Status: complete;;

Right Now

Wish We Could Turn Back Time, to the Good Ol’ Days

“Yes, you prat. Now turn that damn thing off and let us in. We’re freezing out here.”

Liam clambers into the tent, and Harry follows close behind, zipping the door shut against the night air. Niall scoots closer to the side of the tent to give them a little more room. Shifting over means the root is no longer underneath me, so I stretch out and press against Niall’s side as the other two slip under the blanket with us. I’m honestly surprised that it covers all four of us, but with as close as we all are as we huddle under the comforter, I suppose it isn’t that shocking. I have the odd sensation that this must be how sardines feel, cramped in their too-little can with not even a centimeter between them. I force my body to relax and turn my face so that Niall’s shoulderblade is no longer pushing against my nose. All I can hear over the sounds of nature is our breathing; it’s soothing, to not feel alone, and I close my eyes.

“It sounds like Bri’s getting murdered,” whispers Harry a few minutes later.

I muffle my giggle into Niall’s back and choke out, “Must be a pleasurable homicide then.”

“Oh, Hell,” Liam groans quietly as the moans and bitten-off gasps increase in volume and intensity. “I cannot believe this is happening.”

“No, that is something I can’t believe is happening.”

I lift my head to give Niall a confused look; all I can hear is Brianna and Louis, and it doesn’t make sense. Then it hits me: the third tent, the one with Olly and Zayn, is no longer silent. Niall lets out a startled ow! when my forehead collides with his shoulder, and I pat his side apologetically before flopping back down between him and Liam. I’m utterly embarrassed to be hearing the two couples’ activities - it’s too personal for me to feel okay with overhearing it, and I am honestly just too uncomfortable with the entire idea of it, no matter the fact I’ve never experienced it before. I throw my arm over Niall’s waist, and his hand comes up to wrap around mine. Between the warmth of four bodies in one small tent and the comfort I take from having my friends with me, I manage to fall asleep.

Birds sing and chirp overhead, and my eyes slowly open, close, then open again. I blink against the weak sunlight and draw in a deep breath. I don’t move from where I’m curled against Niall; the arm over my hips tightens just a bit, but then Liam relaxes with a nearly-inaudible snore. Though I’m comfortable and still so sleepy, my mind decides to remind me that today is the day I leave - that I’ll be on a plane bound for Tennessee in less than thirteen hours. I sigh; I’m going to miss these people, and going back home isn’t nearly as enticing as I thought it would be.

I must have fallen back asleep, because when I open my eyes again, Niall has rolled over in his sleep to face me. I resist the urge to poke his nose, though it’s incredibly tempting. My brows furrow as I realise that I didn’t wake up for nothing, something brought me to consciousness. I look around to see Brianna crouched in the doorway. Her fingers are circled around my ankle. She smiles and motions for me to follow her. It takes a few moments, but I finally extricate myself from the blankets - and Liam’s arm, no matter how much he resists - without waking the others. She leads me through a copse of trees to a small pond. We find a dry patch of grass, lower ourselves to sit. I watch as the water ripples in the gentle breeze that blows through every so often.

“Are you sure you want to go back home?” she murmurs suddenly; the stillness and silence between us makes it sound as if she’s shouted the question.

“I have to.”

“But why? I mean, you could make a life here. You’ve enjoyed being here. Why can’t you just…stay?”

“School is giving me until the start of the semester to get back. If I’m not in a seat, in class, in physical form, they’ll kick me out.”

“So enroll in class here! I’m sure they’ll accept a credits transfer.”

I sigh, tossing a tiny pebble into the pond just to hear the quiet ker-plunk. “I can’t do that, Bri. I’m sorry, but… I can’t.”

“Why the Hell not?” she challenges, pinning me with a weighted stare, and my temper snaps.

“Because my family needs me!”

The words explode from me before I even knew they were forming. They leave a bitter taste in my mouth and a burning in my gut. Everything falls silent instantly; the birds give indignant squawks, fly out of the trees. From the corner of my eye, I catch the look on Bri’s face, and guilt bursts into life at the shock, anger, and betrayal. Time seems frozen, as if the entire world has come to a standstill. I ache desperately to take back the words, the ones that I know remind her exactly of why she had no problem leaving home after high school without looking back once. It has never been her fault that her parents were too worthless to want and love her, yet I just threw it in her face that mine actually care about me. The regret tastes like poison on my tongue. After a long moment, Bri’s lips twisted into a terrible, cold semblance of a smile.

“Well, then. Let’s get going back. Don’t want you to miss your flight back to your family.”

“Bri -”

“Save it. I think you’ve said enough.”

She doesn’t bother waiting for me as she makes her way through the trees back to the campsite. Brianna avoids looking at me as we wait for the others to wake, as we pack up the supplies and tear down the tents, as we eat cold sandwiches for breakfast then load everything up into the SUV Paul left for us. I sit in the middle row between Liam and Olly, and though she glances into the rear-view mirror occasionally once we get out of the wooded area, her gaze instantly darts away from my face. Nobody appears to notice the tension between her and me; my stomach churns with remorse. Olly’s head drops onto my shoulder halfway to the city, and her snores fill my ear. I grimace, hoping she isn’t the drooling type. The radio plays quietly, but I can’t focus on the sound. I shift until I can pull my phone out of my pocket, give Liam an apologetic smile when I disturb him, and type out a text to Bri.

I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to say what I did. It was low and cruel, and you didn’t - you DON’T - deserve it. You’ve been the best friend I could ever have asked for. This was all on me, and I’m so sorry. I hate that word vomit got the best of me. I hate that word vomit just screwed me out of a sister. I am so so so so so sorry, muffin. Please forgive me?

There’s still no response from her by the time we drop everyone off at their homes and arrive back at the house she shares with Louis. She storms through the front door and up the stairs with no second glance back; Louis raises an eyebrow at me but dutifully follows after her. I sigh, the sound echoing in the front hall, before heading up to my room to finish packing. I did most of it over the last week, but there are a few things left. I have to sit on top of my suitcase to be able to zip it closed. Once I'm done and my luggage is sitting by the door, I check the time. I still have five hours before I have to be at the airport, so I set an alarm for five-thirty, sprawl across the bed, and force myself to sleep.

Olly embraces me tightly when my flight is called over the loudspeaker. I manage to grin back at her before grabbing the handle of my suitcase. The guys weren't able to give me a ride to the airport - their management and security told them it was too risky to help for anything less than a massive disaster if they appeared in public like that. Brianna… well, I haven't seen her since we got back to the house. Olly had been kind enough to offer transportation, though we aren't really close by any means. The guys texted to wish me a safe flight, but we'd already said our goodbyes when bro dropped them off at their homes. I didn't have the courage to find Louis or my best friend before I left, so I left a note on their kitchen table. Hopefully, it'll be enough.

Nobody waits for me at the other end of my flight. I can see nearly everybody else being greeted by family and friends, but I am on my own. I make my way through the crowds to baggage claim, grab my suitcase, and shrug my carry-on higher on my shoulder. Someone grumbles when I bump into them; I mutter a hasty apology and continue toward the door. Taxis and cars inch past outside, all of them waiting for passengers before they head off to their destination. It is a three-hour drive between the airport and my little hometown; walking that far is an absolutely insane attempt, even without the added weight of my twenty-seven-pound suitcase and five-pound backpack. I squeeze through a gap between people and sag against the wall of the building, watch as flyers file out onto the sidewalk and into the waiting vehicles. My hair falls into my face, and I blow it away. Unless I want to pay an outrageous fare and still be miles from home, I know walking is probably my only option. I stand upright when someone shouts my name.


“Hey, I thought that was you!” My classmate hugs me, and I grimace but plaster on a smile when he pulls away. “Man, how crazy is it to run into you here!”

“Yeah, crazy. Uh, so what brings you to the wonderful airport?”

“My little bro had to go back to school, so I was dropping him off. You, um, you need a ride?”

Walk for hours, or accept a lift? The choices aren't great, but I choose the one that seems less painful on me. He leads me to the parking garage and hefts my suitcase into the bed of his truck. The roar of the engine is deafening, and I grip tightly to the door when he reverses carelessly out of the parking space. His driving is reckless, terrifying; I deal with it as best I can, though. It would be ungrateful of me to complain when he’s nice enough to drive me home. Thankfully, we don’t die in a fiery wreck, even though he takes the curve seven miles from my house going twenty over the speed limit, and he finally slows to drive up the long driveway. The truck comes to a stop with a jerk, and I smile at him before sliding out of the cab. He comes around to the passenger side to lift my luggage from the back, handing them to me.

“Thanks, Jacob, I really appreciate it.”

“No problem.” He calls my name as I start walking away, and I turn to face him. “Would you, uh, wanna go to a party next Friday? W-with me?”

I bite my lip; it doesn’t sound like much fun, especially since I barely know the guy. “I’ll think about it.”

He nods once, gets back into his truck, and starts up the engine. I wince as gravel kicks up beneath his tires when he peels out of the driveway. With a heavy sigh, I unlock the front door to the house and step inside. I know it’s a ridiculously early hour of the morning, but I really expected my mom or sister to hear the noise of the truck and realise I was home. But all the lights inside are off, so I swallow down my disappointment and head down to the basement. I don’t bother unpacking or changing clothes - I just flop onto my bed and quickly fall asleep.
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title credit stressed out twenty-one pilots