A/N: Last chapter. Sorry it's not the best ending, but I really fought with this chapter. It just didn't want to end.
Part 3: Chapter 8
No one told Locke's parents. Even Emmy, who was frustratingly sensible sometimes, thought it wouldn't be a good idea to tell them that he was no longer in rehab. Locke was buzzing on some sort of natural high from the moment they stepped out of the suffocating building, laughing happily as he hugged his brother, thanking him over and over again for releasing him.
He was still just as happy the next day. Sacha groaned as his friend woke up and started shaking him to wake him, regretting sharing the big bed with Locke. He'd forgotten how much of a fidget his best friend was. The whole night had been a horrible series of kicks, mumbles and cuddles, all of which had woken him.
"Morning." Emmy greeted them, not looking away from her laptop screen. It looked like she'd been up all night with the ten half finished mugs of coffee spread around her. "Sacha, cook some eggs."
Locke laughed at the disgruntled expression on Sacha's face as the half asleep teen shuffled over to the fridge to retrieve the eggs. He moved to the coffee though and started making coffee, giving Sacha an apologetic look when he glared at him.
"There's some stuff on the table for you Locke. Xavier dropped it off this morning. It's about GCSEs." Emmy paused in her typing and started hunting through the pile of paper beside her. "Sacha, you need to call your father."
Sacha pulled a face but nodded, letting Locke head over to the table to investigate the GCSE junk while he cooked their breakfast.
"Have you slept?"
"I got an hour at about three but then I woke up and had to come and write a few things down." Emmy frowned, looking at the clock. "When did it get to ten? Last time I looked it was six."
Locke gave him a 'is she for real' look and Sacha snorted, cracking the eggs into the mixing bowl. He nodded as Emmy returned to her writing, still frowning.
"I need to meet someone at eleven." She announced and dashed from the room, tripping over a couple of unpacked boxes.
"Is she always like this?" Locke asked curiously, moving to Sacha's said and sliding arms around him. "Sorry I woke you up."
"She's like this when she's writing. Usually she's forgetful but not this bad." Sacha leant against him, reaching for the whisk. "It's fine. I have stuff to do anyway."
"Have I told you lately that you're far too tidy for a teenage boy?"
"No but I get the feeling you're about to."
"We should go out and do something fun."
"Throw pennies at the buskers in the park?" Locke suggested with a grin and Sacha rolled his eyes. "What?"
"How about, for a change, we be the buskers?"
Locke blinked at him, clearly not expecting that to be suggested, and slowly he nodded. Both of them could play the violin and had played together for most of their musical careers. Locke was better at it though, mainly because he actually liked to play whereas Sacha had been pushed into picking an instrument to begin with, yet another requirement of living up to his parents expectations.
They ate, Locke asking for stories about his friends from the village, and once the plates were cleaned and put away they went in search of Sacha's violin.
"What am I going to do about an instrument?"
"If Xavier was here this morning then he probably brought some of your stuff. Check the living room."
There were four boxes of possessions and two suit cases of clothes and Locke's eyes lit up when he uncovered his books. He was already reading the Count of Monte Cristo but he was probably going to start taking over the place with books.
"It's here." Sacha pulled the offensively expensive instrument out of one of the boxes and Locke grabbed it, stroking his hands over the case.
"I missed you." He whispered to the inanimate object and Sacha rolled his eyes.
"Before we go out will you help me do something?"
Sacha picked up two boxes of hair dye from one of Locke's boxes. One bleach, the other a dark blonde that wasn't too different to his natural hair colour.
"Can we get rid of the black in my hair?"
"Any reason for it?" Locke asked curiously, placing the violin case down.
"Just getting fed up with the black." He wanted to get rid of it because Ged had liked it so much. Not that he would be admitting that to anyone any time soon.
They were in the park an hour later, setting up not far from the benches they usually sat on. Under some unspoken agreement they began with the fifth movement of Holst's planet's suite. It was a piece they'd performed once when they were both attending the same school.
When they'd been throwing pennies at the other performers Sacha had never thought about the amount of courage it took to stand there and play, risking humiliation. Locke was perfectly fine, a born exhibitionist, whereas he was panicky. He knew his friend wouldn't make a single mistake but he was very likely to.
"This is great." Locke mused as he slouched on the bed, watching Sacha carefully carve the chosen pattern into the wooden picture frame they'd found in a small market on their way home. "Emmy just lets you get away with anything."
"We're not getting drunk." Sacha retorted without looking up.
"I was actually going to say cooking something." Locke whispered, biting his lip and Sacha silently cursed himself for his insensitivity.
"What do you fancy?"
"I can only cook toast."
"I'll show you. Fancy prawns?"
Locke nodded and followed. Sacha cooked, talking about Emmy's plans for the book tour while Locke spent most of the time hovering around him and wringing his hands. It took a while for Sacha to realise what was wrong, but the moment he caught his best friend looking at the clock he realised what was happened. All cooking stopped immediately and he caught hold of Locke's hands.
"You're struggling aren't you?"
"Yes." Locke nodded miserably, pointedly avoiding eye contact. "I'm a mess Sacha. I should still be in rehab."
"Nonsense. If you're stuck there then you won't be around for the fun." Emmy's voice made them both jump and turn to the door to where Emmy was stood with Xavier.
It took her only moments to have Locke caught up in the Emmy-whirlwind and Sacha grinned when she winked at him. Honestly, he'd had no idea what to do to help him friend but Emmy diverted his attention with ease.
Suddenly it was hard to deal with family. There he was, stood next to Emmy at his parents' anniversary party, expected to be nice to them when he knew that his whole family had manipulated him into getting Emmy closer to them.
"Smile Little Bear." Emmy winked at him, tugging him towards the dance floor. She looked beautiful, like she had that night when she took him and Ged to the city and he'd seen her dressed up properly.
"Emmy, I hate dancing."
"Tough. I like to. I spent a fortune on that suit as well, so stop chewing the sleeve." She wasn't letting go so he reluctantly let her lead him into the dancers. "You need to cheer up a little Sacha. I don't want any fights tonight."
"I really don't want to be here." He told her, placing a hand on her waist and taking her other hand. "And I hate this poncy dancing. Give me a rave any night and I'll be happy, but this drives me mad."
"Behave and I'll let you throw a huge party in the cottage after the tour and go out for the night. Callum can buy you loads of alcohol and you can binge drink." She teased, ruffling his hair as he attempted to dance.
The evening had been very typical of his parents. No one there was invited because they were a friend, they'd simply invited anyone who they considered to be worthy in their social status. Freya had a couple of friends there and spent most of the evening with them, dancing with one of the boys.
"Your little sister is a lot like Daphne." Emmy mused, watching the younger teenager flutter her eyelashes at the boy. "He's the heir to the biggest inheritance in the city I believe."
He didn't want to even look at her if he was honest. She'd actually managed to trick him into believing she was genuinely missing him. It hurt more to him that she'd pretended than it did that his parents had told so many lies.
"May I cut in?" Daphne said cheerfully and Emmy grudgingly released her hold on Sacha, frowning.
"I'll come find you afterwards." Sacha told her and Emmy nodded, walking back to the corner the two of them had occupied for most of the evening.
"I always knew she was jealous." Daphne sniffed and Sacha looked up at her with a scowl. "Oh don't look like that. She's obsessed with you."
"She just cares."
"She's acting like she's your mother." Daphne sneered, eyes cold and Sacha let go of her, stepping away from her.
"It's about time someone did."
"You spiteful brat!" She hissed, reaching for him but he was used to her and dodged her hand. "I should have just put you up for adoption when you were born!"
A few of the dancers around them stopped, watching with interest as the typical family drama started. At least this time Sacha was sober during his routine fight with his parents.
"Maybe you should. Then I could at least have had parents that gave a shit!"
"I'd give a shit if you weren't such a disappointment!"
"If you set reasonable expectations then I would actually be able to achieve them."
"They are reasonable for someone with a brain." Daphne's voice was rising to the shrill shriek he was used to and he glared at her. "You're useless Sacha. If it's not about paint, drugs or sex then you're not interested are you?"
"Like you know anything about me!" He retorted, shrugging Emmy's hand from his shoulder as the woman reached them. "You don't care about anything except money."
"I know that you're not going to amount to anything."
"Shows what you know."
"Oh, I apologise." Daphne's eyes flashed with fury as Freya and his father reached them. "You'd make a very good whore, you're quite happy to give yourself to anyone who buys you."
"I think that's enough." A male voice cut over all of them and Sacha looked over at Xavier in surprise. "My car is outside Sacha, feel free to use it to go home."
Emmy took Sacha's hand but didn't walk away. She looked at her sister sadly.
"You've always been a disappointment to me Daphne. It is a pity that your daughter is following in your footsteps, especially when your family is on the verge of losing everything you own." She stated, her eyes going to her brother-in-law. "I would have been more than happy to help you had you been genuine towards your own son but as it is I will never be offering you any hand outs. You need to find someone else to rob to keep your company afloat because it will not be me."
As she walked away, pulling Sacha along behind her, he felt a huge swell of pride. She'd ended their games, and stopped them from being able to ruin anyone else by doing it publicly. It was too late for Connor but it meant that they wouldn't be able to try to throw someone else to the wolves.
He was going to cheer when they climbed into Xavier's car but Emmy put her face in her hands, shoulders shaking and he slowly shut the door. It was the second time he'd seen her cry in only two weeks both times had been because of his parents.
He paused, the door almost shut and peered over his shoulder to see Freya running towards the car.
"Talk to her." Emmy ordered, wiping her face carefully with a tissue and he nodded, climbing back out and closing the door to give his aunt some privacy.
"What the hell was that?" His sister demanded and he stared at her.
"Stop the act."
"They've been so much better and you just threw it all back in their faces!"
"Stop the act."
"This one!" He gestured to her. "Yes, I fell for it before but now I can see through it."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Then I'll explain. You told them you'd seen me at the tennis and they came up with this elaborate plan to get me back to the city in order to get Emmy here." He kept his voice calm, mimicking his father's impassive expression and she bit her lip. "They promised you something in exchange for playing along. We came to the city. Daphne asked Emmy to go into father's business. Want to add anything?"
"How did you find out?"
"Father carelessly left a loose end. Connor."
"You believed him?"
"I was with him for a while. I know when he's lying." Sacha retorted, frowning. "Go back inside."
"This is it isn't it?"
"You're not even going to pretend that there's a chance we'll reconcile in the future?" She sniffled and he rolled his eyes. She'd always wanted to be an only child, she should be happy.
In fact, she was happy, she was just still caught up with playing her part.
"There's no hope of it." He replied, watching her prettily cry, so much like Daphne. "So stop crying crocodile tears and go and face the music with your family."
"I suppose you were going to be outcast completely eventually anyway." She sighed, dropping the act. "At least I'll have all of their attention now."
"Be careful what you wish for Freya." Sacha laughed, thinking of how suffocating their parents could be. "One day you'll regret it."
She snorted as she walked away and Sacha leant against the car, watching her as she sauntered back to the manor house. That chapter of his life was finally closed. No more hateful family, it was just him and Emmy and he knew that he as going to enjoy every moment of it. He only had one last unfinished chapter in his life.
He had to move on or find out whether the man wanted to try again. When he knew that he could either close that chapter or live it.
"I still wish I'd been there." Locke laughed, gulping down coffee as Xavier and Emmy talked rapidly about something. "You know, I think my brother is developing a crush on your Aunt."
"She's a lot older than him." Sacha mused and blinked at Locke when he saw his expression. "What?"
"Ged was a lot older than you."
"But she's nearly old enough to be his mother."
"Ged is old enough to be your father and you still shagged him." Locke teased, laughing and dodging the plastic spoon that Sacha lobbed at him. "He looks at her like she's something he wants to solve."
"Everyone looks at Emmy that way."
"Not Xavier. He doesn't really like people very much." Locke mused, slouching in the seat and watching the aeroplane move to the runway. "This is much nicer than last time I was at an airport."
"Did you know he was selling you?"
"Did you know?"
"Why would I try to board a plane if I knew I was being sold Sacha?"
"Why won't you give me a blunt answer?"
"Fine. Yes." Locke snapped, no longer smiling. "I knew and I didn't care."
"But that was your freedom he was taking away." Sacha shook his head, barely able to believe it. He'd suspected but to have the confirmation from Locke was hard to swallow.
"I love him." Locke stated, eyes meeting Sacha's. "Always have, before you'd even met him I used to dream about him. He was about to lose everything and if going to some guy's house and living there as his possession helped then I was prepared to do it for Connor. I'd have died for him Sacha."
It was said so seriously and Sacha swallowed. He'd never felt that much for Connor. He'd been besotted but if he'd been in that position he never would have agreed to do something like that. He bit his lip and stared at his coffee, thoughtful.
"If Ged asked you to do something for him like that would you?"
"I don't know." Sacha murmured, thinking hard. "He'd never ask me."
"It sounds like, despite what he's done, he was actually a nice guy really."
"Yeah he was."
As they boarded their flight he was subdued, his thoughts caught up on Ged and whether there had really been hope for them. He'd been happier in the village living with Emmy and being with Ged than he ever had. No matter how long he spent with Emmy, there was still something missing.
Locke had a quiet goodbye with Xavier and then slipped into the chair beside Sacha heavily.
"I've never travelled without my family." Locke admitted, fiddling with the piece of paper that he had in his hand.
"Me neither." Sacha watched as Emmy settled in her aisle seat, pulling out a notebook from her bag and immediately continuing writing from where she'd left off. "It's going to be fine Locke. We're going to enjoy ourselves, see the world. Learn."
Their tutor was flying out to meet them in September when the school year started so they had five weeks left of enjoying their freedom.
"A chance to experience the big things and learn about life." Locke smiled faintly, taking Sacha's hand. "Just don't let me slip up. Emmy said one drop of any drugs, even if it's cigarettes or alcohol and I'm back on a flight back to England before I even come down off the high."
"I'll help you."
"Thanks Sacha." He looked at the piece of paper and licked his lips. "Connor wrote to me."
"What does it say?"
"I don't know." Locke stared at the piece of paper and slowly opened it.
Sacha waited, not wanting to interrupt and watched Locke's face. His friend began with a small smile on his face and slowly the expression changed. Gradually it became anger and by the end of the short letter it was just full of pain.
The blonde tore it in half. He then tore the pieces in half. Sacha frowned as the letter was reduced to tiny little pieces and then stuffed into one of the paper sick bags that was in the pocket at the back of the chair in front.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." Locke replied blankly, spitting into the bag. "Do you still get travel sick?"
"Sometimes. Only on planes, coaches and trains though." Sacha frowned when Locke held the bag out. "What?"
"If you want to chuck up, then do it in there."
"What did the letter say?"
"I don't want to talk about."
Sacha nodded and took the bag, folding the top over and Locke leant his head on his shoulder, sighing.
"When you left, he was really nice to me. When you found out and things happened at home he let me stay with him. He told me he loved me, told me that I was important, that I was his only hope." Locke sniffed, closing his eyes. "The letter was the truth. I was one of four people that he was selling. He didn't love me, never had, never would, but it was convenient to tell me what I wanted to hear."
That sounded like Connor. Though, from what he knew, Connor had always respected Locke for being true to himself. The idea that Locke had never meant anything to Connor seemed a little odd. Then again, Xavier wanted his brother to forget Connor, maybe he'd made him write that letter.
"I'm going to move on." Locke stated stubbornly. "I'm going to find the perfect man and I'm going to enjoy my life. I'm going to be free."
"Good for you." Sacha murmured, squeezing his hand and Locke yawned. "You want to sleep?"
"Yeah. Poke me if I snore."
Sacha waited until they'd taken off before he looked over at Emmy and she smiled at him sadly, shaking her head. He sighed, that meant she knew what he was going to ask. Connor meant everything he'd said in that letter.
They arrived in Rome just as the sun was rising over the city and Locke immediately started pointing out all of the historical buildings they passed, his nose stuck in the guide book he'd grabbed at the airport. It was good to watch him completely animated. Emmy had her diary out and was trying to arrange times to see everything in between the interviews and book signings she had to do.
Sacha was quiet. He just couldn't bring himself to enjoy it all. He'd wanted to see Rome for as long as he could remember but he just couldn't enjoy it.
"Are you okay Kitten?" Emmy asked with concern as he helped her out of the car and he nodded slowly. "You can talk to me you know."
He nodded but didn't say anything and she placed a hand on his cheek. He forced a smile and she shook her head at him.
"You wait. Once we get inside the hotel you'll feel a little bit better." She told him softly before pulling away and ordering the man that came out of the hotel to sort out their bags,
"Maybe you need to sleep. You did throw up twice on the flight." Locke picked up his bag and Sacha's. "Maybe after a nap you'll feel better."
"I'm not really all that tired."
"That's a very good idea!" Emmy immediately jumped on the idea and Sacha glanced between them.
"Suddenly I get the feeling that I'm going to be out numbered a lot this trip." He grumbled, batting Emmy's hand aside as she tried to ruffle his hair.
"Grumpy." She teased, walking towards the hotel. "Do as you're told. Locke and will find somewhere to buy sweets and we'll be back in a couple of hours. You'll have slept off the bad mood by then."
He gave Locke a glare and his friend just grinned at him, shoving him towards the hotel. Inside was incredible. It was so lavish that even Locke looked daunted by it and Emmy led them straight to the stairs after greeting the owner with a brief hello.
"I stay here every year." She explained at their confused expressions. "I have the biggest suite."
It had three bedrooms, which was convenient, and Emmy instantly claimed the one that overlooked the hotel gardens. Locke claimed the smallest room because he could see the Coliseum and Sacha took the remaining one, flopping down on his bed. Maybe a sleep didn't sound so bad after all.
"We'll back for dinner." Emmy told him, darting in to ruffle his hair and place clear wallet of money down on the bedside table. "Get some rest."
Either Emmy or Locke was tickling his nose. He didn't like it.
"You never change."
That wasn't Locke, and it certainly wasn't Emmy. He opened his eyes, barely breathing and swallowed as he stared at the man cross legged on his bed.
"What are you doing here?" He knew it sounded rude but he didn't know what could have possibly driven Ged to appear so out of the blue.
"It's long winded." Ged admitted, brushing a thumb over Sacha's cheek mournfully. "Can I buy you dinner?"
"Yes now." Ged snorted and Sacha nodded, wondering if he was actually still asleep and his dreams were just very vivid.
He pulled on fresh clothes before following Ged out. It was dark outside and Emmy and Locke still weren't back. He was instantly suspicious. It was strange that they'd been so keen to leave him alone asleep and go out without him. He stayed silent though, let Ged squirm while they were seated in a small pizzeria.
"You look good." Ged told him quietly and Sacha bit his lip.
He was so out of his depth he didn't have a clue what to do. He wanted Emmy there to make Ged go away, to interfere, to make it easier. But he was all alone. All alone, sat opposite Ged.
"When did you decide to get rid of the black?" Ged asked softly and Sacha bit his lip, still silent.
For some reason words were just failing to form.
"Sacha please talk to me."
Sacha picked up his lemonade, hands shaking, and Ged frowned.
"Why are you here?" He hissed, the glass of lemonade suddenly flung into Ged's face.
"Fuck! Sacha!" Ged cried, reaching for a napkin. "What the hell is your problem?"
"My problem is you! You broke my heart and you didn't even do it properly." Sacha shouted at him, rising to his feet. "You lied to me. I know you never slept with Simon! I know you just made it look like that."
"Just admit it. You let me believe a lie. You were scared I'd leave you." Sacha was looming over Ged as he shouted, not caring that the restaurant was full of people staring at them. "Why couldn't you just talk to me?"
"I love you. You were everything to me and since you let an idea of Simon come between us because you were afraid I've lost everything that matters. Everything I do is to get acknowledgement from you!" Sacha hated that there were tears welling up and with a sound of frustration he ran.
Ged caught him half way down the street and without letting Sacha resist at all, pulled him hard against him and kissed him deeply.
"Ged please don't do this. Don't run away again after giving me hope." Sacha whispered against his lips, so scared that he didn't know if he was actually breathing.
"No. This time I'm not going anywhere." Ged replied, lifting a hand to tangle in his hair. He kissed him again before pressing their heads together. "I sold my house. Not the one you saw, that was Emmy's. I sold the house I bought with Simon. I called Emmy, she gave me the name of the hotel. She arranged for this."
"Callum called his brother and Kieran called me. I knew you'd be coming, I knew you were upset, I knew you were worried about Simon. I threw coffee on him." Ged admitted, his eyes meeting Sacha's. "He had clothes at mine so I told him to shower and get changed. I stripped off when he came down the stairs to see who it was. He was as confused as you. When I explained he asked to try to pick up where we left off. I refused."
Sacha stared at him. It hurt that the man couldn't just talk about something, instead he'd played a big game and then not been able to deal with the result.
"And next time you get cold feet?"
"I'm going to tell you." Ged told him honestly, smiling at Sacha. "I'll be an adult about it for once."
"Wait." Sacha put a hand on Ged's chest, pushing him back before he could kiss him again. "You sold your house?"
"Yeah. This way I have the money to travel with you." Ged shrugged, staring at Sacha. "I'm not losing you. I went to the cottage, I don't know why, but you were gone. It took me a month to find out where you went."
"And then what?"
"First, come back and we'll order our pizza." He urged, taking Sacha's hand and linking their fingers. "I'll explain everything there."
"No. We do it now." Sacha stated, licking his lips. "And this time you're going to do it properly. No jumping into bed and building the relationship around that, this time you'll take me on dates and we'll work on us first, before we start all of that."
"Fine. I was with Kieran one night, the first night George let me back in her house. We had a few to drink and I stayed up in the garden. Callum came home with that girl of his."
"Hannah. Haven't you spoken to them?"
"Uhm, not really. I talk to Megan and Luke more."
"Callum moved in with Hannah the moment he got his first pay cheque. Got a tiny little place with a dodgy heater and three rooms but it's theirs. She's a hairdresser now. They still drop by George's a lot of the time, to get food or to sleep somewhere without a leaky roof." Ged smiled faintly. "Hannah told me everything you told them. She gave me the phone number for Emmy's apartment, I called."
"And somehow you blagged your way round her to get a flight here."
"Because without you, everything in my life is wrong Sacha." Ged told him sincerely, sighing. "If I've burnt the bridge then just tell me. I'll not stay somewhere I'm not wanted."
"You're wanted." Sacha said quietly, staring at Ged with wide, scared, eyes. "I just need you to prove I can trust you again. Lying to me was worse than cheating and admitting it. I could have dealt with that instead of not having a real reason for us ending."
"We're not going to break up again."
"Ged. I love you."
"Yeah I know."
Sacha stared at him in disbelief as he started to walk back towards the pizzeria. That was it? No reply? He ran after him, not sure if he was going to hit him or shout at him but the moment he reached him Ged slung an arm around his shoulders.
"I won't say it often brat." Ged warned him, kissing his temple. "But I do love you too."
Thank you to anyone who took the time to review, or to just read the story. I hope I provided you with some entertainment. :)