Most people didn’t know how much Chad hated being at home.
The most people category happened to include Mike which was likely why he seemed to get confused when Chad asked to come over the day after he’d crashed at the boy’s place. He wouldn’t admit it but staying the night at Mike’s, it was like a sharp thrill. It was different from Jared’s because he couldn’t see his house from the window, and he’d never stayed at anyone else’s place. So really, the only thing that could have been better would have been staying at Christian’s.
Between finals, play rehearsals, and the bad weather, Chad was hardly getting any time to spend with his mostly secret teacher boyfriend. It sucked. Hanging out at Mike’s though? It was a good alternative.
Even though Mike and Misha were together again, Mike didn’t hesitate to invite Chad in. Misha said he had to go home anyway because his kid was sick – yeah, Chad still couldn’t get over the kid thing. It was weird in a good way he supposed. Misha was probably a cute dad. Mike would be too, come to think of it.
So he and Mike wasted away the evening pretending to study then finally giving up and playing video games. It turned out that Mike was pretty cool. Sure he was weird and quirky but he always had been and Chad didn’t really mind it. He never did see Mike’s parents so it was almost like they were a lot older with a lot more responsibility.
Excluding the fact that Chad was in a pretty good mood, the Friday before dreaded final week went about the same as usual. The Js were walking around with matching goofy grins. Chad probably would have bet Mike that they'd had sex but he was pretty caught up with Misha. It sucked a little because Chad had to acknowledge he likely wouldn’t be invited over again, since the boys had yet to officially make up and that was probably next on the agenda.
With the four all caught up in each other, it was life as usual mostly and Chad tried not to be too hurt that his parents didn't seem to know or care that he'd been MIA for a few days. Basic normality.
Then he found himself slightly cornered by the freakishly tall Tom Welling and things got weird. Again.
"Hi. Even though you don't really know me, can I ask you a question?" Tom blurted out the words like it had taken all his strength to come over there.
Which made sense, Chad was more than a little intimidating to the casual observer. "I know you Tom; we've gone to school together for years."
"Oh." Tom flushed and nodded. Chad gestured for him to get on with it and Tom sighed. "Matt Cohen has a crush on me."
Chad stared at Tom in disbelief for a moment before groaning and slumping back against the lockers. "Did someone send out a memo that it was okay for all the gays to come flock to me? Is there a sign on my forehead or something?"
"No." Tom shook his head roughly and clutched his notebook so tight his fingers changed colors. "But, you're, I figured you're honest and you know a bit about um, forbidden relationships."
There was something about the way Tom said that, it made Chad's skin prickle with alert wariness. "Excuse me?"
"I'm not gonna say anything I swear. I just wanted your advice." Tom looked a little scared now and Chad actually felt a twinge of guilt for making him feel that way. Clearly hanging out with people was real bad for his douchery skills. Usually he had those pretty well mastered.
So he caved on helping Tom though for the life of him he couldn't figure out why everyone seemed to think he was the go to gay expert. "Why is it forbidden for you?"
"My family are real devoted Mormon’s. It's- my parents would lose it if they knew we made out." Tom flushed again and Chad stared, a little surprised by this very logical reason. For some reason he’d been expecting something ridiculous, like Matt not wanting to be out or something. “This is the kind of thing that could get me kicked out of my family.”
“Wow.” Chad finally turned his gaze away and ran a hand through his hair. “So, what? Do you want some advice about how to have a relationship without your family knowing?”
Tom stared at him for a moment before slowly nodding. “Yeah.”
Rolling his eyes, Chad pushed off from the locker and headed past Tom. “It’s pretty easy when you’re parents don’t give a damn. I can’t help you dude, sorry. You’re asking the wrong gay advice expert.”
“What do you mean your parents don’t give a damn?” Tom spun and followed him, his long legs helping him to catch up within a few steps.
Chad groaned, rolling his head slowly then spun on his heels, half stepping back when Tom nearly walked into him. “Clearly you’ve got some absurd ideas about who I am. I can’t help you Tom, I’m sorry.” A twinge of annoyance coursed through him at Tom’s kicked puppy look and Chad sighed, shaking his head. “Do you like Matt?”
“What? Well, I… yeah. I do.” Tom smiled shyly down at his shoes, kicking his toes against the tile.
“Then you fight for it. That’s the advice you get. If you want it you go for it, if you want it bad enough you’ll get it. Might suck sometimes, things might take sacrifices or whatever but if it’s worth it than it doesn’t matter.” Chad shrugged and turned, heading down the hall again. He had a pretty good hunch he was still being followed so he turned back and put a hand on Tom’s chest, effectively stopping him. “You stay here now. I’m going to go that way. You don’t follow.”
Tom’s lips twitched in a smile and he slowly nodded. “Thanks.”
“Uh huh.” Chad nodded back, dropping his hand and spinning back around. He had about ten minutes until lunch ended and he couldn’t resist making a bee line for the English classroom.
Everything kept happening to pull Kane and him apart, not intentionally, but there were just risks they couldn’t take. Except today when Chad was feeling once more like the odd one out and really just wanting to be reassured that he had someone too. Usually, Chad could just go find some girl, there were quite a few that had interest in him but that option had pretty much vanished when Kane became a bigger part of the picture.
Shoving the door open, Chad stepped into the room and pushed it hard closed behind him before wheeling around. He was immensely relieved that Kane was alone there behind his desk.
“I need you.” Chad whispered, feeling the rush of that desire hum through him with the words.
“You shouldn’t say things like that here.” Kane pointed out but he’d stood now and crossed the room, tugging a set of keys from his pocket and unlocking the supply closet there. It was hardly ever open during the day and Chad had never seen inside it before.
Now though he followed Kane into the dark, small closet. It was a tight fight but when Kane turned to him, his arms wrapped around his body and that didn’t matter so much. “I’m tired of missing you.” Chad whispered, feeling almost like he had to in the dark closet.
“I know.” Kane – Christian. Chad supposed here in the seclusion of the closet he could refer to him as that – murmured and dipped forward, slanting his lips over Chad’s.
Their kiss rapidly escalated from slow and tender to heated and fierce. Christian had Chad up against the door, holding him there as their lips rocked and slid together. Christian tasted like honey and salt and Chad moaned, sliding fingers up through his hair to bring him in closer. Every place Christian’s hands touched, on his sides, along his hips, sliding back to cup his ass, the touches left a wake of fire he couldn’t and didn’t want to escape from.
Christian’s lips slid down along Chad’s jaw, mapping out the expanse of his neck as Chad’s head fell back against the door.
“Why can’t it always be this?” Chad exhaled the words, lifting a leg to wrap around Christian’s thigh, bringing him closer so their hips could meet.
“Cause you’re just a kid.” Christian whispered and a beat past before both seemed to realize what he’d said. Christian’s shoulders stiffened and Chad’s leg dropped back down to the ground. “I didn’t mean it like that.”
“But you meant it.” Chad’s arms fell to the side when Christian stepped back an inch or so, blinking through the tiny bit of light peeking in from the mostly covered window on the back wall. “I’m just a kid.”
“You’re seventeen Chad, so yeah. Just a kid. I’m sorry but it’s true.” Christian frowned, his hand resting tentatively on Chad’s arm. “Doesn’t mean you won’t grow up.”
“Do you think I act like a kid?” Chad had thought he might hiss the words or something but mostly they sounded sad, resigned.
“No. I think you should, but you don’t. I think you can’t, even if you wanted too. I hate that.” Christian sighed and stepped closer, leaning his forehead against Chad’s. “I want to make life better for you.”
“You already have.” Chad admitted and pressed even closer, wrapping his arms around Christian and laying his head on the man’s shoulder. “I can’t lose you okay?”
“Who said I’m going anywhere?” Christian chuckled softly but his arms tightened just slightly around Chad.
“Just saying.” This whole conversation was making Chad’s heart hurt. It was odd like that; he’d gone his whole life knowing how to balance the turmoil of home with the attitude of school. So many years and no one had ever known. Then everything had happened with Christian and suddenly he was almost confessing to Mike about the life he had to live just because he felt insane not being able to tell anyone.
And it wasn’t like he could tell Christian the absolute truth. Sure the man had put the pieces together, figured it out, but if Chad confessed it all than Christian wouldn’t allow it to continue. He would take the risk of being thrown in jail if it meant Chad being protected and Chad knew that. So, he – as always – kept it to himself.
“Does it scare you knowing I need you so much?” Chad asked against Christian’s neck, closing his eyes and pressing in a little closer.
Christian’s hands slipped under the back of Chad’s shirt and simply rested there, pressing along the skin. “No. It scares me how much I need you.”
“Don’t know why you would.” Chad could spend forever like this, trapped in a tiny little closet pressed up against Christian’s body and simply enjoying.
“I’ll show you, someday.” Christian promised and the bell rang, cutting off the end of his words. He sighed softly and nudged Chad back, reaching out for the closet handle and pushing the door open. “Maybe you can come by this weekend? If you have time.”
“Yeah. I will.” Chad nodded and smiled a little brighter at Christian.
Somehow it would make it easier to get through the day if he knew he would be going to Christian’s over the weekend. They shared a final smile and Christian squeezed his hand before they separated and it went back to the usual dynamics. Christian was Kane again and Chad was just some kid with a crush that was maybe a little lethal.
When you lived in the type of home Chad did you learned things. Like how to judge the mood of a room when you'd just entered and how to brace yourself for what was to come next.
Neither of these things came fast enough to him when he finally went home Friday afternoon. Maybe he should have seen it coming but his mind was on the weekend and finals and fucking Christian Kane. Like, literally fucking, maybe, hopefully.
"Chad." His dad came up behind him in the kitchen and slurred Chad's name, a tell tale sign.
Chad's shoulders stiffened but he didn't turn around. Don't bait him. "Yeah?"
"I saw those two fag friends of yours holding hands. You bring one of ‘em in this house boy?"
Even across the room Chad could smell the stench of alcohol. He was pretty sure he would never be able to drink without thinking of his father at all his most unpleasant moments. And now, his dad was talking about Mike and Chad wouldn’t let that go so easily. He couldn’t. “Yeah I brought him here.” He set down the drink he’d grabbed from the fridge and turned to his dad, arching an eyebrow. “He stayed the night.”
“Don’t you test me boy.” The man sneered and swayed a few steps forward, lifting his beer to drain the contents.
Chad couldn’t help it; his eyes were rolling before he could remember his role to play in this twisted dance. “We slept in the same bed and I held him close but don’t worry dad, that’s not my boyfriend. No, my boyfriend has much longer hair and is strong enough to lift me up against the door.”
Chad … was an idiot. A big, stupid, idiot that had apparently had too much at some point and snapped without even realizing it. Maybe it was the freedom and sheer safety he’d felt at Mike’s place the last two nights. Maybe it had allowed him forget how bad it could really be.
His father took it upon himself to remind Chad of that very thing. The blow came before Chad could even brace himself. Then he was seeing stars and stumbled across the kitchen. A fist in the face. It was never in the face, never where other people could see. Chad could already taste blood on his lip.
If this was like all the other times Chad would keep his gaze turned away, he’d fall into the submissive role he knew how to play and his father would bore with him in a matter of minutes. This was already not like any of the other times and something in Chad exploded. He couldn’t take this anymore; he couldn’t be this person anymore.
So he spat blood on the tile floor and wiped along his lip with the back of his hand, tilting his head up to face his father and sneer. “What’s the matter Dad? You think I’m not man enough because I like cock? Should I be more of a man like you, get a wife and kick the shit out of my kids? Is that the Murray way?”
Chad should have shut up, he knew it. His dad’s face was growing more and more angry red the more Chad spoke but he couldn’t get the words to stop and he really didn’t care. It had to be this way. At some point in time, something had to break, and if it was going to be Chad – because it was always Chad – it was going to be on his terms.
“You’re a no good piece of shit.” His dad sneered and lurched forward.
Not that Chad was in any way impressed by his father, but he was always mildly impressed how fast the man could move when he was drunk. A shoulder dug hard into his middle, into a rib that was still healing from the last bad beating, and the room blurred until the wall connected hard with his back side. Chad wasn’t particularly strong. He wasn’t weak but he’d never learned to fight the way he should have. He’d only learned out to block.
That didn’t matter much here.
He checked out, his mind literally removing him from the situation so he didn’t have to focus on the reign of blows. Good things, he had to think of good things. Christian’s smile, his laugh, the way he sometimes met Chad’s eyes during class and made him feel like the most important thing in the world. Or Jared and Jensen, caring so much when Lord knows he didn’t deserve, not after the way he treated them. Mike, sweet Mike, completely oblivious and weird as fuck but still-
Then a foot dug hard against his middle and the pain ripped right through Chad’s subconscious. And it was like a black hole, opening in the middle of their world and sucking everything into the event horizon. Chad lurched up to his feet and shoved, fighting past the pain to get the man as far away from him as possible.
“Jesus Christ Frank!” The shrill of his mother’s voice came from the kitchen doorway.
It shocked Chad, he didn’t know how long she’d been there or how much she’d seen but he never would have expected her to step in. She never did. Chad must have looked horrible, judging by the way he felt, and the horror on his mother’s face.
“You cheatin’ slut you just stay out of it!” His dad yelled, jabbing his finger toward him.
Tears were blurring Chad’s vision, or maybe it was blood he couldn’t say. It felt a little like he had detached from his body and was watching everything as a ghost above the scene. Maybe he had died; maybe that was why his mother was screaming like that.
Then, everything changed all over again.
Chad thought he was seeing things because it all happened in slow motion. His dad was stumbling back and yelling and waving his beer bottle around. Then his shoulder bumped into the wall, the doorway to the basement, he twisted and turned and… fell.
“Oh god.” His mom sucked in a sharp breath, her hand clamping over her mouth.
They could hear him land, they could hear him fall for that matter, but Chad wasn’t very sure his mind was working. He couldn’t think straight, or at all, and really it all boiled down to pain.
Chad dropped down onto the kitchen floor in a pool of his own blood and stared down at his hands. His mind wasn’t working, nothing was right, and he didn’t know how he hadn’t just blacked out.
“Chad, Chad, you need to listen to me.” His mother was down in front of him now, tugging his arm up and heaving him up to his feet. She looked worn out, exhausted really. But it wasn’t just that. There was nothing in her eyes, no compassion or fear and agony.
Chad was fairly certain his father had just died falling down the stairs and his mother didn’t even look upset. Come to think of it, he wasn’t sure he was that upset either. “Mom?” He asked quietly, his voice a hoarse whisper.
“I need to call the ambulance; they’re going to take you to the hospital alright?” She continued to speak in a calm and normal voice, brushing off his shirt like a little bit of dirt really made a difference if he was covered in blood.
“Everyone will see.” Chad muttered, staring at his mom with wide eyes. Was he awake? The pain reeling through him suggested he had to be.
“Don’t worry Chad, there’s nothing to worry about anymore, come on over here to the couch.” She guided him out of the kitchen to the living room, helping him down onto the cushion.
He leaned against the back of the couch and tried not to think about the way his entire body was aching. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been though. He was pretty sure no bones were broken, so that was something. But his heart- his mind- this didn’t make sense.
“Mom?” He asked again, looking to the woman who’s always been a part of his life but never really a part of his heart.
“Just sit there Chad.” She pointed toward him then turned and walked back into the kitchen.
After a few moments Chad heard her talking on the phone, quiet and calm as usual, and he turned slightly to look. She was cleaning up the blood on the floor, wiping away the mess with a face of disgust. So here Chad was, the man who made his life a living hell likely dead at the bottom of the basement stairs and his mother cleaning up the blood off her nice clean floors. It was enough to take the last little bits of Chad’s energy to stay alive and send him off into oblivion.
When he woke up he was in the hospital. The room was empty, the walls were white, the smell was crisp and clean. Chad stared around the room for a long while, taking some time to catch up with reality.
First, the self check. No parts of him were bound in a splint or anything so no, no broken bones. There was a dull pain in his gut but if it were serious they would have taken him to surgery or something. He still had his hair, he wasn’t sure why he was worried about that but it seemed weirdly important.
Maybe Chad had lost his mind.
Next, the reality check. His dad was dead, he was pretty sure. His mom was nowhere to be seen; maybe she’d gone to get some food. He wondered if Jared and Jensen had seen the ambulance pull up, what they had thought. They already knew what his dad did to him, did they fear the worse? Did they think he was dead?
Sometime later the door opened and Chad looked up, blinking at the nurse who entered and the cop that followed her.
“Hello Chad,” she smiled sadly at him and stepped forward, checking his IV bag. “How are you feeling?”
“Feeling?” Chad repeated, looking up at the nurse and frowning slightly. “My stomach hurts.”
She nodded slowly and turned to flick a switch on the IV cord. “I just gave you a little more pain medicine, it should help. This here is Officer Morgan, he wants to ask you a few questions now, if you feel up to it?”
“Okay.” Chad whispered, not feeling like he had much of a choice. The cop was pretty intimidating looking, burly and strong, but his expression seemed sad too. “Where’s my mom?”
“She’s down at the station.” Officer Morgan explained and stepped to the free side of the bed while the nurse continued to work. “We needed to ask her some questions as well and she said she’d prefer to do it- well. How are you Chad?”
Chad stared at him in disbelief for a moment, looking toward the nurse and back at the cop. “Is my dad dead?” It was amazing how flat his voice sounded, like he’d lost all ability to care about anything at all.
The cop and the nurse shared a look before the man nodded. “Yes Chad, he fell. Do you remember that?”
“Yeah.” Chad nodded and he did. When he closed his eyes he could see it all over again. It made him a little sick but only because it was a person dying. In no way at all could he feel the emotional attachment to that man. “He just kind of fell. He bumped into the wall.”
“He was intoxicated.” Officer Morgan said softly and reached into his coat pocket, pulling out a notebook. “Far past the legal limit. Chad, your mom says he did this to you. Is it true?”
Chad could see the nurse’s movements beside him still for a moment, like she was waiting for what they all must know already. “Yeah. He did.” Chad didn’t try to nod; his head was feeling a little too fuzzy for that. “My mom doesn’t though. She doesn’t really care but she doesn’t hit me.”
“Oh Chad I’m sure she ca-“ The nurse began but Officer Morgan cut her off with a sharp shake of his head.
“How long has this been going on?” The cop asked, pressing his pen to the paper.
Chad could think back over the entire span of his life and mark specific moments by the pain he was feeling at the moment. His first broken rib, same time as Jared’s sixth birthday party, a broken arm summer after seventh grade, bruises and marks and years and years of agony. “My whole life.” He finally answered, flinching when the nurse inhaled sharply.
Why did it hurt that she knew? That she cared?
Officer Morgan stared at Chad for a long minute, clearing his throat and looking away. “And you’ve never told anyone?”
Chad thought about Christian. There would be no way he could know about this. No one would have told him. The town was small but not that small. At least, he prayed the entire town didn’t know by now. He hated that even these people knew, that Christian had ideas, that Jared and Jensen were pretty sure of it. “No, I never have.”
Once more Officer Morgan gave him that look that made Chad feel weirdly guilty before nodding. "Alright well, Nurse Anne here is going to look after you tonight. And then, once you're feeling a little better, I'm going to need you to come down to the station to give us a full statement okay?"
"When is my mom coming?" Chad asked quietly, staring down at his hands.
"As soon as she can." The Officer nodded and slipped his book back into his pocket, hesitating for a moment before grasping Chad’s shoulder and squeezing softly then turning to leave.
Chad waited until the door closed before looking at the nurse again. “Am I okay? Nothing feels broken.”
Anne’s eyes were sad and soft when she turned to look at him. “Nothing’s broken hun. Just some bruises, you’re going to be okay. We’ll probably even let you go tomorrow as long as the pain has gone down some.”
“Okay.” Chad nodded, threading his fingers together on his lap. “I don’t think my mom is coming.” Chad whispered down to them, blinking a few times before looking back up. “I think that’s what that cop wouldn’t tell me.”
“Oh, Chad.” Anne frowned and touched his arm. Her eyes looked so sad it made Chad feel horrible. “Is there anyone- can I call someone?”
The options came up pretty quickly. Jared first, his best friend would definitely come. But he’d also bring his parents and probably Jensen and Chad couldn’t handle a crowd right now. Too many questions, not enough answers he was willing to give. Mike? No, his friendship with Mike was far too fresh and new, Chad didn’t want to scare him off. He didn’t know Misha well enough.
Then the obvious one, the one he’d thought of right away but didn’t quite acknowledge. “Yeah. Could I, would it be alright if I called them instead? Can he come here?”
Anne considered it for a moment before nodding and bringing the phone over. “You’re in the ICU, room fourteen. What’s his name? I’ll put him down on the list.”
“Christian.” Chad said softly and looked over at the phone, sighing softly. This probably wasn’t going to be an easy conversation. What the fuck was his life? This couldn’t be normal.
It took a few minutes for Chad to work up the courage to pick up the phone. The pain medicine was starting to blur his mind a little and Chad was a little scared how it was making him feel something. Like he was so numb the medicine had the opposite effect.
The line was ringing against his ear before Chad realized he dialed and his breath hitched when Christian answered. “Christian?”
It was silent for a beat then, “Chad? Are you alright?”
“I’m in the hospital.” Chad whispered into the line and closed his eyes, listening to Christian’s sharp inhale. More guilt. He shouldn’t have called.
“I’m on my way. What room?” Christian’s voice was in a rush, the clatter of keys in the background.
Chad felt a little dizzy so he leaned back in his pillow, inhaling deeply. “ICU. Nurse Anne said, just, say Christian. She put you on the list. Um, room fourteen.”
“Okay, I’ll be there as soon as I can. Are you- Chad, is anyone there with you? Ickis, no. Down. Back. Sorry, Chad?” The front door opened with a creak across the line then clicked shut audibly.
“No. I’m alone.” Even saying that made Chad’s stomach churn. He heard Christian whisper a quiet Jesus and the truck beeped as he unlocked it. “Christian?”
“I’ll be there as soon as I can Chad.” Christian said softly. It was quiet reassurance.
“My dad’s dead.” This time it wasn’t a question and Chad felt the words thick on his tongue. He thought he might throw up but he hadn’t eaten since… since when? A while.
“Oh god, Chad.” Christian’s words hitched and the engine roared. “Ten minutes. Just, I’ll be there in ten minutes. I love you okay? Just hold on.”
Chad frowned slightly tilting his head to the side, thinking about the words Christian had just said, whether he’d meant them or not. “I love you too Christian,” Chad found himself saying though he didn’t know. Until he said it at least. He hadn’t realized that the way he felt toward Christian was love. In fact, Chad was pretty sure no one had ever even loved him before.
“We’ll talk when I get there.” Christian murmured. It was definitely a promise but Chad wasn’t sure all of what they would talk about. Maybe the I love you thing was premature. Maybe Christian didn’t really mean it.
“See you soon.” Chad whispered and gently set the phone back on its cradle.
When he stretched over to set the entire phone back on the desk he felt a little dizzy. A shuddered coursed through him and he lay back on the pillow, closing his eyes for just a moment. Christian was coming, that was all that mattered right now.
A hand ran soothing and softly through his hair and Chad turned into it. He was dreaming he was pretty sure. And in his dream there was Christian, holding him close, kissing him softly.
“Chad, wake up.”
It was kind of a little thrilling to open his eyes and see Christian there, his dream come to life or something. Then he caught sight of the white wall behind Christian’s head and reality came back like a punch in the gut. “Oh,” he whispered, staring up at the man.
Everything caught up to him, seventeen years of living hell at the hand of a man who’d just died. And Chad should care, that was his father he shouldn’t be relieved. Just like he shouldn’t be surprised that his mom still wasn’t here, that she didn’t care enough about him to come when he needed a parent the most. An entire life of being so very alone and Chad finally broke down.
He didn’t even realize he was sobbing until he could feel the damp heat of Christian’s shirt. There were arms around his body, a hand stroking his hair, and a gentle soothing murmur that Chad couldn’t decipher. He clung to Christian as he rode out the waves of grief, pain, heartache. Turmoil, that was what this was, something in Chad’s soul was snapping and breaking and he couldn’t take anymore.
Chad cried until he could hardly breath, his eyes were burning and he was nearly collapsed against Christian’s body. The man had moved so he was laying on the bed now and Chad was slightly caught up in the cords attached to his arms but he didn’t care. Just like it didn’t seem that Christian cared about his soaked shirt. Chad apologized anyway.
“S-sorry.” Chad managed to choke out, pulling back a little and sniffling.
“Shh. None of that.” Christian shook his head and reached over, grabbing a tissue from the box and gently wiping down Chad’s cheeks. “Jesus.”
Chad wondered if that came because of the way he looked. His eyes had to be red and puffy, but that wasn’t the worst of it. He knew for sure his lip had been split; there was a dull pain in his face so he must have bruises there too. “Do I look like shit?”
“You look gorgeous.” Christian smiled sadly at him, running the back of his fingers down Chad’s cheeks. “What happened, Chad?”
Sighing softly, Chad leaned back into Christian’s chest and breathed in the man’s smell. Even with the slight sting of salt from tears, Chad could still smell his musky cologne and fresh clean body soap. “I spent the last two nights at Mike’s place, and the night before he stayed at mine.” Chad took a moment to think about how that must have sounded and quickly corrected himself. “Nothing happened. It was just the Misha thing.”
“I figured. It’s okay Chad, I trust you.” Christian murmured and gently kissed his temple, leaving his lips there. “And?”
“They didn’t even notice you know? Two days I was gone, they didn’t even look for me. Then, I came home. Dad- he. He was saying things about Mike, calling him a fag and stuff. I just lost it, told him about you.” Chad felt Christian stiffened and shook his head. “Not like that. Just said my boyfriend had long hair, liked to pin me to walls and stuff.”
“Did you really say that?” Christian asked in disbelief, pulling back a little until Chad looked up at him.
“I just couldn’t take anymore.” Chad half shrugged and sighed. “Then, he slugged me. My lip. Everything just went crazy then. Some point my mom came in, she was screaming and so was he. He just, bumped into the doorway, he was so drunk. He just fell, right down the stairs. It was like a movie, it happened so fast.”
Christian’s fingers ran down Chad’s cheeks and he didn’t even realize he was crying again until he saw the white shine on the man’s hand. “I’m so sorry Chad. This never should have happened to you.”
“I hate him.” Chad gasped softly, pushing up a little to look Christian dead on. “I hate him so much. My entire life I’ve had to, I’ve put up with all this shit. You know I barely remember my childhood. The first birthday I can recall, when I turned eight, you know what I got? This scar.” Chad hiked up his hospital gown, showing Christian the scar on his lower back. “Was the edge of a beer bottle he broke. I hate that I’ve never gotten a birthday gift, that I don’t even want to tell my friend’s when it is because I don’t want to expect anything. And I hate that this time of the year sucks for me.”
“Chad,” Christian whispered, stroking his back slowly, clearly trying to get Chad to calm down a little.
But it was too late, Chad couldn’t calm down. He’d never been able to say all of these things and he needed to now. “I hate my mom too. Where the fuck is she? Where has she ever been? When I was six and he shoved me so hard off the couch I broke the coffee table? Or when he pulled my arm hard enough to yank it from the socket. Where the hell was she when he spit beer at me and called me names and left me crying-“
The words cut off sharply in Chad’s throat and he sucked in a breath, trying to keep himself from hyperventilating. It felt like he was going to, it felt like the entire world was tilting upside down and he was going to just combust because this was all too much. The heart monitor was racing and the door of the room opened, Anne rushing in with a slightly flushed face.
“What is? Chad?” Anne hurried to his side, politely not asking about Christian who was still holding him, hand still sliding down his back, trying to calm Chad once more.
“He just got a little upset.” Christian explained softly, rocking Chad gently back and forth.
He didn’t think he had any more tears left in him but apparently he did. Christian’s shirt was clutched tight in his fist and he thought it might be the only thing keeping him tethered to this world.
“I’m going to give him some more pain medicine; he should really try and get some sleep.” Anne said softly.
Chad didn’t have the energy to tell her not to. He didn’t want to sleep. Because he knew if he did that Christian would go and Chad was so very tired of being alone. He didn’t want Anne to see the tears on his cheeks so he kept his face buried in Christian’s chest, clinging to him almost desperately. His instincts had him terrified. Maybe this would be too much, maybe Christian would realize he couldn’t handle someone as broken as Chad was.
“Sorry.” Chad jerked back, sniffing loudly and wiping his nose on the edge of the blanket. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have called you. You don’t need this.”
“Hey.” Christian gently took his hand and squeezed softly. “Chad. Look at me.” He waited until Chad was looking up at him through watery eyes before continuing. “I meant what I said on the phone. I love you. I can’t explain how it happened; I know it’s not exactly right, but… I’ve never cared for anyone like I do you. And that means I’m going to take every part of you, the parts that make you laugh and smile and love. And the broken parts, your past, all of it. Okay? You have to believe me. I’m not going to be like them.”
Them. His parents who did nothing but damage him. Chad could just barely imagine that people could be better than that. Could someone really love him? Was he really worth that? “It might take me awhile to believe that.” Chad admitted in a soft whisper, slowly sinking back down onto Christian’s chest.
“I know. That’s okay. I’ll keep convincing you.” Christian sighed softly and gathered him close, holding Chad against his body. “You’re going to be okay now.”
“I don’t want to go home.” Chad admitted in a pinched tight gasp, closing his eyes. It hurt just thinking about stepping in that house again. “I don’t want to be in foster care or something but I can’t go back there Christian. She doesn’t love me, she doesn’t want me. I don’t want to be there anymore.”
Christian sighed again and pressed his lips to Chad’s hair. “I know. I’ll think of something okay? I will figure something out.”
“Okay.” Chad nodded and kept his eyes closed, relaxing against Christian’s chest. “Will you stay?”
“As long as they let me,” Christian murmured and squeezed him once, keeping him held there against his chest.
It was the first time in his entire life Chad had fallen asleep in someone’s arms and he couldn’t imagine anything better to end the worst day of his life.
They woke Chad up every couple of hours. Apparently something to do which checking his vitals, making sure he was okay. The first time Christian was asleep with him in the bed, still holding him, and Chad stared sleepily at Anne as she took his blood pressure. She smiled softly back at him, still didn’t ask any questions, and left them alone. After that Chad couldn’t remember waking, just that he knew he did long enough to make sure Christian was still there and acknowledge Anne.
In the morning when he finally woke up for good Christian wasn’t there in the bed. Chad’s heart sank and he sighed shakily, slowly rolling over. But he’d barely had time to process how miserable that made him feel – the idea of Christian not being there – before the door opened once more and he came in with two coffees.
“You’re awake.” Christian smiled softly and pushed the door closed with his foot. “I brought coffee but I’m not sure you’re allowed to have it. So drink sneaky.”
Chad managed a weak and brief smile as he sat up, reaching out for the coffee. He felt better than he did the day before, a little emotionally drained but that was to be expected he supposed. The point was his body felt better and Chad was ready to be out of the hospital. It made him feel nervous and uncertain there. “Time is it?” He mumbled, sipping on the coffee tentatively.
“Just after eight.” Christian pulled a chair up, dropping down onto it and running his hand up through his hair. He looked pretty good considering he’d just slept in his clothes crammed on a hospital bed with Chad.
That thought made the smile twitch a little bit more on Chad’s lips. “My mom never came last night.” He said quietly, sighing softly as he looked over at Christian. “Didn’t even call to check in. It’s like I don’t even matter.”
“You matter. Of course you matter.” Christian frowned and shook his head, shifting a little closer. “Chad, I know you don’t want to hear this but you know, she just lost her husband yesterday. Maybe she’s having a hard time with this too.”
“She didn’t even cry.” Chad pointed out, sipping from his coffee again before looking away. “Yesterday, he fell and she just moved me to the couch. Then she called 911 and cleaned up my blood on the floor. I think… something might be wrong with her.”
Christian took his hand and nodded slowly; obviously he’d thought the same thing but didn’t want to upset Chad further by saying it. Chad at least had to give him credit for that. He knew Christian was being wonderful to him and he was really grateful for it. “Well maybe she can get some help now. Like you can.”
Nodding slowly, Chad squeezed Christian’s hand then dropped it, he needed to get out of this hospital, it was doing things to his mind. He was a little afraid that the hospital alone might kill him. “How do I get out of here?”
“Well I think-“
“Good morning Chad. Good to see you awake.” A man wearing a white lab coat came in, smiling at Chad then nodding toward Christian. “I’m Dr. Granger. We didn’t get to meet last night but I was the first to look you over when you came in.”
“Hi.” Chad nodded toward him then glanced over at Christian. “This is Christian.” He didn’t offer any more of an explanation and the doctor didn’t ask – thankfully. Chad didn’t feel like trying to come up with a believable lie.
“Is it alright with you if Christian hears about your medical things?” Dr. Granger asked, looking at Chad like he was an adult.
Chad wanted to tell him he didn’t feel like an adult and he wasn’t one, but he kept his mouth closed and just nodded. It would be a relief to have Christian there for all the complicated talk, he knew that.
It was all very complicated. Chad ended up tuning a lot of it out but that was alright, Christian was there and listening. That was kind of a relief, to let Christian be responsible for him for a little while. He worried for a bit that it may seem a little creepy, like Christian was taking on a fatherly role, and then the man took his hand even as the doctor was still talking and he realized it was a lover thing. Christian loved him and he was doing what he could.
In the end, the doctor gave him the go ahead to go home that day. He explained that a lot of Chad’s injuries were superficial, that he would be bruised and sore but they were giving him pain medicine. The doctor asked him a couple questions about some of the previous injuries he had noted during the X-rays, like the rib he had that was still finishing up healing, but Chad wasn’t really able to talk about it. He told Christian so much the night before, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to say more about it again.
It felt a little like the doctor was just pointing out these things to pick apart Chad’s pain. That was likely ridiculous but it wasn’t like they would do anything more for him than give him the medicine they were offering before anyway. So he was glad when the doctor headed for the door, turning back to smile once more.
“So I’ll have the Nurse bring in your discharge papers and when your mom gets here she can sign them.”
“My mom?” Chad pursed his lips. He could feel his heart sinking in his chest and he looked over at Christian with wide eyes.
“Chad is seventeen, can’t he sign for himself?” Christian asked the doctor, face smoothing out into the authoritative teacher expression Chad knew so well.
Dr. Granger considered him for a long moment before shaking his head. “I’m sorry, because of Chad’s circumstances coming in, and the fact that he is still a minor, we need his mom or parental guardian to check him out.”
The doctor leaves before they can argue it further and Chad wants to throw something, his frustration building intense and sharp in him. “What if she won’t come here? Will they just make me stay here?”
“She’ll come; you just need to call her.” Christian urged, lifting the phone and setting it beside Chad on the bed.
Chad didn’t really believe it but he nodded and lifted the phone, dialing his home number. As it turned out, his mom did answer. “Mom? Hi. Um, can you come sign me out of the hospital?”
“Are you still in there? I thought they said you were able to go out last night.”
The words felt a little cold running down Chad’s spine and he swallowed thickly, turning his gaze down. “No. Still here. They won’t let me leave until you sign me out.”
“Alright, I’ll come by on my way out. You know I have a lot to do today, the funeral arrangements and I need to go by the insurance company to check into your father’s policy. Also by his work. So I’ll pop in and sign you out. Do you need a ride somewhere?”
“Chad?” Christian whispered, shifting a little closer.
It must have been the look on his face that had Christian so worried. He wondered if it were possible for his features to look numb and cold like he felt inside. “No. I have a ride. Want me to send a nurse out so you don’t even have to get out of your car?” He snapped the words, fueled on by the same bubbling anger that had exploded in him the day before.
“Don’t be ridiculous Chad they won’t do that. I’ll be there in about twenty minutes.”
The line disconnected after that and Chad dropped it like it had just bitten him. It might as well have. “This is fucking insane.” He half gasped and looked toward Christian. “She didn’t even know I was here. She made it sound like the biggest inconvenience imaginable to come by here and sign me out. Apparently she needs to go by the insurance company to look at my dad’s policy because clearly that is more important.”
“Jesus fucking Christ.” Christian spat harsh enough to make Chad jump. He sighed shakily and ran a hand through his hair. “I’m sorry. I just- I don’t get it. I don’t understand how she can treat you like that. Look, you don’t want to go back there? You’re not. You’ll come live with me.”
Sure some part of Chad’s mind had harbored some little fantasy that he would go and live with Christian but he didn’t imagine the man actually offering it. There he was though, offering his place like it wouldn’t matter. “You would let me?” Chad whispered, blinking over at Christian.
“Of course I would let you.” Christian sighed, scooting closer. “You need out of that environment. You need to be somewhere that’s full of love and happiness.”
This was very true; Chad couldn’t help smiling slightly as he stared at his boyfriend. “You really are kind of amazing you know.”
“You deserve it.” Christian insisted, squeezing Chad’s arm before pursing his lips. “I don’t suppose she mentioned anything about bringing you clean clothes?”
Chad sighed and shook his head. “I didn’t get a chance to ask. Would I stay in the guest room?”
“Do you want to stay in the guest room?” Christian asked, pushing up out of his chair and heading across the room. His face scrunched up when he lifted the clothes there and he shook his head.
Watching him, Chad tightened his fingers around the coffee he was holding then shook his head in time with Christian’s. “No. I want to stay in your room.”
“Then, you will.” Christian smiled over at him and gathered the clothes up, tossing them into the trash. “I shouldn’t be here when your mom shows up. So I’m going to get you some clothing and I’ll be back to pick you up soon. Just wait in here okay?”
Chad felt a little twitch of panic at the idea of Christian leaving him, even for a short period of time, but he bit his lip to keep it at bay. He stared at Christian and forced himself to nod.
“Don’t worry Chad, I’ll be back.” Christian crossed to him and cupped his jaw, leaning in to gently kiss him. “I will be back for you. I promise.”
“I believe you,” Chad whispered, smiling briefly and leaning gently into Christian’s touch.
“When your mom comes,” Christian frowned and stepped back, dragging hands up through his hair then dropping them at his sides. “You, it’s okay if you want to tell her you’re not going to be home a lot. Whatever you feel comfortable saying okay? We can cross technicalities later.”
“Okay.” Chad nodded and held his breath. He didn’t exhale or inhale until Christian had turned and headed out of the hospital room, stopping long enough to give him a small smile before the door shut.
Alone in the hospital room again, Chad tried to fully grasp how much his life had changed in less than twenty four hours. He wasn’t sure if living with Christian would work, he didn’t know if the man would be able to handle him, but he did know he couldn’t go back to that house anymore. It had never really been his home, it was just a building, a place where he’d been broken down and destroyed.
Now was the time Chad needed to look forward to the future and try not to let the past cloud everything he did. Hopefully he was strong enough for that.