january 12, 2021 — january bingo scene — gigi stanich & theo tate

Maybe most 23-year-old girls wouldn't be excited to be moving in with their college professor older cousin, but Gigi certainly was. Not just because she was currently living with three roommates and barely had space to breathe half the time, but also because Theo had always been one of her favorite people — definitely one of her favorite family members. Even when she'd been a kid she'd looked up to him (literally and figuratively) so she was happy with their shared apartment plans. Really, if anything, she half-expected Theo to have second thoughts about living with her, but that hadn't happened. Yet.

She knocked on the door of Theo's current abode, where he lived with actual grown ups like himself, which wasn't intimidating or anything. Shifting her weight from side to side, she waited patiently for the door to open, at which point she lifted the bag of takeout she was holding and smiled. "I brought tacos!"

He'd told Ro recently that the last few years of his life had gone by in such a blur it almost felt as though he hadn't aged. He had a wide variety of friends of varying ages — younger than him, his age, much older. Theo didn't think much about it, at the end of the day. He knew, though, that at thirty, it was about time he got his own place. Not his own own — he was a far cry away from being able to afford to buy something himself, especially in San Francisco, but River and Spencer had their beautiful thing growing, and Theo wanted to be involved, but also to give them the space they deserved. It would be a good change — closer to school, an easy trip into the city, down to Oakland, and then there was the chance to live with Gigi again, and that wasn't something he'd have given up lightly.

She was, similarly, his favorite cousin. When he opened the door and saw her there, tacos and all and big smile, he matched it and wrapped his arms around her to drag her into a tight hug, a cheek to cheek kiss pressed against her own. "Are you psychic?" He joked. "I was starving. Thinking about tacos all day." He stepped aside, letting her in. River's place was — genuinely — insane, and Theo knew they wouldn't be living anywhere as nice and huge and perfect, but he was still excited to carve out his own little space in the world.

"Come in, come in, come relax, I'm just packing a little bit. Nothing too crazy yet, haven't signed a lease, but — you know. Getting prepared."

She returned his hug as best she could without dropping their food, melting into the tightness of it a bit. Hugs were her favorite, she loved them, and she hated that when she'd been sick it felt like people were afraid they'd break her if they gave her a good, solid one. But Theo gave great hugs, which wasn't a reason she'd moved to San Francisco and now was going to be living with him, but it wasn't not a reason either.

"Well I'm glad you're hungry because I ordered half the menu." Gigi slipped past him to get inside, and she'd been there before but it was always ridiculous to experience. She had no idea what she'd do if she had a place that size, other than figure out what the opposite of claustrophobia was. "Prepared is good. I don't think it'll take me very long to pack my tiny room, but I will have to search through all the other ones to see if anyone has my stuff..."

Theo let out a laugh, imagining Gigi digging through her roommates' cupboards and drawers like a mouse searching for any bits and pieces of her belongings that may have ended up scattered throughout the apartment. "They better help you." He followed up, giving a quick huff as if he were the very protective older sibling type and not at all the least intimidating person in all of San Francisco. He closed the door behind them nonetheless and went to fetch some plates from the kitchen — a fair distance away — and set them on the island and pulled up a stool for Gigi to sit herself while he divested her of the food and began lifting it out to make a spread for them.

Theo followed up by sitting shortly after, poking around to find some pita chips, with which he immediately began scooping spicy sauce to shovel into his mouth. He hummed with appreciation and started poking at whatever else she'd ordered, making a mental note to make sure she didn't leave today without him slipping her some cash to cover it. "How've you been?" He asked with a full mouth.

"I'm sure they will, they're nice." Her roommates weren't thieves or anything, she hadn't meant to insinuate they might be, but she knew for sure she'd let one of them borrow some clothes that had never found their way back to her closet. Little things that could be gathered up easily enough, it was just a matter of actually doing it. Gigi settled on the stool at the island, propping her feet on the crossbar of it so they wouldn't be dangling.

"I've been okay! Just working and stuff." She pulled one of the tacos over to her plate, eating about half of it before speaking again. "Everything okay with you? Work, life, nothing to worry about?"

Nothing to worry about? God. Theo was fairly sure he had a lot to worry about. Like the web-shooters he'd tucked away in his bedroom, though both River and Spencer knew what was going on with him there — they were dealing with something similar, after all. But he didn't exactly want to burden Gigi with the knowledge that her best cousin turned into someone else once a month and had started climbing onto rooftops at night to fight crime. Or, well, kind of gently try to stop crime from happening — Theo hadn't quite gotten to the whole gung-ho hero thing yet. But it was building, and he came home with bruises more often than not.

So instead, he just cleared his throat, pretended like some spicy salsa had gone down the wrong way and chugged his water before he could reply. "Oh, yeah, me? Boring. Boring old me. Working lots. Doing a lot of consultant work." There was another thing — secret agent shit. Theo sighed internally. He flashed Gigi a light smile. "I'm excited for the new place, though."

Maybe Gigi had been hungrier than she thought, considering by the time Theo finished talking she'd practically inhaled the last half of her taco and was polishing off a second. Whatever, there was plenty and it wasn't like anyone was going to judge her. She rolled her eyes a little at his initial answer, taking a sip of her water before saying anything in response.

"You're not boring," she commented with a shake of her head. "Just because you work a lot. What's the consulting stuff? Like, at the school?" She sat up a little more, resting her arms against the island. "I'm excited too! You're sure you won't mind my plants in, like, the living room and kitchen, right? They're so crammed together in my room."

Theo rolled his eyes to match hers, but he was happy, and it was an affectionate reaction. Of course she'd think that — she'd give him far too much credit when none was due, but he couldn't fault her really, since he'd have done the exact same. His childhood had been so transient for so long, it was nice to have such a close relationship with a family member that wasn't his mother or his uncle.

"No, I consult — not at the school." He swallowed something quick, always bad at lying when it came to the specifics of the CSA. "Boring government stuff." And before she could say it wasn't boring again, he wrinkled his nose at her. "I promise it's really, actually boring. Just like, going through records, checking that everything is accurate." For Theo, though, it was exciting — good busywork that he enjoyed. "You can put your plants all over." Theo grinned. "I'll try not to kill them. But seriously, you could fill the whole house with plants, as far as I'm concerned. And there's even a backyard. We could have a vegetable patch."

Gigi had been about to object to him saying it was boring, but pursed her lips to listen as he went on. Her nose mirrored his, wrinkling at his description of the work. "Ew, government stuff. No wonder it's boring. Do you at least get to listen to music or podcasts or something while you do it? If you have to sit there in the quiet and go over records... no thanks."

She brightened up about her plants though, feet unhooking from the bar on the stool to swing back and forth a bit. "You won't kill them, just leave them alone and it'll be fine. A garden would be so nice, though! I'll look up what the best things to plant are and when and all that, we can have vegetables and herbs and all kinds of things!"

Theo smiled, glad at least that she'd accepted it was boring. He shrugged, "I could listen to things, but I kind of ... don't mind the quiet." He wrinkled his nose, understanding that it made him sound equally as boring as the work he was doing, but in the grand scheme of things work had become a lot less simple and boring in recent weeks. He brightened as she did too, about her plants and their plans for their future shared apartment.

With a laugh, he held his hands up in surrender. "I'll leave them alone, I promise. We could. I'm not a green thumb but I can help plant things and follow a schedule — or draw up a schedule — for watering them."

They were a lot different that way. Gigi felt like she always needed to be listening to something, whether she was reading, doing the dishes, anything. If she was the one reading over government records for hours and hours, she'd definitely want to be listening to some music. But it didn't come as a surprise that Theo didn't mind the quiet.

"We can definitely make a schedule, especially for the garden! I'm very sticker motivated so we can even have a little chart to mark off what we've done." She beamed, reaching for another taco. "I'm really excited, Theo."

Theo laughed, tilting his head so he could rest his cheek in his hand as he watched her. "You're in luck, because I'm one of those professor types that keeps so many gold star stickers everywhere. You'll never go without stickers while you're living with me. I hand them out for like — anything, too." He shrugged, grinning again, and turning so he could shovel another bit of taco into his mouth.

At her beaming, he smiled too, waiting to finish his bite before he nodded. "I'm excited too. I love living here with River and Spence, but - you know. It's good to feel like an adult, probably, even though I haven't felt like I've aged for years now."

"I bet your students love that. Gold stars are the best." Anything to make it feel special, really. Gigi was sure that no matter how old someone got, earning a sticker would always bring at least a little zing of happiness — whether they admitted it or not.

"No, I know what you mean. I think it'll be nice to have a place that feels like... ours, you know? My apartment, it's not like I was the first one there then got roommates. It was never mine."

Theo gave another little huff of laughter, shrugging lightly. "Hopefully." He focused instead on what she was saying in regards to the house — and understood completely. He nodded, spinning some sauce this way and that with a chip.

"I know what you mean. Since I've been in SF, I've mostly moved from place to place, kind of just... figuring it out as I went, living in shoeboxes until River let me stay here. It'll be nice, you know, to have an actual house, even if we don't own it, but it'll feel like... we can do anything we want. And there's actually room to do it in." Theo could remember his very first San Franciscan apartment — which was barely the size of the kitchen they were sitting in presently.

"Yeah, exactly. We don't own it but it's not like an apartment, it feels more permanent and real." Gigi genuinely couldn't wait to move, not because she was unhappy where she was but because what was coming was so much better. Her apartment might have been a good size for two people, but there were four of them so that meant barely any space to breathe. The house, it was almost mind boggling to think of the space they'd have. "It's gonna be so good, Theo. Our own house, just for us!"