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Beyond Hurt, Beyond Help

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Pat is breathing heavily into his hair, his arms are splayed over his chest and Darby can feel the lips glued to his head forming a smile when it hits him that this is the last time. They will never do this again and Pat can’t know. He can’t know tomorrow will be the last time they will kiss, the last time they will hug, the last time he’ll see Darby alive. Whether that’s because he doesn’t want to believe Darby means it, meant it every time he talked about it, or because he would try to stop him if he did. Or follow him. That’s not what he wants. He doesn’t want to hurt him, either, but he will, because that’s what he does, he always puts himself first and he doesn’t care, doesn’t even feel bad about it, because if he has to be forced to live, then at least he deserves the world to cater to his every whim. He deserves everything he wants, not just him, everyone else should put his needs ahead of theirs, too, because he doesn’t fucking want to be here. And fuck everyone who thinks it’s his responsibility to fix his life. It doesn’t matter who broke it, it’s on those who want to force him to keep living to make it worth it.

Pat doesn’t deserve that kind of vitriol, though, he’s never done any of that, and even if it was because he never thought Darby would actually go through with it, he hopes that he will at least understand. He left a safe and easy relationship to be with him, even though no one that came before thought he deserved that. He never tried to invalidate him, never tried to offer any fake solutions. Anyone who has known him for as long as Pat has would’ve realized how full of shit he is. Yet he stays, he’s stayed for ten years, always doing whatever Darby asked of him, and he knows, he can feel how much he loves him every time they’re together, but when he tries to think about what it will be like for Pat when he finds out he’s dead he just feels nothing. He doesn’t feel guilty. He doesn't owe the effort it takes to live his life to anyone. But lying next to Pat, still so peaceful and content, he just doesn’t know. He tries to imagine what he will feel like when he finds out he offed himself. When he realizes Darby tricked him into throwing away something good for barely half a year with him. Intellectually, he knows he will cause him more pain than he has in all the years they’ve known each other, but he still can't bring himself to care. His mind drifts to every jab he’s thrown at him, every time he tried to get him to give up the interests Darby didn’t like, and that finally stirs something in him, fills him with guilt and regret, but now’s not the time to bring it up. If Pat doesn’t think it’s wrong to be treated that way, who’s Darby to complain? He hopes Pat’s able to find happiness, eventually, with someone more worthy than him. But not too soon. He wants to know that he means something, that the way he returns his love in just the way Darby needs isn’t just an illusion or wishful thinking again.

He needs people to care that he’s dead, and maybe he would’ve at least gotten that from his fans if he’d done this a year ago, before he fucked everything up, before people stopped giving a fuck about him. Before he became a washed-up has-been who isn’t worth the minor inconvenience of standing in the rain for a few minutes. The days when people were willing to pay to hang out with him are long gone, and as much as he dreams of people still listening to his music and thinking he’s the coolest person in the scene and going out of their way to get Germs burns 50 years from now, he can’t help but fear he’ll just end up being a footnote in the news and forgotten within a week. At least he won’t be around to see it.

He’s glad he won’t be around to see his friends’ reactions, either. So many of them decided long ago that he wasn’t worth it. That dealing with his issues was too much. He kinda hopes they get to feel at least a fraction of the pain he is feeling, has been feeling for more than half his life, especially those who’ve tried to talk him out of it, and maybe that makes him a bad person, but isn’t that just one more reason to kill himself? It’s not that he cares all that much about being a good person, he never set out to be one. But it seems like sympathy and love and understanding are reserved for good people and doing just one supposedly bad thing, having just one bad thought disqualifies you from having earned them. If you don’t fulfill the minimum virtue requirement, every expression of genuine emotion is seen as an attempt at manipulation. Talking about death even more so. He does it anyway, because fuck them and fuck their comfort. Putting people down is what he needs to get through the day, sometimes, and it’s not fair that he isn’t allowed to feel bad or deal with it in his own way. It’s part of what makes him cool, at least among a certain crowd.

Except it doesn’t really, he isn’t really, and the number of people who’ve started to realize it grows faster than he’s comfortable with. He could mostly get away with it in the past, fooling idiots into thinking his ramblings are smart, impressing them with the amount of shit he can poison his mind and body with, but it doesn’t earn him the respect of those whose opinion he values, and it probably won’t work for much longer on the dumb masses either. The admiration of posers and idiots may not be what he wants, but it’s better than a half-filled venue with barely any movement, or empty rows of benches at Oki Dog.

He wishes he could be empty too, exorcise his mind of all thoughts and feelings, but he can't, not without drugs, and it's too much. It's always too much and he's powerless against the deluge of emotions constantly raging inside him.

Pat stirs next to him and Darby realizes the arm squished under him has fallen asleep. His eyes meet Pat's as he pushes himself up to lay on his chest instead, which does nothing to help his current state. Being with someone he loves always makes it worse, makes Darby's eyes sting and it makes him want to curl up and die in his arms. But he won't, he's not gonna be with Pat when he dies and he kinda feels guilty about that, too. Because they've discussed it, talked about it so often when they were younger, but that’s not what he’s gonna do and he doesn't want to use Pat as a pawn in his plan.

He doesn’t know if Pat would see that as a courtesy or a betrayal.

The letter Darby left for him at his mom’s house should explain, should tell him all this and more, and he hopes she won’t conceal it like the bitch she is. He needs to believe Pat will know how much Darby loves him and how much his love meant to him.

A tear slides down his face, but he can’t force out much more than that. When he feels it, Pat responds by cautiously stroking his back. “What’s wrong?” he asks, his voice hushed and hoarse. Darby really, really wishes he could tell him. Instead, he pushes himself up and kisses Pat on the lips. He’ll find out soon enough. He moves to lie back down, but Pat stops him with a hand on his cheek. “What can I do?”

Darby shakes his head. “Nothing.” There's nothing anyone can do. He places a small kiss on Pat’s chest and settles back in. “I’m fine.” This time tomorrow it won’t be a lie. He’s glad he won’t have to deal with life anymore. He’s sure that eventually, maybe even immediately, Pat will be glad he won’t have to deal with him anymore, either.

How many times has he had to pick him up from some alley when he was nodding off, blissfully unaware of his surroundings? How many times has he put up with his pissy moods when he was coming down, or craving and not able to get to something? How many times has he led him out of the bathroom and all the way home when he could barely stand after sitting with him as he puked his guts out? How many times has Darby leaned in too close, or talked a bit too loud, or said things that weren't as ambiguous as he thought they were and put them both in danger because he was too fucked up to care? Just the thought of it makes him sick and want to disappear right this second.

Sometimes he blames himself for keeping Pat in a relationship he has to hide and that the world punishes him for every day. He knows it’s not his fault, but sometimes, he thinks that maybe there’s something wrong with him, because no one seems to be as angry and as bitter about it as him. Except most of his relationships ended because they couldn’t handle it, and they went for the easy thing, because they could. Darby knows that Pat will choose the same given enough time. He would like to say he wouldn’t blame him, but he already does. He doesn’t even know if things really would be easier if he wasn't- Maybe it doesn't matter at all, he would be punished just for existing, anyway.

He doesn't know how Pat feels about it, but Darby himself can't stand it, can't deal with it at all. And he doesn't fit in anywhere, he feels alienated from every group where he’s supposed to belong, that’s supposed to have understanding for him, but he needs it and he just wants to die. And he can't talk about it with anyone who wouldn't dismiss his fears and feelings and tell him he's overreacting, or who wouldn't be offended because he just can't get where they are, and because the only reason he likes it is because it gives him a valid reason to wallow in self-pity.

And this. Lying in the arms of the man he loves, the sex, sometimes just the excitement of seeing him. He wouldn't give it up for anything, no matter how much it hurts most of the time. He won't live for it, either, but it’s something, it’s important, and he needs to express that.

"I love you," he mumbles into Pat’s skin. "No matter what happens, just know that.” He traces patterns with his fingers, unable to meet his eyes. “I love you and I want you to be happy.” He pauses and stares ahead, trying to control his voice, deciding whether to continue, then adds, a bit more quietly, “even if it's not with me."

The hands caressing him slowly come to a stop as he’s pushed off when Pat jumps and sits up. He doesn’t make a move to touch him again, eyeing him warily instead. "Are you breaking up with me?"

The hurt in his voice is evident, and yet Darby considers it for a moment. Maybe if he hurts him now, hearing about his death in a couple of days won't be such a blow. Maybe he should've thought of that earlier, kept his feelings hidden and kept distancing himself. He should’ve pushed Pat away. Should’ve let them grow apart naturally. Treated him worse and made him dump him. There’s a lot he could’ve done, but it's too late for that now.

"No. Never. You… this thing we have is the best thing that's ever happened to me. You're the best thing that’s ever happened to me. You’ve been nothing but a great friend, and a great boyfriend." He dares to look up this time and kisses Pat again. “You always made things a little easier for me, made me feel a little better. I wouldn't let you go," even if you wanted to, he adds in his head. He hopes Pat doesn't make much of the past tense there.

He feels a bit bad that he turned their last night together into this, but he can make up for it in the morning. Make it special, and happy, and lull Pat into a false sense of security before he leaves. Just like he is now, back to being curled up against him, safe, and loved, and yet with only the promise of something that will never be enough. And tomorrow night, it will finally be over. All of his sadness and guilt and shame will disappear forever. He's still kinda scared, but it won’t be a big deal if he fails, as long as no one reads his note before he wakes up. Mostly, though, he’s excited and thinking about those last moments brings him the kind of relief and peace he doesn’t think he’s felt before. And he can’t wait to experience it for real.