Author - Rina
Rating - NC-17
Warning - The following deals with the aftermath of non-consensual sex (ie. blood and shock) and if you are of a sensitive disposition, perhaps you should give this chapter a miss.
Usual disclaimers apply (see chapter 1).
When Richard forces himself to return to the motel room and unlock the door, Justin is still sitting up in the same position as he was when Richard left, blanket wrapped around him like a shroud. Very cautiously, Richard perches on the bed. Justin doesn’t look up.
“Are you all right, Justin?” he asks tentatively. “Do you want me to take you to a hospital?”
“No. I’m fine,” Justin says quietly. “The bleeding stopped.”
Richard crinkles his forehead in concern. “But I...you could have...you might need stitches or something.”
“I’ll be all right.”
“C’mon, man, you really ought to let someone take a look-”
“I said I’m fine, okay?” Justin replies angrily. “I’d go to a doctor if I thought anything was seriously wrong. I do possess some medical knowledge, you know. I’m not dumb, Richard.”
“Hey, hey. I never said that,” Richard answers hastily. “I know you’re not dumb.”
He watches Justin fuming, staring at the wall, not at him.
“Oh Christ, Just,” he says hoarsely. “I didn’t mean...I...I thought you wanted it.”
Justin’s head jerks around. His eyes are incredulous. “What on earth gave you that idea?”
“You made a pass at me,” Richard says in bewilderment.
“No, I didn’t!”
“Yeah, you did,” Richard argues. “C’mon, you were all cuddled up against me like I was a hot water bottle and you were jacking me off. What the hell was I supposed to think?”
Justin turns white. “I did...what?” He searches Richard’s face for the truth. Richard scratches his prickly head, thoroughly confused.
“You mean you don’t remember?”
“Look, whatever I did, I was asleep, okay? I didn’t know what I was doing,” Justin says in his own defence. “And even if I was touching you, Richard, you had no right to just jump on me without asking and...and...”
“Rape you?” Richard grits out, hating himself for doing just that. Justin avoids his gaze again, hugging his knees. Richard looks to the ceiling in overwhelming regret and smothering, choking guilt, as if he is asking God for help. Only he doesn’t believe in God. The only thing he believes in, the only good, pure thing, is sitting on the bed next to him, desecrated and defiled. Ruined by the sin of lust. Richard’s lust. He swallows what feels like a chunk of lead in his throat and replies pleadingly, “I didn’t mean to hurt you, Justin. You’re my best friend, man. I’d never do something like this on purpose. You gotta believe me.”
Justin doesn’t speak for a long time. He stares at the wall, his face unreadable and blank.
“This is my fault,” he says at last, his voice blunt and dull. “This is all my fault.”
“No it’s not!” Richard exclaims, aghast. “Don’t ever say that, Justin! It’s not your fault. It’s mine, okay? Mine.”
“No,” Justin continues deliberately in that same flat monotone. “It was me. I led you on.”
Richard shakes his head vehemently. “Bullshit, you did. I should have known the difference between awake and asleep. I should have at least asked. But I didn’t. I just took. And God, I’m so sorry,” he interjects brokenly. “You have no idea how fucking sorry I am, Justin. I never wanted your first time to be like this.”
Justin keeps staring at the wall, his eyes glazed over and unfocused, eerily still and silent.
“Just, you okay?” Uneasy, Richard touches his friend’s hair, tucking it behind his ear. Justin doesn’t respond, doesn’t even blink. “C’mon man, look at me.”
The other boy doesn’t even seem to hear him. His lips have taken on a bluish tinge and he starts shivering. His skin is cold to the touch. With a curse of acknowledgement, Richard comprehends what is happening. Justin is going into shock, like he did when he got shot. The physical and mental trauma that he has just been through, combined with the loss of God knows how much blood, is too much for the boy to handle. Richard knows that shock can be fatal but he has enough sense to realise that if he takes Justin to a hospital, they’ll get arrested. Even their fake ID won’t save them because DNA doesn’t lie. The authorities have got Justin’s DNA on file and if they take a sample of his blood at the hospital, it won’t be hard to match the kid’s genetic code up with the records. That and the bullet wound scar on his arm will surely get them both caught. And that’s not what they want. But Richard can’t just sit there and do nothing while Justin’s system shuts down. He has to do something. Fast.
Thinking back to the basic principles of first aid, Richard recalls that the first thing he should do is get Justin warm. He puts the plug in the bathtub and starts filling it. Then he goes back to Justin’s side.
“Justin, do you want to have a bath?”
When he gets no reply, Richard says firmly, “You should have a bath. You need to be warmed up. Come on, get up and get in the tub.”
He tugs on Justin’s arm but the second young man doesn’t budge, doesn’t speak, barely even seems to breathe. He just shivers, teeth chattering. Richard swears again. He leans down and takes Justin’s chin in his hand, lifting his head up, endeavouring to get his friend to come back to reality. But Justin’s eyes remain glassy and his face expressionless. He looks right through Richard’s anxious gaze.
“I’m gonna pick you up now and take you into the bathroom, okay?” Richard tells him in a reassuring tone, hiding his gnawing distress. “Don’t freak out on me. I’m not going to hurt you. I’m just trying to help you. All right? Here I go.”
He slips the blanket from Justin’s willowy form and bites back a sob at seeing the towel on the bed under him, soaked in a mixture of blood and semen. The sight is like an acid-tipped arrow in his gut. He kneels on the mattress and slides one arm under Justin’s knees and one around his back. Justin doesn’t resist as Richard hefts him up and carries him into the bathroom, carefully lowering him into the tub. Richard makes sure the water isn’t too hot and turns the faucets off. He rolls his sleeves up, finds a washcloth and one of those tiny little soaps in a packet that all motels have, and proceeds to wash Justin, all the while talking to him, aiming to keep him conscious and aware.
He talks about all the fantastic things they are going to do when they are safely ensconced in another country, about how he has no regrets at leaving home and being on the run, and about how happy he is that Justin is here with him.
“You’re my best buddy in the entire universe, Justin, you know that?” he remarks, stroking the wet washcloth down Justin’s arm, holding his wrist and working the soapy lather around his fingers. When he lets go, Justin’s arm falls limply back into the water. He washes Justin’s chest and belly, then moves on to his feet and legs, erasing the traces of blood from his thighs.
“You’re my amigo, my comrade, mon ami. See, I did learn some French from you. I mean, apart from all the swear words. You know, I’m really glad that I got you as a tutor and not just because you helped me get good grades. I’m glad because otherwise I’d have never known what a cool guy you are. I thought you were going to be a boring geek with no personality.” He chuckles wryly. “Guess you proved me wrong. Once you opened up to me, I was stunned by the thoughts and ideas hiding in that brainy head of yours. We were almost complete opposites but we had so much more in common that I realised. I never thought I’d meet my soul mate in the high school library.” He gently wipes Justin’s smooth, lifeless face, holding his chin up. Richard feels as though he is a nurse, giving a comatose patient a sponge bath. But he knows Justin is in there, listening. He is going to come back. Richard is going make damn sure of that. He’s not losing Justin now.
“I know I’ve never said it before but that’s what I think you are. My soul mate. I also think you’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever met,” he says softly, watching Justin’s eyes for a flicker of emotion, indignation, denial, anything. But he sees nothing. Just two inscrutable pools of blue-grey framed with long lashes, fixed somewhere over his shoulder, at the tiles on the wall. Justin blinks reflexively but didn’t alter his vacant visage.
“And I’m not making fun of you this time, I swear. You know why I tease you so much?” Richard answers his own question. “It’s because I like to watch you blush. It makes you look even prettier. But I know I embarrass you sometimes when I do that shit. Yet I still do it. Geez. I’m such a fucking tool,” he mutters disparagingly, tossing the wet washcloth into the water with a plop. “That’s me. A big stupid, insensitive, self-centred tool.” He sighs heavily, resting his elbows on the edge of the bathtub.
“Why are you friends with me, Justin? You’re so much better than me. Smarter, nicer, calmer, more in control, just about everything I’m not. You know, I’m actually kinda envious of you. You got it all going on, man. But, me?” He shrugs. “I got no clue what I’m doing. Plan B? I’m just making it up as I go along. And I know it’s going to be all right. Because you’re here,” he admits, focusing on Justin’s statue-like face. He waves a hand in front of the other boy’s eyes, gaining no response. “C’mon. Snap out of it, man. Come back here. I can’t do this on my own. I don’t wanna do this on my own. I need you with me, Justin. You hear me? I fucking need you!”
To his dismay, Richard begins to cry, his emotions breaking loose. He sniffs, takes some shaky breaths and calms himself down, wiping his tears away, knowing now is not the time to lose it.
“Sheesh. Sorry about that,” he mumbles. “I’m sure the last thing you want is me bawling all over you like a little girl. I already did that before, outside. Kicked the shit out of a poor, defenceless garbage can too.” He gives a short, bitter laugh. “Yeah. I’m class, all the way, baby.” He fishes the washcloth out of the tub and squeezes the water out of the flannel so it runs in rivulets down Justin’s spine and shoulder blades. Justin has stopped shivering and his lips have flushed back to their normal rose hue. Those are positive signs. He must he halfway to recovery. As Richard continues talking, he scrubs the unresponsive boy’s alabaster back with circular motions.
“What happened before...In bed...” Richard swallows hard, needing to explain himself. “I didn’t do it because you touched me and led me on, like you think you did. You didn’t lead me on, Justin, so stop entertaining that ridiculous notion. You wouldn’t even know to do that. It’s not in your nature. And I didn’t do it because I’m some twisted bastard who enjoys inflicting pain. It wasn’t a power trip thing. It wasn’t because I hadn’t gotten laid for so long and you were the nearest thing to a girl around. Not any of that. Just one reason.”
Richard gulps and sucks in a steadying breath, deciding to tell the truth. He owes Justin that much. “It’s because...because I’m in love with you. And I want you. Always have. When you touched me I was so excited that I didn’t even consider the fact that you might have been sleep-groping. What I did was rash, spur-of-the-moment and completely fucking thoughtless. A massive mistake. I didn’t want to hurt you. I just wanted to make love to you.” Richard pauses.
“No, ‘make love’ isn’t exactly the correct term. That’s not right. It’s...it’s too nice, too gentle. Aw, shit. I just wanted to fuck you. I know that sounds awfully crude, but that’s what I wanted. Christ, I’ve wanted to fuck you since you tutored me, man. Seriously. That long.”
He makes a self-mocking snort. “I have had the hots for you so bad, Pendleton, but being such a spineless wimp, there was no way in hell I was actually gonna do anything about it apart from flirt with you. If I asked you to be my lover, I thought you’d laugh at me and say that I have absolutely no chance of ever getting with the likes of a brilliant genius like you.”
Richard hangs the washcloth on the side of the tub, done with the bathing duties. “No doubt, you’re probably gonna say just that when you stop being coma-boy. But, hey. At least you know now. You know my big, dark, scary secret.” He takes a courageous breath.
“Guess what, Justin? I’m gonna kiss you now. This may be the only time I get to do it. I’m not counting that time when you were shot up and half-dead in the Volvo, because I only did that to wake you up. I’m gonna do it now because I need to. I need to give you a proper kiss. Just once. If you don’t want me to, then you better pull yourself together and stop me. 'Cause, I'm not kidding, dude. I'm gonna do it. I am.”
He cups Justin’s face and stares into his unseeing eyes, seeking a reaction. But he gets none. He slowly lowers his head and presses his mouth against Justin’s. Richard gives him a lingering, tender kiss, relishing the feel of Justin’s red mouth on his own, the pliant flesh beneath his lips spongy as marshmallows and even sweeter. Justin does not kiss Richard back. He doesn’t even bat an eyelid. To Richard, it’s like kissing a beautiful, life-size doll. Reluctantly, he pulls away and lets the other boy go.
“Wow,” he sighs wistfully. “You have the most amazing mouth, you gorgeous son of a bitch. Really you do. Just remember that compliment when you’re hitting me later for taking advantage of you like this.” He stands up and looks down at Justin, sitting there motionless in the bath.
“Can you hang by yourself for a minute? I’m gonna go fix the bed up, all right? Don’t fuckin’ drown on me or I’ll kill you.” He tosses out the warning as he walks through the doorway. Steeling himself for the unpleasant job he has to do, Richard draws the blanket off the bed. The sight of the bloody sheet underneath makes him feel sick and he hastily yanks it off and rumples it up, hiding the red splotch in the centre of the cotton material. He hurls the bundle in a corner, along with the stained towel. In the morning he will throw the linen into the dumpster to save the maid from getting a rude surprise when she goes to wash it after they vacate the room. Briefly, he thinks about trying to get the stain out of the mattress and then changes his mind, flips it over to the unsullied side and remakes the bed with the remaining blankets. He gets some clean clothes out of the bag for Justin. Thankfully, his friend is still alive when he returns to the bathroom and he pulls the plug, forcibly making Justin get out and stand on the mat while he dries the boy off. Justin does so, uncomplainingly, exhibiting none of his characteristic shyness as Richard rubs the towel over his naked skin. He’s probably not even aware of what Richard is doing or if he is, he’s past caring.
This is the first time Richard has seen Justin completely nude and his heart aches at how fragile the second teenager’s slender body is, how he is almost too thin and delicate, how his bones and veins are almost too visible, how his skin is almost too soft and fine. There are already bruises forming on Justin’s white hips and thighs from Richard’s callous handling. Eyeing the fingermarks, Richard bites his lip, wanting to kiss them away. Justin didn’t deserve to be taken like that, so roughly and crudely, like a common whore. He was a virgin, for Christ’s sakes. He deserved to be worshipped and adored, to be made love to with reverence and respect, to be treated like an angel. But Richard will probably never get to do that now. By letting his baser instincts take command, he’s sabotaged any further opportunities of intimacy between himself and his best friend. When he comes out of his shocked state, Justin won’t ever let Richard near him again. Lord, Richard thinks in despair, he has made a giant, fucked-up mess of things. But he vows on his own life that he is going to do all he can to try to fix them. He wraps the towel around Justin’s slim figure, drags on his arm and makes him walk over to the bed and sit down, the silent boy complying like a robot.
Kneeling on the bed next to his patient, Richard embraces him tightly and whispers in his ear, “Come back to me, Justin. Please. I care about you so much. I’m worried about you. I miss you. I...I love you.” He tenderly kisses Justin’s cheek. As if his mind has vanished, Justin just sits there, gazing into space. It is scaring the fuck out of Richard. He doesn’t know what else to do and fights back more hysterical sobbing. He has to be strong. Justin has got to snap out of it sooner or later. He can’t stay like this forever. A terrifying thought enters Richard’s brain.
But what if he does? What if Justin has been irreparably traumatised by the rape and remains mute and uncommunicative, like one of those unblinking patients silently slumped in a plastic chair inside a white-walled psychiatric institution? It takes just one disturbing incident to break a person and change them into a shell of their former self. What if Justin never snaps out of it?
In an instant Richard knows what he’d do. He’d carry out the pact that they never fulfilled. He couldn’t live the rest of his life knowing that it was he who’d done that, who’d driven Justin to insanity by one selfish act. He couldn’t stand seeing Justin this way, like an empty vessel, fading away more and more each day while he has to stand by and watch helplessly, unable to do anything about it. He couldn’t stand never hearing Justin’s poetic voice again, never seeing him smile or laugh or even cry. He couldn’t stand seeing Justin turn into a ghost, a nothing, all his fire and life gone. He’d rather die than see that happen. He would rather shoot Justin and then turn the gun on himself than live with the dreadful knowledge that he broke the one person he loved. He would kill Justin, if need be, not out of cruelty but out of love. To set him free.
But that’s only a last resort. First, he has to give Justin a little time before he starts planning murder-suicide. Richard thinks that he’s probably overreacting, thinking crazy due to stress, due to worrying about Justin’s mental state. Perhaps he just needs to give Justin time to emerge from his trance and speak again. He recalls that Justin was acting strangely after he’d been shot but he returned to normal again so in all likelihood, it will happen like that once more. Richard just needs to be patient and supportive.
“So, do you feel warmer now?” Richard asks brightly, dressing Justin like he is a little boy in a long-sleeve t-shirt and sweat pants. “You look warmer. You’re not as pale. Here, lift up so I can get these on you.”
Justin obediently lifts his bottom up off the mattress so Richard can slip the waistband of the sweat pants up to his hips. He must not be totally switched off if he understands the orders that he’s given. Richard feels better knowing that.
Pulling out a comb, he queries, “Hey Just, you remember when we went to that movie marathon and watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy one after the other? Fuck, our asses were completely dead after sitting for nine hours straight. You didn’t want to come at first in case someone saw us and I had to hold you down with a pair of scissors and threaten to cut all your hair off to make you go. Remember that?”
Justin sits there, now fully dressed, as Richard combs his hair and keeps chattering away, trying to talk about more pleasant things.
“I wouldn’t have really done it, though. I like your hair the way it is, all long and silky.” He lets his fingers slip through the ebony strands. “Even though it’s black now, I still like it. I just wanted you to come with me so I could imagine it was a date. How fuckin’ corny, right? And then we saw Lisa there and we had to duck down behind the seats and hide. You were freaking out and I was laughing at you and you hit me on the arm so hard it left a bruise.” Richard smiles at the memory.
“It was worth it, though. She never saw us and I got to sit next to you all night long and smell your aftershave. God, you smelled good. You didn’t notice this, but I was looking at you in the dark and thinking how much I wanted to kiss you.” Still smiling, Richard twines his fingers with Justin’s limp ones. “But I was content just have you whispering in my ear, discussing how the movies matched up to the books, and enjoyed accidentally-on-purpose brushing your hand when I reached for the popcorn. And then when you let me rest my head on your shoulder, I was in heaven. Did you know how much I liked you back then? Surely you must have known. I was all over you like a swamp leech. Not exactly subtle. Did that bother you?” He looks curiously at Justin’s face to see if he answers but the pale boy shows no outward emotion. Richard sighs and rubs his own face, wearied by the evening’s dramatic events.
“Well, I guess I should let you get some sleep. I’ve talked enough for one night and you’re probably sick of my voice. You can have the bed, okay?” Much like he did the night he dug that bullet out of Justin’s arm, Richard tucks him in under the covers and kisses him on the forehead. Justin lays there with his head on the pillow, eyes still open but not looking at anything. Richard lights a cigarette and sits on the bed, chain-smoking and anxiously observing Justin until the other boy’s lashes flutter shut and his breathing deepens. Satisfied that Justin is properly asleep, Richard stretches out on the carpet beside the bed and sleeps fitfully there, having horrible nightmares about Justin huddled in a padded room with a straightjacket binding his arms, his eyes milky-white and blind and his mouth sewn shut with black string, rocking back and forth in a pool of his own blood.