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you i could hold on to, while all fell from me

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"Adam?"

The photographer gives a slow, almost cat-like blink as he glances at the man currently sitting beside him, trying desperately to keep his eyes open to begin with against the alluring promise of sleep; he can't help it - sitting next to Lawrence like this, resting his head on his shoulder and sharing one of their warmest blankets between the two of them... feeling warm, comfortable, and safe is almost always enough to knock Adam out.

Still, though, he presses against his jaw with a lazy palm to get it to crack (he hates the way it locks up sometimes) and then, finally, opens his mouth to reply. "Mhmm. Wha's happenin'?"

"Is this -" the other man lifts his head from where his cheek was pressed into Adam's unruly sable hair, and though Adam misses the contact almost immediately, his stomach is beginning to twist in that way that tells him something may be wrong; he nuzzles against the doctor's shoulder in a way he hopes is encouraging, hopes it says I'm right here, and I'm listening.

Lawrence clears his throat, a brief cough of a sound, and the arm he's got around the other man's waist twitches. "This is... this is real, right?" he mumbles, patting Adam's hip, his shaky, uncertain hand fluttering up to ghost along the curve of Adam's rib cage through his shirt, ending up at his shoulder before long and dipping his fingers beneath the collar of his own sweater (Adam is always stealing his boyfriend's old college clothes). He strokes the soft expanse of skin there for a bit, his breath hitching when he finds the knot of pinkish-purple scar tissue he knows so well. "I'm not... imagining we made it out, am I? We're really okay?"

The doctor traces his nervous fingertips over the gnarled scar tissue beneath them slowly, like he's mapping out the stretch of healed skin and committing it to his memory should he blink and everything falls away and places him right back in that chasm of hell. "I did this," he mutters softly, mostly to himself, his thumb brushing the gentle point of Adam's collarbone. "I gave you this, didn't I." It's not a question.

Adam lifts his head up off of his partner's shoulder and frowns, one of his own palms coming up to fold to the soft curve of Lawrence's jaw, the pad of his thumb tracing the delicate peak of the other man's cheekbone; he revels a bit in the way the skin beneath his thumb warms, quietly fills in with colour. "You did," he answers cautiously, heart aching at the way Lawrence's hand on his shoulder jerks like he's been burnt. "But I forgave you for it a long time ago."

"How?" God, Lawrence sounds so small. It's not often that he sounds like this, even at his most upset. "I - how can you - how do you forgive someone for doing that?"

"Because you didn't wanna hurt me," Adam replies simply, brushing away the absent tear that starts to roll down Lawrence's cheek, unbidden and entirely unnoticed by the man himself. "You didn't think you had a choice. 'nd you got me outta there, Larry. You told me you'd send someone back and you did. You've spent every day since makin' up for it."

Lawrence blinks at him dazedly, his brows furrowed in a heavy line that Adam wants nothing more than to smooth out. His lower lip trembles a bit, though the photographer is certain that he doesn't even notice it. "How do I know?" he asks quietly, holding Adam in a gaze that is both present and absent at the same time. "How can I be sure this is real? What if I'm just - what if I'm imagining what I want to hear?"

Oh, Lawrence, Adam thinks to himself sympathetically. "Can you lift your other hand for me, baby? The one you've got on the arm of the couch?"

The other man does so wordlessly, anxiously. When Adam reaches over to take the hand into his own, curling his palm around Lawrence's and lacing their fingers together and giving a brief squeeze, he can hear the doctor let out a shuddering breath of relief, like he'd been holding it for so long he hadn't even known he was holding it until he breathed out. He probably hadn't, Adam reckons.

In any case, he squeezes back softly, a trembling thumb brushing over Adam's bony knuckles as Lawrence so often does when they're holding hands. It's almost as though it's an action that's become reflexive - and really, it is, isn't it? They've been doing this since the hospital.

"Okay, good," Adam praises, "you can feel me squeezing like this?" He does it again, just to be sure.

"Uh-huh," Lawrence mumbles, sniffling. Adam strokes his thumb along the shadows beneath his partner's eyes, heavy with lack of restful sleep and the tears that are still steadily dripping down his cheeks - his eyes are so glassy and absent, but whenever the photographer moves, he's relieved to find that the doctor's eyes sluggishly trace his movements. "I can feel you."

"Good. That's good, Larry, you're doing good. And can you feel this?" The photographer gingerly pulls their intertwined hands until they're both resting over the approximate location of his heart, at which point he lets go of Lawrence's hand - he winces at the soft whine his partner gives as they're separated, despite knowing he needs to for this to work - and instead guides it to rest over the gently thumping thing in his chest, spreading his fingers manually just so Lawrence doesn't have to worry about it. After all, Adam knows that, while his hands are often colder than the doctor's, they're familiar to the man and bring him more comfort than most anything else.

"There," he hums once they're both situated, bringing his palm back up to rest it over the back of Lawrence's hand where it's placed on his chest, keeping him there between the heat of his hand and the beating of his heart. "You feel this?"

"I - yes, but -"

"You feel it beating, right?"

"I do, but, Adam -"

"You wouldn't be able to feel it if we were still in the bathroom," Adam murmurs quietly, taking the opportunity to mirror Lawrence's actions from earlier and brushing the pad of his thumb over the other man's knuckles; the soft sigh of contentment that slips from his lips means the world to Adam. "I'm warm and breathing and you can feel my heart beat, too, right, baby?"

Lawrence is quiet for a good moment, gaze flicking between meeting Adam's and his hand on the other man's chest, before he lets out this low, long sigh, almost like he's deflating - and with it, a good deal of tension melts away. "Yes," he hums then, leaning down that tiny bit to be able to press his forehead to the photographer's. "I feel it. You're okay. We're... we're okay." A brief pause, glancing at Adam through his fluttering lashes. "Right?"

Adam smiles softly, nuzzling against Lawrence a bit and reveling in the way their hair tangles together. "Right," he confirms, pressing a light kiss to the tip of the doctor's nose just because he can. "We're okay. We made it out. This is real, Larry, I promise. I wouldn't lie to you."

That gets a soft, watery chuckle from the other man, and Adam has never been so happy to hear such a sound - he adores Lawrence's laugh in pretty much any capacity, even when it's (good-naturedly, of course, like when they're teasing each other) at his expense, but hearing it when he's so clearly upset and knowing he was able to make him laugh? Adam's not sure there's even a single feeling on earth that compares to that.

Even better is when the doctor hums, leans forward to rub their noses together just a bit, and he says, reverent, "I know you wouldn't. I... I'm sorry, bug. I don't know what happened. Just... sometimes, it can be..."

"Difficult to believe, right? Kinda like it's too good to be true?"

"Yes, exactly." Lawrence's eyes flicker shut then, wincing when his lashes stick together with the tears that are, thankfully, drying up. "Sometimes I... when I have dreams about... that night, you..." He swallows hard, soldiering on anyway. "You don't always make it out. And sometimes it carries over into the next day, refuses to leave me alone, you know? And I guess I just - it scares me, still. Even though I know that's not what happened."

"I know, Lar. It's okay." Adam has dreams like that sometimes, too - both of being left to rot in the bathroom for all eternity, and of Lawrence bleeding out right there sprawled on the filthy tile floor, slowly growing weaker until he stops replying to him altogether and Adam is left alone in the dark with his thoughts and two real, genuine corpses.

He can never get back to sleep easy after dreams like that.

Lawrence slips his hand out from beneath the collar of Adam's sweater and lets it trail back down the photographer's side until it's curled around his hip once more, its natural place nowadays. "Thank you," he mutters tiredly, tilting his head just so in order to close the very small distance between them and press his lips to Adam's in an appreciative, brief close-mouthed kiss. He lingers there for a bit, content just to share space and breath, before he continues. "I'm okay. I don't know what I'd do without you, bug."

Adam smiles, soft, private - a smile reserved only for Lawrence Gordon and no one else. "You won't have to find out," he replies simply. It's the truth - Lawrence is kind of stuck with him, now. They've got rings and everything. "I'm not goin' anywhere. We made it, alright? We're okay."

"We are," Lawrence echoes, voice gruff with the exhaustion that always comes after one of his panic attacks and the weight of sleepiness. "We're okay." His head dips to nuzzle halfway into the crook of Adam's neck, eliciting a surprised but not shocked laugh out of the photographer due to how Lawrence has to crane his neck given the way they're sitting. "Babe," he whispers, "you're gonna hurt yourself leaning like that."

"Mmm."

"D'you wanna go lay down for a little while?" Adam presses a kiss to the side of Lawrence's head where he can reach, chuckling softly at the blissful, wordless murmur that leaves his boyfriend at the contact. "I know you get tired after attacks like I do. We have time, 'nd it's Saturday. What do you think?"

"Please," Lawrence mumbles, laying a kiss to the side of Adam's throat just because he's right there; Adam can feel the imprint of his smile against the sensitive skin when he lets out what can only be described as a giggle at the brush of lips. "God, I love you so much. Thank you, Adam."

"I love you too," Adam hums back sweetly, and after a moment, he pulls away so that he and Lawrence can untangle and set off for their bedroom. "I'm glad I could help at least a little bit."

"You help me more than you'll ever know." Lawrence smiles at him, and Adam smiles back, wondering if his crooked smile is even half as bright as the one the doctor gives him.

Given the way Lawrence's eyes glow, he figures it is. Adam is just happy to be there for him, happy to be able to provide the comfort his boyfriend wants when he needs it.

When the other man helps him off of the couch and wraps his arms back around his waist for a bit, swaying them side to side in a rhythm only he seems to be privy to as he presses his nose into his hair, Adam is so full of love his heart feels fit to burst, laughing gently as he slings his own arms around Lawrence's neck and moves with him, shifting his weight from foot to foot. He knows Lawrence is feeling better if he feels good enough to do this.

"Love you," the doctor whispers, laying a kiss to the top of Adam's head.

"Love you too," Adam whispers back, voice just as soft.

They're fine. They're together, and that's what matters. They can make it through this together.

Jigsaw can't take that from them.