Silently cursing whoever had just woken him up, Jack reaches for the buzzing phone, blinking at the bright light.
“What the fuck.” He says out loud, noticing that it’s nearly three in the morning, but still, he answers the call. “Joe, it’s fucking early.”
“Sorry.” Comes the weak reply.
“I’m assuming there’s a reason you called though. What’s up?” Jack flips onto his back, rubbing his free hand across his face.
“Can we just talk? That’s probably stupid to ask after waking you up.” Joe mutters, almost half to himself. Jack let’s his arm fall above his head, sleep still clinging to him.
“You want to talk…at three in the morning.”
“And it can’t wait until later?”
“No. Well, it could. But…Jack, please.” There’s something in Joe’s voice that causes Jack to frown up at the dark ceiling, he can’t quite place it.
Probably played a scary game, he thinks to himself.
“Alright, we can talk. What do you want to talk about?”
“Sounds like a fascinating topic,” Jack drawls, smirking lightly.
“I thought you wanted me to talk.”
“Jack,” Joe sounds exasperated, but it’s better than the weird emotion from before, so Jack continues.
“Joseph. You can’t tell me to shut up after asking me to talk.”
“Maybe this was a mistake…”
“Calling me is never a mistake, Joe. But alright, let’s figure out something else to talk about. Uhm,” He shifts in his bed, his mind running through possible discussion topics.
“Don’t fall asleep.”
“Oi, I was thinking. Here we go! Football.”
“Football?” Joe repeats cautiously.
“Yes, England just played a game yesterday, didn’t they?”
“Well, yeah. But you don’t want to talk about that…” He can hear Joe shuffle on his end of the line, and briefly Jack can picture him laying in bed, the blankets pulled up around him.
“Unless you can decide on a topic to discuss, we’re going with football.”
“Can I ask you something instead?” Joe asks, and that odd emotion is back in his voice. It settles over Jack uncomfortably.
“You can ask me anything.”
“Would you miss me?”
“Miss you?” Jack asks, “Are you going on a trip or something?”
“No…if I was. If I. I mean…gods, forget I asked. It’s stupid. Just, pretend I didn’t ask.” Joe’s words stumble over each other, but something in Jack’s mind clicks and he sits up in bed, the grip on his phone tightens.
“I’m sorry, Jack. I shouldn’t have woken you up.” He can hear the tears in Joe’s voice now, “I just, I thought maybe talking to you would help. You usually are good at that. And it’s not like you haven’t been good this time! Shit. I just. I’m sorry. I’ll let you go.”
“No!” Jack shouts into the darkness, his heart racing. “Don’t hang up, Joe. Please. Don’t hang up.”
“Because I would miss you. And I’m scared to know what you’ll do if you hang up.”
“I’m scared too, Jack.”
“I know, Joe. But you called me, so that’s good. It means you aren’t ready to say goodbye yet. I don’t want you to say goodbye. Too final. From now on, we say see you later, okay? Because we will see each other later. I’m not letting you go.” Jack runs a shaky hand through his hair, the odd emotion from Joe’s voice before making sense.
“I don’t know why I called you.”
“Because I’m amazing,” Jack jokes weakly, “Who doesn’t want to hear my voice at three in the morning?”
“I’m sure there’s quite a few,” Joe teases back lightly, and it relieves the tightness in Jack’s chest a little. “I almost didn’t call you, you know? I was sitting here, just thinking about finally ending it. I was so close. But then I thought: No, let’s call Jack first. If he answers, we’ll talk. And if he doesn’t…then….”
“Then what, Joe?”
“I wish I didn’t.”
“Stop bloody apologizing!” He snaps, “You don’t have to apologize! You just, Joe, you need to promise me something.”
“Don’t do it.”
“Because I need you. I can’t do this shit without you. Why do you think I answered the call, instead of letting it just go to voicemail? Because I care about you, Joe. And I will always answer that phone call. I don’t give a fuck what time it is. As long as you are still on the other end of the line.”
The two fall silent, although Jack can hear Joe crying quietly on his end, and it takes him a moment to realize that his own breathing has turned ragged because he’s crying too.
“Please, Joe. Don’t say goodbye. Not yet. Not to me.”
“Is it worth it?”
“Living? Yes. I know it might not seem like it right now, but I promise it’s worth it.”
“I’m still scared.”
“So am I. Every day, I’m scared. But that’s just part of life. And I’m right here, Joe. If you need someone to help you, I’m right here. I don’t plan on going anywhere. So you can be scared, it’s fine. I’ll put on a brave face for both of us.”
“You don’t have to do that…”
“It’s fine. You can take your turn next month.”
They fall silent again, and Jack closes his eyes, listening to Joe breathing in and out, a sense of calm washing over him with every breath. Because he’s still there, breathing.
“Can you come over?”
“Of course.” He’s already climbing out of bed and finding clothes in the dark, his phone pressed to his ear. “We can finally talk about football.”
“We aren’t talking about football, Jack.”
“Fine, you can decide on a topic when I get there. In the mean time, tell me a story.”
“A story?” Joe asks, and Jack smiles softly at the look of confusion he know’s is on the other man’s face.
“Yes, a story. About a dashing prince named Jack.”
“Sounds like a wanker.” Joe scoffs, and this time Jack laughs, and it feels so good to laugh, and he can hear Joe laughing lightly as well.
“He probably is. But I heard that he has this really good prince mate named Joe, and Prince Joe makes sure to keep Prince Jack in line.”
“Mhm,” Jack locks his door behind him, shifting his phone to his other ear, “And I also heard that they are both very dashing looking.”
“Only making Prince Jack sound more like a wanker.”