Malcolm smiled despite the sadness clenching his heart as he approached his best friend Shaw. He looked so handsome in his tux and stood from the chair he was sitting in as Malcolm approached. “You look tired.” Malcolm said as they hugged.
“Yeah, I finally got a moment to just breathe.”
“I still can’t believe it…married.”
“Where’s the bride?”
“Off with her mother talking to everyone.”
Malcolm nodded, hating what he was about to do, but he had too. “Hey, can we talk away from all of this for a minute?”
Shaw gave him a concerned look. “Everything alright?”
“Yeah, I just have something important to tell you.”
“Of course.” Shaw lead him away from all the guests and deeper into the botanical garden he and his new wife had rented for their wedding. When they were out of sight he turned to Malcolm. “So? What’s up?”
Malcolm opened his mouth then closed it again, his heart hammering in his chest, his throat threatening to close up on his words. “I…” He took a deep breath, steeling himself. “Shaw I…I love you.”
“I love you too man.”
Malcolm clenched his fists, “No, you don’t understand, I love you, really love you. I know it’s shitty to say it now, but…it’s the truth.”
Shaw’s eyes widened in shock. “Malcolm…”
“I’m sorry.” He said quickly. “I’m sorry, I…” Shaw reached for him and Malcolm backed away, then turned and ran. He didn’t want to hear how much Shaw hated him for it or how disappointed he was, so he ran to his car and got behind the wheel, his eyes burning with tears.
“You coming out with us tonight Malcolm?” One of the women he worked with, Hannah asked as she leaned against the mop she had been using to clean up the restaurants floor.
“Sure, who all’s going?”
“Me, Lawrence, and Rowan.”
“Alright, where do you want me to meet you?”
“Sure, I’ll be there.”
“awesome, I’ll add you to the group text we have going about it. Are you heading home now?”
“I was but let me help you dry the floor so we both can get going”
“You’re so sweet, thank you.”
“add me to the chat and I’ll put this away then grab the towels” He walked away with the mop and bucket, getting a text before he even had a chance to get what they needed to dry the floors. He checked it and responded, smiling when the rest of the group was excited about him joining. He knew he should join them more but didn’t dwell on that thought. He and Hannah had a floor to dry so they could lock up and leave. Their phones went off a few more times but they didn’t check them again until everything was put away and the restaurant was locked for the evening.
Malcolm texted everyone that he was going to swing by his place and change real quick. They all gave him an okay and he headed home. He was surprised to find a car sitting in front of his house when he pulled up and it took him a minute to notice the person sitting on his porch. He was shocked when he realized it was Shaw. He closed his eyes, shook his head, and opened them again. He was still there. He swallowed. It was Shaw and now he was standing and dusting himself off. Malcolm knew he needed to get out, but he was frozen. Shaw just stood there, waiting for him and Malcolm took a deep breath, switched off his car and got out. “Hey.” Shaw said with a smile.
“Um, hey.” He cleared his throat. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m not allowed to visit.”
“Oh.” He nodded as he forced himself to move toward and then past Shaw to his door. “Yeah, of course, but it’s…it’s kind of a bad time. I have plans with friends.” His hand was shaking as he unlocked his door. He could feel Shaw step up behind him.
“Need some help? At this rate we’ll be old by the time you open the door.”
“I go it.” He managed to get the key in and the door open.
“I can come in right?”
“Yeah, but I need to get ready, my friends are waiting.” He headed to his room and Shaw followed. “So, how are things?”
“They’re fine. It’s good to see you.”
Malcolm nodded again. “Yeah, you too.” He dropped his keys on his chest of drawers, as well as his phone. He didn’t know how he was supposed to act around Shaw anymore. He hadn’t talked to him since the wedding, far too embarrassed and ashamed.
Shaw grabbed his wrist gently “I wish you wouldn’t be so nervous…we were once so close…I’m divorced if you’re worried about my wife”
“Yeah, things just didn’t work out. She was always thinking I was cheating which I wasn’t…I didn’t even pursue you…someone who meant the world to me because it would have felt wrong knowing…well…but I’m single again…I want more than anything to have you back in my life, even if you might not love me anymore I want to be a part of your life again” Malcolm swallowed “so you didn’t lose all respect for me because I confessed feelings for a married man”
“Of course not, you can’t help how you felt. It’s not like you hounded me or tried to get me to cheat, You just told me how you felt”
“I could have been more mature about it. Telling you on your wedding day was…it was stupid.”
“Just know, it’s alright.”
“Okay.” Malcolm nodded and Shaw let him go so he could get changed.
Shaw sat down on the bed and Malcolm’s heart jumped in his chest. Was he really going to stay there? He didn’t want to tell him to leave, afraid he might come off as rude or scared and it wasn’t like Shaw hadn’t seen him in his underwear anyway. He pulled out a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, trying to act as casual as he could. “So,” Shaw said, “going out with friends.”
“Yeah, just for drinks mostly.” He swallowed as he started undressing. “Um, do you maybe want to come with me or something? I mean, it’s been awhile.”
Shaw looked relieved he was being invited “Yeah, I’d love to come. I’ve really missed hanging out with you” He emphasized the word really and it had Malcolm’s heart stuttering in his chest. “well they are ready for us when I’m ready” Malcolm stuttered a bit which embarrassed him but it was worth the warm smile Shaw had on his face. He knew it was horrible to be happy his marriage had ended but it was now completely hitting Malcolm just how much he had missed Shaw. As nervous as all this was making him he couldn’t help but be happy it was finally going to be like old times. Shaw had truly been his best friend.
Malcolm dressed as quickly as he could and let his friends know he was on the way. He also made sure to add Shaw was coming. Once they were on the road Shaw asked “do I know these friends?”
“You only know Rowan, you know how much staff turns over in restaurants. Especially with my boss. He’ll fire someone over the smallest things”
“Is he doing alright?”
“yeah, he’s got a kid now. Things are touch and go with the mom but he adores that little boy”
“Must be a baby since its only been two years”
“Yeah, his son is only a few months old.”
“Is he actually helping her out with him?”
“Yeah, he’s watched him a few times already for her and he’s paying for diapers. He’s having some sent to her house every month”
“That’s good, what should I know about the people I don’t know?”
“Hannah is sweet normally but her inner tiger comes out, as she calls it when she drinks. It can be amusing but she’s gotten into some tense situations at bars. I like her a lot. She’s worked at the restaurant for about as long as Rowan has had a kid…Lawrence is coming too. He’s a year older than me. He has a channel on youtube that’s actually pretty amazing. He plays nothing but horror games. I try to stay caught up with it.”
“You’ll have to send me the channel name and I’ll check it out.”
“When did you get into YouTube and video games?”
“My manager likes to put my concerts up so I sometimes do live Q and A’s for the fans and as far as video games, I’ve been asked to record some songs for a soundtrack so I’ve been playing more to get an idea of what might work.”
“I used to watch you play sometimes.”
“You used to sit there with your headphones on and write music.”
“But I did appreciate you spending time with me, even if it wasn’t your thing.”
Shaw shrugged. “You never missed a concert and you even wrote some beautiful pieces for me, well until what happened, it was the least I could do.”
“Tell you what, if you want to make it up to me, you can come spend time at my place and help me write the music for the soundtrack.”
“Your opinion has always mattered the most and your music always resonates with the audience and me. I missed our time together.”
“That sounds really nice, I hope you enjoy my friends tonight. They are really good people. I don’t go out with them as often as I probably should so I was kind of planning to make this a late night”
“Could I sleep on your couch then so I don’t have to drive all the way home after? I mean, hopefully things really can just go back to normal”
“we used to crash at eachothers places so much…yeah, you’re welcome to.” They easily kept conversation flowing between them until they pulled up to Bargarten “I’ve heard this place is nice. Kind of like a classy bar”
“yeah, I really like a lot of the food” He texted the group to let him know he was parked so was greeted by Rowan when they walked in the door “I volunteered to show you guys where we are sitting.” He smiled at Shaw “it’s been a long time”
“I plan to hang around Malcolm as much as I used to so you’ll probably see a lot more of me”
“I’m surprised you have a kid.” Shaw said.
“Honestly, I was too. I mean can you imagine someone like me having a baby? I couldn’t until he was born and now I can’t imagine life without him.” He slapped Shaw on the back. “What about you?”
“I didn’t get the chance, things didn’t work out, I’m divorced.”
“I’m sorry man.” He said as they sat down.
Shaw shrugged. “It’s alright, really.”
Malcolm sat down next to him and gestured to his other friends. “Shaw this is Hannah and Lawrence.”
“It’s very nice to meet both of you. Hopefully you haven’t heard anything too terrible about me.” He replied with a smile that had Malcolm’s heart skipping in his chest.
“Not at all, Malcolm’s description was spot on though, you’re definitely pretty.” Hannah said.
“I didn’t say pretty.” Malcolm said with a blush.
“You did and he’s more than pretty, he’s gorgeous.”
Shaw chuckled. “Well thank you very much, it’s very high praise coming from Malcolm.”
Shaw fit right in but that wasn’t surprising, he fit in with everyone. They talked, laughed, shared food and ordered drinks late into the evening, only leaving when Bargarten was closing. “do we need to call an Uber?” Malcom asked since he had consumed a few drinks. He wasn’t drunk but he never risked it. “No, I didn’t have anything alcoholic. Just give me your keys” Malcolm handed them over and allowed Shaw to take him home. Once they arrived and entered the house Shaw asked “you aren’t ready for bed yet are you?”
“I can stay up a little longer” Shaw smiled “good, lets watch something on Netflix. I hear The Haunting of Hill House is good”
“You know I’ve actually seen episode one and it does seem like it’s going to be good, lets do it. I’ll watch as many as I can. Let me get out all your bedding first though. I don’t want to drag myself off to bed and forget because I’m so tired.” Malcolm went to his bed and grabbed a pillow then took a blanket out of his linen closet. By the time he came back and set them on the couch Shaw had turned on Netflix, pulled up the show and gotten them drinks from the kitchen.
“I hope you’ll be comfortable out here.” Malcolm said as he handed Shaw the blanket and pillow.
“I’m sure I will, but if you’re that concerned we could always cuddle.” He teased.
Malcolm blushed and Shaw started laughing. “You’re such a jerk.”
“But you love me anyway.”
Malcolm gave a little laugh. “Yeah.” He cleared his throat and looked away from Shaw. He grabbed the controller and clicked on the second episode.
“I wasn’t trying to make you uncomfortable or make it seem like your feelings were a joke.”
“I know, sorry.” He smiled. “It’s true though, you could be the biggest jerk in the universe and I’d probably still tell you I love you while beating you up.”
Shaw chuckled and nudged him. “I don’t think you could.”
“I’m pretty tough.”
They focused their attention on the show, talking every now and then about certain scenes. Malcolm found himself glancing at Shaw, still amazed he was actually there. He didn’t think he’d ever see him again and his feelings had only grown for him. He let out a yawn just before the next episode was about to start and Shaw suggested they go to bed. “We don’t have to.”
“That brilliant brain of yours needs rest if you’re going to be helping me write music.” Shaw replied as he poked him in the forehead.
“alright then…you’re welcome to anything in the kitchen if you get hungry or thirsty” Malcolm went to his room and Shaw sighed, settling himself on the couch. His mind played the memories of their day together as Shaw tried to sleep. He couldn’t help but think how amazing these past few hours had been and almost hated the fact he had let this man slip through his fingers for so long. The next thing Shaw knew it was morning. The sun was up and Malcolm was obviously cooking in the kitchen. Shaw groaned a little as he sat up so Malcolm wasn’t startled when Shaw entered the kitchen asking ‘what’re you making?”
“just pancakes and scrambled eggs”
“do you have to work again today?”
“No, that’s why I went out last night.”
“So, does that mean you’re free?”
Malcolm’s heart fluttered. “Yeah.”
Shaw rested his chin in his hand. “I see, then you can come over, right?”
“If you want me to.”
“I do, we can get started on that soundtrack.”
“Oh I see, you just want my music.” Malcolm teased.
Shaw chuckled, the sound sending a thrill through Malcolm. “Now you know that’s not true, we can do something else if you like.” At this point, the soundtrack was simply an excuse. He could finish it on his own, but he wanted the time with Malcolm. “Please? I’ll pout if I have too.”
“I know you will, I’ve seen it.”
“Is that a definite yes then?”
“Yes, if I must.”
“You really must, I’ll even treat you to whatever you want. All you have to do is name it.”
“hmm, I’ll have to think about what I want” Shaw sat down happily waiting for Malcolm to finish making them breakfast. They soon ate and were on their way to Shaws. Malcolm was curious the entire ride as to where his old friend would be living now. Divorce was tricky, Shaw had owned his own home before her but that didn’t mean she hadn’t gotten the house in the separation. When they did infact pull up into a new home Malcolm asked “did she get the house?”
“Yeah, I’m still making good money and I didn’t want any of the memories. We fought a lot, it kind of ruined the vibe of the house for me. Plus, she had just been renting before me and would have struggled getting into something else”
“thats sweet you gave it to her”
“I may not even like her anymore but I don’t hate her. I wasn’t about to keep it just out of spite since I didn’t want it anymore” As they got out Malcolm asked “how did seperating stuff go?”
“very different tastes so that was easy too. Honestly, I couldn’t have dreamed of an easier split. She was just as done with me as I was of her” Shawn really didn’t want to talk about his ex wife but he wanted to be an open book with Malcolm. If he said he didn’t want to talk about her Malcolm might think he wasn’t over her.
“I’m sorry, Shaw, really. I know how you felt about her.”
“I did love her, but she accused me of things I didn’t do, I couldn’t even talk to or hang out with any of my male friends.”
“Do you wish it had worked out?”
The truth was, he had thought about it at the time, but now, with Malcolm here, it was different. “No, it was for the best, for both of us.”
“Well, if you ever need to vent, I’m here.”
“I know, but I’m good, I promise.”
Malcolm turned in a circle. “I really like your new place.”
“You haven’t seen the most amazing part.” He took Malcolm’s hand, grinning when he saw him start to blush. “You’ll love it.” He pulled Malcolm through the house to the basement door.
“Oh I see, you turned into a serial killer while I was gone.”
Shaw laughed. “And I eccentrically kill my victims with music.”
“Come on.” The light came on the moment they passed through the door way and Malcolm smiled when he saw the room had been converted into a recording studio and entertainment room.
“This is actually perfect for us hanging out” Shaw chuckled and admitted “I sort of had you in mind when I did it Malcolm. Pretty much right when we set things in motion to divorce I planned to seek you out again.” Malcolm was even redder than before which made Shaws heart dance. He was so glad to be showing Malcolm this. He hadn’t known if the relationship had been mendable. People change, he could have moved on and decided they could never be friends but here Malcolm was, hanging out in the basement he designed so they could hangout and both do things they loved.
“should we game first or start composing?”
“lets game a bit so I can think”
“alright, your pick.” Malcolm easily picked a game and allowed Shaw to get it set up so they could play. Hours had flown by before they even noticed and Malcolm suggested “okay, fill me in on this game. We should really start working on it”
“alright, I’ll order chinese so we can just concentrate on work. Do you still like the same thing?”
“Yep” It took about another hour to get fully set up but once they got going the only thing that stopped them at all was when they decided to eat the food they ordered. Even that was a brief distraction. Leftovers were dinner, they were far too into their work to do anything else. Malcolm looked at the time on his cellphone when they finally finished their first song for the game “Holy crap, that has to be wrong” Shaw chuckled “Time has always flown when we are together”
“Yeah, I really like this song too”
“I’m sure they will all be this good. Hopefully the developer agrees with us though”
“I’m sure they will, I mean it’s you presenting it.”
“Us, you have to come with me.”
“You have to because you’re part of it. I can hear you in it.”
Malcolm nodded. “Alright.” He yawned. “I should probably get home.”
Shaw reached over and grabbed his hand. “Stay.”
Malcolm’s heart danced. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I have plenty of room and you know I don’t mind. My home is your home. I want you to stay. Please?”
“Alright.” Of course he wanted to stay, how could he not. “Could I borrow some clothes?”
Shaw made sure everything was off before they leaved the basement then took Malcolm up to his room and pulled his closet open. “Holy crap, Shaw, you’re closet’s the same size as my room.”
Shaw chuckled. “It’s not that big. It gets even better though.” He walked to the other side of the closet and slid open another door. “The bathroom.”
“Can I just live here, I don’t take up that much space, I promise.”
“You can do whatever you want, Malcolm. I meant it when I said this is your home too.”
“I mean it, you’re the number one in my life again and this time, that wont change” Malcolm blushed and wanted to bring up the possibility of him falling in love again but couldn’t do it, even in a teasing way. Instead Malcolm picked out something to sleep in then stepped into the bathroom to change. “there, now let me show you to a room you can use. It can just be yours so feel free to bring some stuff over for when you stay the night”
“alright, thank you” Shaw gave him a long hug “thank you for letting me just step back into your life so easily. I know you felt bad for how you confessed but still. I’m glad we can just be us again” Shaw didn’t want to but he left Malcolm for the night, heading to his own room. Malcolm walked over to the bed, pulling back the covers and settling in.
Shaw was the first up the next morning and he made his way quietly downstairs to start some coffee before heading back up to the room he had given Malcolm. He pushed the door openly slowly, grinning when he saw him sprawled out, his blankets halfway off the bed and his shirt pushed up from his flopping. He had always been a restless sleeper. He crossed over to the bed and dropped down next to him, allowing himself to admire him for a moment and wonder how he had never noticed his friend’s feelings for him. He let out a little sigh as he reached up and gently shook him. “Malcolm, wake up.”
Malcolm groaned and grabbed his pillow as he turned on his side. “It’s too early.” He mumbled and buried his face in his pillow.
Shaw chuckled as he leaned down, bringing his lips close to Malcolm’s ear. “If you don’t get up, that means I’ll have to make you.” He whispered. He didn’t know if Malcolm had heard the suggestion in his voice or if he thought he was simply teasing, but it had him sitting up, his face bright red. “Good morning.”
“You’re so mean.” He said in a tired tone.
Shaw tipped his head to the side. “I asked nicely.” He reached up and brushed some hair away from Malcolm’s forehead. “Has anyone ever told you you look adorably unkempt when you wake up?”
“I don’t.” Sleepy eyes looked Shaw over. “Why do you look so perfect?”
“Magic and ponytail holders.”
“What time is it?”
“I guess it isn’t that early”
“we had a late night and you’ve never had more than two days off in a row so I wanted to get you up while i had you”
“yeah, I have to work tomorrow. Should we work on another song today?”
“maybe after lunch, lets start our day with something else. We could play another video or go to Gamestop and buying something new to play”
“a lot of the tales games you play together. I didn’t see any in your collection. Do you have one?”
“Nope, so it looks like we’re going to game stop. I’ve already got coffee going. I’ll go down and start omelettes while you get changed. Just go back to my room and change in there” Malcolm rubbed his eyes “Okay” Shaw left Malcolm and went to make breakfast like he said he would. It felt like it took forever for Malcolm to get into the kitchen but Shaw knew it couldn’t have been that long. He was still cooking the second omelette.
“I don’t think your clothes are quite my style and they’re so nice.” Malcolm said and Shaw turned just enough to look at him. He was wearing one of his favorite sweaters, a dark red, knit turtleneck that somehow managed to still fit loosely on him.
“I think it looks good one you.” He reached over and grabbed his phone. “Strike a pose.”
“Shaw, come on.”
“Do it or I’ll take it anyway.”
Malcolm rolled his eyes and posed. “You look like a real tough guy.”
“Let me see.” Shaw held out his phone and Malcolm took it while he turned to finish the second omelette. “I look like a kid who stole his dad’s sweater.” He looked down at himself. “Why is is so big?”
Shaw shrugged. “It was the last one they had and I wanted it.” He transferred the omelette over. “Want to get the coffee?”
“Sure, but can I delete this?”
“Come on, I look like such a dork.”
“I happen to think you look absolutely adorable so let me keep it.”
Malcolm blushed, his heart giving a little stutter. “Well, I mean if you really want it.” He sat Shaw’s phone down on the counter and found the coffee cups, filling two of them.
“I happen to like how cute you are.” Shaw said as he reached around him to the silverware drawer, the closeness causing his entire body to warm.
“You do?” He couldn’t look at him, he was too embarrassed.
They were soon sitting at the table together, Shaw still occasionally admiring how cute Malcolm looked in his sweater. He realized over that meal that he had really always found his friend attractive but had never allowed those thoughts to flourish since they had such an amazing friendship. Few people could actually remain good friends if they tried something more and it didn’t work and he guessed the friendship had always just meant too much to him. Now that Malcolm had confessed his feelings and he was single there was no denying the chemistry,
He just didn’t want to spring it on him just yet. They had only just started talking again and he didn’t want Malcolm to feel like a rebound. For now he decided he’d wait until he had been divorced a year before outright telling Malcolm he felt the same way. For now, he’d just enjoy having him back in his life because that was all he truly needed.
~ The End