Author's Note: Hey guys, I'm so sorry for such a late update. I honestly didn't realise it was that long until I looked at the last update date yesterday. I have been so incredibly busy with college and work, I haven't had the time to update but at last, here's the next chapter! I hope the next one is up quicker but I can't promise anything. My next day off will be around Christmas.
Mort woke up to a dry, itchy thirst in his throat but no energy to get up to get a drink. It was quite a horrible feeling. He needed water but opening his eyes and getting up seemed impossible. His skin felt so hot, his t-shirt was sticking to him with sweat rolling down his skin. He was hot, parched, his head was throbbing and he was so very tired.
Yup, this is a hangover.
This is a very big hangover.
He let out a groan which even hurt his throat. "Oh God…"
He heard the window be pulled up and a breeze rolled into the room from the cold, winter weather but though the cold licked his skin lightly, he was too drenched in sweat to appreciate it. The breeze hit his dry lips and made his thirst even worse.
"There's water on your nightstand."
Mort cracked open one eye though immediately closed it again due to the light but he had gotten a tiny glimpse of Dylan, sitting by the window, a book in her hands.
"Dylan?" His voice sounded surprised that she was in the room.
"Did you forget I was here?" She smiled slightly.
"Kind of. My brain hasn't started working yet. It's mainly begging me to get up and drink something cold."
Dylan walked over to the bed and sat down on the side. "Come here." She helped him up slightly, pulling his t-shirt over his head. Mort had to admit, that did feel a lot better. He was going to lie back down properly but Dylan kept him propped up a little as she took the glass on the nightstand and placed it against his lips. Mort's hand wrapped around the glass to hold it as he gulped it back greedily. It was weird for him to get over one drinking addiction by craving a different type of drink but the water felt too good to resist.
Once the water was gone, he looked up at Dylan. "How long have you been awake?"
"Just an hour or two." She lied. He'd been tossing and turning so much, she'd ended up sleeping in the little armchair in the room and as a result, hadn't actually gotten much sleep at all. She watched over him instead and she did something else, something she had to tell him about. "I made you an appointment."
Mort frowned, sitting up. "An appointment?"
"With a doctor." She clarified. "So he can gauge what the best course of action is for this."
Mort didn't seem thrilled but he didn't seem mad either. "Don't you think I should have done that?" Dylan didn't reply. "You didn't think I would."
"I just know you don't like the thought of it."
"I said I would do it and I meant it. I wouldn't have promised if I was going to back out."
"I know that." She said. "I just wanted to make it a little easier."
He couldn't be annoyed when he looked at her. She genuinely did look like she was trying to help and that was more than he deserved. She could have easily washed her hands of him altogether. "What doctor?"
"Not the one in Tashmore and not mine or yours. I did some quick checking on the internet and this clinic place was recommended."
"Clinic? As in rehab?"
"No, I'm not trying to send you to rehab, it's just a place where they'll look you over and decide what's best. You never know, he could just prescribe some sedatives to help you relax and sleep and send you back here. It's not unusual for doctors to recommend outpatient facilities. You haven't been having hallucinations or anything, have you?"
Mort thought about Shooter. "No."
"That's good. No hallucinations or convulsions or anything, that's good. I know it's only the first day but-"
"Second, isn't it?"
Dylan looked at him sympathetically. "You were drinking yesterday. This isn't going to be easy and it isn't going to be finished in a day so we should do this right. We'll go to the doctor, find out what's what and then we'll go from there."
Mort really appreciated the fact that she was saying 'we'.
"I read that withdrawal symptoms usually last from four days to around a week so we'll just see how things go." She continued. "But the worst thing we can do is pretend this is going to be easy when it's not. We're in for a long, hard week but I don't plan on backing out, do you?"
Dylan smiled. "So you'll go to the doctor?"
He nodded. "A week? That's all?"
She looked at him sadly again. "The withdrawal symptoms will last for around a week. This struggle isn't ending any time soon."
"Try the rest of my life."
Dylan took his hand. "Our life. When I said I wasn't backing out, I meant from anything."
Mort clenched her hand tighter. "I shouldn't let you stay here."
"Let me stay?" Dylan repeated. "Just try to get rid of me. That'll be interesting seeing as how you can barely lift that glass." She joked.
"I'm more interested in what's in the glass. That I manage all too well." He said bitterly.
Dylan sighed and walked over to the other side of the bed, lying down and facing him. "I'm not going anywhere."
Mort let out a shaky breath. "Why did you come back?" He asked as he ran his fingers through her hair and she closed her eyes.
"Because I love you."
"Still. And I was worried about you." She admitted.
"So you were just coming to check on me and then leave again?"
Dylan opened her eyes and looked up at him.
"I came because I realised how much I care about you." Mort didn't say anything but just looked at her. "I heard about what my father said to you, all the things he said to you. Mort, I'm sorry about him. I had no idea."
"It's fine. He was just being protective."
"He was being awful to you according to my mom which wasn't fair. The way she tells it, you were great."
"Yeah, after hearing stories about your mom, I never thought she'd be the one of your parents I got along with better."
Dylan nodded. "I wish I could say he used to be more laid back but I'd be lying. It's gotten worse though. Ever since what happened, he doesn't trust my judgement or anyone around me. It's why I didn't want you to meet him for so long. He's too overprotective. When I heard about how he treated you, I got so mad…I wanted to leave there straight away, I wanted to see you."
"So you're here to disobey your father? Wow, it only took me how many years after high school to become the bad boy?" Mort joked.
"I'm here because I realised I don't want anyone treating you or talking to you that way. I'm here because I realised you're still the most important thing to me." Dylan got up, sitting cross legged on the bed. "We were buying a house, Mort. We were planning on spending our lives together. What changed?"
Mort knew what had changed. His attitude towards her. He'd gone to see her ex in prison and let it affect everything he thought about her. He couldn't tell her that though, no matter how much she deserved to hear it.
"I guess…Things just went too fast." He said instead, sitting up too. "We did everything way too fast and I don't know about you but…I'm not used to doing things that way. I just got caught up in everything without thinking because thinking too much is usually what ruined things for me."
"I guess you're right. I mean, we were saying I love you a few days after deciding it was too soon to say I love you."
"Well, I don't regret that. I do love you." Mort said.
"I know but the whole getting a house together thing?" She frowned. "That definitely was too fast."
Mort nodded. "I just felt like everything would fall into place finally if I left here."
"Maybe that's still true." Dylan suggested. "But maybe finding somewhere new with me will have to wait. I mean, we decided that it was too soon to live together and then completely ignored that."
Mort sighed. It was true to say that none of that was like him but that's what he'd been striving for, to be different. He wanted to change. Only now he was realising that it wasn't working out for him. It wasn't easy to change who he was, unless it was Shooter doing it. That was another reason he couldn't live with her. She shouldn't have even been here now, it was too much of a risk. What if Shooter took him over and hurt her? He needed to see a doctor, that much was clear but not for his alcoholism.
How do I tell her that? That I might be crazy?
Maybe I don't have to. Maybe if a doctor prescribes something or I go to sessions, it'll work out.
More secrets from her. I haven't exactly been coping too well with the last one.
More than one.
"Mort?" Dylan frowned. "Are you alright?"
Mort realised he hadn't been answering her. "Oh, sorry. I was just…Thinking."
"About how you're right. Maybe getting out of here, out of Tashmore, might do me some good."
"Maybe." Dylan shrugged. "I just don't know if us living together is a very good idea."
Mort wished he could argue but she was right. If he was going to do this, and properly, he didn't want to involve her anymore than he already had. Especially if he was going to try to get to the root of his Shooter problem. He could only tell her that when the time was right and he was ready and that wasn't yet. If they were living together, she was bound to find out.
I should be telling her that I need time to myself, that I'm not prepared to be in a relationship right now. How can I be with her while trying to hide this?
She frowned. "What is it?"
"I don't think...I don't know if being in a relationship...Is the best thing for me right now."
She seemed frozen for a second before nodding. "I understand. I can't imagine how hard this is going to be. But I don't want to leave you without help and I still care about you. So maybe...We don't need to be together but we can still be friends. I want to support you through this and then when you're feeling better, we can see where things stand."
Mort sighed. That wasn't even good enough, he needed her to keep her distance for her own sake. He didn't know when Shooter could pop up and if he was going to be emotionally vulnerable all the time, it was incredibly risky. She didn't seem to want to leave though. She wanted to help him.
Mort sat up, knowing how to make her go but hating having to use it. "I went to see him."
Dylan frowned but Mort didn't look at her. "What?"
"I went to see your ex. In prison."
She didn't know if she could believe him but why would he lie? "What? Why? Why would you do that?"
"To ask him questions, like why he did it."
"Because he's crazy, that's why!" She said, getting off the bed quickly.
"He said the same about you. He said you lied about everything, that you faked the whole thing."
"Of course he did! He's always said that! It doesn't make it true!"
"He said that you were putting stuff in his food and that's…"
"Why he couldn't remember anything, yes Mort, I've heard it all before! I can't believe…" She stopped and turned to him. "Is this how he knew how to find me here? Because you told him?"
"I didn't think he'd know you lived here…I didn't think he'd be able to get my number, it's unlisted."
"Is this why you were mad at me?" She asked. "When I had no idea why? Because you went to see him and believed every word? You thought I was going to poison you and frame you?"
"No, I didn't believe him." Mort tried to clarify.
"Then why were you mad at me?"
"I wasn't mad but I didn't know what was going on, what was the truth…"
"You were supposed to believe me!" She shouted, tears in her eyes. "Why did you go to him? Why did you doubt me?"
"I didn't want to but I read an article…"
"An article?" Dylan said. "Just one? Just one out of the dozens there were, all saying different things? Which one was it, huh? Because I've read all of them and none of them get it right!"
"Dylan, I'm sorry."
"What did the article say?" She pressed.
"That the first judge withdrew from the case."
Dylan nodded. "Because I couldn't get my answers straight."
"Because neither of you could."
"Well, let me explain what happened then." She said, turning formal all of a sudden. "Should I start from the beginning or…? I know I've already told you but with all the different versions you've heard, you might have forgotten mine."
"Stop." Mort said, feeling worse than he already had. He didn't think that was possible.
"Stop what? Telling you my side? Apparently I have to."
"I don't want to hear it."
"No, you prefer to read it. Well now you're getting an exclusive."
"I panicked on the stand." She said. "I panicked because I didn't know what was going on."
Mort frowned. "What?"
"After the attack, I went to see a therapist."
"You told me you didn't."
"You'll know why in a second. The reason I went to see a therapist was because I didn't have a choice. When I was in hospital, I was kind of in shock. I didn't remember much of the attack so they recommended counselling. I went to see a therapist every day and he worked with me to do some memory recovery techniques or something. The only problem is he started dragging up a lot of memories that weren't there."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, the guy was a hack. He diagnosed me with PTSD, popped me full of sedative-hypnotic pills and then tried to drag up painful past memories that don't exist. I was so out of it, I started to believe them. I got prepped before I went on the stand but by that time, I had a lawyer telling me what was true in one ear and a therapist telling me what was true in the other. I completely crumbled on the stand. Once it happened, my family realised what was going on, took me to another doctor who pointed out that memory recovery techniques like that can be a form of malpractice."
"So the reason you were jittery on the stand was because you were on prescription drugs and being told all different things?"
"I was so tired all the time and the press never left me alone and…I ruined everything. It's only by some grace of God that the retrial was called and by then, my family had realised something was wrong and I was competent enough to know what was happening."
Mort was a little astounded. Her story just kept getting weirder and weirder. "Why didn't you tell me this before?"
"If you thought you were crazy, would you tell someone?" She asked.
It was then that Mort remembered his own story was getting weirder and weirder. "No, but you're not crazy…"
"Imagine having everyone you know and love telling you that what you remember isn't true and that what you think is a lie, wouldn't you feel a little off-kilter?"
Mort didn't reply. How could he? She was right.
"I just…I wanted to leave everything behind me." She said. "But if you keep dragging up the past, I can't. I want someone who will try and make me forget it, not always remind me."
"That's not what I want to do, I don't care about your past." Mort said. He had started this to make her leave but now he felt he had to defend himself. He never wanted to hurt her that badly when he did what he did and he couldn't stand her thinking it. "I believe you and I trust you and I'm sorry that I dragged it all up again. I guess I'm just still a little screwed up after Amy."
Little being a huge understatement.
Dylan nodded before walking out of the room.
"Dylan, wait." Mort got up and followed her before realising that he should let her go, his plan was working. "Look, if you want to leave…"
"You're damn right I want to leave!" She shouted, looking for her bag.
"Then I won't stop you."
"No, you won't."
She grabbed her bag and went to the door before stopping with her back to Mort who was still on the stairs. He could hear her crying.
"I said I'd stay." She sniffed.
"But if you want to leave…"
"I said I'd stay." She repeated. "And then you told me that. Why?" She sounded helpless. "Why tell me that when I wanted to help you? When I was trying to do something good because I love you? Why make me want to never see you again when I just wanted to see you be okay?"
Mort sighed, feeling even worse than he previously had. "Because you deserve so much better than me. I mean, so, so much better."
"But I wanted you. Does that mean nothing to you?"
"Of course it does." Mort finished walking down the stairs. "Dylan, you're the best thing that happened to me in a very long time but I did something to hurt you and no matter how much I wish I could, I can't take it back. You don't deserve someone like that, you don't deserve someone with my problems. You deserve more."
Dylan finally turned to him, her eyes red and wet . "I'm not leaving. I am staying here and helping you. I promised you we were in this together now and I don't break my promises. I like to think people can have trust in me."
"No. I may not want anything to do with you right now but if I walk out that door after promising I'd help you through this problem then you'd have made me into something I don't want to be. I wanted to help you and I told myself I was strong enough to do it. If I storm out when things get hard when I promised I wouldn't, I would hate myself."
"So you're staying here so you can hate me with honour? Dylan, just go. You can still hate me for what I did by storming out."
Dylan frowned at him. "You sound like you want me to hate you."
"I don't want you to hate me but I know what I did was awful."
"So why not just apologise and swear you'll never do something like that again? It's like you told me to get me to leave. If you really cared about me, you'd want me to stay."
"Because that is what I want." Mort finally had to say. "I do want you to leave. I do want to go through this alone. I can't deal with trying to get better and get over my problems while also trying to be someone I would want you to want to be with."
Dylan couldn't understand. "I don't need you to be anyone but yourself. I didn't fall in love with anyone else."
"You didn't fall in love with this." Mort said, gesturing to himself. "I don't know how to be what you wanted anymore and I'm not competent enough to try."
"I don't understand. I fell in love with you, Mort. Just you, the good and the bad. Just because things are rough right now doesn't change the man you are."
"Well, it feels like it."
"It doesn't. But I'm not prepared to forgive you for going to see him, for not believing me. I can't. I don't know what to do."
"Is that what you want?" She asked. "Do you want me to leave? You tried this last night too and it didn't work because you chose for me to stay. Have you changed your mind about what you want or are you just trying to protect me?"
"I want you to leave."
Mort felt awful as Dylan nodding, with tears still in her eyes. "If that's what you want, then I'll go. I thought I could stay through the hard parts but not when you're intentionally trying to hurt me like this."
"Dylan, I'm not doing it because I want to hurt you."
"I meant, I don't like this. I don't like seeing you so upset, especially when I'm the reason."
"Then why are you doing it?" She cried.
"Because you think that I am the way for you to be happier, to move on with your life but Dylan come on, I am not capable of making anyone happy." Mort said. "Amy didn't have an affair for no reason."
"I am not Amy! I don't know how many more times I can try and make you see that!"
"I know you're not Amy, I never said you were. I just mean that I'm not what you think I am."
"Mort, we were together for months! I know you. I knew you had a drinking problem months ago. I know you get absorbed in your work and sometimes, I have to come second to that even if you don't realise you're doing it. I know you get into bad moods when you get writer's block and you get sarcastic and annoyed and I know not to take it personally. I know all the bad stuff, Mort. Do you really think I was that naive? Everyone has problems and bad points but that does not mean I will spontaneously hate you down the line."
Mort didn't know what to do. "Dylan, that is not what I think, it's not what I'm trying to do. I just don't think I'm the best person for you."
"So you went to visit my ex to use against me so I would leave you? That is a very convoluted way to try and break up with me."
"I did not go visit him so I could use it against you. I never wanted you to find out."
"So why tell me now?"
"Because you keep being so great and you want to stick around when I'm going through this and I don't think you should stay."
"For me or for you?"
"I will be fine."
"Like right now?"
"This is because of what you did when you were sober." She said. "Right now, I am liking drunk Mort way more than I am liking sober Mort. At least drunk Mort hated me openly instead of sneaking around behind my back."
"That isn't what I meant to do."
"Just tell me one thing, why now? Why did you start rooting around my past this far in to our relationship? Why did you have to go see him? Why wasn't my word good enough?"
Mort had told the truth so far, he couldn't stop now. "Amy."
"Amy?" Dylan asked incredulously. "Amy made you do it?"
"She was the one who told me about the mistrial."
"When?" Dylan shook her head.
"I went to see her after you were arrested and the gun, to tell her to leave us alone. She told me then."
"And you had to believe her?"
"I didn't, I just…I had to see for myself."
Dylan sighed. "Why didn't you come talk to me about it?"
"I didn't want you knowing I went to see Amy."
"Why? If you were only telling her to stay away…"
"I was." Mort reassured. "After the arrest and her telling you about the gun and everything, I was just trying to get her to stop. Then she started coming out with all these things about the trial and your past and I tried not to listen, I told her I didn't want to hear it and I left. But I was sitting in front of my computer later and I couldn't help myself. I was hoping if I looked it up, I could prove her wrong. If I didn't look it up and she turned out to be lying to turn me against you, she'd always think I believed her. If I looked it up and saw it wasn't true, I could show her up and then she would realise that nothing she could try would work."
"But it did because she was telling the truth." Dylan shrugged.
"No, she wasn't. She said he was innocent and he's not."
"Do you honestly believe that?"
"I do." Mort said seriously.
"I'm so confused." Dylan shook her head. "You told me you went to see Ryan so I would leave you here, alone. Do you care about me or not?"
"I want you to leave because I care about you. You already have so many burdens in your life, I don't want to be another one."
"You know what's a burden, Mort? Having the person you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with trying to break up with you for no reason. You don't want me to have another burden? What the hell did you think would happen when I walked out of here? I close the door, automatically stop being upset and skip away? I was happy here! I was happy that I could help you, be there for you! I wanted to be the person you could count on, no matter what! You trying to be some martyr to get me out of here just makes me feel awful."
"Dylan, I have a lot going on right now that I need to go through alone."
"I just do."
Dylan nodded. "Fine. If that's what you need..."
With that, she turned and walked out of the house.
Dylan shook her head as she lay on her sister's couch. After coming back from Mort's, she decided the one place she could go where she'd get no judgement was Penny's.
"Do you want anything?" Penny asked. She wouldn't judge but she was never very good at being comforting.
"I want to find somewhere to live. I can't keep doing this." She said, sitting up and resting the cushion she had been hugging into on her lap. "I can't keep going from place to place, hoping that I'll find somewhere that feels right. I just need to settle on what I can."
"Dylan, I don't mind you staying here. I'm always travelling with work anyway, I'm never here."
"No, I can't keep imposing on people. I even did it with Mort and look at what happened to him."
"Dylan, what is going on with Mort is not your fault. You said yourself he was a mess when you met him."
"I never said that." She frowned.
"You kind of did. Remember when you told us how you two got together? The guy has problems and it's not your job to fix him. If he doesn't want you around, that's his loss. But I'm serious, you don't need to rush into living somewhere you don't like when I'm happy to have you here."
Dylan was thinking very intently about something. "There's only one place I've only ever felt completely at home in."
Penny frowned before realising what she was thinking. "No, definitely not. You can't."
Dylan looked at her sister. "It's not sold yet. I can."
"It doesn't matter if it's not sold! Dylan, you couldn't even step foot in there after what happened!"
"It's a house and it's mine, I can go back there. I went back there with Mort and after a while, I was fine. Maybe I'll redecorate." She shrugged. "Give it a complete makeover and it won't remind me of what happened. I'll definitely have to get rid of the glass doors." She tried to smile.
"Dylan, I know what happened was rough and you're upset but you are not thinking clearly. You will be torturing yourself if you go back there." Penny frowned.
"Penny, you've always been supportive about what I wanted. I want to try and live there again."
Penny sighed. "You're sure?"
Dylan wasn't sure. Not at all. But she felt completely lost and felt like she had no other choice. "It's what I want."
Penny was still for a second. "Alright if this is what you want but I am making you a key to this place and if you change your mind at any time, even if it's the middle of the night, you come over, understood?"
Dylan smiled. "Thank you, Penny."
Penny smiled back sadly before reaching over and hugging her sister. "I'm sorry he did that to you."
Dylan rested her head on her sister's shoulder and closed her eyes.
Well that's the answer to what went on with Dylan.
Thanks for reading! Please Review! I'll try to update quicker!