Amare was seeing Jacklyn again. This didn’t directly affect Finch, who otherwise wouldn’t have cared at all if it wasn’t for Gord’s total and complete investment in their romance. Gord thought Amare was being stupid. To be fair, Finch thought the same thing, but he was far less inclined to get involved. He couldn’t care less if Amare dated Jacklyn for the second time. He was almost one hundred per cent certain that it would end just as terribly as it had the first time, but he kept that to himself, not out of any kind of kindness. but because he really didn’t care to get involved. Gord, on the other hand, was far more vocal.
“What the hell is wrong with you, dude?” He asked Amare when he’d finished telling them what he’d clearly considered the good news. Finch was sprawled on the couch with Eartha, waiting for Robin to arrive. They’d been roped into helping Evan move out his mother’s home. Robin was furious about this, which Finch found both hilarious and endearing.
“What?” Amare returned, frowning at Gord. He clearly didn’t see any issue with dating Jacklyn again. Even Finch scoffed at that.
“Do you have no pride at all?” Gord continued. “Don’t take her back! She ghosted you for Joey! Do you have any idea how little respect he garners as a human being?”
“Very little,” Finch cut in, feeling obliged to participate.
“Very, very little,” Gord agreed, waving a hand at Finch. “He gets punched in the face at least twice a week.”
It was a fairly good point.
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” Amare protested. “She likes me better than him.”
“Does she?” Finch asked skeptically.
“Does it matter?” Gord asked at the same time. “She liked him at one point. Do you want to be loved by the same woman who once also loved Joey?”
“That seems unreasonably harsh,” Finch said just as Robin arrived, letting himself into the apartment. “I would argue that Joey is far more alluring than Amare. I’ve never once seen him wear pink.”
“Salmon!” Amare shouted as Finch stood up to meet Robin at the door, laughing to himself. “It’s not pink, it’s salmon!”
“Hey, bud, you know salmon is a shade of pink, right?” Robin asked him, inserting himself seamlessly into the conversation. Amare glared at the pair of them.
“You two deserve each other,” he said in a low voice, teeth gritted. He made it sound like a bad thing, but Finch was inclined to disagree.
Robin and Finch drove to Evan’s mother’s house in Robin’s car. Finch suspected that was largely why they’d been asked to help him move, although there was a strong chance he didn’t have a vast pool of friends to draw on either. Finch didn’t think their prospects of being able to bunk off early or only do a minimal amount of work were very promising. He assumed they would be there until the bitter end. Robin was irritated by this and it hadn’t even happened yet.
“How do I keep being roped into helping people move?” He grumbled bitterly in the car on the way over. “I don’t even like Evan.”
“No one likes Evan,” was Finch’s response. “Presumably his mother doesn’t even like him. That’s why he has to move out.”
He wasn’t sure if this was true. There was also a chance he was just tired of living at home as a twenty-eight year old. There was also a stronger chance he was tired of living in a home filled with terrifying porcelain dolls. Those would even keep Finch up at night.
When they arrived at Evan’s mother’s bungalow of nightmares, they discovered that Evan had only asked two other people to help him move. One of them was his cousin Debra-Lee, who had more strength in one of her arms than Finch did in his entire body. She was quite short and compact, but she was able to carry two separate bookshelves at once out of the house and into the moving truck Evan had rented. She was a definite asset. And the other person Evan had asked him to move was Finch’s ex-boyfriend Mason. Finch stopped dead in his tracks and openly stared the minute he saw him. He looked good, as good as always, and just as damn cheery as always. Finch and Mason had dated for an entire year before things went south and, according to Gord, Gavin, and Amare alike, that it lasted as long as it did was a bloody miracle.
Mason and Finch were very different people. Mason had become a motivational speaker. He liked buoying the spirits of the severely downtrodden. He enjoyed things like wearing artful scarves and going for brunch. Finch’s parents had adored Mason because he was so kind and charming. Finch suspected his mother had been hoping that, under Mason’s influence, Finch would mature into someone more careful and fun. But that clearly had not happened, which was primarily why their relationship hadn’t worked out. Well, that and the fact that Mason’s constant cheeriness, especially in the mornings, had aggravated Finch to the point that he had considered smothering him with a pillow while they were on a camping trip with some of Mason’s friends.
“Oh, hello, Nick!” Mason greeted him with a smile. Of course he was smiling. Of course he used Finch’s first name. He was the only person, aside from Finch’s immediate family members, that called him Nick. Even Finch’s parents called him Nicholas, refusing to indulge any kind of nickname. And his two older brothers primarily referred to him as Little Nicky, so even that wasn’t quite the same. Mason had once said that, in order for them to properly bond as a couple, there could be nothing so trivial as nicknames keeping them apart. He claimed that “Finch” was a barrier between their most base forms of being. Finch thought it was just his last name and also cooler than being called Nick like four billion other people, but at the time he had managed to convince himself that Mason was his one true love so he had let it happen. Hearing it now was like listening to someone run their nails down a chalkboard as they simultaneously scraped fork tines along a metal pot.
“Who the fuck is Nick?” Robin asked Finch, looking behind him as if expecting to find another human there, waiting to be acknowledged by Mason and his super watt smile. But then it dawned on Robin. “Oh, you’re Nick. Right. I always forget that you have a first name. In my mind, I think of you like Cher.”
Finch wasn’t quite sure how he felt about being compared to Cher in Robin’s mind on a frequent basis. At least Robin had never once called him Nick.
“That’s nice,” Finch told him in a flat voice. Robin just laughed in his face and then went off in search of Evan so that he could begin moving things. Robin had decided that he was going to move things as quickly as possible in the hopes that he would then be able to leave sooner. Finch admired his tenacity and his dedication to spending as little time as possible in Evan’s presence, though he suspected it was largely in effort to avoid spending copious amounts of time in Evan’s mother’s den of horrors.
“How’ve you been?” Mason asked. Finch had been hoping that he would be able to slip out after Robin and never have the conversation Mason was clearly dying to have. When they broke up, Mason claimed he hadn’t gotten enough closure. He sent a multitude of messages to Finch following the break-up claiming just that and Finch had ignored every single one, partly because he didn’t care, partly because it wasn’t a conversation he wanted to have, but mostly because it made him feel uncomfortable to think about. He wasn’t exactly sad that their relationship had ended, but he had felt rather lost at the time, like he couldn’t quite figure out who he was supposed to be and whether or not there was something wrong with him. His parents clearly wanted him to be more like Mason, but he didn’t think he could actually be more like Mason. Surely who he was as a person was their fault anyway. They created him. They raised him. They should just be happy with it or else keep their complaints to themselves.
“Fine,” Finch returned. Mason waited for him to ask how he’d been, but Finch wasn’t going to do that, largely because he didn’t care how Mason had been.
“I’ve been great too,” Mason offered after far too long a pause. To anyone else, that awkward silence would’ve been a clear sign that Finch was not interested in having this conversation. But Mason had never been one to take no for answer, especially where Finch was concerned. He would prod until Finch delivered what he felt was an appropriate response so that they could better connect emotionally. He was always trying to connect emotionally, indiscriminately as well. He’d tried to connect emotionally to Gord once as well regarding the death of Gord’s father, which hadn’t gone spectacularly well. In fact, it had ended in tears (Mason’s) and an extreme amount of expletives (Gord’s).
“Good,” Finch returned after another very lengthy pause.
“Evan called me up to help him move,” Mason started. “Said he missed me. That’s nice, isn’t it? Remember when I used to come and visit the two of you at the record store all the time. Evan’s such a nice guy. He said he missed being my friend.”
Evan wasn’t a terribly harsh man. He was generally guileless. But Finch was almost one hundred per cent certain that he didn’t give a damn about Mason or his friendship. He’d just wanted help moving out of his mother’s house of terror.
“Okay,” Finch said when it became obvious that Mason was expecting him to reply. That clearly wasn’t the response he’d been expecting. Finch ignored the disappointed look on his face and took off in the direction Robin had disappeared so that he too could get this over with quickly.
He found Robin in what appeared to be Evan’s bedroom, loading boxes onto a trolley. Evan had gone to check if his mother had packed up his comic book collection. He couldn’t move out without his Archies. It seemed Evan’s room hadn’t been changed much since childhood, especially if the clown-printed throw pillows on the bed were anything to go by.
“It’s like his mother is actively trying to drive people away,” Robin remarked in a hushed voice, waving a hand in the direction of the pillows. “Like, she could not be creepier if she tried. This house is where dreams go to die. No wonder he’s moving out. Who would sleep with him in this bed? He’ll be alone forever if he keeps those pillows. Maybe that was her plan all along. Maybe she was hoping to keep him here for all eternity in her lair of doom and evil with all the other possessed children I assume she has chained up in the attic.”
“I don’t think there is an attic,” Finch offered in response.
“Basement, fruit cellar, spare room, whatever,” Robin said dismissively. “So who’s that guy? The one who called you Nick?”
Robin wiggled his eyebrows at that, but also looked slightly horrified, which Finch appreciated.
“My ex-boyfriend,” Finch answered dully, almost wishing it wasn’t true. Robin’s immediate reaction was to laugh.
“That dork? Really? The smiley dude with the keenness and the scarf?” He checked.
“Miles told me that your last ex-girlfriend was a scrapbooker,” Finch retorted shrewdly.
“Yeah, but she was never as cheery as that,” Robin countered.
“Probably because she was a scrapbooker,” Finch pointed out. Robin elbowed him in the chest so Finch grabbed him by the crook of his elbow and pulled him closer so that they were standing nose to nose in Evan’s unsettling childhood bedroom.
“You’re an asshole,” Finch told Robin in a low voice.
“Yeah,” Robin agreed readily in the same tone.
“I love you,” Finch told him. It was the first time either one of them had said it. It felt like it had taken an absurdly long time. There was a chance Robin would’ve preferred it to have been done more romantically, perhaps not in the childhood bedroom of one of their co-workers.
“I love you too,” Robin returned, not seeming upset or disappointed or surprised even. Finch kissed him and then they returned to moving boxes of Evan’s crap out of his bedroom. Finch did his best to ignore Mason for the rest of the day. He was the past. Finch was happy now, even if he didn’t smile any more than usual; Robin never asked him to.