If you're taking prompts, could you do #83 from the "99 ways to say I love you" for NurseyDex please?
(sorry, this took me a little while! thanks for your patience!!)
At first, all he means to do is knock on Chowder’s door and sleep on his floor. He’s done it before; it gives him time to think and vent if he needs to, and then by the morning he’s usually ready to apologize, as is Dex. But even if he’s not, he knows that his wonderful, amazing goalie friend will always let him stay a few hours longer, because he’s Chowder and he’s far too polite to kick Nursey out when he has no place else to go.
Who apologizes first depends on a number of things. Sometimes it’s Dex who taps once or twice on C’s door with an invitation to walk to Annie’s, hands fidgeting and tired eyes examining the floor. Other times it’s Nursey who slips a note under their door, lunch? or Walk me to class?, before slipping outside to wait for Dex on the front porch.
But this wasn’t like any fight they’d had before; this time, there was no ‘usually’ or ‘sometimes’ that applied. It wasn’t about money or gifts or parents. They hadn’t lost a game, neither had had a particularly bad day, and they had told everyone who mattered a month ago. Together.
This was two in the morning, running on empty, things you don’t mean but can’t take back, and yelling that woke up the entire Haus - even Chowder, who’s slept through more of their arguments than Nursey can count.
So when Dex suggests he leave (at the top of his lungs), Nursey doesn’t even bother grabbing a jacket, just brushes past a concerned Chowder, a cranky Bitty, a solemn Whiskey and a confused Tango and leaves.
He walks. Where, he isn’t really paying attention, but he’s wide awake and he can’t stop himself from replaying their fight over and over in his head. He knows he messed up, knows he should’ve just gone to bed when Dex snapped at him. But as much as he could blame himself for not being the bigger person, Dex shouldn’t have taken it all out on him, and he knows that they’re both to blame for letting it get this far.
They’ll always be like this, Nursey thinks, too reactive for their own good. He’d try to be optimistic, convince himself that it’s lack of maturity, sleep, or any number of things, but by now he knows better. It’s frustrating, because while he loves a challenge (and what else is Dex, really, if not a challenge), he hates when Dex folds in on himself. There’s always that point in an argument when someone realizes they’re going to lose, but unfortunately for them, realizing that you’re going to lose does not mean conceding your point. Instead, they will inevitably get stuck in some endless loop of you’re wrong, I’m right, every time.
The thing is, it’s no longer a challenge if there’s no way to win.
With a resigned sigh, Nursey drops down heavily onto a bench and pulls out his phone. 3:30, the screen seems to scream at him, and he runs a hand through his hair. He’s on the opposite side of campus, he realizes, a long way from the Haus and a longer way from Dex. He’s cold - it’s the middle of the night, but he’s wearing a long-sleeved tee and sweatpants and sitting on a metal bench. He can’t even remember what the fight was about anymore, he’s so tired, and the mere idea of hauling his ass back who knows how many miles makes his bones ache. He misses Dex.
He contemplates calling him, but thinks better of it. Maybe Dex went back to sleep. He’d only be more irritable if Nursey woke him up, and besides, he definitely hasn’t cooled off as quickly as Nursey has. Nursey doesn’t know what he’d say, either. “Sorry,” maybe. “Are you still mad?” probably, even though he thinks he already knows the answer.
Their first big argument as a couple, they had both agreed to part ways for the night. Nursey had attempted to sleep on the green couch, but couldn’t stop tossing and turning until Dex crept downstairs an hour later to join him. No apology, no notes under doors, and yet when they woke up plastered together the next morning, Nursey knew it was over.
He clears his head and replays the argument again, pays attention to Dex’s words instead of the murderous glare he gave Nursey that planted a rock in the pit of his stomach. I don’t want to see you right now, Nurse. Just get out.
Nursey knows that “right now” does not mean “ever again.” If Dex meant “ever again,” he’d have said it; he’s not one to beat around the bush. But “get out” is something else. Nursey’s been analyzing tone and diction since he was in middle school, and he likes to think that since he decided to major in creative writing, he’s gotten pretty good at it. “Get out,” like everything else Dex says and does, is efficient and to the point. Go somewhere else. Leave. I don’t want you here.
“Get out” doesn’t come with an expiration date. There’s no implied later, like there is in “right now.” There’s no see you in the morning or but come back when you’re ready. When Nursey thinks about “I don’t want to see you right now” and “get out” in the same breath, he sees tomorrow night spent on his freshman year roommate’s couch. He sees the rest of the week there, too, a slowly growing pile of his things taking up space in the corner. A month goes by, and Dex decides he likes things better this way; he finally has the room to himself, and Nursey doesn’t get underfoot anymore. Two months, and Dex doesn’t need him at all.
Nursey fumbles for his phone so fast that he almost drops it onto the pavement. His hands are shaking as he searches for Dex’s contact and presses the little phone icon, holding his breath as the line rings in his ear.
Dex doesn’t pick up.
Nursey lays the phone down delicately in his lap and stares at the empty black screen. He gets the message. “Get out” doesn’t mean “leave.” It means “leave me.”
And Nursey hadn’t even been paying enough attention to realize it until now.
He numbly picks up the phone again. If he and Dex are through, he should at least leave a voicemail to tell Dex that he can come by and pick up his stuff in the morning. He’ll stay with Noah, really, it’s not an issue. As he scrolls through his contacts again, he dimly remembers a Facebook post that showed Noah moving to an off-campus apartment with some other junior. Kyle? No, Tyler. He’ll ask if he can stay with them; they’d probably be grateful for the extra help with the rent, anyway.
This time, Dex picks up, and he sounds wide awake. “Derek? Listen, I-”
“It’s okay, Will, I get it,” Nursey says and feels his chest contract, like his lungs can’t fill themselves up anymore. “'It’s not you, it’s me,’ right? Whatever, it’s chill, I can come by and get my stuff tomorrow morning, there’s these guys I know who have a place and I can probably room with them, I just wanted to tell you so you didn’t think I-”
“Wait, what are you talking about, 'it’s not you, it’s me?’ Why… Is this, are you moving out of the Haus?” Dex asks quietly.
“That’s what you said you wanted, isn’t it?” Nursey’s voice cracks at the end, and he hates himself for it.
“I-When did I say that? Oh my God, I didn’t actually say that, did I?” Instead of pleased, like Nursey was expecting, Dex sounds horrified.
“You didn’t have to, Will. I told you, it’s chill, I get it. I can call a few guys from the soccer team to help me with all the boxes, it won’t-”
“Derek, stop.” Nursey clamps his mouth shut so hard his teeth click together. “I don’t want you to move out.”
Nursey blinks. “You don’t?”
“No, I don’t. Of course I don’t.”
For some reason, maybe it’s the way the breeze whips around him just then or the way Dex says of course like Nursey’s made of glass, he breaks. He’s crying before he can stop himself, and then, like they do when he’s writing sometimes, the words just… fall out.
“Thank God, Will, because it was a stupid fight and I don’t even know what I’m supposed to be mad at you for anymore because I’m not mad at you, I promise, but I didn’t know if you were still mad at me and if you were then you definitely wouldn’t have wanted to talk and so I almost didn’t call but I was terrified, Will, and I miss you, and even if you want me to sleep on the couch or you still need space or you want to take a break, I don’t care, I’ll do anything, whatever you want, I just want to come home.”
“Derek - Wait, you left? Where are you?” Dex asks, concerned.
Nursey sniffs. “On a bench, by Faber.”
“Stay there, okay? I’m coming to get you,” Dex says, and Nursey hears shuffling in the background.
“Okay,” he breathes when the rustling dies down. A door slams, and then Dex sighs.
“Look, Nursey, about what I said before… I don’t want you to leave, and I don’t want to break up or take a break or any of that bullshit. I just… Fuck, I just needed some time to think and you know how shit I am at asking for that when I’m mad. I’m sorry. I’ll be there soon, okay? Don’t hang up,” he adds quickly. “You don’t have to say anything, just don’t hang up.”
“Okay,” Nursey says again, smaller this time. He takes a deep breath in and lets it out. “I don’t want any of that, either, and I’m sorry, too.”
“Good,” Dex says, and Nursey can hear his smile. “It’s gonna take more than some dumb fight to get rid of me, Nurse.”
Nursey grins, despite himself. “Will Poindexter, resident poet and sap.”
“You love it.”
“I do, but I love you more, so-”
“Wait, and I'm the sap?”
Nursey laughs, which makes Dex laugh, and soon they’re back to what they do best, Nursey and Dex, Derek and Will. They talk, bicker, make plans for tomorrow, and Nursey is just planning to tell Dex how much he loves him (again), but the line goes dead before he can say anything.
“No jacket? Jesus, Nurse, it’s gotta be thirty degrees out.”
Nursey’s head pops up so fast Dex is afraid he might have whiplash, but a second later Dex’s arms are full of him and his head is tucked into Dex’s neck, so he lets it go. “What if you catch a cold, you idiot?” He murmurs affectionately into Nursey’s hair. “What am I gonna do with you then?”
Nursey sighs and pulls Dex impossibly closer, but it’s punctuated by a shiver. “Don’t care, s'long as it means you’ll stay.”
“Of course,” Dex says, and it’s different this time. This time, it doesn’t feel like Nursey’s about to shatter; it feels like coming home.