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Brave As a Noun

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Adam tapped his fingers on the wheel as the light remained red as a rock band softly played through his aux cord. Lawrence simply spaced out, staring out of the front window. Adam’s eyes flicked over to him then back to the front window, then back to Lawrence, then the front windshield. “Hey, Lawrence,” The doctor looked to him expectantly. Adam faltered, This is stupid. This is really fuckin’ stupid. “Nevermind, it’s nothing.” Lawrence furrowed.

“What is it,” Lawrence pressed.

“It’s dumb, really, just forget it.” Adam leaned away from him. I’m so stupid-

“No, you’re upset. What’s wrong, Adam?”

They sat there silently for a couple of minutes, Adam focusing on the road, Lawrence focusing on him.

“What are we doing?”

Lawrence stared at him dumbly, Adam not meeting his gaze. It took a minute but Lawrence finally understood, by then Adam had continued. “We fuck, we sleep in the same bed, we kiss, and hug, but-” Adam took in a shaky breath, not looking at him, “but we don’t go on dates, we don’t hold hands, we fight all the fuckin’ damn time, and you’re - you’re…”

Lawrence gaped at him, it went without saying. No matter how much Lawrence wanted him, the fact remained.

He was married for the time being.

“Adam, it’s not that simple,” he searched for the words, “I like you a lot, I truly do, you’re kind and compassionate, you’re handsome and smart, I love sleeping next to you, with you too, but you’re right. I am,” Lawrence wasn’t necessarily sure where to take this, “Adam, you know things would be different if I wasn’t.”

Adam rolled his eyes. “Fuck off, Larry,” he said quietly, no true bite behind it.

“Adam,” Lawrence breathed out.

“You think you still you can save your fuck up of a marriage, don’t you?” Lawrence massaged the bridge of his nose but didn’t respond. Adam hit the breaks and looked over at Lawrence with all the emotion he could muster. “Holy fuck… you do.” Lawrence didn’t react. “You love her.”

“Adam… I didn’t say that- “ people started honking their horns behind them. “Adam, c’mon, let’s not do this while we’re in the middle of traffic.” Adam didn’t move.

“You still fucking love her Lawrence,” Adam choked as his eyes glossed over, “You fucking bastard!” The honking got worse.

“At least pull over. Adam c’mon we’re going to cause an accid-”

“You slept with me twice with the knowledge that you still loved her? What the fuck did I mean to you then?”

“With every ounce of due respect, Adam, you slept with me with full knowledge that I was married. Pull over!”

Adam finally obliged and pulled into a parking spot. “I should’ve fucking known I was just a quick fuck, I shouldn’t have ever fucking done this shit,” Adam was wiping his face quickly, trying to avoid crying any harder. Lawrence placed a hand on his shoulder but was shoved off in record time. “Don’t fucking touch me!”

“You’re putting words in my mouth, I don’t - I didn’t say that” Lawrence looked dumbfounded.

“Look me dead in the eyes and correct me then, Lawrence.”

Lawrence sighed and softly rolled his eyes. “Will that make you feel better?”

“Yes! Yes, it will. I need you to make a decisive choice.”

Lawrence stared at him like he was insane, he did love him, but he also couldn’t guarantee that he didn’t care for Alison. She was his wife and the person with whom he’d made a life. Despite that life failing he still tried, and he got a beautiful daughter out of it. Adam on the other hand had shared the most traumatic experience he’d ever had with him, went through hell and high water with Lawrence, had been lied to, and still went to bed with him - more often than not.

He knew he loved Adam. Didn’t Adam know that too?

“Adam, that is ridiculous, you can’t give me an ultimatum between my wife and you!”

“No, you are un-fucking-believable! I’m so done, oh my god.” Adam rubbed his eyes.

“Adam, I love you, but that is my wife,”

“Your wife, who you love more than me with your pristine and perfect life.” Adam shifted the car into drive and turned into an alleyway, getting ready to head to the house. “Oh, go fuck yourself.” Lawrence gripped his door handle in the minor panic of them speeding now. “I’ll just stop corrupting your fucking perfect life with your bullshit unhappy marriage and I’ll go ahead and get my fucking shit and I’ll leave, how about it? That’s what you want, right?”

“You’re putting words in my mouth.”

“No, no, you’re so fucking happy with Alison, I have no motherfuckin’ right to be involved in any of this shit, I’m just a liability! Excuse the fuck outta me for intruding upon your peaceful home!”

“Adam,” Lawrence sighed to compose himself. “Stop talking,” a beat, “I don’t want you to go. I do love you, but my career is in jeopardy, as is my relationship with my daughter. How am I meant to explain whatever the hell you and I are to her?”

Adam licked his teeth. “I dunno, maybe tell her about how you and Alison hate each other’s fucking guts and how this Adam guy isn’t as bad as she thinks, and that Alison is a fucking shit-eating bitch who took her away from you to fucking begin with. I bet you two shake fuckin’ hands after sex,” Lawrence was stunned to silence “Oh, and maybe mention that you don’t want to go to AA, that wa-”

“I didn’t even initiate the divorce. I don’t know where we went wrong.”

Adam exaggerated a loud laugh. “Get the fuck out!” he sat higher in his seat “Let us begin at you being gay and then let’s try on you never liking anything remotely notable about her, then maybe the fact that you cheated on her back before anything jigsaw ever fucking happened. Maybe the alcoholism? That really is a pain in the ass to deal with Larry, you’re like taking care of a fucking baby.”

“I’m not proud of any of that-”

“The great Lawrence Gordon is not proud! I can’t believe this shit! Call the goddamn news stations, phone the fucking paper!”

Lawrence ignored him, “but Diana won’t understand that.”

“Lawrence she's, what- nine? She won’t even know what divorce means for another half of her fucking life. Trust me, that shit is a cakewalk, you can explain the details later. My parents split when I was a kid and the closest to an explanation I ever got was, “You’re not gonna see dad for a while,” she’ll be fine, Don’t fucking use her as a shield to hide behind your inability to call it quits on your bogus ‘marriage’” he did air quotes as they pulled into the driveway, “That shit’s only real on paper,” Lawrence couldn’t argue that, it was a fact. Adam squinted as a brief moment of confusion passed through him. “Who’s fucking car is that?”

Lawrence was tired and nothing even started. “You ready for Alison?”

“That’s her car?”

“Yeah.” Lawrence didn’t move to get out of the car. Neither did the - still fuming - Adam. “Look, Adam, I’m sorry,” Adam scoffed and looked off to the side. “I don’t just mean for everything about her, I mean for getting so defensive. I love you. I do.” Adam seemed pleased enough.

“And?”

“And, I don’t want to be married to her anymore. It’s miserable,” he said this softer. “Sure, deep, deep down I think I can save it but I… I also know that you and I have something I couldn’t even begin to find with her.”

Adam sat still and processed and then nodded, “Okay.” he took the keys out of the ignition. “That's it?” Lawrence knew this had been a long time coming.

“No. Adam, I’m so sorry for lying to you.”

Adam couldn’t bring himself to make eye contact, “You didn’t just lie to me, Lawrence, you fucking manipulated me, and you treated me like shit,” Adam looked up at the house - but not Lawrence, “You’ve been working for that asshole since the day we met and you couldn’t even bring yourself to tell me, I had to find out on my own time.”

“Don’t forget, Adam, you were the one going through my mail.”

“Lawrence you looked shady as fuck! Yes! I went through your mail and you can say that as much as you want but what you have to also acknowledge is the fact that you were working for John fucking Kramer! He tried to fucking kill me - us! Has that set in for you?”

“Yes! Yes, it fucking has, Adam!”

The concept of Lawrence raising his voice was, although not foreign was always frightening. They sat in awkward silence for a few seconds so that both Lawrence and Adam could recuperate. “I hear the conversation at the damn hospital about me, and how I’m a selfish bastard, I hear the way people talk about me and you too, Adam, matter of fact, I know that the whole goddamn floor will just get a damn kick out of it if they find out that you and I are together,” Lawrence was rubbing his eyes to fend off frustrated tears. “I ignore them, I swear I do but I don’t like gossip, Adam, and I can’t help but hear it when they laugh under their breath because they know and-”

Lawrence got to panting and Adam could only stare and listen, Lawrence needed this - hell, he needed him to do this. “Adam, I can’t stand it when they get to saying that I’m not a good father and that I make for an awful husband, and then they…” Lawrence leaned back in the seat and sighed deeply. “I try so goddamn hard and they just can’t help but tell me how shitty I am! I can’t take it anymore, Adam! I get locked in a damn room with my family held captive, I lose my goddamn foot, I shoot my, now lover, almost kill myself, get stuck in a hospital for who knows how goddamn long, and have to play this goddamn sterile, perfect, stoic family man who disappears into the background and I can’t keep up anymore, I just can’t do it!”

 

Adam, for the first time in what felt like forever, experienced pure empathy,

he understood.

At this moment, in the strangest way possible he felt his stomach twist at the thought that Lawrence had been tossing this around in his head; that these were his rules to live by. Despite feeling it himself for that moment he was still unsure of what to do, so he just rubbed Lawrence’s shoulder cautiously. “That’s not true, Lawrence, you don’t have to be perfect for me,” he said softer. Lawrence’s shoulders shook as sobs wracked through him and he tangled his hands in his hair.

“I have to take care of you! I have to take care of everyone, but I have to protect you-”

“Lawrence, you aren’t obligated to protect anybody. Fuck those people at the hospital gossiping, fuck Jigsaw and fuck everyone else, okay?” Lawrence didn’t react. “Besides,” Adam nudged him. “I’m the kinda girl who likes a man who shows emotion,” Lawrence stuttered out a strangled sound that lived somewhere between a laugh and a sob - Adam stared to gauge his reaction until it was clear he was laughing and in no time they were cracking up. Lawrence was still wiping tears from his face, if he ever deserved to cry it was now. Lawrence hadn’t even started to shed a tear since he sawed his foot off.

Their relationship was weird. Very, Very weird. But it worked for them. It was uniquely theirs.

“Y’know,” Lawrence sniffed and Adam reached across him to flip his glove compartment open; handing him a few napkins with the Mcdonalds logo on them in bold red font, then closing it again and leaning his chair back with the lever on the side, clasping hands on his lap like he were in a coffin. “I never wanted to be the kind of father or the kind of father whose kid could say they’d never seen him cry,” he paused to clean his face, somehow Adam found this endearing. They really were strange, huh. “So I remember the first time I cried in front of Diana I was pissed at her, she’d spilled juice on this nice creme rug we’d just bought and I… I was so angry and frustrated that I just bawled. She asked me what was wrong and all I could say was that I would be alright.”

Once they gathered themselves They both sighed, Lawrence closed his eyes to fully process. “So,” Adam started. “Truce?” Lawrence uncontrollably laughed, opening his eyes back up to look over at him,

“What are we? Five?” Adam couldn’t help but smile back. “Yeah, Ad’s, we’ve gotta truce. Need to shake on it?” Adam rolled his eyes this time and opened his car door, Lawrence took his time to get out of the car but was stopped but Adam’s hand on his arm. “Yeah?” Adam leaned forward and pressed a brief kiss to Lawrence’s lips.

“For good luck.”

“Wow, we’re teenagers now, huh? Y’know I’m not feelin’ too lucky, maybe I need an extra kiss”

“Get the hell outta my whip, old man.” Adam put the seat back up.

“Your Whip?” Lawrence scoffed playfully. “In your dreams.”

The two of them exchanged soft laughs as they walked up to the house; Adam, in turn, unlocked the door but in the process dropped his car keys, quietly cursing but like the gentleman he was Lawrence softly told him “I’ve got it,” and took his time getting Adam’s car keys “You need to hook those onto your keys or I swear you’ll lose them one day” Adam waved him off, Lawrence dropped the keys in his pocket, Adam thanked him as he continued to be confused about which keys belonged to the front door, Lawrence smiled softly. “Gold key” Adam nodded, finally opened the front door, the first thing he saw being Alison Gordon staring him dead in the face from the middle of the living room.

He froze like a deer in headlights.

This was potentially the most sobering thing Adam had ever experienced.

This was Alison.

This was Lawrence’s wife.

“Alison.” Lawrence eased.

“Lawrence,” Alison responded.

Adam stood still, unsure of his place in all this, yet fearful that if he moved he’d disrupt something.

he hesitated; for he was unsure of what to say next. This is Adam who I’m now dating. This is Adam who lives with us now. This is Adam who I shot and was supposed to kill. This is Adam who I’m in love with. This is Adam, this divorce is messy and I’m moving out. There was no good way to say it. So he let it be, simply, “Alison this is Adam,”

“Alison,” Adam said this time, she looked him up and down, raising and waving a hand from a distance as though taking a step forward were dangerous. Adam just waved back uncomfortably.

“I’m uh,” Adam started and cleared his throat. “I’m gonna go uh,” the rest of his sentence was lost as he tried to walk past the stare-down but got stopped by Lawrence’s hand.

“Stay,” the “this is about you” went without saying. “Are you staying?”

Alison sighed and broke the eye contact. “I don’t know, I might. He seems awfully comfortable, though doesn’t he?”

“Don’t talk about Adam like that,” he exaggerated this by pointing at her. “He needed a place to stay and he reached out to me,” leaving out talking Adam into staying with him.

Alison nodded, deadpan, before crossing her arms, taking a look around like she was searching for something to call out, settling on something in her head, crossing her arms across her chest. “So how’ve you been?” Lawrence almost rolled his eyes. Settling with a long blink.

“Just fine.” Lawrence wasn’t meeting her eyes; this threw Adam because this was Lawrence, Lawrence who rarely lost his cool, Lawrence who couldn’t be punked unless you pushed, and pushed, Lawrence who could - whether he was or not, behave like he wasn’t afraid of anything or anyone, Lawrence could not bring himself to look her eyes.

Alison hummed. This was like watching a shark circle its prey; her eyes going between the two men. That gaze was damn vicious. “Well, Lawrence. You wanted to talk let's talk,” she glanced back at Adam a few times. “I just hate to be rude-” the sarcasm was not lost on them “but can he go elsewhere?”

“No, but we can.” Lawrence headed for his office, Alison followed, Adam stayed rooted in his place in the middle of the living room - this was all too similar to his parent’s divorce, the secretiveness, quiet offhanded comments to one another, the only difference being that now he was an adult and these weren’t his parents; he couldn’t even pretend like it was warranted to be a part of the process. He figured he’d do what he did then, go out, drive around with no set destination, just so long as he was out of their way when the yelling started up.

Adam patted his pockets to find his wallet and cigarettes in a separate pocket, then his phone, he furrowed and took to patting himself again, remembering that Lawrence had his car keys, he sighed, closing his eyes tightly, he headed for Lawrence’s office, their conversation becoming more and more legible, the sounds of knocking on the doorframe. Adam kept his eyes locked on the floorboards,

“Are you fucking him?” Alison’s words stung harshly, Adam stood still where he was, Lawrence was standing on the opposite side of the room of her “don’t even try to fucking lie to me I see that look in your eye, I swear to God Lawrence,”

The silence in the room was the loudest noise Adam had ever heard as he stood dead in his tracks.

“Yes, I am, and he’s fantastic.”

Adam looked up so fast his head spun like Regan from the exorcist,

“Adam is gentle, understanding, caring, and sweet and he is quite frankly the best and most communicative and thoughtful lover or partner I have ever had.” Adam still couldn’t fathom the topic at hand, this was the same man who cringed at the topic of their sex life, this is the same man who he’d just fought in his car and for once adam didn’t think he’d want it any other way.

“I’ll spare you the details but yes he and I are sleeping together, You can have the house if you want it, I don’t care anymore, Alison. I want Diana and you know this, but it’s fine, I’ll move out and you can take that issue up with my lawyer, I’ll get to packing.” Lawrence headed for the door, leaving a processing Alison in his wake, taking Adam’s hand to bring him with him. “Let’s go, stress is bad for my leg.”

Adam blinked, realizing he was walking with Lawrence to what had been their shared bedroom for the past few weeks, once they got there Lawrence took a moment to stare into space; Adam needed that too.

 

“So that’s Alison, huh?” Lawrence blinked slowly before he made eye contact with him.

“Hm? Yeah, yeah, that’s Alison.” he sighed and went into the closet. “She’s gonna get full custody.” Adam laid back on the bed.

“Why do you say?”

“I work too much, I’m an alcoholic, I’m cheating on her, I’ve brought the man I’m cheating with into my home, I’m a neglectful husband, what more evidence do you need?”

“That’s fair. Where are you gonna go?” Lawrence quietly swore. “You okay?”

“Yeah, I hit my hand.” Lawrence could be heard moving around a bit. “I don’t know, where we’re gonna go, Adam. Might stay at a hotel for a little while until we can get an apartment.”

“We?”

Lawrence walked out of the closet with his polo unbuttoned, clearly starting to sweat. “Yeah,” he said matter of factly, “Unless you... have a place to go? You don’t have to stay with me, I just- I figured since we’re together and everything you’d wanna live with together but, if not I understand.” Lawrence was trying to conceal it and maybe it would’ve worked on someone else but Adam saw the panic in his eyes.

“I figured you’d be pleased to relieve to have rid yourself of me.” Lawrence shook his head quickly and dipped back into the closet.

“No, It’s alright. We’ll go to a nice hotel for a few weeks, I think there are apartments near the hospital; I’ll look, we’ll see.”

“Cool.” they didn’t speak for another thirty minutes or so while Lawrence put the rest of his belongings from the closet into suitcases he had; he sighed as he looked around the bedroom, realizing he was far from finished. “Hey. Law?”

“Yeah,”

“Do you think we’re good people? You and me?”

Lawrence looked over at Adam. “Adam, do you think I’m a good person?”

He contemplated it, with everything Lawrence had done, from the good decisions to the bad; was Lawrence Gordon a good person?

“Yeah, I do, I think you’re a good person”

“Well, it looks like we’re good people then if we both think so,” he smiled, and for the first time in a while, Lawrence’s smile reached his eyes, something about it made adam inexplicably happy. Things almost felt normal.

“That or we’re both fuckin nutso.”

“I think I’ll just keep telling myself the first one,”

Almost normal