Give Me Love

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It takes Michael two days to stop crying. Two long, agonizing days. He ventures outside his room, and walks down the hallway like a corpse reawakened, a shell of who he was. The hall sways and buckles. Michael keeps his ground, if barely, and lets out a shuddery breath. He pauses at the door of Luke’s room.

Shut, like it used to be.

He stumbles into the kitchen, wrecked. Hair dying and ugly, faded blue, eyes darkened by the promise of empty days ahead. He’s barely holding onto this life. He can’t bear to think of living through days, weeks, months, years as a band, side by side with Luke and yet never really with him, without feeling intensely ill. He’s not complete. He’s half of a puzzle that’s lost his match. As many times as he and Luke fell out before, he knows this time, it’s for good.

There’s a pallor to his skin, and a storm with no forecast for sunshine in the house. After all the yelling and screaming and crying and all the loud, unbearably loud love that existed leading up to the final argument, there’s only silence. Not a word to be spoken save for the words Ashton whispers into his ear as he shakes at night. Nothing to break the fragile sanctity that infiltrates every room, pierces all their armor.

Michael doesn’t want to continue, but he claws at the edges of the well and keeps himself at the surface, waiting for someone to build him a staircase. Waiting for his strength to give out until he crashes to the bottomless depths of black waters.

And so Michael bides his time. He seals himself into a corner and watches life pass him by. Dreading the time when Luke finally comes out of his room and he has to look him in the eye.

Luke never leaves his room.

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It takes two weeks for the record deal to drop. In the space of those two weeks, Michael cycles through a mix of emotions and feels all the feelings he was missing leading up to the break. Grief, anger, frustration. He’d been empty, and breaking up woke him up in a way he hadn’t planned for. All the while he’d withered inside, starving for the loving water to raise him from the dirt. That’s what never came back. There were no more of Luke’s soft touches and gentle words and hesitant kisses. There was no more Luke; there was no more love.

Now, he sees Luke for the first time in two weeks. They’d lived almost directly across the hall from each other for the past two weeks, and they’d taken care never to be visible when the other was. It was a dance, sidestepping each other, always listening for the sound of a door opening.

Luke looks at Michael from the corner of his eyes as Ashton drops the news. Michael forces himself not to look when he realizes. He wants so badly to see Luke, to analyze every inch of him. He wants to see that the break up took a toll on him, too, and he’s not just a pathetic nobody pining for some pretty-eyed boy who’s better off without him. But he fears locking eyes with Luke, doesn’t want things to be awkward. Doesn’t want the guilt to intensify any further.

“Michael? Luke? You guys listening?” Ashton says, bursting with unspent energy. “It’s a huge announcement. You guys are gonna be so excited.”

“Mmhm,” Michael mumbles. Luke doesn’t bother answering, just takes the time to look up so Ashton realizes he’s listening.

“We got a record deal,” Ashton says, and Michael wants to faint.

A record deal. After months and months of hard work, they finally landed it. Michael doesn’t have to worry about the band thing not working out. He has a career ahead of him. He won’t have to worry about having a family, or a place to stay.

The room around him explodes. Ashton’s bouncing on the balls of his feet, Calum is quite visibly trying not to cry, and Luke, when Michael sneaks a look, has been sucked in by Ashton for a very tight hug.

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