Vito admired the view of the commercial district of Newcrest for a moment. The golden sunset glow made this evening on the rooftop terrace particularly pleasant. Perfect, he thought. Seems everything was working in his favour.
“You taking a photo of the scenery in your head?” Louis chuckled as he came over with can of juice.
“Yeah,” Vito smiled. He kept reminding himself that he needed to get more into landscape photography one of these days. He’d always felt working with models was his real strength, but he did like a challenge. “You know me too well.”
“You’re not hard to read. And we’ve known each other for what, over ten years now?” Louis shrugged. “You’ve got a point though, this is a pretty good spot for watching the sunset.”
“Sure is,” Vito nodded distractedly. “Over ten years, huh? That’s a lot of sunsets…”
“Not that we’ve watched all of them together,” Louis pointed out pragmatically.
“Well, no, true,” Vito uttered. Not quite where he wanted to steer the conversation tonight.
“We have been through a lot together though,” he recovered. “But I can still remember our first kiss like it was yesterday. I knew it was something special right then and there. That you were special.”
Louis looked amused. “No you didn’t. You were a hormonal teenager that was high on life after having his first kiss.” He laughed.
“Such a romantic,” Vito rolled his eyes. “Come on, I know you thought it was something big too.”
“Can’t deny that,” Louis’ expression softened for a split second. “But we were kids back then. Didn’t know much about life. Or love.”
“True,” Vito acknowledged. “But we’re not kids anymore, Louis. I know for a fact that I’ve learned a thing or two in that department…”
He stood up, not taking his eyes off Louis.
“…and that I know a good thing when I see it…”
Louis looked at him, perplexed. “You going somewhere?” He jumped up to his feet.
“Oh, you could have kept sitting,” Vito told him. “But I have something to say, and I want to do it before the sun escapes…”
“Hang on…” Louis looked petrified. “What are you doing?”
He watched Vito kneel in front of him, almost as if in slow motion.
“Louis, I look at you and I don’t want to spend a day without you. I want you by my side, today and every day after that. I see you with my son, and I can’t picture it any other way. I can’t imagine a future without you. And I don’t want to. You’re the one. So… will you marry me?”
Louis struggled to form a coherent sentence at first.
Vito looked at him hopefully.
“No.” He managed finally.
Vito’s entire body grew tense. He stood up stiffly.
“Well, that’s ok.” He forced himself to say. “I’m sorry. You weren’t ready. I rushed you into this. Let’s forget I said anything.”
He couldn’t quite read Louis’ expression.
“But we can’t really forget you said it, can we?” Louis asked quietly. “You went to spend your life with me?”
“Yes, I know what I want for my future. For our future.” Vito nodded.
“I don’t exactly feel that way,” Louis started slowly.
“You’re not there yet. I get it. And it’s fine.” Vito nodded. “We can just keep taking it slow. We’ve got our whole lives, after all. I’ll wait for you. Take as long as you need.”
“No. You don’t understand.” Louis said quietly. He looked very pale all of the sudden.
What he said next would echo in Vito’s head.
“I just don’t really see myself ever wanting to spend the rest of my life with you.”
Vito covered his mouth in shock, but he wasn’t aware of the motion. He felt as if he’d lost control of his own body. He just stood there, frozen in time. And in heartbreak.
“Never?” He whispered finally.
“I’m so sorry.” Louis looked at him sadly.
“But… but… if you don’t ever see a future for us, then what are we doing?”
As soon as he asked, Vito knew he didn’t want to hear the response.
“I guess we’re just holding on to the past.” Louis muttered.
“So it’s like what you said way back in Windenburg, isn’t it?” Vito said bitterly. “That you hope that someday, you’ll wake up and you’ll not love me anymore. Did you get your wish now?”
“Vito, don’t do this.” Louis said. “I didn’t want this to happen. I didn’t mean to string you along. I’ve not really been thinking about our future, until you brought it up. But now I’ve realised. We’re not in the same place, and we’ll never be. Not anymore. And I am so sorry. I didn’t want it to end like this. I did use to think you were the one too.”
Then don’t do this, Vito wanted to say. But his voice betrayed him. He couldn’t get a single word out.
“But things have changed. We’ve changed.” Louis concluded.
They stood in silence for a moment.
“I guess this is goodbye,” Louis said awkwardly.
Vito nodded, feeling powerless.
Louis kept giving him guilty looks on his way out.
And then he was gone.
“Bye.” Vito’s voice croaked.
Louis deserved to feel guilty, didn’t he? Vito wanted to be angry. He wanted to hate him.
But he couldn’t.
After all, it was nobody’s fault but his own that they fell apart.
He couldn’t bear staying in the studio, but he didn’t want to go home either. He paced along the evening streets of Newcrest until he reached the condos. But he didn’t head towards his.
He knocked on the door in an odd state of limbo.
“Vito?” Sera opened the door, gobsmacked. “What are you doing here?”
In spite of living next to each other, Vito had never even been inside of Sera’s studio. What was he doing, he thought. She’d just laugh at him, surely…
“Are you ok?” His sister asked, looking concerned.
Vito shook his head. “We broke up. Louis and I broke up.”
It felt surreal to say it. Especially to her.
But she didn’t laugh at him, or remind him that this was all his doing in the first place. She seemed genuinely shocked.
“I’m so sorry, Vito.” Funny, Louis said that as well, Vito thought. “Are you… sure it’s over?”
“I’m pretty sure.” Vito nodded. Louis may not have been certain about his plans for the future, but he did seem certain they would not involve him…
“That’s horrible,” Sera said sincerely. “I… is there anything I can do? Do you want to come in or… something?”
“No, that’s ok. But thank you.”
“Vito… I don’t mean this in a bad way, but… why did you come to me? We barely talk. And when we do… well, you know.” Sera looked away. “Why didn’t you go to Carly? Or Hallie?”
Vito had been asking himself the same question. But somehow, he already knew the answer.
“Because they wouldn’t understand. Hallie doesn’t know what it’s like to want to be with someone that way. And Carly? She’s never lost love. Even when Ralph and her split up for a while, he was always there, just waiting for her to take him back. What does she know about heartbreak?”
“I wanted to apologise, Sera.” He continued. “For the way I’ve treated you, especially when we were younger. I’ve been such a plumhead. I never knew how you felt. With all those guys. I’m sorry. I wish I’d been a better brother.”
“I don’t know what to say.” Seraphina looked at him uncertainly.
“You don’t owe me anything Vito,” she told him. “We’ve not had the best relationship, but you don’t have to apologise. And I really am sorry that things didn’t work out between you and Louis. I thought you guys were the real deal.”
“Yeah. So did I.” Vito said.
“Are you sure you don’t want to come in? I’ve got nectar…”
“No. I need to be alone. Thanks though. I mean it.”
And with that, Vito dragged himself to his place.
Leaving behind a rather baffled and worried sister.
Getting home didn’t particularly bring Vito much solace. It felt like Louis was following him, staring at him from pictures in every room.
A reminder of what could have been. Should have been.
And what was now never to be.
He’d have to take all the photos down, Vito thought.
But not tonight. He stared at the smiling Louis on the wall. He still couldn’t believe he was gone from his life. They were enjoying the sunset just an hour ago.
And now he was alone. Without the one he’d thought was his other half.
He slid the walk in closet open, crawling inside. Sliding the door shut behind him, he let his body fall to the floor.
And he cried like a baby.