By Daniel M July 2008
Cameron lifted his head off the pillow as Andrew turned over again in the bed beside him. Considering his options, he reached out gently and held Andrew's shoulder, who leapt on the bed and curled up into the foetal position, his breathing heavy and erratic. Cursing quietly to himself, Cameron finally spoke up.
"Andy, it's just me." Cameron's voice gently echoed down to Andrew's ears. Andrew lifted his head, his eyes wild, from where he lay curled and looked at Cameron's concerned face.
"Where is he?" Asked Andrew, his voice flickering slightly between distress and worry. Cameron slid off the bed and down beside Andrew.
"He's gone and can't hurt you anymore." Cameron said softly stroking Andrew's cheek lightly before wrapping an arm around his friend's shoulders and pulling him closer. Andrew shivered in spite of himself and leaned into Cameron's soft embrace. Cameron kissed his friend lightly on the forehead and held him close, feeling the unsteady breath against his skin. Slowly the breath levelled out and Cameron looked at Andrew who had slipped off to sleep again. Slipping his arms under Andrew's back, Cameron lifted his friend up onto the bed and pulled the covers up over him. Andrew sat in the chair, watching and waiting. Just in case the nightmares came again and he needed to ward the demons of the night away again.
The morning light trickled in gently through the window and roused Andrew from his sleep. Lifting his head gently he looked behind him to find the bed empty. He sat up in alarm and looked around. He found Cameron on the side of the room sitting in the wooden chair, his hair tilted slightly in what had to be an uncomfortable position. Andrew slipped out from between the covers and padded gently to his friend and nudged him slightly. Cameron snorted a bit and twisted slightly in the chair. Smiling, Andrew nudged him again. Cameron half snorted and half coughed before twisting again and falling out of the chair. He landed on a heap on the floor and looked around bewildered. His eyes finally focused on Andrew and smiled at his friend who was laughing lightly to himself. He stood up and took a step towards Andrew, his arms outstretched. Andrew flinched and stepped back unsure.
"Andy, I'm not going to hurt you. I'm coming for a cuddle." Cameron reassured him. Andrew nodded his understanding but stayed guarded. Cameron stepped up to Andrew and looked at him. Andrew returned Cameron's steady gaze and felt his eyes widen as Cameron's lips lowered to his. Andrew could feel the gentle question at his lips and stepped back.
"I'm no good Cam. I'm damaged and broken goods." Andrew whispered softly, his gaze falling to the floor. Cameron felt the air shatter around him and fall to the floor. The hush that swept into the room with the grace of a dancer and the silence that broke inside with a misplaced serenity caused him to look at his friend through unexpected eyes.
"No one is ever broken beyond repair and you are never too damaged for me." Cameron said gently, his hand reaching for Andrew's shoulder and falling gently as Andrew stepped back out of his reach.
"I have been tainted and I am corrupted. Let me go before I blacken you as well." Andrew said with tears spilling from his eyes.
"Never." Was all Cameron said. Andrew gently sank backwards until he was kneeling on the floor sobbing. Cameron knelt in front of him and pulled him close. Andrew clasped at Cameron's back and clung to him as though the floor were to give way and drag him from his personal hell into the devil's own lair.
Mitch's eyes flicked up as a weary looking Cameron wandered down towards the kitchen. Leaning back he looked at Cameron.
"Rough night?" He asked and Cameron just nodded. Mitch smiled sadly at his friend.
"You got a few more of those on the way, sorry." Cameron pretended to beat his head against the wall.
"Tyler and I deserve a support group just for putting up with you two." He said sticking his tongue out.
"More like Andy and I deserve Mickey Mouse badges for the ongoing gluttony of punishment for continuing to be around you two." Mitch threw back.
"You have been around Andy entirely far too long you realise? You're smart arse comments are becoming too similar."
"I shall call him, Mini-me." Said Andrew from behind them. Cameron's head whipped around so quickly Andrew contemplated reaching out and stopping it in case it was Linda Blair's return and his head was going to keep spinning.
"Cameron if you spin your head any faster, I'm going to need to break out the..." Mitch started.
"Holy water." Andrew and Mitch finished together. They both looked at each other in surprise.
"That was a little odd." Cameron said looking between the two.
"I'm sorry." Andrew instantly replied looking down. Cameron took two strides towards Andrew and quickly enveloped him in a comforting embrace. Andrew sagged lightly into Cameron's arms briefly before pulling himself upright.
"Thanks Cam. I think I'll go shower or something." He started to wander off and Cameron went to reach for him but hesitated and let him arm drop to his side. He looked at Mitch.
"I have a long time before this is healed don't I?" Mitch just nodded his head. His eyes suddenly looking far older than he really was. The nightmares dulled his eyes and the memories made him look more tired than he should. Cameron's head dropped slightly realising that this all lay ahead of Andrew and inwardly, he wept.
Mitch quietly padded down the hallway and knocked lightly on the door. Inside the bathroom he heard soft crying and reached for the door handle. Twisting it he stepped into the bathroom and found Andrew sitting on the floor, wrapped in a towel and rocking gently with his knees drawn up to his chest. Mitch closed the door behind him and went to where his friend sat trying to cope. Mitch lowered himself behind Andrew and sat there with his legs either side of Andrew. He pulled Andrew back into an embrace and Andrew lay back against his friend's chest and sobbed quietly.
"I still feel his fingers on me." Andrew finally admitted. "I tried to scrub the finger prints off but I can't. I tried to erase his touch but it's still there. I always feel him around me." Mitch kissed he back of Andrew's head and spoke softly.
"So can I sometimes. It's like his touch is burnt onto my skin and no amount of time will ever heal it." Mitch admitted quietly. Andrew half turned and started to sob further into Mitch's shoulder. Mitch sat there, gently stroking his friends hair and breathing hate towards the creature who had inflicted the pain against his friend.
Cameron and Tyler were sitting on the balcony quietly chatting when Mitch finally emerged. Cameron looked up and wondered what had happened and Tyler rose to his feet and captured Mitch in his arms, kissing his forehead quietly. Cameron glanced behind Mitch then back to him questioningly.
"He's resting. The wounds aren't even close to healing and he needs time." Mitch said quietly. Cameron nodded and stood only to be pushed back into his seat by Mitch. Who shook his head.
"Let him rest, he needs to be alone at times as well. Otherwise he'll never realise that being alone ends in some form of force coming to him." Mitch told him knowingly. Cameron nodded sagely and sat back down, his eyes had a tired resignation that he may never have the Andrew he knew back.
Andrew gently woke from his sleep and looked around with disorientated eyes. Slipping his feet over the edge of the bed, he felt the warmth of the carpet and slowly stood up and walked to the window and pulled the curtain back and looked out. He tilted his head the side and slid the window open, he sat gently in the window frame and looked out at the busy city. He watched as people milled aimlessly through the streets, each with their own intentions and own excuses. He wondered quietly if any of them really knew what they were doing or if anyone else realized that there could be something majorly wrong with anyone that they passed by. Andrew sat, lost in his own thoughts and gazing vacantly at the crowds below when he felt a warm pair of arms circle his waist and a pair of lips at the back of his neck. Jumping for a moment, he leaned back against a familiar firm chest.
"I hope that you weren't planning anything foolish." Came a warm rumbling voice. Andrew's head and vision swam at the words.
"I did Cam. So many different times. I felt broken and used and didn't know how else to deal with it. I wanted to run from it all and not have to look back or over my shoulder in case he was there." Andrew said, his voice low.
"Why didn't you leave? You knew what he was like and what the cycles are. You're not a foolish guy Andy. You knew that we would have welcomed you back and helped as soon as you asked." Cameron chided gently.
"I betrayed Mitch. I was nothing and no one. I was a complete hypocrite to Mitch. I demanded he leave Jay and that he not speak to him any more. As soon he does what I tell him I run to Jay and let him fuck me. I was alone" Andrew whispered. Cameron stroked Andrew's hair soothingly. Andrew turned and leant against Cameron's chest. Cameron lifted Andrew's face and captured his lips in a gentle kiss.
"You aren't nothing and you aren't no one. You're Andrew, my closest friend and a good person." Cameron told him firmly in a soft voice after the kiss ended. Andrew grimaced at the mention of him being a good person. Cameron kissed the top of his friends head and fought the urge to let his shoulders slump when Andrew stiffened in his arms. Cameron held his friend close and wished that he could take away all the pain that he seemed to be carrying inside and make things right for him.
Mitch looked up as Cameron entered the room.
"How you feelin'?" He asked. Cameron shrugged and sighed heavily.
"Trying to figure out how to absolve his guilt. It's a lot harder than it seems y'know?" Cameron sighed again. Mitch looked at the partially defeated man curiously.
"Guilt?" He asked.
"He feels guilty about betraying you. He thinks that he's guilty because as soon as you got Jay out of your life he went to him." Cameron said, repeating Andrew's earlier admission. Cameron shook his head and lowered himself onto the couch beside Mitch and stared vacantly at the movie flickering on the screen infront of him.
Andrew sat quietly on the bed listening to the muttered words between the other two down the hall. Quietly, he padded across the floor and opened the bottom draw of the dresser where his belongings were carefully stowed. Moving aside a pair of jeans, he grabbed a small cloth bundle and walked back to the bed. Sitting down he pulled up the leg of his boxers and looked at his soft skin. Reaching for the bundle of cloth beside him, he reached for the blade which lay in it's folds. He pressed the edge and felt the cool steel bite into his flesh and a gentle gasp slipped past his lips as he dragged the point upwards. He smiled as he felt the warm blood spill from the cut and felt the hot relief as the demons slipped from his wound. He quickly grabbed the cloth laying beside him and pressed it to his leg to staunch the flow of blood. As soon as he could, he grabbed a dressing and covered the wound with practiced speed and attention. After stowing the blade back where he had gotten it from, he slipped on a pair of jeans and shirt then exited the room.
Both Cameron and Mitch looked up as Andrew entered the room and sat down in an arm chair and curled up a little in the seat. They looked at each other and then Mitch spoke up.
"How ya feelin' Andy?" Andrew looked at Mitch and just nodded.
"We were thinking about going and seeing a movie at the cinema. Would you like to come?" Asked Cameron. Andrew thought for a moment and then nodded.
"Ok, sounds good." He said and Cameron smiled and stood up.
"Ok, I'll go get my wallet and we can be off." Andrew started to rise and was waved down by Cameron.
"It's ok, I'll grab your stuff as well." Andrew sank back down on the seat and nodded. Cameron walked off down the hall and into the bedroom. He picked his and Andrew's wallets up off the top of the dresser and as he turned around he saw something on the doona and cursed thinking it was chocolate or something similar. Making a mental note to wash it later, he left the room.
Sitting in the cinema a time later watching the film, Cameron decided that he needed a drink. Reaching over he put his hand on Andrew's upper thigh and was surprised by the hiss that slipped past his friend's lips. Cameron put his lips close to Andrew's ear.
"Are you ok?" He asked concerned to which Andrew nodded his head.
"You surprised me is all." Cameron nodded.
"I'm going to the candy bar. Would you like anything?" Andrew shook his head and Cameron slipped from the seats, confusion crossing his face.
After the movie let out Mitch walked up ahead of Andrew and Cameron, chattering away about the movie to Tyler on the other end of the phone line. Cameron casually draped his arm across Andrew's shoulder who stiffened slightly then relaxed a little.
"So Andy, what's going on?" He asked. Andrew looked at Cameron confused.
"You weren't really surprised in the theatre so don't try and kid me. What's going on?" Cameron pushed. Andrew shook his head to which Cameron raised an eyebrow.
"Don't try and kid me Andy. We've known each other far too long." Andrew said nothing and kept walking. Cameron let the topic drop as they caught up with Mitch. Mitch looked at the pair and the brooding look on Andrew's face and decided that perhaps silence was the best course of action.
When they got back to the apartment, Andrew went straight down to the bedroom claiming he was tired and needed to rest. Cameron was doubtful but let it go. Sighing, Cameron sat down beside Mitch who looked at him.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Mitch asked. Cameron looked down then at Mitch.
"Something is going on with Andy. He hissed when I touched his leg at the cinema and it wasn't from surprise. Then he said it was nothing when I quizzed him on it and refused to speak about it." Cameron said.
"He doesn't want you to know what he's doing is all." Mitch said. Cameron cocked his head to the side and looked at Mitch questioningly.
"What is he doing then?" Asked Cameron.
"Cutting himself to bleed the pain out." Mitch said, almost off handedly. Cameron sat bolt upright.
"I saw the cuts this morning in the bathroom. He was wearing a towel but I could see the cuts. Some healed, half healed and one or two that are fairly fresh." Mitch said.
"Why didn't you say anything?" Cameron demanded.
"I haven't had a chance to talk to him yet about it. He's a smart guy, he knows not to go to deep and how to stop the bleeding." Mitch said. Cameron shook his head and rested his head in his hands. Mitch reached out and rubbed his back gently, reassuringly.
"You have to trust him Cam. Otherwise you can never help him to rebuild himself from the broken place he's in now." Mitch said quietly. Cameron shook his head and stood up which caused Mitch to come to his feet and put a restraining hand on Cameron's shoulder.
"You are not going to go down there and yell at him. He has enough to deal with and the least of which should be you blowing the shit out of him." Mitch warned.
"I'm not going to go yell at him. It just occurred to me that it wasn't chocolate on the doona cover but blood. I'm going to go wash it."
"No blowing the shit out of him." Mitch warned.
"How about I just blow him then?" Cameron smirked as Mitch's eyes blinked open in surprise. Cameron grinned and walked down to the bedroom.
As Cameron closed the door, Andrew stirred slightly on the bed. He opened his eyes slightly as he felt the bed dip and Cameron's body press up against his, kissing him behind the ear.
"Mitch we can't, Cameron's home." He muttered sleepily. Cameron chuckled behind him and pulled Andrew closer.
"Andy, can you wake up a bit? I want to talk to you."
"Hmm?" Andrew asked turning his head slightly to listen.
"Andy, I love you and want to help you in any way I can. You know that right?" Cameron asked.
"Yeh, course." Andrew replied, still half asleep.
"How long have you been cutting yourself?" Cameron pushed. Andrew's eyes flew open, instantly wide awake.
"Wha?" He asked struggling to sit up, only to find Cameron holding him in place preventing him from fleeing.
"The hiss at the cinema, the blood on the doona. Mitch said he saw some of the cuts this morning in the bathroom." Cameron told him. Andrew cringed and tried to break free again.
"Andy, I'm not letting go. I'm not angry. I'm worried about you and want to help."
"It lets the demons free. When I cut myself the pain goes away for a while." Andrew said.
"Ok, if it helps. I have one thing to ask and it's not that you stop before you say anything. When you want or feel the need to cut yourself, come and get Mitch or I. That way we can be there if you cut to deep or something goes wrong." Cameron said. Andrew shook his head in disbelief.
"You're ok with it?"
"Not in the least but it's something you feel you need to do and I'm not about to stop you. I just hope one day you do stop and come back to me." Cameron told him. Andrew stopped trying to pull away and instead turned in Cameron's arms and buried his head in the crook of Cameron's neck and felt tears slip down over his cheeks.
"I'll try." Andrew whispered and pushed his face further into Cameron letting his tears slip silently over cheeks.