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another clear and pretty night

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By the time Thomas reaches City Hall for the town meeting, there’s already dozens of people buzzing around, both outside and in the meeting room. It’s a pretty big crowd, for their little town. He adjusts the bag with his mobile equipment on his shoulder. He scans the faces, spotting a handful of unfamiliar figures talking to the mayor.

The intern, Remus, has clearly spotted them as well, because he raises an eyebrow. “They’re new,” he states, bluntly. Thomas laughs a little at the way he says it.

“Yep, those are the, uh, scientists I believe? They called the meeting, said they wanted to introduce themselves to the town and meet some of the citizens.”

Remus hums. “You know, that one with the flannel kinda seems like your type,” he remarks, offhandedly.

Thomas chokes on air. “Wh-- I mean, yes, but you didn’t have to say that!

“I’m gonna go say hi,” Remus smirks.

“No, don’t-- oh my gosh,” He sighs. And then re-adjusts the bag with the mobile equipment, and follows Remus across the room. “I’m the boss here, you can’t just-- run off like that!”

“Sure I can!” Remus crows. And then, to the scientists, “Hi, I’m Remus, from NVCR, and this is my boss, Thomas! Who are y’all?”

One of the group, a young twenty-something man wearing a black polo under his white lab coat, turns to see Remus and blushes furiously. “Hello, I’m gay,” he says, and then his eyes widen. “I mean! I’m Logan. Hi.”

“Oh, nice to meet you, Gay, I mean, Logan,” Remus teases good-naturedly.

Thomas smiles at their antics.

“Kids, huh?” The scientist with the flannel has snuck up next to him, and Thomas startles a little when he speaks.

“Ha, yeah. I mean, he’s not like my actual kid or anything, just my intern, but I definitely get what you mean.” Thomas laughs.

Flannel guy grins at that, and Thomas’ heart flutters at it, because holy crap, he really is super cute, Remus was absolutely right he’s totally Thomas’ type--

“Sorry, I, uh, didn’t catch your name earlier. I’m Nico Flores, just got to town today-- but, um, you probably knew that part.” Nico offers a handshake.

“Oh! Uh, Thomas Sanders. I’m the host at Night Vale Community Radio.” Thomas shakes the offered hand, trying not to let the butterflies he’s feeling show on his face. Nico. That’s such a pretty name.

“That’s so cool! I’ve always thought doing like, voice acting or music would be super cool. What kinds of things do you do on your show?” Nico asks.

Thomas can’t help but grin at that. “It’s just community news, traffic, weather reports, that kind of thing. What about you? You and your team are scientists, right?”

“Yeah!” Nico smiles, fidgeting with the lab coat he's wearing over his flannel. “We came to study Night Vale, did you know that it’s the most scientifically fascinating town in the United States?”

“Oh, well, I mean, it’s just-- our town, y’know? I don’t really see how scientifically interesting it is, but then, I’m also not a scientist.” He says.

A loud exclamation from Remus interrupts their conversation, and Thomas turns to see his intern still next to Logan, who is once more blushing bright red. “Remus, try to keep it down a little,” Thomas sighs.

Remus grins in response. “No promises!” He shouts.

Thomas laughs. “That kid has so much energy, I don’t know how he does it. I thought college students were supposed to be tired all the time,” he jokes.

“Oh, I feel that,” Nico groans. “Logan never stops working, I don’t know how he does it.”

Thomas laughs. “Those two are gonna get along like a house on fire, aren’t they,” he says.

“I get the feeling you just might be right about that.” Nico laughs.

“It is kinda ironic though, that he’s the one flirting with a guy, when he was just teasing me about my love life,” Thomas comments, then immediately wishes he could stuff the words back in his mouth.

Nico doesn’t seem to notice, just laughs. “Oh, yeah? D’you have a, uh, partner?”

“Oh, nope, I am-- I am very single, haha,” Thomas manages to say. Is Nico flirting? Does Nico even like guys? He really hopes so, cause he’s really cute, and Thomas may or may not already be way too in love with him.

“I would’ve thought for sure someone as cute as you would be taken,” Nico smiles. “That’s good to know!”

Okay, that’s definitely flirting, right? That’s kind of a flirty thing to say. What should he say back?

Thomas is thankfully saved from his Gay Panic(™) when the mayor comes over to tell Nico that everyone’s here and they need to start the meeting. He stutters out a bye, and goes to sit down with Remus.

“So, scientists, huh?” Remus says, a faux-innocent tone coloring his voice.

“Oh, shut up,” Thomas laughs. But Nico smiles at him from the front of the room, and his heart undeniably flutters, and he can’t help the smile on his own face.

 

It’s about an hour after the meeting when Thomas starts broadcasting for the night. It’s pretty standard-- a notice from City Council, the community calendar, traffic-- and then he gets to the news.

“A group of scientists came to town today. They said they want to study Night Vale, as it is the ‘most scientifically interesting town in the United States’. I have a hard time believing our home is really so special, but they seem nice enough! They’ve set up a lab in the building next to Big Rico’s.

“At the town meeting, I talked to the head scientist, Nico Flores. He’s very… nice. He’s smart, and has beautiful hair, and when he smiled--

“Well, listeners, I fell in love instantly.”

Thomas sighs a little, smiling. And then realizes he’s still on air, and scrambles for the next piece of news. He sees-- something about the Arby’s? Yeah, that works.

“Lights. Seen in the sky above the Arby’s.” He intones dramatically, continuing with the broadcast like usual.

 

Across town, a scientist glances over at the little radio tuned to NVCR. He smiles to himself at Thomas’ words.

“Is it common here to profess one’s love over the radio?” Logan comments, a hint of a smirk creeping onto his face.

Nico sputters. “Oh, I don’t know, why don’t you ask that intern you were getting along so well with, hm?”

“Oh, okay, I see how it is,” Logan said. “Just because we were having a pleasant conversation--”

“You literally introduced yourself as ‘Hello, I’m gay’, I think that’s a little past a pleasant conversation,” Nico makes air quotes around the words.

“I- hey! That’s- oh, shut up!” Logan turns red, and Nico laughs.

 

There are lights in the sky above the Arby’s. There’s a new group of scientists in town. Things are changing, and it’s the start of something as big and as wonderful as those colors dancing in the sky, just beyond the red neon sign. It’s the start of a story.