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Malfunction by dee
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The light was silver in pre-dawn stillness. Elijah sat on a couch that wasn't his with a cup of tea. He hated tea. He held the teabag in the white china cup and watched brown leech into the steaming water, swirling around the sodden bag, orbiting like pollution.

Sean came from the kitchen with buttered toast and stood behind Elijah. "You didn't have to sleep on the couch."

Elijah turned from his tea, looked up at Sean. Open face. Offering and hurt. "Your phone rang last night. You were asleep, so I answered it."

Sean frowned. "Who was it?"


"Yeah," Orlando sighed. "I know it's not personal. And I guess that should help. Except it doesn't."

Dave shrugged. He was a little uncomfortable, hands in pockets, looking away from the corner where they were talking back to the party. There was an orbiting conga line, and raucous laughter.

"Sorry," Orlando repeated. "I'm too drunk. I wouldn't have said anything if I wasn't toasted." He looked down at his glass. It was empty. "Think we can forget it?"

"Orli, don't stress it." Dave's hair was scruffy, his grin quick. "It's fine, y'know? I'm not a homophobe. I just like chicks."

They were halfway through dinner, the bottle of wine, a long lazy evening that had started with: "Want to go get something to eat?" and had promised to end with: "Where do you keep the condoms?"

But somewhere along the line, Dom had changed his mind. Somewhere as the conversation had mellowed and slowed, from tingling to shared. He'd never imagined this.

Viggo called to an orbiting waiter for the cheque, and lifted his glass. "I'm not going to sleep with you, Dominic."

Dom raised his own glass, clinked it against Viggo's, and offered a toast: "To just being friends."

They made a fire on the beach, just the three of them. Elijah chain-smoked. Orlando wrote his name in the sand, wiped it out. Dominic had brought marshmallows to toast.

They didn't say anything, beyond hissed curses at fingers burned on gooey pinkness. They stayed while the sun set, and orbiting mosquitoes closed in for the kill. Elijah squashed one on his arm, and left a mess of blood and black.

Eventually, the packet of marshmallows was empty, and the fire down to just smouldering embers. The insects were insistent.

"Ready to try again?" Dom asked.

Orlando shrugged. "Why not?"