“Come on,” I finally whisper, reaching for his hand. “Let’s go to bed.”
Warner nods, gets to his feet, but then he stops. Confused. So tortured. He looks at Adam. Adam looks back.
They stare at each other for a long time.
“Please excuse me,” Warner says.
And I watch, astonished, as he crosses the room. Adam is on his feet in an instant, defensive, uncertain. But as Warner approaches, Adam seems to thaw.
The two are now face-to-face, and Warner is speaking.
Adam’s jaw tenses. He looks at the floor.
Warner is still speaking.
Adam swallows, hard. He nods again.
Then he looks up.
The two of them acknowledge each other for a long moment. And then Warner places one hand on Adam’s shoulder.
I must be dreaming.
The two exchange a few more words before Warner pivots on one foot, and walks away.
“What did you say to him?” I ask as soon as the elevator doors close.
Warner takes a deep breath. He says nothing.
“You’re not going to tell me?”
“I’d rather not,” he says quietly.
I take his hand. Squeeze.
The elevator doors open.
“Will this be weird for you?” Warner asks. He looks surprised by his own question, as though he can’t believe he’s even asking it.
“Will what be weird?”
“That Kent and I are . . . brothers.”
“No,” I say to him. “I’ve known for a while now. It doesn’t change anything for me.”
“That’s good,” he says quietly.
I’m nodding, confused.
We’ve moved into the bedroom. We’re sitting on the bed now.
“You wouldn’t mind, then?” Warner asks.
I’m still confused.
“If he and I,” Warner says, “spent some time together?”
“What?” I ask, unable to hide my disbelief. “No,” I say quickly. “No, of course not—I think that would be amazing.”
Warner’s eyes are on the wall.
“So . . . you want to spend time with him?” I’m trying so hard to give Warner space, and I don’t want to pry, but I just can’t help myself.
“I would like to know my own brother, yes.”
“And James?” I ask.
Warner laughs a little. “Yes. And James.”
“So you’re . . . happy about this?”
He doesn’t answer right away. “I am not unhappy.”
I climb into his lap. Cup his face in my hands, tilting his chin up so I can see his eyes. I’m smiling a stupid smile. “I think that’s so wonderful,” I tell him.
“Do you?” He grins. “How interesting.”
I nod. Over and over again. And I kiss him once, very softly.
Warner closes his eyes. Smiles slightly, his cheek dimpled on one side. He looks thoughtful now. “How strange this has all become.”
I feel like I might die of happiness.
Warner picks me up off his lap, lays me back on the bed. Crawls over me, on top of me. “And why are you so thrilled?” he asks, trying not to laugh. “You’re practically buoyant.”
“I want you to be happy,” I tell him, my eyes searching his. “I want you to have a family. I want you to be surrounded by people who care about you,” I say. “You deserve that.”
“I have you,” he says, resting his forehead against mine. His eyes shut.
“You should have more than me.”
“No,” he whispers. He shakes his head. His nose grazes mine.
“What about you? And your parents?” he asks me. “Do you ever want to find them?”
“No,” I say quietly. “They were never parents to me. Besides, I have my friends.”
“And me,” he says.
“You are my friend,” I tell him.
“But not your best friend. Kenji is your best friend.”
I try so hard not to laugh at the jealousy in his voice. “Yes, but you’re my favorite friend.”
Warner leans in, bypasses my lips. “Good,” he whispers, kissing my neck. “Now flip over,” he says. “On your stomach.”
I stare at him.
“Please,” he says. Smiles.
I do. Very slowly.
“What are you doing?” I whisper, turning to look at him.
He gentles my body back down.
“I want you to know,” he says, pulling on the zipper holding this suit together, “how much I value your friendship.” The seam is coming apart and my skin is now open to the elements; I bite back a shiver.
The zipper stops at the base of my spine.
“But I’d like you to reconsider my title,” Warner says. He drops a soft kiss in the middle of my back. Runs his hands up my skin and pushes the sleeves off my shoulders, leaving kisses against my shoulder blades, the back of my neck. “Because my friendship,” he whispers, “comes with so many more benefits than Kenji could ever offer.”
I can’t breathe. Can’t.
“Don’t you think?” Warner asks.
“Yes,” I say too quickly. “Yes.”
And then I’m spinning, lost in sensations, and wondering how soon we’ll be losing these moments, and wondering how long it’ll be before we’ll have them again.
I don’t know where we’re going, he and I, but I know I want to get there. We are hours and minutes reaching for the same second, holding hands as we spin forward into new days and the promise of something better.
But though we’ll know forward and we’ve known backward, we will never know the present. This moment and the next one and even the one that would’ve been right now are gone, already passed, and all we’re left with are these tired bodies, the only proof that we’ve lived through time and survived it.
It’ll be worth it, though, in the end.
Fighting for a lifetime of this.
It took one day.
“I want one.” I’m staring at the gun wall in the training room. “Which one is the best one?”
Delalieu arrived just this morning to deliver the news. The supreme has arrived. He’s been transported from the ocean by jet, but he’s now staying on one of Sector 45’s army ships, stationed at the dock.