"Hello, Slave," Nathan whispered into his lover's ear. He had anticipated this moment all day long; sneaking up behind Erik as he waited on the veranda of their favorite cafe, caressing his ear with the softest of voices, and watching as Erik's hands clenched the edges of the table in reaction. That was what was supposed to happen, but in reality Erik jumped like he'd been bit somewhere tender, dumped his cappucino in his lap, and threw himself up and back to escape the hot drink, driving his head into Nathan's chin as he did so. Nathan dropped instantly, not exactly unconscious but not really aware of his surroundings either. Erik was in too much pain himself to notice, and as Nathan slowly began to come to his senses, the first thing he saw was Erik being fussed over by a handsome waiter who dabbed at the top of Erik's head with a damp towel while Erik mopped the coffee from his lap. Neither of them paid any attention to Nathan, who carefully stood up, using the decorative railing around a nearby tree for stability. "Are you okay?" He asked Erik. "Erik! Are you okay?" Erik stopped cleaning himself and turned to Nathan, patting the arm of the helpful waiter as he moved. "I'm fine. What were you thinking? You know I hate it when you call me that! And look, I'm bleeding!" The waiter brandished the towel, which might have had a trace of blood on it, in Nathan's direction. "And my slacks are ruined. This coffee is going to be impossible to get out. I'm going to have to buy another pair, and do you know how hard it's going to be for me to find this exact style again? I can't even talk to you right now, I'm too upset." He stalked off the veranda, followed by the helpful waiter, leaving Nathan alone and stunned, trying to figure out how his little fantasy had gone so completely wrong. He and Erik had been dating for 9 months, and while Erik had in fact mentioned that he didn't like it when Nathan called him "slave", Nathan had thought he was joking. "Slave" was Nathan's pet name for Erik because that was how they'd met, corresponding on YouTube, where Nathan had a hypnosis for entertainment channel and Erik had been one of his subscribers. Nathan's slave hypnosis videos were quite popular, both the vanilla variety and the videos for more mature viewers. Erik had left a funny comment on one of those videos, Nathan had answered him, and they had kept the conversation going in the comments for days, until one of the other subscribers had none-to-politely suggested that they take their talk elsewhere. Nathan had never figured out if Erik had actually watched the video on which he had commented; when they finally met up in real life Nathan had greeted Erik by saying "Hello Slave" and Erik had laughed in response, so Nathan had kept doing it. It had been six months into their relationship before Erik had finally admitted that he hadn't actually seen the video, that he had been at a friend's house and commented after his buddy had watched the video, and that he actually thought that the slave hypnosis videos and the people who watched them were kind of twisted. He had assured Nathan that he didn't think that Nathan was twisted, on the contrary, he thought that Nathan had excellent business instincts, and had started making the most popular kind of videos in order to make more money. That wasn't precisely the case, but Erik brushed Nathan off every time he tried to explain, and eventually he stopped trying. But Erik had never seemed to mind being called "slave" until just a few weeks ago, and had said so in a oddly flippant tone that Nathan had never heard before so he hadn't taken the incident seriously.
"But apparently I should have," he said later to his friend Karsten. "He was really, really angry with me. He didn't even notice that I was hurt, he just kept going on and on about his damn pants. Those pants aren't even that special." Karsen nodded sympathetically from behind her glass partition. She was the receptionist for Nathan's dentist, and he had loosened a crown when his jaws had been knocked together by Erik's head. "He doesn't even know I'm at the dentist. He doesn't even care."
"Well, Sweater, I wouldn't want to be called "slave" either, but I understand why you thought it was cute."
"As long as you keep calling me "Sweater", I don't think you get to have an opinion about what I call people. I'm tired of being categorized by the fashion choices I made during the 90s. And my sweaters were nice."
"Yes, they were very nice, and if I recall correctly, you had a different one for every day of the year, hence the fuzzy nickname. And, I might point out, even though I know you don't like it, I'm going to keep using it, because even though you grumble I know you love me too much to really fight about it."
"You think Erik doesn't love me."
"I know Erik doesn't love you, and so do you. He doesn't say he loves you, he doesn't act like he loves you, he treats you like dirt, and you bend over backwards and let him every time. And what's more, I don't think you love him either, I think you just want to have someone around so you won't have to listen to your own thoughts."
"There's nothing wrong with my thoughts."
"How would you know, you've never stopped to listen to them. Now go back and sit down while you wait for your appointment, I've got work to do up here. I buried today's paper behind the knitting magazines for you, no one's done the crossword yet."
"Fine, I'll go sulk by myself."
"You do that. Love you Sweater."
"I love you too, Karsten, but I'm not sure why."