Jonathan put a hand over his mouth to stifle a laugh as he ground to a halt just inside the door to his apartment. After an ordinary—i.e. tedious—morning of classes at the university, watching Zachary dance in place as he stood at the kitchen sink was just what he needed to lift his spirits. The song his boyfriend was blasting—American Authors’ “Best Day of My Life”—was the source of Jonathan’s amusement, because Zachary often teased him about his preference for folk music over the electronic dance tunes Zachary favored.
The day Zachary had officially moved in with him had been the best day of Jonathan’s life, eclipsing even the emotional high of the rescue in the south pacific he and his brother, Charles, had participated in over their winter break. Jonathan’s parents, while not entirely pleased about the move-in, hadn’t pushed back to the point where they’d threatened to cut off their financial support.
All-in-all, his parents had taken his announcement that he “played for the other team,” so to speak, surprisingly well. Of course, knowing his father, Jonathan couldn’t entirely discount the possibility that the man was simply biding his time, but with Charles firmly backing him, and his mother appearing to take his side as well, there was a good chance it wouldn’t become an issue later, either.
Jonathan dropped his backpack and took a deep breath of…something spicy. Zachary turned and exclaimed, “Darling!” with a wide smile. “Perfect timing.”
“Hey, Baby.” Jonathan crossed the room and gave Zachary a kiss. “What’s up?” Not that Zachary wasn’t typically cheerful, but there seemed to be something especially buoyant about his mood.
“A celebratory lunch.” Zachary arched a well-groomed brow as if inviting Jonathan’s guess, so he went with the most likely explanation.
“Something happen to Martin?” Not that Zachary would celebrate something bad happening to Martin, per se, despite there being no love lost between the two. But, the university’s theater department was producing the musical, “Cabaret,” Martin held the coveted starring role of the emcee, and Zachary was his understudy.
“Yes!” Zachary squealed and shimmied before stilling and placing a hand on Jonathan’s cheek. “But Darling, please don’t think I’m a sociopath, rejoicing in Martin’s misfortune. I wouldn’t wish that pain on my worst enemy.”
“Of course not.” Jonathan pulled Zachary in for a hug. “Congratulations, Baby. We can celebrate your opportunity and still feel sad for Martin at the same time.”
“Come on.” Zachary pulled away. “Let’s eat before this turns into a glommy mess.”
Jonathan scanned the debris field on the counter top and the sticky goop in the wok. That ship had already sailed. He reached for an empty plate. “Sambal fried rice?”
“Yes.” Zachary heaved an exaggerated sigh and placed the back of one hand on his forehead. “Please accept my advanced apologies for what will undoubtedly be questionable texture, but hopefully agreeable flavor.”
Jonathan laughed. “I’m sure it’s fine. Not like I can point fingers, anyway.” No doubt Jonathan’s recent disastrous attempt at making a chicken and broccoli stir-fry was behind Zachary’s indelicate snort.
A healthy portion of salad provided insurance, just in case the rice mixture’s taste matched its appearance. The sunflower vinaigrette was bottled, so it should be safe. Jonathan grabbed a couple sodas from the refrigerator and joined Zachary at the table.
“So what happened to Martin?”
“He was playing soccer, of all things. Seriously, sports and Martin? Anybody with half a brain would know that was an accident waiting to happen. I’m sure he was trying to impress Braaaaaad.” Zachary drew out the name with an accompanying eye roll. The less said about Zachary’s cheating ex, Brad, the better.
“Anyway…” Zachary took a bite of the rice dish then continued after a dramatic shudder. “He wrenched something or other, and now he’s got sciatica nerve pain. Says it’s like someone’s stabbing him with a pair of scissors all up and down his leg.”
“Oh, geez.” Jonathan winced at that visual. “Poor guy. How long is he going to be out?”
“Weeks!” Zachary eyes lit, then he bit his lip and threw back his head with a groan. “Gah! I’m such a horrible person!”
Jonathan took Zachary’s hand in his. “You are not a horrible person. I totally get that your glee is for your big break, not for Martin’s injury.”
“Thank you, Darling.” Zachary squeezed his hand. “I knew you’d understand. You’ll be there opening night, won’t you?”
“Of course, I’ll be there.” Heck, even when he’d thought Zachary was only playing a minor part, he’d planned on being there with bells on, and his brother, Charles, was flying in to surprise Zachary. And now? “Wild horses and a summons to testify in front of the SCOTUS couldn’t keep me away.”
Zachary’s shining smile was all the reply Jonathan needed.