Gregory was sitting in one of his brown leather armchairs, two glasses of red wine nearby.
Maven stopped in his tracks and the door closed with a click behind him. He wasn’t sure what to say or do, and his mind was a jumble of what he wanted to say versus what he needed to say. He went with the obvious instead. “How did you get in here?”
Gregory reached into his pocket and held up a keychain and jingled the keys like they were bells. “I have my own keys, remember? Plus, the security guard recognized me. He said that it was nice to see me again and let me in.”
“Oh, that’s…wonderful?” Maven was really at a loss for words. Seeing Gregory in his loft after all these weeks was really throwing him off.
Gregory patted the seat across from him. “Come in and sit,” he said. “I think it’s time that you and I have a conversation.”
“Are you sure that’s okay?” Maven asked. He was surprised by how nervous he was to have him here. He wanted to approach cautiously, as if Gregory were a deer he didn’t want to frighten away.
“Arnold, I’m in your loft. I think it’s you who should be asking me what the fuck I want.”
“Oh, yes of course. Um, well yes…” Maven made his way across the room slowly, not trusting Gregory to stay siting in his leather armchair. He sat across from Gregory and admired the Christmas lights he had put in the window. He wanted to look at their warmth, as it was easier than looking at Gregory now that he was so close to him. Maven turned his head towards Gregory when he got a whiff of his scent, spearmint with a hint of citrus. Gregory always smelled so fresh and clean, and it was what had attracted Maven to him in the first place. He had smelled Gregory while he was walking past him one night after he’d saved a woman from being run over by a bus, and that scent had filled his entire being. It was the same now as it had been then, intoxicating.
“Are you going to look at me?” Gregory asked.
Maven jumped a little and turned to look at Gregory. His hair was a mess as it always was and there was a dark brown curl that that looped across his forehead. Maven stopped himself, wanting to reach out and push the hair off Gregory’s face. However, as soon as he thought it, his hand reached out to do just that. Maven felt Gregory shiver as his finger brushed against Gregory’s forehead.
When Maven put his arm down, he stared at Gregory for a moment before trying to find something to occupy himself. He couldn’t believe what he’d just done. Grabbing his glass of wine, Maven took a very large sip and ended up dribbling a substantial amount down his front. Maven was astounded to see Gregory was smiling at him and very close to laughter.
“You don’t have to be nervous,” Gregory said.
“But I am nervous.” Maven said. “So fucking nervous.”
“Why? You’re a superhero, you can take anything on, can’t you?” Gregory teased.
Having his own words quoted back at him. “I’m sorry,” Maven said. “I didn’t mean that.”
“You did. You know you did, too.”
“I’m sorrier for what I said afterwards,” Maven said.
“What, that saving the people of Ottawa from evil was the greatest feeling in the world, and you couldn’t let a relationship get in the way when you loved being a superhero more than you could love me?”
Maven shifted and took another big gulp of wine, managing to swallow all of it this time. “I didn’t mean it quite that way,”
“Yes, you did.” Gregory said.
Letting out a long sigh and lowering his head slightly, Maven said “Yes, I did.” He looked up again and saw that Gregory was looking at him openly and with curiosity. That look always gave him wonderful shivers. “Why are you here, enjoying one of my 2015 vintage red wines, if I said things like that?”
“Because you have fabulous taste in wine,” Gregory said. “And I love you.”
Maven thought he’d never hear those words again. “I’m sorry, what?”
“I’m going to pretend that you didn’t hear what I just said and say it again: I love you.”
There were so many things rolling around in his head that wanted to get out, but Maven’s mouth moved before he could think about which words he wanted to say. “Why are you here?” Maven gave himself an internal smack. He knew he had just repeated his first question, but he was just so overwhelmed with all his feelings at that moment.
Gregory took another sip of his wine before setting down the glass. “Well, it was when you came to save me. You rode in there on your white horse-”
“I don’t have a white horse. I went there through a portal I’d created.”
“I know how you got there,” Gregory said. “But you charged in, guns blazing, and you’ve never looked so beautiful to me. The fact that you would come to my aid even though I was being an asshole was incredible.”
“Yeah, but you would never have been in trouble if it weren’t for me.”
“It’s always going to be like that though, isn’t it?” Gregory asked, “Because of what you do and who you are.”
“So, you’re okay with what I do now?”
“I was always okay with what you do. I just didn’t like being valued less than your fucking job. It’s always your job first, isn’t it?”
“It shouldn’t be that way,” Maven said. “I can change, I swear.”
“Don’t. If you did, you wouldn’t be who you are.” Gregory said.
“You’re okay with what I do?” Maven asked nervously.
“Am I okay with you risking your fucking life every day to save the lives of others? No, I’m not. Am I okay with you going out there to fight bad people who could do you serious harm? No, I’m not. Can I live without you in my life? No, I can’t. I love you, Arnold and that means sometimes making compromises. You infuriate me and you drive me completely crazy, and when I left this time, I thought that was it. I thought I would never see you again and yet as soon as I left you, I realized that I belonged right next to you.”
This was the most that Gregory had talked to him in months, and hearing all that come out at once left Maven feeling a little lightheaded. He’d pictured this conversation between the two of them for months now and it wasn’t going at all according to the script that he’d imagined in his head. “I don’t know what to say,” Maven said.
“Because I’m not saying the lines that you’ve made up in your head, right?”
“I had some really good ones planned.”
“Like what?” Gregory asked.
“I was going to tell you how I would rip my heart out and give it to you because it had stopped beating since you had walked out of my life. You could have it because it no longer worked without you.”
“Always the fucking drama queen, aren’t you?”
Maven looked into Gregory’s beautiful eyes, they were dark enough to hold his soul. “I value you more than anything else in the world. I hope you know that.”
“I do,” Gregory said.
“Are we going to be okay? We fight all the time. Is that normal?”
“And yet we always make up. Love is like that, Maven. We don’t have the relationship where it’s all sugar and spice and everything nice. We’re going to fight again, and I may need some space, but I’ll always be here for you. Some relationships are like that. The one thing that’s for sure is that I love you.”
“And I love you.” Maven said.
Gregory moved the glasses of wine, leaned forward to kiss Maven, and suddenly all was right with the world. Maven didn’t know how long they were kissing, whether it was five seconds or five minutes, but they broke apart when there was a knock on his door.
“Um, guys? Can you stop sucking face for a second?” It was Carley and her voice was muffled through the wood. “Tianado is back.”