Three Couples, Six People, Many Songs(#21)
Song #21 - I Don't Know You Anymore by Savage Garden
Sometimes one just can't forget an ex. No matter how bad the break-up may have been, memories of the relationship linger on, and so do some of the feelings. Ash had never been sure bout whether or not he loved Gary, but every now and then, he wondered how different his life would have turned out if he had treated Gary better...
As the teenage brat he had been, he really hadn't understood how to treat people. Even in his early twenties, he still had trouble in that department. But then Misty fell sick, and something changed for him. He didn't do anything as drastic as quite his job to watch over her, but he did spend considerable time around Misty and Brock after he heard the news, and watching them together... Watching them together made him miss Gary, and he never quite understood that. He understood longing for the type of relationship his best friends had, but why did Gary pop up in his mind? Ever since they broke-up, they barely talked. Once in a while they would bump into each other and talk a little, but that was the extent of their communication.
Yet, now... Several months after Misty had passed on, Ash found himself tempted to pick up the phone and call Gary. Six, nearly seven years since they had broken up. Ash just didn't understand it. Sure he thought about Gary every now and then, how could he not? They had been together for almost as long as they had been apart. And maybe Ash hadn't quite been in love with Gary, but that was still his first, and quite honestly only, real long-term relationship.
Damn, he had really treated Gary badly... He'd done so many things wrong. And he felt guilty about it. He wasn't quite sure when he grew a conscience, but he had begun to feel really bad about everything he had done to Gary, and even the guys he had dated for only a short time.
Somehow, Ash knew that Gary still thought about him. Deep down inside, Gary was rather sensitive in a way. Ash had known that, and he had known how to use that to his advantage. Gary's soft streak was how Ash had been able to get Gary to forgive him over and over again. But everyone had their breaking points... And so had their relationship.
And then it hit Ash. Here he was, twenty-seven years old, single and currently without a job. Well, he was between jobs. He knew where he would be working, and he had the job secured and all, he just didn't have anything to do just yet. But anyway, here he was, doing absolutely nothing, and thinking about the first guy that he had really had a relationship with. Weren't six, seven years enough to get over someone? What if he had loved Gary, and still did? Of course, that would mean he had treated the one he loved pretty badly, but still. He wasn't getting any younger. Carpe Diem! Seize the day!
But first, feed yourself.
Ash headed for his door and went out in search of somewhere to get food. Ever the typical bachelor, he had no food in his house.
One foot in front of the other, an almost automatic procedure, yet for Ash it seemed to take more thought than he remembered it should. Around him, people bustled to and fro. Why did they all have somewhere to go? It was in the night now, so they couldn't be on the way to work anymore... You could practically see their thoughts though: Must hurry. Got to go. Things to do, people to see. Faster. Can't stop. Can't smell the blooming flowers.
Flowers... Ash stopped and looked around. Why was he in this city? Why did he live in his artificial cave in this concrete jungle? He missed the trees back home, he missed the plants. Spring had come, yet there were few plants to prove it. All Ash could be thankful of was that the snow had disappeared. It wasn't even the fact that the snow was cold and annoying, but that the snow somehow made things seem more lonely. Everything was so pristine and white, like a room in a mental institution. And the cold just made him need someone to be close to...
/What a year it's been.../ He thought glumly to himself, reflecting on Misty's death. Brock had, he had changed a lot because of it. He and Ash were still good friends, but Misty had been the glue holding them together. They still talked frequently, and visited each other often, for Misty had ordered them to take care of each other, but they couldn't depend entirely on each other. Brock had his siblings, and his other friends. Ash too had other friends, and his mother, but something was still missing in his life.
Looking around the town, he caught sight of an advertisement for Valentine's Day. Some sort of matchmaking service. "Looking to find that perfect person? Call us now!" Ha. The one. Ash didn't believe in there being "the one" for anybody. As a matter of fact, he didn't believe in love anymore, at least, not how most people defined it. He believed that people could form incredible attachments to other people, and that some people managed to find someone that they could spend their whole lives with, but that fairy tale idea of that one special person was really just a fairy tale.
A phone booth caught his eye, and he decided that maybe he should call someone. He had nothing better to do. His stomach was full, he had no work to be doing, no where to be... And he did not feel like returning to his tiny, over-priced apartment. Yes, a phone call *would* be nice.
He dug through his pockets and found some change. /But who?/ He walked into the phone booth and after putting the coins in, he picked up the receiver. Ash didn't want to disturb Brock, and his mother went to bed early...
No, that was a stupid idea. Hey, I'm bored and walking around town, why don't I call the guy I went out with for nearly six years a long time ago!
But then... Why not? Carpe Diem. Or rather, Carpe Nox. Seize the night.
Ash looked thoughtfully at the receiver. A part of him really did want to talk to Gary again. It had been so long, and... Ash missed him. They had spent some good times together, and maybe, just maybe it'd be fun to talk to him again? Shrugging, Ash dialed in Gary's number, amazed that he still remembered it.
"Um, yeah. Who is this?"
Ash twirled the phone cord on a finger, suddenly nervous. What if Gary hung up? Ash hated it when people hung up on him. "It's Ash."
"Holy fucking hell... Ash?"
"Ash that I dated in high school and college...?"
"That would be me."
"Wow. I thought you would have forgotten me by now."
Ash blinked. Forgotten about him...? Did he *really* come across as that cold and nonchalant sometimes? "Well, I haven't. I figured you'd be the one who would want to forget me."
"Don't think I didn't try..."
"Ash, I loved you. Love doesn't just appear and disappear on a whim."
"Oh. Right. Well. How've you been?"
"Alright, I guess. You?" Gary's tone had gone from shocked to simply amused and surprised.
"Pretty well. I guess since your number still works, you still live in that house, right?"
"Yup. Same place."
"Who else lives with you?" Ash asked, not so subtlety trying to find out if Gary was single.
"No one, just the dogs."
"In that big place?" Ash had to admit he was not expecting that. How on earth did Gary survive in such a big space on his own? Even Ash's little apartment seemed a bit lonely sometimes...
"Just... A bit surprised. I kinda figured you would have found someone by now."
"Oh, yeah. Gary the loner definitely would have found someone by now."
Somehow, Ash had forgotten how bitter and sarcastic Gary could be. "Still a loner? I thought you would've mellowed out in your old age."
"Ha-ha. Very funny, Ash. What about you? Still dating that guy you were living with?"
"Which one?" Ash asked wryly. "Whichever one you mean, he's long gone by now. Ever since Misty fell sick I kinda stopped dating. It just seemed... strange."
"She was a nice girl. Must be hard to lose a friend..."
There was an uncomfortable silence, and Ash hated silence over the phone. He had to say something. Anything.
"I really want to see you again."
Shocked silence. Wrong thing to say, Ash supposed.
"I mean, um... It's just. Damnit. Gary, you were a great boyfriend and I just... I want to try and make-up for what I did to you. I never deserved you, and I don't think we could ever get back together, but... I'd like it if maybe you could find it in you to forgive me, and, well, maybe we could be friends? I know it's been a really, really long time. And, we don't really know each other anymore, but-"
He could hear Gary laugh. "Yes. You know, if you had called a few years ago, I probably would have demanded that you come over."
"Yup. Hey, I have to go. But, well, drop by sometime, kay?"
Ash put the receiver back in the cradle and then stared at it for a while. Had that just...? Did Gary just...? What the hell...? He stepped out of the phone booth and continued his stroll back home. His steps fell smoothly, and almost happily. Ash felt nervous, for no matter how well the phone conversation had gone, a phone conversation was rather different than a face-to-face meeting. But he could be brave if Gary could pretend to not hate him for what he had done.
Ash smiled. He really wasn't expect to get back with Gary, or anything like that, but it felt good to have spoken to his ex. Their break-up had been so spontaneous... So much had been left un-said and there really hadn't been enough closure.
A rather small, but very pretty, tree caught Ash's eye, and he walked up to it. A little bird sat on one of the branches, and Ash idly wonder what kind it was. He cataloged it in his mind for later research. /Gary, I really don't know you very much anymore, but that can change. Never thought I'd be the first to break./ Ash smiled again, a thoughtful, amused smile. Life... life went on. It really did.
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