A Life not Spent with You

BY : Rin-chan
Category: DarkFic > Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 4305
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! Let me know if its too difficult to follow with Bailey’s point of view, please!

Disclaimer: I do not own Old Spice, I just picked it since its a well known brand, every  *shrugs* ^^;

                                                                                                                                           *

Out of habit, Ivan woke up before his alarm went off. The past quarter of an hour he’d been awake, spooning against Damien’s back. Green eyes hooded with fatigue as he lightly combed his fingers through the younger’s locks. It had been rough trying to sleep after all the crying; his eyes closed, remembering the bitter tears he’d shed as well. I hate having to leave him... He had to be at work for 9AM, in an hour and a half. More than anything he wanted to stay here, remain snuggled against his boyfriend but he had obligations. Lying like this, curled against his back brought him a pleasure too rich for words. After the ablutions before bed, Damien had asked to be spooned, and despite the slight fear at first, he’d all but melted in his loose hold. No doubt he feels warm and safe and protected... Carefully, he laid a kiss on his lover’s head, enjoying the tickling strands against his face. As he should always feel...

At this thought, the dagger of anger in his chest suddenly ached, continuing to poison him as it had began just before they went to bed. As Damien had brushed his teeth, on a whim he’d looked up on a social network site he and some of his co-workers were on. As he had scrolled down Gregory’s profile - the fry cook who’d called in sick last minute on Friday night - his rage had boiled over as he read the multiple, intoxicated status updates on that very night, when Damien had been raped. It had taken every effort to erase the frightening storm clouds on his face when he heard his lover emerge from the bathroom. Even now as he cuddled against the younger man, his heart beat pulsed dangerously as the rage swirled achingly under his skin, impatient and waiting to be unleashed. He’d guessed that maybe Greg had made up being sick, yet again, but to have his suspicions confirmed was too much.

 Glancing at the digital clock, Ivan regretfully extricated himself from around Damien and stood, stretching his arms above his head. His back creaked in protest, his muscles sore and stiff. Breathing through his nose, he calmed his emotions and after tucking the blankets around his boyfriend, headed for a shower.

                                                                                                                                          *

 “P-please, Ivan!” Stammering, Damien trembled as he remained paralyzed, lying on their bed. He had managed to get this far, fully naked with the older man above him. Eyes wide, glazing with tears, he shook his head, breath coming fast in panicked wheezes. Ivan’s lips met his neck, suckled gently, made him cringe at the pleasure. “S-stop, I can’t anymore! Please!” As his heart jumped to his throat painfully, he watched Ivan coat his hard cock with lubricant, took his bent knee and raised it. Fear slammed into his chest and he tried to sit up suddenly, pushed hard at his lover’s broad chest. “What are you doing? S-stop playing around!” He near shrieked, kicking his legs up, nearly sitting now. Strong hands gripped his forearms, moved up to his shoulders and pushed him down.

“Just relax, its for your own good. Look at me.” The flippant tone is what froze him, the command as he stared with disbelieving eyes as the older man repositioned himself. Green eyes were focused and cold as they bore into his face, the expression frightening. All anger drained from him at the realization that Ivan wouldn’t stop. Starting to sob weakly, Damien turned his face to the side, clenching his eyes shut as the older man tugged his hips closer. “Ivan, puh-please stop!” His barely audible whisper hurt his throat at the force of this betrayal. “Relax and I’ll make you feel better, sweetheart.” The false kindness, the affectionate term made it all the worse. Then Ivan pushed forwards with his hips.



 A ragged whimper of panic broke him from paralysis and he kicked his feet against the mattress, trying to get away from the pain as the older man tried to force himself inside. The blond swore and pushed him down, a forearm pressing hard on his chest as he tried again. Sobbing, Damien pulled hard on a fistful of his boyfriend’s hair, tried to scratch his tilted face, anything to deter him from his goal. “I-Ivan, stop! Please!” A burning pain tore through him as Ivan slipped the tip in him, every memory crashing into him. Wrenching his arms free, Damien hide his face with his hands and screamed, twisting his head from side to side as he wept. His body protested loudly, not fully prepared as it was cruelly invaded. The gentle hands smoothing along his hips were a lie, there was nothing gentle in this. Breath hitching painfully, the younger man refused when his lover asked to look at him. More slid in him, a constant, steady push until their bodies were sealed together.

“Shhh, Dami, I’m sorry! I’m sorry, sweets!” Ivan’s whisper against his cheek made him flinch. Lips kissed along his jaw line, nuzzled into his neck. “I’ll make it better, just wait.” Slowly, Ivan dragged his hips back, and slid in. Body freezing, Damien looked up to see Ivan’s face hovering over his. This couldn’t be happening, Ivan still looked the same, he didn’t look like someone who would do this to him. “I-Ivy, stop! Please! I-I’m scared! Yuh-you’re hurting me!” At the second thrust, the younger cried out, and his arms came locked around the older man’s neck.  It was too much, evoked far too many terrifying memories that he couldn’t bear alone. An arm wrapped around his shoulders, cradling him almost as kisses were pushed lovingly on his neck. “Thats it, hold onto me. I’ll make it good for you.” Crying, Damien grit his teeth and felt his awareness start to fade as his body was used.

“I can’t wait forever, luv.”

                                                                                                                                            *

 A hand shaking his shoulder, Damien suddenly sat up, breathless. Grey light nearly blinded him as he stared with unseeing eyes. “Hey! Shh, Dami, its me! It was only a dream.” Ivan’s low whisper made him jump, the realization that it was Ivan touching his shoulder made him veer out of his reach.

“I’m sorry I startled you, a-are you okay?” Cold concern pitted in his stomach at the unsettling way the younger man stared at him blankly. Ivan had been getting his messenger bag ready when his lover started crying in his sleep. Really crying, all out sobbing as he curled up on his side in a ball. After a few attempts to wake him with words, Ivan had touched his shoulder. That way he’s staring at me... It filled his body with ice water as did the way Damien all but scrambled away from him. “I’m just letting you know I’m heading out now, you said to, to let you know when I’m leaving...” He trailed off lamely, fidgeting with the hem of his dress shirt. Seeing the great effort the younger man made to stop his sobs, Ivan slowly sat on the bed’s edge. “Damien, what is it? Whats wrong?”

 Fragments of his nightmare still fresh, not dissipating as it usually did, the dark-haired shook his head. Its just a dream he’d never do that! The last sentence the dream Ivan had said though blazed through his mind, the frustrated sigh the nightmare lover breathed in his ear. Noticing he was shaking, Damien forced himself to stop, wiped at his eyes. “J-just a bad dream.” Turning his gaze elsewhere, anywhere but at the blond, he winced at the shuddering breath he gave as he asked when he’d be back. The prospect of being alone for the whole day seemed daunting, all by himself like how he’d been at home when he was assaulted. Thankfully, Ivan didn’t make a move to get nearer or touch him - as much as he wanted a hug goodbye, his body screamed in protest at the thought. He could still feel Ivan’s body, hot and crushing, on top of him, forcing himself inside. “I’ll be back around 5 o’clock, do you, want me to bring you anything from the apartment?” Shaking his head, hating the hesitant question, Damien hugged himself and glanced at his lover. The older man sat rigidly, his face conflicted with bewilderment and traces of hurt. Giving a shaky smile, a half-hearted pull of his lips, the younger chirped a goodbye and thank you for being told of his departure.

 “Alright, luv, have a good day.” The older man said softly, then he stood, retrieved his bag from the table and made for the door. “I left the spare key card on the laptop. See you later.” After hearing the door shut, the lock clicking closed, Damien fell onto his side, curled up as he let himself cry. The nightmare had shaken him, rocked him to his core and he hugged himself tighter to erase the false love the dream Ivan had held him with.

                                                                                                                                             *

 As he walked through the lobby, Ivan hiked up the shoulder strap more securely around him as he moved briskly towards the door. He felt a stifling sense that he was running away from something, a stain that marked him as a criminal. Even after getting into his car and sealing himself in it, that feeling of hiding lingered. That expression... His lover’s face would remain in his mind the whole day, possibly longer from the way it affected him. It looked like betrayal and disbelief, made worse with the tears. Gripping the steering wheel, he squeezed it hard, tried to let the dark emotions flood out of him. Glancing at his watch, he fished the keys out of his pocket and started on his way to work.

 Must have been one hell of a nightmare... But what would make him stare at him like that? As he waited at a red light, his breathing stopped when he remembered what they’d done before bed. The kissing up his arm, the husky whispers. When I started I didn’t ask if I could kiss his arm, touch him that way... Covering his mouth, Ivan groaned, anxiety swelling in his stomach. Maybe he was too caught up in it and didn’t want me to but was confused? Did I...Force that on him? All the rage that had taken up residence in his heart from Greg’s lies, had been replaced with disgust and shame. Suddenly being away from his boyfriend was a welcome idea; to be stared at so brokenly betrayed was impossible to take. Imagine how he feels...? Mind blank with the shock at his actions, Ivan absentmindedly turned on the radio to tune out the thoughts running through his mind. I did push him into it...Didn’t I? Face pale, he jerked, noticing the green light had been on for him the last few seconds. As he drove further from the hotel, he felt the shame grow stronger in his heart.

                                                                                                                                            *

 The digital clock changed again; blinking his eyes, Damien could still see the red lines forming the numbers behind his closed lids from staring at it too long. The terrible dream had faded in his bout of crying, and reality returned. Never. His boyfriend would never have done anything of the sort to him. The only thing that really stayed in his mind was that one sentence again, his biggest concern. ‘I can’t wait forever.’  And no one really could - everyone had needs, and although Ivan could wait, and most definitely would, the longer it took, the worse their relationship would suffer. Nuzzling his face against the blankets, drying his cheeks a little, Damien breathed out in a sigh, thinking everything out.

 Bitterness, resentment, being constantly dissuaded and refused would take its toll on anyone. Feeling inadequate again, questioning over and over again why he hadn’t just told Ivan his dream, he closed his eyes tiredly. Emotions were draining, all that mattered was he was safe now and everything else was manageable. Lets see how long this optimism lasts... The wry thought, the sarcasm, made him smile faintly. Heartened that he had more moods than sad and panicky, he got up and shuffled over to the table. Preparing the coffee maker to make half a pot, he switched it on, then rifled through the backpack next to it. Finding his bathroom bag, he headed to clean himself up.

 Closing the door, he stood in front of the mirror, admiring the shiny surface, the sparking sink. Their hotel was rather nice, with unused fluffy towels still waiting on the rack from yesterday’s housekeeping. Examining himself in the mirror, Damien saw that his split lip looked a lot better; he barely winced after pressing it gently. The bruise under his eye had been wide, with discoloration from his brow to the tops of his cheekbones. Now it was a lighter shade of purple, still tender but not as much. Lightly feeling the back of his head, the goose egg bump was still quite sore. Lying on his side helped from upsetting it. All in all I’m healing alright... Damien noticed his reflection was smiling a little. Surprised, he flashed a grin at himself.

 What do I have to grin about? More curious than anything, Damien pondered as he slowly shrugged off his sleeping shirt. Maybe it was his dream? The cement knowledge he’d always never have to be scared of Ivan? He’d already known that - maybe it was that despite this traumatic event, even his subconscious fears couldn’t convince him to be scared of his lover. As he started to slide off his pajama pants, heat flushed over him as he remembered his researching and what followed afterwards. His skin broke into goose bumps at the gentle kisses Ivan pressed along him, the sensations as he’d skimmed lips along his shoulder. Cheeks warming, Damien noted his body was reacting to the memory now, heat stirring in his groin. A shimmer of unease rippled through him as he bit his lip. He’d enjoyed their closeness, the soft way Ivan’s green eyes fell upon him, but feeling aroused now made him feel unclean.

 Licking his lips, nervous, Damien touched his chest, pressing his palm against his bare skin. Slowly, he smoothed his hand up, let his fingertips trace along one of his collar bones. His body tingled at being treated gently. Feeling a bit silly, he traced the other one, skimmed his hand along his shoulder, down his arm. Pleasure ran down his back at his light tracings and on the heels of that, slight nausea. Stopping quickly, he shook his head to free the tainted enjoyment from his mind.

 I shouldn’t want to feel good... It was ridiculous for a rape victim like himself to even consider the slightest possibility of what he and Ivan had done last night. Just chaste kisses along his skin but he’d enjoyed it, had been comforted by it. He’d felt so loved and cared for. Stepping out of his pants, Damien felt his face heat with emotion again as he asked himself if he, in this very moment, would want to do that with Ivan again. The answer was an immediate yes - the certainty of it staggered him slightly. In all the reading I’ve done though...It states everyone reacts differently to trauma and even if I want to do intimate things doesn’t mean that I physically can... The sense of nausea lingered, and with an air of disappointment, Damien started the shower.

                                                                                                                                           *

 With a sigh, Ivan took his first break and slipped out the back door into the alley. The restaurant was fairly quiet as usual - lunch and evenings were the busiest times. With his stomach in knots, he leaned against the door and looked up at the sky. Can’t get it off my mind should I call him? What would I say? Closing his eyes, he still saw the hurt expression on his boyfriend’s face in his mind. Digging out his phone from his pocket, Ivan flipped it open, hit the speed dial and waited. After three tones, a groggy voice greeted him. Gazing across from him at the dumpster, he swallowed the growing lump in his throat. “Bailey, hey, sorry to wake you.” He heard the man yawn, “No, I needed to get up anyway, whats up? Everything okay?”

 “Well...” He hesitated for a moment, then started to explain how things were with Damien, not divulging anything personal. Then, with shame, he briefly described their kisses the night before and the fears that he’d crossed a line. “Sounds like he wanted to continue, I don’t think you forced him into anything. Maybe its something else? I’d just ask him when you get home. Don’t worry, Ivan.” A bit relieved at the reassurances, Ivan nodded. “Hey, do you think he’ll take me up on the offer? I know he’s always been a bit withdrawn around me...” Considering it, Ivan felt himself shrug. “I don’t know, Bailey, he really did appreciate it though.”

 When Ivan introduced his best friend, the Brazilian, to Damien, he’d thought the two would get along fantastically. They were both exuberant and friendly but Dami never really clicked well with his friend. He even refers Bailey as ‘my friend’ and not his... He’d always wondered why, but never asked, perhaps he would ask later if he remembered. “Oh, wait, I have another call!” Ivan smiled as the last word was drawn out. “Hey, its him! I’ll put you on hold, Iv, hang on.”

                                                                                                                                          *

 Nervous, Damien sat on the edge of the bed, playing with the hem of his shirt as he held the phone to his ear. What if its still too early its his day off today will he be mad? The urge to hang up nearly had him do so, but he focused on what he hoped to accomplish today and knew he couldn’t do it alone. “Hey Damien!” Bailey answered, his voice cheery as usual. Mouth going dry, Damien fought to keep his words from stammering. “Good morning, I, uh, hope I didn’t wake you...” Feeling awkward as the man reassured him he hadn’t, he lowered his gaze to the carpet. “I, um...If you don’t have plans today I was wondering if you could-” He faltered, cheeks reddening in embarrassment, “If you could keep me company?” Wincing at the desperation he heard in his own voice, he closed his eyes, certain he’d be refused.

“I’d be happy to, I don’t have anything planned. Where do you want to meet?” Hearing the smile in the man’s voice, Damien felt his mood lighten. Asking to meet in the lobby of their hotel, he considered not going back to the apartment at all, to just spend the day with the exotic man. But I decided to try at least... On the heels of this thought, he sucked in a breath as he remembered the last time he’d seen Bailey. Old Spice...The memory of it spiked fear in his stomach, made him quiver as if the scent had reached him already. “B-Bailey, can you-” Humiliation heated his face as he tried to voice his request. Admitting the weakness, admitting defeat from something so insignificant, seemed pathetic. “Damien, what is it? Are you alright?” Gripping the phone, Damien closed his eyes and spoke quickly. “I-I know its odd, but can you please not wear anything O-Old Spice? I just-” He broke off, was amazed at how close he was to tears at this request. “Yeah, no problem, Dami. I’ll shower up and meet you in... forty-five minutes?” Thanking him, Damien hung up the phone, comforted by the quiet kindness he’d heard in the other’s voice.

 When he sees me he’ll imagine what happened... Setting the phone down, he gripped the edge of the bed, squeezing the tension out of his shoulders as he relaxed. He liked Bailey, but he’d always been reluctant to spend time with him and Ivan for the silly fear he’d ruin Ivan’s downtime. The two had been friends for years, and as much as he enjoyed the Brazilian company, he’d withdrawn from activities over time. What if it comes back to haunt me? Maybe Bailey’ll treat me like a nuisance... Uncertain how the day would go, Damien crawled to the center of the bed and curled up on his side, face pensive.

I called Bailey and not Cody or Sasha... With a cringe, he could already picture Cody’s lighthearted answer if he’d told of his assault. He’d mean well, but Cody often took to joking to deal with things. Hearing ‘just get over it and get back on that horse’ or ‘maybe Ivan‘ll get jealous’ would be the last thing he wanted to hear. And Sasha was always away, traveling around the world as a flight attendant. And although she was back in the city for a few days, he didn’t want to disturb her much needed sleep. Or maybe I just don’t want the people closest to me to know... The truth stung - he didn’t want anyone to know he didn’t fight back enough or let himself get used. But Bailey, he knew the man wouldn’t pry or make light of it; with a hint of a smile in this knowledge, Damien glanced at the clock and waited.

                                                                                                                                           *

 More than a little anxious, Ivan waited for his friend to call back. Being apart from his boyfriend was difficult, especially how nervous the younger man was around other people. Thinking back on the scared scanning of the surroundings he’d done every time they’d left the hotel, Ivan was glad Damien had reached out for help. Just another six hours and I’ll be back, Dami, just hold on... His phone started to ring. “Bailey? Is he okay?” Answering, he fought not to pace as his mind made up a myriad of problems. “He’s fine, don’t worry.” Always practical and clear-minded when he needed to be, Bailey paused, as if gathering his thoughts. “He asked me to keep him company today, but he asked me something odd.” Waiting, Ivan felt ridiculous as a thousand possibilities sprang into mind. “You know the Old Spice stuff I always wear? Damien asked me not to wear it...Ivan, do you-”

 Feeling winded, Ivan leaned against the brick wall behind him. Bailey didn’t need to finish his sentence as he remembered how frightened his lover was upon meeting his friend in the garden. Like he was hypnotized or something... “I think so, god, no wonder he was so scared.” Seemingly unimportant things could be triggers, scents were usually the strongest. “It took a lot to ask me, thats a good sign, Ivan. I’ll keep my distance, I did some reading about supporting survivors.” Touched at the thoughtfulness, Ivan felt himself grin. “Thanks so much, Bailey, it means a lot. I’m off at four-thirty, god the time is going so slowly.” Glancing at his watch, Ivan started to move towards the door back into the kitchen. “Just hang in there, get caught up in work and the day’ll breeze by! Talk to you later, Iv!”

                                                                                                                                           *

 At quarter to noon, Damien retrieved the key card from the desk and looked around. Small things like remembering where his things were started to become difficult. Patting his pockets, he confirmed he had his wallet and phone; with a quiet sigh, he did up his coat and left the room. The hallway was thankfully empty, leaving him with the zero chance to be alone with a stranger. Already nervous, he darted out from the small alcove of his room door and made for the elevator. Palms sweating, he wiped them on his jeans and waited, uncomfortably aware he was trembling. So stupid! Nothing will happen to me just calm down! Taking a few calming breaths, he waited another minute until the elevator finally ringed its arrival. Just as he walked in, a hotel door behind him clicked shut, and a moment later a man came into view. Startled badly, Damien stepped to the far corner, face heating with shame at his cowardly reaction. The stranger merely glanced at him with disinterest, then looked at him again as his eyes took in his black eye, the obvious signs of an altercation. Anxiously, Damien considered hopping out quickly, catching the next elevator down alone; the doors suddenly shut and his decision was made for him.

 As the minutes passed, the elevator stopping every second or so floor, he bit the inside of his cheek and fought to keep still. A woman brushed against his side and he reigned in a whimper, already wanting to go back to the room and hide. Bailey is waiting for me! Calm down don’t panic! Taking a few deep, calming breaths, he waited. Finally, the elevator signaled the lobby floor and opened. Staying in his corner, he waited for everyone to get out before scurrying out. Hugging himself, Damien stood off to the side, looked around hopefully to find his friend. I guess he is my friend if he’s willing to come see me... Near the reception desk, he saw the Brazilian wave, and start to walk towards him. As he neared, Damien felt himself smile a little as he moved forwards to meet him.

 “Good morning, its nice to see you, Damien.” Nodding, he stopped a few feet from the other man, still hugging himself. Although he’d seen Bailey countless times before, at home, out at bars, he’d never really gotten close to him. Always maintaining distance between them, he did so now out of fear. The only person aside from Ivan who’d touched him after his rape was the doctor at the hospital, who was professional and very understanding. Standing here, he saw Bailey stare at his bruised face and with guilt, Damien looked down at the floor. What must he think of me? As he cleared his throat to speak, still painful to do, he noticed Bailey had fulfilled his request, no hint of Old Spice in the air. Grateful, he gave a faint smile, “Morning, thanks for coming. It, it means a lot.”

 “I’m glad you called me, any time you need to just dial me up. What would you like to do today? I drove here so its up to you.” Even as his mind was racing, Damien noticed the exotic man now sounded less formal as before. In fact, from the times he’d seen Bailey, he was always flitting about, loud and energetic. Definitely relieved at not being startled by any erratic movements, he swallowed the lump in his throat.

 Keeping still, Bailey waited, face open and smiling a little. As he’d guessed he would, the younger man kept distance between them, which was completely understandable. He looks a lot better than yesterday... The purple bruise around his eye had lessened, and he seemed a lot less frightened. As he got ready, Bailey had made sure to use an odorless deodorant. His researching had included triggers and flashbacks - whilst reading them, he’d felt mostly angry that someone he’d cared about had been so badly hurt. For a while after meeting Damien, he’d made attempts to get to know him better but he’d always been gently rebuffed. I hope he’s not scared of me... It occurred to him that the younger man had his own network of friends; being called today was encouraging. Damien looked up at him, his eyes anxious as he continued to hug himself in what looked like reassurance. “I want to go-” He paused, face paling slightly. Focusing now, not musing to himself, Bailey nodded, waited. “I want to g-go back to the apartment.” For a couple moments, he didn’t understand, this request being the last thing he’d expected.

 Surprise crossed the older man’s face, a skeptical slope of his dark brows. Damien looked away from him, licked his lips. “Can you take me there please?” The long silence after his question had him dart his eyes to see the apprehension on the other man’s face. “Dami, I don’t mean to question your choice or anything, but are you sure? If you panic-” Stomach quivering, the younger man shook his head. “I have to try, at least once! I don’t want to make Ivan and me move! I’ll be fine, j-just please take me there?”

 Biting his lip, not liking where this path was going, Bailey nodded. His palms had grown sweaty as the enormity of this request dawned on him; wiping them on his jeans, he offered a smile. “If you change your mind, just let me know. Shall we?” The younger man walked by his side, just out of arm’s reach. As he readjusted the messenger bag strap on his shoulder, Bailey noticed he walked with a slight limp. Forcing his eyes straight ahead, he felt anger furling inside his body for the criminal who’d caused it. Making sure to keep his outward appearance neutral and calm, he halted when the younger man did so as they entered the large, louder lobby. People were everywhere, waiting in groups, gathering near the concierge and reception desks. As Damien scanned the area, he’d shuffled a little closer to him, seemingly unconscious of doing so. Glad to be counted as safe, the exotic man waited until he started walking again. Keeping an eye on the surroundings, Bailey took them to his car outside.

 After buckling himself in, Damien glanced over to the other man, wondering if he was comparing. Comparing to how I was before... Looking out his window, he tried to remember what he’d been like. His world had shattered, every aspect of his life seemed irreparable. I remember being outgoing and energetic about things... He’d always been the life of a party, the king small talk, circling a room with confidence and playfulness. Sitting here in the quiet car, he noticed the day was sunny with crisp blue skies and soft clouds. It juxtaposed against the darkness he’d harbored in his heart, the leaking depression and emotions that scoured away his zeal. Unbidden, the nightmare he’d had earlier in the morning flashed in his mind, the phantom hands holding his wrists down. Clenching his eyes shut, he tried to erase the image from his mind but it remained. ‘Can’t wait forever...’ There was no doubt that he’d have to change, and going back home was a start.

 Sensing the younger man was in deep thought, Bailey focused on driving, content with going over the tips and advice he’d read online. A tension had started growing in his stomach at the surely needed assistance Damien would need in his confronting the area he’d been attacked. Never having supported someone in so much pain, he didn’t notice his hands were shaking ever so slightly, as he held onto the wheel. There must be a reason he didn’t go with Ivan...God I hope I don’t scare him or re-traumatize him... In the past four years of meeting each other, he didn’t think he’d ever really touched the younger man, aside from the initial handshake and perhaps a few hugs on celebrations. So many things could go wrong, the worst being Damien panicking and being set off in a flashback from his attempts to help him. Just ask before we leave the car ask what he wants... As he neared the grocery store a few blocks from Damien and Ivan’s apartment, he noticed the younger man sit up straight all of a sudden, his body trembling. Gripping the wheel, he licked his drying lips. “Dami, its going to be okay. I can slow down if you want?”

 Growing steadily more agitated as they turned onto his street, he shook his head, clasped his hands around his elbows. His heart started to pound in his ears, the hedges on the side of streets so familiar. Just try! Its only a room just try maybe we won’t have to move and I can take just one major thing off the problems I’ve caused! A small part of him begged that this was foolish and his well being would not better from this ridiculous attempt. His determination drowned it out as the car slowed, parked outside across from the Candlewick Apartments. Feeling numb suddenly, he looked out Bailey’s window, past him at the large building.

 The vacant expression on the slighter man’s pale face as he shook was heartbreaking to see. Switching the car off, Bailey left the keys in the car, dropped his hands into his lap as he tried to put his thoughts together. “You know...” He started, happy to see the younger man’s gaze turn to his face. “When I read about what happened in the paper, I cried.” Damien’s blue eyes fell from his face in what seemed to be thought. “You mean the world to Ivan, you really do. I know we don’t hang out a lot, but I do care a lot about you too. Thanks, for calling me.”

 Dimly he understood the older man’s words; nodding in response, he tried to rein in his panic before conversation ran out and he had to leave the car. “You’ve k-known him longer, I didn’t want to ruin his d-downtime with you.” Staring past the Brazilian again, he felt his shaking worsen. Memories coursed through his mind of the apartment, the darkness of the room, the walls sealing in his muffled cries. “No need to worry about that, your company is most welcome. Now...If you are set on trying, if you get scared, what do you want me to do?” Considering this, Damien tightened his arms around himself, “I d-don’t know, I’m already scared.” He remembered being pushed to the floor, being stripped. The black rug in front of him in the sweating heat of that night. ‘If you make any noise I’ll break your fucking neck!’ The songs on the radio as he was taken, crushed against the floor. A hand gently touched his shoulder and he jumped.

“S-Sorry, you started to breathe really fast!” Whispering quietly, Bailey started to take his hand away, ashamed to not have asked first. Damien shook his head, took a few deep breaths, “N-no, let me get used to you.” Tentatively, he lightly placed his hand upon his shoulder again, holding his breath. A sound of displeasure left the younger man as he fought to remain still, wincing at the contact. “Its okay, Damien, you’re safe.” Repeating his words, Bailey felt his heart hammer at the trust he’d been given. “Its so brave of you to try, if its too hard, we can leave. Just tell me what you want to do?”

 Closing his eyes, he sucked in a sharp breath and undid his seat belt. “I h-have to try, lets go.” With his pulse thundering in his ears, he scrabbled for the door handle and got out. The air was cool, refreshing. Coming around to the front of the car, he stopped, staring at the beige apartment complex across the street. Every part of his body screamed to leave, get far away as possible. The worst was his mind as chaotic flashes continued to blaze in his memory. I can’t just run away its so weak I can do this and we won’t have to move uproot our lives! The other man joined him at his side, careful not to touch him. Their brief touching had made his nerves feel as though they had been singed but as he stared at the place the nightmare began, he reached out and held the older man’s arm. Clenched it more like it - he barely noticed the way Bailey stifled a surprised sound of discomfort. With Ivan in his mind, the dream Ivan that kissed his body and whispered of his impatience, Damien looked to see if it was safe then started to cross the road. Each step his legs seemed to grow heavier as he made himself walk up the brick walkway to the entrance. Panic ate at his determination and right at the beginning of the few, wide stairs to the door, the buzz keypad, he froze. Alarmingly, he began to feel hollow, disengage from his surroundings as he stood, staring at the door.

 Nervous, Bailey waited, closely monitored the younger man’s face, encouraged to see him biting on his lip, giving signs he hadn’t fully withdrawn. In times of great stress, especially after a vicious attack, some people disassociated from their current situations, the mind trying to protect itself from further harm. A minute passed, then another, all the while Bailey inwardly fretted whether or not to offer comfort. As they remained still, he’d noticed the younger man’s breathing starting to gather speed again; hesitantly, he lay a trembling hand on Damien’s that gripped his arm so tightly. It seemed to reach him, the slighter man tore his gaze away from the apartment entrance and looked at him. His blue eyes were dull, filled with a pain that made him oddly feel like crying. Movement beyond the glass door ahead of them caught his eye, a man in the lobby who’s stride suddenly grew faster and with ill intent upon seeing them. Immediately on guard, Bailey moved as carefully as he could so he was in front of the younger man.

 “You!” The anger dripped in that one word, coupled with the suddenly door being thrown open, jarred his paralysis. Blinking, Damien looked to see a man, one of the tenants he’d seen in the building a few times, stepping down the stairs towards him. Backing away at the swirling rage the man gave off, he shook, scared. “You and your fucking party bullshit made me late for work Saturday morning! I damn near lost my job because of the racket you caused Friday night!” The words didn’t make sense as he flinched at the smoldering hate he saw on the tenant’s face. His twisted expression was suddenly blocked, Bailey blocking him from view as he shuffled back, closer to him. As if he’d fought a rock against a storm, Damien hid himself behind his friend, grabbing his arm.

 Bailey’s mounting dislike of the stranger became surprise for a moment when Damien stood at his back, sought for protection. A hint of a smile crossed his lips as he half-turned, hoping the younger would see it before looking to the newcomer a few steps away from them. “Are you aware of what happened Friday night?” Voice low, he eyed the man, hoping to diffuse this confrontation into a misunderstanding. With dismay he saw the disgust flash in the stranger’s eyes. “It was in the papers, plus him and his fag daddy are always bringing guys here. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen your face around here too.” Damien’s shaking grew worse, his grip tightening; Bailey narrowed his eyes, tried to stem the anger surging in his chest. “You probably liked it anyways, you’re gay so what does it matter?”

 “What if it was a woman who assaulted him? Who are you to make assumptions of such a crime?” As much as he knew it was better to leave as soon as possible, Bailey heard himself ask as he offered his hand to Damien, who took it immediately. The stranger gave a mirthless laugh, “Women can’t rape people, everyone knows that.” Before he could react, the man took another step towards them, still towering over them from the stairs. He leaned far to the left, spoke directly to Damien. “Why get the cops involved? You kept the whole complex up all fucking night and for what? Did the guy not give you the reach around or something?” Shocked by this tirade, Bailey didn’t move, stunned at the heartless joke.

 At the callous remarks, Damien only winced, too shaken to move. Bailey’s arm he was holding had wriggled; in surprise he’d let go. To his gratefulness, his friend had sought his hand and he grasped it. When the tenant moved closer, veered to the left to speak directly at him, Damien only stared at him as if transfixed. At the last comment, the breath left him in a rush, tears sprang instantly to his eyes as he looked at his feet with overwhelming shame. The comment far too close to the truth, a sob escaped him. Everyone can tell! I’m disgusting oh god everyone knows! Wrenching his hand from Bailey’s, he hid his face and choked back another cry, mortified.

 Swearing low in Portuguese, Bailey grit his teeth and nearly let his fist fly right then and there if it weren’t for the strong possibility it might set his friend off in a panic. The stranger’s mask of hatred had suddenly vanished, replaced with a look of surprise as he surveyed the younger man. “Leave, get the hell out of here!” He growled menacingly, his accent growing thicker as his rage slipped through his control. The hateful man tore his gaze from the weeping man and saw Bailey’s face; without a word, he quickly swept by them, down the walkway and out of sight once he turned the corner. Reining in his emotions, Bailey spun around, uselessly made a gesture to embrace his friend before letting his arms fall to his own sides.

 The anguish was suffocating as he stood there, knees growing weak as he fought to keep the strengthening sobs in. He forgot where he was and what he was doing as he hid behind his hands, wanting to hide forever and leave this unending torment. Its all my fault I let him fuck me claim me steal me away oh god I’m so filthy please- A hand on his shoulder made him flinch, peek out from his hands. Bailey’s face came into view, his features taut in concern. “Its me, Dami, I’m so sorry I didn’t stop him! I just couldn’t believe he’d-” The man broke off, “Damien, c-can I give you a hug?” There was a momentary quiver of fear from the idea of being touched, then it was pushed aside by the intense longing to be comforted. Tentatively, he stepped closer, arms opening in uncertainty. The older man was just as hesitant, arms slowly coming around his back, gently wrapping around him.

“Its okay, you’re safe.” Careful to keep his embrace loose, ready to let go at any hint of distress, Bailey smoothed his hands along his back. The younger man’s arms tightened around him as he gave out a choked sob, cried into his shoulder. “I-I didn’t mean to, it was-wasn’t my fuh-fault!” The stammered wail confused him but he didn’t press him for details, it was obviously something too personal to share. Oh this could’ve gone a lot better... Speaking soft reassurances in his native tongue, Bailey held him, tried to offer the best comfort he could as his friend wept.

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