Neil Perry
16 October 2009 @ 09:59 pm
They stopped speaking to one another for a week, after the first time they clumsily and guiltily got each other off, teeth clenched and eyes tightly shut. It was easier not to look or speak; sharing a quiet language of searching hands, startled moans choked into hisses and gasps. Silence became habit for them even as they grew bolder, slipping in the dead of night into each other's beds. In time it became a practiced yet spontaneous ritual; an odd and easy contest of wills to see who'd give in first to the chill and their desires and close the distance between them.

At first, it was almost always Neil; not weaker in will but more given to adventure, less afraid of the gravity of their trespasses. Not to imply, of course, that Todd was less willing; he scrambled eagerly over to the far side of his narrow bed as soon as he heard Neil's covers rustle, the heavy breath spilled as bare feet hit the cold floor. As the weeks of nights went on he grew bolder, often slipping silently beneath his friend's sheets even before the sounds of stirring outside had wholly abated.

And so (much later) it was usually Todd who took the lead, hands on his friend's narrow hips. Always deliberate, by nature steadier and more focused than Neil. And though the dark-eyed boy always came quickly and wildly, as reckless and eager in love as in all other things, neither had any complaints. Except, perhaps, that this seemed to be something real; not a product of close quarters and a dearth of options, the comforting lie they'd both tacitly agreed to when this started.

It bothered Neil more; the whole future of the world rested on his shoulders, in his father's eyes, and doubtless finding out his firstborn and only heir was a faggot would crush Tom Perry, and he would lash out. And then, Neil knew, the cozy little world he'd built would descend around him. Neil had never hated his father; perhaps, Todd privately thought, he should. Every challenge, every outrageous expectation was a sacred duty for Neil, and though he'd already made up his mind that he wouldn't give Todd up, it was a difficult choice to live with. He feared and revered his father, withering in the face of his disapproval.

For now it would be easy enough to get away without saying anything. Secrecy was vital anyway because of where they were; if the administration learned of their deviance, separation would be the least of their punishments. But for once in his life, Neil took the long view of things; in a few years, doubtless, the question of grandchildren would be raised, and then what?

Todd was nearly as upset by these fits of doubt; they were the only times Neil ever failed to listen to him. In any other matter he would consider, if not defer to, Todd's judgment; but when it came to his future, his father, no argument could sway him from his apocalyptic moods. Todd understood; even if he mattered little in his family's eyes, he saw the same thing in Jeffrey-- the weight of being the hope for tomorrow, the responsibility conferred by favoritism. It was easy to forget, in light of his own quiet resentment... but at times like this, Todd was almost glad to be neglected.

So at length he stopped even trying to reason with Neil, pulling him out of his spiral with insistent distractions instead. And though this was arguably more problem than solution it always worked; in time Neil's shoulders would unstiffen and he'd fall into his roommate's waiting arms, reminded of what, exactly, defiance bought him.
Neil Perry
22 June 2009 @ 03:11 am
The truth coiled on the floor between them in an errant patch of moonlight.
He wasn't certain what had woken him; some muffled mutter of Todd's, the faint echo out of a poet's dream, perhaps. Or had he dreamed himself, some vision forgotten in the moment of coming awake? Perhaps it had been nothing-- mere chance stirring him from his rest to stare at the bars of shadow across the ceiling, to stand and peer through the rimed panes at the slumbering campus.
His roommate shifted in the other bed, turning his face so the silver light fell across it, dead to the world. Neil smiled at nothing and knelt to retrieve the blanket, throwing it over Todd's sleeping form. Careful to cover his feet. The act was a joke, a conceit; but as soon as the thought formed in his mind he felt a shiver-- deep, seated at the base of his spine. The same chill he'd felt in the classroom; not cold but somehow somber, sacred. Visceral. He tried to remember Todd's poem, mouthing the lines voicelessly and coming up somehow short on his own-- what was it-- and his hands reach out and choke me, and all the while he's mumbling... the cadence caught in his throat at last, and he stood as still as granite, eyes shut, trying to commit it more perfectly to memory. The low, stumbling phrases; the boy's hesitance giving way to the rush of words, quicker and bolder with bitten edges and breaths between. He'd sat enraptured; it had been an unexpected outburst of beauty, something indescribably perfect and spontaneous. He'd suspected that Todd would do something amazing, eventually-- once his shell of shyness cracked, once he managed to eke out a space beyond the shadow of his brother's grand and smothering reputation-- but he'd been unprepared for the poem. Neil had been aware of the potency of the moment, the fact that something significant had happened. Truth. Truth.
The same urgent sense hung in the air now, conjured by the words he whispered to himself. They weren't his; belonged to the sleeping boy; but he made them his own in his own heart. It was what he was; an actor, a speaker; intoning others' phrases, imbuing them with enough of himself to evoke in the listener what he himself felt. He was a bit giddy; felt inhuman, insubstantial. A creature of mercurial light and smoke standing in the space between their lives, looking down upon them with ancient eyes. Something had happened; those words Keating had unleashed had changed their lives in a subtle and thrilling way.
A muddle of emotions welled up inside him, and he felt he might shout-- could not contain the pounding of his heart, needed to give voice-- if ineloquently-- to his certainties. He took a deep breath. He was quicksilver and wild; he was as he had always been and never dared to be.
Todd mumbled something in his sleep, nearly inaudible, and kicked his feet free of the blanket. His creased brow smoothed, and he settled back into stillness.

Neil laughed softly, and the moment faded; he was only a boy with cold bare feet on cold bare wood, clad in worn flannel pajamas. Yet somehow the fire did not go out of him; he took a slow, steady breath, eying the bars of light and shadow on the wall. Something important had happened; they had all been changed in an instant, irrevocably. Neil shook his head and slipped back into his own bed.