Cecil had never seen the outside world except through pictures and windows. He had retreated to books most of the time, finding himself lost in the radio and television shows which drew out the hours so that they were, at the very least, survivable instead of boring. He couldn't go outside, couldn't leave, couldn't even do anything without using a video-chat and his brother.
Kevin had stopped by to drop off groceries just that morning, just like every Monday, but he hadn't stayed long, saying that he had had the flu for a few days and that it could still be contagious and that he wasn't trying to get Cecil into danger.
How perfect that his only human contact was cut short in a few minutes instead of a few hours like usual.
At least, of course, Cecil had gotten the foodstuffs he needed. Enough mac and cheese and hot pockets to last a while, a few types of meats as he attempted to simply cook without burning something. Which was rare enough in itself, without the added challenge of making a full meal.
AIDS was great. Just great. No problems, nope, none at all. Especially since the only way that seemed even possible to keep him safe from any sort of illness and the death that could possibly follow thanks to his weakened immune system was to stay inside and never leave.
He had been born with HIV; Kevin had been lucky enough to only be a carrier and not have it develop any further. Cecil had been left inside, and found a deep love for radio, music, and books as a coping mechanism. After all, if he couldn't see the world himself, perhaps those would be his eyes to the outside world. The radio always said the brighter news, and the presenter (Leonard Burton) always had such an interesting way of phrasing it that even as he grew older he still kept a love for radio.
He never got a chance to pursue that dream. He never got a chance to be the Voice like he wanted to. He never got a chance to leave the house, let alone visit the radio station. That didn't stop him from calling in whenever he could, just to have a chance to talk with a real, live, human being.
Leonard was fine with the young boy who loved his voice, and he enjoyed the company of the gangly teen he never could see. Eventually Cecil's mother got him an actual intern shirt, with a little nametag that said "Intern Cecil." He loved it, and wore it almost all the time.
But he didn't ever get to meet Leonard. He didn't ever see the station, or the host, or any of the amazing events that Leonard discussed in his show, "Welcome to Night Vale."
He grew older, losing his mother and growing out of the shirt that made him feel like he was normal, like he could possibly fit in. There wasn't anywhere near enough money for Kevin to buy him a new one, especially with college.
Cecil attempted to write, tried to find a publishing magazine that would take his writing. It never worked out. Kevin's writing thrived, and he did that on the side as well as two other jobs to provide for Cecil, himself, and his new girlfriend. An intern. Lucky. Kevin only got further and further ahead, finally making a life for himself; Cecil was left in the dust, cooped up in a house as old as him, trying with everything to make enough money to survive off of and pay Kevin for the groceries and such as he kept going onwards.
The same situation always repeated. Cecil didn't want to be alone. He stared out of his window, begging for someone to look back. A man strolled past, one hand in his lab coat pocket and the other on a dog's leash. The dog was a tiny shih tzu, but Cecil's eyes were drawn more to the man. His striking profile featured a square jaw and a small nose which barely held up his tortoiseshell glasses, and his black hair was pulled back into a ponytail that trailed down his sepia-colored neck. Cecil looked outside, and listened closely.
Snippets of music reached his ears. "...Don't know how I landed on this movie set....meo and Juliet'...ave noticed if we... everybody's got somebody but me." Cecil grinned, listening closely to the sound, studying the man. He was the one singing, Cecil noticed. He has a nice voice. Almost... Like caramel. That's it. Caramel.
The man with the shih tzu and the beautiful ponytail became an everyday appearance, Cecil watching him go by and trying to catch snippets of the songs he sang. Each day it was something different: This day Hunter Hayes's 'Everybody's Got Somebody But Me', the next Green Day's '21 Guns', the third ASAPScience's 'Science Love Song' (Which the man had CERTAINLY been getting into, which made Cecil laugh quietly). But each day, he had his Shih Tzu, and didn't even notice Cecil being there.
Cecil took a full week to grow confident enough to open the door and yell something to the man. But he waited by the door, staring, waiting for him, and mulling it over again and again. Was it the right thing to yell out? Of course. He just had to get the option.
The man appeared once again, and Cecil stood up from his chair by the door, grabbed the doorknob, and opened it, cupping his hands around his mouth after taking a deep breath of fresh air.
"HEY, YOU SHOULD SING SPACE ODDITY!" he yelled out, and slammed the door, sliding down before the man could turn to him. I just did that. Oh, no. I just did that. I'm not even wearing socks. Or actual pants. This was a bad move to wear this today. I'm such an idiot.
The man stared for a long time, and was still staring when Cecil finally get up. He waved slightly, and Cecil blushed before waving back.
The next day, just as Cecil had asked, the man was singing loudly. "Ground control to Major Tom. Ground control to Major Tom." Cecil stared out of his window, humming along. The man had his dog, but he was on the closer side of the street. "Take your protein pills and put your helmet on." Oh, his voice suited the song perfectly. Cecil stared at the man as he sang. "Ground Control to Major Tom. Commencing countdown, engines on. Check ignition and may God's love be with you."
Cecil stared even more, his mouth hanging open. He looked even more beautiful with that smile. How did he manage to make Cecil fall in love so fast? The man scrawled something on a slip of paper, and stuck it in the mailbox, still singing. But eventually, as Cecil had expected, his dog pulled him along, and away.
Cecil had to wait for Kevin's visit to ask him to grab the paper for him, and Kevin was beyond confused on how in the world there was a letter that Cecil knew was there.
"I saw him put it in," he stated, and glanced at the note.
Dear Major Tom:
I'd rather like to meet you. Text me, perhaps? 401-0145.
He laughed at the simplicity of the note, and searched in the house for his phone, shooting "Ground Control" a message immediately.
This is Major Tom to Ground Control. Come in 2morrow, w/o dog? Can't leave house.
The next day, there was an incessant knocking at the door that called Cecil forwards. This time, at least, he had worn pants. Actual pants. Shocker. He looked up at Ground Control, and blushed almost immediately.
"I didn't actually expect for you to listen to me," he admitted. "I thought you'd just-- You know, ignore my message."
"It's rare to actually get a message from Major Tom, sir." The man laughed. "I don't even know your name."
"Nor do I know yours, Ground Control. I'm Cecil. Palmer." He stammered slightly. "You're beautiful. I mean, a beautiful singer. Not that you're not beautiful too. You're very beautiful."
"I think you are too, Cecil. Carlos. I'm Carlos. Nice to meet you." Carlos stuck out a hand to shake, and Cecil smiled before taking it.
"Sorry about the message. I can't leave this place."
"Illness. Don't worry, nothing contagious."
"Hey, that's fine, I'm in the same boat. ADHD. Luckily the meds're working pretty well. You?"
"AIDS. And no, the meds aren't working as well as yours," Cecil tried to joke.
Carlos fell silent for a moment. "Sorry to hear that, I guess."
"Eh, it's fine. It's just a reason to stay in here and be safe."
The pair of them chatted for a long time, until Carlos's phone beeped, and he had to leave. "It's just science, I promise I'll be back tomorrow. Just remember, Major Tom: Take your protein pills, and put your helmet on," Carlos replied, getting up to go.
"Until tomorrow, Ground Control." Cecil answered with a smile.
Carlos didn't break his promise. The days continued like that, each day the pair never stopping to think about the time, discussing everything and anything. After the third visit, Carlos took to taking movies or tv shows with him to show Cecil, and they would watch that, talking away about who was attractive (Cecil rather liked Benedict Cumberbatch's hair, but Carlos preferred Martin Freeman's face) and the plot of the shows.
Until one day they couldn't.
Cecil fell ill with a bout of pneumonia that he couldn't recover from, and could hardly move from his bed. Carlos had to call an ambulance when Cecil didn't answer his knocking but answered a text with "Major Tom to Ground Control: I'm feeling very still, and I think my spaceship knows which way to go. I love you very much."
He passed away at the age of 27 in the hospital the next morning. They had only known each other for six months, and yet both of them had fallen in love. All because of AIDS, it hadn't worked.
Carlos had his say in the epitaph, at least: "The stars look very different today. For here am I sitting in a tin can far above the world. Planet Earth is blue, and there's nothing I can do. -David Bowie."
Ground Control to Major Tom: Goodbye, Major Tom. We've done all we can.