1. Maybe We Could Again by mamogirl
Maybe We Could Again.
“Now we are stopping the world
Stopping in its track but
Nothing is too broken to find a way back
Cause you and me
we were always meant to be”
Sun rays slipped inside the room, bringing with them the aroma of the morning ocean; a warm breeze played with the white curtains, offering nothing more than a play of hide and seek instead than blocking lights and sounds coming from outside. It was summer, just the beginning, but it already felt like a stream of hot and lazy days, filled only with the need and want to put everything else behind, thinking nothing more than what to do at night: worries were rushed away by those crystal blue waves, sent somewhere where they couldn't be found and just had to wait for when the first shades of autumn would make their appearance; old feelings raised their heads, calling out by the sun and the warmth as if those were magnetic sirens, whose songs and voices couldn't be left unheard.
Brian sat on the bed, his white shirt half wore and half hanging as if he couldn't yet decide what he should do: stay or go? Pretend that the world had stopped running around or step out and face what was going to happen anyway? Torn was his mind and soul, while his heart only wanted one thing and didn't care about thoughts, worries or consequences: that night had been the most beautiful, the warmest and most full of love and truth in a long time; that night would be forever embedded in his mind, burned on every nerve and fiber of his essence. Never before he had felt so complete, never before he had felt as if every small piece had finally found their matches and completed an image of a dream that had become reality.
Brian didn't want to leave. Not that bed. Not that house. Not its inhabitant
How could he leave the one thing that made sense in that chaos that had become his life? That blond man, now still sleeping behind him, had taken each one of his insecurities and smashed into million pieces with just kisses and touches, unspoken words that had travelled inside his veins and that had built a nest within his heart. Leaving now would be like leaving a safe and secure port in the midst of a storm, an old boat that would be end up broken and drowned at the first wave of rain and wind.
Staying didn't actually feel like victory.
Staying didn’t sound like something right.
Not yet, anyway.
So many things had been left unexplained. So many doubts were still lingering around the bedroom, waiting for the perfect moment to jump aboard and ruin whatever happiness and perfection that couple had managed to create in those dark hours. So many questions were ready to be asked, silenced yet by a fear of not getting the answer he desperately wanted and hoped for.
Did Nick really want him?
Did Nick really wanted to stay forever?
Or did he just want that only night?
Would things go back to what they always used to be or would they mingled and melt until they'd become one?
A frustrated sigh left Brian's lips, drowning within the silence of the room where an invisible clock was ticking away minutes and seconds. That had always been his problem, the source of all his issues, the bottom line of a life spent trying to be whatever people wanted him to be and trying hard not to show any weakness or insecurity: his brain couldn’t stop going round and round the same thought, always hitting the same sore spot as if it was the only thing it was able to do. It didn't matter how many times he had told himself that he should focus on something else or that he shouldn't dwell too much on things he couldn't control or that were long gone and forgotten: his brain kept coming back with the same words, swallowed and spitted so many times that they shouldn't leave a bad taste anymore.
He shouldn’t still be that afraid of what he and Nick shared, that paralyzing feeling that had always been there, its claws wrapped around their hearts and their soul weeping and crying out. They had already tried: being together, being something more than friends, something more than partners in crime.
Back then it didn’t work.
So many things had been wrong back then: younger, more stupid and so dreamers, believing that it didn’t matter what the world around would treat and judge their relationship; younger and still not quite knowing what being love meant, what it meant to heal each other’s wounds and scars. Younger and Brian had been so afraid of tainting something so pure and precious, of ruining a boy that still hadn’t known his place in the world.
So he had broken them. Both. The fracture had still lingered on each heart, bleeding even when they both believed that any hope had been lost, buried underneath a distance and a sort of hate that had came out from the ashes of their stillborn love; bleeding with the longing to be there for the other part of their soul, trapped around lines of pain and heartache that went deeper than what the world thought and believed.
But something changed, somewhere down the line. Brian couldn’t really pinpoint exactly when that curve had happened, mostly because he actually didn’t want to linger and dwell on the past years, so full and filled with doubts and fears.
It started one day with one word when they would usually just nod to each other and walk away.
It started with a touch, a brief touch, when there was no one around them.
It started with a call in the middle of the night.
Who had been then?
Maybe it had been him, calling Nick in the middle of one of his panic attacks. Yes, maybe it had been Brian calling because he hadn’t wanted to be alone anymore, numbed to the very core and tired of searching some ways to feel in strangers whom he wouldn’t remember the name afterwards.
Or maybe it had been Nick, craving a love that had never been forgotten.; craving a desire to finally be more than someone to take care of, to finally be someone strong enough to hold all the weights and responsibilities while his other half would rest e regain strength.
Brian didn’t remember the exact moment but that hadn’t change the fact that it had happened: one night they found themselves tangled up together, those old feelings and that never forgotten love raising their heads and finally coming back alive. One night and then others had followed, lining up as of they had been clues about something they should already knew.
And yet… yet doubts still counted, doubts were still sitting beside Brian that morning, reminding him how he shouldn't be there. He shouldn't be sitting on the bed and kept thinking about what he should do. On the opposite, he should be still wrapped inside Nick's arms, hearing his heartbeat so close and matching their breathing; his eyes should be caressing that body so that he could remember every line and scar, every curve and every nook, every vibrations and shiver, every hidden corner where he could taste love as if it was an endless fountain.
But he was scared. Afraid. And...
"Come back to bed." The sleepy voice came in a whisper, a cloud of warm air that trickled Brian's neck as lips placed a butterfly kiss on the skin. In a matter of seconds, Nick's hands were already around his waist, fingertips caressing the hem of the shirt while try tried to let it fall on the floor.
A smile appeared on Brian's face, a warmth radiating from that spot that was still prisoner of Nick's lips. Maybe he had over thought like always, worried and worried about something that only belonged to a dark corner of his mind.
"Technically I'm sitting on it."
Nick's chuckle vibrated against Brian's back and a shiver started to slide down his spine. How could it possible? How was it possible that a simple sound could awake every part of his body like that?
How was it possible that only Nick’s voice had this power over him, as if his body was just wax ready to be molded and shaped as Nick desired?
"Cause you actually know what that means."
"Not really. But you're sidetracking me. Come back to bed." Nick's tone turned into a childish whining and an old feeling came back in full force, that never dead desire to make that boy happy no matter what.
Even if it was something small and stupid.
Twenty and more years had passed by and, yet, nothing had seemed to change.
Brian didn't reply at first. Not with words, at least. He just turned his head and captured Nick's lips with his own, while Nick's hand travelled up and started caressing a faded white line that no one had never forgotten about.
Maybe that could be it. One last kiss. One last time. Who was he to turn down that chance? Maybe that was the only thing he deserved to have, maybe he hadn't even supposed to have it so he shouldn't even been complaining.
Nick's voice became suddenly serious, stopping the kiss before it could turn into a bottomless pit of fire and electricity, before passion and lust would made him forget about those lines frowning Brian's forehead and that sinking feeling that something wasn't totally right. And he had promised himself. Nick. He had promised himself that he wouldn't do the same mistake once again.
Not this time.
Oh, he had some serious justifications for how the past had shaped and turned out: back then he had been younger and so clueless, blind to those flashing lights that had tried to warn him, tried to tell him that something was being hidden behind that mask of a never ending smile.
Not this time.
Maturity had come and, together, a new confidence had been born from the ashes of a boy who had just wanted to be loved and accepted. Now Nick knew how to recognize those signs that, years and years before, had managed to slip away so silently and provoke so many troubles and pain.
Not this time.
"I... - Brian turned his gaze away, damning for not being able to lie better. - ... nothing." He offered a smile in the end, although he knew it wouldn't be able to shake Nick's worries away.
That smile didn’t fool Nick. He now knew how to recognize all those different smiles that Brian hide as aces inside his sleeve: that one that pictured Brian’s face in that moment wasn’t natural, it wasn’t that big and careless smile he hadn’t seen in a couple of months. Years. That was, on the opposite, the smile Brian had perfected over the years so no one would worry or wonder if something was wrong: the way he would tip his lips so hard that there were strains on both sides of his mouth, as if the very act needed too much energies. His eyes, especially, were the indelible proof of how fake that smile was, for they didn’t shine nor they didn’t brighten up the room as they used to: they were dull, a faint trace of a light blue that was quickly changing into grey, a sad cloud that kept Nick’s heart into a tight grip.
"It's not nothing."
A pause. An heartbeat, followed by another and another one. For a moment time stood still, while outside birds started to sing and the echoes of the ocean created a melody sometimes bittersweet, sometimes melancholic. Brian got up and, slowly, turned around so that he could watch Nick face to face: his heart jumped, as always, at the sight of those blond hairs ruffled by sleep, those blue eyes observing, drinking him as he was really the most beautiful thing Nick had and would ever seen.
That moment, that conversation, was going to change everything and what scared Brian the most was that he didn’t not know how, he didn’t know the outcome. He used to be so sure about everything, he used to know what Nick was thinking or how he was going to reply at one of his questions: now Nick seemed like a stranger, someone Brian didn't know how to read anymore.
Or maybe he was just afraid to actually read the signs, to pronounce those words on the tips of his lips for everything he needed to know was right there, written in those eyes that were sparkling with longing and…
Maybe Brian was just scared about misreading signs and lines, eyes that always seemed much softer and so bright whenever they were together, wrapped up inside that little bubble where nothing else but them existed; kisses and touches that weren't just about lust and desire but, sometimes, most of the times, lingered with a tenderness that made Brian's soul weep with relief and satisfaction.
Maybe Brian was afraid but, in that moment, he threw every cautions out of the window: fear and insecurities were what brought them at that point, dancing around each other, trying to get closer and closer but, at the same time, too afraid to reach out a hand and finally melt into each other.
Melt until they were one, not just two halves incomplete.
"What are we?" Brian asked in a soft voice, a tone roughed by sleepiness and that anxiety that still was by his side. Never leaving. Never defeated.
"What? What do you mean?" Nick asked, totally dumbfounded. What was that question supposed to mean? Why were they having that conversation? But a part of him started to whisper, started to remind him that it was something that he had tried not to focus on because he had been afraid. Scared. Afraid that whatever he and Brian had could be disappeared in a blink.
"I mean... I don't regret this. And I'm not complaining at all. - Brian started to reassure Nick immediately, trying to ease that worried lines that made Nick's eyes appear older and, at the same time, sad as a child who had just found out that reality was way harder than what he had thought and believed. - I know what it means and how it feels to be... nothing at all to each other and I won't go back to that. No matter what."
"I don't want it too." Nick stood up too, not knowing what he was supposed to do. Or what he wanted to do in that moment, how to act and react to that situation: part of him wanted to go over where Brian was standing, looking so unsure and insecure that it physically made him sick because that... that wasn't how Brian was supposed to look. Or be.
That man wasn’t the same Brian he had come to adore, placed him on the highest pedestal and admired because who else had been able to defeat something eternal like death? That man wasn’t the same Brian, for he looked older and so small, nothing like the superhero drawn in his mind. But that was the Brian Nick had come to love in the most earthly and real way possible; that was the Brian Nick had embraced into his bed, into his hugs; that was the Brian Nick wanted to wrap himself around him, hiding and covering him until he could find his balance once again. Until he could go back to be that pillar of confidence and strength that had always lead Nick's path.
"I just want to know where we stand. What do you want from us and from... this. There is so much uncertainty, there are so many things that I can't control anymore and I don't want you to be one of them. I don't want us to be something that one day it's here and the other is already forgotten. I can't let it happen. Not once again. But I know I can't pretend things from you. It's not fair after all I've put you through and all the heartache and pain I've caused. So I'm okay with whatever you want us to be. I won't be mad. I won't be disappointed. If all you want from me is one night, couple of nights or nothing more at all, then I'm okay. I'll have to be okay."
"You think I want just sex?"
"I hope not."
"Then what do you hope? What do you want us to be?"
"Us. - Brian replied in just one breath. It was so simple, as if all his wishes and desires for the future could be reduced to just one word. But it was, strange as it may seemed. He just wanted them to be together, whatever shape Nick would made them. It didn't matter anymore. Brian just wanted to be with Nick because, maybe, that was that fresh start that would set his life, and his recovery, to the right path. If he stopped lying to himself about what, and who, his heart really wanted, maybe his voice could go back to what had always been. - I just want an us. You and me."
"Not just sex, then?"
"Don’t you know me? When have I ever settled for just sex? I'm not perfect. I made mistakes in the past but you won't be one of them. You won't be someone I can only use for sex."
People, lots of people, would be surprised if they knew half of the things Brian did when he had found himself at the lowest point. He wasn't proud, he was actually pretty ashamed how low he let himself go when all he could see had been dark and blank spaces, just like that voice that had fallen as a wounded warrior. It had taken time, lots of it, to come to the terms with that part of his soul, it had taken even longer to separate it from that part of soul still pure and unbroken, so that it wouldn't be forever tainted.
But with Nick?
Brian couldn't do it. He couldn't just call him whenever he was down, hoping that he would be able to numb whatever storm was going on inside his soul. He couldn’t and didn’t want to call him only when he would feel as if the world was turning against him, rooms getting smaller and smaller as if they wanted to smother him until he wouldn’t be able to breathe anymore.
The truth was that Brian wanted to call Nick first thing in the morning, even and especially during those mornings when things would feel so damn good and a glimpse of the careless man he had once been would make its appearance between the sheets; he wanted to call Nick in the middle of the day or every time he felt like sharing something small and stupid, or something big and important; he wanted to call Nick at the end of the day, right before both of them would go to sleep so that the last sound they'd heard would be their own voices and breathing.
But, if Brian had to be honest, he wanted Nick with him. Physically. All day.
"I want you to be there with me. Always, not just some fragments of nights and whenever we meet for the group. It's not enough. It can't be enough and both you and I know this. I want you to be the first thing I see in the morning, all sleepy and stealing my blanket because you don't want to get up; I want you to be the last thing I see at night, wrapped all around my body as if you want to protect and shield me from any nightmares or bad dreams. I want to share things with you, I wanna prepare you breakfast and I want you to try cook for me. - A small laughter escaped both lips, that image too funny and yet so sweet. - I wanna do stupid romantic walks on this beach, or whatever beach you want to take me; I wanna go out and hold your hands, without giving a fuck about what people might say or think. I want you to be there at every visit, therapy, even and especially when I don't want to go; I want you to be the one fighting me when I'm too stubborn and idiot to see that I'm crumbling down. And I wanna do the same thing for you, sheltering from the worst times and lead you through battles and storms. That's what I want. That's what I need. You. Nothing more than you."
Nick couldn't speak. He couldn't even think, Brian's words were the only sound ringing inside his mind: sweeping, swirling, they were little birds that batted their wings but never quite flew away, circling their nest that had been built so quickly within his heart and soul.
It felt like a dream.
It felt like something he had always yearned for. Longed. Dreamed and wished but never been quite sure that it could be real. Those words... no, not just the words themselves. The look painted upon Brian's face was something that he had only seen on somebody else's face, those couples so in love that he had been jealous of: love in its purest form, desire and longing as if all he needed was just being in the same room with him, breathe the same air and whatever touch he could obtain.
And that... that was mind-blowing. Shocking. It left Nick speechless because it wasn't what he had been telling himself for all those years, the reason he had to come up with just to justify all the pain and heartache: Brian couldn't love him the way he loved him.
Brian couldn't need him that way.
"You weren't supposed to need me this way. Maybe just a little. Maybe just a thought before going to sleep. But not like this. Not like I'm the only reason why you're still breathing. I can't be... you can't do it."
Brian took a step closer to Nick, a spark of the old courage raised from the ashes because that was a role he knew how to play by heart: the protector. The wiser one. The one with all the answers, the one ready to sweep away any uncertainties and fix whatever had been broken.
He could fix Nick.
He could fix them.
And so, maybe, he could fix himself too.
"But I do. I do need you. I've always have. I’ve tried to fight it. I’ve tried to hide it behind something that wasn't real. I lied to myself. I lied to you. I lied to everyone because that need never stopped burning and I was so scared. I was afraid."
"I've never been scared of needing you. I've been scared that it was the reason why you left me behind. But pain didn't diminish it. No matter how hard I tried to separate myself from you. From what we used to be. But it was useless. It's always been useless. Because I will always need you, Brian. I need you just to feel alive, just to breath and survive another day and another night. I need to feel your body next to mine, I need to lose myself in you because, most of the times, that's where I can be myself. Whole. No shattered pieces in the past. No demons. Just your smile. Your warmth. Your eyes lightening up the room and bringing the only sunshine I've known since the first day we've met. - Nick took the last steps that separated them. A hand went on Brian's face, fingertips caressing honey blond hair before slipping down the cheek; the other found its place on the hips, a safe handle so Brian wouldn't run away from him. Never again. - I need you to right my path. I need you because you make me wanna be someone better, someone who can try and ease your pain. You telling me that you need me... don't you know how it makes me feel? You, of all of people, need me."
There had been so many things Brian had wanted to say, he had a speech already written out in his mind. But Nick had turned everything around, like he always did. Now Brian didn't need to make clear how much he had been willing to accept everything that Nick would offer, even if it meant just be a company for some nights. Now he didn't need to say how much he had been afraid of saying those words, how much it scared him the thought that Nick could turn his back and never look back at him and what they could have. Now those fears weren't even alive anymore, shattered down by just one look. By that first word pronounced by Nick's lips and a love that had swept through oceans and mountains.
"I don't only need you. I love you."
"You do? You really do?"
Nick couldn't still believe it. Or, better, it was just a tiny part of his soul that still had troubles believing that it was really happening. Or, maybe, Nick just needed to hear those words over and over again, let them soothe those parts there still needed to be healed and fixed. One last time. Or, maybe, Nick just wanted to hear it again and again, the way Brian's lips curved slightly when saying "I love you" or the way his eyes would become another shade of blue, the same shade of a summer sky and a promise of a paradise.
"I do. I do love you."
"You won't mind keep saying it?"
"I won't. Even if my voice will tired out."
"Nope. We can't let that happen. - Nick pressed his lips against Brian's, just a butterfly touch before disappearing and reappearing along that throat that so many worries and fears had brought along. - I love this voice too much."
The softness intertwined around Nick's voice made Brian's heart jump a little, unsure about what he should response to that tenderness. He had come to hate those chords, he had come to make it like as if they didn't belong to himself or his body, strangers parts that were meant to defeat him instead than making him soar up.
How could Nick still love it?
How could Nick not hate it when it had brought so much uncertainty and so many problems to the group?
Brian would probably never know the answer. And he probably didn't even want to know it because some things were better left unsaid and unanswered. What he could do, in that moment, was to take that sweetness and make it his own, replaying and replaying every time he would feel low or like he would never go back to what he used to be.
So, silently, Brian's lips leaned against Nick's forehead and there they left a trail of caresses and touches. That moment didn't require desperation and intensity, force and strength; that moment was for them to celebrate, to lean inside every curve and line, every whisper and every touch as if it was the first time. And it was, some sort of first time: it was a new beginning, a new dawn in a relationship that had always been rare and unique, born as a friendship and developed in a love that had now finally found its sunshine.
Without rush, both of them fell upon the bed, where sheets provided a white ocean for them to swim and get lost within; hairs fell upon their faces, golden locks that were high lightened by that sun that, just like a curious and proud observer, wanted to gift them warmth and light for that union. Hands didn't stop their discoveries, sliding down every inch of skin and leaving trails and marks so everyone would know that they had been there; fingertips traced the lines of the bones, pressing and eliciting shivers and trembles that resembled the most beautiful and colored fireworks: time stopped; time stood still while two bodies became one, while hearts melt into one and two souls finally found that they always meant to be together: pieces fit together, scars were healed while emptiness disappeared, filled up by shower of love that had been kept away for so long.
It was heaven.
It was coming back to a home that they only saw some glimpses but never visited. Now they could live there, now they could spend all of their hours breathing each other’s and learning how to be as one. Now they could stop lying to themselves, saying over and over again how they could live without the other but fully aware how hollow and ignorant where those words. And while the rush of ecstasy slowly faded, while bodies rested against each other and took in tastes and perfumes that would never be forgotten, a promise was sealed without even voices needed.
They would make it through.
They would make it happen, no matter what. Maybes didn't exist anymore. Doubts had been defeated and fears were now kept away with the only defense Brian and Nick knew: love.
They could again. They could again be part of each other, never be divided and never be separated. They could again love as if time had never passed by, as if they were the same two boys that had found their world into each other’s eyes.
They could again. Be whole. Be one. Be the greatest story ever told, be the most beautiful love they would ever stumbled upon on.
They could again. And they would. Over and over again, if it was necessary.
They could try. Again.