warnings: you'll cry
A/N1: Hello everyone! Make sure you've read the last few chapters before you read this one, I know the amount of readers I have isn't what it used to be but I'd just like to make sure we're all caught up.
A/N2: How about an orchestral version of Mad World while you read?
When Anthony looked out the window that morning, the sun was shining, there was a perfect breeze, kids were playing on their lawns. Outside, the world kept going, but inside, the place felt paralytically cold for no reason, and oh so empty. He wondered if this was how Ian felt towards the end, if it was this lonely and tiring. The only difference was that Ian didn’t choose to give everything up; it was all taken from him. Anthony felt that made him infinitely braver, even if his final acts of lying and never admitting to being ill, were cowardly.
He was sitting on his bed, feeling bigger than it ever did when Kalel lied in it next to him, staring at Charlie's cage in a sad silence, not really thinking of anything, just feeling. He wondered if the pet noticed that Ian wasn’t there anymore; he wondered if Charlie would notice when he left, too.
A ring of the doorbell interrupted his thoughts, and he trudged to his front door, not eager to answer who he expected to be Cheryl, Kalel, or Kris, all of whom left him a voicemail in the morning asking if he was alright. He really couldn’t care less that he didn’t look alright at all, with his usually straightened hair a mess, and stubble on his chin.
“Hana.” He said with a sigh as he opened the door and saw the young intern. “Let me guess, Zach sent you to convince me to come back to work.”
“Contrary to appearance, he’s not that stupid. He knows you, he gets you’re not coming back right now. He sent me to give you the leftover mail Ian had in his garage.” She said, and Anthony frowned.
“His mother got everything left in that house.” Anthony replied, staring at her. She looked so much like Ian that it hurt a little.
“She gave us the mail, I’m supposed to give it to you. If you don’t want it we can recycle it all.” She turned to leave, but he reached out and touched her arm.
“No, no, I’ll take it.”
They carried in the few boxes of letters and packages from her truck and set them down in the office, then walked out to the kitchen.
“Have a good day.” He said to her, expecting her to return the sentiment and leave, but she spoke other words.
“Mr. Padilla...we all heard that argument two days ago.” She shuffled awkwardly.
“And? Should I really care that you guys know I love him?” He had nothing left to lose, really, he didn’t think he would be too damaged from them knowing.
“We’re not the only ones who know. Someone took the security footage and put it online, the fans are going crazy.” She looked worried, but Anthony felt numb.
“What kind of crazy?” He asked nonchalantly.
“The ‘what in the ever-loving fuck is going on’ kind of crazy. It’s mass hysteria, everyone on Youtube’s been talking about it.” She still looked concerned, but Anthony was too preoccupied with all the other sadness and disappointment in his life. He didn’t even know how to take in the new information.
“Smosh isn’t going to survive this.” She said when he stayed silent. “Ian’s gone forever, you’ve left - maybe permanently - Drew was motivating the employees and now no one wants to stay, Zach’s job hunting for Christ’s sakes. The fandom is panicky, emotional, everyone’s talking, it’s even spread to mainstream media, there’s a Huffington Post article about all of this.” She looked increasingly panicked, but Anthony was barely fazed.
“I’m gonna hurt them. The fans. No matter what I do, it’s going to be painful for them.” He sighed. “Now am I gonna do a lot of slightly painful things, or one really painful one? And really, how much should I care about these people?”
“You should care a lot. As much as any person can. What you need to do right now is care, Anthony, you need to love more than you’ve ever needed to.” She was sad and desperate, and a part of Anthony just wanted to console her, but he said aloud the predominant thought in his mind.
“You look just like him.” He said, exhaustion filling him. Same hair color, similar eyes, nearly exact bone structure. It hurt to look.
“He’s dead. You can’t keep going like this, he wouldn’t have wanted it.” She reached out and touched his arm, and he wished the warmth that came with her hand could have saved him.
“I didn’t always do what he wanted. I’m not starting now. Have a good day.” And he saw any small trace of hope leave her blue eyes.
“You too.” She nodded and walked out the door.
With a heavy heart, he walked to the office, then sat on the floor next to the boxes of mail. Grabbing an envelope, he tore in, pulling out a poorly drawn picture and a happy letter. May first, 2012. That was before Ian fainted, before Anthony thought Ian was actually in trouble. The letter was happy, casual, something he and Ian would’ve laughed over a minute and then moved on, cracking a few more jokes at the camera. And now he’s sitting here, reading alone.
He sighed, and thought of him, thought of how he hid what he felt just to save him from despair. The day Frankie Mandini called them gay in high school came to mind.
“Hey, fags!” He heard a voice as he stood with Ian and some friends in the hallway. He turned to see Frankie walking away, laughing at them with some football players.
He sighed and looked at Ian, knowing his face was bright red. He’d never felt so embarrassed in his whole life; how dare he assume what he and Ian felt for each other, how dare he made it seem like it would be terrible if it were true. He was so tired of the harassment, of people thinking he and Ian loved each other when the truth was they were just great friends. Even though it shouldn’t have bothered him, it made him feel degraded.
“Wait here.” He heard Ian mutter angrily to him, and he felt himself turn even more red. He was probably going to embarrass them further.
He turned to watch Ian storm over, most likely to give Mandini a furious piece of his mind, but instead he grabbed the older kid and punched him in the face, knocking him over. He threw himself on top of the kid and continued punching him, causing everyone around him to jump back in alarm. Then, quickly, everyone surrounded him and started cheering.
Anthony raced over and gave a shout of delight as well, no longer red in the face. Ian was a hero. Watching Mandini fruitlessly defend himself, he knew they would never be taunted again.
“I take it back, man, I take it back!” Frankie yelled, and Ian stopped, blood from his nose dripping off his fist.
“Let’s go, Ant.” Ian said finally, hopping off Frankie and walking away with his friend in revered silence. They cleaned the blood off him in the bathroom and happily celebrated their success, especially when no one told the principal that Ian was the one who did it; it turns out they didn’t really care, and that in reality everyone disliked Mandini for being the bully he was.
Anthony sighed and pulled out another letter. It was a picture of him and Ian, both standing next to girls and smiling. Ian would’ve been glad they both got dates instead of one of them crying in the corner of the page.
“Dude, I am so pissed.” Anthony said, walking in and looking over to his friend, who was standing in front of the fridge. He didn’t really knock on Ian’s door anymore, he just let himself in.
“What’s wrong?” He asked, grabbing two cans of coke and handing one to his friend.
“I was supposed to meet up with Tyler in the mall, and while I was there I saw Candy making out with Eddie!” He was seething with anger.
“Eddie Hansen or Eddie the ears?” Ian asked, and Anthony groaned.
“That’s not the point, Ian, the point is she cheated on me.” And when Ian raised his brow, he added, “Eddie the ears.”
“She cheated on you with that guy? Disgrace. Obviously she’s not someone you would ever want to date anyway, it’s a good thing you found out this quickly.” He nodded and took a sip of his soda.
“You’re not helping.” Anthony fumed, and Ian sat down at the table, turning to him.
“It’s high school, Ant, flipping out over some girl you barely know would be pretty pathetic. Dump her and move on.”
“It’s not that easy.” Anthony said, sitting next to him. Ian gave him a sad sort of look he didn’t quite understand.
“I know.” He nodded. “But I’m here for you.”
He reached out and touched Anthony’s arm, and he relaxed a bit.
“You call Candy, I’ll get the cat’s litter box.” He stood, and Anthony stopped him, reaching out and touching his hip.
“Why are you getting cat litter?” He asked, fingertips lightly touching the denim of Ian’s jeans.
“To put in Eddie’s car, duh.” He answered, cheeky, but stood awkwardly for a moment before Anthony remembered to let go of his pants. He walked away, and for some reason Anthony felt tension in the air, but he shrugged it off and prepared to call his about-to-be-ex-girlfriend.
He shook his head and threw the paper to the side. Honestly, how did he not see what was going on. He picked up a small box and tore the tape off, removing the contents bundled in pink wrapping paper. He picked up a note - May 17, 2012. The note told him that some fans sent Ian chocolates, Pokemon cards, and a mug that had a pink frosted donut on it (he assumed that was the one that felt like bubble wrap underneath the pink paper). Jesus, the day Ian fainted. If he hadn’t dealt with everything else, he would’ve called it the worst day of his life.
He was talking to the camera man about how he ought to move in the next scene they were doing. Ian had been off all day, but that wasn’t on his mind at the time. He was just doing his usual work.
“Ian!” He heard someone call out, and he turned, not sure what to expect. He saw a few men moving to the spot where he last saw Ian, at the end of the hallway, and then, looking down, saw his friend lying motionless on the ground. Shock and panic hit him simultaneously, creating a feeling of fear he hadn’t gotten since the day he saw his brother lying on the ground in a similar way.
“Ian!” He yelled, running over faster than he had in a long time. The crew parted instantly, and he knelt next to his friend, whose face was pale and eyes were fluttering. He put one of his hands on Ian’s chest, the other on his arm, and shook him roughly, wanting to wake him up. He wouldn’t be still this time, like when his brother was hurt and Ian saved him. No matter how scared he was, he had to return the favor.
“Ian! Ian, wake up!” He called out to him, and he opened his eyes fully, face slightly green. He recognized the look on his face as one he had the times they got a little too drunk, or when Anthony tried to take care of him when he was sick. Over his shoulder, he called out to the crew: “Get a bucket!”
But Ian turned on his side and threw up anyway. Seeing the vomit, though, he jumped back in alarm, removing his hands from his friend. It was blood and bile, violently red, which meant something was deeply wrong. He fell onto his back again, and closed his eyes, and Anthony said his next words in a shaky voice.
“Okay. Okay. You,” He pointed to the largest man there. “help me, let's get him to the car.”
He maneuvered around and hooked his arms underneath Ian’s, then lifted him with the other man. Walking slowly to the car, Ian’s eyes closed and blood dripping down his chin, they remained in terrified silence. Getting him into the passenger seat, Anthony rushed to the other side and drove off immediately.
He was so frightened that his hand shook almost too much to get the key into the ignition, and thoughts were flying and filling his head with random gibberish that he would not dare decipher. He clenched the steering wheel, knuckles going white, and looked over to his friend, trying to calm his nerves.
“Okay.” He let out a shaky breath. “Ian? Ian, can you hear me?”
His eyes opened slightly, and Anthony took that as a sign to keep talking.
“I'm gonna take you to the hospital, okay, Ian? Just stay awake, just focus, please Ian." When Ian’s eyes closed again, he felt the fear return to him in bounds. “No, no, no, come on, you’re okay. Stay awake.”
He didn’t want to recall the trip to the hospital, the one he remembered in exact detail. He didn’t want to recall talking to him, sometimes in a low voice, sometimes whining, sometimes in a scream, but always with an edge of panic in his words. He didn’t want to recall the begging.
“Stay awake, Ian, please stay awake.” He said, almost whining, reaching over and grasping his friend’s hand. It was cold and clammy.
“Please be okay. Please live, God please let him live.” It started raining. He switched on his wiper blades, feeling his cheeks burning.
“Don’t vomit again, Ian, don’t vomit blood again. Please don’t. I just want things to be how they were, please let things be how they were.” His voice was wavering and shaking, there were tears all over his face. “Please. Please don’t leave me, Ian. I don’t know how I would live without you, I love you.”
He pushed the note and the objects in the box aside, wiping his face when he realized he’d cried over the thought. He picked up another letter, looking at the date without opening it. Monday, June 11. One of the last times they opened mail.
“Well, that’s the last one.” Anthony mumbled thankfully, rubbing his hands. He wasn’t happy about all the paper cuts he’d received.
“Hey, I just saw a firefly.” Ian said, ignoring him to look out the glass door. They sat in silence for a moment until they saw the bug light up briefly, and Anthony looked at Ian, who smiled.
“Wanna go outside? Film our ending?” Anthony suggested, but Ian’s smile left him, and he looked down.
“Nah, door’s too far away.” He said, trying to sound passive, but Anthony decided not to take no for an answer.
“Come on.” He stood, walked over to Ian, and grabbed his hand. “Let’s go out, just for a minute. Summer used to be your favorite.”
Ian smiled wearily, then allowed Anthony to pull him up, standing with shaky legs. They walked outside together, standing in the cool Summer air. They looked around a moment at the fireflies, listening to the hums and chirps of bugs.
“Alright.” Anthony said to the camera after their silent moment. “Now that we've completed our insane amount of mail opening, we're gonna chill out here, in this forest." He pointed the camera to the shrub behind them. "Oh, oh wait, is that, is that a bear?"
“Yeah, I think it's a suburban California bear." Ian noted from a few feet away, a strange smile on his face.
"Those are the most dangerous of all! Ah!" Anthony screamed, shaking the camera and acting as though he’d fallen over. He pointed the camera to Ian.
I'll be fine guys, I'm a bear whisperer." Ian said to the audience. "Okay, leave any comments or suggestions for Ian is Bored in the comment section below, see you next Thursday bitches!"
Anthony turned off the camera, quietly mentioning he could only stay a few minutes before returning to Kalel. He was stressed out of his mind, thinking Ian was so sick with the ‘low blood pressure.’ He hated seeing him so pale and lonely, seeming so small when he was once such a large figure in his life. It was as though he was fading away.
“I gotta go man, I’ll see you tomorrow.” Anthony said, suppressing a yawn.
“Yeah, you too.” Ian replied, seeming just as tired.
“I love you, okay?” He said as he turned away, patting Ian once on the shoulder, not even sure why he was compelled to add it.
“I love you, too.” Ian said quietly as he walked to the door, though he sounded wounded.
Anthony left without turning around or answering, but as he sat in his car, a thought occurred to him, the knowledge that he’d heard that voice on Ian before. Twice in high school, three more times in college. They were the times Ian seemed sad for no reason, the only times Anthony worried about more than the usual problems for Ian. The only times he worried Ian was going to kill himself.
He never asked about it, never, because he convinced himself Ian was strong, that drawing out whatever was happening would just damage him. Maybe he was just scared. He shook his head and turned the key in the ignition. He told himself everything would be fine, just like always. But he only half believed it.
That voice he heard when Ian sounded so wounded, he knew what it was now. It was an ‘I love you.’ Every time he heard it, the words he’d said were a variation of that. Ian was broken because he loved him.
“Fuck.” He whispered, tossing the letter aside. He stood clumsily and stepped over to his desk, opening the top right drawer. On top of the stack of papers rested Lee’s gun. Pulling it out, he set it on the desk, then reached for a crinkled little piece of paper, reading the words he’d memorized in the familiar handwriting he’d missed so much.
I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I'm leaving you. You'll never know how sorry I am. I don't want to go. I don't want it to end.
I never told you because I was scared. I didn't want things to change. I didn't want you to pity me, I didn't want everything to be weird, I didn't want our relationship to be ruined.
But then I waited awhile, then it was too long. And I didn't tell you because I wanted to protect you from the pain. I didn't want you to hate me. I didn't want to die miserable because of what I said or did to you. But I feel like shit, and I bet I would feel like shit whether you were with me right now or not. I should have told you. I should have warned you, I should have been a better friend.
I did the best I could, but I was blinded, because I was in love. In high school, God, I had such a crush on you, Ant, but I wasn't sure about anything, and then you were embarrassed, and then Frankie yelled at us- I decided to just force myself to like girls, to let you be happy. I just want you to be happy. But I can't protect you from everything, like I tried to with this cancer. It hurt to tell my mom, but it doesn't matter, because she deserved to know, like you deserved to know. You've been too good a friend not to know.
Please, don't stop going. Don't stop living. Grow up, get old. Be grateful for everything you have, because I wasn't, and now I have nothing.
Take care of Charlie for me.
I love you. And I'm so sorry.
“Oh, Ian.” He murmured to himself. “I’m sorry.” He sighed. But it was hard to make peace when he was feeling every emotion in the world, all at once. He looked around the room; the sun shone in from the windows, and the dust in the air was visible, suspended particles floating but barely moving.
“But you were wrong.” He said bravely, looking out the window at the clear blue sky. “You should’ve told me. And I’ve hated you, and I’ve been afraid, and I haven’t understood, and I’ve defended you. And maybe if I went back, I’d do it all again. Or maybe I would’ve just torn the world apart, like I wanted to.
“And I don’t know.” He started, balling his fists, the note crunching in his right hand. “I don’t know if I would’ve returned the feelings if you told me how you felt when you were alive. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I knew you were dying. But the shit we’ve been through is ridiculous. We handled it wrong. You should’ve told me, I should’ve been less naive. We were in denial about so much, Ian, so much that we ruined each other. I wish we just talked to each other, don’t you miss when we did that?”
He frowned at his shoes, tears coming back to his eyes. He pushed forward.
“When we used to sit up all night and talk about everything? All our problems? I’d talk about my family for hours, and you’d just listen, like it wasn’t even a problem, and you’d give me that look I didn’t understand? Why did we stop doing that? I love you. I’m sorry I didn’t realize until it was too late. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you enough when you were alive.”
He stood still, breathing heavy, half hoping he would hear Ian answer him.
“I can’t do what you asked me to do. I can’t grow up and get over this. There’s no moving on from this. And maybe it’s selfish or overdramatic. Maybe it’ll tear the fans apart. But I can’t keep going like this, and I’m not strong enough to change. Funny, we always thought I was the brave one.”
He gave a watery chuckle, tears falling freely down his cheeks. He felt like he was choking, like he couldn’t breathe, but he didn’t end his speech.
“So I’m sorry, too, Ian. I’m sorry I’m leaving, I’m sorry I don’t know whether or not I’ll see you again. I’m sorry I’m not going to take care of Charlie. And Ian, I’m so, so sorry that I didn’t realize sooner, that you had to sound so heartbroken every damn time you said you loved me, and you couldn’t tell me how much.”
He folded up the slip of paper and pushed it in his pocket, then grabbed Lee’s gun from the desk. Switching off the safety, he cocked it, and took a breath, his whole body shaking. His face was soaked with tears, he was sweating, his hair was sticking to his forehead. He wasn’t even sure he wanted to go through with it.
He lifted the gun to his mouth, hand tremoring so much it seemed ridiculous, felt the hard metal click between his teeth. He put his index finger on the trigger, dizzy with anticipation. All he had to do was move a finger, and it would all be over.
Kalel didn’t find his body when she went back to their house the next day. She found a police car, a coroner’s van, and a sad old man by the name of Kris Rosenthal who was just checking to see if his friend was alright, but saw something terrible through the window.
The funeral was as large as Ian’s, and a lot of the same people attended. Kalel mourned an ex-boyfriend, Lee was allowed visitation to do the same for his brother, Cheryl cried over losing another son. Deacon Franklin prayed for him, Doctor Marrow regretted quarreling with him, Kris sat in a guilty silence, feeling he could have saved them both. The guilt would persist and follow him for the next twelve years, until he died alone in his bed.
The fans were shocked, and cried for ages, and this time Smosh decided to stop releasing videos for awhile. When they finally returned, the company lost its popularity, and it faded away and eventually went bankrupt and vanished completely, barely two years after Anthony’s death.
Kalel took Charlie from the house and moved back in with her parents while she sold their things and looked for a new home. A nice young couple bought it from her, and she wished them luck. Charlie died four months after Anthony. According to the vet Kalel took him to, it was stress related. Maybe he did notice the boys were gone.
Anthony’s family originally buried him in the family plot, separate from Ian, but after three years of convincing from Lee, his mother decided to move the grave, so he would stay forever next to the man he loved. Lee overdosed before he could find out, and his coffin filled the space Anthony’s had occupied. The whole story made people sick to their stomach whenever they heard it.
And now in a graveyard, under a large oak tree, lies the bodies of two men, whose love story in later years would be called cliche, who would be slightly forgotten, who would never be truly known by others. Ian’s cancer and passing would be considered common, and Anthony’s wish for recovery would be trite.
But these two men, who loved and fought and cried so much, these two remarkable friends who used their last words to apologize, to mourn, to love, were by no means ordinary. As no one truly is.
A/N3: Thank you guys so much for reading. It's been a pleasure writing for you all. Also, according to Ordinary, Ian 'died' a year ago today, so I think ending the story now is really fitting.
A/N4: I wanted to let you guys know what I was planning for this story, even though I couldn't achieve it because I decided to end early. What was basically going to happen was I was going to give Hana and the replacements a more popular role, driving Anthony mad with rage and causing him to sorely miss Ian. He would at the same time develop a connection to Hana, but when she saw he was growing attached to her because she looked like his dead friend, she would leave, and though he desperately sought her out, he would never see her again. His rocky relationship with Kalel would continue, and they would fight, ignore each other, soppily talk it out and then fight again. Eventually, through all that drama, he would build a relationship with Kris, and realize that he could move on from Ian, mourning him and using his death to stay strong. He loved him, but not in so unhealthy a way that he decides to kill himself. Smosh stays popular with the help of Ian's replacements, and they start a charity for underprivileged kids with cancer. At some point Charlie dies, and Anthony is upset and almost relapses into his depressed state, but with Kalel at his side, he pushes through. The story ends with him sitting at the desk, reading the note Ian wrote him, and Kalel walks in. He puts the note back in the drawer and asks Kalel to marry him. The End.