The longer the two of them sat there, the more Asher’s mind continued to race.
“Ollie, please… Just tell me what’s wrong.” His shaking voice finally broke the silence.
Beside him, Oliver shrugged. “It’s… complicated.”
Asher felt himself growing suddenly angry at his friend’s words. “Seriously? ‘It’s complicated’?! That’s bullshit and you know it. You’re gonna have to do better than that.”
Ollie let out a heavy sigh. “I know. I’m sorry.”
“So what is it then? Are… are you afraid or something? Because of the whole ‘being with a guy’ thing? ‘Cause I mean, I get it, okay? But we can figure it out…”
His friend shook his head. “It’s not that.”
“Is it Landon?” This time, Asher felt more confident in his guess. “Is it because I still… y’know?” Still love him, he’d wanted to say. But saying those words out loud to Ollie felt wrong. “Because that’s… that’s not gonna change anything about us. I promise. I tried to make Landon see that, but he couldn’t. But I hope you can.” His voice was full of desperation.
“That’s… a tiny part of it, I guess.” Ollie admitted. At least they were finally getting somewhere. “Can’t lie, that part feels a little weird.” He paused for a moment. “But that’s not really it. There’s something else.”
Asher felt a bit of his anger flaring up once more. “I’m getting really fucking tired of this guessing game! Just… tell me!”
Ollie took a deep breath. “Okay, okay… So, you remember the day you took your SATs right? When you got back home and… and I was there, and we talked and stuff?”
Asher nodded. It was many weeks ago now, but still so fresh in his mind. “How could I forget?” He asked.
“And, remember how I had to go? Because I was meeting Mom for dinner and she had some kind of ‘big news’ to tell me?”
Asher hesitated a moment before nodding this time. He had to dig a little deeper to recall that particular detail — his mind had been much more fixated on the warmth in Ollie’s eyes when he’d looked at him, or the gentle comfort of his embrace. “Yeah… I think so.”
Ollie’s voice shook nervously as he continued. “And I figured she was just excited about some stupid new movie role, same as always. But this time, it was different. She, uh, signed a deal for a TV show.”
Asher’s eyes widened. “Really? Cool!” Callie had filmed a few mini-series in the past, but as far as he knew, she’d never had a full-on television series under her belt.
“Yeah… She calls it her ‘big career move’.” For a moment, Ollie’s lips twitched into a smile. “She got a three-season deal right off the bat. It’s one of those lame ‘female cop has tons of sexual tension with her male partner’ things. It’s been done about a million times, but Mom’s pretty excited about it.”
“That’s awesome! But I’m not really sure what that has to do with us…”
Oliver bit his lip. “Well, the thing is… They’re gonna film the show in New York. And instead of flying back and forth, Mom wants to… um…” He turned away from Asher, leaving the sentence unfinished.
Asher stared at Ollie for a moment, saying nothing as he let the words sink-in. It took only seconds for him to finally understand. His stomach lurched horribly as the realization hit him.
The moment the words passed his lips, Asher watched as his best friend burst into tears. “I didn’t know how to tell you. I’m sorry.” Ollie choked out between sobs. “I didn’t wanna ruin everything…”
Even seeing Oliver break down, Asher found himself unable to shed any tears of his own. He just felt numb and empty. “That’s why you’ve been so…” He wasn’t sure exactly how to describe it. Distant? Moody? Weird?
Oliver nodded. “I was scared.” He confessed tearfully, his voice shaking more than ever. “Because I knew if we got t-too close, it would just hurt m-ore when I’m g-gone…”
The heaviness in Asher’s chest had become so much that it was almost difficult to breathe. He forced the deepest breath he could muster before finally speaking again. “You should have told me.”
“I know. I’m an idiot.”
“But… But just ‘cause you’re leaving doesn’t mean we can’t be together!” A strange sense of deja vu washed over him then. For a moment, all the hopes and expectations he’d once held for himself and Landon seemed to return. “We could try and figure out the whole long distance thing…”
“Asher, no.” Despite his tears, Ollie’s voice was surprisingly firm. “I’m not gonna put you through that… or myself.” He added almost guiltily.
“Seriously? You’re just gonna throw it all away, just like that?” Asher snapped. “You’re not even gonna consider it?”
“I’m not.” Oliver wasn’t backing down. He let out a small, impatient sigh and paused to wipe the tears from his eyes. “Ash, do you know why my parents broke up back when I was a kid?”
He shook his head. Ollie’s parents had been broken up for nearly three years before Asher even met him.
“Mom was out here in LA working on her acting career, and Dad flew back to London to record with his band all the time. And when he wasn’t doing that, he’d be off on some stupid world tour. He’d be gone for months. They spent more time on opposite sides of the world than they did together. And do you know what happened?”
Asher said nothing, but did not shake his head this time. He had a very bad feeling he could guess the answer.
“Dad cheated on Mom. More than once. The tabloids found out before she did. But he didn’t even try to deny it.” His voice was dripping with disgust as he spoke.
“That’s awful.” Asher admitted. “I wish I could say it was surprising too, but…”
Ollie nodded. “Yeah, I know.”
“But… I don’t get it. You think I’d cheat on you or something?!” It was impossible to mask how offended he felt at the idea. “Or… Or that you’d cheat on me?”
“I don’t know!” Ollie cried. “I wanna believe that neither of us would do something like that… But I’m sure Mom believed that too.” He added softly. “Hell, I know my dad’s an asshole, but I’m pretty damn sure he didn’t believe he’d do it either. Not back then. I remember how it used to be. He loved Mom. But… people change. Especially when they’re in that kind of situation.”
“Yeah, but not everybody!” Asher insisted. “There are plenty of people who make it work!”
Ollie shook his head. “Look, I’m not gonna fight about this. Long distance friendship is gonna be hard enough as it is. Especially when we go to college next year too… Who the hell knows where we’re both gonna end up?”
Asher said nothing. The logical, rational side of him could understand where Ollie was coming from. Long distance would be hard, especially for people as young as they were… Maybe he and Landon would have been doomed no matter what.
But at least they’d had a few amazing months together. It was something Asher knew he would cherish for the rest of his life. But why should he only have that chance with Landon? What about Ollie?
Asher took a breath. “When are you leaving?” He asked softly.
“I’m not sure, exactly. I made Mom promise to let me finish the school year here, and they don’t start filming til August… so probably sometime in July?”
Asher’s heart sank even further. That was around the same time Landon was supposed to be moving to Ohio to start football training. In barely two months, they’d both be gone. Maybe forever.
“Shit. That’s not a lot of time.” He replied at last.
Ollie’s voice was pained. “I know.”
“Okay, so… I know there’s no changing your mind on the long distance thing… And I get it.”
Ollie eyed him warily. “Ash…”
Though Asher’s heart was breaking, he felt a strange sort of determination rising up within him. “Just hear me out. We’ve already wasted enough time, haven’t we? So why should we waste these last couple months we have together? This might be our only chance.”
“Fuck, Asher.” It was clear just how torn his best friend felt at this suggestion. “I dunno…”
“We don’t have to put a label on anything.” Asher insisted. “We don’t even have to tell anybody. Not even Lily, if you don’t want to. I just hate the idea of always wondering, you know? We’ve finally made it this far. We can’t… We can’t just throw it away. Not after all this.” He was practically begging now. “We’ve gotta try it. Even if it’s just for a little while…”
“This is just gonna make everything hurt even more when I leave, you know.” Ollie’s voice was a whisper.
“It will.” Asher agreed. And though a small smile had found its way onto his lips, he finally felt as though he were about to cry. “But you’re worth it.”
His friend said nothing then, and neither did Asher… What more was there to say?
Oliver’s dark eyes gazed deeply into his for several long moments.
And then, well, they both decided to let their bodies do the talking.
He and Ollie didn’t go all the way that night, but Asher didn’t mind. Even if they never made it to that point before they parted ways, what they shared there in the dim light of Ollie’s bedroom was enough. That night was so incredibly special to Asher, and meant just as much to him as those beautiful firsts he had once shared with Landon.
He knew it was something he would remember for the rest of his life.
When it was all over, they pulled their pajamas back on and laid together in Ollie’s soft, warm bed, holding each other in the silence until Ollie finally drifted off to sleep.
Asher brushed his lips against the other boy’s forehead before gently untangling himself from Ollie’s embrace and rising from the bed. The sun had already begun to rise and yet still, sleep eluded him.
He walked across the hall and out onto one of the mansion’s many balconies, looking out at the beautifully glowing sky as the sun continued creeping higher and higher over the horizon.
It was breathtakingly beautiful, and yet so fleeting. Asher knew that in just a few minutes’ time, it would all be over. The day would carry on, but that perfect view of the glorious sunrise would be nothing but a memory…
And though another sunrise would arrive the next morning, it would never be quite the same as this one.
Nothing ever lasts, does it? Asher realized. No matter how much we want it to.
The beautiful view in front of him became a misshapen blur as he finally allowed his tears to fall.