Dave was quietly lying on his back. His state remained the same – his infusion was mixed now: vitamins and mineral substances made up his cocktail to keep his system working. He can go on like this for a few days, but after that they won’t be able to avoid taking him into the hospital. Andy agreed to this just because he wanted to give some time for Martin and because he wanted to protect Dave from publicity. But time was running out and the blonde man never showed up to face Dave, who was still staring at the ceiling in the same resigned way like before. Sometimes he blinked or slept, but still didn’t communicate. Andy did everything he could. He talked to Dave – recalling the happier old times, he told him about how his kids are doing, but didn’t get any respond. He didn’t tell that he knows about Dave and Martin – if the singer could hear him, he didn’t want to hurt him more. Fletch couldn’t do anything, he just waited until he could bare it or just sat next to Dave or tried to disarm the press.
On the corridor slightly unsure quiet steps closed to a certain goal. After a time the sound stopped in front of the featureless door. He was hesitating. He have been hesitating for days now how and what to do – then that morning it down at him. He’ll let himself go along with the happenings and won’t plan anything. He didn’t knock. It was unnecessary.
He quietly opened the door and stepped into the room, which was half-lit by the first rays of the sun. His red-haired friend was sleeping on the couch, covered with a blanket, his glasses on the nearby table. He quietly walked to him and put his hand on his shoulder to gently wake him up. When the red-haired man jumped a bit and looked up at him, he just looked him deep in the eye and nodded.
Andy slowly got up from the couch, put his glasses on and quietly walked to the door. But before he left the room, he looked back over his shoulder. Dave didn’t move, his blonde mate was showing his back to him. It took days for Mart to enter this room at all. This scenery emitted grey sadness, which made Fletch sigh – then he couldn’t take it anymore and left.
Until now Martin didn’t dare to look at Dave. For a long minute he was just standing there, staring into nothing then sighed quietly and turned around slowly, his gaze resting on the motionless figure, who was lying on his side, showing his back to him. Yes, he knew that this will happen… As his brain processed the sight, the still fresh wounds cut even deeper into his painfully bleeding soul. A desperate and worrying expression showed up on his face then after a few more minutes he forced himself to slowly walk around the bed – though he didn’t know how he’d be able to take this whole thing. Even just seeing Dave from the back was awful suffering to him… He quietly stopped next the bed and looked down at the empty face and the dead eyes staring into nothing. His heart sank painfully as he carefully sat down onto the edge of the bed.
Dave’s body was still in ‘off mode’, but inside his self stirred in the inevitable dream his consciousness pushed him into to protect him from the pain. Though he still didn’t come around.
Suddenly Mart wasn’t sure about what he should do. On the one hand he wanted to help in any case, but on the other hand he felt as if his hands were tied – he couldn’t touch the singer because of Jen. Moreover he couldn’t have been allowed to be here if it wasn’t vital. He was mad at her, because she had left Dave alone in this difficult situation; he was mad at her because she parted them, though… deep inside he could even understand her…
After a few minutes of hesitating he stroked along Dave’s arm, which the singer had pulled up to his chest. Mart slid his palm slowly onto his love’s hand to gently grab it and pull it onto his own thigh, where he took his hand between his and started stroking the long fingers comfortingly.
It was as if this touch had caused a sparkle – it ran along Dave’s nervous path to his brain, breaking through the thick fog, which closed out his consciousness from the outside world, and hit right into the middle of his frozen emotions, setting them on fire within a second, sending out the calling voice of waking up. The world’s noises flooded the singer, who was closed up in silence until now. He blinked then very slowly turned his head to the side.
“Martin…” he began, but his husky voice failed him.
His blonde mate didn’t look up, he was quietly examining the venous hand between his, head bent down, painful expression on his face. Dave closed his eyes and gently squeezed the caressing hand. He barely could believe that he can see his blonde love again. That he’s here with him!
He didn’t want to give false hopes for Dave, so he didn’t dare to look at his face at all, he was just stroking his hand imperturbably. His moves transmitted the worry and silent suffering he felt inside, but the passion was lacking. Dave noticed this. The happiness faded away as quickly as it cam
“You came just because of this, didn’t you?” the singer’s eyes darkened “To wake me up.”
Mart was afraid that in case he opens his mouth, unarticulated sounds would leave his throat and his voice’d fail him so he just nodded, still staring at the singer’s hand.
Dave’s eyes filled with pain. He pulled his hand back and turning his head away he just said: “You did your job.”
Martin thought that he’d suffocate from the pain which reached up from his heart to his throat, which was caused by Dave’s cold tone. His whole body cried out from the urge to snatch at the forbidden fruit, to slide under the cover and nuzzle to Dave, kissing and consoling him. But he couldn’t do that and knowing this made him crazy. He knew that if he surrendered for his desire, there’d be no turning back, later he wouldn’t be able to refuse him! He was just sitting on the edge of the bed, staring in front of him and fighting with his tears and desires. He couldn’t move. He wanted to flee from the room and stay around Dave in the same time. Previously when he was stroking his hand Mart felt himself calmer – as usually when he was with Dave. But after the singer pulled away this feeling disappeared, faded away.
Dave still didn’t look at his blonde mate. Pain attacked him, mauling his broken soul again. “Why are you torturing me?” he whispered his question.
His lover was biting his lip hard from the inside to stop the desperate yell which started growing in his throat. He turned his head carefully towards Dave, letting their eyes meet for a long moment. In Mart’s swirling irises the deep resentment and helplessness were clearly visible. He tried to show that immense pain he felt this way. Then with an unusual swiftness he jumped up and hurried out of the room, choking on his emotions, never saying a word.
Dave jumped painfully from the thud of the door. He couldn’t do it in another way. To protect Mart from getting hurt even more, he had to hurt him now. Him… and himself too. He slowly sat up and pulled out the needle of the infusion from his hand. He slid to the edge of the bed and had to moan as he closed his eyes. The room was spinning in front of him and the pain bit into his living flesh as he cried out and his tears broke through.
Martin rushed along the corridor – not knowing where he was or where he was headed. He felt like suffocating, that this place, his room, the situation, Dave wants to choke him! He didn’t know whether he knew the people he passed by. Suddenly he found himself at the top of the stairway, in front of a door. As he opened it he found himself on the roof. He nearly ran out there and let the fresh, sharp wind embrace him so he could fill his lungs with air. Though the chains didn’t fall off, but at least he could breathe better now. As he touched his face he realized that his tears have been falling from his aching eyes. He knew that this’ll happen! He knew that if he goes into Dave’s room it’ll cause more suffering. But… at least he could help him… He brought Dave out of his numbness.
Days were passing by and first the band members were happy from the news that Dave came round. They thought that now everything’ll be fine… but as days went on they had to admit that they were wrong. Dave still didn’t show up often, he didn’t eat and it was visible that he was losing weight. In turn they should have go on with the tour, but just looking at Dave was enough to know that he wouldn’t be able to bear the constant pressure. He was broken and his mates saw this.
Martin walked among them with a constant gloomy and closed-up expression. He came just when it was absolutely necessary for him to show up. This way he tried to get less torture with Dave’s presence. And he suspected that the singer felt the same way. Mart went crazy that he couldn’t touch him; that all of his own pain’d pour out of him in case he addressed Dave. With the last remains of his strength he tried to bottle up and lock away this pain into the depths of his soul and heart. Even when they had to be in one room with Dave, he tried not to look at him. He didn’t want to see the possible suffering and accusation. He knew Dave quite well. He was sure that in his helplessness – sooner or later – the singer would blame him for these things. He’d ask why Mart didn’t deny their relationship in front of Jen; he’d say that Mart was the one who let this whole thing get out of hands… Asking why he couldn’t go on with denying it in front of Jennifer.
On his lonely nights – which’s number Andy or the others tried to minimalise with inviting and calling Mart to hear and there – when he couldn’t take it anymore, he secretly reached for the bottle again and drank until he was senseless so it couldn’t hurt what Dave was, what Dave meant for him and whose loss he was mourning from the darkest corner of his heart. He tried to suppress everything, but he didn’t know how much more he will be able to endure; how much pain he can take before going totally crazy.
Dave carefully sat up in his creased bed. He moaned as his blood-pressure slowly got in balance. He was just sitting on the edge of the bed for a few minutes. There was no pain, though he still felt its place bluntly throbbing in his temples. Another migraine, more days dropped out. He can’t ask for an injection into his spine every time. Because these occasions got more frequent. He slowly got up and stumbled into the bathroom to take a shower. When he looked into the mirror, he wasn’t too surprised from the sight: there were dark circles under his eyes, his face sunken, careworn.
After finishing the shower he dried himself and dressed up. Even his clothes had shown the signs of weight-loss. He could easily do that in stressed situations. How will he go back on stage this way? He has to go back… he wants to go back. He hoped for help from his fans – he saw the loophole in them. He hoped that they’ll make him forget his sorrow. He barely saw Martin, but he was counting on this. The thing which filled him with worry was what Mart’s face told him unwillingly next to the silent inside-suffering. He hoped that he was wrong, but if not… He sighed and tightened his belt so this way his black trousers didn’t fell off of him. Then he headed for Curly’s room.
His head was aching again like hell. He cursed himself and quickly swallowed another painkiller for his headache. He swore again that he won’t drink anymore, because the hangovers killed him. He sighed and stopped on the deserted corridor, just standing there for a few minutes without any aim. He let his head fall back and closed his eyes until the pill started to work. Then he scratched his nape and opened his room’s door just to recoil when he turned around.
“Dave?! What’re you doing here?” he asked and couldn’t hide the surprise in his voice. He didn’t count on his ex-lover walking into the lion’s cave willingly.
From the door Martin saw Dave standing in the room sideways to him, lost in thoughts. Behind his back he lined up a nice collection of bottles on the bed. He looked at Mart without a word, not moving towards him.
“Oh…” Mart’s look darkened as he understood the aim of Dave’s visit. “How did you know?” he walked to the small fridge and took out a bottle of mineral water.
“I know you. Your face is telltale. Why do you do this to yourself? You’ll ruin yourself!”
“You’re talking?” he asked on a neutral tone and eyed the broken singer, who started to look worryingly thin “Anyway… it doesn’t matter too much now.”
“It matters to me” he answered.
“Why? Why should I please you or anyone else, if you can’t be mine?” he whispered staring in front of him.
“Oh god, you’re so vain!” Dave exclaimed “It’s about your health, fuck it! And it fucking matters to me!”
Mart didn’t say a word just pressed his lips together, avoiding Dave’s eyes. He thought that this was unnecessary. He didn’t see any sense in it.
“Promise me. I don’t want to watch as you destroy yourself…” Dave’s voice softened.
Mart looked up and examined Dave’s face for a long time. It was sunken, pale and stubbly. His wrinkles deepened and dark circles were under his eyes. Just like under his. Their wounded eyes met for a long moment. Martin felt like a trapped animal, squirming. He was dying slowly and without Dave the flame of life was fading away inside of him. He felt less than half of a human since they had to part.
“Alright” he sighed, but looked away immediately.
Dave sighed then after a few moments he said: “I want to go back on stage…” he looked at the blonde man.
Mart looked up a bit surprised. “Okay. As you wish” he swallowed hard at the end. At least he wanted to fulfill Dave’s wish this way - now that he couldn’t do it in any other way. It didn’t matter for him where he suffers – on the stage or in his hotel room.
“I’m asking this cuz I want to know that you’ll be okay with it. Will you be able to bear it?” his green eyes glinted with worry.
“Uh-uh, yeah” he nodded a few times, his head already turned towards the window as he got lost in his thoughts. Of course he didn’t tell Dave that this will evoke ambivalent feelings in him – the more he is with him on stage, the more it’ll hurt him, but at least he can be with him like this while he’s playing with the audience or with him. He knew that it’ll be hard and that he won’t play square if he’ll have the opportunity.
Dave didn’t answer just walked to Martin and gently – as a shadow – touched his arm.
“Please…” he whispered once more, thinking on the drinking then headed for the door and left the room.
Martin felt as if the spot, where Dave’s fingers touched him, was burning. He didn’t move for a long while then shook his head and rubbed his arm nervously, stepping to the window to open it. Within a minute he lit a cigarette and started crawling confused in the room, glimpsing again and again on the lined up bottles. When he couldn’t take it anymore, he put out the rest of his cigarette and took a bag. He threw the bottles into that, called a hotel boy and asked him to get rid off it while he slid a nice tip into his hand. He waited until he brought back the bag then locked his door and tried to sleep a bit during their afternoon break. At least his head didn’t ache that much.
Dave let the band know his wish. The relief was palpable so they pulled themselves together and hit the road again. Since that day Dave didn’t speak to Martin, but then he took more painkillers. His head ached more and more frequently. He knew that this was mainly because of the lack of normal eating, but he just couldn’t look at food. And since that night he didn’t want to think of Jennifer either. He didn’t want to see her. He couldn’t decide how much he hated his wife now. But the fans were happy that they moved along with the tour, they thought that the danger was over. Well, he’ll be curious of that moment when he’ll step onto the stage… with Martin.
Before the concert the usual uproar lumbered around the arena. But somehow this time it couldn’t touch Martin. He knew that he’ll do his job. But he knew too that except of doing his task precisely, he’ll be moody. With the passing of days the pain was biting hard his chest and whole being. He had no idea how he will bear this whole thing. He knew that this will not change until the end of the tour. No, not until he was near – and so far – to Dave. It was time for him to go so he walked into the sweltering lights of the reflectors.
Dave followed his mates calmly – he didn’t show any sign of nervousness. The audience roared as they spotted him. He bowed and the show was on. Everything went smoothly, though Dave didn’t turn to Marin, he didn’t joke with him. He was in top form, played with the crowd but it was just and only for the audience. He felt a little negative change just once: when he took off his vest and they could see how tired and thin he was. He saw the worrying faces, but he could still amply say that just the concerts drained out his strength.
Martin tried to avoid Dave’s figure with his eyes too. He did what he usually did before they got this close: he let himself sink into the music and his own thoughts, looking upwards. This time the usual foolery, touches and kisses were nowhere and lacking these made Mart’s skin and soul burn even more. When he couldn’t take it anymore, he looked at the nearby spinning and singing man and he was appalled at the sight of him. He was the only one who could really see in how bad shape Dave really was. Mart was worried beyond expression. He could have screamed!
Dave saw on the crowd that they felt that something has changed. That something was lost for good. And they felt sorry for this. Though a simple viewer wouldn’t have spotted this – but he saw the confused, waiting faces. They hoped that until the end of the concert he’ll make some funny, ambiguous moves, but the last song came too and he didn’t do so.
Martin didn’t move too much from his place either – nearly just when he walked into the middle during his solos when the stage was his. There was no problem with his voice – moreover he put all his frustration and pain into his songs, giving some of them out at least this way. And he knew and saw that with this he moved the audience even more than usual. After that emptiness filled him from the inside as if with his pain he sang out his emotions too. During the bow at the end of the show he remained on the brink of them – the farthest from his love.
The audience whistled and yelled, they didn’t want to let them go this time either… But Dave felt that they could just barely live through the show. He just wanted to go to bed and get lost in his unknowing dreams.
“How could you take it?” Andy squeezed Martin’s shoulder, marooned from the others a bit.
The blonde man looked tiredly in his eyes and shrugged “I survived.”
Andy looked at their singer, who was bringing up the rear. He insisted on a separate dressing room, which’s door he soon closed behind him. The red-haired man sighed and looked at Mart again.
“It won’t get any better, Andy…” he noted quietly, his head bent down.
“I don’t know” he shook his head. He didn’t dare to say yes. He was afraid that with doing so he’d make it final.
“I’d feel sorry if yes. Are you sure you can’t talk this over again?”
“Andy…” he looked at him with painfully glistening eyes “this whole thing wasn’t up to me. Jen… Jen declared my death sentence.”
“I meant her. I guess she sees that this isn’t good for Dave…”
“I just can’t understand that… woman!” he kept his voice low not to start yelling in his frustration “Since then she never dared to show up! She has no idea what she’d left behind her! She just told us that she doesn’t want us to be together, cuz she can’t take it and she fled! She left her broken, deadly wounded husband behind! After this how dare she think that Dave’ll love her?! Ever?! She doesn’t even deserve him!!!” he exclaimed at the end and his whole body was shaking from desperate anger.
“Relax” Andy said on a soft tone “Alright, let’s drop the Jen topic. But if this kills you this much, wouldn’t it be better to put your desire is front?”
“What do you mean?” he asked surprised, this put him off from his boiling anger.
“I mean that maybe you should go on with this… without Jen knowing about it.”
For a moment he got lost in his thoughts as false hope glinted in front of him, but then he shook his head. “No, Andy. I don’t want to expose Dave to cross-fire again. I rather sacrifice myself than let him leave Jen and the kids.”
“Jen, who asked this from him?” he shook his head “I can’t understand you, Mart.”
“Don’t you think it’d be selfish from me acting in another way?”
“You’ll rather suffer for the rest of your life?”
“I can’t do anything else, Andy… I can’t smash the chance for him to keep his family. With time… with time maybe the bonds will loosen… With time…” his voice failed him. He wanted to believe that there was a way out of this situation, even if it was the hard way.
“You really think so?”
“I want to believe that with time he’ll forget me” he whispered huskily. His throat felt so tight that he could barely press out these words as he imagined Dave being happy after a few years, not even remembering him, the lonely, still broken long-ago love of his. If Mart was still alive then.
“I don’t think that this could occur and I think you’re clear with this too. You know how strong your relationship is.”
Mart wanted to end this conversation. He wouldn’t be able to explain his point of view for Andy. He shrugged.
“Now it doesn’t matter anyway” he said and walked to their dressing room on the quieter corridor, where just a few members of the crew were running around.
Andy just watched Mart’s back. His friend was totally broken and the one who could help on him can’t do that… He would not have thought even in his dream that he’ll see this. See as their friendship – and even more – falls apart this way. He continued his walk towards the dressing room too.