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Empty Bottles, Heavy Hearts

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Avi really hates parties.

Call him antisocial or an introvert (he would not deny either accusation, in all honesty) but he would much rather spend his Friday nights at home, watching old episodes of Game of Thrones or re-reading The Hobbit or practicing guitar. Anything other than be here. But Mitch begged him to come because Mitch needs a DD and he also “really needs to get laid” (his words, not Avi’s). And Avi never could resist those big brown eyes or his incessant pleading, so here he is - in the home of someone he doesn’t even know, listening to music he doesn’t even like, in the company of people hanging off of him like they’re lifelong friends, even though he has no clue who they are.

To make matters worse, he’s lost Mitch.

The younger boy is probably attached by the mouth to someone pretty, at least Avi hopes he is. Mitch is a good person; he deserves someone who can make him happy. Or just make him come, at the very least.

But as much as he encourages Mitch’s slut escapades, he really wishes he hadn’t been taken along for the ride. Because now he’s alone and he wants to leave, but he can’t, and he really, really hates parties.

With nothing else to do and no one to talk to, Avi just wanders around the house, bumping into people who are doing something akin to dancing, and spilling the drink he wasn’t drinking in the first place onto the carpet. He feels bad for making even more of a mess for the homeowner to clean up. And somehow he makes his way upstairs and he decides that this is where he’s going to spend the remainder of his evening - it’s much quieter than it is downstairs, the awful music is muffled and distant, and there are significantly less people here. He drops down to the floor, leaning against a closed door, and he fishes his phone out of his pocket. Maybe he’ll get lucky and find something in his iBooks that he can spend the rest of the night engrossed in. He’s already checked and there isn’t any wifi he can borrow for the evening and this shitty night isn’t worth going over his data, so he needs to find something that’ll occupy his attention and won’t totally rack up his phone bill.

His head leans back against the closed door and as soon as his head touches wood, he hears a sound. He stills for a moment, listening to the noises he hears behind closed doors before he can talk himself out of eavesdropping or convince himself to go sit elsewhere. And he listens, the sounds - albeit muffled - becoming clearer to his ears and it doesn’t take long for him to realize that someone is crying.

Avi is an empathetic person; he’s always prided himself on his huge heart and how much he cares about others. Apparently strangers are no exception because he can’t talk himself out of getting up to his feet and turning the knob on the door. He doesn’t even bother to knock, he just lets himself inside. He rationalizes it to himself that he would want someone to do the same for him if he was curled up on a bathroom floor, crying his heart out.

There’s a pang in his chest when he opens the door and the man who was previously curled into himself on the floor snaps his head up and looks at Avi with wide eyes. Tears are rolling down his cheeks and his beautiful blue eyes are rimmed red. Avi feels a tad guilty for intruding like this and he feels even worse when all he can say is “Hi.”

The man sniffles and wipes his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt. “I heard you crying,” Avi continues, internally wincing at his choice of words because he’s sure that this poor man does not need to be made aware that his sorrows were heard by the public. “I just wanted to make sure that you were okay,” he continues, trying to make his thoughts coherent. He doesn’t understand why he’s fumbling with his words - yeah, this guy is attractive but Avi doesn’t even know him, there’s no reason for him to be nervous. “So, um, are you okay?”

The blond shrugs. “Not really,” he says, his voice rough around the edges. He wipes his eyes again and before Avi can say anything to break the awkward silence that filled the bathroom, the blond says, “My boyfriend and I just broke up.”

“Oh,” is all Avi can say. The blond sniffles again, looking up at Avi as if he’s expecting him to say something profound and life changing. Unfortunately for him, all Avi can say is, “I’m so sorry.”

He lowers himself to the ground, ignoring the millions and millions of germs that are probably inhabiting the bathroom tile and he makes a mental note to take a shower later. “Do you wanna talk about it?” He asks because he knows that when people are upset, they need to get whatever they’re feeling off their chest.

Avi watches as he shrugs again and says, “You don’t even know me, do you really want to listen to my problems?”

Avi pauses in thought. “What’s your name?” He asks the blond.

“Scott…”

Avi extends his hand to him. “I’m Avi,” he says with a smile. “Now we know each other.” A small smile tugs at Scott’s lips as he reaches out to shake Avi’s hand, and Avi says, “You don’t have to tell me anything, I just thought talking would make you feel better. And I’m a great listener.”

“I don’t even know what to say,” Scott admits. “We’ve been broken up for a few days now, almost a week. I don’t know why I’m still crying over him.”

“Because you loved him,” Avi says. “And he hurt you. Of course you’re going to be upset over it.”

“Yeah, but for a whole week?”

“Mourning doesn’t have an expiration date.”

Another smile is trying to work its way across Scott’s face. “Do you always talk like a fortune cookie?” He asks.

Avi chuckles. “Not intentionally,” he replies. Another silence follows, not an awkward one like before, but one that Avi would even go as far as describing as comfortable. He doesn’t want to ruin the moment (is this even a moment? Are they having a moment?) but he can’t stop himself from blurting out, “How long were you two together?”

Scott’s face falls slightly and immediately, Avi regrets asking because a face as beautiful as Scott’s should never be stricken with sadness.

“Almost four years,” Scott softly tells him. “I thought - this is going to sound ridiculous, but I actually thought he and I would be together forever.”

“That doesn’t sound ridiculous at all,” Avi is quick to tell him. There’s nothing ridiculous about a hopeful romantic with a heart of gold. He bites his tongue to keep him from saying that aloud. “What happened though?”

Scott shrugs. “We were different people back then,” he tells Avi. “And we’re different people now. We want different things and we have different goals. We didn’t fall out of love, at least I didn’t, but we just weren’t compatible anymore. We started fighting a lot, and one day we had a talk and we decided that it was best to end it before we ended up hating each other.”

“That was smart of you two,” Avi says, and then he falls silent because he doesn’t know what else to say. It’s not as though he hasn’t dealt with matters of a broken heart - Mitch has been through a few bad breakups and Avi has been there to help bring him back up every single time. But for some reason, right now he finds himself at a loss for words. Which is a shame, really, because all he wants to do is make Scott smile again.

Scott tugs his knees up to his chest and he just looks so small, so sad, so broken, and Avi wants to wrap his arms around him and hold him. He doesn’t though, because they’ve only known each other for a few minutes and that would be weird and he isn’t drunk enough to pull it off.

“I miss him,” Scott says softly. “I wish I didn’t, but I do. And I wish I didn’t let myself get talked into going out tonight and drinking way too much, but I did. And I wish I wasn’t sitting in a bathroom crying my eyes out over someone who probably isn’t crying over me, but I am.” He pauses, hesitating a moment, and then says, “And I wish I wasn’t telling my sob story to someone I’ve known for all of ten minutes. God,” he groans, pressing his palms to his eyes “I’m so pathetic.”

“I don’t think you’re pathetic at all,” Avi says right away. “I think you’ve got a broken heart and I think you needed to talk about it.” This time, Avi pauses, hesitating, and then he asks, “You know what else I think?”

“What?”

“I think,” Avi tells Scott. “You’re going to be okay.”

Scott just stares at him for a moment, his eyes wide and glistening with tears, but a smile - a small one, but a smile nonetheless - graces his lips. And it’s as beautiful as Avi imagined it to be. “Thank you,” he says softly, his voice barely over a whisper.

“You’re welcome,” Avi says, his voice equally as soft. He continues to listen as Scott talks, and once he starts, he doesn’t stop. And Avi quietly listens because that’s clearly what Scott needs right now. He listens as Scott tells him the story of him and his ex, how they got together, the plans they had for the future, how it all started to fall apart. He listens as Scott tells him that he drank much more than he should have tonight, and the reason he was even in the bathroom in the first place was because he had started throwing up, and the reason he had started crying in the first place was because his first thought was to call Alex and tell him he didn’t feel well but now he can’t do that. Avi’s heart aches for him; it’s obvious that Scott is hurting over his breakup and if listening to him talk for nearly an hour is going to help, then Avi would sit with him for two hours.

Truthfully, Avi isn’t even aware of all the time that passes while Scott talks to him and he decides that he could listen to Scott talk all night if he wanted him to. But eventually, Scott tires himself out and when he starts to yawn, Avi helps him up to his feet, knowing that it’s time for him to go home. The blond staggers a bit, swaying and clinging to Avi for balance, and Avi doesn’t say anything as he calls him an Uber to take him home.

“You really don’t have to,” Scott insists.

“You’re too drunk to drive,” Avi replies after he gets off the phone. “And you need to go home and get some rest. You’ve had a long night, but you’ll feel better in the morning, I’m sure of it.”

Scott just stares at him for a moment. “You’re very wise,” he finally says.

Avi just smiles a little, a blush tinting his cheeks and he says, “No I’m not.” He helps walk Scott back downstairs and out of the house, just in time for his Uber to arrive. Before letting him go, Avi asks for his number. Just to know that he’s made it home safe - and that’s the truth. Scott is fresh out of a relationship and Avi doesn't want to be his rebound after all. He just wants to know that Scott makes it home in one piece, and that’s the truth.

(And no, his heart doesn’t start to beat a little harder in his chest when Scott gives him his number. And it definitely doesn’t nearly stop completely when Scott insists that they take a selfie for the two of them to use as a contact photo so they don’t forget who they’re talking to.)

Avi stands on the front lawn, watching Scott as he gets into his Uber and waves goodbye. He continues to stand there as the black car drives away. And he smiles. He never would’ve thought that sitting with Scott on a dirty bathroom floor was how he was going to spend his night. But it’s because of that, his night turned out better than he would’ve imagined.

* * *

Later in the evening, after collecting Mitch and dropping him off at his house, Avi finally - and happily - heads home. Right away, he gets in the shower, washing off all the sweat and grime that accumulated on his body over the course of the night. As he exits the shower, his mind reeling with which Lord of the Rings DVD he should put on, he hears his phone vibrate. Reaching for it, he sees a text from Scott.

hey :) just wanted to let you know that i made it home safe. and i wanted to thank you for tonight. talking with you was the best i’ve felt in a long time. i didn’t even know how badly i needed someone like you. you’re a great listener and you really made me feel so much better :) so thank you so much

Avi reads the message over several times, the smile on his face so wide that it makes his cheeks hurt, and he types back, no thanks necessary! i’m just happy to help. i’m glad you’re feeling better and if you ever need someone to talk to, i’m all ears :)

He puts his phone down as he dresses in his pajamas, expecting those two messages to be the last he hears from Scott - but then his phone vibrates again, and it’s another text from Scott. And Avi never ends up putting on Lord of the Rings because he winds up talking with Scott until he falls asleep with a smile on his face and the blond in his thoughts.