Hate Me


Matt found himself alone when he woke up the next morning, and after a brief moment of panic, he found a note taped on the bedroom door that reminded him of why he was on his own. He crumpled the paper in his hands as he trudged towards the kitchen and attempted to shoot it into the trash can as he entered the doorway. His mouth twisted into a grimace as the note landed more than a foot away from its target.

He left it where it landed as he strode to the refrigerator, swinging its doors open so that he could scan the contents inside. He had never been much of a cook before he was forced onto the streets, and what little he knew how to do then had mostly escaped his mind, so he settled on frozen waffles. His chances of messing that up were lower than messing up anything else he could find.

His mouth and stomach both found great pleasure in the meal, and he ended up making more when he finished the two he’d started with, only stopping when his stomach began to ache. He found himself thankful for the sweatpants once the pain began. His jeans would have only made it worse.

Plate in the sink, he made the decision to look around the apartment while he had a chance to do so without someone looking over his shoulder and judging him. Not that he expected Brian to judge; Brian tended to stay nonjudgmental in most cases, but Matt had gotten too used to the judging looks he’d received over the past few years. He wouldn’t be able to shake the feeling easily.

The living area of the apartment was decent sized for an apartment. Nothing too big, but it wasn’t small either. Furniture was spaced evenly across the floor: a couch, a chair, and a couple of tables. A large plasma screen TV was mounted on one of the walls while a cable box and DVD player were positioned on top of a cabinet underneath it. Although he didn’t look inside, Matt was pretty sure an assortment of discs stood hidden behind the doors. A floor lamp stood in one corner of the area joined by a table lamp next to the couch. Two windows were positioned on opposite ends of the far wall, curtains pulled back to let in the sunlight.

Matt threw himself onto the couch, almost causing beer to slosh all over the fabric, and grabbed the remote off of the table in front of him. His finger passed over the buttons as he tried to learn the controls before searching for something to watch. The number of channels to choose from blew his mind, but even more mind boggling was the fact that he couldn’t find anything that captured his attention. He almost threw the remote at the wall in frustration, only suppressing the urge when he reminded himself that he shouldn’t push his host’s hospitality.

Reluctantly turning the TV to a sports channel, he brought the beer can to his lips and poured a large amount down his throat. His eyes scanned over the room while he did so and froze on a picture frame positioned on an end table next to the couch. He placed the can on the table in front of him and reached out with his other hand to snatch the frame off of the table. He blinked disbelievingly at the photo, mind going blank.

Three people smiled at the camera, one of them being him. His appearance was drastically different, hair short, and his body more muscular. Hazel eyes shined much brighter, but there was still a reserved dullness hidden inside them. Even his smile wasn’t completely genuine as he wrapped his arms around the other two. Brian stood to his right, hair slightly shorter than it was currently and the sides unshaven. His eyes and smile were wide and bright and one hundred percent genuine, as if he was unaware of the bad surrounding him, and one hand rested on the shoulder of the girl sitting in front of them.

He felt his heart tug when he looked at the dirty blonde teenager. Her hair was mussed, having been ruffled by Brian just before the picture was taken, and several strands fell in front of her face. Her hazel eyes, the exact shade that Matt’s were, were wide and sparkling, and her teeth were bared by her smile. And even though he knew she was happier in that moment than any other point in her life, he could still see the discomfort. He could make out the dark circles under eyes and the tense set of her jaw. She leaned into the touch of the two males, their hands and the back of the chair being the only things to hold her in an upright position.

Matt snapped his eyes away from her, focusing on the table in front of her as he swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat. Directly in front Rayna sat a two layer cake cloaked in pink fondant. Black icing formed curlicues in various spots, and a large black 17 was poised on top. A couple of wrapped presents sat on the table along with the cake, though none were as attention grabbing as the cake.

Unable to stop himself, Matt looked back at his photographed sister, his thumb stroking over her face. He lost himself for a moment in the memories, and when the tears started to form, he struggled to free himself from the hold that had overtaken him. He threw the frame facedown into the cushion of the couch, hand flying towards the half empty can in a frantic attempt to pour the remaining beverage down his throat. With the can emptied, he stormed back to the fridge and took out another beer. His fingers fumbled to lift the metal tab, and he fell to his knees before he could accomplish the task. The can hit the floor with a thud and rolled away from him as he brought his hands to hold his head. He let out a pained shout as his body began to tremble, and he began to bang his head against the refrigerator door.

A strangled sob wracked through his body involuntarily, as his actions ceased as he succumbed to the grief. Tears poured down his cheeks, dropping down onto his lap once they passed over his jaw line. His chest ached to the point that if he wasn’t already used to the sensation he would swear he was having a heart attack. Shaky hands passed through his hair as he clawed at his scalp out of sheer desperation to end the emotional pain that seemed to smother him in that moment. He’d give anything to end it all.

He found himself unable to move or even unable to stop crying. He was still hunkered in the exact same position when a door opened and footsteps entered the apartment. He couldn’t even lift his head as they grew closer; the only thing he found himself capable of was silencing the sobs, though they didn’t stop completely.

“Matt?” He felt a presence appear next to him, and in his peripheral he saw Brian’s form kneeling beside him. Hands moved to rest gently on his shoulders, careful not to apply too much pressure. “What’s wrong? Are you hurt?” The painstakingly obvious concern threw Matt over the edge, and he let out a cry that pierced his own ears, his throat becoming raw with the sheer force behind it.

Arms wrapped around him astonishingly fast, pulling him into a hard, warm chest. Matt’s fingers grasped as the hem of the gray scrubs Brian wore, and he buried his face in the fabric. Brian didn’t seem to mind the fact that his shirt was soaked with tears, didn’t seem to notice at all as he rubbed the other man’s back and murmured reassuring words. He didn’t push Matt, something that Matt was grateful for, and after a while, he eventually fell silent, choosing to offer a physical comfort instead of a verbal one.

They sat like that for over an hour, bodies entwined. Brian rested his head against the refrigerator, opening his eyes after Matt fell completely silent. Matt didn’t acknowledge him as Brian pulled a cell phone out of his pants pocket and dialed a number. He didn’t look up even when Brian began to talk to the person on the other line, telling them that he was going to have to miss the last half of his shift because something came up, a family emergency. The memory of the last time Matt heard that phrase caused another urge of sadness to punch him in the gut.

“Matt? Can we move? My ass is starting to hurt and not in the good way.” It was a clear attempt to lighten the mood, but Matt couldn’t bring himself to laugh, could barely bring himself to nod his head. He pushed himself off of the shorter male’s frame, the loss of warmth sending a chill through him. They stood simultaneously, and Brian watched with concerned eyes as Matt bent over to grab the beer he’d abandoned hours ago. He popped the tab and drained the warm liquid down his throat. His eyes shut as a minor wave of repulsion washed over him, but he didn’t complain. Instead, he opened his eyes again and followed Brian towards the living area.

He made sure to keep a wide berth between him and the picture that still laid on the couch cushion. Brian, noticing the pained glare Matt was giving, looked in the direction of Matt’s gaze, his eyes landing on the upside down frame. He walked over to the couch, picking up the frame and examining it. A tiny smile played at his lips, and he made an amused snort as his fingers traced over the glass.

“This was the year we got her that piece of shit car for her birthday,” he commented, his gaze glued to the photo. He sounded so far away, even his eyes looked distant. “Remember?”

“Yeah.” His voice was stiff, practically a monotone, and that surprised him because he sure didn’t feel like that on the inside. Brian was oblivious, finding himself as wrapped up in the memories as Matt had earlier.

“Still can’t believe she was as excited as she was about it. I wouldn’t have been. That car was horrible.” Matt couldn’t help but to agree, but that was the best he could get her. Even with Brian chipping in and paying half, they could only a 1983 Monte Carlo that had more wrong with it than good, and despite the problems or its horrendous appearance, Rayna had been as excited as if they’d presented her with a brand new Ferrari. That had been enough to make them feel less guilty for getting her such a rundown gift for her birthday.

“Ray’s weird like that.”

“Yeah, definitely.” Finally forcing himself to look away from the picture, Brian sought out Matt, and his smile disappeared when he noticed the restrained pain on the other man’s face. “I’m sorry. You want me to put them away?”

“Please.” The desperation was thick, almost completely covering the emotional turmoil that spilled out as well when he uttered the plea. Brian complied and collected the various photos scattered around the room, stuffing the frames in a drawer to keep them out of view.

“Alright, they’re gone,” he announced as he sat down on the couch. He patted the cushion next to him in silent invitation, and Matt accepted easily, finding himself up against the other man’s side. One of Brian’s tattooed arms wrapped around his shoulders, pulling him closer, and Matt curled his legs up on the couch beside him as he rested his head on Brian’s chest. The familiarity of the position brought a sense of comfort to him, especially when Brian’s fingers stroked his hair, and he shut his eyes as he focused on the physical contact in an attempt to clear his mind. It worked, the same as it had in the past. Brian had a reassuring presence that Matt cherished.

“Come on.” A pat to his shoulders as well as the sudden statement caused Matt’s eyes to snap open, and as he leaned back to look up at the man holding him, Brian pushed himself off of the couch before pulling Matt with him.

“What are we doing?” Matt asked warily as Brian dragged him towards the hallway.

“Well, first we’re going to find something of you to wear, and then I’m taking you shopping. You’re in desperate need of some new clothes.”

“What’s the point? I’m going to be on the streets again anyway.”

“If you really think I’m about to leave you out there on your own again, you don’t know me at all. And that hurts because we’ve known each other since we were what? Fifteen?”

“Yeah, I think.”

“So that’s been about sixteen years of knowing each other. I haven’t changed in the last five years just so you know. Not that drastically.” He sent playfully offended look over his shoulder, but his eyes gave away the façade. “You, however, I’m not so sure of. That judgment will be made at a later date.” They walked into Brian’s bedroom, and Matt moved to sit on the edge of the bed as Brian sorted through his closet. Brian fell silent as he immersed himself in his search, and Matt couldn’t bring himself to start a conversation.

“Why are you doing this?” he asked, unable to hold back any longer as jeans were tossed onto his lap. Brian’s back was still turned to him, and he didn’t bother to even look at him when he answered.

“With our history? That should be self explanatory. I’d be a grade A douchebag if I didn’t do this. Besides, Ray would kick my ass to hell and back and then back again if I didn’t take you in and get you back on your feet. Now try on those damn jeans. They don’t have to be super comfortable or anything since we’re getting you new stuff. Just make sure they’re not too tight in the crotchular region.” A brow lifted as the made up word, and if it hadn’t been for an intimidating glare, Matt would have said something teasing in response.

Left with no other choice, Matt pushed himself off of the bed and stripped, the sweatpants pooling around his feet as they dropped to the floor. He stepped aside and into one pair of jeans that he instantly ditched the moment he felt resistance. The discarded jeans were thrown aside in favor for a second pair. He settled for the fourth pair in the end, but one glance downward brought a complaint to his lips.

“They’re too short,” he stated gloomily as his bottom lip jutted out in a pout. Brian turned towards him, his gaze assessing the jeans for a brief moment before snapping towards Matt’s face. His thin lips lifted into an amused smirk, and he shook his head.

“You’ll live, Eeyore.” He chuckled as Matt sent him a sharp look, but the pout still remained despite the offense taken. “It’s only a couple of inches. If you’re not a fan of the high water look, you can bust a sag. That’s still a thing. Pretty sure there’s still men our age that do it.”

“That’ll look ridiculous.”

“Hate to break it to you, but you’re going to look ridiculous no matter what. I’ll try not to make too many jokes at your expense.”

“I’m not going to bother thanking you.” Brian only offered him a shrug before completely ignoring him again.

“You can thank me later then. I’m cool with that. Just as long as you shower me with praise.”

“Dream on.”

“Don’t have to. You’ll be doing it later. Now give these a try.” Shirts were dropped into his hands, and Brian stepped back with arms crossed.

“You going to keep staring at me like that?”

“Self conscious? It’s kind of late for that seeing that you’ve been going around half naked since you pretty much got here last night. And that was by choice.” Matt ducked his head as a flush rose to his cheeks, earning a chuckle.

“Shut up.”

“Just try on the shirts so we can get out of here. The stores aren’t open forever, and we’ve still got to pick Rayna up from the vet.” There was a faint, underlying urgency to his words despite the easygoing way he spoke. That urgency caused Matt to pick up one of the shirts and hold it in front of him, his mouth twisting into a grimace as he did the same to the others.

“They’re too small.”

“You haven’t even tried them on!”

“Don’t have to. They’re the same size as the one you gave me last night.”

“Try it on anyway. You’ve got to wear something, and I haven’t gotten a chance to wash your clothes. I’ll force it on you if I have to.” With a muttered curse, Matt sulkily slipped the cotton long sleeved t-shirt he held over his head, his arms finding their way through the sleeves. His grimace became more pronounced as he tugged at the shirt in an attempt to loosen the fabric’s hold on him, but the shirt clung to his form despite the effort, refusing to let him go.

“It’s too tight,” Matt stated, his eyes pleading. Brian seemed immune to the pitiful stare, shaking his head and informing Matt that the shirt would do.

“Look, you just have to wear it until I buy you a shirt that fits, okay?” he offered as the taller male continued to argue with him. “You can change as soon as one’s paid for.” Knowing that was the best he’d get, Matt reluctantly nodded his head, earning a triumphant quirk of the lips from Brian before he turned on his heel and led the way out of the apartment.

They made their way to an outlet mall no more than a ten minute drive from the apartment building, and Brian managed to snag a parking space fairly close to one of the store’s entrances. Matt was dragged by the wrist into the store and was given a sharp command to stay put once they reached the men’s department. Clothes of various designs and sizes were placed in his hands, and it was only when he couldn’t bear the weight any longer that he was finally led to a fitting room.

“Do you need me to come in there and help you?” Brian asked with a teasing grin as he stood in the open doorway of the stall.

“I’m not a kid,” Matt retorted, scowling. “I’m capable of doing this on my own.” A light chuckle from the shorter male dispersed the dirty look, and a smirk made its way onto Matt’s lips. “Though if you want to come in to help with something else, I’m all for it.” He shocked himself, and a dazed blink showed just as much before he recovered. Brian took it in stride, chin lifting haughtily.

“You couldn’t handle this.”

“Used to.”

“Yeah, but I’ve learned some new tricks, ones that would blow your mind.” The curtain swung over the doorway before Matt could even think of a response. “Stop daydreaming and get changing!”

“Who said I was daydreaming?” Matt called back, grateful for the thick material of the curtain that hid his flushed cheeks from others’ sights. He hurriedly stripped free of the clothes he wore and reached blindly for the waiting pile across from him.

“No one. I just know how you get. Remember to keep the good ones separate from the bad.”

“Yes, mother.” The banter came to a hold as the clothes were tried on, and the moment the last item had been tried on, Brian took the good pile to the register to buy. He made his way back to the changing room after to allow Matt to put on something that fit him better and then led the way to the next store. Matt hounded him with questions about how much it all cost throughout the rest of the spree, but those questions were deftly deflected until they stopped all together.

Shopping was immediately followed by a trip to the vet, and Matt was greeted by barking and licks to the face once the freshly groomed canine laid eyes on him. He and Brian both struggled to get the overactive dog out of the building and into the car, her mind preoccupied with the need for affection. Tentative plans to stay out longer were scrapped during the fight.

“Remind me to never leave her at the vet that long again,” Brian sighed, shaking his head while the dog tore through the apartment once her leash was released. Matt nodded as his eyes stayed glued to the blonde and brown streak that raced around and around, and he winced when she sent a lamp crashing to the floor. “Why couldn’t you have adopted a cat?”

“Cats make messes, too, you know.”

“Yeah, but they’re smaller. That one’s going to break everything I own.” As if to prove his statement, a table was knocked over, every breakable item on it shattering into a million pieces. “Dammit, mutt, get your shit together!” Matt whistled, and Rayna whipped around and bounded over to her owner. She jumped as she reached him, pressing her paws to his chest and trying desperately to lick him.

“Sit,” he commanded, and after a slight hesitance, she obeyed, but her tail continued to swish back and forth with blinding speed. “Stay.”

“Oh, now you decide to assert dominance. Fucking thanks for waiting until my shit got broken.” A sarcastic smile pulled at the corners of Matt’s lips, and he paired it with a sarcastic you’re welcome that earned him a slap on the arm. “You get to clean the mess, and preferably before someone cuts themselves on broken glass. I’m going to fix something to eat.” Matt waited until he was out of the other’s line of sight before saluting jokingly and then setting to the task that had been thrusted upon him.
♠ ♠ ♠
This is probably going to be slow starting out, as far as how often I post, and I'm not sure how long this'll be yet. It was supposed to be a 5-10 chaptered story, but it's possible it'll be longer. I'm not a very detailed planner when it comes to writing, and that tends to play into how quickly I manage to write new updates. So just a heads up to the possibility of long waits. Thank you to everyone that's recommended and subscribed so far. And thanks to the following for leaving a comment:
Brian Haner Jr