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Title: Another (3 / 3)
Author: [livejournal.com profile] millionstar
Pairing: Matthew/Dominic AU
Rating: PG
Beta/Support: [livejournal.com profile] dolce_piccante. Thank you to J, M and A for input as well.
Here There Be: Angst, Mentions of Abuse
Summary: How do you help someone out of a toxic situation when they don’t realize they’re in one to begin with?
Author’s Note: If you choose to read, as always, thank you. It means so much.

One | Two


Dominic knocked on the door and waited. He rocked back and forth on his feet, arms crossed. At one point, he felt certain that he could hear activity within the flat; he pressed his ear against the door for a better listen.

Silence. Then, footsteps.

Frustration was beginning to get the better of him. One thing was certain, he wasn’t going anywhere until he’d laid eyes on Matthew to make sure he was alright. Matthew clearly wasn’t going to open the door, so Dominic was forced to be patient. He had just begun to wonder if perhaps Matthew simply wasn’t in when he saw a potential solution to his predicament. He peeked up and down the corridor. Seeing that he was practically alone, his steps grew with purpose as he approached the red fire alarm.

He didn’t have to think twice as he pulled the lever, a raucous, shrill alarm cutting into the morning. Dominic stayed a few feet back from Matthew’s door and waited. It didn’t take long before people began filing out into the hall, walking hurriedly with purpose to the lobby. Dominic leaned against the wall, his eyes never leaving Matthew’s door.

Just then, a figure emerged in a hooded sweatshirt, hood pulled tightly down on his head. He kept his eyes down and started walking - until Dominic reached out and grabbed his arm.

Matthew lept back against the wall, holding both hands up over his face as he sank to the floor. It was a pose that he shifted into quite naturally, as though he’d had a lot of practice cowering in fear.

“Wait, no,” Dominic breathed. He realized, too late, that he shouldn’t have touched Matthew the way he just had. “No, no, I’m sorry, let me help you,” he looked up and covered his mouth with his hand. “Oh, Matthew.”

Matthew’s hood had fallen back from his face, revealing a black eye that was swollen shut and an angry cut across one cheekbone. Quickly, he put his hood back up and started walking down the hall.

“Wait! I need to talk to you.”

“There’s a fucking fire alarm,” Matthew pointed out, glaring at Dominic with his good eye.

“No there isn’t,” Dominic blurted out. “You wouldn’t open your door so I activated it to get you out of your flat, so I could make sure you were okay.”

Matthew had stopped walking. He shook his head incredulously and stalked back in the direction of his flat, Dominic hot on his heels. “You are unbelievable. Leave me the fuck alone. Haven’t you done enough?” he asked, one hand on his doorknob.

“Listen, I just want to talk-”

“What do you want to talk about?” Matthew asked suddenly, turning to Dominic. “What do you want from me?”

Dominic was taken aback; he flinched. “I-I don’t want anything, I-”

“No. Let’s talk. Let’s fucking do this. What do you want to talk about? My eye? The blood on my bathroom floor from this cut? The fact that he burned the notebooks with my lyrics in them last night? All but one. Gone.”

Dominic was stunned into silence.

“Come on,” Matthew urged, his voice more angry than Dominic had ever heard it before. “Come on, Dominic, pick a topic. I’ll brew a fucking pot of tea and serve you some crumble and we’ll just hash it out, yeah? If you’re lucky, he’ll come home and find you here and you can watch him punish me for speaking to you. Would you like that? I mean-”

“Stop it,” Dominic whispered.

“-if you’re super lucky, he’ll bruise my other eye. Then we’ll really have something to talk about, won’t we, Dominic? And when we’re done, you can go running to Tom to brief him on poor, pathetic Matthew. About how he’s too much of a pussy to stand up to his partner. About how he’s absolutely ruined his life. About how he’s nothing but a pathetic coward. About…” Matthew burst into sudden tears, both hands covering his face as he sank to the floor. His body shook violently with sobs, his head between his knees, hands on his ankles. “Oh my God, what am I going to do? What am I going to do?”

Dominic knelt next to Matthew, one hand on Matthew’s shoulder. He allowed the other man to continue to cry; it was apparent that Matthew desperately needed to get the stress and anxiety out of his system. The fire alarm had finally subsided, but neither of them had noticed. After a few moments people began to make their way back into the building. Dominic gently eased Matthew up. “Let’s get you inside, yeah? Don’t want anyone else to see you upset.”

Matthew allowed it. He took Matthew’s arm and waited as Matthew unlocked the door. Once inside, he turned to Dominic, dabbing the tears from his good eye. “I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to be.”

“Still, I am. You didn’t deserve that. None of this is your fault. It’s every bit my fault.”

“No. It’s Ian’s fault. Surely you are tired of living this way?”

“Of course I’m tired of it. I don’t have a choice.”

“There’s always a choice.”

“It’s not that easy. I don’t have anything of my own. He has the credit cards. All of the money. He gives me a weekly allowance. The car is in his name. He got rid of my mobile. I have nothing with which to start a new life. I have absolutely nothing without him - he’s seen to that.” It was the closest thing to an admission of the truth that Matthew had offered thus far.

“You have me.”

Matthew tried to mask it but Dominic had seen the way his demeanor had shifted slightly at his words.

“I know you felt it too, from the moment I first bumped into you and you ended up with my briefs on your head. If that isn’t a fucking fairytale-style meeting, I don’t know what is.”

Matthew looked at Dominic, not speaking, seemingly not even breathing.

“You’re all I think about, Matthew.”

Matthew remained silent.

“I know you’re frightened. I won’t ask you not to be, but,” he took Matthew’s hands in his own, squeezing them as fresh tears gathered in Matthew’s good eye, “I can help you through it. All you have to do is say the word and we’re out of here. You don’t need to pack anything, all you need to do is take that first step and let me know when you do. I’ll take you far, far away - away from Ian, away from all of this.”

“You barely know me. I might not live up to your expectations.”

Dominic cupped Matthew’s face with his hand, Matthew leaning into his touch. “Is that what he tells you?”

“It’s what I tell myself.”

“How long have you been with him?”

Matthew stepped over to the window, Dominic’s palm instantly mourning the loss of contact. “Five years.”

“And how long has he been abusing you?”

“Four and a half.”

“That’s a long time to live in fear.”

“Yeah,” Matthew whispered.

“Look, I’d love to get to know you better, make no mistake, but right now I just want you away from him. Am I being selfish? Yes, because, my god Matthew,” Dominic exhaled shakily, “you are beautiful and kind and a permanent fixture in my mind. And, I’ve realized something - in three and a half months, I’ve never seen you smile, not once. I want to give you that, I want to make you smile until your face positively aches from it.”

“You just got here and you’re going to pull up ties for me?”

“I’ve not been here long enough to put down ties, not really. Besides, you’re worth it.”

Matthew’s breath hitched in his throat. “How do you know? If I were worth it, surely Ian wouldn’t see fit to treat me the way he does.”

“Ian is an abusive individual, and I won’t claim to know why or how he rationalizes his actions in regards to you. But, I do know that you’re worth it. I’ve never been more certain of anything in my life. Can you give me one reason to not take me up on this?” Dominic asked, gingerly gifting Matthew’s swollen eye with a feather-light kiss.

“I don’t know.”

“Aren’t you tired of being scared? Of being put in physical danger? Of the constant emotional blackmail?”

“Yes.”

“Then come with me, now. We can be gone before Ian even comes home, and I promise you that you’ll never have to come back.”

“I’m not that brave,” Matthew said, “I’m not sure that I know how to be anymore.”

“There’s no way I’m leaving you alone with him to be hurt again. Please, Matthew-” Dominic trailed off, taking a deep breath. He didn’t want to put more pressure on Matthew than was necessary. It had to be Matthew’s decision and Matthew’s decision alone to walk away from his situation. “I’m sorry. Look, I’ll go now. I don’t mean to pressure you, forgive me.”

“Forgive you? There’s nothing to forgive.”

“I mean it. All you have to do is knock on my door. Okay?” He reached for Matthew’s hand and brought it to his lips, leaving a kiss against Matthew’s knuckles. “I just want you safe.” Dominic went to release Matthew’s hand, but Matthew held on firmly, while staring down at their joined hands for a few seconds before letting go.

Dominic had been back in his flat for about thirty minutes when his doorbell rang. Expecting to see Tom, he was stunned to see Matthew standing there, a notebook in his hand.

“I’m ready,” he whispered, tears running down his cheeks.

*   *   *

They’d been driving for 7 hours; the clock on the dashboard of Dominic’s car read 1.02 AM. Dominic had no idea where they were.

He didn’t care.

Most of their ride had been smooth so far, Dominic driving, Matthew napping in the passenger seat, and much to Dominic’s horror, occasionally crying out in his sleep, his legs twitching. He wondered what sort of nightmares lived inside Matthew’s psyche, and how long it would take him to be able to finally be shed of them.

Matthew stirred, Dominic reaching for his hand. Matthew turned to Dominic, his bruised eye illuminated by the streetlights, and gripped Dominic’s hand tightly. They rode in silence for few more miles, until Matthew finally spoke.

“He’d stopped kissing me.”

Dominic glanced at Matthew, but didn’t pry, didn’t rush him. If Matthew wanted to get something off his chest, Dominic was here to listen, support and nurture him, but he had absolutely no intention of pressuring him to talk about the things he’d lived through these last few years.

“I can’t remember why, exactly, it was a form of punishment for who knows what - but he began to withhold kisses from me, and that was one of the things I missed the most, at first. Apparently I’d grown accustomed to it because I only realized it when you kissed my eye. That’s the first kiss I’ve received in over two years. Well, that’s not true - he kissed me in the bakery that day but that was strictly for your benefit, to make certain you understood that he owned me. Kisses are a funny thing. They’re simple in physical execution, but have the power and potential to convey feelings that are the textbook definition of complex. I like that dichotomy: a basic act that can elicit earth-shattering emotions.”

Dominic’s heart did a little flip. He liked it also.

“When you kissed my bruised eye there was more emotion in it than any kiss to the lips he ever gave me. It feels like you saved me.”

“No. You saved you. You took that first step - and I’m proud of you.”

“I…I guess I did.”

They found a hotel a couple of hours later and decided to stop to get some sleep. T, they took turns showering, Dominic giving Matthew some of his clothes to change into. Dominic then dimmed the lights and each of them climbed onto one of the two large beds in the room. His head had barely hit the pillow when he heard Matthew speak.

“Dominic?”

“Hmm?”

“May I lie with you?”

Dominic wanted desperately to say “Yes. My god, yes, because I’ve wanted nothing more than to gather you into my arms since the day I first saw you.” Instead he smiled softly and said “Of course you may.” He turned over, stretching as Matthew laid down beside him.

“Can I hold you?” Dominic whispered.

Matthew didn’t hesitate. He burrowed closer to Dominic, Dominic pulling him into his arms. The two of them sighed and held on to each other as though the existence of everything in space and time depended on it. Dominic buried his nose in Matthew’s hair, his arms caressing Matthew’s back through his t-shirt. He smelled of shampoo, he felt impossibly warm. Nothing had ever felt better than this - to that end, Dominic couldn’t help himself; he dropped a kiss to the top of Matthew’s head. Words, like a sudden spring storm, began to join and form thoughts in his mind, composing things that he wanted to say to Matthew so badly-

My arms were made to hold you.

You don’t have to be afraid anymore.

I love the sound of your voice.


-but he was afraid of overwhelming Matthew. There would be plenty of time, he hoped, for such sentiments to be given a voice. Now all he wanted was for Matthew to have peace and quiet and time to heal, so he was surprised when Matthew spoke softly against his neck.

“You dominated my thoughts, you know.”

“And you dominated mine, so we’re even,” Dominic replied. Matthew looked up at Dominic with an exhausted, yet curious expression.

“I wondered about the little things. 1. What does he like to eat first thing in the morning? 2. What makes him smile? 3. What’s his favorite color? 4. How it would feel to kiss him? Now, I am wondering if you’re even real, if this is a dream and I will wake up soon and be back there, with him.”

Dominic scooted down in the bed so that he was face to face with Matthew. He reached for Matthew’s hand, linking their fingers together. “Let’s see. 1. Waffles. I’m an absolute waffle whore. 2,” he smiled at Matthew, “More than anything, beauty makes me smile.” Dominic couldn’t be sure but he thought that for a moment he saw the corners of Matthew’s mouth turn up slightly. “3. My favorite color is green. As for the kiss, well, the answer to that one is difficult to convey with words, you know?”

“Perhaps there’s another way to convey it.”

It took a mighty effort on his part, but Dominic was able to resist the urge to lean in and kiss Matthew silly until they were both breathless from it. He smoothed back the hair from Matthew’s eyes. “I want to, I won’t lie, but Matthew, you’re so fragile. You’ve been through a horrible ordeal and I don’t want you to feel pressured into anything, I-”

“But, I’m not so fragile that I would break beneath your kiss,” Matthew replied. “Truth be told, I feel like a kiss from you would make my soul absolutely sing for the first time in years, and I don’t want to wait any longer to find out if I’m right.”

Dominic considered his situation. Here he was, sharing a bed with the man he’d spent the better part of the last three months dreaming about and Matthew was asking Dominic to kiss him.

Dominic was only human, you see.

Any reservations he’d been holding fast to began to dissipate when he leaned in and gently pressed his lips to Matthew’s. They both sighed into the kiss, each of them trembling in each other’s arms. Matthew’s lips were impossibly soft and warm, and they felt precisely as perfect beneath Dominic’s own as Dominic had suspected they would. It was a slow, sweet, exploratory kiss, but it shook them both to their cores. They parted, gasping for air, Matthew burying his face in Dominic’s neck again, holding him tighter than he had yet.

“You know,” Dominic began, Matthew looking up at him quizzically, “I have to admit that most of the time I spent thinking about you was spent wondering if and praying that you were safe. There’s so much I want to find out about you.”

“You can ask me anything at all.”

“It’s late, we’re both shattered. Maybe just one question tonight?”

Matthew nodded.

“Boxers or briefs?”

Initially, Matthew blinked, one eyebrow raising before he eventually smiled, chuckling. Dominic giggled, watching as Matthew dragged one hand over his tired face while shaking his head with a wry laugh. He looked up at Dominic and said, softly:

“Neither.”

The smile left Dominic’s face, his mouth forming an ‘o’. His reaction made Matthew smile even wider, and Dominic reckoned that it was indeed a sight to behold. There it was, the smile that Dominic had been so very eager to experience.

“Maybe some more questions tomorrow, yeah?”

Dominic nodded, giggling. “We’ve got plenty of time for that now, don’t we? I mean… if you want, that is?”

“I want,” Matthew affirmed. He scanned Dominic’s face with his good eye, Dominic shivering when Matthew traced his cheekbone with the pad of his thumb. “Believe me, I want.” Suddenly, Matthew frowned for a beat.

Dominic spotted it and bit his lip. “What’s wrong?”

“I just… our first kiss, and I look like,” he gestured to his swollen eye, “this.”

He looked down at Matthew and shook his head gently, anger simmering in his heart. He literally couldn’t understand how anyone could willfully hurt such a gentle creature. “You look like the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen,” he whispered.

Matthew yawned and blushed at the same time, and the sight made Dominic smile. He pulled Matthew closer, reveling in his warmth. “Do you think you’ll be able to sleep tonight?”

A dark mop of hair nodded against his chest. “I think so - as long as you don’t let me go.”

Dominic knew, in that moment, that he never would.

“Thank you, Dominic.”

“For what?”

“You made my soul sing again.”
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