“Do you know what Plato said about soulmates?” Matthew asked as he flung his leg over Leon’s waist, trapping him under the covers of their too small college dorm bed.
“You did the reading,” Leon said.
“I’ve just been reading more of Plato lately,” Matthew said.
“Tell me,” Leon said, propping himself up onto one arm and turning to face Matthew.
“He said that when the gods created us, they made us one soul with two heads, four arms, and four legs, and that we were too powerful, so they split us up. And we were meant to walk around earth to find the other person who completes you to become whole again.”
“Do you believe it?”
“What?” Matthew asked.
“In soulmates? In Plato’s idea of them?”
“I think it’s an incredibly sad view of soulmates,” Matthew said.
“That’s not a no,” Leon said.
“I think soulmates are great for those that work out, but they don’t always,” Matthew said.
Leon woke up from his sleep remembering that for the first time in a while. At the time, he’d thought that Matthew had been referring to the people who’d lost their soulmates or couldn’t be with them because of social taboos, but now that he thought back to it, he wondered if Matthew had considered them to be one of ill-fated couples that were predestined to be unhappy from the start.
Maybe all along there was so much that Leon had missed, there were so many insecurities that Matthew had had and had hid that Leon had only recently seen. It was easy to blame Connor’s entrance into their lives as the impetus for Matthew leaving him, but the more he mused over it, the more he saw the inherent cracks that had been in the foundation of the relationship that he’d been oblivious towards. The truth was, even if Leon hadn’t met Connor, he wasn’t sure that they would have survived long-term.
He’d spent the weekend crying, getting drunk, and picking up all traces of Matthew and putting them in a box at the back of his closet. Matthew had taken all of his essentials and clothes with him, but in case he ever came back for the rest of it, it would be there for him.
“How’s Matthew?” Connor said, and Leon had had to excuse himself to the bathroom to not throw up at the mention of him alone. That must have answered Connor’s question enough because he didn’t mention Matthew again.
He didn’t ask if Leon was okay or for the sordid details of what happened. Instead, he brought him a mid-morning cup of coffee and set it on the end of his desk which Leon was appreciative of. Leon also suspected that Connor had told people around the office not to inquire about Matthew even though nobody said anything.
There was a tremendous guilt and sadness that Connor carried in their friendship that was reminiscent of the way that Matthew had felt, and it wasn’t his fault.
Leon thought back to Plato’s opinion of soulmates, he was pretty sure he’d found his other half in Matthew even if they weren’t predestined by the universe to be together. If Plato was right, and people spent their entire lives searching for their other halves, he wondered what Plato would have said for those who lost them. Plato would have probably been so damn disappointed in them.
“I’m really sorry about Matthew,” Connor said when they were finally able to talk about him a few weeks later. Leon had invited Connor over after work to watch TV and drink beers. He was the first person that Leon had had over to their house since that night that Matthew had left.
“It’s not your fault,” Leon said as he played with the rim of his beer bottle, “We had problems beforehand, I just didn’t see them until it was too late. But tell me about Emily, have you decided how to propose?”
“Probably over the holidays,” Connor said. “We’re heading to her hometown the week before Christmas to spend some time with her family.”
“Let me know how it goes,” Leon said.
“I will,” Connor said.
Christmas Party? Leon sighed at the invitation from Sam. He’d been a friend of Matthew’s who had become a good acquaintance of Leon’s over the years. He’d left Matthew’s workplace a little while ago and had probably missed the fallout of the breakup, hence the invitation that he extended to Leon.
Thanks for the invite Sam, but we broke up. So probably going to miss it this year.
You broke up with Matty? Sam replied almost immediately.
Then come anyways, and fuck him. Leon almost laughed at the way that Sam’s loyalty shifted in the text conversation.
I don’t know, maybe.
Please, I can even make out with you to make him jealous . Leon rolled his eyes but smiled at the message.
Okay. I’ll stop by for a little bit .
Leon almost chickened out when it was time for the party. He knew that Matthew was going to be there, there was no chance that he wouldn’t be. Leon wasn’t sure if he was ready to see him.
Leon grabbed his Grinch ugly Christmas sweater and talked himself into taking the Uber to Sam’s apartment. He tried to tell himself that it was to see the mutual friends that he’d missed seeing after the breakup. Sam had invited him and even after knowing that Matthew and he had broken up, he had still wanted Leon to be there and well, that meant a lot.
“Hey,” Sam said as he hugged Leon in greeting, “Glad you could make it.”
Leon caught Matthew’s eye across the room from where he stood talking to Mark and his wife.
“I may have to take you up on that offer to make out with you to make him jealous,” Leon said.
“I’ll have to have a few more beers for that,” Sam laughed.
Leon mingled around the room, saying hello and catching up with some of Matthew’s friends that he hadn’t seen for a while. This whole apartment was full of Matthew’s friends who had become his own over the course of their relationship, but Leon knew where their loyalties lay. Nevertheless, despite surely having heard Matthew’s side of the break up, they still treated Leon like he was meant to be there.
“Hey,” Leon said as Matthew sided up next to him later in the evening, “I was wondering if you were going to come over and talk.”
“I wasn’t sure if you’d want me to,” Matthew admitted.
Leon shrugged, “We have the same friends, we can’t avoid each other every time we show up in the same place.”
“So how are you doing?” Matthew asked.
Leon shrugged, “Been better.”
“How’s Connor?” Matthew asked.
Leon rolled his eyes, “He’s fine.”
“Are you…?” Matthew trailed off uncertainly, but Leon was sure of what he was implying. Are he and Connor together now?
“I can’t do this with you, Matthew, not here, not again,” Leon said as he set his cup down on the table, unable to spot a trash can nearby and hoping that Sam would find it to clean up later, “Merry Christmas,” he said as he pulled on his coat and hastily left the party, not even bothering to seek Sam out to let him know that he was leaving and to thank him for the party.
“Wait,” Matthew called after him as he ran out of Sam’s apartment and caught Leon waiting for the elevator.
“Can we talk?” Matthew asked, “Please.”
“Do you really think that after four years together, I would just move on?” Leon started to fight back but took a deep breath and paused, “Look, I don’t want to rehash the past and have the same fight that we’ve been having,” Leon said, “I just want to go home.”
“Okay, just, I didn’t ask that question because I thought you’d moved on,” Matthew said, “I just, I really hoped that you and Connor had gotten together so that I could say that my decision was justified and that I didn’t make the worst mistake of my life by leaving you and us.”
Leon snorted, “You’re looking for absolution for hurting me and ending our relationship.”
“Yeah, maybe, but I meant what I said earlier, all I’ve ever wanted was for you to be happy. I was just scared that I wouldn’t be able to make you happy.”
“Matty, being with you was the happiest I’ve ever been,” Leon said sadly, “I’m kind of fucking miserable lately.”
“So am I,” Matthew said, “So maybe we could not be miserable together.”
“You broke my heart, Matty,” Leon said.
“I’m sorry,” Matthew said, “For what it’s worth I broke my own heart.”
“But you weren’t the only one at fault,” Leon admitted and Matthew looked at him stunned, “Do you want to go back to my place so that we can talk?” It was his place now instead of theirs.
“Yeah,” Matthew said. They Ubered back to Leon’s place and he could see Matthew trying to figure out how and what to say in the privacy of the apartment.
“Can I get you anything to drink?” Leon asked.
“Just some water, please,” Matthew answered, “You removed the photos of us.”
“Yeah,” Leon said, “They’re in a box if you want them, they were too hard to look at.”
“Um, I wanted to tell you how sorry I was for ruining things between us and for being jealous of Connor. You did and said everything right and that wasn’t fair of me to act like you shouldn’t get to know Connor or be friends with him. All I could think about was how amazing he must be and I felt so fucking inadequate and useless and then I hurt you so badly and you didn’t deserve that.”
“I didn’t know how bad it was,” Leon admitted, “I didn’t know how much you were struggling even before I met Connor or we started going to Dr. Feeny and I wish I did. I would have done so many things differently.”
“You did everything right,” Matthew said.
“I couldn’t keep you,” Leon said sadly.
“You could still have me, if you want,” Matthew said.
“I can’t go back to the way that things were,” Leon said.
“I know,” Matthew agreed.
“You can’t punish me for not having your words on me,” Leon said, “That’s not fair to me.”
“I know,” Matthew said.
“And Connor and I are friends and that’s not changing,” Leon said.
“I wouldn’t ask you to not be friends with him,” Matthew said.
“I actually think both of you would get along really well if you met,” Leon said.
“Maybe we could all have dinner together some time,” Matthew said.
“I’d like that,” Leon said, “and I know that Connor and Emily would too.”
“You know, it took me about two weeks to realize I’d made a horrible mistake. Dr. Feeny was so fucking disappointed in me and so were Brady and Taryn even though they never said it and I just wanted you back. I drove past here so many times thinking about coming to see you and beg for you to take me back,” Matthew said.
“Why didn’t you?” Leon asked.
“I didn’t think I deserved it,” Matthew said, “Not after throwing away a four-year relationship because I was insecure and jealous.”
“You deserve to be happy, Matty,” Leon said, “and you deserve a second chance we both do. But things have to be different, we have to keep seeing Dr. Feeny and you have to promise me that you’ll tell me if things are starting to get bad again.”
Matthew visibly relaxed and pulled Leon close to him, wrapping his arms around Leon’s neck and pressing their bodies flush against each other, “Thank you, I promise.”
“Do you remember when we first started dating you told me about Plato’s idea of soulmates? That humans had two heads, four arms and legs, and then were split, having to spend the rest of their lives searching for their missing halves?”
“I remember it,” Matthew said.
“All I could think about was how and I had found my missing half in you and lost it,” Leon said, “I don’t care about my words, I don’t really even care about soulmates, but I know that if soulmates are real you’re the closest thing I’ll ever have to one.”
Matthew’s eyes had become watery and glistened in the dim lighting.
“I think Plato would be pretty proud of us,” Leon said.
“We found each other and then we lost each other,” Matthew said.
“Yeah, but then we found each other again and you forgot why people were split in the first place because they were too powerful together. I think we’re the strongest we’ve ever been.”