Warnings: implied abuse, implied rape, MxM briefly towards the end, implied kidnapping
The room is white. White with white highlights and white curtains and bedsheets, white lights and whiter ceilings. It was oppressing, but it makes the shadows seem less deep, less dark and endless, something they've seemed to be for the longest possible time.
To Joshua, it feels like he had been there forever, staring at the clock or at the wall or at the ceiling, which were all the same shade of white, because he couldn't look out the window. His bed is in the corner, the screen separating him from the bed that was next to him blocking it from his sight.
There is no one in the room with him, but he doesn't care. The quiet is something that he likes and cherishes, and he doesn't think that he can stand the company of another; he didn't want someone to see him at the lowest he could possibly be.
That's how he sits all day, every day; with his hands fisted in the sheets and the curtains drawn only so they hide the wall with the window, staring at the ugly white wall with its black scuff marks and old brown stains of what has to be blood.
He's memorized every inch of this corner of the room, from hours and hours of mindless staring. The nurses have told him that he can get up and walk if he wants to, but he chooses to sit in his bed and stare, because there's not much point in doing anything else.
There are people outside his door, and he looks only because it's too early for the nurses to be bringing him lunch or checking his vitals. He's greeted by the sight of a nurse, smiling pleasantly and wheeling in a boy in a wheelchair, helping him get into bed.
"Joshua, this is your new roommate," her voice is pleasant, but it makes him sick. He doesn't want a roommate, and he opens his mouth to retort before closing it just as quickly. "His name is Dylan Jones," she continues, "I hope that you two will get along well." And she leaves, closing the door behind her.
He doesn't care for his new roommate, so he goes back to watching his corner, his hands subconsciously fisting tighter in the sheets, twisting them angrily, as if it's all their fault.
"So your name is Joshua?" the boy, Dylan, asks and his voice hits something inside Joshua, almost making him turn around to stare at the boy. But he doesn't. Because there's no chance that they've met before. So he just keeps looking at the wall without responding. "Can't you talk? Or do you just not want to talk to me?" he asks after minutes of terse silence, and he doesn't sound hurt, just vaguely amused.
Joshua remains still, hoping that if he ignores him, the boy will disappear. He tears his eyes away from the wall, stares at the neat stitching in his arms, and the band-aids and the bandages and the bruises that are in between all of them, biting back a sigh.
"So why are you here?" the boy tries again, and Joshua glares at him from behind his curtain, opening his mouth to talk but closing it again. Instead he listens to the boy's calming breaths, which steadily quieten and regulate until he's asleep.
He doesn't know what makes him do it, but Joshua's legs are uncertain as he swings them off the edge of the bed, pale and lanky and stick-like, they wobble beneath his weight. But he stumbles forward, falling onto the other boy's bed heavily, grabbing the chair beside it for support, sitting down hesitantly by his hand.
There are cuts on the palm, all neatly stitched and bandaged, just like his own are. His own hand, so small in comparison, touches its bigger counterpart and it's tentative, like the flutter of a butterfly's wings, and the hand twitches, closing in a fist and moving closer to the boy's body protectively.
Joshua sighs and gets up, walking back to his own bed and sitting down beneath the sheets, listening to the other boy's breathing again.
Joshua does this every time the other boy is asleep, and steadily he gets better and better at walking, not falling as much and being able to stand still without any assistance. As the days wear on, the hand stops moving away when he touches it, and he's able to trace the strong fingers with his own.
But he never does this when the boy is awake, because he stubbornly refuses to be seen. He'll remain silent and statue-like when the boy is awake, curtains drawn, listening to the boy talk on and on about what he sees outside the window; traffic jams and dog walkers and skateboarders and couples and old people and young people and things that Joshua really can't bring himself to care about. And yet, as the time keeps on moving, he finds himself reluctant to tune the voice out anymore.
Dylan also tells him about himself, how he was born on a farm up North in Canada and moved down here to New York when he was thirteen, he told him about his mother passing away from sickness and his father raising him and eventually following his wife three years later. As well as small things like that he hates green peppers and likes the colour black, which Joshua wanted to argue was a shade, not a colour, but the words stuck in his throat, remaining unspoken.
He asked Joshua about himself, constantly, not discouraged by the constant silence, firm in his belief that Joshua will talk to him eventually. It brings a bitter, sad smile to Joshua's lips, because he knows that he won't talk, not to this boy.
"You don't want to live anymore, do you?" Dylan asks all of a sudden, jerking Joshua away from his thoughts because he didn't know that the other boy was awake. "You don't have to answer. I can tell. But there's nothing to fear in living. It's a beautiful thing, being able to look at everything and see the beauty in the world. Even if the world was rough on you, it gets better. You just have to deal with it."
Joshua remains silent because what could that boy possibly know about rough. He glares at the wall harder than ever while silently wishing that the other boy would keep talking, because the silence is a really scary place when someone is there with you.
Eventually the time comes for Joshua to leave the hospital, nothing left of his injuries but scars and healing scabs. He's sitting on Dylan's bed when the nurse comes to tell him, and he scrambles upright just as Dylan's eyes flutter open, staring at the ceiling.
"You can go home today, Joshua," she says, voice as cheerful as always, and it makes him just as sick as it always does. "Do you have any family that you can call to come and get you?" she asks kindly and he shrugs, and he's scared and he doesn't know why. His hand reaches out instinctively, his fingers ensnaring the bigger ones of the male on the bed.
Dylan gives a start, his eyes lowering to the hand in his before his face splits into the biggest smile that Joshua has ever seen on anyone. The nurse gives a small giggle, drawing Joshua's attention from their hands and back to her and he shrugs his shoulders helplessly, shaking his head.
"That's okay. You can stay with Dylan in the meantime," she says and Joshua snatches back his hand, shaking his head frantically. "But for now let's find you some clothes. Come on."
Joshua doesn't come back again for several days, which Dylan spends alone, staring out of the window, quiet because there's no one to talk to.
But then the door creaks open slowly, and there are hesitant footsteps walking towards his bed and the scraping of a chair somewhere to his right. Dylan doesn't look away from the window until there are fingers tracing patters into the palm of his hand. Patterns that he pays little attention to until he's smacked lightly on the head. He doesn't turn around to face the person beside him, who began tracing patterns again, but now he notices that these patterns are letters.
I came back ...
The touch is hesitant, like the person is unsure of themselves and it causes Dylan to smile, struggling to sit up against the headboard. "Is it you, Joshua?" he asks, because he's not sure, because he never saw Joshua before.
There's no touch for a long time, but Dylan can feel the warmth of Joshua's hand hovering above his own before there's a shaky, tentative Yes, traced out on his flesh.
"I'm glad you came back," Dylan says, smiling but still looking pointedly out of the window. "It's a nice day today, isn't it?" he asks and Joshua looks confused for a second.
But it's cloudy and raining. How is it nice?
Dylan laughs and lays back, staring at the ceiling. "It doesn't have to be sunny for it to be nice. Weather usually has nothing to do with how nice a day is. Just the fact that you're here as brightened my day considerably."
But you barely know me.
"Same to you. And yet here you are at my bedside," Dylan counters with a smile, his hand reaching up to touch Joshua's cheek. And suddenly there's a sharp intake of breath followed by a dull thud of someone falling to the floor. "Joshua, are you okay?" Dylan bolts up, alarmed fumbling with the sheets that are covering him to try and get up.
But then there's a hand in his, and it's warm and damp like it's been used to wipe away tears. Dylan frowns and clutches the hand protectively, possessively in his own. The smaller hand is shaking, even as Dylan's thumb smooths across the back of it, trying his best to soothe and comfort.
"What happened?" the boy in the bed asks, "Why are you scared of me?" His voice is suddenly small and hurt and worried, looking refusing to look at Joshua like he's always doing, focusing on the window, hiding his eyes beneath his fringe of dusty blonde hair.
There's no response, not to the question. Instead, Joshua writes a small, confused Why will you not look at me? Do you not want me here?
"No. It has nothing to do with you, really," Dylan reassures quietly. "But ... why do you never talk to me? If you don't want to talk to me, then leave. I don't want you to be here if you don't want to."
No! I'm not here against my will. It's just that ... the hand stops writing, grasping his hand instead, moving it up and pausing for a long moment before placing it on his throat. Dylan's fingers don't move, like they're waiting on baited breath, because he can feel the nervous swallowing beneath his palm before its moved again, this time to cup Joshua's cheek so that he can feel him shaking his head.
"I ... I see," Dylan says quietly, squeezes the hand reassuringly, delighting when it squeezes back. This time he turns to face Joshua with eyes that are pale and clouded and unseeing. Dylan takes the hand that's in his and places it across his eyes, shaking his head with a sad smile. "I can't see." Joshua remains still, feeling the long lashes brushing against the palm of his hand.
Their hands squeeze harder and Joshua is motionless in his seat. But you always told me what was outside the window! How could you do that when you're blind?
Dylan shrugs. "I made it up, because I knew that you wanted to be able to see, but you never could because your bed is all the way over there in the corner. I guess I just wanted you to get better," Dylan answers simply, shrugging. Suddenly, Joshua lets go of Dylan's hand, and the boy slumps in his bed, thinking that he's being abandoned, turning to look out the window again.
But then Joshua is in the bed, sitting on the sheets between his bent legs, lanky arms wrapping around his torso. Dylan froze beneath the foreign touch, his hands shaking as they settled on Joshua's ribs, sliding hesitantly down to his waist.
"You're ... so small. You feel like you can snap if I hold you too firmly ..." Dylan whispered, and Joshua shuddered against him, burying his face in Dylan's chest and crying into it softly.
Joshua came back. Everyday, he would come and visit Dylan in the small little room. He won't let Dylan touch him, unless he initiated the contact, but Dylan is fine with that. He's sitting comfortably on the bed between Dylan's legs, not touching, but close enough to feel the warmth through the sheets.
When do you get out of here?
"I don't know. The nurse said when my hands heal enough," he says absently, holding up the hand that's always under the sheets, showing him the large cut in the middle of his palm, turning it around to show that it goes all the way through. "I don't know how bad it looks, but it hurts a lot."
Joshua shifts suddenly, grabbing Dylan's hand and pressing his face into it, eyes fluttering closed. Dylan is surprised, but he doesn't let it show, his fingers tracing Joshua's jaw and chin, down his cheeks and up the bridge of his nose, trailing across his forehead before carding through his hair.
"What are you doing ...?" Dylan asks, his voice breathy but he was unsure as to why, because he's been doing nothing but sitting in bed for the past several weeks or months or years.
You feel like him.
"Like him? Like who?" Dylan asks, not moving his hand away even when Joshua suddenly tenses and tries to move away. "Please tell me," Dylan whispers and Joshua shakes his head beneath the palm of Dylan's head. There's a long pause, before Dylan says quietly, barely above a whisper, "You were hurt, weren't you?"
Joshua swallows heavily and nods, taking Dylan's hand once more in his, moving it towards himself before freezing and dropping in the owner's lap.
Dylan smiles when he hears a small sniffle from the other boy on the bed. His hand wanders up Joshua's arm to cup his cheek again. "It's okay. You don't have to tell me if you aren't comfortable with it. I understand."
Joshua smiles, moves his head so that he can lay a small, thankful kiss on Dylan's palm, leaning forward to place one against his lips.
It's small and chaste and before Dylan has the chance to respond, Joshua is already up and all but running out the door. But Dylan doesn't mind because he knows that he'll be back.
Your hand ... it feels like his.
"You've mentioned that before. Can you tell who today?" Dylan asks, ever patient even though it's always the same silence that he's met with when he asks. But he'll wait as long as it takes, because now he has all the time in the world because he's not in the hospital anymore, but back in his own apartment that's been waiting for him all this time. "Can you tell me who hurt you?"
Joshua lets his hand drop, and Dylan can hear the rustling of clothes as he presumably curls in on himself. "That's fine. You don't have to. I won't push you," Dylan says quietly and he's rewarded with a chaste kiss like that ones that he seems to get everyday now.
I ... There's a long pause, but Dylan keeps his hand open and waiting because he doesn't want Joshua to be sad. But there are no more words, just a hand leading his own, placing it on his chest, right over the steady beat of his heart, trailing down, down so that the hand leading his hesitates before letting the bigger one rest on the fold of hip and thigh.
"I see ..." Dylan says and he's quiet for a moment before taking the small hand in his once again, placing it on his own chest, leading it down the exact same path down his own body, placing it on the exact same place. "Me too."
It was dark and cold. No matter how many times I blinked or rubbed my eyes it was still dark and still dirty and there was no one there, Joshua traces into Dylan's chest because that's where he's pressed, held there by arms that are larger than his own, but just as pale and just as scarred as his are.
Dylan shifts and Joshua moves with him, placing his ear against the steady heartbeat once more. They would always come, and it would hurt. It hurt so much, but they didn't care. They never stopped. They came often, but I don't know for how long or how many days in between each visit because there were no windows. There was nothing but a door and a hole in the wall.
"A hole?" Dylan asks, intrigued suddenly.
Joshua nods. Yeah. There was a hole in the wall, and someone's arm was there, feeling around. I didn't know what to do so I left it, but it wouldn't leave, so I went to it, and held it, and it was warm, and it was so long since I felt something so warm.
Dylan feels tears against his shirt, and quickly shushes the smaller boy. "You don't have to force yourself to tell me. Please don't push yourself." Joshua nods and falls silent. "But it was like that for me, too. I found a hole and thought that it led outside. But there was another person there. He wouldn't talk. Just sit by the wall for hours, touching my hand and letting me touch him."
Do I feel like him, too?
"Yeah, actually, you do. You feel exactly like he did ..." Dylan says absently and suddenly Joshua is pressing further into his chest, and he's crying again, but it isn't because he's sad, but instead because he found the one person that has suffered with all along. Dylan folds him in a hug, pressing him closer to him and letting him cry because he's crying, too.
"I love you ..." he whispers but Joshua doesn't respond, and doesn't pull back or fight against him. He just lays there, ear on Dylan's heartbeat until Dylan falls asleep. letting the tears fall silently down his cheeks.
Gently taking the bigger hand in his own, he places it against his own heartbeat. His fingers move absently, and he doesn't even realize what he wrote until there's a soft kiss pressed to his temple and he's hugged tighter and he's warm and safe and he lets himself drift off to sleep too.
I love you, too ...
Again, no idea where this came from. I seem to have problems that way, but whatever.
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