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Holy shit, all that happened in the first few months after I met Marcus? Enough fucking memory lane for right now, this didn't help me figure out why Marcus hung up on me tonight. I needed an answer. Maybe a call to Scott could help fill in the blanks. I really didn't want to call him, but I needed to know.
I had just broken up with David. I suppose he was just a rebound, but I still needed to talk to Marcus. Finally, I gave up stewing and reluctantly decided to give Scott a call. If anyone might know what's wrong with Marcus, it would be Scott.
He answered on the third ring, "Hello?"
"Scott, its Tony. I really need to talk to you." I was getting more upset by the minute.
"Tony? What do you want?"
"It's Marcus. Do you know if something is wrong with him? Has something happened I don't know about? He just told me he couldn't talk tonight and hung up. I don't understand. He's never done that before."
"Seriously, Tony? God, you are so clueless."
"What do you mean? Did I do something?" I was trying to think back over the last couple of days but was completely drawing a blank.
"After three years, how could you still be so blind and self centered? I don't think I'm the one to help you out tonight. If you haven't figured it out by now, even getting smacked upside the head with a 2x4 won't help."
"Quit it Scott, and tell me what the fuck is going on. Here's your chance to prove how stupid and selfish I am. I need to know. I really need to talk to him and he shut me down."
"Are you sure you want to know? Because once it's out there, you can't go back to your blissful ignorance. You need to be completely sure you want to hear this. You will need to make a huge decision after you find out. You may not have the balls to do what you should."
"Enough! Just fucking tell me."
"Ok, this is going to take a few minutes, so shut up and listen.
"That first night, you were the luckiest person ... if you had run into anyone else; it could have been any asshole in the whole bar. Do you realize how fate kissed you that night? Marcus is the most selfless and giving person I have ever met. You can't know how many times I've kicked myself about how I screwed up my chance with him. But you can't go back...
"Anyway, you ran into the one person in that bar that would change your life for the better. You were this lost little boy whose whole life had shattered, or so you thought. But do you remember everything he did for you that weekend?"
"Of course I remember that weekend, he was incredible. I know how lucky I was. How lucky I am. But what does this have to do with Marcus hanging up on me tonight?" Scott was seriously grating on my nerves even more than usual.
"Tony, just give me a chance. Let's start simple... how many guys would you say you've gone through in the last three years? Just ball park it.
"I don't know a few. Maybe eight or so..."
"Maybe? Ok I'll let you have eight. In that same time how many has Marcus dated? Here you have this bright, attractive, and successful man... How many?
"I think just Jon and that only lasted a couple of weeks. But..."
"And why did it end? And think about it, just the one..."
"I don't why it ended, I know Jon and Marcus were talking about feelings for someone and not telling that person and I wasn't really paying attention. And still I don't know where you are going with this."
"Ok let me try another tactic. Honestly, I hate to bring this up but I know you remember Derek Kingston."
Not this. He really wasn't going to make me remember this. Not Derek Kingston...
It happened about four months after Brian and I broke up. After a few hours of school work, I needed a break. It was a Thursday night during a brutal week. I couldn't focus any more. I needed to blow off some steam. The walls of my efficiency were closing in.
I called Marcus and asked if he wanted to go out dancing. He begged off, he had to take over one of his dad's cases and had a ton of reading. I actually thought about calling Brian, but didn't want to give him the wrong idea. So I went to Noah's, my favorite gay club, alone.
The bar seemed a little off kilter to me that night. I went straight to the dance floor and tried to let go. It was abnormally quiet for a Thursday, but at least I wasn't the only one out on the floor. Eventually, it was just me and the music. All I cared about was the music. I could get so lost in the movement and the songs. It was a great stress relief.
I don't know how long I danced before I needed a drink. I made my way to the bar and ordered a soda. A moment later, the bartender returned with a beer. "There's been a mistake, I only ordered a soda." "The guy at the end of the bar sent this to you."
"Thanks, but I still want the soda."
I tried to be nice about refusing the beer. I walked down to the end of the bar and paused. I hadn't felt short since my growth spurt in seventh grade, but this man was huge. He stood about 6'7" and had to weigh close to three hundred and fifty pounds. He had a beer gut and a beard; he was so not my type.
"Thank you so much for the beer, but I'm just taking a break from studying. I need to be able to concentrate later so I'm just drinking soda tonight. I appreciate the gesture, it was very nice of you." I stuck my hand out to shake his, but he just nodded.
I shrugged my shoulders and went back to dancing. After a couple more hours I had enough, I walked to my car to head home. As I got into the car, I noticed another car leaving right behind me. Honestly, I didn't even think twice about it.
It was still relatively early, so I gave Marcus a call. His phone started to ring, as I unlocked my apartment door. As I walked in, I moved the phone from one ear to the other.
Next thing I knew I was slammed from behind. My phone flew out of my hands and I landed face down on my bed. I tried to get up, but I couldn't move. I was pinned down by a tremendous weight. I couldn't move at all.
Suddenly my hands were pinned to my sides.
"You thought you could fucking tease me all night dancing right in front of me, didn't you? Then you didn't have the courtesy to drink the fucking beer I bought for you. Well you pretty boys are all alike. Tonight I guess I'll just have to take what I fucking want." He shouted in my ear as he kicked the door closed.
I went blank. What was he talking about? What goddamned beer?
Fuck... It was the guy from the bar; he must have followed me home. I felt fear. Absolute terror, he had me completely trapped underneath him.
What was I going to do? Jesus, what the hell could I do? I tried to struggle, but I was trapped.
"Ok, boy, I'm going to fucking turn you over. Don't do anything stupid or I will hurt you." He wrenched my arms behind my back and flipped me over like I was a rag doll. My shoulder felt like it had been ripped out of the socket. My arms were trapped underneath me now. He kicked my feet apart and settled himself back on top. He moved his legs between mine.
I looked at his face. His eyes were dark and cold. His nose had been broken and a jagged scar ran down his left cheek. That face would haunt my nightmares for a long time.
He put his mouth over mine and tried to force my lips apart with his tongue. He tasted of cigarettes and stale beer, I wanted to retch right there. My stomach lurched and he slapped me across the face. His ring broke open my cheek.
"I warned you I'd hurt you. I make you want to puke when I kiss you, huh. You'd better control that fucking impulse or I really will hurt you."
"Please I didn't do anything. I don't know what you want from me."
Smack. This time the blow landed harder, I saw stars. My only remaining thought was he's going to kill me.
My arms were falling asleep trapped beneath me, his weight forcing us both into the mattress. He used his knees to spread my legs even further. He was grinding his crotch into mine. My stomach flipped again. God please make this stop.
He started rubbing my crotch with his hand. "You'd better fucking get hard or I will hurt you again."
He continued to fondle me, and started to unzip my pants. He still had most of his weight on me so he was fumbling badly. Somehow he managed to get both our jeans opened; now it was just my underwear between us. His erection was still grinding against me. I didn't know how long he kept rubbing. I just squeezed my eyes shut, hoping he would finish before it went any further.
"Open your fucking eyes. I told you to get hard." He cocked his fist, smashing into my head just above my ear. I blacked out.
When I woke up, I couldn't seem to focus. Everything was completely out of whack. I heard voices coming from the hallway. Then crash, the door was kicked in and there were hands everywhere. I felt the huge weight lifted off me, but I still couldn't move. My arms and shoulders screamed in pain, as the blood flow returned to normal. I tried to roll away from the hands, but they held me still.
"It's the police, stay still. We are here to help. It's over. Try not to move. Where are you hurt?" Voices everywhere.
My brain must be misfiring. How could the police be here? No one could have called them...
I felt a cold swab against my cheek, and more voices.
"He looks like he has a laceration on his cheek and a contusion behind his ear. I think he'll end up with a black eye, but the rest of the injuries are superficial. He needs to get X-rays just to be sure there are no cracked ribs or broken bones. I'm not sure about the shoulder either."
Was it me they were talking about? I still didn't know what was going on. I couldn't seem to concentrate at all. My arms were a million nerves on fire. I went to close up my pants and I couldn't make them move.
The next thing I felt were arms around me and a familiar voice. "Tony, its Marcus. You're safe now. It's over. I'm here, just relax."
"Oh God, Marcus, how did you? Who called?" My head wouldn't stop spinning. I burst into tears.
"It's ok. It's all over. I heard what was going on over the phone. I answered your call just as he started yelling at you. I called the police from my office phone and got here as fast as I could."
"We need to take Mr. Wallace to the hospital, and then the police will need a statement."
"No, Marcus. I can't..."
"It's ok. I'll stay with you. We need to get you checked out and make sure nothing is broken."
"Don't let them call my parents. Please, My Mom's heart. Please Marcus!"
They loaded me on the stretcher. I couldn't stop crying, I was so ashamed I let this happen. I felt like crawling into a hole. I tried to cover my face but my arms still wouldn't move.
"That shoulder may be dislocated. Try not to move. Just lie still until we can get you to the hospital." A male voice insisted in my ear. "We are going to give you a little something for the pain. Please try to relax."
I must have gone unconscious; the next thing I remember I was on a cold table.
"Please stay still, just one more X-ray and you'll be done." Another voice I didn't know.
I was wheeled to a curtained off area. It must be the ER. I tried to open my eyes but they wouldn't focus.
"Relax, Tony. I'm here. The doctor should be in to see you in a few minutes." Marcus whispered in my ear. He grabbed my hand and squeezed. I don't know how long we waited, I couldn't process time passing.
"I'm his lawyer, Doctor Jameson. You need to fill me in on his condition, please. I'll need to let the police know the extent of the injuries, so they know the charges to file against the asshole who did this."
"I can't do that without written consent from the patient."
"I've got a form here. Tony, just put an X on this line." I barely could move my arm.
"Ok. He has a concussion. The laceration on his cheek and a contusion behind his right ear are fairly minor. The shoulder was extended but not dislocated. No broken bones. He's going to have some nasty headaches. I will prescribe some pain meds. He is going to need complete bed rest for a couple of days, but the recovery should progress quickly from his physical injuries. I would recommend help for his probable emotional trauma, that's not something I can prescribe meds for... I need to keep him overnight because of the concussion."
"I understand Doctor Jameson. Thank you."
"Marcus, I want to get out of here. Please." I pleaded.
"Is there any chance you could discharge Tony?"
"No, he should stay at least overnight." The doctor firmly replied.
"I highly recommend against it, you can sign him out against medical advice. Under the circumstances, I understand. It's not a good idea, but I understand. He should be seen by his primary care physician on Monday without fail."
"Thank you, Doctor. I'll see that it happens."
My head was pounding like a freight train. My right arm still didn't want to move. I couldn't seem to focus with my eyes. I just wanted this to be a bad nightmare and to wake up in my bed.
Marcus whispered, "C'mon Tony. I'm taking you back to my place. Get into the wheelchair and we can get you out of here. It's all over."
I have no memory of getting to Marcus's place or most of the rest of that night.
"Why, Scott? Why did you need to go there? Of all places, why fucking there?" I screamed in tears.
"Tony, I'm sorry. But that was when I truly knew what was going on with Marcus. He never left your side. He stayed with you for two days in bed. If you stirred he tried to comfort you, he wouldn't let anyone take him away from you. Finally Danni and I convinced him to let her help you. You know he blamed himself for the longest time. He kept saying, 'If I had just gone with him.' I've never seen him like that before, and he never let you see any of it.
"He is completely in love with you, and he has never let you know.
"So here it is Tony. Marcus has been in love with you for the longest time, maybe even since that first weekend. He has always been there whenever you needed. He has listened, hugged, laughed, and cried. You are the reason Jon and Marcus broke it off. Jon figured out Marcus's feelings for you. It was you they were talking about.
"Tonight when you called to whine about your latest break up, I guess it was just too much. He might have made a go of it with Jon, but there is no chance now. He just couldn't take anymore.
"Now that you know, you need to make a decision. If you could reciprocate those feelings, you need to let him know. If you can't you need to let him go. And when I say let him go, I mean get the hell out of his life.
"He needs the chance to move on. It's the only way."
I was stunned. Was I really that blind; that selfish? I couldn't believe it. But Scott was right, Marcus was always there. Especially that weekend...
I saw that face again and tried to escape, flailing and kicking...but Marcus soothed me. "It's just a nightmare. You are safe. I've got you. Shhh, it's over." He had me wrapped in his arms.
I woke up to sunlight streaming into the room. My head was splitting open. I couldn't focus. I felt arms squeeze me. "Tony, just relax. I'll be right back with meds for you and some juice."
I tried to open my eyes. I could barely move the lid on my left. My right eye was swollen shut and I just couldn't focus. The light felt like a knife slicing through my brain. I gave up and just curled up. I started to cry, but even that hurt. How did I let this happen? Why couldn't I stop him?
I felt Marcus's hand rubbing my back, "Tony, I need you to take these meds and drink a little juice. I know your head is pounding, this will help. Please keep your eyes closed, and just hold out your hand. Here are the pills, now take a sip of the juice and swallow for me. I promise this will help. Ok, drink a little more juice and put your head down. I'm right here."
I squeezed his hand. I whispered, "Thank you. I can't believe you..."
"Quiet, you need to relax. We can talk when you feel better. I'm not going anywhere. Try to get some more sleep."
I could feel the meds start to work. I remember trying to open my eyes again and still seeing some light. The next time I tried, it was darker. I jerked suddenly, someone was holding me.
"It's ok. I'm here. Relax. Take deep breaths. Get your bearings. I need to get some food in your stomach now that you are awake again. Lie still for a few minutes and then see if you can sit up. Just go slow. That's it. Slowly, I'll be right back." Marcus let go of me as he got up from the bed.
The curtains were drawn; I could make out faint light around the edges. It was still day time. I tried to move my shoulder. It was painful and stiff but I had some control even with the sling. I used my other hand to feel my face. My eye was still swollen shut and I could feel a bandage on my cheek.
It was real, not a nightmare. I felt dirty and broken. I just wanted to crawl out of my skin. I tried to get out of bed and my head exploded. I was going to be sick. I lay back down and the world stopped spinning. Tears started to flow and I couldn't stop them.
"Tony, let it out." Marcus stroked my head as he held on to me. "Let it go."
No matter how hard I tried I couldn't stop. I was sobbing and shaking. It felt like hours later, I had nothing left. Marcus never left my side, holding tightly and trying to calm me.
"Don't try to talk yet. I want you to try and eat a little bit. The police detective will be here in about thirty minutes. I know it's going to be difficult, but you will have to answer his questions. Get something into your stomach; you're going to need your strength. Don't talk right now, we will talk later. I need you to be strong for a little while, I promise it will be over before you know it, and I'll be here for the whole thing." Marcus's voice calmed me slightly.
Grueling, exhausting and emotionally crippling, the detective questioned me for over an hour. He apologized when he was through. "I'm sorry to put you through this. I need to get as many details as possible, so we can put this monster away for good this time."
"What do you mean for good this time, Detective Matthews?" Marcus jumped in.
"Derek Kingston is a level 3 sex offender. He was released from prison three days ago, and missed all his check-ins two days ago. He basically disappeared off the grid. He has been locked up for parole violations, and after this incident he won't set foot outside prison walls for the rest of his life. Thank you, gentlemen, I applaud you, Mr. Wallace, for the strength you have shown here. I wish you a speedy recovery from your injuries. If I can be of any service, please don't hesitate to call me. Here is my card."
Marcus escorted the detective out; I slumped back on the bed and the tears I'd been holding back began to flow. I was exhausted, the pain in my shoulder was almost unbearable, and my head was throbbing. Again all I wanted was a hole to crawl into.
"Tony, you were incredible. You need to take more pain medicine and relax."
"Shhh, not now, you've just been put through hell again. You need to take a break and rest for a little while."
I had no strength left to argue. I took the pills and closed my eyes. My mind shut down for a while.
A brutal face appeared hovering over me. I felt pressed down again. I needed to get away. Struggling against the weight, I tried to push away from the face. I couldn't move my arms, panic started to take over.
"Tony, you're safe. It's just a dream. Relax. I'm here, you're safe," Marcus, again soothing me.
The face drifted away. I slept. When I woke, Marcus was sleeping, lying fully clothed next to me. He had me engulfed in his arms. I wasn't sure the time or the day. I needed to pee. I tried to move without disturbing Marcus, but he held tight.
"Marcus, I'm awake. I need to pee badly. You can let go."
"Ok, Tony, just move slowly. I'm here if you need help."
"I think I can do this Marcus. Just don't go far."
I managed to take care of my needs and got back into bed. Just that short walk had my head pounding and my stomach doing flips. I closed my eyes and tried to think. It must be Saturday, I had no idea how much time had passed since...
The pain was bearable. I needed to eat, but the thought of food was nauseating. Trying to take stock of my injuries again, I gingerly felt my face. My eye was still swollen and very tender, and there was a butterfly bandage on my cheek. Behind my ear was a painful bump, the right shoulder was in a sling pinned to my shirt, and the freight train had slowed in my head.
But I felt dirty, I could still feel his hands on me and his smell...
"Marcus, I think I need to eat something. I'm just really afraid it won't stay down. And I need a shower badly."
"What do you want? I can make you whatever sounds good. Right now it's just before ten in the morning on Saturday. Do you want French toast, soup and sandwich, some pasta? What can I get you?"
"French toast is good, but I want to sit at the table."
"No problem, just take it easy."
We ate quietly and slowly. I felt slightly better.
"Tony, I have someone bringing a shower chair so you can get showered. I don't think you should try standing alone. There are some fresh clothes on the way, too. Just relax for a few minutes. Do you need any pain medicine right now?"
"No, maybe after the shower I might. I want to wait."
I couldn't find words. I just sat quietly, and Marcus seemed to sense I needed to collect myself.
A knock on the door and the quiet was broken. In walked Danni, just about the last person I expected to see. He was carrying the shower chair and a bag with clothes.
Marcus got up from the table and gave him a hug. Danni was in a very subdued outfit. He walked over and gently rubbed my back.
Marcus looked guilty as he started speaking. "Tony, I need to run into the office for a few minutes. I have my phone, if you need anything just call. Danni is going to hang around until I get back. After your shower if you need meds, take them. You can be tough tomorrow, doctor's orders. I promise I'll be back as quick as possible."
He hugged me. I thought I saw a tear. "I'll be back as fast as I can. Danni will be here, trust me," as he grabbed his keys and left.
I looked at Danni and he took a deep breath.
"Truth time, I asked Marcus to leave us alone for a little while. We need to talk."
I sat there with a stunned look. "What do you mean?"
"Tony, I know how you feel. I know.
"Three years ago I was walking home from Noah's. I lived just a few blocks away; I'd walked home dozens of times before..."
Danni told me his story. We cried together. He listened and I listened. He helped me shower. He understood my need to wash the same place over and over, of not getting clean. He held me as I cried. He talked me through destroying the clothes I wore on Thursday night. He warned me about the nightmares continuing and then told me how he learned to keep them at bay. His greatest gift was helping me start to see, it wasn't my fault and I needed to stop blaming myself. He gave me his number and insisted I call whenever I needed to talk.
"Danni, I don't know how to thank you. I hate that this happened to you too. You have given me such a gift today. I will never forget." I hugged him, trying to show him how grateful I was.
Finally, I was exhausted. I needed take some pain medicine and sleep for a little while.
"Please stay for a while. I just need to take a nap. Please don't go."
"I'll still be here when you wake up." Danni reassured me.
Scott brought me back to the present, "Tony, I have one last thing to say. Whatever you decide to do, you need to do it tonight. By morning Marcus will have recovered and you won't even be able to see the hurt. Don't think, feel. The answer is in your heart not your head. Tony, just search your heart."
I hung up the phone. I don't know how long I sat there on the edge of the bed. Finally, I decided I needed to see Marcus. I didn't know what would happen when I did, but the time was now.
Authors note: This was a difficult and deeply personal chapter for me, although not because I experienced this kind of assault. M/M sexual assault remains an under-reported crime. Tony was fortunate in that both the ER doctor and the police detective were sympathetic, that is not always the case. Also remember that two years have passed between the assault and Scott having Tony recall it. During that time, Tony received counseling. As a writer, I have chosen not to depict those sessions. Danni's sharing of his own attack helped both men, but Tony would still have gone to counseling as a result of his attack. Thank you for continuing Tony's journey with me.
Finally, a huge thank you to Fitz Padraig for his notes on this chapter. His ideas were invaluable.