"W'cha got there?" Chris asked as he slid into the booth across from Nick.
"Rice bowl." He replied without looking up. "What are you doing here?"
"I was in the neighborhood." Chris shrugged and reached for Nick's drink. He sucked through the straw and made a face. "I hate Dr. Pepper."
"I didn't order that for you."
"Yeah. Well." Chris shrugged and sat back. "So."
"Is that good?" He looked at the rice bowl in front of Nick. His fork was sticking out of one end and the only thing that looked eaten was the half of an egg roll sitting on top.
Nick sighed and looked up at Chris through his floppy and unbrushed hair. "What are you doing here?"
"I was in the mood for Chinese food." Chris took the fortune cookie from Nick's tray and opened it. "Let's see " He cracked the cookie open and pulled the printed piece of paper out. "Life is short. Apologize while you can, even if you weren't at fault." Chris read slowly, though he made up the words on his own.
"That's not what it says." Nick made a face and brought the greasy egg roll to his mouth with his fingers.
"Yeah huh." Chris crumpled up the paper and stuck it in his pocket.
"I'm not apologizing."
Chris shrugged with one shoulder and took another sip of Nick's Dr. Pepper. "Hey man it's just a fortune cookie. What does some cookie know about your life anyway?"
"Nothing." Nick said around the half chewed egg roll in his mouth. He took his drink back and washed down his mouthful then wiped his mouth with the crinkled napkin. "I don't see him coming around here saying he's sorry. Why should I?"
"Well. You could be the bigger man."
"I could be the bigger man by apologizing for walking into his house and catching him making out in the hall right in front of me? How would that make me bigger? What do I have to be sorry about?"
"Um. Well I'm thinking you could apologize for trashing his living room. Or for kicking the shit out of his car door. Or you know for punching him in the face."
"I wasn't aiming for him, I was aiming for Wade."
"Yeah but he doesn't know that."
"I would never hit him."
"But you'd hit Wade?"
"In a heartbeat." Nick looked up as he put his hand on his fork and lifted a bite of rice and chicken to his mouth.
"It takes two."
"I should punch them both?"
"So not where I was going with that." Chris shook his head and looked over Nick's shoulder at the menu. "I'm just saying that if you're mad at Wade you're mad at the wrong person. Wade isn't seeing anyone. He wasn't breaking any rules."
"Um. Yeah. He was making out with my boyfriend." Nick dropped his voice and licked a stray piece of rice from his lower lip.
"He didn't know."
"How would he know you were seeing him?"
"How did you know?"
"Because I know everything." Chris shrugged. "He has this thing where he has to tell me everything because he thinks it shocks me but it doesn't."
"He tells you everything?"
"Yep." Chris sighed and looked at Nick's rice bowl, craving a piece of the sweet and sour chicken covering the top.
"The night with the candles? And the wax in the hair? Yeah. Everything." Chris reached across and stole a piece of chicken while Nick's mouth gaped open.
"Way." Chris chewed, then paused to lick his fingers. "Wow. That really is good. Be right back." He jumped up and went to the counter to order while Nick collected himself and took another couple bites.
When Chris returned with a rice bowl of his own he looked like a lion scoping out it's fallen prey. He carefully turned the bowl around to view it from every angle as steam rose from the mound of sweet and sour chicken. "So."
"What?" Nick erased his look of wonder and replaced it with a frown.
"So are you gonna go apologize or not?"
"Okay." Chris shrugged and took a bite, leaving his mouth hanging open as he breathed. "Haahg." He fanned at his mouth with his hands then swallowed as fast as he could while his eyes watered. "Hot."
"You'd think the steam would have given you a hint." The corner of Nick's mouth turned up in a smile.
"Bite me." Chris went in for another bite, but blew on it first. Nick finished his rice bowl in silence while Chris made several other sounds of pain and loud chomping as he tried to eat his. When Nick was done he sat back in the booth and crossed his arms over his chest just to finish watching Chris.
"He told you about the wax?" Nick asked when Chris' meal had cooled down enough for the older man to eat with his mouth closed.
"Yeah." Chris swallowed, then took another drink of Nick's soda. "Kids." He rolled his eyes, then slid the soda back across the table. "Shit like that is only sexy in porno flicks or whatever."
"Mmm hmm." Nick made a soft sound of agreement.
"Listen. He just tells me that kind of thing because he thinks it shocks me. He should know by now that I've been there done that with half the things he's telling me, and the other half is stuff that JC's already done because Jace is one freaky mofo."
"JC tells you everything too?"
"Yeah. And dude. If you think we don't know about the make out session you and him shared after the VMA's a couple years ago, you are sadly mistaken." Chris shook his fork at Nick. "I swear. Would it kill you to stay in your own band or something? I mean, we don't send Lance out to sniff around Howie's toosh or whatever."
"Howie's - "
"Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Listen, it doesn't matter. It was an example." Chris shook his head and shoveled another bite of rice into his mouth.
"Hmmm." Nick shrugged and stared out the window. He wondered for a minute why he didn't just get up and leave. Chris was a big boy, he could finish his meal on his own. But something kept him there, and he didn't want to admit that it was concern.
"So." Chris said again as he stuck a big piece of chicken in his mouth. He chewed for a minute, then swallowed most of it and wiped his mouth with a napkin. "His nose isn't broken and he didn't lose any teeth."
"I didn't hit his nose." Nick frowned.
"Well it's all bruised and everything. Maybe he hit it when he fell. Who knows? But it's not broken."
"Okay." Nick shrugged and tried to act uninterested.
"His lip is all swollen though. He looks like Rocky kinda."
"Not that I've seen him really. I went by yesterday to drop off some shit he left at my place last time he actually stopped by, which I've gotta tell you, was a damn long time ago. He's been all wrapped up in 'Nick likes candles', 'can you believe we did it in the pool?', 'I can't wait to see him again!' and shit that he's ignored the fuck outta me. I was gonna give him what for but he didn't look like he was in the mood for any kind of good natured ribbing."
"Hrmph. I bet."
"So yeah. You messed up the pretty boy, but that's okay with me. I mean. Yeah. He deserved it."
"You think so?"
"Think so? I fuckin know so. He's had it coming for a while now. I'm just glad you did it and not me because you can at least pull the 'man scorned' card. All I'd have is the 'asshole best friend' card." Chris sighed and reached for Nick's drink again. "He deserved to be hit, I'm not arguing with you there. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't apologize."
"If you're gonna keep harping on that I'm gonna leave."
"I'm not keeping you here man. You wanna leave go ahead. Just leave your drink." Chris raised his eyebrow, then stuck the straw in his mouth.
Copyright © 2002, Amy Lynn