Darren was trying to brush his teeth with the wrong hand when she came in.
"Don't tell me you're already puking." Issey stood in the doorway of the bathroom.
"No, just trying to not be a pig before bed. You don't have to stay." He was swaying a little.
"Too bad, you're stuck with me."
"Where's Chord gonna sleep?" only it came out sheep, he was still slurring.
"With Chris. C'mon, I'm tired."
"So go to bed." He was surly.
She sighed and walked away. He shut off the light as he entered the room and stopped when he saw her in his bed. It took him a moment of blinking before he was certain what was happening. Issey watched as he pulled the coverlet down on Chord's bed.
"What are you doing?"
"Going to bed."
He turned his back to her, "Where else?"
"In your bed? I thought that was obvious." She lay on her back staring up at the ceiling; this was not what she'd envisioned. She hadn't planned on his mood turning on her; she thought she'd be a calming influence.
"It's OBVIOUS that I should get into bed with you? Jesus Christ it's like you're trying to piss me off, or kill me. Is that it? Are you just trying to see how far you can push me before I say fuck it and throw you out of my life? You might break me down, you might drive me crazy but you won't push me away. I'll sleep over here, I'll lie here and listen to your God Damn breathing all night knowing I have to watch you wake up, watch the sunlight kiss your hair and see you stretch and smile over at me with that sleepy grin of yours and then watch you go back to your boyfriend, I'll do all of that but don't expect me to climb into bed with you and then watch you go back to him in the morning."
He was shaking; she could see the tension in his muscles as if he was dying to throw another punch. Before he could react she was behind him, stroking his back like a mother would a child waking from a nightmare. "Go ahead. Get angry at me, I get it. Get mad at the cancer, get mad at Chris, curse at me, say what you need to say."
He rolled onto his back, looking up at her, his face fixed with rage. "STOP! Stop treating me like some lunatic who needs to be talked down until the meds kick in. I've told you I love you, I've told you I'll take whatever you can throw but for fuck's sake stop pretending everything is going to be okay once I've blown off steam. Nothing is changing. Just go back to bed, or go back to Chris, or whatever. Just. Go."
Darren got out of the bed, pulling back on the jeans he'd thrown across a chair. "He couldn't resist touching you on his way out of here. He acted like he came over here to help but he just wanted to get that little dig in there, don't think I didn't notice, his hands on you like he owns you, like he has to PROTECT you from me. Fucking joke I spend all of my time trying to keep you together while he's running around working on his fucking projects and screwing whatever new boy comes along and HE'S going to protect you from ME? I'll kill him, I can snap his fucking neck if I feel like it."
He wasn't really talking to Issey now, just ranting as he pulled on clothes. He started for the door and she shot out of bed. "What are you doing? You can't go out now."
"I'm going to give him a piece of my mind. You chose him, not me, I didn't choose to have him around and I'm not putting up with any more of his passive aggressive bullshit!"
"NO! Don't do this, come back here. Let me talk to you, just for a few minutes and then if you still want to go over there then I can't stop you. Just please Darren, please, just for a minute?"
She was pleading, actually afraid and it worked. He looked as if he was coming out of a trance, seeing how he'd scared her, but he wasn't ready to completely let the anger go. "Worried I'll bruise his perfect little face?"
"Yes. A little. I'm more worried you'll do something that can't be fixed and fuck up your career. Come, sit with me a minute. Please."
He did, reluctantly and she took his hand and placed it on her chest where her heart beat wildly. "This is not okay. I can handle the yelling and the wall punching and the throwing things but you can't threaten anyone with physical violence okay? Not anyone. I don't care that it's Chris, I don't care who it is, you're terrifying me. If you care at all about me or the baby you won't do this."
He looked ashamed, her heart wasn't slowing and it scared him. "Take some deep breaths, I promise I won't leave this room. Just please calm down."
"Chris and I need to have a long talk. I sent him here to figure out what he wanted from Adam, I need him to be sure, but I needed the time away from him too. Our relationship is…I don't know what it is right now to be honest, but I didn't want to talk to you about it before we worked it out ourselves, that didn't seem fair to anyone. I just told him about our kiss and he didn't seem concerned, he was more concerned that you be okay. I don't think he and I are going to stay together and I knew that when I sent him home, but I also know that the next few months of my life I'm going to face an awful lot of change. My life has already changed so much in the past few months, things I never saw coming and I feel like I've been in a hurricane. I need to just walk through the aftermath alone, assess the damage and pick up the pieces before I settle back into my life. If I have a life to settle into."
"Don't say things like that. We've been too casual about talking about your life expectancy. We can't be so defeatist about that."
"It's just facing the facts. I'm not saying I won't fight, I finally have something worth fighting for, but I don't want to pretend it isn't a reality."
"I understand you needed time to yourself, but am I a part of that life you want to settle into?"
"I can't imagine you not being a part of it, but I feel like I'm always asking you to wait for me. I'm not asking that now. I'm asking you to be a friend, to stay close but if it's too difficult then I'll accept that. Do you want me to leave?"
"You can have your own bed back."
"I miss sleeping with you."
"Then sleep with me."
He stripped again and they spooned under the sheets. "I'm sorry I lost it."
"I'm not. It was good for you. I'm sorry you hurt your hand, and Ryan is likely to kill you for the broken mirror and the walls, but we'll deal with him."
"What about your bus?" he pushed his nose into her hair, his breath tickling her neck.
"What did you do to my bus?"
"No, if you and Chris break up, is he going to stay on the bus with you?"
"I don't know, we'll have to talk it out. I really did make that office for him and he needs the quiet space to get his writing done. We could still share a bed for the short time the tour will be here; I don't think it will be an issue. I still love him; I just don't know that we work as a couple."
"I'd rather hear that you love me more."
"You know I can't say that."
"I love you different."
"As long as you love me."
"Stupid boy you love."
"Stupid boy I love."
He kissed her neck. "If he doesn't want to stay on the bus, for whatever reason, I think you should have someone come on with you. I don't mind if it isn't me, but someone, just to help you when you're sick."
"It can't be you. Not yet. Do you understand that?"
"No, but I'll live with it. Who then?"
"Zach maybe. That makes the most sense."
"You're going to share a bed with Zach?"
"No, I don't think Fred will mind letting Zach crash in his room and then we'd be able to get all kinds of work done."
"Don't let him fall in love with you."
Issey missed that bit, she was sleeping already. When she opened her eyes again it was early morning. She grabbed her phone to check the time and had a text from Chris.
Chris: gone to the gym, let me know if everything is ok
She responded, moving as little as possible so as not to wake Darren who snored loudly beside her.
Issey: everything ok, long night tho. Breakfast ALONE later?
Chris: : )
She realized he probably took that as an invitation to sex but figured she'd deal with that when the time came. It really would be a shame to lose that part of their relationship, she was revved up most of the time now and that was something that always worked for them. She closed her eyes and pictured his body as he worked out, imagined his mouth on her skin but then shook herself, this had to stop. Maybe she wouldn't be able to share a bed with him if they went back to being just friends.
She set the phone back down and turned to her right side to face Darren. He was out cold, on his back, his left knee bent up under the covers. They had trimmed his hair before last nights show but not as close as they did the first time so stray curls remained, soft and shining in the sunlight. He had shaved for the concert of course but the stubble was there, making a mask from his ears to his jaw, but his softly freckled cheeks with his long lashes casting shadows over them were where her eyes settled. She wanted to kiss them, to brush her thumb across them to wipe away the ghosts of the tears she'd seen there last night and tell him it WAS going to change, it was all going to be alright. She'd love him until the day she died, no matter when that was, because he was right when he'd written that they'd always been together and would always belong to each other.
She let her hand fall instead over her own belly, knowing it was a dangerous path to allow her mind to wander she pictured the baby as theirs, his large, round eyes, his curls, his easy, open laugh. She could see him walking her into her first day of school, holding her hand a little too long when she tried to run off and play with her peers, then smiling proudly as she turned to wave goodbye and blow him a kiss. The tears started then, as she remembered that it could well be him taking their daughter to school, but the odds were strong that she'd be the missing piece of that particular picture.
He stirred and stretched before opening his eyes and started a little to find her next to him. "I thought I dreamed you there last night."
"Are you crying?"
"Pretty much always now."
"Room service doesn't have apple juice?"
"It's usually a food dilemma. He smiled good naturedly and pulled her close to him."
"Not this time. Doesn't matter, just thinking about the future."
"Yes, actually. Can I ask you something?"
"If the baby is Chris's."
"It's too early for this."
"Please. Listen. IF the baby is Chris's and I don't…I'm not around, will you promise to stay in her life?"
"She's yours. How could I not?" He kissed her jawline where a stubborn tear clung, refusing to drop.