Jade knows, deep down, that his resentment of Davey’s relationship with Nils is one based purely on selfish desire. Luckily for him, he can masquerade it as concern for Davey’s mental well-being well enough not to draw much attention to it. And when Davey is late to the venue one night he finds the perfect opportunity to let it all out.
“Sorry I’m late,” Davey says as he breezes into the dressing room. Hunter and Adam don’t look up from where they are respectively warming up but mutter acceptance.
Similarly, Jade doesn’t look up from where he is tying his shoe lace but says, “Where have you been?”
Davey looks over at him and opens his mouth to say something but is interrupted by Nils poking his head around the open door. “I have my pass, so I’ll see you out there?”
Davey beams, opening his arms to let Nils scurry over into them. Jade thinks he might be sick in his mouth, wonders how many times he can tie and untie his lace before it wears away to nothing. He keeps his eyes trained on the ground until he hears the unmistakeable noise of a wet kiss and finds his head pulled up magnetically to watch Davey’s mouth move against Nils’. When they break the kiss Nils whispers against Davey’s lips, “Break a leg.” Nils, who looks like he ran through Davey’s wardrobe at high-speed.
“Bye, Nils,” Jade says, pointedly.
Nils looks over at him, hesitates, then leaves without looking back. Davey’s blank stare would look better on a serial killer. “I was helping Nils get ready.”
“How narcissistic of you.”
“How forward of you.”
“No, really. What did he ask for? To become your doppelganger?”
By now even Hunter and Adam can’t avoid the negative energy in the room and they cast a glance at one another. Adam clears his throat. “Hunter and I are gonna go check our gear,” he says, walking away with Hunter hot on his heels. They close the door behind them leaving Jade and Davey alone with only the pulsing bass of the support band to break the silence.
“He’s no good for you, Dave,” Jade says, sitting back on the couch.
Davey leans against his locker, looking at Jade down his nose. “Says you.”
“What happened to the days where we used to value one another’s opinions?”
“Fine,” Davey sighs, folding his arms over his chest. “As far as I can tell your opinion is based on nothing concrete – you don’t even know Nils. So if you want me to value your opinion you’re going to have to explain it to me.”
Jade falters, stunned. He hadn’t expected Davey to accept his opinion and change because of it (Jade knows by now that Davey never does anything for anyone else that way, and if someone outright expects something of him he will go out of his way to disappoint them), but he has expected this even less. How can he possibly explain that all of this is born from selfish need? That he hates Nils’ beauty and grace and the ease with which he captures Davey’s heart and imagination, but mostly he hates his own ugliness and gracelessness and how he is anything but exciting. Jade would go as far as saying Davey finds him boring. Or predictable. Or both.
Above all things, though, he hates that Davey can’t just read his mind. By now he knows Davey’s soul inside out, and finds it hard to accept that those things aren’t reciprocated.
He knows that his response needs to be exciting and poetic for Davey to even listen to him, but his words have dried up in his mouth. He exhales slowly through his nose. “I don’t think he understands you.”
Davey’s laugh is like salt in a wound. “He understands me plenty,” he says, pushing away from his locker and prowling across the room to the couch. “He understands what I want – if I want him to be gentle or if I want him to be rough or if I want him to take it. He understands when to speak, and when to listen. He is obedient, and he doesn’t question me. Least of all try to tell me what is best for me.” He stops walking when he is close enough that his feet are almost touching Jade’s, looking down at him with a blank expression.
“I didn’t mean he isn’t good in bed, or doesn’t understand how to suck dick. I mean...” on the days when you wake up wishing you were someone else would he be able to comfort you? Does he understand your gender fluidity? Or does he, like most everyone else, think your glitter and eyelashes are just for fun?
“I think I know what you mean.” Davey moves forward and sits on Jade’s lap, straddling him with his knees pressing into either side of Jade’s hips. Jade shivers, heat pooling low in his belly. “It suggests to me that you think you understand me perfectly, that you’re better for me than multi-vitamins. But remember when I came to you, and told you that was your chance?”
Jade does, vividly. He is overcome with the image of Davey crawling into his bunk on the bus, eyes red from hours spent crying. He pressed his wet face to Jade’s neck, limbs wrapped tight around him. “I dreamt you could siphon away my sadness with a kiss, taking some of it yourself to help me bear the weight.”
“Can I kiss you now?”
“This is your chance. But only if you promise never to stop.”
But Jade couldn’t promise.
“That was your chance. And you let it go. You may think yourself far superior to Nils, but he has never made me feel desperate and needy. So there’s that.” Davey gets up, and Jade immediately misses the contact. He almost groans.
“What do you want me to say?” he asks.
“Just promise me you’ll be happy for us. For me.”
But Jade can’t promise.
Jade hears about Davey and Nils' by-text-message breakup from Hunter who rubs his head and sighs. "He told Adam, who promised not to tell you. But I wasn't given any such instructions so..."
"Why did you think I'd care?" Jade asks, more than a little defensively. He is surprised and proud that the first words out of his mouth weren't 'I told him so' but also disappointed at his blatant loss of composure. "I just mean...if he doesn't want me to know then it clearly isn't any of my business."
"We're his friends, Jade, and he needs us. Thought you, of all people, would be writing fucking haikus about what good news this is. You never liked Nils."
"Doesn't mean I want to see Dave unhappy, though. He is unhappy, right?"
Hunter glares. "Of course he is."
Jade nods, shuffles his feet awkwardly for a full minute, before wandering out of the green room in search of Davey. Somewhere he can hear ascending scales, follows the sound to the dressing room where Adam is clapping out a steady rhythm whilst Davey sings through the scales. Neither acknowledge him until they're finished warming up, giving Jade plenty of time to stare at Davey without being noticed.
He wants to see him a physical wreck, though he isn't sure why. Davey's pain has always been so obvious to him, but not physically so. He has never been one to starve himself, has always kept his self-abuse to himself. But Jade has seen the scars, silver and hidden in the waistband on his underwear. Nils will have seen them, too. And Jade wishes he knew how he reacted.
When Davey reaches the end of his warmup he glances over to where Jade lurks in the doorway and nods at Adam. "Thanks, man."
Adam looks between the pair of them and skulks out of the room, unimpressed at being kicked out without so many words. Jade closes the door behind him.
"Who told you?" Davey asks, uncapping a bottle of water from the rider and taking a long drink.
Jade watches his throat work. "Hunter." Davey nods, doesn't seem particularly surprised. Jade realises then that this may have all been how Davey planned it. "You knew he'd tell me."
"And that I'd come to talk to you about it."
Davey laughs. "That's not why you're here - you're here because you want to see me crying and broken."
"I came to make sure you were okay. I know you loved Nils, and I know it'll have hurt you to have to get a message like that."
"No, you don't."
Jade raises an eyebrow.
"You don't know that I loved him, and you don't know that it hurt me."
"God, would you stop being such a god damn brat? I'm here as a friend, to comfort you," Jade says, but the words sound hollow even to himself. He wants Davey to crawl into his arms crying, he wants to hear him say how Jade is the only one who can make him happy. He wants another chance.
Davey tongues his lip ring, a nervous habit, and nods. "Right. Are you done?"
They stare one another down for a long moment and it's then that Jade knows he has lost. It's over. He lays down his arms, steps aside to unblock the doorway. He finds it hard to meet Davey's eyes as he passes, wants to reach out and grab him, kiss him hard.
"Davey," he says.
Davey steps closer, there's not much space between them now. He hesitates, hand on the doorknob. "Yeah?"
"I'm sorry," Jade says, though he isn't sure what for.
"Right," Davey says. And when he leaves he doesn't slam the door behind him.