Your name is John Egbert and the hotel room shouldn't be this quiet.

You know you might have taken an hour or two longer than the thirty minutes you said you would, but you seem to be physically incapable of going anywhere in Italy without stopping to look at everything, and Dave did say he would wait for you. He wouldn't leave for Pompeii without you, would he? You have plans to take pictures in compromising positions in one of the ancient brothels when the tour guide isn't looking. Dave knows how excited you are about it, not that you told him as much. He can just tell, somehow. He can always tell. He wouldn't pass that up.


And you are excited about it, because it means more time with the blond, more of an excuse to be physically near him, more pictures of that dazzling smile, which is super awesome for reasons you don't let yourself think about. Dave is your best friend, and you totally don't regret taking this trip with him. It was a graduation present from Bro and your dad. You accepted without a second thought, excited beyond belief to tour Italy with your bro, even more excited than you should have been, and maybe that's because you're a little bit gay. Only for Dave, if that even makes sense. You haven't told him yet, but you will. You might even do it today. Probably not. After all, you have another four weeks before this trip even ends. That is plenty of time to figure out just what is going on in your heart and think of a way to articulate it in a way that doesn't make you sound dumb. And then it's Dave's move.

Speaking of Dave, where the hell is he? You've combed the hotel room from top to bottom, even venturing a peek into the bathroom to see if he was in the shower (he wasn't and you most certainly are not a little bit disappointed by it). The asshole must have left you behind after all. You grab your backpack and sling it on, mussing a hand through your hair on your way toward the door. Something stops you, though. Something isn't right. You stand frozen, looking slowly around the room until you spot it.

Your laptop. Didn't you leave it in the little safe under the desk with Dave's? But there it is on the bed, open with a video file pulled up. You inch toward the bed, looking around the room again as if Dave is going to pop out and shout, "Gotcha!" or something equally stupid. He doesn't, and you crawl up the comforter until you're sitting in front of the screen. Next to the laptop, unnoticed until now, are Dave's headphones. The ones he doesn't go anywhere without. Something like ice drops in the pit of your stomach and your hand shakes as you reach for them, sliding them over your ears easily. You have to hold them in place, but that's okay. If you close your eyes, and you do, it almost feels like Dave's hands over your ears, and it's comforting for some reason. You take a deep breath, preparing yourself for god knows what, and hit play.

There is a bit of static and then Dave's face. His attractive face with a distinct lack of shades. That's your first hint. Your first clue that something is terribly wrong. He looks into the camera and gives a smile, but it's not genuine and you know it. That's your second hint. Opening his mouth to speak, his breath hitches, and instead he closes his mouth and clears his throat, looking to the side. That's your third hint, and then Dave begins speaking and your world comes crashing down around you.

"John, I'm leaving you. Here. In Italy. I'm going home."

You miss the next few sentences because no no no this is not happening. You stare at the screen, eyes wide, and force yourself to listen again.

"I just…fuck, John. There's a lot I haven't been telling you. And I would say it isn't you, but that would make me a fucking liar. It's totally you. You're smart and funny and cute and you love music and you get excited about the dumbest shit, but it makes me so happy to see it. You're fucking perfect, and it kills me that I can't have you."

On the screen, Dave runs a hand through his hair and touches a hand automatically to where his shades would be if he were wearing them. His eyes catch the shine of the light for a moment and you realize that he's crying. You press your hands to your mouth to hold back tears of your own. It doesn't work, warm drops tripping down your cheeks as Dave goes on.

"And I know you're disappointed in me right now. I would've followed you anywhere, John. If only I was little stronger, a little less selfish. But I can't do this anymore. I can't. I'm giving up on you. You know, for a little bit, right there at the end, I thought that maybe we were…"

A choked cry cuts him off and he ducks his head to rub an arm across his eyes. 'We were!' your mind screams. 'We were, Dave! I swear! Just…please, don't…'

"But I guess I was wrong. I'm sorry that I couldn't somehow change your mind. No. Fuck, that's selfish. I mean, it's how I feel, but it's still selfish as hell. I'm sorry I couldn't change my own mind, either. I'm sorry it couldn't work. I tried. I failed."

"You didn't fail," you choke out, speaking out loud into an empty room. It sounds wrong. Everything is just wrong. You don't bother listening to the rest. The headphones crack off the screen when you throw them off, and you faceplant into the carpet in your haste to get to the door. With any luck, you can get to the airport in time. In time to tell Dave how you think you feel, that you want him to stay. Stay or take you with him. The door slams shut behind you, the noise ringing through the silence. The video plays on.

"This this sounds so stupid and corny, but…I love you. I think. And that's why I'm letting you go. I can't keep pretending that I'm okay with just friends. I can't keep tearing myself up inside every time I see that stupid, goofy, beautiful smile of yours. It'll be better this way. For both of us. I won't forget you, John Egbert.