I pace around my house, my stomach in knots, and the knots are about to be spewed all over my newly cleaned kitchen, because I'm going to hurl out everything I've eaten in the last three weeks, I swear. Normally I'm not this bad with physical illness. Hell, I don't even puke when I'm shit faced drunk, but for some reason I am absolutely positive that my guts are about to go everywhere.
Z helped me pick out the outfit. She even bought me the goddamn shirt, but I have to admit that it's a good look. Not one that I'm used to but it's a good look so I'll wear it for tonight. The jeans are lose and worn, and my shirt is a basic baseball quarter sleeved tee, with a white torso and dark blue sleeves. I don't think I've ever worn one of these in my life, but Z swore that it looked good on me, and for whatever reason I trust what she says.
I called Brendon exactly three days ago, and now tonight is the night that he's coming over. Tonight is the first night I'll see him in over a year.
No dinner plans, that would be too formal. Just a drink, and some catching up. That's what we had agreed to. It's simple enough, but I feel unprepared. My mind is drawing blanks as I attempt to plan what I'll say. What are the safe conversation topic's? What should I avoid? I tug at the sleeves of my shirt as my mind races.
"Oh come on," Brendon laughed, his hair sticking up in awkward directions, his hands pulling his shirt up over his head, tossing those red framed glasses into the sand with his clothing, "It won't be that cold, it's the middle of summer, loser!"
I stood, frozen in my spot. The rest of the band and crew was running along the sand on Myrtle beach like it was their playground, and I couldn't get my feet to move. The moon was hitting Brendon's skin just right, and he looked pale and beautiful, though I wouldn't tell anyone know that I thought so. Taking a deep breath, I finally moved forward, pulling the fabric of my tee up over my head, and let it fall next to Brendon's in the sand. I could handle this. I could deal with being naked anywhere near Brendon. I would be just fine.
Fuck, I was 19. So what if I had a bit of a boy crush? Now was the time for experimentation and all that, right? So, it didn't matter if I couldn't pry my eyes away as Brendon moved to pull his jeans off, the denim landing in the sand. His legs ran quickly towards the tide, his hands pulling at the waistband of his boxers. The fabric was just barely thrown back onto the shore before Brendon was crashing into the waves, his smooth skin illuminated by clear moonlight. His laughter boomed across the beach, and I swear I felt my heart swell too sizes too big for my chest.
Fuck it. I was 19.
I pulled the rest of my clothing off in a hurry, peeling skinny jeans off of too thin legs that I always felt were extremely unflattering, but at this point I didn't care. I wanted to be in that water with him. I wanted to be laughing with him. And I could give a flying fuck who saw. As soon as my clothes were off, I rushed into the water, falling into the tide with a loud laugh. My head dipped under, the water cold but not too unbearable, and a pair of arms wrapped around my middle, pulling me back up.
"Don't hurt yourself, now," Brendon laughed in my ear, his chest pressed to my back as he dragged me deeper into the sea. His skin felt warm against me, and I relaxed into it, momentarily forgetting that I was stark naked next to one of my best friends. He felt nice. It felt nice. The whole thing was far too easy, and when I spun around to face him, his eyes were wide, dark, and a little surprised.
I looked into him. His eyes were like windows, and I saw straight inside of him. He had always been the good one. Not spoiled and broken like I was, and I had envied him for it. But now? Now, I desired it. I wanted to see inside of him. Feel it, taste it.
Neither of us said a word. The waves hit us lightly, the moon our only illumination, and it seemed almost natural for me to rest my hand on the back of his neck and pull him closer. Our foreheads rested together, our breaths mixing together above the cold, salty, water. My eyes slipped shut reflexively, and I pulled him closer still, needing more of him. As much as I could have. His head tilted, opposite mine, my stomach clenched up in knots as I realized what was happening, but fuck me if I fought it. I couldn't fight this.
Our lips collided, and the world stopped.
The doorbell rings, and my entire body jumps. I'm pulled out of my reverie, and accidentally knock my sunglasses off the counter.
"Fuck," I mumble, picking them up and returning them to the surface, before facing the door and walking to answer it. My stomach is in my throat, my palms a little sweaty, as my arm reaches out to grab the door handle.
My breath is shaky, my heart hammering faster and faster. Fuck, I shouldn't have done this. I should have just stayed in my own little world, and kept Brendon out of it. I was good at that, pushing him away. I should have stuck to my trade.
I pull the door open.
"Hey," Brendon says, a small, hesitant smile finding its way onto his lips. They stretch in this familiar way that has my skin tingling.
God, he's beautiful. He's always been so fucking beautiful. The year that has passed has done him nothing but good, and I try my best not to stare for too long. His eyes are still just as dark and beautiful, his skin still just as silky smooth. My eyes are still taking all of him in, his hair side parted like I had seen on the interview, thick black rimmed glasses over his nose, when I smile a little myself.
"Hey," I take a step back, "Come on in."
He steps over the threshold, and into the house. His eyes dart around, taking it all in, before he eventually turns back around to face me as I close the door behind me. He's dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt, a black zip up hoodie over his arms.
"You look good," I automatically say, keeping my tone even, sure that I'm not implying anything that I shouldn't be.
The suitcase zipped shut with some extreme effort, and I tried my hardest to block out the sounds Brendon was making from his place, leaning against the wall in the hallway.
"I can fix it," he said weakly, his voice shaking from all the shouting we'd already done.
"No, you can't. I've said it 500 times, it's nothing you can fix," I sighed, pushing my suitcase towards the door. I couldn't deny that the whole ordeal was making me sick, but I didn't say it out loud. I was doing this for a reason, and maybe Brendon wouldn't be able to comprehend it, but there was a reason and I was sticking to it.
"But, that's just the band, right? That doesn't have to mean-"
"Yes, it does mean that," I growled, looking back at Brendon with fierce eyes. I moved away from the door, searching through our apartment for the last time, making sure that anything that belonged to me was now in my suitcase, or messenger bag. I couldn't afford to come back here to collect anything I'd missed. Brendon didn't deserve that kind of reminder.
I was erasing myself from him, before I destroyed him. It was inevitable. Living in the same apartment? Declarations of love beyond my own mental capacity? He deserved someone who could stomach all that, I… I would never be able to understand that.
Brendon followed me as I moved, painful cries coming out of him every so often, and I kept forcing myself to ignore them. I couldn't be soft.
I was leaving the band.
I was leaving Brendon.
I was leaving everything I'd ever known, because he deserved better. He always had.
I made it back to the door before Brendon's hand reached out, grabbing onto my elbow and pulling me to a halt.
"Ryan," he cried, "Don't do this. Please, fuck, don't do this. I don't know what I'll do without you, please just give it another chance. I need you to-"
"This isn't fucking about you, Bren!" I lied through my teeth, looking back at him, attempting to keep a hard appearance, I can't fold to him. I can't, "It's about me! Okay? Just fucking respect that, and stop begging for forgiveness and all this bullshit. It's not cute, it's kind of pathetic. You're not going to convince me to stay just by pouting your lip and saying I love you. That doesn't affect me anymore."
And then he looked at me. He looked at me like I'd literally stabbed him straight in the stomach, and ripped him open. He looked at me like I was the worst thing that had ever happened to him.
I'm not surprised. It's true.
"You too," he replies, his smile a little wider, "Nice place too."
I can't keep my eyes off of him. He's here, in my house, talking to me as if nothing had happened.
I don't deserve it. He deserves better. But I can't deny that my heart is fluttering, and my stomach is doing flips. I can't deny my love for him anymore, no matter who deserves what. No matter what either of us deserves, I want him.
I need him.
And I have tonight to prove it.