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Fall Back | Straight Ahead

I JUST HAVEN'T MET YOU YET (2/2) -- PG-13

[title] I Just Haven’t Met You Yet (2/2)
[author] kissontheneck [aka fieryrogue]
[pairing] Cookleta
[beta] rajkumari905
[rating] PG-13
[word count] ~12,000
[summary] The Davids have been BFFs their entire lives, sharing ups and downs, apartments, and grocery bills. Now if only they could find the perfect partners their lives would be complete.
[disclaimer] Surely, I have nothing to do with either of these fine young men, no matter how much I wish I did.
[warnings] Language, terrible boyfriends
[author's notes] Stupid Michael Bublé and his stupid song. ;)





“I’ve had it with men!” Cook bellowed, storming into the apartment and throwing his coat on the floor. “I’m quitting them forever.”

“Again?” David replied casually from the couch, his eyes still on the textbook balanced against his knees.

“For reals this time, Archie.” Cook stomped over to the living area and threw himself next to David’s feet.

“What happened this time?” David turned the page.

“Why do you have to say it like that?” Cook asked. “Are you implying this is somehow my fault, that I’m in some kind of relationship fault cycle or something? Would you look at me, Archuleta?

David sighed and glanced up to find Cook glowering and absolutely soaked from head to foot. It’d been raining that day, but David hadn’t quite realized how hard.

“Why are you all wet?” David asked. “Where’s your umbrella?”

“I forgot it, duh,” Cook replied snarkily. “And I just walked here from Leverich Park, so I’ll probably come down with pneumonia by nightfall.”

David rolled his eyes. “That’s like five miles away, why did you walk home?” David felt he knew the answer already.

“Because I forgot my wallet and thus my bus pass,” Cook answered. “Don’t worry, you don’t have to say ‘Of course you did.’ I get it.”

“Oh for goodness sake,” David said, snapping his textbook closed. “Would you just tell me what happened so you can vent like you obviously want to do?”

Cook’s mouth opened and closed several times without any words coming out.

“Well, just… Chris and I had a fight,” Cook said simply.

“Mmm hmm. About?” David asked. Cook seemed taken aback by David’s sudden complete and pointed attention, even though that had been what he wanted in the first place.

“Well, like… I mean, it’s kind of stupid when you think about it.”

“No, no, no. You’ve written off all men, it must’ve been good.”

Cook softened after that, finding a stray thread on his jeans to pick at.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said less loudly. “But he’s an idiot. I mean, he was jerky, wasn’t he?”

“He purposefully picked fights with you,” David observed. “I tried to talk to you about it before.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Cook admitted. “Love is blind and all that.”

“Lust is blind,” David corrected. “We’ve talked about your problem with that too.”

“You’re supposed to make me feel better,” Cook whimpered, leaning his cheek against David’s knee. “You’re not helping.”

“One day you’ll realize I am,” David mumbled, reaching out to comb his fingers through Cook’s hair. Cook hummed lazily.

“Mmm, what’s that, Arch?” he asked.

“I said,” David answered more loudly, “you’re a deep, sensitive, caring person. You should look for the same instead of just nice abs.”

“That’s not what you said,” Cook replied distantly. “But he did have good abs, right?”

David punched Cook lightly in the shoulder, making them both laugh.

~*~


Cook didn’t get home until really late the evening that David fell apart. He’d had class and work all day, a meeting with his advisor, band practice with Andy and Neal. His poor phone, which had drained to five percent battery power, told him it was dangerously close to eleven o’clock as he ascended the stairs to the apartment.

All he wanted to do was take a shower, grab a beer, watch The Daily Show, and go to bed.

His apartment was almost impossible to enter without making a stupid amount of unnecessary noise. No matter how hard he tried, the lock clicked too loudly, the door creaked despite being relatively new, and the floorboards in the entry always squeaked. It made him feel even worse for coming home sort of late when David would most likely already be in bed.

Once he got inside, however, he was surprised to find the kitchen light on. It wasn’t like David to forget to turn it off, but Cook supposed even David Archuleta was only human. As soon as he flicked off the light though, the sudden darkness drew his attention to the fact that another light glowed down the hall, spilling into the edges of the living room.

That was weird.

After dumping all his things on the living room couch, Cook moved quietly to the other end of the apartment, wondering if David had maybe fallen asleep reading or something.

If only David had fallen asleep reading or something.

The door to David’s room stood partially open, obscuring a lot of the view. But Cook could see David sitting upright on his bed, leaning against a pile of pillows with his knees drawn up to his chin. As he got closer he could see David’s glassy eyes staring aimlessly in front of him, dark circles emphasizing a sadness Cook had rarely witnessed in his best friend.

“Archie?” he said softly, poking his head through the crack in the door. David didn’t move, didn’t even breathe.

“Arch?”

Finally, David looked up, but Cook could tell he was still unfocused and lost.

“What’s wrong?”

The question made David’s eyes go wide and his chin to quiver. He clapped a hand over his mouth in an attempt to hide the sob fighting to get out.

“What is it?” Cook asked desperately, now cutting across the room as quickly as he could. “David, are you all right? Is your family okay? What’s going on?” By now Cook had crawled up next to David, arm squeezing around him.

David could barely say the word through his hiccuping.

“Nick.”

Shit, Cook immediately thought. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. Emotional relationship issues were the worst for David; they completely closed him off to the world. And clearly something bad had happened.

This was going to be difficult. David had a hard time expressing himself in words on a good, happy day. Getting things out of him in tragic states such as this was nearly impossible.

“Okay, kiddo,” Cook tried to say evenly. His fingers brushed the nape of David’s neck soothingly. “Did… did you break up?”

David’s eyes squeezed tightly closed as he nodded and Cook instantly wanted to punch something. Preferably Nick’s stupid beautiful face.

Cook had endured this kind of thing with David before. An overwhelmed David always froze up, stiffened, didn’t talk. The only hope anyone had in trying to break through his reclusive wall was to make educated guesses in the form of yes or no questions.

“He’s the one who broke up with you,” Cook said. David buried his face into his knees and shrugged his shoulders.

Damn it, straight to the shoulder shrug. In Archuleta body language that meant “It’s complicated.”

“Okay,” Cook said, straining to think. That probably meant there hadn’t been clear communication. So, unanswered calls or texts or something. Avoidance.

“Archie,” he continued after a minute, now rubbing David’s shoulder. “Did you see him today or was this over the phone?”

David managed to whisper extremely softly, “Text.”

God damn it. Cook had realized at some point that Nick was a really reserved, private person who didn’t necessarily voice his thoughts all the time. That wasn’t so bad except it was also likely that Nick didn’t communicate so well in person, so text messages were probably his preferred mode of communication. On top of that, he probably didn’t ever mention to David if he had any little problems bugging him. Seeing as David really needed people to be completely straightforward with him if they wanted him to understand such things, it added up to a chaotic intersection of misunderstanding and heartache.

This infuriated Cook too, of course. He’d been in plenty of tight spots with dates before, very tempted to bail via text because it was easy. But deep in his heart he also knew it was cowardly, so to think that Nick had done this to Archie made his blood boil.

“What did he say?” Cook asked at length.

David tensed at the question, and Cook knew he might be in for a long wait. It also occurred to him that right now David probably just wanted someone to hold him, or maybe even to be left alone. Unfortunately, Cook just wasn’t that kind of guy. He wanted to get to the bottom of things so he could take action and right wrongs. There was no way in hell he was just going to go to bed and sleep soundly knowing David was hurting so badly in the neighboring room.

Then, surprisingly, David reached across to his bedside table, pawing for his cell phone. Without even pausing to look at it, he pressed it into Cook’s lap, a new wave of hiccups overcoming him.

Cook stared at it for a long time before finally picking it up with his free hand and swiping the home screen. The conversation with Nick was still open, and Cook scrolled up a few screens to the point where the messages started.

We need to talk.

Cook rolled his eyes. The stereotypical horrible way to start a breakup conversation and Nick had gone right for it.

David’s response: What’s up?

i’m just a little upset

Why?

u know why.

Cook paused before continuing because that was such bullshit. Firstly, if a person asks why it’s because they don’t, in fact, know why. Secondly, David had to be told things directly. God bless him, but the kid just didn’t always catch all the nuances in the universe. It was what made him so delightfully innocent.

No, not really.

Yesterday?

According to the timestamp, David didn’t answer for several minutes before Nick apparently got impatient and sent another message.

u were supposed to come over. I had a whole night planned.

I told you I was sorry. But I remembered I was supposed to help Cook with editing a song he’s been writing.

u live in the same house david.

And?

you see him ALL THE TIME.

Cook stopped again because this version of Nick genuinely surprised him. The Nick he’d interacted with had always been so polite -- generous even. This demanding part of him didn’t seem to fit at all.

I made a promise, David had responded.

It was Nick’s turn now to go silent for several minutes.

But not to me.

What a dick, Cook couldn’t help thinking.

I apologized to you, David replied. I offered to come over tonight.

I told you i’m busy tonight. You’d probably just ditch me again any way.

At this point, Cook could feel his own anger start to creep up into his chest. First the passive-aggressiveness and now the guilt trip? Nick Jonas really did have an entirely different hidden personality after all.

What? was all David wrote. Cook understood. That wouldn’t make any sense to David at all.

you already live w/ him and grew up with him… now you start breaking dates with your BOYFRIEND to be with him even more? come on, David

Cook’s eyes went wide as he suddenly realized what Nick was implying.

I don’t understand, David replied.

I have to spell it out, i guess. It’s pretty obvious your in love with him.

Cook had to look away for a moment, his heart having come up into his throat. Anger pulsed through his veins, of course, but also another feeling he wasn’t quite sure of. Something about the thought of David as anything more than his best friend in all the world caught him short of breath.

That doesn’t even make sense, David wrote. Why would I date you instead of him then?

idk, u tell me

Another long pause before David answered.

Honestly, there’s nothing to worry about.

yeah well. i think it’s gonna have to be him or me.

Cook’s heart seared. Not so much because of the ultimatum itself, but how he knew it had to have torn David’s heart right in half.

Sorry? David replied after three minutes.

it’s to late for Sorry. Him or me.

No time at all passed this time.

Then it’s him.

Cook let the phone drop on the bed as he covered his eyes with his palm. There was more after that, but he didn’t need to see it, didn’t want to see it. The arm that had been around David’s shoulder this whole time squeezed tighter as he leaned closer to his best friend.

Then something else occurred to Cook. Something that made his heart sink into his stomach and made him feel like the worst friend in the entire universe. Something that would be so important to his loving, sensitive Archie that if the answer to his next question was ‘yes’, he might as well hand in his best friend card right then and there.

“Did you and Nick have sex?”

David, whose face was still buried in his knees, nodded roughly, the fabric of his jeans scraping his cheeks.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fucking fuck. That was his fault. He, David Cook. That was his fault. He’d encouraged it without thinking. Forgotten momentarily that David wasn’t like him, didn’t get into superficial relationships but rather looked for deep connections with people. Forgotten that David Archuleta was always eager to please. And David had decided to give himself to this person who clearly didn’t deserve it.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

“Last Saturday?”

David nodded yes. It had been the night Nick had sent the flowers and taken David to dinner. Cook had been getting ready for bed when he’d gotten home, but did see David for a fleeting moment. His best friend had been a little bit giddy then, practically skipping. So Cook had suspected it.

Cook was at a loss. There was some behavior he truly didn’t understand, and this was one of those times. And what made it worse was that Cook had genuinely grown to like Nick for reasons beyond his biceps, found him intelligent and talented, if a bit quiet. He understood why David was so into him.

So in love with him, to be more precise.

The two friends sat for a long time in the silence that one can only experience at midnight in the city. Occasionally a car would rumble by or a pair of roaming teenagers would skuffle along the street. Cook rubbed David’s back as he tried to think of any sensible explanation, but he really couldn’t come up with one.

After maybe ten minutes, David suddenly looked up, his puffy, red eyes desperately searching his best friend’s face. His dry, chapped lips tried to form words, but no sound came out, which broke Cook’s heart more if that were even possible. David squeezed his eyes closed in frustration, clearly shifting to sorrowful anger.

“What is it, Archie? Take your time.”

Eyes still closed, David licked his lips, swallowed hard, took a deep breath. He got out one word before his voice cracked.

“What…”

Cook hated every agonizing second of this. The longer it went on the more he wanted to go find Nick’s apartment and rip is goddamn throat out. Hurting David was a cardinal sin in his book. You hurt David Archuleta, you get a visit from David Cook’s left hook.

David’s forehead smashed hard into Cook’s chest, a strangled sound escaping his lips as he clung to his friend’s waist.

“What did I do wrong?” David wailed, tears soaking through Cook’s t-shirt. “What did I do wrong?”

“Nothing,” Cook answered, heart searing as he squeezed David tighter than ever. He pressed his lips into David’s temple and said, “You’ve never done anything wrong in your entire life.”

~*~


David woke with a pounding headache, the kind a person gets when he’s exhausted himself through waves of high emotion and thinking in hyperdrive. The light in the room was still dull and bluish, clearly only about seven in the morning. He stretched a little, but immediately bumped up against an unexpected someone else in his bed.

Cook, still fully clothed and scrunched up on the wall side of David’s twin-sized bed, slept awkwardly, his eyes squinted and mouth frowning. His left arm sat trapped under David’s shoulder, and David found himself clinging to Cook’s middle as well. It alarmed him for a moment as his brain still struggled to wake up. Had they been watching movies together and fallen asleep? Had they resurrected their late night sleepover chats? David felt sick to his stomach, but wasn’t completely sure why.

Then he remembered.

Remembered, but didn’t want to. The pain, the questioning. He wished he could erase everything about Nick Jonas out of his brain forever.

Cook rumbled in his sleep, attempting to push into the wall that wouldn’t let him budge. David brought his hand up to Cook’s shoulder, shaking him lightly.

“Cook,” he whispered, trying to sit up halfway. “Psst, Cook. Wake up.”

It took another minute of Cook grumbling and David gradually raising his voice before his disheveled friend finally opened his sleepy, dark-circled eyes.

“Mornin’,” David said softly. “It’s like 7:00. You better get going if you want to be at work on time.”

Cook rubbed his face, then gazed back at David, eyes searching.

“How you feeling?” he said, his voice gravelly and low.

David diverted his eyes, not wanting to answer. Everything came to mind again, how he’d completely fallen apart the night before. It was embarrassing, really, and he recalled having cried himself to sleep in Cook’s arms.

“Archie, talk to me,” Cook cooed.

“I’m okay,” David lied, clearing his throat. “I’ll… be fine. It’s no big deal.” His voice cracked on the last words and Cook sighed, squeezing his shoulder.

“How many times have I told you not to lie to me?” Cook asked, stroking David’s hair.

David was silent for a long moment before reminding Cook about the time again.

“I don’t want you to be late for work,” he explained. He was, of course, trying very hard to divert the conversation, but he’d also gotten used to being Cook’s alarm clock years ago.

“Oh, I’m calling in,” Cook explained.

“Pardon?”

“You don’t have class or anything today, right?” Cook reasoned. He obviously already knew the answer. David shook his head anyway. “Yeah, I’m not leaving you alone all day.”

“Uh…” David didn’t know what to think about this declaration. Did it imply Cook didn’t think he could take care of himself? Should he be offended by that?

“If I go to work, I know what’s gonna happen,” Cook explained. “I’m gonna come home later and find you lying in the middle of the living room floor staring at the ceiling and listening to Adele on a loop.”

“But you’ll miss a day of wages,” David worried. Loss of pay due to him, of course, which made him feel terrible.

“Archie, what have I said since the first day we met?” Cook replied. “You’ll always come first.”

And it was at that exact moment that David finally realized Cook hadn’t just meant alphabetically.

~*~


On December thirty-first, for the first time in a very long time, Cook did not have a party planned for New Year’s. The December celebrations had been dominated by him for years now, what with birthdays and holidays both as excuses to have some fun. That and to try to get David to drink just one alcoholic drink in his life and maybe do something even a little bit crazy. It amused Cook to no end that David Archuleta might actually loosen up for once in his life.

Frankly, David was a little relieved. New Year’s parties were the loudest and most obnoxious, so he looked forward to just reading a book and maybe watching movies with Cook or something until five minutes to midnight when they’d switch to Ryan Seacrest counting down the last moments of the year. Simple.

He was relieved, that is, until Cook came in the door with enough snacks and drinks to feed an army.

“Uh, is the party back on and I didn’t know it?” David asked, anxiety rising in his chest.

“No, Arch, this is for us,” Cook explained, starting to unload everything on the kitchen counter. “Um, I may have gotten carried away.”

Carried away was an understatement. Cook had bought about five different types of chips, several packages of fancy bottled soda, some sort of champagne or something, and an uncountable amount of other snacks and candy. He’d also gotten plenty of beer for himself, of course. Cook beamed proudly at his purchases.

“Okay, now we just order pizza and we’re good for the New Year!”

“You’re gonna order more food?” David asked. “Are you afraid there’s going to be some kind of Y2K thing happening or something?”

“You can never be sure!” Cook replied seriously. David made a face at him.

The evening unrolled rather dully. They ate too much pizza, ate even more candy, and watched It’s A Wonderful Life, Sleepless in Seattle (David managed not to cry somehow), and half of The Lego Movie before Cook noticed it was seven minutes to midnight.

“Ah! Change the channel!” he instructed, jumping off the couch. “I’ll get the champagne!”

In the past when Cook made this announcement, it meant he was also opening a bottle of sparkling apple cider as well, but when Cook returned from the kitchen he only had the bottle of champagne and two red Solo cups.

“Sorry about the cups,” he apologized, struggling with the champagne cork. “You know we don’t have fancy stemware.”

“Uh, Cook?” David said. “You forgot the apple cider.”

Cook avoided looking at David as he said, “No, I didn’t. Will you at least try this one time? Come on.”

Now, David knew Cook wouldn’t pressure him if he said no again. He had no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed around Cook. Cook understood him completely and would never tease him about his choices. Which is possibly why David decided he would concede, just this one time.

“Fine,” he sighed.

Cook’s eyes shot up at him. “Really?”

“Don’t push it or I’ll change my mind,” David said, watching Cook fill the cups about half full. It seemed like an awfully large serving, to be honest.

“Don’t worry, Archie, I won’t take advantage of you or anything,” Cook joked.

“I know you wouldn’t,” David replied seriously.

The final minute countdown began on the TV, with Ryan Seacrest beaming like an idiot in front of a sea of people in Times Square. Cook tapped his cup against David’s, giving him a wry look.

Five… four… three… two… one…

Noise erupted on the television and outside in the street. Cook took a swig of his drink, so David followed suit as fireworks rang in his ears, leaving him in a strange state of muffled hearing and with an atrocious taste in his mouth.

“Jesus, Archie, you can’t drink that much of it at once!” Cook bellowed, howling with laughter. “Sip it, sip it!”

“Ugh, that is so terrible!” David replied, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “People drink that on purpose?”

“Yeah,” Cook answered. “Fancy people with taste even.”

“Ugh, no taste,” David corrected. “I mean literally no taste. They have lost their taste buds in some kind of freak culinary accident.”

Cook laughed so hard his face turned red, and he doubled over on the couch, clutching his stomach. David still tried to get the horrible taste out of his mouth by shoving some salty snacks into it. It only made things worse.

Cook had resorted to purposeful breathing as he tried to calm down, while scenes from Times Square caught David’s eye. Shot after shot showed couples embracing, hugging, kissing. Lots of kissing, in fact. The purposeful, electrically charged kind that one anticipates for hours on New Year’s Eve.

David had no one to kiss like that anymore, and the reminder made him feel absolutely terrible.

Cook had sobered enough to sit up straight again, and immediately noticed his friend’s sudden solemnity.

“What’s wrong, Archie?” Cook asked, hiccupping a little.

All David had to do was glance at the screen.

“Oh, right,” Cook replied. “Yeah, I feel ya. You know, it’s bad luck for the new year not to kiss someone at midnight too.”

David squinted his eyes at Cook. Was he purposefully trying to make him feel badly? Because it was definitely working. Being doomed to a year of bad luck was exactly what he didn’t need to hear right now.

For a beat, the two stared at one another until Cook made the move to tug on David’s arm. Before David realized what was happening, Cook had pressed his lips to his in what was admittedly a chaste, but warm and somewhat prolonged kiss.

David wasn’t exactly sure what to think. He’d been to enough New Year’s parties to know that kissing wasn’t always meant to be serious between participants. Besides, Cook had been drinking the entire evening, so he must have been just a little off balance. Even so, the feel of his best friend’s lips on his for some ten or fifteen seconds sent a chill through his body and plunged his heart into his stomach. His stomach, which was overfull with pizza, candy, snacks, and now an unnatural amount of horrible alcoholic beverage.

He pulled back from Cook, feeling tremendously nauseous.

“Oh gosh, I’m gonna throw up,” he announced, jumping up and hurrying to the bathroom.

“Not exactly the best thing you could say after kissing someone!” Cook hollered after him, cackling like a hyena.

~*~


Spring snuck up on both Davids like a cat lurking in the shadows. Before he knew it, David was busy picking another round of songs to perform for his final examination, and again sheet music had been strewn from one end of the apartment to the other. In frustration, David leaned his forehead against the keyboard of his piano as he passed sheets of music over his lap. His fingers lingered on one of his favorite Michael Bublé songs, tracing the words, “Haven’t Met You Yet.”

“Practice!” had been scrawled in terrible handwriting across the top and “Pick up the tempo!” streaked across the bottom where an entire line of music had been circled three times. Some notes had even been corrected by the writer with nearly illegible penmanship.

It was Nick’s handwriting.

David threw the music onto the floor in anger before sitting up and smashing his fingers across the keyboard.

“Practice, huh? I’ll show you who’s needs practice,” David muttered to the empty room. Nick had always been so strict about precise measure counts and half-rests, about following all the rules of music without deviation. And David appreciated music’s rules, he really did. Without rules music wouldn’t work at all. But music was still art, and art meant expression, and expression meant interpretation. It was so much easier to interpret without dozens of white sheets with little black dots on them getting in the way.

Besides, he’d mastered memorizing songs by ear a long time ago anyway.

He took a deep breath, then dove into the cheery, upbeat song of optimism in love, about finding the right person eventually, about true devotion to another human without exception.

He was playing and singing so loudly that he didn’t know Cook had come home until he appeared at the other end of his piano.

“Ack, you scared me!” David yelped, fingers crashing across the bleach-white keys.

“Archie, that’s the best I’ve heard that song all week,” Cook complimented. “And as you know, I’m getting real tired of waiting for Michael Bublé to randomly bump into me in a grocery store every time I hear it.”

“Thanks,” David said, still recovering from being startled. “You’re home from your date early.”

Cook huffed and frowned. “Yeah, well. Russ broke up with me.”

“What?” David asked, completely surprised. “He broke up with you?”

David hadn’t liked Russ from the first moment he’d met him because it was obvious he was kind of a jerk. He’d already treated Cook badly on several occasions, all the while Cook kept giving his all to being an awesome boyfriend. If anything, the breakup should’ve at least gone the other way around.

“Yeah, get this,” Cook continued. “We have a fucking date tonight, right? Like, he made the date himself, there’s no excuses for forgetting or anything. And I show up there, and I usually just let myself in, right? But the door’s locked. So I’m like, what the hell?”

For some reason, without even having any concrete details yet, David could feel his jaw tightening up, quickly followed by his neck and shoulders. This story sounded fishy, and since he already didn’t trust Russ anyway he knew he was about to be very angry in about two seconds time.

“So I knock,” Cook continues. “Nothing. I knock again. I’m just about to pull out my phone to call or check for a missed text when I suddenly hear voices inside his place. Like, rushed, worried sounding voices.”

“Do not finish this story,” David said through gritted teeth. “I see where this is going.”

“Oh, you probably don’t,” Cook went on, exasperated. “A minute later, that asshole opens the door. And I’m like, ‘What’s going on? Is someone here?’ I mean, I’m already angry at this point, of course. And he’s all, ‘No, no, my dear friend Melissa is visiting.’ Well, shit, Archie, guess how I get to meet his dear friend Melissa? You’ll never guess.”

David couldn’t even imagine at this point because he’d already been thrown off by the fact that there was a girl in this story.

“Half-naked.” Cook finished. “Half-naked, clutching her shirt to her chest as she squeezes between us out the door. She smiled at me. Fucking smiled! And Russ is like, ‘Yeah, hey, we need to talk.’ We need to talk. I need to fucking punch your lights out, is what.”

Cook trailed after that, but the story had finally reached a point that didn’t need any further explanation. He wandered into the kitchen and flung open the refrigerator, staring at it for a long time.

David sighed and left his piano, finding his way to the living room couch.

“What do you wanna do?” he asked after a long moment. “Ice cream and Doctor Who?”

This was David’s way of saying, Sorry about your terrible breakup, man. Let’s cry over some Cherry Garcia. It was the basic way they consoled one another in tough times.

“Ugh,” Cook groaned, emerging with a bottle of beer and a ginger ale. He paused to peek in the freezer, then made another annoyed sound.

“We haven’t got any,” he replied, pushing the door closed. “Figures.”

He made his way into the living area and dropped himself into the armchair across from David, handing over the ginger ale.

“I’ll go get some,” David offered, sipping his drink. “I’ll get as many as my arms can hold. And chocolate. And, uh, like all the stupid chick flicks out of Redbox.”

Cook breathed a chuckle through a swig of beer.

“You’re amazing, David Archuleta.”

In all of his life, David had never felt particularly outstanding at anything at all. All he really knew how to do was care for other people when they needed it, and maybe even when they didn’t need it too. He never understood treating anyone badly. And he never understood why Cook got the bad end of the dating stick all the time. Why did all of his relationships end in tragedy? Why did he get cheated on, criticized, stood up, and emotionally abused all the time? David wasn’t convinced it was just bad decisions on Cook’s part, especially since he knew just how caring, compassionate, and intelligent his best friend truly was. It didn’t make sense. No one should ever have a reason to leave David Cook standing out in the rain.

“I could go beat him up if you want,” David suggested. “Key his car. Egg his house.”

This time Cook barely avoided sputtering a mouthful of beer all down his front as he laughed.

“See, you’re sweet, Archie,” he said, wiping his mouth. “You always make me laugh. I wish I could just date you.”

David blinked at him, all the breath going out of him like he’d been hit hard in the chest. David didn’t know why, but the casual comment struck him as more than just a compliment. It made his heart burn to hear that, burn and rise up in his throat, making it hard to breathe.

“Why can’t you?” he asked, apparently accessing a second personality he didn’t know he had. A personality that would dare to say something like that.

It wasn’t every day a person got to witness David Cook being totally blindsided by something. But at that very moment he might as well have been told that aliens had landed and wanted to take him to play rock concerts on Mars.

“What?” he finally managed to say, clearly numb. “What?”

“Why can’t you?” David repeated. He felt like he couldn’t muster up any new words than the ones he’d already said, so that was all the answer Cook was going to get.

“I… well…” Cook fumbled a second, apparently struggling just to remember how to blink normally. “You’re my best friend.”

“Yeah,” David replied, managing to nod.

“That’s just wrong, isn’t it? I mean, Archie… it’s risky.” Cook paused, looking as serious as David had ever seen him in his entire life.

“How so?” David asked. “Doesn’t that make more sense? And you know I’d never hurt you, never. Not in a million billion years.”

“Archie.” Cook said the word with equal amounts of compassion, love, and sadness, which in turn pierced David’s heart like a spear. “What if it doesn’t work out? It’s like… you can’t go back to awesome friend status. I mean, we can still be awesome friends, but… But it’s not the same. You know that. We’ve both lost good friends that way.”

“Okay,” David conceded, his body slowly numbing over with weird levels of confidence, daring, and also complete fear. “But how do you actually feel?”

It was the question that, upon reflection, had probably been sneaking around the two of them for longer than either would care to admit. New Year’s had been a close call, for example, but ultimately chalked up to alcohol and high emotions. But the expression change on Cook’s face showed how hard hit he was by David’s question, how surprised, and perhaps even how relieved.

“The truth is,” Cook whispered, choking slightly through threat of emotional overload, “I love you, Archie.”

Despite being the brave driver that had forced the hand of this conversation, David sat dazed for a moment, staring into Cook’s watery eyes.

“Really?” David asked softly.

Cook nodded, biting his lip so hard David thought he might chomp right through it. He brought his hand up to his face, swiping his big, rough palm across his eyes.

“Oh my gosh, come here, you big idiot,” David said, managing to smile through the tense atmosphere while tears streamed down his own cheeks. Cook could barely get himself from his chair to the couch without tripping.

The two of them had hugged so many times in their lives it’d be impossible to count, but for sure this hug right now was the first of an entirely new breed. It was the kind of hug that happened between two completely open souls, where trust flowed and relief found its way between them. They sat for a long time holding one another in the silence of their apartment.

“Are you convinced it’ll be okay?” David asked after a bit. “I mean, I admit your concerns about our friendship are valid.”

Cook pulled his face out of David’s shoulder, sniffed, and looked into David’s eyes in a way that was absolutely spellbinding.

“It’ll all turn out,” Cook replied, giving one of his infamous smirks. “If I know you, you’re gonna make me work so we can work to work it out.”

Cook almost couldn’t keep his teary laughter under control as David stared at him in bewilderment.

“Did you… did you just quote Michael Bublé at me?” David asked.

And David Cook -- wonderful, weird, crazy David Cook -- sang his response. Actually sang it as he cradled David’s chin in his palm.

“And I promise you, kid, that I’ll give so much more than I get.” His voice dropped as he leaned into his best friend’s ear. “I just haven’t met you yet.”


~*~
They say all’s fair in love and war
But I won’t need to fight it
We’ll get it right
And we’ll be united

~*~

Comments

( 2 Kisses On The Neck — Win Me Over )
rajkumari905
Jan. 3rd, 2015 05:00 am (UTC)
Ahhhh. Finally got around to reading this from start to finish. Love love love love love! <33333
kissontheneck
Jan. 4th, 2015 04:00 am (UTC)
You are the beeeessstt! :D :D <3 <3 <3
( 2 Kisses On The Neck — Win Me Over )