Pecking Order

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"So, what does being your lover mean?" I say. If I wanna get a clear answer about what we're doing together, it's now or never.

I should address my fears first. "Are you... seeing other people?"

"No," says Domenica, troubled. "Are you?"

"Not seeing anyone else either," I say.

It's not enough to reassure Domenica on the topic. "Do you wish to see other people?"

I shrug at the idea. "Not really. I'm pretty monogamous, but I have a few friends who aren't so I don't take that stance for granted."

Domenica sighs in relief. "OK. Good. I think I'm very monogamous. I'm not fine with sharing you with anyone."

I nod. I don't like the idea of sharing her either. "What about Nathan? I have a feeling you've let me into his life pretty quickly. Are you expecting me to be his mom's 'nice friend'? A role model? I like the idea that you didn't try to hide me, but I'm at loss over who I'm supposed to be with him."

Domenica thinks. "I don't want you to be a parent, if that's what you're asking. I raised him on my own until now and I like to think we're doing pretty good. I like how he seems to looks up to you, so you can be a different kind of role model if you want it to be so, but he is not your responsibility. I'm the mom." She smiles. "By the way, I made no mysteries about being gay. We had that talk a long time ago. He doesn't think you're my 'friend'."

I have to pause and think. Other questions I could ask. Other things that unsettled me. "Hum, yeah, I have another question. Is it all right if I come here so often? I've basically been at your house every day since we met. I think the thing I'm most insecure about is that I don't know anything about your boundaries. What kind of relationships you've had, what you like, what space in your life I could take. And you don't know anything about me in that regard either. It's fine because it's been less than a week, but we've almost been living together these last few days, so... I think some things deserve to be straightened out."

Domenica reaches out and hugs me. "Is it OK if I hug you?" she says. I nod into her hair. "Truth is, I don't know what space we're supposed to leave for each other either," she says. "Ever since I met you I've been so amazed at how naturally we come together and interact. I got used to having you around in like five seconds. Now I feel a little bit like crap because you just told me that this feeling wasn't mutual, that you're feeling lost and I didn't see it." She hugs me a little tighter. Sometimes I wonder how fragile exactly she is inside, behind all those layers of awesomeness. "Thing is," she says, "I'd love to tell you everything you need to hear right now, but for a lot of things I don't know much more than you do. If I seem to be unfazed, that's not truly what I feel. I'm just a little bit more used to navigate uncertainties, I think. I don't know how I can give you absolute boundaries, or a vision for the future. I just thing we're good together and I'd like it to continue. I want to keep getting to know you and your expectations. But I can't like those moments if they make you feel bad about us."

Wow. She's thinking way too deeply about my remarks. "It's not that bad, Domenica," I say. "I'm not saying I'm unhappy. I'm saying... that I need moments like the one we're having right now, where we can voice what we fear, what we want. Little times off where we get to hear each other's thoughts, instead of guessing. I'm happy with you, but I need sometimes to tidy up. Untangle the threads. Is it something you're willing to do with me once in a while?"

"Yes, completely," she says, nodding hard. I think she's really relieved. "I'm also very happy that we get to talk about all this. Also, if what you need is for me to explain past relationships like you suggested, it's something that I can do. Not the most exciting story I could tell a lover, but if it makes you more secure, it's no problem. I'm open about it."

I put my chin in my hands, thinking. "I might take you up on that," I say, raising my face to meet her eyes. I push aside a lock of hair that hides them. "Another time when we have a few hours and nothing to do? Should I talk about my experiences too?"

She smiles. "Sure! I'm dying to know who could have let go of such a little wonder." She lays a hand on my cheek and caresses it. I suddenly burn bright red. She kisses me. Our hands, arms, tights get interlocked as we explore each other and reassure ourselves at the same time. It's tempting to go just a little further, to maybe drop one or two layers of clothes — I suddenly feel very hot — but now is not the time. Not yet. Nathan is looking for his stuff around the house and we're preparing to leave tonight. We have a fuckton of things to do.

I really need to go warn my parents and Tig. I don't have much hope in terms of convincing my parents, but Tig is a long time friend. We probably can't count on Leon anymore, even if I'd like to think about something else. In the small moments my mind jumps to them, not knowing what happened to neither him nor Rodrigo kills me. I need to get Tig out of there. It's one of the few times I've felt that listening to my nurturing tendencies is also the moral thing to do.

I'll go with my parents first. It will probably take a long time to get through to them and they have their own car, so I don't have to accompany them out of the city. I get out of Domenica's embrace. That's a really hard thing to do. She looks at me like I just stepped on her favorite CD. I can't help laughing.

"Domenica! I've got to go warn the people I know! We'll have all the time in the world tomorrow to cuddle again," I say, chuckling. "Don't make your cute sorry face, you know it works too well!"

She smiles, lurches forward and pecks my cheek. "That's why I'm doing it," she says.

At that moment, Nathan comes down the stairs with a big box full of toys. I go help him out: the box seems as big as he is. I'm afraid he might fall. I feel irrational pride when I take the box like it weights nothing and he looks so impressed. Yeah, that's what adults are like. They carry boxes like they're made of thin air. I put it down near the entrance with the many others boxes. Good thing Dave has a pick-up.

We keep working for half an hour before I leave. Now their important things are neatly stacked, and I can almost comfortably leave through the front door.

I feel really good about us right now. Galvanized. I know why I like that woman and I know why I'm sticking with her. There's something about what I'm seeing, feeling, while going down to my parents' place, that is clearer. I feel focused. I feel centered.

I just feel happy we talked my anxieties out, I guess. Now I guess I can focus on talking my way through my mom's condescending life explanations. That's not gonna be an easy one: she has an answer for every question she hasn't ever thought of. I have to try, though, or I'm never gonna forgive myself. What if, by the time Domenica's mysterious higher-ups work their mojo, the town actually gets attacked? What if that chicken god rains a storm of chicken or something? The scary thing, with this brand new reality of mine, is that all those things seem at the same time properly stupid and quite possible. Anything could happen now. I wouldn't be that surprised to see this ending up in our evil god's wrestling it out with some mystical first-grade beef. I've got to stop thinking about all these 'what if', because each of them is worse than the previous one.

Anyway, my parents' house is right there and lights are on. I guess we're in for the nicest talk we've had since I came out as gay all those years ago.

Yay! I really, really can't wait.


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