Written by: LJ
Thank you to Dee for beta’ing this for me.
Warning: This will pull at your heartstrings.
Kadyn slowly slid down an open space on the living room wall; a handwritten note clutched in his trembling hand. He couldn’t believe what he’d just read. This wasn’t really happening; it was only a very bad dream. He desperately tried to hold on to the renunciation he hoped would make it all go away.
‘But it must be true,’ he reasoned at the feel of his father’s arms tightening around him and Bandit’s head dropping down on his lap. Both were trying to offer comfort, each in their own way. For several moments, the silence in the house was almost deafening. Then Kadyn began to sob; his anguish tearing at the heart of the man holding him.
“He-he’s gone,” Kadyn stammered as soon as he was able to speak somewhat coherently. “I wasn’t good enough; I was too young; I wasn’t worth the amount of trouble I caused him; I was just too much work.”
“That’s not true, Kadyn! You are in no way to blame; no one is. The note explains why he left and nothing like that was ever mentioned.” Mr. Hart gave his son a slight shake. “Listen to me, my boy. Vincent is very ill; he may even be terminal and he did not want to put you in the position of watching him slowly waste away. He chose to set you free instead. Now while it’s possible the brain tumour he has been diagnosed with may have interfered with his thinking clearly, this was the choice he made and neither you nor I have any control over that.”
“B-but I would have taken care of him,” Kadyn hitched, scrubbing at the tears spilling down his cheeks. “And-and I don’t care if he left me the house cause I don’t want it; I want only him!”
Sensing his son’s inability to deal with the shock of his lover walking out on him, the older man unhurriedly got to his feet, bent over and placed a hand under Kadyn’s arm, and determinedly pulled him into an upright stance. “Let’s get you home, Son. Your mother and I will be close by whenever you feel like talking and we’ll support you in any way we can.”
Several months later:
Kadyn squirmed excitedly in the driver’s seat as the mountains loomed closer. He reached over to gently stroke Bandit’s soft coat. His pet had not only brought him comfort during sad times, the dog had also provided companionship and protection during their travels together. “Almost there, boy. We’ll only need one more stop to fuel and use the bathroom.”
Although still on the flatland and somewhat east of Calgary, the majesty of the Rockies called to him. In an hour’s time he should be in the foothills and at this pace he could in all likelihood reach his destination in just under eight hours.
He had left Jade Heights a disillusioned, shattered shell of what he’d once been, but he was returning whole and hearty. It had taken him time, but he’d healed himself.
Kadyn’s thoughts went back to that dark period in his life last fall when he’d returned with his father, brother and two brothers-in-law from their annual hunting trip to discover that his life was about to change drastically, never to be the same again.
Normally Vincent would have been with them, but he’d used the excuse of being too busy to go this time. Kadyn recalled his lover had been plagued recently with reoccurring headaches and seemed to have been getting crankier; practically to the point where Kadyn sometimes felt he was walking on egg-shells. Although the older man had adeptly side-stepped all of Kadyn’s voiced concerns, he hadn’t succeeded in totally eradicating them. Kadyn would later wish he had pushed harder.
Upon their arrival, his mother had handed an envelope to his father. There had been a look of sorrow and helplessness in her eyes as she signalled with a slight nod of her head at their youngest child. His father had quickly read the note inside and briefly closed his eyes before reluctantly handing it over to his son.
Kadyn had curiously watched the exchange between his parents and had accepted the sheet of paper with some trepidation. He quickly scanned over the words and shook his head in disbelief as he looked up at his mother and father in dismay. Then he turned on his heel, ran out of the apartment and made a beeline for home to find Vincent. His father and Bandit were fast on his heels. The note proved to be true; Vincent was gone.
The first few days after learning he’d been abandoned passed in a haze of numbness and denial. They were quickly followed by bouts of self-blame and then anger. One cool Autumn afternoon in mid-October, Kadyn went to the lake and removed his collar. He read the engraving on the inside for a final time, pulled back his arm and hurled the precious reminder of his past status as far out over the water as he possibly could. It glistened in the sun for a moment or two before sinking forever into its’ watery grave.
His parents supported him through it all. His father even accompanied him to the bank where he’d talked to Lucas Hudson, the manager, about putting the house up for sale. It was then he’d been informed that the book store was also on the market with the proceeds going to an account in Vancouver.
As he drove along, the miles steadily faded behind him. Kadyn concentrated on the road ahead; the road that was taking him home. Letting his mind wander once again, he recalled with a newly found understanding a visit he had paid to their family doctor.
Dr. Dean had patiently explained Vincent’s symptoms and initial diagnoses without a lot of medical jargon. In an attempt to relieve some of the emotional pain he knew Kadyn was suffering, the good doctor told Kadyn he believed Vincent was convinced he was acting in Kadyn’s best interest. Vincent felt his chances of recovery were slim at best and he truly though it was imperative not to let someone as young as Kadyn suffer along with him. Vincent had also felt himself loosing control and greatly feared becoming abusive.
Although Dr. Dean readily admitted it might have been easier on Kadyn had he been given the opportunity to be involved in the decision making process, more importantly he wanted to impress upon Kadyn that Vincent had always loved him and would forever cherish what he considered the most precious gift his young partner had ever given him: his submission. In addition, the doctor sought Kadyn’s understanding that Vincent had begun to constantly fret over no longer being able to properly meet Kadyn’s needs.
When he finally accepted the inevitable, Kadyn also realized he would have to leave Jade Heights if he was ever to recover. He was already finding it hard to deal with the questions and looks of pity from the people he came in contact with. He also knew he would never survive the fast approaching Christmas season without Vincent.
So after talking it over with his parents, he rented out his ceramic business, bought a second-hand Subaru Outback in a-one condition and hit the road right after Halloween. He had no fixed destination in mind; he just went wherever the highway took him. Almost three weeks later on a bitterly cold November day, his journey ended in a place that was the furthest he could go without leaving the country. In St. John’s, Newfoundland, he discovered an interest in the sea and fishing. It was a godsend at the time, even though it would never fully replace the love he had for his Rocky Mountain home.
He’d remained in touch with his family and several close friends back in Jade Heights. Over the months he’d learned of the sales involving both the house and the book store. He’d also been informed of the carelessness of his tenant which resulted in the fire that completely destroyed the ceramic shop. Fortunately, no one was hurt and it was heavily insured. So another substantial cheque was deposited into his account by the bank manager.
Last week he had received a letter from his father that would find him heading home; a forty-five hundred mile drive that would take several days. His parents had decided to retire. In fact, his mother’s legs had at long last given up and her hands were getting too sore to continue serving her customers. She had recently sold her hairdressing salon and both she and Kadyn’s father wanted to move to a seniors’ complex. If Kadyn wanted to take over the convenience store, then he better get back as soon as possible and do so. The family business was what Kadyn had been groomed for all his life, so it wasn’t at all a difficult decision to make.
Kadyn sighed contentedly as he drove higher into the mountains. It was Easter Monday, a beautiful Spring day and a new beginning for him. He’d come to grips concerning a life without Vincent. As much as he would have liked to keep in touch with his former partner, he knew it was easier on both of them not to do so. Besides, he was now strong enough to go on without him. He’d always have a special place in his heart for his first Top; be eternally grateful for all Vincent had taught him about himself, and for all the older man had given him. Maybe in time, he’d even be able to find someone else; possibly a new Top who would give him another collar. But he wasn’t ready for that at this point in his life; he wasn’t yet ready to trust again. But someday he would be, of that he was certain.