It's three AM.
I offer to drive William to the airport. While on the highway, the rain starts pelting the car and I quickly switch on the wipers.
He's leaving for Manchester within a few hours and I don't know when I'm going to see him again. If only my time hadn't been consumed by John, Sam, or my ridiculous self-pity—otherwise, I would have had the common sense to catch up with William. Sadly, I hadn't had the decency to spend a single day with him during his second stay in New York.
"So did you ever find John?" he asks, out of the blue. The car had been comfortably silent until then, William occasionally glancing at me, as if trying to catch something.
I nod grimly, but he doesn't detect the hint of sour in my gesture.
"See, what did I tell you?!" he touches my shoulder, smiling that awkward smile of his, extremely pleased with himself. "I knew I was right…" I feel his gaze on me, and finally: "It didn't quite work out, did it."
The look I give him says it all.
"It's that bad?" he asks softly.
I nod again, keeping my eyes on the road.
"I was afraid of that…" he trails off.
"What do you mean, William?" I park the car and there's a quick slamming of doors and the opening of a trunk. I pull his suitcase out and we walk towards sliding glass doors.
"Well, I knew you liked John back then, when we were at uni, so…after you left, I made an effort to keep track of him. I ended up taking one of the courses he was teaching, and eventually I found out that he was to move to New York. That's why, when I spoke to you about it, I was surprised that you hadn't known John was there…shocked, really. I thought he'd call you, get in touch with you somehow."
"He never tried to get in touch with me," I pause in the lobby, let William's suitcase rest on the floor. "And why…why did it all matter to you? Why did John concern you?"
William tugs at a sleeve, eyes downcast. "I just wanted to make sure."
"Make sure of what?"
He shakes his head. "It doesn't matter, now. I'm rather sorry to hear that things didn't go well."
My pulse quickens. "William."
He points his wide-eyed, innocent gaze at me. I move closer to him, and we're face to face. He's one of the few individuals I know who happens to be exactly my height. We tower above the rest, me and him. A staring contest ensues, and a deep blush spreads across my face.
"What?" he asks, finally.
"There's something you're not telling me."
"No," he shakes his head, fiercely. "No, Blake."
"What did you need to make sure of, about John? Why?!"
"Is it really nothing?" my heart races. "Or is it something? I have a feeling that it's something, William."
"If you have a feeling, then why should I have to tell you anything?"
"Because I want to know!"
"I think you already know the answer," he says, finally. He looks around, a bit nervous, not himself. Glances at his watch. "Blake, I have to go. Check my luggage in, and all that." He peers at me from behind his choppy hair. Awkward, lanky, reasonably attractive and loveable in a way that cannot be articulated. I wonder if I'm jumping to inappropriate conclusions, grasping at straws.
We hold on to each other a bit too long, just a little too tightly. He smells like spun sugar. His lips graze my ear, accidental or not. With shaking hands I pull William closer, dreading the possibility that he might push me away. He doesn't.
"Please don't go," I beg him. "Don't go. You don't need to go back. Stay with me. Adrian wants a new drummer. For his band. A while ago you told me that you'd come so far—if you're so good then, my brother could use your talent. I'll tell him."
"You'd do that, for me?"
"I'd do anything for you."
"What about Sam?"
"I'm out of your league."
"We're made for each other."
William bashfully stares at the ground, a slight smile prickling up the corners of his mouth.
"I know I'm asking a lot of you, but I really mean it. I want you to stay."
"Are you sure?" he says, slightly cocking his head.
"I'm more than sure." I place my hands together, in beggar position. "Come on, Oggs. Oggy. I insist."
He cancels that flight.
"What happened to Sam?" William asks me later, once we're both settled at home. The alarm clock on the nightstand reads close to six AM. He rests a hand on my stomach, lightly stroking. I could hardly be any more comfortable.
"I did a strange thing," I murmur. "I was so afraid of being alone again that I let my fears take over my emotions…so I did a strange thing, William. I got up one morning and just typed up the story. About John, about him. All of it. It wasn't a story, even. Just my thoughts, on paper. I meant for Sam to read it."
"So he read it…?"
"I never gave it to him."
William's fingers hesitate. "What did you do with it?"
"I threw it away."
"Was I in it?"
"Yes," I smile. "You were in it."
"Do you regret anything?"
I quietly ponder the question for a few moments. "With a conclusion as good as this one, I don't think I could regret anything. I like Sam and John, but… really, now that you're here…"
There's no need to continue. He understands perfectly.
I'm happy to say that William and I live quite harmoniously, and that sometimes, in the early hours of the day, he wakes not only me but the whole floor with his brand new drum set. Anyone can play the drums, he says, but it takes some talent to do it well. He does it well. Adrian is very satisfied with William's technique and plans on releasing a second record in the near future.
I'm also happy to admit that William just keeps getting better. He wouldn't have it any other way.
And to be totally honest, I wouldn't have it any other way, either.
It's much nicer to hear a racket that's got a good beat to it.
A/N: congratulations on making it this far. no. seriously! it's over.