Late Sunday night, Xavier found himself in a compromising position. Staring wasn't going to help anybody. He was plainly going insane just staring at the damn instrument. So what if he had played it since he was a bored 5-year-old wanting to get his parents to look at him. It had been almost four years since he had touched it, but now, he wanted to grab it. Hoist it into his arms and strum a chord, do scales. Anything. Its melody was going to be too much for him. It would remind him of her. Of course, it would. Everything recently made him miss her. But this was different. The guitar was their thing. It was his way of displaying his feelings for everything in his life to her. And no matter how crappy he was, she would smile and give him her honest feedback. He clenched his fist and closed his eyes.
"Come on Xavier. You lost almost everything good in your life and made yourself into a Type A prick. The least you could do is pick up a part of your past and try to fix all that you've broken. You can do it," he chanted it to himself and wanted to believe it.
A knot formed low in his stomach, his breath shallow. He outstretched his shaking hand and finally wrapped his hand around the cool neck of the guitar. He stared at it and smiled slowly at his bravery. Yet he froze. His arm had locked in its position and wouldn't dare budge now. It's shaking worried him as a bead of sweat ran down the side of his face.
'No...' he thought with vigor, 'I am not a coward. I can do this.' He took a deep breath and steadied his arm. Lifting the guitar up to him, he let out a deep breath. This was improvement. He placed it on his lap and slid his fingers on the strings. He tuned the guitar slowly, the soft melody filling his ears. It was calming for him to be like this. It was his thing. His life itself got in the way. He tapped his fingers against the strings and tried to let the music come to him. A melody burst its way into his mind. It interested him and yet he couldn't pinpoint where he had heard it. His fingers absentmindedly worked the strings. Soon, music, slow and deep, filled his room.
It gave him warmth. It was a feeling he hadn't felt in forever. But it didn't feel complete. He kept playing the song and soon he remembered where it came from. He wrote it for her. He stopped mid chord and held the guitar in place with his elbow. Ruffling his hair, he sighed and looked at the guitar once again. The same day he had played her that song, he kissed her. And for her it wasn't just any kiss. It was her first. He wondered if she still remembered that or if she even held it in some regard. He knew he did. Her song was played with the utmost care and moments later, they shared one of life's many treasures. A kiss. Oh God. What was he doing to himself? Memory lane was a closed business. If he could, he would have found a way to give Rainey a sign that he still felt the same. Before he lost himself completely, there was a knock on his door. He wanted to feel irritated but he was strangely thankful for whoever had pulled him from his past. Yet the second he let the person into his room, he regretted it and wished he was back in his painful memories, not confronting part of it.
Parker Warren had always been worthy competition. When they were younger, summers spent with the two boys were always tough. They necessarily didn't dislike each other. They just wanted the same things and sadly, life didn't allow them to have what they wanted. They bickered left and right at every little comment the other had said. When they went to the same summer camps, they would each aim for the top spot. Some summers, Parker would fall to the lowly second place. Others, Xavier would have the honors. They gave every activity their all because at the end of the day, all that mattered was who was the winner. Their mentality lasted until now. Parker and Xavier were talented beyond reason when it came to athletics. They never bragged, that would be their downfall. But they did give the other signs that they were in the lead. Maybe it was their closeness in age or even the fact that they were both boys. These two were competitors to the simplest definition.
Now, as Xavier stood with the door gaping wide, Parker stood opposite to him, leaning against the doorframe. If it hadn't been for Parker's stormy gaze, Xavier would have thought Parker would have wanted to catch up. Maybe chat about how he was close to becoming the winner once and for all. Each of them sized up the other. Both were tall, almost reaching the top of the doorframe. They were handsome in their own ways. With his dark, chocolate-like hair and sky blue eyes, Xavier was what many expected to be attractive. Parker's unruly auburn hair and hazel eyes were different, but irresistible in the eyes of many. One was moody and brash. The other laid back and personable. The two of them were antonyms from the moment they met each other. And yet their only similar trait was their choice in first loves. The one girl who made both of them a different person for all the right reasons.
Xavier pursed his lips and motioned for the man opposite to him to enter into his humble abode. Parker smirked and shoved his hands into his pockets, taking one large step into the room. With a quick thud, Xavier knew Parker was sitting on his bed. Xavier stared out the door for a few moments and took a deep breath. Shutting the door in front of him, he braced himself to face the one guy that made him wish he was allowed to be violent. He turned and looked the other being straight in the eye. His gaze never faltered as it clashed with Parker's.
"I know you put the flowers in her locker, Xavier," Parker's voice was strong. His tone wasn't condemning nor was it angry. It felt as if Parker were just stating the obvious. As if the whole world was in on the secret and there was no point in him acting like it was a secret. Xavier wanted to play down the truth and make Parker feel like he had everything wrong, but he knew better than that.
"Do you really think one bouquet of flowers is gonna solve anything? And to make it better, you stole the card to it, so that no one else would see it? I never thought you were that much of a loser, Xavier," Parker's words were as cold as ice.
If Xavier had any bit of his heart intact, he would have felt something sharp clawing its way through, but he knew better. He opened his mouth to defend himself but Parker beat him to the punch.
"Do you have any idea at all what you've done to her?" Yes, yes he had. And he lived everyday pretending as if he didn't.
"Do you even realize what you were to her?" Basically her world, just as he had heard her say many times.
By this point, Parker's voice was raising, his eyes glowing with distaste, "Do you know how many times a day she thinks about you? And sadly, I'm still talking in present tense." Now this was new. His heart did a quick step in its cavern and he crossed his arms over his chest for fear that the quick steps were going to become thuds. Why was Parker here telling him this when he had already won her heart?
"Say something!" Parker growled and Xavier knew he had won this battle.
"Look, Parker. You're probably here out of common courtesy, or guilt, or whatever you goody two-shoes' usually do. Other people's lives are not part of your business. If she wants to talk to me, it isn't like I went that far. I've always been across the street. Now just go back to your girlfriend and tell her to stop sending in her troops to do her dirty work." Xavier drew in all the anger and rejection he had felt for the last years into 5 quick sentences. He went the rude path, trying to avoid talk of his feelings or if he still missed her or anything to show emotion.
Parker eyed him thoughtfully and Xavier knew that his facade had been breached. Of course Parker had been able to see what was really going on. They both lived to find the other's weaknesses. What he didn't expect was Parker to give him a lazy grin, one full of triumph.
"Admit it, Entraire. The fact that I'm with Rainey sends you into a fit of jealousy and straight up heartache. Not that's gonna stop me from being with her." His smile was predatory and Xavier clenched his fists against his chest for fear of punching it right off his face. Hearing her name for the first time in this conversation had made this ten times worse.
"Save it Warren. The last thing I need is to have you telling me what I should feel. You deserve her. Both of you have no clue what's going on and look at life through your rose-colored glasses." Once again on attack mode, he narrowed his eyes on Parker who still wore his intimidating grin.
"It's always good to know, I have your blessing to be with the only girl I've ever loved. But at the same time, I kinda feel bad for you man. I mean, you did get her lilacs and all that. By the way, did you know what lilacs stand for? They mean 'do you still love me?'. How cheesy is that? Add the fact that Rain is a hopeless romantic, those are her favorite flowers, and those together are the lethal products for a woman to fall in love. Thanks man, you're really giving me the lead here. Sooner or later, she'll be falling into my arms like putty." Parker's taunting was almost too much to take. Xavier was ready to grab him by the collar and scream that he was always going to be second place, never first. Instead, he chuckled. His dry, dark, lifeless chuckle that was humorless to boot. Two could play at this game.
"Go for it. It's always good to share with the needy. And why not hand over my sloppy seconds to someone who truly needs to feel like they've won? There's nothing better than handing over your old toys," Xavier smirked and held his contesting gaze with a quirked eyebrow. To Parker's credit, his gaze never faltered.
"It's you I should be thanking. If it weren't for the fact that you like to screw things up, I wouldn't be where I am. I wouldn't be back in Riverton. I wouldn't living in the Bowman's house. I wouldn't have such a beautiful, addictive girlfriend. So thanks for being a screw up, Xavier. It's really worked out for me."
Okay. Deep breaths. Count to ten before you open your mouth again with a comeback that'll cut deeper than any physical pain. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Oh fuck it all. He lunged and gave Parker one hard swing to the jaw. He saw the way his head tilted to the side and listened as a mini groan invaded the air.
"Look here, Warren. If it was up to me, I would have no problem grabbing Rainey from you, but we're at a standstill. I ruined her life the second I walked into Riverton High, thinking I wanted a change. I lost my best friend, sure. But if I'm honest, I lost more than that. I lost the only other person in the world who understood that I am the way I am. She never questioned me if I were having an off day. She would just be there to make it better. And yes, the fact that you drove into town and changed things is definitely going to be something to consider. I don't make her happy anymore. You do. So if that's what you're looking for, you got it. Don't forget to shut the door on your way out." He had never felt as invigorated than he had in that exact moment. Yet at the same time, he felt weak. His pride was definitely being bruised. Admitting something that had to do with his feelings out loud was more painful than what he imagined being shot would have been like.
Parker's face mellowed. He didn't have a conceited smirk like he had when he first entered. It probably had to do with the fact that he had been attacked by surprised. Xavier felt little sympathy for the guy. Besides from the fact that his lip was busted and the lower part of his face was red, Parker looked fine. He stood from the bed and came head-to-head with Xavier.
"Didn't know you would have it in you to hit me, Entraire." Back was the mocking tone and smug smirk. The guy just wanted to have a shiner to one of his eyes to match that cut lip of his. He was practically begging for it. "I have it in me to do just about everything by this point, Parker. You bring out the worst in me." Xavier cracked a smile. A real one.
Parker pulled back his own smirk and traded it in for his charming grin that made Xavier want to puke. The guy kept adding things to the list of reasons why he didn't deserve to be a human being. Parker walked to open the door, but stopped at his hand touched the doorknob.
"Why are you doing this to yourself? You obviously still love her. What's stopping you?" Xavier heard the words crystal clear and knew this wasn't the time to joke. Both of them stood back-to-back, about two feet in distance from the other. If someone had been looking in at this situation, they would have seen two boys, their heads down in defeat. They were juxtaposed, antonyms. Yet in that moment they were both vulnerable. Deeply vulnerable that they used crude words and jokes that aimed deep for the heart as it gave them comfort to see someone else in pain. And now it was all down to that one last answer to seal the deal.
Sing Me That Lullaby - Chapter Twenty NineSurprises all around.
By Jasmine S