Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt is to use a word with the letters “mb” in it in that order. Which had me going: how in the world am I going to find a word to use(okay, there may have been other words in there). So, I went to my handy-dandy dictionary app and started searching. There were a lot more words than I’d figured. So, I chose one and instantly thought of where I’d left off last week’s post with Devil and Hawk’s(though they went by Damon and Gavin back then) history together. So, I’ll pick up with it this week(and it turned out a lot longer than I’d expected. Oops).
Damon wanted to embrace this boy, but he shoved that feeling down as far as it would go. He was still reeling from what Travis had done. His head was ringing from hitting it against that brick wall. But, he wasn’t going to let this boy see that weakness. Trusting Travis had gotten him in this situation in the first place. Blindly trusting someone else wouldn’t get him out of it.
Still he followed him out of the alley. Hawking, Alex had called him. Damon figured that was probably a last name, though. He didn’t ever know the guy’s first name, and he was going along with him without question. His father would call him an idiot if he ended up getting mugged.
It wouldn’t be the first time his dad called him that. Or worse.
“You got a safe place to go once you’re fixed up?”
Damon didn’t know why the man’s voice kept taking him by surprise. Everything about him screamed: “I’m a big, tough guy.” And yet that voice was soft, gentle. It felt like a caress over everything that was still aching in him. It made him ache in a totally different way. But, he knew what would happen if he let that get out of control. His father had made that clear. And it scared him.
He’d thought Travis was worth it, but the other kid had only been using him. This guy probably wasn’t any different, though he hadn’t made a move yet. And that worried him. What did he want anyway?
“I’m not homeless,” he snapped out.
“That’s wasn’t what I asked. Damon, wasn’t it?”
Not what he’d asked. But, he’d asked if he had somewhere to go. No, somewhere safe to go. Like home might not be. And he looked so worried right now, Damon had to wonder if he was asking from experience. Did he save people every weekend? “Yeah,” he said, wanting to wipe that worry from the guy’s face. “And yeah, I can go home. I was grounded, so they’ll yell that I left the house. But, yeah, it’s safe.”
Damon grew more anxious as they approached the store Hawking was taking him to. What if this guy did ask questions instead of just fixing up the cut on his head? He didn’t want to tell anyone what Travis was going to make him do. It hadn’t happened, so it didn’t matter anyway. Even though just the thought made him sick.
But, the old man didn’t ask anything. Only some question to the other kid about books. Books of all things. Then, he walked with hem to the back room, cleaned the cut and put a bandage over it. There’d been more blood than the cut called for. Then, Hawking–Gavin, the old man had called him–walked him out of the store.
“You don’t really have to walk me home. I can get there on my own.”
“I’ll worry if I don’t know for myself you’re safe.”
“You really do think you’re everyone’s savior, don’t you?”
Gavin went silent at that, and Damon wished he hadn’t shoved his foot in it again. He was always doing that. At least he didn’t live far away. Gavin could go once he was back home. He didn’t want Gavin to go.
“Don’t tell them,” he said quickly. “They can know I was in a fight, but don’t tell them the rest. Don’t even tell ’em it was Travis. He’s the reason I was grounded in the first place.” Because his dad had caught them kissing. And his dad was apparently trying to save Damon’s soul from hell.
“I won’t say a word,” Gavin promised. “Tell them whatever you need.”
But, something about him had gone still even though he was still walking right beside Damon. Finally, they reached his house, and Damon’s hands grew wet with sweat as he approached the front door. It opened before he could reach for the handle. His dad’s hand came out wrapped around his arm and jerked him through the door.
“What do you think you’re doing, boy? You weren’t supposed to leave the house.”
“Sorry, Dad,” he said without looking up. “I shouldn’t’ve broken the rules.”
“You’re damn right about that.”
“Sir,” Gavin said, stepping forward, “your son-”
Damon wanted to shake his head at Gavin, tell him to just turn and go. But, he saw the concern in his eyes and knew it wouldn’t matter. “I don’t know who you are, but you don’t need to be here. You don’t need to be twisting my boy’s mind more than it already is.”
I winced at that, one of the accusations he always threw at me. The reason I liked kissing boys as well as girls. Gavin’s eyes came to mine then, and they held another accusation. I’d said I was safe here, and he didn’t believe me now. “It’s fine,” I told him.
“You said you were safe here.”
His dad’s face turned dark at the accusation in his words. “I don’t beat my son, even if he deserves it. Get out of here.”
“There’s more than one kind of harm,” Gavin murmured even as the door swung shut between them.
Dad turned on me then. “What the hell are you telling people, Damon? That I hurt you?”
He shook his head. “I didn’t.” He saw his little brother peek his head around the corner and hoped his dad would keep the tongue-lashing to a minimum this time.
He just sighed in disgust. “Go to your room. I don’t want to see your face until your mom has dinner ready.”
Damon opened his door at the soft knock. His little brother, Andy, stood there. Damon had only been allowed out of his room the last two days for meals and to use the bathroom. His parents hadn’t even let Andy come in to see him. Nothing like being put in solitary confinement. He was surprised his dad hadn’t boarded the window shut so he couldn’t sneak out.
“What’s up, buddy?” Damon asked. “You shouldn’t be here. Don’t want you to get in trouble.”
“Some guy dropped this off for you,” he said, holding a book out to Damon. “Said it was for you to keep safe.”
There was that word again. Had Gavin brought this to him? But, why? “What did he look like?”
The boy shrugged. “Some old guy. Just said to make sure you got the book.”
It must have been the guy from the bookstore, then, not Gavin. He shouldn’t be so disappointed by that. “Thanks, buddy. You should go, though, before Dad catches you.”
“He shouldn’t get so mad at you.”
Maybe not. “But, he does. It’ll be all right. They’ll get over it soon.” He hoped. He had a little more than two years before he could get out of here. He hoped he didn’t spend the rest of it banished to his room.
Once Andy left, Damon took the book to his bed. He didn’t read, except when he was forced to for school. Even then, he barely skimmed it. But, he ran a hand over the cover of this book. Gavin hadn’t brought it himself, but it had to be from him. “The History of the United States Marine Corps,” he read. Then, he flipped open the cover. A sheet of paper slid out into his lap. He set the book down and picked up the paper. His name was at the top.
Hope you weren’t in too much trouble the other day. You said your place was safe, and I’m holding you to the fact you meant physically. That doesn’t say anything for emotionally. But, I’ll be back on base by the time you see this, so there’s not much I can do to make sure of either. I don’t know when I’ll be back around, but I want you to have my address so you can get in touch if you want. After what we talked about, I thought you’d like the book, too. I hope I’ll hear from you sometime, but if not, keep yourself safe anyway.
Damon stared at the note for a few minutes then slipped it into the top drawer of his desk. He didn’t know what he was going to do, but he hoped this wasn’t the last time he ever heard from Gavin.