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bruised love

Chapter Eleven

16 November 2006

Andrew struggled to drag himself out of the bed and only ended up landing flat on the floor. Carefully he dragged himself into a sitting position and gritted his teeth and grasped to drag himself further up.

"What are you doing?" Alarmed a nurse who had entered the room.

"Minding my own business." Andrew spat at her. The nurse didn't bat an eyelid as she came to him to help. She reached out to help him.

"Let me do it by myself. I just want to fucking stand." Andrew snapped at her. The nurse drew her hand back slightly. Andrew gritted his teeth and dragged himself up with determination. He slipped a bit and the nurse reached out again.

"I can do it!" He snapped again. Again, the nurse withdrew her hand. With a grunt Andrew yanked himself upwards harder. He got an arm on top of the bed and held himself there for a moment before pushing himself upwards again. Andrew grunted as he pushed himself up again. Slowly he raised himself until he reached a point he was standing up, if not slightly hunched, supporting his weight by holding himself up leaning against the bed. The nurse walked over and slipped her hand around Andrew's waist.

"Now that you've proven your testosterone and masculinity is intact, where do you want to go?" She asked with a slight sarcastic curl to her voice, Andrew blushed and looked at her.

"Just to the bathroom." Andrew grumbled. The nurse nodded and gently walked him to the bathroom and left him to his own devices intoning that he should wait while she got him a wheel chair to take him back to his bed. Andrew waited patiently for the nurse to remain and sighed as he saw the wheelchair appear through the doorway, but soon growled as Cameron pushed it in.

"What are you doing in here with that? Fuck the nurse as a bribe?" Andrew snarled. Cameron's face rippled with hurt and anguishes.

"I came to help Andy." Cameron said as calmly as he could.

"If you want to help, use a condom next time and not in my home." Andrew snapped. Cameron looked to the white tiles that lined the floor and walls of the bathroom.

"I'm sorry Andy, I got lost in the moment of knowing I was going to be a father." Cameron tried.

"So, you just had to slam it home just who was the father again I take it." Andrew snarled bitterly.

"I was weak and foolish." Cameron whimpered. "I didn't think..." His voice trailing off.

"Well that's plainly obvious." Andrew snarled again. With that, Andrew grasped the handrails and started to lift himself, grunting in effort. Cameron stepped forwards to help Andrew.

"Don't touch me! Get your filthy hands away from me." Andrew hissed causing Cameron to step back. Cameron pushed the wheelchair to Andrew who moved it to where he could lower himself into it. He wheeled himself to the door, pushing Cameron against the sink.

"Wash your hands while you're there, I can see the blood on them." Andrew said accusingly, then wheeled himself out of the bathroom, leaving Cameron there.

Andrew wheeled himself out of the hospital room and down the corridor before he felt a gentle tug on the back of the wheelchair.

"Get away from me Cameron." Andrew growled softly.

"Call me after that lug again and I'll make sure you stay in here for another month." Came a soft voice, with a hint of laughter rippling through it.

"Shut up Nessa and get me out of here. I need fresh air, the smell of disinfectant is driving me insane." He grumbled, surrendering his grip on the wheels. Vanessa started to push him gently forwards as Andrew lowered his head to his hands, hiding the tears that tugged at his eyes.

Mitch walked into Andrew's hospital room, his hands holding two cups of coffee, which he set down on the table. He looked around then eventually checked the bathroom. He found Cameron sitting in front of the sink, his head in his hands, tears creating painful rivers down his cheeks as his chest heaved sobbing silently. Mitch went to his friend's side and wrapped his arms around Cameron, who tried to pull back, but Mitch held tight. Cameron's strength gave way and he fell onto Mitch's shoulder, tears flowing freely and soft sobbing sounding gently at Mitch's ear. Mitch held him fast and let him cry it out.

Sitting outside, Andrew looked at nothing, but stared into space. His cheeks were blotched from his unshed tears.

"Alright Fairy Boy, out with it." Vanessa said gently.

"He fucked me over Nessa, and I hate him for it." Andrew said, tears forming at his eyes.

"And?" Vanessa asked.

"No 'and' Nessa. He betrayed me. He fucked me in the morning and her in the afternoon." Andrew admitted painfully.

"Then if it's such a betrayal, why are you still wanting to make it work?" Vanessa asked. Andrew glared angrily. Vanessa felt tendrils of ice whisper down her back, wondering if she had over stepped the mark.

"There are several different types of domestic abuse." Vanessa clearly, her voice portraying a strength she didn't feel. Andrew glared at her again.

"There is physical, there is financial, there is social and tell me Andy, what is the other?" She pushed. Andrew looked away, his jaw set.

"Come on Andy, you know this one. You were up on all types of abuse with Mitch. What's the last type of abuse?"

"It's emotional. The final type of abuse is emotional." Andrew said through gritted teeth.

"What can emotional abuse entail Andy?" Vanessa said, feeling the tide shift and the sand build at her feet.

"It can involve making the abused think that they deserve what they get. It can involve a constant degradation of what a person's worth is in their eyes through constant verbal attacks, through ignorance to their emotional needs and it can involve a disassociation from the abused thus removing the crutch on which they have been built." Andrew growled.

"So what's the difference between you and Jay?" Vanessa asked, slamming her point home.

"I never laid a finger on Cameron." Andrew shot back.

"Never one finger, but you've sliced his emotions to pieces leaving him as bruised as Mitch." Vanessa pushed harder. Andrew's head whipped around and he levelled his gaze at her.

"The same thing can be said of him." Andrew said, grasping at a loose straw. Vanessa glanced away and then back at Andrew.

"Your self-pity is old Andrew. Stop trying to hate him when all you want to do is love him. He's made a mistake, now he's got to live with it. The difference is now; his life can't be all about you and your guilt. He has to think of his child. He's got more responsibilities than ever before. You promised to love him no matter what are you taking that back? Are you going to be as callous as others have been to you."

"I... He..." Andrew tried, but gave up. Vanessa put her hand on his arm.

"What you say here Andy," she began gently, "is 'I love him and he loves me'." Andrew's head dropped.

"I'm not ready to." Andrew said.

"Sweetheart, it's been three weeks. He comes to you daily, at least once a day. You rebuff him every time. He's showing you he's dedicated to loving you, isn't it time you showed him that back?" She asked. Andrew sniffled slightly, his face downcast.

"I'm not going to fucking say it or take it back." Andrew snapped at her. "So you can go to him and give him the support, then when you're done, tell him to get off the cross because someone needs the wood." With that Andrew's hands fastened on the wheels of his chair and he started to push off. Vanessa's hand reached out and held him fast.

"There's one more thing Andrew." Vanessa said. Andrew looked at her then felt his head jerk around as Vanessa's open hand slapped him across the face. Andrew's hand came up reflectively to hold the tender spot as Vanessa came down to his eye level.

"Don't you ever speak to me like that again because you're so busy wallowing in self-pity and ignorance. You have one of the greatest guys you've ever met tearing himself apart. Sort your shit you Andrew, before he realises that he can do better." With that Vanessa stalked off. Andrew sat there, his face still smarting from the slap, his eyes stinging from his tears.

A hand rested on Andrew's shoulder gently.

"Take me home Cam." Andrew said without looking.

"How'd you know it was me?" Cameron's voice came unsteadily as he sat down beside Andrew.

"Cam, I've always known your touch." Andrew said and Cameron just nodded.

"Why do you keep coming back?" Andrew asked after a while.

"I still love you Andy, even if you won't let me." Cameron said.

"Then why'd you fuck her?" Andrew asked, his voice cracking with emotion. Cameron didn't reply and looked down. Andrew sighed, tired of so much of it all.

"I don't know what to do Cam." Andrew said finally finding his voice. Cameron looked over at him, clearly confused as to what was being said to him.

"I want to hate and despise you, but I don't. I want to be angry and hurt and I am to large degree. I still desire you as much as ever though." Andrew finally said. Cameron's hand came to settle on Andrew's arm, which he started to pull away, but stopped himself, leaving it there half tensed as though he was waiting to see if the touch would burn.

"I know I've made some mistakes. I've also tried to change Andy. I'm trying to find these right things, words to say to keep you here, waiting for me to finish mending my fuck ups. I'm trying to fix my mistakes but all you can do is sit there and look at me in this condescending light. Then there was the whole walking thing, you're independent and I want you to depend on me. I know I was wrong Andy, I know it with every fibre of my being. I also know that even if you walk away now, I'll be right here waiting." Cameron tried.

"How do you expect me to trust you Cam?" Andrew asked, feeling his annoyance spike.

"Do you want me to bleed for you to show you? Throw away everything? I don't know Andy. We've trusted each other completely since eighth grade." Cameron tried.

"You didn't fuck around on me in eighth grade." Andrew shot back.

"It's been a while since I could hold my head up high Andy. Actually, not since the day you walked out the front door. Since I could stand on my own to feet. Since I could say I love myself as well as you. I know that you forgave me the first time and I know I've gone and fucked things up again, but I'm trying to prove myself."

"And what are you going to do with your child?" Andrew asked.

"Raise it." Andrew said, his voice portraying his belief and the love he had for his unborn offspring already.

"What about Anna?"

"What about her? She's not the one I want to live my life with and who I want to help father it." Cameron sat down beside Andrew and rested his head into his hands.

"Cameron, think very hard about what you're asking of someone there."

"I have Andy. I have thought about it non-stop since Anna left. Since the world crumbled and you left." Cameron said mourning.

"I've gone and fucked things up just like I always do, but all that shit seems to disappear when I'm with you, and I know it's a lot to ask, but I want you to take me back." Cameron said finally breaking down into tears. Andrew turned his head so he didn't have to see Cameron's tears trickling down over his cheeks. Then the haunting sound reached out in tendrils and caressed his hearing, making him know what was happening. He turned his head and looked at Cameron.

"I love you Cam, but I don't forgive you." With that, Andrew pushed his wheelchair off and rolled away, leaving Cameron still weeping on the park bench.

Andrew walked slowly through the front door. As he moved down the hall, he noticed it looked barren. Once he reached the lounge, he sat down heavily, realisation dawning. He looked to his side.

"When?" Was all he asked. Mitch placed his hand on Andrew's shoulder.

"The day you told him you didn't forgive him." Mitch replied gently. Andrew looked down and then turned his gaze out the window.

"Do you..." Andrew's voice trailed off.

"No idea, he didn't tell me."

"I didn't realise he'd actually go." Andrew finally admitted.

"What do you expect Andy? You told him that you could see the blood on his hands and that you didn't trust him. All that one day. I would have left myself if I were him." Mitch said evenly.

"Don't let me keep you here then." Andrew shot back. Mitch stood up and moved around in front of Andrew and rested on his haunches.

"You were the first person in a long time who opened their arms to me, opened their heart to me and became a friend. I'm not going to let you shove me out the door like an unwanted piece of clutter." Mitch said firmly. Andrew's head dropped only to have Mitch reach out and lift his chin with his index finger, his eyes searching for something in Andrew's.

"Andy, I'm a friend and I love you, but don't walk down the road that I did. Self-pity is not your friend. No matter what you think." Mitch said very quietly, but clearly enough that Andrew heard and felt every word. Mitch watched and Andrew suddenly looked very tired and frail. Mitch reached out and rested his hand gently on Andrew's leg.

"It's not a condemnation, it's advice." Mitch offered gently. Andrew looked at Mitch and smiled.

"Help me down to my room. I need some rest." Andrew said. Mitch just nodded and guided Andrew steadily.

"So what's your plan now?" Mitch asked as they walked slowly.

"Room's yours if you want it. Just know I'm not looking for another Cameron to take over that room. I'll be a friend but no one will be able to fill the position he had." Andrew warned Mitch. Mitch shook his head softly.

"I don't want to be your lover Andrew. Lovers hurt each other too much." Mitch said, and turned into his new room.

**** 4 months later ****

Vanessa slapped Mitch across the back of the head after he belched loudly.

"I do believe you belong in a frat house." She scolded lightly, smiling. Mitch poked his tongue at her and laughed. The pair sat together in the food court waiting for Andrew to join them after classes.

"I do believe that'd make you worth of a cheerleader then Ness." Mitch said throwing a fry at her. Vanessa looked up at him from her drink and stopped open mouthed. Mitch saw her expression and turned in his chair and saw Cameron walking out of a store with a very pregnant looking woman.

"Should she be that big at six months?" Asked Mitch.

"I dunno, but damn! I sure as shit ain't gettin knocked up if that's part of the process." Vanessa exclaimed. Mitch turned and looked at her with one eyebrow arched.

"So don't start me Fairy Dust!" She squealed again.

"That was so not my fault! You and Andy were the ones that threw glitter all over me!" Mitch tried to defend himself. Vanessa just snorted and waved her hand.

"So says you. I say we opened the lid and it was attracted to your beating fairy boy wings." Vanessa laughed as Mitch started to look more and more exasperated.

"Hey.. uh... how are... umm... you?" Came a soft and shaken voice from behind Mitch, interrupting their conversation. Vanessa's head snapped up, Mitch stood and turned around smiling. Cameron stood there, finding the toes of his sneakers fascinating. Mitch pulled Cameron into a quick hug and pulled a chair up for him to join them. The three sat talking when the previously spied woman who had been accompanying Cameron waddled over to where they were sitting.

"Cam, honey, we need to move so I can find a place to beach myself and wait for green peace. This belly is hurting like mad and my feet are murdering me." She groaned. Cameron leapt to his feet and offered her his seat while pulling up another.

"Do you mind if we join you for a little bit?" Asked Cameron. Mitch shook his head and smiled.

"No, not at all. I'm Mitch and this is Vanessa." Mitch said by way of introduction.

"He says his name is Mitch, we all call him Fairy Dust." Vanessa whispered to her, laughing as Mitch blushed brightly. Cameron cocked an eyebrow.

"This is my flatmate Anna." Cameron introduced. Mitch and Vanessa looked at each other then back at Cameron and Anna. Anna laughed and pushed Cameron lightly.

"Cam, there's no need to be coy about who I am to you." She looked at Mitch and Vanessa and their expectant faces.

"I'm the bitch he got knocked up and converted him... away from women." She grinned. Mitch's mouth hit the ground and Vanessa's eyes buldged. Cameron looked down blushing furiously.

"Oh please, don't look so surprised. We tried it again when we found out I was pregnant, but I guess I'm just not Andrew. He has a few different bits that I'm missing." Anna joked. Mitch looked ready to faint and Vanessa was starting to grin.

"So you have El-jocko here pegged as heterosexually challenged and keep him around why? I know it's not for his cleaning skills and I am one hundred percent sure it's not for his cooking skills." Vanessa dead panned.

"I Can cook!" Said Cameron indignantly.

"Speciality flambe de eyebrows." Mitch threw in laughing. Though he caught sight of a sole figure watching them from half a dozen feet back over Cameron's shoulder and stopped dead. The figure, turned tail and made a hasty retreat.

"Fuck!" Swore Mitch grabbing his bag and hurrying after the retreating back. Vanessa looked in the direction Mitch was headed and Cameron's head flicked around, then dropped slightly. Anna moved her entire body around to see Mitch bearing down on the departing figure.

"Let me guess, Andrew." She said more than asked. Cameron just nodded his head.

Mitch rounded the corner and grabbed Andrew by the arm. Andrew spun around, his nostrils flaring. When he saw it was Mitch, he calmed down.

"Don't start with lectures Andy, he's still my friend." Mitch warned lightly. Andrew looked away and wrenched his arm out of Mitch's grasp.

"So how long have you been seeing him behind my back."

"This is the first time Andy." Mitch said. "Come back and say hello."

"And what? Sit and make small talk with his pretty lady? I'll pass thank you." Andrew snipped.

"She's his flat mate." Mitch said and Andrew snorted in reply.

"Which is by her own admission. She says he's still too hooked up on you." Mitch told him softly.

"You tell me as though I care." Andrew shot back.

"Don't you?" Asked Mitch. Andrew just sneered and turned away. Mitch watched his friend's retreating back and shook his head sadly.

Andrew's cell phone screamed beside his bed. Andrew reached out and pawed at it. Picking it up he looked at the caller ID which was flashing that the call was from a private number. He looked at the time and saw it was just after one in the morning. Sleepily he answered the phone. On the other end of the line he heard soft weeping.

"Hello? Is there someone there?" The weeping continued and there was a sniffle at the other end of the line.

"Andy?" Came a soft, hoarse voice. The voice was so faint Andrew near didn't recognise it.

"Cam?" He asked, a little alarmed.

"Andy, I ... there's..." With that he burst into tears on the phone again. Andrew sat up properly swinging his legs over the side of the bed.

"Cam, slow down. Tell me what's wrong?" Andrew said, torn between the urge to just hang up and to help his old friend.

"I'm... I'm not... oh God, it's Anna." Sobbed Cameron. Andrew shook his head.

"Can't help you with women problemas. Good night Cameron." Andrew said clicking off the phone.

Twenty minutes later, Mitch burst into his room.

"Andrew, get up we're going." He stated. Andrew lifted his head off the pillow sleepily.

"Wha? Why?"

"Get dressed, Cam needs us." Mitch said, his patience clearly wearing thin.

"It's women problems, he can deal with it." Said Andrew dropping his head back on the pillow.

"You think that's what this is?!" Exploded Mitch. Andrew's head lifted quickly back up and levelled his gaze and Mitch.

"What is it then?" Snarled Andrew.

"Anna just miscarried. She lost the baby." Mitch told him shortly. Andrew's mouth started to imitate a goldfish.

"Get dressed so you can go support your best friend, we're leaving in 10 minutes." With that Mitch slammed his door closed and Andrew could hear him moving about the apartment gathering a few items. Shaking his head while wide eyed with shock, Andrew scrambled out of bed and pulled some clothes on quickly then met Mitch on the way out.

Mitch and Andrew walked in through the doors and the first thing Andrew saw was a very tired Cameron hunched over holding his head in his hands. Andrew motioned for Mitch to wait then walked up to Cameron and stood infront of him. Realising Cameron hadn't noticed, he sat in the chair beside him and rested a hand on Cameron's shoulder. Mitch saw Cameron look at Andrew then lean into his shoulder and start shaking as the silent tears bled from his eyes, staining Andrew's shirt with a broken sorrow known only to a man who had just lost his child. Andrew wrapped his arm around Cameron's shoulder and started to rub his back in small, comforting circles. Mitch slowly made his way up and sat down on the otherside of Cameron and rested his hand on Cameron's shoulder. If Cameron realised Mitch was there, he didn't show it.

When the tears finally stopped, Cameron didn't lift his head. Andrew didn't relax his hold on Cameron either. They finally released each other when a doctor came out in surgical gowns. Mitch tapped Cameron on the shoulder lightly. The doctor motioned for Cameron to follow him. Cameron nodded and looked at Andrew.

"Please come with me, I need you now." He asked with a dry and broken voice from crying. Andrew nodded dumbly and followed Cameron into a waiting room.

The surgeon sat across from the pair and looked at them gently.

"Mr. Slater, I'm sorry for your loss. I was the surgeon to attend to Ms. Grace after her miscarriage. There seems to have been another problem that we didn't pick up on earlier." He said gently. Cameron looked at him waiting.

"Mr. Slater, did Anna ever complain about abdomen pains? Soreness around the belly?" The doctor asked.

"Um, yes. She was saying it hurt yesterday afternoon... I don't understand. That was just the pregnancy and baby wasn't it?" Asked Cameron.

"No, I'm sorry it wasn't. We have reason to believe that Ms. Grace had appendicitis. It's rare for pregnant women, but it does happen. I'm terribly sorry for your loss. The appendix burst before we could do anything. I'm sorry, we couldn't save her." The doctor said looking down. Cameron's face drained of all colour and he started to slide to the floor. Andrew was there in seconds lifting him up. The doctor motioned to an examination bed. Andrew lay Cameron down gently as he turned his head and started to sob again into Andrew's shirt again. The doctor looked on helpless. Andrew looked at the doctor.

"Can we have a moment please?" He asked. The doctor nodded and left the room. Andrew held Cameron close and kissed the top of his head.

"I'm sorry Cam." Andrew said as he held him friend close, his heart shattering for his Cameron's pain. Cameron gripped at Andrew's shirt as a life line and sobbed harder again.

When the sobbing finally slowed, Andrew kissed Cameron on the top of the head again. Cameron pulled back and looked at Andrew, then away down at the floor.

"I'm sorry Andy, I shouldn't have bothered you." He said ashamed. Andrew put his hand on Cameron's shoulder and spoke gently.

"Yes, you should have. I'm glad you did." Cameron looked at him then leant back against his chest.

"Let's take you home." Andrew said, gently guiding Cameron out the door.

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