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Our Father, Who Art in Heaven...

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“That's the beauty of the Bible, ladies and gentlemen, we don't need to interpret the word of God, because it's all right here.” It was the booming voice of a pastor on a Sunday morning, ringing through the church halls, his words bouncing off the stained glass windows and falling on the ears of the people. The sanctuary resembled an arena with rows upon rows of folding chairs circling a stage, which held the preacher. “It says, right in Leviticus 18:22 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind , as with woman kind; it [is] abomination.' It doesn't get much more simple than that.” Somewhere located in a middle row, just to the left of the preacher, sat a family of four, two young boys an their parents. The oldest boy, now a teenager with tousled brown hair and a rosary around his neck, kept his eyes locked on the preacher, engulfed in the sermon.

 

“We don't need to figure for ourselves that women are inferior to men,” He continued, now pacing around the stage and holding his microphone closer to his chest. “It says right in the Bible. Ephesians, 5:22; 'Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.' Now let me ask you, people,” He stopped pacing, now making direct eye contact at the audience. For a moment, he locked eyes with the boy with the rosary, and as the he spoke, it was as if he were talking directly to the boy. “How exactly does one submit if there are two husbands? Or two wives?” He chuckled, his large belly shaking “With two women in the household, there wouldn't be any income. They would just spend all day cleaning and shoe shopping.” The audience laughed, something weak that sounded more like a pity chuckle than anything else. “But with two husbands, well, there'd be no one to clean or cook. Men don't fair well in the home all day. So wouldn't you agree that it's just better for marriage to stay between a man and a woman?” There was a holler from the crowd, whoops of “praise” and “Amen.” Almost as if in a trance, the boy with the rosary clapped along.

 

Within an hour, service was over and people began to file out of the sanctuary. Left alone was the pastor, who was gathering his things, and the boy, who was still transfixed. There was silence for a moment as one didn't notice the other. Finally, the old man looked up, locking eyes with the boy.

 

“Do you need something, child?” He asked and they boy nodded, finally standing up from his seat.

 

“Yes sir, I just wanted to tell you how wonderful your sermon was today, sir.” He said, timidly. The preacher smiled.

 

“It's nice to see young people take an interest in their faith,” He beckoned for the boy to join him up on the stage. The boy complied. Once up, the pastor looked him up and down, his expression unreadable. “You seem like a nice, christian boy. Tell me something, do you take your faith seriously?” The boy nodded furiously.

 

“Yes, sir, of course, sir. I pray every night and I go to church every Sunday.” He said. He placed his hand over his rosary, running his thumb over the beads of the necklace. “I also have this.” He said, almost shyly. The preacher glanced at it and smiled.

 

“You know, son, kids these days don't take the lord very seriously. They care more about their rap music and tattoos than God's work. It's people like you who remind me of the good in the world. Now, tell me you name?” The boy beamed, a feeling swelling up in his chest that was almost pride.

 

“Daniel Howell, sir.” He said.

 

“Well Daniel Howell, promise me this,” He paused as Dan's eyes widened. “Promise me that you'll keep God in your heart for as long as you live. Don't let the devil tempt you with his mischievous ways.” Dan nodded.

 

“I won't, sir.”

 

 

* * *

 

That Monday was the start of school, a strange and scary time for a sixteen year old. For most of his life, Dan Howell had been home schooled. His parents thought that as a young child he wouldn't be able to refuse the Devil's temptation, but now, having proven himself a good, Christian boy, they had faith in him and God. So he was off to secondary school, his first time ever to learn in a classroom environment. It was still warm, being just the very beginnings of September, and unusually sunny for Great Britain. In the classroom, just before the bell's first ring, there were teenagers strewn across chairs, talking and laughing and being rather noisy. Dan scanned the room, gripping the strap of he messenger bag tighter. He found an empty seat, finally. It was placed near the back of the classroom, just opposite of the window. He sat down without a word. The bell rang after another minute or so and in strode the teacher, a young looking woman with brown hair and brown eyes. She wasn't particularly pretty, with a large nose and small, beady eyes, but there was something captivating about her appearance.

 

She introduced herself as “Mrs. Wilkinson” and began talking, mentioning the school, her class, what they would cover over the year, ect. Ect. Some where around the middle of her boring back to school lecture, another boy walked into the class.

 

“Lester,” She said, not bothering to look up at him. “You're late. As per usual.” She stared at him, her expression more bored than annoyed. The boy shrugged and ran a hand through his dyed black hair. He had two metal studs on his bottom lip and a silver ring going through his nose. His arms were decorated with tattoos, pictures of lions and snake-like creatures that Dan didn't recognize.

 

“Sorry.” He said, some how managing to sound even more disinterested than the teacher. She sighed and rolled her eyes, turning away from him once again.

 

“Just take your seat, Philip.” Phil smirked and strode over to the back of the class, locking eyes with Dan who let out a silent prayer that the boy wouldn't pick the empty seat next to him. Unfortunately, God was not on his side that day.

 

Up close, he was even more intimidating. Along with the metal on his face, his ears were stretched just far enough to fit in a pencil, which made Dan uneasy. His eyes, although not looking at the other, were icy and intense. He didn't seem to feel the need to blink as he stayed transfixed on their teacher. They didn't talk at all during class as Dan tried to discretely catch sideways glances at the other boy.

 

He didn't see much of Phil during the rest of the day, only catching glimpses of the boy with the tattoos while wondering the halls to his next classes. He was terrifying, if Dan was being honest. He had only ever interacted with kids his age whilst at church, and they never had piercing or -God forbid- tattoos. It was shocking to see it in real life. Part of him prayed to never encounter the boy again.

 

* * *

 

“How did you like public school?” His mother asked that night. Dan and his father were sitting at the kitchen table, Dan doing homework and his father answering emails. His mother was cooking dinner.

 

“It's different.” Dan said, not looking up from his homework. “They don't do prayers before class or really talk about God or the Bible at all.” His father huffed from the other side of the table, closing the lid of his laptop.

 

“That's the problem with the school system, isn't it?” He asked, looking irritated. Dan nodded and muttered a quiet “mm-hm.”

 

“I just think it's funny is all,” His father continued, his voice raising above normal speaking volume. “They teach about evolution, knowing good and damn well that it conflicts with certain religions, but they can't be bothered to teach kids about God. I'll tell you, most of those kids ought to be saved.”

 

“I actually ran into someone like that today.” Dan said, making his parents stop and stare at him. “He was covered in tattoos and piercings and he came into class late. I have to sit next to him.”

 

“For the rest of the year?” His mother asked shocked. Dan nodded.

 

“It's a test!” His father shouted after a moment of stunned silence. “It's a test from the devil himself, trying to lead our boy into temptation.” His father turned to him, taking Dan's shoulders in his hands and looking at him directly in the eye. “You will not associate yourself with this boy, do you hear me?” Dan stared back, wide-eyed and nodded his head.

 

“Of course not.” He said, making his father's grip on him relax.

 

* * *

 

The first week went by without very much struggle. His classes, although boring and some contradicting to his religious beliefs, were nothing unmanageable and the boy with the piercings didn't bother him at all. He never spoke, actually, which managed to fascinate Dan even more. He would just listen to the lecture intently and copy his notes. Once the bell rang, he'd leave without saying a word. It was good, Dan thought. He would have no trouble with that boy.

 

By the time Sunday morning rolled around and Dan once again found himself sitting in a folding chair in his church's sanctuary, he felt relaxed. He liked church. It was something familiar and comfortable. He listened intently to the sermon, as he always did, hearing his preacher begin to shout and get angry about the immorality of abortion, saying that all life is precious.

 

“I hear arguments from women whenever this topic is brought up,” He said, chubby face beginning to turn red from the yelling. “They like to argue that because of rape or financial instability, they can't have a baby. But here's the thing, my fellow children of God,” He paused, once again looking through the audience and his eyes landing directly on Dan's “Why would the good Lord give precious life to a woman if she doesn't want or can't have it?” There was hollering and a chorus of 'Amen's' from the crowd. “God doesn't make mistakes, ladies and gentlemen. Who are we to take a life?” His voice had risen again, now resonating off the microphone “Who are we to play God?”

 

 

* * *

 

Soon enough, Monday rolled around again, leaving Dan in his first class with the quiet, tattooed boy. He came in early that day, taking his seat next to Dan. He put his feet up on the desk and leaned back, letting his eyelids flutter shut. Dan took a moment to stare at him, his hand reaching up to play with the beaded rosary around his neck.

 

“You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead,” Dan murmured under his breath. “Or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.” He remembered that verse from summer camp, way back when. It was something that, among everything else, had stuck with him.

 

“Leviticus 19:28.” Phil finished, opening his eyes to stare at Dan. For a moment, Dan stared back, transfixed with this boy.

 

“You know the Bible?” He asked, which made the other boy snort and push himself into a full sitting position.

 

“Yeah, I used to be a real God-fearing arsehole, all right.” He said, sliding his legs off the desk. Dan's cheeks dusted red, having never actually hearing such a crude word out loud before.

 

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths,” He started.

 

“But only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Phil finished, scooting his chair closer to Dan. “Ephesians 4:29.” He cocked his head to the side, blue eyes wide and kind and full of something beautiful that Dan couldn't quite put his finger on. He tried to breath, but it all got caught in his throat. For a moment, a sinful, daring thought flashed through his mind; Think of how easy it would be to lean over and kiss him. He quickly winced at his own head, jumping back just bit, just to create a fraction of space between Phil and himself.

 

Now, the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field... He thought, his eyes still focused on Phil's. There was a breath in him, a pent up ball of frustration pressing against his sternum as he searched the eyes of the tattooed boy. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

 

“Why is that in the past tense?” Dan asked finally. “Do you not go to church anymore?” Phil grinned, his tongue poking between his teeth.

 

“I don't believe in God anymore.” He said and Dan felt his heart drop to the pit of his stomach. Dad's right, He thought. This is my test from Lucifer himself.

 

“Why?” He asked, his voice barely above a whisper. Phil rolled his eyes, leaning back on his chair.

 

“Because what kind of God would make me a certain way and then put me in a family that wouldn't accept it? What kind of God would let my parents kick me out because I like kissing boys?” For a moment, Dan's mind went blank. He thought that maybe it was a joke, that this boy -covered in tattoos and rejecting God entirely, was pulling his leg. But there was no laughter, as a good joke should with draw. Just a lot of tension.

 

“Homosexuals choose their paths.” Dan said finally, making Phil scoff and roll his eyes. “They're against the word of God and will burn in hell.”

 

“1 Timothy 5:8; Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Dan's eyes widened. He had never heard that verse before. How had he never heard that verse before? Hurriedly, he flipped through his Bible, running his finger down the pages in an attempt to find the verse. And there it was, in bold black font that seemed to do nothing but mock him. His jaw went slack and he stared back at Phil in defeat, who had a smug grin on his face.

 

* * *

 

“How was school today, dear?” His mother asked as he walked through the front door. Dan glanced between her and his dad, who were in the same positions they were always in. His mother was preparing dinner and his father was sat at his laptop, answering emails.

 

“1 Timothy 5:8.” He replied, making his father look up from the screen, concern written on his face.

 

“What about it?” He asked and slowly Dan turned to face him.

 

“Why have I never heard that verse before?” He asked. His mother had stopped was she was doing to turn her full attention on him. Both his parents were stunned silent for a moment.

 

“It's the one about caring for your family, right?” His dad asked, finally. Dan gave one quick nod. “It's a good verse, but why is it so important to you?”

 

“It just doesn't make any sense, is all.” Dan replied. “The Bible says homosexuals are nonbelievers and have rejected God, so their families kick them out. But then the Bible says that anyone who doesn't care for their family is worse than a nonbeliever. So what are we supposed to do with queers?” His parents were quiet for a moment, both at a loss for words.

 

“Don't tell me your sympathetic to those animals?” He father asked, almost seething at the thought.

 

“No!” Dan shouted, quickly, in an attempt to defend himself. “I just want to know how we're supposed to punish them if kicking them out makes us worse.”

 

“That verse doesn't apply to fags.” His father said, now boiling with rage. “They're lower than the low. Their bodies have been possessed by demons and when they're done on Earth, they'll find their way back down to hell. Now I never want to hear that kind of sympathy again in my house, got it?” He had stood up at that point, hands slammed on the table as he towered above Dan, who could only nod and squeak out a quiet “yes.”

 

* * *

 

Phil became less quiet as the week went on. Every now and then, he would make a snide or sarcastic comment to himself, his voice just barely a whisper. Dan always heard them, and he hated to admit that he always laughed. They would work together while filling out work sheets or analyzing paragraphs. Once, Phil copied off Dan's homework.

 

He's nice, Dan thought to himself whenever he and the boy with the tattoos would interact. And he's funny and charming. He wondered though; how nice could the boy actually be? He was a queer, after all, and it had been drilled into Dan's head since he was a toddler that queers were filthy sinners, people who chose the path of the devil over the path of God.

 

But Phil didn't seem like a serpent in diguise. As a matter of fact, past all his metal and ink and the whole gay thing, he was just like any other Christian boy Dan had met. A week turned into a two, and two weeks turned into a month and strangers became friends. They ate together during their lunch break and did homework together after school. Phil introduced Dan to his music, showing him the cleanest songs in his collection.

 

“I wouldn't want to corrupt you with my dirty gay hands.” He'd joke and the other boy would crack an uncomfortable smile. He had grown used to it over a period of time, but there was still the little voice in the back of his head telling him that it was wrong. He tried his best to ignore it. The music was different from what Dan was used to, with too much drums and guitar. He liked it more than hymns.

 

It was during lunch time on a Tuesday just chilly enough to be wearing the uniform blazer. They were sitting in the middle of a corridor, a comfortable silence between the two of them as Dan chewed thoughtfully.

 

“Why did you choose to be gay?” He asked, making Phil tense.

 

“What did you just ask me?” He asked, sounding scandalized. Dan stared back, wide-eyed and lips parted.

 

“I...” His voice faltered and it dawned on him that perhaps his question came across as a bit offensive. “I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you angry, it's just my pastor says homosexuals-”

 

“Choose their paths, I know.” Phil interrupted. “But believe it or not, this isn't something I chose. Actually, it was something I tried my best to pray away and something that I didn't want. I used to be a lot like you, you know.” He said, making Dan's brow furrow. Phil reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. He lit one and took a long drag before continuing. “I was about twelve, I think, when I started liking boys. I didn't mean to. I just found myself staring at the boys in my classes more than the girls. There was this one boy,” He paused to take another drag of the cigarette, smiling slightly at the memory. “He was my friend -went to church with me and all that, you know how it goes. Anyway, I remember one day all I could think about was kissing him.

 

“I asked my parents if that was normal, if it was okay to want to kiss your friends. I thought that maybe they'd be sympathetic. They weren't, I got sent to therapy. My mom made me talk to our pastor and he would have me on my knees for about two hours a day, asking God to fix me.” Phil scoffed, smoke billowing out of his mouth. Dan didn't say anything, instead transfixed on the story. “I guess the devil was too far in me to pray him out.” He joked, his tone bitter and sarcastic.

 

“What happened next?” Dan whispered, completely immersed in the story. Phil put out the cigarette on the carpeted floor and lit another.

 

“More praying, more therapy, lots of kissing other boys behind my parent's back. I was angry. I thought that maybe it was just because God hated me, or liked laughing at my pain.” He stared up at the ceiling, cigarette dangling out of his mouth. “I stopped talking to my parents. I'd fall asleep in church. I tried to fix myself. I was fourteen and there was this girl in my class called Hannah. She was pretty and she fancied me a lot. I thought that maybe,” His voice trailed off and he gulped.

 

“What did you think?” Dan was sitting closer to him now, shoulders brushing together.

 

“I thought that maybe sex would 'cure' me. That maybe if I shagged a girl, all those feelings I had towards boys would go away. They didn't.” He turned to face Dan, their noses just a centimeter apart. Dan felt his heartbeat quicken, pounding against his sternum rapidly, almost as if it were trying to escape his chest. He felt something, a spark in the back of his mind, the sweat on his palms, the way his friend's eyes shined and sparkled.

 

“How did you know you wanted to kiss that boy?” Dan asked, his voice lower than before, just a bit shaky. Phil blinked, blue eyes wide. He cupped Dan's cheek in his hand, drawing his face just a smidgen closer.

 

“I just thought about his lips. They were so pretty, like yours.” Dan's breath hitched and he felt as though his heart was about to jump out of his throat. “And how soft and warm they'd be pressed against mine.”

 

“Song of Solomon 1:2; Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is better than wine.” Dan mumbled, almost instinctively. He leaned forward, just millimeter, just enough to capture Phil's lips in his own. And oh, how they were warm and soft, and oh, how they moved against Dan's in the most sinful way. It was wrong, so incredibly wrong. It went against everything he believed in, everything he had ever been taught. And what his parents would do if they found out, if they saw -well, Dan didn't want to think about it. He just wanted to think about this boy, the one with the dragons on his bicep and the lion's mane on his index finger. The boy with the pretty blue eyes and the metal studs on his lip. They broke away all too soon, making Dan let out the smallest whimper.

 

“What was that?” Phil asked, a smug little grin on his lips. Dan felt his cheeks burn bright red. He placed his hand over the rosary on his chest, playing with the beads.

 

“That was me giving into the Devil's temptation.” He said. He grabbed the other boy's shirt collar and pulled him into another kiss, this one sloppier than before, with tongues and teeth and metal studs poking at Dan's chin. He let out a high pitch moan, just a little squeak that left him feeling nothing but guilt. This is wrong, Dan thought as Phil scraped his teeth across the other's bottom lip. I've made my choice and I choose the Devil. They broke apart, both gasping for breath. Dan's cheeks felt unusually warm as he bit his bottom lip. He stared down at his lap, his fingers lightly brushing over the rosary. It felt wrong to wear it now. It didn't belong to him.

 

“I'm going to hell.” He said, not looking up at the other boy. Phil scoffed and placed his hand on top of Dan's.

 

“I'll see you there.”

 

* * *

 

Dan did everything in his power to avoid going to church that Sunday. He knew that if he sat in that sanctuary, listening to his pastor condemn homosexuals and sinners, he would sweat like a -well, like exactly what he was; a sinner in church. He pretended to be sick, faking a cough and claiming that his stomach hurt.

 

“You never get sick, Dan!” His brother said, face round and chubby like a seven-year-old's should be.

 

“And you never miss church.” His mother reminded him, her arms crossed over her chest. “So up and at 'em. Let the lord heal you.” She grabbed his forearm, pulling him out of bed.

 

“What exactly is taking so long?” His father yelled from down the hall.

 

“Dan doesn't want to go to church.” His mother yelled back.

 

“It's because I'm sick.” He said, then proceeded to fake another cough. There was another moment of silence before his dad shouted back.

 

“Get over it, you're going.”

 

It was easier than he had expected to sit through the sermon. The topic of homosexuality wasn't brought up, however, there was a discussion on the devil's temptation. Luckily, Dan managed to keep a straight face.

 

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God,tell these stones to become bread.”Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”Jesus answered him,“It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” He said, his face getting red and sweaty as it always did during a sermon. “Raise your hand if you've ever been in this position, people.” A number of people in the sanctuary did so, including Dan.

 

“People forget that the Devil is tricky. He tempts up in our everyday lives, asking for us to forget out faith with fancy cars and money. He makes us selfish and uncaring. He makes us commit sin.” Dan felt his cheeks warm, remembering his kisses shared with the boy with the tattoos. He was a sinner. He had rejected God. “So I encourage you, my fellow children of God, to follow in our lord and savior's footsteps; to reject the Devil, even in the most tempting of times.”

 

Easier said than done. Dan thought.

 

* * *

 

It was a cliché, something that Dan had only ever heard about from movies, but it was a cliché he was living for himself.

 

“God, you're so fucking beautiful.” Phil moaned, his lips on Dan's neck as they were locked in the janitors closet. They were supposed to be in class, Dan told himself as he weaved his fingers through Phil's hair. He couldn't help but think about just how wrong this was, how much trouble he'd get into if he was caught. He felt his face flush as Phil scrapped his teeth across Dan's neck, letting a low moan. He rolled his hips involuntarily, making the other smirk.

 

“You're such a little slut, Dan.” Phil whispered, his breath hot an wet against Dan's ear. “You just can't wait for me to take your clothes off and ravish you, make you a filthy little sinner.” Dan let out a whimper, letting his eyes flutter closed. His grip on Phil's hair tightened.

 

“Please,” He managed to breath out. “Please, I want you.” He rubbed his hips against Phil's thigh, making the other boy's smirk widen.

 

“You have no idea how much I want to take you right here.” He said, pressing wet, open-mouthed kisses to Dan's collarbone. “What I want to do to you...” Dan threw his head back and let out a low moan, brow creased and covered with beads of sweat.

 

“What do you want to do to me?” He asked, eyebrows raised and face flushed bright red. This was so wrong, he shouldn't have been doing this, not with another man.

 

“If we were at my house, I'd bend you over the table and choke you with that pretty little rosary around your neck, make you fucking scream my name.” Dan's breath hitched and he felt it, the pounding in his chest as if his heart were trying to escape. “I'd make you recite those Bible verses you love so much, the ones about how much of an abomination homosexuality is, as I fucked you hard. I bet your ass is so tight. Have you ever fingered yourself, Dan?” Dan shook his head, eyes wide and pupils blown.

 

“I've, um,” His voice faltered as he lowered his head in shame. “I've never masturbated. I didn't even know what that was until we talked about it in church last year.” He admitted. Phil pulled away from him, his brow furrowed and his head cocked to the side in confusion.

 

“Why the fuck would you talk about masturbation in church?” He asked and Dan's face burned bright red, this time from embarrassment.

 

“Well, it wasn't exactly in church, but I go to Sunday school and basically the teacher talked about why touching yourself is morally wrong and how sex is only to create children and not for personal pleasure.” Phil laughed, an honest to God belly-laugh, loud enough to be heard from the other side of the door. Dan slapped a hand over his mouth, making him shut up.

 

“Sorry,” Phil mumbled once Dan retracted his hand. “But that's ridiculous.”

 

* * *

 

They had sex for the first time that Saturday. Dan told his parents that he was going to a friend's house to study for his exams and took the bus over to Phil's. He lived in an awful, run down flat that he had managed to find once his parents kicked him out. It wasn't much, but it was his.

 

“My parents are expecting me home by five.” Dan said after kissing Phil hello.

 

“You're still wearing your rosary.” Phil pointed out, making the other instinctively place his hand on it. He fingered the beads for a moment, thinking about all the sins he was committing just by being with Phil. For a moment, he hated it. He hated they lies, he hated the part of himself liked Phil and liked kissing Phil, he hated how much he wanted to do more than kiss Phil. The rosary was a grounding, something to remind him of his roots, his church. Something to help him stay connected to God.

 

“I think I'll leave it on for a while.” He said, finally. Phil shrugged and snaked his arms around the other boy's waist, pulling him closer.

 

“Hi.” He said.

 

“Hi.” Dan replied, placing a peck to Phil's lips. The kiss deepened quickly, with more teeth and tongue and sin. Dan moaned, just a little squeak as he dug his nails into Phil's shoulders. Their bodies were pressed so close together, chest against chest, hips against hips, moving in circles in a sinful dance. There was no room for Jesus. When Phil began kissing his neck, Dan dug his teeth into his bottom lip to keep from moaning.

 

“You're so fucking pretty.” Phil whispered, bringing his mouth up to Dan's ear. “I love your lips, I want to know how they'd look stretched around my cock.” Dan gasped, his thighs quivering from anticipation. Phil cupped his cheek and placed a peck to his lips, his smile kind and loving. “Get on your fucking knees.” He whispered. Dan nodded, managing to croak out a struggled “Mm-hm” before falling to his knees, his face centimeters from the tent in Phil's jeans. He stared at it for a moment, unsure of what to do. He glanced up at Phil, eyes wide and innocent.

 

“Go on.” Phil pushed and Dan nodded again, popping the button of Phil's jeans and pushing them, along with his underwear, past his hips. Dan took the other's cock in his hand, taking a moment to stare at it, red and flushed and pretty. He felt another ping of guilt, his Bible teacher's words going through his mind.

 

Sex is not for pleasure.

 

He placed a kiss to the head, making Phil tangle his fingers into the boy's hair. Encouraged, Dan took the tip into his mouth, swirling his tongue around Phil's slit and extracting a moan from the other. He took more of Phil into his mouth, running his tongue -his sinful, dirty tongue- along the side. He choked when Phil bucked his hips, but didn't stop.

 

“You're such a little cockslut, Dan.” Phil moan, his fingers pulling at the other boys hair. Dan moaned around him, the vibrations sending a ping of pleasure up Phil's spine. He bucked his hips again, loving hearing Dan gag and choke around him, but still try to take him deeper. “God, how are you so good with your mouth?” He moaned as he felt himself hit the back of Dan's throat. Dan pulled off of him after a moment, sitting back on his heels and looking up at Phil, innocently. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand without breaking eye contact. There was a moment of silence, the air heavy and thick with desire.

 

Lust is a sin. Dan reminded himself as he stared up at Phil. One of the worst sins of all. Phil yanked up to his feet by the rosary, putting strain on the beads and making Dan worry that he may have broken it. They were close, Phil's hot breath mixing with Dan's, their noses touching, and Phil holding the other boy by his rosary.

 

“I want you on my bed, stripped, with you face down and your ass in the air, got it?” He asked and Dan nodded. Phil let go of him, watching the sway of his hips as he walked into the bedroom, shutting the door behind him. Phil waited a moment, giving himself enough to to cool down before joining the other boy.

 

He had done as he was told, Phil admired. He was completely unclothed except for the rosary that still dangled around his neck.

 

He remembered, Phil thought, smiling to himself. He reached into his bedside drawer, pulling out a bottle of lube and coating his fingers with the sticky substance.

 

“Are you ready?” He muttered into Dan's ear, who only gave a throaty grown in reply. Phil slowly pushed one finger into Dan's entrance, making the other boy hiss and wiggle awkwardly at the sensation. Phil gave him a moment to adjust. “Relax, babe.” He whispered. “It'll be easier if you relax.” Dan attempted to relax his muscles, clenching and unclenching them a few times before the pain subsided. “Are you okay?” Phil asked and Dan nodded. He slowly began to move his finger, drawing out a low mewl from the boy underneath him. He added a second finger, scissoring the two to properly stretch Dan out. He whined arched his back, wiggling his ass to fuck himself on Phil's finger.

 

“P-please,” He stuttered out. “More.” Something inside of Phil snapped. He retracted his fingers from Dan, grabbing the rosary from around his neck and pulled, making the other boy whine. He leaned over Dan to whisper in his ear.

 

“Leviticus 18:22.” He said. “Recite it for me.”

 

“Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with-” Dan paused to throw his head back and moan as Phil entered him.

 

“Go on, finish. What does your precious little Bible say about this?” He snapped his hips into Dan, making the other boy's thighs quiver.

 

“-as with womankind; it-it is abomination.” He stuttered out, grabbing the sheets below him in an attempt to ground himself. Phil pulled his hips closer to him, thrusting harder into his tight little hole and making Dan whimper.

 

“1 Timothy 1:10.”

 

“The sexually immoral, men who practice -ah fuck, yes.” He screamed as Phil brushed by his prostate. “Wh-who practice homosexuality -Phil.” He couldn't finish as Phil's hips slammed into him, stretching him open and making him feel dirt, immoral, sinful, and so fucking good. He was gone, unable to form a coherent thought. He was on the edge, ready to let years of ignored sexual frustration spill out over Phil's sheets. He gripped his own cock, pumping it as the other brushed by his prostate once, twice, over and over. It was too much. With a scream of the other's name, Dan came. Phil gave a few more pumps before emptying himself inside of Dan. He gripped the other's rosary, pulling and making him choke. They collapsed onto the bed, Phil rolling over and Dan tucking himself under the covers.

 

“I'm so tired.” He said, yawning. Phil felt his eyelids flutter shut and he wrapped his arms around Dan's waist, nuzzling his nose into the other's neck. The last thing he heard before drifting off into sleep was his boyfriend mumble “You've turned me into a sinner.”

 

* * *

 

They woke up hours later to the sound of Dan's phone ringing. He opened his eyes, letting out a groan of discontent before grabbing it off the bedside table.

 

“Oh shit.” He whispered. “Hi mom.” He said, sitting up and pushing the fringe out of his face.

 

“Daniel James Howell.” His mother said from the other side, sounding absolutely furious. “Where exactly have you been young man?” She demanded.

 

“I'm at a friend's house.” He said. “I know I'm late, I'm sorry, I lost track of time.”

 

“Your father and I have been worried sick!” She shouted and Dan could imagine her throwing her hands up in the air as she said it.

 

“I'm sorry, I'll be home soon, I promise.”

 

“Tell me where you are right now, I'm coming to pick you up.” For a second, Dan thought he was going to throw up. He couldn't tell her, he couldn't let her know what had happened.

 

“I'm already at the bus stop.” He blurted out. “Don't trouble yourself. Really, I'm on my way.”

 

“I hope you know that you're in very big trouble, young man.”

 

“I know, I'm sorry.”

 

* * *

 

The next time he saw Phil was at church that Sunday. He was dressed up in a black button down shirt that covered his tattoos and had taken the metal studs out of his lip and the ring from his nose. The only body modification that was visible were his stretched ears, which he hoped no one would say anything about. Dan hadn't expected to see him, not in the slightest.

 

“What are you doing here?” He asked once his family had filed into the sanctuary.

 

“It's something you're passionate about, so I thought I'd attend with you.” Phil said, a smile on his lips. Dan felt a ping in his heart as he smiled back.

 

“You know that rules?” He asked and Phil nodded.

 

“Nothing gay, I know. We're just friends. Two heterosexual guys just hanging out as bros.” During the service, Phil was tense the entire time. Dan had to consciously remind himself not to touch the other, to not alert anyone that they might be anything but friends. After it was over, and people were filing out of the sanctuary, Dan told his family that he and Phil would hang back to talk to the preacher. It wasn't true, he just wanted an excuse to be alone with the tattooed boy.

 

“Daniel!” Called the preacher, clapping Dan on the back. “I see you brought a friend with you today. What's your name, boy?” He asked, moving his attention from Dan to Phil.

 

“Philip Lester.” He said, reaching his hand out to shake the pastor's.

 

“You have holes in your ears, boy.” The pastor commented. Dan watched, almost as if in slow motion, as Phil's muscles tightened

 

“Yes, I most certainly do, sir.” He said, an almost fatal amount of snark in his tone. The preacher narrowed his eyes, glaring.

 

“In that case, I suggest you read Jude 1:8.” He said, his cheeks turning rosy.

 

“Yet in like manner these people, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.” Phil recited, his expression smug. “I'm familiar with the verse. I'm more partial to the ideal that it's my body and I can do whatever the fuck I want with it.” In a moment of panic, Dan gripped Phil's shoulder, his nails digging into the other's skin.

 

“I'm sorry, father.” He blurted out, glaring at Phil. “My friend is new to faith.”

 

“Oh, give it a rest.” Phil said, tearing himself away from Dan's grip. “This is all complete and utter bullshit, and you know it.”

 

“Phil-” Dan warned, his eyes darting nervously between the tattooed boy and the preacher.

 

“This man is using God as an excuse to spread hate, but what about love thy neighbor? Judge not unless ye be judged? Have you ever heard of those?”

 

“It says plain and simple in the Bible, women serve their husbands and queers go to hell.” The preacher countered.

 

“Yeah, well the Bible also says that shrimp and cheeseburgers are an abomination, but judging from the look of you, you've enjoyed plenty of both of those in your time.” Dan was shaking and he watched in horror as the chubby face of the pastor turned bright red with boiling rage.

 

“I remember you.” He said, his voice wavering. “You would spend everyday after school with my trying to pray away your certain affliction.” He said the word as if it were something dirty that burned his tongue. Phil scoffed and rolled his eyes.

 

“Oh yeah, I was a really god-fearing, ginger kid about three years ago that had the audacity to be a queer. I wasted a lot of my own damn time, because the prayers were never answered. I'm still a raging homosexual.” Dan covered his face with his hands, his shoulders shaking. He wanted to disappear.

 

“You're a good boy, Daniel.” The preacher said, placing his hand on Dan's shoulder. “It's very kind of you to try and cure this heathen, but unfortunately, he has a disease that can't be cured.” Phil laughed, a bitter, cruel laugh that made Dan glare at him, sending him a silent message.

 

Don't you dare. The message was not received as Phil pulled him in for a kiss. Dan sputtered and tried to pull away, shame and embarrassment over taking him. He didn't want to come out this way. He wasn't ready.

 

“Daniel...” He heard the broken voice of his pastor say and he felt his face heat up.

 

“I'm sorry!” He blurted, tears beginning to prick at the corners of his eyes. “I'm sorry, I've messed up. I've strayed from the path of God, I'm sorry.” He felt his whole body quiver. He couldn't face Phil. He couldn't face his pastor.

 

“I can't believe this.” Phil said, his voice sounding cracked and broken. “After all that, after everything...” Dan lifted his head, seeing Phil's hurt expression. “I thought you were getting better about this! I thought that maybe... I don't know... maybe you liked me enough to stop feeling ashamed.” Dan felt his heart drop, shatter into a million pieces. Phil was crying. It was his fault.

 

“I can't begin to describe how disappointed I am in you, Daniel.” His preacher said, arms crossed over his chest.

 

“You and me both.” Phil said, turning on his heel to stomp out of the sanctuary. On his way out, he kicked over one of the folding chairs. Dan cringed at he heard it clatter to the ground.

 

“That boy is the Devil in disguise.” The preacher sneered, glaring in Phil's direction. “And you were not strong enough to refuse him.” Dan felt the first tear spill down his cheek. He never wanted this. He never wanted to feel so low, so ashamed.

 

“I'm sorry.” He mumbled, his voice hoarse. “I'm so sorry.”

 

* * *

 

That Monday was hard. Phil wouldn't look at him, much less talk to him. Dan didn't know how to apologize. He cried that night, letting his tears streak his pillow. His parents wouldn't talk to him either, having discussed with their pastor about his “affliction,” as they called it. They were mad. After school, he was driven to church to try and pray away his disease. He hated it. He hated himself.

 

“Tell me how far you've strayed from the path of light, boy.” His preacher said, glaring down at him. Dan shifted, his hands folded in his lap and his gaze toward his feet.

 

“Fairly far, sir.” He said.

 

“How long were you engaging yourself in this sort of sin?” He asked and Dan looked up at him.

 

“Do you mean, like, sex? With Phil?” He asked, not really thinking about his words. For a moment, the pastor looked taken aback, but he soon composed himself and nodded his head.

 

“Anything dabbling in homosexuality.” Dan shifted again, not able to look at the other man in the eye.

 

“I think we were together for... a month, maybe? I can't remember. It was a while. We kissed a lot and he'd convince me to skip class to... yeah. We had sex once.” He felt his face burn bright red, feeling nothing but guilt and shame.

 

“You know there's only one way to rid yourself of the Devil within in, boy.” He said. Dan nodded and fell to his knees, hands folded to pray. He found himself eye level with his preacher's crotch, staring at the tent poking at his robes.

 

“Um, sir?” Dan asked, glancing up at him. The man stared back, his gaze like a stone.

 

“I am a holy man, Daniel. I can rid the demons within you.” He reached down to stroke Dan's cheek, making the boy's muscles tense. “You have such pretty lips.” It was exactly what Phil had said to him a dozen times, but it felt wrong and dirty coming from another man's lips. He didn't want this man touching him. He didn't want this man complimenting him.

 

“Please, stop.” He said, attempting to stand up. The preacher pushed his shoulder down, keeping Dan in place.

 

“If you don't, you'll never rid of your demons.” He said. Dan shuttered. It felt wrong, dirty, sinful, but not in the right ways. Not in the ways Phil made him feel. He felt his stomach muscle clench, his throat burn, his eyes sting. Quickly, he jumped up, slapping a hand over his mouth as he stumbled toward the trash can, releasing the contents of his stomach inside. His mouth tasted bitter, his stomach wouldn't stop flipping, he wanted to see Phil, to cry in the other's arms. He want to leave. So he ran, out of the church to never be in it again. He couldn't go back, he couldn't face that man ever again. He didn't want to pray away his sexuality, he want to stay with Phil and be happy and not have to worry about people hating him, not have to worry about hating himself.

 

He caught the next bus over to his boyfriend's apartment, jumping into Phil's arms when he got there and placing kiss all over his face. He cried, more than he had in a very long time. Phil held him. It felt warm. It felt safe.