Will was shaking and Paul didn't know how to make it stop – he couldn't take him in his arms and soothe his fears. Not now.

"Will," he spoke steadily, a total contrast from the distress whirling around inside of him. "I'm sorry." He didn't quite know what he was apologizing for (wasn't he the wronged party here?) but the impulse came naturally and it was sincere.

"I love you." Will's face was a mess of tears, and Paul found his eyes prickling and his resolve weakening at the sight.

"I know," Paul nodded. "I love you too." His voice hitched on the last word and he had to look down to find his strength again. "But I can't stay. Not after this."

They sat in silence for a moment, side by side on Will's bed. It was a position that had become so familiar over the past six months. Paul felt more at home beside Will than he had, maybe, ever. He almost laughed at that.

Of course it would end like this.

"I know I messed up." Will's voice was strong and there was a conviction there that surprised Paul. "But I am sorry and I love you, Paul. Please."

Will turned to face him then, reaching for his hands. Paul felt the same urge almost just as desperately.

"I promise you, it didn't mean anything to me."

Paul huffed out a breath and stared at their laced fingers. "I think that actually makes it worse."


"I don't deserve you. I never did."

"It's not about what you do or don't deserve, Will." Paul's voice was quiet, and he couldn't help it then: almost unconsciously his body moved closer to Will's, craving the connection.

"I'm sorry I hurt you."

Suddenly Paul was met with a lump in his throat and an acute throb deep in his chest. He didn't respond, didn't know what would come out if he tried.


"Alright, Sami Jr." Paul nudged Will jokingly, a small chuckle escaping his lips.

They conversed amicably, shifting into a post-mortem examination of their relationship with surprising ease. Like it wasn't even happening to them. Like they were spectators observing the demise of somebody else's future.

"Shut up," Will laughed, wiping an errant tear from his cheek. "So…"

"So," Paul drew a long breath, his eyes surveying the room slowly as the reality of their situation hit him. His heart was heavy. "I'm gonna pack up my things."

It was almost strange how even in this moment, he couldn't bring himself to anything other than resignation. He understood, he really did. He should have predicted this.

Well, he kind of did.

Standing from his place on Will's bed, he rubbed his palms along his thighs anxiously. The need for flight came with such an intensity that it nearly brought him to his knees.

"Actually, do you think I could stop by tomorrow instead?" Paul's eyes darted across Will's face. He felt like he was suffocating as he moved towards the front door, seeking any form of self-preservation he could still muster. "I know you're working, but I could come by during the day. I'll leave the spare key under the mat—"

Will looked at him with red-rimmed eyes, his expression full of regret. "Yeah, of course. It- it's fine, leave your key under the mat."

"Thanks." Paul forced a small smile before he turned and left.

Taking a deep breath, he let his body rest against the shut door.

And he'd thought being left at the alter was bad. Saying goodbye to Will Horton was crushing.