Ohio is a shorn tooth strapped to northern land by routes like roots, or held loosely by the pulp of Marblehead and Sandusky to the Great Lake shore. Tennessee is a splinter in the palm of the States, cutting the blood flow from vertical veins with hyphenated names like the children of divorcees: Indiana-Alabama, Illinois-Mississippi. New York is a horse's head in the bed of the Northeast, Ontario like a muzzle holding closed the limp mouth as Long Island bleeds out the Hudson. Colorado is a box that he cannot think outside of.

Lately Sam has been thinking about the shapes of places.

The morning after Sam leaves him naked beneath the sheets Kurt showers and then stands in a towel watching fog fade from the bathroom mirror. His hands feel strange.

He washes them again in the sink but still they feel coated in oil, feel as though they will stain what he touches. He is a Midas of grime.

He inhales hot air through measured breaths as the mirror begins to clear. He wonders what his face will look like.

He turns the water on hot and watches steam rise from the sink basin.

When Sam awakens a kernel of his brain searches for his body. It lets waves loose like hunting dogs that drag echoes kicking and screaming back until he remembers his edges, feels the direction of gravity. So he can identify "down." Far too easily. But which way is up? God, which way is up?

Kurt's fingers riot in the creases between keys on the house phone, so it is three tries before he gets Blaine's number right. Kurt's cell is silenced and wrapped in one of Finn's hoodies beneath Kurt's bed.

He is sick with lying. Lies hiccup bile in his blood and dissolve like sugar on his tongue. He is wrenched side to side on a cloying sea.

He consoles himself: There is no truth, no intrinsic truth. There is a word for that—something intrinsically true. It is on the tip of his tongue. What is it?

It is bullshit.

Why is he calling? He doesn't remember. Blaine's perky voicemail message ends. Beep.

"I'm—there's something I need to tell you." He will lie and tell the truth at the same time. "It's this: I'm in love."

He places the phone on the receiver. What it is, damn it? What is the word?

Sam lies fully clothed in an empty home. The motel room floor is bare. He wonders briefly if he has awoken to a portent.

But no. His phone complains from the nightstand with texts and missed calls from worried parents. He wonders if it counts as ironic that he is only three doors away.

There is nothing from Kurt.

The neighbor's cat gives him uncertain looks from the adjacent bed but does not stir as he stands. Sam scratches her behind the ears. "Take my calls, would you?" he asks her blankly. She squints her eyes and purrs.

On the back of the note is a door: Sam – thanks for taking care of Happy as always – tell folks I say hi – back this weekend, Mr. H.

He supposes it is time to go.

Emptiness knows no chord. If anything it is a wide octave, a single note with many faces, all blind to the harmony of central things. He cannot walk an octave so empty. His legs reach only so far.

At dinner Kurt eats slow and barely. Forks cry against plates like the sound of things breaking.

"You feeling alright, kid?" his father asks.

"Yes," Kurt answers. He watches Finn chew on a dead animal with his mouth slightly open.

"Mm," his father says. "Heard Sam was over last night. Hope he and your brother kept the noise down on that, uh—what's the new one, something with aliens, right? They keep it down?"


His father watches him, nodding his head but with eyes narrowed, appraising. He shares a glance with Carole. "Blaine's back soon, huh? Excited?"

"Yes," Kurt answers.

Forks against plates. The sound of breaking things.

Sam forgets the eyes of God and eats before grace but swallows his food like communion, with devout attention, loaf after loaf of sacred flesh.

"Wanna slow down there, son?" his dad asks. Sam's body navigates uncertainly around his dinner—is this sudden gift of sustenance blessing or curse?

"No," Sam answers. His teeth clench with every bite. They are struggling workers on a disassembly line, making mulch to feed the gaping furnace of his throat.

His mother chews on her lip. "Sam," she says, scraping together a motherly tone from shards of fatigue. "Are you going to tell us where you were last night?"


Her tongue laps nervously at the corner of her mouth. "Because I know it's been... hard, for you, but I think we should talk about—"

"No," Sam answers.

Stevie and Stacie bow their heads solemnly. There is a hole in their brother, and they do not want to see inside.

Kurt lies on his back in bed at night and watches the screen of his cell phone. The call he has dreaded and longed for did not come.

Sam? he aches.

Sunset, sunrise.

Over the low plateau Indiana cups in its palm a cloud fills its head with nightmares and ferments to black. With ego and because it can it whips dust and fog into a cream that ices the land, lashes lightning like scarecrows' hands. I am power, it says. Like young lust it claims the air around it and recklessly grows and grows and grows.

By the time Sam gets back from work on the 23rd someone has tied a balloon to the doorknob. And he can't stand it. He can't stand it—the thought of being inside, of spreading gloom like cancer through the family joy—so he sits outside and airs his skin in the slim breeze.

He is a disease unto himself, anyway. Kurt is an epidemic in Sam's mind. He had assumed that escaping the confines of walls they had shared would free him from the collage of memories trampling one another in his head. But everything reminds him: a touch of color on a customer's cheek, the empty passenger seats of company cars.

He is drunk on angst, he knows, but suspects the hangover will be worse. So he cultivates sorrow and rage in the swamp of his brain.

The balloon's raw tin shine flashes like a castaway's signal to passing planes, and standing he unties its flat ribbon from the handle. It floats upward slowly as though reluctant to leave the ground. With strange intensity Sam is struck suddenly by a feeling of guilt; but with a gentle nod, as though of understanding, the balloon turns it back to Sam and faces the inevitable sky. Sam watches it vanish from Ohio.

He thinks maybe he smells rain.

Dear Blaine, Kurt writes.

I can't bring myself to say this to your face. I guess I'm a coward even after everything you've taught me. But you deserve to know, and I know—or hope that I know—that we can weather whatever anger you absolutely deserve to feel.

While you were away—

He doesn't know how to put words to the summer. Or he does, too well, and can't bear to see the season reduced to crude smears of graphite on lined paper.

Oh well.

I made a stupid mistake. I kissed (he erases, and then restarts) Sam kissed me at the pool not long after you left, and I was going to tell you but I didn't. I saw him (he will be gentle) a few times after, and I didn't mean for anything to happen, but it did. Not (it takes him forever to write the word) sex, we didn't have (again) sex. But things happened. We started to feel (no—erase) Sam started to feel things for me, and that's when I finally found the strength to stop.

Please don't blame Sam. I know he never intended to hurt you. He is going through so much these days. The fault is entirely mine.

I will do anything to prove to you that it couldn't possibly happen again. I love you, Blaine. And I want you to take as long as you need to forgive me.

I don't know what I'd do if I lost you.

He cracks his window and thinks about signing his name.

The storm has grown fat and sloppy, indulgent and proud. It tickles the earth with streams of rain, hanging like tentacles from cumulus bodies. It groans when the earth does not laugh. Flustered it moves on. But in its hubris its gut catches in the tide of the Westerlies, and in no time it is forced east, toward Lima, caught in a current that pushes it farther and farther from home.

Dear Blaine, Kurt writes.

I can't bring myself to say this to your face. I guess I'm a coward even after everything you've taught me. But it needs to be said and I'm going to say it, one way or another.

I'm just going to say it. I (… … … … …) think we should see other people.

I do love you, Blaine.

He writes more, much more, but the paper grows heavier with each superfluous phrase, until he is sure that he will not be able to lift it. In the end he erases all explanation. The sheet becomes a mess of wrinkles and ghost words.

So now there are two pieces of paper on his desk.

As it crosses the state border the storm swallows a wayward balloon and sucks the air from its skin. And while a choir boy sleeps it pulls a letter through his open window.

Sunset, sunrise.

The roads are slick with rain and detour signs thread Kurt from familiar routes through the downpour, so that when he arrives the motel feels misplaced, tucked away in the wrong corner of reality. His clothes soak cold and heavy on the walk to the door. His skin numbs to match his mind.

Sam's dad answers when he knocks. He is in the midst of smiling widely.

"Oh," he says.

Stevie and Stacie are bickering over the TV remote but quiet when they notice Kurt in the doorway; Mrs. Evans is running a brush through her hair, and stops when she sees his reflection in the bathroom mirror.

The family has petrified before him and Sam is nowhere to be seen. Kurt is not sure what to say. "Hi," he tries, brightly.

"Oh—oh hi, of course," bumbles Mr. Evans. "Hello, come in, welcome, Kurt, how've you been, haven't seen you, quite the storm, must be soaked..."

"You know actually, if Sam's not here maybe I'll—just come back later, I didn't mean to interrupt." There is a weird feeling inside, as though time is gripping desperately to some unseen cliff's edge. Kurt wants none of it.

Mr. Evans opens his mouth but then closes it and cocks his head to one side. "Mm." He glances over his shoulder. "Have uh... have you talked to Sam recently?"

Kurt shakes his head self-consciously, wonders how much they know. He swallows worry, fights with peristalsis the fear that gossip will make his decision for him. "No." His eyes wander in diagonals.

"Mm," Mr. Evans repeats, and clears his throat. He shifts and Kurt senses uncertainty. "Well—I think maybe you should." He steps forward and Kurt backs up, frowning. Kurt nearly flinches when Mr. Evans's hand jabs out the door. "Three doors that way," he instructs, pointing.

Kurt swallows again. "O-oh," he says, nodding. "Thanks."

"Mhm." Every face is unreadable. "Bye now."

"Goodbye," Kurt says. The word rings in an oddly formal way before the door closes.

The room sighs with the sound of passing airplanes that remind them both of the radical force of distance, make the world seem large. Light in bars tumbles through the blinds and coats the walls with a brown balm. Kurt sees music everywhere.

Sam is sitting on the far bed, legs crossed, a gray cat wrapped around itself in his lap. Kurt lowers himself onto the other. It complains with dry springs like the fossils of bird calls. Between them an aisle of plain carpet sits with violence in its weave.

Sam's eyes are locked on the cat's fur and he has said nothing. So Kurt starts: "I thought I should come see you."

"K," Sam replies blankly.

Kurt lets air out through his nose. "You know I always pegged you for a dog person," he says, in a meager attempt to tear brightness through the ethereal fabric that binds them dark.

Sam shrugs. "I always pegged you for a person with his shit together."

The fabric clings tight and Kurt feels hurt slalom his ribs. "Sam that's—"

"Look why did you come here?" Sam says, turning his head up. "You want to have a little fun? Strip down, and make out, and and—get yours and be out of here by lunchtime?" His movements are vicious; the cat startles and dives to the floor.


"'cause if that's it, well, come on, wouldn't want to bore you with goddamn small talk!" Sam swings his legs off the bedside and grabs the hem of his own shirt, pulling it with clumsy fierceness up and off. His skin shines like beach sand in the divided light.

Kurt's temperance is stained by craving but he holds steady. In his mind he is a glass jar full to the lip. He will drain himself but slowly. He will not spill over. "S-Sam I just came here to talk, I only want to talk," he insists.

Sam laughs, music and disaster, the sound of steel drums rolling down stairs. "Now where have I heard that before. Come on, Kurt." He stands and snaps the button from his jeans. "Mm, oh, Kurt, want you so bad..." Thunder punctuates his mocking words as he drops his pants to the floor. Kurt feels sick. "Come on, boy toy at the ready! COME ON, Kurt! What are you waiting for?"

The glass tips. A vacuum opens in Kurt's lungs and he implodes. His head hides in his shoulders and tears strangle the curves of his eyes. His sniffs and then breaks, shakes silently. No. A long cacophonous slide in light on Sam's chest. No. The past and present seesaw terror in a fan shape along his torso. No. He shakes and shakes. What has he done.

Sam's breath is fast and arhythmic. "Oh God," he prays.

And then the world is a womb, Kurt is pressed into unbeing by human heat. Sam's arms hold him like soft armor. "I'm-I'm ss-sorry, I'm s-so sorry," Kurt gasps, teeth inadvertently marking the skin of Sam's shoulder.

"No no no no no no no no," Sam pleads, voice high and frantic, "Oh God Kurt, I didn't—I don't know what got into me I was just—"

"I gg-ot into you," Kurt sobs, "I j-just wanted to talk and—"

Sam kisses him onto his back and silent. He glimpses Sam's expression—it is like crumpled paper, a poem shredded in rancor. "Shh, shh," Sam hums against his lips.

And for a moment distance fades to wavelengths, the width of desperate sounds.

After a minute Sam reaches for Kurt's collar and flinches as cold hands find his back. He loosens one button, two.

"Sam?" Kurt whispers.


Kurt licks his lips. "I need to—I did want to talk and..."

Sam presses his thumb into Kurt's half-exposed shoulder. "Yeah." He struggles to lift himself, a hatchling beating its wings.

When he is on the other bed again Kurt says, "Close your eyes."

Sam's lip twitches. Eddies of distrust begin again to churn as he cools. "Why."

"Because... because I want to be honest, and I want you to be honest, and sometimes—sometimes senses get in the way." Kurt shifts. "I just—I just want to talk. Nothing else. No—no thinking or seeing or any distractions." He swallows, flush. "For now."

"Just words."


"Just being honest."

Kurt swallows again. "Yes."

Sam feels his heart arm itself with skepticism. But he closes his eyes.

"I—I need to make a choice."

"You're just realizing this?"

"I said I was going to be honest. Ok? So let me talk. I want to... I don't want to fight. Here's—I wrote these letters last night. Letters to Blaine. And one of them said—one of them told him I was going to stay and one of them told him I was going break up with him. I don't know which one to... But it occurred to me last night—or this morning?—that it wasn't enough just to be honest to Blaine... I have to be honest to me, and—to you."

"Honest to me."


"...why this... I mean, why this sudden..."

"Because of what happened the other night. Sam I—I've kind of been scaring myself. With how easy it is."


"I mean this. And the simple truth of it is... I'm not—I don't if you want to hear all this but I need to say it to someone Sam. I have to, it's all—"

"Kurt just. Keep going."

"Fine. ...I'm not—attracted to Blaine like I am to you. I'm just not. I try to be when I've talked to him and... I'm attracted to him but—I can't explain it. It's this... He's getting back in two days and I'm trying to—to tell you all this and all I can think about is that you're sitting there in your boxers and I don't know if I could leave without us doing... even if I wanted to, and the worst part is I don't, I want to just—shut up and let you undress me and..."

"Kurt that's not the worst part. That's not bad! You don't have control over—"

"Exactly! Exactly. I don't have control, Sam, and it scares me. But it is the worst part, because... because I don't even feel guilty. Not about that. I feel horrible guilt, awful, nauseating guilt. You know what for? For not feeling guilty."

"...look, do you want me to say it? Then leave him! Clearly if you—"

"Yeah, leaving him will make me feel less guilty, for sure."

"I'm saying—look it makes me sound like I've got an ego or something but if you're more attracted to me then..."

"Yeah. ...Sam please don't take... fuck it, ok, honesty, right? I don't know how to be comfortable around you."



"...comfortable. So now love for you is about being comfortable."

"It's not about it, Sam, but god! It's not about fear, or... always being tense, or... Do you know last night the letter where I told Blaine what we'd done got blown out my window, first I thought maybe it was some kind of sign until I started thinking someone might find it, I was so sure somebody would find it and—I don't know, recognize the names—I was—it was awful."

"That's because it's a secret! If it's not a secret any more then who cares?"

"I care! Everyone will care! I'll be that guy, who... cheated on a guy who'd been great to him, and second of all love is about feeling comfortable?"





"...Yes. —Kurt? —And also Blaine has been great to you how, exactly? Fine I'm the first to admit I wasn't exactly a—neutral observer or whatever but geez, was it the—"

"Sam I think you mean... lust, or... Sam you don't know me enough to..."

"...don't... oh that's rich—yeah wait, who are you again? Let's see spent like three months hooking up with you and talking every day, not to mention the entire school year before that—"

"But Dalton—"

"Was three months, and you were dating Blaine by the end of it!"


"So don't try and fucking tell me I can't be in love with you but Blaine somehow can! Ok?"

"...Blaine has done plenty for me, you have no idea—"

"Don't change the subject Kurt!"

"—have no idea—he—he got me to stand up to Karofsky, first of all, and that was before we were dating."

"He got—wow, how brave of him, sending you in to—Kurt I stood up to him for you!"

"Oh and now I owe you for that?"

"What? —No! No. Kurt, of course you don't. That's not—what I meant was, I can do the things that Blaine can do for you. And... you know. And more."


"Don't—why do you always have to use that... like you're pitying me or something?"

"Sam if we... everyone will know what I did, my dad and everyone from Glee and..."

"Why? Why do they have to know? Why can't you just have broken up with him and then we... you know?"

"So now you want me to lie."

"—No. You're right. Ok, yes, you're right. No."

"...I haven't seen him in months, and who knows... I just don't know if I can make a fair decision if I haven't seen him since the beginning of summer."

"Kurt we're not goddamn—this isn't like trying on two pairs of clothes! You don't get to—to buy one set and then return it if you decide later that you—you want the other one, or it's too tight after all, or..."

"Well then how do—damn it, Sam, how do I make this decision?"

"Choose me."

"Thanks, everything's clear now."

"Choose me."


"I love you Kurt."


"Kurt don't you dare try to—No, tell me this is all just physical for you. You said you cared about me, I want to know. Tell me it's just sex and. And that's it."

"It's not..."

"It's not? I love you Kurt."


"I love you Kurt. I love you, I love you, you stupid beautiful wonderful..."


"I love you Kurt."

"I think... I think I love you too."

Eyes open. Lids lifted mark the shells of celestial spheres, false idols, bearers of barriers that crack in sunlight. The world opens. On separate beds again are too boys, more than words, less than words, the servants and masters of words.

"I love you Kurt."

"I think I love you too."

Wind batters the door with solicitations of nature and wrath. And in humid air they kiss like life and death.

The air is red like phoenix feathers, prescient with a weight like new ash. Sam's head throbs like a bloated star.

He feels trumpets sound, draped in royal crests, doves dancing through wreathed arches. Kurt's shoulders are the arcs of gales. Sam's hands climb down buttons and under silk. His fingers smolder in the oven of Kurt's body as thunder roils under clouds outside.

Sam cries for the things Kurt does not know.

The air is light blue like frost or the peaceful face of an unmade soul. Kurt feels it calmly, feels life as though through a beaded curtain, teardrops unshed and laced by spider silk.

Against Sam his mouth feels sage and wide, the undaunted gape of caverns on the ocean floor. Sam holds him like water pressure, rings in his ears. When Sam unwraps him from his clothes he is a pearl, freed from the oyster, smooth and solid and pure. When Sam's fingers enter him he sees polygons of light, in dilute shades, as though reflected off fish scales.

He grips Sam softly, and his brain swims in dust. There is hidden water somewhere in the dry ground of his mind. He will be delved. Sam will find it.

Kurt's touch conjures a squall that lopes along his bare back, spreading white embers that scorch the whispering angels from Sam's shoulders. His man—his—is a heron, wrought with prehistoric grace, a beauty young and ancient. He feels Kurt's intellect through his forehead, piercing and open, his will in his hands.

He is in love. He has known for too long and never before.

When the will in Kurt's hands pulls Sam forward toward the place his fingers lay buried he gasps, and a wayward sirocco parches his mouth. But with eyes open and tongue unfazed he waits, charged and carmine, hot and bold and ready.

At first it is a searing, chemical feeling, a nuclear reaction. Then it is a receding, a becoming hollow. And lastly, when after decades Sam is finally in, it is the eye of God, cobalt and suffocated in deep water; his devout atheism notwithstanding—it is the eye of God.

Soon Sam's thrusts are long and regular, like the drag of a pendulum. An eleventh hour chimes through Kurt with every touch of thigh to thigh. His front scours friction from the surface of Sam: his first, this imperfect harbor of a boy.

Kurt whimpers like violin strings and when he comes Sam does, too, and he feels full and empty at the same time, and clarity is liquid lead, heavy and clean, and like a printing press his weight leaves language on the pages of white sheets and Sam's hardcover smile.

Tautology, Kurt thinks to himself. That's it. That's the word.

Sam does not understand.

Kurt has dressed and opened the window behind the blinds, so that the rain breathes static in and bolts of lightning call deeper groans from the earth. Sam's naked body makes snow angels on the bed.

"I don't understand."

"I know."

Kurt moves stiffly but somehow saint-like, is collected like the faces in old paintings. Sam does not understand.

"But we just..."

Kurt nods slightly.

"I am so glad," he says, and sounds achingly sincere, "that you were my first, Sam."

Sam is dreaming. Isn't he?

"What does that mean?"

Kurt takes a calm breath. "I can't decide, Sam. I'm not going to decide." He looks down at his hands. "I—I love both of you. I-I think," he says, but the stutter folds back into serenity, and Sam wonders if he imaged it.

"Kurt you can't, you can't keep doing this." Sam is a Gordian knot, tangled and writhing. He must untie himself before the sword falls.

"I know." He nods again. "—I'm not going to. I can't—you're right. I can't live like this. I can't face it. I'm so sorry."

Sam has heard him say it a hundred times, wants to scoff or laugh as he always does. But there is body in the breath, and the sharp edge of honesty, and panic tips an hourglass inside him, pours sand upward through his throat.

"Kurt—Kurt whatever I did I didn't—"

Kurt's eyes glaze sad. "You didn't do anything, I mean, in a good way—Sam don't you... You don't deserve to feel this way. You deserve better than this whole mess and... I'm stuck in it and I'm not going to keep you stuck in it any more."

Sam's breath shudders and stalls like a gasping engine. "You—Kurt I don't want to be unstuck, I'm in love with—"

"Sam you have to stop saying that," Kurt says, wavering slightly. "I—I've treated you like, like worse than nothing and—and I don't deserve those feelings, and if you'd—"

"That is NOT your decision to make," Sam protests, leaning forward. "You don't get to decide that. I love you."

"Sam I said you have to stop—"

"The clothes," he says. "You brought me, at the motel... I mostly wear Finn's old things out but sometimes when I'm at home I put them on, your stuff, Kurt, because they remind me of you. Of the things you did for me and your—your crazy ass fashion sense and your courage."

"Sam, please—" Kurt's voice trembles faintly.

Sam will not stop. "I think about—our duet," he says. His eyes are misting: do not see, they say. "Every time the radio comes on, looking for the right song, and there aren't any. There just aren't, there's nothing perfect enough, and I'm going to write it, Kurt, and we're going to sing it together."

Kurt's hand fumbles at the doorknob. Maybe hope is polluting his senses but he feels this: that Kurt's solution is fracturing, that Sam will prove it imperfect. "St-stop," Kurt pleads.

"I love you," Sam repeats, loud. "And you love me. Kurt everybody makes mistakes, love confuses the fuck out of everyone, if you just stay we can talk—"

He has gotten the door open. His face is away. He is a mystery and Sam is out of time.

"KURT!" he shouts.

His friend's back halts in the door frame.

"This is the last chance," Sam begs softly.

There is a long pause, the break between lightning and thunder, the space where summer ends but before the leaves fall.

The door closes. Kurt is on the outside.

The cat purrs in the corner. Rain beats the pavement and the noon sun hides.

Three days later Sam watches his phone buzz insistently across the seat of a dirt-caked chair by the motel's rental office.

Time has moved quickly. For all the sparsity of their possessions packing has been an ordeal—fitting five comfortably is difficult under any circumstance, and the drive to Boulder is too long for overcrowding. Sam has worked to the wire; their new start is fresh but will almost certainly be slow. His tips will pay for gas on the way.

Last night at a party at Rachel's he had said his goodbyes to his friends, in his own way. He had told no one that the 21st had been his father's lucky day after all.

It is sick, he supposes, but he had not wanted to make Kurt's decision any easier.

The party was partly to honor Blaine's return. Kurt and Blaine did not attend.

And now his phone is ringing and ringing, and Kurt's name brightens the screen.

He wonders: Maybe Kurt has heard. Maybe he has heard and is furious, or relieved. Maybe he is celebrating his decision, is calling to say that he has chosen Blaine, that it is for the best. Maybe they have broken up. Maybe Kurt has gotten it into his head that he is better off alone.

Or maybe—maybe—

"Sam?" his dad calls from the driver's seat. "Ready to go?"

The call goes to voicemail. For a moment Sam sees a future, a mirage of time in a platinum line before him. He will listen to the message; Kurt will tell him of the breakup, of his need for a second chance, and Sam will oblige. He will stay behind, in Ohio, live in Mike's basement or Artie's guest room, pay his way best he can. It will be hard to trust Kurt, at first. They will fight over how much to tell the others, to tell Burt or Mercedes. Blaine will transfer and cause hell, or guilt Kurt with forgiveness. Sam will be startled at the bigotry he suddenly faces, will give everything second thoughts. But then in winter they'll go ice skating, and spend nights huddled under thick blankets in PJs or nothing at all, and in the spring they'll dance at senior ball, and when the club wins Nationals they'll sing on street corners because they can. College will try them with its inevitable distance, but Sam will travel to New York every other weekend, on his own dollar and with money sent from Colorado—and once Kurt lands a Broadway role Sam will join the tech crew, help with set-up and tear down, or they'll travel the continent with a moving company, hopping from place to place until Sam or Kurt lands on one knee, and they trade words at an altar with their families down in front. And when they're ready they'll move somewhere close by, so that their parents can babysit, and when the end of the world comes they will sit hand in hand and smile, and sleep soundly side by side.

"Sam?" asks his dad.

"Yeah," Sam says. He rises and stretches his back and closes his mind and pulls open the car door and settles himself beside Stevie in the back.

He leaves the phone on the chair. The screen throws light like music notes on the wall.