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Five times Marvin and Whizzer didn't have much to say to each other (and one time they did)

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One

Beige. Rust. Moss. Does Marvin own any clothes at all that aren't dingy autumn colors? No. Don't focus on that. Not on Marvin. Focus on the clothes. Ugly. Useless. Garbage. Into the bags. Breathe, Whizzer. Breathe.

He hates this. He hates every bit of this, including the fact that Marvin broke up with him and then left all his stuff in Whizzer's apartment. Does he expect Whizzer to mail it to him after everything that's happened? Probably he wants him to iron it and fold it and leave it in a neat little pile outside his door. Marvin always loved that Whizzer liked things neater than he did because it meant Whizzer did all the cleaning. Well, Whizzer is done with that. He's throwing Marvin's stuff away and good riddance. Well, mostly good riddance. Except Marvin's clothes still smell like his cologne, which is the smell of sex and arguments and more sex and screaming, and, and, and. It's a lot, maybe too much.

Focus. On to the stupid corduroy pants.

Maybe, once he finishes throwing away Marvin's things, he'll throw away the things Marvin gave him...the vacuum cleaner and the giant wok that doesn't even fit in his cupboard and this cashmere sweater...

...no. Not the sweater. The sweater is different. They were getting along then. Marvin went to some fancy specialty store to get it because he knew Whizzer liked expensive clothes, and he'd looked so shy when he'd given it to Whizzer for his birthday. "I hope this is okay," he'd said. "I hope you like the color."

Damn it, Marvin, why couldn't you stay that way? Why couldn't you love me?

He's holding the sweater now, holding it up to his face and crying into it.

Their relationship should've been so much more than a bag of garbage and a wet cashmere sweater.

Two

"It's cute that you think you can ignore me."

Marvin shows no sign that he's heard Whizzer's words as he walks away. That doesn't end things, though--Whizzer just hurries to catch up to him.

"Lucky for you I don't need you to have a conversation," Whizzer says. "Though it's weird to hear you so quiet. Actually, it's not a bad change. I like it. Maybe I can do all the talking for a while; maybe this time you'll actually listen to me."

Marvin opens his mouth to answer, then shakes his head. Answering won't fix anything.

Whizzer rolls his eyes. "I'm just glad I had people to sleep with other than you. Imagine if I'd been depending on you, or if I'd thought we were meant to be together. Think how devastated I'd be."

Marvin wonders if Whizzer does think that...did think that. He'd thought they'd be together for a long time. He'd made ultimatums, assuming...what? Assuming Whizzer would know Marvin hadn't really meant them? He had meant them, especially in the moment he'd made them. Then what had he assumed? That Whizzer would wait until Marvin felt better and then accept his apologies? It couldn't be that. Marvin's terrible at apologies. Most of the time he avoids them. So apparently he'd expected Whizzer to simultaneously accept and reject an ultimatum without letting it affect their relationship at all, which makes no sense no matter how he thinks about it.

"You're beginning to get it, aren't you?" Whizzer asks quietly. "Why I left."

Marvin nods.

"Even now, it's easier for you to talk to your idea of me than to me," Whizzer says.

Marvin turns to look at Whizzer. "That's not fair!"

But Whizzer isn't actually there. Whizzer's never actually there. Marvin imagines him there, imagines Whizzer still talking to him, because the alternative is so much worse. Unfortunately, the alternative is what's real. Whizzer is gone, and Marvin has no one to blame but himself.

He is sorry now. But there's no one left to hear him say so.

Three

Whizzer's hiding behind the dugout, back braced against the rough wood, leaning forward and breathing heavily, trying not to have a panic attack on a Little League field. He'd known Marvin would be there; of course Marvin would be there. Well, that's not quite true. Marvin doesn't always go to Jason's Little League games. Trina does. Whizzer had been prepared to see her, at least. He'd been hoping Marvin wouldn't be there. But he was. He is.

In an ideal world, Whizzer would've reached a level of wry detachment, the kind you see on Upstairs, Downstairs as they genteelly note each others' faults. Ah, look, my former lover. How quaint. How droll. How hideous his shirts are. How pitiful that he still refuses to give himself a close shave when he's not going to work. And why is he noticing how Marvin shaves? They're finished! They're over! Whizzer had expected today to drive that point home, but instead, today seems to have reopened everything.

Marvin hasn't forgotten his feelings for him. Marvin wants to see him. And Whizzer wants to see Marvin too.

This is awful. He is awful. Why can't he remember Marvin is trouble? He's never been enough for Marvin because Marvin can't stand being second best at anything, and Whizzer refuses to go back to kowtowing to that ego. But why is the pain from their breakup muted now, when he needs it? He has to remember not to hope for anything. He has to remember what Marvin is really like.

And then, as if this isn't a humiliating enough moment, Marvin comes around the corner and sees him.

"Hey," Marvin says, taking a tentative step toward Whizzer. He sounds concerned. Of course he does. "Are you okay?"

Whizzer looks up and glares at Marvin, irritated that Marvin is intruding on his private meltdown. Whizzer hopes the frustration he feels comes out of his eyes and burns holes in Marvin's shirt.

It doesn't, but Marvin takes an involuntary step back, clearly getting some of the message. "I should go."

He rounds the corner of the dugout, leaving Whizzer alone, shaking and miserable and wishing he could live in a country where he would never have to see Marvin ever again.

Four

Marvin knows it will happen one day, and eventually, it does. He rounds the corner in Duane Reade and almost bounces off Whizzer.

It's strange to see Whizzer again in person. They haven't met or spoken since the baseball game, since the day Marvin hurried around another corner and saw something he wasn't supposed to see. Marvin can't hide the surprise from his face, and Whizzer can't either, his eyes widening at the sight of Marvin. Whizzer's eyes are beautiful, and Marvin knows in a flash of insight that no matter how things between them go from now on, he will always want Whizzer.

"Hi," Marvin says awkwardly. "Um, I...here." He pulls the letter out of his pocket, the one he wrote to Whizzer one night when he was lonely and grieving and needed to talk to the man he loved. He put it in his pocket the next day and promised himself he'd give it to Whizzer if they ever ran into each other again. Which...now they have. "Read it. Or burn it. Anyway. It's for you."

Whizzer looks at the letter, then at Marvin, and Marvin realizes in that moment that he isn't brave enough to wait to see what Whizzer has to say to him.

"Okay," Marvin says. "See you."

He doesn't run out of the drugstore exactly, but he walks very quickly.

Five

Dear Whizzer,

I've tried to pick up the phone and talk to you a million times, but I don't trust myself to know what to say in the excitement of the moment, and I don't want to say the wrong thing to you. I don't know if this is true but it feels like I only get one chance to make this right. So here goes.

I'm sorry for how I treated you. It took me a long time to move from how I was feeling to how you might feel, but things changed a lot once I thought about that. I was awful to you and there's no excuse for it. I'm sorry.

I'm not asking for anything, especially not your forgiveness. I just wanted you to know that I wish...well, I wish a lot of things. I wish I'd handled our arguments better. I wish I'd been happy with who you were instead of pushing you to be who I thought you should be. I wish I hadn't let my own insecurities sabotage us. I wish I'd understood how much I'd miss you when you were gone. I wish I'd trusted us enough to be happy.

If you're ever in the market to date a schlemiel, I'd like to be first in line. But mostly I hope that you'll recover from what I did and find your own family and your own happiness.

Maybe I'll see you at another baseball game sometime. I'll be the one in the ugly shirt.

Take care,
Marvin

When Marvin answers the door, Whizzer holds up the letter to him. "Do you mean it?" He didn't know he was going to ask that question until he heard it tumbling out of his mouth, but it gets to the heart of what Whizzer needs to know. Are these just words, or is Marvin really letting him in this time?

"I do," Marvin says, his voice choked. "I-I know it's not enough, but-"

Maybe it isn't enough for their entire future together, but it's enough for right now. Whizzer pulls Marvin into his arms, and after the initial shock, Marvin clings tightly to him.

There are no words. They don't need any.

Six

They're sitting shoulder to shoulder on the sofa when Marvin says quietly, "I was..." His mind cycles through several words. Scared? Afraid? How can he describe what he'd felt? "...worried."

Whizzer turns to look at him, eyes expectant. "Worried about what?"

"When you marry someone, you're basically saying, 'Just you, forever.' And you know...or you think you know...that unless something happens, that person's going to stay with you. So you can just be however you are. They have to love you. Which isn't true, but..." Marvin shrugs with one shoulder. "I was pretty stupid about this stuff, and I didn't learn that for a long time."

Whizzer shifts his position, angling his body to face Marvin. "But you said you were worried."

Marvin nods, turning so he can face Whizzer. "We weren't married. So you didn't have to stay." He sighs. "I know what we look like, Whizzer. You're the wild young one and I'm the boring dad. I get it. You chose me, but..." He searches for the words again. "...I didn't know if I was your final decision. And I knew there were probably a lot of guys better than I was out there."

"I won't lie," Whizzer says. "I thought about that."

"It'd be weird if you hadn't," Marvin says. "You could do better than me, but I knew I couldn't do better than you. And knowing you were having other experiences...I knew I wasn't enough. It was a challenge. And instead of rising to a challenge, what I usually do..."

"...is turn into an asshole," Whizzer finishes, mischief in his eyes.

"Yeah, pretty much." He can admit it now because he's had a lot of time to think about it. "I felt like I was competing against you and all the other guys out there, and I didn't know how to do that. So I flailed around a lot trying to come up with ways to win and ended up driving you away anyway."

Whizzer nods. "Do you still wanna win?"

Marvin has to think about that. "I don't know. Because I don't think I understand winning the same way anymore." He shakes his head. "I should never have been competing with you or anybody. I should've been taking care of you." He stares down at his hands. "I don't want to make the same mistakes. I hope I'm smarter now."

"Oh, Marvin," Whizzer says. "You were never that smart."

Startled, Marvin looks at Whizzer, who acknowledges he's probably overstepped the line by scrunching up his face. "Sorry. It's still...I don't know how to talk to you yet. Whether a joke actually sounds like a joke or like I'm being awful."

"It's okay," Marvin says, relieved Whizzer wasn't trying to get an insult in. "The version of you in my head's been a lot worse than that."

Whizzer looks sympathetic. "I'd say I'm sorry, but technically it wasn't me, so..."

"Well, I'm not apologizing to myself. I don't deserve it," Marvin says, trying for a joke. Whizzer doesn't treat it like a joke, though, so it sorta flops down between them and lies there in silence. Why can't he ever find the right thing to say? "I suck."

"You do, but that's not one of my complaints," Whizzer says, that same mischievousness back in his eyes.

Marvin chuckles this time. "Can I be serious for just a minute? We can make as many jokes as you want after that."

Whizzer's expression sobers, and he nods. "Go ahead."

"I'm trying to tell you I get where I went wrong before. And I'm gonna try really hard not to do any of that stuff, if you decide you want to give me another chance." Whizzer showing up at his front door felt like the beginning of another chance, but Marvin thinks it's probably still tenuous right now. If he pushes too hard, Whizzer will be gone again, and after the small hope he's had growing this afternoon, that would be devastating.

"I was worried too," Whizzer admits.

"About what?" Whizzer never seems worried. Marvin would've assumed that Whizzer was completely incapable of being afraid of anything; he has such composure and confidence in everything he does.

"I thought you'd change your mind," Whizzer admits, voice low. "Go back to Trina or decide I wasn't good enough. I kept seeing other guys because the way I felt about you scared me and I wanted to be sure I had an escape hatch. So it wouldn't matter if you threw me away."

Marvin feels tears prickle at the back of his eyes. "Threw me away." God. "I'm so sorry."

Whizzer nods. "I know." He scoots a little closer, looking into Marvin's eyes. "Listen. If we're getting close to that, will you tell me? If you tell me before it happens, maybe we can fix what's wrong. Or at least not hurt each other so badly." He presses his lips together tightly for a moment before continuing. "It almost broke me last time."

Marvin nods. "Me too."

Whizzer looks at Marvin for a long time, then seems to decide something. "Okay then."

"Okay?" Marvin asks, not sure what's just happened.

"I want to try again," Whizzer says. "I want you."

Marvin feels as if his heart stops for a moment. "I want you too."

"Of course you do," Whizzer says with a grin. "I'm the wild young one." His grin fades slightly. "I don't think it'll be like before. We might have to sorta get to know each other again so we don't fall into old patterns."

"Sure," Marvin says. Getting to know each other again could be...kind of exciting. "I want to get it right."

Whizzer's expression softens. "Me too. Come here." He leans in for a kiss.

It's not like it was before, Marvin thinks. But it could be better. He leans forward to meet Whizzer halfway.