“Hey, do you want another drink?”
“Huh? What?” Noah appeared almost startled as Gus addressed him.
“I’m getting another drink. Do you want one?” Gus repeated his question.
“Oh. Um, sure. Yeah.” Noah smiled. “Another wrench?”
Gus nodded, returning his smile. “I figured as much.” He began rising to his feet, but paused for a moment, eyeing his boyfriend uncertainly. “Noah, is everything okay? You’ve been acting so weird ever since dinner…”
“I’m fine.” Noah assured him, his voice sincere. “I’m just kinda stressed, I guess… Work’s been pretty crazy lately.”
Gus nodded in understanding. Being a paramedic was not easy. The hours were long and hard, and the work could be so emotionally draining. Sometimes he wondered how Noah managed to do it.
“Well, wait a few more years before you start going gray on me, okay?” Gus teased as he rose from the table. “It’s our anniversary. Just try to relax.” He hesitated for just a moment. “And, uh, if you need a little help with that, I may know a relaxation technique or two that we can try out when we get home.” Gus winked at him as he spoke.
The sound of Noah’s laughter sent a warmth rushing through him as he turned away and headed to the bar.
Though he’d joked about Noah going prematurely gray, Gus found himself genuinely wondering what Noah might look like in fifteen or twenty years’ time. Would his hair be peppered with gray? Would he have little wrinkles in the corners of his eyes?
And, most importantly, would Gus still be at his side?
Tonight marked seven years that they’d been together. Seven. Gus could hardly believe it. It somehow felt like both an eternity and a blink of an eye at the same time. And that’s how it was supposed to feel, wasn’t it? When you found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with?
That was definitely what Gus wanted with Noah. And he knew deep down that it was what Noah wanted too… He just didn’t want it in quite the same way.
That was one big hurdle they’d faced early-on in their relationship. Gus had always dreamed of being married one day… But while he continued to wait for the day gay marriage became legal in Germany, he was willing to settle for a legal partnership. A lifelong commitment. A promise to stay together for the rest of their lives.
Noah saw things a bit differently. Before he was ten years old, he’d had to see his parents cheat on each other, go through a nasty divorce, and fight a long, painful custody battle. Marriage and commitment were empty words to Noah. Gus knew that. He understood it. They’d talked about it countless times.
“Why make a bunch of stupid promises about the future? Why worry about tomorrow when we can focus on what we have today?” He always said. “I’m here now. I love you now. And that’s what matters.”
Though it had hurt at first, Gus had quickly decided that he was willing to embrace his boyfriend’s point of view. And that was a big part of what he loved so much about Noah anyway — He never dwelled on the past. He didn’t worry about the future. He always lived in the moment. And Gus wouldn’t have had him any other way.
He headed back to their table, drinks in hand, and was relieved to see that Noah appeared a bit less preoccupied than he had before. “One wrench for you…”
“Perfect, thank you.” Noah smiled gratefully as the drink was placed in front of him.
“And one salty llama for me.” He took a long swig from his glass as he spoke.
“Blegh!” Noah laughed playfully. “I have no idea how you can drink that crap.”
“Mm, you’re right.” Gus took another small sip. “I have terrible taste, don’t I?”
The other man nodded enthusiastically. “The worst. In pretty much everything.” Noah teased. “Drinks, books, clothes…”
“Definitely. Worst of the worst.”
Gus laughed heartily. “Oh my God, you are such a loser.”
“I know.” He agreed, feigning seriousness. “I told you it was the worst.”
“It’s actually a pretty nice night…” Gus muttered softly as he glanced up at the stars above them. “I thought it’d be a lot colder.”
Noah shrugged and stopped walking, turning to face him. “I knew it’d be fine… Especially with you to keep me warm.”
Gus couldn’t help laughing at the uncharacteristically cheesy comment. “Wow, what the hell did they put in that last drink?”
“What?” His boyfriend’s cheeks reddened slightly. “Can’t I be a little romantic for once?”
Gus raised an eyebrow curiously at him. Something was definitely up. “Noah, what’s going on?” He asked nervously. “And don’t tell me it’s stress again, okay? You’re not yourself tonight…”
It was a moment before Noah replied. “I guess… I’ve just been thinking a lot lately.” He admitted at last.
“Your Bruder. And Hazel.”
Gus’ brow furrowed. That had definitely not been the answer he was expecting. “What are you talking about?”
A soft sigh escaped his lips. “I’m talking about the future. Us…” Noah paused. “Auggy, what happened to them was awful. But it reminded me that anything can happen… You never know when your time could be up. Know what I mean?”
Gus nodded slowly. There was a sudden twisting sensation in his stomach. He wasn’t quite sure what Noah was getting at, but whatever it was, it couldn’t be good.
“Tomorrow’s not promised, Auggy.” Gus couldn’t remember the last time he saw Noah so nervous. “Nothing is. But… There is one promise we can make. Before it’s too late.”
He watched, wide-eyed as Noah fumbled for something in his coat pocket.
“I know they won’t let us call it marriage, but screw them. This is what you’ve always wanted, Auggy. So, just to make it official…” Noah dropped down to one knee. “Augustin Rosebrook… Will you marry me?”
Gus knew his answer immediately.
He looked down and took a deep, shuddering breath.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of my US readers, and Happy Thursday to all my non-US readers 😛
Also, quick sappy moment — Today marks one year since I finished my first SimLit story (and prequel to Ashes to Ashes), Dust to Dust. A2A would not exist without that story, and no matter how much I love my legacy, D2D will always be my “baby”. So I am very thankful to any and all of you who have read D2D and supported that story. You’re awesome. 🙂