"Your place is officially the. Smallest. Flat. Ever."
It wasn't worth a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records, perhaps, but Elijah's apartment was small: a bedroom, a living-room-slash-kitchen, a bathroom. Though maybe, Dom thought, the ridiculously tiny size of that bathroom was worth a mention in the Guinness book. It just wasn't normal to be half standing in the shower stall when you shaved over the sink.
It seemed that the place had gotten even smaller since Dom had moved in, considering that, as Elijah had eloquently put it the day he'd rammed his big toe on one of Dom's suitcases, Dom had "brought a whole fucking half of England" with him.
But the current spat was about the sofa. It was big and ugly, and they'd gotten it for fifty bucks at a garage sale. It was twice the size of Elijah's old one, which was now in his mother's house. They had bought the new sofa for Dom to use as a bed because, and Dom used the term loosely, it "unfolded". Unfortunately, they had never been able to open it correctly, and there was a third of the mattress that wasn't at level with the other two thirds. On top of that pain in the back, the sofa, once unfolded to its full length, took up the entire living-room-slash-kitchen.
They had never bothered folding the sofa back in place during the day -- that would require removing all the sheets, and they were usually in too busy or just plain too lazy to do so.
They sat or lay on it to watch TV and eat. Dom had learnt fast enough to make his bed in the morning if he didn't want to go back to sleep with food crumbs in the sheets.
That afternoon in the middle of February, however, they were washing the sheets, and Dom had decided that it would be nice to see the color of the living room carpet again. So to the sound of Elijah's latest musical discovery, they set out to fold the bed back into a sofa. But, as it turned out, it's not that easy of a task to fold back a sofa bed when you have no room to stand around it.
"Maybe we should just try it from on top of the bed." Elijah suggested. He climbed on the bed and knelt near the foot of it. "Come on," he waved Dom over.
Dom knelt next to him. They stretched over the foot of the bed, grabbed the lower edge, and attempted to draw it up. There was much grunting, moaning, and pulling, and the sofa bed creaked a lot, but barely moved an inch.
"Ow!" Elijah pulled his hand away swiftly and brought his index finger to his mouth.
Dom gave one last jerk on the mattress and it folded in front of them with a thud. He turned to Elijah with a proud grin. Elijah looked at him with a kicked puppy look and sucked on his injured finger. "You ok?" Dom asked.
"I pricked my finger on something under the mattress," he mumbled, finger still in his mouth. "Loose spring, I think. Fucking piece of crap."
"Poor baby. Let me see," Dom said, taking Elijah's hand. He held the wet finger close to his face and inspected it. "Looks fine." A drop of blood began to seep out of the tiny cut. "Hmm, still bleeding." He slowly put the finger back between Elijah's lips.
"It's alright," Elijah said, taking his finger out of his mouth, "I'll just put a band-aid over it." He climbed off the bed and went to the bathroom.
"I've got glow-in-the-dark Scooby-Doo band-aids under the sink!" Dom shouted after him. He frowned when Elijah walked back in the room with a plain band-aid on his finger. "You're so boring."
"Let's get this done already," Elijah said. He stood at the foot of the bed in the space vacated by the part of the sofa they'd already managed to fold. Dom hopped next to him. They grabbed the mattress from underneath and pushed it up. It gave way easier than the first part, folding itself almost immediately. That had been unexpected, and Dom and Elijah had put too much strength in lifting the bed. It snapped shut abruptly and two springs violently pierced through the mattress, making them jump back in surprise.
"Well, that'll be comfy," Dom said.
Elijah scratched his head. "Could be worse. At least they've pierced underneath the mattress."
"That's it, I'm done with this," Dom said. "It's a health hazard. I'm not sleeping on something that could shish-kebab me during the night!"
Elijah sighed. "You're right." He pulled on one of the loose springs. "We need a new sofa bed."
"No, no, no. I need a new place."
"Oh, come on! You've only been here two months. We're having fun," Elijah said. "Well, except when it comes to housekeeping," he added, looking around.
"Lij, I want to stay too, but let's face it: a one-bedroom apartment is too small for two people."
"Oh, I love this song. What's the title?" Elijah said, conveniently avoiding replying to Dom's remark.
He picked up the CD that lay next to the player. "Room 13. I wonder if the lyrics are in here." He began flipping the pages of the booklet. "Janie and Rick share a one-bedroom apartment, and they're fine," he said distractedly. "It's just a matter of... space management," he waved distractedly.
"Janie and Rick are dating. They share the bed, for one," Dom said. "I mean, remove that huge thing," he punched the sofa's back, "from here and the place is as big as a fucking ballroom." He looked around the room. "Well, a very small ballroom."
Elijah looked up. "You could live in the big house," he suggested.
"For the hundredth time: I know," Dom said, "but I'd rather not impose on your mother."
"But imposing on me...?"
"... is one of my only remaining joys in life."
"What a sad, sad existence you lead," Elijah said, going back to his CD booklet.
"Elijah," Dom took the booklet from Elijah's hand and made him pay attention for a moment.
"Look, I need to move out. I can't stay here forever."
"But I like having you around," Elijah said softly.
"I like living here as well, but we both need more personal space. I have to get my own place. That was the plan when I moved here, wasn't it?"
Elijah stared at the floor. "Yeah."
"Don't worry, you'll get used to living by yourself again." He leaned in and kissed Elijah's cheek. "I'll find something close by, we'll still see each other all the time."
"Unless..." Dom trailed off until Elijah looked at him with a curious frown. "We get a bigger place together." He waited for a reaction from Elijah but got nothing. Elijah just looked at a point over Dom's shoulder, fidgeting. "Listen," Dom said. "I understand if you don't want to leave your apartment."
"No, it's not-- Just let me talk to my mother about it, alright?" Elijah said.
He expected a mocking reply of the type "momma's boy" from Dom, and was surprised when Dom just smiled at him and said, "Sure. I understand."
Dom turned back to look at the broken sofa bed. Hands on his hips, he stared at it for a while before saying, "But in the meantime, I've got to sleep on the floor."
"Come on, don't be ridiculous," Elijah said. "We can share my bed for a few nights, it won't kill us."
"Thanks," Dom said. "But I gotta say, I sleep in the nude," he added with a smirk.
"Not anymore, you don't," Elijah muttered, taking the CD booklet back from Dom.
"Glad to see you've deigned to put clothes on," Elijah looked up from the bed as Dom entered the bedroom from the bathroom, wearing boxers and a worn out t-shirt.
"I wouldn't dream of traumatizing my poor, virginal roommate with my manly body," Dom pinched Elijah's cheek as a great-aunt would.
"I'm not a virg-- oh, fuck off." Elijah slapped Dom's hand away.
Dom slid under the sheets and sat next to Elijah, leaning against the headboard. The bed was only a full, rather than a queen or king, but a bigger one wouldn't have left any space in the bedroom for dressers. A situation that Dom thought could be easily solved if Elijah moved in with him.
"Small bed -- guess we'll have to cuddle," Dom said. Elijah rolled his eyes then threw himself down on the bed, wrapped in the sheets and facing away from Dom.
Dom grinned. He licked his finger and stuck it into Elijah's ear, making him to jump up.
"What the fuck?" he said, rubbing his ear.
"Hey, calm down. I'm just playing with you."
"I'm trying to sleep," Elijah said, still picking at his ear. "God, Dom, this is gross."
"So, do you have an answer for me? About us getting a bigger place together?"
"It sure as hell ain't gonna happen if you keep sticking your wet, freakishly long fingers in my ears."
Dom grabbed Elijah's wrist and pulled his hand away from rubbing his ear. "I'm serious."
"You shouldn't pull pranks when you try to be serious," Elijah said, any anger towards Dom gone.
"It's an involuntary gesture... an instinct." Dom shrugged.
"I thought you only acted silly in serious situations when you were nervous," Elijah said with a teasing smile. "Do I make you nervous, Dom?"
"No, it's just that... waiting for answer, it's making me restless," Dom said. A deep blush spread from his cheeks to the tip of his ears. "I'm sorry, you take your time. Good night." He lay on his side, pulling the covers over his head.
"Ok," Elijah said.
Dom raised himself on one hand, turning back to face Elijah. "Ok, what?"
"I'll do it."
Dom's face lit up. "Really?" he asked, and Elijah nodded slightly. Dom wrapped an arm around Elijah's shoulders, pulled his friend towards him and pressed a loud kiss on his cheek. "You're the best. I'll find us a real estate agent tomorrow."
"Couldn't we just look at newspaper ads?"
"I'd rather work with a professional when looking into a new house."
"Er, house? Dom, I thought you wanted us to get an apartment. I don't want to buy anything."
"You can rent houses," Dom said.
"Heh," Elijah shrugged, unconvinced.
"At any rate, we can always visit both. And we get whichever place we like best, house or apartment. Just as long as it's bigger than this place."
"All right, works with me."
"We'll just have to look into something we can get soon. I'm not spending a month with you in that tiny bed. And you won't even cuddle with me," he said with a mock pout.
Elijah pushed Dom down on the bed. "Go to sleep, Sblom." He turned his back to Dom and shut off the bedside lamp. "And don't you dare hog the covers," he added admonishingly.
"And don't you dare snore," Dom replied on the same tone.
Elijah smiled in the dark. "Good night, Dom."
The real estate agent, Ann, was nice but overly enthusiastic. They were at their 8th visit of the day, and she was still spouting out words at eighty miles per hour. Ann was currently leading them to see the bedrooms, all the while describing the specifics of the house, to which neither Elijah nor Dom was paying attention.
"I don't know, Dom," Elijah said as they followed Ann upstairs. "We shouldn't get a house. It's too big. I prefer apartments. Why can't we get an apartment?"
"Because we won't share a wall with a neighbor this way, and we'll have a backyard," Dom said. "I got used to living in a house in New Zealand. I miss it."
"Our houses in New Zealand were cared for. It didn't really matter if they were too big."
"They were cared for? Mine wasn't. They paid for yours?"
"No, housework was taken care of. Have you seen the size of this place?" Elijah said. "Can you imagine, we'll have to clean all of this?"
"Oh, Christ, we'll just hire a maid," Dom said, exasperated. "Please tell me you have a better argument against us living in a house."
But Elijah had already turned his attention back to Ann and didn't reply. She'd just led them into the first bedroom: it was hot pink and yellow with suns-and-rainbows wallpaper on the wall opposite the door.
"Of course, you might wish to repaint this room. The others have nice colors, at least in my opinion. But this one, especially if one of you decides to take it, will definitely have to be redone. Kristy -- she's this room's current owner -- picked those colors, and she loves them, but she's nine years old, and we know that nine-year-old's tastes often don't match those of young men in their twenties. Twenties, right?"
"What?" Dom said, dizzy from the flow of words that came out of Ann's mouth in less than ten seconds. "Huh, yeah. Twenty-one and twenty-five." He turned to Elijah, who was, by all appearances, horrified by the colors of the room. He stood staring in front of him with unblinking eyes, mouth slightly opened.
Ann walked to the window. "The view is fantastic from here, however. I'm told the sunrise -- or was it sunset? Maybe both -- are quite the sight. And you can see almost the entire city from here, it must be beautiful at night. You can see that far because the house is on a hill, I've mentioned this before, right? Less chances of floods, too, because of that."
While she talked, Dom touched Elijah's arm and leaned in close to him. "Colors are a little loud, aren't they?" He whispered in Elijah's ear, a hint of amusement in his voice.
Elijah turned slightly towards him. "Loud? I've gone deaf," he whispered back. "Dom, I hate this place. I don't care if it's got a great view or all that shit. It's too big and we would have to redecorate most of it."
"Yeah, I want a house, but not this house." Dom said.
"Well, it's not a problem," said Ann, who had been listening to their conversation. "You know what you guys need? A duplex. You know, those houses divided into two residences? It's relatively small, and you'd have your own backyard. Sure, you'd share a wall with the neighbor, but it's only one wall, you don't have a neighbor above or below, and it's usually very sound-proof, better than apartment buildings, at least."
"That's an excellent idea." Dom looked at Elijah. "What do you think, Lij?"
"Sounds pretty good, actually. Do you have anything we could visit today?"
Ann flipped through her notebook. "Let's see... I have something in Beverly Hills that we could visit today. It's brand new, nobody's ever lived in it. It's probably got this modern look to it--"
"We'd rather stay in Santa Monica," Elijah said, interrupting her as politely as he could.
"Ok, Santa Monica... I don't have anything right now. But I can make a few phone calls and we can visit more duplexes in a few days. There's this place I'm thinking about, if you'd like to check it out, it's a duplex in Santa Monica. I need to tell the owners before we visit, but I'm sure we could drop by tomorrow. The only problem is that it won't be available until the end of the month."
"We can wait two weeks, I think," Dom said.
"Perfect, then it's settled. I'll set it all up, then call you later today, to see if we can meet again tomorrow. I'm sure you'll love this place. According to the photos, it's tastefully decorated. And there are bay windows in the living room, they let light in, it must be beautiful..." She continued babbling while she led them downstairs and out of the house.
"Two weeks?" Elijah said to Dom as they followed her. "I'm sorry dude, but you're gonna have to take the guest bedroom in the main house in the meantime. Or go back to your broken sofa bed."
"What's so bad about us sharing your bed?" Dom grinned. "Too much of a test of will to keep your hands off, huh?"
"You snore, you cunt. And you have the coldest toes in the world."
"My fingers are cold too, see?" Dom slipped a hand under the back of Elijah's shirt. He felt the skin shiver under his fingertips.
Elijah jumped. "Dom!" he squealed, his voice as low as he could. He pushed Dom's hand away.
"Come on, you love it, admit it," Dom said with smirk.
"No, I don't," he snapped. "Give it up, will you? I wouldn't want Ann -- or anyone else -- to get the wrong idea."
Ann turned to them as she stepped into her car. "Talk to you later, guys, ok? Good bye!"
"Thanks," Elijah said to her. "Bye." He got behind the wheel of his own car, while Dom rode shotgun.
"Sorry," Dom said after they rode in awkward silence for a moment. "I hadn't realized it made you uncomfortable when I did stuff like that."
"No, I overreacted. I'm sorry. Dom, you've been my friend for over two years, don't you think I would've said something earlier if it bothered me? You've always been this way."
"Yeah," Dom said unenthusiastically, staring out the window. "Always been this way." Elijah glanced at him, his eyes barely leaving the road, but he saw it in Dom's face and heard it in his voice : there would be no more playful naughty teasing. Elijah felt like he'd just killed a part of Dom.