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                I had always known Carlos as a devious man. Not necessarily as an act of rebellion, no, but devious in purely sociological terms. In the first six months of his citizenship – even, perhaps, his first year living here – his law breaking and outlandish thinking could easily be brushed away as mere… blunders, erroneous norms still dangling off the heels of his finely pressed khakis. What more could you expect from an outsider? Not much.

                However, there were things I never thought I could expect from my dear Carlos, the scientist. My first disillusionment came the morning of our trimoonly, government-sanctioned anniversary. I’d entered the room in exuberance, excited to show him our permit to celebrate the arbitrary holiday, when I saw him just standing there, buttering a slice of paraphernalia as if he hadn’t a care in the world. I resisted my shock, momentarily at least, and frantically scanned the windows for secret police or observant citizens. Then, drawing the curtains, I spun around to interrogate my lover. “Dearest Carlos… what have you there? And why?”

                “Hm?” he said. “Hm? It’s just toast, Cecil.” He drew his knife across the surface with all the smoothness of a career criminal. I felt my knees grow weak, though at the time, I wasn’t sure why.

                “I am very sure you are aware of the government prohibition of wheat and wheat byproducts!” I huff, losing my breath for only a moment. “Where did you buy that? Was the dealer wired? Have any putrid smells or glowing runestones appeared anywhere on your person?”

                He looked at me as if I was being overly worrisome, and, as his sweet gaze tends to do to me, I almost fell for it. As much as I loved my dear Carlos, I couldn’t condone such… such delinquency in this fine city. “Oh, I just drove to the next town over. It’s actually a bit cheaper there than it was here.”

                I shook, though not with fear – yet, not with any emotion I could grasp at the time either. Carlos glanced at his watch and lurched forward as one does when he is suddenly late, kissing me hastily goodbye before strolling out of our home. It was only when I’d collapsed on the kitchen floor, fighting the urge to lick the crumbs from my lips did I realize that what I was feeling – this… heat – was pure lust.

                The emotion was fleeting, as all things are, and quickly died. I went about my business – he and I both went about our business – and the toast was never mentioned again. It was only when I saw Carlos flipping through one of his outsider news reports (ah, he did like to keep up with the times, even outside of our precious little city) that I noticed a new peculiar characteristic. I began to notice he’d been particularly invested in a front page article regarding a group of scientists conducting research upon something called Everest. “What’s that, my darling?” I inquired.

                “Oh!” he chirped. He turned the page for me to see, and I bent down to look closer. “These people believe they’ve found a new type of bacteria living on top of Mount Everest. Isn’t that interesting?”

                I hated to be rude, but a scoff escaped my lips. “Yes, Carlos, and I found unicorns in the bathroom this morning.”

                “Mountains are a thing, you know,” he replied with a good humored sigh. He was barely afflicted by our differing beliefs – I loved him so much for that, even if he was very, very wrong. “Actually, I could drive you—“

                He stopped as soon as he noticed me leaning heavily against the side of the couch. The feeling – the heat – had come to flood me once again. Fantastical imaginings passed through my head of my dearest Carlos wearing a suit of armor and inviting me atop the back of his trusty unicorn steed, riding me into the sunset until we reached the peak of the highest mountain where he would lay me down and—

                Carlos’s concerned words broke me from my reverie. “Huh? Oh, yes, I’m fine. I was merely… distracted!” I grinned as casually as I could, teeth bared and everything, and he did not pry. He merely smiled back and took everything – myself included – in stride; I felt him caress my cheek.

                “It’s getting late. We should head to bed,” he suggested, and I heartily agreed. My passions, unlike the first time, fell less fleeting from me that night. I regretted nothing.

                I only truly lost myself on the final trial of my strength. I was visiting Carlos’s laboratory on a cool Thursday afternoon, wrapped comfortably in my salt-laced parka to keep out the cold that regularly swathed the building. Carlos and his teammates barely seem affected by the chill – then again, they came from much cooler climates than I. Regardless, I was happy to see my Carlos at work.

                Things weren’t unusual at first. A few of the methods and tools used by my dearest and his coworkers were a little unorthodox for my tastes, but hardly illegal. Even that twisty… tubey… thing failed to violate any laws, and I checked. Distracted, the true contraband went right under my nose until something erupted and all patrons of science scattered to write their “findings” down. Write. I stood in horror; I felt locked in a meth lab of sin. I began to notice them; five over here, ten over there. One had a pencil laced in her hair. Another had a pocket full of them. I wanted to be sick. What if the secret police caught wind of this rampant criminal activity? What if they took my sweet, sweet Carlos away? Ah, but speak of the devil, I turned and there he was. I raised my arms weakly in a gesture that implored, begged for an explanation for this crime, as to why he would break so many concrete laws just for the sake of discovery? Was this what science was, a slum ring of defiance?

                But he merely looked at me, those beautiful eyes warming me with comfort and questioning my worrisome demeanor. He had a clipboard in his arm and a pen in his hand, the rough, chewed end of it grazing his perfect lips just like those sinful breadcrumbs had grazed mine. I fell to my knees – I couldn’t help it. “Take me home, now,” I could only beg, and beg, and beg until he finally indulged me. And once we were there… well. I mustn’t get loquacious. I leave you with this, though, my friends: be wary of your friends and loved ones. Bad habits are only easily avoided when those around you don’t make them very, very tempting.