Special Thanks: The lovely, talented Tif for being such a great friend and beta reader! Make sure you read her (beautiful, fantastic, amazing, brilliant) stories, too! You'll find her under CrimsonObsession. ^-^
Warnings: ZADR, angst, foul language
Disclaimer: Don't own IZ or any of the characters, much to their relief, I'm sure. ;)
Music thumping, boys laughing, girls crying, vibration, humming, noise. Just noise. All of it.
Chilly air, carrying voices of somber excitement with hints of a happy song. Lights flicker as dark shadows bob in front of them, feet meeting the dance floor with a heavy click, clack, thud, depending on footwear. People walk by, muttering, giggling, maybe asking questions, but all you can do is look at the bottle in your hand, wondering not for the first time where all the bubbly liquid went. And you think. And think. But for the life of you, you cannot remember where it went and it doesn't occur to you that maybe you drank it because, after all, you hate this silly human drink. You hate the bitter taste and you hate the bitter thoughts it gives you.
But it's gone. Not a drop left in the bottle, so you grab another and vow to keep an eye on its contents. No liquid getting out of this bottle, thankyouverymuch. Except your eyes become fixed on something else. Something inky and black and shrouded in shadows, but still visible because of the pale face. Always so pale. Glasses reflecting the moonlight, eyes shimmering, lips smiling. At you?
The ebony form with the ivory face sits down next to you, still smiling.
You hate those lips. You hate the way they curve up and make your insides lurch, only not in disgust—why can't it be disgust—and you hate the way they pout at you when their owner doesn't get his way, and you feel so weak, so. fucking. HUMAN when they do that, breaking down your barriers. Superior barriers, in fact.
And you hate those lips when they part to speak, especially when they part to speak, because you can imagine those lips parting for other reasons; you can imagine yourself parting those lips and whoa, you need to stop this train of thought before it reaches the station, son.
And what does he do next? Parts his lips to speak, of course. "Having fun?" he asks, but you see it rather than hear it because all of your attention is focused on the shape of his mouth and the pink tongue hiding within.
After a moment, your mind registers that that was a question, and you wonder why it's so hard to think of a response.
Fun? Why would you be having fun? You don't even know where the hell you are or how you got here.
You must have said as much out loud because he's giving you that funny 'what the hell are you talking about' look he gives you a lot, like the time you were going to send him and the rest of your class to a room with a moose, all that time ago. Back then. Before…
"Um, graduation party? Remember?"
Oh. Oh, that's right. You graduated high school. And you're at a party, some kid's house, outside in the back, sitting at a table while all your ex-classmates mill around, hugging, kissing, crying, laughing, jumping to the beat on a wooden, makeshift dance floor. Well, all except one, of course—he's sitting next to you, looking at you expectantly, and you say the first thing that pops into your mind. "We were invited?"
He laughs. You don't think you said anything funny, but he laughs anyway, his amber eyes smiling with his lips, and you wish you could beat that look off his face because he should know what it does to you. But he doesn't. And he likely never will, not if you have anything to do with it.
Lifting his glasses, he wipes away a tear, your eyes following his finger as it trails over his lashes, smoothing out his laugh lines. Those laugh lines frame his cheeks, ending at that damned mouth. Smiling. Grinning. "Smartass," he says. "The whole class was invited. I'm sure they wouldn't have even blinked if we didn't show up, but this is, you know," still smiling, a different emotion flashes through his eyes briefly, but you file it away as your overactive, no, delusional imagination, "probably the last chance to say goodbye."
That strikes a chord. Last chance to say goodbye. So final. You can't look at him, at his smiling face—what has he got to be so happy about, anyway?—so you look at the half-empty bottle in your hand instead. Hadn't it been full just a few minutes ago?
"How many of those have you had, Zim?"
None at all, you try to say; none at all, honestly! You have no idea where it's going, could have been a defective group of bottles, for all you know. As hard as you try, though, the only thing you manage is a bunch of slurred and garbled nonsense, which results in him pulling the bottle from your grasp. You protest—gotta keep an eye on the disappearing liquid, after all. It ain't natural.
His brow creases as he looks at the bottle, crinkling his nose in either disgust or contemplation, you can't tell nor do you really care. All you care about is the way he seems so unfazed. So unfazed. It hurts.
"I thought you hated beer," he says, turning to face you once again. "Didn't think you'd ever drink it."
Used to hate you, you want to say, didn't think I'd ever want to drink you, either. "Hmn," is what you mutter, instead.
His eyes turn apologetic. Oh, fuck, why is he looking at you like that? Feels sorry for you, does he? Looked at you the same way when he found out about your mission, all sympathetic and crap. That's why he's unfazed. That's why he doesn't care, because he doesn't care. Only been hanging out with you under the guise of friendship for the past five or so years because he fucking feels sorry for you, that little human prick.
You must be glaring daggers at him because he's pouting at you now. Pouting with curious eyes. Fucking pouting. Driving you crazy.
But all angry thoughts vanish when he gently puts his hand on your arm and you tense up, because the only thing you hate more than his lips are his hands, so soft and white and warm and damned if you've never imagined them being anywhere and everywhere else on your body, moving, caressing, stroking, scratchingandyes—"NO."
"Um…" Yeah, you can feel your face burning, which only doubles when he touches your forehead.
"You feeling all right?"
You pull away, as does he, and is he blushing or are you just hallucinating again? Hallucinating, yeah, 'cause everything you ever thought you knew has been one big delusion so this can't be any different. But his cheeks are still flushed (doesn't mean anything, you remind yourself) when he looks away and stares at the group of teenagers dancing no more than ten feet from the table. He's not looking at them, though, he's looking through them.
"You know," he begins, almost wistfully, but you're more concentrated on the way the moonlight bounces of his hair and coat, enveloping him in an eerie, heavenly glow—or maybe it's just the beer you haven't been drinking finally taking its toll on your eyesight—"tonight's also kind of the last chance we'll get to say things to people that we might have been too scared to say before."
Okay, maybe you really did drink all that beer, or maybe he got into the keg a bit, because it sounds like he's implying something here and that simply isn't probable. He's looking at you again and the happiness is gone, and his face is all serious and not very, well, him-like. "Sooo," you say, drawing it out much longer than you meant to. "Why don't you go do that?"
He's biting his bottom lip now, quickly glancing from you to the ground, to you to the ground, toyoutotheground, and watching his eyes makes you dizzy so you stare intently at his mouth, his teeth, wishing they were yours. Nipping. His lips. Your teeth. Gently.
"Well, why don't you?" he counters. Is that a hopeful look he's giving you?
"I haven't anything to say to these skink… spink…"
"…yeah, whatever, I don't have anything to say to them. Glad to be out of it all, finally. Don't know why I even bothered to stay in skool."
Sure you do, and the reason is staring you right in the face, looking… disappointed, yeah, he looks disappointed, but you can't figure out why. He was fine before. Maybe he just wants you to say… goodbye…
Yeah… wants somebody to acknowledge that he's leaving…
For a moment more, he gazes at you almost desperately before pushing himself from the table and standing up. "Well," he sighs, and you echo that sigh, "I guess I should be going home, since it's getting late. Gotta start packing tomorrow." One last glance. "G'bye, Zim."
And as he turns to leave, your chest tightens, and you become dizzy with the thought (and maybe a bit of the alcohol you've consumed) that this may be your last chance, and if you never see him again, what would it matter if he ran away screaming or belted you in the jaw? Wouldn't have to see him ever again.
Never, ever again.
"Dib," you call, and he immediately whirls around.
Staring contest. So many thoughts buzzing through your head. Last chance, they tell you, as you lock eyes with him. It's not fair, you want to say; it's not fair that I can't follow you because you got accepted as some fucking understudy for some dipshit investigator that couldn't possibly know as much as you, and it's far away from here and I'll probably never see you again and I wonder if you care because I do. Much more than I should. So much, it makes me sick—you make me sick, you know. I hate you. Your lips, your eyes, your hands, your hair, your clothes; I hate all of it because you can't see how much I don't hate it.
I hate you because you're blind to the fact that I love you.
That's what you want to say.
The music thumps, the boys laugh, the girls cry, the world moves on as you stare each other down, his eyes searching yours.
This is your last chance.
But all you can say is, "Goodbye."