A/N: Thank you Nirkal for playing Mrs. Pelkonen! 😉 you were a great help to me!
And thank you koira for betaing 🙂
It wasn’t the first time that he had been beaten up. His father had ensured those first experiences and it had left behind the anger deep down, anger for which he found some form of release with his boxing hobby. He had gotten hits from his fellow boxers and there was a past where he had gotten into fights while being drunk himself. Adam didn’t know about those times, the court didn’t and Chris preferred to keep it that way. Still, this was the worst beating he had received. His nose was broken and the doctor said he even had a few broken ribs, if it hadn’t been so painful he would have laughed. So yes, he had beaten Joni, but not this badly, his ex still looked as great as ever. The anger deep down didn’t leave; it kept burning and the flames growing. There was the idea of revenge, of a payback and it didn’t cross his mind that it would only result in a never ending circle of pain and revenge.
When he was lying on his hospital bed, he thought about Joni a lot, still finding everything that happened unfair. He thought of Joni’s father, feeling a strange kind of betrayal from his part as well. He thought about Joni’s current boyfriend and felt anger. He thought of the situation, of what had happened and with the threat that his assaulter had given him; he knew he was somehow connected to Joni. Joni had gone crying to his daddy and that… new guy of his and then… somehow they had to be behind this, though Chris wasn’t sure how. He could speak out of suspicion, demand them to investigate, but… They might be prepared for that, they were cunning… He could be as well though… So, let them parade in their success, let them celebrate their victory for now. It was, after all, strangely amusing…
One thing that Chris knew he had, was time, and he would make sure to use that time to plan, they would be sorry then! He would be the last one to laugh, of that he would make sure.
Joni was still stressed; the thought of Chris stressed him again, making him wish that the assault in prison had never taken place. He was still annoyed at his dad and Misha but tried to live with it, though making them see he hadn’t completely forgiven them either. His dad should be lucky that at least he hadn’t told his stepmother the truth. He had even confronted his cousin Jyri about the deal, who said he had simply asked a favour from a friend and thought it was rightfully done. No one seemed to see the incident from his view and it bothered him even more.
There he was however, holding Suvi’s crying baby in his arms as he was being baptised, clearly the kid didn’t like the process and Joni felt sorry for them both. Aaron Joshua was quite a heavy child in Joni’s view and squirmed a lot. He was already three months old and most children got their names earlier after all.
Adam’s parents had arrived for the occasion; Joni had seen them once at the wedding, plus Adam’s older sister and her husband. He focused on the baby however and tried to forget that everyone knew what had happened to him and to Chris.
Misha was there as well, seated next to Joni’s dad and his siblings. His granddad had seemed somewhat sour upon meeting his new boyfriend, looking much like he had swallowed a lemon; then again he had that look most of the time anyway. Luckily they didn’t need to spend the night there, but at his uncle’s place. Suvi had offered her room to them and even Nina, who apparently didn’t like pink anymore and had changed her style quite drastically when growing up. They all seemed to worry about him and Misha staying in the same guestroom where it all had started with Chris. Joni thought they were ridiculous, if there wasn’t any Chris germs in his old room, surely there weren’t any here. He had stubbornly denied other offers stating that the guestroom was fine.
The ceremony was over; the baby had been fed by Suvi and was now happily sleeping while the rest of them ate. Luckily Suvi had kept the gathering small and everyone was wise enough not to ask him about Chris though Joni could feel the curious stares, especially from Adam’s relatives. Joni did his best not to care, not to notice, he sat next to Misha and his family talking to Suvi who was still somewhat dumbfounded that he wasn’t as happy about Chris’ state as she was.
There wasn’t much chance to talk with Adam, only to know that he hadn’t been able to see Chris yet, not while he was in the hospital. Adam had promised to visit him soon after seeing Chris, if he had time before he would have to return to Canada again.
And so there he was; closing the door to the room where over two and a half years earlier he had been with Chris. Nothing much had changed, not really; Joni noticed. Perhaps the bed sheets and occupants, but… It was an odd feeling, old memories returned and Joni startled slightly when Misha walked up behind him, lowering his hands onto his shoulders.
“It’s only me,” the blonde whispered leaning closer to kiss his cheek. “You’re very tense,” he took notice.
“Yeah… relatives,” Joni joked turning his head to Misha, who slipped his hands down to his waist hugging him from behind, Joni swallowed and turned his head to the side glancing at the bed.
“You’re thinking of him?” Misha asked.
“Yeah…” Joni admitted.
“Because he was here with you…” Misha took note rather than asking, he knew the past and Suvi had filled him in on the details. He knew Joni had met Chris here and that they had slept in this very same room for the first time. Now it puzzled Misha why Joni had so stubbornly denied the offers to sleep elsewhere, when this room clearly made him uncomfortable. He didn’t really want to start questioning the decision though; it might just result in another argument.
Misha didn’t like the idea of Chris having been there either, didn’t like the idea of him kissing Joni or touching him, whispering to him or sharing a laugh which felt a strange idea to him. It felt difficult to see Chris having ever been a better man than he had been in the end, but for some reason Joni had developed feelings for him so there had been a time when…
Joni freed himself of his hold and walked to the window to open it. “It so stuffy in here,” he claimed. From the open window Joni leaned forward to catch the fresh autumn air and Misha wasn’t sure how he should handle the situation that made him feel uncomfortable as well. He probably didn’t like being in this room anymore than Joni did. His gaze wandered on the brunet’s form, down his back to his butt and for a while he stared without realising how improper his thoughts had become. “Want me to rub your back?” He found himself suggesting. Joni turned to him frowning before closing the window.
Misha was sitting on the bed hands over his lap, clapping his hands slowly together. There was a somewhat goofy smile on the Russian’s face which in the end made Joni snigger.
“What?” Misha asked.
“Nothing,” Joni smiled and approached slowly. Misha was there and he had dreamed of him being there back then, wandered what it would be like, even then when lying next to Chris.
“I mean just a rub and that’s it, I thought since you are so tense and all…” Misha tried to explain and Joni smiled and nodded before sitting next to him.
“I know,” he assured watching Misha before leaning closer to kiss him slowly. “Okay… if you can just rub my shoulders for a bit,” Joni suggested and slowly turned his back against Misha, suddenly feeling too self conscious or unwilling to undress. Misha sighed to himself before taking a better position and lowering his hands on Joni’s shoulders to massage him through his clothes.
“You’re still tense,” Misha said with soft tone and Joni looked down on his hands that rested on his lap.
“There’s no need to be.”
“Its being here I guess,” Joni sighed. “How they look at me and … what they must be thinking and… You noticed how my grandparents hardly even spoke to me, perhaps it’s because after all of this they can’t just pretend that I’m not gay, or perhaps… it’s like they think that what happened is because of what I am, or maybe I’m just over thinking everything, hell I don’t know. It’s just… I find this place so stressing and I just want to go back home.” Joni lowered his own hand on Misha’s urging him to stop. Misha gave him a sad look, he had noticed how Joni’s grandparents had seemed to avoid talking to Joni, or looking at him even.
“Perhaps they just don’t know what to say to you,” Misha guessed and Joni shrugged his shoulders turning to face him.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “I’ve never been that close with my grandfather, I think we just don’t get each other; we’re too different in many ways. And he’s too old to change the way he thinks. I guess I’m more hurt that grandmother is avoiding me as well, like I have done something bad or shameful. Imagine if they ever find out about the pictures, they would deny me ever being related to them, probably would claim that my mom had an affair when conceiving me.” Joni laughed but it sounded fake or nervous and Misha pulled him close to hug him.
“Stop thinking that you have done something wrong, okay? And who cares what they think? If they can’t accept you it’s their fault and not yours.”
Joni lowered his head on Misha’s shoulder looking at the door and the room, the memories of Chris were strong here and made him simply uncomfortable. He let go of Misha and sighed.
“Okay, I should brush my teeth now,” he said as he got up to get his toothbrush from among his things.
Misha laid on the bed staring at the ceiling, wondering once more how things might have been without Chris. He hoped that Chris would just… disappear from the face of the world, never to be seen or heard of again. Mainly Misha just wanted Joni’s happiness and that they could both achieve a normal life together, where everything would be simpler than it was now.
It was Tuesday afternoon and Joni sat in the comfortable office on his therapy session, which he was getting more used to having. Still, there were some things that he hesitated to say, things that bothered him. One thing was definitely Chris’s beating and that Misha and his father had been behind it.
”Okay, that’s it for today Joni. I think we make some good progress though you seem a bit distracted today. Did something happen at your trip? Something you want to talk about before we end today’s session?”
Again Joni hesitated. ”Well… It’s… complicated.” He started giving her a somewhat nervous look. ”I think it was overwhelming… We stayed in the same room where… Chris and I… back then… and…” He took a deep breath. ”My ex was beaten up in jail, I heard about it last week…”
Pauliina furrowed her eyes. ”Well, these are two things. You have problems being close to your boyfriend, being alone in the same room. Because you feel uncomfortable – because you want sex but don’t know if you’re ready?”
Yeah…” Joni admitted. ”Often I think that I want it or that I’m ready but then… I don’t know…It starts to progress and I sort of freeze… Like… I can’t keep him from my mind… and now… I just worry, after finding out and… Misha is very protective… He would never hurt me, I know…but…” Joni sighed frustrated with how to voice his rather confusing thoughts. ”Sometimes he can over do it, the protecting that is and… I guess it can affect that too? It’s…I don’t know how to explain this…”
”We talked about bringing your boyfriend to join a few of our session, perhaps now would be the right time? We could start a kind of couple-sex therapy beside your normal therapy? I think it will really help you and from what I heard it will help Misha, too.” After Joni nodded with a relieved sigh Pauliina continued. ”And Chris got beaten up in jail? Well, that happens, jail is not the most peaceful place but how did you hear about it and why did you mention it?”
Again Joni drew a deep breath. ”My cousin told me… I know my dad and Misha didn’t like the sentence he got… and…” Again he hesitated, brushed his hair with his hand. She couldn’t talk; she couldn’t tell the cops anything that he revealed there, but still it was stressing to say it. ”They didn’t tell me, maybe thought it would help, I don’t think it will and I don’t like that I wasn’t in on the secret… This… doing stuff behind my back like my opinion doesn’t matter, I hate it. It feels… controlling, in a way…”
The therapist blinked confused. ”Are you saying your dad and your boyfriend set someone up to attack Chris in jail?”
Joni looked at her for awhile before nodding. ”I don’t agree with it… It’s not that I feel sorry for him, it’s just… I worry that what they did works opposite from what they intended. It solves nothing… I never want them to …get trouble for it and… I’m stressed out about that and I’m stressed out about how Chris reacts now… I know he blames me for it and I just wanted… this entire thing over with.” He shrugged. ”It makes me feel helpless. And I just want to… I want a normal relationship and sex too but all of this is affecting me… I don’t know, but I’m confused…”
Pauliina nodded and put a hand on Joni’s shoulder. ”I have an idea. You bring Misha for the next session and then we talk about it. So we don’t have to start with the sex topic but can talk about why he set someone up and what you feel about it, okay?”
Joni nodded carefully; worried that Misha would be mad that he told her. At the same time he realised that the fear of Misha getting mad was from the past with Chris, Misha wouldn’t act the same way and in the end… he had more right to be upset than Misha did. ”I’ll take him with me… Actually, I’ve already said I’d like him to join and… He agreed.”
”Very well. I am looking forward to get to know him. Wait a moment.” She checked her notebook. ”I have a date free this Friday evening, another patient cancelled his appointment. If you want, you can already come then or next week, it is up to you and Misha. Perhaps you talk to him today and give me a call or write me a message?”
Joni nodded, he didn’t have anything planned and Misha shouldn’t have either but it was best to check with him first and also warn him that she knew. ”It should be okay, but I’ll check with him and get back to you as soon as I can.”
Joni hadn’t completely forgiven him and Misha knew that. Perhaps it had been a fool’s hope that Chris’ beating would somehow solve everything or at least make things better. It was somewhat frustrating to think that Chris would always haunt their minds in one way or another. Though Misha felt nervous going to the therapy session, knowing that the woman knew what he and Asko had done, knowing they would both get into big trouble if the word spread. Joni had managed to reassure him to some extend. Joni had assured him that whatever they would tell her in therapy would remain confidential, she couldn’t go telling cops about it.
Misha smiled a little nervously when stepping into the office and politely offered his hand to the older woman who responded with a kind smile and tight handshake.
”Welcome Mr. Volochov, I am Pauliina Pelkonen. Just for starters: Joni and I use each other’s first names and I’d like to offer you the same.”
”Sure, its fine with me, you can call me Misha.” Misha nodded trying to smile before glancing at Joni who was already seated. He slowly sat down next to his boyfriend, unable to find a comfortable position on the couch; he simply couldn’t make himself relax.
”I guess Joni told you why he and I want you to join our sessions. Before we delve into the topic let me reassure you, that I won’t tell anyone outside this room because Joni is my patient and now so are you. So no need to hold back, okay?”
Misha relaxed slightly and nodded, again glancing at Joni who this time looked back at him, making him feel more relaxed. ”Okay, anything as long as it helps Joni,” he agreed.
”Well, actually I want to help you two, not just Joni.” She smiled again. ”But now, I’d like to start with why you set someone up to beat up Chris in jail.” She saw Joni open his mouth and added quickly: ”Please Joni, let him state his reasons first.”
Joni had that annoyed disapproving look and this time he was glaring at him, waiting for the answers and Misha took a deep breath before starting. Maybe Joni would finally listen to his side? ”It’s just not enough… what he got after doing those things to Joni… I want him to realise that he better stay far away from my boyfriend from now on and he needed a taste of his own medicine! He wouldn’t have listened otherwise! That man needs to understand what he did and how wrong it was!” Joni shook his head at this.
”Oh yeah, this will so help the situation!” He snorted sarcastically, folding his arms over his chest.
Pauliina nodded and smiled. ”Wait a moment Joni, listen to his point of view. We talked about that of course, what Chris did he did to you but the people that love you feel some of the pain and the shame and often more like you, the anger and hate.” She turned back to Misha. ”So you wanted to add more punishment to his sentence, wanted to make him realize what he did to Joni and make him realize to stay away from Joni?”
Misha nodded, glancing at Joni who still seemed upset but didn’t protest, instead listened quietly. ”Yes, I don’t think Chris feels he did anything wrong and that’s the part that kills me the most. I see the change in Joni, I see how he is affected and… I just… I felt helpless, I want to make sure that the asshole realises its over, that he won’t dare to approach Joni ever again.”
”I won’t start to tell you that self justice is illegal and I won’t judge if Chris deserved it or not. There is a small possibility that you get caught and then can go to jail but I know Joni talked to you about it and he told me, too. He is really worried about it, deep down. He needs you and you know that. But let me ask you another thing: Do you really have the impression that violence against Chris, someone who used violence against someone he still claims to love, will bring him back to his senses, make him realize his wrong-doing and make him regret and let Joni go?”
Misha was silent for a while, looking at Joni and wondering about her words. ”I-” He started before sighing and continuing. ”I just needed to do something, okay?” He said addressing his words more to Joni than the therapist. ”It’s not often that I feel helpless…. I don’t like it… and a man like Chris… I worry and it seemed wise back then, planning it…” He shrugged looking back at the woman. ”I had to do something; I couldn’t just stand back and wait.”
Pauliina nodded and then looked at Joni. ”That is what we talked about. People who love you want to help you. And especially your father and Misha also want to protect you. They feel helpless when all they can do is sit back and wait and when the outcome, in this case the lenient sentence, is depressing they start to get upset and frustrated and just want to do something. That happens to you, right Misha?”
Misha nodded slowly, Joni was giving him a hesitant look. ”I hate what he did to you, okay?” He said looking at his boyfriend. ”The idea of something similar happening is… terrifying. Chris is something I can’t understand or control and so I acted with your dad and… Both of us feel the same helplessness I think…” Again he shrugged glancing at Pauliina. ”Perhaps it wasn’t wise, or rational, but … I just … I felt so helpless otherwise like you said.”
Pauliina nodded and then looked at Joni. ”Now, what did you feel when you realized what Misha and your dad had done?”
Joni tried to clear his thoughts before replying. ”I was angry and frustrated… I guess I though I had finally figured out how to move on and then this… To be honest I’m afraid again.” He glanced at Misha who listened with a frown over his face. ”You don’t know Chris like I do, and I am sure beating him won’t help at all, quite the opposite. And… also… the fact that you worked behind my back, treating me like a child almost… like my opinions don’t matter, that you know better.. It’s… it makes me feel like you don’t trust my decisions, or treat me like an equal, that I’m so weak… I hate that.”
Pauliina looked at Misha. ”Do you know the feeling when you’re in a room with a wheelchair user and he tries to leave the room and struggles with the door? The first impulse is to help but then you hesitate because perhaps your help isn’t wanted and he has to solve situations like that himself and… And while you still think of what to do, someone else had asked the man and helped him. Now, to prevent such situations you simply blast the door off its hinges but now the wheelchair user freezes because the door cannot keep the cold and snow outside.” Pauliina smiled.
”This picture may be a bit weird, but I hope to get my thought through. Joni suffers from a mental trauma and pain and is like a mental wheelchair user. But with time and help, he can let the wheelchair behind but it’s not helping to blast the door off because now he has to take care of how to repair it while freezing. Asking if he needed help would have solved it. Telling him how unsure and frustrated you feel, not knowing how you can help him and help yourself, help you two together, that would be a good start. Joni needs a boyfriend, someone who he can rely on but someone who also respects him as a grown adult, a grown man who wants to be in charge of his life and leave that wheelchair behind to walk hand in hand with you. Not you carrying him, or blasting his doors and obstacles out of his way, but on his own feet with you by his side.”
Misha and Joni looked at one another and then the blonde nodded. ”I understand… I guess I was…well, okay… I did wrong and I’m sorry for that. I try to change my ways, okay?” He asked and this time it was Joni’s turn to nod.
”No more stupid stuff behind my back?” The brunet questioned and Misha nodded.
”I promise. Just don’t hide things from me either, things that bother you or worry you or anything.” Misha kept looking at him until Joni nodded in return. Perhaps they could still learn to communicate better?
Paulina smiled to herself. ”This is a process and it takes time. It is not always easy to ask for help; especially men have sometimes problems with that. Joni, you have to learn to ask for help, and not only for you but also for Misha who needs to do something, who needs to feel he’s helping you and that he can make you feel better. And Misha, you have to accept that Joni is a grown man who has his pride and that is good. He needs this pride to restore his self-confidence. You can help and offer help but you shouldn’t take decisions away from him.”
Misha sighed to himself, deep down he knew he would have a difficult time to change his ways completely, to stop protecting Joni so much, but he would try. ”I like Joni’s pride and no, I wouldn’t want to be the one to kill it so… Okay, I try my best… But you have to forgive me if I sometimes act so protective that it starts to annoy you.” His biggest fear at the moment was something bad happening to Joni and he knew he couldn’t change over night to drop some of his old habits. Joni looked at him again smiling slightly and nodded. ”As long as you try your best.”
”Okay, that was a very good talk. I’d like to meet more often, additionally to Joni’s single sessions and then we can talk about how good you communicate with each other. And there is another topic Joni wanted to talk about, your sex life. If you are okay with that Misha?”
It would be odd to talk about those things with her, but as long as it would help Misha was ready to try. It was just getting so difficult and a bit frustrating and he wanted Joni to realise there was nothing to fear he wanted him to be able to relax and most importantly; enjoy sex. ”Yes,” he replied glancing at his boyfriend before back at her. ”I’m okay with that,” he assured.
”Fine.” She smiled at the two men, looking through her notebook. ”Next week, Thursday evening, at seven o’clock?”
Joni glanced at Misha, who nodded. “I’m free then,” the blond answered.
“Good, till next week then. It was very nice to meet you Misha.” They shook hands again and said their goodbyes before leaving. Misha silently wondered how much a woman could help solving two gay men’s sex lives, but perhaps there was no harm in trying.
A/N: Please review , either on shout box or the questbook where the review link leads to, it won’t take much of your time, but would mean a great deal to me! Reviews are the fuel to writing 🙂
Web published: October 2nd, 2011.
My Secret Shore