Efren’s fingers stilled on Marc’s sleeves. This couldn’t be happening! He was sure he was screaming in his head, but he couldn’t voice it, sinking in his own head. Suddenly, a pair of strong arms grabbed his wrists and pulled him back up on the surface. He looked up and his eyes widened. Marc Menad was laughing! At least his mouth was, despite his eyes remaining untouched.
Marc’s smile grew wider. “I haven’t seen you so lively since… well, never.” He nodded. “I like it.”
“You might grow tired of it.”
“I don’t think so.”
Now it was Efren’s turn to get beet red and smile.
“You finally decided to get your head out of your ass and stand up against the trio – that’s something.”
“I haven’t done anything yet.”
“You made the decision. That’s a good start.” He turned slightly to look at the clock behind him and winched. “But the reasons, why you would like us to move are not as noble as your half-cooked brain is providing. I gotta go.”
He gave him a quick peck on his cheek and there it was again, that uncertainty of who he was written all over his gorgeous face. Just a moment ago he had been babbling happily away with enthusiasm only kids possess and now he was back to thinking like a responsible adult. Damn he hated that. He wanted that kid back. He squeezed his hand firmly one more time and then Marc was gone again.
“Marc should credit himself more!” he sighed. The man believed they would ruin their life if they moved in too soon – they were practically living together already! Five years spent together almost every other day counted for something.
The moment Marc left, he went back to the computer and stared at it for a while. He hesitated. Marc would veto it all and he guessed it was wrong to force him into his own pace. It wasn’t Marc’s fault he didn’t have time. Perhaps, keeping that in mind, he should not pull them in at all? Do it on his own? Or should he even be thinking on doing it in the first place, when all he might have left would be the next few months? Maybe less?
They would win. That was the only cold reason stuck in his head. He didn’t know when it had turned into a competition, but there it was – they would win, because in the end he would die and they would stand next to his coffin in his funeral and still know that they got what they wanted. He would have kept to the contract until his last breath. And how pathetic would that make his life? Used to the very end and he’d let them.
So, he reasoned, moving his finger over the keyboard and typing in new set of specifications – single bedroom, kitchen and living room towards south. He wanted it to be warm. Enter. Search.
Efren moved his mouse to the small x in the upper right and hovered over it. Rethought and moved it back on the menus. They wouldn’t think twice about using him – why was he still hesitating?
It wasn’t fair to Marc nor Pearl to drag them both into it. So what if the man wanted to wait, perhaps see him pulling through before trusting to take up relationship with him? Marc had lost his wife and he could see it being difficult to do it again. He wanted to imagine Marc by his side, his strong chest beneath him while he tried to hold back his tears or his fingers entwined his on his bedside while he went through it, but the idea of unintentionally forcing him through the same ordeal as he’d had with his wife made his stomach churn horridly. All the hours he could do something else. He didn’t want to see him frowning while he worriedly turned around and their eyes met or watch the strong man shatter under the extra weight. Pearl needed him and in his eyes he would never come first.
Who was to say he’d actually stay by his side in the first place? His heart ached at that thought. He’d choose Pearl for sure and he didn’t have to think twice to know he was absolutely OK with that decision. He’d choose her too, if they would be any closer. She was the Sun in his life and he was grateful for being able to share it with Marc.
He realized the corners of his eyes were watery and he quickly brushed them dry. He checked the time on the wall clock and shuffled through the papers on the corner of the table. He had to forget this for now and concentrate on work. There was something comforting about reading lists of mundane things that provided nourishment at the same time. He knew it must seem masochistic to people if they knew his own body needed completely different food to actually survive. Food in its normal sense did nothing besides keeping the corpse from sagging. It had to be held prim and shiny, muscles filling up the skin. Like cactus – without water it withered and was hard to get back in shape. Yet when it came to food – it needed almost none of it really.
Alright, Efren decided while reading the next suggestion on changing the flour brand, he’ll respect Marc’s wishes and leave them out of his plans. If it really came down to it, he knew he wouldn’t have the heart to put Marc and Pearl through losing another loved one. He’d distance himself when the time came. He’d do the right thing and go away. Maybe move further away? Marc would be furious, but if things came this far – anger would be better than inability to do anything to help.
Half an hour after work he had a small list of appointments and addresses to see. All of them were for apartments big enough for one.