Looking Glass Self

Devon sat in the kitchen silently, rolling the half-empty bottle of beer between his hands. Light streamed in from the streetlamp outside, painting shadows along the wall, along his face, his body.

I leaned against the wall, watching him.

He tilted his head back, raised his bottle in a salute to nothing at all, and drank. He kicked a chair out from under the table and stretched out, managing to sprawl out on our cheap little dinette set. He held the bottle up again, staring at it, through it, looking thoughtful. He turned his head and smiled a little. "Hey."

"Hey," I said. "Are you okay?"

Devon shrugged. "Yeah, I guess." He held the bottle out to me. "Want?"

"No, thank you."

He shrugged again. "Okay."

I didn't move. He'd tell me what was bothering him eventually, or he wouldn't. I had my suspicions about what was wrong.

"I had dinner with Maggie tonight," he said. I haven't heard that tone from him in a while. Not since...a long time. Years.

I nodded. "How is she?"

"Good." He looked down and started picking at a tear in the leg of his jeans. "Kevin's good too. And the kids."

"That's good." I didn't know what else to say. Maggie -- Devon's sister, Magdalena -- and I have never gotten along.

Devon looked up at me and smiled. I moved then, before I could think, and stood next to him. He caught my hand and tugged me closer, until I was sitting on his lap facing him. I hooked my feet around the rungs of the chair. He laid a hand against my jaw, tilting my head up gently.


"Shh." His eyes were dark. "I don't..."

"S'okay," I whispered.

Devon nodded, sliding his hands down my back and pulling me closer. He buried his face in my shoulder and sighed quietly. I stroked his back through the thin fabric of his t-shirt. He just shifted closer, arms tightening around my waist. "Oz?"


"I...she..." The muscles of his back tensed slightly. "Nothing. It's nothing."

I nodded. "It's okay."

"No," he said softly. "It's not."

I touched his hair. "You can tell me, you know."

"I know." Devon sighed again, lifting his head. "Thanks."

Close as we are, at that moment, he seemed totally unfamiliar. Maybe he was. I kissed him softly.

He pulled away. Just a little. Barely. But he pulled away.

"Ah," I said. It fit. Dinner with Maggie. Dinner with Maggie, his way zealous sister. I closed my eyes for a moment. If there was one thing Devon's family could be counted on to do, it was lay on the guilt. They were good at that. Sometimes, I thought it was their mission in life to make everyone around them miserable. Sometimes.

I stood up.

"Oz..." Devon looked at me. "Stop, don't. I'm being stupid. I shouldn't let her get to me."

I shook my head. Swallowed. "No, s'okay. Dev, really. I'm just tired. And I have that interview tomorrow at the museum. I'm gonna bail."

He nodded. "Night."


I left, then. When I looked back, Devon had tilted the chair back and was staring out the window. The bottle was resting in his lap, and he looked...sad.

I walked away quickly. Bed was cold, and lonely. And cold. I lay there for a while, counting the cracks in the ceiling until that gave me a headache. I turned onto my side, pulling the sheets up around my shoulders and closing my eyes. Pretend sleep was almost as good as the real thing.

Devon came in quietly. That surprised me. He's never been a quiet sort of person. He says, does, thinks whatever he wants and doesn't care who knows it. Or maybe that's not really him. I don't know. I thought I did.

He sat on the edge of the bed, and I could feel myself start to slip towards him. My mattress sucked. He stretched out next to me, propping his head up on one hand. He must have thought I was alseep. See? I said pretend was almost as good as the real thing. Sometimes it's better.

Devon touched my shoulder with his free hand. "I had dinner with Maggie tonight," he whispered.

I didn't move.

"She asked about you. Asked if you were..." His hand tightened on my arm. I don't think he noticed. "She said stuff, man. Bad things. Asked if you were such a good lay that hell would be worth it."


He laughed, a soft puff of air against my neck. "I hate her sometimes, Oz. I do. She doesn't have the right. She doesn't. I tell myself that I don't care, and I don't. Really." He rested his forehead against my back. "I don't care."

There was something wet trickling down my back. I didn't move. There was more.

"I'm so not okay, man. It's not even funny how un-okay with all this I am." I could feel his breathing. His body shook with something. Tears, I think. Or anger. Or...I didn't know. I didn't know anything. "I'm scared, Oz. Fuck, I'm so tired of being scared like this."

I was cold.

"You deserve better," he said. I almost didn't hear him. "You deserve someone like Willow. Only less of a skank. You should have someone smart, and quiet, and not fucked up. Christ, Oz, I'm sorry. I should go, and you'll find someone, and it'll be good."

I was shaking, and my chest felt tight. I could have killed Maggie for making him like this.

"I'm so scared," Devon whispered again. He shifted closer to me, sliding his hand around to rest on top of my stomach. "Fuck, I'm cold. Don't be mad at me, Oz. Please."

I closed my eyes tightly.

He pulled me closer, and his voice was quieter. "She said I was unnatural."

I was going to kill her. I was. Slowly.

"Don't care. She's a stupid shit, anyway," he mumbled. "M'cold."

"Dev?" I turned onto my back. He stared at me silently, body tense and shaking. "Come here, baby. It's okay."

He curled up tight next to me and I stroked his hair. "Don't care. She's stupid."


I felt a trembling smile against my neck. "Love you."

I smiled, even though he couldn't see. "I love you too."