Categories > Original > Drama0 Reviews
Based on Cold Chisel's "Flame Trees". This' part of a one-shot series, called "10 Songs". -Zack Baker / Brian Haner- -A7X Fanfic-
Music was pumping from the car speakers, keeping me company on my long drive from Las Vegas, all the way back home, to Huntington Beach.
It was only a four and a half hour trip, but having turned off the wrong exit, it turned into a six hour drive.
It felt strange to be driving down the deserted highway, like de ja vu, only in reverse. It'd been four years since I'd driven that road, in the opposite direction, trying to leave behind my life. The trees had grown, some fallen and replaced. Signs had been vandalized. It was home, in the truest form.
I had half expected to see the same group of kids standing on the corner as I entered the town limits.
I drove slower than what was needed, looking around the street. I spotted a few of Mum's friends drinking at the local pub. I almost stopped to greet them, but decided against it.
As I turned down my street, my heart began to race, my hands sweating lightly. I was nervous to face my Mum again, I was afraid to see her again after four years. I'd left without a word to anyone, family or friends. I'd packed my things during the night and left.
I parked in the driveway, gripping the steering wheel tight. The front light was on, as well as the lounge room light. I could see the TV flickering against the curtains.
As quietly as possible, I opened and closed the car door, hoping to avoid attention while I gathered my confidence again.
I'd made a speech up on the way home, practicing it while I drove. During the time my old house was visible, I'd managed to forget the entire thing.
I stepped carefully up the path, dodging the "guard frog" Mum always had. It was a plastic frog with motion detectors. I'd always hated it, purposely trying to run over it when I'd first gotten my license.
I stood at the front door, wiping my sweaty hands on my jeans, finally plucking the courage to open the screen door and knock. I almost had a heart attack when I heart someone’s footsteps walking towards the door. I had to bite my lip to refrain from screaming as the front door opened.
'Hi, Mum.' I whispered, burying my hands into my jean pockets, my shoulders slumping back.
'Oh, Zacky.' She murmured, throwing the door open and wrapping me in her arms. I stumbled back, almost falling as she slammed into me. A familiar scent filled my nose, tingles running through me. Rose, and lavender, was my Mothers favorite scent, so our house always spelled like it, as well as her clothes, sometimes mine, and her hair. I used to hate it, having lived with it for my whole life. But in the time I'd been gone, I'd grown to miss it.
I would have hugged her back, but by the time by brain had processed everything, and indulged on the sweet scent that was my Mother, she's taken a step back, frowning. I was about to ask her what was wrong, but she slapped me before I could speak. I raised my hand to my stinging cheek, my jaw dropped slightly.
'How could you just run off like that?' She hissed, her hands on her hips.
'Four years, Zacky. It's been four years and we've heard nothing from you at all!' She cried loudly, throwing her arms up.
'I'm sorry, I just needed to get away for a while.' I mumbled, slightly ashamed of myself, and embarrassed for my Mothers yelling. Our street had always been quiet, so any argument, and no matter if it was indoors or not, was heard by everyone.
'I wish you would have said something. You didn't even tell your friends! We were so worried, Zacky. Anything could have happened to you!' Mum ranted, her voice rising as she went along.
'Mel, is everything okay?' A familiar voice called from over the fence. I turned around quickly, almost tripping over my own feet in the process.
Matt, one of my oldest friends, also my next door neighbor, was standing at the fence that separated our houses, his head slightly peaking over.
'Zacky?' Matt asked, his eyes wide. In a second, he'd scaled the fence, landing with a thud as his feet hit the pavement. Matt had no trouble with the fence, where I would have needed a boost. He was over six-foot, while I was a mere five-eight.
'No way. I'm dreaming.' He muttered, stepping forward to touch my shoulder. I slapped his hand away before engulfing him in a hug.
'Geez, Matt. You got tall.' I laughed, stepping back from him. Mum stood by my side, looking up at Matt as well.
'And you haven't.' Matt laughed.
'Where have you been? It's been years!' He exclaimed.
'I had to get away from everything, y'know? So, I went to Vegas.' I shrugged.
'Come inside, son. Let's have a talk.' Mum sighed, laying her hand on my shoulder, pushing me forward. I managed to wave to Matt before I was shoved into the house, Mum slamming the door behind me.
The hall was relatively the same, a few more pictures on the walls, and a vase at the end of the hall. All the doors were closed, which was unusual for Mum.
'Would you like a drink?' Mum offered, as if I was a guest, not her son. I nodded softly, following her into the lounge room.
I expected it to be the same, with out family portraits on the wall still. But, as I entered the lounge room, I nearly fell over the back of the couch, since it was practically in the doorway, face a large TV, that wasn't there before I left.
I sat down on the couch, which was still the good old one we'd always had.
While Mum scurried off into the kitchen, fiddling with things while the kettle boiled, I searched the lounge room, taking in every photo, every new detail.
The family portraits were gone, replaced by, what I thought was, a new family. Mum was in them, a man I didn't know, and a young girl.
There was a picture of me on the heater, the frame sparkly and pink. Next to it was a photo of my friends sitting around a bon fire, beers raised, all crowding around my Mum. It was my seventeenth birthday.
I felt wrong in the lounge room, especially since it felt like a stranger’s home, not like my own. I almost felt like crying, for the loss of my home.
'Here you go.' Mum whispered, handing me a coffee cup, sitting down across from me.
'Everything's changed.' I mentioned, sipping at the coffee, smiling because it was exactly how I liked it.
'I don't feel at home anymore.'
'Things changed, Zack. It has been four years.' Mum nodded, placing her cup on a coaster. That was new too.
'After you left, I was lonely. I met Shawn at a barbeque. We're happy.' She murmured, looking up to the photo on the wall. I gulped down my coffee, my teeth clenching around the rim of the cup.
'The girl, Emma. She's nice. She's like a daughter to me now.'
'So you've replaced me. Thanks, Mum. Really.' I snapped, rubbing my forehead, nearly spilling my drink.
'No, no! It's not like that, Zacky. They're family, yes. But, you're my son. I could never replace you.' Mum said quickly, rushing her words. With my free hand, I gripped a hand-full of hair, tugging. I wanted to go home, and I didn't mean back to Vegas. I wanted to turn back the clock and never run away.
'Why did you leave, Zack? I know things were hard with your father, but we could have talked.' Mum said, reaching across the coffee table to take hold of my wrist, pulling my hand out of my hair.
'I didn't leave because of Dad. He made everything harder, but he wasn't the reason.' I mumbled, hanging my head.
'Why did you leave then? Please, give me something, son. I need to know.' Mum whined, crossing her legs. I sat my cup down, sitting back with a grunt.
'I can't tell you yet.' I said, my hands curling together in my lap. I felt horrible for running away, even more so to leave with everyone asking questions, and not knowing any answers.
'I need to talk to someone before I say anything.' I murmured, standing up.
'Zacky, it's almost eight o'clock. You know it's rude to visit after seven.' Mum scolded, taking my cup and hers into the kitchen. I followed her in, almost stepping on a toy car, carelessly thrown into the corner.
'I'm sure he won't mind.' I said, digging my hands into my pockets, needing something to do with them.
While Mum washed the cups, a habit she had, I looked around the room, picking out things that were missing. The fruit bowl I had made for Mum was gone, replaced by a large vase in the middle of the kitchen table. The drawings I'd done throughout school were gone. The fridge was littered in school achievements, the name "Emma Grieveson" printed on each of them.
Again, there was a photo of me on the wall. It was a baby photo, right next to one that had to be Emma's.
'Do they live here?' I asked, turning back to Mum. She was drying the cups, putting them away. Even that had changed. The cups used to be in the cupboard above the sink. They'd all been moved down to where the plates used to be.
'Yes. Don't worry, your stuff is still in your room, untouched. I locked the door.' She smiled, gesturing to the sting around her neck. She pulled it out of her top, holding up the key to my bedroom.
'Emma wanted your room. But, I couldn't bear let her in there, let alone re-arrange it. Shawn understands.' She said, handing the key to me, reaching over the bench. I took hold of the key, holding it tightly in my hand.
'I need to go see someone. I won't be long.' I said, already turning on my heel, leaving my Mother alone in the kitchen.
I nearly ran out of the house, trying to avoid the lecture of common courtesy, and running out in the middle of a conversation.
I clutched my key tighter, setting it gently in my pocket, almost afraid to lose the only key to my bedroom.
I walked passed my car, not needing it to go down the street. All my friends lived on the same street. Matt and I were neighbors, Jimmy lived across the street from us, Johnny lived a bit up the street, and Brian was at the other end.
I pulled my hood up over my head, jogging down the street. The weather was nice, warm, but I'd become accustomed to Vegas's warmer nights. Under one of the street lights, I spotted a shiny rock. I had to go out of my way, crossing the street, just to kick it.
After the rock fell down the drain, I crossed to the right side of the street, counting the pavement squares.
I felt like I was walking too fast, his house coming up way too quickly for my liking.
I had to stand outside of his house for a moment, gathering my thoughts. I was nervous, more so than I was with my Mother.
I ended up having to kick myself, and talk myself up, to get my feet to move forward. My hands were clenched, my jaw tight, almost to the point of pain.
If it wasn't for the front light having a sensor, I probably would have left and gone home.
I sighed, knocking on the door softly, hoping they weren't in bed. Inside, I could hear footsteps, something being dropped and someone cursing. I took a step back from the door, rocking back on the heels of my shoes. I flopped my hood off, ruffling my black hair.
The door opened slowly, a dark shadow standing in the door. I didn't need a light to know who it was, his figure was unmistakable.
'Zacky?' Brian whispered, opening the door more, stepping into the light. His hair was a mess, the back sticking up at all angles while the front was limp, dead in his eyes. It seemed even Brian had changed, just like my home. His hair was shorter, a little darker. His arms were coloured, decorated by tattoos. I couldn't spot our tattoo, the one we both got together at fifteen.
'Hey, Brian.' I whispered, smiling up at him. Thankfully, I was only an inch or so shorter than him, not like Jimmy, where he towered over all of us, even Matt.
Brian stepped outside, closing the door behind him. I stepped back, making room for him to stand between the door and me.
We stood there for a moment, the silence dragging on. I wasn't sure what to say. The front light shut off, easing my nerves a little.
'Fuck it.' Brian murmured, throwing his arms around me, hugging me tight, almost too tight.
'Can't breath.' I wheezed out, pushing at his shoulders. He stepped back quickly, smiling at me.
'Jesus. Everyone’s changed so much.' I said, gesturing to his large arms, the colours standing out, even in the dark.
I, like Brian, had gotten a few more tattoos, but nowhere near as many as him.
'It's been four years, Z. We've grown up.' He said, frowning, creases forming in his forehead as his arms crossed across his chest.
I couldn't help but notice how intimidating he looked, especially wearing a faded black wife-beater. If it wasn't for the fact that I knew, and grew up with him, I would have been scared.
'Why are you here?' He asked, stepping back so he could lean on the front door. The light switched back on, almost blinding me.
'I wanted to apologize and, y'know, talk.' I muttered, rubbing the back of my neck, my cheeks heating.
'I just... I want to explain why I left. I know you know why... But I need you to understand. I need you to know it's not your fault.' I whispered, digging my toe into the cement, my fingers knotting in the hem of my shirt.
'Zack... Y-You leave in the middle of the night, you don't call or tell us you're okay... And we don't hear from you until now? We didn't know if you were dead or not, man!' Brian frowned.
'C-Can we go for a walk? We need to talk about this.' I murmured, turning my body towards the street. Brian held his finger up, telling me to wait as he stepped back inside for a moment. I rocked back on my heels again, waiting for Brian.
While waiting for Brian, I pulled out my phone, clicking a button so the screen lit up. It was only ten passed eight, and the sky was pitch black.
The front door opened again, Brian yelling a goodbye to his Mum as he walked out, closing the door loudly behind him.
He'd changed into a pair of faded jeans, a jacket thrown over his wife-beater, and some shoes slipped on his feet.
I turned around, walking towards the street with Brian jogging so he could walk by my side.
There was silence between us for a while. We passed my house without a word, and Matt's. We passed Jimmy's with only a sigh. By the time we'd gotten passed Johnny's house, at the other end of the street, I was ready to start telling Brian about what I had for lunch, just to break the silence.
We turned the corner, heading down the dead end street, towards the beach we all so lucky lived by.
I could hear the waves crashing. I could smell the ocean breeze. A smile crept to my lips, my childhood flashing before my eyes as we got closer to the sand and the water.
I remembered the days we had in the sun as kids, running around with our parents on the beach.
I remembered the nights too. We'd drag out the bonfire stand and sit on the sand, drinking until the sun rose.
The beach felt more like home than my own house did.
I jogged forward, grinning as my feet hit the sand, my shoes sinking in slightly. I felt like taking my shoes off, just so I could dig my toes into the sand.
'I'm guessing you missed the beach.' Brian smiled, walking ahead of me, sitting down on the sand, only meters from where the waves crashed onto the shore.
I walked up beside him, dropping down so I was sitting too.
'It is my fault you left.' He muttered, his eyes glued to the water, the moonlight reflecting off the surface.
'No, it's not.' I stated firmly, my voice almost too low to hear.
'Zack, you left after I rejected you... Tell me how that's not my fault.' Brian demanded, turning towards me. Hurt tainted his eyes, his brows folding in as he frowned.
For some reason, I found myself laughing, even though the situation was far from funny.
'Brian, I left because I was afraid of what you'd say in the morning. I was afraid I'd lose my best friend over something as stupid as a crush.' I said, my laughter dying down.
'And, I was afraid I'd lose myself. I wasn't sure if I was gay, or it was just you, so I left.' I explained, frowning down at the sand, pressing my hand into it till there was a dint.
'How did leaving help?' Brian asked, anger dripping in his tone. His face was calm though, maybe a little sad.
'I needed to think, and it was easier without having everyone standing over me. And... It was easier without worrying about what you were thinking.' I murmured, looking up into his eyes for a moment, just until his gaze un-nerved me.
'You don't know what it felt like, Bri. I gave you my heart, and I felt... relieved that my secret was out, like it wasn't such a burden. But, as soon as I got home, I felt like I made a mistake.'
'You confused me, the night you left. I felt like I'd done something wrong.' Brian said, lying back on the sand, his arms folding behind his head, like a makeshift pillow. I turned to him, sitting cross-legged by his side, looking down at him as he looked up to the sky.
'You didn't do anything wrong. It was me.' I said, tempted to reach out and touch him.
Back before I'd told him of my secret, we used to be close. If there were no seats available, Brian would pull me into his lap, rather than let me sit on the floor or stand. If I was cold, he'd offer his jacket, or if he didn't have a jacket, he'd wrap his arms around me.
It was one of the reasons I had fallen for him; his kindness.
'How long are you back for?' Brian asked after a moment of silence, only the waves crashing.
'I don't know.' I sighed.
'I don't feel at home, Bri. I thought that I'd be comfortable here, but I'm not.' I murmured, using my index finger to draw in the sand. I drew a heart with an arrow through it.
Brian didn't say anything, his eyes closed, his breathing turning rather heavy. I would have thought he was asleep if he wasn't frowning.
I looked out to the ocean, watching the small wave’s crash into the sand, the larger waves coming closer.
I stood up slowly, trying not to make much noise. Gripping the hem of my hoodie, I quickly tore it over my head, dropping it gently to the sand. My T-shirt and jeans joined the pile, as well as my shoes and socks.
Brian hadn't moved, his eyes still closed.
I padded across the sand slowly, almost giggling when my feet reached the wet sand, the waves rolling over my feet.
'Zack, what are you doing?' Brian called. I looked over my shoulder, smiling. Brian was sitting up, his eyebrows raised.
'Going for a swim.' I said, walking into the water, the hairs on my body standing straight from the cold. I kept walking until I was waist deep, turning to face Brian.
'You should join me.' I smiled, falling backwards as gracefully as I was capable of. I shot to the surface of the water, spitting out the water that'd gotten in my mouth, wiping my eyes with a smile.
Brian jumped up, hastily stripping his clothes, only leaving his boxers on.
I laugh loudly as Brian ran into the water, stopping almost as soon as his feet hit the water.
'Dude, that's freezing!' He exclaimed, rubbing his arms with a grin. I ran forward, well, more like stumbled, scooping my hands into the water to splash Brian, causing him to shriek, and dive sideways.
His hair stuck to his face as he stood back up, his arms wrapped around his body, preserving body heat.
'Just get in. You'll freeze your balls off out there.' I laughed, heading out deeper, so the water level sat at my chest.
Brian seemed to take my words as a challenge, running forward as far as the water would allow before diving in, popping up a few feet further, and swishing his head to the side to rid his face of wet hair.
'Can't we get arrested for this shit?' Brian asked, swimming towards me slowly, even though he could stand.
'Since when do you care? We've been arrested before.' I reminded him, thinking back to the nights we'd all spent in the local jail cell. We'd been released with a warning, except Jimmy, who'd gotten a small fine for "indecent exposure".
'Zack, we were kids back then. We're adults now and we can get in a lot more trouble than we used to.' He said. I suddenly felt out of place again. I wasn't expecting Brian to change so much. In that one little comment, I realized how much I'd missed.
When I'd left, we were barely legal, drinking as much as we wanted on the beach, caring about so little. Now, I felt like I was the only one still stuck in that time.
'Brian, you're twenty-fucking-two! We're still kids, even if we're no longer protected by the "minor" title.' I stated, my happy, gleaming mood sinking into the depths of the ocean.
'When you left, we kinda realized that we had to grow up. Drinking all night long was wrong without you there. Hell, shopping felt wrong! All the fun things we used to do reminded us of you.' Brian shrugged, trailing his fingers over the surface of the water gently. Little ripples whipped through the water, the tiny waves meeting my chest.
There was silence between us for a moment, the waves slowing down slightly.
'Did you meet someone?' Brian asked, his voice strained.
'No.' I whispered.
No one can compare, I thought, bringing my hands out of the water, rubbing my chest roughly for a moment, just over where my heart lay behind bone and skin.
'Have you ever thought of doing something spur of the moment?' He asked randomly, his hands clenching in the water.
I just nodded my head, unsure at what to say.
Brian closed his eyes for a second, stepping forward as he raised his arms from the water. I almost recoiled as his wet hands touched the sides of my face, my heart leaping erratically.
I barely had time to think before his lips were on mine, my mind scrambled from the simple touch.
His lips felt like I'd always imagined. Soft, warm and, seemingly, delicate. I was almost glad I'd taken out my snake-bites a year before hand.
My heart was racing, my body reacting slowly, though not in the way I wished.
I took a step back, slipping on something in the water, sending me down, along with Brian since he had a grip on me.
The water gave way to our bodies, splashing around us. Unfortunately, my mouth was open when we went under, so I'd gotten a mouthful of salty water.
I forced myself to the surface, choking and spitting out the water, wiping the excess water from my eyes.
Brian was already to his feet, his hair swept back, a smirk playing on his lips.
'Geez, talk about a mood killer.' He laughed, hiking up his boxers that'd fallen down with the weight of the water.
I blushed furiously, stepping a little further back, being careful not to slip on something again.
'You could have told me, y'know? Just plantin' one on me doesn't work like it does in the movies.' I stated, trying to cool my cheeks down.
Brian just shrugged, stepping forward, one arm slipping around my waist, my body forced against his.
My heart was pounding, and I was sure Brian could feel it.
'W-What are you doing?' I stammered.
'I wanted to tell you something, the night you ran away. I was in shock, and it took me forever to get the guts to go around to your place. You were gone, Zack.' He frowned, touching my face gently with his finger tips.
'What do you mean?' I asked, my brows furrowing in.
'I wanted to tell you that... Jesus, Zack. I wanted to tell you that I like you too. But you were gone. I thought you'd come back, but you didn't.' He whispered, frowning as his hand around my waist gripped my hip.
'B-But you... You rejected me.' I said, my thoughts all over the place.
'I didn't know I had feelings for you until you were gone. I'm not... I'm not an open person, Zack. I'm not like you, I can't just tell someone I like them.' Brian mumbled.
'I didn't just come out with it, Bri. I was trying to tell you for months, but I wimped out because I didn't want to lose you as a friend.' I said, laying my hands on his chest, looking up at him.
'You think it was easy for me? That was the hardest thing I had to do. I went in knowing, if you didn't feel the same way, I'd never be able to face you again.' I said, a whiney edge to my voice.
'You didn't give me time to think. One day. If you waited one more day you would have had your answer and we wouldn't be having this conversation, freezing our arses off.' Brian whined back.
'Come on then.' I sighed, winding my way out of his embrace, trudging back to the sand. Brian caught my wrist as I was waist deep, pulling me back against him. His arms were around me again, like they were before. One around my waist, while the other cupped my cheek.
'Let's try once more, shall we?' He whispered, gently tilting my face up before pecking my lips lightly. His arm tightened around my waist, holding me against his chest.
I reached up and wrapped my arms around his neck, teasing his bottom lip with the tip of my tongue. He smiled against my lips, stepping back.
'So worth the wait.' He whispered.
'Four years of waiting and that's all I get? Man, I want a refund.' I teased, smiling as I turned around, shuffling my way to the beach again.
My boxers were drooping from the water, so I held onto the elastic waist, not really keen on showing Brian my arse just yet.
'Whose idea was it to go swimming?' I asked as we walked back from the beach, our clothes in our arms.
These were no people on the street, besides the home owners that came out to put the bins on the curb. They scowled at us, obviously not liking our half naked and dripping wet bodies.
'I believe that was you.' Brian laughed, bumping me with his hip. I stumbled, almost dropping my clothes.
'Yeah well, it's not like I had a gun to your head or anything.' I smiled, shouldering him as we turned up my driveway, nearly walking into my car.
I hadn't noticed that my Mum was sitting out the front until she spoke, my mind too pre-occupied with Brian laughing and stumbling over his own feet.
'Hello, Brian.' Mum smiled, waving to him with her free hand, the other wrapped around her coffee up. She was sitting at the small garden table we'd always had, her feet up on another chair and her dressing gown wrapped tightly around her.
'Oh, hey, Mel. Shawn out of town?' Brian asked casually, taking a seat at the table. We both dumped our clothes on the table, our shoes by our feet. I had to knock Mum's feet off the chair so I could sit, the other chairs not at the table anymore.
We used to sit outside to drink when we were younger, all the chairs gathered around the table. There was always one more person than chair, and I'd end up on Brian's lap.
Mum nodded, taking a sip from her cup.
'Oh, Emma will be with him too then. Too bad, she's a nice kid.' Brian said, looking at me. I just rolled my eyes.
I had nothing against the girl, just the fact she wanted my room annoyed me. I had put a lot of effort and money into my room, painting the walls, which was a waste of time since posters became the new wallpaper. I'd even had carpenters put up box-like shelves on my wall, each one containing something special to me.
'They'll be back tomorrow, if the weather is clear in L.A.' Mum said, resting her head back on the wall.
'I guess you guys had fun.' Mum smirked, gesturing to our still wet boxers.
'Your kids' a nutcase, Mel! He wanted to go swimming!' Brian laughed, running his hands down his thighs to squeeze excess water from his boxers as if to prove a point.
'What do you expect? He's a Baker.' Mum laughed back. I stuck my finger up at both of them, leaning back in my chair to get comfy.
'Well, I'm going to hit the sack. I just wanted make sure Zack got back okay.' Mum said, standing up. She flung her cup out, emptying the last dregs of her coffee on the grass.
'Did you think I was going to get lost?' I asked, rubbing my arms as a cool breeze rolled passed, my still damp sink tingling.
'It's been a while, Zack. You might've forgotten your way.' Mum winked at me, waving to Brian as she left.
There was silence between us, nothing but the waves of the beach in the background. It was calming, like one of the serenity tapes some people used.
'I don't want you to leave.' Brian murmured, after a few minutes of silence. He'd slumped down in his chair, arms folded across his chest.
'I only just got here, Bri. I'm not leaving just yet.' I smiled, trying to lighten the mood. I wasn't up for a big D'n'M, not while my mood was so high.
'But you will leave. And how long will it take for you to come back again? Another four years? Longer?' Brian snapped, sitting up straight.
I felt the happiness I felt, the high from just being close to Brian, slip away, replaced with hurt and sadness.
'You don't realize how much you hurt all of us, do you? Your Mum, she had to live alone for so long. We all sat by the phone for months, waiting for someone to call and say they found you, dead or alive.'
'I'm sorry, okay? I'm sorry I ran away, but I thought it was the right thing to do. I'm sorry I hurt you all. I'm sorry for everything!' I nearly screamed, standing up so I was taller. I'd always stand when I was angry. Mum said it was a defense mechanism.
'I wanted to come back sooner. I really did, but I got caught up in my own life. I have friends in Vegas, Brian. I have a home, a job. I couldn't put everything down just to come here.' I snapped, sitting back down, curling my fingers in my hair roughly, and tugging.
'Whatever.' He mumbled, picking up his jeans and slipping them up his thighs. He left his shirt on the table, but slipped his shoes on, walking away from me before I could move.
By the time I did react, standing quickly, he was already by my car.
I ran forwards, gripping his forearm tightly.
'Brian, stop. Please.' I cried, tugging him back. He spun around, the muscles in his arms tensing.
'Earlier, you asked if I'd met someone. I said no. I couldn't even think of being with anyone else! I still can't.' I spoke, the angry tone slipping from my voice.
'I don't like you, Brian. I love you.' I confessed, my arms dropping by my side.
I stepped back, slightly afraid. Brian's face was unreadable. His lips set in a tight line, his jaw ridged.
My mind slipped off to a certain night, years before. We were out drinking, just after my eighteenth birthday. We'd gone out to a pub, all of us legally allowed to drink but Johnny. We'd just started when some group of men came up to us, telling us we had to give up our pool table for them. Johnny and I backed off, being the shortest, and probably the weakest. Matt and Brian, though, told them to fuck off, standing shoulder to shoulder, or as close to as they could, looking more intimidating.
Jimmy, being neither short, nor tanky, stood just behind them, being the back up.
Brian had turned for a second, looking back at us. His face was much like it was as he stood before me, tight and ready for a fight.
Those men backed away though, probably not expecting us to fight for the table.
That face scared me, because it was the face he made when he was trying to control himself.
I jumped slightly as Brian pushed me back, forcing me against my car. I thought he was going to hit me, so I flinched back.
He had me pressed against my car, his body flush against mine. My body, though no longer fearing a physical blow, was tense. His hands rested on my hips, holding me.
I hadn't realized my eyes had closed, until he'd told me to open them. I didn't obey though, still afraid of what his face would say.
'Zacky, open your eyes.' He murmured, his voice soft. I opened my eyes slowly, looking up. He was smiling softly, his face so close to mine I could feel his breath on my face.
'You can't keep doing this to me. You tell me you like me, then run off. And now, you tell me love me, and you're gonna leave again. It's not fair.' He murmured, his voice staying in that soft velvety tone.
'It feels like it's my fault. Like I'm driving you away.'
'But you're not. I need you to understand, Brian. It's not your fault. It's mine.' I murmured, gripping the sides of his face, leaning up a fraction more, our lips so close, yet so far.
'I want to stay here. I want to be close to you again, but I can't leave Sara and Jason. It'd be like leaving you all over again.'
'Please don't leave me again, Zack.' He whispered, pressing his face into my neck. I threaded my hand in his hair, holding his tightly against me.
I didn't say anything. I couldn't. Saying I'd stay would have been a lie, but the truth hurt just as much.
From down the street, a loud shriek echoed.
'Brian! Get home now!' A woman screamed. Brian flinched, slowly weaving his way out of my arms.
'I have to go.' He whispered, regret buried in his eyes. He lent down, obviously going for my lips, but kissed my cheek instead. He left without a word, or a backwards glance.
Even when he was out of sight, already inside, I didn't move, staying against my car.
It wasn't until Mum came out, wondering why no voices could be heard. I told her I was just checking my car was locked, but I knew she didn't believe me, even though she said nothing about it.