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03 June 2011 @ 08:07 pm
Guts [two]  
Title: Guts
Author: atl340
Pairing: Jalex
Rating: PG-13, I guess
Disclaimer: Not real etc etc, Title belongs to All Time Low
Authors Notes: Thanks so so much for all the awesome feedback :-)



Luckily, the next few days were better than the rocky start to Alex's week.

By Friday, everything was okay. Or, as okay as it could be when you had Aspergers.

The only thing slightly-well, more than slightly-dampening the older boys mood was his best friend, currently standing in front of his bedroom mirror and fixing his hair over and over. As much as Jack had tried to convince him, Alex still wasn't even the slightest bit convinced about the party. He didn't want to go, he wasn't going to. All those people..the thought made Alex nautious.

He couldn't comprehend at all, how Jack could go to a party where he knew just one person, he didn't understand how his best friend had the guts to go and socialize with all these people that he didn't know, ones that might not like him. To Alex.. it was like throwing yourself to the sharks and he couldn't, he couldn't do that.

But, he'd pleaded and pleaded for Jack to go regardless, because he really, really didn't want his best friend missing out on things just because of his own stupid problems.

It'd taken some convincing, but Alex had managed to persuade the other boy to go.

And now as he watched him get ready, Alex just had to decide whether he was okay with that or not. Because, it was one thing to tell Jack to go off and have fun without him, but for it to actually happen...the older boy couldn't ignore the tiny flash of hurt in his stomach. He had no reason to feel like that though, he knew Jack would stay with him in a second if he asked.

Alex didn't ask though, he wouldn't do that even though he really did just want to.

There was of course, an easier solution. The older boy could just suck it up and go to a party with his best friend. But then he thought about the people, the loud music and the alcohol and he cringed visibly. He couldn't be around that.. he wasn't wired that way, and besides if he went and he did freak out, all the kids that had been nice to him so far at college might not be so nice anymore. Alex didn't want that.. it couldn't happen.

He frowned, watched slightly warily as Jack crawled onto his bed with a pout, seemingly finally happy with his hair.

'You're really not gonna come with me?'

He shifted himself far too close to Alex but the older boy tolerated it by biting the inside of his cheek slightly, looking at Jack's lips rather than meeting his eyes as he shook his head.

'I can't'

'But.. you've never tried Lex', The younger boy reasoned, kneeling beside Alex with a frown, 'Okay maybe you wouldn't like it if you went but, we could leave any time and at least then we'd know, y'know? I just.. I'd be really proud of you if you would just try'

And Alex's face fell and Jack read his expression immediately, bit his lip.

'Not that.. not that I'm not proud of you already- I am, Alex. I just.. just because it says a person with aspergers has trouble socially it doesn't mean that you should avoid everyone y'know? It doesn't mean it has to be true. 'Cause I mean, look at us'

The younger boy gestured to the tiny amount of space between them.

'You're fine with me right? You always have been and I just, I don't want you to lock yourself away all the time. You're amazing, y'know? I'm pretty sure most people at this party would think so too, if you'd just give it a chance..'

Barely mulling it over for a few moments, Alex decided to avoid answering all together and fell back softly onto his mattress.

'Can we talk about something else please?'

Jack shrugged down at him, 'You can tell me how good I look?'

A hint of a smile tugged at the older boys lips, eyes trailing up and down Jack's frame. He shrugged and his best friend scoffed, flicked his forehead.

'Thanks, your opinion means the world'

Alex ignored him, asked 'What time are you leaving?'

'Um, right now?'

Jack raised his eyebrows guiltily, almost apologetically, but the older boy ignored him, heaved himself into a sitting position.

'Well, have fun'

Jack rolled his eyes and sat down on the edge of the bed, tilted his head to one side.

'You know this is gonna suck right?'

'Um.. why?'

'Because you're not coming with me!'

'Oh my God Jack', Alex grumbled, covering his face with his hands so the younger boy wouldn't see the tint of pink on his cheeks, 'Will you just go please? If you even so much as think of me tonight I want you to slap yourself'

It was quiet for a few moments, save for Jack's quiet laughter, and when he finally peeled Alex's fingers away their faces were inches apart. It was too close for the older boy, but he tried to remember that it was just Jack. In any case, the way Jack was smiling at him was enough to avert his attention.

'I'll be slapping myself a lot then' He whispered, and his face and his grin were gone just as quickly as they'd come as the younger boy escaped the room, laughing and calling out a goodbye.

Alex however, just grumbled and hid his face in his pillow, willing the hot blush in his cheeks to go away.

And when it did, a new itch under his skin arrived just as quickly. Because this wasn't how his Friday nights were, ever. On Friday's, Jack came to Alex's house after school. They ate dinner together and the younger boy left at 6:00pm, leaving Alex to write until his arm hurt, and crawl into bed at 9:00.

He wasn't used to this, he wasn't used to being without Jack and he wasn't used to Jack being with someone else.

It was hard to remind himself that he'd asked for this though, that it'd been his idea for Jack to go to the party anyway. Alex supposed that maybe it'd been a half-hearted suggestion. He hadn't exactly banked on Jack going somewhere without him but, why shouldn't he? He was eighteen, he shouldn't be stuck in on a Friday night just for Alex's sake, especially when the older boy made Jack go home at six anyway.

It wasn't that Alex ever wanted him to leave, it was just that damn routine again and if Jack wasn't gone by six then it just..it threw the older boy off completely and that happened enough by accident, nevermind doing it on purpose.

And that was probably Alex's least favorite part of Aspergers, the fact that it restricted him and Jack so much. In their six years of friendship, the younger boy had never even stayed over at Alex's house. Nor had the older boy ever stayed at Jack's. It was just way, way too much for Alex, because as much as he loved Jack, and as much as sometimes he really, really didn't want his best friend to leave him at night, all it took was for him to think about Jack in his bed and he just.. he knew he couldn't do it.

And it wasn't as bad as it sounded, as repulsed as it might've sounded. It wasn't that he didn't want Jack, because he did, it was just that he physically couldn't do it, couldn't imagine the younger boy being in his bed, so close with him.

He couldn't even stomach the thought of Jack sleeping on the floor, or sleeping on the sofa downstairs. And over the years, the younger boy had offered to sleep on pretty much every surface in Alex's house. It killed the older boy when he did that, when he begged and pleaded to just stay over because Jack did so much for Alex every day, and it made the older of the two feel like crap every single time, because he was denying Jack the closeness that he wanted so badly when the younger boy never denied Alex anything.

And it was just another thing to add to the list of unbalance in their relationship, the most infuriating of them all for Alex because he wanted to be close to Jack too, closer than they were. Sometimes when the younger boy hugged him gently Alex just wanted to stay like that, to just...cuddle up with him, watch a movie, or something normal people did. But then he just really imagined it, just imagined being confined to Jack's arms for a long length of time and it made him feel like he was suffocating.

He couldn't do it and he hated that. Alex would live with all the effects of aspergers without one single bit of complaint, if he could just not feel the way he did around Jack, if he could just be close to him the way he wanted to be. That was all he ever really wanted, and the fact that he couldn't have it made Alex's eyes sting.

It also made his fingernails curl into his arm just slightly, nerves trembling as his breath came out shakily. He tried not to do this, he really did but sometimes it was all he could do to vent out all the anger he felt at himself, all the frustration and self-hatred. And even though he knew how mad Jack was going to be he just couldn't help it, closing his eyes as his short nails sunk firmly into the skin.

He felt the smallest trickle of blood down his arm at the same time a tear slid down his cheek and he choked out a barely there sob because sometimes, sometimes Alex just didn't know what to do with himself.

- - -

Jack decided to walk to Alex's on Saturday morning, more to clear his head than anything. There was a pulse at the back of his skull that was pounding, painful and consistent and the younger boy groaned as he walked, sucking fresh air into his lungs like it was going out of fashion.

He'd kind of over-done the booze last night. And when he said kind of, he meant he'd gotten completely trashed. He supposed he'd made the most of not having to watch out for Alex all night, as guilty as that made him feel now.

It was to ease his guilt for maybe enjoying himself too much, and for not calling to check in with the older boy that Jack stumbled into McDonald's to grab both him and Alex some breakfast. He knew the older boy would most likely not eat it-he only ate the same cereal for breakfast each and every day- but he still purchased the boy a sausage McMuffin anyway, just as a gesture and an apology.

He knew Alex would appreciate it, even if he didn't eat it.

With his new purchases under his arm Jack carried on swiftly to the older boys house, passing Alex's mom on the way to work. She waved to him from her car and the younger boy grinned back before he walked up the Gaskarth driveway, not bothering to knock on the door.

He found Alex in the living room, perched in the middle of the sofa with his legs crossed as he scribbled away in one of his many notebooks. Jack couldn't help but be a little comforted at the familiar scene. He coughed to make his presence known and slipped his shoes off before he padded across the carpet, dropping the brown McDonald's bag into Alex's lap and kissing the boys hair quickly.

Alex let him get away with that sometimes.

'Brought you some breakfast' He announced with a smile, moving back through to the kitchen, knowing Alex would follow. He grabbed a plate for himself, and one that was as equally worn and cracked as the older boys breakfast bowl.

'You don't have to eat it' Jack said softly, setting the plates down and looking at Alex's troubled expression, 'Seriously, I just got it in case you wanted something. It's no big deal'

The older boy shook his head, eyebrows creased, 'N-no, it's fine', he mumbled, 'Thanks'

He couldn't really help but to be a little surprised- it wasn't very often Alex varied what he ate- but still, Jack was happy about it. He shrugged to himself and sat down opposite the older boy, taking a generous bite out of his own McMuffin. Alex took a contrastingly small nibble but still, it was something.

'Was um, was the party good?'

Jack swallowed and shrugged, stretched his legs out underneath the table and twined them around Alex's.

'It wasn't bad actually, not that I remember much of it..'

He rolled his eyes when the older boy untangled his legs but otherwise said nothing, 'Did you have a good night? I'm sorry I didn't call I just.. I lost track of time and.. Alex?'

Jack sat forward a little, automatically sucking his bottom lip between his teeth when he saw that the older boys eyes were shining a little.

'Lex.. w-what's up?' He pleaded softly, reaching for Alex's hand under the table and keeping hold of it though the older boy tried to shake him off, 'What's the matter?'

He squeezed Alex's cold hand and when their eyes met Jack tilited his head pleadingly, stomach beginning to churn. He hated when Alex got upset like this.

'Alex please'

The older boys breath was coming out in little pants now, shoulders shaking. 'Y-you'll get mad'

He whispered it so brokenly and Jack's heart splintered, head shaking automatically, 'I won't, Alex please..'

A dry sob from Alex shattered the quiet, and he looked up at the younger boy like he was in the most brutal pain imaginable.

'I-I..I did it again' He stammered, and it was like someone was slicing Jack's heart with a razor, bit by tiny bit.

'No' He whispered, head shaking, 'Tell me you didn't..'

He trailed off because Alex had. It was all over his face and Jack's heart crumpled as the older boy pulled his hand away. He had to close his eyes for a second when Alex pulled his sleeve back. The nail marks were imprinted clearly across the flesh on his arm, and when the younger boy opened his eyes again and blinked back the wet in his eyes he ran his fingertips over the damage, pads of his fingers cool against the heat of the torn skin.

There were still the slightest trails of dried blood and Jack closed his eyes again, regret and anger bubbling up inside of him because he was out at a fucking party whilst Alex was doing this to himself.

'Why Alex?', He managed to whisper out, running his fingers lightly over the skin in an attempt to soothe the older boy, whose shoulders were still shaking, 'W-what happened?'

Alex shook his head, wiped at his eyes with his free hand.

'I don't know'

An exasperated laugh passed Jack's lips, quiet and disbelieving, 'Well, what do you mean you don't know? Alex you don't.. you don't just do this to yourself..'

Alex stayed silent, and the younger boy sighed, trying his hardest to push his irritation away because now wasn't the time. He sat forward in his chair.

'Lex just.. just please talk to me. I-I can help'

'I don't want to talk about it' Alex mumbled, 'It doesn't matter'

'It doesn't matter?!', Jack could hear his voice raising, 'Alex you're hurting yourself, it fucking matters okay?'

'Don't swear at me'

'Well stop being dumb!' The younger boy exclaimed, 'Stop brushing it off like it's nothing, like it doesn't matter-'

'It doesn't'

'Well then stop fucking doing it!' Jack threw his hands up, 'If it's nothing then don't fucking do it Alex, it's ridiculous! How the hell does it solve anything huh?'

The older boy took a gulp, 'It helps me'

'Good', Jack bit incredulously, pushing his chair out, 'I guess you can rely on that then, because right now I don't want to help you at all'

'Jack-'

'Give me a call when you realize that you owe me an explanation'

- - -

Alex didn't call.

He didn't know what to say, and so consequently when Monday came around he didn't have much to show for his weekend. Just more pieces of writing, and two arms mangled and dented from his efforts.

He didn't even care that Jack would get mad at him again, he just didn't. The younger boy shouldn't have acted the way he had, and as much as Alex knew Jack had just been frustrated, he also knew that it'd hurt a lot, when the younger boy had yelled at him, when he'd called him dumb.

Jack knew how much that four letter word hurt Alex, he'd seen it rip him apart all the way through high school and even though the older boy knew his friend had only said it out of anger, it didn't make it hurt any less. It didn't stop him wanting to curl his fingernails into his arm again.

The older boy knew it wasn't going to be a good week. He didn't want to go to college, he wanted to just melt away into nothing but he couldn't, because his routine had been disrupted enough already today, and it was barely even 8 o clock in the morning. He didn't go to Jack's- he didn't dare to, and so the older boy sat on his own in an empty house for breakfast, feeling so much more than sorry for himself. He felt so alone.

Jack was certainly doing well at making a point, making Alex suffer. The older boy just wondered if his friend knew that the way he was shunning Alex was just making him hurt himself even more. Maybe he didn't care anymore. The older boy wouldn't be able to blame Jack for giving up on him, if that were the case.

It wasn't the case though, and Alex should have known that.

When he creeped shyly into homeroom on Monday Jack was there even before him, his face a blunder of so many different emotions as Alex met his eyes. Anger, worry, guilt, irritation. The younger boys cheeks burned as he sat down at the desk beside his friend. He didn't know what to say, but Jack was ahead of him anyway.

'I told you to call me' He snapped quietly, but it didn't come off as quite as sharp as Alex thought he'd intended, 'Why.. you can't just do that to me Alex, I've been going out of my mind'

The older boy took it all wordlessly, pulling a new piece of paper and a pen from his bag as Jack ranted on and on about how he should have called, and how worried he'd been. When he finally finished and looked at Alex expectantly, the older boy spoke quiet and soft.

'You didn't call me either y'know', He pointed out, 'You could've, if you were that worried about me'

'It's not me that was in the wrong Alex'

'Well y'know Jack I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm always the one in the wrong. I'm wrong inside. If you can't handle that...'

The next words died on the older boys tongue. He couldn't finish that sentence because he didn't mean it, nor did he want Jack to leave him. He sighed miserably.

'W-what I did.. I-I didn't do it to hurt you Jack. I-It helps me okay? It punishes me'

'For what?' The younger boy asked desperately, and a few more people were arriving now but Jack didn't seem to notice, just leaned closer and rested his hand on Alex's, 'For what Alex?'

A tear spilled over the younger boys cheek.

'For the way I am'

Jack looked so many types of dazed and confused, and he shook his head and stumbled for words.

'This thing I have Jack..', Alex sniffled, 'This..this disease, it's the most stupid, horrible thing in the world. It's pathetic Jack and I ruin everything. I can't.. I cant even go to a party with you, because I'm s-so afraid, of everything. I-I can't handle the way I am Jack and hurting myself.. i-it just..it helps'

The younger boy was welling up now and he squeezed Alex's hand so, so tight as he opened and closed his mouth.

'I can help you', Jack whispered shakily, 'Y-you don't ruin things Alex okay? You don't. You're.. you're the best thing I have okay? And I just.. you cant keep doing this Lex because it does hurt me. I-I said some stupid things on Saturday but it's because it scares me so much when you do this stuff to yourself. It scares me that you wont let me help'

'You cant Jack' Alex whispered, willing any kind of power into his voice, trying to just make Jack understand, 'H-how can you help me, when I'm so afraid of being close to you? H-how can I let you help me when everything in my head just tells me to push you away? Because I want you Jack, I-I want you close to me but my mind can't bear the thought of it. I-I'm so screwed up and you can't help me Jay. Y-you shouldn't have to'

Alex noticed a student or two glancing in their direction, and he wiped at his eyes fiercely, trying to pull his hand from Jack's grip. The younger boy had no intention of letting go though and he shook his head, licked his lips.

'You're crazy, if you think I'd ever give you up Alex'

'I don't know why you bother', The older boy whispered.

And it was true, he had no idea whatsoever why Jack would sacrifice so much of his own life for Alex, for a condition that was never going to get any better. The truth of that made the older boys eyes sting again and he tried to speak but Jack beat him to it.

'You can talk to me', He whispered pleadingly, 'You can talk to me instead of hurting yourself because you can tell me anything Alex, you know you can. A-and I know you find it hard to be close to me but we..we can work on it.'

The older boy shook his head, tears still spilling frequently, 'W-we can't. Y'know, s-sometimes when you hug me I just.. I really, really don't want you to let go Jack, I don't. And so I let you keep me close but then it just.. i-it feels like I'm suffocating and as much as I want you near me I can't handle it..n-not physically.'

He was babbling desperately now but he just wanted Jack to understand why this was so hard for him. He needed him to understand.

Jack didn't though, and Alex couldn't really expect any different when he didn't even get it himself.

As more and more of their classmates filed in the younger boy shifted his chair closer to Alex's, still keeping a hold on his hand.

'D-did you..I mean, you haven't..'

He didn't finish but he nodded to the older boys arms and Alex understood immediately. Feeling so ashamed it was unreal, he nodded his head slowly in confirmation. He wasn't sure whether you could see someones heart break through their eyes, but he was pretty sure Jack's just shattered.

'I'm sorry', He whimpered.

Jack shook his head brokenly, 'I just...why?'

And the older boy looked down, wet eyelashes fanning across his cheeks. 'Y-you were mad at me'

He looked away as Jack pulled his sleeves up just slightly, gently. His arms stung regardless but Alex kept his mouth shut, hating the way the younger boys face contorted in sadness at the mess of nail prints and torn skin.

'Y-you don't deserve any of this Alex', Jack whispered, and it was so soft and dejected that the older boy only just caught it.

He squeezed his best friends hand weakly.

'Neither do you'

 
 
 
live_by_lyricslive_by_lyrics on June 4th, 2011 01:53 am (UTC)
Oh gosh, this is beautiful. The fact that Jack hasn't given up yet is so inspiring. I can't imagine what it must be like to want be close to someone but physically unable to. This has really opened my eyes :)