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Chris slammed himself into his car, hitting his elbow hard off of the steering wheel and sending pain zinging all the way up to his wrist. “FUCK!” He hit the steering wheel again then turned the car on with a violent twist of his hand, pulling his arm into his chest, feeling the strange sensation still running all through his fingers he leaned his forehead against his other arm which was gripping the wheel tightly as though it had never hurt him.


He sat there for what felt like hours, eyes tightly closed as he tried to piece together his thoughts. It was infuriating. They were going too fast for him to even try to hold onto them. All he knew was that he had hurt Paul. He’d hurt him again, and he knew that that was far worse than anything else he could do. It was as though he was more than one person. There was the Chris who had backed Paul up into a corner and stabbed out his cigarette against the pale, already-scarred skin of his arm because he had wanted to see what would happen – what it would look like. The Chris who climbed into bed with Laura and then left her to shoot up before Paul woke up… even though he knew that Paul knew that he was still doing the Junk. There was the Chris who ignored everything Paul said and did, even when he could hear the frustrated -or maybe it was the upset- tears in his voice before he got fed up and left Chris to his thoughts… which was exactly the opposite of what Chris had wanted him to do.


There was the Chris that would not and could not ask for help. He could never find the words…


And there was the Chris that was here and now sitting in his car and feeling his stomach turn over sharply when he looked up to see that it was still daylight. That barely a minute had passed. He was sure, he was positive that he’d been sitting there for at least an hour, maybe two.


When had time gotten away from him? When had he lost that grasp on what he did and what he meant to do?


Frantically he found his fags and lit up, dragging as though he hadn’t had one in days. His eyes fell on the windows of the house, trying to catch some movement. No one ever came to bother him when he was in his car. It was his car. His space. No one and nothing could touch him here but himself, and that was the way he needed it. He couldn’t hurt anyone. Here in his car he couldn’t inflict that look of sadness and utter hurt in Paul’s blue eyes.


His eyes fell on the clock again as he stabbed the cigarette out and then he reached over and turned the key again. The car shut off and silence surrounded him. Slowly the cold set in. He let both hands drop to the bottom of the steering wheel. One fell into his lap and he leaned back, staring blankly ahead. He didn’t let himself move. It forced him to think about that – his own body, instead of anything else and gradually his thoughts slowed down to a normal speed. He could make out words and theories again.


Twilight was falling when he finally moved. It was freezing. It was so cold that he was cold. Something he wasn’t used to noticing. He dug his cigarettes out again and lit one. It took a while, his fingers stiff, sore when he bent them. He wanted to drive somewhere. But where would he go? He didn’t know the way to anywhere and he knew that he wouldn’t be able to just leave Paul here. He’d have to bring Paul with him, and to do that he would have to apologise. And to do that he would have to see the point in it. It was all just going to happen again.


He shuddered. He never liked to think about this. Before he’d been able to convince himself that it was the last time. That cruel word, that tiny shove, that little white lie… but then it just got worse and worse. He couldn’t stop it anymore. He couldn’t convince himself that he was safe for Paul, for anyone, to be around.


He could sleep here. It wouldn’t be the first time… but it hadn’t been as cold then, and he’d had his coat. Now all he was wearing was his jeans and a t-shirt, and his hiking boots which didn’t actually do much to keep him warm. God, but he was fucking tired.


He smoked another fag, but he kept drifting off, and finally he just put it out before he set fire to his own car or something. He’d go in in a bit… just after Paul and everyone went to bed. He could sleep in the recording room…


He leaned forward, head resting on his arms on the steering wheel which was freezing and closed his eyes. He was almost asleep – that state where he hardly cared where he was or how he would feel in the morning as long as he could just sleep now, when he heard the gravel crunch under someone’s shoes and he didn’t need have to look up to see who it was.


The passenger door opened and closed and he heard them huff out a breath.


 “You should go back in,” Chris said.


“I was going to tell you that,” Paul answered.


“I know… I was just saying it before you said it,” he answered, sitting up and wincing, arms wrapped around himself. He glanced over just for a second and caught Paul’s eyes. They were on guard and there was that hurt that was so often there and Chris looked away as quickly as he could out his own window.


They sat there in silence for the longest time. Paul was shivering and Chris wished to fuck that he would just go back in the house.


“I can’t, I can’t go back in there right now, so. Please go,”


“Chris, you’ll freeze to death.”


“Go fucking inside and get the fuck out of my car!” His voice was far too loud in their tiny little confined space and Paul flinched. “GET THE FUCK OUT!”


He saw Paul’s hand go for the handle and push out and that was when Chris started laughing. It scared him, it was like it wasn’t even him. Nothing was funny. He had no idea why he was laughing, and Paul stopped and watched him, eyes frightened and oddly blocked off. Slowly he let the door close, but didn’t actually pull it all the way shut.


It stopped almost as suddenly as it had come on and Chris stared out the front window. Paul seemed too frightened, too confused to say anything.


“God,” Chris moaned after a moment and leant forward again, forehead against the wheel, hands dragging as hard as they could through his hair. He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t handle it.


“Go inside, Paul,” he said.


“Please come in…” Paul’s voice was so quiet that Chris almost didn’t hear him. “Just so I know you’re inside…”


Chris didn’t move. Didn’t speak. He wondered vaguely if cars exploded into flames if they hit a trees hard enough. He wondered how long it would take—how much that fire would hurt before he couldn’t feel it anymore.


He scoffed, thinking that at least it would be warmer, and that seemed to be the final straw. He was thrown back into the moment when the car door closed. And he was cold and sitting in his car and Paul was getting out, had gotten out and was walking back up to the house.


He watched Paul turn around as he climbed out too, closing his own door and followed him back inside.


He’d meant to sleep in the recording room. He’d meant to go back out to his car and just… go. Somewhere. He didn’t know where, but somehow he ended up in Paul’s bed, Paul pressed against his back, his arm around him. Chris reached up and entwined their fingers... Neither of them were asleep. He could tell by how quiet Paul’s breathing was - like he was scared to disturb him.


“I love you,” Chris said softly, and Paul held him closer.


“Yeah,” he whispered against the top of Chris’s spine. “I love you.”