A/N: Another quick one-shot. It's the first time I write Zoë, and I quite enjoyed it. Hope you like it!


LITTLE TALKS

And some days I can't even trust myself
It's killing me to see you this way
(Of Monsters And Men – Little Talks)

One

It was the end of a long day. Zoë stood in the student council office, alone, the last of her fellow students already out and on their way home. Today had been challenging, in between AP classes and a double headache of an events budget, but in all honesty, Zoë wasn't relieved to be finally alone. Being alone meant she had nothing to distract her, to trick her mind into not noticing the uneasy feeling that had been with her all day, after the angry confrontation with Miles in first period.

Senior year had definitely not started in a way Zoё would have ever imagined. For once, she was student council president, a fact she still struggled to wrap her head around. She, Zoё Rivas, West Drive teen star and professional academic underachiever. Who would have guessed, indeed. But, most importantly, senior year was nothing like she had imagined because her best friend was lying senseless in a hospital bed since before summer.

Miles was right. Zoё had been a crummy friend to Tristan, recently, hardly finding the time to go visit him at the hospital. She knew that; still, his words had got to her in a way she couldn't quite explain.

Like you're there every night, "best friend"!

No doubt, those words were said specifically with the intent to hurt her, Zoё knew this as well. Hardly surprising, given she had basically just accused him of cheating on his comatose boyfriend, who also so happened to be her very own best friend – and no, there were no quotation marks around it.

Tristan was her best friend. Yes, they bickered all the time like a married couple, but she had also never had another relationship that was so open and honest. And she missed him like crazy, and the thought of never getting him back terrified her.

She didn't hold it against Miles, though. He was clearly struggling with the entire situation, anyone could see it, and unsurprisingly so. Those two had been destined for a great romance from the moment they met each other (although it took them a few trials and a lot of drama to actually get there) and suddenly, when everything seemed to finally line up for the best, tragedy struck them.

However, Miles was wrong in assuming nobody understood what he was going through. Sure, Zoë wasn't in love with Tristan, but she loved him to pieces, and missed him, and it hurt like hell to see him lying motionless on that bed. This is partly why she kept busy, with student council and stuff, and avoided visiting him as often as she knew she should.

Miles's words were a wake-up call though, so that same night she picked up her flowers, took a deep breath, and headed to the hospital.

She walked down the all-too-familiar corridor, but as she reached the door she froze in her spot, stopped still by a voice coming from inside.

"I'm trapped, and it's killing me…"

It was Miles's voice, one she hadn't expected to find here. Maybe hers was not the only wake-up call of the day, after all.

It was clearly a private moment between Miles and Tristan, and Zoë found herself cornered, not wanting to interrupt and yet unable to leave. Miles's voice was low and coarse, and so absolutely broken that it made something resonate painfully inside of her.

"Is there a point in me being here at all, I feel like I'm talking to a corpse!" Miles suddenly cried out, startling her. Zoë shivered at the angry words, but their raw honesty hit her hard.

"I don't… I don't want to leave you," Miles went on, "But I don't know how I can stay." His voice was softer, now, making him sound vulnerable in a way she had rarely witnessed.

"Wouldn't it be… amazing if you woke up just now?" asked Miles, and Zoë's heart almost fell in her chest.

"Please?" he added, in the most heart-wrenching, hopeful voice she'd ever heard.

"Wake up," Miles pleaded, "Come back to me, Tristan, please… wake up…"

Tears were running freely down her cheeks, wet and salty and warm. Zoë couldn't see Miles's face, from where she was standing, but she didn't need to in order to know that she wasn't the only one crying. The sounds that came out with his every breath were heartbreaking, each loud sob scorching a bit deeper into Zoë's own soul.

"Wake up! Wake up, wake up!"

God was this painful. In a fit of impulse, Zoë forgot all about her not wanting to intrude; instead, she dropped her flowers down on the nearest surface and ran through the room to pull Miles into a hug. He was a complete mess, shoulders shaken by uncontrolled sobs, tears wetting the bedsheets he was clutching convulsively in his fists. Zoë leaned down against his back, holding him in her arms in a vain attempt to give him comfort, and for a while they just cried together, tears and sobs morphing into each other's.

TWO

"Thanks for the coffee," he told her, his eyes low.

They were sitting in a diner just across the street from the hospital, which at least wasn't as depressing as the cafeteria of the long-term ward.

"Of course," Zoë replied, trying not to make a big deal out of it. "I think we both needed to get out of there."

Miles didn't answer, his gaze still pointed to his coffee mug. He looked completely uneasy, and Zoë herself wasn't exactly at her most comfortable. She had only seen Miles cry once, before, the day of the bus crash, and it had been different, back then: everyone was panicking, the emergency room packed with worried parents and injured students, everyone around them was crying. It hadn't felt this personal. Now, it looked like Miles was sorely regretting his recent meltdown, and Zoë felt a growing sense of guilt for having witnessed it.

Still. No matter their rocky relationship, Miles was one of her closest friends. He had been there for her at times when she had virtually no-one else, and had given her a second chance even when she didn't deserve one. He had seen her at her worse and hadn't judged her for it, and Zoë just hoped he knew that she was ready to return the favour.

"I wish you didn't feel this embarrassed in front of me," she offered, softly, "There really is no need."

That, at last, made Miles look up from his coffee, his big hazel eyes staring right into hers. He seemed so lost, and genuinely unhappy, that Zoë felt the urge to walk around the table, kiss him on the cheek, and let him cry some more on her shoulder. She wasn't about to do any of those things, obviously. Nobody likes to be commiserated, and she had already overstepped once, today.

Miles diverted his eyes once more, looking a bit flustered.

"I'm sorry. I just…"

He left the sentence hanging, clenching his jaw instead.

"No, I'm sorry," she offered, searching for his gaze, "I shouldn't have been so harsh to you, this morning. I know how hard this is for you."

Miles didn't respond, his stare once again lost into nothing in particular. They sat quietly for a while, their coffees all but forgotten.

"I miss him too, you know? A lot," she whispered, finally, breaking the heavy silence between them.

And, to that, he suddenly looked up, a gentler expression on his face. Like he had finally realised there were two of them, that afternoon, crying over Tristan's bed.

"I know," he conceded, and he looked at her in a way that suddenly made Zoë feel vulnerable and exposed, to the point that she was the one dodging his gaze, this time.

"I have been writing about it, you know," he confessed, quietly. "The crash, and everything. It's weird, I don't know how I started, but nobody was talking about anything, and I just… I don't know. It helps, somehow."

"What, like a diary?"

"Not exactly, no. I mean, sure, in a way, but it's more like a… like a story, or something."

Zoë's mind randomly focused on the image of Miles, sitting on his bed, writing Tristan's story in a leather-bound journal. She snapped herself out of it, wondering why on earth she had to make a teen-drama out of this, and then suddenly an idea formed in her mind – a good one, this time.

"Grace and Jonah are writing up this music for the school play, based on the bus crash," she told him, almost hesitant. "Do you… do you think your story could be adapted into a play?"

"A play?" asked Miles.

"Yes, I mean… if you're interested? I know they're having a hard time writing it. I heard the tracks, they're pretty good!" she hesitated, taking in his reaction. He didn't seem particularly thrilled, but not completely put off either. "I really think it would be good for you, to have something to take your mind off things," she insisted.

Miles gave her a knowing look, an eyebrow raised, and for the first time this afternoon she recognised her friend looking at her.

"…How would writing about the crash take my mind off things, exactly?" he challenged her, but he was sort of grinning.

"You know what I mean," Zoë remarked, a little smile of her own, "Getting involved with a school club, being busy quarrelling with the actors… that kind of stuff!"

Miles leaned back in his chair, and there was a certain kindness in his eyes, an unmistakeable degree of affection.

"Look at you, Miss Student Council President, tricking me into participating in school activities…"

"Well, that's what I'm here for!" she teased him, and they both laughed.

It felt good.

"Seriously, though," she made her case, "You need a distraction, or you'll go insane. And you said that writing helps…"

"Yeah, actually… it doesn't sound too bad," he offered.

"I can fix you a meeting for tomorrow, if you want. Do you think you can pitch your story?"

"Yes, no problem. At least it'll give me something to do tonight…"

Zoë looked at him, almost scrutinising him. Miles was back at staring into his coffee, fidgeting with the cup in his hands, but this time the faintest smile was curving his lips. She didn't even remember the last time she'd seen him smile, before today.

Maybe, for once, she was doing something right. And it felt good, real good.

When they eventually got back to the parking lot, and Miles walked her to her car, he leaned in and wrapped his arms around her shoulders as they said their goodbyes.

"Thanks, Zoë," he muttered quietly in her ear.

She hugged him back, maybe holding him a little tighter than she normally would.

"No problem."