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Rules for Interaction

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You can’t tell him. He’s getting married in less than three hours. Nick hangs his head, covering his face with his hands. For the first time since he first found out his best friend was getting married to someone else, Nick let himself cry. It’s the first moment he has really gotten to himself. Juliette is with Rosalee doing last minute wedding things and Monroe is waiting at the chapel, tending to the guests. Nick hasn’t said anything, to anyone, but all this wedding stuff is getting to him. There was a time he wanted to marry Juliette, but that time has come and gone. Even though the ring still sits in his dresser drawer, he no longer has any desire to take it out or give it to her. He’s known for a while that his feelings have changed, in so many ways.

He pulls out the worn, folded piece of paper and reads over it. After grabbing a pen, he crosses off the last few items on the list. It’s over. Nick has never felt more alone in his life. He folds the paper back up and slips it in his pocket. I can’t do this. Not anymore. He didn’t bother buttoning his vest or jacket, or tucking in his shirt. He just grabs his tie and heads out the door.

Nick is only two blocks from the chapel when he stops. His body just refuses to keep moving; he knows he can’t get any closer. He’s already too close; has been for far too long. He pulls out the piece of paper from in his pocket, reads it once more, and then crumples it up and lets it slip from his hand. The chapel is directly ahead of him, but he turns and heads across the street. There’s a bench down the path, one he visits any time he needs to think. He’d been there once with Monroe, over a year ago. The memory makes him chuckle: taking his blutbad best friend to an off-the-leash dog park.

What Nick didn’t see before he entered the park, was a woman standing outside the chapel watching him as she smoked a cigarette. She watched the tattered piece of paper fall from his hand, and once he crossed the street, she walked to where he had been standing and picked up the paper. He had looked so devastated, near the end of his rope, and she couldn’t help but wonder if maybe the paper said why. She thought it might be a note; that’s what people do, she thinks.

After she grabs the paper, she walks back towards the chapel. She reads it as she walks inside, tears welling up in her eyes.

“Alex, are you alright?”

She looks up and her cousin reaches out and lays his hands on her shoulders.

“Yeah, Monroe, I’m fine.”

“What’re you reading?”

“Just, uh…I was standing out front. I saw this guy…he was kind of…ya know…nice to look at. But he seemed sad. He read this paper, then dropped it and went across the street and into the park. I had to know what it said. And, uh, wow…”

Monroe furrows his brows. “Let me see.” He takes the paper that’s handed to him and after a few lines, he knows. “What, um…what did he look like?”

“Not too tall, maybe my height. Dark hair. Light colored eyes; maybe blue. He was in a suit, tie was undone, just hanging around his neck, shirt was untucked. Why?”

All of a sudden, it’s as if Monroe has been punched in the chest. He can’t breathe, can’t speak. He just turns and runs for the door. He looks around before he dares to look back at the paper. The handwriting is all too familiar.

Rules for Interaction

1. Personal space: he is not comfortable when you put your hands all over him (but he’s too nice to say anything)

2. Do not insult his clocks

3. …or his beer

4. …or his overly-fancy, meatless meals

5. When he talks [read: rambles] about things you don’t understand, just nod (this also applies to when he’s drunk and speaking German)

6. Don’t watch him do pilates

7. …or yoga

8. …especially that hot yoga stuff

9. Don’t ask about his past

10. …or his family

11. Don’t knock on his door before 7

12. Don’t touch him

13. Don’t wear red

14. Don’t go over right after eating a cheese burger

15. Keep him safe

16. …by any means necessary

17. Don’t call him late at night

18. …especially when she’s there

19. Don’t tell him

20. Don’t tell him

21. Do not tell him

The tears are flowing down Monroe’s cheeks; he doesn’t even try to stop them. Each line feels like a stab to his heart. It’s the last few – ones that are crossed out but still legible – that break his heart.

22. Tell him you appreciate him

23. Tell him you love him

24. When they ask if anyone objects, do something

Monroe practically whimpers as he presses the paper to his chest. Why didn’t you just tell me? He looks across the street at the park. The corners of his lips perk up, just barely, into a sad smile. He knows exactly where to go.

He runs across the street and into the park. His sets a quick pace as he walks down the path, hoping and praying that Nick’s on that bench, because where else would he go? And when Monroe considers where else Nick might be, he starts to run. No. No, you little shit head. This is not a note and you’re not going to do it. So help me god, I will kill you. As the bench becomes visible, Monroe practically yells out at the man sitting on the bench, hoping that it’s Nick. And as he gets closer, that undeniable scent – cinnamon, coffee, and gunpowder – hits his nose.

“Nick,” he yells out so loudly his voice strains.

The man looks up; it’s Nick. His eyes are puffy and red, no doubt from crying. When he sees Monroe coming, he stands up, legs shaking. Then he sees it – the paper in Monroe’s hand. Oh god, he thinks.

“Thank god,” Monroe sighs, his voice is barely audible. He throws his arms around Nick and holds him as tightly as he possibly can. He fists one hand in the back of Nick’s suit jacket and the other in his hair. He doesn’t let himself breathe until he feels Nick’s arms come up to wrap around his waist, then he breathes a sigh of relief. “Nick…”

It takes a while, but they finally let go of each other. Then Monroe’s eyes turn red and he growls. “I swear to god, if you ever fucking scare me like that again, I’ll kill you my fucking self. You got it?”

Nick just slowly nods, taken back.

“Because…because I care. Okay? I care about you and I…fuck…” He sighs. He pauses, knowing that if says what he wants to, what he truly feels, that everything will change, that he’s going to break a woman’s heart and disappoint a chapel full of people. He rubs his hands over his face before letting them fall to his sides. He looks down at Nick and he knows. He just knows. “I love you…” He pauses again. “And I should have told you a long time ago.”