"This is my boyfriend," Lior says, dragging Yossi by the hand into his parents' living room.
"Pleased to meet you," says his mom. Her son told her fifteen minutes ago that he was coming by with his boyfriend, and she's still trying to get used to the news. It isn't really a surprise to her that Lior is gay, but they've never talked about it before.
"Likewise," Yossi says. He tries to lift his hand to shake hands with Lior's mother, but Jagger won't let him up.
Lior's mom laughs, a little awkwardly. "How long have you two been together?" she asks.
"Seven months," Lior says.
She raises an eyebrow.
"I didn't want anyone to know," Yossi responds. "Jagger wanted to tell you. I just wasn't in a place where I was comfortable with that."
"Oh," she replies, with a soft smile to cover up the fact that she feels she's missed so much of her son's life. "Can I get you anything to drink?"
When she returns, Yossi is flipping through a photo album with Lior draped over his shoulder, pointing out particular photos.
"You actually wore a bunny suit?" Yossi is asking.
"I wouldn't lie to you," Lior murmurs, then notices her. He separates himself a little from Yossi, but keeps an arm over the other man.
She gestures towards Yossi that he has tea and sets it on the table in front of him, in case he manages to extricate himself from the tentacle-limbs of her son.
"Thank you," he says.
"How did you meet my son?" she asks.
"He was my second-in-command," Yossi replied.
"And how did you get together? If you don't mind my asking?"
Yossi shrugs. "There was definitely attraction at first sight. I wasn't sure that I wanted a relationship or really anything. But Lior is very persistent. It worked out for the best."
She smiles at them both.
"And then Jagger decided that called for a celebration, so he gathered up all the bedding from everyone's bunk."
She has been watching patiently, but now she lifts an eyebrow.
"What is it?" Lior asks.
"You call him Jagger from time to time," his mother says. "Why is that?"
"Oh, it's what everyone called him. I guess because he's so much like a rock star," Yossi replies.
"My son, the rock star?" she asks.
"What do you think?" Lior asks, when Yossi gets up to go to the bathroom. "You like him, right?"
"I wish you had told me," she replies. "I thought that I made it clear I would love you no matter what."
"Then I don't know why you made me guess about what was going on with your life."
"I thought that if no one but us knew, there was no chance of being accidentally outed. He's sure he wants to be open now, but he wasn't when we started. And I'm not going to force that on anyone. Even my boyfriend."
"I don't like that he made you feel like you had to hide," she says.
"He doesn't anymore. It was something we had to work past together. And we did."
"With that reservation, then, I think he's lovely." She steps forward to gather him into a hug.
"Did you two want to stay for dinner?" she asks. "Your father should be home from work in the next twenty minutes, if you wanted to introduce Yossi to him."
Yossi glances over to Lior. "Whatever you want to do."
Lior shrugs. "Maybe another day? I'm a little tired right now, and not very hungry."
"Sure. You'll call?"
His mother enfolds him in a hug, then pauses, looking at Yossi.
He grins at her and waves. "Thanks for the tea," he says.
"Thanks for coming by. I'm glad I got to meet you."
"I'm sure you'll see me a lot now that we're both done with active duty," Yossi says.
They drive from his mom's house back to their apartment.
"You charmed her," Lior says, with a grin.
Yossi laughs. "I did not. She's just perfectly willing to welcome in whatever crazy you want to bring home."
"No, you're special."
"Yeah, because I'm dating you."
Lior shrugs. "I guess we'll never find out either way, because you're the only crazy I want to bring home to meet my parents."
"When do I get to meet your parents?" Lior asks.
Yossi visibly swallows. "I guess whenever you want. But I should probably see if they still want to speak to me anymore."
Lior reaches out and pets Yossi's hair.
"I tried to out myself to them last night, but I don't know if they actually didn't understand what I was saying, or if they just didn't want to."
"We can wait until they're ready," Lior says. "I just didn't want to have to wait until you were ready anymore."
"I'm ready," Yossi promises.
"It's not just that I'm not comfortable being out," Yossi protests. "It's that I don't feel like it's safe."
"I won't let you say you're protecting me all the while trying to keep me walking the fine line society says I must walk. What if I don't want to walk it? What if I'd rather be happy?"
Lior is almost shouting now, and given the choice between causing this kind of scene or just going along with what Lior wants, Yossi steps forward and grabs Lior's hand. He only barely stops himself from glancing around the crowded Jerusalem street to make sure no one noticed. "Happy now?" he asks.
"Not quite." Lior steps to the side and leans forward to press his lips against Yossi's. "Now I am."
"Hi Mom." Yossi stands in front of the door to his own childhood home, and he looks nothing like Lior's ever seen him before, small and more than a little afraid.
"Yossi," the woman who had answered the door says coldly.
"This is my boyfriend, Lior," Yossi says. "I don't need you to love him, but I do, so I thought you deserved to know who he is."
Lior is trying not to bounce with anxious energy. He forces himself to be calm as he makes the smallest, politest smile he can. "Hello," he says.
Lior perches on the couch. Yossi's mother is slightly less aloof now, but she still scares him. He's starting to understand why Yossi didn't feel comfortable coming out.
"You're not going to run off and cut off contact with me," she says.
"Not unless you want me to," Yossi says.
"And you're still going to find a real job."
"I still want grandchildren," she says.
"Okay," Lior says, because Yossi glances at him with such an apologetic face. "I mean, we haven't discussed it yet, but that's fine with me."
"Good," she says.
Then she steps forward and hugs Yossi, which was all Lior really wanted. Besides, he thinks kids are cute.