They were happy, once. Lee remembers it, but it's like an old movie, rather than a memory. So happy. They'd been childhood friends; then they were teenage sweethearts. When they moved in together, Lee was happy. He remembers it clearly, just that day. He was so happy.

Adrian had come over. Swept him up in his arms. Lee'd protested, but only for show. He'd rushed around fixing up the little details and smiling so wide it hurt.

They'd gotten past all of the problems, disapproving family, prejudice and hate, even their own hang-ups. They'd gotten past it all. This was their reward for it. Now they got the 'happily ever after'.

When he got to the bedroom, he'd looked over it and almost cried. This was where they belonged. This was their home. Together. Adrian had come in and pulled him close and...

It didn't last.

They started going out less. Adrian would go places, but Lee didn't. Not that he didn't want to, but Adrian's friends weren't his type of people.

Then, Adrian started making up excuses to not bring him along. He could tell; he'd known him long enough to spot a lie. Adrian would purse his lips and his eyes would dart down for a moment before he answered. Lee still wanted to take that face into his hands and kiss it.

He didn't, though. Adrian wanted to go places, to go see new people. And Lee let him, like he always did.

Adrian's friends hated Lee. Adrian would lie and pretend, but Lee could see it. They didn't think he was good enough. They thought he was dragging Adrian down.

Some days he almost believed them.

Lee could see it happening. Adrian had invited him to a party, one of those big, fancy parties he'd never go to on his own. He didn't mind, though. It was what Adrian wanted and it was rare by then that Adrian really wanted him around with his friends. So he sat in a tux on a chair in a house he'd never seen, alone. Adrian went to get them drinks.

Lee tugged at his collar, hot and uncomfortable, but didn't complain. Everything was so fancy. He didn't like it. It made him nervous. The woman next to him gave him a dirty look. He looked across the room instead.

The world seemed to shift in that moment. A paradigm shift. Lee's world flipped and everything seemed to break. All the cracks, coming together in the middle of his life and shattering.

Off in the corner, he spots Adrian chatting up some blond woman in a blue ball-gown. He wants to charge up there, to say something. He doesn't, doesn't comment at all when Adrian brings their drinks 10 minutes later than it should've taken..

He doesn't say anything when Adrian disappears for hours at a time for weeks later, because as Adrian says he 'isn't his keeper'. He doesn't say anything about the number he finds in Adrian's pant pockets-- written in blue ink, just like her dress, and labeled with the name Rebecca.

When Adrian tells him he's dating her, he wants to make a scene.

Lee wants to scream and yell and throw things. In his mind he watches himself declare, "Well, you can't just have us both! Choose!"

But he doesn't. He won't admit it, not even to himself, but he knows why. Maybe he won't choose him; maybe he loves her more. It's a terrible idea and he finds himself worrying more and more.

Adrian is the perfect boyfriend to her-- the way Lee had always wished he'd be to him. He takes her out and buys her gifts. They're always together. Adrian comes home looking so happy, happier than he'd ever seen him before. Sometimes Lee feels like he's just Adrian's maid, cleaning up after him, rather than his boyfriend.

One day, Adrian brings her back home-- to the apartment they share. It's awkward as Adrian introduces them. They sit in the living room and exchange pleasantries. Lee walks away from the encounter frustrated and even more worried.

She's cute-- even Lee can see that. She's smart. She's interesting and witty and everything Lee wishes he was. When she leaves with Adrian-- presumable to go to dinner, while Lee sits at home again-- he cries in the bed they shared.

He can't... he just can't.

He can't give him up, he loves him. Adrian may treat him like dirt some days, but he loves him.

But, he can't stay either-- it'll kill him faster than leaving.

So he does. He packs up his things in the middle of the night, feeling like a coward all the while. He packs up everything he can, everything not tied down with memories. He leaves most of his things. He packs up clothing-- well, most of his clothing. He leaves his jacket, the green one with the stripes. Every time he sees it, he wants to cry. Adrian bought it for him the year before when they went to DC. He feels stupid and girly with every object he leaves.

In all, he takes very little from the apartment. All of his worldly possessions barely fill one suitcase.

But he makes it out. He leaves town in his broken-up car. He doesn't go far, just far enough to not run into Adrian the next time he goes somewhere. He rents a room in the next town over. The minute he gets there he misses his home.

His quaint little home... with Adrian there, still asleep. He closes his eyes and he can almost see him, just as he was when he left. Dark hair spread out on the pillow, making little noises in his sleep.

He won't see him again. He can't.

Sitting in the middle of the room, looking at the dingy white walls, he dies a little inside.

Now what?

Make a life by himself, perhaps. It'll be lonely, but it's possible. He doesn't need Adrian.

A job, a house, maybe even a life he can enjoy one day.

He can do this.

He can.


AN: Aha! I am alive! This is a pathetic little thing I wrote before 'Coward'. I wasn't planning to post it, but I feel bad about the delay on my other story. My beta is on vacation and hasn't sent me my chapters back. This is unbeta'd. I apologize for any stupid errors I left in.

Please R&R!