“What are you doing here?” Adam asked. “Is Daniel with you?”
I shook my head. “He’s probably home by now. Can I come in?”
Adam gauged the situation for a minute, wondering if whether or not it was safe for me to cross the line into his apartment. I didn’t think for one second that he would turn me away.
“Maybe now’s not such a great time,” he replied.
Okay, so maybe I was a little off about that doubt. “Why not?”
Adam shrugged. “I’m tired.”
I tilted my head and put a hand on my hip. “Adam,” I warned.
Adam sighed, rolling his eyes. “Come in, then.”
I knew he couldn’t pull a fast one on me. No matter how many times, I was able to see straight through his façade, whether or not I wanted to see what I saw or had the ability to handle it, well, that was a different story.
I followed him into the kitchen, where I found his friends, Ben and Jerry, hanging on the counter top. In their cookies and cream goodness, high on their sugary steeple.
“Late night snack?” I gestured to the ice-cream with my chin.
Adam half-smiled, rather sleepily, which was odd. “You know me, I just can’t help myself.”
“No inhibition whatsoever,” I agreed.
Adam pulled out a spoon and handed it to me. “Not necessarily a bad thing. Think of it this way, you will always have a friend with an ice-cream in their fridge.”
I dipped my spoon into the thick setting of the cream. “Good point.”
It was a rare occasion that Adam and I found ourselves spooning, and yet here we are, spooning for the second time. We ate in a cold silence akin to the coldness of the ice-cream; stark and permanent in the dry air. As if to declare ‘here I am!’ and we were ignoring its presence.
“I know why you’re here, you know,” Adam said. “I’m not stupid.”
“Obviously you’re not,” I said. “I never even said you were.”
“Then why don’t you just dive straight into it instead of sugar coating the interrogation. It makes me feel like you think I can’t handle whatever you’re about to throw at me.”
I sighed, placing my spoon down in the bucket. “Okay, I want to know what happened between you and Daniel in the bathroom.” I shrugged to show the end of my interrogation.
To my surprise, Adam chuckled. “Not a George Michael scenario; just clarifying.”
I bit down on my bottom lip to keep from laughing, but Adam could see it through my eyes and he just waited until I couldn’t hold it in any longer.
I smacked him on the arm. “Not fair. This is supposed to be a serious conversation.”
Adam raised his hands. “Hey, I’m serious. No doubt about it.”
“What did he say and what did you say? What happened?”
Adam sighed. “He can be so controlling at times, you know.”
I shrugged. “He’s just passionate about certain things.”
“Don’t kid yourself, Anna,” Adam said. “Passion and control are two very different things.”
“Well what about you tonight?”
“Me?” Adam asked, taken aback.
I nodded. “Wasn’t you telling Clare that you had to leave there and then exercising a form of control?”
“Different situation, Anna.”
“Why, because you had a presentation?” I made bunny marks around ‘presentation’ when I said the word.
“This is beside the point,” Adam said.
To which I mumbled, “You brought it up.”
“The point is,” Adam continued, ignoring my little remark, “he wanted me to stay away from you. To keep in touch but not in the ‘we’re old best friends’ kind of way but a ‘here and there; more there than here’ kind of way.”
“Huh?” I said after I had second to process his words.
“He’s controlling. Plain and simple.”
“Your wrong,” I said, slightly infuriated, “so stop saying that.”
Adam sighed. “Look, he is a good guy. I’m not going to lie because I’m bigger than that. But if a guy can’t handle the fact that his girlfriend his friends with another guy, then it’s going to be a bumpy ride from here on out.”
“He hasn’t been like that the whole time. Just to you.” I wondered why that was so.
Adam shrugged, as if he heard my thoughts. I tried breaking the antenna, but it was fixated up in the air all too well for my liking. He stared at me, as if waiting for some version of an enlightenment.
“I want you to be happy, Anna,” Adam said. “Even if it’s without me, remember?” he smiled sheepishly.
I gulped. “You have Clare.”
Adam tilted his head from side to side in consideration. “Not in the same way I have you. Anyway, I don’t think it’s going to work out between us. It’s just not…she’s great and all, it’s just not working for me.” I took another spoonful of ice-cream hoping that it would cool my senses. Adam watched me carefully, in waiting. Then he looked down and sighed. “I think you should leave before we do something we’d both regret.” I nodded and then gulped a second time. “And I never ever want to regret you, Anna.”
Okay, so I can see where Daniel was coming from. Still, the execution wasn’t warranted. So I guess he was half-right; I can give him that. More importantly, I got to somehow see Daniel’s perspective of the whole situation through Adam’s eyes. It was strange that they seemed so connected and yet so distant.
Adam saw me off at the door, and then I was on my way home. It felt so natural to me calling Daniel ‘home’, I loved it. When I stepped inside, Daniel was watching television, probably to pass the time since that’s the only reason I ever saw him watch television.
“Don’t you think you could have gone about this a whole other way?” I asked, sitting opposite him on the coffee table.
Daniel lifted the remote to turn off the television. “Maybe. Don’t you think you could have talked to me instead of Adam?”
I shrugged. “Adam’s my best friend, though. So what, I’m not allowed to talk to him anymore?”
Daniel smiled and then shuffled to sit upright straighter. “Okay, so maybe I could have handled the situation a little differently. I can tell you and Adam have this—” he licked his lips in thought, struggling to find the words, or afraid to say them out loud— “this connection of some sorts. I don’t want to get in the way of the people who make you happy in your life, and I don’t want to forcefully cut them off from your life, if that means you’d be angry or sad or just upset or disappointed with me.”
“Why did you do what you did then?”
Daniel considered the question for a minute and then shrugged. “I wanted you all to myself?” he grinned.
I tilted my head. “Really, Daniel. Why?”
Daniel sighed. “I hate admitting this because it sounds so psychopathic-corny, but I was jealous. I was jealous of you and Adam, okay. But you have to understand, you running off to every other guy every time we have a disagreement or argument is not helping out our cause of trying to be together.”
I scrunched my face. “I don’t run off to other guys.”
Then Daniel, mimicking my actions, tilted his head with a hint of humour touching his eyes. “Really? Derek ring a bell?”
I slouched, my thoughts as limp as my body. “He was a bad egg though. Adam’s nothing like Derek.”
“It’s not about Derek or Adam, it’s about us. Come running to me and…and yell at me for all I care. If we’re in this together, we need to start talking to each other and not to other people every other time.”
“Okay, I get it,” I said. “You’re right.”
Daniel smiled, his eyes widening. “What was that now?” he asked, placing his finger to ever so slightly push out his ear towards me.
I smacked him on his arm. “I’m right, too!”
Daniel laughed. “We’re both right. And if it makes you feel better, I’ll apologise to Adam first-ish thing tomorrow morning.”
I looked at Daniel with admiration. “Thank you.”
Daniel nodded. “Anyway, I’ve got something planned for us to have a little us time.”
I narrowed my eyes. “What is it?”
Daniel shook his head, a sly smile teasing me. “Nah-uh, you’re just going to have to find out later, because it’s a surprise.”
“Daniel,” I said, stretching out his name in apprehensiveness.
“Don’t ‘Daniel’ me and pout; you know you love surprises.”
Yes, but I feel like I’ve given you nothing. I didn’t dare utter those words for fear they may inspire another fuming debate. I could only hope that whatever it is it was something small.