Three Couples, Six People, Many Songs(#18)

Song #18 - The Lover After Me by Savage Garden

Gary didn't know how he'd gotten there. Actually, he did know, because he had been paying attention to the street names. Somewhere around two years ago, maybe more, maybe less - he knew the exact number of days but he wanted to pretend he didn't - he had told Ash to get out of his life, to get out of his house.

But Ash was still in his heart. After all this time, the little bastard was still in his heart.

And now Gary found himself walking through the neighbourhood that Ash lived in. He owned a cozy little apartment, and he shared it with his new lover. At the thought of a new man in Ash's life, Gary glared at nothing in particular. If he had wanted Ash out of his life that badly, then why was he feeling jealous? Ash had used him. Ash had treated him like a little toy...

/Here I go again.../ Gary thought to himself, wrapping his coat tighter around himself. Absently, he noticed that he was hungry. He hadn't had breakfast that morning... Shaking his head, Gary turned on the sidewalk, forcing himself to search for a deli or something like that. He never was good at taking care of himself. He used to always have May, or his parents, making sure he ate something.

He felt something tug his hand, and then he remembered that he was taking Biffy for a walk. The dog had spotted a squirrel and tried to tug at the leash to get him to let her move forward and chase it.

"Biffy! Heel!"

Sullenly, the dog obeyed and returned to his side, walking with him instead of ahead of him. She looked up at him with her black and white face and wagged her tail. Automatically, Gary smiled. She reminded him of Skiff...

"Nice dog." A lady commented, as she walked by Gary.

"Thanks," he replied, patting Biffy on the head proudly. One of the dogs he had bred personally. She was rather young, and therefore a bit too bouncy, but she was showing promise on the agility trials. "You know what Biff? Let's just go home, huh? You wanna go home? Yeah, I know you wanna go home. You wanna play with the other dogs." Gary grinned, never ceasing to be amused by the way dogs picked up on tones of voice. "I'll eat at home, save my money."

Except, he didn't eat when they got home. At least, not immediately. He took Biffy to her pen, then he checked up on all the dogs. Afterwards, he grabbed a big bag of dog food, and set about to feeding all of them and making sure their water dishes were full. Lastly, he checked off Biffy on his list of dogs to walk. He walked two dogs each day. They had ample room in their pens to run around, but he felt that it did them good to walk around in a different setting every now and then. So every morning, he jogged with one dog, and in the evening, he walked with another.

Back in his house, he washed his hands, then sat down in front of the TV Again, he vaguely realised that he was hungry, but he didn't feel like getting up and getting something. Yet there was nothing good on TV so he did get up and head to the kitchen.

Although he liked to believe he didn't, he followed the same routine. He always had. Walking the dogs, grooming the dogs, going to work, watching TV, doing work that he had to bring home with him. Every now and then people at the office would invite him out with them, but because he usually declined, they didn't ask him as much. And then when he couldn't find anything to do, he would actually eat, and think of Ash.

He had tried dating again, but it just didn't work. He was paranoid now, and he had trouble trusting anyone else with his feelings. Besides, he still loved Ash...

Gary paused in the process of making his sandwich, then continued. Why did he still love Ash? It'd been so long since they last talked. And why would he still love someone that had treated him so badly? Whe did he love Ash in the first place?

But then... Had Ash really been so bad? Ash had been able to put up with arrogant, stuck-up Gary. Ash had been able to put up with Gary's inner insecurities, and his need for someone that could both comfort him when he needed a shoulder to lean on, and push him back when he needed someone to play-fight with.

He sighed and sat down at the little table in his kitchen and ate his sandwich. He had a big meeting at work tomorrow. He had to be ready for it. And so thoughts of Ash were stowed away in a little corner. Ready to be dug up the next time Gary took a moment to step outside of what he called his life.

Gary woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of the rain outside striking against his window. For some strange reason, he felt like crying. No... It wasn't a strange reason. He was twenty-four, and he was alone. His older sister stopped by every now and then, and he visited her every now and then. Same with his parents. But, friends? He never had any. All he had was his work and his dogs, and he was still in love with the guy he had fallen in love with in high school.

Gently biting his lower lip, Gary got out of bed and walked to his window, watching the rain fall. And if he looked at the glass just right, he could catch his reflection. His eyes were still only half open, and his hair... his hair was a mess of brown locks. And he was wearing his green shirt. He had loved that shirt, and Ash had loved that shirt so much that he had 'stolen' in from Gary at one point. But after they broke up, Ash had mailed in back to him with a note saying, "I don't need this anymore. Just like you don't need me." That had hurt.

Gary shook his head and focused on the raindrops. In a sense, he was over Ash. But that was in the sense that he had given up on the hope that they could ever be together again. Just because he had loved Ash hadn't meant that the relationship was right. It was only on gloomy days like this, when he really felt like he was alone in the universe. Yes, he was free now. Free from a boyfriend, free from his parents... Yet, again, another strange thing. He could barely remember actually feeling held down. He remembered thinking about feeling constrained, but the actual feeling? Long gone.

Nothing made sense anymore...

Except Ash was gone. Ash was with some new guy. And everything was the same again, only Ash wasn't with him, Ash was with that... that... What *was* the guy's name, anyway? Didn't matter though.

Nothing mattered anymore. He just had to keep going.

Gary watched the raindrops. Little drops of water falling down to the ground. Did they know their fate? Did they know that they would land on rooftops, on people, on dirt? He laughed, realising how silly it was to think of that. They were just raindrops... He looked around his room. And this was just his room. Just part of his life. Just, just life.

He ran a hand through his hair, then forced himself to go back to bed. Away with those thoughts. He would wake up tomorrow, happy and refreshed. He would take... Bouncer, yes, it was Bouncer's turn for a jog tomorrow. And then he would shower and get dressed and go to work. Maybe, maybe he would go to a club that night.

He wrapped himself tightly in the sheets, and closed his eyes. Maybe he really wasn't still in love with Ash. Just the memory...