"I know you're here. Your car's in the driveway. Noel just answer the fucking-"

He disconnected the call and tugged the curtains shut, sat on the couch and pulled a pillow onto his lap. He would have grabbed the cat if she wasn't avoiding him, but as it stood, he'd have to deal with inanimate comfort.

Last night, Ryan called and told him he should stop seeing Jamal. They talked about it, and after a long deliberation, he gleaned that Ryan wasn't just jealous. He wasn't saying things to draw Noel into his arms, because he didn't want Noel. Noel doubted he wanted anyone for more than a night, but that was besides the point-

Jamal wasn't any good for him. "You're getting yourself into trouble. I mean, don't get me wrong, Noel, he ain't a bad guy or nothing. He just ain't for you, and you ain't for him, neither. You got that...enabler's personality. You take care of someone, and he don't need that. He needs someone that's gonna kick him in the ass real hard. That just ain't you. No offense meant or nothing, just not gonna work out, man."

Ryan talked dumb, but Noel knew he had a certain intelligence, and that was it. He could decipher people like they were part of a child's puzzle, colorful pieces with obvious places-

And Noel and Jamal didn't fit together.

There was pounding at his door, "Noel, c'mon, open the door. Talk to me at least. You can't just text me. We're not kids, it doesn't work like that. We've been together for five years. You can't just lock me out like this. Noel-"

He was right. Noel couldn't just leave him in the hallway, hollering the neighbor's attention to quiet apartment 4B. Where that single lawyer with the cat lived: the man who tended the garden, drank too much coffee, and fell in love with a drug addict.

Rising, he took little steps to the door and pried it open, not undoing the chain. They looked at each other through a narrow crack; Jamal was damnably handsome, with a strong jaw and sharp green eyes that peered from brown skin. His dreadlocks were askew, his lips parted and nostrils flared until he settled in their gaze. Noel broke eye contact and drifted down his frame, thick with muscle and chest heaving-

With one big hand, Jamal reached and touched Noel's forehead. It was all he could properly reach, "Please?"

Of course, he closed the door, but only to undo the chain and open it again. Ryan may have been right, but people weren't puzzles. They didn't always stay where they belonged.