SWW PLOT BUNNY PROMPT COMPETITION.

Title: Lies and Revelations

Fandom: Caster Chronicles - Beautiful Creatures.

Pairing: Ethan Lawson Wate & Larkin Kent

Summary: Ethan wakes in a hospital room with no memory of how he came to be there, all he knows is that a body is laying in the bed. When Amma comes into the room crying his name, he realises that it is he who is laying there, standing between life and death. Nobody can see or hear him, only the man basking in a blinding white light.

Many thanks to my Beta and pre reader Nmydreamz. I own nothing, only plot


Opening my eyes again I know nothing has changed, regardless of all my wishing for it it to be so, I am still sitting on the floor in the corner of the hospital room like a frightened child. Pulling my knees into my chest while rocking my body back and forth, I do all I can to keep my eyes away from the cot in the centre of the room. There is something about the spot which is filling me with an unknown dread!

Even the passing of time seems to escape me because I don't know how long I have been here, never mind how I came to be here in the first place. I am just too afraid to move, to do anything other than stay in this position like a semi-frozen statue.

I don't get it, none of this makes any sense! The words roll around in my head as I start to cry, wondering what is going on and why tears won't leave my eyes despite the intent.

Sighing deeply, I watch in disbelief as my breath hovers before me like I am inside a freezer, yet I am unaware of any change in temperature; I don't feel cold at all, just an odd sense of empty.

What is going on, how did I even get here? These are the only two questions I allow myself to think, because as soon as I start to ponder the third, which is lingering in the darkest crevices of my mind, I know I will have to address the fact I am not as alone as I should be in this darkening place, where the only light shining is upon the body laying on the bed, the one that seems so uncomfortably familiar.

I won't think about him...no...I can't allow myself to do so, my head hurts at the prospect of offering it a moment to play around in my mind! Even allowing myself a seconds pause to go there just seems unthinkable. None of this makes sense!

My name is Ethan Lawson Wate, I believe in the logical, things that are real and can be held in my hand. Yet I am lost in a room where good sense seems to have danced off into the night and left me so alone, betraying me.

Resting my head on my knees I try to remember how I came to be here, yet all I see when I close my eyes are flashing memories of Link. It's almost as if I am seeing snippets of an unedited movie, and the gaps between are not yet ready for my viewing pleasure. One moment I am standing in a circle of trees with Link smiling my way, telling me he loves me before we jump scene, an odd look taking over his eyes. His mouth moves like he is shouting words at me, but the movie has no audio, no subtitles to help me understand. The scene jumps forward and he is pointing his fingers at me as rain falls upon him, some kind of rage in his eyes which is so alien.

If this is a memory, what did I do to make him so angry, to upset the man I have loved for so long and who loves me in return? Have I missed the start of the programme? We never fell out, apart from the odd debate, but never enough to have him silently screaming like my mind is replaying.

As if someone just hit fast forward, the memory speeds up only to slow down again and he is walking towards me, still silently shouting as he raises something in his hand. There is an object I have little time to see before everything goes black, with only traces of flashing blue lights sparkling from all angles. I didn't even get to see the credits roll, or receive any kind of commentary from the director to explain it all before I awoke here, finding myself on this floor with the sinister bed holding the sleeping body.

An urge to look at him wants to consume me, but I force my head to remain on my knees, even pull my arms around my head to prevent temptation. I want to remain like this for as long as I can, but a familiar voice enters the room and takes my choices from me. I know I will be forced to see what my mind isn't ready to comprehend.

"Ethan, my poor, little Ethan," Amma says, pulling my attention her way as if she commanded it to be so. I have to fight back the need to run and become lost in her embrace. It's not me she is addressing, the child she has pretty much raised who is now lost on the floor, frozen like a frightened child. Instead, my guardian makes her way to the bed and takes the hand of the boy in hers, her actions confirming my inner fears. The darkness in my mind clears a little as I reluctantly allow confirmation to set in and say farewell to the logic I forever lived by.

Am I...dead? I ask myself, looking at the woman who has played the part of both parents since mine died when I was six; the same person who could always make me feel better with just a simple hug.

"Amma!" I find myself calling to her, hoping she can hear me, yet she keeps her eyes on my body. "I...I don't understand, Amma."

Forcing myself to my feet I tentatively make my way towards her, still refusing to look at my empty shell, fearing that once I lay eyes upon myself I will reach finality and cease to exist completely. "Have you seen Link, is he here?" I carry on asking my questions like she can hear me, like my wishes are being answered and none of this is happening.

She pulls my hand into her chest and I look at my own before me, which is empty of her touch, yet I can almost feel a small pressure against my palm. With her other she reaches down and I follow with my eyes, watching as she moves my hair from my face, and I finally see myself and feel a lingering caress across my forehead. The right side of my face is covered in bandages, yet my left just looks like I am resting; minus the jaw hanging open that Amma says always happens when I sleep. Instead, my mouth has a large tube coming from it that leads to the machine beside my body.

Snapping my eyes away, I pull my arms to my stomach which is now overcome with pain, churning like I have swallowed a dozen razor blades. If I am in fact dead, or close to it, how am I able to feel anything?

Amma sits in the vacant seat and I move around the bed to kneel at her side, wishing she would look my way and let me know that everything will be okay, offer me some kind of explanation. She doesn't, though, instead she says words that shock me. "You go in peace, Ethan Lawson Wate! Don't you be staying for little old me, you need to be going. Meet with your mum and dad."

"You...want me to go, Amma?" I say, in disbelief. "But...I am not ready. I don't want to leave you, to leave Link."

That's something I don't want to happen at all, to leave the man I have loved for so long, when he is finally showing me he feels the same! Everything was going so perfectly, he was finally opening up to the love I could give him, regardless of what the people in our small town thought.

Why is this all happening now? Help me, someone, anyone! Please.

The door to the room crashes open and I spin around, almost falling on my arse, my eyes settling onto his face like he was answering my silent call. Link! I want to run to him but remain where I am as emotions run through me, memories of our days together; the times I ran crying to his house after my parents died and he held me close like only a good friend could, one destined to be a lover. The closer he gets to me, the more something else sets up home inside. Dark recollections are clearing the fog inside my head, adding the final edits to my movie.

It was raining, winter was definitely coming to Robin Hood's Bay, another sign it is always wet in England. We should have left and made for home when the first droplets fell, but he was already screaming at me, his words ruining our special place in the nearby woods of town.

"Link, please...I promise you it will be okay, they won't care!" I was begging, pleading with him to see reason, but I was only angering him further; adding fuel to his fire.

He pushed off my attempt to pull him in for a hug, and I had to stop myself from falling over. "Fuck off, Ethan. You may be happy for everyone to know you're a fag, but I am not!"

I tried to hide the small anger I felt when he called me that, I needed to let him know that everything was going to work out. "You can't keep living a lie, Link. I love you."

With my final words he forced me away from him, and then I did, in fact, fall on my arse, tears streaming down my face from his attack which brought me pain; emotional and physical. He was giving up on us so easily, refusing to allow our love to live in the light, rather to hide in the shadows like some shameful secret.

I was not ashamed, I was proud to say I was in love with Wesley Lincoln, and I was going to hear him say he loved me without his cock being down my throat first! He had said it so many times before, but that was when I was okay living the lie, our happy little secret, but we were growing up. We needed to take responsibility and fight for this love.

Link was pacing back and forth, getting angrier by the second, but I knew he was just afraid and needed me to show him the way to our happiness. I got to my feet and walked towards my lover.

As I reached out I took his head in my hands, pulled his lips to mine and felt his kiss on my mouth as the rain poured down our faces. He loved me, I knew he did! He was just scared, and I wanted to chase his fears away. I deepened the embrace, locked my arms around his back and allowed my tongue to enter his mouth. It was perfect, what I wanted, what we needed...but something caught hold of Link and had him break what my body was yearning for.

He leaned against the small mound of rocks near an ancient-looking wall that had crumbled into almost nothing over the years, the spot I had so many times leaned over as he placed into me what I thought was love. Was I so wrong?

"You know I love you, Ethan. I have since before I can remember, but my life is complicated enough without people spoiling all this...my mother isn't like..." I knew what he was going to say, 'like Amma'. She accepted me the second I told her, told me living a lie isn't really living at all.

Link was right, Amma would happily march the proud march with me if I wanted her to, unlike Mrs Lincoln, who would cast the first stone and point out our sin.

I was sodden from the rain and wanted to get home, to get back to my bedroom and hold him in the warmth of my bed and let him know everything would be okay. I turned him towards me, tried to offer him my most reassuring smile. "It will all be ok, people will understand once we tell them."

Something snapped, I could somehow sense it in the air, but before I had a chance to tell him how much I loved him, he reached his hand above him. That was only seconds before I felt the first blow.

"You...killed me!" the words leave my lips before I have a chance to process them in my head, only to fall on deaf ears.

My body starts shaking as I watch him embracing Amma, kissing her on the cheek. This is a dream, it has to be. Everything just seems so impossible! The memory cannot be real; not Link, he loves me! I pinch myself so I can awaken from this apparent nightmare, but when I squeeze my skin I feel nothing, just a weird, popping sensation running through me. Closing my eyes tightly I throw a wish around in my mind, hoping when I reopen them I will wake in my bed, call Link and laugh about the whole thing like we normally do.

Unfortunately what I find is something less than perfect, even less than acceptable. Link has taken the other seat at my side, my hand in his which he gently strokes like I am not lying there, the result of his doing. He tried to kill me! Me, his best friend-turned-lover, left for dead like I was nothing!

Did Link even call the ambulance, or was I found by accident? How else would he be here now, free to walk around like he is guilty of nothing?

Amma sighs deeply, her eyes never leaving my face in the bed. "Doctor says there isn't much hope left of him waking up, not after this long. He said it would be best if we just turn these machines off and let him sleep, be with his family."

Her words send a shiver through me when I think she is already giving up hope, especially when time has hardly passed at all. Yet there they are, thinking about pulling the plug like I am just a house appliance that isn't performing to standard. How can she not feel my presence? The woman who looks at life with a third eye, ever listening to the earth, yet ignores my whispers in the wind.

"Amma, I am still here!" Again my voice leaves my lips, but it fails to rouse the attention of my visitors. "Hear me, Amma! Please!" I move to the foot of the bed, just staring in anger at them.

Link sighs, fidgets in his chair like he has better things to do than be here. "I can't believe it's been three months already. He just looks like he is sleeping, without the snores."

Ice cold dread runs through me again, pulls me away from the bed as I back into the wall while trying to tell myself what I heard was incorrect. Three months? No! How?

Shaking my head, I place my palms against the smooth surface behind me and allow it to ground me, give me some sense of normalcy to keep from sinking into the floor below. How can so much time have passed without me knowing it?

Because until now, you were lost in darkness. A voice enters my head, but it isn't the sound of my own. I look around for the owner, yet there is still only myself, Amma and Link in the room. So who is speaking, or is this just clear evidence I am going crazy?

You're not going crazy, Ethan Wate. Not yet, anyway. Somehow I know that whoever is speaking is a boy, the tone slightly deeper than I would expect from a woman. You have to come with me, Ethan Wate.

I will never be able to explain how I know, but something inside tells me that whoever is talking is standing behind me, like they have somehow materialised in the room, created their own entrance. Or were they always here and I just never saw them until now? Pulling my eyes away from the place my body lies, I turn my attention to the large wall with the windows covered in blinds, my jaw hanging open at the sight before me.

My mother used to tell me stories about angels, how they radiate in a loving glow and fill you with a sense of calm, and as I look at the boy shrouded in what my mind had always decrypted from my mothers explanations, I could only assume he was one of them.

So I guess I am dead, then. You're here to claim me?

Not yet, Ethan Wate, he says, offering me his hand and a familiar, weary smile; one which triggers a sense of knowing, like I have seen it before.

My hand reaches out to his against my will, and I pull it back just before our fingers entwine. I know the smile, the same one which has always stayed away from the crowds at school, the one who always sat at the back of class and avoided all social interaction. I know that smile, yet somehow my mind won't recall the name or face that goes with it.

You have to come with me, Ethan Wate. You need to get away from here before The Others arrive. Come, take my hand.

I don't move, instead I look behind me at Amma and Link, the stand-in Mother that has always loved me, and the boyfriend whose actions brought me here.

Even though part of me wants to stay, another part is urging me to go, to finally leave a place that makes no sense if there really is no chance of me breathing sweet air again.

Is there? I ask, somehow knowing the glowing boy can read my thoughts.

He sighs, but it isn't one of frustration, more like he has answered the same question a thousand times over. No, Ethan Wate. Your time is almost over.

If it's only almost, then why do I have to leave now? Can't I wait a while longer? I don't know why I am still so fixed on remaining here, perhaps it's the fact that I am leaving Amma alone, something I know she fears above all else.

Ethan Wate, I cannot protect you here. Come with me so I can explain, please. Keeping my eyes on Amma I wish I could say my goodbyes, even tell her this is all Link's fault, but a strange shadow enters the room through the door, wraps itself around my shell and the only people I have ever loved. The darkness looms around the room, looking for something unseen, then I see two small holes appear in the centre, almost like eyes; one is locked on me!

"Amma!" I scream as the cloud comes my way, a large gap opening like a mouth as black hands reach forth only seconds before I feel pressure on my shoulders, pulling me away into the light.

…...

Can ghosts sweat? If I am indeed a ghost, because whatever came for me before I was pulled into light has my brow and body covered in it! I keep my eyes closed, holding onto the memory of Amma and a life now lost, as well as a lover-turned-killer and the chasing of angry shadows.

You're not a ghost, Ethan Wate. You would have to be dead for that, and you're not dead...

yet.

Yet? The word taunts me, echoes in my head and laughs at my undoing. Poor Ethan Lawson Wate, lost his head to love, literally, when he wasn't even loved at all.

Don't think that, Ethan Wate. Amarie Treadeau loves you, and she will spend the rest of her days loving you so much more.

I keep my eyes closed, not wanting to see where I am while wishing I could block out the voice, ignore what he is telling me about Amma.

For a few seconds I forgot this person is a mind reader, raping my thoughts like they are his to have. Apologies, Ethan Wate. I am just trying to help you.

Maybe I don't want your help! Maybe I just want all this to go away!

We all want something we can't have, and I regret yours is life. Believe me when I say, I wish this wasn't happening as much as you do.

Something inside me believes what I am hearing, enough to have me finally opening my eyes to seek out the voices owner. My surroundings are lost on me, I don't even try to take them in until I find what I am looking for. It's then I see someone I never expected.

LooserLar... I stop myself immediately, but I know I am already too late, for he has already heard the words in my head.

LooserLarkin, it's okay, Ethan Wate. I know what the kids at school call me.

I think my cheeks have turned red, if they actually can, given my predicament. I am actually standing before the boy I have always been told is a freak since we all started school; the one who we always taunted for sport. Larkin Kent, the painfully shy and quiet boy in class seems so different somehow, more confident, if you will, and dressed in a white that matches the light he is no longer basked within.

Trying to keep the memories of all the times myself and Link had laughed about Larkin Kent behind his back, I avert my eyes and look around the room, finally taking in my surroundings while his voice fills in any gaps. We are in a place with no doors or windows, with walls of white, all covered in scribblings of black, words I do not understand, ones I know are not English; but what?

You won't find these words in any of your worldly books, Ethan Wate, his mind says to mine while he leans against the wall with his arms folded across his chest.

Each word, upon closer inspection, is like small drawings, almost like the characters are a code which only Larkin himself would understand. Then I notice something I have seen before, a five-point star within a circle, one always evident in occult movies; and I should know, Link and I have watched enough of them. A laughter consumes the space around me, swirling up my body as his words enter the air.

"This isn't the occult, Ethan Wate." He walks over to the circled star, tentatively touching it with his fingers, almost as if he is fearing anything firmer would shatter the dark ink. "The pentagram is for protection, your protection."

I let my own words fall from my lips, feeling a small delight because my voice is finally heard and not echoing inside my head. "What would I need protection from?" Before I know it, other questions break from me, one after the other like a tap has come loose on my verbal filter. "And why am I dead, yet feel solid? Why didn't I fall through the wall at the hospital when I leaned against it? Where are we? And more importantly...what are you?"

Larkin just chuckles from his place near the pentagram, his arms back across his chest. "Calm down, Ethan Wate. I will tell you everything you need to know."

Frustration boils within me. "Stop calling me Ethan Wate!" I snap. Only Amma calls me by my full name.

Apologies, Ethan. "But calling you by your full name strengthens the protective spells within this area. It lets the room know you should be here, but I already feel it warming to you." His words don't make sense to me and, even though he is smiling, I can tell there is no malicious intent.

He believes what he is telling me!

"Of course I do, Ethan. This is what I know, my lot in life, you could say. Now how about I get to answering your questions?" Or do you have more you wish to ask?

Sitting on the ground I shake my head at him, only then noticing the same scroll which covers the walls is on the floor and ceiling above, but Larkin just answers what I initially asked. "In answer to your first question, Ethan." Larkin joins me on the floor, a smile still on his face. "Your soul is between two worlds, one of life, the other of death. Unfortunately I cannot take you back, only toward the gates of your sad end, but those are not the only ones a soul can pass through."

I don't understand what he is saying, what he means when he says gates, but I know they are both a one-way journey; somehow I know that much. "I, or should I say, my bloodline, are the Guardians Of The Passing. We lead souls toward the Gates Of Utopia, towards eternal rest." He smiles as my head is filled with images of silver gates surrounded in light, a place I somehow know my parents rest. "As a Guardian, I am able to live as a mortal, while also possessing the abilities to lift a veil and step into the realm of souls."

Even though I want to hear more, I cannot help my head betraying me. But what about the other gates?

I am not really sure why I am still thinking my words but, as usual, they still reach him. "We do not speak of those gates, and I won't tell you their name. It's best you don't worry about them," his lip trembles for a moment, but he still carries on. "Only the damned go to those gates, along with the souls we don't reach in time, the ones..."

The Others collect.

I find myself finishing his words, and he nods at me, confirming that the shadow in the hospital room was so close to reaching me.

"Amma! Link!" I cry, my words only calmed when he takes my hand in his.

I have missed the absence of touch, but I chase the thought away so he won't hear it.

"Are fine. The Others cannot touch a soul which still resides in a body, nor can I when I am journeying between the worlds. Amma and your friend are safe!" I can sense the bitterness he holds when describing Link, but he carries on, ignoring all the thoughts exploding in my head. "That is what I protect the souls from, them! Now, in answer to your next question, I told you before, you are not dead! You, Ethan, are a wandering soul that can only wait for his death, unlike most people who pretty much die instantly. Once your body shuts down, the gates will open for you. You could feel the wall because a soul cannot wander far from its body, unless a Guardian or one of The Others takes it. The wall is a kind of celestial barrier, hence you didn't fall through."

His voice is like a thousand different dances stomping through my head all at once and I am struggling to keep up, even though the words seem to be getting written within my head in the same ink that covers the room. Larkin looks around him, leading us into question three. "This is my room, or should I say a version of, minus the bed and my possessions. This is a space I have created to hold you within until...until..."

The gates open, and I am dead.

The words were hard for me to say, but I can't quite understand why he also finds them so difficult; like he is living through my pain. He doesn't acknowledge my thoughts and simply carries on like nothing happened. "Your last question I have partially answered already, but what myself and my family really are, are Casters, what history calls Witches. Members of my family have committed to a service to help mortals pass into the light when their time comes."

So the once shy and quiet, even bullied, Larkin Kent is what? A Guardian Angel?

Caster, Ethan. After all you are seeing unravel before your very eyes like a narrated story, do you still find it so hard to believe my words? What more can I show you?

While looking into his eyes, I witness them changing in colour, moving from their once pale green to a mix of blue and silver while his hair moves in dance with a violent wind that doesn't even enter the room. "Magic can just be illusions to fool the mind, but with magic comes an agreement we made centuries ago to help others. That does not mean we are Guardian Angels, they belong in your story books." He chuckles before looking to the ceiling as if he is smelling the air, or listening to a sound I cannot hear.

As he lowers his gaze so it is once again level with my own, his hair softens back to its normal short curls, but his eyes turn pure white for only a second. He looks at me as if he is carrying a burden he wishes wasn't his to have.

"What is it?" I ask, trying to make sense of the ice now running through my veins. His whole body language is easier to read than Spot The Dog, the book I used to recite to my mother when I was learning to read.

He doesn't speak, but somehow the walls, floor and ceiling betray him by painting them in the number '2' for only a blink of my eye before they are gone and a timer settles on the far wall.

48 H: 2,880 M: 172800 S

An idiot could see that it's counting down the time I have left.

…...

My mother used to tell me that time is a great healer, but as I watch the countdown to the end of my life I can't help but wonder what she would say to me now. What can you really tell someone who is watching their life clock tick down?

That life can be a cruel thing, but a gift we all get to share.

I try to ignore Larkin's intrusion inside my head, like I have ignored his words for the past two hours. All I can do is focus on the numbers and wonder why this is happening, why my love has sent me on the road towards my death. Even going back to living in the darkness of my body and not knowing time is tick, tick, ticking along has to be better than knowing I am close to ceasing to exist!

I am sorry, Ethan. Believe me, I wish there was something I could do.

Isn't there? Can't you cast some spell and have me back inside my body?

The small amount of hope trying to rise is stilled when Larkin sighs, but I keep my attention on the countdown while flashes of Links face enters my head.

There is nothing I can do for you, Ethan. A soul is scheduled to cross the gates, it's just a sorry day that it is yours.

The numbers change again, pulling me closer to my finality. If only I knew why Link chose to do this to me rather than accept our love. Is the prospect of proudly holding my hand in public really that bad?

No...I would.

Larkin's voice enters my head for a short second before he pretends to find the writing on the wall interesting, like he is seeing it for the first time. Momentarily I assume he is joking or thinking of someone else, but his cheeks are reddening from where he stands; something he is trying to hide, but failing miserably.

You would...what?

I find myself asking, my eyes remaining on him as he shifts his body uncomfortably while never looking back my way.

Silence is in both the room and floating around in my head, accompanied by an uncomfortable feeling and I find myself not knowing what to do. I shouldn't even care. Why think about thoughts which will mean nothing when my time has all ticked down, when I will be just a memory to a small handful of people? It wouldn't surprise me if only Amma spares me a second of her time when my body is laid to eternal rest, I can't see Link even caring after what he has done to me. After what he is going to get away with!

Link! My head fills with happy memories of our time together, something that seems so fake now when I am so far away from my body, awaiting death with the weird kid from class.

"Is that really what I am to you, Ethan?" Larkin asks, looking over his shoulder at me for a second before looking away again. Just the boy who is nothing more than a joke?

Swallowing my stupidity, I mentally slap myself for temporarily forgetting my thoughts are no longer mine alone, not when I am around the real Larkin Kent. To distract myself, I keep my eyes on my life's timer in hopes I can maintain some control, yet I find two, simple words I have never really meant before falling from my lips.

I'm sorry.

His body seems to soften as the light breaks from him for a second, almost like soft flashes of lightning, much like it did when he first came for me. There are still traces of a glow lingering on him, framing the only side of his face I can see. This isn't the boy I passed in the halls every day, the one I ignored during lunch. No, before me is a man; one who is radiating a crystal brightness.

You don't need to apologise, Ethan. I guess I brought most of it on myself, it's not like I tried to be friends with anyone. He turns to face me, his green eyes filling my body with warmth as a small smile creeps over his face.

"Why didn't you? You never know, we could have been friends," I offer from my place on the floor, staring up at him while I await his reply.

Larkin chuckles, running his hands through his hair while leaning against the wall. "It was just too hard! I wanted to talk to you, but it always seemed like a bad time. You're not exactly an easy boy to get alone," Mr Popular.

Ignoring his little tease I look at him, confused. I never knew he even thought about me, I was just another kid in the face of the crowd.

You could never be just that, Ethan Wate.

He smiles my way again before closing his eyes, while, at the same time, the writing on the walls, ceiling and floor change. Where there were once words in a language unknown to myself are now pictures forming like I am inside a photo album, all with the same face covering them; mine. Every inch of the room is like a diary of images through the years of my life, my first day at highschool, my short stint in the choir, looking in my locker, eating lunch, even standing in the rain with Link when he held a rock in his hand. Image after image from age eleven to my now sixteen years, and I somehow know these are his memories, how he has seen me grow into the man I can no longer become.

As fast as they appeared they have gone, back are the white walls and neat scroll and I know his eyes are open again because I can feel them on me, I just can't look his way. I don't need to be able to speak, he can hear my confusion.

I don't understand...what is all this? Is he showing me my life to torment me with what I am losing, torturing me with what I will never again have?

No, Ethan! I would never be so cruel. These are...how I saw you, the boy I could never get the courage to say hi to because I always thought tomorrow would still come and I would be able to do it then. Yours is the face which fills my head and had me choosing to help you even though you were not my charge, the reason I curse myself every day for not getting to you in time when Link...when he...

He doesn't finish, he doesn't have to because somehow I know he was the one who found me when Link left me out in the cold; I just don't know why he was there.

Because I was...following you, he tells me. Only then do I turn my attention back to him.

I swallow as I ponder the thought I had a stalker in life as well as my death, but he was there for me, tried to help me.

But you still died, Ethan. I was too late.

Biting my lower lip nervously, I try to understand what he is saying. On top of the fact I will soon be walking through the gates of eternal rest with thoughts of the man I have loved for so many years, who didn't really feel anything for me, my eyes are being pulled open to the possibility that Larkin Kent may feel more for me than he should. More than I deserve, really, after all the taunting myself and my friends put him through.

Of course he loved you, he was just too afraid to tell the small-minded world we live in, Larkin tells me, and I can feel his body approaching my place on the floor. He just reacted...badly.

I can't keep the laughter from escaping my lips, which seems to come from nowhere as I turn to finally face him. "That's an understatement if ever I heard one!"

Looking over his shoulder at the timer I can see that three hours have ticked away, time lost faster than I have anticipated. Larkin must be able to sense the uncertainty in my eyes, because before I can say anything he offers me an explanation.

Time moves differently here, Ethan. You're between worlds, so this time you have left counts down faster than it would for anyone else. He sits in front of me, nervously taking my hand in his, which sends a popping sensation all the way up my arm, delighting my senses. The result has him pulling away and sending me an apology with his eyes.

Looking back at him I reach out to take hold of his hand, feeling more alive than I ever have as our fingers entwine. I'm not sure why I am doing this, but something is pulling me towards him like a magnet, revealing how deep his feelings for me lie.

How long do I have, Larkin? I question, nervously smiling while I watch him gaze in awe at our locked hands.

He doesn't answer me, and I can somehow sense his hesitation. I break the silence within the room. "How long, Larkin?"

He mumbles his words before speaking again, repeating himself much slower in case I miss a single syllable. "For the two days you have remaining for the gates to open, it will seem like only hours here, so the inevitable isn't prolonged." I watch him swallow before hearing the thoughts he sends my way. I am sorry, Ethan. I do wish this wasn't happening to you, but you only have four hours.

This is all I have? Four hours left until all I know will cease to exist for me, four hours to just sit here and watch my life count down?

My body tenses and I can feel a vibration deep within me as I close my eyes, removing his hand from mine while rocking myself back and forth. Hate and anger is ricocheting through me, causing me to dig my nails into my arms so I can feel something, anything before I am nothing more than another victim of unrequited love. Pain registers with my brain, fooling me into believing I am still inside my body, but I know I am not...regardless of how much I will it to be! I am Ethan Lawson Wate, a boy standing on the edge of life, waiting for the call of the reaper; and this all happened to me just because I wanted to proudly show the world who I gave my heart to, a boy who would rather I be his dirty little secret!

The sound of Link laughing is polluting my soul, firing up a storm of emotions deep inside and making me wish I had just been left inside my body, never having to know just how easily I was betrayed. Blissful ignorance! His face is there, taunting me, telling me he didn't love me at all. Love would not have dealt me this card!

Almost like a distant hum, like there is a calling of my name from far away, I hear the faint sound of Larkin. Ethan, how are you doing this? Ethan!

With my eyes still closed I can feel his hands settle on my shoulders, stilling the waves slightly inside and the burning sensation under my skin. When finally I look back into the room, my attention is taken over by the shock registered on his face as he stares down at me. This has never happened before, Ethan! How are you doing this? Urgency is evident in his tone, causing my lip to tremble.

He looks scared somehow, and before I get a chance to ask him what is wrong, the walls behind have me looking their way, almost like I can hear them calling to me. In amongst the scroll that is unknown to me and the betraying timer, which is painfully reminding me I will soon be gone, are words I can read, ones which seem to have been written by my own hand!

I HATE HIM. LOVE HIM NO LONGER. HE HAS KILLED ME. I WANT TO KILL HIM.

"Ethan, how are you doing this?" Larkin repeats himself before pulling me to face him, and as he does I can feel the words dissolving back to nothing before only two remain, becoming repeated on every surface which appear to have been written in blood.

AVENGE ME!

My attention is focused on them for a few seconds before I black out, my body pulled into nothingness.

…...

Even with my eyes closed, I somehow know I am no longer in the room of words. My body is laying on grass I can feel between my fingers, even smell the freshness of it mixed with lilies as a cool breeze floats around me.

Was I really dreaming then, was all of it just a dream and I am going to awaken with Link in my arms in our favorite spot, the sun baking over our bodies? I stir slightly, pulling a small smile to my face as I feel a hand taking hold of my own.

"Ethan?" The voice is soft, calling to me as beautifully as the morning choir of birds.

Opening my eyes I gaze up at the crystal clear blue of the sky, laughing a little as his silhouette comes into my view, but when bright green eyes shine down upon me, I know that I am not dreaming. Regardless of the fact I am no longer in the room, I know it's not Link looking at me and cold, harsh reality has come to say its ugly hello.

Larkin?

He brushes the hair from my face with his fingers and I tremble under his touch, the worry on his lips easing slightly while I try to chase away my hate for Link.

"Are you alright, Ethan?" he asks, but I pull myself up to sitting and look out across the field we are in. For as far as I can see, we are in a bed of sweet, tender grass and fragrant lilies, with a loving wind dancing around us. Golden lights flicker past on the breeze, performing wonders before me and calming me a little as I become happily lost within them.

Everything seems real, yet somehow too perfect, like every blade of grass has been perfectly polished, the sky coloured by an artists hand, mixing the purest blues with subtle purples. Even birds flying through the crystal clouds seem like ballet dancers in Swan Lake, each moving in unison as they circle above.

"Where are we, Larkin? What's going on?"

"I had to bring you here, Ethan. I changed the appearance of the room with an illusion to calm you, to chase away the thoughts of what you were asking," he pauses for a moment before continuing, as the birds start to sing us a small lullaby I cannot seem to place. "Your hate changed the room somehow, so when you passed out I changed it to make your passing easier."

Larkin created all this, for me? Turning to face him, I offer the best smile I can muster, thanking him for what he is trying to do even though I know I will still ask him what is about to leave my lips. My words will taint his small Utopia he made for me. "Avenge me, Larkin. Please!" I reach up and gently caress his cheek with my hand, gliding my thumb tentatively. "I know you can do it. He deserves it, please."

This is what I want, to have Link pay for his actions so my passing won't go unpunished. I watch as Larkin's lips tremble, giving away the fact he is pondering my request, but something is holding him back. His tongue breaks through to glide across his mouth and, before I know what I am doing, I lean forward and kiss him gently. Instinctively, he hesitates for a moment before giving in, our mouths parting as I deepen the embrace by pulling his face closer.

As he reaches behind my own head it feels like I am eating popping candy, small explosions are firing off inside my mouth, ignited as his wet tongue meets my own. I force him onto his back, climb over him and relish as his touch moves down my body. Life is running through me with blasts of energy wherever his hands settle, detonating a passion that is somehow buried when he firmly grips my arse.

I want to be a puppet master, to bend Larkin to my will and have him perform an act he alone can do, to curse Link forever; taint his bloodline. This is all I want, but as Larkin's fingers enter below the waist of my pants for a mere second, all hate seems to be pushed from me and I force myself to stop kissing him, pulling our faces apart as I look down into his emerald eyes. Are these feelings part of the illusion, Larkin? Feelings that want to remove my hate for Link while I become lost in you?

This is something I have never experienced before, beyond what I ever had with Link. It's almost like he has cast a spell upon me and is forcing every cell in my body to need him against me. Even my cock seems to be hardening, like I am still in my body. Larkin lays breathless below me, his own erection pressed between my thighs and I can see the want for more in his eyes.

Creating illusions may be a speciality of mine Ethan, but even I am not this good! He leans up to kiss me again, but rather than meet him in the middle, I pull my head back before falling off his body. "I can't hide how I feel for you, Ethan. Maybe my feelings are mixing with yours, I don't know, but all I do know is that this just seems so right." Finally.

I know what he means by his last word, he is actually getting to show me what he has wanted to do for so long, but was always held back by his own fears. Is there any point! It's not a question, more just an angry thought betraying me.

"What's wrong, Ethan?" he asks, reaching out to touch my hand, setting off more bombs.

"I can't!" I try to offer words, but thoughts seem easier to send out. Is there any point doing this, when I know I will soon be leaving, stepping through gates against my will while Link plays the victim?

I almost forgot why we are here, why I am in the arms of another.

Ethan...!

I never knew before, but somehow, in the last few minutes, I know you love me...the way I thought Link felt for me! The explosions that ran through me were just tastes of something I have never had before, requited love, but I don't love Larkin. Maybe I could if we had more time, if I could be shown how a man should feel for his lover, but time is my enemy at the moment!

The field grows cold, the sun darkening as I willingly give myself away. I wanted to...to seduce you, to get you to do what I can't...to avenge me! But now, right this very second, I realise I would be using you, the way Link has used me for so long!

I shouldn't be telling him this, I should only bend him to my will and die knowing I shall have my vengeance, but where my head was once replaying the faces of Link, all I can see now is Larkin shrouded in the same light I saw him in. If he does as I ask, I know I will create marks on this purity, small cracks in a delicate surface. Could I really ruin someone's perfection as easily as Link has done to me?

Larkin ghosts his hand over mine before squeezing gently. "I can't do anything to harm a mortal, Ethan. Even if I could, if my powers allowed, I would, but I would be entering a darkness I have long rejected. I'm sorry, Ethan."

No, I am sorry, Larkin. I should never have...

You have the right to ask, Ethan. I am just bound by my religion, I guess you could call it my curse. "I would end the world for you if I could, Ethan Wate."

With the last of his words, the field starts to slowly dissolve, as the white walls of words and symbols reappear around us, the timer continuing to count down what little time I have left. Time we have left, to realise we are losing all chances of seeing if we could ever be together.

Maybe in another life? I offer, but he doesn't reply.

Gazing into his eyes I see my own reflected back, and I know Link has never looked at me this way, with lust not even entering into the equation. Larkin is different, he has wanted nothing from me other than a simple hello, yet he could only find this in my death, when he had no other choice but to talk to me before I am forever gone. Love flows from him and I know my asking him to avenge me would only diminish what he only wants to give. I want Link to feel the pain running through me, but can I really have that when it would cost Larkin so much?

Twenty seconds are left in red and somehow I can already begin to feel myself fade, sensing a tug in my stomach that wishes to pull me away. "This is it, Larkin." I stammer, feeling my whole soul aching as I watch tears well up in his eyes.

I ghost my hand over his cheek, trying to ease the pain in his eyes only for my fingers to meet with nothing. The first steps towards ceasing to be.

I'm sorry, Ethan. Forgive me! he pleads, causing me to smile a little while I find my own words to turn into thoughts.

Forgive you for what? You saved me from The Others, you showed me what I have wanted to feel for so long, but never have. You loved me.

I always will, Ethan. Love you, I mean.

There, someone other than Amma actually said it without me having to make them cum first. They are more than just words, they are a song played in heart strings, whispers between lovers. This is all I want to hear as I become nothing.

I wish we had more time...to see if...

As do I, Larkin tells me, his tears finally falling as he tries to hold onto me only for his hands to pass through me like I am nothing more than air. Reaching out for him as I feel the pull inside me increasing, I am overcome with the need to go back, to live again and see all he can show me.

He closes his eyes, shutting off the connection our minds have while his lips move to form silent words, his hair dancing in the absence of wind. We don't speak again as the pull takes over, as everything around me gets lost in the blinding light.

I close my own eyes, sending him thoughts I hope he can hear.

I wish I had time to love you, for you to help me feel something I have never had.

I am no longer!

…...

Waking with stinging eyes, like I have been crying for the past hour, I am surrounded by the sound of sobbing.

"I will always love you, Ethan Lawson Wate. You be with the spirits now, do you hear me? They will look after you." Amma's words fill my ears, pulling my attention her way.

Amma! I never got to say goodbye to her! While wondering if Larkin can still hear my request and will thank her for always looking after me, I suddenly realise where I am, sitting beside the bed of my body with Amma holding my hand, but it isn't mine at all, not now. Biting my lip I look at my dead body, pinching myself to force me to wake up, only to result in yelping my pain.

What's happening? Is this what's beyond the gates, my so-called eternal rest? Am I to suffer a torment for eternity?

"Are you okay, Wesley?" Amma asks, causing me to look over my shoulder into the emptiness of the room, assuming Link is behind me.

I have no idea what is going on, yet I don't feel as dead as I should, just alive in a body I am not used to. That's when I hear thoughts like before, words filling my head that are pained by a breaking heart.

I am sorry, Ethan. I just couldn't let you die, not like this.

Larkin's thoughts consume me, pulling me towards the realisation that I am not dead, but instead, I am in Link's body.

Larkin? What did you do? I ask, closing my eyes in hopes I can see his face.

There is a moments silence, only Amma's sobs filling the room until I hear him again. I did what you wanted me to do. I avenged you, Ethan!

I know what he is telling me, I can feel it hovering in the air around me.

Larkin switched my soul with Link's.

A soul was scheduled to pass the gates, Ethan. I couldn't let it be yours, not when we need more time. Even if you never love me, I couldn't let you die this way. Forgive me.

Closing my eyes I try to remain grounded, rather than become overwhelmed by the fact I have avoided deaths grasp. It's not just that, though, I have this urge to run from the hospital, to find myself locked within the arms of the man with green eyes.

This may not be love, but at least I have a second chance to try with someone who has saved me in more ways than one.

I do know one thing, above all else. This is not the end for Ethan Lawson Wate.