Tim was curled up on the sofa, reading the second book he'd borrowed from the library, when someone knocked on his door. To say that surprised him would be an understatement. No one ever came by his place. Ever. That being the case, he figured it had to be the manager. But I paid my rent. He sighed and went to open the door.
The first thing he saw—well, that he really took in—was a pair of incredible, deep brown eyes. Expanding his vision, he realized they were surrounded by a face. No duh. A very nice face, so he must be lost. He can't want to talk to me.
The man smiled, saying, "Hi. I'm Dom. I just moved in upstairs and I wondered if I could ask you something."
"Umm, yeah. Sure. What? Oh, I'm Tim."
Dom looked past him into the apartment. "May I?"
"Ask? Yes." Then Tim realized what he meant and hesitantly stepped aside to let Dom come in.
"Nice place, in a sort of Spartan way," Dom commented. Then he smiled wryly. "Probably not the best way to put it. Sorry."
"It's okay. I know I haven't put much effort into…decorating."
"Which brings me to my question. As I said, I just moved in. I'm new to the city too, so I have no idea where to find any furniture for my place."
"I went to a thrift shop a few blocks from here. Of course, that was five years ago. I have no idea what they might have now."
"You've lived here that long?" Dom wandered over to look into the kitchen then turned, saying, "I don't suppose… No, never mind." When Tim cocked his head in question, Dom shrugged. "The coffee smells good."
Tim gulped. Was this handsome man asking him if he could have some coffee? That would mean he'd stick around for a few minutes. "Would you like a cup?" he said, almost stuttering out his reply.
"Would you mind? I honestly don't feel like going out in this weather again, even if I knew where the nearest coffee shop was."
"I… sure." Tim hurried to the kitchen, took a cup from the cupboard, and filled it. "Do you want cream or sugar?"
Returning to the living room, Tim handed Dom the coffee. "You can sit. I mean, if you want to," he said shyly.
Dom did, at one end of the sofa. After taking a drink, he glanced at the book lying open—facedown, so the cover showed—at the other end. "I interrupted your reading. Is it a good book?"
"Yes." Tim picked it up, marked his page, and closed it before sitting down.
"Short and sweet," Dom said, chuckling. "'Less Than Zero'. An interesting title. Sounds like it should be about math."
"It's…not." When Dom seemed about to ask, Tim told him, "It's about… I don't know…being alone in a crowd. About…separation even though…"
Dom nodded. "It sounds depressing."
"No, it's real. It's really what life is like," Tim replied adamantly. "Yes, it's depressing, I guess but it…I can relate."
"You?" Dom took another drink of his coffee.
Tim shrugged. "I'm not what some would call a people person."
"Does it matter?" Tim asked, realizing he'd probably revealed more about himself to Dom in two minutes than he ever had to anyone else.
"Depends." Dom chuckled. "That seems to be the building manager's favorite word. I think I picked it up."
Smiling slightly and wanting to change the subject, Tim said, "Where are you from?"
"Here, there, everywhere. I travel a lot for my…job. Sometimes if I'm going to be around for a while, I rent an apartment, like now."
"What do you do?"
"I help people." Dom chuckled. "I guess you could say I'm your opposite—a real people person." He finished his coffee, set the cup down on the coffee table, and got up. "I'm keeping you from your reading."
Tim lifted one shoulder. "It's okay." Standing as well, he added, "It was… nice meeting you."
"You too. I'm sure we'll run into each other again, since we both live here."
"Maybe." Tim followed him to the door, closing and locking it after Dom left. Then he leaned back against it. I doubt he meant it—well, not in the way I sort of wish he did. Still… No. No sense wishing for something that wouldn't happen. He's friendly but that's it. Besides, he wouldn't want someone like me for a friend. He probably will have a ton of them soon, with his job and… and everything.
Pushing off the door, Tim went back to the sofa, picking up the book. Then, with a shake of his head, he set it down and went over to his bookshelves to find something else to read that might not be so much of a downer.
* * * *
Dom paced his empty living room. Shy? Definitely. Unhappy. That too. Withdrawn. Well yeah, but he did begin to open up a bit. Should I have stuck around longer?
He considered that and shook his head. He was new in the neighborhood, so to speak, and Tim might have thought it strange if he'd tried to prolong their first encounter.
But there will be more. I'll see to that. After all, I can't really help him if there aren't. He tapped a finger against his lips. He's sort of cute, in a plain way. Now if I was female… but I'm not, so that's out. Guess I'll do my best to make friends with him and then invite him to do things with me. That way he might meet someone who would take an interest in him. Someone to give him a reason to want to live.
Settling down crossed-legged, Dom leaned back against the wall. I definitely need furniture. He snapped his fingers. Now if I could persuade Tim to take me to the thrift shop he was talking about and maybe help me choose furniture... Yeah, that might work. He looked toward the ceiling. It would help if it stopped snowing, you know. Not that he expected he had any pull when it came to asking, but then again, who knew? If Tim was that important for whatever reason, then maybe…