Gavin awoke the next morning, head absolutely pounding. He groaned and rolled over, his abdomen screaming in pain. Memories of the previous night flashed in his mind, slowly forming a somewhat coherent story. Bar fight, knife pulled, cops called, getting thrown out, being driven back to his apartment… RK900.
Gavin groaned even louder and ran his hands over his face, trying to will his head to stop spinning and his body to stop screaming. Fucking RK900, that’s right. Some dumb drunk bitches made it seem like someone just got ganked and RK900 just had to roll up in his fucking too nice car.
Carefully, he slowly pushed himself up into a seated position, hissing through his clenched teeth as the wrappings against his abdomen shifted against it, causing the slice to alight in a stinging pain. He hadn’t done as good of a job cleaning up as he could have – blame the vodka for everything – but at least the wound was cleaned. Who knows what was on that meat-brained fucker’s knife?
Muscles ached throughout his body as he moved, throwing his legs over the edge of the bed. Hands and knuckles were bruised and swollen, shoulders were tight and throbbing, the muscles in his abdomen were straining against his wound… Gavin was sufficiently fucked up.
Finally on his feet, he resisted the urge to stretch and instead grabbed some fresh clothes. Maybe a shower would help soothe his soreness, though the heat would most likely irritate the gash across his stomach – win some, lose some, he figured. Deciding on a loose, comfy outfit, he headed to his bathroom, noting that Asshole was (thankfully) curled up on the arm of the couch, with Queenie laying atop the cat tree in the corner. Gavin vaguely remembered them coming out of hiding last night while he was cleaning himself up, having hid from RK900 as they both detested strangers.
Fucking RK900… Who does he really think he is, to act like he even gave a singular fuck about Gavin? Bullshit.
“H-hey, De,” he managed, flinching at how hoarse his voice sounded.
“Hey Gavin. You don’t sound too good there, you okay?”
“Ah, uh… Rough night,” he managed lamely, sitting up as carefully as possible, the slash across his abdomen alighting in faint stinging pain.
“Pretty rough?” came the concerned reply. Gavin sighed heavily.
“I… got pretty fucked up in a bar fight and my stupid fucking work partner just had to be the one to bail me out of it and take me home.”
“Oh man, yea, that… that is pretty rough,” De muttered, frowning on the other end of the line. “Do you need anything? I can come over and make my mom’s killer fuckin’ chili and beer bread. Might make you feel better.”
Gavin hesitated, freezing at the thought of someone – other than RK900 – seeing his apartment. It was semi-clean, at least, his depression having not been too horrible as to force him into living in a trash pit. But did he really want De to see him in this state…? A nice, home-cooked meal sounded good, however…
“Ah, uh, I mean… I dunno, I’m pretty fucked up. I’d hate to ruin your wonderful illusion of me.”
“Oh please, Gavin,” came the chuckled reply. He could picture Deondre rolling his eyes. “Come on, I’ve shown you mine – now you show me yours.”
Gavin groaned and slumped back into the couch. “Damnit, fine, you win. I can’t get off my ass to cook anyways… which reminds me, I have like, no food…”
“Don’t worry, Gavin, I’ll grab everything I need. I’ll see you around five, how does that sound?”
“That… that sounds good, De. I’ll see you then.”
“What’s up?” he did his very best to sound casual.
“It’s De, Gavin,” came the smooth reply. Deondre grinned into the camera, perfect white teeth flashing in the light.
“I’ll let you in,” Gavin replied, flushing as he grinned in reply.
A few moments later, he was opening his door to allow Deondre into his apartment. “Oh fuck,” were the first words leaving De’s mouth. Gavin paled slightly, shoulders slumping. “You were not kidding, you got fucked up.” De moved to set the grocery bags on the entryway table, a careful hand reaching out to cup Gavin’s face – he did his best not to flinch away, but the grimace was still there. De let his hand fall away.
“Told you,” Gavin quipped, managing a weak chuckle. He crossed his arms across his chest – a defense mechanism.
“Have you iced that at all? You’re lucky you didn’t get your pretty face totally broken,” De remarked, grabbing the groceries and heading to the kitchen. “You’ve got a nice place, by the way. Can’t say I’m surprised.” That last sentence was punctuated by a warm smile that made Gavin flush slightly.
“I had had ice on it, but I passed out on the couch and it melted. I’ll deal with it later, I’m on enough pain-killers I don’t feel shit.” A lie, but whatever. The dull sting from the knife wound was mostly ignorable. “And thanks. It’s relatively knew, I only moved in about a month or so ago.”
“Oh? That’s cool. And, well, here,” Deondre paused to shuffle through one of the grocery bags before withdrawing a bottle of wine. “I know the painkillers probably got you fucked up enough, but there’s always room for wine, right?” Another grin.
Gavin chuckled and made his way into the kitchen to fish out two wine glasses from an overhead cabinet. “Please, it’s gonna take more than some Vicodin and wine to really get me fucked up. You know how many shots I had that night we met?”
“Are you bragging?” came the amused reply. Gavin stuttered a second, fumbling, his discomfort immediately obvious to Deondre. “I’m just kidding, Gavin. Some of the shit you’ve probably seen and had to deal with, I can’t imagine how hard it is sometimes.”
“Y-yea…” Gavin murmured, blindly looking for his corkscrew. “Shit’s rough.”
Deondre frowned, setting down the bag in his hand and moving over to Gavin. He reached a careful hand out, letting it fall on the small of Gavin’s lower back. “I’m sorry if I upset you with that, Gavin,” he remarked, voice soft.
Gavin heaved a sigh and turned to him. “You’re fine, it’s fine. It’s just… Fuck, it’s the anniversary of something really, really shitty right around the corner and I… I’m trying to hold it together, y’know?” He shrugged at that, shifting from one foot to the other, avoiding looking De in the face.
“I get it, Gavin,” De rumbled, drawing Gavin in slightly closer. “You don’t have to talk about it, but I get it. I’ve had some pretty shitty things happen too.”
Gavin let himself lean into Deondre, body relaxing against his broad form. “Being a human fucking sucks,” he muttered, allowing himself a faint chuckle. De laughed softly at that.
“It certainly does. Now, how about I get started on food and you pour us some wine?”
“Sounds good to me.”
So why did it all feel so hollow?
He should be fucking happy. De was a great guy – far better than Gavin had been with in years. He could see actually being in a content relationship with Deondre, settling down and just living out the rest of his life… It would be, should be, the best thing to happen to him in years. So why wasn’t it?
With a heavy sigh, Gavin carefully pushed himself up off of the bed. He grabbed his phone and cigarettes before quietly leaving the bedroom, heading to his small balcony. Maybe fresh air would clear his head – eliminate the emptiness sitting in his chest like a weight.
Maybe it was because the loss of Ryan was weighing on him, threatening to drag him underwater… The fact that it had been ten years… That had to be it. That just had to be it.
Gavin sat on the edge of his balcony, legs dangling over the concrete lip as he sparked up a cigarette. He scrolled listlessly through various social media apps, trying to ignore the empty feeling, trying to feel a semblance of happiness – even if it was just vicarious.
He froze as he came across a photo that Connor had posted. A selfie, but just behind him, standing somewhat stiffly and with his hands clasped behind his back, was RK900. Connor had a rather large grin on his cheery face, and RK900 sported a crooked smile. It looked strained, ever-so-slightly, but those ice blue eyes seemed to be alive. The caption simply read, “at the park”.
Gavin hadn’t realized he had stopped breathing, but as his lungs began to burn in protest, he took a deep and shaky breath. Holy fuck.
Connor and RK900 appeared to be out at a park. Judging from the wrap of a lead around Connor’s hand, they were probably walking Sumo. Why RK900 was even there, tagging along, was a mystery in and of itself. Maybe he’d gone to see Connor, so what? They were, like, brothers, right? Gavin shook his head, paused a moment, before leaving a like on the photo.
He scrolled down a touch further, past an ad, past random memes, past a couple photos of Tina and Andrea, before he froze on another image. This time it was just RK900 – posted earlier that day – as the android was mauled by a rather large Saint Bernard. Sumo, Gavin surmised. The photo appeared to be taken in Hank’s living room, judging by the scenery that hadn’t changed in a couple years.
Gavin’s heart momentarily ached as he remembered sitting on that very couch, a glass of whiskey in his hand as he and Hank flirted the night away, desperately trying to forget Hank’s pending divorce and his custody battle over the son he would lose only a couple months later. The loss that would absolutely destroy him, just like Gavin’s loss had done to him. He briefly wondered if Hank ever told Connor how deep-in they were before everything went to absolute hell – but he figured probably not. No use dragging up what-ifs and could-have-beens.
Gavin took a shuddery breath around his cigarette, squeezing his eyes shut. Fuck, he was a grade-A fuck up through and through.
The sound of the sliding door opening and the feeling of a blanket being draped around him pulled Gavin from his reminiscence. “Hey,” came De’s warm voice as he made to sit next to Gavin, giving him welcomed space but placing a gentle hand on his thigh all the same.
“Hey,” Gavin managed back lamely, eyes remaining focused on the city around them.
“You doin’ alright?”
“Y-yea, just… Couldn’t sleep, usual shit,” he replied, turning to look at De, a lopsided smile on his face. De merely nodded in return, turning to look out over the expanse of gleaming city.
They sat in silence for a bit, De eventually sliding a joint from his pocket and offering it to Gavin, who graciously accepted. They remained on the balcony, legs over the edge, passing the joint back-and-forth in comfortable stillness.
“It’s been a while since I smoked,” Gavin eventually remarked, leaning back to brace himself against the concrete floor of the balcony. Brief memories of his teen years flitted through his mind.
“It chills me out when I’m anxious,” Deondre replied, shifting to pull a leg up to himself. “Thank fuck they legalized it years ago – I think I’d be a right fuckin’ mess without it.”
Gavin laughed softly at that, looking over at De. The slightly larger man was alit in the warm glow of faint city lights, long braids trailing down his back, his rich skin absolutely gleaming. The hollow ache, however, remained – and Gavin cursed himself for it. Maybe De was too perfect for him. Maybe it really was too good to be true.
“Gavin?” came the soft question, snapping him out of his depressive thoughts.
“Sorry, sorry,” he muttered, waving a hand through the air as he completely flopped against the ground. “I get kinda flighty when I smoke.”
De chuckled, shifting himself to face Gavin more easily. “Well, we should probably get back to sleep then. I have work in the morning, anyways.”
“What is it you do again?”
“I thought I told you I owned a restaurant? Or, well, a pub – but we got real good food.”
“Hm… I don’t recall,” Gavin murmured, willing his eyes to stay open.
“The Grand Trunk Pub,” Deondre breathed against him, lips suddenly hovering over the expanse of skin uncovered by his shirt. “You should come by one day.”
Gavin felt his breath hitch in his throat as a warm hand found his hip. “Absolutely, I will.”