I think all that ever really needs to be said at this point is that you never, ever want to be Larabee’s roommate. Really, that could cover things for about four years. Maybe more. Trust me on that one. You just never want to room with Larabee.
It doesn’t matter if you’re broke.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a hapless superhero or a freak with some weird genetic abnormality.
It doesn’t matter if you need to keep that abnormality a secret, and he already knows it.
It doesn’t even matter if you have no other choice.
Never, ever, room with Larabee.
“My eyes… burn… My brain… never be the same…”
“Come on, Clayton, you’re being over dramatic.”
Clayton refused to lift the hand that was covering his eyes. He was not even going to look at Larabee. If he never saw the other man again, it would be too soon. That image was forever burned into his brain, and it was going to haunt and torment him for the rest of his life. He didn’t think that would ever, ever go away. It was horrifying, and he even felt a bit sick to his stomach. “You’ve never actually had a roommate before, have you?”
“Not since I left my parents, no.”
“I am so not surprised.”
“You know, for a friend, you’re rather mean,” Larabee said, grunting as he sat down in the other chair. Clayton grimaced. He needed to go back to his room, lock the door, and stay there. Possibly forever. He was also going to lock the door.
“Larabee, in the first place, I don’t know that we qualify as friends. Secondly, you’re naked,” Clayton reminded him, fighting nausea at the image resurfacing in his head. That was something he had never wanted to see. “Naked in a public area of the house. I know that you’re used to having this place completely to yourself, but you invited me to live here, remember? I help out with some of the expenses. I live here. That means that some common courtesies need to be observed, okay?”
“Oh, no worries. Feel free to go around in the buff whenever you want.”
Clayton gagged and reached for the pillow next to him, throwing it at where he thought Larabee was. “I don’t want to go around naked! That’s not the point. You can’t just go walking around naked when I’m here. I don’t want to see that. Ever.”
“I’m not sure I would have asked you to stay here if I knew you were going to be such a prude,” Larabee muttered. “What is the big deal, anyway? I don’t got anything you don’t got. So it’s not like you haven’t seen that before.”
“I cannot believe that I am having this conversation,” Clayton moaned, curling up on the couch. He would never be the same after this. In fact, he’d be fortunate to survive this place for more than a few days. He couldn’t do this. Yes, he knew that. He was going to have to find another place. Soon.
He couldn’t take Larabee for that long.
“I had no idea you were this much of a drama queen, Clayton.”
“Oh, god! Don’t say that!” Clayton yelled, getting up from the couch and running back to his room. He locked the door behind him and leaned his back against it, sitting on the floor. He didn’t know how to unsee what he had seen, and he didn’t know what to do.
It wasn’t that dramatic. It was creepy. He was starting to think things about Larabee that he did not want to think, and living here was going to be impossible.
What would happen if Clayton had one of his random shifts and turned into a child? And there was Larabee walking around naked… What would anyone think? That would just be wrong on so many levels. Clay needed a new place.
He’d start looking in the morning.
Larabee knocked on the door. “Hey, Clayton? You okay in there?”
“Did you have another shift?”
“No, I’m just traumatized from seeing you naked,” Clayton answered, shaking his head. “Go away, Larabee. I’m… I think I’m going to bed now. I’ll just… try and sleep that off without nightmares. I’m going to have nightmares, though. Pretty sure about that. Yep.”
“You want something to eat? I’ll make dinner.”
“You’re drinking the milk right out of the carton.”
“You go around naked, and I bought this milk,” Clayton grumbled unhappily. He had plenty of reasons to be upset. He had shifted into a five year old as he was supposed to be leaving for work. He had to call and say he’d be late—only he couldn’t even call. He had meant to make recordings of his normal voice for occasions like this, but he didn’t have a laptop anymore. He also couldn’t find anywhere else to live. Everything was out of his price range. He couldn’t afford to replace anything.
He was stuck living with Larabee.
Larabee who walked around naked.
Clay shuddered again, putting the milk back in the fridge. At least this was one of the suits that shrunk with him. He had a very limited wardrobe these days. Being broke, he was lucky that he had a few things soaking in a vat of coffee to purge the other smells, or he’d have nothing now.
And he’d be forced to go around naked.
Which might actually make Larabee happy.
And that made Clayton shudder again.
“Are you going to hold that against me for the rest of my life?”
Clayton swallowed hard and looked over at Larabee. At least this time the man had clothes on. “Do you have any idea what you just said? Can you just… never talk again? No talking. And always clothes. Then we might be okay again.”
“Speak for yourself, midget.”
“It is not like I asked for this. I didn’t choose to become five years old. It just happened. Whereas you and the naked thing—that was a choice.”
“Fine. If you are home, I will not go around naked again. Promise.”
“If I’m home? So you’ll wander around the house naked if I’m not here?” Clay shook his head again. “No, you know what, I’m just going to apply for another loan and get another job and then I can maybe afford a place to live. Once I have that, I’ll never bother you again.”
“What about me being your tech and science guy?” Larabee asked, looking hurt. He sighed. “Come on. I know your secret. You need my help. I even started looking for your parents. Of course, they seem to be off the grid, but I did start looking. I’m not that bad of a guy. I even helped you with your clothes problem.”
Clayton sighed. “I know. I’m not saying you’re a bad person, Larabee. You’re definitely not a good roommate, though.”
“Because I walked around naked once?”
“The bathroom needs a hazmat team after you use it.”
Larabee frowned. “That was after taco night.”
“Every night is taco night for you.”