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It was close to sunrise. Clark slept peacefully in Whitney’s arms in the barn.
Whitney was back on the cross.
Nigel and his bloody mouth.. Whit could have chuckled, if only he weren’t so.. so numb. Then the knife was coming down at him. In slow motion. The metal flashing amid the darkest night of his life.
This should be it. God please let it be it.
The knife came down towards his throat. But never landed.
Whit could hear his screams echoing in the background. Was he still screaming?
“Clark! Clark! SIR ITS CLARK SIR!”
Clark grabbed the knife wielding arm and snatched the knife away.
Was he going to stab him instead? Guess not….
And Nigel was flying through the air.. landed on his ass. Ooh that must have hurt..
Clark.. beautiful Clark.. in slow motion.
The screams, who is screaming? Who the HELL is screaming?
“God no Whitney!”
Yeah, poor Whitney.. poor naked tied to a piece of wood Whitney.. poor pathetic loser Whitney.. poor Whitney …
“CLARK SIR !! CLARK CLARK CLARK!!”
And the loud pops. Whooshing .. popping sounds.. not good. Silencers … shoot to kill..
BANG BANG!! Now that’s music.
The pain, the cold, the …Clark thing… standing so close… too close… poor Whitney poor Whitney… and more screams yet.. reverberating from all directions. “Clark sir its Clark!! No its Whitney. NO ITS CLARK! WHITNEY SIR ITS WHITNEY! CLARK CLARK CLARK!!!!”
“Whitney.. baby c'mon.. its okay”
Clark was shaking him frantically now. Whit was mumbling nonsense, sweating and unable to wake himself from the nightmare he was caught in. Clark located a pale of water and sprinkled some of it on Whitney's contorted face.
“Whit wake up!”
Whitney finally broke through. He struggled to get his bearings and with great perseverance managed to slightly open his eyes. The first thing he saw was Clark grabbing him into a choking hug.
“Uhhh C-Clar… cant breathe!”
Clark immediately let go. “I’m sorry.. I just.. damn you Fordman”
And gathered the boy to himself again. Gently this time, but firm enough to not let him leave if he tried.
Whit succeeded in smiling through the haze. He took in his surroundings and the warm body holding him and the greatest wave of relief washed over him. Clark had dressed but Whitney was still naked under the blanket. His head resting on Clark’s chest still hurt though and so did his throat as if.. he’d actually been screaming.. ?
“Was I.. did I wake you?”
“You scared me asshole”
“You ought to be. Here I was, watching you sleep and fantasizing what I would do to you when you woke up to me.. instead you start thrashing like crazy and… ”
“..well.. you.. you were screaming for me this time..”
Clark gently pulled at Whit’s soft hair to make him unbury his face from his chest and look up at him.
“what was it Whit?”
Whitney was still flushed and breathless with the experience. “It was.. a umm.. nightmare?”
Clark scowled at him and kissed him before continuing. “What did you see?”
Whitney didn’t want to recall any of it, but he did it for Clark. He sighed deeply.
“Usual… I was… on the cross.. and .. Nigel was there..”
Clark kissed his closed eyelids, feeling the trembling that never really subsided.
“you were there too..”
Clark continued to soothe his back.
Whit forced his eyes open to look up at his savior. “you know what was different this time?”
“I… I don’t think I was afraid this time.. maybe less afraid.. it was like.. I knew you were there and .. I felt numb.. not even the pain. Really. I.. I was just being all loony that’s all.”
Clark looked at him intently.
“I think its getting easier..” When he said it, Whit meant it. It hadn’t been so bad this time.
“That’s good to know”
And Clark kissed him full on his lips. Whit kissed him back, feeling a lot lighter at heart than he had in the past few days.
“Come on we gotta get back home before our folks realize we’re missing.”
Clark brought Whitney his clothes and helped him dress. They finally gathered their stuff and made to move…
“He shot at you didn’t he?”
Clark stilled. For a second, he didn’t turn around to face Whitney. But then he did with a plastic smile in place.
“What makes you think that?”
The second’s pause had raised doubts in Whitney’s mind.
“I remember now. He pulled out a gun on you and he unloaded like an entire clip at you!”
“Where did the bullets go?”
“I think you’re hallucinating Whitney.”
“It.. it didn’t feel that way.”
“It was a dream Whit.” Clark came towards Whitney, but on sudden reflex, the latter started back.
“Clark.. I am pretty sure that’s what happened.”
Clark bit his lip.
“Are you telling me that’s not what happened?”
“I think you’ve had a bad dream and its causing the delirium to come back. You were like this when I first found you Whit. I.. I guess we should get you checked out by Lex’s shrink as well.”
“What?” Whitney was angry now. He couldn’t be so wrong! Could he?
“oh so now I’m crazy.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“I saw what I saw. That sick bastard shot you multiple times and ..”
“And what Fordman?” Clark was angry too.
//Shit. Shit. Shit//
“If I had been shot multiple times like you say, should I not be close to dead or somethin'? Would I be standing here with you? You’ve seen all of me.. do you see any bullet holes on me that I don’t? Maybe on my back where I cant reach huh?”
Okay so freshman had a point. But.. Whitney was so confused. He didn’t know why he saw what he saw… maybe he was hallucinating after all. He turned away from Clark, shoulders sagged in surrender, and struggled to regain composure.
“I.. I guess you’re right. I must have been hallucinating.”
Clark wanted to die. He just wanted to cry and then die.
He went to the boy and placed his hands tentatively on the shoulders. When the boy didn’t move away, he pulled him close and got him to lean back on him. Whit let him.
“I was.. it just.. felt so real.”
Clark brought his arms around the heaving chest.
“shhh… let it go Whitney. Just let go.”
“I wish I could.”
Clark knew he’d crossed the line now. Up until now he was just not speaking the truth to Whitney about that night. But now he was blatantly lying. Clark was breaking up inside. It hurt him physically to know that he wasn’t being truthful to any of his loved ones right now. And Whitney? Oh God. He’d practically told Whit that he was going crazy and needed psychiatric help! The confusion on Whit’s still marred face was too much to bear. Too much.
Whitney could feel Clark trembling around him. Naïve and so in love that he was, he blamed himself and his stupid hallucinations for having caused yet another argument between them. If he continued like this, he would soon push Clark away. He couldn’t let that happen. God no.
The boys supported each other for a long long time, each lost in their own murky depths of guilt and fear of losing the other.
“Clark I’m sorry”
“Shhhh Whit you don’t have to be. Please…”
“You’re not angry with me are you?”
“Jeez no Whit not at all!” Clark rocked him and kissed him with such desperation it only served to scare Whit more. But Clark didn’t let him say anything else.
“I’m just so happy to have you safe and alive. And here! With me! Do you know how grateful I am for that? I don’t know and I don’t care what happened that night and unless you wanna talk about it, I’m never gonna bring it up again okay?”
“But..” Whit began but stopped when he saw Clark was visibly disturbed. Swallowing the questions down, he nodded hoping this was the response Clark was looking for. He was right.
Clark was relieved and pulled him into his embrace again.
‘I love you. I love you so much!”
Whitney returned the embrace, holding and comforting Clark with all his might. But his questions remained unanswered, threatening to ruin the precious moment of peace between him and his love.
//Why did Nigel shoot himself? Why? He had a gun in his hands, he shot not me, not you, himself?//
//Why Clark? Why wont you tell me? What are you hiding?//
Whitney closed his eyes, suddenly exhausted. And he saw Nigel’s bloody arm dangling in Clark’s hand.
Clark walked Whit to his place first and then sped to get to his loft. Jumped into the shower, and cried…
until all the water was gone.
Whit reached home, still agonized, but too exhausted to think about it. He just wanted to fall into his bed and sleep for a month. When he reached his place, he saw the main door swinging. He hadn’t used the door, why was it open? Quietly he went in, knowing his mom must have left it open for him, which meant she knew he wasn’t in his room. Shit. He cursed himself as he walked in toward the living room. He sure had a lot of explaining to….
Someone grabbed him from behind and pushed him into the closest wall. One arm pressed into the back of his neck and the other wielding a gun, pointed right in his face. Whit was taken by surprise but soon as he realized what was happening, his survival instincts mixed with military training kicked in. He was about to react but when he did, it wasn’t to the assailant behind him, it was to the sight in front of his eyes.
His mom, still dressed in her night gown, was sitting on the couch, very quietly, her hands folded in her lap, shivering, staring at him, her eyes brimming with tears. She was scared.
And behind her, stood a man in black, his face covered in a black mask and only his eyes were visible, with a blade in his hands, placed at her neck.
And his mother whispered very very softly, “Whitney”
“What do you want?”
The guy behind him hissed into his ear. “Whitney Fordman. You just wont go away will you”
Danny Donner. Whitney could never forget that voice. He was filled with such intense rage but could do nothing for fear of his mom’s life.
“What do you want Donner” He repeated the question, his voice nothing more than a hoarse whisper.
“Only that you keep your mouth shut Fordman. Here’s the deal, me and my friends walk away from all this shit and you and your family gets to live. We had nothing to do with Nigel Mahaney you got that? We don’t even know him. Tell me you got that.”
“I got that.”
“Good. And if I get to know you’ve been breaking promises Whitboy…”
The guy nodded his head toward his partner. The man lowered the blade and slashed a blood line just above Betty’s right breast .. Betty gasped in pain.
“No! No! Stop it! I wont say a word I promise!”
Whitney was screaming and struggling but he couldn’t move, not because the guy behind him had a solid hold on him, but because if he did, the blade on his mother would move too.
“Easy Whitboy! We’re leaving now. Don’t you dare try any tricks.”
Craning the gun at him, Donner moved slightly away while the other guy ran toward the door fast as he could. Whit turned towards them, his face a mask of extreme hatred and uncontrollable rage.
The two guys ran out, got into a car and sped away. Whitney rushed to his mother who was beginning to weep and took her in his arms and kissed her with his tears and his desperation.
“Mom I’m sorry.. this is my fault”
He looked at the gash on her breast that she was trying to press away to nothingness but not succeeding.
“We gotta get you to a doctor”
He stood up to get her robe while Betty looked at him.
“Who were those people Whitney?”
Inside, he was breaking into a million pieces but he continued to run around getting her robe and the truck keys and the house keys. He was trembling violently, his nightmare had just exploded and engulfed his mom along with him into it. He was crying and angry and feeling utterly helpless, almost as if he were back on the cross again. But worse. Much more worse.
“Whitney please talk to me!”
He didn’t know what to tell her. So he didn’t.
“Whitney please… Whitney??”
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