AUTHORS NOTE: Shoot. It's been so long since I updated this story. I'm sorry! Here I am with the next chapter...
DISCLAIMER: I don't own the characters.
A month had passed since Stuart's attack and he'd long since been released from the hospital. The hospital had asked if he would rather one of his friends to be his care taker or would he like a nurse to come in daily and help him. The team had been shocked when Stuart had chosen the nurse option but nothing had shocked them more when he'd started ignoring their calls, especially those of Jackie. At first, the team had just brushed it off as he needed space which they were more than happy to give him but after two weeks and then when he turned his mobile off, Robbie had decided enough was enough and that's why he'd decided that he was going round to speak to the man. He was going to demand to know what the hell was going on here and wouldn't leave until he had an answer.
Banging on the door, Robbie counted to five before pounding again but before he could repeat the pattern, the door was pulled open causing both men to glare at each other. "What the hell are you doing here?" Stuart growled angrily and Robbie couldn't help but smile as he saw that Stuart had made sure he hadn't opened the door wide enough to let Robbie in.
"It's a funny story actually," Robbie started crossing his arms over his chest, "I have this best friend but recently he's been a complete prick and I don't know why so I thought I'd come here and ruffle his feathers to find out why." He was happy to see that Stuart had the audacity to look embarrassed at his behaviour but at the same time, the door remained half closed and there was no invitation for Robbie to come in. "So do you have any more questions you want to ask me out here or do you want to continue this inside?" Robbie watched as the internal battle took over Stuart on whether he should allow Robbie inside or not before he took a deep break and moved out of the way so that Robbie could come inside. "Why thank you," Robbie said with a smile as he moved inside and took off his coat.
"I wouldn't bother taking off your coat, Robbie. You're not staying long." Stuart pointed out firmly as he shut his door and wincing as he turned too fast, his ribs hurting him. Sighing, Robbie moved over to him and took hold of Stuart so that he could gently lead him towards the couch. Pulling away, Stuart snapped "I'm not a bloody invalid," but each word was accentuated with a wince causing Robbie to roll his eyes before stepping away because the temptation to push the other man was high and he didn't want to cause him any more damage.
Waiting for a few minutes so that his friend could settle down on the couch, Robbie let himself rip into his friend. "What the hell is your problem, Stuart?" He demanded to know, his tone louder than he intended but the frustration towards the other man was winning as he rubbed at his jaw in an attempt to keep his hands busy so that he wouldn't lamp his friend one. "Have you decided to hate everyone that works for the force because one of them beat you?"
"I don't hate you all, Robbie." He whispered looking away from the man, the guilt eating at him as he realised that he had been a bad friend recently and all they'd needed was an explanation. "I just don't know who to trust any more. I believed that my life would be okay with PC Jenkins having my back and yet he was the one determined to end it, Robbie. And his only reason was because I happened to like men rather than women!"
"Well now he's the one being liked by men while all your friends sit about and wait for you to call them! Do you have any idea how much neglecting Jackie is hurting her? Jesus Staurt, she's your best friend and despite everything, she always has been!" He pointed out causing Stuart to look away, his eyes closing as he nodded his head in admittance. He did feel guilty about his neglect towards them all, even Burke. None of them had ever judged him on his sexuality because they accepted him as a person. Every single one of them had been feeling his pain after it happened and had wanted justice as much as him and Robbie, sweet Robbie, had been in his room every day after the accident even after Stuart had shouted at him god knows how many times but now he was in his own home and he wanted to be alone.
"I can't do this any more, Robbie." He whispered softly running his hand through his hair but felt release at finally speaking even if he hadn't said anything. It was then that Robbie noticed that the slash marks on Stuart's wrist and his stomach tightened as he moved forward.
Sitting down next to him, he took a deep breath before looking over at him. "What can't you do any more?" Robbie asked as he took old of Stuart's hands, turning them round so that he could see the cuts. A huge part of him wanted to demand what the hell Stuart was thinking doing something so stupid but looking into the man's eyes, he could see the vulnerability there and he didn't want to scare him any more than that was necessary.
"I can't pretend that I'm okay," he whispered before looking over at Robbie and laughing. "Everyone keeps asking me if I'm okay when they come to visit and the only people who come to visit is my day nurse, the detectives on the case and then the station shrink that they've decided I need to see and I have to keep telling them that I'm okay." Looking away from Robbie, he noticed that his hands were grasping onto his knees as if he needed to feel that he had support some where. "I just knew that I couldn't look into yours, Jackie's or Burke's face and lie like that. I'm not fine."
"Why? Stuart, tell me what's wrong?"
"You'll think I'm a coward," Stuart said as a lone tear slipped down his cheek, feeling ashamed at that one tear. Robbie had always been the strong one and Stuart admired him for that so breaking down in front of him was enough to drive him insane as it was.
"Stuart," Robbie said reaching out and cupping the detective's face, the boundaries of their friendship long since blurred as he shook his head, "I could never think you were a coward. I think you're the bravest person I know," he admitted with a wide smile, the pad of his thumb rubbing the tear away and smiled at him. "Please. Tell me what's wrong."
Closing his eyes, Stuart sniffled as he let Robbie's words wash over him before sighing. "I can't even walk out my own front door without feeling terrified that someone's waiting for me to deliver that final blow, the hatred overwhelming all because I like men and it's..." the barrier had now broke and tears were falling down his face, curling around Robbie's fingers and he didn't even complain when Robbie moved Stuart closer to him and pulled him into a tight but gentle hug, his lips pressing a kiss against the man's forehead. "I don't want to be afraid forever, Robbie. I want to get over that."
Stuart's eyes were still closed but Robbie sensed this was his chance. "So why are you cutting yourself, Stuart?" Opening his eyes, Stuart turned his wrists over against his knees and Robbie still felt the slight unease in the pit of his stomach at how nasty the red cuts were. It was apparent that Stuart meant business when he did them but Robbie noticed the odd hesitation mark here and there which he felt extremely grateful for. Despite everything, he knew that Stuart wasn't going to ever find the confidence to completely end his life. Reaching out, Robbie ran his fingertips over the wounds and felt tears prick his eyes. "Stuart..."
"I don't want to be afraid any more," he whispered seriously and he laughed. "Do you want to know what I think about at night, Robbie?" When Robbie didn't answer, Stuart turned to look at him and he grabbed hold of his shoulders. "Do you want to know?" He said slightly louder and Robbie decided that it would be best to answer. It would be the best therapy for Stuart after all.
"Stuart, what do you think about at night?" He whispered turning to look at his best friend.
"Everything would be so much easier for me if I would just end it all," closing his eyes, Robbie felt the shock course through his body as he let Stuart's words sink in. "I just lie there and think about dying and about how much I want it..."
"Stop." Robbie growled angrily causing Stuart to look at him. "Just stop." His hand took hold of his friend's face, their foreheads pressed against each other as they let the silence over take them, the heaviness of Stuart's admission sinking in but neither one knew what to say so silence was golden at this moment.
to be continued...