And as I lay there, the familiar shaking of tears rocking my body...
I decided I wouldn't live this new life anymore.
"Sing me to sleep, I'll see you in my dreams," I murmured brokenly, my brain fading into the darkness of sleep.
"Waiting to say... I miss you, I'm so sorry."
The next few days flew by in a blur of surrealistic nightmare.
After announcing to the public that Rian had left, we dropped off the tour and headed back home. It was the first time in my life that the sight of my own bed made me break down in tears. I rested my face against the soft carpet of my floor and cried. Or, at least I wanted to. I had cried so much in the past three days that no more tears would come. My face was red and puffy and my ribs ached, but I didn't care. How could I care? I shouldn't be here right now. We -my four best friends and I- should be halfway across the country playing the songs we love to the people we love even more. But we weren't. We were back in Maryland. Broken, and what now seemed, irrevocably so.
I pushed myself off the ground with shaky arms, stumbling into my brightly lit bathroom. I leaned over the sink; the porcelain felt cool under my palms as I glared at my reflection in the mirror. Disgust welled up in the bottom of my stomach and spilled over in a wave of acid. It scorched its way up my throat, leaving a burning trail in its wake as I heaved over the sink. I cried out loudly, pulling on my hair as I wailed. Angry shots of pain prickled my skin as I felt the hair being torn from their roots.
I can't do this anymore.
Looking up into the mirror, I let my arms drop as I stared into my eyes.
"I can't do this."
I opened up the cabinet and grabbed the first bottle of pills, dumping the tiny tablets into my palm until the bottle was empty. I rose the pills to my lips and was about to tilt my head back when Alex's face flashed across my mind. My hand fell slightly. His laugh, his smile, the way he hummed subconsciously whenever he held me. My heart ached. I... I couldn't just leave. Not without saying goodbye, not without hearing that laugh again, not without seeing that smile, or listening to that voice. The voice that made my reality seem so much better than any dream. The voice that comforted me on my darkest nights, through my lowest moments. The voice that said such beautiful things I often wondered how such a wonderful person came to be in my life and how could I, me, the most selfish asshole on the face of this planet, be lucky enough to call him a friend. And not just a friend, but a Best friend.
There was no way I could just leave. Not without saying goodbye, at least.
I poured the pills back into the bottle and replaced it in the cabinet.
"Hello?" It still surprised me just how happy his voice could make me feel. But it didn't matter anymore. I had to leave. I cleared my throat noisily. "Uhm- Alex? Hi. I was just wondering if you wanted to go out? Maybe catch a movie or something. If you want." I held my breath, afraid he'd say no. "Of course I want to catch a movie with you," he said, the smile clear in his voice, though I could still hear the small note of the same sadness I felt, colouring his words. "Pick you up in ten?" I agreed and hung up the phone then went to go and attempt to make myself look slightly less like a pathetic mess.
Thirty minutes later we were seated together in the dark theatre. The movie was a cheap horror film that neither of us really cared about, but it was the only movie that hadn't already started when we arrived. I picked absently at the bag of popcorn in Alex's the lap. The taste felt stale on my tongue; unappealing and bitter. Eating felt wrong. More like a chore than something I enjoyed. After another attempt at a third handful I gave up and concentrated on the screen.
It didn't last long.
The movie was a low-budget attempt at a scary zombie movie, but the fear was lost on the poor acting and bad costume design, not to mention the plot was practically non-existent. Besides, as the minutes dragged by, I became increasingly aware of why we were here and Alex's arm pressed against mine on the seat. I began to think more and more about how I'd never get to do this again. How cheesy movie nights would never happen again. How we would never play guitar together again. Or randomly break out into Lady Gaga songs in public places. Or put red food colouring in Rian's toothpaste. Or take pictures of each others' asses and leave them on Zack's cameras. I bit my lip, swallowing the feelings that stuck in my throat. I sucked in a sharp breath.
Alex was staring at me, his eyes intent and concerned in the glare from the screen.
I smiled slightly, hoping it would be convincing enough not to worry him. He bit his lip for a moment and then turned slowly back to the movie. I sighed inwardly. Yet part of me ached in the hopes that he hadn't believed me and would turn back and beg me to re-think everything, that life was worth living and this world was still worth fighting for. After a few more minutes, Alex turned back to me, but his eyes were on the floor; his eyebrows pressed together in a thoughtful frown. When he looked back up at me the look had gone from his eyes. "Jack, do you still like me?" My mouth fell open in shock. "Of course I do! You're my best friend." Alex winced, taking it the wrong way. "I knew it. I knew we were just friends now. Ever since Rian left, you've been avoiding me and it just feels like you barely want anything to do with me anymore and-," I cut him off by grabbing his face gently between my hands and kissing him softly.
He smiled at me as I pulled away, and it hurt more than any wound could.
I couldn't bare to face it.
I wrapped him tightly in a hug, cowardly using the intimacy as an excuse not to look at that heartbreaking smile while knowing what I was going to be doing to the incredible man who wore it. His cologne drifted off his clothes, familiar and comforting, and I breathed it in deeply. Alex ran his hands through my hair and I moaned, pulling away. "Not here," I murmured. "It's too public." He smirked handsomely, and took hold of my hand before turning back to the movie. I turned towards the popcorn scattered floor, guilt washing over me. It wasn't because this place was too public, it was because I couldn't bare to kiss him when I knew I'd be leaving him soon. I couldn't put him through that. I wouldn't be that selfish, not when this was the end.
An hour or so later we walked out of the theatre and drove back to my place.
He walked me to my door and we stood there, hand in hand, unsaid words hanging in the air between us.
"So, I'll see you tomorrow then?" Alex asked, rocking slightly on his heels like he did when he was being unintentionally adorable. His eyebrows disappeared behind his hair and he bit his lip while he waited for my reply. I smiled half-heartily, careful not to agree to anything. "Thanks for going out with me tonight. It was a good way to end things." Alex squeezed my hands gently in his, taking a step closer to me, oblivious to the meaning behind my words. "I know it's been tough lately, but we'll all get through this, okay? Things will get better. This isn't the end, you know?" He looked at me expectantly, and I just smiled again, resting my hand on his cheek.
"Thanks for being my best friend and just someone who's always been there for me, and someone who's never let me down. You've always been more life a brother to me than anything, and I am just so grateful that I could call you mine." I pressed my lips against his, running my fingers in small circles on his neck. I pulled away slightly, pressing or foreheads together while we caught our breath. I stared into his eyes for what seemed like forever, yet I knew it would never be long enough. I smiled, the tears jerking my heart haphazardly around in my chest. I knew I was on the verge of tears and it was about to give me away.
"Goodbye, Alex," I whispered.
He frowned for only a moment before his features smoothed again. "I love you, Jack."
I cleared my throat and blinked rapidly to hold back the tears. "I love you, too, Alex. I always will."
He kissed me again quickly then turned to walk slowly back to his car. I watched him get in his car and followed the tail lights until they disappeared from my site. As soon as he was gone, my wall crumpled pathetically. Tears that I had been holding back all night suddenly came rushing to my eyes and I heaved sobs that sent crushing blows of despair to my heart. If there was ever a moment in my life where I thought my heart would break, this was it. I kept seeing his face in my head, kept feeling his soft lips against mine, and hearing those three little words that meant the world and more. I cursed the world as I stumbled, dazed, up the stairs. I cried out, demanding to know why- why did this have to happen now? Why did he have to tell me he loved me when I had to leave? Why couldn't this have happened before now? Before I decided to die? I picked up the mirror that rested on my dresser and threw it to the floor, wincing as tiny shards of broken glass flew and scattered across the carpet like ice.
Doubt flitted through my mind and panic followed it.
No. No, I had to do this.
There was no backing out now.
I slammed the door open, delirious in my need to hurry. My fingers wrapped around the tiny bottle, my other hand holding the cup that was collecting the rushing water to wash it down with. I dumped the tablets recklessly into my palm and tossed them forcefully into my tipped head, washing down the lot with the water. They slid painfully down my throat and I let the cup fall to the floor, heard it smash against the tile, and turned off the running water. I reeled around, toppling into the wall and sliding down limply until I was sprawled out on the floor. I stared up at the florescent lights, blinking while I let drowsiness overcome me.
This was it. It was finally the end.
No more pain, no more hurting, no more disappointing people...
I was finally going to stop being a burden on everyone.
I was finally going to disappear.
A/N: Reviews are the most amazing things in the world, and I absolutely love getting them.
Hope you enjoy this new chapter, and that you look forward to the possible upcoming sequel!
Thanks for reading. You're all wonderful.