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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2028623-Love-is-a-Battlefield
by beetle
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Romance/Love · #2028623
Christopher and Matt have a random fight after dinner. But is it as random as it seems?
Christopher Bosch belched, loud and long, and covered his mouth. “’Scuse me,” he said sheepishly and Matt grinned, in the midst of clearing the dishes from his kitchen table.

“No worries, babe. In some eastern cultures, that’s a compliment to the cook and it’s considered rude not to belch after a big meal.” Matt carefully turned with his armful of dishes and placed them in the sink with a small clatter. Christopher laughed, taking the chance, as always, to ogle Matt’s perfect ass, showcased in the loose, cotton sleep-pants the other man favored when at home and relaxing. “I take it as a sign that my first attempt at veal parmigiana was a success.”

“A big success,” Christopher confirmed, leaning back in his chair and covertly unbuttoning the top buttons of his jeans. Then he patted his stomach as Matt turned around, still grinning. “You’re an amazing cook.”

“Ah, go on.” Matt blushed, but seemed pleased, and Christopher stood up, skirting the small kitchen table to take his boyfriend in his arms. Matt went willingly, pressing his face against Christopher’s neck with a satisfied sigh.

“Really, you’re a great cook. I dunno how you do it.” Christopher laughed as Matt somehow made himself small in Christopher’s arms, and proceeded to purr his contentment like a cat. “I can barely boil an egg. Once, I even burned water.”

Mat laughed, nuzzling Christopher’s neck. “It’s all in being forced to learn. When I first got out on my own, I couldn’t butter bread. I had to learn everything from scratch. Couldn’t just live off of cereal and Ramen for the rest of my life. So I borrowed cookbooks from the library and tried and practiced different things. It took me a while, but I got better. Got to a point where I stopped having to worry about whether I’d poisoned myself. Then it got to a point where the stuff I made started tasting good. The rest is history.”

“Mmm . . . delicious history,” Christopher murmured, kissing Matt’s temple and sliding his hands down Matt’s back and into the sleep-pants, to his ass, gripping and kneading. “After a meal like that, I’m in the mood to thank the cook in a fairly epic way. . . .”

Laughing again, Matt leaned back in Christopher’s arms, his smile turning apologetic. “I’d be so up for that, but. . . .”

Surprised, Christopher blinked. “But?”

Sighing, Matt nodded at the sink behind him. “Those dishes aren’t gonna do themselves.”

“So? Save it till morning.”

“Are you kidding me?” Matt snorted. “In the morning, they’ll be nothing but caked on crud and grease, and that much harder to wash. Better to just get them out of the way now.”

Christopher pouted. “Baby . . . you’re really choosing KP duty over sex?”

”Not over sex, just . . . before sex. Trying to get it out of the way so I don’t have to do it tomorrow. I’m being proactive,” Matt said, and Christopher rolled his eyes.

“If you really wanna be proactive, try living someplace with a dishwasher,” he said pointedly, and Matt was the one to roll his eyes, this time. “Move in with me, Matt. You’ll never have to wash another dish again.”

“Christopher. . . .” Matt winced, his face twisting into a moue.

“I’ve been asking for three months, now.”

“I’m still thinking about it, babe. . . .”

“How much thinking do you need to do, baby?” Christopher asked quietly, looking steadily into Matt’s eyes. But Matt was avoiding his gaze. “We love each other, right?” Matt nodded, still not meeting Christopher’s eyes. “And we’ve been seeing each other exclusively for—what? Almost a year?” Another nod. “Then what’s to think about for three months? It’s the natural next step, cohabitation.”

Matt winced again, pulling out of Christopher’s arms to pace toward the kitchen closet. His arms were wrapped around himself, his head hanging. “I understand that, Christopher, but . . . isn’t it a little soon to be moving in together?”

Sighing, Christopher leaned against the counter and watched his lover avoid him almost completely. Swallowing his impatience, anger, and hurt, Christopher bit his lip then asked: “Okay, then how long would be long enough before we could move in together? What would be a long enough period of: dating exclusively, you having a key to my place, you staying at my place nine nights out of ten, and us being in-fucking-love for us to finally move in together?”

Matt didn’t answer for a long time, merely stood there, arms wrapped around himself, not looking at Christopher. Finally, he turned around to face Christopher, his eyes direct, but slightly red, as if he was trying to hold back tears.

“I don’t know. Maybe never,” he said plainly. And Christopher opened his mouth to reply, but nothing came out.

Before his feet even cleared it with his brain, Christopher was stalking out of the kitchen, his own eyes stinging.

*


Matt Gerdes leaned against his lover’s door, letting the cool wood soothe him before he knocked discreetly.

After five worried minutes and the same number of increasingly loud knocks, Matt heaved a sigh and dug into his pocket for The Key.

He always carried it around with him, though he’d never used it. Never put it on the ring with his other keys.

It’s just for an emergency, he always told himself. In case something happens. But I won’t use it to barge into Christopher’s life willy-nilly, whenever I feel like it.

And now, here he was, doing just that.

Letting himself into the dark, silent apartment, Matt tried to reason with himself, that this wasn’t an emergency, and he should just go back home before Christopher realized he’d used The Key. After all, when a man storms out of one’s apartment the way Christopher had, it was likely he wanted time and space before seeing the reason for said storming out.

But I need him, a larger, more stubborn part of Matt whined. I need to know he still loves me. And I need him to know I still love him, and always will.

“Christopher? Babe?” Matt called, shutting and locking the door behind himself and slipping The Key safely back in his pocket. Silence echoed back at him, and he paused, halfway down the dark hall to the dark living room. In fact, from what he could see, all the rooms were dark.

Christopher wasn’t home.

Oh, God, he’s probably out drinking, Matt thought worriedly, mentally reviewing his lover’s top three favorite bars and making a plan to hit each of them in search of said lover. What if he tries to drive and gets a DWI? What if he has an accident? What if he . . . what if he picks up another guy, and. . . .

Closing his eyes on the tears that threaten, Matt turned to make his way back down the hall, to the door, when he heard a quiet clink, like glass lightly hitting glass, coming from the living room.

Frowning, his fists clenching as he imagined intruders of all stripes—robbers, rapists, murders, alien invaders—Matt quietly made his way down the hall, pausing at the living room entryway. He took a silent breath and, reaching around the corner for the light switch, flicked it on and stepped into the room, his meanest scowl on his face and broad shoulders squared.

It took him a few seconds to process what he was seeing, and when he did, the adrenaline and fight ran out of him like water. Then he was hurrying across the room to his obviously inebriated—and stoned—boyfriend.

“Christopher? Babe? Are you okay?” Matt asked solicitously, kneeling on the carpet next to Christopher, who was sitting with his back against the front of the couch and his legs under the glass coffee table. Scattered on said coffee table were many empty beer bottles, a bong, and a huge baggie of kind.

Christopher was barely conscious, his head lolling, his reddened eyes only half-open. He was still dressed in his street clothes and he smelled like a brewery. And a dispensary.

“Baby?” Matt turned Christopher’s face toward his own. It took a little while for Christopher’s eyes to focus on him, and when they did, Christopher groaned and looked away.

“Go ‘way, Matt.” Christopher tried weakly to pull away from Matt, who merely got closer, sitting next to Christopher and sliding his own legs under the coffee table. Christopher then tried to crawl away, toppled over then struggled to sit back up. “Go ‘way.”

“No, Christopher.”

“You don’t wanna be here. Don’t wanna be with me. So go.”

Swallowing, Matt leaned down and kissed Christopher’s shoulder tenderly, before laying his head on it and sliding an arm around Christopher’s waist. “I don’t want to go. I love you. I love being with you.”

“Liar.” Christopher shrugged his shoulder, trying to get Matt’s head off him.

“Babe—”

“I thought we had something special, you know?” Christopher reached for a bottle on the table, found it empty, and swore. “I thought it was true love, and I don’t even believe in that bullshit.”

“Christopher—”

“I thought we’d have happily ever after, Matt. I wanted to marry you.”

Shocked, Matt sat up and looked at Christopher. The other man’s head was now lolling back against the seat of the couch, his eyes closed. But tears were leaking from them.

“Marry? Me?”

“Yeah. I bought the engagement ring, and everything. Was gonna ask you after you got settled in here.” Christopher snorted, opening his eyes. They landed on Matt, dark and hurt. “Why don’t you wanna be with me?”

Matt, still in shock over the non-proposal of marriage, and the existence of an engagement ring, shook his head, impatiently swiping at the tears that wanted to form in his own eyes. “It’s not that I don’t want to be with you, Christopher. It’s that . . . if we live together, you’re gonna discover, sooner, rather than later, just how boring and petty and insecure and just plain un-special I am. And you’re gonna leave me . . . just like all the others did.”

Closing his eyes on the tears, which were winning the fight between falling and not after all, Matt leaned back against the couch, too. “There’s a saying that’s always held true over the course of my life: familiarity breeds contempt. Even my own father couldn’t stand me, and threw me out when I was seventeen. And ever since then, that pattern’s held. Whether it took six months, or a year, every boyfriend I’ve ever lived with has eventually gotten tired of me and threw me out. Or moved out, themselves. And I . . . I just don’t want that to happen with you. I love you more than all those other guys combined, and if I ever lost you, Christopher . . . if I ever lost you, I don’t know what I’d do.”

In the wake of this confession, silence and stillness fell. At least until Christopher started to shift and move around, swearing as he bumped the coffee table. When Matt opened his eyes, Christopher was kneeling next to him, looking down into his eyes. His own were still pretty zonked, but solemn and intent, too, as if he was figuring something out after a long time of trying.

“You think I’ll get tired of you and throw you out if we live together?” he asked, and Matt looked away, nodding.

“I know you will.”

Christopher didn’t respond to that, merely watched Matt with that solemn, intent expression on his handsome face.

Finally, Christopher turned Matt’s face fully toward his own. He was smiling a little, and swaying unsteadily.

“C’mon,” he said, bracing himself on the couch and attempting to stand. Matt did the same, making it to his feet much faster, then helping Christopher up. When they were both standing, Christopher put his arms around Matt’s waist, pulled him closer, and kissed him lightly. He tasted like pot and Rolling Rock. “Let’s go to bed.”

Confused, Matt didn’t resist when Christopher lead him with exaggerated care past the coffee table, and out of the living room. “But . . . you aren’t—mad at me, anymore?”

“Nope.”

Frowning, Matt paused in the doorway to Christopher’s bedroom. Christopher, however, kept going into the night-dark room, turning on a bedside lamp and flopping on the bed with a happy groan. He laid there, splayed out like a starfish, grinning up at the ceiling, eyes closed.

Still lingering in the doorway, Matt wondered aloud: “And why are you not mad at me anymore?”

“Hmm . . . because I realized that it isn’t me, it’s you. Not a lack of love on your part, but massive insecurities. You’re used to people leavin’ you, and you have no reason to think I won’t do the same.” Christopher opened his eyes and sat up on his elbows, his zonked-intent eyes falling on Matt. “But that doesn’t matter, in the end, because I want you to live with me. I wanna be your husband. I wanna adopt dogs with you. Or maybe even kids. And even if it takes me the rest of my life to convince you that I will never leave you, then, it’s not like I was doing anything better with the rest of my life, anyway.”

And with that, Christopher yawned, flopping back to the bed again. “Now, you comin’ to bed, or what?”

Blinking and nonplussed, Matt stumbled across the room, shedding clothes as he went. At Christopher’s bedside, standing there in nothing but his jockeys and undershirt, Matt stared down at a grinning, deeply-breathing Christopher. His heart filled like a sail in a strong breeze and melted like an ice cube in an oven. He wanted to say something grand. To promise Christopher that one day soon, he’d move in with him. But he found he couldn’t. Because what if that heralded the end of everything Matt had come to rely on to get him through the long days: Christopher’s love, and Christopher?

So instead, he said the only thing he could say, and mean in this moment. Something that he knew would be true, no matter what.

“I love you, Christopher,” he whispered softly, and Christopher’s eyes opened just a bit.

“And I love you, too, Matthew. Forever. Now, get in here.”

Matt clambered onto the high bed and, after a few uncertain moments, cuddled up against Christopher’s side. Christopher hummed, and slid an arm around him, chuckling when Matt nuzzled his neck. He shifted and reached till he was in a position to grope and stroke Matt. Which he did, till Matt was half-hard.

Then Matt stopped with a groan, when Matt started doing the same, to practically no response.

“Ah, fuck. I’ve got whiskey-dick.” Christopher complained loudly into the silence. “I don’t wanna start something I can’t finish. Sex in the morning, baby?”

Matt laughed, kissing Christopher’s throat and snuggling as close as he could, that wind-filled, melt-y feeling overtaking him again. “Okay. Sex in the morning.”

“And then you’ll make me waffles from scratch?”

“Do you even have the makings for waffles from scratch in that empty ice-cave you call a refrigerator?”

A brief silence, then: “Sex in the morning, and then I’ll take you out for waffles?”

“Sounds like a plan to me.” Matt kissed Christopher’s chin and lips. “G’night, love.”

“G’night, baby.”

TBC
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