We were having a not so great conversation about the past. I hadn’t been surprised by the question in so much that he wanted to know those what ifs. I had played through so many of them, and it all came down to be being scared of his eventual rejection. He said the same thing I told myself, we’d never know how things could have gone. I almost walked away then but the image on the phone I caught a glimpse of and the conversation I only half understood was one of the whole things I’d helped him with as kids. He was so fucking needy that he felt the need to stick with any fucker who would have him.
It pissed me off. Specially as a kid when I wasn’t good enough for him. But then we didn’t share the same things that way. It had never been about feelings, though he took great comfort in me when we were younger, but that stopped right around the same time he started liking boys. I had thought it was because he didn’t like me like that, but in the end I guess it was because he did like me like that. All the things we should have said and we didn’t. It was a fucking mess.
He showed me the dark picture of his beau fucking another guy. I knew that chain and I knew the asshole it belonged to. But what bothered me more was that Nox was in New York and so was I and neither of us knew that. He was so upset he missed that detail too as I texted his fucking boyfriend and took note of his number I’d be having a good long talk with him when I got home. No one treats Nox like a piece of trash.
Nox stared at me as I told him to find someone else. “Like who?” He sighed, “You? As if that were even possible anymore.” He looked at the door we’d come from and leaned against the gate and stared at the stream of light that bid us welcome back inside. “Your girlfriend is probably missing you by now.”
“She’s not my girlfriend. She thinks she’s my agent and she’s a good fuck.”
Nox laughed, “Always the adventure.” He sighed, “Did you ever want to settle down and have a family?” He turned back around and looked out on to the field.
Such a serious question. He looked ready to leave and now he was serious and sorta depressed. “I don’t know.” I answered truthfully. “Never had anyone I wanted to get that serious with.”
“Never?” He asked.
I shook my head, “You?”
“Sean and I were serious when we first met. I was working as sous chef at an Italian place and he was in law school. He said all the right things, took care of things, made me happy. But about three months after we adopted a little boy I caught him cheating. I expect it wasn’t the first, but it was the first one I’d caught him in bed with, in our home. He left, took our son, the courts ruled to put him in foster care and he eventually got adopted again by another family.”
“Why did you ever get back with him after that?” I asked.
“He said all the right things. Said he changed. That he wasn’t ready. All he wanted was back in my bed, and at my dining room table.”
“At least he has good taste.” I chuckled. Nox smiled which was the point of it. “I don’t get it, you know he’s a dick.”
Nox nodded knowingly and gave me a wry smile, “My life isn’t on hold waiting for him. He’s good company. The sex is alright.”
“But he’s not Mr. Right?” I asked.
He laughed, “There is only one Mr. Right, and he’ll never settle down, always live a life of adventure and sex with hot women and pretty men. I don’t even stand a chance anymore. We don’t swim in the same circle anymore.”
It took a little while for the words to sink in, to understand what he’d said. I was Mr. Right? He was waiting for me? “Why would you wait for a prick like that?”
Nox laughed, “He’s not a prick. He just wants different things. He’s sweet and funny and he takes care of me even when I don’t need it. He never says no, and I can’t say no to him. He makes me laugh, we just aren’t on the same page.”
Nox stood up and pushed away from the gate. “We should get back inside.” He walked to the door and pulled it open and looked back at me when I didn’t move. “Before you leave, I got something at my parents house I wanted to give you. Stop by, alright?”
I nodded still staring after him even as he walked away from me. There was no swing in his step, no happy bounce, instead his shoulders were hunched and his hands in his pockets. But as the door swung closed I saw him straighten his back and I knew he was plastering on his fake smile and no one in the world would know he was a sad boy.
I left a few minutes after he did. I didn’t see him in the hall, or even in the gym. I could pick him out of a crowd no matter what. But he wasn’t there.
Max came up to me wrapped his arm around my shoulders, “Let’s get out of here, the booze ran dry and it’s lame.” His girl was on his arm, and Sissy was wrapping her slender arm around my waist but it had been around Max’s blonde. It looked very much like we’d be going home together – to Max’s place I’d hope, god fucking knows I wasn’t going home with them. My parents would kill me.