A Day Quicker

Notes: There are two elements of this story that are not mine. One is from the script and the other from the behind the scenes footage

It's traitorous, how quickly they make it back. They never realized how slowly James moved or how heavy the cart was until they don't have them anymore. Davy almost mentions what good time they're making but he never gets a chance. When he opens his mouth, Miles trips and doesn't get up again.

This is something Davy understands. He gets down, presses his weight against Miles' chest and holds his face in both of his hands. Miles' tears drip from the corners of his eyes into his hair. They make Davy's hands wet. Bill hunches down on his knees, one hand in Miles' hair, his forehead pressed against his shoulder.

"You chose a fine spot for it," Davy says, "But then you always were a melodramatic bastard."

Miles lets out a sob that is half laugh. They stay there until his breathing evens out. He shifts under them.

"Are you two done being pathetic yet? Because Davy is crushing my ribcage."

Bill pulls them up by the elbow and they walk like that for a while, until Bill starts doing the can-can and Miles pretends to throw him into the sea.

They make it to the ferry earlier than planned. They don't take breaks, striding with long, sure steps over the land. Davy feels guilty for liking it, for liking the burn in his muscles and the healthy ache in his chest for more air.

On the ferry, Davy sits down with his back against the little corner of the prow, his legs stretched in front of him. Bill is on his side, just out of reach, his head pillowed in a bundle of jacket. The rumble of the engine hums under him and the ferry takes to the open water with a soft lurch. Davy lets his head fall back. He watches the seabirds float and dive and wonders what it is James saw that always had him looking up.

There is a slight tug at his foot. Bill has tangled his fingers in the hem of Davy's trousers and is holding on, his knuckles white. Davy pretends not to notice.

They stop to see the old man on the other side, but the shack is empty and the bright blue sign is switched off. The ferry captain is apparently his nephew and doesn't know where he is. Davy wonders if he even exists unless there's someone buying tickets.

They're left standing in a clump by the shack like they don't know what to do next. Davy expected the return journey to be the same; they would see all the same landscapes and meet all the same people. The only change Davy can handle right now is the one that already happened.

"That fucker owes us thirteen pounds," Miles says eventually.

After that, Bill walks closer and every so often Davy feels the slight pull that means Bill has a pinch of Davy's jacket between his fingers. Miles watches them out of the corner of his eye, kicking viciously at nearby vegetation.

When they finally get back to the car, Davy comes to a dead stop. Bill, who hasn't been paying attention, walks into him. Instead of laughing and shoving Davy forward, Bill stays, leaning in slightly and laying his head on Davy's back. Miles starts patting Bill down, searching for the keys.

"I'd tell you two to get a room," Miles says, "But I'm the one with my hand in your pockets."

Miles takes over the driver's seat. Bill makes for the front, but Davy redirects him to the back and climbs in after. He scrunches his legs up so he can lie down and puts his head on Bill's leg, then grabs his hand and holds it to his chest.

He closes his eyes and breathes. In his mind, he sees James laughing, then James gasping, a burst of fireworks and James in Bill's arms. His fingers find their way to Bill's wrist, searching for his pulse. Bill splays his fingers across Davy's chest.

When he opens his eyes, Bill is watching him.

"I'm thinking of naming the baby Larch," he says.

Miles nearly swerves off the road with a yelped "Fuck no!" Bill laughs so hard he can't breathe.

When they are almost there, Miles pulls over to the side of the road and puts his forehead against the steering wheel.

"We made a mistake," he says to his knees.

Davy closes his eyes again. There is a mean rippling in his belly that says It's your mistake, you were supposed to rescue him. He shifts and his foot hits the backpack where it is wedged between the seats. There is a rattle as leftover pills shift inside their plastic containers. The ripple in his belly turns to guilt.

Bill's hand is a comforting weight on his chest, relaxed and loose. He thinks about James' hands when they clutched at him in pain.

"We didn't," Davy says.

Miles takes a long, slow breath and pulls back onto the road. As they get nearer he drives just under the speed limit, stops at every intersection and slows into every turn. He has never been so safe a driver in his life.

The police have already been around when they arrive, but it's one thing to hear it from a stranger and another to see the truth for yourself. There is still a sliver of hope in Chloe, but his mother knows, must have known before they even left.

There is a moment of silence as they get out of the car and James' family waits a beat too long out of habit. Then Chloe flees, with Miles on her heels. Bill goes to James' mother. His back is straight, but as soon as she takes him by the hand, he slumps. James' father wraps his arms around them both and leads them into the house.

Davy finds himself hunched over the hood of the car, his breath misting against the red paint.

He takes the car and drives back to his own flat, opens up the small dark space and sits on his bed. He stares.

There is no one to take care of.