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27 June 2011 @ 07:28 pm
Guts [five]  
Title: Guts
Author: atl340
Pairing: Jalex
Rating: PG-13, I guess
Disclaimer: Not real etc etc, Title belongs to All Time Low
Authors Notes: So it's been just over two weeks since i updated this, and i apologise. i haven't had any internet access so there was nothing i could do D: hopefully you'll like this chapter though, and keep commenting :)

masterpost. | tumblr.



‘Seriously Jack? I haven’t done anything’

Grumbling from where he was sitting at the breakfast table Alex sighed in defeat, pulling his sleeves up carefully with his mood taking a nose dive. Jack just watched him expectantly and the older boy let out a noise of annoyance before he held his arms out to his best friend, proving to Jack that his words were true, that he hadn’t caused any more damage to himself recently.

That wasn’t to say that the sight of Alex’s arms was pretty though, because it wasn’t. They were still red and sore from the older boy’s last episode, and a few scars were scattered into the flesh. Frowning at the view Alex quickly rolled his sleeves back down, swerving his eyes away from Jack’s gaze as he did so, and shuffling away from the younger boy when Jack’s hand stretched under the table to squeeze his knee.

For once, Alex wasn’t shying away because of the contact. He was shying away because he was sulking, hating the fact that Jack insisted on inspecting his arms all the time. The older boy knew he’d kind of brought that on himself, but that didn’t mean he had to like it and he definitely didn’t.

Jack was also in on the fact that it wasn’t the contact his best friend was trying to get away from. When Alex finally met his eyes the younger boy sighed and sat back in his chair, threw his best friend a pout.

‘You know I’m just making sure you’re okay’

Alex rolled his eyes, ‘I don’t need the third degree every morning Jack. If I say I haven’t hurt myself then you should believe me’

The older boy started to scribble in his newest notepad then, continuing on from something he’d started writing when he couldn’t sleep last night. He brushed it off with a little noise of annoyance when Jack reached for his free hand, and Alex was aware he slightly resembled a child at the moment but he didn’t care, just wanted to get his point across because he didn’t like that the younger boy didn’t trust him completely.

Jack huffed from across the table, more deflated than annoyed.

‘Please don’t sulk Lex’ He murmured, ‘I just worry okay? There’s plenty of times in the past when you’ve hurt yourself and not told me about it..’

‘Well what does it matter?’ Alex grumbled, ‘What difference does telling you make if I’ve already done it?’

He had a point and they both knew it, and the older boy looked back to his notepad as Jack opened and closed his mouth in search of an answer. It was quiet, and Alex felt a tiny itch of guilt under his skin because Jack was only trying to help, as always. He didn’t really deserve the cold shoulder.

The older boy sighed at that, dropped his pen to the table with a quiet clink. He seemed to be fighting with Jack more and more lately, and he knew he was the reason why. Everything the boy did seemed to result in more distance between himself and Jack, and the older boy hated that, hated the space forming between them. It scared him.

 The last time he’d really felt close to Jack was the day they’d differed from Alex’s routine and gone to the park.

On that day the older boy had felt that spark between them, and it was always there but because of everything that was wrong with Alex it always remained at the very bottom of the agenda, dulled down so that he could barely notice it. The older boy never had time to think about how Jack made him feel because he was always too concentrated on his routine, on sticking to his schedule. That day in the park, with his schedule well and truly out of the window all those feelings had surfaced to the forefront of his mind, and that spark had grown a little brighter.

And Alex missed that as he sat at the breakfast table now, missed all the weird combinations of emotions Jack had made him feel that day. He missed the closeness and the connection and he hated that he couldn’t feel the spark now, hated the fact that he couldn’t even see past his need for structure and order to see that his chest was practically aching for him to be closer to Jack.

He missed that spark, and he hadn’t really realized that up until now. He thought the ache situated in his chest had just been his anxiety, like it usually was, but just thinking about the day in the park eased up the knots inside of him just fractionally and let Alex know that that was what was causing him to feel like this, that it was the distance between him and Jack that was bothering him, and not his aspergers.

And it wasn’t often that Alex’s problems weren’t solely due to his syndrome. It was a strange feeling, and the need to bridge the constantly growing gap between himself and Jack was staggering. The older boy felt his skin itching for the pressure of his nails but he resisted, if only because Jack was in the room.

Alex tried switching tactics, focusing more on the ache in his chest than the itch under his skin. He figured if he could stop the ache then maybe the itch would go away too.

And Alex knew exactly how to get rid of the ache. He did but he couldn’t quite bring himself to do it and so he started with an apology instead, folding his arms across his tiny stomach and biting his lip.

‘I’m sorry’ He murmured quietly. ‘I just..I just wish you’d trust me more. I know I’ve lied in the past, a-about self harm and stuff, but I wouldn’t do that now. Not to you.’

He shifted in his seat as Jack stayed quiet. ‘I-it’s hard to explain but, when you ask to see my arms it just..my head tells me that you don’t trust me, and I can’t really handle that and so my head tells me to hurt myself to make it better. I-it’s like I have some really, really bad influence in my head and…well, I guess we both know I’m not really good at ignoring it..’

Alex bit his lip at the truth of that, felt his palms start to perspire just a little as Jack met his eyes and frowned.

‘So… me checking you haven’t hurt yourself actually makes you want to’

It was put a lot simpler than Alex could manage, but it was basically true. The older boy didn’t voice that though, because he saw the way Jack’s face creased up in guilt at himself.

‘It’s not you’ Alex murmured softly, shaking his head, ‘It’s not your fault Jack’

‘I’m making you want to hurt yourself’

‘I…no’, The older boy frowned, completely at a loss, ‘No’

The sadness on Jack’s face didn’t ease up whatsoever, and Alex groaned softly at himself as he reached under the table, and as much as a lot of contact still made the older boy dizzy and uncomfortable, holding the younger boys hand was one thing he knew he could do. And so tentatively, Alex weaved his fingers loosely through Jack’s warmer ones, unsurprised when the ache in his chest and in his bones eased up just ever so slightly.

He knew his body yearned for the contact even though his mind couldn’t handle it, and that was an extremely confusing feat.

Still, holding hands didn’t exactly send Alex into panic anymore. He could handle it, and he felt a flutter of relief in his chest when Jack’s fingers squeezed his own lightly before the younger boy spoke.

‘No more inspections’ He mumbled quietly. ‘Promise’

He gave Alex’s hand another tiny squeeze with the last word, the older boy smiling softly and he could still feel that distance between them but it was lessened where their hands were interlocked, that hint of a spark there because for once Alex was thinking of Jack, rather than his routine.

‘Well I promise I’ll tell you, if.. if I do anything stupid’, He offered.

Jack laughed softly, ‘I’d rather you just promise not to do anything stupid’

He smiled with his words and Alex knew he was joking, in a roundabout way. The older of the two smiled, feeling a little more settled with the frosty atmosphere between them dissipating.

‘I’ll see what I can do’ He sighed softly.

---

When the two boys arrived at college the same day, Alex felt okay. He didn’t have the itch under his skin or the racing mind that he’d had yesterday when Jack wasn’t with him. It was an unbelievable comfort, to have the younger boy there and although Alex already knew it, the difference in his mood yesterday and his mood today was a testament to how much he relied on Jack. The younger boy made Alex’s anxiety bearable, and when the best friends slipped into their homeroom the older boy actually found he was in a fairly good mood.

Especially when Jake slipped into the room twenty minutes later, because Alex actually gave him a smile that was genuine. He was reminded of the step he’d taken the previous day in eating lunch with the other boy, and Alex couldn’t fight his happiness as Jake smiled back at him. The older boy wouldn’t admit it out loud, but he was proud of himself for what he’d done. At one point, he would never have even entertained the prospect of talking or interacting with someone that wasn’t Jack.

And now he’d done it, and he hadn’t exactly made amazing conversation, and he definitely hadn’t felt completely comfortable but he’d still done it, and now he wasn’t completely filled with panic when Jake sat down on the other side of Jack. Now he actually gave a shy smile in reply when Jake said hi to him.

The strange thing, was that Jack wasn’t half as welcoming.

The strange thing, was that Jack mumbled a disinterested hello to the boy on his other side before he actually turned his back to Jake, eyes drifting over Alex’s face.

The older boy was confused to say that least, and a little taken aback because Jack was never rude like that, especially not to someone he considered a friend. Even Jake looked a little shocked, and his eyes flickered to Alex just briefly before he pulled a confused face to himself, and turned to talk to the girl on his other side.

When he was immersed in conversation, Alex closed his notebook and leaned closer to his best friend.

‘What was that?!’ He whispered, the words coming out in a hiss as he tried to stay quiet.

Jack just raised his eyebrows nonchalantly, ‘What?’

Alex’s mouth opened disbelievingly, ‘Seriously Jack? You were kinda rude to Jake just then’

The younger boy frowned, ‘I just said hello..’

‘And then turned your back on him’ Alex scoffed, mood turning anxious as he bit his lip, ‘Did you two have a fight?’

‘What? No!’ Jack laughed, ‘We’re fine okay? We’re friends, stop worrying so much. I just turned away because I wanted to talk to you..’

The older boy frowned then, studied Jack’s face for a sign of a lie but found nothing.

‘Oh’, was Alex’s eventual response, ‘Um.. what about?’

The younger boy laughed and shrugged, ‘Nothing in particular. Just want to talk to my favorite person in the world, is that okay?’

‘I-‘ Alex stuttered, blushing over Jack’s words, ‘Shut up’

He felt his cheeks get hotter as the younger boy laughed, and he buried his nose back into his notebook and tried to get his thoughts into order. He always got overly flustered when Jack said things like that to him, it was part of the reason the younger boy did it so much.

‘You’re so embarrassing’ He mumbled, but really he liked the things Jack said to him more than he let on. The younger boy knew that too, and he laughed softly and shuffled closer to Alex just for a moment, to put his arm around the older boys waist and squeeze him close.

Alex’s cheeks were hot as Jack let him have his space again, and the smile on his lips didn’t seem to be going anywhere.

Not until lunch, anyway, because lunch was when Alex noticed Jack acting strange again, a little rude and a little snappy.

Before then, their morning classes had gone well. Jack had kept the older boy in good spirits, and Alex pretty much forgot all about the weird little moment with Jake in homeroom.

He forgot about it so much that when he and Jack made for the cafeteria at the beginning of lunch, Alex was planning to just be brave and suggest that he and his best friend sit with Jake. He was doing it because he wanted to show Jack that he could, and that he could make it through without freaking out. He wanted to prove to the younger boy that he was getting a little better.

And so, when the two boys walked into the cafeteria, Alex was quick to scan around for his new acquaintance. He spotted Jake and saw that the other boy was actually looking in his and Jack’s direction, almost like he was hoping the two boys would sit with him. The only thing that put Alex off for a moment was that Jake was sitting with other people, but the older boy reminded himself that he was with Jack, and that it’d be okay.

When he and the younger boy were lining up to buy their food, Alex took a shaky breath.

‘So um, I-I think we should sit with Jake today’ He started quietly, grabbing his customary sandwich and apple as the queue shifted forwards slightly.

‘We don’t have to’ Jack mumbled back, and it was quick and disinterested and the older boys forehead creased.

‘I can do it’ He bit his lip unsurely, not understanding why Jack was being the way he was, ‘I wanna show you’

‘Well you don’t need to’ The younger boy muttered, slight agitation slipping into his voice, ‘You don’t need to prove anything to me’

‘But..I-I want to..’

‘Not today alright?’

‘But-‘

‘No’ Jack cut in, ‘Not today’

And Alex cursed his aspergers then, because his growing anger made all the words jumble up in his head and it took him a good few moments to compose himself. When he did though, he was still growing extremely irritated with Jack’s manner.

‘What is your problem?!’ He demanded, his own voice sounding alien to him because it was rare that he shouted, ‘Why are you being like this?’

‘I’m not being like anything!’ Jack retaliated, ‘I’d just like to eat lunch alone with you, okay?’

‘Why?’ Alex frowned, ‘You.. you’re always trying to get me to talk to people, and now I’m trying to you won’t let me?’

They were fast approaching the head of the queue and the older boy watched with a frown as Jack grabbed a bag of chips before laughing, seemingly unphased by Alex’s outburst. That didn’t do a lot to settle the older boys irritation, but Jack spoke before Alex got a chance.

‘You’re reading way too much into this’ He said softly, and his smile made it hard for the older boy to stay mad, ‘I wasn’t here yesterday was I? So I just want to spend some time alone with you, is that so bad?’

‘But-‘

‘I just want to be with you for a little while, alright? Seems like all we do is fight lately..’

And that one stopped Alex in his tracks, because Jack was noticing the distance too. The younger boy had spoken like he hated it just as much as Alex did. And so the older boy couldn’t argue anymore, because he wanted to spend time with the younger boy too, and whilst Alex didn’t by any means one hundred percent believe what Jack was saying to him, for the moment he let it drop because if he didn’t, they were going to fight again.

And a fight meant Alex would hurt himself, and hurting himself would hurt Jack and they’d come full circle once again.

The older boy wanted to break the cycle, if only for a little bit, and so for now he just sighed and leant into Jack just a little, nodding his head.

‘I wanna spend time with you too’

---

Even though the younger boy was still a little off during the afternoon, Alex’s spirits didn’t dampen too much.

After the two boys ate dinner in relative silence, the older boy followed his best friend up the stairs to his bedroom. It always got Alex a little bit antsy, having people in his room, but Jack knew that and he knew not to move anything and for the most part, it was bearable for the older boy.

He ignored that common feeling of unease as Jack flopped down onto his bed, and whilst Alex knew that would make his own sleep tonight fairly restless, he didn’t say anything. He didn’t really mind, when it came to Jack.

He did mind how quiet his best friend was being though, how out of character he was acting and Alex frowned as he perched himself down next to Jack. It was annoying when he just wanted to reach out and maybe trail his fingers down the curve of the younger boys back, or run a hand through his hair, because his heart wanted him to do it but his head said no.

Ignoring the itch in his fingertips Alex sighed and kept his hands to himself, folding his arms across stomach.

‘You gonna tell me what’s bothering you?’ He asked softly.

Rolling onto his back and brushing hair out of his eyes, the younger boy sighed. ‘Nothin’

Alex raised his eyebrows expectantly, and Jack stuck his tongue out. ‘Don’t wanna talk about it’

The older boy rolled his eyes at Jack’s childishness, feeling that want again to run a hand through his best friend’s almost-black hair.

‘Don’t you always tell me that you can’t make me feel better if I don’t tell you the problem? It works both ways y’know’

He spoke softly, smiling at the chance to use Jack’s words against him. The younger boy rolled his eyes in return but otherwise said nothing.

Alex sighed, ‘Did you fight with Jake? Tell me the truth..’

‘No’ Jack laughed softly, though there was still some kind of sadness in him, ‘It’s not about Jake, or anyone else alright? It’s just you’

The older boy frowned, ‘What did I do?’

‘Nothing’ Jack sighed, a tone to his voice that said he really wanted Alex to believe him when he said that, ‘I’m just being dumb’

Alex shook his head, at a loss. ‘You’re also talking in riddles. Can you just.. tell me what’s bothering you please?’

He bit his lip and looked at Jack pleadingly, and the younger boy sighed and pulled himself into a seated position.

‘You’re nosy’

‘Shut up’ Alex rolled his eyes, ducking out of the way of a pillow that was thrown in his direction and swiftly moving to pick it up afterwards. He placed it back where it was supposed to be with a joking glare towards the younger boy and Jack laughed.

‘Sorry’

‘Mm’, Alex hummed, ‘Just tell me what’s up’

He sat down a little closer to Jack this time, crossing his legs underneath him. ‘Why didn’t you want to sit with Jake today?’

The younger boys face had fallen serious again and he ran a hand through his hair before he sighed and reached over for Alex’s arm, rolling a sleeve up gently and exposing the sore skin.

‘Jack..’

The older boy trailed off uncertainly as his best friends fingers trailed over the scars gently.

‘You went too far this time’ Jack mumbled quietly, thumb trailing over a scab to illustrate his point. Alex dropped his head in understanding. The last time he’d self-harmed, he’d pressed deeper and harder than he’d ever done before. He’d put himself in more pain than he’d intended, and Jack could see that. It’d shaken both of them up.

‘You really scared me’ The younger boy voiced quietly, ‘You don’t.. I don’t know how to make you see that there are other ways to deal with things Lex. And when I can only spend so much time with you I worry about the time we’re apart. When I leave at night I worry that I might’ve said something that upset you… I worry that when I’m gone you’re just gonna hurt yourself again.’

Alex felt his eyes prickle with heat.

‘I just.. I'm trying Alex, I’m trying so hard to just.. protect you from everything. I-I’m trying to make sure that nobody upsets you, and nobody puts pressure on you because I just..I can’t deal with you doing this to yourself’

He smoothed his fingers across Alex’s arm and the older boy watched the action with a lump in his throat.

‘That’s why I didn’t want you sitting with Jake and the others today’ Jack mumbled, ‘Because you’re doing it because you want to prove something to me, but you don’t need to Alex. And you know what? I’m so proud of you, for eating with Jake yesterday but, what if today something had freaked you out? What if.. what if you hadn’t coped with it as well as you did yesterday? I-I don’t want to risk you getting upset. I want to avoid that as much as possible…’

The room fell quiet then, and Alex swallowed thickly as he tried to process all of that. It was a lot to stomach, and whilst the tiniest part of him gushed at how much Jack obviously cared about him, the majority of Alex was racked with guilt like always, because the younger boy was putting his best friend before himself so exclusively, like he always did.

In the end, Alex just sighed and blinked back the tears in his eyes.

‘You can’t protect me from everything Jack’

The younger boys reply was simple. ‘I can try’

‘Jack-‘

‘I wish you would just tell me what you need’ Jack cut in quietly, ‘I wish you would just tell me what I can do because you look so fucking sad all the time Alex, and you have the weight of the world on your shoulders and I hate that I can’t seem to take that load off of you. I-It doesn’t help when you won’t let me in y’know? Because the one thing I can’t protect you from is yourself Alex. I don’t know what goes on in your head because you won’t tell me, and it drives me crazy. I just..I want to bundle you up sometimes and just keep everything away from you..’

Jack was getting upset now, and when Alex surveyed the situation he realized they were right back here again, both teary eyed and not necessarily fighting, but just as unhappy as they always seemed to be lately, and this was the problem.

Alex swallowed thickly.

‘I am sad’, He admitted quietly. ‘I-I’m sick of it always ending up like this Jack. Lately we just..we’re fighting or we’re crying. That seems to be it and I hate it, and it’s me that makes it this way. I’m the one who can’t handle my emotions and I’m the one who shoves it all onto you. I fucking hate this Jack because it’s pushing you away from me. I’m sad because there’s this barrier between us and it keeps getting wider and wider and I don’t know what to do about it..’

The older boy trailed off in frustration because his head wasn’t providing him with the words to say what he wanted to say. He wasn’t making any sense and his irritation was building. Taking a deep breath through his nose, Alex tried to speak again.

‘I just..I hate what aspergers does to me. I hate that I can’t.. t-that I can’t be with you the way I want to be’

It made the older boys heart race to say that out loud, but he carried on. ‘W-when you took me to the park that day..that’s how I want it to be y’know? We actually had fun, for the most part, and I wasn’t completely freaking out or thinking about my routine for once. I-I got to think about you instead and..and I like that. I felt good that day because I felt close to you, a-and since then we’ve just gotten further and further apart, and… I hate it’

A hot tear slipped down Alex’s cheek then, and he pulled his arm out of Jack’s grasp to wipe his eyes.

‘I just feel so lonely’ He said brokenly, ‘A-and it’s my fault because it’s not like you’re the one pushing me away. You try to be close to me but.. I-I don’t let you, a-and I don’t know how to let you. I want you..I-I want to be close to you but my head won’t let me. And you know what? Here we are again, me crying about all of my stupid bullshit and you having to listen to it. I am so sick of crying about this, and getting frustrated with myself because I can’t do this. I want to do this..’

The older boy trailed off then, knowing he was going round and round in circles and even though he’d gotten all of that off his chest he still felt no better, still shrunk on himself in unease when Jack knelt in front of him and cupped his cheek. And his hand was warm and it was right but yet so wrong in Alex’s head. He wanted to protest, but Jack beat him to it.

‘You need to try Alex’ He whispered, ‘This is one thing I can’t do for you, y’know? I can’t make you be comfortable with being close to me, because all that’s going to happen is that I’m going to push you too far, and then we’re both gonna wind up getting hurt. I-If you want to do this then.. it has to be you, Alex. You have to try and make yourself okay with this. You have to learn to be close to me’

‘I-I know’ The older boy nodded shakily, and he did. He knew that Jack was right, and that the younger boy initiating all the contact and Alex just barely tolerating it all wasn’t going to solve anything. Alex had to be the one to initiate it, and it had to be because he wanted it, not just because he didn’t want to hurt Jack’s feelings. Alex needed to deal with the unease it made him feel, because if he didn’t how was it going to go away?

He couldn’t get what he wanted and be close to Jack if he didn’t try, if he didn’t deal with the discomfort and let it pass. Alex knew he had to face up to his fears if he wanted the barrier between him and Jack to fade away.

And he did want that, more than anything, and so the older boy nodded shakily and brought his hand up to lightly cover the one that was pressed to his cheek, head turning so that his lips could just ever so slightly brush against Jack’s palm.

It was a start.

- - -



again, sorry for the massive delay with this. 

comments would be awesome :3

 

 
 
 
I just see the real thing.imsummergirl on June 28th, 2011 12:08 am (UTC)
Oh gosh, how I love this fic!!! <3
yeah, it's a great start *-*