Georgio thinks Domingo should just go fuck himself.

Or somebody else, for that matter.

"Goyo, we are not having this discussion."

"Could you possibly be any more gay, if you tried?" Georgio was not going to be distracted by such wilful use of a pet-name.

"Jesus, Georgio, you complete ass, could you be anymore inappropriate!" Dom flustered, complete with fluttering hand movements.

Dom didn't know it but he completely lost his masculine drawl and ocker language when he was flustered. Georgio quite likes that about him but he'd never make him do it in front of his mates. He's not a dickhead that way.

"Look, I'm telling you I don't care who you root," Georgio chose that moment in time to illustrate by pistoning his fists forward, then back, while thrusting his hips, "I support you and your lifestyle choices, so you can stop pretending."

"Stop pretending what?"

Georgio had so totally not heard Dom's best mate come in. Neither had Dom. He had a fairly shrewd idea about who was going to take the blame for it though.

"Hey Conall, Dom here watches Australian Idol," Georgio twisted at the waist and grinned like the bastard he was.

Dom glared at him with a mixture of surprised relief and brotherly annoyance. Georgio might have gotten off the hook completely if he'd chosen to say something that wasn't actually true. Although that wouldn't have resulted in such an authentic blush.

"You dick, I was changing the channels and you came in without knocking first or you wouldn't have seen it at all." Dom paused, "And that show isn't even on anymore!"

"Ah ha! How would you know that if you didn't watch it?"

Conall laughed while Dom spluttered about a lack of advertisements. Georgio used the moment to grab three beers from the fridge, he handed one to Conall, dropped the second in front of his brother and then opened his using the side of the kitchen bench. Dom turned towards him when he heard the bottle cap hit his fancy tile floor.

"You know I really hate it when you do that."

Georgio smiled around the mouth of the bottle.


Dom had cable television and Georgio loved it. He loved it so much that he didn't even get bored listening to Dom and Conall talk about stocks in front of him, so long as it was on. He also quite liked Dom's stock of beer because he sometimes had Heineken and Georgio couldn't really waste money on that. He occasionally mused that becoming a white-collar businessman would be worth being able to afford nice grog. Then he remembered that of all Dom's workmates only Con and that chick from Japan were tolerable.

Georgio was better off being a delinquent for a few more years, he was only twenty after all and he could mooch off Dom. He earned some decent cash working at the gym and it was a good place to meet the ladies. It was probably a good place to meet guys too, now that he thought about it. Perhaps he should tell Dom. It would be nice if supporting his brother's sex-life were yet another benefit to being him. Georgio wondered, over his Larger, if his work could be considered blue-collar.

Eventually, as it always annoyingly did, the conversation started to focus on that fact.

"So, Georgio, when are you planning to start a career?" Conall, nice bloke though he was, couldn't seem to fathom that not everyone wanted to work at Macquarie Bank.

"Um, never?" Georgio snorted, earning a displeased frown from his older brother.

"Aren't you sick of your flatmates?" Dom was trying to steer the conversation away from its current slippery slope while staying on topic.

"Are you still living with that angry blonde guy?" Conall had met Zan only once, at Coles and the two had taken an instant disliking to each other. "And that Muslim girl?"

Conall had been watching the footy on TV and thus missed Georgio's eyes narrowing. Dom tried to cough inconspicuously and failed miserably.

"Yeah. I am."

"Where's she from anyway? And I thought Muslim girls weren't allowed to live with men…"

"She's Australian, not that it matters, and all she does is keep her hair and stuff covered up."

"Bloody weird, wearing all that stuff on your head."

Somebody clearly needed to explain the phrase, "Only I can insult my mother," to Con. Georgio was about ready to start fuming in earnest when a single look from Dom stopped him cold. Dom's eyes were filled with the same intangible quality he used to get when their Mum first started to act a little funny. It was sort of like the look labs got when they'd done something wrong and desperately wanted your forgiveness. He'd given that look to Georgio's teachers while saying stuff like, "He's really a good kid…" right after Georgio had done something stupid. It was a look that said, "I love despite my better judgement."

Georgio mouthed, "You are kidding me," then stalked off to kitchen.

Dom mumbled some excuses and followed him. He ran a hand through his hair a few times before Georgio took pity on him and started to talk, carefully shifting into Castilian so Conall couldn't possibly overhear them.

"Look, fine, stay in the closet and date that girl Yaone from Osaka."

Dom paused, momentarily confused out of his embarrassment, "How do you even remember stuff like that, you don't even fill out voting forms correctly and you've only met her once."

"I'm a social animal, okay, just… He's too much of a jerk for you."

"Be fair, you weren't all that PC before you met Hala."

"I was always polite and where does he get off?" Georgio started sneering, "Where's she from, anyway? Fucking Anglo."

"Now who's being racist?"

Georgio harrumphed.

"I'm probably never gonna get to go there anyway, he's straight or he's pretending to be, can you please let it go?"

Georgio looked at is watch.

"Fine, I have to get home now anyway, I'm driving Jenny to school tomorrow."

"Speaking of things people should think twice about involving themselves in…"


"It could get messy, that's all I'm saying."

Georgio mimicked his brother and ruffled his own hair.

"She'll fit right in then."

Georgio walked out the kitchen, ignoring his brother's bitter grimace, and said goodbye to Con.


Georgio, true to his word, drove Jenny to school early the next day and dropped her off near the office. He knew that she'd wanted Zan there but he'd gotten roped into working the morning shift at his job. It was probably better that he wasn't there because Georgio got the feeling that she would have grabbed hold of him and refused to let go. Zan's ability to repel everyone worked in reverse with her.

She looked kind of sick as she grabbed onto her schoolbag and reached for the doorhandle. Georgio reached over and ruffled her hair. Jenny turned and glared at him before remembering where she was.

"Thanks for the lift, Georgio." She looked miffed, "Now I have to fix my hair."

"You look fine, I'm sure you'll have a great first day."

"Sure Goyo, you too."

She walked away with a straight back, despite the weight on her shoulders. Georgio only drove away once she was inside.


When Georgio got back from work that night, only Hala was in. She was kneeling in front of their coffee table, scribbling notes from a number of textbooks that she had out in front of her. He leant over the sofa and put his hands in front of her eyes, startling her.

"Guess who?"

"Georgio!" She exclaimed, delighted and relived. She turned around and lightly slapped his arm, "Scared the hell out of me."

Georgio pulled himself upright and laughed, "Have you eaten yet?"

"No, Zan took Jenny out for noodles and I didn't think you'd be home so soon. I'm not used to cooking for one anymore."

"I was gonna make something for me, what would you like?"

"Whatever's going, thank you."

They had pumpkin and chicken in the fridge, so Georgio made a stir fry with it. He'd eaten it once at a Thai place and he knew that it pretty much only took oyster sauce, chilli and basil, all of which they kept as staples. He added some fried egg because he liked it that way. There was enough rice left over from last night's hotpot that he didn't have to make any.

He divided the food into two bowls, leaving a little for someone's lunch tomorrow and brought it over to Hala. He plonked himself down and Hala shifted up to sit next to him. They left the TV off, savouring the silence. He felt more comfortable than he had in days.

"I'd almost forgotten that things don't have to be so crazy around here." said Hala, the mind-reader.

"You're right."

"We never get the chance to talk anymore, do we?" Her voice was soft but warm and so were her eyes.

Georgio remembered all the time they'd spent wasting time, in the days before she'd converted to Islam and all the time they'd spent ganging up on Zan almost immediately after. He'd been caught up with his family for all of January and Hala was always busy with university, even between semesters. Then there was Jenny to worry about and the affect that she had on all of them, especially Zan.

It was nice to have the aftershocks recede once more, Georgio liked reaching equilibrium.

"We can talk anytime," Georgio replied after a companionable pause, "We're not going anywhere just yet."

Hala smiled again and leant into his shoulder.

The front door slammed open, filling the house with Jenny's laughter and Zan's obstinant grumpiness. He was surprised to find that he welcomed the sounds. Hala made a pleased noise, at Jenny's joy or Zan fighting the inevitable. It all felt like home.

"We're just…" He started, trailing off into nothing.

"Yes, we are, aren't we?" Hala replied, happily taking another bite of pumpkin with a piece of chilli on it, "And you're a good cook."


Some words you may not know:

Ocker: Australian slang, with varying degrees of magnitude. Steve Irwin was about as ocker as they come, Dom has a businessman's voice but elongates his vowels when he's off work and says G'day a lot, generally.

Australian Idol: Exactly what it sounds like.

Grog: Alcohol of all kinds, although generally refers to beer and wine more than anything else.

Lab: slang for Labrador, not just laboratory.

Miffed: Annoyed with degrees varying between "not very" and "you're sleeping on the couch".