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welcome spiders

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Since he'd bought the table from that shop, he'd been noticing a lot more spiders in the flat. Oliver blames it on the table, as a joke. Neither he nor Graham kill any of the spiders, though, instead opting to excuse them out of the room if either one is in a rush -- kinda rude of the little things to be in the bathroom while someone's taking a shower or on the toilet, don't they know that? -- and recently Graham's suggested just dropping the little things off in the 'storage cupboard'.

"Really?" Oliver wrinkles his nose at the thought of having to grab some eventually-needed item out of there while an entire community of spiders live there.

Graham shrugs. "Well, we're not killing them, are we?"

"They're not paying rent, either."

Graham laughs at that, as he always does. Oliver's grateful in a small way; he's not focusing on the table, for once. At least for a short while.

 


 

When Oliver comes home one evening after visiting his dad, he's got a funny look on his face.

"What's up?" Graham asks, looking up from the table with wide eyes, and Oliver understands that to mean that his boyfriend's been his usually jumpy self. Gotta get rid of that thing, he thinks, before the answer comes out.

"Oh, I just... thought I saw one of the neighbours across the road... staring at our flat."

"Oh. Ohhh, that's probably Amy."

"Amy?"

"Used to do a course together. You remember me telling about her getting--"

"Oh right!"

"A concussion-- yeah! Anyway, I think she's just a harmless people-watcher, that's all. I don't mind it."

There's a long pause: Oliver's halfway out of his jacket, the same look as before forming on his face again, and Graham stares off past the corner of the table. Oliver wants to raise the issue -- he doesn't know how -- but he knows that Graham hates making a fuss, hates all the faff about anything at all, and Oliver remembers the arrangements surrounding Desmond and Samantha's deaths and funeral and how Graham just could not cope with it, instead locking himself in his childhood bedroom and cry-screaming for hours.

Still, the fact that Graham's old classmate is watching them -- or just Graham? Graham and his odd table? -- bothers him.

"... It's not even a bit weird?"

"Well, it's a bit weird, yeah, but harmless. And I don't mind it." Graham shifts then, after what seems like a moment's consideration. "Does it bother you? I can talk to Amy, but I just... don't wanna let on that I know where she lives. She seems a bit skittish about that sort of thing--"

"A tad hypocritical--"

"I know, but..." Graham shrugs, tipping the ash of his cigarette into the cigarette bowl. "Just don't like stirring things up, you know."

"Yeah," Oliver concedes as he comes over to kiss Graham on the cheek, "I know. You coming to bed soon?"

"In a bit. I've just gotta write something down in a bit."

Oliver never asks what it is with the notebooks, has never even peeked in them. He'll wish he had, even if it'd make no sense to him.

 


 

Oliver's dad had taken a fall and needed someone to look after him, as much as the old man hates people fussing over him. Graham had offered to go, almost trading on Oliver's heel out the door, but he assured Graham that everything would be fine and the old man just needed some R&R. Besides, it'd be bad enough with his own son turning up, nevermind what Adrian would term a 'gaggle' of people 'harassing' him just because of a misstep. So Graham nodded quietly and stayed behind, making Oliver promise to call when he could.

And Oliver did. And Oliver grew concerned when Graham stopped answering his calls after two weeks. So with a reluctant farewell to his dad, and with some concealed concern from Adrian, Oliver cut his stay short and travelled home.

The man in their shared flat was not his Graham.

Just some smiling blond thing, shorter, square-faced, not his softer and bug-eyed and constantly-smelling-of-cigarettes Graham.

Oliver just leaves again, afraid to ask. Heads back up to his dad's and mumbles something about a break-up. He only ever skirts around Graham's name once.

 


 

("Oh yeah, Amy asked me if we were-- if I was growing anything."

"... What?"

"Yeah, it was after her concussion, so I think she was just a little out of it."

"Sounds right."

"Think she thought we had a window box. Funny what you think you see, isn't it? And what you don't see, because I don't think she's ever seen you, funnily enough."

"Huh. Odd.")