Then I Don't Know What Love Is
“So ya finally did it?” Breda asked, looking over at his buddy.
Havoc was staring down into his beer, but he looked up as Breda spoke. He sighed. “Yeah. Finally did it. Broke it off today.”
“That's too bad.” Breda shook his head. “You were with him for a while. You seemed happy.” He wondered about that. Havoc had been happy, he was sure of it. It was his longest relationship in the some time, but he just decided to end it all. Maybe he had decided that he wasn't comfortable in a relationship with a guy after all? Breda never did get to meet the guy, but Havoc had admitted to him that it was a man. Havoc seemed to have genuinely liked him, so he was having a little trouble figuring out why he wanted to end it.
“Yeah,” Havoc replied wistfully, looking back at his beer. “I was.”
“So remind me why you ended it.” He leaned over, waiting to hear it.
Havoc shrugged. “I just can't be with someone who doesn't love me back.”
“How do you know he didn't?” Breda prodded.
“He never said it.” Havoc finally took a swig of the beer he'd been staring at for the last ten minutes. It didn't really help the pang of loss as much as he'd hoped it would.
Breda raised an eyebrow. “That's it? He just...never said it?”
“You know...people don't always feel comfortable saying that kinda stuff. Not everyone is so free with their emotions. It's kind of a touchy subject.”
Havoc shrugged. “My mom and dad said it all the time. You just knew the house was filled with love. I guess I'm looking for something like that. Besides, if you don't say it, how is anyone supposed to know?”
Breda stared at Havoc. “You serious?”
Havoc shot him a confused look. “Yeah.”
“Damn man!” Breda ran his hand through his hair, thinking of how to explain the concept of unspoken love to him. “Love's not all about words. It's about how you feel.”
“I know that,” Havoc protested.
Breda held up his hand, fending off any other interruptions. “You don't have to say things out loud to show your feelings man. Why do you think men bring women flowers? It's a little thing just to show them you care. And I'm not just talking about gifts either, it's all sorts of things.”
“Like putting up with all the strays they bring home even if you're not a big fan of pets or going out of your way to shoo away dogs so no one has a heart attack. It could be waking up a little early to make you breakfast or even just sorting through your socks so they're always matched. There's all sorts of little things that speak louder than a few measly words. Some people want to say “I love you” on the first date and you know they can't feel that way. Some people might not say it for years, but it doesn't mean they're not feeling it.”
“All my other girlfriends said it long before this point in our relationship,” Havoc said with a frown.
“Havo! Man! Most of your girlfriends also cheated on you or left you for the boss!” Breda pointed out.
Havoc winced. “Not all of them.”
“I know not all of them. Like Maryanne. She loved you on the first date, wanted to marry you after the second, and stalked you for two months after you dumped her.”
Havoc covered his face with his hand. “Don't remind me.”
“Besides, you're not dating a girl now Havoc. You've got yourself a boyfriend. The dynamics are a little different. Guys aren't good with the mushy stuff. You know that.”
“Yeah,” Havoc admitted, swishing the beer around in his mug.
“Look, all I'm saying is compared to the big picture, “I love you” doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot.”
Havoc sighed and picked up a stray coaster, fiddling with it. “So you're saying I made a bad decision?”
Breda held his hands up. “I don't know man. I don't know all the circumstances, but from what you've told me, it sure sounds like a dumb one.”
“Fine, so you're saying maybe he does love me, he's just not saying it with words. Then what should I be looking for?” Havoc asked, crossing his arms and looking at Breda.
“Well, what kind of things does he do for you?” Breda asked back.
“The usual stuff. We go out to eat, see movies, stay home and....do stuff.” He blushed a little, not wanting to say what stuff. It was embarrassing to admit to, even if his friend knew.
Breda shook his head. “No, what kind of stuff does he do for you? What's something he normally wouldn't do, but he does it for you?”
Havoc flipped the coaster over in his hands, looking at the logo. “Like...how he keeps a six pack of my beer in his fridge even though he calls it swill?”
“Yeah, stuff like that! What else?”
“Um...he likes nice restaurants, drinking wine and stuff, but I feel uncomfortable, so we go to a lot of diners, eat takeout, and cook at home.”
Breda nodded. “A man of culture?”
Havoc smiles. “Yeah, he has this thing for listening to classical music, so sometimes he drags me to the symphony. You know that's not really my style.”
Breda chuckles. “I bet you look handsome in a monkey suit.”
“Shut up.” Havoc gave him a friendly punch in the shoulder.
“Anything else you can think of?” Breda says, coaxing him along. He was surprised how oblivious Havoc was to all the little things he was letting on about.
“Well, he's not a smoker. I can't smoke in his place, but I like to have a drag after sex. He bought a big bathrobe and an ash tray so I can go out and smoke on the balcony without getting cold.”
“Wow...that's pretty thoughtful.”
“Yeah.” Havoc smiled as he nodded. Then he froze, eyes widening. “Shit!”
Breda nodded. Shit was right. Sounded like Havoc was knee deep in it.
“He...he loves me?” He looked at Breda desperately. “Right?”
“Gotta admit, it sounds like it.”
“And I just...I just...I told him it was over! I gave him back his key. Shit!”
“Maybe it's still not too late. Maybe if you get your ass over there you can do some damage control,” Breda suggested.
Havoc nodded. “Yeah, I...shit! I gotta go.” He stood up, already digging in his pocket for his keys.
“I got the tab man, you just try to fix things with your boyfriend.” Breda said, turning back to the bar.
“Thanks! I owe you!” Havoc waved as he rushed out to the car. He almost stalled it as he tried to pull out. Luckily, the car held its own as he sped through the streets. Why was he such a dumbass? He was more than old enough to know what love was and yet his best friend had to explain it to him. Of course, it only made sense after he broke up with his obviously loving boyfriend. How the hell had he missed all the clues?
It was easy. He was so busy waiting for words, he completely overlooked all the completely obvious displays of affection. There were so many little things now that he stopped to think about it, like how he was always ready to light Havoc's cigarettes even though he hated the habit. Or how he added cheese to the scrambled the eggs for Havoc's breakfast even though he preferred his plain. There was the appearance of Havoc's preferred brand of toothpaste in the bathroom and the way he suddenly got cable after Havoc complained about having nothing to watch on the six basic channels he caught with his antennae. And somehow, some stupid way, he had managed to miss every obvious clue that was now hitting him over the head like a rain of anvils.
Finally, he turned down the familiar street and parked sloppily in front of his lover's apartment building. He looked up as he jogged towards the building. The lights were still on in his bedroom. Now hopefully, he'd open the door. He bypassed the elevator and charged up the stairs to get to the third floor. He finally arrived at the familiar door and began to knock. After his first polite knocks went unanswered, he began to knock more frequently, more frantically, wishing he'd never gotten rid of the key. Nobody answered, but he kept knocking. He knew he was home. He'd seen the light on. “Come on, open up,” he urged. He would keep knocking until his knuckles bled if he had to.
Finally, the door yanked inward and Roy stood in the doorway wrapped in an over-sized robe looking very tired and annoyed. “What do you want?” He snapped.
“Roy I...I made a mistake.” Havoc said.
“What? You gave me the wrong key and now you're locked out of your apartment?” Roy crossed his arms.
“No! That's not it.”
Roy sighed. “Then what is it Havoc?” He stressed the use of his last name and Havoc winced. They'd been on a first name basis for so long. He liked hearing his name roll of Roy's tongue, but not like this. Not this impersonal, annoyed tone that Roy was using.
“Roy, I was wrong when I said you didn't love me.” Roy looked away, his face an impassive mask, but Havoc continued anyway. “I just...I didn't realize it! My parents used to say it all the time. I just...I expected it to be like that with everyone. I never thought that maybe people didn't go around saying it all the time.” He stopped, looking at Roy.
After a long silence, Roy looked back at Havoc. “So what do you want from me?” He sounded so tired. He looked so much smaller than usual in the over-sized robe, drawn in on himself. It made Havoc want to take him into his arms.
“I don't want it to end!” Havoc said.
“Well, you fooled me! You made it perfectly clear you couldn't be with someone who couldn't vocalize their feelings for you.”
“And you never even protested!” Havoc shot back, annoyed.
“What good would it have done if I had? You'd already decided that I didn't love you! What difference would it have made if I suddenly said otherwise?” Roy demanded.
Havoc paused, thinking back. “Probably none. I wouldn't have believed you.”
“Exactly, so I didn't even try.” Roy's crossed arms tightened, the hands peeking out of the too long sleeves clenched into fists as he frowned at Havoc.
Havoc shook his head in disbelief. “So you were just going to let me go?”
“It was what you wanted! How could I tell you no?”
Havoc's heart tightened painfully. Roy was ready to give Havoc whatever he wanted, even freedom. How could he have let this man go? Roy gave him so much and Havoc tried to throw him away just because of a few little words. “Roy,” he said as he moved forward and wrapped him up in his arms.
Roy jerked back in surprise, trying to push him away. “Jean!” He gasped, unable to keep the cold distance between them when he was surprised.
Havoc smiled, leaning in to nuzzle Roy. “Roy, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I was too stupid to realize what you were telling me.”
Roy tried to wiggle out of Havoc's strong embrace without success. He sighed. “Jean, let me go.”
Havoc shook his head. “No. I know you were following that old saying about loving someone enough to let them go, but sometimes you have to hold on too.” He looked down at Roy. “I'm holding on.”
Roy reached up and knocked Havoc on the side of the head. “Idiot.”
“Yeah, I am and I'm so sorry about that,” he said, dragging Roy closer. “You just...go with what you know. I didn't know there were other ways to say I love you.”
“Then what changed your mind?” Roy asked quietly.
“Breda helped talk some sense into me, but...it was this robe that did it,” he said, rubbing his hand over the terrycloth Roy sported.
“This robe?” Roy asked, confused.
“Yeah, you bought it for me and keep it right by the doors to the balcony, so I can go out and smoke whenever I want. I mean...if that isn't love, I guess I don't know what else it could be. You don't do that kind of thing for someone you don't care about.” Roy shrugged as he again tried to step out of Havoc's grasp. Havoc, however, wouldn't let him go. “They always say that actions speak louder than words. If you don't believe my words, let me show you.” He leaned down, gently seeking out his lips. His hands ran up and down Roy's back, attempting to smooth out the tense set of his spine.
Roy made a soft noise of protest, but Havoc was persistent. He continued to deal out sweet little kisses and careful touches until he felt Roy stop fighting him. “I know I was stupid Roy, but I'll spend as long as I have to to make this all up to you. Just give me a chance.” Roy sighed, resting his head on Havoc's shoulder. “Roy?” Havoc rubbed his back.
Roy looked up at him. “Is that what you want?”
“Yeah, that's what I want,” Havoc said firmly.
“Then I guess I have to take you back.”
Havoc smiled. “I love you,” he said, leaning down to kiss Roy. Roy stopped him with a finger on his lips and a shake of his head.
“Don't tell me. Show me.”
Havoc nodded. “Yes sir.”