Building Family (S1, E2)

Season content notes: transphobia mention, ableism,

Emeka knew he was on the right track. He needed to find someone (or several someones) who’d want to make a home with him. Finding that person was the challenge.

He had three polyam partners. Jenna was a casual partner he saw every few weeks when their schedules meshed. Shayna was a fairly serious partner — they had a weekly date night and tried to spend a weekend each month. And Bertina and he were comets. They ‘flew’ in and out of each other’s lives a few times a year. Bertina would visit again next month for a couple of weeks.

He hadn’t ever talked about living together with any of them. Becoming nesting partners hadn’t seemed in the cards. Hell, Bertina lived in Connecticut, so it wasn’t even a reasonable question. Right? Things changed, though. Just because it hadn’t been in the cards when he was living in a crappy apartment didn’t mean it wasn’t worth asking now.

The fire alarm started blaring, interrupting his thoughts. Emeka opened his eyes to see smoke pouring off the pot on the stove. “Fuck!” He pulled the pot off the stove, then rushed to silence the fire alarm. One advantage of living in a house — no neighbors complaining about the alarm going off. Of course, that didn’t help with dinner.

Disgusted, he dumped the charred remains of the pasta into the garbage and grabbed the menu for the local pizza place. Looked like it was going to be delivery again.

Some things never changed — his ability to burn anything among them. Wanting it wouldn’t make him a better cook — or, he realized, change the course of his relationships.

He’d have let it go at that, but he needed to try something or he was going to fall into another funk. So he kept turning the idea over. No, he’d never talked about living together with either Jenna or Shayna. But that meant they’d never said anything about not wanting to live together. He could at least have the conversation.

The last time he’d seen Jenna was shortly before his parents’ lawyer got a hold of him. She’d been having troubles with her landlord. Jenna’s apartment building was a mess. Not quite as bad as Emeka’s old place, but it was going to get there if the landlord didn’t start making repairs. The asshole had been dodging her calls about a leak in the ceiling — not something you wanted to ignore. She said she was sticking it out because she liked how close it was to downtown, but no one needed a ceiling coming down on their head.

The smell of burnt past permeated the kitchen. Emeka opened a window the clear the air and retreated back to his computer. He could still smell the smoke there, but it wasn’t as bad. He flipped through the menu for the pizza parlor, even though he knew what he’d order. Hell, he’d been living on take-out the past two weeks while he got his stuff moved in and settled.

The last time Jenna’d cooked for him, she made a stir fry. Beef and onions with chopped peppers. He had no idea what she seasoned it with. The onions and peppers had been dotted with black bits from the spices she’d tossed in the pan. It had tasted amazing. God knew when he’d have food like that again.

With a sigh of regret, he dialed the pizza place. 30 minutes and he’d have something to eat for dinner.

Pizza ordered, Emeka decided he needed a distraction. Something to get him out of his head. He pulled up a new browser tab and hopped on the Big Blue. Facebook was a steaming pile of shit most days, but you could always count on it to distract you from your own troubles. Or at least that was Emeka’s opinion. Shayna had closed up her account last year and swore she’d never get on again. As soon as the page loaded, he glanced at the top corner and froze. 68 notifications. What the fuck?

Top of his feed was a picture of a long-haired white guy wearing fancy sunglasses, suspenders over a dress shirt (only half-buttoned), black slacks, and bright blue socks covered with jumping sheep. Emeka had never seen the guy before. No caption, no description. It wasn’t until he looked at the comments that it started to make sense. Someone had leaked a picture of Dr. Who’s next Companion — whoever he would be.

Whovians — a fan group that included a good chunk of his friends — were going wild. Speculating like crazy about what the character would be like, where he came from, so on and so forth. Usual fandom feeding frenzy. Having a suspicion, he clicked over to his notifications. Yup, he was being tagged in dozens of Dr. Who posts. That’s what most of those 68 notifications were. Watch a show for a single season and never hear the end of it.

He read the first two or three posts just to keep up with what his friends were into. Then started scrolling. It was a couple of pages until he saw the first non-Whovian post. Jenna had shared a long-ish writing. Looking forward to seeing her thoughts, he clicked on ‘Read more’ to see what she’d been up to.

Looked like someone a polyamory group had been talking shit about solo polyamory. It happened from time to time, assholes who thought anyone who didn’t do it ‘their way’ was doing it wrong. Jenna, also as usual, didn’t take shit like that lying down. But this post was different. Instead of defending sole polyamory in general, Jenna was claiming it. She was solo polyam, and no matter how committed she was to a partner, she would always need her own home and her own space… Had she ever told him she was solo polyam? He didn’t think so.

By the time he’d finished reading, he had another half dozen notifications filled with Whovian chatter. He had tried to get into the show a few years ago; it would have been nice to share that fandom with his friends. But he just couldn’t care.

However much he might like the idea, asking Jenna about moving in would be a mistake. It would be like one of his friends trying to get him into Dr. Who again. Landlord problems or no landlord problems, he needed to respect her needs. But where did it leave him?

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