My head was spinning. I tried opening my eyes, but the lights were so bright I had to shut them almost instantly. And that beeping. It was so fucking annoying. It reminded me of my alarm clock. Maybe it is my alarm clock. I reached out to touch it, and the whole side of my body felt like it went up in flames. "Fuck!" I yelled in a half scream half whimper.
"Sebastian? Sebastian, are you awake?"
It was Eli. I recognized his soothing, angelic voice anywhere. He only talked that way to me, you know. With everyone else, it was always that tough guy voice. That I can kick your ass kind of voice. He didn't use that voice with me anymore.
I held out my hand to cover my eyes, but Eli grabbed it instead. He held it with both hands. I felt my face blush.
"Mhm," I answered.
"How are you feeling?"
"Like I just got the shit kicked out of me. How do I look?"
"Like you just got the shit kicked out of you," he quipped.
I couldn't help but smile. He kissed my hand and I used my thumb to graze over his soft bottom lip. I still can't believe those lips belong to me. Only I will ever get to taste them, to feel them against my own. Mmm.
"Where am I?"
"You're in the hospital. You…," he struggled with the next few words. "You were stabbed, Sebastian. They almost killed you."
"Did the police—" I started to ask, but stopped once I opened my eyes again.
Instead of a face full of bright lights, I saw Eli's silhouette. His features slowly came into focus. There were stitches across his left eyebrow, pretty much cutting it in half. His face was also swollen from the right side. Everything looked purple. His upper lip was bigger than his bottom lip, with a nasty cut lining the corner, and he had a black eye. One of his almond eyes was fiery red.
I wanted to cup his face, to hold him close to me, but I was afraid I was going to hurt him. I pulled his hands closer and he leaned further into the bed. As he moved, though, I could tell he was in pain. His movements were slow, and he clutched his stomach and side as he sat down.
"Are you okay?"
He nodded. "The stitches hurt almost as bad as the cut did." He gently touched at his eyebrow, silently wincing when he accidentally grazed the cut. "The ones on my lip kept coming apart because I was talking so much. They had to take them off and they're going to redo them later on."
"You? Talking a lot?"
"The police, jerk. I had to give them a statement. I also had to talk to the paramedics, and then the nurses, and the doctors."
"Oh, okay. I get it."
"When Matthew sent you a text, I replied and told him what happened, just so that he wouldn't think that you were blowing him off. He actually invited us to go on a double date." Eli's cheeks flushed.
"And you accepted?"
"I kind of didn't have a choice. When he found out it was me texting, he called your phone. I talked to him and apologized for the stuff I did the last time we were in the same room together. So, he said to make up for it, I...we should go out with him and Wesley one night."
"Don't worry. Matty can be pretty conving."
"And then your parents called," Eli added in a low whisper.
"What? My parents? What did they say?"
"They're on their way."
"Sebastian, I wasn't going to lie to them." Wow, I never thought I'd hear him say that. I kind of wish he would have made an exception, though. "Besides, the hospital needed to notify your family anyway. They would have figured it out eventually." Yeah, they would have. Well, at least I have a few days to think about what I'm going to tell them before they get here.
"Did they ask who you were?"
"Yeah, they thought that I was Alan, or something. I probably should have just gone along with it so that I didn't have to tell them the truth. That was so awkward."
"Wait, what truth? The truth about us?" I used my elbows to prop myself up higher, even if it burned. "Eli, you know I haven't told them a thing, right?"
"Don't worry. I didn't tell them either. I just told them about you tutoring me. You know, that and also about how you've sort of helped me out once or twice."
I relaxed a little and he must have noticed because he smiled. His lips puckered twice as big as normal. It looked kind of funny.
"Oww, fuck," he groaned, cupping his mouth. "I have to go rinse again." The cut that lined his lip had reopened. Before I could protest, he got up and walked inside the bathroom.
Just as he did, Alan and Max walked in. They both had these guilty looks on their faces. When they saw that I was awake, though, they flashed their pearly whites.
"Hey, there, buddy," Max said. "How are you doing?"
He was talking to me as if I was five. He might as well have brought balloons and a clown.
"It's me, Max. Remember?"
What the fuck? Is this Days of Our Lives or something? I don't have amnesia.
"This is Alan," he says, stretching out the name so I can hear it better. He even points to him like I'm some kind of moron. Alright, Max. Two can play at that game.
"Do I know you?" I respond.
Max's eyes go wide. Alan's do too, for a moment. Then he gives me the slightest smirk. He knows me too well. How tragic that Max doesn't. He takes a cautious step forward, holding out his hands.
"Dude, it's Max. We hang out together. Don't you remember?"
I shake my head.
"Sebastian, come on."
"Who's Sebastian?" This one seems to do the trick. Max's eyes start to water. I feel like such a jerk, but after everything that I've been through, I need this. I really need this.
"Shit, Alan," Max turns around, the tears fighting to cling on to his eyelashes. "He's messed up pretty bad. That nurse didn't say it was possible, but I knew that…"
Alan waited until Max turned around to look at me before he silently slapped a hand to his forehead and shook his head. Afterward, he looked me in the eye and gave me a much bigger smile.
"Don't worry, man. I'll take care of you. We both will. Alan and I will help you remember everything. You can even move in with me if it gets too hard."
"Max," Alan deadpanned.
"No, Alan. It's only fair. He's our friend. We owe it to him after all the hounding we did."
"I don't know if you're going to mind my girlfriend, though. She tends to snore. Really loud."
"Then dump her," I say, testing the limits of his ignorance.
"Dump her? Wow, I uh…I guess I could tell her that I need a break. I mean, she might listen if I tell her it's because a friend needs me."
Needs me? Alan was about to burst into laughter, but he clasped a hand over his mouth.
"No, I probably shouldn't," obviously rethinking it over. "I think I actually like this one and I don't want to ruin anything."
"You'll find another one," I say.
Max gives me this questionable look. It disappears after a second or two. "Well, I was always popular with the ladies."
To this, Alan scoffs rather loudly. Max turns around and, as if I was deaf, mumbles something along the lines of 'he doesn't remember anyway'.
Popular my ass. As much as I would love to keep this ruse going, it was time to come clean. "Four girls is popular?"
He looks at me, not really sure what I'm talking about.
"Maybe you've dated a lot of girls, but only four of them stuck around if I remember correctly. Dick."
"What the-" Max looks at Alan, who's laughing quite openly now, then back at me. I'm smiling too, but I'm not sure if it shows because my face feels like its covered in some sort of mask. It must be the bandages, though.
"You were lying?"
"Of course, doofus. So, you were willing to give up your life to take care of me? That's incredibly sweet."
"Fuck you, asshole. That was back when I thought you couldn't remember."
Alan just started laughing harder. I tried to as well, but my side hurt too much when my stomach moved, so I just smiled instead.
"That makes no sense whatsoever. You know that right?"
He blows me off, moving away from the bed.
"Hey, bud," Alan says, coming up to me and giving me a hug. "That was brilliant."
"Why thank you. It takes years of practice to harness these skills."
We start laughing again, and eventually, Max comes in close and gives me a hug. As he's bending over, I can see Eli's reflection from the bathroom mirror. His head is leaning against the door, but he seems conflicted about stepping outside. I take it they haven't actually bonded yet.
"So, kickboxer, when did they say you could check out of this place?" Max asks, punching me lightly on the shoulder.
I ignore the nickname. "I don't know. The nurses haven't come in yet to check on me. I just woke up."
"Seriously? Man, that's something. If I was out for two days I'd—"
"Yeah, Rocky. You've been unconscious for a while. Then you went into surgery for a couple of hours, internal bleeding…blah blah blah, and here you are."
What. The. Fuck.
"Max, why don't you go talk to the nurse? Ask her when Sebastian can check out of here."
With a shrug, Max nods and leaves the room. Eli had turned off the lights in the bathroom while their backs were turned. No one seems to have noticed yet. I hope Alan doesn't have to take a leak any time soon.
"So, you're feeling okay?"
I nod. Then I point to my IV. "I think this one has the good drugs."
Alan smiles, but then his face goes serious. "You gave us quite a scare there. Even before you got hurt. I mean, you stuck your neck out for that kid. You jumped the guy, knowing that he was armed and that he was doped out of his mind. Fuck, I've never been so worried in my whole life."
Hearing those words makes me feel really shitty about not telling him about Eli. I mean, I already felt like shit, physically, but now this just added a whole new level…of shit.
"I know this is probably not the best time, but…can I ask you a question, about him?"
Him. It looks like this is it. Time to come clean. I shouldn't have to hide who I am from my best friend. I need to face this because it's not going to be getting any easier. My parents are probably already here by now.
"Sure. Ask away."
"Is there something going on between you two?" Alan looks in my eyes for a moment, before turning away and looking at his shoes.
"Yes," I answer as plainly as possible. My eyes drift toward the open bathroom door, but I can't make out if Eli's watching or not. He can definitely hear me though. I'm almost certain.
"Oh," is the first response to my bluntness. "Okay. Um…how long has it been going on?"
Another question, another answer. Come on Sebastian, don't back down now.
"A week. Sort of."
"A week? Didn't you…I mean, didn't you just meet him. I remember you blew off my invite that one time because you said you were with a new client. It was him, wasn't it?"
This time I just nod.
"So you just met him and you started going out?"
I nod again. "There was a lot more that happened in between." A LOT more.
"How long have you been gay?"
"Um…I don't. I mean, I'm not really sure if—"
"Because you are right? I mean, that's what we're talking about here. You're dating this kid Eli."
"He's not a kid. He just looks a lot younger than he really is. He's actually about to turn eighteen." For some reason, I could answer anything he asked about Eli. It was just the questions about me that I was struggling with.
"You're dating him?"
"Yes," I confirmed.
"Which means you're gay."
"I guess so."
"Is he the first one?"
"The first what?" My face is starting to flush. Stop thinking about sex, Sebastian. Stop thinking about sex. Alan definitely notices because his eyes go wide and his cheeks turn red.
"No! I didn't mean…I don't want to know about that. What I meant was, is he the first person you've gone out with?"
"Oh. Shit, Alan, you've got to be more specific. Yes. Before Eli, I was as straight as they come. I went out with girls just the same as you did. I didn't lie about that stuff. Not any of it. Alright?"
He nodded. "And this isn't just some…trial thing? You aren't just experimenting?"
"No." There's no way I'd give Eli up. Not now. Not ever.
"So if you were to meet a girl that—"
"It won't happen, Alan."
"But what if she—"
"Alan, I'm in love with him. Love, love. The forever kind." When he doesn't ask me anything else right away, I turn the tables. "Am I still your friend?"
"Of course," he says without hesitation. "You're my best friend."
"And you accept me for who I am? Eli too?"
"I think so. I mean, it shouldn't make a difference, you know? You found somebody and I should be happy for you. I am. It's just...we never kept any secrets between us. We used to tell each other everything."
"We still can. We'll just start over. Starting right now. I'll even go to your parties again, as long as Eli can come too. No more excuses. I promise. Deal."
He smiles, and it looks sincere, but doesn't say anything right away. When he's about to speak, Max walks back in.
"Hey, bro. Doc says you're going to be able to leave tomorrow afternoon if everything checks out well, just so long as you come back for some more tests and checkups next week and the week after."
"That sounds great," Alan says, taking a step back. He still looks like he's mulling over his thoughts, but I think we've made a lot of progress. "So then you're coming, right?"
"To my parents anniversary. It's their 30th. You have to be there. They've already asked for you."
Yes. Definitely. "I'll be there."
"And you can bring a date," he says in a subtle tone so that Max doesn't realize who he's referring too. "Well, you're probably still tired, or high from the drugs, so we should probably let you rest."
I let out a chuckle that I regret almost instantly. Max looks like he wants to protest, but Alan shuts him up by pushing him toward the door. They both say goodbye, and then walk out the door.
Well that went well. I actually don't feel tired at all. And if I was asleep for two days, than I don't want to waste another one 'resting' in bed. I need a distraction, and I'm dating the perfect one. I try and give Eli a few seconds to come out of the bathroom on his own, but he doesn't. The lights don't even turn on. I know he's in there, though.
"Well," I say, making sure it's loud enough for him to hear me. "I could really use some comforting from my boyfriend right about now."
I hear a snicker, then the light turns on.
"You're an asshole," he says, smiling under his fat lip.
"An asshole in love," I answer. I don't care how painful his injured lips look; I still want to taste them before I turn out for the night. It's too bad I probably have dragon breath right now.
He reaches my bed and sits down on the edge. My greed self-activates and I pull him closer so that my head is resting in the crook of his neck. I inhale his sweet scent and then plant a few gentle kisses near his birthmarks.
"Mmm," he moans. "That still hurts, you know."
"Hey, I took a knife for you," I jest, returning to my kisses. He laughs against me, his chest pressing into mine. The fire in my side starts up again. The painful kind. I don't want to let him go, though, so I try to pretend it doesn't hurt. "Take a knife for a guy and this is how he treats you…"
"Shut up," he answers playfully. "It wasn't even that big a knife. I've got several much larger than that one."
"Trust me, I know. I've seen your room."
"Are you sure I'm not hurting you?"
When I shake my head, he pulls away to read my face. The pain, I guess, is evident. He rolls off of me, clutching at his side again.
"What happened to you?"
"It's from when he kicked me. He almost broke my ribs. The doctor says they can't do much. I just need to rest and they should heal on their own. He told me not to put too much pressure on them."
"I guess you'll have to ride on top then," I say, with a mischievous smile on my face. It takes him all but two seconds to catch on to what I'm talking about. He smiles wide, and then winces and cups his mouth again.
"Shit!" he mumbles.
I know I shouldn't, but I kind of want to laugh at this. He motions with his thumb like he's going to go to the bathroom again, but I stop him by tugging on his wrist.
"Eli, I'm really glad that you're okay. I…for a moment back there, when they were standing over you, I thought that…" I can't even bring myself to say it, so I don't. "I love you, Eli."
His eyes tear up almost instantly. He's still cupping his mouth, but I can tell he's smiling under there. When he winces again, I know for sure.
As he's in the bathroom again, rinsing the blood from the reopened cut on his lip, I start thinking about Alan and Max. All my friends, really. I wish I could just give Alan the task of telling everyone for me. About Eli. That would make things so much easier. He's kind of like the group leader. Everyone loves him. He could tell them that I was Hitler's reincarnation, and they'd probably throw me a welcome back party.
That's not gonna happen, though. This is my responsibility. I'm going to have to do it myself, when I'm ready. Although, my family is going to have to come first. I'm not terribly worried. I know my parents love me. Same goes for my brother and sister. I know we'll be able to work this out.
"I love you too," Eli says, walking out the door with a paper towel pressed against the side of his mouth.
"You what?" I cup a hand over my ear, pretending like I couldn't hear him. He flicks me off.
Even that's turning me on. "I really really want to kiss you right now," I inform him. "But I'm injured. And I think I have dragon breath."
"I didn't want to say anything," he jests. At least I hope it was a jest. Then he digs his hand into his pocket and tosses me a stick of gum.
My shoddy reflexes miss it completely and it hits me across the face, falling to the floor. Eli giggles in that boyish voice that makes him sound like a kid again. He pulls out another one, unwraps it and brings it toward my lips. I stick my tongue out; but right before he lets it go, he stops, snickers, and pops it in his mouth.
I give him a dirty look. Eli leans in closer. He pecks me on the nose and then breathes the bubbly spearmint in my face. He digs his hand into his pocket and pulls out the entire packet. He looks at it, then at me, and makes a face. It's empty.
When I get out of here, I swear I'm going to chain him to the bed. I will have the last laugh.
"So this is the forever kind of love," he whispers into my ear, shattering my concentration completely, along with my thirst for vengeance.
I nod, reaching out to touch him. His skin still feels so soft, so warm.
"I could live with that."
This has truly been a rewarding experience. Writing for you guys has really helped me in so many ways. I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am for all of this. Looking at the stats for this story is just unbelievable. Thousands of visitors have checked out my story. I can't be certain if they've all stayed with me for the long haul, but just the fact that they took the time to read at least one chapter means the world to me.
I know I might get some feedback for ending it like this. But, to me, it just felt right. I don't believe in endings where all the characters' problems are solved and peace and harmony are bestowed upon humanity. This just felt more real. Kind of :) Who knows, maybe someday there'll be an epilogue...
Well, I was not expecting to write a story like this one. I was actually thinking it was going to be about ten or twelve chapters, tops. I never expected this. I never expecting 100,000+ words. lol You all just inspired me to write so much and to keep updating as often as possible. I'm sorry I haven't gotten a chance to respond to any comments. I swear, any comments that are left for this chapter will receive a reply. (I feel confident in my ability to send them now)
Those of you who have commented time and time again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
As for what's next, the sky's the limit. I'm still kicking around that other story that I've wanted to tell for some time. Maybe I'll go do that.
Once again, thank you to everyone for reading.