Neil hears Andrew in the kitchen of their Detroit apartment, apparently trying to navigate the cabinet of pots and pans. A loud crash comes just seconds before a hissed, “Shit.” Neil smiles and laughs quietly to himself, returning his attention to the Exy notes he’s working on.
“Shut up,” is thrown harshly from Andrew’s general direction.
Okay. Well, he thought he had laughed quietly.
Neil ignores him and watches King as he jumps up onto the couch beside him. He reaches out to scratch along his spine as Andrew comes around the corner to glare at them both, giant wooden spoon in hand. Neil wonders how much damage Andrew could do with that particular kitchen tool. He has been known to be quite creative.
“Are you going to help, or are you going to continue being useless?”
Neil smirks at him. “Oh, do you need my help? I just assumed you had everything under control.”
Somehow, the glare intensifies. Having thought this feat to be impossible, Neil is pretty impressed.
Andrew turns on his heel to head back into the kitchen. “Get in here,” floats back over his shoulder, like he knows Neil will immediately follow. He’s right.
Neil releases a dramatic sigh as he tosses his notes onto the coffee table, navigating his way around cats and furniture to trail after Andrew. Once he enters the room, he sees that Andrew has hopped up onto the counter and is studiously ignoring him, turning the spoon over and over in his hands.
Neil stares at him until he finally looks up. Andrew simply points to the pile of vegetables on the counter beside him, then over to the cutting board on the drying rack.
“Really? I thought I was offering assistance, not to take over.”
“Like I’d let you take over anything,” Andrew replies, something dangerously close to amusement in his voice.
Neil rolls his eyes. “Fine,” he relents. “What’s your job then?”
Andrew gestures toward the stove with his wooden spoon. It’s a pot of jasmine rice that’s just been set to simmer. That’s it.
“That won’t need any attention for like twenty minutes!” Neil complains, but Andrew just shrugs and looks pointedly over at the cutting board again.
Neil casts his eyes to the ceiling and lets out his second dramatic sigh of the evening, resolving himself to chopping for the foreseeable future. As he turns away to pick out a knife, Andrew grabs his arm and pulls him back to the space between his legs, still dangling over the edge of the counter. Neil smiles and begins to lean closer. Just as Andrew’s mouth opens to ask his yes or no, they are interrupted by three quick knocks on their front door. Andrew raises a questioning eyebrow, and Neil answers with a shrug.
Neil reluctantly pulls away and starts toward the door, counting it as a victory that he kept his third dramatic sigh underwraps. He opens the door, and upon finding no one, sticks his head out into the hallway. His eyes catch on a large manila envelope leaning against wall. He stares. Picks it up. Turns around, and closes the door.
He stops just inside the living room, still staring at the object in his hands. Perfectly innocuous, not suspicious in the least. It shouldn’t fill him with fear and anticipation the way it does.
A second later, the envelope is gone. Neil looks up to see Andrew taking it into the kitchen, opening it along the way. He follows.
Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree besides the river of truth, and tell the whole world - ‘No, you move.’
The thing is, Robert and Aaron were never a fairytale romance. They weren’t at the start, or at the middle, and god knows they won’t be a fairytale when they reach their inevitable end.
It’s not always an easy thing to accept, that a couple you love, that has been made amazing and incredible and, well, fairytale-esque is something that is spoiled, or that can be spoiled.
Neither Robert nor Aaron are heroes in their fairytales. They’ve both messed up in some way at some time or another, and they will again. They will hurt each other and themselves and their families. They are not heroes of a fairytale.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t still be heroes. For me, heroes aren’t people who do no wrong, but people who overcome obstacles. Not all of you will agree with me, and that’s fine. I don’t expect you to. My own personal viewpoint is that Aaron and Robert’s relationship is real. They haven’t been living in a bubble this whole time, blind to the world and all of its hardships. They’ve suffered along the way, they’ve hurt each other along the way. And yet they still manage to come through. They still manage to overcome the obstacles, even though they’re sometimes up against unbelievable odds.
If you don’t have darkness, you can’t see the light. That is a cliche and one that doesn’t always ring true. But I hope in this case, for Robert and Aaron, it does. They were never a fairytale. They never purported to be. What they are, are two men trying to fumble and trip their way through the darkness, and help each other out of the other side, into the light.