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They were somewhere in the south when Brian found the place that was supposed to have the Best Fried Chicken Ever, TM. Bob was fairly certain the restaurant was called that, no joke. He shook Ray a little, because noise never penetrated the headphones and said, "C'mon, fried chicken run."

Ray put the headphones around his neck. "I was actually serious when I said I was never eating chicken again. It's red meat or nothing from here on out."

"Oh, come on. It was me who almost died."

"What's funny to me is that I'm sure, in your head, that was reassuring."

"Not dead yet," Bob said.

"Not due to lack of effort," Ray said, clearly completely unimpressed by his bravado. It was hard having a boyfriend who didn't find Bob's ability to survive nearly anything charming, but Bob figured the pros outweighed the cons.

"Seriously, Ray, they fry the chicken in oil that's roughly a bajillion degrees hot. What the hell is going to survive that? And if it does survive that, don't you think it deserves to kill us?"

Ray just looked at Bob blankly.

Bob tried another tack. "There will be mashed potatoes."

"Now we're talking," Ray said, and set the headphones aside.

"And biscuits and gravy."

"Bring it."

"And you're worried about the chicken killing you?"

"You do realize that it's entirely unnatural that you're not afraid of chicken and fires? You have no survival instinct. That's either extreme stupidity, or a mutant power that hasn't yet been fully unleashed."

"I choose door number two."

Ray laughed. Bob grinned. It wasn't that Ray didn't laugh a fair amount, but when he got into these modes not laughing was a point of pride, so getting him to crack was an equally proud moment.

Ray said, "It just was-- Scary, all right?"

Bob nodded. "Yeah. Believe it or not, for me too."

Ray grabbed Bob's elbow, forcing him to turn into Ray, and kissed him briefly. "Okay."

Bob nodded. "Okay."

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile