Title: Where You Belong.
Pairing: WillxSonny (DOOL)
Disclaimer: I own nothing and make no profit from this.
Warning: Angsty-ish with no beta. Enjoy! Lol
Summary: The truth is out about the baby, and Will and Sonny finally talk it out. I’m not usually one for writing angst, but never fear, there’s a happy ending in there (sort of?)
Where You Belong.
For as long as I live, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on Sonny’s face in that church. I could tell the very second that he knew he’d been lied to. Before the words were even out of my mouth and with one last look at him over my shoulder I could see the dawning realization. The very beginning of hurt and betrayal was right there, simmering just beneath the surface.
When the words that had been choking me for two longs months were finally let out, everything else turned to slow motion. Everyone wanted answers. I’d single handedly destroyed what was supposed to be the happiest day of Gabi’s life, she was crying, Nick was glaring, my mother, my father, my great grandmother, everyone was talking at me. Meanwhile, Sonny was reaching for his coat, moving slowly like a man in shock.
As soon as I caught up to him, as soon as my hand connected with him everything sped up again and within a minute it had slipped away from me completely. Any words of mine were ridiculous, ineffectual and pointless, and the first thing to strike me was how little fight he had. I was able to pull him away from the door and into a private alcove where I could stutter and grip onto his jacket with weak fingers. I’d never seen that look in his eyes before, not even during our first disagreement that now seemed so trivial in comparison. Where there had always been warmth and amusement lay guardedness. He was a man wounded. And I had done that.
Seeing the sheen in his eyes was the most terrible thing, but at some point he found his fight, and having him push me away like that? It was like a physical blow. He stormed out and I was at a loss as to what to do first. Once more it was a somatic chore to get to him. It seemed like forever until I made it to Common Grounds, but by then he’d had enough time to rally and to really get mad.
He doesn’t know how much power I’ve given him, and I’m pretty sure he has no idea how weak he makes me. Usually it feels like a good thing. Like when we’re with friends and he looks at me in a certain way and I instantly know we’re thinking the same thing. Or like how when we’re in bed, lying still, skin to skin, no words. That makes me weak. Weak because there’s nothing between us, nothing held in check. It’s me letting him feel my love for him and vice versa, and it is utterly freeing. This is a different weakness, because he is the one person who can truly hurt me.
An argument with anyone else? I’ll try to approach it with patience, but ultimately I’ll stand my ground. With Sonny I can’t find my words. I stood there like a boy. A stupid boy with wide eyes, a dry mouth, voice threadbare and embarrassingly young. He barely concealed how hurt he was, but I could just about see it behind his hard stare and ultimately, that’s what made me persist.
We didn’t say much that day. He was too mad to let me, really. And I don’t blame him. But with a few encouraging words from my grandmother that were like a life line pulling me back to shore, I had just enough courage to say the bare minimum of what needed to be said.
I’ll get my things. I said. He didn’t fight me. He didn’t say anything and he couldn’t look me in the eye. I’ve never had to fight so hard not to touch someone in all my life. I asked him to look at me, just for a second, and when he did something inside of me began to hurt. The sheer effort it took for him to meet my eyes spoke volumes. Clearing his throat, swallowing hard and blinking back the tears he finally looked at me, too proud to let any of those tears fall, but too wounded to say a single word. He stood there, giving me this one chance to say something, and suddenly I couldn’t. I couldn’t feed him my excuses just then, I couldn’t ask him for his forgiveness or understanding so soon. I had to let him be hurt. As much as it killed me, I had to let him feel it because trying to do anything else just then would have only made it worse for him.
I told him that I didn’t want this to be over. I told him I loved him. And it was when I said those words that he had to break eye contact. I wasn’t hurt by him looking away. I know his silence wasn’t because he no longer felt the same way; it was because he couldn’t let me see that he loved me too. His eyes don’t lie, and I was standing too close for him to hide so he looked away, worried his lip, and said nothing. He was already so vulnerable and I didn’t want him to feel cornered, so I left.
And now I can’t get him to talk to me. It’s been a week, and every text, every phone call has gone unanswered. I pulled back so as not to make things worse, but now I have that desperate feeling that if I don’t do something quick? It’ll be too late. He’s had time to be angry, now I have to ask him to let me explain, to try and understand.
It’s time to talk.
It’s time to talk. And honestly, I didn’t mean to avoid this conversation for so long, for an entire week, but it’s taken that long for things to sink in, and now I need to know why. I’m resolute all day that I won’t let him see how small he’s made me feel; he’ll see anger or nothing at all. But as soon as he walks in, not long after I’ve flipped the sign to read closed, there’s that same feeling again. That feeling of being an open target, of being completely exposed.
He closes the door behind him, approaches the counter I’ve subconsciously put between us, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen anyone do such a poor job of concealing their nervousness.
“Hi,” he says quietly. “Thank you, for…” he lifts one shoulder in a weak shrug. “For, you know, agreeing to see me.”
I swallow, resentment building in me as I realize that despite everything, I’ve missed him. I nod; clear my throat to make sure my voice is stronger than I feel. “Do you want to sit?”
He nods, and then there’s a desperately awkward moment when I walk from behind the counter and he heads to the couch, where we’ve sat close together so many times before, just as I reach to pull a chair back at the nearest table. He glances back at me, has the good grace to flush, and pulls the chair back from under the table opposite me. It makes him appear unsure of himself, apprehensive, but he accepts that I need at least a little distance between us.
“How have—um, stupid question, but how…are you okay?”
A sarcastic comment would be too easy and a little beneath the both of us. I reach for my wrist to toy with my bracelet, just as I do whenever I feel uneasy; realizing too late that it’s not there. Having taken it off that morning to unclog my sink in my apartment (that feels all the more crappy now that Will isn’t there) I forgot to put it back on and left it on the kitchen counter. It’s funny how the absence of a little bit of string can make you feel naked.
“Not…not really.” I admit.
I watch the guilt flitter across his face, and instead of feeling satisfied, I feel sad. His hand reaches across the table, and stops half way.
“I would really, really like to be able to explain myself, if you’ll let me.”
“That’s why we’re here, right?”
He nods, and I watch as he pauses a moment, choosing his words carefully, and it is so clear to me that is he is afraid of saying the wrong thing. I’m annoyed by the instinct that is still there, after all of his lies, to comfort him. To protect him. At what point do I start protecting myself?
“Okay,” he nods to himself, wets his lips. “Okay,” he says again. “I know that you know…you must know that I never…that I didn’t sleep with Gabi when we were together, right?”
I blink. Honestly, that hadn’t even occurred to me, but it would probably account for a lot of the pitying looks that had been thrown my way this past week. Maybe it says something that my mind didn’t even go there. “No, I didn’t think that.”
He nods. “Okay, good. Because it…it happened when—before we were together.” He stops, closes his eyes for a second and shakes his head, annoyed with himself. “Obviously,” he mutters, and I know he’s talking to himself.
I press my lips together tightly for a second, I hadn’t expected this to be so difficult. I force myself to look at him. “Go on.”
He lets out a heavy breath. “Okay, okay so…you and I…we weren’t speaking to one another, we’d had that fight…” he looks at me. “Where you found me after the explosion? And tried to…to kiss me?”
It wasn’t exactly a great memory for me. In fact it was mortifying to kiss someone, only to have them push you away and more or less accuse you of taking advantage. I nod my head regardless.
“And, see…we weren’t talking, and when I went to go find you later to try and hash it out, you were with Brian—”
He must have noted a change in my expression because he stops there. I felt myself pull back, a familiar anger building inside of me. “Are you…are you seriously trying to blame me for—”
“No!” His eyes go wide. “No, I…” He breaks off with a frustrated exhale, and lowers his head into his hands before raking his fingers through his hair. “Why do I have to screw everything up?”
I don’t say anything and force myself to not soften at his obvious distress. He sits up, takes a deep breath and lets it out. “Right,” he says firmly. “I started at the wrong place. Before you found me, I had a run in with T.”
“So it’s T’s fault?”
He closes his eyes, his patience clearly growing thin with both me and his inability to get his ducks in a row. “I thought you were going to let me explain?”
Despite everything I feel childish and nod for him to continue. Something in his eyes softens, and it makes me wonder what it is he sees when he looks at me.
“He used to be my closest friend, Sonny, and he just…” he looked up and away for a second, composing himself. “He just let rip on me, Sonny.”
He looks at me, something in his eyes imploring me to understand.
“Sonny, I’ve never…” he looks down at his hand where it’s splayed out on the table between us, and I see him swallow hard. When he looks back up, his eyes are glassy. “I’ve never been that…that confident, Sonny” he says quietly, and I can tell that admitting such a thing is embarrassing to him. “And he just…he said everything that I’d been telling myself for past few months. He told me I was a freak. He told me that my friends hated me, that they were laughing at me, and…” He shrugged. “And I was just too…too…”
The anger was still there, but something inside of me was beginning to deflate, and it wasn’t greeted by a rush of relief. It was just painful. He looked so damn lost.
“It was too much, Sonny. I let it get the better of me, and then we fought, and then my dad decided to take a chunk out of me for helping my mom and EJ, and…” his voice wavered slightly, and he looked away with a shake of his head. “I know it just sounds like a bunch of excuses, and I’m not passing the buck, but…seeing you with Brian…”
Something very close to jealousy and possessiveness crossed his features, and I’m annoyed by the fact that it pleases me. I don’t play games. I don’t purposefully go out of my way to try and make other people jealous, but I take some small, petty comfort in him having wanted me. Even if it did result in the mess we’re in now.
“It’s just that…he’s a good guy. And I try so hard to be a good person, but…I don’t think I am.” He sighs harshly. “I know how painfully pathetic this all sounds, I’m just—just trying to be as honest as I can.” He shrugs helplessly, as if desperate for me to understand. “Knowing that I’d screwed up my chances…that I’d missed an opportunity with you, Sonny. I swear I’ve never wanted to ram my head into a brick wall so bad.”
“You don’t have to do that” I say quietly.
He frowns. “Do what?”
“Compliment me. I don’t—”
“I’m not doing that!” He almost shouts. “I’m trying—” He stops himself when his voice breaks, he closes his eyes. “I’m just trying to explain how it happened.”
I watch him, at war with wanting to comfort him but protect myself at the same time. “So, then Gabi enters the picture…” I edge.
He closes his eyes again, as if even recalling the memory was uncomfortable to him. “I didn’t go looking for her, or sex. We just somehow ended up... she’d had some sort of fight with Chad, and I was already in a bad place…”
I try not to grit my teeth when he mentions Gabi and Chad, and something in the back of my mind whispers to me that I may be playing the hypocrite. I tell myself that keeping information about Gabi’s antics with a stalker is nothing compared to getting someone pregnant and letting an ex-con homophobe lay claim to your own unborn child, but the thought doesn’t sit easily with me.
“We just ended up comforting each other. And I suppose I was just thinking…” He casts me a wary glance. “That it would be so much easier if I wasn’t gay.” He wets his lips. “FYI, the second time I slept with a woman was just about as awkward and uncomfortable as the first. It kind of cemented for me that I am one hundred percent queer.”
I almost smile at that. Almost. It’s somewhat satisfying knowing that his ‘encounters’ with Gabi were so lackluster. Especially as I know intimately how much this guy loves gay sex, after only having ever been with me. Perhaps that’s egotistical. I don’t think I like myself too much when I’m angry, this isn’t me…
“So that’s the how.” He edges.
“Now it’s just the why?”
And finally we get to the meat of it. “Why the secrets, Will?” I try so hard to not get angry, or upset. We’ll never get anywhere if I constantly let myself climb on the defensive.
He takes a moment, and wipes away a glint of dampness from the corner of his eye.
“Will…” I prompt him gently. “Why have you let Nick and Gabi do this? Why didn’t you at least tell me?”
“I wanted to. God, I wanted to.”
“Because I had to put the welfare of this baby first, Sonny” he says firmly, his jaw clenched. “I had to put this baby before you. I had to do the responsible thing.”
“The responsible thing?” I grind out. “You gave your child away, Will. To Nick Fallon. That’s not being responsible, it’s…” I stop myself just in time, knowing that what I was about to say would hit its mark.
“It’s what?” He asks, visibly bracing himself. “Say it.”
I hesitate, and then take no pleasure in what I say next. “It’s cowardly.”
He stares at me for a moment, blue eyes dimming right before me, as if I were sucking the life and hope right out of him. This is such a mess… “I’m sorry, Will.”
“That’s what you think of me” he whispers. “You think I’m a coward.”
“Tell me I’m wrong, Will. Make me understand.”
His jaw clenches, and he looks away for a fair while before looking me back right in the eye. And…damn, I can see how much I’ve hurt him.
“You know how I grew up, Sonny.”
I close my eyes. “You’re blaming your childhood—?”
“Yes, Sonny. And you can go ahead and tell me that’s bull, but unless you grew up as a plaything, as a-a prize to be won between the two people who were supposed to love you most, then you don’t get to tell me it’s an excuse! You don’t know how crappy a feeling it is. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, especially my own child.”
We’d talked about his childhood only briefly before and he’d alluded to some of what he’d been through, but…I hadn’t seen the pain. And though my parent’s marriage hadn’t exactly been conventional, my brothers and I had been kept out of it. In fact we were made the priority. It didn’t explain everything away, though…
“You took her to an abortion clinic…”
He closes his eyes tightly. “I know” he says quietly. “We talked about it, and she thought—” he breaks off with a wince. “We thought that it would be the best thing.”
He lowers his gaze in shame. “For us. We’re eighteen, we’d both just found the people we…” he looks up at me, and then glances away just as quickly. “It just seemed like the best option at the time.”
“It seems a little…” I break off with a sigh. “You can understand how convenient that sounds, right?”
He nods. “And I understand that Gabi has quite happily thrown me under the bus” he says, looking miserable.
I frown. “What do you mean?”
“She’s neglected to mention that I…” he looks up at me, struggling to get out whatever it is he’s trying to say. “That I asked if she wanted to get married.”
I can only stare at him, and as soon as I register that his hand is covering mine, and that he’s looking at me with so much guilt and anguish in his eyes, I realize that my own are stinging. I slowly stand and walk over to the counter, bracing my hands against it. Pull it together.
“What would have told me, if she’d said yes?” I mutter quietly, my voice thick.
I realize he’s right behind me when he answers. “I have no idea. I was just relieved that she said no. Sonny…” he edges quietly, and I almost flinch when his hands on my hips encourage me to turn and face him. “I was trying to do the right thing by her. I told her that I would quit school, get a job, anything so that she wasn’t alone in this. And my fucking heart was breaking the entire time, Sonny, because if she said yes, then I would have lost you.”
Something he said a moment ago comes back to forefront of my mind. “That’s not what people think happened, is it? She’s letting you be painted the bad guy so that she can play happy families with her saint of a boyfriend.”
I’m still hurt. But now I’m seething. I’d warned her. I look at him when I hear him sigh, and realize that this is closest we’ve been to one another in a week.
“I didn’t know that Nick…I thought he’d turned his life around. I thought…they promised me that the baby would want for nothing, that it would be happy…”
My heart brakes for him. I don’t want it to, but he’s been dealing with this alone. Having Goddamn nightmares…
“I didn’t know he was a bigot. And a part of the deal was that no one, no one, could know.”
“Will…” I practically groan. “Why did you ever let them do this to you?”
“For the baby’s sake—”
“So you’d have to just sit back and watch someone else raise your child, hear your kid call someone else dad…”
He closes his eyes tightly, backing away slightly. “I was just trying to do the right thing.” He shakes his head, looking so alone. “I didn’t want to lie, I tried to call it all off, I tried to-to…”
And suddenly I can’t bear to see him brought so low. “Will,” I whisper, and before I know what I’m doing, I’ve pulled him into my arms and I’m holding him tight. He grips at me desperately and I can hear his breathing, erratic and hitching.
“I am so sorry, Sonny. So sorry. I hate that I hurt you, you’ve no idea.”
“I know” I whisper, feeling miserable and exhausted.
He pulls back slightly, blue eyes that I love so much searching mine, pleading and in pain. “You’re the one good thing Sonny. The most important thing in my life, I need for you to know that…”
I can only nod. Because as much as I’m sure he means it, I don’t feel it.
“I know you don’t believe me. But it’s true. I never knew I could feel this way about someone, Sonny. And I hate that instead of being the guy who sweeps you off of your feet, I’m the guy that does this to you.”
“You were that guy, Will.” I practically croak, and my resolve breaks. I have to rub the heel of my hand against the corner of my eye to stop the tears. Something in his face just crumbles, and I can’t look him at him any longer.
“Were?” He whispers.
“Will, how the hell does any relationship come back from this? We haven’t even been together that long.”
“We were together long enough for you to love me, long enough for you to ask me to live with you…”
“But not long enough for us to get passed a lie this big, Will.”
He shakes his head, closes the gap between us and grips the front of my shirt. “We can.” He says desperately. “I just…I know I don’t deserve it, but…please, I just need you to try and understand that this wasn’t about hurting you, or about keeping you in the dark, it was about what was best for the baby.”
I take his hands, gently ease their grip on my shirt and then just hold them in mine. “I know, Will. I get it. But…I don’t know how to look at you now. You’re…you don’t feel like the same person.”
“If you need me, Will. I will always be here for you.” I murmur, meaning it. “I promise.”
“I need you now, Sonny.”
I shake my head. No break up had ever felt like this before. Hurt egos have nothing to do with this, there’s nothing trivial about it and we didn’t fall out of love. A part of me still feels that the two of us are like magnets, that we just fit and belong together. But somewhere along the way…a tie between us was cut against our will, and our future simply unraveled.
“Sonny…I don’t know how to not love you. I am never going to not be in love with you.”
I take his face gently in my hands, and lift my chin to press a kiss to his brow. “You’ll learn, we both will. And until then, we’re just going to figure out how to be friends.”
His gaze is cast downwards, and he shakes his head slowly, dejectedly. My chest thumps painfully when I see the damp trails on his cheeks and I suddenly want this done. I don’t feel angry and I don’t want to hurt him anymore than I want to be hurt. “You left a few books— your school books at my place. A sweater, too.” I swallow hard, and pull away from him. “I’ve got some paperwork to do, so…” I sniff, rub the back of my neck and out of nowhere the thought that Will is never going to run his fingers through my hair again pops into my head and nearly steels my breath away. “So why don’t you go pick them up while I’m here, and…maybe you can just leave the key on the counter.”
He flinches when I ask for the key, but then nods his head. He looks like he’s going to say something, but I can’t figure out what because he won’t look at me. Eventually he takes a step backwards, and then just turns around and leaves.
I walk over to the couch, sit down. It’s done. I did the sensible thing. And my world is suddenly so much smaller and lonely as a result.
The key’s in the lock but I can’t force myself to open the door. This’ll probably be the last time I stand in Sonny’s apartment. The last time I get to breath in everything that is purely him and I’m not ready. I feel my chin tremble like the child I am, and push forwards. I’m immediately enveloped by his scent, by the feeling of being surrounded by what’s familiar, safe and comforting.
I close the door. I know exactly where the books are. And the sweater. I left them on purpose so at the very least I’d have an excuse to talk to Sonny. An excuse to be here one last time. But I leave them for the moment, and instead I move to sit on the end of bed.
I’m going to miss this place so much. It’s small and cramped, the kitchen sink clogs sometimes and the shower’s tiny, but It’s home. At the end of the bed, on the floor is where we’d sit and play Xbox. He’d lean back against the bed with me sitting between his legs, my back to his chest whilst trying to pull the controller out of his hands when it looked like I was losing. It always made him laugh.
In the bathroom there’s a cup that once held my toothbrush as well as his. My shaver sat next to his on the shelf. They were such small things that somehow felt intimate, and I can’t help but remember the one morning when we both had time to spare, and he’d leaned back against the sink and let me shave him. I smile thinking about it. Both of us with damp hair, towels wrapped around our waists, and him, trusting me enough to let me brush a blade over his throat for no other reason than I wanted to.
The bed was where he taught me how to make love. Where he joked, breathless, impressed, that I was a quick learner. Where we’d lay in the dark, nestled close, whispering about the future we pictured together.
The kitchen was where I loved to watch him most. I loved that when he cooked, he liked to pretend that he had his own cooking show. And I loved that he was always genuinely surprised when whatever he made tasted like utter crap due to his inability to follow a recipe.
I stand; walk over to the kitchen, remembering that I’d left the mug my little sister had made me in one of the cabinets. I stop when I see it. I’ve never seen him take the bracelet off before. I know that there’s no special meaning behind it, that it was in fact the string that held the tag to a shirt he bought years ago and that he just liked it for some reason. But it’s something I will always associate with him, and without thinking about it, I pick it up and put it in my pocket. I’ll leave him my mug. There are some scary, intimidating times ahead of me and apparently I would be facing them without Sonny. Having this piece of him, safe and snug in my pocket, made it feel as if maybe he would be there with me somehow. My eyes are wet. I can’t breathe. I close my eyes, whisper to myself.
“Stop crying. Stop crying.”
I suddenly can’t be here anymore. I find my sweater, pick up my books, take one last look at the life I almost had, and then close the door behind me.
I make my way back over to Common Grounds, and then I get stuck. As soon as I go in and leave the key on the counter, that would be it. We were done. The thought is just too terrible. We were about to disappear. Not literally, obviously, but the me and Sonny as a unit, as an ‘us’. Nothing would be left, and no one would know that this beautiful thing between us had ever existed. People would just go on about their normal lives, oblivious to what it was I was having to say goodbye to.
I can’t bear the thought. I tell myself that it just isn’t possible, that feelings so strong didn’t just stop existing. I tell myself that the bench around the corner from common Grounds would remember when Sonny had teased me about being afraid of a ten foot climbing wall. The couch in Horton Square would remember how he’d wrapped his blue scarf around me when I was cold. The arch near the pub would remember our first kiss. We’d imprinted ourselves on these places. And though these thoughts may be juvenile and very improbable, I feel somewhat comforted by them.
I look around and barely suppress a groan. I don’t have the energy to fight Nick off. I don’t have anything left.
I told myself that I’d just stay in my office and listen for the door to open and then close. That I wouldn’t come out until I knew Will had gone and left the key behind, but I can’t do it. I’ve turned the lights out and I’m sitting in the dark like some creeper, but when it’s dark I can almost fool myself into thinking that these aren’t tears I’m holding back. In the dark it’s easier to think. It’s the way Will and I always talked back at the apartment, in the dark, huddled close. It makes the words that otherwise feel too daring or frightening easier to say. Now I’m just trying to think about what it is that’s so frightening that I want to say. My feelings haven’t changed. I’m still angry, disappointed and hurt.
And I am still utterly in love with him.
I literally do not know what to do. I forced myself to say the words that any sane person in my position would say. I told him it was over. I even told him that I wouldn’t disappear from his life completely. But now I have to sit here and digest those words.
I have my flaws. I’ve never impregnated someone and then kept it a secret from my boyfriend, but I definitely have a few shortcomings of my own. When I get hurt, I get angry. I seize up and immediately act on the instinct to push away and protect myself. My father’s always told me that he thinks it’s to compensate for how freaking nice I am all the time. That the negativity has to go somewhere.
This is the third time I’ve unleashed it on Will. The first, when I misjudged the situation and kissed him—which, he’s already explained to me that it wasn’t so much a case of me misjudging, but was more to do with his inability to cope at the time with what was going on around him and reaching a breaking point. Regardless, I was embarrassed and I lashed out at him. The second was when Lucas had overstepped and unintentionally played on Will’s insecurities, resulting in a conversation between Will and I that was insulting. I lashed out, pushed him away, and didn’t leave room to talk about it.
And now this. None of these events had really been an error on my part, but the poor way in which they were dealt with was purely my failing. For a third time he’s come back to me, wanting to fix things, and for the third time I’ve dismissed him. And I instinctively know that there will not be a fourth time.
I’m just trying to figure out a way to live with that.
He asked me to be understanding and I have been. He wanted forgiveness— he couldn’t bring himself to ask for it out loud, he didn’t dare— but that’s what he wanted, it’s what he needed, and I slammed the door in his face. I tell him I love him, ask him to live with me, make him feel safe with me, and then rip it all away at the first hurdle. Albeit it’s a pretty huge fucking hurdle, but still
Raised voices pull me out of the nightmare playing out in my mind, and with a frown I stand and peek through the closed blinds and out of the window. It’s Will and Nick, and just the sight of Nick—who has a good foot on Will anyway— bearing down on him is enough to get my hackles up. I go for the door, and pause just a second to hear their conversation.
“Just do the right thing, Will. For once, stop being so damn selfish and do the right thing!”
“That’s what I’m doing” he says, with no power in his voice whatsoever.
“Haven’t you made her life difficult enough, hmm? You lead her on when there can’t possibly be a future between you. You take advantage of her when she’s already vulnerable—”
“You ruin her wedding day and now you’re trying to destroy the family we’re building. I mean, just how much is enough for you? How many lives do you need to destroy before you’re happy?”
“That’s not…I-I’m not trying to—”
“As if you could ever be a father. You’re not even a man.”
Will doesn’t answer. I answer for him. I push myself between them, shoving Nick back a step. “He’s more of a man then you’ll ever be, killer.”
I see Nick’s eyebrow twitch and think distantly that it’s probably best not to antagonize the convicted murderer. “You need to back the hell off, and I don’t mean just right now.” I take a step forward, and I don’t know what it is he reads on my face, but he takes a step back. “Because despite what you think, you’re not holding all the cards here” I say, my voice low. “You need to be careful, and so does Gabi, because secrets have a way of coming out, Nick.” I say with a pointed look.
I can see the second that understanding dawns on him, because he takes a second to glance between me and Will, and then with one last signature, creep-tastic glare, he turns and leaves. I turn and see Will standing there, frowning slightly at Nick’s retreating back. I know that I have some confessing to do myself, but there’s another conversation we need to have first. Or rather, there’s a conversation I would very much like to have a do-over of.
“Are you alright?”
He looks at me, confused, drained, and just shakes his head slightly. “Sonny to the rescue” he mutters. Though he doesn’t seem to be happy or joking. “I guess that’s the first of many confrontations I have coming my way. Oh joy.”
I stop myself from brushing his cheek like I want to, like what feels natural, and settle for running my hand from his shoulder to his elbow. “You’re not alone, Will.”
The look he gives me is unconvinced, but he nods his head anyway. He clears his throat. “I have your key…”
He digs his hand into his pocket and pulls out the key…along with my bracelet that is tangled around it. He sees what’s in his hand, blanches slightly, and then his shoulders slump. He shakes his head and gives a small laugh that is utterly devoid of humor.
“Yes. Yes of course that would happen.”
I frown. “Will, what are you…?”
“Not satisfied with being a failure of a boyfriend and a liar, I thought I’d add petty thief to the list. Here.”
He presses the key and bracelet into my hand.
“So, I guess…I guess that’s it.”
But I’m still not passed the bracelet being in his pocket. I’m not mad, just confused. He looks me in the eye, sees that I’m not letting him off the hook, and his shoulders slump once more.
“Look. I just…I just thought that all of this…” He gestures with a lift of his chin towards where Nick had been moments ago. “All of that would be just a little bit easier to bear if I…if I could pretend you were by my side. So I stole your bracelet. I’m not only a liar, I’m pathetic, alright?”
I feel a painful throb in my chest.
“So…so I have my stuff.” He presses his lips together tightly, nodding his head as if convincing himself of something. “And you have your key.” His voice cracks on the word ‘key’ and he quickly clears his throat. “So I guess, I guess there’s nothing else to—”
“Will, I don’t…I don’t think we…” I break off with a sigh; I don’t even know what it is I’m trying to say. I don’t even know what it is I want. All I know is how I feel. All I know is that I love him. “Will…”
Suddenly he’s in my arms, clutching me desperately. Holding him close isn’t even a conscious action, my arms just do it. I wonder for a second if he’s read my mind, but then I realize that he’s not trying to hold on to me, he’s trying to say goodbye.
“Sonny,” he begins, his voice small and broken. “Thank you. Thank you for the past few months.” I feel his hand at the back of my head, stroking my hair. I feel him press his brow to my temple. “You made me so happy, Sonny” he whispers. “I love you.”
Before I can blink away the stinging in my eyes, before I can even make my throat work and form words, he’s gone. My arms are suddenly empty and I’m watching him walk away. I’m watching him walk away towards an uncertain future that promises to be difficult and trying. And he’s doing it alone because I—the person who had made the promise that what’s mine is his, and what’s his is mine. Including the hang ups, the bad habits, the secrets, all of it—had made the decision to shut down and protect myself, rather than face this with him.
I’m so exhausted I could cry. I can’t talk, I can’t look any of them in the eye, I can’t even think straight, but I could cry. I’d hoped to come home, my arms full of the last few items I’d had stashed at Sonny’s, and just collapse onto my old bed. But no, no Rafe was here looking for his pound of flesh. And apparently I’m not allowed to slink off to emotionally breakdown in private until he’s finished telling me what a selfish little bastard I am. Well, go ahead, Rafe. I’m not putting up a fight. My mother’s about to scratch your eyes out, but I’ve got nothing.
Evidently, after the brief disagreement outside of Common Grounds, Nick had gone straight to Rafe. Gone is the man that used to think of me as a stepson. He’s enraged and looking at me like I’m the scum of the earth. Quite frankly, I don’t think he’s too far off.
“No!” he shakes my mother off his arm and leans over me, crowding me against the wall. “I’m not going anywhere until this little son of a bitch agrees to stay away from my sister!”
“Oh and she’s so innocent, isn’t she!” My mother pretty much screams, and I wince, thinking of my poor brother and sister who are probably huddled together, scared by all of the commotion going on in the lounge.
“Don’t start with that hypocritical nonsense, Sami. You haven’t a leg to stand on!”
“She is flat out lying to you, Rafe! My son did nothing but try to support her, to try and keep her happy! And just look at what the little bitch has turned around and done now!”
“Stop it” I sigh, closing my eyes. I know Gabi’s cut me loose, our friendship now unimportant to her in light of her own happiness. The girl I’d once loved — in a fashion — was now doing her best to make sure that I never know my own child. And honestly? It’s all just a little too painful for me to take right now.
There’s a knock at the door. I’m positive it’s got to be one of the neighbors here to complain about the noise, but the tension in the room is at its peak, and neither my mom nor Rafe pay it any mind. They’re too locked into one another, ready to tear strips off of one another over this useless little bastard standing right here. I wish I’d kept Sonny’s bracelet.
“The door.” I try again when there’s another knock, but all I do is divert Rafe’s anger back at me. He’s in my face again but this time I don’t even flinch. I think I want him to hurt me.
“If you think for a second that I’m going to let you destroy my sister’s happiness,” he sneers down at me about an inch away from my face —why is everyone who hates me taller than me? —when my attention moves from his snarl for a second when I hear the front door to the apartment open, and I’m left wondering if I’m imagining seeing Sonny standing there.
“Then you have another thing coming.” Rafe finishes, and suddenly all the air rushes out of my lungs and I double over, winded and wondering what the hell just happened.
I figure out that I’ve just been punched in the gut and struggle to take a breath. I manage to pull myself up against the wall, almost standing and confused by all of the sudden commotion and shouting I can hear. When I look up I see my mother first, her hands gentle against my face, tears in her eyes. I look over her shoulder and see Sonny climbing off of Rafe where he’d had him on the sofa, lying on his front.
I frown, coughing now that I can breathe again, and wonder how the hell Sonny managed to get the upper hand over Rafe who has nearly a foot in height and maybe fifteen, twenty pounds of muscle on him. I guess the advantage of surprise…or maybe Sonny is just that awesome.
“Yeah, go ahead, officer.” Sonny seethes. “Take a swing at me and see what happens!”
Rafe looks at Sonny, seeming more annoyed than actually threatened, and then he looks at me, and just for a second I think I see a brief flash of remorse.
“Get out.” My mother grinds out through clenched teeth.
I see him hesitate, look back at me long enough for the anger to return, and then he turns and leaves. Straight away my mother’s fussing over me, and I see Sonny hovering in the background looking worried and waiting to get close to me.
“Mom,” I try, but she’s muttering to herself, checking me over for injuries. I look at Sonny, and then back at her. “Mom.” I say firmly and finally she looks at me. “Go check on the kids.”
I see a flash of horror in her eyes when she realizes what I’m trying to say. They’re probably terrified. And she kisses my cheek and quickly moves towards the bedrooms to comfort my no doubt frightened brother and sister.
Left alone with Sonny at last, I try to stand up straight so as not to seem like an absolute loser, and then wet my lips to speak. We speak at the same time.
“What are you —?”
“Are you oka —?”
We pause, neither of us smiles, and while I’m trying to figure out what to say next or what it is he’s doing here, he’s already closed the distance between us and is pulling me into his arms.
It’s both the safest place I’ll ever know and the single most comforting thing in the world. When Sonny holds me, something inside of me unwinds, and it’s just a fraction easier to breathe. At that exact moment my emotions, my exhaustion, everything just gives, and I press my face to his neck and close my eyes tightly to try and stave off the choked up sob I can feel working its way out of my throat.
“Shh,” he murmurs, his hand stroking the back of my hair. “Everything is going to be fine.” He pulls his head back, looks at me. “I mean that. We’re going to figure out our way through this.”
My heart begins to pound, and I hope like hell that I’m not misunderstanding him. I need to be sure. “Sonny…” and that’s as far as I get with my questions because my voice is too raw.
But he’s nodding his head. “You’re not the only one, Will.”
“What do you mean?”
He wets his lips, presses his brow gently to mine, and whispers: “I don’t know how to not love you either, Will.”
His thumb gently brushes my cheek, and my hands cling desperately to his shirt as I take in what it is he’s saying. Too overcome, too overwhelmed, I can’t say anything and settle for the next best thing. I press my lips to his in a desperate, inelegant, simple kiss. When I pull back, finally, I watch him, still so wary of him bolting at the last second. But there’s a small, somewhat emotional tilt to his lips that’s almost a smile, and when I look into those brown eyes, I very nearly crumble right there with relief to see that they’re filled with warmth once again.
“You’re not pushing me away.” I whisper, my words echoing his from a different time and a different kiss.
He kisses me gently and I’m filled with a warm rush of emotion. I feel cherished in a way I don’t deserve, in a way I thought I’d lost forever.
“I’m done with that.”
Something catches my eye as he presses his lips to my forehead, and I notice my mom in the hallway, a small smile on her lips which I know immediately is one of approval, and then she’s gone, and Sonny is looking at me again.
“I’m still…I’m still hurt, Will. And…we need to talk this all out. Again. But this time without your fear and without my anger.”
My hands grip gently at his sides and all I want at this very moment is to kiss him and to collapse into him and to never come up for air. “So we’re…are we—?”
He nods his head. “I’m not letting you go. I thought I wanted to, but I was wrong, I can’t.”
His hand takes ahold of mine, entwining with my fingers and squeezing. “I’m taking you home.”
It’s at that moment I resolve to make this all of up to Sonny somehow. I’m determined. “Why?” I ask.
“Because it’s where you belong.”
He seals his words with a kiss