“Mitch-” Avi started, but when Mitch heard his name, all of the sorrow and anger descended upon him again with the force of a typhoon.
“You’re a fucking asshole,” he spat with a mouth full of venom. “You have a girlfriend, Avi.”
“I don’t, actually,” Avi responded matter-of-factly, and that information caught Mitch off guard. His instinct was to ask what happened and when, but the fury raged too hard for him to be compassionate. Then, Avi continued. “I broke up with Charlie in December, when I went home for Christmas.”
“Well I’m not…I’m not an experiment! I’m not a tool for you to satiate your curiosity,” he yelled, unable to keep his emotions on a tether. “Find some other guy to get that out of your system with, not me.”
“You’re not,” Avi’s voice shrank. “I-I’ve known that about myself for years, but I’ve never been in a place before where I could open up about it.”
Fuck, he wasn’t making this easy.
“I’m not a rebound,” Mitch continued to lambaste, fighting for his life as the magma that flowed out of him quickly lost steam, and his empathy started to override. “I don’t wanna be that. I deserve to be more than just a way to pass the time before something better comes along.”
A few seconds went by, and the silence was so heavy that Mitch couldn’t tell if he’d been hung up on. When Avi spoke again, his voice creaked in the way that brittle wood does before splintering apart. “Do you really think that I think so little of you that I’d…” He trailed off and went quiet. “Mitch, after the last few months, you’re maybe the most important person in my life.” The blood ran from Mitch’s face and he went speechless, not knowing how to respond to something that he’d never been told before. “Please,” Avi quietly begged. “I can explain everything, let’s do this face-to-face.”
Fully disarmed now, Mitch allowed for it. He didn’t bother to get dressed, wrapping the blanket around his shoulders like a cloak and to make the long trek to the door. When he threw it open, Avi stood next to his car. One of the floodlamps above illuminated his face, casting unflattering harsh shadows and highlighting fine lines. His glasses were slightly fogged, but even through that, Mitch could see that his eyes were wet. He’d been crying.
Mitch stood aside and so that he could enter the room, then shut the door and returned to the edge of the mattress while Avi removed his coat and shoes; in Mitch’s opinion, that was awfully bold of him. But Avi also remained standing, which he appreciated.
“You didn’t tell me any of this?” Immediately, Mitch became defensive once more, the hackles now back up. “Why? Why would you think it was OK to do…any of that without even asking me?”
“Do you want the abridged or unabridged versions?” Avi asked.
“Unabridged.” Mitch folded his arms across his chest, and Avi sighed heavily. “Everything. Literally everything.”
Avi ran a hand down his face, then nodded. “Fine. Alright. But I’m sitting down for this.”