- It was already nine in the evening when Earl arrived at Zachary's apartment. The living room was a mess, there were inks on the see-through glass dividers, litters and papers, and cans and bottles of different liquors scattered everywhere.
- Earl found himself swimming through the ocean of trash before he finally saw Zachary, sitting on the floor by the edge of his bed, a bottle in his grip. His head lulled as he turned to look at his best friend on the doorframe.
- "Oh... it's you."
- Earl sighed. Zachary was indeed drunk. He grabbed the bottle away from Zachary but was pushed by the latter. Earl was getting more pissed than ever. Zachary has been pushing him away lately, to the point that he'd lost his balance and landed on something or someone. It was embarrassing and if this happened to anyone, a fight would've already begun. But this was Zachary, his best mate, and of course, he knew and understood his situation. Fighting wouldn't be a good solution to his problems.
- "Get up, man," Earl said and softly kicked Zachary's stomach, motioning him to move.
- "..leave..." Zachary mumbled, his head facing the floor.
- Earl felt extremely irritated now. He watched as Zachary tried to reach for another bottle, and Earl was quick to push the damn thing away.
- "Just leave.." Zachary muttered. "Just.. leave me alone, Earl."
- Earl felt something inside him snapped.
- "Hey, are you being serious? Are you going to be like this forever? I heard what happened in the practice. Are you really going to let this affect even the sports you love? Are you that low to let this happen to you? !"
- "Shut up! You don't know what I've been going through!"
- "Hell yes, Zachary! I fucking know what's happening! I know what you're going through! I know it's not easy but fuck it, can't you be a man and continue living?" Earl stumbled when unexpectedly, Zachary hit him directly with his fist.
- Earl coughed but attacked back. Since this was a slightly drunk Zachary, he was also hit by Earl's fist.
- "You don't know anything!" Zachary roared as he threw another punch.
- "Dammit... Get a hold of yourself, fucker!!" Earl countered and threw a punch back at Zachary.
- Zachary staggeringly got up and attacked Earl again. Earl was quick to do the same and the two men threw punches everywhere.
- "You fucking twat!!"
- "You crazy jackass!!"
- The two tackled each other, bumping tables with arms and legs and faces connecting to the different parts of the room.
- It was about half an hour later when both found themselves lying on the floor, facing the ceiling, panting. It was late to even realize they just did those in the span of half an hour, and inside a bedroom at that. Earl was kinda thankful he faced a drunk Zachary though because if he were to fight a sober Zachary, god knows which hospital Earl would be in now.
- "I... I don't like that coach to be honest." Earl said, breaking the silence.
- He could see Zachary smiling, the first time since his heart had been broken. It made Earl smile too.
- "I... I think I'll be leaving the team. For a while." Zachary said, causing Earl's smile to drop, his eyes widened, his body immediately got up from his lying position.
- The smile on Zachary's face suddenly turned sadder, and only then Earl realized his friend wasn't getting anywhere near recovery.
- "I'm distracted. I can't focus on swimming yet, Earl."
- Earl's heart pained at his best friend's turning even sadder smile.
- "You can do this, Zack. Swimming is a part of you."
- Zachary flinched at Earl's words, somehow remembering a certain someone who had said the exact words. He seemed to be in deep thought then, his eyes just staring at the ceiling. His breathing told Earl his best friend was in deep pain, too deep he was confused on what to feel anymore.
- "I don't know... honestly... I don't know anymore."
- Truthfully, Earl didn't know what to do either. Zachary looked like he was turning more numb as if he was trying to push all his emotions away. His eyes were turning blank. Earl felt a bit alarmed by what was happening. In the end, he could only sigh and look away. He couldn't see Zachary slowly and silently breaking.
- "Get up, man." Earl tried to make the mood lighter. Perhaps, Zachary could still change his mind.
- Maybe after eating.
- Earl went to the kitchen and hastily placed the foods he brought in a bowl and served it on the table. Soon, he heard Zachary's bathroom door shutting close, then next, his bedroom.
- Earl glanced at his phone and noticed there was a text message. Zachary had already taken his seat on a stool and began eating. Earl secretly typed a reply to the message.
- To: David
- He's already eating.
- After a few seconds, David texted back.
- From: David
- Good! Two thumbs up for you, Agent Earl!
- Zachary seemed to have noticed and smirked. "Just go, Earl. I'm fine now."
- Earl was confused. "What?"
- Zachary sighed and shrugged. "Go to Leah and have fun. I know you've been dying to ask for permission. Just go, man."
- Earl blinked a few times before another bzzzt came to his pocket.
- From: David
- Don't forget to tell him he's good enough! And he's talented! And gorgeous!
- Earl frowned. It was as if David wasn't the one saying those things. It was as if he was being ASKED to DO and type those words. He was about to text back when another message came, and this time it was really from Leah, Earl's girlfriend. A smile immediately formed on Earl's face.
- Upon hearing the sigh from Zachary, Earl couldn't help but felt a bit sorry for being insensitive. Because it was already late, Earl decided to do what Zachary was telling him to.
- Earl cleared his throat and looked at Zachary who was still eating. "I gotta go, bro."
- "Yeah, thanks for coming. See ya." Zachary returned back to eating, the food was actually delicious it reminded him of something similar... he had eaten before...
- "Bro," Earl called in a serious tone.
- "What?" Zachary thought Earl had already left.
- "Don't leave the team."
- Zachary paused from munching, his eyes showing that he didn't really like that idea as much as Earl did too. He sighed and gave a quick glance at Earl. "I'll think about it."
- Earl smiled. At least Zachary wasn't thinking too negatively about it anymore. Zachary continued back to eating and Earl was about to turn around when he remembered he still had something to do before he leaves.
- "What? You're still here?" Zachary asked after a good swallow of his food. Noticing it now, the food was really good.. it somehow made his worries melt down...
- "Know that you're good enough."
- Zachary paused from eating. It was the first time in a long while Earl had said something so cheesy like this.
- "And you're talented."
- Zachary frowned at Earl. "What are you-"
- "Just what-"
- "Gorgeous. You're gorgeous."
- Zachary's fingers dropped his chopsticks. It made a loud clanking sound as they connected to the granite counter.
- Hearing such words, he couldn't help, after all, but quickly went to the sink and puked.