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How the Future's Done

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Zach decides that he wants to paint his living room and he insists on doing it himself, nevermind the fact that he has plenty of money to spend on some interior decorating service to do it for him. ("Where does all your money go?" Chris asked, staring pointedly at Zach's flared yoga pants and running shoes. Zach in turn rolled his eyes and motioned to the white v-neck that Chris had worn three days in a row. "Says you.") Chris helps him move all of his furniture to the center of the room, narrowly missing crushing his toe under Zach's heavy couch.

"This is manual labor," Chris says as they stand back and survey their handy work, affixing an affronted tone. "Can we not just leave it like this?"

"Feng shui, definitely," Zach responds, and he tips his head to rest his forehead on Chris' shoulder. He's sweating, a little, the longer pieces of his hair beginning to stick to his forehead. They stay there for a moment, quietly staring out across Zach's living room, the sounds of Noah barking in the backyard floating in through the open window, until Zach finally heaves a sigh and says, "Ready to paint?"

The color that Zach chose is a deep red color, almost brown, that matches the pillows on his couch perfectly. It's a nice color and Chris squints, trying to imagine the beige walls darker, trying to imagine bumping into red walls when they stumble in late, trying to imagine curling up on the couch while Zach complains about how furniture isn't designed for long legs with the glow of the TV shining on his face. It really is nice.

Chris learns quickly that painting is the devil's activity. His arm feels like falling off, tired of the repetitive up-and-down motion of the roller. There's a bead of paint that made its way down the handle of the roller and is now curving down Chris' arm, creating a thin line of red that's reminiscent of blood and makes Chris call out, "Hey, Sylar, painting with blood again?"

Zach snorts, loudly, and calls back, "Yeah whatever."

(Sometimes, when they fight with each other and Chris' anger has simmered down, to ease tension he'll draw two fingers in a straight line, letting out a high-pitched squeak, directed at Zach's forehead. It's stupid and probably reminds Zach of the fact that he could be moving on to bigger and better things, but it helps.)

Chris wipes the smudge of red paint off of his arm and presses it into a remaining white spot on the wall. Just one more wall and the trim, then they're done.

When they finally finish, Zach leans forward and kisses Chris full on the mouth. There's paint on Zach's fingertips but he seems to forget as he pulls Chris in closer, his hands situated on Chris' neck. They're both sweaty and gross, but there's a smile of satisfaction on Zach's face when he pulls back. "There's much more positive energy in the room now," he says.

"Energy, sure," Chris says, dismissively, bumping Zach's hip before he heads for the bathroom.

"Don't use my good towels to wash off!"

Chris searches the wall for the light switch when he gets to the bathroom, careful to push it to the On position with his clean hand. Under the fluorescent lights, he notices that there's a tiny sliver of a thumbprint from Zach's painted fingertips situated perfectly in the center of his neck. The realization makes Chris smile at his reflection. He manages to scrub most of the paint off his hands with no trouble, though he saves the tiny freckles of paint on his arms to be washed in the shower. He also lets the tiny mark of mine remain.