The first time Adam saw Lawrence—after the bathroom, after the hospital, after everything—Lawrence looked good.
He stood in Adam’s doorway, a little shaky on his temporary prosthetic and leaning heavily on his cane, looking into Adam’s eyes with a smile that Adam hadn’t seen since the hospital. He had color in his cheeks, maybe from the cold outside, or maybe from seeing Adam again. The blue scarf he wore over his coat brought out his eyes.
He looked a little more like the handsome doctor Adam had photographed from afar. A little less like the broken man Adam had truly met for the first time in that bathroom, chained to a pipe. A little less like the man who had crawled, bleeding, across the floor, just to touch Adam.
A little less like the man who visited Adam in the hospital when he was allowed to, even though he was still recovering himself, who held Adam’s hand when they were alone and smiled at him in a way no one else had in a long time, who didn’t look much better than Adam himself but who was still the person Adam wanted to see the most.
Lawrence was still the person Adam wanted to see the most.
He smelled good, too. It was a dramatic improvement from the bathroom or the hospital. It made Adam want to get closer.
Adam studied Lawrence’s face, looked into his kind blue eyes, and felt lucky for once in his life.
“It’s good to see you,” Lawrence said. Adam could tell that he meant it.
It was good to hear.
Lawrence took Adam out into the cold December afternoon, and held Adam close by his arm as they walked through the city crowds.
Lawrence asked Adam out to a movie in January. Adam had nothing better to do, and even if he had, he would have gone with Lawrence anyway.
Adam was lonely without him.
The realization crept in on him more and more as time passed. Spending time with Lawrence was what Adam looked forward to most. Luckily, they went out often.
Adam suspected that Lawrence hadn’t had a friend outside of work in a while.
Lawrence picked Adam up from Adam’s apartment, as he often did. They walked together to the nearest theater. Once there, Lawrence bought a large popcorn for the two of them to share and a pack of M&Ms for Adam. Adam chose the movie, a horror flick he’d wanted to see. During the scary parts, Lawrence held onto Adam’s sleeve and laughed at himself for it afterwards.
After, they walked to the park together and sat on a bench, watching the movement of the city.
Lawrence stared into the distance. Adam didn’t mind. After a moment, Lawrence turned to him, his eyes stormy, and said, “Alison and I are getting a divorce.”
Adam didn’t know what to say, so he didn’t say anything. He put his hand on Lawrence’s forearm, not quite touching him through the thick wool of Lawrence’s coat and the cotton of Adam’s glove, and it seemed to be enough.
Lawrence’s touch made Adam feel safe. It was probably residual from the bathroom, and Adam was safe now, but he took it for what it was worth and touched Lawrence whenever he was allowed.
One of the small touches Adam clung to was the touch of their knees when they watched movies on Adam’s couch.
It turned out to be a good pastime for them. With the weight of everything there was to talk about, it was sometimes better not to. So they put on a distraction, enjoyed each other’s presence for an hour or two, and had something new to talk about afterwards.
Lawrence was alone on Valentine’s Day.
Adam wanted to help him be a little less alone, even if he wasn’t the company that Lawrence might have wanted. He took Lawrence to a bar and let him drink. Let him forget.
At the dim lights of the bar counter, Adam kept his arm wrapped around Lawrence’s shoulders. Adam wasn’t so drunk that he couldn’t get Lawrence home, but he was drunk enough that he didn’t care that he was clinging to Lawrence.
Adam might have let Lawrence drink a little too much. He thought about apologizing in the morning, but whatever, he thought. That didn’t matter as much as everything else that was going on. Lawrence’s divorce. Their shared recovery, a continual pull, like they were still trying to crawl out of that bathroom. Well, like Lawrence was still trying to crawl. Adam had been dragged out, unconscious, by emergency personnel.
He probably wasn’t dragged out. He was probably lifted out on a stretcher. It wasn’t as if Adam remembered. He had woken up in the hospital.
Adam’s apartment was closer than the hotel Lawrence was staying in. At the end of the night, he took Lawrence there instead. Lawrence made little protest, passing out on Adam’s couch almost instantaneously. Even though Adam’s bedroom was just a doorway away, he hesitated to leave Lawrence alone. When he thought about it, he decided he really didn’t want to. He slept in his armchair instead.
Even though his neck was killing him in the morning, Adam slept better than he had in months.
Adam woke to the sound of knocking at his door. He thought about ignoring it, but as he rolled over in bed, the question of who it was weighed on him. Reluctantly, Adam got up and made his way through his apartment in the dark, leaving the lights off to soothe his eyes.
When he opened the door, squinting at the hallway lights, there was Lawrence. “Hey,” Adam said.
“Hey.” Lawrence smiled. Any annoyance Adam felt from being woken up melted away. “I’m sorry to come so late. It’s just that… I’ve been having trouble sleeping, since, well. And I thought... I just thought that, maybe… Can I sleep on your couch again?”
“Do you want to sleep in my bed?” Adam probably wouldn’t have suggested it if he were fully awake. But something about the late hour made him think less, and feel more. He was glad Lawrence was here. He wanted Lawrence to always be here.
Lawrence sighed, his whole body relaxing in relief. He nodded, hesitantly, as if Adam would withdraw his offer. But Adam didn’t.
After locking the front door again, Adam went back to bed, and Lawrence followed. Adam looked away while Lawrence undressed to his boxers and undershirt.
Lawrence climbed into Adam’s bed. It was big enough for the two of them. The space they shared under the blanket was intimate, warm.
Adam hadn’t shared a bed with someone in a while. This was different—of course it was—but it was nice.
He didn’t have to worry about his nightmares. He didn’t have to worry about waking up in the dark, paralyzed with the fear that he was still stuck in that bathroom until he remembered that he was safe. That Lawrence had helped him get out. That Lawrence was just a phone call away at the farthest.
The late night phone calls were one way for Adam to soothe his racing heart. This was better, though.
Adam watched Lawrence’s face in the dim red light of his alarm clock and thought, in the moments before he fell asleep, of kissing Lawrence. Later, when Lawrence was awake. Adam thought that it would be easy. He thought that Lawrence would let him, at least at first. He dozed off comfortably before he could get to what would happen next. In the morning, Adam forgot that train of thought, focusing instead on how close he had gotten to Lawrence during the night, and whether Lawrence would want to stay for breakfast.
Eventually, Lawrence went back to work, and Adam went back to not doing much aside from his PI odd jobs. He still needed the money. Lawrence paid for the meals they ate together, and even bought Adam groceries occasionally, but Adam felt guilty relying on him too much.
The summer came and went. Adam had a little more energy, and his shoulder ached a little less. Between work and Diana, Lawrence had little time for Adam.
Then, September came, and Diana had school and extracurriculars. Lawrence had free evenings more often, and Adam took full advantage of those. They settled into something, again. Watching movies on Adam’s couch. Going out to dinner. Spending time with each other, because no one else understood.
It was a rainy October day. Almost a year since they met. Adam sought shelter under Lawrence’s umbrella.
Lawrence was treating Adam to a movie. This time, Lawrence chose the film. It was a drama, and from what Adam could tell it seemed kind of boring, but he would let Lawrence have his boring movie if it meant that they could spend time together.
Adam had grabbed the umbrella after Lawrence let him get wet one time too many. It was an awkward maneuver, since Lawrence was taller, but they made it work. It freed up one of Lawrence’s hands to rest on the small of Adam’s back. Lawrence tended to put his hand there, whenever he and Adam walked together. Adam wondered if Lawrence even noticed he was doing it. They never talked about it. Adam hesitated to bring it up, fearing that it would make Lawrence stop.
They were standing on the corner, waiting for the traffic light to change. The wet asphalt sparkled under the slow traffic. Adam curled up to Lawrence, away from the rain and the cold.
He thought about kissing Lawrence, not for the first time (or the second, for that matter). It would be easy—or would it? Did Lawrence want him to? Did Lawrence think about it? Adam couldn’t find the courage to ask.
It was easier, after all, not to talk.
Adam was already so close to Lawrence.
It would be easy.
Ah, what the hell, Adam thought. He rose up on his toes, steadying himself with his free hand on Lawrence’s shoulder, and kissed him.
(It was easy.)
It was gentle. Lawrence’s breath stuttered at the touch of Adam’s lips.
Lawrence kissed him back, just barely. Just enough to let Adam know that, yes, he did want it. Yes, he did think about it, of course he did.
After they broke apart, Lawrence wrapped his arm snug around Adam’s waist and held him close. They watched the traffic light in the rain, both a little light-headed from the revelation.
After a moment, Lawrence said, with a small smile on his face, “You could have kissed me any time, you know.”
Adam frowned, but the warmth in his chest stayed. “How the hell was I supposed to know that?”
“I haven’t made it clear how I feel about you?”
Lawrence bent down to press a kiss into Adam’s temple. “How about now?”
Adam huffed. “Try again.”
“Later.” Lawrence looked up; the light had turned green. With his arm still snug around Adam’s waist, he led Adam across the street. “I promise.”