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Lost Men

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When he was in college, Peter would excuse himself from bars and parties and study groups to have hushed phone conversations in hallways and bathrooms and porches, from which he would return, his emotions transforming his face. Frequently his mouth would be turned up in a giddy smile, his spirits light and turning his good mood on everyone. Sometimes his face would be twisted with anger and he would snap at everyone who spoke to him. Very occasionally, he'd return to the bar or party or study group with soft, sad eyes and a rueful, heartbreaking smile and only stay long enough to make his apologies before slipping away.

Every once in a while, he would disappear on a Friday and turn up again on the Monday. He'd be spotted climbing out of a black Lincoln town car that would drop him off outside his dorm building early in the morning. Those paying attention, and more than a few did thanks to his looks and friendly nature, would notice that it wasn't always the same car, but always the same style- sleek and official.

Over the four years Peter had three girlfriends and one boyfriend, who all thought Peter was cheating on them. When they asked him who he'd been talking to, who it was he was seeing when he disappeared, Peter always pushed his hands into their hair or around the back of their neck or cupped their jaw and said "my brother," before pulling them in for a kiss.

Inevitably, when Peter was next away for the weekend, a strikingly handsome man in a crisp suit with dark hair and eyes that matched Peter's would come up to the room and introduce himself as, "Nathan, Pete's big brother". The girl (not the boy, never the boy) would be suitably and sufficiently disarmed enough that they never asked again, simply smiled understandingly whenever Peter ducked out for a phone call or cancelled on weekend plans. And when several weeks later, Peter took his hand in theirs and broke up with them so calmly and compassionately that in the end they thought it was their idea, they never once thought about the broad shouldered, dark haired man who seemed to take up every spare moment of Peter's time.

These days, Peter and Nathan don't speak on the phone anymore. They meet in offices and bedrooms and their family home and don't speak much at all. Peter waits, invisible, in the corner of Nathan's office until they're alone. Peter waits a long time as Nathan is rarely alone, and if anyone has noticed that Nathan is tense and irritable a lot of the time, they haven't mentioned it. After all, in a presidential candidate a little paranoia is a good thing, especially these days. When they are finally, blessedly alone, Peter pushes Nathan down onto the desk, licking into his mouth as his fingers pull at Nathan's tie. Sometimes he lets Nathan see him, sometimes he doesn't. Peter cups Nathan's face in his hand, long fingers covering his marred jaw. Nathan reaches up and drags his thumb down the scar that bisects Peter's face, the ridges solid under his fingers reassuring him when Peter is still invisible. They don't talk because there is nothing to say. Peter destroyed half of New York, and Nathan covered it up.

One day, Peter will not come and Nathan will not be waiting. Peter can feel it in the way Nathan kisses him and the way he strokes a hand up Peter's side. Every time could be their last. Peter is a wanted terrorist and Nathan is under threat of assassination, and every time Nathan kisses him, before Peter steps back and fades away, it feels like goodbye.