It is almost too easy to mistake hate for love, and love for hate. Both run down the same passionate line, and it is a very thin line. Both intense emotions teeter shakily, between one or the otherbut never actually deciding where to fall until the very last moment.
And it was for this reason that Gabriel was more than happy that for them it had for the most part fallen on the side of love.
But just as love and hate often do, whatever emotion that had tugged at the both of them had teetered between the two extremes. There was never a calm, almost indifferent moment. It was always passionate hatred or all-consuming love. There never seemed to be any middle ground between them, and it drove Gabriel crazy. He, better than many he knew personally, knew that there was never any good without the bad, a yin without its yang.
But this was just madness!
Aubrey was a definetly a strange fellow. He couldnt just feel indifferent to something. He had to either hate or love it. Accept it completely, or give it the cold-shoulder. And as Gabriel had come to learn very quickly, Aubrey wasnt exactly the type to pretend he felt the opposite.
But nothing in this world was ever perfect, as Gabriel tried to keep in mind, and he thanked what ever deity existed that for the majority of the time that he had been with Aubrey, he had been pleasant (although a tad quiet). And while he was an extreme kind of person, he was considerate and good-natured.
Sometimes though, Aubrey would catch Gabriel off-guard. Nothing huge or spectacular, but sometimes Aubrey would do odd things at odd times and it never made sense why. Whenever they would go out in public, hand-in-hand despite prying eyes that Aubrey almost seemed to shrink away at, sometimes Gabriel would catch him gazing out into the crowds with a far-away look. These looks always scared Gabriel because he never knew what it was Aubrey was looking for, or thinking about. Sometimes those looks would go on for a long time and it would be as if Gabriel were out on a date by himself. Thankfully, Aubrey usually broke out of his gazes by himself and they would be able to resume their night out.
But these looks liked to come back, without much warning. During a movie they had seen recently, Aubrey had been sitting between Gabriels legs, holding Gabriel's arms around his stomach with a soft grip. But when the orphaned daughter in the movie had finally been reunited with her estranged mother, that grip seemed to have become vice-like until the scene had changed.
But it wasnt like Aubrey openly talked about anything that bothered him. No matter how many times Gabriel sweetly asked his lover if something was on his mind, there was always the silent headshake and a period of silence that followed afterwards. Gabriel wouldve thought that Aubrey wanted to back off entirely if it werent for the hugs hed ask for randomly throughout the day.
As much as Gabriel didnt like to pry, especially when it seemed an endless journey to find the key to open this stubborn lock, this was starting to become really bothersome. How was he supposed to help his lover if he didnt know what was going on?
Sometimes the frustration would simmer and boil until even the normally calm Gabriel went off his rocker.
He learned quite quickly to never suddenly snap at Aubrey over personal things.
Retaliation was never far behind.
Not to mention Gabriel usually ended up losing
What was he to do?
It was something that would keep him up late at night. While hed watch his lover sleep in the calm and silvery moonlight that would stream in from an open window near their bed, hed stroke Aubreys hair gently and wonder. From big to small things. Just what did Aubrey think about daily? What secrets lay dormant, deep within hidden, twisting labrynths? What made him look so nostalgic and lonely randomly throughout his day?
What side of himself did he hide from the world so protectively?
Eventually, these questions would carry Gabriel off into a light sleep, through hazy dreams and cloudy nightmares.
And when he awoke, it was back to the regular routine of secrets and wondering.
Sometimes, through very rare moments of insecurity, Gabriel would even begin to wonder whether or not Aubrey wanted him to know about his personal life. He certainly never offered information about himself, and when asked he got vague answers, they only made Gabriels curiosity stronger.
Did Aubrey even really care about him?
He was scared to know the answer.
Afterall, it was normally him who started conversations and kept them going. He would hold his hand while at the movies, or walking about the town. It was generally him who would hold him close, even in public, and ask him seductively if he wanted to stay the night at his apartment.
Didnt he care?
Was this love one-sided?
The thought made his heart squeeze and ache and his throat tighten.
He wasnt new to heartbreak. He was no stranger to loss. But just because he had experianced façade before didnt make it any easier for him to accept and live with. He had vowed after his last lover that he wouldnt settle for anyone who didnt reciprocate his feelings.
He wasnt a toy.
He wasnt anyone's fuck buddy.
He refused to go back down that road. The fall had been quick but painful. The climb back up had been steep, slow, and rocky. But he had made that climb and he sure as hell wasnt going to let some pretty boy with gorgeous blue eyes and a smile that could literally charm the pants off of him let him fall down a dark and unsteady road like that again.
No way. No how.
He couldnt do this again. It nearly killed him the first time.
But the next day after his usual shift at Café MalChick Lyubov was over and done with, when he went to have a talk with Mr. No-laughs, he found himself unable to get a word out. He knew that he had Aubreys attention, but when he wanted to come out with it and say, listen you! I'm not any pretty boys fuck buddy!, the words just didnt want to come out. There was that familiar ache and suddenly the thought of telling Aubrey off seemed utterly wrong.
So he resolved to do it later, when Aubrey wasnt looking sexy in his fishnet and knee-high, high-heeled boots.
But later would have to wait, because for once, Aubrey surprised Gabriel with a surprise night outa nice romantic dinner out. Candlelight, fancy napkins, five different kinds of forks. Aubrey had told him that he used to come here with his family all the time. Especially for birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving. That sortve thing.
As pleasantly surprising as it was, Gabriel felt almost bittersweet about it. Why this all of a sudden? If things had been going better earlier, he couldve easily overlooked and forgotten all the rest (afterall, forgive and forget was a favourite motto of his), but being with Aubrey had made Gabriel almost suspicious of things. It was an ugly, unnatural feeling but it was what he felt.
But in the candlelight, with the fancy napkins on their laps and four of their forks going to complete waste, Aubrey carried a conversation with Gabriel. Not one as out-going as the average person, but compared to before this was almost a gargantuan leap.
But what had inspired this sudden change?
Unable to keep much quieter about the inner feelings that tossed and tumbled around as if in a blender, Gabriel turned the conversation off into a rather personal conversation. He didnt know whether talking about their private life in a rather expensive and high-class restaurant was bad or not, but at the moment Gabriel didnt care.
He needed to know.
But when he had opened his mouth and had begun, the words he had mentally prepared moments before came out in ways he had never imagined. The bitter hurt and the rejection came out as lonliness and isolation. The saddness he had felt for their five months together suddenly hit him, making him feel incredibly heavy, burdened with carrying on the relationship all on his own in hopes that Aubrey was just in a weird phase and that all would change and everything would be all right. He said things he never he knew that he felt or thought, but once out, he knew it was all true.
The fancy napkins were used for quietly falling tears, not fallen food.
Gabriel expected this to be another part of their relationship he would experience alone, just like everything else. He almost felt humiliated by it too. Sitting there, emotionally alone, with many strangers eyeing him oddly. As if he were on display for them. He hated it.
But the next thing he knew, he found that the seat across him was empty. Foreign but ultimately familiar arms encased him in loving warmth and suddenly his love-starved heart didnt feel so insatiable anymore.
Apologies were whispered in sad and breathy whispers, over and over. Aubrey being unable to express just how sorry he was for being so withdrawn and cold towards Gabriel. Love had been all that he felt for Gabriel, he swore it on his immortal soul. And while he had been struggling with internal feelings and outside conflicts, he reminded them both of them that it was no excuseand that things would be different for now on.
And then Aubrey asked Gabriel something that he had never asked him before.
After paying the overly large bill, they walked out of the restaurant hand-in-hand. Still sniffling but now hopeful, it seemed as though the burden had been almost completely lifted off of Gabriels shoulders.
Halfway back to Aubreys car, Aubrey seemed to stop and look back at the restaurant. Curious, Gabriel turned his still-red and puffy eyes to look back as well. Nothing looked out of the usual. Just a middle-aged man and his equally aged wife walking towards the same restaurant they had left, with a little girl who looked no older than a child. Aubrey continued to stare at them, but it looked as though the man and the wife didnt even notice them. The girl glanced at them quickly before they entered the building, and for a brief moment she even stopped and stared at them. When the father went to retrieve his daughter, he looked down Gabriel and Aubreys way.
He had never seen a gaze so intense, so stern and unkind. And with a voice to match such sternness, he commanded his daughter follow him and ignore them.
Thinking them just some stuffy Conservative family, Gabriel went to make a comment when he caught a familiar nostalgic look on Aubreys face as he still stared out where the girl had once been. A look of such strong and painful remembrance that it suddenly occurred to Gabriel what mightve been bothering Aubrey for this past year. It dawned on him, in a bright yet dark revealing enlightenment.
No wonder Aubrey never asked him to meet his parents
Saying nothing and pretending that he didnt notice the sternness of such a cruel father, Gabriel reassured Aubrey that the night was still youngand that he had, afterall, agreed to Aubreys earlier question.
With heads held up with pride, Gabriel walked Aubrey home, his heart on a high he hadnt felt in a long time. When he squeezed Aubreys hand and leaned over and gently kissed his cheek, he caught the quick flash of a smile and his hand squeezing back.
If there was one thing that Gabriel knew for a fact he loved about Aubrey, it was how such a calm person could hide such a passionate being that revealed itself only when the lights went off, and the warm shadow of the covers fell over them. He found it hard to believe such a withdrawn person could be so openly loving.
His kiss was all he tasted and his body all he felt.
His love was all that he needed and felt.
When the lights went off, so did the rest of the world.
What did anything else matter when he had him by his side?
When those arms held him so closely, and he felt the warm whispers and kisses against his flushed skin, his heart would swell and ache with not pain, but pleasure. It was so much. It felt too big for his chest, too large to contain for very long. And the only way to ease the tightness in his chest was to sing out his love in perfect harmony with his lover, to allow him to consume him whole and to devour him as well.
Gabriel knew that love and hate ran down the same vein and that both also fought for dominance on opposite sides of the scale. Always teteering, never knowing which side it would fall on.
But he knew now what side it had fallen on for them.
I love you
He knew it in his heart.
I love you too.
They needed nothing else, so long as they had their love and those seven words.