When Malcolm woke up he was greeted with three very familiar faces. Tony, Jonas and Will all crowded around the bed; all smiling so hopefully he couldn't help but smile back. It felt weird to smile, he discovered, as if his mouth was out of practice.
Then he looked over and saw Caleb and his heart soared. How was he here? Well, who cared, what mattered was that he was! Another familiar figure behind Caleb caught Malcolm's attention.
His mother. An emotion he hadn't felt since his near death coursed through his tired body. Fury.
"Who –" Malcolm started to ask Caleb then realized he probably wouldn't know so he turned to Tony, who always managed to be on top of events. "Who the hell let her in?" He croaked and Tony's mouth dropped open.
Sure, it probably wasn't the first thing anyone expected Malcolm to say, but it's what came out. And really what the hell was his mother doing here?
"Malcolm!" His mother cried in shock.
"He doesn't know what he's saying." Will reassured his mother quickly as he moved closer to his friends side. "Do you remember before…?" He trailed off and Malcolm blinked at him.
"Remember? Of course I do! If it wasn't for her I wouldn't have –" Malcolm quickly cut himself off as he fully realized the situation. He'd tried to kill himself, he'd known it all week, but waking up in the hospital put a new light on that little fact. One that made him feel foolish, angry and unexpectedly very guilty. What had he done? Why had he let her push him to his breaking point?
He looked to Caleb, who looked worried and confused as he watched all of them like he wasn't keeping up very well. Malcolm had tried to kill himself and Caleb didn't know, he remembered as he shut his mouth so firmly it became a thin line. What would Caleb do once he found out Malcolm had lied? Would he be angry, furious, repulsed? Would he leave? Malcolm couldn't see why he wouldn't.
"I didn't make you do anything!" His mother hissed angrily.
The fight had gone out Malcolm suddenly and he shook his head at his mother sadly. "Why are you here? Do you feel guilty? Well, I don't care, get out." Had he yelled it the others probably would have stepped in for his mother, as it was he sounded wounded even to himself.
Everyone turned to his mother for her response as Malcolm rested his head against his hand. "I… you… You didn't have to be such a drama queen! None of this is my fault!" She exclaimed loudly.
"Out!" Jonas said before Malcolm could. "Get out, Malcolm doesn't need this." Tony and Will nodded in agreement and Will actually pointed to the door.
His mother scoffed at the room in general before storming off. "Good for nothing son." She made sure to say loudly as she left.
They all watched after her a moment, Caleb was so stunned by Malcolm's mothers' behavior he couldn't find words. Without a doubt he now realized he didn't know what was going on. Who could say things like that to their child ever, much less while they lay sick in the hospital?
Why did Malcolm think she felt guilty? Did he get his illness from her? Was it contagious; like hepatitis, HIV, what? A million and one diseases and afflictions ran through his mind as he turned back to Malcolm but everything flew out of his head when he saw the hurt look on his lover's face.
"Malcolm?" Caleb quickly took up his hand again and was rewarded with a crooked smile as he squeezed Caleb's hand in his.
"You were my dream come true, what are you doing here in my nightmare?" Malcolm joked lightly but they all heard the pain in his tone.
Caleb blushed at his sweet words but before he could respond there was a light knock on the door. It was Dr. Park and he smiled when he saw Malcolm awake and sitting up. Caleb stepped back and stood out of the way beside Tony while the doctor quickly examined his patient.
Tony lightly nudged Caleb's arm with his. "Dream come true?" He asked with a happy, curious light in his eye that had Caleb blushing again but he couldn't help but smile when Tony grinned.
"Your condition has improved greatly, Mr. Moon. I've already called for a psych consol and I think soon you'll be transferred to a different floor."
"Psych consol?" Caleb asked, completely confused. Why did Malcolm need to talk to a psychologist? Caleb's curious expression was met with on of horror from Malcolm.
"I… alright." He told the doctor quickly, as if he didn't want to talk about it.
"You'll be released as soon as they asses that you aren't a risk to yourself." Dr. Park reassured off handedly as he was scribbling something in Malcolm's chart.
Caleb's breath caught in his throat as the doctors meaning washed over him. All the things Malcolm's mother had said, all that Malcolm had refused to say during the last week, it all clicked into place.
"Oh…" Caleb breathed as his nausea from before returned ten fold. Malcolm had tried to kill himself. The sweet, loving man who had dropped into his life had only done so because he'd tried to destroy himself.
"Caleb?" Malcolm said worriedly but he seemed to hear it from far away.
"Whoa, okay!" Tony said before strong hands grabbed his arms and he was rushed from the room. The next thing Caleb knew he kneeling on the floor, retching into a toilet.
"Are you alright?" Tony asked when Caleb finished.
"I didn't know." Caleb said hollowly.
Tony stepped into the stall and handed him some damp paper towel. Caleb held it to his mouth in an attempt to ignore the foil smell coming from the toilet as he flushed it.
"I would have called you, but I didn't know Malcolm had met anyone… I'm sorry." Tony explained quietly as Caleb got to his feet.
"Why? Why did he do it?" He asked quietly, scared to know the truth, scared to not know it. Tony met his gaze and there was sympathy and understanding in his light brown eyes.
"I've been dying to ask him that for a week." He said sadly.
"It was a stupid thing to do." Malcolm had said to the psychologist when he'd come. Now the statement bounced around his mind and wouldn't allow him rest. It seemed it applied to almost everything he'd done recently. He'd been stupid to try and take his own life, stupid to lie to Caleb, stupid to have let him so close.
Caleb had run out of the room looking like he was in appalled shock as soon as he'd learned the truth and he hadn't come back. His worst fears were coming to light now that he was awake and alive again. He'd fallen in love; completely and undeniably in love and the man who now held his heart had run from the room. Had he run out of his life as well? Had Malcolm scared him away? The pain that had driven him to take a bottle full of pills seemed miniscule compared to the agony he now felt knowing he'd scared the man he loved away.
Malcolm lay back in his bed, an arm over his eyes so he didn't see someone come in, but he heard it. He expected to see Will or Jonas, who had gone to the cafeteria when the psychologist came. Who he hadn't dared hope was walking through his door was Caleb, but it was, and he looked scared.
"Are you alright?" Malcolm asked, sitting up.
"Shouldn't I be asking you that?" He asked quietly and Malcolm winced.
"I… Caleb, I'm sorry I lied. I didn't… I mean… It just hurt so bad." His voice wavered and Caleb was immediately there, pulling him into a tight hug. Malcolm ducked his head and clung to his lover, marveling in that fact that he could.
"Will you tell me what happened?" Caleb asked hesitantly as he rubbed a reassuring hand over Malcolm's back.
Malcolm closed his eyes. His problems, especially ones he had with his family, weren't things he talked about. It had always made him feel weak to confide in others, like he expected them to fix things for him when he should have been able to do it himself. But with Caleb holding him he did feel weak and now he desperately wanted to be rescued. Please, Caleb, save me from myself, pick up the pieces of my heart and tell me you want what's left of it. Malcolm thought as he drew in a breath and started his story.
"My family has never been a compassionate one. My dad never wanted kids, but he ended up with two anyway. My mother hadn't wanted kids either, but they were a way to keep her husband from leaving. He left anyway when I was eight and my mom was stuck with me and my sister. She hadn't been that nurturing a person before he left but after… we became her unwanted burden and she made sure we knew it.
"I took care of Hailey, she was two years younger than me and she didn't understand our mom like I did. Hailey was my responsibility…" Malcolm paused as if he needed to catch his breath and Caleb patiently sat on his bed and held his hands. "When I was ten, my grandmother invited us to visit her during the summer. She lived on the coast where it was cooler and my mother jumped at the chance to get away from the city heat. My grandmother saw us as the mistake that our mother claimed we were so when they wanted to be left alone they would drop us off at the beach, not caring what we did as long as we weren't bothering them.
"Hailey was so active, so exuberant and full of life that even at ten I could hardly keep up with her. So I let her play in the water with some friends she'd made while I played on the beach with some other kids. She was gone a long time and when people started to go home I realized she wasn't among the families that were left. I looked, other mothers and kids helped me look but she was just gone. The police came and I had to explain over and over again I didn't know where my mother was. That Hailey wasn't a good swimmer. That I was so sorry." Malcolm chanced a look up at Caleb and saw his eyes full of horror and brimming with tears.
"Don't cry, Cay, it'll make me cry and I'll never get through this." Malcolm joked lightly even as he blinked back tears. Caleb nodded and squeezed his hands.
"Did you find her?" He asked softly.
"No. They combed the beach and water, but it was the ocean and the tide was in. The police said she might have been caught in an under tow and washed out to sea, or that someone might have grabbed her when no one was looking. I believed it was the ocean, Hailey would have screamed and chewed on anyone who tried to grab her, she was a bright and smart kid. And I lost her that day." Malcolm shook his head and Caleb unexpectedly cupped his face tenderly.
"It wasn't your fault." He said sternly and Malcolm smirked.
"Maybe. We were all each other had, I was always over protective of her, I just don't know why I wasn't that day." Malcolm stared off a moment as he recalled the newer part of the story and felt his chest well with a slow burning anger. "A month ago my mother came to me. I hadn't seen her in about three years. She hated me even more after I lost her little girl and I hated her even more for being her, so we didn't pop up in each others lives much.
"She told me she'd hired a private detective to look for Hailey, that she'd always felt like her baby was still out there. The PI had some leads and they thought that someone might have kidnapped her off the beach after all and it hadn't been the ocean that claimed her. My baby sister might be out there, and my mother needed money to find her. I gave her everything, Caleb. All my savings, all my tuition, I quit school because my sister was more important than my education. I gave my mother so much I was being evicted; I was only eating when I would visit the guys because I couldn't afford to buy groceries. I was so desperate to find Hailey, for her death to have not been my fault that I was stupid.
"A week ago I found out my mother wasn't using the money I gave her to further the search for her missing daughter. Instead the money was for her gambling debts, which got higher and higher because she kept loosing but they didn't turn her away because she kept showing up with my money." Malcolm closed his eyes tight. "I was so angry. How could she use Hailey to get money out of me? She lied about everything and I was the fool who believed her when my life had been a study in why I should never trust that woman.
"So late one night I decided I wanted to stop hurting and I didn't want to feel guilty over Hailey anymore. I swallowed a bottle of pills. I'm not proud I did it. It's just another thing to add to my long list of stupid things I've done." Malcolm shrugged heavily. "The next thing I knew I was a ghost who was captivated by you. I kept telling myself I should leave you alone, that you didn't need me stalking you but I couldn't make myself leave and I couldn't make myself tell you the truth. I was stupid again."
Caleb's mouth fell open at that. "Malcolm Moon! You are lots of things, but you're not stupid. If anything you're too caring, too loving but never stupid. You were especially not stupid to save me today!" It was Malcolm's turn to pull Caleb into a hug. "Thank you for that, I don't know what I would have done had you not shown up. Thank you." Caleb whispered and kissed Malcolm softly.
Malcolm's heart soared as Caleb's lips caressed his. Caleb wasn't angry and he wasn't running out of his life. Everything was not right in his world, but something was finally going spectacularly well.
"Oh my gosh, they're kissing!" Tony cheered playfully as he and the others came back into the room.
"Gross." Jonas stuck his tongue out playfully and Malcolm smiled.
"Come on, like you've never seen two guys kiss before." He waved towards Tony and Will. Tony smiled and Will rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, gross times two!" Jonas snickered when Tony kicked at him. Malcolm had missed his friends, they were fun but more than that they were always there for each other. He felt a wave of guilt wash over him again.
"Guys…" Malcolm started quietly and they all turned to him. "I'm really sorry if I scared you… I wasn't thinking straight."
"Just don't do it again." Will said sternly and Malcolm held a hand over his heart.
"Tell us how you guys met, Caleb kept going pale whenever we asked before you woke up…. Kind of like he is now." Tony mused.
"It's kind of crazy… and we're in the psych ward. I don't want them to commit Malcolm permanently or anything. Can't it wait until he goes home?" Caleb asked quietly.
"I hope you guys won't mind visiting me under a bridge. Do you think they'll forward my mail to a card board box?" Malcolm mused playfully but the other three gave him confused look. "I'm getting evicted." Malcolm explained.
"You can live with me." Jonas offered.
"Or us." Tony chimed in and Will nodded.
"Or me." Caleb offered quietly by his side and Malcolm looked at him with wide eyes.
"R-really?" He knew his mouth was hanging open but he couldn't help it. Caleb wanted to live with him, after all the drama and turmoil, he still wanted Malcolm close?
"Why not? At least now I can make you pick up after yourself." Caleb snickered.
"You can try." He smiled widely before giving Caleb a hungry kiss - just because he could.
Caleb's feet easily sank into the sand and it became a struggle to try and walk with flip flops on the beach. It had been so long since he'd been to the beach he forgot small things like that. With that thought he looked over at his boyfriend, who was kicking off his own shoes and opting to carry them. When Malcolm straightened again his looked out at the ocean and his gaze seemed to become locked as all expression drained away from his face.
It was summer break and to celebrate Malcolm successfully going back to school and completing his first semester they had all - including Jonas, Will and Tony - decided to go on a trip. It was Malcolm's suggestion to go to the coast which had surprised Caleb and no one had had the nerve to ask him why or argue a different location. This would be his first trip back since his sister's death. Caleb couldn't guess why he chose now of all times to go back to the coast, especially after the drama last year.
Caleb reached out and took Malcolm's hand and they both stood quietly, looking out at the ocean waters sparkle brightly in the sunlight.
"Let's go swimming Bobo!" Jonas called as he made his way onto the beach. The tall boy and a small dog on a leash barreled passed Caleb and Malcolm as they raced to the water.
"Wait! He just had a bath! Jonas, take off Bobo's fancy collar before it gets wet!" Will called desperately as his friend took off with his dog.
"That didn't sound gay at all." Tony joked as he and Will walked passed Caleb.
Will passed a look to his boyfriend, which was apparently all the warning Tony needed because he took off running with Will right behind him.
Malcolm laughed and Caleb gave him a started look. Malcolm smiled and squeezed Caleb's hand in his.
"You okay, Cay?" He asked when he realized he was the only one laughing.
"I… I'm just worried about you."
His lover's smile faded but didn't disappear. "I'm okay. I want to make happy memories here, to replace the old one."
"Oh." Caleb nodded, finally understanding Malcolm's choice of vacation spots. They started walking again hand in hand and Caleb burst out laughing when he saw Will in the water dunking Tony under the waves before pouncing on Jonas. He then proceeded to delicately pick up his dog and cuddle it while his boyfriend sputtered and spit out sea water.
"Remember last week when you drove Tony's car?" Malcolm asked suddenly.
Caleb smiled wider. "Yeah, that was fun, up until I got the speeding ticket anyway. I still blame that on you. 'Faster, Caleb! Oh, oh! Faster!' It should be illegal for one's boyfriend to use their bedroom voice from shot gun."
Malcolm smiled evilly. "I said I'd pay for the ticket. Besides that gave us a new fun scenario for the bedroom. 'Why officer, what a big badge you have.'"
Caleb just blushed and kept his mouth shut.
"And do you remember our first date?" Malcolm promoted eagerly as they sat down on the shore. Tony had jumped on Will's back and was trying to wrestle him under the water, but he only got dunked again himself. Jonas pointed and laughed before Will tackled him playfully.
"Our first date?" Caleb asked confused by the sudden change of topic. "Of course."
"All 31 flavors, you were so romantic." Malcolm smiled wistfully. "And how about last month when we were on Jonas's laptop and we photo shopped Rocky Horror Picture Show faces onto pictures of Tony and Will?"
Now Caleb was just plain confused about Malcolm's line of thinking. "Yeah, I remember. Tony freaked out cause he was Meat Loaf when he said he was the perfect Janet. I think Will has the picture as his background still." Caleb smiled when Malcolm grinned. "What's with all these questions?" He asked confused.
"Hmmm." Malcolm simply said passing him a sly look. "You never did buy condoms."
Caleb couldn't help the puzzled look he gave Malcolm. "Well, no we don't need -" And then he remember. Months ago Malcolm had told him a list of things a man needed to do before he died…. And he wanted to make happy memories on the beach.
"No." He blushed so profusely he felt dizzy. Malcolm just looked pleased that his lover had finally caught on to his train of thought.
"Why not?" Malcolm whined cutely as he scootched closer and planted a kiss on Caleb's neck.
"There are people here!" Caleb squeaked as Malcolm wrapped him in his arms and trailed kisses until he was kissing him warmly on the lips. Caleb quickly forgot what he'd been protesting against as he kissed Malcolm back. He lost more fights this way than he could count, not that he really minded. Being with Malcolm, living with him and loving him for these last months had been the best time of his life. It wasn't because they had the perfect relationship, because they definitely didn't, they had their share of problems. But none of that mattered in the end, not when Caleb could roll over in the morning to find Malcolm there, all gorgeous and huggable.
"I love you." Caleb whispered against Malcolm's lips, completely lost to the moment. He never got tired of saying those three words, nor hearing them.
Malcolm smiled, kissed him one last time before leaning back slightly, a triumphantly cute expression on his face. "And I love you. Does this mean I win?"
"Have you ever lost?" Caleb smirked before rolling his eyes. "Geez, I just agreed to sex on the beach. I really will do anything for you." Caleb tried to sound grumpy but couldn't pull it off since Malcolm was cuddling up beside him.
"Don't worry, we'll come back tonight when no ones here. I don't want to share you with anyone, no peeping toms get to set eyes on my baby." Malcolm cooed and Caleb snickered, and was of course, blushing again.
They sat together on the sand a moment, watching the water dunking battle still going on between their three friends. "You'll really do anything for me?" Malcolm asked quietly after a moment.
Caleb glanced over at him, Malcolm's suddenly serious tone making him nervous. He just agreed to public shenanigan, what could Malcolm possibly have in mind now? "Yes." Caleb answered honestly, knowing a lie would only be obvious.
"Then stay with me forever?" Malcolm nearly whispered. Caleb watched him a moment, realizing Malcolm was being completely serious and waiting for a response while he held his breath.
"Oh, is that all? Of course, sweetie." Caleb answered easily and was rewarded with such an enthusiastic response it brought tears to his eyes. Malcolm kissed him like there was no tomorrow.
Bobo came trotting up then in all his dripping wet dog glory and shook all the water off onto them. "Oh ew! Bobo, that so is not the end I wanted to this romantic moment." Malcolm gripped as he wiped water from his face. Caleb simply smiled, feeling a little light headed and giddy suddenly.
"What are you whining about?" Will asked as he and the others came sloshing back to shore.
"Bobo got his fancy collar wet." Malcolm informed, taking perverse pleasure in Will's upset look.
"Caleb… you look drunk." Tony observed as he flopped down beside him.
"I think Malcolm just proposed." Caleb smiled.
Malcolm grinned when the other three shot surprised looks at him. "I guess I did, didn't I? Well, it's about time I took a wife." Which started Caleb sputtering and the others laughing.
Caleb turned narrowed eyes at Tony. "What are you laughing about? You're going to be my maid of honor, aren't you?" Which stopped Tony laughing and had Will rolling in the sand.
"I don't have to dress in drag do I?" Tony asked worriedly.
"But you'd look so good in a pink brides maids dress!" Malcolm laughed even harder.
"Pink?" Tony squeaked, going pale.
"No, no." Caleb shook his head reassuringly and Tony let out a sigh of relief. "I think blue would suit you better."
And they all burst out laughing anew, which got them a few odd looks from other beach goers but none of them noticed or cared. Caleb smiled until it hurt, leaning into Malcolm so he wouldn't end up rolling in the sand like Will. In that moment he felt completely happy, with the man he loved more than life itself beside him and their friends laughing with them he knew this was a wonderful preview to the rest of his life. And he wouldn't have traded it for the world.
Authors note : Thanks everyone who read and left such kind and encouraging comments! I really appreciate it! I hope you liked the ending to this, it ended up being allot more fluffy than I intended it to be so I hoped it worked lol