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30 January 2006 @ 08:55 am
Fic: Dark Is Rising - 'Something Different', 1/1  
TITLE: Something Different
AUTHOR: Aristide (Mairead wouldn't touch this one--she wishes it to be known that she is entirely horrified and appalled by the contents of this story, and has slouched away moodily into the fog, vowing to return only when somebody starts bleeding)
FANDOM: Dark Is Rising
PAIRING: Will/Bran
RATING: NC-17 for m/m smut
WARNINGS: Schmoop! Dear lord, is this schmoopy. Other than that: feh. Underage, but not by much.
DISCLAIMER: These fellows belong to Susan Cooper, not to me.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The Divine Bone was kind enough to beta for me, which was especially lovely of her as this is not her fandom (which should tip you off that any errors herein are all mine!)

Author's notes: I am indebted to Misti, for gifting me with the Dark Is Rising series this holiday--I hadn't read it since I was a wee person, and I had forgotten how wonderful (and ravingly slashy) it is... At any rate, there's not much to this story--no real angst, no plot (for which I am earthshatteringly grateful), nothing much at all other than boys and their naughty bits--it's just something I wrote to distract myself from my current HP MonsterFic, which is being stroppy. In the old days I would have called this a 'poptart', but now, in keeping with my newfound dignified maturity, I think I'll call it a 'fluffersmutter' instead. If you haven't read Susan Cooper's Dark Is Rising series, don't bother reading this--it won't make any sense to you. Go read her books instead, for they do most assuredly rock. For the few Dark Is Rising slashfen out there on the planet: this is for you.

Something Different
By Aristide

The year Will turned thirteen, he spent most of his time missing Merriman. It had been easy enough to keep it together at the end of things, to be swept up into the 'forever and ever' pattern of knowing where his place was in the scheme of things, to watch and to guard, but once he was back at home and in school and the cycle of his life resumed, it was impossible not to dwell on it, not to feel the ache that Merriman left behind when he departed, not to feel (sometimes terribly) alone. He wrote to, and received letters from, Bran as well as the three Drews, but given that he was the only one who remembered anything other than a pleasant Welsh holiday, this correspondence tended to emphasize his aloneness rather than lessen it.

In his fourteenth year both Bran and the Drews sent him invitations to visit during the summer holidays, and he did think about it, at least idly, but in the end he sent polite notes of 'thanks, but not this year, very busy', to everyone, and if he had to struggle with himself for a longish time before he could manage to drop Bran's response into the postbox, well, he supposed that was understandable, after everything they'd been through... even if he was the only one who knew it.

At fifteen, he was surprised to find that he dreamed about Bran quite a bit, more and more often as the year went on, and he actually wondered if this was perhaps a hint from the Old One side of things that he should follow up on, if Bran were perhaps in some sort of danger... until one night he dreamed with depthless clarity that he was back on that hillside getting lessons in Welsh pronunciation, watching Bran's bow-shaped lips and pink tongue carefully, so very carefully, and the state in which he woke from this particular dream was quite sufficient to illuminate *that* mystery, and to prove that Bran wasn't really in much danger at all, as long as Will stayed away from him.

By sixteen, each letter he wrote to Bran was a balancing act that required all his wit and sophistication not to babble like a lovesick idiot, and every letter he received was an exercise in embarrassment as he tried (and failed) to stop himself from combing minutely through each sentence, each word, looking for clues to support the idea that perhaps Bran endured the same struggle in writing to him. He was well aware (hellishly, painfully aware) that he was being stupid, but knowing that didn't seem to make much of a difference.

He attempted, halfheartedly, to focus his attention in other directions. Since he'd finally gotten his growth (taller than James, though not so tall as Stephen, and his mother made him cringe in shame when she referred to him--which she seemed to delight in doing--as 'her prettiest non-daughter'), he'd had overtures of interest from quite a few of his classmates, but the giggle and flutter of the girls and the half-belligerent, half-daring bravado of the boys only made him more keenly aware of what he wasn't, what he wanted, and what he didn't have... what he'd never have, at this rate.

This seemed monumentally unfair. He had more experience, more knowledge, more awareness than anyone else he knew (who wasn't an Old One, anyway), and yet he was entirely unprepared for what he was going through. It was too bad that the writer of the Book of Gramarye, while waxing poetic about flying with the eagles and swimming in the deeps, hadn't seen any need to dash out a chapter about Your Changing Body And You. He felt adrift, and always in his mind there was Bran, the crux of his longing, a hopeless and apparently eternal attachment to a boy he'd spent a few scant weeks with years ago, who didn't even remember what had happened, who didn't know who, or what, he was, and could never be told.

He might have gone on like that permanently (the malady certainly showed no signs of abating), but in the fall of his sixteenth year a curious combination of circumstances conspired to shake things up a bit--a planned visit to the Stanton homestead of the extended family of the man Gwen was going to marry in the coming spring: a boisterous and numerous clan which threatened to fill the creaky old house to bursting; a letter from Bran which *insisted* that it had been far too long since they'd seen each other and warning him that he wouldn't be put off so easily this time; and the letter's enclosure: a picture of Bran with his new puppy (named Little Pen, after his father), a picture in which Bran appeared to be happy and healthy and entirely well-adjusted, and not at all pining after Will Stanton.

It wasn't the utmost he could have hoped for, perhaps, but in the foolish generosity of the truly smitten it seemed to him that it was enough, that simply seeing Bran happy would be enough, might contribute somehow to his own happiness, and maybe let him get on with his own life, which certain inner promptings suggested it was time (well past time, actually) to do.

He studied the picture intently, tapping one nail against it, studying the laughing boy, the smiling puppy, the sun reflecting off dark glasses, a different shape and style than he remembered Bran wearing. Different. Bran would be different. Everything would be different. And maybe he himself, finally, would be different.

He decided to go.


Will talked to himself very seriously on the train to Tywyn, which he supposed was a necessary and vital step given that in a few hours' time he'd be at Bran's house, with Bran, and presumably expected to behave like a normal, mortal boy, not an Old One and not, absolutely not, like a besotted git. He'd brought a book along so that he wouldn't be expected to talk to any of his fellow travelers (an antisocial sophistication he'd picked up in the last six months or so, especially handy at school), and he frowned into its depths as if his life depended on memorizing every page before the train arrived at his stop, but he didn't read a word of it.

He tried to think of what Merriman might have said to him had he been here (and had Will been monumentally foolish enough to tell him about it), which led him, logically enough, to thoughts of Merriman himself. He remembered the pain of missing him (he still felt it, although time had smoothed the sharp edges to something that was somehow more sad and yet good to remember) and it occurred to him for the first time that perhaps he'd been normal and mortal enough to simply transfer his longing for Merriman to a longing for Bran, which then, nurtured with the fertile and idiotically unpredictable waters of adolescence, had blossomed into the growth that had twined itself around his psyche and then nearly throttled the life out of him.

As a theory, it seemed sound enough. It seemed to fit all the facts he knew... and especially the one most overwhelming fact: all of his feelings, everything he'd built up around Bran, none of it took into account the fact that it had been four, almost five years since he'd seen him. He and Bran had been friends. As boys. Since then, they wrote to each other. As friends. And everything else... well, it had to be coming from his own head, somewhere. It had to be.

He decided to keep all that firmly in mind, and there was no question that it made him feel a bit better, made it seem that the meeting which every revolution of the train wheels brought him closer to could be a reunion of old friends, a rebuilding of old bonds (the ones Bran remembered, anyway), and not some sort of tightrope-walking challenge of hormonal misery.

The thought buoyed his spirits, and when Tywyn station came it got him up and out of the train-seat with his luggage well in hand, and directed his steps towards the doors with eagerness rather than panic. It was all quite comforting until he strode out onto the platform and got swooped up into a fierce and exuberant hug by Bran (a much taller Bran, with much broader shoulders), and Will had time to notice that Bran smelled exactly the same as he'd remembered before his head swam a little and the whistle of the train couldn't drown out the raucous, happy puppy bark from below and Will had to take Bran by the shoulders and hold him at arms length, to marvel and smile at him, and to fervently hope that Bran hadn't noticed his erection.


Bran was indeed different. Older, of course, they both were, but while Bran had always been... well, noticeable (which was putting it mildly--his white skin and hair and golden eyes would have stuck out a mile in London, let alone the Dysynni Valley), Will remembered the boy he'd known as coping with that through a combination of defiance and half-resentful playfulness. Now, as they walked arm-in-arm from the platform (Bran insisted upon carrying his bags, and gave Will a squirming armful of Little Pen to carry instead) and Will saw Bran return the grudging nods of the few townspeople about, it seemed that Bran had left behind his tendency to cast the Evil Eye at folks in favour of an amused, almost regal, sort of detachment. He was polished and superior and faintly mocking, as if his presence amongst these rough Welsh farm-folk was akin to visiting royalty graciously making a tour of the peasantry. It made Will smile, although it did worry him a bit, as Bran's sense of separateness always had.

"Well," Bran told him when they reached the car--a newer-model Land Rover that Will hadn't seen before, "we shall have a fine time for catching up, for sure: Dad was supposed to be here to greet you, but over on Ty-Bont farm they've had some sort of sheep-related emergency and all the local men are there, putting their heads and backs together to fix it. Thankfully, our house is built to sustain a bachelor style of comfort, so we won't be quite in the lurch."

"What's the problem?" Will asked, remembering his first visit. "It's not foxes, is it?"

Bran peered at him over the tops of his dark glasses and smiled, a wry, sardonic smile. "No, not foxes, grey or otherwise, nor mad dogs, nor Pritchards with guns, nor fire on the mountain... you mustn't expect your every visit here to be so exciting, you know, or for the entire populace to arrange for some sort of cataclysm in your honour. Puts the sheep off their feed." Will couldn't help but laugh. "No," Bran continued more soberly, "I think it's something much more dull and pedestrian, something about an alarming rise in the rates of hoof-rot, I believe. They're to talk about the water table and the accumulated rainfall totals and the grazing slopes until they've thrashed it out. Don't feel like you're missing out on an adventure."

Will nodded and looked away, uncertain as to whether Bran was mocking him or not, and not at all prepared to ask. He was determined, despite the disaster of their initial hug, to keep his mind firmly on their friendship. To find out, at least, if they still had one, after so many years.

Once in the car, Bran got Little Pen settled into the backseat with strict instructions (which Bran warned him were probably entirely useless) not to chew on Will's luggage. He didn't turn the engine over at once (and it was strange to think of Bran driving--Will wondered for a moment if he still had his old bicycle), but put the key into the ignition and then sat back, looking at him with a faint smile.

"Will Stanton," he said with evident satisfaction. "Returned at last." He took the dark glasses off, stowing them in a pocket of the windbreaker he wore, and Will got his first unimpeded view of Bran's disconcerting tawny eyes. Lovely eyes, he thought, and then caught himself. Unusual. Out of the common mold. That's all.

"Here I am," he agreed, and to his relief his voice sounded hearty enough in his own ears.

"And all grown up," Bran said, and again it was impossible for Will to tell if he was being mocked. He was certainly being scrutinized, and he shifted a little in the roomy bucket seat and hoped he wasn't blushing. "Grown up a bonny one, didn't you?" Bran added casually, and Will swallowed, hard. "I was expecting... oh, I don't know, a sturdy farm lad fresh from the Buckinghamshire wilds. Never thought you'd grow up to be such a ladykiller--"

The comment seemed to call for a laugh and so Will obliged, although this time it sounded far less hearty than he would have wished. Thankfully, Bran didn't seem to notice.

"Never mind me," Bran said airily, waving one hand. "I get it all the time, and it seems I can't help dishing some out when I get the chance: 'Why Bran'," he falsettoed, "'never expected you to grow up into such a great brute of a sheepherder's son!'" He winked, what seemed very much like a flirtatious wink, and reached for the keys again. "Only in my case, they're right."

As they sped off towards Clwyd farm, it occurred to Will that very possibly, he was in a great deal of trouble.


When they piled out of the car, Will could hear the phone ringing from inside the cottage, so he took charge of Little Pen while Bran hurried to the door. By the time he got inside Bran was engaged in conversation with someone, but as every word was in Welsh it was impossible to tell who. Will caught the word for 'sheep' and 'Ty-Bont' and then, eventually, his own name, which when pronounced by Bran in Welsh seemed to have at least two syllables, and a breathy roll at the end, and an image came to him unbidden of Bran saying that, whispering it, into his ear, and he sat down quickly at the kitchen table with the puppy in his lap.

"That was Dad," Bran told him after he'd hung up. "He sends his regrets and says he'll make it up to you with some spectacular Aberdyfi fishing in a day or two. He called to let me know that they're running late and he's going to stay over, he and John Rowlands, and that I'm to be a gracious host and make sure that you actually eat something and to remember that you're an honoured guest and not allowed to help me with my chores." He grinned. "So it's just us, young Will, and before I stuff you with cold chicken and your Aunt Jen's bread I think I should say that I personally think that it would be a dreadful shame if the programme for the evening did not include a great deal of scandalous, troublemaking behaviour: we can run mad, waste electricity by leaving lights on in rooms we're not in, vandalize Old Pritchard's lands by setting foot on them, open gates and forget to close them behind us..."

Bran looked so innocently wicked as he described this reign of terror that Will couldn't help snickering.

"...and then crown our rebellion with one great, final act of defiance, in which you'll help me with my chores. What do you say?"

Will nodded. "I say yes, of course, to all of it--except the chores. I wouldn't dream of violating the covenant between you and your father regarding your chores. It's sacred."

Bran raised an eyebrow. "Not as dumb as you are pretty, are you?"

Will covered (barely) by reaching out to smack Bran across the head. It didn't help that his fingers immediately reported the information that Bran's shiny, white hair was even softer, silkier than it looked.

He hoped Bran didn't expect him to get up from the table anytime soon.


What with one thing and another, they never got around to actually eating. Will stayed at the table while Bran strolled around the kitchen, vacillating lazily between icebox and cupboard and pantry, talking a mile a minute and firing off rapid questions about Will's home, school, and life, and for the first time since his arrival Will actually relaxed, losing himself in the back-and-forth banter that he remembered: the pleasure of talking to Bran, his irreverence and his wit, his insight and satirical assessment of everything and everyone around him. It was, at last, the renewal of what had been a strange but wonderful friendship.

At least, parts of it. It was clear from Bran's conversation that he had no memory of anything he shouldn't, which was right, which was good, which was as it should be... and yet, it saddened him, the veil that existed between them as a result. He supposed it always would.

Sad or not, Will enjoyed their talk, but perhaps the pleasure of re-establishing their friendship put him too much at his ease, because once they'd covered most of the minutiae of both of their lives Bran started teasing him again, and Will found himself woefully unprepared for it.

"So," Bran said, leaning back against the pantry door with his arms crossed over his chest (he'd shed the windbreaker to reveal a black roll-neck jumper, which was a little too well-fitted for Will's entire comfort), "Will, my lad, we've now covered just about everything of import, except for what your good breeding prevents your hinting at: your girlfriends. You haven't said a word. Now I'll allow something for your ever-charming modesty, but really, I must insist. Tell me everything."

Will floundered, with no idea at all of what the safest tack to take might be. In the end, he chose honesty, although it felt awfully like the kind of exposure he couldn't afford. "There's nothing to tell," he said quietly, feeling warmth in his face and hating it.

It was evident that Bran didn't believe him. "Pull the other one, Will bach, it's got bells on," he said archly. "Come now, with you seventeen in, what, two months' time? And not to mention going about with that fallen-angel look to you--it's a sure pull, I know. Now don't be stingy..."

Will had to do something, anything, anything at all to get off this subject. "Why don't you tell me about yours then?" he challenged, without really considering the fact that hearing about Bran's girlfriends was pretty much the last thing he wanted (other than talking about the lack of his own, of course).

Bran, however, didn't seem the least uncomfortable, but only shrugged. "Hm. So sorry to disappoint. I'm afraid I'm not really the girlfriend type." He said it easily, smoothly, as if it cost him nothing at all to say it.

Will was afraid for a moment that his mouth was open, but then his jaw clicked shut and he realised that it couldn't be. He looked down at the table, then made himself look up again because he couldn't stand the thought that Bran might think he was... judging him. "Yeah," he said, and his brain buzzed like mad as he wondered: was he actually going to say this? "Me too, I guess." Yes, apparently he was. He felt terribly lightheaded for a moment, but then the world steadied.

Bran chucked, and winked at him again. "I hope you don't think you're telling me anything I didn't already know, boyo," he said with mock-gravity.

Will bridled. "What?" He looked down at himself for a moment, and then back up at Bran. "You knew? How could you know? Do I look like--"

"You look," Bran said steadily, "exactly like what people call me: 'a sensitive boy'." The contempt in his voice was obvious and, for Will, quite hurtful. "At least, they do to my face. And I can't be arsed to care about what they call me when I'm not there." He tossed his head, then clapped his hands together, rubbing them briskly. "So. With all that out of the way, then, what shall we do? There's cards, or of course the telly, if you care for it, or we could take Little Pen for a nighttime ramble, or I suppose we could build a fort out of pillows and then swap fashion tips and create a secret handshake--"

Will was up and out of the chair before he knew he meant to move, and everything seemed to drift by in utter silence because the roaring in his ears left no room for anything else, and without ever feeling his feet touch the ground he found that he had Bran pressed hard up against the pantry door, actually right there against him with that soft, soft jumper gathered in his fists, and Bran's soft, soft mouth open under his, and something in his head exploded and he leaned in harder to make up for the sudden weakness in his knees, and the next thing he knew Bran had him by the shoulders, steadying him, holding him at arms' length and looking at him with brilliant, mischievous eyes.

"Yes, or I suppose we could do that," he said, not entirely evenly.


"Have I done this before?" Bran said in a faintly shocked voice, repeating Will's muttered question as he turned on the small lamp next to his bed, "are you daft? Of course I have. Haven't you?"

Will felt a sudden and desperate urge to lie, but he fought it off. Not now, and not to Bran. "No," he admitted softly, and then pushed himself to the final limit. "Nor ever wanted to, with anyone but you."

Bran's eyes softened at that, mellow gold gleaming. "Oh," he said, the edge vanished from his voice as if it had never been there. "I didn't know that."

Will shrugged. "Now you do," he said, and this time Bran was the one who leaned in to kiss him, and the world seemed to spin headily and somehow he was on the bed and on Bran, and much to his embarrassment he found that he couldn't stop shaking, but thankfully Bran didn't seem to mind. It occurred to him that it was fairly silly to feel such a strong need to not act like a nervous virgin when he'd just admitted that he was one, but there didn't seem to be anything he could do about it. However, the thought of it made him bold, bolder than he would have been, anyway, and he wrapped Bran in his arms tightly, never mind his own shaking, and kissed that bowed mouth as deep as he could, his heart hammering like mad.

When he heard Bran make a soft, purring noise of approval Will quivered right down to his toes, and slid his hands down and then up, winnowing under the jumper and soft cotton shirt that Bran wore beneath, filling his grasping hands with an expanse of smooth skin, satiny and fine-grained, warm and alive. He groaned, and Bran sighed, and Will had to drop his head into the curve of Bran's neck and breathe, his face hot as blazes and his head feeling like it was going to explode any minute if he didn't... if he didn't do something--

"You feel so good," he heard himself say as if from a long way off, and indeed while there was nothing more than normal, mortal experience at work here, Will felt as if his hands were glued to Bran's skin by some form of magic, as if pulling them away might somehow yank the soul right out of his body. He slid his hands up, reaching, daring, and when his thumbs brushed over Bran's peaked nipples, they both shivered.

Will kissed him again then, kissed him breathless, kissed him until he was lost in kissing, nothing in his world but the taste and smell and feel of Bran and time passed slowly, sweetly, floating away forever in punctuated kisses. He dimly heard his own low moans--half of need and half of satisfaction--but he didn't care and couldn't stop until it rushed upon him all of a sudden that they'd been kissing for a very long time (how long? Minutes? Hours? It felt like hours...) and his body had taken liberties that his hands and mouth had known nothing of, locked tight to Bran's as if the clothes between them didn't even exist, cradled between Bran's spread thighs and rocking, arching, shuddering and moving and twisting and oh, he had to stop, he had to stop right *now*--

"Oh, Will," Bran panted against his lips, his voice so low and husky and happy that there was no question of stopping anymore, because Will responded as if the words had been a spell or a command, seized by pleasure and spilling out out out, an unmistakable feeling of *giving*, giving something precious to Bran with his tongue and hands and body, which made no sense at all if he thought about it, so he didn't. But the feeling didn't go away, and when he finally summoned up the courage to actually open his eyes and look at Bran that didn't help either, because for all the world Bran looked like he'd just received some amazing kind of gift--half-wondering, half-gloating, happy and excited and aware of sudden new possibilities.

"What?" Will asked in a voice that shook with the rapid pounding of his heart, trying unsuccessfully to wish away the heat in his face, the shocking awareness of what he'd just done with Bran, to Bran, on Bran...

"You fancy me like mad, Will Stanton," Bran said smugly, as if daring Will to deny it.

As if he could. As if he wanted to. "I do," Will admitted throatily, wishing he had a third hand so he could stroke the hair back from the white brow beneath him without ever having to let go of the hot, silky incurve below Bran's ribcage. "Of course I do..."

Words weren't enough, though, not anymore, so Will dragged his hands downward, pulling back sufficiently to attack the button on Bran's jeans, desperate for more skin, for all of it, stunned to the core at the sudden thought of naked Bran in his arms, luminous and lovely, every inch his to touch and taste and hold and--

"What's the matter?" he asked, for underneath him Bran had gone quiet and still, his happy and complacent look replaced by a vaguely wary one. "What is it?"

Bran shrugged, then nodded his head at the bedside lamp which shone warm, buttery light down on both of them. "Light's on," he said stiffly.

Will abandoned the half-undone zipper-pull of Bran's jeans and rose to touch his face, smooth curve of cheek under his fingers. "I want to see you," he said simply, letting the need in his voice speak for itself. "I want to... to touch you, to... you know. Everything. Everything you want."

The corner of Bran's mouth twitched. "Pretty ambitious for a virgin, aren't you?" he asked archly.

It would have been easy to tease back, to smooth over the moment and everything that it meant to him, but Will recognized that for what it was, an escape, a denial. "No," he said slowly, heavily, sliding his hand to cup beneath Bran's neck, shivering when short, silky hairs brushed his palm. "I know I want you, that's all."

Bran's eyelids fluttered down, hiding his expression, and for a few moments Will wondered if he'd said the wrong thing, but then Bran sighed, softly and quietly, and began to shimmy out of his clothes. Will watched for a moment, and then attended to his own with a rough kind of absentminded haste that was utterly unlike him, but it seemed he couldn't spare much care or attention to anything else when Bran was slowly being revealed to him: such skin, flawless and white, smooth over lean muscle, beautiful angles and planes and shallow curves, sculpted and pale and perfect.

Desire rose in him again, and with it came the same small but uncontrollable tremors, the deep-seated urge in his hands to reach out and hold on and never let go. When Bran peeled away his socks, his last garment, Will stared at his elegant, long-boned feet, took in the shape of them, the curve of his toes, each with a thin crescent of nail the colour of a sun-bleached seashell, and almost groaned aloud.

Bran blinked at him, looked quizzically down at his own feet for a moment, and then back at him. "You're a very strange lad," he said, but the last word was lost in a half-gasp as Will reached out, unable to wait any longer, cupped one of those feet in his palm and slid up, pressing Bran back and back into the softness of the pillows while his hand slid up over ankle, calf, knee, thigh, and finally came to rest on the warm curve of hip, rubbing there back and forth, back and forth, melting them together slowly, open mouth to open mouth, breathing and kissing through every inch of contact.

Nothing could have prepared Will for this--this intensity of need, gratitude and longing, all of it as physical as it was emotional, undoing things inside him that had never come undone, leaving him gasping and shaken and at the mercy of something that felt... so much bigger than he was. Bran was warm and soft and hard and silky against him, under him, and made the most delicious half-stifled noises when kissed just under the angle of his jaw, each soft sound shivering through Will like a caress. He kissed everywhere he could reach, touched everywhere he could reach, and was just starting to lose himself in it all over again when he realised that Bran had gone still and quiet once more.

"What is it?" he asked, awareness of his own inexperience nibbling away at him from within--utterly unfair, to have so much knowledge within him, and none that would do him any good at all in this situation, nothing that could guide him in the right way of... of this. "Did I do something... did I hurt you?"

To his relief, Bran snorted faintly, rolling his eyes. "A delicate petal I'm not," Bran murmured, lifting his hands to Will's shoulders. "It's all sturdy, Welsh farmboy you've in bed with you, I'll have you know."

Will knocked Bran's forehead with his own, gently but purposefully. "What is it then? Am I doing this wrong?"

Bran appeared to be studying him with some intensity. "No, and I'm trying to recall if I've ever heard you sound uncertain before, and I don't think I have." He sighed. "You're fine," he said lightly, "you're lovely, it's just... different, different from what I'm used to, that's all."

Will's heart sank. "Different? Different how? Am I... how is it different?"

Beneath him Bran shrugged and turned his head, golden light limning his cheekbone, pooling there, while his remarkable eyes were lost in shadow. "It just is," Bran said, and nothing more.

Will knew he'd have to pull back now, pull away, but he couldn't help reaching out to cup Bran's face in his palm one last time--but as his hand touched that hot, smooth-skinned cheek something in his mind slipped, unbidden, a way of seeing that sometimes came to an Old One in a time of need and he saw clearly, all at once with a rush like a thunderclap exactly what it was...

Excruciating. It was excruciating, these flashes of Bran's history, the summed span of his experience--experience with many, many boys, from the town, from outlying farms, from school--and it was always dark and it was always rushed and it always hurt, there was shame and muttered threats and warnings, but there was power there too--power Bran drew from each one, an arrogant and solitary kind of triumph, to whisper against the abrading edge of an unshaven jaw: 'freak lover', and to emerge untouched, unsullied, with bruises that never showed behind his glasses and his high-necked clothing, and to ignore the jibes the next day, muttered epithets in the halls, all the easier because he knew, he knew what he'd taken from each and every one of them...

Will rested his forehead on Bran's chest, gasping with pain as all of this washed over him, leaving his heart raw and aching with loss. It was as if he'd stripped Bran's clothes off only to find him covered with a multitude of scars, scars that had never fully healed from a mass of wounds that had been inflicted so casually, so unthinkingly, by people who might as well have been strangers.

"Will?" Bran asked, obviously aware that something was amiss, and Will felt one hand tentatively come to rest against the back of his neck--gentle. Bran was gentle with him. Bran was gentle with him when nobody who'd ever touched him had ever treated him with anything resembling gentleness...

Will swallowed, and pressed a kiss to the thin, fine skin of Bran's chest. He couldn't tell Bran what he'd seen--not now, not ever. He couldn't tell Bran. But... he could... there was one thing he could do: he could love Bran, wholly, sweetly, and as tenderly as he could. The thought stirred something powerful in him, a sense of right, of purpose, of having his way set clear before him, a task that he could accomplish if only he had heart and strength and courage enough.

Different. Different from what Bran was used to. Yes, Will could be different.

"You're beautiful, Bran," he said, as he'd wanted to say before but hadn't, fearing his own uncertainty and inexperience, but he couldn't afford to listen to those now. All he could listen to was his heart, which spoke very clearly indeed.

"Will," Bran said, his voice a curious mixture of amused ridicule and reluctant pleasure. Will kissed him then, putting everything he had into it, all the need he felt, all the awe that rose in him at having Bran--perfect, beautiful Bran--lying naked in his arms.

And Bran responded, hesitantly at first, hands fluttering like birds over his shoulders, his back, the sides of his face, and Will held tight and squeezed and then Bran squeezed back, pressing them together, entwining their slow-moving limbs little by little until they were meshed in breath and body, and Will was sliding, delirious and dizzy, on the fine layer of sweat that they'd made together, both of them, he and Bran, together.

His blind, groping hands found Bran's own and kept them, cupped and anchored to the sheets as he worked downwards, slipping down to the proud curve of Bran's cock, elegant like the rest of him, and only slightly less pale. His own heart seemed to stutter and catch as he opened his mouth for it, and he felt Bran tense, but he squeezed the hands he held and Bran squeezed back and then it was good, only a soft, wondering sigh sounded in his ears as he took Bran in as deep as he could, flying on his own fear and daring.

Bran remained very quiet and still beneath him, but the pulse Will could feel in the wrist his thumb encircled sped, fluttered, then pounded like mad, and his ears eagerly caught the sound of Bran's breathing rising, deepening, shuddering a little in what sounded almost like a choked-off sob when Will's confidence finally rose to match his desire and he settled fully into the delight of having this, doing this, loving this part of Bran with all that was in him.

He wasn't overly gentle--his eagerness wouldn't allow for that--but he went slowly, savouring the scent and heat and size of Bran in his mouth, humming a little with happiness and need, a sound which harmonized completely with the throbbing in his own groin, a distraction which conversely only spurred him to greater focus, greater hunger, arching his spine and pushing him further, deeper, opening his mouth and throat to be wetter, hotter, one tender caress following another without pausing--

Bran surprised him then, pulling out of the clutch of his hands with a tremendous gasp and shudder, fisting a tight, fierce grip on his hair to hold him just where he was and thrusting into him *hard* twice, three times, and then crying out with all the passion Will could have hoped for and spilling hot into his mouth, salt and bitter like a kiss of sea and tears, Bran's kiss, Bran's life rushing through his veins like fire.

"Will," Bran said softly, after, with what sounded like the last of his breath, and Will rose to it, swallowing over and over until his throat felt dry and wonderfully used, folding Bran's limbs inward to hold him, a sweet, sated bundle, heavy head drowsing against his shoulder.

There was peace then, for a moment, a profound and quiet peace, and Will might very well have slipped into a doze despite his own raging desire if it hadn't been for Bran's sleepy nuzzle, warm kiss near his ear and a few half-audible words: "I saw... Will, I swear I saw..."

"What?" Will breathed, his heart galloping now for an altogether different reason, his arms tight around Bran as if that could somehow protect him.

Bran didn't answer, but kissed him, so sweetly and thoroughly that Will almost forgot how to inhale. "Things... the things I've seen in dreams," Bran said at last, in a soft, husky voice. "There was a rose, and a tree, and... bones. Strange. Horrible, some of it, and some of it beautiful. But very strange." He drew a slow breath. "But it was..." he trailed off, shrugging, and Will held him closer.

"What? It was what?"

"It was... it wasn't what I saw--that was real, and not-real, somehow both. But it made me feel like I lost something, and that's what's strange. To feel like something was lost, right in the middle of having..." Bran's warm palm pressed up against his chest. "So much. Does that make sense to you?"

"Something was lost," Will echoed, mulling that over.

"You were there--it was all about you, I know--I just don't know what it means."

Will kissed the damp skin of Bran's forehead. "Do you need to?" he asked. He heard the tremor in his own voice. Bran had been offered a choice, once, and had chosen. But that didn't mean he couldn't be offered the choice again.

"I need..." Bran looked at him, and despite all the kissing they'd done it was still rather a shock, Bran's face so close to his own, filling his field of vision. "I need not to feel like I've lost you when you're right here," he said at last, both wonder and conviction in his voice. "Here. Right here. With me."

Will realised then that he was guilty of deluding himself if he tried to think about this as Bran's choice--Bran didn't, couldn't know enough to choose, and couldn't be expected to fully understand the risk he ran--not until the choice was made. It was Will's choice after all, a weight in him both precious and heavy, as if he'd had Bran's life itself in his hands. And he supposed he did. "I'm with you," he affirmed, and he was, which he found made the choice an easy one, after all. "With you. Yes."


Will had expected--from his own illicit half-thrilled/half-fearful ruminations, but moreover from his exposure to Bran's memories of his earlier experiences--for there to be some significant pain in this, in taking Bran into his body, and at first it almost worried him that it didn't seem to hurt much, but he soon had other things to occupy his attention.

Bran's trembling, for one thing, which had begun as soon as Will made his first halting, embarrassed suggestion that they do this, and which had continued and intensified throughout their subsequent half-murmured argument: "You won't like it." "You don't know that." "You'll hate it." "Then we'll stop and do something else." "But what if...?" and Will actually might have been a little frightened if he hadn't had to work so hard to talk Bran into it, if he hadn't so clearly felt the echoes of Bran's earlier suffering in the near-panic that seemed to grip him.

"Will..." he heard that panic now, still, edging Bran's voice (in which the Welsh accent had thickened until Will could barely understand what he said) even though they were halfway there, Bran inside him so warm and welcome, precious, joined to him like this, just like this.

"Now who's calling who a delicate petal?" Will asked, stretching his legs to ease the ache--yes, there was an ache to it, but it was more like an ache of wanting than anything else.

Bran's eyes darkened. "Don't you put on the brave Buckinghamshire lad for me," he said warningly, trembling like an aspen leaf in the wind. "I can't... Oh, Will, I just can't..." He started to pull away, and it all might have been over right then if Will hadn't found some panic of his own--not to lose this, never to lose this--and slid his hands down to the lovely curve of Bran's arse and *yanked*, lifting himself into it, and he never knew whether it was the satisfaction of having that ache filled at last--filled to bursting--or the pure, dense intimacy of knowing that it was Bran inside him, but whatever it was created a great sea-wave of feeling that he rode effortlessly, and Bran's shocked, horrified gasp was lost under his own passionate groan as his body went ahead without his leave for the second time and he came, shuddering with pleasure, all over Bran's warm, smooth stomach.

"Will!" The rest of Bran's sentence dissolved into a stream of Welsh that went entirely unheard by him, on and on until his gasping mouth covered Bran's, choking him off quite effectively.

"You feel so good," he said when they broke apart at last, hearing his own heartbeat clear in his voice, throaty and happy and embarrassingly sated. He lifted one hand to touch Bran's cheek, leaving the other where it was lest Bran get any sudden ideas about pulling away from him again.

Bran's eyes were wider than he'd ever remembered seeing them, all the light in the room seemed to pool there. "I don't believe you just did that," he said weakly, shaking his head.

Giddiness rose in Will, something that lightened his heart as if a balloon had been tied to it. "You should," he scolded, "you were right here the entire time."

Bran blinked. "But... didn't that *hurt*?"

Will tousled Bran's soft hair. "Oh yeah--haven't known quite how to tell you, mate, but that's what really does it for me--major physical pain. Now have your violent way with me, you brute of a sheepherder's son, you."

"Cheeky sod," Bran replied, but that sounded automatic and uncertain. "You... like this," he said hesitantly, rocking a little, and Will's toes curled.

"Ah... y-yes, I, that is, I... oh please..."

"You," Bran said, but that was all, his expression serious and tender. Will kissed him, rubbing up against him, wondering how exactly he was supposed to go about seducing Bran when he'd never done this before...

But he was spared that particular dilemma, because after drawing a breath that sounded like it might have come from a man who was about to try and lift up a church, Bran bent down to him, kissed him gently, tasting him with soft, teasing licks, and then swiveled his hips in one smooth, long stroke that made Will's head thump backwards into the pillows, awash in an erotic jolt he felt even in his teeth. He felt desperately that he needed to say something, do something encouraging, something to reassure Bran that all was good, but he couldn't manage much with his bones all melted and his legs gone to jelly.

Fortunately, Bran seemed to have caught on, because he didn't stop, didn't pause, didn't hesitate any further but lifted Will's limp legs up 'round him and kissed him deeply, wetly, somehow eager and innocent and lewd all at once, and then thrust into him like he meant it, like he was dying for it, like he'd never, ever stop.

Will felt as if he were coming apart and being skillfully remade, solid on oak and iron while Bran crafted him into some new and wonderful shape, something brilliant and beautiful and tempered in fire, to stand proof against time and change and the rising of any darkness, vital and needed and altogether beloved.

"Will," Bran gasped against his lips, arms around him like bands of iron, beautiful and sensual and moving in him so powerfully and Will didn't know if he could stand it, but he knew he couldn't stand to be without it.

"Yes--" it was all he could say, all the breath he could spare when there was kissing to be done, when each stroke of Bran's cock inside him made a thousand colours explode in his mind, when his hands were full of Bran's amazing skin, hot and fevered, needful and wanting and sooner than he would have believed possible he was on the edge again, heaving for breath and arching desperately into each kiss, trying with all his might to hold off for once, because this time he wanted, more than anything, he wanted...

Bran pulled out of their kiss, bowed mouth open as if in shock, and Will felt him start to shake all over again. His eyes widened, brightened, and in the midst of everything Will could *see* comprehension flooding in, everything gained and perhaps everything lost, but done, chosen, irrevocable. With shaking hands Will reached up to take Bran's face in his palms, meeting Bran's stunned, new-aware eyes. "My Lord," he whispered, stroking Bran's cheek. "My Dragon."

Bran's face dropped to his shoulder and Will cradled him there, a ragged gasp in his ear and then a deep, desperate cry of passion, of awareness, of release, over and over and Will let go when Bran did, rocking them together and coming together and feeling them close, closer than anything, a terrifying sort of closeness but he loved it--he loved it he loved it he loved it.


Bran put his hand around Will's and pulled the cold chicken-leg from Will's mouth to his own, taking a huge bite. "Hell of a way to break the news to a fellow," he mumbled reproachfully through his mouthful, shaking his head.

Will yanked his chicken back with a scowl, inspecting it for a moment before he started gnawing happily on it again. "Yes, well," he said when he could, "I had planned out a whole 'now sit down and brace yourself, lad, for I've somethin' to tell ye' scene, but you know, there just wasn't time."

Bran's lovely, white brows arched. "Indeed. You were very busy," he said solemnly. "It's hard work, spoiling my nicest sheets--"


"Making my only duvet unfit to be seen by anybody--"


"Putting great, beastly teeth-marks into my best pillow--"

Will picked up the pillow and threw it at him. This unfortunately led to the sort of grappling which did rather more damage to the bedding than less, plus resulted in the chicken being rendered inedible by virtue of being used as an impromptu bludgeon, but nevertheless they were both smiling and out of breath at the end of it, lying in a friendly tangle of limbs, sweat and chicken-grease.

"Are you sorry?" Will asked all at once, without knowing that he meant to. It sobered him, and the serious look that Bran gave him sobered him more.

"I am not," Bran said simply, straightforwardly. He cocked his head. "Did you honestly think I would be?"

"I didn't know," Will answered, and to his horrified shame he felt his eyes sting. "I had no way to know."

Bran gentled him back into the nest of ruined bedding, soothing him as if he'd been a spooked horse. "Shh, Will, there--it's all right, no harm was done..."

Will felt entirely ridiculous, but that didn't stop him from burrowing his head into the comforting, warm curve of Bran's shoulder, sniffing once, loudly, and then subsiding. When he opened his eyes he saw Bran peering down at him, a wicked smirk on his face. "You tremendous girl," Bran mocked happily, and undoubtedly would have gone on mocking him if Will hadn't called upon all the wiliness and sophistication of an Old One and reached down to take Bran's cock in a fine, tight grip, bringing his new-found experience to bear as he flipped them over.

He ignored Bran's high-pitched yelp that melted into a heartfelt moan, and stoutly resolved not to pay attention to how shockingly sexy Bran was with his head arched back like that, his throat so pale and lovely. "You..." Will said firmly, as firm as his caresses to Bran's captive erection, "You fancy me like mad, Bran Davies."

Bran's eyelids fluttered. "Oh yes," he said earnestly. "Especially certain bits of you--"

Will slowed his hand. "Every last bit of me. You do."

Bran tossed his head. "I can't argue with the... ohh... wisdom of the Old Ones, I suppose--"

"Wisdom my arse," Will growled, squeezing and flicking his thumb, trying not to shiver when Bran did. "You. Do."

Bran broke all at once with the softest, sweetest moan, arching into Will's fist and plunging both hands into Will's hair to drag him into a wild, fierce kiss. "My Will," he breathed, touching Will's forehead to his own, "Beautiful Will--I do. Of course I do."

And even though he was so aroused he felt as if he were vibrating like a tuning-fork, Will couldn't help grinning. "I hope you don't think you're telling me anything I didn't already know, boyo."

"Oh, shut up and come here, brat."

And he did.

Vagina Coladathe1mouse on January 30th, 2006 05:23 pm (UTC)
Just a recommendation... Either before or after the acknowledgements and admonitions section, you might like to put in an LJ Cut tag. This hides the bulk of your text behind a link so that those of us who wish to read right this minute can click the link - but those of us who are skimming the friends list at work (:p) don't end up paging down and down and down.

LJ Cut works like so:


I love you!
(Deleted comment)
cimmerianscimmerians on January 30th, 2006 10:56 pm (UTC)
Meep! Darlin! I never, ever would have tried this if I hadn't read and adored yours first (not that you should blame yourself...)
twistedchick on January 30th, 2006 06:54 pm (UTC)
Welcome to LJ! I love your writing, I've always loved it -- but cut tags are everyone's friend.

Here's an example -- use pointy brackets instead of square ones to do it for real:

New story info

[lj-cut text:"whatever you want to say here"]
the story itself, as much and as long a story as I want to write.

It will make it a lot easier for your readers.
cimmerianscimmerians on January 30th, 2006 07:12 pm (UTC)
Ack. Yes. The cut.
Thanks so much for the how-to! And for the warm welcome :-)

Much obliged--
exceptinsectsexceptinsects on January 30th, 2006 08:42 pm (UTC)
Oh my.
Oh my my my my my.

*heroically does not quite swoon*

cimmerianscimmerians on January 30th, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC)
Aww... thanks so much! You made my day :-)
Isilyaisilya on January 30th, 2006 09:13 pm (UTC)
Oh wow. This story was unbelievably lovely; the awkward tension of teenage boys, Will sternly talking to himself and rationalising his crush. The build-up and payoff was exquisite.

Your pacing and character development are phenomenal. This is one of the loveliest things I have read this year.
cimmerianscimmerians on January 30th, 2006 11:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much--I'm so glad that you enjoyed it. I had much, much fun writing it (especially the whole absence-of-plot thing) :-)
lovessong: Merglenn fanlovessong on January 30th, 2006 09:14 pm (UTC)
Oh, lovely. It's been a long, long time since I've read the Dark is Rising books, but this makes me want to read them all over again.

I'm glad you're here on LJ and posting such wonderful things!
cimmerianscimmerians on January 30th, 2006 11:06 pm (UTC)
Much obliged for the warm welcome, and *thrilled* to pimp S. Cooper's books. They're so fun...
Carla: dancing Betty (livia)beledibabe on January 30th, 2006 09:25 pm (UTC)
Whew! Awesome and gorgeous. (And schmoopy, but hey, what's a little schmoop between friends?)

I'm so glad you made it over to lj-land.
cimmerianscimmerians on January 30th, 2006 11:07 pm (UTC)
Schmoop indeed--even my cats wouldn't get near me. Thanks so much for letting me know that you enjoyed the story!
Filibuster Vigilantly: Wash: B&Wtheamusedone on January 30th, 2006 11:32 pm (UTC)
Hi there, welcome to the wonderful world of LJ!

This story was the nicest surprise I have had in weeks. You have totally captured the feeling of the books and made them into something hot and wonderful and new.

Brilliant job, this one is going right into my favorites folder. Thank you so much for writing it.
cimmerianscimmerians on January 31st, 2006 03:12 pm (UTC)
Aww... thanks so much! I'm so glad you liked it!
(Deleted comment)
cimmerianscimmerians on January 31st, 2006 03:13 pm (UTC)
::snurfle:: Thank you--this made my day. And yes, the books certainly do!
wordwitch: More pleasewordwitch on January 31st, 2006 02:57 am (UTC)
Lovely and rich and thorough; if Ms. Cooper had planned on this particular epilogue, I believe she would have written it just like this.

Perhaps with some geese or gar or something.

There is no awkward or ugly part, but I do like this bit:
Will nodded. "I say yes, of course, to all of it--except the chores. I wouldn't dream of violating the covenant between you and your father regarding your chores. It's sacred."

So glad you're here.
cimmerianscimmerians on January 31st, 2006 03:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you thank you thank you! So glad you enjoyed it! And very glad to be here.
gigletgiglet on January 31st, 2006 03:14 am (UTC)
Oh this is beautiful, and wonderful. You've made teenage angst and sex and love new again, and lovely.

Thank you so much!

Welcome to LJ!
cimmerianscimmerians on January 31st, 2006 03:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, dear, and for the warm welcome as well!
crysothemis: shep yescrysothemis on January 31st, 2006 05:02 am (UTC)
Oh, but this is lovely. It reminds me that I really, really need to reread the books (although in my day I was something of a Dark Is Rising junkie, so I remember them surprisingly well).

I love how you captured the tone of the books, with just that added little twist, as in: Will had to take Bran by the shoulders and hold him at arms length, to marvel and smile at him, and to fervently hope that Bran hadn't noticed his erection.

And schmoop or no, it worked for me. ::g::
cimmerianscimmerians on January 31st, 2006 03:17 pm (UTC)
Good lord, you've spawned!?! Wow... congratulations to you and yours! Hm... Crysothemis, the Next Generation... perhaps there's hope for the future after all.

I'm so glad you enjoyed the story--I had a great (if squirmingly embarrassed) time writing it :-)
(no subject) - crysothemis on January 31st, 2006 04:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
plus one skeletondelurker on January 31st, 2006 06:14 am (UTC)
Mmm, very nice. Welcome to LJ!
cimmerianscimmerians on January 31st, 2006 03:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Glad to be here!
lynnmonsterlynnmonster on January 31st, 2006 06:49 am (UTC)
Oh, I adored this, especially the way the boys are so clearly stamped with such vivid older-but-recognizable extrapolations of their personalities.

Welcome to LJ!
cimmerianscimmerians on January 31st, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much--very glad to be here, and delighted that you enjoyed the story!
(Deleted comment)
cimmerianscimmerians on January 31st, 2006 03:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much :-)