Major (capital “M”) angst and have tissues at the ready for this story.
Ian nodded, though he wasn’t really, but he would be damned if he kept that crap up and piss Kane off more. “I’ll be fine. Go get our friend.”
“Alright. Back in a minute,” Kane said, climbing out of the Jeep. He walked up the sidewalk, climbed the steps to the porch and knocked. Despite what Kane said about him and Kenji, Ian didn’t want to see the affectionate greeting he was sure would happen. That wasn’t fair to Kane, which is why he’d kept his mouth shut.
He turned his attention back to the interior of the Jeep. Isaiah had cleaned it up, so the persistent straw wrappers and crap that Hayden had never managed to clean out were gone. There was an old pack of gum in a small compartment under the radio, and a piece of paper sitting under it.
Ian reached over and pulled it out. It was a picture of him. One of the snapshots Hayden had taken the summer before when they’d been camping. Ian had a long stick in his hand that he’d been threatening Kane with. Kenji’s arm was off to the one side and the edges of Kane’s spikes on the other. Kane had taken so much crap from everyone for bringing the stuff with him to mess with his hair.
Swallowing hard around the lump in his throat, Ian ran a finger over the picture. He was looking at the camera—and Hayden—and had a huge grin on his face. One of Hayden’s hands was sticking out with a finger up. He’d been telling Ian to just stand still for one fucking moment while he took the picture.
With a deep breath, Ian carefully put the picture back before he crushed it in his hand without thinking. It took him a couple of tries to get it in place because he couldn’t see the compartment clearly anymore. He finally managed it then swiped at the annoying water on his face. He looked out the window, but Kane had gone into the house.
He closed his eyes, laid his head back on the seat, and put his energy into finding some semblance of control again.
“Kane?” Kenji asked as he came to the door.
“Hey.” Kane smiled. He glanced over his shoulder, but Ian’s head was down, staring at something in his hand.
“Kane, is that…?” Kenji stared at the street where the Jeep sat.
“Yeah. Isaiah brought it over for Ian. He thought Ian might want it.” Kane turned back to Kenji.
“I meant Ian. He’s out of the house?”
Kane nodded, then sighed. “Oh. Yeah. We were wondering if you might want to go for a drive.”
Kenji blinked. “Oh yeah. Is…is he okay?” he asked stepping back.
Kane moved into the house. “He’s… different. I don’t know if I’d say ‘okay’ yet. The zombie-like thing he had going is gone. He woke up last night to find out I’ve been having nightmares again. Proceeded to try to beat himself up for it.”
“Ugh.” Kenji frowned. “Not his fault.”
“That’s what I told him, but…”
“Yeah. He’s not going to listen.” Kenji shook his head.
“Since then, he’s been more… I dunno, aware?” Kane sighed. “I don’t know what to do with him. He kissed me. Then got mad at himself because he did. I feel like beating my head against the wall.”
“Geez, yeah. I’d probably be the same.” Kenji sighed. “Let me let Mom know where I’m going. Back in a bit.”
“Okay.” Kane turned back to the door and watched Ian through the glass. He’d laid his head back against the seat. And even from there, his wet cheeks were obvious.
Kane had never felt so helpless in his life as he had over the last couple of months. Even when he’d been a kid and at his mother’s and her boyfriend’s mercies, he hadn’t felt like that. Ian had been hurting and he couldn’t do a damned thing. He couldn’t bring him out of it, couldn’t help… just couldn’t.
The few times he’d been away from Ian outside of their separate classes, he’d ended up letting some of his frustrations out on a wall. There was a nice new patch of drywall and spackle in the living room. Or he’d done some sparring with Kenji, allowing Kenji to let his frustrations out too. But it didn’t help much, it was really only a stopgap at best.
The worst part of it all was that he understood there really wasn’t much of anything he could do. He and Kenji had lost Hayden too, but it was nothing like what Ian was going through. He hadn’t loved Hayden. And as close as Kenji and Hayden had been, it still wasn’t nearly the same. So neither of them could quite understand.
So, of course, neither could do anything.
Kane sighed and turned when he heard Kenji behind him. “Let’s see if we can get his mind on something else. We need to find some place he didn’t go with Hayden.”
“I might know of a place. Kind of on the other side of town but…” he trailed off and shrugged a shoulder.
“It’s worth a try,” Kane said. “Let’s go.”