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Where There's Smoke

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Richard doesn't smoke. If you went up to him and asked, 'Hey Richard, do you smoke?' he'd say no. And probably give you a funny look. Because he's Richard, and he doesn't smoke.

Unless there's only a single cigarette left in the house. Then it's guaranteed that he's the one who'll smoke it.

Richard buys the cigarettes. Because Paul's a bitch when he's stuck without, and it's cheaper than rescuing Tim from the bars he gets swallowed into when he goes to buy his own. He'll write his name on each pack, in big clear letters. And then when Paul goes off at him, saying witty things like "Hey," and "Who the fuck do you think you are?" Richard'll brandish the now-crumpled packet between his first and second fingers, as if to say "Rightful owner, sweetie."

He'll blow a puff of smoke into Paul's face from his seat - a kitchen chair dragged over to the window, his feet propped up on the sill. The only reason Paul doesn't spit on him in return is because he's got the remnants of a cigarette burn on his stomach from the last time he did. Richard'll look back out the window, his eyelids lowered.

Later on, Tim - who's holding a bit of a flame - will ask Richard what he thinks about with his eyes closed, and Richard'll say "Being anywhere but here." Anywhere but Canberra with its no furniture and two mattresses and carpet that's mostly organic by now. And smell's like Paul. Anywhere but the fucked-up place where Paul's the one getting laid.

Richard's eyes are closed when Tim kisses him, and despite the lingering smell of vindictive nicotine, his mouth tastes nothing like ash, nothing like burning up inside.

Because Richard doesn't smoke.