Chapter Thirty Nine
Daaem had, despite himself, begun to like Adam, though he still thought the older man was insane. In the past few weeks, Daaem had found himself letting his guard down around Adam and though a part of him still whispered that he would regret it, he’d begun to enjoy talking to the unflappable man.
He was never shocked by what Daaem had to say – and Daaem had tried to elicit some kind of reaction, petulantly relating his worst actions and most obnoxious beliefs. Adam had simply nodded or hummed and made him keep going. It had been infuriating at the time but now Daaem had come to appreciate it.
He’d been discharged from the hospital after a week, once he’d finally worn down Dr. Brown. He had had to capitulate and answer some of her questions but it hadn’t been nearly as bad as he’d thought it would be. She’d been satisfied far sooner than the therapists he’d seen when he was a teenager.
There was a cursory knock at the door. Daaem ignored it. Answering would make no difference – whether or not he wanted company didn’t matter to the man on the other side of the door.
Sure enough, when he looked up, the door was already open and his father was shutting it behind him.
Ameer gave him a once-over, nodded to himself then walked back out, locking up behind himself. He’d done the same thing every day since Daaem had been released from the hospital. He never spoke, just came in and stared at Daaem for a few minutes before leaving again.
The first day, Daaem had thrown a fit, furious that Ameer had made a copy of his keys but there had been no response. Ameer had just turned and walked out.
Now, he’d become accustomed to the strange visits even though they still grated on his nerves. He didn’t know why Ameer refused to talk but knowing that the visits would not be accompanied by lectures had taken away much of his dread.
Daaem hadn’t tried again either. He felt strangely reluctant for some reason that even he didn’t understand. Nothing had truly changed in two weeks but the determination he’d felt when holding a blade to his arms had turned into… something else. It made no sense to him but he was oddly reluctant to pick up another knife.
He’d thought about asking Adam whether it was normal for suicidal people to not change their minds but still not try again but he’d thought better of it. Adam didn’t need to know everything. To date, Daaem had avoided any mention of Aabirah and he would continue to do so. Adam had also heard little about Daaem’s parents. His family was a can of worms that he wouldn’t be opening any time soon.
“What did you do to your wife?” Adam asked out of the blue. He’d been sitting in Daaem’s lounge for the past half an hour, seemingly perfectly happy to stare into the distance and out wait Daaem’s sudden reticence.
Daaem jumped slightly. “I didn’t do anything to her,” he said automatically.
“Then why haven’t I seen her once in the past two weeks? Her husband tried to kill herself, why hasn’t she been by your side doting?”
“I -” Daaem scowled. “None of your business,” he snapped irritably.
“So you did do something to her,” Adam smirked, pleased. “What was it?”
“Nothing!” Daaem suppressed the urge to cross his arms and pout. “And why do you assume it was me in the first place? She could have done something!”
“If she had, you would have been complaining about it already,” Adam said dismissively. “And,” he added, drawing out the word obnoxiously, “you look ridiculously guilty right now.”
Daaem said nothing.
“Nothing to say?” Adam asked, blinking innocently.
Daaem stayed silent.
“Maybe I should start talking for you. What do you think?”
Finally, Daaem snapped. “Don’t you have anything to do with your life?” he demanded. “Go away!”
“Why the hell not?” Daaem growled. “I should call the police and tell them I have a stalker,” he muttered to himself.
“I’ll be here until you answer my question, you know that,” Adam said smugly.
Daaem did. Adam had once stayed in an uncomfortable hospital chair overnight, waiting Daaem out. He’d fallen asleep and woken up twice but Adam hadn’t budged. The man was stubborner than a herd of mules put together.
“Daaem?” Adam sobered. “I’m not going to judge you. Just tell me what happened.”
“It’s a long story,” Daaem admitted. “And… I’m the villain in it.”
“I’ve got time,” Adam said serenely.
“Why do you have time? Why are you still here? Why aren’t you tired yet?” Daaem was thoroughly frustrated. Adam was the only person he hadn’t managed to run off and he still didn’t understand why. “Is this just your latest amusement?”
“Does it matter?” Adam asked curiously.
“I – no.” Yes. Yes, it did. He wanted it to be something more than that. Daaem wanted it to matter to Adam. Daaem wanted to matter himself.
He said none of this out loud, burying it deep inside himself. His cheeks were burning. When had the insane, strange man come to matter to him. And why? Was this what having a friend felt like? Daaem didn’t know. He’d never had real friends.
“Good. It’s because I care about you, by the way.” Adam drawled in a bored tone.
Daaem’s eyes widened in shock and he stared. “Further proof that you’re insane,” he snapped, hiding his smile with a convenient, empty mug.
“That mug is empty,” was all Adam said.
Daaem ignored him.
They sat in silence for a while before Adam clapped his hands together. “Ready to answer the question now?”
Maybe, Daaem thought. Aloud, he grumbled, “If it gets rid of you.”
“Oh, nothing’s gonna do that,” Adam assured him. “I’ll go when I’m good and ready, not before.”
Of course he would. Daaem shook his head.
“I don’t know where to start,” he admitted. “It’s complicated.”
“How did you two meet?” Adam asked. “That’s always a good place to start.”
Daaem told him. And once he’d started, it felt like a dam had burst. He attempted to slow himself down a few times but it was in vain. He told Adam everything, things he’d never even voiced aloud before.
When he was done, he sat there, gasping for breath and refusing to look up from his knees. Adam now knew about the worst things he’d ever done. Daaem didn’t want to know what his reaction would be.
The silence was unnerving. Daaem had always used silence as a weapon but he’d only now come to discover how it felt being used against him. He didn’t like it in the slightest.
“Are you going to say anything?” he asked eventually, unable to stand it any longer.
“You did some pretty awful things,” Adam said, looking seriously at him.
Daaem looked away.
“But you already knew that. You’re looking for punishment again, aren’t you? You want me to freak out and tear into you. So I won’t.”
“You won’t?” Daaem repeated.
“No. There’s no point to it. You’ve already called yourself every name in the book. Nothing I can say could ever be worse that what you’ve said to to yourself already. So I won’t bother.”
“But you’re leaving now,” Daaem said, sure.
“No, not yet.”
“Does nothing faze you?”
“You’ve done some pretty awful things,” Adam said, suddenly grim. “But I’ve seen worse. Most of it, I’ve done myself.”
“You keep saying that,” Daaem said, frustrated. “You keep hinting at all these terrible things you’ve done but you never say it straight out. I’m beginning to think you’re making it all up,” he muttered irritably.
“I’m not,” Adam assured him in that same grim voice. “I wish I was. But this is not story time for me. We’re here to talk about you. You’ve done all these terrible things – what are you going to do now?”