“I don’t know,” Daaem admitted.
“Are you going to give up again and kill yourself?” Adam asked bluntly. “Or are you going to fight?”
“I have been fighting!” Daaem screamed. He’d been fighting all along. Wasn’t he allowed to be tired? Wasn’t he allowed to want it to stop?
“No, you haven’t. You were fighting but you stopped. Somewhere along the line, you threw in the towel. Why?” Adam was relentless.
“I was tired,” Daaem said miserably. “There was no point anyway and I was so tired… It didn’t make sense to keep beating a dead horse.”
“So now what?” Adam asked, unsympathetic. “You’ve stopped fighting. Taken a nice long break too. When are you going to get back up? Or are you just going to spend the rest of your life curled up in a ball?”
“What’s wrong with that?” Daaem protested. “Why do I have to keep going? There’s no point, don’t you understand that?”
“You don’t have to keep trying, Daaem. You can give up right now. Tell me you want to give up and I’ll leave right now and let you do it.” Adam looked expectantly at him.
The words stuck in his throat. He wanted, so badly, to just be left alone. Didn’t he? But the words wouldn’t come.
“Help me,” fell from his lips instead.
Adam grinned. “All you had to do was ask.”
“I thought you’d be spouting a bunch of religious nonsense at me, you know.” Daaem said, looking Adam up and down.
“It’s not nonsense. And would it have helped to tell you to pray?”
“No,” Daaem scoffed.
“I didn’t think so. If you want to pray then do – it’ll never hurt. But you were never going to listen to that advice. And fixing yourself has more to it than just prayer. Now stop avoiding the question – what do you want?”
“I want you to go away,” Daaem muttered.
“You already know how to get that. What else?” Adam asked, undeterred. “There must be something else you want. Everyone has goals.”
“It’s… stupid,” Daaem admitted.
“Even better. What?” Adam arched his eyebrows.
Daaem shook his head. “Never mind. It’s impossible, anyway.”
“Daaem, stop being a drama queen. What is it?”
“Fine,” Daaem gave in, exasperated. “I want my father to love me and I want Aabirah back and I want to fly to the moon, just for something nice and easy.”
“Your father does love you,” Adam said immediately. “He wouldn’t be taking the time out of his day to make sure you’re alive if he didn’t love you.”
“He doesn’t talk to me. And this isn’t the first time he’s stopped talking to me. He did it for years once,” Daaem said petulantly.
“I didn’t say the two of you had a wonderful relationship, I said he loved you. And if you want him to talk to you, maybe you should talk to him,” Adam suggested.
“But that’s hard. I know. Do it anyway.”
“You’re not a very nice person,” Daaem said grumpily.
“Yes, I know,” Adam agreed. “But I’m the best you’ve got right now.”
Talk to his father. As if it was so easy. He hadn’t started a conversation with his father in years – well, if you didn’t count the ones when he was yelling.
Daaem didn’t even know how to start a conversation with Ameer. And what if Ameer ignored him?
His father had come in and gotten back to the door without him noticing.
“Wait!” Daaem blurted out.
Ameer turned to look at him.
Daaem opened his mouth then squeezed his eyes shut. He still didn’t know what to say. “Never mind. Sorry.”
“Daaem, what is it?” Ameer asked, coming back. He took a seat opposite Daeem. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Daaem shook his head again. “It’s fine, you can go. Sorry.”
Ameer didn’t move. “I’m not going anywhere. Tell me what’s wrong right now.”
“Nothing!” Daaem was started to get annoyed. “Nothing is wrong, I just – I wanted to talk to you, okay?”
“About what?” Ameer sat down opposite Daaem and looked at him expectantly.
“Nothing,” Daaem repeated.
Ameer looked exasperated. “You wanted to talk about nothing?”
“No! Look, just forget about it! You can go.” What had he been thinking?
“No, tell me whatever you wanted to tell me,” Ameer insisted.
“I didn’t want to – I just wanted to talk to you, okay?” Daaem admitted awkwardly.
“About what?” Ameer pressed.
“Noth – I don’t know. I just… wanted to talk.”
Ameer smiled. “Alright, we’ll talk.”
“How are you feeling?”
Daaem groaned. “Really?”
“You wanted to talk,” Ameer pointed out, amused.
“I – not as bad,” Daaem admitted.
“Will I be getting another call to rush down to a hospital?”
Daaem shook his head. “I don’t think so. I… I don’t want to any more.”
“Good,” Ameer nodded decisively. “Do you understand how ridiculously stupid that was?”
Daaem’s mouth dropped open. “You’re yelling at me about it now?”
“Should I leave you be?” Ameer asked pleasantly.
“No, but you don’t have to-”
“You don’t get to have it both ways, Daaem. If you want me in your life, I’m going to behave like a parent. And part of that duty is yelling at you until your ears ring for doing something as idiotic as slitting your wrists!”
“My ears are already ringing,” Daaem murmured, petulant.
“Well, get used to it,” Ameer told him crossly. Contrary to his words, he’d softened his voice.
“How are your arms?” he asked worriedly.
“Fine, everything’s healed.”
“Did you get checked out completely? No problems from the crash?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Daaem nodded.
“Good. When are you coming back into work?”
Daaem looked up, astonished. “You want me to come back in?”
“Of course, you need to get back into the swing of it eventually.”
“But I thought… never mind.” Daaem was beginning to realize that a lot of the things he’d thought were wrong.
“You thought I didn’t want you to come back,” Ameer said flatly.
“I messed up so much,” Daaem shrugged.
“You made mistakes. Awful ones. That’s life, Daaem. It’s your company at the end of the day. You need to take care of it.”
“Then you’re not taking it back?” Daaem checked.
“No, why would I do that? I don’t need the stress.”
“Because I don’t deserve it,” Daaem said, matter-of-fact. “You made me work so hard to get it and I was messing up so much. I thought you were taking it away.”
Ameer sighed. “Daaem, I made you work hard because you weren’t ready. And because I needed to be sure you truly wanted it. Not because I was trying to find a reason to keep it away from you.”
“Is that why you…” Ameer trailed off.
Daaem winced but didn’t deny it. “It wasn’t the only reason,” he hurried to assure Ameer, feeling absurdly guilty.
“But it was part of it?”
“Yeah,” Daaem whispered, looking at his knees. “It was part of it.”
“I’m so sorry, son,” Ameer whispered.
“It’s okay,” Daaem said, surprised to find that he meant it. It was okay. He was okay.