Fandom: Deltora Quest
Pairing: Lief x Dain
Summary: I'm of the firm opinion that there's no such thing as a happy ending for these two, even if it is an AU, but nonetheless this is all for now. There will be an epilogue at a later date, but you're not going to like it.
Warnings: mental illness
the sky is always falling down on me
the sky is always falling, falling
the sky is always falling down on me
so officer forgive me please
The letter arrives the next morning to tell me I've been suspended until next term. Jarred and Jasmine say nothing, which is worse than them saying a thousand awful things. I make a habit of packing my clothes and belongings into old grocery bags when I have time to myself, arranging them in order of importance in case I end up having to run away. I think of writing a note in advance but can't think of anyone I want to explain myself to.
Lief comes over on Saturday to see Jasmine. I draw my curtains and shut my door and wonder if maybe he'll think I'm out. He knows I'm not, of course; I have nowhere to be. Eventually he comes and lets himself in quietly, just looks at me sitting there on the floor with my bags.
We can't be friends any more, I'm waiting for him to say; you ruined everything.
"Are you going somewhere?" he asks anxiously. He doesn't sit down, doesn't try to get comfortable, which I'm glad for.
"I don't know." Jarred hasn't said he's kicking me out or putting me in a home yet, but maybe he won't warn me. Maybe I should leave before anything happens at all.
There's a long, awkward silence. I try to fill it with the rustling of plastic as I fish something out of the bedside cabinet and push it noisily into a bag. I just catch him murmuring, "Sorry."
"It's not your fault." I should apologise too, but I don't. I can't.
"I thought maybe—" He kneels down beside me, plucking at a few loose fibres on the carpet. "I thought we could… talk. Maybe walk somewhere."
I feel my shoulders tense up. "I don't think that's a good idea."
He sighs. They all do, in the end. "Don't you like me any more?"
I'm not quite sure what to tell him. I've more than proven I'm a hazard to myself and others. Part of me, the sober part, just wants to keep people at arms length so it can't hurt them. The rest doesn't care enough about anything to even acknowledge it as a problem.
"I'm sick, Lief," I say finally, and it's not meant to sound self-piteous but it does anyway. "I don't even like myself."
"I like you," he says quickly, reaching to grip me by the shoulder and turn me towards him. "And—and that doesn't matter. You can get better. I'll help you. Me—me and Jasmine and your dad…"
"Jarred's going to throw me out." I twist away from him, gazing back over my bags. Should I have hidden them? Will Lief tell on me? (Did he tell on me about what happened in the bathroom? He wouldn't, would he?)
"He'd never do that," Lief insists firmly. "Jarred loves you. All of uslove you, Dain, we just—we just want to help. So let us. Let me…"
I make Lief stay beside me, holding my hand (that was his idea, actually) while I take my medication. It's not an instant cureall—there isn't one—but it's a step in the right direction at the very least.
There are a few days of backlash. The lithium makes me feel sick and it's as if the illness inside me is fighting me every step of the way (don't bother, it seems to say, one day won't matter, you don't need it). Jarred picks up on it pretty quickly; when Lief isn't there (as he is almost every day after school), he watches me until I take it.
One time, he takes his Prazosin in front of me.
(I didn't even know. I didn't even realise it was possible to be sick as an adult, a parent, a pillar of strength.)
Jasmine has been strangely quiet, staying in her room with the chinchilla or out in the garden by the aviary. The idea of speaking to her doesn't seem to have occurred to me for some reason; perhaps it's that I'm certain now that she doesn't want to speak to me either.
"What's with you and Dain?" I hear her asking Lief one night while they're sitting at the kitchen table over homework. I also hear his pathetically flustered reaction.
"Nothing, nothing! I'm just—I mean, we're friends, right? We're all friends, I'm just—nothing."
I wait at the door with my empty glass. I wait to hear what it is they really say about me when they think I'm not listening.
"Well, it's weird."
"What's weird?" Lief's voice has gone into that really dorky high register it tends to creep up to when he's trying to lie and failing.
"Well, he's sort of my brother." Sort of, not quite; I genuinely like that she makes that distinction. "It's like… I don't know."
"Wait, wait, uh—what exactly do you think is going on?"
"Lief, you're the most obvious person I know. The way you keep touching his hand and—I don't know—just looking at him, it's…"
I feel my throat tense, not because I didn't notice those things either but because it doesn't feel fair for her to notice them.
"…I mean, we're best friends and I didn't even know you were gay!"
"I'm not! What are you saying—"
"I'm saying you like my brother and you didn't even tell me." There's hurt in her voice laced with something more; I clench my teeth and force myself quiet in the long silence that follows.
"Yeah," Lief says finally, softly. "I'm sorry."
"No, it's fine, it's just…" She sighs. "You could have just told me."
"I didn't know," he mumbles. "You can't really tell when you're going to fall for someone, can you?"
"I could have," she retorts bitterly. I kick the door open and go to put my glass in the sink before she can say any more.
The week school goes out, Lief's parents leave for the weekend and he asks me over to housesit. Actually, he asks me and Jasmine, but she says no.
Lief is utterly adamant that we watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy in one night. I am utterly adamant that we make out instead, but that doesn't quite happen until about halfway through The Two Towers when I manage to convince him that I am marginally more interesting than the battle of Helm's Deep. After that he miraculously forgets about the movie and lies back on the couch with me nestled up close against his front, mouth against the crook of his neck. It's not like the first time. It feels for once like it's just us; not him and me and whatever it is inside my head, but us.
"I'm glad you're coming back next term," he says later in the silence (I managed to sneakily switch off the TV in the middle of one of Gollum's duologues).
"Ugh, don't remind me." I play it off as a normal-teenager-who-hates-school sort of thing, but Lief frowns.
"What's wrong? It'll be fine, Dain; don't you want to come back?"
"Not really." I bury my face in his shirt without further comment. He reaches down to stroke my hair as he seems to have grown fond of.
"Well, it's just one more year. Then we can do whatever we want."
"Hey, Dain, what are you going to do when you leave school?"
I realise I've never thought about it before; that the idea of a tomorrow hasn't really existed for me in a long time. To suddenly be told that I have a future seems surreal. "I don't know yet."
"I think I'm going to go to teacher's college," he says.
"You, teaching?" I smile.
"Yeah," he says, hand trailing down from my hair to rub my back lazily. "I like kids. It'd be really cool."
My stomach clenches. "Aren't you going to have your own kids?"
"Well, I can't. I'll be with you."
"How do you know?" I blurt it out before I can help it and it feels like a plea, not an accusation. "How do you know I'll still be around?"
He hugs me closer in his arms and hums a little laugh. "I have a good feeling."
Suddenly, so do I.