Miles had never been entirely comfortable away from home. The imposing walls of muted, faded paint, the peeling wallpaper, the controlled chaos of his bedroom, all of it was comforting and familiar. He hated being away from Flora, away from the stillness of the house when the sun was sinking over the horizon and the entire property was washed in shades of gold instead of white and blue. Here the dorm rooms were too neat, the paint on the walls white and fresh and clear, the scent of it caught on the fabric of the mattress, in the plasticky smell of the cheap sheets on his bed. None of it was comfortable, or warm, or safe. He didn’t feel like himself outside of the property, the building was as tied to him as the blood singing through his veins. He would never be able to rid himself of the memory of that place, rid himself of the softness of the mornings there in the summer, the cool floorboards under bare feet.
The only comfort in this strange place was Dorian, him with his whispering fingertips and cherubic blond curls and tongue as sharp as razor blades, his careful grace, his voice like money, his skin like porcelain and gold. Sometimes he felt like an angel sent to torment a sinner, the sinner being him, with his ugliness and his cracking soul and a devil buried under his skin. Angels didn’t do what they did. Angels didn’t kiss devils with honey sweet lips and call them flowers like they weren’t rotten weeds. My little rose, he called him, bloody like the thorns, pale as the soft white petals. They curled together under the cover of the trees lining the school grounds, Dorian with his head on his shoulder, a book of poetry in his hands, slender fingers turning the pages, tangling in his hair when he had an empty moment for it.
Quint would be disgusted by it, Miles should have been disgusted by it. A boy with touches so soft he felt like he was made of glass under his hands, a boy with a curling mouth and golden eyelashes, with cheeks that turned a delicate pink when he kissed them, with eyes the colour of mint leaves and the trees when the sunlight caught them just right, dappled and pale and beautiful. He missed home like he imagined he might miss a lost limb, but as long as he had Dorian, he was content. As long as he had Dorian, everything would be alright.
Dorian woke him up bloodied and silver in the moonlight. He had marks of red like brands on his skin, but bleached by the blue night, red bled black, and he looked nearly as colourless as Miles would always be. His voice was panicked, his hands harsh on his shoulders, shaking him, pleading with him to come to life, to wake up and hold him for a little while while he tried not to choke on the wings they’d torn off his back and shoved down his throat.
“They know, they all know, it’s all my fault, it’s all my fault and there’s nothing we can do, there’s nothing. They’ll kill us both, you know they will, they’re like dogs, they’re dead on the inside.” Dorian grabbed him, slender fingers flattening the curls at the base of his skull, staring at him with one eye swollen half shut, and all Miles could think was how deranged someone had to be to destroy something so beautiful. “You’re not like them, Miles. You’re sweet, you’re strong enough not to give in. Promise me.”
“I promise.” He held him against his chest, let him bleed black onto his white shirt, let him cry and cry and cry and wondered idly how a devil could lie to an angel so easily.
“Did you hurt somebody, Miles?” He heard Kate’s voice like he was underwater. “Miles?”
He closed his eyes, and prayed.