Love in Chains Ch. 08byNephylim©
Nye watched the retreating back with wide eyes, unconsciously plucking at his sleeve. He felt... numb. Excitement, nervousness, eagerness, fear and, yes desire warred within him to the extent that, given his already fragile state, the net result was nothing, a deep empty numbness. He did pull himself up a little straighter in the seat, made an effort, despite the pain, to straighten his spine and he nervously ran his hands through his hair, wishing he had had opportunity to put on his usual cosmetic mask. Now, with his face naked he had nothing to hide behind.
The first moment he saw him, head and shoulders above everyone else, his blonde hair, longer than Nye remembered, catching the light from the two enormous circular windows which surmounted the door, he audibly gasped.
Nye jumped guiltily and looked up into Jon's face. The hand that took the glasses from the tray was visibly shaking.
"Yes, I... um..." He swallowed a mouthful of brandy. "I haven't seen him for a while." Did he imagine a slight tightening of Jon's lips even though his face remained impassive?
"Enjoy your afternoon. Adam will be busy until at least three." Nye's eyes widened and Jon smiled, taking the mainly untouched plate from the table in front of him. He gulped down more brandy to cover his confusion. "Watch that brandy. It's a killer on an empty stomach."
With another friendly smile Jon whirled and was gone to be replaced moments later by someone very, very different.
"Hey dude. This place is like Fort Knox to get into. Are they keeping us out or you in? Whassa guy gotta do to get a drink around here?"
Nye stared as Kane slid into the seat opposite him. As he did so their knees touched briefly and Nye jumped, immediately regretting it as it sent pain stabbing up through his stomach. Feeling nauseous for a number of reasons, only some of them physical he took a swig of his brandy and slid the whisky across the table to Kane.
Closing his eyes as he sipped Kane broke into a broad smile that made Nye shiver. He took another gulp and realised with surprise that his glass was empty.
"Do you want another drink?" Surprised that his voice was steady despite everything, he followed with a smile.
"Woah. Hold on there buddy. I only just started this one. A guy could get the impression that you were trying to get him drunk."
"Why would I do that?"
Kane laughed out loud and drained the glass. "Go on then. Never let it be said that I fell behind in drinking contest with you. Never have; never will."
The soft American accent was doing strange things to his libido and his equilibrium but he found himself relaxing despite himself, whether through Kane's easy friendly manner or the effects of the brandy or both.
"So it's a competition now is it?"
Kane laughed again. "If it had been midnight and not noon I would have taken ya up on it but I have a hot date tonight and I need to remain reasonably sober."
Nye's heart plummeted but he tried to stay nonchalant. "Hot date?"
"Yeah. I'm taking Vicky up The Eye."
Nye's eyes widened for a moment then he laughed out loud. Vicky was Kane's cousin; an all American cheerleader type from California, who Nye had a real soft spot for. His eyes turned wistful for a moment.
"Is she still with that football player, meat head, jock, bastard?"
Kane's smile faded. Nye thought it was because of his concern for Vicky, but that was only part of the reason. Although Nye didn't realise it Kane had been quick to note the wince, and the hand pressed against his belly, not to mention the dark shadows around his sunken, glassy eyes.
"Yeah. He's a bully. I swear he hits her and if I ever find out for sure I'm gonna knock his ugly jock head right off his shoulders."
"That's a bit harsh from a peace loving dude like you."
"Harsh isn't the word. Vicky's changed. It's as if he has crushed the life right out of her. I'm sure he's hitting her but she swears he isn't. He was none too pleased about her coming here at all. Thank god he couldn't come because if he had I think I would have hit him the minute I saw her." He frowned again and shook his head. "You should see her Nye."
"I'm sorry about that Kane. It's a real shame. She's a great girl."
"Yes, yes she is."
Nye turned away for a moment to call over one of the attendants who was clearing a table nearby. "Can we get some more drinks please? Could you tell Jon I'll revert to my usual? Thanks." When he turned back Kane was watching him with a strange expression on his face.
"You should come over. Vicky likes you. She keeps asking about you. She wanted to come this afternoon but Mom has her doing some shopping so I'm not likely to see them for hours."
"I... maybe. How long is she over here for?"
"I'm going back up North next Saturday. She's staying on a couple of days with Mom and then going home."
"I was wondering what you were still doing around here."
"Well... I've been away, to the States, and I made sure I handed in all my assignments before I went so all I'm needed there for are the actual exams." Nye nodded. "Lee says you haven't been going in either."
"Same situation. All the assignments are done and handed in."
"But you will be going back for the exams."
Nye bowed his head, picking at a thread in his cuff. He shrugged. "I don't know."
"What do you mean you don't know? You've worked bloody hard on this course. Why would you throw it all in at the last hurdle?"
"I... It's complicated."
Kane looked as if he was about to say something but he closed his mouth with a snap and leaned back crossing his arms in front of him.
"What's going on?"
Nye looked up sharply. "What do you mean?"
"I spoke to Mir."
Nye blushed turning his head away. Fuck! Did everyone know? "Mir should learn to keep her mouth shut... and not to go bursting into things that are private and none of her business."
"You are her business. You always have been. You can lie to me and bullshit me as much as you want Nye but I know you. I know you better than anyone, even Mir. You've turned away from your family and friends, you've dropped out of uni and thrown away the future you always dreamed of, you look like crap and you're obviously hurt. So... what's going on?"
"Nothing's going on." His voice was soft, so soft that Kane barely heard it. He leaned across the table and put his hand over Nye's. He noted how cold it was before Nye pulled away.
"Please Nye. Talk to me."
Nye looked up and was caught by the big blue eyes. He had never been able to look into those eyes and be anything but honest, feel anything but safe. Kane's face was so familiar, so open, so dear. It reminded him of a time in his life when everything had been so simple, when his future had seemed exciting and safe and assured. Kane reminded him what it was like to feel cherished, to feel safe.
"I..." He was interrupted by Jon who stood respectfully waiting with the tray of drinks. Nye looked up and the moment was broken.
"Your drinks, Sir."
"Thanks Jon." Nye smiled, leaning back and Kane, frowning did the same. Jon placed the drinks on the table and withdrew.
"Sir is it now?" There was a hint of a sneer in Kane's voice that irritated Nye.
"He's just being polite."
"Yeah... impressing the boss's..." He caught himself and looked down, taking his drink.
"Go on." There was an edge to Nye's voice, a hint of ice and Kane shook his head.
"No Kane. Finish what you were going to say... the Boss's what? Whore?" Both of them were surprised by the bitterness in his voice. Kane looked up, his eyes shocked, and shook his head.
"No. That is not what I was going to say. That is nowhere near what I was going to say. Why the hell would I say something like that? Is that what you feel?"
"No. No of course it isn't. Of course... I... I just..."
"Oh Nye. How did we get to this? Where did it all go wrong? We were going to be together forever, to take over the world, just the two of us. What happened?"
Nye shook his head, tears burning his eyes. "I don't know." The words were very soft and Kane very nearly went to take him in his arms. He could feel the pain in his friend and he wanted to make it better in any way he could. He loved him. He had always loved him. He would always love him. Somehow, somewhere along the way he had taken his eyes off the ball, taken Nye for granted and in that blink of an eye he had lost him, had let him slip away.
And now... Now he looked across the table at the only person he had ever really loved and saw a pale ghost of what he used to be. He was someone who was hurt and sad and fading away and it all but broke his heart.
"Is he good to you?"
"Adam. Is he good to you?"
"I don't... It's not... You've no right..." He sighed and took a deep drink. "Yes. In his way he is."
"What do you mean? In his way? Is he good to you or not?" Kane's voice was harsher that he had intended, roughened by concern and fear for his friend.
"Yes. I said he was didn't I?" Nye snapped back draining his glass. The brandy was having an effect on him now and he felt light headed, slightly nauseous and very emotional. Everything that had happened to him was causing a maelstrom of conflicting emotion and setting it bubbling very close to the surface... and it was the last thing he wanted Kane to see.
"Okay. Keep your nuts in your trousers. I didn't mean to hit a nerve."
"You didn't. Don't be stupid." Nye shook his head and ran his hand through his hair. "Yes Kane. Adam is good to me. He... he's different to anyone I ever met before and it's taken time to... to 'get' him. He's... strong and certain and confident and... different to us. All this..." he waved his hand to encompass The Club and both of them knew that he meant more than was on display around them. "It's taking some getting used to."
"Does he hurt you?"
"What?" He looked up and Kane was staring at him steadily. He wanted to laugh, he wanted to cry, he wanted to beat on Kane's chest and scream in his face, he wanted to throw himself into his arms and feel safe again. He couldn't tear his eyes away; he couldn't move; he couldn't speak.
Kane leaned across the table again and put his hand over Nye's while never breaking eye contact. This time Nye did not pull away.
"Does he hurt you Nye? Does Adam ever hurt you?"
Nye opened and closed his mouth a few times, his eyes wide like a deer in headlights and Kane could feel his hands shaking. He looked so fragile and so beautiful. Kane leaned closer and Nye found himself unable to do anything but mirror his movement. In the end they were inches apart.
Nye closed his eyes and licked his lips. "Sometimes."
"Why? Why do you let him do that to you? Nye... I know that... that I haven't been the best friend to you and god knows I was a lousy boyfriend... but I loved you... I still do. You were always the strong one, the one who kept me flying straight. Without you I'm lost. I wanna help you. I wanna take care of you. Please Nye... I... I know it's too late for us to be anything but friends but please let me be that. I can't bear the thought of that... that man hurting you."
Abruptly Nye pulled away. His eyes went dead and flat. "'That man' is my boyfriend, my partner. He only hurts me when he has to, when I want him to."
"Nye, don't give me that. That's ridiculous. Why would you want someone to hurt you?"
"Because sometimes it's necessary. And at least with Adam I'm in control of the pain."
"In control of the pain? What the fuck is that supposed to mean?"
"It means that... that..." Nye shook his head, trying to clear his mind, to calm his senses. "I don't know what it means."
"He shouldn't hurt you Nye. If he loves you he shouldn't hurt you."
"Who the hell are you to say that?"
"What do you mean?"
"It's not as if you didn't hurt me."
"I... I would never hurt you, not like this."
"But you did hurt me. You hurt me more than Adam ever has. You swore you never would but you did. You stopped coming back. I waited for you but you stopped calling, stopped writing, stopped coming home."
Kane's face twisted with pain and he turned his face away. "I know. I was a fool; a stupid, selfish, arrogant fool. I thought... I thought you would always be here and I was so busy... there were so many things to do and I..."
"You forgot me." Nye's voice was still soft and so full of pain Kane could hardly bear it.
"I never forgot you, not for a moment."
"But that's what it felt like. It felt like you left me behind and I was so lonely. And then Adam came and he was... he... For the first time ever I felt... He made me feel... I don't know. He was just there... and you weren't."
"I know. I was a super stupid fool. I know it. But I never, ever stopped thinking of you Nye. I never stopped loving you. I still haven't. It's killing me to see you like this... to know that in a way it was my fault."
"I'm alright Kane. Really...I'm alright."
"Alright? Fuck Nye have you seen yourself? I don't know what's been going on but... I'm scared for you."
"There's no need. I'm fine."
Kane leaned forwards and took Nye's unresisting hand. Pushing up his sleeve he traced the red mark on his wrist. "Really?"
Nye looked up and met his eyes. There was so much pain there... in both of them. Kane reached out and caressed his face and Nye closed his eyes, shivering.
"Can you really tell me that you feel nothing for me? That it's all dead? Can you look me in the eye and tell me that you don't love me?" There was a breathlessness in his voice, a desperation that tore at Nye. The emotions that were roiling inside him were threatening to completely overwhelm him and he felt utterly exhausted. It would have been so easy to fall into those eyes, and into those arms... so familiar and so safe.
"No. I can't do that. I can't tell you that. I do love you. I always have."
"Then..." The hope flared and he couldn't let it.
"I love you Kane. I will always love you... but I love Adam too. And I am with Adam now. I am with Adam, and not you." Carefully he pulled his hand free, his fingers lingering in Kane's for as long as possible.
"But Nye... Adam is no good for you. Adam..."
"Adam is my boyfriend." He tried to sound firm and succeeded... to a degree. "Whatever you think about Adam he is my boyfriend and I love him and I intend to stay with him."
"Please Nye... think about this. He's not good for you. He's crushing you. I can see it... everyone can see it. You're not yourself. Please don't do this."
"It's done Kane. I am glad you came, glad I got to tell you how I feel but now we both need to move on. I'm Adam's now, not yours."
"I don't want you to be mine. You shouldn't belong to anyone Nye. You were meant to be free and you're not. Please..."
"Don't Kane. Please don't. A few days ago Adam... we... we made a commitment. He's given me half The Club, the apartment...everything. I'm not his possession; I'm his partner."
"Do you really believe that? Do you really believe that anything has changed? He's manipulating you." Kane's eye burned and his voice rose. "For fuck sake Nye... he's HURTING you."
"Maybe you had better go Kane."
"Nye... please... I'm begging ya dude... please get away from here, far away. I don't care if you don't come back to me... just get away from here before it kills you."
A cold shiver passed down Nye's spine. If only he knew how close it had come to doing just that. "Nothing is going to happen to me Kane. Adam loves me and he takes good care of me."
"Does he? Does he really?"
Their eyes locked again and Nye felt as if Kane's eyes were boring into his head, rooting out all the worries, the fears, the uncertainties. He shuddered, struggling to keep a clear head and to control the emotions that were screaming at him to throw himself into Kane's arms and beg him to take him away, to make him safe.
"I'm not leaving Adam, Kane. I'm sorry. That's the way it is."
Kane continued to stare at him for a moment, a hot searching stare then he sagged, defeated. He ran his hands repeatedly through his hair and knocked back his drink. Nye's glass had been empty for a long time.
"I think you'd better go." He said softly. Kane nodded but made no move.
"I do love you Nye."
"I know, and I love you too in my own way. I would never have... but you... and now..." The treacherous tears that had been threatening for a while burned his eyes and he dashed them away impatiently. "Just go."
"Alright." Still he made no move. "Look... I'm going back to college next Saturday and we're having a bit of a farewell party on the Friday night. Lee will be there, Mir too and a couple of others. Please will you come?"
Nye shook his head, biting his lip. He so wanted to say that he would go but he was afraid.
"It's not a big deal but it would mean a lot to me if you came. No strings. I swear I won't even mention Adam. Just a few drinks with some old friends. Please."
"No. Not try Nye... promise... please."
"I... I..." He looked up and, seeing the look in Kane's eyes, crumbled. It would be good to see his friends again, his sister, to have time away from all this. He desperately wanted to make it work with Adam, to prove to him that he was up to being a full partner, an asset. He wanted Adam to be proud of him but sometimes it was hard... sometimes it was too hard and it would be so good to put that all aside and just... just be himself for a while.
"Go on Nye... it'll be fun."
"Fun?" How long was it since he last had fun, just fun for the sake of it with no pressure and no string?. "Alright. I'll do it. I'll be there."
"Yeah. I promise. I promise Kane. I will be there."
Kane's eyes lit up and to Nye it felt like the sun coming out from behind a cloud and he almost felt that everything was going to be alright now... almost.
"Look... I have to go. I have to meet Vicky and Mom. Do you wanna come?"
Nye thought about it but the lack of food, the alcohol and the lingering effects of the poison were taking their toll and he knew he wasn't up to the exuberance he knew he would meet, with the three Americans together, so he shook his head.
"No... thank you. I'm really tired. I need to go home and rest."
"Hard night last night?" Nye looked at him sharply but there was a half smile on his face and he mirrored it.
"You could say that. You could say it was murder... almost."
For a moment Kane looked confused, uncertain. Then he brightened and smiled at Nye. Slipping out of the booth he unfolded and stretched to ease some kinks. Nye also got to his feet, more slowly and reached out his hand to be shaken. Kane looked at it for a moment then pulled him into a rough embrace that earned a gasp and brought tears to his eyes.
Kane pulled away and looked at him with concern. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah." He nodded, biting his lip against the nausea and pain.
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure. Go now."
"See you next Friday?"
Nye smiled. "Yes. See you next Friday. Promise."
Kane reluctantly let him go and turned to walk away. After a few steps he turned and waved. Nye smiled and waved back even though inside he was screaming. "Come back, please don't leave me. Please come back." Of course Kane didn't hear, or he would have come back. As it was he turned again and disappeared.
For a moment Nye stood staring after him then he closed his eyes. There was a buzzing in his ears that had been there for some time and it was getting stronger, maybe it was the alcohol. Thinking perhaps it was time to have a soft drink Nye turned with the intention of going to the bar. Fortunately Jon had seen the parting exchange between him and Kane and was already on his way over, because he was pretty much at his side when his knees started to buckle.