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The New Guy

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Curio got home by sunrise, dragging his tired self uphill, sick of being on his feet. He could smell Orsino’s coffee even before opening the door, and it was one the best aromas in the world, so he forgot about going to bed for a second. When he entered the kitchen, however, both Orsino and Cesario stared at him so much, he was confused. “What?”

“Nothing,” Cesario said, going to the sink to wash his cup.

“Good morning to you, too,” Orsino said, going back to his coffee.

Curio shrugged. Orsino wasn’t going to shame him into being polite after a night shift. “It’s good night for me, actually.” He got himself some coffee, and left for his bedroom.

Were those two acting suspicious? Yes, but he was too tired to be bothered with that. And he would’ve probably let it be forgotten, if he hadn’t run into more of the same later.

Orsino got home around five, as usual, and joined Curio playing video games. Sometime later, Cesario got home. He said hello, and went straight to the kitchen, something they all did from time to time. The strange part was Orsino pausing the game and telling Curio: “I’ll be right back.” He wasn’t lying, he came back within seconds, but by that point Curio had already begun suspecting Orsino and Cesario had a secret.

He didn’t address his suspicion, though. He beat Orsino at the game twice before Cesario took his place. He never knew what to expect playing against him. Sometimes he would beat Cesario in twenty seconds, other times he lost even faster than that. And then there were those long, close fights, of which it was impossible to predict the outcome. All their matches were of the third kind at the moment, so Curio was kind of disappointed when Cesario didn’t want a fourth match.

He went to Orsino, who was making dinner in the kitchen. “Guess what? My brother will be here in a few weeks. I want to take him to the Elephant.” Curio wasn’t interested enough to eavesdrop on that conversation, so he just went through his phone for a while. He could hear Cesario playing his guitar, and singing for some time.

When he went to have some water, however, he entered the kitchen to find Orsino spoon feeding Cesario whatever he was cooking. He laughed at the scene, and the two of them turned to him, looking guilty, so he laughed even harder. “Now that I have to take a picture, I don’t have my phone with me!” he complained, still laughing at them. Orsino put down the spoon, and took another. “Now you try it,” he told Curio, offering him some.

Curio wasn’t about to let another man spoon feed him anything, so he took the spoon from him to try the food. It tasted great. So great, he wanted more, and Orsino had to yell at him not to use the same spoon again.

“You sound like my mom!” he complained, frustrated that he couldn’t find another clean spoon and had to wash the used one.

“Maybe that’s because we both have to deal with you?” Curio ignored the accusation, unlike Cesario, who chuckled at Orsino’s unfunny comment, when he wasn’t even high to excuse it. Suspicious behaviour.

He had some water and left them alone. Cesario went back to his singing. Curio went back to his phone. He laughed at some gifs Valentine sent him to describe how badly the meeting that kept him from going home was going. There was the standard drooling in his sleep guy, shaking prison bars guy, a few creepy smiles, each more disturbing than the other, and one that contrasted his ordinary looks to his chaotic thoughts. Curio didn’t know where he always found those funny things, but Valentine had a real talent for describing his mood in crazy gifs. He himself had no such talent, and sent him some laughing emojis, wondering where his friend got those cool the funny stuff he would always send him.

He ate with Orsino and Cesario, watched some music videos, and smoked some weed as dessert. That’s when Curio asked for their help to send funny stuff to Valentine. They were in the middle of doing that, when Cesario showed Orsino something on his phone, and said: “Look what Olivia sent me.”

At first, Curio didn’t understand why Cesario would chat with Orsino’s girlfriend, but then he remembered Cesario was her teacher, and figured that was why. He was ready to go back to thinking about actually important stuff, when those two started being weird again.

"That's funny," Orsino said, looking at Cesario's phone. "What about this one?"

"That's cute. Why didn't you send it to me?" Cesario fake-whined, playfully poking his finger at Orsino to annoy him. That by itself was a little weird, but not alarming. The confusing part was Orsino's reaction: he giggled, and grabbed Cesario's wrist to stop him, which made him use his other hand. Orsino stopped it as well. They stared at each other for a moment, and looked about to kiss. Curio was very weirded out by that, and felt like they had forgotten he was there. Maybe he should leave. Orsino let go of Cesario, but the two kept giggling at one another, and ignoring him.

"You guys are acting weird," he said, as he stood up to leave. “No, we’re not!” Cesario protested, just like someone who wasn’t acting suspicious would. Curio simply stared at him, waiting for him to realize on his own how guilty the denial actually sounded. Cesario looked away. But Orsino laughed. “Don’t we always act weird?”

Although he had a point, Curio was already convinced those two were hiding something. But he still wasn’t convinced it was worth finding out what. And if his friends had put more effort into keeping their secret from then on, Curio wouldn’t have had to think about whatever was happening around him. But of course Orsino and Cesario only became more obvious.

Curio wasn’t even trying to find out what was going on with them, but they sucked at hiding stuff. Which meant that a few days later, when he came home from work, right before sunrise, he saw some big evidence of what their secret was: Cesario was leaving Orsino’s bedroom.

Cesario didn't even notice him, standing in the living-room, too tired to decide between going straight to bed or taking a shower first. He just ran to the bathroom, so now Curio didn’t have to decide anything, he had to go to bed. In the afternoon, he woke up from an annoying dream in which he could never get out of work, and made some coffee. He was reminded of the morning events, as he got ready to hit the gym.

Had Cesario really been in Orsino’s bedroom? Maybe he had imagined things. Or maybe the two of them were sleeping together. And maybe there was a perfectly innocent explanation for what he’d seen. But whatever the case, it didn’t make much of a difference in Curio’s life. Unless he got to tease Orsino for it.

He revisited the subject when Valentine came home. “Give me your honest opinion. Say that two of your friends are secretly dating each other, you have the right to make fun of them for it, isn’t that so?”

“Who exactly are we talking about?” Valentine asked, immediately interested. “Guess,” Curio challenged him. He just shook his head. “I don’t know. Give me a hint.”

Curio was terrible at giving hints, so he already knew he was going to embarrass himself in the attempt, but it was either that, or giving away the answer: “They both live here.”

Valentine laughed. “You could’ve made it more difficult!” He laughed some more. “Orsino and Cesario?Really?” Curio confirmed it, and he laughed even harder for a while. “It all makes sense now.” He dried his tears. “How did you find out?”

Curio told him what he’d seen, and the weird way they were acting around each other. Valentine laughed a lot all the while. “Yeah, I think you and I are allowed to laugh.” He thought about something for a second, and added: “We should trick them into telling us.”

Curio liked the idea. “How do we do that?”

“Easy, ask one something he wouldn’t know about the other unless they’re together.” The idea was intriguing, but vague. “Like what?” he insisted.

Valentine rolled up his eyes, losing his patience. “Leave that to me.”

A few days later, early in the evening, on his way back from the gym, he saw Valentine and Orsino sitting by a table outside Snout’s bar. “We were waiting for you. Come have a beer with us,” Valentine said when he was passing by. So he accepted the invitation. When he was about to pull up a chair, his friend added: "As long as you're standing up, why don't you get us our next round?"

Curio shook his head. "Fine." When he came back, he noticed the ashtray on the table, which made him wonder: "How long have you guys been here?"

Valentine shrugged. "I don't know, we were waiting for you. How long have you been in the gym?"

Curio shook his head, he'd been at the gym for over two hours. Valentine and Orsino had to be drunker than they looked, if that was the case. "Cheers," he said, raising his glass, and they did the same.

When Orsino wasn’t looking, Valentine smiled at Curio in a way that said he should pay attention, because he was about to make fun of Orsino. Instead, he asked: “Guys, how do you stop snoring? My girlfriend keeps saying I snore.”

“I don’t know,” Curio said, failing to see what was funny about that. “I think you see a doctor,” Orsino said, also uninterested.

“See a doctor? Come on, it’s not that bad. My ex would snore sometimes, it’s no big deal.”

“That's because girls don’t snore as loud as guys,” Curio told him, accepting that was the conversation they were having.

“Is that true? What do you think, Orsino? Men snore louder?” He thought about it for a second. “I think so.” “Who is louder: you or Cesario?” Valentine asked him, and Curio finally saw what he was doing.

Orsino, however, didn’t see it. “He doesn’t snore,” he said, oblivious to what that knowledge implied.

Valentine looked at him, checking if Curio had heard the same, he gave him a nod, confirming it. His friend opened a smug grin that lasted just a second, and turned to Orsino again: “Cesario will be here soon, right? Let’s have another round while we wait.”

While Orsino went to the bar to get more beer, Valentine gave him a proud smile. “How does he know that Cesario doesn’t snore?” He scratched his chin, and made an exaggeratedly confused face that Curio laughed at.

“Play along,” he said, before Orsino came back.

When their friend returned with more beer, Valentine began: “Settle this for us, Orsino. Who’s your best friend, me or Curio?”

“Of course it’s me,” he said, playing along, even though he had no idea where Valentine was going with that.

“I’m sorry, but we go way back!” Valentine argued. “But I’m more likable,” Curio insisted, following his lead. They both stared at Orsino, who shook his head. “You two are each other’s best friend.”

“Then who is yours?” Valentine insisted. “Cesario.” He shrugged, like it should be obvious.

“Cesario?” Valentine overplayed his surprised tone, which was hilarious. “Curio, did you know that?” He shrugged, unable to tell what answer he was supposed to give. “I think he’s making this up so he doesn’t have to answer.”

They both stared at Orsino again, and he laughed. “What? You want me to prove it?”

“Yes, prove it. When is his birthday?” Valentine tested him. “Six months from now,” Orsino said, without hesitation.

“What he prefers: dogs or cats?” “He doesn’t care about pets.”

“Right handed or left handed?” “Right.”

“Big spoon or little spoon?” “It varies,” Orsino said, so casually, Curio guffawed beyond any chance of stopping himself. Valentine followed, laughing so hard he had tears in his eyes. The best part was Orsino’s face: he still hadn’t figured out what he’d said.

“Alright, alright,” Valentine pretended to give in, showing his palms to tell them to calm down. “Fine, I believe you. Just one last question.” Orsino nodded. “How much longer do you plan on hiding things from us?”

He froze, glass in hand, half-way to his mouth, that hung open. Curio and Valentine didn’t resist, and laughed at him again. “What are you talking about?” he said, but it was too late to pretend he was innocent. So late, it only made them laugh harder.

“Just admit it!” Curio yelled at him, impatient with his act.

“Your best friend is your boyfriend,” Valentine spelled it out.

“How do you know that?” he asked, as surprised as if he and Cesario had been trying very hard to keep things secret. So, Curio told him each time he and Cesario had made a slip over the past few days, making sure to exaggerate every small detail for comedic purposes.

By the time Cesario got there, Curio's belly hurt from laughing so hard, and there wasn’t much teasing left in him, or Valentine. "They know,” Orsino told him, as soon as he got there. Cesario looked worried. “About what?” he played dumb, which was just ridiculous at that point. “About us,” Orsino said to end the charade.

Cesario looked at Valentine and then at Curio with a worried expression. “Hey, best luck for you two!” he said, raising his glass in a toast. “To Orsino and Cesario,” said Valentine, following his lead. They all drank to that.

Curio thought there were no more secrets to be revealed. Over the next few days he had to get used to the fact that Orsino and Cesario acted like a couple in his presence, now they weren't hiding their relationship. Not in the sense that they couldn't keep their hands off each other, which was a relief, but in the sense that they were always making plans or having arguments around the house, and Curio had nowhere to run.

Because anyone who could hear and think would've picked up on that, Curio soon realized something interesting about those two. One night, Orsino didn't want to go to the movies, and Cesario insisted, saying Olivia was really excited about it.

Curio noticed there was something he didn't understand going on, but he didn't say anything that time. He didn't say anything the next time he heard the name Olivia coming from them, either. But one morning he got home in a bad mood, around the time Cesario was leaving for work, and heard when Orsino told him: "Olivia wants to check this place she found on-line, we'll tell you if it's any good."

Curio didn't resist this time. "Are you guys dating the same girl?"

There was silence for a moment, which got uncomfortable too fast. He watched as those two exchanged a meaningful look. "Yep," Orsino admitted, not quite meeting Curio's eyes.

"We're also looking for a new place," Cesario told him.

"Wait, you guys are moving out?" Curio didn't like the news. Now he would have to find not one, but two new housemates.

Orsino shrugged. "If we ever find a place we all agree on."

Cesario rolled their eyes at him. "I have to go to work."

Curio went to bed, already worried about who was going to keep the house functioning once Orsino wasn't there to make repairs anymore.