//Growing up and living in Pelican Town is so pointless. Nothing to do, nobody cares, and it's just you and your friends. Sebastian is bored and tired of all of this and could really use something -or someone- to help him find the brighter side of things. Just a small one-shot of Sam and Sebastian, NOT set in the R&S "universe" I've been writing. I just needed a bit of fluff, and have had this particular scene in mind for half year now. Enjoy. // Things never got any better, and they always managed to get worse. It was early fall, so it wasn’t quite as hot as it could be, but summer was very firmly having a fight with the new season for dominance, and having been around a bit longer, was a little better at it. Sebastian lay on his back in the meager shade provided by one of the trees at the lakeside, one hand under his head and the other holding a cigarette that he held to his lips every now and then. Despite the warmth, he still wore his ever-present black hoodie, which while slightly faded and ragged with age, was still comfortable and serviceable. Besides, it had been a birthday gift from Sam, and he liked it. It was one of the few things that he liked, really. Okay, that was melodramatic and all, but still, there wasn’t much anymore that Sebastian liked. He didn’t really hate anything, it’s just that he couldn’t think of anything that made him happy. What was “happiness,” anyway? He didn’t feel sad, but that’s not being happy, that’s just an absence of pain. Hunh, an absence of something, that was it. Now that he thought about it, he hadn’t felt anything in a long time, either. Just…kinda empty and numb. He was there, and he was doing things, and things were happening to him, but he couldn’t recall anything in a long time that had elicited an emotional response from him. Maybe he didn’t have any emotions left; dealing with Demetrius and his shit all the time, as well as everyone’s constant disapproval and need to meddle had just left him feeling wiped out. Being an introvert didn’t help, and even worse, people didn’t seem to understand what that meant. They all thought it meant that he liked being alone and hated human contact, and he was just too damn tired to correct them, because it’s not like they were going to listen anyway. He did like being around people, but it was certain people, for certain things, and for certain reasons. Being around others took energy, and since he didn’t have much as it was, he didn’t like wasting it unless it was really important. People like Sam were extroverts, people who got energy from being around others, and strangely enough, Sebastian didn’t mind him around. He actually listened, funny enough. He could tell when Sebastian had had enough of being social but didn’t exactly want to be alone, and just hung around, listening to music or reading comics or something. Sighing and blowing out a thin stream of smoke, Sebastian stared at the sky through the sparse leaves of the tree. Sam was a good friend, maybe more than that, but what was more than “friend?” He wrinkled his nose as he thought about that. There had to be other words, but probably in other languages, though, since most people thought that anything beyond “friend” was “girl-“ or “boy-friend,” and it wasn’t quite that. …Was it? …Nah. Still, beyond Sam, and Abigail, too, he supposed, he didn’t really hang out or get along with anyone. They just didn’t understand, and it was so frustrating. They weren’t stupid, he knew that, they could understand, they just didn’t try. It’s like nobody in town thought something was “real” unless they could see and touch it. Maru’s inventions, which didn’t always work, always brought awe and applause. His code, which he would spend days, even weeks working on, teasing out every last bug and error, always generated flat stares of confusion. He would try to explain, describing library calls and how incorrect punctuation could completely destroy the program or referencing the wrong pointer and… All he ever got was blank looks, and sometimes, polite nods as they tried to steer the subject toward something more interesting. Taking another drag off of his cigarette, his thoughts shifted as he heard the sound of footsteps on the dirt path. He recognized the casual, light stride of his friend, and waved the hand with the cigarette in lazy greeting. “Hey, Sam.” “’Sup, Seb.” “Chilling.” “Cool.” Without any other words, Sam strolled over, flopped down near him in the sun, and sprawled out, resting his weight on his hands behind him. This was exactly what he’d been thinking about; Sam recognized that he wanted a bit of introspective time, but didn’t mind company, so while he was there, he was also giving him his space. Okay, so maybe things didn’t always get worse, this wasn’t so bad. For a few minutes neither of them said anything; Sebastian finishing his cigarette, and Sam enjoying the sunshine, smiling to himself. Yeah, this wasn’t so bad. It made the emptiness bearable. As much as he preferred keeping to himself, he didn’t like being alone with his thoughts that much lately. They were getting, well, he wasn’t sure. Not “dark” or “dangerous,” but he didn’t feel that they were exactly good. He was pretty sure that they weren’t healthy, at the least, but then, he also didn’t really care. Why should he? Nobody else did. He always tried and busted his ass, and all he ever got for it was either bored indifference or a polite nod, often with a whisper of “what a nerd” when they thought he wasn’t listening. He always listened, mostly because nobody else ever did. Sam did, though, and he actually cared. Sebastian liked that, that’s why he liked him. …But how did he like him? That was another place where language failed him, maybe he should have taken foreign languages as well as coding ones. He sighed again and flicked the last of the ash off of the spent butt, sitting up and reaching into his pocket for something to wrap it in to discard later. He wasn’t one of those people, who just threw it on the ground and walked away. Sam noticed this and flashed him one of his “thousand-watt” grins. “Still wanna chill?” Sebastian sighed again, considering this as he crossed his legs to sit a bit more comfortably, put his elbows on his knees, and his chin in his hands. “Yeah. I guess.” This was a little different than his usual relaxed and bored air, and Sam picked up on it immediately. “What’s up, dude? Wanna talk about it, or you just good with the quiet?” “I’m…” He frowned and sighed again, deeply. “I dunno. Just noise in my head.” He scratched his nose and tried to think, to untangle the strings of thought that had become wadded and knotted together. “Just… Shit, I dunno. Been feeling a little off lately, it’s hard to put it into words.” The smile faded and was replaced with a look of concern, and Sam shifted his position to mimic Sebastian’s. “Well, if you wanna talk, I’m here, and if you don’t wanna talk, just want to say it to get it off of your chest, well, I’m just here and might hear it, right?” This was one of the many reasons Sebastian liked him as a friend, he always knew what to say, he knew how he thought. A lot of people would press him to open up or try to offer useless advice or something, but Sam knew that now and then a person just needed to say things, to have them heard and out of their heads, either to make sense of them or just to get them the hell out. They did that a lot for each other; not actually talking so much as just being a listener that happened to be there while the other person voiced what was on their mind. Staring at the ground, Sebastian drummed his fingers on his jaw as he found the end of one of those strings and tugged. “I can’t really remember the last time I felt anything. Happy or sad or even bored. I’m just kinda there. A bit empty. I’m doing stuff because whatever, why not? It’s better than sitting on my ass moping about and doing nothing, but I kinda don’t know why I even bother trying. It’s not like I’ve got a future or anything going for me.” “Hunh?” Sam asked, about to query further, but caught himself. “Crap, sorry, I was supposed to be listening.” “No, s’okay, just…” Sebastian grimaced as he tugged further on that thread, hoping to draw out a coherent thought from the skein of his mind. “So I can do some coding and stuff. And I can do a bit of work on my bike. Cool. But…so what? I’m only a hobbyist mechanic, I can’t see myself doing that as a job, and I’ve gotten some good cash for the software I’ve written, but I dunno if that’s what I wanna do forever, or if I even can. Tech changes fast, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up. Besides, it’s not like I’ll actually accomplish something.” He sighed again, even more deeply than last time, and drew his knees up to his chest, hugging them. “And with all the shit I get at home I might as well just go away or something. Nobody’s gonna miss me.” “I’d miss you,” Sam replied, and Sebastian gave him a surprised look. “Well, I would,” he stated, looking unusually serious, “you’re my best friend and I…” It was his turn to sigh as he ran his hand through his hair, messing up the carefully-spiked hair. “I’m worried about you, Seb.” Sebastian blinked and regarded Sam with a look of confusion. “Why? I’m not being an ass about it, I just don’t get it.” “You’re… You’ve been even quieter than usual. On nights when we’re playing pool with Abby you don’t say much anymore, and on Solarian nights it doesn’t seem like your heart is in it, y’know? And what you said just now. You can’t remember the last time you felt anything. You’re not one of those whiny emo shits from back in high school looking for drama and attention. You’ve always been laid-back and chill, but… This worries me.” He shifted uncomfortably and flicked his gaze to some point in the middle of the lake. “And I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d miss you. I want you here, dude.” “Why? I just said I’ve got nothing going for me, and there’s nothing that’s interesting about me and... I’m so empty.” He heaved another long sigh. “I’m just so tired…” Yup, there it was, things getting worse again. Not that he could feel it, he just knew it. Great, and he was shitting on Sam’s day, too. Nice going. He looked up when he noticed Sam move, and the other man sat down next to him, now looking worried. “Dude, talk to me. I don’t wanna be up in your business, but I’m your friend.” Sebastian picked at the fabric of his jeans, still looking for the words he wanted. “I… I don’t need a friend. I’m not saying I don’t want you here or as a friend, I’m just… Shit, I don’t know what it is, something different, but I don’t know what.” “…More than a friend?” “Yeah. I guess, but I don’t know what to call it.” He felt Sam put a hand over his own and felt a small jolt of surprise, then a tiny rush of warmth. Wait, the hell? Sam saw his face and pulled his hand away, apologizing, but Sebastian shook his head. “No, not that, I… Do that again.” That was weird. He felt something, that hadn’t happened in a long time, and it was weird. Weird, but…welcome? Hesitating for a moment, Sam reached over again and closed his hand around his friend’s, and Sebastian looked at them thoughtfully. “That… That’s nice. I like that. That hasn’t happened in… I dunno.” It had been so long since he’d had emotions that this was strange enough to be puzzling. The more he thought about it, yeah, he did like that. Now that he thought about it, too, when was the last time he’d had any physical contact? That was supposed to be healthy for a person, some kind of hierarchy of needs, right? Well, he’d never been much for hugs and stuff anyway, so really, it wasn’t a surprise that he’d forgotten what something simple like that felt like. Sam squeezed his hand and released it to put an arm around him, again hesitating as he glanced at his friend for permission. Nodding, Sebastian leaned into him and rested his head on his shoulder as he felt Sam’s fingers curl around his own on the other side. Yeah, this was nice. He didn’t like the heat or summer or any of that stuff, but Sam was warm in a nice way. So was his jacket; denim didn’t look like a terribly comfortable material for a jacket, but then, they both wore jeans, and that was comfy, so why wouldn’t a jacket? Curious, he ran a thumb over the material of Sam’s jeans, wondering if it was the same. It was. Had he coordinated it or was it accidental? Knowing Sam, it could go either way. He sighed once more, and noticed that Sam wore cologne. Wait, no, that was deodorant. It was nice though, clean. His arm felt weird the way it was, so he shifted a little to put it around Sam’s waist. There, that was a bit better, he was starting to get a cramp. For a few minutes they sat silently while Sebastian processed the sensation of “feelings” again. He had needed this, and he wondered how Sam knew. A lot of people saw him as just an ADHD doofus, but he was a lot more clever and observant than other people realized. Most of it was a front, and Sebastian saw and knew it. He understood why; people were more likely to underestimate you and just leave you alone. Sebastian almost wished that he were strong enough to be able to wear that sort of mask. “Hey, Seb…” Sam began, but trailed off. At a curious hum from his friend, he started over. “You said, ‘more than a friend.’ So…” Shrugging with indecision, Sebastian continued to trace random patterns on Sam’s jeans with his thumb. “I dunno. Something…closer? Or more understanding? You’re… You’re not quite a brother, but I’m not sure ‘cause I’ve got a sister and we don’t ever get along.” He felt the quirk of a smile tug at the corner of his lips as Sam chuckled but said nothing. “You’re just…there. I like that. I kinda need it. A goal?” He wrinkled his nose and shook his head. “You make me want to go out and do stuff and not just rot in that basement. I want to be…better.” He shifted a little to glance at him. “What does it mean to you? You sounded like you wanted to say the same thing.” Strangely, Sam almost looked embarrassed. Shit, had he said the wrong thing again? Sam bit his lip and pulled Sebastian a little closer in a small hug. “I…kinda want the same. And think it. You’re smart as hell and you bust your ass even when everyone gives you crap about what you do, and that makes me wanna do better at what I’m doing, too. I like being around you, like this. But I kinda want…more…” This was weird, too, but not necessarily bad. Sebastian just wasn’t sure what he meant by this, and felt another rush of surprise as Sam reached over with his other hand to turn his head so that their foreheads touched. This was nice, too. Feelings, emotions… Sebastian hadn’t had any of them in such a long time, and now he was having them all at once! It would have been overwhelming if it wasn’t so confusing. He didn’t understand what any of them meant, so for the time being he just enjoyed the novelty of feeling something other than nothing. Sam’s hand was warm on his face, and he relaxed into both points of contact as the other man sought his words again. “I’m worried about you, Seb, I really am. You mean a lot to me, and seeing you all empty and cold and…depressed… It scares me. I don’t know what to do for you or how to help and that hurts. But I don’t wanna screw up what we have and have you push me away.” “Wait, what?” Why did nice things have to be so confusing? “Screw what up?” Once more, he was unusual in that he was quiet and somber. “Seb, I like you.” “I like you too, what’s that-“ “No,” Sam interrupted, “I like you. You know, more than…” He sounded a bit crestfallen, like something should have happened but it didn’t. What did he- …Oh. Wait, that was it. He felt Sam start to pull away but put a hand over the one on his face and studied his friend with a thoughtful look. He’d had a few minutes to sort through these emotions, now that they were more than just new and long-unused sensations. What did he feel about Sam? He was funny, cheerful, thoughtful, and most of all, observant. He’d said the word that Sebastian had discarded a long time ago, thinking it was just him being an emo dipshit: depressed. Yeah, he was. Really thinking about it, and everything he did and how he thought, and for how long, he had been depressed. Not in that drama-queen “oh things just aren’t going how I wanted” nonsense. All of the tangled threads began to weave together properly and neatly now, and the fabric that it made felt like a warm blanket in his mind. “…I think I do, too.” Yeah, he did. Sam’s warm smile of relief gave him another new feeling; something strange and tingly but it was nice, he liked that. He shuddered pleasantly as Sam traced soft fingers over his ear. That felt weird! It was good, yeah, but he hadn’t expected it, or for it to feel that nice. He asked Sam to do that again, and- Yeah, same thing. He didn’t know he liked that. But again, he almost always avoided physical contact of any sort, so anything this intimate was- -Wait. Intimate? That was- …It was, wasn’t it? Then that meant… Again, Sam looked a little hesitant. “Can… Can I…?” The way he was leaning a bit closer, how his fingers traced slowly down his chin, Sebastian had a good idea of what he meant. He thought about it for a moment and nodded. Sam paused again, waiting just a second more to be certain that it was what they both wanted, then held Sebastian’s chin in place to lean in and kiss him. …Wow… This was good. He liked this, the way it felt, they way it made him feel. He could feel now, that was new. At the same time, he was a little worried that it was just a passing fancy of sorts, a momentary euphoria of being able to experience something new. But the more he thought about it the more he realized he needed to stop thinking about it and just enjoy the moment. He always overthought everything, he needed to be more like Sam, just doing something. Like this. He’d never have had the courage to ask him on his own. Hell, now that he thought about it, he almost never initiated anything, it was always Abby and Sam who suggested stuff. He didn’t mind it, they always thought of fun and interesting things to do and places to go, but it occurred to him that they must think him a total dead weight, always relying on them for everything. Just dragging him along so that he wouldn’t be alone. Sam pulled back, a little flushed, and gave a hesitant chuckle. “Um, I’m kinda new at that, so if it was crap-“ “Shut up and do that again,” Sebastian laughed, the broke out laughing harder once he realized what he was doing. Laughter! When was the last time that he’d experienced that? And something so honest and hearty? Sam echoed it, pulling him over so that he was straddling his lap so that he could better hug him. Now simmering down to just chuckles, Sebastian put his arms around his friend’s neck and leaned into him, enjoying the solid warmth that he provided, as well as the secure, comforting arms around him. He liked this, all of this. Remembering the demand he’d made just a moment earlier, he sat back a little so that he could kiss Sam again, and found the second time to be much better. They were both completely inexperienced, but they were caught up in the moment and relieved that they’d found something in each other and themselves that they didn’t know was there earlier. “You’re smiling,” Sam remarked, and for once his own was soft and warm, not bright and electric. Thinking about it for a moment, Sebastian realized that he was right, he was actually smiling, and found that weird as well. It was a good weird, too, but damn if he could remember the last time that that had happened. “Yeah, I am. I’ve got a good reason to,” he replied, leaning forward again to bump his forehead against Sam’s, “this was just…you know?” “Yeah.” They sat there for a little while longer until Sebastian’s stomach reminded him that he hadn’t eaten yet, and the single cup of coffee he’d had was wearing off. “Hey, wanna go in and have a snack and go back down to my room? I got a new game and I think it’s co-op.” The brilliant, face-splitting grin returned, giving Sebastian another funny feeling inside that he grabbed onto and held fiercely. Feelings! He stood up, offered Sam a hand up, and they dusted off their jeans. Walking back to the house, Sam reached out cautiously and brushed his fingers against Sebastian’s hand. He was rewarded with his friend lacing the fingers of their hands together and gently body-checking him in a walking bro-hug. “Hey, Seb.” “Hmm?” “Abby’s totally gonna find out soon, isn’t she?” “Yeah.” “You don’t care, do you?” “Nope.” “Heh. “ “…Hey, Sam.” “Hmm?” “…Thanks…” There was no need for questions or confusion. This was why Sebastian liked him. More than just liked him; he was a bit of a goofball and a pain in the ass, but he watched and listened, and when it came down to it, he always knew just what to do and say. …Maybe… Maybe things didn’t always get worse. Sometimes, just rarely, things could actually get better.