why he was craddling his hand against the stretch of his stomach that almost reached his hip bone, but he was, and he was frowning to himself in wonder. He looked down from Drew's startled expression to the front of his body and pulled his hand away from the spot he was covering, his hand sticking to his shirt.

And all Ethan saw for a moment was a puddle of red. The hole now through his shirt was barely the size of a dime, and Ethan realized with a jerk of suprise that it was a bullet hole, the small, brass stretch of metal now lodged somewhere inside of his lower body. His hand had a smear of red across the palm, and he recognized it as blood, his spine freezing up again at the sight. He wasn't queasy around wounds and the works since he'd already seen so much of gorey stuff like it in his lifetime, but he felt the rest the blood draining from his face as he realized what this ment.

Drew had shot him.

Ethan looked back up at Drew, who was now gaping at the hole in Ethan's body, his arms dropping to his sides and the entire situation beforehand escaping their minds just as quickly as it had begun. Ethan opened his mouth, reaching for the speech-words he'd gathered up right before he had tripped and screwed everything up, but now they were only whisps of thoughts, and Ethan could reach none of them. The blood was starting to extract from the wound faster, acting as though someone had turned on a water tap, and he knew that he only had so much time before he was going to pass out from blood loss.

So Ethan just said the first thing that came to his mind that seemed to fit the situation adequitly.

"I'm sorry." he wheezed.

And suddenly it was as though his body were on fire. The pain was dull at first, nothing that resembled more than a bee sting, but it seemed like someone had lit a match on his body internally, and now every part of him was aflame, starting with his side. Ethan cried out, the sound almost like a lion's roar, and he squeezed his eyes shut in a pathetic attempt to ebb away the pain as it spread outwards from the bullet wound to his thighs and chest. His knees buckled beneath him from the strain of getting rid of the Inferno within his body, and he was vaguely aware of someone shouting his name as he fell to the ground, his knees hitting the tiled flooring with an almost bruising force. He clutched at his side to try and get rid of the pain, or stop the hot and coppery smelling blood from flowing from his body, and through his red-hazed mind, Ethan was suddenly reminded of the situation he had been in at the dance with Jesse and Sarah, and his body panicked even more, the wound pulsating beneath his fingers.

Someone was now clutching onto him, arms around his shoulders, and they were pushing him backwards onto the ground and frantically saying his name over and over again. Ethan knew that voice anywhere (he could pick it out in a rock concert if he wanted to) and forced himself to open his eyes, whining as his body protested and the overhead lights blinded him.

Benny was looming over him, the look on his face scaring Ethan even more through his pain, and he gave his friend a questioning look as to why he was shouting. Benny just batted it away and looked down at Ethan's hands, which were still covering up the bullet wound protectively, and he pried them away, placing something that resembled a jacked over it and pressing down hardly on it. Ethan moaned, pain erupting from the added pressure and he tried to squirm away, but Benny took a hand away and cupped Ethan's cheek with it, effectivly holding him still.

"I know it hurts, E, but this is the only way I can make it stop until the ambulance gets here." Benny's voice was low and calming, even though his eyes spoke an entirely different story, and it made Ethan's own panic wash away slightly.

"It hurts, Benny." Ethan murmured, his lip curling as a sharp stab of pain rocketed throughout his entire body.

"I know, Ethan. Just try to relax, okay? The paramedics are on their way."

Ethan was vaguely aware of people screaming and shouting hysterically in the backround and he tried to lift himself up to see what was going on, but a strong hand on his shoulder kept him down, and he looked back at Benny with a tiny amount of annoyance.

"Ethan, you have to lay still or else this won't work. I have t-to try stop the blood flow. If you move, it won't work right and you'll lose too much blood, and-" Benny cut himself off with a choking sound, and for the first time Ethan realized that Benny was crying, the tears rushing down his cheeks at such an alarming rate that they washed together and looked just like a shiny patch of skin. Ethan's panic returned at the sight of his best friend trying not to sob and he reached out, this time being the one to cup the other's cheek; it had been such a long time since Benny last cried, and Ethan was still trying to get used to the sight of it because of the rarity of when it happened.

"Benny, calm down." Ethan hushed him, fingers tingling as Benny subcontiously leaned into his touch. Their brown eyes met and Ethan's chest heaved as all of the breath he had left was stolen from him, his sickly pale cheeks flushing with an almost embarrassed heat as they stared back at one another. And suddenly they both understood eachother.

They were in love.

Ethan smiled fondly up at his taller friend, feeling his contiousness slipping from him, and he was suddenly okay with the thought of death if it came down to that. Benny knew how he felt, since they were always best at communicating through different looks, and Ethan knew that he'd felt the same all along. Sure, he was upset that he hadn't built up enough courage to say anything before, but now that he knew, he was strangely okay with the halfway admition to it.

"Benny-"

Benny silenced him almost immediatly with his free hand, leering down at Ethan with all the emotion he could manage put into his gaze.

"If you're going to give me the 'My Final Words' speech, I don't want to hear it. Don't you dare plan on dying on me, Ethan Morgan, or God so help me I will resurrect you from your grave and make your ghost haunt the Earth for all of eternity."

Ethan laughed, ignoring the sharp flash of agony that erupted from his stomach, and he shook his head against the tile flooring.

"Of course not." he giggled.

Benny grinned down at him, a few more tears escaping, and he removed his hand from Ethan's mouth in order to let the injured boy speak.

Ethan sobered, looking straight up into Benny's eyes unabashedly, and suddenly everything memory they had together and every emotion he had expierienced with the other flashed through him, and he almost exploded as though he were in a Super Nova, the passion racing through his body making him thrum with the life he had left in himself.

"I just wanted to say that you're the best friend anyone could ever have. We fight occasionally over stupid stuff, like food and videogames, and it makes me incredibly happy that we're so close. And this whole thing has only just now made me realize how stupid we act, so please promise me that when I get better," Ethan mentally thought 'If', but decided not to say that to the distraught boy hovering above him. "we'll work on not being so reckless and irrational. Because if you ever get hurt like this, someone's going to die, and I'm going to go to prision."

Benny laughed, another one of his trademark grins appearing on his face, and his grip on the jacket over Ethan's wound tightened, a part of him still completely focased on stopping the blood from pouring out.

"I promise, Ethan."

"Good, because-"

Ethan let out another sudden cry of pain as the fire inside of him flarred up again, consuming his entire body this time. He arched off of the ground, aching for some relievance, but the movement only caused his body to snap with protest and for Benny's pressure on the wound to increase. He whined feebily, squeezing his eyes shut, and he used all of his inner strength to try and shove away the flames encasing his internal organs.

"Ethan!" Benny cried out, attempting to settle him back onto the cold, tile flooring. Ethan just writhed away from his touch, shouting incoherrency at nothing in particular, and he bucked upwards again as the fire froze, and then made a strike at his bullet wound.

"Make it stop!" he pleaded with Benny, who was so frightened by the situation at hand that he was turning green, and gestured wildly at the entirity of his body. "Please, Benny, make it stop!"

"I can't, E, I don't know how to!" Benny yelled back, applying even more tightness to the hold on the jacket. It shot another scortch of lightning up Ethan's spine and he pressed his scalding cheek into the ground, sobbing as the burning sensation in his body increased another notch.

He lay still then, letting Benny press the jacket down onto the hole in his abdominal, and let the tears of both pain and frustration roll down his face as the sobs jerked his body upwards. Benny was muttering to himself about his friend, sounding as frantic and hysterical as the people swarming above them, staring fearfully down at a still very bloody Ethan and praying with everything he had that the boy was going to survive. He had to.

Ethan could feel the blackness he had so far successfully suppressed working its way through his system, and knew that he had only seconds of conciousness left. Using the rest of his remaining strength, he reached up to the hand that was still laying against his chest and he took it, regaining Benny's attention from his wound to his slowly slacking face.

"Benny, it's coming."

"What is, Ethan? What are you talking about?" he asked, looking even more frightened than before.

"Unconciousness."

Benny's heart sank deeply in his chest, almost dropping out of his stomach, but kept his head high, the tears reforming in his eyes, and he squeezed Ethan's hand back.

"I'm sorry that I'm not strong enough to hold on any longer." Ethan sniffled, gripping back tighter.

Benny shook his head almost immediatly, ignoring the words of regret.

"It's not your fault, Ethan. Stop apologizing for something you didn't do, dammit!"

Benny was deffinatly becoming hysterical now.

Ethan stared up at his face for a moment, just breathing softly, trying to mentally capture the darkly beautiful look that was sunken into Benny's facial expression. But he honestly didn't need to; he had spent so many minuets, hours, even small glimpses that lasted a second studying the other boy's face that all it took for him to bring it to the surface was the flutter of his eyelashes against his cheeks, and suddenly there he was, shooting his dazzling grin at Ethan and laughing about something that had been rather humorous at the moment. It was one memory he held close to him in particular that he always thought of, because even though the day hadn't held much significance to anyone other than him, it never ceased to make him smile to himself. It was of the two of them sitting in the old field on the outskirts of town, their bodies stretched out in the grass beneath the warm summer sun, and Ethan had made some sort of joke about a comic book he'd just read that had sent Benny into such a state of laughter that the laughs themselves were silent, and he was clutching onto his stomach to make sure it wouldn't explode. Ethan thought of it at that moment, there on the classroom floor, and suddenly the fire comsuming his body was balmy, like an embrace. It made Ethan smile softly, just as he always did.

"Benny, can you promise me something else? It's the last thing, I swear."

The lights surrounding them were dimming around the blackness invading Ethan's vision, but it didn't concern him. It just made him smile and relax fully against the floor, the fire streaming away until it was replaced by the most beautiful feeling numbness, like the kind people felt after they cried their eyes out and fell asleep, slipping away into the world where dreams occured more often than nightmares.

Benny took a shaky breath, his entire body quivering as he inhaled, and he tried to see Ethan through the sheet of tears pooled up in his eyes.

"Anything, Ethan." He gave the smaller boy's hand a tight squeeze, this time not letting up on the hold as he awaitnig Ethan's final request for him.

The numbness was creeping slowly up his chest now, gently carressing his slowly beating heart, soothing him, and he told Benny to lean closer as his throat began to close up. Benny leaned down, the shadow of his body falling over Ethan's, and he tilted his head to the side so that his ear was slightly closer to Ethan's mouth than his eyes.

Ethan's grip on his hand became even tighter, and with a happy sigh, his face brightened, and he whispered the four words that he'd always wanted to say to Benny when the other boy was upset, or quiet and thoughtful.

"Don't ever stop smiling."

Benny's heart momentarily stopped as Ethan breathed out the small sentence into his ear, the hairs on the back of his neck tingling with delight, before his brain computed what exactly had been said. He looked at Ethan fully this time, his face a mixture of anger, sorrow, and something most people would identify as love; raw, unadulterated, pure, love. Ethan smiled at him, a faint bubble of something close to a laugh escaping from in between his lips, and Benny thought his heart was going to explode from his chest onto the floor in front of him.

Ethan let his eyes wander around Benny's face one last time, admiring each and every quirk of the bone structure he'd memorized years ago, and with one final whisp of a smile, Ethan closed his eyes and let the darkness wash over him as he recounted that day out in the field. The sun illuminating Benny's figure and bouncing off of his teeth was the last thing he saw before falling backwards into a pit of inky blackness.

The grip on Benny's hand became slack, and almost slid out of the other's hand; but Benny was still gripping onto it as if he were stranding out at sea and the only bouy he had was Ethan's hand. The smaller boy's chest was still rising, shallowly, but Benny knew that he still had some time before Ethan's body gave out from lack of blood, and that thought gave him a small, warm sliver of comfort.

But the rest of him was suddenly consumed with a fire very simular to the one that had taken over Ethan's body, but this kind of fire wasn't produced by a sever wound.

This kind of fire was kindled by rage.

Benny's teary vision was clouded over by a red haze, and without even realizing it, he had risen to his feet, the jacket pressing down on the bullet wound forgotten as he stood to his full height and kept his eyes trained on Ethan. The sight of his best friend laying on the ground, unconcious with his blood everywhere but inside of him, was making his well-kept anger flare to life, and suddenly his chest was heaving with fury. He must have resembled a bull, breathing heavily out of his nose, and he felt like one too because the sight of the color red was driving him up a wall.

"Benny..." a very familiar and unwelcome name tentively said his name and he turned around, remembering that there were others in the room with him. There were only around six people standing behind him, gazing worriedly between him and Ethan in shock, but the rest of the class was towards the front, holding securily onto a sickly white Drew. Wyatt, the expert hunter of Whitechapel High, was clutching onto Drew's revolver in his hands, the bullets scattered around on someone's desk, and he was looking at it in both discust and a bizarre sense of curiosity.

The shade of red in the corners of Benny's eyes turned a deep crimson color as he stared back at a spluttering Drew, and the niggling voice that he had pushed away that had been going on about someone's faulties was brought forth once more, and he was only able to process one personality clearly.

He's the one who shot Ethan, Benny's accusation voice said. He's the one who shot him, Benny. Drew's the person that nearly killed Ethan. Drew's the insane one here, the one who caused all of the trouble, but Ethan's the one dying on the floor. What are you gonna do about it, huh? Are you just going to let him go when he's the one who hurt your best friend?

Clenching his hands into shaking fists, Benny suddenly let an animalistic scream rip from his throat and he threw himself at Drew, dancing rather stealthfully around Ethan's body.

"I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!" he yelled, the accusational voice in his head cheering him on. It was as though a monster had taken over his body, a beast that only come out under the full moon at midnight, but he had nothing left within himself to hold it back; it was as though the leash on his anger had finally broken and he was all out of will power and Super-Glue.

A pair of arms caught him before he could reach the white-palored geek, though, and dragged him backwards, saying his name over and over again in his ear to try and get him to calm down. But the anger just wouldn't go away, and now that he was being restrained, it only increased tenfold and he thrashed around in the person's arms, trying to pry himself loose. But the person just held him closer, muttering for him to get a grip onto himself, and they took most of Benny's raging blows without so much as a grunt.

Looking down at the arms holding onto his chest and waist to see if he could claw them off, Benny saw a jacket made of red leather with white cuffs with black devil horns on the inside and knew that it was the jock who sat next to Ethan that was holding onto him. He was also the only nerd of Whitechapel who happened to know his name.

"Put me down now, Austin!" he snarled, kicking out at nothing in particular.

"Benny, you need to relax. You're making a scene." Austin hissed in his ear, ducking his head to avoid an upper cut to the jaw by Benny's elbow.

"I don't give a rat's flying ass if I'm making a scene. He,"Benny spat the word out as if it were the most repulsive thing in the world, pointing wildly over at a trembling Drew, his finger shaking visibly in the suspended air. "nearly killed Ethan! He just shot my best friend, and you want me to calm down?"

"I know it's upsetting-"

"You don't know anything!" Benny roared, continuing on with his squirming. "You didn't just watch your best friend pass out from lack of blood on the fucking floor of Chemistry! You hardly know the difference between tin and iron, and you think you have enough validation to tell me that you understand what it's like to watch someone you've known your entire like slip away? You don't have a sliver of qualification to tell me a damn thing about death, Austin!"

"I'm sorry," he said to Benny as he held onto him tighter, his own eyes prickling. "I didn't mean it like that. I was trying to sympathize with you."

"I don't want your pity." Benny growled.

"Okay, I'm sorry. But hurting him's not going to make Ethan get better. The ambulance is almost here, Benny, so calm down!"

"You know what, Austin, it's your fault this entire thing happened!" Benny suddenly concluded. "If you had just left Drew alone and quit festering at him, he wouldn't have been pushed to the limit and shot anyone!"

"I'm sorry!" Austin cried, a tear slipping down his face. "I didn't mean for it to go this far!"

"Well it did!" Benny felt the anger drain out of him as quickly as it had come, and as the sudden shift in mood change left him bitter and cold instead of burning with hatred, Benny felt the sobs racking up in his chest starting to escape, and his knees buckled, the hold around his mid-section tightening as he fell towards the floor. "And now he's dying."

Austin, and everyone else in the class, for that matter, just stared silently at Benny as he began to come undone, his sobs echoing loudly around the classroom. His chest heaved so hardly that he was sure it would crack open, and his lungs burned, but nothing could stop the fat, remorseful tears from falling down his face. He hung limply in the backwards circle of Austin's muscular arms, his head hanging, and he just let it all out. And everyone let him, recollecting with pangs of sadness that death was nothing new to Benny Weir, and some of the people in the room cried right along with him, the blanket of coldness wrapping everyone in an itchy embrace. Not a single person's heart was light nor were anyone's eyes dry, but some were able to contain themselves in the dire situation.

After a few minuets of this, people staring bleakly around at nothing or everything, tears stinging their cheeks, the paramedics from the local hospital finally arrive, along with the police, and they walked into the room after confirming that they wouldn't cause anymore problems. The paramedics wooshed around Ethan like a flock of birds, throwing words back and forth at eachother that no one comprehended, and Austin gentley moved Benny away from the mess by his arms after finally letting Benny out of the lock of his arms. Benny just stared blankly at them as they wormed a stretcher underneath Ethan's limp body, a woman frantically yelling something at the leader of the group about pulse-related problems and 'lack of bodily fluids'. Benny smiled without emotion or color at those words, almost wanting to turn to the boy who wouldn't be standing next to him to roll his eyes at the obviousness of the situation; of course the body on the floor was lacking a strong pulse and blood. He had been shot for Christ's sake.

Benny didn't even watch the police escorting a tearful Drew out of the building, his glasses and eyes alike splotchy and blood-shot, his attention fixed both raptly and lazily at the sight of paramedics gostling Ethan's body around, finally making it to their feet with the stretcher held in between the four of them.

And as they carried him out of the classroom door, heading towards the exit, he remembered with a jolt that people were allowed to ride with others in the ambulance to the hospital.

Shaking off Austin's grip and defending his inquires, Benny slipped gracefully out of the haunting classroom and ran down to the medics carrying Ethan's body out to the ambulance, having to go as fast as he could to catch up to them; they were already at the exit when he'd realized he could accompany Ethan to the ER. Rushing out into the bleak sunlight of the beautiful autumn day, Benny hurried over to the ambulance, where other medics inside of the vehicle were loading Ethan onto the table in the middle of the small space.

He stopped beside a woman with a kind face, sucking in breath, and he gently tapped her shoulder. She looked over at him, raising an eyebrow.

"C-can I ride along? With him to the hospital?" he heaved out, panting lightly. The woman smiled softly at him, her expression knowledgeful, and she nodded, stepping aside to let the boy hoiste himself up into the ambulance before the other medics could.

Benny immediatly parked himself on Ethan's side, eyes glued onto his still remarkably breathing body, and out of nothing but habit he reach out and took ahold of Ethan's still warm hand in his, propping his elbows up on the plush leather table. He held the hand close to his face, lips almost ghosting over the lithe fingers, and he struggled to regain his composure so he wouldn't break down in front of around six adults.

"You're gonna be okay, Ethan. I know you will be. You have to be!" Benny babbled at the unconious boy next to him, his voice starting to regain the same hysterical tone. He knew that if he tried to say anything else he would end up doing something dumb, or get himself escourted off of the ambulance and instead to his house, so instead he place a brief, loving kiss on the ripple of Ethan's knuckles and held his hand tighter, eyes never leaving his face.

Benny always liked to believe that one day he would be given a miracle when he needed one most, like everyone else seemed to attain, and sometimes he didn't think it'd ever come. But that hope and desperation for the miracle blossomed like a poppy flower in his chest as the paramedics closed the doors behind themselves, signalling for the driver to go, and the hand of Ethan's he was holding twitched slightly and kind of gripped back.

A/N: You guys are allowed to yell at me now for not updating this story for nearly a year. Buuutt, an insanely cool and amazing person by the penname of Popsicle-Apocalypse finally made me realize that I needed to hurry the fuck up and write this so no one would end up shooting me in the face :) So, here it is! The last part should be done soon, because I'm getting a new laptop, but I have to go to camp and move into a new house, blah blah, so I hope this will be good enough for you guise. Sorry not only for the lateness of this chapter (duh) but for the length of it, because I wanted to make sure I got it ALL down before the inspirtaion to write it left me. I hope you liked it, and if not, then you guys are still allowed to yell at me for producing garbage work. And if it didn't satisfy your taste, I'll write a story of whatever you'd like about Bethan just to cheer you up. Sound fair?

That was my pathetic attempt at saying that I love requests, and that I'm pathetically asking for someone to respond to it :) Just ignore it if you dislike people who beg and shit for that kind of stuff. And you know what, I like the first chapter how it is because it shows how much my writing has grown over the last year, so it's staying it's crappy way :)