V - Turning Point

All it takes for our lives to change is one momentous event. A turning point. From then on, the paths would split and the step we make would determine our very future. For some, that point in their lives comes only once, but if our will is strong enough, we could pave our own path, we could change our own destiny.

Seeing that picture made Seb realized that he wasn’t as ready as he thought he was. That wasn’t really fine.

He thought that what he needed was closure to move on and forget. He thought that by closing the book of his love for Ryan, he would finally start to heal and get back his life on track. He was wrong. He never wanted closure, he never wanted to forget and move on all he ever wanted is to have Ryan back.

That is still what he wants.

No matter how much he tried to deny it, how much he doesn’t want to admit it at first, it had never changed.

What he needed was Ryan. Nothing else.

And it hurts so much for Seb to know that one he needed the most was also the one that seemed so impossible to get.

Seb sat on the floor, crying, as he held onto that picture. That distant memory of his love and happiness. He did his best to look strong in front of Ryan, but he couldn’t pretend any longer.

Each moment he spends with him was so painful that he wanted everything to stop. He wanted to be inside a void and feel nothing. No pain, no loneliness, no heartbreak. Nothing.

Seb wanted to disappear.

“Seb, are you waiting for someone?” Barry asked him as he placed the order slip on the bar counter.

“Umm… no… not really…” Seb lied.

“Yeah, right.” Barry said and passed the order slip to the bartender. “You kept on looking at the door every time it opens.

“I’m just checking how many customers are coming in. That’s all.” Seb gave a weak excuse.

“Don’t give me that crap, Seb. You’re obviously waiting for someone. Who is it?” Barry continued questioning him.

“I left a note at Ryan’s. I said we can talk here tonight.” Seb finally admitted.

“So, you finally decided to talk to him. I mean, really talk.

“I’m not sure about really talking. Maybe reconnecting a bit - really bit - is the more accurate term?” Seb sighed. “Anyway, I wanted to do it somewhere I feel safe, and this is the first place that I thought of. It’s alright, is it?

“Of course, besides Paula would kill me if she finds out that I let you talk to Ryan alone.” Barry said.

“It’s not like I would break down in front of him. I don’t want that.” Seb replied.

“That’s exactly what she told me. We know you’re trying to be brave in front of Ryan, we know you’re going to hold back all the pain you have, and we’re afraid that once Ryan is gone, you’ll let out all that bottled up emotions and break down, and when that happens we don’t want you to be alone.” Barry told him in a deeply concerned tone.

“Just being here is already making me feel a lot stronger, Barry. Knowing that you are around is very comforting, but maybe if I have some little liquid courage then…” Seb trailed off.

“No drinking, Seb.” Barry said strictly. “You need to keep sober, remember?

“I know…” Seb sighed. Although a little drink would calm him down and make him a little bit more confident, Seb knew that drinking would only hamper his progress. He went through a lot already, and he wouldn't let a little slip off just because of Ryan to put all his hard work to waste.

Seb kept on waiting, but at half-past nine Ryan was still nowhere to be seen. The nightmare of the past five years seemed like it was happening once again. Seb felt like he was waiting for nothing.

Is that how his life was destined to be? To always wait for Ryan and be disappointed for his non-appearance?

Midnight came and Seb was still waiting. The excitement and anxiety he felt just a while ago were starting to turn into despair and utter disappointment.

Five years were long enough for waiting. He was tired of it. He couldn’t take any more of it. He just wanted it all to end.

“Seb…” Barry called his name. “It’s midnight, your shift already ended two hours ago, you need to go home and sleep.

“Yeah… I know…” Seb said with a sigh. He wasa very disappointed.

He couldn’t believe that he waited for Ryan again. Waited until he finally realized that he’s not coming. Waited until he finally gives up.

After changing shirts and taking his bag from his locker, Seb walked out of the bar, despondent and disappointed.

Walking away with a heavy heart, Seb couldn’t help but think that maybe it was the world’s way of telling him that reconnecting with Ryan was just not meant to be.

“Seb!” He heard someone call him after walking a block away from the bar. He turned around and saw Ryan running after him. “I’m sorry, I was working overtime on a case…” He said panting. “…I came as soon as I saw your note.” Ryan said as he took out the note Seb wrote saying that he’ll be waiting at Barry’s until his shift.

“You work too much, Ryan.” Seb said as he waited for Ryan to catch up to him.

“Are you worried about me?” Ryan asked with a small smile as he walked slowly towards Seb.

“Were you even worried about me?” Seb asked him back calmly. “When you were away, did you even think about how I was doing? Because every single day I couldn’t stop thinking about you.

“Things might’ve changed between us, Seb, but I never stopped caring about you. Not even a single day.

Then why didn’t you come back sooner? Why didn’t you come back for me? Why did you stop loving me? Seb wanted to ask Ryan all of those things, but he held back. He didn’t want to show Ryan what he really felt. At least in front of Ryan, he wanted to be strong.

“Do you want some coffee? There’s a popular hipster coffee shop nearby.” Seb asked.

“You’re a hipster now?

“It’s the only place that’s still open after midnight.” Seb replied.

Their conversation was a bit somber and awkward at first. Five years without communication and two of them felt like they’ve met each other again. It wasn’t like their conversations in past, cozy, and full of smiles and laughter, but it was a start.

Unlike before, they walked with a certain distance between them. A space Seb couldn’t cross anymore.

Seb wasn’t kidding when he said that it was a hipster coffee shop. It wasn’t designed and built as one, it’s just that almost all of its customers are hipsters still awake during that time.

“So, you’re a big shot lawyer now. Must be nice to live in that fancy penthouse.” Seb said as they sat down with their coffee.

“I don’t know. I’m barely even home.” Ryan replied.

“That explains your empty fridge.

“I can buy groceries, but it’s not like I can cook.

“Really? After five years you still don’t know how to cook.

Ryan paused for a while. “I never really had the chance to learn. I’m used to having someone cook for me.” He replied.

Seb’s heart skipped a beat, remembering how he always cooks for Ryan back then. “So, your girlfriend cooks for you.” Seb said, trying to pivot the conversation away from their past together.

“She can’t even boil an egg.” Ryan replied. “Ever since I started working, I haven’t really had a home-cooked meal.

“Really, that long? Maybe I should start cooking for you too.” Seb bit his lips the moment those words came out of his mouth. It just came out of nowhere, for a second there, he forgot that he wasn’t in a relationship with Ryan anymore.

“Would you? That would be great!” Ryan said with a smile.

For the second time, Seb’s heart skipped a beat. It had been so long since he last saw that smile. He missed that smile so much that he dreams of it every night. Finally, he could see it again with his own eyes. And it was so bittersweet.

“Yeah… but that’s an extra charge.” Seb said as he gulped and looked down at his untouched coffee.

“Seb…” Ryan called his name gently. Seb hates that. Every time Ryan would call him like that he would just melt and all of his defenses would go down. He doesn’t want to get swept away. “Is it too much to ask that we become friends?

“Let’s take things slow. We don’t have have to rush anything.” Seb replied.

“Alright, let’s take things slow.” Ryan agreed.

As they walked back to where Ryan parked his car, Seb looked up the sky. It was a habit. Every night he would try to find a single star, but the bright lights of the busy city kept him from seeing a single one.

“Do you think the city would ever have a star in that sky again?” Ryan asked Seb solemnly.

“I do. They’ll come back. I’m sure of it. They’re just waiting.” Seb replied.

“Waiting? For what?

“Not what? Who?” Seb said. “They’re waiting for their savior, you know.

“Their savior?

“Yeah. That one amazing environmental lawyer that would fight for them.” Seb said with a small smile as he continued looking up in the sky.

Jan. 3, 2014

“Oh, there’s one!” Ryan pointed at the lone start at the night sky while he had Seb’s waist around his free arm.

“All of those fireworks messed up the sky.” Seb complained. They were at the rooftop of the apartment building just after dinner.

“You’re complaining now, but you seemed to be enjoying it a few days ago.” Ryan chuckled.

“At first, yeah, but then it’s just continuous noise. Now, all we could see is a single star, and it’s not even that bright.” Seb sighed.

“Come on, don’t sulk…” Ryan said and then pressed the side of Seb’s waist lightly.

“Hey… It’s ticklish…” Seb complained, with a soft chuckle.

“When I become a lawyer, you can sue anyone you want for polluting the skies, and I’ll make sure you see as many stars as you want every night.” Ryan boasted in a jest.

“Ehhh… too much work.” Seb said with scoff. “I think it would be easier to move to the Arctic Circle.

Ryan chuckled. “I wonder if we could ever see many stars in this city’s skies. It’s becoming busier and busier these days.

“Even if we can’t see them right now, they’re still there, and as long as we know that they’re there, then there is still hope. Maybe one day an amazing environmental lawyer would come to the city and fight for the future generation to still see shining stars when they look up in the night sky.

“That sounds like a lot of hard work.

“Yeah, I know. That’s why only an amazing lawyer could do it.” Seb smiled.

“Seb…” Ryan called him in a gentle tone, and when Seb looked at him, Ryan moved his face closer and planted a sweet and passionate kiss on Seb’s lips.

At that moment, Seb’s heart was pounding so fast and his whole heart was melting in happiness. After the loss of his father, Seb never thought that he could be happy again, but Ryan changed all that.

He gave him new hope in love and life.

They thought nothing could separate them, that nothing could tear them apart, but as the door of the rooftop opened, so was the path to the lonelier parts of their lives, and for Seb, simply the darkest.

Next chapter