John hadn't been expecting much of Matt's new apartment. He knew from first-hand experience how hard it was to find something good and affordable at short notice.
Be nice, he'd told himself on his way over. Be supportive. Don't start talking about the kid getting a real job right away. Wait for a good opportunity to casually bring it up.
Matt had looked half-nervous and half-excited when he'd opened the door. He'd asked to see some ID first, which John had decided to file under 'cute' and 'nice try, kid' rather than 'annoying' and 'are you kidding me?'. (It wasn't a bad policy, per se.)
Then he'd stepped inside, taking in the scenery, such as it was and - "Wow."
Matt shrugged. "Yeah, well, I still had some money saved for a rainy day, so. Please, please, pretty please don't touch anything. You wouldn't believe how much I paid for some of those, or how hard it was to find them."
John stared at him. "This place is a dump. You had some money saved? Good for you. How about spending it on something useful next time. Like, oh, I don't know, a nice place to live? I mean, look at this. And this - what's this?"
"Wiring?" Matt suggested. "I'm sorry, was that supposed to be a rhetorical question?"
"Try fire hazard," said John. "Try 'an accident waiting to happen'. God."
Matt grinned. "I prefer 'Matt', but thanks. I'm flattered. And, you know, really feeling the love here, man. I mean, obviously, I only invited you to my house-warming party so you could come and criticize. And hey, what's that, a gift? You shouldn't have, really, you shouldn't."
John scowled. "You sent me an e-mail."
"Ohhhh," Matt said. "Right. My bad. Guess I should feel lucky you showed up at all, huh? On account of you checking your e-mail what - once a month? Twice? My bad. I'll send a carrier pigeon next time, how's that? Or smoke signals. Do smoke signals work for you?"
"And what kind of party only has two people?" John went on, not about to rise to the bait.
"Well, excuse me for having friends who either live on the other side of the world or who died when someone tried to destroy the country."
"Could've invited your new neighbors," said John. "I met one of them in the hallway just now. They seemed nice enough." Not anyone he'd tolerate coming within ten feet of Lucy, maybe, but okay. Ish.
"Well, I considered it, only then I remembered that you were a cop and it just didn't seem like such a good idea," Matt said. "So hey, you want anything to drink? Not that I'm trying to change the subject or something."
"Damn straight you're not." John went to survey the kitchen area. "And what's wrong with me being a cop?"
"You're right," Matt said. "I'm sure there's lots of cops who are also super nice people. My mistake. All right, I considered inviting other people, and then I remembered you were you. How's that work for you? Better?"
"This is what you keep in your fridge?" John asked, frowning. "Energy drinks? Seriously?"
"There's also an old pizza in there and some Thai food from this place two blocks from here. It's a good place. We should go there some time. You'll like it. My treat."
"I don't like Thai food," John said. "You should buy some vegetables. Eat real food."
Matt sighed. "What's next? I should be in bed by seven?"
"Ten's good," John said. "Depending on whether or not you need to get up early the next day."
"Whatever, man. You want a drink or not?"
"And what's this about you taking me out to dinner?" John said. " 'My treat', huh? What, you think I can't pay for my own food?"
Matt rolled his eyes. "Fine. Your treat, then. I'm sure you make lots of money."
John bit down on a comment about the number of hoops he'd had to jump through just to get to talk to someone who might, in time, get around to fix his 401k. He still had a stack of forms to fill out about that - and what was wrong with the world anyhow, he'd like to know, that there were actual forms for people to fill out when some asshole made their 401k go up in thin air?
"I get by okay," he said. "What about you?"
"I'm good, man," Matt said, grabbing an energy drink for himself. "And hey, is this a great party or what?"
John cleared a place on the couch and sat down. "I'll bring some plants next time."
"Plants." Matt slouched. "Hurray."
"What, you got something against plants, too, now?"
Matt raised his hands. "I'm just saying, your plants, your responsibility. Don't expect me to keep them alive or water them or anything."
"That's - what is wrong with you, huh?" said John. "Someone gives you a nice house plant, you say 'thank you'. You don't say, 'your plant, you responsibility'. Jesus."
"Again, that's not my name." Matt gulped down some energy drink, as if he felt he needed it.
John thought that if Matt needed anything, it was to stop drinking and eating crap, and start living more like a normal person. So maybe John wasn't exactly a role model for 'living like a normal person' himself, so what? Didn't mean he couldn't encourage it in others.
"Look," he said, "you don't want plants, fine. I'll get you something else. What do you want?"
Matt made a show of considering the question.
John mentally rearranged the furniture to allow for optimal use of space. A lick of paint might do wonders, too, he thought - and none of this stuff lying around everywhere.
"How's a live-in boyfriend sound?" Matt asked. "That in the cards at all?" He wasn't looking at John.
"Are you asking me to move in with you?" John blinked. "No. No way. Anyone be moving in with anyone else, it's going to be you moving in with me."
Matt frowned. "I just unpacked. You couldn't have said something sooner?"
"That wasn't an invitation," John said, then thought about it. "All right, maybe it was. So how about it?"
"I'll take it under consideration," Matt said.
John told himself this was a good development. A good thing. "You done yet?"
Matt got up. "Nope. You hungry? How about we get something to eat? Not Thai, maybe, but something else. Algerian? Japanese? Italian?"
John sighed. "Kid - "
"Matt," Matt said. "You want us to use pet names in private, that's negotiable, but right now, my name's Matt."
"It's a simple question. Yes or no."
"Any chance I could get some romance out of this?" Matt asked. "Like maybe you could go down on one knee or something, or hey, how about an e-mail?"
"Fine," John said. It wasn't, really, only being in love sometimes meant you had to compromise. "Matthew Farrell, will you move in with me?"
"Can I get a 'please'?"
"No," John said. "And hurry it up, will you? My leg's hurting."
"Sure," said Matt. "Why not? I've got nothing to lose but my sanity. Oh, and my 'stay up late' privileges, of course."