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The Dishwasher

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It's going on midnight now and Dave isn't home, so he probably won't come home tonight at all. Even though the food platters from dinner are all clean, Tavros lets the water from the kitchen ablution basin spill over his hands for minutes, just wanting to – to wash everything away. The last five human years, at the least, every moment since the night when, after a round of video games together on the double-length stuffed seating furnishing Dave said, grinning, "Congratulations. You won," and he kissed Tavros, right there, warm and perfect.

Tavros kissed him back, because. Because he'd been flushed for Dave since Sgrub, and to find out it was requited was too much for anyone to resist. Because someone had finally looked past the wreck of his body and self-esteem and had still wanted to try. Because he was lonely, and Dave was red-warm and alive and funny and clever and cool, and when Dave paid attention to him Tavros felt like a spark being kept safe from the wind, hoping it would last long enough to grow, so that the wind would feed it instead of kill it.

He won't say he should have known better. But it was naïve. To have not known, after two human years, what Dave was doing; to realize it after the third and do nothing. Dave no longer even pretends that he is not spending nights with others.

Tavros wouldn't mind so much if they were all human, or if he were less of a coward. But instead he curls up hiding in the recuperacoon that is all his own, where Dave never goes, and tries not to think about higher-blooded trolls leaving redrom scent-marks on Dave, warning him away, when Dave promised him that the only ones he'd wear as long as they were together were Tavros's.

They haven't had sex in three months. The last time, Dave kept his sunglasses on, even though he always used to leave them off, because Tavros loves his eyes. They're no strangers to sex with their clothes still on, either, but it felt – different. Distance instead of urgency. He's not even sure Dave got hard.

Tavros hasn't tried anything since. He's afraid that it would be the same, or worse: It's not my job in life to see you get pailed, or, Decided to stop fucking people who can't have sex right, or Since you asked, I'm done with you, bye, or something worse. Dave, with his gift for words, could think of a thousand things to say to ruin him. The only defense is silence.

Tavros turns off the water. There is no call to pity himself. He's not even worth it.