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The Car Ride Back

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“P’Pick,” Rome whispered, their faces still close. Pick expected happiness or understanding from Rome, but all he saw was confusion. Isn’t this what he wanted?

“P’Pick,” Rome repeated, this time putting as much distance as he could manage between them. “Why did you do that?”

“I…” Pick wasn’t exactly sure if he had an answer yet. He watched as Rome’s eyes started to glisten, a telltale sign that he had fucked up again. Thinking about it, Pick had only ever seen Rome cry because of him. That… hurt. He reached out, about to try and offer some sort of comfort, but froze when Rome spoke.

“Why are you doing this to me?” Rome asked and continued without leaving room for a reply “You say I should be able to tell what you feel based on your actions. Well one second you want me dead and the next you’re kissing me.”

“I don’t want you dead,” Pick said quickly. Just the thought of how dark the world would be without Rome made Pick start to panic.

“Maybe I should do as you say. Figure out how you think of me through your actions.” A few of Rome’s tears had slipped down his face, but it was clear that the sadness was giving way to anger. “This entire time you’ve been cold and demanding. I invited you on my photo trip to spend time together, but all you did was complain. You told me I was going to die. You made me believe that I was going to die in pain in the middle of nowhere without my family or friends knowing. And what was it for? Your own fucked up entertainment.”

Pick felt his chest tightening, but his stubborn nature took charge before he could stop it, “It was just a joke, why do you take it so seriously?”

“Do you know what it feels like to only have a few hours left to live? Because now I do. I trusted you and believed every word you said. And you know what’s the worst part? I was thinking ‘at least P’Pick is here taking care of me’ and I was happy about that.” Rome took a shaky breath before he continued, “And then here you are less than a day later, kissing me out of nowhere. Is this another joke? Did you hear me and P’Din talking about you? Are you planning on getting my hopes up and then laughing it off as a prank? Well I get it now. I’m not some stupid first year you can keep playing with.”

“I didn’t think--”

Rome laughed bitterly, “Yeah, you didn’t think. Stop talking since you hate it so much and take me home now.”

“Rome, please listen to me,” Pick grabbed Rome’s shoulder but he flinched away.

“Fuck you,” Rome said as he let himself out of the car, “I’ll go home on my own.”

Go after him. Give him a ride home. Tell him you’re sorry.

Pick was frozen in his seat. He didn’t know what to do. He’d never seen Rome yell at anyone before. He’d never seen that look in his eyes, all pain and sadness and anger. Once again, all because of him. He cursed to the empty car and slammed his hands against the wheel. I lost him. He’s not coming back.

The idea of no longer getting to have dinners with Rome or tease him felt wrong. What would he do instead of waiting to walk to his car with Rome? Who would he talk to at club meetings and come up with schemes to help their best friends with their relationship? Who was going to come over to his house and fall asleep on his shoulder? No one would be able to replace Rome in those moments.

If he lost the chance at more moments like that, it was his own fault.

A loud honk from a car that had driven up behind him pulled him out of his thoughts. He drove home blinking away his tears.