A/N: I've got super writer's block, so this is that I'm doing. I'm sort of combining two challenges—one is the ten song shuffle challenge, where one puts his or her music on shuffle and has the time of that song to write a song regarding that drabble. The other is the album challenge, where one chooses an album and writes a one-shot for each song. I have done the former and will someday do the latter full-out, but what I'm doing here is picking a CD—Saosin's In Search of Solid Ground—and writing a drabble regarding each song in the time of that song. There are a few that connect, I think—1 through 3 go together, 4, 5 and 7 are together, and 9, 10 and 12 go together (they're from Riley's POV). 6, 8, 11, and 13 are loners.
Song 1—"I Keep My Secrets Safe"—3:54
Most of Riley's life was a secret. No one knew his story, if it could be considered that—mostly because no one had ever asked.
He just wished this didn't have to be a secret.
He was very aware of Ben's obvious heterosexuality, and he was very aware of his own obvious homosexuality—it was a question of whether anyone else even paid enough attention to him to notice.
And after a few months of working with him, Riley was almost certain Ben had taken note of Riley's preference.
And if Riley wasn't crazy, Ben steered as clear as he possibly could from the younger man after that.
So it was going to have to stay a secret.
Song 2—"Deep Down"—3:25
Breathing was difficult.
It wasn't that Riley didn't fully appreciate Ben being so close to him—in fact, he would be surprised if Ben was aware of just how much Riley appreciated that. But if Riley planned on continuing to live and such, Ben was going to have to get off.
Finally, once Ben was sure everything had stopped exploding, he rolled off Riley. "Are you alright?"
"Um." Riley could easily have answered with some sarcastic remark, but his brain wasn't exactly clear at the moment. "I guess."
"Alright." And then Ben stood and offered Riley a hand, and as soon as Riley had stood, he began to clear a path out.
Riley was still a little breathless.
Song 3—"Why Can't You See?"—2:38
Letting it slip had been an accident...but hadn't it been obvious all along?
Even getting on to the subject had been completely unintentional—but he was fairly certain he had never steered the conversation in that direction. Riley was almost sure he could blame the topic on Ben—and the alcohol, but he wouldn't get into that.
Riley was pretty sure he could see Ben's mouth moving, but he couldn't see straight, he couldn't even think.
He shook his head, and in the moment that followed, Ben caught him by the chin.
His mouth was moving again, but Riley still couldn't hear him.
Which was why he was really surprised when Ben kissed him.
Change was inevitable, as it usually is.
Riley could feel Ben slipping away, every day, every hour. The mundane, the routine, it wasn't enough for Ben—or maybe it was too much. For a man who's accustomed to action and adventure, Riley simply wasn't enough.
So Riley reasoned.
It broke him apart, watching Ben pull away from him. Riley was almost blind in love, since he was Riley and that made sense to him.
He just hadn't imagined this. He hadn't expected this. He hadn't reasoned this in his many lists of reasons why Ben would eventually leave him.
Because even though change was inevitable, Riley always knew Ben would leave. Change was inevitable, but it was also predictable.
Song 5—"On My Own"—5:17
Riley would never try to pretend that he'd gotten over Ben. It was a pointless endeavor—one could take a single glance at Riley and see that he was lovesick. And that wasn't changing any time soon.
He had gotten good at blocking out images of their being together, but one would always haunt him, no matter how much he practiced. It was a simple enough memory—they had just been together, and out of nowhere, Ben had grabbed Riley's hand, and then he'd looked up and smiled, almost shyly, and Riley had cherished that smile ever since.
He would sit for long hours, replaying this scene over and over in his mind. He didn't leave his house, didn't leave his pajamas, because he was too afraid he would walk out and everything that had happened would disappear from him forever. So he sat, and he wallowed, and he pretended that that scene had happened just yesterday, and he pretended that everything was fine.
Riley wondered sometimes if he wasn't losing his mind. These were his lucid moments.
Song 6—"The Alarming Sound of a Still Small Voice"—4:42
Riley sometimes—constantly—wondered if everything was his fault.
No, he hadn't been the one to leave, but still. Ben had never, before him, he'd never—
He wouldn't think that thought.
This is hell, thought he, as the hospital workers rushed around him. Everything moved so fast, and he was stuck, and he kept imagining he and Ben together, and then he would look back and see Ben, and he would remember that he was awake, and not asleep. He was awake. He was awake. Ben was asleep, but he was awake.
A lot of the time he wasn't even sure of that. A lot of the time he wished he wasn't.
Song 7—"Say Goodbye"—5:04
Someone told him that Ben was happier now.
Riley had almost scoffed, and then he'd sighed. If Ben was happier now, he had no one to blame but himself. Everything was so far out of his control—he couldn't even grasp his razor some mornings, and everyone knew that, if he came into work with slices across his neck, cursing something or other, it would be better to leave him be.
He hadn't forgotten. He hadn't moved on. He hadn't recovered.
But hearing Ben was happier...it was like pouring salt onto his open wound, and pretending like there would be no aftermath.
He glimpsed him once. It wasn't really coincidence. Riley went out of his way to shop at the store Ben preferred—this was after much self-scolding on his part.
Ben was tired, which was obvious. He was dragging, and his mind was scattered. Riley was unsure, but he thought Ben might have seen him, and he'd be damned if he hadn't seen a flash in the older man's eyes.
Then it was gone, and he'd returned to his shopping.
He didn't seem happier to Riley.
Song 8—"The Worst Of Me/Love Maker"—3:34
Riley was the one who ran.
This was an overwhelmingly obvious fact. This was truth. Riley doesn't even know why he did it. He doesn't even remember what forced him away from Ben.
Probably it was fear. Fear that Ben would leave him, someday, somehow, and he'd be broken beyond repair. So Riley ran. And let Ben be the one to break. Riley, in all his running, was just fine.
That was a lie. A total lie.
No matter how far Riley ran, he couldn't seem to outrun the memory of Ben.
Song 9—"It's All Over Now"—3:47
You're gone. I didn't want you to leave, but you're gone.
This was all wrong, Ben. It was so wrong. This stupid thing was televised and all the famous treasure people and all those people we snubbed at the stupid balls were all here pretending to care that you're gone while secretly being happy that you're out of their hair.
It's bullshit, Ben. Complete bullshit.
I keep thinking about that night we were laying in bed. Yeah, we did that a lot of nights, but there was this one night. I had my head on your chest, and you had already fallen asleep, and I put my head to your heart, and I could hear it beat. It was sort of weird, but I never forgot.
And then I keep thinking about your death. You died alone, and that's my fault.
I loved you, Ben. I love you. I'm so sorry.
Song 10—"What Were We Made For?"—3:34
Some days I feel as if there's no purpose. Like we're all just wandering around because something accidentally went off with something else and some great chemical mistake left life.
Other days I know my purpose is to mourn you. To remember you when no one else does. To hate how much I miss you.
Most days I'm tired. I'm sad—and sad isn't even the right word. Sad is like, happy, compared to whatever I feel. I can't even put a name to it.
The weirdest thing is that everyone else keeps going, and I'm still stuck. I'm still carrying this—still carrying you.
What were we made for, Ben? Maybe now that you're dead, you know. Tell me. Let me know. See me, Ben. Please. Hear me.
Song 11—Is This Real—3:58
Riley does not comprehend how he's hung on this long.
He is with Ben. Ben is with him. But anymore, all that's left between them are the tendrils of the rope that once held them together.
Days, weeks, months pass, and Riley does not notice. He does not move. He is not affected.
Two years go by. Riley blinks and watches them fly past.
Riley knows that Ben pretends like this isn't killing him. He does not change. He does not...
A day passes, and Riley wakes up, and Ben is staring at him like he's never known this person—and Ben unsteadily slides a hand across Riley's cheek—
Riley shuts down.
This is not real. Not for Riley. Not for Ben.
Song 12—Nothing Is What It Seems—4:25
Ben. Ben. Ben.
I keep saying your name, trying to remember your voice saying mine.
I don't even remember your eyes. I don't even remember your smile.
Can I do this on my own? Am I supposed to do this on my own?
I can't move on.
I can't think.
I can't breathe.
You, you're gone. You left me. You left me.
Please, Ben. Please.
Ben. Ben. Ben.
I'm becoming stronger, Ben. Is that what you wanted?
I'm becoming resistant, Ben. Will I ever see you again?
I'm fading, Ben, but I was fading before you, and you're fading—you've faded—and now I'm fading, and I'll see you again. again. again...
Song 13—Fireflies (Light Messengers)—8:30
The fireflies are swarming around us, and it is okay.
The crickets are humming their sweet tune, and it is okay.
The deer are hovering at the end of the field, watching us, watching them, and it is okay.
I look at you and smile, a tiny, embarrassing thing that I quickly wipe from my face.
With a bit of a grin, you touch your hand to my face, and I smile again.
You are everything, Ben. And I don't know how to convey that.
So instead, I mutter, under my breath, "I love you."
You contemplate this for a moment, leaving me in suspense, and then you put your forehead against mine.
"I love you, too."
And then, after the sweetest sigh, you put your hand to the back of my neck, and your lips against mine.
I do not know how long this will last. Things change, and circumstances alter, and I am much too afraid of everything to come.
But I know that I want this to last forever. This won't change. No circumstance will make me stop loving you. My fear only makes us stronger.
I love you, and you love me, and it is enough.
It is summer.
You are next to me.
And everything is finally okay.
A/N: I'm pretty happy with most of these. Some of them...are really dark. I have no idea where my inspiration was for six, haha. And I have no idea why it took me 8 and a half minutes to only write 213 words for 13, haha. But they're pretty good, and for now I'm over writer's block.