kaydeefalls: shocked posner looking up at grinning scripps (posner/scripps)
[personal profile] kaydeefalls
I'm sure all three of you familiar with the fandom are thrilled, really.

Memento Mori
by kaydee falls
history boys fic, mostly scripps/posner
not mine, no profit, don't sue
with huge thanks to [livejournal.com profile] fiercynn for the awesome beta

November 1987

Lockwood wasn't the first funeral, after Hector; he was just the first of the Cutler's sixth form history boys. The first funeral, for Scripps and Posner at least, was Roger Bentley – or Dakin the Fifth, as Scripps used to refer to him.

Bentley had been in Posner's tutorial on the Napoleonic Wars their second year at Oxford. He was a flamboyant, gregarious lad with keen, dark blue eyes with whom Posner had been thoroughly besotted for two full terms. At least Posner had gotten a shag out of that one – not necessarily a point in Bentley's favor, as he'd thrown Posner over immediately following.

It was scarcely a year and a half out of uni when they heard the news about Bentley. "The funeral's this Saturday, and if you make me go it alone, I'll make you go it alone on rent this month," Posner threatened.

Scripps made a token protest, but really, of course he'd go. He had known Bentley too, after all, downed a few pints with him a time or two, and it was only fair he pay his respects – even if he'd secretly thought Bentley a complete wanker and the worst flirt in all Christendom. Besides, he really couldn't afford the rent on this flat on his own.

"I can hardly believe it," Scripps remarked. "I thought the bastard would outlive us all, just for the laugh. What happened, did Johansson say?"

Posner gave him a Look. "You know how he shagged around, Scripps, what d'you think? By the by," he added casually, "I got tested yesterday after I heard, just to be sure, and I'm negative. In case you were wondering."

Scripps felt his stomach twist into a cold, hard knot; it hadn't even occurred to him. "Well, that's all right, then," he said, trying to match Posner's tone of nonchalance, and then promptly changed the subject. "Bloody hell, I'll need a new suit by Saturday, my old one's a ruin."

Judging by Posner's measuring look, he didn't quite succeed, but they both went on pretending all the same. Fucking Bentley, Scripps thought savagely, he'd probably laugh to hear it.


October 1984

"Here's a laugh, Stu," Bentley said, lounging back in his barstool as only he could. His eyes gleamed with mirth. "I'm in tutorial with that spaniel of yours, what's-his-name, the little fey one you were at school with."

"Posner," Scripps supplied automatically, before Dakin had the chance. "David Posner, you mean."

Bentley glanced from him to Dakin. "Posner, that's the one," he agreed. "Sweet little thing, in his own way."

"Yeah, Pos is all right," Dakin said carelessly. "He's been hung up on me for ages."

Not anymore, you twat, Scripps thought, not without affection. Dakin hardly ever spent much time with Posner these days; but even if he did, he'd hardly have noticed. Dakin always assumed everyone was more than half in love with him. Thing was, though, he was usually right.

And Posner only ever moved on to new Dakins, anyway. Scripps was getting rather tired of it.

"I'm surprised you never gave him a go, Stu," Bentley said with a leer. "He's a bit of all right, and he's definitely up for it."

Dakin laughed. "You know I'm straight, Roger."

Scripps snorted into his ale. Though in fairness to Dakin, the non-incident with Irwin had been his sole flirtation with homosexuality. At least as far as Scripps knew.

"I know you're something, all right," Bentley said, more shrewdly than Scripps would've expected. "Anyway, ickle Posner's practically gagging for a shag, and if you won't do the poor boy a favor, I might just have to take the matter into my own hands. So to speak."

"He wouldn't know what to do with himself even if you did offer," Dakin said airily. "He'd probably stumble all over the place and then come in twenty seconds flat. Much like Scrippsy here, once Jesus permits it."

Scripps just laughed. "I should hardly think so," he said. "I've learned a thing or two about patience in the meanwhile, you realize."

"God," Bentley said, eyeing him with some mixture of awe and horror. "I'd die, I really would. Speaking of which, that ginger bloke over there's having a look in, and he's got fantastic arms. I'm off, lads." And he went, leaving Scripps and Dakin shaking their heads over their beer.

"A man after your own heart, I should think," Scripps remarked. "I've seen you hare after girls like that a time or two myself."

"Except I'd never be caught dead in that shirt," Dakin said. "Did you see the fringe? And if I were gay, I like to think I'd have better taste. Posner, really? He's barking mad."


January 1983

With Posner, they'd always known, really, even long before they knew to put a word to it. Lockwood used to feign disgust and bully him around the yard – he'd grown out of that around puberty, fortunately. Akthar was overly kind, as though trying to make up for it, while Crowther always held himself just a little more distant from him. Rudge regarded him as an object of mild bemusement; Dakin of wicked delight, when the mood struck him; and Timms just thought it all a great laugh and never took him seriously. Only Scripps treated him just the same as anyone else.

"I should think you'd be the one uncomfortable with it," Dakin remarked once, somewhere in the midst of studying for their A-levels. "Thought the Bible had some pretty harsh words in that area."

Scripps just shrugged it off. "Jesus never said much about it himself, as far as I know," he said. "And I'd hate to lose Wilde, anyway."

The nameless and abominable colour of his hair, as Housman had obliquely referred to it – and who was Scripps to condemn anyone for that?

Really, though, he never thought much about it, not in those terms. It's just that one day he'd put queer and Posner together in his head; and after that, all the rot he'd heard about poofters stopped making sense, because it had nothing to do with Posner, and that was that.


October 1984

"The bluest eyes you've ever seen," Posner sighed. "They're unreal, Scripps, you've no idea. They're so blue they're almost black."

They were in the library, but this wasn't turning out to be much of a study session. Scripps glanced up from his notes. One hundred and thirty-seven pages of reading assigned on England's misadventures with its American colonies; it really ought to make for decent entertainment, but the text was fucking impenetrable. "Do us a favor, Pos," he said. "Stick to the history. I don't want to think of the horrors you'd unleash as a poet."

Posner stuck out his tongue. "Anyway, he's in my tutorial, and he's a real treat at eight in the morning," he went on tartly. "It's the only thing that gets me out of bed Tuesdays, honestly."

Scripps felt an odd sinking sensation in his gut, a sort of foreboding. A premonition of doom and destruction, like. "Not Roger Bentley?"

"You know him?" Posner said delightedly.

"He's a friend of Dakin's, that's all," Scripps said. "I've only met him once or twice, but it's clear enough they're too much alike."

"Suits me well enough, I should think," Posner remarked with a shrug, and that was that.

Or at least it should have been, but of course they actually were living in the middle of a French farce or something of that sort, because who turned up right then but the man himself.

"Hullo there, Scripps," Bentley said cheerfully, dropping an impressive stack of books down onto the bench beside them. "Rather like a tomb in here, innit? An ode to dead writers and lost causes. We must do something about that. Dakin about?"

"Dakin's still in recovery from last night," Scripps replied, rolling his eyes. "I'm surprised you're so chipper."

Bentley grinned. "Well, I'm a bit sore, but that's only to be expected," he confided, eyes glittering. "His arms were to die for, though. There's much to be said for upper-body strength. You'll learn one day. And hullo to you too," he said, abruptly shifting gears, turning the full force of his charm across the table to Posner. "Posner, isn't it?"

Posner looked painfully pleased to be remembered. "Yes, that's right," he said, smiling awkwardly. "I'm in your tutorial. You're Roger Bentley."

"I'd figured that out for myself," Bentley said with a smirk. "The Napoleonic Wars. We must study together at some point, Posner. The Napoleonic complex, and all that – it's fascinating. Small man trying to show the world just how big he really is. Course, those of us who are big rarely feel the need to show it off." He winked, and Posner flushed scarlet.

Scripps thought it all rather overplayed himself, but Bentley was hardly one for subtlety. "Napoleon changes the course of European history for the next hundred-odd years, but of course that's the only part you pick up on," he remarked dryly. "Y'know, I've got actual studying to do."

Bentley eyed Scripps's notes with some distaste. "The American colonies, I see. What, like you don't know it backwards and forwards already? George III was mad, the colonists got ticked off and kicked our collective arses. Not that I mind a good slap to the arse every now and then, you understand," he added, mostly for Posner's benefit.

"My God, Bentley, you can't leave off for five minutes, can you?" Scripps said, exasperated, before Posner had a chance to respond.

"Don't be such a prig, Scripps," Posner said unexpectedly. He gathered up his books primly, eyes on Bentley all the while. "Besides, it's getting a bit stuffy in here."

Bentley glanced from Scripps to Posner and back again, a disconcertingly thoughtful look in his eyes. Scripps felt oddly uncomfortable, as though Bentley were examining something he himself wasn't aware existed. "I'm on my way out as well," Bentley said with a small smile. "Shall we?"

"Let's," Posner said airily, without even glancing back at Scripps. "See you later, Scrippsy." And they were off.

Scripps's journal entry that day was particularly concise and to the point: fucking hell, underlined twice, with no further explanation.


November 1987

Scripps phoned Dakin later that evening. "Roger Bentley's dead," he said. "Had you heard?"

"No, I hadn't," Dakin replied. There was a pause. "Shit, I haven't even thought of him in ages. What did him in?"

"AIDS." And this time the silence stretched between them for much longer.

"Shit," Dakin finally said again. "Well, that was Roger, wasn't it?"

"It's just," Scripps said all at once, "he could've had it for years, you know? And he'd not have known. None of us would've. He could've had it when we were at Oxford."

"Could've," Dakin said, not sounding nearly as concerned as Scripps thought he ought. A full day Posner knew about it, and he didn't tell me, he wanted to say. But Dakin probably wouldn't understand – that Posner hadn't been willing to mention Bentley's fate until he knew he wouldn't share it. And what if Posner had turned out positive? Fuck.

"But it's not like you've anything to worry about," Dakin was saying. "Still a monk, aren't you?"

He wasn't, as Dakin probably should've remembered. There'd been one girl, Romey, his last year at university. But that hadn't lasted long, and as for the sex, honestly, he wasn't sure what all the fuss was about. Irrelevantly, he wondered what she was up to these days. And that wasn't the point! "Yeah," was all he said. "More or less."

"So," Dakin said, as though that was all that mattered. Stupid, careless sod. "When's the funeral, then?"

"Saturday, over in West Brompton. You coming?"

"Nah, can't. I'm tied up all weekend. Anyway, I hardly knew him, just had a few pints together every now and then."

Dakin and Bentley had been thick as thieves for a couple of terms; Scripps wondered if Dakin would even be bothered to come to his funeral, if that's all Bentley warranted. Would he have gone to Posner's? "I'm going," he said pointedly.

"Thought you didn't even like him," Dakin remarked. Scripps just knew he was arching his eyebrow at the phone. "It's not like he'd have come to yours."

"Doesn't matter," Scripps said, and it really didn't – things sinister with things sublime alike dissolving. He doubted Dakin would appreciate the sentiment. "Anyway, Posner wants to go."

"That's right, you're flatmates now." As if this were some new development, as if they hadn't gone in together for a flat straight out of Oxford, drawn down to London like so many bright young lads before them. Dakin, of course, had his own place from the start; well, he could afford it these days, couldn't he? "You know what," Dakin went on, "let's all go out for a pint or something next week, for old time's sake. I'll ring up Lockwood, too, I heard he's in town on leave."

"Yeah," Scripps said, surprised at Dakin's uncharacteristic burst of nostalgia. "All right."


August 1983

There was no barring accidents, Rudge had said once, and he was right. Sometimes, stuff just happened.

"It's not entirely true, though," Scripps mused, late one night at the pub, a week or so before they all left Sheffield to start university. "It's never purely random, is it? Everything has cause and effect."

Lockwood nodded with all the solemnity imbued by a great deal of alcohol. "Like the butterfly," he said in portentous tones.

"The which now?" Crowther asked blearily.

Posner rolled his eyes. "The butterfly that flaps its wings and causes a hurricane halfway around the world."

"I'll flap your wings," Timms might have mumbled, but it was hard to be sure, what with his face firmly planted in the table. They all ignored him.

"Like the butterfly," Scripps agreed, more than half gone himself. "Thing is, though, all we see is the hurricane. The big things, the end results. And we call it an accident only 'cause we missed the butterfly."

"Isn't that the historian's job, then?" Posner remarked. "To deduce the cause out of the result? To put together the fragments of incidents that eventually coalesced into the great Happening?"

"Like Sherlock Holmes, that," Crowther suggested. "Like, with the candle wax and the hat brim and the half shilling, and voila! It was the butler all along. Except, you know, voila, the French Revolution instead."

"We are the great detectives of history," Lockwood agreed, rather awed. "Of Stuff Happening."

Scripps sighed. He wasn't entirely sure what his original point had been, but he thought they'd gotten off track somehow. "Right, sure," he said, exchanging a look with Posner, who grinned and shrugged in commiseration.

He leaned back in his chair and let the conversation flow on around him, Lockwood and Crowther engaging in ever grander flights of fancy while Timms snored into the table and Posner kept glancing longingly over at the bar, where Dakin was enacting some bizarre ritual with Rudge and Akthar that seemed to involve a lot of punching punctuated by occasional shots of alcohol. Dakin threw his head back in a laugh and Posner sighed almost inaudibly and Scripps just watched, thinking about how stuff happens and the tides of history coalescing around them – but they wouldn't know which fragments were important until long after, when they might look back and realize yes, that moment, then.


November 1984

"It's a torment, you've no idea," Posner moaned, flopping across Scripps's bed as though it was his room. This was usually a bad sign for Scripps; probably there would be poetry. If he was really unlucky, Emily Dickinson.

He closed his notebook warily mid-journal entry. It would hold – just the usual dithering over history and Oxford and life in general. Honestly, he was getting rather fed up with himself. "No, I haven't, but I'm fairly sure you're about to enlighten me."

"Roger Bentley," Posner sighed dramatically. "I swear to God, I'm doomed to have blue balls for my entire fucking life."

"He flirts with you all the time," Scripps pointed out. "I should think you'd be thrilled."

Posner jumped to his feet, flailing his arms alarmingly. Scripps feared for the safety of his nightstand. "He flirts!" Posner half-shouted. "Whenever I run across him in the halls he's bumping up against me, or winking at me over the table at tutorials. But that's it! He's absolutely shameless, he's got me eating out of his fucking hand, but God forbid he ever actually touch me! Scripps, I am so, so pathetic." And he looked it, so completely deflated that Scripps felt an odd urge to – hug him, or something, give him a manly pat on the back or whatever blokes were supposed to do under such circumstances. Scripps hadn't the faintest idea how to go about it, though.

"So he's a complete cocktease, is what you're saying," he finally said. "But you knew that going in, Pos. Why d'you let him get to you like this?"

Posner shook his head in exasperation, as though Scripps were a complete idiot. "Because I love him, Scripps, why don't you ever understand that part of it? That fish, that is not catch'd thereby, alas, is wiser far than I."

Scripps winced. He tentatively reached out to touch Posner's shoulder, then changed his mind and pulled back. "I sometimes wonder if you actually know what love is," he said, not unkindly. Not that he himself had it all figured out, but love was something to aspire toward, something beautiful and warm, something worth writing poetry about. It couldn't be this, it just couldn't be. What would be the point? "He's not worth it, Posner, really he's not."

Posner glared at him, going from self-pity to righteous indignation in five seconds flat. "I don't need a bloody nursemaid, thank you very much," he snapped. "I can handle myself well enough."

Scripps remembered Dakin's remarks at the pub weeks ago, his casual dismissal. "And if you ever did get him, or any of your Dakins, would you even know what to do with him?"

"Oh, and I suppose you know so much about it!" Posner shot back. "When's the last time you ever did anything about anyone?"

"That's neither here nor there," Scripps said uncertainly. It occurred to him that he and Posner had never had a genuine argument before – a real one, not just bickering over finer points of Charles II's foreign policy or where to go for lunch. He thought maybe they'd gotten into a bit of a scrap over a toy once in infant school. Point being, this conversation was abruptly and unexpectedly verging upon a fight, and he hadn't the faintest idea what to do about it.

"It is, though," Posner was saying furiously. "You and your fucking notebook, sitting back and observing and fancying yourself so fucking wise, but you don't know the first thing about it because you've never done anything!"

"What, and you have?" Scripps said, stung. "Mooning about like a child, moping over this boy or that one? Or d'you mean when you look the fool, serenading Dakin like that one time, or the scene in the pub with what's-his-name, the complete tosser, Dakin the Third or thereabouts—"

"At least I'm doing something," Posner spat. "At least I'm not afraid to show I'm not made of stone, that I care about something or someone outside the pages of some moldering old book! There are things worth looking a fool for!"

Scripps thought of Bentley and Dakin, having a laugh at Posner's expense. "You're a joke to them, Pos."

Something in Posner's expression shifted, going dark, like a room with the door suddenly slammed shut. He turned away, staring down at the mess of books scattered across Scripps's desk. "Is that all you think of me, Scripps?" His voice was low and bitter. "A joke?"

Scripps gaped at him, voiceless. How could he even think it? He just wanted to warn Posner against the Dakins and Bentleys of the world, to help him – but he didn't know how to explain it in a way that wouldn't just make Posner angry all over again.

With a disgusted sigh, Posner grabbed his bag and moved toward the door, brushing past Scripps as he went.

Forced out of inaction, Scripps managed to grab Posner's wrist. "No, wait, Posner, you know I don't—"

Posner looked back at him, and there was something in his eyes Scripps had never seen before, something he couldn't put words to, dark and intense and strange. The feel of Posner's skin under his touch was suddenly entirely different, making his fingertips tingle at the contact. It was difficult to breathe. He was sure he was supposed to do something – do anything – but what?

Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis, he thought, but of course he didn't. Fucking Eliot.

He hesitated too long, and the moment, whatever it was, was gone. "I know what I'm about, anyway," Posner said, jerking away defiantly; Scripps let go of his wrist as though burned. "I'm not sixteen anymore. And I'll have this one, just see if I don't."

And he was gone, leaving Scripps mute and at a complete loss in his wake.


April 1993

They buried Lockwood on a Sunday in April. Not Easter, thankfully; Scripps wasn't sure he could've handle that particular dichotomy. Bad enough that the weather was incongruously lovely, one of those glorious spring days that makes the long, dark, wet winter almost worth living through. The sun shone brightly, the clouds were puffs of pure white against an azure sky, the air was warm, and Lockwood was being laid under six feet of dark soil.

Scripps had long since given up the childish belief that God was in any way concerned with fairness. Merciful, often; just, always. Fair, not so much – at least, not by men's overly subjective definition of the word.

Lockwood died because the army had paid his way through Cambridge. Bentley died because he genuinely enjoyed sex. Neither was more or less fair than the other, in Scripps's opinion. He supposed that made him rather less conservative than his church might prefer. As though that were the only such indication, he thought wryly, and reached out for Posner's hand.

The surviving seven went out together for drinks afterward. No one said anything of much importance. Dakin left early, after pulling a girl with short, sandy brown hair and twinkling blue eyes, and everyone else refrained from mentioning Irwin's unexpected attendance at the funeral.

"Do you remember—" Akthar started once, then cut himself off, looking down into his empty glass.

Yes, Scripps wanted to say. Yes, everything.

Posner glanced over at him, and smiled sadly, as if to say here we are again. Well, and so they were. Scripps wished this could be the last of the funerals, but really, he knew better than to expect that. The last for a while, anyway, he could hope.

"It just doesn't make sense," Timms finally burst out, uncharacteristically serious. "I mean, friendly fire? We're not even at war!"

Crowther shrugged. "Since when did it ever have to make sense?" he pointed out bluntly, in his typical no-nonsense fashion. "Stuff happens."

"Stuff happens," Posner echoed. "And there is no time to ask – he knows not what."

They pondered it in silence, half-remembered verses from Hector's class ten years gone and more, young soldiers and old teachers long since laid reverently under the earth.

And maybe that's how we remind ourselves we're still alive, Scripps thought. He nudged Posner gently, felt Posner bump his shoulder back in affection. Yes, still alive.

"I still say Owen was a wuss," Rudge said finally, and they laid it to rest.


November 1987

It wasn't much of anything, really, the moment in which it finally came together properly for Scripps. They were in the chapel for Bentley's memorial service, one of the dreariest examples of public speaking in Scripps's memory, right up there along with Felix's awful speech about Hector nearly five years earlier. Scripps wondered if there was something about death that brought out the worst in a person's capacity for expression – but the great poets had been quite fond of the subject, so probably it was simple bad luck that made the two funerals of Scripps's experience so singularly ineloquent.

Afterward, he couldn't for the life of him recall what exactly it was that prompted Posner's reaction, just that he felt Posner stiffen beside him and heard the sharp, sudden exhale of breath. "Fuck," Posner muttered, voice low and rough, his eyes fixed upon the casket at the front of the church, "that could've been me."

Scripps glanced sidelong at him, saw his friend's pale, intent face, all sharp edges and familiar contours, and suddenly all that inexplicable antipathy toward Bentley and evenings spent over the piano and years of watching Posner watch Dakin abruptly crystallized into something he'd never even considered before but knew all at once: so there's the butterfly.

"It could've been," Scripps said quietly, "but it isn't" – leaving the and it won't be unspoken but nudging Posner gently, shoulder to shoulder, hoping to finish the phrase simply with his own solid presence pressed warm against Posner's side.

And to hell with all the Dakins, anyway.


January 1985

In the end, it took until Hilary term, just after the Christmas hols. They were a large group at the pub that night, representatives of several different colleges, and it wasn't until he was watching Dakin pull the girl from Exeter with the prodigious bosom that Scripps had turned to Posner to make a joke about it and realized Posner wasn't there. In fact, Posner was up at the bar, laughing at something Roger Bentley had said; and as Scripps looked on in surprise, Bentley grinned wickedly and leaned in, lips close to Posner's ear, and murmured something that made Posner turn abruptly serious, eyes intent on Bentley's face so near his own.

Scripps turned away quickly, feeling flushed and uncomfortable for no reason he could name. He finished his ale in one long gulp, and when he looked back at the bar, Posner and Bentley were both gone.

It was three days before he ran into Posner again, and in the meantime he started and tore out five separate journal entries on the subject before giving up entirely; tried to teach himself a sonata on the piano and wound up distractedly plunking out Cole fucking Porter, of course, mere alcohol doesn't thrill me at all and then abandoned the effort in disgust; and read four treatises on the history of Puritanism for class, of which he couldn't recall a single word. Dakin the Fifth, Bentley was; but Posner had never managed to pull a Dakin before. Suppose that meant Bentley wasn't one of a long line of Dakins, but something else entirely?

And so what if? he reminded himself firmly. What difference did it make to him, anyway? Good for Posner, it was about time.

He passed Bentley in the library once, and was favored with a smirk and a sardonic wave. He managed to track Posner down in a music room later that afternoon.

"All right, let's have it, then," Scripps said, dropping his books on the piano bench with a dull thud. "Fifth time's the charm, I suppose?"

Posner jutted his chin out defiantly, eyes blazing. "I fucked him," he said baldly. "Or rather he fucked me, if we're being technical."

"Right," Scripps said, for lack of any better response. "So was it everything you'd ever dreamed of? Was there a choir of angels? I've been wondering on that point myself."

Posner's lips twisted in something vaguely resembling a smile. "Hardly. But it was fantastic all the same, you know, excepting the parts that were a bit painful or awkward. But that's only to be expected, I suppose." He paused, wrinkling his nose. "Also rather messy."

Scripps laughed in spite of himself. "Well, the deed's done, at least. So now what?"

Posner's face fell. He fidgeted with his sheets of music. "Now nothing, I suppose. It's not like he's my boyfriend or anything."

"No, I shouldn't expect Bentley to be that sort," Scripps murmured. He felt a sudden rush of antipathy toward Bentley, mingled with a relief he couldn't explain. "Still and all, it was a shag, yeah? You got what you wanted in the end."

"Yes, I got what I wanted," Posner said hollowly. He looked up into Scripps's face for a moment, eyes bright with some unreadable emotion, as if searching for something – but Scripps didn't know what to offer him. So he turned back to his music with a sigh. "Bully for me."


November 1987

And the beauty of it was that it was all so simple. Really, if Scripps hadn't known for a fact that he'd graduated from Oxford University, he might be inclined to think himself a right fool.

They didn't really know anyone else at Bentley's funeral, so there was no reason to hang about afterward. Posner didn't say a word as they got on the bus back to their flat, and Scripps let him be. His mind was racing with possibilities. And I'm not writing a word of it down, he informed the little voice in the back of his head that had always sounded rather like Dakin. This time, something was actually going to happen, for better or worse. And it was up to him, Scripps knew; he couldn't sit about waiting for Posner to start it, because Posner already had, more than once, and Scripps – Scripps had just let it pass, unheeded.

He sent up a silent apology to God for being such a blithering idiot for so long.

"Well, that was horrid," Posner finally said, as the bus turned up toward their street.

Scripps laughed. "It was, wasn't it? Poor Bentley would've hated it, it hardly had anything to do with him at all."

Posner quirked his lips, almost a smile. "I think the pastor threw his name out there a time or two. It's a pity Dakin wasn't there," he added wryly, "he'd have had some choice words to say about it."

With a long-suffering sigh, Scripps remarked, "And it's back to Dakin again, is it?"

"Of course not," Posner retorted sharply. "I just thought it'd be a good laugh, that's all."

"I know," Scripps said affably. "It would be."

"It's not all about Dakin anymore," Posner went on in a rush, not meeting Scripps's eyes. "It's not been about Dakin in a long while. Any of the Dakins."

"I know," Scripps said again, gently – and, really, he did, at last. And something in his tone must have given the game away, because Posner's head jerked up, his eyes finding Scripps's face uncertainly. The naked emotion on his face made Scripps's heart clench. But then, Posner had always been the brave one, laying himself bare to anyone who looked for it, setting himself up for disappointment time and time again, letting his heart be broken by Dakin after Dakin.

But Scripps was no Dakin, and envy the bastard though he sometimes might, it occurred to him that actually, it was better this way.

"Pos," Scripps said softly – and then the bus pulled up to their stop, jolting the moment away.

Their flat was a second story walk-up; somehow, they made it up the stairs without speaking, jostling each other and bumping shoulders. At the door, Scripps fumbled the key, but Posner was there with his; once inside, Scripps hardly had the chance to kick the door shut again before Posner was on him, shoving him up against the wall with a strength belied by his skinny frame.

For a moment there, Posner hesitated, eyes wide and searching, mouth scant inches away from Scripps's own. Scripps could feel the grubby wall pressed up against his back, Posner's hands clutching at his arms, his new suit already in disarray. He could smell Posner's faint cologne, feel Posner's breath warm against his lips. And he knew that Posner was pausing here to give him one last chance to pull away, to put a stop to all this nonsense once and for all.

Fuck it.

Scripps leaned in, closing the gap between them, and pressed his lips firmly against Posner's.

That was all it took, that faint pressure; the dam burst. Posner opened his mouth to deepen the kiss, tongue darting out to taste Scripps's, and then they were grasping each other fiercely, wildly, kissing as if they'd never stop.

Scripps was overwhelmed by sheer sensation, more aware of every inch of his skin than ever before. It was like being hit with a jolt of electricity, his nerves singing with it. He couldn't get enough of Posner's taste on his lips, Posner's hands clutching at him, the feel of Posner's skin under his fingertips. License my roving hands, and let them go, behind, before, above, between, below, he thought dazedly; there was far too much clothing in the way, but that was soon seen to, pressed suit jackets and starched shirts discarded heedlessly, impatiently. At some point, he'd need to remember to breathe, but that was a vague, distant possibility.

"All those fucking years," Posner gasped out between kisses, "what the fuck were you waiting for?"

"I didn't realize," Scripps admitted, then smirked. "Best make up for lost time, then."

"Bastard," Posner muttered, nipping at Scripps's lower lip, and promptly stuck his hand down Scripps's trousers.

Scripps laughed, reckless and free.


January 1986

Posner's breakdown happened the summer between their second and third years at Oxford. He was out of the hospital in less than a month, but his parents and doctors convinced him to stay home for that Michaelmas term all the same. When he came back up for classes after the Christmas hols, Scripps wasn't sure how to react. He felt like he was walking on eggshells around Posner for weeks.

"Calm down, Don," Romey, his first real girlfriend, said. "He's all right now, it's fine."

They'd been together about two months at that point, so she hadn't been around for the incident itself – for the day of uncertain phone calls between the Sheffield gang, the varied and confusing reports of what exactly a "breakdown" constituted, the has-anyone-actually-spoken-with-his-parents-yets. And then the fallout afterwards, the awkward hospital visits and Posner looking so fucking embarrassed all the time, insisting he was fine and that it was all nonsense when Scripps could see an emptiness behind his eyes that had never been there before – or had it always, and he'd just never noticed? Depression, they wound up calling it, for lack of a better term. Anxiety disorder. Cold, clinical terms that had nothing to do with Posner, except apparently they did now.

Romey was a sweet girl, but she'd never known Posner before. She couldn't see the difference. Scripps could.

"It's like there's a part of him missing," Scripps insisted. "It's like – he's back, but he's not back, you know?" He sighed. "No, you don't know."

"I know he probably just wants to be treated like normal," she remarked. "I know I would. He had a rough patch, but you don't need to keep reminding him of it all the time. I thought you were his best friend."

Best friend, Scripps thought, thoroughly disgusted with himself. "Some friend," he muttered. "I never even saw it coming. How could I not have seen it coming?"

"Neither did he," Romey pointed out.

And then – "What d'you think you should've seen?" Dakin asked, when they got together for lunch. "He just snapped. It happens."

"Like you know anything about it," Scripps replied wearily, without rancor. "You were never around, not for Posner. You don't give a toss."

"I care," Dakin said, not particularly convincingly. "I mean, I've known him for ages and I like him well enough, and it's really shit that this happened to him. But…stuff happens," he remarked, with surprising bitterness. "It always has."

And for once, he looked serious about it, oddly withdrawn, a crack in his usual façade, and Scripps wondered how many other things were simmering under the surfaces, the fault lines running between them all that were never acknowledged, never brought to light.

Surely some of it must be good, Scripps hoped, because otherwise he would be fucking depressed all the time. Was that what happened to Posner?

"Give it a rest," Posner himself finally snapped. "I'm not going to break, you know."

Scripps hesitated, then went ahead and said it anyway. "You already did, though."

Posner's face shifted; he looked sympathetic, though, not angry, as Scripps had half expected. "I know," Posner said, oddly gentle. "But not because of you."


November 1987

Afterwards, Posner did ask, "It's not just because of the funeral, is it? A pity fuck?"

"No, of course not," Scripps replied, not taking offense. This was Posner, after all; there was nothing so good he couldn't second guess it. "It just happened to – sort out my priorities a bit, I guess you could say."

"Yes," Posner said, getting that withdrawn expression in his eyes. Scripps reached out and silently twined their fingers together. "The thing with Bentley – getting myself tested – it's all a bit of a jolt. It reminds you that you're only mortal."

"Mortal, guilty, but to me the entirely beautiful," Scripps quoted softly.

Posner smiled, almost in spite of himself. "You enormous poofter."

"For you, anyway," Scripps said dryly, "I suppose I must be."

They lay together in silence for a while, looking inward. At last Posner shook himself out of it with a sigh. "All right, then," he said, tilting his head up for another kiss, "prove to me we're both still alive."

And Scripps did.

Quotations taken from AE Housman, Thomas Hardy, Wilfred Owen, John Donne, Cole Porter, WH Auden.

Date: 2008-08-08 02:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mclachlan.livejournal.com
That was utterly fantastic.

Date: 2008-08-08 03:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2008-08-08 04:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marycontraire.livejournal.com
LOVE THIS. It's been ages since I read a good Scripps/Posner. Those boys really get under my skin.

Date: 2008-08-08 11:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thanks so much! And yes, they do, so much. :)

Date: 2008-08-08 04:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] orangecrackers.livejournal.com
I'm embarrassingly inarticulate right now. This is the first time I've read a long History Boys fic and... just... it's beautiful.

Date: 2008-08-08 11:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm glad it worked for you.

Date: 2008-08-08 04:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] geministargrl16.livejournal.com
Oh that was amazing. I loved the back and forth with the times. These boys are utterly amazing when done right and you definitely did them justice. Thank you for making my night!

Date: 2008-08-08 11:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

Date: 2008-08-08 07:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kath-synecdoche.livejournal.com
Umm... YES.

Brilliant. Very. Brilliant.

Date: 2008-08-08 11:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2008-08-08 09:09 am (UTC)

Date: 2008-08-08 11:40 pm (UTC)

Date: 2008-08-08 09:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowcobweb.livejournal.com
Jesus, Mary and Joseph.


Date: 2008-08-08 11:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2008-08-08 09:32 pm (UTC)
lorax: A Stack of Books (HP:  Sirius - "Padfoot")
From: [personal profile] lorax
That was really lovely and utterly well-done and worked for me for all of the characters. I particularly loved that they called them by numbers - Dakin 3, Dakin 5. It seemed very Scripps to me.

Date: 2008-08-08 11:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

Date: 2008-08-08 10:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fiercynn.livejournal.com
YAYYYY. I love what you did with Posner's breakdown. And just, ha, yes, it's gorgeous.

Date: 2008-08-08 11:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Oh, good, I'm glad the changes helped. And again, thanks so much for the splendiferous beta. :)

Date: 2008-08-09 02:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cstal.livejournal.com
Nice work, there! I love your choice of title ((: Momento Mori: Remember you must die goes SO well with the um, seed (for want of a better word) of the story: Bentley's death, but at the same time I absolutely love how you've tied it to their treasuring of life because of the death that they see. Which is essentially what that motto was for. And ALSO (again) I like the structure of it all, how you've chosen to end a story titled "Momento Mori" on an endnote of life and more importantly, being alive. And, and of course its very charming, what you've done with the dialogue and numbering the Dakins (:

(and shouldn't I get round to getting an icon?)

Date: 2008-08-09 08:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thanks! I'm so glad it worked for you. :)

Date: 2008-08-10 05:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sheldrake.livejournal.com
Scripps and Posner are my favourite - this is lovely. :)

Date: 2008-08-10 06:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Mine too. :) Thank you!

Date: 2008-08-14 10:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bellesreves.livejournal.com
This is great! I particularly like the way you told the story, jumping from one important time to another and then back again. You did it without getting confusing, and in fact you made it much more poignant with the way you arranged it.

Lockwood used to feign disgust and bully him around the yard – he'd grown out of that around puberty, fortunately. Akthar was overly kind, as though trying to make up for it, while Crowther always held himself just a little more distant from him. Rudge regarded him as an object of mild bemusement; Dakin of wicked delight, when the mood struck him; and Timms just thought it all a great laugh and never took him seriously. Only Scripps treated him just the same as anyone else.
And I just love these lines, for the way they characterize each boy individually but most importantly how they show the sense of loneliness that has followed Posner for his entire life.

Date: 2008-08-15 03:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm glad it worked for you. :)

Date: 2008-08-16 01:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] skep.livejournal.com
Oh golly, how on earth did I miss this on my flist? It is, quite simply, brilliant. +memmed.

Date: 2008-08-16 02:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2008-08-31 02:39 am (UTC)
ext_1619: (Default)
From: [identity profile] melloniel.livejournal.com
God, I don't even know where to START with this. It was utterly lovely, from start to finish. <3

Date: 2008-08-31 05:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2008-09-02 08:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] drawingblinds.livejournal.com
I loved this fic! Several reasons, one of which being your quotations. I really like things that fit in with the spirit of the play, and I feel like a shit ton of quoting is part of that whole experience. XD

I also really like the time devices, you've made it perfectly possible to follow the story even though chronologically it's not in order, which is a sign of successful usage I think.

I also love how Scripps just doesn't get it. XD I think you have the characters right on. Please keep writing for this fandom!

Date: 2008-09-03 12:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thanks! I'm glad it worked for you. :)

Date: 2008-09-06 06:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jackie-oh.livejournal.com
I'm a month late, but I happened to stumble across this in a desperate search. This was amazing. Truly. Your characterization is spot on. I just loved your Posner, how he constantly sets himself up for disappointment. I also enjoyed your style of writing with lots of clauses at the beginnings or ends of sentences. That was a nice touch.

I am anxiously awaiting more form you!

Date: 2008-09-06 06:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

Date: 2008-10-08 11:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elixer-of-life.livejournal.com

That was just...


Date: 2008-10-09 12:52 am (UTC)

Date: 2008-11-09 10:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elegia.livejournal.com
This is elegant and beautiful. And Scripps' characterisation is perfect. Thank you!

Date: 2008-11-09 10:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thanks! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

Date: 2008-11-12 01:17 pm (UTC)
ext_18115: (Default)
From: [identity profile] skyearth85.livejournal.com
wow, really great *add to favorites*

Date: 2008-11-12 02:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2008-11-15 09:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] villainny.livejournal.com
Wonderful, beautiful, and I shall be reading it repeatedly. Thank you.

Date: 2008-11-15 05:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2009-01-03 01:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mowglimoonshado.livejournal.com
Read your Yuletide fic(which was brilliant, btw) and just had to read more of your work! I loved this, the pacing and time skips flowed together really beautifully.

Date: 2009-01-03 02:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thank you! :D

Date: 2009-03-22 05:10 am (UTC)
ext_14719: (Default)
From: [identity profile] clayeer.livejournal.com
This was absolutely lovely. Scribbs was perfect and that tiny glimpse of Lockwood's funeral seemed even sweeter when I read it again.

Date: 2009-03-23 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

Date: 2009-04-04 07:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] artemis-sparks.livejournal.com
Phenomenal. Just excellent. Felt like an extension of the play/film. I could hear the lines in their voice, which almost never happens. Excellent.

Date: 2009-04-04 03:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaydeefalls.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.


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