Major (capital “M”) angst and have tissues at the ready for this story.
Find Part 1 here * Find Part 2 here * Find Part 3 here * Find Part 4 here * Find Part 5 here * Find Part 6 here * Find Part 7 here * Find Part 8 here * Find Part 9 here * Find Part 10 here * Find Part 11 here * Find Part 12 here * Find Part 13 here * Find Part 14 here * Find Part 15 here * Find Part 16 here * Find Part 17 here * Find Part 18 here
Please note: The lyrics in the following part are not intended for anything other than non-commercial enjoyment. I wouldn’t dream of putting this into an actual book, but for the free fiction, I felt I could share it. Credits following today’s part.
* * *
We can be like they are… Come on baby, don’t fear the reaper…
He rolled his eyes and hit the “seek” button. The next station, he knew, was a harder metal station. He had at least a little hope it wouldn’t be as bad. He raised his eyebrow when he heard the drum break, then…
Don’t know what you got till it’s gone…
“Oh for fuck’s…,” he grumbled and hit the button again. Okay, he knew the next one was country. Maybe they’d be singing about their truck breaking down or their dog dying or something. That, he could deal with.
Is the love I gave her in the past… Gonna be enough to last… If tomorrow never comes…
“Holy shit. Is this torture Ian by the radio day?” He growled and jabbed at the seek button again, a little surprised he let the song get that far. Ian watched the street while the radio hit the end of the numbers and wrapped around, skipping quite a bit before it landed on 95.5, another country station. Traffic still hadn’t moved so much as an inch, so he turned his attention back to the radio. He gritted his teeth, finger poised on the button again.
How do I live witho—
He didn’t even let the full line get through. He was starting to shake. This had a bad idea—and he was kicking himself for it. Not just the radio, either. He really should have taken Kane’s offer. He’d only been… aware and “back” as it were for a couple of days.
Ian punched the seek button and didn’t pay attention at first to what was playing because the traffic finally started to move. Ignoring the music for the moment, he worried about what he was doing. He dropped his hand to the stick shift and pulled out onto the street.
He was able to ignore the station for a couple of minutes while he navigated around cars and through lights, but the next few lines caught his attention—
Bring back the nights when I held you beside me
Un-break my heart,
say you’ll love me again
— and he gritted his teeth harder, reaching up to change the station again.
As he went to hit the button, though—or better yet, give up and turn the fucking thing off as he should have done after the first song—someone behind him honked. He sighed as he realized he was sitting at a green light. Forcing his attention back to the road, he didn’t notice the song end and another one start. He made the turn back onto their street, and as he was pulling into the spot, the lyrics finally got through to him. He managed to turn the engine off, but then he could do nothing but sit stone still and listen.
Just think of me
And I’ll be there
Don’t be afraid, oh my love
I’ll be watching you from above
And I’d give all the world tonight,
To be with you
‘Cause I’m on your side
And I still care
I may have died,
At this point, the tears started falling in earnest. He tightened his hands around the wheel, his gaze fixed on nothing in the current time or space. He saw only a set of dark eyes, a dimple and a half-smile, one that had been only for him.
But I’ve gone nowhere
Just think of me,
And I’ll be there
He gripped the wheel in shaking hands, unable to reach for the stereo much less twist the fucking knob to turn it off. He knew his cheeks were soaking wet, knew that he was making those damned sounds again, but he couldn’t stop. He wrapped his arms around the steering wheel as if it was him, as if he could somehow hug Hayden instead and dropped his head onto the plastic that had been smoothed from so much use. Use by hands he missed. Hands that had touched him to calm, touched him to soothe, touched him to give pleasure…
“Oh God…” The words echoed around the confined space, bounced back to him, and he heard just how much pain was in those two words. It only made the hurt morph into anger. He screamed at the steering wheel, a shouted “FUCK!” that cut off in another strangled sound he didn’t want to identify. He tightened his hands and the anger drained as fast as it hit. He collapsed back down, his forehead hitting plastic with a quiet thunk! and let the tears flow unimpeded.
He didn’t hear the station change songs, didn’t pay attention to the things the DJ said. He only vaguely registered a Duran Duran song and something about coming undone when the door opened and Kane’s hands tugged on him. He saw Kenji out of the corner of his eye reach across and twist the key in the ignition and pull it out.
As he slid out of the Jeep, let himself go right into Kane’s arms then let Kane manhandle him onto the sidewalk and up to the house. When they got onto the porch, he pulled himself together and paused at the door. “Um, I… just want a minute.” When they didn’t answer or move, he looked up at them so see an expression he didn’t want to decipher beyond worry. He was pretty sure it was the expectation that he might fall apart again. He wanted to be angry about it, but that just wasn’t in him at that moment. Ian cleared his throat and said, “I’ll be okay,” in a soft voice. They stared another moment; then Kenji opened the front door and Ian moved to the rocker his mother kept on the front porch.
Kane gave a single nod then he and Kenji went into the house. Ian sat down on the rocker, staring into nothingness. He tried to get control of his emotions again for what felt like the millionth time since he’d awakened on Friday night from his dream to discover Kane’s nightmares. He’d been sucker-punched by the song, hadn’t been expecting it at all, even with the other ones that had come up in his station-hopping.
He’d heard that particular song before, of course, but he hadn’t paid much attention to it because, at the time, it hadn’t applied to him. He swallowed hard, trying to dislodge his lump and worked to get his breathing calmed down once more. His gaze landed on the railing in front of him and on the shallow dents in the soft weathered wood.
He would never forget the night those got there. A year and two months ago. Kane had been gripping the railing hard, fighting with the demons of his past, his mother, her john. All of it had been brought on over the mess with Hayden and Kenji, who, at the time, had refused to listen to why he and Kane slept in the same bed.
He leaned forward and ran his finger over the depression. It reminded him well of the fact that he’d made the determination to start worrying more about the living. It reminded him of the promise he’d made to Kane and the one he’d made to himself to try harder to keep that promise.