SECRETS

Author's Note: Though it has the same characters, this is not the sequel to Legend of Emeralds. This is the sequel to a story that was never written.

I made many attempts at writing a story about David and Philip when the concept first occurred to me. Some had David with the tortured past, and others had Philip; one I actually rather regret never continuing and another one might have had potential if it was about characters utterly unlike David and Philip. Finally I discovered that the story that was eluding me simply had to be set several hundred years earlier than I'd planned, and thus Legend of Emeralds was born.

This story – currently taking first place on my 'longest ever written' list – was originally meant to be a short, rather surreal instalment in my Chips of Emerald jottings, but it developed uncontrollably into what it is today. Although it took me a brutally long time to complete, I love it very dearly, and I hope people enjoy it.

PLEASE TAKE NOTE: While the characters are the same as those from Legend of Emeralds, their experiences, particularly Philip's, are NOT the same. This is NOT a modern rewrite of my other story, and there are many discrepancies between Legend of Emeralds and this story's background. Reading Legend of Emeralds first is not necessary.

Disclaimer: This story contains SLASH, ie homosexual content. It also contains references to RAPE, PHYSICAL, SEXUAL AND EMOTIONAL ABUSE, ATTEMPTED MURDER, SELF HARM, SUICIDE, DRUGS, DEPRESSION AND OTHER PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS, and as much ANGST as I could inject into a story without feeling too ridiculous about it.


Part One

"Remembering is only a new form of suffering." - Charles Baudelaire

Ten long years had passed, but when David took his place at the prosecutor's table, he felt abruptly seventeen again - to the point where he sat with unconscious stiffness so as not to aggravate once-broken ribs, and half-believed that he could feel not quite healed bruises on the edge of his eye and mottling his jaw.

It wasn't the same judge, wasn't the same jury, but the courtroom was all polished wood and corners full of dust, twin to the one that lurked so sickeningly in his memory. The lawyer sitting at the defendant's table was a charming, sly-looking man in place of the bumbling novice who had been there last, but David's representative was the same; Sara, dressed in the same dark blue suit, hair cut as aggressively short as then and dyed the same platinum blonde, despite a few more lines at the corner of her mouth and eyes.

David's eyes snagged on his father only briefly, but he felt the same low roar of fear that he always had. If the malice in those brown eyes was masked now, it was still present, and David still felt the familiar cower of unwitting terror and the old mental hiss of scorn and hatred.

He'd hoped he'd left those feelings far behind.

"David." The voice was warm and worried, and the man wrenched his gaze away from William Ashton, shifting in his seat until he could look behind him, and offer Philip a hand to hold.

This, at least, had changed; where once his mother had trembled, wracked with indecision and doubt, head bent over her knees and trying not to weep as the lawyers squabbled, ruthlessly ripping away all the defensive fantasies she had so painstakingly concocted, now sat his lover, green eyes full of sympathy and love, endless support.

"I love you," Philip murmured, discreetly pressing a kiss onto David's palm.

"I love you, too." David tried to smile through his constriction of fear.

But then the court was in session, and David had to face all the demons he had thought were so safely locked up in the past.


The first piece of evidence was the photos; the long series of grisly polaroids that Alice had taken, persistent past the point of all reason, portraits of bruises that she had taken desperately, mindlessly; shoring up a defence for a day she would never witness, and the possibility of which her battered mind could barely begin to comprehend. The medical records, too, were picked over, but simple lines of text could never convey the horror of all the too-many fractured bones.

As the court session adjourned for a short break, David sat shaking in the private room, a coffee cup untouched by his elbow. Philip held his hand, helpless to think of any other comfort, and blessed the fact that, as a sequestered witness, Katie was excluded from seeing the horrifying string of pictures. Blessed the fact, also, that she couldn't see her brother, trembling with old unhappiness, and that David did not have to hold his pride like armour and force a calm mask over his face.

Sara sat quietly by, leaving to Philip the task of calming her client. But the redhead was struck mute, thoughts stuck on the last photo. It had been of David, taken in hospital when he was seventeen, the day after his father had been arrested for attempted murder and grievous bodily harm. The boy in the photo had been so badly beaten that Philip had hardly recognised him.

Finally, David gave a shuddering sigh. "God," he whispered, rubbing his forehead. "I need a smoke."

Sara immediately reached into her pocket, tugging out a packet of cigarettes and a lighter and handing them over. "I think these are right," she said, a quick smile forced onto her face. "I made a note of your brand last time."

David smiled weakly back at her as he released Philip's hand and drew a cigarette out with trembling fingers, setting it between his lips as he flicked the lighter on.

Philip bit his tongue around a reproval, but his lover must have caught a glimpse of the reproach in his eyes, because he slowly plucked the cigarette from his mouth again, and crushed it to death in the ashtray. "I quit," he confessed to Sara when the lawyer raised her eyebrows. "Eight years ago."

"The brand's right, though," Philip told her quietly. "He still has a pack of them hidden under the sofa."

The redhead tried not to be hurt when his lover winced. "You aren't meant to know about those."

Words wouldn't have changed anything, rectified anything; instead, David simply leaned against Philip's shoulder, and tried futilely to steady himself before the next bout.


Next, William Ashton's slick-tongued lawyer was set loose, and spent a lengthy several hours attempting to discredit David's evidence.

The photos were of him, his mother, and his sister; those of his mother were discounted because the late Teresa Ashton had refused to give evidence in support of either her son or husband in the original trial ten years ago, and so a case could no longer be presented on her behalf. Alice's evidence they attempted to eschew for the same reason, but were quickly shouted down.

But the photos of David - those they argued against far more viciously.

They had other records; psychological files that made him want to weep or retch from sheer remembered horror. Files from the only shrink David had officially seen or been forced to see, the one who had set him against ever visiting another. The notes that talked in detail about David's hatred for authority, his vengeful quests to get in trouble those adults he disliked. They were not denying, the defendants said, that some abuse had occurred; they simply thought it had been taken out of context.

And what of all the photographic evidence?

Ah. The lawyer greeted this angry challenge with unperturbed calm and a conciliating smile that looked, to David's eyes, disgustingly oily. If the witness for the prosecution wished to roll up his sleeves, perhaps their reasoning would be made clear there, as well?

David didn't move, sickness a heavy weight in his stomach as Sara, outraged, leapt up to protest this. They knew. Somehow, they knew a secret that David had striven futilely to keep from family and friends for fifteen years. And as much as he wanted to shout that the psych records were false, false, rabid deceptions concocted to refute David's accusations that one of the doctors was molesting patients at the asylum he had once been immured in, he could not. It had been too long ago; he had curled too tightly around those hideous memories, so tightly that it was hard, sometimes, to admit how deeply they had warped his life.

And he had no proof. No proof, and now, no credibility.

After a few moments' desperate thought and a hissed debate with her client, Sara, half-forced David to uncover his arms - a reluctant baring of his soul that left him shaking - trying to represent the myriad scars on his arms as a desperate boy's only escape - calling the jury's attention to the fact that all the wounds were years old - rather than a mentally ill youth's breakdowns, and pointing out that the cutting of arms with a razor blade was a far cry from deliberately fracturing bones or manufacturing bruises to eke out retribution on a hated father.

But before she could distract the jury with a change of subject, the day's session was adjourned.

"They'll have all night," David said with numb despair. "All night to paint me as a mad delinquent, some kind of vicious rebel."

Sara couldn't even contradict him. "The long hair doesn't help, either," she said with a sigh. "Nor the lack of a tie. Wear one tomorrow, cultivate a good boy image."

David shuddered at the thought of a choking strip of cloth tied around his neck, and briefly remembered the tight lock of a cord around his throat before the shoelaces had snapped, dumping him coldly to the floor. "Too late to be remembering that, now," he whispered.

"If only more of the jury were women," Sara fretted. "They might find your pretty face appealing. But all these manly men - they're your father's type, David."

He just nodded, murmuring, "I know, I know," and walked back to the hotel in a daze. So it was that he didn't notice how the bell-boys sneered as they slipped together into the double room, but Philip did, and it made him anxious; they'd find precious little support for convicting someone of a homophobic crime while immured here in the Bible Belt.

The hearing only became worse, as time wore on, with David existing by turns in a state of nervous desperation, numbed, despairing apathy, and a juddering terror of all these memories he was forced to confront.

"I've changed," said William Ashton simply. "What I did to my family, my little wife, my son and daughter - I didn't regret it then, but now -" he shrugged ruefully, looking shamefaced. "Now I just feel so bad about everything. My Alice, she was always causing trouble, and I admit I took too heavy a hand with her, but it just made me furious, that she'd make Teresa's life a misery and not be a bit repentant. And David - he was always such a wild one. Always fussing with his hair, his clothes, as if he were a girl. Obsessed with his silly music. I didn't want a fairy for a son; I wanted a man. So I took a tough line with him, did my best to bring him up straight, but nothing I did worked. That was why I acted - like I did - when he told me he was... you know, gay. I hadn't succeeded. But I never meant to kill him! That's crazy. And I never laid a finger on my little Katie, and you've heard that from her own lips." He looked around earnestly at the gathered people. "I know it's too late for me to be any kind of father to my kids at all, and I've given up wanting anything to do with David. But I've been in prison for ten years. I've paid. I just want to live my life."

David wanted to let his head fall onto the table in abject despair; he wanted to shout with fury that his father was lying, lying, couldn't they see?

Sara laid a restraining hand on his arm, and the weight of Philip's concerned gaze was an almost physical thing. David gritted his teeth.

"He says that he's changed," he said later, addressing the jury, trying to convince himself that they weren't all mentally sneering 'faggot'. "I can't believe that. He had twenty years to change, twenty years that he spent belittling, bullying, and abusing my family. I don't think that ten years in prison would make him change his ways. Wake up calls he had aplenty; my sister's suicide when she was fourteen - if he had any capacity for remorse, it would surely have been awoken then. But no," his voice began to tremble. "No, it was him that drove her to it, when he raped and beat her -"

"Your honour, I must protest." The defending lawyer was suddenly on his feet. "The alleged rape was dropped at the original trial because the only evidence for it was the reported ravings of a dying girl to her brother. The issue currently under discussion is the charge of abuse, attempted murder, and grievous bodily harm. The prosecution is out of line."

David gritted his teeth until they hurt, wanting to strangle the man. Dismissing Alice's last confession - the most horrifying thing he'd ever had to listen to - as the 'ravings of a dying girl' - it felt like blasphemy.

"Still," he said, forcing a level tone. "My point still stands. Alice's suicide should have awoken my father to the fact that something was wrong, as should have my own breakdown when I was fifteen. The fact that these incidents did nothing to change his actions makes me believe him incapable of change." David swallowed before continuing. "I still fear him and hate him. I do not believe that he will be content to simply live his life without interfering with me or my sister. I do not think he should be granted parole."


"What if he gets out?" David asked frantically, feverish and half-despairing, as he paced around the room. "What if he gets out?"

Sara just looked at the clock, lips pinched with her own worry. Philip caught his lover's arm as David reeled by, touching his cheek gently in order to meet his eyes. "It'll be alright," he promised. "I'll make it be alright."

David bit back a protest at this soothing untruth, the first edge of tears visible in his eyes. Philip wrapped his arms around him, and he leaned, shaking, into this support, as Sara waited and the clock wore on.


"We find the defendant eligible for parole."

The businesslike words fell on David like leaden weights, punching him back into his seat. He dimly heard Philip's low hiss of censure, alongside Katie's low-voiced cry of protest, come out of sequestion to hear this dire judgement.

"In regard to the fears of his former victim," and David strove to pull his flailing mind back to the issue, "The defendant will be confined to this state until further notice, and a restraining order will be issued preventing William Ashton from coming within a thirty mile radius of either David Ashton or Katherine Ashton."

Sara stood slowly, as if she, too, was burdened by the words, to say her few brief phrases of thanks for the decision. William Ashton's lawyer did the same, leaving David in clear view of his father again. The older man smiled, and nodded to him, and David knew with a sick and fearful certainty that no good could ever come of the sparks of malice in his eyes.


Sara apologised for not getting a better outcome, but it was left to Philip and Katie to dismiss her, as David sat silently on the couch, picking nervously at his nails, eyes staring into the distance.

"David, we're still safe from him," Katie tried to comfort him. "He can't leave that state, and he can't come within thirty miles of us. He's bound twice."

"He punched the arresting officer in the face," David reminded her quietly, voice flat. "And spat at him. He never had any respect for the law. And he hates me, far too much."

Katie opened her mouth again, but Philip shushed her with an impatient gesture. "What do you want to do?" he asked his lover instead.

The answer came slowly. "Leave," David said finally. "Leave America. We could go to England. He wouldn't know where to look for us, and he'd be stopped from leaving the country anyway. We could just - go."

Katie looked stunned, but Philip drew in a deep breath, and nodded. "Okay," he said mildly. "We'll go to England."

The girl was even more astounded. "Just like that?" she demanded incredulously. "You'll just pack up and fly off?"

"Why not?" the redhead shrugged. "What have we got to hold us here? Jobs?" His scornful tone relegated mere jobs to the dirt heap. "They don't matter. We can find new ones. Friends?" He looked briefly wistful, but shook his head. "We have precious few that are really good enough to stay for."

"Richard," David suggested wearily. And, with a dry look at Katie, "Tom."

"Richard lives ages away," Philip pointed out. "And if Tom ever gets around to marrying Katie, then we'll be able to see much more of him."

"Tom and I are just friends." Katie stressed the words primly. David gave her a sceptical look, and Philip let out a cough that sounded suspiciously like 'fuckbuddies!' The girl shot him a glare before continuing. "I daresay Lisa wouldn't be so pleased not to make that list, too."

"Lisa's sweet, but she's a working friend," her brother dismissed her. "There'll be people just as nice as her in England."

Philip waited for him to finish before finishing his reasoning in a more solemn vein. "My aunt's dead. I haven't spoken to the rest of my family since I was sixteen. And all David has in the way of blood relatives is you."

"Would you," Katie looked uncertain. "Would you stay for me?"

"I don't know," David said soberly. "I hope you wouldn't ask me."

She looked down. "I can't leave," she said quietly. "I have a life here. But - I'll miss you." Her voice was forlorn.

David tried a smile. "I just - don't want to stay where he is," he explained softly, voice tight. "I spent half my life wishing I was free of him. I don't ever want to go back to that."

"Then you won't," Philip promised him. "I said I'd make everything alright, and I will. We'll go to England, and be happy there." He grinned a little, with unaccustomed awkwardness. "They've legalised gay marriage there - civil unions, I should say," he reminded his lover abashedly. "And we never did get around to a trip to Canada or Massachusetts -"

Katie gaped at him. "That's how you propose to my brother?" she demanded. "Honestly, where's the going down on one knee? Where's the jewelled ring?" The girl flung an arm around the redhead, kissing him exuberantly on one cheek. "No getting married until I can come watch," she admonished them both.

"David hasn't even replied, yet!" Philip laughingly rebuffed her.

"Pff, he'll say yes," Katie dismissed her brother with an airy wave of her hand. "He's completely besotted with you, and always has been."

"True enough," David agreed with an almost shy smile. "I - I can't imagine life without you."


-


A date was set, tickets were bought, and for a moment it was unsettling not to have returns, odd to believe they truly were abandoning everything, with no notion of how the future would unfold. They packed their bags; the apartment they had shared for so many years would be packed up by an insistently helpful Katie after their departure, all their belongings sent on to some as yet to be determined address.

And then they were leaving, David driving his own car to the airport. They were bidding Katie and Tom farewell at the gate, and presenting the vehicle to the not-quite-couple, to do with as they wished.

"It all seems so final," David murmured to Philip.

"It's not," his lover assured him. "We can return or not as we please, build our own lives. It's an adventure, not a departure."

Philip's expression at that moment perfectly epitomised who he was; half-rakish smile touching his lips, green eyes wide and dreaming-bright as he looked into a new horizon, his whole being focused on pursuit of the moment.

David always regretted - a deep, burning regret - that he didn't think to take a moment to appreciate that face, one last time.

But it was eclipsed, as he turned his attention back to the road, by his father's face, behind the wheel of a small, silver car - a car that was cutting recklessly across lines of traffic, accompanied by screeches of brakes and a tumult of car horns, and driving towards David, head-on.

'That car's got to stop - he'll see us.' The quote sounded - ridiculously, absurdly - in David's head, even as he heard Philip's shout of shock and fear, even as he jerked the wheel to the left, and knew no more.


When he woke up, David was aware of Katie crying, and the antiseptic smell of hospitals, and he knew a moment of abject panic. He tried to struggle upright, and dimly registered cries of alarm as the pain - that distant, throbbing thing - flared to a white heat in his head and chest, and he fainted.

The second time he woke, David kept still, willing his hammering heart to calm, willing himself to believe that he was safe.

Katie. Katie was talking. David tried to listen, but his mind was fogged. Morphine. They must have given him morphine. He tried to gag, force up the pills he'd swallowed, but could find no energy, and fiery pain stabbed into his chest. His ribs. When had he broken his ribs?

Katie. What was Katie saying? There was another voice, too, a man's. Not Philip's. Where was Philip?

Suddenly, he remembered. The car. His father. The crash.

"We missed our flight, didn't we?" he whispered.

"David!" his sister exclaimed in relief. "You're awake again!"

"Don't drug me," he murmured, dazed and reproachful.

"Drugs? They're just painkillers, David." Katie's voice was scared and bemused.

"Where's Philip?" Philip wouldn't drug him. Philip knew.

"You're in the hospital. Philip's here, too."

Even through the drugs, David knew a spasm of anxiety. "He's alright?" he half pleaded.

"Worry about yourself, David." It was the unknown man, this time. The doctor. Over familiar. David hated doctors.

"Dad," he said suddenly, as recollection pricked him. "He was in the other car." He braved the light, opening his eyes enough to see a blurred Katie wipe angry tears from her eyes.

"That bastard's dead," she told him, quietly but fiercely. "We never have to worry about him again. Now sleep. I'll go visit Philip."

David just sighed in assent, unable to stay awake long enough to argue.


It was a while before he swam into a vague consciousness once more, half-aware of low voices at the edge of hearing.

"David hit his head, but he woke up!" That was a woman. Familiar. Katie? Whoever she was, she didn't sound pleased.

"A different part of the brain was damaged." A stranger, tone conciliating. "There's still hope, of course, but the chances of a complete recovery become less every day that he spends unconscious."

A long silence. "So either he'll never wake, or he'll be..."

"Brain damaged. Yes, I'm afraid that's very likely at this point."

"No," the woman's voice pleaded. "He has to get better, he has to! David can't - he doesn't deserve this -"

It was far too much effort to decipher the meaning behind their cryptic words; David slipped un-stirring into sleep once more.


Again, he woke, and this time David was aware enough to reach a groping hand - ah, how the muscles in his chest hurt as they tugged against his injuries! - and fumble, dizzy-blind, at the barely-reachable buttons on his morphine drip, slumping, exhausted, back into his pillows as the fuzz receded with excruciating slowness.

The pain, ever-present, finally burnt enough of the drug away that he could think, and he wearily let his gaze travel over the room. It was white and far too clean, and clogged his nose with the old hospital miasma of antiseptic and too many cleaning agents, which he could convince himself - in his morbid moments - was only there to mask the sickly tang of blood and rot in the air.

Blood on his mind, David tried to catalogue his injuries; there were the broken ribs, that old, stabbing ache, but under that bone-deep pulse was the quick, sharp burn of stitched wounds, all over his chest and shoulders and arms. The windscreen had shattered, he decided after an undue amount of too-slow thought. He'd raised his arms to shield his face, and been cut. His face, his head - some of the fogginess hadn't been the morphine, David belatedly realised. There was a bandage rasping against his forehead, covering a throbbing pain, too delocalised to pinpoint.

But he'd gotten off lightly, David knew. His father had been in the other car, had broken parole and restraining order just to be in that car at that moment. David had been the intended victim, with a car as the murder weapon, but it had backfired, leaving William Ashton as the only corpse.

He hoped Philip wasn't badly hurt.

David cast his eyes around his bed, more purposefully this time, looking for signs that his lover had visited - for Philip would undoubtedly have come if he was well enough, he was certain of that.

His gaze lit on the bunch of flowers beside the bed, and a faint, hopeful smile touched his face. The flowers were lovely, deep blue and purple. Philip might very well have brought them, even though David more doubtfully believed that his lover would have brought him white roses, like the dozen white roses he had brought him for their first Valentine's day ("The only type of rose that doesn't clash with my hair," he'd teased), like the white rosebuds David wore tucked into his buttonhole as a joke at fancy parties. Philip's favourite flower, and by default David's as well... Surely he'd have brought white roses?

But maybe they didn't have any. It could still have been Philip; the blues and purples were both colours the appearance-conscious man would approve of to match David's dark hair.

He reached towards them, towards the scrap of card he could see, tucked among the stems, desperate to know. Had his lover visited? And if so, why had Philip left him alone in a hospital, why hadn't he protested the high dosage of morphine? He should have known better. His muscles screamed a protest, and David hissed through his teeth in pain, hating his own inability.

Then a nurse, entering without him noticing, laid a bossy hand on his shoulder, pressing him firmly back to lie prone on the bed.

"Awake, are you?" She sounded reproving, as if this was a deliberate fault on David's part. "Well, you certainly can't go overtaxing yourself like that, not yet. You'll rip out all your stitches."

"The flowers," he pleaded with her in a plaintive, exhausted whisper. "Who brought the flowers?"

The nurse examined the tag on the gift. "It says Katie, here," she said, tone softened now that she had divined the cause of his urgent restlessness. "Who's that, then?" she asked chattily, as she poured him a cup of water, putting a straw in it so that her patient would not have to strain himself by sitting up to drink. "Girlfriend?"

"Sister," David sighed, taking a few obedient mouthfuls, the water very cool against his dry, sticky throat, feeling anxious and depressed. "You wouldn't know where Philip is, would you?" he asked suddenly of the nurse. "Philip Lordan? The one who was in the crash with me?"

She looked sympathetic. "I'm sorry, dear, but I'm not the one to ask," she demurred regretfully. "I could run his name through the system, for you, if you wanted?"

"Never mind," David shrugged with forced nonchalance, and winced. "I'll ask Katie, when she comes to visit."

The nurse nodded, checked the readings on some rather esoteric instruments dotted around the room, and departed again with another understanding smile.

David tried not to sleep.


When Katie came, she peeked tentatively around the door, and seeing her brother's eyes shut, slipped, breathlessly silent and anxious, into a chair.

"You don't need to bother with all that," David told her, mellifluous voice rusted with tiredness. "I'm awake."

She jumped. "David, you're better!" she said, relief and delight lightening an otherwise subdued voice.

Her brother opened his eyes and regarded her pensively. Her eyelashes were wet and sticking together, and the faintest smears of her supposedly waterproof mascara had touched her cheeks, as if she had cried and then scrubbed her tears away with an impatient hand before visiting him.

"How's Philip?" David asked anxiously.

"How are you?" she countered, too quickly. "It wasn't so long since you were in critical condition, after all! Are you sure you're up for a visit? I could go away... Ask the nurse to up your pain medication, you're frowning, David, and pale, they must have it turned too low -"

"You're evading the question, you're babbling," he said tensely, fear gripping him at his sister's edgy tumble of words. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong," Katie said unconvincingly, hands knotting in her lap.

"Bullshit!" David snapped with unaccustomed, fear-laced anger, fighting the clinging blankets and struggling painfully into a sitting position to confront her properly. He'd never had much control over his emotions where Philip was concerned. "What is it? Is he scarred? God, he'd hate that, what an affront to his vanity -" A half-hysterical laugh fell from David's lips, even as frantic, pain-filled tears started to sting his eyes. "Or, or is he paralysed? An, I don't know, an amputee or something? Or what?" He gazed at her appealingly, breath coming in gasps after this desperate spiel. "Please, just tell me!"

Katie bit her lip uncertainly before swallowing as she visibly strengthened her resolve. Girded her loins, David found himself thinking with distracted irreverence, trying not to giggle with the fearful adrenalin surging through him. "I'm so sorry, David," she whispered, and he felt all his attention snap, horrified, to her words as she continued. "But Philip's dead."

He gazed at her for one stricken moment before curling over himself, ignoring the pain of that contortion, covering his face with his hands as he dumbly shook his head. "No," he said, absolute denial in his strangled voice. "No, no, he can't be. The other day, you said you were going to visit him, you said -"

"That was days ago," she informed him quietly. "You've been - really out of it. And Philip just... got worse. He was hurt so badly. They couldn't fix him. He started bleeding in his brain, and they couldn't stop it in time. He just... died." Her hapless, helpless words stumbled to a bereft halt at last.

"No," David pleaded this time, clinging to his last shreds of hope as a looming flood of black despair hovered over him. It had to be some kind of joke. "You're wrong. You must be. He's not dead. Not Philip."

"I'm sorry." Katie's choked words offered him nothing.

"'That car's got to stop - he'll see us.'" Still dazed with shock and disbelief, David whispered aloud the words that had occurred so randomly to him in the last moments before the crash. The last words of James Dean. The last, stupid words.

And maybe David had known, even then, that they would herald Philip's death, because Philip had always loved James Dean, applauded his wisdom in dying young, before his looks and talent could fade. "Young and beautiful people should never be allowed to grow old," he'd said, smiling that brilliant, half-serious smile, and God, that could be his epitaph now, and what a stupid jinx it had been.

And then David was crying, and he must have lain down again at some point because there was a pillow under his cheek as he wept, sobs shaking his entire body, ripping at his cracked ribs and his too-myriad stitches, but he welcomed the pain. (Was this what Philip felt, before the end? Did Philip hurt, before the end?)

Gasped rejections of the truth intermingled with these convulsions of grief, until he could barely breathe with the knowledge of his own guilt, hyperventilating until a new kind of mad dizziness overcame him. He was distantly aware of Katie calling, distressed, "David!" but what did it matter? What did any of it matter, when Philip was dead?

Katie watched, appalled, as a nurse hurried in, taking in the scene with a single glance and briskly twisting up the morphine. "He'd dialed it down to ridiculous levels," she muttered disapprovingly to herself as David gradually slowed his wracking sobs, and his eyelids fluttered closed on a drugged and exhausted sleep.

The girl held her hands over her mouth to hold back either words of horrified remorse or tears of her own, for what she'd done, and fled the room before the nurse could turn questioning eyes on her.


-


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AN: At this point my first reader declared that she hated me and refused to read any more of my story. I say to her what I say to you: this is not the end! There is something resembling a plot twist in the next part! Do not give up yet!

Part two will be up in only a few days: all 80,000 words of this monster are finished (also the reason I've been terrible at updating anything else for ages) and all 6 parts will be posted pretty much as soon as they're edited to my satisfaction.

Hope you enjoyed it, and please please REVIEW if you have anything of even the remotest relevance to say. I can't emphasise that enough, people!