Saturday, April 19th, 2014
“Would you like to drink the Somersby you left here on Monday?” Liam asked Theo once they had put their underwear back on. After Theo arrived at Liam’s place, it didn’t take long until their bodies were entwined, indulging in some lustful activities.
“Sure,” Theo smiled admiring Liam’s back as he walked out of the room and headed towards the kitchen. Theo followed Liam out of the room just as Liam was exiting the kitchen, a bottle in each hand.
“Here you go,” Liam handed Theo the bottle of cider.
“Cheers,” the two men clinked their bottles before taking a sip, “by the way, do you have a balcony or something?”
“Sadly, no, but if you want to smoke, I can just open a window,” Liam suggested.
“Are you sure? I mean, I don’t mind not smoking either.”
“Yeah, as long as you let me have one as well,” Theo smiled at Liam’s subtle request.
“Okay,” Liam got up and opened the windows of the apartment and grabbed an ashtray, “So, you smoke as well?”
“Sometimes... I guess I’m kind of a social smoker,” Theo handed Liam a cigarette before grabbing one for himself, “Thank you. Have a seat.”
Theo sat down and lit his cigarette before handing the lighter to Liam, who lit his own after placing the ashtray on the coffee table in front of them next to their drinks. Theo looked at Liam standing before him as he took a puff, thoroughly savoring the sight. Liam was definitely one of the most attractive men he had ever been with. “See something you like?” Liam was smirking at Theo.
“Very much,” Theo winked at Liam who just laughed at Theo’s retort before sitting beside him on the couch, “So, you mentioned a lot of shit happened this week. Want to talk about it?”
“Well, there were some problems at work, so I had to work overtime most days until Wednesday and yesterday my ex dropped by,” Liam took a puff from his cigarette before reaching out for a beer. Theo noticed that the boxes were gone, “He came over to get the rest of his stuff. Let’s just say he had a hard time accepting that I’m really done with the relationship...”
“Ouch, yeah that doesn’t sound like a fun week...”
“No, it wasn’t. I really needed this tonight,” Liam smirked at Theo.
“I’m glad I could help,” Theo winked at Liam, who just shook his head as he laughed before turning serious again.
“At least he got the memo now... I just want to move on and I felt like I couldn’t do that with his boxes still here, you know?” Liam looked at Theo, “And now that he is out of my life, I feel kind of lost actually. I don’t really know what to do anymore...”
“Well, what would you like to do? What were your dreams as a kid before you met him?” Theo rested his elbow on the back of the couch, sitting with one leg crossed on top of the couch, as he smoked his cigarette.
“Oh, wow, that was a long time ago,” Liam chuckled, “I guess I never pictured myself staying here in Macau. I wanted to travel the world and see what else is there. I really enjoyed living in the UK, but I would like to try living in other places as well.”
“Why don’t you do that then?” Theo asked as he extinguished his cigarette and reached for his cider.
“I don’t know. I had kind of given up on that idea. I mean, I have a stable job here...” Liam finished his cigarette shortly after Theo and grabbed his drink off the table to take a sip.
“But are you happy? I mean, being here, working as a project manager...” Liam looked away for a bit and thought about how to answer Theo’s loaded question.
“I don’t know. After ten years with someone, I don’t really know who I am anymore. Most of my plans involved him... And then life just kind of threw me this curveball and I am re-evaluating my entire future,” Liam bitterly laughed, his smile not reaching his eyes.
“Maybe you can see this as an opportunity to do what you really wanted to do. If it fails, at least you tried it and you won’t have any regrets,” Theo offered.
Liam was quietly processing the other man’s words and taking the occasional sip from his beer, completely lost in his thoughts. Suddenly, he turned to Theo and said, “You’re right. I hadn’t thought about it that way. Most of my friends and my family would frown upon my idea. You’re the first person to ever tell me to go for it.”
Liam beamed at Theo, making Theo feel a mixture of emotions within him. He felt oddly comfortable around Liam. He could relate to Liam in a lot of ways, having been in a similar position when he had just broken up with Jason and they could bond over that shared negative experience. He could definitely see a loyal friend as well as a confidant in Liam. It was a bittersweet realization because Theo knew that he would eventually have to say goodbye to his new friend. Let him go so he could chase his dreams.
Theo felt deep in his heart that had they met at a different time or under different circumstances, they may have been a beautiful love story, but Theo knew it wasn’t meant to be. Theo’s heart was still seeking an irrational fantasy in the shape of a nightclub dancer and Liam needed to leave his nest to mend his heart and find happiness.
“So, what would be the first place you would visit on your trip around the world?” Theo asked, taking another sip of his drink.
“I’ve always wanted to visit Mexico.”
Liam giggled as he recalled a memory, “I was such a nerd when I was a kid. I would read a lot of books,” Theo smiled as he imagined a small Liam with a pile of books beside him, “And one day I read a book about the Aztec Empire and told my mom: ‘We have to go there! Look, this is so cool!’ And wouldn’t shut up about it. I read more and more about them and it just became my number one travel destination.”
“Why haven’t you already traveled there?” Theo was curious. He would assume that Liam had been to Mexico.
“I was planning on going there after university, to do a gap year, but then Ray and I got together...”
“Oh, is Ray your...?”
“Yeah... So, I never actually went there. And then when I started working, we would end up traveling around Asia. Mexico is too far and I don’t have that many days of annual leave.”
“Understandable,” Theo took out another cigarette, “want another one?”
“No, I’m good,” Liam brought his legs up on the couch and sat with his legs crossed, as Theo lit his cigarette.
“Well, go to Mexico then. Book a flight and go and check out that Aztec history,” Theo said to Liam.
“It’s not that easy. I can’t just leave tomorrow,” Liam chuckled at Theo’s suggestion.
“I didn’t mean tomorrow,” Theo laughed along with Liam, “but it’s an idea to consider.”
“I’ll definitely consider it. Thanks, Theo,” Liam smiled at Theo, who smiled back at him, “but enough about me, how was your week? I feel like we spend most of our time talking about me.”
“Well, we also did spend some time engaging in some fun physical activities,” Theo teased, making Liam chuckle at his remark, “But well, I guess I’m kind of on the same boat as you. It’s been four years, but I still feel kind of lost. I don’t mind my job and I have some amazing friends here, but some days I feel like I’m just floating in this concrete jungle waiting for the next opportunity to arise...”
Theo paused to gather his thoughts before he continued, “I’ve met many different guys, but I still keep comparing. Like, I definitely enjoy spending time with you and having sex with you,” Liam smiled at Theo’s flirty comment, “but at the same time, I only see you as a friend. It sounds kind of stupid, but I felt a spark with my ex and I keep looking for that spark somewhere else...”
“I mean, I get it. I did feel a spark with Ray as well, but at the moment, I want to be single for a while. I don’t know if I’ll ever find that spark again, but it isn’t my concern at the moment,” Theo nodded in understanding, “but have you never met anyone else in these last four years that made you feel a spark?”
“No, well...” Theo remembered the magnetic pull he instantly felt towards the dancers as their eyes met for the first time, “There was one time... but... oh God, this is so stupid!” Theo groaned, burying his head into his elbow crease.
“How come?” Liam seemed genuinely curious.
“I feel even stupid talking about it...”
“Come on, it can’t be that bad. I won’t judge you, I promise,” Liam spoke sincerely.
“Okay, fine. Do you think it is possible to feel a strong connection or magnetic pull towards a perfect stranger?” Theo asked as he took a final puff from his cigarette before putting it out. He wanted to see what Liam’s thoughts on the matter were before disclosing his embarrassing fantasy.
“I mean, every relationship starts as a connection between two people - strangers or friends, so it doesn’t seem too far-fetched,” Liam’s expression remained neutral.
“Well, this will definitely sound weird but one night I went to D2 with my friends... Do you know D2?” Liam nodded before Theo continued, “so, you know that they have a bunch of dance acts, right?” Liam nodded once again.
“Well, I saw a new dancer on stage that day and I felt a spark when I looked into his eyes. An even stronger one than with Jason, which is ridiculous because I don’t know anything about this guy, only his first name.”
“Did you talk to him?” Liam asked, before taking a sip from his beer.
“We bumped into each other in the toilet again and he kind of hit on me before leaving the toilet and I was just frozen.”
“You? Frozen? You seem so confident next to me,” Liam laughed as he gulped the remainder of his beer.
“Yeah, I have no idea why I couldn’t speak at that moment. I rarely am speechless, but I was thrown off by the spark. I felt like I would never feel it again. And then that happened and I was still trying to process it,” Theo finished his drink.
“Have you been to D2 after that? Also, do you want another drink? I have beer, water, tea, coffee...”
“I’ll have a glass of water, please,” Theo smiled at Liam as he walked into the kitchen. The apartment wasn’t very big so Liam could hear Theo talking from the living room, “I went back to D2 once, last week actually. Before we met. I was drunk as hell and asked the bartender if he was going to perform but he wasn’t going to that night, so I headed to another guy’s house. I was a real asshole.”
“How come?” Liam handed Theo a glass of water as he sat down next to him.
“Thanks. And well, I just wanted to fuck and I knew he would be up for it because he had feelings for me and I just stopped mid-fuck and told him to finish himself off,” Theo felt ashamed admitting his horrible past attitude.
“Oh, wow, why did you do that?” Liam appeared to be a bit surprised by Theo’s revelation.
“I was pissed off. I forgot to mention, but I saw that dancer on Grindr and messaged him. He saw but didn’t reply and I was annoyed so I got drunk that night. It’s pathetic. I don’t even know the guy and I shouldn’t be feeling this way, but I do.”
Theo paused, trying to find the words to describe his thoughts coherently, “After Jason broke up with me, I sometimes felt the need to make the wrong decision. While I was with him, I always made the right decisions... and look at where that got me!”
“Wouldn’t you feel bad after making the wrong decision though?” Liam’s eyes were free of judgment.
“I always did. And I was conscious of it even as I was making the wrong decision. But I still couldn’t help it,” Theo wanted Liam to let those words sink in as he thought about how to phrase one of his deepest thoughts. Thoughts he had only shared with Alice and Joel.
“Sometimes I wonder if I do it to punish myself. For not doing well enough in the past... For failing as a boyfriend... For leading someone on... I don’t really know why I do it. I have gotten better at it over the years and with therapy, but last week not getting a reply sparked those same insecurities and I wanted to punish myself,” Theo felt some tears rolling down his face and brought his arm up to wipe them away.
“You shouldn’t be punishing yourself because of another guy,” Liam said looking into Theo’s eyes and caressing Theo’s wet cheek.
“It’s easier said than done,” Theo chuckled bitterly, “Jason did quite a number on me. My therapist told me that I was avoiding facing the relationship for what it was - an abusive relationship.”
“Did he... hit you?” Liam seemed hesitant to ask and even quickly added, “You don’t have to answer if you feel it is too personal!”
“No, I don’t mind. I’ve had time to process it. I know I no longer feel the same way about Jason. Thinking of him now angers me,” he admitted before answering Liam’s question, “he wouldn’t hit me, but he would make me feel like shit. He would tell me I needed to be better at pleasing him and that I needed to always look good. He would insult me and make me feel like no one else would like me. And I believed him. Alice, my friend, never liked him, but I was too blind by love to see reality. I haven’t really bottomed much since the break up because it reminds me of him.”
Theo was in tears. Alice was the only person who knew about it because she had seen him at his worst. Joel and his parents didn’t know the extent of his traumas and Alice wouldn’t have known either had she not been there when he walked out on Jason.
“Oh, wow. He sounds like an asshole and you did the right thing walking away from him. You deserve better and don’t let that jerk steal your future happiness as well,” Liam spoke with some anger in his voice. Theo wiped the tears away and smiled at Liam.
“I know. Thank you for listening to me rambling,” Theo felt Liam wrap his arms around Theo in a hug, so he hugged the other man back.
“Don’t worry about it, but let’s not talk about the past anymore. It’s also getting pretty late, so you’re welcome to sleep over,” Liam offered in a soft inviting voice.
“Thank you,” Theo smiled sincerely.
“Now, show me the dancer on Grindr. You’ve left me curious,” Liam pulled away from the hug and smirked at Theo, who rolled his eyes, though he secretly thanked Liam for changing the topic. Theo wouldn’t let his ex put him in a bad mood any longer.
Theo walked back to Liam’s room to retrieve his phone and logged on to his Grindr account. “Here you go,” he said as he handed his phone to Liam.
“Oh, he’s definitely attractive,” Liam smiled, handing the phone back to Theo, “Are you going back to D2 to see if you bump into him?”
“I don’t know... I mean, he didn’t reply. Maybe he isn’t interested...” Theo’s shoulders slumped.
“Well, you never know. You won’t really know unless you try. It’s kind of like what you told me - if he tells you he isn’t interested, at least you’ll know and not keep wondering what if...” Liam smiled at Theo, having given the same advice Theo had given him. Theo laughed lightheartedly at Liam’s guidance.
“I guess I better practice what I preach, huh?”
“I think it’s worth a shot. Even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll definitely meet someone great again. I may not have known you for a long time, but it kind of feels like I’ve known you for much longer. I feel at ease around you.”
Theo looked back at Liam and wondered why he couldn’t feel a spark with him. He hadn’t ever been that raw and honest with a partner ever since he had dated Jason, but it was as if his heart were telling him it wasn’t meant to be. Their love story was never meant to take off. It hadn’t even been given wings.
And yet, Theo couldn’t help but smile and appreciate having met the beautiful soul sitting beside him on the couch at a time in his life where he felt like he needed someone he could connect with. Fortunately for Theo, Liam had also been wandering, seeking the company of another lonesome spirit, lost in his own boat.
They’d crossed paths at the right moment in time to share a journey on the path to healing, but they were fated to be nothing more than perpendicular lines - inevitably parting ways to walk on own separate trails to happiness.