Page 6 of The Stay

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Nix grunted, not getting whatever joke Ash was attempting to lay down.

Nix couldn't be bothered with more chat. He was tired, fucking exhausted. He was disgusted at his situation; locked up, fucking getting hard when someone tried to put him down, called him a dog. Fucking getting hard when his new cellmate stroked his neck. What the fuck was wrong with him?

He'd barely slept in his last cell, too worried to close his eyes in case his cellmate stabbed him or something. He’d pushed too far there. He’d gone past the point of banter. Past the point of the usual degradation he craved and hated, and craved the self-hate even more. It had gotten too violent. Too intense. For a six foot two, two hundred pound guy like Nix, when things got past that point, the stakes were too high. The stakes were his life and he’d needed to bail on that situation.

He needed a good rest now. This new cell seemed fine. Yeah, okay, he was with some MC member, but this Ash guy seemed okay. Nix needed a break from all the games he was playing in his head. Pissing people off, seeing how far they would go. Seeing how far he would go. He sure as hell wouldn’t try to antagonize this new cell mate. He needed the rest of his stay to be normal. And this Ash guy seemed pretty harmless. A bit intense, but fine. He didn’t need to incur the wrath of an MC, as well as all the other people who wanted to end him. The MC could get in fucking line for that, but he didn’t fancy taking on the wrath of an MC anyway.

Nix let out a breath. He allowed himself a moment to feel relief.

He gave Ash a final chin lift, heaved himself up onto the top bunk and settled back into the not so comfortable, but at least flat and vaguely safe mattress.

Nix closed his eyes, counted his blessings, and mentally flicked the bird to whatever gods he was sure weren't up there. Yeah fuck you, looks like I cheated you out of your plan to end me once again, Nix thought, before drifting, then falling into an exhausted, dreamless slumber.

Nix woke up with a start.The bed was rocking, squeaking gently but rhythmically. For a moment he forgot where he was.

He felt like he was falling. Why was the bed rocking? Was he home? No, fuck, was he dying? Nix forced a few deep breaths into his lungs, calming himself, trying to pull himself together enough to speak without sounding like a crazy person.

"Hey man, what are you doing?" Nix said impatiently into the gloom.

A groan from the bunk below was the only answer he got. A groan and a more furious, squeaking rock to the bunk bed.

Nix frowned, then realized what it was. Nix tutted and rolled over in the poor excuse for a bed. Nix was still safe. He wasn’t in danger, the fucker below him was just, well… fucking himself. This, he could ignore. There was no threat. He closed his eyes and tried to fall back to sleep.

But it was no good. He couldn't ignore it.

"Come on, seriously?" Nix said loudly.

"Fuck, man, I'm sorry, I just gotta take the edge off," Ash hissed through his teeth from the bunk bed below him.

Nix ground his teeth. Just his fucking luck, to be assigned to a cell with this numbnut. It would be a long stay if this guy was his cellmate.

“No fucking way,” Nix grunted.

"Come on dude, I won't take long," Ash's voice came back breathily.

Nix couldn't believe the balls on this guy. "I tell you what won't take long... for me to get off the top bunk and punch you in the gut-"

"Fine!" Ash huffed and silence reigned.

Nix sighed in the heavy, awkward silence. The bed was no longer creaking, but he could hear Ash sulking. He imagined him with his arms crossed in a huff in the bed below like a moody teenager. Chastised. Nix bit his lip. He normally didn’t do the chastising, he was the one with the tail between his legs.

Nix sighed. "Look, I don't mean to be a dick, it's just-"

"I get it."

Nix frowned. "Get what?"

Ash huffed. "You're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. You’re a tortured soul, misunderstood, the world has been against you from the start. No one better piss you off ‘cause you’ll lash out-"

Nix felt judged. "Fuck off."

Ash butted back in. "No, I'm not being sarcastic here, it's the truth, you've had a rough ride of it, and you feel totally lost, huh?" Ash said, softer now, sincere.

All the crushing pain of the last few years slammed down on Nix’s chest. The pain of more than a few years. Pain he didn’t know he was carrying. Pain he thought he’d run away from and left behind, after years of drinking, partying and having a good time. Dealing drugs, taking drugs, stealing, sinning. Nix thought he didn’t have any more fucks to give. Ash seemed to have exposed a few that had been left behind.

He stuttered, his breath caught in his throat. "Fuck, I..."

"I get it. My parents disowned me, my family was responsible for my arrest, I... I know. You want to be left alone in here, ‘cause a moment of silence is as rare as a flying unicorn. But at the same time, you've been alone all your life, and no one else gets you and you're sick to the bone of feeling alone..."