Fake Fan Fiction ❯ That Which Does Not Kill You ❯ Only a Flesh Wound ( Chapter 3 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Okay, so that last chapter was mostly a set-up chapter—a little bit of experimentation with characterization, mixed with some pre-plot development and a dash of fluff.
So yes, nothing happened in that chapter, but that's okay—that was planned, as was this one.
This is another “filler” chapter, if that's what you feel you have to call it, but the content is nevertheless substantial. We get some more looks at how JJ and Drake's relationship has developed, and how it will continue to develop while the boys deal with their new troubles.
Enjoy, kiddies!
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Chapter 3—Only a Flesh Wound
JJ didn't stir again until the sun had climbed into the sky and the bed was bathed in early morning sunlight. Glancing over at the clock, he groaned and dropped his head back onto the pillow; it was a little after seven, and he was late for work. Sighing heavily, he rolled over to wake his lover, only to find the space next to him empty.
It wasn't until he was rolling lazily out of bed and fumbling for the lamp that the events of the day before came back to him. He heard the sound of a gunshot ringing loudly in his ears, and saw blood exploding from his target's back as the bullet went in; it was all so clear, as though it were happening in that very moment instead of in an hours-old memory.
When Drake came into the room, it was to find JJ staring off into space, his shirt clutched in his hands; he held the fabric so tightly that his knuckles were white.
JJ blinked, his eyes skidding to the doorway, and Drake felt his heart tug at the look on the other man's face. He just looked so…lost. Confused…and so very, very alone. Then, as the two stood there and stared at each other, JJ's face slowly crumpled, and the tears finally started.
Drake cleared the room in a heartbeat, his arms coming up to wrap around his lover. JJ didn't return the embrace; he simply stood there, still as a statue, his eyes staring unfocused at the wall as the tears poured out of them. It was only a few minutes later that reality hit, though, and then JJ wrapped his arms around Drake and held on for dear life.
They lost track of how long they stood there, holding each other, the protector and the fallen. When JJ's arms finally fell back to his sides, his eyes were red and swollen, his face puffy and marked with tear tracks. Drake saw this, and did not let go.
“Okay?” the taller man asked softly. Then, feeling JJ nod slightly, he gave his lover another squeeze and released his hold, one hand wandering down to take JJ's. “Come on, get back into bed.”
JJ shook his head. “We have to go to work.”
“No, we don't.” Drake pushed JJ onto the bed, then climbed under the blankets and pulled the other man into his arms. “I talked to the Chief. He gave us the rest of the week off.”
“And…he wants you to see the office therapist when you get back.”
JJ sighed. “Okay.”
“I love you.”
JJ closed his eyes, feeling tears prick the corners again. He didn't know how to respond to that anymore… But Drake didn't seem to expect a response. He just pressed a kiss to the top of JJ's head and let his hands wander down to rub his partner's back soothingly. JJ let his breath out in a long, quavering sigh, and allowed darkness to claim him, taking as much comfort as he could in the gentle contact from the man he loved.
If only it were enough…
The next time JJ woke up, it was nearly eleven and the space next to him was empty again. Faint sounds drifted into the room from the kitchen—gentle clatters and the quiet clink of dishes against each other, then running water.
Smiling slightly, JJ rolled out of bed and had begun fumbling around for a shirt before he remembered that he had no reason to get dressed today. He wasn't prepared for the wave of pain and frustration that this realization brought with it, but he shoved it down and padded out to the kitchen in his pajamas.
Drake was standing at the stove, bacon sizzling in a pan in front of him; he didn't seem to notice that JJ had come into the room, and jumped slightly when a pair of arms snaked around his waist. JJ's head rested lightly against his lover's back, and Drake smiled slightly as he turned to wrap his own arms around the other man.
“Morning,” JJ murmured.
“Morning,” Drake replied. “How're you feeling?”
The only answer was a slight shrug. Like hell.
“Want some breakfast?”
A pause, then, “I don't know.” JJ's voice quavered as he spoke, but didn't crack.
“Nope, sorry, wrong answer. The correct response is, `Yes, Drake, I would love to take part in this delicious breakfast that you slaved over with my best and most profound interests at heart. Please, dish up this wonderful-looking food while I go make myself comfortable at the table. I love you so much for doing this for me!' Now you.”
JJ chuckled softly. “Um…what you said.”
“Good boy. Go sit.”
JJ did as he was told, and a few minutes later, he was picking his way through a too-large plate of Drake's passable cooking and a cold glass of milk. His stomach rebelled immediately upon his first bite of food, but he forced down nearly half the plate to erase the concerned look on Drake's face, then pushed it away.
“You're not gonna finish it?”
“Nah, I'm not that hungry…”
“JJ, you have to eat.”
“I just did,” JJ snapped, before he could stop himself. Guilt immediately reared its ugly head when Drake's eyes dropped to his own plate. “…Sorry.”
Drake smiled slightly. “It's okay. Here, I'll get the dishes. Why don't you go take a shower or something? I'll…pick a movie, okay? What're you in the mood for?”
“…Romantic comedy?” JJ asked hopefully.
Normally, such a suggestion would cause Drake to recoil in horror, but now he just smiled. “Absolutely. See you in a few.”
JJ was feeling a bit better as he dug through his drawers and pulled out a clean pair of pajamas (if he was going to lounge, he was going to do it right). Drake really was trying, and the fact that someone was genuinely concerned about him was doing more for him than anything else could.
The “improved” feeling didn't last long, however…
He had just turned on the water in the shower when he felt a sharp pain in his head, and suddenly he was back at the bank. He felt the sharp jerk in his shoulder as the gun fired, saw the explosion of blood from the deadly blow delivered at his hand, imagined the life suddenly wiped out of the target's eyes…
His breakfast came up almost before he realized what was happening, and he just barely managed to make it to the toilet before he vomited violently.
It was several minutes before he was able to pull himself to his feet. Stumbling immediately, he caught himself on the sink's edge, and looked up to stare into his own eyes in the mirror; those eyes were rimmed by dark circles and held an almost haunted quality.
The look of a killer.
Pushing that thought out of his head, JJ opened the medicine cabinet and pulled out his toothbrush. He couldn't get rid of the memories, but at least he could get rid of the taste…
For the moment…
By the time he returned to the living room well over an hour later (Drake had begun to think his lover might be trying to drown himself), JJ's face was clear and he had managed to fix a smile (albeit a fragile one) on his face.
Drake was waiting for him on the couch, the opening scene of You've Got Mail paused on the television screen in front of him. JJ smiled slightly and went over to sit next to him, allowing himself to be pulled close to his lover's side as the lamp was turned off.
He didn't end up watching much of the movie, having allowed his attention to wander not long after the opening credits. His mind drifted in a sort of half-awake state, not really focusing on anything but the feel of his lover's arms around him; those arms felt good. JJ felt good, or at least…better.
The credits had been rolling for a minute or so before JJ realized that the movie was over, and that Drake had fallen asleep next to him. Even in his slumber, though, he had refused to release his possessive, comforting hold on his boyfriend.
Suddenly, an inexplicable anger flared up in him; what right did Drake have to…to hold him, and care about him, and try to take the pain away? Drake wasn't the one who had fired the gun. Drake wasn't the one who had ended a man's life. Drake wasn't the one who had to live with the guilt. Drake…
The anger died as quickly as it came. Pushing his lover away was an absolutely ridiculous idea, and a surefire way to lose what little sanity he had left.
Sighing, JJ allowed his eyes to drift over the well-known face before him; right now, that face was peaceful and relaxed, the faintest crease between the eyes the only hint of the worries that plagued the man during his waking hours. It was a beautiful sight, there was no denying it…
The ringing of the telephone jerked Drake awake, spoiling the view as he fumbled, half-asleep, for the telephone on the end table.
“What?” Drake tried to snap, but failed miserably due to the sleep that still clogged his voice. Then the exhaustion cleared from his face, and he sat up, the tone in his voice completely different from before as he asked again, “What?”
JJ blinked and watched a varied array of emotions flash across the other man's face. Drake's eyes flickered to him several times during the course of the conversation, a fact that worried JJ more than it probably should have.
“Okay…okay, we're on our way.” Drake hung up the phone, and looked back at his lover. “We have to go.”