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Dark Tunnels

Guest Eli

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Type of story: Short/Medium Fiction

Rating: A

Main Characters: Ric and Flynn

Genre: Drama/Angst

Warnings: Violence/Death

Is Story being proof read: No

Summary: Ric looks back on his life before he moved in with Sally and Flynn (read more below)

I'm posting my new fic "Dark tunnels tomorrow, so I just thought I'd start the thread, and give a sneak peak into the story, and some information about it.

It's basically about Ric thinking about his life, and all the bad memories he have.

The main character is of course Ric, but there will also be a lot of other characters.

Don't know how long it will be yet, probably the same length as "Where do you go", a few chapters.

Rated T/A, VD/(L)

”You don’t believe that?” he asked.

”Oh, I don’t know,” Mattie said, ”What about you? Do you believe that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel?”

Ric raised his shoulders.

”I guess so,” he said. Mattie put her book down.

”Really?” she asked, ”You think that even in the darkest situations, when nothing seems to go your way, everything will turn out right eventually? Always?”


This was not who he wanted to be! But the option was showing how weak he was. That he was a looser wo lost control of his life when his mother died. A looser who got beaten up by his drunk father. If they saw how weak he was they would just force him to talk.

And when he wouldn’t talk they would find a shrink, but no one would be able to figure him out because he was such a lost looser, so they would just lock im up in some institution.

Hope that made you want to read it :)

And also remember: last chapter of "The next moves..." tomorrow!

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Part 1

”I can’t believe he gave us a term exam!” Mattie sighed, and went through the pile of paper on the desk, looking for her notes.

”I know,” Ric replied, ”If I had known this was going to happen I wouldn’t have slept through all those biology classes!”

Mattie smiled at her boyfriend, but her face expression quickly went back to serious and concentrating.

”I’m never gonna get this done!” she said, getting really frustrated because she couldn’t find her notes.

”Don’t worry,” Ric said and put his arm around her, ”In two weeks it’ll all be over.”

Mattie sighed.

”Always light at the end of the tunnel, right?” she said, sounding like she didn’t mean it.

”Yes,” Ric replied, ”light at the end of the tunnel.”

”Just not always,” Mattie said, raising her eyebrows at Ric.

”You don’t believe that?” he asked.

”Oh, I don’t know,” Mattie said, ”What about you? Do you believe that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel?”

Ric raised his shoulders.

”I guess so,” he said. Mattie put her book down.

”Really?” she asked, ”You think that even in the darkest situations, when nothing seems to go your way, everything will turn out right eventually? Always?”

- - -

Two years earlier.

As soon as he opened the door he knew he was drunk again. It wasn’t because of the smell or anything, he just sensed it.

Something told him his father would be drunk, and close to losing his temper like so many times before.

He was right.

In the kitchen his father sat, surrounded by bottles, and obviously very drunk.

”Hi Dad, I’m home,” he said, even though he wished he could just have sneaked past him. That way he would avoid a conversation, but it would be literally dangerous if his father found out he was home without telling him.

He was lucky today, he was too drunk to focus on his son, and just grunted back when Ric talked to him.

He knew he should look after him, but he just couldn’t.

Everything was so much easier in school. The students were scared of him because he was a bully. Deep inside Ric felt bad for being so mean to everyone. This was not who he wanted to be! But the option was showing how weak he was. That he was a looser wo lost control of his life when his mother died. A looser who got beaten up by his drunk father. If they saw how weak he was they would just force him to talk.

And when he wouldn’t talk they would find a shrink, but no one would be able to figure him out because he was such a lost looser, so they would just lock im up in some institution.

Either that or they would see what a horrible person he was. They would see that his father was right, that everything was his fault because he was such a sucker. He couldn’t get anything sorted out in is life, and that ruined the lives for those around him. His father told him that every day, and Ric was sure everyone would agree with him. Even he believed it now. He had been told so many times he was worthless, and a mistake he couldn’t help thinking it was true.

That was why he bullied everyone.

He knew it was stupid. Who would ever go out with a bully like him? Who would even care if he died?

But then again, on the other hand no one would go out with him if they knew what a loser he was either. Getting their respect by being a bully was the only option, because even though he was a loser, it was better to be a tough loser than a weak loser.

No way he was getting help with this and show everyone the real Ric. He would rather die.

His lip was swollen and bloody from being hit by is father’s fist.

”You can’t sit here!” he repeated, trying to get control of his father who refused to move, ”You are too drunk to sit up straight, you need to lay down!”

”Whadd’ya care for?” Owen grunted back, he smelled like a liquor store after an explosion, ”You never cared about ya’ mum!”

”No, no, I didn’t,” Ric said, he knew arguing would just make it worse, but it hurt actually admitting he had screwed his mother over.

”If t’wasn for you she’d still BE HERE, you hea’me?” he shouted and smashed his fist in Ric’s face as he tried to drag him off the chair.

The words hurt more than the fist.

After finally getting his father in to the livingroom and down on the couch where he fell asleep, Ric went down the hall to the bathroom to see how bad his face looked after being smashed.

One look in the mirror was enough. He had a blck eye, a swollen lip and a bleeding wound on the cheek.

He didn’t even feel like crying. He wouldn’t go that far. For a moment he thought ”the bastard isn’t worth it!” but then he had to remind himself this was all his fault. If he had been a better son to his mum this would never have happened.

Plus, he didn’t have time for crying. Now he had to figure out a story to tell tomorrow when people started asking questions about his face.

- - -

”Ric? Ric? Ric!!” Mattie grabbed his shoulder and shook him.

”What?” He said, and turned around.

”You were totally lost from this world for a moment, are you okay?”

Ric shook his head quickly to get rid of the image of his drunk father.

”Yes, I’m fine,” he said.

”Are you sure?” Mattie looked worried, ”Do you need your insuline or anything?”

”No, no, it’s not that,” he replied quickly, ”I was just thinking...”

Mattie put her arm around him and leant forward so she could see his face. He was pale, but other than that he seemed fine.

”What were you thinking about?” she asked.

”Just... my dad...” he replied.

”Flynn?” she asked.

”Um... no, Owen. My other dad.”

”Oh,” Mattie blushed, ”I’m sorry, was it because I started talking about difficult situations?”

No, not at all,” he lied to her, ”It’s just... he was really good at this biology stuff...”

Mattie looked really suspicious, but decided to believe him.

”I have to go home,” Ric said, ”it’s dinner time, and I’m not supposed to drop meals.”

”Are you sure you’re okay?” Mattie asked.

Yes, I’m fine!” Ric assured her before he grabbed his books and left.

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Thanks :)

Here's an update (finally). Please leave comments and reviews so I know whether to keep writing this or not.


Part 2

Ric couldn’t sleep. It was after midnight and he had school tomorrow, so he should be sleeping. He just couldn’t.

So many thoughts...

He couldn’t get the image of his father out of his head. He hadn’t really believed in light at the end of the tunnel back then, had he?

He could remember how he just wanted it to stop; make it all go away...


”Eric! Get in here!” again his attempt to just say hi and then escape to his room failed.

”What is it, dad?” he asked, trying not to show how scared he was. He could smell that his father was drunk as usual, even from way over here.

”Is your lip swollen?”

Ric swallowed. His father was the one who had given him that swollen lip yesterday.

”Yes, dad,” he said trying to stay strong.

Owen was too drunk to be able to focus properly, and he was struggling for a moment, trying to see his son clearer.

”Have you been fighting again?”

”No I haven’t,” Ric replied a bit too fast.

”Are you telling me,” his father said, and Ric could see he was angry, ”that you have a swollen lip, but you haven’t been fighting?”

Ric nodded.

”Have you been bashed?”

He nodded again. ”Yes, dad.”

”By who?” Owen asked.

Ric started sweating, This could be a trick question. If he lied his father might beat him up for being a liar, but if he told the truth... well, he could be beaten up for being a liar anyway.

”You,” he said, regretting it the moment it slipped out of his mouth.

Complete silence for six long seconds.

”Get over here,” Owen said. Ric was too afraid to tell if he was angry or not. He knew he had no choice. If he didn’t do as he was told then he would be beaten up later. If he did as he was told there was a small chance he wouldn’t be beaten up... Maybe his father just wanted to talk?

Deep inside Ric knew that wasn’t even close to reality, but he had to tell himself something to find enough courage to obey.

Slowly, and with shaking knees he walked over to his father.

Owen stared at his face, taking in the image of Ric’s swollen lip, bruises and wounds.

The fist came out of nowhere and hit him so hard it blackened before Ric’s eyes for a second.

”There’s no wonder why I beat you up,” Owen said, ”You’re weak, son.”

For the first time Ric wasn’t just scared of his father, he felt angry. He was maybe weak, but he had no choice! If he didn’t do as he was told he would beat him up, and if he did as he was told he would get beaten up for being weak!

”I’m not your son,” Ric said, grinding his teeth. He had no idea where the words came from, they just came.

”What?” Owen said, and suddenly he sounded confused.

”I’m not your son, and I’m not weak!” Ric said, growing more confident when he saw his father’s confused expression.

The expression didn’t last, quick as a flash he was back to angry, bitter and violent Owen A. Dalby.

”Now, that’s better,” he whispered. Ric was shocked, of all reactions from his father this was probably the one he had expected least.

”Finally showing some strength...” Owen muttered to himself, ”but you’re wrong, son. You’re not a tough guy called Dalby. Your name is Eric, and you’re a weak loser!”

”No, I’m not.” Ric replied, surprising himself by being so calm.

The fist hit him again, right in the eye. It hurt like hell, and Ric felt like he couldn’t take much more pain before he fainted.

”You killed your mother, and you’re weak!”

Ric knew that he had to do something, he was badly beaten up, and fainting could be dangerous. It was not like his father would care about helping him up and getting him a doctor, or his insulin.

For the first time in his life Ric Dalby fought back.

”I’m not weak!” he yelled, smashing his fist in his father’s face as hard as he could. Reduced by the alcohol Owen fell and hit his head in the wall behind them.

Ric grabbed him by the collar on his shirt and hit him again. A crushing sound revealed a broken nose, and his face was already wounded.

All this anger... Ric just wanted to get back at him for all he had ever done to him; all he had ever done to make his life a living hell. He just wanted to hurt him as much as possible.

Ric tried to hit again, but missed and smashed his fist in to the wall. It hurt, and desperate to cause his father as much pain as possible he started kicking.

Owen growled in pain when Ric’s knee hit his crotch. He was already badly hurt, but not bad enough to stop him from fighting back.

Another fist hit Ric right in the face and he felt very dizzy all of a sudden.

In one last desperate attempt to make all the pain from the last years go away he hit as hard as he could. He wasn’t sure if it was hard or not, but he used every single fibre in his body to focus on hitting as hard as he could. He didn’t care if he hit or not, he just needed to hit harder than he had ever done before in his life.

Owen was cramping, and to keep him steady Ric lifted his knee to keep him up against the wall.

He was shaking, exhausted from the fighting, and terrified of his own reactions, and that made him fall.

He fell over his father, and just laid there on the floor for a second, breathing. He was exhausted and scared. He tried to sit up, and saw his father new to him on the floor.

Owen was just laying there, his eyes were open, but he didn’t breathe.

Oh no, he had killed him! Ric couldn’t breathe, he had never been more scared in his life.

Shaking like a leaf in the fall he sat up a bit more.

”Dad?” he whispered, trying to breathe normally, but it was too painful. Owen didn’t answer.

”Dad?” Ric repeated, a bit louder now. Still no answer.

Ric swallowed. He couldn’t find it in himself to check his pulse, instead he got up, still shaking. He didn’t even notice the pain, he just had one thought in his head.

Still with his eyes wide open he looked at his father one last time before he opened the door and ran.

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Thank you for all the comments! Here's a new chapter, I'm thinking one or two more.

Part 3

Beaten up and panicking about the situation Ric didn’t remember much of what happened after he ran off.

He remembered only having one thought in his head: to find Flynn.

Thank God Flynn was a doctor, or he wouldn’t have dared coming to him. Because of how beaten up he was he had an excuse to see him, and no one needed to know that it was just because of the injuries he went to see him.

Flynn was the only one who had been able to see through him and see what was going on, and somehow Ric had the feeling he really cared.

Perhaps he was wrong, perhaps Flynn was just another person claiming to care but abandoning him and giving up on him after a few weeks. Perhaps he was just so tired of being abused that he wasn’t able to judge Flynn like he judged everyone else, but it didn’t matter. He needed to go somewhere, and Flynn Saunders was the only option.

Looking back now Ric knew that Flynn had cared. And so had probably everyone else, he was just so afraid of people who cared after being abused by his father.

They weren’t exactly happy memories, but they were memories, and now they were all coming back to him.

He had been such a bully, he had been taking out all his anger on innocent people. Every night when he went to bed he had felt bad for being so mean and abusive, but he had managed to go to sleep every night. The only thing that kept him going on was his plan and dream. One day he would get out of this hell, and then he would make up for all he had done. He wouldn’t be able to make it up to all those he had bullied, but he would change.

He would find a girl, if anyone wanted him which he sometimes doubted, and he would be nice to her and take care of her. And one day he would become a father himself, and he would be a good father. He wouldn’t beat up his children and call them weak losers. Instead he would take them out to play in the park, walk with them on the beach and place his arm around them on photos.

Perhaps it was weird, but it was the best revenge he could think of after all his father had done to him; to be exactly the opposite of what he had been told to be, - and to be loved for that.

A part of that change was to open up and don’t build walls around himself.

For a while he had really thought he had done that and truly changed. He remembered the day he had the fight with Alf because Alf had walked in on him injecting insulin and thought he was doing drugs, and afterwards he had met Mattie and for the first time in his life really talked about his feelings.

He felt like a new person after that conversation, and when he was offered a home with Sally and Flynn he was sure everything was going to be all right.

But it wasn’t all right. He didn’t get along with Flynn, and when he finally started to fit in and everyone got along everything was turned upside down again.

Flynn was diagnosed with cancer, and he didn’t want anyone outside the family to know.

The fact that Flynn didn’t want anyone to know caused a huge step back for Ric. He could clearly remember the urge to talk to someone that wasn’t family, but he couldn’t betray Flynn after all he had done.

It got a bit better when the secret was revealed, but it didn’t last long.

Ric rolled over in his bed. He really didn’t want to think about the next memory, because it was even more painful than the others.

Of all his memories the next one was the worst, even though it didn’t contain violence, betrayal and abuse.

Losing someone you loved was way more painful than any physical abuse.


A few months earlier

Cassie could be really pushy sometimes. She was always the first one to find out when Ric was trying to keep a secret from everyone else, and she was always the one trying to solve his problems. She could be such a pain, but at the same time she was the one who always knew when he needed her, and when he just needed to be by himself.

Just not today.

They had all known this day would come eventually. Just not today...

Flynn was getting weaker and weaker every minute, and Sally had told them what Dr. Mathews had told her: He only had a few hours left.

Ric had been so sure it had hit him three months ago when Flynn told them he had cancer, but the truth was it didn’t really hit him before now. He was losing his dad.

Sure, he had lost Owen too, but he wasn’t really like a dad. His abusive and drunken behaviour had wiped the father image off him, and instead he was the one who always pushed Ric down.

Flynn hadn’t been like that, he had always helped him up again, even when Owen was the one pushing him down.

Ric knew Flynn hadn’t been aware of it himself, he had just thought he wasn’t getting through to this twisted kid, but from the moment Flynn had looked him in the eyes and said ”I see tears in a tough guy like you,” Ric had found strength to carry on a bit longer.

Maybe he didn’t really understand, but at least he made the dream Ric had wake up again.

Constant bashing and verbal abuse had almost killed Ric’s dream about one day getting back at his father by being a much better father than him. Every time Owen told him he was weak he came closer to believe he was right, maybe he was weak? Maybe he couldn’t change?

But seeing Flynn made him believe there was still hope, even for a guy like him.

By never giving up on him it was like he kept telling him he was right. He was strong, he could be a good person no matter what his father told him.

Flynn was much more like a dad that Owen ever had been, but the pain and memories this day brought back made it hard for Ric. When Sally told them Flynn wanted to see them he just wanted to give in for all the pain and cry.

No, he was done crying. Crying was for the weak, and Flynn had taught him he was strong, not weak like Owen said!

He couldn’t disappoint him by being weak again no, he had to stay strong.

But he felt like he was on the edge, almost breaking down in tears. He knew that seeing Flynn and telling him goodbye would make him cry. He couldn’t do that, not now.

His denial became Cassie the Pushy Cow’s golden opportunity to show her pushiest side of herself.

She tried every single way to get him to change his mind.

”You don’t get another change Ric...”

She started out in the usual pushy way, but when she realized that wasn’t going to work she had to switch to the sneaky and nice way.

”It really wasn’t that bad, Ric...”

It didn’t work. Ric had made up his mind, no more weakness.

He had given in after a while. Alf had made him see that maybe being weak was better than not being there at all.

As he had thought the tears came as soon as he saw Flynn using the little energy he had left to smile and say hello to him.

But Ric could see more than that, he could see that Flynn had been crying.

At the moment he saw that he had been crying Ric gave up the strong attitude and cried because he was sad, because he was losing his father and because he had been hiding his feelings way too long.


These memories were so painful, but they couldn’t wipe away the question Ric had been asking himself since he started thinking about his past; do people ever really change?

Losing Flynn had been way more painful than any of Owen’s verbal abuse and violent attacks, and just the memory made him cry today.

He tired to be silent so he wouldn’t wake up Sally or Cassie or Pippa, but he didn’t try to hide his feelings anymore, because even though he maybe hadn’t been aware of it Flynn had taught his son one important thing during their last conversation; being strong sometimes meant crying and being vulnerable...

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Thanks :)

Here's a new update:

Part 4

”Ric, can you do me a favour and look after Pippa?” Sally said as soon as Ric came down the stairs in the morning. She looked stressed and busy.

”Yeah, sure,” Ric muttered, ”Why are you so busy on a Saturday?”

”I have to go to the school and do some paperwork,” Sally replied, grabbing her purse, ”I should be back by lunch.”

”Okay, fine.”

”I’m sorry I didn’t ask you before,” Sally continued, ”I completely forgot, and Cassie is out with some friends.”

”That’s okay,” Ric said, ”I don’t have any plans for today.”

He had taken care of Pippa many times before, and she knew him so she was a dream to look after as usual.

But something was different.

As he made Pippa a sandwich and watched her smile and giggle when he turned around and lifted her up in a chair Ric couldn’t help thinking about his dream of revenge.

Every time hid father’s fist had hit his face he had sworn revenge. He would never ever treat his own children like Owen treated him.

...And like he treated everyone around him to get their respect...

Was it really possible to change?

He had promised himself to stop being mean and violent as soon as he got out of the hell his life with Owen was. But he had also promised himself he wouldn’t be the closed person he was back then, and he had broken that promise when Flynn got ill.

What if he became just like his father? What if he lost his temper and abused his kids? What if who he and everyone else though he was wasn’t the real him? What if the real Ric was Dalby, the violent and troubled kid almost everyone gave up on?

He swallowed and tried to get the thoughts out of his head while Pippa ate the last piece of bread.

”Wanna go play outside?” he said to her and lifted her out of the chair.

”Yesss! Play outside!” Pippa giggled and gave her brother a hug.

No matter how hard he tried Ric couldn’t stop wondering if he had really changed. He wished he could talk to someone, but just mentioning a personal and private thought like that made him terrified.

”Just another proof that people never really changed,” he though to himself. How ironic.

Pippa was playing on the lawn while he just sat there and watched her. She was playing some kind of tea-party or picnic, and all he had to do was sit there and let her serve him ”tea” and ”soup”, both from the barrel at the corner of the house while he was pretending to drink and enjoy it.

”Hi, how’s it going?” Ric was jerked back to reality when Sally talked to him.

”Fine,” he said, trying to clear his mind, ”Pippa has been playing since brekkie.”

”That’s good,” Sally said before she sat down and turned to Pippa, ”Has Ric been a good babysitter?”

Pippa nodded and smiled, and Ric couldn’t help smiling himself.

”Are you okay?” Sally asked as she sat down next to him on the couch. She had just put Pippa down for a nap and now she wanted some answers from Ric. He had been so silent and distant lately, and she had a feeling something was wrong.

”Yeah, I’m... Fine,” Ric said, avoiding to look at her, but there really wasn’t much to look at.

”Sure?” Sally said, ”because you have been acting weird lately...”

”Nah, I’ve just been thinking about stuff,” Ric said, feeling a bit sick to his stomach from taking a risk like this.

”What about?”

He shrugged.

”Just... my dad and Flynn and things like that...”

”What about them?” Sally said, she wanted to know but she had to be careful. Ric never mentioned these things.

Ric didn’t answer at first. He had to think it through before he said anything.

”Do you think people can change?” he asked, ”I mean... really change?”

”Well, that depends,” Sally replied honestly, ”I think some people are kidding themselves when they think they have changed.”

Ric swallowed, this was exactly what he had been afraid of.

”So you think that people can’t change?” he asked.

”What are you thinking about, Ric,” Sally said, not answering the question, ”why are you asking about this?”

Okay, this was it. He had to tell the truth now, not run away and pretend it never happened. Because it happened, it was happening and he couldn’t pretend he hadn’t asked.

”It’s... It’s just... It’s stupid,” he said, wanting to kick himself for being such a coward.

”I know you, Ric,” Sally said, ”and whenever you say it’s something stupid it’s usually something that isn’t stupid at all. It’s just... scary to talk about.”

Ric sighed, she knew him too well to be fooled like that.

”I just started thinking about how I used to be,” he said, finally letting go of all his fears and talking about it.

”You mean when you... before Owen died?” Sally asked. Ric nodded.

”That was different,” she said, ”you weren’t really like that, it was just a defense.”

She seemed so calm, so sure she knew the answer to this.

”But...” Ric began, suddenly he was scared again, ”What if that was the real me? I mean, my father was like that, and the only reason I changed was because I told myself I had to change.”

”Exactly,” Sally said, ”You told yourself to change. You didn’t change because you were told to, you changed because you didn’t feel comfortable with who you were.”

”I wanted to change because I wanted to get back at him for beating me up,” he snorted, ”I wanted to get back at him by being nice, is that stupid or what?!”

”That’s not stupid at all,” Sally replied, ”That’s a great way to get back at him.”

”But it’s not helping, is it? I mean he’s dead...”

Sally thought for a second.

”Yeah,” she finally said, ”but you didn’t change back. And you know why? Because this is how you are, not how he taught you to be.”

Ric didn’t say anything, he was afraid he would start crying again.

”In the meantime I suggest you work on losing that attitude. You’re not doing yourself any favours,” Morag Bellingham said before she closed the door behind her and left Dalby alone in the white hospital bed.

”Can I ask what this has got to do with Flynn?” Sally asked. Ric didn’t say anything, he was thinking again, and trying to fight the tears coming.

”You really need to start giving people more credit!” Flynn Saunders said, and he actually sounded angry. Dalby felt scared, this was how people sounded right before they were giving up. And so far Flynn was the only one he knew that hadn’t given up on him.

”Why?” he said, not letting go of the attitude, and hating himself for sounding like that.

”Because if you don’t get the chip of your shoulders, you’re gonna end up a very lonely and bitter man,” Flynn said, still not taking his eyes off him, ”Now I don’t know what your dad did to you, I’ve got no doubts it was bad. But if you let him ruin your life, he wins! I would really like to help you on this, but if you’re not prepared to meet me halfway you’re on your own.”

Dalby didn’t say anything.

”I’ll let you think about it,” Flynn said and left him.

Flynn was back.

”Just thought I’d let you know I’m leaving now,” he said, ”I’ll be dropping by to see you tomorrow.”

”Yeah, whatever,” Dalby muttered. Flynn had probably already given up on him, so there was no point in trying to be nice.

”Anything I can get you before I leave?”

So maybe he hadn’t given up just yet.

”No,” Dalby replied.

”Well, I’ll See you tomorrow then,” Flynn replied and left the room.

”Hey, Flynn!”

Flynn had just closed the door behind him, but turned around and opened it again when Dalby spoke to him.

”I... I’ll see you tomorrow, eh?” Dalby said. Flynn didn’t say anything, he just moved his head like he almost nodded before he left.

Dalby sank back down on his pillow. Saying those words and being so nice to someone he barely knew felt weird and different. But it was worth it, because when he said those words he had seen something in Flynn’s eyes. He had seen hope.

No, Flynn had definitely not given up on him yet.

”What Flynn has got to do with it?” Ric asked and looked ad Sally. Suddenly he had forgotten all about hiding tears and thinking things through.

”He didn’t give up.” he said, ”He was the first person that never gave up on me. He has everything to do with this. From the moment I met him...” his voice broke down, and tears were streaming down his face from thinking about these things and talking about them.

”What?” Sally asked, she almost whispered, like she wanted to show him that there was no rush, he could tell her when he was ready.

”From the moment I met him,” Ric repeated, ”I knew...”

He swallowed and bit his lip, trying to force his voice not to break again, ”That I wanted to be just like him...”

The way it looks now there will be one more chapter, but I can't say for sure it won't be two more... We'll see...

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Part 5

Sally came back from the kitchen and handed Ric a glass of water.

He took two small sips and tried to calm down.

Sally sat down next to him again. ”Are you okay?” she asked.

Ric felt kind of embarrassed because he had broken down like that when they were talking.

When Sally had asked why he wanted to be just like him he had only shrugged, tears still streaming down his face and said he admired him for always staying positive and strong.

It was the truth, but there was more to it than just two adjectives; there were loads of memories.

Sally had tried asking about it, but Ric just said that was it. The way he had avoided looking at her when he said it made her sure there was more to it than he said, but she knew it was things he maybe wanted to keep to himself.

He had just been there as a doctor. He could have been there as his friend, but of course he had to mess it up by telling him he didn’t need a friend!

Not that it mattered, Flynn had given up on him now. Yesterday it looked like he had decided not to give up after all because Dalby actually had said goodbye in a civilised way.

But Dalby knew he had messed it up again now. All the things he said about hating his father and how happy he was that he was dead had to have made Flynn give up. Not the most patient person in the world would be able to give him another chance after that.

He just keep blowing it because he was so angry.

Knowing that made him even angrier, plus he was already in a bad mood after the funeral.

At least Flynn was still in his room, even though it probably was because he had to as a doctor. No matter what the reason was it helped a bit, because at least now he had someone to talk to. If he started talking to himself they would all agree he was crazy, and then they would find him a nice padded room with no window.

As long as someone was in the room he could ramble on about how much he hated his father, and make himself look even worse that he already did in their eyes.

They were probably right though, he was probably a lost case... Crazy... Sick and twisted... Evil...

Luckily Flynn wasn’t like the other doctors and nurses. Whenever he started talking about how much he hated his father they told him to calm down. Flynn didn’t say anything, he just looked at him, listening to every word he said. It was impossible to see what he was thinking, he could find it interesting or he could be bored. He could believe him or he could think he was a liar.

Dalby was sure he thought the worst. He probably found this pathetic loser hilarious because he kept talking about the same boring and stupid lie.

But at least he didn’t tell him to calm down. Every now and then he reminded him that if he let Owen get to him he would let him win, but other than that he let Dalby ramble on as much as he wanted.

No matter how angry and evil this troubled boy seemed Flynn was sure it was just a defence.

He had heard the talk in the hallways; the interns and nurses trying to avoid getting his room on their list. No one wanted to be there, they felt uncomfortable, some even scared, and no one knew how to react when he was talking.

Flynn had came to the conclusion that letting him let out his anger by talking was better than making him even angrier by telling him to calm down.

The poor boy refused to talk about what his father did to him to the psychologist. The psychologist, Dr. Evans was a brave woman. Only she and Flynn visited Dalby other than when they were practically forced to. But she couldn’t get anything out of him. He just answered back in a rude way and refused to tell her anything about how he felt.

The only way they ever got anything out of him was when he was complaining loudly about it to whoever was in the room. Perhaps it wasn’t the best way (especially considering a dozen interns who would probably be scared away from medical school for the rest of their lives) to do it, but both Flynn and Dr. Evans was sure it was better than him keeping everything to himself.

Eric Dalby was probably not aware of it, but he answered a lot of the questions the psychologist asked. – Just not during their sessions...

Every time he spat out how much he hated his father an intern moved further down the hall and away from the room, praying to be asked to clean patients instead of walking rounds. But every time he spat it out and yet another intern was scared away from medicine for a lifetime Flynn saw the despair in Dalby’s eyes. He was so scared, and Flynn had a feeling he believed in every bad word everyone had ever said about him.

Just the fact that he talked about how angry he was without being asked, told Flynn there was something more than just a angry boy hating everyone. If he really was so bad he wouldn’t have been there, he would have been dead a long time ago. He was strong, he was fighter... He just didn’t know it himself.

It was all just a defense because he was scared, and Flynn tried not to make him any more scared. He was honest, but willing to watch Dalby crossing the line without freaking out and evacuating the hospital.

The anger was so overwhelming. He just had to spit out every bad word about his father he could think of. And yet Flynn just stood there patient, listening.

Was it because he still hadn’t given up? Or because he had given up but was offered a raise to stick in there and listen to what he thought was lies from an angry psycho?

”I hate him!” Dalby repeated for the fifth time since they came back from the church, ”He deserved it!”

Flynn knew he didn’t mean it. He was just defending himself, making up an excuse so what he had done wouldn’t seem so bad.

He didn’t hate him either, he was just scarred on the inside from years of abuse, and now he was at a breaking point, desperately trying to keep everything together.

”You remember what I said about not letting your father win?” Flynn reminded him. He was on Dalby’s side when he said that, it just confused the boy a bit because no one had ever been on his side before.

Dalby didn’t answer, he just continued trying to take his shirt off. He was so bruised and wounded it even hurt to loosen the tie and unbutton the shirt. Every time he moved to loosen a button his face was twisted in pain. Just not only from the physical pain.

He could see Dalby getting closer every second, he was so close to breaking down now... If he’d just let go of that defense and show some real emotions...

”I loved him!” Dalby burst out, shocked to realise he was starting to cry. He couldn’t stop it, panicked.

A few dry, painful coughs before he gave in to the tears and leaned forwards.

Tears were running down his face erasing the last bits of his tough image, as he leaned towards Flynn, feeling years of pain being released in just a few seconds.

He was scared, ashamed, angry, bitter, relieved, sad, panicking... Everything at once, and it was just too much to handle, so he just cried to the doctor he wanted to be just like. The doctor who had shown him tough love and given him chance after chance, sacrificing traumatized interns to listen to his endless and angry complaining.

Flynn didn’t say anything now either, he just stood there, allowing him to lean towards him and cry his eyes out like a pathetic child, before he carefully moved his hand and patted his shoulder gently so it wouldn’t hurt.

Dr. Flynn Saunders hadn’t given up yet.

This fic is just getting longer and longer... it was originally ment to be a oneshot, then it was 3 parts, and now it looks like 6 or maybe even 7...

So hopefully you will stick with me for a few more updates...

Please review and comment, it's muchly appreciated :)

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Okay, so here's part 6 and guess what: I'm not done with this fic yet!

I really think there will be just one more chapter this time (but I don't think I should promise it...) and it will be up pretty soon.

I have a new fic about Ric and his life before the Bay coming up. It's called "Prettyboy" and I've started writing, so I'm thinking about putting up the first chapter as soon as this fic is completed to avoid confusion.

Part 6

Benjamin Franklin once said ”The person willing to give up his freedom for a moment in safety deserves neither freedom, nor safety.”

What did he mean by that? Don’t everyone deserve a little safety every now and then?

Maybe he didn’t mean that we couldn’t sacrifice our freedom, but what about a moment of it for a moment in safety?

Dalby’s moment of safety didn’t last forever.

The darkness came as soon as Flynn left. It had been a bit awkward when he had calmed down and realised he was crying to a stranger. Flynn hadn’t acted weird afterwards at all, he almost acted like he had predicted this. That though scared the hell out of Dalby; could people really see he was a weak, crying loser?

What happened after he broke down was almost like a blur. He remembered Flynn patting his shoulder and being there for him when he cried. When he had calmed down Flynn had told him to lay down in his bed and rest.

He had been laying there, sobbing for a few minutes while Flynn was sitting, waiting patiently for him to calm down and talk to him.

The weakness Dalby had just shown proved to Flynn how human he was, and that he probably was a good boy deep down.

”You know, you’re gonna be out of hospital soon,” Flynn said, he secretly had been doing some thinking about what would happen to Dalby when he got out of hospital, but it was too soon to mention it, ”What are you planning on doing?”

Dalby tried to shrug, but the pain in his shoulder made him give up.

”Back home I guess,” he muttered, rubbing his shoulder.

Flynn scratched his chin, not hiding that he felt that wasn’t a good idea.

”Are you sure your old home will be the best place for you to go now?” Flynn asked.

Dalby didn’t answer, he just looked up and looked at Flynn for the first time since he had broken down. For once his eyes weren’t hostile and angry, but scared and lonely.

”I mean...” Flynn hesitated, ”It will probably remind you of your father and... whatever he did to you, and I’m not sure if you need that now. From what I saw earlier you might not be as strong as you have been trying to convince everyone you are...”

One step too far.

”Hey! You don’t know anything about me!” Dalby shouted, but he still looked lonely and scared, ”Just get out!”

”I’m not going to leave you alone in this difficult time,” Flynn said.

”Just get out of my room and leave me alone!” Dalby spat back.

Flynn sighed.

”I’ll give you some time by yourself, but I will come back to check on you later. I’m not giving up on you Dalby. I think you’re making this a lot more difficult than it has to be, but if you can’t see that then you need my help to open your eyes.”

”I don’t need your help or your opinion on anything!” he yelled back at him, but the words didn’t affect Flynn like they affected the nurses and interns.

”Just tell a nurse if you need to see me, and I’ll be here as soon as possible,” he said, still staying calm. Dalby looked like he was about to answer back, but Flynn was quicker.

”I know you don’t want me here now because you’re scared and hurt and lonely, but in case you change your mind...”

He left before Dalby even got a chance to answer.

It was story repeating itself.

People claimed they cared, but did they really?

It didn’t look like Flynn was Flynn after all, he had turned out to be Dr. Saunders, just another faceless person who thought he knew everything.

He had seemed so genuine, but the way he had looked Dalby in the eyes and told him he was lonely, sad and scared... All those words were just nice words for ”weak” and it had reminded him so much of how his father used to humiliate him.

Looking him straight in the eyes, telling him he was weak, and couldn't do anything by himself... That was exactly what Flynn had been doing, just in a more gentle was than Owen.

Deep down Dalby wanted to believe, no he believed Flynn truly cared, but he was so scared of the humiliation and pain if he was proved wrong it was better to tell himself Flynn was just another impostor.

He was scared, and telling himself Flynn wasn’t really on his side, and as long as Flynn had seen him cry and wasn’t on his side there was only one thing to do.

Even if Flynn really was on his side the cops weren’t, and probably not that old lawyer-hag sister of the diner-owner either, so it was better to run off.

He knew the streets in Yabbie Creek, but even though that seemed like his first choice he decided to go to the City.

It was bigger, and a lot of people in Yabbie Creek knew him from when he used to hang out in the dark backstreets. Some even blamed him for the death of a young girl some time ago, and Dalby knew they would do anything to send him to the slammer if they found out the police was looking for him.

The safest thing was to roam the streets in the City, stay different places and don’t talk to anyone.

The first night was pretty horrible, and so was the second. But the pain would go away soon, wouldn’t it? Even though his chest was screaming from the pain of the broken ribs, and his shoulder was still in a pretty bad shape he crawled into some old storage boxes outside a sushi restaurant and forced himself to sleep there.

It wasn’t much sleep to get. He was constantly scared of someone finding him, and all his injuries didn’t seem to get any better.

The more he hurt, the more he realised Flynn really cared.

A bloke who would let him cry to him, and then actually pat his shoulder and tell him it would be okay would never have wanted him to go through this.

Because of his condition Dalby tried to eat as normal as possible. Thanks to regular insulin shots and leftovers from a sandwichbar whenever the soup kitchen was closed he managed to stay alive and function.

But the pain was getting worse, and so did the guilt from leaving when Flynn wanted to help him so badly.

He didn’t really have much stuff with him, just some stuff the police had dropped off for him at the hospital. It was a bag containing five dollars, a pen, some clothes and some other small stuff he hadn’t really looked through.

There also was a photo in there. It was taken when he was five, and showed his father, mother and him in the middle smiling at the camera.

They had been so happy, they had been a family. His dad had ruined everything.

Dalby ripped the picture in two pieces, so now there was one with him and his mother, and one with Owen.

Still angry and hurt, Dalby looked at the picture of his so-called father before he picked up his green plastic lighter and lit the picture of Owen. Then he dropped it on the ground, so he wouldn’t get burnt, watching it burn to ashes on the black, cold asphalt.

If the boy really was as tough as he claimed, he would have gone back just to prove he had the guts.

He was hiding, hurt physically and emotionally.

All Flynn knew was that somewhere out there a scared, lonely and confused boy pretending to be tougher than he really was, was hiding from his life.

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Thanks for all the nice comments and reviews! This is the last part, but if you liked this one I recommend reading my new fic "Prettyboy"

Sorry if there's any spelling mistakes here, but my keyboard is messed up, and so is my spelling check...

Thanks to everyone who have read and reviewed this fic, it really makes it worth all the time it took to write it.

- and don't worry, this chapter wasn't planned that much, so it should be okay :P

Part 7


All Ric felt when he thought about his past was shame. How had he ever expected himself to change if he kept waiting for the right moment, but treated people like he did in the meantime?

”Who the hell do you think you are, talking to me like that?!” Owen shouted, spitting for every word.

”You are nothing but a weak loser! You caused your mother’s death, and now you are escaping from your life by roaming the streets?! What will people think of me as a father?!!”

What if he ever became like Owen had been?

The thought had been haunting him ever since he came up with his great plan of revenge, and still he didn’t have any answers.

So scared of one day losing his temper and taking it out on the people he loved... He knew what Macca had done to Cassie, and he never ever wanted to be like that. He would rather die.

”You have to believe in yourself,” Flynn Saunders almost whispered, ”you are not a weak loser!”

Dalby didn’t look at him, he just moved uncomfortably in his chair.

”I killed my old man,” he muttered, ”Doesn’t exactly make me a saint...”

Flynn sighed.

”I’m not justifying murder,” he said, ”but Owen killed you just as much as you killed him.”

Dalby looked up, completely forgetting about his last, poor pieces of tough image.

Eyecontact for a few seconds.

”He tortured you, and tried to kill you piece by piece from the inside, every single day, Dalby!”

”He was right, I have no control, I’m helpless. I killed my own dad.”

”Every single day,” Flynn repeated, ”every single day he told you you were worthless. But if you just have a little faith in yourself, you will see that you can be everything you want to be...”

Ric rolled over. One of his two dads had to have been right, but who?

Again it all came down to one final question; can people ever really change?

He sighed and rolled over again. It was impossible to go to sleep, the thoughts were rolling through his head like some old movie about values and moral.

He had given up sleeping a long time ago, but all the thinking and wondering was exhausting, and at the break of dawn Ric finally fell asleep, trapped in a long series of confusing dreams.

As silently as possible not to wake him up Sally walked up to the half open door and looked in to the room.

He was finally sleeping, but she knew he hadn’t been sleeping for a long time.

She had heard him all night, walking around in the house, pacing in the hall and sighing heavily on the stairs.

She was worried about him. It looked like no one, except for herself missed Flynn as much as Ric did. It was almost like he lost his guiding light and no longer knew where he belonged or who he was.

All this talk about Owen... Sally hadn’t realised the scars from the past hadn’t healed yet, but obviously they were still there – and hurting.

Sally let Ric sleep. No doubt he was going through a tough period, and after a night awake and wandering around with God knew what thoughts and worried filling his head he deserved to sleep.

”Come in!” Sally called out when someone knocked on the door, and Mattie entered.

”Hi, is Ric here?” she asked.

Sally put down her cup of coffee and checked her watch.

”Yeah, he’s still asleep I think, but I’m sure he won’t mind you waking him up.”

She smiled, and nodded as Mattie thanked and left the kitchen, heading for her boyfriend’s room.

”Mmmuhhrrrmm,” Ric muttered, half asleep as Mattie crawled up next to him in the bed.

”Hi, sleepy,” she said, smiling at him.

Ric opened his eyes.

”Hi, what are you doing here this early?” he muttered, and yawned.

Mattie giggled.

”It’s almost noon,” she said, ”haven’t you slept at all this night?”

Ric wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her on the forehead.

”Not much,” he said, ”I have only slept a few lousy hours.”

”What have you been doing all night?”

He didn’t answer, and it only took a few seconds before Mattie understood.

”Don’t tell me you’re still thinking about your da- Owen?!” she said, looking at him with an almost desperate expression.

”Yeeeeahh... A bit...” Ric admitted, ”and Flynn.”

Mattie just stroke her boyfriend’s hair for a long time. It had been pretty tough hearing about how scared and confused Owen had made him.

Somehow this Ric reminded her of herself when she had bulimia.

The feeling of not being good enough, not belonging, it was horrible!

And yet ha had managed to go through all those painful memories and sort it out somehow. Just because he was Ric Dalby, and he was a fighter. He didn’t give up, he saw connections between contrasts, and where the fine line between love and hate went no matter what he did.

She admired him so much for that.

”You know it’s okay to cry, right?” she asked him after just laying there in his arms for a long time. She knew it would be okay to ask that now after all he had shared with her.

Ric smiled.

”I’m okay,” he said, ”Because I think Owen was right.”

Mattie frowned.

”Owen was right?” she asked, ”How?”

He smiled again.

”I was weak,” he said, ”because I didn’t believe in myself at all.”

”Oh, I see,” Mattie said. To be honest she wasn’t really sure how to respond to all this. She could only imagine what kind of memories he had, and she would probably never be able to understand everything.

”You know, about that you said about being like your father,” she said, desperately trying to say something that could help, ”You’re not going to be anything like him.”

”You don’t know that.”

Yes, I do!”

He kissed her again.

”No, you don’t,” he said, ”But as long as I believe in the person I want to be, and think I am there’s really nothing more I can do.”

Mattie sighed. He was right, as usual.

Ric had no idea what the dream had been about. He didn’t usually remember his dreams afterwards, and it could have been about anything.

But no matter what it was about, whether it was meaningful stuff and old memories or purple bears and race-cars it had made him realise the truth.

He couldn’t hide from the life, scared of making mistakes. That time was over.

Even though Flynn was gone the memories were still there, and so was the guiding light.

”What do you want to do today?” Ric asked when they hadn’t spoken for a while again.

”I don’t know, what do you want to do?” Mattie replied, expecting him to say that he wanted to lay in bed all day and think.

But Ric wasn’t keen on wasting more time on what was already gone and in the past. The real memories, and the good parts would stay with him no matter how long ago it happened anyway.

”I wanna go to the beach,” he simply said.

”Really?” Mattie sounded just as excited and surprised as she was.

”Yeah,” Ric replied, ”Definitely.”

Just before they got out of bed he looked at her once again and brought up something that hadn’t been mentioned since it happened.

”You remember what you said about there always being light at the end of the tunnel?” he asked.

Mattie looked confused.

”Yeah, sure,” she muttered.

”You were right,” Ric replied, and he couldn’t help smiling. ”There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.”

And without another word he got out of bed, still smiling, to get ready for a day at the beach. A day with no worries, just teenage fun with his girlfriend.

”Yeah,” he thought to himself as he grabbed his shorts, ”There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. You just sometimes have to walk a bit to get to it.”


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