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Gentlemanly Pursuits

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You aren’t certain what in particular has changed in your life, but you feel as though some unspoken tension has broken, and the days have begun to pass remarkably quickly and amicably.

Perhaps it’s that the social element of your workplace has reverted back to keeping a respectful distance from you, has resumed allowing you to work in peace.

Perhaps it’s that the electric atmosphere in your home has softened perceptibly, that your houseguest seems to have begun another clumsy attempt at stepping in time to the movements of your dance.

Regardless of the reason, as the days turn to weeks, John makes no mention of coming home, and you begin to worry about Dave.

Ever since your embarrassing little malfunction in front of him, he’s been acting strangely.

Originally, you’d thought it a product of vicarious shame. After all, you must have been a painful thing to behold. You imagine you looked rather lost, and that is an expression suited for the faces of children, not grown men.

But the passing days have not lessened the odd tightness of his movements. He’s grown sullen, and any attempt you make to cheer him seems only to worsen his mood. He fluctuates unpredictably in his behaviour, sometimes seeming as though he wants nothing at all to do with you, at other times dogging your steps like a slim shadow.

There are moments when you think he is about to reach to you for comfort, a few chance instances in which he looks at you with an expression of conflict you could not begin to understand, but these always end in quiet displays of intense frustration, with or without your intervention.

You do worry about him, but abstain from interfering, cautioned by the touch of your own conflicted feelings. You’re unsure what, precisely, an attempt to help him would entail.

You do not know how to ask, and a wiser part of you tells you that you do not actually want to know, despite your good intentions.

A wiser part of you sees the enticing glimmer of a dark road and quite sensibly recommends that you do not set your foot near it, let alone on it or down it. You respect that. It is always healthier to take the better-lit path.

But you still worry. You’re very fond of Dave, despite the fact that he seems to be even more viciously opposed to being treated like a son by you than he is to being treated like a guest.

You just don’t know what he wants from you.


Dave’s continuing quest for respectable attire has progressed most excellently, if in jumps and starts.

In those stretches of time where he seems either unable or unwilling to extricate himself from your immediate vicinity, you have not only secured a small number of very suitable items, but have definitively decided upon- and subsequently contacted- your tailor to assist in making adjustments to the new pieces in Dave’s growing wardrobe.

Like all but the luckiest of men, Dave is, as you had expected, not average enough in proportion to fit neatly into that limited range of sizes available to even the savviest of consumers. You suppose it is a blessing that you are not, either, or he may have been without your guidance in that regard.

In its entirety, the jaunt has been something of a process.

You’re both glad and somewhat disheartened to realize that it is nearing completion.

After all, there is very little more decisively final than the act of retrieving from your tailor what should be- hopefully, if all went well- the finished products of your combined labours. All that remains is to ensure that each part of the jigsaw ensemble fits as it should, and forms at least one seamless whole.

And to correct his frankly atrocious tying technique. His Windsor knots are always crooked, without exception. There is a very definite difference between kinds of knots, but every attempt you have made to educate him on the matter has been met with a rather suspicious degree of distraction.

You do not want to know where his mind wanders to when it is left unguided by a firm hand.


He really is like a child.

You feel the inside of your mouth saying brat and stifle it judiciously.

Really, he’s more like a cat, you suppose.  A child is trying, but relatively consistent.

Dave, when he wants your attention, brooks no inattention. He interferes with your usual routines. Several dinners have been rendered lopsided under his supervision, and at least one cake has burned.

Now, as you help him into his new attire, he holds his arms out at his sides, childlike, and you sigh through your nose and button his shirt for him obligingly.

Your tailor’s workmanship has turned out to be, as it usually is and as you’d hoped, quite adequate. With every fastened button, you can better see the thoughts that went into the subtle adjustments made to this particular piece. It is a very good cut for him. Much better than his regular t-shirts: flimsy, mass-produced, and always made too wide through the body or too narrow in the shoulders. He has a good figure, well-matched to the fineness of his facial features, and the manner of his usual dress simply does not do him justice.

He’s watching you do up his buttons with a small frown.

You’d like a moment to admire the fruit of your labours, but you can almost feel the tidal surge of his incoming moodiness in his agitated fidgeting. You pray he refrains until you’re done here.

He does not.

He still looks very respectable in his suit, you must admit.


When he next ventures into your kitchen voluntarily, you are surprised not by his presence, but by the fact that he’s neither avoiding you nor getting in your way.

He’s simply sitting at the table, leaning on his elbows. He looks very casual.

It’s most peculiar.

You suspect he wants something from you.

You pause, measuring cup still in one cocoa-dusted hand and milk carton in the other, to look over your shoulder at him inquisitively.

His lips tighten almost imperceptibly, and it seems to you that his near-flawless aura of nonchalance, smooth and opaque as blackstrap molasses, has taken on a sudden bitter tang. Some remnant of the harvest, perhaps. A crop of grass missed during separation, threshed and refined with the rest without his knowledge. He’s nervous.

Most peculiar, given his recent behaviour. A part of you recognizes that it is not outside of reason that this could herald a much-needed return to some form of normality. You have been concerned for him, after all.

You oblige him. “Did you need something, Dave?” 

He fidgets. You find it nostalgic. You wait.

“Could I maybe go out tonight is that cool um if it’s not a problem I get that you’ve got your own sh- stuff going on and all and yeah. Uh.”

Very nervous, apparently. It takes you a moment to process that.

Ah, and it’s Friday. You’d forgotten. Of course.

“Are you asking to be driven somewhere?” you inquire calmly, setting down the milk on the counter. You remind yourself that you mustn’t forget to put it away. It has never been a problem in the past, but it wouldn’t do to have it become one today.

He is, in fact, asking to be driven somewhere, but is afraid of imposing himself upon you.

From his somewhat garbled and frequently meandering mumbles, you glean that although he does not start attending classes until the fall semester, he has made a point of becoming involved with the student society associated with his program via the internet, and that some of the people in question are gathering in celebration of the end of the winter semester.

Ah, yes. You suppose it’s almost April. You wonder if John will come home in time for his birthday.

“Of course, Dave. That isn’t a problem at all. When are you expected?” You’re somewhat relieved that he’s taken measures against isolation. Belonging to an academic organization can greatly improve a young man’s scholastic experience in general. You’re pleased by his prudence.

He still looks a trifle undecided. “It was never my intention to keep you confined here, with only me for company,” you tease gently. He rewards you with a little laugh, but continues to fidget.

You wait for him to collect his thoughts.

It would appear that he’s uncertain when, precisely, the event is expected to conclude. It is an evening affair, after all, and one proposed and attended by students. You were once a student yourself, and though you were not one who made a habit of keeping excessively late hours, you knew many who did. You understand.

Your routine as he has seen it is, of course, one in which the day typically ends much earlier than a celebratory gathering of youths could be expected to, and you understand that this is why he harbours such a concern over potentially disturbing you. You find that both endearing and a little amusing.

You make him an offer of compromise, and one you think quite generous: unless he should call you beforehand, you will come to collect him at midnight.

He agrees, though only with a rather wry-sounding reference.

You raise an eyebrow at him in amusement.

You would think him a somewhat too self-sufficient Cinderella, personally.


The house is very quiet in the later hours of the evening.

You live in a quiet neighbourhood, but even the quietest of suburban neighbourhoods is too compact and uncluttered by greenery to dampen the carrying sounds of a spring afternoon. Always present is the low roar of a car engine starting, the metallic rumble of a garage door opening, the high piping voice of a child, and the lower, more resonant tenor of an adult. Always present is the traffic of a distant highway, despite the lengths to which the city has gone to ensure the contrary. Always present is at least one bird, or one barking dog.

There is an ambiance to a suburban neighbourhood, but until you have sat up past the last child’s bedtime and heard the distant slam of a car door closing by the hand of the last overtime worker to arrive home for the weekend, you do not realize it.

It is Friday, but you live in a quiet neighbourhood, and past the stroke of eleven, it proves itself a silent neighbourhood.

You find yourself checking your palmtop computer more frequently than you’re accustomed to doing, but your ongoing presence as pipefan413 appears to be greatly appreciated by your peers, two of whom have suffered cataclysmic wardrobe failures and are in dire need of guidance. You have been neglecting them, of late. You may have to remedy that.

You have almost seen officeurchin1280’s pant leg catastrophe through to its bittersweet resolution when a strange notification pops up at the bottom of your screen.

It takes you a moment of confused fumbling to remember that, some years ago, John had taken the liberty of installing a strange application on your phone. You had thought you’d removed it.

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering mrEgbert [ME] at 23:26 --

TG: yo
TG: uh so
TG: i kind of made you an account
TG: and i didnt know what to name it
TG: so the name is sort of dumb and obvious
TG: sorry i guess
TG: kind of rude of me
TG: but i hope you dont mind too much

You’re struggling. You’re not sure how this program works.

TG: its just that i thought maybe it might be loud here
TG: and i was totally right
TG: like infinitely right
TG: righter than the direction
TG: so right there isnt even a left turn left to turn down anymore
TG: wait
TG: nevermind just ignore that
TG: that was dumb
TG: are you even there

You think you’ve got it now.

TG: oh man maybe you dont carry your pda on you
TG: and i was supposed to call the house phone or something
TG: that would make sense actually
TG: im not sure why i didnt think of that
TG: and now when you finally check it this bs is what youre going to find
TG: waiting for you like a kid abandoned at the park
TG: except less tragic and more dumb
TG: theres just going to be this endless awful novel
TG: and im probably going to be there when you find it
TG: which is gonna be super embarrassing
TG: damn it
TG: i wonder if i can delete it before you get a chance to read it
TG: probably not
TG: whoa all caps
TG: i was not expecting that
TG: like
TG: at all
TG: you seem like more like
TG: i dunno
TG: like youd type like rose i guess
TG: dude how much are you even typing
TG: are you writing me a novel too
TG: are we starting a book club
TG: can i be oprah
TG: you can be ellen
TG: wait no
TG: if youre ellen i want to be portia
TG: i think id make a pretty good portia
TG: oh my god it cant have taken you that long to type that
TG: nobody types that slow
TG: nobody

You don’t believe yourself to be a particularly unskilled typist. You do a considerable amount of it for work, after all.

TG: thats like
TG: a new record of slow
TG: super ultra mega slow
TG: so slow it sounds like the title of a japanese game show

Dave is just very fast. You assume it’s a generational difference. He is very young, and grew up with this sort of thing, after all.

TG: dude come on
TG: wait i didnt offend you or anything did i
TG: i didnt mean it like that
TG: its just kind of amazing
TG: im used to john
TG: and john is pretty slow tbh
TG: but not like this
TG: but anyway i guess you asked me a question
TG: wow i should probably answer that
TG: give me a second
TG: i gotta scroll up

You would comment that this wouldn’t have been an issue if he didn’t feel the need to type so much, but you are certain your words would be lost in the very sea of text they were referring to.

You like to think he’d appreciate the irony of that.

TG: yeah so i kind of wanted to ask if it was cool to come home now
TG: oh
TG: man you actually beat me to the punch
TG: that is some tortoise and the hare shit right there
TG: damn
TG: im proud of you
TG: wow that was a weird thing to say
TG: just wow dave
TG: but yeah i think i want to ollie out of here
TG: cinderella my ass on out of this joint
TG: getting macked on a little too hard by these sophomores
TG: when thats not really why i came here
TG: i mean im flattered but
TG: what
TG: oh
TG: sorry
TG: ive been
TG: i wasnt thinking
TG: my bad
TG: fghtj
TG: jkkllkmk
TG: goddamn it
TG: theyre trying to take my phone
TG: i think theyre jealous
TG: see this is what i mean
TG: i mean i cant blame them but damn
TG: ok
TG: my hero
TG: i can already taste freedom
TG: it tastes like cake and liberty
TG: oh man im eating all of the cake when i get home
TG: you dont even know
TG: i dont even care that its probably gonna be past midnight
TG: i am gonna sleep in that cake
TG: make myself a bed of pastry and lie in it
TG: lay my head upon a sweet ass pillow of icing and never get up
TG: sorry
TG: youre getting faster though
TG: nice

Though it is against your nature to leave a message unanswered, you tuck the device in your pocket decisively.

You don’t believe you would succeed in retrieving him before dawn if you waited for him to disengage from conversation, frankly.

At least he seems as though he’s in a good mood.


You have very little difficulty locating the house in front of which you’d originally dropped him off.

It is, as he’d mentioned, most incredibly loud. You’re inclined to suppose that it is only the combination of student-occupied housing and general weekend excitement that has prevented the police from being called.

He isn’t waiting for you outside, which is to be expected. It’s drizzling, and only a few dedicated smokers are lingering on the porch, each of them pressed as far back against the wall as possible in an attempt to stay dry under the meagre coverage afforded by the overhang of the roof. You watch a young woman cup a hand over the end of her cigarette, struggling valiantly with a lighter that sparks, but never burns.

Neither of the two young men accompanying her has moved to assist her. You feel a small frown tugging at the corners of your lips.

 You linger in your car a moment longer, indecisive. For once, the screen of your palmtop computer is empty of notifications. Dave has not answered you. That’s just as well, you suppose.

You light the young lady’s cigarette for her before you go in. She looks surprised, but murmurs a shy word of thanks nonetheless.

It is even louder inside.

If he intends to make a habit of attending functions such as these, you believe Dave will require a hearing aid before you do.

Mercifully, it is less crowded than you had feared. Aside from a narrowly avoided collision with one very excited young person, you are unimpeded.

You are being looked at rather strangely by those lingering in and near the foyer, though. You’re not surprised. While you may be many things, you are certainly not part of the target demographic that this party was intended for.

At least one person is courteous enough to try to engage you in conversation despite the noise level, and you politely- though with great effort and much repetition- inform her that you’re looking for a young man with blonde hair, unsure if she’ll know him by name.

She yells something several times before you recognize it as “are you here for Dave?” and nod in affirmation. She raises a finger and then disappears into the next room.

The noise- which you recognize as music only now- abruptly diminishes, much to your relief.

She returns, only to immediately pass by you. “This way,” she calls, gesturing for you to follow before peering into yet another room nearer to the rear of the house.

You’re a touch bemused. It hadn’t really been your intention to become an attendee. You follow, nevertheless.

Despite your suspicions, Dave was surprisingly faithful in his account of the general conduct of his peers. One of these young ladies seems to have succeeded in requisitioning his phone.

Another is squatting over him where he’s sitting cross-legged on the floor, and she seems to be doing her very best to fashion some sort of braid in his hair.

You find yourself suddenly struck by how many more young ladies than young men you’ve seen thus far. You have your suspicions about that, as well.

Regardless of their veracity, Dave doesn’t seem to have done too well by himself, if his defeated slouch and listless expression is anything to go by. You look for the girl who guided you here to thank her, but she’s already disappeared, lost into the cacophonous ether of the event once again. You wonder if she’s the host.

“Yo Jenny can I have my phone back I’m sort of waiting for someone,” you hear, and chortle internally. A fellow jostles you with a mumbled “excuse me” on his way out of the room, and you realize that it may be unwise of you to linger in the doorway.

“Maybe when you finally get my name right, Strider,” the girl- who is apparently not a Jennifer- teases, waving the offending object above her head, and you suppress a little smile as you pluck it carefully from between her fingers. You choose to ignore her unflattering squawk of surprise in favour of a kinder first impression.

Dave sighs gustily, throwing the back of his hand over his eyes like a swooning maid. “Oh my god finally, I thought you’d left me to the wolves, they were gonna eat me for sure, I was terrified, there would’ve been nothing but bones, bro-”

You chuckle despite yourself, but only until he staggers to his feet to take his phone from you.

You’d thought, perhaps, that his sluggishness was due to fatigue, but now that he’s near, you can smell the pungency of tequila on his breath.

He is clearly not too inebriated to perceive your look of disapproval, because the next words out of his mouth are “Janice spilled on me,” to which the girl who is named Janice- not Jennifer- howls a very damning protestation to the contrary.

He looks about ready to strife her, but she plants a quick, wet-looking kiss on his cheek before absconding past you into the hallway.

Dave flinches at your stern expression.


“I didn’t-”

It’s fine.

“It’s not-”

It’s fine.

“Are you-”

It’s fine.

It is a very quiet drive home.


You’re not angry.

You’re just… disappointed.

You have made it clear that you do not encourage such behaviours in minors, most particularly not those who are due to enter into the demanding world of post-secondary education in the near future. You hope this is not something he makes a habit of.

He mumbles “no.”

You look at him appraisingly.

He’s slumped down in his chair, hips almost aligned the front edge of the seat and head lolled back in indifference.

He’s not listening. You frown. He should drink some more water.

He does, if only to appease you.

You sit down across from him with a tumbler of you own- you believe you’ll need something to calm you down after all this excitement- and a sigh.

“Did you have fun?”

He lifts his head, eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “What?” You just look at him. “Are you… done being mad at me?”

You stifle a sigh. “It seems as though you’ve made some new friends, Dave,” you encourage gently, and he tilts his head at you.

“I don’t know if I’d say friends.”

Well, you would. He seemed quite close with the young Miss Janice, for all his many objections. You’re not so old as to have forgotten that not all courtship is conducted with flowers and sweet words, after all.

And frankly, you can’t really imagine that he’d be the sort to give a girl flowers. It hardly seems, well, ironic enough.

He makes a face at you. “No, man, I mean, I guess she’s cool and all but no, it’s not like that.”

Well, if he’s absolutely sure. You suppose she just seemed a charming girl.

You hide a smile in your glass as he begins to redden.

“Ugh no, it’s really not like that, god,” he blusters, and you have to bite down a laugh at the surge of colour in his face. “Man, if you think she’s so ‘charming’, why don’t you date her?”

You raise an eyebrow at him, relishing the warm creep of whiskey through your stomach.

“I think you’ll find me much too old to be an object of interest to pretty young things in their twenties, Dave,” you tell him drily.

The colour of scotch has always interested you. It has a look to it that seems almost as though it should belong to something of a syrupy thickness, but to taste, it is hot and thin, and leaves only a lingering sweetness in its afterburn.

 Dave is unusually quiet.

When you look at him, he’s just staring at you, eyebrows flattened into a line above his sunglasses.

“Is something the matter?”

The look he is giving you is so patently unimpressed that you begin to feel as though you’ve done something wrong.

You watch his mouth work furiously in silence.

“So that it’s, right,” he mutters incredulously, “that’s what it is, you’re like- most people are like the ‘you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make it drink’ sort of deal but you’re just like ‘what water’ and then walk across that lake like you’re jesus, suspended by the magical power of denial because the water doesn’t exist if you don’t want it to, that’s your deal, isn’t it?”

You have no idea what he’s talking about.

His lip curls in visible frustration. “No, okay, it’s like, I thought this was just you being polite because you didn’t want to hurt my feelings or something even though sometimes there’s pretty obviously some shit going on under that hat sometimes that kind of says otherwise and it’s confusing as hell but I thought I had it figured out, I guess, and now I’m pretty sure I really didn’t, I think you do this thing where you just don’t see what you don’t want to see.”

You are genuinely very perplexed, and somewhat concerned. He seems very agitated. Maybe he should rest.

He just stares at you.

“Oh my god, it’s like you have an off-switch for comprehension. Like, I’m almost kind of impressed but that’s also really annoying, I’m not gonna lie.”

You frown.

“It’s somewhat unreasonable to expect that I would understand something I don’t believe you’ve discussed with me, David,” you chide.

Immediately after saying it, you’re beset by the feeling that this was a very unwise thing to say.

If you were to judge by his expression, it very well may have been. He looks quite displeased with you, perhaps even to the point of antagonism. You do hope that’s not the case.

You’re quite fond of Dave.

When he rises from his chair, you try to avoid tensing up- you don’t want to provoke him.

You’re about to speak when he interrupts you.

He doesn’t interrupt you with his words, however.

He interrupts you with his knee, sinking it down to rest in the space between your thighs, without provocation or warning.

You are, understandably, a little startled.

He interrupts you again by placing first one hand on your shoulder, and then the other on your face.

You get approximately as far as “What are you-?” before he’s kissing you.

And he is kissing you.

Even your capacity for wilful ignorance lacks the speed and finesse to outrun and explain away the suppositions that this sort of behaviour must suggest.

He is kissing you with all the reckless fervency of frustration, hands fisted into the collar of your shirt, but he is kissing you, nonetheless.

He is kissing you, and it is warm and wet and faintly sweet with orange juice and bitingly bitter with tequila. He is kissing you, and it is both a belligerent challenge and a desperate coaxing.

He is kissing you, and you have no idea what to do.

In your panic, you are simultaneously thinking about too much altogether and nothing at all.

There are insectile thoughts creeping out from under the wallpaper faster than you can quash them.

When his lips pull away from yours, you feel, rather than hear, him say, “Don’t misunderstand me,” and you are slightly terrified to realize that you don’t.

To say that you are at a loss would indicate a degree of composure you simply do not possess at the moment.

You think, perhaps, that he’s had too much to drink, and cling to that thought.

He growls in aggravation when you suggest this to be true, but his leg removes itself from between yours. You are somehow both incredibly relieved and strangely conflicted.

The substitution of it for the weight of him in your lap was unexpected, however, and for a moment you fear your heart may have given out from the shock.

You don’t know what to do with your hands. You barely register that you have them except to hold them up in a stance of confused surrender.

He looks at you and sighs heavily.

“You’re flipping your shit,” he tells you, “stop flipping your shit.”

You are not flipping anything, this is just very-

“No, seriously dude, you’re flipping shit like only an Egbert can, I can see where John got it from, jesus.”

You’re disturbed by the insinuation of that.

He looks disgusted. “What? Ew, no. John’s my bro, gross.”

And you’re John’s father.

“I mean bro figuratively, stop flipping the fuck out and making weird comments and talk this out with me, jesus christ.”

You might feel better equipped to do that if he didn’t have his thighs wrapped around your waist.

“If I get up, you’re going to abscond the fuck out of here and then pretend nothing happened for the rest of forever but also probably not let me leave and we are just going to be the awkward moment, it’s gonna be us, we’re gonna be the dictionary definition of a whole new word dedicated to what happens when someone unsuccessfully macks on their best friend’s dad, man.”

You’re strangely divided between comfort at the thought that he’s just sitting on you to keep you in place and a peculiar feeling of resentment.

He hooks a finger behind the knot of your tie, and you feel your face going hot in mortification.

“Don’t get me wrong, daddio, I’m not being altruistic,” he laughs.

You feel the fingers of his other hand tracing your jaw.

“Hey, look at me. Come on, man, you’re weirding me out.”

You look at him and immediately regret it.

You’re close enough that you can see his eyes through his glasses- just faintly, but enough to match them to the expression on the rest of his face. Your mouth feels very dry. You taste something burnt.

Distantly, you’re aware that it’s likely a mixture of whiskey afterburn and the smoke that seems to linger in your sinuses from years of indulgence, but you still have the strange feeling that you’re having a stroke.

You almost hope that you’re having a stroke.

You’ve lost control of your life.

He kisses you again, and you should stop him, but it’s slower, sweeter, this time, and you don’t. His hands travel down and over your shoulders, around to the back of your neck, where one of this thumbs is tracing a shivering line down the nape of your neck, and you have absolutely lost control of your life.

He makes a vaguely uncomfortable noise in his throat and you swallow in apprehension.

“Okay, so-” his voice sounds thick in a way you find strangely maddening “-I, uh, I just kind of need a yes or no answer for this because normally I’d just assume that is was a no sort of thing because if it’s not a yes then it’s a no and all that jazz and I’mma respect that because I don’t want to be a dick and I feel like my bro is going to come crawling out of the oven like the girl from The Ring and beat my stupid ass if I don’t because he came out of my ceiling once when this guy was being pushy with me which is mad fucked up for all kinds of reasons and the guy shit the bed, like actually shit the bed and I needed a new mattress but I’m getting off-track and what I’m saying is that it seems like you’ve kind of been doing a really extreme version of that thing John does when he doesn’t want to admit that he wants something, so-”

He takes a deep, whooping breath. His fingers are working at the back of your collar. It’s incredibly distracting.

One of his legs is bouncing nervously. It’s even more distracting.

“-so I feel like this is maybe like that except that he shit talks stuff to make it seem like he doesn’t want it and you just don’t talk about it at all which is smarter but not really helpful in clarifying things for me, and I want to be able to say ‘no pressure bro it’s cool’ but I’m not going to lie, I’m really sort of hoping you’ll say yes, I mean obviously I want you to say yes but I’ll totally respect it if you say no I just need you to say something so I can get on with my life because I’ve been a big miserable bag of dicks to you for the past month and I don’t wanna be like that, I just need to know so I can go hide in my room until I graduate and everything can be totally cool, okay?”

You’re having some difficulty processing this. You don’t feel capable of speech yet.

He shifts uncomfortably and mutters, “yeah okay I’m just gonna go,” and you grab his waist in a fit of panic and say something very stupid.

‘I don’t know what you’re asking me,’ ” he repeats slowly.

You’re mortified.

Dave makes a strangled sound of rage.

“Just say yes, you asshole, holy shit, you can say no later if you change your mind.”

You say yes. He kisses you.

You kiss him back and run your fingers through his hair and revel in the sound he makes in the back of his throat when you slide your hand under his shirt and wonder what happened to your sense of decency.

You were supposed to be a gentleman.