A/N: ARGH! The last chapter! (Sobs) Although, I'm still pretty proud of myself. I never thought I'd be able to keep up a relationship between Adam and an OC for this long! YAY for that! Plus, I got, like, three other fics in my head, so you couldn't keep me away from ChainShipping if you tried!
13: Letting Go
Adam is sitting on the couch with Jake. They've been sitting like this for an hour now, since they came home from the funeral.
Adam is quiet.
Jake is quiet.
A puddle of unspoken words rests between them.
Adam doesn't ask why Jake showed up at the funeral. Jake doesn't ask what Adam said to Allison.
Adam knows he has to say something. Jake knows he has to say something.
They're both looking for answers. And they're not sure if the other one has them.
But they also know that there's plenty of time to figure that out.
Jake's realized that he'll never be able to leave Adam. Adams' realized that Lawrence is never coming back. That he will be alone with his misery, have no one to talk to, no one who understands one of the most terrible things that can possibly happen to a person.
But he's also realized that even if no one understands, he does have someone who listens. Who'll try to understand.
That even though the bathroom was the second worst thing in his life, and he has no one to talk about that with, he has someone who he can talk to about the worst things that happened in his life.
And he's never letting that person go. He'll never be that stupid again.
Finally, Jake says something.
"You know, Adam…"
There's a pause. Neither one of them look at each other. The TV's playing, and they both stare at that, instead, almost mechanically. Jake starts over. Adam's never seen him this awkward.
"I'm here now," Jake finishes off. "I mean, if you want me here. These next couple of months will be terrible, but… I'll be here. If you need someone to… You know, talk to."
Adam nods. He's surprised over the small effect these words have on him.
Maybe because he already knew this.
"I'm here, too."
Adam doesn't even get that he was the one saying that until Jake actually turns to him, his expression surprised.
"I'm here," Adam says plainly and throws his hand out. "Damn, it feels like that first night we made out. We've been talking about me for the past two months now. Like I'm the one who's lost someone. But I'm here now. For you, too, I mean."
Jake smiles, almost sadly, and turns to the TV again.
"That's okay. It was probably worse for you. Anyone who went through that would have nightmares for life, but you didn't just go through that. You lost someone you loved along the way."
Adam doesn't answer. He just lets the words sink in, lets them be a warm, safe armor around his heart, something that keeps other people from hurting it but also keeps Jake there. With him.
Because they are comforting in some way. Even though he's never heard anyone stating Lawrence's death so plainly since he was carried away from him, carried away from Lawrence's dead body by paramedics who chanted it over and over: He is dead, Mr. Faulkner. Your friend is dead, Mr. Faulkner.
"You don't love me," Jake suddenly says.
Adam doesn't answer.
"You love Lawrence. And you love me because you see his face whenever you look at me."
Jake isn't sure what he wants to achieve by saying this. He already knew this, it's not news to him, and he's sure Adam knows it, too. Hell, he doesn't even deny it, something Jake wants him to more than he wants to live right now.
Living with someone who doesn't love you isn't that desirable, anyway.
But sometimes, you still have to stay with them. Because you can't stand the thought of them being alone.
"No," Adam finally says.
He doesn't sound upset. He can't really blame Jake for thinking this, but Jake still hears the surprise in his voice. Like he doesn't get why Jake would say something like that.
"No, that's not why I love you at all," Adam continues, still without looking at him.
Pause. Jake isn't really convinced, but he still feels his attention being caught.
"I see Lawrence all the time," Adam says, almost wearily, like his sick of it, sick of it but never wants it to go away. "Seriously. Every damn time I close my eyes, every goddamn night, he's even come into my room sometimes. But only on good nights. I don't need someone who looks like him to see him."
Another pause. And now, Adam turns to look and Jake, and Jake has to work to make himself look back, because he's so scared.
Adam has his heart in the palm of his hand right now.
If he hurts him now, Jake will never recover.
"The reason I love you…" Adam says slowly, with conviction heavy in every word, "is that you take Lawrence's face away. I'm sick of having it here. I'm fucking sick of it, because it never becomes real. I'll never be able to touch him or talk to him or anything, ever again. And that face just… Underlines it."
Jake is awestruck for a few seconds. He knows that Adam is telling him the truth, he speaks these words from the bottom of his heart, and it's so far beyond what Jake thought he'd say that he can't even think of a reasonable answer.
But at last, he smiles and turns his eyes back to the TV. They're quiet for a few more minutes, Jake almost actually starts watching the show before Adam speaks up again.
"You know what I'm going to do tomorrow?"
"Go to work," Adam says with a silly grin, and he seems to taste the words so cautiously that Jake actually laughs.
"I'm really proud of you, Adam."
Adam keeps his grin and looks down on his hands.
"I'm proud of me, too."
Jake smiles as well, and wishes he had the courage to look at Adam. After all, he very rarely gets to see the expression he knows is on Adam's face right now, with the corners of his mouth almost reaching his ears, his gaze lowered, with a light blush on his cheeks. Like he's ashamed of being happy.
But maybe Jake will get to see that expression more often in the future.
Things will be okay now.
Adam's eyelids flutter, even though it's reluctantly. Right now, he's trapped in a web of Jake's arms and Jake's warmth and Jake's breath on his neck, he's completely entwined, he can't breath and he can't break free and he doesn't want to break free.
For the first time in a long time.
But then, he recognizes the voice that just talked to him, and then, his eyes open abruptly.
Lawrence is in his room.
Lawrence is in his room in a way he hasn't seen him in forever, hell, he's never seen Lawrence like this, because Lawrence walks up to his bed without a limp, both his feet are there, and he's alive and he's breathing and smiling and Adam's silly grin is back, it's back and it's bigger than ever before, his eyes are stinging and he has to do his best to keep his grin from disappearing when Lawrence sits down on the edge of the bed.
Yes. Adam wants to cry.
He wants to cry, because this isn't for real. Lawrence isn't here, Lawrence will never be here again, Lawrence is dead and he died way too quickly, but it doesn't matter.
As long as Adam gets to pretend these few seconds before Lawrence has to go again, it'll all be worth it.
Adam untangles from the maze of Jake's arms and sits up on his bed. Lawrence is sitting in front of him, and Adam can't even think of anything to say. Lawrence doesn't seem to mind, though. He's just smiling.
"Hey, man," Adam finally says, and Lawrence's smile gets wider.
"Hey. How are you doing?"
"Okay," Adam admits and nods to his own statement. "I mean, I miss you like crazy, but… I have someone new now."
Lawrence nods. Still smiling, it warms Adam up from the inside.
"I know. I'm very happy about that."
Adam nods, too. Though he doesn't really believe it. That's why he has to excuse himself now, he doesn't know if he'll get another chance.
"Listen," Adam says and tries to sound casual. "Oh, damn, I love you, I really do, but I can't…"
"Adam," Lawrence cuts him off.
His voice isn't soft in the same way as before. It's firm. So firm that Adam's voice can't even reach it.
"I love you, too," Lawrence says. "Very much. More than I ever loved Allison."
He pauses. Now, he almost looks sad.
"Just promise me that you'll let yourself be happy, okay?"
Adam nods without a trace of hesitation. Hell, his smile is even back.
"Don't worry," he says, almost casual now. "I will. It's not as scary as before to… Fall in love, you know. This thing can't end worse than our thing did, anyway."
Lawrence chuckles. But his face quickly grows serious, and now, Adam's eyes starts pricking again, as if he hasn't cried enough today, because this is coming to a close, he can feel that, and there won't be another time after that.
Lawrence won't come back.
Because he knows Adam can get by on his own now.
Lawrence brings his hand to Adam's cheek, his fingers wipe away tears Adam didn't even know he cried, and he looks firmly into Adam's eyes.
It tears Adam's very soul apart. But it's okay.
He's said those words. He's told Lawrence he's sorry.
And just by showing up here, Lawrence has told him it's okay.
"I have to go now, Adam."
Adam's first instinct is to beg. As he usually does.
Ask Lawrence not to go. Beg him not to go.
But he doesn't do that. He has someone else to comfort him as soon as Lawrence leaves, someone who catches the tears and allows Adam to drown his sorrow and his memories of Lawrence's face in his mouth.
So Adam just nods. And Lawrence's smile is gone, too, his eyes are shining with raw despair, but he doesn't shed a tear. In a melancholy way, he almost looks happy.
"I'm watching over you," Lawrence continues. "Every step of the way."
"Now, go to sleep. I have one last thing I want to show you. My little Adam."
The last three words roll so sweetly off Lawrence's tongue.
And after that, it's like someone has given Adam a shot. He doesn't even stay awake long enough to see Lawrence fade away, just falls back into the mattress where darkness envelop him.
But he does manage to feel how Jake's arms close around him again before he falls asleep.
In Adam's dream, he's standing by the side of a road.
The air is crispy, the sky is like icy cotton hanging over his head. It's going to rain soon, Adam's sure of that.
He sees Lawrence standing a few feet away from him, tall and strong, in another way Adam's never seen him.
The wind blows back his hair, it flutters like a tiny lion's mane from the back of his head. Lawrence is wearing a long coat, the wind's got a hold on that, too. It blows like a flag around Lawrence's waist. Makes it look like he can fly.
Lawrence has his hands on his hips, his back straight, his expression sincere. Like he's trying to make a decision.
He's standing by a crossroad.
Adam's read somewhere that in the older days, people burned the bodies when a member of their family died, and then they put the ashes in an urn, and they placed the urn by a crossroad. So that the spirits of the dead one wouldn't find the way back home.
And Adam really hopes Lawrence will go.
He's been sticking around long enough to make sure Adam's okay.
And just when Adam thinks that, Lawrence starts walking. Slowly at first, almost insecurely, but then, he picks up speed, doesn't look back, doesn't look at Adam, which Adam's happy for.
He doesn't want Lawrence to see that he misses him already, that he always will, no Jake in the world can fix that, doesn't want Lawrence to see that he cries.
But Lawrence still seems so convinced that Adam's going to be okay now that he almost convinces Adam, too. Because he keeps walking, he walks and walks and walks until he's just an inch tall, and Adam can barely see him.
Then, he turns around and waves.
TA-DAAH! Another completed fic! Ah, what a bittersweet feeling this is… Anyway, it's a damn completed fic now, so just… REVIEW!