"Six Things Rex Loves About Six"

These are the things Rex loves:

Six's voice, a low bass. Six wakes in the morning and sings Johnny Cash, voice so mournfully soft that Rex has to strain to hear it over the running shower, but he always does. Rex hates Cash. And country. And music made before he was probably born. But he needs those sad, sad tunes like he needs breath, and he ends up learning every word.

(When Six finds out, he tells Rex to quit listening, but he doesn't stop singing; in fact, Rex never needs to strain to hear again.)

Six's eyes, green like grass after the rain. Six wears sunglasses like most people wear tattoos most of the time but when he does take them off . . . like turning over litter on the beach and finding sea glass. Hiding his eyes is probably good, Rex decides-because you can't fear a man with eyes like that. With sunglasses, you only saw the intensity, the way they could burn to the very core of you. But you couldn't see the light.

(Six doesn't wear them in the apartment; Rex'll hide them otherwise but eventually it just becomes habit: door locked, keys on hook, sunglasses and shoes off.)

Six's scars, paler than pale. They're thin, scraggly lines, starting from nowhere and ending abruptly, like lightning on the skin. Rex traces each one, hears the story replay in his head as he does it. This one from a mock battle, this one from an EVO, this one from a bullet, this one from a whittling incident when he was eight (Six whittles, he whittles, and somehow the joke never gets old).

(The joke really doesn't get old; Six spends the next five years unsubscribing from woodworking magazines.)

Six's ass . . .

(Six has no comment. An ass is an ass and he's always hated flirting, but he'll take the compliment anyway.)

Six's smile, rare. It's always small and distracted, more out of reflex than choice. His body wants to smile, is Rex's theory; it's just that Six's humor is Sahara-dry, nursed by too many British satires. With laughter impossible, Rex never knows what could tilt those lip corners up. Sex, but that's a given; Six was stoic, not dead.

(Six smiles for: Rex, the President, Blackadder, and the Popeā€”at least, he would smile for the Pope, if the occasion arose).

These are the things that Rex loves, things that fling his eyes open in the pitch black of their room, when Six's slow breaths beside him are the only signs of a world outside himself. Things he never noticed, ten years old and being taught all the things he used to know, Six's hand tight around his shoulder (to scold or to comfort, it was all the same). Things no one else knows, no one is allowed to see, no one else has gotten this far to see. Things that, being twenty and inexperienced, Rex thinks are unique, and doesn't really care to look farther and find out if they're not. Because put them together, and you had Six.

That was the thing that really mattered.