For days after that terrible day—which left Dainton feeling cheap, slutty and still so in love with Reilly that it went through hurt and into aching numb—Dainton called Reilly countless times, nearly continuously.
He went to school and didn't see Reilly there, and he wasn't brave enough for a confrontation at Reilly's work. Dainton was intensely lonely, slumped into a depression so black he couldn't even summon the energy to kill himself. He did everything listlessly; even the smile he put on as he served the customers after his boss had warned him about looking so miserable seemed depressed.
It had been bad before, but now that he'd had a friendship and had it taken away from him was even worse. That they'd slept together impacted the feeling and Dainton woke up from uneasy dreams of reenacting that scene with tears on his face until he no longer bothered wiping them off before falling back into the same dream.
He went on like this for a whole week until he finally received a call. He picked up the receiver after staring at it in shock as its rings cut through the house like a jig-saw. "Reilly?" he asked, but the voice at the other end was female.
"Is this Mr. McDevitt?" the voice asked authoritatively.
"Um, It's Dainton McDevitt, yes," he said, hesitant.
"Is your dad around?"
"No." That was for damn sure.
"Okay, Mr. McDevitt, I'm calling from the hospital. I have news about your mother."
His emotions strangled themselves in fear; fear that something had happened to her, excitement that she wanted to talk to him and trepidation that she wanted to talk to him.
Over the course of a long conversation the woman explained to him that his mother's secret had been found out. They'd tentatively diagnosed her with some form of schizophrenia and taken her to an asylum for treatment and testing. That wasn't the worst of it. She began asking him about where he was staying. Fearing that they'd take him out and put him in the hard hands of social services he blurted out that he was staying with Reilly.
Yes, Reilly, his only friend, the only other place he had...
His mother was not coming back this time.
He hung up feeling nothing and then went to work, his fingers cold and shaky and his face pale. He didn't notice.
He went into work and into his checkout to find someone else there.
"Dainton?" His boss came round, smiling at the customers. "Dainton, is there a problem?" he asked, his smile belying his irritation.
"She's in my workspace," he said, a little distant.
"Come on, we'll sort this out," his boss said, leading Dainton away. They went to the staff room and the boss sat Dainton down. "Dainton, what are you doing? I gave you the night off."
"She was in my workplace," Dainton said again. "I can't work if she's in my workspace. Where am I gonna stand?"
The boss looked him in the eye. "Dainton. Are you high?"
His pupils were dilated and he was pale and cold-skinned, but sweating at the same time. His hands were shaking and he seemed... weird...
"I can't believe it."
The boss went off on one at Dainton, about how he'd made allowances for him, all the while believing Dainton had a sick mother when he'd just been off buying drugs and probably putting in extra hours for drug money and as much as Dainton protested the boss was having none of it. He'd put up with too much.
"Look, I know you have some problems, and I hate to do this, but I can't have you working here anymore."
He waited for the pleading, the begging, steeled himself to stay firm, but it didn't come. Dainton just stood.
"Okay, I'll see you tomorrow," he said, still vague.
Before his boss could protest Dainton had left. Everything felt so far away. His ears were faintly ringing, everything seemed so unreal... He crossed the road and a car braked hard to avoid him. He didn't even notice. He had the night off and there was one place he wanted to go, one place he needed to go.
He navigated the steps and knocked on the door.
Reilly's house. Reilly would know what to do about his mother. Reilly would watch out for him. His head was full of Reilly.
Four packs of cigarettes lay on the coffee table in front of Reilly's couch. All four were empty save one single stick, turned upside down; the 'lucky.' Reilly stared at it from where he lay on his stomach on the couch, his eyes dull and sunken in. His skin was ashen; his jeans stunk though he couldn't smell them through the smoky haze in his apartment. He'd called in to work the entire week, and as far as the school knew, he was battling a terrible case of the flu. It wasn't far from the truth, however. Reilly was sick.
Not that he would ever admit it, not even to himself.
Reilly prided himself on being a man's man; of never getting emotional and crying like some chick three-quarters through some damn romantic comedy. But here he was, all cried out, his only consolation that he at least hadn't blubbered the entire week through.
Pulling out the last cigarette, Reilly lit it unenthusiastically and inhaled deep. He imagined he had taken a good five years off his life this week alone, but really, who could care?
He tried telling himself that he'd done the right thing, that he really couldn't ever give Dainton everything he deserved. He tried to rationalize the utter prick way he had left him, and he tried to not think about what Dainton was doing right then. Nothing worked.
After two days of incessant phone calls he refused to answer, Reilly had finally turned off the ringer and stuffed the phone underneath some pillows on the floor. He knew who it was; even the phone rings sounded like Dainton's voice, pleading with him to pick up the telephone. He couldn't do it. He knew he would say even more things he'd regret.
It wasn't that he didn't worry about Dainton, he knew he was being a bastard. He just convinced himself that the boy could get over this; that Reilly hadn't really meant that much to him after all. He clung to the belief that Dainton had just wanted to get laid, relieve some tension. That it hadn't meant as much to him as his black pools for eyes had told him it did throughout that night and the evening after. God, Reilly could still feel his skin. It clung to him like stink, only this he couldn't wash away in the shower, not that he had even tried.
He could still taste kisses, could still hear Dainton's voice crying out in orgasm. His face, his hair, his hands... the scars. Everything was as vivid in his head as it ever had been, and Reilly was sure he was going insane. He didn't leave the apartment for fear he would see blond hair or black eyes and crumble. He was being selfish, wrapping himself in his own confusion and pain and disregarding everyone else. Including the only person who'd ever gotten past his barriers.
When he heard the knock, Reilly was by then far too strung out on wine, cigarettes and no sleep to do anything but respond automatically. When he opened the door in nothing but his week-old jeans, he couldn't believe his own vision, and thought he was hallucinating. "Dainton?" No, it couldn't be him.
Dainton grinned like nothing had happened between them, but it was scary, too wide, too bright, too try-hard. "Reilly! So NICE to see you! And in jeans, too. How ARE you?" he asked, overemphasising his words.
"Dain, what are you...?" Reilly trailed off, squinting and looking hard at Dainton. "Come here," he dragged him inside.
Dainton semi-stumbled in and looked round. "Wow Reilly, this place is a mess." He began tidying, although he more moved things around. "I'll clean for you okay? Weren't you gonna make lasagna? You can make it and I'll clean, see, there we go..." he said as he picked up a pile of junk from one place and put it in another.
"Dainton..." Reilly pressed a hand to his forehead, his stomach threatening to heave but it was all in vain, there was nothing in it anyway. He chased Dainton tiredly around his apartment until he caught up with him, forcing him to put down whatever it was he was 'tidying' and grabbing his wrists. "Dainton, what are you doing here? Why are you acting this way?"
Dainton was trembling, imperceptible to look at but it vibrated through his whole frame to touch. "I live here now, yep, right here. If anyone calls please tell them that I'm here. Although—" he laughed shortly. "No one calls me. No one I know has your number! So. Who's gonna call? No one!" His grin was slightly desperate.
"What?" Reilly asked sharply. "What do you mean, you live here?"
"I live here now. And I have to work with you, too. Cause I THINK I was just fired. So now we can be together ALL the time. You'll like that, won't you?" he asked, suddenly pressing nearer and pulling a hand free to slide down to Reilly's waist.
Reilly gawked at Dainton until he had the sense to shake his head and clear it. He had to be hallucinating, but Dainton's presence remained. "Sit," he ordered, guiding Dainton to the bed and forcefully plonking him down. "Now tell me what's going on, from last we saw each other," he said sensibly, though where it all came from Reilly would never know. Suddenly his sleeplessness and moroseness was pushed back in light of circus-act-insane Dainton.
Once on the bed Dainton moved to pull his shirt up and off, throwing it to the floor. He lay down on his back and ran one hand down his chest slowly. "I missed you," he told Reilly lowly. "I missed you lots. Didn't you miss me at all?" he asked, pouting. He bent his knees to plant his feet on the bed and looked at Reilly from between his legs, smiling at him.
"Dainton, stop it." Reilly's voice was forceful, and he gripped Dainton's wrists again, mindful of the scarring on the one. "Stop this and tell me what's going on. Why are you living with me? What happened to your mother, and the house you shared with her?"
Dainton seemed shocked, blinking back at Reilly, but then giggled and spoke to him. "My mother? Well... apparently I'm lying; apparently I don't HAVE a mother cause I'm on drugs. Or so my boss thinks." His giggles were turning into sobbing laughs. "And the FUNNIEST part was... he said he thought I had a sick mother but I'd OBVIOUSLY been LYING to him... but I do! I do have a sick mother! But he still wouldn't believe me!" He cracked up laughing hysterically.
Reilly pulled Dainton to him, bewildered but just wanting to get Dainton to calm down and maybe get some answers out of him. He dragged him, laughing insanely, into his arms and simply held him there, not forcefully, just a hug.
Dainton struggled a little against Reilly; still laughing and unable to get the strength to move away. His laughter turned to coughs and then he was suddenly crying, between struggling to breathe again and he had no idea what he was doing or where he was or why.
Taking a deep breath, Reilly held Dainton firm, stroking a hand automatically through his hair as he mentally filtered through his inane ramblings. Okay, so. Dainton had lost his job, his boss firing him because he thought he was a liar. He was also, apparently, now living with him. Okay, so. That made no sense. Reilly continued stroking Dainton's hair and, without realizing it, had lapsed into humming tunelessly into his ear. Old habits are really hard to break.
Dainton clung harder to Reilly and shook and sobbed and kept moaning softly like he was dying and didn't calm down for a very long time, and even then he was still shaky and disheveled and a general mess.
Reilly was beginning to feel the effects of no sleep and no nutrition, and soon he'd fallen on his back on the bed, making sure to keep Dainton with him. It was a miracle he was still awake, though that was tenuous at best, and continued to stroke Dainton's hair, running his fingers occasionally over his shoulder. Still with his face turned into Reilly's chest, Dainton managed to speak. "What am I doing here, Reilly? What the hell happened? What the fuck's wrong with me?" He didn't expect Reilly to have the answers, but he needed to ask the questions.
Reilly looked up at his ceiling, and shook his head slowly. "I don't know," he said quietly.
Dainton pushed himself up and off Reilly to sit upright beside him, wiping his face with his hands. "God... I'm so sorry, Reilly," he said as he realised. "I... I don't know what I was thinking, or maybe I wasn't thinking..." He looked back at Reilly with a tearing ache in his rattled self. He wanted to stay and curl back up where he'd just been and find out why Reilly looked like a barely alive near-corpse, but he knew he had to leave. He knew Reilly didn't want him around, so why couldn't he make himself get up off the damn bed.
Reilly looked over at Dainton, too exhausted to sit up himself, but worried. "What happened, Dain? Where's your mother?"
Dainton looked off the edge of the bed. "They found out," he said quietly. "They found out she was sick and they took her away. They put her in an asylum or something and she's not coming back." He looked back at Reilly. "I told them I was staying with you, cause I couldn't think of anything else, but it's okay. It's just so they don't know I'm living on my own... they don't know your number so..."
"Dainton, no, you can't lie to them like that!" Reilly said, incredulous. "They have ways of getting my information, and anyway, you can't live on your own! You can't afford it and everything is most likely in your mother's name."
At Reilly's words Dainton looked completely lost. Utterly, he looked about five. "I... I... I'll manage..." he eventually said, stumbling over his words. "I'm sorry, I shoulda asked first but I just panicked.. I'll call them back up and tell them I was wrong and then just... tell them my dad's there or… or something... like that..."
Reilly's heart bled for Dainton, but it had already bled so much that week there wasn't much left to give. "Dainton, you can't keep lying to them like that. They'll find out and put you in child services or something," he said miserably, leaning up on one elbow and putting a hand on Dainton's face.
Dainton sighed and closed his eyes as if in pain at Reilly's touch. "I don't wanna go into child services," he said weakly, scared. "I can't. It'll eat me up and spit me out... and I won't ever see my mum again, though I don't think that's very likely now, either."
"Where did they take her? Surely you can visit," Reilly reasoned, then ducked his head, careful not to look at Dainton. "Why would you tell the hospital you were staying with me, after what I… did… and said to you?" he asked, voice calm and quiet.
"I don't know." Dainton said, looking down at his lap in shame. "I'm sorry... You just came to me as the only person I felt safe with, so I said your name."
Reilly closed his eyes for a moment, schooling his thoughts before getting up out of bed. He paced the floor like a lion, running his hands through his hair as he thought through the fog in his brain. Everything was spiraling out of control. He thought breaking up with Dainton had been the best thing for him, but apparently he'd been dead wrong. "Don't be ashamed," he said after a moment. "I understand, you did what you had to do."
Dainton watched Reilly pace. He wanted to apologise again for having come here when their last meeting had been... definitely their last meeting… but something else overtook that. "You look bad, Ry," he said, then coloured. "I mean... you don't look so good. Are you okay?"
Reilly stopped and actually felt what he had done to himself the past week. "No," he laughed bitterly, "I'm not good. I'm a fucking prick who did you over worse than I ever did even when you were just prey in the school yard, and karma's biting me in the ass and refusing to let go," he said, leaning against his kitchen table and searching for his cigarette before remembering stubbing it out before opening the door. Damn, that had been his last one, too.
Dainton sighed, mostly because he was so tired of the way the world screwed everyone up. "Ry... I dunno what to tell you. What'll just make it all better?"
Reilly sighed, found the strength to stand up and walked over to where Dainton was on the bed. He laced their fingers together. "One problem at a time. Now, you need a place to stay," he stated. "I'm not going to let you stay in that house all alone."
Dainton had never felt so glad to have fingers. "My step-dad lives up north a bit more," he said, hating the idea. "He's a bastard though, he hates me. He might not let me stay."
Reilly pulled Dainton up by his hands into his arms, catching him—just barely, as his balance was off. "You're so thickheaded sometimes," he murmured, before leaning down to place the barest of kisses across his mouth.
Dainton remembered what Reilly had said to him... the hurt he'd felt as he had, the pain of separation... but fuck all of that for even this one moment. He shoved everything out of the way and just finally kissed Reilly back.
Reilly went to his knees in front of Dainton, hugging him fiercely around the midsection. "I'm sorry," he said brokenly.
Dainton leant down and hugged him back, round the shoulders. "It's okay, it's okay, it's alright," he said back, his words falling over themselves.
Reilly's grip was fierce, crushing Dainton to him in an embrace he had no idea how much he'd needed. Dainton felt amazing, like home, like he'd never left. His tightly shut eyes were leaking moisture onto Dainton's shirt.
Dainton petted his hands through Reilly's long red hair and murmured nothing at him, on the verge of tears himself from seeing Reilly so crumpled.
Reilly's shoulders shook with the force of his silent sobs, refusing to let Dainton go, wishing he'd done damn near everything different. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he said over and over again, unable to stop himself. He felt like he was dying.
"Reilly..." Dainton dropped kisses onto his head, holding him tight. "It's okay, shhh, it's alright, it's okay." It was so unnerving to see Reilly like this, completely off-balancing him he wondered how Reilly must be feeling about it. "Come on, please don't cry, Ry, please..."
Gripping handfuls of Dainton's shirt, Reilly finally calmed down enough to look up at Dainton. He brought one arm up and ran fingertips along his jaw, delicate, still unbelieving. "I'm such a prick," he half-laughed.
Dainton smiled sadly back at him. "You're not," he said. "It's my fault, anyway. I pushed you or something, didn't I?"
Reilly shook his head, still looking wonderingly up at Dainton, still touching his face. "No, you were perfect. I just couldn't see it. I was and am still a complete idiot for doing what I did to you... everything." Reilly's gaze lowered, unable to keep eye contact, sad.
Dainton slid down and sat in Reilly's lap, lifting his face up and kissing him on the mouth gently. "You weren't an idiot. And it's okay, I don't care. As long as we're together now." It didn't cross his mind that that might be taking things further than Reilly wanted.
Reilly inhaled shakily as Dainton kissed him, kissing back as if Dainton were splintering glass. "I'm not sure where we are, Dain, but I'd love to make up this last week to you, at the very least." He threaded his hands through Dainton's hair. "I-I want to make up everything to you. I want you to stay here with me."
"You don't have to make anything up to me, Ry," Dainton told him back softly. "It's okay, honest."
Reilly's lips tilted up in something he hadn't done in a long time—he smiled. "You're really going to forgive me that easily?"
Dainton nodded, smiling at seeing Reilly's smile. "Yes."
Leaning forward, Reilly said, "Good," then kissed Dainton again. "I was beginning to miss that." No, not an understatement at all.
Dainton grinned. "Missed what? This?" He leant forward and kissed Reilly.
"No, this," Reilly said, grinning, as he fell back and took Dainton with him, lying on the floor. He wrapped sure arms around Dainton's shoulders, keeping him close.
Dainton clung to Reilly as he tipped backwards, and then tucked his head under Reilly's chin, snuggling in as deep as he could. "I missed this, too," he said. He sighed heavily. "This week was hard without you."
Reilly's eyes closed against the flood of pain. "I know," he whispered. He ran his hands along Dainton's back, the contact soothing him as much as he meant for it to calm Dainton. "I'm sorry about your mom," he offered.
Dainton winced and sighed. "Me too," he said in that little boy voice which escaped for a few seconds. "She doesn't want to see me." It hurt even saying it and his voice wobbled a little bit.
One of Reilly's hands came to rest on the back of Dainton's neck, possessive. "I can't imagine why," he murmured. "I can't even go a week without seeing you. Look what that did to me."
Dainton made a sound like a laugh, but it wasn't. He stroked Reilly's chest. "You need a shower," he said, trying to forcibly inject humour into the situation.
"I need to be sterilized, actually." Reilly picked up on the attempt and added to it, shoving the pressing matters of the world away for the moment. "You probably shouldn't be touching me right now, I might have some rare but flesh-eating disease for all I know."
"Damn... and here's me unable to move and everything." Dainton smiled back, lying on Reilly like he was dead. "Whatever shall we do?"
Reilly sighed heavily. "Lie together in a rotting heap of stinking flesh, dying but in love?" His eyes widened as he realized what he'd just confessed, but he didn't retract it.
Dainton stopped everything at that word, but only for a second before his fingers, breathing and brain functions restarted. Did he make another joke or redress the issue? Did Reilly even mean it? "That plot was already poached by Shakespeare," he said nervously.
Reilly swallowed, Dainton's avoidance of what he'd just said telltale. "Dainton, I'm serious."
"I doubt you can get a rare flesh-eating disease in the course of a week, Ry... not unless you're at hospital anyway." The laugh faded from his voice as he turned serious. "You promise?" he asked shyly.
Reilly smiled. It was faint and Dainton couldn't see it anyway, but it was there and it was his most genuine yet. "Yeah, I think I am. Promise." He swallowed thickly. "What about you?"
Dainton laughed and it was semi-crazy. "Well, I don't tell everyone that being with them even though they wanna see other people too is better than not being with them at all." He held Reilly tight. "Yes. Of course."
Reilly felt like he was going crazy. He squeezed Dainton back just as tight, and kissed the top of his head. "What do we do now?" he asked. He hoped the answer was sleep, or...
"Shower?" Dainton suggested wickedly. "What do you wanna do?"
Reilly groaned. "I don't know if I have the strength for a shower," he muttered. "How about you take a shower, then dump a bucketful of soap suds on my prone body? Humor a dying man, please?"
"But it won't have any point if you're not in there," Dainton said, softly suggestive. He then frowned. "Ry... when did you sleep last?"
"I..." Reilly thought about that. "I really don't remember. Probably not since we last slept together. I've been having these weird hallucinations..."
Dainton sat up, got off Reilly and pulled at him. "What? Are you CRAZY? Ry, sleep deprivation can kill people, get to bed. Now!"
Reilly's head spun as Dainton yanked him up. "God, Dain, not so fast," he muttered, holding his head with one hand. He tried to pout but the dizziness made it ineffectual. "You'll come with?"
Dainton winced. "I'm sorry." He petted Reilly's hair and stood, ready to help him up. "If you like."
"Yeah," Reilly said wryly. "I like." He stood up on wobbly legs, the blood coming back into them in a rush and making him stumble forward.
Dainton grabbed him, supporting him like it was second nature, which it basically was, and guided him the short distance to his bed. "You want anything?" he asked. "Before you go to sleep?"
Reilly sat down on the bed, and grabbed at Dainton's wrists gently. "You." He tugged him toward the bed. "Come."
Dainton smiled and went as Reilly directed, climbing beside him on the bed and waiting for him to lie down first, like a worried mother something.
Reilly looked triumphant, and he lay down like Dainton wanted him to, pulling him down as well, kissing him before he had a chance to shy away. "Thanks."
Dainton leaned to kiss Reilly back. "Don't have to thank me," he told him, before pulling his arms over him, and wrapping his own arms round Reilly. "Now go to sleep."
Reilly tried to protest, he really did. The problem was he fell asleep the minute he opened his mouth, exhausted but strangely satisfied.
It wasn't going to be a good day. But it was going to be a lot better than it ever had before.
THE END. (but there will be a sequel…)
Author's Notes: THANK YOU to everyone for reading! I know, it ends on a strange note but this is really only half of the story... there's still so much to tell... you should see the notes and rough drafts we have to go through, it's a very daunting task. So, we both hope you're all up for another round!
Oh, and plug if you get a few spare minutes, check out How and When, our brand new brainchild and most ambition storyline to date. We promise lots of twists and turns with this one!