A/N: This… Is… The last… Chapter… Anywhere… Ever. (Dies) No, but seriously: as of this chapter, the fic is officially finished! And trust me, I'm going to miss it like hell, but you know… Adam and Lawrence get by without me now, and I have to let go. Sigh. (Until the next time they're in a mess, of course, then I'll be prepared as always to exploit their misery for the sake of my ego. XD) Anyway, I hope you'll be happy with le ending! You deserve it, for all the awesome reviews you've left. You guys rock big time. ^^
10: Their Scars
One of the nights Adam and Lawrence spent together, shortly after they'd realized that they truly loved each other and couldn't dismiss this as a temporary thing anymore, Adam's shoulder had locked up again.
Lawrence had never been able to deal with that very well. He still isn't. Every time Adam impatiently rolls his arm back and forth, or just when he takes off his shirt, a stab of guilt goes through his heart.
That goddamn bullet scar that never goes away. Never will he forgive himself for giving him that. Especially since he so badly wanted to believe that his mind would heal sooner or later. But this particular day, it'd become painfully clear that it never would.
It had been one of Adam's bad days. Lawrence had come home too late to stop it.
They were in bed. Lawrence had managed to drag Adam out from under the table, gotten him to take a pill and take off his t-shirt, drenched in cold sweat. When the trembling had eased down and he breathed normally again, Adam tried to reach for his cigarettes, and grimaced when his shoulder strained.
"Damn it…" he mumbled and leaned back on the bed again.
Lawrence wrapped his arms around his waist. Hoped that Adam wouldn't notice that he was damn near nauseous with guilt.
"You feeling better now?" he asked.
Knowing that it was useless.
Adam shook his head. Covered Lawrence's hand with his own without even thinking about it.
"It's still hard to use that arm," he said. It was easier to pretend that they were talking about his shoulder.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly. "There's not one day that goes by when I don't wish that I hadn't… Done that to you."
It was the millionth time he said he was sorry for that. And even then, he'd just started caring about Adam so much that those words weren't nearly enough to describe everything he was sorry for.
And as usual, Adam didn't seem to think even almost in the same tracks as Lawrence. He just smiled miserably, tilted his head back to look him in the eye.
Adam doubted in so many things, and he still does. But never in Lawrence. Not even a couple of years from then, when he probably should've.
"You have nothing to be sorry for, man," he said, looking firmly at Lawrence's nose. He wasn't good at having serious conversations and keep eye contact. "If you hadn't been there, I would've been dead now."
The he paused, turned away. Lawrence probably wasn't meant to hear the last thing he said, muttering under his breath.
"Even if I'd made it out of the bathroom."
Adam throws the keys on the table when they walk into the apartment. Lawrence closes the door behind him and looks around like this place is strange to him, which you can't really blame him for.
"You've barely been home at all while I was at the hospital," he says, and Adam turns around. "How have you been able to make a mess?"
Adam grins and scratches the back of his head.
"You weren't home since fucking forever before then, either," he says and looks around, like he didn't see the coffee table full of dirty glasses or the dust gathering in the corners before Lawrence pointed it out. "Plus, you know I have a nick for making a mess."
Lawrence smiles, and takes a few closer to him through the living room. Walking kind of like he's not sure if he's allowed to step on these floors. Adam eyes him up and down, probably interpreting this nervousness as a sign that his chest is acting up again.
"You feeling okay?" he asks, his voice cracking a little. This is still new to him, even though he spent basically every woken second with Lawrence in the hospital during his rehabilitation.
Lawrence nods rapidly, steps a little closer.
"Really?" Adam asks, and walks towards him, too. "Nothing with the chest or the breathing or anything?"
"No," Lawrence says. It's really annoying that just these simple questions are enough to make him damn near teary-eyed. "Just… Nervous about coming back home, I guess."
Adam nods, and there's a pause. When he realizes the meaning behind Lawrence's words, he gestures towards the couch, and they sit down.
Most people wouldn't understand why Lawrence acts this way, even though he's wanted nothing more than coming home for the past weeks. But Adam has a way too clear insight in just how fucked up Lawrence's mind is.
Just how illogical his phobias are. And just how good he is at turning everything against himself, to turn himself into that desperately screaming, blood-soaked man that he thought he left in the bathroom but that he still is inside.
Adam leans his elbow against the back of the couch and turns to Lawrence as he slumps down next to him. He has that patient smile that Lawrence hadn't seen very often before their time at the hospital recently. When Adam has spent all his time on Lawrence's bed, wedged in between his feet, and they talked about all these things they never dared to discuss before. Or, that Adam wanted to discuss but Lawrence simply couldn't.
Lawrence suddenly feels so much in love that he can barely stand it, and reaches out a hand to stroke over his cheek. Adam snorts shyly and lowers his gaze. He's not used to this, either. It's going to take time.
"What is it that you're obsessing over now, Lawrence?" he asks quietly and cocks his head to the side.
Lawrence rolls his eyes at himself and shrugs.
"I really don't know. I'm glad to be home. I'm glad you're giving me a second chance… Or, a gazillionth chance, probably," he says, and Adam chuckles. "It's just… I'm afraid I'll let you down."
Adam nods. There's a pause.
"It's not impossible," Adam finally says and throws his hand out feebly. "You still have those anxieties, those won't go away just because you had a little heart attack. But you've realized what they are now. And you know… How they express themselves. So maybe now, you'll realize when it's them that are controlling you, rather than yourself."
Lawrence feels a pang through his chest, much like the one he feels when he sees Adam's bullet scar, and shakes his head.
"No," he says, and puts his hand over Adam's. "No. Don't say that. Don't act like I was possessed, or something. I'm still the one responsible for my actions, I can't blame them on… The bathroom. I could've handled it differently, I could've started therapy, or… AA, and I could've done something about it. You tried talking to me about it so many times, I could've…"
Adam lowers his gaze again, and nods slowly. Lawrence knows that he gets what he means, and he also knows that he's going to think of another excuse for him. Adam's too forgiving for his own good, after all.
"Yeah," he says after another pause. "Yeah, you could've. Just like I could've left you, or dragged Diana over here and had some kind of intervention. Or like I could've seen a therapist when I had my bad times, to help you feeling a little less like you had to be some kind of knight in shiny armor. Fuck, Lawrence, what good are you doing obsessing over that?"
Lawrence smiles insecurely, and Adam smiles back. Smiles at something he never thought he'd be able to smile about.
"You are responsible for all the shit you did," Adam then says. "You always have been. But you never would've been that way if it hadn't been for the bathroom. And you didn't have any control over you being there or not."
Lawrence opens his mouth, and Adam cuts him off before he can even say anything.
"And either way, what's done is done," he says softly. "I'm glad you're still here, and still… Alive. I'm glad I didn't kill myself. And to be honest, I'm kind of glad I gave you a gazillion chances, too."
Lawrence smiles again, more gratefully this time. He knows what Adam's talking about. It's another one of the subjects they've gone through during the weeks at the hospital.
"When did you become so smart?" he asks and strokes Adam over the cheek again.
Adam smiles embarrassedly.
"It's just a charade," he says in an exhale and looks at the opposite wall. "The second you look the other way, I'll become a pot-smoking, gonorrhea-carrying high schooler again."
Lawrence chuckles, and then they're quiet again.
"When did you say your first therapy session was?" Adam asks after a few seconds.
"This…" Lawrence looks up at the ceiling, as if he's searching for the date there. "Friday. It was Friday, at… Four."
Adam nods. When he speaks up again, he asks a question he's asked Lawrence again and again during this past time, but still hasn't really gotten a real answer to.
"Sorry, man, but I have to ask again," he says and fumbles around with his fingers in his hair for a bit. "What was it you were keeping away from? When you couldn't be home? I mean, I get that you couldn't be here after we'd had a fight, and I get that there were people you had to… 'Save' there at the hospital, but there must've been something here you were scared of. What was it, was it me?"
Lawrence sighs and lets his head fall down next to him on the backrest of the couch. He's quiet for so long that Adam starts thinking that he's not going to answer.
"I don't know," he finally says. "Yeah, maybe. Yeah. I'd seen you when you were at your worst, and now that I was at my worst… I didn't know how you'd be able to handle it. I thought I'd be a burden. I… I think that was it. I don't know. You should ask me when I've finally seen that goddamn therapist."
Adam smiles, still with a hint of sadness in there. The thought that that sadness might never go away is heavy on Lawrence's heart, along with the thousand other weights it bears.
That moment when Adam looked into Lawrence's eyes and saw that he'd fully understood how much he'd hurt him, was so horrible that he almost thought about taking it all back and say that everything was fine the way it was. He knew that it was necessary, that Lawrence has to understood that he could've come home and found Adam dead. He'd already decided how he was going to do it.
If it hadn't been for the same reason as Adam was prepared to live a life in misery.
Whatever makes Lawrence happy is okay.
Lawrence reaches out and touches Adam's cheek again. He's thinking the exact same thing as Adam right now, and neither one of them say it. Maybe they'll learn sooner or later. If they don't, that's suddenly okay, too. It still hurts less now.
"I don't really care anymore," Adam says, lifts his hand to Lawrence's and braids their fingers together.
Lawrence nods. Looks into Adam's eyes and tries to save that look permanently in his memory. The one thing in his life he doesn't have to work to save.