More Brian, more his room, more angst. Oh my...

So now I'm going to be terribly cliche and write my own "what happened next" version of the series finale. I know this has been done and done and overdone, but alas, I had to try my own hand at it. I wrote this first and like it least, but here it is nonetheless.

D: Not mine.

She didn't come back that night.

Well, of course she came back, like, home, like, to her house. Eventually. It wasn't like she stayed out the entire night with Jordan Catalano. At least, he hoped not. But no, he tried to assure himself after the shudder of possibility passed though him, she just couldn't. She might be turning into someone he hardly knew at all anymore, but of that much he could be sure. Even if only because of the fact that she had a curfew, after all. With her parents...and yeah, maybe kind of with him too.

Which made him sound like a pervy sort of uncle or something, but it wasn't like that (entirely).

He hasn't exactly been very discrete about it or anything, but he was pretty sure she never picked up on just how he had always managed to be there, outside, hanging out on their street at the very moment she came slinking home. No matter how many times their paths crossed in the twilight, she probably didn't realize it was no coincidence, that it was due to hours spent waiting, on his bike or at his window, with a watchful eye to make sure she kept made it back inside...alone. Looking back he couldn't help but to wonder how she hadn't seen straight through him, or at least called him out on it, but it shouldn't be surprising. Evidently she found everything he did (everything he was) quite easy to overlook. She wasn't exactly the most perceptive girl, he guessed, which was both reassuring and infuriating in turn.

But now he had gone and changed all of that with his inadvertent confession of fault and he wasn't even sure if he regretted it. Old habits were hard to break though, but it was with fierce determination that he willed himself to do so. Tonight he was going to stay in his bed, feet against the mattress instead of treading over familiar concrete. Because if she had expected on his presence when she got home, like some sort of street sign or tree that was just always there...he wouldn't be. Not anymore, not after the curtain had been ripped back to expose everything she had tried so hard not to see. He told her everything, essentially, and she still drove off away from him in Catalano's car to do God knows what. Tonight was a turning point, and there was no going back after this, no such thing as a casual meeting under the streetlights before they went their separate ways. Or maybe there could be, like, eventually...but he wasn't sure he could face that day for a long, long time. For now, there was really nothing left for him to do but put his bicycle in the garage and close the shades to his bedroom window and pretend he wasn't listening for the sound of an all-too-familiar engine on their street.

He didn't need to have the light from the moon to show him that she wasn't going to come back, not to him. Because when he really thought about it, he had never really expected her to.

Brian liked facts, remember? And it was like, even to himself, the thought of him and her...together...could never be anything more than fantasy.

It was almost like in the seventh grade when his grandfather died. It was sad, like, really, really depressing, and he cried more than he ever had before or since...but then, at the same time there was something lingering at the tips of his fingers that almost felt like relief. Just like, everything that his family had been through since they found out that Pops was sick had been so painful and so terrifying, and kept them all so on-edge every time the phone rang, dreading bad news but scared to hope for anything else, one emotion almost became indistinguishable from another. So when that moment came, when the doctor told his mother that Pops was gone, even though it made him physically sick to his stomach to hear, just knowing the inevitable had finally happened, that it was was like being able to let out a breath he wasn't aware he had been holding in.

It hurt, to breathe out and know that it (they) were gone. Once expelled from his lungs, he wouldn't ever be able to take that precious air he had kept safe inside him back in again, like, ever. He would miss it, and the way it burned with a familiar fire deep within him while he fought to hold his breath, but he was almost okay with the surrender.

Because he had never been very good at playing pretend, and now wasn't the time to start trying to learn how.

Angela wasn't ever going to love him back, just like Pops wasn't ever going to get better, and trying to act otherwise was a waste of time. Maybe he hadn't wanted to say it out loud himself, or hear anyone else tell him so, but in the back of his ever-practical mind he had always known that this was how it was going to be. Being aware of the simple truth didn't make anything better or easier, but it made dealing with them a little more logical, and that was how he liked things to be. Logic was reliable and steadfast, but feelings, and emotions, well, they were better left to Shakespeare.

As was writing, so it turned out.

He could be angry, he guessed. At Angela, obviously, for walking away from him, or Rickie for spilling the beans, or Jordan, for asking him to do such a stupid thing in the first place when he had already said no. Or at least at himself, for even having the audacity to go and fall for a girl like Angela Chase in the first place. He should have known better, he could have had Delia, couldn't he? For some reason a girl, a normal, real life girl had liked him, but he had gone and ruined all of that. Because now he had no one, when everyone else had someone, and that gave him a right to be angry. Except he wasn't, not really. He was sad, and yeah maybe a little relieved, but mostly just exhausted and slightly sore all over, like every word he had just traded with her had struck him like a physical blow. Sinking into his mattress, he clasped his hands under his head and let the soft flannel of his sheets soothe his tired body. His lights were out and his room was dark and he was all alone in the gentle silence, and it wasn't a horrible place to be.

It would be nice to stay there, to be able to do nothing but exist in this moment, where Angela wasn't mad at him, and he wasn't mad at her, and things were, in a way, better between the two of them than they had been in a long time. But of course that like, wasn't possible. Night had to end and dawn would come, and he couldn't lie to himself that he wasn't frightened of what it might bring. They had school in the morning, but there was no way he would be taking the bus with her. It would be too much. Instead he would have to get up early to make it on his bike, even earlier than usual, but not for his usual reasons. He wouldn't be sitting in front of his camera tomorrow morning, trying to sneak a glimpse of her, the old her, the one she slipped back into when she thought no one could see. He might miss those moments most of all, when she smiled her real smile and danced around in her bedroom like she was a little girl again and he got to see it even if he knew he wasn't supposed to. But no, he couldn't, not anymore, because his camera had been hastily stowed under his bed, and he would be pedaling down the street away from her house as soon as possible.

Because when he did see her, which would be like, unavoidable at some point or another, Angela would probably give him a sad, pitying sort of smile at school, and he would walk into a wall or something. She would go out of her way to be polite to him when their paths crossed, the way she had been to the special needs kid who used to live at the corner of their street when they were younger. He would probably have to get his schedule changed, because in all honesty there really wasn't any reason he should be taking regular classes anyway, and at least then he wouldn't have to take all the tension building up while they were trapped in a classroom together. Especially after he would see her whispering to Sharon on their way out of the girl's bathroom, and though they would duck their heads when they saw him, he would have already been able to make out the words, "letter" and "Brian" and probably "embarrassing" too. That would mean that Sharon would start giving him those kinds of looks as well, and corner him by his locker to ask if he needed someone to talk to. He didn't, although the way her newly developed curves pressed against him when they hugged would be tempting, but he couldn't bear it that she would turn around and go report his despair back to their former mutual friend. There would be no way he would be able to keep tutoring Jordan, that went without saying, and he probably couldn't hang out with Rickie anymore either, because he was sort of like, Angela's first, so she probably got him in their like "divorce" or whatever. So that left him alone at school anymore. Again.

So he would have to get away, behind a camera lens or buried in even more accelerated coursework, until everything died down and he was comfortably under the radar once more. He knew he couldn't go too far, but at least, for a little while he could keep his distance. Away from her, away from her overly expressive eyes and almost sickly pale skin. Her and her ridiculous bottle-red hair that he hated because it wasn't her, but still couldn't stop himself from wanting to touch it every time he was around her. Hair that she curled for Jordan Catalano, hair she was probably letting bury his hands in at this very moment.

He wasn't angry, but he would be if he kept up this kind of thinking. He knew better, but some sort of sadistic tendency in him did it all the same. When it came to her, he never did what he knew he should...and just look where that had gotten him. Sighing deeply, he flipped over on his stomach and fingered a fraying edge in his pillowcase.

But she knew, at least...even if he hadn't ever actually gotten up the nerve to come out and say how much she meant to him, out loud, she still knew. Finally. He could find some comfort, however small it might be, in that little acknowledgment. She knew that no matter what Jordan said to her tonight, no matter how he held her or pressed his body against hers, he couldn't say what Brian had felt, couldn't feel what her dorky of a neighbor had been able to put into words, on paper, for her. And despite what she chose to do with that, even if it wasn't anything at all, at least he didn't have to wonder, anymore, about what he would have to do if she never figured it out.

He had had this one nightmare a couple of times, which started out at her wedding. Not their wedding, his and hers (God, even he wasn't that pathetic), but just hers, to some groom who never showed his face. He always walked in, uninvited and unnoticed, at the same point in the ceremony. It was during the vows with everything white and pretty and perfect, and then he ruined her lovely moment by opening his mouth and announcing his unrequested presence. He couldn't "forever hold his peace" when she looked so wonderful and the man besides her still wasn't looking at them, but even faceless he knew it wasn't him, and in a burst of insanity he proclaimed his love for her right there in front of God and everyone. It was a nightmare because they laughed, all of them, the guests and the groom and especially her, before she rejected him like he always knew she would.

At least, when it had actually happened to him in real life, she didn't laugh and he hadn't cried and they hadn't had an audience. That was better than he had hoped for, kind of.

Kind of, because what he had really hoped for, in spite of the nightmare, in spite of what he knew was never going to happen, what he had fantasized about in this very bed, didn't result in him lying here alone. In those dreams, Jordan Catalano had nothing to do with anything, and she looked a lot less confused by his revelation and much more happy, and he knew what to say to her without a pen in his hand. But that was why they were dreams, right?

And he wished for happy ones as his eyes drifted closed. Where maybe the man in a tux sliding a ring on her finger had hair like his.

The Enddddd!