A Life not Spent with You

BY : Rin-chan
Category: DarkFic > Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 4294
Disclaimer: Any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental - this is a work of fiction.

 TRIGGER WARNING: This story contains details of sexual assault that may be upsetting to some readers! Thank you for the reviews and reading! It makes me smile to read them! ^^

                                                                                                                                                     *

Miserable, Damien once again tried to sit comfortably as he waited in the car; his injuries had flared up after the terrible incident. Looking out the window, he felt his face heat with humiliation. Worse than disappointed in himself, he wiped at his eyes, hating the faint stickiness from his crying. Nothing but a crying wailing lump of uselessness... Even worse was breaking down in front of Bailey, who’d no doubt report everything to Ivan. With a sigh he closed his eyes, leaned his head back on the surprisingly comfortable head rest. I can hear Ivy now ‘why would you go back it was a stupid idea’... His mouth twitched as if his brain was trying to tell him his assumption was grossly incorrect. No...He’ll hold me and tell me how brave I was to even try... For the first time since he’d hid himself in the car five minutes ago, he managed to smile.

 As he waited for Bailey to come back, he mused that no matter how bad his assumptions and insecurities were about his relationship, they always crumbled when he actually thought rationally. The blond had never pushed him or pressed him for answers, to talk about what happened, or even touched him without permission. He was simply there, ready to offer support and comfort. Being around him was calming, soothing the rampant emotions in him as they bubbled under his surface like champagne. A new thought occurred to him, made his despondent mood start to fade. If the tables were turned...If Ivan had been hurt that way would I blame him? Be disgusted with him or love him less? The answer was easy and it allowed Damien to let go of the tiniest fraction of his self-hatred. That poisonous view of himself was still strongly clouded with the shame, guilt, and the sting of his body’s betrayal but for the first time since the rape he decided to be gentle with himself.

 I guess we’re moving then... With the smallest of smirks, he opened his eyes, looked up at the cold blue skies above, admired the budding trees along the street. The idea didn’t seem cowardly now, it actually was welcoming with the prospect of a new beginning. Look at me all hopeful for the future... Surprised at his own jibe at himself, he laughed. He focused on the laughing, trying to keep his mind from dwelling on the hateful comments the tenant had jeered at him. It hurt deeply, the uncaring attitude at the crime because he was gay so it wouldn’t have affected him in such a jarring, fundamental way. Eyes falling once again to his lap, he heaved out a sigh, knowing his Mother would probably feel the same way. No way I’m telling her straight away...I’d tell Dad maybe but with both of them off in Spain there’s no way I could just get Dad on the phone without her listening... A thought crossed his mind and the more he passed the idea around in his head, let it shape up into some sort of plan, the more serendipitous it became. A knocking at the driver side window broke his brainstorming, made him jump.

 “Hey, sorry I thought the knocking wouldn’t startle you as much.” Offering an apologetic smile, Bailey hesitated before getting in, tugging the backpack he had with him, on to his lap. The younger man nodded once, his eyes falling away from his as his cheeks filled with color. Guessing he was embarrassed about the confrontation, Bailey closed his door as quietly as he could and looked down at the backpack. Maybe he’s going to be mad at being seen like that... Bailey knew that some people could start to resent those who saw them at their worst, some pride that drove them to become bitter. As he glanced at the younger, all he saw was a tired sort of resignation. Glad, he took hold of the bag and offered it to the other man. “Here, I got everything you asked for. The police were right, they caused no damage themselves, only cut a small square off the rug.”

 Unzipping the bag, his stomach freezing momentarily at the sound, Damien pushed away the echoing memory that noise brought and rifled through the backpack’s contents. Seeing his shirts, Ivan’s phone cords and the other things he’d requested, he left the bag open as he looked to his friend with a smile. “Awesome, thanks Bailey.” Going over the checklist in his mind, glancing at the back seat with his surprise for Ivan, he buckled himself in. “Alright, I think that's everything...Can we, go back to the hotel please?” The older man returned the smile, and followed suit, snapping his seat buckle and turned the ignition key. With an amiable silence, they went on their way.

                                                                                                                                                      *

  The lunch rush was busier than normal, keeping Ivan focused on work as he pushed out meals. His position was chef de partie, if Watertons was a five-star restaurant; here was just another line cook. Today he was working the pasta station as well as dicing up extra vegetables to help the others as orders kept coming in. As he waited for the last of the cooked pasta to heat in the oven, he made no mistakes, his hands knowing how to chop and dice while his mind was elsewhere. Every so often he glanced at the clock across from his station, turning back with a quiet sigh. All the while he fretted about how the afternoon with Bailey was going, if his boyfriend was comfortable with his friend.

What if he’s too agitated or feels he doesn’t know Bailey well enough? All the times except for birthdays and new years or what have you I don’t think Bailey’s ever touched him... Touch seemed to be the only thing that really grounded Damien into the present when he had a flashback or started to panic. His phone hadn’t vibrated yet so he tried to take it as a good sign and not a reason to assume the worst.

 On autopilot, he took the large container of prepared vegetables and brought it over to Shannon who chirped a thank you as she finished the garnish for her salads. Nodding in reply, he turned and glanced at the clock yet again. Despite his distracted mindset, he halted after a few steps, his peripheral vision noting the new dishwasher was coming by with clean knives. “Emily, please give a shout that knives are coming through.” The teenager made an affirmative noise, having already learned to keep unneeded talking to a minimum during the rush. On the way back to his area, he checked the oven, tugged on a mitt and took three white dishes of fettuccine out. The cheese and sauce bubbled appetizingly and his stomach did grumble in response but he didn’t feel like eating. The past few days his appetite had vanished, no doubt in response to the recent events.

 “Ivan, how’s that pasta doing?” David, the head chef shouted from where he added the finishing touches to his dishes. Just finished plating the three main courses, Ivan placed them on a tray and started his way over. “Ready to go, Chef!” Try as he might, he couldn’t muster the usual pride he had for keeping atop of the tasks. Working in the busy, sometimes hectic, kitchen had always been a welcome challenge to maintain the utmost speed and precision in completing dishes; hearing himself, Ivan knew he sounded like a person who was bored and didn’t want to be here. Perhaps David heard it because after he set down the needed tray, the head chef told him to take his lunch break and see the manager. His face heating, feeling dismissed, Ivan weaved his way through the flurry of kitchen staff and knocked on Mr. Burbidge’s door. A quiet voice gave his permission to enter and he did.

 John Burbidge sat, black reading glasses perched on his nose as he looked over the papers strewn across his desk. He was a fifty-something man who’s body started to gently balloon as it did with the aging years; still, he had a good head of short brown hair, grey starting to make its appearance. His eyes glanced at him with a casual air of disinterest before returning to examine his paperwork. “Close the door.” As always, the man was succinct. With butterflies in his stomach, Ivan did as bid, returning to stand before him; no one ever sat down without being invited to in this office. Knowing this was about Friday’s shift, Ivan resignedly prepared himself for a stern reprimand, possibly worse. It was a chaotic night here at work with Greg calling in sick and then I leave a couple hours into my shift...

 “You took Friday night’s shift that was to end at one, yet you left at ten-thirty. Correct?” Fighting not to fidget, Ivan lifted his chin the tiniest bit as he confirmed it. “It was quite the debacle you left us in. I assume it was for a reason of great importance.” Understanding it wasn’t a question, he bit the inside of his cheek, waiting for the hammer to fall. Burbidge took off his glasses and folded them in one motion, placing them in his chest pocket. As he did so, his eyes locked with his. To Ivan’s surprise, they weren’t filled with the usual aloofness. They were filled with something more than the hardened and driven coolness he was used to. Worried that he couldn’t place the emotion he saw in those hazel orbs, Ivan watched as his manager opened a desk drawer and pulled out a newspaper. As the man flipped through it lazily, the blond tapped his toes in agitation. Stop with the foreplay and tell me I’m in trouble!

 “If memory serves me well, you have a boyfriend?” Startled at the personal question, Ivan blinked, lost at this sudden change of subject. “Yes.” Tightening his jaw a little, he spoke that one word with a tone that suggested he didn’t like the question. Burbidge stopped at a page, gave it a cursory glance. “Would he happen to live with you at Candlewick Apartments?”

 A shock ran through his body as he realized what the man was reading. Dizzy for a split second at the turn of this conversation, Ivan looked to the ground, his face warming. His manager’s eyes on him like a weight, the air growing cold as he was inspected. Try as he might, he couldn’t meet the man’s eyes, the grief of the assault too strong to display to an acquaintance. Is he judging me or Dami? Our lifestyle? Does he think we deserve it? The self-blame he’d managed to shrink blossomed madly in his heart, the surety that if he’d been at home rather than here, the rape would never have happened. That crushing remorse for his life-altering choice spun slowly in his chest like a decrepit carousel, leaking oil stains that would never fade.

“Given your reaction, I suppose he’s twenty-five.” Wanting nothing more than to be out of this office, to be away from the dissecting eyes and drawn-out sniper sentences, he neither confirmed it or denied it. Feeling terribly exposed, Ivan kept in the growing desire to suddenly cry, in as best as he could. “I’d say that's a very valid reason to have left early.” Once again disoriented from the shift in demeanor, Ivan dared to meet Burbidge’s gaze, surprised to see a quiet sort of understanding.

“I guessed it was something important after Zach told me how frantic you were when you left. I know how you two have your differences and dislikes of one another, but he emphasized just how upset you were after your phone call. And after yesterday’s paper, I had a hunch and looked up your current address in your work file. I’m very sorry, I hope your boyfriend is recovering well.”

 With a sigh, Burbidge closed the newspaper and returned it to the drawer. His mood seemed less forbidding as it usually was. With an air of sadness, he leaned back in his chair, rolled his neck in a weary way. “My niece, lovely girl, had been assaulted just after she’d turned seventeen. So many tears. Her boyfriend was a mess, he’d been working here for a few months and the day after it happened, he did his work, didn’t make a single mistake but he did everything like a man who longed for distraction but couldn’t find it. Much like how you’ve been since you got here this morning.”

 Partly amazed at hearing the man divulge anything personal, Ivan felt himself nodding a little, admitting his poor work performance. “I’m really trying, I just can’t concentrate.” Not apologizing for his hasty departure Friday, knowing it’d be dismissed anyway, Ivan shrugged to himself. “I’ll do better tomorrow.” He paused, couldn’t help the curiosity. “Your niece...How is she doing?” His manager looked down to his desk and picked up of one of the picture frames sitting there. Burbidge had always been a man who’d never wasted a single movement, a battering ram when it came to getting things done. Ivan watched as he gently swiped his thumb along the picture, “For the first month she was coping with all the help we could get her. After that she spiraled for a couple weeks before she committed suicide. That was three years ago.”

 Back straightening, as if slapped, Ivan felt his heart squeeze at the sorrow he heard in the older man’s voice. It’d never occurred to him that perhaps that may be in store for Damien if he slipped too far. Tears prickled as his throat tightened as he saw his manager’s body sag ever so slightly, made him look older than his years. Oh god that could be Damien I never even thought of it I need to ask him if he’s ever considered it! Wringing his hands a couple times, keeping them at his sides, Ivan cleared his throat gently. “I’m sorry, I can’t imagine-” With a tired wave of deterrence, Burbidge set the picture down and put his glasses on once more. As he picked up a few papers, shuffled them as he gazed at the contents, he spoke with faint disinterest once more.

 “Spare me the platitudes. You won’t do better tomorrow because you won’t be here, nor the rest of the week. I believe you have enough paid sick days for at least two weeks, but I’ll need you here next Monday since its Easter and people just love to have family brunch. If you decide to take the rest of next week off too, please let me know.” The dull headache Ivan had felt since he’d left Damien’s side, the constant worrying and anxiety, suddenly quieted. The absence of it made him almost shake his head, as well as the silent kindness John Burbidge was showing him. Silent, unable to convey his gratitude, he grappled for the words for a few moments before his manager gestured for him to leave.

 About to move for the door, the blond paused, “Thank you very much." Thinking about it on his way home, Ivan guessed it was his frank reply that made Burbidge look up from his work, with the barest hint of a smirk touching his lips before it faded into a solemn line.

 “I know the common belief around here is that I’m a tough, old, battle axe of a man. A slave driver, a mirthless manager who only cares about business and results. But I’m not a robot, I do have emotions and I mean it when I say I sincerely hope you and your loved one will get through this together. You go home and take care of him, and don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. See you next Monday.”

                                                                                                                                                       *

 The cacophony of the supermarket added to his anxiety, but with effort, Damien took a couple calming breaths and continued shadowing his friend. Oddly, as Bailey cut through the lines of people at the check-outs, looking back at him once in a while with a smile, the younger man thought of video games where the player had to defend a damsel against enemies. As he made sure not to stray too far, the situation made him chuckle as he thought of his long hair and his obvious need of defending. While they searched for the aisle they wanted, his thoughts drifted once more to getting a haircut. The memory of a large fist knotting his hair and dragging him down, came strong; with a shiver, Damien quickened his pace to match Bailey’s as they turned a corner. He stifled a yawn, feeling very tired ever since they left the apartment; all the commotion chipped at his already low energy.

 Just as they came to the deli counter, his phone started to ring. Hoping it was Ivan, Damien stopped and fumbled around in his coat pocket. Seeing Ivan’s picture on the screen, he flipped it open and hit the ‘talk’ button. “Hey.” All the warmth and gladness he felt was in that one word as he smiled. “Hey darling, I just got your text, I miss you too. How’s your afternoon going? Things alright with Bailey?” Flashing a smile at the Brazilian at his side, he nodded, “Yeah, things are fine, we’re at the supermarket right now since we’re low on cold cuts and the like. Glancing at the phone quickly, he saw it was only just after two. Grimacing momentarily, he put the phone back to his ear. “The time’s going by so slow, how’s work?”

 “The minutes seemed to drag by, this morning was painfully slow. My manager spoke to me about Friday’s shift though...He guessed a crisis of some sort happened and gave me the week off, the rest of today as well.” Not noticing the older man’s attempts to sound neutral, Damien beamed a smile to himself as his heart beat jumped. “Awesome, just like my boss!” A yawn nearly escaped him, the drowsiness getting stronger. Looking forward to sleeping in the next few days, cuddled against his boyfriend, Damien felt a faint blush cross his cheeks. “We’re just a couple blocks from the hotel, so we’ll be there when you get back. Do you want anything from here, sweetheart?” He heard the man give a light chuckle, could hear his smile as he said, “No thanks, luv, I’ll be home in twenty minutes or so. I love you.” The blush growing deeper at the sweet words, Damien grinned, “I love you, too, have a safe drive.”

 Closing the phone, he looked to Bailey with a faint grin. “He has the week off, and he’s on the way back to the hotel. Lets grab the things and get out of here.” The other man nodded with a smile and gestured in a sweeping motion towards the deli counter.

                                                                                                                                                       *

 As soon as they came into the hotel room, Damien glanced at the clock, heartened to see Ivan would be here within minutes. Bailey hesitated after closing the door, his face uncertain. Seeing this, the younger man waved him in, asking him to set down his surprise for Ivan on the freshly made bed furthest from the front door. With difficulty, he knelt as best as he could, the position awkward despite his healing injuries. While he put away the few groceries he bought in the mini fridge, he remembered he needed another antibiotic pill. Selecting a banana, he stood, closing the door with his foot.

“I’ll be right back, Dami, please excuse me.” Bailey moved to the bathroom door, flicking on the light. Taking a big bite of his fruit, the younger man set it down and quickly started to strip the blankets and sheets from the bed Ivan and him always used. It was closest to the door, where the bathroom light was nearest to him at night. Going to the large, plastic bag Bailey brought in, Damien unsnapped the top and took out the comforter pad he’d retrieved from home. Spreading his arms, holding it at the corners as best as he could, he gave it a couple shakes to straighten it out. Careful not to leave creases, he secured it on top of the bed, tucking the edges under the mattress. Smiling to himself, he tested the softness with one hand before finishing making the bed again.

 Another few minutes ticked by as he waited, recapping his pill bottle and setting it down on the desk again. Sitting on the bed, he almost purred at the vast improvement of new addition.

By the window in an armchair, Bailey watched with amusement at the low-key excitement that rippled through the younger man as he glanced at the clock again. Damien’s mood had improved a great deal after the phone call - his obvious joy to be reunited with Ivan was heartwarming. Bailey saw it, the strong affection his two friends had for one another, the little things that spoke of their still passionate feelings. No doubt it’ll grow stronger in this crisis... In all his researching, the best help for dealing with trauma was a strong support system and services available to assist in readjusting of living with the event. It would be a long road, with setbacks and roadblocks aplenty, but seeing how positive Damien’s mood was now just by knowing Ivan was on the way, was encouraging. His sharp eyes noticed the younger yawning again, having done so a few times during their outing.

 As he waited, his alertness slowly wore away, made him drowsy. The emotions of standing before the door of his apartment complex had probably taken more from him than just tears. More than anything, he longed for Ivan’s arms around him, the gentle squeeze the man always gave him. His nightmare this morning whispered to life, made him almost feel the phantom lips kissing him as his body had been split apart. Tiredly, he ignored it as best as he could, cringed slightly as the vivid memory of being pushed down by his lover. “If you’re tired, go to sleep, I’ll stay here until he gets back.” Wearily, Damien looked to his friend, shook his head. “Naw, I can wait.” He fell silent, trying to collect his thoughts but they were slow and dragging as his back ached to lie down. Noticing he’d forgotten to take off his shoes, his jacket, he started to kick one shoe off as he unbuttoned his coat.

“Well, I am pretty tired...” As he tossed his coat onto the other bed, he glanced at his friend. It had meant a lot for him to come here, spend time with him. “Thanks for coming out, I don’t think I can stand to be out alone for some time, I guess I just need to give you a call?” His legs felt like lead as he stood as little as possible while tugging the blanket free. Sitting once again, he kicked his legs up and under the covers, lay on his side, facing Bailey.

“Of course, I have tomorrow off as well. My work schedule this week is three in the afternoon till eleven, so I can keep you company for most of the day while Ivan is at work.” Scooping up the younger man’s shoes and coat, he set them by the door. Smiling, he sat on the unoccupied bed, keeping his movements slow. Damien looked exhausted as he buried himself in the blankets up to his chin. His lids started to close as he snuggled into the mattress with an appreciative sound. Chuckling lightly, the older man watched his friend fade quickly into sleep. Just as he nodded off, he mumbled, “Are you going to tell Ivan everything?” Bailey nodded, even though he couldn’t see it. “If thats alright with you. The first thing I’ll say is how brave you were.” Damien muttered an ‘okay’ before falling silent; within a minute, he was asleep. Taking in the healing wounds, the black eye, his split lip, a spurt of anger ran through Bailey. It snaked its way down his arms, made him clench his fists as they rested on his knees. I don’t know Ivan can stand it... Constantly seeing he traces of abuse, the pain the younger man had to endure. The fact Damien could smile at anything was nothing short of amazing.

                                                                                                                                                       *

 Swearing quietly, Ivan finally pulled into the parking lot of the hotel and parked. Grabbing his backpack, he set the car to lock and got out. The traffic had been busier than he’d thought. Normally at his quitting time, around four-thirty, the streets were hellishly packed. First time to get off at two and its crazy busy... Going up the stair entrance, he grabbed the door and held it for an elderly couple. The woman smiled sweetly at him which he returned, offered the man a nod before hurriedly crossing the lobby. While he waited for the elevator, he wondered what Bailey and his boyfriend had done for the last couple hours. The worry he’d felt at seeing Damien after the awkward goodbye this morning, had faded in hearing how glad the younger was at his phone call.

 Just as he got off on the 10th floor, he nearly smacked his head at his forgetfulness. Forgot to stop by the apartment oh another night on the hard mattress won’t kill me... Fishing the key card out of his bag, he slid it in and opened the door. Just as he stepped through, Bailey appeared, coming from around the very short alcove’s corner. He put a finger to his lips and waved him forward. Expecting it, Ivan left the door open as he quietly moved forwards. Passing the bathroom on his left, he stepped into the main room and saw his sweetheart curled up in bed. Seeing him safe and sound eased some part of his heart that had been tense since he’d left for work. Smiling at his best friend, Ivan started to set his bag down; to his surprise, Bailey gestured for him to go out in the hall. Doing so, sparing a regretful glance at Damien, he waited until the other man closed the door behind them.

 “Whats up? Thanks for coming over, I’d have been biting my nails in worry if he’d gone out with Cody. Probably would’ve chopped off a finger at work by accident, too.” Ivan muttered with the usual twinge of dislike. Damien’s closest friend always struck him as a joker who said everything in half-jest, all seriousness behind the laughing face. Never one to say things directly, Ivan dreaded what Cody would say if Dami ever told him about what happened. Bailey winced just a little, made him clear his mind of nonsense. “Well, Damien got a good dose of what Cody would’ve done.”

 Shaking his head at the immediate question rising from the blond’s mouth, Bailey collected his thoughts for a moment. “First thing to say was he was very brave, it was a hard afternoon. I got here, and it was fine, Damien didn’t seem frightened of me at all, maybe a little uncertain at first. I made sure to put on odorless deodorant and it sure made a difference. But, um...” He paused, inwardly grimacing since he never stammered or hesitated in talking unless he had strong emotions; Ivan knew this and was about to interrupt. “Damien asked me to bring him to the apartment.”

 A jolt of surprise hit Ivan hard, made his breath stop momentarily. The silent pull in his stomach that started ever since Damien had brought up visiting the building, suddenly yanked hard. He’d known the younger man would try, make an attempt, but to have done it so soon... “Oh fuck that must have been so hard for him...Was it as bad as I think?” He thought back to Bailey’s comment about Cody. His eyes narrowed as he tried to understand. “Did something else happen?”

“Well, when we got there, I parked across from the apartment complex. We spent a few minutes in the car, he was already breathing fast and shaking. It, it hurt to see. I think he started to panic, so I touched his shoulder, I felt bad since I didn’t ask. He let me keep it there, wanted to get used to me, then we got out. As we neared the door, he grabbed my arm, then stopped. It must have been at least three minutes he stood there, staring at the apartment’s front door. Thats when some guy came out and Ivan, gods, it was terrible.”

 As Bailey recounted the events that followed, Ivan felt his pulse spike as rage flowed through his veins. After a few quick questions of the man’s appearance, he squeezed his hands closed and grit his teeth. “That would be Wyatt, he lives a few doors down from us, near the foyer. And he knew what had happened and got in your face about it? Fucking asshole, he always was but to blame Dami for being assaulted...” Feeling sick with the pent up anger, Ivan took a deep breath. He noticed faint apprehension on the Brazilian’s face, “Bailey, is there more?”

 Fighting not to nibble on his lower lip, he looked away. “Well, it got real ugly when this Wyatt guy made a cruel joke. I was shocked, he asked why Damien involved the police, then asked if it was because...Well, if the rapist didn’t give him a r-reach around or something...” The black anger that crossed Ivan’s face was frightening to see. Uncomfortably angry himself, Bailey met the blond’s gaze once more with difficulty. “It was then that Dami, he burst into tears, just-” He snapped his fingers, “Before he was just shaking like he couldn’t move, but as soon as Wyatt said that he just cried, didn’t stop for at least five minutes. It was awful, like his heart was breaking into a million pieces. Maybe you should ask Damien about it, Iv, I think its about something that happened to him...” He trailed off, rage prickling his skin as though he was there with Damien being yelled at again. “I was so furious, I would’ve punched the guy in the face but I didn’t want to upset Dami, set him off.”

 Shaking his head, trying to calm down, Ivan touched Bailey’s shoulder, “No, that was good, thank you. Thank you so much for being there with him.” He could tell Bailey had an idea of why the last comment upset his boyfriend, but without express permission to divulge anything, all Ivan said was that he’d talk to Damien about it. Giving his friend a quick hug, he wrung out his hands as he stepped away. His vision had gone red for a long moment at the last part of the retelling; the sense that his body was working double time made his headache return with a vengeance. Next time I see Wyatt I’ll knock his teeth in... His friend’s face cleared, the distaste changing to a faint smile. “When Wyatt left, he let me hold him, I asked first, of course, but I was surprised. Glad too, he said he’d call me again.”

 Wanting badly to be back in his room, Ivan flashed a subdued smile. “I reckon he will. Sorry Bailey, I want to curl up next to him, can you find your way out of here?” His friend clicked his heels with a mock salute, “No problem, I’ll see you around, Ivan.” Waving as his friend took the few strides to the elevator, Ivan stepped in the hotel room and shut the door as quietly as he could.

 Tiptoeing to the table, he set down his backpack, tipped his shoes off. His eyes were on his boyfriend, rolled in a ball on his side, the blankets nestled about him. Long dark locks lay strewn across the pillow, Ivan’s hands longed to gently comb through the soft strands. A wave of emotion ran through him as he imagined how hard it must have been to stand before the apartment building. Being blamed and yelled at probably added to the difficulty... Bailey had remembered exactly what Wyatt had said. Apparently being gay excuses any sort of crime, that being gay means we can’t possibly be raped... It hurt, being written off as excusable, but there were more than a few people who believed that. Once again, Ivan thought of Damien’s mother. Thinking of that hateful woman made his jaw clench as he took his coat off. If she dares to throw that in his face I don’t know what I’d do... Not honestly going to cause her harm, he’d no doubt throw some choice words to her face upon their next meeting.

 I remember that look on her face when Damien brought me home... A little wistful, wishing his parents were still around, able to give advice, the blond took his phone out of his pocket and set the phone to vibrate. Placing it on the bedside table, he hesitated, considering whether to rest on the empty bed. Not touching him, giving him space, Ivan lay on his side, facing the younger man. He stirred, his brows drawing together before smoothing as his blue eyes opened partly. Azure met his smiling forest green gaze; the treasured blue grew more slanted as Damien smiled faintly. “Hey, luv, I tried not to wake you.” The younger wriggled closer in his bundled state, leaned his head forwards a little to press a kiss to his cheek. At the sweet affection, Ivan dimmed his answering bright smile, tentatively returned the gesture. Damien’s cheek had its five o’clock shadow, feeling sand papery under his lips.

 On impulse, his heartbeat jumping, Damien turned his head just the slightest. Their lips met, and gauging the older man’s reaction, he pressed lightly, giving a kiss. His lover’s eyes were adorably startled, before they lost their surprise, sinking into a tender crescent of green as he smiled. A hand came up to touch his cheek, thumb sweeping gently along once as he kissed back. Skin tingling, pleased at being able to initiate something remotely intimate, Damien drew away, felt his lips pull as he smiled in a silly way. “I don’t mind waking to this,” He murmured playfully as he reached up, brushed his own thumb along one of Ivan’s pink cheeks. The blush he’d caused made him grin, “A whole week of sleeping late, curled up with you, I’m looking forward to it.”

 “Me too,” Ivan answered with his own grin, imagining laying in bed during the gray, rainy mornings to come. There was no sense of clouds in the younger man’s mood as he wriggled closer, lifting his head. Understanding, Ivan laid on his back and let his right arm out. A few more adjustments, and Damien snuggled against his side, his head upon his chest. Looping his arm around him, he considered for a moment before pressing another kiss to the top of the younger’s head. Feeling the answering smile against his chest, Ivan smiled, content, before it dimmed. He seems in such a cheery mood...I’d hate to bring it down... Despite knowing how his afternoon went, Ivan wondered what the best way to broach the subject would be.

 Happy, Damien brought up his arm to lightly trace patterns on the older man’s chest. As he took in the warm emotions of being held and feeling safe, his mind drifted to the events of the afternoon. After a moment, he wet his lips. “Bailey told you what we got up to, I suppose.” It wasn’t a question, vaguely he remembered the man asking for permission to divulge. “He did, he said you were very brave.” The older man paused, his free arm wrapping around him, gently giving him a hug. “I think you’re very brave too. It must have been really hard for you to go back.” Some part of his chest relaxed, and with a quiet sigh, Damien mentally flexed, wringing out the tension. “I sorta worried you’d be upset I didn’t go with you. I just, when I get really stressed I start saying stupid things and make assumptions...I hate going all crazy needy around you...” He finished lamely, his face heating at the last time he’d gotten emotional. The simple joy of being around Ivan started to fade, embarrassment dulled his eyes as he closed them. I told him about the skewed pleasure...How I- Even in his mind he couldn’t make himself finish the thought.

“When Bailey told me, the first and only thing I thought of was amazement that you went so soon after...” Picturing the younger man standing there, staring at the front entrance of their apartment building unable to move while his mind raced, Ivan tilted his head and rested his cheek upon his crown. “I’m sorry about what happened with Wyatt...” He trailed off, hating how stiff Damien went in his arms. Part of Ivan warned him not to go further into detail, and as much as he wanted to ask about the comment that made the younger man burst into tears, he merely smoothed his hand along his side.

 Cringing slightly, waiting for the questions, Damien remained still. A few moments passed, and to his surprise, the older man didn’t say anything else. Slowly, almost done unconsciously, the hand around his side left, then gently ran through his hair. Fingers combed through his still neat locks, the feeling pleasant and soothing. Gradually, with a couple silent deep breaths, he relaxed against his lover, no longer cringing. His eyes opened as he asked himself if he was ready to share more. Each time I tell him about it it seems less heavy... Sharing the terror he’d felt, the anguish of going over the event in his mind. “Did Bailey tell you what he said at the end?” Voice quiet, he bit his lip at the answering nod he felt. That Ivan didn’t press him for more, gave him courage to keep talking. “It shocked me, made me feel like everyone somehow knows...” Absurdly he already felt the prickle of tears. “During my, a-attack, the man, h-he-”

 His boyfriend paused, pressing himself firmly against him as if he longed to hide. Stilling his combing fingers, Ivan returned his arm where it was, giving him another hug. A slight tremor ran through the slighter man’s body as he tried to start again. After a couple tries, Damien shook his head as if defeated, slumped against him. “I-It hurt so bad.” Was all he said in a small voice. Not sure what to say, Ivan waited a few seconds before giving his lover a slight squeeze. “You don’t have to say more, I’m always happy to listen at any time.” Sensing his relief, Ivan cleared his throat quietly, knowing he had to ask. “Dami, theres something...Have you, ever thought of doing anything, drastic?”

 The slight quiver in the older man’s voice drew his mind from his poor attempt to recount more of his attack. It wasn’t often that Ivan sounded hesitant about anything; it made him curious. “By that I mean, suicide or-or something...” Blinking in surprise, Damien lifted his head up to look at his lover’s face. “You mean kill myself or something?” His first reaction was to be angry at even being asked, but it was slight regret in Ivan’s green eyes that made him consider the serious question. “No, hasn’t crossed my mind at all. I guess that’s a pretty important thing to make clear.” Some shadow of sadness shimmered in the older man’s eyes as he nodded, looked away. Touching his face, Damien gently had him meet his eyes. “If I ever have the slightest thought of doing something so...drastic, I’d tell you.”

 Forest green sadly gazed back at him, a hint of shrouded emotion in those lovely depths. Concerned, Damien leaned his face close to his lover’s, pressed his lips to his cheek. The arm around him tightened once more, almost desperately. “Alright, luv, thank you. I-I’m a little tired, I think I’ll rest for a bit.” Nodding, not wanting to make him talk about it, Damien laid his head back down, but not before giving his sweetheart a smile. It was returned, full of warmth that ran down to his toes. Getting comfortable, he listened to the older man’s heart and closed his eyes. Within a few minutes, he drifted off again, his body welcoming the rest.

 

 Unable to find sleep after quarter of an hour, Ivan set his mind to lay awake for a while. His meeting with his manager kept playing through his mind. The weary sorrow he’d seen of the usually staid man had left an imprint on him. “For the first month she was coping with all the help we could get her. After that she spiraled down for a couple weeks before she committed suicide.” The soft blur of grief he’d heard in Burbidge’s voice as he spoke, kept resonating in his heart. As he held his dearest, he chewed on his lower lip gently, enjoyed their closeness. Fear had moved into his soul, a very small amount, but it was there as he worried it could be himself saying those words in such a detached way in a few years. “He was doing okay for the first couple months but at some point everything just fell apart. Today is his fourth anniversary since he’d killed himself.”

 Just imagining it brought the sting of tears in his eyes, a fullness in his throat that would stay there as he listened to Damien’s quiet breaths, until sleep finally found him.

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