Chapter Fifty Three
Despite what everyone seemed to think, Daaem knew full well that what he was doing was not exactly healthy. But he couldn’t help himself. He needed to talk to Aabirah once last time – he didn’t have to see her in person. But he needed to say goodbye.
He just needed to say goodbye. He’d been trying to explain – to Adam, to his father – for weeks now. But they just didn’t understand. Adam had told him point blank that he was obsessing and maybe Daaem was obsessing. But he needed this, in a way that he couldn’t fully explain.
He just needed to talk to her again and know that it was the last time. He couldn’t stand the idea that the last time he’d ever get to see her was gone and he couldn’t remember it. He couldn’t remember what they’d talked about or what she’d been wearing and… he needed to have a proper goodbye.
There was a knock at the door and he hastily slammed the lid of his laptop shut, feeling foolish and guilty.
Adam poked his head in. “Everything okay?” he asked, puzzled. “What was that noise?”
“…Nothing,” Daaem said in a small voice.
“Riight.” Adam grabbed Daaem’s laptop. “Mind if I borrow this?”
“Don’t – don’t…” Daaem sighed. “Fine,” he sighed. “You know what I was doing, are you really gonna make me say it?”
Adam dropped the laptop. “This is -”
“Obsessive,” Daaem finished, interrupting him. “It’s obsessive. I know it’s obsessive, I know! I’m not stupid, Adam, I know! I just… I need this. I need it and I can’t explain why any more than I already have. I just do.”
“I understand that,” Adam said gently. “But you need to let go, Daaem. You can’t keep holding on like this, it’s not healthy.”
“I can’t without saying goodbye,” Daaem whispered miserably. “I just need to say goodbye and know I’m saying goodbye.”
Adam looked sympathetic. “You’re not going to be able to let this go, are you?”
Daaem just shook his head.
“Are you having any luck locating Aabirah?”
“I haven’t even had any luck locating help to find her yet. I don’t know where to start,” Daaem admitted shamefacedly.
Adam stuck his hands in his pockets. “I can find her for you,” he said eventually.
Daaem’s head snapped up. “What?” Hope welled within him. Adam could find her?
“I can find her,” he repeated. “But you have to let me do this without interfering. I will get you a number for her and then you can call her, okay?”
Daaem nodded eagerly without a second thought.
“And,” Adam continued, holding up a hand to halt Daaem, “I have another condition.”
“Okay,” Daaem said immediately. He didn’t care what this condition was, his answer was yes.
“Don’t be so hasty,” Adam cautioned him. “You won’t like this condition. At all.”
He was right. Daaem didn’t like it. But he agreed nonetheless.
Five minutes later, once Adam had left, he was on the phone to his lawyer, asking for divorce papers to be drawn up and trying not to resent Adam. He knew, he knew that he couldn’t keep a hold over Aabirah. She didn’t want to be with him and he needed to respect that.
Despite how miserable it made him.
“Do you know how long it will take?” Daaem asked Adam a few hours later, handing him the stack of papers that had just been messengered over. It had taken longer than he would ever admit to finally make himself sign them but he’d done it in the end and now he wanted them out of his reach so he couldn’t do something short-sighted like tear them to shreds.
“I’m not entirely sure. But it shouldn’t be more than a few days,” Adam assured him. “Don’t let it drive you insane for the next few days, just try to put it out of your mind,” he advised.
Daaem looked pityingly at him and just shook his head. Adam severely overestimated how much control Daaem had over his own mind.
“Try,” Adam insisted, without much conviction. “Just try, okay?” He paused for a moment. “And be prepared for her to not answer the phone too. I can’t make her do that – I won’t, rather.”
“I don’t want to force her into anything,” Daaem assured Adam. “I just want to say goodbye, if she’ll let me.”
He knew he’d sounded especially pathetic when Adam pulled him into a quick hug.
“Don’t pin too much hope on this,” was Adam’s parting admonishment.
“I won’t,” Daaem lied.
Adam looked unimpressed.
“Really,” Daaem insisted. “I won’t pin any more hope on it,” he promised Adam. This was easy to do – he’ already pinned every scrap of hope he had within him to this final chance.
Adam looked marginally more convinced.
“You don’t have to keep worrying about me, you know,” Daaem said for the umpteenth time.
We’re doing this again?” Adam asked rhetorically, sounding long suffering. “I know I don’t have to. I’m going to do it anyway. And,” he smirked, “you can’t stop me.”
Daaem mock-scowled. “You’re insufferable.”
“I’m wonderful,” Adam corrected, outraged.
“In your dreams,” Daaem muttered, not particularly quietly.
“Iman thinks I’m wonderful,” Adam retorted, sounding vaguely giddy at the mention of his wife.
“Iman is blinded by love,” Daaem informed his friend, feeling melancholy and wistful.
Adam winced guiltily and opened his mouth.
“I have to do some work today, you know,” Daaem said quickly. “And you should probably go try to be marginally useful for once.”
Adam let the topic slide. “I’m going, I’m going, you little nag. And I’ll see you tomorrow for supper. Iman insisted.”
“Bye.” Daaem watched him go, waiting a few minutes before getting up to lock the door. He didn’t want anyone else checking up on him and he knew that Ameer would most likely be on his way down already, having been warned by Adam that Daaem was having a bad day.
The minding had gone from being grating to being comforting for the most part now that Ameer had reined in the instinctive overbearingness and Daaem had come to associate the check ups with his father caring about him now – something new enough that he still savoured it.
Today, however, he just wanted a few minutes alone.