My first try at a DPS fanfic. The plot reveals itself... I'm basically gauging reactions.

Neil couldn’t pull the trigger that faithful night… he’d witnessed a standing ovation, his name evident in the mouths of the crowds: he’d felt… such glory in that isolated moment that he refused to forget and deny the vibrant, living feeling because of yet another moment, but words, though bearing such devastating impact his vocal chords seemed to have snapped when he entered the school the next day, bearing his father’s gun in its textile casing in an easily accessible pocket. He’d all but delayed what he deemed inevitable, hoping the desire would lessen as he looked at those he’d leave behind and hesitantly shuffle among them one final time.

He was even more silent than even Todd on his worst days, more afraid of losing face in front of his father than Todd could be to be wearing his brother’s forever! Soon enough, questions arose among the group, and he responded only by nodding or shaking his head, averting his eyes sometimes too. Worry seeped in through unwritten lines of dark poetry, climaxing when they asked Neil what his father had done and he swiftly stalked off in another direction, leaving them, shocked, behind. He could’ve acted like nothing was wrong at all with the greatest of ease, but if he were to see another day, he’d best not act anymore. Ever.

He sat solemnly in the back of the class, cradling his head in his hands and aimlessly peering through his fingers at matters on blackboards and hypothesis’ he couldn’t really care for. He did lend half an ear to Todd’s new poem though, out of friendship he tried to hold on to, out of respect that kept him from leaving and condemning all Todd’s broken brainwaves to a waist-basket purely out of the poets grief. Todd sat hesitantly in front of him:

“You’re not listening. What’s wrong with you anyway?” He placed a careful hand on Neil’s thigh and leaned forward, hoping to catch his straying glance. “Neil, Look at me.”

Neil just continued to stare dust off the wall, the look in his eyes conveying a sadness no one had ever seen there before. “Neil? We’re worried about you. Say something. It’s fine if you hated it; I’ll live.” Todd tried to smile. Charlie, Knox, Cameron, Pitts and Meeks all appeared behind him, each oddly fascinated by the look in Neil’s eyes.

Suddenly, without warning or subtlety, Neil shot up and away to the nearest restroom where he noisily undid himself of most of his food that they, albeit it wasn’t that much. Misguided, but hugely comforting understanding dawned on his friends as they gathered around his chosen stall and their eyes lingered on his bony back. Characters could be read by what they did next… the more vocal or shy members of the group engaged themselves uttering warm words of comfort as those more silent, more physical or simply… closer than the others rubbed his bony back and neck.

At the very least, Neil thought, this showed them that he could be as fragile and hurt as any of them, which they would, at some point have been confronted with:

Before or after it was too late.

“So you’re sick? Is that it?” Charlie ventured, hand lingering or Neil’s shoulder still.

Neil nodded, resting his chin on the toilet seat and waiting for someone other than him to take initiative.

“Maybe you should get some rest then… you’re pretty pale.” It was of a gentle, benign gesture, but taken as a threat.

“No!” if he was left alone now, he’d do it. No doubt he would. “I’m fine guys. Just a bad stomach ache, I’ll live.” He tried his hardest to smile. He suffered from a heartache that would grow and thrive in the darkness of an empty room.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, Nuwanda, I’m positive.”

They helped him up, guided him toward the sink and waited for him to clean up.

With their spirits mostly lifted, the dead poets wandered into Captain Keating’s classroom.

“Alright boys, first of all, I want to celebrate young mister Perry’s fine début! I understand that your father has… rained on your parade, son, but that really doesn’t take away from your performance: don’t lose confidence, don’t lose hope, do not discard your driven spirit, for it entertains, amazes, and baffles us all. Do you hear that? Now, let’s give him a hand!”

People rose off their chairs and clapped their appreciation, happy and exuberant.

Neil… shrunk, hid his face, cried.

“Neil?” Keating asked, surprised at this reaction.

“It’s okay, sir… he’s just not feeling very well right now.” Todd, quite affectionately, told him.
“Is that true, son?” Keating stopped dead in his tracks, staring at Neil’s desk in absolute horror…

The gun had risen from his pocket…

“H-Help me, Captain.”