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[ without him, i'm nothing ]
by kHo

TK resisted the urge to stand up and start pacing and instead reached over and turned on the light. “Brett--’

“Turn that shit off, man,’ Brett groused, his hand coming up to shade his eyes. “It´s too bright.’

“No,’ TK said, leaning forward and willing Brett to turn and face him. “Look at me, Brett. We have to stop this.’

“Stop what,’ Brett asked, still not looking at him, staring at the blank television in front of him. “I´m not doing anything, how can I stop it?’

“Exactly,’ TK says, sighing heavily. “We have to stop doing nothing. We have to get over this. We have to move on.’

“I´ve moved on,’ Brett says, his eyes darting to look at him, hard slits of bitterness and resentment. “You´re the one who´s still friends with him.’

TK shrugs. “He´s Avery man.’

Brett´s laugh sounds more like a sob to TK, and it makes his heart constrict. “Yeah. He´s Avery.’

“Listen, I know in some ways you paid more of a price than the rest of us--’

“Oh, no,’ Brett said, his voice quiet, tight. TK can´t remember the last time he´d heard Brett laugh. “I´d say Max paid the ultimate price. Elise too, wouldn´t you say?’

It still hurts to think that they´re gone. They had betrayed them, no one more than Avery, when they´d left together after the shit hit the fan. They had hurt them and left them to stew in it, but it still hurt to know they were dead. “That´s not what I mean.’

Brett sighs and stretches out his legs, the white thick cast thudding dully against the table as he props it on top of it. “You know, you don´t have to come see me, TK. You´re not obligated to--’

“Brett, shut the fuck up,’ TK shouts, squeezing his eyes shut. “You´re my best friend, and you always have been. We were all close, all of us, and I can´t just let that go. Shit´s gone down, yeah, and it fucking hurt. It hurt like fucking hell.’

Brett´s looking at him, and he´s smirking, but TK knows by the pain in his eyes that it´s really just another part of his front. “Yeah. And the fact that you can still call Avery your friend--’

“He lost his sister, man,’ TK says quietly. “He lost his sister, and his best friend. Because he was, Brett. Max was his best friend. We always knew that.’

Brett looks forward again, staring at the television screen because sometimes black nothingness is easier to look at than concerned eyes are. “No shit, Sherlock.’

“He lost his sister--’

“No,’ Brett says, his tone now a sharp razor edged knife full of bitterness. “No. He did not lose her. She got herself killed. He used her, and Max used her, and she used them and they didn´t know it, and she decided to get mixed up in the middle of it and she died for it.’ He looked at TK and his eyes were so hollow TK felt himself shrinking back. “He didn´t lose her. They got what they had coming.’

“Jesus, Brett,’ TK says, because he knew he was angry, he knew he was bitter. He hadn´t known it had gone that far, though.

“I´m not saying I wanted them to die, TK,’ Brett says, sounding almost condescending. The utterance of ‘idiot´ he keeps to himself is as clear as day. “I´m saying they put themselves there. Kinda like if I go to the Casino and double down on 11 and lose. It´s just too fuckin´ bad.’

“You have to get over this, Brett,’ TK says softly, leaning forward and peering at him, trying to find the remnants of an old friend that was always hard on the outside, but had an interior made of loyalty and love. “You´re losing yourself.’

Brett laughs and TK feels tears well up in his eyes at how hollow it is. “I´m losing myself? Listen to yourself. Sometimes, I swear TK, you´re such a faggot.’

TK tries to laugh and looks down. “You´re so angry, Brett. You stay in this house and you don´t go anywhere or do anything. You´re a fucking hermit.’

Brett shrugs. “What am I supposed to do? I can´t fucking walk, TK.’

TK sighs and stares down at Brett´s cast. The bullet had severed tendons in its path through his leg and it wasn´t paralyzed, but it would be a few more months before it didn´t hurt. “You don´t have to walk, Brett. I´ll push you.’

“In my fucking wheelchair? No thanks.’

TK sighs again. “Then get up off of your ass and use your fucking crutches, Brett! You can´t just sit here and fucking mope!’

Brett props his head up in his hand and stares off in the distance. “Just leave, TK. You come over here and you get pissed off at me for not doing anything, so why do you put yourself through it? Why come over here when you know it´s not going to change?’

“Because I keep stupidly thinking that me and you are still friends,’ TK says softly. “I keep thinking that if anyone out of the group of us gets what I feel, it´s you. You and me, Brett. If any of us can talk to each other, it should be us.’

There´s a flicker of something in Brett´s eyes as he looks at him then, and TK clings to it. “You can talk to me, TK,’ he says softly. “Just. Stop trying to change me.’

“I´m not trying to change you,’ TK says, scooting closer. “I´m trying to get you back!’

Brett´s eyes widen a little and, like a million times before, TK thinks he might just cry this time. Then they fall back to their regular place of indifference and TK feels crushed. “It´s hard.’

“I know.’

Brett shakes his head. “I don´t think you do.’

“I do,’ TK says softly, reaching out his hand and gripping onto the edge of Brett´s shirt, surprised when Brett doesn´t yank his arm away. “I know how you feel about Avery.’

“Felt,’ Brett says sharply. “How I felt about Avery.’

TK nods slowly. “How you felt about Avery.’

“I put our asses on the line, TK,’ Brett hisses, his voice wavering with barely contained rage and more than just a little hurt. “It was my plan to kidnap Charlie. I put our asses on the fucking line man, because he´s Avery. Because he´s Avery, and he… You don´t hurt Avery,’ he said softly, blinking rapidly. “You don´t hurt Avery, because Avery´s sweet, and naïve, and… all of these things that I thought he was but he wasn´t.’ TK swallows past the lump in his throat and stretches his fingers over Brett´s bicep, silently encouraging him to go on. “I thought he was…’ Brett trails off, sighing deeply and shaking his head. “I thought he was good. And I was shit, but I was okay because I had him. I´m nothing, but he was my friend, so maybe I wasn´t.’

TK blinks past his tears and clears his throat. “You´re not nothing, Brett.’

Brett laughs softly. “I am though. What am I? I´m not nice like Avery. I´m not suave like Max. I´m not smart like you. I´m a meathead. I´m… nothing.’

TK shakes his head. “You´re loyal man. You´re the best friend anyone could ever have. Sometimes I think you´re the best one out of all of us.’

Brett blinks again and TK can see the tears clouding his eyes and he tightens his grip on Brett´s bicep. “I didn´t think he´d do that to us. I didn´t think he´d lie like that to us. Of any of us, that shoulda been me.’

TK shakes his head. “You would never do that.’

“I wouldn´t,’ Brett says, looking at him, his eyes wide with disbelief. “I´m a callus cold piece of shit, but I´d never do that to you man. Never.’

“I know,’ TK says softly.

Brett groans and tilts his head back against the cushions, reaching up and angrily wiping at his eyes. “I can´t, TK,’ he says softly. “I can´t get over it. He was good. He was the idol. He was fucking Buddha man. He was--’


Brett laughs. “He was Avery.’

TK sighs. “I know.’

“I loved him so much, TK,’ Brett whispers softly. “So much.’

“I know,’ TK says.

Brett looks at him. “Did you?’

TK smiles. “Yeah, man. I knew. I´m the smart one, remember?’

Brett laughs and another tear falls. “I loved him so much, and it didn´t matter that he didn´t love me back. It didn´t matter, cause I would protect him. And he would trust me, and let me protect him. He was Avery, and I was me. And that´s what I could do for him. And it turns out I didn´t know him at all.’

“He fucked up, man,’ TK says, blinking past his tears. “He does love you. Not like that, but he loves you, Brett. He misses you.’

Brett groans again. “It won´t stop hurting, man,’ he says softly. “I keep trying. It just won´t.’

“I know,’ TK says, running his hand down Brett´s arm. “You just have to get past it. Work through it.’

“Every time I try I just look down at my leg,’ Brett says, smiling and looking at the ceiling. “I look down and I see that cast, and it´s this constant reminder of how fucking stupid I was.’

“You´re not though,’ TK says, reaching up and wiping at his tears. “They fooled us all.’

“Me, you, and Ira,’ Brett says, laughing. “I always knew Avery was in love with Max.’

“We´re all in love with the ones that don´t love us back, Brett,’ TK says softly. “Except we all do. We love each other, but not in the same way.’

Brett sighs. “Yeah? Who are you in love with?’

TK takes a deep breath. “You.’

Brett freezes, his hands digging into the cushions of the chair. “What?’

“You,’ TK says softly. “Since forever. Since highschool. But you were in love with Avery, and that would never change.’

Brett looks at him, the shock etched into his face. “You were in love with me?’

TK smiles. “Yeah. But it doesn´t matter. None of it matters, because above it all, I love you as a friend.’

Brett nods. “That´s how I felt about Avery.’

“I know.’

Brett swallows, looking away. “God. What a fucked up group we are.’

TK laughs. “Yeah.’

“I wonder who Ira´s in love with,’ Brett muses, laughing. “Probably Max. Cause he´s so pretty.’

TK nods. “That´s who I thought.’

“And Max,’ Brett says, looking at him. “Who´s he in love with?’

TK swallows because still, it hurts. “Himself.’

Brett nods. “Yeah.’ He squeezes his eyes shut and clenches his jaw. “Prick.’

TK clears his throat. “I just want you to get out of your chair, Brett. I´m worried about you. I can see you slipping into this fucking hole, and I don´t know how to get you out.’

Brett looks up at him. “I´ll be alright.’

TK sighs, standing. “Brett, you can´t just say you´ll be alright and think I´m gonna buy into it--’

“You´re helping,’ Brett says, sitting up and grabbing TK´s arm, pulling him closer. “By coming over here. By showing me you still care. You´re helping. It´s just hard, man. I´m not over it yet.’

“Neither am I,’ TK says, shaking his head. “But getting out of the house helps.’

Brett swallows and TK sees something flash through his eyes and he feels rooted to the spot. “You love me,’ he whispers softly, looking up at TK balefully.

TK nods, waves of pleasure shooting up his arm where Brett´s fingers press into his flesh. “I do.’

Brett nods again, swallowing. “Come here,’ he whispers, pulling on TK´s arm.

TK feels himself being pulled off balance and he throws out his arm to catch on the back of Brett´s Lazy Boy, finds himself hovering over Brett and looking down into his eyes. Lust fills his body as he sees it echoed in Brett´s eyes and before he can pull back Brett´s lips are on his and his hand is gripping TK´s waistband.

He feels himself moaning into the kiss, leaning into it as it deepens, as he feels Brett´s tongue in his mouth. Possessive hands grip his hips and pull him closer and his hand cups Brett´s cheek briefly before sliding down to his neck. Then Brett is pulling back and TK is leaning his forehead against his and trying to catch his breath.

“What was that for,’ he asks when he finally has enough air.

“Ask me later,’ Brett says with a smile, that trademark smirk that TK has always found sexy as hell. “After you and Ira leave, come back over.’

TK raises his eyebrows. “When me and Ira leave?’

Brett nods. “Bring beer, and Ira, and some good music. I´m getting sick of Dad´s Stones collection.’

TK nods, looking down at the floor and crossing his arms in front of him. “Brett--’

“I don´t know, okay,’ Brett says softly, reaching out and wrapping his fingers around TK´s arm. “It´s just an urge I had. Let me think about it okay? We don´t have to know what it meant yet.’

TK nods, looking at him. “Okay.’

Brett´s smile is a little more like his old one as he nods. “9 o´clock.’

TK smiles. “Okay. 9 o´clock.’

Brett frowns a little. “TK?’

“I won´t bring Avery,’ TK says, smiling at him.

Brett smiles. “Thanks.’

TK nods. “Alright, man. I´ll see you tonight.’

Brett nods. “Yeah. Later, man.’

All feedback much appreciated!
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