Dom watched Tim with a mix of amusement and concern. He's like a kid who suddenly realizes there might be a Santa Claus after all. Now I have to be doubly careful not to break his bubble because it only took seconds for him to go from depression to this. Dom knew that because he'd checked before knocking on Tim's door. Invasive, yes, but if he was going to help Tim, he had to know what he was feeling. He wasn't at all happy with the idea the young man had been so down just because he was a few minutes late. What if I hadn't shown up? Not that I wouldn't have. But what if it had been someone else instead of me? Someone who decided after the fact that he didn't want to bother with a guy as needy as Tim is?
"I'm ready," Tim said, breaking into Dom's musings.
"Then let's hit it." Dom waited until Tim had closed and locked the door before asking, "How was work?" as they walked to the elevator. "Oh, right, you were off today."
Tim shrugged. "I was, but if I hadn't been it would have been the same as always." Then he smiled. "It's the kids that make it worthwhile. Okay, not quite true. Helping anyone find the right book is a good thing, but showing the kids that reading is where it's at, instead of burying themselves in some TV show or a video game—that makes my day."
"I bet you're good at it," Dom replied, stepping onto the elevator when it arrived.
Tim looked surprised. "Why? I mean you don't even know me, so how do you figure?"
"I'm a good judge of character. After all, you're willing to help me find furniture and"—he grinned—"you don't even know me, to turn your comment back on you. Ergo, I can only imagine how important it is to you to help the kids learn to love something that means so much to you."
Tim seemed disconcerted when he replied softly, "I…I don't mind helping people if they ask. It just doesn't happen often. Well, almost never."
"Your friends don't ask?" Dom knew what Tim would reply to that, but he needed to get the question out there if he was going to come up with a logical way to help him.
"I don't really have any friends to speak of," Tim said desolately. The elevator door opened and he walked into the lobby and quickly across it to the front entrance.
Dom hurried after him. "You have one. Me. I mean…if you want."
"You don't even…"
"Do not go there again," Dom broke in with a smile as they walked out of the building. "No, I don't know you, but I think I'd like to. And furniture shopping is a good way to start. Right?"
"Umm. Right, I guess."
* * * *
Two hours later, when Tim and Dom returned to the apartment building, the truck was loaded with furniture.
"I still think I should have gotten the bigger dresser," Dom said, as he parked in the lot behind the building.
Tim snorted. "Unless your bedroom is a lot larger than mine, there wouldn't have been room for it with the bed and the nightstand you chose. Besides which, it wouldn't have fit in the truck."
"True," Dom agreed, as he got out and then looked at what he had bought, which filled the bed of the truck almost to overflowing as it was. "Now I get to haul all of this upstairs."
"We get to," Tim said, "I'm not going to disappear."
Dom grinned. "If you did, I wouldn't blame you."
"Naw. It might be amusing to see you carry the sofa inside on your back, like you kidded about this morning, but I'd feel guilty if you got squished."
"Yeah, not quite my idea of fun." Dom lowered the tailgate and then, piece by piece, they got the furniture inside and up to his apartment, with much huffing and puffing along the way.
"Finally," Dom said, collapsing on the sofa when they were finished. "I could use a beer or three right about now, but it's getting late, and I think we're both too tired to even think about going out for one."
Tim nodded. "Besides which, we both have to work tomorrow."
"Had to say that, didn't you," Dom replied. "So tell you what, how about we do it tomorrow night."
"Sure, why not? Hey, who knows, maybe we'll meet some nice girls."
Dom studied Tim. "You don't sound too enthusiastic about that idea."
"No, no, it's just…" Tim chewed the corner of his lip. "Sure, who knows, maybe we will." After that comment, no way am I telling him girls don't interest me. They must interest him though, or he wouldn't have said it.
Dom continued studying him, his head cocked to one side. Then, smiling, he said, "Not your thing, are they?"
Rather than reply to the question, Tim shrugged. "I should get out of here now. You look like you're going to fall asleep sitting there."
Dom chuckled. "I might, since I don't think I have the energy to make the bed. What time do you get home tomorrow?"
"Good. How about I pick you up around six? That'll give you time to change clothes and eat supper. We'll have to walk though, since I need to return the truck."
"That's fine. I'll… see you tomorrow then." Tim was at the door by then. "Sleep well."
Dom smiled. "Thanks. I suspect I will."
Tim nodded and left the apartment. As he went down to his, he was smiling. He's a nice guy. Okay, so he's straight but still. Maybe we really will be friends and that's not a bad thing. At least for as long as he's here in town, before his job sends him somewhere else. I can handle that.