“Hi, Wes!” some girl says on Monday morning. Wes gives her a tight-lipped smile as she walks by. “Hi, Travis,” she continues, voice dropping down half an octave, eyes lidding.
Wes watches resignedly as Travis smiles widely. “Hey, what’s up, Lena?”
The girl—Lena, evidently—beams and continues on her path. Wes waits until she’s (barely) out of earshot before rolling his eyes. “You’re pathetic.”
Travis spins around in his chair to face Wes, shit-eating grin still firmly in place. “Oh, come on, baby, don’t be like that.”
Wes narrows his eyes and turns his back.
Wednesday afternoon sees them back at counseling, playing “What’s In Your Pocket” again.
“Still my badge,” Wes says. “Still my keys.”
“Still my wallet and badge,” Travis says.
“Oh,” Wes says. “I’ve got my wallet, too.” He looks at the keys, tilts his head, and says, “No wait, these are Travis’s keys.”
Travis frowns at the keys in his hand. “Yeah, these are yours.”
“Here,” Wes says, as they trade.
Travis smirks at him. “Thanks, honey.”
After counseling, Wes says. “I thought you said ‘honey’ meant kid, not boyfriend or girlfriend.”
Travis laughs. “You’re the exception.”
“I’m not your boyfriend,” Wes points out reasonably.
“No,” Travis says. “You’re just my partner.”
“Hey, Kathy,” Travis says. “Have you seen a bottle of hand sanitizer around here?”
“No,” Kathy says, “why?”
Travis smirks and points at Wes. “Princess here lost his, and I didn’t take it this time.”
“This time,” Wes says, something tensing in the pit of his stomach.
Kathy tilts her head and moves a few papers around on Travis’s desk. Sure enough, the bottle emerges.
“Here you go, sweetheart,” Travis says, handing the bottle to Wes (but not before he uses some himself).
Wes rolls his eyes and snatches the bottle, ears and cheeks feeling hot. “Thank you, Kathy.”
Kathy grins at them. “You’re welcome, Wes.”
“Can you stop?” Wes asks tightly.
“With what?” Travis responds absently.
“With the endearments. Really, they’re—a bit much.” His voice is a little strained, but that can’t be helped, can it.
“Sure, no problem,” Travis says. “Darlin’.” He makes a face. “No, I don’t like that one.”
“Seriously,” Wes says, a sickening feeling starting to coil tightly in his chest. “Don’t.”
Travis narrows his eyes. “Why? Come on, Wes, can’t take a joke?”
Wes exhales sharply. “Just—don’t.”
Friday night, Travis barges into Wes’s hotel room, face tight.
“Wes,” he says, as Wes carefully shuts the door. “Why did Dr. Ryan come visit me at my trailer to tell me to knock it off?”
“Knock what off,” Wes says tiredly.
“I don’t know, man!” Travis says. “I don’t think she did either. She just said you were looking kind of down, and I should lay off for a little bit. Dude, is there something I should know about?”
Wes grits his teeth. “I’m fine.”
Travis sighs. “Look, man, I know we haven’t been getting along, exactly—”
“Understatement of the fucking century,” Wes scoffs.
“—but seriously, is everything all right? No one died, or anything?”
“No, Travis,” Wes says. “No one died. Or anything.”
“Okaaay,” Travis says doubtfully. He smirks suddenly, unconvincingly. “As long as you’re okay, sweetheart.”
Wes closes his eyes briefly.
“Really?” Travis says. “The pet names? That’s what’s—”
“No,” says Wes. “Or at least. Not entirely.”
“Then what,” Travis says. “I mean, you’ve gotta know that I’m just kidding around.”
Wes opens his eyes and looks balefully at Travis.
“Oh,” Travis says. “Oh. Really?”
“Save it,” Wes says, turning away, stomach dropping.
Travis grabs Wes’s wrist. “Wait. Seriously?”
“Seriously,” Wes grates out. “Are we done?”
Travis laughs, sounding incongruously delighted. “Are we done? Not by a fucking long shot, sweetheart.”
Wes yanks his wrist away, turning back around. “Look, Travis, if you’re just going to fuck with me.”
“Oh, for—” Travis says, rolling his eyes skyward and yanking Wes in by his tie.
In the morning, Wes wakes up alone, the bed cold, but there’s a note on the other pillow.
Went to go get coffee.
Just so you know, this isn’t the same as me dating people at work.
Wes groans and presses the heels of his palms to his eyes. “What does that even mean.”
“It means you’re stuck with me,” Travis says from the doorway.
Wes sits up too fast and stares at him. After a moment, he cracks a smile, something loosening inside of him, like rusty chains falling away. “Yeah?”
“Yeah,” Travis says. “Honey.”