Our apologies for the lateness of this week’s FFF – sometimes life just gets in the way of life.
Major (capital “M”) angst and have tissues at the ready for this story.
More silence. That was damning enough. He swallowed hard again, trying to dislodge the lump in his throat, hoping he could get it down, maybe into his stomach where it would sit—probably like a ball of lead. But that was better than where it was right now because he couldn’t breathe with it there. Or perhaps that was the band around his chest. He didn’t know, wasn’t quite capable of figuring that out, at the moment.
No. He wasn’t ready, was not ready. Wasn’t ready for the pain. Wasn’t ready for the anger. Wasn’t ready for any of it. He must have spoken something of his thoughts out loud.
“Nobody’s ever ready for it, Ian,” Kane said.
Ian wondered where his best friend suddenly had all this wisdom. He resisted the urge to scream, barely. This wasn’t right! Kane wasn’t the one to do this!
He closed his eyes, working to get a hold of himself. He needed to refocus, to figure out where to even begin. But he couldn’t seem to find any place to start.
Kane’s arms tightened again, more of that comfort and Ian felt the last of the numbness break. Then pieces of it started falling away, and Ian crazily had the picture of a cartoon vase break slowly, one shard at a time falling after it landed on the coyote’s head. He almost laughed, which brought his confusion back with a vengeance.
And then the emotions slammed into him.
Fear. Anger. Pain. Disgust. Grief. Love. One after another slapped at him, circled around him and flew through him before they finally settled in. Then they tangled together until the knot was so complicated and so tight, he didn’t know if he’d ever loosen it.
“Fuck! What have… how… but… I… You… He… God dammit!” Ian stuttered, fought to find simple language and lost. Sounds came out of this throat, sounds he couldn’t have described, much less identify, sounds that reflected the huge jumble of emotions that were finally rioting around in his head.
He balled his hands into fists on Kane’s back, his face screwed up in anger and pain, and somewhere along the line, the individual sounds melded into a single keening noise. The tears started, the images flashed into his head, and he gave in.
Hayden grinning at him, holding up the condoms after the first time they’d made love. Hayden in the driver’s seat of the Jeep, annoyed at having to let go of Ian’s hand so he could shift. Hayden bent over a math book, working on The Bitch’s homework. Hayden on the rock they’d chosen for lunch when they’d gone hiking at the preserve.
The smile with the tiny dimple on the right side of his mouth. The dark eyes that sparkled when he was laughing. The crease in his forehead when he was annoyed.
And the face. That face when they were making love. Eyes closed, head thrown back, mouth open as he shouted Ian’s name.
“No no no no no no no. Oh God, no. No. Please, no…” He didn’t know who he was begging from, but he knew what he was begging for. He wanted the numbness back. He wanted to keep the pain away.
But it was too late. The numbness was gone.
There. There it was. The hole he’d been expecting. But it was filled. Not with caskets and flowers and dirt, but with pain. Why did it feel like he was breaking in half? Why was it so fucking physical?
His hands came around and pounded into Kane’s chest. “FUCK! No, goddammit, no!” He continued to beat at his friend, his best friend, who simply laid there and took it. Some small part of his mind knew that Kane would end up with bruises, but he couldn’t make himself stop. He wanted to, needed to; he’d hurt his friend enough. But he just couldn’t manage it. “FUCK!” It was a shout, a near scream and the fight went out of him.
He slumped back into Kane’s arms, his hands going still. The tears flowed now, just the tears and those sounds again. Those unidentifiable sounds, the ones that carried love that was gone, smiles that would never grace lips again, sparkles that would never show in beautiful dark eyes and a voice, a voice that would never again call his name in just that way.
He had no idea how long he lay there, they lay there. Kane simply held him, let him cry, let him go. He vaguely became aware that his hair was wet, that Kane’s chest was soaked and even the pillow underneath had a huge damp spot.
His head was stuffy, his eyes gritty. He had a headache forming that was going to be a monster. He was having trouble breathing, even aside from the stuffy nose. His throat hurt like hell. His hands would probably have bruises and they were aching. His palms had deep indentations from his fingernails.
But he wasn’t numb anymore.
Hayden was gone. Dead. And all the numbness in the world wasn’t going to change that.