Sebastian stepped reluctantly down the dark street, hearing the sounds of happy children shrieking yards away as they rang doorbells and demanded candy. He would have driven to the store, but the roads were black and reflective from the cold rain that had been misting that evening and with all the kids milling around for Halloween, he was certain he’d end up running one of the idiots over. Totally by accident, no matter how annoying they were with their costumes and laughing and damn near happy ass lives.
He might be depressed. Not that he didn’t have good reason—He wasn’t one of those emo types that just hated life. Much.
Scowling, Sebastian kicked a wet maple leaf off of his sneaker, feeling the trickle of water get in through the hole in the sole. Perfect. Really perfect. His parents had sent him out to get more candy for the trick-or-treaters, but at this point, he was pretty sure they just wanted to get him out of the house so they wouldn’t have to watch him mope.
Gay. Claire Stevenson thought he was gay.
She hadn’t even been mean about it. She wasn’t the first person to call him gay but most people had done it while making fun of his sappy heart when it came to animals or the fact that he was short and thin and apparently that automatically made him girly. Whatever. He probably could have dismissed it if she had been bitchy and trying to make him feel like shit about himself. Not that the end result was much different. Because the girl he’d been dating for the last three months had just dumped him because she thought he was gay.
God, he hated his life.
You’re just, well, not that into me, Sebastian. It’s like you’re a best friend, not a boyfriend. I can’t make you want me the way I want you, and that’s really, well, terrible feeling to be with someone that doesn’t want me back.
No, she hadn’t been mean at all, but Claire had still managed to destroy him with one damn conversation. He had liked Claire forever. Sebastian couldn’t remember a time when he hadn’t had a crush on her. Sure, he wasn’t the most romantic of guys—He’d never say he got butterflies or anything, but that didn’t mean he was gay. Sebastian was just really low key. Boring, if he was feeling down about it. Yeah, he was kind of boring—But not gay. He just didn’t get overly excited about stuff even if he had been crushing on Claire for ages now.
When I kiss you, it’s like, I dunno, wow for me. Really crazy and intense feeling. But you… I don’t think you feel much of anything at all.
God damn it, how could you even measure something like that? How could she just know she felt more than he did? It wasn’t like he was trying to compare or reach some goal of epic makeout sessions. He’d been dreaming about Claire forever, and the moment he finally had a shot at her, he had wanted to take things slow. You know, build a foundation between them. Prove that they could be a long term thing. All of his previous girlfriends had been more like a week to week trial with a whole lot of empty space in between, but with Claire, Sebastian had wanted things to be different.
Well, in a way, they had been, hadn’t they? Instead of being dumped for being too weird or distant, Claire had decided he really just wanted dick. Right after they had been kissing, at that.
He didn’t think he was a bad kisser. He got self-conscious a lot, especially if anyone could be around and see him, but when he did kiss, he thought he was kissing with all his heart. How could she think he didn’t feel just as much for her as she did him? Who even got to say how much you were supposed to feel for someone for it to be officially enough? Hadn’t he like, talked to her every day on the phone and tried to see her every moment he could? Hadn’t he gone out of his way to keep his schedule open around his job and college and her classes to take her out whenever she wanted? How could he do so much and have her think he didn’t feel anything for her? What the fuck else was he supposed to feel?
Fuck, was he supposed to feel something else?
Sebastian growled, his left foot landing hard in an unseen puddle and sloshing up his jean leg, the material immediately soaked. “Fucker.” He hopped, but the damage had been done, his sneaker now squishing with every new step he took, the wet shoe slipping on soggy leaves and concrete alike.
It was an extremely irritating internal monolog, one that didn’t seem to have any answers forthcoming. Sebastian didn’t know if he was feeling enough—He didn’t even know what the fuck he was supposed to feel. He had trusted his feelings this far. Finally, with a girl Sebastian had thought to one day want to marry, she had told him he wasn’t feeling anything at all. And the truth of it was, Sebastian wasn’t fully confident he was feeling everything he was supposed to.
Movies would have him believe he needed to make grand romantic gestures and last-second dashes to airports to show how much he cared. Real life wasn’t like that. At least, his real life wasn’t like that. He wasn’t the type to go rent out an ice skating rink for a romantic date or send twelve dozen roses for the week of Valentine’s Day. He didn’t feel the need to write a book of poetry for how Claire looked in the morning light. He wasn’t the type to want to slice his wrists just because the girl he’d been crushing on had dumped him. For real, who the fuck did that? That wasn’t love; that was just a total chemical imbalance of insanity…
Running a hand through his damp, black bangs, Sebastian sighed weakly as the line of convenience stores came into view. The small strip mall was lit up in neon oranges, purples, and reds for the holiday, calling customers in from the clammy, wet night with the promise of shelter and heat. He quickened his pace, ignoring the slosh of his sneaker with each frozen step.
God, was he like an unfeeling, dead-hearted idiot and just didn’t know it? Should he be, like, thinking about jumping off a bridge or something because Claire was never going to be with him? Hadn’t he been planning a life with this girl? She was funny, smart, cute, and just all around perfect. Sebastian had friends that acted like if they were dumped, their life was ending. Was he seriously wondering if he was supposed to feel love an entirely different way?
And just who the fuck decided what you were supposed to feel anyways!
He really didn’t know, and the lack of answers was beyond frustrating. Because if he didn’t know, how the hell could he change it? Did he want to change it? Did he need to conform to some level of ‘feeling’ or be forced to accept that he was doomed to be alone for the rest of his life?
Would being alone be better when he wouldn’t be judging himself on how much he was failing to feel for someone he supposedly loved or damn near loved?
Being dumped by Claire didn’t have Sebastian wanting to kill himself, but trying to figure this particular problem out was definitely getting him thinking about a sturdy plastic bag with no air holes.
Jesus, fucking girls. Dictating how he was supposed to feel while in the same breath telling him he wasn’t doing it right. He had felt just as much for Claire as he was meant to feel, or was at least capable of feeling. It might not have been enough for her, but it had been to the best of his damn ability at the time. He sure as fuck hadn’t felt that much for a guy before. Just because he hadn’t lost it over Claire didn’t mean he was gay.
He left the warm lights of the convenience store behind him with two bags of candy and an impulsive—but decidedly needed—six-pack in hand. Sebastian’s mood only grew worse when he found the mist that had surrounded him on the walk to the store had turned into a light drizzle that was quickly threatening to grow into a miserable downpour. He hunched forward in his hoodie, the sweatshirt material doing little to protect him from the freezing water and chill wind of approaching winter.
He was full of dread at the idea of going home and having to face his parents’ well-meaning yet completely unhelpful comments as to why things hadn’t worked out with Claire. They kept pushing for him—none too subtly, at that—to move into a dorm or apartment with a group of students his own age. So he could be more sociable. As loathe as he was to have to surround himself with a bunch of loud peers while at the same time losing any ability to fill his savings account, he was starting to consider it if only to avoid the ever increasingly awkward conversations of why he was still single and just couldn’t find the right girl.
As he slipped on slick leaves in the dark, leaning sideways against the wind while standing on the sidewalk, Sebastion began to contemplate his parents’ parting words before he had left the house half an hour ago. Maybe they had been suggesting something else when saying he hadn’t met the ‘right girl’ yet. Maybe they were saying he shouldn’t be expecting to fall for a girl at all…
Did everyone think he was gay just because he’d been unlucky in love?
The sound of crunching tires hitting leaves behind him caught his attention. Sebastian immediately stepped as far from the street as the sidewalk would allow, his expression growing stormy when he heard a puddle splash and felt a fresh spray of water as the vehicle roared past.
“Asshole!” He growled, raising his hand holding the bag full of candy while ineffectively wiping the side of his face that had gotten caught in the deluge of dirty water. He glared after the fading red taillights, glad that the rain had at least driven most of the trick-or-treaters inside so they wouldn’t have to deal with the same fate. Shaking himself off, he forced his frozen feet forward, quietly contemplating just who had insisted on Halloween being so late in the season when the weather was always so cold.
He was going to go home, lock himself in his bedroom, and drink himself to sleep. Not because he was depressed over Claire—no, apparently he still couldn’t work up enough emotion for that—but because he was so fucking annoyed by being told he didn’t know how to feel. He knew how to feel. He did it every fucking day. And if that wasn’t good enough, well, too fucking bad for Claire.
Somehow feeling more empowered in his anger even though he was still absolutely lost on what the fuck Claire had been trying to tell him, Sebastian splashed through puddles and piles of colorful, rain-drenched leaves until he reached the familiar streets of his neighborhood. The rain had only increased and his steps sped up in response, his sweatshirt soaked through and bangs now dripping into his green eyes, obscuring his vision. Which was why, when headlights suddenly flashed and Sebastian caught sight of a small, hunched body in the middle of the road, without thinking he immediately dashed forward.
A horn blared startling loud, the tires to Mr. Walden’s sedan shrieking on the wet pavement when the man slammed on his brakes to avoid Sebastian’s poorly lit form. He barely noticed, his gaze fixed on the middle of the road where a child’s plastic pumpkin treat holder was tipped upside down, candy scattered on the ground all around it. But where he had thought he had seen the body of a person, a drenched, wide-eyed black cat looked up at him, it’s fur matted to its trembling body.
“Sebastian! Are you out of your damn mind, boy? You could have been killed!” Rolling his window down roughly, the older man squinted into the rain, trying to see past Sebastian’s knees illuminated by his headlights. “Oh, hell, don’t tell me that’s a…”
“It’s a cat,” Sebastian said, wonder and warmth filling his voice in equal proportions as he bent down and offered the back of his hand to the small creature’s delicate nose. “I think he was eating the candy.” He had never known a cat to eat candy, but with the torn wrappers under the cat’s paw, he was pretty sure that was what it was doing.
Scowling with a mix of annoyance and relief to find that there was no child crumpled under the wheels of his car, Mr. Walden revved his engine impatiently. “Come on, get out of the street. Whatever it’s doing, the road is no place for it or you. Especially in this rain.”
Eyes of impossible periwinkle depths stared up into his. Crouching down, Sebastian held his hands out, the frail looking cat following the movement with its head warily. “You cold, little guy?” Sebastian crooned, carefully scratching behind a bedraggled ear. When no bite or hiss came, he edged closer, cautiously wrapping his arms around the cat’s body but not lifting just yet. “I’m going to get you out of this rain, okay? My home is nice and warm and you won’t have to worry about being run over.”
Taking the silence and trembling of the small form as permission, Sebastian carefully tightened his arms until the black cat was in his embrace. He stood slowly, hooking the plastic handle of the pumpkin with him so no kid would wander into the road to try and rescue it as well. He ignored Mr. Walden’s eyeroll—the man was clearly not as impressed by a pathetic, shivering, soaking wet cat as he was—and slowly walked his new friend to the sidewalk where they could both be safe.
“Do you have a collar, pretty?” He asked softly, gently scratching beneath the cat’s chin until it tilted its face up to reveal that it was indeed collarless. But even though the cat was bedraggled and scavenging for food, Sebastian was certain it belonged to someone or had only just recently lost its owner. It was far from feral, curled up in his arms and purring as it tried to heat itself against the rain and cold. It hadn’t tried to claw him or anything even though the poor thing had nearly been run over and had to be terrified.
Water dripped down onto Sebastian’s nose from the brim of his sweatshirt hood, startling him momentarily and reminding him that even though his new friend was safe from cars, it was still out in the miserable weather that could be just as dangerous for a domestic animal. Decided, he turned towards his house, speaking soothingly as he held the cat close against his chest between the damp layers of his shirt, offering it as much protection as he could from the elements while he took him home.