This is another story/scene I wrote for a Creative Writing Paper. It in truth, started its life as a possible idea for fanfiction, but got turned into this.
Oliver trudged up the stairs, ruing his decision to purchase the fifth-floor apartment. The view across the city skyline toward the harbour was worth it, he tried to tell himself as his joints popped and back groaned. He loved being able to sit outside on his private balcony with a cold beer and stare into the night, bright lights shining on its dark canvas. Maybe an apartment building with an elevator – a working one – would have been better. He might not wish to move right now, to give up the view and the convenience of living so close to the team’s training facilities, but Oliver knew he would need to, eventually. The cap he wore pulled down over his face, not doing much to stop the sweat dripping down it and barely hid him from the fans who tried to catch him as he left the stadium each day.
He climbed the last few steps, counting them down as his floor came into view and left the shelter of the stairwell for the open-air walkway that led to his apartment. Summer was in its last days, still trying to keep its heat wrapped around him, but it was losing the battle as a gust of cool air pushed it away. Autumn fast approached and the long days of training would soon ease back with the seasons end. But it wasn’t the Autumn like wind sending a chill racing down Oliver’s spine as he paused, unsure if he should continue toward his apartment or turn and go elsewhere for a while. Standing outside his door a ghost from his past stood, a man whom Oliver never thought he would see again. Kieran.
Kieran hadn’t spotted him, yet, his gaze focused on the door of Oliver’s apartment. He stared at Kieran, it had been ten years since he last saw him, remembering the blank look the man wore as Oliver walked out the door. A lot changes in ten years, letting his gaze drifting over a body that no longer belonged to a teenager. But he noticed what stayed the same, like the smirk toying with the man’s lips as he thought. Oliver had spent so many years staring at that smile, on and off the field. So, cocky and self-assured, it had continued to haunt his dreams long after it should have faded from his memories. The longer he stared, the more he realised it wasn’t the same one from back then. Sadness clung to the edges of it now, and the confidence Oliver remembered Kieran wearing, had been stripped away.
It wasn’t all Oliver noticed. Kieran looked older, but then, he’d grown older too as his own youthful exuberance gave way to a maturity many doubted he would ever get. Yet, Kieran looked age wearied in a way Oliver didn’t expect. Kiran leaned heavy against the wall, one foot resting on the ground bearing all the weight. Had he been injured?
If he had been injured, Oliver would never have heard. While Oliver stayed here, taking up contracts with local professional teams, Kieran disappeared. No doubt chasing the challenge he always wanted with teams based overseas. It had hurt when Kieran left without a word, even though Oliver knew he’d been the one to walk away. People tried to talk to him about Kieran, but he refused to listen and eventually his teammates, mutual friends only mentioned Kieran in hushed tones between themselves. Oliver didn’t blame them – his temper back then not as controlled as it was now – when the mere mention of Kieran’s name would send him into a rage. One fuelled by heartbreak and not the professional jealousy they all thought.
He ran a shaky hand through his hair and his feet took hesitant steps toward Kieran. A sharp pain stabbed at his chest, one whose claws he hadn’t felt dig into his flesh for years. Claws which scratched at his skin, trying to snatch out his heart and smash it against the ground. But it wasn’t all Oliver felt at the sight of him. A long-forgotten desire swept through his veins, wrapping its heat around him and tugged him away from the pain of heartbreak. Ten years had passed since he last saw Kieran and still he could make Oliver feel this way. He stifled a laugh at the thought, the lie he’d tried to convince himself was truth and yet, Oliver knew this man had never been far from his mind. Was the one he dreamed of regardless of who lay next him at night.
He should ignore him. Oliver should protect himself and walk away like he’d done back then. But his steps never faltered, carrying him toward Kieran, the man he wished never to see again – hoped he would every day. The decision he’d made back then, had been the correct choice, and one he regretted every day since. He couldn’t have stayed, not when it felt as though they wanted different things and Kieran never tried to convince him otherwise. Never fought for him like Oliver had hoped.
His feet stumbled on the ground, scuffing his shoes on the concrete and Oliver cursed. Kieran turned, his gaze falling upon Oliver and smiled as he moved toward him. The tapping of a cane echoed across the concrete and drew Oliver’s attention to it. One leg moved stiffly, catching toes on the concrete and Kiran’s smile was replaced by a grimace as fingers tightened their grip. He wanted to know what had happened. Wanted to take the obvious pain each step caused Kieran away, while ignoring the pain building in his own chest. Pain that threatened to suffocate him, squeezing him tight as memories of their past together wrapped around him.
Oliver shook his head, trying to dispel those thoughts. Desires which would only drag him back into the past he had tried to forget. He needed focus on the ones that mattered, the questions he needed to have answered. Oliver had long believed the man had never cared for him, not in the way he wanted Kieran to and that was why he’d walked away. Yet, as he drew closer, the smile on the Kieran’s face and the hesitant expression in his eyes, made Oliver wonder if he’d gotten it all wrong.
“Why?” he asked, confusion echoing alongside each syllable. “Why now?”