The walk to Oliver's too Zach far longer than it should have been. Something stopped him running; he didn't know what. He supposed that Saul would have expected him to run - if he would've expected him to go anywhere. Shit, maybe he knew exactly what Zach was going to do. If that was the case, then no matter what Zach did, he'd be fucked. The more Zach thought about it, the more he was convinced that it was the case.

It was late. Zach wasn't entirely sure what the time was as he walked out of Josh's road, but he knew that it was dark. It was also very cold, and Zach didn't have a jumper. He hardly had anything, and - provided Oliver let him in, which he honestly wasn't sure would happen - Oliver's clothes wouldn't fit him.

A dog barked somewhere to Zach's left. He jumped involuntarily. The sane part of his brain knew that the dog probably wouldn't attack him, and that the dog probably didn't belong to Saul, but somehow that wasn't transferring to the rest of his brain. What was he even doing? Why couldn't he go home?

Because I'd get killed if I did.

He sighed. The sane part of his brain was right. Maybe it was more than just the sane part of his brain; maybe it was his conscience. Maybe it was God.

No, it wasn't. It couldn't be, because Zach's brain existed and God didn't.

Saul thinks God exists.

All the more reason not to believe in God. Saul was a psychopath and a dangerous schizophrenic.

"Oi!" came a voice from behind Zach. He didn't recognise it, but he could hear the venom dripping through. It sounded like a punch in the face. Zach kept walking and didn't turn, hoping that he'd been talking to someone el- "Oi, faggot!"

Zach continued to ignore it. He hoped it wasn't important. He hoped that whoever it was would just get bored and go home like any sane person would at this time. Footsteps behind him echoed around the empty street. Heavy breathing. Another set of footsteps, slightly softer. Another bark.


"Oi, I'm fucking talking to you!" Zach still didn't turn around. The words all blurred together, as if they were fighting to get out first. Zach took a few more deep breaths and prepared himself to run. He didn't think he would be able to. He was almost certain he wouldn't be able to; he was exhausted from his less-than-consensual activities with Josh earlier that evening.

The dog barked again, and Zach bolted. No-one gave chase. He wasn't entirely sure if he imagined it or not, but he could have heard an exasperated sigh. He didn't stick around to find out.

Zach ran as fast as he could. He didn't know when he'd get to Oliver's. He didn't even know what time it was now. The last thing he remembered was looking at the clock at Josh's, when it had been about... nine-ish? He stopped running and leant against a lamppost, taking several deep breaths. He wasn't sure how much longer he'd be able to keep going; he always felt tired after sex. Somewhere in the back of his mind he wondered what Josh would be doing now, but he tried to ignore it. He didn't care what Josh was doing. He didn't care about-

That wasn't true. He cared a great deal about Josh, it was just... sometimes Zach wasn't sure how much Josh cared about him. When he said "I love you," did he mean that he loved Zach or he loved having sex with him? Did Josh make any distinction between the two?

He bit his lip and took a few more deep breaths. He didn't want to think about it.

He was sweaty. He could feel sweat dripping down his sides from his armpits. Another wet patch had appeared on the small of his back, his shirt sticking to it. He shuddered, wondering what people might think if they saw him like this. He shuddered again and wondered if he cared. Nope.

While he was here, he might as well check on the time. His phone said 21:52. He bit his lip again and set off at a jog. He wasn't sure what time Oliver usually went to bed, but he was pretty certain it was before 10. Something about getting a full 10 hours sleep every night...

Once he'd started off running again, he tired quickly. He was still at least 10 minutes away from Oliver's house, and he wasn't sure he'd get there, even if he ran the whole time. He couldn't run. A jog quickly became a walk, which quickly became a zombie-like shuffle. He knew he looked drunk. He knew that if Saul had been following him, he could pick any second to just kill him. But then... Saul could have picked any second in the past month or so to kill him, and he hadn't. And as well, how did Saul get in and out of houses so quickly? He was always just... there. And then he was always just... gone. What the hell was with him?

He didn't want to think about it.

As a distraction, he pulled his phone out again and called up Oliver's number from speed-dial. After three rings, Oliver's voice sounded. "Hey, I can't come to the phone at the moment. I'm probably asleep or something.... Sorry! Leave a message!"

Zach waited for the beep and left his message, but he didn't expect much. If Oliver was asleep, he wouldn't be getting up until 6 the next morning. Still, it wouldn't do any harm to go to Oliver's. If nothing else, it'd give him something to do while he waited.

Waited for what? For morning, or for Saul to come and get him? Wouldn't it make more sense to just go back to Josh's now and apologise? Yes, probably.

Fuck that, he could say sorry tomorrow.

He walked on, trying to stay upright. He couldn't remember ever feeling this tired. He passed an old couple who gave him a rather wide berth. In other circumstances, he probably would have laughed, but not today. He was far too tired today; far too upset. He didn't know what he would do, or how he would explain himself to Oliver.

Or how he would apologise.

What was it with him and offending people recently? He couldn't exactly tell Oliver he hadn't meant what he'd said about God, because he did. At least, he had at the time. He shuddered and took another deep breath, surprised to find that he was crying.

If there were any people around to see him, Zach wondered what they would think. That he was drunk? That he was insane? That he was some kind of hobo?

Probably all three.

As he rounded the corner of Oliver's street, he wondered what he would do if everyone was asleep, or if Oliver didn't let him in. Or, hell, maybe his parents wouldn't let him in. Zach shuddered. He could always go back ho-


He couldn't go home. He didn't know what his dad would do to him, but he knew he probably wouldn't survive it. What else was there to do, then?

He would cross that bridge when he came to it. For now, he just wanted to get some sleep.

Somehow he reached Oliver's front door without falling over or being beaten up. His hand hovered over the doorbell. Wondering what to say, he stood there for a good minute or so. Eventually, he got together the courage - or stupidity? - to ring the doorbell.

He heard someone moving about inside and sighed in relief. He was going to be alright. Everything was going to be good.

"Hello?" It was Oliver's mother. Zach breathed a sigh of relief and opened his mouth to explain himself, but she cut him off. "What do you want?"

Zach was a little taken aback. "I'm sorry? What?"

"Why are you here?" She spoke the words with such force and Zach was so tired that he wondered if he would just fall over backwards.

"I'm- I'm, I, uh... I got kicked out," he stammered, feeling his face turn red.

"Oh, I wonder why."

Zach bit his lip. He'd never imagined Oliver's family to be this sarcastic. They'd never been anything but nice to him. Was it something he'd done? Had Oliver told them about what he'd said?

"What was it you said to Oliver? 'Your bullshit myth of a god doesn't own me anymore'?" She put so much venom into it that Zach half expected her to sprout fangs and bite him.

"I..." Zach felt himself turning redder and looked down at the floor. "I'm... I didn't mean it."


Zach looked up. She sounded concerned. "Yeah, I... I'm sorry." His throat seized up, as if it was trying to tell him to shut up.

"What do you want?" She didn't sound anywhere near as nice as last time Zach had spoken to her, but at least she didn't sound like she was about to throttle him. That was always a plus.

"I need- I mean, would it be alright if..." he took a deep breath and focused all of his attention on his shoes. "I need somewhere to stay. Can I stay here?"

It took her a while to reply. Zach bit his lip and wondered if she would at all. He looked up, expecting to see the door rushing towards him. She was smiling, holding out her hand. Zach took it and stepped inside.

"You're not sleeping in Oliver's room. I've heard what you and Josh got up to."

Zach bit his lip and tried not to smile, before remembering that he wasn't talking to Josh. "Okay."

"Only... I don't know where else there is for you. I suppose... well, you could always have the sofa."

Zach felt gratitude flood through him. Why the hell would any of Oliver's family be nice to him like this? At this point, he didn't care. He'd think about that in the morning. Right now he just needed to get some sleep.

"Thank you so much!" he tried to say, but half of the words got stuck in his throat and he realised he was crying.

Oliver's mother sighed and walked away. Zach bit his lip, wondering what was wrong. Then he decided that he didn't care.

He almost didn't make it to the sofa before falling asleep, but somehow he managed to aim his head for a cushion before passing out.