A bit louder, Tim said, "I'm just not anyone people want to get to know. I'm not handsome or outgoing or… or anything. I'm a waste of space."
"Tim," Dom replied firmly, "that's not true."
"How would you know? You only just met me," Tim spat out angrily.
"First"—Dom lifted one finger—"you're sort of cute. Yeah, not handsome, but then half the people in the world—okay, eighty percent—aren't. Secondly"—he raised a second finger—"not everyone is gregarious. There's something to be said for people who listen rather than talk your ear off. And thirdly, no one—no one—is ever a waste of space. Everyone has something to contribute to the world."
"Like what? I mean, like what do I contribute? I spend my days shelving books and helping people find the ones they want. How does that contribute?" Tim finally took a drink of beer then stared at the bottle, as if it was going to answer him.
"You said it yourself. You help kids realize books can be as much fun—or more—than television or a video game. That's not a bad thing."
Tim snorted softly. "It's hardly world changing either, at the end of the day."
"Which brings up another point. What do you do at the end of the day?"
"You never go out and do something? What about on your days off?"
"I'm not a doer."
"It's safer. I don't like being looked down on or ignored."
"Hell, no one does, but that can only happen if you let it."
"Like you'd know. Look at you. I bet no one ever treated you like you were less than dirt."
Dom smiled ruefully. "You might be surprised."
"Maybe someday I'll tell you what I mean, but not now. Now we're going to finish our beers, have another one, and stop being so damned serious."
"You started it," Tim said a bit petulantly.
Dom grinned. "Then it's my choice to finish it. So, tell me a bit about yourself. Do you like sports?"
"Musicals." Tim gave a mocking laugh. "Doesn't that go with the territory?"
Dom grinned. "So they say, but I like them too, and I'm not gay."
"Yeah, I figured." Tim smiled wistfully. "Would have been nice if you were. Okay, that was stupid. Even if you were, you sure wouldn't…"
"Tim," Dom said, gripping his shoulder, "will you stop trying to put yourself down? I think we already established I'm not going to buy into that. I want us to be friends, if that's all right with you. So far, I've liked hanging around with you. Besides which, since I'm new in town, I need a tour guide and I'm nominating you." When Tim looked at him in disbelief, Dom nodded. "When's your next day off?"
"Sunday? I mean… yeah, Sunday."
"Do you have any plans?"
Tim just rolled his eyes.
"Good. We'll… visit the museums."
"All two of them?"
"Yep. You okay with that."
Tim gave a brief nod.
"Great." Dom finished his beer and as promised, flagged down the bartender to order another. Then he realized Tim had barely touched the one he had. "Do you want something else?" he asked, tapping the bottle.
Suddenly, unexpectedly, Tim laughed. "Yeah—a million dollars, a hot man, a penthouse apartment in the best highrise in the city. How's that for starters?"
"Wow, when you dream, you dream big. What about… hmm… a trip around the world in your own personal yacht and a private island for those times when you get bored with the high life?"
Tim grinned. "I could deal. Won't happen unless I win the lottery, but yeah, I could handle that. For now, though, I'm going to be a drag and say I'm ready to leave."
"Not a problem, since we both have to work tomorrow."
As soon as they were outside, Tim said, "That was actually… I had…"
"Fun? A good time?"
"Yes. I know all we did was talk but still…"
"There are times when, not to be clichéd, just being with a friend is all it takes to enjoy yourself, so we'll have to do this more often, starting with Sunday."
"You do realize when I said there were only two museums, I meant it. The art museum and the natural history one. This isn't a big city, by any means."
"You know it. Well, bones mainly, but…"
They continued talking about what they'd be seeing until they reached the apartment building. Then they split up when they got to Tim's floor, with Tim thanking Dom for an enjoyable evening before getting off the elevator.
Dom watched him walk away before the elevator door closed.
There's a definite spring in his step that wasn't there a couple of hours ago. Now I just have to do something to make certain he doesn't lose it again.