small pale and awkward

If You Run

Band Member: Calum

Type: Relationship AU

Description: This fic was inspired by this quote – “Maybe one day, we’ll run into each other on the street. At first we’ll stare at each other, dreaming of the past and pondering what could have been. Then we’ll approach each other. You’ll tell me about your wife and I’ll tell you about my kids. And we’ll pretend we weren’t senselessly, hopelessly, mindlessly, shamelessly in love. We’ll avoid the fact that this awkward small talk is nothing compared to the times we talked of your family and of your struggles, the times that I stared deep into your cold, dark eyes and searched your broken soul. It is nothing compared to when we sat on your roof, my head on your chest, our eyes sparkling with starlight, talking of aliens and the future, of monsters and the past. And we’ll be okay with that, because we would have realized that we would have destroyed each other, because you never waited, and I never stayed.” - tornpagesspilledink

The sun was brighter today, like winter had stopped fighting the awakening of spring. You closed your eyes and listened to nothing – the silence in the house was almost enough to drive you crazy these days. You were used to the loudness of a family: your husband asking where stuff was, your teenage daughter blasting out music like she needed the entire street to listen, your step-daughter singing along to her favourite movies. But all of that, all of your beloved chaos had left your home. It was too empty, almost suffocating without them.

You grabbed your car keys and drove into town to combat the loneliness that the empty nest brought during the day. You picked a coffee shop and found a seat outside, ordering your old boyfriend’s favourites because days like this made you sentimental about the past. You often wondered what would’ve happened if you would have stayed together. Even more so now that your marriage had been wrecked by the restlessness in your soul and the affair your now ex-husband had had. You wanted to say you’d been upset to find out but you’d felt nothing except relief. Your marriage to Nate had been dead in the water for a while, you had both needed a reason to sink it. It sounded better to tell relatives and the other school mums that you’d divorced because Nate had met somebody else rather than you and your resolved feelings for the boy you left in the past at barely twenty years old.

“So you still pretend to like my favourite foods?”

You almost choked on your coffee to hear the voice that usually only visited your mind in memories. Your eyes looked up and you saw him for the first time in years. The last time you’d laid eyes on Calum had been the day you’d walked out of the apartment you shared together. You had sent friends to box up your things and ship them to you since you were already finding a new city to conquer by the following day.

“Calum Hood as I live and breathe,” you sighed as you wrapped your hands around your coffee. “I never thought I’d see you again.”

You had to admit age had been kind to Calum, for thirty-three he looked amazing. He had his bass slung over his shoulder which almost made you laugh. That bass had taken him all over the world which had suited your wanderlust perfectly. How had you gone from being engaged to a touring band member to marrying an accountant within a few years?

“You look amazing,” he said quietly with a smile. “Have you got time…?”                                                        

You were already agreeing, gesturing for him to take the empty seat opposite you. You had no idea what you were going to say to him but you didn’t care, you had wanted this moment to come for such a long time. The waitress bought over a replica of your order and she smiled at you like this was a first date. You spied the wedding ring on Calum’s finger and it felt like a kick to your heart. In some wild alternate reality you had in your head, Calum had waited for you because you were his one that got away too, like he was yours.

“You finally found a girl crazy enough to marry you then,” you said with a ghostly smile.

He looked down at the ring, he was hoping you might have ignored it but he traced his fingertips over the gold band. Calum wanted to tell you that the girl was nothing like you. She wasn’t as adventurous or as creative or anything like you but that’s what allowed him to love her. She wasn’t you and you weren’t her and that’s what made life bearable.

“Yeah,” he laughed. “Emma and I have been married almost eight years now. We met just after you and I…”

“I know,” you said reassuringly. “Ashton told me, he kept in touch for a little while but I wanted a fresh start.”

“I wanted to invite you to the wedding but it was hard to pin you down long enough to send an invite,” he joked.

You had to admit you’d been restless. You’d moved from place to place until you finally stopped running and married Nate. You had tried so hard to be happy, you had been happy away from Calum. You’d been so happy when Lydia had been born, when you’d held her in your arms for the first time with tears streaming down your cheeks as you promised to love her as much as two parents would, when her first word had been Mum and you’d called your own mother laughing while Lydia kept shouting it like the entire world needed to hear your name. You’d been happy when Nate made you forget all about who you were. You’d been captivated by Bonnie who was just a baby when you’d met her father and Nate had taken Lydia on like his own. It had been so perfect but you were blinded by your need to be loved by somebody that wasn’t Calum Hood.

“Lyd and I were always hard to keep tabs on back then,” you admitted.

“Lyd?” Calum echoed as he tried to work out how Lyd was.

“Oh, Lydia is my daughter,” you said with a warm smile. “I’d say she’s my baby but she’s almost all grown up. She’s thirteen going on thirty.”

You picked up your phone, hunting for a picture of her which you knew you’d only regret showing him later when the thrill of seeing Calum wore off. You found one of you both together, just taken last week at her birthday. You held it up to Calum, the proud mother smile breaking out when you saw Calum smiling at the girl.

“She looks like Mali when she was a kid,” he realised but he didn’t say anything else.

He knew, of course he knew deep down that Lydia was his but you’d never explicitly told him she was his child. He could hardly ask you now, straight out after all of this time. Your failed attempts of picking up the phone only to put it back down had let Calum live in some blissful ignorance. So you sighed a breath of relief when he didn’t start asking questions, your worst nightmare was that Calum would want to know why you’d kept Lydia a secret when you didn’t have an answer even for yourself.

“She’s beautiful,” he added before looking for an escape from the topic. “Did you ever get married? I know Ash mentioned you’d met somebody.”

You nodded, twisting the engagement ring, the one you wore to work to fend off the questions. It stopped the clients from being overly friendly if they thought you were settled but it wasn’t a secret that you were now a divorcee. But it was more than that, it was the ring Calum had presented to you for the last birthday you spent with him. You often wondered if you should’ve sold it but you told yourself that Lydia might want something that belonged to her father one day and that ring was full of the promises Calum would’ve made to his daughter.

“I was, but we were unhappy for a while. He didn’t want another failed marriage so we clung on to the hope we’d fall in love again but it never happened. It happens to the best of us,” you said with a sad smile. “It’s just been Lydia and me for a while. We’re used to it.”

He winced, he couldn’t help but think that remark was aimed at him somehow. Maybe he should ask if your daughter was – no. He couldn’t bring himself to ask you. If you laughed in his face like it was some huge misunderstanding, even though he knew she was his.

“So you have you and Emma talked about kids?” you asked though you stumbled over Emma’s name. It felt wrong to say her name like you’d screamed fuck in a church.

Calum’s expression shifted as he sat back into the chair. You had known your Calum so well. You wondered if he still bit the inside of his lip when he was concentrating or if he still grinned like an idiot when you complimented him. But if this new Cal was anything like the old one, you’d touched on a sore point.

“Em doesn’t want kids yet,” he sighed but smiled towards the end. “But I’m raising my puppy family like I said I would.”

You laughed as you recalled the nights you’d spent discussing how Calum would have an army of dogs that he’d raise as his children. You had taken time picking names and breeds over bottles of beer until you were sure it was going to happen. You wanted to ask if he’d named one after you like he had often joked he would in the early hours of the morning when you’d drank a little too much.

“I did,” he said like he’d read your mind. “One is running around with your name but I call her Junie like you wanted.”

“I hope Junior is living the dream life,” you toasted as you raised your coffee to your lips.

You wanted to laugh at whatever this was. This was nothing compared to the conversations you had on your roof, your head on his chest as he talked about how the fame was getting into his head. This awkward small talk paled in comparison to how his eyes had shone when he spoke about his future or how he’d stroke your hair when you talked about your struggles. And the nights you stared into his eyes and wanted things to stay like this forever.

“Why did we ever break up?” he asked you.

“You wanted the world at your feet and I wanted to explore again,” you replied though you didn’t honestly know.

Calum ran a hand through his hair then looked at you like he needed more than that. But you both remembered the day you left so well. There hadn’t been any screaming or fighting like the magazines and tabloids had reported. You’d simply talked it over, how you weren’t good for each other and you had walked out without a single thing.

“I don’t know what you want me to say, Calum,” you sighed. “I ran away but had no idea who I was running to. Is that what you want me to say? That I’m sorry? Cal, it’s been almost fourteen years.”

“I know,” Calum said. “I just hate how I think about you and us and how we might’ve worked.”

You shook your head sadly. “Cal, we would have destroyed each other. I am… I was in love with you and it was the purest love I’ve ever felt but it was reckless. It was senseless and you know it was. If we hadn’t have ended there, God, it would have killed us both. You brought out the best and worst in me, Cal. Lydia does the same and she’s got that from—”

“Lydia, is she—” he began but your ringtone cut him off.

You smiled and muttered some kind of apology. You picked it up and saw that it was your daughter so you half turned away from Calum.

“Hey, sweetheart.”

“Guitar got cancelled,” Lydia sighed down the phone. “Again.”

You rolled your eyes. “Oh, Lyds.”

“We need a new person, Mum. Mr Williams keeps bailing.”

“I know somebody who could show Mr Williams a thing or two on guitar,” you said with a fond smile. “You remember me talking about Calum Hood, right?”

Calum’s heart skipped a beat. So you hadn’t hid his existence from your daughter? This threw him off even more and it made the question burn his throat as he tried to swallow it back down.

“Are you being serious?” she asked you. “Mum, why are you talking to him? I thought you said he was married and he didn’t know about me being his daughter.”

“He is, Lyd, and he doesn’t. I could tell him if you wanted? We could do this.”

“I thought I had to wait until I was sixteen,” your daughter pointed out.

You bit your lip and sighed. “I did say that.”

“Mum, just come pick me up and we can go home and watch Supernatural with tubs of ice cream,” Lydia said quickly.

“You’re a smart kid,” you told her with a smile, even if she couldn’t see it.

“You raised me, Mum, of course I’m smart,” she laughed. “Now come get me please? My guitar is heavy.”

You told her to give you five minutes and ended the call.

“Is everything okay?” Calum asked. “What did she want me to know?”

“She wanted to know if you’d teach her guitar,” you lied. “Don’t worry about it. But I’ve got to go.”

Calum’s smile sank from his lips as he realised he’d been left with more questions than answers. He wanted to ask you to stay, but he knew you wouldn’t. You wanted to ask him to wait but of course, the boy always had something better to do. You’d found the point you’d been searching for your entire life. You knew what would have happened in the end, because with a love like that, you’d have destroyed each other bit by broken bit. But you guessed your biggest flaws became your saving graces since he never waited and you never stayed.