In front of the campus library was a stone statue of a lion lounging on a pedestal. Remy was propped between the paws, their feet dangling over one and their head over the other. Today they were dressed like a boy: black cargo pants and black t-shirt and combat boots.
Micah looked at Remy, and then he turned his back. He almost turned again—took a few steps heading away—bit his thumb—stopped. He cursed softly.
But he had to. He marched to the lion and climbed up the side, trying to imitate Remy’s careless posture. He never could, but he tried anyway.
Remy opened eyes the shade of blue you could pull around yourself and fall asleep in. “Yo.”
Micah clenched and unclenched his hands. He realized he couldn’t stay seated and started to pace, though the pedestal was only long enough for four steps. Step step step step, turn. “Look. You can’t just—call me—and act like I’m not gonna ask. I gotta know. Why did you cut me off like that?” Step step step step.
Turn because he couldn’t bear the flat cast in Remy’s eyes.
“It’s because I’m an asshole. That’s all. Christ, Micah. You know that.”
Micah took four steps before he let himself look at Remy again. He was half-convinced that they would vanish again if he was too greedy. Maybe more than half. And, upset as he was, he still wanted to fill his eyes with them. “That’s not an answer, Remy. I mean—” Step step step step. “Man! We—we do all this shit, and you teach me all this shit, and you pull all this shit out of me—”
Remy chuckled darkly. Micah realized how many times he’d said shit. Turn.
“Stop looking for reasons. There aren’t any. I’m an asshole.” Remy stated it like a fact, the way they once told Micah their gender or the number of visible stars.
It hurt Micah, somewhere deep inside, and even though he’d only taken two steps, he turned. “No, you’re—”
Remy brushed his words away with a wave of their hand. “This isn’t about me, anyway.”
“Goddammit, Remy!” (Some part of him still cringed away from that curse, but the rest of him was too upset to notice.) He threw up his hands. “What do I have to do? Do I have to fucking—” He paused, licked his lips, almost laughed. “Fuck. I can’t even come up with something crazy enough. Not after everything we did together.” He sat on the edge of the pedestal and put his head in his hands. “No wonder you fucking left.”
“It’s not about you, either,” Remy said, turning on their side.
Micah said nothing. Pale fingers brushed his leg; he closed his eyes.
A pause, so long Micah wanted to drop off the pedestal and walk away. When his sister found out about this—
Then Remy spoke again. Their voice was soft; meaning slipped into it like watercolor bleeding across a blank sheet of paper. “Christ, Micah. You know the fucking answer. I don’t stick around. I don’t keep promises. I am me. I am myself. That’s all.” Remy tipped their head back again. “I never said I was anything else.”
Micah lifted his head. “I thought you told me that was a reason, not an excuse.” The words came out cold, and each one made Remy stiffen a little more.
Now Remy hunched beneath the lion’s jaws, their head angled awkwardly to avoid bumping the statue. A dark, disgusting part of Micah was glad to see he had ruffled Remy’s feathers. Not that bothering Remy was hard. They had a temper like an ice-covered puddle, snapping and cracking at the lightest touch. It was just nice to do it on purpose for once. “And I also told you I don’t make excuses.”
Micah didn’t have a snappy retort. He was tired. He pressed his palm against one closed eye and then the other, saying nothing.
Remy let out a slow sigh. “Look, if you came here, then you want to know what I want.”
“No, I don’t,” Micah said. His voice was small as the ant crawling over the statue’s back, but he wanted it that way. He wanted Remy to cringe and sink into themselves again. “I came ‘cause I know it was my only chance to see you.”
“…Fuck, you always…” Remy pressed their face to their knees. “You always do that. I come here telling myself I’m gonna be the baddest cat in the alley, and you always pull the ground out from under me.”
Micah let himself look at Remy, taking them in like sunlight after a long storm. “It’s only fair. You do the same thing to me.”
Remy squinted their eyes shut, then lifted their head. “Yeah, whatever. Can we be done with this part now? Will you hear me out?”
“Are you gonna leave again when this is done?”
In answer, Remy turned to meet his eyes. Their gaze was quiet and infinite; Micah looked away first.