The wind is howling. The rain lands on their roof like a gatling gun run amok. Lee groans and turns to his side, trying once again to fall asleep before a stray guitar note coaxes him to give up. He leaves his bed behind and walks towards the light of a dim lamp in the living room.
“Oh!” Jon twists to look at him. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to wake you—”
“Wasn’t you,” Lee yawns, slowly padding over and leaning his elbows on the back of the sofa, pressing his lips to the top of the other’s head. “Can’t sleep either?” he asks and receives a whine in response.
“It sounds like hail,” Jon complains, looking up at him with a pout on his lips.
“Could be,” Lee agrees and bends to give him another kiss, softer, longer. “It’s that time of the year already…” he murmurs between their mouths, caressing a craning neck.
“Hmm,” Jon nudges their noses together before they part. He thumbs a few more notes and then fixes his pick between two strings, putting the guitar aside. “Tea?” he smiles with some excitement. “We can try that one with roses…?”
Lee gives him a lazy smile and nod. “Sure.” He moves towards the kitchen island and fills a kettle with water. “Working on something new?” he calls out, fishing a pair of cups out of the cabinet.
“Hmm… no. Waiting to,” Jon answers, massaging his own neck. He looks like he hasn’t slept in several days which, knowing the man, may well be true. “The inspiration well is a little dry these days.”
As the kettle boils, Lee rests on the counter and watches the other. He looks so small and sleepy. Sometimes Lee likes to make himself just as small so he can fit in the curve of the other’s neck. Sometimes he likes to be as big as possible so he can enshroud Jon in an unrelenting embrace. Tonight, he isn’t sure yet which he’d rather be. Tonight, he just wants to watch for a while before he decides on his final form.
“What fills it up again?” he asks. “Is there something that can help?”
Jon shrugs, reclining against the backrest. His fingers muss his hair, his eyes have a drowsy little droop in their corners. Lee likes when he looks like that—like they’ve just separated after a long night bound tightly together. He can imagine the stickiness on his fingers, breath rushing out of bitten lips, golden sweat on golden muscles and tiny convulsions gripping them both. He can imagine Jon under him, just like that, and it makes him smile.
“Usually depends on my mood at the time.”
“And how’s your mood right now?”
“Mm, sleepy?” Jon giggles. “Tired, but also… restless. Like I really want to do something but I just. Don’t have any energy for it. Impatient—”
“To try the tea?” Lee asks, then chuckles when a cushion is aimed at him. He saunters back to the other and slumps down next to him. Jon doesn’t waste any time to lay across his lap, snuggling into his stomach.
“Mm, hold me like this until I wake up,” his muffled voice instructs.
“Hey, I need to sleep too, you know?”
“No!” Jon childishly insists.
“Ah, this person…!” Lee playfully grips the other’s head and gives it a gentle shake before soothing over the scalp. Drawing circles on the man’s back, he thinks of the times Jon sounds wild and angry before he calms into shaking tears. Sometimes Lee waits for hours until there’s a tug at his sleeve. Sometimes Lee moves in slowly and gathers Jon in a hug that he doesn’t release out of fear that the other will disappear. Tonight, he’s calm and soft. Tonight he’s not trying to run from anything. It’s a relief.
With a sigh, Lee settles back and closes his eyes while his fingers idle on the shell of a pierced ear. He can hear the kettle gurgling and spitting steam where it sits. He’ll get up in a few minutes to serve them.
He wakes up with a jolt when he hears a rattling sound nearby. The lamp is still on, the weather is still wild. Darkness persists outside their windows. The comfortable weight of another body is gone from his legs, and he finds he’s alone on the sofa.
“Jon,” Lee calls out, a little worried, a little panicked. Sleep is still hanging off of him. It replaces rationality for a while. “Jon!” he tries again in a firmer tone. There is no answer. He feels around the cushions for his phone, for something he can use to reach the other.
Another rattle pushes him to his feet. He moves swiftly through the house, checking the rooms he passes until he’s at the laundry.
“Jon,” he sighs with relief.
The other is struggling to close a vent high in the wall. “Ah, damn it…” he curses before trying again. When his hand clasps the lever and lifts it away from the lock, the panel slides inwards and clicks shut, suddenly cutting a wind off mid-howl. “Finally…” Jon brushes his hands on his shorts and descends the step ladder, folding it away. “The rain was getting in so I—”
His explanation remains incomplete when Lee pulls him close and holds him tight. He doesn’t justify his fear, because he doesn’t fully understand it himself. But the dread that Jon could quietly leave him behind without a word, the horror of realising he has been abandoned for good… it thrives inside Lee. He doesn’t remember when the feeling made a home for itself in his gut. He can’t say with any certainty if it’s still as powerful as when it was born. But it exists, and sometimes it races out along his limbs, gripping him as hard as he presses Jon to himself.
“Hey…” the man murmurs, fingers hesitating on Lee’s arms before they clench around his biceps. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
Sometimes, when they’re on the verge of an argument, Lee cracks a joke and breathes relief into the tense air between them. Sometimes, as silences stretch too long and steady in the house, Lee hums until Jon joins in with a grin and interesting trivia about the song. Sometimes, if they’re far too drunk, and one of them says things they don’t really mean, Lee wakes up the next day and acts like it never happened, encouraging the other to do the same. But tonight, he feels vulnerable and a little protective, even though Jon is so close at hand. Tonight, he’s not sure what to do or say, he’s not as in control as he likes to be. The walls of their home don’t seem strong enough to help him keep up his walls.
I like how you smell of rain, he wants to brush the anxiety away in a whisper. His embrace grows tighter still.
“Eh?” Jon gives a little chuckle at the rise in pressure around his waist, raking his hands through Lee’s hair. “What’s this, all of a sudden?”
I like how you feel, Lee continues to huff against the other’s shoulder. When I’m holding you like this. I like how you feel real.
Another chuckle is given, but it seems less certain of itself. “Hey, what’s going on? You’re being weird.”
I like the way you look when you ask me for something, and your face gets so sweet. Lee’s mouth travels to Jon’s ear, hushing his unspoken praises against the place. I like when I can give you anything you ask me for.
“Hey,” Jon finally grows a little unsure, holding the back of Lee’s head with worry. “What’s wrong?”
I like that I can kiss you, and you kiss me back. I like that I can be with you, and you keep holding onto me. I like that I can love you, and you love me back.
“I miss you,” Lee admits.
There’s a pause in the air after his admission, as if the world has stilled around them. “I’m—I’m right here,” Jon consoles, even as the hug grows a little painful. He doesn’t try to leave or pry them apart. He stays. “I’m here, see?”
“I miss you,” Lee repeats, holding the other’s jaw, leaning their foreheads together. “I miss you so much.”
Sometimes, Jon is frustrated with the speed of life. Sometimes, he’s inconsolable and refuses to leave their bed, refusing to eat or sleep or even talk. Sometimes, he finds ways to steal more of Lee’s attention than he really needs. Sometimes, his worries are big enough to rival planets, and he can’t find the words to even begin describing them. Sometimes, he sobs and yells and tears at his hair because no one understands him. No one truly understands who he is or what makes him. Not even Lee—despite all the love and attention he gives out so freely, despite his concern and comforting rationality, not even a man like him can fully decipher what holds at Jon’s core. But tonight, he shows no weakness. He shines bright as a star, holding a twinkle in his eyes and a supernova in the warmth of his hands. Tonight, Jon is not the one who needs consoling.
He cranes back to join their gazes. “Hey,” he whispers, a smile playing on his lips. “I’m here.”