"We shag," said Rocky, grinning and showing his teeth. "Blissfully, nakedly, unashamedly on the table in front of everyone."
Tim blinked, his mouth opening involuntarily. He stared at Rocky, the rest of the room suddenly just white noise and background blur. The only thing he could see was Rocky's laughing eyes, his sudden, wolfish smile, and his blonde hair.
"What?" said Rocky. "What did you think I'd say?"
"I... I don't know," said Tim. The room started coming slowly back into focus and he blinked again. "Not that."
"Too soon?" Rocky's grin got wider.
"Yeah, too soon," said Tim. His own voice sounded odd in his ears when he said that, and his legs seemed to be tingling. He felt like he was doing something illegal, it reminded him suddenly of standing behind the hedge in the park across the road from his high school, smoking where the teachers might find him and his friends but couldn't do anything to stop them.
Rocky sat back and laughed. "Too soon," he said. "Didn't think you'd agree with me. Want to go upstairs?"
Panic raced through Tim's mind again, and he realised his heart was pounding in his chest. He forced himself to look round and up, and there was the stairs and the XBox room, and he realised what Rocky had actually meant. "I don't know if they'll let us," he said, and forced a slightly shaky laugh. "The bouncers are pretty choosy."
"Me too," said Rocky. "Let's go. You any good at any of these games?"
"Well, yeah actually," said Tim. The room seemed to come back into focus properly all of a sudden and he felt back in territory he knew. "What do you play?"
Thirty-five minutes later they were sitting, squashed together between four teenagers, on a couch, controllers in hands demolishing the COD map. Tim glanced sideways for a moment at Rocky, who was staring intently at the screen as his soldier leapt into the water and submerged. Then he was back, dodging enemy fire and selecting the Razorback to return it. Another head-shot, and then he was running in another direction, hopefully flanking. One of the guys on the end cursed and threw his controller down; it bounced on the floor and Tim thought he saw someone else shaking their head out of the corner of his eye. More gunfire, Rocky's soldier emerging unexpectedly off to his left, and then everyone was setting their controllers down.
"Nice!" said Rocky, his wolfish grin appearing on his face as he looked at Tim. For a moment his hand rested on Tim's knee and he felt that tingling again. "You can play!"
"Told you so," said Tim. He suddenly realised he wanted to talk to Rocky without having the kids around him listening. "Beertime?"
"I could go a beer," said the guy on the other side of Tim. He half-turned his head; the kid looked to be fifteen.
"Have to buy your own then," he said. "Sit downstairs again?" he said to Rocky. Rocky nodded and then stood up, leading the way. As Tim followed he thought he heard, not exactly whispered but not thought important, "Cute couple."
"You're cool," said Rocky as they waited for the pierced waitress to bring their drinks over. "Wasn't sure when I saw you, just knew I'd rather it was you than the guy in the lumberjack shirt." They both looked over; that man was slumped over the table now and snoring. A bottle of Canadian beer was clutched in a fist that was hairy enough to be a paw and there was a thin, shiny trail of drool running down his chin. "Yeah, definitely glad you're you and not him."
"Yeah, I'm kinda glad I'm not him either," said Tim. The phone in his pocket chimed and vibrated. He considered ignoring it, but Rocky was already looking at him curiously.
"It's ten-thirty. You better be dead" was the text message.
"Girlfriend or wife?" asked Rocky.
"Neither." Tim had no idea why that was the answer he gave but he knew he wasn't about to admit he wasn't single.
The beers arrived just then, and the barmaid also looked at his hand, making three of them all looking at a treacherous band of gold around his fourth finger. She set the bottles down and smiled at Rocky then sneered at Tim. She stalked off.
"I think she liked you," said Rocky, picking a bottle up.
"Before you pointed out the ring," said Tim. "That's more of a memory than a ring. Something that was, not something that is."
"You're still wearing it."
"Yeah. What was, was important. Still is, I think."
Tim sipped his beer and smiled. The conversation felt weird and he was pretty sure he was going to give answers he'd never have thought would be his. "You keep asking that. One way or another."
"And you keep avoiding the question."
There was a silence, they drank their beers, but their eyes were locked.
"I'm really enjoying this evening," said Tim. "Really. This isn't what I thought I was getting."
Without letting himself think about it, Tim set the bottle down, leaned across the table, and their lips met.