Chance Perez walked down the sidewalk of Springfield, alone. Usually he hung out with another person, but he needed a walk to clear his mind. His band, In Real Life, released new music, and he couldn't be more proud.
They came so far, and their Lifelines were very supportive. It was all so surreal, even to this day. Mainly the reason why they visited Illinois was not only because part of their fanbase was located there, but Chance was especially eager to meet a certain someone.
He paused in front of a coffee shop, making sure it was the right place before stepping inside. Dark oak tables were spread out in a neat formation, fitting for four people each. A bookshelf and sofa were settled in one corner—a women reading a newspaper nearby. As for the noise, there were quiet conversations; but not many people.
Chance understood why Devin liked the place. It was the serenity of it—the friendly atmosphere.
He adjusted the grey beanie on his head, smiling as he saw the familiar blond sitting at one of the tables in the far-side of the room. The person's back was turned, unexpected of what would happen next. Taking the opportunity, Chance practically ran over, a bounce in his step.
"Hey!" he said, grabbing his friend's shoulders.
"Holy, f—whoa. What's up, man?" Devin Hayes slowly relaxed, after realizing it was Chance.
"Everything's good," Chance smiled, as they exchanged a hug. They haven't been able to visit each other for quite a while. With touring and studio work, it was hard to meet face-to-face.
"I can't believe you're here." Devin looked at Chance. "Wow. You're cute."
"Stoopp," Chance replied, adding playfully, "You're so yummy."
"I like your outfit."
"We should match one day." Chance sat down beside Devin. "Coffee good?"
Chance took a sip from the mug, grimacing afterward. "It's cold."
"I was just sitting here all morning, wondering when you'll get here." Devin's eyes sparkled, looking brighter than usual.
"Aw, love you." Their flirting was a normal thing—it was purely a strong bromance. Like, Chance would admit that Devin was good-looking (so aesthetic, as people would say) but... that was a fact. Besides, even if Chance liked guys anyway, Devin wouldn't be a dating option. It was like an unexplained bro code—don't fall in love with your straight bro.
Chance sometimes wanted to see if Devin had any interest back, but he just waited. Unrequited love was hard to accept, especially when you really liked, even loved that person.
"My girlfriend's going to come join us. That okay?" Devin asked, picking up his phone.
"Yeah. That's cool." The growing tightness in his chest made him want to hide somewhere and recollect his composure. But not while Devin was right there, casual and expecting everything to be unchanging.
Honestly, Chance didn't even know when his feelings developed. Was it because of the fact that they just clicked over the show Boy Band? Despite what people thought, their friendship was never a lie. They couldn't fake the long nights of talking, their duets and pranks towards each other. The tears that came when Devin was announced to be eliminated... And even though Devin could have went, packed up his bags and never talk to Chance, he stayed. He showed love and support, sticking with him throughout the journey.
The way love worked was complicated, but if Chance had to do anything first, it would be protecting their friendship. If he ever ruined it... he would never forgive himself. Especially over some stupid crush that gave false hope and fluttery feelings that could be turned into sappy poetry.
Maybe, part of the reason that Chance loved Devin, was because he hasn't been so happy in a long time. At least with another friend, not worrying and feeling like when he was younger. Before the show, he was training to become an EMT and taking care of Brooklyn, facing the fact that he would be an adult. Taking on responsibility, working full-time, and making it home to spend time with his daughter. He initially didn't want to be on the show, anyway, but giving it a shot.
Chance smiled to himself, remembering the flower Devin gave him. He still kept all of the photos of them, not daring to delete the happy memories that rested in each one.
The door to the shop opened, and Devin glanced up, grin stretching across his face.
Chance forced a smile, ignoring a flare of despair. Devin was happy, which was all that mattered. And so, he visibly relaxed, and waited.
One day... it wouldn’t hurt this much.