Lucas, for all his wit and daring and cool, never really had a girlfriend.

He was a foster kid at thirteen, living with a guy who wanted to start a band, who never ended up starting a band. Lucas didn't care about that-- Joe hardly hit him, and he made sure he did his homework. Joe, basically, saved Lucas' ass. Not that they ever discussed it, because Lucas knew and Joe knew and Lucas knew that Joe knew. He had Joe's back.

A lot of years passed, and Lucas went from thirteen to twenty one.

Joe, meanwhile, got only a little older, it seemed.

He hired Lucas at the store he managed -- because the band thing, hard as he tried, fell through -- and eventually Lucas could stock shelves, and handle customers, and even take deliveries, without a problem.

Lucas worked there for a long time. He wanted Joe to notice him.

The thing was, Joe always did.

Joe was never responsible enough to be a parent, and Lucas was never young enough to be a kid, not by the time he'd been abused at thirteen, tossed in juvenile hall, and fostered out to the crackheads.

Joe was a big relief.

But back to the girlfriend issue-- Lucas never had one.

He didn't really have that many friends of any kind, but he never dated. Joe never asked. He didn't have to.

The people at the store, they knew why, sort of, and didn't ask either.

AJ found him, once, reading the local gay newspaper. Lucas blushed a little, and AJ just raised an eyebrow. "Gonna go out dancing, honey?" he'd said, and Lucas had laughed, gratefully, in relief. people weren't gonna say anything until he was ready.

When he went to the little gay bar -- the only one in their town -- AJ offered to go with him. They only stayed for half an hour or so, because neither of them liked disco, and they both opened the next day.

Lucas never picked anyone up. No one asked why, especially not Joe.

It went like this: Lucas was never going to make a move on Joe. But that didn't mean he didn't want to.