He rolled onto his side and rubbed his face against the pillow wiping away the tears that just kept slowly leaking from his eyes.
A chair scraped on the floor behind him and a gentle hand rested tenderly on his back.
Josh never spoke but the touch of Justin's hand was all he needed for his eyes to close and to sleep with out the fear of the dark.
“I can’t believe it was Lance,” Joey said as he pulled the photos of the long dead girls from the board. “We worked with him. Hell I even drank with him most nights! How the hell did I not know it was him?”
“As Lance said, the killer was intelligent; and he was wasn’t he? Feeding us all the bullshit about what we should be looking for. Planting the thought in my head that Josh was a murderer.” Justin slammed his fist onto the nearest desk. “He can’t sleep you know. He wakes up screaming that the rats are going to get him. It takes hours for him to calm down again.”
“Do you want me to arrange some counselling for him?” Joey asked concerned.
Justin shook his head. “No I’ve already arranged something. We have an appointment in the morning.”
“Did you see the stuff we took from Lance’s apartment?” Joey asked.
Again Justin shook his head no.
“You should go and take a look. He had hundreds of pictures of you and diaries reaching back to his early teens. They make some horrifying reading.”
“How do you mean?” Justin asked suddenly interested. He had wondered what it was that sent a man like Lance over the edge and drive him to murder.
“You should read them,” Joey persisted. “And Josh probably should too then maybe then you will both find it in your hearts to forgive him.”
Justin laughed. “Forgive him! Are you crazy? He tortured Josh, if I hadn’t found him when I did he could have been horribly disfigured or worse killed,” he said in a harsh voice.
“You don’t have to tell me Justin. I was there remember. I was the one that had to shoot him to stop him from killing you.” Joey sighed. “Look Justin just take the diary, read it. I’m asking you as a friend.”
“Okay,” grimaced with distaste.
Joey opened his drawer and took out an old ragged school book and held it out to Justin. The younger police officer took it and huffed.
“For our friendship Joe but I swear if this upsets Josh then you will be looking for a new partner.
Joe slumped down in his chair and slouched back. “Deal,” he agreed.
Britney was in the coffee shop alone when Justin arrived. “Where is Josh?” he asked frowning.
Britney inclined her head towards the back room. “He hasn’t come down all day. I called up to him and he just told me if I couldn’t cope I should close up and go home.”
“Didn’t Honey come in?”
“He fired her,” Britney’s voice dropped to a confiding whisper. “I don’t think he is coping as well as he seems to be.”
Justin nodded understandingly. “I think you’re right Brit. “I arranged for him to see a counsellor.”
Britney nodded in agreement. “I think it will be for the best although I’m not sure he will see it that way. He believes in keeping his dirty washing private.”
“I think we all do to a degree but I think this time it needs to be aired.” Justin touched Britney’s hand gently. “You are a good friend to him Brit but you done your bit now go home. I’ll close up behind you.”
“But it’s not 8 yet?” the petite blond protested.
Justin kissed her and gently pushed her in the direction of the door, snagging her coat and draping it over her arm at the same time.
“I get it,” she said with a bitter undertone. “I’m a good friend but I’m not good enough for this.”
“You got it in one,” Justin replied suavely then smiled. “I’ll call you later; let you know how he is doing.”
“You better,” Britney snorted caustically.
Justin locked the door and went upstairs. Josh was curled up on an easy chair staring out of the window blankly. Justin watched him for a while; his arms were wrapped in stark white bandages. Bandages he knew also wrapped his torso and upper right thigh.
Josh looked away from the window and for a second seemed startled that Justin was there. Then he relaxed and gave a tentative smile.
“I didn’t hear you come in,” he said. His tone showed the immense sadness that he was feeling.
Justin moved across the room to him and squeezed into the chair next to him, pulling him up onto his lap to give himself space. Josh rested his head against his boyfriend’s shoulder and rested there in silence. Five minutes passed and Josh hadn’t spoken. Justin crooked his neck to try to look at his lover’s face and saw that the reed thin man had fallen asleep in his arms. Contented just to hold him, Justin sat as still as he could, sinking into the steady rhythm of Josh’s breathing, knowing that he needed the sleep and not begrudging him his much needed rest.
A small whimpering aroused Justin and he blinked away the remnants of his own catnap and stroked Josh’s hair tenderly until he too woke up. Josh blinked rapidly and tensed up not quite knowing where he was. He relaxed at Justin's dulcet tones soothing him back into the real world.
“Bad dreams again?” Justin asked concerned.
“Nothing I can’t handle, not when you are with me anyway.”
Justin shifted Josh’s weight on his lap and put his arms around his waist. “Baby I want you to talk to someone.”
“No,” Josh shook his head adamantly.
“Baby there is no shame in getting help. If Lance had been given the help he needed he wouldn’t be dead now and you wouldn’t be suffering with night terrors.”
Josh pulled away from his lover. “Are you saying that I’m insane?”
Justin gripped Josh’s hand to stop him from running off. “Of course I’m not. I’m asking you to speak about what you have been through with someone that can help you deal with it. I’m not qualified baby and I wouldn’t be impartial. I’ll come with you, hold your hand.”
Josh sighed and dropped his chin to his chest in defeat. “I’m scared of what might get raked up with the muck. I’m scared that my mom was right in what she said about me. That I am no good and I will only ever bring unhappiness to those near me.”
Justin pulled his lover into his arms. “I’m near you,” he whispered. “Do I look unhappy?” he gave Josh a great big shit eating grin that spread from ear to ear and Josh started to laugh.
“That’s better,” Justin kissed Josh’s mouth lovingly. “Tomorrow at ten we talk to a councillor. We sort out your issues and we get you mentally strong again. You are going to need to be for when you meet my mother.”
Josh blanched. “Oh no, no Justin. I’m not ready,” he struggled to get out of his boyfriends arms.
“She will adore you baby I promise.”
Keeping his mouth shut during the long hours of counselling was tough on Justin. Having to listen to the metal anguish Josh had been subjected to while he was a child, then later as a teenager when he was already insecure and then as the abuse continuing into his adulthood. He began to understand the insecurities of the gently spoken coffee shop owner. Knowing was going to help him make their relationship work. He also sat silently listening as Josh described the helplessness he had felt in Lance’s hands. How he had forced him to swallow the knockout drops and then later when he was tied down and Lance described how he had murdered the others in graphic detail so that he could add to the terror.
On the fifth session the councillor brought a rat in a cage with him and Josh had a panic attack. By the tenth session the councillor was able to open the cage and even though Josh couldn’t touch the furry animal he could tolerate its presence and the sounds it made as it scampered around its cage.
On the seventeenth session Justin held Josh around the waist and cooed soft reassuring words in his ear as the councillor handed the rodent to him. Josh trembled from head to toe but managed to handle the small creature without freaking out and was rewarded with a loving kiss.
“What are you reading?” Josh asked one night as he dropped onto the couch next to Justin and peered at the tattered text book in Justin's hands.
Justin closed the book. “It’s Lance’s diary.”
Josh’s face dropped and he started to get up in disgust. Justin took hold of his hand and pulled him back. “I promised Joey I would read it and I owe him that much.”
“He tried to kill me!” Josh shouted.
“I know but I just need to know why. What made him into a killer?” Justin kissed Josh’s hand. “I don’t expect you to read it but I think if you did you might just get some answers to your own questions.”
“I don’t have any questions Justin.”
The police officer nodded conceding to his lover’s decision. “I understand and I respect your decision but I do need to read this. I’m thinking of becoming a profiler and something like this gives an insight on what made him the person he turned into.” Justin put the diary on a small occasional table next to the couch and pulled Josh down onto his lap, wrapping his legs around him so he was trapped.
Josh snuggled into him. “I’m still mad at you for bringing that into my house.”
Justin slipped his hand down the front of Josh’s sweatpants and fondled him making the older man suppress a groan and start to wriggle a little. Josh stopped Justin's hand.
“I’m not kidding Justin.”
Justin took hold of both of Josh’s wrists and transferred them into one hand then slipped his hand back down Josh’s pants.
Josh struggled for a while then settled his head against his tormentor’s shoulder, his mouth slightly open as he gasped for breath. Justin grinned and kissed his head as he very slowly continued to jerk off his helpless boyfriend.
“Is that good baby?” he asked.
Josh nodded speechlessly and groaned as Justin's thumb rubbed over his slit.
“I’m going to make you come baby and then I’m going to take down your pants and bend you over and fuck you senseless.”
Josh whimpered and lifted his head, his lips seeking those of his lover. Justin obliged him happily and licked over his lips before sinking into a deeper kiss. He squeezed Josh’s balls, then tugged them and twisted them gently smiling into Josh’s mouth as the slender man whimpered again. Justin pushed Josh back and pulled down his jogging bottoms freeing his cock.
Josh mewed with delight as Justin engulfed him with his mouth, sucking and teasing him as he controlled the depth of the oral torment. Justin nibbled at the mushroom head before taking Josh’s cock into the back of his throat.
Josh’s head fell back and he gasped as he came.
Justin licked Josh’s shaft and then placed a kiss on the head. He slid up Josh’s body and sucked on his ear lobe. “Roll over” he breathed.
Josh rolled onto his belly and Justin straddled him rubbing his cock in the crack of his ass. The younger man licked up Josh’s spine and made him shiver from the tiny kisses that followed.
Justin spat on his hand and wet himself before lining himself up and pushing in to his beautiful lover. Josh reared up, arching his back and panting with each thrust.
Justin reached around him and tugged at Josh’s cock, all the time his tongue tracing patterns over the smooth span of his back..
“You feel so good baby,” he mewed. “So fucking good inside you.”
Josh began to give pained little whimpers that got more and more urgent with every roll of Justin's hips.
He reached down and stopped Justin's hand from sliding up and down his shaft. “Coming,” he breathed. “Coming.”
Justin thrust harder and brushed Josh’s hands away. “Come for me baby,” he purred in Josh’s ear and followed it with a long swipe of his tongue that delved into the shell.
With a loud squeak Josh came and shuddered bonelessly in his lovers arms.
Justin grunted and turned over reaching for his lover. He sat up in confusion finding only a cold empty space next to him. “Josh?” he called. When he got no answer he got out of bed and crept down the stairs to the back lounge.
Josh was curled on the sofa with his legs tucked under him and wrapped in a fake fur blanket. He was reading by the light of a small table lamp and Justin just stood silently and watched him wanting to take him in his arms but not wanting to disturb him.
Justin moved into the room and sat on the end of the couch.
“My mother treated me like I didn’t matter,” Josh said quietly not looking at his lover. “She degraded me, beat me when I was a child, belittled me when I reached adulthood and made me feel worthless, but never did she do what Lance’s mother did to him.”
“I didn’t think you wanted to read it.” Justin said sliding closer to his lover.
“I didn’t but I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep,” Josh looked at Justin for the first time. “It was just sitting there and before I knew what was happening it was in my hands and I was reading.” Josh paused for a long minute then continued. “His mother was a prostitute.”
Justin nodded. “I know.”
“How could a mother do that? He was a child and she sold his innocence. She actually sat and watched her clients assaulting him.”
“He says she was high most of the time. He was just a way of making extra money for drugs.”
Josh closed the book and tossed it on the table. “I can’t forgive him Justin; even knowing what he went though, the rapes, I can’t forgive him. I didn’t’ deserve what he did to me.”
“No you didn’t sweetheart. He was using you to get to me.”
Josh curled into Justin's body and buried his face against the younger man’s chest. “Hold me,” he said pleadingly his voice breaking.
Justin wrapped his arms around his thin frame and pulled him close just holding him and keeping him safe.
“Maybe this isn’t a good idea Justin. I’m not exactly what someone would want for their son.”
Justin took his boyfriends hands in his and squeezed them lovingly. “Baby I already told you she is going to love you.”
Josh tugged his hands free and fiddled with his collar. “But ….” he started and was cut off by Justin's finger pressing against his mouth.
“No buts baby. Mom is going to adore you. I know this because I adore you and we have the same taste when it comes to men.”
The nervousness on Josh’s face gave way to a reluctant smile. “You have the same taste in men? So she knows that you are …..?”
“Gay. Sure she does. I came out over dinner when I was about 13. We were watching the Lost Boys and I think I said something like Jason Patric was hot and he could bite me any day. She pretty much figured it out after that.” Justin frowned. “What is it baby?”
“My mom found out I was gay because someone told her they had seen me kissing with a guy that lived down the road from us. I guess I was about fifteen. The guy was much older, thirty I think. I had never had a boyfriend and he paid attention to me, something that no one had ever done before. She went ballistic. She dragged me by my hair to the cupboard and locked me inside. She wouldn’t let me out for two days.”
Josh let his gaze fall to the ground so that he wouldn’t have to see the pity he knew was in his lover’s eyes. “By the time she let me out I was hungry, dehydrated and I’d … well you know. She made me scrub out the closet before she would let me eat or drink or even wash.”
Josh looked towards Justin's family house and chewed his bottom lip, jumping when Justin rested his arm over his shoulder.
“Let’s go in Josh. It’s time for you to get over the past and embrace the future. Josh nodded and standing straight took Justin's hand and followed him into the house.