Epilogue

"You have a lot of balls showing up here."

It's been six years, but the voice of his father can still send shivers up Matt's spine. "I was sort of expecting you to tell me to fuck off," Matt says, staring Jon in the eyes. He shouldn't be doing it, he thinks, but at the same time…

He straightens his shoulders. For once, he feels like the better man and everyone around them knows it.

Jon chuckles. "Oh, I definitely want to. You fucked all this up. How's that Heath bastard, anyway?" He snorts. "He's the entire reason or this mess."

Ignoring the stab at Dallas, Matt clears his throat. "I don't know. I haven't seen him." Jon doesn't look very convinced. "Look, I'm not going to apologize for leaving."

"Good. I'm not going to apologize either." Matt clenches his jaw, hoping Jon doesn't see it. He'd been told not to expect an apology, and if, by some sort of blessing, he got one, it didn't mean anything except I'm sorry I got caught. He still hates it. Jon owes his fucking life to Matt after everything he put him through.

"I just want to know why." He does. Eeryone told him he shouldn't bgo because he'll be disappointed with the answer, but there's more to this than searching for answers.

"Why what, Matthew?" Jon smiles and matt still hates it. "That's a rather broad question. Why am I such a fuck up? Why did I let older men fuck you for money?"

"Either. Both. I don't care."

Instead of answering, Jon just shakes his head. "I don't owe you an explanation, you little fuck. I don't owe you anything."

"You're right," Matt says, just to get him to shut up. The words sound weird coming from his mouth. "I can find all the answers I want in police reports and psychology books." He leans forward, face inches from the protective screen between them. "But I didn't come here for an answer, and I don't care about getting answers." He didn't know why he'd wanted to come here until just now. "None of this is about you. It hardly has anything to do with you."

"What are you on about?" Jon asks. Matt smiles—he's the one putting that tone in Jon's voice, just once, after all those years of it being the other way around.

"I came here for me. Not for you, not for the therapists or Emily or Dallas or anyone else." He laughs. "I don't give a damn what they think about me being here." Jon only stares at him, watching, like he expects Matt to go crazy. "I'm perfectly sane, don't worry. Not that you would."

They sit in silence for a few moments, Jon's face a mask of anger and hate that Matt is sure isn't reflected on his own. He doesn't hate Jon, at least, not now. Maybe he did when he was younger, but now, he just pities him. Anyone that can rationalize child abuse has too many issues to work through on their own without worrying about external problems.

Finally, Matt says it. "I don't hate you."

The laughter startles them both. "Don't you dare take the fucking high road. You don't get to do that. You aren't worth that much. You're a waste of space."

But Matt just smiles and takes it all in, waiting for Jon to finish. He looks back at Jon, drinking in the hate, the anger. "You don't get that control over me anymore. You can't tell me who I am or what I'm worth anymore. You know why?"

"I don't fucking care why," Jon says, voice dripping with all the emotions swirling in his gaze.

"Because you're in here. And nobody gives a fuck what you have to say when you're in here."

His words won't change Jon's views on this, he knows that much, but it feels good to say them either way.

He watches as an officer takes Jon, spitting insults and all, away from him, and another officer asks if Matt will be all right to get home. "Hell of a guy," the officer, whose nametag reads Saunders says, voice low with a hint of disgust. He pats Matt on the shoulder and leads him back down the hall to where he'd left his keys and wallet.

There are a few moments in which the officer at the desk can't find his belongings, but Matt makes small talk with the woman sitting on a bench with a little girl. She tells him it's raining outside, rather heavily, and Matt just smiles back.

It's true; when the officer finally returns his wallet and keys and Matt makes it outside, it's almost downpouring. There's a puddle in front of the driver's seat of his car.

Honestly? He wants to jump in it.

There's a green Pontiac next to his car, a model he's never seen. He barely acknowledges it, though, and even goes about unlocking his passenger seat until a voice catches his attention.

"So? How'd it go?"

And if Matt hadn't been happy before, he definitely is now. "Dallas?" He doesn't want to glance up and be proved wrong, but before he can think about it, he does. Just as the window rolls up, the door to the Pontiac opens and out steps Dallas, looking light years happier than Matt has ever seen him.

His smile is watery and his voice mimics it well when he says, "You look happy."

"So do you. God. It's been… So long. Why didn't you—" He doesn't get to finish; Dallas wraps his arms around Matt's chest so tightly, he finds it hard to breathe.

They stand like that for a long time, the rain soaking the both of them, and when they pull away, Matt can't tell the difference between tears and rain on Dallas' face. He's not even bothering to hide anything. "Sorry," he says, stepping back to his car to reach in. He comes back with a napkin, pressing it against his nose. "It's… been a long week. And, you know. Just… Yeah."

Matt catches a glimpse of a car seat in the middle of the back seat, but he doesn't say anything. Instead, he just grins. "Yeah," he agrees, not even trying to cover up the catch in his voice. "Yeah, I know what you mean." He's felt the same way pretty much since he'd left Shadowbrook for Michigan six years ago.

"Do… Do you have some time, maybe? The way Emily made it sound, you've got a pretty full schedule."

He does have a full schedule – school and work and a long distance relationship take a lot out of him – but for this, he'll always have the time. He nods. Dallas' grin takes up his entire face.

"No, I have some time."


26.4.2011

Overall, not so happy with the epilogue. I do like bits and pieces of it, but I don't like how I made Matt out to be this COMPLETELY CURED, overly functioning member of society. Because even the people that haven't suffered as severe of child abuse as Matt don't act like that. Well. The majority of them don't.

Anyway! First draft completed! I am in the works of planning a second draft, which (unfortunately) means research into the world of foster care, criminal (or is it civil?) trials/the law system, and what exactly would happen to Josh and Dallas in the grand scheme of things in real life. If anyone has any resources they can direct me to, please let me know.

That being said, if you've made it this far going 'WHAT. This TOTALLY isn't how things go!' and have yet to tell me so, this was my unresearched first draft. This is where I beg for resources to continue my work.

If you've made it this far and you're not focusing on the realism (or lack thereof), thanks! Even if you haven't said anything to me, it means a lot you actually read it. (Leave a review--I don't bite and as soon as FP allows me to, I'll reply.)