April 22, 2015

Wednesday Briefs: At Full Speed, #10

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used this prompt: “You’re about to cross a line here…”

At Full Speed, #10

A shudder rippled through Jake’s body. Although he’d started to talk, and a tiny voice inside his head demanded to pour his out heart to Bruce—to let go for once and trust another human being again—his throat felt swollen and impeded further speech.
Bruce gave his shoulder a gentle squeeze before he turned his head and pressed a chaste kiss to Jake’s left temple. Jake gasped, startled by the sudden pressure of firm lips ghosting from his temple over his cheek to the tip of his nose. Through blurred eyes, he gazed at Bruce, the man he wanted to throw all caution away for.
“You’re about to cross a line here, you know,” Jake croaked.
“Are you sure it’s me crossing a line?”
Jake opened his mouth, his answer of ‘Of course, you’re crossing a line, you’re getting into territory that’s ugly’ ready, but he stopped before a single word left his mouth. Shaking his head, he whispered, “No, it’s not. It’s me, and it’s a terrifying thought.”
“Why does it terrify you? What’s the worst thing that could happen if you tell me?” Bruce asked as he rubbed circles with his thumbs on Jake’s shoulder.
Without overthinking his answer, Jake replied, “You’d find out what a worthless piece of shit I am, and run away from me as fast as you can.”
A second later, the blood in Jake’s veins seemed to turn into ice. Coldness prickled underneath Jake’s skin, leaving him shivering and panting. “Oh, God. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to… I know you must think I’m pathetic, but I… I can’t do this!”
Jake jerked out of Bruce’s hold and jumped up from the bench. His feet pounded on the pathway as he fled. Away. He had to get away from Bruce. The pitying looks. Were they even filled with pity? Or were those looks already ones of disgust?
He didn’t wait to find out. He couldn’t wait to find out. He’d seen those looks so many times in his life already, but if it were Bruce’s eyes that conveyed revulsion, it would be his undoing. The man had gotten underneath Jake’s skin too quickly. He didn’t have time to shield his heart.
Jake sped past curious pedestrians, listening to his shoes slap the concrete in a rapidly unsteady rhythm. By the time his lungs screamed murder at him, his thigh muscles denied further assistance, and he slowed to a walk before he gave up the fight altogether. He sat down on the ground, next to a hydrant, and leaned his back against it. Closing his eyes to block out people’s stares, he willed his wheezing to stop when he noticed a presence next to him.
He opened his eyes, hoping whoever invaded his personal space would just leave him alone. “Bruce?”
“Did you expect anyone else, sunshine?”
Gasping, Jake tried to come up with a retort, but his mind remained blank. The only thing he could think of was, “Did you run after me?”
“I did.”
“But you’re not even out of breath.”
Bruce chuckled and winked at him. “I’m in good shape.”
Oh, Jake knew that. And he liked that fact about Bruce—very much. Despite the circumstances, he felt a smile tugging at his lips. “You must think I’m—”
“How about I think for myself?” Bruce cut him off. His eyes showed the same warmth and compassion as always, but his voice demanded Jake’s obedience. Now.
Swallowing hard, Jake said, “I wasn’t trying to—”
“Yes, you were. You’re so afraid you’re making sure you’re telling me how I’m supposed to see you, which is probably the way someone else thought about you. Or maybe not thought about you, but abused you to the point you couldn’t distinguish between reality and cruel fantasy.”
Jake’s protective barriers, the ones he’d so carefully built around his heart for such a long time now, collapsed. His whole body shook with the effort it took him to ward off a complete meltdown, right at the corner of a street he didn’t know, with Bruce kneeling next to him.
Instead of walking away, Bruce slid closer. With great gentleness, he cupped Jake’s face and guided it to his shoulder. “Come on, sunshine, let it out.”
Jake lost the battle. Blindly, he reached out for Bruce’s neck before the first sob tore from his throat.

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