Zack grips his metrocard tighter as he steps off the escalator, feeling the edges dig into his hand. Ryan's words still echo in his head, mocking him. You think Justin really likes you? How embarrassing.
No, he thinks, What's embarrassing is that you left him with barely a word and he's still willing to drop everything the minute you come back. He thought they had something special, but clearly he'll always be runner up in Justin's eyes.
He can't believe he was so stupid.
He's aware that what he's doing right now could be considered running away, but he can't be bothered to care. He's exhausted, physically and mentally, and all he wants is to hole up somewhere far away and lick his wounds, and not think about Justin being all buddy-buddy with Ryan.
He wonders if Justin has listened to his voicemail yet, if he even cares that Zack is leaving. Part of him thought about just going, disappearing without a word, but in the end he couldn't do it. He left a message on Justin's phone, saying that he was leaving the city for a while to stay with his mom, then turned his phone off, afraid that Justin would try to convince him to stay.
Afraid that he wouldn't.
The train is already pulling into the station as he reaches the platform, and he heads for the doors without looking back. He's just about to step onboard when he hears a shout.
He knows that voice. Heart pounding, he turns to see Justin standing at the other end of the platform. He looks like he's been running, breath coming in huge heaves as he makes his way through the crowd towards Zack.
"Don't go," he says. "I need... I need to tell you something."
Zack stares at him, barely daring to hope. "What?"
Justin takes a breath. "Ryan asked me to go to Europe with him."
Zack feels like he's been punched in the stomach. "I'm happy for you," he says bitterly, then turns away, adjusting his backpack on his shoulders. "I have to go."
Justin grabs his arm. "I didn't say yes!" he blurts out. "I realised I'd rather be here, with you." His hand slips down, until his fingers wrap around Zack's.
"I need you," he says softly. "Please don't go."
Zack swallows, then nods. "Okay," he replies shakily. "Okay."
Beside them, the train doors slide shut, but Zack barely notices. Justin smiles, lacing their fingers together, and together they leave the platform.