Being There by Lute
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Disclaimer: Do not own Newsies.

"Looking back, I have this to regret, that too often when I loved, I did not say so."
~ David Grayson


Being There


Snitch removed his shirt and threw it in the dewy grass, leaving it to soak in the magic of the faint morning light. A passion-filled fantasy running hotly through his blood, he was fueled to move faster, but not too fast. He wanted to be caught. He knew what would happen if he was caught, and he wanted that. He wanted it quite badly.
Skittery, his feet bare, swam in the thick, humid air, his heart soaring when he saw Snitch's empty shirt lying on the grass like a sleeping ghost. The allure of Snitch's bare chest -hard and delicate, like porcelain- was irresistible, and Skittery ran faster, his dirty feet cleansing themselves in the starry dew.
The pounding of hearts and strong inhaling breaths were the only sounds at that short moment before the sun broke free and warmed the Earth, awakened it. The sweet scent of grass and violets created a cloak of ambrosial scent, and the boys ignored it.
The chase was on. That was all that mattered.
Snitch removed his hat and lobbed it into the air, where it caught the breeze, flew for a moment, then fell into Skittery's open, waiting palms. Skittery clutched the cloth cap to his chest and closed the distance between them. Snitch could run fast when he wanted to, but there was no reason to want to run fast.
Skittery leapt forward and tackled Snitch, gently, both of them falling, dreamlike, to the velvety grass below. Snitch rolled over onto his back, smiling up at Skittery.
The boys stared into each other's eyes for a heavenly moment; Snitch's dancing, crystal blue, Skittery's stormy, heavy brown. Snitch's skin was cold when Skittery touched it, but his mouth burned with heat, warming in a way the sun never could.
The touch was light, soft, warm, rewarding. Snitch nuzzled Skittery's cheek like a kitten.
"I love you," he said.
Skittery kissed him, but said nothing. There was nothing to say. The strong emotion radiated around them as the stars faded and the sun rose in the fleshy pink of a virgin's cheek.
Snitch shut his eyes, and the lashes cast long shadows across his cheeks. He inhaled, and the air squealed on the way down. He coughed it up and tried again. No luck.
Skittery sat back on his knees, worried. His eyes widened as, suddenly, Snitch's flesh lost all color and turned a deep ashy gray. Above them, black clouds swirled and curled, lightning dancing across them. A whistling wind ruffled Skittery's' hair, and downed out his pained screams as the boy beneath him -contaminated, coughing, trying to shriek and finding himself unable to- transformed into a weak sack of skin and bones, his blue eyes the only feature left that looked even remotely alive.
Skittery, disgusted, leapt backwards, onto his feet, crying out as Snitch's ribcage grew more and more visible beneath his decaying skin. When the blue-eyed boy coughed, crimson blood flowed over his lips, the only color among the deathly gray.
Skittery's mind was screaming to run, run far away, where this... this thing couldn't get him. His heart, however, was scolding him for being such a shallow child.
I love him oh god I love him but hell that's gross I can see his blood I can see his heart I can see his bones oh god I can see right through his skin!!!

~*~*~*~*~*~

Skittery sat up in bed, gasping for breath, shivering in the cold sweat that cloaked his limber, healthy body.
From the sickroom came the distant sound of ragged coughing, and Skittery winced. Out of one nightmare, straight into another. His life was one, huge, nightmarish cycle these days.
Oh, he knew why he had these nightmares: Snitch still didn't know how much Skittery loved him. That was why.
And Snitch was dying.
If Skittery didn't tell him soon, he may never know.
Skittery sighed. No time like the present.
He pushed himself out of bed and padded out of the bunkroom and up the hallway to the sickroom, wincing at every breathless cough Snitch gave.
When he entered the room, the air was suddenly thick. He could feel the sickness dancing gleefully on his bare skin, and hear Death singing like the Devil's Choir in his ears. Snitch's troubled breathing pained Skittery's heart as he knelt by the bed.
The sun broke through the window, casting a dim light in the room. Snitch coughed harshly, then turned to look at Skittery. It was too difficult for him to speak with the cough, but his eyes spoke enough: What are you doing here?
Skittery, seeing the way Snitch's skin hung off his bones, suddenly felt like running, but he stood his ground. He pulled up a picture in his head of Snitch the previous summer, with the sun dancing in his hair like liquid gold, and his eyes laughing louder than his sweet, piano voice. This image gave him the strength to take the sick boy's delicate hand and smile into his sunken face.
"Hi, Snitch. How you feelin'?"
A slow, painful smile formed on Snitch's face. Fine, that smile said. Just a little cough, that's all. No problems.
Skittery smiled. "Liar."
The corners of Snitch's mouth spread, and his bottom lip split, filling with a shiny scarlet. You caught me. His eyebrows raised. I'm a bad boy.
Skittery laughed softly. "Come to tell you somethin'."
Snitch's eyes widened ever so slightly. What?
Skittery took a deep breath, squeezing Snitch's hand tenderly. "I... I wanna..." he looked into Snitch's eyes, so full of life but full of death at the same time, and he found he could no longer speak. Incoherent sounds spat from his throat, and he mentally cursed himself as Snitch smiled again.
"I wanna say get better. Okay? We miss you."
Snitch blinked and nodded slowly, then started another coughing fit. Skittery waited for him to finish, then stood, upset with himself. He turned to leave, but paused at the door when he heard rustling noises behind him. He frowned and looked over his shoulder, where Snitch was struggling to sit up.
"Snitch, you shouldn't-" Skittery stopped when Snitch weakly held up his hand and stared intently at him.
"Skitts," he croaked, his voice fragile like the pages of an ancient Bible. "I know."
"Know what? You shouldn't talk, Sni-"
"I know," Snitch repeated firmly but feebly. "And I love you too."
Skittery froze.
Snitch collapsed back onto the bed and coughed for an inhumane amount of time, during all of which Skittery stood in the doorway, watching.
When the coughing subsided, Snitch smiled and stuck his thumb in his mouth. Skittery blinked

(nap?)

and Snitch's eyes moved away

(yes a nap a very long nap).

Skittery sighed heavily and walked back to the bed. Snitch blinked up at him

(I'm scared)

and Skittery smiled

(death is but the next great adventure)

as he took Snitch's free hand. He kissed this hand, then Snitch's forehead. The sick boy's eyes shut heavily. Skittery squeezed his hand

(I love you)

and Snitch responded with a contented sigh

(I love you too).

The sickness in the air swam busily around them as Skittery sat patiently by Snitch's bedside, remembering the earlier portion of his dream. He mourned the loss of time to do such fantastical things, but found he preferred this right here: being a comfort to Snitch in his final moments.
Five minutes later, the room was still. That heavy cloak of sickness and death lifted, and Snitch moved no more.
Skittery watched him for a moment, then stood, lifted the sheet over Snitch's head, and walked slowly out of the room. He shut the door softly, and debated whether or not to wake Kloppman up and tell him the bad news.
He wasn't able to make his decision; the tears overwhelmed him before he got the chance.

END