“More or less,” he said. “Why?”
“Because I’m not, which means you have to keep talking.”
One corner of his mouth kicked up. “Do I.”
“Yes,” I said, and pointed my chopsticks at his arms. “Tell me about these. You’re not in some kind of motorcycle gang, are you?”
He snorted. “I am not.” He moved his empty bowl aside and laid his left arm on the table, pushing his sleeve up to his elbow. His forearm was covered in blue and black and yellow splatter, outlines of symbols I didn’t recognize, and what looked like squares of embroidery in red and black. He dragged his hand over his arm as if he needed to touch them to remember what they meant.
I don’t know why I thought I would able to eat while he did this.
“So,” he said, pointing at a three-pronged symbol splashed with blue and yellow, “this is a tryzub, which is basically the coat of arms of Ukraine. The blue and gold, those are the colors of the Ukrainian flag; blue sky, golden wheat. And this”—he tapped the red and black squares that faded behind the tryzub—“is a traditional Ukrainian embroidery pattern.”
The waiter came up and asked us if we were done. I hadn’t touched my Pho since Sean had laid his arm on the table, so yeah, probably I was done. He took our bowls and vanished.
Sean flipped his arm over, showing me veins branching blue like tributaries under his skin. Two medieval-style lions bracketed an elegant script I couldn’t read, above a minimalist skyline I didn’t recognize. He dragged his finger over the text as he said, “‘Where you come from is part of where you’re going.’ It’s an Anthony Burgess quote.”
“Cyrillic?” I guessed.
“Can you say it in Ukrainian?”
He grinned. “Zvidky vy rodom ye chastynoyu toho, de vy zbyrayetesya.”
I let out a theatrical sigh and rested my chin in my hands. He laughed. “You could’ve told me to go to hell, and I’d ask you repeat yourself.”
“I’d never tell you that, cupcake.”
“Suck-up,” I muttered. “So what is this?” I tapped the skyline on his skin, then jerked my hand back like I’d been burned. “God. Sorry. Rude.”
“How was that rude?”
“It’s rude to just—I don’t know. Touch people without their permission.”
He cocked his head and smiled at me. “Are you asking for permission to touch me?”
Oh my God. “I—no? Yes? What’s the correct answer here?”
His grin widened and I wanted to crawl under the table. “It’s okay,” he said. “You can touch me if you want to.”