He didn't know why he answered the door. He knew who it was, could read the hundred desperate texts clattering in his phone, but he answered the door and said, "What do you want?"
Nel looked sicker but never lost his pretty, always the tarnished silver of humanity because John only saw the hope his hands could fix him. Maybe it would take time, maybe he should have shut the door because the draft was catching and Nel stared expectantly, but he thought of their mother with her mother's jewelry, shining it with toothpaste and toothbrush. She said to him nothing's ever too tarnished to fix and wore that jewelry to her vow renewals. Nel wore John's jacket, the one he stole last time, and spoke like he'd smoked too many cigarettes. "I ain't got somewhere right now."
"You never got somewhere." John clasped his shoulders and drew him into the flush of the house, the dimly lit living room like a lung's cocoon, contracting; Celia was asleep, Gabriel was with her, and he knew his wife and son wouldn't wake. They weren't attuned to the clumsy patter of Nel's breaths, didn't flinch when they heard the motor rumble of his approach, because only John could feel him.
"Yeah." Nel said he could feel him, too, like there was something unfathomable between them. John took his jacket and pet Nel's red cheeks, squeezed the back of his neck and pressed old bruises fresh. Nel looked like someone from another family, tall and pale and blond like he was. "Yeah, John, but I need you right now."
"And you always need me right now, too." John let Nel kiss him anyway, and he thought back to their shared bedroom, the perpetually locked door. He was older, it was his fault. He was older, Nel was his fault, thin like he was, staring like he was.
He always shook somewhat, gleaming when his right parts caught the right reflections. "Yeah, you need me too."
In a hush, in the swell of inhalation, they fumbled to the garage, and John locked the door. He remembered his calluses weren't bristles, and Nel's skin wasn't metallic or ill, and their sex was a thousand silver coins dumped into the ocean, clattering desperately, tarnished.