Never Lit a Match With Intent to Start a Fire

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The guys give Michael a couple of days to settle down. It’s nice, to be in a place where Michael can eat what he wants, sit where he wants, do what he likes--without being yelled at. He doesn’t see much of anyone, seeing as Michael’s content to just stay in his room and play his guitar.

Oh, sure, he ventures out for bathroom trips, and to get food now and then, but Michael doesn’t need much more than that. And that’s a-okay with everyone.

Granted, Michael doesn’t spend more than a couple of minutes at most in the main areas, but he still finds it bizarre that he hasn’t seen this Luke kid yet. He’s run into Ashton several times, and Calum as well, and they’re not even home half the time, doing who knows what. Michael doesn’t waste too much of his attention thinking about it.

Michael’s mum doesn’t text or call.

He’s strangely okay with that.

---

It’s late in the afternoon the third day after Michael’s arrived. He’s staring at his wall. What a horrible wall. White and blank. A clean slate, like what Michael wanted when he moved back here. He has nothing to put on it, on any of his walls.

Michael’s phone vibrates in his pocket. He digs it out and glances at the screen.

Ashton: going to get pizza with Calum, brb half hour?

Michael: k

Moments later, he hears the door slam shut. It’s an apathetic day. Michael turns over onto his back and stares up at the ceiling instead. He half expects to see a crack arching across, like the one in his bedroom back in Perth, but the ceiling is untouched, intact. Michael spent a lot of time staring at that crack hardly any time ago.

“Michael!” his mother says, half a scream. “Michael.”

Michael doesn’t move from his bed, doesn’t want to. He’s tired. He needs to sleep.

“Michael!”

And yet his mum’s still calling. She doesn’t know, she doesn’t care. Michael picks himself up and sighs, walking down the hallway resignedly. His mum’s sitting at the table, face in her hands. Michael approaches warily. He’s not sure why she’s calling. He’s half tempted to just go back to his room.

“What?” he asks, a little more exasperatedly than he means to. He detaches the bottle from her hand. “Go to sleep, it’s two.”

“Your aunt wants to take you away,” she says, eyes bloodshot. “Tell her she can’t.”

“Mum, go to sleep,” Michael reiterates.

“Tell her she can’t take you. You’re mine. You can’t leave, Michael.”

“That was a long time ago,” Michael says, rubbing his eyes. “Aunt Lisa’s dead. Nobody’s taking me away.”

Michael’s mother’s eyes cloud. “Are you sure?”

Michael pulls her out of the chair and begins the long walk to her room. “Yeah.”

She doesn’t say another word as Michael pushes her down onto the bed and pulls the covers over her. He flips off the lights as he leaves, shutting her door. She might sleep through the night. She could also be up in an hour. Michael’s almost apathetic. Michael wants to be done.

He’s not a hero.

Michael sighs. He doesn’t feel guilty, and he thinks he probably should. His guitar’s off to the side, but he can’t be bothered to pick it up. The sun’s filtering through the window and it’s warm and Michael feels a little dozy. His thoughts are breaking into fragments.

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