The tape is nearly corrupted. He's playing the guitar, singing. Crying. The light of the TV is illuminating the whole room and he doesn't know what to do. Shut it off, he tells himself, but he can't, because he's completely and totally awestruck.
It isn't right. This isn't his house or his tape. But something had been telling him to watch it, a nudge in the wrong direction.
There's a voice offscreen, a quiet, "What are you doing?" A red haired boy comes into the frame.
He stops and scrambles to grab the camera. As he's reaching for it, the video pauses. Nolan's body fills with dread. He looks to his left.
Clayton is standing there, holding the remote. Nolan looks at him, and in his fear finds himself staring for a moment. His dark, sad eyes, and his messy brown hair. The lips he had kissed only once. He looked, and he felt awful.
But instead of yelling, or hitting him, or even looking the slightest bit angry, he sits on the carpet next to him. "Really want to know?" he asked. "I think I'm in a position where I can tell you without getting tears everywhere." He smiled but it was bittersweet, sad.
He felt too awful to make any more eye contact. "Sorry. I...no one will tell me who he is."
"He was my best friend, Thomas. In 10th grade." He closes his eyes for a moment, gathering himself and choking back a sob. "I guess technically we were engaged. You probably wondered about this ring too. He gave it to me a few months...before he died."
Nolan's blood went cold. "Died?"
"It's been...well, in June it was six years ago." He couldn't help it anymore, his cheeks were wet with tears. "I blocked out most of that night, but I remember...in the waiting room. I just /knew/. And I ran down the hall to his room. Saw him die." He takes a breath in. "It was so much stress that I lost my hearing in my right ear." He points to his hearing aid.
"Oh. So that's why you never told us why you had it."
"Yeah." He smiles. "I'm alright. I think I'll be okay. I feel a little better now that I told you. I don't have to like...hide his photos anymore." His smile fades. "But I know I'll never have what I had with him with someone else."
Quietly, Nolan shakes his head. "I think you're right. Just by the way you talk about him...I can tell he was special." All of a sudden, he's crying too. He can feel his mascara running.
"Oh. Oh, before I forget. About last night..." Clayton looks uncomfortable. "That was, you know..."
Nolan wipes his eyes on his sleeve. "Yeah, I know. It felt like more than that though."
He nods, and then looks down. "I'd really like to have something with you, but it just doesn't feel right. Not just you. Anyone. I think...in that aspect I'll never really move on."
"That's fine. I understand." He didn't have the heart to tell him that he had seen Thomas around town. In shops. In school. Everywhere.