Doug Hopkins watches from heaven.

"So... what is this?"
"This? Oh, this, this is what I do. What I always do."
"Fine. Sorry."
"Again, this is what I do. This is what I have to do, to deal, what I have to do when I can't have someone I love."
"It is. I talk to you like this, but it's not you, it's probably more me, but it's a character."
"I'm a character?"
"You were the first."
"That's a lie. I have a folder. I know that wasn't true. There were others. You had characters before me."
"Yeah, but they were just me. You were the first who wasn't. And probably the second, and the third."
"Well, all the ones that worked, I mean. All the characters who were real. Versions, I guess. Parts of you that would stay mine."
"That could get really dirty."
"See? I'm losing you. I don't think you'd actually say that. I hoped you would, if we'd had more time, if we'd had a moment like that. But I don't know about that. What I know is instead you'd have just turned your head slightly, raised an eyebrow. Depending on when, you'd frowned, or smiled."
"The 'when' I was writing you. I mean, it's the 'where' too. The you of a time, and place, and my feelings towards you. Plus, you changed -- you grew up, a little."
"A short joke?"
"Hmph. So, where are we?"
"If we were anywhere."
"We'd be outside."
"And it'd be cold. I like the cold. On a porch, something collegiate. An old white house, badly painted, chipping, probably one too many of us living in it to begin with. A red porch, a broken swing. Some ledges to sit on. So you could smoke."
"This 'when' I smoke."
"Nowadays, you always do. And you came out to smoke. And I just came out after. I do that a lot. Enter, en media res. Interrupt your privacy. Catch you one-on-one. It's how I always like you."
"And you like me?"
"In this? No, no, not anymore. I mean, maybe a little, whatever changes, but no, right here, right now, I want this. Inside, there's a boy for you who's not me. But outside there are just two old friends, and one's having a smoke, and thinking. And the other's watching that. Probably thinking too."
"You? No."
"You've had that exchange with all of them."
"Yeah. Maybe that's me."
"Hm. Well, so I'm smoking, and it's cold. And it's snowing."
"Now who's the character?"
"And what do you say to me? What am I thinking, and what do you think I'm thinking, and how do you plan on making it better, before I finish smoking, and go inside?"
"Not my place to make it better."
"So... what is this?"
"This is me having something I can't have. You and me, out on the porch, in the snow, and you're smoking. And that's all. That, and it'll be okay."

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