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Fall Away

Chapter Text

 

I'm dying and I'm trying 

But believe me I'm fine

But I'm lying

I'm so very far from fine

And I

I can feel the pull begin

Feel my conscience wearing thin

And my skin

It will start to break up and fall apart

 

Waylon Park had problems. No one would deny that. You could see it from a mile away. The way he never looked up, the constant shaking of his nervous hands as he worried about anything and everything. He never ate anymore, his anxiety so severe that the very idea made him feel sick with panic. Waylon was also cloaked in a mass of depression. He could hardly get up in the morning, his only motivation being the very real threat of physical abuse. Every morning was met with his dad bursting through the door, yelling and calling him a little pig.

Waylon's mother hadn't been around in years. When Waylon was old enough to take the beatings, she drove off and never came back. So every morning repeated, a depressing cycle of anxiety and torture and despair. Waylon hated it, but he couldn't escape. He was trapped, at 17 years old he was forced to be completely reliant on his father, he wasn't allowed to work, and Waylon often was forced to spend what little money he got from his father on necessities like generic soap and shampoo. He didn't have anywhere to flee to either, no safe place where he could let his guard down. Even if he had friends that could shelter him, Waylon wouldn't put them at risk, he wasn't sure how far his father's violence would go.

As every other day goes, Waylon quietly groans as his dad rips the blankets off of him, letting the chill of the room attack his arms and legs. Waylon wonders for a second when the last time his father bothered to turn the heat on. Waylon didn't dare risk touching the thermostat. At least Waylon had an abundance of thick hoodies. 

"Get up little pig. You have twenty minutes to make me some breakfast before I beat your ass," his dad spits angrily. Surprisingly he doesn't smack Waylon around as a little "motivation". He does, however, slam the door so hard that it rattles in it's frame.

Waylon didn't understand how a person could be so angry and filled with hatred and bitterness. But he was in no position to be questioning the world. He throws his legs over the bed and stands up shakily.

When was the last time I ate?

Waylon thinks to himself as he stretches. Black dots start to speck his vision and he immediately feels dizzy. Falling back a few steps, Waylon grips the footboard to help balance himself as he waits for room to quit spinning. 

When Waylon finally recovers, he goes to his dresser to change out of his sweats, pulling on jeans and a black hoodie. When he walks downstairs he has to catch his breath at the bottom, immediately feeling faint from the flight of stairs. Waylon thinks about how his body surely must be starting to fail from years of malnutrition, and while he doesn't necessarily want to die, he has heavily considered that at this point it was probably the only way he'd ever get away from his father. It's a bittersweet thought, but Waylon just tries to focus on the sweetness as it spreads across his brain, the idea of him laying in a coffin, slowly being lowered. The sound of the shower upstairs reminds Waylon that he has a job to do. He can't slowly wither away into nothingness if his dad pummels him to death first.

In the kitchen, Waylon starts some eggs and pops some toast into the toaster. As he stirs the eggs he thinks about going to school today. His last block is gym. Their usual teacher is out recovering from foot surgery so a sub is filling in. Subs always mean dodge ball. Stomach acid burns the back of his throat. Suddenly his stomach is churning as Waylon sprints for the toilet, the stomach acid filling his mouth. He leans over the toilet for a few minutes, his whole body convulsing as he violently wretches, despite nothing coming up. Finally it stops, and Waylon sighs, leaning back against the wall and slowly sliding down the wall, wiping the thin layer of sweat off of his forehead. He starts shaking weakly as he sits there, but it passes after a few minutes.

There's no way my body can survive much more than a few days of this, Waylon thinks as he stands back up and walks over to the sink.

As he attempts to rinse the bitter taste out of his mouth he almost laughs. Just a normal day for Waylon Park. When he walks back to the kitchen the eggs have started to burn.

"Shit shit shit," he mutters to himself as he runs to the stove and turns off the heat. As if on cue, he hears the booming of his father's footsteps behind him. Immediately Waylon starts to shake and look down at the ground, wishing he could shrink, run away, escape under the stove.

"Can you do anything right, you absolute fuck up!" He shouts, slamming his fist onto the counter. Waylon can't find his breath. He stands there, trying his best not to hyperventilate.

"Look me in the eye, you little pig! You're an absolute disgrace!"

"I'm sorry, sir. I d-didn't mean t-to burn the eggs."

"Sorry isn't good enough! I'm going to be late for work because of you," his dad growls as he shoves Waylon back.

"Y-you could h-have made it yourself, s-sir," Waylon managed to reply.

"What did you say, you ungrateful shit? I go to work everyday so your ungrateful ass can have food and a house and clothes. I pay for the gas in your truck and you can't make me a damn breakfast."

"I'm sorry s-sir. I-I didn't m-mean to be ungrateful f-for what you've done." Waylon's stutter continues to worsen as he starts to hyperventilate. His dad smacks him hard in the face.

"You will listen to me!" He yells as he shoves Waylon down to the ground. His back smacks into the linoleum floor first, and the wind is knocked out of him. Waylon panics, his ability to breath gone.

"You will respect me!" His boot slams into Waylon's side.

"You will obey what I say no matter what!" He kicks Waylon in the stomach once more before storming out of the house. Waylon lays on the ground, trying to suck in small breaths, not daring to move until he hears his dad's car start up and pull from the house. As soon as the engine fades he curls up into a ball and starts to cry.

He remains on the floor for a few minutes until the shaking stops and he can manage full but shaky breaths. When he sits up from the ground his abdomen screams out in pain. Waylon carefully lifts his shirt up to reveal sickly purple bruises already forming across his hollow skin. Waylon cringes, seeing his skin stretched so thinly across his ribs and hips. Absolutely no fat, just pure flesh and bone. It's sickly, no it's deathly. Waylon forgets his pain for a minute as he considers that this is just one more sign that he's dying. 

 

At school, he can hardly concentrate, he's so exhausted and his entire stomach pulses with his heartbeat where the bruises are. At least his dad avoided his face this time. Suspicious looks made Waylon nervous. If someone told the school, the school would contact his father, and his father would react by beating Waylon to a pulp.

Waylon starts to drift off, his head resting in his arms. Somebody taps him on the shoulder and he practically jumps out of his skin. Waylon looks around quickly and settles down, realizing he is safe in his classroom.

"Mr. Park, please stay after class. I need to speak with you," Mr. Smith says from the front of the room. A few kids "ooh" and Waylon just looks down at his desk and taps his pen against his thigh.

When the bell rings, he remains seated at the desk, hoping Mr. Smith will walk over to him instead. Mr. Smith stays at his desk for a few moments as well before sighing and walking over to Waylon.

"Have you been eating okay?"

It's not the question that Waylon is excepting.

"What... What do you m-mean?" he asks nervously.

"I mean, are you getting enough to eat. You're rather thin. I'm worried about you." Mr. Smith says.

"I'm fine," Waylon replies after a moment, thrown completely off guard. "I'm just... I'm just never really hungry."

"Do you know what anorexia is, Waylon?"

"N-not really, sir."

"It's when a person isn't eating enough and they get too thin. There are lots of reasons for it. Stress, anxiety, perfectionism, abuse, depression. You seem rather distant in my class but somehow you get a's on all tests. I've checked your other classes as well. Straight a student. Do you feel a lot of pressure? A lot of stress?"

Waylon can't breath anymore. He just taps his fingers nervously against his thigh and stares at the carpet. Someone lost an earring. It's all bent and crumpled, it must have been there, unnoticed, for a few days now.

"Waylon, I want you to try to relax more. I want you to accept that perfect doesn't exist. It's just an idea. I think it will do you some good." Mr. Smith says, tilting his head to look at Waylon.

He just sits there for a moment, scared and unsure.

Anorexia? Isn't that what teen girls get when they think they're fat?

Finally Mr. Smith dismisses him and Waylon practically sprints out of the room.

He hadn't eaten a full meal in a long time. Waylon tries to remember when he really felt full, running his fingers along the light salmon colored lockers. The colors of the school were very poorly chosen.

It occurs to Waylon that his last full meal was when his mother was still in his life. Six years since he ate an entire meal that warmed up his stomach and left him feeling almost sleepy. Since then, his meals were small and pathetic, if he ate anything at all. Doing all the jobs around the house on his own and keeping up with all his homework left little room for eating.

Waylon continues to tap his fingers against the lockers absent mindedly, until his mental auto pilot walks him to gym. He starts to shake again when he remembers it's dodge ball today. He breathes faster and digs his pointer finger nail into the top of his thumb as he struggles to push open the large doors to the gym. Waylon starts to feel dizzy again as he walks to the locker rooms.

When was the last time I ate anything?

The question repeats in Waylon's mind as he quickly pulls off his jeans and yanks on his basketball shorts before someone has a chance to make comments on how skeletal his legs are. The rapid movements disturb the bruises on Waylon's stomach and they start to throb once again. 

Last week on Tuesday. His dad had woken up half an hour late. Waylon made his dad eggs and bacon like usual but when they were finished his dad had already stormed out of the house. Waylon managed half a piece of bacon and a small bite of the eggs. Today's Thursday, making it nine days since he had had anything to eat.

He shivers a bit, the locker rooms always several degrees colder than the rest of the school. He wonders how much warmer he'd feel with some actual fat on his body. As Waylon pulls off his hoodie he notices once again just how close to death he looked. It was a miracle his dad hadn't broken a bone yet. Even with a shirt and shorts on, you could see that Waylon was a walking skeleton. You could tell that he was severely sick. Waylon thinks about how much of a joke it is that he hasn't been reported to the school counselor. 

 

When he gets into the gym students are already breaking off into the two groups. The sub is an old man, they've had him before.

"Get into equal teams, line the balls in the center, start when I blow the whistle, yada yada, you know the drill." He says before taking a seat on the bleachers.

Waylon sighs and starts twitching once more. He awkwardly stands there, unsure of which team to join. A few students stare at him as the last students join teams. One of the jocks speaks up.

"Hey, Park, there's an odd number. Pick whatever team and move your ass," he shouts. A few kids start to laugh.

Waylon starts to twitch again and looks between the teams awkwardly.

"I-I don't know," Waylon barely manages to say, folding his arms and pressing his nails into his arms. The jock groans and rolls his eyes.

"Alright, scrawny, get over on this team if it's really that hard to pick," he replies. More kids continue to laugh.

Waylon gets dizzy again as he walks over and stumbles a bit. He immediately makes his way to the back of the gym, where a few other kids have gone to hide. The emos and the overweight. That's where Waylon always went to hide. The jocks have their hands hovering over the balls as they wait for the whistle to blow. The loud whistle pierces Waylon's ears and he can't help but cringe.

Red, yellow, green and orange balls go flying back and forth across the gym as kids scream and shout at each other. Waylon stands in the corner shaking slightly, partially because he's freezing and partially because of all the projectiles flying across the gym.

"Participation is mandatory. You will be getting a grade," the sub shouts, looking directly at Waylon.

Grades don't really matter when you're a ticking time bomb. Probably won't even be here the next time you sub, I'll buried in some graveyard, my tombstone barren of any flowers and the marble slowly weathering away as the years pass.

The thought is more morbid than his others have been, but that doesn't stop Waylon from playing the image of his skeleton in a box over and over again in his head. He could continue to stand there and imagine what it'll be like when his heart stops, but he doesn't feel like picking a fight with the coach.

Waylon carefully steps forward to a stray, rolling ball. He waits until it stops rolling to pick it up. As he bends over his head starts to spin. Standing up straight, black starts to speck his vision once again. He squeezes the ball as he squeezes his eyes shut. He takes a few steps forward, starting to sway.

"Hey, look out!" Waylon hears someone shout. He quickly opens his eyes in time for a red ball to smack him in the face.

Waylon cries out as he completely loses his balance and falls back, his head hitting the ground first. The sound echoes through the gym with a sickly thud.

Waylon can't open his eyes, the entire world feels like it's spinning at full speed. His stomach starts to churn and he rolls onto his side and vomits up some stomach acid.

"Dude, gross you made the kid puke," someone shouts from across the gym. Some students have started laughing.

Waylon continues to cough as the burn in his throat increases. He rolls back onto his back and feels something warm running down his face.

"Nasty, his nose is gushing blood," a female voice yells, the voice closer.

Did she say gushing?

Waylon manages to open his eyes as he wipes his face. His eyes are assaulted by the fluorescent lights, which increase the throbbing of his head. As his vision focuses, he sees his fingers covered in blood. The sight makes Waylon's stomach turn and suddenly the lights start to dim as he falls unconscious.

Chapter Text

Living like a ghost you walk by everyone you know

You say that you're fine but you have lost your sway and glow

So I stopped by to let you know

Friend, please remove your hands from

Over your eyes for me

 

When Waylon wakes up the first thing he notices is the pounding at the back of his skull. He can't help but cry out in pain, his headache growing. The pain sends a wave a nausea through his stomach and he quickly opens his eyes to search for a waste bin. His eyes take too long to adjust and Waylon can't help but puke onto the floor. When his already empty and shrinking stomach is relieved of the acid, Waylon coughs a few times and lays back down on the bed. His hospital gown makes a crinkling noise.

Why am I in the hospital?

Waylon immediately starts to panic, looking around his room desperately. He can hear his heart monitor start to beep rapidly. Suddenly the door is flung open and a nurse rushes in.

"Are you okay?" She asks as she rushes over to the vitals machine.

"I-I yes, I feel, I-I can't, breath," Waylon manages to say, shaking and grabbing at his collar bones.

"Okay, Waylon, you're having a panic attack, I need you to focus on your breathing. Waylon, try taking a deep breath for me," the nurse says calmly.

"I-it, it feels like I c-can't," Waylon says.

"Waylon, I need you to tell me five things you can see in this room right now, can you do that for me?" She asks, kneeling down to be eye level with him.

"I, I can see the walls, they-they're really white. I-I can see the door," suddenly visions of his dad bursting into his room fill his mind. Waylon tries to cover his ears as he hears his dad yelling at him. "I can't, I can't do this m-miss."

Waylon starts to shake, pulling his knees into his chest. He can't help but cry as his breathing quickens. He feels the nurses hand on his shoulder.

"Please don't hit me, I'm sorry!" Waylon shouts, now shaking violently.

"Dad I'm sorry, please!" He shrieks as his dad kicks him in his stomach. Waylon is lying on the kitchen floor. His heart is pounding. His dad is suddenly on him and smacking him across the face.

"Please you don't have to do this! Dad I'll be better I promise!" Waylon pleads as his dad punches him in the lip.

"You little pig!" His dad shouts as he hits Waylon in the face one last time before getting up and leaving the kitchen.

Waylon curls into a ball and continues to sob, trying his best to keep breathing when he starts to hear another voice.

"...I know this feels real to you, Waylon, but you are in the hospital. You are safe. Your dad isn't here. My name is Miss Namera, I'm your nurse. Doctor Green will be here shortly. I need you to try to listen to my voice. My voice is real, I'm right here, I'm right next to you. You are safe, Waylon. I promise that you are safe."

Mrs. Namera's calm voice helps soothe Waylon as he realizes he is not in his kitchen and his dad is nowhere near him. He can still feel his heart pounding in his chest, the feeling confirmed by the rapid beeping of the heart monitor.

"I can see the curtains. They're such an ugly shade of y-yellow," Waylon manages after a moment. Mrs. Namera let's out a small chuckle.

"The curtains are quite ugly, aren't they?" She replies. Waylon let's out a small and shaky laugh. "Can you tell me two more things you see while we wait for Doctor Green to get here?"

"I can, I can see the pattern on these blankets and on my hospital gown. They're a little confusing. And I can see the painting of mountains on-on the wall." Waylon feels his breathing evening out and his heartbeat calming down.

"Good job. Now what about four things you can feel?" She asks in her bright voice.

"I can feel my hands, the-the skin is kind of dry. And I-I can feel the cushion of the hospital bed underneath me. I can feel the back of my head hurting a lot. And, and I can feel the papery fabric of this hospital gown against my stomach and legs." Waylon's chest no longer feels as heavy. He can actually breath.

"You're doing very well, Waylon. Now I need you to tell me three things you can hear, can you try that for me?"

"I can hear the heart monitor. It's not beeping so fast anymore, so I guess I'm calmer now. I can hear the scratchy crinkly noises of the blankets and the hospital gown. And I can kind of hear the beating of my heart. It feels kinda like it's in my head."

"Don't worry, you hit your head pretty hard, that's normal. This one may not be as easy, but what about two things you can smell?"

Waylon brings his blanket up to his nose, letting out a small laugh.

"It smells like the generic laundry detergent," Waylon says after a moment. He pauses and concentrates on what he can smell. The soft smell of roses lingers around Mrs. Namera. "I can sorta smell your perfume. It's nice."

"How are you feeling now Waylon?" She asks nicely.

"I'm feeling a lot better. I still feel kinda shaky," Waylon says, pulling the blankets up closer to his chin. "Do you think maybe, maybe I can get another blanket? I-I'm kinda cold," he says, shivering a bit.

As he finishes talking, there's a quiet knock on the door before a man walks in. Waylon can't help but notice how attractive he is. Immediately he feels his cheeks get hot.

Woah, that's a little creepy, Way. But damn....

Waylon quickly looks down to his hands and rubs his left thumb over his right thumb nail, feeling the slight bumps along the smooth nail.

"I'll go ahead and grab a few blankets while you talk to Doctor Green, okay?" She asks as she stands up. Waylon nods his head slowly, starting to feel nervous once again.

"So, how are we doing today, Waylon?" He asks as he sits on the foot of the bed.

"I-I'm kind of cold, and I feel really shaky. Miss Namera told me I was having a panic attack, but, but I think it turned into flashbacks, b-but I don't know." Waylon's heart monitor starts to beep rapidly once again.

"It's okay, Waylon, we're gonna get you feeling better, how does that sound? You seem like you're pretty anxious, I can get you something to help you calm down if you'd like." Doctor Green says as he starts to look through Waylon's chart.

"What do you m-mean, like, like medication for it, or?"

"Yeah, we can get you some hydroxyzine. That's the generic name for vistaril, it's a sedative used to treat anxiety, and it starts working within fifteen to thirty minutes. Do you want to try that? You can order some dinner too, that way you're not taking it on an empty stomach."

"I-I don't, I don't know. I've, I've never h-had any meds for anything before. I, will it do anything or, or will it, I don't know," Waylon stutters nervously. He'd never taken anything for anything before except for ibuprofen.

"Don't worry, Waylon. My job is to get you feeling better. If you're experiencing a lot of anxiety, right now medication is the best option. We want you feeling better so we can look at treatment options."

Waylon is about to ask what Doctor Green means by treatment options when Mrs. Namera knocks on the door and comes in with several blankets. He hasn't even thought about what he'll do. His dad will be furious. He doesn't even know how long he's been here. Does his dad know? Is he missing class right now?

"How long have I been here?" Waylon asks as Mrs. Namera unfolds the blankets and places them over Waylon.

"You've been here since Thursday afternoon, and today is Saturday, making it 2 days. Why do you ask?" Doctor Green asks as he sets Waylon's chart down.

"I was asleep for two days?" Waylon asks, his jaw dropping a little.

"We can discuss this further after you've spoken to a social worker and we do a little psych evaluation. I'm going to get you some vistaril and some water. You just focus on staying relaxed and keeping your anxiety low," he replies as he sits up and starts to leave the room. Mrs. Namera finishes checking Waylon's vitals, which are stable despite a low blood pressure, before leaving to go check on other patients.

After a little she comes back in with an IV stand as well as a bag filled with a clear liquid.

"Okay Waylon, we need to get an IV started to get your body filled back with nutrients. Which hand would you prefer to have the needle in?" She asks as she connects the tubes and brings the IV stand next to Waylon's bed.

"My left, I guess," he says, stretching his arm out and looking away. Needles didn't bother him too much, he just couldn't stand to look at the needle going in.

"Alright, it's gonna feel a little cold as I clean your hand," she says as she wipes in down. Waylon gets goosebumps. She starts feeling around for veins before gently pushing the needle in. Waylon cringes as it pierces through his skin. "There we go. I hate to keep poking you with needles, but we also need to draw some blood so that we can run some tests."

Waylon just shrugs his shoulders and sticks out his right arm as Mrs. Namera walks over to the right side of the bed. Another doctor comes in.

"Are you almost done, Namera?" she asks as she brings in a large cart with a few tubes hanging off the edges.

"Yep, I just need to draw some blood and then I'll be out of here," Mrs. Namera replies. "Alright Waylon, get ready for a small pinch."

After getting an EKG done, Doctor Green comes back in with a tray of food.

"I figured you must be starving so I ran to the cafeteria and got you some food. Grilled cheese and tomato soup and some fries, I hope that's okay," he says, pushing the cart over Waylon's bed. Waylon just nods. "That little white pill in the cup is some hydroxyzine, if you want to go ahead and take that. Now, we need to discuss your diagnoses. Are you up to that?"

"I guess," Waylon replies after taking the pill and drinking most of the water brought to him. He hadn't realized how thirsty he had gotten.

"Your weight is dangerously low, Waylon. Your heart is extremely weak. Do you know why that is?"

"I-I guess I just don't like to eat. When I try, it makes me sick, so I don't, I don't really eat anymore," Waylon says nervously.

"You seem to be suffering from a lot of anxiety as well, and you displayed some signs of post traumatic stress disorder earlier. Miss Namera said that during your flashbacks you were talking to your dad. Does he ever abuse you?" He asks, sitting down on the edge of Waylon's bed.

Waylon starts to feel his cheeks get hot, and his eyes start to well up with tears. He immediately looks down and away. He draws his knees up to his chest and hugs them close, slowly bringing his left hand up, careful not to tug on the needle.

"Waylon, you can talk to me. We already notified child protective services when we saw the large bruises on your stomach, we just need to know what exactly your dad has been doing to you."

"He..." Waylon tries to talk but the words feels incredibly heavy in his throat. A sob forces its way out and suddenly Waylon is sobbing into his hands. Doctor Green hands him a tissue.

"I'm here to listen, this is a safe place to talk about what has happened."

"He hits me a lot," Waylon manages to say between the tears. "His t-temper is bad. He shoves me, he shoves me down onto the ground. He-he likes to kick me in the stomach and sometimes I can't breath. He always yells, a-and it's my job to do all the chores, so, so I don't have time to eat cause I-I also have homework," Waylon starts shaking again and then says, "Doctor Green, I'm scared of him," before sobbing once again.

Doctor Green writes a few notes down before he says anything.

"Can I see the bruises?" He asks, setting down his clipboard. Waylon slowly nods before pushing the blankets down and slowly lifting up his hospital gown. "These are pretty severe. It's fortunate you don't have a fractured or broken rib. I can't do much more except help look for facilities. It's up to child protective services to investigate your case. We believe you need to be hospitalized so that you can recover, and there you will be safe while your case progresses, and there will be 24/7 staff to help you through it. Right now we have three possibilities that we're looking into for you."

The rest of the night Waylon spent talking to a half dozen other people. Many times he had to speak about the abuse, including child protective services and two police officers. He had to write a report, which was much easier for him than speaking about it.

Waylon had started writing on a few blank pieces of paper, things he noticed, how he felt. He even managed a few spoonfuls of tomato soup and two french fries before his stomach told him no more.

As Waylon continues to write details and notes about his hospital room, Mrs. Namera walks in.

"How are you holding up?" She asks. Waylon gives a half hearted nod. "We have a few things to discuss. You're going to be eighteen in a month and a half, and given your circumstances, you are going to be the one signing the release papers. Because you are still a minor, you cannot sign yourself out of the hospital, or the facility you are going to, but you can sign yourself in, and when your treatment team at the facility believes you are healthy, safe, and no longer a danger to yourself, you will be able to sign releases and leave the facility. Does that make sense?"

"So, I'm going to a facility no matter what? What if I refuse to sign?" Waylon asks. He doesn't want to be sent to some mental hospital.

"If you refuse to sign, we will bring your case to a judge and get an okay to send you to the facility against your will, I'm sorry that it sounds harsh. It would take a few days, but you'd still be sent to Mount Massive Recovery. That's the best place we found for you. Are you okay with signing these release forms?" She asks, moving Waylon's dinner tray and placing the papers and a pen in front of him.

"It sounds as if I don't have a choice," Waylon mumbles. He's a little surprised that his anxiety hasn't totally spiked. Maybe the vistaril was actually working. Waylon starts to sign the papers.

"The place is really nice, Waylon. I think you'll like it there. My husband is one of the behavioral health advocates there, Frank Namera. Because your vitals are relatively stable, and your heart is responding positively to the nutrients in the IV, you'll be sent there some time early morning, whenever the EMTs are ready for you. The facility handles a lot of different cases, most patients have depression, anxiety, or are suffering with suicidal ideation. There are a few people who are there for eating disorders as well, so you don't have to worry about standing out.

"There is one small other thing we need to discuss. The facility's adolescent unit is full, so you'll be on the adult unit. Since your close to being eighteen, it won't matter too much anyway."

"So I'm going to be with a bunch of crazy adults?" Waylon asks, shocked.

"Don't worry," she responds, chuckling slightly, "like I said, it's mostly cases with depression and anxiety, not patients suffering from dementia or delusions. Many of the patients there are younger than forty. You'll be safe there."

When Waylon finishes signing the papers, Mrs. Namera leaves to bring them to the doctor in charge of discharge. Waylon lays back in his bed and looks at the clock on the wall. 12:03. As if on cue, Waylon yawns. At least everyone was done talking to him. Waylon reclines his bed and curls up, falling asleep almost instantly. Waylon doesn't dream, which is a welcome change.

Waylon wakes up a few hours later to a soft voice. He's a little startled while he remembers where he is.

"Hello Waylon, I'm Derek. Miss Namera left about two hours ago, I'm one of the over night nurses. The EMTs are almost ready to take you to Mount Massive Recovery. They're gonna bring a few more release papers to sign and then they'll take you down to the ambulance. It'll be about a thirty minute drive," he says as Waylon sits up.

"What time is it?" Waylon asks as he rubs his eyes. He accidentally moves the needle and yelps. "And when can I get this out?"

"It's 3:17. We can go ahead and take that out right now if you want. Just so you know, when you get to the facility, if you have troubles eating, they will have to use a feeding tube to make sure you keep getting nutrients to your heart and muscles."

Waylon just nods and sticks his hand out, desperate to get the needle out. When the needle is pulled out, a drop of blood beads. The sight makes Waylon a little queasy, and he has to look away as Derek puts a cotton ball over it and then a bandaid.

"Can I use the restroom?" Waylon asks, suddenly really needing to pee.

" Yeah, of course, it's just behind the door in the corner. Make sure you go into the plastic hat, you've had a lot of fluids pumped into you so we just need to make sure it's passed through."

Waylon is a little shaky standing up, taking careful steps to the bathroom. When he's finished, the EMTs are waiting in the room.

"We just need you to sign for discharge and then we'll be good to go. Are you hungry at all, do you need anything to drink?" The female EMT asks as she hands Waylon a clipboard and pen.

"Could, could I maybe get some tea. I don't know if that's okay, b-but I'm kinda cold," Waylon replies, sitting on the bed and looking for where to sign on the papers.

"I can go grab some for you real quick," Derek says. "What kind would you like?"

"Herbal tea, maybe, if you could, something citrus."

When Derek returns with a styrofoam coffee cup, Waylon gratefully takes a sip. His entire body has started to feel cold, no longer shielded by layers of blankets. The EMTs then lead Waylon down the hall and to the elevator. There are a few doctors in the halls and Waylon awkwardly pulls his hospital gown tight, grateful its open in the front and not the back, making it easier to keep closed.

The ride in the ambulance goes by quickly for Waylon, and soon they're pulling up to gates. The EMT who is driving rolls down his window to speak to the person in charge of the gates. Just as quickly as they pulled up, they drive through the gates. Waylon starts to feel knots in his stomach, and takes another sip of his tea in hopes that it will calm his nerves.

The cold morning air bites at Waylon's bare arms and legs and he can't help but shiver. They walk to the front door and one of the EMTs presses the button on the intercom to be let in. Luckily the inside is warm. The EMTs talk to one of the staff but Waylon doesn't listen, instead looking around the front room nervously. The white walls and fluorescent lights seem like a bad attempt to make this place seem cheerful.

"I'm Frank, I'm one of the staff on the adult unit. If you're ready, we can go ahead and take you back there for a quick examination and then get you into your room. I imagine you're tired," Frank says, waving to the EMTs before walking to the right. Waylon follows, continuing to look around at the bad paintings on the wall and the poor lighting choices.

The examination is quick enough, Frank waves a metal detector to make sure Waylon isn't bringing anything dangerous onto the unit, and looks through Waylon's hair to check for lice. Waylon is a little embarrassed to have his hair searched, considering he hadn't showered in days and his hair had now gotten quite greasy. Frank hands Waylon a white shirt and some grey sweats as well as some hospital socks to change into and leaves the room to give him privacy.

"Your roommate is probably awake right now. Name's Eddie. He likes to get up early to get ready. The kid's a good guy, just a few years older than you. The rules here are pretty simple, no giving out personal information, no damaging property, no cursing, no shouting, go to groups everyday. What are you here for?" Frank asks as they leave the examination area. He swipes his card by a black box and the doors unlock, leading to the rest of the unit. The nurses station is to the right as you walk in with three halls stemming right, left, and straight ahead, with a group room between the right and middle hall and a day room between the left and middle hall.

"Uh, anxiety and anorexia I guess," Waylon replies shyly.

"Well, everyone gets meal checks, and if you eat less than fifty percent, you get "boosted". Basically you get a second chance to make up the meal with a Boost supplement drink. If you refuse meal supplement, after a while we'll have to give you a feeding tube. Alright let me show you to your room. We try to keep similar ages in the halls, eighteen to mid twenties in the right hall, late twenties to mid thirties in the middle hall and older in the left hall. Another rule to keep in mind, don't go into the other halls since your room isn't in them."

Waylon follows Frank to the end of the hall to the last room. To the left is a yellow shower curtain and a sink, and past that are two beds against the left wall, with two dressers along the right.

"Your bed is the further one. Since it's the weekend, wake up isn't until nine, so that gives you a chance to talk to your new roommate or sleep. Hey Eddie, you in the bathroom?" Frank calls out.

A gentle but deep voice responds from behind the curtain.

"Yes, Frank. I'm changing, I just got done in the shower a few minutes ago. I'll be out shortly."

"You got a new roommate, his name's Waylon."

"I heard," Eddie replies, sounding uninterested.

"Well, I'll just go ahead and leave you to get settled in. If you need more blankets, just stop by the nurses station and someone up there can get some for you. You need anything while I'm here?" Frank asks.

"N-no, thank you," Waylon nervously replies.

As Frank leaves, Waylon stands in the room awkwardly for a moment, unsure of what to do, feeling like he'll somehow mess it up. After a moment he pulls back the covers of his bed and lays down. After a few seconds, he feels himself falling asleep.

When Eddie leaves the bathroom, he's a little shocked to see how tiny Waylon is, the thin blankets revealing just how boney he had gotten.

"Poor darling, the other patients are going to eat you right up," Eddie whispers to himself.

Chapter Text

All we are is an isle of flightless birds

We find our worth in giving birth and stuff

We're lining our homes against winding roads

And we think the going is tough

We pick songs to sing, remind us of things that nobody cares about

And honestly we're probably more suicidal than ever now

 

When Waylon wakes up he immediately starts to panic. He isn't in his bedroom, he isn't in the hospital. The blinds are pulled down, letting in small cracks of amber light that dance down onto the wood floors. He sees an empty bed next to his, the sheets pulled tightly and tucked into the edges of the mattress so that there are no creases in the blankets. Waylon tries to take a deep breath. He's in Mount Massive Recovery. Waylon sits up slowly and looks around the room nervously. After a moment he gets up and walks to the bathroom, pulling the curtain closed behind him and trying his best to spread it out to block the gaps.

"You can try but you can never keep these damned things shut."

Waylon gasps and jumps back.

"Sorry if I scared you. We've just finished with anger management group and dinner is in thirty minutes. We have room time until then."

Waylon recognizes Eddie's voice. He doesn't know what to say, and stands there stuttering for a moment before going to the toilet. This was going to be difficult.

As Waylon stands there, trying to find the courage to pee in front of a stranger with nothing but a flimsy shower curtain to shield the noise, he hears Eddie laugh.

"We're going to be spending a lot of time together. You might as well get used to relieving yourself with me around." Eddie says.

Waylon continues to stand there awkwardly until he finally works up the courage to go. When he steps out of the bathroom, he's taken back by Eddie's appearance. Waylon awkwardly looks down, and walks to the sink to wash his hands. When he sits back down on his bed he remains quiet, listening to the faint voices of the other patients down the hall.

"You don't talk much, do you, Darling?" Eddie asks as he gets up and walks towards Waylon.

Waylon immediately tenses up, feeling his heart start to pound.

"We should open up these blinds. It's so gloomy in here," Eddie says as he leans past Waylon to reach the string to draw the blinds.

"It, it is k-kind of d-dark in here," Waylon manages to reply, trying his best to be friendly.

He smells so nice, Waylon thinks to himself as Eddie walks back to his bed, leaving behind faint traces of his cologne.

"You don't need to be scared of me, Waylon. That's your name right?" Waylon nods his head. "What are you here for?" Eddie asks casually, like he's asking what day it is or what the time is.

"I uh, I have, I have anxiety, and I-I think the doctors said th-that I have post traumatic stress disorder. And I, uh, I have a-anorexia. I passed out in gym class and then, then I woke up in the hospital," Waylon continues to stutter, trying his best to keep his breathing in check.

"Oh, darling, you poor thing. I got sent here after a break down, a bit of insanity," Eddie grins slightly. "That's why I have these scars on my cheeks. I've been here two weeks. The place starts to get better after a few days. Although, you might want to avoid Miles, seeing as how you're not much of a talker, Darling," Eddie says, a bit of a grin on his face.

"Why-why do you keep calling me 'Darling'?" Waylon asks, finding it a bit odd to be called Darling by someone he had only been talking to for a few minutes.

"Oh relax, it's just a nickname, you shouldn't focus on the words too much, Darling," he replies, putting more emphasis on the word, chuckling a bit to himself.

"Yo, Eddie, you got a roommate?"

Waylon hears a loud voice, followed by a young man wearing a green button down underneath a brown leather jacket. He's holding a pad and some paper. As soon as he sees Waylon he starts taking notes. Waylon looks away uncomfortably and rubs his thumb slowly across the white blanket. He hears Eddie sigh.

"Waylon, this is Miles. He's always taking notes and writing everything down, don't worry." Eddie looks over at Miles with a hint of a glare. "You do know we're not supposed to be in each others' rooms, right?"

"C'mon Eddie," Miles says looking up from his notepad. "There's no excitement around here except for new admits. Besides, I need another friend around here, this place will drive you insane without friends." Miles walks over to Waylon's bed and sticks out his hand. "Miles Upshur, I've been here for twenty-three days."

Waylon carefully shakes Miles' hand, feeling his heart start to pound. When was the last time he had touched another human being? When was the last time he had physical contact that wasn't an abusive hand to the face or boot in the stomach? Waylon drops his hand quickly, his dad's face quickly flashing into his brain. 

"P-please don't hurt me," Waylon whispers desperately. He feels tears stream down his face as his dad shoves him into the counter. Waylon grabs for the counter quickly, his hand knocking a drinking glass onto the floor.

"You absolute fuck up!" his dad yells at him as he pushes Waylon down. Waylon quickly rotates his body and breaks his fall with his hands, inviting several shards of glass to sink deeply into his flesh. Waylon cries out and lifts his hands up, falling to the side and trying not to scream as he sees glass imbedded into the palms of his hands, blood running down his wrists and forearms. His dad smacks one of his hands down and punches Waylon in the jaw. Waylon clenches his teeth as hard as he can to avoid the hit dislocating his jaw. 

"This is my fault," Waylon says quickly, trying to calm his dad down.

"You're right this is your fault. You are such a disgrace!" His dad suddenly wraps both hands tightly against his throat. Waylon can't breath. He desperately attempts to suck in breaths of air, but after a few moments his dad's face starts to fade and black spots dance around his vision. Waylon's chest is burning, his lungs on fire from the lack of oxygen, and his face feels hot. He no longer feels the sting of the glass in his hands. As his head starts to roll to the side, his dad quickly loosens his grip. Waylon gratefully inhales and starts to go into a coughing fit. 

"-Darling, you're okay, you're safe," Waylon hears a gentle voice in his ears. Eddie. He can feel Eddie gently running his hand down Waylon's back. His stomach starts to roil and Waylon quickly sprints to the bathroom, dry heaving into the toilet. After a moment, Eddie is in the bathroom, gently patting his back. 

Waylon can feel acid rising slowly in his throat, and eventually it comes up. Waylon squeezes his eyes shut as he continues to heave, feeling himself break into a sweat. When Waylon's stomach calms down, he crawls from the toilet and lays his face down onto the ground, not particularly worried about how clean the floor is. The tile soothes his warm face. He sits there and listens to his heartbeat rushing in his ears. Eddie sits next to him and runs his hand slowly across Waylon's upper arm.

"Are you okay?" He asks quietly. Waylon carefully nods. "I told Miles to find a nurse. Do you think you'd be okay to sit up?" 

After a moment, Waylon lifts his head and slides his arms to his sides, trying to push himself up. His arms start to shake and Eddie quickly grabs ahold of his shoulders and carefully helps Waylon to a sitting position. 

"Would you like to talk about it, Waylon?" Eddie suggested after a moment.

"My dad.... he... he hits me sometimes," Waylon replies, his chin quivering slightly and new tears starting to fill his eyes. "I don't know why. He tells me... he tells me it's all my fault, that if-if  I was a better son... I wish he loved me," Waylon sniffles, trying in vain to wipe tears away as the stream down his face relentlessly.

"You did nothing to deserve this," Eddie reassures. "No one deserves to be treated that way." Eddie carefully wraps his arms around Waylon. After a moment, Waylon accepts the hug and cries silently into Eddie's chest. Eddie rubs his back. "You have done nothing wrong, Darling. It's going to be okay."

The bathroom is silent except for Waylon's muffled cries and the soft scratch of Eddie's hand on Waylon's back. Suddenly, the growing thuds of footsteps running down the hall echo into the bathroom.

"Waylon?" A voice calls into the room.

"In the bathroom," Eddie responds.

A short brunette nurse walks into the bathroom.

"Eddie, is Waylon okay?" She asks, kneeling beside the two. 

"Yes, I'm helping him calm down. I think he had a flashback and as he started to come out of it he got sick to his stomach. I didn't flush the toilet, in case you need to see." 

"A flashback? Miles, why didn't you get me sooner?" The nurse questions, an edge of irritation in her voice.

"I tried to get your attention, Lucy, but it's not my fault you hold your meetings in the room behind the nurses station. Last time there was an emergency and I went behind the nurses station you yelled at me," Miles responds, folding his arms against his chest with a sigh.

"That's because misplacing your notepad isn't an emergency, Miles. Waylon, are you alright? Do you need to take something for anxiety?"

Waylon pulls his arms from around Eddie and draws his knees into his chest.

"I-I guess. Could I get some water too?" Waylon asks.

"Of course. Were you given a water bottle when you were admitted last night? All patients get one." Waylon shakes his head as Lucy stands up. "Okay, I'll be back in just a moment, thank you for helping him, Eddie." 

"Dude, that was intense, you were shaking pretty bad. Are you sure you're okay?" Miles questions as he sits down on the floor. Waylon nods his head and leans his head on Eddie's shoulder, staring at the ground. "Do you want to talk about it?" Miles asks.

"I-I, I don't know, it-it's just, my dad is... he's abusive. When-when I shook your hand, it... it reminded me of when I knocked a glass over. It fell and shattered, and my dad pushed me, he shoved me down and I fell onto my hands on the glass," Waylon replies quietly.

"Jesus dude, that's fucked up..." Miles comments after a moment. Eddie gives him a look, wrapping an arm around Waylon. "I'm really sorry you had to go through that. My parents both left when I was six. They were coke addicts, probably still are if they aren't dead in a ditch somewhere. I'm surprised my mom managed to go nine whole months without using when she was pregnant. One day, I was watching TV and I heard the front door close and my parents start the car and drive away. I was used to them going out and coming back super late, so I made myself some dinner.

"I remember it was one of those microwave kid's dinners that had the brownie and macaroni and chicken nuggets. I even remember putting it in too long and burning my tongue on the brownie. The next morning, when they weren't there I started to get worried but there wasn't a landline and I was too scared to leave the house. A few days after I had run out of things I knew how to make for myself, someone from the school showed up, wanting to speak with my parents about my absences. When I told them they'd been gone for at least a week, I was put into the system. I don't know exactly what you're going through, but I know what it's like to not feel wanted by anyone. I was fortunate enough to have foster parents who never abused me past insults and occasionally smacking me around."

"Thank you guys," Waylon says after a moment, "I've never had anyone make an effort to make me feel better before. I've never even had friends before," Waylon admits.

"Who said anything about being friends?" Miles teases, grinning and gently poking Waylon's foot. Eddie rolls his eyes and Waylon can't help but giggle. 

"And here I thought we were all the best of pals," Eddie jokes back.

"Well, I should probably get back to my own room before dinner. Lucy is pretty chill but I don't know if Frank will let it slide without giving me a long lecture about the rules. See you guys in a bit," Miles says, backing out and giving finger guns. Waylon can't help but laugh. 

"Are you feeling up to dinner, Waylon?" Eddie asks once Miles has left.

"I'm not sure, my stomach still feels a little iffy," Waylon replies, his stomach gurgling in response. 

"You should try, darling. I can feel your spine digging into my arm, you're all bones," Eddie comments with concern painting the edge of his voice.

"I know, but it's hard. Every time I try to eat, I can only manage a few bites before I start to feel sick. I was changing the other day and I could see all my ribs, my stomach is so concave, it's scary."

"I bet you're light as a feather, I bet I'd have no problem picking you up and carrying you for hours," Eddie teases. Waylon just sticks his tongue out in response. Waylon feels Eddie's grip tighten and suddenly he's being lifted off the ground. He can't help but giggle as Eddie carries him to his bed and sets him down gently. Eddie chuckles. As he sits on the bed next to Waylon, Lucy comes in and hands Waylon a small paper cup and a transparent blue water bottle. 

"We're going down to dinner in five minutes, so start getting ready," she says as Waylon swallows the pill and gratefully gulps down a third of the water. "Open your mouth for me," she says. Waylon awkwardly opens his mouth, pressing his tongue down, then lifting it up, unsure of what exactly he was supposed to do. "Alright you're good. Sorry we just have to make sure all patients swallow their pills." 

 

When Frank walks down the hall and calls into each of the rooms, Waylon can't help but flinch each time. 

"Waylon, how you holdin' up? You've been asleep for quite a while. I'm sure it did you good. It's time to go down to dinner, go line up at the end of the hall."

Waylon sits up shakily, leaning against the wall as a wave a dizziness passes through him.

"Are you gonna be okay to walk?" Eddie asks.

"I'm honestly not sure," Waylon responds, taking a few steps to the door. "I think I should be okay," he says when he gets to the door. When he steps into the hall he sees a line of about eight people. Waylon folds his arms and shivers. "Why is it so much colder out here than in the rooms?" 

"Here, wear this," Eddie replies as he slides off his blue flannel, his white undershirt revealing a toned stomach. Waylon almost let's himself stare, but quickly turns his attention to the flannel, pulling it on. Eddie's body heat lingers, warming Waylon up a bit. As they walk to the line, Miles notices them and moves out from and walks over to Eddie and Waylon. He notices Waylon wearing Eddie's flannel and gives Eddie a teasing look.

"Jeez, I only left you guys alone for ten minutes," Miles jokes. Waylon feels his cheeks heat up.

"Oh shut up, Miles. Waylon doesn't have his own clothes here, I'm letting him borrow a shirt." Eddie shoots daggers at Miles, but Miles just rolls his eyes.

"I was just joking, don't get your panties in a twist," Miles replies.

"Quiet in the back!" Frank calls from the front of the line. "Alright, you guys know the drill, let's do the count."

The person in the front mumbles "one" sounding very uninterested in the whole thing. The count gets to Waylon at seven. He stutters a few times before finally managing to say it. He looks at a few people turning around to face him and pulls the flannel tighter around him. When the count finishes Miles rolls his eyes.

"I don't understand why we're treated the same as the patients on the adolescent unit. Half of us could walk out if we wanted to, these counts are pointless," Miles groans. 

When the line starts moving, Waylon feels dizzy once again and reaches out for Eddie's arm. 

"You okay?" Eddie asks as Waylon wraps his arm around Eddie's bicep. "You're looking pale," Eddie comments, his face full of concern.

"Yes, I-I just need to eat something and I'll be okay," Waylon replies, trying to keep up with Eddie's long strides. Someone turns around to look at them for a moment.

They go through the double doors, the magnets clicking as they shut behind them. Down the hall, the rest of the patients are waiting at the elevator. 

"We have to go into the elevator?" Waylon asks, feeling his chest tighten. 

"It's okay, Waylon, we go in two groups, and even if we all went in together, we wouldn't hit the weight limit. What the number says is usually two thousand to four thousand pounds under what the weight limit actually is. Eddie and I are gonna be right beside you, everything is going to be okay," Miles comforts. 

When the second group goes in, it feels cramped. Waylon stands right in front of the doors, grabbing at his collar bones as his chest starts to feel heavy. When they start to go down, Waylon holds his breath. The second the doors start to open, Waylon squeezes through them and leans against the wall folding his arms across his chest tightly, trying to catch his breath. When Eddie and Miles approach him, Waylon has started to control his breathing once again. 

"I hate elevators," Waylon says, standing up straight. Miles chuckles.

"I feel you, I have this nightmare about getting in an elevator and it free falling. It's always an old elevator with a gate instead of doors. Fuck 'em, man." 

Waylon smiles and they quickly catch up to everyone else and follow them down the hall into the cafeteria. Inside, the mixed smell of food is inviting. Waylon's stomach growls in response. As they wait in line, Miles pulls out his notepad and starts asking Waylon about his life.

"I'll be eighteen in April, that's why they put me on the adult unit." 

"I turned twenty back in November. What about you Eddie? I've never asked how old you are." Miles questions, writing a quick note down in his notepad.

"Twenty-two in August. Does it even really matter?" Eddie asks, sounding bored of Miles constant questions.

"It always matters. People born in November are more likely to be serial killers. You guys better watch out," Miles jokes, pointing his pen at Eddie. He just rolls his eyes. "April babies are more likely to have eating disorders or suffer from Parkinson's," Miles says casually, not noticing Waylon's discomfort with the topic. 

"What does science say about babies born in August?" Eddie inquires, moving the topic.

"Interestingly enough, babies born in August are more likely to struggle in school and score substantially lower in national achievement tests. I guess that explains a lot," Miles teases.

"You better watch your tongue before I rip it out," Eddie replies. Miles just chuckles and writes a few more notes down.

Once they get to their food, Waylon awkwardly follows Eddie to a table.

"Are you sure that's all you want?" Miles asks as he takes a large bite of his burrito.

"Yeah, Mexican food isn't really my thing," Waylon says as he takes a small bite of his rice. He chews slowly, carefully swallowing to avoid upsetting his stomach.

"They're gonna boost you, a scoop of rice definitely doesn't count as fifty percent, if they're lucky, they'll mark that down as twenty percent," Miles says, taking another large bite of his burrito.

"Don't pester him, Miles. This is his first day, he doesn't need his eating habits to be judged. Just let him eat his rice in peace," Eddie says, glaring at Miles.

"Sorry, didn't mean to be rude," Miles replied, shrugging his shoulders. Frank walks around with a clipboard, recording what everyone eats. When he sees Waylon's tray, he crouches beside him.

"Waylon, you have to eat more than that, or you're going to have to drink a meal supplement," Franks comments, keeping his voice low.

"I don't know if I'm going to be able to finish what I already have. I've only had two bites and I'm already starting to feel like I've had enough," Waylon admits, setting his fork down and resting his head on his hand.

"Okay, a boost is a second chance, but remember, if you don't finish it, you're gonna eventually have a feeding tube. The nurses were talking about your case and since you're so malnourished, it'll only take one missed meal." Frank stands up and walks to the other tables.

Waylon sighs and tries to take another bite. His stomach starts to protest, but Waylon forces it down with a drink of water. His stomach can't handle anymore. He pushes his tray forward and lets his head rest on his arms. Eddie rubs his back.

"It's okay, you tried your best. That's all you can give," Eddie consoles. Waylon looks up at Eddie.

"They're gonna give me a feeding tube, and I'm gonna look like an even bigger freak," Waylon groans, closing his eyes. 

I don't think you're a freak, darling. I think you're perfect... Eddie thinks to himself. 

Chapter Text

I won't fall in

Love with falling

I will try to avoid those eyes

Cause I'm not sure I

Want to give you

Tools that can

Destroy my heart

 

When Waylon get's back onto the unit he's held back while the rest of the patients are brought into the group room for evening schedule and cognitive behavioral therapy. He stand there awkwardly while Lucy goes to the med room. She opens the top half as she shuts the door.

"Chocolate or vanilla, Waylon?" Lucy asks as she opens a small fridge in the corner. A couple dozen boxes of Boost sit in neat little rows. Someone put way too much effort into organizing them.

"Uh, chocolate I guess," Waylon answers, wrapping Eddie's flannel around him tighter. He looks through the windows of the group room and see's Eddie sitting with his arms folded, examining his nails. Miles sits with his legs draped over the arms of his chair and his feet resting onto the cushion of the other chair, reserving the spot for Waylon. Waylon chuckles to himself and turns back to the med room. Lucy hands him the Boost, with the straw already poked in through the top. Waylon stares at it for a moment.

"Don't worry," Lucy says as she lifts up her hands which are covered by blue latex gloves. "The straw is clean, I promise," she laughs as she pulls the gloves off and then locks the med room behind her.

"Seems like a waste. I don't know why I couldn't have put the straw in myself," Waylon comments, taking a small sip of the boost. The supplement is thick, and tastes a little chalky, but the chocolate taste does an okay job of covering it up.

"I agree, it's extremely wasteful, but I'm just following protocols. You can go into the group room, just make sure when you're finished you hand me the box so I can record how much you drank."

Waylon nods as he walks awkwardly to the door, struggling to pull in open. A few patients turn to look at him, and he gets the whole room's attention when it shuts behind him with a loud 'click'.

"Ah, you must be Waylon, go ahead and take a seat. I'm Luke, one of the behavioral health advocates. We're finishing evening group and then Keith will be here for CBT."

Waylon stands there for a moment and then looks over to Miles, who dramatically slides each of his legs from the chair, letting them fall loudly. Waylon laughs as he sits between the two, pulling his legs up onto the chair. He takes another tiny sip of his boost. Waylon sighs. 

I'll never be able to finish this. I'm gonna get a feeding tube. This whole place sucks ass.

Waylon doesn't pay attention to the evening schedule. His mind plays through what it'll be like to get a feeding tube over and over again. Waylon shudders at the thought of something going up his nose and then down his throat into his stomach.

"Everything alright, Darling?" Eddie whispers to Waylon while Keith talks about the process of reframing thoughts and handling them.

"Yeah, I just hate this. I feel like I'm gonna be punished for not being able to eat anything or drink this awful supplement. It's starting to get warm," Waylon replies, letting his head fall back and staring up at the ceiling.

"Well, most people don't take half an hour to drink it. Miles got boosted when he thought he would try to protest the limit of notepads he was allowed by a hunger strike and he chugged the thing in three seconds. The idiot didn't even last a full meal before he was overcome by hunger," Eddie whispers, trying to hide a laugh. Waylon grins and looks over to Miles. He raises an eyebrow, but as he's about to say something, Keith clears his throat loudly from the front of the room.

"As I was saying," Keith interrupts, glaring at the trio. Waylon sinks down into his chair and takes another sip of the boost.

I've probably had like a teaspoon of this so far, and I feel like I can't drink anymore.

Waylon sighs quietly thinking once again about when he'll get the feeding tube and what it will feel like. His anxiety starts to kick in. He's gonna feel all of it. Waylon starts to tap his finger tips on the arm of the chair. The wood makes a quiet thud each time. He also starts to shake his foot slightly, trying his best to stay calm. He wished he could just eat like a normal person.

When group is over Lucy asks Waylon if he's almost done with his boost. He awkwardly shrugs his shoulders and hand her the box.

"This doesn't feel any lighter, did you drink any of it?" She asks.

"I tried a few sips, but I just can't do anymore than that. I'm sorry," Waylon apologizes, folding his arms tightly and grabbing onto one of his shoulders.

"It's okay, you did your best. Unfortunately that means we have to insert a feeding tube. I know that sounds pretty scary but it only takes a few minutes, and at most, you might experience some discomfort. Let me grab your chart and we'll go into the examination room and get it put in." She walks to the nurses station and starts looking for Eddie and Miles. Miles has already started walking down the hall to his room but Eddie is waiting by the door of the group room. Waylon quickly walks over.

"Are you going to be okay?" Eddie asks. Waylon sighs and rubs his forehead.

"I mean, physically, I'll be just dandy, but other than that... Man this whole thing is so stupid," Waylon groans, leaning against the wall.

"It's not that bad, probably. I'm sorry I know that's not very comforting but I don't really have any experience with this to reference," Eddie replies, patting Waylon on the back a few times.

"Alright, Waylon, I'm all set. Don't worry, this will all be quick," she says, walking to the double doors and waving her badge in front of the black box. 

In reality, it was a pretty quick process but it felt like ages. Lucy had Waylon try to take sips of water as she got the tube out and a few napkins and a brought over a small, empty garbage bin. Waylon sat on the examination bed, swinging his feet back and forth quickly, trying to take deep breaths. She handed Waylon the napkins and asked him to blow his nose. Then she tilted his head back slightly and told him to take a deep breath as she started to push it up his nose. It made his nose tickle at first, but as it continued to be pushed and started to snake down his throat, Waylon gagged. This happened several more times, and Lucy told him to just keep drinking the water to help it slide down. 

When it was finally in place, Waylon's throat felt scratchy and whenever he swallowed he could feel the tube rub across his throat. Lucy then took out this large device and put a small, clear tube against the end piece of his feeding tube. She explained that she was going to suction his stomach to make sure it was all the way down. That freaked Waylon out more than anything. When she flipped it on, the motor was surprisingly loud and Waylon flinched. He asked if it would hurt and Lucy just smiled and said that he likely wouldn't feel too much of a sensation. When it was determined that the tube was properly in place, she took a piece of tape and curled the tube up, taping it to his face. The process took about five minutes, but as the tube was taped in place, it felt like he had just survived a year of discomfort.

Though the feeding tube insertion was painful and uncomfortable, it wasn't as bad for Waylon as actually getting the liquid food through the tube. 

Lucy smiles as she pulls off her gloves, and slides another pair on. Then she grabs a syringe and pulls back slowly. Lucy explains that it's to make sure there aren't more than 150cc's of gastric fluid in his stomach. As she pulls back on the syringe, the boost comes up first, diluted and transparent from the water. Waylon quickly looks away. After pushing it back into his stomach, she gets the food container and sticks the end of the tube into Waylon's feeding tube.

"Don't worry, Waylon, we'll do this slowly, I know your stomach must already feel full from the water. But we do need to insert the full syringe. These nutrients are vital. The process will take between and forty five minutes and an hour," Lucy says as she starts to slowly empty the food container. Waylon watches as the liquid moves through the tube slowly. After only a minute, Waylon's stomach starts to feel full.

"Do we have to do much more of this?" Waylon asks, grabbing his stomach hand groaning.

"I'm sorry, Waylon. This will probably continue to get uncomfortable until it hurts, but you need this. It's a miracle your vitals are stable. We might have to put you in a wheelchair if it takes too long for your body to respond positively to the tube feedings. I know none of this is ideal, but just be glad that this is your situation, it could be worse. When I worked at the hospital, I had patients with anorexia who had to stay in bed for months and had direct feeding tubes into the stomach through surgery. You're a fighter, Waylon. You've somehow managed to fight the damage the anorexia should have caused, you fought your situation, and now you're here, continuing to fight the disorder by accepting the feeding. I've had to sedate patients who became violent and aggressive during feedings. You're a brave kid," Lucy comments as she watches the flow. She adjusts the clamp to slow down the flow even more.

Waylon's stomach starts to hurt after ten minutes. When they hit the twenty minute mark, Waylon has his knees pulled to his chest, slowly rocking back and forth.

"I feel bloated, this really hurts. It feels like my stomach is going to explode," Waylon complains, gritting his teeth.

"Prolonged starvation does that. Your stomach can hold all of this, even though it has shrunk. I promise, we wouldn't be giving you an amount your stomach physically couldn't handle. This is very common in anorexia patients," Lucy comforts. "We're already halfway done, you're doing great."

Lucy asks Waylon what he likes to do and what his favorite subject in school is. After an hour and a half, the food container is finally empty. Waylon sighs in relief and leans back against the examination bed. Lucy adjusts it so that his head elevated above his stomach and lets him lay there for a few minutes. Although it still hurts, Waylon notices that some of the pain decreased. They finish by cleaning out the tube with some water and Waylon gladly leaves the examination room, thankful that the process is done.

"Most patients put the tube behind their ear like tucking away a strand of hair," Lucy suggest as they get back onto the unit. Waylon pushes it behind his ear and sighs. When he swallows, once again the tube moves slightly in his throat. Waylon shudders and walks down the hall to his room. Eddie is reading a book that looks considerably old. The red cover is faded as well as the title. The spine has seen better days, strings hanging out it disarray. Eddie holds the book carefully, turning each page as if it were as delicate and fragile as a dried leaf in autumn. Eddie's face holds no clear emotion. He appears to be in deep thought. Waylon can't help but continue to observe him. A few strands of Eddie's hair fall into his face, but he doesn't seem to notice them at all. 

Waylon's mouth tugs into a half smile. He's about to say something when he feels fingers softly tap his shoulder. Waylon can't help but let out a small scream as he spins around to see Miles. Waylon shoves him slightly, glaring at him.

"Douche," Waylon mutters. Miles just grins.

"How long have you two been standing there," Eddie questions as he slowly closes his book, using a thick, blue ribbon to save his place.

"Not too long, but I don't know how long Way over here has been creeping on you," Miles replies grinning.

"If you were watching me doesn't that make you just as much of a creep," Waylon shoots back, feeling his cheeks warm up slightly.

"So you admit you're a creep?" Miles teases, walking over to Waylon's bed and plopping down onto it.

"I, that, that't not, I wasn't even," Waylon stammers, trying to find an excuse. He hears Eddie's laugh and turns redder. "I just noticed he was reading and I was curious what he was reading but I didn't want to interrupt by asking so I was trying to see what the title said," he finally manages after a moment.

"Sure thing, Way, whatever you say," Miles replies. "Nice feeding tube, why'd they give it to you, it was only one meal you missed," Miles asks casually. Eddie looks at Waylon quickly before glaring at Miles for the millionth time that day. 

"I-I uh, I haven't really eaten anything in a while. The most I've eaten was a french fry and a sip of tomato soup on Saturday and before that half a piece of bacon and a bite of eggs on Tuesday two weeks ago. They, they say it's anorexia," Waylon says the last part quietly.

"Tis I, the frenchiest fry," is all Miles says at first. Waylon can't help but laugh. "Jeez, I've really been a dick, haven't I? I mean, you're tiny but I figured you didn't eat because of first day anxiety. Are we cool?" Miles asks.

"Yeah, we're cool. Besides the doctors at the hospital, the only person who suspected was a teacher. I didn't even know that it was anorexia," Waylon admits, sitting next to Miles.

"If it makes you feel any better, my 'bit of insanity' wasn't just me going crazy. I got wasted and thought it would be a good idea to cut my own face," Eddie says after a moment.

"You, did that to yourself?" Waylon asks. When Eddie had first given him a vague reason for being here, he didn't really know what that meant, but he didn't expect to hear that the scars were self inflicted.

"Don't we make an exciting trio," Miles laughs. "The anxious anorexic, the crazy cutter, and the perceptive paranoid. We should become super heroes."

Waylon can't help but giggle as Eddie gives Miles a look. Miles responds with finger guns.

"Miles, could we just enjoy five minutes without your godawful attempts at jokes," Eddie says.

"I thought it was kind of funny," Waylon admits.

"Do not encourage it!" Eddie replies. Waylon and Miles both crack up. "You just wait Waylon. After a week of his constant bad jokes, you're gonna wish you'd never lifted his ego and called him funny."

"Sorry, let me say that again," Waylon says with a grin on his face, "Miles, you're sense of humor is impeccable, absolutely flawless. I hope I never have to sit through the agony of never hearing your jokes ever again," Waylon says to Miles in a breathy, southern bell accent. Miles stands up and bows.

"Thank you, thank you, please, you're just too much," Miles replies, blowing a kiss to Eddie. 

"Oh now you've done it," Eddie growls, trying not to smile as he stands up and walks towards Miles. Miles tries to run to the side but in one, quick movement, Eddie has his hands on Miles' waist as he picks him up and throws him over his shoulder. Waylon falls back onto the bed, laughing so hard his abdomen starts to get sore. Eddie walks back to his bed and throws Miles onto it, quickly grabbing the blankets and throwing them over Miles, tying the ends into a loose knot. The ball of blankets wriggles around desperately as Eddie sits on Waylon's bed. 

They both watch Miles struggle to get untangled. He almost rolls off the bed several times before his head finally pops out. 

"That was just cruel," Miles says in between breaths. Both Eddie and Waylon continue to laugh, Waylon now in tears. Miles stares at them, folding his arms with a huff. Eddie and Waylon's laughter continues for a moment, before they finally manage to get ahold of themselves. 

"You two finished?" He questions when the laughing has finally quieted. 

"Man, I'm actually crying," Waylon says, wiping his eyes on the back of his hands.

"You both are going to pay. You hear me? You're going down," Miles replies, pulling the blankets off the rest of him. 

 

Miles leaves a few minutes before evening hygiene. Waylon is grateful for the opportunity to shower. His hair had become a tangled mess of greasy blond hair. At least he didn't smell. 

Luke calls down the halls that hygiene buckets are out.

"What are those?" Waylon asks as he follows Eddie down the hall.

"They give us shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, a toothbrush, and toothpaste. We're not allowed to have any of our own stuff on the unit. It's another one of their stupid rules. They should have your's made by now," Eddie says as they walk to a metal cart that has several blue, transparent bins, like small versions of the large, plastic storage tubs. Waylon scans the cart looking for the one with his name written in sharpie. 

"Towels are over there on the blue rack," Eddie points out. Waylon was starting to sense a theme with the colors. "I assume you would like to shower tonight," he says as he grabs his bin. Waylon walks over, his anxiety starting to grow. How many was he allowed to take? What if he took the wrong ones? Were they all the same size? What did he do with them afterwards?

Jesus, I can't even grab towels without feeling anxious. What's wrong with me?

Waylon sighs as he grabs two as well as a small wash cloth. It occurs to him that he doesn't have clean clothes to change into. Waylon stands there for a moment, unsure of who exactly he was supposed to talk to about that.

"Umm, Luke?" Waylon asks as he approaches him, his hands shaking slightly.

"What do you need?" He replies as he sets his clip board down on the counter of the nurses' station. 

"I don't have any of my own clothes, and I don't want to change back into these," Waylon replies awkwardly. 

"Hmm, well we have spare sweats and shirts in the laundry room. Do you have a suitcase in the back room that needs to be checked?" Luke questions as they walk towards the laundry room down the middle hall.

"N-no, I was at school when I passed out and they took me straight to the hospital and I never had a chance to get my own clothes," Waylon answers as Luke looks through the sweats, trying to find an extra small.

"Would you prefer a long sleeved shirt or a short sleeved?" Luke asks as he hands Waylon the sweats.

"Long sleeved," Waylon replies.

"Well, could a parent bring you some clothes?" He ask, looking through the long sleeved shirts.

"I- I don't think so. My mom isn't in the picture and, and my dad is being investigated for child abuse." Waylon digs one of his nails into his arm, starting to feel anxious once again.

"I'm sorry you're in that situation. I wonder if child protective services could bring you your clothes. I'll talk to the other BHAs and see if we can figure something out for you. Do you have an underwear preference?" Luke questions casually.

"Oh, uh, um, boxers, I-I guess," Waylon says. Awkward.

"Alright, here you go," he says as he hands Waylon the shirt and a pair of boxers. He pushes them underneath the shirt, feeling himself grow red. Luke laughs.

"I've had to ask adolescent girls what their bra size is before so I could get them the right size, don't stress about it, it's my job to make sure you guys have everything you need," Luke says as he locks the door behind them when they leave. 

"Thank you, Luke," Waylon says quickly before almost sprinting back to his room.

Eddie's at the sink brushing his teeth. When Waylon walks in almost out of breath, Eddie raises an eyebrow.

"I needed some more clothes and-and, it was so awkward. He asked if I wore boxers or briefs. I was not prepared for that question. Jesus," Waylon says, letting out a sigh.

"Which do you wear?" Eddie asks jokingly after rinsing his mouth out.

"Like that's your business," Waylon laughs, walking into the bathroom and pulling the curtain shut behind him. He turns the water on and lets it get hot as he strips down. While taking his shirt off, the hem pushes against the feeding tube, making it rub against his throat. He gags, which moves it more, before going into a coughing fit.

"Darling, are you okay in there?" Eddie asks. He hears Eddie's bed shift.

"Yep, yeah, I'm good," Waylon says, his voice a little raspy. "This damn tube, I accidentally pushed on it," Waylon grumbles as he finishes undressing.

"They put it in for your health, Waylon," Eddie reassures.

"I know that, it just sucks," Waylon complains. When he steps into the hot stream of the shower, it immediately relaxes him. "Ah, shower how I have missed you so," Waylon comments as he puts his head under the stream, massaging his scalp. He grabs the small bottle of shampoo and squeezes a generous amount into the palm of his hand. It's way more than he needs, but once he finally rinses all the bubbles off, his head feels nice and he doesn't feel as gross. The shampoo smells like lemon grass and citrus. A bit of a feminine scent, but it was better than his hair smelling like a wet dog.

After Waylon finishes scrubbing his body with the washcloth with body wash that smells like a generic Old Spice brand and rinses the conditioner out of his hair, he feels thoroughly clean. He hadn't realized how much he enjoyed daily showers at his house. When he steps out of the shower, the bathroom is filled with steam. He takes a deep breath in, appreciating the smell, a mixture of the shampoo and body wash. 

"You look better," Eddie comments as Waylon sits down on his bed.

"I feel better," Waylon replies, laying down and running his hands through his hair. "You know how you said we're only allowed to have the stuff they give us, how come you have cologne?" Waylon inquires. He's not sure why the question runs through his mind. He looks over to Eddie, who has a half smile.

"Did you smell me when a wasn't looking or..?" Eddie jokes, leaning against the wall.

"No, I, I didn't. Jesus, I really sound like a creep don't I?" Waylon says as he covers his face with his hands and laughs.

"Well, I don't want to be rude, but..." Eddie replies. Waylon sighs again and peeks through his fingers to look at Eddie. "Darling I'm joking. I have a very specific list of supplies that I use, and cologne is one of the essentials for me. I can't really explain it, but when I told them it was a comfort for me to have, they allowed it." 

"Do they let you have other things? Like, your books y'know, things like that?" Waylon asks, rolling onto his stomach, wincing slightly as the bed pushed into the pressure of his stomach.

"Yes, as long as it's not a safety hazard," Eddie replies. "What did you have in mind?"

"I, well, I don't know this is gonna sound stupid. I have this small stuffed bear. I know it makes me sound like a child, but it was a gift from my mom, and it's all I have left. I have it hidden in one of my drawers at my house, because I was worried my dad would destroy is or ruin it if he knew I still held onto it. Some nights I would take it out, just for an hour or two, and hold it and remember what life was like before my mother left," Waylon admits, rolling onto his back again. His eyes start to well up with tears. He'd give anything to have his mother back. 

"Waylon," Eddie starts, looking over to him. He doesn't know what to say. He's had his parents his whole life. His mom and dad gave him the perfect childhood, raised him to be a gentleman. He'd always felt guilty, his parents worked so hard for him, and he knew he had it good, but something in his mind just didn't let him fully appreciate it. Doctors said it was depression when he was fifteen. Eddie thought of himself as ungrateful, not depressed. 

Waylon curls up into a ball, sniffling every once in a while as he continues to cry. 

"Would you like to sit with me?" Eddie finally asks. Waylon looks up and thinks it over before walking to Eddie's bed and sitting beside him, immediately leaning against him and crying into his shoulder. Eddie wraps his arms around him and holds him. After a moment Waylon hugs Eddie back, and it feels nice.

Though he was tiny, Waylon offered some warmth to Eddie, although he wasn't really cold. The sensation was nice though. Eddie continues to hold Waylon, thinking about how much he enjoys this. Eddie hates to even think it, but he knows that he's starting to get feelings for Waylon.

It's only been a day. I hardly know him.

Eddie tries to rationalize and push the thoughts away, but Waylon curled up in his arms makes him feel happy. He can't deny that. When was the last time he felt that sensation of warmth in his heart? When was the last time he felt anything besides annoyance and occasional moments of joy in the form of laughter? 

Propinquity. The closeness to someone. The higher it is, the more likely you are to get feelings for someone. Humans love out of convenience. The people nearby. The people we see everyday. It makes sense that you feel something for Waylon. You're roommates. You'll be spending weeks, maybe even months, together.

Eddie sighs. He doesn't want to try to rationalize whatever it is he's feeling. He knows it's not love. Not yet at least. Rarely do people fall in love in one day. Rarely do people fall in love in even a week. 

Eddie yawns and realizes that Waylon's sniffles have been replaced by quiet, even breaths. He carefully adjusts Waylon and himself down so that they are no longer leaning against the wall. He puts his blankets on top of Waylon and lays on his side, his back to Waylon. His brain continues to consider what he feels for Waylon. Maybe he's just glad to have a friend. Maybe he's confusing his feelings again. Eddie tries to repeat this to himself, it's just a feeling of fondness and gratitude for a friendship, but when Waylon rolls over and curls up against Eddie's back, his heart starts to speed up and Eddie knows that there's more to it.

 

Chapter Text

I'm taking over my body

Back in control, no more shotty

I bet a lot of me was lost

T's uncrossed and I's undotted

I fought it a lot

And it seems a lot like flesh is all I got

Not anymore, flesh out the door

Swat!

 

Waylon wakes up to Luke knocking on the door gently and and telling him breakfast is in ten minutes. He yawns and stretches, pressing down on the tape that's started to peel, then adjusts and fixes the feeding tube which feels a little out of place. A week of it had gotten him mostly used to the rubbing sensation in the back of his throat. His stomach didn't hurt as much when he had his tube feedings, and at meals, he had managed to eat fifteen percent of the meal which was considerably higher than his usual zero to three percent. Last night at dinner, he got mashed potatoes and gravy and eaten half of the scoop. Miles and Eddie both congratulated him, and Waylon had actually felt good about the progress he had been making. 

Eddie is sitting in his bed, leaning against the wall and reading his red book. He's almost finished with it. Waylon uses the restroom and then goes down to find someone for his morning weigh in. They had to monitor it closely for any notable gain. Waylon doesn't see Luke anywhere but as if on cue, Frank comes out of the room behind the nurses station.

"Ready to go get your weight taken?" He asks as he looks through the charts for Waylon's. Waylon nods as he starts to yawn once again. 

As he stands on the scale and hears the sliders move around, he notices that Frank has started smiling.

"What's my weight?" Waylon questions, trying to turn around and see where the sliders are. Frank quickly slides them all to zero.

"Sorry, Waylon. I'm not allowed to show you, but you had a good weigh in, I can tell you that much," Frank replies, still smiling.

"Well, could you at least tell me what my progress is. I promise I won't tell anyone," Waylon pleads.

"Hmm, okay, I guess they can't fire me if I tell you how much you've gained, but please don't go telling the other staff that I broke protocol. I know this is a stupid one but I'm still supposed to follow them all," Frank replies as he writes the number down in Waylon's chart.

"Don't worry I won't," Waylon says as they leave the examination room.

"You're up a pound kid, you've gained a full pound this week," Frank says as he swipes his badge across the black box, letting them back onto the unit.

Waylon's jaw almost drops. He can't wait to tell the news to Eddie. He practically sprints back to his room.

"Eddie! Guess what?" Waylon has to try his best not to practically shout.

"What is it, darling?" Eddie inquires as he closes his book and sets it on the desk next to the bed.

"I've gained a pound since I've been here! Isn't that great? I'm actually making progress!" Waylon beams as he sits on his bed. 

Eddie smiles at how excited Waylon is. He can't help but notice how cute he is when he's excited, the way his eyes light up, the way his smile covers half his face, the way his cheeks gain a bit of color. It's a whole body thing for Waylon. Eddie catches himself staring and looks away quickly.

"That's great news, Waylon. Do you know if there's a certain weight you have to gain to get your feeding tube out?" Eddie asks.

"I think that if I can either eat more than fifty percent or finish supplements at all three meals for a few days I can get it taken out. They want to make sure I can continue to eat before they take it out, just in case I relapse. It'll probably be another week or two before I get there. It's encouraging, though. I can't wait until this is gone," Waylon says as he reaches for his water bottle on the desk beside his bed and takes a drink. 

"I'm proud of you Waylon. You are looking much better. I think you're actually starting to get a hint of color back on your face," Eddie comments.

When they get down to breakfast, Waylon decides to get an orange and some oatmeal. He feels brave. Normally he would choose an orange or oatmeal, but never both. It probably wouldn't be enough to count for fifty percent of a meal, but Waylon was still determined to eat at least fifty percent of what was on his tray. When he sits down at their normal table, Miles is already digging in to his eggs. 

"Dude, I think that's the most I've seen you put on your tray," Miles comments as he reaches his hand over the table for a high five. Waylon rolls his eyes and gives him a half-hearted high five. 

"I found out that I've gained a pound since I've been here. If I keep eating and get up to fifty percent then I'll probably get this thing out in a week or so. That's like my biggest motivation right now. This tube is annoying as shit," Waylon says, getting a small amount of oatmeal onto his spoon. He hears Eddie make a sort of choking noise as he takes a drink of his water.

"Are you okay?" Waylon asks, looking at Eddie with concern.

"Yes, I was just taken back by your... choice of words," Eddie replies after a moment.

"Yeah, Waylon, I think that's the first time either of us have heard you swear," Miles comments, laughing a bit. "Careful around Eddie though." Miles says as he takes another bite of his food.

"What, you don't like swearing?" Waylon inquires, picking up his orange and trying to poke his fingernail through the peel. 

"Here, let me peel that for you," Eddie says, grabbing the orange from Waylon. "Swearing isn't polite, that's all. I was raised to believe that," Eddie says while he pulls off a huge piece of the peel.

"I'm sorry, I didn't know it offended you," Waylon replies, taking a slightly larger bite of his oatmeal. Eddie doesn't say anything until he hands Waylon his orange, the peel and the white stringy bits all pulled off.

"It's not that it offends me, I'm just not used to hearing it. It's really not a big deal. Don't worry, Waylon," Eddie assures, before resuming eating his breakfast.

"So, I overheard we're getting a new admit some time tomorrow. No offense, Way, but you're becoming old news," Miles jokes. Waylon glares at Miles for a moment before rolling his eyes and kicking his shin below the table. 

"You're a real piece of work, you know that Miles?" Waylon says, splitting his orange and pulling a slice off. He eats the slice in three even bites.

"That's why you guys love me," Miles responds, shrugging his shoulders and holding his chin high dramatically. 

"You know, I'm not sure love is the word I'd use to describe how I feel about you, Miles," Eddie teases, shoving Miles' shoulder gently. 

The two get into a shoulder shoving match until Eddie almost pushes Miles right out of his chair. Waylon can't help but laugh at the two, which gets the attention of Frank, who comes over to record what the three are all eating. He clears his throat before giving Miles and Eddie and look, and then quickly glances at their trays. 

"Good job, Waylon. If you can finish, I think that we could count that as fifty percent meal completion," he says as he finishes writing. Waylon smiles at the thought of getting fifty percent completion as he pulls another piece of the orange off and puts the whole slice in his mouth this time. It takes him a moment to get it down. He takes a deep breath in.

"I can do this," Waylon says mostly to himself as he puts two slices into his mouth this time. When he swallows, he starts to feel full. He puts the last bit of the orange into his mouth, taking a sip of water to keep from gagging. "I can do this," he repeats and gets a spoonful of oatmeal. Waylon tries not to focus on the food, or how full his stomach feels, instead, counting in his head to ten after he swallows each bite. He gives himself ten more seconds to swallow each bite. In the ten second break, Waylon takes a sip of water. He repeats this, only focusing on counting, until he realizes his spoon goes into his mouth empty. He looks down into his bowl. It's empty. He looks up to see both Eddie and Miles watching him carefully.

"I did it," Waylon whispers in disbelief.

"Dude nice job," Miles comments, offering another high five to Waylon. Waylon hits it lazily before curling up in his chair, trying to think about something other than his stomach. He takes deep breaths. His whole abdomen hurts. 

"Waylon, are you okay?" Eddie asks with genuine concern. Waylon closes his eyes and reaches for his cup of water. He feels Eddie gently grab his wrist and place the cup of water in his hand. Waylon brings it up to his mouth and takes a few sips before setting it down on the table. 

"Yeah, I'm okay. I just need a moment," Waylon replies. Eddie and Miles finish eating, neither one looking away from Waylon for too long. After about ten minutes, Frank comes over to check on Waylon.

"Are you sure your okay?" Frank asks as he marks Waylon down for fifty percent.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I think my stomach was expecting the liquid food I usually get when I get tube fed. My stomach's starting to calm down," Waylon states as he sits up in his chair.

"Well, you don't have to drink the supplement but I'm not sure how the tube feeding works and if you'll still have to do it after breakfast, I'm no nurse," Frank says. "You did a good job, Waylon." Frank pats Waylon on the back before walking around to check the other patients' trays. After a few minutes he announces everyone can dump their trays and line up.

When Waylon gets back upstairs, Lucy pulls him aside.

"Hey, I heard you had a good weigh in. How'd you do at breakfast?" She asks, grabbing his chart.

"I ate fifty percent," Waylon says, "I'm pretty proud of myself for getting through it."

"Can you come with me back to the examination room? We're gonna take your vitals, draw a little blood, and do an EKG to see how your heart rhythm is," Lucy tells Waylon as they leave the unit and walk down the hall to the examination room.

"Why do you guys steal so much of my blood? Are you all secretly vampires?" Waylon jokes as he stretches his left arm out and Lucy ties the tourniquet around his upper arm. Lucy chuckles.

"Yeah, you caught us. This whole facility is secretly an operation to supply us with sufficient amounts of blood. We just want to see how your blood levels look, especially since we started you on the vitamins a few days ago. Your potassium levels are our biggest concern."

Waylon doesn't mind the needle as much this time, although he's had his blood drawn four times since he was in the hospital, and his inner arms were starting to become sore. They both had small blue bruises around the small red dot where the needle went. It seemed like right when the previous bruise was starting to heal, they needed to draw blood again.

When they finish with that, Lucy has Waylon change into the hospital gown so she can perform an EKG. The stickers are all cold, giving Waylon goosebumps. After the machine prints out, Lucy has good news.

"It seems that your heart rhythm has stabilized and is looking a lot stronger. That's a really good sign. Now we just need your temperature and blood pressure and you'll be all set," she says as she wraps the blood pressure cuff around his bicep.

When he gets back to the unit, everyone is in their rooms. Waylon feels bad for all the groups he's missed. He can't actually remember any of the ones he went to, he mostly zoned out. When he gets to his room, Eddie only has a few pages of his book left. Waylon notices that he's smiling. It's faint, but it's there.

"I think that's the first time I've seen you make any facial expression while reading," Waylon comments as he sits on his bed. Eddie looks up after a moment and closes his book.

"It's interesting. The ending seems to be good so far. You can read it when I'm done if you'd like," Eddie suggests as he stretches out his neck. "I wish there was a more comfortable place to read in these rooms, my neck is killing me." Eddie sighs as uses his hand to push it in either direction, letting out a series of pops.

"Are you sure that's safe to do?" Waylon asks.

"Yeah, as long as I don't push too far. It feels nice," Eddie replies, rolling his head around one last time. Waylon cringes and sighs.

"When's the next group?" Waylon asks, laying back on his bed with a quiet 'oof'.

"I'm not a hundred percent sure, I think it starts in twenty minutes. We're going down to structured physical therapy. The staff in charge of it is nice, his name's Ethan. He is a bit off though, like a sophisticated hippie type of guy" Eddie answers, putting his feet against the wall and letting his back bend over the edge of the bed. Waylon gasps.

"Eddie, I thought you were raised to be a gentleman. Why would you put your dirty feet against the wall?" Waylon asks with fake shock in his voice. Eddie laughs and shakes his head. 

"I've spent my whole life being a gentleman," Eddie says, letting his arms fall and dangle. "Fuck it!" Waylon can't help but giggle as he copies Eddie so they are both looking at each other while the rest of the world appears upside down. Waylon's continued giggling rubs off onto Eddie until they're both laughing hysterically. 

"Jeez, my head is starting to pound," Waylon comments as he sits up, rubbing his forehead again. "You are redder than a tomato, Eddie. I think it might be time to sit up." Eddie sighs before lifting himself up in one smooth motion, without swinging himself up. Waylon can't help but notice Eddie's abs as they contract while he sits up. "Wow, you've got a lot of core strength. I can't even do half of a sit up," Waylon admits as he smooths his hair which has fluffed up a bit from hanging upside down.

"Really? you're joking, right?" Eddie replies, looking over to Waylon. "Well, maybe you're not..." He says after eyeing Waylon a moment longer.

"Fight me," Waylon retorts, opening his arms in a 'come at me' gesture. 

"Darling, I'd be careful making bold invitations like that. If you can't even manage one sit up, I doubt you could take me in a fight," he says with a look of mischief in his eyes.

"Don't you dare," Waylon says as soon as he realizes Eddie's playful intentions. 

Waylon quickly sits up in his bed, giggling like a child, and pushes himself backwards as Eddie practically springs off the bed and runs over to Waylon. Eddie just laughs as Waylon attempts to push him away. In only a few seconds Eddie is on Waylon's bed, pushing him back and pinning his wrists down.

"Ready to accept defeat, Darling?" He asks, raising an eyebrow. Waylon almost misses the question, distracted by the fact that Eddie's lips are inches from his own. He can feel Eddie's breath gently blow across his face. His breath still smells faintly of mint. If Waylon had even an ounce of courage, he might have found a way to go against his anxiety, lift his head up, and place his lips against Eddie's. Instead he sticks out his tongue.

"Never!" Waylon cries as he slips out from under Eddie. Eddie is taken back at first and loosen's his grip, allowing Waylon's slender wrists to slide from Eddie's hands. He wastes no time jumping onto Eddie's back. Once again Eddie is caught off guard. He falls onto his stomach. Waylon immediately slams his fist onto the bed.

"One, two-" Waylon starts, imitating the countdown during a wrestling match.

"-Not so fast, Darling," Eddie says as he pushes his body up, causing Waylon to slide off his back and fall backwards onto the bed. As Eddie pins Waylon down, Waylon finally gives up.

"Okay," he says, his breathing hard from the sudden exercise. Waylon hadn't ever worked his muscles past going up and down the stairs and carrying books in his arms. Just the few moments of wrestling had Waylon's heart pounding. "You- you win, Eddie," Waylon finally manages. He can't help but smile. Eddie remains on top of Waylon, staring down into his eyes. 

What if I just kissed him? Would it really be that bad?

Waylon stares back at Eddie, trying to search his eyes for some sort of clue, some sort of hint as to what he should do. He thinks he sees Eddie look down at Waylon's lips. Isn't that a signal that someone wants to kiss you? Before Waylon has time to make his choice, he hears Miles at the door.

"Just kiss. Why aren't you kissing? Do you think he knows how to kiss," Miles comments, imitating Olaf from Frozen. Eddie turns to look at him and sighs, quickly moving off of Waylon sitting next to him. Waylon struggles to get back up to a sitting position.

"Oh relax, Miles. I said 'fight me' to Eddie and he decided to take me up on it. I lost in like two minutes," Waylon says with a half forced laugh.

"Whatever you say," Miles replies in a sing-song voice. "Anyways, they're about to have us go down to gym. Ethan just got to the unit."

"Why did you feel the need to come all the way down the hall and tell us? He'll call us out from room time any minute," Eddie questions with annoyance.

"Because I felt like it, duh," Miles fake sasses.

"You are so extra it hurts," Waylon says.

"Huh... I'm extra. Since when do you use white girl sayings?" Miles questions. Waylon blushes a bit.

"I don't know, I never pay attention in class and sometimes I overhear the stupid sayings that get popular. I'm sure if I had someone to talk to, a year ago 'yass' would have been my thing," Waylon defends, folding his arms.

"Wow, please don't tell me you drink Starbucks and have a secret pair of Uggs that you wish were socially acceptable for you to wear," Miles teases.

"Fight me," Waylon retorts once again.

"Waylon, you've got the muscular strength of cooked spaghetti. Eddie had you pinned down already, mom's spaghetti." Waylon can't help but burst into laughter.

"Jesus christ, Miles, you're a walking meme," Eddie mumbles. Miles gives Eddie his best finger guns.

"That's where you're wrong, kiddo," Miles replies. Waylon continues to giggle as Eddie sighs and rolls his eyes. 

 

When they get down to the gym, Ethan has two long ropes laid across the room.

"Alright, everyone in the center of the gym, let's sit in a circle," Ethan shouts, his voice echoing through the gym. "Today's ice breaker is your name and.." he pauses for a moment, trying to think of a question. Someone calls out 'your biggest fear'. "That's pretty overused but I like it. Your name and your biggest fear, starting with you." Ethan points directly at Waylon.

"M-me?" Waylon stutters, starting to shake a bit. Ethan nods his head. "C-can I, can I pass. I-I d-don't really feel, I don't, I don't know if, if I'm comfortable," Waylon stammers, feeling his heart hammer in his chest and pound in his ears. 

"It's okay, you're all here in treatment to deal with your problems. If your biggest fear is part of why you're here, you're not going to be judged for it, you'll be helped to overcome it," Ethan reassures. Waylon takes a deep breath.

"I-I'm Waylon and..." he pauses for a moment, feeling his cheeks start to burn. His eyes got the familiar sensation of tears. "My biggest fear is my dad," he says quickly, like the words are hot on his tongue. He looks down as he feels a single tear roll down his cheek. Waylon clenches his fist digging one of his nails into the top of his thumb. 

"I'm Eddie and my biggest fear is poor fashion sense." Eddie quickly pulls the attention from Waylon. A few of the patients laugh. Miles goes next.

"I'm Miles, and my biggest fear is probably that one day, someone will take away my pen and notepad, it's the one thing that helps me deal. If I couldn't write things down I think I'd lose my mind," Miles admits. Waylon can tell he's being genuine. He wipes the tears from his face and gets the courage to look up at the other patients. When they all finish, Ethan stands up.

"Today, you are going to be doing a fairly easy challenge. Luke and I will spin these two ropes. You must run to the ropes, jump over them once, and continue to the other side of the gym and back without the ropes touching you. Everyone got it?" He asks as he gestures for Luke to come over and grab the other ends of the ropes. Ethan has everyone line up on one end of the gym.

"You don't have to follow any order, whenever you're ready, try and go through."

When they start spinning the ropes, a few of the 'cool' patients run to it first. One of the guys gets through it immediately while the other two get hit in the ankles. On his way back, the patient gets hit in the back with the rope.

"That was close, keep trying," Ethan calls out. "C'mon guys, there's a purpose to this challenge. Miles, why don't you give it a shot?"

Miles sighs before walking towards the ropes, waiting to time his jump through. As he watches the ropes, Ethan swings one of them outwards, almost hitting Miles' legs. 

"What the heck, I was just about to jump for it," Miles says.

"The ropes aren't gonna wait forever, you have to jump through them, you don't have time to keep thinking about it. Let's go, Miles, let's see you make it through them!"

Miles sighs before waiting a moment to jump in. He makes it to the other side. After a moment he decides to sprint through it without hesitation, and he makes it through without a problem. A few other patients walk up to the ropes to try.

"Alright, Miles made it, you can stand to the side and form a new group. When the rest of you make it through the ropes, go stand by Miles. Alright people, let's keep going!" Suddenly he smacks the rope down onto the ground. It slaps against the gym floor with a heavy slap. Waylon immediately flinches and covers his ears. It reminds him of the sound of his dad smacking him. He squeezes his eyes shut and leans back against the wall, sliding down. He tries his hardest to ignore his dad, closing his eyes and thinking of anything else, trying to forget the sounds of the rope echoing through his brain. 

"I won't let you come here," Waylon whispers to himself. He looks away from his dad. He will not see him, he will not hear him. Waylon taps his knees together as he tries to think of anything besides his dad. He thinks of Eddie. Waylon focuses on his features, he tries to remember the scars on his face and the shape of them all. He remembers the feeling of the warmth from Eddie's flannel. He plays all of the memories. Snuggling with him, wrestling him, teasing him. Suddenly, he can't see his dad. He can't hear his voice. He uncovers his ears and opens his eyes. Ethan resumes swinging the ropes when he sees Waylon is okay. Eddie is sitting next to him.

"Thank you," Waylon says, hugging Eddie tightly.

"I'm not sure what I did," Eddie replies confused.

"I started to think of my dad, I started to feel the flashbacks, and I thought of you. It was the first thing that popped into my head. I focused on everything I could remember, your voice, your appearance, everything. It was enough. I stopped seeing my dad and I stopped hearing his voice. I know you didn't directly do anything, but you still helped me through." Waylon sighs and slowly stands back up.

"Well, it's nice to know my very existence is that big of a deal," Eddie laughs. 

"Shut up," Waylon says, pushing Eddie's shoulder slightly. 

Patients continue to run through the challenge, until only Eddie, Waylon, and two other patients are left. All four of the patients sigh as Ethan continues to encourage them to do it. Waylon shrugs his shoulders and walks towards it. He only takes a few seconds to watch it before jumping through. He's surprised that he doesn't get hit and pauses after he's jumped through. Ethan takes the moment to swing the rope outwards, hitting Waylon lightly on the back.

"Try again, you can't hesitate. Hesitating gives Luke and I time to hit you with the rope." Waylon groans as he walks around the ropes back to the front. When he goes through he continues to run until he's a safe distance away before stopping. He waits for one of the patients to run through before running at the ropes and jumping through them. As he walks towards the larger group, Eddie runs through the ropes and back in only a few seconds. He rolls his eyes when he gets back through.

"Why do you have such an attitude?" Waylon asks when Eddie gets over to him.

"These challenges are all metaphorical and I find them stupid and unnecessary," Eddie says. When the last two patients get though Ethan calls everyone back to the center of the gym.

"So what did you guys think of the challenge?" Ethan asks once everyone is sitting down.

"It's a metaphor for recovery," Waylon says when no one else speaks up, "and it's supposed to represent how recovery is easier for some people than it is for others. Like, going through the ropes without getting hit would be easier for someone like me, since I'm rather small. And when you smacked the ropes down and it freaked me out, like that's supposed to represent dealing with the painful stuff," Waylon finishes. He takes a deep breath, trying to ignore his anxiety spiking. 

A few other patients start to speak up about what the challenge represented for them. 

"Waylon, can I ask you a question?" Ethan asks after a patient finishes speaking. Waylon nods his head. "Earlier, you said that you were afraid of your dad, and when I smacked the ropes down, it was clear that the loud noise had been triggering for you. Are those two things related? The loud noises being upsetting and your fear of your dad?" Waylon nods again. "So, the ropes became a trigger for you, yet you still faced them. This applies to all of you here. In order to recover, you'll have to go back and face the things that make you uncomfortable. It's essential for full recovery."

Waylon hears Eddie sigh.

"You really hate this stuff that much?" Waylon whispers to Eddie.

"It just feels too cheesy for me. Like, I don't need a metaphor to understand recovery or whatever. I know how to do it, even if it's not easy. These challenges just aren't my thing," Eddie answers. 

When they go back up to the unit, Luke announces that the card games and board games are available for the next thirty minutes in the group and day rooms.

"The staff who was supposed to be running art therapy had an emergency and she won't be able to make it," he explains. A few patients groan and complain. 

"Hey Eddie, wanna play Uno with Waylon and I? Promise I won't totally destroy you," Miles says tauntingly. 

"I'm gonna pass, I'd really like to finish my book," Eddie says, turning to walk down the hall. He didn't really plan on reading. He wanted to think, and his room would be quiet and empty. When he gets to his room he lays on his bed and sighs.

Eddie can't stop thinking about what Waylon had said earlier, about thinking of him to get through his flashbacks.

I was the first thing that came to his mind, even when he was in distress. 

Eddie smiles to himself at that thought, the idea that in Waylon's mind, he's relatively important. Over the week, Eddie had all but ignored whatever it was he felt for Waylon. He didn't want to think about it. He would rather live in denial for the rest of his life than admit that another person meant anything more to him than just a friend. Eddie was independent. He prided himself on it. He viewed letting another person become important in his life as dependence, and he struggled accept that.

Eddie thinks back to wrestling Waylon earlier. He thinks about the way Waylon had smiled, even while pinned underneath him. 

I wanted to kiss him. I think I still do.

Eddie groans. This wasn't fair. He shouldn't be forced to deal with feelings for Waylon. He was supposed to spend a few months in Mount Massive and return to his life as a tailor. The money was good and all he had to rely on was himself. He had a few people he hired to help him out, mostly with displays and advertisements as well as taking customers requests. As long as he was given the right information, all he had to do was rely on himself to get the important work done. 

What exactly do I feel for Waylon? I want to kiss him. I can't deny that. It can't be lust, I'm not some filthy whore. There's more to what I feel for him.

Eddie doesn't like thinking about his emotional feelings of it all, and instead tries to rationalize again. The two had spent almost an entire week together. Except for when Waylon was pulled to the examination room for his tube feedings, they were never really apart. 

Our propinquity must be incredibly high, and the brain's natural response is the get feelings, because love is out of convenience. 

Eddie has been repeating this to himself the past week, trying to stay rational. It's true, people fall in love with those it's most convenient to, and every night, Waylon sleeps in a bed that is only a few feet away. It is rather convenient. 

Feelings are awful. Part of me wants to get over whatever this is, but the other part of me wants to hold Waylon and kiss him and call him mine.

Eddie groans once again, hitting the back of his head against the wall a few times.

"Fuck this," he says sighing. Why did this all have to be so difficult? Why couldn't Eddie just get a little note or something that says 'Yeah, you have actual feelings for Waylon'?

"Dammit," Eddie says to himself, tilting his head back and looking at the ceiling. "I have feelings for Waylon. I can't deny it. Why does this have to be so complicated?" He hides his face into his hands and groans.

If he hadn't covered his face, he might've noticed Waylon standing there in the doorway, his wide eyes enough of a hint that he'd heard what Eddie just said.

Chapter Text

Oh Miss believer, my pretty sleeper

Your twisted thoughts are like snow on the road

Your shaking shoulders proves that it's colder

Inside your mind than the winter of dead

I will tell you I love you

But the muffs on your ears will cater you fears

My nose and feet are running as we start

To travel through snow

Together we'll go

Together we'll go

 

Waylon stands in the door frame for a few seconds, frozen in place, before finally remembering how to walk. He quietly backs out of the room.

That actually just happened. I'm not imagining it. Eddie just said he has feelings for me. What do I do? Should I go back and tell him that I heard him?

Waylon sighs. He understands what Eddie meant when he asked why this all had to be so complicated. Why are feelings so hard to be open about? When Waylon gets back to the group room he takes a deep breath and wipes the sweat that has formed on the palms of his hands onto his sweats. Miles seems to still pick up on it.

"What did Eddie say?" Miles asks as he deals out money into three piles.

"Uh, he wasn't feeling up to Monopoly. I mean we don't even have that much time and this game takes forever to finish," Waylon tries to speak with an even tone.

"I can just write down what everyone has. In case you forgot, taking notes on details is kinda my thing. Speaking of details, what's up with you?"

"Oh, um, nothing, I just don't want to keep bothering Eddie. I think he might just want to be alone," Waylon stutters.

That last part isn't a lie. He seemed like he didn't want to be bothered. I can't go back there. I need time to think, to plan what I'll say, if I even do say anything to him about it. Should I confront him? Tell him that I heard what he said. Should I confide in him? Tell him that I'm starting to get feelings for him and see if he admits that he is too? I don't want to push him into a hard place, he clearly doesn't deal with his emotions too often. I have no idea what I'm going to do...

"Hey, earth to Waylon. Are you there?" Miles waves his hand in front of Waylon's eyes.

"Huh? Oh, y-yeah, I was just thinking," Waylon replies trying to sound casual. Playing it cool wasn't one of Waylon's talents.

"If you don't want to go down there, I will and I'll drag his butt down here. Maybe I'll ask him if he knows why you're acting weird."

Waylon can tell that Miles is fishing, trying to get Waylon to go down there and get Eddie, but he can't tell if Miles is actually going to go through with the last part. Waylon finally sighs and agrees to go back and get Eddie to join them in Monopoly.

"I don't understand why this game is such a big deal to you..." Waylon mumbles as he walks out of the group room. When he walks down the hall, he does it as slowly as he can without looking weird.

I won't bring it up. I'll act as if this is the first time I've come down to our room, as if I never heard him say he has feelings for me, as if I don't have any feelings for him. I'm not going to push him.

Waylon groans and leans against the wall. He doesn't want to do that. Knowing Eddie feels something for him makes butterflies rip through his stomach and his heart skip a beat. He doesn't want to just ignore that.

If I did tell him, and whatever this is went somewhere and then ended, that would make things hella awkward. Even if I avoided him at meals and groups, we'd still sleep in the same room each night.

Waylon continues to walk down the hall, letting his feet drag, making his socks make a quiet scratching noise against the wood. Hopefully Eddie can hear it and Waylon won't walk in and hear any more personal confessions. At the last second he decides he won't bring it up. He's not going to say anything. When he walks into the room, Eddie is sitting on his bed with his back against the wall, leaning his head back and looking up at the ceiling. As soon as Waylon sees Eddie he feels himself grow tense and awkward.

"Oh, um, hey Eddie," Waylon greets, wiping his hands on his sweats once more. Eddie looks at Waylon, picking up on Waylon's strange behavior.

"Everything okay, Darling?" he asks.

"Yep, yeah yeah, it's all good, everything, all good. It's all okay. Miles wanted me to come," Waylon pauses, cringing at his choice of words, "uh, he wanted me to find you and ask if you wanted us to play with Monopoly, uh I mean, play Monopoly with us, I mean, if you want to or..." Waylon let's his voice fall quiet. He rubs the back of his neck, gritting his teeth at how badly he butchered his whole 'play it cool' act.

Smooth, Waylon. Real smooth.

"Are you sure everything is okay?" Eddie asks, getting up from the bed and walking towards Waylon. Waylon quickly turns to the wall, he can't look Eddie in the face. "Did do something?" Eddie questions, his voice has a slight strain in it. He sounds hurt. Waylon immediately feels guilty. He can't do this to Eddie. He can't do this to himself either. Waylon knows there's something there. Maybe a week is too soon for some people, but Eddie wasn't just someone or some person. Waylon knew he sounded like every cliche teenager in the movies, but Eddie was different. For Waylon at least.

Only one other person in his life had held him through the night, his mother, when Waylon was still a baby and before he could remember. No one in his life had rubbed his back and showed the concern or knew what to say to calm him down from his flashbacks, except for the nurse in the hospital who was trained to do so. No one was like Eddie.

"No, no you didn't, listen I, well, I came down here a few minutes ago, and I wasn't trying to eavesdrop or anything but I heard you talking and I heard what you said, that you had feelings for me," Waylon starts to explain. "I freaked out, not because of what you said but because, no one's, no one's ever had feelings for me, and so I freaked out and ran back to the group room. I thought about it, and I know that this probably isn't the easiest thing for you, but I'm just gonna say that I have feelings for you too. Earlier today, when you had me pinned down and you were staring into my eyes, God this is gonna sound cheesy, I felt something, and... and if Miles hadn't barged in, I might've worked up the courage to kiss you." Waylon's heart is pounding when he's finished talking. He waits for Eddie to say something. Waylon looks down to the floor. His feelings were out there, he couldn't take it back, and he was starting to feel some regrets. He had just potentially jeopardized their relationship, friends or not.

Eddie opens his mouth and takes deep breath, like he's about to say something, but he isn't sure. He continues to do this until he finally finds the words he's looking for.

"Where is Miles now?" Eddie finally asks after a moment. Waylon isn't expecting that, and he shakes his head in confusion.

"He's in the group room getting the game set up, why do you-"Waylon starts to say, but he's cut off when Eddie grabs Waylon's hips and pulls him closer. Eddie's nose is almost brushing against his, and Waylon suddenly can't find his breath, the air getting trapped somewhere in his throat. His heart starts to pound as he looks up into Eddie's eyes.

"I want to kiss you, Darling," Eddie whispers. It takes Waylon a moment to realize Eddie is asking for permission. Waylon would have said yes if his voice wasn't lost somewhere deep in his lungs. Instead, he reaches up and grabs Eddie's chin, rubbing his thumb back and forth on his jaw few times. Waylon then gently pulls Eddie's lips to his. The moment they meet, Waylon thinks his legs might collapse underneath him. He can't even tell if they're still there. It's like they've run off, leaving Waylon off balance.

Waylon reaches under Eddie's arms and grabs his shoulders, keeping himself steady. Eddie tightens his grip on Waylon's hips and lifts him up, setting him down on the dresser behind him. Waylon isn't sure what someone is supposed to do when kissing. He had absolutely no experience. He pulls Eddie's body closer to his, hoping that it's the right thing to do.

Eddie pushes his lips against Waylon's harder this time, and Waylon appreciates that they're soft. Suddenly Eddie bites Waylon's lower lip. Waylon can't help but giggle. He feels Eddie's lips pull into a smile as they continue to kiss. Eddie runs his hand slowly down Waylon's neck and back, letting it rest on the small of Waylon's back.

Waylon could sit here and kiss Eddie for the rest of the day and all through the night into the early morning. Eddie pulls sway from the kiss first to look down Waylon, who keeps his eyes closed for a moment after the kiss.

"That was, I don't, I'm not even sure, I just... wow," Waylon finally manages, his head still spinning. "All you did was kiss me, and I can't even form a coherent though," Waylon laughs. Eddie smiles.

"I hate to break it to you, darling, but you pulled my lips to yours, you kissed me," Eddie replies, kissing Waylon gently. "That time, I kissed you."

"I suppose we should get back before Miles decides to come check on us," Waylon suggests. They were in quite the compromising position, and even though Miles generally had a light hearted and joking attitude, there was no telling how extreme his reaction would be, not that it would necessarily be negative.

"Hmm, maybe we should," Eddie replies before grabbing Waylon's thighs and picking him up. Waylon wraps his legs around Eddie, giggling as Eddie kisses his jaw and his ear and then leaves a small trails of kisses down the right side of Waylon's neck. Each one sends chills down Waylon's spine and he feels a moan rise up his throat.

"Do you like that, darling?" Eddie asks, continuing his kisses. Waylon feels his cheeks heat up.

"I can't help it," Waylon manages to answer. As Eddie's gentle lips work another quiet moan out of Waylon, Waylon starts to feel a wave of heat below his waist and immediately tenses up. Nothing like an uninvited erection to make things awkward. That was another thing Waylon had never dealt with in his life before. Girls never gave him the time of day, although looking back on it, it's not like they'd have much effect on him anyway. In gym, Waylon was always the last to enter the locker rooms, changing in the stalls if anyone was around to avoid someone finding out how skeletal he was. Nothing in his life had ever given him a reaction like that. It's mortifying for Waylon, to say the least. 

"Wait," Waylon says quickly. Eddie carefully sets him down on the dresser.

"What is it, darling?" Eddie asks, grabbing Waylon's hands and locking their fingers together. 

"M-maybe we should stop, Miles will come to check on us any minute and..." Waylon is too embarrassed to admit that he's feeling turned on, and his body is showing it. As if Eddie can read Waylon's thoughts, he looks down.

"Ohhh," Eddie says after a moment, looking back up at Waylon, who's cheeks are as red as a rose. Eddie can't help but chuckle. "I didn't realize you were enjoying yourself that much," Eddie teases. Waylon pushes Eddie.

"Shut up, it's not my fault. I had no idea neck kisses would be... such a turn on," Waylon argues, trying his best to will his little friend away.

"I'm only teasing. Maybe I did go a little fast," Eddie replies looking into Waylon's eyes. He runs his thumb back and forth across Waylon's cheek. "You're beautiful, Darling," Eddie comments, kissing Waylon's cheek.

"You're not making this easy," Waylon states shyly, gesturing down. Waylon tries to pay attention to the room, noting the cracks and chips in the paint and the finger smudges on the windows. 

Eddie smiles and kisses Waylon's forehead before walking over to his bed, leaving Waylon to deal with his problem without any distractions. Waylon slides off the dresser and turns toward the wall, trying to think of anything but Eddie. He tries to find objects in the texture of the plaster on the wall, noticing a spot that faintly resembles a horse with a saddle and a small monkey. The concentration on the wall finally distracts Waylon's mind enough and the tightness in his pants goes away.

When they walk down the hall to the group room, Waylon can't help but blush every time he looks at Eddie. He knows Miles will pick up on it the second he sees Waylon. When they get into the group room, everything is set up on the table. Miles is sitting, looking impatient. 

"Everything good between you guys?" Miles asks as they sit down at the table. Immediately Waylon turns pink and looks way. "Jeez Waylon, you look like you just committed a murder. Wait, whoa, did you guys, y'know? I mean, a lot can happen in five minutes."

"Get your mind out of the gutter, Miles. That's not what happened," Eddie grumbles, choosing the thimble game piece.

"Waylon's face is as red as a stop light. Something happened between you two, c'mon, just tell me," Miles begs dramatically.

"Gee Miles, why don't you ask a little louder for the staff to hear," Waylon scolds, choosing the dog. 

"Why would it matter if they heard? If you guys don't have anything to hide the staff will just restrict me to the unit for a day for spreading rumors," Miles says, grabbing the ship and placing it on 'Go' with a loud thunk.

"Okay, yeah, we kissed a little, why do you care so much?" Waylon replies in a quiet whisper. 

"My man, up top! How was your first kiss?" Miles asks. Waylon smacks Miles hand with as much aggression as his thin arms can give, which gets the attention of Luke. He gives Waylon a look before resuming his conversation with another staff.

"Can we not talk about it right now?" Waylon pleads. Miles pouts a little before giving up on prying information out of Waylon. 

When it's time for lunch, Miles owns half the board, and has started placing houses on all of them. Miles teases Waylon for not being an aggressive player but Waylon just punches Miles in the shoulder. Lunch is grilled cheese and tomato soup. Waylon get's both, his hands shaking slightly. He wants to try to hit fifty percent again but his stomach still feels full from breakfast. When he sits down at the table, both Eddie and Miles look at Waylon, concerned with the amount of food he has.

"Darling, are you sure you'll be able to eat all of that? I know you want to get your feeding tube out, but pushing yourself past your limits is going to make you more likely to relapse. Your progress needs to be steady and sustained, not rapid," Eddie reminds. 

"I know, but this should be more than fifty percent, so I may not have to eat all of it," Waylon replies, pulling a piece of his sandwich off and chewing it slowly. "Besides, the more I stretch out my stomach the easier it will be to continue to eat," Waylon reasons.

"That doesn't mean that you should push yourself too far or too fast. Miles and I both saw how much you struggled this morning at breakfast, and you looked sick afterwards. I know that it's good that you're eating more, but you have the feeding tube for a reason," Eddie says. Waylon doesn't say anything back, instead pulling another piece off of his sandwich. 

Luke comes over to their table and writes down what all of them are eating like he normally does, pausing when he gets to Waylon. 

"Hey, Luke? How much of this do I need to eat to get to fifty percent?" Waylon asks. Luke crouches down by Waylon and lowers his voice.

"How about you start by eating the amount that you're comfortable with and we go from there? When it comes to eating disorders, your focus shouldn't be numbers. I know your case isn't dealing with typical anorexia and that you don't focus on calories or weight, but it's still an eating disorder, and the best way to recover is to learn to eat a healthy amount that you're comfortable with," Luke responds.

When Luke stands up straight and walks to the next table Waylon takes a large bite of his grilled cheese, glaring at Luke. He just wanted to know how much he needed to eat so he could get his feeding tube out. 

The rest of the meal is quiet at Waylon's table, except for the occasional encouragement from Miles. Waylon finishes all of his tomato soup and a fourth of the grilled cheese when Luke announces its time to clear trays and line up to go back on the unit. Waylon shows Luke his tray before clearing, looking over his shoulder to see the number he writes. Thirty five. Waylon sighs as he steps into line. 

When they get back on the unit Waylon stands to the side as everyone goes into the group room, waiting for Lucy to pull him aside and take him to the examination room. 

"Can we please just get this over with as quick as possible?" Waylon asks as he pushes himself up onto the examination table. 

"I can't feed you too fast, the quickest it will get done is probably forty five minutes. You usually take a little over an hour. I know that these are boring and that you miss a lot of group because of them, but it's important that your feedings are done right, or you'll be more likely to relapse," Lucy explains as she twists the valve and starts the flow of the liquid food. 

When Waylon gets back to his room he flops down onto his bed, feeling worn out and exhausted. He stares up at the ceiling and sighs.

"Feeling alright?" Eddie asks. His voice startles Waylon, who had momentarily forgotten about Eddie's existence, or anyone else's for that matter.

"I'm tired. Do you think that they'd let me take a nap and sleep through the next group?" Waylon questions, closing his eyes and covering them with his arm. He throws his leg off of the bed with a dramatic huff, letting it hang off of the edge.

"If you're asleep when they call us down to group, they probably won't wake you up. Especially in your case, sleep can't do you any harm," Eddie answers. "Would you like me to close the blinds?"

"Yes, if you wouldn't mind," Waylon replies, yawning. He sits up and pulls the blankets out from under him, pulling them up to his chin and curling up. Eddie gets up from his bed and closes the blinds, pausing for a moment, before deciding to give Waylon a gentle kiss on the cheek.

"You're so sweet," Waylon says, smiling and looking up at Eddie, trying to keep his drooping eyelids open.

"Sleep well, Darling," Eddie responds. He smiles as he watches Waylon close his eyes and squirm around to get comfortable. Eddie chuckles at how adorable Waylon is. He sighs. Somehow he was letting someone squeeze into his heart. He couldn't even explain why Waylon was the exception to his usual emotional coldness. He didn't understand how all it took was a cute and awkward roommate to change his thoughts about relationships and dependence. But Eddie did understand that it felt nice, and it caused a warmth in his heart that he didn't want to lose. Maybe he was falling for Waylon too fast, but he was comfortable with it. 

 

Chapter Text

 

I am not as fine as I seem, pardon

Me for yelling I'm telling you green gardens

Are not what's growing in my psyche, it's a different me

A difficult beast feasting on burnt-down trees

Freeze frame, please let me paint a mental picture portrait

Something you won't forget, it's all about my forehead

And how it is a fort that hold's back contents

And makes Pandora's box's contents look non-violent

 

Waylon wakes up more excited than normal. After another week and a half his treatment team had agreed he could get his feeding tube out. Waylon had been eating between thirty and forty percent of all his meals, sometimes fifty if he was feeling brave, and was finishing the meal supplement drinks when he didn't eat enough. He had put on two more pounds and was feeling the most energetic since he could remember. 

At breakfast Waylon gets an apple and bacon and eggs.

"You look so excited today, Darling. You're adorable when you're excited," Eddie comments as they sit down at their usual table.

"I'm trying to eat over here. You guys make me so nauseas with your cringe worthy relationship," Miles groans. Waylon just rolls his eyes.

"We're cute and you know it," Waylon replies, sticking his tongue out.

"I'm not sure cute is the word for vomit-inducing," Miles shoots back.

"Fight me," Waylon jokingly challenges.

"Waylon, you weigh less than a pillow. You're gonna say 'fight me' to the wrong person and get your ass handed to you," Miles says. He grabs a piece of ice from his cup and throws it at Waylon. Waylon finishes the water in his styrofoam cup and tosses it in Miles' direction. It doesn't even make it close to him, instead falling onto the ground and rolling to the side of the table. 

"I didn't see anything, but you better not leave a mess. The cafeteria staff will give us hell if you do," Frank interrupts as he writes down what everyone has on their tray.

"Oh-oh, yeah, of course, we won't leave a mess," Waylon quickly says, leaning over in the chair to pick it up. Miles snickers under his breath, Waylon responding with a firm kick in the shin. 

"You're supposed to play footsies with your boyfriend, not your best friend," Miles teases.

"Who said anything about being best friends?" Waylon jokes. Miles throws another piece of ice at Waylon. It hits him right in the cheek. "Christ Miles, I will smack you in the face as hard as I can. I may have noodles for arms but I'm not entirely weak." Both Eddie and Miles laugh. "I'm not!" Waylon defends. "I may be a chihuahua but dammit, I will still hurt you!" Waylon can't help but join them in laughter as he says it. 

When they get back on the unit, everyone is ushered into their rooms quickly. A few patients try to ask what's happening, but a loud shriek from down the right hall answers their question.

"We need all patients in their rooms now. You close your doors and you do not leave until we say so!" Frank yells.

"I'll kill you, I'll fucking kill you all!" The patient down the hall screams. "You bastards won't survive. I'll rip your guts out, cut your fingers off, I'll stab you all and I'll fucking kill you!"

Chills run up Waylon's spine and he practically sprints down his hallway into his room. Eddie quickly follows after him. Even with the door shut, the sound of fists slamming into the wall can be heard echoing as well as the patient's angry shouting.

"It's okay, this happens from time to time. A patient gets set off and goes ballistic. He doesn't mean what he's saying. He probably suffers from issues with anger management or a personality disorder that amplifies his anger. He's a new admit, got here last night. We're going to be okay," Eddie comforts as he sits next to Waylon on his bed, rubbing his back as Waylon rocks back and forth. His shaking has started to make the whole bed vibrate. 

"P-please, I'm freaking out, I need you to talk to me, please keep my mind here," Waylon says as he starts to cry. 

Eddie quickly pulls Waylon into a tight hug, kissing Waylon on the top of his head.

"You're okay, Waylon. Deep breaths, Darling. You're safe in my arms. I've got you, I'm right here. Listen to my voice, focus on my words. I'm here, I'm real. You're safe Waylon. I'm the only person here, my voice is the only one here. You're going to be okay," Eddie reassures. Waylon's shaking has started to calm down. 

They continue to sit there, Eddie trying his best to keep his voice gentle but loud enough to mask the banging on the wall, which seems to have moved closer to the nurses station. Waylon starts to adjust so that he is straddling Eddie's lap. 

"I need a better distraction," Waylon says, wiping the tears from his face then pulling Eddie's head closer to his. The feeling of Eddie's warm lips against his own makes his heart pound but in a good way. He focuses on how soft they are, pressing more kisses onto Eddie's lips. He feels Eddie's tongue press against his lips. Waylon feels butterflies in his stomach, opening his mouth and letting Eddie's tongue inside. 

Eddie tastes like oranges, probably from breakfast. It's sweet but faint and Waylon likes it. Waylon can't help but grind his hips, feeling a warm sensation growing below his waist. His boxers quickly grow tight. Eddie reaches down and rubs Waylon through his sweats, which works a moan out of Waylon. He hears Eddie chuckle.

"Darling, you're so easy to excite," Eddie comments, lifting Waylon from his lap and pushing him back on the bed, crawling on top of him. Eddie groans as he pushes his hips into Waylon's. Waylon can't help but gasp, biting his lip to keep himself quiet as he grinds his hips into Eddie's.

Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god, is all Waylon can think as he tries to concentrate on not making a total fool of himself. I'm going to have sex with Eddie, holy shit. This is actually gonna happen. Waylon starts to feel anxious. What if I'm not good? What if he doesn't like it? What if I totally screw everything up?

"I-I haven't ever, y'know, and-and I want to but I'm not sure..." Waylon tries to say, cut off as Eddie runs his hand up Waylon's thigh, his thoughts becoming a jumble in his brain as the sensation temporarily overwhelms him. "I want... you," Waylon admits, not sure how to properly say that he wants to feel Eddie as intimately as possible. Eddie kisses Waylon's neck, nipping at the tender skin, furthering Waylon's arousal. Waylon pulls Eddie's hips against his own, his breathing already becoming labored and heavy. Eddie trails his tongue along Waylon's jaw, before sitting up and hooking his fingers under the waistband of Waylon's sweats. 

"Do I have your consent, Darling? Your full permission?" Eddie asks. 

"Yes," Waylon answers a little too eagerly. Eddie can't help but grin, pulling Waylon's sweats off in one swift movement and tossing them to the floor.

Oh god, white boxers, could I be any more virgin? Waylon thinks to himself, blushing a little. Eddie senses Waylon's timidness.

"Waylon, you have nothing to worry about," Eddie reassures, kissing him softly and letting one of his hands glide down Waylon's abdomen and below his waist. Waylon lets his eyes close, enjoying the gentle massage of Eddie's fingertips over his manhood. 

Oh man, wouldn't this be a bad time for Miles to walk in, Waylon thinks, looking over to the door just to double check.

Losing his virginity was less painful than Waylon had feared it might be, but he still couldn't help but grit his teeth as Eddie first pushed himself inside of Waylon. 

 Eddie makes a sort of sighing noise, exercising all of his self control to go slowly for Waylon's sake. He looks down at Waylon, and the moment they make eye contact they both look away quickly. It's just too awkward. Already in such a vulnerable situation, looking into each other's eyes was too much. Waylon let's out an awkward giggle and they both share a moment of laughter which helps to lessen the sudden tension.  

When Eddie's pace quickens, Waylon almost immediately digs his nails into Eddie's back, the faster tempo eliciting a few moans from both partners. Waylon's back arches slightly as he feels a pressure slowly start to build up, his fingers losing feeling as he clings onto Eddie tighter. Eddie can't help but smile, knowing such a fundamental and basic human act could have Waylon clawing at him with such desperation. 

With every thrust, Waylon feels the pressure build. Eddie pushes further into him, his breathing now heavy, his groans of pleasure dancing into Waylon's ears. Waylon can't help but tighten around Eddie, who had started to hit Waylon in his "sweet spot".  

"Fuck," Eddie can't help but swear under his breath. "The way you make me feel, Darling, is so wonderful," Eddie whispers, kissing Waylon and biting his lips a little harder. Waylon gasps as Eddie makes more forceful thrusts, the slow build up of pressure starting to become unbearable. 

"Oh Eddie," Waylon moans as he feels his climax start to approach. A warmth starts to grow until Waylon reaches his orgasm, his release causing him to tighten around Eddie once more in a few short bursts. Eddie thrusts himself into Waylon one final time, groaning as he finds his relief inside of him. 

"Man, wow, that was, that was," Waylon starts to say as he struggles to catch his breath. Eddie lays beside Waylon, kissing him behind the ear.

"That was amazing, Darling," Eddie finishes, his fingers tracing up and down Waylon's upper arm softly. 

"I don't even know what to say," Waylon admits. "That was a pretty good distraction," Waylon remarks. 

"It certainly was," Eddie replies, kissing Waylon's neck. Waylon turns to face him, kissing him slowly.

"Do you think they'll give me new sheets?" Waylon asks when he looks down and notices the small mess he has on his stomach, taking his sheets to wipe it off and tossing them to the side. Eddie laughs.

"If they don't give you new sheets, you can join me in my bed tonight," Eddie replies, kissing him once again. The continued banging on the walls interrupts them from their moment. "We should probably get dressed before the situation calms down and one of the staff, or god forbid, Miles, walks in." Eddie says, reaching for the previously discarded articles of clothing. Waylon doesn't bother sitting up, pushing his hips up as he tugs on his pants, starting to feel worn out and still trying to catch his breath. 

When Eddie is fully dressed, he lays down next to Waylon, who cuddles against his chest. 

"I really like you, Eddie," he says after a moment. 

"If you didn't, that would make things pretty awkward at this point," Eddie replies, kissing Waylon softly on the top of his head. Waylon curls up against Eddie and smiles.

 

About an hour after lunch, Lucy takes Waylon to the examination room to pull his tube out. She gets him a cup of water and brings over the trash bin.

"I've had an NG feeding tube before while I was doing some nursing training and personally, I think taking it out is worse. You're probably going to need this," She says as she puts on a pair of gloves and grabs a few paper towels. 

"That's very reassuring," Waylon replies with a chuckle.

"Hey, it's better to know what to expect, right? It's not like this is something that has the potential to be fatal, a bit of gagging, maybe some vomiting, and you'll be on your way," Lucy says laughing.

"Gee, I'm feeling better about it already," Waylon jokes. 

Getting it pulled out does make him gag several times, but when it's over, Waylon feels a huge relief. His nose no longer feels like half is stuffy and he can swallow without the tube rubbing slightly against his throat. 

When he gets back on the unit, it's pretty much empty. 

"Where is everyone?" Waylon asks Lucy.

"Probably downstairs for visits. I think this is the first time you've been on the unit during one. They're once a week on Thursdays for two hours. Patients with visits went down just a few minutes ago so you've got two hours to do what you'd like. The group room should be unlocked, maybe you can find another patient and play a card game," Lucy answers, going behind the nurses station to put Waylon's file away.

Waylon walks down the hall to Miles' room, poking his head in the doorframe. Miles is sitting at the desk, writing away in his notepad.

"No visitors?" Waylon inquires.

"Nah, there's no way in hell I'm talking to my foster parents. They've asked to come see me a few times, even drove down to see me, but I keep refusing. It's like, what, suddenly you guys care about me because insurance might not cover this and you want me out as soon as possible to save money?" Miles replies bitterly. "Eddie went down to see his family. Apparently everyone came down today, his sister and brother, his parents and his aunt and uncle. Isn't he lucky to have so many people who care about him."

"I know how you feel, Miles. I still haven't heard anything about the situation with my dad and I can't remember the last time I talked to any other relative. I've got no one but you two idiots," Waylon comforts. The last part makes Miles laugh. "Wanna go play some cards in the group room. I literally have nothing else to do," Waylon offers. Miles looks unsure. "C'mon, you can totally whoop my butt at Uno again."

Miles sighs before standing up from the desk and closing his notepad and following Waylon to the group room. After a few rounds, the sound of the doors to the unit flying open startles both Miles and Waylon.

"Do you need to talk to someone about this, Eddie?" Frank asks. Eddie glares back at him.

"I have nothing to talk about," Eddie spits bitterly before storming down the hall to his room. Miles gives Waylon a look.

"Dude what the hell?" Miles questions.

"I don't know why you expect me to know what's going on. He didn't even tell me he was going to visits today," Waylon says to Miles, getting up from his chair. "He seemed pretty angry, I don't know if I should talk to him."

"I'll stay close behind you in case he flies off the handle. I've never seen him like this before, seriously, what the fuck?" Miles replies, standing up and following Waylon out the door.

When Waylon gets to his room, he pauses for a moment. He turns back to Miles who just shrugs his shoulders. As Waylon takes a step forward, he hears Eddie sniffle.

Is he crying? Is that the sound of Eddie actually crying?

Waylon walks into the room slowly, clearing his throat to let Eddie know he's there. Eddie is sitting on the edge of his bed, facing the window. His fists are clenched by his sides, his knuckles white. Eddie shudders and leans forward, his face collapsing into his hands. Waylon carefully approaches Eddie.

"Are you okay?" Waylon asks. Eddie lets out a muffled sob. The sound breaks Waylon's heart. 

I don't know if I'm emotionally equipped to deal with this, Waylon thinks to himself, trying to figure out what to say. He places a hand on Eddie's shoulder. Eddie stiffens up and tilts his head towards the ceiling, grabbing the edges of the bed tightly. He purses his lips together, his bottom lip quivering slightly. His eyes look broken, filled with an immense amount of pain. It hurts Waylon to see.

"Come here," Waylon says, sitting on the bed next to Eddie and pulling him close. 

"I'm a monster," Eddie finally says after a few minutes of silence, his voice barely a whisper.

"Don't say that, Eddie. You're not a monster," Waylon assures.

"Yes, I am. I broke my mother's heart. She started crying in the visit. Talking about how much she misses me. I couldn't stand it. She's the perfect mother, and I'm-I'm sitting here, trying to get better from what? A bit of depression. I'm pathetic." The self hatred drips off his voice with such anger that Waylon is startled. He'd never imagined Eddie could have this side. Even if he was emotionally closed off, he always appeared confident. 

"You don't need to hate yourself just because you're struggling and in need of help. Eddie, depression is serious. It takes lives every year. What if it chose to take you next? Don't you think that would hurt your mother more to find you dying of an overdose, or bleeding out because you thought maybe things would feel a little better if you left gashes in your wrists and she couldn't do anything because it was too late. Eddie, you're getting help so that you can be happy. That's all your mother wants. She's hurting because her child is hurting, and that would break the heart of any decent mother," Waylon comforts.

"I hate seeing her like this," Eddie states. "It feels awful."

"That's how I feel seeing you beating yourself up over this. That's how I feel knowing that you think so little of yourself. You're worth so much more than you give yourself credit for."

"How do you know that?" Eddie questions. "How do you know I'm so great? What if I just break your heart? What if I mess everything up? You don't know what I am, Waylon." Eddie continues to fall into his negative self talk.

"I know that when we kiss I feel this indescribable joy in my soul. I know that every time I see your face, I can't help but smile, because you are so beautiful. I know that today, when we went all the way, I felt trust for you. Trust that you're an amazing person. Trust that you're the gentleman your were raised to be," Waylon admits, hoping Miles isn't listening in to the conversation.

"When did you get such a way with words, Darling?" Eddie asks, wiping tears from his eyes and sighing.

"I have no idea," Waylon answers honestly. He hugs Eddie tightly, resting his head on Eddie's shoulder. "You know I'm always here for you right?" Waylon asks, looking up at Eddie.

"I do now. Thank you, Waylon." Eddie takes a deep breath. "I needed to hear that." Eddie kisses Waylon, placing his hand on Waylon's cheek. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Miles in the doorway, making choking gestures. Waylon tries to stifle a giggle. "What is it?" Eddie asks, looking to the door. He rolls his eyes when he sees Miles standing there.

"He was worried about you , y'know." Waylon says. Miles shoots Eddie some finger guns. 

"I care about you too, kiddo," Miles replies.

 "If you really cared you'd stop doing those damned finger guns every two seconds," Eddie groans.

"That's where you're wrong, kiddo," Miles says, snapping his finger into finger guns once again. Waylon and Miles both bust into laughter while Eddie just sighs. "Now, why don't we go back to the group room and finish our game on Monopoly. I have where we left off written in my notebook."

"Miles, if I land on any of your properties more than twice, I'm bankrupt. All I've got going for me is having all four railroads," Waylon complains.

"I could consider giving you a loan," Miles replies.

"So you can just prolong the inevitable?" Waylon questions, folding his arms and giving Miles a look.

"C'mon, it'll be fun, I pinky swear," Miles pleads. Eddie quickly accepts the pinky.

"Better say your goodbyes to one of your pinkies, Miles. I am determined to have absolutely no fun whatsoever." Eddie taunts. Miles rolls his eyes as they walk down the hall and to the group room. 

When Waylon does go bankrupt and gives all his property to Eddie, the other patients have started coming up from visits.

"I'm surprised I lasted that long," Waylon comments as he stretches his back, cringing as it makes several pops.

"I was shocked, too," Eddie teases. The joke flies straight over Miles' head who is writing the current board set up in his notebook. Waylon turns bright red, giving Eddie a light punch in the shoulder. Eddie gently pushes Waylon back.

The next group is art therapy. The staff who runs it is named Anastasia. She has all of her art supplies set out on the counter, letting everyone choose what they would like to make.

"Would anyone like to make any song requests?" She asks as she connects her phone to a portable speaker.

"Do you think you could play Cigarette Daydreams?" One of the older patients asks.

Waylon hums along to the song as he grabs a small canvas and some acrylic paint. He didn't have much experience painting, but it felt like the best option over pastels or using clay.

After a few minutes, he has a pretty decent sunset painted onto the canvas. He looks over to see Eddie sketching. It's a wedding dress. It strikes Waylon as a bit odd.

"Whatcha drawing," Waylon asks as he leans over to get a better look. It's a lovely design, a ball gown style dress, with a tight bodice, ribbon lacing up the front and tying into a bow the top. The arms are lace, the design only just started on a portion.

"I work as a tailor right now, but designing dresses, especially wedding dresses has always been a dream of mine. To see someone walk down the aisle on the happiest day of their life, wearing a dress I designed. I guess that seems like a weird interest for a guy to have," Eddie confesses, wiping away a few eraser shavings off of the paper. 

"Well you do have a really good sense of style, even while locked away in a nuthouse. That drawing is amazing, Eddie. You're extremely talented," Waylon replies. Eddie chuckles.

"Even while locked away in a nuthouse, huh?" Eddie asks, smiling to himself. "I dress to impress. What can I say?"

Waylon watches Eddie continue to sketch the dress, in awe at how quickly Eddie can add in little details. After about twenty more minutes, Eddie signs his name at the bottom.

"It's just a first draft," Eddie explains. "I'm not even sure if I'll continue with it. Maybe it will just be another practice design."

"No, Eddie, it's amazing. You should keep going with it, see where it takes you. Who knows, maybe in a few years, every magazine will be begging for your permission to have models wearing your dresses on the front cover."

"You really think so?" Eddie asks, staring at his drawing critically. 

"I know so," Waylon replies. 

 

 

Chapter Text

Look in the mirror and ask yourself if you're alright

Put out the glitter that your soul  hides behind

You're in my mind

I'm singing

You're in my ming

I'm singing

La da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la da da

 

When Waylon wakes up, it's to Luke gently shaking his shoulder. Waylon looks around, confused. Through the window he sees that the moon is still out, the stars twinkling in his blurred vision.

"What time is it?" Waylon asks as he sits up and rubs his eyes. Even with only the pale, white light shining through the window, Waylon can see the gentle rise and fall of Eddie as he breaths. He looks so peaceful, his hands together and under his cheek, his quiet snores faint, like they were coming from someone much smaller than him

"It's a little past one. CPS and some men from the local police department are here to speak with you," Luke answers.

Waylon follows Luke down the hall to the nurses station where a tall and slender woman with long brown hair and two average sized men in police uniforms are waiting. Waylon's heart starts to pound in his chest.

Why are the police here too?

"Hello, Waylon. I'm Catherine. Would you mind speaking with me and Officer Hunter and Peterson in the group room? We need to talk to you about the case with your dad," she says. She smiles at him, but the tone of her voice is grim.

Waylon starts to shake, the cold of the hall and his anxiety both contributing.

"C-can I go b-back to my room and get a b-blanket?" Waylon asks, his teeth starting to chatter.

"Of course, we'll be waiting in the room. Try to hurry, this is urgent," Catherine answers.

While he walks away he hears Luke quietly ask what this is about. He tries to hear their whispers but he's too far away. When he gets into his room he walks to his bed and pulls the blanket off wrapping it around himself tightly. The thin blanket doesn't offer much warmth. He looks over to Eddie who has rolled onto his stomach, his head facing the wall.

He seems to be sound asleep to Waylon quietly walks over and grabs his sweater from the top drawer. It's a royal blue color, and the inside is lined with fleece, which Waylon instantly feels the effects of.

"Sorry, boyfriend tax," Waylon whispers. Eddie stirs in his sleep but doesn't wake up. Waylon grabs his blanket from the floor and walks back down the hall.

When Waylon gets back, Catherine and the police officers are sitting down at the table.

"What is this all about?" Waylon asks as he sits down, pulling his knees to his chest, trying not to shake.

"Waylon, we have some news about your father," Catherine starts.

"When we came to the house to question him, he managed to get to his car and drive away. We placed a warning on the news with his license plate number and a description of him, and in only a few hours someone reported that the car was empty in their parking lot," Officer Hunter cuts in.

"When we got to the car, it was empty and there weren't any leads. We had a search for him for the past three weeks until he finally was found, in a motel."

"So you have him in custody? What are you guys going to do?" Waylon interrupts, anxious to know why they felt the need to wake him up at 2am.

"Waylon, I'm sorry to inform you, but your father is dead. Autopsy and toxicology tests will likely confirm our current cause of death, alcohol poisoning. We found him a few hours ago."

Waylon's throat tightens up as his eyes being to sting. His stomach feels like it's fallen into a deep pit. He doesn't hear the officer continue to talk about how this means the case will be dropped.

"We're sorry to have to bring you this hard news at such a late hour, but we felt it was important to notify you as soon as possible," Catherine tries to comfort, placing a hand on Waylon's shoulder. He shrugs away from her touch and slouches down in his chair.

"So what happens to me? I have no money, no family, and no place to live when I get our of here," Waylon finally asks, trying to keep his voice from cracking.

"We're currently looking into options for you. This is a very difficult situation, because you will be an adult so soon it puts us into a very hard place," Catherine replies.

"Us? It puts us into a hard place? You get to go home to your family when you're done here. You have a job and money. You have a place to live!" Waylon starts to raise his voice.

"Waylon, that's not what I meant, if you would please calm down," Catherine asks, trying to diffuse the situation.

"You're not struggling with anorexia! You don't have anxiety so bad that you shake all the time and can't breath in scary situations. You have people who love you and support you! My mom has been gone for almost eight years and now my dad is dead! I have no one, don't you get it?"

A few patients have woken up, poking their heads into the hall to see what the commotion is. Luke starts to run over to Waylon.

"This isn't hard for us or you! This is hard for me, not you, I'm the one who's been absolutely fucked over!" Waylon's shouts have woken up most of the unit. Waylon begins to cry, falling to his knees and curling up into a ball, his sobs so intense that he tastes blood at the back of his throat. Most of the unit is now awake, a few patients walking down the halls to try to look into the group room

"Waylon, I need you calm down." Luke crouches down beside Waylon. Waylon tries to hold in his cries, but he can't.

My dad is dead... He can't really be dead. He can't really be gone.

Waylon hears footsteps running down the hall and suddenly arms are around him, holding him tightly.

Eddie doesn't say anything, pulling Waylon into his lap and rubbing his back in small circles. Waylon buries his face into Eddie's shoulder which muffles his cries. Some of the patients go back into their rooms, Waylon quiet enough that he can't be heard down the halls. A few patients still look to see what's going on.

"Alright, alright. Everyone into their rooms, this kid just got some seriously bad news, it's none of your concern," Luke says, gesturing to the patients to go back to their rooms.

Waylon's sobs turn into silent tears.

"My dad is dead," Waylon whispers. "Eddie, I'm completely alone outside of here. I have nothing."

"Oh, Darling, I'm so, so sorry," Eddie consoles. "I can't even begin to imagine what you must be going through. It must feel awful."

"Did you guys have anything else you needed to discuss? I think Waylon needs some time," Luke says to Catherine as he stands up.

"He will be able to leave the facility tomorrow for three hours to go back to his home and get some belongings, mostly clothes. That's all we have for now," Catherine answers.

Luke escorts them out.

"Would you like to go back to our room? I'd imagine a bed is more comfortable than would floors," Eddie suggests.

Waylon doesn't move, continuing to sniffle and soak Eddie's shirt with his tears. Eddie reaches over and grabs the blanket, wrapping Waylon in it and lifting him slowly. Luke gives Eddie a look but Eddie just shakes his head.

"I don't think he could've gotten up if he wanted to. He probably needs to sleep. I don't know why those idiots thought waking him up so early was a good idea," Eddie says to Luke before continuing down the hall.

He sets Waylon on his bed gently, pulling his blankets on top of Waylon, who has started shaking again. Then Eddie slides under the blankets and grabs Waylon by the waist, pulling him close.

"I feel like they just left with a piece of my soul," Waylon whispers.

Eddie kisses Waylon's cheek.

"That must not feel well. It makes sense that you'd be in such emotional pain," Eddie reassures, trying his best to be validating.

Waylon turns in bed and kisses Eddie. He slides his hand down Eddie's chest.

"Darling, stop," Eddie protests, grabbing Waylon's fingers. "I don't think you're in the right state of mind for that."

"Eddie please, I can't stand this pain in my chest. I just want to feel you," Waylon pleads, climbing on top of Eddie and kissing him roughly. He rolls his hips against Eddie's. Eddie can't help but groan. 

"If you weren't so cute..." Eddie mumbles as he pulls Waylon closer. 

 

In the morning, Waylon doesn't remember that his dad is gone. He doesn't remember that he has no where to go and no money or the people skills to get a job. He doesn't remember that he had a mental breakdown last night. He's confused as to why he's in Eddie's bed and missing his pants. 

And then it hits him like a train. His dad is dead.

Why do I miss him? He treated me like garbage, and I miss him.

Waylon rolls over into the bed, pressing his face into his pillow. He can't deal with this. He goes back to sleep. 

When he wakes up again, it's to Frank opening the blinds. The afternoon sun bounces through the room, amplified by the white walls. Waylon groans and covers his eyes.

"Hey kid, it's time to go to your house. You have a three hour pass. Catherine is gonna be here soon to take you, and I'm gonna tag along just in case you need any emotional support, considering your situation," Frank says as Waylon rubs his eyes and sits up. 

"Okay, I'll be up to the nurses station in a few minutes," Waylon replies, fighting the urge to go back to sleep. He steps out of the bed, looking through the blankets for his pants. He gives up, not wanting to deal with the tangled mess of blankets, walking over to his dresser and grabbing a new pair. He keeps Eddie's sweatshirt on, even though he's feeling a bit warm. When Waylon walks to the nurses station, Frank hands him a pair of navy blue shoes.

"These look like the ones they give to prisoners," Waylon comments as he tugs them on.

"Well, we can't let you walking around outside without shoes on. These are the ones they give us. Probably cause they're so damn cheap. You can't walk more than a mile in them before the sole starts to fall off."

When Waylon steps outside he takes a deep breath in. The air is chilly and crisp, and snow is on the ground. It was already a few days until April, but Colorado was on its own weather schedule. Waylon feels awkward sitting in someone else's car. The drive to his house is relatively quick with little traffic on I-25. 

"In a little you're gonna want to take exit 240, I live in Firestone." Catherine nods to indicate that she heard him.

"Are you gonna be okay?" Frank asks as Waylon gives the final directions to his house.

"I'm not sure. It's already been over a month since I've been home. It feels weird. I'm gonna come home and, and he's not gonna be there. Ever again." Waylon sighs and leans his head against the window until his house comes into view.

One of the fews things that Waylon's mother had left behind was a good house. Her parents had helped his mom and down with the mortgage, paying it off in ten years, saying that they were old and needed something productive to do with their money. Waylon thinks of his grandparents. His grandmother had died only a few months before his mother left, and his grandpa only a year and a half before.

Maybe she left because she no longer felt like she had the protection of her parents, maybe losing them was just too much and she needed to get away. Waylon sighs as he steps out of the car.

The front of the house looks exactly the same, except that some patches of green on the lawn have started to poke up through the snow. Waylon's truck is still parked in the driveway, although it looks like it could use a good washing. The front door is unlocked.

"When the police were searching my house, they didn't think once to maybe lock the doors behind them?" Waylon asks in disbelief. 

"You live in a good neighborhood, Waylon. The next door neighbors called in to make a report about a week ago that he was worried you had gone missing after about two weeks of you being in Mount Massive," Catherine replies. 

"Mr. Douglas was worried about me?" Waylon inquires, though the question isn't directed at anyone. Waylon used to be best friends with Henry Douglas, his oldest son. When his mom left, Waylon didn't want to talk to his friends or play outside anymore, even if his dad would have allowed it. 

The inside of the house looks the same as well, the front room still tidy. Two white couches sit on either side of the room, a now-dusty mirror hanging over one couch, and a painting of a fountain hanging over the other. Straight ahead a doorway leads to the kitchen and dining room, and the doorway on the right leads to the living room and stairs to the second floor. Waylon walks to the left, staring at the living room, picturing his dad sitting on the couch, drinking a beer and shouting at him. He shudders and continues up the stairs. The first door to the left is his dad's bedroom. 

"How thoroughly did the police search the place?" Waylon asks as he walks to the closet. 

"They just searched for any clues to where he might have gone and periodically after that to see if there were any signs of him returning home. There wasn't any evidence they were searching for, so most things have been untouched," Catherine answers.

"Ha, I bet if they used a black light they could find traces of my blood in almost every room. Solid evidence of the abuse. I may be good at cleaning, but I'm no forensics clean up guy. Not that it matters now." Waylon frowns. He opens the closet slowly, his mother's wedding dress the first thing he sees, covered in a white plastic sleeve. He'd never actually seen it in person, but when he looked through old photo albums for reminders of what his life was like before his parents' marriage fell apart, he saw tons of pictures from their wedding day. The dress was absolutely beautiful. 

He slides the clothes to the side and reaches into the back of the closet for a blue safe box. The combination is Waylon's birthday, 041299. Waylon switches the numbers into place and opens it up. 

"I've never actually looked into this before, my mom always told me that it was important and to never touch it" Waylon admits. "I'm not even sure how I remembered what the code is." 

The first thing he notices are two birth certificates and two social security cards paper clipped together, Waylon's and his dad's. Waylon sets them to the side. Underneath a pile of documents relating to the house and the house deed itself, Waylon finds a government bond with his name on it.

"How does this work?" Waylon asks as he hands it to Catherine.

"I'm not a hundred percent sure, but I can look into someone who can help you with the financial stuff." 

At the bottom of the box is a paper that says "LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF CHRIS WALKER".

"My dad left a will?" Waylon questions, starting to skim through the letter. "He-he left everything to me?" Waylon feels tears stream down his face. "What the fuck was going through my dad's head? He beat me to a pulp, degraded me, made me terrified to come home, worked me to the point of starvation and then left everything in his will to me?" Waylon rubs his chin, fighting back more tears. "I can't even get answers anymore. I can't figure any of this out. I can't ever get closure." Waylon chokes back a sob as Frank places a hand on his shoulder.

"Maybe it was guilt and anger. It sounds like your father drove your mom away, maybe he was angry at himself and felt guilt and took it out on you. Maybe this is his plea for forgiveness," Frank comforts. Catherine asks to see the document.

"This was notarized and signed only a year ago. I guess this makes things a lot easier. I didn't expect your father to leave behind a will or even think to look into whether or not one existed," Catherine comments as she hands the will back to Waylon.

"Of all the things I could have expected from my dad, this wasn't one of them. I'll be 18 in less than two weeks. Does that mean this house is pretty much mine?"

"Again, I'm not entirely sure. I can look into a consultant for these types of things. This house must have a considerable amount of money it could be sold for, if that's what you want to do. And some of the furniture inside as well."

Waylon closes and locks the box, handing it to Catherine as they head into Waylon's bedroom. He pulls out a suitcase from his closet and starts pulling the clothes out of his dresser and closet. He doesn't have too many things to grab. In a few minutes, the suitcase is filled and his dresser and closet are both empty. Waylon places his stuffed bear on the top, closing it slowly. Maybe it was just a stuffed animal, and treating it with care was weird, but it was now one of only three things connecting him to his mom, along with the photo albums and his mother's wedding dress.

When Waylon finishes packing, he asks to have a moment alone. He sits on his bed, breathing in the smell. He lets a few tears roll down his face. 

It may be hell, but I miss the familiarity of home so fucking much, Waylon thinks as he runs his hand back and forth across his comforter which is much softer than the blankets at Mount Massive. He lays back in the bed, enjoying the way he sinks down into the worn out mattress. He remembers when he got it. He had just turned five years old.

"You're a big boy now, Waylon. You don't have to sleep with mommy and daddy anymore, and to prove it, we got you a new bed. See how big it is?" Ruby asks Waylon, fluffing his hair.

"Mommy, I love it! It's even bigger than I am!" Waylon shouts excitedly. 

"We even got you a nightlight to help fight away any scary thoughts you get at night," she adds, showing him a nightlight with a pale blue bulb. She plugs it into the outlet by the door and places her finger over the sensor so that it shines.

"Whoa," Waylon says in awe. He runs over to the nightlight, putting his finger over the sensor so that it lights up and then taking it off, repeating the process several times. His dad walks into the room, smiling down as he watches his son's face light up, both figuratively and literally.

"Well, Ruby. It looks like we have our own bed back again," Chris says as he puts his arm around her shoulder and pulls her close. 

"When did things change?" Waylon whispers to himself. He lays in his bed for a few more minutes before sitting up and pulling his suitcase behind him. He hadn't thought of specific memories with his mother like that in a long time. He feels chills run up his spine. With Catherine and Frank waiting quietly in the front room, Waylon feels loneliness creep into his heart.

It's so empty. Even my father's angry energy would be better than this.

Waylon struggles to carry his suitcase down the stairs, almost dropping it once he gets to the bottom. No one says anything as they drive back to Mount Massive.

"I'll hold onto these until I find someone who knows how to handle the documents properly," Catherine says as she walks to the main entrance with Waylon and Frank. "I hope that everything works out for you." Catherine gives Waylon a half smile before heading out the front doors. Waylon wishes he could leave, walk out and never look back. Maybe make it to Wyoming or Arizona or Utah, never look back to Colorado again.

"I'll take the suitcase for you, I gotta check it and make sure it's all good to be on the unit," Frank says as the exit the elevator and walk down the hall to the doors of the unit. The black box makes its usual beep as Frank swipes his card past it. 

Waylon waits at the nurses station for Frank to sort through his clothes, eager to change into something more comfortable. The extra small sweats were a little big on him, even the female sizes. It would be nice to have pants that hung around his hips comfortably. After a few minutes, Frank hands Waylon his clothes and his stuffed bear. Waylon walks to his his room, the weight of his clothes making his arms sore. As he places his clothes into his dresser, he hears the sound of other patients coming back from gym. He grabs his favorite pair of black jeans and a wool pullover, walking into the bathroom and changing.

"You look nice," Eddie comments as he walks into their room. "You finally got your own clothes?" Eddie asks.

"Yeah, we went back to my house, and apparently my dad left me a will. He gave me everything. In thirteen days I'll be able to get the house. I'll probably sell it, I don't know if I could bring myself to stay there," Waylon replies as he gets off his bed to sit next to Eddie.

"How was it, being back there?" Eddie asks. He wraps his arms around Waylon's waist and hugs him, leaving a soft kiss on his jaw.

"It was hard. I started thinking about my parents when they were still happy together. It's painful. I never asked my dad because I was too scared, but I always wondered if maybe he had an idea about where my mom might have gone. The lady from CPS said that they'd been searching for her for three weeks now and couldn't find anything. I wonder if maybe she changed her name," Waylon says, his voice cracking. If he hadn't done so much crying the past few days, he would have broken down into Eddie's arms. Instead, he just feels numb, hollow. Even Eddie's kiss didn't make his heart pound or his thoughts spin like it did just a few days ago.

"I'm so sorry you have to go through this all. I imagine you're feeling quite alone, and I don't want to try to make this about me, but I am always here for you, Darling. You mean the world to me." Eddie holds Waylon tighter, rocking back and forth gently. 

"Eddie, you and Miles are all I have left, I don't ever want to lose you," Waylon replies, looking up at Eddie.

"I lo-" Eddie quickly cuts himself off. "I lucked out in gym today. We did another one of those activities that's a metaphor for recovery, y'know the ones I hate. I got pulled out to get a blood test. Something abnormal came up last time and they wanted to make sure it went away. They never told me specifically what abnormality it was, but whatever it was, it went away and I got out of that damned challenge." Waylon laughs at Eddie.

"I don't understand why you hate them so passionately. Like, not liking them is one thing, but I wouldn't be shocked if you organized a group dedicated specifically to hating them," Waylon jokes. Eddie rolls his eyes and kisses Waylon, grabbing his chin gently and sliding his tongue gently into Waylon's mouth. Waylon tries to focus on enjoying the kiss, but somewhere in the back of his mind, the feeling of being alone distracts him. 

 

Chapter Text

He is falling in love

He knows it's enough

And the world looks down and frowns

Get up Johnny boy

Get up cause the world has left you lying on the ground

You're my pride and joy, you're my pride and joy

Get up Johnny boy because the world all needs you now

 

For Friday evening free time, Luke brings in a tv on a cart to the group room, along with a Wii.

"I got permission to bring in Mario Kart, as long as you guys don't go overboard and get too excited. If you don't want to play, you can bring the card games into the day room," he says as he gets it set up. Most of the older patients leave, leaving Eddie, Miles, Waylon and Dennis, a new admit.

"Dude, I am totally gonna cream you!" Miles says as he grabs a Wii remote.

"Eddie already has that covered, but thanks for the offer," Waylon jokes back, keeping his voice low and smirking.

"Wow, okay, I definitely didn't need to hear that, Jesus christ. Hey Dennis, are you gonna join us?" Miles asks.

"Oh, uh, sure. I'm a terrible player, though. My older brothers usually won when I played this at my house," Dennis replies shyly. He'd only been at Mount Massive Recovery for a day now and was still shy and awkward around the other patients.

"Man, this unit has gotten so small, we need a bunch of new admits, how many discharged this week?" Miles inquires as he helps pull a few chairs in front of the TV.

"Seven. I think Waylon, Dennis, you and I are the only people in our hall. And last week three more discharged. We only have ten patients on the unit in total," Eddie answers.

"Wow, you really kept count of everyone who left?" Miles asks. They get the game started and choose their characters.

"Baby Peach is gonna whoop all y'alls butts," Waylon says as he chooses his character.

"Yes, I like to keep track, that way we know for sure how many people are on the unit. How come we haven't been getting as many admits lately?" Eddie questions as he chooses Wario.

"Fitting choice, Eddie," Miles teases. 

"There's a new place that opened up, more people are going to it because it was empty a week ago, and people would rather go to a new facility rather than this old one. And the new one isn't so far into the mountains," Luke answers as he pulls out his clipboard. "Alright, I have to go check on the other patients. If things get too crazy in here I'm shutting the game off." He looks directly at Miles.

"Wha-what? You automatically assume I'd be the one who started a fight?" Miles asks defensively.

"Miles, c'mon, let's be realistic here. It's you we're talking about," Waylon teases, shoving Miles' shoulder lightly.

"Yeah yeah, whatever. You're not gonna be laughing when you come in dead last," Miles shoots back, sticking out his tongue. 

The race starts relatively peaceful, Waylon managing to pull ahead into first place. He hits an item brick and gets a banana.

"Hey, Miles, you look a little low on potassium. Eat my banana," Waylon says as he throws it behind him. Miles gets a speed boost and bumps into Waylon, getting into first place.

"I'm not really hungry, but you can eat my dust!" Miles yells back. "Boom, first place."

"You two are children," Eddie says rolling his eyes. Dennis lets out a quiet laugh. 

"Yeah, well this child is kicking your butts," Miles says as he finishes his first lap.

"Not for long," Eddie says, grinning. He gets the invincibility star and catches up, hitting Waylon and Miles, pushing them both back a few places.

"Wow, rude," Waylon comments. 

"You can't be nice and win in this game, Darling," Eddie replies. He wins the first race with Miles in second, Waylon in fourth and Dennis in fifth. 

"Not bad," Waylon encourages, giving Dennis a high five. 

"Oh, thanks," Dennis says shyly. 

The next race, Waylon stays in first place until the third lap when Miles throws a bomb at him.

"You're the one looking hungry, Waylon. Have a bomb," he says as he throws in forward. It explodes and hits both of them.

"You're a damn terrorist," Waylon replies.

That has all four of them laughing. 

"Darling, that was quite the outburst. Maybe you need a red shell to help you calm down," Eddie says with an evil grin on his face. The red shell warning icon appears on Waylon's screen.

"Don't you dare, don't you freaking dare!" Waylon pleads as it hits him. "Gosh hecking darn it!" He shouts as he spins around and loses three coins. "It is on!" 

Waylon gets passed by a few people, ending up in eighth place. He hits an item brick and gets a blue shell, holding on to it until Eddie gets into first place. The blast radius hits both Eddie and Miles, and Dennis drives past them, now in first place. Waylon catches up passing the finish line in third place.

When free time is over, all four of them are in tears, laughing until their sides are sore and shoving each other around.

"I'll see if I can bring this back in next Friday," Luke says as he turns it off and starts to push the cart out of the group room. "We're about to have evening group, so you guys can stay in here if you promise to behave yourselves while I'm gone. Lucy will be at the nurses station if you need anything."

Eddie and Miles move the chairs and the table back to their normal spots in the group room and sit it the far corner. Waylon and Dennis join them.

"How long do you think he'll be gone for?" Waylon asks as he leans against Eddie's shoulder.

"At least five minutes, he has to go to the art room where the tv is normally kept," Miles answers. "Oh my god, no, no this is not time for one of your quick little make out sessions, Lucy is right outside the room."

"Oh calm down, that's not what I was planning on. She can't even see us unless she walks into the room," Waylon replies as he grabs Eddie's hand and interlocks their fingers. He snuggles closer to Eddie, resting his head on Eddie's chest. They sit like that for a few minutes until they hear the doors to the unit open and close. They quickly move away from each other, Waylon pulling his knees to his chest and letting his head fall back as he closes his eyes and sighs.

"Haven't you been here for like two months now, Miles?" Waylon inquires as he stretches his arms above his head.

"Fifty eight days, so yeah, two months," Miles replies. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, you're one of the only patients left who was here when I got here. I don't know, I guess I'm just starting to get anxious to get out of here. I'll be eighteen in five days, and then the guy that Catherine found is gonna help me sell the house and some of the furniture inside. He says the houses asking price could be in the range of one hundred fifty and one hundred eighty thousand. What the hell do I even do with that money? Rent an apartment for a little while in Denver, maybe." Waylon comments, starting to do the math in his head to see how long it would last him.

"Oh boo hoo, I'm Waylon and I just inherited a shit ton of money and I don't know what to do with it," Miles replies with a hint of anger in his voice.

"Okay, I'm sorry if my dad just died and I have no idea how to be an adult," Waylon shoots back angrily.

"Hey hey, calm down," Luke interrupts as he walks into the room. "What are you fighting about?"

"It's nothing, I got angry. I'm sorry, Waylon." Miles quickly answers, looking down and opening his notepad, scribbling down some notes.

Waylon doesn't know what to say, pulling his knees tighter to his chest. He leans over slightly, trying to see what Miles is writing. Waylon can't read too much of his handwriting from where he's sitting, but he does make out a bit that says, "What am I gonna do about money? My foster parents have been kind enough to continue to support me but what if".

Oh man, what if his foster parents decide to pull the plug with him in here and leave him on his own? I hadn't even considered how hard that type of situation must be for him.

 

 After evening group is hygiene. Waylon grabs his usual stuff and heads back to his room, entering the bathroom and closing the curtain behind him. When he gets into the shower he hears footsteps coming into the room.

"Eddie?" Waylon asks as he starts to wash his hair. He doesn't get a response. He hears the curtain to the bathroom opening slightly and the sounds of clothes being adjusted. With suds running down his face, Waylon can't peak out. He's almost certain it's Eddie, though. After a few moments the shower curtain is open and Eddie steps inside. Waylon can't help but giggle as he finishes washing the soap out of his hair and off of his face.

"Huh, didn't expect our first time in the shower to be like this," Waylon comments as Eddie pulls him closer.

"Luke just did a check, he'll be back in twenty minutes," Eddie replies between kisses.

"That's more than enough time," Waylon says, grabbing Eddie's face and pulling Eddie's lips to his. Eddie rubs his body against Waylon, which works a soft moan out of Waylon. Waylon leans his head back and sighs, Eddie taking the opportunity to kiss Waylon's jaw and his neck, biting at the skin. They spend a few more minutes like this, Eddie pressing his hips against Waylon's until Eddie picks Waylon up.

Waylon wraps his legs around Eddie's waist, gasping as Eddie slowly pushes himself inside of Waylon. The sounds of wet skin slapping against each other echos against the tile walls of the shower. Waylon tries to keep track of the minutes passing by, but with every thrust of Eddie's hips, his thoughts run together. His build up is quicker this time, and as he feels himself approaching his release, he digs his nails into Eddie, moaning his name softly. Waylon has managed to catch his breath when Eddie groans and pushes deep inside Waylon, staying there for a few moments as he breathes heavily against Waylon's neck.

Waylon finishes his shower as Eddie quickly dries off and gets dressed, sitting in his bed and opening his book as Luke comes by for a room check.

"Waylon, you doing alright?" Luke asks as he writes in his clipboard. Waylon manages a simple 'mhmm' trying not to laugh at how close they had cut it. When Luke leaves and is a good distance down the hall, Waylon starts to laugh.

"Jeez, we were only a few minutes away from Luke catching us," Waylon comments as he rinses off his body wash.

"It was worth it," Eddie replies. He stretches back on his bed, letting his eyes close. As he starts to nod off, Waylon falls onto Eddie, his still wet hair dripping onto Eddie's face. Eddie just sighs and opens his arms as Waylon crawls into them, his hair immediately getting Eddie's shirt wet.

After evening hygiene is over it's phone calls while a movie plays in the group room. Waylon doesn't get a chance to see what movie is playing when he's called back by Luke.

"Doctor Trager wants to speak with you," he says as Waylon walks over to the nurses station.

"Who's that?"

"He's the guy who's been overseeing your case and telling the nurses what you treatment plan is. He wants to speak with you about discharge."

Waylon starts to get anxious. The whole time he's been here he hasn't really thought too much about discharge. He had more pressing matters facing him and getting out of here and being on his own was much scarier than dealing with over enthusiastic staff and chalky Boost drinks. Waylon follows Luke out of the unit and all the way down the hall to a door with a plaque that says "Richard Trager" next to it. Luke knocks on the door.

"Come in," a voice responds from the other side of the door. When Waylon steps inside an old man sits behind a desk. Most of his hair is gone except for a circle of hair along the edges of his head that's grown quite long. He looks very small in his suit, his hands and the parts of his neck that are exposed appearing very wrinkled. "Have a seat Mr. Park. I want to discuss your case. Luke, you can wait outside." Doctor Trager says while gesturing to the door. 

"Well, Mr. Park, it seems your recovery in Mount Massive has been productive. You're continuing to gain weight at a steady pace, your heart has gained most of its strength back, you haven't had any more issues with fainting, and your anxiety and flashbacks have been notably reduced over the past five weeks. What's your take on the situation?" He asks as he continues to look through Waylon's chart.

"W-well, I think that my biggest issue was being in a toxic environment and when I was pulled out of it I was able to start making progress. And when I go home I won't be going back into the same situation that was the cause of my problems," Waylon answers, managing to keep his stutter in check.

"Hmm, that's very... insightful. Now, have you worked out much of a plan for your current living situation? You've no longer got any guardians and you'll be an adult in five days. That's a very stressful situation and if you don't have a plan you're much more likely to fall into relapse and it doesn't seem like you had a support system outside of here."

"I don't remember his name, but the guy who came a few days ago to speak with me about the house is going to help me sell it and most of the furniture inside and I plan on using the money to rent an apartment. It will be enough to cover the expenses for a considerable amount of time while I search for a job," Waylon answers, rubbing his thumb anxiously over the back of his hand.

"That sounds like a good plan. We're going to recommend a few therapists to you. You'll need to continue intensive outpatient therapy. The other major issue we've come across is schooling. The semester will be ending in two months and you're looking at about two to three more weeks in here, which would add a great amount of schoolwork. We've been contacting your school and figuring out a plan. Your principal said that most of your teachers would excuse the homework if you could still perform well on tests. Do you plan on still graduating?"

"Yes, I know my school offers an online program that would still give me a diploma through the high school. They usually do enrollment at semester but maybe you could talk to them and tell them the details of my circumstances and see if something could be worked out? I don't know if I would feel comfortable going back to school. It was already causing a lot of stress and to add onto it with being behind on all the material, I think it would be too much."

"I'll call them again on Monday and talk to them, see if we can't reach an agreement. I'm glad that you want to finish high school. Most teens in your position would jump at the chance to drop out, even with so little school left. We've been talking about a date, and nothing is set in stone, but we're thinking somewhere around April 23rd for discharge. We'll continue to discuss the details as the date approaches. Do you have any more questions?" Trager asks as he stands up and walks to the door. His movements are fast despite his age. Waylon shakes his head and then follows Luke back onto the unit. 

When he gets back to his room, the other bed is empty. Waylon sits on his bed and stares out the window, looking up to the moon. His eyes take a few moments to adjust until it comes into view. It's almost full. Waylon can make out a few of the marks on the moon, but most of them aren't quite visible. After a few minutes, Waylon grabs some sweats from his dresser and changes, crawling under his covers and falling asleep. Waylon has a nightmare that night.

"Waylon, you're just going to sell the house? Where I raised you? Our family home?" Waylon hears his mother's voice, but everything is dark. He can't find her.

"Mom? Mom where are you? Mom, it's not like that. I can't go back. Don't you know what dad did? Don't you know that he's dead?" Waylon tries asking his mother, but she doesn't seem to hear him. Her face starts to materialize. Her features are soft, and maybe part of that is Waylon forgetting what she looks like, forgetting her face as the years passed on. Her long blonde hair is pulled up into a messy and lopsided bun, the way she always had it pulled whenever she would clean the house or get Waylon ready in the mornings. A few strands frame her long and slender face. Her brown eyes remind Waylon of dark honey. Waylon inherited his blue eyes from his dad.

The wrinkles of motherhood are light, crow's feet at the corner of her eyes and smaller wrinkles around her mouth, worn out from her inviting and warm smile. Waylon tries to reach out and grab her, feel his mother's touch once again. Fall asleep in her arms, let her hands run through his curled blond hair. Her body continues to appear, like molecules coming together to make up his mom. Waylon got her small frame as well. 

"Waylon, I thought you loved me. Why couldn't you protect me?" She shouts. Suddenly her eyes fill with horror, staring directly behind Waylon. He spins around and sees his dad, towering over him in the living room.

"You ignorant, little pig!" He spits out. Waylon tries to scream, but it feels like his throat is melting, falling apart. He starts to cough up blood. It continues to spill from his mouth and cover the floor, until a deep, red pool has formed. Though it's on the kitchen floor, Waylon knows he can jump inside, and escape his dad. But he would leave behind his mother. Let her get hurt again. He was stronger now. Maybe he could defend him and his mother from his dad. He turns to run away and give himself space between his father, but he slips in the blood. His foot sinks deep inside. It's like he's being pulled in, and he can't do anything to stop it. 

Waylon squeezes his eyes shut, as the warm liquid envelops him. When he no longer feels a tug on his leg he opens his eyes carefully. It's beautiful. Bright blue water surrounds him. The light hitting the surface is refracted into several beams of light that fight down into the water, trying to fight to the bottom. Waylon sticks his hand out to to touch it. The light dances around over the palm of his hand. Waylon wants to swim to the surface, but it seems to get further with every kick of his legs and stroke of his arms.

"Are you just going to leave me with him?" Ruby asks. She screams and Waylon turns around in the water to see his mother getting pulled down into the darkness. Waylon immediately starts to swim towards her, thrashing his legs as fast as he can, desperately trying to catch up to him. The water gets colder and darker and suddenly Waylon is cold and alone in the dark. The water glides around his bare arms, like cool silk running across them. He continues to swim down, enjoying how soft the water is against him. 

"Waylon! Waylon please help me!" Waylon's mother shrieks. She sounds close, but Waylon can't see anything, trying to see through the darkness. But there's nothing. Waylon starts to reach out, swimming in the direction he heard her voice. She shouts for Waylon once again. It sounds like she's right behind him. Waylon turns around, the water behind him twinkling with light. He sees his mother being dragged by a fistful of her hair, his dad shouting at her to shut up.

Waylon swims over as fast as he can, grabbing his dad's hand and trying to pry open his fingers and loosen his grip on Ruby's hair. His dad lets out a maniacal laugh and shoves Waylon backwards. He falls fast, like he's just plummeted into water, except he doesn't slow down. The water continues to rush past his body until his back hits the bottom of the ocean floor with a painful crunch, rocks at the bottom of the ocean jabbing into his back and cutting through his shirt. Despite being at the bottom, there is light all around him. He can see his own blood starting to swirl and twist around in the water, tainting the previously pure, clean water. 

Waylon can't move, like one of the rocks has a curved edge and is hooked deep into his back. The more he thrashes around and tries to break free, the more pain that shoots up and down his spine and the darker the water around him gets, becoming concentrated with his blood. He looks up, searching for an escape or an answer, and instead sees his dad slam Ruby into the ground and slap her with such force that the water ripples and shakes all around Waylon. 

"I couldn't save her!" Waylon shouts as he shoots up in bed, gasping for air. His lungs feel on fire, like he had been holding his breath the whole time he was underwater. 

Just a dream... Waylon thinks to himself as he catches his breath. He wipes his hand across his forehead, which is soaked with sweat. He turns around, the light of the moon enough to show darker stains on his pillow case and sheets. Waylon puts his hand against them, and they have already gotten cold, and they're definitely wet as well. Waylon's tongue feels dry and he reaches around in the darkness to grab his water bottle by the side of the bed. Despite it being filled, he chugs the whole thing in just a few seconds. He looks over to Eddie's bed, who is still asleep. Waylon chuckles to himself, finding it a bit surprising that Eddie is a heavy sleeper. 

Even in his sleep, Eddie is a gentleman, his snores quiet and polite. After a moment, Waylon gets up and tears all his sheets off of the bed, carrying them up to the nurses station.

"I-I uh, had a nightmare and I need new sheets," Waylon says to the overnight staff. Derek, Waylon remembers after a moment.

"Do you have any clothes that need to be washed?" He asks, getting up from the nurses station and walking with Waylon to the laundry room.

"What? Oh, oh, n-no it's not like that, I just, I just broke into a sweat and would like new sheets." Waylon doesn't need a mirror to know his face is bright red. Derek laughs.

"Okay, you can put those in the dirty linen basket while I grab you some new ones," Derek replies as he pulls a few blankets off of the shelves. Waylon is grateful for the new sheets. Not only were his old ones now covered in sweat, but they had a lot of evidence of Waylon and Eddie's relationship in the form of faint white stains that almost blended in against the ecru sheets. Waylon bites his lip to avoid laughing as he walks back to his room. He quickly makes his bed and crawls in, the feeling of clean sheets soothing, which helps him fall asleep.

The next morning at breakfast Miles has news to share with the group, which now included Dennis.

"I'm getting out on Tuesday as long as everything over the weekend goes smoothly! Man it's been over two months in this shit hole, I can't wait to get out," Miles says before taking a large bite of his eggs.

"Hey, we're still gonna be stuck in this 'shit hole' while you enjoy freedom," Waylon replies, an edge of irritation in his voice.

"Hey, I didn't mean it like that, I'm just excited to get out there. I was applying to internships at local news stations before my depression got awful, and I really want to get back to writing stories, even if they never get published. There's not a lot to write about in here, except you guys, and I wouldn't want to share your personal information everywhere, if I ever get a story published," Miles adds the last part with a sigh.

"Hey, you have great ideas and insight. People would love to hear what you have to say," Waylon encourages. "I think you could make it big." 

"I don't know if that would be possible without dipping into yellow journalism, where you purposely leave out some facts to make a title that sells. You see it all over the place. Clickbait. I don't want to be a shady journalist who has a few stories that sell but cause me to lose my credibility, but how many people are gonna look at a headline that says 'Three Killed in Confirmed Gas Leak' rather than "Mysterious Explosion has Three Dead', y'know. And even being an investigative reporter would give me lots of room to twist the facts. I don't know, it seems like it's all a bunch of sleaze and half assed reporting to get more views and copies sold. Sorry, rant over," Miles says, sighing once again.

"No, don't apologize, those are valid concerns. You just have to have the dedication and the tenacity. Which let's be honest, with the amount that you questioned Dennis on his first day, it's pretty clear that you have those qualities," Waylon adds. Miles shoots Waylon some finger guns.

"Well, I actually found out yesterday that they're thinking of releasing me later next week. They just want to make sure I can keep my anger in check and continue to accept my depression," Eddie says, looking over to Waylon for a reaction.

"Wow, that's pretty sudden. Why didn't you tell me yesterday?" Waylon questions, setting his fork down, his appetite suddenly gone.

"Because when I came back from talking with Doctor Trager you were already asleep in bed," Eddie explains. Waylon wants to keep feelings angry but it's not really Eddie's fault. It's not his fault at all. 

"Good for you, Eddie," Dennis congratulates, trying his best to break the sudden tension that's building.

"Thank you Dennis. I'm proud of the work I put in. It feels like I deserve to get out. I've earned it," Eddie says, a slight edge to his voice, looking directly at Waylon. "It's nice to know that someone's happy for me."

"I am happy for you. I never said that I wasn't. Sorry that it caught me off guard?" Waylon replies, getting defensive. 

"Well, it doesn't feel like it. It's not like I'm doing this because I know it'll be hard for you and I enjoy that. Do you think that I'd really try to hurt you?" Eddie shoots back, folding his arms and leaning back in his chair.

"I just don't like feeling like I'm losing people. Maybe if you actually listened," Waylon spits back passive aggressively.

"Darling, where is this even coming from? I do listen to you. I've listened to it all. I've been here for you since day one. The pain, the anger, the complaining." Eddie stops after he says the last part. "I didn't mean-"

"-Oh so I'm not allowed to be upset about my situation? Sorry that bitching makes me feels better!" Waylon stands up and runs out of the cafeteria, sprinting down the hall and mashing the elevator with so much force that he jams his finger. He hears the door down the hall open as the elevator doors slide open. Waylon quickly gets inside, holding the button to close the doors as Frank runs down the hall. He quickly presses the two once the doors start to close. The elevator doors shut as Frank is a few feet away. Waylon waits for it to start moving, thankful that it doesn't open up again. 

Waylon doesn't really think it through and presses the emergency stop button. He tightens his jaw, waiting for a loud alarm to start going off, but it doesn't come. The elevator just stops. Waylon collapses in the corner of the elevator, letting himself cry. He pulls his knees tightly to his chest, covering his mouth with his hand as he starts to sob. He doesn't want anyone to come for him. He just wants to sit in the elevator and cry. He doesn't want to deal with anything. 

Eddie's leaving, Miles is leaving. Everyone is leaving. I know it's not permanent, I know it won't last forever. But it still sucks. I don't even have a cell phone. Just the house phone. It's been over a month since any house bills have been paid. Will it even work? Will I even be able to call anyone? How do you get a new phone? Just walk to the nearest Verizon and purchase a phone and a plan? How does it all work? I don't want Eddie to leave. Dammit I know this is selfish. I don't even care. I want Eddie all to myself. Maybe I'm dependent, maybe I'm crazy and attached. So what? 

"I'm batshit insane," Waylon says with a laugh. "I'm truly fucking crazy. I'm crying about my boyfriend getting out of treatment. I should be happy for him. I am happy for him. But I don't want to be without him. God dammit!" Waylon yells the last part, hitting his fist on the floor of the elevator. He hears Frank's voice.

"Hey, Waylon, are you okay?" His voice is faint, but he can still make out what Frank is saying. "Why did the elevator stop? I'll call the fire department if I have to," he threatens. 

Waylon laughs.

Oh how lovely it would be to get dragged out of the elevator by firemen. Cause a huge fucking scene. I bet that would push back my discharge as well.

Waylon wipes his eyes and stands up, pulling the button out. It moves after a second, groaning a bit, which makes Waylon slightly anxious. When it gets to the second floor, Waylon gets out and walks to the doors, pushing on them. The magnet on the top keeps them shut tightly in place. Waylon continues to push, but nothing happens. He starts to knock. Waylon chuckles. Knocking on the door to the unit just seemed so bizarre to him. Lucy opens the doors.

"Waylon? Why are you up here without staff? Is everything okay?" She asks as Waylon steps inside the unit. He appreciates the emptiness and quiet of it all. Peaceful.

"I left. I had a bit of a meltdown and just left. You might as well grab me a boost cause I didn't eat a single fucking bite," Waylon replies. 

"Waylon, language. What's going on? You aren't acting like yourself," Lucy says with concern.

"I'm a-okay. I'm just in an apathetic mood, I guess. And besides, it's just you up here. Who really cares if I use a few fucking bad words?"

"Waylon, I'm serious. That's one of the rules. Just because there aren't any patients around doesn't mean you get to break it. What flavor?" Lucy asks, sighing as she walks to the med room.

"Let's get a little crazy. I've never had vanilla before," Waylon answers, sitting at one of the chairs by the nurses station. When Lucy brings him the Boost, Waylon drinks it quickly, finishing it in only a few minutes. Lucy gives him a disapproving look as he hands her the empty box. Waylon just shrugs, asking to go to his room. When he gets to the room he lays down on Eddie's bed, pressing his face into Eddie's pillow. It smells of his cologne. Waylon continues to breath in the scent, before turning over in bed and staring up at the ceiling. As time passes, he hears the voices of the patients coming back on the unit. Waylon groans, it'll be room time for the next half hour.

When Eddie comes in, neither of them say anything at first.

"I'm sorry," Waylon says first. "I don't know, I guess I just don't like the idea of being away from you. I'm sorry, it's not your fault that I apparently get emotionally attached so easily."

"I forgive you. I'm sorry too. I should've been more considerate. That wasn't kind of me, the way I talked to you," Eddie replies, sitting on the foot of the bed, reaching his hand out. Waylon sits up and grabs it, interlocking his fingers with Eddie's.

"You shouldn't apologize. You didn't know what you were signing yourself up for when we first kissed. You didn't realize that I'm crazy and dependent."

"I don't mind it, Waylon. It's nice to feel needed. This relationship has moved rather fast, and being around each other constantly probably isn't the healthiest environment for our relationship. Waylon, when I leave, I promise not a day will pass where I don't think about you and miss you. Even if we're not together, you'll never leave my mind. It may take a few weeks but things will work out," Eddie reassures. 

"I love you," Waylon whispers. He doesn't even realize what he's said until the words have tumbled out of his mouth. His heart starts to beat faster in his chest and he feels butterflies in his stomach. Waylon waits anxiously for Eddie to say something, anything. When the words finally do come, it's a relief that Waylon doesn't know how to describe.

Like finally scratching the itch that's been driving you insane for the past six billion years, or finding the itch that seems to be buried just below what your finger nails can reach. Like staying underwater for longer than you intended and sucking in a deep breath of air that your lungs have been starved of. Like getting an extra long drink and finishing it within the first twenty minutes of a movie, waiting until the movie is finally over to go to the restroom. Like getting an A on the test you'd spent hours studying for. Like the moment you get the phone call that says the mass in your body is benign. Like sucking in a long drag from a cigarette after going too long without one. Like getting that cold, first glass of water out of the fridge when your throat feels like you tried to swallow a mouthful of flour.

Like finding out the person you love loves you back.

"I love you too, Darling."

 

 

Chapter Text

She asked me, "Son when I grow old

Will you buy me a house of gold?

And when your father turns to stone

Will you take care of me?"

I will make you queen of everything you see,

I'll put you on the map,

I'll cure you of disease.

 

Saturday passes relatively slowly, with less groups and only nine patients. During open art, Waylon continues to paint his sunset, adding in trees and the actual sun against a long, purple mountain range. When he decides he’s finished, he looks over to Eddie, who is still working on the wedding dress. It has become much more detailed, the shading of creases in the fabric added, and the shine of the silk lacing up the front included. Waylon is amazed by how talented Eddie is.

He could barely paint a decent sunset and Eddie was creating a realistic and beautiful design for a dress that would sell quickly. It was a dress that Waylon could see a bride-to-be crying over as she tried it on and looked in the mirror. It was a dress that Waylon could see on a model on the front of fashion magazines covering the hottest wedding dresses of the year. It was a dress that Waylon could see in the front window of a shop down in Denver that everyone wanted to go to to find the perfect dress to wear to prom or a wedding or a romantic date or an important business dinner. Waylon could see the massive potential.

I wonder how expensive it is to rent out a space to run a dress shop in Denver. Waylon thinks as he continues to watch Eddie’s careful pencil marks. He had put several hours into it, and didn’t want to risk a misplaced pencil mark and a large eraser ruining all of it.

Would it be too much of a gesture to buy Eddie a place to sell his dresses? It’s his dream. I don’t really know what I want to do in life besides be happy, and if Eddie is achieving his dreams with me beside him then I’m happy.

When free art is over they go to the cafeteria for lunch.

“So, Dennis. I’ve never asked, why are you here? If you’re comfortable sharing.” Miles inquires when he sits down.

“I downed a bottle of sleeping pills. It felt like my older brothers had been picking on me relentlessly the past few days leading up to it. My parents didn’t really do anything, they just told them to stop and went back to watching TV. It was too much and I went into my bedroom, grabbed the sleeping pills I had hiding in my closet and downed them all.

“I started getting really tired about thirty minutes after taking them. My eyes kept drooping and after maybe forty five minutes my younger brother walked into the room. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the fear in his eyes. I whispered to him to get mom before going unconscious. I woke up the next day in the hospital and they sent me here,” Dennie admits, looking down at his breakfast as he relives the memory.

“I’m sorry you had to go through that. That must have felt awful. It’s good that your brother found you before it was too late,” Waylon reassures, placing a hand on Dennis’ shoulder.

“I keep thinking about that and part of me wishes I hadn’t said anything or that I had locked my bedroom door before I took the pills. My mom keeps telling me how grateful I should be. But I don’t really feel it.”

“It will take time to realize that you have something to live for, and it’s hard. Trust me, I’m still getting there. You just gotta find the one thing that keeps you going and hold onto it as tightly as you can,” Miles adds. Waylon immediately thinks of Eddie.

Dennis nods and continues to eat, and Miles starts to write down a few notes in his notepad. He wasn’t really supposed to have it at meals but Frank usually let it slide.

When lunch is finished, they have CBT. Keith hands them all a print off with a cognitive model on it, going over how when a stressful situation occurs, you can change the outcome with simply changing how you think about the situation. He then hands everyone a thought log to keep track of different thoughts that are experienced and which skill was used to handle them or reframe them. With the rest of the time he asks everyone to fill out a few and then hold onto it to continue to use for further thoughts.

After CBT is open gym. Waylon sits in the far corner with Dennis while Eddie and Miles play a game of basketball. Waylon can’t help but laugh when Miles makes an over confident shot that goes right over the backboard of the hoop. Waylon and Dennis talk for a little bit about their situations.

“My parents are never really affectionate with any of us. I can’t remember the last time my parents said ‘I love you’ in the mornings or before they go to bed every night. And they don’t really like to get involved when my brothers and I fight. They’d rather just let us try to handle it ourselves and stay out of the situation. And they always watch TV. It’s like the only thing they do besides work,” Dennis says.

“Every night it’s make whatever you want for dinner. I don’t know if my parents have ever cooked a meal in their lives. On Thanksgiving we just go out to eat at whatever restaurants are open, same with Christmas. Maybe my mom never really wanted kids but with five children you think maybe they would’ve thought to use a condom or something.”

“I think my mom tried her best to give me the perfect childhood to make up for how abusive my dad is, well was. When she left I think she thought she was leaving me with a good life and that my dad wouldn’t abuse me. The day after she left my dad hit me for asking him where mom had gone. Part of me wants to see her again. Part of me never wants to talk to her ever again for putting me in the situation she did. I keep thinking about the what ifs. What if she took me with her? What if she stayed and reported the abuse to the police? What if my dad didn’t hit me after my mom was gone? Frank says it’s not healthy, but I can’t help it,” Waylon replies, rubbing his fingers back and forth against the carpet.

“I get what you mean. I constantly think about what life would be like if maybe my parents stepped in every once in awhile. Or how differently my brothers and I would treat each other if our parents taught us affection and love, maybe there wouldn’t be as nearly as many fights. And then I start thinking about the stupid things, like would my life be significantly different if I had a different name.”

“I have thought about that all the time,” Waylon comments laughing. “Like what if I had a name that was perceived as more masculine like George or Bruce or something. Maybe a ‘tough’ name would have made me act tougher and maybe my dad wouldn’t have treated me the way he did. Maybe I would have fit in somewhere at school. It seems stupid but it’s an interesting thing to think about.”

They both share a bit of laughter.

“You little slut!” Eddie shouts at Miles, who pushes him to grab the ball, making a shot.

“Don’t hate the player, hate the game,” Miles replies, sticking his tongue out. He turns from the basket to be dramatic, but it bounces off and hits Miles in the back, pushing him forward onto his hands and knees. Waylon purses his lips and tries not to laugh, but he can’t help it as he falls into a fit of laughter with Dennis. Miles and Eddie walk over to where they’re sitting.

“Yeah yeah, laugh it up. You can all kiss my ass,” Miles grumbles as he sits against the wall, rubbing his back. “Jesus, that hit hard.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t try so hard to look cool. It just isn’t working. You look like an idiot eighty percent of the time,” Waylon says. Miles pushes him over, knocking his head back into the mat against the wall. “Bitch.”

Eddie sits down next to Waylon, pressing his leg against Waylon’s ever so slightly. Waylon enjoys the warmth, pushing his leg back against Eddie’s, wanting to climb into his lap and hug him, but with Luke sitting just a little bit away, he settles for gentle leg touching.

When gym is over they have room time for thirty minutes until dinner. After Luke does a room check, Waylon walks over to Eddie’s bed, climbing on top of him and kissing him. He pushes Eddie back on the bed, trying to show a little dominance and holding Eddie’s wrists down.

“Darling, I don’t know if this is the best time. Luke will be back in twenty minutes and then we’ll go down to dinner,” Eddie protests between kisses.

“C’mon, I’ll be extra quiet, and we can be faster than twenty minutes. Please?” Waylon begs pushing his hips against Eddie’s. Eddie sighs and smiles, grabbing Waylon by his rear.

Waylon does manage to stay quiet, busying his mouth with Eddie’s neck and leaving several hickies along his neck and above his collar bones. Eddie has to change into his hoodie to keep them covered, which of course raises questions from Miles.

“I think this is the first time I’ve seen you wear that hoodie, Eddie. It’s actually warm on the unit today, they finally got the heat fixed. What’s with the sudden fashion change?” Miles questions.

“Miles, I think you know damn well why,” Eddie replies, glaring at Miles. Waylon blushes.

“You’re just jealous that you can’t get any,” Waylon teases.

“Well this is an all male facility, and I have a thing for girls, so yeah, I can’t get any in here unless I tried to seduce one of the staff and that really ain’t my style.”

“You have a style? What interrogate a girl until she decides to sleep with you to shut you up?” Waylon taunts, raising his eyebrow and grinning.

“I will cut you in your sleep, Waylon,” Miles responds, shooting Waylon daggers.

“You don’t have the guts to do it, you’re all bark and no bite,” Waylon says.

“That’s where you’re wrong kiddo,” Miles replies, shooting finger guns. “If I wasn’t leaving in three days…” Miles grabs a piece of ice and flings it at Waylon. It hits him in the nose. Waylon grabs the ice that has now fallen into his lap. He throws it back at Miles but it misses and clinks into the window behind them. That gets Luke’s attention who walks over to their table. Waylon immediately looks down and starts to eat.

“I trust you’re all behaving yourselves, we don’t need to have a little chat about cafeteria etiquette do we?” Luke asks.

Miles and Waylon shake their heads, Eddie and Dennis trying not to laugh at the two.

“You guys are such children,” Eddie comments when Luke walks away.

“That makes you a pedo, Eddie. No one likes a pedo,” Miles teases.

“Do not call me such filthy words, you whore,” Eddie shoots back.

“That seems a tad hypocritical to scold Miles for what he said and then to call him a whore, just saying,” Waylon says.

“It’s not my fault Miles is such a whore. I misspoke, Miles you are such a child.”
Waylon, Miles, and Dennis can’t help but laugh, and finally Eddie joins them.

After dinner Luke puts on a movie while calling people out to make phone calls. Just as Waylon sits down next to Eddie, Luke calls Waylon out to the nurses station.

“You have a phone call, Waylon,” Luke says. “I’m gonna transfer it to the phone on the counter.”

“Is it the guy who’s helping me with the financial stuff?” Waylon asks, picking up the phone. It starts to ring.

“She said her name was Ruby.”

“Are you sure?” Waylon asks, feeling his stomach drop. “Did she give a last name?”

“Ruby Park. Press the green button before it transfers back to the main line,” Luke replies a bit impatiently. Waylon presses the answer button, pausing before bringing it up to his ear.

“Hello?” Waylon asks quietly. Is that my mom on the other end? Could it really be her?

“Waylon? Is that you?” Waylon hears his mother’s familiar voice. His throat starts to tighten and his heart starts to race.

“Mom?” Waylon asks as he starts to walk down the end of the hall, feeling tears well up in his eyes. “How did you know I was in here?”

“It was all over the news, honey. First your dad was put on the news, telling people to look out for him after he assaulted the cops who came to question him. Then they reported that he was found dead. I finally got the courage to call the police and ask where you were, they said the hospital sent you here but they couldn’t reveal any more than that. Waylon, I’m so so sorry that I left,” Ruby explains, her voice cracking. He can hear her quiet sniffles and realizes she’s started crying.

“Why did you wait so long to call me?” Waylon asks when he gets to the end of the hall, sitting against the wall and looking out the windows to the trees that surrounded the facility.

“I was afraid, Waylon. I wanted to call you for the past eight years. I desperately wanted to see how you were doing, but I was scared to see your father. I had no idea that… that he had done such awful things to you. I figured he may yell and get violent, but I never imagined that he would ever lay a hand on you. Waylon, please forgive me. I was wrong and I’m sorry.”

Waylon doesn’t know what to say. He presses his face against the glass of the window, his breath fogging it.

“I forgive you, mom. I thought that maybe you had changed your name and died or something awful like that and that I’d have no way to find out what happened to you. Where did you go?” Waylon inquires, taking a few deep breaths to try to stop his tears.

“I went to Cheyenne, just an hour and a half north of Firestone. I’m still living here. It’s not too far away. Maybe when you get out you could come visit. I want to see you. I asked to come to the visits on Thursday but they said it would take at least a week for the request to go through,” Ruby says with a sigh.

“Their rules here are stupid. I’m surprised they let you call me at all. They want to let me out somewhere around April 23. I just need to keep gaining weight and working on my anxiety.”

“Get your weight up? Why do you need to gain weight?” Waylon’s mother asks.

“I, uh, I’m anorexic, mom. I’ve been doing great so far with meals, I’ve been able to get up to sixty percent most of the time, although depending on the meal I sometimes need to drink a meal supplement. They make me drink one if I don’t eat at least fifty percent. I had a feeding tube the first few weeks I was here,” Waylon answers.

“You have anorexia? Oh god, Waylon I’m so sorry. I never should have left you.”

“It’s not your fault, mom,” Waylon tries to reassure. “You had no idea that any of this would happen, you said it yourself. I don’t blame you, I just miss you.”

Waylon continues to talk with his mom, finding out about her life and telling Ruby about how things were going. Waylon mentions the house.

“Well, it was signed under your father’s name. If you want to sell it, I won’t hold it against you. It’s yours now, your father left it to you. I can’t imagine going back there either. What are you planning to do? You could come live with me, there are a lot of jobs here, and the people are very nice. I work with this girl, she’s very nice, and single,” Waylon’s mother says, telling him the last part in a sing song voice.

“Well, actually, about that. There, uh, there’s this guy,” Waylon replies quietly, unsure of how Ruby will react.

“A guy? What’s his name? How long have you two known each other? Are you going out, is he your boyfriend? I want all the details,” Ruby inquires excitedly. Waylon chuckles.

“His name is Eddie. We, uh, well we’re actually roommates at Mount Massive,” Waylon answers awkwardly. “He’s a tailor but he wants to be a dress designer. I’ve been thinking about maybe using some of the money from the house to buy him a shop in Denver. I think he could become big. He’s really talented, mom. He’s been working on this wedding dress and it’s just absolutely beautiful.”

“That’s exciting. So he is your boyfriend then?” Ruby asks again.

“Yes,” Waylon replies laughing. “He’s my boyfriend.”

“Oh, honey that’s so exciting. You sound so happy talking about him. I can’t wait to meet him.”

“I swear, if you scare him away, mom. You are not allowed to show him any of my baby pictures or talk about how cute my butt was when I was younger,” Waylon warns. Ruby laughs.

“I promise I won’t embarrass you, sweetie. I’m just so happy to know that even through all of this you have somebody by your side. Maybe you could request a day pass on Wednesday so I can spend some time with you on your birthday. I can’t believe you’re already turning eighteen,” Ruby muses.

“Yeah, it’s pretty scary. Like, how do you do the adult thing? How do you pay taxes and bills and buy a car? I mean, I have the truck, but everytime I drive it I feel like it’s going to break down and fall apart around me,” Waylon admits.

“Are you still driving that old Chevy? Gosh, I remember when your grandfather gave it to me, it was brand new. It’s now, what? Almost thirty years old? How does that thing still run?” Ruby questions.

“I take good care of it,” Waylon replies.

“Well, I’m glad. That hunk-o-junk is pretty sentimental. One of the presents from my dad that’s still around.”

“It’s nice to talk to you mom, I’ve missed you like crazy. When I went to the house a few weeks ago to get some clothes I kept remembering small things like when you got me a new bed and a night light. I remember how much I loved it,” Waylon says. He hears his mom laugh.

“Oh yes, I remember that. You were so fascinated by covering the light sensor to turn it on. I think there were a few nights were I would check on you before bed and you were sitting by the door and playing with it way past your bedtime,” Ruby recalls.

“Okay, but to a five year old, that was magic,” Waylon replies smiling. Luke calls down the hall to Waylon.

“Hey, you’re at twenty minutes, we gotta make sure everyone gets in a phone call before lights out,” Luke informs Waylon.

“Okay,” Waylon answers. “Well, I gotta let you go, will you be able to talk tomorrow night?” Waylon asks.

“Of course, honey. Talk to you tomorrow. I love you, Waylon. I’m sorry it took me so long to pick up the phone,” Ruby replies.

“I love you too, mom. Goodnight,” Waylon says before hanging up the phone. He walks down the hall to the nurses station feeling better than he had in a long time. Maybe things would actually work out for Waylon.

“Good phone call?” Luke questions as Waylon hands him the phone.

“Yeah, great phone call. That was my mom. That’s the first time we talked in eight years, before she left.”

“That’s great to hear, Waylon. I guess you’re glad you finally answered the phone?” Luke asks jokingly. Waylon rolls his eyes and walks into the group room. Big Hero 6 is playing on the TV. It’s at the part where the building is on fire. Waylon sits down next Eddie as it explodes. Waylon tries not to pay attention, feeling tears welling up in his eyes during the memorial scene. Eddie looks over to him and bites his lip, trying to hide his smile. Waylon notices.

“Shut up, this is a really sad part,” Waylon defends, punching Eddie lightly in the arm. In the dim light Eddie grabs Waylon’s hand and squeezes it. Waylon can’t help but smile. Eddie runs his thumb slowly back and forth across the back of Waylon’s hand. It’s soothing.

At the end of the movie it’s night hygiene and then lights out. After Waylon takes his shower he sits on his bed.

“My mom called,” Waylon says after a moment.

“Oh? How did that go?” Eddie asks, moving over to Waylon’s bed and sitting next to him.

“It was amazing. Her voice was just like I remembered it to be. It was so comfortable to hear. Like I was getting back all those years. I still can’t believe it. It’s almost surreal. Almost half my life I’ve spent without her and now I can get that back. I’m going to request a day pass to hang out with her on Wednesday. I just… I can’t believe it,” Waylon answers with a happy sigh.

“That’s great to hear, Waylon. I’m so happy for you,” Eddie replies, resting his hand on Waylon’s shoulder. Waylon leans into Eddie’s chest, wrapping his hands around Eddie’s waist and pulling him closer.
“I even told her about us,” Waylon says laughing. “She was so excited, she wants to meet you but I’m positive that if she does meet you she will embarrass me to the point of death. I don’t know half the things I did as a kid but I’m sure there are some mortifying stories to tell.”

“Darling, I love you. Even if your mom tells me about all your embarrassing childhood stories I’ll still love you,” Eddie reassures chuckling and giving Waylon a squeeze.

“I love you too, Eddie, but honestly I have no idea what she might tell you, you may want to rethink that statement,” Waylon responds.

Eddie just rolls his eyes and places his fingers under Waylon’s chin to kiss him. Waylon can’t help but giggle as he drapes his arms over Eddie’s shoulders and pulls himself into his lap. There’s a knock at the door and Waylon quickly turns his head, worried it’s a staff member.

Miles is standing in the doorway.

“Miles it’s almost lights out, what on earth are you doing here?” Eddie asks with annoyance.

“I was walking down the hall to go sit by the windows. I go down there a lot, usually I see you guys in your room, and there was one occasion where I saw way more than I wanted to,” Miles starts to trail off. Waylon starts blushing.

“Is there a point to all of this?” Waylon inquires, folding his arms and trying not to think about Miles seeing him in more compromising positions.

“Luke is going down the halls for room checks, figured I warn you two. I’m surprised you’ve gone this far without being caught,” Miles informs. “Anyways, I gotta get to my own room.”

“Thanks Miles,” Waylon says, getting off of Eddie’s lap and sitting next to him instead. Eddie gives Waylon a final kiss before getting up and going to his own bed. As if on cue, Luke walks into the room for a check. When lights are out room checks are every hour instead, giving Waylon enough time to cuddle with Eddie before going to bed.

Chapter Text

Hey, hey, wouldn't it be great, great

If we could just slow down and wake up in Slowtown

Today, day, I want to go away, way

'Cause things are too fast now,

I want to be in Slowtown

 

Waylon’s request for an outing on Wednesday is approved from ten to two. Waylon waits nervously at the nurses station for his mom to arrive. The other patients are in the group room, and he can see Eddie through the window. He tries not to think about how this will be the first time he sees his mom in eight years. His heart is pounding as he tries desperately to hold his hands together and keep them from shaking. Waylon looks up anxiously to the clock. Three minutes to ten. He starts to pace, walking back and forth in front of the nurses station.

“Waylon, you need to relax. Do you want me to get you some vistaril?” Lucy asks. Waylon nods his head and follows her over to the med room, waiting at the counter while she gets him a pill and a small, plastic cup of water. Waylon takes it quickly, hoping it works fast and feeling butterflies flow through his stomach as he thinks about seeing his mom.

When he does see his mom, Waylon purses his lips together, trying to control the quivering of his bottom lip as tears start to stream down his face. It’s his mom, standing right in front of him.

Waylon can’t move his legs, they feel like they’re stuck in a puddle of mud.

“Waylon,” Ruby whispers, almost running over to him and pulling him into a hug. Waylon hugs his mother back, holding her tightly. “I love you so, so much.”

“I love you too, mom. It is so good to see you,” Waylon replies. Ruby wipes the tears from her face and sighs.

“I can’t believe it. You’ve grown up so much. My baby boy is an adult,” Ruby says with a sniffle.

“I can’t believe it either,” Waylon admits with a laugh. “I’m just glad I have you to help me.”

“I feel lucky that you’re letting me help you. So, I was thinking we could maybe go see a movie and then have lunch somewhere fun to celebrate your birthday,” Ruby suggests.

Waylon agrees and Frank lets the two off the unit. When they get outside to Ruby’s car, Ruby stops for a second.

“Waylon, you’re so thin. I know you said you’ve been gaining weight but you still look skeletal. I almost didn’t recognize you. My own son. I just, I want you to know how sorry I am. Waylon I love you so much more than you could ever imagine and I can never justify leaving you but I just want you to understand I really am sorry for what I’ve done. I messed up your life because I couldn’t handle my own. That wasn’t fair of me and I’m sorry,” Ruby says, pulling Waylon into another hug.

“I know you’re sorry mom. I forgive you, I promise I do. You don’t need to beat yourself up for what happened,” Waylon reassures.

“Thank you. I don’t deserve it.”

“Mom, sorry to say this but shut up,” Waylon replies with a small laugh. “You do deserve my forgiveness. You earned it. I know you probably think you didn’t do much but honestly when you called it meant the world to me and you earned your forgiveness. Now c’mon, there is a bucket of popcorn calling my name,” Waylon jokes smiling at his mom. Ruby smiles, feeling a wave of relief, knowing that she has been given a second chance.

 

“Eddie these cookies smell amazing!” Waylon exclaims as he pulls the cookie tray out of the oven and sets them on the counter, the whole first floor of the house now perfumed with the scent of warm vanilla.

“Well of course they do. We’ve got to make this house seem lived in but in the right way. People need to imagine themselves in this house, baking their own cookies and living their own perfect lives,” Eddie replies from the front room, dusting off the mirror and the painting on the walls.

Waylon had been discharged from Mount Massive two days ago, which didn’t give him much time to get his home ready for the open house, but luckily Eddie was willing to clear up his entire schedule and his mom was going to come as well. Waylon looks over to the clock.

“We have an hour and a half till the open house,” Waylon informs Eddie, pushing himself up to sit on the counter. The whole time here with Eddie felt weird. He kept expecting his dad to come around the corner and beat him to a pulp. Luckily the only person he saw was his boyfriend.

“Do you have anything here for lunch?” Eddie asks as he walks into the kitchen. “You have to follow your meal plan strictly.”

“Can’t we just order pizza?” Waylon begs, folding his arms and fake pouting. Eddie rolls his eyes.

“Fine, but you have to order one with extra vegetables. Gotta make sure you hit all those food groups,” Eddie replies, picking up the phone and dialing the number for the pizza place. When he hangs up Waylon can’t help but laugh.

“You have the number to the pizza place memorized?” Waylon questions with a bit of disbelief. Eddie rolls his eyes.

“I memorize lot's of numbers. I've memorized lot's of things, even about you,” Eddie replies grabbing Waylon by his hips.

"What else do you have memorized?" Waylon asks in a quiet voice. Eddie smiles.

"I've memorized the feeling of your lips against my own." Eddie kisses Waylon as if trying to give proof. "I've memorized the gentle curve of your jaw," Eddie whispers, his lips gently traveling up his jaw and to his ear. "I've memorized that lovely moan you make when I kiss your neck."

Waylon can't help but react in the exact way Eddie predicts, feeling his pants tighten as Eddie gently bites his neck and runs his hand down Waylon's chest and over his manhood. Suddenly Eddie picks him up and carries him to the living room, gently placing him on the couch. Eddie continues to touch Waylon throughs his pants. Waylon bites his lip and lets his head fall back, groaning with every firm touch of Eddie's hand.

"Please," Waylon begs when he no longer can tolerate the teasing, his body begging for release, aching to feel Eddie inside of him. 

As Eddie pushes into Waylon, Waylon can’t help but groan and whisper Eddie’s name. Eddie responds with quicker thrusts that fill Waylon with bursts of pleasure. Eddie slides one hand down to Waylon’s member, stroking it softly. The added sensation has Waylon pressing his heels and head into the couch cushions while pushing his hips up a few inches.

Waylon’s orgasm hits him harder than usual, leaving him moaning and panting and shouting Eddie’s name. Eddie grabs Waylon’s hips pulls him down forcefully as he finds his own release. The two catch their breath. 

“Darling, have I ever told you how beautiful you are?” Eddie asks. Waylon blushes.

“You tell me that all the time,” Waylon replies laughing. “Thank you.”

Eddie kisses Waylon before getting up and grabbing their clothes from the ground. When Waylon is dressed Eddie helps pull him up from the couch. The two head into the kitchen to finish getting the house ready, opening the curtains to brighten the room, straightening out the table and chairs, and placing a vase of fresh flowers into the center of the table.

Their pizza arrives a few minutes after they’re done getting the house ready. They bring it to the backyard so the smell doesn’t overpower the smell of the cookies. They sit at the patio table, Waylon sitting in Eddie’s lap. 

"I haven't been out here in so long, it's literally been almost a decade since the patio furniture has been used," Waylon says as he grabs a slice of the pizza.

"It's such a lovely day out today. But not as lovely as you," Eddie replies, kissing Waylon's ear. Waylon finds himself blushing once again.

"Eddie, I love you, but that was just way too cheesy," Waylon laughs.

"Hmm, that's weird, I don't remember ordering extra cheese on the pizza," Eddie says, placing a finger on his chin like he's deep in thought. 

"I can't believe you tried to say Miles has bad jokes. That... that was just awful," Waylon comments, giggling as Eddie pokes him gently in the side. Eddie bites Waylon's neck playfully which encourages Waylon's giggling to continue. Eddie can't help but grin, Waylon's laugh was wonderful music to his ears. It rang loud and pure and innocent and danced through Eddie's head.

"I love you so much," Eddie comments with a happy sigh, staring into Waylon's eyes. The sun makes the faint sea foam green accents in Waylon's grayish blue irises stand out. It's like looking into stormy waters. Eddie could stare into them forever. The screen door behind them slides open and both men turn around to see Waylon's mother grinning.

"Waylon, you didn't tell me Eddie was so handsome!" Ruby gushes as Waylon and Eddie stand up. Ruby and Waylon share a brief hug before Ruby continues to evaluate Eddie. He offers her his hand.

"Good afternoon Mrs. Park. I hope you've been having a wonderful day so far. I'm Eddie Gluskin," Eddie says as he shakes hands with Ruby.

"Ooh, and he's polite, too. Waylon that is quite the catch," Ruby comments. Waylon feels his face turn red. "Please, Eddie, call me Ruby. So Waylon tells me you're a tailor. That must be exciting, you're like a doctor for clothes."

Despite embarrassing him, Waylon has to admit that his mother's positive energy is nice to be around. It feels great. Things feel normal.

"Well I help adjust different pieces of clothing to fit specific customers. More like a plastic surgeon for clothes," Eddie replies. The three continue to make small talk when Waylon starts to feel a bit of anxiety in his stomach.

"So, what is the open house going to be like?" Waylon asks nervously. Eddie picks up on it and wraps his arm around Waylon's waist, kissing him on the top of the head.

"Well, the real estate agent invited several people who are interested in buying the house. She should be here within the next ten to fifteen minutes. The people will come, look around the house, discuss the price range, talk with you about the house. Simple things like that. You won't have to do too much talking, everything will be okay," Ruby reassures.

When people start to arrive, Waylon tries his best not to cling onto Eddie for dear life. They were just people. He could handle people. He'd spent the last two months constantly talking to people. He could do this. Waylon takes a deep breath, introducing himself to a young man and woman, both looking just a few years older than Eddie. 

"We're looking for a bigger house, we already have two toddlers, and there's another one on the way," the lady, who introduces herself as Anne, says. 

"Aww, congratulations. Well, this house definitely has a lot of space, a-and there aren't too many things that need child proofing, just some outlet covers and cabinet locks," Waylon replies, trying his best to keep his stutter in check. Anne asks several more questions about the house and Waylon successfully answers all of them. 

Overall it goes by relatively quickly, and after a few hours Waylon no longer has strangers judging his house. When the door closes behind the last person Waylon lets out a long sigh of relief, leaning against the table. Eddie comes over and rubs his back.

"You did great, darling. You're more of a people person than you think," Eddie comforts. The real estate agent walks into the kitchen. 

"Well it turns out Anne and her husband John really loved the house. They just called to make an offer," she says as she walks over to the table. 

"How much?" Waylon asks. He almost chokes when he hears the number. "That's thirty five thousand more than the asking price," Waylon comments in disbelief. 

"Like I said, they loved the house. We could wait for more offers, or I can call her back in the morning to get the details worked out."

"Yeah, go ahead and call her tomorrow. I think they'll be a good fit for this house. They're a nice family. They deserve a nice family home," Waylon replies. 

The real estate agent says a quick goodbye before leaving. 

"So, mom, what are your plans for the rest of the evening?" Waylon asks as he gets himself a glass of water.

"I have to be to work early, I should probably take off soon, I am way behind on my laundry and my work pants need to be washed," Ruby explains. 

"Thank you for coming over and being here for this, it really means a lot," Waylon replies.

"No problem sweetie. It was a pretty fun afternoon. Plus, I finally got to meet Eddie," Ruby says laughing. 

After a long hug, Ruby leaves to go drive back to Cheyenne, leaving Waylon and Eddie. 

"Well, I guess I don't have anywhere to live anymore," Waylon jokes, pushing himself on the counter and swinging his legs.

"Tragic," Eddie responds sarcastically. Waylon kicks his foot out, barely tapping Eddie's thigh. "You know, I do have an apartment. I mean, honestly what would you do besides move in?"

"Are you asking me to move in?" Waylon asks, raising an eyebrow.

"Of course I am, darling. We were pretty much living together at Mount Massive anyway. I would love to wake up to you every day and go to bed each night with you curled up against me," Eddie says, grabbing Waylon's chin and kissing him softly.

Waylon packs his essentials while Eddie starts his car and then turns the house lights off except for the front porch and back porch. When they both finish, Eddie walks Waylon to the passenger side of the car, opening the door for him and closing it behind him. 

"Your mom is great. She's such an energetic person," Eddie says with a laugh. He moves one hand over to grab Waylon's.

"Yeah. Sometimes she can be a little over bearing but she has a big heart. It's nice to have her in my life again," Waylon replies, looking out the car window at the sunset falling over the Rocky Mountains, dusting the sky with lovely shades of pink, red, and orange. The last of the sun peeks over the peaks of the mountains, the clouds outlined with a deep yellow. 

"You're so much happier now than you were two months ago. It's so nice to see you smile and hear you laugh," Eddie comments, looking over to Waylon who has curled up in the front seat, reclining his seat a few degrees. He lets out a loud and tired yawn. 

"It feels nice to be able to smile and laugh again," Waylon admits as he lets his eyelids slowly come together. "I love you, Eddie."

"I love you too, darling."

 

 When Waylon wakes up it's to Eddie gently shaking his shoulder. Waylon looks around confused for a moment, sitting up and stretching when he remembers he's with Eddie. He pushes his door open slowly. They're in a parking lot surrounded by tall buildings. A main road goes past, with only a few cars passing. Denver is surprisingly quiet. Eddie puts his arm around Waylon protectively as they walk through an alley to one of the main streets. 

Eddie leads them to his apartment building, the lobby slightly warmer than the chilled night air. Eddie's apartment is well furnished, maintaining a sophisticated style. Through the front door is a small hallway with a coat closet to the left. Past the hallway is a small living room with a mounted TV over a small entertainment center. Between the white couch is a coffee table with the same color of wood as the entertainment center. 

To their left is a short hallway with three doors and to the right is the kitchen which is open with the living room. Waylon follows Eddie down to hall to the furthest door. Eddie flips on the lights revealing a room decorated to a similar color scheme and decorating style, a dark, wooden dresser against the left wall and a king sized bed with a large, white comforter and several silver throw pillows. Simple embroidery designs on the pillow are similar to the ones that swirl across the curtains hanging in front of a large window which looks out to the city, the view mostly unblocked by tall buildings.

"You have quite the eye for interior design," Waylon comments as he sits down on the bed. He feels himself sink a few inches into the mattress. Waylon kicks his shoes off and lays back, sighing as his back presses into the soft mattress. "Your bed is so comfy." Waylon stretches out his arms, looking up at Eddie who can't help but smile at the younger man. Waylon tugs off his jeans and pulls back the comforter, tossing the throw pillows at Eddie before pulling the heavy blanket up to his chin. Eddie just rolls his eyes and laughs as he changes into a pair of pajama bottoms and gets in bed next to Waylon, wrapping his arms tightly around him.

In the morning it doesn't take Waylon any time to remember where he is or re-familiarize himself with his surroundings. He wakes up in Eddie's arms and he knows he's safe, and he's where he belongs. The sun has started to rise over the horizon, a small sliver of it peeking over the shorter buildings, letting in a thin beam of light that hits the far wall. Waylon slowly crawls out of bed, though Eddie hardly moves in his sleep, his quiet and even snores the only sound in the room besides Waylon shuffling about. 

Waylon walks into the living room, shivering as goosebumps prick up and down his bare legs. He looks around for a thermostat, finding it by the doors to the balcony. He twists the thermostat so that it is set to heat at seventy four degrees. After that Waylon goes into the kitchen, checking the fridge for something to make for breakfast. The only things in the fridge are a half full carton of eggs and an unopened gallon of milk. Waylon checks the expiration date on both, glad to see that both are still good. In the freezer there's a package of bacon as well as a few microwave dinners. 

Waylon grabs the bacon and fills the sink with water, letting it thaw while Waylon continues to look through the kitchen. The pantry is a little more promising. There's a bag of sugar, a box of crackers, some cans of soup, a half full bottle of vegetable oil and in the back, a box of muffin mix. Waylon examines the box, deciding muffins would be nice for breakfast as well.

Waylon grabs what he needs and starts to mix the batter in a mixing bowl and preheats the oven. It feels nice to cook again, especially because now he's doing it for himself, not his dad. The thought of his dad pushes his mind towards panic, but Waylon looks around and reminds himself that he is in Eddie's apartment and he's safe. 

When the muffins are in the oven Waylon turns on the stove and starts to cook some bacon and eggs. About halfway through, Eddie comes up behind him, wrapping his arms around Waylon's stomach and resting his head on the younger man's shoulder.

"What's cookin', good lookin'?" Eddie asks as he kisses Waylon's neck. Waylon grins and turns his head to kiss Eddie. "It smells wonderful," Eddie comments, walking over to the coffee machine and filling a coffee filter with grounds. 

"Thank you. There are muffins in the oven, too. You have so little food here, Eddie, how do you survive?" Waylon replies, placing the cooked bacon onto a plate with a paper towel under it to catch the grease. 

"I may not have food but I could eat you right up," Eddie jokes. Waylon rolls his eyes and tries not to laugh, but after a moment the two are both laughing together.

"You are literally the worst," Waylon teases.

"You know you love me, darling."

"I do love you," Waylon says, as he scoops the scrambled eggs onto a plate. "I made you breakfast just to prove it."

"Thank you, Waylon. You are an amazing boyfriend," Eddie compliments. Waylon melts a little at the sound of Eddie calling him his boyfriend. Waylon carries the plates over to the coffee table, which is the only place besides the counter to eat, pulling it close to the couch. 

"I know I tell you your beautiful quite often but have I ever told you what a cute butt you have?" Eddie asks from the kitchen while Waylon is bent over to move the coffee table. Waylon quickly stands up straight and spins around, his face bright red. Eddie can't help but chuckle as Waylon stammers for a moment, caught off guard.

"Nope, no, you, you haven't told me that before," Waylon replies. "Thank you, I try extra hard to make sure my butt looks cute, I'm glad someone finally appreciates it," Waylon jokes as he walks towards Eddie. He hugs Eddie around his waist, letting his head rest against Eddie's chest. They stay like that until the oven alarm beeps. Waylon grabs a dishrag from the counter, folding it up to grab the muffin tin out of the oven. They finish cooling right around the time that the coffee pot finishes filling. Eddie pours himself a cup while Waylon pulls the muffins from the tin, setting them onto a plate and bringing them into the living room. 

Waylon flops down onto the couch next to Eddie who is flipping through channels on the TV. He pauses when he gets to TLC which is running 'Say Yes to the Dress'. 

"Ooh, yes let's watch this," Waylon says, grabbing the remote from Eddie and turning up the volume. Eddie smiles and shakes his head, taking a sip of his coffee. 

Though this is the first morning they had ever spent together like a normal couple would, it feels so natural. It comes so easy to Waylon. Putting his legs over Eddie's to get more comfortable despite Eddie's mild annoyance, making jokes about crappy and bizarre commercials, eating breakfast without nausea or pain, poking Eddie every once in a while just because. Waylon isn't worried about what he should do next, he isn't worried about messing something up or saying the right thing. 

The sound of Eddie's phone ringing from the bedroom interrupts their moment and Eddie sighs as he gets up from the couch and goes to answer the call. It reminds Waylon that he needs to call the real estate agent about the offer for the house. 

"Could I borrow your phone?" Waylon asks as Eddie walks back down the hall. Eddie hands it to him as he sits back down. 

"I have to head into work. One of the girls who works for me called in sick and we're already short staffed. You could come with me if you want, though you might get bored."

"Maybe," Waylon replies as he finishes dialing the number. The real estate agent tells Waylon that Anne and John came first thing in the morning.

"They wrote a check for their part and the bank will be giving you the rest, minus a few taxes that come with the selling process. It'll be wired to your bank account, although that will take at least twenty four hours," she tells Waylon. 

"Thank you so much for helping me with all of this," Waylon replies. He hangs up the phone and hands it to Eddie. 

"The money should be transferred into my bank account sometime tomorrow although it may take longer. Holy shit, Eddie. I did it. I just have to move everything out and bam, I don't have to worry about it ever again. This is such a relief," Waylon admits as he leans back into the couch. "When do you have to be in for work?"

"They need me as soon as I can get down there. Do you want to come with?" Eddie asks as he brings the empty plates to the kitchen.

"I should probably get down to Firestone and start packing up. Miles gave me his number, I wonder if he's doing anything today."

Eddie hands his phone to Waylon once again. Waylon laughs.

"Sorry," Waylon apologizes.

"Nonsense," Eddie replies, kissing Waylon. Waylon walks back to the bedroom, opening his suitcase and pulling out a fresh set of clothes. Then he grabs his wallet and pulls out a yellow strip of paper ripped from one of Miles' notepads, his number scribbled messily onto the paper. Miles picks up after the third ring.

"Hello?"

"Hey, Miles. This is Waylon."

"Oh, hey dude. What's up? How's it going?" Miles asks.

"Things are pretty good, I just sold the house. I need someone to help me pack it up and move everything," Waylon explains.

"Oh I see, you're just using me for my incredible muscles," Miles jokes.

"I'm not sure if that's how I would describe them. But seriously, I'll buy you lunch if you help out."

"Now I'm interested." 

 

It only takes Eddie seven minutes to walk to work from his apartment, so he reluctantly had agreed to Waylon borrowing the car, after a lot of convincing from Waylon.

"My truck is thirty years old and she still runs just fine. I'll be careful," Waylon pleads. Eddie sighs.

"I, please, just be careful. I don't want something to happen to either of you," Eddie says as he hands Waylon the keys. 

"Thank you, I promise nothing will happen," Waylon reassures, giving Eddie a hug and a kiss goodbye before walking down to the parking lot. When Waylon gets inside, he has to adjust the seat, moving it up and forward several inches. The gas and break pedals are much more sensitive than the pedals in Waylon's truck. He jerks the car a few times as he gets a feel for the way it handles. He's not used to being so close to the ground. He liked being up higher than the rest of the cars, it made him feel powerful.

Waylon is grateful for the GPS system in the car. He always felt a little blind driving around in his truck because he didn't have a phone to pull up directions on or a GPS to instruct him on where he was supposed to go. 

Miles lives in a neighborhood that rests just outside the city part of Denver. Even in mid morning, there's a decent amount of traffic on the road which makes Waylon anxious. He almost misses the turn into the neighborhood, having to hit the breaks hard to make it. 

"Driving in style, I see," Miles says as he gets in the passenger side.

"This is Eddie's car. He was down in Firestone for the open house and then we went back to his place. The first two nights I was back were hell. Being in that house all alone freaked me out. My truck is still chilling in the driveway. I haven't driven her in two months. I hope she runs okay," Waylon says as he turns out of the neighborhood.

"You call your truck a her?" Miles asks in disbelief.

"Do you have your own car?" Waylon inquires.

"No? Why does that matter?" 

"You don't have a car of your own, so you don't understand the deep, emotional bond that you get," Waylon jokes, faking sniffles and dabbing dramatically at his eyes. The two can't help but laugh.

When they get to Waylon's house, they start with the things that need to be thrown away and can't be sold, like the mattresses and couch. Waylon grabs tie downs from the garage and they manage to get the couch into the bed of the truck, using the mattresses the keep the couch legs from scratching or denting the metal, although the truck was already pretty beat up and it didn't matter at this point. It felt effective though. When they get everything loaded, Waylon's truck does start although the engine takes some time to fully roar to life. 

Waylon drives five miles below the speed limit, praying a cop doesn't pull them over for having too much in the trunk. Was that even possible? Luckily, they get to the public dump site without any problems. 

With the large throw away items gone, Miles and Waylon start to clear out the rest of the house. They make several trips to the nearby pawn shops, managing to sell most of the stuff, leaving Waylon with a mostly cleared out house and fifteen hundred. Around one, the two take a break and go to McDonald's for lunch. Waylon isn't sure his dietician would approve, but he felt starving and it actually sounded good.

The next thing they do is throw away a mass throw away of various items in the house that had no use to Waylon. They clear out everything in the fridge and pantry, making a game out of the finding the most expired food item in the house. Waylon had cleaned out most of the stuff in the fridge when he first got back since it had all gone bad when he was away. In the back of the freezer Waylon finds peas that expired in 2004.

"Dude, dude, dude. I think I just topped it all," Waylon says as he examines the bag which is covered in a layer of frost. 

"Oh man, how many months?" Miles asks, looking up from the pile of canned food he'd pulled out of the pantry.

"Not months. Years. These expired thirteen years ago. Man that's disgusting. How did they go unnoticed for that long?" Waylon questions in disbelief, tossing them into the trash can. 

Miles continues to clean out the kitchen, packing up the dishes and silverware while Waylon goes upstairs with a garbage bag. He gathers all of his father's clothes and puts them into the bag, sorting out anything damaged or stained so that he can donate the rest to charity. When Waylon gets to the closet and sees his mother's wedding dress he gets an idea, taking it downstairs and to the truck, carefully laying it out in the backseat. 

After three more hours of lifting and moving and cleaning and driving and selling, the only things that remain in the house are the curtains and the painting and the mirror on the walls of the front room. Waylon decides they should stay with the house. He locks the door behind him and Miles. The locks will be changed soon, no need to worry about his house key, the deed to the house is now with the bank, he didn't need to hang onto it anymore, the house is empty, he doesn't have to be responsible for it anymore. Waylon stares at the house, looking into upstairs window. 

Miles drives Waylon's truck back to Denver while Waylon stays in Eddie's car which has several boxes in the backseat and in the trunk. It occurs to Waylon as he pulls into the parking lot that he doesn't have a key to Eddie's apartment. Thankfully when he and Miles get up to the apartment the door is unlocked.

"Eddie?" Waylon calls out as he steps inside.

"In the kitchen, darling," Eddie replies. Waylon can smell something cooking.

"I have Miles with me," Waylon says as he walks through the front hall and to the kitchen. "Smells good. What are you making?" 

"Spaghetti and garlic bread. I went grocery shopping after work," Eddie answers. Waylon greets Eddie with a hug and a kiss. "Hey, Miles. How's it going?" 

"Pretty good. I actually have an interview on Friday for an internship at the local news office," Miles says. 

"That's good to hear. Would you like to stay for dinner?" Eddie offers, stirring the pasta and turning off the heat.

"No, thanks. I should probably get going soon. I can help you bring up your stuff, though."

"How much stuff?" Eddie asks, looking over to Waylon. 

"Don't worry, it's mostly books and shelves for those books to go on. I won't clutter up your apartment... too much." Waylon replies, walking away before Eddie can protest. Miles just laughs and follows Waylon. 

 

"Darling, I have plates and cups and silverware," Eddie argues as Waylon opens the box.

"Yes, but not very much. And none of it matches. I don't understand how you can have such an eye for decorating but them not care about small details like that," Waylon replies, unloading a few stacks of plates and putting them into one of the cupboards. 

"You're lucky I love you," Eddie says, sighing and helping Waylon to unload the box. There were still several boxes in the middle of the living room. Miles had helped bring in the rest of the stuff and Waylon had let him borrow the truck for the time being to help say thank you. 

"I am very lucky you love me," Waylon agrees, smiling at Eddie. "So I have a question for you. A favor to ask."

"What do you need?" Eddie asks, looking up from the box of books.

"Well, my mom's wedding dress was still at the house and there's no way I could sell it, and I thought, what if you worked on it? The dress is beautiful but a little outdated. Maybe you could fix it up, make it more modern? It could be like a little experiment or something. I don't know, I think it would be cool to see what you could do."

Eddie thinks it over for a moment. 

"I could try, but I'm not sure how much I could fix or modernize without changing the entire dress," Eddie says.

"Thank you," Waylon replies excitedly. Waylon continues to unpack, thinking about how tomorrow he'll start looking into retail spaces for rent. When the dress is finished, Waylon could put it in the window display and surprise Eddie with his very own dress shop. Waylon says a silent prayer that everything works out, hoping that Eddie will like it. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Heard you say, "Not today."

Tore the curtains down, windows open now, make a sound

Heard your voice, "There's no choice."

Tore the curtains, windows up now, make a noise

 

The next day while Eddie is at work, Waylon goes out to run a few errands. His first stop is to get an actual phone which takes just under an hour. The wait inside is almost unbearable. Kids are running around to play with all of the display phones while music plays from the local radio station overhead. The store is crowded which makes Waylon anxious. Finally when a lady comes over to help him he thinks that the torture is over, but then she goes over accessories, product care plans, data plans, and phone bills. When he finally leaves the store he's exhausted. Waylon decides to stop in at Starbucks for some caffeine therapy. He orders a small latte and a muffin, choosing a seat in the far corner where it's emptiest.

While sipping his coffee, Waylon looks up retail shops for sail. After several minutes of scrolling through pictures and monthly rates, Waylon finds one that looks promising. It's on the corner of a street next to a tattoo shop. The outside looks nice, new bricks laid and large windows. There's an empty black sign above which has faded spots from where letters once hung. There are only a few pictures of the inside but that looks nice as well. The brick is exposed on the inside of the building as well which gives it an older look, along with shiny hardwood floors. It's large and spacious, leaving room for displays and tables and fitting rooms. Waylon can visualize how it might turn out. It would be perfect. 

Waylon calls the number listed with the property and sets up a meeting two hours from now, giving him time to sit and relax. He watches the door, watches the people who walk in and out, and a man in a suit catches his eye. Probably on his lunch break from one of the bigger offices nearby, which would explain the formal attire. The man notices Waylon as well and gives him a small smile. Waylon can't help but look down and away, suddenly feeling very shy. His timidness grows when the man walks over.

"Is this seat taken?" He asks, gesturing to the chair across the table. Waylon gives a small shake of his head, running his thumb slowly over the cardboard slip on his cup. The man is quite a few years older than Waylon, probably approaching his mid thirties. 

"I'm Jeremy," the man introduces.

"Hi, I'm Waylon," Waylon replies shyly.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Waylon. So, what brings you to this particular coffee house?" Jeremy asks.

"I'm just running a few errands, needed to stop for some coffee," Waylon answers, checking the time on his phone. He still had an hour and thirty minutes to wait. 

"Maybe I'm being too forward, but do you have any plans tonight?" Jeremy inquires.

"Oh, uh, I-I have a, um, a boyfriend," Waylon stutters, thrown off by the question. 

He really just asked me out on a date?

"That's unfortunate. Maybe we could just hang out as friends," he offers. "Listen, I have to get back to the office, why don't I give you my number and you call if you change your mind."

Not wanting to be rude, Waylon agrees, letting Jeremy add his contact to Waylon's phone. When he leaves, Waylon sits back in his chair in disbelief. 

"Did that really just happen?" Waylon whispers to himself. "Holy shit."

 

When Waylon gets to the property, he's glad there aren't any major visible problems that couldn't be seen in the pictures. The brick looks recent, still bright and smooth. The black rectangle of wood for the sign is a little more faded but Waylon figures that would be thrown out anyway. An older lady with streaks of grey in her hair approaches Waylon.

"Are you here to view the space?" She asks. Waylon nods. "Well, it had a lot of renovations done by the previous owners before they unfortunately went out of business so everything is up to code. As you can see it has a large open room which leaves a lot of area for whatever plans you have. What do you have planned?" She asks as they go inside and walk around the room.

"A dress shop. Like wedding dresses and formal dresses and things like that," Waylon answers looking around. 

"This shop has the two large display windows so you could show off a lot of different designs," she comments. "So what do you think?"

"I think I'm ready to discuss payment." 

 

When Waylon gets home later that afternoon he can barely hide his smile. The retail space is his. 

There's so much to do, this is so exciting. I'll need to start buy materials and look into selling permits and suppliers for the fabric. Eddie wouldn't be able to  make hundreds of dresses on his own without someone's help and I have zero experience. He needs seamstresses. 

Waylon is reading about potential fabric suppliers when Eddie walks in.

"Hello, darling. How was your day?" He asks as he walks over to the couch.

"Pretty uneventful. I got a phone but that's pretty much all I've done besides watch TV," Waylon answers casually, hoping it doesn't sound too casual or forced.

"You're going to waste away your mind if you sit at home everyday watching it," Eddie replies, pulling Waylon into a hug. "I had time to work on the dress. Mostly I removed some of the older embellishments and the lace of the sleeves. Tomorrow I'll probably have some more time. I'm thinking maybe the skirt can be pulled up on one side so that the wearer's ankle and calf would be visible. I also plan to add some embellishments onto the bodice as well. Make it sparkle. I think that would fit the personality of the dress."

"The personality?" Waylon asks doubtfully.

"Yes, every dress has a personality, obviously," Eddie answers like Waylon had asked something absurd. "It's a bold dress, an eye-catching dress. Loud and understated, almost."

Waylon smiles as Eddie continues to talk about his plans for the dress, enjoying Eddie's passion for it. 

"I think that it will turn out lovely. You have such amazing ideas, Eddie," Waylon compliments, leaning against Eddie's shoulder.

"Thank you, darling. And thank you for letting me work on the dress. It's so nice to be able to make something. Even if the base is already there, it's fun to work on."

"You're the best person for the dress, Eddie. I think my mom would love to see it given new life. I wonder if she even remembers it. I wonder if she'd even want to remember the dress how it was. You're doing a good thing," Waylon reassures, putting his arms around Eddie's bicep and snuggling up closer to him.

 

Waylon looks up at the gold lettering, unsure of how it looks against the brick. At least it wasn't crooked. Waylon continues to look up at it, wondering if the lettering would look better white. Eventually he sighs, deciding something like that wouldn't be too hard to fix if it looked weird. Waylon goes inside of the shop where a small group of people are installing mirrors on the walls as well as two long, metal poles across the left wall for the dresses to be hung from. Waylon felt weird telling other, older people what to do. Instructing them on where to put the counter, where to put the fitting rooms and add the walls. 

The inside was coming along nicely. Three walls came out on the right side where white couches and tables were placed in front of fitting rooms. On those walls were large, oval shaped mirrors. Waylon had even gotten a small chandelier in the center of the room. The counter had a marble top and behind it against the wall were gold letters similar to the ones outside that said "Darling Designs".

Waylon had even been working on setting up a website and advertising. Now late May, Waylon was planning on a grand opening sometime toward the end of summer. When the mirrors are finished installing, Waylon brings in four mannequins and gets them placed in the display windows. He sighs happily as he looks around the room. A month of work had paid off. The shop was ready for dresses to be brought in. One dress in particular. Ruby's wedding dress had been finished three weeks ago and Waylon had encouraged Eddie to start working on the dress he had designed in MMR. Eddie was hesitant and asked why Waylon was so insistent, but with enough begging, he had agreed. 

Waylon knew Eddie is becoming suspicious, but that didn't matter. It wasn't likely that Eddie would pass by the shop, before Waylon had a chance to surprise him, and other than that there was no real evidence. He had all receipts and messages relating to the shop emailed instead of sent to the apartment after the supply company had sent Waylon the bill which was almost seen by Eddie. 

Getting the work permits necessary and the supplies and the labor to get the shop set up had taken a considerable chunk out of Waylon's inheritance, leaving him with less than half of what he got from the house, but that wasn't important to Waylon. He didn't care in the slightest. 

With the mannequins in place, Waylon gets the wedding dress from the car, carefully placing it on one of the mannequins and adjusting the dress so that it hung down without any bumps or creases that weren't a part of the design.

The finished dress was a masterpiece. The slit on the side came up just above the knee, the waist tight so that the dress puffed out. Eddie had added jewels to the skirt as well as the bodice that caught the light beautifully. The back had been cut out with lace added instead to fill the u shape. The arms were kept mostly the same, covering the shoulders but not going too far down. Waylon can't help but beam as he looks around once again. 

I can't believe that this is actually happening. I can't believe it. Not even gonna lie, I'm like the  best boyfriend on the planet right now.

Waylon gets home after Eddie, which raises some suspicion.

"Where have you been, Waylon? I called you several times but you didn't answer," Eddie says as Waylon closes the front door behind him. Waylon grits his teeth. Eddie was calling him Waylon. Though he did that sometimes, his tone of voice has an edge of hostility.

"Shit, I'm sorry. My phone's volume was off," Waylon apologizes, walking to the kitchen and giving Eddie a hug from behind. "Dinner smells good."

"I'm making chicken, rice, and asparagus. So where were you all day?" Eddie inquires, turning around to face Waylon. 

"I went to the park for a little, sat in the sun and laid in the grass. It was a lovely day today." 

Eddie doesn't seem to believe Waylon but he accepts the answer. Waylon can tell Eddie is unsatisfied with his answer, and after dinner decides to make it up to Eddie. Eddie is laying on the bed with a book and Waylon makes a point to strut in and get his attention. Eddie looks up curiously.

"What are you doing, darling?" Eddie asks, chuckling. 

"Who me? I'm just changing," Waylon answers with mock innocence. He grabs his shirt by the bottom and pulls it off slowly, throwing it to the ground dramatically. Eddie laughs. 

"I don't suppose you're doing that for my benefit?" Eddie questions, setting his book down to give the younger man his full attention. Waylon just shrugs slides his pants off slowly, turning away from Eddie and making a point to shake his ass around. "You have my attention, you know." Waylon giggles as he climbs onto the bed, crawling over to sit in Eddie's lap, straddling him. Eddie kisses Waylon softly, his lips brushing gently across Waylon's. 

Eddie places one hand on Waylon's back, the other holding his chin. Waylon places his hand's on the older man's chest, letting his fingers slide down slowly then sneak their way up his shirt. Waylon continues to move his hands up, finally bringing Eddie's shirt up and off, tossing it to the side of the bed. Waylon takes a moment to admire Eddie, giving Eddie a chance to flip them around so that Waylon is laying down and Eddie is on top.

Eddie removes the rest of his clothing, then snakes his fingers underneath the band of Waylon's boxers, sliding them down slowly. He grabs Waylon's legs so that he is between them, placing soft kisses up Waylon's inner thigh. Waylon gasps when Eddie's soft lips brush over his manhood. Eddie grabs the base and puts his mouth around Waylon, slowly working his tongue over Waylon's erection.

Waylon jerks up his hips at the new sensation, moaning as Eddie's mouth continues to work Waylon. Eddie moves his hand up and down in slow movements as he continues to blow Waylon. The warmth of Eddie's mouth makes Waylon's thoughts blur. He groans and arches his back, reaching his hands back to grip the edge of the mattress.

"Oh Eddie." Waylon can't help but moan his name as he feels himself start to climax. "I-I'm, gonna, I'm about to," Waylon struggles to say, digging his nails into the mattress and pushing his hips up as he orgasms. Eddie lays next to Waylon, kissing just above his collar bones. When Waylon finally catches his breath, he looks over to Eddie.

"That was... I can't even describe it. That felt amazing," Waylon comments. Eddie chuckles, kissing Waylon.

"Goodnight, darling. I love you," Eddie says as he reaches over and turns the off the lamp resting on the nightstand. 

"I love you too, Eddie," Waylon replies, pulling the covers up to his chin.

That was a bit odd. Even if we don't have sex every night, that's not something that's ever happened. He didn't ask for anything in return, just went to bed. 

Waylon feels uncomfortable about the situation. There's a feeling of coldness from Eddie. Maybe he was still angry at Waylon for not answering the phone. Waylon shrugs off the heavy feeling, deciding not to try to cuddle with Eddie that night, instead curling up as close to the edge of the bed and with his back to Eddie. 

In the morning Waylon wakes up to an empty bed. Waylon gets up slowly, pausing to stretch and then getting dressed. When he walks down the hall he can smell something sweet coming from the kitchen. 

"Good morning, darling. I'm making pancakes," Eddie greets as he flips one in the pan. 

"Good morning," Waylon replies, walking to the couch. "How are you?"

"I'm fine. A little on the tired side," Eddie answers as he flips the pancake once again. "How did you sleep?"

"Not great. Things, uh. Things felt different last night," Waylon admits, looking over to Eddie who straightens up and looks forward. "Did I do something?" Eddie sighs.

"Waylon, it feels like you're keeping something from me. I don't like that," Eddie responds putting the finished pancake onto the top of the stack. It's Waylon's turn to sigh. 

"Okay, I might be be keeping something from you, but you have to believe me when I say it's nothing bad. It's a surprise for you, something that I'm working on." 

"What could possibly require you to be gone several hours every single day? I-I want to believe you but this just, it feels like something else is going on," Eddie says, turning the heat off and placing the pan in the sink to cool off. 

"Fine, then I guess I have to show you. After breakfast," Waylon finally replies.

The shop really doesn't have anything else that needs to be done, I guess I can show him today. 

 

When they get to 'Darling Designs', Waylon has Eddie blindfolded.

"Okay, okay, c'mon a few steps forward. Okay, stop!" Waylon instructs so that Eddie is standing in front of the shop.

"Darling, where are we?" Eddie asks in confusion, looking around despite not being able to be anything.

"Why don't you see for yourself," Waylon replies, folding his arms and looking over excitedly to Eddie who lifts the blindfold up slowly. He looks up at the shop, reading the name and seeing the dress in the display.

"Is this, did you, f-for me?" Eddie stutters, looking back at Waylon in disbelief. Waylon nods his head proudly.

"C'mon you have to see the inside!"

Eddie looks around the shop in wonder, his jaw practically hitting the floor. 

"This place is beautiful, I-I don't even know what to say."

"Thank you, you're the best boyfriend in the entire world, sorry I doubted you. Those all work," Waylon teases. 

"Thank you so much, Waylon. How much did this all cost you?" 

"Shhhhhh, don't worry about that," Waylon says, pushing Eddie to one of the dressing areas. "Everyone knows you never tell someone how much a gift costs."

"How much have you put into this? Do you have a permit to sell? Have you looked into suppliers?" Eddie inquires as he looks at the little details of the dressing rooms and areas outside of them.

"Don't you worry about that. I even looked into a few very capable seamstresses who can help you with the dresses," Waylon answers. "Look, over here is where you can hang all the dresses, and we can have a few tables for short dresses and displays for those as well. Eddie, you can start designing your own dresses, you can have girls walk down the aisle on their happiest day ever in your dresses. I even have a website designed and I've put up a few small ads about opening soon. We could have a grand opening towards the end of the summer once you get enough dresses made, and like I said you'll have qualified seamstresses to help you out. If you give them the design they can create it."

Eddie looks around the shop once more before walking over to Waylon, picking him up and spinning.

"Darling, I can't thank you enough. This is truly a dream come true. I can never repay you," Eddie says looking into Waylon's eyes. Waylon shakes his head.

"You don't have to repay me. You're happiness is enough for me," Waylon replies, cupping Eddie's face with his hands and kissing him. 

 

Chapter Text

Are you searching for purpose?

Then write something, yeah it might be worthless

Then paint something then, it might be wordless

Pointless curses, nonsense verses

You'll see purpose start to surface

No one else is dealing with your demons

Meaning maybe defeating them

Could be the beginning of your meaning, friend.

 

The grand opening of "Darling Designs" falls on the first Friday of August. Waylon spends the whole week in advance buying ads on local news stations and newspapers and finalizing the website. Every detail has been considered. All the dresses have been inspected and double checked, the floor has been freshly waxed and then swept and then swept one more time for good measure, the mirrors were cleaned and then cleaned once more just in case, and every wall and brick has been inspected for any unsightly stains or cracks or chips. There wasn't a single thing that needed to be checked, but Waylon and Eddie can hardly sleep on Thursday.

"I can't believe this is finally happening," Eddie comments in disbelief, laying on his side to face Waylon.

"This is gonna be so amazing, Eddie. It's gonna be amazing, everything is ready, we've both put so much effort into this, it's going to turn out amazing," Waylon reassures, grabbing Eddie's hands and squeezing.

"Darling, I am still in shock that you've done all of this for me. Honestly it blows my mind," Eddie replies. "The floors are clean right?"

"Yes, Eddie, like five times."

"And, all the dresses, we checked them, made sure they're all perfect?"

"I promise you, it's all going to be fine."

"Did you turn off the oven?" Eddie asks quickly, his face full of concern.

"What? The oven, no I didn't..." Waylon starts to reply, suddenly worried until he realizes what Eddie has just asked. Eddie purses his lips and tries to hide his smile. "You jerk," Waylon says, trying not to laugh. He fails miserably, overcome by a fit of giggles. "An oven. A goddamned oven. You convinced me for like, two whole seconds that I had left the oven on, in a goddamn dress store." The couple falls into a new fit of laughter together.

"I'm sorry darling, but that was funny, you have to admit it," Eddie chuckles, leaning forward to kiss Waylon.

"You know what? I'll admit that that is the first good joke you've had in the longest time," Waylon teases, sticking his tongue out.

"I can accept that," Eddie says, moving over to pull Waylon into his arms. "I love you, Waylon."

"I love you too. We should probably try to get some sleep. I can tell tomorrow is going to be a long day."

Eddie pulls Waylon closer and kisses him behind his ear, whispering goodnight before closing his eyes and eventually falling asleep. 

Waylon wakes up first around six . He immediately jumps out of bed, changing into his nicest pair of black jeans. Waylon definitely didn't have much in the way of nice clothing. He pulls on a white button down as well, walking to the kitchen as he does the buttons. Waylon turns on the coffee machine first then starts some eggs and bacon on the stove, as well as putting some bread into the toaster.

Waylon practically chugs his first cup of coffee, not considering that caffeine would be the last thing to calm his nerves. When Eddie wakes up, Waylon pours him a cup, which Eddie accepts graciously.

"How long have you been up?" Eddie asks, rubbing his eyes and yawning.

"About half an hour. I was just getting ready to wake you up. Breakfast is ready," Waylon answers, scooping some eggs and a few pieces of bacon onto a plate and handing it to Eddie. Waylon's hands shake a little as he holds it out.

"How much coffee have you had?" Eddie questions, looking over Waylon. The younger man laughs and shakes his head.

"Don't ask questions you're not prepared to hear the answers to," Waylon replies with a grin before finishing his third cup.

"You're heart is going to explode if you're not careful. Anxiety and coffee are not good friends, Waylon. Seriously, slow down," Eddie says with concern, taking the mug from Waylon's hand.

"Okay, okay, that was my last cup," Waylon promises, walking to the couch and setting his plate on the coffee table. 

Eddie and Waylon are out the door by seven and get to the dress shop fifteen minutes later giving them forty five minutes to check everything one more time. Waylon sweeps the floor one more time while Eddie checks the details on all the dresses, which unsurprisingly had nothing that needed to be fixed. About twenty minutes before the doors are supposed to open, Waylon notices a small group of girls who appeared to be in their late twenties.

"Eddie, people are already showing up," Waylon says excitedly, looking towards the windows. "This is going to be great."

"Darling, think is there anything, anything that needs to be fixed or checked? Any ovens left on?" Eddie asks with a laugh. Waylon rolls his eyes.

"I will fight you if you never let that go," Waylon threatens. Eddie grins and walks over to Waylon, grabbing his hands. 

"We got this. It's going to be amazing. This is going to be perfect. I know it." 

 

"Welcome to Darling Designs. What can I help you with today?" Waylon asks as the first group walks in. 

"I'm getting married and I need the perfect wedding dress, something original," the girl replies as her and her friends walk into the store. A second small group walks in afterwards, who look around the same age as Waylon. Eddie walks over to help them.

"Congratulations, that must be very exciting. Well here at Darling Designs all of our dresses are one hundred percent original and hand made, so I'm positive you'll find something perfect," Waylon replies, walking over to the further rack. "These are all of our current wedding dresses, I can help you look through them or you can browse yourself."

"I think I'll see what I can find," she replies as she starts to look through the dresses on the rack.

"Of course. I'll leave the first dressing room open. Could I get your name please?"

"Lisa," the girl answers. 

Waylon walks over to the first fitting room, writing the name 'Lisa' in his best cursive handwriting on the chalkboard that hangs from the door. He then walks to the front where Eddie is showing the younger girls their formal dresses. Waylon assumes it's for prom. Just a few minutes later a girl walks in with her mother, looking for a wedding dress as well. 

The morning continues with a relatively even mix of people looking for wedding dresses and formal dresses, and fortunately they don't have an issue with no open fitting rooms. When things calm down for a little Waylon offers to go get lunch.

"There are only a few people, I could run down to the bakery and grab us each something to eat," Waylon says as he walks over to Eddie who has just finished a sale for one of their more expensive dresses.

"That would be amazing, darling. This is going so much better than I could have dreamed. Honestly, I was kind of worried that no one would show up," Eddie admits as he puts the store copy of the receipt in the drawer. 

"Wow I can't believe you have so little faith in my marketing abilities," Waylon replies with fake offense. "I actually took a few business classes and marketing classes my sophomore and junior years. I know how to bring the customers."

"Well I'm glad. Now, I think I remember a certain offer to run down to the bakery and I am absolutely starving," Eddie replies. Waylon sighs.

"Yeah, I think that might have happened. I'll be back in a few. Text me if things get too crazy and you need me to come back."

When Waylon gets back, things have gotten a bit busier again. A larger group of girls is sitting around the third dressing room, waiting for the bride-to-be to show off the dress she's trying on. Waylon walks over to the counter, placing a small box of pastries on the counter as well as a coffee. Eddie stares at the one in Waylon's hand and gives him a look.

"Don't worry, it's decaf," Waylon reassures. 

They close the shop at seven, both men exhausted from the excitement of the day.

"We sold twenty three dresses," Eddie informs as he wipes down the counter and register. "I'd call that a very successful day."

"I'd call that a very tiring day," Waylon replies, yawing as if on cue.

When they finish cleaning the shop and locking up, the two head home and fall asleep almost immediately. 

 

On Sunday they close the shop to have a day for themselves. Saturday was equally as busy as Friday leaving both men exhausted and ready for a day to sleep in. Neither of them wake up before eleven. Waylon wakes up first.

"Eddie, hey Eddie, wake up," Waylon whispers to the older man, pushing his shoulder lightly. Eddie groans and turns to his other side, not wanting to wake up. Waylon chuckles and leans on top Eddie, kissing his cheek. "Babe, wake up, I'm bored."

"There's a tv in the living room. You could go check on the laundry or something. Maybe scrub the bathroom or clean the kitchen. I don't know, just please let me sleep. I'm so tired," Eddie replies while pulling the comforter over his face. Waylon sighs and accepts defeat, getting up from bed and going into the kitchen to pour himself a bowl of cereal. He brings it out to the balcony, sitting on the outside chair and looking down to the city. Waylon sighs and leans back, closing his eyes and enjoying the sun splashing across his face and chest. 

Waylon continues to sit on the balcony, enjoying the sounds of the city and the people below him. He can faintly hear the mumbles of conversations through the sounds of traffic passing by. He shields his eyes and looks up to the sky which is a bright clear blue.

It's a lovely day out. I should get Eddie out of bed so we can go and do something.

Waylon gets up and goes back inside, placing his bowl in the sink which is starting to overflow with dishes. Waylon sighs and opens the dishwasher which is full of clean dishes. Waylon starts to unload the dishwasher then fill it back up when Eddie wakes up and stumbles into the kitchen.

"Why do you have to make so much noise, darling?" Eddie asks with annoyance as he turns on the coffee machine.

"I'm sorry, Eddie. Hey it's already almost noon, though. You can't sleep the entire day away or you'll be up late," Waylon replies as he puts the last dishes into the dishwasher, putting a soap pod into the small compartment before shutting it and turning it on. "I love you," Waylon adds, walking over to Eddie to kiss him.

"I love you, too. Have you had breakfast?" Eddie asks after accepting Waylon's kiss.

"Yeah, I had a bowl of cereal. I could make you something if you want," Waylon offers.

"No, it's okay. I'm not feeling super hungry. I'll probably just have an orange and maybe some toast." 

"We should go out and do something today," Waylon says, holding Eddie by his hips. 

"Or we could stay inside all day and take a nap," Eddie suggests with a yawn. 

"We should go for a hike. C'mon it would be so much fun. It's such a lovely day and it would be good to get some fresh air and some sun and some exercise," Waylon insists, puffing out his bottom lip like a child would. Eddie laughs and shakes his head.

"For some reason our bed sounds more inviting," Eddie jokes, kissing Waylon on his jaw. Waylon closes his eyes and leans his head to the side, letting Eddie kiss his neck. The younger man feels the gentle nip of teeth against his skin and sighs in response.

"You... make some very good points," Waylon finally manages to say. Eddie grins and picks Waylon up, setting him on the counter. Waylon drapes his arms against Eddie's shoulders and kisses him, letting his hands wander down to the waist band of Eddie's pants. As if in response Eddie pushes his hips against Waylon's, both of the men groaning in response. Waylon feels himself grow hard against Eddie. Eddie tugs Waylon's pants off, rolling their hips together once more.

"Eddie please," Waylon begs, squirming under Eddie's touch. The older man bites Waylon's neck once again, eliciting a soft moan. When Eddie finishes undressing Waylon and himself, he continues to slowly push his hips against Waylon's, drawing out the sensation. Waylon lets his head fall back, biting his lip and groaning. "Eddie, I-I can't stand it. Please, I need-" 

Waylon cuts himself off with a gasp as Eddie pushes inside of Waylon slowly. Waylon digs his nails into Eddie's back, yelling out as Eddie pulls out and then thrusts back in. Eddie continues his rapid pace, the sounds of skin slapping together and both their legs hitting into the cabinet filling the room. 

"Oh, darling," Eddie gasps readjusting his grip on Waylon's hips. "You feel... so wonderful," Eddie manages to say continuing to leave kisses along Waylon's neck. 

Waylon can't help but let out a series of high pitched moans, dragging his nails down Eddie's back and wrapping his hands around the older man's waist, leaning into his shoulder. Eddie slows down for a moment to readjust, leaving Waylon almost begging for more. When Eddie continues Waylon is moaning into his ear once more. 

 

When Eddie is being woken up with Waylon singing Happy Birthday extremely off key, accompanied by a cupcake with a lit candle in one hand and a small gift bag in the other, he almost thinks Waylon's gone off the deep end.

"Darling, what are you doing?" Eddie asks, sitting up and yawning.

"Dude, it's August 29th. 22 years ago today you were born," Waylon says with a laugh. "Did you seriously forget your own birthday?" 

"It can't already be the end of the month," Eddie replies, looking very confused as Waylon sets down the cupcake to pull out his phone and show Eddie the date. "I-I guess it is the 29th. This whole month seems to have sped by. I've been so caught up with work, I didn't even realize I stopped paying attention to the date." He blows the candle out after a moment.

"You dork," Waylon comments laughing once again. "You deserve a break. That's why I'm taking you out tonight. Have the whole evening planned."

"It's like your one purpose in life is to plan things out. I don't know how I managed all my chaos before you," Eddie replies, pulling the candle out of the cupcake and taking a bite.

"You didn't. That's why you love me so much. Now here, open your present. Seriously it took me so long to finally get a gift ide. I swear you're the hardest person I've ever bought a gift for," Waylon admits, sitting beside Eddie on the bed.

"Sorry to cause you the trouble," Eddie laughs, grabbing the gift bag. He pulls the tissue paper up slowly and then immediately looks confused. The moment it clicks Eddie's face changes to shock.

"You didn't," Eddie says after a moment.

"I did," Waylon replies giggling.

"You didn't," Eddie repeats, lifting the gift from the bag.

"I did," Waylon says once more, grinning from ear to ear. 

"You got us a cat," Eddie says in disbelief, holding up the small can of cat food. "Where is it?"

"She's in her kennel in the living room. I was at the mall the other day, and I couldn't help but go inside the pet shop. The kittens in the window were just too cute, Eddie. The moment I saw her I knew you'd love her," Waylon explains, sitting up from the bed. He leaves and a few moments later returns holding a small kitten, streaked with grey's and white's. She let's out a small mew when Waylon places her on the bed. 

"She's so tiny," Eddie comments, holding his hand out for her to sniff. She licks his finger a few times and then decides to rub her face against his hand as she starts to purr. "What's her name?"

"The people at the store called her Lucy, and I think the name fits."

"Hey Lucy. You small little thing." Eddie carefully picks her up and sets her in his lap. She kneads the spot a few times before laying down and curling in a ball. Eddie is grateful her claws don't poke through the comforter. "You are so lucky this cat is a sweetheart," Eddie says, scratching her gently behind her ears.

"I had a feeling it wouldn't take too long for you to come around. Already have her litter box and food and water out, and there are a few toys in the grocery bag on the table. I'm really glad you like her cause I had my heart set on her the second I heard her squeaky meow.

"Thank you, Darling. You really are an amazing boyfriend, someday I'll find a way to repay you. I love you so much," Eddie says, turning to Waylon to kiss him.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

What if my dream does not happen?

Would I just change what I've told my friends?

Don't wanna know who I would be,

When I wake up from a dreamer's sleep.

I need to know that when I fail, you'll still be here,

'Cause if you stick around I'll sing you pretty sounds,

And we'll make money selling your hair.

 

Around the beginning of October Eddie gets a life changing call. His phone rings while Waylon is picking up take out from a Chinese place a few blocks away so Eddie could keep working on new designs for a line of winter style wedding dresses. Waylon had given Eddie the idea to call the new set of dresses "Wear the Snow". 

When Waylon gets home Lucy immediately greets him, rubbing against his legs and mewing loudly. 

"Hey babe, sorry the food took longer than usual," Waylon greets as he gets into the kitchen. The second he sets the bag of food down Eddie comes behind him and picks him up, swirling around in a circle. Waylon immediately falls into a fit of giggles.

"Eddie, what are you doing?" Waylon asks when Eddie sets him down.

"Darling, it's amazing. I just got the most incredible news," Eddie answers excitedly, hugging Waylon tightly.

"What news?"

"I guess my designs got out there, there's a fashion magazine in New York that wants to feature my dresses in their November issue," Eddie says excitedly. 

"Are you being serious right now?" Waylon asks, his jaw hanging down to the floor.

"One hundred percent. They want me to fly to New York as soon as I can with all of my "Wear the Snow" designs. They have a studio up there that will help with finishing the dresses and then they can start taking pictures of actual models in my dresses, Waylon." Eddie says excitedly. 

"If you went to New York, how long would you be there?" Waylon asks, suddenly feeling a little uneasy. He and Eddie start taking the food out of the bag and setting it out on the coffee table.

"Uh, I think they said something about at least two weeks since they'll need time to work on the dresses," Eddie answers as Lucy jumps up onto the coffee table, trying to get into the egg drop soup. Waylon picks her up to move her away.

"Oh, you're getting so big, sweetie. You can't stand all over the food," Waylon says as he sets her down carefully next to the coffee table, petting her behind her ears for a few moments. He then opens the container with the soup, handing her a piece of the egg. She licks it a few times before she starts to eat it. "So what, you could be gone for half a month? That just feels like such a long time to be without you."

"I know, but it wouldn't be practical if we both left. I don't think it'd take that long," Eddie replies, giving Lucy a small piece of orange chicken. She happily accepts.

"Yeah, but then what's after that y'know? I'm positive more people are gonna love your designs, are they just gonna travel all the way to Colorado to buy a dress? Are they gonna become available online to buy? Are we gonna open more shops? Like what's the goal here?" Waylon asks, trying to rationalize through it all.

"That's the other thing they mentioned over the phone, is that depending on the success, they'd like me to consider moving to New York and starting a second shop there, apparently my dresses caught a fair amount attention from bigger companies. It's all up in the air right now," Eddie explains.

Waylon sits there silently, taking a bite of rice and leaning back onto the couch. As he continues to think it over he sighs, leaning against Eddie.

"It's just a lot all the sudden. I'm happy for you though, this is really exciting. I'll get over myself, don't worry. This is your dream," Waylon finally says. Eddie puts his arm around Waylon's waist, kissing him on top of his head.

"This is gonna be a good thing. I promise."

 

The first night without Eddie, Waylon feels uneasy in the large bed, with nothing but a small kitten to keep him company. The sheets are colder, the bed is too big and there's not a giant body next to him to keep him feeling safe. All of the city noises from below that he had never paid attention to before are now blaring in his ears. He tosses and turns and shivers, getting up to turn up the heat before crawling back in bed. 

Lucy mews and walks over to Waylon, nudging his hand and purring softly. Waylon chuckles as she continues to walk around in circles, finally settling down by his chest. 

"At least I have you to keep me warm," he whispers, carefully adjusting and closing his eyes, trying not to pay attention to all of the noises around him that seem to get louder. 

In the morning he wakes up to Lucy kneading his stomach and meowing loudly in his face. Waylon sighs as she meows excitedly when she sees he's awake. When he sits up she runs excitedly to the kitchen, Waylon stumbling behind her. She sits in front of her half full food bowl and continues to meow. Waylon rolls his eyes as he refills it, petting the length of her body a few times as she eats contently. 

After breakfast Waylon watches tv for a little before getting ready for work.

Work goes by relatively uneventful. Brides to be come in with their friends and family to try on dresses and teens come in with all of their friends to try on dresses for homecoming or whatever school dance they're having. Waylon thinks to himself about how bizarre it is that he's the same age as some of the teens coming in and yet there's a huge gap between what they're doing with their lives and what he's doing with his. He has to cover his mouth to keep from laughing and drawing attention over to himself. One of seamstresses who is helping to cover the shop offers to close and Waylon accepts since things are starting to slow down anyway. 

While walking back to the apartment, Waylon is behind two people who both have lit cigarettes in their hands, the gentle breeze blowing their smoke directly into Waylon's face. He had never particularly enjoyed the smell of cigarettes although it didn't really bother him either. Something about the smell of it today is unusually enjoyable. Waylon can't explain his reasoning but he decides to walk into the nearest convenient store. When he opens the door a little bell clinks above him and an older man at the register looks up.

"Just a pack of Marlboros," Waylon says awkwardly as he approaches the counter. 

"ID please," the old man at the register says. When Waylon hands the man his ID he looks at it skeptically. After a moment he hands it back along with the cigarettes.

When he pays he walks out of the store as quickly as he can without looking suspicious. He pockets the pack of smokes and finishes his way back to the apartment. After refilling Lucy's food bowl and cleaning out her litter box, Waylon grabs a lighter from the junk drawer and steps out onto the patio, leaning against the railing. He sets the cigarettes and the lighter on the railing carefully and stares out to the city, the sun starting to go down, with rays of light peaking over the tops of the buildings. He breathes in deeply and then exhales, his breath a little shaky. 

After a few more minutes he grabs the pack of cigarettes and pulls the tab on the plastic to open it. After placing the wrapper in his pocket he opens the top of the box and pulls one out. The long and skinny shape of the cigarette feels awkward between his fingers. He puts it up to his lips slowly, covering the end with one hand like her always sees people doing, and lighting the end with the other. After a moment of the fire on the tip he slowly draws some of the smoke into his mouth. 

When he breathes it in it burns his throat and his lungs. He tries his best to blow it out without coughing with no luck, having a small coughing fit as the last of the smoke leaves his lungs. 

The burning feels nice though. Waylon takes another drag and this time he's able to exhale without coughing. 

As he continues to smoke he starts to get dizzy, his head feeling like it's spinning. Waylon has to grab the railing with one of his hands to steady himself. He can't help but laugh to himself.

The rush ends almost as quickly as it started. 

 When Waylon goes back inside he sits on the couch and turns on the tv, staying up later than he normally does, before dozing off on the couch. He wakes up to his phone going off. Eddie's name is on the screen.

"Darling, I meant to call you yesterday but there was just so much that happened yesterday. I met with the magazine's editors and the photographer who's gonna be taking the pictures and then I met with the models who will be wearing the dresses and then we started looking at the base of the dresses that they already have on hand and figured out some of the design work we're gonna do. It was so much to take in," Eddie explains.

"Don't worry about it. It sounds like you had a very exciting day. Did they talk about how long you'd need to stay in New York or is it still up in the air?" Waylon asks, rubbing his neck which has become stiff from sleeping on the couch.

"Well we still have a lot of work to do on the dresses before they're ready to be photographed and then they want to take the initial photos and figure out the layout they'll have in the magazine, and then go back for a second photo shoot to make any adjustments necessary. Don't worry, Waylon. I'll be back before you know it," Eddie reassures. 

"I have abandonment issues, you know," Waylon jokes. He hears Eddie laugh on the other end. 

"We need to come back to New York together. It's so incredible. You always talk about how Denver is such a big city, but that's not even the half of it. And the people. You walk one step and ten different people have bumped into you. And the noise never ends. I'm up on the twelfth floor and I can still hear all the commotion as if I was standing right there on the street. There's so much to look at, so many beautiful places to see," Eddie gushes.

"How could I say no to non stop noise and a lack of personal space?" Waylon teases.

"I mean it. We're going to go to New York together, I promise. Who knows, maybe we could spend New Years there. Anyway, I have to get going, I have to be there by nine and these are definitely people I want to make a good impression on and not make wait. I'll call you again when I get the chance. I love you, Waylon."

"I love you too," Waylon replies, but he isn't sure if Eddie hears all of it before hanging up. Waylon sighs.

He's literally pursuing his dream, the least I could do is not get upset when it takes more of his attention than I do.

Waylon wants to go back to sleep, it only being six thirty, but if he goes back to sleep now he might not wake up in time for work. After sitting there for almost ten minutes he finally forces himself to get up and go shower. He finds himself nodding off in the shower and switches the water to cold. It wakes him up long enough to get his coffee machine started. While he waits for it to brew he curses himself for sleeping on the couch, rubbing his neck once again. 

 

A few hours after Waylon gets to work a young woman comes in. She looks slightly familiar but Waylon can't quite place why until he notices she's carrying a white garment bag. She was there the first day they opened. Waylon tries to remember her name.

"Do you guys, um, do you do refunds if the dress hasn't been worn yet?" She asks, her voice cracking on 'worn'. Her eyes start to water a bit.

"Uh, we, we've never actually had someone try to return a dress so I'm not sure," Waylon starts to say. Hearing that seems to upset her. The woman's chin starts to quiver and she looks away as she takes a deep breath.

"I just, I bought it when you guys first opened and except for trying it on once, I never, um, I never got the chance to wear it," she replies, her cheeks turning red.

"Okay, uh, since you haven't worn it I think that we could accept it, I'll just need to check it. It's Lisa, right?" He asks as he grabs the garment bag from her and lays it down across the counter.

"Yeah, I'm surprised you remember that," Lisa answers, looking a little weirded out.

"That, probably sounded a little creepy," Waylon admits with a chuckle, "Don't worry, I just remember because it was our first day opening. It was a pretty big deal for my, uh, my partner and me. If I saw all the customers who came in on the first day again I could probably remember the names of all of the ones who I helped," he explains as he takes the dress out of the bag and starts to look it over.

"Your partner? Like boyfriend?" She inquires.

"Yeah, boyfriend. He and I own the shop together. I mean, technically I own it, but it's kinda like a gift I gave him," Waylon answers, looking on the insides of the sleeve and skirt and checking the layers for any rips.

"You gave him an entire store?" She asks in disbelief. 

"Well yeah, I mean, he would always talk to me about how he dreamed of making his own wedding dresses and he had so many designs stashed away that were incredible, I just knew that this was something he could do. He's actually in New York right now because some fashion magazine wants to feature his design. He's gonna be discovered," Waylon says dramatically, rolling his eyes a bit. 

"Sounds like you're pretty enthusiastic about it," Lisa replies laughing.

"I mean, I would be if he wasn't two time zones away. All I have is a little kitten to keep me company," Waylon admits, looking over the outside of the dress one more time. "The dress looks fine, I'm not really an expert but there's nothing wrong with it from what I can tell. I would be fine with refunding full price. Do you have a receipt?"

"Didn't think I'd need one," she answers with a sigh.

"That's no problem, I just need your last name and I should be able to pull up it up," Waylon says, walking over to the computer.

"Park."

"Hey, me too," Waylon replies. "Waylon Park."

"Really? I mean, I'm sure it's a pretty common last name. Still, pretty cool," Lisa says.

"We're secret twins," Waylon whispers with a grin. Lisa rolls her eyes and laughs.

"Definitely secret twins. You know, there's something all secret twins do. They hang out. Maybe we could go get coffee sometime or catch a movie," she suggests hopefully.

"Um, you did hear me when I said I have a boyfriend, right? Like," Waylon pauses, looks over his shoulders, leans forwards and whispers, "sometimes we even kiss."

Lisa lets her head fall back as she starts to laugh even harder.

"It'll be a secret twins date," she says grinning. "Here, give me your phone and I'll give you my number and you put yours in mine and then we'll find time to hang out soon. I've really been in need of a friend lately," Lisa admits.

"Yeah, why not? My only friend has been busy interning for a news company and I'll probably go insane without another human to talk to," Waylon says with a smile, offering his phone out to Lisa and taking hers to put his name in.

After Waylon refunds the dress Lisa thanks him and then leaves as a small group of women comes in. As he walks back to the counter after helping them, he feels his phone vibrate in his pocket. It's a text from Lisa to make sure Waylon gave her the right number. 

Testing 1 2, secret twin, do you read me?

Waylon smiles as he texts her back, grateful to have another friend. 

 

Chapter Text

She's the tear in my heart

I'm alive

She's the tear in my heart

I'm on fire

She's the tear in my heart

Take me higher 

Than I've ever been

 

"So how long is Eddie going to be in New York this time?" Lisa asks as she passes one of the pints of ice cream over to Waylon.

"They're thinking closer to a month. They want to launch a whole new line of dresses before Valentines so they can do some sort of promotional event to go along with the new location opening. I don't see it happening with barely two months to finish it all. I just hope he's back in time for Christmas," Waylon explains, adjusting the blanket they have draped across their laps.

With the enormous success of Eddie's feature in the magazine there had become a need for a second shop to open, this time in New York City. Waylon had to hire and train about a dozen people to help out because the shop in Denver was constantly busy and was too much for three people to take on, plus the half a dozen part time workers. Eddie had signed some sort of partnership, Waylon didn't really get much of an explanation, but dresses had started to become produced by a large team in New York, which unfortunately replaced the jobs of the seamstresses. Waylon had let them all switch to management positions to help with the sudden daily commotion.

It was a lot to change in only a few weeks, but luckily Lisa had offered to help, a shoulder for Waylon to scream into at the very least. He took full advantage of it, and Lisa would come over and the two would stay up and rant about anything even the least bit stressful. Their friendship came so naturally, like they had been best friends for years.

"Man, you're handling it pretty well. If I had to go a month at a time without seeing my significant other I might go insane," Lisa admits with a laugh.

"Oh trust me, I'm very much at the insane stage. One of his bow ties had ended up under the bed and when I found it the other day it still faintly smelt like him. I spent maybe twenty minutes just sitting there smelling the bow tie," Waylon replies chuckling.

"Yikes, it's worse than I thought. I think you'd qualify as batshit insane," Lisa jokes, nudging Waylon's arm. He rolls his eyes while cracking a small smile.

"Well I mean obviously I'm crazy, you're my best friend, duh," Waylon teases back, gently pushing her head with his hand. She grabs his hand and bites it, causing Waylon to gasp and jerk his hand back.

"Interesting, you taste like soap," Lisa says casually. Waylon stares back at her in disbelief, eventually cracking up alongside Lisa.

"Oh great, I'm going to turn into a Lisa-zombie. I can already feel the infection starting in my hand, I think a fever's coming on. I can see spots. My heart... it's slowing down... vision getting blurrier... I'm going into the light," Waylon whispers, slowly falling over onto Lisa. She giggles as she pushes him off.

"You're fine, you big baby," Lisa replies, shoving him off.

"And you say you're single? Hmm, can't quite figure out why," Waylon jokes. Lisa's jaw drops in shock.

"Uh, wow, you are, well that's just low. At least I won't be dying of aids anytime soon," Lisa retorts with a smirk.

"Fight me," Waylon snaps, sticking his tongue out in response.

"Yeah right, I'd take you down in two seconds flat, boy," Lisa challenges.

"Well duh, my bones and muscles are still recovering from severe anorexia, I'm still like fifteen pounds from being fully weight restored, according to my nutritionist," Waylon defends.

"Sounds like excuses," Lisa jokes, raising her eyebrows.

"Nah, you're right, I'm too lazy to try to fight you," Waylon replies honestly.

"Definitely lazy," Lisa agrees with a smirk. Waylon reaches over and swats at Lisa's head playfully.

"I'm living off a fat stack of inheritance, obviously I'm gonna be lazy," Waylon teases, leaning back with his hands behind his head for emphasis and yawning dramatically. Lisa snorts and leans back with a sigh. They both end up falling asleep on the couch. 

 

When Lisa leaves in the morning, Waylon can't help but feel overcome with loneliness again. Even after snuggling with Lucy for about half an hour, the apartment was just too empty for Waylon's comfort. Waylon decides he needs a cigarette to calm down. He still has seventeen left in the pack, careful not to make it a serious habit. He just needed one every once in a while to help dull the mild distress he was feeling. 

When he gets back inside from the patio, his phone is going off on the kitchen counter. Waylon practically sprints over, hoping it's Eddie. Fortunately, it is.

"Darling! I'm so glad I got ahold of you. This project is definitely taking way longer than we were hoping for. It's looking like I'm not going to be home in time for Christmas," Eddie explains apologetically. Waylon was expecting it. He knew in the back of his head that logically, Eddie wouldn't have time to fly back to Colorado for Christmas. Still, Waylon can't help but let out a disappointed sigh.

"I kind of expected as much. I don't know, it was going to be our first Christmas together, I just- I know it's just a holiday and that you have really important things going on, but I already miss you like crazy, and it will make the holiday even lonelier," I reply. This will be my first Christmas alone. I mean, his dad wasn't exactly enthusiastic about the holidays, but he did manage to always leave a card with $10 in it on the kitchen table. Not exactly filled with sentiment, but it was something.

"Waylon, you never let me finish. Since I just won't be able to make the time to come back to see you, I was planning on flying you out here. I will be spending a lot of the time busy with work, but there's tons to do and see here anyway, you'll hardly miss me, and I will for sure not be working on Christmas day or New Years Day. I already booked a ticket for you to come down on the 20th, and fly back on the 5th. I'll go ahead and email you the link to the ticket, you just need to print it out. I'm sure Miles wouldn't mind staying at the apartment for two weeks to keep an eye on Lucy, and we definitely have enough people working at the shop to cover the shift's you'll miss," Eddie practically begs. Waylon can't help but smile to himself. 

"Okay, I guess I'll be seeing you on the 20th. I love you Eddie, and I miss you like crazy," Waylon accepts, his grin growing bigger.

"I love you too, Darling. I miss you incredibly, I can't wait to hold you in my arms once more. The bed is too cold without my little space heater," Eddie admits with a chuckle.

"There's no way I was a space heater to you, I wake up every morning shivering. You're practically my sole heat source," Waylon counters, shivering a little just thinking about the giant bed with empty and cold sheets.

"I guess we're just symbiotic, we both benefit each other," Eddie jokes. Waylon hears someone's voice on the other end, and Eddie says to the voice, "Tell Andy I'll just be another minute and then we can continue on with designs. Sorry," Eddie adds, talking to Waylon again.

"If we're symbiotic, that explains why it feels like I'm dying without you," Waylon replies, only half joking. He hears Eddie chuckle. "Anyway, I don't want to get you in trouble with whoever Andy is. I love you, and I seriously can't wait to see you."

"I love you too. Don't worry, in just four short weeks, we'll be back together, even if only for two weeks. Goodbye, Darling."

Waylon says goodbye as well before hanging up with a sigh. He then shoots Miles a text asking him if he's available to catsit. Fortunately, Miles is. 

 

The night before Waylon's flight, Miles comes over to spend the night and hang out around Lucy for a bit so she doesn't totally freak out once Waylon leaves. 

"Hey, what's up Waylon?" Miles greets as he steps inside. Lucy immediately walks over to Miles and starts sniffing him. She even pokes her head inside one of Miles shoes as he pulls them off.

"Not much, kinda nervous. This will be my first time flying alone. Actually, this will be my first time flying period. I've been googling what to expect at the airport. Not even gonna lie, it makes me feel a little silly. I even called the airline I'm flying with asking them what to expect. Damn my anxiety, tomorrow is going to be hell, especially because the flight is so early," Waylon admits, rubbing his hand on the back of his neck. Just talking about his anxiety makes him feel anxious.

"Relax, airports aren't a big deal as long as no one decides to bomb it or shoot it up," Miles jokes as he follows Waylon to the couch.

"Wow, that really makes me feel a lot better," Waylon replies rolling his eyes. "Do people even shoot up airports that often?" 

"Google it. I'm sure the NSA won't start monitoring your searches after that. Especially if you search 'where to purchase illegal weapons' for good measure," Miles jokes. Waylon snorts.

"Yeah, I'll google 'how to make a bomb' while I'm at it. Really gotta go all out. Nothing screams holiday spirit like threatening google searches."

"Threatening google searches? Is that even possible," Miles questions, propping his feet up on the coffee table. Waylon just laughs and sits next to Miles, grabbing the tv remote and flipping through a few channels before settling on Forensic Files.

 

Waylon is startled by his phone alarm going off. He groans, reaching for his phone to turn the alarm off. It's 3:00am. Waylon wants to go back to sleep, despite being on the couch and being right next to a very loudly snoring Miles. After a moment he forces himself up off the couch to go get in the shower. He's out at 3:10, his shower a few minutes quicker than normal as his anxiety slowly starts to spike. 

He makes himself some coffee, which isn't very useful against the four hours of sleep he's gotten. He cleans out Lucy's litter box, tops off the litter, fully cleans out her water and food bowls and then fills them both up completely to make the first couple of days easier for Miles, and he's out the door by 3:25.

When he gets to the paid parking, his eyes are starting to droop and he's thankful that he'll no longer have to be driving. After a few minutes of finding an open spot, he parks the car, gets out and is greeted by one of the shuttle bus drivers who enthusiastically takes Waylon's suitcase. It's already ready to go on the bus by the time Waylon finishes groggily pulling his backpack from the passenger seat and putting it on. 

As soon as Waylon is sitting on the bus, he lets his eyes close. Although he doesn't actually fall asleep, by the time they get to the airport, Waylon doesn't feel quite so foggy. 

After a few mix ups checking in and checking in his suitcase, and after a long walk through the massive Denver International Airport, Waylon practically cries tears of joy when his exhausted body is sitting in his seat with his backpack tucked underneath. He sends Eddie a quick text before putting his phone into airplane mode and letting himself doze off.

Airports fucking suck, I never want to do this again. At least the flight back isn't at a ridiculous hour. Also I love you and can't wait to see you, I'll text you when the plane lands.

 

 

Waylon has to do a double take when he sees Eddie standing at the baggage carousel. Not wanting to cause a scene, Waylon calmly walks up to Eddie while his heart races in his chest, grinning from ear to ear like a big dork. Eddie matches Waylon's smile, and the second Waylon is within arms length, Eddie snatches him up and pulls him into a kiss. Waylon feels like such a cliche, grabbing Eddie's face and wrapping his legs around Eddie's waist as they kiss, but he couldn't care less. A few people clear their throats and Waylon is sure they're getting some looks, if not glares, but it doesn't matter to Waylon. He doesn't even notice that he's started crying until Eddie sets him back down carefully and uses his thumb to wipe Waylon's face.

"God I'm so happy to see you," Waylon mumbles as he pulls Eddie back into a hug, letting himself continue to cry tears of joy onto Eddie's shoulder. Eddie squeezes him tightly.

"I'm sorry it's been so long, I've missed holding you like this."

After a few more moments of hugging, they finally pull apart. Waylon's tears have subsided for the most part, but he can't stop himself from grinning like a fool. They make a bit of small talk while they wait for the luggage to be loaded onto the baggage carousel. When Waylon's bag comes out of the carousel, Eddie grabs it quickly and the two make their way out to the semi-crowded loading area outside. Waylon is a bit surprised by the amount of snow, what with Colorado having such little snow this year. Waylon shivers a bit, wishing he's brought a thicker sweater. There are several busses going to car rentals and hotels, as well as a few taxis. Eddie gestures to one of the busses.

"That one goes to the hotel I'm staying at. Andy agreed to let me have the rest of the day off since we have been working since around seven. I will be busy all of tomorrow though. But there's someone interning for Andy who hasn't been as useful to the project so he can show you around the city tomorrow, keep you entertained and fed and whatnot," Eddie starts to explain as they walk towards the bus. 

"You make it sound like I'm a pet who needs to be watched," Waylon replies with a laugh. 

"I didn't mean it like that. I just don't want you to get overwhelmed or anything like that. I love you," Eddie says as they step onto the bus. 

"I know, I love you, too." Waylon responds as they sit down at the back of the bus. Waylon can't help but let his head fall over onto Eddie's shoulder and start to nod off, now feeling exhausted from being hungry as well. He doesn't remember most of the drive to the hotel, and it feels like almost as quickly as he closed his eyes, he's opening them again as Eddie nudges him. When they get into the lobby of the hotel, Waylon is a little bit in awe.

"It's so... grand," Waylon comments as he looks around, taking it in. The front room has several couches and two mounted tv's on either side as well as a small little lounge type of area where there's a tea and coffee bar. The front room opens up to a much larger reception area. A tall chandelier hangs in the center of the room, a long counter along the far end of the wall. To the left is a large dining room with glass doors revealing tables set up and ready for the next meal they'll serve. To the right are two parallel flights of stairs, both going straight and then turning in opposite directions, and between the staircases are two elevators. 

"It is quite grand, isn't it. I'm sure you'll love our suite even better," Eddie chuckles, turning to walk to the elevators. Waylon almost misses Eddie turning, still staring around at the room in amazement. He keeps walking forward a few steps before realizing he's no longer by Eddie's side. He quickly turns and catches up to Eddie, turning a bit red in embarrassment. 

The elevator is just as nice, shiny marble with lots of black mix in on the floor and recently polished, metallic walls with a bronze tint. When they get up to the thirteenth floor and to the suite, Waylon is in shock for the second time. The door immediately opens into a large living room with a white couch and matching coffee table. On the opposite wall is a large tv on a tan colored entertainment center. Large white curtains have been loosely pulled back to reveal a decent view of the city. 

"Whoa," Waylon says as he walks up to the window, practically pressing his nose against the glass. Eddie can't help but admire Waylon as a soft grin spreads across his face while his eyes soak up everything to see about the city. The glass is chilled due to the icy air outside, causing Waylon's breath to slowly create a circle of fog on the window. He stands there for a moment or two and then Eddie comes up behind Waylon, placing his hands gently on Waylon's waist, kissing the younger man on the neck. Waylon smiles as he turns his head to face Eddie, who kisses him softly. 

"I've missed this," Waylon admits, turning to face Eddie fully and wrapping his arms around Eddie's torso. Eddie slowly works his hand up Waylon's back and neck, running his hand through Waylon's hair. Waylon hugs Eddie a little tighter, pushing his hips against Eddie's ever so slightly. Eddie responds by kissing Waylon's cheek and then jaw and then takes his time to kiss Waylon's neck. Almost immediately Waylon moans quietly in response, pushing his hips into Eddie's once again, feeling himself start to grow hard. 

"Can I touch you, Darling?" Eddie asks, pulling away to look at Waylon. Waylon doesn't even remember closing his eyes or letting his head tilt back against the window, opening his eyes to look back at Eddie in a bit of a daze.

"Yes, please," Waylon answers with the desperation practically pouring from his voice, his hips pushing into Eddie's once more. Eddie resumes kissing Waylon as he brings his hand down to the front of Waylon's pants, gliding his finger tips almost torturously against the bulge that has grown in Waylon's jeans. Waylon groans and pushes his hips out, desperate for Eddie's touch. Eddie decides not to tease Waylon too much, bringing both his hands down to unbutton Waylon's jeans. He slowly puts his hand down Waylon's pants, carefully massaging as Waylon's erection grows further. 

Waylon can no longer concentrate on kissing Eddie, panting as he lets his head fall back again. As Eddie starts to slide his hand along Waylon's length, Waylon gasps, moving his arms so that he's now tightly grabbing Eddie's shoulders. Eddie starts to carefully nip at Waylon's neck, also pumping his hand back and forth faster. Waylon responds by digging his nails into Eddie's shoulders, moaning loudly. He feels himself already starting to climax, but he can't bring himself to say anything or try to hold out a little longer. All too soon he's practically shouting as he comes.

Waylon's legs start to feel a little wobbly, his balance wavering as he tries to catch his breath. Eddie grabs Waylon's thighs, lifting him up and carrying him to the bedroom, playfully tossing Waylon back onto the bed. 

"God, I've really missed this," Waylon admits again, laughing. 

"You have no idea, Darling," Eddie replies with a grin, slowly crawling up the bed to kiss Waylon. Waylon pulls his pants the rest of the way down, tossing them to the side and then pushing Eddie over and getting on top. He fumbles a bit with the zipper and button of Eddie's pants, eventually getting them undone and then tugging them down and off. He adjusts himself and then reaches down between the two of them so that he slowly slides himself down onto Eddie. Both men groan immediately in response. Waylon slowly lifts himself up and then drops himself back down, gasping as he feels Eddie fill him up. 

Waylon continues, slowly working up speed. Eddie reaches up to Waylon's waist to help Waylon move himself up and down and to quicken the pace. Waylon can't help but grin as he looks down to Eddie, who seems to be much less composed than he normally is, moaning and panting and pushing his head back into the pillow. Waylon let's himself lean forward onto Eddie so that the two can resume kissing. Waylon seems to be doing most of the kissing, Eddie is too caught up and flustered to have much of a response besides his continual groaning. 

As Waylon and Eddie continue, Waylon starts to feel a familiar build up of pleasure starting deep in his groin. 

"Eddie, I'm-I'm gonna come," Waylon whimpers as the sensation continues to grow. Eddie responds by thrusting his hips hard against Waylon, going deeper inside at a faster pace. Waylon hardly manages a small squeak at the sudden increase in stimulation, his mouth falling open into an 'o' shape as he finishes for the second time. After a moment Eddie starts to tense up, groaning louder than he has before, shoving himself deep into Waylon as he comes. After a moment, Waylon lifts himself off of Eddie, moving to lay next to him, his head resting on the older man's chest.

"Wow, you really, normally we, I just, wow you really let yourself let get into it that time. I've never seen you let yourself lose control and composure like that during sex," Waylon says as they lay there. Eddie wraps his arms around Waylon, pulling him closer.

"It's so much work trying to remain in control during sex like I normally do, it felt so nice to just forget myself. Especially with how much pressure I'm under with this project, it felt so much better to give in," Eddie admits. 

"I'm sorry work is so stressful for you. You think you're going to get it done in time?" Waylon asks, looking up at Eddie. 

"Yeah, I know we'll get it done in time, it's just going to be extremely difficult to meet the deadline," Eddie replies with a sigh. They lie there for a while longer until Waylon's stomach growls, reminding Waylon that he hasn't eaten all day.

"You think maybe we could get something to eat? I'm starving," Waylon says as he sits up and stretches a bit.

"Yeah, there's this cafe just across the street, if you're still in a breakfast mood," Eddie offers. Waylon nods, stretching once more, his back popping several times. After they both get dressed they head back down to the cafe lobby where once again Waylon is overwhelmed by it all. The sidewalk isn't as crowded as Waylon had anticipated when Eddie had described it over the phone, but it definitely isn't spacious. Waylon comes close to elbowing a few people as they make their way down the sidewalk and across the crosswalk. The cafe Eddie takes Waylon to isn't much different from the cafes they had gone to in Denver, except that it's slightly bigger and much more crowded.

Waylon gets a breakfast sandwich and an iced coffee despite still feeling cold from the weather, while Eddie goes for a blueberry muffin and a regular cup of black coffee. When their food is ready they take it to the bar along the window. Waylon gets so preoccupied with watching all the constant flow of people passing in front of the cafe that he doesn't realize Eddie has said something to him.

Darling," Eddie repeats, nudging Waylon's arm gently.

"Huh? Sorry, I guess I got distracted," Waylon replies, taking a sip of his coffee and turning to face Eddie. Eddie smiles and shakes his head slightly at Waylon.

"I asked how things have been back in Denver." 

"Work is still pretty boring, even with tons more customers than we were getting before. Maybe just cause I don't have you to talk to and joke with right now. Although Lisa does stop in pretty often during my lunch breaks and I have her to hang out with in the afternoons and evenings which has kept me from going insane with boredom," Waylon answers.

"Lisa?"

"Oh, I thought I told you about her. She came in to return a wedding dress she never wore and we just kinda hit it off. We've been really great friends ever since," he explains.

"Hmm, you say you're friends?" Eddie questions with a hint of doubt in his voice. Waylon can't help but smirk.

"What, are you jealous or something? Lisa's a she Eddie, and as much as I love her, I'm not in love with her. There's someone else out there that I'm madly in love with," Waylon answers. Eddie tenses up for a moment at Waylon's last sentence before relaxing, as if he hadn't realized Waylon had just indirectly proclaimed his love for the older man. Waylon tries not to laugh as he reaches over and squeezes Eddie's hand.

"I can't believe you're getting jealous over me hanging out with a girl." Waylon looks around for a moment and then lowers his voice and continues. "Eddie, you've stuck it up my ass for my pleasure way too many times for you to seriously be jealous over Lisa. It's kinda sexy though. I've never seen this side of you." Waylon winks at Eddie who starts to turn bright red.

"I can't help it, Darling. You're spending all that time with her while I'm stuck hundreds of miles away from you. I can't wait until things finally settle down and we can spend time together again. It's going to be so nice sharing a bed with you again." 

Waylon leans over and gives Eddie a brief kiss on the cheek and then the two finish their breakfast. 

 

After breakfast, Eddie offers for the two of them to go to Central Park, as it's only a few blocks away. They walk with their arms linked, neither of them wanting any of the time they're together to go to waste. Waylon is also thankful for the bit of warmth that Eddie offers. When Central Park comes into view Waylon can't help but 'ooh' a little bit. The trees all have a blanket of snow draped over them, creating a sort of canopy under the trees. As they walk, the sun starts to peak from behind the clouds, helping Waylon to warm up a bit. He can't figure out why he's feeling so much colder than he probably should, given that the sun is shining, there's not a breeze, and that there's no snow currently falling from the sky. 

When they get to the bridge over the lake, Waylon is astounded by how beautiful it is. The snow dusts over the ice and the bridge, although several patches of snow have been knocked off the railing of the bridge. The unevenness bothers Waylon slightly, everything else looks so much more pristine and untouched, despite the decent amount of people in the park. When they get to the center of the bridge, the two of them stand there together, looking over the frozen lake. Waylon is admiring the sparkles of the sunlight bouncing off of the snow when he becomes aware of the conversation behind him. There's a couple behind them, they seem to be young, just a few years older than Waylon and Eddie. 

"I love you so much. You're my everything. You've been there regardless of if I was doing well or not. Not once have you left me side or betrayed me. I know in my heart that you are the one I want to spend the rest of my life with." The man gets down onto one knee and fumbles a bit with something in his pocket. Waylon can't help but smile in amazement. He leans over closer to Eddie.

"Holy shit, we're actually witnessing a proposal," Waylon whispers excitedly.

The 'Will you marry me' comes as usual, and the girl that the man is proposing to excitedly nods her head yes. The two start to share a kiss, which is when Eddie and Waylon decide to continue their way on the bridge.

"Do you ever want to get married?" Waylon asks, not really having considered marriage too seriously before. 

"Yes, that's always been one of my goals in life. When the time is right," Eddie replies vaguely. Waylon takes in what he's just heard and can't help but overanalyze it.

"When the time is right". What if he doesn't want to give something away? What if he's already been working on plans for a proposal? Waylon, chill, stop getting ahead of yourself. He could also be being vague to let you down gently, maybe he wants to hold off on marriage for a while. And why do you care all of the sudden? You didn't give a damn about getting married until just a moment ago. 

Waylon ends up sighing without realizing it.

"Yeah, I guess that's fair," Waylon replies, mentally telling himself to shut up and stop thinking so much about it. 

"It'll happen whenever it happens," Eddie says, as if trying to reassure Waylon.

What does that even mean? 'It'll happen when it happens'? One of us has to make an actual effort for a proposal in order for it to happen. Does he want me to propose to him? Is he just gonna wait it out and indirectly make me propose instead? I don't want to be the one who proposes, I don't think I'd have the confidence necessary in a million years. I want Eddie to propose. Maybe not right now. Definitely not right now, we just have too much going on to worry about that, but I don't want to be the one who proposes. Dammit Waylon, stop over thinking this. Why does seeing someone else get proposed to suddenly have you so shaken up? You're 18. Chill.

Waylon continues to scold himself, feeling honestly a bit embarrassed by how quickly he starts to overanalyze a rather insignificant conversation. At least Eddie can't hear Waylon's thoughts. Waylon would rather walk on hot coals than have Eddie hear even half of the constant chaos spinning in Waylon's head. Waylon can't help but crave a cigarette. That would definitely help take the edge off of the slight emotional distress he's suddenly brought upon himself. 

When they get back to the hotel, Waylon already feels exhausted and even a bit desperate for a nap. 

"Wanna just go and sleep?" Waylon offers as he and Eddie walk towards the elevator. "I'm exhausted and I miss laying with you." 

"That sounds lovely" Eddie agrees. 

When they get back to the hotel, Waylon strips down to his boxers, wanting to feel as much of Eddie against him as possible.

"Darling, I don't mean to be rude or make you feel self conscious, but it looks like maybe you've lost a few pounds. Have you been eating alright?" Eddie questions, his face full of concern. Waylon looks down at himself. His stomach looks a teeny bit more concave maybe? His face is a little thinner or maybe his collar bones poke out more? Could his arms possibly be a little thinner?

"I don't really pay attention to my weight but it honestly could have gone down a little bit. I've kinda stopped focusing as much on eating. I don't know, the stress of being alone maybe. I honestly don't feel any different and I haven't really noticed my clothes fitting any different, so if I have lost weight, it's not enough to be significant," Waylon answers, pulling back the blankets of the bed and crawling in. Eddie strips down as well and gets beside Waylon, pulling the younger man into his arms. 

"Darling, you're still recovering from an eating disorder. It doesn't happen in months, it happens in years. You have to be diligent with it," Eddie lectures. Waylon sighs. Eddie's right, and that kind of irritates Waylon. Sometimes Eddie always being right gets exhausting.

"And relapses are bound to happen, too. It doesn't mean I'm anorexic again, it just means that I had a slip up that I can grow upon." Waylon tries not to let himself feel irritated. He tries to remind himself that Eddie cares, but sometimes it just feels better to be angry.

"Do you feel like you're relapsing? Maybe you should give outpatient therapy a chance again. I know you still see the nutritionist, but therapy is just as important, and you only gave it a few sessions before you gave up on it," Eddie suggests. Waylon rolls his eyes, glad that Eddie can't see Waylon's face.

"I didn't give up in therapy, it just wasn't doing anything for me. I'm eating and I keep gaining weight at a healthy pace, and I'm almost fully weight restored. Like I can't still be anorexic if I'm eating and gaining weight," Waylon replies with an edge of irritation in his voice, wishing Eddie would just drop it.

"Just because the scars on my face have healed and just because I don't harm myself anymore doesn't mean I'm cured. I still have days where I wish I could start cutting into my own arm. The thoughts can be just as dangerous as the actions, and if you're having anorexic thoughts, you need to see someone about them." 

"I'm not having anorexic thoughts!" Waylon retorts, not meaning to raise his voice. He sighs once again. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to shout, it's just that just because I haven't focused on eating doesn't mean I'm focusing on not eating, y'know? Could we just drop it? I just want to enjoy being in your arms."

"Okay, I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to push you," Eddie apologizes, squeezing Waylon tighter and kissing him on top of his head. Waylon smiles and let's his eyes close, slowly drifting asleep. 

 

On Christmas Eve Eddie goes into work early so that he's done and back to the hotel at around six. They decide to go skating at one of the outdoor rinks, one of the few still open on Christmas Eve. Waylon had reluctantly agreed after Eddie repeatedly reassured him it'd be fun but seeing all those people out there with nothing but two thin slices of metal holding them up was intimidating considering he'd never gone skating before. It was starting to get dark, the lights on the rink seeming to make it look even more slick. After they get their skates they walk over to one of the open benches. Waylon shivers as he sits down, once again regretting not packing a heavy enough coat.

Eddie has to help Waylon get the laces tight enough as well as help him back up onto his feet and adjust to the new center of balance. He then leads Waylon onto the rink. 

"I'll pull you into the middle so we're not in the way of anyone else and then I'm gonna let go, okay Darling?" Eddie reassures. Waylon hunches over slightly, wobbling and squeezing Eddie's hands tighter. 

"Eddie I'm gonna fall on my face," Waylon says with a nervous laugh.

"Trust me, Waylon," Eddie replies, looking back as he slowly skates backwards, pulling them to the middle of the rink. The whole time Waylon keeps insisting he's going to fall over or get hurt. 

"Okay, stand up straight, you're definitely going to fall over if you stay leaned over like that," Eddie instructs. Waylon slowly stands up straight, making a sort of squeaking noise as he starts to fall backwards. Eddie's grip on Waylon's hands remains firm and he pulls back slightly, keeping Waylon upright. Once Waylon has his balance again, Eddie lets go. 

"See, you're fine. Now try pushing one foot forward, and then bring the other one forward and slide that one in front. But do it slowly." 

Waylon does as he's told, holding his arms out and waving them back and forth as he slides one skate forward and then the next just like Eddie told him too. Eddie skate's backwards so that he stays just out of Waylon's reach until they get to the other end of the rink. 

"I did it," Waylon says excitedly, grabbing onto the wall for support. Eddie can't help but grin as Waylon says it, thinking to himself about how beautiful it is when Waylon smiles. 

Eddie let's Waylon have a moment to relax his muscles and then they go across the rink again. Waylon's movements become more fluid and after a few more times going back and forth, Waylon has it down and starts to pick up his speed. The two start to go in laps, and Waylon can't help but get a little competitive. He looks over to Eddie and grins before skating as fast as he can. Eddie just throws his head back and laughs, easily catching up to Waylon. He even switches to skating backwards for a moment before turning back around and speeding off. Waylon tries to go faster, deciding to turn and cut across the rink to catch back up. As he goes across the center of the rink the grip on the front of the blade catches and sends Waylon flying onto the ground. 

He barely puts his hands up in time to break his fall. His palms smack against the ice hard, but most of the impact is absorbed by his wrists. Waylon stays there on his stomach for a moment and almost immediately hears Eddie's voice.

"Waylon, are you all right?" Eddie asks frantically. Waylon rolls over onto his back and just starts laughing. Eddie looks at him in disbelief for a moment, but as Waylon's laughs turn into witch cackles Eddie starts to laugh with him.

"Eddie - Eddie I fell - so damn hard," Waylon says in between laughs, closing his eyes as he continues to fall into hysterics. 

"You totally fucking wiped out," Eddie replies. Waylon's eyes open and his head snaps up in disbelief, shocked to hear Eddie curse. It only lasts for a moment though and soon Waylon's abdomen is convulsing again as he laughs even harder. He even starts to cry. It takes a minute or two but finally the two of them have controlled themselves to a chuckle. Waylon holds his hand out.

"Here, help me up," Waylon says. As Eddie starts to pull Waylon up his skate slides forward and suddenly the two both go down, and the fit of laughter picks back up.

"They probably think we're both insane." Waylon gestures to the many looks they're getting.

"Well I'm sure we're causing quite a scene," Eddie points out. 

"My back is starting to get really cold, we should get up for real this time," Waylon says, chuckling a bit as the memory of the two falling down replays in his head. They both get onto their knees, Eddie getting up without much of a problem. Waylon is a little shaky, but Eddie remains upright this time as he helps Waylon stand all the way up. 

"Holy crap, my abs are so sore. I can't think of a time in my life where I've ever laughed that hard," Waylon admits as they make their way off the rink. "My feet hurt too, and I'm pretty sure my pinky toe has gone numb on my right foot."

"My feet are starting to ache as well. We are definitely taking an Uber back to the hotel," Eddie replies as they sit at one of the benches and take their skates off. 

"How come we're not taking a regular taxi?" Waylon asks out of curiosity. 

"I don't trust them. When I was younger, my parents took us to Chicago for a vacation with one of her friend's family. We had to take separate taxis and my dad realized he had left his wallet at home, my mom didn't have any cash on her either. They called their friends and they said they could cover the taxi fare. It all would have worked out perfectly except their taxi got stuck at a red light so once we got to our destination we had to wait for them for a few minutes. The driver started to get impatient and eventually he just drove off, running my mom's foot over in the process," Eddie explains as they take their skates off.

"Jeez, that must have been traumatic. I have no problem with Uber, don't want my precious feet getting run over," Waylon says, cringing at the thought of it. 

"Yeah it was pretty horrible. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the er. Her foot turned out to be fine, fortunately, just a little bruised. Here, hand me your skates and I'll go get our shoes."

After Waylon gets his shoes back on and stands up he takes a few awkward steps. His feet feel so weird, but also super relieved to be out of the skates. 

"So what are you in the mood for for dinner?" Eddie questions as they move away from the ice rink. 

"Honestly a burger sounds really good. Like a really greasy burger that just tastes like it's bad for you. You take that first bite and you're like 'yep, one of my arteries definitely just clogged up'. Not in the mood for something that was made to taste proper or whatever," Waylon explains, his mouth watering a bit. 

Eddie chuckles as he gets his phone out, finding a diner nearby. Even though it's only a block and a half away, their tired feet both protest the walk. Waylon breathes an audible sigh of relief as they get to the diner and are seated at a booth.

"Man, that was so much more exhausting than I thought it would be. It doesn't help that my palms both still have a noticeable sting to them. Can't really stretch my wrists out too much either," Waylon complains, wincing as he tries to slowly work his wrists in circles in the hopes that it'll help relieve some of the soreness. 

 

When they get back to their hotel room, Waylon undresses as quickly as he can, his eyes already starting to droop. Not only is a food coma setting in, but Waylon can't think of the last time he exercised his body like that. Ice skating had taken a serious toll on his body. All his muscles ache, his feet in particular which feel like they've started to pulsate. It takes Eddie a bit longer to get into bed next to Waylon, and the second he slides under the covers Waylon curls up on Eddie's chest, smiling as Eddie wraps his arms tightly around Waylon. 

Eddie kisses Waylon on the top of his head and closes his eyes, leaning back into the pillows. He runs one of his hands gently across Waylon's back, and it only takes a few minutes for the younger man to start letting out quiet little snores. Eddie smiles to himself as he looks down at Waylon. 

"When you first got here, you talked about getting married," Eddie says quietly to test if Waylon is truly asleep. Waylon doesn't stir at all, his snoring keeping it's rhythm. 

"Please don't wake up," Eddie pleads as he carefully leans over and grabs his phone from the nightstand. He opens the camera and starts recording a video, holding the phone out so that he records both him and Waylon.

"Darling, it's our first Christmas Eve together and I'm madly in love with you. Will you marry me?" 

He then moves the video into a file, where several identical video clips are. 

Chapter Text

Won't you stay alive

I'll take you on a ride

I will make you believe you are lovely

 

On Christmas Day Waylon wakes up to see a teeny fake Christmas tree with multicolored lights sitting in the middle of the hotel room floor. There are a few presents underneath it. Waylon can't help but smile, and then his eyes start to tear up because it's been so many years since he's had any sort of tree for Christmas. He can hear Eddie in the shower, and makes his way into the bathroom, grateful for how warm with steam the room is. 

"I like the tree," Waylon says as he closes the bathroom door behind him. The glass of the shower wall is frosted so that all you can see are faint shadows from inside the shower. 

"I went and got it earlier this morning, I figured a bit of festivity wouldn't hurt. How are you this morning, Darling?" Eddie asks.

"Tired." As if in response he lets out a yawn. Waylon starts to strip down, opening the door to the shower as he says "and kinda cold."

Eddie smiles as Waylon steps in the shower beside him, sighing as he steps into the stream of water. The heat of the shower starts to make Waylon feel a little drowsy and he leans forward, letting his head rest against Eddie's chest. Eddie chuckles and pulls Waylon into a hug. 

"God, how did I get so lucky?" Waylon questions as he closes his eyes and wraps his arms around Eddie's waist. Most of the shower is spent with the two like this, with Waylon even starting to nod off a few times. Eddie just thinks to himself over and over again about how insanely in love he is. He's been thinking more and more about proposing. He has more than enough pictures and videos of him proposing but he just doesn't quite know how he wants to put it all together. It needs to be special and original, not a cliche proposal like everyone else does. And trying to think of something original was driving Eddie crazy.

 

When they're both showered and dressed, Waylon gets two gift bags from out of his backpack and hands one to Eddie.

"Before you open it, I know it's kind of a silly present, but it's one of the only Christmas traditions I had as a kid, and I think it would be a fun one for us to continue on our own," Waylon says with a smile as he thinks back to some of his earliest memories of Christmas. When he was four he woke up on Christmas morning and ran down the stairs as fast as his legs would take him, eagerly looking for signs of "Santa". And sure enough, there were presents sitting under the tree where there had not been the night before. Upon seeing it, Waylon had stomped back upstairs, bursting into his parents' room and happily jumping on the bed to wake them up. Once they were awake his mom had him open a particular present, a pair of footie pajamas. She also had a matching pair for herself and his dad, and the three of them wore the matching pajamas for all of Christmas day.

And so to continue the tradition, Waylon waits excitedly as Eddie pulls the layer of tissue paper out from the bag and grabs the pair of footie pajamas waiting inside. They're light baby blue with polar bears and snowflakes on them. 

"The whole point is to kinda look dorky, but that was sort of the best part, especially when I was younger. I want our own family to have that feeling," Waylon explains as he grabs his own pair from the other gift bag. 

"Our own family?" Eddie repeats, his voice cracking on the word family. He tries to subtly turn his head away as his eyes tear up a bit. If Waylon picks up on it, he doesn't say anything.

"Well, y'know, whenever that does happen, I mean, y'know, if we do ever" Waylon starts to stammer, thinking Eddie has a problem with what he said. Eddie responds by cupping Waylon's face and kissing him over and over again, partly because his heart is soaring at the sound of Waylon wanting to start a family with Eddie, whenever that might be, and partly to keep himself from getting down on one knee right now and proposing. It's a great moment to propose, almost perfect, but it just isn't quite right, and proposing on Christmas is one of the biggest cliches out there, right next to proposing on Valentines' Day. And Eddie doesn't want to be a cliche, especially not for Waylon.

So he just kisses Waylon over and over again until they're both breathless. 

"When that does happen, not if," Eddie reassures, kissing Waylon on the cheek a little more chastely. 

After they've both changed into their pajamas, Eddie gives Waylon's the gifts under the tree. Two of them are little souvenirs that Eddie thought Waylon might like, and the other is a key.

"I bought an apartment. I want you to move down here, not right away, but in a few months, when new location opens. That way you have time to get things sorted out at the shop and pack up things at our place. We can start a life here. It's a great place to live and being without you is killing me," Eddie explains, grabbing one of Waylon's hands and squeezing it gently. 

"Of course I'll move down here. I hate being apart from you," Waylon accepts, smiling at Eddie. He leans over and hugs Eddie tightly. 

 

For New Year's Eve Eddie made plans to take Waylon to the movie's. A new romantic comedy came out a few weeks ago that Waylon embarrassedly admitted that he wanted to see. When they get into the movie theater Eddie chooses seats in the front. While Waylon settles into his seat Eddie says that he's going to run to the bathroom before the previews end. Waylon takes a few bites of popcorn as the previews start. When the first one ends and the next one starts, Waylon's stomach drops. It's Eddie, using a phone to take a video. He's inside the Darling Designs shop. 

"Waylon, you just made my dreams come true. And I just realized, I want to marry you," Eddie pauses to take a small box out of his pocket. He opens it slowly. "Will you marry me?" 

Waylon claps his hand over his mouth and feels tears start to fall from his eyes.

"No way," he whispers, turning around to look for Eddie. He doesn't see him and turns back to the screen. A new video is playing. Waylon is asleep on the bed at the apartment. Eddie asks the same question quietly and pulls out the ring. Some moments he doesn't recognize but some he does. When they were at the airport hugging Eddie had managed to pull out the ring and take a video of himself mouth the words will you marry me.

There's one when Waylon was staring out the window at the coffee shop. Once again Eddie was mouthing the words 'will you marry me."

 

"Darling it's our first Christmas Eve together and I'm madly in love with you. Will you marry me?" 

 

The video ends and the screen goes black. Waylon hears a few voices muttering behind him and turns around to see Eddie walking up to him. Waylon realizes that he's practically sobbing at this point. Waylon stands up as Eddie approaches him.

"I didn't want to make a huge gesture like this, hell I didn't even know if I wanted to propose so soon to you, but I'm crazy about you," Eddie states, getting down on one knee and reaching into his pocket to pull out the ring box.

Waylon covers his face and looks away, smiling like crazy.

"I hate you," Waylon replies, laughing a bit. Eddie grins.

"Waylon I am so crazy about you. Absolutely, completely and insanely in love with you. You've made my life perfect. More than perfect. I don't even want to imagine what it would be like without you. I was waiting for the right moment, the perfect moment, but the truth is that every second with you feels right and every singly moment with you is perfect and I just couldn't wait anymore to ask you; will you marry me, Waylon?" Eddie asks, opening the ring box. 

"Of course I will," Waylon answers, wiping at his eyes a bit. Eddie puts the ring on Waylon's finger and stands up, grabbing his face softly and kissing him. The other people in the theater clap and Waylon can't help but blush. When the kiss is over Eddie and Waylon both sit down, holding hands and locking their fingers together.

"I love you," Waylon whispers, resting his head on Eddie's shoulder. 

"I love you too, Waylon," Eddie replies, kissing the top of Waylon's head. 

"How did you do this?" he questions, looking up at Eddie.

"It took a little bit of money and some convincing, maybe a little begging," Eddie laughs. "But it was more than worth it."

 

When the movie is over Eddie takes Waylon to a New Year's party that some of the people Eddie works with threw. It's on the roof of the building Eddie works at. Waylon feels completely out of place here as Eddie makes easy conversation. He just stands next to Eddie awkwardly, smiling and nodding when appropriate. Eddie introduces Waylon to Andy, his boss.

"Andy, this is Waylon, my fiance," he introduces. Waylon smiles a little at the reminder that he and Eddie are engaged. 

"Hello, Waylon. Nice to meet you. Eddie has told me so much about you," Andy replies, shaking Waylon's hand.

"Nice to meet you as well," Waylon says, struggling to keep his anxiety in check. Eddie picks up on it and protectively puts his arm around Waylon's waist. That makes him feel a little more secure. 

A few minutes after Waylon has been properly introduced with most of the people there, Eddie brings him over to the open bar to get them some drinks. No one bats an eye at Waylon's age. Eddie gets the two of them a simple glass of champagne as a celebration to their engagement and as the ball starts to drop they share a kiss, leading to the perfect start of a new year.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

It's taking a toll


On my soul


I'm screaming submission and,


I don't know if I am dying or living

 

It's been two and a half months since Waylon permanently moved to New York. It was hard to say goodbye to Lisa and Miles but they made an effort to stay in touch and Waylon was calling to talk to them three or four times a week. It was nice because recently, New York was starting to become a hell. More specifically, Eddie was becoming Waylon's hell. Maybe that was a touch of an exaggeration. But only slightly so. Eddie had picked up a few habits, most were harmless little quirks that came with living in a new place, but it was a particularly nasty habit that was making Waylon slowly start to dread each day.

Drinking. Eddie had started to become a regular drinker at the end of January, just before the location in New York opened. And initially Waylon had tried to be understanding. Eddie's job was stressful, especially when the dresses were no longer being made in the US. It wasn't a decision Eddie had liked, but he was so new to the fashion world and so he gave in. But it only took a little bit of research to find out that having his dresses produced from locations outside the US was actually killing people. Young girls and mothers working in factories with abhorrent conditions. Dying from unsafe work environments and making a pathetic wage compared to how much work they were doing. Everyday was torture for Eddie, but he'd put everything he had into this job and he couldn't back down or walk away from it now.

So Waylon had tried to be understanding. He tried to cut Eddie some slack. But it was hard when Eddie would come home slurring his speech and staggering through the apartment. All Waylon could think about was his dad stumbling through the house, muttering slurred curse words under his breath. If Eddie made movements that were too sudden, Waylon jumped three feet into the air. If Eddie was feeling frustrated from a particularly bad day at work Waylon's throat would go dry and his hands would get clammy and his heart would hammer away in his chest as he went through an anxiety attack.

And the part that really made it all hurt the worst, was that Eddie didn't pick up on it. Like maybe Eddie felt that since he and Waylon were engaged he didn't have to try so hard. He was too engrossed in his work or too drunk to pick up on Waylon's deteriorating mental health. It was happening incredibly fast too. Two meals a day was becoming an absolute nightmare to get through, and Waylon had started smoking again. He was almost up to a pack a day because he was relying so heavily on them to help soothe his nerves. 

New York and Eddie had become Waylon's personal hell.

 

When Waylon wakes up he's not surprised to see the other half of the bed empty. Eddie liked to leave for work early to try to get home earlier. As he walks down the hall to the living room he notices a half empty bottle of Smirnoff on the coffee table. Waylon shudders a little. He can't imagine anyone willingly drinking that much of the stuff. He thinks about all the bottles of alcohol that his father would leave around the house and his heart starts to beat a little faster. He goes to the coat closet and retrieves his pack of smokes from his coat pocket. It was the only place he felt it was safe to hide them. Eddie was far too muscular to fit into any of Waylon's stuff so Waylon didn't have to worry that Eddie would mistakenly grab his coat.

He goes out to the balcony and lights up a cigarette, taking a slow and steady drag, savoring it. When he exhales he immediately feels better. Despite being the beginning of May, the brisk morning air nips a bit at his fingers and nose, but Waylon doesn't mind too much. He was starting to feel regularly cold again as he started to lose weight again. It was only a few pounds, nothing significant yet, at least not in Waylon's opinion. In reality his shirts were already a little roomy and he needed to wear a belt with most of his pants. 

As he finishes his cigarette he hears noises through the sliding glass door coming from the apartment. Waylon quickly snuffs out the butt of his smoke against the metal railing and lets it fall a few stories down to the ground. He wasn't particularly proud of his tendency to let his butts fall to the pavement below but at the moment he wasn't concerned with his status as a litter bug. Waylon slowly opens the sliding glass door and walks into the living room of the apartment. He hears Eddie in the bedroom, making a considerable amount of noise. Waylon debates hiding out on the patio but Eddie comes down the hall before he has a chance.

"I didn't know you were still home," Waylon says awkwardly.

"Yeah, I'm about to leave," Eddie answers with almost a hint of annoyance in his voice.

"You weren't in bed when I woke up, where were you?" Waylon asks, trying to sound casual instead of noisy.

"I fell asleep in the bathroom, I was sick last night," Eddie says, going to the kitchen to start to coffee pot. He curses loudly as he drops a coffee mug onto the floor. It shatters against the tile. Waylon flinches and he can feel his thoughts starting to turn into flashbacks to when his dad beat him for accidentally breaking a dish.

"Hungover or still drunk?" Waylon questions, taking a few deep breaths and trying to ignore the flashbacks. He looks around the room, listing things in his head that he can see, and then what he can feel, scratching behind his ear and biting his tongue lightly as he tries to stay in the moment. 

"What do you think, darling?" he replies, definitely sounding annoyed this time. 

"Well maybe you'd feel better if you weren't drinking so much," Waylon offers, nervously picking at his fingernails. It was the first time Waylon had mentioned anything about the apparent drinking problem that Eddie had.

Eddie laughs wryly but ignores Waylon's questions, pouring himself some coffee and putting it into a thermos instead of a mug before turning and walking out of the apartment. He slams the door shut. The sudden noise is enough to push Waylon over the edge and suddenly his dad is bursting into Waylon's room and screaming and ripping the blankets off of him. Waylon stands there, blankly staring at the door as his father's voice echoes through his mind. When the flashbacks start to subside Waylon gasps and breaks down sobbing, moving to the couch to curl up into a ball before continuing to cry and cry and cry. He hadn't had a full on flashback in months.

When Waylon calms down he angrily storms to the bedroom. He's full of rage now. He's seething. How dare Eddie stop giving a shit about Waylon? How dare he use work as an excuse to check out of the relationship? How dare he take his anger out on Waylon?

Waylon goes into his closet and starts yanking clothes off of the hangers. A few of the plastic ones snap in the process. Then he goes to his dresser and starts to grab his clothes from there too, chucking them behind him and letting them fall into a heap by the foot of the bed. He slams the dresser drawers a few times in the process. He wants to scream. He wants to go after Eddie and scream at him. But he doesn't. He sits down on the floor and neatly folds his clothes and puts them into the biggest suitcase they have. 

When he's finished he slides the suitcase under the bed and then stands in the room for a moment, thinking. He decides he's giving Eddie three chances. That was his first chance. He blew it by disregarding Waylon enough to trigger a flashback. That left Eddie with two. Waylon could only put up with two more incidences of Eddie's complete mistreatment of Waylon. He decided that three was fair. Eddie was going through a lot right now and Waylon wasn't willing to walk away so easily.

Waylon sits on the edge of the bed and starts to cry again, praying to a God that he doesn't believe in, begging someone, anyone, to help. To help Eddie see what he's doing. To help him see what's wrong with his behavior. He pleads and begs and sobs, hoping that Eddie will make a change. After a few minutes of this he recomposes himself and takes a few deep breaths.

Needing to take his mind off of everything with Eddie, Waylon starts to clean the apartment from top to bottom. He does all the dishes, he washes all the laundry waiting to be done, he changes the sheets and pillow cases, he vacuums and sweeps and mops, cleans the counters, and scrubs the bathroom. 

The apartment was already kept relatively tidy so it wasn't too much work for Waylon, but he still felt a little tired at the end. He hopes that maybe Eddie will come home and be welcomed be a clean apartment and maybe, somehow he'll realize how much he's been taking for granted lately. Waylon knows it's a stretch and he knows that he shouldn't be expected to do this much everyday just to keep Eddie from becoming an emotionally distant alcoholic, but he couldn't help it. He was desperate. His bags were literally packed, ready for Waylon to leave in an instant.

After relaxing for a little, Waylon gets dressed into some nicer clothes and heads out to the grocery store, they were starting to get a little low on food. He gets the usual stuff as well as a few extra ingredients for dinner. He's decided to make some maple glazed salmon with pineapple salsa for dinner. Waylon only worked two or three days a week, just to check in on the New York location, so he had a lot of spare time on his hands, and he'd decided to take up cooking. It was a little ironic, Waylon was constantly making food but he wasn't eating much of what he made.

It's a little after four when Waylon gets back to the apartment so he gets started on dinner right away. He really did enjoy cooking it. Along with talking to Lisa and Miles, it was the only real thing he had for himself. Besides going out for a cigarette every hour. But Waylon didn't like to focus on that. It was a horrible habit and every time he inhaled the four thousand chemical cocktail he felt regret for doing it. 

 

Waylon is surprised when Eddie gets home a few minutes after dinner is done. He normally got home later in the day, usually after a visit to one of the nearby bars. He's also surprised when he realizes that Eddie is sober. Waylon only got a few of these days in a month, but even then, Eddie usually just sat on the couch, staring at the TV until he went to bed.

"Darling that smells wonderful," Eddie compliments when he gets home. He sets his briefcase filled with potential dress designs on the kitchen table and goes to greet Waylon, coming up behind him and wrapping his arms around Waylon's waist, kissing his neck softly. 

"Thank you. I'm excited for you to try it," Waylon replies. 

"I'm sorry about this morning. It wasn't right for me to snap at you like that. There's no excuse for how I've been lately," Eddie admits, moving to grab a cup from the cabinets.

Waylon is taken back by Eddie's apology. It had to be a coincidence that Eddie was suddenly feeling remorse for how he'd been lately. There's no way dinner and a clean home could actually change Eddie. Waylon is hesitant to say anything at first. He wants so badly to just forgive Eddie and move on from the whole situation, but he couldn't let it go that easily. Waylon wouldn't be doing right by himself to just forgive and forget so easily.

"What's got you in such a good mood today?" Waylon asks, decidedly ignoring Eddie's apology for the time being. 

"Well, I had a new idea and Andy thinks that it could lead to something big. I want the wedding dresses to be reusable. To be made in such a way that with only a few adjustments the dress would be appropriate for everyday wear. That way the dress doesn't just sit in a garment bag, hanging in a closet collecting dust. It would keep the dress from going to waste, especially considering the circumstances they're being made under," Eddie explains, his smile falling a little toward the end.

"That's actually a pretty cool idea. And I mean if you consider that you have hundreds of thousands of people buying your dresses and they would be getting two dresses in one then you would effectively eliminate a million new dresses being bought after a few years. It would make a difference. Maybe not as big as you'd like, but it's a start," Waylon reassures as he grabs some silverware from one of the cabinet drawers. 

"Maybe you're right. I just wish I hadn't agreed to change where the dresses were being made. We put a few dozen seamstresses out of a job and now we're using borderline slave labor to make our clothes," Eddie continues, his voice cracking a bit. Once again Waylon feels himself wanting to forgive Eddie for how he's been lately. Eddie is making it too easy for Waylon to ignore what happened this morning. 

"Eddie, you didn't know that that was going to be the result of changing where your dresses were being made. I mean obviously you do have some responsibility, please don't take that the wrong way, but ultimately it's a lack of laws protecting the people working in these places. And hey, maybe you could use your new idea to help raise awareness for it. You can use this to do some good. I believe in you," Waylon encourages, giving Eddie a simple kiss on the cheek. 

"You always know just what to say. I'm so lucky to be marrying you, whenever we finally set a date," Eddie replies, grabbing one of Waylon's hands and squeezing it lightly. 

 

As they eat dinner, Waylon starts to feel hope for him and Eddie. This new passion and determination in Eddie doesn't seem like it will be going anywhere anytime soon. This new breakthrough is exactly what they both needed. Waylon reminds himself to still be cautious. Anything can change. It only takes one bad decision for Eddie to go right back into the same place they were before. Waylon tries not to think about that too much. He doesn't want to think about Eddie continuing to be hell for Waylon. He's determined to get through this. For better or for worse, right? 

When they finish dinner, Eddie grabs one of Waylon's hands and helps him up from his chair, leading him into the bedroom. Waylon lays on the bed as Eddie climbs on top of him, straddling Waylon's hips. Eddie kisses him slowly. And the kiss feels right. It's been a while since a kiss between the two of them felt right.

Eddie slowly and gently continues to push his lips against Waylon's. Eddie pulls away from the kissing, looking Waylon in the eyes.

"I love you, Waylon," he says, and Waylon doesn't doubt that Eddie means it. The past few weeks Waylon had been having some feelings of doubt.

Eddie then continues to kiss Waylon. His lips slowly move to Waylon's jaw, and then his neck and collarbone. He's taking his sweet time and Waylon starts to moan impatiently, his jeans already growing too tight. Waylon reaches for the hem of Eddie's shirt, slowly pulling it off and taking a moment to admire Eddie's physique. Eddie then helps Waylon pull his shirt off, and as his eyes scan over Waylon's body, his face shows concern. He pauses, but doesn't say anything. He resumes kissing Waylon, kissing him on the lips again, this time a little more forceful. One of Eddie's hand moves down Waylon's stomach and to the bulge in his jeans. The way Eddie is taking his time is absolute torture as Waylon moans against Eddie's lips again.

Waylon reaches down between the two of them and desperately yanks at his jeans. Eddie chuckles lightly and sits up, helping Waylon finish undressing before doing the same. When they're skin to skin Eddie just continues kissing Waylon, and Waylon thinks he might actually kill him for it. He squirms underneath Eddie, feeling like he's burning up underneath his touch. 

"Damn you, Eddie, I'm not as patient as you are," Waylon complains, pushing his hips up against Eddie's, dying for the slightest bit of stimulation. Eddie laughs quietly again, but this time as he starts to kiss Waylon again he reaches down between the two of them, taking a moment to position himself before very, very slowly pushing himself into Waylon.

"I will literally stab you," Waylon whines, only half joking at this point. "Give me something for God's sake." 

The two both fall into a short moment of laughter before Eddie finally gives Waylon some satisfaction. He starts to thrust in and out of Waylon, taking a moment to find a good rhythm. Waylon can't help but sigh contently as he feels Eddie inside of him. As Eddie slowly picks up speed Waylon groans, already starting to feel the beginnings of his climax.

"That feels amazing, please don't stop," Waylon manages to whisper, moving his hands to grab onto Eddie's shoulders. 

"I love you Waylon," Eddie replies, beginning to moan himself. He slows down a bit, and Waylon suspects that it's because Eddie is reaching his own climax too quickly.

Every one of Eddie's movements is so gentle, and it's been so long since they've actually been intimate in this way, and suddenly Waylon becomes overwhelmed and feels tears start to form in his eyes.

What the hell? I've never cried during sex before, Waylon thinks to himself. He can feel his cheeks warm up and he turns his head to the side, hoping Eddie won't notice. 

"Do you want me to stop?" Eddie asks, his voice soft and caring.

"No," Waylon answers. "Please keep going."

Eddie starts to kiss Waylon again and then begins to quicken his pace once more. Eddie begins groaning as Waylon starts to cry out. Eddie starts to push into Waylon as quickly as he can and a few moments later they've both reached their climax. Waylon can't help but digs his nails into Eddie's shoulders as he comes, and then the tears that he's been holding in all start to fall down his face. When Eddie notices, he quickly lays beside him and pulls Waylon tightly into his arms.

"Darling are you sure that was okay?" Eddie questions. 

"Yes," Waylon whispers in response.

"Then why are you crying?" Eddie continues, wiping some of the tears from Waylon's cheek with his thumb.

"Because it was so amazing, and because I've missed this. We haven't made love in months. I mean, yeah we've been having sex, but it hasn't been like this is so long, and I've desperately missed this closeness between us," Waylon admits, fresh tears welling up in his eyes. 

"I'm so sorry, Darling. I'm so sorry. I promise things are going to be different. I'm so sorry that I've been slacking on being there for you. I truly do love you," Eddie reassures, kissing Waylon's forehead softly. Waylon can't help but continue to cry and Eddie just holds him tightly and let's Waylon cry and when Waylon falls asleep it feels like everything is going to be okay.

Chapter Text

Scared of my own image

Scared of my own immaturity

Scared of my own ceiling

Scared I'll die of uncertainty

Fear might be the death of me

Fear leads to anxiety

Don't know what's inside of me

Don't forget about me

 

 

Waylon should have know that it was too good to be true. He should have been smarter. He should have been more cautious. He shouldn't have trusted Eddie again so easily. He shouldn't have forgiven him so soon. There was just so much falling apart in the relationship so quickly and Waylon ignored it all because for a few days Eddie remembered to make Waylon feel important. It was about a week after promising to change that Eddie started going straight back into his old ways, and Waylon hated himself for being shocked by it. He should have known better. But still, when Eddie came home with a new bottle of alcohol, whiskey this time, it was kind of like a punch in the gut.

 

"Hey how was work today?" Waylon asks when Eddie gets home. Waylon is pulling some chicken breasts out of the oven.

"I'm not really in the mood to talk about it right now," Eddie mumbles, going to the bedroom to change into something a little less formal. He comes back out in sweats and an old undershirt. He then grabs the bottle of whiskey and goes into the living room, turning on the tv and flopping down on the couch. He takes the cap off the bottle and takes a long swig of it, grimacing a little as he swallows.

"Dinner is ready," Waylon calls from the kitchen, not yet noticing that Eddie is already going back on his promises. Waylon puts one of the pieces of chicken on a plate along with some rice and brings it to Eddie. His heart sinks when he notices the bottle in Eddie's hand.

"I'm not hungry, you go ahead and eat for me. You need to stay good about eating," Eddie replies, taking another long drink from the bottle. At least Eddie was paying some attention to how Waylon was doing. 

"Eddie, I thought we talked about this," Waylon starts to say, but Eddie cuts him off.

"Waylon, please not tonight, it's just one drink," Eddie replies with a sigh, not even turning from the tv to look at Waylon. 

"Eddie, you promised me things were going to change," Waylon continues.

"I said not tonight!" He shouts, sinking lower on the couch. Waylon flinches at the shouts and quickly walks back to the kitchen. He puts the plate of food in the sink and then walks to the bedroom, locking the door behind him. Waylon wills himself not to cry, trying to convince himself that this is his fault, that he did something wrong here. After some deep breaths Waylon is able to stop the tears from falling down his face. He curls up underneath his comforter and stares blankly at the door. He knows Eddie's going to try to come in, and part of him is scared for how Eddie will react to being locked out of his own bedroom.

Sure enough, around midnight Waylon is woken up by the door knob rattling. Waylon turns so that his back is towards the door and shuts his eyes, trying to ignore Eddie. The door knob rattling turns into knocking at the door and then banging.

"Darling, let me in. I'm tired," Eddie says as he pounds against the door. His words sound heavy, and Waylon can tell that Eddie is definitely drunk. Just when it seems like Eddie has given up and accepted defeat in the form of the couch, the banging continues, much more aggressively this time.

"Dammit Waylon, you let me in right now! This is my apartment, you can't lock me out of my own room!" He yells. 

Waylon begins to cry as he pulls the comforter over his head and holds his knees tightly. He has to hold his ground. He needs to show Eddie that he's not putting up with his bullshit. But it's hard. Every part of Waylon is telling him that he's being the bad guy in this situation. But Eddie broke his promise, and it's not unfair of Waylon to hold him to his promise. After a few minutes the pounding on the door stops, and this time Eddie does accept defeat. 

 

Waylon is grateful that Eddie isn't home when he wakes up. He makes himself some coffee but decides to skip breakfast. He's supposed to go into work today but he really doesn't want to. After debating it for almost an hour, he eventually decides that he needs to go in.

When he gets to the store the first thing he does is check inventory, which looks as it should. He then looks around the store for any problems like chipping paint or something out of place. Everything looks fine so Waylon then goes to the front counter to help with guests for a few hours before going home. Despite being busy and dealing with a constant flow of customers, the day feels uneventful for Waylon. He just goes through the motions idly, his thoughts focused on Eddie.

He's used up his second chance. All it takes is one more screw up on Eddie's part and then Waylon is done. He promises himself that he will leave if Eddie ruins his last chance. He promises himself that he'll leave the relationship and never look back. He's not sure if he means it though.

It's one thing to declare to himself that he's going to hold his ground and put his foot down to the emotional abuse Eddie has started to dole out, but it's entirely different to go through with it. Waylon knows it, and he knows that part of him will never leave Eddie. The other part of him already has both feet out the door and is waiting for the push to close it behind him. He's not sure which part of him is stronger. Waylon just hopes that he never has to find out. That this was just a minor slip up on Eddie's part. That tonight everything would be okay between them and Eddie would apologize and mean it and show that he's sorry through his actions. 

When he gets home it doesn't look like that's going to be the case. Waylon actually gets home later than Eddie for once and finds him on the couch with a clear cup of amber-brown liquid in it. Waylon is pretty sure it's the same whiskey from last night. At least he's drinking from a cup instead of straight from the bottle.

"Andy's boss didn't like my idea. He shut it down as soon as I pitched the idea to him yesterday. I just, I needed a drink. I was devastated. You have to understand that, Waylon," Eddie says as soon as Waylon closes the front door. Waylon wants to be angry. He wants to say things like;

I don't have to understand anything.

You don't get to use work as an excuse to be negative towards me.

I am worth more than you treated me yesterday.

But Waylon can't get himself to say any of those things. The words start to come up but they just get caught in Waylon's throat. So instead Waylon just nods his head and goes into the kitchen, grabbing a TV dinner from the freezer and popping it into the microwave for a few minutes. While it cooks Eddie finishes the whiskey in his cup and then puts the cup straight into the dishwasher. He's not going back for more. Maybe that's a good sign. Or maybe Eddie already had another full glass before Waylon got home.

Waylon sighs. Dealing with this is too emotionally taxing. A relationship shouldn't be this hard. It shouldn't be this difficult to be with the person that you love. As Waylon thinks about that, he wonders if he should give still Eddie that final chance. 

 

Later that week when Saturday rolls around, Waylon wakes up with food poisoning. He got some takeout last night that evidently didn't sit with him well. He immediately runs to the bathroom, and when he comes back out a few minutes later his entire chest aches from heaving. Waylon sighs and then tiredly crawls back into bed. As he falls back asleep he can hear Eddie in the kitchen. Waylon wakes up a few hours later with a bad headache and with a wave of nausea rolling through his stomach. Waylon debates running for the toilet but after a moment the nausea subsides. As Waylon starts to settle back into bed he notices some pieces of toast in a plastic bag, an apple, and a sports drink on the nightstand along with a note from Eddie.

Heard you getting sick this morning, hope this helps 

Waylon sighs as he reads the note. Anyone in a healthy relationship wouldn't sigh after reading a note from their significant other. Once again Waylon thinks about how this relationship is so much harder than it should be. Is it even worth it anymore? Waylon wants to give up on the relationship, he really does. He's hit his breaking point. And the only thing keeping him here is a meaningless promise not to give up on the relationship.

Waylon is confident that Eddie is going to do something again that will make Waylon feel scared or unsafe, and he wants to kick himself for knowing that and still choosing to stick around. Waylon doesn't know why he's making the choice to willingly submit himself to more pain. Maybe to make himself feel more justified, to eliminate any guilt he might have for abandoning Eddie. 

He abandoned you emotionally weeks ago. Why are you still hanging on? Love is not worth putting yourself in a mentally dangerous environment.

"Dammit!" Waylon shouts at no one in particular as his thoughts become too much. There's just so much conflict. Waylon can't take it anymore. He knows that he needs to leave, he knows he needs to get out of a bad situation before it gets worse, but Waylon fears that it'll be the most painful thing he's ever gone through. Finally, after arguing with himself and screaming at himself in his head, Waylon finally makes the decision that he's going to leave tomorrow, when he's feeling better. Waylon tries to ignore tears starting to fall from his face and grabs his phone. He calls Lisa.

"Hey what's up dork?" She greets when she picks up. Waylon stutters a bit as he tries to reply.

"I-I, I have to leave Eddie," Waylon finally chokes out. Lisa stays quiet for a moment, trying to find the right words to say.

"Oh my god, are you okay?" She asks. She definitely sounds shocked.

"I don't even know. I just can't do it anymore. Eddie is drinking and I know in my heart that he's not at a place where any of that is going to change anytime soon. He doesn't care about what his drinking is doing to me. Or at least he doesn't care enough to stop. Last week he promised me things were going to change, but the second work started to get bad again he immediately got wasted," Waylon explains, his voice cracking as he tries to talk through the tears.

"How long has he been like this?" 

"Since I moved down here. It just keeps getting worse and worse. At first I thought I could manage that, but it's just taking such a toll on me. Eating is becoming a challenge again and I've started having flashbacks and panic attacks again and my anxiety it always through the roof. I can't take it anymore," Waylon answers.

"I'm so sorry, Waylon. I can't imagine how hard that is for you. Where are you going to go?" She asks.

"Honestly I'm not sure. I think I'll just take a bus back to Colorado. It'll take a few days, but I guess that will just give me time to think."

"Well you can always crash at my place if you need to," Lisa offers. Waylon thinks about it for a second, but he knows that he'd just be a burden on her.

"I think maybe I'll call my mom, stay with her for a little while I get through this," Waylon says, sighing a bit. As much as he loves his mom, there's also still some awkwardness between them, stuff they're still in the process of working through. Living with her right now would be too much, too overwhelming, but he doesn't want Lisa to worry about him. He doesn't need anyone to be concerned about him.

Lisa and Waylon talk for a few more minutes before Waylon hangs up and goes back to sleep.

When he wakes up it's to laughter coming from the living room, from multiple people. Waylon sits up tiredly and reaches for the bottle of Gatorade on the nightstand, taking a few sips before standing up. He brings the comforter with him, wrapping it around himself tightly. He feels shaky and cold and exhausted. Probably because he hasn't been able to keep much down all day.

Waylon slowly trudges down the hallway to see several people sitting in the living room. Eddie is sitting on the couch with a glass of what he can only assume to be alcohol. He also recognizes Andy sitting next to him, the two suspiciously close to each other, but everyone else is a stranger. Waylon just stands there for a minute, his tired brain slowly processing what's going on. When Eddie notices him he quickly stands up and starts walking toward him but Waylon just turns around and walks back to the bedroom, flopping down on the bed. Eddie walks into the room a moment later.

"It's not what it looked like," Eddie immediately says quietly, but the guilt on his face paints a different story.

"Not what it looked like, huh. That sounds exactly like someone who is cheating on me would say," Waylon shoots back angrily, turning his back to Eddie. He's starting to feel nauseous from the sports drink, or maybe he's just feeling sick about the idea of Eddie sleeping with someone else. Waylon isn't sure why that's making him so upset, after all it's not going to matter tomorrow.

"Darling don't be ridiculous, we're just close friends," Eddie replies.

"Then why do you look so guilty?" Waylon questions, trying to ignore the growing nausea in his stomach.

"Waylon nothing has happened between us. He-he did try to initiate something between us, but I made it clear that I'm not interested," Eddie starts to explain.

"If he's already made advances that you turned down why would you let him sit so close to you, and why wouldn't you tell me about it?" Waylon asks. He sits up, starting to feel the familiar rise of acid in the back of his throat. Eddie takes a moment to reply.

"I didn't want you to be worried," Eddie says.

Waylon wants to reply but his stomach doesn't let him and instead he sprints to the bathroom. As he kneels over the toilet, nothing comes up at first and he feels Eddies hand on his back, rubbing it softly. It feels nice. It feels horrible. All Waylon can wonder is who else those hands have been on. That thought makes him heave and then everything starts to come up. When he's finished he moves to lay down on the bathroom floor, letting his face cool down a bit on the bare tile. Eddie sits next to him, rubbing his shoulder. Waylon starts to think back to when they were first getting to know each other. When Eddie was comforting Waylon on the bathroom floor of their room at Mount Massive Recovery.

It hurts, knowing that tomorrow he's walking away from all of it. Laying there, letting Eddie attempt to comfort him, it's killing him.

"Just go back to your stupid party," Waylon mumbles, shutting his eyes. He feels Eddie hands slide underneath his waist and then he's being lifted up and brought back to bed. This just makes Waylon feel even worse, makes him feel like garbage for making the decision to leave. Fortunately he can't think about it for very long because sleep quickly comes over him. 

 

When Waylon wakes up again it's to Eddie kissing him softly on the cheek. Waylon opens his eyes and looks over to the clock on the nightstand. It's a little after three. Waylon closes his eyes, but Eddie kisses him again. His breath reeks of alcohol. It's how his dad always smelled. Waylon's stomach starts to feel uneasy, and he turns onto his side. Still Eddie tries to kiss Waylon, pulling him close.

"Eddie, I don't feel well and I'm exhausted," and I'm leaving you tomorrow, Waylon protests. 

"Darling please, I want to feel you, it'll be nice. I promise," Eddie please, trying to kiss Waylon once again.

"I'm sick, there's a good chance I'll throw up all over the bed if we do anything. Not tonight," or ever again, Waylon replies, starting to feel annoyed.

"Fine, no means no," Eddie spits out coldly. Waylon closes his eyes once again and hears Eddie get up from the bed and leave the room, closing the door loudly behind him but not quite slamming it.

No matter how hard he tries Waylon can't fall asleep after that. He just tosses and turns until he hears Eddie come back into the bedroom a few hours later. Waylon quickly pretends to be asleep as Eddie gets ready for work. When he leaves, Waylon gets out of bed and showers and gets dressed. Despite not getting much sleep, he feels okay, even a little at peace, although most of that is smothered by feelings of guilt and devastation.

When he's done in the shower he finds some paper and starts writing a note. It's painful to write, and he cries the whole time, but once he's finished, he feels a weight lifted off his shoulder. He knows that this isn't going to be easy, but he also knows that it's what's best for himself, and that brings him comfort.

Eddie,

There's no good way to tell you that I'm leaving you. I would love to tell you that I'm sorry. To tell you that it's me and not you, but that simply wouldn't be true. Even though leaving you will be one of the hardest things I'll ever go through, I don't feel sorry about it, not anymore at least. You've changed Eddie. Your drinking has changed you, and I don't feel safe anymore when I'm with you. The last time we truly made love, I thought I felt safe with you again, but things went straight back to how they were so quickly that you ripped away any lasting sense of security being with you gave me. So in this case, it is you, not me.

I am sorry if me saying that hurt you. I don't want to hurt you. I want you to realize how much you've been hurting me. I want you to realize how much you need help. It's not healthy for you to seek alcohol as your main means of comfort. You deserve to treat yourself better than that. You're worth more than that. I hope you realize that before you do permanent damage to your body. I've told you tons of stories about how it changed my dad, how it was what inevitably led to his death. I told you about how it made him believe it was okay to hurt me and abuse me. Drinking has done the same. It's changed you and it's made you believe that it's okay to mentally hurt me. 

I don't want you to think that all of this is your fault. I have my own problems too. Maybe that's why things didn't work out between us. We started falling in love with each other while we were still working through our own mental turmoil and things became serious between us very quickly. Maybe that's why our relationship was doomed. I want to tell you that maybe in a few years when we've both worked ourselves out that we can be together again. I want with all my heart to tell you that, but I can't. I don't know if things will ever be able to be the same between us again and I don't want either of us to have false hope.

Please don't chase after me, please don't try to find me. My mind is made up. We're both better off leaving it like this. 

-Waylon

Waylon reads over the note one more time before placing it in the center of the bed. He also slides his engagement ring off of his finger, placing this silver band on top of the letter. Then he retrieves his suitcase from underneath the bed and walks out of the bedroom. With one final turn of his shoulder he looks back into the apartment, and then he leaves.

Chapter Text

You know where I'm coming from

Though I am running to you

All our feelings deny, deny, denial

I wanted to be a better brother, better son

Wanted to be a better adversary to the evil I have done

I have none to show to the one I love

But deny, deny, denial

 

 

When Eddie gets home he finds it a bit odd that Waylon isn't home yet, but doesn't pay too much mind to it. He's probably out running errands. Eddie walks to the fridge and pulls out a bottle of Smirnoff from the freezer and takes it back with him to the living room couch. As he turns the tv on he takes a sip, wishing that he didn't feel like he needed to. He knows that it bothers Waylon, but it helped him to relax and it helped his thoughts to just shut up for a while. He desperately needed it; he'd reached the point once again where he wanted to hurt himself, to make his body look as ugly as he felt. The only difference now from when he first hurt himself was that he was of legal age to drown his thoughts out with booze.

Eddie continues to stare blankly at the tv as he drinks, not concerned with how much time is passing. When he checks his phone he realizes that it's been two hours. Waylon should definitely be home by now. 

Maybe he's still sick in bed, he thinks to himself as he gets up off the couch, wobbling a bit as he finds his balance. Instead of finding Waylon when he gets into the bedroom he finds a note with Waylon's engagement ring sitting on top. He starts to feel dread, but as he reads the first line of the letter it turns into shock. His stomach drops. He stands there, reading through the note, but not really processing what the rest of the words are saying.

There's no easy way to say that I'm leaving you.

There's no easy way to say that I'm leaving you.

There's no easy way to say that I'm leaving you.

The words echo through Eddie's head, his mouth going dry. He feels sick to his stomach. 

"No. No no no! This isn't happening, I'm just reading it wrong. I'm too drunk to read it the right way. This is just a misunderstanding," Eddie mumbles to himself as he stares at the words on the paper. But he knows that this isn't a mistake. Waylon is gone. Still, he desperately searches through the apartment, not completely sure what he's looking for. He feels so helpless.

"Waylon!" He shouts in a futile effort to somehow bring him back. Eddie goes back into the bedroom, picking up the letter. He reads it over and over and over again until the words don't even feel real. He sits back onto the bed, feeling like he might pass out.

"We could've gotten through this, Waylon we could've made this work," he whispers, his voice cracking as he breaks down into tears. He runs his hands back and forth through his hair, still trying to process it all.

He wants to drink. He wants to chug every drop of alcohol he has stashed in the apartment until he can't feel anything anymore. Eddie walks back into the living room, grabbing the bottle of vodka and collapsing onto the couch. He slowly starts to finish off the bottle, trying to think of what he can do. Waylon said not to follow after him and even if Eddie was in the state to go out looking for him, he wouldn't know where to start. Maybe Ruby. But he's far too drunk at this point to hold a coherent conversation. Eddie falls asleep wondering what he's supposed to do.

 

When Eddie wakes up he looks around confused for a moment, and then it all hits him like a tons of bricks. Immediately he's in tears again. His chest physically aches. He feels dirty, disgusting. He feels like a monster. He pushed away the one person he truly loved, and for what? Mere inebriation? Eddie pushes himself off the couch and walks to the shower. He doesn't bother with his clothes as he steps into the tub, turning the water on and leaving it cold. He stands there, staring at the wall of the shower.

Waylon's gone.

It's all that he can think about. His everything is gone. And it's all his fault. He fucked everything up. He's solely to blame. Slowly Eddie starts to strip down, tossing his clothes onto the bathroom floor, not worrying about the water that's getting everywhere. It's such a small thing, it doesn't matter. Nothing matters anymore, except for the fact that Waylon is gone. 

When Eddie gets out of the shower he pulls on some old sweats and an undershirt. He sends a text to Andy that something big came up and he doesn't think he'll be able to make it into work for the week. And then he just stands there. He feels utterly hopeless as his thoughts start to overwhelm him.

This is all your fault. If you weren't such a pathetic excuse for a human being Waylon would still be here right now. He would be at home while you worked, waiting for you to get home. You guys could've shared a meal and sat in each other's arms on the couch and just been happy. But you've ruined it all. You're garbage. You're no better than shit on the bottom of someone's shoe.

Eddie walks back into the kitchen, trying to ignore the chaos building up inside of his brain. He grabs a bottle of whiskey and opens the lid.

You idiot. What do you think caused all these problems? Are you really so pathetic that you're not going to try to change for Waylon?

Eddie chucks the bottle down the the tile floor. It shatters. Something about seeing the bottle be destroyed is calming. He searches through the cabinets and fridge and pulls out every single bottle of alcohol, throwing it onto the ground and letting it break. 

When everything is broken Eddie feels a sense of satisfaction. For a moment he even feels a little happy, because in this moment he's not letting his addiction win. The moment quickly passes when he remembers that none of this is going to bring Waylon back. He pulls his phone out of his pocket and tries calling Waylon, hoping he'll answer so that Eddie can plead with Waylon to give him another chance, to promise him that he's ready to change.

The call goes straight to voicemail. Eddie can't bring himself to leave a voicemail. He just hangs up and leans against the fridge, slowly sinking down until he's sitting on the floor. He starts eyeing the pieces of glass on the floor and grabs one, moving it around in between his fingers as he looks over it. When thoughts start to overwhelm his head again he brings it down to his arm. 

 


 

 

When Waylon gets to Colorado he checks into a cheap motel. It didn't hold up to the standard of living that he'd grown accustomed to, but the bed was clean, the shower worked, and that was enough for Waylon. He flops onto the bed and lays there for a moment. At first he feels okay. He feels relief. And then it all comes back at one. He left Eddie. He will never snuggle up happily into Eddie’s warm and comforting arms again, although they hadn’t been very comforting lately. He will never kiss Eddie’s lips again and feel his world calm down again, but Eddie’s kisses no longer made him feel calm. He will never wake up warm with from Eddie’s embrace again, but when was the last time that they’d shared a morning in bed like that before?

 Waylon thinks that he should be crying but he can’t get himself to. He feels empty. He thinks to himself that it’s a very cliche word to use, but that’s the only word to describe how his brain feels. Maybe numb, but that word felt even more so invalidating because of how often it was used in therapy. Almost like it wasn’t even a real word. It felt about as meaningful as describing himself as sad. He feels everything and he feels nothing. His heart is physically aching and his mind is pounding with thoughts of guilt and anger and anxiety and depression and devastation. But at the same time it’s almost as if he feels none of it. 

 None of the feelings matter because right now all he’s doing is existing. He’s just a tiny, insignificant being covering a negligible spot of an enormous Earth lying on a cheap motel mattress and none of it matters. He’s living because of a societal expectation that you should live so that you can do things with your life. But what purpose does Waylon’s serve? He can’t think of any significant purposes. Eddie was his everything and that’s what the problem was. Waylon was too reliant on him for happiness, and until Waylon could be happy by himself he could never work with Eddie. Waylon isn’t sure he can ever be happy on his own again, and that’s why he made it clear to Eddie that they shouldn’t have false hope for the future. 

 Waylon slowly pushes himself up off the bed and walks into the bathroom, starting to strip down. He debates cold water or hot, feeling like any icy shower might somehow bring him clarity to his emotions. He decides against it, his skin feels grimy and dirty and he desperately wants to feel clean, both physically and mentally. As Waylon stands under the stream of water he thinks about the showers he and Eddie used to take together. Hot steamy water cascading down both their bodies. Slick soapy skin sliding together. Playfully biting at Eddie’s lips. Rubbing his hands through Eddie’s hair. Hands drifting to intimate areas. Waylon’s fingers and nails desperately clawing at Eddie’s back as they made love. Eddie’s steady breathing and grunting as he pushed into Waylon. 

 Waylon looks around for a second, confused as he comes out of his thoughts. He looks down to see that he’s completely hard. He slams his fist against the tile of the shower. He shouldn’t be fantasizing about Eddie, not after leaving him. He shouldn’t be touching himself thinking about his ex-fiancé. But there he is, taking care of his problem as quickly as he can so he can finish his shower and sleep. That’s all he wants is to sleep. Maybe to never wake up. The thought is a little more morbid than the usual things that popped into his head and he scolds himself a little for it. But it was true. It would be easier if Waylon could just shut his eyes and let that be the end of it. Maybe a painless heart attack. No one would have to feel guilty. 

 When Waylon is dressed he slowly crawls into the covers of the bed. They’re a little scratchy, they could use a healthy dose of fabric softener. He thinks about his mom and how much fabric softener she used to clean his clothes. Every piece of fabric that went through the washing machine under Ruby’s care gave off the perfume of whatever softener she had used for weeks. Thinking about his mom is a nice break from thinking about Eddie. He should go see her, maybe spend a day or two with her. It would be good to see her and he wouldn’t have to tell her anything about Eddie if he didn’t want to. Ruby wouldn’t pry, not too much at least. 

 

The next day Waylon is driving down to Wyoming in a used car he bought with cash that he withdrew from his bank account. Well, his and Eddie's joint account. As he drives he remembers that he paid for the motel with his card, the charge is traceable. If Eddie decides to look at the history, he could easily find Waylon. Maybe he should just withdrawal a few thousand and keep his expenses low for a little bit while he looks for a job. Waylon doesn't know how easily he could get a job. He had his high school diploma that he got online, but still, it would only get him entry level jobs like Walmart or McDonald's. He didn't find either of the two appealing and he didn't think that his anxiety would make a job in customer service very manageable. But he couldn't keep using their bank account. He left, he didn't feel like he had a right to any of that money. 

When Waylon gets to his mom's he feels a little uneasy. He'd never actually been to her house before. Most of Cheyenne was comprised of old buildings, and Ruby's house was no exception. The wood paneling on the outside had huge pieces of white paint chipped off, the concrete leading up to the door was cracked with grass sprouting through. The house itself wasn't that big, and it looked to be something built in the eighties. The rest of the neighborhood was the same, old houses on the brink of dilapidation. 

As he walks up to the front door his heart starts to pound. Why is this so nerve wracking? He pulls open the screen door and brings his hand up to the little gold knocker on the interior door. He lifts it up and just holds it. He doesn't know why he can't bring himself to hit it against the door. Just as he starts to back down the front door opens. Ruby looks confused for a moment but immediately smiles when she sees Waylon.

"Hey Waylon, what are you doing here?" She asks as she pulls Waylon into a hug.

It's what a hug should be like. It was warm and comforting and safe. Not how he felt with Eddie. Even though he wasn't planning to tell his mom anything, he breaks down into tears and it all comes out.

"I left Eddie. I packed up all my things and I left him," he whispers as his voice breaks and his cheeks become stained with tears. His mother holds him tighter and tries to comfort him.

"Oh baby, I'm so so sorry. Are you okay?" She asks.

"No," he admits, trying not to sob. He bites his lip and tries to stifle his cries but it's pointless and he starts to shake as he continues to cry. 

"Come here let's get you inside," Ruby instructs as she pulls out of the hug and leads Waylon into the living room. He sits down on the couch and puts his face in his hands as the tears continue to fall.

"I'm going to make you some tea, okay, I already have some water boiling on the stove, just give me a minute," she explains before going into the kitchen. While she's gone Waylon looks around at the living room, wiping away at his eyes. There's a coffee table and TV on a small little stand and the couch he's sitting on. There's also pictures hanging on the walls. Pictures of him and his mom when he was young, and even a photo of him, his mom and dad. Waylon thinks he must be about five or six in the photo. His dad has his arm around my mom, and the three of them all look so happy. Everything was perfect. He wishes he could just jump into the picture and live in that one happy moment forever.

There's another one, Waylon looks closer to ten. His mom is kneeling beside him, with her chin resting on one of Waylon's shoulders. It's a "goofy face" photo. His mother always loved those more than just smiling. Waylon has a finger on either corner of his mouth, pulling as he sticks his tongue out, and his mom is going cross eyed. Waylon let's out a small laugh. He remembers it. He remembers it so clearly. They were standing on a beach, the sun starting to set behind them. An old family friend was taking the picture but he can't remember who. They'd gone without his dad, to have a break. He'd started drinking by this point, but it was still mostly manageable. 

Looking around at the room has helped him to calm down a little, his tears subsiding as little hiccups take their place. His mom comes back a few moments later holding two mugs with little wisps of steam rising from them. Ruby hands one to Waylon, and he cups it in his palms, enjoying the heat radiating off of it. It's hot, it burns a little even, but not enough to cause harm like a blister. Just enough to sting and maybe leave his palms raw for a few hours. It's still too hot to drink, but he leans his nose down to smell it. It's peppermint. He loved peppermint herbal tea as a kid. He used to have a cup of it every night before bed while his mom read to it. He wonders when the last time he had a mug of tea was. 

"I didn't put any honey or sugar in it, the way you used to love it when you were young," Ruby says as she sits down next to Waylon.

"Yeah, I remember always having a cup before bed and you'd read to me, and I would feel warm when I fell asleep. It was so comforting," Waylon reminisces with a smile. 

"Every night, without fail you'd always ask for some peppermint tea. Even when you were sick. I remember when you had the stomach flu and couldn't even keep water down, you still begged me for some. I- when I left, I always kept peppermint around. I grew it in the kitchen window sill and had essential oils. Every time I smelt it I thought of you," Ruby says, taking a sip from her mug. Waylon takes a small sip as well. It's still a little hot, but it's nice. They sit in silence for a few minutes before Ruby speaks again.

"Please don't answer this if you're uncomfortable, but why did you leave him?" Ruby questions, setting her tea down on the coffee table. Waylon kicks his shoes off and brings his feet up onto the couch, pulling his knees up to his chest. He takes another sip of his tea before answering.

"He started drinking a few months ago because work was stressing him out and I just couldn't stand being in that environment again. I started having flashbacks again, and I haven't been eating like I should, and it all just became too much. I didn't even have the heart to tell him in person. I left a note on the bed with my engagement ring on top and I just left while he was at work. I don't even know how he's doing. How he reacted. I can't stop thinking about it," Waylon explains.

"I left a note for your father as well. Told him I couldn't be his punching bag anymore and that he needed serious help," Ruby replies.

"I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree," Waylon says, laughing a bit. In a strange way, it's comforting to know that that's how his mom left his dad. It makes him feel just a bit less guilty.

 

They talk for a few more hours before Ruby goes to bed. Waylon sleeps on the couch, at least he tries to. He feels his phone go off in his back pocket. He's felt it go off multiple times since he left, but never looked at any of the messages. Talking with his mother has given him a new wave of confidence, or at the very least made him feel less anxious and overwhelmed. Waylon pulls his phone out of his pocket. He has a missed call from Lisa and a text from Miles, as well as multiple calls and texts from Eddie. 

Miles: Hey Eddie called me, he didn't tell me much but asked if I knew where you were. Is everything okay?

Eddie: Darling, please call me, I'm worried about you

Eddie: I love you, we can make this work

Eddie: Please don't do this

Eddie: I got rid of it all, I won't drink again if that's what it takes.

Eddie: Please come back to me. I'll fix everything. I love you.

Waylon debates sending a text back. Maybe he should block Eddie. That would make it all easier, if he took away the choice to talk to him. His thumb hovers over the block option. He can't bring himself to do it. Maybe he should text Eddie. At the very least it would reassure Eddie that Waylon was alright. But it could also send the wrong idea. Eddie doesn't need false hope. Eddie needs his own reasons to stop drinking. Waylon hits the power button and pushes his phone back into his pocket, tossing and turning and trying to forget Eddie so that he can sleep.

When he wakes up he can hear his mom in the kitchen on the phone with someone. 

"I, I don't think I can tell you that. He- listen this is hard for him, and he needs time to be alone... Yes, he's safe, but Eddie, you have to let him be alone, he needs to think, to figure himself out. You should stop contacting him... It takes time to heal, and you have to start accepting that for the time being, he doesn't want to go back to you, and he may never want to... I- I'm sorry," Ruby whispers into the phone before hanging up. Waylon gets up from the couch and walks into the kitchen. 

"Hey honey, how are you feeling? You want me to start some breakfast?" Ruby asks when she sees Waylon.

"No thank you, that's okay, I'm not hungry yet. Who were you on the phone with?" Waylon asks casually, even though he already knows the answer. 

"It was Eddie. He was worried about you. I let him know that you're okay. I'm not trying to guilt you into anything, but maybe you should call him. And I'm not saying you should forgive him or anything, but maybe you'd both feel better if you had this conversation over the phone instead of through a letter," Ruby suggests.

"I don't think I can do that. Mentally, I don't think I can handle it," Waylon replies, sighing and rubbing his hands through his hair. He wishes he didn't have to deal with any of this. He wishes it would all just stop. 

"Okay sweetie. I won't try to push the matter further. I have the day off today so we can go out and do something if you'd like. I have plans in the evening but if you need me to I can cancel them."

Waylon thinks for a moment. His mother shouldn't have to rearrange her life for him. He's already starting to feel like he's overstaying his welcome.

"I actually should head back down to Colorado today, I have some things I need to take care of," he lies. "And I wouldn't want to be a burden on you."

"Waylon, you're my son. You'll never be a burden to me. You are always welcome here, as long as you need," Ruby reassures, walking over to Waylon and pulling him into a hug. 

Waylon isn't sure how to respond so he just accepts the hug. 

Eventually, after some reassurance that he was okay and some goodbyes, Waylon leaves to drive back to his motel. When he gets into his room he lies down on the bed and looks up at the ceiling, thinking. As he thinks, his remembers Jeremey Blair, the guy he met in the coffee shop months ago. He was so strange during their encounter. As he looks through his contacts he sees that the number is still saved in his phone. He debates calling him, not really sure why, maybe just curiosity. Maybe because he wants to find someone to drown his sorrows in. Waylon eventually decides against it, and continues staring up at the ceiling. 

 

Chapter Text

No one looks up anymore

Cause you might get a raindrop in your eye

And heaven forbid they see you cry

As we fall in line

And about this time of every year

The line will walk to the ocean pier

And March right off into the sea

and then we fall asleep



It’d been a little over two weeks since Waylon left, and Eddie had started to fall into a routine. He woke up, he showered, he put on a smile for work, he came home, he showered again, he made something for dinner, he sat on the couch, he watched until he got drowsy, he took another shower, and then he went to sleep. He didn’t feel like he could take enough showers. He desperately wanted to wash himself away, to get rid of every fiber of his being. He wanted to cleanse his soul. His soul was the tarnished, and that drove Waylon off. It was the same soul that had haunted Waylon enough for him to leave. Every piece of Eddie was hateful. He wanted to get rid of it all.

His skin always felt raw from the showers, but he ignored it. He deserved every bit of pain he incurred. That included the occasional blade to his wrist. He’d only done it four times, careful to do it in a way that the lines on his forearm were no more than a little suspicious. It never elicited any questions from his coworkers. That was the last thing he needed. He lied to Andy, saying that he left to go see his mother who had a health scare as an excuse for staying home from work for a week, and so from the outside he looked just fine.



When he gets to his office, he spends a few hours trying to come up with something. He had to present a new line to Andy’s boss tomorrow and his mind was blank. He couldn’t think of anything new. His mind was cluttered with Waylon and self hate. He’d even caught himself sketching Waylon’s face, aching to see him, even if it was only through the lines of a pencil. At least knowing he was safe brought him some comfort. He felt guilty attempting to bypass Waylon's silence by calling Ruby. It was a desperate and pathetic attempt to find Waylon. He could tell from her voice that at least during the time of the call Waylon was with her, her voice unintentionally giving it away, but Waylon had probably left by now. Eddie knew him, he knew that Waylon didn’t like to feel like a bother to anybody else.

As he stares at his blank paper, Andy walks in to his office, the abrupt sound of the door closing behind him pulling Eddie away from his thoughts.

”Hello, Andrew,” Eddie greets formally, forcing himself to smile. Andy smiles back at him in an almost seductive manner. It makes Eddie's skin crawl. Andy didn't care for personal space or boundaries, it only took a few weeks of them working together for him to start making advances. Eddie could usually brush them off and ignore them, choosing to focus his attention to his work, but with Waylon gone he felt his patience wear thinner every day. 

“How’s the new project coming? You know you have to give a pitch tomorrow right?” He asks, walking to Eddie’s desk and sitting uncomfortably close.

”Yes, I’m aware of the project deadlines,” Eddie replies with agitation in his voice.

”I’m going to guess by your hostility that you still have nothing. This is a big deal. You hit the nail on the head one more time and you’re set. Your name’s already out there, you just need to prove that you’re not going to stop impressing," he almost purrs, while placing a hand on Eddie's shoulder. "You've certainly impressed me." 

Eddie shrugs it off as nonchalantly as he can, faking a yawn and stretching his arms behind his heads. Andy seems to be oblivious to it, or maybe he just chooses to ignore Eddie's obvious discomfort with the situation. He leans closer to Eddie, lowering his voice to a whisper.

"We can do amazing things together," he says, and Eddie knows he's no longer talking about work. When he leaves, Eddie mutters a few choice words under his breath before focusing on his work again. He thinks of Waylon and forces himself to start sketching. He thinks of how boney and sharp Waylon's shoulders are as he works on the frame. He thinks about how light and almost feather-like Waylon's hair is as he designs the skirt and the arms. He thinks about how soft and and gentle Waylon's facial features are as he works on the corset. He thinks about how piercing and beautiful Waylon's eyes are as he adds embellishments.

When he finishes, the dress is perfect, but Eddie feels guilt. Guilt for hurting such a beautiful person. It takes everything he has not to break down at his desk as he looks over the design.

When he gets home he goes into the bathroom, he grabs his straight razor, he unbuttons the cuff of his sleeve, and he pushes the sleeve back. He pauses for a moment. It's summer. It would be impractical, irrational, to harm his arms further. Most days weren't suitable for long sleeves. 

What you're doing isn't very rational in the first place, is it?

Eddie looks at himself in the bathroom mirror and then he sets the razor down on the counter, pulling his sleeve back down as he leaves the bathroom. He didn't need to hurt himself, not right now anyway. There was only so much he could do to himself before he'd be shipped off in a straight jacket. He had to save it for when he really needed it. Now was not the time he really needed it.



Eddie didn't need it, or at least felt like he needed it, until another two weeks later, when he was paying a few bills online. The charges to his joint banking account looked weird at first, but after a minute or two he realized that Waylon had been staying in a motel. He knew exactly where Waylon was. There were charges to nearby restaurants and a laundromat. Eddie could find Waylon.

He said he didn't want you to chase after him.

Eddie knows he shouldn't try to find Waylon. He knows it. But still, he can't help himself as he books the first plane ticket to Denver International Airport. The soonest he can get one is in two days. And during those two days all he does is stress. He worries and worries and worries. He can't pay attention at work as they continue to go forward with Eddie's newest designs. He can't get much sleep. Anxiety is eating him alive like a fatal flesh-eating disease.

What is it going to be like seeing him?

What if he takes me back?

What if he doesn't take me back?

What if he tells me he hates me?

What if he never wants to see me again?

What if he comes back to New York with me?

The morning of his flight can't come soon enough. He gets showered and dressed in record time and is out the door with nothing more than his wallet and phone. He takes a cab to the airport and has to exercise all of his self control to not sprint into the airport and to his gate. Security takes an eternity to get through which doesn't help him feel any less anxious. When he's finally boarded and sitting in his seat his heart is practically vibrating in his chest. It's been a month. It's been a month and he's going to see Waylon.



When he pulls into the motel parking lot he starts to think about how he should do this. First he needs to figure out which room Waylon is staying in. And then what? Go up and knock on his door? Buy roses and make a big romantic gesture? He doesn't have time to think about how he should do this because he sees Waylon, clear as day, walk out of one of the rooms. Eddie pulls into the nearest parking spot and sinks down in his seat, watching Waylon as he walks down the stairs.

Is he smiling? It looks like he's smiling? Is he already moved on and happy without me?

Eddie starts to regret his decision to come down here. He's not sure if he can actually face Waylon. He continues to watch Waylon get into a car. When he pulls out of the parking lot Eddie pulls out of his spot and starts to follow him.

You're bordering on psycho-stalker. If he sees you following him he'll freak. You can't repair a relationship through the restrictions of a restraining order.

Eddie keeps a few cars in between him and Waylon and follows him to a coffee shop. He parks as he watches Waylon get out of his car. Someone inside the coffee place stands up when Waylon walks in. He kisses Waylon on the cheek before they hug. It could be a simple friendly gesture but Eddie knows better. He knows it's more than that. He watches as they talk, as Waylon laughs, a laugh so honest that he throws his head back and his body shakes. Eddie can't tear his eyes away. He should leave, he should drive away and accept that Waylon has moved on. He feels like he can't breath. He feels like any lasting bits of his soul have shattered.

It's not what he expected. He expected to see Waylon broken up. He expected to see Waylon struggling to heal. Eddie thought he would be needing to apologize profusely. He thought he'd have to get down on his knees and beg Waylon for forgiveness. But there he is, sitting in a coffee shop, talking and laughing with a guy who clearly is more than a mere friend. Eddie feels paralyzed. The two get up from the table, they walk out with their arms linked. Even though Eddie isn't parked close to the entrance, Waylon sees him. He looks directly at Eddie. They lock eyes for only a second before looking away.

Eddie sits there for what feels like an eternity. Waylon is long gone but still Eddie can't move. He sits in his car until the afternoon sun starts to fall and paint the sky pink. He can't force himself to move, until the last shreds of the sun are sinking behind the Rockies. And then he drives. He drives straight to Waylon's motel, and he walks to his room, and he knocks. When Waylon answers the door Eddie looks into his eyes, searching for something, anything. But Waylon's eyes just look blank, emotionless. They don't look like they could belong to the same person enjoying a conversation and sitting comfortably in a public space.

"You shouldn't be here," are the first words out of Waylon's mouth. His words are weak, they're empty. It doesn't sound like he means it.

"Who was-who was that you were with?" Eddie asks, his voice cracking. He tries to hold back tears. He looks up, away from Waylon, blinking rapidly as he tries to keep himself from crying. Waylon doesn’t say anything, rubbing the back of his neck uncomfortably. The silence between the two starts to grow uncomfortably large.

“Who was that? Who was the person that made you forget all about me in a month?” Eddie repeats, trying to keep himself voice level. He wants to shout. He wants to lose his shit. It feels impossible to try to hold a civilized conversation. 

“You think I forgot about you? Eddie everyday I think about you and I miss you. But you did this. Do you have any idea what type of hell you put me through? My dad was an alcoholic, Eddie, that’s what killed him. That’s what allowed him to come very damn near killing me on a daily basis. He almost choked me to death for breaking a glass! And then I met you. And none of it mattered when I was with you. You made me feel safe, you helped me work through flashbacks. And then what, all it took was a little bit of stress at work for you to forget all about that and become the same person who drove me to almost starve myself? I have nothing to apologize for Eddie. You crushed me and I’m doing the best I can to pull myself back together. Don’t you try to paint me as the bad guy. I have nothing to apologize for!” Waylon spits back angrily.

Eddie just stands there, he feels like he’s just been pummeled. Like the air has all been knocked out of him. He stands there, trying to search for a response. He stands there so long that the soles of his shoes fuse to the concrete in front of the door. He stands there so long that his mind is permanently frozen in that moment. The molecules of the air forever holding Eddie's body in place, in the moment Waylon forced Eddie to truly see himself for what he is. A monster. Even as he turns and walks back to his car, he is stuck in front of Waylon's door, hearing the speech indefinitely. He drives straight to the nearest bar, and he drinks, trying to escape. Trying to chisel his shoes from the concrete, trying to shove his body from that moment, but he's trapped.

You became the same person who drove him to stop eating.

You became the person who beat Waylon relentlessly.

You became the person who made Waylon fear existing every day.

You became a monster.

He can’t get the thought out of his head. He destroyed Waylon, he truly did. And he couldn’t even clearly see it until now. He was so blind. So ignorant to what he’d become. He was a monster. He knew he was a despicable, detestable person, but hearing Waylon tell him how much Eddie had broken him, Eddie could finally see it.

He’d never hated himself more. And that’s when he needed it. That’s when he needed to mutilate his own body again. Because he was a monster. That’s what he deserved. He didn’t hold back this time.

 




Waylon almost feels a bit of excitement as he wakes up. It’d been about a month since leaving Eddie, and things were starting to look okay. He was meeting Jeremy Blaire for coffee. It was their second coffee date. The first time they met Waylon had made it clear that he was going through some things and wasn’t looking for a serious relationship right now. Jeremy had been accepting of that, and surprisingly charming. He said all the right things, he smiled just the right amount, when he talked to Waylon he listened. He genuinely listened. Waylon hadn’t been able to talk to Eddie like that in months.

As Waylon got ready he tried to ignore all the thoughts in the back of his head. Thoughts telling him that he was an awful person. Thoughts telling him that he shouldn’t be feeling happy. Thoughts telling him that he was pathetic. He was already looking for someone to make him feel wanted and special. It was too soon to be going out with someone else.

As he drives to the coffee shop they’re meeting at he tries to let himself smile. He should smile. He’s going out for coffee with a man who cares about him. He should be allowed to feel happy about that, but his mind won't let him.

Eddie cared about you, you just gave up on him too quickly. He made you feel special, he loved you when he could. You were too needy. You were too reliant. This is on you.

When Waylon gets there he sees Jeremy inside already sitting at the table, looking through a newspaper. When he approaches the table Jeremy stands up and greets Waylon with a hug and a quick kiss on the cheek. It makes Waylon feel good. He shouldn’t be feeling good. He doesn't deserve it.

“It’s good to see you, Waylon, how are you today?” He asks as they sit down at the table. He folds the newspaper and sets in down on the table before leaning forward on the table. He looks genuinely interested in Waylon's response. Such a simple gesture has the corners of Waylon's mouth beginning to pull into a smile. Waylon tries to relax and let himself smile. 

“I’m okay. Still having trouble finding work,” Waylon answers.

“Can I buy you a coffee? Any drink you’d like, on me,” Jeremy offers with a smile.

”Uh, okay. Sure. Just a cup of black coffee,” Waylon accepts, forcing himself to smile as he speaks.

Jeremy gets up from the table to get it for Waylon. Waylon’s smile drops a little as he walks to the counter. 

You shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t be here.

Waylon can’t get the thought out of his head. It’s way too soon to be going out with someone and he knows it. He doesn't need to find someone else to take Eddie's place. HE shouldn't be going out with someone who could take Eddie's place. It was wrong. Waylon quickly forces himself to smile again as Jeremy returns, a cup of coffee in his hand. Waylon gratefully accepts it, the coffee much better than what the motel had to offer.

They continue to talk and Jeremy continues to be charming. He even makes Waylon laugh. An honest to god laugh where his whole body joins in as his head throws back. It feels good.

You shouldn’t be feeling good. You don’t deserve to feel good.

Waylon does his best ignore his thoughts, to push them to the back of his mind. Waylon had left Eddie a month ago, and yet somehow Waylon couldn't let go of him. He needed to let go if he was ever going to truly feel at peace with himself and end the war in his head. 

You're not worthy of feeling at peace with yourself.

He tries to focus on the conversation, reminding himself to smile, to nod when he should, to reply when he should. He tries not to think about how what he’s doing is wrong. It’s pathetic. 

When the two leave the coffee shop, Jeremy grabs Waylon’s hand, and it feels nice. It feels okay. And surprisingly, his brain lets Waylon feel okay, at least for a moment. The moment passes when he looks at the cars in the parking lot as they walk down the front steps. He hadn’t been looking for anything in particular, but his eyes locked with another pair. They belonged to Eddie. It was unmistakable, Eddie was sitting in a car, watching Waylon exit the coffee shop holding hands with another man. Waylon pulls his eyes away and keeps walking. Guilt washes over him like a tidal wave. He feels like he can’t breathe. That couldn’t have been Eddie, how would he have known where Waylon was. It was impossible, and yet, somehow, there Eddie was, witnessing it all.

Waylon concentrates on walking with Jeremy, holding his hand, linking their arms. There was nothing inherently wrong with that. It was just two hands holding each other. But there was more than that. The way their steps fell in line, the way Waylon could almost feel comfortable. It wasn’t just two hands holding each other.

 

When Waylon gets back to his motel as the sky is faintly painted with oranges and pinks as the sun starts to descend the horizon. He gets into the shower first, trying to relax as he stands under the warm stream of water. After coffee they caught a movie. Jeremy had pulled the corny as hell nonchalantly-yawn-and-drape-your-arm-around-across-their-shoulders move. Waylon laughed at him and rolled his eyes, leaning into the embrace slightly. His arm was warm. Waylon tried to feel comfortable. He should have been sitting there with Eddie.

When the movie finished Jeremy walked Waylon back to his car. Waylon thought they were going to kiss. But it never came. Just a simple goodbye. Waylon hated himself for wanting more. But that was it. Just a goodbye. As Waylon drove back to the motel all he could think was that he was awful for wanting more.

So he showered, to try to calm his thoughts and his nerves. It didn’t help. 

When he’s finished and dressed there’s a knock at the door. When he opens it, he sees Eddie, standing there, looking like hell. Waylon can’t hear everything that he’s saying at first. He just stands there and stares at him. He barely registers Eddie repeating his question. And then he’s livid. Livid that Eddie would have the audacity to be angry with him.

He tries to keep from yelling as he tells Eddie off, but he can’t. He’s practically screaming when he finishes. Eddie stands there for a while, looking like Waylon had punched him in the stomach. When he leaves, Waylon closes the door and then lays on his bed. He can’t stop the tears from falling. He wasn’t ready to see Eddie. He wasn’t ready to face him. It was too much.

Chapter Text

We all are stranger creatures than when we all started out as kids

Culture forbids

We have romantic fantasies about what dying truly is

Fall off the grid


Eddie can barely stand up straight as he walks into work. It had been three weeks since Eddie saw Waylon. Eddie did worse each day. He drank a little more and he hurt himself a little more as every second passed. It had become less about hurting himself because he deserved it and more about hurting himself because it was the only thing he had left. Waylon was gone, work was crap, his dream had gone down the drains months ago. All Eddie had left for himself was pain, and he almost loved it.

He almost enjoyed waking up in the morning feeling like he’d been run over by a train. At least he was experiencing something. He enjoyed watching drops of crimson stain the white porcelain of his sink. At least he knew that somehow his heart was still beating. And with each second of agony the day brought him, he knew that he could get through another. If he could get through the last moment he could get through one more moment. It was the only thought that kept Eddie going. If he could live through a second without Waylon he could live through one more.

 

The room seems to spin as Eddie flops down into his chair at his desk. He moves around some papers, trying to figure out what they say. Instead the words dance around the white of the page. Eddie stifles a small giggle and looks up from his desk, rubbing his eyes a bit. When he looks back down at the papers, he realizes that they’re documents for a new presentation to Andy’s boss. He had completely forgotten about it. He had no new designs to offer.

“Andy is going to be furious,” Eddie whispers to himself as he cradles his forehead in the palm of his hand. The dress Eddie had designed with Waylon’s features in mind wasn’t well received. Eddie had lashed out at Andy’s boss, saying that he had no clue what he was talking about when he criticized the dress.

Eddie was on thin ice after that, with Andy making it clear that all it took was one more screw up before he was out. Eddie thought he was bluffing, after all Darling Designs was still his, so he didn’t take the threat seriously at all. But now, barely being able to read some text and with no ideas to present, Eddie was starting to feel uneasy. A knock on his door interrupts him from his thoughts.

“How are we feeling this morning? Ready to wow my boss?” Andrew asks as he walks into the room. Eddie looks up at him and shrugs his shoulders.

“Who knows?” Is all Eddie can manage to reply. Even despite feeling anxiety about losing his job, Eddie wasn’t in the mood to deal with Andy at all. Eddie watches Andy close the blinds to the window on the door before walking further into the room, but he doesn’t notice Andy’s fingers on the lock of the door.  

“Are you drunk? Jesus, I can smell you from a mile away,” he states as he walks closer to Eddie. “This truly is a new low for you.”

“Fuck off. I’m doing the best that I can,” Eddie spits back bitterly, his words running together.

“Gluskin, I swear, if you don’t go into that meeting with something amazing,” Andy threatens, placing his hands on Eddie’s desk and lowering himself to be eye level. “I own your job.”

Eddie’s stomach lurches as Andrew’s breath blows across his face. Andy comes closer, their noses practically touching.

“I own you. I control everything you make. Do you understand me?”

Eddie clenches his jaw and almost shakes with anger. He wants to smack Andy’s stupid little smirk right off his face.

“I said do you understand?” He shouts.

Eddie spits in his face and shoves him back. The pure shock on his face as he stumbles back is almost enough to make Eddie not instantly regret his actions. He tries to stand up but falls back into his chair, the room starting to spin again. Andy wipes his face off and stands up straight, clearing his throat before saying anything.

“You know, I’ve put up with a lot of shit from you because you’ve been a good asset. But right now, you don’t have much to offer me. If you want to stay here another second you’ll get down on your knees and beg me. You’ll show me that you’re worth something. Give me a reason to keep you around,” he says suggestively.

Eddie stares at Andy blankly, his brain lagging behind a few seconds. It isn’t until Andrew starts to unbuckle his belt that he realizes what he’s suggesting.

“I’m not going to repeat myself. Get down on your knees and show me why I should keep you around.”

“I own Darling Designs. That’s my company. You can’t make me do anything,” Eddie replies. There was no way he’d ever stoop that low.

“You lost your ownership when you voluntarily signed on board to this company. It’s not yours anymore. You’ve only got one option if you’re going to stay here.”

Eddie finds the strength to stand up and grabs his keys from his desk. He can’t remember if his wallet is in his back pocket or in the desk, or if he left it at home.

“There’s not a chance in hell,” Eddie growls as he looks for his briefcase. Andy grabs Eddie’s arm and yanks it. Eddie’s balance is too low and he falls down onto his hands and knees.

“Looks like you can’t really stop me,” he taunts, stepping in front of Eddie.

Eddie struggles to stand up but fails. All it takes is a forceful shove from Andrew to keep him on the ground. Fear starts to grow in Eddie’s stomach. He knows exactly what’s going to happen. Andy grabs a fistful of Eddie’s hair, tugging on it hard. Eddie hisses through his teeth as a stinging sensation fills the back of his head. Eddie tries to fight but he’s too drunk to do anything. As Andy continues to undo his pants Eddie begins to cry. He’s never felt so powerless in his life before.

“Shut up,” Andrew spits at him as he grabs Eddie’s jaw hard, forcing his mouth open. Eddie tries to fight Andy and get away from him, but it feels like his entire body is suspended in cement. With the first thrust from Andy, Eddie gags. He gags hard, and everything in his stomach comes up. Andy takes a few steps back and Eddie takes the opportunity to grab onto the edge of the desk and pull himself up. He tries to run for the door, but Andy is faster.

“You’re pathetic, really you are. Did you actually think you’d get away?” He asks as he grabs the collar of Eddie’s shirt and yanks him back. Eddie takes a few steps back and almost falls, but Andy’s hands are on his waist. He shoves Eddie against the wall.

“Please, just let me go! I won’t tell anyone,” Eddie pleads, his voice cracking.

“You’re not going anywhere until I’m finished with you.”


Waylon doesn’t realize that he’s been bouncing his leg up and down until he feels Jeremy’s hand on his thigh.

“Are you okay?” He asks, tilting his head to the side as he looks at Waylon.

“Oh- uh- yeah, I’m good, I’m okay. To be honest, I’m just feeling a little nervous,” Waylon admits, looking around Jeremy’s living room to avoid looking him in the eyes. It’s large, and a little intimidating. The tv is mounted to the wall with a large entertainment center underneath it, filled with different devices. There was another leather couch adjacent to the one the two were sitting on, as well as a glass coffee table in the center. It all looked incredibly expensive. Waylon almost didn’t trust himself around everything, worried he might ruin it. Being with Jeremy kinda made him feel like a child. Jeremy was in his early thirties and massively successful, and Waylon was only nineteen. The age gap was glaringly obvious when they were together.

Waylon didn’t mind it though. Being with Jeremy made him feel okay. It made him feel good. That was all that mattered.

Jeremy moves his hand from Waylon’s thigh and locks their fingers together. Waylon looks over to him and smiles.

“If you’re uncomfortable being here,” he starts to say, but Waylon interrupts.

“We’ve been seeing each other for almost two months, I think it’s time I start being okay at your place,” Waylon replies.

Jeremy looks at Waylon for a second before gently pulling him closer onto the couch. Waylon’s heart skips a beat because he thinks that maybe, finally they’ll kiss, but Jeremy does nothing more after pulling Waylon closer. It’s almost frustrating to Waylon. He wanted to be kissed. He wanted to be wanted. He wanted to feel loved by somebody else, but besides keeping Waylon close and holding his hand, Jeremy still wouldn’t show him any affection.

Waylon wants to ask him why, but decides not to press him for details. It was probably good for Waylon too. He didn’t need to rush into a new relationship.

The two sit their and continue to watch the movie, but Waylon doesn’t really focus on it. He focuses on the warmth of Jeremy’s body. It’s nice. Somehow, he felt warmer than Eddie had in the months before Waylon left him.

When the movie finishes Waylon checks his watch.

“Crap, I better get going. Don’t want to be late for work,” Waylon says with a sigh before standing up off the couch.

“Alright. I’ll see you later, Waylon,” is all Jeremy says in response.

Waylon stands there awkwardly for a moment longer before turning to leave.

When he gets to the diner he finds his black apron in the backseat of his car and ties it around his waist as he walks to the front doors. Fortunately the dress code for work was pretty laid back, black pants, a white shirt and his apron. Most of Waylon’s clothes fit that description.

As he pushes open the doors to the diner he’s greeted by the smell of food and grease. In the month he’d be working there he’d grown to find the smell almost comforting. His job was actually enjoyable. He didn’t get angry customers and his boss was gracious and he was starting to make friends with some of his coworkers.

“Hey, Waylon. How’s it going?” Amelia asks as she approaches him.

“Well enough,” Waylon answers, unintentionally sighing a bit as he answers.

“Doesn’t sounds like it. Are you still having boyfriend troubles?” She inquires as she puts away some menus in her hand.

“Yes and no. Things are going good, I think. But he still hasn’t kissed me,” Waylon answers. The doors open as some customers walks in.

“We’ll continue this conversation later,” Amelia says, walking back into the dining room.

Waylon greets the customers and takes them to their table before going back up to the podium in the front room. A few minutes later Amelia comes back.

“So still no kissing, huh? That’s a bummer. Maybe he’s totally damaged,” Amelia jokes.

“No I don’t think so. He has his shit together and he’s successful. I think if there were any emotional issues they’d be apparent by now,” Waylon replies.

“How old is he again?”

“32,” Waylon answers hesitantly.

“Yikes maybe that’s the problem. You’re dating a guy twice your age,” Amelia’s teases.

“It’s really not that big of a deal. I mean, maybe if he was rushing things and being extremely sexual then that’d be a red flag but the fact that he’s not rushing anything really negates the age gap,” Waylon defends.

“Yeah I guess so. And I mean if he makes you happy, then that’s all that really matters. I gotta go check on my tables.”

The rest of Waylon’s shift goes by slowly which gives Waylon too much time to think. He can’t shake the feeling that he wants to be in a serious relationship with Jeremy simply to forget about Eddie and to avoid dealing with his feelings. He shouldn’t be trying to move on from Eddie so quickly. Guilt is overwhelming him and when he’s clocked out for the day he drives over to Jeremy’s house.

“Waylon. What are you doing here?” He asks, looking a little confused. Waylon stutters a bit, trying to reply, but he can’t get any words out. After a few moments he gives up and grabs Jeremy’s chin, pulling their lips together. Jeremy stiffens up and then gives into the kiss. When they pull apart, Waylon lets out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding in.

“Where did that come from?” Jeremy questions.

“I was tired of waiting for you to kiss me first.” I wanted to ignore my thoughts.

Jeremy laughs softly before inviting Waylon in.

“Would you like to come up to my bedroom?”

“Yes.” No. I shouldn’t be here.

Jeremy grabs Waylon’s hands and leads him up the staircase and down the hall. There are several closed doors that they pass before they get to the one at the very end of the hallway.

Inside the room there’s a large bed with a grey comforter resting on top. The ends have been tucked tightly between the mattress and frame so that not a single crease is on top. To the left of the room is an armchair with a white fur rug resting in front of it and a small wet bar next to it. On the right is a door open a crack to reveal the master bathroom and a large dresser pushed up against the wall.

“Do you want me to kiss you again?” Jeremy asks, gently grabbing one of Waylon’s forearms to pull him closer.

“Yes.” No.

Jeremy kisses Waylon softly. Everything about it is different from his kisses with Eddie. It feels so foreign. His lips are cold and a little rough. When Jeremy’s tongue pushes into Waylon’s mouth the taste is unfamiliar. Despite this, Waylon enjoys the kiss. He enjoys feeling wanted.

Jeremy’s hands move to Waylon’s waist, pulling him closer. Waylon can’t help but push his hips forward more, beginning to feel more desperate for Jeremy’s touch.

It’s wrong. You shouldn’t be here.

Waylon ignores his thoughts and pushes his hips into Jeremy’s again, softly moaning this time. His jeans start to feel tight, too tight. Jeremy gently pushes Waylon back until they reach the end of the bed.

“Lay down,” Jeremy says between kisses. Waylon sits on the edge of the bed and then slowly lays back. Jeremy begins to undress and Waylon hesitantly does the same. His mind keeps screaming at him to stop, that it’s wrong, but Waylon ignores it. He wants this.

When they’re both naked Jeremy gets on top of Waylon.

“Have you done this before?” He asks.

“Yes.” With my ex fiancé who I left less than three months ago.

“Do you still want to do this?”

“Yes.” But I shouldn’t want to.

Jeremy takes a moment to adjust himself before slowly pushing into Waylon.

“Is that okay?” Jeremy asks. Waylon nods. Jeremy begins to go faster and Waylon can’t help but moan.

“Just like that,” Waylon manages to say. It feels different with Jeremy, not just physically. Maybe it was because with every bit of pleasure he felt there was guilt that came along with it. When Waylon starts to reach his climax he feels like a monster. Jeremy continues for several more minutes after.

It was never like that with Eddie. Eddie had always been good at picking up on signs that Waylon was close and making adjustments so that they finished close together. That was comfortable for Waylon. He felt awkward waiting for Jeremy. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do. Wait patiently? Cheer him on? Waylon has to bite his lip to keep from laughing at that thought. Fortunately Jeremy doesn’t notice.


When Waylon wakes up he’s almost disappointed that it’s not in Jeremy’s arms. Instead the older man is sleeping near the edge of the bed with his back to Waylon. Waylon lays in bed for a few more moments before getting up to pee. While washing his hands after Waylon is tempted to snoop through the medicine cabinet. He looks through the doorway back into the bedroom. Jeremy appears to still be sleeping soundly.

Waylon carefully pulls the mirror and opens the cabinets. The contents are underwhelming. On the top shelf is a jar of hair gel and a comb, on the middle shelf is a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste, and on the bottom shelf are a few bottles of cologne. Nothing particularly interesting. In the cabinets under the sink are some folded towels and rolls of toilet paper.

Waylon walks back to the bedroom and finds his pants, pulling them on before going downstairs. He makes his way too the kitchen, looking through a few cabinets before finding a glass. As he gets some water he debates whether it would be rude to make himself something to eat. His stomach growls and makes the decision for him. To Waylon’s disappointment the fridge is mostly empty except for a bottle of some sort of expensive looking wine. He opens a door next to the refrigerator which he assumes to be a pantry and is met with similar emptiness. The only thing on the shelves is an unopened box of protein bars. The expiration date says 2014. Waylon knew that Jeremy was out of town quite often for business trips but he didn’t expect things to be so unlivable.

Waylon sighs and walks back to the living room, sitting down on the couch and turning on the tv. A little later Jeremy comes down the stairs, already dressed in a navy blue suit.

“Good morning, Waylon. I wasn’t sure if you’d run off. I have to be to the airport by eleven so I have to run, but you’re welcome to stay here until you leave for work, although I don’t have much in the way of food,” Jeremy says as he walks into the living room. It feels too formal.

“Oh, yeah I noticed. Where are you going?” Waylon asks, trying to make polite conversation. He starts to feel a little anxious, thinking about what happened last night.

“I’ll be in Reno for a few days,” he answers, walking to the kitchen.

“Weren’t you out of town like three days ago?” Waylon asks when Jeremy comes back.

“Yes, my job requires a lot of travel.”

“What exactly do you do?”

Jeremy hesitates before answering, like he’s trying to think of an answer.

“I work for a pharmaceutical company, I help distribute the, uh, the product,” he answers unconvincingly.

“Well I hope you have a safe flight,” Waylon finally replies after a moment.

“Thank you,” Jeremy replies, grabbing his keys from the coffee table. He pauses briefly before leaning down to kiss Waylon. It’s short, and it feels different from last night, more forced.

Waylon lets out a sigh once Jeremy leaves. He goes back upstairs and takes a quick shower before getting dressed again.

You shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t have slept with him. You’re selfish.

Waylon tries to ignore his thoughts but they won’t stop.

You hurt Eddie. You’re disgusting. You betrayed him.

“He betrayed me!” Waylon yells out. Tears start to fall down my face. “He betrayed me,” he repeats, his voice coming out as just a whisper this time.

Waylon runs out of the house, slamming the door behind him. He keeps running down the street, not sure where he’s going, desperate to escape the shouting in his head. When his lungs are burning and his legs get shaky Waylon stops. He leans forward with his hands on his knees and heaves, though nothing comes up. When his stomach calms down and his breathing steadies he walks. He walks so long that he doesn’t realize the sun has started setting until it starts to get dark. His stomach is growling and his mouth feels dry. The whole time that he was walking he couldn’t get his mind off Eddie.

Nothing could get his mind off Eddie.

 

Chapter Text

I scream, you scream, we all scream

'Cause we're terrified of what's around the corner

We stay in place cause we don't wanna lose our lives

So let's think of something better

 

Waylon drums his fingers against his steering wheel nervously as he drives to Jeremy’s house. They hadn’t seen each other or talked much since they had sex. The silence was driving Waylon mad. He didn’t know if it was because he had done something wrong or because that was just how Jeremy was.

As he pulls into Jeremy’s driveway he gets butterflies in his stomach, the bad ones.

Eddie didn’t make you feel like this.

Yes he did.

You should have been able to get past that, you’re weak.

Going all the way with Jeremy had also added fuel to the arguing in his thoughts. He was a bad person for leaving Eddie, but it was justified, but he should have fought harder. It was a never ending cycle. Waylon desperately wanted it to end, but he didn’t know how. He couldn’t figure out how to clean up the mental turmoil he was trudging through.

Waylon let’s out a long sigh as he turns off the ignition and opens the car door to get out. After locking it behind him he continues up the driveway to the front door. He hesitantly knocks on the door. Jeremy had invited Waylon over, but still, he felt like he shouldn’t be here.

That’s because you shouldn’t be here.

Jeremy answers the door a few moments later.

“Good evening, Waylon. Please come in,” he greets, gesturing for Waylon to step inside. After Jeremy shuts the door behind Waylon, he places one of his hands on the small of the younger man’s back. Then he slowly brings their lips together.

Despite the obligatory feelings of guilt that come with it, Waylon enjoys the kiss. He enjoys that Jeremy wants to kiss him.

When Jeremy pulls away he continues to the couch. Waylon follows behind him and sits.

“I don’t mean to be forward, but there’s a conversation we need to have,” Jeremy says suddenly once they’re both settled on the couch. Anxiety starts to build inside of Waylon again as he waits for the older man to continue.

“As you know, I travel for business quite often. And that makes relationships quite difficult. It’s why I don’t really bother with them. It’s also why I was hesitant to continue things with you. I can only offer you things. A place to stay, a bed, money, and sex. I know you said you’re not looking for anything serious, but I want to make it clear that if we continue whatever this is, there won’t be romantic date nights. There won’t be flowers or chocolates. There won’t be nights spent cuddling on the couch. It would be purely sexual. I just want to make sure you understand that.”

Waylon blinks a few times as he processes the load of information that’s just been dumped on him.

“Oh,” is the first thing out of his mouth. He feels a bit hurt. Why should he? He was the one to instigate a relationship with the expectation that it wasn’t going to be serious.

“I just- I think I’m going to need some time to think this over, y’know. I just, having it all presented to me in that way, it changes things,” Waylon stutters, rubbing his hands on his jeans.

“I understand that. Try not to take too much time deciding,” Jeremy replies.

Waylon stands up awkwardly before walking away without saying anything. When he gets back to his car he calls up Lisa. They hadn’t talked in several months, and he was in desperate need of her company.

“Hey, Lis, call me back when you get this. We need to hang out so I can process what the fuck just happened with you,” Waylon says after the call goes to voicemail. Then he puts his phone back into his pocket and drives to his motel. She calls him back as he’s getting out of his car and half an hour later she’s at his door with two pints of Ben and Jerry’s.

“Thought you could use some ice cream therapy,” Lisa says when Waylon opens the door.

“That sounds pretty good right about now,” Waylon replies as he lets her in.

“So how have you been?” She asks as she flops down onto the bed.

“Not great, but I’m managing. I just feel so conflicted all the time, like, I hate Eddie for what he did but part of me still loves him and misses him. I just feel like I can’t ever get my brain to shut up and make up its mind about how I feel. And then there’s everything going on with Jeremy,” Waylon explains sitting on the other bed in the room with a sigh. Lisa raises her eyebrows.

“Jeremy? Haven’t heard about him. Do tell,” she replies, handing Waylon one of the containers of ice cream.

“Okay, so he’s older, like a lot older. We met when Eddie and I were still dating and living in Colorado. He gave me his number because I didn’t really know how to say no, and then about a month after leaving Eddie I remembered I still had it and I called him up. I told him I wasn’t looking for anything too serious, and he was okay with that and I thought I was too, but then today,” Waylon starts to say.

“Ooh, what happened today?”

“Well, he told me that if our relationship continues it will be purely sexual, which is I guess nothing serious, but I miss what I had with Eddie. That’s what I want,” Waylon finishes. Lisa ‘hmms’ as she thinks about a response for a minute.

“Okay, time to bust out the yellow legal pad and do a pros and cons list,” she finally says. Waylon gives her a small laugh.

“What are you, Ted Mosby? Please tell me you did not actually bring ‘a yellow legal pad’.”

“No, I didn’t actually bring one, duh. But seriously, pros and cons. Give me some pros,” she insists.

“Well, there’s, there’s sex, which y’know, obviously not a con,” Waylon starts. “And, I mean, he’s nice, he’s not a bad guy. I like being with him, it makes me feel good, but at the same time it makes me feel guilty to be with him, and I don’t know if I’d be okay not having a serious relationship with him.”

“That’s two each. So I guess the real question is, is the sex good enough to win you over?” Lisa asks. Waylon feels his cheeks warm up at he blushes a bit.

“It’s definitely not bad. It was kinda awkward, at least for me, because it was so different from what I had with Eddie, but, I liked it. God, this feels so weird to talk about with you,” Waylon answers, hiding his face in his hands as he laughs.

“Relax, you know I’d never judge you. I certainly don’t have any room to judge when it comes to being promiscuous. I’ve brought my fair share of guys home these past few months,” she admits with a shrug.

“That is actually a bit of a relief, now I know that at least I’m better than you,” Waylon teases.

“Oh shut up,” she replies, throwing a pillow at Waylon. He barely leans over in time to dodge it and the two fall into a fit of laughter afterwards.

“God, I’ve missed hanging out with you, I’m sorry I fell out of touch,” Waylon apologizes when they’ve both caught their breath.

“It’s okay, I get it, you’ve been going through a lot. Just don’t do it again, or I’ll hunt you down and keep you locked up in my basement so you can’t abandon me again,” She jokes, pointing her spoon at him. Waylon just rolls his eyes.



Eddie looks around his apartment as a wave of nostalgia rolls over him. He walks over to the sliding door to the balcony and looks out to Denver. It brought him a small amount of relief to be out of New York. He could breathe just a little bit easier knowing he no longer shared the same zip code or state boundaries as, him. Eddie can’t even bring himself to think of the name of his attacker.

He takes a deep breath and goes to the bedroom, inspecting every inch of the empty room. The tenants that they had sublet the apartment to took good care of it, and as luck would have it, their contract ended just in time for Eddie to flee from New York and the parasite that called it home.

Eddie rubs his thumb harshly against his arm and the healing cuts that rested on his skin, trying to focus on the sensation and ignore his thoughts. He just couldn’t get it out of his head. It seemed like his heart was constantly racing, his body was constantly sweating. Even now, safe in his old apartment, Eddie was scared. He was terrified. It was a complete loss of control. The only thing that brought the feeling any semblance of relief was to harm himself. In a sense, he was taking control back by being his own source of pain.

The only other thing that could possibly make him feel better was to drink, but there was no way he’d ever touch another drop of the stuff. How could he? If he hadn’t been drunk, he would have been able to keep Andy off of him. If only he’d just stopped drinking for good the first time. None of this would have happened.

It’s all my fault.

Eddie walks out to the balcony and watches everyone walking down on the streets. He desperately wishes he could be one of those people, carrying on through their day like their entire world isn’t crashing down on top of them. Eddie could never be one of those people again. Even when Waylon left, he still found a way to get up and do something with himself, but now it was different. Any one of those people down there could try to hurt Eddie again, and they could look like the most normal person. How could he function as a person knowing that?

Eddie turns from the edge of the balcony. He couldn’t even people watch without being haunted by his trauma. He grabs his two suitcases from by the front door and pulls them into the bedroom and starts hanging his clothes up in the closet. He focuses on the feeling of the fabric beneath his fingers, the slight clink as he places the hangers back onto the pole, the strong perfume of detergent and fabric softener.

When it happened, Eddie had walked straight home, fighting back tears and the heave of his stomach. He washed every single piece of fabric in his apartment three times with excessive amounts of detergent and fabric softener. Every single time he worked with Andy, Eddie had brought little pieces of him back, little particles. Then he scrubbed everything that couldn’t be washed. Andy had come over, they’d sat on the couch together. It all needed to be cleaned. Every inch. His hands started to bleed because they were so dried out from all the chemicals exposure. His knees were bruised from how much time he spent kneeling down to clean the floors.

It wasn’t enough, and Eddie moved, only taking his clothes back with him.

Eddie slams his fist into the closet door in frustration. He couldn’t even put his clothes away without being reminded of what happens. Eddie leaves the bedroom and walks to the living room, laying down on the floor. He stretches his arms out, closes his eyes, and takes a few deep breaths, trying to ground himself. He focuses on the feeling of the carpet beneath him and how it’s the only thing behind him.

I guess not everything at Mount Massive was a total load of shit, Eddie thinks to himself as he slowly starts to feel more relaxed. As he continues to breathe deeply he feels himself falling asleep. Unfortunately, his dreams are not as forgiving and he wakes up a few hours later in a cold sweat.

Eddie sits up suddenly, looking around the dark and empty room. He starts to fill with panic as he remembers the tight grip Andy had on his jaw. Eddie stands up and stumbles through his apartment to his suitcase. He can still feel the fear as Andy yanked down his pants. Eddie rips through it until he finds a small plastic rectangle, the resting place for his razors. As Eddie runs back to the bathroom he remembers how much it hurt. Andy’s sickening grunts echo in his mind.

“No, stop it, just shut up, shut up, please!” Eddie shouts as he slides one of the blades out of the container and takes it out of the wrapper.

You don’t know how badly I’ve wanted to take you like this, how much I’ve dreamed about fucking you. You finally gave me the perfect chance.

Eddie looks at his arm. A small spray of blood comes out of one of the cuts with every beat of his heart. He can feel the lower half of his arm start to tingle and go numb.

“Shit,” Eddie mutters as he realizes what he’s done. He hadn’t meant to go so deep, he just needed to bring his mind back to the present.

He stares at his arm in abject horror as he watches the side of the sink slowly become covered in blood. If he just waited, maybe he’d bleed out. The thought tempts Eddie, but finally, after another few minutes of watching his blood slowly spray out of him, he uses his fingers to pinch the wound shut. Blood still continues to leak out as he walks to the bedroom. He grabs the first shirt he sees and wraps it tightly around his arm.

As Eddie walks back to the living room he looks to the clock on the stove in the kitchen. It’s 2:30am. Without a car, Eddie would have to walk to the hospital. He could call an ambulance, but they were expensive and Eddie doesn’t even have health insurance anymore. He could afford it if he really needed to, but he’d rather take his chances.

As Eddie steps outside he prays he doesn’t run into anybody. The streets are mostly empty, with the few people he encounters too focused on their own lives to notice Eddie. He feels his hand holding his shirt in place start to become warm only a few minutes into the walk. As he’s walking through the doors of the emergency room blood has begun to trickle from his hand to his elbow.

The room feels like it’s beginning to spin as Eddie quickly walks up to the admissions desk.

“I need stitches,” he blurts out as he makes eye contact with the nurse at the desk. The nurse is immediately up from his chair and grabs a wheelchair from a row of them against the wall behind the desk.

“Okay, just sit down and we’ll take you back to get someone to look at you,” he instructs.

“I can walk,” Eddie protests, but his body betrays him as he stumbles forward a bit.

“I’m afraid I have to insist, it’s protocol,” he replies.

Eddie slowly walks to the wheelchair and sits down. As the nurse wheels him through the double doors back to the rooms Eddie keeps looking over his shoulders. He can feel his heart rate start to climb knowing that someone is standing behind him.

When he’s settled onto a bed a doctor comes in and sets a tray filled with various tools onto the table next to the bed. Eddie relaxes at the sight of a female doctor.

“Hello, Eddie, I’m Doctor Haylen. I’ll be doing the sutures on your arms. I’m gonna take the shirt off your arm, okay?” She asks in a calm voice as she sits in one of the chairs and pulls Eddie’s arm toward her. Blood is still coming from the wounds, but at a much slower rate.

She starts off with a shot to numb the area, which almost makes Eddie pass out. He sucks in a breath through his teeth and looks away.

“Sorry about that. I’m going to get started, okay? These are pretty bad. Are they self inflicted?”

Eddie nods his head but doesn’t look at her.

“You don’t need to feel embarrassed. You’re not the first patient I’ve had to do sutures on for self harm.”

When she’s finished stitching him up, the hospital psychologist comes in to talk to Eddie.

“I see this isn’t the first time you’ve been brought to the hospital for self harm. I don’t mean to be blunt, but our recommendation is inpatient treatment again. We can’t force you, as I’m sure you know, but we can get it court ordered if we believe you’re an immediate danger to yourself,” she explains after they’ve talked for a few minutes. It only takes Eddie a few seconds to make up his mind.

“I’ll go,” he says quietly.

“I’m glad that you can see you need help. There’s no shame in that. We’ve already found a spot in a facility, the same one you went to before; Mount Massive Recovery.”