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grab my hand, i'm drowning

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Sean’s arms were starting to shake with each punch, his wrists hurting in a way he knew Ghumpa had warned him about when he started training him, but he couldn’t stop.

The rage within his veins, pulsing through him like venom, swallowing him whole until it's all he is anymore.

The open, bleeding heart he was trying so hard to protect, yet it kept getting ripped open.

The way the pain inside hurt a hell of a lot more than the blows he delivered to the punching bag.

He’s been in pain for a long time.

The day his dad was killed was the day the pain started and it’s never stopped.

Nothing has helped, nothing has healed him, and so Sean is left with nothing but rage that eats at him and devours everything in sight.

The music blaring through his headphones is in English and he doesn’t quite understand the lyrics but he feels the rage and it fuels him to hit harder and harder and harder.

There’s just been so much building up in him lately, things piling on top of things and he feels like he’s about to lose it.

Maybe he already has.

His chest is heaving, his breath coming out laboured through parted lips, eyes focused on the punching bag and despite the loud music, something else echos in his head.

“Don’t hold me back next time”

He can’t be a burden, he can’t handle being a burden.

He’d rather die than be a burden.

His role in the gang is one of strength. It’s what he offers to them, it’s what he is to them, and if that gets stripped away, if Black is right, he’s useless.

His breathing quickens even more, sharp pain following a particularly hard blow, shooting up his arm.

All he is is strength, all he is is rage. His sheer determination to take down Tawi, to destroy him like he destroyed everything Sean had.

He needs the gang to take him down, so he needs to be strong, not weak like he’s being now, not someone who hinders them, not someone who is in their way, not someone they need to leave to die-

He can’t die, he can’t, not until Tawi gets his justice.

If he dies now, he will be forgotten, he will be like everyone Tawi has stepped on, and he will have to face those he failed to avenge.

If he dies now, would Black be relieved he’s gone?

With a final, heavy swing, he feels pain in his knuckles and with a sharp hiss it’s as if though all the rage and fight in him is sucked out and he stops, the heavy punching bag swinging back at him, lightly tapping him as he stands there and trembles.

Black is another thing that’s weighing on his mind.

The constant push and pull, the abrupt changes of his personality, how he cares for him one second and tells him he’d leave him to die the next.

How his presence is calming to Sean.

How he woke up from a nightmare last night and felt empty and uneasy because there was no one else beside him, nothing to ground him and snap him back to reality.

How he couldn't fall back asleep and has felt shaken and on edge all day.

Black is constantly on his mind these days and it’s slowly killing him because he knows how Black truly feels about him.

Sean is just collateral, disposable, something to be used to aid Black and then tossed to the side because Sean doesn’t matter.

But now, it feels like maybe he does matter.

That’s why it hurts so much more.

This glimmer of hope, this thought that maybe, just maybe, Sean means something to him, it’s - it’s so draining, it’s opening the bleeding wound in his chest even further and there is no closing it, it just bleeds and bleeds and bleeds and Sean feels like he’s screaming for help but everyone just passes him by, no one cares, he’s drowning but no one is coming to save him, he’s nothing, he’s-

There’s a hand on his shoulder and it snaps Sean into action, swiftly turning around, brushing the hand off of his shoulder as he shakily makes his way out of the garage and towards the barrels outside for some water, eyes focused on nothing but the exit, ignoring everything else around him because he feels like the walls are closing in and he can’t breathe.

Once he makes his way to the barrels, Sean pulls off the headphones, the music sounding faintly around his neck as they rest there, and he dips his hands into the cool water, gathering some in his palms before splashing it on his face.

It takes a while for him to gather himself, splashing his face a few times before placing either hands on the rim of the barrel, his arms shaking as he puts his weight on them, eyes focused on the water.

He’s losing it.

He’s weak.

He can’t let Ghumpa see him like this, or the rest of them, he can’t.

He’s supposed to be the strong one.

He feels his eyes water, the stinging sensation as they well up, and doesn’t hold back. He lets them fall, lets them mix with the water on his face.

Maybe if he lets this out, he can go back to being the strong one.

He just-

He just wants to be wanted.

He wants to matter to someone.

It’s something that hides in the back of his mind, coming out when he can’t sleep and tears into him, making him grasp at his head as he curls up into himself, hoping the thoughts will go away.

When Black pulled them all together, Sean had this thought that maybe, now he wouldn’t be alone again. Ever since his father’s death, he’d felt so alone in this world, so empty and without anyone to care for him.

But this isn’t some quirky little family of misfits coming together to fight a shared enemy and finding out what kills the bad guy is the power of friendship.

This is a group where the pillar of it, the reason why they’re here to begin with, will leave you to die in the blink of an eye.

Black hadn’t even hesitated leaving him behind on their first fucking mission.

So now, why is he acting like he gives a shit?

There’s not a chance in hell he grew a conscience or some bullshit like that.

Black has made his feelings really fucking clear to Sean, so the way he's behaving now is so confusing.

There’s just… there’s something different about Black now and it’s drawing Sean to it like a magnet and he can’t resist it even if he knows he should.

This kindness, this gentleness, the way he carries himself, the way he speaks, it’s all so different and it’s - Sean wants that. He likes that.

He yearns for it, really. He's never felt like this before and he's not sure what this is exactly, but he wants it so bad.

He used to not care for Black but this side of him has Sean hooked and it's - it's killing him because when he switches back to his old self, it feels like another knife twisting in his heart.

It feels like a cruel, cruel game and Sean isn't sure he can handle any more.

A gentle hand is placed on his arm and Sean shakily looks up only to instantly avert his eyes in shame as the occupant of his thoughts is right there in front of him.

It’s - it’s this that plagues Sean’s thoughts.

The old Black would never have given two shits if Sean was going through something, much less checked up on him.

But this Black, he’s so gentle as he drops the hand on his arm in favour of grabbing onto his other arm, guiding him back inside without a word.

No spiteful words, no antagonising him, nothing.

Just compassion as he leads Sean back inside towards the couch.

Sean can see Yok in there working on his bike, sparing them a swift, concerned glance before turning his attention back to the bike, pretending to work on it.

When Sean started boxing, the garage had been empty.

They must both have seen his mental breakdown.

Embarrassing.

Black says nothing as he guides Sean to sit and takes the place next to him, eyes focused on his shaking hands. Grasping them gently, always so gentle, he slowly unwraps his hands.

His knuckles are all red but one on his right hand is bleeding a little, an old cut on there having been reopened.

Silently, without judgement, Black works on cleaning his wound and dressing it, taking care not to hurt him, but -

Sean’s heart is open and bleeding so badly right now that all it’s doing is hurting it more because he wants this, he just wants this, and he knows he won’t get to keep it, he knows Black is going to turn around and tell him he wouldn’t care if he died, Black is going to leave him behind, Black doesn’t care-

“Breathe.”

Sean lifts his eyes to meet the source of the soft voice and is met with concern-

Black is cruel, he is so cruel, playing Sean like a fiddle and he’s falling for it-

“It’s okay. Breathe in slowly.”

Black’s voice is quiet because Yok is right there and shit- he needs to pull it together.

Trying to quiet his mind, Sean closes his eyes and focuses on the soft hands holding his as he tries to calm down his breathing.

He can’t, he can’t break down like this, not now, not when there’s so much at stake, not in front of them.

“I’m sorry.” Sean squeezes out, trying desperately to sound like his normal self.

“It’s okay.” Black replies, giving his hands a reassuring squeeze.

Why he’s still holding onto them Sean doesn’t know but-

He doesn’t want him to let go.

“It’s just, my hand really hurts, I must have punched wrong or something.” Sean rambles, hoping to fool both Black and Yok yet knowing neither will believe him.

“I know.” Black replies and he knows he doesn’t buy it.

Maybe it’s more of a lie to himself.

They stay there for a little while, Black dropping his hands in favour of letting one of them rest on Sean’s knee. It takes some time for Sean to even his breathing and collect himself, but no one remarks on it.

The pain isn’t gone, it never leaves, but the self deprecating voices of doubt have retreated back into whatever dark corner of his brain they hide in.

He really lost it back there, and in front of the two of them - he’s just glad Black is being so not-Black right now.

He’s always been the closest with Yok and he’s sure he’s going to get asked about this in Yok’s subtle way of breaching sensitive topics by pulling him aside and asking around the topic first to test the waters.

It might be why Yok hasn’t really broken through his wall yet, but then again none of them have.

The idea of being so vulnerable around them is terrifying and just this setting alone is starting to feel uneasy to Sean.

He needs to be strong.

It's how he's useful to the group.

Thankfully, he is saved by Ghumpa returning to the garage, breaking the atmosphere and pulling the attention away from Sean.

He calls out to Black that it’s time for training and Black responds that he’ll be right there, and then his eyes are upon Sean again and Sean just wants to curl into himself and bask it in all at the same time.

“Get some rest.”

So gentle, always so gentle. Sean wants to grab his wrist and keep him there as the anchor so he won’t float away but-

It’s Black, and Black has made his feelings really clear before, even if he is muddying the waters now.

Black will never be his anchor. Black will be the one to cut the chain tying him to the anchor and watch him float away, ignoring his cries for help.

Sean needs to rest, he needs to get his shit together, and he needs to forget thinking about Black like this.

He needs things to go back to the way they were.

Black is the first to leave the couch, giving his knee a squeeze before getting up, something Sean wished he hadn’t done because it just pulls him even closer to Black as he’s trying to pull away mentally.

A moment passes before Sean gets up as well, knowing Yok’s eyes are on him but ignoring it because he knows if he engages he will crumble again. He’s too fragile right now, feeling so bare and vulnerable like he hasn’t in a long time.

He hopes it’s just the lack of sleep.

It isn’t, but he can pretend.

Heading to the bedroom, Sean can’t help but allow himself to hope that Black will join him at some point in the evening, as he seems to sleep better with the other man next to him.

The nightmares aren’t as bad with Black around.