Considering that it’s the middle of the summer, it really isn’t that hot. A windstorm is about to hit the city, but it only cools the temperature, can’t really make any damage in these solid, built-in streets.
However, Kaemon couldn’t focus on dressing up, he felt so hot, like any of the wind couldn’t make it into his room. After so many months of Peter taking a business trip, he comes back suggesting a double date. With strangers! He said he made a new friend who’s also dating a boy, and that he and Lais should meet that other couple. Why would he come up with this, when he’s among the few people who know how Kaemon can’t hang out with strangers? And Lais will be there too. And two other guys. He can’t do it. It’s just impossible!
- Kae, are you ready? Why are you sitting on the bed without your shirt on? We’ll be late. - Lais stops at the door.
- I can’t do it.
- They are strangers! I have no idea why would I meet them, and what on earth could I talk about with them. I don’t know them, they don’t know us. Why would Peter do this?
- Okay, slow down! - The blond sits next to his boyfriend who started breathing heavily, and puts his hand on his back. - We all know Peter. We and that other couple. And I’m sure he wouldn’t arrange this double date without a reason, so let’s find out what it is. If we can’t get along with them, we just leave and nothing happened, okay? I’ll be right next to you for the whole time, if anything happens, I’ll take care of the matter.
- Okay. Thank you.
- Sure thing! Now get dressed or we won’t make it.
As Kaemon puts on his shirt, Lais looks at him, smiling, suddenly feeling overwhelmingly happy.
He has a good feeling about this meeting. He can’t tell why, he’s never met the other boys; he only heard about them from Peter too, but somehow he’s sure that something good will happen from this.
On the other side of the city the wind is already calming down, heading forward, leaving a slightly freshened air that soon will turn hot and suffocating again. At least the sun is about to go down, so it won’t heat everything up until next morning.
- I still can’t believe you agreed to this. And you tricked me to go along! - Cameron is pacing up and down in their small home’s living room.
- Would you calm down? It’s just a double date.
- With strangers. Suggested by Peter. The Peter who’s associated with the murder of Tao. If Page or Amanda hears about this, we’re done for good.
- Our love and dating life is none of their business.
- Ugh please don’t ever say it again.
- What? Love life?
- Yeah, no.
- But we have a love life. We love each other.
- Would you stop now? Okay, I get it. Still, what if these guys are like James?
- Peter said they don’t have any powers and that they don’t even know about powers. So that’s off topic. Given, they can’t be like James.
- And you trust Peter? They still can be bad people.
- Don’t be so paranoid. I know you can’t trust anyone, but give them a chance. If needed, we can protect ourselves.
- Smartass shrink.
- I love you too!
- Kieran, just stop. Okay, I’ll go but I still don’t like it.
Kieran can’t help but smile at how his boyfriend worries so much. In his opinion, it’s a good opportunity to meet normal people, outside of the teams, and maybe they can become even friends.
Wouldn’t that be nice? Toying with the idea of making new friends, the black haired boy packs his bag and is ready to go in a few minutes. Cameron seemingly takes his time to tie his shoes and put on his jacket. Clearly he’s against this double date, but he was tricked, as he claims.
It happened that almost a year after revenging Tao, Kieran got a call from Peter. They met and talked about whatever, Cameron doesn’t care, but that time Peter told about the idea of this date to Kieran, who decided beforehand. When he told Cameron, he forgot to mention that his acquaintance who suggested the whole thing was Peter, so the blond agreed, and only later found out about the whole truth.
A few minutes before six Kaemon and Lais is standing outside a pub, waiting. There isn’t many people, thankfully, but Kae is obviously nervous, the blond can tell.
- They are late.
- Not really, we’re too early. - Lais checks his watch.
- I want to go home.
- Just bear with it for like thirty minutes, and if it’s still that bad, we excuse ourselves.
- Thank you. Look, I think that’s them. - The taller boy looks at two guys on the other side of the street, about to cross it, heading in their direction.
One of them has blond dreadlocks, and the other has short black hair with pink stripes on one side. That really must be them, basing on what Peter said.
It seems like they noticed them as well, because they are approaching.
- Hey, are you guys Lais and Kaemon? - Steps in front the black haired one.
- Yes, I’m Lais, and this is Kaemon, my boyfriend. - He extends his hand.
- It’s nice to meet you, I’m Kieran, and this is Cameron. - They shake hands, but the other two just stands around, seemingly uncomfortably. - Shall we head in to order? Then we could sit down outside, hence it’s still so hot.
- Good idea. Kae, would you like to sit already and wait for us? - The smaller boy nods and heads to a table.
- I’ll sit too. - Adds Cameron and follows the other.
- Weirdos. - Comments Kieran, to which Lais halts.
- Excuse me?!
- Ahh, sorry, I’m just teasing Cameron, I didn’t mean anything bad.
- Being mean to your own boyfriend is still not okay.
- Oh, please, teach me more about my relationship.
Lais and Kieran are face to face now, about to jump to each other’s throats, but Kaemon calls Lais’ name with a trembling voice.
- Hey, Kieran, these are jerks, let’s go home. - Turns the blond to the other as Lais rushes to Kaemon.
- What did you just say? - Lais turns to him slowly, still holding Kae.
- Okay, okay, I see what’s happening. - Kieran puts a hand on Cameron’s shoulder before he starts a fight. - Could we start again? - All three looks at him in silence, so he continues. - Well, the first and kinda only connection between us is Peter. I like Peter, he’s my friend, and I know you two are his friends too, especially Kaemon. However, my pal here really doesn’t like him. He has his reasons, but he hates him from the guts. That’s why he acts hostile. I can see that Kaemon battles some serious illnesses, and that Lais is protective of him. We should respect that, okay, Cameron? So let’s grab a beer and sit down to talk.
Lais seems stunned. For a moment he can’t move or react, but soon he regains control.
- How do you know about Kaemon and how our relationship works? Did Peter tell you?
- Nah, I just see it.
- He’s a goddamn shrink. Drives me crazy too. - Cameron rolls his eyes.
- I am not. That’s just a hobby of mine.
- So… - Kaemon speaks up quietly. - You know what my illness is?
- Let me see. - Kieran takes a seat across from Kaemon. - You tremble, breathe irregularly, sweat, and I bet your stomach feels tiny. Anxiety disorder for sure. To the extent of combining with panic disorder. Am I right?
- I can’t.
- He tries to hide his illnesses. He wouldn’t go to a doctor. - Lais explains.
- Here’s your beer, drink up. - Cameron comes back.
- You bought it? - Kieran looks up at him.
- Yeah, I went to get them because you didn’t seem to be able to do it.
- Sorry. You see, Kaemon here is ill. Anxiety and panic disorder. Refuses treatment. And how about therapy? - He turns back to the other.
- Again, he would have to tell about it to a doctor. - Lais answers.
- Yeah, I understand. Well, medication could help you though. Or overcoming the most stressful traumas. What was the stressor?
- Me. - Lais hangs his head.
- Oh, that so unhealthy, even I know it! - Adds Cameron.
- But we’re fine now!
- Hanging around you so much when you were the one to cause this, maybe it’s fine for you, but a battle for Kaemon. - Explains Kieran.
- Is it really, Kae? - Lais turns to him. To the lack of respond he buries his face into his hands. - Ah goddamnit.
For a few minutes they sit in silence, Cameron drinking his beer, looking bored. But he’s the one to speak first.
- You know, we aren’t healthy either. In a sense. I can see how Kieran is into you, Kaemon. But I grew to handle it.
- What are you talking about? - Lais’ eyes widen.
- You see, my freak here is too smart. His hobby is psychology and psychiatry and biology and technology and like every science field ever. But he has a degree in philosophy and he’s an artist. He needs constant stimulation. - Kieran listens to his boyfriend with honest interest. - Now that he met Kaemon, it’s interesting for him. We’re here in the first place because he wanted to be here. And it wasn’t like he begged me or tried to get me to agree with something nice. He tricked me. I can’t satisfy all his needs, his brain. But Kaemon could stimulate him for even a week, that’s why he’s priority for Kieran now.
- That’s kinda sick. - Lais doesn’t really know how to react to what he heard. - How can you still be together?
- We’ve been together for like five years now. But only started dating almost two years ago. We had our fights over these things and many others too. But we just love each other. I can tolerate him.
- Ah, how nice, thank you for tolerating me. - Kieran cracks a laugh. - But he keeps me human. I know I’m insane. I can’t really help it. Sometimes I go on these rampages of solving problems alone, because others would just bind me down. He gets me back from the rabbit hole. - Kieran smiles at Cameron and puts his hand on his.
- You two, what you have are unique. - Says Kaemon. - Listening to you surprisingly calmed me.
- It’s good to know that others have battles too.
- You know what, Kaemon. - Kieran leans closer. - It means you are better and smarter than those who don’t have battles. Look at it from this point of view: having battles is good. It makes you superior.
- But I don’t want that…
- It benefits you. There are people who wouldn’t understand a thing from what had been spoken at our table. I pity them. They look down on us, but as the bible says, stupid people are happy, or something like that. - This makes Kaemon laugh a little.
- Something like that. I’m guessing you aren’t religious.
- No, I’m not. Science is my religion. But the closest belief to me is Buddhism. That has scientific basics. The myth is just fairy tale though.
- That’s interesting. You made me fired up to look it up when I get home.
- Do that! If you’re interested, I can link scientific discussions on Buddhism to you.
- That’d be great, thank you.
Another silent period comes. Kieran watches Kaemon’s every move, who’s surprisingly calm and content and happy that the others turned out this nice. Lais is beating himself mentally, seeing how Kae is. Cameron just observes. He knows he should interfere with Lais’ mental fight, but he’s just too lazy to do that so he elbows Kieran to guide his attention to the suffering blond.
- Umm Lais?
- Can I guess that you have difficulties entertaining Kaemon?
- And now that you see him enjoying a night out with others, you wonder what you’re doing wrong.
- Are you a mind reader?
- Look, just don’t be nervous. If I can give you some advice, don’t overthink it. Clearly you love each other almost as much as we do, so it should be fine, whatever you say. And work on that encouraging Kaemon to tell you if something is off-topic.
- How do you know that? - Lais’ jaw drops.
- You watch your words around him, it’s pretty obvious.
- How can you deal with this? - Lais turns to Cameron, pointing at Kieran.
- Hardly. - Laughs the other blond.
- Hey, I just wanted to help!
- Nobody asked to.
- You did.
- Ahh, fine.
- You asked him to help?
- I just saw you’re feeling down so I told him.
- With hitting him in the ribs.
- And he knew what you meant.
- I guess he infected me with his observations.
- Ahh, I’m so proud of you. - Laughs Kieran, but Cameron isn’t impressed.
- Both of you are insane. - States Lais.
- You could say that. - Agrees Cameron.
- But you are good people. - Speaks Kaemon, making the insane couple freeze. - What, I can tell.
- We appreciate you saying that, even though we can’t agree. - Smiles Kieran and he visibly closed, hiding behind politeness.
- Did he hit close to home? - Teases Lais.
- We aren’t exactly good people. But we’re glad he thinks of us like that.
- No, I’m right. - Kaemon insists. - I am a bad person…
- No, you are not. - Lais cuts in, Kae ignores.
- …and I’ve dealt with plenty of bad people lately, so I know one when I see one. You two aren’t bad.
- Maybe our definition of good and bad differs. We don’t see you being bad either. Even though you can’t agree either. That’s fine, we can have opinions on each other, and we’re happy it’s a good one.
- I understand. - Nods Kaemon.
- You did magic on him, again. - Lais almost yells.
- What do you mean?
- I’ve been telling him he’s not a bad person for so long, but I could never convince him. You just did.
- No, I didn’t. We just agreed on the differences how we see good and bad.
- It’s fine. Maybe this meeting really was a good idea. Thanks to Peter. - Cameron groans to Kieran’s enthusiasm. - You should thank him too.
- What’s your problem with him anyway? - Lais tilts his head.
- Oh, you don’t want to know. - Hurries Kieran to answer. - Really, let’s drop this question.
Cameron turns his head and lights a cigarette. He offers the package around, and Kaemon takes one.
It’s already dark, even the Moon is up, the air starts to feel particularly cold.
They only realize it, but they spent hours talking and drinking. Everyone becomes uncommunicative, dealing with their own thoughts inside their heads.
- Well, it’s kinda late now. - States Kieran. - We should head home.
- Yeah, I’m getting tired too. - Lais agrees.
- It was nice to meet you two, maybe we should hang out again.
- Sure! - Smiles Kaemon.
- First I have to sleep out your brain games. - Shakes his head Lais, laughing.
- That’s understandable. - Cameron empathically nods.
They say their goodbyes to each other, and the couples go home.
- Can I go to your place tonight? - Lais asks, shyly.
- Yes. - Kaemon answers after a bit of thinking.
Lais smiles and holds Kae’s hand, who doesn’t retreat.
The insane couple goes to their small home and Cameron falls on the couch.
- See, it really wasn’t that bad. They’re nice. - Kieran sits next to him.
- No, seriously. Though the things you said to them…
- What things? - Cameron turns his head to face Kieran.
- About us. About me. Am I a bother to you?
- Are you really insecure about losing me?
- Yeah, I am. I always am.
- Liar. - Kieran stays silent. - I’m not leaving you, and you know that. So what’s this about?
- I need you. You really are important to me. And I’d do anything for you.
- I know.
- I’m not using you.
- I know.
- When did you become this confident?
- Hmm let me see… the process has ended this evening.
- I was watching you. You were mesmerized by Kaemon.
- But you stayed in line. You were with me. We were connected, even though you were busy concentrating on another guy. I knew I could count on you.
- Cameron. I love you so much and I’m so sorry for needing you. - The blond hugs the weeping Kieran and strokes his hair.
- It’s okay. I need you too.