**This story involves maleXmale relationships. If you are not comfortable with such relationships, there is a back button on your browser for a reason. Don't waste your time and mine by telling me how immoral/disgusting/etc. you think it is.**
-The End of the World (as Gabe knows It)
"I'm sorry, Gabe, really I am, but I'm not good for you."
I can do better than you.
"Please, don't take it personally."
I'm purposefully trying to rip your heart out.
"It's just that we have two different ideas of where this relationship is going between us."
I've found someone else.
"You understand, don't you?"
It's just that simple.
"Huh? Oh yeah. I understand."
"Good. I hope we can still be friends."
I never really loved you in the first place.
"But anyway, I've got to go. I'll see you around sometime, OK?"
I'm never going to see you again.
"Yeah. Sure. Whatever."
Then he walks away. Lincoln. The boy that Gabe has spent the last two years of his life pining after just walks away as if he's never meant anything to him. Lincoln's gone. No longer does Gabe have the opportunity to run his fingers through his jet black hair or stare into his dark brown eyes for hours upon end.
Lincoln's moved on, and Gabe's stuck at the mall he hadn't even wanted to go to in the first place without a ride home. Gabe should have been smart enough to have driven himself, but he wasn't. He completely ignored the fact that Lincoln had been distant for quite some time now and that Lincoln was prone to severe mood swings around Gabe.
Gabe should have expected to be stranded at the mall, but he didn't. His insides feel like they've been ripped out and driven over with a fully-loaded eighteen wheeler truck, whose wheels are made not of rubber but of spiky steel. He has the urge to double over on himself, but he resists at the last second. He doesn't need everyone knowing that Lincoln has just trampled all over his heart.
After a few minutes, Gabe finally pushes himself away from the wall. He searches in his pocket for his cell phone, wondering who he can call to give him a ride home.
"Gabe? What are you doing here?"
Gabe spins on his heel and feels relief rush through his otherwise grieving body. It's Kyra and Auggie. Gabe has never been so happy to see them.
"Are you OK?" Kyra asks, abandoning her previous question as she takes in her friend's demeanor.
Gabe opens his mouth to affirm that he is, but he can't bring himself to lie. No, he isn't OK. Lincoln just destroyed him without caring at all. Gabe feels himself go weak at the knees.
Auggie quickly reacts and catches Gabe before he can fall completely to the ground. He leads Gabe over to the nearest bench and sits him down.
Gabe vaguely wonders what random passers-by thinks of the three of them. They're a trio of misfits, bonded together through years of friendship. Auggie is tall and well-built. His hair was light brown and cut short around his head, and his eyes are a mixture between blue and green. Kyra is also tall, for a female, and graceful. Her eyes are sparkling green, and her hair is long and brown. Gabe, on the other hand, is around the same height as Kyra. His eyes are light brown and his hair is a faded blond.
"What happened?" Kyra asks, knowing it isn't Auggie's style to ask.
Gabe tries to form a coherent sentence but his throat clogs up and all he manages to gasp out is, "Lincoln."
But Gabe doesn't need to say anything else. Auggie and Kyra meet each other's eyes. They both know what has just happened. They had been expecting Lincoln to break up with Gabe for a while now.
"He's a jerk, Gabe. You can do better than him," Kyra insists.
You can't do better than him, but that would sound rude.
Kyra, still holding her gaze with Auggie, nods towards Gabe. Auggie takes a deep breath and hopes he says the right thing.
"Kyra's right, Gabe. Lincoln's an ass. I've said so for a while now."
I told you so.
Kyra huffs and rolls her eyes. Auggie reckons that wasn't the best thing to say, but he can't take it back now.
"Why don't we go catch a movie?" Kyra suggests. "That new one's out that you've been wanting to see."
"It'll do you some good to get your mind off things," Auggie adds in an attempt to smooth over his earlier blunder.
We don't want to deal with your problems right now, Gabe.
Gabe looks over at his friend. Kyra gives him an expectant look.
"A movie sounds fine," Gabe says in a monotone voice.
Kyra and Auggie share another glance before standing up. Auggie hauls Gabe to his feet as well. The three start to walk towards the theatre at a slow pace.
Gabe can't bring himself to walk any faster. He feels tired. His insides still feel like they're being ripped out and trampled upon. Every step Gabe takes is painful. In his mind's eye, he can still see Lincoln walking away from him.
Sooner than he realizes, the three make it to the movie theatre. Auggie offers to buy the tickets. Kyra pulls a submissive Gabe to the concession line.
"It's not the end of the world, Gabe," Kyra says softly. "It'll get better. Trust me."
But Gabe doesn't hear her words. His attention is on the boy standing in the next line over. The boy is wearing designer clothes and a fancy wrist watch that looks like a family heirloom. He stands taller than Gabe and everyone else around him. His hair is dark red, almost brown, and cut closely around his head. Gabe can't see the boy's face but knows without the boy turning around that it's perfectly aligned and handsomely set.
There are two other boys flanking him. The one on his right is light haired and slightly shorter than the boy. The one on the left is a bit shorter than the boy and has dark hair. Gabe doesn't pay much attention to the other two boys. They're not who Gabe's attention is drawn to.
The pain and grief that Lincoln had bestowed upon Gabe a few minutes prior disappears almost instantly. Gabe knows it's only temporary, but he drinks up the feeling as if he's dehydrated. It's a nice impermanent band-aid, and he's selfish with it. He wants to exploit it as much as he can.
"Gabe?" Kyra asks uncertainly, her eyes traveling to the three boys Gabe is zoned in on.
Gabe continues to ignore her as he watches the boy reach into his back pocket and produce a brown leather wallet. The boy says something to his two friends, who laugh in response. Gabe soaks in their laughter, especially after the boy joins in with his friend.
Gabe can almost forget the pain he should be feeling.
"Do you know them?" Kyra asks.
Gabe finally acknowledges her words with a shake of his head. He doesn't know them, but he wishes he did.
"Oh, I thought you might," she goes onto say.
The boy and his friends have received their snacks—three large tubs of popcorn, three large drinks, and four packages of assorted chocolates—and are walking away from Gabe. Gabe watches them disappear down the hallway, and the pain that he'd been temporarily relieved of returns full force.
Gabe has to grip the counter in front of him to keep from collapsing to the ground. Every inch of his body hurts. His nerves are once again on fire. His lungs protest the air he's breathed in.
The girl selling concessions gives Gabe an odd look. Gabe fights to keep himself together.
Auggie rejoins the pair as the girl hands Kyra the snacks. Auggie takes the two tubs of popcorn and bag of candy. Kyra carries the rest. Neither one trust Gabe not to spill anything in his state.
They walk down the same hallway Gabe had watched the boy and his friends walk down a few minutes ago. When they reach the appropriate door, they enter the barely lit room. Auggie leads the way and picks three seats near the back.
The room is nearly full so there are three people sitting in the row already. Auggie sits on the end, and Kyra sits beside of him. That leaves only one seat between Kyra and a stranger for Gabe to take, but Gabe doesn't mind sitting beside of a stranger.
Gabe sits down, leaning closer to Kyra than to red-headed boy beside of him. Auggie places his drink in the cup holder between him and Kyra because there's not one on the other arm rest. Kyra places hers in the cup hold between her and Gabe. She hands Gabe his drink. Gabe decides it's probably a better idea to sit it in the floor than to hold it, especially since his hands are shaking vigorously. He moves to place in on the floor but is stopped.
"You can use this cup holder," the boy on his left says to him, and Gabe can't explain the surge of exhilaration that courses through his veins. "I don't mind."
Gabe looks over at the boy and instantly knows why the pain in his body is once again gone. It's the boy from earlier, and Gabe was correct in his previous assumption about the boy's face: it's handsome. The boy's cheekbones are high, and his forehead is long. His jaw is sharp, but the most remarkable feature of his face is his eyes; they're slate gray and penetratingly intense. Gabe resists the urge to squirm under the boy's gaze.
"Thank you," Gabe says quietly as he places his drink in the cup holder. He hopes the other boy can't hear the break in his voice.
"I'm Henry, by the way."
Henry. Gabe repeats the name in his head and smiles. The name fits the boy perfectly. It's old-fashioned like the wrist watch on his right hand. (Gabe assumes he's a leftie.) It's elegant like his clothing. It's strong like the build of his body.
"Is Gabe short for something?" Henry asks.
Gabe revels in the sound of his name upon Henry's lips. He never knew his name could sound so… perfect. (Lincoln had never said Gabe's name like that.)
"Gabriel, like one of the archangels," Gabe replies, because Henry isn't worthy of a one-word answer.
Gabe sees, in the dimly lit room, Henry smile at his response. Henry opens his mouth to speak to Gabe again, but his cell phone buzzes in his pocket. He gives Gabe an apologetic smile and turns his attention to his phone.
While Henry ignores Gabe, the grief threatens to overtake Gabe once again. Gabe vaguely wonders if it's more torturous to be given a break from the pain. The pain seems worse now that he's had a temporary break from it than it did when Lincoln first walked away. Gabe's palms get clammy. His mouth goes dry. His breathing quickens. Gabe wonders if the pain will ever ebb.
Then Henry shuts his phone and turns back to Gabe.
"Does your friend have a pen or marker in her purse that I could borrow?"
The pain and grief that courses through Gabe's body lessens with every word Henry speaks. It takes Gabe a few seconds to collect himself and turn to Kyra.
"Do you have a pen or marker?"
She, having listened to the exchange between Gabe and Henry, gives him only the quickest expression of wonder before picking up her purse. She rummages through it for a minute and produces a pink marker. She hands it over to Gabe.
"This is all I've got," she says almost apologetically.
Gabe hands it to Henry.
"Is this OK?"
"Perfect," Henry replies as he uncaps the marker.
Holding the pink marker in his left hand, he holds up his right hand and writes BREAK UP WITH NORAH in a large and precise script. Gabe ignores the jolt of disappointment that rushes through him. Norah is most definitely a girl. Henry would never be interested in Gabe.
Gabe deflates just slightly, and the pain that Henry had thus far kept away from Gabe returns. Gabe takes a shaky breath to calm himself.
Henry recaps the marker and hands it back to Gabe. Gabe robotically hands it to Kyra.
"She's driving me insane," Henry says conversationally.
Gabe makes a sound in his throat because he can't bring himself to produce any words.
"Always wanting to crowd me and parade me around like a charity case. She says she changed me, you know, but she didn't. I've never been picky. I prefer what's on the inside as opposed to the out—or at least I used to. I'm beginning to seriously consider to just forego any and all women and stick to men."
Gabe looks over at Henry in surprise, hardly bringing himself to believe Henry's implication. Henry misinterprets Gabe's surprise.
"I hope that doesn't offend you that I'm bi. I didn't think it would, but I guess I must have pegged you wrong. I could have sworn you were gay."
Gabe opens his mouth to tell Henry that he hadn't misread Gabe and that Gabe is gay, but the lights dim in the theatre and the previews start playing. Henry's eyes leave Gabe's face for the screen he paid to watch. It takes Gabe four previews to finally turn his attention to the screen as well.
Throughout the movie, Gabe alternates between wallowing in the searing pain and heartache that Lincoln left in his wake and basking in the joyous and whole feeling that comes from being inches away from Henry. Gabe's mildly concerned that a stranger can produce these feelings, but he quickly pushes that thought out of his mind; he doesn't care for the specifics and consequences now. He just doesn't want to hurt.
The movie finally ends, both too quickly and too soon for Gabe's liking. Auggie and Kyra shuffle around the popcorn bowls and drinks. Gabe grabs for his drink and instead clasps Henry's hand. Gabe jumps in surprise. Henry's grip tightens quickly before the two boys let go.
"I'm sorry," Gabe rushes.
Henry grins widely at Gabe and shrugs.
"It was an accident," Henry says nonchalantly.
Gabe nods his head, wishing he could think of a witty remark. He's got nothing though, and Kyra calls his name.
"Gabe? Are you ready?"
Henry's smile fades. He bites his lips together and nods toward Kyra and Auggie.
"Your girlfriend's waiting for you."
"She's not my girlfriend."
Henry's muscles twitch.
"I know this might be a bit sudden, but what are you doing tomorrow night?"
"N-Nothing," Gabe stutters out.
"There's a carnival down by the lake. Would you like to go with me?"
Thousands of answers flood Gabe's mind. He wants so desperately to go, but there are too many thoughts coming to him. Gabe's head begins to hurt. He doesn't know which one to go with.
Henry thinks Gabe's hesitation is because Gabe is trying to let him down easily.
"Forget I asked. It's just the way you said she wasn't your girlfriend that I thought you might be gay—although you pretty much told me an hour and a half ago that you weren't. Can't blame a guy for trying, can you?"
"Yes," Gabe says, bringing a hot surge of disappointment to Henry.
Gabe is confused for a couple of seconds; he'd just agreed to go with Henry so why did Henry look as though Gabe had physically punched him. Gabe replays the conversation in his head and cringes. He rushes to correct himself.
"I mean, no, I can't blame you."
The disappointed expression on Henry's disappears gradually, giving Gabe the motivation to continue speaking.
"Yes, I would like to go to the carnival with you."
The smile on Henry's face brightens Gabe's entire world. Gabe wishes for nothing but to bottle Henry's smile and keep it for himself. He's pretty sure a smile like that could cure all of the diseases in the world.
"Do you have a cell phone?" Henry asks.
"Can I have your number?"
Gabe doesn't waste any time telling it to him. Henry types it into his phone. He spends a bit longer than Gabe would have thought he needed to. When Henry closes his phone and slips it into his pocket, he looks over at Gabe with an even brighter smile on his face. Gabe starts to ask why, but he feels his cell phone vibrate in his pocket. He sends Henry a confused look and starts to grab his phone.
"You have mine now," Henry explains, eliminating the need for Gabe to check his phone. Henry looks around them, realizing possibly for the first time in a few minutes that they're not alone. "I guess I should probably get going."
"Yeah, me too," Gabe agrees, feeling the claws of anxiety tear at him again.
"I'll call you later, OK?"
I'll call you if I even remember your name.
"Yeah, OK. Looking forward to it," Gabe forces himself to say.
Henry looks at Gabe carefully, but Gabe manages to screw his face into a smile. He hopes it appears more genuine than it feels. Apparently it does, because Henry nods his head and rushes to catch up with his friends.
It's only when Henry's disappeared in the crowd of people that Gabe realizes that he doesn't know anything crucial about the boy.
"Gabe, are you OK?" Kyra asks.
Gabe doesn't answer. He just stares at the last spot he saw Henry. Kyra exchanges a worried glance with Auggie.
"C'mon, Gabe," Auggie says, grabbing Gabe's elbow and leading him out of the movie theatre. "We'd better be getting on home. We've got to move onto campus tomorrow morning."
Gabe instantly freezes. Auggie and Kyra walk another five steps before they realize it. They stop and turn around to face him. His face is pale. Tears are threatening to spill over on his cheeks.
"Gabe?" Kyra asks, making to move to him.
Gabe holds up his hand, silently telling her to stay where she is. He doesn't want to be touched by anyone. She barely restrains herself.
Then Auggie realizes.
"I'll call campus housing when I get home. I'll get you moved into my room, OK?"
"But you wanted to have your own room," Gabe says weakly.
"No, I didn't want to room with Bradley again."
I knew you and Lincoln wouldn't last.
"I almost failed organic chemistry because of him."
I've never failed anything, but I'm just telling you this.
"I didn't put anyone down on my housing request."
I wanted a private room.
"And they didn't fill it."
But I'll sacrifice it for you.
"Gabe? Are you listening?"
"Huh?" Gabe asks and then realizes he had in fact heard every word Auggie had said. "Oh yeah. I was listening."
Kyra and Auggie exchange another look. Gabe catches it this time.
"Really—I was listening."
"OK," Auggie relents. "I'm calling housing tomorrow."
"Do you want me to?"
"I don't want to—well, you know," Gabe says.
"We don't want you to either."
We don't want to deal with you if you do.
"Let's get on home," Kyra says. "I haven't even started packing."
I'm tired of discussing this topic.
Gabe allows himself to be dragged away by Auggie and Kyra. The conversation revolves around Kyra and Auggie's expectations of the upcoming school year. Gabe doesn't participate. He just walks in silence to Auggie's SUV and then sits silently in the back seat, promptly ignoring whatever look Auggie or Kyra send him.
A/N: Here is the first chapter. Review and tell me what you think?