Nine

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Friday.

Sigmund's dad answered the door, which was about the worst possible way to start the evening. Sigmund could hear murmured introductions as he pulled on his shoes and hopped down the stairs half-in, half-out of his jacket, but by the time he reached the door he was pretty sure words like boyfriend and date hadn't been uttered and—thank gods—Lain wasn't carrying flowers or something equally humiliating.

(does that mean this isn't a date?)

"—st go get, oh here he is."

"Hey, Lain." Lain gave a knowing grin and a nod, and Sigmund turned back to his dad. "I'll see you tomorrow, okay, Dad?"

David nodded. "You take care, boys," he said, because apparently not even twenty-two was old enough for a parent to think of his son as anything other than a boy. It was kinda nice, Sigmund supposed, even if maybe a bit embarrassing in front of Lain. His boyfriend. Or something.

David closed the door behind them with a little wave, and Sigmund noticed Lain was trying hard not to laugh.

"What?"

" 'See you tomorrow'? I'm not sure what kind of boy you think I am, Sigmund Sussman."

And, oh jeez. Sigmund was pretty sure his blush could be seen from space. "I, uh. Usually spend the night at Em and Wayne's," he said. Lain's grin and raised eyebrow gave him the impression this wasn't exactly the exonerating statement it'd sounded in his head. "Oh my god! I've known them since I was like . . . Holy shit, is that your car?"

There was . . . a thing in the driveway. It was huge and black and glimmered under the streetlights. The soft top was up against the light evening rain, and through the tinted windows Sigmund could just about make out a flash of red velvet and mirror-finished chrome.

"Uh, yes?" Lain almost sounded embarrassed. "It's totally roadworthy," he added, as if this was Sigmund's main concern.

"I'm not sure I'm badass enough to be allowed to touch this car." The hood ornament was a tiny chrome horse's skull, but other than that it had no obvious maker's badging. "Where on earth did you get this thing?"

Lain just shrugged. "I kinda inherited it," he said and, oddly, this was exactly the truth.

Sigmund popped the door open. The inside was done entirely in bloodred velvet, black leather, and chrome. A skull motif dominated, and a tassel of black feathers hung from the rearview mirror.

It was, Sigmund thought, possibly the gothest car in the entire universe. Em and Wayne would die if they saw it.

Lain climbed into the driver's seat, and the engine rumbled to life. He hadn't used a key. Come to think of it, he hadn't used one to open the doors, either.

The radio started pounding out OK Go as they left Sigmund's driveway. He was just about to comment when Lain started driving like he meant it and talking was no longer Sigmund's highest priority.

There were seven stoplights between Sigmund's house and the mall. Not a single one was red tonight, which Sigmund knew only because he'd cracked his eyes open in terror, checking to make sure they weren't just running them. He didn't even dare to look at Lain. Was it bad manners to leap out of his date's car in mortal fear? If his hands hadn't been clamped around the edge of his seat, Sigmund might even have pulled out his phone and looked it up.

"We're going into town, right?" Lain shouted above the music.

It took effort to answer "Yeah" and not Drive slower, you maniac, but somehow Sigmund managed it.

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