Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used this prompt: “Some things should remain in the past…”
At Full Speed, #5
“Nice and easy does it? Really?” Jake sputtered.
Bruce’s smile broadened and he still held out his hand, unwavering. Jake stared, realizing he needed to make a decision, one way or the other. If he didn’t, he’d spiral into another panic attack, which was a total no-go. He’d already embarrassed himself once—well, twice if he counted Bruce writing him a ticket for speeding earlier today—and that was more than enough.
“Jake,” Bruce said, stretching his fingertips.
Why couldn’t he just grab Jake’s hand and yank him closer? That would be so much easier. A shudder ran through Jake’s frame. Sure, that would be so much easier and he’d so freak out—again.
“I’m really not that much of a drama queen.” Jake’s gaze never left Bruce’s hand.
“There’s a difference between creating drama and being afraid. You’re still shaking, Jake. Would it help if I’d assure you I’d never hurt you?”
Jake bit his lower lip as he shrugged. Words didn’t mean a thing if the actions belied them. He’d learned that truth the hard and painful way.
“No, I didn’t think me saying the words would help you. Would you like me to sit somewhere and wait for you?”
Jake’s head snapped up. Bruce’s face was perfectly calm and sincere, and yet his words set off another turmoil within himself. What if Bruce tired of him and his antics? Jake pushed his bangs out of his eyes while he shifted his weight from one foot to the other. What the fuck was wrong with him? A moment ago he’d wanted nothing more than for Bruce to leave him alone, and hours ago he’d decided to stop seeing Bruce. But now? Now he couldn’t bear the thought of Bruce leaving him. Making up his mind would probably be a good idea.
“No, just stay here for a second, okay?” Jake whispered.
Bruce nodded. He held his hand steadily, without the slightest hint of tiring. Jake swallowed, closed his eyes and took one step forward, blindly groping for Bruce’s hand. Their limbs connected with a soft thud, sending a shiver down Jake’s spine. Bruce squeezed and slowly tugged him closer. Jake’s heart hammered against his ribcage while he walked, snail-like, into Bruce’s personal space.
Bruce’s arms wrapped around him without hesitation, without the slightest inclination anything out of the ordinary was going on. Jake leaned into the offered embrace and sighed when their chests pressed together.
“That’s it,” Bruce murmured before he tenderly kissed Jake’s forehead.
Jake shuddered and willed his heart to stop thundering. The blood rushing in his ears made listening incredibly difficult, but after some time the rhythmic thump of Bruce’s heartbeat registered. He squeezed his eyes shut as tight as possible, focusing completely on Bruce. All in all, it took him several minutes to calm down.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“It?” Jake said. He was stalling for time, to evade the inevitable, but he couldn’t help it. He couldn’t face… it.
“Something set that panic attack off, and I know I’m not that scary.”
“You wrote me a ticket for speeding,” Jake replied, hoping Bruce would ignore the tell-tale whine that had crept into his voice. “That’s plenty scary in my book.”
Bruce slid his fingers into Jake’s hair and carefully peeled Jake’s hair off his chest. Jake braced his feet, ready to deal with any kind of verbal abuse, or maybe a slap or whatever Bruce deemed necessary, but when he looked up, Bruce’s lips twitched into a smile. “Now that was an awkward situation, I agree. Come on, Jake. I’m not going to hurt you, but someone else did. Maybe you’ll feel better when you’ve talked about your past.”
Jake clenched his hands into Bruce’s shirt, his gaze sliding away to the side. “Some things should remain in the past…”
“Even if they affect how you’re reacting to me?”
“Especially then.” Jake was surprised by the vehemence in his voice. Bruce didn’t seem to fare much better.
“Jake, you had a panic attack because you assumed I’d hurt you. Did I ever give you a reason to believe I’d harm you?” Bruce asked.
“But? What set you off?”
“You… you said…” Jake’s tongue seemed to weigh a ton, and whatever he’d be saying would sound idiotic. He leaned his forehead against Bruce’s chest, inhaling Bruce’s spicy scent.
“I said something that upset you so much you didn’t want to see me tonight. Okay.” Bruce laid a finger underneath Jake’s chin and tipped his head up. “I’d like to know what I said so I don’t do it again. I’m really into you, just in case you didn’t notice, and I’d like to keep seeing you.”
“You are?” Jake’s voice rose in disbelief.
“What? Into you? Yes, that’s what I just said. Why is that so hard to believe for you?”
“You could have anyone,” Jake whispered.