"Well, hello there."

"Hey. Dinner's already in the oven. Just go heat it up."

Walk. Walk. Walk. Stop. Turn.


"Don't put the heat past three hundr—"

"Malik," he breathes, his arm suddenly around the other's torso. "Malik." Only a second is killed before his eyes close, and he perceives the smell of aftershave and ink, sees the downward path of his hand through relenting eyelids, sees the old blue hoodie and white shirt.

Tick tock goes the clock on the wall. Tick tock reverberates through his head like a chime to start his act.

Altair's lips descend on his neck. His lips are not butterflies, nor are they those of an angel's; they're stubborn and firm, sticking to the line of his jaw now in shades of grey. They're too soft. Too hard. Too religious.


"I'm aware of what my own name is, thank you." Eyes are glued to large papers: black, monochrome, dotted with pixels that bled from apparent mug rings near the edges. It's called a newspaper, a mass of public lies defined by dates and letters and weird advertisements that promise to enlarge penis sizes. "And I'm busy, Altair."


What does that mean? "Malik … you know what today is?"


"Today is … Friday."

"Yes, I appreciate you telling me, Rebecca Black."

"November the fourth."

Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock. Altair's hungry as hell, but he waits. His car keys are still warm in the pockets of his jeans, warm like the other's ears that he brushes with his fingertips, and five hundred seconds go by in a flash while he stands this way. Malik is thinking. Thinking, thinking, pondering about what he said.

Lips. Right. He moves them again, right under an obstinate chin that lifts up when he introduces his teeth.

Wait: Is Malik really thinking? Is he reading that stupid web of lies and grocery coupons? The former says nothing, so his lips trail higher and graze the corner of that mouth, and a great exhale that blows out coffee and quantum physics and stress from stupid lab interns fan out on his cheek. Today, there are no hands pushing him back, no verbal protests that'd start their little limbo.

Today is strange.

"I don't know."

Altair isn't surprised.

No, not at all.

"Today is—"


How cruel. "Fine," Altair sighs. Goodbye chin and stomach and neck and chest and that damn angular jaw. His hands and lips will say goodbye—for now. "Today is our second anniversary."

"Second …"



Malik's eyes clear from its haze the same way Altair draws open the blinds after nabbing a quick beer from the fridge. It's an interesting transition to observe—not that Altair requires himself to be any more restrained, his mouth taking chances on a shoulder. The revelation registers completely, and he nods when that bothersome newspaper plops down onto the ground to acquaint itself with his Converse.

Back up. Stand. Take hands out of his pockets. Look straight forward.

Manners, even for a time such as this, right?

Malik speaks first: "I … I completely forgot. I had so much work to do after the company merged with Abstergo, and I just—"

"No, it's okay. You know I normally suck ass at remembering stuff."

"And yet, you remembered this."

Score, Altair, score. "Yeah," he draws out, much like the fashion in which he takes a long pull from his drink. A man has to do what a man as to do. "I didn't want it to be like last year."

"You were deployed last year to Afghanistan, and your connections were cut." Step, step, step, steps from either end. Malik. "This is …"

"A miracle, I know.

"Now, I'm going to be honest. We all know how this is going to end. We can either have hot, steamy man-sex right now, or I can force you to pack your bags in fifteen minutes, and then an hour later, we can go at it."


Pockets. Check the pockets: Right … no, damn, it's left. The left pocket.

He holds them up, and it's quite strange how two glazed pieces of construction paper can cost six thousand dollars. But then again, he's standing here in front of Malik Al Sayf, and it isn't as if six thousand dollars means anything at this time.

"Mediterranean cruise, good sir. Let's hit it."

All the way.