A/N: Hello again, readers! In the past few months, I've had multiple requests to go back to writing "Jommy happy stories." I wrote this instead. (This is in lieu of a Closer update today. I'll post the last two chapters together on Saturday)

This is a slight AU of the end of the fourth season episode My Hometown, and could be considered a companion to my other story All At Sea, except that that stays in canon and this doesn't. This story references that one, but it can stand on its own. The title is a reference to the e. e. cummings poem "as is the sea marvelous" (hence the lack of title capitalization) not necessarily because it fits the tone or subject of this story, but because have the poem hanging on my wall so I think about it a lot, I liked the reference to the sea, and a little because of the line
the breaking
of your
my lips"
which this website will not let me properly format.

This is not a fix-it story. The way things go down in this is not in any way better than the way they happen in the show itself. In fact, in many ways, that's a much more concise way of getting to the same emotional impact of an ending. Mostly what this story is, I suppose, is a way to explore a particular side of Tommy in more depth than the strict canon allows. It's also the longest one-shot I've ever written. (And it will stay a one-shot, this is not going to become a full 4th-season AU)

Please enjoy, and remember that I do have a repertoire of Jommy fluff at your disposal on this site, just in case this rips your heart out a little bit.

As they walk up the front steps to his house, Jude can sense the mounting tension she knows Tommy is trying to hide from her. It's been there all day, in one form or another, flaring in waves that have her frustrated and worried. One minute they're singing and he's looking at her like she's the only one in the world, like she's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen, and the next the walls are all back up and he's bristling at her touch, getting defensive at every question she asks. She expected some of this, of course, maybe even deserves some of it for showing up unannounced when she knew he didn't want her to come, but she'd also convinced herself he missed her enough that he'd quickly come around. She knew that to believe that he'd be happy to see her, that he'd suddenly change his tune after weeks of telling her he didn't want her there, that he'd let her into his life and ask her to stay, was all incredibly naïve, but maybe she indulged the fantasy one too many times, because it stung seeing the smile fall from his face when he opened the door this morning and saw her standing there.

She thought she'd finally broken through the walls. They left the festival and he drove her to the edge of his little town. He brought her to the seaside, to an abandoned lighthouse. He told her it was a place he used to go when he was young, when he needed to get out of his house. Outside of town, away from all of his old friends and all of the people who knew him as Tom DuTois, the change was noticeable right away. His shoulders dropped, his smile relaxed. All of the tension she'd been noticing all day, and some she hadn't even noticed, melted out of him and he became her Tommy again. They sat and looked over the water as the sun set, and the silence between them was comfortable, his arms around her everything she'd been missing so desperately. She wanted to ask about his mom again, about his friends, about his hometown, his childhood, but she restrained herself. They talked a little bit about her album, music always being a safe topic, and then she just let the silence be for a long while. We don't talk, but that's okay. Even though it felt like home, like normal, the moment between them still felt fragile, somehow. She ignored the nagging thought that maybe in some ways they always feel fragile.

He got a text from Selena as the sky over the water was fading to dark blue, and the spell broke then. Jude watched him shut his eyes and give a long sigh. She raised her eyebrows at him, asked "who was that?" and he turned to her with a sad smile, putting a hand on her cheek and giving her a lingering kiss before pulling away and saying, "I have to go back."

She looks over at him now, as they step into the porch light together. He doesn't look angry, not even upset, exactly, though she can't quite read his expression. She reaches out to grab his hand, and he turns his head to look at her and squeezes her fingers. One corner of his mouth quirks up slightly, a little smile, but when he turns back to unlock the door she suddenly recognizes his expression for what it is: dread. She feels the sudden, desperate need to tell him she loves him, something like fear spiking in her for a second, but it's too late. He opens the door, and she follows him in, still holding his hand.

"Everything okay?" Tommy asks Selena, who's standing with her hands on her hips.

"Oh, yeah," Selena says, a sarcastic edge to her tone. She gestures to the woman Jude knows must be Tommy's mother. "She's just looking for her locket."

Tommy sighs and pulls his hand out of Jude's as Selena walks past, putting a hand on Tommy's shoulder briefly before leaving. As Selena shuts the door, Tommy's mom stands up, walking around the couch towards them. "Tristan was always the thoughtful one. He bought me that locket for my birthday." She catches sight of Tommy, and her eyes widen, looking suddenly furious. "Oh, Tom!" she shouts. "You're not looking and I know why, because you took it!"

"Yeah, I took it," Tommy says, pointing a finger at his mom. He glances at Jude and she widens her eyes, trying to convey something, though even she's not sure what. He looks away.

Tommy's mom turns to Jude, then, leaning in close and saying, "Last week he stole the church silverware to buy cigarettes."

"That was fifteen years ago!" Tommy protests, but his mom just waves her hand with a sarcastic "mhmm," as she walks to the kitchen.

"Hi, Miriam, I'm Jude," she says, walking over to where Tommy's mom is searching the kitchen counter. "What's it look like? I'll help you look."

She's only trying to help, but Tommy objects, "Don't help her! Don't feed into her paranoid delusions."

"Well how's standing there doing nothing going to help?!" Jude protests.

Tommy's temper flares. It's the outburst that deep down she's known has been building since he opened the door to see her standing on his porch, but it still makes her chest tighten and her heart jump into her throat as he pretends to search for the locket. It's been a long time since she's seen him this angry, and she's not sure she's ever seen this particular brand of fury in his eyes.

"Tommy!" Jude protests as his mom shouts, "Stop it!"

"Huh! Not under here," Tommy says sarcastically, still pretending to search, pulling the cushions off the couch and throwing them.

"What are you doing?!" Jude cries.

"You know what he did with those cigarettes?" Tommy's mom says in a harsh voice, walking over to Tommy. "He burned holes in the fishermen's nets."

Tommy looks cornered, suddenly, fear in his angry eyes, and Jude tries desperately to stop this, whatever it is, whatever's about to happen. "I'm gonna help you look," she insists, hoping in vain that Tommy's mom will turn back to her, leave Tommy alone, that they can all just calm down. "I'm gonna–" she starts again, but the older woman just keeps shouting.

"Do you know how many double shifts I have to work to pay for those nets?" she cries, screaming the words in Tommy's face. He doesn't meet her eyes, just stands there and lets her berate him, absorbing the blow when she puts her hands on his chest and shoves him back. "You're worthless!" She shouts, picking newspapers up from a stack on the coffee table and hitting him in the chest with them. "Worthless, worthless!"

The look on Tommy's face makes Jude feel sick. There's a pain and a sorrow and a resignation there that means she can't pretend to herself that this isn't normal for the two of them, and the present tense of "shifts I have to work" means she can't ignore the sickening knowledge that things were probably like this for him as a kid, too. She's guessed at it, but seeing it is something different entirely. She wants to do something, to intervene, maybe even physically step between them and protect him, but she's frozen to the spot, unable to move. On the second "worthless," Tommy meets Jude's horrified eyes. He smiles, cruel and cold and wild-eyed. His face says "told you so," says "is this what you wanted?" It's a challenge and a warning. There's still that fear and pain and sorrow underneath, but she sees the moment the switch flips, the moment he decides he'll embrace the worst parts of himself, give in and embody the idea of the old Tommy that he's always trying to hide from her. His mom shouts "get out!" and shoves his shoulder, but his eyes are still locked on Jude, and he walks over to her.

"Okay," he says with that same scary smile and those wild eyes. "You want to stay here, get all up close and personal with my life, just like you wanted? Have fun."

He spits the last words with a look that can only be described as disgust, and it feels like a punch to the gut. She reaches out reflexively to grab his arm, but he shoves her hands away as he storms out, slamming the front door behind him. Jude is frozen for a moment, paralyzed and reeling, but then she snaps to her senses and runs out after him. He's almost out of the yard as she bounds down the front steps. She cries "Tommy!" but he doesn't turn around, doesn't give any sign at all that he's heard her, so she breaks into a jog and catches up to him, grabbing his arm and saying his name again. He pulls away so violently that she's knocked back.

"No," he growls. He turns, arm still pulled back, and she actually worries for a split second that he's about to hit her. She flinches, and she knows he sees it because he relaxes his arm immediately, and there's a quick flash of guilt in his face. His voice is still hard when he speaks, but not as harsh. "Jude, no. I can not do this. You wanted to see my home? Well now you fucking have. Enjoy." He turns and starts walking again.

"Tommy!" she protests. "Where are you going?"

"Out!" he shouts without turning.

"Tommy!" she jogs a few steps to keep up with him.

"Back off!" He keeps walking, but she stops.

"Stop!" Jude cries, her voice breaking. "Tommy, please." Tears prick at her eyes.

That stops him, as she was pretty sure it would. His steps slow, then stop, and she sees his shoulders slump in a sigh. He turns back to her and his expression is pained. "Jude," he says, his voice low and strained, "I can't…"

"You were just going to leave?" she asks, betrayed.

"I told you not to come. I told you I don't want you here, and you didn't listen. Do you understand now why I can't have you here?"

"No, I don't." He scoffs, and she says, "Okay so that was pretty bad, but–"

"I don't want you here!" he cries, cutting her off. "What part of that is so hard for you to get through your head?! You told me you understood that I need to do this alone, and then suddenly you show up unannounced. It's not okay!"

"I missed you!" she protests, the tears starting to fall. "I missed you so much I was going crazy, Tommy! I thought I could handle it, the distance, but I can't! I didn't know how long you'd be here for, I didn't know when I was going to see you again. I don't know how much more of that I—we—could take. I didn't know if our relationship was going to be able to survive another six weeks of being apart. I was just trying to–"

He cuts her off again, anger flashing in his eyes. "You, being here? That is what our relationship isn't gonna survive." She feels a jolt of pain and jerks back like he's hit her.

They stare at each other for a long moment, his expression angry, her eyes filled with tears. "Do you mean that?"

He looks guilty for a split second, then looks away quickly, down at his watch and then behind her, back at the house. He sighs and mutters, "You can't leave her alone when she's like this."

"What was I supposed to do?" she protests. "Just let you walk away?"

He sighs again, rolling his eyes and still not looking at her. "Exactly," he mutters, then pushes past her and starts walking back to the house. He doesn't check if she's following, but she does, slipping through the front door behind him.

Tommy's mom is standing in the kitchen, staring at the shattered pieces of a glass on the floor. When they enter she looks up, and her expression goes from confusion to shock, then anger. "Mike!" she cries.

Jude can't figure out why she'd think it was Tommy's friend coming through the door—they look literally nothing alike—but Tommy immediately tenses. "Mom, no, it's Tom. Please don't do this."

"Where have you been?" she hisses, suddenly speaking in a harsh whisper. "Where the fuck have you been, you worthless piece of shit? I'm here by myself, taking care of him all by myself! I swear to God if you blew another paycheck I will kill you with my bare hands."

"Mom, please look at me." Tommy pleads. "It's not Mike, it's Tom, okay? I'm your son, Mom. Please can you just–"

Her eyes lock on Jude, standing beside him, and widen. "Who are you?"

Jude jumps, startled, but tries to answer. "I– Miriam, I'm Jude, I tried to introduce myself earlier, I'm just here to–" she stammers, but Tommy's mom isn't listening.

She turns back to Tommy and hisses furiously, "How dare you bring her here? How dare you bring one of your whores into our house?!" She turns her wild fury on Jude, spitting as she talks, her voice growing louder and louder. "We have a son, you filthy homewrecking slut! Get out! Get the fuck out of my house! I'll fucking kill you!" She takes a few steps towards Jude as she shouts, and Jude stumbles back in fear, falling against the door.

"You will NOT touch her!" Tommy roars, stepping between them and grabbing his mom by the upper arms and forcing her back. "Don't you dare touch her." His voice is low and threatening, practically a growl, and Miriam freezes, looking up at him with wide eyes. Tommy lets go of her, but keeps himself between her and Jude. "Mom," he says, his voice soft now. "Please look at me. It's your son, Mom, it's Tom. Do you really not recognize me?"

"Mike," she says, and her voice is suddenly a whimper. Her entire demeanor is instantly different, submissive, pleading. "Mike, please, please don't leave me." She gives a little sob. "I can't do it alone. And he's your son! He has your eyes, he's your son, he's our son. Please, that has to mean something."

"It's okay, Mom." He sounds beyond exhausted. Now that the shouting has stopped, Jude takes a tentative step forward, so she can see what's going on. "You're okay." Tommy says softly to his mom. He reaches out and grabs her hand, turning it palm-up to look. There's a red cut across the heel of her palm. "What is this? Did you cut yourself?"

She wipes her eyes with her sleeve and turns to look at the glass on the ground, then back up at Tommy. "Oh, I… I don't remember. The glass is broken, I was trying to… I think I was trying to…"

"That's okay. Does it hurt? It doesn't look too bad, I think the bleeding already stopped. It's just a scratch."

"Just a scratch," she murmurs. "Just a scratch, just a scratch."

"Mom, do you know who I am?" She nods, but then hesitates and shakes her head. He sighs. "It's Tom."

She nods. "Tom is my son's name. But he's gone. He abandoned me as soon as he got the chance."

That seems to hit a nerve, because Tommy sounds frustrated again. "I didn't abandon you. I kept sending you money, didn't I?"

She shakes her head again. "Where's Tristan? I need Tristan."

"He's at work. He'll be home soon. But I'm here, alright?" He sighs, a deep, exhausted sigh. "It's time for bed, Mom. Do you want to go to bed?"

"I can't… I can't remember… I…" She's getting frustrated, and her eyes find Jude again. She jumps, then looks back at Tommy, looking frightened. "Who is she? Why is she here?"

"That's just Jude, Mom. Don't worry about her, okay?" He steps between them again. "She's leaving. Just look at me. Focus on me. It's time for bed now."

"I don't remember…" she murmurs. "I can't remember…"

"It's okay, Mom. That's okay. There's nothing you need to remember. Let's get ready for bed, alright?"

She nods and turns, stopping when she sees the broken glass on the floor. "Oh! The… the… it's…"

"The glass," Tommy finishes. "Yeah, I know. I'll take care of it. Don't touch it. Come on." He leads her for a few steps, then she walks herself, opening the door to the bathroom and flipping on the light. "Do you need help?" he asks, and she waves a hand, dismissing him and shutting the door behind her. Tommy sighs heavily and leans his back against the wall, shutting his eyes.

"Tommy." Jude says his name softly, and he groans. "Tommy, I'm–"

"Don't," he says in a low voice, not looking at her.

"I just–"

"Don't," he snaps, and she doesn't try again. They stand in tense silence for a long minute before Tommy straightens up and knocks on the bathroom door. "Mom?"

She opens the door a moment later, and Tommy steps in. They have a quiet conversation Jude can't hear, but she thinks he must remind her to brush her teeth, because she hears the water running for a second. Tommy comes back to the cluttered kitchen and fills a glass with water, pointedly ignoring Jude, who is still standing frozen near the door. He opens a cabinet and takes a few pill bottles down from one of the high shelves, taking out one of each medication, then bringing them back to his mom, who has come out of the bathroom. He hands her the pills and the glass and she takes them without objection. She finishes the water, then puts a hand on the side of Tommy's face and murmurs, "Sweet boy." Jude sees Tommy wince, even from across the room, but his mom doesn't seem to notice, handing him the glass and turning to walk back down the hall. He places the glass on the counter and follows his mom down the hall to her bedroom.

He leaves the door open, and Jude can hear him speaking in a low voice. She fights the impulse to go and listen at the doorway. Instead, she replaces and straightens the couch cushions Tommy threw around earlier, then walks over to the shattered glass and bends down to gingerly pick up the large pieces. After she's gotten all she can with her fingers, she searches until she finds a broom and a dustpan, then does her best to clean up the smaller pieces. As she's dumping the last of the glass into the trash, she hears what sounds like Tommy softly singing. She takes the few steps down the short hallway and stands outside the bedroom door. They're both singing, she realizes, a song in French she doesn't recognize. It sounds like a children's song, or maybe some kind of a folk song. Tommy stops with a sigh after a moment, and his mom warbles on for a moment longer until he softly says, "That's enough, Mom. It's time to go to sleep," and she stops. Jude inches closer so she can see into the room. Tommy's mom is laying in bed, and Tommy's sitting in a chair next to her with his back is mostly turned to the door.

"You have a voice, you know," Tommy's mom says. From what Jude can see, her eyes are closed. "My son does too. My oldest. He's a singer. Did you know that?"

Tommy sighs. "Yeah, I did. I was."

"He travels the world," she murmurs. "Too good for this place. Too good for me." She inhales deeply and lets it out in a sigh. "He's always been ungrateful. But he has a voice, that boy. Always had quite the voice."

Jude sees Tommy hang his head for a moment, running his fingers through his hair, and then he straightens up. "Go to sleep, Mom." He reaches out to turn off the lamp, and Jude quickly walks back down the hall so he won't catch her eavesdropping.


As Tommy stands up and leaves his mom's room, closing the door behind him, he considers going straight to his own bedroom and shutting the door, leaving Jude on her own and hoping she'll be gone by the morning, that all of this will have been a horrible dream. Maybe that all of this, the past six weeks, could have been some kind of a nightmare, and he'll wake up in Toronto with his hometown nothing but a far away memory. He'll find Jude next to him in bed not knowing anything about this, about the way he grew up and the guy he used to be.

He can't face her. Not now, not after that. But then he remembers the broken glass, and knows he can't just leave it. He squeezes his eyes shut and sighs before steeling himself and walking out into the living room. Jude is sitting on the couch, and even though he doesn't look at her, he can feel her looking at him, her wide eyes boring into his back. He does his best to ignore her, walking over to grab the broom.

"I cleaned up the glass," Jude says. She says it quietly, but her voice jars him for some reason.

He turns and looks at her. She looks small and young and out of place, staring at him with her big blue eyes, full of a pity that makes him feel sick to his stomach. A sarcastic comment comes to his mind, Jude Harrison to the rescue, but he bites it back and nods. "Thanks." He looks away again, leaning against the kitchen counter. After another moment he asks, "Are you okay?" He keeps his gaze focused on the ground, but he needs to know, because otherwise he'll be haunted by the memory of her look of fear as his mom shouted at her.

"I'm fine." She sounds surprised. "Are you okay?"

He sighs. What he is, more than anything, is exhausted. There are so many conflicting desires in his head underneath the overwhelming need to sleep. He wants Jude out of here, wants to shout at her until she leaves. It would be easy enough to unload on her all of the frustration and the pain of the night and of the past six weeks and of his long-repressed childhood. She sometimes tries to pretend she's stronger and more mature than she is, tries to pretend the bad things he does don't affect her as much as he knows they do, but he knows he could hurt her if he tried, maybe even so badly she'd never take him back. Part of him wonders if that would be the easier route, and maybe even the right thing to do. He'd hurt her, but ultimately it would only be in order to protect her from him.

The other part of him wants to rush to her, take her in his arms and kiss her. He wants to apologize, wants to beg her to stay, or maybe to take him with her. She loves a version of him that isn't quite the real one, but her love for that Tommy is fierce and pure, and he wants to give in to it. He's been suffocating here on his mother's hatred and his old friends' mocking and the constant stress, and Jude's naïve, innocent love feels like it could be a breath of fresh air, a light in this oppressive darkness. He wants to abandon his duty to his mother, to pretend the way he grew up isn't part of him anymore, and he wants to run away with Jude, live in the world as she sees it, let all of this go and just be with her as the man she thinks she sees in him. He wants her to hold him, to forgive him, to save him.

"Tommy?" Jude says his name softly, and it snaps him back to reality.

"Why are you still here?" he snaps. "I think I made it pretty clear I want you out." He risks a look at her face, and her hurt expression hits him right in the stomach. He clenches his jaw and looks away.

"You expected me to leave?" she asks, incredulous.

He laughs once, a hard sound. "Expected? Of course not. But a guy can hope." He mutters the last few words to himself as he straightens up and goes to the freezer, the very back of the top shelf where he keeps a bottle of vodka, where he hopes it's hidden enough that his mom won't find it. He has a few bottles in other places around the house, mainly in his room. The cognitive dissonance was hard at first, sneaking alcohol in the house where he used to live in constant fear of his mother's drinking binges, but his need for something to let him escape, if only for a short window of time, overcame the guilt and the ghost of his childhood self quickly enough. He considers getting a glass, then doesn't, taking a long drink directly from the bottle. It burns, and he coughs as he pulls the bottle away from his mouth and replaces the cap.

"Why are you doing this?" Jude asks, her voice small and hurt.

He scoffs as he hides the bottle in the freezer again, because it's easier to be angry than to face all the pain he's caused her over the years and all the pain he's going to cause her. "You're the one who's doing this, Jude, not me."

"That's not fair," she objects. Her voice is closer now, and he turns to find that she's come up behind him.

They lock eyes for a moment before he looks away again, giving a muttered, "Whatever," and brushing past her. He sits down heavily on the couch and puts his head in his hands.

He feels her come back over and sit down next to him. "Tommy, seriously, are you okay?" she asks quietly. She puts a gentle hand on his shoulder and he flinches away.

"Don't," he says sharply, and she pulls her hand back. "Don't touch me."

"Tommy–" she starts, reaching out again.

"No, please don't. Don't touch me, I don't want you to touch me." His words come out quick and strained. He's on the verge of a panic attack he isn't quite managing, and he lets some of it out in his voice.

"Okay," she says quickly, holding up her hands and moving away. "Okay, I'm sorry." He tries to take deep breaths and relax, and after another moment she asks, "Is it always that bad, with her?"

"Not always," he murmurs.

"Why haven't you found someone to help you?" she asks, and he turns sharply to frown at her. "I don't mean like, put her in a home or anything–"

"I will not put my mother in a home," he growls.

"I know!" she insists. "You've said that, I get it! I just mean, like, you could find a nurse or something, so you don't have to always do it all by yourself." She hesitates, and he groans internally, trying to will her not to say it, but she does anyway, in a small and tentative voice. "I could stay. I could help you."

He sneers. "I saw the way you helped tonight, Jude." She flinches, and he feels guilty even as the words leave his mouth.

It isn't fair of him to say. The fact is that his mom has been rapidly getting worse, and mistaking him for his father more and more often. When he first got here she often lost track of time, becoming easily disoriented, especially at night. Tristan had warned before he left about her tendency to wander out at night when she was confused and get lost even in familiar surroundings. But when Tommy's taxi pulled up in front of the house and he got out, clutching Jude's CD in his hands like a talisman, she recognized him. She was predictably cold about it, but she knew who he was, even though he hadn't seen her since he was 15. At first, she just seemed disoriented about how old he was, whether he was his ungrateful preteen delinquent self or the ungrateful adult Tom who abandoned her. She talked sometimes about needing to get to work, or muttered about needing a drink after a hard double shift, and got angry and argumentative when he reminded her she hadn't had a job for years. That part he can handle, because he had expected it when Tristan told him what was going on with her. She's often cruel, berating him for things he didn't do, or things he did 15 years ago. It's hardly fun, but it is, at least, no worse than the way things were when he was a kid.

The first time she called him "Mike" he was utterly confused, thinking she meant his friend Mike, and not understanding how she could possibly get them mixed up, but then she complained about how he couldn't be so irresponsible with his money once the baby came, and he realized who she thought he was. He could remember having seen pictures of his dad a handful of times when he was little, but couldn't remember anything about what the man looked like. He searched through the clutter in the basement, boxes from his grandmother's house that had never been cleared out after she died, and he finally found a couple of photographs tucked into an old bible. One was of his mom and grandmother, the other of his mom and dad standing in front of this house. His mom was pregnant with him, so she'd have been 19, which meant his dad must've been 23 or 24. In the picture with Mémère, his mom looked younger than he'd ever thought possible, and her face was brighter than he could ever remember seeing it. His memories from when he was a kid, even from the relatively happy time when Tristan's dad was still around, mainly have her looking either exhausted or angry. In the photo, she was laughing, her mouth open, grinning wide. She was wearing red lipstick and a bright flowered dress, and he almost didn't recognize her. It reminded him of something he couldn't quite place. It wasn't her looks, exactly, because she mostly just looked like his mom. It was something else, something about the way she laughed, something about how young she looked.

In the photo with his dad she was more subdued, but her smile was still bright and genuine. Despite never having known him, Tommy recognized his dad right away, because it could've been him staring up out of the photo. His dad had a more angular face and broader shoulders, and his hair was cropped shorter than Tommy had ever had his own, but otherwise they could've been twins. Tommy could immediately see his own face in his father's eyes, the line of his nose, his jawline. He wasn't smiling. He looked irritated, and Tommy recognized the way his lips pursed when he frowned. Even through a photograph, his dad had a sullen and intimidating air, like if you tried to talk to him he'd probably snap at you or call you an idiot, and Tommy couldn't help but wonder if he gives off the same vibe. He wondered why his mom, the way she was here in these pictures, would've wanted to be with a man like that. He realized suddenly who the bright young woman in the photo reminded him of, and his stomach lurched. He put the photos back in the book and snapped it shut, shoving it back into the box and leaving, trying to put it out of his mind for good.

Jude has just said something he didn't hear. "Tommy?" she sounds hurt, and he looks at her. "Seriously, do you really?"

"What? Do I what?"

"Was this really my fault, tonight? Did I do that? Am I the reason it was that bad?"

A big part of him wants to say yes, because then maybe she'll leave before this gets even worse, but he looks away, shakes his head and mutters, "She's bad at night. She's been getting worse." He sighs. "You should've just let me go, earlier. Why did you have to come after me like that?"

"Go where?" her voice is getting more insistent, pitching higher as she gets more upset. "Where were you even planning on going? Would you have come back?"

He gives a short, harsh laugh. "Wherever. Out. Anywhere but here." He stands up, turning away from her and linking his hands behind his head for a moment before dropping them. "I'd probably end up where I always end up. Meet Mike and Ryan, get drunk enough to forget this fucking day, leave with some girl." At this, he turns back to her with a cruel smile. "You know, like I do most nights." Jude looks as if he's hit her, and the guilt is like bile in his throat.

"Why would you say that?" Jude asks quietly, looking at him with hurt, betrayed eyes. "Why would you pretend that you'd cheat on me?"

"Maybe it's the truth," he says, raising an eyebrow. He's not sure why he's saying it, why he's taking this further. It isn't true, of course it isn't, but it's like picking at a scab, he can't stop until this wound is open and bleeding.

"No, it isn't," she says firmly. "I know it isn't."

"You sure about that? Really?" He keeps pushing her, raising his eyebrows, a challenge. He doesn't know if he imagines the flash of doubt in her eyes. "Maybe I do cheat on you, Jude. It's been six weeks I've been away. How do you know I haven't slept with every woman in the county?"

Jude stands up from the couch, looking angry. "Stop it!"

"You know what you want to believe, but do you know, Jude?"

"Shut up!" she cries, and he immediately regrets everything he's just said as tears fill her eyes.

"Hey, okay, shh," he tries to get her to quiet down, but he's gone way too far, and she's practically shouting.

"What the hell is wrong with you?! Are you breaking up with me? Is that what this is? Are you–"

"Jude!" he hisses, reaching out to grab her upper arms. "Quiet! You'll wake her, Jesus!" He softens his tone and lets her go. "Look, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said any of that, but you have to be quiet."

She lowers her voice, but her eyes are still teary and betrayed. "Are you breaking up with me?" she repeats, and her voice breaks. It sounds so high school, her tone when she says it. It instantly makes her seem even younger than her 18 years, especially accompanied by her trembling lower lip. He almost says so, almost mocks her, but he knows that's beyond unfair, that he goaded her into this, so he just groans and looks away. "Tommy!" she protests, her voice rising again.

He turns back to her sharply, hissing, "Quiet!" He shakes his head. "I can't do this. Not here, not right now."

"We need to talk about this!" she insists in a loud whisper. "You can't just–"

"Fine!" he snaps, exasperated. It comes out louder than he meant it, and he lowers his voice. "Jesus Christ, Jude, okay." He squeezes his eyes shut for a moment, willing all of this to disappear, then opens them again. He sighs. "Fine. But outside, or we'll wake her up, and I can't handle taking care of both of you at the same time." He sees that the comment lands, that she's hurt by the comparison, and it adds another gallon to the torrents of guilt. She follows him as he heads to the front door and steps out onto the porch. He leans against one of the posts, looking down at the ground, and they're silent for a long moment before Jude speaks.

"If you're going to break up with me, you could have the decency to just do it. If you don't want to be with me then just say that."

He looks up, meets her accusing eyes, and everything in him aches. It would be the right thing to do, to tell her he doesn't want to be with her, that she should go home. He should let her go, set her free. He tries to form the words, but he can't seem to do it. In the end he doesn't say anything, just looks away again.

"Why would you say that, about cheating on me?" she asks softly, her voice full of hurt. He just sighs, shaking his head, and her voice is even quieter when she asks, "Is it true?"

He looks up at her. "If I say yes, will that be enough to make you leave?"

She looks really scared now. "Tommy, did you… are you actually…"

"No," he says, because the fear in her eyes is finally too much. "No, of course not. I haven't. I wouldn't."

"Then why–"

"I don't know!" he cries, exasperated. "I don't know, Jude, I don't know why I said any of that. Maybe I thought it would be easier to make you hate me, maybe I just wanted to hurt you, I don't know. God! Why couldn't you just have stayed away like I told you to? Why did you have to do this? Why couldn't you trust that I had a reason for not wanting you here?"

"Because I love you!" she cries. "Why can't you believe that?!"

"You don't know me!" he shouts. "You have no idea who I am!"

"That's not true! How can you say that?" There are tears in her eyes again, and her voice breaks a little. "All I've ever wanted was to know you, Tommy! I hate that there's all of this stuff you won't share with me! If you think I don't know you, that's your fault, not mine!"

"You have no idea," he says softly, shaking his head. "You don't understand anything about this, about my childhood, about… You'll never understand, Jude."

"But I love you!" she protests again. Her eyes are wide and pleading. "I love you!" She says the words like they're magic, like it's all that matters. She takes the few steps required so she's standing right in front of him and whispers, "Don't you love me?" The words wind around his heart and squeeze tight, and he can't look away. "Tommy," the tears spill out and over her cheeks, "look me in the eye and tell me you don't love me, and I'll go, if that's what you want."

He reaches out and brushes away some of her tears with him thumb. "Jude, it's–"

"Tell me you don't love me." Her voice is ragged as she cuts him off.

He can't take it anymore, her big eyes and her tears and the fact that he does love her. If he lets it out, lets that feeling become bigger than his guilt and his fear and his anger, then he'll be begging her to stay, to take her with him, not to leave him alone in this place. So he doesn't say it, but he pulls her to him and kisses her hard as the dam bursts in his chest. She gives a small squeak of surprise, but she doesn't object, wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing him back. He weaves his fingers through her hair and pulls her around so she's the one with her back to the railing. The kissing is fierce and hungry and desperate, but he breaks away as abruptly as he started it. He pulls back suddenly and turns away from her, walking a few steps away and running a frustrated hand through his hair. When he turns back to Jude she's breathing hard, looking confused and hurt. She stares at him, open mouthed, and he gives a harsh sigh that's almost a growl. "It's not enough," he breathes, frustrated. "That's not the point." Jude seems at a loss for words. She looks dazed, lost. He looks away, down at the ground, and shakes his head. "This was never going to work. Our relationship has always had an expiration date."

"What?" she breathes. She looks scared. "But I–"

He doesn't think he can handle her saying she loves him again, so he cuts her off, speaking over her. "The man you think you love doesn't exist," he says harshly.

"That's not–"

He cuts her off again. "You love your pre-packaged Tommy Q," he says with disgust. "But he doesn't exist. That's a made up name for a made up person, and I'm sick of pretending, Jude! I can't do it anymore!"

"So don't!" she protests.

He shakes his head. "You have no idea." He says it firmly, harshly. He clenches his jaw and shakes his head again. "This was never going to work," he repeats, looking down at the ground again. "I'm sorry I let you think that it could." He tries to say it with as much finality as he can muster. Jude doesn't say anything, and he risks a look at her face. She looks hurt and betrayed and shocked, as if he's hit her. He can practically see her heart breaking, and it hurts even worse than he expected. "I'm sorry," he repeats, almost in a whisper. They look at each other for a long moment until Tommy can't take it anymore and looks away. He clears his throat and speaks to the ground. "You can stay the night, if you want to. You can have my bed, I'll take the couch. I'll call you a cab in the morning. I can pay for your return ticket too, if you want." Jude doesn't respond, but he can't look at her, so he just says, "My room is the second door on the right," and turns, keeping his eyes on the floor like the coward he is as he goes back inside.

He grabs his pajamas and a pillow from his bedroom, placing the pillow on the couch and heading to the bathroom to change. When he comes out, Jude isn't standing on his porch anymore, and his bedroom door is shut. It's better this way, he tries to tell himself. She's better off this way.

He can't sleep, despite his exhaustion. He can feel her on the other side of the wall, hurting yet again because of him. He tosses and turns and lies in restless half-sleep for hours. She's the only spot of warmth in this desolate frozen wasteland of a home, of a life, and she's only a wall away from him, a few inches of drywall and wood. He could go in, take her in his arms, apologize, tell her he loves her. It isn't too late. She'd forgive him. He doesn't have to lose her. It isn't too late.

It's the middle of the night and all of the walls in his head are coming crashing down and it's getting harder and harder to stay away. Finally he can't take it anymore. He can't live with this. He can't lose her, can't give her up.

He opens the door quietly. His bedroom is warm and smells like Jude. She's laying in his bed, curled up tight under the sheet with her face toward the wall. He recognizes the T-shirt she's wearing as one of his, one he must've left with her in Toronto. The sight of her wearing it makes his heart clench. He wonders if she wears it every night, if she thinks of him when she lays down to sleep.

She doesn't stir as he shuts the door and walks over to the bed. He knows she might not want him to, after the things he said, but he's aching to hold her. He slips between the threadbare sheets, the bed creaking loudly as he lays down, and Jude stirs, giving a small muffled hum, but she doesn't wake. What he wants is to put his arm over her waist and hold her, but he doesn't, settling instead for just laying next to her, feeling the warmth from her. After a few minutes, he sits up, reaching out a hand to brush the hair out of her face and says her name. Jude's a heavy sleeper, more than once he's had to shake her to get her to wake up, but she moves now as he strokes her hair, and slowly turns to him, opening her eyes. He whispers, "Hi," and she looks up at him, confused.

"Tommy?" she asks in a groggy voice.

"Hey." He gives a little half-smile.

"What are you…"

He sighs. "I'm sorry," he says softly. "I don't know how to… Earlier, everything was so…" He trails off, not knowing how to convey what he's trying to say. "I'm so sorry, Jude."

She stares at him for a long time. She's frowning slightly, but he can't quite read her expression. He half-expects her to kick him out, to tell him he's gone too far this time and they're over for good, but she doesn't. Instead she reaches up and puts a hand on the side of his face. "Okay." She nods, stroking his cheek with her thumb before dropping her hand. "It's okay, I get it."

"Yeah?" he asks, his voice tight.

She nods. "Yeah." She sighs. "Come here, lay down." He wants to, more than anything, but he hesitates. Jude rolls her eyes. "You already got in the bed, just lay with me." She moves closer to the wall so he has more room, and he lays down next to her. She pulls his arm over her waist and he pulls her to him, burying his face in her hair for a moment.

He kisses her shoulder and whispers, "I'm so sorry."

"I know," she whispers back.

After a moment he says, "I love you." His voice breaks. "I do. So much, Jude. Too much." He feels her sigh, and she squeezes his hand, but she doesn't say anything. "I wish I could be the man you deserve," he whispers.

Jude pulls away and turns over to look at him. "Don't say that," she says, emphatically. She puts a hand on the side of his face. "Tommy, you already are."

He shakes his head, sadly. "I think today proved that's not true."

She sighs. "You're dealing with a lot, with your mom, and I know my being here made it worse. I'm not saying I'm totally okay with everything you said, but I get it. I didn't mean to interfere, Tommy. I didn't mean to make this harder for you. I just missed you, but I shouldn't have come when you told me not to. I messed up too. Tonight sucked, and you reacted badly, that doesn't mean you don't deserve me. Seriously, don't say things like that."

He looks at her earnest expression for a moment, then sits up with a sigh, putting his head in his hands. "It's more than that, Jude." He feels her sit up next to him, but he doesn't look at her. "I try to be better, when I'm with you," he says so softly he's not sure she can hear. "I try to be better for you, but there are parts of me…"

"I don't care," Jude says firmly. He looks up at her, surprised. "Seriously, Tommy, I mean it. I get it, okay? I get that you're not perfect. The drinking, the fights, Mike and his stolen TVs. You think I don't understand, but I do. This place is part of you. The way you grew up is part of you, and I know that." She looks older than 18, as she says it. He's never seen this side of her, never heard her speak so calmly, sound so wise. "I know you try to keep that stuff from me because you think you're protecting me, but I don't need protecting, Tommy. You think I don't see you, but you're wrong about that. I always knew you had a past, and I didn't have to come here to figure that out. You don't have to pretend, with me." She reaches out, running her fingers through the hair at his temple. It reminds him of something his mémère used to do. "Tommy," she says his name gently. Her words are a caress. "I love you anyway. Not in spite of your past, because of it. You overcame so much to become the man you are. You can leave this place behind if you want to, you can be whoever you want to be, but you don't need to pretend the person you were isn't still part of you. Not with me. I love Tom Quincy, but I love Tom Dutois too, okay? I need you to believe that." She leans in, her hand on the side of his face, and kisses him softly. He kisses her back, his hand on her neck. She pushes him back down onto the pillows and gives him a few light kisses before curling into his side and laying her head on his chest.

He wraps his arms around her and feels like something has been unlocked inside his chest, inside his head. He's breaking open, walls are crumbling to dust. Jude has poked holes in his defenses before, enough to amaze and terrify him, but she's never demolished them like this before. No one has. She must be way more perceptive than he's given her credit for, because she's just said all the right things, addressed and assuaged fears he didn't know she even knew about. He's never let himself believe she understands him, not really, but everything she just said proves that she does, more than he'd have ever imagined. He thought he needed to stay away from her, for her own good, but maybe that was wrong. He needs her, now more than ever. "I'm in hell," he whispers, his voice cracking. "Being here with her, it's hell." There are suddenly tears in his eyes, and to his horror, a sob forces itself from his throat. He can't even remember the last time he cried in earnest. Not just the threat of it, not only a couple of tears, but a real cry. He didn't even cry when Angie died. Maybe he hasn't since he was a little kid. He wasn't even sure he still could.

Jude sits up, looking down at him in surprise. His instinct is to cringe away from her pity, but when she reaches out a hand to wipe a tear from the corner of his eye he doesn't want to cringe or run away or hide his face, he wants her to know. He wants to tell her how he feels and have her comfort him. He sits up as the tears start coming faster, putting his head in his hands, and Jude puts a hand on his back.

"I thought I could handle it," he says after a moment, taking a breath and bringing the crying back under control. "I thought I wouldn't let her get to me, but it's… It's so hard, Jude, she's so… She gets like that and I'm right back to being ten years old hiding in closets. It's so stupid because I'm bigger than her, I have been since I left home. She couldn't hurt me even if she tried. And anyway, she's sick, she's not… It's not her fault. But fuck, she shouts, she calls me worthless, and I can't not feel it. She gets to me, I can't help it. It's not her fault, she's sick, she's scared, she doesn't understand what's going on, but I can't help it, Jude, I hate her. This is hell." His voice fades back to a whisper on the last few words. Jude is sitting close, rubbing his back lightly.

When he's silent for a long moment, she says his name, softly, and he looks over at her. She reaches out and wipes the tears gently from his cheeks. "You don't have to do it alone." He sighs and looks away, and she says, more emphatically, "You don't, Tommy."

He looks back at her and shakes his head. "Look, I… I love you, but having you here… It would make things harder, not easier. It's not your fault, and it's not about hiding things from you, but I would be… I would worry about you, I wouldn't be able to…" He shakes his head again. "Having two different parts of my life in the same place like this, it's… It would make things harder. I don't want to be away from you, I don't, believe me, but you staying here, that's not going to help."

"Okay." Jude nods. "I understand."

He sighs and looks away again. "I wish none of this…" he trails off with another sigh.

After a moment of silence, Jude speaks again, softly. "Come home."

He looks up at her. "I can't, not yet. I can't make Tristan give up his job. And anyway, he's been looking after her for years, it wouldn't be fair. He deserves a break from it."

"So hire someone. A nurse, someone who can stay with her full-time until your brother comes back. There are people who know how to take care of Alzheimer's patients. She'd be okay, she'd be taken care of. You'd still be providing for her, but you don't have to do all of this anymore."

"She's my mom," he sighs. "She's my family, I have to–"

"You don't owe her anything," Jude cuts him off. "You don't, Tommy. I know she's your mom, but she sure doesn't act like one."

"She's sick," he protests.

"That's not what I meant. It's not about what she does now. The way she treated you when you were a kid? It wasn't okay. That's not being a mom." He's about to protest, but Jude reads his mind. "Just because it usually wasn't physical, that doesn't make any of it okay. The way she spoke to you, the terrible things she said, making you sleep outside, denying you food when she was angry, all of that is abuse, and none of it is okay." Something nags at him, because he's never told her any of that, has never told anyone, but Jude keeps talking and the thought slips from his mind. "And it doesn't matter that you got in fights or vandalized things or talked back, that doesn't mean it was okay. You were a kid, Tommy. And all of the shit she went through with your dad, the fact that she was an alcoholic, none of that excuses it either. She gave up her right to be your mom a long time ago. She doesn't deserve you. You can't blame yourself for any of it, and you owe her nothing. You've already done so much more for her than she deserves." He looks away, but she puts her hand on his cheek again and turns his face gently to look at her. "Come home." She strokes his cheek with her thumb and her eyes are wide and sincere and beautiful. "You deserve to be happy, Tommy. Come home to me."

He puts his hand on the side of her face and leans in, resting his forehead against hers. "Okay," he whispers. He pulls back to look her in the eyes and nods, saying it again, more sure this time. "Okay. You're right. I'm coming come." The words are such a monumental relief he almost laughs. Jude smiles and he feels lighter than he has since Tristan called him and burst their perfect bubble. He says, "I love you," and he's never meant it more.

"I love you too," she breathes before his lips crash down on hers. He weaves his fingers through her hair and deepens the kiss as she climbs on top of him, straddling his lap. She swivels her hips, grinding against him, and he moans into her mouth. She smiles against his lips and tugs at the hem of his T-shirt. He pulls back just long enough to pull it over his head, then pulls her mouth back to his. She pushes him back down on the bed and he runs his hand up her thigh, pushing up the hem of her silky nightgown. She moves, kissing down his chest, and God he's missed this. Missed her lips on his and her skin under his fingers, missed this big bed and his Egyptian cotton sheets and not having to worry about his mom…

He freezes. "Wait." He looks around him at the room, his bedroom in his apartment in Toronto. His heart plummets, and he breathes, "No…"

Jude stops what she's doing, looks up at him, concerned. "What's wrong?"

He wakes with a jolt to light coming in through the living room window and a sharp pain in his neck. He tries to stay as still as he can, like maybe he'll be able to get back to the dream that's already fading away, but it's no use. He hears the water running in the bathroom and isn't sure if he hopes it's Jude or if he'd actually rather deal with his mom. The dream Jude is fading quickly and what's left is the reality of what he's done, that he broke up with her last night, ended things for good, and that he needs to stick with that decision. For a second the remnants of the dream taunt him with the possibility that maybe he can still fix this, maybe she'd understand, maybe he can tell her the truth and she'll tell him she loves him for all of himself and he'll believe her, but…

The harder he tries to believe in the version of reality in the dream, the more he's haunted by the memory of Jude's face after he told her it wasn't going to work, of her getting screamed at by his mom, of the look on her face on her 18th birthday when she walked in on him and Sadie, of Hunter's knife against her throat. She deserves better than him, and she always has. The fantasy of her telling him she understands him, forgives the terrible things he does, even loves him for the person he was before he met her? It's worse than unrealistic, it's selfish. He's hurting her, hurting her, hurting her, but what choice does he have? He should've walked away the second he felt himself falling for his 15-year-old artist, but he didn't, instead he just let them both get pulled deeper and deeper in. She only wants him because she doesn't know any better.

He thinks of his mom in her flowered dress and her bright, carefree laughter and how quickly and completely his dad must've crushed that out of her for him to not have a single memory of her looking happy.

The bathroom door opens, and Tommy sits up as Jude walks out. She's dressed, but even though she's carefully applied her makeup, he can still see immediately from her red and puffy eyes that she must've spent most of the night crying, and his heart twists into a painful knot. She catches his eye and he sees the flash of pain before her expression hardens. "I made coffee," she says quietly.

"Thanks," he replies, and then they sit in awkward silence for a long moment before he breaks it. "Do you, uh, have a return flight, or–"

"Yes." She cuts him off, hard and sharp.

"Do you want me to–"

"No." She doesn't let him finish. He sees her eyes are filled with tears again.

He sighs. "Fine." He turns away from her and puts his head in his hands.

"You can have your room back in a minute," she says in a quiet, choked voice. "I just need to put some stuff back in my bag."

"Okay," he says with another sigh. "It's fine, take your time." When he hears the door shut, he gets up and goes to his mom's room to check on her. He's pretty sure he'd have woken up if she'd tried to wander out in the night, but he needs to check anyway, to make sure she's still there. As he opens her door he thinks of Jude saying "you owe her nothing," and he pushes the thought away.

His mom is still in bed, still sleeping, so he quietly shuts the door again and starts back down the hallway just as Jude opens the door to his bedroom with her bag slung over her shoulder. His chest aches again at the sight of her. She looks up, surprised for a second to see him standing so close. "Jude…" he starts. Their eyes meet, and something in his expression must be betraying what he's feeling because she starts to look hopeful. He clears his throat and looks away. "I, uh, I need to get…" he points behind her into the room. "Sorry."

"Right," she says. He forces himself not to openly wince at the pain in her voice as she steps out of the way.

His bedroom is warm and smells like Jude. He glances at the unmade bed and has an awful premonition of himself after she leaves curling up in the bed with his face pressed into the pillow she used, of not being able to bring himself to wash her coffee mug, of listening to the demo of her song on repeat until he wants to tear his heart out of his chest. He tells himself he'll wash the sheets as soon as she goes, but knows he won't.

Jude is sitting at the kitchen counter when he comes out, looking down at the mug in her hands. He watches her for a long moment before breaking the silence. "I, uh, don't have any pop tarts, sorry."

She flinches and he regrets the joke. "Don't," she says in a low voice.

Tommy sighs and goes to pour himself a cup of coffee, leaning against the counter. They remain in tense silence for what feels like hours before Jude breaks it.

"My cab should be here in a few minutes. You'll get rid of me soon."

"It isn't like that, Jude," he says with another heavy sigh.

"Then tell me to stay," she shoots back.

He shakes his head. "I told you not to come. We could've–"

"Oh, sure, so this is my fault! If I hadn't showed up everything would be totally fine, right? We'd have no problems at all?!"

He looks up and meets her angry eyes. "No. You're right," he says evenly. "It would've just been delaying the inevitable."

"How can you say that?" she protests. He just shakes his head again and falls silent, looking down at the floor. "You're really doing this," she says after a minute. Her voice doesn't sound angry anymore, just hurt. "You're really breaking up with me." He squeezes his eyes shut, but still doesn't say anything. "Tommy," her voice cracks on his name and he looks up. There are tears in her eyes and a few on her cheeks. She looks hurt and betrayed and so very very young.

"I'm sorry," he says softly. She looks away and shakes her head. "I am, Jude," he insists. "I'm… I really am so sorry."

"Don't tell me you're sorry!" she cries, looking back at him. "You don't have to be sorry, don't do this!"

"It's already done. It was done the second you decided to come here after I told you not to."

"What part of I love you is so hard for you to understand?!" she protests.

He clenches his jaw. "No. You don't, Jude. You love Tommy Q," he says the name with disgust, "you love the guy you think I am, the person I pretend to be. But I'm not him. I never have been. And Tom Dutois? He'd never even make it past your front door."

"That's not true," she insists. The Jude in his dream says, you don't need to pretend, says, I understand, this place is a part of you, I love you for this too. The Jude in front of him says, "This isn't you."

It hurts like a punch to the gut. He shakes his head. "You have no idea who I am," he says, harshly. "And that is why we're done, Jude."

She stares at him for a long moment, open-mouthed, before saying, "Why is it always so easy for you to throw us away?"

Easy? He reels at the word. How can she possibly think anything about this is easy for him? Can she really not see that his heart is breaking? He sets his mug on the counter and closes the distance between them, slowly, keeping his eyes locked on hers. He lets the pain into his expression and feels tears pricking at the backs of his eyes. He walks to her side of the counter so he's standing right in front of her and reaches out a hand, brushing the hair out of her face and behind her ear. He pulls her face gently towards his, touching his forehead to hers for a moment. This all feels so final, feels like the last time he'll ever get to touch her. He pulls back, steps away, and shakes his head, sets his jaw, hardens his expression again. "Because I'm not good enough for you."

Her frustration boils over and she stands up from the chair. "I am so sick of hearing about how awful you think you are! How you're not worthy! It's bullshit! It's pathetic, self-pitying bullshit, Tom!" He doesn't protest, just nods along as she yells at him. "When you finally come to your senses, you can find me back in the studio." He can tell she says the words as harshly as she can. She turns on her heel, picking her bag up from the floor and storming out of the house, pulling the door shut behind her.

Tommy watches the door for a long moment, feeling the sound of the slamming reverberating through his hollow chest. He's done it, for good this time. He's lost her.

His mom's bedroom door opens and she storms out. "What the hell is wrong with you?!" she cries. "My one day off in months, and I can't even get a little sleep? You are so–"

Rage surges in him and he cuts her off, shouting, "Shut the fuck up!" She does, stunned into silence, and he storms past her and into his bedroom, where it's warm and dark and the scent of the only happy future he's ever believed in still lingers on the sheets.