//He had a smile on his face like the climax of a novel, and his kisses were the chorus to a treasured favourite song.\\

Benedict has lived six months in a ragged half existence, torn apart after his twin brother's accident. Still, when he meets Whisper, the happy-go-lucky boy in the wheelchair who volunteers at his support group, Benedict starts to realise that maybe it isn't totally impossible for him to begin enjoying life again. It's only after the two uncover some incriminating evidence that Ben understands that his brother's car crash wasn't quite so accidental as he originally thought.

\\The amazing, beautiful, wonderful cover is by @violets//




The swing creaked noisily under Ben's weight. After leaving Whisper's place, he hadn't gone straight home. Home required talking to his mother, and talking to his mother required facing all the cruel things he'd said to her. 

And 'Dan x'. It required facing up to 'Dan x', whoever he was.

Ben craved answers like addicts crave their latest fix- and yet, he didn't quite feel ready for answers just yet.

Not if the answers involved Whisper, anyway.

That was why Ben had come to the old children's park round the back of the estate of posh houses, about halfway between his own home and Whisper's. The park was deserted; it had been for a while now. Ben thought it was set to be demolished or something- and he could see why, from the falling apart roundabout and sad looking monkey bars. 

He stared down at his hands wordlessly, tracing his gaze along the lines that traversed them.    It was a little like map reading, he supposed, if maps could light up the path of a life. There, by his left little finger, was the cut from when he'd fallen off his bicycle and had to get stitches. And there, just above his wrist, was the scar from his first proper fight with Seb. If he squinted, Ben could just make out where the bruise had been from when-

"Catch," came a voice, and Ben startled, his hands leaping in front of his face. They closed around a red, juicy apple. Julian raised an eyebrow at Ben, then sat down with a long, drawn out sigh on the swing beside him. 

"Nice reflexes," drawled Julian appraisingly. "You looked hungry, and I figured there was no harm in a little charity every once in a while."

Ben scowled a little more. He had spent many years honing his scowl, and it was hardly boasting to say that it was an exceptionally good one. He liked to save it for particularly annoying people like Julian. "What are you doing here?" 

"Please, since when were you the FBI?" Julian rolled his eyes, pausing as if debating whether to give Ben a solid answer or not. "My house is just over there." He pointed, vaguely, in the general direction that Ben knew as the way to the 'posh houses'. "I like to come here to think, sometimes." 

"Fancy that," snapped Ben, nastily. "Someone like you, actually thinking." 

Julian laughed snidely. "Not going to eat the apple, are you?"

"Just the sight of you gives me the feeling that I won't be able to eat for weeks," said Ben. He was about to say something more, but was cut off by the sound of his stomach rumbling. It was very loud, and very obvious. Ben wished it would lose its voice or cut out its tongue or something. He'd forgotten to eat at Whisper's house, which meant he hadn't had any substantial food in almost a day. 

Julian looked at him. "Eat the goddamn apple before you starve." 

Ben turned away in disgust at himself. Then he bit the apple, hard. 

It tasted good. Really good, in fact. Ben had been hungry for so long the feeling had reduced itself to little more than a throbbing ache in the pit of his stomach- but now the hunger reared itself up to its full height, threatening to consume Ben whole. He made to take another bite, but Julian stopped him short. 

"Ah, ah, ah. That's enough, Ben. I thought you weren't hungry, anyway." Julian held out his hand for the apple. Ben pulled the most disgusted face he could muster, and threw the apple at Julian's head. He caught it easily, in one fluid, simple motion. 

Ben gritted his teeth angrily. Stupid prick. 

Almost lazily, Julian bit down on the apple, then tossed it back to Ben like he had thousands more in his pockets. Ben grimaced, then took another bite of the apple. He was hungry, and hunger has long been known as the root of several evils. 

Julian smirked. It was actually kind of distracting how much this guy smirked. "You know," he started, his tone infuriatingly conversational. "You know, for someone who's never been kissed before, sharing food is pretty damn close." He preened almost as well as if he'd been staring into a mirror, his teeth sharp and predatoral behind his lips.

Ben realised, in that moment, that Julian was not a boy at all. He was a wolf, and right now, Ben was his prey. 

"What's it like?" asked Julian conspiratorially. "What's it like, having someone as gorgeous as me as your first kiss?"

"You're not my first kiss," said Ben gruffly. 

"Oh?" Julian answered, and Ben couldn't tell if his interest was genuine or feigned. "Who was the lucky guy? Or girl. You into girls as well, Ben?" 

Ben shrugged. He didn't know. He didn't care. He didn't see why things like that should matter, really. 

Julian laughed. "Nah, forget I asked that. You're gayer than a sparkly vampire at a pride parade in San Francisco, right?" Julian grinned like a little kid at Christmas. Or, you know, a psychopath just witnessing his very first murder. "I always thought Edward had a thing for Jacob."

"I've not read Twilight." 

"Seen the movies?"

"No. Please go away." 

Julian tossed his head. "Well, I mean, I've not seen Whisper naked [Ben blushed], but that doesn't mean it isn't worth speculating. Edward was madly in love with Jacob the entire time, and if you try and deny it I'll-"

"Piss off? Please, do go ahead. Thanks for the apple."

"Ha, ha, ha. Goddamn hilarious, you. Ben, your life is officially my new favourite comedy." Before Ben could reply (or even think up some suitably scathing retort to reply with) Julian continued, his smile a mocking taunt. "So, who was it? Your first kiss, I mean?"

Ben looked down at his feet. "Whisper."

"Oh? You guys have got way more serious than I gave you credit for." Julian raised an eyebrow. 

"I don't need any credit from you, you son of a bitch."

Julian raised a hand to cover his mouth, mock offended.  "How rude. If anything, my mother is vaguely porcine."

Ben ruffled a hand through his long, dark hair. He was tired of this. "Okay, then I don't need any credit from anyone who uses a word like 'porcine' in regular conversation."

Snorting, Julian looked at Ben sidelong. "Like you're not the most pretentious idiot I know." Then he relaxed, rocking on the swing seat. Slowly, he whistled. It sounded, if anything, like the first note of a lullaby. "Whisper, huh? You sure that's sensible?"

Forehead creasing slightly, Ben sneered at Julian. "Why wouldn't it be? Are you trying to threaten me or something? Because I'm half Asian. I know karate."

"Ben, you've never attempted martial arts in your life. I can tell just from looking at you."

"Fine," admitted Ben, "so I don't know karate. Why's it not sensible to kiss Whisper?"

"It's just..." Julian's expression darkened, becoming more serious. "Look, there's stuff that I can 99.9% guarantee that you don't know about. Stuff you couldn't even guess at. Just- trust me, you don't want to get too involved with the guy, okay? Friendly advice, Ben."

"Friendly advice?"

"Unfriendly advice. Whatever. Ben, just-"

"Stop calling me Ben. Only my friends call me Ben," he interjected childishly. Julian pulled a face, irritated.

"Okay, then. Benedict." Full name, three syllables. Standing up from the swing seat as if he modelled standing up from swing seats on a daily basis, Julian turned a sarcastic glare on the other boy. "I'm doing you a favour here. Take it or leave it." 

Julian's features twisted into a wry smile as he walked towards the park exit. "Whisper's not the kind of guy you want to be forging a long standing relationship with. Sooner or later you're going to find out about all the shit he's been tangled up in- and believe me, I am absolutely going to be right there saying 'I told you so' when it happens."

Somehow, Ben didn't doubt it. 

He thought back to the text on Whisper's phone - the text from Dan x, addressed to Ben's mother - and he shivered. 





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