Work Header

i can’t ignore it endlessly, eventually things die

Work Text:

     Joe sits curled up on the couch. In one hand is a controller; he's doing a bit of fishing in his Stardew Valley world. Even if he doesn't make videos anymore, gaming's still relaxing for him — it always has been, ever since he was a kid. His other hand is stroking the head of his pet cat, Ori. She stretches out beneath him and purrs, content.

     His wife-to-be, Bethany, is in an armchair next to him, scrolling through her phone, occasionally puncturing their mutual silence with a laugh or a "Won't you look at this?" He does, dutifully, and sometimes the posts she shows him are actually funny. Mostly, they're recipes from one of the vegan cooking accounts she follows on Facebook or quotes from a self-help page.

     It's a perfect day. Well, almost. He doesn't think anything can truly be perfect. Beth showed him a quote about it once: "Now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good." So he supposes that today is good, not perfect, and that that's perfectly (goodly?) okay.

     He doesn't know how long he sits there with her — maybe an hour, maybe only twenty minutes. He knows that he's caught twelve fish and gone to sleep four times in-game (and maybe gotten a little drowsy in real life, too) in the time that he's been there, but he can't really put a number on it.

     Beth laughs, again, suddenly, and holds her phone out to him. "Isn't that just so cute?" she asks. "Your old friend — Squid, I think? — he's engaged."

     He blinks once, twice, unsure as to how to react to the news. Somehow, even after everything, he never really thought that Squid would ever "move on" like he had. Maybe it wasn't really moving on if he still felt like this, but it was usually close enough.

     Beth looks at him quizzically, and he flashes her a smile. It's not that big of a deal, really. It's just another stab in the gut, another thing to bury somewhere deep inside of him and never talk about again, not even at the therapist appointments she keeps signing him up for. He knows what the lady there would tell him to do, and he's not willing to torch his entire life just because of the way he feels.

     "So cute," he says. He smiles again and turns his attention back toward the TV. It's late in-game, past midnight, and this is probably the last fish he'll be able to catch before rushing back to bed. He gets a bite on the line and begins mashing the X button on his controller. He's done it enough that it's easy for him, and the mini-game is over quickly.

    He catches a Squid, gold-star quality. His stomach drops again, and he almost smiles at the irony. He walks his character back into his house and goes to sleep, ending the day. After his progress saves, he exits the game, turns off the TV and sets his controller down on the coffee table in front of him.

     "Done for the day?" Beth asks him.

     "I just have a bit of a headache," he says. "I might go have a lie down for a bit."

     "Oh," she says, a hint of a frown settling over her thin lips. "Okay."

     He grabs Ori and gently sets her down on the floor, then stands up. He walks up the stairs to his bedroom and flops down on his bed. He drags one of the crocheted blankets over his head and lets out a shaky sigh.

     God, somehow he'd never really thought that David would ever really get engaged. It's not that the thought hadn't crossed his mind — because it had, of course, when he was lying in bed at night, unable to sleep and mulling over his life choices — but more so that he'd never really dwelled on it. He'd always assumed that he would quietly go on with his life, and that if he'd ever gotten married or something that he'd only find out long after the fact. He supposes that he's silly for thinking he could ever avoid finding out in the age of social media.

     He rubs his eyes. He has no reason to be so upset. He was the one who got engaged first, anyway, and he was the one who broke it off in the first place, and he'd seen how it affected David. This is what he deserves. He should be upset. God knows he’s made people feel even worse.

     The little weasel in his brain keeps saying that it's not like people don't break up and break off engagements — but Squid and Nicole wouldn't, because she makes him happy, so much happier than he ever did, and it's so obvious that everyone can see it. David is happy now, and he isn't, and it’s all absolutely his just deserts.

     His fingers close around his phone in his pocket. He pulls it out, unlocks it, and taps on Twitter. It doesn't take him long to find the tweet about it, and he pauses to look at it for a moment. David and Nicole are together, clad in puffer jackets, kissing on some scenic mountaintop. It's everything it should be, and it's probably actually perfect, not just good, and he's totally jealous. He scrolls through the replies — James, DanTDM, Ali-A...hell, even his own fiancée liked it. He knows that he should say something in response, even give it some small acknowledgment, but for some reason he just can't bring himself to do it.

     It doesn't really matter. They haven't talked in months, anyway, and he probably won't even get invited to the wedding. And it's not like Squid said anything to him when he got engaged, either...

     Joe supposes that everything dies, eventually. Their's just another thing. He wonders, a smile playing on his lips, if they could have a funeral for it.

     Two weddings would probably do the job.