This is Part 4 of Silas’ story. Find Part 1 Here! Part 2. Part 3 (Cara’s PoV)

It had been a few days of living in David’s orbit. Silas felt like, whatever he was doing, it would always circle back around to David. Since spending hours getting lost in the forest that was David’s room, They were meeting every day, sitting in a few lectures together and had even seen a movie at the cinema after David got tickets for free through the uni magazine. The Muppets Christmas Carol was one of Silas’ favourites and somehow David messed up and they’d got balcony seats for screen one meaning they had to sit together on a sofa. When Silas was alone, he was started sending him TikToks and David had even made a playlist of his artists Silas had to check out. Silas had to admit he was enjoying the newfound friendship.

It was when Silas listened to Stevie Nicks’ Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You, a favourite of David’s that stood atop the 8 hour playlist, he felt the asteroid hit. He was staring at the Mariah Carey Christmas vinyl he just felt he had to dig out and everything he had ever had, had ever felt rushed back into the red of his cheeks.

♡❆♡❆

It wasn’t very fair of Silas and he felt bad but, in the two days before the presentation, he hadn’t responded to any messages or the two calls he’d gotten from David. In his defence, he had finished the slides and emailed David a copy with a brief sorry I’ve been really busy but here you go at the top. In reality, he’d just spent the weekend obsessively applying to placements and watching The Office with Cara as she described the latest pop culture ruptures. They sat on the couch in the dark Sunday evening sharing Ben and Jerry’s. The episode where Jim proposed to Pam in the rain, a moment Cara rewinded specifically, reflected on the parts of their faces not covered by their duvets they’d brought down. There was a knock at the door.

“I’ll get it.” Cara got up, her avocado Oodie stained with chocolate brownie. Silas remained splayed across the sofa. He hated feeling like this. Guilty. He knew David didn’t deserve getting ghosted but he had a good excuse for him tomorrow before the presentation: Cara had been going through a tough time and he had to prioritise his friends. ‘She needs me now’ he’d say. ‘I’m sorry. I’ll see you after Christmas break.’ Then he’d be able to start the New Year in full control. It would be a full circle moment and it would be so much better than last year.

“Silas!” he heard the voice first. “Espèce de garçon paresseux! Get your shoes on!” the footsteps were coming through the hallway. Silas was covered in pringle dust and pyjamas he hadn’t changed out of. Why was David here? He sprang up and into the utility room, into his washing bag trying to find anything to chuck on. Jeans and a jumper.

“Why are you here?” he shouted back. He was buckling up when David walked in.

“We have skating. Did you forget?” he held up a pair of ice skates. Silas had forgotten. He didn’t know what he was talking about.

“What?” He sat down. “I can’t, Cara’s really upset. Sorry I forgot I just need to be with her.” Cara slid back into the room, her grin pulled tightly up and her eyes flashing at Silas.

“What do you mean Si?” she leant on the doorframe next to David. “I feel fine! You two go have fun.” She whispered something in David’s ear and he laughed before she said in an immaculate French accent “Enjoy the ice amoureux.”

♡❆♡❆

“I really had no idea I’d agreed to this.” Silas said. They were both putting on their ice skates, David had his own that he’d brought all the way from France to England. Obviously. What else would you pack?

“Really? That is strange. You seemed very excited.” he tried to suppress a smirk but Silas saw. He grew curious, tugging on the pale grey skates.

“When did you ask me?” Silas asked, focusing on David. They locked eyes. David smiled and walked backwards onto the ice rink, skating away.

Silas couldn’t believe he had fallen for it. He knew he hadn’t agreed to anything. This was all a set up. He couldn’t skate for his life- the last time he did he ended up in A&E with a dislocated shoulder. Year 5 was rough but that was a definite low. To make it even worse, David had skated away and was doing laps of the rink. He moved along with the elegance of a figure skater. His movements were smooth even when slowing to a stop to not run over a lady’s hand after she’d fallen. Silas half expected him to triple-turn pirouette over her and then stop and gracefully take a bow before finishing the rest of this absurd routine. It was later in the evening and the ice rink was mostly empty. There were no kids so the red skating trolley-seats were empty. Silas wished he could just use one of those.

His knuckles white, he gripped onto the side of the ice rink. He slowly moved himself by dragging his body through the force of his right arm, steadying himself with his left.

“You really should let go, Silas!” David had floated up behind him. “It is like rollerskating!” Everything he was saying was so excited. He got louder at the end of every sentence like he was pushing each word into Silas’ ear. Unfortunately, none of those words were going in as Silas was focused on trying not to fall in front of David again. He skated in front of Silas, crossing under his arm completing a half-turn as he did. Show off.

“Silas,” he looked up from the floor and into David’s eyes. Both his arms were outstretched. “Hold me.” There was an urgency in David’s voice. The excitement had fallen into something Silas couldn’t make out. It was almost a whisper but he felt it in his whole body. It commanded him to let go of the wall and held David’s hands. They glided at a glacial pace as David pushed them along with his right foot, slowly moving around to put his arm round Silas side. Left foot, right foot. They skated along together. This isn’t too bad, Silas thought. He looked to face David, both of their grins lighting up their faces. ”Are you ready?” David smiled even brighter. There was a glint of mischief in his eyes.

“What?” Silas’ smile had gone. His mouth dry.

“To skate!” David slid to a halt and pushed Silas as he did so. David’s arm wasn’t there to hold him up. He flailed his arms to balance. He bent his knees. He couldn’t believe David had done that. He’d literally thrown him into the crowd. It took a few more seconds before Silas realised he was skating. There were no fancy pirouettes but he was skating.

“Tres bien!” came a shout from across the rink. Silas’ smile was back and he picked up the pace a bit, hoping to catch David. He turned his neck to see him. ”Watch out!” David shouted again. Silas snapped back. A girl was hurtling towards him. He didn’t know how to stop. ”I can’t stop!” she screamed. Silas flailed again, putting his hands in front of his face as the girl crashed into him.

♡❆♡❆

David hadn’t stopped apologising all the way home. The girl, David knew her as Millie, was a friend of David’s. Apparently he had told her a few tips for skating. He didn’t know she’d be there too but, like with Silas, he hadn’t told her how to stop either.

David had called an uber. Millie was fine bar a bruised leg. She insisted on walking back home. Silas was fine too other than landing ass first on the ice as he fell.

“I’m fine. Honestly David leave it.” Silas insisted as they stepped out the car. David insisted back on making sure Silas was ok getting up to his room. Both of them felt horrible. Silas because his ass hurt. David felt responsible for the mess. He helped Silas up the stairs and opened followed behind Silas into his room.

“It’s nice in here,” David said looking around. “Not enough plants.” he winked. SIlas collapsed onto the bed. He had too many pillows- four just for sleeping and six for decoration. They drowned him as he fell back, closing his eyes.

“I’m open to donations.” he replied. There was silence.

“I’m sorry Silas.” David’s voice had lost the boom, the urgency, the excitement. It sounded real. “I shouldn’t have lied. I just wanted you to stop avoiding me.” Silas jolted up.

“I’m not avoiding y-” he stopped. He caught David’s eye. Obviously David knew. “I mean it when I say I’m not avoiding you.” David turned on the desk chair and started fiddling with the Christmas tree lights. “They’re broken.” Silas said. David focused on the lights.

“What are you avoiding then?” he asked.

What wasn’t he avoiding, Silas thought.

“I’m not sure.” Silas said. It wasn’t a complete lie.

“Bullshit.” David looked up from the lights. “You don’t need to tell me,” he looked back down. “but I still don’t want lies.”

“That’s rich. You lied about the whole skate thing. You never asked me. I would have said no.” his voice was raised. “It didn’t end well did it.”

“I didn’t lie. I didn’t tell you. Besides Cara said you wanted to.”

“Cara?!” There was a heat in the room that hadn’t been there before. “Why would Cara say that?”

“We did a PAL together. Millie was there too actually. We spoke about skating. Not together. Cara said you wanted to go skating with me but didn’t want to ask.” David was making his way through all the lightbulbs, unscrewing them and turning the switch on and off. He didn’t dare look at Silas.

“And why would I not want to ask you?” Silas was ready to burn.

“Because you like me.” David looked up. “I asked you because I like you.” Silence. There was a stillness in their gaze. Something about it lasted forever. The space between the bed and the chair had entire worlds between them. Silas cracked.

“I can’t do it. I can’t do that.” he tore his gaze away, planting it on the mirror to see David’s reaction. David remained still, waiting for Silas to continue.

“I’m not someone who doesn’t say it. I would have told you. I have told people I’ve liked them before. That’s not the issue.” Silas took a deep breath. “I don’t do this anymore. Love. Romance. I tried, ok? I got the fucking message. Whatever it is. It’s not for me. No matter how much I wanted it. No matter what I did. There were times I thought I had it. That was a lie. What comes after that I won’t do. I won’t do it again. I won’t let myself.”

“Won’t let yourself what?” David asked.

Silas paused. He was shaking.

“Fall.” he stared at the hands in his lap.

“Do you remember what happened when I first met you?” David asked, the urgency in his voice was back. Silas looked towards him. Their gaze held. Silas broke it first, looking down.

“I think you should leave.”

David said nothing. His heart was in his throat. He walked through the door, taking Silas’ with him. When Silas looked up he saw the tree, it’s lights finally glowing, and turned them off.

It was presentation day. Silas had spent the last two days thinking over what had happened with David. What he’d said. What David had said. He wished everything would stop spinning and he could just get on with everything.

He sent David a chat on snapchat yesterday at 8. Almost immediately he saw him active on snapmaps but he was still left on delivered. The message was simple:

Hi. Sorry about that. Are we good for the presentation?

Upon reflection he knew that looked bad. He didn’t really care about the grade. He just wanted David to not be mad at him. The same couldn’t be said for Cara. He hadn’t spoken to her. The mix of feeling betrayed and angry at the entire situation was too much for him to even speak without getting even worked up. As a result, the communal binging of The Office in the living room had morphed into a self-pitying affair and him sunken into various pillows, all lights off bar the glint of his laptop.

♡❆♡❆

It was presentation day. David still hadn’t replied. Silas hadn’t slept much at all, trying to figure out why he cared so much. He dragged himself out of bed, dreading the day to come.

8West was colder. Silas arrived first unable to imagine having to walk towards David without his knees buckling. It was obvious to him now that he liked David and David liked him but he felt trapped. He couldn’t form any coherent thoughts about the situation. Students streamed into the room, chatting happily and pulsing with energy. They were all ready for their presentation. Silas’ gaze was fixed on his computer screen:

Media Stereotypes and LGBTQ+ Community: An Unhappy Couple

Of course David was gay. Or at least bi. Or something that meant he liked guys. How did Silas miss that. He wanted to apologise. He wanted to tell him to fuck off. He wanted his mornings, afternoons and nights. He wanted to run as far away from him as possible. All he wanted for Christmas was…

He heard the voice first. It was a simply muttering of a hello to the professor. It was different. Sharper. The warmth was gone. Silas looked up and couldn’t meet his gaze as David looked firmly at the table. No smile. No hello. He leaned over to Silas.

“We’re fine. Let’s just do the presentation and we don’t need to talk again.” His voice was a spell of ice. The words fell out of his mouth with a casual disregard that falling into his ears, planting onto into his heart. The professor turned the lights off. The presentations began.

♡❆♡❆

Silas and David’s presentation was last. They sat through proposals for rural internet in America, educational intervention for climate skills and a new perspective on the right to libraries. They were all fine but Silas couldn’t help watching David- hand rested on the table perpendicular to his, the tension in his jaw, the flexing in his back. His knee was jogging, gently shaking the table but Silas couldn’t say anything for fear his voice would break too.

The class clapped. It was their turn.

Silas got up first and plugged his computer in. He turned to David, standing on the opposite side of the whiteboard, waiting for him to begin.

♡❆♡❆

“Are there any questions?” asked Silas. The presentation went fine. Both read their revised parts without fault. David’s glances to the whiteboard skilfully avoided the other as Silas faced the front, looking only at the computer screen. The walls were still standing. A hand raised.

“You said gay men are portrayed in media as overly sexual and just not fit for relationships. Can you elaborate on that?” A voice asked. Silas swallowed and looked at David who had done the same. They made eye contact. David turned away first.

“The research we looked at reported that. It’s important gay men are represented as simultaneously sharing heterosexual elements of relationships and queer differences. For example, some gay men are not turning down relationships for more sex. Some just don’t have a real reason at all.” David looked at Silas. “Don’t you agree?”

Silas’ blood ran cold.

“I disagree. I think you’re talking about research gaps. The reality is some people don’t talk because they fear it. That’s a common research problem. What you may find if you look and actually ask is respondents have a, what did you call it,” Silas paused. “A real reason. But with the question, I think the overall message is the same problems for gay men are found in heterosexuals and other minority relationships.” He turned to face the class and take the next question but was interrupted.

“There you might find issue with avoidant behaviour. The party might simply decline.” David pointed at a hand that went up.

“Did you come across any methods of fighting avoidant behaviour?” another voice asked.

“I’m not sure myself,” David turned. “Silas, you know about this. What do you think?”

Silas’ could hear his heartbeat. His blood was running red hot.

“Some people don’t make for good interviewers. They suck at it to be frank. If you’re dealing with avoidant behaviour, maybe take the hint. Go look elsewhere.” He turned towards David this time. “You’re not enough.”

There was silence bar the humming of the fan. The professor spoke up and dismissed the class. Silas stayed back and unplugged his computer as everyone filed out. He zipped up his bag and saw David standing by the door.

“That’s all you had to say.” David went to open the door.

“No.” Silas crossed and closed the door. “No. You don’t get to do that.” He could feel David’s breath on his face. “What do you want from me? We spend time together and you suddenly think you know me. You don’t.”

“I wanted to spend time with you. I know I don’t know you. Do you know anyone who does? Do you let anyone know you?” David’s voice was low. It was angry.

“Fuck you” Silas crossed to get his bag but David followed him, turning him by his shoulder.

“Why won’t you let me?” All Silas could see was David’s face. His eyes. His lips. David put a hand on Silas’ face. Silas looked at his eyes.

“I can’t.” Silas whispered. He leant in. All the lights were on. Both hands were moving. Sparks were flying. Silas felt a shock. He stepped back. The room was still dark. “I’m sorry.” He grabbed his bag and marched past. David, stunned, stood alone in the room. After a moment, he gathered his bag and walked out too.

♡❆♡❆

Silas couldn’t believe he was doing this. It was getting dark. It was raining. He was miserable. He felt he had to. He took an envelope out and posted it through the letterbox. He stepped back, hoping no one was looking out the top window of the house.

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