Title: Twisted Hearts
Disclaimer: Ennis and Jack belong to Annie Proulx. No disrespect intended.
Summary: Under cut
*This is a story told from Ennis's POV. He's an eighteen year old drug addict that winds up in a sober living facility. Jack is the residential counselor/adviser. As Jack helps Ennis with his sobriety, Ennis replaces his old addiction for a new one-Jack. Jack, a recovering addict himself, finds himself spiraling back into addiction, except this time his drug of choice is Ennis. Their love for one another becomes possessive, twisted, but pure and forgiving. Can they find a normal balance? What is "normal" anyway...
Links to previous chapters can be found here: lavender-snow.livejournal.com/
*Hey friends. I truly apologize for the long delay of this chapter. RL has been quite hectic. And thank you to those of you that took the time to message me about this story. It meant a lot to me :) Anyway, for those of you still reading, here's chapter 17. I hope you enjoy.*
It's true what they say, once an addict, always an addict. Sure us head-case's weren't using drugs and alcohol anymore, but we all seemed to have replaced our old addiction for a new one.
For example, this bald guy, not sure what his name was, became completely obsessed with the gym. When he wasn't in class or therapy, he was there. This woman, I think her name was Margaret, she turned to food, and must have put on at least fifteen pounds since she checked in. All the other's were addicted to either cigarettes, coffee, television, or all three.
I had to wonder why these issues were never addressed, or even talked about, in therapy or group session. Was it because these forms of addiction were of the legal kind?
As for me, I craved nothing more in this world than Jack's love, attention, touch, smell, warmth-everything Jack. Jack was my legal addiction.
I understood we all had to take baby-steps. The first step being to get us off of drugs and alcohol. But what about the rest? What about functioning in our everyday, ordinary lives? Surely, going to the gym for six hours a day, or eating 5,000 calories a meal, or loving someone so much it hurt, wasn't healthy. Were we just supposed to accept the fact that we're broken and will always be addicted to something in one form or another? Or was it truly possible to find a "normal" balance?
Doc increased my Wellbutrin. It seemed to help some. At least now I wanted to open my eyes in the morning instead of my wrists. But I knew that taking some magic doctor pill wasn't going to be the only solution in this uphill battle called life. I needed to do my part and get my shit together as soon as possible.
My actions and emotions the past few weeks were more of that of a ten year-old child, than an eighteen year-old grown man, but I didn't know how else to deal with any of this shit. I never had to. That's what drugs were for. And I don't care what anybody says, when life throws a grenade at you, all the things you learn in therapy goes right out the window. At least...for me it does any way.
Dr. Lambertus had explained to me that in the initial healing and sobering process, some people find themselves regressing backwards-mentally and emotionally. He said it was normal, and in someways, even healthy. Healthy, so long as the patient is open to treatment and follows the necessary steps needed to move forward. He also told me, or shall I say warned me, that it wasn't going to be easy. He wasn't kiddin'...
It was Jack's last day at New Horizons. I was beyond depressed. I knew there was nothing I could do about it, so I decided to try and enjoy what little time I had left with him.
I went to the cafe real early that morning and found him sitting alone, reading the newspaper. I fixed myself a sesame bagel, grabbed a cup of coffee, and walked over to his table.
"Morning," Jack said, smiling.
I planted myself in the chair across from him and smiled back.
"When do you leave?"
"Sometime this afternoon."
I tried not to look all bent out of shape, but hiding my emotions from Jack was never my strong point. Jack reached over the table and placed his hand on top of mine. "You'll be fine, Ennis. You will."
I swallowed hard and looked into his gentle eyes. "Jack? Can I ask you something?"
"Do you ever feel...stuck?"
"In what way?"
"Living in a place like this. I mean, I know you have your own apartment and all, but...don't you want more? Don't you want your own house someday? More privacy? It must feel as if you never leave work. Doesn't it?"
Jack shrugged his shoulders. "There are days I feel a little suffocated, but for the most part, I really do love my job. And yeah, I do plan on owning my own home someday." He paused and took a sip of his coffee. "It's just gonna take me a lot longer to get to that point." He took another sip, eyes looking into mine above the rim of his cup. "But that's what happens when ya screw up royally along the way I guess."
I instantly felt like an asshole. "Jack, I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to make you feel bad. I just-"
"Hey, I know. I know. I didn't take it that way."
I lowered my head. "Guess we're both big fuck-up's, huh?"
Jack quietly laughed. "Nah. Not intentionally anyway. We just had it rough growin' up and chose the wrong way of dealing with it. Could be a lot worse, Ennis. It could be. You know that."
"I know. I'm just starting to stress out again. I only have a couple weeks left here, and I'm not even sure if I have a home to go home to."
"When's the last time you heard from your mother?"
"Not since the fiasco at the Amethyst House."
"Yeah. I tried to call her a couple times, but she never returned my calls. Not surprised."
"Look, I know you're freaking out about a lot of things right now, but just remember-one day at a time. Yeah, that sounds kind of lame and cliche, but they really are words to live by. Trust me, Ennis. I know what you're going through."
"So...how'd you do it? How'd you worm your way in here? Job wise, I mean. And how the hell have you managed to get Dr. Lambertus under your thumb the way you have? No offense, Jack, but you haven't exactly been "employee of the month" material lately.
Jack forced a weak smile and neatly folded his newspaper. "Let's go outside and talk for a minute."
This couldn't be good...
I followed Jack into the courtyard. The morning air was cool and comfortable. Thank God, because I was hot and nervous as hell.
"Ennis. I have something I've been wanting to tell you." His voice was shaky and low.
My heart began to beat so hard I thought it might explode. I didn't want to hear what he had to say. I didn't. I wanted to cover my ears, run back inside, and pretend like everything was okay. "I can't handle this right now, Jack. Whatever it is. I can't handle it."
Jack stroked the side of my face with the back of his hand. "It's not what you think, Ennis. It's not about you and me."
"What is it then?" I asked when I felt I could breathe again.
Jack shifted closer to me and scuffed the heel of his sneaker into the gravel below. "Ennis..." He looked up. Our eyes met. "The reason Doc and I are so close is...because I was with his son when he died."
My eyebrows came together at warp-speed. "What? What do you mean you were with him? You were there when he overdosed?"
Jack scratched the back of his head. "Not exactly. We were together, as in...a couple."
Am I beyond fucked up for being jealous as hell of a dead guy?
I stared at Jack's soft, pink lips for a second and felt my stomach churn at the thought of them kissing anyone else's but mine. I knew Jack had had his share of guys, but this particular one hit a little too close to home.
I tried to play it cool and adult-like, but failed miserably. "What?! You mean...you and Doc's son?! You were a couple?!" I stood up from the bench and threw my hands in the air. "What the...why the hell didn't you say somethin' sooner? Huh?"
Jack looped an arm around my waist. "Hey, lower your voice. Sit down. Sit back down."
I reluctantly returned my ass to the bench, intentionally creating a large gap between us. Jack inched closer to me and put his hand on my knee. I studied the dimples on his knuckles and the half-moons on his fingernails.
I sucked in a breath through my nose. "Did you love him?"
Jack squeezed my knee real tight. "That was a long time ago."
"On some level I did. I was so young, Ennis. And to be honest, I think the only thing I really loved at the time was getting high."
Well, this sure as hell explained why Doc hadn't fired Jack's ass for all the trouble he'd gotten into recently. "How'd...how'd you meet?"
The morning sun broke through the fluffy clouds, warming our faces. Jack squinted his eyes. "At a party. He had just come out of the closet to his parents and was given the old heave-ho. He was pretty messed up. I had just gone through the same thing, so...misery loves company."
"Doc told me about that."
Jack looked surprised. "He told you about what?"
"About turning his back on his son, but he obviously never mention that you were his son's boyfriend at the time."
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner. Actually, no one knows about it, and I'd like to keep it that way."
"Cross my heart, Jack. I won't say a word." I placed my hand on top of his. "I'm sorry I overreacted. I just thought....I don't like keeping secrets from each other, Jack."
"I know, Ennis. I know. No more secrets. But you understand why I didn't tell you right away, don't you?"
I nodded. "How long were you together?" As ridiculously jealous as I was, if Jack and I were ever going to be in a serious relationship, I had to hear this. I had to hear all of it, even if it stung a little...or a lot.
"I'm not really sure. A few months maybe? Truthfully, most of that time was a complete blur."
"What happened? I mean, why did he-"
"He wanted out. He just wanted out."
"Jesus. That's so sad."
"Yeah, well..." Jack brushed his shoulder to mine. "Did you use like that? Intentionally take so much shit you hoped you wouldn't wake up?"
"No. Not intentionally. Thought about it all the time though. Guess I was too scared."
"Me too," Jack said quietly.
"You know, Jack, there were days I'd wake up and say, I can and will quit. I will make something of myself. But I never followed through. I couldn't. I couldn't do it without usin'."
Jack nudged his nose against the shell of my ear and whispered, "That's how come we's end up here, I guess."
After group session, I went to my room and waited for Jack. He said he was going to stop by before returning to the Amethyst House. I wasn't sure how many more goodbyes I could take...
"Ennis?" Jack walked in and quietly closed the door behind him.
"Hey." I sat up in bed and tried to smile.
Jack eased down beside me. "I'll be back next weekend. Gotta do some more orientation stuff." He lightly stroked my lower back. "Gonna miss you."
My eyes lit up. "You are? I mean...it's just that...you said it first."
Jack smiled real big. "C'mere, you." He wrapped his strong arms around my frail body and hugged the loneliness right out of me.
"I'm tryin'. I'm really tryin' here, Jack," I choked out, grasping the sleeve of his blue sweater.
"Shh. I know you are. I know"
I broke away from his embrace and wiped my eyes. "Jack? Do you miss me just as much as I miss you? Or am I just totally screwed up and mental and twisted and-"
"Shh...Shh." Jack pulled into his chest and rested his chin atop my head. "Yes."
"Yes, what?" I said, sniffling.
"I miss you just as much."
"Jack, promise you'll wait for me. Promise me that. I'll get better. I will. I swear. I just don't know what I'd do if...if I found out you met someone else or-"
Jack lifted my chin. "Ennis." He kissed me hard. I felt every bit of his need and want and love for me. Our lips parted. "I ain't goin' nowhere."
I went to therapy shortly after Jack left. That was huge waste of time. I had nothing to say. Well, actually I did, but between what Jack had told me earlier and our goodbyes, my mind was a million light-years away from planet earth.
After therapy, I thought I'd have the rest of the day to myself. That went right out the window when Dr. Lambertus said he wanted to introduce me to a couple new patients. I was looking forward to that more than my first root canal.
Anne was a strung-out, lanky lookin' girl with straggly brown hair. I was told she was nineteen. She looked at least forty.
Joe had just turned eighteen. He looked his age, maybe even a little younger. He was a tall guy with short black hair and big green eyes. He kind of reminded me of my only friend in high school.
"This is Ennis. He's going to show you around the facility and answer any questions you may have," Dr. Lambertus said.
I am? Since when? I bit my tongue. "Uh. Hi." I extended my hand for a shake.
"Send them to my office when you're through," Dr. Lambertus said to me.
"So, this is the library. There's Internet access here if that's your thing or whatever..." I remember exactly how I felt when Jack gave me the "Grand Tour" of the Amethyst House. I was pissed off, confused, lost and scared to death. Not to mention horny as hell. How could I not have been with a tour guide as good looking as Jack?
"How long you been in here?" Joe asked me.
"Not that long. I was at the Amethyst House for a few weeks before coming here. That's Doc's other rehab facility in Vermont."
He smirked. "Wow. So, this is your second stint in rehab, huh? You musta been pretty fucked up."
Funny, I never thought about it like that, but in some weird way, yeah, I guess I was that fucked up. "Somethin' like that..."
"How come you're here? Why didn't you just stay at the other rehab place?" Anne asked, twirling a long strand of hair around her finger.
Gee, let's see....Doc's head counselor and I fell in love, we broke every rule imaginable and even managed to get ourselves arrested. "Doc just felt this place would be a better fit for me...I guess."
"Oh." Anne's eyes lazily scanned the library. She looked pretty out of it. Too out of it.
"Are you alright?" I gently grabbed her arm and turned her around in my direction.
She shrugged my hand from her body. "I'm fucking fine. You?" Her pupils were the size of saucers. Great. Just what I needed...
"Hey, chill. I'm just askin'." Speaking from personal experience, nothing enrages an addict more than questions and accusations about their state of "sobriety."
"I'm fine," Anne said, refusing to make eye contact with me.
"Is it alright if I hop on the computer for a sec?" Joe asked. "I want to check my Email."
"Yeah. Sure," I replied, watching Anne stumble toward the back of the library.
I left Joe to check his Email and quickly walked over to Anne. I knew I had to choose my words wisely. "Anne, there's a nice comfy couch over here. Why don't you sit down. I'm sure you're exhausted."
The corners of her eyes and mouth began to twitch. "Huh?"
"Here. Come sit." I cautiously took her by the hand and led her to the sofa.
She slumped down beside me, tilted her head back, and closed her eyes.
"Hey, Anne? I'll be right back, okay? You gonna be alright here for a second?"
She smiled a-I don't give a fuck what you just said because I'm high-smile and nodded. "I'm fine."
With the strung out chick safe on the couch, I slipped out the back door and ran to Doc's office.
"Hey, Doc. We gotta little problem."
Doc removed his glasses. "What's up?"
"That new girl, Anne. She's as high as a kite."
Doc rose from his chair. "Are you sure?"
"Positive. I've got her sitting on the couch in the library. I didn't know what else to do with her. Joe's there, too, but he's on the computer."
"Okay. I'll take it from here."
I nodded and just as I was about to exit the office, Doc said, "Thanks, Ennis."
Seeing how messed up Anne was earlier made me really sad. Truth is, people don't just do drugs and get hooked on them for fun. People use to cope with pain and grief and loneliness and self-hatred. All that stuff. There's nothing fun about not being able to function without some toxic chemical running through your bloodstream. It's horrible. It's absolutely horrible.
I must admit, I didn't feel bad ratting Anne out. Actually, I felt good. I felt like I did the right thing...for once. I only wish I had Jack beside me to talk to. To tell him that I was actually proud of myself. But I was alone. You'd think I'd be used it by now. I'm not.
Christ, when is this all gonna end? When?
I crawled into bed, rested my head on my pillow and looked out the window. I usually love looking at the night sky and all the twinkling stars above.
That night, I hated the stars because I was looking at the same ones as Jack, without him...