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    Headstall
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Endings - 2. Chapter 2 Pieces

I promise...

                                                                                                                                                                                         ***

Pieces

 

 

The sound of Hank’s voice coaxed him awake, and this time he felt way better, physically at least.

“What’s your name?”

Chase stretched before opening his eyes. Hank was close, his voice almost a whisper in the dimly lit room, with the only light coming from the hallway. “Ah… Chase… my name is Chase.”

“Last name?”

“Leeman.”

“Where are you?”

“At my dad’s condo… in his bedroom. I’m fine, Hank.”

“Humor me. What year is it?”

“Twenty nineteen.”

“Any headache?”

“Um, no. Well, a little behind my eyes, I guess.”

“Lift your arm a bit.”

Chase obeyed, wishing he still had the right to touch him… to kiss him. He settled for drinking in his shadowy features as he slid the thermometer into place. No one in this world was as handsome as Hank, something the man never seemed to be aware of.

“Phew… you really are ripe.”

“I know. Sorry. Do you think I could—”

“No, no shower yet.”

“Is Cindy coming over?”

“Not tonight. We decided I would stay till morning. I called Allan and told him you had a fever and wouldn’t be in tomorrow.”

“Oh damn, Allan… thanks. Did you leave a message?”

“No, he picked up… probably because I used your phone.”

“Oh, okay. Thanks again. What about your work?”

“Taken care of. Keep your arm against your ribs.”

“Sorry.”

Seconds later, the thermometer beeped. “One hundred point three. Good. The Tylenol’s working. I’ll wake you in about three hours and you can take a couple more then. Here, drink this. It’s half orange juice, half water, so it should be easier on your stomach.”

Chase took the glass gratefully. “My dad had orange juice?”

“The frozen kind you have to mix, yeah. When’s he back?”

“Ah… not for a month at least, I think. His ticket is open-ended, but he said he’d be gone for about three months.”

“Right, I remember his last visit before he left. That gives you lots of time.”

“Time?”

“To find a place.”

Chase, robbed of breath, nodded before looking down.

“All right. I’ll take that”—he reached for the empty glass—“so, anything else?”

He cleared his throat before answering. “I have to pee, but I can manage.”

“All right. Get up, and I’ll stick close.”

Chase staggered immediately, still reeling from Hank’s loaded comment, but the man was quick to steady him, keeping a grip on his arm until they reached the master bathroom. Just a weak, short stream came out, and it was a sickly neon yellow. “I thought there’d be more.”

“You’re dehydrated, so it’s to be expected. I’ll get you another glass of water. Try to drink it, okay… and Chase?”

“Yeah?” He turned to face the man.

“You’re not going to do this again, are you?”

“Do what? Oh... you mean fall back into a depression, like when mom stopped… talking?”

“Uh, yeah. I know that was a difficult time—it still affects me too when I think of Christine—but you need to take care of yourself, for your sake and everyone else’s. You can’t hide away in bed and try to shut the world out. Remember what it was like?”

“How could I forget?” he answered with an edge he instantly regretted. "Look, you don’t need to worry. I’ll figure out how to deal with everything. Can I just say one thing, though?”

“Sure.” The answer didn’t match the reluctant expression on his face.

Chase faltered under the steely gaze. “Ah, I won’t hide away again, but I love you, Hank, and I don’t see myself getting past this anytime soon. There might be some bad days, but I don’t want you to feel responsible for me. I’m not going to try to take advantage of you.”

Long seconds passed as the man stared at him. Chase didn’t look away. “All right. Back under the covers, and I’ll go get your water. Do you want juice in it?”

“Yes, please. That was good.” He tried to sound upbeat, but that was the first time his ‘I love you’ hadn’t been returned.

 

The next time he woke, no one was asking him questions. The room was dark, the condo eerily silent, and Chase felt terribly alone, even though he knew Hank wouldn’t leave without telling him. Sitting farther up on the bed, a familiar wave of anxiety rose up and battered at him.

Damn, now was not the time to have a panic attack. Breathing deeply, he focused on his chest rising and falling, telling himself the fear would leave if he stopped thinking about it. Repeating one two-syllable word, ‘pleasure,’ over and over in his head like a chant, slowly did the trick—his heart eventually calmed, and he came back to himself.

It was a method his doctor had taught him, and it was always a big deal when he conquered such powerful anxiety. During his worst times, he would be in that state for hours—pacing, sweating, and thinking he was dying. This time he had conquered one all by himself, but as satisfying as it was to win the battle, there was little of the elation he usually felt when he came out the other side. At least he was now able to think.

Replaying their conversations, he got stuck on the fact he had to find a place of his own. For much of the almost three years he’d lived with Hank, when he wasn’t keeping his mother company, his boyfriend had never complained about his moods, not once. When the visits became a deathwatch, Chase could barely function, but Hank had stuck to his side, keeping him going through the darkest of days. He didn’t deserve that kind of devotion, but he’d had it. And now it was gone. He’d managed to lose the man he loved, a man who was better than perfect, in one stupid evening.

Quietly, he began to sob. He couldn’t help it, but he didn’t want Hank to hear, and ended up putting a pillow over his face to keep the noise from escaping. Apparently, it didn’t work.

“Chase? Hey.” Strong hands gently pulled the pillow away. “Come here.”

Chase could make out his outstretched arms and he leaned into them, clutching Hank close. And then he let all the pain and remorse out. Many minutes passed before he was able to gather himself. “Sorry,” he muttered.

“It’s fine.” The quaver in Hank’s voice was followed by an unmistakable sob.

“Hank? Are you all right?”

“What do you think?” He pulled back, and Chase flicked on the bedside light.

“You’re crying too,” he said, stating the obvious.

“Of course I am. Do you think you’re the only one who lost something?”

“No, I know—”

“You ripped my heart out, Chase. You ripped it out and you fucking stomped on it.”

“I know you’re angry, and you should be….”

Hank grabbed some tissues for the box on the side table and handed some to him. He blew his own nose, and then looked past Chase, his eyes fixed on the headboard. It was then he noticed how exhausted the man looked.

“I’m not angry, not like I was. I mean, what’s the point? I’m hurting—”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t—”

“Wait. Let me finish. I’m hurt, but I see the bigger picture now. I should have realized you weren’t ready. It was too soon after your mom passed. She was your best friend, and I get that.”

“Yes, she was… but so were you.” He wiped away some fresh tears. “It was no excuse for what I did, though.”

“No, it wasn’t, but….”

“Hank? Are you saying you could forgive me?”

“No… I don’t think I can. I was talking about the proposal, and I’m saying I think I understand why you said no, that’s all. The rest, though… I can’t get that picture out of my head… you kissing someone else like that. It destroyed what we had, Chase.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“I’ve been thinking. I thought you didn’t love me, and maybe that was unfair of me. That wasn’t why you said no, and coming to that conclusion helps… a little.”

“I said no because I was stupid.”

“No, not stupid, just realistic. Sometimes love isn’t enough. You need to live more before you’re ready to commit to someone.”

“What does that mean?”

“You know what it means. You should be free to do what you want, because you never really have been. I was your first real boyfriend.”

“First? You say that like it’s a bad thing. I don’t want to be free, and I don’t want anyone else,” Chase whined. He was immediately annoyed with himself for doing so, but he’d felt some hope and didn’t want to let go of it.

“Are you sure about that? It’s not what I saw,” Hank finished softly.

“I understand how you must feel—what it looked like, but I am sure. It’s the last thing I want.”

“Give it time, Chase. Do you want anything?” he asked, effectively dismissing the subject.

“Hank—”

“Just leave it. I can’t even consider an ‘us.’ Look… for now, let’s try to be friends. That wouldn’t be the worst thing, would it?”

“I guess not, but….” There went the last of his hope.

“So, do you want anything? It’s time to take more Tylenol, but you feel cool.”

“I’m feeling back to normal… you don’t have to stick around anymore.”

“That wasn’t very convincing.”

“You’ve done enough, Hank, and I appreciate it, but you should go. I’m fine, and you look tired.”

“And now you’re shutting down.”

Chase went to speak, but Hank held up his hand as he stood up.

“I know I didn’t tell you what you want to hear, but that’s only because you haven’t had time to think things through the way I have. This isn’t something we can sweep under a rug, and you should know me well enough to get that.”

“I do, but can’t we try to—”

“There are some things you just can’t take back, Chase, no matter how much you might want to. Anyway, I’m staying until morning. I already told Cindy I would, and your Dad’s sofa is comfortable. Any objections?”

“No, no objections. I just thought… never mind. I’m going to get some more juice.” He went to get up but Hank had other ideas.

“I’ll get the juice and you can take your temperature before you start moving around. Do you think you’re up for a shower now?”

“God, yeah, but I don’t have any clothes here.”

“Your dad’s roughly the same size. There’s a closet full of clothes, so surely he has something you could wear. As long as you’re steady on your feet, it should make you feel better.”

 

Chase didn’t sleep again until near dawn. After showering, he’d entered the bedroom to find juice and crackers on the night table, as well as a power bar. Where the heck did Hank find that? Oh, right… he often had ones in his car.

The man in question was nowhere to be seen, but he’d been right about the shower being good for him. He made short work of the crackers, ate half the power bar, and took more Tylenol before climbing under the covers, not wanting to bother his tired ex again.

His brain was in high gear, and he became seriously afraid as he lay there. Was Hank right? Did he actually want his freedom? Why had he allowed that guy to kiss him? He remembered being flattered with the attention at the time, but he also remembered feeling way too tipsy on the dance floor. He was a lightweight when it came to drinking, and that was probably his biggest mistake. Still, did the kiss mean something… more than he thought? It had been exciting for the first few seconds, until he’d remembered Hank.

For hours he went back and forth, and in the process, found something that made sense. Each time he thought about that night, and Hank’s proposal in particular, he also thought about his mother, and a familiar feeling came over him. He’d never examined it before, just accepting it as sadness, and missing her.

But, it eventually became clear he equated Hank’s proposal with his mother—she loved weddings. A light bulb went on, and he grasped at the answers he’d been searching for. The fact was, he was carrying a sizable amount of guilt over living and being happy, when his mother had spent years in painful hell, right up to those final weeks when the constant but necessary morphine robbed her of all remnants of her dignity. The mother he knew was so suddenly gone, and hers had become the milky, unseeing eyes of a stranger.

His father, her devoted husband, had to leave the continent as a way of dealing with the pain of losing his wife. What fucking right did Chase have to be happy? He was hit with the depth of sorrow still present as he revisited those final years, and now he understood the reason his stomach had sickened and dropped when Hank had knelt before him.

It had been six months since she passed, and that whole time he’d refused to talk about her, with his family, or with Hank. It was illuminating, and he realized something else: his mother would have kicked his ass for feeling this way.

Sitting up in the darkness, he pushed away the always-lurking misery, and examined his thoughts one by one. He began to have an inkling of why he’d acted out the way he did with that stranger—he began to understand a lot of things—and having a possible answer calmed his mind, at least enough to let him slip back into sleep as he slid back down onto the mattress. This time it was a restful one.

Just before his conscious brain turned off, it occurred to him he couldn’t even recall the features of the guy in the bar, not even his eye color. That realization brought his first smile since he’d seen Hank’s horrified face through the partially open doorway of the bathroom stall. Hank was wrong. He harbored no hidden desire for ‘freedom.’

 

“Chase?”

He stretched, the body aches no longer present. It felt good, and he opened his eyes to filtered sunlight. “Hey,” he said to the disheveled man standing over him.

“It’s been four hours. Do I need to ask you the questions?”

“Chase Leeman, at my dad’s condo, twenty nineteen, and I’m fine,” he responded with a smile. “You look beat.”

“I am, a little. I checked your thermometer reading when you were showering last night, and it was normal.”

“I feel fine, Hank. Way better. Hungry, though.” He sat up, the olive green tee shirt reminding him he was wearing his dad’s clothes.

“That’s a good sign.”

“I can’t thank you enough for what you did.”

“It wasn’t a big deal.” He looked away, and Chase sensed an uneasiness in the man.

“Yes, it was. I was sinking back into depression, and we both know it.”

Hank nodded, and then sighed. “If it happens again you have to call someone… and call Dr. Chorney.”

“I will, I promise. I already decided I was going to, but I’m not worried about getting that bad again. I did a lot of thinking, and I can see stuff I couldn’t before. Maybe I… ah… can I buy you breakfast? I’d like to talk to you about it.”

“We already talked.”

“Yeah, but now I understand more about why I did what I did.”

“Good… good for you, but it won’t change anything for me. Look, you’re back to normal, and I have to go.”

“Oh… okay… why, though. You don’t have to go to work, do you?”

“I… I might go in at noon.”

“I see.” Chase did see, and it didn’t ring true.

“You should pick up some of your clothes today… and your other stuff. No rush, though. And you should call Cindy. She called an hour ago, still worried, but I told her you were sleeping peacefully.”

Chase fought a wave of disappointment. It doesn’t change anything for me. He rallied for Hanks sake, pretending it wasn’t a kick to his gut. “I’ll call her. Can I have a hug before you go? I don’t reek anymore.”

Hank smiled, sort of. “I guess… sure.”

Chase squeezed the man once he had him in his arms, but there was no return squeeze. It became awkward fast. “Thanks again,” he said as Hank pulled away and stood up.

“Just, for God’s sake, take care of yourself, Chase, and don’t forget to—”

“Call Cindy… I know.”

Hank left, and Chase’s bruised heart sank. He struggled against the urge to bury himself under the covers. He’d show Hank he wasn’t the mess he’d been for the last couple of years. Yeah, he’d show him. Chase caught himself, realizing it was easier said than done without the man at his side. Groaning in frustration, he felt that little bit of positivity drain away, but he rallied as he thought about what Hank had just done for him. It had to mean something that he stayed the night to keep check on him, didn’t it?

One step at a time. Okay, first, he should call work and apologize to Allan. And then breakfast. No... before food, he needed to book an appointment with Dr. Chorney.

The man had warned him when he went off his meds that it was too soon. Chase hadn’t listened at the time, but he would now. There was too much at stake, and he’d done enough damage already. Hank would be pleased with him.

It felt good to have a purpose, and he headed for his father’s closet. There, he found some newish jeans and a thin, long sleeved pullover. Geez, what was his dad’s fixation with olive green. Maybe he’d take him shopping when he arrived back in the country. They needed to come together as a family again—it’s what his mother would want—and what he needed.

Ten minutes later he was showered and dressed. He was going commando because he just couldn’t bring himself to don a pair of his father’s underwear.

Allan was receptive when he called and opened up to him about what had happened, and he sounded genuinely concerned, telling Chase to take an extra day if needed. He and the new interns could cover for him… nothing was urgent.

Next, he called his psychiatrist’s office, and was pleased to hear they could fit him in that very afternoon.

 

“I know… I know I’ve been a jerk.”

“I did not call you a jerk!”

Chase sighed… loudly. Cindy had called before he had a chance to do it first, and they’d been talking for enough time he was regretting picking up. “I know you didn’t. I’m saying it, and I’m saying you don’t have to worry about me.”

“You always say that,” she said angrily.

“You’re right, I do.”

“So why should I believe you? You cheated on the greatest guy in the world for Pete’s sake!”

“I did not cheat!”

“Making out with some stranger in a sleazy bathroom isn’t cheating? Tell that to Hank.”

“It wasn’t sleazy… okay, yes, I did that. And yes, that is cheating, and I’ve been beating myself up for it ever since, but….” Damn, this was frustrating.

“But, what?”

“You won’t understand, because I barely do and I don’t know how to explain it.”

“Try, Chase. Just bloody well talk to me.” At least she didn’t yell this time.

“Okay,” he said, following up with another loud sigh. “I know I didn’t want that guy—I wasn’t even attracted to him—just the… distraction. I’m pretty sure that… I think I was sabotaging myself in some weird way. That’s what I’ve figured out, anyway, and I know it probably doesn’t make sense to—”

“Because of Mom.”

“What?”

“I said ‘because of Mom.’ You don’t think you should be happy because it doesn’t seem fair, right?”

“Exactly, it doesn’t seem fair. How did you know?”

“It’s hard for me too, Chase.”

“You feel like that… do that too?”

“Sometimes… I did. Nobody deserves to go through that much pain, and no one as strong as Mom should lose every bit of their strength the way she did. What we have, it’s called survivor’s guilt.”

“Survivor’s… how do you know this stuff?”

“Therapy. I’m still going, but I don’t want Dad to know, okay?”

“Sure. But why not?”

“Because he needs to worry about himself, not us. We lost our mom, but he lost his other half. If I’d said anything to him, he might not have gone on his trip.”

“Honestly, I’m not sure he would have even heard you. So why didn’t you tell me this sooner? It might have helped me.”

“Don’t be so hard on Dad.”

“I’m not. But you have to admit he checked out on us a long time ago.”

“For good reason, Chase.”

“Yeah, I understand why. It’s just... anyway, so why didn’t you tell me about the survivor’s guilt thing?”

“I don’t know. Maybe because of the depression you went through. Or maybe because you don’t open up to me. I ask you questions and you say you’re fine, or it’s no big deal, or things are great. I had to find out from Hank what you did.”

“Because I was ashamed. I still am.”

“I understand, and I’m not trying to give you a hard time. So, what are you going to do? Hank says you’re over.”

“I don’t know if there’s anything I can do. I hurt him, Cind, but I can’t bear to lose him. Who else would have stuck with me like he did? He couldn’t do enough, and I love him so much.”

“And Mom loved him.”

“Yeah, Mom loved him. Before she became… when she could still talk, if I showed up alone she’d ask me where he was, even on the really bad days. He was her son too.” Chase’s emotions rose up, causing tears, and neither sibling spoke for a minute.

“So, have you figured out where you go from here?”

“No frigging idea,” he answered ruefully. “But, I am going to see Dr. Chorney this afternoon. I need to. I used to give him a hard time, but I trust him to steer me the right way.”

“It’s nice to hear you talk like this, Chase.”

“Like what?”

“Opening up, talking about Mom again, and taking control of your life.”

He scoffed. “Is that what I’m doing? I feel like I’m going on a wing and a prayer, but I know I can’t hide away. It’s way easy to fall back into that habit, and even harder to get out of it. I couldn’t have done it without Hank, but now I’m on my own.”

“I’m not him, but you got me, little brother, so don’t shut me out, okay?”

“I’ll try, Cindy.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

 

*

Thanks for reading. What do you think of Chase's... and Hank's... journey so far? Can you relate? Share your thoughts by commenting, if this story moves you in some way. Cheers!

Copyright © 2019 Headstall; All Rights Reserved.
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I have to admit I have more sympathy for Hank than Chase. Hank stayed all the way through the hard time, including his boyfriend's depression. Chase (and his family) got therapy and sympathy from their surroundings, but apparently no one considered offering Hank some help in dealing with Chase's behavior. All he got was rejection and to witness the love of his life drunkenly kiss someone else. I would have run a mile too, so I'm not surprised he's keeping his distance.

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4 minutes ago, Timothy M. said:

I have to admit I have more sympathy for Hank than Chase. Hank stayed all the way through the hard time, including his boyfriend's depression. Chase (and his family) got therapy and sympathy from their surroundings, but apparently no one considered offering Hank some help in dealing with Chase's behavior. All he got was rejection and to witness the love of his life drunkenly kiss someone else. I would have run a mile too, so I'm not surprised he's keeping his distance.

I totally get Hank. Chase paints him as practically a saint, and I don't think he's too far off. Still, is he biting off his nose to spite his face? I mean, for someone so understanding and supportive, it does seem he might be shortchanging himself. We all know Chase wasn't about to go off with the bathroom stall guy, so is something missing here?  Will Hank be as resolute as he is appearing? 

I agree, and I would have run a mile too... really... but I'd also want a f'ing explanation. Right now, Hank doesn't appear to want one... and that seems an indication of... something. Or, maybe not. I'm pleased you're on Hank's side at the moment... breakups often tend to have sides. :(  Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Tim. I always appreciate hearing what you think... cheers... Gary.... :hug: 

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To me Chase seems to be more like child than a responsible and reliable adult. So I guess he will only have a chance with Hank if he manages to take full responsibility for what he does. He has taken a big step today. Actually more than one. But how will his change get back (am I saying this right?) to the man he still loves? The two men will need some sort of intervention from outside. At least that is my guess, but this does not promise to be an easy journey for both men or a short one either. Quite a complex story!

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 This is a well written chapter with great Dialog. Well so Chase was trying to sabotage a good thing that he has with Hank or had. Because he also has the same illness that killed his mother and he is self destructive. I just love his sister not what I expected from chapter one. At least not how Chase had painted her.  Hank says he wants to be friends well I have  some hope that things could change only time will tell :yes: And I would like to learn more about Hank!

Great chapter:thankyou::kiss:

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I'm not at all sure I like either of them so far, but I hope to be persuaded!  And they are both grieving in their own ways.

 

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4 hours ago, Parker Owens said:

In keeping Chase on only friendly terms, Hank is protecting himself, and it seems like he has his reasons. Chase promises to seek professional help, and maybe that will help him heal and move forward. Unless something different can move Hank, it doesn’t seem they’ll move closer again. But what do you have in mind?

I'll never tell, Parker. :P  Hank has definitely pulled back out of hurt, and he's honest about that. I think it's a big step for Chase to ask for help... what that means at this point, we don't know. Maybe it result in them moving in different directions. Thanks for engaging in and supporting this story, my friend... cheers... Gary.... :hug: 

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4 hours ago, mayday said:

To me Chase seems to be more like child than a responsible and reliable adult. So I guess he will only have a chance with Hank if he manages to take full responsibility for what he does. He has taken a big step today. Actually more than one. But how will his change get back (am I saying this right?) to the man he still loves? The two men will need some sort of intervention from outside. At least that is my guess, but this does not promise to be an easy journey for both men or a short one either. Quite a complex story!

Yes! He comes across as a little boy in some ways... I agree. I think he is trying to take responsibility, but he's too confused to get his points across with Hank. I mean, is he letting Hank make decisions for him? He's retreated, to a place he spent a lot of time in, and that is doing him no favors... and for my money, it shows an imbalance in the relationship they used to have. And yes, you said it right... those steps he's taking could be away from what they had. I'm pleased and nervous you find the story complex, mayday. Before I posted this, I was worried about how it would be received... I usually am with each story, but this was more than the usual. It's a different kind of journey, so I am pleased there has been some engagement. Thanks for being one of those, and thank you for the thoughtful comment. Cheers... Gary.... :hug: 

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3 hours ago, Albert1434 said:

 This is a well written chapter with great Dialog. Well so Chase was trying to sabotage a good thing that he has with Hank or had. Because he also has the same illness that killed his mother and he is self destructive. I just love his sister not what I expected from chapter one. At least not how Chase had painted her.  Hank says he wants to be friends well I have  some hope that things could change only time will tell :yes: And I would like to learn more about Hank!

Great chapter:thankyou::kiss:

Thanks, Albert! I appreciate the kind words. Chase hasn't yet recovered from losing his mother to cancer, and now he's screwed everything up between him and Hank. Sabotaging things wasn't done on purpose, but don't we all do that at times... do things first and think later? Now both men have to figure out how to deal with going separate ways. We'll get more of both their stories in the next chapters... I wonder how trying to be friends will work out. Cindy is a good sister... but she lost her mother too, and Chase has been pushing her away. I think he realizes now just how unfair that was. Thanks again, buddy, for your constant support of my writing... cheers... Gary.... :hug: 

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3 hours ago, Brokenbind said:

I'm not at all sure I like either of them so far, but I hope to be persuaded!  And they are both grieving in their own ways.

 

Perfectly understandable, Brokenbind. We are not seeing either man in a good light, but that's the reality of it. They are flawed. :)  Good point that they are both grieving in different ways. Grief is an emotion that can suck the life out of us... whether it's for a loved one lost, or the death of a relationship. :(  I'll try my best to make the journey worthwhile. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, my friend... I appreciate the support. Cheers... Gary.... :hug: 

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52 minutes ago, spikey582 said:

I can't quite figure out what to make of these guys yet, or what I'm even hoping for in the future for either of them.  I do find myself reacting negatively to Hank, and yet, I don't think Hank is wrong to feel the way he does.  Objectively it still feels like his proposal was a catalyst, and it seems like he was trying to force something that wasn't just there yet.  He seems to have a bit of a controlling aspect that I can't get past.  There were a few instances of it bugging me this chapter.  Hank definitely deserves his space to try to process all that happened.  But it's incredibly apparent that he's jumped to several conclusions based on what he thinks happened.  He needs an explanation for why things went down as they did, but he refuses to actually hear any part of the explanation and bully forward deciding he knows what's best for Chase.  Sure he stayed and took care of Chase, and part of that seems to be that he loves Chase and wants to look out for him, and yet there's still some vindictiveness evident in the whole thing as well.  If he really wanted space and distance he could have let Cindy take care of her brother.  

Hank is not the "bad guy" by any means, and I don't dismiss his feelings of betrayal.  But as of right now, an ending for both of them seems to make the most sense.  But I very well could change my mind at any given moment.  I have more thoughts but I can't quite figure out how to express them just yet, and the way this story is going, I'll probably forget them and have a whole new set of things going on in my head by the next chapter.  

Hey, spikey! You are not alone in how you feel. Both men are enigmas at this point. I get why you think Hank could be controlling, but if he is, is that his fault... or does Chase share some responsibility? His proposal started this ending, but does that mean his motivations were not good ones? It did turn out to be too soon, though... so....

As someone who's been cheated on, I get Hank's reactions... or are they overreactions? I question his reluctance to listen to Chase, like you do. But again, how rational would I be in his situation? I can tell you... probably not very. So, in essence, we agree. What we need, is more information, and it's coming. :)  As far as staying and looking after Chase, it sounds like that has been his role for years. Maybe he decided to do it for one last time.... LOL to what you might think after the next chapter. If I did my job right, your head will be still screwed up, but in a different way. :P  Cheers, buddy, and thanks for sharing. You always make ME think. :hug: 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Geron Kees said:

Wow. Chase is his own worst enemy, it seems. I do sympathize with Hank, but he also is a little rigid in his attitude. He has a right to be angry, but Chase is obviously damaged goods, and you cannot expect someone not totally in control to always go the way you want. It looks like Hank doesn't want to forgive, but can't just walk away, either. He's been looking out for Chase too long just to make a clean break. And Chase doesn't want to lose Hank, but seems unable to produce the right tools to try to fix the mess he is in.

Complicated at the moment, and not enough info to make a judgment either way. Guess that means I need more chapters! :)

 

 

 

Yes... yes he is. And I think you sum the situation up as well as anyone has, making some very astute points.

This is one of the things about weekly posting that can be frustrating for a reader. The story or situation can begin to feel drawn out,  especially when we are so much in one character's head, whereas a book in hand gives you that flow... and a bigger picture sooner. I hope the readers will stick with me, despite that drawback. More chapters are coming, and the pace of the story will pick up... you're so right that it is hard right now, to make a judgement either way. Thanks for the support, Geron, and the great comment... much appreciated. Cheers... Gary.... :hug: 

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5 minutes ago, ColumbusGuy said:

Each chapter leaves me with more questions, which is a good thing for an author, but bad for us poor readers....

I just don't know where to stand on the characters right now; I've been where Chase is with losing his mom, and I've also been where Hank is by having relationships blow up in my face.  There is no black vs. white here, and that confuses our world view which presupposes things are either one way or another.  Arguments can be made that this is bound up in our bilateral symmetry--we have two eyes, two hands for manipulating our environment, so it's natural to see that in all things from science to morality.  What if we'd been a race of arachnids?  Six or eight sided problem solving?

The concept of survivor's guilt is a strong one, and if your mental state is already fragile, then the effects will be much worse.  I'd venture to say that Hank isn't taking this fully into account except intellectually, but his emotional side has recognized the need to help Chase at least in the short term.  Is there any hope for reconciliation?  Our Muse isn't telling....

Again, this chapter has brought back my own experiences with the loss of my mother and Kevin...for most this will be a vicarious ride through pain, regret and loss...for me, it's reliving the past.  At least now, after twelve years, it also brings back memories of what I had with those two important parts of my life.  

I'm with you, my dear...'lead on MacDuff!'

 

I just love your mind,buddy, but no spiders, please! Is it self-serving for me to say I don't want anyone sure of where they stand on the characters? I'm fine with readers taking sides too, though, because that's what happens in real life. And I like writing stories that engage us, and make readers think along with me. This is a different kind of story, and like you, it has caused me to relive some stuff. Even at the age I did, losing my mother was devastating... I didn't want to, but had to imagine what it would be like for someone in their early twenties. Like Chase, my mother and I had a special bond, and it was such a life-changing blow when I could no longer talk to her... only watch the cancer drain the life from her. Yeah, I don't talk about it, but I spiraled downward... to some pretty scary depths.

That old saying... when it rains it pours... is an apt one. In Chase's case, like yours and mine, a loss follows a loss. What about Hank, though? What has he endured? Is he this principled person that things bounce off of? Is he less sensitive than Chase? I ask these questions not to give hints, but to point out there is so much we don't yet know or understand. I wanted to take us on a journey after an ending occurs. They are all different for each of us... but I believe in the end, this one will prove realistic and worthwhile. That is my hope. And I must say I appreciate you understanding the potency of survivor's guilt. I have a friend who went through his own hell because he was left behind.

Thanks for sticking with me, CG... it does get easier, I promise... not easy... but easier. :heart:  :hug: 

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Chase watched his mother deteriorate, recover, degenerate, and then die, and was then abandoned by his grieving father; same with Cindy. Unlike his sister, he didn’t get to the root of his behavior until his guilt and depression conspired to destroy what little happiness he thought he had. (I said it once and I’ll say it again: depression is an insidious monster.)

Hank was a plus one — meaning one step removed as the boyfriend — but may actually have been affected more because of this. In addition to and perhaps despite his own feelings of loss, he had to watch his boyfriend’s family disintegrate. He was the strong one, either by nature, choice or necessity. He paved the way forward.

It wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to say they both suffer from survivor’s guilt and they both sabotaged their relationship without realizing it. Hank provided the fuse in the form of the proposal while Chase’s reaction was the match.

Even if they, as Hank masochistically suggested, try to stay friends, they need therapy, both individually and as a pair. Cindy’s got a good head on her shoulders — maybe she’ll suggest it down the road.

My dad had a quadruple bypass when I was six and a double bypass my freshman year of high school. He had a heart attack where we both worked in my early twenties and clinically died twice before being revived. That lead to another bypass, after which he made a full and healthy recovery. Four years later my mom found him dad when she came home from work.

I started out on Chase’s side and vilified Hank because my initial reaction has always to defend the person in the weaker position. The more comments folks leave, the more I realize that was wrong because I’ve been in both positions. On my own I was Chase — happily and recklessly distracted. For my mom, who suffered from survivor’s guilt and depression, I was Hank — compartmentalized, strong, and available. (For ColumbusGuy’s arachnid point of view: My aunt and I were Cindy for each other if gallows humor was Cindy’s defense mechanism. 😉)

Maybe you’d consider posting twice weekly to help us all figure this out, Gary? Pretty please? 🙏

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I love to delve into characters, whether in books I've read in the past, or my own. You do this very well. Like I said to someone else, when it rains it pours. And it hasn't just poured on Chase... and his family... it's now poured on Hank. You're so right that he lost Christine too. Yet, he couldn't fold up because Chase needed him. 

Yeah, therapy is underrated. Talking to expects can help us see the individual trees that make up a dense and dark forest. I'm not sure Hank is the type to utilize it, though, at this point... but who knows? Friendships are tricky after a breakup... I agree it can be masochistic at times. Maybe they can get there, but it is a minefield. That, I know all about. :( 

Thanks for sharing your personal story, buddy. It sounds like you were fortunate to have him as long as you did, but I also know it doesn't help to hear those kind of platitudes. 

I must admit I was both of these guys... at least in part... although I never made the mistake Chase did. Yet, I understand his need to run, as well as his need for distraction. When Darkness is coming for you, you have to keep moving. 

Twice weekly? Um... no... :P  Hang in there, Danners... all things come to those who wait.  ;)  Cheers, and thanks for this... G  :hug: 

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We can expect Chase and Cindy to be walking wounded and it seems Hank was wounded by more than the kiss in the club.  For what I said of his character before, there appears to be in him a distinct unease in dealing with emotionally messy situations, like there should be a certain timeframe that one should get themselves together, that of course, is unrealistic.  

Chase seems grateful that Hank was physically there but how much was he really emotionally?  I think Chase used Hank as a motivational benchmark for progress in the depths of depression when it first hit but it seems his views of Hank’s role in his recovery is skewered.

I was annoyed with Hank’s digs about he and Chase being broken up and Chase getting a new place while Chase was still sick but remembered that Hank was still angry and hurt, that was underscored with Hank’s tearful breakdown.  This chapter made clearer to me that Hank has issues of his own that need addressing.

Cindy’s bombastic attitude was off putting at first but that changed to respect when I saw that she was in therapy herself, I’m glad she offered to be there for her brother....we all think we should know our loved ones would be there for us but sometimes they aren’t, either by choice or ignorance of suffering-hearing it makes a big difference.

On a superficial side note, I have a great appreciation for the color green, though I tend to like the darker shades;  Olive isn’t so bad, lol.

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Headstall

Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, FanLit said:

We can expect Chase and Cindy to be walking wounded and it seems Hank was wounded by more than the kiss in the club.  For what I said of his character before, there appears to be in him a distinct unease in dealing with emotionally messy situations, like there should be a certain timeframe that one should get themselves together, that of course, is unrealistic.  

Chase seems grateful that Hank was physically there but how much was he really emotionally?  I think Chase used Hank as a motivational benchmark for progress in the depths of depression when it first hit but it seems his views of Hank’s role in his recovery is skewered.

I was annoyed with Hank’s digs about he and Chase being broken up and Chase getting a new place while Chase was still sick but remembered that Hank was still angry and hurt, that was underscored with Hank’s tearful breakdown.  This chapter made clearer to me that Hank has issues of his own that need addressing.

Cindy’s bombastic attitude was off putting at first but that changed to respect when I saw that she was in therapy herself, I’m glad she offered to be there for her brother....we all think we should know our loved ones would be there for us but sometimes they aren’t, either by choice or ignorance of suffering-hearing it makes a big difference.

On a superficial side note, I have a great appreciation for the color green, though I tend to like the darker shades;  Olive isn’t so bad, lol.

My favorite tee shirt is an olive green one that has MARINES written across the front. :) 

I like the 'walking wounded' term you use for Chase and Cindy. And, you know, being a support person for such an ordeal, when you care about the entire family, begs the question, is Hank another of the walking wounded? He went on the journey with Chase, and with how caring he appears to have been, there has to have been an impact. But, is it that simple?

I appreciate the balance you show in your evaluation of the man... there is more to learn, about Hank, and the situation itself. It would be simpler to dump all the info out there, but that's not how real life works. We take our shots and retreat, and only get to the deeper stuff when we're ready. :yes: . Part of me wants to apologize for the slow pace, and the 'in your head' aspect, but when I get inside a character or characters' heads, I take the path that feels real. It seems the approach has worked with the readers who want to engage, but that could change. :) I say this because, so far, this story has garnered the least interest of any I've written. That's not a complaint, because it has gotten considerable support... it's just an observation that backs up the expectations I had. See how you get me to open up about stuff? :P 

I find Cindy compelling. She's a big sister, and it shows. She pulls no punches when she challenges Chase, but she also listens and we can feel her need to help. And her brother definitely needs her 'no BS' attitude. 

Thanks for tackling this one, and supporting a different sort of story... it is truly appreciated. :hug:  

Edited by Headstall
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Very emotionally complex. It seems Hank has been Chase’s rock, his anchor for a long time, especially since Chase has shut out his father and sister. After Chase’s mother was gone Hank saw an opportunity to move forward, only to be sucker punched twice in a very few minutes. Meanwhile he’s probably not even aware that there’s a good chance he’s got some survivors guilt to deal with himself. 

Yes, Hank is being a sanctimonious PITA. So ... ?  Someone I knew used to say “People generally do the best they can. Sometimes it’s not all that good. But it’s the best they can manage at that point in time .” I think all these people are doing just that.

Good job On the characters. Very believable. I’m hooked. 

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