Elliot woke up at around two. Groggily he blinked his eyes open slowly, trying to get his bearings. Why was he on his sofa? What had woken him up?
His question was soon answered when he heard laboured breathing coming from the other side of the room. Tyrell! He jumped up from the sofa and ran over to where the other man was sleeping.
Elliot perched on the edge of the bed. Tyrell was obviously having a nightmare, his breath coming in short gasps, mingled with the occasional moan of pain.
Elliot didn’t know what to do, so he smoothed the hair off Tyrell’s sweaty forehead, and gently shook his arm with the other hand.
‘Tyrell,’ he whispered, then again more urgently when he got no response.
‘Tyrell, come on. Please! Come on!’
Finally Tyrell’s eyes flew open and he bolted upright, letting out the most awful noise Elliot thought he’d ever heard. It was somewhere between a sob, a gasp for breath, and a wail of pain.
His eyes darted around frantically, and he reached out with shaking hands to find something solid to hold on to. Elliot took his hands in his, and ducked his head to try and make eye contact with Tyrell. The other man was desperately trying to catch his breath, and seemed dizzy and disoriented.
‘Tyrell, it’s okay, it was a dream.’ This was apparently the wrong thing to say, as Tyrell’s breaths became shorter and sharper.
Elliot, unsure of what to say to someone who was hyperventilating, took one of his hands and placed it on Tyrell’s firm, warm chest.
‘Hey, come on now, breathe.’ Tyrell seemed to be calming down, much to Elliot’s relief, but he was still shaking and looking at him with large, terrified eyes.
‘Just a nightmare,’ Elliot soothed again. At that, Tyrell lurched forwards, pulling Elliot into his arms. Elliot took a few seconds to respond, but soon followed suit, rubbing Tyrell’s back gently.
Elliot squeezed his eyes shut and released a breath he didn’t realise he was holding, please that this horrid moment had passed.
Tyrell suddenly grabbed a fistful of Elliot’s t-shirt, and moved his other hand up into Elliot’s hair, tightening his grip on the smaller man to the point where it was almost uncomfortable. Tyrell’s face was buried in Elliot’s neck, and Elliot felt him gasp out a wet sob against his skin.
Elliot tried awkwardly to sway from side-to-side, in an attempt to comfort Tyrell who was now shaking as he cried brokenly in Elliot’s arms.
‘I-see-it. E-every-night. I can’t-‘ he hiccupped desperately, trying to calm his breathing down.
‘See what? Shh, it’s alright,’ he soothed.
‘I d-didn’t mean to- I never wanted- oh God. Please, please forgive me, please.’ He continued to repeat the last few words, like a prayer, and Elliot rocked them both harder, stroking Tyrell’s hair as he did so.
By this point Elliot’s mind was numb with panic. Nothing was calming Tyrell down, and he wanted him to stop crying so badly and just be okay. Elliot’s own eyes started to fill with tears, and in a desperate move he did the only thing he could think to do.
He started kissing Tyrell’s neck, gently at first, then more roughly, as he worked his way up to Tyrell’s face. With quick, frantic movements he kissed the parts of Tyrell’s face he could reach. It was wet and desperate, and they were both breathing raggedly, until Tyrell seem to snap out of his daze. Startled, he looked into Elliot’s eyes for several seconds, as if trying to gauge the situation. Elliot met his stare with wide, uncertain eyes, before Tyrell sprang into action, crashing their lips together.
Elliot’s mind, by this point, had decided that trying to keep up with the situation was a fool’s errand, and instead, he acted on pure instinct. He kissed back, matching the pace and pressure of Tyrell’s lips.
Their kiss earlier had been soft, gentle and chaste, but this one was anything but. It was fast, desperate and filled with need and longing (which, Elliot noted with surprise, came from both sides, not just Tyrell). It wasn’t a nice kiss by any means. Elliot registered each sensation like a person waking from a long, deep sleep; moist skin-on-skin, salt-stained lips fighting for dominance, and the sizzle of emotions cracking through the air like a whip.
He felt Tyrell’s tongue on his, and he responded by moving his own in time with the frantic pace they were setting. He tried and failed to suppress a low, guttural moan. This felt unlike anything he’d ever experienced. Tyrell’s scent was woody and masculine, his mouth firm and strong, and his slender fingers were pulling at Elliot’s hair and digging into his back. There was nothing gentle, or tender about this kiss, but Elliot could still feel the need and desire behind it.
Both of their moans echoed richly in the silence, along with their frantic gasps for air, and the wet sounds their lips made against each other.
Tyrell pulled away first, and they both struggled to catch their breath.
‘I-I’m sorry,’ Elliot stammered. ‘I shouldn’t have-‘ Tyrell cut him off by moving to stand, and unsteadily making his way to the bathroom. Elliot could hear him splashing water on his face and taking some deep breaths.
In the darkness, Elliot tried to compose himself as well, and ran through possible things to say when Tyrell returned. He was drawing a complete blank though, so was kind of relieved when Tyrell broke the silence first.
‘I’m sorry,’ he mumbled, unable to look Elliot in the eye. He didn’t quite make it back to the bed before crumbling in on himself and sliding down the wall to sit on the floor. Elliot crouched in front of him but said nothing, sensing he should let Tyrell speak first.
‘I have dreams every night. I see her face, feel her under me. Relive that moment, over and over.’ He shuddered, and looked like he was about to gag.
What was he talking abou- oh! Oh God. Elliot felt a cold sweat prickle at the back of his neck.
‘I’m not a bad person Elliot, I’m not!’ He grabbed Elliot’s hands desperately.
‘Okay,’ he said, at a loss as to what he could possibly say. What did he think of Tyrell? He’d realised long ago that he didn’t believe Tyrell was a bad person. He did a terrible, unspeakable thing, which he’d clearly not forgiven himself for, and -Elliot felt certain- never would.
Elliot called his own morality into question. He’d never killed anyone, but a lot of his decisions were morally…grey, at best. In recent years the lines between good and bad had become blurred to him. He’d released a murderer from jail (along with hundreds of other dangerous criminals) for his own gain. He’d valued Shayla’s life over all others and made a decision that day that he’d forever regret. What had given him the right to play God? He hadn’t slit Shayla’s throat. He wasn’t directly responsible for anyone killed by the criminals he released, but he still felt their blood on his hands. Fear made people do terrible, disgusting things, and Elliot understood that more than most.
Tyrell was looking at him like his own sanity rested on Elliot’s next words, so he chose them carefully.
‘I know you’re not. You’re not bad.’
‘I don’t recognise who I am anymore, I despise the man I’ve become,’ he spat angrily. ‘This is my penance Elliot. I can repent, I can be forgiven,’ he posed this last statement as a question.
Elliot didn’t know about penance, not really sharing Tyrell’s apparent belief in God, but he believed in second chances, and righting wrongs.
‘Of course you can. This is a brand new world Tyrell. One we made. We can rebuild ourselves too. Brand new.’ Elliot moved to sit next to Tyrell, and put his arm around his shoulder. Tyrell rested his head on Elliot’s shoulder, and Elliot placed a soft kiss in his hair.
‘Brand new, Tyrell, we can be brand new.’