i know I told you im on hiatus, but I just need to write some fluffy-angst after that practical The Wanted Apocalypse of Wednesday. I could rant for a hundred pages, but long story short let’s just say if you hate Nath because he “lied” I’m judging you so hard.
other than that. enjoy this chapter <3 click here for previous chapters.
Tom-Brother joined us at the party, bringing along her girlfriend, Kayleigh, who turned out to have a PhD in Zoology. Nareesha and Kayleigh became best of friends almost in an instant. They had been talking about Arctic animals for long now. Kayleigh and her friends were making an essay about how penguins could turn gay and would still be able to raise eggs. Nareesha seemed very interested in her hypothesis. I didn’t even know animals could turn gay. Tom-Brother was talking to the others about Super Bowl, although I didn’t know what even it was. The party that took place in my house had been going on for quite a while now. Well, it wasn’t exactly ‘party’, but in my dictionary, if booze was involved, then it was a party. Nathan had been scrolling my iTunes for hours. He kept complimenting me about my good taste in music. Sliding in next to him, I realized he wasn’t touching his beer. I nudged his ribs with my cup.
“Not drinking tonight?”
His eyes were still locked on the screen. “Nah, don’t feel like it.”
“You don’t feel like it, or you’re afraid you can’t handle a single cup?” I grinned, my voice teasing. Nathan just rolled his eyes, but a smile was playing on the corner of his mouth. His index finger ran up and down the touchpad as he replied, “Someone needs to take care of you when you get drunk enough you can’t tell which is right.”
“I love how you use ‘when’ instead of ‘if.’”
“I know you long enough to understand you,” he blinked at the screen, and then he proceeded to type something. I tried to peek at the screen, but he only edged the laptop away from me. I frowned.
“What are you doing?” I asked. “Somehow I got a feeling you’re not only scrolling through my iTunes.”
Nathan just smiled cheekily.
“Wait, you’re not going through my porn folder didn’t you?”
Nathan grimaced. “I didn’t even know you had one.”
“Every boy has one!” I said.
“I’m not going through your porn collection, I promise.”
“What are you doing, then?”
“Just like I said: scrolling through your iTunes.”
“Oh.” I sat upright. “Don’t look at my writing folder!”
“Really? Because if my boyfriend is my favorite writer, the second I get my hands on his laptop, the first thing that I would do is look at his writing projects.”
“I wouldn’t do that,” Nathan said. “I don’t want to interfere with your work. And besides, I hate spoilers. The cliffhanger in the latest book killed me, but I can wait another year.” He typed something, and then a smile was spreading on his face. “Yep, done.” He showed the screen to me.
“You made me a playlist,” I said, my voice flat.
“That’s right, I did,” he said. His smile turned small and private, and a little shy. “I’m going away to visit someone for a few days.”
I turned at him. “Oh, well. Do you want me to come with?”
He immediately shook his head, like he couldn’t even imagine the idea of me coming with him. He waved his hands in front of him frantically. “No! No, it’s fine, really. It’ll only be a few days; I’ll be okay.” Somehow I had a feeling that this was bigger than just ‘visiting someone.’ I wanted to ask him who he was visiting, but it was clear by the way he said ‘someone’ that he didn’t want me to know. I knew he had his reasons, so I didn’t push him. But I couldn’t help wondering who it may be—a secret boyfriend?
No, it couldn’t be. I trusted him. Nathan wasn’t the type to cheat, I know that. I pushed the suspicion away and gave him a nod. “And what’s with the playlist?” I inquired, my eyes skimming over his choose of songs. He had a classy taste.
“Well, uh,” he blushed, his cheeks tinted pink. He looked down and started shifting. “I just thought, uh. I had a feeling you might miss me, so I made that playlist, in hope that it will remind you of me. That it’s only my body away from you.”
The playlist was titled ‘I know you long enough to understand you.’
My boyfriend was perfect.
Hoping the laptop would disguise us, I gave him a quick kiss on the lips. His mouth tasted like tea.
“Of course I would miss you, you little bastard.”
Nathan went before sunrise. He stuck a sticky note on my forehead telling me so. The sheet beside me felt cold. The sun was already up and bright by the time I got down for breakfast. Expecting downstairs to be empty, I stalked down the stairs in only my boxers. Kayleigh’s wide eyes told me that I didn’t get what I expected. Tom-Brother shooed me, sending me up to my room. I went back down after putting some appropriate clothes. The zookeepers were chilling at the living room, watching some crappy TV show and eating sandwich.
“What the hell,” I said flatly. Nareesha looked up and waved at me cheerily, one hand bearing a sandwich.
“Good morning, lazy daisy!” she greeted.
“Did you guys not go home last night?”
“It was raining pretty hard,” Tom-Brother answered said a round a mouthful of sandwich from his position sprawled on the floor, his head on Kayleigh’s lap, who stroked his hair gingerly. “The road could be slippery; didn’t want to take the risk.”
“Raining? How come I did not realize?”
“Maybe because you’re too busy shagging that lil’ kid,” Tom-Brother smirked and I certainly did not blush.
“I can’t have that picture of Nath right now,” Max protested, groaning.
“Where is he, anyway?” Siva asked, looking around. The smile plastered on his face was suggestive. “Still asleep, huh? Exhausted from the activity last night?”
“God, we didn’t shag,” I said, burying my face in my hands. “We just slept together.”
“I don’t want to hear anything about your sex-life,” Tom put his hands on his ears, pretending to be paying attention to whatever was on the telly.
“He went to visit someone,” I said, ignoring the gooey eyes Max was making at me. “He didn’t tell you that?”
“No, he didn’t,” Max’s voice was small, almost like murmuring to himself. He blinked up at the ceiling, elbowing Tom in his ribs. “What date is it?”
Tom looked taken aback for a moment. His hand went to make a contact with his forehead. “Oh shit, I totally forgot that it was today.” Nareesha and Siva exchanged wary looks. They were soon discussing something that I didn’t understand a thing about. I poked Seev on his upper arm.
“What are you guys on about?”
Siva’s face was grim. I stared at him questioningly. “It’s…uh.” He hesitated. He shot pointed glance at my twin and his girlfriend, who seemed to be lost in their world, too busy playing with each other’s fingers to notice us discussing a serious-looking matter. “He—he hasn’t told you yet?” he whispered loudly. I blinked at him, puzzled. And then I remembered what Nathan said about each one of them—they all had a story. Right; Max’s and Siva’s crashed dream and Tom’s family—and Nathan’s story, who he had yet to tell me about. I shook my head, biting my bottom lip. Siva pursed his lips.
“Sorry mate, I think it’s better if he tells you himself.”
Could it be something so bad that Siva looked so upset? I stared at Nareesha, whispering soothing words to his neck as she traced patterns on his back, kissing him softly. They were sickeningly cute, but I had to look away because I just realized just how much I missed Nath.
God, it hadn’t even been a day.
I pretended to watch afterwards, while actually I had no idea what the show was even about. I was thinking about Nath. I knew that he had something—a dark past, possibly, but it could also be another thing, like a dark side of him—a story to tell. I waited for him to reveal it, but he never did—so soon enough I forgot what I was waiting for. I knew he wasn’t ready, and I wouldn’t push him, ever, but how bad could it be? He knew I wouldn’t judge him. He knew me better than that.
Or could it be because he didn’t trust me?
I had thought that my twin was lying when he told me it was raining last night. But as soon as they left, the sky darkened and soon, it rained hard. Thank God we—the zookeepers—were competent enough that in a few minutes, we’d had the animals sheltered. I didn’t expect it to rain—it was only a few days before the opening day, and besides, this was summer. Why would it rain in summer? While England was known for the bad weather, rain this hard pouring down on summer was just… unusual. By the time I got home, I was soaking wet. I took a quick shower and went to bad, too bothered to touch the salad the girls had made for me. The bed suddenly felt too large. Rolling onto my side, I listened to the sound of pouring rain and took out my phone from under my pillow.
The screen flashed; the red light blinking. I had five new e-mails—two from my mother, from two days ago that I hadn’t got the chance to read, two from Jayne, and one from Nath.
Hey. I’ve arrived at my destination. Don’t worry, I’m fine. See you in a few days. Don’t forget to eat.
He did know me long enough to understand me. Despite myself, I went to my laptop, and started playing the playlist Nathan had made for me. I lay back on my bed and typed my reply. A memory of the first time we exchanged our e-mail address popped up in my head. He told me he was surprised that my e-mail address wasn’t something weird like firstname.lastname@example.org or even weirder shit, like email@example.com.
I told him I judged him for using Gmail.
subject: Where’s the subject?
Listening to the playlist. Missed you. And I wouldn’t forget to eat. When are you back?
I resisted typing there’s so many things I want to say to you.
I stared at the screen for a second too long before finally bringing myself to click send.
It was raining when I got to bed, and it was still raining when I woke up.
It was raining even harder, if it was even possible.
Two days later, when I was just typing away on my laptop, it was raining again.
The next day, it also rained.
Nathan hadn’t gone home. And it was still raining.
I hadn’t gone out in days, simply because the rain was too heavy, I couldn’t see past it. Tom and Max had made sure the animals weren’t sick and fed well, anyway, so it wasn’t like I had much to do. Basically, all I did for days in the house was finishing the next part of my books, talking to Nath via e-mails and Skyping with my mom, but the rain worsened the internet connection, now I’m stuck with wifi-less laptop and an empty refrigerator. If only my car hadn’t broken down a few days back, I would have gone shopping. I was starving. I could call delivery pizza, but I doubt they had pizza for vegetarian. I moped around the house in boredom, wishing for the rain to stop and for Nath to come home already, damn it.
I plopped down on the couch.
And then I turned on the TV. A big mistake. A woman with black uniform holding an umbrella was struggling not to let the wind swoop her away. She was holding a mic, so she was obviously the news reporter. It was raining—the camera even had a few drops of rain on the lens.
“…for a few days now. I am now struggling to even stand. This is not to be expected to happen especially in the summer. Maybe it’s time for you now to reevaluate your roadtrip plans for the summer! The best way to spend this year’s summer is obviously to wrap a blanket around you, lazying around the house with a cup of chocolate, and Harry Potter marathon, because this is going to be the wettest summer yet!”
I turned off the telly, just because she was very irritating.
It was still raining.
No one would come to the zoo if the rain didn’t stop.
I looked around and felt the walls closing in. A horrible pain curled in my guts. So this was it? Everything I had worked for—everything I had done for the zoo. The rain just decided to pour and ruin everything. I think in movies, this was where I started to laugh like a maniac, but I was too hurt by the nature to even think. I threaded my hands through my hair and felt like screaming. The sound of the raindrops falling upon the roof—I’d never felt this hurt before. I couldn’t even find a comparison. Knowing all your effort would never be paid off—it was even worse than letting Grace run with that fucktard Andrew.
I listened to the rain. And then I decided I could hear it no more.
So I got up. I didn’t even bother to put a raincoat or bring an umbrella. I just put on my working boots and ran. And ran.
I didn’t even care for the fact that the rain had made my t-shirt stuck uncomfortably to my skin. I just wanted to run—because that was what I always did, right? I always ran—I ran from my problems. I ran from Grace to this godforsaken place instead of calling her up and confronted her myself—she found me, instead. I guess this time I’m going to run, too. But where do I run?
The running brought me to a meadow. It was the clearing that Sonya had run to a few months back. Where I’d been attacked, saving Nath. I couldn’t help the smile that formed on my face. This was where I realized that I was in love with Nathan. I remembered those times I was about to give up—the time where I’d run out of money and he just showed up on my front door and promptly came in uninvited, sat on the couch and told me stories. Max’s football injury that had caused him his whole life, Tom’s family, how Siva loathed himself, how he blamed himself—they ran from their life because they had to. They had no choice but to run. I had a choice back then—I could run to Grace and give her a piece of my mind, ask her why and not just cut her off and run miles away from where I used to have a life—but I chose to run. It took me here—and I had been through so much. Am I going to just give up just because of bad weather?
No one would come to the zoo, for God’s sakes. Not when it rained. What would they do, stand under the rain and watch the reptiles curl themselves under a tree?
Take it all, life. Take it all.
I let the rain wash my face. My hair was damp, and I probably looked like baby Tarzan now, but I couldn’t even bring myself to care. My clothes were soaked and water filled my too-big boots, and I felt stupid for literally running. Now I wished I was at home. Really, I could breakdown in the corner of my room or something. There were places in my house to do the meltdown. I could hide under the sink and just pity myself. And instead, dumb as I always am, here I was—standing in the rain, looking up at the sky like a simpleton.
I could go home now. But of course I didn’t.
I sat there and stayed.
Nathan had panicked when he came home to an open door and Jay nowhere to be found. A set of terrible things that may have happened to the idiot started to list themselves in his head. He dropped his bag in the living room and practically destroyed the café’s door. He knew they would be there. He told the others about Jay’s disappearance and they went off to look for him, even if didn’t even have the slightest idea of where Jay may have wandered off. They went in their separated ways, calling for Jay. The rain fell down, as if mocking them, but Nathan waved it off. Not even bothering to glance at the umbrella Max was offering him, he ran off the other way. He didn’t even know why he chose this path. He just had a feeling.
He ran and ran.
He recognized his surroundings as the meadow Sonya had run to.
And here the idiot was, sitting like an idiot he was. Breathing a sigh of relief, Nathan ran to him and assaulted him with a hug. His lips were pale and his cheeks were cold when they were pressed against him. Nathan could only imagine how long he had been sitting there.
“You’re an idiot,” Nathan accused. “Why would you even be here?”
Jay’s blue eyes blinked up at him, empty. “I don’t know,” he muttered. “I’ve missed you.”
“You could catch a cold,” Nathan said. “Let’s get you home now—“
“No,” Jay shook his head. “I don’t want to go home.”
“You’re going to catch a cold, Jay. Would you want to be sick on the opening day?”
“They aren’t going to come anyway,” Jay barked out a bitter laugh. “It’s raining, Nath, can’t you see it? It’s been raining for days—and it’s going to for the whole summer.”
Nathan was aware of that. He tried to keep a straight face and haul Jay up, which was difficult because Jay was irrationally bigger than him. Jay peeled his hands off his shoulders and pulled him down, instead. He was soaking wet. “If we stay like this for a minute longer, we’re both going to be sick,” Nathan warned. Jay pretended not to listen. He just cupped his face in his big hands and stared at him. It was then that Nathan realized just how blue his eyes were. It was the last thing that he saw before he closed his eyes as Jay kissed him, full on the lips desperately, like he was afraid Nathan would leave.
Nathan had to break the kiss because as much as he wanted to spend a day just savoring the feel of Jay’s lips on his own, he wouldn’t want to do it in the middle of the rain, no matter how romantic it sounded. Jay practically chased after his lips.
“Jay, we need to go home,” Nathan explained softly, “we have to.”
Jay opened his mouth to protest, but he closed it. He nodded, and then willingly let Nath pull him up. The walk home was spent in silence.
Always Nathan to the rescue. Always.
He was preparing food in the kitchen. He had gone to the supermarket to buy supplies, because somehow he’d known that there would be nothing in the kitchen by the time he got home. He only rolled his eyes when I asked him why he knew. He cooked rice and some soup. It tasted amazing. The rain hadn’t stopped, but it wasn’t as heavy as before. It was slowly coming to stop, but I knew it was going to rain again at night. Nathan told me to eat, and I obliged without question. I was starving, anyway. I didn’t even have breakfast.
He stared at me pointedly when I was done. I wheezed.
“I told you,” he grumbled, “you’ll catch a cold,”
I wiped my nose. “Sorry.”
His face softened. “Do you want to tell me why?”
“Honestly? I don’t know. I tend to do stupid things when I’m frustrated.”
His expression changed. I knew he knew. He tried to look calm. I knew he was thinking the same thing as me: everything we have worked for was going to waste. Stupid nature. Stupid global climate change. “We could only wish for the best,” he said, and I thanked him for not saying things like “it’s going to be okay”—because the white lie was boring me.
“How’s your trip?” I asked.
“It’s…not bad,” he replied, and I could see his muscles tensing.
I blurted out before I could bite down my tongue. “You know, the boys mentioned something about it. It seemed pretty important. They were all serious about it.” His face turned pale.
“It’s…complicated,” he said, his voice uneven.
And because I was an idiot like that, I pressed him.
I knew I shouldn’t have. But the words just flooded out before I could even stop myself:
“Yeah? Complicated? I’ve faced worse, Nathan. Grace ran away on our wedding day and I, somehow, by some twisted fate, I ended up here, of all places. I ended up in this godforsaken place. I cleaned up poop and get attacked by a depressed bear. I’ve spent all of my money on this—this thing I don’t even understand! And I did this all for nothing. Nothing. And you don’t even trust me. How bad could it be? Are you secretly a wizard? An incubus? Come on! Do not sugarcoat it.”
Nathan looked—God, I couldn’t even describe how he looked. He looked as if someone had just poured cold water on his face. And I put that look on his face.
“Shit, I’m sorry, Nath, I don’t mean to—“
“Of course you don’t mean it.”
I actually winced. His voice was so cold. I hated myself for being so…so idiot sometimes. It was a wonder how I didn’t get my award for being so idiot. I tried to speak, but he cut me off.
“I visited an asylum,” he said.
Why would he visit an asylum?
He snorted, his eyes glistening with…shit, I made him cry. Fuck. I’m the worst boyfriend ever. “That look. I hate that look. That’s what I’m trying to avoid, Jay. That look. That fucking look on people’s face when I told them the truth. My story—my past. It’s like visiting an asylum is the worst thing one could do.” He looked away only to hide his tears. No word could describe how bad I felt. I wish I was dead. “My mom was—well, no need to sugarcoat it, right? She is mental. And it’s because of me. Because I’m a failure, because I—because I killed my father.”
I realized I had been staring at him when he looked away. He snorted. “Happy now? Are you happy now, knowing your boyfriend is a murderer?” His voice broke. “I hope you’re satisfied.” He got up, his face cold as the rain and his voice like ice; bolted out the room and into the rain.
I stared at the emptiness in front me.