This is the last chapter and the last time I'll be writing anything relating to Damon. From now on, he's the property of the lovely Esquirella.
A big thankyou to everyone who has read the Damon and Brett stories. I genuinely appreciate all the reviews and feedback I've received.
On altogether too many occasions in my life, I've looked at the person I've just slept with and thought 'why the fuck did I do that?' Without the lust, the arousal, the desire, the man who only half an hour prior seemed utterly irresistable has all too frequently been transformed into a person I simply don't want to be near.
Brett rolls on top of me and kisses me, softly chewing at my bottom lip. He wants tongue. He wants fluid exchange; saliva with the aftertaste of cum. I want him off me.
'Brett,' I mumble uneasily, trying to shift him off me. 'C'mon...'
'...no,' he interrupts hoarsely, following up his refusal with a significantly chaster, second kiss. 'Kiss me.'
I focus on the mechanics of kissing, rather than the person with whom I'm sharing affection, until his kisses become too wet - he's always been a sloppy kisser after and during sex - for me to bear.
'Brett,' I repeat, urgently this time. 'C'mon, get off me.'
He rolls off me, and onto his side. His eyes are wary. 'Are you going to tell me to go?'
I sit up and reach for my jeans. I dress hurriedly, whilst he remains nude underneath the doona, his eyes carefully following me. I want to hit myself, and hard, for taking him into bed. Who the fuck was I kidding? I knew Brett would take it as a sign that I still loved him, and yet I lied to myself and went on to take advantage of him.
'I'm sorry. Brett, I'm sorry. I didn't mean... Brett, I didn't fucking mean to...'
'...I really don't give a fuck Damon,' he replies harshly as he makes his way to the bedroom door, his jeans, boxers, and shorts dangling from one hand. He doesn't turn around, doesn't let me see his face, doesn't let me see anything than a nude view of his back, ass and legs. 'I really don't give a fuck.'
'Brett, I'm sorry,' I yelp desperately. I try and follow him, but he shuts himself in the bathroom before I have the chance to make him turn around and listen to my more-than-sincere apology. 'Brett, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I know I was an asshole to you. I know I should have told you how I felt. I know I should have called Lee. I'm sorry, okay, I'm sorry, don't you see that?'
He doesn't reply.
'I'm sorry,' I whisper, leaning against the closed bathroom door. 'Brett, I'm so sorry. I know you don't believe me, but trust me, I am. I never meant to hurt you. I really thought it was going to be forever. I never thought...I never thought...I never thought I'd stop loving you.'
There's a few seconds of heavily silence, in which I desperately pray he'll come out and let me apologise to his face - something I should have done a long, long, long time ago - but when I hear the water turn on, I realise he isn't ready to speak.
As I make my way to the kitchen, I realise how terribly I've handled the ending of our relationship. God, the people I've hurt. The people I've fucked over. The people I've intruded on, whose feelings have been hurt, who don't understand what I'm doing because I was so scared they'd tell me I shouldn't leave Brett that I left them entirely in the dark. I should have explained, clearly and concisely, my reasons and told them that was the end of the discussion. I shouldn't have hidden from Brett and his family and I most definitely shouldn't have led everyone to believe that I would be coming back.
Time passes and I hunch over a rapidly cooling cup of coffee planning how I'm going to make amends. It needs to be done. I have to stop thinking 'when I go overseas' and start thinking about the people I've left behind.
I used to hate my father. He made me, then left me. I thought he was the world's biggest asshole, but tonight, I realise that I'm the world's biggest asshole. I've left him for dust in the stakes of fuckwitted-ness. I consciously fostered a child, formed a bond, and then left him. My father never intended to create a child. I intended to foster one. I can't be angry at Lee for 'not understanding'. I can only be angry with myself for not explaining the situation to him, and not letting him know that I do indeed care for, and love, him.
I want to be selfish and cry, but I fight back the tears and head outside for a cigarette. I don't need anyone's sympathy, what I want - but don't deserve - is their forgiveness. Brett and Lee, Claire and Ella; they deserve sympathy. They deserve sympathy because I well and truly fucked them over.
Cigarette after cigarette is lit, smoked, and stubbed out. As I stare at the stars, I realise Brett's been in the bathroom for over an hour.
I stand outside the bathroom door and listen for signs of life. I can't hear a thing.
There's no reply.
'Brett?' I repeat, panicked. Oh God. No, I think, not this. Not this.
My heart's racing but my blood's running cold as I start hammering on the door, demanding him to come out. I'm petrified. I need to know that he's safe.
He doesn't reply to my pleas and I start racing through the flat, searching for some way to break open the door, all the while yelling at him to come out, or at least tell me he's alright.
'Damon,' he yells out eventually. 'Shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up you goddamned jackass.'
His sounds furious, but I don't give a flying fuck how angry he is; all I want is the knowledge that he's safe, and has not, as I feared, killed or hurt himself.
'Brett, are you okay?' I ask. 'Brett? Brett? Are you going to come out?'
There's no reply. He goes silent on me again. Fear starts to creep up once more. He's never reacted like this before. Most of the time he was so calm and in control, and even during the times when he believed he was flying blind in the game of life and had no control whatsoever, he would react by sulking, grizzling, or, on a few rare occasions, when he really felt out of his depth, tears.
I tell myself to calm down and think about the situation logically. I have a few options; wait for Brett to come out on his own, plead with him, threaten him with the police - probably not the brightest idea seeing as Mitch is a cop and probably doesn't want to arrive home to several of his colleagues tearing down his bathroom door, or call someone close to Brett and ask for assistance.
'Brett?' I call out, going over to the bathroom door. 'I'm going to give you half an hour to get out, or I'm going to call James and Mitch and ask them to come home.'
There's no reply. I'm not too worried. Brett hates being embarrassed and I figure on him getting out within half an hour. I tell myself if he's not out within forty-five minutes, I'll start reconsidering my options. I don't really want to call James or Mitch; I don't think they'd either be able to assist or provide any useful advice on how to resolve the situation.
When forty-three minutes have passed, I start panicking. It's past nine o'clock and Brett's been in the bathroom for nearly two hours. Shit. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit. I head outside for a cigarette. I smoke it, then light another straight away. I'm not the best at keeping a comprehensive phone book in my mobile, preferring to keep it to limited to people I'm likely to need to contact, but there are a few options. Well, five of them. Lee, Brian, Shelley, Ashley or Eleanor. Brett's foster son, his father, his mother, his brother, or his closest, and only, friend, now that Jamie has left his life.
Lee's too young to be appropriate. Besides, nowhere in the foster care manual did it ever state that the child had to rescue the adult. Plus, Brett would kill me if I called Lee. Truthfully, I think that's something that would push him over the edge.
Brian would be unsympathetic. I can't imagine him being anything but pleased that our relationship is over. I know he tried - and I honestly do think he did try - but he was never happy. I don't think he could ever grasp the fact that his second eldest son genuinely could be happy with another man. He wanted Brett to have a woman, someone who would have his babies. And maybe, just maybe, I can sometimes see where he was coming from. I've said it, and intimidated, on so many occasions that Brett would be happier with a woman, for the very reason that he so badly wanted children, so I can hardly yell at Brian for thinking the same thing. I don't like the way Brian dealt with the matter, but I would never say that his thoughts were entirely misaligned with my own.
Shelley, I don't doubt, could probably convince Brett to come out. There isn't much Brett wouldn't do for his mother, but I also know Shelley well enough to be fully aware that she'd start preaching to him about Christianity and the apparant abomination that homosexuality is, on the journey home.
That leaves Ashley and Eleanor. Both are good choices. They're both people who can reach Brett, and talk to him; Ashley because Brett's known him his entire life, and Eleanor, because she offers him...well, I don't know what she offers him, I was never that big on women, even just as friends, but Brett was never a man who could live with only male, or only female, company. I asked him about it once, and he simply replied that there are assets to most women that most men can't offer, and vice versa.
Unable to decide between the pair, I try calling Ashley, simply because he's listed before Brett in the phone book. But there's no answer, and I'm forced to leave a message on his answering service. I then call Eleanor but, frustratingly, am left with the same response. Upset and frustrated, I leave a message for her, too, begging her to come over.
'Brett, would you please come out?' I plead, standing outside the bathroom door. 'I'm sorry. Please Brett, you're starting to scare me.'
'Get fucked Damon,' he replies in a fed-up tone. 'Why the fuck won't you just fuck off?'
I start panicking that he's lost his mind. So I'm selfish; I start to cry. With tear-blurred eyes and fumbling fingers, I search the phone directory, aiming to call Shelley.
Thankfully, thankfully, she picks up.
Christ, that is not Shelley. The person that answers is a male, and I realise my mistake instantly.
'I'm sorry, wrong number,' I yelp, pressing the 'end call' button. Fuck it. Fuck it, fuck it, fuck it. After 'S' comes 'T' and in my haste and fear I've skipped past Shelly, and onto Terry, whose mobile number I never deleted from my phone.
My phone starts ringing. The phone number is private, and isn't disclosed on my screen. I don't want to answer in case it's Terry, but I know that I need to, in case it's Eleanor or Ashley.
'Hello?' I offer nervously.
'Damon, what the hell are you playing at?'
'Nothing. I'm sorry, I dialed the wrong number and...'
'...oh God, what's wrong? Damon, are you hurt? Did you have a seizure? Do you want me to call Brett? Please tell me what's happening, and I promise I won't ring back if it's nothing serious. Just let me know you're alright and I'll forget you called.'
I can't help it. Once upon a time I would have hung up immediately - I have hung up on Terry before - but I'm so fucking upset, and the fact that he's asking... I can't help it.
'I've broken up with Brett,' I sob. 'Terry, I went to TAFE and asked him to come around, and we had sex, and then I told him I didn't want to get back with him, and now he's...he's weird. He's in the bathroom, and he won't come out, and he's been in there for over two hours. James and Mitch are going to be back soon, and they're going to freak out if he's in there when they get back.'
'Wait, wait, wait,' he replies calmly. 'Where are you now?'
'James and Mitch's flat.'
'And what's the address?'
I give him the address.
'We'll be around,' he offers softly. 'And calm down, right Damon? There's nothing to worry about.'
'Brett? Are you okay buddy?'
Brett doesn't reply, but this time, the person he's ignoring isn't me. It's Jamie.
It feels weird to be around Terry and Jamie for the first time in over a year. Neither of them look quite as I remembered them, although nothing about them is noticeably different. Both are in jeans, but whilst Jamie wears his with a faded black Bundy Rum polo shirt, Terry wears his with a jacket, checkered shirt, and white undershirt, the latter of which forms a white triangle at the base of his throat. Since our fight, I've mentally referred to them as 'Mr Macho and his bitch' on more than one occasion, but truthfully, that's not at all what they're like. They're just...different to one another. Both are products of their cultures.
'Brett, mate, if you want me to fuck off, just say the word and I'll piss off,' Jamies offers.
Terry meets my eye and gestures to James and Mitch's bedroom. He wants Jamie to have some privacy whilst he negotiates with Brett. Terry shuts the door behind us and wearily sits on the edge of the bed. The doona's on the floor where Brett flung it, and the sheets are crumpled, but Terry doesn't seem to notice.
Cautiously, I sit down beside him. 'I'm sorry.'
He smiles weakly. 'There's nothing for you to be sorry about. It's Jamie and I that were in the wrong.'
'I'm still sorry. This isn't your problem.'
Terry's olive green eyes focus on mine. 'I'm not insinuating that I expect you to forgive us in return for this. That isn't the case Damon. That isn't the case at all.'
'You've tried calling us before.'
'I know,' he admits ruefully. 'I missed you. And Jamie missed Brett. It was like Jamie had lost his right leg. I wanted...I wanted Brett to forgive him. I wanted you to convince Brett to forgive Jamie.'
I pause for a little while and consider my reply.
'Lee had a baby. With Claire. Her name is Ella. They're living with us now. Well, they're living with Brett, but they were living with 'us'. Only 'us' doesn't exist anymore.'
Terry nods carefully and slowly, piece by piece, draws out the events of the past year. I explain Lee and Claire and Ella, our change of residence, my split with Brett and finally, the full details of this afternoon.
Terry listens, occasionally interrupting me to ask a question or to clarify something. His face shows a gamut of emotions as I move from one topic to another, outlining events that to me seem trivial, yet are necessary for Terry to understand exactly what's led to Brett locking himself in the bathroom.
I'm almost at the end of my story when there's a knock at the door. It jolts me from my thoughts and I rush out of the room to answer it.
Both Eleanor and Ashley are standing at the door, one short and plump and blonde, the other tall and lean and dark, both with worried expressions on their faces.
I don't know what to tell them. I glance towards the bathroom and realise that Jamie's not standing or sitting outside, which means only one thing; he's inside with Brett.
'What's up?' Ashley demands. 'Why the fuck did you call and then turn your mobile off?'
'I didn't,' I reply awkwardly, reaching into my pocket. 'I think it's just run out of power.'
'It's called a charger Damon,' Ashley replies angrily. 'Try using it sometime, rather than having everyone get worried.'
'Damon, ever fucking member of our family wants to know what the fuck's going on. You'd want to have some answers waiting kiddo.'
I've never fought or argued with Ashley before. Every issue he's had with our relationship has been taken up with Brett, and Brett only.
'Ash?' Jamie calls from the bathroom. 'Is that you mate?'
'Yeah, I got Ellie with me,' Ash replies, brushing me aside and leading Eleanor behind.
I stare after them in shock, until Terry grabs my hand and leads me into the bedroom. He gestures for me to go in and wait for him. I sit on the edge of the bed, nervous, for fifteen minutes. I cry, again. Fuck it, I never meant for this to happen. I never wanted it to end this way. Tears don't just dribble, they fucking cascade over my cheeks as I cry for everything I've lost, and for everyone I've fucked over.
It seems like an eternity before Terry comes into the room again. I can hear the others, preparing to leave, and wonder what's going on. I wonder if Brett's okay, and if he hates me. I futilely ponder what the fuck I'm going to be able to do to make everyone forgive me.
'Here, there's nothing to cry about,' Terry offers gently, sitting down alongside me and wrapping an arm around me. 'They're going now. Eleanor's going to go back with Brett, Jamie's going to go home, and Ashley's going to call everyone and tell them it's alright.'
'I'm so sorry. I didn't mean for any of this to happen.'
Terry sighs. 'Nobody ever does Damon. Don't beat yourself up. Let's face it; Jamie and I have done so much worse.'
'But nobody forgave you.'
There's a pause before Terry answers. 'That's true,' he admits. 'But it'll be different for you. Lee still wants to keep in touch, and over time, wounds will heal. Brett will move on, and so will you. One day you'll probably be fantastic friends and this will be nothing but a distant memory.'
'I can't wait for that day,' I admit.
He smiles and draws me into a hug. 'I'm glad you met him. Not just because I wouldn't have met Jamie otherwise, but because I think you did wonderful things for each other. You helped him come out, and you fostered a child together. Now your time is up. That's not Brett's fault, and it's certainly not yours.'
'I hate feeling this bad.'
'I know,' he whispers into my ear. 'Nobody does. But you're good at crying, so just get it all out and have a good sleep, and tomorrow, you'll wake up ready to face the world.'
'That's such a cliche.'
Terry surprises me by laughing. 'Please, I'm the world's biggest gay stereotype. You didn't honestly expect me to be original, did you?'
'You only look like a stereotype.' I smile, despite myself. 'And sound like one. And dress like one.'
'And have AIDS like one.'
'HIV and AIDS aren't interchangeable,' I mock, slightly - slightly - happier. Terry always treated people who didn't know the difference between HIV and AIDS with disdain.
'No, they're not,' Terry agrees quietly.
It takes me a second for what's he saying to sink in. 'You have AIDS now? But I thought you had another eight years or something before that would happen?'
'It happened early,' he clarifies tiredly. 'I was positive for five years.'
'Time's gone so quickly.'
Sometimes I wonder whether Terry and I were really ever lovers and then I remember, yes, we were. He's so upper class, so well groomed, so concerned about his appearance. He's so differentto me. He's not like Brett, or James, or Mitch, or Jamie, and yet he still finds love and friendship amongst people who have significantly less money than he. I've never known anyone else with money who would want to be seen with someone lower or middle class. I've never known anyone quitelike Terry. He can be an absolute asshole or one of the best men in Australia. It can be hard to remember his good side when he's just fucked you over, but tonight...tonight I want him to be in my life again. I miss him, and not just because I've left Brett. I miss him because of who he is.
'I'm sorry,' I apologise. 'For you, and for Jamie.'
He smiles weakly. 'So am I. And I'm sorry for you, too. But you did the right thing. It isn't fair to stay with someone you don't love. I don't think you handled the break up well, but I know you didn't mean to hurt anyone. That's just not in your nature.'
I want to cry again, but this time, I want to cry out of gratitude. I sniffle. I start to sob.
'I'm so sorry,' I confess to him. 'I hate how bad this feels.'
'I know,' he whispers, hugging me and patting my hair. 'I know.'
Terry remains with me until James and Mitch come home. Neither of my hosts are pleased to find out what I've done, but nor are they particularly angry. Mitch cooks dinner whilst James, Terry and I hunch over the kitchen table, discussing life, love and what we've been doing for the past year or so.
Terry leaves a few hours later, calling and catching a cab, and soon after, James and Mitch make their excuses and head off to bed.
Alone, I lie on the sofa bed, staring at the ceiling, and mulling over the afternoon.
It wasn't easy, saying good-bye to Brett. We had so many good times together, and I really, truly, loved him for the greater portion of our time together.
One day, I'd like to thank him for being my partner. I'd like to thank him for all the good times we had together, and for giving me such good memories of our time together. He cared for me whenever I had a seizure, or felt like crap and he never really neglected me. He just stopped being the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
I mull over our life together until before I know it, the first rays of sun are breaking through the windows. It's Saturday. Well, strictly speaking, Saturday came six hours prior, but it's the dawning of a new day, and despite my tiredness, I greet the day, everything life has to offer, contentedly.