I woke up with my head feeling like it was splitting with pain. I was on Sean's bed. Sean himself was lying opposite me.
He looked amazing. Though his hair was ruffled, it still looked as if it would be great to stroke and run your fingers through. His face looked impossibly better since there were no worry lines on his face and I thought he looked rather like a young child, one which I wanted to hold and protect when he was scared. I don't know why Sean's look of vulnerability appealed to me so much - perhaps because it was a reflection of my own heart which could so easily scar in its defencelessness around him. His clothes even looked cool in their crumpled state: like he'd been standing in a windy place to model for some aftershave or something - those sorts of adverts always used very attractive guys. I found myself struggling to tear my eyes away as they gazed over him, always admiring what they saw.
With some effort, I rolled over and sat up. It was like a knife had just stabbed my brain. My gasping awoke Sean.
"You okay?" he mumbled sleepily. I briefly smiled as his accent caressed my ears and magically erased the concept of pain from my memory but then winced as another wave of the sensation rolled through me and reminded me that it was very much real.
"Hangover," I muttered. I stood up, swaying as yet more pain attacked me. I grabbed the bedside table for support. I staggered into Sean's tiny kitchen and leant against the sink, closing my eyes. I opened them to get myself a glass of water, and one for Sean in case he was suffering too. I drank some; the pain faded a little and my tongue and throat appreciated the coolness and the wetness. I was about to take Sean the water I had got for him when he appeared in the kitchen, looking as if in slight pain but nothing near as bad as what I was experiencing. I handed him the water anyway.
He smiled gratefully and downed it quickly. He put the glass on the table.
"Nice sleep?" he asked conversationally.
"Hm-hm," I replied, nodding. "You?"
I suddenly remembered a snippet of last night. "Were you really okay at the club?"
Sean frowned. "I was thinking about Justin," he murmured.
"Oh," I said quietly. I reached out and stroked his arm. "Well, you know my opinion," I said, attempting to smile.
Sean smiled faintly. He looked down at my hand which I noticed showed I hadn't let go of his arm. I hurriedly pulled it away. Sean looked up at me, still smiling faintly.
"So, how d'you think you ended up on my bed?" he asked grinning, changing the subject.
"I have no idea," I replied.
"Maybe you tried to seduce me," he joked.
"I'm just kidding. You can tease me back if you like."
"Yeah: if I had tried to seduce you, I can imagine you saying ‘Stop! I'm gay!'." I made my voice high-pitched for the imitation of him.
"Pathetic loser," I added bitterly, looking at the floor.
"Hey, what's wrong?" Sean asked.
"I'm grouchy from the hangover," I lied. His teasing had made me moody, especially after the all-too-brief physical contact.
"No, it's more than that. Tell me."
I looked up at him, suddenly angry. "Do you know how hard it is to be in love with you?! To pretend I'm okay with the fact that you'll never love me?"
Sean looked confused. "No ... but you always seemed to cope."
"Well, of course, I seemed to cope: I could never tell you otherwise. But all day, every day, I have this gnawing longing inside of me that just turns into frustration. And then you just think you can treat me like a normal friend, which is the worst torture imaginable! Every time you confide in me, it feels like you want us to be closer. That really kills because I know you don't. Every time you're down and you express it, I feel your pain and multiply it by a thousand. Even feeling your joy and multiplying that is painful sometimes: it reminds me of how in love with you I am."
"I ... never realised," Sean said, looking unhappy.
"I gathered that. Otherwise you'd have never even dared to tease me about my feelings."
"I don't want your apology! You know exactly what I want and you're never going to give it to me. It's the only thing I want from you. So just keep your apologies to yourself."
This wasn't true. I was exaggerating a lot in my bad mood. Despite what I had said, I wanted to be friends with Sean. Also, I felt I needed to comfort him when he was upset. I enjoyed him confiding in me for the momentary pleasure I got from knowing he cared about me (even if it was just as a friend).
But Sean, poor thing, was taking me very seriously.
"I'll try to be a better friend," he said. "And not confide too much in you."
"Fine," I said, though inside I was shouting to calm down and tell him how I really felt.
"I suppose so."
Sean sighed and walked out of the kitchen. I went into the living room and sat on the sofa. I heard a groaning behind me and I looked over the back of the couch to see Laura lying there, waking up. I stifled a laugh, my bad mood evaporating.
"D'you want some water?" I asked.
She looked up at me. "What do you think?"
I laughed aloud.