The water that falls on you from nowhere when you lie is perfectly ordinary' but perfectly pure. True fact. I tested it myself when the water started falling a few weeks ago. Everyone on Earth did. Everyone with any sense of lab safety anyway. Never assume any liquid is just water. When you say "I always document my experiments as I go along'" enough water falls to test' but not so much that you have to mop up the lab. Which lie doesn't matter. The liquid tests as distilled water every time. Uttering "this sentence is false" or some other paradox leaves you with such a sense of angst' so filled with the sense of an impending doom' that most people don't last five seconds before blurting something unequivocal. So' of course' holding out for as long as possible has become the latest craze among drunk frat boys and hard men who insist on root canals without an anesthetic. Psychologists are finding the longer you wait' the more unequivocal you need to be to ever find solace. Gus is up to a minute now and I wish he'd blurt something unequivocal. He's neither drunk' nor a frat boy. His shirt' soaked with sweat' clings to a body that has spent twenty-seven too many hours a week at the gym. His knees lock stiff' his jeans stretched across his tensed thighs. His face shrinks as if he were watching someone smash kittens with a hammer. It's a stupid game. Maybe in a few more weeks the fad will pass. I don't know why he asked me to watch him go through with it this time' and I don't know why I'm actually doing it. Watching him suffer is like being smashed to death with a hammer myself. At least Gus is asking for it. I know I'm supposed to be rooting for him to hold on for as long as possible' but I just want him to stop. He's hurting so much and I can't stand to watch anymore. "I love you' Matt." Gus's smile is radiant. He tackles me on the couch and smothers me in a kiss' and at first' I kiss him back. Not only does no water fall on him' but all the sweat evaporates from his body. His shirt is warm and dry. A light' spring breeze from nowhere covers us. He smells of flowers and ozone. This makes me uneasier than if he'd been treated to a torrent. That' at least' I'd understand. I'd be sad' but I'd understand. He's unbuttoned and unzipped my jeans when my mind snaps back to the here and now. It's not that his body doesn't have more in common with Greek statues than actual humans. It's not that he can't explicate Socrates at lengths that leave my jaw unhinged. It's that not only did "I love you' Matt" pull him out of his angst' but it actually removed water. Fundamental laws of physics do that. Profound theorems of mathematics do that. "I love you' Matt" doesn't count as a powerful statement that holds true for all time and space. Except when Gus says it' apparently. "Wait." I let go of him. My hands reach down to slide to a sit. Gus stops instantly. He's skittered back before my hands have even found the couch cushions. His head tilts up at me. This is the man who seconds ago risked going insane in order to feel soul-rending pain for fun. How can he suddenly look so vulnerable? Oh' if there's anything Gus can do' it's put up a brave front. He does that stony-faced thing where his mouth is set in a grim' straight line better than anyone I know. But behind his hard' blue eyes' I can see the fear that's not there even when some paradox rips him apart. Best to take the pain now. I'm half-convinced nothing can actually hurt him' even when he's afraid it might. It'd only hurt him more later. "That's some display you just did there' Gus." I'm stalling. Stop that. "I don't love you' not as much as you obviously love me." The water that falls on you from nowhere is freezing cold. I slip on the couch' but it just follows me. When it's this much water' it numbs you to the bone. I want to scream' "What the fuck?" but if I even breathed' I'd drown. Gus tries to shield me' blocking my body with his' but not even he's fast enough. I try to push him out of the downpour. However' he's a mixed martial artist and I'm not. We share everything after the initial shock. The torrent lasts for seconds. We're both soaked and he's laughing so hard that he's fallen off the couch' doubled over on the wet floor' flopping like a fish. I feel like I should be insulted' but his laughter is joyous. It's like the peal of giant bells' low booms that vibrate through you and make everything in the room rattle. I can't tell if those are tears on his face' or just the water from nowhere. My body shakes so hard' I can't stand. The cushions squeak around me' keeping me bathed in ice cold water. Gus stands up. He's not even shivering. He picks me up' wraps me in his arms' then kisses me gently on the forehead.