Phin will be driving Jake home next chapter, so I’ll post this last snippet of them alone in the van before their story ventures into the wider world. Thank you, truly, for your support, it means so much.❤️
The Beast of Bodmin Moor
“I can’t do choosing about it. I just do think that. I’d do choosing if I could, cos I…don’t want to lose you. Which is doolally daft, when I never had you in the first place.”
The jackal raised his head, glaring at Jake as a threatening rumble of sound vibrated in Jake’s inner ear. What the hell did Jack expect him to do? Or say?
It was bad enough being chewed up with guilt, Jake could sure as shit do without being chewed out by Jack too. The mangy mutt’s muzzle started an ominous quiver that suggested he ‘might at least try, shit-for-brains’. Okay! Strewth, keep your fur on…
“Oh…you do,” Jake found himself sighing, bowing to the inevitable.
I hope you’re fucking happy now. We’ve made everything worse, not better. How can I keep him safe if you keep sticking your oar in?
Have not. Who pulled the plug when you couldn’t keep it together? Who kept him safe? He’s hurting because you’re afraid of hurting him. That makes even less sense than your habitual twaddle.
Hasn’t it crossed your tiny mind that slaughtering him is one hell of an extreme way to ensure I don’t hurt him more? Putting him out of his misery—literally—isn’t the best idea you’ve ever had, you must admit.
Of course it has, plumsack, and you know it…which is why I proved it isn’t a problem. You lost it. I fixed it. Remember? Not a hair on Phin’s head disturbed. If you haven’t got the balls now, that’s your problem—literally—not mine.
“H…How..?” Phin looked bewildered.
How odd. Not. Pillock. Tell him.
Tell him what!? You do it, if you’re so sure I’ll fuck it up. Go on, have at it.
Jake lifted his head and began to speak in a voice so calm, so controlled, he barely recognised it’s ring of clarity. He heard himself insist that Phin knew he had Ja/ke. A knowledge he must—apparently—be aware of, at some instinctive level, otherwise he would have left, rather than endure feeling unwanted.
Then, to put the tin hat on it, Jake parroted Phin’s no-so subtle hint to unwanted guests, and topped off the most asinine soliloquy on Earth with this ‘gem’:
“Those hypersenses know damn well what I want—need. You.”
Phin blinked, lips parting on a soft ‘o’. Then, he scrunched his eyes tight shut, as if in hope the world might make sense when he reopened them. A forlorn wish, when bugger-all in the van could pull that off, let alone in the wider sense…but still, Jake watched, waiting. He’d begun to feel like a passenger strapped into a car driven by a dipshit dog with a bonkers back-seat driver.
“I did buy the campervan to potter off wherever I wanted and just…Be. But also because I made trouble for my mum and didn’t want her to be upset, nor my big sister, so I took myself off. But now I’m a problem for you too, so it is me. I’m a jinx.” Phin’s sigh was steeped in sorrow, echoed by his scent, amplified by those eyes, which could hold a world of pain with plenty of space left to drive a man demented. He scratched at his head, then cheek, jaw, thigh; as if his skin was one vast crawling itch.
“You are the least of my problems,” Jake promised him. “I’m the problem, not you. There’s nothing wrong with you, Phin…you’re perfect. Too perfect for me. I’ll…sully you.”
“Sully?” Phin wrapped his tongue around the word with curiosity, as if he were tasting it before deciding whether or not to spit it out. “That’s spoiling the purity of something, isn’t it…making it dirty?”
“Yes.” Jake just confirmed, not wanting to interrupt Phin’s train of thought. To Tipperary or Tumbuktu, or wherever the hell he might go with this.
“But Jack, I want to be sullied. I want to be so sullied that I stink. Reek of you. It’s you I want. No one else would—could—be enough. I…” Phin dipped his head, staring at the sheet he’d switched to scratching. When he continued, his voice was so soft, it was hard to tell if he was aware of speaking aloud. “I want…I want my dream, Jack. I can’t change my mind or ‘make do’ and don’t want to learn. I’ve tried, but it makes me so uncomfy, I have to do Too Much stuff to…try and make the scratchy go away. I’d already done deciding before I met you. I was just waiting ’til…”
I found you.
“…you turned up. That’s how it felt—as if I was waiting for you—whoever you might be. I never expected to find you sitting in my van wearing my snaffled robe…but that made it more right. Too Much right…I didn’t even have to do looking. I just opened my eyes and there you were. So, it’s pointless saying: ‘Phin…please don’t think that‘. It’s too late. I never did choosing in the first place. Nor the second. Neither when I woke up, nor when you came back. I’d already told myself that I’d never see you again. You did the choosing Jack, not me.”
Jake was all-but swallowed by the whites of Phin’s eyes when he rolled them off top right, as if listening to a new proclamation from Planet Phin. One that would, without doubt, cut as close to the bone as those preceding it.
“When you said— you know you have me—that might’ve been a smidge true, but if I did, it wasn’t a conscious realization. I didn’t know that I knew,” Phin’s irises skittered off to the left, as if in hot pursuit of a thought. Jake could barely see the brown, he was in grave danger of getting lost in the whiteout. As lethal as they were inimitable; those eyes should come complete with a compass.
“But… even if a part of me does believe that, a bit, I still don’t think I do, which makes perfect nonsense. I’m trying so hard to do understanding you, but you’re even more tricky than everyone else. They always insist on one thing that makes me scratchy…but you seem…torn in two. Sometimes I think you’ve done deciding we can be together…and that a miracle might just happen if I hope hard ’nuff. But then you snap back into saying ‘no it’s too dangerous’. That’s very befuddling.”
“Phin, I’m sorry…so sorry. I hate hurting you, hate myself for it—” Torn in two. Fuck.
“Let me finish, please Phin. Don’t try and ‘do white lies’ to make me feel better. The last thing I’ve ever wanted to do is hurt you. I do want you, but don’t deserve you. I want you more than I’ve ever wanted anyone, which makes this so much worse…and so much harder. If I didn’t want you so much—too much—I could walk away and leave you in peace…but I can’t force myself to do that. I’ve tried, you know I have. I did it. I left…but here I am. Again. I didn’t do choosing to come. I couldn’t stop myself. Can you understand that part, at least?” Jake pleaded.
“Your eyes are begging me to understand…and I do, a bit.” Phin reached out, to brush his fingertips across the back of Jake’s hand, a whisper of touch that made his skin scream.
“I understand not choosing and having to do things. I think you’re saying you want too much and that’s a bad thing. Like having to do things such as cutting.”
“Yes,” Jake confirmed, holding his gaze, willing Phin to understand more than he’d been told. “I need you…and that scares me.”
“You’re scared? As if I’m a hospital? That’s daft, I won’t do hurting you. I’m not dangerous.” When cherub lips twisted with a wry twerk, Phin amended; “Well, not to you, at least, so that’s alright.”
“I’m not afraid of you. Although you are frankly frightening, sometimes. It scares me that I can’t walk away. The fact that I have no control over Me terrifies me. Worst of all, when I’m with you, it matters more than ever that I keep myself…on a short leash. When, in truth, I’ve never felt less in control. That’s why I keep saying no…because I’m more dangerous to you than I am to anyone else…”
“Why?” Phin sounded dazed.
Odd that. You’ve said a helluva lot while somehow saying sod all. If Phin can fathom sense from it, he’s a bloody genius. You are batting waaay out of your league, y’know. Just sayin.
Tell me something I don’t know.
That’s less logical than anything you’ve uttered aloud, which is staggering. Frankly.
“Because…you mean more to me.” Jake owned.
“‘More’..? Then, why..?”
“Because you mean Too Much.” A flicker of hope flared in those midnight orbs. Jake couldn’t bear to banish it. “Yes. In a Phin way.”
Jake wasn’t sure that made sense whichever planet you resided on, but the brown blazed with warm wonder and Jack huffed a thank fuck for that snuff, so Jake figured it might be best to quit while he was ahead. Or behind. Clinging on for dear life.