THE apartment door crashed open, and Vince immediately burst through it. The room always seemed filled as soon as he entered it, not so much because of his size but because of his natural boisterousness.
He stared at Chuck lying on the couch, his brow furrowed in a mixture of displeasure and disbelief. “I don’t believe it!” he cried. “It’s colder in here than it is out there, and that’s saying something!”
Chuck grinned and closed his book. “I think the heat’s on the fritz again.”
“Again?” Vince demanded. “Name me a time when the damn thing’s actually worked.”
“We’re paying for the view more than the utilities,” Chuck said, an oft-repeated mantra that hoped to justify their extravagant rent.
“Then we got shafted.”
“Aww, come here and get warm.” Chuck lifted a corner of the blanket he was burrowed under and indicated that Vince should crawl in with him.
It didn’t take much to persuade Vince. He kicked off his shoes and threw his jacket across the room before running over and tackling Chuck, pushing him further into the couch. Chuck made a feeble protest as he was crushed under Vince’s weight, but he could barely squeak out any resistance.
“Am I too heavy for you?” Vince asked without remorse.
“Love you… just the way… you are…,” Chuck wheezed.
Vince shifted his weight so that Chuck was no longer being crushed and wedged himself more in-between his partner and the back of the couch. Sofa, he reminded himself. They call the damn things sofas over here.
He had been in the Big Apple for four years now, but he still couldn’t change certain words to fit in more linguistically with the natives. Chuck still looked at him, waiting for the punch line, when he told Chuck he was going down to the deli for milk. A deli’s where we go for pastrami on rye, Chuck would reply patiently.
Or how about looking for the trolley when they went to the supermarket?
No, that’s a cart. And we go grocery shopping.
Yeah? Vince had replied snottily. What you call a trolley, we call a tram anyway. And you know exactly what I mean, we’ve been together for long enough.
I know, Chuck always said. I just like you when you get all red and flustered. You actually have to be born here to be considered a true New Yorker, so just be yourself.
It wasn’t like Chuck was a true New Yorker either; he had come from State College, Pennsylvania. But at least he had the lingo down enough to be able to truly blend in.
“I can hear your brain clanking,” Chuck said, interrupting Vince’s trip down memory lane.
Vince didn’t reply; he just nuzzled against Chuck’s neck, taking in that sweet smell he couldn’t exactly describe but was ultimately so… Chuck. His partner with the all-American name and boyish demeanor that made him seem to come straight out of some Hollywood golden-age family drama. The boy next door. Who just happened to like boys.
“Talk to me,” Chuck said. “What’s on your mind?”
Vince’s hand snaked beneath Chuck’s shirt and rested against the warm skin of his chest. “You.”
“That’s sweet,” Chuck said, grinning. “But you’re full of it.”
“Well, I always think of you,” Vince protested.
“I don’t think I even want to know.”
Vince lifted the hem of Chuck’s shirt and kissed his belly. “Really?”
Chuck reached down and took Vince’s face in his hands, cupping it gently. “Spill it.”