by >>Jae

Everybody likes you.

That's what people say. Oh, Joey, he gets along with everybody. It comes naturally to him. It never occurs to anyone that as a little boy you felt like you were outside looking in a window and you were smart enough to figure out how to get in. You watched. You saw what people wanted, what they needed, when a smile or a joke or a casual arm across the shoulders was called for. You watched for what people wanted, and you gave it to them, and then that window opened and you sailed inside. You've done it long enough that it's become natural. Second nature.

Most people want to like you now, and you need them to less. You don't watch as much anymore. But when you have the desire, you still have the patience. And now you have the desire.

You've been watching him for a long time, for longer than you've known why you were watching him. You thought at first you were fascinated by his difference, by the way he was blond and slight next to your darker strength, tentative where you were brash, shyly glad to shelter behind your gregarious charm. But since then you've seen him brunet and muscled, bearing his own brand of confident charm, and you still watch him. By now you've seen some things about yourself as well, and you know why you're watching him. You're outside another window.

The first time you saw him you knew he had a secret, and that it scared him, and that what he wanted was an easygoing pal who wouldn't question what he was. And that's what you were, close to him but still kept at a careful distance. You watched, and you saw when he wanted an understanding friend to share his secret. And that's what you were, closer to him but still looking in from outside. He was easier then in his skin, relieved and relaxed, but he still thought of it as something just his, something private, something that affected only his family, his faith, his career. He was isolated behind that window, and it hadn't yet occurred to him to want someone else inside.

But the thing about watching at windows is that you catch every change. Most of the time, all you see is the same scene, a picture in a rectangular frame. Same table, same chair, same flowers, day after day after day. But if you put in the time, if you keep watching, something about the sameness sharpens your sight. You see every slight shift, every detail in a slow transformation. You don't miss a thing.

There's a change coming. That window is opening soon, you know it, you can see it. See it in the way his green eyes look around a little more boldly, in the way he smiles a little more widely, in the way he sits beside you a little more eagerly. In the way he watches you.

You're waiting. You know you have to pick your moment carefully. Too soon and you'll bang up against the glass, slam into incomprehension and fear. Too late and someone else will beat you through. But you have the patience and the desire. That's why you watch.

You're not going to miss it.

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