They were men of rare intellect, articulate geniuses birthed of natural talent and education, and they both sat on a cheap carpet dotted with blood and broken glass. Their breaths ragged, hands trembling, eyes locked fiercely, and Noah was the first to speak, "You're sick." He pushed himself up, driving shards deeper into his palms and fingers, remnants of a beautiful vase glittering in his filthy hair. His face was slick with sweat, red viscosity oozing over his lips, down his neck, staining the collar of his shirt. He looked pathetic, splayed like that, struggling with what dignity he could muster: his chest ached, his legs burned, and his eyes gushed a fluid he named saline.

Feliks stood at once; he had faired better, his knuckles more bruised than his body, but he shivered like a child. His eyes were still wide, his nostrils flared, his lungs heaving. He stared down at Noah and offered a hand to him. It was slapped away and too sudden, he convulsed into sobs, "I didn't mean-"

"Yeah, you never do." Noah stood, a process, and he found himself thinking of the theory of knots: there was only one way for a string to remain in a straight line and an infinite number of ways for it to become tangled, especially when other strings were introduced to the scenario. "Just get out."



"The project-"

"Feliks." Hoarse, and he thought of the necklaces his mother used to keep. She had thin, deft fingers and would spend hours unweaving silver from gold, costume jewelry from real, only to place them all back in the same box. Why do they get tangled? I laid them out so neatly. "I don't need you. I don't need you for this or anything."

"You said you loved me."

"We're talking about work now." And he supposed people were a lot like wires, pulsing electricity and chemical signals, becoming twined in too tight spaces. He worked in a tiny laboratory with Feliks, a lanky man who reminded him of his humanity.

"We're not talking about work and you know it. You know it. I want to be with you, and you keep-"

"We're not together. We're business partners at worst, friends at best, and maybe fuck buddies if that makes you happy. But we're not together."

"Why? You divorced her, you said-"

"Feliks. This conversation is over. I want you to leave."

"You said you'd come out for me."

So many ways to become wrapped around each other, sitting at the same desk. So many ways to breathe the same heat, to know the same heartbeat and impulses. To forget symmetry, the logic of stability, and give into curvature. "I never said that."

"You did."

"I never said that. I won't hear slander. You're off the project." He limped, coveted Feliks's youthful face a last time, and told himself not to get into fights with younger men. He opened the bedroom door and gestured for him to leave.

"You said... You said... Noah, please." Yet, he trudged over the threshold, perhaps driven by guilt. Perhaps driven by loathing or something Noah couldn't understand because he didn't know Feliks that intimately. "I love you."

"Find your way out." The frame rattled behind Feliks, and Noah turned to start sweeping up the vase -an expensive thing that had belonged to his ex-wife- with his jaw clenched in a grimace.

Yes, he understood the theory of knots; two should never have lain in the same desirous box.