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!

This was a tough chapter to write but after this chapter, the story will makes it way to a happy ending... I hope, I still haven’t pictured how it’ll go, not that far anyway ^^;

Thank you for reading and reviewing! I’ll be updating a lot more now that my Calgary Expo convention is over and I’m back home now!

*


The marina was quiet, save for the odd seagull cry. Sitting alone on the houseboat’s covered porch, Damien numbly looked out over the calm lake, trying to calm down. The morning had been eaten away in his overwhelming embarrassment and shame. Ivan so wanted to stay but I can’t I want to be alone fuck this is an absolute nightmare! The blond had dropped him off at the marina after his fleeing from the bookstore - as much as Damien had wanted Ivan to take another week off, he couldn't’t bear the idea. Of both of us at home both walking on eggshells the glaringly obvious reason that its my fault we’re in this... Sucking in a deep breath, he tried once more to ease down his tense body as he sat in his lawn chair. All the while, his eyes tiredly tried to squeeze more tears free. 

 Bowing his head, his shoulders shook as he touched his cheek. He was so tired, his body so weary the exhaustion clanged like a headache at each movement. Everyone at work knows they’ll think of it when they see me every time they talk to me their minds will be saying he was raped taken used... A shaking sob forced its way past his sore throat, sore from keeping in his sorrow. Bringing up his other hand, he covered his eyes and crumpled forward, his elbows digging into his healing knees. Ivan must think that every time he sees me touches me I feel so disgusting how can he stand it?  As he started to really cry, his heart ached for his parents. The need was strong it made his crying more bitter as he wept into his hands. I want my mom and dad I just need them oh god what will they say if I tell them will they be disappointed in me? 

*

 Hitting the lock button on his car key fob, Bailey turned and followed the stone path through the neatly trimmed bushes and flowering trees. Leaving the parking area, he passed through the hedges and saw the boat marina before him. It was impressive, not extravagant but definitely spoke of money. Despite being here once before, he took a few seconds to admire the view before looking to the left dock and started making his way over. Slightly nervous, unsure how welcome he’d be, Bailey felt his chest tighten at the earlier phone call he’d received in the day. “Bailey, its Ivan, oh fuck things have gone pear-shaped at Damien’s work. Cody found out about what happened and told EVERYONE at work, I seriously wanted to knock him out and...Fuck it, it doesn’t matter. Dami’s got another week off, I wanted to as well but he insisted on me going to work. He’s gone back home, we have a houseboat called the Ad Astra, its at the City Lake Central Marina on the far left side of the dock, as far as you can on, on the end. I know you start work at 6PM this week, can you please go stop by and see him? He was so upset this morning, god, I can’t imagine how badly this shook him up...Please, just be with him, if he gets angry you’re over there, he won’t mean anything by it. I’ll be home at 4:30, thank you so much, Bailey.”

 Walking past the different boats docked on either side of him, Bailey looked over to the last one on the end - it was a little aways from the closest boat. Partly curious to what Damien’s parents did for living to afford such lodgings, he was grateful for Ivan to remind him of where exactly he was going. Despite calling Damien a couple times, he’d gone to voicemail after a few rings each time. I suppose he’s left his phone somewhere maybe just wants to be left alone... As he walked the distance Bailey imagined how he’d feel if the same had happened to himself. 

 I’d be hurt everywhere mind, soul, heart, pride especially pride.... Hurt from being forcibly outted, something so personal and private, something you wanted to hide away from the light of day. A smile swept over his face, creasing the growing eye lines as he thought of his mother. Minha mãe...My mother she loved me more when I told her I was interested in men... And if his mother loved him all the more with this confusing admission, he blazed through society’s opinions without a care. As he neared the last stretch to the houseboat, he wondered why Damien was so agonized about Ivan’s opinion of him, especially this past weekend. Ivan never disclosed anything personal about Damien, but he’d sadly told him over the phone that it hurt when the younger man would panic sometimes, say he’d give up or was disgusted with him. “I know theres a lot of pain and guilt and shame with all this but when he says things like that does he...It sounds stupid, but I wonder if he really believes it of me, if he thinks me that low and fair-weathered.” 

 Perhaps it was the nature of the crime that prompted Damien to fret over his relationship, but Bailey thought having Ivan by his side he could champion over anything. Of course I’ve never been raped or assaulted maybe it just comes with all the trauma... Pried from his deep thoughts, Bailey really looked ahead, rather than just at the lake beyond, and saw his friend hunched over in his chair on the houseboat deck. Damien obviously making an effort to keep quiet, Bailey could hear the heartbreak in the few sobs that escaped the younger man. It wrenched something in his chest to see him in pain and slowing his steps, fearful to be turned away, stopped fully. Not wanting to disturb him in what looked to be a private moment, Bailey considered turning around and coming back in a little while before the younger man looked up and noticed him. 

 Frozen, Bailey felt his face heat as he was examined. Certain he’d be turned away, he steeled himself for anger and waited. Damien sniffled a couple times, wiped at his flushed face. Sensing his embarrassment, Bailey made an apologetic smile. “I can come back later...?”

 Startled by the presence of someone else, Damien let out a deep breath when he saw it was Bailey. It was a tiresome game - whatever current situation reminded him of his assault. I thought I was alone in the apartment before- With ease this time, he cut off his thoughts, made him marginally happy at this accomplishment. His chest hurt from keeping in his sobs that weren’t finished with him yet. Shaking his head, he leaned up from leaning on his knees, sat up straight. “No, its fine. I-I guess Ivan asked you to come by.” His whole body went hot at the memory of the morning’s incident, and he looked away, not able to meet the other man’s eyes. The knowledge of his secret was surely a stain that everyone could see. 

 

 “He did...I’m sorry about what happened this morning.” Standing on the dock still, Bailey looked away as well, the uncertainty of dealing with a situation like this, difficult. A halted sob made the younger man jerk slightly, his face working at keeping it in. Watching as his friend struggled to stop his crying was painful, Bailey was quick to reassure that it was alright to be upset. His words seemed to make it worse; Damien bowed his head, leaning elbows on his knees once more as he started to weep once more. Apologizing profusely, scared he’d done something wrong, Bailey felt winded as he listened to the younger man’s confiding. 

 Grief was boiling, a rupturing blistering heat. Perhaps it was everything that had happened after his rape as well as the event, but the sorrow portrayed in every television show or movie about abuse was wrong. Damien cried deeply, not a soft blur of sadness but a unending ocean of lava. It scalded him, destroyed everything it touched and it all burned in his heart. Dimly, he heard his friend apologize, fret he’d said something upsetting. Shaking his head, trying to explain between the sobs forced from his body, Damien managed to stutter, “I-I want my par-parents. I want muh-my mom and dad so bad!” 

 Not sure why, Bailey felt his eyes sting with tears, and didn’t care for the reason. Hesitating for a moment, he stepped onto the boat’s deck and pulled himself up onto the gently rocking surface. The younger man didn’t notice, too busy crying into his hands; wanting to comfort, afraid to overstep any boundaries, the older man sat himself on the lawnchair next to his. His crying is so raw it hurts to hear how can Ivan bear hearing the sorrow...? Taking a chance, he carefully reached his arm out and gently laid his hand on the younger’s shaking shoulder. Damien started, looked up from his hands, his face red, cheeks streaming with tears. 

 Veering away from the touch, wincing as it stirred the edge of one of his bitemark wounds, Damien looked through his tears to see Bailey. The older man withdrew his hand immediately, quietly apologized. It occurred to Damien that before his assault, he’d never really seen Bailey be anything aside from loud and overzealous. He was in constant movement and always noticeable in presence and sound. Sucking in a shaking breath, guessing the older man was altering his habits for his benefit, Damien said it was okay and let his shoulder be held. Grateful to not be crying here alone, like a ghost separated from the world, he even managed to shift his chair a little closer, let the older man’s arm sling around his shoulders in a heavy, comforting manner. It was all he could allow - it gave him space and comfort that he had a friend willing to listen to him cry and vent. 

 Damien spoke of the humiliation in the morning, of being cheated of yet another choice, the choice to disclose his secret. The guilt that flared in him every time a new problem occurred, spoke of his fear of Ivan getting tired of all the drama. And the most difficult was his fear of being ridiculed or written off if he told his parents. Bailey listened carefully, offered a few words of advice here and there and asked a couple questions that hoped would steer a few concerns in a different, positive outlook. After a while, his friend’s crying ceased, and a comfortable silence grew as they stared out over the lake. A couple minutes passed when the younger man started to tremble under his arm. 

 “What is it, are you okay?” Bailey’s quiet voice broke through his downward spiral of thoughts; Damien blinked and tried to stop his shaking. His emotions teetered on the edge - in his sorrow he’d talked freely about what had been bothering him. Being so open about his biggest concerns, his face filled with heat. He won’t laugh or say its stupid to worry... A memory tried to flare to life, brought on by him being alone with someone, a man. With a wince, he shut down the fear and shook his head. Feeling the other man start to withdraw his looping arm, Damien settled closer, not wanting the comforting weight to leave him. Feeling safe, too embarrassed to say it outloud, he gave an inaudible sigh of relief when Bailey remained as he was. His words trying to stick in his throat, “I’m just glad I’m not alone here, at home. I’m not sure if I-Ivan told you, but-”

 The younger man stopped short, his head dropping low as if he’d lost his courage. Remaining still, Bailey debated the decision for a moment, then patted his friend’s shoulder. Damien quirked a small smile, looking at him briefly before resuming is gaze at the boat’s deck. Partially embracing the younger man, it occurred to Bailey how slight Damien, his lithe figure and build. He never seemed small he was always in motion maybe it was his confidence and zest that made him seem...more... Sighing suddenly, Damien glanced at him warily, his face distraught. “The police said there was evidence that, um, the attacker was t-targeting me. If they staked out the apartment, what if they find me here? O-or at work? I didn’t really think of that until a couple days ago. I mean, it crossed my mind, but I really thought about it in the last couple days...”

 Damien’s voice had gotten higher, a scared kind of wheeze almost; Bailey couldn’t imagine the fear of not knowing. Pressing them closer for a few seconds, in a sort of hug, the younger man allowed it, leaned into the touch. “I don’t remember how I was before all this started, all I do is cry and whine and it pisses me off sometimes. After all the shock I’m just so tired of being so weak, I’m off work for another week. A week to just sit around and mope but I’m too worried of what everyone at work will say, what they’ll think of me. Picturing me all hurt and being r-raped.” 

 Irritably, Damien nearly threw off Bailey’s arm off his shoulders, but he remained as he was. Simmering with restlessness, he let out a sound of frustration. It was odd, confiding in Ivan’s friend, his new friend; trying to calm his rising anxiety, he wiped at his drying eyes. “Thinking of it makes me want to throw your arm off me, try to fix myself alone without help. B-but I need it, I need the comfort, it tells me I’m still worth t-touching...” 

 Surprised at the bitterness biting in the younger man’s voice, Bailey opened his mouth, closed it. Ivan had told him Damien was afraid he’d become tiresome and bothersome - hearing him talk like this seemed to confirm it. Its barely been a week and a half since it happened anyone would need comfort hell I’d need to be held for a couple weeks at least if I was attacked so viciously... The Damien he knew wouldn’t scoff at needing help; Bailey guessed the feelings of helplessness and loss of control most likely exacerbated the trauma. Clearing his throat gently, the Brazilian spoke quietly as he looked out to the lake. “Its okay to need help.” 

 Simple and without any chiding tones, that one sentence lessened his brooding mood. Damien didn’t reply, didn’t know what to say to that. Much less uncomfortable talking like this, he watched the waves gently lapping and tried to turn his thoughts around without success. Thinking of how weak he was to be here instead of working, of hiding and avoiding people, all made him more certain he’d never tell his parents. A man makes the best of what he has shouldn’t complain when there’s nothing anyone can do anyway... Them knowing wouldn’t help, it would make him feel so much weaker and babyish. Yeah right call them up and say mommy daddy I need youuuu... With a start, Damien blinked out of these damaging thoughts, felt sick as he mocked himself, belittled himself. God I’m so messed up I’m hopeless... 

 It occurred to him that this afternoon was his first therapy session - his stomach went cold as he pictured himself and Ivan sitting with a complete stranger and talking so honestly. Nervous at the prospect, Damien settled closer to his friend. Its supposed to help just get through the first session don’t even talk about the assault with Ivan there just get used to being with the therapist therapy will make everything better... Pinning all his hopes on the appointment, hopeful it’d start his healing process, he waited a few minutes, enjoying the comfort, before suggesting they go in.   

 *

 Finally off work, Ivan drummed his hands along the steering wheel, glanced at the clock. Work had been agonizingly slow his head ached from the constant tension in his shoulders. All day he’d been unable to get rid of the shocked, slapped expression on Damien’s face when they had arrived at his work. Once more bristling anger thrummed down his arms, made him clench the wheel as he waited for the light to turn. This anger was familiar, it burned like a low steady fire in his heart, ready to flare. It blazed to an inferno when he thought of the rapist, the living nightmare that caused such much pain and agony for Damien, for himself. It rippled through them, affected everyone that knew them - this fire crackled merrily at the thought of Cody.

 Cody. He’d never truly liked the guy, he was a joker above all things. Joked and pushed things then had the nerve to get upset when someone called him out on something. His anger at the rapist was stoked by Cody’s actions because the man had stolen another choice Damien had. Stripped him of his trust, violated his well being by forcibly being outted at work. Stepping on the gas a little too hard, Ivan cursed and tried to calm himself. God maybe therapy will help me with this growing anger issue... Not quite sure when it started, perhaps it was during the weekend with Damien’s illness. As he neared the marina Ivan easily brought forward the image of his boyfriend weeping inconsolably as he lay in his bed, his body burning with his fever. Picturing it now made him so angry, angry at being helpless and useless in aiding his lover. 

 Arriving at the marina parking lot, Ivan got out, locked up the car and walked briskly to the houseboat. While he glanced at his watch, knowing their appointment was fast approaching, he tried to calm down his quelling emotions and made his way along the docks. Reaching the Ad Astra, he knocked on the door and announced himself before entering. As he kicked off his shoes, he saw Bailey’s black boots on the entrance rug; surprised, not expecting him to stay over this long, Ivan went into the kitchen and looked around. 

 Sitting at the dining table was Bailey and Damien, squabbling over a Scrabble game. His lover looked over to him, smiled tiredly. Returning it, Ivan took his coat off, tossed it to his side onto the couch. Can’t take my eyes off him... All day he’d wanted to see his boyfriend, tell him he was sorry about the mornings incident, be with him. Bailey turned around in his chair, flashed him a grin.

 “Yo!” The Brazilian cheered out his favorite slang, the first he’d ever learned when he’d moved here years ago. “Games over since Iv’s here so this doesn’t count as a win for you, Dami!” Noticing Bailey was half-shouting like he usually did, Ivan only saw an amused grin on Damien’s face. Happily surprised at this, the blond crossed over and hunkered down, gave the younger man a fond hug. “Hey darling...” It wasn’t often the raven-haired man called him sweet words, it was mostly his thing; but when Damien did, Ivan’s heart always skipped a beat. Kissing his cheek, Ivan smiled, whispered that he missed him before standing up. The younger man remained close, his face near his waist as he cuddled against his side. Bringing an arm around his shoulders, Ivan felt his rampant restlessness in his body drain away. 

 With his arm looped around the small of Ivan’s back, Damien gave him a small squeeze. The big smile that has crossed the older man’s face when their eyes met warmed him down to his toes. As his boyfriend and Bailey chatted about small matters, he merely closed his eyes for a few moments, enjoying the smoothing palm along his shoulder. The earlier anxiety he’d felt, scared Ivan would be in a mood about the day’s early drama, melted away. There's no need to talk about it its happened not much to be done about it... Except deal with it; thinking of this, Damien glanced at the clock on the wall across from him, behind Bailey and saw 5‘o-clock was fast approaching. 

 I should know I’ve been glancing at it every few minutes... The Scrabble game and their late lunch had distracted him partially - he was more interested in seeing Ivan again, take in the unshakable sense of security he brought. A couple times during the afternoon an errant thought crossed his mind, mostly of having someone, a man, in the house who wasn’t Ivan. The worst was when he’d been slicing bread for sandwiches and the Brazilian had come up behind him, grabbed a couple mugs from the cupboard next to him for tea. His body had froze, stopped in mid-slice as he tensed, expecting rough fingers to knot in his hair, expected his legs to be kicked open and splayed. 

 Watching Bailey across from him laugh, chatter about his work schedule this week, his dark eyes met his and they crinkled for just a moment in a fond smile. After startling him, the older man had stepped away, had apologized quietly, reassured him into taking calming breaths. I don’t have to tell him exactly what happened he’s already starting to piece things together... Shame prickled over his skin at the thought; ducking his head briefly, Damien let his breath out in a sigh and stood, still cuddled against Ivan’s side. He hasn’t treated me any differently except maybe let me win at the game... At his lover’s arm loosely wrapping around his waist, he smiled and returned it. Seeing a break in their conversation, he swallowed his sore throat - it was constantly sore from his frequent crying bouts. 

 “Its close to five, we better get going, Ivan.” Speaking quietly, a hint of wavering in his voice, the younger man flashed him a grateful smile. “Thanks so much for spending the day with me...It means a lot.” Bailey smiled at the heavy and simple weight of appreciation he heard in his friend’s voice. Tugging his coat off of his chair, he blinked in surprise when Damien took a step towards him, an arm out. There was uncertainty in his face, but he touched his arm, faltering a moment before hugging him for a moment; afraid to startle him, Bailey gave him the barest of squeezes and withdrew his arm from around his shoulders. The younger man stepped away, took the couple steps back to Ivan’s side, shrugging the blond’s shoulder around him once more. His expression looks strained like its ready to crumple... A few moments of silence passed, and sensing it was the best idea, Bailey pulled his coat on and bid the two of them goodbye.

 After Bailey left, Ivan felt his boyfriend seem to sag against him. Concerned, Ivan moved to pull away only to be refused, held tighter. “Hey...Was it okay having him here? Did he-” Damien shook his head and let him go, stood alone. He offered a faint, brittle smile as he hugged his own arms, his bangs falling in his eyes. 

“No, it was fine, I’m actually glad he was here so I wasn’t alone.”

Noticing he was changed into a long-sleeve button shirt and black jeans, his hair tied back in a low ponytail, Ivan complimented him on his appearance. The younger man flashed a brighter smile, it touched his eyes this time. As Ivan gestured an 'after you’, he smiled as he took his lover’s offered hand. While walking along the docks, he wondered, nervously, how the session was going to go. They both had looked up Dr. Meramec’s suggested therapists on the laptop before the weekend, reading, wondering aloud. His biggest concern was how to even start what the first session would be like or the second... Perhaps his neat, conservative dress spoke of his anxiety, his desire to make a good impression. 

 And I told him this first session is the key to healing oh god I hope it goes well... As he started the car, Ivan looked over to his sweetheart and squeezed their holding hands, asked how he was doing. Damien looked over to him, managed a smile.

 “I-I’m really nervous, what if they make me talk about it immediately? O-or will they blame me? I don’t know how its going to go, that scares me. I need to know, the not knowing...” Damien trailed off, let out a deep breath, trying not to let all his anxiousness overwhelm his words. The older man hadn’t said anything, just watched him with an open, attentive expression. A wave of fondness swept him and with a smile Damien leaned over, offered his boyfriend a kiss. Seeing the returning smile break over his face, his lips tingled as Ivan sealed their lips gently. Drawing away, the younger man settled back into his seat, still holding his lover’s hand. 

“Thank you for coming with me...I wouldn’t be able to go, think of starting this, without you. How are you doing?”

“I’m a bit nervous too, but I’m sure it’ll go well. We should be there a little early, don’t forget to buckle up, sweets.”

*

 With ten minutes to spare, they pulled up to the large building, drove up a block and found a parking spot. As they walked briskly, their hands found each other once more and together they walked through the front door. Consulting the sign displayed before them, they walked into the little corridor with elevators and took the next available one to the third floor. While waiting in the lift, Ivan gently tugged the younger man into a loose hug, whispered reassurances to his growing trembles. Damien’s arms twined around him, clung to him as if he were the only thing keeping him from drifting away. For the second time since they started on their trip to this place, Damien quietly suggested they skip the appointment, go back home. Kissing the top of his head, Ivan encouraged him to try it just once, imagine it was a one time deal, compartmentalizing it into just one step rather than the winding road of recovery. The elevator dinged, and withdrawing, Damien heaved a deep breath and nodded.

 The corridor they were now in split off left to right - following the sign, Ivan led the way, passed two doors and came to a one with a fancy nameplate with Joseph Barlton stamped on it. Opening the door, he offered his hand and squeezed his boyfriend’s fingers gently as they walked in together. They came into a waiting room with a low coffee table surrounded by half a dozen chairs; in the far side of the wall was an aquarium, bubbling quietly. A marble slab desk was to their right, where a woman, her dark curly hair in a stylish bun, was standing, writing something. As Damien looked around, Ivan saw her eyes grow wide as she finally looked up from her work, see her expression pale as her gaze darted down to their holding hands. Apprehensive for no reason, Ivan set his chin, raised it in part defiance at the judgmental twitch he saw on her lips. We're no strangers to that twitch... Damien didn’t seem to notice, as he cleared his throat, told his name and that he had an appointment.

 Damien bit the inside of his cheek, his heart pounding as he tried to loosen the knot in his stomach. He wanted to run, leave this sterile, cheerless room. The paintings on the wall were lined perfectly, the magazines on the coffee table stacked neatly, the chairs spaced evenly. It was like a display in a catalogue, looked perfect but lacked something. Pulling himself from his thoughts, he looked to see the woman looking down at their feet for some reason, her face working in a sort of grimace. Unfazed, too numb to wonder when he was set on getting through this ordeal, Damien started to repeat himself, gripping his sweetheart’s hand.

 “Oh, Mr. Barlton, he um-” The receptionist stumbled over her words, her hands wringing. Ivan felt the beginnings of distress. Somethings wrong we should go home like he said... Puzzled at the thought, passing it off as nerves, he remained watching the amusing fluster the woman was in. “Mr. Barlton has decided to leave early, I’m dreadfully sorry. Perhaps-” She was cut off when an intercom on the desk crackled to life.

“Olivia, whenever this Syerson fellow arrives please send him in, I’m finished the paperwork from last session now.” 

 Feeling numb, Damien barely understood the woman’s mumbling but the man’s voice sliced through his haze. Jumping slightly as if he was just called up for the next karaoke he frequented with his friends, he fought to keep his trembling hidden as he tightened his hand around Ivan’s. It’ll go fine its going to help me just calm down! The receptionist came around the desk, a hand reaching up to touch her blouse collar, her mouth moving and dimly he heard “way...Follow me.” As he started to follow her, his arm stretched out, kept him from following as instructed. Looking back and up at his boyfriend, Damien saw something in Ivan’s green eyes that made him leave his scattered thoughts for a moment. Asking what was wrong, he saw the blond frown, shake his head. “Dami, I-” The older man halted, looking down the small hall the woman had gone down. “Never mind, sweetheart, lets go.” 

 From the moment they stepped into the office, Ivan felt the atmosphere drop so suddenly it was like a physical hit. The receptionist had ushered them in and closed the door behind them. In those few seconds, Ivan saw this Joseph Barlton look up from his desk and his face contort in a cringe. His stomach dropping, immediately guessing why the woman was so distressed, his throat seemed to close. He felt the hate, the discounted feeling he got when examined by homophobic people and now he was getting a full dose of it. Remembering he wasn’t alone, he nearly jumped, looked anxiously to see if Damien had noticed it too. His sweetheart was shaking finely, looking around the office, not seeing. Get out of here get him out of here! But he noticed Barlton reining himself under control, his demeanor growing more pleasant. But his eyes are hard and icy what am I doing just leave with Damien now!

 “What brings you to my office?” Wincing at the brisk question, the irritated tone, Damien remained standing where he was. All his tries to calm and he was nearly trembling out of his skin. Not being invited to sit down yet, he stood and tried to explain. This office was too neat as well, everything arranged the right way but didn’t look right. Glancing at Ivan he licked his dry lips, met the therapist’s ungentle gaze. Fear bloomed in his chest at seeing those hard blue eyes staring back at him; he went over in his head if he’d done anything to deserve this brusque manner. Realizing how badly he was shaking, he shuffled closer and took a seat, not registering how Ivan tugged him from doing so. The therapist stood suddenly, walked to his window, turned his back on him. 

“Dami, honey-”

“I-I’m here becah-because...I told your re-receptionist, didn’t she-” The younger man stopped short, hugged his chest with his free arm. Ivan felt his hand gripping his almost painfully. Dragging the nearby chair, he saw next to his lover. His jaw setting in bristling anger, he stared at Barlton’s back for a few seconds before asking if there was a problem. The man, mid-forties with a crop of dark brown hair, glasses, turned. “You haven’t introduced yourself, or let us. I think it will set Damien at ease if you faced us.” It seemed to work, reminding the man it was his job to establish a rapport, a working relationship. Inside his mind was still screaming that leaving was the best option, but this was a challenge to leave would be backing down. We’re dealing with trauma so much pain and shame and we sure as hell aren’t dealing with some bigot... They got through the introductions, but it was meaningless since Ivan had already decided they weren’t ever returning. But some fiery part of him refused to leave before the hour was up, they were all in against this therapist.

 The sliver clock on the wall, a beautiful face with roman numerals etched on it, ticked away another minute but Damien couldn’t find where to start. After saying his name, his planned questions and simple sentences escaped him completely. Just say why you’re here its only one sentence remember when I told Ivy the important things how much better I felt after getting it out just start talking... But it was humiliating, embarrassing to admit he was overpowered, forced to do things against his will. Tears stung in his eyes and he bowed his head. “I-I was-” The ugly word, rape, he couldn’t say it. It held so much weight and pain he chose the lesser word. “I was assaulted...A-almost two weeks ago.” 

 Damien’s voice broke on the last word, high and thin as he ducked his head once more, fighting back tears. Ivan parted their hands and leaned closer, wrapped an arm around his shaking shoulders. “Oh darling, its okay, its-”

 “Alright, please leave.” The unyielding harshness of Joseph Barlton’s voice made Damien look up, unsure he heard right in his shame. Something in his chest jerked, left him breathless as he numbly tried to understand. Ivan’s arm around him tightened almost uncomfortably.

 “No, we’re here to see you so you can help us, that is what a therapist does. Do you know much courage it took for Damien to come here?”

“I’m sorry but I can’t help you. Get out of my office.”  

 Anger rippled through his chest, and Ivan stood, hands clenching in fists as he stared at the fancy suit-wearing therapist who examined the papers on his desk before him in a disinterested manner. Beside him, he heard his boyfriend stammer out an apology in a teary voice. Turning immediately, Ivan wrapped an arm around him once more, kissed his forehead. The resounding slap as Barlton suddenly threw his arms down, vaulted his body into standing made Damien jump, his breath grow shaky. 

“Get out of my office, god, you’re disgusting!” What sense of togetherness Damien had shattered at the bark the therapist gave. I am I am oh god I’m beyond help I’m hopeless I knew it was pointless to come he won’t even try! Bringing up his hands to cover his mouth and nose, he vaguely felt hot tears slide down his face as a mortified sob ripped out of his throat. 

 “No no, Dami, don’t cry!” Regret tasted so bitter, swearing at himself profusely for not leaving when they should have, Ivan held the younger man’s shoulders, shook him gently to get his attention. Sobs and sobs sputtered past Damien’s blocking hands; Ivan’s heart crumbled at the  utter defeat he saw in those red, tear-filled, unseeing eyes. Rage spilled into his system and with a smoldering glare, he saw that Barlton had stood, his hands still planted on the desk. “Tell him! Tell him its not because of what happened to him that makes him disgusting you fuck! You tell him right now or I’ll wipe that sanctimonious smirk off your face! You’re the first therapist we’ve seen and you made him burst into tears. Do you-” 

The door suddenly opened, “M-mr. Barlton? What-what did you do-?”

“Olivia, call security, tell them we have a man up here hurling threats and refusing to leave the property.” As the woman dashed away, he continued, “I don’t work with homosexuals,” He spat out the word, “If you engage in high-risk behaviors you’ll suffer the consequences now kindly leave.” Feeling like he’d been hit by a stunning blow, Ivan only shook his head in disbelief. Insults, fury-fueled words trembled on his lips but all he did was throw one more glare before smoothing his hands along Damien’s shaking shoulders, kissed his forehead once more. Whispering reassurances, he gently steered the younger to walk with him, down the hall, past the waiting room. His boyfriend allowed him to, cried into his hands.

 Their movement stopped, it was all he noticed. Everything in him ached like the therapist’s words speared him all over. My fault it happened my consequence for being me he didn’t even try to help I’m so damaged lost cause... A gentle hand stroked down his back; with a hitching breath, Damien spun around, hid his face in his boyfriend’s chest, locked arms around his waist. Arms folded around him, held him tightly, sweet words whispered into his ear. Undeserving, he squeezed his eyes shut, “I-I’m sorry, I truh-tried!” The soul-crushing sorrow grew amazingly he thought his whole body would collapse. “H-He didn’t even try to help, a-am I so br-broken that he-”

“Dammit, Dami, no, forget everything he said! Its not you, its not you...” His own eyes brimming with tears, unable to withstand the terrible weeping, Ivan rested his cheek upon his lover’s crown, swayed them gently. “I’m sorry, luv, I’m so sorry, I knew we should have left sooner! I didn’t think it’d-” Breaking off, he apologized, guided them into the elevator that had arrived and got them down into the lobby. 

 Getting them in the car, Ivan ran a hand through his own hair, leaned over from his driver’s seat and touched the younger man’s cheek, held it. “Don’t cry, please, everything he said isn’t true. Its just him, some h-homophobic prick. Darling, please...” His lover suddenly dug into his jeans, pulled out his phone. Wiping at his eyes, he pushed a button and dialed a number. “W-who are you-”

“M-my parents, I-I need them, I wan-want them so badly!”

 Glancing at the clock, Ivan felt his mouth go dry - it was just past two in the morning in Spain.

 Ivan took his free hand, squeezed it, lifted it to his mouth and kissed it. Struggling to keep his crying quiet, forcing himself to stop the great whooping breaths, Damien felt his heart pound at the next dial. He was drifting in an ocean he didn’t see a way out of, nothing in sight but a vast abyss. Ivan was the one thing he could latch onto, one single lifeline he could count on - one sob left him as he gathered all his courage to seek out two other lifelines. The call was answered, he could hear fumbling on the other line and his heart stopped for a moment. 

“D-Damien? My god, its in the middle of the night here, are you-?” His father’s voice, laced with concern, unraveled his poor attempt to stop crying. Hitching in a breath, unable to speak, he shook his head; Ivan sidled up next to him as close as he could get. “Frannie, its Damien, he’s crying! Son, please t-tell us-”

“I d-didn’t mean to call so late, D-Dad I’m suh-sorry!” His sobbing was getting wildly out of control as he realized there was no going back, he had to tell, had to finish what he intended to do. The man he loved so dearly managed to loop an arm around the back of his neck; leaning his back away from the seat, he felt it fall along to drop around his waist. Leaning in gratefully, desperately, Damien wrapped his left arm around Ivan’s shoulders, brought their faces close. The older man murmured encouragements, showered his cheek with butterfly kisses. Wincing, his heart filling to the brim at the sweet gesture, Damien managed to get in a decent breath. “I-I have to tell you suh-something, but you, please, promise me y-you and m-mom will still luh-love me, I-I’m so scared you won’t!” 

*

 



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