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Falling into Darkness

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He’s sleeping.

At least, he thinks he is, he must be. Because the world is dark and completely silent. And what else but sleep could possibly make the world this dark? So he must be sleeping. He must be. It’s the only thing that really makes sense. And now, now he’s floating through that dense darkness thinking, I must be asleep, I must be. Or maybe, maybe it’s not floating he’s doing, maybe he’s flying free as a bird. Or perhaps he’s falling, like a bird with broken wings. He hasn’t quite figured it out yet. But he is sleeping, he’s sure of it, because that’s the only thing that makes sense. And yet, at the same time, it doesn’t make sense, because nothing really does. Because the world is too dark for it to be a dream, isn’t it? So it’s not really a dream because there is no dream. Just that darkness he’s floating through (or flying, or falling). But then, he wonders, does everyone actually dream every time they are asleep?

Perhaps the darkness is the dream.

So he’s asleep.

He must be.

And yet, and yet, sleeping doesn’t make sense.

Something is wrong, he can actually feel it. There is something incredibly wrong with the situation he’s found himself in. He knows there is. He doesn’t know what it is, though, he can’t quite figure it out. He can’t point to one thing and say, with absolute certainty, that that is what is wrong. But it’s there, all he has to do is figure out what it is, and then he’ll know what is going on. (He’s not sure that makes sense but then not much does.) It must be something small, something so incredibly obvious he’s just ignoring it. He has to figure this out and once he does he’s pretty sure he’ll be able to wake up. (Because this is a dream, isn’t it?) But there is a small voice – a voice he’s been trying to ignore – that says that knowing will make everything so much worse. That knowing won’t wake him up because he’s not asleep and this is not a dream. It’s the part of him that just wants to keep floating through the darkness and forget everything else. It would be so much easier. Maybe that’s the part of him that actually knows what happened, that remembers how he got here. The part of him protecting the rest of him from the truth. Or maybe it’s all just part of the dream. He’s not sure.

It’s dark.

Too dark.

And the world is completely silent, there’s not a single sound.

He can’t feel anything.

Something is wrong.

Or maybe nothing is wrong, maybe him thinking that something is wrong is just a part of a completely random nightmare. He’s probably just asleep and in his sleep he’s thinking he is not. This dream could just be a consequence of everything that is happening in his life right now. It wouldn’t surprise him. Nick is trying to steal his little girl after all – again, what is with him? – and Gabi is agreeing with him at every turn. His feeling about all of it – anger and disappointment and absolute fear – have already seeped into his writing. A fact which many of his teachers have commented on. So the fact that they now seem to have taken over his dreams? He’s not that surprised by it.

That makes sense.

Except it doesn’t.

Because the thing is, this might all just be a dream – and therefore nothing to worry about – but he doesn’t actually remember going to sleep. He has no memories of ever going home, of putting Ari to bed and crawling into his own bed with Sonny. He doesn’t remember, but if he’s truly asleep, then all of those things must have happened. The not knowing could be a part of the dream – after all do you always remember going to sleep when you’re asleep? He doesn’t know. It’s not something he’s ever thought about. The last thing he remembers is leaving the club. He’d left, determined to talk to… He was going to… He can’t remember, but he does remember it was important. He went out to do something and now he’s here. All of that might just be a part of the dream, this not remembering, but he just doesn’t know. He does know that sometimes dreams have the capability of seeming so real that you don’t quite realize that you are asleep. But then how could he not realize he’s asleep considering he’s floating in dense darkness? But the situation is so wrong. He can’t quite point to something specific but he knows it is there. He knows it. All he has to do is figure it out.

He’s starting to fear this isn’t a dream.

And that really, really, really scares him. Because if he’s not sleeping, then something else is going on. And he’s pretty sure that something else is nothing good. It doesn’t feel like a good thing. It feels like something bad has happened to him and that all he needs to do is remember what it is. Perhaps if he were just to think a little bit more, just analyse the situation critically, he’ll be able to determine what it is that is bothering him.

He’s floating in darkness…

...he must be asleep…

…in his bed…

That’s it.

That’s what’s bothering him. It’s not that he can’t remembering going to bed – that could just be a part of his dream – it just doesn’t feel like he’s lying on a bed. And he knows you can probably never tell whether or not you’re lying on a bed when you’re asleep. But that’s the thing, he feels he’s lying on something, it’s just not a bed. Whatever it is, it’s hard and cold and wet. It’s absolutely not a bed – unless something really, really weird has happened in his apartment, of course. (It’s not outside the realm of possibilities.)

He can’t hear anything – not his own breathing, not Sonny’s, not a damn thing. Except, he realizes suddenly, he is hearing something. Maybe he’s been hearing it the whole time and his brain has only now registered it. It’s like everything is going in slow motion. But the sounds he now realizes he’s hearing don’t calm him down. Because everything he hears – birds and the sound of rustling leaves and insects – do not belong in his bedroom. Not even a little bit.

And it is much, much too cold.

Now that’s odd. Just a second ago he couldn’t hear or feel anything and now he can. It’s like his brain has suddenly kicked in.

He’s cold and wet and freezing and he’s seemingly outside and…

…there’s no way he’s asleep.

There is no way this is a dream.

This is something else entirely. Something has happened to him, he now knows, something bad. It must be because why else would he lie down on the ground outside? Why would he just do that? He wouldn’t, so something must have happened to him? But what? He just doesn’t know. He just can’t remember. All he really knows is that he’s cold and wet and…

...and in pain.

A lot of pain.

It’s really strange the way his brain is processing this situation. It’s like his brain doesn’t think he’ll be able to handle the whole thing at once. Or perhaps time is going much slower than he thinks it’s going, perhaps not that much time has passed. Perhaps everything is going normally, he just doesn’t think they are. At least the pain is real.

It’s a distant kind of pain at first. It spreads slowly until suddenly it’s everywhere. He can’t even tell you what is hurting, just that he’s in pain. He’s having trouble breathing – and how did he not realize that? It feels like he’s on fire, which is not a particularly pleasant feeling. Something has definitely happened to him, he has absolutely no idea what it is but it has happened. It feels somewhat familiar too. It reminds him of that moment a year ago – and oh God, he can’t believe a year has actually passed – when he’d been shot trying to save Nick. It feels somewhat the same. And then he remembers: he’d been floating through darkness too back then.

Is that perhaps what happened? Did he get shot again?

No, no, that’s not it, it can’t be. Because he remembers what it felt like to be shot, he remembers the pain, he remembers all of it. And while this does remind him of that moment, it doesn’t feel the same. It’s something else.

Perhaps he’s been hit by a car.

Except, if he had been hit by a car he wouldn’t be lying on the grass. (Because he is lying on the grass.) And wouldn’t there be people with him if he had been hit by a car?

That’s not it.

So then what? What happened to him? He needs to remember. Because if he remembers he might be able to figure out how to help himself. So he just needs to remember. Remember and wake up and get help. Because this pain is very, very real.

And then he hears a voice calling his name and suddenly there are hands pressing on his body – he suspects that someone is trying to stop the bleeding. (He can’t see it but he suspects he must be bleeding. It makes sense.) Had that voice always been there and had he only now noticed it? Or did someone just stumble on him lying here, wherever here is? Or perhaps not that much time has passed and the fact that he’s only now hearing the voice isn’t that strange. He knows that voice. He does. All he has to do is remember, but he can’t think anymore. He’s freezing and he’s bleeding and it hurts and he’s weak and he’s tired and he just wants to sleep.

 “Will…I’m sorry…Will…I didn’t mean to.”

Whoever it is keeps apologizing – and he knows who it is, he does, if his brain would just kick in, then he could actually understand. The voice keeps talking, words upon words, but his brain just can’t seem to comprehend them. He’s not sure it even matters. Everything is going to be alright either way. Because surely this person has called an ambulance and help will arrive at any moment. And then he’ll be able to wake up and tell this other person that everything will be alright. Because his brain might not be able to comprehend every word this other person is saying but he can definitely hear the anguish in the voice. The pain is real. So that means that whatever happened, if this other person is responsible, it must have been an accident. Except, well, you can feel horrible about having done something while still having done it deliberately.

But an accident is far better than the alternative.

The male voice – it’s a guy, he’s not sure when he realized it, but he has – just keeps talking. Just repeating his name, over and over again, pressing down on whatever wounds he has.. They’re still there, even if it wasn’t an accident, and surely that means that everything will be alright now. Except he doesn’t hear the ambulance.

 “I’m sorry, Will…”

He knows that voice, he does. It’s on the tip of his tongue – so to speak – but he just can’t remember. He still can’t hear an ambulance, though. Maybe it wasn’t an accident. Maybe whoever did this to him wants him to die here on the cold ground. Does he have any enemies? There are people that don’t like him, he knows that – after all, you can’t get along with everyone. Even if he doesn’t have any personal enemies his mother sure has many. But is there actually someone in his life that wants to kill him? Well, he thinks, there must be, because why else would he be lying here? If this other person wanted to kill him, then why is there still someone by his side trying to stop the bleeding? Maybe it was just something that got out of hand.

If only he could remember.

He’d left the club, he remembers that, determined to talk to someone. So who had he been looking for? What had been so important to him in that moment? If only he could remember, then he’d be able to figure out a solution. (It probably doesn’t work that way, but he has to believe in something.) Unless this has actually nothing to do with him of course. Unless he ran into someone else before he ran into whoever he was looking for. For all he knows the person by his side is not the one who did this to him.  Why can’t he hear an ambulance? And what’s with the guilt he can quite clearly hear in his voice?

“I can’t believe this is happening again…”

He’s still floating through darkness – or maybe he’s falling. He knows he’s not flying because he doesn’t feel free, not anymore. He’s losing consciousness, well more so than he already has. But he can’t. He has to stay awake – well he’s not actually awake either but he’s still here, he can still hear, he can still feel. And as long as he does he can still try to find a way to open his eyes. Because he has to do something. But anything he can think of requires far more energy than he feels he has. At least the pain is fading away, at least he’s no longer seemingly on fire. He suspects that’s probably not a good thing, but right now, at least, he’s no longer hurting.

He’s going into shock. He’s dying.

Oh God, he’s dying.

But he can’t die, he can’t. He can’t leave Sonny just a few weeks into their marriage. And wouldn’t that just be horrible? Wouldn’t it just be so terrible  that he was the one so afraid to marry Sonny because he was afraid he’d lose everything only to die just a few weeks into their marriage? Long, long ago Adrienne had once told him that someday he would break her son’s heart, perhaps not even intentionally, and he might not recover from that. It looks like that moment has finally arrived, though he doesn’t think this is what she had in mind when she said it. Surely it had never occurred to her that he’d break her son’s heart by dying. He can’t die. He can’t. He can’t go. He can’t leave his little girl, he can’t.

He can’t leave Ari.

He can’t leave Sonny.

He can’t leave Gabi to raise Arianna all on her own.

He can’t leave his friends, or his family.

He can’t die.

He has to open his eyes somehow. He has to find a way to communicate to whomever it is that is sitting beside him. He has to find help. He has to remind this other person that an ambulance needs to be called. Because surely if an ambulance had been called it would have gotten here by now. But then it might be that whole time thing again. It might be that not as much time as he thinks has passed. Perhaps it’s only been a second. Or it might be that whoever it is doesn’t want to help him, no matter how guilty they seemingly feel. Or he hasn’t figured out what he wants. Or he’s just forgotten what one needs to do when a crisis arrives.

It doesn’t matter, he has to wake up.

He has to.

But it’s beginning to look like he won’t be able to.

If there ever was a chance.

“I’m sorry this happened…I wish things were different…”

It doesn’t make any sense, but nothing about this situation does. If he could recognize the voice he might be able to understand the situation better. At least understanding might bring him some solace.

Someone has to come.

Someone has to.

Help will arrive at some point.

It will.

The alternative is too frightening.

Please, please, I don’t want to die.

“Will…”

He knows that voice, he knows that voice, he knows it. If only his brain would cooperate. He was leaving the club to talk to someone. It had to do something with Ari. Everything is about her. He was looking for…

It’s Nick.

Nick is the one on his knees beside him, talking to him about God only knows what. He’s the one pressing down on his wounds, begging for forgiveness. It’s Nick. Did Nick do this to him? It makes sense, considering all that has happened over the last few weeks. Or did someone else do this and did Nick just stumble on him? That doesn’t make sense. Recognizing the voice has not helped him, it’s just made everything more confusing.

 “I’m sorry…”

And then, suddenly, he remembers. It happens in flashes, bits and pieces that don’t tell him a lot, but it’s enough for him to understand. He’d found Nick and they’d gotten into another fight. Nick had lost his patience – which, in retrospect, sounds rather odd. Considering what was going on surely he should have been the one to lose his patience? Nick was the one seemingly in control, after all. And then, suddenly, Nick had been holding a knife. Or maybe he’d always been holding it, that part is fuzzy. But surely, surely if Nick had been armed he wouldn’t have actually gotten into a fight with him. Nick had stabbed him – that is quite obvious by now – but he can’t remember what got them to that point. Had that always been his intention? Or had it been some horrible impulse?

He’s not sure what would be worse.

This can’t be happening.

It’s so surreal. Just a year ago he’d risked his life to save this man. He’d jumped into a dangerous situation because he didn’t want Nick to get hurt. He’d gotten shot trying to save him, he’d almost died. And he’d done it willingly, because he didn’t want Nick to get hurt, because Nick is his cousin and he loves him. (Loved him.) And now here they are. Nick with a knife and him bleeding out on the cold, wet gress.

 “Don’t die…I don’t want you to die…”

If that’s true, Nick, then get help. If this is an accident, or a horrible impulse you didn’t mean to follow, then get help. Snap out of it and find someone to help me!

If you truly don’t want me to die, Nick, then get help.

Call someone.

Tell anyone at all what happened.

Please Nick.

 “No…no…no…I didn’t mean for this to happen…Will, please…I…”

You did this, Nick. You did. You stabbed me. If you don’t want to actually kill me then do something, anything at all.

Then Nick’s voice disappears. Oh, he’s still there, he can hear him sobbing, he can feel his hands pressing down on his wounds. But he’s stopped talking, like he can’t think of something else to say. Or perhaps he’s realized that nobody can respond to his words. Or perhaps he never noticed he was talking. It doesn’t matter, he’s now silent. And he’s truly starting to fade. He’s disappearing into the darkness, falling into it.

At least the pain is now completely gone.

But he’s still cold. And so, so tired. All he wants to do is sleep. He knows he can’t – because if he actually allows himself to fade away he’ll die – but he wants to. He doesn’t think he can last much longer.

Get help, Nick.

Get anyone.

Please.

The hands that had been pressing down on him to stop the bleeding are suddenly gone. The presence beside him disappears, leaving him only with silence.

Nick is gone.

Maybe he’s gone to get help. Maybe the other man has realized that he can’t help him on his own and he’s gone to get someone to help him. Oh God, he thinks, please let that be what is happening, because he can’t die here, he can’t. He can’t die alone on the cold, wet grass. There are so many things he still needs to do, so many things he still wants to do. Nick should not be allowed to take these moments from him.

He thinks of Sonny, of his smile and the feeling of his hand in his and all the promises they’d made to each other.

He thinks of Arianna, of her beautiful little laugh and the way she looks at him. He thinks of all the things that still have to come, all the milestones that are still coming.

He can’t give up.

He can’t give into the darkness.

But what is he supposed to do?

Perhaps someone else will now stumble on him. Or perhaps Nick did call an ambulance and he’s run off because he can hear them coming. He hasn’t heard one, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Perhaps only a few seconds have passed. How is he supposed to be able to tell?

Oh please, let someone come, please, please God.

I don’t want to die.

There are still so many things he wants to do. He wants to spend more time with his friends. He wants to talk to Chad, who hasn’t returned yet from Chicago, about random things. He wants to fix the fact that he hasn’t been able to spend a lot of time with T over the last few weeks. He wants to actually be there when his mom and E.J. get married – not that it’s the first time he’ll be at one of her weddings, but who knows, maybe this time it will be happily ever after. He wants to be there for that moment. He wants to find a way to talk to Gabi and find a way to help her through all her trouble. He wants – no he needs, he definitely needs – to make sure that Nick doesn’t get anywhere near her or Arianna again. Ever.

He wants to hold Sonny and tell him he loves him.

He wants to hold his daughter.

He wants…

He wants…

At least the pain is now completely gone. At least the cold has faded away. Even the sounds of the world around him have faded away.

The darkness has gotten denser.

He can’t fight anymore.

This is the end.

What he wants doesn’t really matter. Surely every other murder victim out there has thought the same things. Nothing he has ever wanted has mattered before, so why should it start now? Nobody is coming. He knows that now. Or perhaps he’s always known that. Perhaps he had just been unable to deal with that possibility. Because even if Nick was truly sorry, even if he truly hadn’t meant for this to happen, it’s quite obvious that he didn’t get help. From his point of view it would be easier if he dies here.

This is the end.

This is it.

What was the last thing he said to Sonny? He knows he kissed Ari before leaving the club – because he always does – and that he told her that daddy would be back soon, but what did he say to Sonny? Was it, see you later? See you at home? I love you? Oh God, please let him have left Sonny with an ‘I love you’. Because it doesn’t really look like they’ll get a goodbye.

Please God, I don’t want to die.

I want to live.

I want to hold my daughter.

I want to kiss my husband.

Sonny, Ari, I love you guys so much and I want to stay here with you. Please know that, please believe that I fought so hard to stay.

I don’t want to leave.

I don’t want to…

I don’t…

I…


Chapter Text

This, this is not what was supposed to happen. It is not what he intended to happen.

Not even close.

His hands are shaking. They’re covered in Will’s blood. So is his sweater, and his pants. His pants are wet and covered in grass stains and that’s not important, it’s not, but it’s all he can really focus on. Because if he focuses on the blood he’ll lose it. He will. So he must focus on the grass stains because those don’t mean anything. They don’t prove anything. But the blood on his hands, all the blood proves that it did happen. It’s the proof that he didn’t just dream this moment. It means that Will is truly lying on the grass, bleeding, dying. It means he did this.

He stabbed him.

Oh god, what did I do?

He hadn’t meant to do it, he hadn’t. Hurting Will, physically hurting him, had never, ever been a part of his plan. Not ever. It hadn’t even occurred to him. They’d had problems, sure – mostly his fault, he knows, even if he can’t truly acknowledge it – but he hadn’t wanted to hurt him. This was an accident. It was not deliberate. He doesn’t want Will to die, he doesn’t, he doesn’t, he doesn’t. Nobody will ever believe him if they find out about this, he’s aware of that, but that doesn’t make it any less the truth. He doesn’t want Will to die, and he never meant to hurt him. He didn’t mean for this to happen.

He loves Will.

He does.

As unbelievable as that will sound to everyone – especially after all that has happened over the past year and a half, all he has done – it is the truth. And why did he do all those things, he suddenly wonders, why couldn’t he just compromise? Will had always been willing to do that, especially in the beginning, so why couldn’t he just go along with it? (Oh God, he’s going back to prison, isn’t he? Oh God, it’s all going to happen again, isn’t it?) Nobody will ever believe any of this, of course. Hell, he’s privy to his own thoughts and feelings and he doesn’t believe himself, so how can he expect anyone else to?

Perhaps he could have convinced people he didn’t want to hurt Will before this moment. Perhaps just a few hours ago he might have been able to convince them he loves the younger man. But now Will is bleeding out on the grass and his hands are covered in blood and the knife is lying at his feet and he’s shaking and how did this happened.

This wasn’t supposed to happen.

He hadn’t planned it.

He truly, truly hadn’t.

He’s not even sure how it happened. He’s losing the precious little control he has – over his life and over his own emotions and thoughts. They’re getting jumbled up and he can’t quite make sense of anything anymore. It’s been that way for a while, if he’s honest, and he’d thought – he’d convinced himself – that all he needed was Gabi and Arianna, and that once they were a family everything would be alright. And so he’d ignored everyone else, even when he knew deep down they were right. It all became a mess in his head and it was all too much and so he’d come here to calm down and think. He’d finally realized that he probably needed help, that perhaps he should reach out for help because it was all getting to be too much. All he had to do was convince someone he truly needed help. He hadn’t been able to figure out how because he couldn’t quite find a way to convince himself.

It was all too much.

And now, not that much later, there is blood everywhere and Will is lying unmoving on the grass. Everything has gone so horribly, horribly wrong. How did this even happen? How did they get here? How did they allow things to get this far out of hand? Why hadn’t he stopped himself? Why hadn’t he listened? It’s unbelievable. Last year Will hadn’t left him behind and had almost gotten himself killed. He’d almost never met his beautiful little girl. And now in gratitude, as a reward for that unselfish act, Nick has killed him.

He hadn’t meant to do it.

He hadn’t, he hadn’t, he hadn’t.

But he’d been so lost in his thoughts and feelings. So sure that Gabi was the way to security, to feeling alright again. And Will just wouldn’t back down. It was understandable, Nick knows that, but back then, in that moment, he hadn’t understood it.

And then Will had been standing in front of him, angry, and yet still calm enough to have a conversation. That’s all they needed to do, calmly have a conversation. But then they were yelling at each other, and he can’t remember with clarity how they got there, but he’s sure the memory will return at some point. And then he was holding a knife and….

And Will was on the ground.

He hadn’t brought the knife with him for this reason. That’s something else he suspects nobody will ever believe. Because if he wasn’t planning on using it, then why was he carrying a knife around? The answer to that is simple: because he always carries one. Because ever since that moment last year where he’d almost been killed he’d felt safer with some kind of weapon with him. The knife made him feel safe and protected. He just wanted to be able to defend himself.

And now he’s used it to stab Will.

The knife is lying on the grass in front of him and he can’t even remember letting it go.

There’s blood everywhere.

Will is not moving.

Will is not moving.

Before he realizes what he’s doing he’s on his knees beside Will. He’s shaking. He doesn’t know what to do. He’s having trouble breathing but that isn’t important at all. He can only imagine how much trouble Will is having. This is all his fault and what he’s feeling simply doesn’t matter. He’s talking – when did he start doing that? – but he has no idea what he’s saying or why he’s saying it. And he can’t stop.

 “Will…I’m sorry…Will…I didn’t mean to.”

He has to stop the bleeding. That’s what he has to do. Just press his hands against the wound and stop the bleeding. But there’s so much blood. How can there be so much blood? Did he only stab him once or was it more times? Are there wounds he can’t see? He can’t remember. It’s all a mess, a hazy mess in his head and nothing makes sense.

 “I’m sorry, Will…”

And he is, he is, he is.

Oh God, how could he have done this? How did they get here? How did things get so far out of hand? How did they go from Will being willing to die for him to him stabbing Will? How? It’s his fault, he knows it, but that doesn’t mean he understands it. Or maybe he does understand and know. Maybe he does remember every single second of what brought them here. Maybe he just doesn’t want to acknowledge that he does.

 “I can’t believe this is happening again…”

He remembers it clearly. He remembers Will saving him and suddenly lying unmoving on the ground. He remembers that feeling of utter helplessness as he watched events unfold. He remembers being completely convinced that Will was dead. He remembers how that felt. His own words – said with so much anger towards someone else last year – are haunting him, mocking him.

He is innocent.

He had his whole life ahead of him.

He’d meant them, those words. He meant every one of them. He still does.

This can’t be truth.

It has to be some kind of horrible nightmare, it simply has to be. He has to be dreaming, there is no other option. Because if he is dreaming, then he can just wake up and all of this won’t have happened. And then he can still fix everything. Because he can change. He can. Except he’s not dreaming, because that would be too easy. But it is a nightmare, it’s just not one he can wake up from.

 “I’m sorry this happened…I wish things were different…”

But it might make things better.

Will not being around anymore might be better for everyone involved. It’s a horrible thought and he can’t quite believe he’s even thought it, but he has. It’s not like it hasn’t occurred to him before. Not in such a horrible way, of course. But he’s always thoughts that everything would have been so much better if the truth about Will being Arianna’s father had never been discovered. Everything would have been better if Will had accepted that Arianna would be better off without him. That would have been better.

But this?

This is not better.

Because Will shouldn’t die. That’s not what he wants, that’s not better. How could that be better? How could that have even occurred to him? He truly wishes things were different. Truly.

Why did he not stop himself?

Why did he not listen to the people around him that were honestly trying to help him?

Why?

 “Will…”

He’s sobbing and shaking and trying to stop the flow of blood but there is just so much of it.

There must be something else he can do.

And then it hits him and he can’t quite believe it hadn’t occurred to him before: he can call for help. All has to do is get his phone. But where is it? And even if he remembers where he put his phone, how is he supposed to call for help without moving his hands? He’s not sure if he’s actually managing to help Will in any way but surely moving his hands will make it much worse than it is? Maybe using Will’s phone will be of more use, surely Will’s phone must be closer than his own.

But who does he call?

An ambulance seems logical, a doctor, the police. But what does he say? He doesn’t want to go back to prison. How does he even begin to explain this?

 “I’m sorry…”

“Don’t die…I don’t want you to die…”

“No…no…no…”

Will isn’t moving and the blood is everywhere now. He’s not sure there is still a point in trying to stop it but he can’t just move his hands. Except he has to. Because he has to get help. (He has to get away from this place.) Move your hands, Nick, move your hands and get help. Just get up. Just move. Will is white – too white – and he’s not moving anymore, but then he hasn’t for a while. Is he even breathing? Does he even have a pulse? Is he just trying to stop the bleeding of a person that has already died? He has to check. He doesn’t want to, but he has to. So he moves one hand, slowly up, checking to see if there is still a pulse and… yes, there is one, it’s faint but it’s there.

It’s not too late, yet.

He can still help him.

He’s barely breathing and his pulse is exceptionally weak, but he’s still alive and that’s something. All he has to do is find a phone. That’s it. Just find Will’s phone. And then he sees it, lying underneath Will’s unmoving body, it must have fallen during the fight.

The phone is broken.

The phone is broken!

How can this be happening? Just calm down, Nick, just calm down, find your own phone. He stands, there’s no point in pressing down anymore, and there it is, on the ground, next to the knife. He picks them both up and without thinking puts the knife in his pocked.

Will looks worse than he did a second ago.

He’s not moving.

He’s so white.

He falls back down on his knees, searching for the pulse he’d found before but it’s no longer there.

It’s too late.

It’s too late.

Will is dead.

Will is dead.

He’s killed Will Horton. He’s killed his cousin. He’s killed Ari’s father. He’s killed Gabi’s best friend. He’s killed Sonny’s husband. He’s killed the boy that had once been willing to die for him.

He can’t stay here, he knows that, he has to go. Someone will eventually come by and see what has happened. And when that happens  he has to be far away.

 “I’m sorry, Will, I’m so sorry.”

He tries to run, but he’s unable to. He can barely stand. He walks slowly, not even paying attention to where he’s going. He doesn’t stop until he finds himself standing in front of the river Sami, Gabi and Kate threw him in just a few months ago.

Will is actually dead.

He is dead.

He’s killed him.

He can’t believe it.

But, but what if he hasn’t? What if it isn’t too late yet? He hadn’t been able to find a pulse, but he’s not a doctor so what does he know? He was panicking, after all, he could have made a mistake. Maybe Will is still alive, maybe he can still be saved. He’s holding his phone and his hands are shaking but he does somehow manage to dial 911.

 “Someone has been stabbed…please…please…help him…save him….”

And if you can, he thinks, if you can think of a way, then please try to save me too.

He mumbles Will’s location and then hangs up, staring at the water in front of him. He’s holding the knife again – when did he take it out of his pocket? He should have died in this river, he knows that now, he should never have come back at all. He ruins everything he touches, and if they let him near Ari he will ruin her too. Maybe Will always knew that. Maybe that’s why he was trying so hard to keep him out of Ari’s life. Maybe everything will still be alright, somehow.

He drops the knife into the river and watches it disappear.

Maybe Will can still be saved.

Maybe he won’t be able to remember what happened and he won’t end up in prison.

He might still be able to avoid that fate.

But for now he has to get somewhere safe. where he can stop shaking, where he can shower and get rid of everything that will prove that he was ever near Will when the other man got stabbed. And then…then he’ll get help for himself, he’ll make everything better somehow. Perhaps he’ll simply leave and never come back, that might be best for everyone. He hasn’t decided yet, but somehow it will all happen this way. At least he hopes it will.

If Will has not died, than everything might still be alright.

It will turn out alright.

It has to.

 

 

Chapter Text

Will is running late.

This is not a strange thing, though, Sonny knows this. It’s not that his husband is always late, but it’s not uncommon. He’s not even that late, just ten minutes, so it’s not even important. And yet he’s worried, and yet he feels like something is wrong. Sonny can’t explain why, or even if something is going on, but he can feel it. It’s making him nervous. Oh, he knows that everything is alright, Will is just running a bit late, but he still can’t shake the feeling. The worry he’s feeling probably has nothing to do with his husband running late. It probably has more to do with the situation they are in. He’s on edge. And how could he not be, considering Nick is trying to steal Ari away from him and Will? So that’s all this is, just a consequence of the situation they are in.

But he still can’t shake the feeling.

It’s probably because Will said he was going to try and talk to Nick again. That and the fact that Gabi is sitting not too far from him. They’re not fighting – not in the technical sense of the word  – and it’s not that he doesn’t understand that Gabi isn’t trying to take Ari away from Will.  He knows it’s probably all Nick, but that doesn’t make his dealings with Gabi any easier. Because even if she isn’t doing it herself, she is not stopping Nick, she’s just allowing him to do what he wants. (And what he wants is him and Will out of Ari’s life.)

 Or maybe he’s feeling on edge because of the gun in his bag. It’s the knowledge that he has finally reached the end of his rope. It’s the fact that he had actually gone into his uncle’s house and stolen one of his guns. It’s the fact that he’s even thinking  about shooting Nick to fix the problem. He can’t tell Will – he can’t even believe he’s thinking it, how can he say it out loud – because Will would never, ever agree to it. But when Nick finally crosses the line – and he knows the other man will – he’s going to make sure he can’t hurt anyone else ever again. He’s going to protect his family no matter what. He’s going to do everything in his power to make sure Will gets to keep his little girl with him, where she belongs. (Well, with him and Gabi of course. But not with Nick.) He’s considered talking to his uncle, but that would mean actually going down this path and he’s still not sure whether or not he actually wants to do that. Besides, it seems wrong to involve his Uncle Victor since his wife loves Nick so much. So he went in and stole the gun. And now it’s in his bag.

He’s not sure he can do it, though.

He’s not sure he’ll ever be able to shoot someone. He hopes it won’t come to that. But if it does he is prepared.

Maybe everything will be alright.

Maybe Nick will come to his senses, as impossible as that seems. Maybe E.J. will finally find a way out of this mess, a way in which they will all be alright. He is a DiMera after all, if anyone can get them out of this it is E.J. Maybe Gabi will somehow find the strength to stand up to Nick for Will and her daughter. Or maybe Will will finally be able to get through to Nick. He has done that before, after all – albeit by almost dying, but still – so who’s to say it won’t happen again. Maybe there is an easy solution they simply haven’t thought of yet.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Fifteen minutes have passed now.

And it’s still not something to worry about, he knows that. But the feeling of uneasiness persists, growing stronger by the second. Oh God, Nick is actually turning him into a pessimist. He’s turning him into someone who thinks bad things will constantly happen. He should just go ahead and call Will. Hearing his voice will make him feel better and then he can forget this ever happened. That’s what he should do, just call him.

“Hey, you’ve reached Will. I can’t answer your call right now, you know what to do.”

“Hey Will, where are you? Call me.”

It is not strange that Will doesn’t answer his phone, Sonny tells himself, it’s not like it’s the first time.

It’s not.

Five minutes pass.

And then another five.

Gabi suddenly asks him if he knows where Will is or how long it will be until he is there. He tells her he doesn’t, but he’ll try calling him again. So he does but there is still no answer. And it’s not strange, it’s not. It’s not strange that his husband is a bit late. It is not strange that he has not called him back or sent a message. But it is strange that he is leaving Ari waiting here when he knows that Gabi is waiting for him. It is strange he is doing that when Nick is looking for excuses and a call would make everything better.

Something has happened.

But it’s not something bad, he assures himself. There’s a completely logical explanation for all that has happened. And it’s not something bad. Will probably has lost his phone or he has forgotten to charge it. It’s not like it’s the first time. Maybe he’s already on his way and he’ll walk through the door any moment now. Or his phone will ring and it will be Will apologizing for not answering.

Everything is fine.

He’s sure of it.

Except he isn’t, not really. If he were he wouldn’t need to convince himself would he?

 

~

 

There are days that Hope truly hates her job.

Oh, she loves being a cop, she truly does, but there are days she wishes she could do something else. Like right now. She’d almost, almost been out the door on her way home to her daughter – to have dinner just like she promised – when Rafe called her back. He was apologetic about it, he truly was, but technically her shift hadn’t ended yet and it’s not like he could respond to the call on his own. (Well, he could, but it would be completely unfair to him. Besides she’s pretty sure she owes him.) Apparently someone had called in a stabbing and they needed to go and check it out. She still might get home on time if she’s really, really lucky, Hope thinks.

She’d been sending a text to her daughter telling her she was going to be just a bit late when Rafe suddenly stopped dead in front of her.

“Rafe, are you…”

That’s when she saw him lying there on the grass, not moving. The caller had been telling the truth when he said someone had been stabbed. He just hadn’t informed them it was Will who had been stabbed. That it was Will who was just lying there, pale as a ghost, covered in blood. This had happened to her before. She remembers it. Walking into that shed. Seeing Will lying there unmoving on the ground. Shot then, not stabbed, but apart from that it was almost exactly the same. How could this be happening? How could so many things happen to Will? (How could so many things happen to all of them?)

It takes her a moment to realize that Rafe isn’t standing in front of her anymore. She’s not sure how she missed it, but Rafe is kneeling next to Will, pressing something – his jacket she realizes – against his wounds. She should move too, but for a moment she seems unable too.

Where is the ambulance?

She knows they are coming, she does, because they left just at the same time they did. So where are they? Why aren’t they here yet? But then they’re suddenly there – and when did they even arrive? How is all of this happening? It’s like it isn’t happening, not to her, it’s like it’s happening to someone else and she’s just watching it unfold. And then she’s suddenly on her knees beside Rafe – and when did she even move?

He’s not dead.

He can’t be.

Will cannot be dead. Telling their family that Will died is not something that is in her immediate future. It cannot be.

It’s not too late.

It’s not.

Calm down, Hope, Calm down. Last year you thought he was dead ,too, at least for a moment. This is the same. This is not the end for him.

But there is so much blood. And he is so pale.

How can there be so much blood?

Rafe is shaking, with anger or grief she cannot quite tell. So is she, it dawns on her suddenly, they are both shaking. There is nothing else they can do. Nothing but watch the paramedics try to save this boy they both love so much.

“Rafe, we’ll find out what happened. We will.”

He doesn’t answer, not that she expects him too. After all, what is there to say? But the determined look in his eyes tells her that he will not rest until he gets his hands on whoever did this. She does not envy that person. But he’s alive – at least the paramedic tells them that he has a pulse and that is enough – and that is, in this moment, all they can hope for.

At least it can’t get worse.

She shouldn’t have thought that.

The scream that suddenly pierces through the silence is practically deafening.

~

 

She’d just wanted some ice cream, that’s all.

Ali had been begging for hours and eventually he’d caved. That is the only reason they are even here. That is the only reason why they even saw. She’d been a good girl all day and he’d thought, why the hell not? They could walk around town for a bit, maybe see Will and Ari – something they both loved doing – and then he would take her home to her mother. At the time she’d begged him for ice cream Lucas had seen nothing wrong with it, it hadn’t occurred to him to say no because what could possibly happen? (Admittedly the strangest things did constantly happen in this town, but still.) It was just ice cream. There was no way he could have known what they would stumble on. There was no way he could have known what they would see. If he’d had even an inkling that they could see something like this he would never, ever have taken his daughter there. Never.

But he hadn’t seen it coming. How could he have?

So they’d gone to get ice cream, turned around a corner, and then suddenly she’d screamed. It took him a moment to comprehend what he was seeing and by the time he did there was no way to shield her. She was screaming and crying and there was nothing he could do for her. She shouldn’t have seen it. Hell, he shouldn’t have seen – because that was his boy, his little boy and he was lying there covered in blood, he was not moving. But Ali was just a little girl and she definitely should not see her big brother, her hero, lying there like that.

Oh, God, no, no, he thinks. Not my son, please, not my son.

For just a moment he is incapable of moving. He can’t seem to comprehend what he is seeing. All he can do is hold his daughter – and he can’t remember moving to take a hold of her but he must have done it. And then Rafe is there – when did he move?  Then Hope is ushering them away. And Lucas knows he should go, he knows that he should take Ali away from here because she is still screaming. But that is his son and he cannot leave him here alone, he has to stay, but he can’t. He has to go with his little girl, but leaving his son behind feels like a betrayal.  

He’s not dead.

He can’t be dead.

He can’t be.

This can’t be the end for his little boy.

It’s not.

He wishes he could just ask, but he can’t bring himself to say the words aloud. Besides even if he could bring himself to do so, there is no way he could ask it with Ali here. She doesn’t need to hear it like this if he is actually dead. (She shouldn’t have seen it, either, but he can’t change that anymore.)

She can’t stop screaming.

He’s not sure she ever will.

He looks at Rafe, at this other man holding his daughter, who probably loves his son as much as he does – alright maybe not as much, but he loves Will, too.

Is he dead?

Rafe looks at him for a moment, as if he doesn’t know what to say, but then he shakes his head a little. And Lucas feels like he can breathe again for the first time since he saw his son lying there. Because Will isn’t dead, his little boy has not left this world, not yet. And that means he has a chance. Because Will is young and strong and he can survive this, whatever this is. He still has fight left in him. But the look in Rafe’s eyes tells him that isn’t the whole truth, no matter how much he might want it to be.

The answer isn’t no, Lucas realizes.

It’s not yet.

~

 

It’s almost like they’ve gone back in time.

I’s almost like someone has decided they needed to go back and relive that horrible day again. (For a moment Hope wonders if that has actually happened. Stranger things have happened in this town.) But it’s not the same, it’s just different enough to be a whole new day. There is no Gabi, no Ari. Will has been stabbed, not shot. But just like before, they wheel Will away. Just like before, she is standing there watching him go. Just like before, she feels like everything is lost. But it wasn’t last time, Hope reminds herself, everything turned out alright back then, so why shouldn’t it today?

Daniel is there, suddenly, like last year, and then they are truly gone.

She will find out who did this if it is the last thing she does. And when I do, Will, she promises, I will make them pay.

I will not fail you.

 

~

 

There is so much blood.

Daniel has no idea how much blood the younger boy has lost and he has no way of truly finding out. He does know this: there’s a distinct possibility that he has lost too much blood. He doesn’t have the time to stop and ask what happened – just like last year he doesn’t have time to do anything but operate. But whatever happened is not good. It doesn’t matter, knowing what happened won’t help him save Will right now. If he even can. His pulse is so weak that for a moment Daniel thinks he might not be able to do anything. The boy might be lost to all of them. But he has to try, he can’t give up. He can’t accept that he won’t be able to save him. He has to because he has absolutely no desire to go out there and tell Will’s family he is dead. The idea alone is horrifying. So he has to save him, he simply has to.

Naturally, the moment he thinks that Will flat lines.

He suspects it’s going to be a very long day.

~

 

This cannot be real.

It can’t  be.

This can’t be happening to them, not again. There is absolutely no way he is sitting here again. Not in this same hospital waiting for news on what happened to Will. Waiting for someone to come out and tell him whether or not his husband is still alive. This isn’t real. This has to be some kind of cruel joke someone is playing on him, or a horrible nightmare. It can’t be truth, it just can’t be. Just an hour ago this wasn’t even a distant possibility. He’d  been worried about Will being late, but the fact that he might be dying hadn’t even occurred to Sonny. An hour ago he was just sitting at the club, Gabi and Ari in front of him and T working at the bar behind him. She’d been asking him about Will being late and whether or not they should be worrying. T, who had been cleaning some glasses, had laughed and said: “That’s Will for you.”

They’d laughed.

Will had been bleeding out somewhere, all alone, and they’d been laughing.

But they hadn’t known, there was no way they could have known.

And then, just a few minutes later, Rafe had suddenly been there. It had only taken one look at the other man’s face for Sonny to know that something bad had happened, his hands and shirt were covered in blood, he was shaking and he’d been crying. Gabi was the one who asked – logical, he thinks later, that was her brother standing in front of them – what happened? He has no memory of the exact words that Rafe said, he’ll never be able to remember them. And he also doesn’t remember how long it took before the statement actually got through, but he does remember the essence of it. Will had been stabbed. Will was in the hospital. He might be dying. He might be dead already. Gabi had gasped, and Ari – probably because of the commotion, Gabi’s sudden movements and the change in the mood – started to cry. Behind him T dropped whatever it was that he was holding and it shattered on impact.

It was the sound of shattering glass that actually made him move. They needed to go to the hospital, but Ari was crying and they couldn’t leave her alone. For a moment he and Gabi had stared at each other, unable to think clearly enough to figure out what to do. Even Rafe, having told them what happened, seemed incapable of figuring out what to do besides hold his sister. It was T who saved the day – Sonny will thank him when this is all over. T instructed Rafe to take Gabi and Ari home. T drove him to the hospital .  T  called everyone in their families – he should have done that, Sonny knows that, but he’s not able to do anything. And now they are both sitting here, waiting. T looks just as lost and confused as he feels. Will is his best friend after all. And T had never truly been through this. He hadn’t been here with them last year when Will got shot.

He should move.

He should call someone.

But he can’t.

He’d sunk down on this chair when he arrived and he’s been unable to move since. He’s breathing, he knows he is, but he has no idea how. Nor does he even have a clue of how he’s managing to stay this calm. But he has to stay calm because panicking won’t help anyone. He knows that. His father told him that last year when Will got shot. (And oh God, that was almost exactly a year ago wasn’t it?) He has to stay calm and just breathe and hope and pray and believe that his Will will be alright. T says something to him, but for the life of him Sonny doesn’t know what it is.

T’s gone, and Sonny is left sitting all alone on those chairs. He has no idea where the other boy went and he doesn’t truly care, either. It’s not important. Nothing but Will is important. Then he’s suddenly holding a cup of coffee and T is sitting beside him again. His hands were frozen, how had he not noticed that? He’s shaking, that must be why T brought him a coffee. He hadn’t realized that he was.  

This has to be a nightmare.

He can’t be sitting here again.

This is not happening.

He’ll wake up any minute now, shaking, with Will by his side. All of this is nothing but a nightmare because if it is real, then he might lose the person he loves the most. And he’s not sure he can deal with that.

 

~

 

She keeps rocking back and forth.

At least Ari has stopped crying, Gabi thinks, though she still looks upset. She’s too young – just a few days from her first birthday  – to be able to understand what is going on. But she can feel that her mother is upset, and she must have been able to tell that Sonny also was upset. So she too is upset, she’s crying and no matter what Gabi does her little girl just won’t stop. She has to calm Ari down, she has to calm herself down. She suspects her calming down is the only way to calm down her little girl. Will would not want his daughter to be this upset, he would not, he would want her to be happy and calm. So she has to calm down. She has to.

But how can she be calm?

How?

Will has been stabbed.

Will has been stabbed.

She remembers that moment last year when Hope told them that Will had been shot. She remembers how happy she’d been right before that, how safe she’d felt, only to be told that her best friend, the father of her child, lay dying. She remembers the feeling of utter hopelessness. She remembers how scared she’d been that her little girl would never even get to meet her father. That she would never see her best friend again. That she and Will and Sonny would never find a way to make their new family work. But he had pulled through and they had found a way to be a family.  And now here they are again. Except it was so much worse. She can’t tell if it’s because she was already in shock last year because of all that happened, or if it’s because Ari is older now and can understand a bit better. Because so much has happened since then, both good and bad, and Will can’t die. He cannot.

What happened?

She has no idea and absolutely no way of finding out. She should find a way to go to the hospital. But she can’t leave Ari alone and she doesn’t have the strength to call for help. She doesn’t even know where everybody is and who knows this has happened. Besides, her little girl is upset and she doesn’t understand that her daddy can’t come right now. So she has to stay.

She can’t remember what she said to Will last. She can’t remember the last normal conversation they’ve had. During every conversation they’ve had over the past few weeks Nick has always been there. Even when he wasn’t a part of the conversation, he was. Nick was everywhere.

Nick.

She stops moving then, the truth finally sinking in. She’d been thinking it for a while,  even if only subconsciously. Nick had told her that he would make sure that everything was alright. That he was going to make sure they were a family and nothing would get in the way of that. He’d assured her that Sami and Kate would be out of their lives forever. (She admits that a part of her thought life might be easier without the two other women in her life. But not without Will and Sonny.) He told her that she shouldn’t worry, that Will wouldn’t be a problem because he would explain everything to him and they would find a solution. He’d told her he had everything under control. And she’d been too afraid of losing everything that she didn’t even argue with him.

And now Will was dying.

He’d been stabbed by someone and been left to die.

Nick could not have done this.

He had not done this.

He couldn’t have.

Right?

She knows Nick and Will don’t get along – which was not a surprise considering everything  that had happened – but she knows that Nick cares about Will. She truly believes that. She remembers the moment that he told her that he loved Will, regardless of all that had happened. She remembers the look in his eyes and she knows he was telling the truth. She remembers how broken he had looked when Will got shot. How he had been unable to say anything, unable to say out loud what had happened. Nick had not done this. He could not hurt Will, he would not hurt him.

Right?

Right?

Nick could not have done this.

Oh Gabi, who are you trying to convince? You don’t believe that, not really.

He didn’t do this.

It doesn’t matter how angry he was the last time she saw him. What he said doesn’t matter. He wasn’t angry at Will, at least not overtly. He’d been talking about Sami and Kate and E.J. but he’d barely mentioned Will. She’d thought, she’d hoped, this meant that he was open to working out a solution. (Maybe she’d been lying to herself to make it all easier.) She’d hoped they would find a way to all get along. It’s not like she had a choice. Nick was the one with all the power, after all. That’s what happens, when you try to kill someone. Even if it’s done in self-defence. If that person survives they are the one who has all the power.

But he hadn’t done this.

He couldn’t have.

Because if he had actually tried to kill Will, then it was all her fault. Every single thing. Maybe that’s why she can’t seem to calm down. Not just because her best friend might be dying, but because she’s the one who brought Nick into their lives. She was the one who’d been unable to let him go, unable to see the truth. She was the one who’d hit Nick on the head with that rock. (And if he had done this, then she was the one who hadn’t hit hard enough.) It was all her fault. And if Nick had done this and Will died, she would never, ever be able to forgive herself. Even if he live,s she doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to.

It’s all her fault.

He can’t die. How could she ever look into her little girls eyes again if he does? How could she explain she had no daddy because of her?

No, that  cannot happen, it will not happen.

It isn’t truth.

It wasn’t Nick. It wasn’t Nick ,and Will is going to be alright.

Maybe if she repeats it enough times she’ll believe it.

~

 

Of the many things that Sami had thought would ever happen, Lucas showing up at the DiMera mansion asking for help had never been one of them.

But here they are.

He’d arrived suddenly, knocking on the door in desperation, a completely devastated Ali in his arms. She knew instantly that something bad had happened. It was the look in his eyes that told her that it was about Will. (She knows it’s about Will because the only other person it could be about is, alright.) It’s the same look he had last year when Will had been shot.

“Lucas, what happened?”

“It’s Will, Sami, he’s in the hospital. He’s been stabbed.”

There is a distinct possibility – though she’ll never be able to tell anyone with certainty – that she screamed. Whatever she did, E.J. was suddenly standing beside her, holding her. And then suddenly – it’s like time is skipping – they’re on the couch, all surrounding Ali, trying to calm her down. She needs to go to the hospital, every bone in her body is screaming at her to get to her son. But her daughter is crying and shaking and she can’t leave. (Something else she never thought would happen, the three of them, all on the same page, trying to calm down her daughter.)T calls not that much later but Sami never speaks to him. (E.J. is the one who takes the call.) It takes a long time but eventually Ali manages to calm down. Though Sami is not sure whether she’s actually calm or she simply has no tears left. But she is calm enough to ask some questions and none of them have the answers.

“Is Will going to be okay?”

She doesn’t know, none of them do, but she can’t tell her little girl that. She doesn’t even really know what happened. She knows Will is in the hospital and that he has been stabbed, but she’s lacking any other crucial information. She can’t even ask because Ali should not hear. From the look on both Lucas’ – who saw Will – and E.J.’s – who talked to T – faces she suspects they don’t really know anything, either. But she can’t tell her daughter all that. She has to believe that everything will be alright or she’ll never be able to calm down. So she lies.

“Of course he will be honey, I’m sure of it. Right,  Lucas?”

“Your mom is right sweetheart, Will will be just fine.”

She hopes it wasn’t a lie. She truly, truly hopes that they spoke the truth. Not just for Ali, who will be devastated if she learns they lied, but for all of them. She wants to go to the hospital, she needs to go to the hospital, but she has to wait until her little girl is asleep. And when he’s alright – because she has to believe that he will be alright – she’ll find whoever did this to her little boy and she’ll kill them.

If it’s the last thing that she does.

~

 

This is so wrong.

He’s been thinking the same thing for hours and it’s stupid, really, surely there are better words, more accurate ones, but it’s the only one that occurs to him to describe the situation they have found themselves in.

It is so wrong.

His best friend cannot be dying. He just can’t be. That cannot be real.

There’s just no way.

And yet, here they are. There’s no denying it is happening, but T is having a hard time with it. He suspects he’s not the only one. He can’t even imagine what Sonny is feeling right now, or Gabi or Sami or anyone else. He just can’t believe it. Only a few weeks ago Sonny and Will were getting married and they had their whole future in front of them. And he was so glad, so happy, that he could prove to Will that he was truly his best friend, and that he was so incredibly sorry about all the things he’d said when he’d found out that Will was gay. They’d been happy. So incredibly happy. And now here they are. Waiting to hear if Will has survived, waiting to hear if he’ll live. He has to be, T thinks, he has to be because the alternative is just too horrible to even consider.

He wonders what Sonny is thinking, but the other man hasn’t said a word since they got here. Not that T truly blames him. He has this feeling that he should be saying or doing something to help Sonny, but he can’t think of anything. He can’t even calm himself down, how is he supposed to help someone else? But he needs to do something.

There’s nothing he can do, he’s not a doctor after all, but just sitting here feels incredibly wrong. That’s his best friend in there, and he might be dying, and he’s just sitting here. If he knew who did this, if he had any idea, then he could go look for them but he has no idea who could have done this. All he can do is sit here and be there for Sonny, even if there isn’t much he can do for his friend. He’s already called everyone that needs to know – at least he hopes he has, he hopes he hasn’t forgotten anyone important. They’ll get here any minute and surely they’ll have a better idea on how to deal with this. They might even be able to give him something to do.

Until then all he can do is wait.

And he doesn’t know how to deal with that.

~

 

He should have acted sooner.

Much, much sooner.

He should have just acted on his plans instead of waiting to see what Nick would do next. He should have done something, even if nobody else agreed. He was a DiMera, after all, he had all the power. He should have done something, anything, but he’d decided that the waiting game was better. He’d decided that listening to William was the better plan, it was all about his daughter, after all. He should have just taken Nick out of the equation, consequences be damned. If he had just done what he was supposed to do, if he had not waited, then William would not be dying on an operating table somewhere, Ali would not be crying so hard, and Samantha would not be that broken.

Because Nick did this.

He knows that.

He’s E.J. DiMera, he has learned from the best. So he knows that Nick did this. He can’t prove it. But he knows. It’s the timing. It’s too convenient. It works right into Nick’s favor. Nick was trying so desperately to get his hands on Ari, and now William, the only thing truly standing between him and what he wanted, had been removed from the equation. So this was Nick, it had to be. Or maybe it’s just like last year, someone trying to get to Nick, and William just got caught in the crossfire again. It’s a possibility, but he doesn’t really believe it, it’s too coincidental.

No, Nick has tried to kill William.

He’s tried to kill his stepson. And nobody, absolutely nobody, does something like that to a member of his family. Nobody.

He’ll find Nick. Once he’s taken Samantha to the hospital and they’ve discovered how William is. Once all that is done he will get his hands on Nick and make him pay for what he has done to his family. He’ll do what he should have done in the beginning.

Because he should not have waited.

If he hadn’t then this would not have happened.

This is his fault.

~

 

It takes hours before Ali is asleep, but it’s only then that Sami goes to the hospital.

She’s calmer now.

She understands what she couldn’t see before. Sami doesn’t need E.J. to explain things to her, she doesn’t need him to tell her his theory. She knows that Nick did this, knows that because the timing is too perfect for it to be otherwise.

It’s her fault.

Her’s and Kate’s fault, and perhaps even Gabi’s as well. They were the ones who made Nick angry. They were the ones who turned him into an even bigger psycho than he’d been before. It was Gabi who hit him on the head – and yes, she does believe that Nick was trying to rape her and that Gabi was just defending herself. That’s the one thing about this she’s never doubted. But Gabi had done it. And then she and Kate had convinced her to cover it up, to throw what they thought was Nick’s body into the river. But he hadn’t been dead, he’d come back to haunt them. And she’s Sami Brady, she’s incapable of not interfering in things. She is the one who’d always been unable to ignore Nick, regardless of the many consequences.

And now her son was in the hospital, fighting for his life again.

Nick had done this, he had tried to kill her son.

But it was also her fault.

It was also their fault.

~

 

 

Last year Hope called her.

This time it was T.

A friend of her grandson she’s not quite sure she’s ever talked to. She knows him, she’s met him several times, but Marlena doesn’t think she’s ever had a conversation with the man that lasted longer than a few minutes. Not until he called her to tell her that her grandson, her Will, has been stabbed and is in the hospital. She’d consider the possibility that it’s a cruel joke if the sound of his voice hadn’t been so broken. She can’t believe it.

How time goes. She can’t believe that two years ago Will had been struggling so hard with who he was. And then, just a few weeks ago, she’d married them, Will and Sonny, and they’d been so happy. With Ari, and even Gabi by their side, they had been a happy family. And now Will is dying and it is all too much. How could this have happened? How could they have gone from that truly happy moment to the one they were in right now? What had happened? Marlena doesn’t have the answers to any of these questions and she suspects she won’t have them for a while.

She has to go to the hospital.

She has to go right now.

Will needs her.

Sami needs her.

She has to go, immediately. Still for a few minutes she’s unable to get up, unable to move from the couch she’d sunk into when T  told her what happened. She’s unable to do anything but just sit there and stare straight ahead at nothing. She snaps out of it eventually but she doesn’t know how long she sat there unmoving. There’s a message on her phone.

Somebody tried to call her earlier today but she hadn’t noticed. She hadn’t noticed. What if it was Will? What if Will had tried to call her earlier today? But as she listens to the message left behind she realizes, that it is not Will. It’s Nick. Begging her for help, telling her he wants to change, that he needs someone to talk to. She should help him. She can hear in his voice that he’s completely broken down, that he truly, honestly needs help right now, but she can’t. Not right now. Right now all that matters is that her grandson is in the hospital. She’ll talk to Nick later. She’ll help him and perhaps they can find a solution for that horrible situation, as well. For now she needs to go to the hospital.  She needs to be there for her daughter. She needs to be there for her grandson.

Everything else can wait.

 

 

~

 

There is something seriously wrong with this town.

Maybe it’s something in the water.

How else, Justin wonders, could one explain all the bad things that keep happening. And why so many of them  happen to his son-in-law? Why must Will be hurt by life so many times? Why must Sonny be hurt? Neither of them have done anything to deserve any of it. But here they are, after all the months of fighting with Nick for their daughter, here they are in the hospital with Will fighting for his life. It’s just so unbelievable. It was bad enough last year when Will had been shot, but this time everything is  just so much worse.  Last year the shooter had been taken care of. But this time they don’t even know who stabbed Will, who did this. This time everything is uncertain. Perhaps it’s because Sonny and Will have been together longer, perhaps it’s because they’ve only just gotten married.

Justin doesn’t know.

He does know this: he never wants to go through something like this again. He never wants to see that look on his son’s face again. He never wants him to look so lost, or in so much pain. He just doesn’t want that to happen again. Surely they’ve had enough? Surely any minute now Daniel will come out to tell them that Will is alright. Surely this is the extent of it. Surely nothing bad will happen to Will again. Surely life can’t be cruel enough to steal Will away from Sonny and Ari. Surely.

Justin wishes he was completely convinced about that.

Because if he was, then he could say something to his son. If he was, then he could help his boy.

But he’s not sure.

And telling Sonny something he’s not sure of will probably make everything worse.

So he just sits beside his boy and waits.

There’s nothing else he can do.

~

 

Oh, if his nephew had only come to him.

Victor isn’t an idiot. An idiot could never have survived for as long a he did. An idiot would have been murdered a long time ago. So no, he is not an idiot, he knows what’s going on in this town, and he certainly knows every single thing that happens in his family. He knows how much trouble Nick was making for his nephew and his husband. And he also knows that the other man needed to be stopped, he’d reached that conclusion a while ago, but he’d decided to do nothing until Sonny came to him. He’s not sure why he decided that, it sounded like the right thing to do at the time. And then, just this morning, he’d discovered one of his guns was missing. And he’d known it was Sonny – and oh Sonny, how could you be this stupid? Why didn’t you just come to me? Why?

He’d spent all day trying to call his nephew, attempting to stop him from doing something incredibly stupid.

And then he’d gotten that phone call.

He’d expected to be told that Nick had been shot. He had not expected that it was Will who was in the hospital because he’d gotten stabbed. For a moment Victor had truly not understood. For a moment he’d been completely confused. But then it had dawned on him. Nick had done this. Nick must have stabbed Will in an attempt to get him out of the way and now the younger man was fighting for his life. Victor knows this. He can’t prove it, but he knows it. He’s not an idiot, after all.

He has to go to the hospital.

He has to be there for his nephew.

But first he has to get his hands on that gun. He has to find out where his nephew hid that gun and put it back with the others. Before Sonny figures out this has happened and decides to take matters into his own hands. Then he will go to the hospital and be there for Sonny. And once Will is better – because he’ll get better, he has to – once he is better Victor will make Nick pay for what he has done to his family. And if he won’t be able to, then he’s sure E.J. DiMera will. (He and a DiMera working for the same goal. Who would have ever thought it.)

That’s what he’ll do.

That’s all he can do.

He’s too late to do anything else.

 

~

 

His hands are still shaking.

He has no idea how much time has passed. He could probably find out, but his brain isn’t working properly. At least there’s no more blood on his hands. Well, no literal blood at least. Nick suspects that nothing in the world will ever be able to wash the metaphorical blood from his hands. No matter how hard he scrubs – and he’s been scrubbing for hours – his hands still seem bloody to him, even though he knows the actual blood has long since washed off.

Because he killed Will.

He killed Will.

He hadn’t meant to do it, but it had happened. And no matter what he does, no matter how hard he tries to change, nothing will ever be able to wash that sin away. That will always be a part of him now. Will, who had been one of the only people willing to give him a second chance when he got out of prison. Will, who’d believed in him so much that he’d never even considered Nick wasn’t on his side until it was too late. Will, who hadn’t left him behind to be killed, even though he probably deserved it and who had almost died in an attempt to save his life. Will who was still polite to him, despite all that he had done. Will, who was just a good person. Who had never actually done anything to him, beside exist. And he had killed him.

He’d stabbed him.

He he’d done that.

Nothing could ever change that.

But he can’t go back to prison. He just can’t. The idea of what they’ll do to him there, again, is too horrible. He has to find a way out of this. And he will. All he has to do is get rid of the evidence. The knife is already gone, washed downriver, and even if they find it all the evidence will be gone. It’s just his clothes that are left. He has to get rid of them somehow, but how? He can’t just throw those down the river, someone will eventually find them and someone might recognize them, or trace them back to him. He can’t burn them here, either, it will be to suspicious, and someone would see it. He can’t throw them away either. He’ll wash them for now, see if he can get all the blood out of them, and then he’ll get rid of them somehow. Because he can’t go back to prison.

He just can’t.

The guilt eats at him. He knows that will never go away, it will be a part of him forever. He will forever be the one who murdered William Horton, even if he is the only one who knows. Even if no one else ever suspects it. Will’s  blood is on his hands and he can’t wash it away. It’s a part of him. He’ll have to live with that. He can’t stay, he knows that too. Maybe in the before he could have, maybe he could have found a way, but even he can’t justify holding Arianna if her father’s blood is on his hands.

He has to leave.

But he can’t do it immediately, that would seem too suspicious. He’ll have to wait until everyone has calmed down a bit.

And hope that nobody discovers the truth in the meantime.

 

~

 

He’s tired.

Surgeries on people he knows always seem to last so much longer than normal surgeries, even though logically Daniel knows they don’t. There’s a reason why most doctors won’t work on somebody they love or know, because it’s too much to ask. Daniel agrees with that, but sometimes you just don’t have a choice. Still, every time it’s someone he knows lying on the table, Daniel feels he ages ten years in the operating room.

This was no different.

But at least he’s alive. For now. Daniel has no idea if Will is going to survive. His blood loss was extensive and his injury severe, but he had done all he could to save him. And the younger man is still alive, at least that was something. He is still alive, breathing on his own, and that means he has the chance to get better. Will has a lot to live for – a husband and a daughter – and that gives Daniel hope. He has to tell Will’s family, has to tell them how bad things look. Has to tell them that things might not turn out alright.

But at least he is still alive.

That’s something.

 

Chapter Text

She has no idea who did this and no idea how to find out.

Ever since they’d been told that Will was alive –and even though he hadn’t said it, Hope had heard the ‘still’ in Daniel’s voice in such a way that made her wonder how long Will was going to stay alive – she and Rafe had been working on trying to find out who did this. The problem is, there’s no real evidence. The would-be murder weapon is gone, probably taken by whoever it was that had done this. Will himself is still unconscious, and even if he wakes up – which didn’t even seem certain – they can’t be certain that Will will remember who did this. All they have is the phone call to 911, but even that isn’t helping them. They did tell her it might help them in the future but for now it isn’t helpful. Hope thought the voice sounded familiar, but it was so distorted by the emotion in the caller’s voice, she couldn’t really tell. And even if they find the caller there is no proof that he was the perp.

They just have no evidence.

Hope suspects, especially by the way he was acting, that E.J. DiMera – and perhaps Victor Kiriakas – knows more. That they know something she doesn’t, or at least suspect something. It’s not like it’s the first time, considering who they are. But if they do, and it was an if, she has no way of discovering it. They will never tell, her and if they do find whoever did this, then they will make him – or her – pay in their very own way. If someone turns up dead suddenly in the next few weeks, then she will know that was the person that tried to kill WIll. She doesn’t like it, not one bit,  but she has no control over it. Nobody could ever control the DiMera’s, not even if they tried, and Victor might have mellowed out a bit over the years, but he is just as dangerous now as he had been before. Especially when someone attacks his family. And Sonny is his favourite nephew.

If she wants the person responsible to be alive when he – or she – pays for his – or her  – crime,  then she must find this person before either of them does. She just doesn’t know how they’re going to do that.

There’s no evidence. No threats were levelled against Will, there was really nobody in his life that wanted to kill him. Except for one thing, one thing that has been nagging on her mind since she began this investigation. One person that several people have already reminded her of. Nick. Nick had been trying to steal Ari away from Will  for weeks. Nick had been trying to make sure that Will barely saw his own daughter, and he had been unwilling to listen to reason from anyone. Not even the people that loved him and wanted what was best for all of them. Nick was determined to get the family he wanted and Will wasn’t a part of that. Hope knows that. And she knows that things were starting to get really out of hand, she knows that Nick was getting more and more angry.

But stabbing Will? It just doesn’t seem right. It just doesn’t seem like something Nick would do. For one thing it would mean risking going back to prison and Nick would never do that, not after what happened to him there. And Nick does truly seem to care about Will, even if he has a very peculiar way of showing it. Besides why would he do it? Sure he was trying to keep Ari away from Will, but stabbing him, killing him? No it just doesn’t seem right. It wasn’t Nick it couldn’t be.

Hope dismisses the possibility and focusses on the case again.

She ignores the persistent voice in the back of her mind that tells her that Nick is a true suspect. And that she shouldn’t ignore him. Not even if the guilt of not having realized how far off the reservation he had gotten was getting to her. Not even if she realized that she could have stopped this if she’d just done something. She had to accept the possibility, even if it meant accepting that this was partly her fault.

She can’t, not yet.

~

 

He can’t stay here forever.

Nick knows that.

He can’t hide in this room forever, not even if he wants to. People are too used to seeing him around town, to seeing him getting into other people’s business. Him not being around for a very long time will odd, unless he has a good reason to be. Like moving away for a job. But people would  find it strange that after doing so much to get Gabi and Ari, and to drive a wedge between Gabi and Will, he would just give up. They would want an explanation.

Perhaps if he just convinces Marlena. He’d left her a message, before the whole thing with Will happened. He remembers sounding desperate and pleading for help, something he had meant at the time. Perhaps if he goes to talk with her, she might be able to give him some way to explain why he is leaving. It seems wrong to go and talk to the women when he has killed her grandson, though she was unaware of it.

Except he hasn’t killed him, has he.

Will is still alive.

He’d gotten the call from his Aunt Julie just an hour ago. She’d sounded worried, and she’d told him that will is still alive, but in a coma. (Still alive, she’d said, like they weren’t sure he would live.) When she’d told him, Nick hadn’t wanted to believe it at first, but once it did sink it he’d felt like he could breathe again. Because he hadn’t killed Will. He hadn’t done that. He’d hurt him, badly, but he hadn’t killed him and that was something. He wouldn’t have to carry that around everywhere. Except of course for the fact that if Will is alive – and he hopes that Will stays alive – then he would wake up at some point and he might remember that it was him, Nick, who did this to him. And he’d end up back in prison.

Perhaps he shouldn’t try to find some excuse or reason, perhaps he should just leave and regardless of what everyone would think about it. If he got far enough they might never find him. He’ll never be able to come back, he knows that, but he might be able to stay out of prison. He might be able to find some help.

That’s what he’ll do.

He’ll get away.

Because he’s not going back to prison, he’s not.

He can’t.

He’s not even sure he’ll make it  to prison. Sami will probably just kill him before he gets there.

 

~

 

He’s alive.

For the first time in hours Gabi feels like she can breathe again. She’s eternally grateful to T for that simple message. Just letting you know, he’d said, Will is alive, he’s in a coma and they’re not sure when he’ll wake up, but he’s alive. She knows he’s not ok. She knows that the fact that he’s in a coma doesn’t mean he’ll be alright. He’s still alive and for now she’ll take it because there’s not much else she can do. She has to believe that he will be alright and the fact that he’s alive is helping a lot with that. She has to believe it because Ari needs him. Because she needs him. Because she couldn’t live with herself if he were to die. Because if he were to die she’d never be able to hold her daughter again.

Because it would be her fault.

She knows now that it was Nick, knows it with every fibre of her being. She can’t prove it, she hasn’t even spoken to him. But once the shock wore off a little, once she allowed herself to accept the possibility that she might be responsible for this, she realized that she just knew. Nothing else made sense. If it wasn’t Nick , then he was just really, really unlucky, to have someone attempt to kill someone he wanted out of the way at the exact moment it was best for him. And she knows that’s not what happened. She knows. It was Nick. Perhaps he’d intended to do it, planned it out in every detail, perhaps it had been an impulse, it hardly mattered. He had done this and she knows it.

There’s no way to prove it but she knows it.

And it’s her fault.

Because Nick was only in their lives because of her. She can hear Will’s voice in her head, telling her to stop blaming herself, that he doesn’t blame her. (Because that was Will ,easy to forgive, easy to tell others not to feel guilty. Even though he himself constantly feels guilty about things that are not his fault.) But she blames herself and that was enough.

He has to live.

God, please let him live.

Because she loves him. Because Ari loves him. Because if he dies she’ll never forgive herself. Because Ari will never forgive her, either.

He has to be alright because who else will protect her and Ari from Nick?

Who else?

 

 

~

 

He should have already left.

Nick knows that. He should not have lingered. He should have left the second he’d packed his bag. He knows he can’t go into town and say goodbye to anyone. Even if no one knows what he has done it seems so wrong. Even if they can’t prove it he knows, that Sami and E.J. and probably others think he has done this. E.J. and Sami won’t just wait for him to go to prison, no he won’t survive that encounter. He should leave before E.J. DiMera finds him here, he should. He can’t go to see Gabi and say goodbye to her, he can’t.

But he loves her.

He loves her and he wants to say goodbye to her. So he lingers. His packed bags were there, all he has to do is pick them up and run, but he can’t. Instead sits there, waiting to hear any news, thinking that perhaps he might still be able to talk himself out of this. Because Will isn’t dead, he hasn’t killed him, he hasn’t done that, and that is the most important part, isn’t it? Surely, the fact that Will is alive, counts for something?

He knows it doesn’t make sense, he’s not a complete idiot, he knows that the fact that he tried to kill Will is enough. But still. If he can just convince them it wasn’t him, that it was someone else, he might still be able to hold onto his old life. Except, of course, that it’s all gone, because even if he can convince everyone else Will will know. Will will remember. Will Horton will be able to tell the world that he did this.

He should go.

He gets up and grabs his bags just as someone knocks on his door.

It’s already too late.

 

~

 

He’ll make it quick.

He’ll just go to where Nick is hiding – he already knows where it is – and he’ll kill the other boy. He won’t drag the moment out. Not because he doesn’t want to, because he really, really does, but because he doesn’t have time. He shouldn’t even be doing this. It’s rule number one. If you don’t want to get caught doing something bad, something that will end with you going to prison, don’t do the illegal thing  yourself. Pick someone that can’t be connected with you, someone who understands that one never, ever betrays a DiMera, and sit back and watch the fireworks. That’s how one does not end up in prison. But he doesn’t have time to wait.

The last time he waited, William ended up in the hospital.

He will not allow anything else to happen to Sami’s son, to his step-son.

So he’ll have to do it himself, right now, it’s the only choice he has. He knows where Nick is – and he even has an alibi. He’s made sure that everyone that matters is in the hospital and he’s on his way home to check on Ali. The staff will back him up, and nobody will think he did it himself. Not a DiMera. They will look for proof that he hired someone, but they won’t find any because he didn’t.

He’ll do this now.

Today.

But when he gets to where Nick is hiding Rafe and Hope are standing in front of Nick’s door. He can’t do it with them there and he can’t wait around for them to leave.It looks like Nick will get a short reprieve.

That doesn’t mean he’ll escape.

 

~

 

Rafe was the one who said it out loud.

Hope hadn’t wanted to acknowledge the very real possibility. She had accepted it a while ago – even if she hadn’t wanted to – but she hadn’t wanted to say it. Because she should have seen how lost Nick was, how much help he needed, how dangerous he was. But she hadn’t seen it and she now has to accept that it was all true. Because if Nick had truly tried to kill Will, then she needs to arrest him and put him back in jail. She’d make sure he got help and that he’s protected from having those horrible things happen to him again, but she will not allow him to walk free. She can’t. And even if she could, even if she wanted to, she wouldn’t be able to. Rafe would never let her. Rafe is  furious because Nick was quite close to his little sister, leaving her in a lot of danger. Rafe will get Nick, if it is the last thing he does, and no matter what Hope might want or think there is no way she can get around it. But they have no evidence.

All they have is what they know. They know that Nick is dangerous, they’ve always known that. They know that Nick was losing his grip on reality, that he was losing control. They know that it was getting worse, because Marlena called to tell them about the voice mail. (She suspects the other women too thinks that Nick did this. Hell, she thinks everyone thinks that.) They also know that Nick would do anything in his power that get what he wanted, and Will was directly in the way of what he wanted the most. They know all of that. But none of that is proof. The only evidence they have is a phone call they haven’t traced yet and Will’s statement, which he hasn’t given because he’s still not awake. Still Rafe insisted they go and talk to Nick.

Perhaps the boy will confess and save them all the trouble.

 

~

 

He should have left.

If he had he would not be having this horrible conversation. When he’d heard someone at his door he’d first thought it would be E.J. DiMera and that these were his last moments on earth. Instead it was his Aunt Hope and Rafe – the man who, for a very short time, had been his brother-in-law. He’d breathed a sigh of relief. Not because he thought the conversation would be simple or not dangerous. But because no matter how angry Rafe looks and no matter how disappointed Hope is, he knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he will survive the conversation. He will not be killed by them. He knows that. But there is still the conversation to get through. And he can’t slip, he can’t let them know it was him because he will not be going to prison.

He will not return to prison.

He will not.

All he has to do is not incriminate himself. They have no proof it was him, they just think it was. He knows that because if they had any evidence they would have arrested him already. And the fact that Roman – Will’s grandfather – is not here makes him suspect that they didn’t tell anyone they were coming here. It’s pretty obvious they’re believe he did it, and when they start talking about the phone call he knows that it won’t be that long before they know for sure. They already do, but it won’t be long before they can prove it, too. He’ll have to be gone before that.

“I haven’t been anywhere but here today. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I did not hurt Will, I would never do that.”

He wonders, briefly, if he sounds as unbelievable to anyone else as he does to himself.

Is it just because he knows?

They don’t stay long – and Nick supposes the biggest stroke of luck he has is the fact that they never see his packed bags. At least he managed to hide those. He suspects if they had seen them he’d already be in cuffs. Hope is the one who tells him they will be back soon. They both know that he has done this, Nick understands, they both know, even if Hope can’t prove it right now. He wishes he could explain, but he still can’t quite explain it to himself. He’s lost, there is no way he can stay here and get what he wanted so much. He has to leave this town behind forever.

Right before he leaves Rafe turns around, looks him straight in the eyes and says: “I don’t believe you. I’m going to prove it was you, and then I will come back to arrest you. Stay away from Gabi or you’ll regret it.”

And then they’re gone.

Nick sinks down on the floor beside his bed and waits. He waits for a full half hour to pass, until he’s sure that Hope and Rafe are truly gone before he grabs his bags and leaves his home behind.

He’s lost.

He has to leave and never come back.

 

~

 

His hands are shaking.

They’ve let him into Will’s room for a few minutes even though Will needs to rest. At least they’ve let him in so that he can see him. He’s mostly grateful for it. He’s grateful for the fact that he can see Will, that despite the fact that he is pale as a ghost he can tell that Will is breathing. He can hear his heart beat. He can hold Will’s hand. But Will is pale and unmoving and it scares him, it truly, truly does. He thought last year was the worst. He’d truly, truly thought that. He’d thought the worst moments of his life were when he’d been told that Will had been shot. He’d thought that waiting period was the worst that could ever happen to him. He’d made Will promise him that would never happen again and that was that. He’d convinced himself it wouldn’t happen again and they would just go on with their lives.

It was still one of the worst moments of his life, but it was nothing compared to this.

At least Will is alive, he thinks, at least he can hold him.

He hasn’t lost him.

Not yet, not yet, not yet. He can hear it in the Daniel’s voice every time he talks to him. He’s not dead, they say. Not yet, he hears.

He won’t lose him.

He can’t lost him.

He can’t live without him, he doesn’t know how and he doesn’t want to try. He doesn’t want to find out what the world without Will will look like.

He doesn’t want to know.

Will’s heart is beating, he knows that. He’s breathing. He is not dead. Those are the things he must focus on. Will’s hand is cold in his, but he doesn’t let go. He has to hold on. Someone tells him to talk to Will, that perhaps his husband can hear him. And so he does. He talks about Ari and Gabi and all that has happened. He weaves together a happy future where they are the perfect happy family.

He imagines a world in which Will wakes and they take Arianna (and Gabi) on a holiday.

He hopes that Will can hear him.

He hopes it will wake him.

It has to.

Because he doesn’t know how to live without him.

 

~

 

The world is no longer dark.

He’s no longer floating, either. Or, perhaps he’d never been floating. Perhaps he’d always been falling, or flying (though he doesn’t think he was doing that at the end). It doesn’t matter what he was doing in that darkness back then, he’s no longer doing it now. He’s not sure where he is, though. Well, he knows where he is. He’s in his and Sonny’s apartment, though it’s completely empty. The furniture is there and all of their stuff is scattered around, but he’s the only one in it. He can’t even hear anything besides his own breathing. Most importantly there is no door, no way of getting out of this place. So he knows where he is, but he doesn’t know how he got there or how to get back home.

Perhaps he is dead, perhaps this is whatever comes next.

Is he supposed to wait for the people he loves?

That would just be horrible.

There’s nothing he can do but sit here and wait, though. He’s already looked through the entire place and tried to open every window but there is no way out. So he waits. He looks around and he waits for some sign that he is not dead, that there is some way for him to get back to Sonny and Ari. And then he hears it. It’s Sonny’s voice. He can’t hear what he’s saying, it’s too distant, too soft, for him to be able to distinguish any of the words.

But it is Sonny’s voice.

And that means something.

 

Chapter Text

The longer Will’s in a coma the less likely he’ll wake up.

That’s what they keep telling him.

Sonny tries to ignore them, tries to ignore the very real possibility that his husband might never wake up. But it’s almost impossible. At first it’s just the doctors, gently trying to prepare him for the possibility. But as one week and then two pass him by, even his family has joined in. The longer he’s in a coma the less likely he’ll wake up. They want him to wake up, and they never stop him from going to the hospital, but they all also point out that he must take care of himself. He must eat and sleep and work because when – they still say when even if he can tell that some of them are starting to think if –  he wakes he’ll need him to be strong. Will will need their life to still be right on track. And he does what they say, not because he thinks they’re right – he honestly thinks he should be in the hospital just in case Will wakes up – but because he doesn’t want to fight with them.

He doesn’t have the energy.

Even he’s beginning to think that Will might never wake up. He tries to ignore it, but it’s harder to do the more time passes. He and Gabi and T have a system. One of them is always in the hospital, so that if Will were to wake up he won’t be alone. But even that is getting harder and harder. It’s only been two weeks but it feels like it has been two years. But they have to keep going like everything is normal because Ari is so young and she needs them. She keeps crying for her daddy and they can’t give her what she wants. Hearing her cry is heart-breaking.

He still can’t believe that Nick did this.

He believes it was him, he does. But in all honesty it never occurred to him that this could happen. He knew that Nick was dangerous, that the other man was going to destroy their life. He knew that Nick hated them, he knew that. But still it had never occurred to him that they could be in actual physical danger. It should have, considering all he had done in the past and because of what he had tried to do to Gabi, but for some reason it hadn’t. It hadn’t occurred to him to protect Will more, it hadn’t occurred to him that allowing Will to talk to Nick alone might be this dangerous. So he hadn’t stopped him, he’d allowed his husband, the love of his life, to walk into a dangerous situation all alone. And all that time the gun was in his bag, where it could not protect anyone. Gabi might blame herself – and if he’s honest a part of him blames her, too, but they can’t afford to have that fight right now – but she’s not the only one at fault here.

They all must share some blame.

He can’t even ask Nick why he did this. He can’t even go to prison to talk to Nick, to say all the things that he wants to say. They can’t even feel safe. Because Nick was never arrested. He was never taken into custody because by the time that Hope and Rafe got enough evidence, Nick had already left town. It was a clear admission of guilt, that was true, but he was still gone. He’d even gone to ask both E.J. and his uncle if they had perhaps done something to Nick – if only because that would make him feel safer – but both said the same thing: they hadn’t seen Nick or done anything to him, and they don’t know where he is.

Maybe he won’t come back. Maybe Nick will be smart enough to stay out of their life forever.

Maybe Will will wake up soon.

He has too, right?

~

 

This time he is dreaming.

He’s not asleep. Since he got stabbed and he has not woken up yet – at least he thinks he has not, dreams can be weird, after all – he suspects he’s in some kind of coma. That doesn’t mean he’s not dreaming. But it’s a strange dream. It’s like every possible life he could have ever lived, and every moment he’s ever lived, and everything that can still happen to him is trying to play out around him at the same time. It’s strange and surreal and the world around him flickers constantly, but he feels like he’s a part of all of them.

Sometimes he’s Austin son, the truth of who his father was never having been discovered. Sometimes he’s really Austin’s son. Sometimes his father is Lucas, but Lucas is a horrible person. Sometimes his mother is still married to Brandon, sometimes it’s E.J., sometimes it’s Franco. Sometimes he and Gabi are married and have a daughter. In some worlds Ari exists and in others she does not. Sometimes he and Sonny are happy together, sometimes they are not. In one world Sonny never forgives him, in another he never lies. Sometimes someone he loves is dead. Sometimes he’s the one who’s dead.

Dozens and dozens of worlds all trying to be the dominating one.

He feels like he belongs in all of them and none of them at the same time. He knows all the details in every single one of them, but they never hang around long enough to make him feel safe. They’re never completely clear and they’re always moving on. They’re never there long enough to be clear enough to convince him that he is not sleeping, but actually awake. He’s always missing somethin. In every single world there is something he truly loves that he does not have. He supposes that’s the way life is. True perfection cannot truly exist. If he gets one thing that he truly wants there is something that did not happen. He’s always missing something.

Sometimes he hears voices.

Voices that sound like the people he loves, sound like the people that surround him, but he knows they’re not the ones talking.

He wishes he could answer them.

And then one day he finds himself in a world where he and Sami are all alone. There’s nobody else there, and for the first time Will has no idea what world he is in or what has happened to all the other people he loves. Instead, he and Sami are playing board games in his apartment. Eventually she looks at him and says, time to go.

Yes, he thinks, it really is, isn’t it.

The world finally fades back into black.

 

~

 

He’d almost given up.

A lot of other people have given up. Not Will’s parents, because they probably can’t, and not Gabi, because she can’t either. But a lot of other people have. He can’t even say he doesn’t understand, Will has been in a coma for about a month now, after all. Everybody keeps telling him that everything will be alright, that he’ll feel better soon, but it never happens. Instead he lives his life as best he can, and spent all his free time either with Ari or in the hospital. But even though he didn’t want to, even though he wanted to hang on forever, he has to admit that even he was starting to give up.

And then, on a random day, Will suddenly moves his hand and whispers ‘Sonny’.

For the first time in a month Sonny can breathe again.

 

~

 

Whe is told he was out for a month he at first doesn’t believe them.

It’s just so unbelievable.

What scares him is the knowledge that Nick is still out there somewhere. The other man has not returned or contacted anyone – not even Aunt Julie – but he is out there somewhere. Perhaps he truly feels guilty and he is never going to return, but Will still doesn’t feel safe. He almost wants to ask Sonny that he move himself and Ari and Gabi into the Kiriakas mansion, but he never says it out loud. He’s grateful that he’s at least survived this somehow, that everything is alright.

That he got his life back.

Sonny is there all the time, every second he spends at the hospital recuperating. Everyone else visits, comes and goes, and they never say it but considering how long he was out he knows that several of them believed that he was not going to wake up. He doesn’t hold it against them.

His favourite moment is the first time he holds Ari again.

Everything would be alright now.

 

~

 

Will sees it later, much, much later.

He’s not sure whether Sonny hid it from him. It’s possible, he supposes, but if he didn’t want him to know, then why did Will find it? Considering all the cards and flowers he got he suspects it just got lost in the madness. He’s already home and they’re already moving on from all that has happened by the time he finds it.

It’s a note from Nick.

He’s not sure how Nick got the note to him. There is no way that Nick got into the hospital and even less of a chance that he got into his room. It could have happened, he supposes, but that would be almost impossible. He probably sent it in with flowers and the nurses didn’t think twice about putting them in his room. The note must have gotten lost over time because he never saw it before now.

Will

I’m sorry.

I’m not coming back.

Forgive me.

He never tells anyone but Sonny that he found the note. He’s not sure why. It’s not important, the note doesn’t mean a damn thing. It’s not going to help them find Nick. So he ignores he found it and just moves on with his life. He hopes that Nick didn’t lie when he said he wouldn’t come back. At least he’s smart enough to realize he probably wouldn’t survive that.

He doesn’t throw away the note though.

He doesn’t know why.

Maybe though, maybe he’ll be able to forgive him someday.

Maybe.

 

~

 

The sea is calm and beautiful.

He’s always preferred the sight of mountains over the beach, but Ari’s much too young for a holiday like that, and Will isn’t in shape yet to take the trip they’d talked about so long ago. Plus, they hadn’t wanted to leave Ari or Gabi behind in Salem. They’re sitting on the beach together. Gabi is lying on a chair, reading a book – well supposedly, she keeps looking at Ari every five seconds so Sonny doesn’t think she’s even read a word. He and Will are sitting on the sand, side by side, Will leaning against him, both looking at their little girl playing in the sand before them.

This is his life now.

And it’s perfect.

It always will be.

 

~

 

Later much, much later, Will writes two words on Nick’s note.

 

Forgive me.

 

I do.