The drama was over.
Or at least Dallon hoped that it was.
He was moving on, doing bigger and better things, being the professional that he was; the professional he should have acted like through this entire escapade but hell, he was human and the bullcrap that transpired incited the fire in him he’d kept dormant for a couple of years.
Dallon was feeling better, happier, and most of all, he was excited. Going to New York was a spontaneous move, but he had been invited out there by his friend Nate, who he recently had the pleasure of reconnecting with.
Nate was easy to talk to. From their couple of conversations, Dallon felt at ease and happy, joking around; and when Nate suggested that he come out to Manhattan to have a few beers and chill out, Dallon couldn’t say no. He knew that he needed to get out of California and try to make a fresh start elsewhere before he had to drag himself back so that the band could start writing their new album.
Nate grabbed him at the airport when he landed, a huge smile grew across Dallon’s face as he hugged Nate tight, spewing the ‘It’s so good to see you’s” and “how have you been?” Their conversations were light as they traveled back to Nate’s, dropping Dallon’s stuff off in the closet of a room. (It was a room, Dallon wasn’t complaining).
Later on that night, Nate had promised an outing on the town with a few friends and as much as Dallon was apprehensive about it at first, he was having a good time.
The bar was one that Dallon had never been to. It was small, but not overwhelmingly. The atmosphere was calming, the people relatively tame for a bar setting. Dallon took a swig of his beer that was handed to him, glancing at the man next to him. “Thanks for this. I really needed it,” He smiled at Nate, watching his every move, taking in the other man’s mannerisms as he remained silent, waiting for Nate to respond.
New York City was the center of the universe; no matter what anyone said different, Nate’s mentality was always here. The worries were no different than that of any other place, but the feeling was completely polar to that of small town minds and small town thoughts. This was the city of dreams, and Nate felt that’s exactly what he had been living. Things with fun. had been going well, better than he anticipated and just as he had dreamed. Touring with Panic, most recently, had been an eye-opening expirience and he was glad to have claimed it for his own.
“You’re more than welcome,” Nate said across the booth from Dallon, a wry grin painted against his features. He was thin, but handsome, tawny hair a bit choppy and long under the hood of his navy hooded sweater. His hands wrestled against the neck of a beer bottle, tipping it back over his lips and down his throat with a pleased sound drawing from his chest.
“This cover band is the worst, ever,” he told his friend with a laugh, smile lines creased into his features as he thumbed back his brows. “They look like they live in their mom’s basement. But — it’s like this,” he explained over the lull of conversation in the din of the room. “They do it with such conviction, it makes it more of a feel-good comedy than a tragedy. They don’t care that they suck, they just love to do it,” he told him, wetting his lips as he smiled. “Good seeing you back around. You’re alright on the eyes, I guess,” he teased with a quirk of his brow.
Dallon laughed, taking another sip of his beer. “You flatter me,” he smirked, listening to Nate explain about the terrible band up on the small stage. They were horrible, just as Nate described, but Dallon didn’t mind it. He was glad to have a break from the drama and spend some time in New York, ‘partying hard’ and enjoying the company of people other than his bandmates.
“Glad to be back.” Dallon licked his lips, shivering at the bitter taste of the beer. “You’re looking well.” Laughing a little, Dallon fidgeted with his beer bottle, tuning out of the other conversations happening around him. He didn’t know why he felt awkward as easy as Nate made things seem. Dallon was still hurting, there was no denying it, so letting other people in was a harder. He was supposed to be having a good time, and he was so far. He just hoped his negative thoughts wouldn’t catch up on him.
“So tell me,” Nate said, relaxing back as he dove his hand into the dish of peanuts that sat between them, a tea light setting the lowkey bar mood. The Metallica band played ‘One’ on the stage, the lead vocalist gurgling his way through it almost comically, his eyes crossed with feeling. “This love triangle you were in - the one that wasn’t a pizza - are you still in it or..?” he questioned. “I don’t mean to barge, man. I don’t mean to, you know, poke my nose in. Just wondering how things are, I guess,” he said with a smile and a quirked brow.
“It’s fine,” Dallon laughed a little, watching Nate dive into the peanuts in front of them, following suit after he removed his own hand, popping a couple in his mouth before speaking again. “I’m not in it anymore, no. It was hell, and I’m glad it’s over.” Dallon shook his head, trying to block out the terrible singing in the background while at the same time attempting to try and forget the past events as they flowed back all at once. “It was stupid, trivial bullcrap that should have never happened.” he sighed, taking another peanut, “Sorry, it’s kind of hard to talk about,” Dallon added quickly, “But don’t feel bad asking, I can’t keep it in forever, you know? Not exactly healthy.”
“You know what else isn’t healthy?” Nate rounded with a smirk, tipping his beer back. “Riding a bull in a tank full of sharks,” he chuckled, looking back to the peanuts. “Eating these? Some drunk guy who didn’t double tap after taking a leak stuck his hand in these. This is probably not healthy,” he said, taking up a scoop of the salted nuts regardless. He was a dude - guys didn’t particularly give a shit about that sort of nonsense. They were rough and tumble and peed standing up. “You’re here to take a breath and be Dallon,” he told him, pointing to the man from where he gripped his beer bottle. “And know that it’s the best thing to be.”
Dallon listened intently, a little cautious about putting his hand back into the peanut bowl, but he gave in because hell, he was hungry and food is food. He breathed in and out, contemplating what to say next because, “I don’t like Dallon, though,” he answered, internally hitting himself for being such a downer. “I’d rather be someone else. This Dallon is a complete asshole and an anger ridden maniac.” Shaking his head, Dallon finished up his beer, blushing a little in embarrassment from being so negative. “I’m not normally like this, I’m sorry. I should try to enjoy myself.”
Nate’s brows raised against his forehead, watching the other man across the way with a look of befuddlement. “A what?” he chuckled. “You’re a zen dude, Dallon. Nothing about you is … asshole-ish or anger — maniac?” he laughed, his dull fingertips scratching against the side of his jawline. “What’s this about man? I’m missing a part of the puzzle that you’ve got to fill me in on,” he told him, ordering them some onion rings and fries to split and eat between them while they drank.
Dallon sighed. He knew that he would have to tell Nate at some point in the night so he should spit it out while they were on the subject. “In the love triangle, I became a completely different person,” Dallon took a breath, watching his callused hands intertwine with each other in a nervous movement as he spoke, letting the breath out shakily, “I was highly protective of the other man,” Dallon recalled, smiling small, “and when things went to hell, I was destructive. I got into a fist fight with the other man who my ex cheated on me with, and not to mention I slapped my ex in the face,” He shook his head, picking at his fingertips, “That is my reasoning for not wanting to be myself.” Shrugging, Dallon reluctantly looked up at the man across from him, watching his expression for a look of disgust or anything negative that would prove to Dallon that he was indeed, a monster of some sort.
Dallon was not met with a single expression of horror or disgust. Instead, he found Nate watching him with a curious expression. “That’s it?” he asked, leaning forward. “I’m going to let you in on a little something, my friend,” he told him in a soft tone. “You got cheated on. And you got mad. Because? Cheating is wrong. If you’re smacking another dude for being a complete dick, I don’t see anything wrong with that. I’d do the same. And fighting? It happens. I got in a fight, like a month ago. About — peanuts, these table peanuts,” he gestured with a laugh. “You’re not a monster for having feelings. You’re human. And I like you just how you are.”
He blinked his eyes and checked to hearing to make sure that he was understanding what Nate had just told him.
Dallon had been used to being the monster the entire time, hearing from everyone how terrible it was that he had ‘beaten brendon’, (when he knew he didn’t), and how he needed to grow the hell up. He blamed himself for slapping Brendon after Brendon cheated on him, and at the moment, he was beginning to see how ridiculously self-loathing he had been about himself.
And at the moment, he couldn’t help but blush. I like you just how you are. “You do?” Dallon asked incredulously, eyeing Nate, trying to figure out if this was actually happening.
Nate gave a friendly shrug in response. “Yeah man. It’s like, you can only push a dude so far. If someone cheated on me, I’d be pissed. That’s not cool, that’s not fair,” he told him. “I guess I hold guys to a different standard. We process things differently, have different anticipations and expectations. If you and I got tanked and got into a fist fight, the next day it would be fine. I can write that on a check and take it to the bank,” he told him, his finger pointing to the table to drive his emphasis. “No disrespect to the other angles of your triangle,” he added with a chuckle, shrugging again. “I just don’t see it like it’s a big deal. Or that you’re a bad dude. Can’t take on more than you should,” he said, ordering up another beer as their food was brought to them.
He couldn’t stop blinking as Nate continued on, treating the situation like it was no big deal. Maybe it wasn’t a big deal, and he had completely thrown it out of proportion? “Now I feel like an idiot,” Dallon chuckled, clicking his tongue, “I had this notion that I was a tyrant bent on destroying love lives and the lives of everyone around me.” His hand rubbed both of his eyes as he smiled, dropping his hand after a couple of seconds to continue, “This entire time I felt like a villain and in a matter of minutes you’ve managed to help me see the complete opposite.” Dallon studied Nate, looking at him in bewilderment. “I could have used you through all of that crap to be my voice of reason.”
“Well you’ve got me now, man,” Nate said, holding up his new beer in a cheers before downing an onion ring. “It’s easy to get lost in the midst of things when you’re in it, you know? But now you’re not. And shit gets better. It always does. Our bones break and mend, and so too does the mind,” he explained, turning to watch the awful guitar solo occurring on stage with a grin.
“For now, we have us. And our waining sanity,” he told him.
And he meant every word.