Everything feels like magic when it’s 4 in the morning and you’ve been drinking.
Gabriel hoisted me closer so that my head nestled perfectly between his neck and shoulder. An inky, starry sky stretched over our heads, concrete rooftop pressed into our backs and I closed my eyes. “Are you sure I shouldn’t be getting you home?” he chuckled, nudging me out of my drunken state of near-sleep.
“I’m sure,” I murmured and pressed a kiss to his skin. His scent was familiar and his embrace comforting, the way old ex-boyfriends always feel in the midst of new heartbreak.
“As you wish.”
“You’re being so nice tonight,” I giggled, even though logic told me that nothing funny had been said.
“I am, Lia. I think we both need it.” He brushed his lips to my forehead and pointed up, shifting the thin sheet that covered us. “You can see Pegasus right there.” Gabe’s index finger traced the constellation. It was his favourite and the only one that I could ever pick out, even though he’d always made a point of showing me all the visible ones when we'd done this years ago.
“I see it,” I whispered even though I was staring at his profile - mentally tracing the dim lines of his fuzzy beard, big eyes and smiling mouth. Why his girlfriend had cheated and left him just like that was beyond me. I nuzzled his chest where his similarly broken heart pattered out a steady, quick beat.
“Show me the Big Dipper.”
“Ahhhh...” I flipped onto my back and squinted up. “That one!”
“That’s not even... that’s nothing! You never pay attention!”
“Wait wait wait I can get this right!”
His fingers dug into my sensitive waist and I burst out laughing, rolling around and tangling my limbs in the sheet while he tickled me and told me off for not listening. Breathless, I managed to hold his hands away from my body, even though I knew he was allowing it. I wasn’t strong enough to hold him off.
Not physically. Not emotionally. Not strong in any way. Not tonight.
The thought made me sob and Gabe’s eyes opened wide. “I’m sorry.” My voice cracked and I couldn’t stop crying.
“Lia.” He held me close and kissed my lips for a few precious seconds. “You’re okay.”
“No.” I squeezed the tears from my eyes, hiding my face in his chest. “No no no.”
It wasn’t just my recent break up. It was Gabe. It was his kindness and his softness. It was how masculine he was without being intimidating. It was how safe I felt with him - here and now and when we’d been together two years ago.
Maybe it was, too, that we were using each other. That our friendship, repaired and easy, probably wouldn’t survive our mutual rebound. That now, in his arms, kissing him to distract ourselves from loss, I wasn’t sure I’d ever fallen out of love with him.
Or was that just the confused voice of my fragmented heart?
“I should take you home.” He was breathless and I knew he didn’t want to take me home, so I kissed him again, forcing us deeper into each other and out of the clutches of heartache.
It felt like we’d been together for minutes when the sun started to creep up. We were still just kissing when Gabe pulled away by centimetres to say “He’s an idiot.”
“What?” My voice was slurred with lust and wine and a lack of sleep.
“He’s an idiot, Lia.”
I swallowed. “So is she.” Our eyes tunneled paths through each other. “Maybe we kind of are, too,” I whispered.
He nodded. “Maybe.”
Gabriel’s phone vibrating sliced through our trance.
“You should answer it,” I suggested softly.
“I don’t think so.”
But it kept buzzing and even though neither of us checked, we knew who it was.
“It’s... it would have been our anniversary last night,” he said against my temple.
With a harsh, rare “Fuck,” he wrestled the interrupting object from his pocket and I rolled away, physically sick.
Gabriel grabbed after me even while he spoke in low tones but the magic was gone. It had just been one perfect, starry night and it was over. All of it. Over.