It’s funny how Cynthia’s island is always a fond memory whenever he thinks of it, despite the fact that his first time on it he had awoken believing he had witnessed Laurent and Abbie’s double murder being paid off in a far too casual transaction. He shouldn’t like it. He should resent being tricked into sabotaged planes and staged abductions, but that’s a summary of his entire experience with Team Confidence. It’s screwed up, but he can’t help letting himself get drawn back in. Maybe it’s because he’s screwed up, too.
Makoto arrives late, one of his flights delayed by weather. The beach is quiet, as is the house, and it seems he’s the first one to get there. He dumps his bag in one of the smaller guest rooms and wanders to the kitchen where he discovers he’s not alone after all.
“Hello, my little soybean.”
After all their years of circling one another, Makoto still doesn’t have a nickname for Laurent. “Blond bastard” doesn’t quite count. He has time to figure it out, to let it come naturally. Unless Laurent is planning on taking another bullet for a payout of a hundred million sometime soon—then Makoto won’t bother.
“Where are the girls?” Makoto ducks around Laurent, who is sitting on one of the high stools at the breakfast counter, a laptop and a cup of coffee beside him. There’s a half-filled pot in the corner, though the liquid inside is lukewarm and gives off the slightly sour perfume of burnt robusta beans. Good for a caffeine kick, but Makoto can most definitely do better.
“Not sure,” Laurent replies and sets an elbow on the counter, cradling the side of his face in his hand as he casts a gaze that’s a bit too soft at Makoto. “I thought they’d be here. You’re not opposed to some alone time, are you?”
“When you say it like that, it sounds like you’re responsible.”
Laurent shrugs, not bothering to offer a defense or a denial. Not that it matters, since Makoto won’t believe him either way.
The house is quiet enough that Makoto can hear the sound of the waves outside, washing up the sand of the beach with a slow and steady lull. Laurent’s gaze hasn’t wandered; it’s still focused on him. There’s a barely noticeable quirk to the corners of Laurent’s mouth and he blinks slowly, like a housecat offering affection.
Makoto sighs and roots through the cabinets, gathering what he needs. An iron skillet goes atop the stove and a baking sheet is set on the counter. He finds a wooden spoon and then mutters for Laurent to wait there, while he shuffles back to the guest room and grabs a container from his bag.
Laurent watches him with quiet curiosity, his smile persistent but he lets Makoto work. Once the skillet is hot, Makoto dumps the contents of the container into it and carefully roasts the beans.
It’s an olive branch of sorts, or at least, that’s how he intends it. He’s spent months tweaking his recipe, inspired by the desire to create his own signature blend and the question of “why the hell not?” Half a year of combining different varieties, testing roast levels, questioning his sanity, and he thinks he might finally have it. Laurent’s probably not the best person to go to for an honest opinion, but he’s also the only person Makoto wants to ask.
“Those aren’t coffee,” Laurent observes after a few minutes, leaning over the counter to steal a better look. “What are you making?”
“It is coffee,” Makoto corrects, as the air grows warm and rich with the fragrance. “It’s a blend of coffee beans and soybeans. A Sweet Bean specialty.”
“Soybean coffee?” Laurent chuckles. “I’m not sure how I feel about that.”
“Are you gonna turn me down?” Makoto challenges, continuously moving the beans so that they roast evenly, the color changing from green to blond to a quickly darkening caramel.
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Laurent replies and empties the last few sips of his cooled coffee. “Blow me away, my sweet bean.”
That is his intention. However, the issue with roasting beans like this is that it is a process. As soon as the color is a rich dark caramel, Makoto takes them from the heat and spreads them out to cool. Laurent slips from his stool and wanders over, leaning in to give them a curious sniff. He hums in a neutral manner, tone without criticism or approval. There will be no satiating of curiosity until the beans have cooled enough to grind and that won’t be soon.
Outside the glass doors of Cynthia’s beach house, the constant resonance of the waves beckons. Makoto’s been too busy with his café to enjoy the sparkling waters of Okinawa but perhaps here and now he can permit himself a moment. The roasted coffee and soybeans are scattered across a baking sheet, radiating heat. There’s no use standing and staring in wait.
“Gonna be awhile before I can grind those,” Makoto says, slipping his hands into his pockets. “You wanna… Uhh, I’m gonna—take a walk. Out there. Till they’re cool.”
Laurent chuckles, reading Makoto like a picture book. “Is that a clumsy attempt at an invitation?”
Makoto scowls and doesn’t answer, though neither does he protest when Laurent follows him out. They make it down to the waterline before Laurent stalls and abandons his shoes and his socks, encouraging Makoto to do the same. He does, letting his toes sink into the fine sand, warmed by the sun and cooled by the sea.
At first, it’s quiet between them like it usually is. Wherever the others are, they’re not here and the longer it stays that way—without a hint of a buzzing engine or painted metal wings breaking through clouds—the more convinced Makoto is that he’s been tricked into a getaway for two. Maybe that’s fine, though. Maybe it’s what he wanted but has been too hesitant to ask for.
The house is no longer in sight by the time Laurent speaks up, asking Makoto about his café.
It’s good. He enjoys it. He likes the locals that stop by regularly, likes the teens who come in to study in the corners and chat at the tables. He likes the tourists who are always thrilled to learn he speaks English and who never remark on his accent, happy and loud as they talk about how much they’re enjoying Japan. “I think I have a cat…”
“You think?” Laurent asks with a chuckle, his long stride stunted to keep pace with Makoto.
“She’s been hanging around for a while. Comes every day and sticks around if there aren’t too many people.” He has to admit, he’s grown attached to the tabby.
“Have you named her?”
“That’s the point of no return, isn’t it?” Once he does, it’ll be official and there’s still too much he’s unsure of.
“You’ll still have to introduce me the next time I come to visit.”
Yeah, he can do that. He’s recently gotten a new variety of beans shipped in from his supplier in Ecuador, and while he wasn’t fond of it on the first try, he’d discovered it made for fantastic iced coffee. His first thought, when he tried it, was that it would be the type of coffee that Laurent would like.
It says a lot—that all his thoughts keep coming back to Laurent.
They turn and make their way back, with the sun sunk halfway to the horizon. Makoto drifts closer to the water, his feet leaving prints that are soon washed away. Laurent’s match his and are erased just as quickly.
When the beach house comes back into view, Makoto slows and then halts, his gaze on the bright colors painting the sky. He doesn’t know what to say, what to ask, if here is the right time and right place to step over the line and send himself plummeting.
“How is it that you still like the ocean?” He would think, after what Laurent’s lost out on the water, that there’s no way it could be a place of comfort.
“It’s not the ocean that troubles me,” Laurent answers, tipping his head to the side as he smiles gently at Makoto. “It’s the idea of being left adrift alone. Being on a boat or standing on the beach with you, there’s no risk of that.”
Makoto doesn’t quite understand, but then again, they both have their own ways of dealing with the past. He has his café and Laurent has his tricks. Somehow, they’re making things work.
“There’s only one thing here,” Laurent sighs heavily, “that I find unfortunate.”
The lament is put-on, Makoto knows that it is, but he still asks. “What’s that?”
“That you’re not the type to take my hand and dance with me.”
Makoto’s laugh is short and bewildered. He checks over his shoulder just in case, but there’s nothing and no one else there. It’s just the sand and the surf and the sunset, all for the two of them, genuinely alone. “Here?”
“There’s no music,” Makoto points out. “And no reason.”
“There’s the music of the waves,” Laurent responds, gesturing at the scenery around them. “The birds in the trees, the wind on the sand. It doesn’t need to be serious. No one has to know.”
He can’t figure out if Laurent is joking or if he’s serious. With Laurent, it’s likely to be a combination of both. “Like you said, I’m not the type.”
“Well, you can’t be sure until you try.” Laurent’s signature wink isn’t going to convince Makoto, no matter how hard he tries or how charming he thinks he is. “I could take your hand and show you how. Swing you around and have us trip over our feet. Kick up the sand and get far too wet until we’re laughing, and you’re having enough fun that you try and dip me.”
He can imagine it and he can imagine it all going wrong. “I’d dip you straight into the water.”
Laurent smiles like the setting sun. “Sounds like a blast.”
“Maybe another time,” Makoto dances around the conversation. “Come on… I think the coffee will have cooled enough.”
They pick up their discarded shoes and trail up to the house together, Makoto biting back a grin when Laurent starts humming Disney love songs, providing the music for them. He’s not going to dance, no matter how many soundtracks Laurent goes through. But he also doesn’t tell him to stop.
The beans are warm to the touch, but Makoto is too eager to wait any longer. He has a small hand mill with him into which he tips his custom blend, cranking the lever slowly to ensure an even grind. They have nothing but time, so Makoto doesn’t rush, letting the mix of bourbon coffee and Japanese soybeans steep in kettle-boiled water.
Mugs are pulled from the overhead cupboards and Makoto fills them, careful not to let any precious drop spill. The steam carries a rich, earthy fragrance. He takes the mugs to the breakfast counter where Laurent is sitting in wait once more. The laptop is on and from the angle he’s at, Makoto can just make out the display behind the privacy screen. Graphs, roles, story lines, dates. Laurent’s working on the makings of a new job.
“When are you going to stop?” Makoto asks as he slides the cup of coffee into Laurent’s hands. “Retire? Settle down?”
“I thought that’d be obvious,” Laurent answers with a gentle smile, the tips of his fingers skimming the backs of Makoto’s hands as he accepts the coffee. “When I find home.”
Home might be more than Makoto can offer, especially since he isn’t sure if he’s found home himself yet. But coffee—coffee he can give with confidence.
He lets Laurent take the first sip, watching him blow steam off the surface and press the edge of the mug to his lips. Makoto doesn’t know what he’s expecting. A smile, perhaps. A purr. A compliment. The little hum that Laurent’s given in response to all the previous cups of coffee that Makoto’s made for him. What he gets is a look, tropical eyes meeting his, the corner of Laurent’s mouth quirking in amusement.
“What?” he asks, glancing down at his own cup with concern. Laurent says nothing and instead waits with expectation for his companion to try what he’s created.
Makoto notices too late that Laurent hasn’t swallowed. To describe the coffee as bitter would be an insult to the word. The moment the taste hits his tongue, he sees Laurent’s jaw clench and his lips purse, and as hard as he tries to pretend that it’s fine, it isn’t. It’s vile. Makoto’s created a monster and within seconds they’re both sputtering. Makoto rushes to the sink to spit out his mouthful while Laurent takes the insultingly effective route of coughing into his cup.
“It took you a few years but you’ve finally decided to poison me, I see,” Laurent rasps and slides the mug as far away from himself as he possibly can.
Makoto dumps the coffee and rinses the mug out thrice before topping it off with water so he can wash the taste out of his mouth, groaning and laughing at the same time. “I promise you, I thought I had it this time.”
“Soy coffee,” Laurent chuckles, then shudders briefly, as if the flavor still clings to the back of his throat. “Oh, my sweet bean, did you really think it was going to work?”
“Hush,” Makoto snaps without malice, wondering if he should spare them both the continued misery and run for toothpaste and brushes. “I saw your face. You thought it was gonna be good, too.”
“I think that might be the most awful thing I’ve ever tasted,” Laurent says with absolute wonder, slipping off the stool to go rinse his mouth. “And I’ve drunk instant coffee in economy before.”
“Uhhh, where did I go wrong…” Months of trials, all to go backwards. “The others weren’t this bad, I swear.”
“We’re all blinded by the illusion of greatness at some point,” Laurent chuckles, taking mercy on Makoto by dumping the rest of the soybean abomination down the drain. “I wouldn’t give up that easily.”
“Or I can just go with a regular soy latte.” That would be simpler and likely easier to play with until he’s happy. Latte art of a soybean should be straightforward and be unique enough to present as his signature. Or he could simply top it with a single roasted soybean and call it a day.
“But everything else you’ve made has been amazing,” Laurent protests, leaning against the counter with a smile split wide across his lips. Blue eyes sparkle with inspiration, too excited to belong to a man that’s nearly been incapacitated by a bad brew. “How many of our schemes have almost failed only to be saved by you at the last moment? You know much more than me about all of this, but there may still be salvation. Not all blends are designed to be drunk black, right? A bit of milk, a bit of sugar. Lighter roast? Or some honey to mellow out the bitterness. Is it Vietnam where they roast the beans with palm oil? Or was it coconut oil? They add the condensed milk—”
Laurent’s rambling and Makoto’s barely listening, unable to contain the urge to laugh. Anyone else would have simply told him it was bad and stopped at that. But Laurent’s looking at the sink with a hint of lament, like he’s wanting to try out each of the ideas already so that Makoto can find the right steps to creating his specialty. His lips move in a rush and his cadence holds the same sweetness as when he’s talking about a job he’s newly concocted, presenting the plan with proud conviction.
“Hey, Laurent.” Makoto steps in, his feet shedding beach sand with each movement, leaving grains all over Cynthia’s polished hardwood floors. “Shut up.”
Once, in a dream, Makoto had watched himself weave his fingers through Laurent’s hair. In that world, he’d somehow convinced himself that the blond strands were silken and thin. They’re not. They’re thick, made firm by product, and absolutely perfect for seizing hold of. So is Laurent’s mouth, even if in this moment it tastes of the bitter mistake that is Makoto’s coffee.
There’s a second of pause and of shock, of disbelief, and then Laurent’s arms are around him, his mouth kissing the sigh of relief straight off Makoto.
Maybe it’s a bitter mistake, too, but the fact that he’s here is evidence enough that Makoto’s already given in.
The kiss is an earthquake. It shakes through him and everything that follows is the tsunami that comes crashing through after, sweeping him away and stripping him of all sense and reason. It’s been building for years, for a decade, for longer. Since Makoto made the grave error of getting into that cab and falling for all of Laurent’s tricks to follow.
They break but don’t pull apart, still so close that Laurent’s stuttered breath warms Makoto’s skin.
“Shut up,” Makoto repeats, not daring to open his eyes. He doesn’t want to move away. If he does now, he might never allow himself to come back. “You get one chance. Don’t ruin it.”
Laurent chuckles and the sound rumbles through Makoto, transferred like a purr against his lips. He cups Makoto’s face in his hands and kisses him again, sweeter than Venetian coffee. It’s almost too soft, too gentle, and as soon as he has that thought, it changes. Laurent lifts him and sits Makoto on the countertop, so that he can slide himself between Makoto’s legs and pin their bodies together.
Instead of leaning up, Makoto is now leaning down, his grip dropping from Laurent’s hair to his collar. He chases the kiss, sucking Laurent’s lower lip into his mouth and smiling when the response he earns is a hushed swear. Everything else has been a competition between them; why not this, too?
He drinks in the heat of Laurent’s tongue and groans when hands wander lower, dipping under the cotton fabric of his shirt to find goose-bumped skin. Laurent presses in, the pressure near bruising as the kisses descend into the haste of desperation, like they’re making up for lost time. Laurent’s mouth covers every millimeter of his, his hands wrapping around Makoto’s waist, holding them steady.
When Makoto finally lets his own hands slide down, mapping the dips and curves of Laurent’s chest, Laurent smiles against his mouth. “If you’re doing all this to pick my pockets, I’m afraid I don’t have much on me at the moment.”
If Makoto wanted to empty Laurent’s pockets and his bank account, he’s pretty confident that he’d manage. “What part of one chance did you not understand?”
“Then tell me, how far am I allowed to go?”
Makoto doesn’t answer. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t know, though it’s more likely because he does. Either way, he’ll never match Laurent’s talent for smooth lines and easy flirtation, but Makoto’s always been better at actions than words.
He meets Laurent’s smug gaze and sharply jerks him back in, pulling on blond hair as he crashes their lips together again. Laurent groans and Makoto can practically feel his knees go weak, Laurent’s weight leaning onto him. He pulls again and Laurent’s moan vibrates on his tongue, wanton and deep. Suddenly Makoto’s discovered a new addiction.
He only has the upper hand for a moment—in the next, he’s swept into Laurent’s arms and carried, biting back a yelp of surprise and the urge to laugh. They don’t move far. Makoto is dumped onto the center of the king bed that’s always been reserved for Laurent, the mattress bouncing beneath him. He doesn’t put a stop to it, doesn’t protest even if he does throw Laurent a glare just because of how damn smug the bastard looks right before he covers Makoto’s body with his own.
Outside the bedroom windows, the last rays of the setting sun have set fire to the ocean.
Neither of them was ready for this, it seems. There are no condoms, no lube, but they’re both too eager to stop pulling at each other’s clothes. Despite all the teasing and jokes, Makoto’s not a virgin even if Laurent’s touch makes him shiver like one. His mouth sends sparks firing through every nerve ending as it trails up the expanse of Makoto’s throat, teeth and hot exhales stimulating the sensitive spot beneath his ear, making his toes curl.
He tips up and catches Laurent in another kiss, heat coiling in the pit of his abdomen. They fumble, feet catching on sheets, kisses haphazard and voices hushed. Laurent’s mouth is on Makoto’s throat, thighs between his legs, and his hands wound around their cocks, stroking together. It’s maddening.
Laurent’s body is broad and firm. Like this, Makoto can see all the scars that he’s overlooked. The round mark of a bullet just below Laurent’s left shoulder, the jagged white lines marking stab wounds above his stomach and across the curve of his hip. There are more, smaller ones, and Makoto wonders if each comes with the story of a con. He’ll find the courage to ask later, when their mismatched movements aren’t building pleasure on every stroke.
It’s Laurent who comes first, with Makoto’s name on his tongue. Not his mispronounced nickname, not some derivative endearment, not his family name. “Makoto” almost sounds out of place, unfamiliar, but so is all of this. Laurent pulls Makoto over the edge with him with the expert stroke of his fingers and the depth of his kisses, until all that’s left is the aftertaste of surrender lingering on the back of their tongues.
There’s a haze that follows. Makoto delves his fingers into Laurent’s hair rather than address it, losing all of his questions on Laurent’s tongue. When heartbeats slow, they try again, calmer, less frantic, finding a rhythm that works. Makoto comes again, muttering Laurent’s name like it’s the only one he’s ever known. And Laurent clings to him, as if letting go would mean floating out into the unknown depths of the sea, lost to the blue and the chill and the loneliness.
Makoto doesn’t let go. He lets Laurent thread their fingers together and they stay, wrapped in their mistakes and all the time they’ll never get back.
The morning, when it arrives, is slow. Makoto lies in Laurent’s bed, bare under the sheets, and wonders what the hell he’s done. There’s a little green daimyo on the nightstand behind Laurent and the light streaming from the windows is soft, making the blond strands of Laurent’s hair glow. Close and calm like this, Makoto can pick out the silver speckled in, the resting laugh lines by Laurent’s eyes helping to betray his years. It’s infuriating that Laurent manages to age like a fine wine, more striking now than he had been when he’d picked a wallet out of Makoto’s pocket.
Perhaps, though, that’s just Makoto’s hopelessness coming through.
The sun warms Makoto’s back and Laurent stirs, his lashes lifting to flood Makoto with a sea of blue. It’s too late to slip away now but Makoto’s always been the one raising the stakes, swapping out prices and pilots and cases and getaways, each time on his own whim. Laurent never told him no, never made him stop. And Makoto’s always come crashing back, unsure of why it is he’s given in. There’s only one real reason that makes sense.
“Good morning, Laurie.”
Laurent smiles and hums, stretching beside Makoto. “One night together and you’ve stopped calling me a bastard? If I had only known it’d be so easy.”
“Mmmm, no,” Makoto says and entwines his fingers with Laurent’s sleep-mussed hair, tugging him in so that he can fit his mouth over Laurent’s. The response is a purr and the unhurried slide of Laurent’s tongue against his own. Laurent’s face is rough with morning growth, and the scratch of his facial hair on Makoto’s skin makes the nape of his neck prickle. “I still hate you.”
Laurent laughs and rolls onto him, mouth curled in a wicked grin. “And I definitely believe you.”
This is what he’s wanted, isn’t it? The gaping hole in his chest, in his life, in the coffee shop, clawing out and desperate to be filled? It’s the world’s cruelty and fondness for ironic humor that dictates why it had to be Laurent.
Laurent’s breath dances across his face, warm lips meeting his own again and again. It’s so easy to let himself be swept away by the careful yet coaxing fingers splaying over his stomach, the rush of his blood taking any lingering caution with it.
They shower together, Laurent pushing his cock between Makoto’s thighs as his hands stroke him to fulfillment. Laurent’s mouth on his neck and his shoulders is hotter than the steaming water, and the air is filled with the scent of satsuma mandarins and the music of their kiss-hushed groans. It’s too much and not enough, all at once. Makoto never expected Laurent to be so gentle, but he supposes, even after all these years, there’s still a lot left for them to learn.
Finding the right point to start a conversation isn’t simple. So Makoto brews them coffee—without the added burnt and acrid soy. These beans are from Costa Rica and the flavor is a meld of sour star fruit, sweet yellow plum, and the semi-bitter bite of almonds. As they steep and the filter drops fresh, fragrant coffee into the pot, Laurent loops his arms low and loose around Makoto’s waist, holding on once more.
“Tell me if you want me to let go.”
Makoto leans back against the firm expanse of Laurent’s chest and sighs. “Are you still broken?”
“Aren’t we both?"
The guilt and nightmares might have faded, but they aren’t gone for either of them. There’s a lifetime of picking up the pieces ahead, and the question is whether Makoto wants to do it alone or together.
The coffee that he pours for them, at least, is so good that it could be healing. Laurent hums when he drinks it, smiling at Makoto over the rim. As easy as that, Makoto has his answer.
They’re halfway through their cups when company arrives. Abbie and Kudo crash through the front door, with Shi-won trailing in not long after. All of them are loud, talking over one another, half in jest and half in argument.
“Sorry we’re late!” Cynthia sings, taking off her straw sunhat as she enters, bringing up the rear.
“Someone used the wrong passport and nearly got us all detained,” Abbie explains, spitting glares in Kudo’s direction.
“Memory’s not what it used to be,” Kudo laughs, sheepishly rubbing the back of his neck. “But it all worked out, huh… Thanks again, Cynthia.”
Cynthia winks and then pats Makoto on the back in greeting as she passes him to go settle in. Kudo and Shi-won dig drinks out of the fridge and crash on the couch, while Abbie beelines for the remainder of the coffee. She tops off a mug and nods at Makoto in thanks, before her gaze narrows.
“...Are you wearing Laurent’s shirt?”
He is. Makoto’s wearing pink with purple flowers, and Laurent’s ridiculously wide grin is more than enough to prove it.
Abbie doesn’t let him deny it, rolling her eyes as she stalks off with her cup of coffee. “Ughhh, just let me know if there’s any chair or part of the sofa I should avoid.”
Makoto watches her go, then watches Kudo spill beer on the rug as he and Shi-won toast their cans together. Kudo scrambles to clean it before Cynthia can catch him, hushing both Shi-won’s and Abbie’s mocking laughter. Astonished, Makoto turns to a softly chuckling Laurent. “There’s actually a reunion. I thought you set me up again.”
“Please have a little bit more faith in me, my darling soybean.”
Perhaps he should.
Catching up with everyone is good. There are no big resolutions to retire, no declarations of going straight from now on, but everyone’s got plans of their own. Abbie mutters an admission about her participation in a few amateur rock-climbing competitions, and Cynthia adds that Abbie already has one ribbon under her belt. Kudo and Shi-won argue about franchising a chain of samgyeopsal restaurants in Korea. Makoto learns that over the past couple of years, Cynthia’s been doing theatre auditions in her spare time. No luck, she laments dramatically, stating her intention to put that dream on hold once again. She’s gonna put her money into West End productions instead, surpassing a reliance on luck by buying power. Makoto thinks she’d make a great producer.
The only one who shrugs off talk of the future is Laurent.
Makoto doesn’t sleep in Laurent’s bed that night, but the next day, they arrive at the transfer airport together. It’s too early for either of them to check in, so they sit in a departures lobby café, sharing a croissant and less-than-stellar cups of coffee. Laurent, dressed in a suit and with his laptop out in front of him, looks far too much like a respectable businessman. Without asking, Makoto has an idea of what he’s working on.
He reaches over and closes the laptop with a definitive click. “I’d like to propose to you a different job,” Makoto says, remembering how, far too long ago, he’d tried recruiting Laurent as his assistant.
Laurent locks eyes with him and grins. “Where?”
“In my café.” Makoto’s loved Laurent’s coffee recommendations every time they have been offered and, from the beginning, the one person he’s wanted in his shop has been Laurent. It could work. Laurent can draw lovesick hearts in the latte art and teach the regulars how to play mahjong on his breaks. They can name the cat Delilah and, day by day, figure out how to continue living.
“I’m going home, Laurent. Come with me,” Makoto says, offering his hand.
Laurent doesn’t hesitate to take it.
It has taken five years, give or take, for Makoto to give Laurent his chance. Maybe it’ll be worth it. At the very least, with Laurent at his side, he’s always been far from bored.