Dancing With Tears In My Eyes Ch. 04byvelvetpie©
Shawn thought he'd heard something and struggled into wakefulness. Darkness blanketed the room except for a smudge of pale moonlight. He felt disoriented but held his head up to listen for the noise again.
"No, please. Please! I promise!"
It was a plea, spoken in a broken voice. A voice teetering on the edge of hysteria. A voice that came from Conor.
Shawn switched on the light and turned toward his bed partner. Conor's back was to him and the breath left Shawn's throat when he saw the healed but still livid welts across his back. Conor had been beaten and beaten badly.
"Oh, God, no! Please! Not again!" His cries screamed with desperation and fear. Conor's body curled into a tight fetal ball, his arms thrown up to fend off invisible blows and the young man trembled so violently that the doctor was frightened himself. Shawn reached over and touched Conor's shoulder. Conor shrieked, his crazed eyes meeting Shawn's but not recognizing him. "No, please! Don't beat me again!"
"CONOR!" At Shawn's shout and forceful shake, the brilliant hazel eyes cleared of terror and brimmed with bright, silvery tears. Conor stared up into Shawn's concerned face and panic gripped him anew. Had he talked in his sleep again? Had Shawn heard? "Are you all right?"
Conor couldn't speak. His throat was closed with tears and his heart was pounding so loudly that he couldn't hear. He nodded quickly, grabbing for the sheet that Shawn pulled from his fingers.
"Who beat you?" He had seen. Conor fought his tears as he blindly groped for the sheet. He was naked in the light and Shawn had seen something he'd shown to no one, not even himself. "Answer me, damn you!"
"Please ... "
"No! You tell me!" Shawn hadn't realized how hard he was gripping Conor's arms until he saw the angry markings. "You've been holding something back. Now tell me!"
Tears spilled from Conor's eyes and his chest ached with the effort of holding back sobs. "Shawn, please. Ask me anything ... anything but that."
"You won't trust me?"
"I ... " Conor's voice trailed off into an anguished whisper. "I can't."
Something in Shawn hardened. He should have known that it was too good to be true, that the feelings that he thought they shared were nothing but echoes of something he felt for Alan. "Suit yourself."
Shrugging on his robe, he flicked off the light and tramped downstairs to spend a restless and sleepless night on the sofa. Conor curled up in the heated sheets, sobbing in painful silence and wishing that he could have told him the truth.
* * * * *
It took Conor three days to go through everything in his father's spacious townhouse. He was surprised to find a volume with Shawn's name on it and with a sick stomach, he flipped the cover open, expecting to see naked pictures of his father's lover. Instead, he found photos, artistic photos taken by someone who had a keen eye and a light touch. Of all the shots, there was one that really struck Conor. It was a child with a paper sailboat. That in itself was simple but the details were not. The child's expression was priceless.
That dealt a blow to Conor's innards and he closed his eyes as he heard the walls he'd so carefully constructed come crumbling down. He knew that Shawn wasn't like his ex but ... he paused when he realized that he was absent-mindedly rubbing his scarred shoulder. He just couldn't return to that. He couldn't allow anyone to have control over him, no matter how much he desired it.
Conor leaned back and closed his eyes. God, he was fucked up! First, his ex, now, his father, then Shawn. He rubbed his eyes, feeling a bit of his insides melt. Ha! The hot, arrogant progeny of Alan Dunlop doesn't have life figured out! He tried to ignore the voice in his head and looked down at Shawn's pictures.
It was time.
* * * * *
"His name was Frank."
Shawn looked up from his bowl of tepid vegetable soup and gazed into Conor's troubled eyes. The din of the hospital's cafeteria covered the pain in the young man's voice but Shawn heard it clearly.
"Stop." Oh, how he wanted to pull him into his arms!
Conor stood there, his emotions engraved on his puerile features, his large eyes filled with anguished tears. "Shawn ... "
"Here. Take my keys and go home. I'll meet you there." Shawn's keys rubbed the numbed pads of Conor's fingertips and he lifted his eyes to him. "I might be a little late but you get something to eat and get some sleep, hear me?"
"You don't want to hear what I have to say?"
"Yes, Conor. I want to hear what you want to tell me, more than anything. But this is not the place." Shawn touched his cheek with gentle fingers. "Have something to eat, take a bath and crawl into my bed. We'll talk when I get home, okay?"
Conor gazed into the mesmerizing blue eyes. "Promise?"
"Yes, I promise." Shawn watched the young man walk away, his heart thumping in his chest and his appetite gone.
* * * * *
Kinda strange that someone that's dying would be so happy, eh? Well, to tell you the truth, I'm happy to be going. I fucked up my life and for what? Sensation without protection? Partly. Sex without emotion? Exactly. As long as I was able to fuck anyone I wanted, there was no necessity, at least in my mind, to cultivate a 'relationship' with the person. And why the hell would I want to have a relationship? Why the hell would I want to be tied down? To be irrevocably tied to someone via 'emotion'?
Alas, dear Conor, I learned too late. When I declared myself 'gay', I decided that I would never grow up, that I would recoup all the missed opportunities of my childhood. Little did I know that my stupidity would be the cause of my eventual death. Yes, dear son, I was stupid. I equated sex with a connection. Of course, it didn't happen. Why? Because the dudes I hooked up with were just looking for a romp. Of course, being the 'man' that I was, I insisted that I was, also. But to be truthful, I was always looking for my soulmate. I was just too jaded. I never thought I'd find that person.
Then I met Shawn.
Before you get too twisted, we've never had a physical relationship. Strangely, Shawn has never been someone that I wanted to fuck. I'm not sure why, except that something inside me recognized him as a good person, as a person that I would rather cultivate a friendship with. That was a strange development for me. I've never wanted nor needed friendship before. But something about Shawn ... I just can't explain it. If I were a different person and much younger, then I would choose Shawn for my partner. Shawn's a man that could make a man believe in love ...
But you're a smart guy. If all goes well, you'll find this out for yourself.
I first met Shawn at a medical fundraiser some years ago and I was very flattered that he knew my work. He told me that he had signed up for my course but had been turned down because he wasn't a photography student and the course was closed to anyone who wasn't a photo major. I invited him out to lunch the next day and told him to bring his photos. He brought his portfolio and I was astounded to say the least. His shots were simply perfection. Spartan. Clean. Focused. They were, in a word, fantastic.
I closed the album and took a closer look at him, wondering who had touched him with this magnificent gift. I asked who taught him to take shots. He told me about his uncle Jesse and the ancient Pentax that he still had. I asked who taught him about composition. He told me about his aunt Maybell and his grandmother Earlene who were watercolor painters and avid floral gardeners. I finally asked him who took the shots for him and I instantly regretted the question.
The look on his face was a seductive mix of anger and incredulity. He stood up very calmly, gathered his books and dropped some money on the table and left without a word. It took me three weeks to find out who he was and get his phone number. When he answered the phone, it was as if winter had descended. I told him that I had gotten him into the class and told him when it would begin. He told me that he was no longer interested because of my comments. It took three phone calls and a ticket to Taboo to get him to take the class.
Believe me when I say that it was one of the best things I'd ever done. The work that Shawn turned in was the best I've ever seen from a student. If I hadn't known that they'd come from him, I would have sworn that they had been done by a professional. I urged Shawn to pursue his hobby but he told me that he was too in love with being a doctor to turn his back on it.
Little did I know how much Shawn loved being a doctor.
When I was diagnosed, I pretty much ignored it. I read the pamphlets, shrugged my shoulders and set off to find positive partners. I still was not done with the idea of fucking. It was kind of a relief, knowing that the person whose ass I was using as a cum repository, was positive as well. No questions, no answers, no problems. I was at least responsible enough not to pass the disease to anyone else. You should be proud of me for that. But from time to time, I'd feel ill and I found myself in the emergency ward with Shawn attending.
He stayed up with me all night that first night. He was concerned about my health, he later told me. I wasn't eating the right foods. I wasn't taking care of myself. I didn't care. Death was death, wasn't it? Did it matter if you dropped off with a six-pack or a beer belly? It was of vast importance to Shawn. Better health meant longer life. He made me take vitamins and started coming by the apartment to take me on long, torturous hikes. He wanted me to care about myself. I didn't give a shit, but he did.
I'll never forget how mad he was when he found out that I was still having sex. He told me that it was disgusting that a positive person was still going at it. I told him that my body was dying but not my soul. I think I taught him something that day. I never thought that there was anything that I could have taught Shawn ...
A strange warmth awoke Conor.
He drifted into wakefulness and flexed his numb hand. His limb had fallen asleep while he read his father's journal and the sharp edge digging into his forearm had cut off his circulation but as much as he hated that sensation, another made him more concerned. Lying completely still, he could feel every muscled inch of Shawn's body. He thought of nothing of the sexuality of the situation; Conor only thought of flight.
Shawn's soft whisper caught his attention and momentarily froze him into place. "You said his name was Frank."
A shudder skated through Conor's innards. He knew that Shawn was giving him an opportunity to continue the dialog that he'd begun earlier, in the cafeteria. Conor thought about feigning sleep, then turned in Shawn's arms, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. "Yes."
Shawn pushed a damp curl of hair out of Conor's sunken eyes and leaned close, pressing a gentle kiss to his cheek. A supportive kiss. "Tell me what you want me to know."
Tell me what you want me to know. Easy words to say. Conor gazed into the doctor's eyes and did something that he never thought he'd do. He started speaking.
"I met Frank when I was 8. He ran an ice-cream parlor down the street from Mom's house. I used to spend a lot of time there, eating ice cream and cleaning up. He'd give me a quart or two of ice cream every night for payment. Mom liked that. She ate most of it every night. On my eighteenth birthday, Frank hired me and gave me the apartment above the parlor to live in. My job entailed security as well as clean-up. I didn't have a problem with that. Frank did."
Shawn listened to Conor's voice, drawn to the beauty of his pain-filled features. He listened to the story of a human being and observed the young man's countenance as he relayed the tale. The arrangement with Frank had gone horribly awry. The man had accused Conor of eating ice cream at night and whittling away his precious profits. So ...
"He beat me." Conor could barely breathe as he spoke the words. "He brought the whip as a joke, I thought, but I was so wrong."
Shawn felt Conor's body start to tremble; a deep tremble that started from his heart and made its way outward. "It's okay, baby." He ran his hand over Conor's shoulder, down to his elbow and over his hip. "He can't hurt you now."
He can't hurt you now. Conor wanted to believe in his words. He felt a shiver course through his body as Shawn's fingers intertwined with his. His warmth not only soaked into his skin but into his heart and that fact made Conor want to pull away. He made a token attempt but Shawn would not allow it. He worked his hand down past the knuckles and clamped down on Conor's hand.
"The nightly whipping wasn't enough for him after awhile. He found out that I was gay and decided that I should service him." Conor waited for the words. Why didn't you leave? Words that he could never supply a satisfactory answer to. To his amazement and relief, Shawn didn't speak those words. "He started beating me every night and fucking me after I was bleeding."
Shawn's stomach twisted into uncomfortable knots. "Conor, you don't have to tell me any more."
"Yes, I do."
The doctor listened closely as Conor related the rest of his story. The continuous beatings, the unsavory couplings, the multiple partners. He was lucky that Frank believed in condoms. Except when it came to his own prick.
"One day, my mother called and said that she'd heard from my father." Conor recalled that day: the day he'd wanted to commit murder. She had sounded so lively and gay when she'd imparted the news. Your sperm donor called. "I didn't find out who he was right away but at least I knew that she was in contact with him."
"Did you want to talk to him?"
"Of course!" The bravado he'd clung to melted quickly. "I've always wanted to talk to my father but that bitch ... "
"She wouldn't let you."
"She told me all kinds of stories about him." Shawn watched as Conor's eyes opened and those haunting hazel eyes trained on him, making his cock twitch. "Mostly that she hated him."
"What happened to Frank?"
"I called the police about him and he was arrested for trying to molest another child."
"Good for you." Shawn touched Conor's cheek, seeing the dark shadows moving behind his eyes. "Did you save that other child?"
No. Conor knew what Shawn was asking. That other child was himself. No. That other child had not been saved. "No."
"Maybe I can save him."