in your FACE space coyote! (candle_beck) wrote,
in your FACE space coyote!
candle_beck

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oh, you see how much better i got



theory was, when i finished this, that it was one of the best things i've ever written. like, of all time ever. i believed it for a little while, anyway. people talk about secondhand sense of remove, the marks left behind, smudges and reflections and scars and whatnot. the undercurrent of violence, etc. these days, i find it much less effective, but i think that's just the evolution of things.



Drowning in Slow-Motion
By Candle Beck


Yeah, okay, he’s everything I want. So what?

Look, understand, this is an impossible situation. This is absolutely irreconcilable. It makes no sense, and it baffles me, and I know it’s going nowhere, but I can’t quite get myself out of it. I can’t quite make myself want to get out of it.

* * *

“Hey, Zito, you coming out with us tonight?” Mulder asks in the clubhouse.

Zito looks up, an instinctive smile on his face. “Where’s this ‘out’?” he asks.

Mulder shrugs into his shirt, buttoning it swiftly, his hands moving with unthinking skill, pushing the sleeves up. “I don’t know. Bar somewhere?” He calls over to Chavez, “Chavvy, we playing pool or pinball tonight?”

Chavez tosses back, “Oh, pool, my friend. And I am going to take you to town,” grinning before he pulls a damp cloth over his face, wiping off the eyeblack that he wears every game.

Mulder turns back to Zito, “Okay, so, a bar with a pool table. You in?”

Zito brushes his hand quickly through his hair, shaking out some of the dust that has settled there, sneezing. He replies, “Of course. If Chavez is gonna be taking your money, not like I’m gonna miss out on that.”

Mulder wings his hat sidearm at Zito, and Zito catches it, laughing.

* * *

This isn’t something I’m, you know, totally devoid of experience in. I don’t want you to think this is all brand new and I’m stumbling around without direction.

I mean, yeah, I’ve never had this happen with a teammate, true enough. But how is it so different? I used to get crushes bad, I mean like embarrassingly bad. I was definitely that guy when I was younger, the guy who fell hard and couldn’t get back. That, I know how to deal with.

And the fact that he’s a teammate, this is not such a big deal. Well. That’s a lie. Yeah, it’s a big deal, it’s a crazy big deal. But I’m still pretty sure I can get over it.

If I just give myself enough time, I’m sure I’ll be able to get over him.

* * *

The beer is good, Mexican beer, and the pool table is quick, smooth green felt, the rocking clack of balls against each other, a cone of light flung out from the lamp suspended above.

They are playing nine ball, and Zito has seven through nine, which is screwing him up, because the damn eight ball is constantly nudging itself into positions where the cue can’t get anywhere near it.

He scowls, squeaking green chalk on his stick, the eight ball like a black hole, blocked in by Mulder’s bright yellow one ball and Chavez’s pine green four ball.

Zito lines up his shot, looking for the bank, and is more surprised than anyone to see the gamble actually pay off, the eight skittering down the rail to clunk into the pocket.

“Hey!” he says happily, pleased with himself. “I’m really good.”

Mulder rolls his eyes and takes a long pull of his beer, his head thrown back, shadows catching up under his jaw and in the collar of his shirt. “Yeah, if good means lucky.”

Zito watches Mulder step back out of the light into the darkness at the outer reaches of the table, and thinks about the desert.

* * *

See, the thing is, it’s not so much that he’s a teammate. Yeah, that makes it more complicated, it screws it up. Because this sort of thing, this sort of thing is . . . frowned upon. To say the least. To say the most, it’s abhorred by many of those in our profession, which has elements of the best good and the worst evil in it.

Yeah, if something happens, I could lose the game. I know that. And what do I do after that? Baseball, it’s all I know, it’s the only thing I want to do. I loved the game before I loved anything else, and I’ve always been so astonished by the fact that I get to do the thing I love best for a living. Like, who gets that lucky? Who has a dream come true the way mine has? It’s insane.

And this is a risk. Feeling this way about him. Letting myself think this way. Letting myself, God, letting myself imagine *telling* him. Putting everything on the line, the idea that I’m even considering it shows just how truly out of my mind I am.

Fuck it, though. If I’m gonna do something wrong, I’m gonna do it right.

* * *

Zito’s in the men’s room, washing his hands, when Chavez swings in.

“Hey, man,” Chavez says, standing next to him to squint at himself in the foggy mirror.

“Hey. You preening?”

Chavez spares him a scathing look. “I do not preen, Zito. No self-respecting man preens. I am simply making sure I didn’t spill anything on my shirt when that guy knocked into me at the bar.”

Zito smirks, “Ah, the hard life of the swinging single.”

Chavez skates his hands through his dark hair and eyes himself critically before turning to Zito. “I look okay?”

Zito studies him in the webs of yellow that splinter from the cracked light fixtures, creeping across the stained walls and scrawled black graffiti. He grins, “Man, you know you’re a knockout.” Chavez punches him on the arm, but not very hard, warming a spot above Zito’s elbow. Zito lifts his eyebrows. “You got your eye on someone out there?”

Chavez slants him a complicated smile in the mirror, low and cryptic. “Maybe.” He smooths his fingers over his eyebrows and mouth, tilts his head to see a different angle, then nods. “All right, I’m set. Get back out there, Zito, Mulder’s ready to give your turn away to this UC grad student who fancies himself a hustler.”

Chavez heads back out, and Zito looks at his reflection in the mirror. There’s a smudge on the glass right under his eye, making him look like he’s been hit hard by someone.

* * *

It’s hard to explain. Hard to explain to myself, near impossible to explain to anyone else. Not that I’d ever try to explain this to anyone else. I’m not that far gone.

I didn’t expect this. To feel like this. To suddenly find myself thinking about the long sweep of his back, the stacked rows of his ribs, the shadows outlining the muscles in his stomach. I’ve played with a lot of guys, good-looking guys, incredibly fit guys, young guys with cuts of light in their eyes, guys with smiles that can devastate cities, and I’ve never found myself drawn to any of them the way I’m drawn to him. I’ve never dreamt about another guy the way I dream about him.

I’ve never woken up and hated consciousness because it chases away the perfect image of a body, the stunning curve of a smile, the ducking swiftness of hands moving over bare skin.

This is my life now, and I can’t recognize myself, because this isn’t anything I ever expected.

* * *

On the street at two in the morning, San Francisco is shrouded and quiet, the streetlights throwing down shuddering bright holes, making the night darker than it should be. There is a city sky and pavement under their shoes, the gutters clogged with loose change, everything hard, concrete and steel and the rising spire of the TransAmerica Building, puncturing the clouds like a needle. There are planes heading into SFO, silver crosses with blinking red lights, bridges like carousels, a lunatic fog settling down, something they breathe in every day, sweet and cool.

Mulder and Chavez are laughing, Chavez with his hand up on a wall, his fingers spread out. Zito is standing off on the corner, peering down the dark street looking for the familiar beam of a taxi, the peaked elongated triangles on the hood, lit up with advertisements for theatre shows and restaurants.

“No, no, Chavez, you were so not smooth, you were, like, the opposite of smooth,” Mulder says, still snickering. “Zito, what’s the opposite of smooth?”

Zito turns, grinning. “Rough, dude. But I don’t think that’s the word you’re looking for.”

Mulder laughs and comes over, slinging an arm around Zito’s shoulders. “You always know what I’m looking for,” he says, and it doesn’t make much sense, but then, not many things do at two in the morning.

There is green pool chalk on Mulder’s fingers, and it leaves prints on the shoulder of Zito’s shirt, but they only show up when he is standing in the light.

* * *

It’s more than the game, though. It’s more than that, it is. It’s that he’s become a friend to me, a friend in a way that I never really anticipated. I would actually rather if he was someone I didn’t particularly enjoy the company of, if I didn’t have anything to do with him outside this stupid trick my mind is playing on me.

I don’t want to be friends with him, I just want to sleep with him, that’s such a bad thing? If I’m friends with him *and* I want to sleep with him, then that makes it something different. That scares me.

He fucking scares me.

* * *

The hills around the Bay Area roll out, penning in the cities, soft and shaded dusky purple, like the bruised sky before a rain. The highways snake along the crooked length of the shore, the heartbroken coast, and then the offshoot roads, like veins branching from arteries, duck into the hills, leading up and up, curving through the grassfire rushes and the silent houses, the spark-flares of front porch lights left on for kids out wandering, sneaking in past curfew after a night of looking for themselves, here at the end of the world.

They’re back at the house Mulder and Chavez share, nestled in a pocket of the landscape, because it’s been decided that they could all do with another drink, and it’s easier for Zito to crash here than for Mulder and Chavez to crash at Zito’s.

They stand out back, by the pool, which winks blue at them, mesmerizing.

Zito sees Mulder sneaking up behind him, and immediately turns, saying warningly, “No way. You’ve thrown me in that pool way too many times already, dude, it’s not happening again.”

Mulder raises his hands in a pretense of innocence, his eyes big, blinking at Zito. “What do you take me for?” he asks, wounded. “Like I would push a pal like you into that pool when you’re wearing those cool new shoes.”

Zito looks down at his shoes, which are not at all new, but in fact old and scuffed almost beyond recognition, and before he can even realize that he’s been tricked, Mulder slams into him, a body blow, Mulder’s shoulder against his chest for a split second, sending him into the water with a huge splash, a shock of cold, hearing Chavez laughing before sound vanishes.

He lets himself sink until his body gets used to the chill, his clothes floating around him, and he holds onto the side to keep from surfacing, enjoying the still drifting world at the bottom of the pool. He looks up and can see Mulder, wavy and inconstant through the water, leaning over to peer after him. Zito wonders how long he’ll have to stay down here before Mulder comes to rescue him.

* * *

I’ve never been any good at this. There’s a lot of reasons why this would never work, first and foremost the fact that he has never shown himself to be anything but utterly straight.

But then, so was I. Or so I thought. This stuff, it comes out of nowhere.

But, yeah, I’ve never been able to make this work. The only thing I can do with any sort of success is play the game, and for awhile, that was enough. That was all I wanted. It didn’t particularly matter that I couldn’t make any relationship last for more than a few months, that I always found myself self-destructing, wrecking everything that I might have had.

I figure, you got one thing you can do well, that’s all you need. My one thing was baseball. Other than that . . .

I never do what’s right for me, but I always hope that whatever I’m doing is good enough.

* * *

The sky out the living room window is the black color that’s an urban substitute for true black, because the city is too close, the haze of light edging at the corners, burnt orange and uncertain red.

Zito is lying on the couch, in a pair of Mulder’s sweats and an old T-shirt, because he certainly couldn’t sleep in his soaked clothes, which are dripping in the bathroom, his deluged shoes in the sink. He can’t sleep so he watches the sky, his head tilted back, the world upside down.

There are the silver dashes of stars, but they’re sly and can’t decide whether or not to shine steady or fade, and he wonders if universes are exploding out there, somewhere way past time and the possible reaches of space.

The night sky has always made him philosophical, as has insomnia, which haunts him sometimes, keeps him up through the creeping small hours, the slow hateful rise of the sun. When he can’t sleep, he never wants the sun to rise, because morning breaks his heart a little bit, like he’s lost something, but doesn’t know what it is.

He holds up his hand to see it in the halfway light, and the shadows draft across his palm, hiding in the bends of his fingers. He moves his hand through his different pitch grips, change-up, fastball, curve. He can almost feel the seams under his fingertips.

Sounds skitter out down the hallway, from the kitchen and the bedrooms where his friends are sleeping. He can hear Mulder muttering in his sleep, a familiar sound from the hotel rooms they’ve shared on the road. He never has any trouble sleeping when he is sharing a room with someone, when he can hear the steady rise and fall of their breath, the night-talk, incoherent and soothing. Mulder has always talked in his sleep, but Zito has never been able to understand anything that he says.

* * *

Look, I get that this doesn’t make much sense. Don’t think that that’s escaped me. I am perfectly aware of how disjointed and out of order this is. But that’s how it is, okay. It’s disjointed. It’s out of order. It doesn’t make any sense. Those are the key characteristics of this, this apocalyptic thing that’s happening to me.

I’ve never had much of a problem with the insane before. I’ve been called crazy enough times myself to not really be able to have an objection when the insanity hits me where I live. I’ve embraced the absurd, I’ve never wasted my time looking for explanations of things that have none.

I believe in abstract things like luck and karma, and I can’t define them, not even to myself, but that’s never bothered me too much. I put myself in the hands of mysterious forces, every day, and I let them take me where they may. I don’t fight it.

I’ve fought this, though. I’ve fought him. I don’t want to feel this way, okay. It’s really, you know, it’s really more trouble than I want, at this particular time in my life. Things were going good. Now all of a sudden everything’s been thrown on end, I can’t find my way anymore, and it’s all his fault. Suddenly he’s all I care about, he’s the person I want to be with at every moment of every day, and even when I am with him, I’m still waiting for something, I still don’t have what I want.

This doesn’t make sense. I don’t think it ever will.

* * *

Zito blinks awake and is still for a moment, wondering what stirred him. Then he hears the muffled rubber sound of the refrigerator door closing, an angular shard of scouring white light from the kitchen vanishing from the wall, and he hears the soft pad of bare feet over tile.

Chavez emerges, a glass of milk in his hand, and somehow sees Zito’s wide eyes through the darkness, crossing to stand over him.

“Hey,” Chavez whispers. Zito echoes it, wondering if he’s dreaming, and Chavez says in a tripping murmur, “Sorry if I woke you. I was trying to be stealthy.”

Chavez is standing in a square of moonlight, thin as a knife-blade in his boxers and T-shirt, his hair sticking up in corkscrews and ink-black shreds. Zito whispers back, “S’okay. Couldn’t really sleep anyway.”

Chavez takes a drink, a smear of white on his upper lip for a second before he licks it away. He scratches at his stomach, slipping his hand under the shirt. Zito can see a revealed triangle of pale skin, the line of his hip trailing sweetly downward. “You want some milk?” Chavez asks, and the light is such that the glass in his hand is purely invisible, making it look like he’s holding a cylinder of ivory liquid in his palm.

Zito shakes his head, yawning. “Nah, I brushed my teeth already.”

Chavez cocks an eyebrow and stands there for a moment longer, his eyes fine and dark in the shadows. “Okay,” he says so quietly Zito can almost hear the tangles of moonlight sneaking through his hair and the wrinkles of his clothes. “Get some sleep.”

Zito nods and Chavez turns away, and Zito listens for the slow click of Chavez’s bedroom door shutting, then he settles back, wondering if he listens close enough, he’ll be able to hear the deepening rhythm of Chavez’s breath sinking into sleep through all the walls and space between them.

* * *

I think this, you know, I think this isn’t going to end well. How could it?

I’m falling apart. That’s the only thing I know for sure. I used to have a pretty good grip on things, I used to know where I stood. Now I’m out of control, all I can do is think about him and dream about him and watch desperately as everything I once cared about loses its value, and I’m left with this ceaseless ache, this flood of desire.

I’ve started coming into the ballpark to see him. Not to play the game, not to do my best by the team, but just because I know that’s where he is. And if he were somewhere else, then that’s where I’d be too.

Sometimes my hands shake and I can’t stop them. I know what my hands want, I know where they’ll find the peace they demand. I can’t let my hands go where they want to go. I can’t do that.

* * *

He’s dreaming of California.

It’s as if he’s far away, half a world away, as far as he can get, and he’s spinning around, he’s trying to find some way to get back home, and when the woman at the desk in the stark office building asks him where he’s trying to go, he says, “California.” She sighs and shakes her head, and tells him that there’s been an earthquake, the country has shook California loose, the mountains and the hills and the desert have sunk to the bottom of the ocean, there’s nothing there now. He puts a baseball down on the desk, clean white, a pearl, and he tells her to take him to the ocean then, that’ll be his home. The woman takes the baseball and smiles, and suddenly she’s turned into Mulder, shaking his arm, saying his name.

Zito starts awake. He blinks, his vision fuzzy, and when it clears Mulder is looming over him, impossibly tall.

Mulder grins, “Rise and shine.”

Zito winces as the sunlight stabs into his eyes. “Fuck, what time is it?” he asks, holding up his hand to block out the wicked rays.

Mulder answers, “Noon,” glancing over his shoulder through the doorway of the kitchen, like he’s left something on the stove and should really get back to it. Mulder is wearing faded jeans worn as soft as cotton, and a T-shirt from which the lines of his arms sweep, tanned and strong.

Zito sits up slowly, resting his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. He smells chlorine on his fingers and angles a look up at Mulder. “You pushed me in the pool again last night, didn’t you?”

Mulder is flooded with light from the window, he is standing in a patch of sunlight and his hair is still wet from the shower, sleek and dark gold. He smiles, saying, “Wouldn’t really be a party if I didn’t push you in the pool, would it?”

He doesn’t offer a hand to help Zito stand, so Zito sits there for a few minutes longer, his back stiff from sleeping on the couch, his head beating with pain, and Mulder’s shadow doesn’t move, and Zito is thinking about satellites and airplanes.

* * *

It’s stupid. Juvenile, immature, pick your adjective. Thinking about throwing away everything, just to see what he would do if I lifted a hand to his face or closed my fist in his shirt and dragged him to me. Thinking about ruining both our lives just because I want to know what his mouth tastes like, what kind of sounds he’d make, what his skin would feel like under my hands.

Stupid.

It’s a long shot, too, it’s the longest of all shots. Because he’s never looked at me twice, not like that, he’s always been in search of someone with long legs and small hands and no knowledge of the infield fly rule. He’s never given me the slightest cause to believe that he might accept me, that he might smile and flatten me against a wall, that he might want to have anything to do with me in the devastating moments of sweat and twisted blankets and blistering heat. He’s never given me any indication that he wants me, not like I want him.

I don’t think anybody’s ever wanted another person the way that I want him.

It’s a gamble, and gambles don’t pay off. The house always wins, in the end. You might have a good run, but don’t push your luck, because you’ll come up dry in the end, you’ll lose everything you’ve gained.

Am I gonna risk the game, our friendship, my reputation, my life, for him? Would I really do that? What could I possibly hope to achieve from that? Nothing is worth that. Even say, okay, even say that he doesn’t shun me or hit me or anything, say that he does want me back, say that he responds with passion and fire and laughter, say that he grins and asks me what took me so long, say all that happens, what then?

What could ever come from it that would be worth all that we would lose?

* * *

They are sitting at the small linoleum table in Mulder’s kitchen, purchased for the stunningly discounted price of five dollars at a yard sale, eating cereal dry because Chavez had finished the milk, drinking coffee after Zito had unilaterally opposed Mulder’s favorite hangover remedy, which involved tomato juice, apple juice, raw eggs, and a blender.

“Where’s Chavez?” Zito asks, bringing Mulder’s eyes up from the newspaper he is reading.

He shrugs. “Hell if I know. He’s always going off.” He flicks his gaze down to the paper, his fingertips smeared with newsprint, and Zito thinks that he should warn Mulder not to touch his face until he washes his hands, else he ends up with mug-shot fingerprints on his cheeks and chin.

Zito nods and takes a bite of his cornflakes, his head pulsing with a dull, steady pain. “What are you doing today?” he asks.

Mulder hands him the sports section and replies, “I gotta get my glove fixed. It’s been popping its laces again.”

Mulder’s glove, an enduring gladiator from his days in the minor leagues, is on its last legs, something everyone except Mulder fully recognizes. Mulder is stubbornly blind to the broken leather ties, weaving shoelaces through the eyelets, binding the fingers together again, insisting that his glove is fine, just fine. The coaches give him a hard time, because what if a lace pops during a game, during a play?

Zito scans his eyes over the newspaper, the results of the previous day’s games that he has not yet seen. They’re three and a half games out of first, a half game out of the wild card chase, but he prefers not to think in terms like that. It feels like bad luck, calculating where they are in the standings, like if they were three and a half games *up*, they would be able to relax. He knows that you can never relax.

Mulder doesn’t ask about what Zito’s going to do that day, because Mulder doesn’t care about stuff like that.

* * *

I just, I can’t see a way out of it.

I keep hoping that it’ll go away, that I’ll wake up one day and find that he’s lost his fascination for me, that I don’t want him anymore. And it never happens. Every day’s the same, this endless cycle.

I want to be good. I want to be a good ballplayer, a good friend, a good son, a good brother. This is all I’ve ever wanted.



There’s no goodness in this, there’s no innocence. I want him fast and hard and dirty, I want to hurt him and I want him to hurt me, I want a world that doesn’t care about consequences or morality. I don’t want to care about anybody, I don’t want to care about what will become of me.

What will become of me?

* * *

Mulder drives him back to his place, over the Bay Bridge into San Francisco.

Zito is tired and rests his head against the window, watching the slides of the view that come from between the struts of the bridge. The bay is rough and gray, clapping against itself, patterned with neon-bright windsurfers and the handkerchief-white points of sailboats, way out near Sausalito. When you drive from Oakland to San Francisco, you drive on top, and you’re so high, it’s terrifying, it’s like you’re flying.

Along the Embarcadero, there are the docks, the scarred wood planks and the swollen barrels, the dense black smell of rubber and the sick fiery scent of diesel, and then Pier 39 with all its colors and its bustling crowds of tourists, packs of Japanese people, thirty or more, all of them wearing the same searing yellow caps, ill-fitted. Coit Tower hovers above the city like a guardian angel, and Alcatraz crags out of the water, looking like a mistake, a strange rocky interruption with a lighthouse beaming a whisking finger across the water and the buildings.

Mulder says, “What’s the name of that record store on the Haight?”

Zito starts, unsettled. He rubs his eyes with the back of his hand, and replies, “There’s like fifty record stores on the Haight.”

Mulder flips his hand through the air, like he can pluck the name out of the oxygen. “You know, down by the park. The really big one with all the used CDs and tapes. Near the New York pizza place.”

“Amoeba,” Zito answers, thinking of the warehouse racks of plastic cases, the muffled slap of cellophane-wrapped 45s rustling against each other.

“Yeah, that’s it,” Mulder nods. Mulder’s short hair catches light in different ways, parts as soft and pale as chaff, others polished brown, hiding behind his ears. He steers with the palm of his hand, easy, his eyes flickering as he considers the cars and roads before him, the brief windows of space that open and close, calculating distance and speed unconsciously.

“What about it?”

Mulder shrugs. “Nothing. Just couldn’t think of the name.”

“Oh,” Zito says, even though he doesn’t really need to say anything.

* * *

All right, I know I’ve got issues. I know that. Sexual confusion aside (and it’s a big fucking aside), I know I’m lost, I get that.

I’m wandering through this, and I’m considering ruining everything I’ve ever worked for, and he’s not like my soulmate, this isn’t destiny. This is just me thinking with my cock instead of my brain, and I really thought I was past that shit. Thought I got past it in high school, and now look what’s happened.

I don’t know what it says about me that I can know, on every level, what an idiotic, holocaustic idea this is, and yet I can’t get it out of my head.

I *know* no good can come of this, I know that. But I can’t shake it.

What does that say about me?

It’s like I’m slowly committing suicide or something, I know this is bad for me, I know it’s only going to get worse, and I can’t pull myself out of the tailspin, I can’t reach out a hand and grab onto something.

Every time I drive across the bridge, I look over the edge, thinking of the drop.

* * *

Mulder pulls up in front of Zito’s place, and they sit there for a moment, awkward. The car hums around them, warm and smelling like Mulder, the good smell of baseball dirt and sweat and the aftershave he sometimes wears.

“Well, thanks,” Zito says, as if this is the end of a date.

Mulder nods, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel, tilting his head down to peer at Zito’s building. “I think I should move here,” he says.

Zito raises his eyebrows. “Like, *here* here? To my building?” He thinks about Mulder living down the hall from him, in the recently vacated corner apartment with the miniature scrolls nailed to the doorframe, a Judaic tradition of protection that he has never fully understood. He thinks about knocking on Mulder’s door at three in the morning, when he can’t sleep, knowing the other man will still be awake, burning through the midnight hours together.

Mulder shakes his head. “No, San Francisco. I think this would be a good place to live. Yeah?”

Zito shrugs, scratches his head. “Yeah. It’s great. You got a good place, though. What, did Chavez steal a girl you were scamming on or something? You pissed off at him?”

Mulder tips a half-smile. “Nah. Chavez is cool. I don’t, it’s just, seems like it’s time for a change. Things are kinda, I don’t know, strange right now. Maybe they need to get shook up. I need, like, a new place to see the world from. You know?”

Zito looks at him. “Sure.” He wonders how things are strange for Mulder, because Mulder has always seemed like the kind of guy who will float through life effortlessly, nothing perturbing him. He wonders if they all need a new place to see the world from, and he thinks about the ocean.

Mulder catches his eyes, seeing the curious confusion there, and waves his hand a bit, dismissively. “Ah, whatever. It’s just a weird thing of mine, I don’t know. I’ll probably forget about it by tonight.”

“Yeah,” Zito replies, and there’s a moment of silence before Zito sighs and puts his hand on the door handle. “I’ll see you later, okay, man?”

Mulder is staring at the street, not looking at him. His profile is smooth and Zito wishes he could see his eyes. “Yeah, see you later.”

Zito steps out and closes the door, standing on the sidewalk for awhile watching Mulder edge his way back into traffic, then moving swiftly through, ducking through the cars, and Zito watches until he can’t see Mulder’s car anymore, and then he keeps watching.

* * *

So, the consensus is that I’m fucked up. Fucked up and helpless.

I’m not going to tell him. I’m not going to do anything. I think I’ve given up on this ever going away, so I’ll just have to live with it.

I’m not going to tell him.

This began with me, and that’s how it’s going to end. If it ever ends.

I’m gonna keep my eyes off him, keep my hands off him. I can’t do anything about my mind, can’t do anything about the dreams, but I can pretend. I’ve gotten really good at that. There’s no good to be found here, and I’ve accepted that. I’ve come to terms with it, as much as I can.

I don’t . . . I don’t think I’ll get through this. I can’t imagine not feeling like this, and I can’t bear the idea of feeling like this forever.

What else is there to do, though?

I guess I’ve chosen self-destruction after all, because I’m not going to survive this. I know that.

It’s dying by inches, it’s drowning in slow-motion, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

There’s just nothing.

THE END

Tags: mlb fic, zito/player to be named later
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