A/N: Edited 3rd April 2013. I finally got around to editing these final two chapters (significantly changing them, I think, in pacing and feel), which I had felt dissatisfied with for a long time. But at last I've come back to try my best to do this story the justice it deserves. Thank you to all that have read and reviewed.


He wasn't sleeping. It was just a fact.

He was trying to treat it in a practical fashion.

Hence, attempted napping in the early afternoon.

The images wouldn't leave him alone.

Not that it mattered. They were just memories, after all.

He sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed.

His hands felt cooler than his forehead.

He guessed it would be more logical to just stay awake when sleep was unhelpful. Might as well not waste the time.

That was all it was.

He was vaguely aware of the doorbell ringing.

Jonathan.

No.

NO!

Why did he think of that? How stupid could you get?

Jonathan just used to be the only one that had ever regularly called on him.

That was all it was.

He didn't move.

He didn't really know how long he'd been sitting there.

Glassy eyes stared into nothing.

Another retch. He should probably eat something.

Like soup. Something light.

Get rid of the stomach bug, the clinging sick feeling.

But it wasn't like there was any point in eating. When he was just going to throw it up again.

That was all it was.

This was ridiculous.

He was going to get up and eat and then go back to bed and get some sleep.

Days passed in a cycle. Sunrise, sunset.

Because that's what days do.

He was sitting on his bed again.

Tom would come and confront him about Jonathan again, he thought. At some point.

At least one last time. Maybe that would be the end of it. The end of what? Who cared?

Not like he was waiting for it.

It didn't matter.

There was a loud knocking on his door. The doorbell rang. The process repeated.

Background noise.

Who was it this time? Or was it the same person?

He didn't really know how long he'd been sitting there.

Did he ever answer the door?

It made sense to go downstairs and answer it. Made sense.

It wasn't Jonathan. Well obviously. Not that –

"I wanted to talk to – holy fuck, Anthony."

Tom stepped in before he could close the door.

So this was it.

Resistance surged in him like a reflex.

"Get out."

"No." Tom's tone held more conviction than his expression. "Go sit the fuck down." His voice was a bit too quiet for an order, his eyes too wide as they scanned Anthony's face.

Anthony didn't want to talk to him.

Because it would be a waste of time.

Tom shook his head slowly. He closed the front door and looked Anthony dead in the eye with an expression that was both pitying and challenging. "What happened to you?"

Anthony blinked. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Tom shook his head and took a deep, ragged breath. For a long moment he said nothing. And then, quietly: "I loved him, you know that?"

Tom put both hands on his head, clutching his hair. He turned, looking at each wall in turn with a manic smile that looked like something was rotting inside him.

He looked at Anthony.

"I loved him. But him?" Tom laughed sickly, "He loved you!"

A fractional hesitation. Anthony cursed it. "No."

"Yes!" Tom shrieked, sounding almost crazed.

"We weren't like that."

"No? No?" Tom threw his hands up. "Then I guess it shouldn't bother you if I tell you how you were all he ever wanted to talk about –"

"I'm not interested." His voice wasn't strained. It wasn't.

"Oh we are having this conversation, Anthony." It sounded low, almost like a threat.

They hadn't even moved from the hallway.

Not that it mattered.

Tom was shorter than him, thinner, but more wiry. He was wearing a visibly old grey polo neck and worn jeans.

This was the man Jonathan had cheated on him with.

The words felt as hollow as the memory.

Tom paced, breathing heavily. Despite his words, he said nothing. He looked everywhere but Anthony. Then with one breath he stilled suddenly, staring at the floor.

"I need you to give me something, Anthony... Please." His voice was as soft as an open wound.

They just stood there.

The wallpaper was cool, and blue, and clinical.

Anthony couldn't even feel the carpet beneath his feet.

They just stood there.

Tom raised one hand to his face and then dropped it like a dead weight.

"You…have to…" He didn't finish the sentence.

Tom slumped his back against the wall and bowed his head.

His shoulders shook in the silence. He crumbled visibly. His lips trembled as he cried.

Anthony stepped in close to him, unthinking.

He should have asked Tom to leave again, then.

But he didn't.

Tom leant ever so slightly forward, and rested his head on Anthony's shoulder. His voice was barely over a whisper.

"I can't go on. I can't." He rubbed a hand over his eyes. "Funnily enough, you're probably the only one who can understand how I feel." He made a sound like a hoarse scoff.

Anthony felt like something was clogged in his chest. He found one of his hands on Tom's upper arm.

He didn't know whether it was to draw him closer or rip his arm off.

"Anthony…"

Tom was sobbing.

Some sick, bloated bubble feeling swelled and rose between Anthony's ribs.

Tom raised his head slightly, and lightly tightened his hands around the sides of Anthony's shirt.

"I miss him."

Anthony stayed silent.

He leant in ever so slightly, and rested his forehead on top of Tom's.

Everything inside him felt raw and painful. He closed his eyes.

He needed –

No, wanted –

No –

No.

He pulled back. Tom blinked up at him, eyes red.

Anthony shook his head. He didn't even know what he was answering.

Tom's jaw clenched, his trembling lips parting in a slight snarl. He took a deep breath, and something shifted.

"Now he is dead and all I can think of is you, how much he wanted you." His voice dripped bitterness. "And you – you – Jesus, Anthony. You're not even letting yourself cry." He looked at the floor and shook his head slowly.

Then he raised his head and met Anthony's gaze, visibly gathering momentum.

"You won't even admit you're sad over his death…" Tom's voice hardened. "I had to watch him hurt over someone who apparently wouldn't even believe there was anything to hurt over!"

It was like watching an avalanche in slow motion.

Anthony was angry. Angry, not afraid. Afraid of what?

No, not anything. Nothing at all.

It didn't matter.

Tom spat at him.

"He told me himself in these words exactly: 'I love him.' More than once. But you don't care that he didn't tell you that, oh no, of course you don't." Tom threw his hands up in the air.

Taunting. Provoking a reaction. Any reaction.

Anthony wasn't going to give him one. He wasn't. He swallowed.

"Get the hell out."

He was shaking.

"Why should I?"

"You're wasting my time."

"Oh, and that's all it is. Go on, then, go on, throw me out because in reality you don't actually have any fucking self-control so you can't stop yourself from punching me or hating me or wanting to throw me out –"

"Shut u–"

Tom punched him. Anthony took the blow.

It felt like it he had been there so long. Tired.

Old elastic being stretched.

"He wanted to tell you that he loved you but he knew you wouldn't accept it, said you'd hate the 'sentimentality' of it, you would never let him get close." Tom gave another manic laugh. "I should have been glad! So glad! But he was still waiting for you! He couldn't let you go!"

No. No.

"Stop –"

Like old elastic stretching. And stretching.

Tom was manhandling him, pushing and pulling and shaking in anger.

"For some fucking reason you were all he wanted," Tom spat, his eyes red.

He wasn't going to punch him. He wasn't. He didn't need to.

His skin felt like it was burning.

Tom wasn't going to stop.

Not that he cared.

Tom shoved him, hard. "You, you shithead. You know what's so fucking funny, Tony? You had him at the start! You had it all anyway and you threw it away!"

He wasn't listening to this crap. He wasn't. He couldn't.

Avalanche too close now. Too close to see the sky.

"I will break you so help me god. I hate you! I hate you!" Tom screamed.

Anthony didn't move.

The shaking felt like it was coming from somewhere deep below his ribs. Somewhere tremulous and hollow and sickly.

Tom punched him again.

Anthony didn't even dodge.

"Did you know, Tony? Did you know that you loved him?"

It felt like something was tearing in his throat. And he wasn't even speaking.

Like cracking, like splintering.

No – no – he wasn't – for Tom – he wasn't – Tom couldn't – he wouldn't –

"I thought he was insane and suffering from unrequited love. Until I saw and heard you at that fucking grave. Fuck it, Tony. Fuck."

Tom's eyes were wet and his voice was raw.

"I could at least have settled for him being happy! I could have accepted it! But now he is gone and he never got what he wanted – and what you wanted, for fuck's sake –"

No, no, no.

And now, not now –

"We weren't – he didn't – we never –"

"HE LOVED YOU! AND YOU LOVED HIM!"

Muscles contracted in fire and lightning and pain. Tom doubled over with a sickly wheeze.

Anthony staggered against a wall.

He couldn't breathe.

He hadn't been able to stand it. Couldn't stand it. Hated it. Feelings controlling him, when they were stupid.

Pathetic.

Soft.

Weak.

He wasn't like that. And neither was Jonathan.

Were they?

Gave in too late.

Gave in too early.

Should never have given in at all.

Fuck sentimentality.

He hated the weakness.

He'd had to kill the source of it. Worthless emotions, controlling him.

Pointless, because they were all for nothing all the more if Jonathan had chosen Tom.

But Jonathan hadn't.

And the weakness was in him.

"It was me." A whisper. Involuntary, unchecked. Escaping.

A movement of lips. A shredding of whatever fibre left that was holding him together.

Brittle elastic, broken.

His weakness.

Perhaps he'd even enjoyed it for a time.

The weakness was caused by him.

"It was me." A whisper.

Like air escaping from a dying man.

He'd pushed Jonathan away from him, not the other way around.

"I did it."

He couldn't stop himself from admitting it now.

There was nothing left.

Tom was kneeling in front of him.

Anthony didn't even realise he'd slumped down.

Tom was saying something.

Background noise.

Tom's hand was on his shoulder, gripping tightly. He didn't know if it was to comfort him or if Tom was using him as his own physical support.

He'd ruined it. He'd been the one to let it go, after all. He'd destroyed all possibility.

"I did it." Louder, loathing. Loathing his own inadequacy.

And now, when it was too late, beyond too late, only now he was admitting it.

There was an irony.

"What?" Tom's voice caught.

Tom. He never collapsed and Tom was the last person he'd ever want to collapse in the presence of.

There was an irony.

He didn't care anymore.

His voice was hoarse.

"I couldn't stand it. I did it."

He'd destroyed his own chance. Him.

Might as well have someone witness him admitting it. If Tom really wanted to see him break that badly.

He had nothing left to lose.

Tom looked shocked. And something else. Like something was building. Building dangerously. "Did…Tony…did you…are you saying you…" Then his voice hardened suddenly, yet it still sounded strung tight and fragile, as if a single misplaced breath could explode him. "Did you kill him?"

Four words. Each weighted like a bullet.

That wasn't what he'd said.

But perhaps it was what he had meant.

There was silence.

Nothing left.

Tom's eyes were blue. So blue.

"Yes."

Shock-pain-fear-confusion-loss-sorrow-pity-fury-hy steria-horror-hatred. It was a blur across Tom's face.

And then it exploded.

Pressure at different points around his body. Dull bursts of sensation. Sounds of cracking and thumping. Slight slumping movements of his body back against the wall with the momentum.

He felt so numb.

Then, for a moment or two, Tom was gone.

Cursing, slamming, objects thrown. Footsteps to the kitchen. Glasses breaking. And then Tom was back again.

Tom was crying. He was shaking. He was splitting with a fury that consumed.

A sharp point was being pressed into Anthony's stomach. It trembled.

"You bastard. You bastard." Whispers. "I loved him, Tony. I loved him." Whispers.

Anthony's gaze drifted, aimless. He realised he'd been looking at the front door.

He didn't know why.

He looked from the door to the wall behind Tom to Tom's shoulder, then the space of skin above his collarbone, and where the tendons stood out in his neck.

His lips parted in a breath the same time his eyes finally locked onto Tom's.

Like a jerk reflex Tom's arm jolted forwards.

Adrenalin seized him like a madness.

His arm jolted further, until the hilt prevented him.

"You bastard. You bastard."

Hysteria creeping in. Then Tom blinked. Looked down. Stood, shaking, not knowing what to do with himself.

And then Anthony was alone.

No ribs in the way of the blade this time.

He could feel how within seconds the blade was the same temperature as the rest of him, warmed by the blood.

Well, fuck.

The blood kept spreading. Who knew the gut could bleed out so fast?

It was soaking a round red patch into the front of his shirt. Darker in the centre, around the blade.

He looked at the knife.

The second largest knife.

And then in his mind he heard the one word that split him apart everywhere the physical couldn't reach.

Jonathan.

He saw it backwards.

He saw himself holding the knife. He saw the fear in Jonathan's eyes.

He saw Jonathan telling him it was over.

He saw Jonathan giving him the spare apartment key.

He saw Jonathan after their first kiss. And then before.

He saw Jonathan the day they first met.

He slumped over slowly so that he was lying down. The knife shifted slightly as he did so, bit a little deeper.

Light headed. He didn't have long.

Jonathan.

He knew how he felt, and for the first time, he consciously let the feeling take him.

He gave in. Nothing left.

The feeling felt like it was ripping him into pieces too small to be seen. Yet it also felt like it made up all that he was; the only thing he had left.

It had been so long, and now that he could say it, there was no one to hear.

There was an irony.

He tasted salt, and smiled.

From where he was he could see through the lounge doorway, out through the window at the opposite side.

Dark clouds had gathered in the sky. Waiting to unburden themselves of their own heaviness.

Sentimentality, he thought. Pathetic fallacy, he thought.

No point if there were no witnesses.

Moments after he died, the rain began to fall.

One last irony to carry him to the grave.