Rose Water

Chapter 20

AN: Thank you to my beta Carly. She likes to MOVE IT, MOVE IT! LMAO.


It is better to have loved and lost… than never to have loved at all. I don't know if this is true. Somewhere deep down I don't even think I care. I do know that it is easier to have never loved… than love someone so much, and not be able to touch them.

Justin has been gone for three weeks and life has continued to go on. I knew it would. I just was hoping that there would be some sort of shift in the atmosphere, some sort of planetary re-alignment when I realized that there was someone in this world that I cared more than a little about.

"Daddy, can you push me?" I ask my father. He looks at me and gets up off the bench to push me on the swing. My legs are still too short, much shorter than my ambitions. He lifts me up onto the swing and gives me a push.

I turn the page of the photo album. It is the only one I have. It usually sits forgotten and alone in the bottom of a box in my closet. Not today.

I have been spending a lot of time alone since Justin left. The bars and the backrooms of Babylon have lost their appeal. Not because Justin is not here. I could go out without him before and I can go out without him now, but, I just feel different. I am different. I need to be.

"Where is mommy?" I ask my father.

"She had to go away for a little while," he tells me. I try desperately to kick my legs out and propel the swing on my own. I adjust my hand on the chain and grip tighter. He pushes me again. I giggle and I cannot help but see the smile on my father's face.

"Where did she go?" I ask him. He looks up at the sky, searching for something to say, anything. A simple explanation for a situation that is anything but simple. I kick my legs out again and he moves back a little to give me more space.

"She was sick and she went away to get help." He looks down and watches me as I try to process what he just said. I stay silent, letting it sink in.

"She got a cold? When I get a cold mommy gives me med'cine," I tell him. I want to be able to swing by myself so badly. My legs are frantically moving, trying to understand the rhythm.

"She is very sick and she needs more than medicine right now," he tells me.

"Is she going to come back?" I ask. "Stop pushing me daddy." He lets me go and watches as I try to do it myself.

"Yeah Brian, I hope she comes back." He looks over at me and I am looking up into the sky wondering why my swing has stopped moving.

"I can't move it daddy," I say as I try to get the swing to start moving. My legs kick frantically but I won't let him help me.

"Let me give you a push," he says.

"NO!" I scream out. I need to do it by myself. I have to, it's important to me. I need to know that I can do it. So, he stands back and lets me try. Fresh tears fall from my eyes and my legs stop moving as I give up… quit. "I need help daddy," I say through the tears and sniffles.

He walks over to the swing and stands in front of me, bending down until we are looking each other in the eye. "Hey, you did a good job, and you tried very hard. I am very proud of you."

"But, I didn't make the swing go," I say as I wipe my tears with my shirt and stare at the ground. He looks at me and lifts my chin up so that I am looking right into his eyes.

"Yeah, but you asked for help when you needed it," he tells me.

A happy memory, buried inside a bed of thorns is so hard to get to… and worth more than a thousand drops of blood.

Joan came back two days later, sober… and being overly religious. Jack, well… Jack disappeared. The funny part is that he didn't go anywhere, but he was gone. Few and far between were the times that he smiled after my mother came back.

We all just became shadows of who we used to be. Our relationships changed. We were forced to change too… or drown, first within our family and then beyond.

Claire became a bitch. Mom became an even bigger lush. Dad, well, he turned into an asshole, a bitter, jaded old man, who did not understand the direction that his life took.

Me… I became hard, and instead of just blocking them out, I blocked out everything. It was me against the world.


Independence is a fickle thing. You want it so much and then when you get it you realize that you need someone else. You want someone else.

There is nothing in this room. The walls are white. The chairs are gray. There is coffee on a table in the corner, cookies next to that and a stack of little white Styrofoam cups.

Everything is exactly the same… and everyone is different.

I pick at the plastic on my ID tag, peeling it open a little on the side. I try not to pay too much attention to the other people and I think it is paying off, no one is noticing me.

Speak too soon and shatter my solitude.

"Justin, turn your sign around," Gerri says. She is my counselor and she is also the one who insisted that I wear this giant sign around my neck, a wonderful accessory to my ID tag.

I reach around my neck and turn my tag around, smiling sarcastically at Gerri as I complete the motion. "So, how come you never show anybody what's in that book you're always carrying around?" Freddy asks me with a huge smile on his face. Freddy is my roommate. He is okay, but he can be an asshole.

"Fuck you," I say as I shift in my seat. Gerri looks at me and frowns. I know she is making a mental note. "What? What the fuck are you thinking now?" I say. I am tired and I am frustrated.

"Justin, that language and that attitude is uncalled for, and Freddy has the right to ask any question he wants." I sit forward in the chair.

"He is only asking me that shit because you made me wear this stupid fucking… fucking thing with all this shit written on it," I say at I tap the piece of laminated cardboard that is lying on my chest. My sign says 'I don't like to talk, so ask me anything.'

"Justin," Gerri warns. I sit back and cross my arms over my chest. "Justin," she says again and I look over at her before addressing the group.

"I draw pictures of my family and friends," I tell them. They don't care. Gerri congratulates me for sharing, as usual, and Freddy laughs. Sad ass Meredith starts to talk and I tune her out. I have not listened to a word she has said in days.

I sit through the group session and try not to listen to all the voices as they come and go. The rest of the day is the same way. They talk and I don't listen.

The group session transforms into my private session. Everything is a blur. I don't want to see her. She does want to see me. We are all alone in a room with a million thoughts… and not one thing to say.

"Your behavior in the group session today was not called for," she says to me.

"Freddy is a fucking asshole," I say. She deducts another point from my chart and I wince. I have ten points for the week now. When you get down to five points you cannot use the phone. I have been there, right on the edge before and never crossed over the line.

"Now, where did we leave off last session?" She asks me as she looks at her notes. I sit there. I know it's a rhetorical question. "Okay, I think we had finally gotten to Shaun Peters. Let's talk about him."

I shift and I know it is obvious. "I don't want to," I tell her.

"It's not a choice," she tells me. There is no wonder why Mark recommended and specifically signed me up with her. She is a ball buster.

"What do you want to hear?" I ask. She leans over on the desk, her manicured nails adding some softness to her thirty-five year old personality and demeanor.

"What do you want to tell me?" She asks, throwing the question back in my face. She is tapping her pen on the desk calendar in front of her.

"Not a fucking thing," I say nonchalantly. She marks off another point. FUCK.

"Well, in that case…." She says as she looks at me. "… I want to know everything." She sits back and takes her shoes off, crossing her legs. I can tell from her movements that that is what she is doing. She does the same thing every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday… the same exact thing.

I decide to say nothing. Instead I lean back in the chair and cross my arms. "You know the deal Justin, the longer you stay silent… the longer you have to stay."

"Shaun goes to my school," I say. She wants me to talk and I want to go, so I talk to her. If it gets me out of here it's worth it. "I don't really know what else you want to know." I am uncomfortable. I don't want to talk about Shaun. I don't want to think about him either but I do, at least three times a day.

"Were the two of you friends?" She asks. I look over at her as I try to swallow any and every emotion I have about the subject.

"No, or I guess I can say we were… okay, with each other. At least we were, until he sucked my dick. It only happened once, but after that he was pissed. It kinda put a damper on our Sunday afternoon tea sessions," I tell her with a smile.

"I'll bet. Did he ever make any other sexual advances toward you, or did you ever make any toward him?" She asks. I stare into her.

"Why don't you just ask what you really want to ask?"

"And what would it be that I really want to ask?" She is writing down notes. It is very irritating when you are trying to be pissed at someone and they are not even looking up at you.

"You want to know if I ever tried to fuck him, or if he ever tried to fuck me," I say. I am getting flushed and agitated. I am lashing out at her because she is much too close to the truth. "Well, the answer is 'No', because once he started kicking my ass every time he saw me, I lost my hard-on for him. Oh but you wanna know what really sealed the deal?" I ask. I am getting frantic. My hands and mouth are moving fast and I am talking loud.

Give her an inch. Keep the yard.

"The best part… oh man, wait till you hear this. The best part is that after a particularly rough night, I went to see Brian. I was so happy when I left, and then I stepped off the bus in my neighborhood and ran smack into Shaun. Well, Shaun, being the altruistic… caring soul that he is… decided that he needed his cock sucked and I was the perfect one to do it." I stand up and start to move back and forth across the floor. Her eyes follow my every step.

"He pulled out a knife, pressed it to my neck and led me to his house." I am shouting and tears are streaming down my face, creating streaks of sadness along my plastic neck accessory.

"He stuck his dick so far down my throat that I almost threw-up. He fucked my face until he shot his load. I can still feel it sliding down the inside of my throat and settling in my stomach. Anyway, I reacted… and clamped down so hard on his fucking dick that I almost bit it off," I say. Gerri is stunned, speechless. "Let's not even talk about my best friend that I know he raped and almost killed."

I was so caught up in my own emotions that I never saw her move from around the desk. I never felt her arms slip around me, but I feel them now and I frantically move back to get them off of me. My skin feels like a thousand ants are crawling all over me. I need to get out of here. I don't want to see her face right now. I just can't. "I want to go. Can I go, please?"

She takes my neck ID and my sign and stores it in my locker. We only wear them in the public rooms. The rest of the time we are identified by the two non-removable plastic ID bands on our wrists. One band has our name and other information, the other one has our disorder. The ones that name our disorders are color coded, for their convenience and our humiliation.

Mine is red, bright red.

I race out of her office and to my room, flying past Freddy to get to the bathroom. I close the bathroom door behind me and lock it. The only light is the remainder of sunlight from outside. My heart is beating fast. I am frantic and my hands are shaking. I cross over the floor and throw open the medicine cabinet. There is nothing sharp in it.

I move bottles and supplies. I take everything out of the cabinet until there are only shelves inside. I need something, anything. I need to release the pain. I scratch at my arms and legs, trying to stop the feeling of ants crawling all over me. I strip out of my clothes and turn on the shower. My hands are shaking so hard I can barely grip the knobs.

I step inside and let the water wash over me, but it does not help. The feeling is still there. Something is on me, inside of me. I can feel it. I reach for my towel. The one I left hanging there earlier and start to rub. I rub every part of my skin as the water gets hotter and hotter. The steam rises from inside the stall, filling the bathroom at a steady pace.

Lose track of space and time.

"Justin, are you okay? You've been in there for a really long time." I don't hear Freddy. I don't hear anything, except the beating of my own heart and my own voice screaming in my ears. "If you don't open this door I am going to get someone." My skin is protesting. It is turning bright red and I welcome the sting.

Pandora's Box is full of secrets. Open it up. Spill them out. It's the first step. It is time to start to heal.

"Justin, open the door." Gerri's voice comes into me and I stop moving. My whole body is shaking and the water is not hot anymore. It is cold, ice cold.

"Go away," I say and I know it is barely audible. Between the water and their talking I know she did not hear me. "Go away," I say a little louder.

"Justin, please open the door. We don't want to have to bust it down."

"GO AWAY!" I shout, loud and clear. It is too late. The damage is done. They are taking the door off the hinges and I am still sitting here. I can't move. I don't think I want to. I want to see Brian. I want him to hold me and tell me that everything is going to be okay. I need it, even if it is just for a little while.

And the walls come tumbling… tumbling… tumbling down.

Gerri comes in the bathroom and looks around. She steps up to the shower and pulls the curtain open. I am sitting on the floor, huddled in the corner and shaking. I don't feel the cold. I know me skin is raw. I can feel every drop of water that touches me. "Justin," she says and reaches out a hand to touch me.

"LEAVE ME ALONE," I shout. I am trembling.

"Come on Justin, you need to get out of the water. You are going to get sick," she says. If I was not so tired I would laugh at the irony of what she just said. She tries to touch me again and I flinch slightly.

"Don't touch me." She seems to realize that the water is running and decides to turn it off, basking in her ability to do… something. I stay where I am on the floor in the shower. Gerri turns and leaves the room. I can hear her on the phone. She is talking to someone and I can almost guarantee it is Marc.

"He won't come out," I hear her say. I can only hear one side of the conversation. I want to hear both. "Well, what did they do?" She asks and I wonder what they are talking about. I am so tired. "Do you think he will come?" She asks. I know she is talking to Marc and I know she is talking about Brian.

"It's worth a try. Can you come too?" She asks. "Great, thanks a lot." I see her in the doorway. Part of me wonders why she does not make me come out. Part of me wonders why she does not have some of the medical staff come and forcibly remove me. I don't know and I guess it really does not matter.


I am halfway into a night of restless sleep when my phone rings. I reach over and grab the cordless. I press talk and hold it to my ear. "What?" I ask. It is after one in the morning.

"Brian, this is Marc Jacobs, Justin's…."

I stop breathing and sit up. "I know who you are. What's wrong?" I ask as I get out of the bed. He takes too long to answer me, too long to make a sound, to do anything. "Did he run off?"

"No, and if you really don't mind I would prefer not to talk about it over the phone. Do you think you can meet me at the clinic?" He asks me. I walk into the bathroom after getting directions from Marc and hanging up.

Run, run as fast as you can.

Thirty minutes later and I am on the road headed to the Georgia K. Lansing Rehabilitation Clinic. It is cold. It is late. It is dark. I want to be anywhere but where I am. I would not change where I am for anything in the world. Justin needs me. I don't even know why, but I am on my way.

The past and the future are terribly good enemies. One can feast on the other, sometimes rendering the host useless. The trouble lies when you can no longer tell the difference between the one who'll hurt you… and the one who will lead you into safety.

I park my car and turn the engine off. I don't want to get out and go in, but I do. I open my car door and step out onto the pavement, shutting the door behind me. "Brian, I am so glad you could make it here so quickly," Marc says as I enter the building. The floors are white linoleum. The walls are a muted gray. The lights are dimmed.

White is the color of good. White is the color of evil. White is the color of purity. White is expansive. White is sterile. White is happiness. White is sadness. White is the color of anticipated death.

Soft noises flow throughout the halls, telling you that not everyone is asleep… not everyone is resting comfortably.

"What the fuck is going on?" I ask. Marc drops his hand just as we are joined by a medium build, brunette. She cannot be any older than Marc or I, but the demeanor she projects is well aged and perfected. She does not seem like a bitch, far from one, but she is assertive and sometimes they're both the same.

"You must be Mr. Kinney?" She says as she reaches us. No, I just really need to see Justin Taylor at two in the morning.

"Brian," I tell her. She nods her head greets Marc. "What's going on?" I ask again. She turns to walk back down the hall, motioning for us to follow her.

"Justin has named both of you as the people that are allowed to be informed of his private matters. If you did not already know," she says as she leads us into her office. I don't sit down. I can't. "Justin had a particularly bad one on one session today. We delved into the subject of Shaun Peters and this seemed to make Justin very uncomfortable. He blew up, and in his frenzied state he told me of a forced sexual encounter that occurred between him and Shaun Peters."

"What?" I ask as I step a little closer to the desk. I never knew about that. Marc and Gerri both look at me and I know they are both thinking the same thing. They want to know why Justin didn't tell me. I know that is what they are thinking, because I am thinking it too.

"Justin does not like to talk. He holds it all in and then he explodes." I look at her confused. She knows what is going through my head and answers me before I can say anything. "I know he cries, but… umm, it's like a pressure cooker…." Her hands are moving in front of her; my own little demonstration. "… He cries but the real problem is still there, only less intense. That's what the cutting does for him. He can cut and cut until he feels release, no pain… only pleasure."

"So, what does that have to do with why I am here right now?" I ask. I am still thinking about Shaun and how much I want to kill him.

"Justin has been in the bathroom for the past few hours. He won't let anyone else come near him. We thought that maybe… he'd come out for you."

"Why didn't you just have one of your nurses go in and get him out of the bathroom?" I ask.

"Brian, Justin is very volatile. We want him to blow-up and get angry. What we don't want is for him to shut back down again. We can't afford for him to do that… neither can he." I lock my tongue into the side of my cheek and look over at her and then at Marc. He has been silent. He already knows all about Justin. They are working together to help him.

The Labyrinth is deep, and very, very long.


Show me your insanity… and I'll show you mine.

Dark shadows can hide your biggest fears. Come and sit down next to me. Tell me all your secrets. I'll tell you mine. The sun is gone. I don't know how long I have been sitting in this bathroom. I have no idea why I did not turn the lights on. I am cold, freezing cold, but I don't move. I need the pain. I see the light spill into the bathroom as the main door to the room is opened.

I hear the footsteps move through the room and stop at the bathroom door. Whoever-it-is is looking inside the bathroom. Before I have a chance to think, the person flips the lights on and my eyes slam shut. "Fuck, turn the fucking light off," I say. I hear the light switch flip again and I open my eyes. "Brian," I say in a whisper.

Water… water… everywhere.

"Are you planning on getting out of the shower?" He asks. I look up at him and say nothing. He leans in and starts to pull me up, slowly. I am not ready to be touched. I am not ready.

"Don't touch me," I tell him. "Leave me alone." He stands up straight and pulls me to my feet, pushing a towel into my chest and dragging me out of the stall. I almost trip over the edge as he pulls me forward. He pushes me down on Freddy's bed. Freddy is not here. He is probably in Moaning Meredith's room. He is always sneaking in there.

She has a private room. Daddy's little girl. Bitch.

Brian turns the lights on and I automatically bury my face in the towel that he pushed into me. "Turn the lights off!" I scream. He doesn't. I open my eyes, slowly letting them get use to the light. "What the fuck are you doing here?" I am still angry. I want someone to feel what I feel, except, I have no idea what I feel. I feel everything, maybe that's the problem.

"Your wonderful doctor called me 'cause Justin wouldn't come out the big bad bathroom,'" he says as he mocks my voice. "I was almost asleep." He takes off his jacket and tosses the leather onto my desk chair. "So, why didn't you tell me about Shaun?" He asks me.

FUCK! I didn't want him to know that. Why does he know that? Who told him that? "Who the fuck told you about that, and why should I have told you?" He looks at me, a smirk playing across his face. I get up and walk over to my drawer. I pull out a pair of sweats and slide into them.

"Gerri told me," he says. I stare at him. "It should have been you." He gets up. I don't want to do this. I don't want to fight with him.

"I don't want to talk about this," I say as I try to turn away from him. He grabs onto my arm and keeps me in place, facing him.

"Bullshit, you are not walking away from this. I am not your fucking doctor. I am not your therapist. I am not your mother or your asshole father. You want to scream and yell? Fine, but I am not going to let you vent and then walk away." He releases my arm and I stand still. "Why didn't you tell me about Shaun?"

"Tell you what? That he made me suck his dick. Tell you that he sucked mine before and that I used to have the biggest fucking crush on him. Tell you that it wasn't the first time that he made me do what he did. WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT TO KNOW?" I scream the last part. Tears are flowing from my eyes and I can hardly see.

"Justin," he says. He didn't know it was more than once. No one knows. This is the first time I have said it out loud. This is the first time that I have acknowledged it. This is the first time.

Brian moves forward and I take a step back.

"You think I am running away from everything. I can't run away, it's in me. I can feel it, crawling inside my body and living inside my skin. I never have a moment's peace." I look at Freddy's bed and start to rip the sheets off the thin mattress. I knock the lamp off the stand in my hurry and the bulb shatters to pieces on the hard floor. I move to my side of the room and start to rip all my drawings from the wall. "All of this is bullshit," I say as I tear down more pictures… more pieces of the puzzle.

"Justin, stop," Brian says. I am moving without trying. I don't need to tell my body which ones to pull down next. I don't need to tell myself what has to be destroyed.

"I want… I want…." I stop talking. I don't know what to say. "I just want to be… normal."

Brian gets up and wraps his arms around me, pulling me close, trying to offer some sort of comfort. I don't want him. I turn around in his arms and try to push him away from me. He lets me push and hit and scratch him and he doesn't move. I can't fight anymore. I let my arms fall to my sides and I take his smell into me. "Normal is overrated," he whispers to me.

I slowly let my arms come up and wrap around his waist. I hold on tightly and cry. I let go of everything. I hold nothing back. Brian lets me cry. He stays silent and lets me cry. Tears and snot decorate his shirt and my face, and still he kisses me. I let him. I need the gesture. He needs to know that I am still here.

All of our emotions are like static in the room, bouncing off of every surface and waiting to strike. Brian walks us backwards until we are sitting on my bed. We lay down, me on top of him. We never let go of each other. I continue to cry and he reaches up and grabs some tissue. He hands it to me and I clean my face up.

I feel the heat of his hands press into my back and I yawn. Five minutes go by and I feel my eyes start to close. I feel his hands smooth down my back one last time before I fall into a deep sleep.

Kiss me goodbye… until the morning.


I pull the blanket up and over Justin's exposed back and kiss the top of his head. I don't know what to do with the information that I have learned. I look down at Justin's face. Tear marks, and tears that have not had a chance to dry, sit on his face, waiting. I cannot help but let out a smile. I finally let someone in, and they are as fucked up as me. Figures.

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