“It isn’t.” Brian paused again. He was about to take a heck of a chance. He just hoped it would work out. “I think there’s a lot I don’t know about you because I haven’t bothered trying to find out. And that’s kind of suckish of me. I mean, if you’re my boyfriend, I should care enough to find out what kind of pizza you prefer, what you’d rather do for dates, all that kind of stuff. And I haven’t asked.”
“I can actually tell you if I don’t like something or if there’s something I really want to do,” Javier said. “I know how to talk. I haven’t said anything because so far, everything’s going pretty well as far as I’m concerned.”
“Okay.” Hearing that should have made Brian feel better. For some reason, it didn’t.
“You don’t believe me?” Javier tapped Brian on the knee. “Hey. Are you more upset about Trista than you’re letting on, or are there problems with us too?”
“I’m bummed about breaking up with her.” Brian didn’t want to lie to his boyfriend. He just wasn’t sure he should tell the whole truth.
“And you think there are problems with us.” Javier leaned over to look into Brian’s eyes. Brian had to force himself not to look away. “Talk to me. I know you aren’t great at serious discussions, but I think if we don’t talk, we’ll be breaking up too. I don’t really want to do that.”
“Neither do I.” He had to tell Javier what he was thinking. It wouldn’t be easy, but if he didn’t say anything, Javier would probably just get up and leave. “It started with the pizza. I realized I didn’t know what kind you liked, and then I realized I didn’t know a lot of things about you. If we’re together, I should know things. I should ask.”
“You had the same problem with Trista.” Javier grimaced. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to bring her up. But she talked to me a lot about feeling as if you didn’t care what she wanted. You decided what you and she would do, and sometimes she went along with it.”
“She told me things she wanted to do, though, and we did them,” Brian argued. Hearing he’d done the same thing to Trista as to Javier ticked him off, both at himself and at Javier for bringing it up. “She told me things.”
“You never asked, though, did you?” Javier paused. “She told you things because she’s that kind of person. If she wants something, she lets people know. But did you ever ask?”
“Crap.” Brian leaned back against the wall and glared at the ceiling. “I’m a bigger jerk than I thought. Why do you even want to keep dating me?”
Javier thumped him on the shoulder. “You aren’t a total jerk. You just don’t always think. Big deal. Everyone’s like that sometimes. I don’t usually speak up about things I want because that’s just the way I am. Big family, not a whole lot of money, you learn to be quiet about what you want and just make sure you get what you need.”
“So I don’t ask and you don’t say anything. We have to work that out if we’re going to keep dating each other.” He wasn’t even sure Javier wanted to keep dating. “We have to talk about stuff. And I have to listen when you talk. You’re right. I had the same problem with Trista. She kept telling me she wasn’t happy, and I kept not listening.”
“Yeah, listening’s kind of important.” Javier paused. “You know, you’re upset you and Trista broke up, and so is she. But the truth as far as I can tell is you gave her something pretty good.”
Yeah, I gave her the choice to go out with another guy. From Trista’s point of view, it probably was a good thing. Brian thought it sucked. “Yeah? What did I supposedly give her?”
“The chance to choose,” Javier said. “The chance to be happy, even if it makes you unhappy. That’s pretty awesome, when you think about it. You could have waited for her to break up with you or kept telling her to deal with things the way they were. Instead, you let her go.”