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          “I see one fucking mushroom in those steamed vegetables, I’m going to fucking come down there and cram it down your fucking throat.”

          Adam came into the apartment and smiled at Nigel, who winked as he threatened the person taking his order. One of the concessions Adam made as Nigel moved his things back into the apartment was Nigel Fridays. Nigel could order carryout from one of the places he liked and Adam had to pick something on the menu and at least try it. Adam agreed Friday was a good choice for this day, since he didn’t have to go to work the next day if he felt gastrointestinal distress. Their first week, Nigel had ordered from a fancy burger place a few blocks over and Adam had eaten most of his grilled cheese and fries. This week, Nigel said it was time for adventure and had chosen a Thai place. Adam had selected Kai yat sai muu and steamed vegetables – without mushrooms.

          It was all part of the new routine that he and Nigel had worked out over two weeks. First, Adam held a comprehensive cleaning workshop, showing Nigel how to prevent messes and clean the ones that couldn’t be avoided. Nigel huffed and complained through the lesson, but diligently followed Adam’s guidelines. In return, Adam had relaxed his no food in the living room policy, allowing chips, popcorn, and pretzels.

          Nigel had asked Adam to try changing his routine once a week. The idea made Adam nervous, but Nigel had helped him choose a time period that wouldn’t be too disrupting to his schedule. On Saturdays, from 1pm to 4pm, Adam and Nigel were spontaneous. Last week, Nigel had taken Adam to the park to sit and read in the sunshine. It was a good day until Nigel had run into an ex and started shouting.

          Adam had bought noise cancelling headphones that plugged into the keyboard, so Nigel could work on his music whenever he wanted. Adam liked to watch Nigel work, the older man’s lip curled as he tapped the keyboard in different ways until he found something that made him smile. When he smiled, it meant there was something to write down and Nigel would scribble a few notes onto his sheet music. He had gotten another jingle commission, Adam knew, but most nights he worked on his song. It was an odd lilting melody with an erratic rhythm. Adam had listened to it several times; there was something so familiar about the tune.

          “What are you doing in here?” Adam turned to find Nigel leaning against the kitchen doorjamb.

          “I’m making some macaroni and cheese in case I don’t like your Thai food.”

          Nigel rolled his eyes.

          “Ye of little fucking faith.” Nigel flopped in a chair and watched as Adam moved around the kitchen. “So…how was your day, dear?”

          “Frustrating,” Adam tossed the frozen mac n cheese into the microwave and tapped the buttons. “I still can’t get the perfect response function I was hoping for.”

          “You try that defrag thing you were talking about?”

          “Yes, I defragmented the hard drive, but it didn’t offer any more clarity.” Adam sat next to Nigel, his fingers began to drum on the table. “I might have to settle for 80% response accuracy.”

          Nigel laid his hand on Adam’s shoulder, gripping gently before letting his fingers trail down Adam’s spine. Adam didn’t flinch at the touch, instead letting out a deep breath and slowing the tapping of his fingers. “You’ll fucking figure it out; you were only at 65% last time.”

          Adam frowned when he felt Nigel’s hand leave him. “How was your day? Did you sell many drugs?”

          Nigel smirked, the expression drawing a little mirroring smile from Adam. “Yeah, I did. Went to resupply my guys at NYU. They’re pretentious little fucks, but they make a mint selling weed and Adderall to those little art school shits.”

          “I’m glad you had a productive day,” Adam rose to retrieve his alternate dinner and sit it on the counter to cool.

          “I try,” Nigel said. “Hey, we going to the park tonight?”

          Adam shook his head. “Too much cloud coverage. We could watch a documentary? Maybe study some more for the interview?”

          “Sure,” Adam turned, Nigel’s tone sounded off, his voice tight and higher than normal. The older man was rubbing the back of his neck and looked flushed. “I’ll be right back.”

          Nigel sprung from his seat and ran for the living room. Adam could hear muffled cursing and shuffling as he dug through a bag. When he returned, Nigel held out a large box. “Here.”

          Adam took the box, peering at the large picture of the Discovery on the front. “You bought me a new model.”

          “Now you can get rid of that fucked one in the living room.”

          Adam carefully opened the box, it was the same exact model. Nigel must have written down the model number to make sure of it. He smiled, gently extracting the shuttle from the Styrofoam pads. He flew the shuttle between him and Nigel, his heart skipping when the older man laughed. “I’ll keep both. Thank you very much for the present.”

          Adam walked into the living room, placing the display stand next to the other Discovery model. He fussed with their placement for a few moments, moving a few other knickknacks until everything was centered. Adam felt warmth up his back and knew Nigel was standing behind him.

          “Why do you want to keep this thing?” Nigel tapped at the large paint chip and crack in the older model. “It’s fucking broken.”

          “It makes me think of the night I threw it.” Adam said as he studied the spider web of cracks that radiated from the central fracture point.

          “Why the fuck do you want to remember that night?” Adam could feel Nigel’s breath on his ear and neck. He was getting used to the scent of nicotine and coffee.

          “When I saw that you fixed it, I knew you did it to make me feel better.” Adam turned; Nigel was only a few inches away. He glanced at Nigel’s lips, but reminded himself that just because he felt an impulse didn’t mean Nigel felt it. “It makes me happy to think about that.”

          Nigel’s face contorted, his lips curling and pursing as his eyes shifted over Adam’s face. Adam didn’t know what the expression meant. A loud knock on the door distracted him from asking Nigel, who ran to pay for their food.

          After dinner, Nigel hummed absently as Adam scrubbed the dishes. Adam found himself scrubbing in time to the melody.


          “OK,” Nigel said, flopping onto the couch next to Adam. He opened his beer, taking a long pull before carefully sitting it on a coaster. “What’s next on the Newlywed Game?”

          “What?” Adam adjusted the coaster, just to watch Nigel roll his eyes and adjust it back.

          “The fucking questions, Adam,” Nigel leaned back on the cushions. “What’s next?”

          “We should probably discuss physical characteristics.” Adam said tilting his head thoughtfully. “It would seem odd if we didn’t know each other’s bodies.”

          Nigel leaned forward, eyebrow raised. “What did you have in mind?”

          “Well,” Adam’s mouth formed a little moue. “Let’s start with scars.”

          “Scars?” Nigel frowned.  

          “You have a big scar on your side and one on your nose.” Adam tugged at his sleeve. “Do you have any more?”

          “Those are the big ones,” Nigel said, pausing to swallow more beer. “One’s from a little shit with a knife, the other’s from my bitch ex-wife.”


          “Gabi, yeah,” Nigel ran his hand over his head, ruffling his hair. Adam smiled. He smiled a lot when he talked to Nigel. “Fucking crazy bitch cold cocked me and fucked up my nose.”

          Adam reached out, touching the little trench of skin that stretched over the bridge of Nigel’s nose. Nigel went cross-eyed following the movement. “Why?”

          “What do you mean, why?”

          Adam tapped his finger on the scar. “She must have had a reason.”

          “She was a cheating bitch.” Nigel snarled, snapping his teeth at Adam’s hand. The younger man huffed out a laugh, dropping his finger.

          “Are you sure that was the reason?”

          Nigel’s mouth curled into a smirk. “I might have innocently had my hand down the pants of another woman.”

          “So, you’re both cheaters.”

          “It was dark,” Nigel tilted his head and lifted his chin. Adam wondered if Nigel knew he did that when he lied. “I... thought it was Gabi.”

          “You should only make sexual advances in well-lit areas with informed consent.” Adam paused, then raised his eyes to Nigel’s. “And you shouldn’t lie to your spouse.”

          “Good to fucking know.” Nigel leaned forward cocking his head. “Would you break my nose if I cheated?”

          “You already have.” Adam said matter-of-factly. “We’ve both engaged in sexual intercourse with other partners while married, so technically we’ve both been unfaithful.”

          “Really?” Nigel smiled. “Who’d you fuck?”


          “OH SHIT!” Nigel sat up with wide eyes. He poked at Adam’s middle, smiling when the younger man didn’t flinch. “Beth from the building, Beth? What was she like?”

          “You’ve met her.” Adam furrowed his brow. He could see Nigel was excited, but why was still a mystery. Beth had stopped by to ask Adam to fix her entertainment system and Nigel had answered the door naked and told her to fuck off and come back after nine in the morning if she wanted any favors. “You know what she’s like.”

          “In bed, Adam!” Nigel rolled his eyes. After a beat, Nigel’s toothy crooked smile emerged, the one Adam associated with teasing. Adam liked that smile best. “I bet she’s uptight. Probably not into any of the fun stuff.”

          “It was a perfectly serviceable evening. We both had orgasms.”

          “But was it fun?”

          “Having an orgasm is fun, Nigel.” Adam rolled his eyes.

          “Having a dirty one is better, gorgeous.” Nigel waggled his brows. Adam shook his head, mouth twisted into a little smile. Nigel leaned forward, his hand near Adam’s cheek. He rerouted it suddenly and grabbed his beer off the coaster, taking another long pull. “OK, fuck Beth, and fuck Gabi, back to our questions. Any scars on that creamy skin of yours?”

          “Three.” Adam pulled up his shirt and twisted so Nigel could see his back. “That was from Billy Angelo. He pushed me down the stairs and called me retard.”

          “Fucking bastard,” Nigel grumbled.

          Adam released his shirt and pointed to the hairline scar running through his left eyebrow. “This, I did to myself the first time I smashed a mirror when I got upset.”

          Nigel touched Adam’s brow, his fingers cold from the beer. Nigel’s eyes looked soft, but Adam didn’t understand what that meant. He didn’t feel the need to pull away, though. When their eyes met, Nigel dropped his hand, shaking his head a little.

          “And the last one?”

          Adam shrugged. “I have scar tissue on my penis from my circumcision. Though that’s fairly common, I think.”

          Nigel smiled, eyes sharpening. “Shouldn’t you show me that one too?”

          Adam frowned for a moment, then laughed. “You’re teasing me.”

          “Not as much as you’d think.” Nigel settled back on the sofa and took a long pull from his beer. He was careful to set the drink back on the coaster.

          “I’m uncut by the way…” Nige smirked and raised an eyebrow. “And big.”

          “Yes, I know,” Adam nodded, face impassive. “I’ve seen you naked.”

          Nigel’s mouth opened, then he snapped it closed. After a moment, he rubbed his hand over his eyes. “Fuck me. OK, so any other physical things?”

          “Tattoos, piercings, body modifications.”

          “No piercings, though I did have a nipple ring for a couple years in my 20s.” Nigel scratched absently at his chest. Adam felt warm, watching Nigel’s fingers intently. “Tattoos. Hmmm, I have-”

          “Four.” Adam offered. “A girl on your neck, a tiger with Romanian words on your bicep, a phrase on your left index finger, and Gabi’s name on your hip.”

          Nigel cocked his head. “Taking notes, were you?”

          “You’re naked every morning when I make breakfast.” Adam said. His fingers tapped on his thighs. “You have a nice penis and an attractive shape.”

          “Thanks, darling.” Nigel winked. He brought his beer to his lips and paused. “What about you, gorgeous? Any ink?”

          “Yes,” Adam said, his eyes flicking up. “I have a tattoo of the eagle nebula on the left buttocks cheek.”

          Nigel choked on his beer. As he sputtered, trying to keep the mess from the sofa, he caught the smile curling Adam’s mouth. “Is that a fucking joke?”

          Adam grinned.

          “Well,” Nigel drawled, sitting his beer on the coaster. “Now you have to drop trou so I can fucking check.”

          “What?” Adam looked up with wide eyes. “No!”

          “I have to know these things, for the interview!” Nigel laughed, wiggling his fingers as he slowly reached for Adam’s belt. Adam huffed, grabbing a pillow and hitting Nigel in the head.

          “Oh, is that how it’s going to be?” Nigel laughed, fending off the pillow.

          “Yes.” Adam found himself laughing back, swatting at Nigel before launching himself off the sofa. He took off, hoping Nigel would follow him, not quite ready for the game to end.

          Nigel was on his heels in a heartbeat, laughing wildly as he chased Adam around the apartment.


          Adam fumbled with the box and his keys, wondering how he had ruined his whole life.


          It had taken him so long to find a job and he had tried so hard, but in the end, it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that his motherboard and programming was better than his coworkers. It didn’t matter that his standards were higher. It didn’t even matter that he needed the job. His boss had told him productivity was better than perfection and kept touching him, each press of his clammy hand like a slap.

          Adam had felt the anxiety in his chest. The hissing voice in his head telling him nothing would be OK. He had pushed at the cold claws in his chest, trying to keep his panic down and in control as he methodically packed his things. He didn’t remember the trip home, just that the noises and smells of the city made his head ache and his breathing shallow. He had stumbled through the lobby, feeling the iron grip on his throat, making his breathing thread. He tried tapping on the box, but the noise and the rhythm felt wrong.

          When he finally got into his apartment, he thought the feelings of safety would come, but the air was still too thin and his temples throbbed. Adam wanted Nigel, but he also dreaded telling him about this failure. He thought of Nigel working on his music and drew his first full breath. He let the box slip from his fingers, not turning when there was a shattering noise from its depths. He walked in stilted steps to his mirror and let himself calm down as he studied his reflection.

          Adam looked at the man staring at him. He looked so ordinary. Just like everyone else. But he wasn’t. He was awkward and people didn’t like him and he never understood why. He was stupid. Stupid Adam. Stupid Adam with the poorly wired brain.

          The mirror cracked when Adam slammed his head into it, making his reflection fracture and distort. The tightness returned to his chest. Adam couldn’t seem to draw enough air. He sank to the floor, gasping sightlessly as he felt blood trickle down his brow.

          “ADAM!” Nigel was on top of him, his big hands cupping Adam’s face and running down his chest.

          Nigel would know. Nigel would know and Nigel would hate him.

          Adam flailed, trying to get Nigel away. It felt like Nigel was crushing him. It felt like the air was crushing him. He needed to breathe.

          Nigel moved, dodging Adam’s hands and turning him until Adam’s back was pressed firmly to his chest.

          “Come on, darling, deep breaths. Deep fucking breaths with me now,” Nigel cooed, breath tickling Adam’s ear.

          “I-I-I-” The words were lodged somewhere in Adam’s throat. His tongue felt thick and heavy in his mouth. He was drowning on air.

          “Later, Adam. You can tell me later, right now we fucking breathe.” Nigel began to hum, Adam recognized the melody. Air started to trickle down his throat, little puffs at first and then lungfuls. When his shaking had lessened to tremors and his stiff limbs had fallen limp in Nigel’s arms, Adam felt himself being lifted.

          Still humming, Nigel carried Adam down the hall and to his bedroom. Adam had thought about this scenario a few times in the shower, but he would have to explain to Nigel that he couldn’t get an erection when he was still in the tail end of a panic attack. He opened his mouth to do so, but snapped it closed when Nigel gently placed him on the floor instead of on the bed.


          Nigel smiled at Adam and went to his closet, retrieving the small projector Adam had shown him last week. He carefully aligned the mark on the projector with the mark on Adam’s ceiling and flipped it on. Adam was bathed in the universe, and took his first steady breath. He watched Nigel walk toward the bathroom to pick up some damp tissues, then back to him, covered in stars and grinning.

          “I can’t do your star speech the way you would, but you probably don’t need me to, huh, gorgeous?” Nigel settled back down behind Adam, drawing the younger man to his chest and humming again.

          Adam watched the expansion and felt calm as Nigel dabbed the tissues at the smear of blood on his head. “I was fired today.”

          Nigel stopped humming. “Good. Those fuckers didn’t deserve you anyway. We’ll have to find you a better job.”

          “I’m not easy to employ. I’m terrible at interviews. I can panic. Environmental problems in a potential employer’s office can set me off. People find me odd. And I-”



          “Watch the fucking stars.”

          “O-OK.” Adam leaned his head against Nigel’s shoulder. The last thing he heard before sleep took him was Nigel’s humming.


          Adam woke up and frowned at the clock. It was nearly seven; he should be having dinner. He didn’t remember climbing in bed, so Nigel must have laid him on the mattress and covered him up.

          He rubbed at his eyes, listening for Nigel. He heard paper shifting and the odd clack of keyboard keys. It made him smile.

          Shuffling into the room, he watched Nigel working on his music. Eyes closed and noise cancelling headphones secured on his ears, the older man danced his hands over the keys, snarling at a sound. His fingers made a small adjustment, then Nigel smiled. Grabbing his sheet music, Nigel scribbled something, humming the whole time.

          When Adam was close enough he looped his finger around the headphone chord, pulling it free from its dock. He flinched when the notes from the keyboard rang loud in the room. Nigel’s eyes popped open. He smiled at Adam, knocking the headphones off his ears and around his neck.

          “I fucking knew you’d wake up for dinner! Mac n cheese or chicken, gorgeous?”

          Adam sat on the floor next to the keyboard. “Mac n cheese, but I want to hear what you’re working on, first.”

          “Jingles or the song?”

          “The jingles are nonsensical,” Adam dismissed. He heard Nigel huff in amusement. “I want to hear the song.”

          Nigel played. Adam watched him with a small smile. The girl on Nigel’s neck seemed to dance to the music. Adam focused on the music. It always sounded so familiar; there was something about the progression from arrhythmic tapping to bold sweeping melodies that made him feel warm. Changing chords and rapid notes typically made him nervous, but he found comfort in the music Nigel played.

          When Nigel finished, he nudged Adam with his foot. “Well?”

          “You added more chords.”

          “I did. What do you think?”

          “I like it and the rhythm changes, it’s interesting.”

          Nigel smiled down at Adam, offering him a hand. “Come on, gorgeous, off the floor. You’re 15 fucking minutes late for dinner, I don’t know how you’ve survived.”

          “I can be a few minutes late,” Adam said, letting Nigel pull him up.

          Nigel raised an eyebrow, smirking when Adam laughed.


          “You were born in ’77 right?” Nigel asked as he looked up from where he pecked out letters on his laptop.

          “No! Nigel I was born in-” Adam leaned over him to look at the screen, only to find a 1975 written in the application. “You’re teasing me!”

          “Someone has to,” Nigel said with a wink. Adam huffed but sat down next to Nigel, opening his laptop. “Come on, Adam, I’m not going to fuck up your application to fancy fucking science company.”

          “It’s called Virgin Gallactic.”

          Nigel snorted. “Sounds like a porn.”

          “Not one I’d like,” Adam said as he opened up the SpaceX application he had been working on and resumed typing. He could feel Nigel’s eyes on him.

          “I’m going to need more on that fascinating fucking tidbit.”

          “I don’t like pornography that features virgins; it’s always clearly a lie. I don’t like lying,” Adam said as he typed. “Also, pornography set in space has a shocking number of factual errors.”

          Nigel cocked his head, eyes smiling. “You’re the weirdest person I’ve ever married.”

          “You’re the weirdest person I’ve ever married as well.”

          Nigel’s mouth curled into a grin. “Still, this is better than it was with Gabi.”

          “Well, she was a cheating bitch,” Adam looked up just in time to watch Nigel’s mouth fall open. He laughed when Nigel started to hoot, loud wheezing noises that sent tears streaming down his sharp cheeks as he slapped his knee. Adam loved getting that sound from Nigel.

          “You, Adam fucking Raki, are a goddamn menace.” Nigel wiped his eyes and started typing again, squinting at the screen. “You want to go over our marriage again?”

          “We met when I was walking home from work,” Adam’s voice hitched just a little as he mentioned his former job, Nigel offered him a nudge with his foot and a small smile. “I-in the spring. You called me gorgeous and asked me out. I couldn’t resist you-”

          “No one can.”

          “And I don’t mind your ego or your annoying humming or your smoking.”

          “You’re a goddamn saint.” Nigel snorted. “Ok, genius, what’s my story?”

          “You were born in 1965 in the Livezilor section of Bucharest. Your mother taught you how to play the piano, but died of a drug overdose in 1977. You were remanded to an orphanage where you met Mr. Dalca, who you call Darko. You two sold…newspapers.”

          Nigel laughed. “People loved snorting our newspapers.”

          Adam frowned. “We need to come up with a better business for you both. Maybe you were stock boys?”

          “Sure, gorgeous.” Nigel handed Adam his laptop. “Think I’m done filling out that form. Check it for me and I’ll start working on Interorbital Systems.”

          “OK, then maybe we can go to lunch?”

          “Sure, Tony’s?”

          “Yes. I like Tony’s.” Adam scanned the page. “You’re very good at filling out forms, Nigel.”

          Nigel shrugged. “I know the subject.”


          Adam washed his hair in nervous movements. He had heard back from four companies. Four interviews. Four. He could feel his chest tightening as he thought about being examined by four strangers. Four strangers who would find him odd, off-putting. Four strangers who would ask him questions and who wouldn’t care if their sniffling or the scent of their cologne made him uncomfortable.

          He took a shuddering breath when the bathroom door banged open, making him gasp.

          “Hey gorgeous, you want me to-”

          “Nigel!” Adam yelled at the vague shape in his shower curtain. “I’m naked.”

          Adam could see Nigel’s shoulders shake and knew he was laughing. It made him smile. He liked making Nigel laugh. “I fucking hope so, Adam. If you’re wearing your clothes you’ll fucking ruin those ugly sweaters you like so much.”

          Adam huffed. “I meant that it was inappropriate for-”

          “A husband to see his better half naked?”

          Adam frowned, worrying his lip for a moment. It was true, he and Nigel were married. And he had certainly seen Nigel naked enough. “I suppose it’s alright. What were you going to ask?”

          “Should I start dinner?” They had gotten back from the Hayden Planetarium late, but Adam had wanted a shower after a sticky child had mistakenly grabbed his hand. He had been worried about the schedule, but Nigel assured him a quick shower wouldn’t hurt things.

          “Yes, please.” Adam leaned into the spray of the shower, washing the suds from his hair. His breathing was deep and easy, until he felt cold air on his backside. He turned to find Nigel, poking his head in the shower. He looked at Adam with a broad grin.

          “Just checking for that nebula tattoo.” His smile grew crooked. “I’m a little disappointed it’s not there, if I’m honest.”

          Nigel winked, laughing when Adam flicked shampoo suds in his face.


          “Yes, hello Mr. Raki, have a seat and we’ll start the interview.” Nigel gestured to the sofa before sitting back at his keyboard, which had been relocated to the center of the living room to serve as a desk.

          “This is silly,” Adam huffed before squinting at Nigel. “And where did you get those glasses?”

          “They’re Darko’s,” Nigel said, pushing them up his nose. “And they’re giving me a fucking headache, so sit down and let’s practice for this fucking interview, shall we?”

          “We should be practicing for our interview with Mr. Price.” Adam tugged at the end of his sleeve.

          “We’ve got time for that,” Nigel said, stepping around the keyboard and gently pushing Adam onto the sofa. “Your job interviews are first, gorgeous. And you’re going to be fucking prepared.”

          “Alright,” Adam said with a small frown. “But then we have to go over my teen years again, you’re still shaky on my first sexual encounters and when I first learned about atomic theory.”

          Nigel smiled. “Fine, but for now I’m Mr. fucking Belea and you’re going to be a good little candidate and sell your best qualities.”

          “O-ok Mr. Belea.” Adam straightened up in his seat, practicing the chest out, head up position that Nigel had told him looked confident. It made his back hurt.

          Nigel sat down behind his keyboard. He pushed the glasses up again and shuffled sheet papers in his hands. “Now, Mr. Raki, what makes you a good fit for this company?”


          Darko cracked open a beer and sat it on the table. He raised an eyebrow when Nigel immediately picked it up, running his hand over the droplets of moisture that had formed and placing a coaster underneath.

          “What?” Nigel glared at his best friend.

          “Not a fucking thing, Martha Stewart,” Darko said with a smirk. “Should I have left my shoes by the door?”

          “No. Adam doesn’t like the idea of-” Nigel snapped his mouth shut and punched Darko in the shoulder. “FUCK YOU.”

          “I don’t think I’m who you want to fuck,” Darko grinned when Nigel flipped him off and sank into the sofa with a grunt. “Christ, man, is this a real fucking marriage now?”

          Nigel looked up and for a moment, Darko’s smile faltered. “Fuck, Nigel.”

          “It’s fucking fine.” Nigel took a long pull of his beer, keeping his eyes down. He reached into the pocket of his hoodie. “Here are your fucking glasses, thanks.”

           “Sure, fucker.” Darko kicked Nigel’s shin softly. “You sure it’s fine?”

          Nigel rubbed a hand over his face. “I’m fucking doing laundry and I know the proper way to vacuum an area rug.”

          Darko nodded sympathetically. “Bev taught me how to properly invest for retirement and has me buying organic.”

          Nigel hmm-ed. “Adam wanted me to invite you for dinner. If that goes well, he’d like to invite you and Bev. It’s better if we do new people one at a time, he’s more comfortable.”

          Darko laughed, propping his feet up. “Aren’t we getting fucking domestic?”

          “Get your fucking feet off my coffee table, nenorocitule.”


          “And Nigel said that I shouldn’t correct an interviewer, even if he was wrong. I told him that’s what you told me to. He said you were a smart guy. So then Nigel asked me if we should have dinner with you. I told him I thought that would be a good idea. But we’re already having dinner with Darko this week so you’ll have to wait until next-”



          “This thing with Nigel? It’s…uh…still fake, right?”

          “He’s a real person, Harlan. I married him.”

          “The marriage, son. You’re still planning on divorcing him in a few years?”

          “If he wants to get a divorce, we can. Maybe we could still be roommates.” Adam frowned, studying his sandwich. “I’m going to tell him he can have Dad’s room. It’s not being used and I think I’d like him to stay. His things wouldn’t be in the way, then. Except for his keyboard. I think his keyboard should stay in the living room, so I can watch him compose sometimes.”

          Harlan hesitated, then patted Adam’s shoulder, drawing the younger man’s eyes. “Are you in love with this man?”

          “I-I like him very much. He’s my friend. He helps me and he understands when I get upset.” Adam looked up. “I think I’d like to have sex with him, but I know that just because I feel something doesn’t mean someone else does.”

          “Adam, I think you should talk to him.”

          “I talk to him all the time.”

          “About your feelings.”

          “Do you think he’ll stay if I tell him about my sexual desires?” Adam started tapping on his thigh.

          “I think you deserve to find out.”

          Adam nodded, his eyes on the pavement and fingers still tapping. After a few minutes of silence, Harlan snorted.


          “You’re humming,” Harlan said with a scrunched brow. “You hate humming.”

          “No, I don’t.” Adam said with a small frown. He took a bite of his sandwich. “It’s soothing.”

          Harlan nodded, and went back to watching over Adam in silence.