after he left

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thank you Tmntgirl11 for beta reading! <3

***

sam rolled over in the bed, a cool summer breeze coming in through the window to ghost over his bare skin. the room was dark but the moon outside the open window felt blinding since he was trying to sleep. it was a humid night, so nothing but a white sheet was lazily draped over his naked body. he looked over to his lover and sighed. gabriel's back was turned to him and sam could tell by the irregular pattern of his breathing that he was having issues sleeping tonight as well.

"gabe." he whispered into the darkness. the only other sounds were the crickets chirping outside. it was at least half a minute before gabriel even replied, but it felt like a lifetime.

"what is it?" he whispered a reply as turned to face his boyfriend. sam smiled at his messy hair that always found a way into his eyes.

"i miss you." sam finally replied. they both ignored the double meaning behind the words.

"then c'mere kiddo." gabe replied in a rough voice as he held out open arms; the perfect fit for sam's body. the taller man scooted over to curl into gabe's embrace, pressing their chests together and tangling their legs. he was laying halfway on gabriel, forehead pressed into the crook of his neck. gabe started tracing lazy figure eights on sam's back. it was all muscle memory from the countless quiet chicago nights they'd spent alone together.

"i miss the city. why did we come out here on this vacation?" sam asked. now they had to whisper. anything higher in volume would shatter the moment like glass.

"to get away from the city." gabe replied, chuckling dryly at the irony, but still
keeping his voice low. his soothing touches paused for just a second before continuing. "just a few more days and we'll be back."

gabriel desperately wanted to fall asleep. everything that sam said late at night was without caution or filters; it was honest. and that usually led to an argument of some sort because if you thought about it too hard, most of gabe and sam's relationship was based on dishonesty.

"there's a problem between us." sam said, so quiet that he was essentially breathing out the words. gabe stiffened, praying to an unknown force that sam would just fall asleep. but he continued. "there's been a problem between us, and we try different things like couples therapy or— or vacations to the country or—" he noticed his volume raising and caught his breath to savor the moment. "but it never works." gabriel didn't reply and instead opted for softly petting sam's smooth hair. sam stiffened and leaned up on one elbow, so gabe couldn't reach his hair as easily. he could if he tried hard enough, though.

"sam..." gabriel started to try and plead, looking into his boyfriends eyes with an urgency that he could only hope would convey properly. please, can't we just make it through the week? he begged inside his mind.

"what's the problem between us, gabe?" and although it had been the first time he'd asked the question that night, gabe felt like it had already been repeated over and over in every touch or moment of eye contact.

gabe looked away in defeat. if sam really wanted to go down this route right now, then gabriel would give him what he wanted. because the truth was that gabe felt honest at night as well.

"i don't think there's a problem between us. i think the problem is us." gabriel dropped this bomb as he looked at the wall opposite sam. his own heart plunged into his stomach because the words unspoken were finally being said aloud.

suddenly it was too hot to be this close. sam scooted back a fraction of an inch and it felt like a mile. "no." he spoke at a normal volume, which seemed like shouting in the stillness of the night. "no, don't say that." he said the words like his throat was restricted in some way. "all these years. you can't say that." he shook his head violently, staring at the side profile of his boyfriend that refused to look at him.

"we both know it's true—"

"NO!" sam yelled, and if the talking was shouting, then shouting was earth-shattering. he backed up further, like he was afraid. like gabe would pull out a belt any second and start dealing him lashes.

gabriel finally mustered up the courage to look at him, the weight of what they were discussing clouding over the already hot room. "sammy, i'm sorry." he said. there was no regret in the words.

"stop." sam demanded. "just stop." he moved the sheet off his body and clambered out of bed, weighed down by an unseeable force. he pulled on sweatpants and a t-shirt and shoes with no socks in a matter of seconds. gabriel was sitting up now, exposing his torso, but the blanket was covering his bottom half.

sam didn't say another word, because if he did, he would choke. he instead found the front door handle of their little private cabin and just... left. what hurt the most was that he knew his boyfriend was right. there was something in their relationship that was missing, and it didn't feel like it was something that could be restored. as cheesy as it sounded, the spark was gone.

he walked past the trees and the grass and the dirt. shit, sam felt he could walk past the sky itself if he tried hard enough. he left himself with his own thoughts, drowning in them.

-

"where did you sleep?" was the first thing gabe asked when sam showed back up on the porch the next day. it was long past noon and the cloud had opened their fierce jaws to let the sun unleash its fury. curiosity and concern burned hotter than any other emotions in that moment.

sam looked at gabriel, his gabriel, with the messy hair and perfectly uneven lips, and started his well rehearsed monologue he'd been trying to think up ever since there was that first inkling of a missing spark.

"i didn't sleep. i spent last night wandering through dirt roads and listening to cows make these really loud noises and i—" sam closed his eyes for a moment before opening them again and continuing; it was different than a blink. "and i thought back to all the memories we shared. the first time we met, our first date. god, you were so full of yourself back then." he chuckled with tears in his eyes, remembering all the cheesy pickup lines and flirty winks that gabe had sent his way. "i thought back to all the time we spent together and gabe— 95% of it was good! we just need to find what we had and we can be happy again— we can be us again!" sam dropped to his knees, exasperated and hurting from the tightness in his chest. when he started speaking again it was quieter. "i guess what i'm trying to say is... i understand if you don't want to be with me gabe. if that's the case, tell me now and i'll go. but i want to be with you. i want us to work it out. please. i need you." he looked up at gabe and pleaded with his eyes.

gabe looked over sam, who was sweaty with messy hair and in a state of near-panic, and he made his final decision.

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