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!    And a big thank you to Lisa! Your feedback really helps, I'll get to editing the pages and speech sentences! =D Happy New Year everyone! I hope all your holidays were great!      

     

                                                                                                                                    *  

 Movement woke him, dragged him from hazy dreams. Ivan grimaced at the clinging sense of sadness from whatever his mind had been dreaming as he’d slept. Morning light peeked through the closed curtains, made him wonder what time it was. Another sharp twist against him, under him, this time with a whispered plea in a shaking voice. Fully awake, Ivan froze, took in the situation. Oh fuck! At some point in their resting, Damien had turned onto his stomach; and at some point, Ivan had followed suit, draping one leg over the younger’s. Ivan paled, realizing his groin was pressed tightly against one of Damien’s buttocks. Keeping slow, he swallowed nervously as he carefully withdrew from touching him. “I-Ivy, please!” The younger immediately curled up into a ball on his side, his slight form trembling. “I-I can’t! ‘M n-not ready! Please!” 

  The broken apology he heard in his boyfriend’s voice rocked him to his core as his body filled with ice water. He’s dreaming about me oh hell I didn't realize I’d turned over in my sleep... Licking his drying lips, Ivan kept his hands to himself, wanting nothing more than to touch him. “Dami, shh, its okay. Dearest, its only a dream, don’t be scared...” Murmuring softly, Ivan settled into a more comfortable position as he lay, green eyes taking in the younger’s shaking. There probably wasn't a worse way to upset Damien as he slept, than to practically mirror the position he’d been raped in. It was only a guess, but Ivan was certain of it by what he knew of the attack, the bite marks. Rage filled his heart, coursing down his veins, the emotion restless as he imagined his lover weeping, crushed under an unyielding weight. Hands knotting in his hair hot breath as he teased him laughed at him... The younger man’s breathing started to quicken, his jerking movements increasing.  

 As Ivan lightly touched his shoulder, whispered comforts, he made his boiling anger fade. Thoughts of revenge and wishful thinking did nothing to help with the reality of their situation.  “You’re safe, its just a-” With a sharp gasp, Dami tried to sit up, whimpered as if in pain. Worried, Ivan noticed he was still asleep, his blue eyes closed in a wince. Almost every time he sleeps he gets nightmares... “Damien, wake up, sweetie, you’re having a bad dream!” Voice nervous, scared he’d frighten him more, Ivan smoothed his hand along the younger’s upper arm.

 With a start, Damien blinked, looked around in confusion. His eyes fell on the blond, his lover. Heart hammering, he sat up, shielding his body with his arms. About to accuse Ivan with broken promises and violence, he stopped. The panic he’d felt at being stripped, pressed down, melted away as he looked into those green eyes that were full of concern. The older man remained frozen, his hands slightly up to show no harm. Cheeks flushing with embarrassment, Damien lowered his arms, breathing out in a pained sigh. Dreams are getting worse... Realizing he was trembling, he took a few deep breaths, “My nightmares are getting worse, I dreamed you-”  

The younger halted, looked down at the blankets. His mouth parted, closed again as he glanced at him nervously as if gauging his reaction. Ivan wanted to pat his knee in encouragement but kept his hands to himself. Relaxing his shoulders, he made a small smile, waited. Damien tried again, “Y-yesterday, I dreamed you were...F-forcing me to-” A sharp pause, this time with an apologetic glance; he didn't need to say more. Thats why he was upset yesterday morning... Glad to be confided in, the older man edged forwards a bit, uncertain as he opened his arms slightly. The answering smile warmed him as his boyfriend edged closer, wrapped arms around him. Feeling the younger man’s light trembling, he gave him a gentle squeeze. “You were talking in your sleep just now...Did you have the same dream?” At his lover’s nod, he brought up a hand, tousled his hair gently. “You would never do that, but in my dream you said you couldn't wait f-forever. That's what sticks to me the most...”

 Damien fell silent; it was uncomfortable sharing so much, especially when it made him feel so weak and pitiful. As he sat in his lover’s arms, a shimmer of fear ran through him. “Current statistics indicate that about half of all survivors lose their love relationships within a year of sexual assault.” The possibility of losing the best thing he’d ever found alleviated some of the embarrassment. But no all... The arms around him gave him another light squeeze; closing his eyes, he returned the gesture, sinking his cheek against his chest. He takes the rest away... Stroking his fingers down his back, Damien thought back to the times Ivan filled him with emotion so tender it was almost too much to bear; as he reminisced about the last couple days, the times they kissed, his breath deepened.

 Enjoying their embrace, Ivan remained quiet, sensing the younger man in deep thought. Being trusted and confided in such sensitive matters brought a feeling of pride for himself and Damien. One of his lover’s hands ran up and down his back, the movement pleasant until his strokes became slower. A shiver ran through him at the lingering touches, his skin sending electricity throughout his body. Smiling into his hair, he mirrored the younger’s motions, running his hand along Damien’s back. Noticing his lover’s breathing had changed, he started to draw away, worried he’d overstepped a boundary. His lover looked down, bangs falling in his face, hiding it partially. “I know its silly, just a dream...” Damien smiled at him, his cheeks a light pink.

 A tremor of fear settled in his stomach, tensing like a coil - the thought scared him, of being so exposed and vulnerable on the day he decided to try having sex again. A few days after being assaulted and here I am thinking of...There's something wrong with me... Shame and self-blame needled at him, made his cheeks grow hotter. Green stared at him, blinking, warmth and love in those lovely depths. My head and neck hurt my face is bruised and my lips have a cut and I'm torn and hurt so badly but I still want to kiss him I want him to kiss me... He felt safe and loved, still desirable when Ivan kissed him, touched him so reverently.

 Hiding his faint sadness of being dreamed of in such a frightening way, Ivan had made sure his face betrayed none of his emotions. As always, as he waited for the younger man to gather his thoughts, his eyes were clear and happily neutral, encouraging. Azure hesitantly met his gaze, looked over his face; to his surprise, Damien’s breath grew heavier, his flushed face darkening. The slighter man must have seen his curious blink, his blue eyes falling away from his. Sensing his lover was on the verge of saying something important, Ivan remained silent; when the dark-haired man tentatively moved closer, embracing him, he was caught off guard.

 His insides quivered, as if they had silent hiccups as he lightly trembled - Damien wasn't aware he was doing so as he shyly looped his arms around the older man’s back. His lover’s arms gently snaked around his lower back, palms settling on his sides, smoothing lightly along, nearly made him jump as his body was charging with sensitivity. Ear pressed over the blond’s heart, he steeled himself against the hurtful memories he’d bring on when he finally made his intention clear. A long minute passed, before Ivan murmured, startling him. “Dami, you’re shaking...What is it? Want me to let go?” He started to, but the younger stopped him.

 Not wanting to part, with a moment’s hesitation, Damien turned his head, pressed a light kiss upon his lover’s collarbone. Increasingly nervous at his desires, not fully understanding how he could want this, he stopped, unsure if he could keep the flashbacks at bay. Aware he’d changed the atmosphere, drew intimacy by that one kiss, he remained still. The hand running along his back had paused; now it started again, this time more gentle. Almost dizzy at his own boldness, Damien decided he wanted to continue, and laid another kiss, this time slightly higher, near the crook of his neck.

 Slivers of pleasure from the shy kisses trailed down into his groin; disliking it, not wanting to scare his lover, Ivan clenched his jaw. Keeping his hands where they were, he shivered at the next kiss, ghosting up his neck to his ear. “D-Dami!” A husky whisper escaped him, made his face fill with heat. With the smallest of whimpers, the younger man parted his lips and lightly nibbled on the lobe of his ear, his free hand coming to touch his cheek. Breath heavy, Ivan hesitantly touched his hair, carefully sweeping along the back of his neck before gently meshing his fingertips into the silky locks. A shudder rippled through the younger’s slight frame, his breath shaky in his ear. Alight with lust, Ivan reminded himself not to get too lost in this mutual enjoyment.

 Body filling with heat, trickles of pleasure running down his body, Damien traced his tongue along the shell of the blond’s ear. The answering moan was unbelievably satisfying, hearing Ivan’s desire. Fingers slowly combed through his hair, sending more shivers down. Drawing away slightly, he met Ivan’s eyes, blinking as his haze lifted briefly.

 Azure were half-closed, filled with passion and longing; seeing it was more thrilling than anything he remembered feeling. Falling in love, the first confession and everything came second. Ivan stared in a surprised, faint smile. After all he’s been through...Seeing him look at me that way so openly... The emotion in his lover’s eyes slowly cleared as he blinked, as if coming down from some high. Shaking his head minutely, Ivan touched his cheek, stroked his thumb along the smooth mound, “Its okay, luv.” Glad the younger had let go for a minute, he smiled, freed his fingers from Damien’s glossy locks. “You made me shudder...” Bringing up a hand to flick his own ear lightly, he was happy to see his boyfriend smile, give a small laugh. His blue eyes met his easily this time, not as serious; quickly, his gaze dropped to his mouth, snapped back up to his green gaze. Breath still heavy, Ivan flushed, remained still as the younger cautiously inched forwards. Seeing him grow uncertain, the blond asked if he could touch his shoulder.  

 Nodding, his heart beating wildly as he brought his arms slowly around him, staring into his sweetheart’s eyes, Damien tilted his face ever so slightly. The emotions coursing through him were so familiar, the sensations were things he used to enjoy. Trying to focus on how he’d felt, kissing his lover’s neck, Damien felt dizzy again as he brought their lips so close he could feel Ivan’s sharp intake of breath. His skin felt too small, caging the flickering lust he’d felt; spurring himself to move, he closed the distance.

 Nerves singing as their lips met, Ivan hesitated before folding his arms around the slighter man in a loose embrace. Damien’s eyes looked at him, gauging his reaction again as he parted his mouth; freezing, letting him take control, Ivan inwardly groaned as the younger’s tongue danced along his lip. Giving way, he parted his mouth, let the other explore as his blue eyes closed. After a few shy flicks, the older man finally mirrored his actions, just once at first.  

 As their tongues slid against each other, Damien felt his stomach drop as he realized this was parallel to sex - a parting and invading. That one thought clipped the mounting pleasure at the simple touches. With a shock, he realized, being pressed so close to Ivan in their embrace, he was hard. Everything, the rape, the memories, flooded back  and with a gasp he pulled away.

  Abruptly, the slighter man withdrew from his kiss and his embrace, his hair falling into his face, hiding it from view. Putting his hands up slowly, Ivan frowned in concern, “Dami, what is it?” Guessing it was memory, he remained still, worried. His lover shook his head, tugged at the blankets that had fallen from him, draped it over his lap. Pressing his hands down on the coverings, he held it there, his body shaking. Aware something was very wrong, Ivan’s head cleared from its pleasant haze completely. Going over what Damien had done just now, an idea came to mind, and with biting sadness, he struggled to ask. Maybe its better to leave it at that...? Remembering what he’d been told, imagining himself in the situation, the rape and its after effects, he nearly didn’t ask. But being hurt in that way...Of being in the same state and being so scared and humiliated... 

 Too upset to even come up with an excuse, Damien tried to relax. “So hard you must love this, you fucking fag!” Forcing himself to stop shaking, he noticed his breathing was growing rapid and light. Not wanting to panic, he took a few deep breaths before daring to look at his boyfriend. Nervously meeting his green gaze, Damien looked closely as he saw the hesitance in those lovely eyes. “What upset you the most when you realized you had an erection?” A bit surprised at the technical term, with a pitiful attempt of distraction he’d commented on it. The blond shrugged, “Its a serious question, so I figured I should use the right term.” Ivan paused for a moment, face uncertain. “Would you mind, telling me?”

 The soft lilt in Ivan’s voice was what made his eyes prickle with the beginnings of tears. The tone told him it was okay to refuse, made it his choice. Despite the wave of shame and guilt filling his cheeks with a dark blush, he conjured up the words to explain. Swallowing hard, he started, “It makes me feel like I’m back in that r-room.” A spike of fear jolted through him - he might think he’s scaring me! It wasn't Ivan specifically, it was the reactions, natural responses now stained with trauma; with difficulty, he tried to explain this. As his voice shook lightly, Ivan edged forward, offered a hand that he took gratefully.   

  “I think what's worse is that I have memories, they seem so real sometimes but...” The younger man’s hand squeezed his for a moment. “Being, having an erection is like physical evidence...Because I was h-hard during...” Damien trailed off and slowly slumped against him, wrapping an arm around his back. Gently, Ivan did the same, loosely holding his boyfriend. Damien was trembling slightly, his breath suddenly caught as he suddenly clung to him. Worried, Ivan tried to draw away but the younger squeezed his arms around him like a vise. “I-I got on muh-my knees for him...His hands were tilting my head like he was going to s-snap my neck.”   

 Disgusted at himself, Damien fought the growing need to sob as his eyes welled with tears once more. Taking a deep breath, he spoke quickly, trying to share as much as he could before he lost his nerve. “I-I can still feel his hot breath on my neck, h-him hissing in my ear that’d he’d k-kill me! I was so s-scared, h-he was still-” His tears spilled over as he clenched his eyes shut at the agony of remembering; Ivan’s arms tightened around him, a hand running down his back, stroking his hair. “Still in me, crushing me duh-down, Ivan, I had t-to!” Oh god I feel sick it hurts too much please don’t let me go! Wanting to wail, scream and curse at the force of the shame of being treated like a toy, Damien savoured each time Ivan caressed his back, kissed the top of his head.  

 The crushing sorrow in his lover’s voice was nearly unbearable - all Ivan could do was hold him, show him he was there. Whispering lightly into his ear, the blond blinked away his own growing tears as his lover shook. “You’re safe now, luv.” Repeating this like a mantra, he winced as he fought back the image of the scene the younger man was describing. Curiosity running rampant through his mind, he clenched his teeth to keep in the question on the tip of his tongue; however, Damien answered it on his own, confirming his suspicions about what happened next. “I felt so sick, I truh-tried to pretend it was you, just imagine until it stopped! W-when he s-stroked me, I tried to get away again, I b-begged, Ivy, I-I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” Crying freely now, Ivan shook his head, kissed his forehead.  

 Unable to say more, he hid his face, cried into the older man’s chest, tried to hide away from the choking pain. In telling, his body clenched, tensed as it remembered being held in a totally different manner; breathing in the familiar scent of his lover, the man he loved, reassured him this touching was safe.   “Don’t be sorry, luv, nothing t-to be sorry about! I’m so proud of you, Dami, thank you for telling me.” Holding on, weeping, he shut his eyes tight, focused on where he was. Sharing helped, the burden of the trauma lessened slightly each time he revealed more of his attack. At each loving touch Ivan gave him, the fear of being ridiculed or blamed, shrank. I want it to be erased everything erased! The image of their kissing mere minutes ago, remembering how it felt, sent a rush through his body.

 Glad the younger’s sobs were levelling off to a few hiccups, Ivan realized he’d placed kisses without asking as he tried to reassure the slighter man. Disappointed in his lack of self-control, he stilled his hands, merely holding his lover. He seemed to be comforted by it though what if he thinks I'm overstepping his boundaries though? A whirlwind of uncertainty lazily spun in his mind as he stared over the younger’s shoulder, looked across the room they’d been in for a few days. Knowing they’d have to move forward at some point, he grappled with when to bring up the idea of looking for a new apartment, some kind of plan. As he tossed ideas around in his head, Damien started to draw away from his embrace - immediately, Ivan loosened his hold, gave him a faint smile as his lover pulled away, his damp blue eyes staring at him.  

 His heart stopped for a moment at the look in his eyes, just as it had when Damien had stared at him with passion and longing minutes ago. Wanting to respond to it, Ivan inwardly shook his head, terrified to further traumatize or upset his dearest. Expression nervous, the slighter man touched his shoulder, “Ivan...” Voice wavering, he leaned forwards, “I like how kissing you made me feel, c-can I kiss you again?” After Damien’s admission and now this question, Ivan found he couldn't talk, too amazed, partly shocked. Nodding, he wet his lips anxiously, not sure whether to move closer as they sat next to each other.

 “What do you want me to do if you get scared? What do you need me to do?” The near whisper made his stomach quiver in apprehension. Breath already growing heavy, Damien leaned forwards, wanting to melt into his touch again. “Just what you did last time, h-hold me, tell me you’re here.” Despite being scared, he wanted to feel desired, wanted to hear the older man gasp again. Heart hammering as he edged closer, tilted his face up, he stared into those green eyes he fell in love with and started to close the distance. A hand shyly touched his face, held his cheek as their lips touched. Closing his eyes part way, he hesitated, breath catching as he pressed a firm kiss.

  Sparks ran along his nerves, filling him with a pleasant heat and following it, fear. The memories brought up as he described his forced stimulation clashed as he shut his eyes tightly, held the blond’s shoulders. I’m here I’m safe! Holding the older man’s cheeks now, trying to ground himself in the present, Damien parted his lips, darted his tongue out to explore his lover’s mouth. Anxiety seeped into his mind as he tried to resurrect the enjoyment he’d felt in their earlier kissing. “Make another sound and I’ll snap your neck!” Damien winced, remembering how it felt to have a hand under his chin tilted further as another other hand tightly held the top of his head at a painful angle. 

 A tiny part of him was glad that Damien was brave enough to try anything like this, but the rest of him was twisting in terror this would end badly. I’m going to scare him he’ll have a flashback maybe he thinks he has to do this  just calm down don’t do anything let him do what he wants! Remaining neutral as the younger man closed his eyes, pressed their lips together, Ivan tried to relax his tightening shoulders. The earlier pleasure he’d felt, the skin-prickling rush when Damien had let himself enjoy being kissed, was absent this time. Something was tainting their kiss this time. His lover held his face, thumbs stroking his cheeks gently as he parted his mouth, tongue questing.

 The flicks of his tongue weren't hesitant or shy this time, it was more of a desperate gesture. The younger man whimpered, moving a hand to his neck and crushing their mouths together. Blinking, Ivan froze for a moment at the change, the urgency. Gently, he tried to pull away and found Damien’s hold unrelenting at his attempt to extricate himself. “Dami, please stop, you don’t have to...” Muffled slightly as he spoke into their kiss, trying to wriggle his head back from the younger’s firm hold on his neck. Suddenly aware his lover’s breath was coming fast and light, his stomach dropped, “Dami! Are you okay?”  

 More chaotic flashes of pain and intense fear washed over him, strengthening his attempt to banish the memories away. The harder he tried to evoke enjoyment he’d felt at kissing his boyfriend, the more his body felt cold and ill. Suddenly Damien whimpered, hands clamping tightly to his lover as he was suddenly transported back into the room, their apartment.

 It was dark. The cream carpet seemed to glow white as his face stared down at it. His vision was rocking from the vicious thrusting, his head dipping further, closer to the red-spotted carpet under him. Agonizing pain, a hand on his cock, stroking, squeezing so hard it hurt. Revulsion. It was hot, the air chokingly hot as he pleaded, tried once more to get up despite the threat of dying. Can’t let this happen Ivan you’re not Ivan I don’t want to die this it hurts so much!  

 “Its not real, its just a flashback, you’re safe!” Speaking into his hair, smoothing his palm along his back, Ivan held him tightly. Damien’s shaking was frightening to feel as he swayed them gently, trying to coax him out of his memory. “Listen to my voice, darling, its all over!” Self-hate coursed through his veins like a black poison that would settle in his heart, cement his certainty that all he could do was frighten his lover; this new feeling went unnoticed as he focused on trying to calm and reassure. His silent praying was answered when the slighter man clung to him in a death grip, gasping and whimpering. The younger man tried to talk, stammering badly as he shook his head, burying his face into his neck. “Shh, Dami, its over now, its just me.”  

 “I-it didn’t feel like before! I want it to g-go back to the way it was!” The arms around him loosened slightly, ready to let him go; crying and irritated at the constant tears, Damien breathed in his boyfriend’s scent, trying to chase away the clinging flashback. Each invading memory, the debilitating effects seemed to go stronger each time. “It takes time, its only been three days, luv!” His lover asked permission to kiss his forehead; Damien nodded, closing his eyes at the light press just above his brow. “You have all the time in the world, Dami, its over now.” Repeating that last sentence in his head, the younger nodded.  

 After another minute of sitting like this, the dark-haired man quietly asked to lie down again. Happy to, Ivan stood, let the younger get himself under the blankets and curl on his side. At the wave to join him, Ivan clenched his teeth unconsciously, tensed before he followed suit. Irritation buzzed through his skull, so faint it was barely noticeable, but he felt it under his skin as Damien turned around to face him, snuggled up against him as he lay on his side as well. A dark cloud had settled over his mind as he kept his face open and pleasant. I’m not going to try again next time...I only make him feel raped again... As they lay there, eyes closed in an attempt to rest, Damien felt the change in his mood and thought he’d done something wrong.

                                                                                                                                              *                  

 It was only half an hour later when Damien opened his eyes after a quick nap. In the brief rest, he saw that Ivan had shuffled apart from him, not touching him as he lay beside him, facing him. His eyes were half-open, gaze faraway. Uneasy at the minute distant, seeming a lot more than a few inches away, Damien also didn’t like how the blond’s eyes remained faraway when they glanced at him. Maybe he’s sick of comforting me all the time all this crying every minute of the day... Something start to chip away at his heart as he seriously considered this, started to come up with more reasons and let the doubts turn to certainties.  

 In his thinking, as he watched the younger man sleep, Ivan had tried to erase the grey pall over his mind, remembering every article he’d read in his research. Each assault was different, people reacted differently to it - in conclusion to his wool gathering, Ivan decided he ought to have been tremendously grateful to be trusted enough for his lover to even want to touch him, let alone kiss him. Movement beside him caught his eye, but he returned to his thoughts, trying to rid the dirty feeling of dredging up what hurt Damien so much. The younger man suddenly sat up, gave a small sound of discomfort as he readjusted his seating. Snapped into awareness, Ivan sat up too, “Hey, I was thinking too hard.” He gave a light laugh, eyes sadly taking in the way Damien had to find a comfortable position as he sat. “Its ten-thirty, do you want to eat?” 

   His boyfriend shook his head, his face down-turned as some of his tousled hair spilled over his shoulders. Ivan’s mood, which had improved greatly after his grand conclusion, faltered slightly as he sensed something amiss. “Did you have bad dreams, luv?”    Uncomfortable, doubts plaguing him, Damien shook his head again. Thinking back to how stupid he was to try anything at all, how warped to even think of anything intimate, his body started to grow cold. He must think I’m disgusting I’m not even fully healed yet not even quarter of a way healed...Ivy’s mood changed right after my flashback is he upset at me? Turning him on and shutting him down? Feeling more and more dirty, spoiled at his twisted desires, Damien cleared his throat, the action still painful. Gotta act normal...

  “I think I, um, came up with an idea of a new...Home.” The timidness in the younger’s voice pulled at his heart. Somethings changed...Is he upset at revealing so much maybe? Maybe it was bad dreams, or a dozen other possibilities. Carefully he swung his legs over the bed, and came around the mattress, sat a little away from to the younger. “Thats great, what are you thinking of?” His enthusiasm was diminished as he fretted. Damien sneaked a glance at him, his eyes shadowed with sadness.  “I was thinking of my parent’s houseboat, since they’re off in Spain for a year or more.” His sentences were clipped, guarded.  Surprised at the idea, Ivan took a few moments to give it consideration. “That's actually a great idea, it’ll be quite a change though.” Oh is that why- 

 The slowly-enunciated praise barely registered with him as Damien tried to block out the swirling, critical thoughts about himself. The mattress wriggled, jostling him slightly - looking up, he saw Ivan’s face, filled with gentle concern. “You’ll have to call them, are you...Is that why you’re sad?” Grasping at the easy excuse, the younger man nodded. Calling them telling them their son can’t defend himself isn’t a man oh god my mother will probably say that to me... Hearing it from someone he loved - she may have been strongly opinionated but she was still his mother - would be soul crushing. “Dami, sweetheart, can I touch your arm?” Scared to call, to ask and make up a reason then have it confronted and no doubt cry to his parents, Damien hoarsely gave him permission. 

 Lightly resting his hand on his arm, tracing his thumb along the smooth skin, Ivan trailed his hand to clasp gently over the younger’s. He didn’t move to intertwine their fingers, didn’t react, only sat next to him, his face still hidden behind his curtain of hair, shielding him. Feeling disconnected from his lover, the blond let out a sigh. “Its a great idea, but we can, you don’t have to call today, maybe think over it for a couple-” 

 “I’ve thought about it, calling now is best because of the time zones. We can’t stay here forever." Starting to feel numb in the looming prospect of dialing his parents, Damien withdrew his hand from his lover’s, set it on his lap. “C-can you go out for a bit, half an hour or so? I don’t want to cry around you, its p-pathetic.” His voice broke, the self-blame and sense of defilement growing too strong. What is wrong with me? He’s not really upset or tired of comforting me is he? His doubts seemed to lessen as the very real possibility of being ridiculed by his mother in a few minutes. The older man touched his shoulder tentatively, his voice hushed.   

 “Dami, I will if you want me to. Crying though, its not pathetic, sweetheart, is this because of earlier? No, luv, what you’ve been through is horrifying...You could cry twenty-four hours straight for months, I’d never think you as pathetic.”     

 The younger man looked at him, stared at him for a moment before he hesitantly edged closer, shyly gave him a hug. Equally slow, Ivan wrapped his arms around his narrow waist, smiling faintly as his boyfriend tucked his chin over his shoulder. Regret flooded him as it did during the day, a fervent wish to go back and make different choices, create a different outcome than this. Go back and turn down that extra shift stay with him all night keep it from happening I left him it could’ve been the last time I saw him alive... It would've been so easy, the rapist could’ve grabbed him by the neck again and snapped it, snuffed out his life. Left there on our carpet growing cold... As he gently squeezed his arms tighter for a few moments, relishing holding his dearest, Ivan opened his eyes at a thought that occurred to him just now.  

 “You know, you’re better at communicating than me. You tell me really difficult, important things. Like what happened, what scares you... I’m so sorry this happened to you. I felt so sick and angry at myself after we tried kissing that second time, making you have a flashback. I was pissed off at myself, making you feel like you were being assaulted again, I’m not upset with you or anything.” The quiet, grating remorse he heard in the older man’s voice chased away the self-loathing, the sense that he was spoiled. Not as relieved as he thought he’d be, to be vindicated, Damien looked across the room over his lover’s shoulder. I can’t rely on being told this all the time...Swinging from bad thoughts to moderately okay ones maybe I need counselling... Thinking of it made his throat ache at needing help, not able to do it alone. Not sure what was worse - spilling his guts to a complete stranger or paying someone to listen who’ll have him figure things out his own, merely asking questions here and there - Damien squeezed his arms back.  

 “I guess I better call them... It should be seven-thirty in the evening there.” Pulling away, he flashed a small smile at the older man, happy to see it mirrored. Leaving his side for a moment, Ivan retrieved his phone from the bedside table, handed it to him.  “Do you still want me to leave? Its no problem, I’ll head to the shop maybe and-” By taking his hand, threading their fingers together, Ivan trailed off. What if they say no whatever happens don’t tell them exactly what happened, keep it vague keep calm don’t cry! Growing agitated, feeling sick to his stomach, he opened the contacts list and dialed his dad’s number.   

  "Hello? Damien, how are you? Oh, you really should come visit in the summer, its gorgeous here.” After a few rings, his dad’s good-natured voice sent a spike of fear in him. Imagining how Avery Syerson’s voice would sound when he heard the quavering in his son’s voice, Damien started to tremble, his hand shaking as he held the phone to his ear. “Son, are you there? Lousy phone companies...” His dad’s muttering usually made him laugh, but his mouth had gone dry. Glancing desperately at Ivan, he licked his lips, took comfort in the way the blond squeezed his hand with both of his now.   

 “Hey Dad, sounds like a good idea, I haven’t had a vacation in a while.” His false cheerful voice made him wince, made him feel stupid for even trying to sound casual. A pause, a centuries long pause on the other line. “Damien, are you alright? You don’t call often, you sound...Fragile.” Avery Syerson was always apt, like he was gifted with some sense of heightened empathy; Damien barely registered that he was amazed his father could hear it in his one sentence.   

  “I’m okay, i-is Mom around? I have a favour t-to ask you, both...” Cursing himself for stammering, he felt his eyes sting as he imagined how his dad must be feeling, hearing his child sound so mysterious and hurting thousands of miles away.  “Your mother’s resting, we had a busy day of doing nothing...” He heard Avery sit down, his throat clearing softly. “Are you in trouble? What do you need, son?”  

 As Damien listened, his mask started to fall rapidly, as if he were crumbling. Ivan could see it in the way his breathing grew faster, more audible as his chest rose and fell. His shaking had gotten worse, and the way his eyes darted from place to place on the floor. Squeezing his hand, the older man gently tugged his arm, offered to hold him. Damien looked confused for a moment, as if all his energy was for maintaining some semblance of normality. His blue eyes sparked with gratefulness as he wriggled himself back, settling himself right next to Ivan as he looped an arm around his waist. Sitting with their sides pressed against each others, the blond gently slung his arm around the slighter man’s shoulder’s, held his free hand. He’s shaking so bad he’s going to cry...  

  “I wanted to know i-if I can stay on the houseboat here in town, you know, for a new change of scenery?” His façade unravelling fast, Damien spoke quickly as if it’d distract from his obvious distress. “I thought since you and mom are abroad, I could-” Tears welling up as his mind screamed that this was pointless, this nonsensical jabbering, he couldn’t stop. “I’ll pay the rent and utilities, I just want to, I need to...move.” Blinking his vision clear, trying hard not to further the sting of tears in his throat, Damien fell silent, praying to stop his crying there, to not weep.  

 “Son, please tell me whats wrong, you’re scaring me. Whatever it is, your mother and I will do whatever we can to help. So will-” A pause, “Did something happen with you and Ivan? Have you two split up? Can’t be, you two are like ying and yang...” This time his dad’s muttering made him laugh, a sad, weary sound.  “N-no, heh, we’re still together. I-I’m safe and alright, I just want to move from where we live. I’m sorry to sound so-” In the background, he heard plodding footsteps and his heart jumped in his throat.   

 “Avery, give me the phone, I want to speak to our son. Yes, you woke me up, your big booming voice is hard to sleep through.” The louder voice of his mother, Frances Syerson, sent fear rampant through his body, low-grade aversion creeping through his stomach. A scrabbling on the phone, no doubt changing hands. “Damien, how nice of you to call! Its only taken you four months this time, how are things in that dreary city?” The boisterous query sealed his throat, the ringing authority in his mother’s voice rendering him unable to speak. Ivan shook him gently, made him blink and look to his side. “You’re breathing is getting fast, luv, calm down, it’ll be okay.” Green warmly crinkled a faint smile at him as the older man leaned close as he whispered, finishing off with a soft kiss to his cheek. Encouraged, he took a deep breath, tried to keep it together.  

 “That bad, huh? Your father and I decided that June is the best month for you to come visit, I’ve already looked up ticket prices for one. I’m sure your blond sweetheart will be fine without you for a month. Now-” She trailed off, Damien could hear his father quietly explaining his request, and that he wasn’t feeling well. An odd laugh, almost a chortle, escaped Frances Syerson.   

 “He does, does he? Well, I have news for our son. Damien, you father told me you want to move into the houseboat and that you are troubled. Whats been going on? Why do you need to move house? I won’t even consider letting you without a decent explanation.”    

 Growing steadily exhausted at both trying to keep from crying and withstanding the tornado that was his mother, Damien shook his head as if she could see it. Too much, it was too hard to bear and he couldn’t talk anymore, offer a trembling excuse only to have it pounced upon and dissected. His boyfriend turned, tentatively wrapped his free arm around him in a loose, warm embrace. Responding desperately, he curled into his arms, still holding the phone to his ear. “Do you want me to talk, luv?” The hushed murmur in his hair made his tears spill over, an aching gasp as his sobs slowly started to overtake his will to keep quiet.     

 “Damien? Are you crying?” Another long, long pause before Frances asked, barely audible. “Darling, whats happened? Avery, he’s crying, what did he tell you?”    The amazing change in his mother’s voice was staggering. Ashamed and terrified to tell them the truth, Damien slumped against his boyfriend, his arm losing strength as it fell limply over Ivan’s shoulder. A sob choked its way out of him; tensing, he locked his arms around the blond and tried to disappear. I can’t they’ll be so disappointed I can’t tell them! Humiliated at his dismal attempt to remain calm, he squeezed his eyes shut, sniffling as his breath hitched. The sorrow was like a mounting wave, and he found it impossible to stay quiet.     

 “Its okay, sweets, its okay!” Voice quiet, Ivan gave him a quick, firm hug, smoothing his hair. “Do you want me to explain?” Through his growing sobs, Damien shook his head vehemently, tugged at him. “N-not the truth, please! Please, tell them it was a-a-” The younger paused for a moment, “Break in, just a burglary or something. Don’t t-tell them...” His desperate pleading made his own eyes sting as he nodded, gently took the phone from his trembling hand.  

 “Damien? Please, what is it? Tell us something, we can hear you crying!” It was almost surreal, hearing Mrs. Syerson’s voice that wasn’t barking commands or opinionatedly bulldozing everyone else. She’s pleading! Imagine how they must feel being miles away and hearing their son sobbing... Nervous, hoping not to divulge anything private, Ivan cleared his throat.   

 “This is Ivan speaking, ah, Damien’s really shaken up right now.” He didn’t mean to pause, he was just trying to plan how to diffuse the situation without further worrying the Syerson’s.  “Ivan? Where’s Damien, I want to talk to him, whats happened?” Taking a deep breath, Ivan kissed the top of his boyfriend’s head. “He’s here, just very upset. We had a break in over the weekend, it was quite an ordeal. We’re safe, we’re both in a hotel right now. We were thinking of moving, and instead of searching for a new apartment, Damien had the idea to stay in the houseboat, if you allowed it.”  

 “A break-in? Why, thats no reason to burst into tears...Oh, were you two there when it happened? Are you sure you two are safe and alright?” Ivan heard Mr. Syerson speak in hushed tones for a few moments. “Avery says the boat’s rent is paid until next February and, here dear, you explain everything.” His throat growing tight, Ivan smoothed his hand down his boyfriend’s back; Damien had stifled the worst of his sobs as he listened to his parents.   

 “Ivan, its Avery. Yes, I’ll tell him, Frannie. The boat on the lake, which allows people to live-in, is paid until next February. Included in the rent is the electricity, sewage pump outs, water usage. Fortunately, included as well is a number of facilities on the marina such as laundry, a gym, showers, all that fun stuff. By all means, you both are welcome to stay there, you’ve been once before, if I remember right?”    

 Taken aback at this information, mostly from the generosity and secondly, the lack of costs he’d expected, Ivan nodded. Idiot they can’t see it wow this is unbelievable... “Yes...I came to see you last summer, you and your wife. So, everything is already paid for? Would we need to do anything?” Damien struggled to free himself, unwind his arms from him; Ivan immediately withdrew his embrace, smiled at the surprise on the younger man’s face. His cheeks were splotchy from crying, his eyes shimmering still.  

 “Well, in terms of money, no, but you’ll need to talk with the Dockmaster of the marina about moving in. Since Damien is my son, it should be no problem, a matter of filling out a few forms, showing his I.D. Is he alright, is he still there?”     

 Waving for the phone, Damien sniffled, his stomach quivering as it always did after crying. Daring to believe the move would be as easy as it seemed, he took the phone from the older man, sucked in a shaky deep breath and put the phone to his ear. Just before, he flashed the blond a smile, leaned up and gave him a quick kiss. His sweetheart grinned and merely patted his knee. Heartened, Damien cleared his throat as gently as it could. “I-I’m here, Dad. Sorry, its just, the break in was quite a...Quite a scare.” Glancing at his lover, he took his hand, squeezed it. “Ivan and I are fine, but are you sure it’ll be okay? I mean, we can just move in and thats that?” Surely there was something that required money - Damien had figured around eight-hundred a month for maintenance and slip rental fees and the like.  

 “No need to apologize, a home invasion is a terrible ordeal, your mother and I are just glad you two weren’t hurt. As for costs, which I think you’re trying to ask about, don’t fret its all covered until February. The boat is fibreglass so you don’t need to do much in way of maintenance, you remember the few chores that had to be done when we went to sea each summer when you were younger? That's about it. ” Avery Syerson grew silent for a few moments, when he spoke next, his tone was softer. “You know, Damien, your mother and I love you. I know you and Frances have had your disagreements and I know I like to take a light-hearted attitude to everything, but we both love you and will always be here to help you. I’m glad this worked out so nicely, perhaps it’ll ease your mind. I’ll call the Dockmaster right after this call to let them know of the plan.”  

 “Okay, Dad, thank you so much. I love you too, you have no idea how much this eases my mind.” Trying hard to speak without stammering, he grinned. “We’ll try not to burn the boat to ashes, don’t worry. Can I talk to mom?” After quick goodbye, the phone changed hands.   

 “Damien? Are you sure you’re alright? This is all happening very fast, its almost like you’re running away from something.” Biting his lip, Damien imagined divulging his secret in a simple sentence and grimaced immediately. Not willing to share this with anyone yet, not even his parents, he fought to sound sincere. “I’m alright, just tired...We’re in a hotel right now, so leaving here as soon as possible would be ideal. I wanted to thank you for giving me...Ivan and me permission to stay. It really helps.”   

 “I know I can be, difficult, but I do love you, Damien. I might have been too harsh on your choices but from the sounds of it, you and Ivan are quite a partnership. Its been four years now, since you two got together? Well, I’m glad he’s there with you, you gave me the biggest scare earlier. Don’t cry, its not the end of the world.”   

 “I love you too, mom...I’ve got to eat breakfast now, so I’ll call you two again real soon. Thanks again.” He heard his father’s voice in the background, a cheery farewell. Smiling, he responded with his own until the phone line went dead. Tiredly, he snapped the phone closed, leaned over to set it on the bedside table an arm’s reach away. I feel so tired again I’ll sleep myself to death... A headache had started at the back of his head, slowly making its way to his temples as headaches always did. “I’m scared to believe it’ll be that easy to move...Have you ever lived on a boat before?” Looking over, he saw the blond shake his head with a smile.  

 “No, but it’ll be a nice change of pace. The lake is central in the city, isn’t it? This is amazing, we both work within thirty minutes of the marina.” Planning as he usually did, Ivan grinned at the younger man, “I couldn’t have come up with an idea half as good as yours. Nice thinking, Dami.” He halted, remembering the swift change in Mrs. Syerson’s manner. “I was sort of shocked to hear the switch of your mom’s attitude...” At this comment, the younger man ducked his head, silently shuffled over to embrace him. As he wrapped arms around him once more, Ivan noticed Damien’s body was hot, unusually so. Frowning, Ivan set a hand upon his forehead.  

 “I know, I was pretty shocked too...I always remember her as this unyielding whirlwind, even as a kid.” Hearing his mother’s concern, the moment he started crying, had revealed a side to Frances Syerson he’d never seen before, not since he was five or six years old. He readjusted himself as he snugly sat next to his boyfriend, cheek pressed against his chest. His head clanged dully, almost feeling faint. I don’t feel so well, like I can’t get enough air... Feeling exhausted, he closed his eyes against the way the room started to spin just a little. Warm hands gently held him, the security lulling him to the beginnings of sleep. “I want to sleep, I’m so tired...”  

 “No doubt that sapped all your energy, hey, you should eat something so you can have your meds.” Speaking quietly, Ivan tucked his chin atop of the younger’s head, smiled as his lover curled closer. “Dami, here, let me grab a banana or something.” Unwrapping himself from the slighter man, he took the few steps to the mini fridge, glanced over to see his boyfriend moving to lie down. “Hey, don’t you dare!” Damien chuckled tiredly as he wriggled under the blankets, tugged the covers up to his chin as he lay on his side. Seeing the top of his dark head, the only visible part of him, Ivan laughed as he turned, kicked the fridge closed with a foot.  

 Hearing movement, Damien opened his eyes to see Ivan’s face a foot away from his, a mock pout on his scruffy face. Laughing he shook his head, “Nope, too tired, I’m not hungry anyway.” Honestly not wanting to eat, he let out a sigh and sat up, knowing he’d pay for it later. Got to take care of myself properly... Rolling his eyes, he swiped the fruit from the older man’s hand and took three big bites. His stomach growled in protest, but he managed to eat the whole thing. Taking the antibiotics from his boyfriend, he leaned forward to kiss his cheek and sat back, shaking a pill out.   

 “Can you lie down with me? You must be getting sick of sleeping all the time, but I like you being close." Tossing the banana in the trash can by the fridge, Ivan stretched his arms above his head, twisted his back just a little. “No, the resting is pretty helpful.” Deciding it wasn’t smart to add that the attack affected him greatly and caused a lot of stress, Ivan excused himself to the bathroom. Upon coming back, Damien laughingly excused himself as well.  

 Lying on his side, waiting for the younger to return, Ivan stared out the window at the clear, frosty blue skies. The prospect of living rent-free for nearly a year, was too good to be true. Now don’t jinx it it may actually work... Perhaps with the money they saved, maybe Damien could get therapy, counselling of some sort. All this thinking made him tired as well, so many alternative ideas flooding his mind. Whatever he needs to recover from this trauma... Rather than begrudge the younger for causing such a wave in their lives, as Damien came into view, Ivan thought of the long road ahead and tiredly smiled. It’d be a long process, with more tears and outbursts, maybe even some shouting, but being together and coming out the other side was a gratifying outcome to envision. Lying on his back, he closed his eyes as the younger shuffled closer on his side, rested his head on his chest.   

 No words were spoken, just a silent cuddling as they both quickly fell asleep.      

                                                                                                                                           *

 



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