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Brave As a Noun

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Lawrence was trying his damndest to be okay with Adam coming in and out of the house unannounced, it was more than he deserved. After the second time Adam came by, he started waiting in the bed. Each time Lawrence would request permission before daring to get in the bed. Once given, Lawrence would carefully put a hand on Adam’s waist, lean in, always with a similar phrase:

“Is it alright if I join you?”

Adam would always respond by explaining how little he cared or how it wasn’t even his own bed. Lawrence would kiss Adam’s cheek or hold him in an attempt to try and truly relish in the moment and despite disappearing every morning Adam seemed to be a little more forgiving. The distance got so enervating, playing cat and mouse wasn’t unfamiliar for Lawrence but that didn’t make it any better. Yet, with every time he passed the liquor store that's exactly one block, a two-minute drive, a five-minute walk, make that approximately eight minutes on his prosthetic, fifty-seven squares and two churches away from his house he had to re-consider whether or not it was worth it.

He figured he was overdue for a detox.

Maybe he should try AA.

Lawrence took some time in the middle of a work-day to find a meeting that didn’t require he sign up or guarantee his re-arrival. This took literal hours which in elapsed time would probably only be about 20ish minutes if you removed him continuously getting paged. Ultimately, he took the bus that was exactly 14 minutes to wait, a three-minute walk away from the closest liquor store, a few minutes on the first two bus stops to reconsider, and by the time he sat down in the audial room, he was filled with nothing but more uncertainty and confusion than he left the house with. The way a church could make you feel so exposed - maybe it was the formation of a circle, everyone had to look at each other, no matter where you looked you had to look at someone - it didn’t do him any favors.

It felt like being intimate with people whose names you hardly knew. The 7th circle of Hell was slowly working it's way toward Lawrence, his hands were clammy and, for the first time in years, he was sure he felt jitters in his right leg. What was he supposed to say? “Oh Hi, I’m Lawrence, I’ve been drinking for as long as it was legal. I used to throw up in the front yard of my medical school because I was too wasted to even get into the building and my roomates were too busy getting me wasted to assist. I’ve been drinking ever since and I only stopped because I’m a fucking hypocrite.”

He settled for just his name and age.

Despite hardly speaking he somehow still felt so exposed. He leaned back into his chair, spinning his cane on it’s side between his knees. God it got so irritating to listen to the stories over and over again. One woman started crying in the middle of speaking and despite his doctor mode being strapped in like a child’s carseat he couldn’t help but slump further back, listening to her sob over miscarrying. He felt bad, sure, and he felt worse for not wanting to make her feel better, and maybe he would have if it weren’t for the fact that this is just a massive circle jerk, lead by - damnit, what was his name? It started with a J, Lawrence was sure of that, but it didn’t matter enough.

“Lawrence, do you have anything you’d like to share?”

Hell no. No, no I don’t, I want to leave, I want to go home, lie in my bed, sob, take all the pills in my house, forget this ever happened, forget jigsaw ever happened, forget Adam ever happened, forget the divorce ever happened, and just sleep. No. I do not have anything I’d like to share. Thank you for asking, asshole.

“No, thank you.” with a soft smile, like a child denying a meal.

“Well don’t be hesitant if you change your mind, we’re here for you.” What was his goddamn name? Lawrence still couldn’t remember, he just smiled and looked back down at the spots where the paint chipped on his cane. God, that meeting couldn’t be over quicker. Lawrence stood away from the circle to put his coat on as everyone got up and spoke to each other, God, he just needed to get back home, it didn’t matter what waited for him if it was Adam, booze, a cold bed, he just couldn’t be here anymore.

He headed for the door as fast as he could, stopping short at the feeling of a hand on his shoulder. He turned his head to meet the unnamed person, Lawrence could’ve sworn he remembered him, he said something about his daughter- he couldn’t remember. He just knew she was in college. Lawrence had to admit to himself though; this stranger was rather attractive. Had to be in his - what? - mid-twenties maybe. It was unimportant. That’s what we’ll call him. Unimportant.

“Hey, you’re new?” Unimportant asked, Lawrence took this time to stare dumbly at him like he didn’t know himself.

“Uh, Yeah,” Lawrence swallowed, fully turning to face unimportant now, his cane was suddenly cooler in his hands, must be the air conditioning, the damn thing was like a thermometer.

“Well, we welcome you to our group,” Lawrence offered a stiff smile in response. Gotta go. “Would you be interested in getting a coffee or something? If you want to talk or...” what about that smile was so off-putting, Lawrence tried to figure out why he knew it was fake. Oh, he was sure of it, but why did he know for sure? Unimportant’s words fell on semi-deaf ears as he tuned him out. Got good at that a long time ago, having an ex-wife who likes to have the same conversations over and over helps.

“Huh? Sorry- what was that last part again?”

“I was asking if you wanted to get some coffee, I like to go to this one diner around the corner.”

No thank you, I’m actually gonna stop by this liquor store and relapse and wouldn’t want to jeopardize your sobriety, kind sir.

“Nah, I’m okay. I actually uh..” Lie faster! Think faster! “I have to get home to my uh- my partner before it’s too late into the evening. I’m cooking tonight.” Lawrence smiled but more at himself than anything.

“Oh! Alright. Do you plan on coming back next week?”

As soon as Lucifer gets let back into heaven I’ll be torpedoing down here! Prosthetic and all!

“Maybe.”

The man nodded with a softer smile. Maybe it was a nervous habit? Lawrence still couldn’t put his finger on it. “What’s your partner’s name?” Okay, now, Lawrence knew he had two choices; assume that sleeping together meant they were together, or fess up and say it was complicated. It was at this moment that Lawrence realized he could say any-and everything to these people and they’d be left with no choice but to believe him. If you’re gonna lie at least make it a good one right? Lie to make things better.

“Adam.” The other man raised his eyebrows for a second, Lawrence couldn’t decide what he was reacting to in the ten seconds he hesitated for, the fact that he was gay or the fact that he was fidgeting with the strap of his prosthetic - but to the naked and unknowing eye, it looked like he was messing with his pants.

“Oh.” he finally pushed out.

“Is that a problem?” Calm down

“No! No, of course not I was just uh- I wouldn’t have read you as…y’know.” Oh, believe me, kind - unnamed - sir, I know I don’t ‘look’ gay. Lawrence furrowed, “What?” The other man choked up a little, glancing at the floor and back up. “Nevermind - I uh… Anyways” Anyway. You mean anyway. Anyways is not a word you ignorant fool. “Well, my name is Joseph.” Lawrence shook his hand, almost like it mattered. “Pleased,” Lawrence responded quietly. “So, maybe see you next week then?” Lawrence smiled and tipped his head.

Lawrence practically skipped towards the door, a mission and a plan in mind; go to the liquor store, go directly to the liquor store. This plan was set in stone, more concrete than the 10 commandments and the very ground he walked on up until his phone vibrated in his pocket upon him taking a seat on the bus.

“Gordon.”

“Hey, Larry.”

Lawrence smiled involuntarily, leaning into the poorly installed bus seat. “Adam.” Lawrence mused more to himself than to the other.

“Whatcha doin?”

Lawrence groaned, rolling his eyes and rubbing the bridge of his nose. “You’ll never believe how bad it was, Adam.”

“I can try.”

Lawrence wanted to tell Adam about his endeavors with his group of former - wait - current(?) alcoholics; and frankly, if anything did, Adam would get a bang out of the guy stopping him at the door. But what difference did it make? "No, it's alright. Thank you though." Lawrence sighed at himself and leaned further into the bus seat. "I'm gonna make a quick stop before I get home." Lawrence tried.

Stop me. I don’t know how, but just stop me from doing this to myself - to you -

"Okay."

Stop me.

"Yeah."

Stop me.

They sat in silence for a minute or so. There was something comforting in listening to the other breathe. Lawrence felt himself sinking further into his seat, this time out of comfort, one he hadn't felt in a long time, one he knew he could only get from Adam. Of course, Adam was having none of it. "Okay, I'm gonna go then."

Damnit, Adam. "Okay. I'll see you."

"Yeah."

-----

Adam jumped softly, the way he always did at the sound of the front door opening. He attempted to ward off any kind of paranoia-induced thoughts, but lost that battle quickly. Ultimately, he just decided to get up and check it out himself. Before he left the couch, of course, checking his pockets for his phone and the switchblade that he’d deemed some kind of a safety blanket. Once he was sure everything was there he headed for where the sound now illuminated from - the kitchen -

Upon arrival, Adam found the absolute last thing he was expecting: Lawrence pouring himself a good half a glass of whiskey. Adam mentally did a brief self-check-in, I’m awake, I’m present, I’m not hallucinating and - yep - this was really happening right now.

“Larry, what the fuck are you doing?”

“What does it look like to you?” Lawrence smiled at Adam briefly, taking a sip off of his drink before continuing to speak. “I’m having a drink in my kitchen. Want some?” Adam shook his head in partial amazement and in a negative answer. Lawrence placed his non-glass-holding hand on the table and rested his face on his back of his hand. “I love you, Adam.”

Adam ignored that comment. “Where’d you get this,” he asked rhetorically while reaching for the bottle in question, Lawrence was quick to take it back.

 

“Stop on the way home,” he quoted his words, putting the bottle back on the table and pulling Adam closer by his hand. “Have a drink with me.” It truly hit in this moment how slurred his words were, Adam flicked his arm in a circular motion that ended on the other side of Lawrence’s hand.

 

“No, I think you’ve had enough for the both of us,” Lawrence remained adamant, and after a minor struggle, Adam found himself in Lawrence’s lap somehow or another. “Let me go, c’mon.” Lawrence did so. Adam stood up and, with as much quickness as possible, had the bottle and glass in his hands and booked it for the sink, mumbling under his breath that Lawrence was “Like a fucking child sometimes,” while he turned out to face a still seated and slightly disoriented Lawrence.

“I don’t know if you can hear me in there right now, or if you’ll remember this shit tomorrow but fuck if I care I’ll tell you again if you don’t,” he started while expelling the last of the whiskey into the sink. “ I fucking love you. I love you so damn much it hurts me, Lawrence. I want you, too. I want you more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my fucked up, little shut-in life, you obnoxious fucking cheating bastard with no resolve.” Lawrence mimed fake hurt over the insult.

Adam threw the bottle at the garbage and got lucky enough to get it in without breaking it, he crossed back to Lawrence and put his hands on either side of his face to ensure he’d keep eye contact. Not that that was much of a concern. “Stop drinking. I want you to fucking stop because you and I both know that this shit isn’t doing anything good for you. All it does is dig your fucking misery filled - suicidal little hole of a brain deeper, and deeper and…”

Adam stopped when he realized that his vision was suddenly cloudy and his throat was tight. He closed his eyes tightly to regather himself. Stop fucking crying. Stop it. This isn’t about you. He opened his eyes again, meeting Lawrence with a gaze that could sober an irishman. This is the same look of desperation Lawrence saw when he dragged himself out of the bathroom that night.

“Lawrence Gordon. I can’t fucking stand seeing this shit. I can’t do it… I miss you…” he choked on the breath he tried to steadily take in. “I miss you, Law, I miss you so much. I miss how safe you hold me at night, and how you told me that everything would be okay,” Adam closed his eyes again, sobbing harder at the feeling of Lawrence’s hand on his, stroking his knuckles in attempted comfort. “Damnit, Lawrence I just - I just want us to be okay. I want you to be okay, man.” Adam took in another sharp breath before Lawrence took him into his arms - though the position was awkward Adam accepted this gesture with open arms, holding onto the other equally as firmly, softly repeating that he wanted him to be okay over and over while Lawrence simply rubbed his back.

That went on for what felt like hours. Lawrence cleared his throat before speaking. “I’m sorry,” was all he could offer. He felt so angry at himself. Adam had poured his heart out to him and all he could lend in response was. “I’m so, so sorry.” Once Adam caught his breath and stopped crying he still didn’t move away. If anything he got more comfortable. “I don’t know what I was thinking.” Lawrence offered a more sober explanation, even though the room was still moving.

Adam cleared his throat and moved away to stare at the tile, fidgeting with his hands. “I uh- my fault for freaking out like that... I didn’t mean to.” Lawrence smiled softly in a silent acceptance of his apology. Adam rubbed his eyes as a means to avoid contact “I… I know you have to go to work in the morning, so if you wanna go get in the bed I’ll bring you water,”

“You coming?” Lawrence gently prodded.

“Yeah… I think I oughta. With the way I’m all worked up - y’know. I might have nightmares or - or somethin’ and I wouldn’t wanna be alone if, uh, y'know if that happened.” Adam tried to explain, but mentally kicked himself because he knew it wasn't necessary. Lawrence wouldn’t have asked anyway.

Of course, in his natural prince charming way he just smiled and nodded with a careful and even response of “Alright.”

----

Adam stirred gently and opened his eyes to stare at the ceiling, taking a glance over at Lawrence, seeing he was peacefully still knocked out, he realized suddenly that he felt strange. So… strange. Adam didn’t want to go back to sleep, no, he wanted to get out of bed and start his day. Drink a cup of coffee, go to the beach and take some photos- not of cheating rich bastards but of the skyline, of the way the shore splashes against the sand. The sand that reminded him of the gentle color of Lawrence’s hair, the hair he liked to run his fingers through - maybe he’d just like to take pictures of him.

Adam jumped slightly at the sound of movement behind him on the bed. “Good Morning, Adam,” a grainy sleep-weighted voice spoke behind him.

“Hey.” Adam simply responded, warranting a gentle calloused hand massaging his bad shoulder, the weather had been changing a lot and Lawrence - with his prosthetic - knew how the changing in seasons could make his shoulder feel. This was accompanied by Lawrence resting his forehead on Adam’s shoulder. They didn’t need to speak. Everything that needed to be done or said had been in the night prior.

“I’m sorry,” Lawrence told him faintly.

“It’s whatever.”

“No. It’s not.” Adam sighed, leaning back into him. “I’m sorry.” Lawrence moved his other hand to gently touch his other arm. “I’m sorry.” He still wasn’t sure what he was apologizing for. Jigsaw or last night? Both? Didn’t matter. Adam didn’t care. Neither did he. He was just sorry for everything. “I keep doing this.”

Adam cocked his head to the side. “Doing what?”

Lawrence exhaled sharply as memories of jigsaw came flooding in. “Hurting the people I love. I can’t get a goddamn thing right.” he let out a breathy laugh, so to say how ironic this whole thing was.

“Yeah, well, you’re an asshole, so, y’know, that’s a ‘you’ problem.” Lawrence chuckled softly in response. “I’m not hurt, anyway I'm just pissed.”

“You can experience both simultaneously.”

“I’m not fucking hurt.” there was a little more bite behind it that time.

“Okay.”

They sat in silence for a few more minutes, Lawrence felt like it was the most merciful thing he’d experienced in the last five minutes of being awake. Adam didn’t like that. “Y’know” he started with a sigh, “Alison has no right making you feel like shit because of what that fuckin’ psycho did…” his voice shook gently as the walls started to come down. “Not your fuckin fault he decided to kidnap them.” Adam added under his breath, picking at his nails aggressively.

Lawrence hummed to reply, getting comfortable in his place at Adam’s shoulder. He needed to phrase this response carefully; Adam was still in a delicate place and he needed to be conscious of the fact that he couldn’t just say anything. “Thank you, Adam. I needed that.” Good Enough.

“Yeah, whatever,” Adam repeated, standing up and walking to the dresser - their dresser to get his clothes, he threw on a faded Blink-182 t-shirt and a proper pair of jeans. “I’m gonna head out, you comin’?” Lawrence furrowed in confusion.

“Where are you going?”

Adam continued throughout the room, throwing things into his pockets, “Dunno, you comin’ or not?” he tried again.

“I can just make the run for you if you’d like, Adam, that away you can st-”

“Do you wanna fuckin’ go or not, Lawrence?” There was that edge to his tone again. Lawrence sighed and made his way out of the bed to strap his prosthetic on. Adam stood there, staring at him, awaiting a response. “Hello?” Lawrence looked up but then gestured at his leg, as to say No duh, of course I’m going.

Adam waved his hands and turned back to his sock drawer, so to say Whatever, old man. Be like that.

Things almost felt normal.

“I’m leaving in thirty minutes, if you’re not ready I’m going without you.” Adam headed for the door as he spoke.

“Hey,” Lawrence started softly, “I’m a cripple and I’m experiencing a mid-life crisis - and my angry boyfriend has been ensuring I have to make close acquaintances with my right hand so cut me some slack.” Adam smiled proudly at Lawrence’s sense of humor.

“Come find me when you’re ready.”

“Sure can do.”

Things really almost felt normal.