Who: Delano & Benji What: Upon receiving Benji's letter, it takes a few days for Del to react. When: Tuesday, April 19th, after Benji's Warbler practice Rating: SFW
Had Benji simply called, Del could've let the words - his voice - fade into obscure memories. But here he had evidence. This wouldn't go away. It was in writing. True, he could burn the letter and stare at the charred remains, but Benji had given him something tangible. That alone said so much more than the mere strokes upon the page. He couldn't given Benji anymore than his first letter.
So he called.
Benji was just returning from the Warblers practice when his phone started going off and he shut the door behind himself, a little glad that Vince had had other plans that evening. Setting his bag down, he pulled his phone out of his pocket and looked at the screen; the phone number wasn't one that Benji recognized, but he did know the area code - 912. Savannah, Georgia. There was really only one person who this was likely to be and Benji moved over to his bed, taking a calming breath as he sat down. Hitting answer, he raised the phone to his ear, trying to push down the feeling in his stomach as he asked, "Del?"
Delano felt his words escaping him. He didn't know where to begin. "Do you love him? Vince, I mean." He pulled the phone away from his mouth and swore. That hadn't been what he meant to say. Nonetheless, he brought the phone back to his ear and waited for an answer. The wounds from his talk with Blake were still fresh, but he had to do this now or never.
At Del's question, Benji just kind of blinked in surprise - that wasn't at all what he'd been expecting. It took him a moment to recollect himself, a deep blush rising in his cheeks as he softly answered, "Yes."
Well, fate was cruel. But he had lived through a car crash and now this. Delano smiled wistfully against the receiver, knowing full well that Benji couldn't see it. "Then I give ya both my blessin'." Vince could at least always be there for Benji whereas he could not. He felt fine but hell if he wasn't in a fragile state right now. Goddamn his body and that stupid collision. But what was the use in cursing the past? "I'm thinkin' of framin' yer letter someday. Or maybe I'll share it with my grandkids when they-- ...fall in love for the first time. Just so they know that it's okay if things don't work out the first time around."
"Thank you." It really did mean a lot, coming from Del. At this point, it was hard for Benji to say who's side he'd rather be at; he loved them both, without a doubt. His blush deepened as Delano continued, and he set his other hand down, absently picking at a thread in his comforter. There were a lot if implications within the words Del had just spoken; everything from Del letting his family know to a thinly veiled acknowledgement that he'd felt the same way Benji had. Still did, rather.
"Good thing I have nice penmanship," he teased, but it came out a little more forced than he'd intended it to. "I'm sorry it didn't," he added, closing his eyes, "Work out, I mean."
Del appreciated the effort that Benji was making when he himself simply couldn't. Not anymore. "Between me and you or me and Blake?"
"Us," he responded simply before pausing - wait. Did that mean...? "What happened?" he asked, eyes opening again. He'd give anything to have found Del sitting in front of him. "Did you...?" Hadn't Blake just gone to see Delano that past weekend?
He wasn't proud; he found his thumb lingering over the red button. Delano dropped the phone instead. He sighed and picked it up. "Ya still there?" he asked, barely masking the stiffness of his voice. "I didn't." But it was his fault, wasn't it? Wading through all these conflicted emotions, unable to devote himself to one person...
Panic was the first thing to start rising in Benji when the phone clattered to the floor, but it settled when Del returned. He nodded before remembering that he couldn't be seen, "Yeah." He bit his lip, wondering about the tightness of Del's tone. Screw Blake for hurting Del like that - Benji had been right in not trusting him. "I'm sorry," he mumbled, "He can't even begin to realize what he's lost." Did saying that mean something more, something deeper, coming from Benji? Or was it cheapened?
Those words did feel cheap. "Can you?" Del asked, feeling bitter. He sighed and let his head hit the pillow. "Don't answer that. Please, don't. I don't mean to get all selfish on ya."
Somehow Del forced himself past this line of conversation. "I think I've got another call waitin'." Which was a bit of lie. There was someone else he wanted to call.
The bitterness drenching Del's words caused tears to spring to Benji's eyes. He opened his mouth to respond but closed it again when he was told not to bother. He knew Del was lying - even over a phoneline, there were certain things about the other boy that Benji could read. "I'm sorry," he offered, blinking as the tears began to fall; he only prayed that Del couldn't hear it in his voice.
"Apologies can't fix everythin', darlin'." His voice had cracked. "But you sure as hell can keep on tryin'."
The defeat in Del's voice was heartbreaking, to say the least. He didn't sound a thing like the carefree, happy-go-lucky boy that Benji had fallen in love with. He didn't know whether he should be more scared or worried. "I will," he replied, wiping at his eyes as the tears continued, "I love you, I don't want you to hurt."
All it took was one tiny change, a disturbance in the ripples, and everything might have played out differently. Knowing this was what killed Del. He could've been with Benji, but then he had found Vince, and Blake had been a factor in all of this as well. "It's kinda strange. I never gave a damn before. Why's it gotta be this girly crap that gets to me? Man, if Harvey were still here... Shit." He had always done his best not to swear too much around Benji, but it just showed how much he ached. "He'd be givin' me such a hard time."
Benji had tried to wait. He'd lasted through the summer, then the fall, and then the start of the winter. But life was cruel and just as he'd finally let himself move on, Del had come back into the picture - but he didn't even know who Benji was, at first. It was unfair on at least a hundred different levels. With a soft sigh, Benji looked down at the floor, "It's not girly to feel something." He bit his lip at the mention of Harvey, hating that Del had just recalled another reason to be hurting. "I reckon I'd be telling him to hug you for me, hard time or not."
"Hey, Benji... I appreciate everythin'. I don't mean to be actin' out right now. I... Maybe I should've waited to call. Right now, I need some time to think." Regret laced Del's words. This had turned out rather badly and he berated himself for it over and over again.
"It's okay," he replied, trying his best to sound more together than he felt, "S'what people do when they're hurting." Benji hesitated before saying, "I can... go. If you just want to be left alone." Except, conversation gone horribly wrong or not, there was something grounding about hearing Del's voice. Comforting, too.
Delano spoke one last plea:
"I don't want to be alone anymore."
If Benji's heart had been aching earlier, it was broken now. "Del..." The pained sound that came along with crying was definitely audible now. I would've been there in a heartbeat. "You won't be for long," he promised, even if maybe that wasn't his promise to make, "Things have to start looking up soon, and you deserve to be happy with someone. It'll happen it, and it's going to have been worth the wait."
And while Benji shed tears over the line, Delano had none to spare. His eyes stayed dry. "I reckon I never deserved anythin'. It'd be nice, though, knowin' that someone's waitin' for me back home." But this was where he would stay.
Of course Del hadn't deserved the accident - Benji still didn't understand what all had gone wrong there. But he did know that good things happened to good people and the boy on the other end of the phoneline was one of the best he'd ever met. Good things had to be coming his way. He thought Del knew that, though; somewhere in his mind. "Maybe they are waiting," he mused instead, "There's someone out there who's waiting on you, Del. You'll find each other, if you haven't already."
Waiting for the unknown... Delano tried to practice his virtues, but patience refused to grant him any blessings. If that was the price he paid for making Benji cry, then so be it. "I would have been happy with you, darlin', but I guess I have no choice. We'll see what He has in mind for us, yeah? I figure it can't be all bad."
"We could've been great," Benji murmured in agreement. He would have been happy with Del, too; had been happy with him, rather, and would've continued to be. And there was no telling what the future had in store, but he was fairly certain that their time was gone. "It won't be," Benji reassured, smiling faintly despite his tears, "I bet He's got some really amazing things lined up for you. For both of us."
Del sniffed. He didn't cry but he did sniff. "Um, I hear the nurse. I should--Love ya, Benji." And that was it.
Sniffling could easily turn to tears, but Benji hoped that wasn't what was going to happen. "Okay." He closed his eyes as Del made to leave, "I love you, too."