Having posted nothing in what is fast coming on two years, I have decided to stop pretending I'm ever going to finish the piles of WIPs I have in my folders, and I'm posting things again, without trying to fix them up this time, so maybe multiple things will actually make it up.
This one in particular broke my brain a little, at a time I couldn't afford it, so I felt it was only fitting I should let it fly free first, just in case I never get around to posting anything else.
This is McFly, and was originally intended to end up sort of Floynter-ish, though if anything ever happened between them over the course of it, it would have been very tame. Pinky-holding, maybe a kiss or two, that sort of thing. Mostly just implied for the future.
So… yeah. I wrote all this a few years back, it probably would have ended up at least 50k, possibly more, as it kept getting longer and longer while I was working on it (it was originally just one really fucked up suicide attempt). I was in a pretty messed up headspace at the time myself, which was useful for writing this, but writing this was not so useful for my headspace. Vicious cycle and all that. So here it is, in all its liberated glory. As much as I wish this could have been completed, or at least that I could have edited it a bit and smoothed out some edges, maybe fixed up some of it so things transitioned better – or at all – before posting, I never again want to be in the place I was when I could work on this with anything like ease, so I’m posting it as is, just a jumble of documents all piled together. I hope no one ever get stuck in any kind of depression/anxiety cycle, but if you do, I hope you have people you can talk to, friends and family – they care about you, they really do, even when you think no one does or should – or maybe a professional. Therapists were never that great for me, but I know people who’ve had much better luck with them, so it’s definitely worth a try. But do talk to someone, and try not to get angry if they suggest talking to someone else as well.
Anyway. Have some really fucked up McFly AU, referred to for a very long time just as “dark!AU” for lack of anything better.
“That’s the last of it,” Dougie announces, wedging the big cardboard box he’s carrying in between two others and shoving the car door closed with his usual excessive force. He ignores Tom’s wince.
“Do you always have to –” Tom begins, but cuts himself off with a sigh when both Dougie and Danny glance at him. “Never mind,” he mutters, visibly restraining himself from rubbing his hand across his face even as his eyes turn heavenward.
Dougie grins and shares a Look with Danny, which Tom of course sees, though he pretends not to. The familiarity of it is strangely comforting just now, and for a moment Dougie wonders if they’ll always be like this, or if even the small things will change now that he’s leaving. He wishes Harry was here – it never feels quite right with just three of them – but he knows it’s his own fault, despite Harry’s insistence that he really is busy. And by taking himself out, he’s cutting them down to three anyway.
“Ready, then?” Tom asks, opening the driver’s side door and half climbing in.
“Yeah,” Dougie nods. “I’ll just go take a last look and lock it up.”
A quick scan of the empty rooms is all that is needed to confirm that everything is gone, but Dougie hesitates, hand on the doorframe, staring at the spot where his bed used to be.
Footsteps echo across the wood floors, but he doesn’t turn, even when Danny stops right behind him.
“You don’t have to move out, you know,” Danny tells him, and Dougie can hear the hurt in his tone, knows it’s there for the same reason Harry didn’t show up today.
“Yes, I do,” Dougie says softly, and his words sound strange and hollow, as if the bare flat is trying to swallow them up.
“Why?” Danny asks, not for the first time. He’s not accusing, he honestly doesn’t get it, no matter how many times Dougie tries to explain. At least he’s asking, though, Harry won’t even do that much. Tom’s the only one who understands, though Dougie thinks he might be even more hurt than Harry is, just better at hiding it.
“It would be too weird for me to stay here,” Dougie tries to explain, wondering if he really sounds like a broken record, or if it’s just him, “with your studio upstairs. I don’t want to be in the way, and I shouldn’t be here while you’re working, even if I’m not actually in the studio with you.”
“You wouldn’t –” Danny starts, but Dougie finally turns to look at him, and Danny must see something in Dougie’s face that makes him stop.
“Besides,” Dougie pastes on a grin he doesn’t quite feel, “I should really live properly on my own at least once before I die, and who knows – it might be nice not to have to worry about people breaking into my room in the middle of the night and stealing all my boxers.”
“That was Harry!” Danny protests, almost automatically.
Dougie’s grin feels more natural now, as he pins Danny with a suspicious look. “I found them in your flat,” he points out.
“Well, it was Harry’s idea,” Danny informs him.
Dougie rolls his eyes, but feels intensely grateful to Danny for making him feel better without even trying.
“Let’s go,” he says, “Tom will wonder if we’ve died, and I don’t fancy being dragged around by my ear again.”
Danny laughs, the sound booming through the flat, and follows Dougie back outside. “See you on the other side,” he says, and heads for his own car, leaving Dougie to approach Tom on his own.
For once, though, Tom doesn’t say anything about Dougie dawdling, just jerks his head at the passenger seat, and waits until Dougie is settled and buckled before pulling out of the drive.
“Saying goodbye?” he asks after a minute, eyes on the road.
Dougie shrugs, knowing Tom will see it peripherally. “I guess.” He stares out the window for several moments, then says, “Danny doesn’t want me to move,” because he needs to talk to someone about it, and he trusts that Tom won’t use this against him.
Tom shoots him a quick glance askance, then fixes his eyes forward again. “Are you surprised?”
“A little,” Dougie replies, and means yes – why would he want me to stay? Tom responds by reaching out and smacking him upside the head without even looking at him, so Dougie thinks he gets it.
“Just because you’re leaving the band doesn’t mean you have to stop being friends with us, you know. We still want to spend time with you, even if you don’t think we’re good enough to make music with, anymore.” The dimple in Tom’s cheek is deep with his lopsided grin, and Dougie knows that Tom is mostly teasing, he does. But.
“You know that’s not what this is about,” Dougie says, and fixes his eyes on Tom’s dimple, because he can’t watch his eyes, but he’s not willing to wuss out and look away completely.
Tom doesn’t turn. “I know,” he says, and his voice is almost bland.
“It’s just, I’m twenty-three,” Dougie can’t help it, just feels the need to explain himself, even though he’s done it already at least a dozen times. “And I love you guys, I really, really do, and I love being in a band with you, but I need to do this. Before I’m too old. Before I’ve spent my entire life doing just – this. It’s been eight years. And I wouldn’t change it for anything, but I’ve always wanted. To. Do something more. You know? Something else. And now I have the chance for it. I’m sorry.”
“I know,” Tom says again, still facing forward, watching the road.
Dougie thinks maybe this would be a good time to stop talking, but the words keep bubbling over his lips and he can’t seem to make them stop. “I left Ataiz for McFly, and they – they never really – forgave me for it. For leaving them. For ‘making it’ without them. But I don’t regret it. I wanted to do it. I needed to do it. I knew it was the right thing for me. And now, this – I think this is the right thing for me. I do.”
“I know,” Tom says a third time, and his voice is almost tight. Dougie wishes he would say something else, anything else, really. He wonders what would happen if he were to reach out and shake Tom – if Tom would crash the car, or if he’d even notice.
“Why aren’t you angry with me?” Dougie asks before he’s even thought about it. There’s definitely a reason, Dougie thinks, why Tom worried for eight years about him saying something that would get them all into serious trouble.
“What?” Tom’s eyes flick briefly to Dougie’s face then back to the traffic around them.
“You,” Dougie says. “You should be angry with me. You want to be angry with me.” Dougie’s not really sure why he’s so positive about this, but he is. “You really want to be angry with me, but you’re not letting yourself. Why aren’t you angry with me? Why don’t you scream at me? Why don’t you hate me?”
“No point in screaming or getting angry, is there.” It’s not a question. “It won’t change your mind, and I’ll just feel lousy.”
“You’re too fucking practical,” Dougie tells him, and wonders why he’s trying to make Tom angry with him. He doesn’t want Tom to be angry with him – he hates it when Tom’s angry with him – he just. He kind of feels like he deserves it.
“I know your reasons,” Tom shrugs. “I don’t like it, but it wouldn’t be fair of me to hold it against you when you’re just doing what you think you need to. I’m certainly not going to hate you for it.”
“Harry hates me.” Again, the thought tumbles out of Dougie’s mouth before he thinks it through. He really wishes he could stop doing that. It’s the first time he’s said it aloud, and it sounds even worse than it did in his head. He feels sick.
“Harry does not hate you,” Tom says sharply, and actually turns to look at Dougie, to meet his eyes, but Dougie can’t read what he sees there. Pity? Irritation? “He’s just handling this badly. He’ll get over it. You know how he is. He just needs some time.”
“Time,” Dougie echoes, and turns away to stare out his window at the city going by. Funny how ‘time’ could mean a week or a month or ten years, he thinks. Somehow, he doesn’t feel like laughing.
“How are things with Metro?” Tom asks when they stop at the next red light. He’s sounding very bland again, and Dougie wonders if he really wants to know the answer, or is just asking for something to say.
“We’re okay,” Dougie says, because he doesn’t like the silence, and even if Tom is only asking to be polite, Dougie knows there’s still a genuine interest in his life. It’s Tom, after all. “I think we’re almost ready to start recording, actually. All those months of fucking around just for the hell of it before we decided to actually do something have really paid off.”
“Just some local stuff planned for right now.” Dougie chews his bottom lip for a moment, then confesses, “I think everyone’s a little worried about how the fans are taking the news. There’s been a lot of support, but. Well. There’s a good bit of, um, well, some people are pretty fucked off. So we want to get the album out as soon as possible – prove it’s not just a bunch of crap.”
“‘We’?” Tom’s fingers are tapping against the steering wheel along with the beat from the car next to them, but he doesn’t seem to notice.
“The Powers That Be, actually, so no ‘we’ at all,” Dougie clarifies, and knows Tom will understand. “I’m already missing Super Records.”
Tom snorts, but it’s not mean. “Are you going to sneak me your demos, or do I have to wait to hear the ‘New and Improved Dougie Poynter’ along with the rest of the world?”
Dougie can’t help but laugh, and it’s a little too loud, but he’s relieved that Tom’s joking about this, so he doesn’t really care. “I don’t want you listening to it,” he says, “it’s a bunch of crap.”
Tom laughs, and it almost sounds normal. “Why do you say that?”
“I wrote most of it,” Dougie admits, and this time when Tom laughs, it sounds like it always used to.
“How are auditions going?” Dougie asks some time later. He’s sitting on the floor of his new living room, propped up between two boxes. Danny’s sprawled on the sofa, hanging half off the edge, looking like nothing so much as laundry left too long on the line. Not that Dougie ever puts his laundry on the line, but his mum used to, sometimes, and Danny definitely reminds him of it – all loose and floppy. Tom has commandeered Dougie’s favorite old chair, sitting twisted so he’s leaning against the back while his legs are hooked over one upholstered arm.
Danny and Tom share a look. Dougie almost wishes he hadn’t asked, but he’s going to have to get used to talking to them about McFly sometime.
“They’re okay,” Tom says after a moment. “There have been a couple of pretty promising bassists, but nothing quite, um. Right.”
Dougie nods, and feels sort of pleased that they haven’t been able to replace him yet. He immediately squashes the feeling, and hates himself just the tiniest bit for having to. He wants them to find a replacement for him, he does. He’d told them from the beginning that they should, that he didn’t want to completely fuck them over, didn’t want to force them to break up.
“Always thought we should be glad there aren’t two of you,” Danny says, trying awkwardly to focus on Dougie upside down. “But it might be handy, now.”
Tom sails in smoothly with, “I don’t think the world could handle two of any of us,” before Dougie has to come up with a reply for Danny, which is a relief, because he’s pretty sure ‘fuck you’ – no matter how blasé – would just make him feel even more guilty, and that’s all he can come up with just now.
“Maybe two of you, Tom,” Dougie says, and he’s half serious in his gratitude, though he gives Tom a cheeky grin when he says it.
Tom rolls his eyes. “Suck up,” he says. “You just want me to cook you dinner.”
“The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind,” Dougie tells him honestly, though he knows Tom won’t believe him. “But now that you mention it –”
Tom rolls his eyes again and tries to look reticent, but Dougie knows he’s already caved. “Maybe if you ask nicely,” Tom suggests, somehow managing to keep a straight face.
Dougie tries to look pitiful, curling up on himself in his cardboard corner. “Please, Mr. Fletcher, sir,” he says, blinking wide eyes. “I want some more.”
Danny cracks up, sliding even further off the couch, even as Tom turns bright red and smacks his hand against his own face.
“I cannot believe you did that.” Tom’s groan is muffled behind his hand.
Danny’s laughter turns into a sort of gasping choke from his awkward angle. Dougie shoots him an alarmed glance as he hauls himself back onto the couch and into a position that doesn’t twist up his air passages. Tom is determinedly ignoring Danny’s brush with death, possibly in retaliation for being laughed at.
“See if I ever make you dinner again, Dougie Poynter,” Tom grumbles, glaring at Dougie through his fingers.
“Aw, you love me, really,” Dougie tells him, and blows him a kiss.
“Do not,” Tom retorts, but Dougie grins back in triumph at the edges of a smile and the deepening dimple he can see around Tom’s hand.
“Dimple says you do,” Dougie taunts, and Danny makes a wheezing noise from the couch like he’s trying to laugh again but his lungs aren’t cooperating.
“I hate you both,” Tom says, and hides his face in both hands.
Dougie grins at Danny. “He loves us.”
Danny, still wheezing, nods agreement.
“So much hate,” Tom tells his palms, then gives up, shaking his head in a very put upon sort of way, and rolls out of his chair, heading for the kitchen. “You owe me for this, Poynter,” he calls over his shoulder.
“I promise to never try to cook in your kitchen again,” Dougie calls back.
Danny cackles and manages not to choke this time. “Sounds about fair,” he says.
The only response from Tom is the clattering of pans. Dougie takes this as agreement, and clambers to his feet.
“Come help me look for the box with plates,” he tells Danny, who groans, but hauls himself off the sofa and follows him through to the kitchen.
It’s after midnight when Tom calls it a night, saying he and Danny have to be at auditions early the next morning, and doesn’t Dougie have a rehearsal to go to?
Dougie rolls his eyes, but Tom’s right, so he walks them both out to their cars to say goodnight.
“The leftovers are on the second shelf in the fridge,” Tom says, “So eat those before you resort to takeaway.”
“Thanks, Mum,” Danny says, and dodges Tom’s swipe with the ease of much practice.
“Get out of here,” Tom tells him, then abruptly leans in and hugs Dougie tightly. “We’ll see you soon,” he says against Dougie’s ear. “Keep in touch. You’re not really that far away, so we will hunt you down if you don’t.” He pulls away just as abruptly and beats a hasty retreat to his car.
“Don’t be a stranger, yeah?” Danny says, thumping Dougie on the shoulder before pulling him into a quick hug as well.
Dougie returns the hug then steps back as Danny climbs into his own car. “G’night, Poynter!” he calls as he pulls away from the curb behind Tom.
“See you, Jones.” Dougie waves, and stands on the pavement, watching as first Tom’s then Danny’s taillights disappear around the far corner. He stands there a moment longer, then turns and heads back into the house. His house.
It’s odd, he thinks, staring around the entryway, door closed and locked for the night behind him, it seems bigger now that the others have gone. He does a quick tour of the downstairs rooms, shutting off lights as he goes. The unopened boxes everywhere cast strange shadows in the darkness. He climbs the stairs to his new bedroom, footsteps echoing on the uncarpeted treads.
I need rugs, he thinks, and more furniture. I don’t have enough furniture for a place this size. He doesn’t really need a place this size, doesn’t know what he’s going to do with so many rooms. It’s not like he’s going to be spending a lot of time at home, between recording and touring. Come to it, he can’t really remember why he chose the place, other than that it was the first place he saw that looked decent and wasn’t within walking distance of his old flat. Probably not the best reason for buying a house, he thinks.
And now it’s quiet. Too quiet. And a bit lonely. He thinks the silence, broken only by the noises he makes himself, makes it worse, and it all just feels wrong somehow.
It’s not like he’s homesick, or anything. This is home now. He doesn’t always need to live within shouting distance of his friends.
This will be good for me, he tells himself. It will.
Rehearsing with Metro, Dougie is fast discovering, is very different from rehearsing with McFly. On a more professional level, it’s odd having five people instead of four, despite working with keyboardists with McFly, and Dougie’s still not sure what he thinks of having only one lead singer – especially when that lead singer is him. He doesn’t like being in the middle – even in the rehearsal space – feels boxed in, and taking point on vocals means he can’t move around as much, which makes him even more antsy.
Even more bizarre is that his new bandmates don’t pick on him. At all. There’s been some general ribbing, but it’s never aimed at Dougie. He kind of gets the impression that they’re a little bit in awe of him, which he’d never really picked up on before he became a permanent member. He’s not sure he likes it.
Dougie checks his phone when they take a coffee break halfway through the morning. There are three texts from his sister saying she’s bored at work – he shoots her a quick response telling her to either quit her job or quit telling him how bored she is, because she’s wasting his texts – and one from Tom that says simply, I’ve got news. Call me.
Dougie rolls his eyes, wondering why Tom couldn’t have just told him whatever it was in the text, and punches in Tom’s speed dial number.
The phone picks up after only three rings, but no one answers immediately. Dougie hears the sound of a scuffle on the other end, then Danny’s voice says, “Hey, Dougs. Fancy hearing from you.”
“Tom said to call,” Dougie replies. He can hear Tom’s voice in the background saying rather plaintively, “Danny, give it back.”
“Ah, well, he probably wanted to tell you that you’re a girl, now,” Danny says, the laugh clear in his voice. Then there’s a thud, followed by the sounds of more fighting. Someone that sounds like Tom yells, “Ow! Fuck! My eye!” and the line goes dead.
Dougie blinks at his phone for a minute, then sighs and closes it, heading for the coffee-maker, figuring he may as well get some caffeine in him while he waits for the victor of the struggle to call him back.
Interlude for notes these are my notes/outline information for what was supposed to be in each of the scenes/sections of the fic
Scene II, continued – McFly have a new bassist, a girl named Kayla, and they’re working on a new album.
Dougie’s a little jealous, but he stomps on it, because he knows he has no right to be jealous when he’s the one who left
Scene III was meant to be an interview with a lot of questions about Dougie leaving McFly, about what he thinks of McFly now, if he’s met Kayla, what he thinks of her, etc.
Scene IV – a club/party, with Dougie drinking with his new bandmates. They are ‘experimenting’ with recreational drugs, which Dougie avoids, but he does go home completely smashed.
Scene V – On tour – on stage – a lot of fun, but Dougie’s still not used to being on stage with his new band, still weird not having Harry behind the drums, or Danny and Tom on stage – misses having Danny being weird and licking up the side of his face, and misses being able to fuck with Tom’s piano etc. until Tom whacks him upside the head to make him go away (Colin, their keyboard player, gets really weird about people near his piano/keyboard, and kind of flips out – can’t handle it the way Tom could) – Dougie somehow ends up in the middle, between Declan and Nate (the two guitarists), and he’s not really comfortable there – the others don’t like to cross the stage/move around as much onstage like Tom and Danny did (they all like to keep to their corners of the stage, and get ‘personal bubble’-y when Dougie ‘gets in their dance space’
VI – Dougie goes to a pub/bar with Danny and Tom (Harry, again, is noticeably absent). Dougie drinks a lot, which Danny comments on, in a half-jokey half serious kind of way, asks about the new band, talk about McFly’s album, which was a success, but they miss him (not in a guilt-trippy way, just being honest, wanting him to visit with them more)
VII – Dougie dealing with trying to finish writing songs for his band’s second album, wishing he had someone in the band to bounce ideas off of, not willing to ask Tom or Danny for help, drinking some while he works, then deciding to drink more once he finally finishes it, to ‘celebrate’ (at some point mention that he keeps getting ideas for songs for McFly, as opposed to his new band, and he’s working on those as well, but doesn’t want his new band to know)
VIII – Flashes of scenes from various parties and clubs, of Dougie drinking a lot and his bandmates doing various drugs, of Dougie refusing to do drugs, but drinking more and more – Dougie’s birthday (Declan gives him an antique butterfly knife – note: it is illegal to buy or sell butterfly knives in the UK)
IX – Interview: congratulations on the second album and questions about a third, as well as questions about how their last tour went, and when the next one will be (‘pressure on Dougie’-type questions, even though the interviewer doesn’t mean it like that), questions about the ‘partying’ lifestyle of Dougie’s band, then questions about how he feels about the break-up of McFly, and if he still talks to them (sort of a not-quite-brush-off ‘they’ve been quite busy, even with the break-up’ [Tom’s running Super Records now, Harry’s been playing cricket, and Danny’s been helping Tom out as well as helping out in the recording studio, as a recording artist, and thinking of going solo] ‘and we’ve been busy touring, so I don’t see them much – but Tom keeps me posted on what they’re all up to’) – Dougie finally ‘caves in’ to the drug thing after the interview
X – Messages (mostly from Tom, a couple from Danny, several from his mum and sister, who are going to the US (? They’re out of touch somehow – can’t be reached)), asking where Dougie’s been, what he’s up to, why he hasn’t been in touch – interspersed with more parties, Dougie and his bandmates drinking and doing drugs (Dougie has no idea what he’s even taking, or if it’s been mixed with anything) – Dougie wakes up with his new tattoo and no memory of having gotten it
XI – Recording studio for the third album (3 albums in under three years [very impressive!], first came out while he was 23, now he’s almost 25), and Dougie’s already flipping out (in an inner existential angst kind of way), because he had to write the entire thing, and is still sort of looking out for the others, and he really, really can’t handle it
clip from Scene XI
It’s not particularly stealthy, just the opposite, really, but Dougie needs to get away from all the people asking how the album’s going, asking if he needs anything, if he wants anything, if there’s anything they can get him. What he needs is space, quiet. Time. So he hunches down in his seat, open notebook tucked against his knees, hood pulled up over his head, and tries to ignore the way the other people on the tube look at him. He’s not even really sure they’re looking, because maybe he’s just imagining it, imagining the double-takes, the sidelong glances, the whispers behind hands.
He slides a little lower, hooks his heels on the edge of the seat, knows he’s too old to be doing this in public, but. He sketches absently in the margins, tries to focus on the words he’s written, but they’re useless. Completely useless. Something McFly could have used, but not Metro. Maybe he should send them to Tom, see if any of the bands on Super Records needs lyrics, but.
Tom. Dougie’s pen slips a little down the edge of the page. He hasn’t really thought much about Tom, or Danny, or Harry, in a while. Hasn’t talked to them, answered their calls. He touches his chest, over his new tattoo, looks at the scratchy writing sprawling across the page. He can almost hear Tom singing it, Danny taking over on the second verse, all three of them hitting the chorus.
Fuck, he thinks, and stabs at the paper, poking a hole through the corner. He misses singing backup, not having to take lead, just being able to flail around, jump across the stage.
The car doors slide open, and Dougie has no idea where he is, just suddenly needs off, out. He barely makes it, pushing against the crowd trying to get on, but then he’s in the tunnel. It’s Covent Garden, but he takes the stairs, almost relishes the fact that he can barely breathe by the time he hits the surface.
Dougie is shaking as he presses his mobile tight against his ear, listening as it rings – once, thrice, five times – and he’s about to hang up – can’t stand the wait, the noise, the possibility of – when, with a click, it picks up, and the too-cheery voice on the other end declares:
“You’ve reached Tom’s phone. If you’re not meant to have this number, please sod off. Otherwise, wait for the beep and you know what to do.” BEEEEP.
“Tom, it’s –” Dougie hesitates a fraction of a second, then falls. “Hi, Tom, it’s me – I – I know we haven’t – in a while, but I really – I don’t know if I can – look, I just really need to – someone to – to talk to – someone I know – trust – I – things are – bad – I – I don’t have anyone I can – you’re the only one – oh, god, Tom, I’m so sorry – I don’t think I can – I can’t handle this – my life, it’s – too much – I just want it to be over – I know I don’t have any right to ask you this, but I just really need – I can’t do this, Tom, I can’t, there’s no way out, and I just – I need to not – to not be here, and I don’t know what else to do, but I can’t – I just can’t – I can’t – I need –” BEEEEP.
Dougie continues to stare blankly out at his kitchen, phone pressed to his ear, long after the line’s gone dead. That’s it, then, he thinks. There really is no other way out. I just can’t – I can’t – He shuts his eyes tight and hurls the phone across the room with all his might, taking no satisfaction at all in the crunching shatter as it hits the wall. I just – he thinks, and can’t even muster up enough energy to be horrified that there are tears streaming down his face, have been for a while.
He collapses against the table, head in his arms, slumping down in his chair, sobs tearing from his throat that are more choked screams than anything else. Why can’t it all just – STOP? There are lights flashing in the darkness behind his eyes from the pressure on the lids and an angry roar in his ears that won’t go away.
He doesn’t know how long he sits like that, hunched in on himself, feeling as if his heart and soul are trying to rip themselves free of his body, unable to do more than cry and shudder violently, just wanting it all to go away.
The tears run dry about the same time his voice gives out, and he’s left hacking dryly as his body fights for oxygen, his every particle aching fiercely. His fingers twitch convulsively and they hit something small and solid that skitters across the table. Dougie drags his head up from his soaked sleeves and his blurred gaze fixes on the butterfly knife Declan gave him for his last birthday.
He hadn’t been entirely sure, when he’d fished it out and put it on the table before calling Tom. Hadn’t been sure when he’d dialed if he was calling because he’d been desperate for someone to talk to – really talk to – for months, longer, or if he just needed to say goodbye. Hadn’t really been sure why it was Tom whose number rolled from his fingertips, except – But even Tom is beyond his reach now. He’s not sure why he thought for even a minute that he could possibly deserve anything else.
The harsh florescent lighting that glints dully from the clean linoleum floor and the barely used state-of-the-art kitchen appliances sparkles on the blade of the knife, full of promise. Dougie blinks red stinging eyes against the mesmerizing glitter. Almost in a trance, he pushes his sleeves up above his elbows. He reaches out and glides a single finger along the blade to the handle. Still with only one finger he draws it closer, sliding across the tabletop like a serpent, the drag of metal hissing on lacquer.
It’s going to hurt. He knows that in more than just a vague way. It’s going to hurt a lot, though he doubts it will hurt as much as the tattoos – the ones he can remember getting, anyway – because at least this will be a clean pain. And it won’t last. That’s the whole point, after all.
He wraps his entire hand around the grip, wondering suddenly if something so small can really be all he needs, all it will take, to make so much go away. So much. He touches the pad of his other thumb to the blade, and the sense of calm that wells up inside of him as the blood wells up from the cut numbs the sting. It will be enough. And then – then it will stop.
Slowly he draws the flat of the blade across his wrist, the cold metal rippling like silk over his skin in a comforting caress. He sighs – it’s almost over – and turns the edge, pressing deep as he drags it down, one wrist and then the other, awkward to do it left-handed, with shining ribbons of hot ruby red already streaming down over his fingers, icy cold metal burning against the flesh it parts as smoothly as butter. And it hurts, but it’s a relief, this pain, because there won’t be any more after it.
Dougie watches the tiny rivers that flow steadily over almost bleached looking skin and dark lacquered wood, rushing swiftly towards the edge of the table and then cascading over in a shower of shining droplets that splash onto the floor and splatter his trainers and jeans. The crimson covering his hands shimmers wetly in the harsh light. The color of blood, he thinks vaguely, and can’t even be bothered to think why that’s so stupid.
He licks dry lips and tastes the tangy, metallic flavor of the air. He’s thirsty, he realizes, and contemplates getting up for something to drink, but discards the idea on account of the fact that he’d have to stand up to get anything, and he’s not entirely sure he’s capable of it. Not that it really matters, not anymore. It’s just the blood loss, he knows, both the thirst and the weakness, so that’s okay. But he really is thirsty.
He starts to feel dizzy, his head spinning, spots darting before his eyes. There’s an odd rasping noise filling the air that must be his own breathing, but it’s so strange that it’s so loud – that thumpthumpthump thundering at the base of his ears must be his heart – but shouldn’t it be slowing down, not speeding up? – and now he thinks he can hear banging somewhere that certainly isn’t coming from him – must be imagining it – then a crash, and frantic pounding, like – footsteps? – and a voice, he knows that voice, but he’s never heard it sound – panicked? – Why is Tom panicking? Doesn’t he know everything is okay now? But –
“Dougs – Dougie – oh god –”
There are arms wrapping around Dougie, warm and tight, and a hard body propping him up – which is odd, because Dougie can’t remember sitting on the floor, he must have slid off his chair at some point – and Tom’s voice is almost as blurred as Dougie’s vision, crackling in and out like a badly tuned radio –
“– stay with me, Dougie, you can do it – just stay with me – oh, god, Doug, please – stay with me – Hello? – stay with me, Dougie, come on – Yes! Hello! I need an ambulance!”
Dougie still can’t figure out what the problem is. This is what’s supposed to happen, after all – isn’t it? Things are fading gently, even Tom’s voice is becoming part of the soft background hum in Dougie’s ears, only Dougie’s own heartbeat continues to hammer away like he’s running a race. This really isn’t as bad as he thought it would be – a nice way to end things, if only Tom didn’t seem so upset –
“– please, Dougie, please, please, just stay – Yes, it’s an emergency! – stay with me, Doug – I need an ambulance at –”
Tom’s voice clicks out and everything else dissolves into blissful black.
There are voices somewhere nearby when Dougie slowly claws his way back to consciousness. They’re muffled under the pounding in his head, and he can’t quite place them, though he knows they’re familiar enough that he ought to be able to. And it’s not just his head, he realizes, he aches all over – but he’s not sure why. He thinks, maybe, that that’s something else he should know.
He’s in a bed, that much he knows, which is probably a good thing. Whatever he got up to the night before to leave him so completely out of it can’t have been too bad if he managed to make it to a bed, whether his own or someone else’s isn’t really that important just yet. When he manages to pry his eyes open he ascertains that he is not in his own room – or in a room he can immediately place, though it seems vaguely familiar, just in a different way than the voices he can still hear coming from somewhere. He doesn’t think he knows anyone who would decorate in pastels, or who would have a television up on the wall like that, but there is definitely something familiar about it.
There’s a strange weight on his left-hand side, and something is holding his hand. He winces as he turns his head to look. There’s a chair pulled up to his bedside, and its occupant seems to have fallen asleep hunched over Dougie’s bed, blond head resting on one arm, pressed up against Dougie’s side, the fingers of his free hand laced through Dougie’s left. Dougie blinks, and tries to make his head stop buzzing. He knows that head, with its messy mop of blond hair, knows it very well. Just as well as he knows that hand.
Why is Tom asleep like that?
Dougie blinks again, looking at the hand wrapped around his own, eyes trailing up to his own wrist. It’s swathed in white bandages. Huh.
And then things start to slide back into place. The bandages. His wrists. The knife Declan gave him. He’d done it. The bandages are testimony enough. But why is he here? Where is here? Why is Tom with him?
He looks around again, trying to move his body as little as possible. A hospital room. He’s in a hospital room. And it looks just like all the hospital bedrooms he’s seen on television and in films. There’s even a monitor screen on Dougie’s right that is beeping steadily, so softly he’d missed it before under the noise in his skull. But how did he get here?
He called Tom. He remembers that, in a hazy sort of way. But Tom didn’t answer. So how –?
“– make him go home!” one of the really familiar voices says from somewhere that must be outside the room. The voice is louder than it was.
Dougie’s eyes manage to focus on the door across from his bed, which is slightly ajar. It must lead to the corridor. The voices are coming from the other side of the door.
“You make him go home!” the other voice snaps, and it also seems to be rising in volume. “I’ve tried. He won’t listen to me.”
“He’s going to make himself sick,” the first voice continues, as if the second hadn’t spoken. At least, that’s what Dougie thinks it said, the accent is broad – almost coarse, though with a strange smoothness to it at the same time – and hard to understand over the pounding in Dougie’s head that still hasn’t gone away.
“I know that!” the second voice almost snarls. That voice is easier to understand. More cultured, not clipped, exactly, but the words are less blurred together. “He won’t sleep, he’s barely eaten, won’t even leave the room unless he’s got to fucking take a piss, and even then I’m surprised he hasn’t broken his neck he runs to the toilet so fast. It’s like he’s afraid if he’s not there, Dougie’s going to stop breathing. Like he’s terrified he’ll come back to a flatline.”
Dougie’s brain is having trouble processing what he’s hearing, but he knows those voices. He really, really does. He just can’t quite fish who they belong to out of the muddle of his mind.
“Dougie’s not going to flatline,” the first voice sounds very confident. Too confident. Like the speaker is trying to prove his words to himself as much as to the other.
“It’s been almost a week,” the second voice responds, and there’s a note of hopelessness there that Dougie feels instinctively guilty about. “You know they say the longer it takes him to wake up, the less likely it is that he will.”
“He will wake up,” the first voice insists.
Danny. That voice belongs to Danny, Dougie realizes. And the other is Harry. And they’re talking about –
“You don’t know that,” Harry’s voice sounds almost completely defeated, now. “You can’t. We can only hope. And Tom…”
“Tom already blames himself,” Danny says heavily, as though he is finishing a line they’ve both used too many times recently.
Dougie glances down again at Tom, not sure if he should do something, or what that something would be. He’s having a little trouble following the conversation, and the rise and fall of Tom’s back as he breathes is both distracting and oddly soothing.
“Tom already blames himself,” Harry echoes. “I don’t even want to think about what he’ll do if Dougie –”
“Don’t say it,” Danny almost growls. “Just – don’t. We can’t –”
“We have to,” Harry’s voice is lower, but firm. “We can’t let him keep doing this to himself. If –”
Dougie’s feeling a little fuzzy around the edges, things starting to fade out of focus again, limbs and eyelids heavy, his whole body trying to sink into the mattress. The pounding in his head has become an almost numbed-out throb, like he’s too tired to even absorb the concept of pain. Danny’s and Harry’s voices are dissolving into an incomprehensible murmur.
“Tom,” Dougie tries to say, but it comes out as barely a rasped whisper. He turns his left hand over in Tom’s loose grip so they’re palm to palm, and squeezes the fingers awkwardly laced with his.
Tom shifts, fingers squeezing back automatically, twitching like he’s about to wake up.
The room around Dougie dims and goes dark. He’s asleep again before Tom has even lifted his head.
Back to notes/outline
XIV. Dougie wakes up again – Tom is in the same position, but wakes up when Dougie moves – Harry and Danny aren’t there at the moment (getting food? Home asleep?), but Dougie tells Tom he doesn’t want them allowed in (doesn’t want them to see him like that, though he doesn’t really properly explain that to Tom) – explanation that Dougie’s mum and sister can’t be reached, but Tom and the others have left messages for them to get in touch ASAP – also explanation that Dougie was in a coma for a week (?) and is being kept ‘for observation’ until he’s stable – Harry and Danny don’t come in, but they continue to ‘stand guard’ and won’t let the new band anywhere near Dougie
(some kind of explanation about keeping this out of the press (?) )
XV. Dougie is released into Tom’s custody (needs someone to take care of him, both physically and mentally – isn’t really up to much physically, can’t cook, can’t drive, etc. and is still in post-breakdown mode and doesn’t want to be left alone) – Tom gets him home and sets him up in the guest room – it’s official that Dougie has quit his new band
His reflection stares back at him, too pale, but otherwise no different, tattoos stark against his skin. The star on his chest seems to mock him, defying him to find even a single flash of memory of having it done. He presses his fingers to the glass, tips smudging the image – so like Tom’s – and he can’t – he wants to remember, feels somehow like he’s betraying himself by being unable to. Betraying Tom.
He’s caused so much hurt, but none of it shows. He should be able to see it when he looks at himself, like Dorian Gray’s portrait, hideous and deformed. He should look. Wrong. But it’s the same face in front of him that has always been there. The face that’s been featured on magazines and posters, splashed across billboards. And he can’t – can’t –
Pain flares across his knuckles as the mirror shatters, exploding in silver shards like fireworks or icy rain, biting into his skin as each drop falls.
The door bangs open and Tom’s standing in the doorway, terror clear in every line of his face. “Dougie,” his voice is soft, laced with fear.
Dougie looks up at him, isn’t sure how he ended up on the floor, but. “It was right,” he says, “it was right, it was right, and it shouldn’t be.” He looks down at the scattered fragments of glass, splintering his reflection, and. It’s better. He picks up a thin sliver, barely noticing the way little droplets of red spread down his hand to tint the glass. He holds the piece close, and his broken image resolves into merely a perfect portion – not a whole, but still unblemished. A splash of water hits the back of his hand as he hurls the piece away from him, watches it smash into the tiles and crumble.
“It should be wrong,” he whispers, and his throat feels like he’s swallowed the destruction around him. He can’t look at Tom, can’t do it, but he can see the toes of Tom’s shoes in his peripheral vision, and wishes – something.
Tom doesn’t speak, doesn’t move.
“It should be wrong,” Dougie chokes out again. “It needs to be wrong. Why can’t it just be wrong?”
Tom’s feet shift with his weight, there’s a slight creak from the door, like he’s leaning on it, or holding it, but he doesn’t say a word.
Back to notes/outline
XVI. News that one of Dougie’s new bandmates died of an accidental overdose (Declan? – poetic justice for giving Dougie the knife, or some such nonsense) – Dougie isn’t quite sure what to do about it, but Tom tries to keep him from withdrawing into himself again
XVII. Dougie’s doing a lot better, asks Tom to borrow an acoustic guitar and works on a song he’s had in his head since he moved into Tom’s place (technically a ‘McFly song’ even though he won’t really admit that to anyone) – they watch cutesy Disney movies, and Dougie is even feeling better enough to make fun of Tom for crying at the end
XVIII. Dougie finally leaves the house, goes with Tom to see Harry and Danny, who are glad to see him up and about – Dougie doesn’t drink at all, just has soda (?) – they’ve been worried about him (dur) and both feel badly (especially Harry) about not having kept in touch so well
XIX. Dougie and Tom finally have a serious Talk about what’s been going on with Dougie, who admits all the stress/pressure he was under, and how he couldn’t deal with it – Tom apologises for not having been there more for him and for not answering the phone (he feels GUILTY, poor thing), Dougie tries to convince him none of it was his fault, and that he shouldn’t feel guilty, he did more than could possibly have been expected of him, talk about the fact that they’ve both kept writing (Tom asks about the song Dougie was working on ‘the other day’ and admits to having been writing on his own, and with Danny, and even some with Harry, as well)
XX. Ending (because I am a sap). Plans to reunite McFly (Dougie and Tom talk about it, and Tom talks to Harry and Danny, who are only too happy to do it), and Dougie decides to move in with Tom permanently
a scene cut early on for a lot of reasons, it would have taken place sometime after Dougie went to Tom’s, possibly in place of the mirror scene
Dougie pushes the door closed behind him, shucking off his shirt and letting it fall to the ground. He stares for a long moment at his reflection – too-thin, ribs prominent under too-pale skin, dark bruises under his eyes. He swallows hard and turns away, turning the shower on, hot as it goes, wondering if he can turn it hot enough to scald his life away, be something else, something different, someone new. He sticks his hand under the spray, letting it burn his skin, not caring, hardly conscious of the tears pricking under his eyelids.
He pulls his hand away automatically, wiping it dry on the shower curtain, the painfully rough drag of fabric over raw skin almost good, almost cathartic, and Dougie pauses, red fingers still against the cloth. He closes his hand around a fistful of the materiel and gives an experimental tug. The plastic rings at the top rattle, but hold. A harder tug produces the same results.
He reaches out with his other hand, fingertips sliding across the materiel so gently it’s almost a caress. Abruptly he gives the curtain a sharp jerk, pulling it all to one side. He winds it like he’s going to wring the water out of it, then steps up onto the ledge of the tub. The porcelain is slippery, wet from the still-running shower, and Dougie grips the curtain for balance, clutching at it to keep from falling and smashing his head on the tub. He shudders at the image and grips the curtain a little tighter in one hand, bracing his other against the still-dry tiles of the wall.
Sure he’s not going to suddenly slip, Dougie uses both hands to wrap the twisted shower curtain like a rope around his neck. It’s awkward, cumbersome, and almost impossible to knot. Dougie’s not even sure how he manages it, just feels detached, like he’s moving in a dream that won’t end.
He steps forward, off the lip, and the makeshift noose goes tight, yanking against his windpipe, making him choke, gasp, flail on instinct for an impossibly long second – heels smashing against the tub, fingers catching against the wall – then there’s a crack, and the curtain rod gives way. Dougie hits the ground feet first and his legs collapse under him. He crumples to the floor, the excess curtain half-covering him, half inside the shower, slowly soaking through.
The unlocked door bangs open. Tom stands frozen in the doorway, one hand on the knob, eyes wide and panicked.
Dougie looks away, down, squeezes his eyes closed and pulls his knees up, burying his head in his arms.
“Doug –” Tom’s voice is low, barely audible over the water and the pounding in Dougie’s head, but Dougie can hear it break.
“I’m sorry,” Dougie whispers, voice choking, rasping, painful in his throat. He can feel the tears trickling from under his lids, seeping through the lashes at the corners of his eyes, forcing their way down his cheeks, wet on the skin of his arms. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” He’s not sure what he’s apologizing for, or if he’s even really apologizing to Tom, just lets the words tumble out, muffled against his bare knees. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I just can’t – I can’t – do it alone – I can’t –”
There’s a thud next to him of clothed knees hitting the tile, and then hands fumbling with the curtain at Dougie’s neck, pulling it loose. Callused fingers smooth over the abused skin, and Dougie winces, shudders, curls in on himself further.
“Can’t – can’t – sorry – can’t – sorry –” Dougie doesn’t know if he’s even still saying the words aloud or if he’s just thinking them, the drag of his breath through his throat as harsh as words.
There’s water dripping on his back, hot but not scalding. It takes him a minute to realize it’s not steady enough to be the shower. It’s Tom.
Dougie chokes on his breath, on the words that might just be in his head, and wishes he could just disappear.
I think that’s all I have of it, though possibly there were other bits and pieces floating around in text form on my phone or the phones of others, or in comments somewhere. I know it’s disjointed and all a bit odd, but I really can’t go through it again and try to fix and/or finish it. Apologies for that, and my love to anyone who read it anyway.