Major (capital “M”) angst and have tissues at the ready for this story.
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Ian leaned against the tile, letting the water run over him. He needed to scrub and get out so Kane could have some warm water, but he couldn’t bring himself to move. The fresh water of the shower was washing the salty water from his cheeks. But he didn’t want to be forced to face it more directly and have to physically wipe them away.
He shouldn’t have done it.
The rational and irrational were warring inside him again. He wanted to tell his brain to just shut the fuck up and leave him alone, but of course, it didn’t listen. He kept flipping between the guilt that was eating at him to the understanding that he was allowed to need things like he’d done with Kane, was allowed to need and want touch and all of that.
But right now, the guilt was winning.
He shouldn’t have. Those three words kept replaying themselves in his head and he couldn’t seem to make it stop. How could he let someone else touch him? It didn’t matter who it was! It didn’t matter why it was.
He shouldn’t have.
Wrapping his arms around his middle, he gave in to the feelings. He slid slowly down the tile, finally forming a ball in the tub, letting the spray wash over him. He didn’t pay attention to when his hair got in his face, or when water ran into his eyes. When the water wasn’t as warm as it could be, his shivers only vaguely registered. He couldn’t pay attention to any of it.
All he felt, all he knew was the pain that was starting to feel physical again. Those sharp jabs in his gut and chest reminded him of the hole that was still very much there and still very much open. The tears continued to fall, and despite him, those damned sounds escaped again. He hated to hear those, hated that he let that much out. Because he was already so tired of it. Tired of crying, of hurting, of feeling like this. Tired of missing Hayden. He wanted Hayden back, not this fucking emotional mess instead.
That thought started a fresh batch of tears. God, Ian missed him. Missed the smile, the dark eyes, his laugh, his kisses, that crazy crease in his forehead when he was annoyed, the arms around him… even missed the early morning grumpiness. He curled a little tighter in to himself as the hole in his chest opened a little further.
He had no idea how long he sat there, curled in that ball, the tears still flowing when Kane came into the bathroom. He didn’t say anything; he simply stripped his boxers off and climbed into the tub with Ian, sitting behind him and pulling him close, wrapping both arms around him tightly.
Ian wanted to fight it, fight having someone else so close, toughing, but he just couldn’t. He didn’t have the emotional or physical strength and there was just enough of the rational part of him still cognizant to not want to fight completely.
“I’m sorry, Ian,” Kane whispered in his ear.
Ian shook his head. Not his fault, he didn’t ask, didn’t push, didn’t even offer. All he did was give Ian what he asked for. “Not…” he croaked, his throat thick, “not your fault.”
Kane’s arms just tightened briefly at that. He held Ian close another moment then stood up, pulling Ian with him. “Come on, let’s get you cleaned up. Mom’s making food.”
He got to his feet and Kane washed most of him, then Ian took the washcloth to take care of the rest of himself. He winced when he washed his still very sore ass. Apparently, the emotional mess he was in didn’t keep him from feeling the physical pain, and that brought him back a little bit from the edge. He sighed and looked up at Kane. “I’m sorry.” He shrugged a little helplessly. “I… just….”
“Feel guilty,” Kane finished and Ian’s eyes widened. “I know how you think, Ian. Best friend, remember?”
Ian nodded miserably. “Yeah.” His breath stuttered in his chest. He didn’t say anymore, just concentrated on not crying and finishing up. Kane cleaned himself, then shut off the water and wrapped a towel around Ian and then himself. Hurrying them back into their room, Kane pulled out clothes for both of them to get dressed. By the time Ian had warm sweats on, the horrid urge to cry had faded quite a bit. He still felt the guilt, still fought with it, but at least he didn’t want to turn on the water works quite so much.
Their mom was at the stove, stirring eggs when they got to the kitchen. “There’s my babies,” she greeted them with a grin and both Kane and Ian blushed. They each dropped a kiss on her cheek and headed to the cabinets to set the table. “Kane, the roast I want for dinner’s in the freezer downstairs, would you go get it?”
Kane smirked, and Ian was sure he knew she wanted to talk to Ian. “Sure.” Kane shot a look at Ian, who gave a chagrined smile.
When they were alone, Ian turned to his mom. “What did you want to talk to me about?”
She laughed. “Too perceptive sometimes. Or was I that transparent?”
“There’s a roast in the fridge already.”
“Oh.” She chuckled then her face turned serious. “How are you?”