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True To Myself

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He hadn’t planned what he would say when he got there. He just knew he had to see him again.
Now that he finally understood…what? What had he understood? He knew he should probably form the complete thought, maybe even say it out loud to himself before he barged into Kay’s apartment hoping the man he’d been hurting for 4 months straight would forgive him.

 

He understood now. Bettina wasn’t the one he should’ve been fighting for, chasing after, making promises to. Not that she didn’t deserve all that and more, of course she did. But she wasn’t the one he needed beside him. She wasn’t the one he couldn’t imagine living without.

 

Deep down he’d know it for months but had been incapable of admitting it even to himself.
She'd been right. If he’d truly loved her like he kept saying, he never would’ve fucked him. But how could he have resisted? When Kay was confidence, sunshine, playfulness, adventure, warmth, defiance, intimacy and love all rolled into one beautiful man.

 

He had fallen in love with him by the end of their first month together. He liked to think of that period as their “glory days”. When Marc had finally submitted to his yearning and begun the affair in full throttle. They’d spent every minute they could find together. At first it was mostly sex. But pretty quickly it expanded to include joking around which progressed to an easy, gratifying banter. Then pillow talk made way to intimate conversations where they shared their innermost thoughts, dreams, fears, and doubts with one another.

 

“Not being true to myself,” he remembered Kay telling him, “that’s always been my biggest fear for as long as I can remember. Ever since I realized I was gay. It intensified when I knew for certain that I wanted to join the police force. Those two parts of me felt like they were mismatched, at odds with one another, and could never co-exist.”

 

Marc listened and tried to understand, but the idea of not being true to himself hadn’t really been one he’d allowed himself to grapple with. He hadn’t been raised that way. In his world, you prioritized duties, obligations and expectations above your own individual truth.

 

How clueless he had been then.

 

But that’s over now. He tried it their way. Tried to resist his desire for Kay, tried to do the right thing, be the reliable family man they all expected him to be. But today was the day he was shedding those shackles and choosing to be true to himself. Choosing Kay.

 

If Kay would still have him.

 

He held his breath and rang the familiar doorbell. Once, twice. No answer. He knocked and cursed under his breath for having returned the damn key. What a world class pussy he’d been.

 

He was contemplating busting down the door, when finally it opened, and a haphazardly dressed, disheveled Kay appeared before him.

 

"Get lost” he sneered quietly and began to close the door. Marc had never had especially quick reflexes, but thankfully, this time was the exception, as he placed his foot by the door frame, blocking the door from shutting.

 

“Please Kay, I need to talk to you. There’s so much I need to say, to explain.” He pleaded.

 

Kay looked bored, aloof, disinterested, and Marc winced from the pain of his reaction and from suddenly noticing the lighter-but-still-there bruises on the man’s face.

 

“Go home, Marc.” He sounded weary but serious. Marc knew he meant it.

 

He was just about to open his mouth to try again, when he saw behind Kay, a strange man with dark tousled hair, dressed in nothing but a pair of orange boxer briefs walk across the room.

 

He stiffened and his breath hitched.

 

“Go home.” Kay said firmly one more time and pushed the door. Marc was too shocked to fight him, and his foot etched backwards allowing the door to shut in his face.

 

He couldn’t think or breathe. He fell to the floor outside Kay’s door, sitting against the concrete wall, head in his hands, cursing “fuck fuck fuck” while tears ran down his face.

 

I did this. I pushed him away, threw the key in his face, told him to leave, told him there was no more us.
He hadn’t planned to stay outside Kay’s apartment like that but couldn’t find the energy or motivation to move. He couldn’t think. He just sat there, hurting, crying, feeling ashamed of how he’d treated Kay, how he’d taken him for granted, took everything Kay willingly gave him but offered mere crumbs in return. He deserved this, he knew that. Deserved to know that his Kay was fucking some other guy not 15 feet away, as he sat here wallowing in self pity.

 

He had no concept of how much time had passed when the door opened and orange-underwear man walked out of the apartment, giving him a confused look as he passed by.

 

Kay noticed him too, as he was about the close the door again. Marc didn’t move, didn’t speak, just gazed into Kay’s eyes feeling deflated, empty.

 

“I told you to leave, Marc.” He said, his tone slightly softer than it had been before. But his expression still vacant and cold.

 

“Please Kay, I’m just asking you to listen. Hear me out. That’s all.”

 

But Kay just shook his head with disinterest, turned around and closed the door in his face.

 

Over the next couple of weeks, Marc turned this into a habit of sorts. He’d park himself outside Kay’s apartment a few times a week, whenever neither one had a shift. He’d wait for a glimpse of the man, each time begging him to just listen, just hear him out. But Kay wouldn’t budge. Some days Kay would be alone in his apartment, while other days he’d have a man he’d met at a bar or a club with him. Never the same man twice, Marc noticed. The only thing that gave him a tiny shred of hope.

 

This spectator sport of semi-stalking Kay’s new Marc-less life was tearing at his innards. Seeing his Kay parading all these men around, sometimes even hearing their moans and groans through the wall of the apartment. But he couldn’t leave. He had to endure the agony for the slim chance of breaking down Kay’s resolve and getting him to talk to him.

 

It wasn’t until the entire unit was called in for an emergency operation late that week that he finally got his chance. The station had received an anonymous tip that an armed group of far-Right vigilantes had taken to the streets of Ludwigsburg in response to some petty crimes associated with immigrants.

 

The unit was divided into pairs and each pair assigned a designated area of several streets of the city to patrol, keeping an eye out for the vigilantes. Frank had unthinkingly paired Kay with Limpinski, when Marc announced he’d go with Engel instead. He received grateful looks from both men.

 

They walked together in silence, but not the easy, comfortable kind they’d enjoyed when jogging together. This time Kay’s wall of resistance stood between them filling the air with tension, mistrust and heartache.

 

Marc knew he wouldn’t get another opportunity like this, so he broke the silence.
“I’m not asking you to talk to me, Kay. But please, please just listen to what I need to say.”
Kay’s expression remained stony, but he didn’t object, so Marc continued.

 

“You are the best thing that has ever happened to me. I know that now.”
Kay snorted, but it didn’t deter Marc.

 

“I fought it for so long, fought you, because I was scared of how much I felt, scared of what all those feelings meant.”
Even though his face remained impassive, Marc could tell from his breathing that he was listening.
“I kept trying to preserve the wrong part of my life. The part I thought I wanted, the part I was expected to want. And hurting you in the process.” His eyes shifted toward Kay’s face, but the blond still wouldn’t face him.

 

“Shit Kay, I made so many mistakes! And I know that you were the one who suffered the brunt of all of them. I know I did that to you. Just like you said, I’ve been a selfish fucking asshole.”

 

A small sound of assent escaped Kay’s pursed lips.

 

“I should have never given you back the key. I should’ve stayed with you after you were attacked. I should’ve told you I loved you too, instead of telling you to leave me alone.” Marc’s voice is shaky and small when he makes this confession.

 

They keep walking in silence for several minutes when Kay asks, “what about her?”

 

“It’s over. She found out I’d lied about all those night shifts, and I ended up telling her everything.”
He knew he had to be completely honest with Kay if they had a chance of moving forward, so he added,
“She left me and I ran after her, begged her to take me back.”

 

Kay is looking at him intently now.

 

“But as soon as she came back, I knew it was done between us. That was when I realized I’d chased after the wrong person.”
He met Kay’s eyes as he said this, hoping to find even a hint of warmth in them, but Kay’s expression was dark and guarded.

 

Kay’s brow was furrowed and Marc knew he was processing, formulating his thoughts. So he kept patrolling quietly, until Kay spoke.

 

“I can’t do this with you again.”

 

The air instantly left his lungs, and he felt like he was suffocating.

 

“I don’t hate you, Marc. Part of me can even sympathize. I know none of this has been easy for you. But I’ve been putting your needs ahead of mine for the past 4 months. When you gave me back the key, you also gave me the kick in the ass I needed, reminding me to start putting myself first. I can’t…I won’t go back.”

 

Marc nods sadly, but makes one last attempt,
“I don’t want to go back either, Kay. I’m talking about doing it right, really being together.”

 

But Kay shakes his head somberly
“It’s too late.”

 

So that was it. There was nothing left to say. He got Kay to listen, told him everything, put himself out there, played all his chips…and lost.

 

Two Weeks Later:

His shift had just ended. He’d showered and changed and was about to leave, when he found himself alone in the locker room with Gregor Limpinski, homophobic prick extraordinaire.

 

“Haven’t seen that fag around in a while, did he make a run for it?”

 

Marc tried to ignore his inane blather, but the idiot wouldn’t shut up.

 

“I don’t get it, why did he come here anyway? He only knew you. I wonder what other skeletons are in his closet.”

 

Marc’s patience had worn thin. What he really wanted to do was beat the shit out of him for what he’d done to Kay, but instead he snapped loudly

 

“Shut the fuck up, Gregor!”

 

Limpinski hadn’t expected this kind of reaction, not from Marc who’d never stood up for Kay before.

 

“What’s up with you? Did Engel fuck the sense out of you?” he goaded, as he placed his baton suggestively between his legs, “wanna have a suck?”

 

“You’d like that” Marc breathed, getting just a little too close to the other man.

 

Limpinski still thinks they’re goofing around when he asks jokingly,
“Is something going on with you two?”

 

Marc nods, deliberately egging the other man on
“Jealous?”

Limpinski’s face contorts with disdain,
“Well fuck me, that’s disgusting!” He places the baton back between his legs and mocks,
“Have a feel, you fags fuck anything that comes your way.”

 

Marc seizes the opportunity, brings his face closer and kisses the outraged Limpinski on the mouth

 

“what’s your fucking problem?” he yells

 

“Liked it, huh?” Marc taunts while caressing his cheek. By now he’s decided that if he can’t beat the shit out of him, at least he could press all his buttons.

 

Limpinski is so livid he punches Marc square in the face. It’s a hard blow that knocks him down, but he recovers quickly and keeps taunting,
“is that the best you can do? Pussy”

 

Responding precisely as Marc expects him to, Limpinski bashes him with his baton.
Marc goes down fast but manages to remain hunched over with his hands on his knees. He turns his head toward Limpinski with a defiant smile on his face.

 

“Why the fuck are you smiling?”

 

“Thwack” Marc feels the baton hit him again as he falls to the ground. His attacker bends down with the intention to continue beating him.

 

At that very moment Marc hears someone run in, grab Limpinski from behind, and throw him off as he yells
“get off him, motherfucker!”

 

He would recognize that voice anywhere.

 

Frank follows Kay in and grabs Limpinski while Kay hunches down by him, his arms on Marc’s back and shoulders, helping him up.

 

“Are you ok Marc?’ Kay asks anxiously, his eyes set directly on Marc’s.

 

When Marc doesn’t answer, Kay steps closer, places his hand on his shoulder and repeats, “Marc?”
Marc straightens up gingerly, feeling every single one of his muscles burn from Limpinski’s blows. He shifts slightly towards Kay, leaning on him for support. Kay wraps his arms around him instinctively, and Marc allows his throbbing head to fall into the crook of Kay’s neck.

 

They remain like that for a few moments. Then Kay asks softly,

 

“what did you do that for?”

 

Lifting his head takes every bit of strength he can muster, but he wants to face Kay when he answers. His arm is still on Kay’s shoulder for support as he tilts his head up, an open, hopeful expression on his face, and says,

 

“It’s time I start being true to myself, don’t you think?”

 

He nods tenderly and Marc finally finds warmth in his gaze, as Kay pulls him towards him again.