This is the darkest part of the story and has some themes that may not be for everyone. I dont want to give spoilers, but please read my authors note at the end of the story for more info.
Matched Part 3 - Match Point
Chapter 1 - Secrets Are Revealed
Damien drummed his fingers on his desk absent mindedly. He had piles of paperwork to sift through but they sat unopened beside him in a haphazard pile. He was too distracted of late to focus on his work, his mind was filled with worry and anticipation about the upcoming visit.
His parents were arriving in one hour. They would arrive precisely to the minute, as they always did, but still he found himself flinching at every sound, thinking it might be them. He hadn't been on edge like this since he was a child. He had learned to put up with his parents and live his life away from them as much as possible. But now he had something to lose, something he knew they would try to force away from him.
He wondered if he had made a huge mistake. Perhaps continuing on with them blissfully unaware would have been better. But then, when they eventually got to have a wedding ceremony, he would have to at least inform them then. And if he didn't, would they not be worse the longer it was a secret? No. He had to clear the air and have everything out in the open. Elliot did not deserve to be treated like some dirty little secret. If they had a problem with him, then he would fight any battle that came his way.
He wished Elliot was here now, He felt calmer when he was nearby. It was almost as if he oozed a calm aura like mist, he could feel his very muscles relax when he was close. But with him gone he felt tense, agitated and achingly lonely.
He had only left yesterday for Harvey and Ella's house, but it felt like too long. Even though it had been Damien's insistence that had convinced him to leave. He wanted to shield Elliot from his parents as much as possible. He had to do this the right way, and forcing a stranger on them the moment they arrived he knew wouldn't go down well.
The minutes ticked ever closer and his mind tormented him with the worst memories of his parents. His father smacking him across the cheek at twelve years old for a B grade in his maths test as his mother watched, her eyes distant and icy. His many hits over the head for various misdemeanours as a child, or just because he was angry and needed someone to blame. Then there was the spanks, sometimes with harder utensils than his hands... but he couldn't bare to relive those memories.
As a child Damien had preferred his father to hit him than he hit his mother. He had thought of himself as her protector. But the older he got, the more he realised how little his mother had tried to protect him in return.
He had even tried being a rebellious teen. Away at boarding school he grew confidence in himself and sometimes broke the rules with his friends. But as soon as holidays struck he would be punished, returning to school wincing from bruises and withdrawing from friendship circles to focus on his work.
This was why he couldn't bear to hurt Elliot. He would get angry, he had his fathers temper and he loathed that about himself. But he refused to ever show it physically. He liked to think this was a strength in himself, although his father would probably sneer that he was weak.
His mind fell on the last time he had seen his father. They had begrudgingly let him take control of the estate, but under strict orders not to change any of the decor. You may think this was a kindness but when you own fourteen properties globally, it wasn't exactly a big sacrifice. He had tried to show his gratitude nonetheless, but for the first year he hadn't stepped foot in the place. There were too many bad memories.
It was only when Hector had told him he had to reside in the place to oversee some work that was being undertaken that he began to warm to the place. It was a beautiful building, and he decided not to hold his past against it. He made small tweaks to the place. He got rid of the chair that his father had liked to sit in when he beat him... The fire iron, that had to go too.
He longed to get rid of that painting, but he knew the housekeepers or some nosey family friends would pass that back to his parents. He remembered the day that painting was done, he was furious at his father for making him do it, and somehow the artist had captured that anger and made him look confident. His father scolded him for it, saying he looked like some upstart rabble rouser, but he hung the painting anyway. From then on he would use it to remind himself that he could fake confidence and control by using the anger and hatred of his father. It took a long time to break down those hateful thoughts and learn to be a normal person again. That god awful painting, it couldn't go, not yet. His changes had to be subtle.
"Try not to waste away all your financial assets we've helped you accumulate on ridiculous parties and such," his father had said in a bored voice.
"I don't have ridiculous parties, I have the occasional networking events that are actually very beneficial-"
"I really don't care what you call them," he interrupted. "They're pathetic and serve your already inflated ego. Remember without me and my fortune you-"
"I know. I would be nothing without you," he said for the millionth time since he was old enough to be given his weekly allowance. He secretly wished he was nothing, nothing would be better than this constant need to prove himself to his eternally disappointed father. A repeating reminder of his failures.
"Exactly right, and don't forget that whilst we're in India. You're to keep the family investments afloat, finally do some real work for the money you flippantly spend."
He gritted his teeth. He had never spent any of his fathers money flippantly, careful to only spend money he had earned himself. But in his fathers eyes all that was also his. It made Damien feel sick, like a little boy following Daddy's orders, not a fully grown man.
The relief he felt when they left was equal to the dread he now felt at their return. He had to tell them about Elliot. He had to tell them their only son was gay, not only that, engaged to another man. He wondered what he would do.
There was a knock at the door of his study and he was pulled from his reverie.
"Good evening sir, just letting you know that Mr and Mrs Parker have just passed through the gates."
"What?" He looked at the clock, "he had been sat reliving painful memories for almost the entire hour. He stood, straightening his suit, feeling his heart in his chest. The housekeeper gave him a look of understanding and hurried away. Most of them hated his father too. Rude, impatient and self important man that he was.
He picked up his phone from his desk and saw a text from Elliot.
"I miss you, let me know how it goes x"
The words gave him a burst of strength. He could and would do this. For Elliot.
He approached the door and took a deep breath before opening it. Stepping out of the car at the foot of the steps were his mother and father.
They both were more tanned than the last time he saw them. His fathers once greying hair was fully grey now, and his mother had developed crows feet wrinkles around her eyes. She looked colourful in a bright sari with a intricate floral brooch at her breast. She had been trying some fad diet again as her skin was sallow around her cheekbones, but she smiled anyway.
"Hello darling, thank you for inviting us," she said, approaching him and giving him a kiss on each cheek. She smelled of exotic spices and shea butter.
Then his father walked towards him, his moustache still sat above his lip, dark black hairs flecked through the grey, his eyes so much like his own except filled with something more menacing, framed by large brows that always seemed to be frowning.
"It's hardly an invitation when it's our home Gloria," he chided, reaching his hand out to Damien. Damien shook it and his father nodded without a word.
"My name is on the deed, so technically-"
"Technically nothing, I bought this place. It is still my home boy don't forget it."
Boy. Really? Still? He decided to grit his teeth and ignore the insult. He needed to keep his father sweet. Well as sweet as possible.
"Well are you going to let us in or are you going to slouch in front of the doorway all day?" His father grunted.
Damien opened the door for them and they followed him in, Hector lugging a pair of enormous suitcases behind them.
"Ah I forgot how beautiful this place was Richard," his mother said fondly, looking around with a look of nostalgia.
"Oh shut up Gloria," he snapped and Damien saw his mother flinch away from him, lowering her head.
For one brief moment the submissive stance reminded him of Elliot. His chest clenched. Was this how he treated Elliot? Was he this unkind and demanding? No. When Elliot took this position it was out of respect, loyalty and a desire to please. His mothers face was only filled with fear.
He had sworn to himself he would never hurt Elliot, yes they had the occasional fun in the bedroom, but Elliot was always part of the experience, not a victim. Perhaps it was his own fathers treatment that had brought this dominant desire in him.
He wondered what Elliot would do if he had chided him in this way in front of a member of his family or a friend. He would likely have obeyed, it was so deeply engrained into him now, but he could see the hurt and anger in his face even now. The reddening cheeks which he so adored filled with a shame that didn't feel good to him. Their relationship was built on trust, it was that trust that made it so strong. They knew the expectations of one another, and if Elliot did occasionally step over the mark, a look would be enough to stop him in his tracks. They thrived on this balance, Elliot's submissive nature perfectly in balance with Damien's dominance. A tip too far on either end of the scale would ruin what they had.
His father walked towards the parlour, ignoring Gloria's hurt expression and helped himself to a bottle of Damien's whiskey. Without offering a glass to anyone else he took his place in the large wing backed chair.
In a flash he remembered kissing Elliot in that chair the first night he had come to the estate. They had been playing chess, then he had thrown the game aside and pushed him down. He had kissed him and held him and felt the powerful taste of pure happiness for the first time in his life. The surprise in Elliot's face had made his whole being fizz with desire for him. His cheeks blushing, his eyes betraying a desire that he did not understand yet, his mouth parted, lips cool from the icy whiskey that now lay seeping into the carpet, waiting for another kiss.
He shook the memory aside. Not now. He needed a clear head and that memory alone was enough to rouse unhelpful urges.
"How was India, mother?" He asked and his mother beamed, shaking the vestiges of hurt from her expression and settling herself on the sofa beside his father.
"Oh it's wonderful. Everyone there is so polite, and the food is exquisite. Then there is the weather, sunny day after sunny day... you should come and visit, perhaps Christmas?"
"I'm sure Damien is far too busy to be flying to India and back just for Christmas," his father said haughtily and Damien grimaced.
"Perhaps he is right, it is a long way mother."
"Of course I'm right. More importantly I hope all my investments are being well looked after?"
"Yes, we have made good strides in all the businesses we are invested in."
"What about that little friend of yours, his app... Meets was it?"
Damien resisted sighing, even in India Matched was the No1 dating app, there was no way he wouldn't know what it was called.
"Matched is doing very well. They recently had a slight hiccup with a hacking issue but with some time and effort we got it back on track and now it is making more profit than ever, it's users have grown exponentially since-"
"I hope you haven't been wasting your time on these goldfish investments. I need you to look after the big money, the sharks if you will."
"But Matched makes more money than half of our other investments put to-"
"Exactly! Only half. So look after those others first."
He decided not to argue further, although he already felt his limited patience waning. Had they really only been here a few minutes? He felt exhausted.
"So why did you ask us to come here then?" His father asked abruptly and Damien straightened.
"Pardon?" He asked, although he had heard him clearly enough, perhaps to bide more time, dreading the words he would have to say.
"We don't hear from you in years bar the occasional Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas. Then suddenly you ask us to come back over here. Why?"
"Well, I guess there is a reason I wanted you here, yes. I wanted to tell you some big news."
"Getting married or pregnant?" His father said shortly.
"Sorry?" His shock making him splutter, this isn't how he had planned things going.
"Bloody hell boy, are you deaf?" He growled "Are you getting married or did you get someone pregnant."
"Oh wonderful!" His mother squealed. "I was beginning to think it would never happen! Where is she?"
His fathers eyes narrowed as he looked at him closely.
"There's something more, isn't there? What aren't you saying? Is she some common muck you scrapped off the street?"
"You're right, I am engaged. But she isn't a she... he's a he."
There was a long silence, his mother gazed in shock first at him and then slowly to her husband, fear and worry were all over her face.
"Oh Damien," she said, as if he was on his death bed. "What have you done?"
The silence stretched on and his mother looked away from him, suddenly more interested than her brooch, avoiding the coming disaster.
"Are you telling me," his father growled, his face red with fury, teeth clenched "that my only son is a Nancy boy puff?"
Damien's insides squirmed at the slur but he stared resolutely at him, keeping himself calm and collected.
"I am gay. I have been gay for years, but I have never told you. But now I'm getting married, I thought you should know."
"You LITTLE," his father stood, his arm raised as if to strike him, but he dodged out of reach. He kept his face cool, even though his heart raced. Every shred of his childhood self was screaming to run away, to hide, to cry for his mother to stop him. But the adult Damien had learnt to control his emotions, as well as a little self defence in his twenties. To his relief, his father did not follow him, just stood, fists clenched.
"Where is he?" He growled "do you let him stay in my house?"
"He is away currently, but yes he has been living here with me for the past few months."
"That's it! I'm taking back the house! I don't want any of that gay hankypanky nonsense happening under my roof!"
"For the second time," Damien said raising his voice, all his anger from the evening flooding into his words "It is no longer your roof. You put the house under my name, if you don't want me here anymore then fine. I will sell it and all it's contents and move."
"Sell?!" His fathers face was turning purple now, his mother deathly white. She was looking at him in horror, perhaps because for the first time he was standing up against him. It felt good. Like ripping off a scab that had been itching and infected under his skin.
"You need to learn some respect!" He hissed.
"No father. You need to start respecting me. I have made you millions, I have followed your instructions to the letter, I have even looked after the house. I am done with letting you treat me like I am still a child. Soon, you will be an old man and I will be the one in control of your wellbeing and your living situation among many other things, don't forget that."
"IS THAT A THREAT?!" His father roared.
Damien poured a whiskey and calmly took a sip.
"Careful father, I'd hate for you to give yourself a heart attack at your age."
The man, who once he had been so scared of, spluttered before him like a fish on land. It looked pathetic. The odd words reached Damien's ears.
"How dare...I will not be spoken to... some pansy boy in my house!"
A knock at the door announced Mrs Crows who, looking nervous, declared that dinner was ready.
"Excellent, I'm starving!" Damien said cheerfully and left his parents in his wake.
Chapter 2 - Match is struck
The meal was awkward. They ate in absolute silence, and it reminded him of his many childhood sat at this very table this same way. Although back then he usually still had tear stains on his cheeks, tracking through the raised red hand prints. Or wriggled uncomfortably on the seat with his stinging bottom.
Today he ate cheerfully, it was going well. He had the upper hand.
"I hope you're not expecting us to pay for the wedding," his father blurted out midway through dessert. "It should be the brides parents traditionally. Which one of you is the bride?"
"Neither of us are the bride. But I will pay from my own finances, do not worry. You do not even need to attend."
"Huh, well thats one good thing at least," he muttered.
His mother looked forlornly at his father as if desperate to say she wanted to be at her only child's wedding, but hung her head defeatedly.
"Who is he?" He grunted.
Damien swallowed. He knew this was good. If he was asking these questions the initial shock was wearing off. But he didn't want to tell his father about Elliot, he wanted to shield him away from him, but he knew he couldn't do that. He also didn't think he could keep his cool if he started using those slurs about him.
"His name is Elliot," he said grudgingly.
His mother smiled slightly at her plate, but said nothing.
"And what does he do?"
"He recently started a job at Matched," he said honestly and his father rolled his eyes.
"Please tell me you didn't meet on that god awful thing?"
"Actually yes, we met through Matched."
"Honey, the app is very popular," Damien's mother piped up in a quiet voice "my friends all swear by it-"
"Enough Gloria, for Christ's sake. The men are talking."
Damien felt anger rise in his throat.
"Don't talk to her like that," he warned.
"Damien don't-" his mother started to caution but his fathers temper rose again.
"You do not tell me what to do you spoilt little brat!"
"No father, enough is enough. I invited you here to tell you the truth. You now know the truth. If you want to leave back to India, you can leave. Tonight if that's what you want. But I'm done hiding from you, I'm living my life with or without you."
His father considered his words for a moment.
"We will leave. But before we do I want to meet your... fiancée and I want to meet his parents."
'No!' The protective creature inside him cried. He didn't want to imagine this man and Elliot in the same room. The one he loved the most and the one he hated the most. But he needed to show strength against his father, if he rejected this he would know his weakness, he would get the upper hand again.
"Okay," he said reluctantly. "His father died a long time ago, but I could invite his mother? His sister too?"
"What is she like?" He asked gruffly.
"I don't know, I have not met her yet myself."
His mind wandered then. What would Elliot's mother be like? Would she be like him? He had only spoken fondly of her, so she must be a good person. He had hoped to meet her away from his parents, to make the right impression.
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